There is a man in my house.  I asked him once if anyone had ever told him that he reminds them of Owen Wilson.  He looked at me and told me in deep austerity that his and Wes Anderson’s paths had crossed on occasion.  He did not elaborate.  Whether or not there is any veracity to the insinuation that Wes Anderson stole Kazaka’s personality and based a character off of it is, I believe, beside the point.

 

On Thursday I went to bed at two.  When I stumbled, half awake, to use the restroom at 8am, Kazaka was still hunched over my dining room table in a state of supra-auditory transcendental, hallucinatory meditation.  Underneath and inside Kazaka’s hands there’s a thing growing. 

It is hard to tell if it is a spore or a drawing.  Whether it is truly alive or merely a fiction of Kazaka’s hand that gives this pencil stitched entity the character of slow moving animism.  There is a seeming infinity of  small squiggles, each improvising on the course a grain of sand takes deep inside a beach in the duration of a week.  It grows in amoebic bursts swirling out from an almost mobile epicenter.  Like the north pole, the center wobbles as the form of the orb shifts. 

Thousands of hours are passing through Kazaka’s body, the short hum bursts of the pecil sharpener marking his time like a slow beat, the thing growing ever more mature.  Lots of little squiggly lines and a structure make a culture.  Meanwhile he talks to me, like a narrator dictating the modulations of a tiny history growing in allegoric form from his center.  It his hard to know how much is coming from him and how much from this baby spore.  This crazy growing tangle weed, sprouting legs, incomprehensible frankenstein.  Meanwhile I have given birth to a life growing under me like Kazaka’s drawing.  It has a structure of some kind assuredly, as it seems to move in a direction, or directions.  It is composed of little moments, gestures of my hand, my drawing implements.  “I would like to bring it out to all four corners of the paper, but it will take me an extremely long time.  It moves in a spiral, do you see?”  Kazaka says. “But because of the shape of the paper, I have to try to encourage the spiral to take a certain shape, to grow more on the sides, and to stop it from growing too much on the top or the bottom.  I might have to do something else with the shape, I haven’t decided yet.” 

it is possible to see more Kazaka line drawings here: wakest.etsy.com

 

– Lily

 

 

This Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be sitting in a chair in front of a table loaded with all sorts of Green Lantern merchandise. The table will be in the SF County Fair Building (formerly the Hall of Flowers), and the building is in the beautiful Golden Gate Park. All around me will be people in other chairs, in front of other tables, loaded with all sorts of other kinds of merchandise (though, most of it will probably be of a bookish, zine-y nature). It’s the seventh annual San Francisco Zine Fest and I think it will be a whole lot of fun. The only thing that will make it more fun is if you show up. So please, do so.

 

Go to http://www.sfzinefest.com for exact times, directions, a list of those attending and all sorts of other good stuff.

 

And, if you get lost, just ask someone to point you in the direction of table 157. It’ll be a good table. I promise.

 

–Nick

Groups and Spaces // Thursday, July 17, 8-10 pm.

INCUBATE is located at 2129 N Rockwell St.

PowerPoint Extreme! is an evening of performances that brings PowerPoint out of the office and into the art space, addressing the weirdness, tedium, and sheer ubiquity of this medium. What the hell needs to be explained by a PowerPoint slideshow? – OR – What isn’t PowerPoint good for?

For this event we are inviting Chicago artist groups and spaces to present their endeavor through an offbeat use of PowerPoint. We encourage twisted applications of PowerPoint’s structure and aesthetics, especially as they pertain to the group or space’s particular interests. If you are involved in a Chicago-based artist group or space and would like to participate, please contact us!

The workshop will provide technical assistance in creating PowerPoint slideshows as well as examples of alternative uses of the medium.

PowerPoint Extreme is part of DO STUFF! a series of activities and events produced by Hideous Beast’s residency at INCUBATE.

for more information:
http://www.hideousbeast.com
info@hideousbeat.com

It is my first time in Chicago. Really, my first time ever in the Midwest. I grew up in San Francisco, and only three times have I visited any part of the country that was not coastal (Colorado Springs once and Lake Tahoe twice). I never thought of America being anything but San Francisco, New York, and maybe Boston or something. Everything in between? Nothing!

