Q&A: Justin McIntosh, Alive editor

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From the October 4, 2012 edition

Justin McIntosh ran 26.2 miles last weekend, his second marathon. This week, he’s editing Alive for the second time. Coincidence? We think not.

If Justin’s name rings a bell, it’s because he was the editor at UWeekly for about a year and a half, and he’s one of the city’s more active voices on Crew soccer. And if the Marietta native’s face is familiar, it might be because you, too, frequent the Olentangy River trail on foot or bicycle.

We talked to Justin about what excites him about Columbus Alive and what keeps him occupied away from the office.

There’s a lot of wonderful, exciting stuff going on here. There’s a great arts scene, a good food scene. Even for someone like me who’s vegan, there are quite a few options. I like the process of exploring new places and discovering them and sharing them with people. A lot of my interests happen to coincide with what Alive covers.

I go to a lot of shows. I know it’s cliché to say everything, but ... I listen to a lot of rap mix tapes. I like a lot of indie music. I like bluegrass and country, more in the indie vein of things. I like a lot of jazz — my college radio station was a jazz station, and I was the manager of it, so I got this huge exposure to all these jazz artists. I listen to a lot of instrumental stuff, like Explosions in the Sky, more post-rock. But I also like minimalism and post-minimalism classical stuff, like Phillip Glass and Brian Eno and post-classical stuff like Max Richter. It’s across the board.

Marietta was just recently named one of the best 100 adventure towns in the country, so definitely I grew up with that. I grew up with four-wheelers and camping and hiking and, you know, people would call it trail running, but it was just us running through the woods.

Columbus is surprisingly more outdoorsy of a city than I would have believed. Within an hour’s drive we have the Hocking Hills region, and all the Metro Parks are fantastic. I’ve been trying to pick one off each month or two, and they’ve got pretty great trails. Alum Creek has some pretty great mountain bike trails, and I’m told they’re a little more difficult.

When I was a kid my dad would take me to the hills of West Virginia to run 5Ks. He only ran one half-marathon, but I just remember thinking it was the coolest thing. I just thought it was amazing that he ran a half marathon.

I played soccer in college, so after my soccer career was over, I needed to do something to stay active. The Parkersburg-Marietta area has its own half-marathon so I just started training for it for something to stay active, and I wanted to beat my dad’s time. I did beat it, by two minutes. I was really happy about that. Of course, I think I was younger than he was when he tried it.

I like the act of running. It fuels my creative life. I’m out there by myself, with my thoughts, and my thoughts wander. Ideas come to me when I’m there. It’s just something that, really it’s part of me. I love going out and being gone for four hours.

I didn’t want to go in to daily newspapers. I thought it would be boring or that it would be too much writing. I wound up getting a freelance gig at the paper in Marietta, and then an internship with them, and I loved it. I found it channeled all my procrastination tendencies. Having a daily deadline, I couldn’t procrastinate. I had to get it done. I thrived in that environment. I fell in love with it.

I came here a lot as a kid. I’ve been to Buckeyes football and basketball games, been to hockey games. Haven’t been to a Clippers game yet. I really want to go, especially in the new Downtown stadium. I always wanted to be a season ticket holder for the Crew, and this is my first year doing that. As soon as I got here, I kind of already had an idea of all these things I wanted to experience.

Photo by Tessa Berg