Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.

The term culture can cover so many different ideas and principles, topics and creations, thoughts and theories. I had thought that I had been talking about culture over the last year and a half, and maybe I had, but today I feel we are about to touch on a whole new level of culture. Perhaps it is because we are about to discuss two very different cultures, or maybe it is may fascination and honest ignorance about cultures other then my own, but I am extremely honored to presented the following interview. I love the story that Zosimo has tell and I am greatful that he opened up and allowed his thoughts to flow.

Filipino writer Zosimo Quibilan, Jr. currently lives in Los Angeles, but he is originally from the Philippines. His debut novel, Pagluwas, was written in his native language, and he just complete the first translation. In fact most of his writing is done in his native language, and then translated. As we will find out, this can change elements of a story making both texts all the more interesting. A National Award winner in the Philippines, Zosimo continues to study and elevate his personal culture and his native country's culture, all while learning the new culture in L.A.

It is my pleasure to present the thoughts of Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.

Orange Alert (OA): Your debut novel, Pagluwas, was published in 2006 on UP Press, and won a national book award. What was that experience like? Do you still look back at that work with fondness?
Zosimo Quibilan (ZQ): Pagluwas is still fresh to me as when I first came up with the idea. It began as a writing exercise - to write really short stories about random objects. After I had come up with around 20 stories, the idea of making them inter-connected followed. When I submitted the manuscript, I left it to the Press to classify the book. As expected, they saw it as a collection of short stories. Later, it won in that category at the 2006 Philippine National Book Awards.

I wanted Pagluwas to accomplish so many things. For one, I wanted to challenge conventional notions in Philippine fiction like, say, the prescribed length. I didn't write flash fiction because that was the trend but it was my response to the 21st century reality of having less and less time to read. And because the Philippines does not have a reading tradition/culture (more on this later), I thought writing shorts might just spark anew an interest in the written word.

I also used colloquial Filipino in the book to see if such language would be acceptable in the academe/literary scene. In the Philippines, the chances of getting published usually depend on the type of language one uses. Although no one would dare admit, there is an unwritten rule that the language of Philippine literature must be in either formal Filipino, or English. In fact, most of the magazines in the Philippines that publish poems and short stories are English-language magazines. Meanwhile, colloquial Filipino is usually considered the language used by the masses. It's also the language used in what is considered "low culture" – slapstick comedy shows, noontime variety shows, tabloid sheets - in short, it is used practically everywhere but never in literature.

Since I wrote in the language that's not alienating to ordinary people, (I wanted to do as Raymond Carver did, to write in the language that people actually use), I thought there was little chance for my manuscript to even get reviewed. Luckily, I got published.

I wanted to go out and promote this alternative view of literature written in Filipino but two days after I launched the book, my family moved to the U.S. I didn't even have the chance to bask, so to speak, in the light of being a "published writer."

The book, however, was well-received by critics so I guess that's good enough. The National Book Award was an even greater affirmation although I wasn't really able to relish the success. I was already here when I won. Also, despite the award, I still wonder whether I was able to influence a new way of looking at Philippine literature. There's still a lot of work to be done. That's why Pagluwas will always remain fresh to me. It will forever remind me of my dream to usher in change in Filipino-language fiction, at least.

OA: What percentage of your work is written in your native language? Do you feel that emotion or intention or anything can be lost or confused when your text is translated to English?
ZQ: Ninety percent of my work is written in Filipino. And while translating it into English can be easy for me to a certain extent because I was – like most Filipinos are -- raised bilingual, many things are indeed lost in translation. Cadence, for example, is a challenge to preserve in translation. Since cadence affects the general emotion of a story, I guess you can say some emotion is lost. My wife, who helps me translate my work, notes that the rhythm of my prose is usually lost in translation.

It is also difficult to translate some idiomatic expressions or distinct Filipino cultural subtleties but that's a common problem. In these cases, there is always a struggle between translating literally and resorting to adaptation.

OA: I've seen you make comments about the way literature is perceived or accepted in the Philippines. Is there the same market or demand or appreciation for literature there as there is in the states?
ZQ: Discussing literature in a third world country like the Philippines must always be grounded in economics. Don't get me wrong, but there is an abundance of talented Filipino writers. In fact, Penguin Classics is set to release Filipino American poet Jose Garcia Villa's collected poems in August. The challenge lies in making the works of literature reach the people when there are only a few major presses that publish creative writing (poetry, short stories, etc.). Getting published is not an assurance that one will have readers. People would rather spend their hard-earned money on necessities like food or rent than books or magazines.

Last Friday, I listened to Filipino American writer Ninotchka Rosca, who won an American National Book Award for her novel Twice Blessed, talk at a local bookshop. She was celebrating the 20th anniversary of State of War, her first book, which was published here in the States. At one point in her speech, Rosca expressed her shock after learning from a certain fact book that only three percent of Filipinos read (that is, literature as in books, newspapers, magazines, etc.; Filipinos are highly literate). She added that the natives, our ancestors, had a rich oral tradition before the Spanish and American colonizers came.

The Filipinos' perception towards literature continues to be deeply influenced by how it was presented to us by the colonial powers. Written literature was introduced in the Philippines in the form of a prayer book called Doctrina Christiana,published in 1593. It was the first book published in the Philippines, yes, but then it placed literature on a pedestal (i.e. the altar). Consequently, written literature became the only form of recognized/legitimate literature and instead of being an essential part of culture, it has become more of a luxury.

In the midst of all these, the literature market in the Philippines, ironically, has practically no place for a writer in Filipino. Among the few publications still out there, most only publish poetry and fiction in English. There are perhaps only two that accept for publication poetry in Filipino. There is one that accepts fiction in Filipino but its circulation is a bit erratic. For a fiction writer like me to get better chances at being published, I must either translate my work to English or wait for calls for submissions to an anthology.

OA: Having your book published back in 2006 and also having pieces in on-line journals and posted on your blog, do you feel that printed work is more legitimate than on-line work? Do you write differently when you know a piece will appear in print?
ZQ: I can honestly say that I've gone past the idea that one media is more legit than the other. Of course, there will always be romanticized notions of having one's work on paper. So many writers have written about the satisfying experience of opening a book, smelling the infusion of aromas of paper and ink, or listening to the soothing sound of a turning page. There is nothing wrong in craving that.

However, one cannot afford to ignore the fact that more and more people are abandoning print in favor of online media. The LA Times recently announced that they were letting go of a few thousand jobs simply because their revenues had shifted drastically from print to online. Other large media companies too have already begun inching towards that 1990s dream of a paperless society. The recent Hollywood Writers' strike ensued because of a disagreement in online revenues.

However, I make clear distinctions when writing for these two media. There are certain differences in the way each product is consumed. For example, the non-linearity of online publications can be effectively utilized in a story. Instead of ordered chapters, one can make use of random hypertext jumps, or incorporate other media like music and video in one's work, whereas print publications may only contain text and images. Needless to say, I'm more excited by the possibilities of publishing online.

OA: You have written several book reviews. Do you find yourself looking at books differently as a reviewer than as a fellow writer? Has this affected the way you approach your personal writing?
ZQ: In my blog, my reviews (the longer ones, at least) are on books written by Asians. Reading more Asian literature has been an obsession of mine since moving here to the U.S. last year. I want to get a sense of not only the body of work that Asians contribute to world literature but also the type of literature that the West allows to get published here. That alone tells a lot about how the West sees and, more importantly, wants to regard Asia.