Oh how wrong I was (as I’m sure all readers know). I first began to realize this on the train. I took a train down to Los Angeles, then up through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, before finally settling in Illinois. I was astounded by the beauty of the natural landscape (slightly less by the 5 blocks I saw in Albuquerque and some small town in Colorado). And when I got to Chicago? Oh man. Insta-love. A friend/enemy of a friend from Chicago had told my friend years ago that San Francisco was a cow town. We laughed! But then she came here. And now I’m here. And we know that it was true.

But what to do in such a grand city? Such a LARGE city. There are a few simple steps that all visitors should take, in order to have an amazing time in Chicago (without seeming like a tourist).

1) Have amazing friends, and meet their amazing friends
This is probably the first thing you should do, even before getting to Chicago. It will ensure that you not only have a good place to stay, but will have some back-up places in case of drunkenness and wee hours. It also means that you will have someone to show you the sights, someone to drink, eat, and take drugs with, and someone to keep you company so that you are not all alone in the big city.

Should you be lacking a friend who resides in Chicago, you should probably make some more friends. Also, you can ask all the people you know and who may possibly feel responsible for some small part of your happiness if THEY have any friends in Chicago. This may not get you a place to stay, but it ought to get you someone to have lunch with, and maybe go to a museum

2) Get a bicycle
Chicago is a WONDERFUL place to bike. I hadn’t biked in 10 years, but after two days of biking around, it all came back to me (It’s true— you never forget how to ride a bike, and chances are, you’ll be a lot better at it now than when you were 11). If you are really cool, you can form a bike gang with your friends. But only if you are REALLY cool. Anyway, it’s a lot cheaper than taking public transportation (unless you are only staying for a day or two), you will get in really great shape, and you can enjoy the amazingly thrilling experience that Cycling really is.

This is one of the things that is easier if you have friends, especially if they recently were relieved of their bicycle by some crafty thief. You can split the cost. You can use the bike for the time you are there, and then once you leave, your friend will have a great bike for half the price. Go to Working Bikes (www.workingbikes.org) on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. Make sure you get there by about 11:45 — they open at noon, and most of their bikes will be gone within half an hour. It’s worth it, though, because their bikes start at $50. My friend and I got a bicycle for $90. It’s purple. We like it. If you don’t have a friend, you can get a bike at Working Bikes, and then donate it back to them. They might give it to someone in a third world country or they might repair it and sell it back to the public. There are probably some places where you can rent a bike, too, but I wouldn’t know about that.

Don’t forget to pick up a bike map. They are free at bike stores all over. They are not perfect, but if you don’t have any friends, or any friends that bike, then it’s a really useful asset. It shows you which streets have bike lanes, as well as some “ideal routes” which may or may not be ideal, and they mark the bridges that are grated.

3) Give up your Vegetarianism
Seriously. It’s worth it. Just for a little while. You can start again when you go back to Hippy Land, but with places like Hot Doug’s (www.hotdougs.com) and the Chicago Brauhaus (http://www.chicagobrauhaus.com/), as well as some other places that I know exist but have not yet tried, you will not regret eating some animals. You may even finding yourself singing a song about how delicious animals are, how you love eating meat, and how the alligator deserved to die for you to enjoy a sausage made out of its flesh. I know I did.

4) Flirt with that cute friend of your friend, but don’t go home with him.
He probably has a girlfriend

5) Learn to play an instrument, and do so on the street.
If you are any good, you might make some money. I’m not sure yet what the hot spots are, but I do know that downtown near Millennium park was not all that successful. That may have been because we took too long looking at the Bean and some other really fabulous public art, and then the park closed, and we had to go sit somewhere else, where only rich people and alcoholic beggars walked by. Lincoln Square was good until someone very nice kicked us out (it was 1 am) but then we moved down the street and made $20.

