|eNewsletter #18, June 2001|
|WELCOME TO RE/SEARCH eNEWSLETTER #18! HERE’S THE NEWS FROM SAN FRANCISCO… ALL READERS ARE INVITED TO SEND CONTRIBUTIONS AND FEEDBACK!CONTENTS:
1. RE/SEARCH BOOK PARTY Fri June 8, San Francisco Art Institute 7 10 PM! Free!
2. BOOK EXPO AMERICA
3. REVIEW OF JOEY RAMONE MEMORIAL
4. More Reviews of Real Conversations 1
1. RE/SEARCH BOOK PARTY Fri June 8, S.F. Art Institute 7-10 PM! Free!
This is RE/Search’s first book party in over a year, and promises to be a gala event‹and besides, it’s free! Come buy the new REAL CONVERSATIONS book and get it autographed. Search & Destroy and other Re/Search titles on punk rock, Pranks, etc will be available at greatly reduced prices.
We are expecting Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jello Biafra to show up and sign books, too‹ and if the spirit moves them, they may grab the microphone and talk as long as they wish. Additionally, books/CDs by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights) and Jello Biafra (Alternative Tentacles) will be available for sale and autographing. Comet magazine will also have a table. Bring your checkbook and support local independent media!
We especially hope that anyone who was ever influenced by Punk Rock will make an appearance and see old friends. We’ll be showing rare punk videos, including some by Dirk Dirksen (Mabuhay Gardens impresario) who will be there. Videos will be screened in the S.F.A.I. auditorium for a small donation which will benefit RE/Search.
2. Book Expo America (BEA) 2001
Why? It’s no secret that people are reading fewer books and enjoying them even less. Take fiction: most “cutting edge” fiction concerns itself with shock value only: the ole sex-violence-drugs-AIDS-lies formulas. So what if they’re gender benders, sex-worker-oriented, underage, or “authentically underclass”‹about people you “normally wouldn’t care about” (this time, we won’t touch the “race” issue) . . . Our criteria is: if a book doesn’t inspire you to DO SOMETHING, it’s worthless. Repeat, if a book doesn’t inspire YOU to start writing or painting or making music or doing-something-yourself (or doing what you do BETTER, or more poetically), then what good is it? (Too simplistic? Then send us feedback!)
BEA: In years gone by, by the first hour of the first day almost all the giveaway cloth shopping bags (branded with a logo) were all gone. At this year’s event, cloth bags could be had at the very last hour, when booth workers were frantically trying to give them away so they wouldn’t have to ship them back home. At 3 PM Sunday, June 3, piles of books were on every aisle, free for the taking. (BEA ended Sunday at 4 PM.)
There were quite a number of author signings. The thing is, all the books the authors sign are FREE! So not only do you get a free book, you even get it signed by the writer. People, probably e-Bay resellers, were lining up and getting books autographed by authors they likely had never heard of, or cared about. Many of these same folk were getting in one line after the other, like clockwork.
There were some very long lines for a startlingly muscle-bound Clive Barker (wearing a show-off “wifebeater” undershirt). He was signing books plus glossy 8×10 photographs with panache, despite relentless demand. (A muscular man who appeared to be his personal trainer stood next to him, whispering occasionally.) A particularly disgruntled-looking Sebastian Junger was signing copies of A Perfect Storm‹he looked positively hostile (probably knew his account was getting charged for each hardback he was signing.) Somehow, the amount of “valuable” publicity garnered by these giveaways seems dubious, to say the least. Apparently, big corporate publishers are so accustomed to throwing money away they don’t bother doing any cost-accounting . . .
Thursday night’s party at Quimby’s bookstore was about as good as it gets; the store is a concentrated cauldron of subversive thought and art. The best Saturday night party was for Independent Presses, 7-10 PM, given in the Wicker Park neighborhood by an eccentric, quite amazing wood sculptor named Jerzy Kenar and his statuesque wife Dorota. He has his own enormous gallery permanently displaying his work; a huge apartment above, and a large studio next door, plus a commodious roof garden. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Nancy Peters, the Chicago Surrealists Franklin & Penelope Rosemont, and other independent press people wined and dined on the best food to be had in Chicago‹infinitely superior to anything available at the BEA’s overpriced cafes and kiosks. Jerzy Kenar’s warehouse-like quarters underscored, in an amazing way, the difference between Chicago real estate prices and the Bay Area’s–if you want voluminous indoor space, move to Chicago!
Our favorite BEA schwag included: tiny wine-bottle corkscrews and bottle openers, luggage straps, Hersheys kisses (of course), tiny flashlights, triangular yellow-pink-green hi-lighters, the black shopping bag from Chronicle Books, and of course, books far too numerous to list here, although The Penis Book was particularly easy to remember. Ditto for a harmonica instruction book which included a harmonica, and two books by Gil Scott-Heron (remember him?). Yes, “The revolution will not be televised . . .”
