Hazmat Modine's new album is killer but they need your help to finish it

It's hard to sort Hazmat Modine into a neat musical category. They play the blues, but it's not like anything you've likely heard anywhere else. A lot of folks consider the tunes that the New York City musical collective churn out to be "world music." I think that's just a lazy way of saying that they do a little bit of everything. If you've heard the band's music in person or on any their albums, you'll know that they handle their kitchen sink of influences amazingly well: their work incorporates the best elements of African, Eastern European, Caribbean and American musical traditions: blues, reggae, jazz and Mongolian throat singing, they do it all. The result is a wash of emotional, often joyous sound that's hard not to like.

The band's finished work on their fourth album, Box of Breathe. Well, it's mostly finished. The tracks have been recorded (I've heard them and they're fabulous!) but they still need to be mixed. Musicians and production personnel need to be paid. The album, in its physical form, still needs to be pressed. All this is expensive and, as good as Hazmat Modine is, their music isn't the sort of thing that you're likely to hear on top 10 radio these days. As such, the band has turned to crowdfunding in an effort to offset some of the expenses of getting their latest work out to where folks can hear it.

Of course, there are fabulous prizes to be had. You know the game: depending on how much you're willing to throw at the project, you'll be able to enjoy perks like historic post cards picturing old New York City, a copy of their new album, the band's complete catalog, or even a private house concert. Read the rest

Kickstarting a public radio-backed revival of Gothamist, a beloved site killed by an evil, union-hating Trumpist billionaire

Gothamist voted to unionize in late 2017; immediately thereafter, its new owner, the evil, Trump-supporting billionaire Joe Ricketts killed it and all its sister publications in a fit of petty revenge against the uppity laborers in word-mines; but then, in February, a consortium of public radio stations announced plans to revive the beloved site, backed by an anonymous donor and the sites' original founders. Read the rest

Lost 1924 film 'The City Without Jews' to get a timely re-release

Following a crowdfunded restoration, the film of Hugo Bettauer's eerily prescient novel will tour Europe again as anti-Semitism is on the rise. At the film's release, Bettauer was doxxed by local media and murdered by a young Nazi soon after. Read the rest

Kickstarting a print revival of Amazing Stories, the world's oldest sf magazine

Ira Nayman writes, "I'm the Managing Editor of Amazing Stories, which was the first true science fiction magazine (Hugo Gernsback published the first issue in April, 1926; yes, the Hugo Awards were named after him). In its time, it published such luminaries of the genre as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, E. E. 'Doc' Smith and Arthur C. Clark, to name a few. Read the rest

Crowdfunding an official, licensed Scrabble mechanical keyboard

On the crowdfunding site Massdrop, board-game fan Cassidy Williams is taking preorders for a $160 Scrabble-themed mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches (if you've got a mechanical keyboard kicking around that you'd like to convert, you can get the $47 keycap set instead). Read the rest

Crowdfunding to help West Virginia's striking teachers

West Virginia's public school teachers have walked out en masse in a wildcat strike, demanding an end to decades of real-terms wage cuts that have left them among the poorest-paid teachers in America, as well as skyrocketing health insurance costs. Read the rest

Clitter is glitter of sparkly vulvas, boobs and ovaries

Los Angeles-based artist Veronica Moonhill thought it was crazy that she and her girlfriends were celebrating dicks at her bachelorette party.

She writes:

There we were, a bunch of fabulous women speaking our truths and drinking wine, when I looked up and realized we were surrounded by dicks: penis straws, penis lollipops, pin the junk on the hunk and of course penis confetti. I thought, "Why are a bunch of powerful ladies sitting around celebrating dicks? That’s insane! It's time we started celebrating VAGINA's!"

I Googled it and was astonished. There was pretty much no vagina confetti, or vagina paraphernalia of any kind. So that night, surrounded by plastic penises and my favorite women, the idea for Clitter was born.

She describes her shiny little breasts, vulvas, and ovaries as "pussy powered confetti."

Clitter is available on Kickstarter (where it's already gone well past its goal).

