Thursday, January 31, 2008

Writer's Corner

Top Banner by Tim Kenny and Red Fez by Leopold McGinnis

Michele McDannold

For several weeks, maybe months, I have been asking a question regarding the marketability of poetry. The responses have been varied, but the main focus has been on individuality, both personally and in product. The few remaining poetry fans out there are not looking for a simply photo copy cover wrapped around a collection of poems that are poorly printed and also found on-line. They want something new, something that they can treasurer, something that they have never seen before, and that is what Rural Messenger Press is delivering. Whether is it is DIY packaging and pop rocks or cds and matchbook poems, Michele McDannold is changing the way the small press deliveries poetry one mailer at a time.

Michele is not only a publisher, she is also an editor for the on-line literary journal Red Fez, and mighty fine poet. She recently took some time out to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What was the inspiration behind starting Rural Messengers Press?
Michele McDannold (MM): Can of worms, there. 50/50. Half makes best sense to me in a Summer wrapped up in strings, theories, blue lights, something about garage sales. The summer before I started RMP, I spent my Saturday mornings hitting the garage sales. After a bit, I started to notice how lots of people had their own little theme of things going on at their sale. It was cute. I imagined what people were like or what it was that drove them to collect and then to get rid of their prized possessions. Me, I like a little bit of everything. I collected all these little trinkets that summer, cost only a buck or two a piece, and lined them up on a shelf in my office. How does one thing connect to the next? This was only the very beginning of what started months of work that became String Theory, the first piece of RMP.

The other half is all about the writers and publishers I have come across since I started submitting my work for publication. From the moment I started placing my own work, it has been a total joyride. Books, I otherwise would never have been exposed to, landed on my doorstep. They were either extremely ‘on the cheap’ or ‘free of charge’. Zines, CDs, broadsides, chapbooks ... the list goes on and on.
When I received the back issues and subscription of Instant Pussy from Misti Rainwater-Lites for a mere 10 bucks, I knew these were something to hang onto. Not only because they were fucking hot! but because she was breaking rules and doing it well. Leopold McGinnis sent me a Funky French Fold (reg. $1) as an insert to his novella The Red Fez. It flipped me out. How did he get so much on one sheet of paper and why didn’t I think of that? I wanted in on the action. I suppose it’s the same thing that has been going on in literary movements forever and ever and ever. We inspire each other to create. What I wanted to do with Rural Messengers Press was challenge myself with each project to create in a way I had not created before, communicate with other artists and share their work in a way pleasing to both the artist and the reader.

OA: Your work with RMP is really inventive, specifically when it comes to packaging and presentation. What has the response been like?
MM: The response has been great. People like getting things in the mail. They like the individual pieces, but they also really appreciate how the mailers are put together. I love doing what I am doing and I think it shows. When I am putting the Mailers together, I treat it like I’m sending out a gift to a friend. The handmade stuff especially, I think, resonates with people.

OA: You are also an editor for Red Fez an on-line literary journal. How has being an editor changed the way you look at your work?
MM: Being an editor has changed the way I look at publishing. I started off just kind of fumbling around for anything. I had to ask myself, did it matter ... Where, when and why.

You can play the numbers game. Send your poems out to every online and print zine in the universe. Someone will publish them. So fucking what? What does that prove? You know how to hit send and lick a stamp. woo-hoo! I don’t want to go down like that. I want to be happy with what I’m doing. That is not to say what I’m doing is better. It works for me.

OA: You have already made great strides in this area, but what do you think the small press and the small press poet need to do to make poetry more marketable?
MM: Stop looking to each other for approval. If the small press poet only knows what other small press poets know ... what’s the point? Also, I think a blending of mediums is very important if the poet is going to gain the attention of the next generation, besides the sheer point of accessibility.

OA: With all that you do for the small press, how much time do you dedicate to your own writing each day?
MM: The real answer doesn’t exactly matter. I mean, despite what I am doing... there is the guilt. I feel as if I am stealing time from something else. If I’m writing, I should be reading, editing. If I’m doing that, I really should be making something – print lovelies, w/ my hands so I can go oohh... ahh... that’s the ticket. and, if I’m tooling around w/ paper and ribbon, I really should be playing w/ my kids and I probably called off work again and am about to get fired even as I write this– scrunched up between files. I should be working. But, that would just suck. I do the writing whenever and however it calls me to it and so sometimes I end up w/ poems on napkins or envelopes. I think that’s probably typical of a working mother/writer/editor...

OA: What is next for Michele McDannold, RMP, and Red Fez?
MM: Michele is finally going to put her poems together in a chapbook. If somebody wants to print it, that would be way cool. RMP will release another poster. This time, by another Illinois native, FN Wright. Small world, yeah? I also had about 50 of those groovoid mini-cds leftover from Aleathia Drehmer’s reading of Rosewater. Those will go out to some extra lucky readers of my fave print journal, Zygote in my Coffee. Beyond that, it's all hush hush. I can only promise you, it'll be something out of the ordinary.

You should really watch out for Red Fez. Honestly, I am never sure what is coming next. Nobius Black, Rob Taylor, Chris Deal and, of course Leopold McGinnis ... these guys are crazy! I’m outnumbered and suspect mutiny at any moment. For now, we’ve decided to open the publishing schedule to "whenever it is full." So, we’re just looking for the good stuff and then we’ll update. There’s also been talk of a print "best of red fez". but, Please! don’t tell the other editors I told you that.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee, if yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
MM: Coffee, is a must. I like flavored Irish Creme coffee but usually end up with Folgers. I'm not much for coffee shops and such, especially now that Illinois has passed the No Smoking Law.

OA: Some feel music and poetry are closely related. What type of music do you enjoy? Does music ever affect your work in anyway?
MM: I love all kinds of music. Rock, alternative rock, grunge. I guess those are my favorite. I go through phases though and it can be all country or showtunes or something. Music most definitely has influenced my work. The Cherry Bomb Postcard from the first RMP mailer was all Joan Jett.

For more information on Michele McDannold please visit her website, for more on the The Red Fez go here, and to check out and purchase the current mailer from Rural Messenger go here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Artist of the Week

Winston Chmielinski

When you quickly look at someone, regardless of relationship, what do you see? Do you see everything, their entire body, their entire soul all in one glimpse. No, in that one look you can only manage to distinguish a few elements of their face and a general outline of their body. Say this was a chance encounter, when thinking back how do you fill in the details of that person. For most those missing or hidden details of the human body would be filled in by either a blur or with the features of someone we are already familiar with. However, Winston Chmielinski fills in those detail with wildly inventive colors and brush strokes.

I suppose you could say that Boston native, Winston Chmielinski, paints portraits, but it is the explosions of paint make his pieces completely unique. At the age of 19, Winston has an incredible future in "capturing the myriad of colors in the human figure" ahead of him. He has already amassed an amazing collection, and as he continues to create and explore his vision will only become clearer.
Recently, Winston was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Winston Chmielinski (WC): A visual response to what I see, feel, and dream up on a day to day basis, with a touch of vanity for compositional cohesion.

