Tuesday, April 27, 2004

(Back to memo)

The most controversial aspect of the ULA remains our use of ballyhoo. It's also the most necessary component of the campaign.

Ballyhoo means nothing more than writers and artists taking themselves off the pedestals they put themselves on, getting down in the muck of this society and competing with other art forms and media. We didn't create this world but we have to live in it. Literature (in the broad sense, literature encompasses all culture) has put itself into a monastery within the society for decades. it's refused to compete. It's said it's too good for any kind of un-genteel behavior.

That's bullshit. we're undergrounders. we're not too good for anything. Unless we get rid of stale, snobby modes of thinking and stop taking ourselves as individuals so seriously we'll never get anyplace.

(We take our ideals seriously.)

-King Wenclas

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Die

Is a really cool zine (now a newspaper) which focuses on philosophy, literature, zine reviews etc. Here's what editor Joe Smith said about the next issue on the newsgroup alt.zines:

Hello Folks,

Just dropping a note to announce a new issue of The Die. This issue --
12 pgs/legal-size/offset/newsprint -- contains

Essay: "The Fate of Solitude in an Electronic Age" -- The Die looks at
some of the issues social critic Sven Birkerts raises in his book The
Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age.

Lefty's Corner: News, Gossip, and tidbits of interest to zinesters

Land of the Free?: (Formerly, "Whose side are they on?) News about
what our keepers have been up to.

Books Old and New: Mental rambling on 2 books by the late philosophy
guru Walter Kaufman, Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred,
Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, and David Hume's
selected essays.

Reviews: Zine reviews

Letters: Letters

Best of all, it's FREE. To get yours, send a note to the following
address and request a copy. Donations of cash and or stamps are
greatly appreciated.

The Die
c/o Red Roach Press
PO Box 764
College Park, MD 20740

Note: Those of you on my subscriber list will receive your copy in
about a week.

Thanks a lot,
Joe Smith

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A conversation with zinester Vlorbik

Vlorbik is pretty well known around the zine world for his short-n-sweet Ten Page news. He's also runs one of the most concise zine directories on the web. Check the link out for more information (it's on the sidebar).

1. You have an extremely wide range of interests which is reflected the
topics that you cover in your zine, The Ten Page News. You cover everything
from math to movies and everything in between including underground comics, literature and teaching. Is there anything you're not interested in? How and when did this facination with just about everything begin?

Thanks . . . I do sort of pride myself on the breadth of my interests.
Within the world of reading and writing, that is: I'm pretty hopeless
in most "practical" areas. Even here -- all I have to do is go into
a bookstore and look around at all the sections I have little-to-no
interest in to remind myself that I'm a long way from a truly
omnivorous reader.

Changing the subject frequently in the TPN is essentially just a trick:
I try to get in and out of a given topic before anybody has a chance
to lose interest in whatever I'm saying. Devoting a zine to any one topic
strikes me as sort of scary since readers already bring certain baggage
to the situation and could decide they're not interested without even
having to look first and find out. Of course I quite admire zines like
_Infiltration_ that stick to a single topic and do it well; I'm just not
inclined to try such a thing myself.

How and when it began? Beats me. My whole family read voraciously.

2. I think that it was in one of your zines, although I can't be sure,
where I heard it, where you said that a goal of yours was to make your life
a work of art. What does this mean to you? How does someone go about
making their lives a work of art?

That was in "Saying__Meaning__Doing"; issue #22 (8/98).
I admitted there that there's an element of exaggeration
in any claim to've ever tried to live this way . . . but the
attitude is something along the lines of "always imagine
that somebody's watching and judging your behavior
on esthetic criteria" mixed in with some "if you can talk,
you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance".

3. Speaking of art, do you consider mathematics an art?

Oh, yeah. The most liberating of the liberal arts.

4. What is the best way for folks like me, who are intimidated by
mathematics to get rid of "math anxiety?"

Human contact seems to be the most important thing here: most
such anxiety seems to arise from certain unpleasant interactions
(quite often with bullying teachers but also with peer group stuff)
and can probably best be dealt with by somehow arranging certain
much more pleasant ones. Good teachers are of course hard to find
(and the industry is set up to drive us out in a hell of a hurry;
but that's another rant).