Anyway, when you do busk (that’s what we call it, busking), make sure that you play loud enough. Play with your friends, because they will make you louder, and if they are cute, you will get more attention. Also, you will have more songs to play. Variety is good. Buckets with drumsticks really help, they sound good and are loud enough to get peoples’ attention for blocks around. Learn a few popular songs, and play some originals. Popular songs will get the unimaginative people and originals will get the artists and funky folk. Anyway, you can use the money you make to…

6) Go out drinking and dancing
Did you know that some bars in Chicago don’t close until 4 or even 5? This is not so surprising if you are from New York, but when you are from San Francisco, the land of Bars that ALL close at 2 am, without exception (seriously fucked up, right?) it’s pretty special.

However, some bars are better than others, as is true with any city, and some bars have special activities on special nights. For example, the California Clipper (www.californiaclipper.com) has Bingo every Monday night. Neo (www.neo-chicago.com), which is one of the aforementioned 4am clubs, is usually an Industrial Goth dance club, but Thursday nights are 80’s New Wave. Get a Dead Nazi at the bar.

7) Visit some artsy shit
As I already mentioned, Chicago has some pretty kick-ass public artwork. Millennium park is full of it. There are also a lot of great less-than-public art places too. Go to the Art Institute. It’s fucking expensive but it’s worth it, especially if you live in San Francisco, where all the art museums have shit that stays in the basement of the Louvre, but in San Francisco, they are on display.

Anyway, I still haven’t gone, but I’m familiar enough with the collection through too many Art History classes that I can say you should go. Also, they apparently have an amazing Book Arts library. Or artists’ book library, I’m not sure, but I’m going tomorrow and it will be wonderful, I’m sure.

Galleries are always good. This is where your friends come in handy, and where I can’t really help, because I didn’t pay too much attention. But I know there are some on Grand, and I also know there are some in some other places, and you should…

8) Go to the intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen Aves
Hipster heaven! Also home to Odd Obsession, The Green Lantern, Heaven Gallery, some bars, a Bank of America, Quimby’s consignment zine store, and Myopic books. All of which are worth spending some of your hard-earned money at, or worth getting your hard-earned money from. Some of these places are not EXACTLY on that intersection, but it’s close enough.

9) Ride the trains around downtown
You can buy a day-pass for $5, and then you take the train all around, looking into people’s windows and seeing the sites from afar. Maybe you can get off somewhere, walk around, and then get back on.

10) Pick up a copy of The Reader
It will tell you about interesting things happening. That is, if you don’t have any friends, or if your friends aren’t as cool as mine. Anyway, you can find shows, book fairs, whatever floats yer boat.

11) Eat at a really greasy diner
I recommend Lorraine’s Dinner (just search for it in google maps). The waitress who works the night shift is spunky and really nice. When we went, someone drunk said “I’m gonna kick your oriental ass!” to which one of us responded “I’m gonna kick your occidental ass!” They didn’t get it, but we did, and it was beautiful. Also you might hear some Sinead O’Conner and start crying because men are dicks and life sucks.

12) Try to get over your breakup
It’s a lot easier when you are away. You can cry more, and then forget about him. Go on. Forget. Write some songs. When you come home, you’ll feel like there’s a lot more to life than the jerk who broke your heart, and maybe you won’t feel so terrible anymore. I mean, maybe you will. I don’t know, I haven’t gone home yet.

This list has now clearly exceeded the length it ought to have been.
Please enjoy, be safe on your bike, and make sure your friends are awesome.