OA: I really enjoy the titles of your pieces. How do you approach giving a piece a title as opposed to leaving it untitled?
WC: My more recent paintings have often been accompanied by a short musing, not necessarily a description, but just the initial idea fleshed-out for a piece. So, naturally, the titles become just as important to the painting as the paint on its surface. The idea may still not be readily apparent to the viewer, but for me, I can use each painting as a marker, and as "responses" I've thus sorted out some struggles in my mind so I can then move on.

OA: Many of your pieces are focused on human subjects. Where do you find your subjects, are they from photos, magazines, etc? Do you always start with a point of reference?
WC: Who the subjects are is unimportant, because I impose my own emotions and feelings onto them; without question however I'm most inspired by how a human figure correlates with its surroundings, and in searching for the right figure or face for my paintings, I scour everything from magazines to old (and new) personal photos.

OA: Do you have a specific color palette that you utilize? Do you ever use color to evoke a specific emotion in the viewer?
WC: Looking back on my work I do see "color trends," but as I develop I've begun to explore and push myself away from such a tendency. However I feel that my color choices have always incorporated some sort of strong juxtaposition, as what I feel are my greatest moments are often the first pigments to touch the white surface, pure and vibrant. Color will always evoke an emotion, but when I am painting, my choices don't seem conscious -- instead they come directly from an idea, and are directed by impulse, rather than anything planned. It's a move from trial-and-error painting to having more confidence in my own ability.

OA: What role do you think "new media" (i.e. blogs, on-line galleries, pdf zines, etc) has played in your early success?
WC: Everything. Knowing that people were affected by my works on-line(through communities like gave me the confidence to then bring my work in person to small venues. I'd even venture to say that most of what's out there on my artwork -- the recent Juxtapoz artist profile, and small features across the web -- have all stemmed from the communities to which I belong, and people spreading the word.

OA: What's next for Winston Chmielinski?
WC: My new years resolution was simply to paint more, so I guess I'm just as curious!

Bonus Questions:
OA: In a recent interview, when asked how you approach the challenges of life, coffee was the first thing you mentioned. What is you favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
WC: There's this little antiquated Chinese bakery on Bayard St in Chinatown, NYC, which has the strongest (and cheapest) Chinese-style coffee and which serves these delicious, scarily-doughy buns that are always steaming hot. I like to sit there, watch the numbers in the ancient cash register spin around, guess the collective age of all the old men who work there, and dip pieces of that virgin dough into my black black coffee.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? What type of music do you enjoy and does music ever affect your work in any way?
WC: I have to listen to music while I paint. Not just background noise either, mind you, because background noise is my pet peeve and my headphones are noise-canceling just for that reason. I can't give you a genre, but when I sit down to paint, I know exactly what I want to listen to... another one of those strange impulses that is highly directed by mood, atmosphere, and my focus at that very moment. Some of my all-time favorites: Blonde Redhead, Broadcast, CocoRosie, Sleater-Kinney, M.I.A; some new obsessions: The Tough Alliance, Plaid, Juvelen.

For more information on Winston Chmielinski please visit his website, and to purchase prints visit his deviant art page.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

GPPReader: Selections From The Poets of The Guerilla Poetics Project

"We move silently through the people"

I know that I have shone the spotlight on the GPP on more then a few occasions, but I just finished reading the GPPReader and simply had to focus the light once more. Unfortunately, this collection is sold out, but I wonder if the demand is generated the presses may be fired back up. We can only hope, but I will tell you that this is one of the finest collections that I have ever read. The GPP poets are passionate about many things, and clearly presentation is one them. All black high gloss cover with a dust-jacket title band of deep red printed by letterpress, via magnesium cut, on an antique 1914 Chandler & Price press. This is the shell, the perfectly placed clothing upon a body that is at times deep and delicate, yet at the right moments sharp and biting.

Even though this collection is sold out there are many way to support the GPP. The most exciting way is to become an Operative, and receive 6 copies of each new broadside. Five to be placed discreetly in soon to be purchased books, and one to keep. Join the literary revolution!

Stephane Leonard "Crown Heights/Brooklyn"

There is never a moment in your day that is completely without sound. The low yet comforting hum of the heating vent, the rattling buzz of the monitor, the energetic clicks of the black and white keys on the keyboard, the kids snoring in the other room, the mighty Chicago wind rattling the screen of the second story window, these are the sounds of my office tonight. True, I had to stop the mp3 player and remove the headphone to acknowledge these sounds, but they are the constant layer of sound my nights are built upon. Back in 2005, sound collector and Brooklyn resident Stephane Leonard spent a summer recording the various layers of sound in his Crown Heights apartment. Here is how he describes it:

The basic materials are recordings of non-obvious sounds: "silence," or silent moments and background noise. The human ear, or more correctly, the human brain tends to blend most of these sounds out. Because these sounds constantly entertain the sub consciousness, it becomes difficult and interesting to access and understand them. Sounds like: the bedroom ventilator, the downstairs air conditioner, the crackles and creaking of the old staircase, vague sounds of the neighbors through the walls, the dogs in the backyard and the street sounds of playing children, passing cars, far away horns and airplanes. Moreover I investigated the inside of my drawer, the sound underneath my mattress and behind the heater with my microphone.

He then transferred his recordings into a music software, and the resulting ep is available for free download over at luvsounds.

New Release Tuesday

Sons and Daughters - This Gift Listen to: Split Lips (mp3)
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Human Bell - Human Bell Listen to: Hymn Amerika (mp3)
Ghislain Poirier - No Ground Under
Louis XIV - Slick Dogs And Ponies Listen to: Guilt by Association (mp3)
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend Listen to: Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (mp3)
Xiu Xiu - Women as Lovers
Bum Kon - Drunken Sex Sucks Listen to: Drunken Sex Sucks (mp3)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Morning Mix

How do you build a mixtape? Is it simply random, or do you start with an agressive attention grabber, or slowly draw the listener in and then finish strong. This weeks mix begins by releasing a few pidgeons, but builds into huge electronic wolf-like explosion. It features music from MGMT, Sunny Day Sets Fire, Hot Chip, Bonde Do Role, The Plastic Constellations, Ssion and more. Enjoy "Pidgeons Developing into Wolves Inside the Pores of my Skin" (Zip/Tracklisting)

Artwork by: "Pidgeons Developing into Wolves Inside the Pores of my Skin" by Elizabeth Ann Lopez

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

What do you say about Imaad Wasif? The new album , Strange Hexes, will be out March 18th and he has added a band called Two Part Beast. This is from the press release: "He/She inhabits both sexes and perspectives at all times, channeling romantics Baudelaire and Rimbaud by way of speed freaks Bowie, Reed, Bolan and Iggy and seen through the eyes of surrealists Dali and Buñuel. The lyrical fragmentation we encounter here is akin to the absurdist methodology found in Alfred Jarry’s, Visits of Love." I think that pretty says everything and really nothing at all... perfect!

