I TOOK my inspiration for the forming of the original ULA—the creation of a team—from three different old movies. The stories of all three deal with putting together a small team of diverse talents in order to accomplish a specific mission. The three, in no particular order, are
1.) “Seven Thieves,” starring Rod Steiger, Edward G. Robinson, and a very young Joan Collins. The mission in this instance is the robbery of a casino.
2.) “The Magnificent Seven,” starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. The task is a more noble enterprise: the rescue of a village of farmers from a gang of bandits. A striking parallel to the fight of the ULA against the McSweeney’s Gang.
3.) “The Guns of Navarone,” starring Gregory Peck and David Niven. In this case we have a team of commandos whose objective is to blow up a pair of giant German cannons.
Following these models, I searched for what I gauged to be the most talented and/or striking writing talents in zinedom. Most I corresponded with through snail mail for some time before actually meeting. One I met during a visit to New York City. Another, on the steps of the art museum in Chicago. Another I met in western Pennsylvania when I drove to Philadelphia to lay the groundwork for the ULA campaign. Steve Kostecke I had met first of all, in Cass Corridor Detroit. It was during this meet-up that we first hatched the ideas that led to the ULA. The sixth founding member met the five of us at our Hoboken weekend in October of 2000—almost exactly twelve years ago.
During that weekend we created the necessary unity and morale that kept us focused and together long enough to make our initial explosive waves—which included our CBGB’s debate with George Plimpton, Tom Beller, and their own team of establishment puppies (we destroyed them); the notorious “crash” of a tepid Vanity Fair reading at KGB; and our own kickoff kickass reading at the Amato Opera House in the East Village. We created from the beginning tremendous excitement. Shock waves through the established literary scene. Unfortunately, the team was so explosively volatile, with contentious personalities that matched mine, it immediately began breaking.
Find in the three movies enough clues or speeches about how to run an effective team. You won’t understand where I’m coming from without seeing them.