I guess, being a writer, I can't help but notice more than story when I read books. Most of the time, I just want to get absorbed in the story, suspend all disbelief and enjoy. Then I see the literary techniques (and tricks) employed and these sometimes ruin the story for me.

In the same manner, having seen the story in this perspective makes me appreciate the work more. I believe that writers have to achieve a certain expertise in crafting a narrative - how a story unfolds can be as exciting as what the story is about.

OA: What's next for Zosimo Quibilan Jr.?
ZQ: My wife and I are finishing the translation of Pagluwas so we can have it published here in the States.

I'm also finishing a longer narrative, a 'novel' called Ang Dakilang Nobelang Filipino (The Great Filipino Novel). It's part conculture, part parody and everything else Filipino except being the great Filipino novel. I'm quite excited about this work because I thought I broke more conventions in Filipino fiction than what I did, albeit subtly, in Pagluwas.

I also regularly update my literary blog, my Filipino-language fiction blog called Kuwento or Stories and my pet project music blog about 100 songs in my life's soundtrack. Of course, I only start working on these after I help my wife attend to our three wonderful kids.

Bonus Questions:
OA: What is the coolest bookstore in your area? What do you like going there?
ZQ: Brand Bookshop in Glendale. They offer the best selection (relatively cheaper) and most of the books there are in excellent condition. My wife and kids and I regularly go there because the place is pretty cozy and well-organized. To my 3-year-old daughter, this is The Bookstore, so when once I told her that we were going to the bookstore and went to Borders instead, she got disappointed.

We also always look forward to the semi-annual book sale in our local library (Eagle Rock, CA). It's simply too many good books for so much less.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy?
ZQ: In the 90's, (a past life, it almost seems) I used to front a punk rock band called Flowers for Zoe . We played mostly originals and enjoyed considerable success. Although, I'm more inclined to listen to rock, I think I'm more of an indie/alternative type of person. I currently listen to Midlake, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, Feist, Band of Horses, Cat Power, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Rilo Kiley, The Mountain Goats, Mark Kozelek, Owen, etc. From time to time, I turn the click-wheel of my iPod and listen to the classics - Pink Floyd, Led Zep, Hendrix, Mingus, Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Beethoven.

For more information on Zosimo Quibilan, Jr. please visit his blog, Kontra-Diction.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Artist of the Week


Ferrari Sheppard

Where do you draw the line between the famous and the underground? What makes some one famous and another struggle? Who deserves attention and who is over-exposed? These are questions that Chicago artist and blogger Ferrari Sheppard is concerned about, and when not painting brilliantly vibrant and beautiful pictures he spends his time highlighting a few musicians and artist that may have been overlooked.

The name of his eclectic site is Stop Being Famous, and he has already featured several worthy young musicians. However, with all of this time and energy placed on promoting others Ferrari yet has to create a site to promote his own work. I found his work by chance while attending an concert at South Union Arts the day after a group art show. His images show life and its many varied emotions and situations. He takes traditional situations (mother and son, husband and wife) and adds a bit of the surreal or at least the unusual. He makes you look twice.

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

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your paintings?
Ferrari Sheppard (FS): The ideology of Kurt Cobain, meets the painting skills of Michelangelo, meets the street-smarts of Ice Burg Slim, meets the discipline of Malcolm X, combined to form the exquisite oil painter named Ferrari Elite Sheppard. There is a slight bit of confusion in all of my work. Looking at one of my paintings, is like watching film footage of Auschwitz while getting head.

OA: Do you work with a set color pallet? Do you use specific colors to evoke specific emotions in those who see your paintings?
FS: I am legally color blind. When I was in high school, one of my friends wanted to fight me because his girlfriend a Puerto Rican girl named, Maritza Burgos, wanted to fuck me. She looked okay, but I didn't want to fuck her. So, the idiot and I are fighting in an alley with six of our other other friends cheering us on when, suddenly, it was over- I had beat him.

I left him on the ground for dead. He wasn't dead, he was just laying there. One my friends was checking out the cuts and scraps on my face... I turned away to go home, and boom!!! baseball ball to the face. I later found out, after waking up from being in a coma , it was the guy I had a fight with who hit me. After that I was color blind.

I have no problem telling the difference between bright red from yellow, but I can't tell the difference between dark blue and red, or green and purple. I have to use the Value system.



OA: I first saw your work the day after a show at South Union Arts, which is a old church turned into a venue. Do you feel there are enough opportunities in Chicago for young artist to get their work shown? What are your thoughts on the gallery scene?
FS: There are opportunities are there but what does it matter, when you're starving, and you're showing your work to other starving motherfuckers?

The art scene?? Read this Email response I received from Fab Five Freddy about two months ago, if you want to know about the art scene. The first message was from me to Fab Five Freddy.

The email begins:

I ask your advice because i respect your hustle, I mean, it's gotten you this far, it must be strong. I sent you an email a couple of months ago asking your advice of getting work in galleries and going international, I never heard back. I understand it's not your responsibility to give advice to starving artist (emphasis on the word starving) but it would have been nice. I chalked your not responding up to one of three reasons:

1.) You could not give me advice on the art world because for every artist it's different and you wanted me to find my own way.
2.) it was a dumb question.
3.) it was a dumb question.

I don't know. Just thought I would bring it to you. +FERRARI.

His response:
guess the reason I didn't respond asap was partly because of being hectic and also because an answer of this type may take several pages.

I was deeply involved in the art world as you know at a point in time. In short, we had something new they got wind of and they came running to get it. Thats the very short answer along with the fact that I was passionate, knew who many of the biggest art world players were and made my moves accordingly.

Short of you being in NYC so you can take me to lunch in return for the long form answer, perhaps you set up on skype with a web cam and I can be more verbose and drop some jewels your way digitally?

End Email: I have nothing else to say about that other than,..hum... nevermind.

OA: Your site, Stop Being Famous, is essentially an Arts & Culture site focusing on music, art, & Fashion. How did the site come to be, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
FS: The site was initially created to make fools of successful artist, record companies, radio stations, web magazines, and galleries who have the ability and means to help struggling artist get exposer but don't. I wanted stopbeingfamous.com to be home for all things cool, and it is.
It's easy to say what I will or will not do now, while I'm not succesful, but I will say this: If at any point in my success, a young artist comes up to me asking for help, and if I think they remotely have chance of making it, I will help them. If I can not help, will make the reasons clear. If I make the reasons clear but the young artist continues to fuck with me, I will have to shoot him.

OA: I also read that you were in a band. Do you feel there is a connection between art and music?
FS: I started a band about three years ago called Odd Numbers. It was punk/grunge/ garage band. I played guitar and sang lead vocals. We broke up after the Drummer, Celeste Hall, I, broke up. I love playing music, but right now I have my plate full.

OA: What is next for Ferrari Sheppard?
FS: What's next is I become the Poppa-Bear to all the talent of the world and will discover the next artist or musician who will change the world. StopBeingFamous is the new Tonight Show, but without sensors. "Bring me your weak, bring me your hungry."



Bonus Questions:
OA:
Coffee? If yes, where is the best cup in Chicago?
FS: Coffee? no thanks. I had a habit of snorting cocaine. Coffee makes me feel like getting high.

OA: Do you have a favorite local bookstore? What do you like about it?
FS: I have a favorite porn star, two actually. Roxy Renalds and Gianna Michaels.

For more information on Ferrari Sheppard you can check out Stop Being Famous.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Orange Spotlight


Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal Garden of Rocks (Kendra Steiner Editions, July 2008)

"Once dreamers too,/the dead, out of time,/are buried like seeds,/safe from the lightning bolts."

