Thursday, March 29, 2012

Travel Story - Chicago Zine Fest 2012 - Part 2

Click HERE to view the accompanying photos for the story.

I woke myself up the next morning at about 9:15, over an hour later than I wanted to get up originally.  M stayed up a bit later than I and she forgot to set her alarm for me.  My big deal really, I still had about an hour and a half to get to the fest.  I took my time to get ready, ate an apple and thanked/said goodbye to M for being nice enough to let me crash at her place.  Off I went back downtown to find Columbia College and a parking spot.  After driving around for a bit, I did eventually find a parking spot and walked to the fest with all my gear in hands.  The particular campus building where zine fest was is the Ludington Building, one of the first steel-framed buildings ever built.  It's designer. the legendary architect William LeBron Jenny, the father of the modern skyscraper. Being an amateur architecture nut, I thought this was kinda cool.  These days, Columbia College uses the building for its visual media studies.  By the time I got up to my floor, and my table set up, it was already after 10:30, not leaving me enough time to visit the tables on the first floor.  I did make it around to about  ten or so tables, and did get a few snaps of the first floor but shortly had to tend my own being already 10 minutes after 11pm.  I felt based on what I brought and how I set up my display, I had a good mid-level presentation.  There were many professional writers who had published works for sale that really went all out to sell their shit, or at least make it appear as appealing as possible.  These are the people who travel to every major zine fests throughout the city, and often are selling their books in the $8-$20 range.  On the other side of the zinester spectrum of presentation, there was the people who only brought one or two items, without any other presentation outside of the zines sitting on the table themselves.  It was plain to see that these are the people who are new to zines, or are just very casual/hobby types.  The best thing about these kind of displays however, is that they usually have a very good price point and for the value, have the best zines in the fest.  I myself, I brought five different projects;  The new Stranger Randy comic by a local Omaha artist, John Crowley.  Plus, I reprinted all the back catalogue items I've done in the past, but at super cheap prices just to get them out there into peoples hands.  I also gave away some free mini-comics that my friend C from Lincoln gave me a few months prior.  Months prior to the fest I won a Nebraska state flag on ebay for 99 cents and that was my tablecloth giving me my earlier mentioned mid-level presentation.  Anyway, by about 11:30am there really wasn't that many people up to my floor yet, so I took the time to visit with my immediate neighbors and checkout/trade/buy what they had to offer.  Every zinester at the fest had such a positive glow about them, that it was really easy to converse with them and it was really interesting to see how creative people are.    By noon things were really picking up speed with more and more people coming in each minute.  Basically from noon till 6pm I was talking to fest goers at my table, leaving very little time in between to get a bite to eat or even a cup of coffee.  Throughout the day I met quite a few punks and hardcore kids who shared the same love for underground art as me.  I got to meet in person the first out-of-state zine purchasers that showed interested in my zines.  We have maintained email correspondence for a couple years now, and it was really fun and exciting to finally meet her in person.  She is just as a wonderful and friendly person as she portrayed in her emails.  I also met an interesting guy from Slovakia who was wandering about the country during the time and was volunteering to help out the zine fest.  One of my favorite industrial bands ever, Liabach are from Slovakia, and he was very surprised that I even knew of them yet alone a fan.  It was a great conversation.  I also got to meet some people who told me that they "follow" this very blog.  So to those of you who subscribe and met in person... "HI!" and thank you for the pleasant conversation.  Girl with the Hello Kitty glasses, I emailed you, hit me back up!  I even got to meet MRR editor Mariam B in person and that was a pleasant treat as well.  She bought quite a bit of stuff from me and I feel pretty honored about that... thank you!  By mid afternoon, everything was a blur with all the people really piling into the building.  The city of Chicago really did a good job covering this event and it really had the feeling of a big deal, drawing many types of people from throughout the Midwest, yet alone the city.  At one point I was too busy to even run away for a minute to get a cup of coffee.  Luckily, a random nice guy got me one!  ha!  Cheers!  I never forget how much fun it was to meet all the people I did and to showcase my art in such a way that felt so exciting and meaningful.  The time went by extremely quickly and I was pretty bummed out by the time 6pm rolled around.  I nearly sold out of three of the five items I brought with me, and more than half of the other two.  Through trading and buying I had quite a nice zine haul accumulated.  By the time I got everything packed up, and helped put away the tables it was close to 7, and was ready to meet up with my friend N, the person I will be staying the night with.  Sadly. my in-town friends weren't able to attend the event, but hopefully next year they can.  I know N as a friend and co-worker from my co-op days in St. Paul, MN, and we have remained e-friends even since he moved to Chicago over five years ago.  I found it funny that N lives on the same block that my friend M used to live in two years ago, just around the corner.  N has a very spacious studio apartment in Logan Square with plenty of space to sleep well over four people. If only I knew that last time I was in town, I would have walked over to visit.  Seeing N was a good visit.  He moved away when I was still living in St. Paul and haven't seen him in nearly 5 years.  By this time he was very Chicago-centric in his mannerisms, yet still the same N I used to clown around with at the co-op.  We caught up chatting throughout the rest of the night over some punjab eggplant talking about how people we knew from back in St. Paul were doing, and how we've all kinda went very separate ways since then, yet remained on the same level of friendliness and  familiarity.  N also showed me all his circuit-bent instruments and gadgets and how to manipulate them.  His skill as a musician is quite impressive, but only knew in the past they he played the bass quite well.  Eventually it was well after 2am when we could barely keep our eyes open and were forced to crash.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Travel Story - Chicago Zine Fest 2012 - Part 1

