Wonder Stories.

I love what Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor of folklore and fairy tales, says about the latter: that they’re really misnamed. They should by right be called “Wonder Tales.” Because what they do is express our wonder at our inner landscape as humans, rather than our outer. Wonder Tales bring out to view what’s inside us all, which is (so it seems) an infinite amount of different ways of looking at ourselves and our world. But with some bedrock values that never change: the importance of partnering with Nature. The value of what appears to be worthless. The ability to change a life, or even a world, by taking action in the right way. The great reward of Love.

All those things. And all those things are filled with a sense of wonder, at wonder that we are here and living our own stories, which can be changed in ways we sometimes have yet to imagine.

There are a few Wonder Tales of this sort in the present issue. I’m not sure what I had in mind in naming it “This May Be The Last Time,” though I wasn’t imagining this would be the last issue…I had noted the many apocalyptic strains I keep seeing in stories that come to me, and pondering what that meant about how we’re seeing the world these days. Two stories in particular, by writers EAP always loves, were about this. As We Know It, by Erin Trampler Bell, is an active imagining of how our present world might dangerously come to an end through a well-meaning arrogance. Gulfs, by Tim Myers, murmurs how the story of our world would look to someone with a story from another.

Then there is One Wrong Step and You’ve Brought on the Last Days, by Ellen Morris Prewitt—the title says it all, I think.

And my favorite this month, from a new contributor to EAP, Psyche’s Sisters, by Ed Taylor. I’m always a sucker for pieces that take the old stories from a different point of view, and by doing that, point up the danger of a narrow reading of the world.

Wonder should expand, not narrow, especially in these days, don’t we think? Because, as Paul Simon so rightly sings, “These are the days of miracles and wonder/So don’t cry, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry.”

Okay then. I’ll look for more Wonder Tales in the FALL 2015: WE WONDER issue. Meanwhile, thanks to Robert Markland Smith this issue, for imagining Then Suddenly War Ended. And to Robin Suzanne for cooking up The Center of the Universe Omelet.

Welcome back.

 

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Spring and the Devil.

VERY appropriately, this issue, ‘The Devil You Know’, was pelted with poetry. Inundated. A tsunami of images came over the virtual transom, and it’s a tribute to our poetry editor Marissa Bell Toffoli (see her poem this month, ‘Garden of Unease’) that she caught them gracefully in her poetic catchers mitt while in the midst of creating her own…and, by the way, giving birth to her first child. That’s what we call poetry in motion.

Read the poems. No, I mean really READ them. The variety and lushness (and, in poet David Budbill’s case, the precious sparseness) will catch you from behind and lift you into spring. We’ve always been enthusiastic fans of the work of Charles S. Kraswekski, but ‘Down in the Station’ takes us past fandom and into a new way of looking at a world caught in a tightening circle. David Selzer’s ‘Exterminate the Brutes’ grabbed us by the throat and shook us. (Liverpool EAPers especially, take note…his look at Churchill will doubtless jibe with your own.) And Kirsten Rian’s ‘Migration’ soars, even as it sorrows.

There’s so much more, too. Of course, the prose. Both the excerpt from ‘Tales of the Devil’s Wife’ by Carmen Lau, and ‘The Broken Vessels’ by Ronnie Pontiac, are examples of the kind of modern fairy tale that EAP believes helps to change a tired story. Keep an eye on both of those authors; we’ll do what we can to cheer them on, though neither of them probably needs any help to get aloft.

And don’t forget to have a look at Brian Griffith’s ‘War Horses’, an excerpt from his upcoming book “Animal Wars.” The Devil we know is pretty close. That’s true, and it’s not a bad thing to realize it. In fact, it might be the first step to turning the Devil into…well. You know.

Welcome back.

(Postscript: You may have noticed the next issue’s subject: ‘This May Be the Last Time’. Aside from it being the pendant to the winter ‘Firsts’ issue, it kind of points to the fact that I think this part of the EAP experiment is nearing its end. It’s been a wild ride, and a fruitful one, and a lot of amazing work and relationships have come out of it—too many to mention here—so now it’s time to see what all that means, and which one of the forking paths upward to take next.

Stay tuned.)

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Firsts.