As I settled in for the lengthy car ride with the family to our annual camping trip, I pulled out one of the newer chapbooks from one of my favorite publishers Kendra Steiner Editions. It was the latest offering from Luis Berriozabal called Garden of Rocks. I imagined it was about gardening or perhaps hiking, but I could not have imaged what awaited my eyes. As the van buzzed with chatter and the miles faded behind us, I was wrapped in a somber and insightful meditation on death.

Not just death, but the life and deeds wasted or valued, lost and gain before death. He debates the concept or need for dying, he fears dying, but does not want to continue to live in this world. He talks about the scent of death, death being so near that he can speak to it, the safety and cares of the death. His focus and understanding is so clear and tangible. I got so caught up it in the moment, the fear, the loss... "I don't want eternal life when I feel so alone." I am snapped back to reality, and the girls wanting to play the license plate, and all happiness and security is restored for the moment. However, my awareness is somewhat heightened by the knowledge that one day my seed will be planted in a "Garden of Rocks".


Sunfold Toy Tugboats (Terpsikhore, July 22nd, 2008)

"I have nothing to show for all my wasted years spent circling 'round the center never drawing nearer then the space between myself and looking sphere."

I first saw Kenny Florence perform live at Lollapalooza 2007 as a member of the North Carolina's Annuals. At first it seemed like Kenny was just the guitar player in the band, but then towards the end of the set the band rearranges a bit and Kenny played one of his tunes. He announces it a tuned from his band Sunfold. Then earlier this year Sunfold released a split ep with Annuals, and in the liner notes you can see that Sunfold has a similar line-up as Annuals, but a completely different sound. Now they have released their full-length debut, Toy Tugboats.

This album is gorgeous, filled with clean, crisp jazz guitar and vibrant vocals. Kenny really always all of his various influences shine through on this project. From southern twang or electro-beats, their are few boundaries, yet he has created a cohesive sound that is distinctly his own. Not that it is fair to compare Sunfolds to Annuals, but their sound is much brighter and less orchestral, smooth and refreshing. It is flush with sunlight, daydreams, tugboats, rockstar dreams, stories of rubies, and all the grandeur of life.

Oregon/Shrinking the Sphere/Sailed Off to the Sea/Gnosis/To Wake the Eye/Gorgee De Rubis/Shapeshiftin'/Sara The American Winter (mp3)/Osk/Holding the Charm

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Watch List


Listening:
1. Charles Hamilton: Rapper, mad music scientist, child of Sonic the Hedgehog are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Charles Hamilton. His debut album comes out next year, but you can download his mixtape as his website now. Listen to: Brooklyn Girls (mp3)
2. Back In Judy's Shack: This Swedish duo many tiny lo-fi male/female elctro-pop songs. Listen to: What are you doing for the rest of your life (mp3)
3. Boban Markovic Orchestra: You really can't go wrong with an eneregtic big band brass! Listen to: Romana Bijav (mp3)

Reading:
1. Except from None of That Will Do. Now What? by Miles Clark: Miles is the editor of No Record Press, and a great writer as well. I love many of the connections and ideas he uses in this except.
2. The Many Forms of Rain ____ Sent Upon Us in Those Days Before the Last Days by Blake Butler: How many form of rain can you think of? Blake Butler is a mad genius!
3. I'm Gonna by Matt Spect: A lovely tale of puke and future plans.
4. Jesus in 42 by Damian Dressick: Jesus as a coal miner, and a biker.
5. The Pastapocalypse by Lisa A. Koosis: This is one of the best open lines I've seen in awhile... "The world ended not with nuclear missiles, nor rising floodwaters, but with pasta."
6. Why the Letter to Your Congressman Will Not Be Read by Andrew S. Taylor: This one is not as humorous as it sounds, but it is very well-written and a little chilling.
7. The Co-Ed with One Arm by Dan Provost: We all have something to be thankful for, right?

Wishing:
1. See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming by Various Writers: "Not only are people all around the world having lots of sex, but they are also writing about it. See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming is the second compilation of 50 sex-riddled (first-published) short fictions that try to transcend perhaps the most universal subject in existence. Writing from across the globe, each 1,000-word text promises to evoke and provoke the existential and thoughtful corners of your most erotic of organs (namely the one in your head). In other words, the rumors are true, the waiting has ended: The Second Coming is here!"
2. 10pt Press has made available for pre-order a series of beauitfully designed prints by some of my favorite poets including Hosho McCreesh, justin.barrett, and Tony O'Neil.


Getting:
1. Be Different Issue #2: This is a great new arts magazine, but its not in english.
2. Four Minutes to Midnight Issue #9: This issue only comes out once a year, but the blog is updated frequently.
3. Clout Magazine Issue #10: Run by artist Ryan Bubnis, featuring Clyde Carson, Traxamillion, Smif-N-Wessun, Ryan Bubnis, Boogie, Aloy MSK, Much HM and Chopper.
Watching:
1. Sunfold "Oregon"
2. King Kahn & The Shrines "I Wanna Be A Girl"
3. Windmill "Toyko Moon"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Band of the Week

Photo by Eartha Goodwin


The Dreadful Yawns

" With nothing left to lose, I let go and flew into something new"

Some times things don't appear to take shape until you truly let go and allow yourself to do something completely new. It may be a new project, a new relationship, a new career, a new friendship, life is consistently changing and evolving and when we are not willing to expand and create, new opportunities we may get lost. Let your mind wander, let your guitar roll and growl and search, let brush flow and move, let your ideas bloom into realities.

Cleveland's The Dreadful Yawns have allowed their ideas to "Take Shape" on their fourth album Take Shape. The album progresses and expands with each track, and by the time you reach track 9 the band explores and reworks for a solid 10 minutes. A mixture of rock, retro-pop and far reaching psychedelica, Take Shape shows growth and a true understanding of their skills as musicians. With Ben Gmetro on vocals & guitar, Elizabeth Kelly on vocals, keys, bells, & tambourine, Chris Russo on drums & vocals, Clayton Heuer on keys & violin and Eric Schulte on guitar & vocals The Dreadful Yawns have really flown into something new.

Recently, Eric and Clayton were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): The title of your fourth studio album is Take Shape. Is this as much as statement about your careers as anything else? Do you feel you at a point where everything is starting to take shape?
Eric Schulte (ES): I told ben that I really wanted to name the album. I didn't have a lot of songs on the album like IBen and Chris, so I wanted to leave my mark. Ben had a ton of better album names, but since i do most of the booking and PR stuff I started refering to the album as Take Shape. It stuck. mostly because of our history. It's old news, but during the recording of the last album, Rest, the whole band, except for Ben, quit. He built this new band, and we all collectively felt that on some level it was a statement about the direction of the band. I had been managing and booking the Yawns since 2002 so for me this loud, fuzzed out, velvets-esque album was what I always wanted the Yawns to do. It's the album they should have always made... and finally things were starting to take shape... ta da. i did it and came full circle!

