April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
Before I was a world famous blogger and these musings on my life, clothes, travels, and writing were read by millions (or at least by my mom, hi mom!), I poured by personal writing out into a small, handmade publication called Indulgence. I started Indulgence a shocking 15 years ago, in 1998, while I was still in high school and living with my parents outside of Portland, Maine.
The name was inspired by one of my high school English teacher’s snide comments about personal writing – that it was nothing but self-indulgence, as a way to mock that sentiment (I think personal writing is vitally important), carve out a space for my writing, and at the same time, not take myself too seriously.
Over the years and issues Indulgence has been a place for me to experiment with form, voice, storytelling and risk taking. I came out as queer in its pages in the second issue, did a lot of soul searching about what it meant to move to New York right before September 11th and experience its aftermath in the 7th and 8th, endlessly analyzed my relationship to race as a white woman in the 9th, and recorded the heartache of a New York to Paris love affair in the 10th. Finally, nearly 5 years after issues #10, I finished issue #11.
Even though the zine was dormant for five years, I never stopped identifying as a “zinester” (I certainly relate to it more than being a blogger) or speaking of Indulgence as an active publication. I met my closest friends through writing and trading zines in the late 1990s and early 2000s and am still constantly inspired by zine culture. My experiences organizing zine events, like the Portland Zine Symposium, were a big part of what inspired me to write my first book, Grow. I was even quoted extensively in the New York Times about zine culture in reference to the recent Brooklyn Zine Fest!
However, I felt like all my interesting personal stories had dried up. I was discussing this with Golnar and Mimi after watching a reading during the Race Riot Zine Tour (both of these rad ladies are in their 30s, super smart academics and still make kick ass zines, by the way) and Golnar’s comment gave me the kick in the pants I needed to make a new issue. “My life is way more interesting than it was when I was 17,” she said, “And I still wrote about my life then, so why not now?”
Right, of course. So Indulgence #11 is my way to coax myself back into personal storytelling. I can’t help but feel like the writing is a bit rough around the edges, but it’s a zine after all.
This issue brought my zine making full circle. I laid it out over the course of two days in Portland, Oregon at the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s brand new space (I spent hours at the old, cramped IPRC back in the day making Indulgence issues #5 through #9). When I brought it, hot off the presses, to the Brooklyn Zine Fest a big group of my zine pals from the late 1990s showed up!
So after all of that, I’m really excited to share this new issue with you. It felt good to get gluestick glue all over my fingers again (despite my love of a clean, minimal layout, I will always prefer to do an old fashioned paste-up to a newfangled InDesign layout) and start to put some thoughts and feelings on the page. It’s 28 little pages of stories about music and life in New York City, line drawings, and infographics that try to grasp at the relationship between career, love and money. All in a hand printed cover lovingly stitched together by my own hands. You don’t quite find that kind of love on a blog, right?
You can have your copy for just $3 plus shipping (or a trade). You can order it here!
February 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’m so excited to share this trailer for my book Grow: How to take your do it yourself project and passion to the next level and quit your job! with you. The animation was created by the talented Mackenzie Katz and it lays out the passions, ideas and experiences that drove me to write Grow. It also highlights what I hope to achieve with this project, from helping creative people clarify their vision and build their own sustainable path to success to working together to build an economy that is supportive of creative businesses and careers of all types.
This book trailer is being released in conjunction with a crowd funding campaign on RocketHub.com to support the production and promotion of Grow. Grow is about building DIY community and your participation during this campaign will enable me to develop and present workshops with other DIY entrepreneurs all over North America to help creative people strengthen and sustain their ideas and businesses.
The campaign is a great time to pre-order Grow and pick up other fabulous titles from the book’s publishers, Cantankerous Titles and Microcosm Publishing, as well as rewards handmade by me, including a special, new issue of my personal zine Indulgence that will only be available to campaign supporters.
You can watch the video, peruse the campaign, learn about all the fabulous rewards, and make a contribution here.
We have until April 1 to reach our $7,000 goal and hope to build as much support as we can in the early days.