This issue of EAP: The Magazine features a memorial picture of Laika, the first dog sent into space, and we feel in solidarity with that dog, although a good deal luckier. We’re into celebrating Firsts, and fortunately for us, our reality is a bit more controllable than Laika’s was for him—i.e. no being shot into the atmosphere by people apparently sane, but secretly not: for who would be able to look a dog in the eye and send it off to a cold death who was fully in touch with their selves? If there’s one thing we believe in, it’s that there is no override switch for human feelings in favor of a Larger Good. There is no Larger Good, in our opinion, without the smaller, every day goods that happen to each living thing. And each unliving thing, too, come to think of it, though how you define the line that separates the two is beyond me.

So we here at EAP get to pick out our goals for ourselves, lucky us. Our booster engines having long dropped off and the course well charted straight ahead, we’re transiting into the next part of the journey. There are going to be a lot of firsts around here in 2015, and so many possibilities my head is spinning more than poor Laika’s was when he got launched around the world.

Unlike Laika, we can have a look at what we want to do and, even if our options are limited in an economic world increasingly bent on squeezing out the small provider of content, there are options. They do belong to us. And, as we always say around here: “You can do whatever you set out to do as long as you take reality into account.”

So. Taking reality into full account, we continue our experiment with the EAP publishing project this year, and expand its reach. The world of Arcadia, a world attempting to be made of everyday human good, has been more insistent, communicating with us ever more effectively, even frantically, since the days when it sent us that deceptively childish fairy tale, Snotty Saves the Day, and the YA story of Lily the Silent. Arcadian scientists have discovered a way to hand over more of their history…through a mirror. (I don’t know why we didn’t think of that before, probably because I don’t have enough time around here to look in mirrors much.) Coming soon: The Lizard Princess, a history of Sophia the Wise, the great queen of Arcadia, told by her, with a foreword by her granddaughter, Shanti Vale. After that, Aspern Grayling’s report on all aspects Arcadian, for the use of his imperial master’s security force, in Report to Megalopolis. There’s a whole world out there—actually, there are infinite worlds out there—but that’s the one that’s been given first to EAP to uncover.

(By the way, Mike Madrid fans should know Mike will be concentrating his considerable talents this year on illustrations for The History of Arcadia, making some history of his own in bringing pictures of that world to life.)

This year will also see our first experiment with bringing a book out in eFormat before paperback, and with plenty of interactivity as befits a book about gardening by a poet: Get a Rake, an alternative (and what an alternative!) look at growing, by Debbie Naples, with some of it excerpted most recently in the online magazine.

And we’re exploring a partnership with Beneath the Ink, a group that produces beautiful interactive eBooks. We’re pondering an edition of Alex Cox’s X Films complete with clips from his films, photographs from his archive, and other fair use materials sure to annoy the corporations that will claim we’re infringing their copyright, so alternative film buffs stay tuned for that.

In all of these adventures, we’ll be exploring our main universe: the universe of story, and how alternative story can and does change the world.

Poor Laika. He had to live by an old, old story. He was the first dog in space, and there’s a monument raised to him in Russia, and a postage stamp, and books written about him. He’s famous. He’s immortal. He’s dead. And I’ll bet you wouldn’t have traded places with him for anything.

I know I wouldn’t have.

Onward to a new year! Warm wishes to all who sail into her with hope and joy, and with control over their own choices and their own risks ahead.

Welcome back.1024px-Posta_Romana_-_1959_-_Laika_120_B

 

 

 

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We Love Enthusiasm…& If They Tell You People Don’t Read, They Lie, They Lie.

Pablo Kjolseth, this issue’s BEER & MOVIES guest editor, and John Adams, the talent behind the photo that illustrates it (and he did that one with one hand tied behind his back, probably while also cooking dinner and drinking a beer), are two of the most passionate people I know—passionate about beer and movies, especially. Now, I drink wine, and you know, for all my years in indie film, I would much rather stay home and read a book than head out for a film (except for “Singing in the Rain”), and yet…the enthusiasm of these guys for these subjects is contagious…and I do love the contagion of enthusiasm that comes from the heart. So thanks, everyone who participated in their issue, and if you’re in Boulder, Colorado, check out the International Film Series, at Muenzinger Hall, on the CU Boulder campus, because there’s always something fascinating going on there. You’ll almost always see Pablo there, making sure everything is as it should be. And you’ll definitely see John, sitting front and center, first row, in his favorite seat. You might even see me, even it’s NOT “Singing in the Rain” night. Because Pablo is well aware of my tastes, and if he tells me I’m going to be enthralled by some film that he’s programmed, I know he’s always right. And he programs some enthralling films. Thanks for that, Pab.