OA: This album seems to be about sonic exploration. How is the decision made to take a 2 minute pop song and expand it into a soaring and roaring 10 minute adventure? It seems like the rest of the album is building up to that moment, like you are almost holding back on the previous tracks? Are those 8 minutes improvised?
ES: I guess you're talking about the song Don't Know... Ben had the first part and the last part of the song and he wanted something spacey in the middle. when we recorded it we were hot as hell, under pressure for time, and we didn't really think things were going that well. at one point in the song, and we have it on film somewhere, chris kicks over some of his drums and runs around the room mid song. we recorded it and just let loose. the 8 minute jam was all recorded live in one take. when we got the tracks back from ryan (weitzel, label head and the guy that recorded most of the basic tracks) and we heard it, we couldn't believe how great it turned out. chris and ben did some mixing and presto we had a song. i think the building up feeling is just how it turned out as we didn't really have a song sequence in mind. our main thing was to sequence it with the vinyl release in mind. side A was the shorter poppier stuff and side B (last three songs) would be our three spacier more open ended and adventurous tunes. you know, the pretentious side.
Clayton Heuer (CH): Those are the times we end up listening to each other the most, because we're not concerned with playing right notes in the right rhythm. It's like it's our turn to be the audience, only we happen to be playing. It's the difference between listening because you have to in order to stay together as an ensemble and listening because you're just into it. It might suck for the real audience, but that's because it's their turn to listen because they have to. I mean, what else are you going to do in Cleveland? (see question 4) But really, each time we emerge from a psych freakout, we have a better idea what each others' instruments are capable of doing.

OA: The cover of this album is amazing, and a little scary. As people walk by my little cubicle they picked it up and say "Oh my, what is this?". It definitely grabs peoples attention, but I feel it may stand in contrast the actual sound of the album. Was this the intent? Can you tell us a little about the cover design and the artist Jon Hicks?
ES: Really? See, I look at it and to me it looks exactly like the album sounds. maybe i just can't remove myself from the whole process of making the album. Hicks use to have the radio show before mine on a college station in town. but i knew him before then from mutual friends. he is the premiere concert poster artist in town and to me the best graphic designer i've ever seen, hands down. it was a no brainer to go to jon as he did the layout for Rest and a bunch of yawns related projects in the past. if you ask jon to do something it's always amazing. so trusting in that we went to him and told him,"you have full reign. make us something cool for a psychedelic album with the phrase "take shape" in mind." he asked us to pick three colors, and we looked at some other bands' artwork and told him what we liked and didn't like. a couple weeks later we had this masterpiece. when we got the albums back from manufacturers it was breathtaking. for me it was like, "screw what people think about the album, this artwork is worth $12 by itself." you can check out a bunch of his stuff at http://www.jonhicksdesign.com/

OA: Being from Cleveland, (we all know Cleveland Rocks!) what is the scene like? Is there opportunity for a young band to find an audience?
ES: Cleveland is amazing. to the day i die i will proclaim cleveland one of the top 5 music scenes in the country. pound for pound in terms of talent we can compete with any athens, brooklyn, portland, or chicago. people are broke in cleveland. going out to shows for some of us is a choice between eating lunch the next day or rock and roll, i shit you not. so there is a pretty small regular concert-going crowd (which is one reason why it's so close knit). will bands get big and tour in big buses in cleveland? no. but will you be surrounded by ridiculously talented artists and get to see them on a regular basis with 20 of your best friends? absolutely. that kind of isolated atmosphere, almost like being in a vacuum, facilitates some stunningly original and satisfying art. plus there are a million great artist centric clubs in town, beachland, tower 2012, pat's in the flats, matinee, and the zephyr in kent.
CH: After the second week on tour, I got homesick for people with that self-depracating, sarcastic humor. It seems they only live here. I love them. I love people that make fun of themselves, and Cleveland gives them a lot of material.

OA: This being your fourth studio album, and having experience in the industry, do you feel that new media (blogs, myspace, youtube, etc.) can benefit musicians? Do you feel that blogs can effect concert attendance, sales, and just fans in general?
ES: we are lucky in cleveland to have two awesome college stations WCSB (Cleveland State) and WRUW (Case Western). so unlike most places, radio is not a complete wasteland. but newspapers are dying and our two alt-weeklies are merging into one next week. so print media is fading fast. cool original print zines come and go faster than i change my diapers. rock magazines are on their way out too. no depression is dead, magnet went from bi-monthly to quarterly, DIW is gone... so almost by default internet based sources of news have filled the gap, or maybe just hastened the old-guard's demise. i absolutely believe that blogs and myspace can benefit musicians. as with all things it's sifting through the crap to get to the good stuff. once you find the good stuff though it becomes almost like a bible. and i'm hardly an original person, so if i do it i bet a ton of others do it too. as far as attendance, sales, and fans... anything that gets your name out there helps. but especially in the rust belt you have to do more than just depend on electronic media to get people to buy your stuff. that's what touring is for, and making sure you melt faces when you play live.
CH: The chemicals that make those mags all glossy are putting us in early graves anyway. Trees love blogs too.

OA: What's next for The Dreadful Yawns?
ES: staying away from cops and their illegal searches.
CH: Another tour, unless Eric is serious about retiring from booking. I hear the pension plan sucks buddy, so you better keep your nose to the grindstone.

Bonus Questions:
OA:
Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Cleveland?
ES: Do bears shit in the woods? Clayton will answer this one with authority.
CH: If you consider a half hour drive east to Concord Twp. still Cleveland (and we do), it's at this place by my house in the rural far reaches of Lake County, Bellasano Coffee and Cuisine. I ordered an iced coffee, and the owner was back there like a freaking scientist pouring beakers of stuff over ice, swirling, looking through the light, I think I saw some damn litmus paper at one point. It took forever, but I have never been so full of jittery-eyed joy in my entire life. It's worth the half hour drive.

OA: What was the last great book you read?
ES: I just re-read The Cassette Mythos by Robin James. It's a series of essay about the cassette underground, and diy culture that grew up around cassettes in the early and mid eighties. this book is as close to scripture as i can get. other than that all i really read anymore are grassroots historical analyses of the american revolution.
CH: Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.

Like Song (a. All Indian Summer Long b.The Owls)/Catskill/Kill Me Now (mp3)/Saved/All For Me/Expecting Rain (mp3)/All the Dead Soldiers/Don't Know What I've Been On/ Mood Assassin



For more information on The Dreadful Yawns please visit their website, and to order a copy of Take Shape (Exit Stencil, 8/26) visit the Exit Stencil site.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reader Meet Author



Gabe Durham

So what can you do if you are a young writer with a couple of stories published on-line, and a several more stored on your hard drive? Well, the first thing you should do is start a blog, and talk about yourself and other creative individuals. Then you should compile several of your best pieces of short fiction, and make a lot copies and sell them on your blog. You should give you self-published collection a grand and inviting title like The Complete Genealogy of Everyone, Ever. You also have to sew your collection together and sell it via paypal for $5 on your blog.

Remarkably, Northampton, MA (it's writer paradise!) writer Gabe Durham has already followed my instructions perfectly. In fact, he released his chap-sized collection of stories earlier this month, and it is also called The Complete Genealogy of Everyone, Ever. Gabe is also a prolific blogger having started a blog called Gather Round, Children back in 2006, and has been know to make a remix now again.

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

Orange Alert (OA): The Complete Genealogy of Everyone, Ever is your debut chapbook. How did you select the stories for this collection. What has the response been like so far?
Gabe Durham (GD): I chose the best of the shortest of my stories and hoped that it would show some range the way a poetry chapbook does. Chapbooks are more common for poets than for fiction writers because poets can do more with fewer pages. That's harder for us, but I figure six stories is a good introduction. And the title was something I've had in mind for a few months. I like it as a chapbook title because it promises an exhaustive record that no book--let alone a mini-book--could deliver.

Response has been good: One person said it left her wanting more. Another said "it's kinnetic, dreamy and all kinds of insane." Another said she was proud of her husband. One person even quoted it on his "words of the week" sidebar. And those people, in order, are Condoleezza Rice, Billy Corgan, the woman who is married to Tom Hanks and Lavar Burton.