Click HERE to view the accompanying photos for the story.

By the time March had rolled around, I was 100% ready for Chicago Zine Fest.  The only thing stressful leading up to the event was getting there.  I took the time in January to reprint all back-catalogue zines, print all the new Stranger Randy comics throughout February, buy whatever displaying items I needed and etc.  I even took the time to make sure that my car was up to snuff for the 1,200 mile drive.  In December, my brakes went out in my car, and honestly I was glad it happened before I took off on my trip and not while driving on the interstate.  Originally, two other friends were going to come with on the trip.  One, who said he had friends we could stay with the entire time, and the second a close friend who wanted to go for the fun.  I anticipated that neither of them were really going to go so I arranged places to stay with friends that I have in Chicago.  I took the week of the zine fest off from work as well as the week after in order to button up any loose ends, and for having time to stick around in the city if something exciting came up.  I decided that I wanted to leave for Chicago the day before the fest early in the morning to give me some free time to explore the city before my friend M got off from work at 10.  The night before I left, I made note of every Historically Nationally Registered building in Chicago to photograph, and other plans to take up time before 10pm. To get into the city at a decent hour, I left Omaha at 4am with an expected time of arrival into Chicago at around noon.  This past holiday, I received a GPS that came in really handy on my trip.  I pre-programmed all the addresses of the places I needed to be and used it to monitor my gas mileage throughout the trip.  According to the GPS, 65 was the best speed to attain best gas mileage so pretty much the entire way out to Chicago I drove at that speed.