Speaking of enthusiasm, and how much I love it wherever I find it, I do have to share a conversation I had while driving across the country from Oregon to Boulder. The dog and I like to stay at this one kind of down-home casino in Sparks, Nevada, right across from a vast manmade lake that features a dog park. It’s comfortable and inexpensive, two things anyone who reads the JAM TODAY books knows is halfway to my Holy Grail, and its many restaurants are nice and friendly. I like the coffee shop the best. It’s filled with lots of locals (especially viewed on one memorable Mother’s Day when I happened to be passing through), and everyone who works there is always in a good mood.

So this time, when I was paying my check, the cashier, a lovely young man of, I would judge, not more than twenty years, noticed I was carrying a book. Louis Armstrong’s memoirs, in fact, “Satchmo.” The cashier, whose nametag said he was “Adrian” said, “Is that a good book?” I said it was, we got into a conversation about it, because of course, being somewhere around twenty, Adrian had never heard of the great man.

Then I said, “Do you like to read?” He lit up and nodded. “What are you reading now?”

“Well,” he said, looking around to make sure there was no one behind me in line (and lucky for me there wasn’t). “I’m reading this book called ‘The Prince’ by a guy named Machiavelli. Ever heard of that?”

Oh yeah. Now I’m interested. “What do you think of it?”

“Man, I’m really into it. I was going to go to the library and get a copy out, but I started reading it on my phone, and I just can’t stop.”

“Do you like libraries?”

“Oh yeah! I go to ours all the time!”

I said, “Libraries forever, Adrian!” And we fist bumped. I walked out of there, well fed in all sorts of ways, and I thought you librarians especially should know that if they tell you there’s no enthusiasm among the young for those musty old books, they lie, they lie.

Happy autumn, All, and welcome back.

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Stories, Delivered.

One of the great pleasures–and also one of the great pains–of being the editorial director of Exterminating Angel Press is getting to read the amazing work coming out of like minds everywhere…the pleasure is obvious, the pain comes from not being able to publish everything we love. The online magazine, of course, is great for that. We can support any books there, and give a little extra breeze for their sails as they head out onto that uncertain sea.

When they find port, no one is happier than us. And we like to spread the word. Books like Ken Womack’s novel Playing the Angel, and Ralph Dartford’s beautiful Cigarettes, Beer & Love among many others (but both of those I have a particular soft spot for, as who wouldn’t who read them?).

And then there’s Hannah, Delivered, by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. The story of a woman who delivers her true self in learning to deliver the children of others is not just a lovely, sometimes wrenching but always hopeful, tale, it looks at the world surrounding it and tilts the vision to a better one. That’s what EAP likes: tilting our everyday vision to a better one. Washing the windows of the culture, as it were. Making things a little clearer. What gets a little clearer in Hannah, Delivered is the importance of supporting every individual in their own autonomy, in their own birth. And it’s a great read. Have a look and see if I’m not right. See if you don’t love my favorite character: a man in a sarong who trains to be a midwife right along with the heroine. And why not? Why can’t men be as nurturing and caring as women? Why can’t we allow them that, in fiction as in all else?

No reason that I can see. Can you?

Meanwhile, in Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered land, I’m still on the road with a book tour, and will be at the wonderful, tremendous, beautiful Gallery Bookshop, on the headland in Mendocino, California, meeting and greeting on Sunday, July 27, from 2 pm to 4 pm. Love those meetings and greetings with foodlovers of like mind…

Cheers, All.

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Three Cheers for Guest Editors.

I’m quite enthusiastic about this guest editorship thing we have going on EAP: The Magazine. For those of you who’ve come in late, when we did our Indiegogo funding push, one of the surprisingly popular perks was said editorship. This issue is our second, with one more to go, and both so far have been unmitigated pleasure for the host editor (ie me).