Listen to: Oceanic (mp3)

After a year’s delay, Brooklyn indie popsters Hysterics are set to release their debut full-length March 4th, via their own imprint, Big Scary Polar Bear. The record’s release is particularly momentous when you consider the band’s rollercoaster back-story. A quick recap: the high school-aged quartet won over the curator of popular MP3 blog Music For Robots (also the lead singer’s Science teacher) last year, subsequently landing an MTV You Hear It First, and a write up in the New York Times, before getting scooped up by V2 mere moments before the imprint’s demise. But, fortuitously, Oliver Ignatius and company hung on long enough to record an album, and are finally able to bring it to you this March. Filled with the harmonic splendor of The Beach Boys, the percussive violence of Art Blakey, the haunted fragility of The Band, and a host of other 60s signifiers, these twelve tracks belie the band’s young age. Just check out the wistful “Mostly Untitled” for proof of that.

Listen to: Mostly Untitled (mp3)

Jersey City gutter-psychsters The Black Hollies will release Casting Shadows, the follow-up to 2006’s critically-adored Crimson Reflections, March 11th via New York imprint Ernest Jenning. Casting Shadows will be released on March 11th, and it is filled with gritty but classic sounds that both recall a past era and push the sound forward at the same time.

Listen to: Paisley Pattern Ground (mp3)

New Orange Alert favorites Spitzer have big things planned, or they at least they are actively weighing their options. Recently they were asked to remix a couple of song and wanted to share the results of one of the two with everyone.

Listen to: Kylie Minogue - In My Arms (Spitzer remix) (mp3)

The winning musician/band will receive:
-An EP deal with Atlantic Records-A music publishing deal with Peer Music
-A Booking Deal with The Agency Group
-Distribution through ADA from The Rebel Group
-A Showcase at The House of Blues in Hollywood, CA

1) Sign up on and make sure to check the Musician box on the form (this will allow you to add your music to your page.)
2) Gussy up your page with photos, music, your bio and make it all fancy-like, which is super easy on Uber.
3) Head over to the You Bring the Talent page on Uber and grab the embed code for your Voting Module, so you can pop it on your Uber page, or anywhere else you want people to vote for you.

1) The contest is open until March 31st, so there's plenty of time to sign up and get people to vote for you.
2) Your fans can vote ONCE EVERY 24 HOURS. That's right--all of your friends and fans can vote for you once every day, so let people know at your shows and on your website (where you can definitely put up your Voting Module.)
3) Think about this -- If you've got 1000 MySpace friends and half of them vote for you three times a week, that's 15,000 votes. Not too shabby.
4) You can check out the official rules here.

For more information on Uber's You Bring the Talent contest, please visit:

The Peel Back: Aphex Twin "Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2" (1994, Sire)

My recent conversation with Ernest Gonzales have led my back to a more exploratory time in my youth. This double disc adventure was one of three album that would completely occupy my mind for hours. Christmas light ceiling, clove incense, outstretched and floating, totally empty and allowing the slow drone and pulse to bubble and flow through every inch. Followed by a good book, notepad, and a cup of coffee... oh perfection! The adventure of Aphex Twins ambient work only begins when you focus. I swear to this day this there is a loop in one of the tracks that repeats "Bob Dole... Bob Dole... Bob Dole...". It not a pretty image, but I always picture Norm McDonald playing Bob Dole, so it is a little more pleasant.

Disc: 1
cliffs (mp3)/radiator/rhubarb/grass/mold/ropes/circles/weathered stone/tree/domino/steel plate

Disc: 2
blue calx (mp3)/parallel stripes/metal grating/windowsill/b+w stripes/siding nails/corrugated tubing/lichen/leaves/tassels/rusty metal/b+w stripes II

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Watch List

1. The Poison Control Center - Ames, Iowa is home to these pop playing guys who just happen to be on one of my favorite labels. Their debut full-length came out last September, but better late then never. You can stream the entire album here. Listen to: Glory Us (mp3)
2. Elias and The WizzKids - Wizzkids... how fitting! Their music is brilliant, fun, and magical. This band is from Stockholm and they make me happy and want to spin around in my chair. Listen to: The Dance (mp3)
3. LA Riots - "Where were you in '92?" Maybe its is far enough in the past we can have a dj crew with the LA Riots. I'm not sure if it even matters, but when I feel like putting my indie legs to the challenge, and I want to tire out little indie kids, I throw in a solid LA Riot remix. They have remixed some of the hottest names in underground dance music and thye have created the latest Scion mixtape as well. Listen to: Justice - The Party ft Uffie (LA Riots Remix) (mp3)

1. "Missionary" by Paul Eckert: It always seems like aliens are landing on this planet at the worst possible times.
2. "Feet in Socks" by Amy Guth: Memories of youth are always the most vivid.
3. "Susan" by Brandon Scott Gorrell: There is a little bit of Susan in every officer worker who dreams of a mental revolution.
4. "The Banality of Existence" by Lucien Kalen: Wow! "we have tainted reality by perceiving"... If we do not perceive reality is it actually reality?

1. Coachella 2008: It seems like we just finished the summer fest tours, but here we go again... Coachella 2008 line-up is out and tix went on sale yesterday! $269
2. Jason Limon Prints: This past week Jason Limon release 8 new prints through BlueFlip Art. Go buy one and feel good about contributing (10% per sale) to a children’s donation fund!! $45 to $19.95
3. Message Tape: Currently sold out, but worth the wait. What an interesting way to leave a message. £7.50 ($11.05)

1. Literary Fever: No, it is not what a writer gets when he has a cold, but it is a great new pdf zine combining literature and art. This is honestly one of the best zine out there today.
2. Ilustre! magazine Issue #5: Their site says Sept. 07, but it was just released this past week, and is full of lots of great illustrations.
3 MP3 Goodies: No Kids "The Beaches All Closed" (mp3)

1. Sketchtravel: I am fascinated by this project, 50 artist, one book, one page each. The book travels all over the world until it is completed. Here is the video.
3. MGMT "Time to Pretend": Brand new video from the major label duo
4. Jens Lekman "Shirin" from La Blogotheque's Take-Away Shows/Concerts

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning, enjoy this animated video from the beat master Daedelus.

Fair Weather Friends

Friday, January 25, 2008

Band of The Week

Ernest Gonzales

After a cold, busy day I arrive home tired and nearly defeated. Waiting for me, as I labor through snow and tiptoe over ice, is a thin manila envelope postmarked Texas. I pour out the contents and begin to wonder what might be in store. A beautifully designed sleeve gives way to disc that melds with the player instantly. I slide in the headphones and wait for whatever sound the disc has to offer. With in the first few minutes I was taken to a land of samples, beats, blips, and soundscapes. A land where all the ice had melted.

Electronic music is the study of tones. More than any other musical genre, electronic music can focus on a single tone, one note, one sound and dig to a deeper level of understanding. It is truly the music of endless possibilities and ultimate adventure. As technology changes and advances , electronic music grows in capability and in popularity. One musician making an impact in electronic music is Texas native, Ernest Gonzales.

Recently, Ernest took some time out to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): You started Exponential Records back in 2000, what was your original goal with starting record label? What was the most challenging aspect of it all?
Ernest Gonzlaez (EG): The label began as a way of putting out two projects, the first of which being an early album of mine called Algorhythm and the second being a dj mix by DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, both of which were released in 2002. At the time, starting a record label just seemed like a fun thing to do and there really wasn't a goal other than wanting to share my music with friends. The most difficult aspect of the label is getting good exposure without a major label budget and marketing schemes. Maybe one of our artists should date someone famous or shoot up a rapper?

