Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's HERE!!!!!! ObMag #5 is on the Street

Sympathy for the Spaceman

Why the moon base may be the least-crazy thing Newt talked about this week

We are not so different, Newt Gingrich and I. On the surface, perhaps we don't have so much in common. I am a chronically broke publisher of an underground newspaper who hangs drywall for a living. He is a clinical sociopath on a quest for Fuhrerdom over the Amerikan Homeland. But underneath it all, we are just a couple of sci-fi geeks with a penchant for post-apocalyptic fantasy and a disturbing lack of regard for societal norms.

Both Newt and I grew up consuming science fiction. We both believed in the promise that man would explore the stars in the 21st century. I would bet that Newt, like I, as a boy dreamt of doing laps around gravity ring of a donut-shaped space station and planting the stars and stripes on Martian surface.

Now, Newt has trotted out his boyhood dreams in the run up to the Florida primary in what is seen by many as a cynical ploy for votes on the economically devastated 'space coast.” Critics in both parties are crying out against Newt's promise of colonizing the moon in times when U.S. workers are worried enough about outsourcing of jobs to China without worrying about losing work to the moon.

Honestly though, for politicians and businesses who are still clinging to the concept of the “growth” model of economics, Newt may not be the crazy one. As we have seen, the idea that growth can be sustained by creating wealth out of thin air with alchemical “financial instruments” has proven to be a fallacy. Real "economic growth", 50's, 60's style growth, is dependent on humans tapping into new territories, physically expanding to tap into new resources. Either we "grow" off the planet, or we shrink.  We can't have it both ways.

On last night's “Rock Center” onNBC, Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed Newt's plan with host Brian Williams. Tyson stated that “we have SO stopped thinking about tomorrow” (sorry Fleetwood Mac) and says of Newt's plan “...it's very reachable scientifically...but now people just think about surviving the day.”

Newt also understands the flip-side of sci-fi's message. If we do not expand into space, earth will undoubtedly become a dystopian hellscape, populated by leather-clad mutants and zombies. Newt is, despite recent attempts to downplay it, a believer in climate change and he knows where we are headed, id we don't reverse humanity's cancerous growth. He understands the downside so well, in fact, that he has worked for years co-authoring books with William Forstchen, a Montreat College professor of history and writer of apocalyptic pot-boilers. In the foreword to Mr. Forstchens latest novel, “One Second After” Newt speaks earnestly of the the role of sci-fi authors- from Wells to Orwell- as harbingers of things to come. He also writes extensively of the dangers of EMPs- Electo Magnetic Pulse weapons. But that's a topic for another day.
Still, as Floridians go to the polls in what is predicted to be the end of Newt's 15 minutes as republican loon-du-jour, I can only hope that, as Newt returns to the Fox News green room to lick his wounds, somehow, maybe his crackpot message about the importance of the space program lives on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: East of Bowery

Issue #5 of OBSOLETE! was so jam-packed that we had to leave out the reviews page this time-  I'll be periodically posting those reviews here. Please consider scoring a hard copy of the new issue- it's our biggest yet...

 East of Bowery
Text by Drew Hubner, photos by Ted Barron

“ In those days, New York City was absolutely lousy with people who had come to the big city to become writers.”

So begins “No Rio”, the fourth chapter of East of Bowery, by Drew Hubner at Ted Barron. Hubner and Barron tell the story, through short vignettes and photographs, of the late 80's Lo-Ea-sider everyman- a dope-shooting writer who moves from bar to squat to dope spot to poetry reading to NA meeting, on the black and white streets familiar to anyone lucky enough to have experienced those twilight days of New York downtown greatness. It's all in there- Save the Robots, The Circle bar, The “Hat”, Sophie's, the Gas Station, The International, the Zoo Bar. PS 122, ABC No Rio, Max Fish, Angelica's, The Parkside, Blue and Gold, Mona's.... The Tompkins Square riot, Clayton Paterson, Adam Purple...

The project began as a web collaborative between writer Hubner and photographer Barron, and has now been published in book form by Sensitive Skin (which has itself grown from 80's East Village zine to webzine and now publishing house).

Hubner's writing is visually rich and his storytelling tight. “The imagery of physical things will carry whatever sort of lies you can think up”, his protagonist states at one point, and it works for Hubner in this case- in his bio he claims that the stories are total fiction, but they read as utterly believable memoirs. The voice of the time and the place is present, but despite the junkie theme, he's not “doing” Jim Carol. He has the perspective of someone looking back, without glorification. He tells the story of one of those who came from the outside, (in this case Raleigh) rode high in the pre-hipster days, and then crashed hard into the wall of addiction.

Barron's photos are wonderful artifacts of the time- images of the Lower East Side that is no more. They are beautifully composed, but they stop time so effectively that the have the feel of a tourists snapshots. Instead of the Empire State Building or Times Square, they are of the intersection across from the Gem Spa, children with a toy gun next to a Dinkins era police cruiser, a cat on a shooting gallery rooftop. If I have any complaint about this book, it is that I would have like to see more of Barron's photos, and in a larger format. Luckily, there are more available on their blog, http://eastofbowery.blogspot.com/.

Hubner and Barron have done a great job of capturing a moment in time- those last days before Giuliani changed New York forever, when art lived with the poor, not in the sanitized world of internet marketing. Before digital media brought everything to everyone, when mutant culture still eddied in artistic backwaters, high, nodding, un-tweeted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

OBSOLETE! #5 goes to Press

At long last! Issue #5 is going to press. Click the links below to preview the cover, table of contents and introduction.

This issue is our biggest yet, with more essays, fiction, poetry and artwork than ever before. It includes work by Bob Pfeifer, Spike Vrusho, Diana “The Doc” Thomas, City of Strangers, Cheryl Ammeter, Lenny Zenith, Michael X. Rose,Karim Hetherington, Chuck Miller, Chris Schipper and Walter Sun Chien, and more.

Please help keep the underground press alive by ordering your copy today!! You can order copies at the right of the page.
 Cover: Larger View
 Table of Contents: Larger View
Intro Page: Larger View


 From OBSOLETE! contributor Shane Bugbee's blog...

ok, the SOPA deal...

seems like a distraction, an intentional distraction devised by the powers that be.

the real issue is the NDAA bill... and yet, we the Internet e-people have embarrassed the sopa cause over the larger and much more important issue - the attack on OUR bill of rights.

I'm thinking the USA has already been bought and sold... I mean, think about it... these NEW laws are real similar to the laws the chinese folks must follow. coincidence that we borrow a shit ton of cash from these folks and out of nowhere we have these fucked up bills being pushed down our throats...
read the entire commentary at Shane's blog, the Nonsensical World of Shane Bugbee