OA: We recently had a brief conversation over the term or classification of 'expirimental' fiction. What are your thought on this genre? Do you feel your work should fall into that category?
GD: Yeah, that came up when Word Riot published my story under the "Experimental" heading instead of the "Flash Fiction" one. Terms are useful, sometimes but "experimental" is one of the hazier ones. Sometimes it means "playing with form and language," other times it means "idea-driven," other times it means "genre-bending." One great thing about fiction in 2008 is that the doors are wide open. Trailblazers like Donald Barthelme have created an environment where you can do whatever you want. There are always going to be people whose aesthetic preference is the Flannery O'Connor thing. ("If it looks funny on the page, I won't read it.") But there are a lot of readers and editors out there ready for you to turn on the weird.

The downside to all this door-wide-openness is that it's pretty hard to come up with something new. Even when you think you might've stumbled onto a truly orginal idea, something's going to pop up and humble you. Usually on the web. I've got a story I've been working on for months about me arguing with myself at three different ages. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a commercial where an old woman tells a five years younger version of herself about a vacation she and her husband are going to take. Well I sought out the actress in the commercial and made sure she'd never steal my ideas again, but you can't threaten everyone that crosses you. It's just not practical.

OA: This being your first collection in print, do you feel that print is more legitimate then on-line fiction? I know that a few of these stories have appeared on-line, but do you find yourself writing differently if you know the piece will appear in print?
GD: I know that a printed chapbook makes a better gift/product than a web site. There's something cool about being able to hand someone a little book. It shows investment. It turns the words into an art object. But I love being able to link over to stories and have people read them for free. Most of my friends from college aren't going to seek out print lit mags to read my stuff--what with having their own lives--but they might read something on a web site. My favorite thing about having written reviews for Daytrotter.com is that there's a drawing or painting that goes alongside every review. The picture legitimizes the words and vice-versa.

I don't write differently for print or for the web. I just look at the number of words and if it's under 1,000 words, I probably will only submit it to web sites. That's based on the theory that people like to read short things on the web and long things in print. That's true for me, anyway.

OA: Your blog, Gather Round, Children is more then just a personal blog, you are also highlight and review album, indie comics, TV shows, etc. Why is it important to you to promote the work of others?
GD: When I hear or see or read something and get excited about it, I want to show some e-love. I decided early on that I wasn't going to make GRC a what-I-did-today blog, but rather a place to stick my creative work and to call attention to other people's creative work. For me, that's a good way to maintain quality control. It cuts down on tirades and mundanity. My wife has a similar policy on her design blog, Lo! In the Morning. Other people are very good personal bloggers, but many of those people have very sexy lives.

OA: When you first introduced yourself to me last me year it was as a musician/remixer. How did you first become interested in mash-up and remixes? Do you have a proudest moment with your music?
GD: I've discovered I'm a tinkerer. It's what I do in writing, too. I do a draft, then visit it over and over, playing the game of "How good can I make this? What could I add? What could I cut?" That's fun to me.

I got my first Acid Pro software in the middle of high school and used it to piece together little techno songs. Once I made a 30-minute techno song out of Bush's 2001 State of the Union speech. It had a lot of applause solos. In college, I used the same software and a little rinky-dink mic to record lots of songs with my friends. Then Summer of '05, I discovered Acapellas4u.co.uk and downloaded all these vocals-only Outkast mp3s and began to match them up with Modest Mouse songs. After a couple of successes--especially "Float On" with "Rosa Parks"--I thought I might have a Grey Album on my hands. Which was maybe a little optimistic, but some of those songs turned out great and I got a short album on my hands: Good News For People Who Love to Get Krunk.

I'm more into the remixes I've done recently, which are very melodic, mixing Beatles with Josh Ritter, Beach Boys with the Wrens, Sufjan Stevens with more Sufjan Stevens. There's a niche for those. This isn't as true as it used to be, but the remix/mash-up is still pretty dominated by club culture. I'm not as interested in making music to shake ya ass to as much as I am in recombining pop songs in interesting/surprising ways.

OA: What's next for Gabe Durham?
GD: - Another of my Complete Genealogy stories, "Colossal Crimson Crop," is coming out on Hobart's website next month. It's a nice lean version, probably 25% shorter. Which makes the chapbook version the extended director's cut. I don't know which one I like better.
- I just got a bike! My bro-in-law shipped me his old one. So riding that around.
- Still got a lot of books piled up that I'm excited to read this summer: Grace Paley, Steve Almond, Crime and Punishment. I've got to dig up some more Etgar Keret. I just read "The Nimrod Flipout" and it improved my mood all week. He's got the kind of soaring imagination I want. Makes it look effortless.
- Some day, a Complete Genealogy sequel. Since the genealogy on the cover is patrilineal, I'd like to be a good feminist and do a matrilineal one.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Northampton, MA?
GD: Yes, yes, yes. I recommend Haymarket on Main Street for sit-down coffee and the Elbow Room on Green Street for to-go coffee. Finally, Woodstar Cafe on Masonic Street has the best plain bagels and blueberrry muffins.

OA: What are your top five albums of 2008 so far?
GD: The Lovely Sparrows
Beck
Nate Highfield and the Good Cheer
Flight of the Conchords
Yes, But Slowly

For more information on Gabe Durham please visit his website.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Artist of the Week


Danny Powell

Community is vital to creative success, and all success for that matter. A community can aid in understanding, expansion, continued education, shared contacts, and so on. It is not that you have to be involved in something to be successful, but there is a measurable benefit that comes from participating in your community and finding like-minded individuals to help and promote.

Chicago's Danny Powell co-founded the Infidel Group back in 2006 with the goal of uniting Chicago’s artists and public through laid-back exhibitions in comfortable alternative spaces. It is a noble goal and one that suits the dynamic of the city well. He studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1990s, and has compiled an incredible portfolio of work over the last ten years.

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

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Danny Powell (DP): I would describe it as raw. abstract. sincere. The proper way to view it is with the “Slider” feature on my web-site. The images work better in groups, lined up or in grids.

OA: Do you utilize a set palette? Do ever use a particular color because of the emotion that it might evoke?
DP: I never utilize a set palette. I don’t choose colors based on how the audience may respond, because different colors mean different things to different people. Basically, I paint using intuition, so I make decisions based on how I feel at the time. The moods they evoke are out of my control, so I don’t really consider it.

OA: You have made the statement that 'Art can not be taught'. If that is the case, what is the role of the teacher? Would ever consider a spot as an art professor at a college?
DP: I am glad you asked me this, because I’ve always wanted to clarify that. I think a teacher should be a guide and nothing more. I believe it is more important for people to make art on their own, outside of institutions. I might consider a teaching post, somewhere, that depends. Right now it isn’t something I am interested in.


OA: Two years ago you co-founded The Infidel Group. What is the vision of the group, and do you feel the group has had an impact on the art scene in Chicago?
DP: The group was formed to bring people together. It makes things a whole lot easier when you have a team of artists. We wanted to have shows that put more of a focus on the people we invite and making sure everyone has a good time. Our shows are a celebration of friendship and life as opposed to some uptight, intimidating, or pretentious art function. I don’t really know what impact the group has had on the scene here. I think we are just getting started.

OA: What are your thoughts on Chicago's scene in general?
DP: I like the people involved with the scene here. There is a lot of talent and the artists are supportive and kind. I think that showing art here could be a lot easier if there was more support for us. Space is a huge problem and a lot of places want artists to pay to rent space. If people really want Chicago to be a world class city, then we need to make it easier to show art or perform music.