Thank you in advance for your support of DIY creativity and for spreading the word about how others can get involved in the growth of the Grow project! The ideas, inspiration, and support I have received from the DIY community has sustained me over the years and I continue to be buoyed by all that my community offers me. Thank you for your attention and support!
February 11, 2013 § 3 Comments
As a way to torture myself a little bit I loaded LA weather on my phone, so the other day when it was twelve degrees in New York City I could console myself with sunnier thoughts, knowing it was in the 70s in Los Angeles. Thankfully, winter can also be a great time to score cheap plane tickets, so when round trip prices from JFK to LAX dipped below $300 snagged one for a long weekend in the city that is my current source of infatuation, just in time for the first annual LA Art Book Fair.
I made time to visit my (new) favorite haunts in Silver Lake and Echo Park and to see friends, but also to explore more nooks and crannies of this sprawling metropolis. After a walk at the Baldwin Hills Scene Overlook and coffee to shake off my jetlag on Friday morning I headed downtown for the art book fair, which was being held at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Building. As is the nature of these events I was immediately overwhelmed with bound creations and intriguing exhibitions, but I especially loved the “zine world” section of the fair and hope that one day I too could be considered a “zine master of the universe.”
I also feel like this trip gave me more chance to talk with artists, writers and creative types (outside of the film biz) who are making their lives and work in LA. I was especially excited to meet Mimi of the architectural zine and blog Loud Paper who recently moved from Brooklyn and was working the table for the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, whose dayglo posters with quotes from LA architects and planners drew me from across the room. I also noticed some general trends in art books and zines at the fair: neon as an accent color was hot, everyone had a tote bag for sale, and about half of the zines available had some kind of homoerotic content (mostly male).
Friday evening coincided with (my) discovery of some of the restaurants and bars of the “Arts district” downtown (which may or may not have any actual artists still living there), with delicious continental beers at Wurstkuche (though I passed on the rattlesnake sausage they had on offer) and a suburbly proportioned, locally sourced dinner at Eat Drink Americano. Later that evening at the Satellite I discovered a new favorite band: the Happy Hollows, who enthusiastic delivery was matched only by the crowd’s enthusiastic reception. After New York’s jaded rock audiences, seeing the Happy Hollows and the warm crowd at the Satellite was a welcome change.
I started my Saturday with a lovely walk in Griffith Park and a pass through the Silver Lake farmer’s market for a coconut, kale and dandelion green smoothie. I later took a wander around West Hollywood, including a glance inside the beautiful new library, and had a wonderful chat all facilitated by Team Gloria, who is my constant source for writing and lifestyle inspiration. After a delicious, lingering brunch conversation about writing, zines and life in LA with Liz at Barbrix in Silver Lake I swung back by the book fair. I was so exhausted by the artistic possibilities I saw I had to take a nap before braving the freeways to Orange County.
As if my LA weekend couldn’t get any dreamier, my friends Torches let me know they were playing a last minute (and sold out!) show in Orange County at the Constellation Room. Despite my culture shock of finding a decent rock club in the middle of a suburban office park, to see Torches on their (sort of) home turn in Southern California was a dream come true. It was really fun to hear their new material, meet their new bassist Braedon, and see a whole group of fans gaze at them adoringly. The newer material rocks a little harder than the songs they played in NYC this fall and their set was full of pop hooks and great vocal harmonies and tremendous drumming by Eric. You can get a taste (and download a new track!) on their Soundcloud page.
I’m also proud to say that thanks to my Orange County jaunt I’ve started to perfect the art of talking like an Angelino and saying things like “Take the 605, to the 405, to the 5, to the 101, to the 110,” when discussing getting around.
Sunday was a complete change of pace with a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, through Malibu, to hike down a canyon at Circle X Ranch, an outing carefully orchestrated by my friend Phoebe and accompanied by my gracious host Kabir. After shuffling along NYC’s icy streets, to be out in the desert sun, smelling spring flowers and marveling at the sandstone cliffs felt like an entirely different world and completely freeing.