OA: Your label focuses primarily on electronic music, how has the electronic music scene changed since 2000, and where do you see it going in the future?
EG: The electronic music scene is a living thing…always growing and evolving. I've seen it be influenced by hip hop and in turn influencing rock and pop music. It's gone from headphones and raves to the mainstream. I think that electronic music is interesting to me because there is always something new…a new sound or style comes out, it is emulated and then new artists come out and push the boundaries. Not too many other styles of music can say the same. There are too many options out there for the future of the genre waiting to be made.

OA: The latest compilation, Wait 'til the Ice Melts (due March, 2008), is a wonderful collection of electronic musicians from Texas . How did you approach this collection? How can you explain all the great music coming out of Texas lately? Is it SXSW?
EG: Texas is such a huge state filled with tons of creative people who have always been here… we just don't get the recognition that other areas do yet. It probably doesn't help that people have a stereotype of Texas being a conservative old fashioned place but in reality Texas is a very diverse state.

OA: You don't only run the record label, but you also create incredible electronic soudscapes. Tell us about your latest album, While on Saturn's Rings.
EG: While on Saturn's Rings started from an investment in a mixer. In order to test the mixer I plugged in the most readily available instrument I had which happened to be a guitar. I started recording instantly and songs just kept flowing. It always seems like adding one new piece of gear can trigger something in you. I am really happy with the album too because I feel like it represents a lot of my influences all mashed up together. The album also features a remix by Daedelus.

OA: How did you come to call yourself Theory of Everything?
EG: At the time I was taking a Physics class and I remember being so blown away by how reality can be described with math that I thought it was spiritual…plus the geek in me thought it just sounded cool so I went with it. For While on Saturn's Rings I dropped the alias…I kind of grew out of it plus there is a band out there with the same name.

OA: Having a background in art, how do you incorporate this talent into your music and performances?
EG: Making music is very visual process for me…I paint notes and collage samples. Having a background in art also helps because I design most of the artwork for the label. I would love to start incorporating a more visual aspect to my live show.

OA: What's next for Ernest Gonzales and Exponential Records?
EG: I'm looking forward to releasing an album by A.M. Architect, pressing vinyl, putting out some digital releases with some artists, hitting the road and touring this summer and recording new music.

For more information on Ernest Gonzales and Exponential Records please visit their website.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writer's Corner

Jeremy Shipp

When life seems out of control, works seems to drag on, and the routine of it all is simply more then you can stand, what do you do? What if the government funded (along with corporate sponsors) a one year long Vacation for every citizen. You could adventure to far off topical islands, climb mountain, wear logos on your t-shirts, and have the time of your life. However, when Jeremy Shipp tells the story things may not turn out as planned.

Jeremy Shipp is a fiction writer with a twist. A twist that most writers probably posses, but may have trouble apply to their work. Jeremy adds an incredible amount of fantasy to his stories, but at the same time, through his word selection, he is able to keep sense of reality in his work. Vacation is Jeremy's first published novel, and it is creating quite a lot buzz.

Recently, Jeremy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What can you tell us about your debut novel, Vacation?
Jeremy Shipp (JS): I started writing novels when I was 13, so Vacation isn’t the first book I ever wrote. But Vacation is the book I feel most passionate about, so I’m thrilled it’s my debut. Metaphorically speaking, Vacation is a strange journey into the festering wound of civilization. I wrote the story from my heart, my gut, my soul, and my spleen. In other words, there’s a lot of me in this story. (The ink is even made out of my gastric juices and bile.)

OA: I am fascinated by your decision to write this novel in a letter format. I feel it adds to the mystery, and also allows you to pick and choose which details to give reader and which details to omit. What was your original intent in using this format?
JS: My initial thought was something like this: I don’t want Bernard to write this because he’s trying to tell a story. I want him to write this because he needs to. Because he’s in need of catharsis. And then I thought: a letter.

OA: What have you done to publicize your debut novel that other writer's may not have considered? Do you believe that writers need to be more aggressive in the promotion of their work?
JS: I believe writers should promote their work in whatever ways they feel comfortable. Personally, I like to have fun with my promotions. If I didn’t have fun, I don’t think I’d put as much effort into it. So I’ve written weird interviews, such as one with the devil and several with insane grocery bags. I’m not sure why insane grocery bags are so interested in my work. It’s just one of those things, I suppose. Anyway, my readers are really the promotional heroes of this story. They’ve done things like write songs about my book, use my book as a divination tool, etc.

OA: Do you consider yourself a Horror writer? What are your thoughts on the genre in general?
JS: I’m aware of various genre conventions and categories, but I never force any sort of boundaries on my work, as I’m writing them. I think that’s the reason why some people have a difficult time classifying my work. Is Vacation a sci-fi book? Fantasy? Horror? Bizarro? I think it is what it is, and that means different things to different people, and I’m OK with that. I love horror. I think there are many things of this world that are horrifying, and I often feel the urge to write about them.

OA: What can you tell us about The Good People novelette? When might we expect to see it published?
JS: The Good People is a faery tale, in the sense that it’s about faeries. Not all the faeries are very nice, or very sane. It’s going to be published by the good people at Scrybe Press. I’m not sure when. Only the faery folk know at this point.

OA: What's next for Jeremy Shipp?
JS: My novella “Flapjack” is going to be published very soon, in the Bizarro Starter Kit (Blue). And later this year, my short story collection “Sheep and Wolves” is coming out, via Raw Dog Screaming Press. The collection may come with the DVD of the short film I wrote entitled “EGG.” Also, I have a few other screenplays in the works, and I’m about halfway finished with a new novel called “Cursed.”

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JS: I don’t drink coffee, but I’ve heard tell that the Jeremy C. Shipp in dimension #68472389 is a big fan. If I’m remembering correctly, his favorite is mango/dirt coffee, and he drinks it out of a pelican’s mouth.

OA: I picture you sitting in the dark somewhere with just the glow of a laptop screen listening to Bauhaus or Black Tape for a Blue Girl. Please set me straight, what type of music do you enjoy and what of environment do you prefer to write in?
JS: You’re dead on about me sitting in the dark at the computer when I’m writing. Sometimes I even turn off the monitor, so that I’m in complete darkness. OK, that part was a lie, but the rest of it’s true. I tend to listen to instrumental music, or music in a language that I don’t know very well. English lyrics tend to distract me (except for The Cranberries, for some reason). Though when I’m focused enough, I enjoy The Flaming Lips, Cat Stevens, Rilo Kiley, etc. Usually I’m listening to Japanese rock or pop. Otaku desu.