5. Been reading/watching anything cool that you'd like to recomend?

Try my blog!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Moby Lives

Was a pretty decent website. Sorry to see that new columns aren't coming out anymore. They ran a pretty sympathetic article on the ULA a while ago. Michael Jackman's first Monday Report appeared there in the letters page. Big supporter of the independent press. Oh well. So it goes, I guess.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Wred Fright

Yeah, I know that yesterday's post was a little bizarre. I was in a bad mood.

Anyway, checked out Wred Fright's website (www.wredfright.com) yesterday, as I like to do periodically. Looks like he's doing pretty well for himself these days, devoting himself mostly to his music (Team Fright). Don't know what the band sounds like. God only knows, actually. It's too bad he doesn't seem to have any major writing projects coming up, as I really enjoyed his zine novel, The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus (which, if you're feeling adventurous is available for free on his website in html. If you want to print it out make sure you got plenty of ink!).

Anyway, visit the website for a quick laugh or two. Dig on the photos of Fred in a Mexican wrestler's mask!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I'm on strike: a rant by Patrick King

Fuck it. I'm goin' on strike. I'm putting up, shutting up, growing up, bringing up.........

Goddard directed some amazing movies. But you wouldn't have heard of him because he didn't make movies for Hollywood or created a sitcom or.......Bill Blackolive creates folk-writing for decades and his adventures go unnoticed.

I'm taking a pill or two and having a beer and sitting in front of the TV and I'm not going to think about art ever again.

But I wish it was that easy. I'm addicted to art. I can't go on strike.........

Thursday, April 15, 2004

(More from memo.)

All he ULA has done to date is prove its strategy has legs. The door is open to impact this culture and this society. We as artists, performers, publishers and writers will never walk through that door unless we get more help from undergrounders within and without the ULA.

The gains the ULA has made have been done through the effort of just a few of us. How much more could we accomplish with ten times that number working hard for the team?

Everyone in the ULA is a free agent, with his or her own beliefs and plans. Too many of us, though, are islands unto themselves, keeping the team at arm's length. (Some are embarrassed to be associated with us.) With the opportunity for the plan to succeed, this outlook serves no one's interest. We need more people willing to identify fully with the ULA, to make one's talents and projects part of the ULA project.

Do compromises have to be made? Absolutely. I've compromised in areas I never thought I would-- such as selling in Tower Records, or using the Internet-- because others convinced me the actions were in the best interest of the team. I then plunged into these areas with enthusiasm.

When people say, "the ULA could do this, or the ULA should do that," I want to scream, "You're the ULA!" I'm already working as hard as I can for this. I can't do more.

-King Wenclas
A quote from lit-zeen publisher Frank Marcopolos to someone a while back:

"Marketing art is difficult, especially for an artist, and that's essentially what you're talking about here. Ideally, what you'd have is a team where one half of the team creates well and the other half markets and sells well."

What he leaves out is that there has to be strong cooperation between the two sections. The ULA has done well at marketing-- it's what the campaign is about; the KGB crash, Moody protest, the lot of it. The marketing could be much much more successful if we received even a minimum of cooperation from those we're trying to market; the great "stars in their own minds."

The classic example of course is the glamor puss we originally were trying to center this thing around. We got some fast press for the person-- could have achieved more-- if Mohammed would've gone to the mountain instead of waiting for the mountain to come to him (her).

The underground doesn't triumph because it's disorganized. Everyone wants to do their own thing, and believes they know best, instead of recognizing that it's better to mesh and fit varied talents, instead of every one individual trying to do everything.

-King Wenclas
(More from memo.)

The most frustrating mantra heard since Day One from ULAers past and present is that they want to "just write." I call them the Just Write crowd. Their attitude shows a fundamental failure to understand the society in which they live and the nature of the lit-biz.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one's around, does it make a sound?