Driving through Iowa for most people is pretty boring.  However, I find middle America to be quite nice with it's open spaces and an interstate that is easy to travel.  Leaving at 4am though is quite boring due to the fact that you can't see anything except the road in front of you.  For the drive I burned two mix CD-Rs with one being more chill with electronic artists, and the other with heavy metal stoner jams to keep things fresh.  While driving in the darkness, I put on the electronic cd with the new and really good Burial ep, as well as the Irresistible soundtrack, that has some straight up gangster tracks.  As daybreak was approaching I was getting close to Des Moines and took a couple snaps of the wind farms that have been popping up recently throughout Iowa.  I was in the heart of Des Moines just as the sun was coming up, and luckily there was minimal traffic.  In case of emergencies I filled up once I was down to a quarter tank, and by the time I got gas, I was 10 miles past Iowa City.  I could probably get to the Illinois border on a full tank, not bad.  By mid-morning I was crossing the Mississippi River and more than half way to my destination.  There is an exit off of I-80 that exchanges to the interstate that goes towards Chicago that quite a tight turn and you have to go pretty slow in order to not fly off the road.  When I went around this curve I noticed that my brakes felt a bit spongy.  By the time I had to stop at the first toll booth, the brake light came on and stopping power was poor.  When I arrived to the Dekalb toll brake power was close to none.  Just my luck to get my brakes "fixed" only for them to go out less than two months later, and on vacation hundreds of miles away form home.  My plan originally was to stop at a place and get some brake fluid and keep the reservoir topped off until I got back to Omaha.  I bought my car from a chain dealership and it happened to be in my favor when I spotted one just a few miles from the toll.  On a whim I decided to take my car there and show them that I just got my brakes fixed and they are going out already.  Luckily I did have my service receipt handy.  The people at the dealership were sympathetic to my needs, and were able to get my car up on a lift only to find that a brake line wasn't tightened properly and was fixed within an hour.  Not only was the service free, I also received two $25 coupons for future service on my car.  It was a relief to just get back on the road, and the coupons was just an extra bonus.  By this point it was after noon and the Friday traffic heading into Chicago city limits was getting heavy.  It was good that I got the brakes fixed because it would have been a huge problem driving through the city with them compromised.  I only lost an hour travel time with the brake ordeal, but it messed up my plans for eating lunch at a vegan cafe on the north side that I wanted to check out, so I decided to check out the Chicago History Museum downtown in the loop.  The interstate that goes through the heart of Chicago is quite ridiculous with exits on both sides of the road so you really have to know what lane to be in, and the closer you get to the loop the more mind boggling it gets.  By the time I got to the Chicago History Museum I only had about 2 hours to check everything out.  The museum is quite nice, and from outside the building doesn't appear to have such a large interior.  There was so much to see inside, that it would take a whole day to see everything.  I only got to see maybe a quarter of the exhibits, mostly the pre-history stuff and the late-1800's time periods.  The 2 hours went by quickly and was asked to leave without seeing most of the museum making it an expensive visit with parking at ticket admission.  I did however get a few good snaps of things inside and would recommend the museum to anyone who is a history buff.  I would later find out that young people never go to this museum and isn't a hip place to visit...  Fuck em!  It was after 4 and I had plenty of time to waste and was hungry so I drove up the street a few miles to check out the vegan cafe for dinner.  I ordered a portobello burger and it was a pretty good meal, but it wasn't worth the $22, shit was dumb.  The people working were super friendly though, and they seemed super interested in the zine fest, so I gave them the address and where to find me.  Chicago has a really cool website that has a lot of the happenings in the city going on, and I found out that a black metal show was going on that night.  It was getting close to the time for the doors to open, so I decided to head out for that.  The show was on the south side of town and I wanted to take the Shoreline Drive on the way just to say I drove it.  The only way I can describe driving Shoreline Drive in Chicago at 7pm on a Friday night is similar to playing Mario Kart.  You basically have to just go crazy with the weaving in and out of traffic, and be aware of lanes that are ending.  The craziest thing I noticed was there isn't any emergency shoulders on the side of the road.  If you have any problems, you are basically screwed, and a lot of people are going to be pissed if you completely block traffic.  To bring things even closer towards the Twilight Zone, a firetruck had to get through, and it was a clusterfuck.  On the way I drove past Soldier Field, and man did they fuck that place up with the remodel.  It's so bad the stadium was taken off of the National Registered Historical Buildings list, ha!   Good job.  The venue I was trying to find was called The Orphanage, and without my GPS, I would have never found the place.  The venue is actually a community center for a church, and the only way I knew it was the place because a heavy metal dude with long hair and trenchcoat was standing outside talking on his cell.  His name was Bob, and after his phonecall he said that this was indeed the place and the show was going to happen in a couple hours... punk time.  I should have known that this show was gonna start late, but if gave me a place to hang out for a couple of hours.  The building it's self is old as shit, and looked really cool inside with a large room, nice stage, and a good PA system.  The space is definitely big enough to host big hardcore shows, and possibly a fest.  Eventually the bands, and metal fans found their way to the place.  This was gonna be a "I'm-a-super-serious-metal-guy" kinda show with most of the people in attendance were wearing spiked everything, and I even spotted a few bullet belts.  I did get to talk to some of the locals and they were nice enough.  By the time the first band was setting up to play, I had to bounce to go pick up my friend M from work.  She was nice enough to let me crash at her place, so picking her up was the least I could do.  Traveling back to her neighborhood was really quick with the traffic being much lighter than earlier in the day, and I was relieved because at this point in the evening I was starting to get tired from being up all day doing all that driving.  I haven't seen M in almost  two years, and it was good to catch up and tell her about everything I did during the day.  She showed me her new place in a different neighborhood, and hooked me up with an old wrestling magazine as a gag gift... Thanks!  It's a pleasure to spend time with my good friends in Chicago, and it's something I should do more often.  We stayed up late chit-chatting about working all the time, punk bands, and places to eat in the city until I could barely keep my eyes open, and soon crashed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Scene Report 2012