Aside from the fact that Ken Womack, and Kate and Mark Tallman, are all affable, curious, and highly literary, there was a small surprise hidden in each collaboration.

Backing up, let me mention again the rather odd way EAP works. We’re a trade publisher, distributed, both domestically and internationally, by the wonderful Consortium Book Sales (cbsd.com). But we don’t just take manuscripts over the virtual transom, as I seem to never tire of politely telling writers and agents of said manuscripts: we develop relationships. We’re looking for like-minded writers, people who are passionate about their subject, whatever that might be…and whose subject is some aspect of our main question: why is our cultural default setting the one it is? What would happen if it were different? What would happen if we stepped outside of the seemingly endless circle we are socially churning in, the one that says the free market is the only motor a culture can have, the one that says someone’s always got to be on the top and someone always on the bottom, the one that says someone’s always got to win and someone’s always got to lose. That kind of thing.

We develop these relationships on the online magazine. We’re not just looking for the Next Best Thing…in fact, we have a great distrust of the Next Best Anything. We’re looking for serious but joyful, hard-working but playful, thoughtful but exuberant, creative but practical kinds of people. The ones, as EAP’s incredibly joyful, hard-working, and practical Creative Director Mike Madrid describes this way: “If you ask them which of the Seven Dwarves they most relate to, they always say ‘Doc’.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised when all our guest editors turned out to be ‘Doc’.

And so, no surprise, we’re exploring book ideas with all of them. With Ken Womack, a book about The Beatles, and all the unsung people and events that went in to making them the phenomenon they were (Ken, this year’s Penn State Laureate, is an expert on this; look for him speaking about it at a university campus near you). With Mark Tallman, whose work focuses on international security and disaster management, a book about the limits of what we can achieve in security…and why finding and acting on those limits could possibly be—could they?— a matter for celebration rather than fear.

I can’t wait to see what the collaboration with Pablo Kjolseth brings. Pablo runs the International Film Series at the University of Colorado Boulder, so naturally his chosen theme is “Beer & Movies.” Knowing Pablo, and how he seems to pack 48 hours of work into 24 already, I doubt we’ll come up with a book idea between us. But I know for sure we’ll have fun. And, as I pointed out recently to a very interesting writer whose book we, alas, could not afford to publish, “None of us is making any money, so we might as well consider ourselves free.” And free to have fun is one of the most creative positions I know.

So there.

(And MEANWHILE, speaking of my having fun, my second cookbook/memoir, Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered comes out in June, and I’ll be meandering around the west to different indie bookstores talking about food and sharing a glass of wine with interested parties. Our kick off is on publication day, Tuesday, June 10, at the wondrous Omnivore Books, in San Francisco, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Come by, say hi, have a glass, tell me what you’ve been eating lately. I really want to know.)

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Happy Everything…and Thank You…

A very merry and happy everything to everyone from EAP. As you can see from Mike Madrid’s droll photo on EAP: The Magazine, we’re heading into it with a twist and shout. And with this idea: that in order to get anything done, you have to risk looking a little dumb, taking a pratfall, or even two. Have we all got that? Good.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed so much support (and supportive messages) during our Indiegogo campaign. We were almost overwhelmed. But not quite. We can take it. Feel free to send more.

One of our key supporters was Ken Womack, author, professor, and present day Penn State Laureate. Ken is guest editor of this LIBERTY & LYRICS issue, and I had a delightful time exchanging correspondence with him about it.  We both were particularly taken with Boff Whalley’s contribution, “Anger is Energy.” Since Boff is one of the founding members of the anarchist punk rock group Chumbawamba, as well as one of the most energetically fun people I’ve ever met (the whole group is like that, come to think of it), he REALLY knows whereof he speaks.

And EAP’s favorite writing partnership, Marie Davis & Margaret Hultz, four hands with but a single voice, also supported our Indiegogo push, and asked for, as their perk, a phone call with me to talk over what was in their refrigerator and what they could make out of it for dinner. Well, they were humoring me. They really should be telling me what to eat. As you can see by what we did come up with in “Jam Today: Kentucky Curry.” A version of the same recipe will be in the new Jam Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered, coming in June 2014 to all the usual bricks and mortar, virtual, and electronic book habitats, but especially to indie bookstores near you.