Today, it doesn't matter how good a writer you are if no one knows about you. Oh yeah, they may not now-- but when you die, you'll be discovered and recognized as a genius. Dream on. As Cullen Carter pointed out, more likely to happen is that your collection of masterworks will be shoved in with the rest of your junk at a garage sale, and tossed into the trash when no one buys them. Genius vanished.

-King Wenclas

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

We need some kick-ass noisemakers on this team.

And some radicals. Some revolutionaries. Where are the revolutionaries?

Sometimes I think the entire populace is brain deadened by TV. What passes for dissent in this country is stage-managed dissent. Like these well-organized protest marches. Everyone follow the path, and chant like sheep the organizers chant! I wouldn't be surprised if the government was behind them, cynically to show how easy people can be misdirected or controlled.

We have a sham of protest in this country. Look at Punk Planet. Mouthing all the proper things, at the same time buddying up with Dave Eggers, spawn and icon of the establishment, and keeping away the genuine article, the ULA.

The ULA needs manifestos and rants. It needs more dynamicc Monday Reports that can rock the cultural establishment to its foundations. It needs to get moving.

-King Wenclas

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

(More from memo.)

We're serious about competing with the conglomerates. There's no reason why we can't outdo those slow-moving top-heavy dinosaurs across the board, if we offer snappier products and more exciting writers and personalities.

What's needed though is for people to believe in this project, and have imagination about what it can achieve.

If we had more work behind this plan, we could blow the majors away. We're already outdoing million-dollar professional corporate publicity departments. We already contain the most exciting literary performers on the planet. And we do also contain a few pretty good writers. What's needed is to put the various components of the ULA machine together and get it operating smoothly. What's needed is to get our talents out there, in front of the full populace. (Via the fulcrum of global publicity.)

-King Wenclas
(From memo.)

The ULA is built on the team concept. We need members who think of themselves as part of a team; who can submerge the "I" into the team; who put the team first. It's the only way this project will succeed.

The idea being: whatever benefits the ULA, benefits those who belong to it.

Rather than forty people separately trying to promote themselves and their projects, it's more efficient and effective for everyone to promote an overarching entity: "ULA."

Now that the ULA has gained standing in the culture, become a recognizable name, the benefits of the strategy should be clear. As a group, we can . . . create a platform for each ULA member to utilize. The more attention we draw to the group draws attention to those who belong to it.

-King Wenclas
I'll get back to the Oates review in a few days. What I also want to do is put up some excerpts from an internal memo I've written. I'm debating how far I want to pass it around.

The ULA was designed to be a vehicle for underground writers to use to promote themselves. It's an opportunity-- but only if they choose to use it.

One of the problems is that today there are few people with the mentality of free booting pirates. (Which is all those at the Alamo were. They wanted freedom at all costs. They escaped from law and regulation into the inhospitable Texas wilderness.)

People today are raised within systems. They're brainwashed by systems, and are only comfortable within them. (Safe bureaucracies of some kind. Have your safety net, everyone? Your pension and health care? Don't exist without it! It's your umbillical cord.) I'm referring to bourgeois folks, of course, not the bottom third of America.

Middle class people want the pose of rebellion, but given a choice, they'll take security over making history, every time.

-King Wenclas

Saturday, April 10, 2004

From New Philistine #38 (1997)


Joyce Carol Oates spoke in Detroit at a local university last October. I rode my 10-speed bike to see it. I couldn't stay for the entire presentation; I work nights. The affair was revealing. I was privileged to glimpse the literati and their audience in their element, among themselves. A tall stick figure in a fright wig stood on stage, with a little round head, round eyeglasses, and a nasally voice with a trace of a New York accent.

In my zine I insult people. The acclaimed Oates was no less insulting in her talk, only her targets were politically correct, safe, and obvious. Among them were Donald Trump, and men; the Woodrow Wilson School of Diplomats or Something at Princeton, and men; Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, and more men; American Southerners during the time of the Civil War!, and once again, the vanity of men. Oates herself has no vanity, I guess.