OA: What's next for Danny Powell?
DP: My main focus for the next year and a half is going to be on producing more work. I plan on applying for the Around the Coyote Fall ’08 show. Daniel Gerdes from Parts and Labor is coordinating a Chicago Art Collectives show in October, and that will be fantastic. I want to get the Infidel Group web site up. I’m going to get a passport and visit Europe, because I have some connections there and I’d like to show my work overseas.



Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where is the best cup in town?
DP: I don’t drink coffee very often. I used to enjoy going to Filter, before it closed. I also liked Jinx. I’m partial to independent coffee places….that show and support art.

OA: You list several bands on your website, but what is your favorite type of music, and who are a few of your favorites?
DP: I am in love with the electric guitar, so my favorite music is guitar driven. Some of my favorites include the Stones, Dylan, and Hendrix.



For more information on Danny Powell please visit his website.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Paint the Town Orange


Pitchfork Music Festival Day 3 - July 20th, 2008 - Union Park Chicago, IL

The second day of Pitchfork started slowly, mainly because Stage B (the best stage at the fest) was pushed back a half an hour. So while waiting for High Places to come on I was nearly put to sleep by The Dirty Projectors.



I was not sure what to expect with High Places, I love their homemade beats and noises, but how would that translate to the live stage? Beautifully of course. Standing in front of a table full of electronics and homemade instruments they filled the crowd with tropical grooves. You felt like you were on vacation, with thousands of your closest friends.


Staying at Stage B, I decided to catch HEALTH again. I had seen them open for Crystal Castles earlier this summer, but I wanted see what they could do with a bigger stage and a bigger audience. Their sound, movements, the multiple drumming, and uncontrollable dancing it was both manic and brutal. I was so impressed that they could continue to play at such a frantic pace for the entire set. They almost seemed to be in pain as they thrashed and danced and screamed.



Next up is King Kahn! Here are my scribbled notes during the most wild show I have ever been to. King Kahn... dry ice... cape... blue Darth Vader mask filled with water... go-go dancer... key board to the crotch... pubic hair... crowd jumping... I Wanna Be a Girl... dirty inked Chucks... Soul Power... King Kahn! What more do you need to know?


After King Kahn I couldn't take the bath that I felt I needed but I did grab a refreshing bottle of water and some fried ravioli and headed over to watch The Dodos. This San Francisco duo have such a great sound. Pounding drums and up beat acoustic guitar, it was perfect. Perfect, until my camera died!

Heading back out at 8:00 for my all-time favorite band Dinosaur Jr. I had a regular camera, but the digital was still dead. I went into the press pit, and stood infront of the 6 marhshall amps. In awe and snapping extreme close up photos, they launced their set with "It's Me" from last years relese Beyond. What impressed me the most is that they actually expanded their playlist to include songs from all of the albums of Dinosaur Jr. Unlike their reunion tour in 2005, they played "Out There", "Feel the Pain", and "Wagon" this time around. It was very cool even though I did get trampled by a security guard trying to catch a crowd surfer who was about to enter the pit. In my opinion it was a very successful weekend. I also found some new artists and other random items and vendors that I will be sharing in the near future.

New Release Tuesday


Music:
High Places - 03/07 - 09/07 Listen to: Jump In (mp3)
Black Kids - Partie Traumatic (stream)
Bodies of Water - A Certian Feeling Listen to: Under the Pines (mp3)
Broken Social Scene Presents - Something for All of Us
CSS - Donkey (stream)
Fakts One - Long Range Listen to: Don't Stop (mp3)
Forward, Russia! - Life Processes (stream)
People Under The Stairs - The Om Years
The Rumble Strips - Girls & Weather
Windmill - Puddle City Racing Lights Listen to: Toyko Moon (mp3)

DVD:

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Tim Hall Club It Up (part of the collection Triumph of the Won't) (Undie Press 5/06)


Club it Up is at times a fond reflection at a brief career in the music industry and at times a look at the seedy nature of the business. This story takes place in the early nineties at the peak of dance music. Tim writes about life, his life, and all of its adventures and misadventures. He doesn't even change his characters name, but still he tells of romance and heartbreak, beats and miscues, jobs and passions. His mission is to find the rhythm of life while creating tiny stories along the way.

It has been long said that you have to live before you can write and Tim hall has lived many lives, wore many tattered and creative hats, and survived to tell the tales. This novella was self-published back in 2002, but it can now be found in his collection of stories Triumph of the Won't. The fascinating part of Club it Up is that it came with a cd filled with 40 minutes of original house music composed by Tim himself. It really makes the story come alive, and it gets the feet moving as well.



Telepathique Last time on Earth (The Control Group, 8/5/08)

Speaking of moving your feet, Telepathique is not an original concept (a guy producer and a female singer), but what makes their music so interesting is their location. They both also have diverse tastes in music and culture, and these interests bleed into their music. Sao Paulo's Erico Theobaldo and Mylene Pires mix deep carioca from the favela with jungle-influenced house, breakbeat, and bossa with a respectful nod towards punk. This leaves their sound not confused but both beautiful and aggressive, soft and at times sensual, but dangerously strong.


This album, Last Time on Earth, was released in South America back in 2006, but August marks the first time their music will reach the states. Their tracks will be a welcome addition to any dance floor, car stereo, or mp3 player alike.


Deja Vu/Eu Gosto (mp3)/Love and Lust/Telefunk/Kabalah/I'm Not The Man/You Don't Know/Sex Drugs And Funk 'n' Roll/UR A Joke/Wild/Vida Inteira

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Paint the Town Orange


Pitchfork Music Festival Day 2 - July 19th 2008 - Union Park, Chicago, IL

Amidst the rain, mud, quicksand, and ridiculous looking hipsters I was actually able to catch few band yesterday. Most of my day was spent in the CHIRP tent spreading the word about my various projects. I also spent sometime consuming a foot long veggie wrap from Whole Foods, learning about the open-book literacy program, and walking the tent at the poster fair.

First up on my schedule was Caribou. Multi-instrumentalist Dan Snaith completely blew me away by not only signing his beautiful song, but also switching from drums to keyboards to guitar without effort. It was a great set, but I left early to head over to Icy Demons.

Chicago's Icy Demons are a mystery to begin with so anticipating their performance I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to the see an upright bass, and watch the band switch from electro -rock to tropical swoon to near free jazz croon. It was strange, but very appealing.

I don't know what it is about live hip-hop that just gets the heart pounding and legs bouncy and arms waving, but London's Dizzee Rascal knows how to move the crowd. Now his Dj in the pink and green headphones is another story. He had what looked like turntables, but as he prepared you could see him put discs in and he carried no vinyl. If you have turntables, you have to have vinyl. He scratched a little, but at one point you could tell that the scratch was actually on the cd and not performed live. He was a little lame to say the least.

