Way behind in my zine reviews since I’ve been pretty much committed these last months to Byebye and Shlort and this movie script thing. I’ve had these five episodes of Free Money, “illustrative journalism from the future” by Cyberpunk Dan since January, which he sells for “1 gal. gas.” The interesting thing about these is that he appears to be writing and printing them while living in a “customized 95 G20 Sport” and traveling, though he seems to be based in Pittsburgh.
The stories are about underemployed working-class rebels who get into crazy messes while trying to do a job or make their own work. No corporate bottom-feeders here. The first story’s protagonist upsets the pecking order in her shithole town by doing some cleaning that no one else wanted to do until she started getting paid for it. Mayhem ensues.
Honestly I can’t tell anymore if he draws them on a computer or with mixed media, or with mixed media augmented by a computer, or whatever, but the line is loose and active, the colors well-planned and expressive. And it comes on newspaper instead of xerox, which I love.
Besides the focus on matters of survival, what I liked about the zines is how Dan generally does it like the old comics did, offering advice, spots for reader interaction, advertising space, and news about arts events. The marginal budgeting tips add to the stories’ pervading and tense feeling of “I’m sick of fuckin being broke,” with which I think many of us can identify.
I’m glad I finally got to this review since it made me look at the stuff again. I’m definitely into it. Buy Free Money and support Dan wherever you can! If you have InstaGram, he’s @cyberpunkdan.
Here’s an excellent talk by Jon Taplin of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC and father of Post-Consumer‘s Nick Taplin, on the problems of libertarian dumbshits who control the internet and also US politics. Remember kids, libertarians and neonazis are the SAME PEOPLE, Google CEO or not.
As a fairly true anarchist artist who is always about community, dialogue and exposure before “copyright,” I nevertheless appreciate Taplin’s warning that “the technological revolution is coming for all of your jobs.” Does that make me double down on copyright? Fuck no! It makes me double down on 1.) reduction of reliance on capitalism’s rules for survival and 2.) increase of sharing all things so that they don’t end up falling apart when whatever thing comes for whatever of all our things. Enjoy the video!
Here’s the Coleman Avenue bridge, by the big shopping center at Taylor, where the recent floods have provided for the latest sculpture to hit San José, this time in the middle of the river. Like many sculptures in the city, it’s a meaningless technical exercise, an immense MS Paint job executed by not even an amateur but a disinterested user. The title of the piece is “Interpolating Concepts,” grabbed mid-paragraph from the piece’s indecipherable pseudo-philosophical justification, which is attached to the river bed and visible only to divers.
The medium is pile of sticks and tree trunks on a plinth of rocks with support from a live tree.
When in fifty years, when the vacuous tech-boom society of Google employees collectively decides, based on a single meme, that this is the most important art of their era, and the artist is asked about his motivation, he’ll have nothing to say but that his boss commissioned it in order to show some long-vanished investors the company’s edgy design ideas, much like the inverted 3D-printed cone on the steps of the Convention Center.
The piece unfortunately took very little logistics to produce, practically zero quarterbacking of dealmaking with Chinese suppliers, and therefore practically zero child laborers were exploited in order to produce it, unlike the iPhone. Americans get off on the idea that everything they consume, including art materials, are produced under the most egregiously, unnecessarily harmful and exploitative means, because it amplifies their sensation that “we’re lucky to live here,” even though they themselves cause the rest of wherever else to not be so lucky a location.
The sculpture, nonetheless, unfortunately doesn’t really hit the latter points in any way.
Natalie Watkins is a figure and portrait artist from Stockton (*I gather) with really nice business cards, whom I met at Local Color’s zine fest. She’s put her watercolors and stuff into a zine called Conjoined:
Here’s one of her Trump portraits, which go cheap and would make great gifts or decorations for homes, offices, classrooms and public drinking establishments.
I don’t know if the portrait is rendered in blood and feces, but that’s what I like to think when I gaze. Watkins says the following about her work: “I do not aim to be a realist painter because I love manipulating the photograph with color and brush strokes.”
Get on Etsy and grab her stuff while it’s cheap!
Propitiously, auspiciously, precipitously ran into Desmond Reed‘s work by chance on Tumblr, which for all the fat and noise is really one of the few places left one can sign on and see a ton of awesome art with relatively little digging.
A celebration of life’s will to grow, Those Dark New Hampshire Woods concerns a few weeks in the life of its denizens, rendered from all of whose perspective, looking inward and showing us how it is from over their shoulders, not unlike As I Lay Dying.
The book, like all great stories, like in Faulkner or Bolaño, distinguishes itself both through its place in a universe all its own as well as its exposition of the stories within that world in an elegant and silly spiral of nested and/or tangentially-related vignettes.
Amongst other instantly-relatable characters we meet the drifter, who drifts, the scumbag, the wild hairy uncles, the world’s smallest pervert, who seeks happiness despite being on the other side of existence.
The obscene god of rebirth from Those Dark New Hampshire Woods
It is in the story of the Scumbag and the Troubled Teen that we encounter the persistent theme of nature’s regeneration, presented by means of the cloning by pore of the characters, reducing the proud, complex human down to the physiognomy of the plant kingdom. The joy with which their bodies relentlessly reproduce cycles through the setting and creates a second whirling narrative wheel.
My only gripe is what the hell is going on in the New Hampshire woods, and how does one end up there?
Those Dark New Hampshire Woods is a work of modest comic art blessed with satisfying textual depth, a work of literature not to be missed in the 2016 crop.
I also got the second one but honestly I haven’t even read it yet. I’m too blown away.
The books are published by Birdcage Bottom Books, and when you buy stuff from them you get a bunch of extra stuff!
Sounds like rumbles are afoot for building ghettos for artists and their gentrifier friends in San Jose. That way they can light one fire and wipe us all out, and either way the landlords and developers win.
Take this survey for Raúl, the only city council member who cares about the people! Make your context understood!