Rites Of Spring

Winter is officially over and we were lucky enough to have a very mild season this year compared to the last few.  Now that the weather is getting nicer we will be seeing the usual resurgence of shows and locals playing out.  Things are developing very quickly here in the Heartland with show bookings and local band happenings.  As I currently type this, Lincoln heavyweights; Diamondz R4 Eva are currently on tour with Relentless Approach from Iowa, and will play a homecoming show in Lincoln on the 25th.  Early in April, riff-masters Servus and Swamp Walk from Omaha will head out on a South-Midwest mini-tour with a tour kickoff show planned April 4th at Charles St.  In other local news, I am happy to report that within the last few months a new DIY showspace has started up once again at the famous West Wing in Omaha.  They have been throwing quite a few party shows as of late but recently they have been booking more hardcore and metal bands, so expect more photo updates and show coverage in the coming months.  Switching gears back towards Lincoln, Nebraska's most satanic black metal band; Vickers has been playing out quite a bit and have a rare appearance in Omaha playing with Clinging To The Trees this week at West Wing.  Staying with Lincoln news, the heaviest Purgatory have recently posted two new songs that will be featured on their upcoming cassette tape Hell On Earth that will be available soon via Pretzel City Records.  Plack Blague have just released a new CD (yes, a CD) titled Heavy Leather via French noise label BTK Records and Accidental Therapy.  It is safe to say that Plack Blauge is the best electronic/dance/??? artist in Nebraska and possibly beyond.    Plack Blague has been playing out quite a bit in support of the new material, so be sure to check them out live if you get a chance.  Plack Blague will also be representing Nebraska with an appearance on the legendary Chicago public access television dance show Chic-A-Go-Go on April 1st.  I would also like to announce that Raws from Plack Blague/Vickers/Accidental Therapy has arranged an appearance of legendary punk frontman/label owner Sam McPheeters (Born Against/Veriform Records) will have a reading from his new book The Loom Of Ruin May 18th, at Cultiva Coffee in Lincoln.  In other scene news, Nebraska Hardcore Fest III has just been announced and has been booked at The Commons in Omaha for Sept. 1st, with bands still to be announced.  The last two events were easily the largest and best attended local show in Omaha, and if the tradition continues this show should be an even bigger event this year.  More details will be reported on the fest as they unfold.  Other shows that are upcoming can be checked out by going to the Nebraska DIY web forum.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicago Zine Fest return + More

Chicago Zine fest has come and gone and the event was one of the best times I've had in a good while.  Even after driving for over 7 hours the day before, and sleeping very little, the day of the zine fest was exciting and went by so fast that I didn't have time to even think about being tired and hungry.  It was good to actually meet people who have ordered zines in the past and those who follow the blog in person.  It was also exciting to meet countless new people throughout the entire trip.  After all the stimulation, I am sort of bummed out that the fest and good times I had visiting in-city friends are over and have to settle back into normalcy here in Omaha.  I however, do have refreshing creative resurgence of energy.  I will return for next years event, that's for sure.  Expect a travel story within the next few days complete with some digital photos that I snapped along the way.  I do have a limited quantity of zines printed specifically for CZF left over that can be bought cheaply, as well as a brand new Stranger Randy comic done by local Omaha artist John Crowley.

Since I have been back from Chicago I have been relaxing while still being on vacation, taking the time to tidy up the CCHQ and taking the time thinking of the next project that I'd like to start; a new local CD-R comp.  Submissions for the new mix CD-R is currently underway and I have a production deadline of June 1st.  For CZF, I compiled both previous mix CD-Rs to one cd and it was one of my best sellers at the event, so I am pretty excited to get this project underway.  More updates on the project will be posted once they happen.  Also, winter is over, so expect more photo updates now that more bands will be coming into town and local shows going on.  Expect a Spring Scene Report within the next couple of weeks as well.  That's it for now.  Peace.