After Dizzee I went into the tents, but I did catch a little of Animal Collective closing out the night by performing Panda Bear's "Comfy in Nautica" which was a very cool way to end a very hot an wet day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Watch List



Listening:
1. Trapper Schoepp Band: Milwaukee boys playing honest pop and changing the weather. Their debut album is a collection nine wonderfully written and piano infested songs that are sure to make into your rotation. Listen to: It's Six O'Clock (mp3)
2. The Curse of Company: Dark, yet still filled gracious pop melodies, The Curse hail from Sydney, and are primarily the brain child of David Wiley Rennick. He is probably most well known for his work with Dappled Cities. Their debut album, LEO MAGNETS JOINS A GANG, will be released digitally on July 22nd. Listen to: All the Mines (mp3)
3. Shala.: Chicago emcee and producer, Shala is a Nigerian American and an influential member of Chicago's underground scene. He is also the founder of Seven Spoon. Listen to: I Ain't Goin (mp3)


Reading:
1. We Are All Businessmen by Mark Fabiano: "Ranil wanted a company scholarship for his son, and would do what he must to make the American executive feel well cared for."
2. Please, Shahryar by Michael Hitchcock: I like this story and so does Michael's mom.
3. Except from A Woman's History of Dunholt by Jill Summers: A very funny commentary by a very funny Chicago writer.
4. Carla's Corner by Antonios Maltezos: I'm not a fan of blood, but I didn't enjoy this story.
5. Carrion by Ben Myers: This is a very disturbing look at the thought process a disturbed man.
6. A Plain Story, Simply Told by Mazie Louise Montgomery: Here is the latest from Bearcreekfeed.
7. The Blush by Rachel Kendall: This part of a bigger novel by Rachel.

Wishing:
1. Solve Lives T-Shirt: This Secret Stash was created to honor the life of Brendan Scanlon aka SOLVE (1984-2008). All proceeds will be donated to Brendan's family. The shirt features artwork by SOLVE, and was coordinated with SARO, BONUS, and SOLVE's family. It is produced by the fam at Formula Werks. Check the site to read more about SOLVE and to order a shirt. Thanks for your support and memory of a great artist.
2. "Liquid" by Brian Doogan: This is a beautiful print available at Freshly Dipped. $35

Getting:
1. Naked Whales Issue #2: Long awaited, but a great issue.
2. Soma Issue #5: Art, music, and culture.

Watching:
1. Now, Now Every Children "Friends With My Sister"
2. Sam Champion "You Can't Stop"
3. 100 Days of Monsters



Friday, July 18, 2008

Band of the Week

Now, Now Every Children

These four musicians have released two ep's this year, and they have just finished recording their debut album for Afternoon Records. The video below, and the following interview should tell you everything you need to know about the cutest band in Minnesota!



Orange Alert (OA): Your name, Now, Now Every Children, as an English Major my eyebrow
goes up slightly every time I read it or say it. Even though it is not proper English it is still memorable and a great name. Where did it come from?
NNEC: haha! I actually have the worst time answering this question! It originated from a typo that turned into an inside joke that we had for a few years. When we added a couple of more members and became more serious about the project, that name got thrown out there and we kept it.

OA: I've heard you are currently in the studio working on your first full-length album. How is that coming along? Is there a title or release date scheduled? Will any of the songs from In The City be on the full-length?
NNEC: We actually just finished recording a couple of weeks ago! We still have a couple of things to work on in mixing, but we'll be done with it very soon. The name of it is still in the works but it should be out early October. and yes, there will be two songs from each of our EPs on the full length.

OA: Speaking of you debut Ep, it comes in a very well-designed eco-friendly cardboard case. Was that an intentional packaging choice on your part? How important to you is the presentation of your albums?
NNEC: It just so happens that the eco-friendly choice was also one of the cheapest options. Not to mention the cardboard case was fitting for our EPs. The presentation of our records is super important to us. You want it to represent your music well since people will see it before they hear it. You also just want it be to cohesive with what you're saying in your music.

OA: Afternoon Records is one of my favorite labels, what has your experience been like with them?
NNEC: It is definitely one of mine also! Our experience with AR has been seriously incredible. I couldn't imagine working with better people. It's such a friendly little family. Ian has done wonders for us. He is the coolest dude ever. We're totally in love with so many of the bands on the label. We listened to a bunch of them even before getting signed so it's pretty awesome that we get to be a part of that now too.

OA: Maybe it just Ian flooding my inbox, but there seems to be a wealth of quality young musicians coming out of Minnesota these days. What are your thoughts on the music in up there? Is there competition for stage time at the local venues or is there a wealth of places to play?
NNEC: We've come across some pretty awesome younger bands since we've been playing shows. We haven't really encountered any competition with any of them for stage time or anything like that though. Most bands have their usual places that they play at around here, so I don't think there's too much stepping on anyone's toes.

OA: What's next for Now, Now Every Children?
NNEC: As of right now we are mainly focused on getting this LP out and starting our first tour in August! We're heading to the west coast which we are tottttallllyyyy excited about. We've never really played out of state other than a couple neighboring states so it should be a new experience for us. After that we'll see where this record takes us and hopefully just keep touring and putting out more records!


Listen to: Not One, But Two (mp3) and Everyone You Know (mp3)

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can someone find the best cup in Minnesota?
NNEC: I think we'd agree that Spyhouse has a pretty decent cup, same with Uncommon Grounds, which definitely has a great hang out atmosphere, especially when you're bored and have no creative ideas on what to do with yourself. But, I have to say that we all love Starbucks too. It's true.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
NNEC: We're actually illiterate. That's why our name is grammatically incorrect.


For more information on Now, Now Every Children please visit their website. For more brilliant videos go here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Christopher Major

If a poem is essentially an observation of everyday life with a slight and sometimes not so slight piece of insight thrown in, then why can't humor play a role. There are always moments in life that can be taken in one of two ways, you can either drown in the complexity or smile, comment, and advance. Who is to say that a poem can't be just as humorous as it is insightful.

Believe it or not the first thing that I noticed about Christopher Major was not his structure or his uses of symbols, and really all of the keys on the keyboard, it was his strong sense of humor. A humor that seems to be lacking in modern poetry, and one that is at the core of most of Major's work. It is not that he does take himself seriously as an artist, and it is more in the way he views the world.

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

Orange Alert (OA): How did you first become interested in Concrete Poetry? What about it has retained that interest?
Christopher Major (CM): I started to write my first concrete/visual poems almost as soon as I began writing more traditional poetry.I had very little idea of what concrete poetry even was. More lately i've been searching out and reading various concrete and visual poets such as Mary Webb, Alan Ridell, Ellen Mary Solt and the calligrams of Apollinaire. I enjoy the obvious visual impact of the poems, their immediacy, I try to include visual or text 'twists', but i also try to keep them accessible.

OA: When working in the format what is more important, the image or the content? Are they equally important? Would you consider this to be more art then poetry?
CM: They should definitely be equally important. I think that if I'm honest occasionally the image overtakes the importance of the text to the detriment of the whole piece. I started out publishing more traditional work, so i consider myself a poet. The poetry/art question doesn't matter to me, as long as people appreciate some of the work.



OA: You seem to be limited by technology and the range of the keyboard. Do you feel limited in anyway? Is it this structure that allows you to create or restricts you from really creating what is in your mind?

CM: Yeah, I'm restricted by technology and the keyboard, but that's fine.Different font sizes and formats is about as far as I want to push the form.If I can't create a piece doing this, I tend to not bother.To be honest, I'm not really that accomplished at using a computer.

OA: Humor seems to play a major role in your work. This seems to be a rare quality in poetry, but lends itself well to concrete poetry. Do you feel humor is more effective in concrete poetry as oppose to more traditional forms?
CM: I read a vast amount of traditional poetry, and humour is rare.It is rare in many of the more traditional poems i wrote/write. Concrete poetry lends itself to visual 'gags',funny juxtaposition of text/image.As the old saying goes 'Light writes White', the seedy side,drugs, drink, fist fights always seems to stir the creative juices.Concrete work hopefully seasons with a dash of humour even when dealing with the darker side of life.