We’ve got two more guest editor issues coming up, Spring 2014 will be hosted by Kate Tallman and Mark Tallman, one a librarian and the other a political science professor, who recently were flooded out of their canyon home in the great Boulder flood of 2013. So it’s probably not a suprise that the theme they’ve chosen is “Disasters: Natural and Un.” We’ve already had quite a few great contributions on that theme, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Then, the Fall 2014 issue will be guest editored by the ineffable, inestimable, incredible Pablo Kjolseth, who runs the International Film Series at CU Boulder practically single handedly. How he has time to interact with us, I’ll never know. He’s pondering his theme even as we speak, but last I heard, he was leaning toward one that showcases two of his favorite things: Beer and Movies. He is probably also trying to work Cats in there, but as of press time that’s still undecided.

Welcome back, and, it bears repeating: a safe, sane, creative, joyous 2014 to all reading this, and to all you love, too.

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Two Encounters

I’m stuck in Ely, Nevada–giant unforeseen snowstorm rose up and blocked the highway west, where I’m heading–although ‘stuck’ is the wrong verb; I’ve always really liked Ely. I highly recommend the La Quinta here, especially if you’re traveling with dogs. And then it’s right next door fro a 24 hour market, in the same parking lot, actually, which is quite handy in a snowstorm. So while the lads at the hotel were digging out my parking space, I went over to the market to try to get some canned dog food, or ‘dog fast food’ as it’s known to my dogs, who really enjoy getting off their normal diet of Tod made stodge once in awhile.

I looked at the dog food on the shelves, and automatically checked the ingredients. Needless to say, they were a mess. No kind of meat was ever the first ingredient, unless it was the ominously named ‘Chicken By Products.’ There was this long list of gluten and corn and etc., all of which was undoubtedly of GMO origin. And then a whole bunch of words I didn’t have the faintest idea what they meant.

Ominous, like I said.

I was going to get  a couple of cans, why not? I thought. The same as eating at a Burger King along the road. But something stopped me. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought about the dogs’ normal diet, of a mix of dried food and the Dog Stodge I make from our household vegetable peelings, oatmeal, and whatever is the cheapest decent looking meat on offer (our local butcher makes up packages of ground misc. meat from their cuts, beef, lamb, game in season, all for 99 cents a pound, for which I am profoundly grateful). Their normal food is a lot cheaper, even if (or because) homemade, but that wasn’t the problem. I just couldn’t bring myself to feed them this crap, even for an emergency. So I had a brain wave. I went over to the canned soup/stew aisle to have a look for some human canned stew to give them.  Twice, even three times as expensive as the dog food,  I noticed when I got there. But just this once…

Then I looked at the ingredients. They were, if possible, about as revolting as the list on the dog food cans. And not so very often was the first ingredient listed as meat. There were a lot of by-products, and gluten, and undoubtedly GMO corn, and there was that list of chemicals I’d never heard of. I looked at this and I revolted against how revolting it was. I looked around at all the young families stocking up against the storm, and I thought, “I literally wouldn’t feed this to a dog.”

So my only recourse was to head over to the meat aisle, and eye the ground meat, picking out a package that would feed the dogs. While I was there, I got in a conversation with the butcher. In a low voice I told him what I was doing, and he, looking around him to make sure no one was listening, said, “That’s all right to give them; it’s pretty clean stuff.”

He told me he used to own his own butcher shop in Reno, and he told me it just got too hard to keep it going, people didn’t appreciate what they had. We talked about how young people were thankfully getting back into butchering, and small lots of humanely raised meat, and knowing where the meat was coming from, and he looked around his shoulder again and muttered, “Part of the problem is you can’t sell all the parts of the animal, not legally.” I said (equally low in voice) that again thankfully there were beginning to be informal chains of distribution for that kind of thing, and more activism. He said, “And we gotta educate people about what they’re eating, how there’s great stuff if they’d only give up bad habits, and about how they can be eating better for less money.” And I agreed.

We parted with expressions of mutual esteem, and that warmed me, which was good because I saw a young mother, holding her well wrapped up baby, struggling to figure out what to buy from shelves and shelves of crap, and I just wanted to weep.

That was the first encounter.