To reward ourselves for our hiking efforts we stopped at Neptune’s Net, a fried seafood shack that is a favorite among the biker crowd. Between perfectly grilled fish tacos, crispy fried shrimp and a glimmering view of the pacific I was completely satisfied. The day was completed by watching the sun sink into the water, followed by a glass of wine and an excellent plate of artisanal cheese at super cute downtown wine bar Mignon.
Suffice it to say, LA is still casting its spell on me and continues to lure me with all of its charms. I hope I can go back soon.
April 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When the MC on the second night of Chickfactor zine’s For the Love of Pop 20th anniversary show admitted to being, “A zip code fetishists who sent concealed pocket money to mysterious post offices boxes in hopes that weeks, sometimes months, later news from the outside world in the form of zines and records would return to my mysterious post office box,” I shared a knowing look with the group of ladies I had come to the show with. We could relate. We all met each other through the post and once referred to ourselves as the “Zine Girl Army.”
Chickfator was, at times, infuriatingly snobby and unabashedly self referential. The editors, Gail O’Hara and Pam Berry, had impeccable taste in independent and underground pop music. The magazine was mostly a showcase of the editors friends and they referred to them by their first name and the name of their project, for example “Gail Chickfator.” In the late 1990′s and early 2000′s I loved to read it for a window into a world of indie musicians, both ladies and dudes, that interacted and partied and frankly, existed, somewhere outside of my small town, teenaged life. My friend Alex used to get so annoyed at Chickfactor’s inflated tone of self-importance he would rant ad nauseam on about it, but of course, couldn’t wait until the next issue came out. Chickfactor, and other zines like it, set the tone and the scene for today’s music blogs and helped paved the way for the explosion of indie pop bands like The Pains for Being Pure at Heart hitting it big time.
No matter how you felt about it, Chickfactor had a magnetism and a draw larger than the publication itself. Twenty years later they were able to pull off a three-night extravaganza in two cities featuring bands who I thought had long since broke up with no chance of reunion. Lois, Small Factory, and Black Tambourine. And the Aislers Set! A favorite band from the moment I heard them in 1998 until they stopped playing so frequently, perhaps circa 2004? Since my head has been in the sand about music since about 2008, I relied on Dominick to give me a hot tip about the reunion and bought tickets the minute they went on sale.
The Chickfactor shows were like a class reunion of people I actually wanted to see. It was a reunion of those of us poured our hearts out in letters and cassette tapes and sent them to each other. Laster some of those friends became my everyday friends (and still are) and close neighbors. Seeing people I used to see at shows was almost as exciting as the music itself. Perhaps most awesome, Marissa “Red Hooded Sweatshirt” came down from Boston to join Laura “The Other Ramona,” Keight “Pink Tea,” Yumi “External Text” and me (Eleanor “Indulgence”) for pre-Aislers Set tacos. We all used to go to shows together in Boston and attend zine events around the northeast over ten years ago. When we sat down to eat tacos Laura turned to Marissa and said, “I haven’t seen you in 11 years!”
My friend Kirsten “Lightening Bug” surprised me by flying into Chicago. We staked out space by the front of the stage for Black Tambourine and the next night, for Aislers Set. She reminded me that she had visited me in NYC in 2002 to see the Aislers Set in Williasmburg when I said something to the effect of, “This neighborhood is just getting really gentrified” to explain it to her. “It’s our 10 year Aislers Set reunion!” she announced.
The reunited bands full of energy and sparkle and sounded as fresh as they did ten or fifteen or twenty years ago. Lois performed with Peter from Heavenly and Molly Neuman and played “Strumpet,” which I quoted on my senior page in the yearbook.
My heart raced as she sang, “I laugh too much, I talk too loud, people stare at me when I’m in a crowd, you say I walk around like I own the whole place, but I do, but anyone else can have it all too, just walk around the town like you own it.” I turned to my friend Amelia, who also went to my high school, “This was on my senior page!” I whispered. She smiled, “I know.”
