The best open face sandwich I've ever had was from a local place called Al's Cafe. It was a piece of pumpernickel bread smoothed in cooked spinach, sprouts, mushrooms, pine nuts, and finally Munster cheese on top. It would go well with a cup of coffee and my favorite new annual literary journal, The Open Face Sandwich. So, what makes this journal the best I've read in a long time? Well, of course the content needs to be solid and in turn the editors must be of quality, but for me it is the design and presentation. With this annual even the paper quality is extremely appealing. Yet, what first drew me to the journal was the cover. Simple and clean but still with a sharp sense of humor, the cover really sets the tone for the rest of the journal.
What's more even appealing is the diversity of content; from the lost excerpts from Hortense Caruthers to the great pieces of short fiction from Nathan Hill, Cindy May Murphy, and many more to the poems to an interview (in Hell) with Louis-Ferdinand Celine's. Yet, there are two sections of this 192 page collection that are both shocking and very funny in there own ways. First, 33 pages in you find "My Gernll!!!!!!!!!" by Thomas Birdson. It looks like scanned pages of an 8 eight-year-olds journal from August 1992 to May 1993. It is a hilarious and a pointent look at the life and thoughts of a young boy. "If I cold fix my own brefest I wold make mash patato's, musterd, a pizza". The second surprising find sits dead center in this collection, and it is a series of photographs by Meshakai Wolf called "Found in Atlanta". The images document various images of roadkill (yes, roadkill) from a rabbit to chipmunks to cats. It is shocking, but at the same time well presented. It just adds emphasis to an already exciting and interesting addition to the literary scene.
The Open Face Sandwich is now accepting submissions for the 2009 issue.
These United States Crimes (United Interests, Sept. 23rd, 2008)
I suppose it is not all that uncommon to see the words "United States" and "Crimes" next to each other, but it is uncommon for a band to release two full-length album in the same year. However, that is exactly what Kentucky band These United States has accomplished. Releasing their debut album, A Picture of the Three of us at the Gate of the Garden of Eden, back in March, the boys weren't satisfied and were not going to rest. They were looking for rock-and-roll reformation, and locked themselves away for six days at Shangri-La Studios. The result is Crimes, a backyard bar room romp through sins, dreams, contemplations, and all the confusions of life.
Crimes, like several albums released this year, has a strong message of faith, the struggle, the pain, the misdirection and apathy. Yet Jesse Elliot is able to keep the focus, and keep the album upbeat and energetic. The album opens with the story of Cain and Able and takes you through the "wicked world" filled deception, thieves, and pain. However, through it all Elliot leaves you with this magnetic line "O, if the thing that drives you onward is your heart, you must not let that engine die". It is a statement sums up the album, the band, and honestly life in general.
Listen to: West Won (mp3)