The second actually had happened awhile ago, when I was heading into Minneapolis for a sales conference, and hurried, at the airport, to get into the people mover that takes you to the light rail into town. I just made it before the doors closed, jumping on behind a young black man, just a kid I thought at first look, and we both laughed about having just made it, and he said, “Man, I want to get out of here, I just got off my shift, been here since 5 am.” Where do you work? “Chick Fil-A, over in the terminal. 5 am to 1 pm. I used to work 1 pm to 10 pm, but I got two kids, and I never saw them. This way I’m home after they have lunch, and we can have time together.”

I wish now that I’d said what I wanted to. At the time, I choked it back, it seemed so patronizing to me. What I wanted to say was, “Your kids must be so proud of you.”

What’s that got to do with books, you’re thinking if you’re still with me this far. Maybe she should have put this in the cooking blog. But I’ll tell you what it’s got to do with books. Books are our collective memory of what has been, and what can be. Books, at their best, keep alive, at very low cost, in a very effective technology, the idea that we are a community, a web, and that what is done to the least of us is done to all of us (and who said that? oh, yeah…he said a lot of good things, I read it in a book somewhere…).

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Why There Are No Postmenopausal Superheroines.

The Mountains and Plains Indie Booksellers Tradeshow was last week, in Denver, and, as in years past, I joined our fantastic western sales rep, Dory Dutton, at her table (she reps everything from Tuttle origami books to Lonely Planet guides…and a lot of other stuff in between, so we were an eclectic bunch), joined by another Consortium distributed press Torrey House Press, and three of their new authors. A raucous time was had by all. And I do mean All…I’ve been going to this for three years now, and this time there was a kind of fizz and sparkle going on that was everywhere remarked. (“Do we have a better spot this year? Is it the good canapes?” “No! It’s just everyone is happier and more energized, how did this happen?” ” Don’t ask, just enjoy it!”) The place was hopping. New bookstores had apparently sprouted overnight, young volunteers looked up at us with shining faces and admitted they loved books more than food, booksellers talked seriously about how they adored getting the right books into the right hands…it was a party.

I kept swapping hats between being the publisher of Exterminating Angel Press, and the writer of JAM TODAY and the soon to come JAM TODAY TOO, sometimes balancing both hats atop the head, sometimes doffing both of them to the hard working Torrey House authors next to me. Torrey House specializes in literary fiction and creative nonfiction that exemplify a love of the west and its environment, and judging from their authors, we might be running out of water in the west, but we aren’t short on charm. Scott Graham, who wrote the Grand Canyon set mystery CANYON SACRIFICE, Charlie Quimby of the already much talked about novel MONUMENT ROAD, and Kayann Short…who not only wrote A BUSHEL’S WORTH, but lives the life on a ten acre farm saved from urban sprawl just north of Boulder, where I write this. She and John, her husband, are examples of what I think of as the New American Culture–educated, cultivated people who live and feel deeply in and about rural areas. There are so many examples of this in my home base of Colestin Valley, Oregon (and I write about them in JAM TODAY TOO), and so many people like this coming up with new ways of being and seeing, and new stories to tell. The capital cities no longer hold a monopoly on our cultural story–and a good thing too. The prairie mustangs have a thing or two (or three) to teach the thoroughbreds about survival. And it’s those kinds of lessons about self-reliance, and about the necessity of self-knowledge, that we all need to learn over and over again.

And then there were the booksellers. It’s always a kind of bliss to hang out with indie booksellers (and librarians, but that’s another story). Imagine my extra added delight at discovering a place in Denver (just down the road! yes!) called BookBar that combines, yes, that’s right, wait for it, A BOOKSTORE WITH A WINE BAR. I just looked at the two owners who stood smiling in front of me and gasped, “Oh my, I am so THERE.” I signed two copies of JAM TODAY for them, and they told me they had a kitchen in the store, and did I want to come cook there? DID I? What does anyone who knows me think? I said, “If you have a kitchen and wine, I have garlic and olive oil.” We shook hands on it then and there. I’m going to entice a Denver friend or two into an exploratory foray there, but I’m already thinking it’s THE place to launch a JAM TODAY TOO tour out of come next year when the book comes out.