For more information on Jeremy Shipp please visit his website, and to purchase your copy of Vacation go here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Artist of the Week

Jeremiah Kuch

It was one of the hottest weekends of the summer, the air wrapped around me like a blanket and begin to squeeze the energy right out. It was Friday morning and I was not at work, but on the train headed into the city for three glorious days of music. The August sun beat down upon my neck as I walked the 10 blocks to the festival, and arrived just in time to wait in line for my wristband while missing the first band. Every moment of each day was filled with wonderful performances, crowds of people, and free stuff. People were handing out bandannas, fans, postcards, pins, cds, etc. The pockets of my oversized shorts were filled. Walking out just before Pearl Jam, on the final day of the festival, I see a pin laying on the ground. Small, white, with sun light bouncing off of its face. I pick it up and read... "JERE MIAH KUC HART". Puzzled, I board the train home, pin in hand.

Jeremiah Kuch uses vintage images to create surreal pieces of art. Currently residing in Indiana, his pieces combine both the familiar and the unknown in a rather unique way. Recently, Jeremiah was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Jeremiah Kuch (JK): A disarray of color with a bit of history.

OA: Can you take us through the process of creating a new piece? Where are you finding a lot of the images you use in your pieces? How are they applied to the canvas (or wood, it's hard to tell over the internet)?
JK: Using paper, cardboard, or even cereal boxes as a foundation, the pieces develop layer by layer through the use of acrylics, inks, water,coffee and other mediums. Experimentation with application and mediums has been a vital element in development of the pieces. The environments are free to grow and build. The medium and I work together to achieve a desired textural surrounding. The hand cut clippings come from old books and magazines (1950's Humorama pin-up magazines etc.) acquired overtime. Subjects are carefully chosen for each environment and then placed appropriately using a gel medium. Last layers are then worked back in to finish the pieces.

OA: How did the jagged cutting of the subjects mouths come about? It is definitely a powerful effect.
JK: Some subjects receive jagged mouths to eliminate their facial expressions and provide a clear escape for inner emotion.

OA: Who are some of your biggest influences artistically?
JK: Robert Rauschenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel are three big inspirations. Rauschenberg's combines and his innovative processes are very influential. Basquiat provides a great graffiti rooted style in his collages. Schnabel has excellent use of color and composition.

OA: There are several political undertones in your work. How has the war affected your work, and in your opinion the arts scene as a whole?
JK: In my own pieces I occasionally use the war as a means to stir up emotion in the viewer whatever that emotion may be. I just want the pieces to be a small catalyst to make people reflect on their own thoughts of the war and even maybe just maybe why they feel the way they do. The art scene is always going to be affect by current events and right now currently we have a war. People always have different opinions on war so it definitely affects the art scene. Your going to see a lot of anti-war art and then maybe some supportive stuff.

OA: What's next for Jeremiah Kuch?
JK: More Art Shows is the plan. Keep moving forward in developing new processes, incorporating new mediums and possibly moving to some larger scale pieces. I have a whole collection of original photos from the eighteen hundreds just waiting to be cut up.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JK: There is this little local place in Marion, Indiana called Southside Diner where a nice coat of smoke covers everything. They have they best cup of black coffee ever. It comes out with an almost film like surface on top. So good cup after cup. I always drink to much when I'm there.

OA: I came to discover your work through a button I picked up a music festival. Do you think there is a connection between art and music? Who are some of your favorite bands to listen to while creating?
JK: I always surround myself with music when creating pieces. You will always hear a whole mix of music when in my studio from artists like Wolf Parade, Of Montreal, Ghostland Observatory, Jakeway, GhostfaceKilla, M.I.A, MSTRKRFT, David Bazan, Okkervil River and Tapes n' Tapes. My art is very connected to the music I listen to.

For more information on Jeremiah Kuch please visit his website.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Aster "Some Things Seldom Heard Of" (self-released, 1/22/08)

"There are currents. Indisputable channels of energy that constantly ebb and flow. Like the entangled arms of an infinite host of octopi writhing and enmeshed together in some salty roman orgy. But the beasts have no heads and there is no common goal. Accidents happen."

This is the first paragraph of Aster's unbelievably long (they call it epic) bio, but I love those last two words, "accidents happen". Was it an accident that I just happened to grab their self-released full-length debut from stack on a particulaly cold January day? A day that needed warmth, that needed a vibrant accident to pour through the air. Honest black coffee rumbles and hums into the mornings glass pot, and the gentle melodic pop of Aster fills the kitchen. There are things that are seldom heard of, but on this morning the twinkling electronics of Aster are not one of those things.

Some Things Seldom Heard Of
Run Away From The Suits/The Great Escape/In The Benthos/Attempting To Multiply (mp3)/Silence And Summer/Solitary Life/Stop The Parade/We Won't Remember/Some Things Seldom Heard Of/Vaudeville/Theme Song

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal "Keepers of Silence" (Kendra Steiner Editions, 2007)

"I talk to the night/and ask it/to slow down/for me"

It was no accident that Luis Berriozabal met Luis Omar Salinas, it was destiny. This collection of poems is so intensely honest and personal you almost feel slightly intrusive reading through them. When read together these poems seem to tell the story of friendship while questioning both time and purpose. The final poem in the small collection is "Cuauhtemoc, The Poet", and it is an affirmation he might use to confirm in place among the greats or even just his place among the everyday. Simply Luis is a Poet, and one of the finest living today.

This chapbook was only printed in a run of 64, and I now hold #13 with honor and care. To order yours visit Kendra Steiner Editions.

New Release Tuesday

Aster - Some Things Seldom Heard Of Listen to: Attempting to Multiply (mp3)
Black Mountain - In The Future
Bodies of Water - Ear Will Pop & Eyes Will Blind Listen to: We Are Co-Existors (mp3)
Cat Power - Jukebox
Hunters, Run! - Forgotten Souvenirs of the Modern Age Listen to: It's Going to Be a Dark Dark Night (mp3)
Evangelicals - The Evening Descends
Hey Willpower - P.D.A. Listen to: In The Basement (mp3)
Matt Costa - Unfamiliar Faces
New Times Vikings - Rip It Off


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Monday Morning Mix

I've never been one to worry about how I sounded audible until this past weekend. It is a weird experience to listen to yourself talk, and I can only image what it would be like to hear yourself sing. The title of this week's mix comes from a painting with the same title from the artist Netherland. I found it an incredible coincidence that his show at Chicago's DVA Gallery opened the same night that I took part in this podcast with Jason Petus of CCLaP and Nick Ostdick of RAGAD which was hosted by Ben Tanzer. So have listen to both the podcast and this week's mix and tell me "How Do I Sound" (Zip/Tracklist)

Artwork: "How Do I Sound" by Netherland

Orange Alert's Music Minute

Adam Duritz is the literary soul behind the fifteen year career of Counting Crows. I confess, as a young lad it was his lyrics that led me to the libraries and bookstores to discover my muse. He spoke of Angels, loves won and lost, change... he spoke to the simply nature of youth in a way that others in popular music at the time were unable to .

On March 25, Counting Crows will release their fifth studio album (and their first in five years), Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, on Geffen/Interscope. Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is just your average brilliant, unsparing rock & roll song cycle about the high life and the low life, about sin and whatever the hell follows. This is an album with two distinct yet deeply related halves: Saturday Nights -- the album’s angry, electric, dissolute opening salvo -- was produced by Gil Norton (The Pixies, Foo Fighters.) The more acoustic and folk-influenced Sunday Mornings was produced by Brian Deck whose past credits include Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine.

