We recently convinced a magazine we love - love being the sub-theme of today's musings - that it probably wanted to let us do a column on these things, not Lucky Man or coffee, per se, but that whole independent thing. With much fanfare we submitted our first column only to find out that where we were going with this was not exactly where they wanted to go after all. It happens, it makes us sad, but it happens.
But there is still a completed column floating in the ether. Shouldn't it have a home? Of course it should. And here we are, and we can do whatever we like at "This Blog Will Change Your Life," as long as it mostly fits the quasi-narrow criteria identified above - (1) Lucky Man love, (2) coffee - still kind of in development, and (3) independent arts and artists everywhere.
So, without further adieu, the column we loved so much can be found in all its glory below. We know that there are people and things you will encounter that we have discussed before here and elsewhere, but we also know that just about every one of them will change your life. So please, take a look, visit them, buy things, support artists and progressives, and enjoy.
Is it a career, or a series of really lame jobs? This is the question posed by cartoonist Steve Lafler and writer Stephen Beaupre in their new joint, 40 Hour Man a graphic novel released by Manx Media. 40 Hour Man is a celebration of dead-end jobs and burning questions including, what exactly is it like to coordinate record store appearances by the Village People? For the record, it is amazingly un-cool, and while this isn’t a surprise, that makes it no less fun to read about.
Ripped from the pages of real life. It would be reasonable enough to ask why anyone would want to read their adolescent diaries, journals, and love letters. It would be even more reasonable to ask why someone would do so in front of an audience reveling in how pathetic they once were. And yet there are people who just cannot help themselves, and for those people there is Mortified. Live shows are now happening coast to coast and audience members everywhere report feeling much better about them selves as they head home.
Is it okay now to be opposed to the Iraq War? It is, but when it wasn’t Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s traveling anti-war exhibition was there any way and it’s still going. There is a pair of boots for every United States military casualty. There is a Wall of Remembrance for every Iraqi killed. And there are exhibits looking at the costs and consequences of the war. It is a big fuck-you to the current administration and its policies, and to see it is to stand witness.
What does it mean to be Bad At Sports? It means there are people who better become artists because they suck ass at baseball, football, or soccer. It also means riffing on the art scene in Chicago and beyond, mocking Canadians, and calling each other “cunt.” And where does all this happen? On Bad At Sports, the weekly podcast based out of Chicago that reviews art shows everywhere, interviews artists of all stripes, and explores what it means to make art, even if the artist has to make a living in other ways to do so.
Videos? Check. Literary journal? Check. Music? Check. At first 20dissidents (not sure if this link is working right now, but it will, I promise) decided to protest Andrew Jackson being on the twenty-dollar bill (see the Trail of Tears). Then MoveOn.org’s Bush in 30 seconds contest came along and they decided to shoot a video. That wasn’t enough though, so they created the 20dissident’s literary journal. But why stop there? Why not create 20dissidents music and provide a forum for the musicians they love? And so it came to be, a bunch of twenty-something freaks with day jobs from Raleigh-Durham began building a multi-media empire, and for that, we salute them.
Where can I get a handcrafted poster, an original t-shirt, and a plush doll thing-y? Oh, and where can I meet hot, DIY, hipster dudes and chicks. There is only one place to go my friend, the Renegade Craft Fair. The fair began in 2003 when co-creators Sue Blatt and Kathleen Habbley saw there were no events catering to their interests and the DIY crowd. What started in Chicago has now spread to Brooklyn, NY, and where once they hoped 40-50 locals would join them, applicants come from around the country, and each event has over 150 vendors. It rocks, and did we mention the plush dolls?
The Prohibition as a serialized comic? C’mon. It’s true and people everywhere have been running to Ambrosia Publishing to check out Smuggling Spirits, because Ben Fisher and Mike Henderson are onto to something really exciting. Smuggling Spirits is their new Prohibition era comic which will be released in two volumes, the first in October 2007. The best part, like Dickens and King, Stephen not Martin Luther, before them, they are releasing it in serialized fashion, and it can be read on-line. How cool is that? Way cool!
Bombs. Nice bombs? What the fuck does that mean? There was a moment when Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi asked himself whether he could pull off returning to Iraq to film a documentary about what exactly was going on there following the American invasion of his homeland and birthplace. And then he decided to go for it. The result is Nice Bombs, and it’s knocking people on their ass, for real.
Where do zines go not to die? Don’t most zines die lonely deaths, loved by some, but read by few and then for the most part discarded? Yes, yes, but Parcell Press had a different idea. What if they created a platform for promoting zines, as well as some independently books and comics, and then helped distribute them? What if they did this on a consignment basis, and published some zines under the Parcell Press imprint as well. That would be pretty awesome wouldn’t it? Yes it would, and yes it is.
Paranoia and horror in the heartland! There are independently-produced horror movies creeping out of the wilds of Wisconsin like plague stricken zombies. They want to be loved and they want people to visit the art-collective JIBANGUS and get their big-ass, hairy, freak-on. Once there, viewers will find enormous hands, angels of death, and full-length films like the Yungling, all of which are locally produced and home grown. Ahhhhhhhhh!