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LAist Interview: Jim Ruland

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Jim Ruland is a writer who has had a strong impact on the LA literary scene. He hosts a series of literary readings called "Vermin on the Mount" in Chinatown and supports many writers and lit magazines. Jim also nurtures the talents of students who take his composition classes at Santa Monica Community College. A devout punk rocker, his work has appeared in the late, great punk magazine, "Flipside," and Razorcake magazine.

Jim served in the Navy as a deck seaman in 1987 and is working on a memoir about his adventures cruising the western Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Meyerkord. On October 15, 2005, Gorsky Press will publish "Big Lonesome," Jim's first collection of short stories.

Lucky for Angelenos, Jim launched "Vermin on the Mount" at the Mountain Bar in Chinatown last year. The next “Vermin on the Mount” is on Saturday, September 17 at 8 PM. Organized to celebrate the debut of the first print edition of Opium Magazine, an online humor magazine, this week’s event includes appearances by Opium Magazine founder Todd Zuniga and his West Coast Opium All-Stars: Pasha Malla, Elizabeth Ellen and Melissa Bell. Locals Todd Goldberg and Josh Bearman will also read their work on Saturday.

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Check out LAist contributor Carolyn Kellogg's podcast with Jim at Pinky's Paperhaus .

Age and Occupation:
37. Writer, educator, impresario

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
I’ve lived in LA for the last 10 years and reside in Playa del Rey.

Why do you choose to live in Los Angeles?
I didn’t; it chose me. I wanted to stay in California after my stint in the Navy, but I went back to Virginia for the in-state tuition. After I graduated, a cousin and a friend from the Navy both invited me to come out to LA. It turns out they both lived in North Hollywood, blocks away from each other. I took that as a sign, packed up all my belongings in a pair of seabags, and moved to LA.

What gave you the idea to start Vermin on the Mount? How does it operate? What is the process of putting it on?
I was one of those people who would bitch about how there was no literary scene in Los Angeles and then do nothing about it. Well, it turns out I was right: there is no one scene; there are dozens of them. What I try to do is tap into as many of them as possible. I feature novelists and short story writers, punk rockers and poets, journos and bloggers. For instance, this Saturday we’re celebrating the West Coast release of New York-based OpiumMagazine.print #1 with literary humorists from New York, Ann Arbor and not one, but two writers from Canada. Then novelist Tod Goldberg is going to read from his new collection of short stories and Josh Bearman is doing something in connection with his new Yeti-related project. Of course, all readings are unique events, but Vermin is uniquely unique. The only other one like it that I know of is Writers with Drinks in San Francisco.