For Duritz, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is “about dissolution and disintegration. It’s about when Saturday night happens and you lose all sense of yourself. And it’s about when you wake up Sunday morning and look back at the wreck you’ve made of your life and you think, 'How can I possibly fix this? How can I ever climb out of this hole?' And then you start to try and climb.”

Listen to: 1492 (mp3) and When I dream of Michelanglo (mp3)

Speaking of fifth studio albums, don't let the new name fool you, Eric Elbogen has simply shortened the clever Say Hi To Your Mom to Say Hi. THE WISHES AND THE GLITCH is his fifth studio album and it will be released on Feb. 5th. It doesn’t take too many spins to hear that something very different is happening on his latest effort. The barrage of indiepop songs that fills Wishes' thirty-six minutes is musically richer than anything Elbogen has done before. Keyboards chime and swoosh, drums bump, basslines wiggle and vocal melodies shoot and fall, converging at the expected intersections some places and surprising with new tangents others.

Say Hi will be appearing at The Beat Kitchen here in Chicago on February 22nd. For all of their tour dates check out their myspace page.

Listen to: Northwestern Girls (mp3)

DEBT DEPT is the FOURTH record by Excepter. It's also their first record for Paw Tracks, and it will be released on March 11, 2008.
Excepter is an electronic performance group devoted to the destruction of boundaries between the psychic friends network and reality television.

DEBT DEPT is an album of protest songs played in anti-commercial style with a timeless message for today’s election-year consumer:


DEBT DEPT was recorded in FIVE days, in THREE intervals, over the course of NINE months. Of SEVENTEEN tracks recorded, EIGHT tracks remain, molded by FOUR successive layers of building and erasing, TWO bands in ONE.

LISTEN TO: Kill People (mp3) Here is their footnote to "Kill People": Originally titled “Guns and Roses,” this workout brings to mindthe old NRA clause, here reduced to its essential conclusion.

Why? has big plans for 2008, new album, tour, big time super-stardom, etc, etc. It all starts this March with the release of Alopecia on March 1tth and the start of the tour. You can check out their myspace page for all of the tour dates, but here is a preview of and special little treat.

Listen to: The Hollows (mp3) and Close to Me (The Cure cover) (mp3)

The Peel Back: The Cure "Head on the Door" (1985)

Where I appreciate and understand the importance of The Cure I have never been a huge fan their music. I have seen them live and been exposed to most of their music, and of all their releases 1985's Head on the Door is my favorite. I enjoy each of the tracks on this album, but most of all it is the bounce and the joy of "Close to Me" that I really love. The short little jabs of the horns to go along with the wonderful melody truly solidifies this album for me.

Head on the Door
In Between Days (mp3)/Kyoto Song/The Blood/Six Different Ways/Push/The Baby Screams/Close to Me (mp3)/A Night Like This/Screw/Sinking

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Watch List

1. Mini People in Coney Island - Rio de Janeiro is home to this wonderfully name musician who describes his music as a lo-fi ferris wheel, and I couldn't agree more. His casio music floats and twirls like a Saturday night carinval in July. His debut album is available for free download on his myspace page. Listen to: Brooklyn (mp3)
2. Trouble Over Toyko - Indie-lectro? I guess that sounds ok. Toph is from London and he claims to be the leader of the indie-lectro movement. However, it is more his voice than his programming skill that make Trouble Over Tokyo extremely exciting to listen to. Listen to: Assembly Line (mp3)
3. The Carrots - If you think The Pippettes are on the right path then you will love The Carrots. Austin, TX is home to this 60's girl group revival act. This year they will be touring all over the country and releasing a series of 7 inches on Elefant Records throughout 2008. The first one is due for release in March. Listen to: Beverly (mp3)

1. "Smoke and the Unventilated" by Christopher Cunningham: A rare short story from one of my favorite poets.
2. "Sitting on the Steps" by G. Emil Reutter: This is a story/poem hybrid about the girl next door.
3. "Off Day" by Charles Lennox: What a lovely thought, to take a day off from reality, all reality, not just work or school, but everything.
4. "This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record (excerpt)" by Susannah Felts: Featherproof was kind enough to give everyone a preview of one my most anticipated books of 2008 as the latest installment of their mini-book series.

1. Freshly Dipped is now open! This brand new website features the works of 30 different artist. They have originals, prints, apparel, toys and more.
2. "Breaking it Down" by Rusty Barnes: This is the latest release from sunnyoutside press, and it is a collection of 18 pieces of flash fiction. $12

1. Iniciativa Colectiva Issue #8: One of the best art zine around, their January issue features the work Jeff Soto, Camilla Rose Garcia, Chris Anthony, and much more!
2. Inbox Goodies: The Epochs - Opposite Sides (mp3), The Big Sheep - Bad Blood (mp3)
Hello, Blue Rose - Sunny Skies (mp3)

1. Excepter "Burgers": From the forth coming album Debt Dept due March 8th, Excepter helps me remember why I am a Vegetarian!
2. Lucky Man Sells Out: We finally find out what Ben Tanzer runs on!
3. She & Him "You Put a Spell on Me (Live)": This has to be my most anticipated release of 2008 (sorry Moz!), Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are going do it right and do it big.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning while you enjoy a nice bowl of Trio, watch this beautifully animated video from Wild Sweet Orange.

Wrestle With God

Friday, January 18, 2008

Band of the Week

The Terrordactyls

"If you want to die/Give me a call/We’ll have each other bleeding in no time at all/Our summer’s ending/Now, it’s time we fall."

The sweet sadness (or sad sweetness) of life hand wrapped and delivered straight to the deepest memories of your childhood. That is what Michael Cadiz and Tyrel Stendahl have managed to achieve on their self-titled full length debut while living across the country from each other. Amidst the extended and passionate kazoo solos, the toy piano melodies, and lo-fi guitar strums lives the conflicted story of youth. The I love you, but you broke my knee caps, the joy and sorrow, the humor and the tears, all packed into a charming 37 minutes. You can't help but fall in love with the bittersweet fun and confusion, and simply sit back and float along.

The Terrordactyls have personally put together 1,000 copies of this debut album. All of the artwork has been drawn by Tyrel Stendahl, and when you open the cd their is a wonderful pop-up of a piece of machinery. However, if you can not afford the $10, the songs are available for free download on their website. They also have two ep and tons of other goodies available for sale.

Recently, both Mike and Tyrel took some time out from making cds and taking silly pictures of themselves to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Living across the country from each other has to make recording difficult. How was this handled?
Michael Cadiz (MC): Until recently, I have been recording things separately and then going to New York to record Ty's parts. It doesn't necessarily make things too difficult, but it doesn't make the recordings very cohesive. The next album will be different. I'm recording demos now. After that, we'll spend a some time together arranging and performing the songs before we start to record anything. We will also probably have somebody help us that actually knows what they are doing.
Tyrel Stendahl (TS): We may technically live across the country but I’m back in Seattle constantly and Michael is in New York for months at a time. I’m pretty sure we’re together
more than we are apart.