OA: Last fall you had a free chapbook released by Why Vandalism? What are your thoughts on .pdf chapbooks in general. Do you feel that printed work feels more legitimate then on-line work?
CM: I'm grateful to Why Vandalism for taking a chance on this sort of work, and think they produced a nice looking product. I had a chapbook of traditional poems published in 2006, it recieved one or two good reviews, but only having a print run of a couple of hundred its 'reach' is obviously limited. 'Concrete & Calligram' has the opportunity of being read by a far wider audience, and I've been contacted by a number of people saying they enjoyed it and offering to do write ups. I've had a number of concrete poems published in print mags, and its satisfying to have a tangible product to hand, but when I read quality poetry on line in magazines such as Snakeskin,Words Myth, Zygote, Word Riot, Ink Sweat & Tears, Thieves Jargon to name a few, I cant help thinking this is the way of the poetry presses, and that it's no bad thing.

OA: What's next for Chris Major?
CM: Ive got a collection of another 40 concrete poems to find a home for, and a 'thankyou' to say to you, Jason, for your interest in my stuff.

Bonus Questions:
OA:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee, and where do you like to go to drink it?
CM: Definitely Black. And although i'm ashamed to admit it -McDonalds.

OA: What type of music do your enjoy?
CM: Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Joy Division, Velvet Underground.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Artist of the Week



Katelyn Sack

What makes a thought a poem or a song or a painting? How does an artist decide a photograph is a painting and not a story about its subject? These small distinctions lay in the hands and in the mind of the artist, and there is nothing stopping some one from shifting a concept from on medium to another. In fact, expanding your creative output and trying to shift your focus may open up a blocked path or a whole new realm of inspiration. You may be able to make connections in a way you have never known existed.

Alabama's Katelyn Sack has the talent and understanding to move a piece between mediums, and at times may move one piece all the way though each medium. However, she uses her talent to break down paintings and move a piece into the genre that seems to fit. At times she paints, and then she may choose photography or poetry. Yet, if none of this works, she puts it to music. It must be a challenge, but one look through her portfolio and you can clearly see is up for it.

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


Orange Alert (OA): I am amazed by the amount of mediums that you have your hands in, from painting to photographer to music to poetry and prose. If you had to pick one which would it be? Do you feel more comfortable in one medium vs. another?
Katelyn Sack (KS): There is definitely a synesthesia of creative expression that helps me keep from standing still. If one medium isn't flowing for me, I work in another, and it keeps me from being afraid. I am an over-analytical person, so it's very important for me to just keep moving, keep doing, keep making new mistakes and discovering new passions – or I'll question and plan myself out of existence.

If I had to pick one, it would be the one that I have to say is the most challenging, the one that takes the longest to get anything done in, the one that I'm obviously struggling with the most right now – which is creative writing in the realm of fiction. In my obsessive life plan, I'm supposed to have a baby and a book out by now, and I'm not even close to adopting or getting a short story published in The New Yorker!

OA: The general idea behind your 'Egress' project is extremely thrilling. How often do you take one piece through all mediums like you did with 'Egress'?
KS: I think probably this happens when I get stuck! If the song had flowed more immediately from the first few verses, instead of first morphing into a poem, and then giving me trouble in the realm of accompaniment, and then being hung up some more at press (in poem form) where I couldn't use an existing illustration to blog about the song when the illustration included some lines from the poem because that would render it previously published… Probably I would have already moved onto something else.

In other cases, memes or ideas are like songs – they get stuck in my head, and I just have to go at them until my muses have done their worst.



OA: Do you feel there is a difference in writing song lyrics and writing poetry? Do you approach them differently or are the songs poems put to music?
KS: It really depends on the poem. Many poems (like "Egress") come to me as songs, but only a few lines, and then I have to see what literary framework will work within the melodic one that exists in my head, or vice-versa. Alternately, I've written poems, illustrated them, and submitted them for years before realizing there's a melody and a music innate to the poem that I should make sure others can hear in it (as in "Linguist").

I suppose every song or poem is different for me. The song "Dear Mr. Lapham" actually sprang from an email I wrote the editor of the local (Charlottesville) newsweekly The Hook when he told me he couldn't give me a newspaper job because I didn't have weekly newspaper writing experience from college. From a college rag! I nicely explained to him that I had something far better – that I happened to be the CEO of my very own writing company, setting my own hours, conducting my own research, maintaining the discipline to get done what was most important to me... I didn't get a job, but a few years later, I realized my letter had a melody, and I could reapply the message to address the former editor of Harper's – to draw attention to how few female writers are able to break into mainstream journalism without becoming the token female writer who covers sex, gender, family, home d├ęcor... In Harper's, only one out of seven "meat" articles are written by women. This is only one example of what is the reigning pattern still in the (broadly defined) mainstream press, from The Atlantic to Salon.com. Of course in pointing this out as a female, I become that token female voice addressing gender issues. It's maddening.

OA: You maintain a blog called Visiopoetics where you talk about what is going on with your work etc. This could be considered self promotion. How far do you think an artist should take self-promotion? What are your limits?
KS: I don't see this as an issue of self-promotion, but rather one of communication. I think many artists and scholars, myself included, are introverts. We work alone even though in terms of ideas and cultural consciousness, we're very social creatures. The internet presents a way for artists and scholars to work independently while communicating effectively with the rest of the world on an everyday basis. This is cultural exchange; this is what it means to be present on the socio-political stage in the twenty-first century. (If 90% of life is showing up, showing up just got a lot easier!)

OA: You have very strong political beliefs. How did you get involved in writing for The Science Creative Quarterly? Do you feel artists are too often silent when it comes to voicing personal beliefs?
KS: Art and science come from the same will to appreciate what is – to stare in awe, to wrangle frameworks and facts into sense, and to convey what you perceive to others for the purpose of taking part in productive discussion. Political engagement is much the same animal. All three can fall prey to groupthink and the other, lesser demons of human society. But ultimately, the individual artist, scientist, and citizen gets to stare in awe, rush the beauty and chaos, and wrestle with her own ignorance and confusion again and again. It's not about being silent and still versus speaking up. It's about celebrating the truth, and seeking to improve what you can't celebrate.

OA: What's next for Katelyn Sack?
KS: I'm starting a PhD program in Politics at the University of Virginia this fall, and I'd really like to do some fieldwork abroad next summer. I'm dying to brush up my language skills and get out there, but it's difficult scheduling travel around family and professional obligations. So as always, I will see what opportunities present, and keep on moving.



Bonus Questions:
OA:
Coffee? If yes, where do you go for your favorite cup?
KS: As a classical hedonist, I enjoy coffee AND tea every day. But I only drink coffee at home. I wish I could say I was a Luddite hermit or a strict fiscal conservative. But the truth is, I make the best coffee in town. No one else can compete.

OA: What type of music do you listen to? Do you listen to music while you paint?
KS: I love to bob my knees and sing while I paint. It keeps my spirits up, keeps me physically moving and energized, gives me different spatial perspectives on the canvas, and helps me tune out other environmental distractions. There is one local radio station that I can turn on and leave on for a painting binge, without going crazy with repeats: the independent 106.1 The Corner. They have savvy, creative programming, they plug progressive community events and local bands, and best of all, they're not Clear Channel. To paraphrase Dar Williams, I am out here listening all the time.

OA: BONUS bonus question! What do you wear during an orange alert?
KS: Red and yellow – so that when the lines start to blur, I'm perfectly camouflaged. Oh, yeah.


For more infomation on Katelyn Sack visit her website.