The crowd enjoyed it. They chuckled on cue at the appropriate moments. Present throughout her smug superiority was an unstated message conveyed with a wink and a nod: "WE know. WE are above all that." THEY, the crowd, and she, are not touched by the sins of the world, by arrogance, ambition, envy, racism, sexism, greed, or hate. The "crowd" in this case was made up of the top 20% I've referred to in previous issues, or really, the top 1 or 2%. I sat outside the hall on my bike watching them arrive.

Before the lecture I had sat in my room located in a run-down tenement, gazing out a second-floor window, hearing the howl of stray dogs and the hungry screams of crack addicts, watching cloudy night fall over the moody, noirish streets. Then I set out, wearing beneath my tattered leather jacket a denim poncho with hood. The rain turned the sooted city images around me dark and indefinite, imbuing them with a spectral haze that made them appear even more dangerous than they were. I pedaled my 10-speed bike. Rain pummeled my shoulders and head. Red color from a seedy saloon's neon sign flowed into the avenue like blood. Ahead waited the secure urban campus.

The brick lecture hall sat as a refuge from the elements. The people scattering into it from a close-by parking garage were well dressed, as if going to an opera, of obvious affluence. A typical couple: A silver-haired man of sixty-five, well fed, wearing an expensive overcoat, the wife fifteen or twenty years younger, blondish and thin, once a knockout, still attractive.

"General Lectures?" they asked as I sat on my bike in the rain. I pointed. "Who's speaking?" I asked.

"Joyce Carol Oates. The novelist?" the perfumed and painted woman told me. her stolid companion appeared anxious to get into the hall. Rain brushed the edges of his well-made coat. "She won two Nobel Prizes," the woman continued, eager that I be impressed. "Or she was nominated for them anyway."

The lady's companion dragged her inside. Now I knew why they had driven into dark Detroit this evening from a far distant suburb. It was an opportunity to be in the presence of true cultural celebrity and weight of the highest (class and taste) form. Literature today represents nothing so much as exclusiveness, as breeding and manners.

The night sky was black. My clothes were soaked. I chained my wet bike to a pole and followed the couple in.

(To be continued.)

-King Wenclas

Patrick, I'm going to borrow your blog again for a moment to put up an excerpt from a 90's zeen of mine. I'm doing it for a writer named Elliot McGucken who sent me his novel gratis.

Background: the excerpt is from around 1997, when I was living in Detroit's skid row district as I was getting myself back on my feet, all the while cranking out issues of my ultra-low budget newsletter, New Philistine.

-King Wenclas

Monday, April 05, 2004

Stickin' it to the self-publishers: A Rant by Patrick King

So I've started making my own movie. Got me a cheap lil' digital camcorder, using my best bud's kick-ass computer to edit the thing. I feel great. It feels great. Just like my fiction writing, this has been horribly stressful, creative and all that shit.....but there's one difference: when I put my movie on the web or on video tape, I'll no longer be a self-publisher.

Why? Because, for some reason, independent movie-making isn't considered self-publishing. Just slap a production company name on the thing and it gives the impression that, well, there is a company behind it, even if you did everything from shooting to editing the damn thing yourself.

I mean, seriously, do you ever hear someone utter, "I saw this self-published movie last weekend," or "You've got to see this self-published movie" while standing around the 'ol watercooler on Monday morning? Of course not. That's because they're called independent films, which sounds hip, cool, all that jazz (actually, to be fair, this usually does refer to movies with budgets of thousands of dollars or more. Truly DIY movies are rarely seen beyond the film-festivals).

But for years, the independent literary scene has been branded with this seemingly horrific label and it doesn't look like this'll be changing anytime soon. Self-publishers. Can't get their shit published. Or worse: unpublishable.

Fuck it. This has to stop. Independent movies have thrived while independent literature has all but vanished. But I love it. And I know others do too. If you're new to independent literature and maybe reading this on a lark, let me help you out. Below are just a few of my favorite zine-related websites:

www.groups.google.com (click on alt.zines)