I'm about to hit the road again, starting in Salt Lake City, where I'll be a Guest of Honor at Westercon (Jul 3-6), and will follow it up with an appearance at the SLC library (Jul 7); then I'm doing a three-day library tour around PDX, with stops in Beaverton (Jul 8), Tigard (Jul 9) and Hillsboro (July 10) (here's a complete list of my scheduled upcoming public events).
Hats off to Canadian Molly Schuyler, who undertook a record-breaking 72-oz steak consumption on a whim at Sayler's of Portland, OR. Schuyler polished off the 4.5lb slab of meat in less than three minutes. The world record time this feat stood at 6:48. It's not clear whether Schuyler's record has official standing, though: record-setting conditions appear to stipulate that challengers use a knife and fork, not their hands. Nevertheless, Schuyler has done something amazing.
As Scientology's numbers and influence decline, the
company religion is desperate to maintain appearances. Mark 'Wise Beard Man' Bunker managed to get shots and videos of this weekend's gala opening in Portland (despite a keystone kops runaround from the Portland cops, whom Scientology suborned to chase independent press away from the event), along with other, less public Scientology skeptics. They estimated the crowd at 450-750; the Church put it closer to 2,500, and to prove it, they photoshopped a bunch of stock-art people overtop of a line of rented trees.
Reading Frenzy, the astoundingly great zine store in Portland, OR, lost its lease. They need to raise $50K to reopen. The store's founder, Chloe Eudaly, writes,
Reading Frenzy, a small but internationally renowned bookshop in Portland, Oregon devoted to small press and self-published titles, lost their lease and is kickstarting their relaunch! Plans include doubling their size and scope, adding a dedicated gallery space, increasing their events programming, and eventually adding workshop space, a reading room, and an artists' book and zine print-on-demand project. Rewards include a variety of top notch printed matter by some of their favorite artists, including Miranda July, Nikki McClure, and Carson Ellis.
Their project is currently hovering at about 30% funded with three weeks to go. This is an all or nothing scenario -- if the project doesn't succeed, Reading Frenzy will not reopen, and the world will have one less awesome independent bookshop. Weirdest moment in the project so far: When Miranda July's tweet about the campaign was retweeted by (our hero) Judd Apatow!
This is one of the best bookstores I've ever visited. The world needs it! Chloe is a brilliant bookseller, too, and as she points out, if not for the rotten luck of losing a lease, the business would be humming along merrily, and also spinning off more projects like its zine-creator's makerspace, the Independent Publishing Resource Center.
PDX event for "Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology"
Hey, Portlandians! Brian David Johnson and James H Carrott are doing a talk and signing for their new book, Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology, a fascinating look at the historical significance of steampunk, and an exploration of what the popularity of steampunk today's means about tomorrow's technology, at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell's on March 25 at 7PM.
Steampunk, a mashup in its own right, has gone mainstream, with music videos from the likes of Nicki Minaj; America’s Next Top Model photo shoots; and Prada’s Fall/Winter menswear collection featuring haute couture, steampunk style. Some steampunk fans revile this celebrity. But James H. Carrott, co-author of Vintage Tomorrows, says that’s just how cultural change happens. “Things get appropriated; they affect the culture in some way or another, and the people who are at the heart of trying to make that change move onto the next key idea.”
So what is steampunk, exactly, and why should we care? Carrott, a cultural historian, says “steampunk is playing with the past.” The world that steampunk envisions is a mad-inventor’s collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions, powered by steam and driven by gears. It’s a whole new past; one that has a lot to say about the futures we want to see.
In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) joins Carrott (@CultHistorian) in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts such as Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and James Gleick, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it means for our age of disposable technology.
Chloe from Portland's Reading Frenzy sez,
Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse is the a documentary about a teenage boy who finds himself through punk rock, zines, and comics and loses himself to schizophrenia. Although he was able to manage his illness with medication, live independently, and make a life for himself -- a success story within the mental health community -- his story ends in tragedy. Six years ago he was confronted and apprehended by Portland Police, tackled, beaten and tased, refused medical treatment, and ultimately died in police custody. He had committed no crime other than to run when ordered to stop.
This is an important story to our local community (Portland, Oregon) because of James' early involvement in the punk scene, the fact that he was connected to so many people who have gone on to be successful musicians (Greg Sage), artists (Mike King), writers (Monica Drake), and filmmakers (Steve Doughton), and that he was a downtown Portland fixture for decades (also a Reading Frenzy customer). But his story has broader implications around the issues of police brutality and corruption, civil rights, and mental health issues. Of course it is especially near and dear to my heart because James found a vital outlet for his ideas and creativity through zines and comics.
Brian Lindstrom is a Portland filmmaker who has a number of compelling works under his belt. Lindstrom has created a very human portrait of James Chasse, someone the police and the media thought they could sum up in a few words and dismiss. He allows everyone -- family, friends, witnesses, and experts -- to speak for themselves, while he explores every angle of James' life and death. Any attempt to reason this tragedy away or blame the victim is almost effortlessly vaporized by the truth.