That was the author hat. As the publisher, I got into conversation with a bookseller from Tattered Cover, the venerable and beloved Denver bookstore. We agreed the whole point was getting books into the hands of the people who love them, and I showed him a copy of Mike Madrid’s DIVAS, DAMES & DAREDEVILS (which comes out tomorrow, as I write this), as a book that I love to hand over to readers and watch their faces light up as they pore over the pages of reproduced comics of the Golden Age. “There’s even a postmenopausal superheroine,” I told him. And he laughed. “People always laugh when I say that. So then I say: Why are you laughing? Why can’t we have a postmenopausal superheroine?”

“I know why,” he said. “Because superheroes have to have a flaw. And postmenopausal women HAVE no flaws.”

Is it any wonder I love indie booksellers? Mark of Tattered Cover, you I love IN PARTICULAR.

 

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We’re All in it Together.

No mere slogan, that. Physical fact, biological fact, even though our cultural default setting has it the opposite: the lie that life is the war of all against all. How did that lie get started? As usual, as a truth that outlived its use. Somewhere back in our collective history it became a better bet to ignore the fact of our interdependence (and not just between humans, but between all of nature, too) and concentrate on the individual units and how they’re different from each other. And somewhere back there we got the idea (which probably saved us from being eaten by wolves or something), that to compete as separate units, somebody rising at someone else’s fall, was a good way to keep the system moving forward. Maybe that was a good idea for a few thousand years or so.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea now.

How many of us think that’s a good idea now? I mean, given the cliff we look to be moving toward?

And yet, it stays as our default setting. Someone’s got to be on top, someone’s got to be on the bottom. Survival of the fittest. Those who have deserve more than those who don’t. Unrestrained competition leads to healthy growth (hah!). Self interest is the only true motivator.

All just one way of looking at things: mutable, fallible, and, more important, as a way to organize our mutual lives, just not working anymore.

How often do we have to repeat our mistakes before we learn from them? Or are we just waiting for Nature to rearrange our stories by force?

Here’s another way to look at things, another story to tell about ourselves:

Everyone has a stake in making a better world. All different kinds of humans and human thoughts/feelings are needed to make that world, not just a small slice of human possibility. Everyone deserves to make a living, nobody deserves to make a killing. Healthy competition is situational and leads to joy; unrestrained competition leads to cancerous growth. Self interest is too narrow a principle on which to build a world, unless there is an understanding that true self interest includes the interest of all.

That’s what this issue of EAP: The Magazine, is about. Playfully as always, because there is nothing more serious than a playful dance between new and old ideas.  The Death of Dumnorix, a beautifully poignant poem by Charles Kraszewski, inspired the topic—you’ll see why if you spend a few moments alone with it. And there’s everything else, in a multicolored jumble of contributions, from a reverse repeat of one sex dominating the other, to the yearning of a woman to be free of being (literally) burned over and over, to the sadness of the repetition of being treated like an object…how being treated like an object makes a subject treat others as an object, and isn’t it about time that cycle was broken?

Welcome back to EAP: The Magazine. And while we’re at it, I just want to mention a perfect little book sent to me by a sometime EAP author, Ralph Dartford: Cigarettes, Beer and Love. A hand made volume of poems. This is a collaboration between various artists, and the book design, as well as the oddly compelling poetry it dances with, show they spring from the same ideas as EAP: A love of creativity for its own sake. A joy in making beautiful things and sharing them. A belief in new voices, talking—singing—on the margins of an increasingly monolithic monoculture. A trust that it’s from these voices that new ideas spring. A belief in Spring, in the possiblities of rebirth. It’s not an EAP book, and I (and EAP) had nothing to do with its making or its distribution, but I had to mention it here since…well, not only since we share the beliefs of the artists who made it, but because we’re all in this together.  Look for it on Etsy; it’s a beautiful thing, in conception and execution, too.

And speaking of all being in it together, wholehearted thanks to everyone who has contributed to our Indiegogo campaign. It’s not hyperbole to say that we can’t do it without you. I hope the individual messages I’ve been sending to contributors convey that feeling enough. If you haven’t yet contributed, please do think about doing so, even with just $5. Especially with just $5. We feel the support behind every contribution, and it’s that support that is as necessary to survival as the actual cash.

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