OA: The liner notes to the album state that a lot of the writing for this album was done in Chicago. What are your Chicago ties?
MC: I went to school there for a while. It was pretty unremarkable. I spent most of my time alone in practice rooms that looked like refrigerators.
TS: Yeah, Michael went to fancy guitar school there for a year before Joining me at Evergreen State in Olympia. He made the right choice.

OA: You don't hear the kazoo used too often in popular music, how did you come to
use this unique instrument in your music?
MC: I don't really remember.
TS: Kazoo is pretty awesome…and you don’t need any talent or to practice to make it sound exactly like it is supposed to sound, which is fun. They are also cheap.

OA: The appearance by Kimya Dawson on "Devices" is perfectly done. How did you
come to work with her?
MC: I think that we met her at a show she played with The Pharmacy at Second Avenue Pizza a long time ago. I missed it though. I had to fly somewhere the next day... or something. I don't really remember. I was probably mostly just being dumb. Anyway, I wrote to her a while ago and asked her if she would sing on one of our songs that needed a female part. I didn't really know her very well before that. I think that my only encounter with her was when we had a short conversation about The Mighty Ducks and how one of us had read something online
about them maybe making a fourth film... but that never happened. Anyway, she was really nice about everything. In exchange, I helped to record her singing on some songs by Tiny Masters of Today... she also recorded a pretty good rattle solo.
TS: Kimya is amazing. We think she is wonderful and were very excited when she agreed to sing on Devices. I’ve tried singing that part but it is super awkward.

OA: In the video for "Decorating Daniel" the two of you are seen making the cd packages. Were they all handmade? How many cds were made?
MC: 1,000 all by hand. Glue sticks and box cutters. Our friend Jenn helped us a bunch though.
TS: Yep all 1000 made by hand. Each one starts out as a printed sheet of 11 x 17 paper and gets cut, folded and glued. We’re very proud of them.

OA: What was the reasoning behind making the album available for free download through your website?
MC: We don't have real distribution and we weren't making any money anyway, so we decided that, at least for the time being, we would put it up there for free.
TS: The more people that listen to it the better, right? If people like it we’re happy, and maybe they’ll order one of the handmade pop-up ones?

OA: What's next for The Terrordactyls?
MC: Tour in March and April. SXSW. Another album. We're probably going to start selling paintings and crafts on our website to raise money for tour and living.
TS: We also just put out a 5 song limited edition EP of cover songs by our friends from Seattle, The Pharmacy. It’s on Don’t Stop Believin’ Records and its super fancy. It even comes with Terrordactyls Trading cards. You can pick it up on our website.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your
favorite coffee spot?
MC: I'm not that picky about coffee. I actually like really cheap diner coffee.
TS: I love Coffee. I am also fond of cheap diner coffee and will love a place that has waitresses that are on top of refills. New York kind of sucks for this, I’m very excited about our upcoming tour.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
MC: Right now, I'm reading 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by James Joyce. I like it so far. I don't really like talking about books though.
TS: I’ve been reading and dissecting Lots of pop-up books for a secret project Michael and I have been working on. The best thing I’ve come across lately is Moby-Dick: a Pop-Up Book by Sam Ita.

Facelift/Sabina/Zombie Girl/I Want to Cry/Decoration Daniel/Fall/Devices/Sandcastles/Shipping/Parking Lots/Nobody Knows/Swimming/Home/Baltimore

For more information on The Terrordactyls or to get a very cool pop-up cd visit their website. You can also check out their myspace page for tour dates which begins March 7th, in Seatle, WA.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Writer's Corner

Richard Wink

"Luckily I have a coffee stained notepad to log this disappointment."

Disappointment or better yet disenchantment... these are thoughts and visions of a 23 year old writer from Norwich, England facing the reality of the world around him. From the parties, to the girls, to celebrities, to media, to the workplace all of life's disappointments are logged with in Richard Wink's latest chapbook, The Magnificent Guffaw. That's right guffaw, in spite of the false nature of reality there is a certain amount humor in botox lips and the sacrifice for orange skin. It is this ability laugh at all of the problems found in his relationships that gives him hope.

The Magnificent Guffaw is Richard's third chapbook behind The Beehives and Stress. He the editor of the on-line literary (for common people) Gloom Cupboard. Recently, Richard was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Your latest chapbook, The Magnificent Guffaw, is a great collection touching on several topics. How did you choose the poems for this collection? Is there a connecting theme?
Richard Wink (RW): I often find the process of choosing poetry for a collection quite daunting but my main aims for this chapbook were to attempt to move on from 'Stress' my previous chapbook which was in many ways was a book summing up my adolescence, chasing after love, getting pissed and puking in the back of a Taxi . 'The Magnificent Guffaw' is the step into adulthood (I hate that word) and has much more depth, touching upon a great deal of topics including the love / hate relationship I have with the city of Norwich which is the recurrent theme throughout the book. I guess in many ways there is a sense of optimism, though its not in the face of the reader its constantly bubbling under the surface of the chapbook. Going back to the process of selection its basically trial and error, I'm writing poetry everyday so the wheels are always turning and there is always plenty of material to work with, the challenge is putting it together and trying to tell a story.

OA: The final poem in the collection, Hope, is a great way to close the book. It also feels like the most honest piece as well. Did this piece originate as a letter? Can you tell the story behind it?RW:It's written about my parents, though my immediate family has gone through a lot we have always stuck together and that has been very important to me personally. I come from a family of unique and wonderful characters and have been brought up with a strong work ethic, a liberal take on the world and a desire to succeed against the odds. Despite making some mistakes my family have always supported me and this poem is probably the most literal and open of the collection as it talks of my desire to provide for my parents as they have provided for me.

OA: Why isn't poetry more marketable? I am sure the on-line marketplace has helped, but why are more people not buying chapbooks?
RW: In my personal opinion there aren't many personalities in the world of poetry. People tend to gravitate towards charismatic and interesting people, people who have an element of mystique and danger surrounding them. I know of many talented poets around the world who are alive and kicking but I can't think of the face behind the page. In the past poets were like rockstars, they flirted with high society, courted a myth and created an interest and a fascination. The only group of poets who could potentially flirt with the mainstream are The Brutalists, though I've been openly critical of them in the past they are at least trying to force poetry down peoples throats which can only be a good thing.With regard to why people are not buying chapbooks, I think in many ways poets are preaching to the converted and selling books to the same audience. I think some writers have a deluded idea that they are going to make a few quick bucks with their poetry which should never be the case. Poetry is an art, its a simple art that anyone can do but its an art nonetheless and should not be treated as a commodity. I'm perfectly happy to give my books away for free if it will mean that people will read what I have written.

OA: There seems to be big things going on over at Gloom Cupboard. What can you tell us about the print edition?
RW: Its taken off quite nicely which has surprised me somewhat as whenever I start a new project I do so with a lot of trepidation and a healthy dose of scepticism. The aim of Gloom Cupboard is to act as a showcase for writers. I have no ulterior motives and importantly there are very few restrictions in terms of style and content.

