Time to get some new reading material

June 12, 2007 | Filed Under god bless the internet, reading | 1 Comment 

Apparently, McSweeney’s distributor filed for bankruptcy a while back, and now they’re feeling the crunch. Everything about this company is worth supporting — from their faith in their writers and artists, to the writing workshops they do for those city-kids, to all the other great here-and-there things (Believer, Wolphin, McSweeneys.net). Everything they do is wonderful. It’d be real sad shame if they had to stop because of financial burdens.Here’s what they posted today that clued me in:

As you may know, it’s been tough going for many independent publishers, McSweeney’s included, since our distributor filed for bankruptcy last December 29. We lost about $130,000—actual earnings that were simply erased. Due to the intricacies of the settlement, the real hurt didn’t hit right away, but it’s hitting now. Like most small publishers, our business is basically a break-even proposition in the best of times, so there’s really no way to absorb a loss that big. We are committed to getting through and past this difficult time, and we’re hoping you, the readers, who have from the start made McSweeney’s possible, will help us.

This is not a huge company, and it probably is a textbook case in which every little bit helps. So check out their store and buy some stuff. Oh! and EVERYTHING is on sale - some stuff at steep discounts. (English as She is Spoke for $4.50?!)They’re auctioning off rare and cool inventory things, too, like books with little doodles in them by the authors, and the like — Obviously, a lot of that is expensive, but the regular stuff isn’t.I picked up the Collins Library Bundle and What is the What (which I’d been meaning to get for a while now anyway) for not much more than it would’ve cost to buy only What is the What at Barnes and Noble, and this way I know I’m supporting a fine cause.This is the kind of company that truly deserves success. Isn’t it our responsibility to help them get there? They have a lot of cool stuff up for grabs, for cheap — so It’s a pretty win-win situation, if you ask me. And in case you don’t know how to read, they even have some cool t-shirts. So no excuses. go forth! Save McSweeney’s!

It Stretches Your Body

October 5, 2006 | Filed Under found, god bless the internet, mysterious, reading | Leave a Comment 

Another website of found letters - this one is pretty good - there aren’t very many, and the layout sucks, but the actual letters are good finds. They seem extra weird to me. Especially the ones in the “Hollywood” category - I’m actually not exactly sure what the Hollywood connection is, actually, but they’re definitely interesting. (see below for an example)

P.S. Page Me Later

September 26, 2006 | Filed Under art, big ideas, found, god bless the internet, mysterious, photo, reading, time travel | Leave a Comment 

I found Found Magazine’s website. It’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I wish I still had the amazing note that was left on my car by some Savannah vandals after they wrecked the deer skull I had attached to my bumper. It was hilarious. I can’t remember what it said exactly, but I loved it and I saved it, but it’s vanished by now into the ether. Maybe it’ll turn up again one day and I’ll send it in to Found Mag. Here’s what they’re all about:

We collect found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles- anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life. Anything goes.We certainly didn’t invent the idea of found stuff being cool. Every time we visit our friends in other towns, someone’s always got some kind of unbelievable discovered note or photo on their fridge. We decided to make a bunch of projects so that everyone can check out all the strange, hilarious and heartbreaking things people have picked up and passed our way.

You should read the rest of the about page… the note that started it all is pretty great… and then check out some of the finds, complete with brief explanations of the context in which they were discovered.This is my favorite one for today:

Ralph’s NoteFOUND by Jennifer in New York, New YorkI had been playing my music (which can get pretty odd at times) one night in my apartment. The next day, I woke up to a lot of sounds outside my door. I opened my door to see paramedics taking away my neighbor. He had died, apparently during the night.

By the way, we lucky Atlantans can pick up the yearly paper version of the magazine at Criminal Records... Just so you know. I’m gonna be looking for it.God, i love this stuff.

Billy Collins is a Moth on a Bell

June 10, 2006 | Filed Under big ideas, poetry, reading | Leave a Comment 

When the crew is shooting nights, I’m the skeleton who holds it down in the production office while everyone else is either on set or at home in bed. So a while back, we were at the end of a week of night shoots, I think it was a Friday night, and I was at the end of my day, which was really the beginning of Saturday morning. I tell you this to set the scene: I was driving home listening to the radio, which I very rarely do at 6 am on a Saturday, and I heard a show on Album 88 that I didn’t know existed. (it’s not on their current schedule, so maybe it doesn’t.) It was a poetry show, and when I called in to ask who we were listening to, I was told that it was the first show they had ever done, and they were glad someone was out there to hear it. I hope it wasn’t the last one, ’cause it was really good, and it introduced me to a poet whom I’d never heard of, and who I’d like you to meet.Dude’s name is Billy Collins, and he was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003. In 2004, he was named the Poet Laureate of New York State, and he jokes about being the Poet Laureate of his zip code next. This guy is really something. I don’t say this about everyone, but homeboy’s a lyricist. He reminds me of a combination of Hemingway, Tom Robbins, and Shel Silverstein, in the sense that his poems are pretty declarative and straightforward, even though they often deal with some pretty cosmic concepts, but it’s all tempered with a dry, playful wit, and somehow retains a sense of wonder and optimism. Those are my impressions, at least, based on what little I heard and subsequently read. I’m defintely not gonna claim to be an expert on the guy’s work, but I’m looking into reading the rest of it.I did find one website that has a lot of his stuff online, but it’s really poorly designed and has ugly pop-ups, so check it at your own risk. A much nicer place to start would be here, where you can actually listen to Billy reading his work. I’m pretty sure this CD is what they were playing on the radio the other night. I would suggest listening to everything they have, but I especially liked “Japan,” “Marginalia,” and “Nostalgia.”You know, poetry has a bad rep, mainly because there are a lot of bad poets out there, and a lot of them love to read their stuff out loud. I know I’ve often said, and have oftened been agreed with, that I really like poetry, but hate poetry readings and dislike poets in general. But once in a while, I’ll come across some really good stuff, and I have to admit that it’s pretty enjoyable to hear it read by the poet.Of course, I’m sure a huge reason why this stuff doesn’t bother me is that Collins obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously. He gets heavy sometimes, but then he’ll catch you off-guard with something really funny… or, better yet, occasionally he’ll pull off the extremely difficult maneuver of making you think he’s being light and jokey for the whole thing until you get to the last line or stanza and he just knocks you out with something really startlingly profound. That’s a move that is in danger of seeming pretentious, and is usually unsuccessful when attempted by the less skilled, but Billy makes it seem like the natural progression of his thoughts rather than some clever trick, and it works.

This Happens to Me All The Time

March 18, 2006 | Filed Under funny haha, reading | Leave a Comment