(RED) Read the rest

The excellent Standards Manual design series announces next title

Standards Manual is one of the greatest recent projects in archival graphic design. Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth painstakingly recreate notable graphics standards manuals from NASA, the EPA, the American Bicentennial, and the New York Transit Authority. Next up is Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, an overview of the iconic design firm behind many logos still in use today. Read the rest

Crowdfunding Lupiga, a progressive, independent voice combating rising fascism in Croatia

Lupiga is a longrunning, much-loved independent news source in Croatia that is virtually single-handedly doing battle with the country's surging fascist movement; they're crowdfunding to continue operations. Read the rest

Patreon decides not to change fee structure: "We messed up"

Following a backlash against planned fee increases, Patreon is backing down. For now, everything will stay the way it is.

We’ve heard you loud and clear. We’re not going to rollout the changes to our payments system that we announced last week. We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans.

I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with creators, and so has the Patreon team. Your feedback has been crystal clear:

The new payments system disproportionately impacted $1 – $2 patrons. We have to build a better system for them.

Aggregation is highly-valued, and we underestimated that.

Fundamentally, creators should own the business decisions with their fans, not Patreon. We overstepped our bounds and injected ourselves into that relationship, against our core belief as a business.

Read the rest

Gawker alumni are crowdfunding to outbid Peter Thiel for control of Gawker's assets

Gawker was bankrupted by Peter Thiel, who secretly backed Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against the network of news, entertainment and gossip sites in an act of petty revenge. Read the rest

Kickstarting Pitch Deck: a party game that challenges you to make great pitches for terrible startups

Fred Benenson (previously) just quit his job to make weird internet stuff, something he excels at: his latest is Pitch Deck, a kickstarted card game that uses a madlibs/Cards Against Humanity-style mechanism to challenge you to come up with excellent pitches for terrible startups. Read the rest

Helping kids play with danger: crowdfunding a log-splitter, designed for children

Risky play is good for kids: it lets them test their boundaries in an exhilarating, vivid way -- and it's been all but entirely engineered out of contemporary child-rearing. Read the rest

Material culture, considered (harmful?)

Designer, maker and writer Hillary Predko's "Kipple Field Notes" is five short essays on the nature of stuff in the 21st century, its relationship to justice, the environment, cities, intergenerational strife, housing, and geopolitics. Read the rest

Patreon slammed after pitching fee hike as boon for creators

Update: Patreon changed its mind.

Patreon is to lower its percentage but apply a 35c fee to every transaction, according to a confusing announcement that's thrown the funding site's userbase into chaos. It sounds good for the platform's stars, but ruinous for creators dependent on dollar pledges.

The crowdfunding platform for artists currently takes a fee of 5% (creators also pay fees charged by payment processors like Stripe or PayPal) from each pledge. That changes on December 18, when patrons will start paying 2.9% plus 35 cents for each individual pledge, according to Patreon’s product update page.

Patreon says the reasoning behind its new policy is to let creators keep a larger cut of each pledge. “With this update, creators will now take home exactly 95% of each pledge with no additional fees,” the company explained on its update page.

The 95% applies after the transaction fee, and a lot of the confusion was over whether that thirty-five cents gets eaten by the recipient (who then would get only 60 cents or so) or stacked onto the donor's dollar (thereby making them pay $1.35 or so). The latter is reportedly the case, but either way, the only people benefiting are whoever gets those enormous transaction fees.

From one user: "Patreon has decided to blithely insult the collective intelligence of their clientele with happy talk."

If Patreon finally has to pass on the per-transaction fees that banks impose to its users, that would be understandable. Read the rest

The original legacy of Wendy and Richard Pini's ElfQuest

In this excerpt from Dark Horse Comics's 40th Anniversary Ashcan issue of ElfQuest, available today in comic stores, Hannah Means-Shannon explains how Wendy and Richard Pini showed indies the way in an age before crowdfunding.

Kickstarting an antifascist cyberpunk RPG

Game designer Chad Walker is crowdfunding his latest game: SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists, shooting for USD10,000 in pre-orders to produce "a cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game about ethical insurgency against a fascist regime, taking place in a dystopian vision of 1980's America." Read the rest

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