OA: What were the original thoughts behind starting a literary journal? Are you pleased with the outcome thus far?
RW: Last year was the fortieth anniversary of the year of Punk 1977. The Pistols got back together for more filthy lucre and there was a whole host of nostalgic programmes on TV. I became fascinated about the DIY ethic surrounding the filth and the fury and along with being influenced by what I read in Simon Reynolds book 'Rip it up and start again' I decided to get off my arse and get involved more in the 'literary scene' so I started Gloom Cupboard. The name 'Gloom Cupboard' came about when I got home after a heavy night out and wandered around the kitchen looking for a cup so I could rehydrate with a glass of water. Even with the light on the cupboard was gloomy and I struggled to find a cup and then I thought to myself gloom cupboard. I wrote it in my notepad and randomly chose it. That's such a crap story but sadly its true, its not a metaphor for the inner workings of the human soul or anything interesting like that Am I pleased? Yes extremely so, its going well touch wood and I have discovered the work of many fantastic writers who i'm sure will all go on to great things.

OA: What's next for Richard Wink?
RW: I'm working on my first novel. Those who read the first draft of this will know that it was pretty shit, so I have reworked it completely and have began the arduous process of typing it up. I have plans to release another chapbook this year and then there is the much anticipated Print Edition of Gloom Cupboard. I like to have my fingers in many pies so to speak. I am also interested in working on a collaboration with someone as well but that's just an idea i'm floating out there.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee, if yes what is your favourite type of coffee and where is your favourite coffee spot?RW: I've tried to embrace Starbucks I really have, going for these fancy mocha choca latino cappuccinos but I like my drinks to be simple. Basic coffee, milk and two sugars.

OA: Some feel music and poetry are closely related. What type of music do you enjoy? Does music ever affect your work in anyway?
RW: I'm a huge fan of all types of music. I cannot write without music in the background, so its an integral part of the creative process. Recently I've gotten into Jeffrey Lewis, Television, Cocteau Twins, Born Against and Roxy Music, so yes I am shunning the hype and going back in a time machine revisiting the classics.

To purchase a copy of The Magnificent Guffaw you can e-mail Richard directly here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Artist of the Week

Julie Peppito

In a world filled with endless wars, toxic chemicals and waste, consistent death and misery, the average viewer/consumer has to come to a point where he/she must scream, "No More!". Whether it is television, newspaper, internet, or just life we are flooded by the images of reality. A reality that as a child you never could have imagined would have been possible. However, we are forced to witness these realities on a daily basis while attempting in vain to maintain the innocence we were once given. One artist who is utilizing this reality to create fantasy is Brooklyn resident, Julie Peppito.

Julie in her words "transforms trinkets, trash, and the residue of Americana into paintings, statuettes, collages and installations". In many of her pieces the sketch begins at a place innocence or familiarity and then the layers of color and object begin to build. They build until nearly the point of chaos, but unlike reality where there seems to be absolutely no control, Julie is very much in control of her pieces. Yet, it is that contrast between reality and fantasy that has drawn so many to her work.

Recently, Julie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): The way you mix childlike images with color explosions and chaos brings to mind a loss of innocence. Would you say that is a common theme in your work?
Julie Peppito (JP): Yes I would. It's a personal loss of innocence - like when I came to New York City from Oklahoma and was exposed to news media that was not owned by corporations (WBAI, Democracy Now!). I learned the ways we are lied to and how those lies have hurt us by keeping us 'innocent' (oblivious) as a society. For example, I heard about global warming and the many facts that support it many years ago, many Oklahomans are only now beginning to believe it because the rhetoric of the oil industry is so ingrained there. Also, you're kept in this shopping bubble far from the reality of those who make the things you buy and the impact that that production has on the environment. Of course that happens in New York too, but if you choose to you can get a different perspective on it here.

OA: What are some of the major influence on your work?
JP: Flying beings, crawling beings, rolling beings, beings with personality and feeling (including human beings), trees. And folk art from many cultures: Native America, India, China, Mexico and Americana. Also, my husband Gideon Kendall - I make much of my work for him.

OA: You have some very interesting titles, how much thought goes into the titles of your pieces?
JP: Sometimes they just come to me, sometimes I labor over them, sometimes I ask Gideon what he thinks. When I was younger I used to hate titling my work because I thought it sounded fake or pretentious. But then I realized I had something to say and words helped with that.

OA: There are several military and political images in your work. Has the current war had a significant impact you and your work or is it simply a current event and therefore a subject?
JP: Yes. I don't think that even if you are a landscape painter you can avoid talking about the war. It is in the national and worldwide consciousness. If you are not talking about it directly you are avoiding talking about it and therefore talking about it. I choose to both avoid talking about it and talk about it - if that makes any sense. I express the two oppositions that are always at war within myself - the need to escape the horror of this war and our despicable role in it and my need to face the reality of it, and my part in it. What I have struggled most over in my art is to bring together my feelings of confusion, frustration and rage over the way the world is and my love of fantasy, escape and beauty. By the way, I'm not knocking landscape painting, or anyone who chooses not to speak about politics with their work. It is something that I need to do.

OA: Do you have a set color palette? Do you ever use color to evoke a particular emotion or feeling in the viewer?
JP: I don't consciously have a palette but I think i instinctively often end up using the same or similar colors. I do consciously use red & pink sometimes for more impact or to symbolize emotion, passion or blood.

OA: What's next for Julie Peppito?
JP: I just got back from Miami and was in two art fairs there: Flow & Aqua. The galleries I worked with, Heskin Contemporary and Julie Baker Fine Art, both did very well with my work. I sold work and met many curators, collectors and artists. I'm hoping that some interesting show opportunities will come out of that. I've gotten some commissions where I incorporate other peoples stuff (sentimental and throw-away) into pieces for them. This is exciting to me - to be able to make portraits of them through the stuff they collect and use.

Also, I've been working on a series of flying creatures. I hope to be able to make enough to fill a room with them and make an installation called "Swarm" - a cross between a fantastical environment that I imagine escaping into and the nightmares that I have of what will become of our world if we continue on this path of environmental degradation and war. I have already done a small installation of this with four creatures.

Lastly, a playground I worked on was completed last year near The Brooklyn Museum. I hope to design more pieces for playgrounds very soon.

Bonus Questions:
OA: In a recent interview you listed punk rock as influence on your work. Who are some of your favorite punks bands? Are there others any other types of music or musicians you listen to?
JP: Wow, there are so many:
Punk/New Wave: Au Pairs, Xray Spex, Gang of Four, Devo, Dogfaced Hermans, Wire, The Fall, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan's Tubeway Army, Pretenders.

Hip Hop: Public Enemy, The Coup and Mr. Lif.
Other: MIA, Bjork, Grandaddy, Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Roxy Music, Led Zepplin, Jimmy Hendrix, David Bowie, Cooling Pies (I'm in it, so is Gideon), Fake Brain (Gideon's old band).
There are many more.

OA: Has there ever been an object you thought of putting into a piece, but then felt it would be to distracting or unusual? Basically, is there any object or thing that you would not put into a piece?
JP: It depends on the piece some objects don't work in some pieces. But I think I could always find a place for any object even if I have to design a new piece around it.

For more information on Julie Peppito please visit her website.