About Jürgen

Welcome to my site — I'm glad you're here. I’m a writer, editor, translator, traveler, web designer, photographer, critic, storytelling consultant, and social entrepreneur. I’ve published two novels and a book of film criticism, launched Germany's first online literary journal, founded the writers' community Fictionaut, and started West Africa's first vegetarian food service. I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Ph.D. in English. I've lived in New York City, New Orleans, Mississippi, Wiesbaden, Germany, and the Dominican Republic, and currently divide my time between Dakar and Berlin.

First Look: The Ashakiran Tape

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For a long time, I’ve been joking about writing a rock ‘n’ roll mystery set in the world of obsessive Phish fans — until the joke sounded more and more like a good idea.

Now I’m putting the finishing touches on The Ashakiran Tape, first in a  series of books set at rock concerts called Head Cases. The Ashakiran Tape is set at the June at the June 2–5, 2009 Phish shows at Jones Beach.

You can read “Shakedown Street,” the first chapter of The Ashakiran Tape on Medium. If you’d like to be notified when the book comes out, follow me on Twitter or sign up for the newsletter.

The Long Tail

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Longevity is not exactly a feature of the Internet, so it’s especially nice when long-ago work suddenly resurfaces in unexpected places. This week brought not just one but two references to pieces I wrote decades ago — quite literally:

  1. At SmashCut, Nathan Smith watched Star Wars Wars: All Six Films At Once and quoted from my 2005 review of Revenge of the Sith.
  2. Jordan Hoffmann managed to sneak a reference to my 1995 (!) essay “The Fractals of Familiarity and Innovation: Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead concert experience” into a Playboy article on the Fare Thee Well concerts. That’s right, a paper I wrote in grad school made it into Playboy. The wonders never cease.

Interview with Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com

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RogerEbert.com editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz was kind enough to interview me about Raves and my career as a film critic. We talk about Revenge of the Sith, the Wiesbadener Kurier, and why I quit reviewing after twelve years.

It takes a certain confidence to not just have an opinion but also deem it worthy of broadcasting. You have to muster this authority to say, this is worthy, this isn’t. And yeah, I found that more and more difficult, especially with the negative reviews. My attitude started to change to, who’s to say? It’s not for me, but hey, if someone likes it, that’s fine with me.

And once that starts happening, you’re probably finished as a critic.

Read the interview at RogerEbert.com.

Coming Soon: Raves

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For twelve years, I reviewed movies with a passion. I loved film and believed that criticism mattered, and I never got tired of asking myself and everyone inside and outside the screening room the eternal critic’s question: “Did you like it?” I went to premieres and festivals, cheerleaded for one of the best films of the decade — P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood — and caught abuse from fans, colleagues and one sore director for critical reviews they disagreed with.

And then one day, I simply couldn’t do it anymore.

From the introduction to Raves, coming this fall. Stay up to date by subscribing to the newsletter.