Taschen Books were conspicuous by their absence. Apparently they were holed up in a Chicago hotel suite, entertaining their most important clients there (to save the enormous expense of renting 20-40 booths). Benedikt Taschen often thinks “outside of the box”–remember his $1,500 Helmut Newton mega-book which sold out 10,000 copies in advance? (Who woulda thought…)
Our friend Miki Bunge of Goliath Books observed that the Frankfurt Book Fair is about 10 times larger, with well-displayed booth numbers (it was impossible to find a booth number anywhere this year–very frustrating) and with the same publishers at the same booth year after year, thus making it much easier to find somebody. Basic coffee or tea could not be had without waiting in annoyingly long lines‹why no self-service? The huge hall was too warm; the lighting had an eyeball-drying effect (negative ion generators needed?), and the whole general interior design was repulsively corporate without a speck of human idiosyncrasy or humor. Also, there were a lot of “junk” vendors: Christian book publishers, suitcase sellers, promotional pen manufacturers, etc. (Or maybe because there were far fewer “real” publishers, the “junkies” stood out more.)
Speaking of junk, Microsoft had a huge eBooks aisle which was virtually deserted. Oh well, it’s a tax write-off, right? Like, who cares if the amount of display pixels has been “radically improved”‹eBooks still suck. And if you drop an eBook reader on the sidewalk or dowse it in the bathtub–well, there goes $300! (Similarly, a friend’s Palm Pilot has been back to the factory three times in less than a year–you don’t see THAT mentioned in any ad campaigns.) And speaking of e-Books, we heard that super-shark-snark agent Andrew Wylie scored a $600,000 advance for some e-Book deal, and then it ended up selling like 20 copies! In our opinion, anyone who wants to read an entire novel on an eBook deserves to get eye implants . . .
Why does the book fair move from city to city? Another advantage of the book fair being at the same city each year would be: more press. If everyone knows that the Chicago book fair happens annually, then all the TV, magazines, radio, etc can start regularly anticipating and reporting on it, almost mechanistically. This year, the number of attendees sporting red badges (signifying “Press”) were practically non-existent‹we’re glad Joy Press (great name; two people asked me if it was “real”) from VLS was there.
Next year’s BEA will be in New York City, and the year after in L.A., but our prediction is: ever-diminishing returns. Maybe it’s time for an Independent Media Association (IMA) Convention; with big corporates barred. A worker for a major book distributor reported taking virtually no orders all of Saturday afternoon. A Pope impersonator was making the rounds, but apparently brought little blessing to the merchants of words. On the bright side, a friend who attended this year’s event managed to take home 3 full suitcases of free books and other giveaways‹one suitcase a day. She considered BEA well worth attending for “the haul”!
For a small publisher, the absolutely best part of attending was seeing a handful of friends and allies whom we rarely see outside of the B.E.A., and meeting a small number of new acquaintances and friends who are encouraging, supportive, talented and funny. Among these are Cynthia Plaster Caster (see the documentary on her), Linda Hayashi (from Seventies Punk days–hadn’t seen her in like 20 years); the Four Graces from our neighboring booth, Really Great Books, who published a favorite mystery, Gary Phillips’ The Jook; writers like Patricia Monaghan and Jon Resh; and assorted people from Black Rose Books (Canada), Soft Skull Press, Gingko, etc, and our distributors and sales people, of course, who are more on a Crusade to Change the World than to make big $$. And lastly, I was happy to see my hosts, Tammy and Dennis, who have definitely kept their edge as far as sociological, political, ethical, anti-corporate and anti-control process theorizing is concerned . . . More on that later.
I’ve been a Joey Ramone fan since before there were Ramones…my first
Despite what people say about CBGB booking punk bands and “before you knew
I flew to New York for Joey’s 50th birthday tribute, Saturday, May 19.
Fifteen dollars got you in the door, but the stories about Joey were
When the show stopped around midnight, the party started. Yankee Doodle
The Ramones were the best band of my generation (okay, that’s my opinion).
I was told that any profits from the birthday celebration were donated to
4. REVIEWS of OUR NEW BOOK (REAL CONVERSATIONS 1):Again, please support us and order it! Here are some more responses:
Calvin Reid, Publisher’s Weekly, May 28, 2001-
John J. James, Music News–
From George, San Francisco Street Sheet–
Benjamin Cossel, Nightshade Books–
Stacy Wakefield, Index Magazine–
Phil Glatz, a reader-
“Much of it has to do with the changes to the quality of life as corporations swallow things up, including control of the popular media and sources of information. But it’s also about the indomitable human spirit; each of the interviewees has bucked the trend and are surviving by independently publishing their own works and working outside the main system. And they all have interesting and enjoyable things to say.
“Vale is one of the best interviewers around today, right up there with Terry Gross and Studs Terkel. He started his publishing company in the early days of the SF punk scene, after being disgusted by the way the mainstream media was covering emerging cultural trends. He ran a typesetting service as a way to pay for the publication of the early influential ‘zine “Search and Destroy”, which later morphed into RE/Search. His back catalog isn’t for everyone, but there are few who have covered the extremes of outsider culture (body modification, punk, lounge music, fetish, DIY publishing) with such passion and intelligence. He deserves our support.
“But I wouldn’t be saying this if Real Conversations wasn’t a fun read too. Check it out – and preferably from an indie like City Lights, or from his web site (and while you’re there, pick up a copy of Pranks!, probably my favorite book of all time)”
To find out more about the book:
Henry Rollins, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jello Biafra & Billy Childish discuss:
– The Internet, dot-com backlash and SillyClone Valley-
Real Conversations 1 will interest musicians, literati, and pop culture enthusiasts alike….Theory that isn’t stuffy.
Rollins: World-traveler, Cultural critic, Rock icon
5″ x 7″, 240 pages, 30 illustrations
June 2001 Newsletter written by V. Vale
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