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The Jumping-Off Place: Politics, Labor, San Diego is Launched!

The Jumping-Off Place: Labor, Politics, Culture, San Diego
Mission Statement

The Jumping Off-Place: Politics, Labor, Culture, San Diego takes its name from Edmund Wilson's famous essay about San Diego in the early 1930s that gave our fair city that moniker in noting its high suicide rate and observing that:
"Here this people, so long told to "go West" to escape from poverty, ill health, maladjustment, industrialism and oppression, discover that, having come West, their problems and diseases still remain and that there is no further to go. Among the sand-colored power plants and hotels, the naval outfitters and waterside cafes, the old spread-roofed California houses with their fine close grain of gray or yellow clapboards—they come to the end of their resources in the empty California sun." 
What we share with Wilson is both his attention to the harsher realities beneath the Chamber of Commerce boosterism that built San Diego and continues to dominate our city's official version of itself, and his sympathy for those suffering from the deep inequities of American life, made harsher by the broken promise of "the empty California sun."  In that spirit, this space will seek to "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable," as the journalist Finley Peter Dunne put it. 
Our goal is to feature voices intent on challenging the local and national hegemony during a time when market forces are destroying news outlets across the country and here in San Diego.  Our politics are generally left, but not driven by sectarian or Democratic Party pieties.  We see ourselves as committed to playing a small part in building a more progressive San Diego by supporting the labor, environmental, and other social justice movements of all stripes rather than elected politicians. 
We are also interested in featuring the arts at a time when there are fewer venues that promote creative work than ever before.  Thus, we aspire to regularly publish short fiction, poetry, book reviews, and writing about all the arts as much as possible and preferably with a San Diego/California focus.
The Jumping Off-Place is an all-volunteer effort that does not claim to play the role of a news outlet but hopes to fill some of the gaps left by the unfortunate decline of our major newspaper and other weekly print outlets.  The voices published here are unpaid as are the editors, so whatever money we make from this endeavor will go to continuing to improve and expand our outlet.


Who We Are… 
Jim Miller is the author of the novels Last Days in Ocean Beach (City Works Press, 2018), Flash (AK Press, 2010), and Drift (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007, 2024). He is also co-author of a history of San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See (with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew on The New Press, 2003 and 2005) and a cultural studies book on working class sports fandom, Better to Reign in Hell: Inside the Raiders Fan Empire (with Kelly Mayhew on The New Press, 2005).
Jim is also the editor of Sunshine/Noir: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana (City Works Press, 2005), Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana (with Kelly Mayhew on City Works Press, 2015), and Democracy in Education; Education for Democracy (AFT 1931, 2007).
He has published poetry, fiction, and non-fiction in a wide range of journals and other publications, and has a weekly column in Words and Deeds (Doug Porter's Substack), a monthly column in the San Diego Union-Tribune's "Community Voices Project," and previously wrote for the San Diego Free Press and the OB Rag.
Jim is a professor of English, Humanities, and Labor Studies at San Diego City College and is the Political Action and Community Outreach Vice President for the American Federation of Teachers Guild, Local 1931.

Kelly Mayhew is the co-author with Mike Davis and Jim Miller of Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See (The New Press) as well as co-author with Jim Miller of Better to Reign in Hell: Inside the Raiders Fan Empire (The New Press), and is co-editor with Alys Masek of Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting (City Works Press), co-editor with Paula S. Rothenberg of Race, Class, and Gender in the United States 9th edition (Worth Publishers), and co-editor with Jim Miller of Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana (City Works Press).
She is also a founding member of the San Diego Writers Collective, which created City Works Press (a progressive, all-volunteer non-profit publishing project that is housed at City College) in 2005, for which she serves as Managing Editor.
Kelly is a professor of English, Humanities, Gender Studies, and Labor Studies at San Diego City College where she also serves as a Vice President for the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1931.
Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal.
He left San Diego in 1974 to become editor of CounterSpy, an anti-establishment publication that constantly probed the undersides of US security practices.
And then, he went away for a few decades, popping up as a restaurateur in the mountains of Virginia and finding his way to the Caribbean. In 2008, he returned to San Diego, once again smitten by the reporting bug. An online version of the San Diego Free Press started up in 2012, and he's written five days a week for most of the past dozen years, pondering issues both local and national.
He won nine awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his daily columns in the San Diego Free Press over a six year period. When that publication folded, he started Words & Deeds.
Doug is a four time cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.


You can find The Jumping-Off Place here!

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"Drift" Events on March 18th and 22nd!

I'm pleased to announce, two upcoming Drift paperback release events on March 18th at 6:30 PM at the downtown San Diego Central Library and on March 22nd at 7:00 PM at The Book Catapult in South Park. Hope to see you there!

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Exciting News! Drift Is now Out in Paperback from University of Oklahoma Press!

I'm very pleased to announce that the paperback edition of my first novel Drift is available for purchase from University of Oklahoma Press here.  It includes a new preface and I will be doing a series of events in San Diego to celebrate the release soon.  Drift, with its focus on San Diego's buried history and gentrifying urban space, was one of the inspirations for the book Kelly Mayhew and I did with Mike Davis, Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See.  Mike read an early draft of Drift, and it was while I was revising it and researching Under the Perfect Sun in the California Room at the old central library that I met Matt Bokovoy, who was then working for OU Press and took an interest in and eventually published the novel.  Originally published in hardcover in 2007, Drift documents San Diego's growing class divide and the real world consequences of our city's relentless theme-parking and tourist boosterism along with peoples' disregard for our marginalized homeless population in a way that emphasizes the humanity of the dispossessed. Updates on the upcoming release events to follow.  

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Updates on Books, Columns, and Future Events

In addition to the Quick Links on this site, you can find all of my "Under the Perfect Sun" columns here at the San Diego Free Press and over at the OB Rag. Links to the Sunshine/Noir II posts can be found here. To see my columns in the San Diego Union-Tribune's "Community Voices Project" series, where I wrote a monthly column, go here


At present, I am compiling the materials for a literary and historical archive at the San Diego Central Library, which should be available in late 2023. I am also compiling materials for a partial archive of materials related to my MFA in Creative Writing at the San Diego State University Library, which will be available in a few years after I retire from San Diego City College.


Currently, I am working on a book of poetry and memoir, tentatively entitled Dark Nights of the Soul and other Selected Poetry, Fiction, and Prose. This will include works addressing my recent near-death experience before and after getting an emergency liver transplant in late July of 2023. The rest of the book will focus on a series of poems about Maui before the catastrophic wildfires on the island as well as the best of some of my published and unpublished poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. After this, I plan on turning my attention to a San Diego labor history and a walking guide to subterranean San Diego, as well as some anniversary republications of previous works. More announcements to come as things unfold.


My most recent column on Labor Day with an lens on local labor leaders and key activists is available at Words and Deeds


My last San Diego Union-Tribune column deals with my near-death experience and the lessons I learned from it.


Thanks for reading this and I hope I have more good news to report in the future.



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