Scene & Herd - Which word is correct?
Palooza or polooza?
Last weekend, two friends asked me during casual conversations what events I was planning on covering for this column. When I mentioned Zine-A-Polooza, they both got really excited, thinking that I was going to a "Xena: Warrior Princess" fan gathering.
They were both disappointed when I explained that the "Zine" in Zine-A-Polooza refers to the small-circulation, independent publications that people my age (Aug. 4 is my 32nd birthday!) devoured in the late '80s and early '90s as the best pre-World Wide Web-way of keeping up with obscure interests and hobbies. (As long as I'm parenthetically revealing personal info, I'll go ahead and tell you that my favorite zine was the Little Express, the long-defunct Canadian fanzine devoted to the English rock band XTC).</
I, however, was not disappointed. I was curious to see how zines are surviving in an era when the Internet has made it possible for all 80 members of the Atlanta Insane Clown Posse Meetup Group to instantly share information and communicate without even having to walk as far as their mailboxes. So, on Sunday afternoon, I drove up to the Winfield Hall banquet facility in Duluth to peruse the polooza.</
I walked in just as the panel discussion titled "DIYDistro & Marketing" was getting started. There was nothing earth-shatteringly revelatory about the talk. The panelists emphasized the obvious: Make a good-looking zine with interesting content and then take it door-to-door to every bookstore and record store you can. Jack Saunders, who is at least 20 or 30 years older than anyone else who was on the panel, suggested distribution via a grassroots flattery campaign — namely walking up to people and telling them they look like the sort of person who enjoys reading interesting things.
Saunders is the author and publisher of countless books, pamphlets and zines. While he sat on the panel, his wife, Brenda, sat at his display table. After I introduced myself, she gave me a copy of her husband's short book titled Root Doctor. "It went platinum," she boasted. "How many copies has it sold?" I asked. "Over 750," she said. "That's a lot for a self-published book." It's more than a lot. It's platinum.</
Before sitting down to watch a documentary called "Surviving as an Independent Artist" (I enjoyed it, but it was more of a pep talk than a practical guide), I had a long talk with local illustrator Sam Rivera. Rivera and some of his friends are illustrators in a local collective called Neogate. Their primary creation is a comic book called Animus. The title character battles demons and bullies using the powers given to him by a special pair of gloves. After showing me some Animus mock-ups, Rivera showed me his personal work and shared some of his story ideas. He's one of those rare adults who can pull off being almost evangelically boastful about his own work without ever seeming personally pompous or off-putting. One of his story ideas, titled "Treasures of Deep Slumber," is such an original take on the superhero/good vs. evil template that I've decided not summarize it lest someone try to steal it.
Dad's Basement: The Basement Theatre in Buckhead is among the newest additions to Atlanta's thriving improv theater scene. Its locally unique addition to the genre (at least I think no one else around here does it) is the Friday show called Cineprov!</
Cineprov! is a live improv version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the great '80s and '90s Sci-Fi Channel series that would show spectacularly awful old B-movies complemented by updated smart-assed commentary from the show's hosts, who were depicted as silhouettes in the audience. Friday's Cineprov! featured an incoherent 1950s sci-fi short called Appointment on Mars and an equally ridiculous Vincent Price feature called House on Haunted Hill. The live commentary was typically funny, though it veered off now and then, particularly when the sheer stupidity of both films would overwhelm the performers.</
Waterville: On Saturday, I confronted the rain like a real man and decided to cover the largely outdoor Taste of East Atlanta food festival. The eating was indoors, but since John Portman hasn't yet built hamster-tubes connecting East Atlanta's restaurants like he did downtown, patrons had to walk through the rain to get to the restaurants.
I started off with delicious salmon tempura maki from Thai East Atlanta. Next stop was the Australian Bakery for "Party Quiche" and a Lamington (a coconut sponge cake). Sadly, the friendly Australian guy who gets really annoyed when he talks about the faux-Aussie Outback Steakhouse was not working. Next was a slice of mushroom pizza at Grant Central, a great salad and Sardinian flat bread at Iris, and finally, an Old Specked Hen beer at East Side Lounge, during which the Earthshaking Music Percussion Band percussed up a storm.</
Post No Bills: There's an art gallery in the SunTrust tower, where they display all kinds of graphic art. It's called MODA, M-O-D-A. Muh-muh-muh-muh MODA.</
Sorry about that. Ever since I saw that the Museum of Design Atlanta is called MODA, I've had the "Weird" Al version of the Kinks' "Lola" in my head.</
On Saturday afternoon, I ducked out of the rain for a few minutes to check out the gallery's Graphic Noise show. The show features dozens (possibly hundreds, I forgot to ask) of concert promo posters. Not the kind made by record companies — these are commissioned by local venues from local graphic artists.</
The show featured work from all over the country, with Atlanta represented with work from Methane Studios. Among the standouts was a Warholian poster for the Strokes featuring the Empire State Building bent into a shape of an erect penis. And I laughed out loud when I looked at the poster advertising a show from Radiohead's Kid A Tour — not because of what was on it, but because of what wasn't. The artist filled the poster with Thom Yorke-ian gibberish without ever giving the date and location of the show. In other words, the poster was willfully, annoyingly and alluringly inscrutable, just like band.