Black Tambourine were revelatory. So many bands now are playing washed out, reverbed out, noisy music with bitter sweet vocals (ahem, my band might do this too), but Black Tambourine helped start that sound. Hearing them alive made all those who cite them as a reference seem pale in comparison.
Small Factory also rocked out with upbeat disappointment and plenty of jagged, self effacing lyrics. They played one my favorite song, singing the chorus loud and heartfelt, “I’m not giving up, I’m not giving up on nothing, I still believe in nothing, just not so much in love.” To hear these words ring out over buzzing guitars and a sea of people left me feeling like if I’m still here, still listening to this music and still loving it as much as ever, I must have done something right in my life.
The second night British folk singer Bridget St. John entranced me with her ethereal yet earthy songs, but the real highlight for me was The Aislers Set, who played at the very end of the night. My friends and I staked out space in the front of the stage and refused to move. “We’re doing this 90’s style!” Constance announced, meaning, we’re staking our claim and not moving, just like we used to do as younger music fans. It was worth it. To have no frustratingly tall people between us and Linton and watch every strum of her 12 string guitar was better than I could have even dared to hope for.
I love the Aislers Set. Their songs are catchy and poppy, and Linton’s lyrics are like stories that you tell someone about the small thoughts you have everyday that somehow add up to a profound reflection on your life. Her imagery always makes me soar, “The queen of every rooftop,” is one line I love. Their sound is big – big guitars, big pounding drums, big layers and harmonies, but still delicate and jangly.
As I soaked in their songs I realized a significant portoin of my life from about age 18 to 23 was spent listening to the Aislers Set. When they played “Mary’s Song,” with its wistful start and bass line that comes in like a tug on your heart strings tears came to my eyes. In away, I thought, my dreams from the time I listened to these records on repeat have come true, but I still feel the same wistfulness and longing that this song so perfectly captures.
When the Aislers Set took the stage an audience member cried out, “It’s been too long!” Indeed, it has been. My life has been missing the Aislers Set.
I don’t know if there will ever be a new issue of Chickfactor, but if there is I will surely read it. I am grateful for the community I know and got to re-experience at the shows thanks to zines and 90’s indie rock. I’m grateful that creative people who make music and help make my world so great are in my city and I don’t have to wait for their letters in my mailbox. I’m grateful the rise of social media has made keeping tabs on a wider scene so much easier. But the Chickfactor shows also demonstrated how much was built during those days of zip code fetishism. As Lois sang, “I make a scene, I read about my scene in a magazine.” She then added, “I’m glad that for me at that time it was magazines because Tumblr just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
September 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I am so pleased to announce that a story about my young days as a punk rock zinester back in Portland, Oregon has been published in the wonderful journal Remedy Quarterly. Run by Kelly Carambula of the fantastic food (and lovely cocktail) blog Eat Make Read, the publication features “Stories of food, recipes for feeling good.” Each issue is put together around a theme and the newly released issue number six has “Stealing” as its binding idea. As with anything theme driven it’s really fun to see how each author interpreted that theme. My piece takes on the late 1990′s punk community’s views on stealing and how we used that to our advantage to help feed hungry zinesters at the first Portland Zine Symposium in 2001. It also features a recipe for my potluck standby, peanut tofu noodles.
Not only is Remedy Quarterly a pleasure to read, but it is beautifully designed. It even features original fonts by Aaron Carambula, among others. In this digital age it’s nice to find a beautiful magazine you can hold in your hand, so the article is only available in the paper journal. Treat yourself! And why not subscribe and support independent publishing and cooking?
And yes, I totally cross posted this to my food blog, 2 Cooks in the Kitchen.
June 1, 2011 § 4 Comments
The other week I went to the Brooklyn Bloggers meetup at the Bell House with my friend Laura of the blog Eating the Beats. It was my first time going to an event consciously as a “blogger,” and despite having written on Killerfemme for the past few years I’ve been hesitant to really identify as being a blogger versus simply being a person who has a blog. All told, the Brooklyn Blog meetup was fun. I talked to bloggers who write about New York nachos, tech and gadgets from a girl’s perspective, writers for Broeklyn, and a brave young woman who writes about being broke and navigating New York’s dating scene. It was nice to hear people’s interesting ideas and find out about how they are crafting their blogs. However, I also feel like I’ve come to blogging too late to really get into it without seeing the bold commercialism that is behind so many blogs now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but blogs are often seen as a means to another end, which is fine, if that’s your goal. While I too would love a book contract and/or a regular byline, I don’t necessarily think my personal blog will be my ticket to my dreams as a writer.