– Sarah Blake, a.k.a. my little sister, RGS.

http://www.myspace.com/sarahtheblizzake

http://illustriousme.blogspot.com

Fragments and Genre

July 14, 2008

The following letters are the first two from a series of correspondences between the Senior and Assistant Editors of The Green Lantern Press on the subject of the genre of Fragments, a recent publication from The Green Lantern Press:

 

 

Dear Nick,

Once upon a time, Caroline and I had an interesting conversation about how to classify Fragments.  Of course we’d love to believe that a work of art, like a human being or an experience should transcend classification on some fundamental level.  On the other hand, we are a press and a press distributes and markets books in a world that depends on classification to function.  I cannot consider this book a work of philosophy or criticism because it does not submit itself to the methodical rigor that those types of thought entail.  To me, the closest genre I can fit this piece into is poetry.  I understand that this is a provisional category and that the piece resists any attempt to label it “poetry”.  I do think that this label, however, can be useful to an extent.  Poetry is a lot easier to write than prose, because it is shorter.  You can scratch out a poem in a few moments, and toss it aside if it is not quite right and start another one.  Fiction takes time and dedication.  The burden poetry takes on in order to right this inequality of effort is that poetry must be perfect.  Every line must be an example of the very best writing available to human culture.  There are many lines in this poetic-leaning work that betray a charm that would be entirely suitable as a moment in a work of fiction, but do not stand up to this test of poetry.  Some turns of phrase and idioms that are—if I may be so bold—a little bit selfish.  A poet is the ultimate perfectionist.  A poet must be a chess master, must have played out every move a reader might make to see that it upholds the standard of perfect and nearly unattainable beauty.  I think that perhaps this is the origin of the myth that poets are insane, drink irresponsibly and die young.   

 

There are lines in Fragments that I believe attain that perfection.  But there are many that I believe do not.  What I suggest for this book is to edit it as though it is poetry, even if it is not.   But why indulge in partial perfection when there are so many lines in this work that can blow you away, make you shake your head, alter your world view, suck your gums in delight and envy?  How wonderful would it be to have a tiny, sublime book filled with only the lines that knock a reader off his feet.  It is incredibly rare a reader has an opportunity to read such a book—and we are faced with the incredible situation of having the material to make one right in front of us.  I feel it is would be an injustice to both the world of readership and to our author to have the occasion to build such a book and cast it aside in favor of publishing a book that is a slough of near-perfection pinned up by bright points of true brilliance.

 

Yours truly,

Lily

 

 

Dear Lily,

First of all, as to the issue of classification. You’re right in saying that it isn’t a work of philosophy or criticism. One could argue that it is a philosophical novel, though that brings about its own set of problems and general silliness. After all, all novels, save for the most vapid, are philosophical. Despite being a story about a bunch of characters talking and falling in and out of love, Proust has a lot more in common with Augustine than he has with Danielle Steele. Fragments is, in a sense, written philosophically, but to focus on the philosophical aspect is like focusing on the “opera” half of “rock opera” when listening to Queen. Or something. But that’s neither here nor there. And while I agree with your ideas of how poetry must be written, I don’t think this is quite poetry either and to edit it as though it were poetry does the work a disservice.

 

In the end, although “we are a press and a press distributes and markets books in a world that depends on classification to function,” I don’t necessarily think it’s our job to supply those classifications. That’s why critics get paid the big bucks. We have to look at everything critically, of course, but I think our job is more to put these things out in the world and let the readers and the critics do with them what they will. Hell, I’d be pleased as punch if one bookstore put Fragments in the literature section, another put it in the philosophy section, and another stuck it in poetry.

 

The only way this classification process helps us is in the editing process. And, again, editing it as a novel is a hell of a lot easier than editing it as poetry. Another stupid analogy: some of Beckett’s later prose pieces resist classification. They’re all philosophical and maybe they even have more in common with philosophy than they do fiction, but to edit them as philosophy would be a waste of time. Essentially, if I couldn’t figure out exactly what kind of genre a work falls into, I’d ask myself what kind of editing process is least likely to commit a horrible rape against the text. And that’s where I’d classify it. (Granted, I haven’t thought this through, but it seems like a good place to start.)

 

So most of what follows is my argument as to why Fragments is a novel.

 

I don’t think it’s necessary to go into what constitutes a novel, so I’ll list some of the ways in which it seems to differ from one.

 

1. There’s no real story. Obviously. But, just as obviously, I don’t think that’s a huge problem, because the novel has been moving away from stories for going on a hundred years now. Fragments is, however, about something (how language defines and affects our relationships, etc).