Chloe adds, "Also wanted to make sure you got the link for the free download of the zine we put out a few years ago. It's a nice supplement to the film.
Correction: The Borderlands event is on Feb 7, not Feb 8.
As this post goes live, I am on a plane from London to Seattle to kick off the tour for Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother. My first stop is tomorrow (Feb 5) night, at the Seattle Public Library, and then I head to Portland for Feb 6, where I'll be at Powell's in Beaverton. Then it's off to San Francisco, where I'll be at Booksmith on Feb 7, and Borderlands on Feb 8.
There's a lot more cities on this US tour, mostly in the warm spots (we're trying to minimize weather delays, because the schedule is so tight). And though it's not on the calendar yet, I'll be Lawrence, KS on Feb 28 at the Kansas Union's Alderson Auditorium at 7:30 and in Toronto on Mar 1 for a presentation at the Merril Collection at 7PM.
If you're wondering what the book's all about, The Oregonian ran an interview with me this weekend about the book:
A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that the emergency had become permanent. Declaring war on an abstract noun like "terror" meant that we would forever be on a war footing, where any dissent was characterized as treason, where justice was rough and unaccountable, where the relationship of the state to its citizens would grow ever more militarized.
But this permanent emergency didn't have any visible battlefront -- it was a series of largely invisible crises in the form of brutal prosecutorial overreach, police crackdowns, ubiquitous surveillance, merciless debt-hounding and repossession.
I wanted to write a story that helped kids see this invisible, all-powerful crisis unfolding around them, and helped them see that it didn't have to be that way, that they could push back.
I've heard from thousands and thousands of kids who were influenced by "Little Brother," kids for whom it was an inspiration to become makers, programmers and activists. I wanted to reach these kids again, and their little sisters and brothers, and show them that the fight goes on and it needs them.
Cabel visited an old, crumbling basement in Portland, OR, which was once the building in which The Orgeonian was printing and is now a major fiber-optic exchange. The basement is a beautiful mix of peeling pinups, faded WWII campaign maps, forgotten graffiti, and super-modern pipes filled with pulsing fiber, neatly pushed right through those old walls. And as Cabel points out, every time you load this webpage, the bits representing the photos of the basement course through those fibers, through the basement itself.
Andy Baio and Andy McMillan have announced XOXO, a SXSW-like "disruptive creativity" conference in Portland. They're pre-selling the tickets on Kickstarter, and if they don't sell enough, they're not going to do it. They've made and shot through their targets already -- don't worry!
We'd confirmed most of the entire lineup by Monday, including the founders and CEOs of Etsy, Kickstarter, Metafilter, 4chan, Canvas, Simple, VHX.tv and The Atavist, and the creators of World of Goo, MakerBot, Indie Game: The Movie, Star Wars Uncut, Diesel Sweeties and Black Apple. And Julia Nunes! (This is as close to WaxyCon as you're ever going to get.)
Andy and I debated back and forth about whether the project was ready to announce, and both of us were nervous. It's a unique project for Kickstarter, and we didn't know if we'd provided enough detail to convince people that we're working on something really exciting. We'd run all the numbers, and to do everything we wanted without cutting corners or selling out, the tickets would cost around $400. Was that price too high? What if only business and marketing types sign up? Is the festival too long, too short, too far to travel?
So many doubts, so many fears. We were betting it all — pre-selling every single ticket with a $125,000 goal. And we were serious: if it came up short, we'd walk away. Months of planning would be wasted, but at least we wouldn't have lost our shirts.
Devon sez, "Portland, OR is the next city to consider a plan to implement police surveillance cameras throughout the downtown area. The proposal is to have surveillance cameras that can be accessed and controlled by police officers through their mobile devices. Although the Portland Police Bureau has assured the city council that the mobile devices will be secure, they are proposing to have the system operated through a wi-fi network. This proposal is coming at a time of significant municipal budget woes, when Portland Police are facing the potential layoff of 56 officers. Mayor Adams maintains that this system will have a deterrent effect upon crime in downtown Portland."
Maxine Bernstein reports in The Oregonian:
Amid unaddressed concerns, the Portland City Council on Wednesday sent Police Chief Mike Reese back to his bureau to draft stricter policies before allowing police to place surveillance cameras on private property in Old Town and Chinatown.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman echoed concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon when he asked for assurances that police wouldn't use the cameras to peep into private residences.
Reese, who wants to put up the video surveillance cameras to help officers monitor drug deals, said "These cameras are not focused on anything but public right-of-ways."
The chief, though, did acknowledge in response to a question that the cameras the bureau has are able to "pan, tilt and zoom."
While Reese said any footage obtained from a private residence wouldn't be allowed in a criminal prosecution, Saltzman wasn't satisfied.
He said he wouldn't support the ordinance unless a clear policy was in place prohibiting the misuse of the camera technology.