Mostly I feel like I haven’t found my blogging “community” yet. Perhaps it’s because of the vastness of the blogosphere (if we can even call it that anymore), but I don’t feel like I’ve found bloggers who share my ideas, values and aesthetics. In fact, most of the blogs I read are in French. While I thoroughly enjoy those blogs, it’s hard to connect with those writers when I write in a different language, even if I comment on their entries en francais.
This made me think back to when I started making my personal zine Induglence in 1998. When I first encountered zines I knew immediately that I would make one myself. The concept of publishing one’s own personal writing made sense to me innately, especially as a teenager, because I knew that I could not expect anyone else to publish my work. Perhaps because I knew exactly the kind of writers I wanted to connect with—I would describe them loosely as young feminists interested in art, queer politics, and music—it was easier for me to immerse myself in the zine community. I felt like over the course of two or so years I was able to build up an audience for my zine and also a network of close friends, penpals and fellow zinesters that I felt I shared something in common with. My connection to and beleif in the power of the zine network extended into helping found the Portland Zine Symposium in 2001. It continues to resonate into my adult life because some of my closest friends (and neighbors) are women I met through zines over 10 years ago.
Perhaps its because I have close friends now that I don’t feel the same urgency to seek out people to connect with through blogs. However, I also feel like I am writing in a vacuum, and some days that makes me wonder if I should even continue to bother with this blog. Keeping a blog (and keeping it up more regularly and diligently) has reminded me about the whole reason I started making zines and keeping a blog to begin with: to write. Being a writer has been my dream ever since I was a little girl and it is something I am determined to make a reality in my thirties. I know it’s harder now than ever to distinguish oneself, one’s voice, one’s ideas, and one’s blog (especially if I don’t have hundreds of dollars and hours to sink into the design and hosting of it), but I also feel like its much easier for me to find opportunities to publish and connect with wider audiences nowadays. For me, I feel like blogging and writing for other web-based publications holds a lot of promise. We’ll see what the future will bring.
October 16, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Jenna, my favorite blue haired zine librarian, was recently donated my old zines for the Barnard Zine Library collection. She put up a recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies which I published in Indulgence #6. Yum! The thing that she didn’t say was that the recipe is from the Canadian label Endearing Records (who are amazingly still around!) mailing email list. I must have received that recipe in 1998? I suppose I’ve made it my own now, but credit where credit is due.
October 13, 2008 § 1 Comment
After four years I made a new issue of Indulgence! True to form, this one is essays about my life, but I’ve shifted from political analysis to personal introspection, framed by places I’ve lived or visited. There are three essays about Paris, Portland, and Brooklyn, and the cover is printed on the Print Gocco and it is hand bound. Of course. I never staple. If you would like to receive one in the mail, please paypal me $3 to killerfemme (at) yahoo.com. I’d also trade for your zine/art proroject or a really good letter. Thanks!
November 4, 2007 § Leave a Comment
Several weeks ago (time is going too fast!) there was a zine reading at ABC No Rio as part of their “Art of Zines” show. It was pretty awesome to hear some old school zinesters like LJ and Elissa Nelson read. I thought about how not only had I started reading their zines about 10 years ago, but how amazing it is that we have become friends. There has been a small amount of zine activity around the city lately (I taught a workshop and attended a reading at Think Coffee the week previous) and I find that so interesting and important. Even though I’m not always sure what the power of zines are in the digital age, I know they have power. Seeing all the zines also motivated me to finally finish a new one. It’s going to be about art (big suprise) and especially about art I hate (nothing like a good rant for a zine, right?).