 

2. Most novels can be graphed horizontally, moving from point A to point B, with jumps at points of crisis, drops in lulls, and so on. You can’t really do that here. The way I see it, it tends to move vertically. History books move vertically. (“Consider this a history of something that is happening right now.”) History books are never as clean as novels: they have to circle in upon themselves. The threads of narrative never connect cleanly. One can either try to impose a straight narrative on history (running the risk of grave omissions), follow separate threads (this is how the plague came to Europe, this is how it affected medicine, this is how it affected daily life, this is how the governments dealt with it, this is how the Jews were affected by it, etc.), or combine all of those threads simultaneously. Fragments takes the third route. Luckily, most history books don’t.

 

3. Where most novels have a clear narrator (or number of narrators), Fragments has something more in line with Joyce’s “arranger.” That is, there are a number of voices speaking here, and rather than gather them all under a single narrative voice, Carl has let the voices speak for themselves and arranged them on the page. Some of it is what She is thinking, some of it is what He is thinking, some of it is what She is saying, some of it is what He is saying, some of it is what She has written, some of it is what He has written, some of it is what they have read, etc. That said, you don’t have to love or agree with every turn of phrase and idiom, but should you see them as things a character has written (and they spend a lot of time writing), they cease to be self-indulgent filler and actually serve to provide some insight as to what is going on in a particular’s character head.

 

Best,

Nick

  

Purchase Fragments directly from The Green Lantern Press website at:  

http://www.press.thegreenlantern.org/catalogue.html

Remember when Def Leppard would spend around 13 years making records? Mutt Lange would lock them in his evil cave/labratory and wouldn’t let them out until each record was capable of having at least 13 singles that would all go, at the very least, gold. Which is an amazing task considering that most of those records would have around 12 songs. Every element in every song was a super catchy hook. They were unstoppable. They sold like 126 million copies of everything that they put out. Steve Clark could get all the booze he wanted. Rick Allen could afford any car he wanted. Joe Elliot was hitting high notes!

 

This new record took probably about 6 years to make, which you should note is not 13 years. Ronan McHugh produced it and it’s clear that he doesn’t own a whip. And there’s only like 17 clear hooks on the record. 17 hooks on a Def Leppard record. Maybe it’s a grower like their 1996 record Slang, which is probably a grower except no one played that record more than twice. And that’s part of the problem with my relationship with Def Leppard, I want the instant gratification immediately, I’m not willing to work for it. I’ve been spoiled by their past greatness. And who hasn’t?

 

So, it leaves me with a problem. Reviewing the record. I can’t really remember anything that I heard. I have quick flashes of observation like “there’s a Beatles verse” “is that Sammy Hagar singing?” (it was Tim McGraw, seriously) “Is this a Poison cover?” (it wasn’t). “I’m hungry.” And it leaves me with the feeling, that I’m taking advantage of Def Leppard. I’m kicking them for not making another Pyromania. Well, that was about 25 years ago. Why would they make another Pyromania? It’s not fair to ask them to do so. But the album cover is fucking stupid. And Songs From The Sparkle Lounge is a fucking silly title.

 

So let’s go! Side 2 is actually the better side. The song “Bad Actress” is pretty rocking. “Gotta Let It Go” is cool. Ah…fuck it. forget it. I’m going to see if there are any more Pop Tarts left.

-Steve Orth.

(Steve Orth has a motherfucking blog!:

http://balderdashbedwetting.blogspot.com/.  

He is also a totally awesome musician:  

http://www.myspace.com/shivshark.) 

Fiction at Work

July 8, 2008

Hi people,

 

I just wanted to let you know that Fiction at Work, a new(ish) journal of short-short prose, relaunches today, Monday, July 7th, with some great new stories. Check us out:

 

http://www.fictionatwork.com

 

And please tell your friends (but only if you like it. If you don’t like it, just keep it to yourself. That’s just good manners).

 

Thanks!

 

Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf