Monday, March 3, 2014

Some Nice Comments

The most recent zine (at least the personal one) is all out there in the world. Slowly but surely I’m starting to hear what people have to say about the thing. As usual, I’m hearing a lot from folks far off from me, folks that I don’t know much about, folks that I don’t know personally. I still haven’t figured out how to get friends to read these things? Well, some of them read it but more often than not I ask them about it, and they forget they’ve received it. To be honest the whole things is kind of a homework assignment. Asking someone who doesn’t read that much to read 30,000 words is going to be a task no matter who writes the words. Now I’m just bitching. I randomly sent a few zines to IUOMA people who didn’t ask for the thing. I figured why not? One of them I sent to a mail-art confidant in Brooklyn, M. Williams. A little later as I was looking for images of my mail art (I’m embarrassed I do this, but I do) I found a rather lengthy review from her. I was so blown away and surprised that someone would take the time to do such a thing, I’ve posted her work here, in quotations marks, with a small comment from me. It was so nice of her to take the time to not only read the thing but write about it, so I’ll write about what she wrote, writing about what I wrote.
Her work is in quotation marks. Check her out at http://walkingeyeball.blogspot.com/
This Is Not A Fugazi T-Shirt: Sad Jokes #7 by Jon Foster.
“Today's book recently read isn't exactly a "book," it's a 'zine written by teacher, musician, artist, and writer Jon Foster. It is the result of his participation in National Novel Writing Month, an event that takes place every November during which writers pledge themselves to produce 50,000 words in one month. The idea is to overpower your internal censor, hurdle over your writer's block, and let your fingers make a mad dash for freedom across the keyboard. Typically, writers are looking for a rough draft of something that they can later rework into a finished novel. As if the world isn't already over it's eyebrows in novels. Jon Foster, thank god, had something else in mind.”
“With a sovereign disdain for practical activity, Foster writes, "I like the process of typing even though I do very little editing. I imagine I'll go through this behemoth maybe once, do some corrections, and then move on. There's no ambition, just an outlet to make something and then hope someone out there in the world will actually read it...In our digital age there are no gatekeepers, no one keeping you from expressing yourself in any way possible. I've got Microsoft Word, internet access, a large book of addresses, and an industrial copier, so someone is going to be subjected to my ramblings about taking weird shits and noisy metal records. It's just fun."
Most of my collegiate career I spent properly citing outside sources. Never before have I been quoted in a paper. Just this morning I was trying to reach some of my students how to properly work in quotations and there I am, just above, quoted. I like that she’s seized on the idea of “ambition” or the idea just to create, which is exactly the intention with all of the things I make. I want to make a thing so I make a thing. If someone can enjoy that thing then I’m happy.
“What? I put aside Virginia Woolf for this? For fifty thousand words about weird shits and noisy metal records? Of course I didn't. For one thing, Foster never makes it to 50,000 words. For another, his facetiousness and flatulence aside, Fugazi T-shirt is about more than headbanging and fart jokes.”
I feel a little guilty that I would keep someone from reading Woolf. The inner teacher in me wants to tell her, “Hey, go ahead and read Woolf, come back to the other.” I do write about farting way too much, I need to fix this a little, write less about it. Nah, farts are funny now and they’ll always be funny.
“What is it about? It's about Foster's rather ordinary life as a human being here on earth. In his case, that means his work as a teacher, his relationship with his lover Misty, his love of music and art and thrift stores. It's about his observations and opinions on topics random and ridiculous. There are episodic flash fiction pieces in response to various absurd writing prompts: what happens when Foster wakes up wearing a pink wig beside Hillary Clinton or is invited by rock star Abe Lincoln to have lunch at his beach mansion in the Hamptons?”
I would like to write that Misty loved being called “lover.” Looking at her description of my interests I look pretty crazy.
“We learn various facts about Jon Foster that we probably didn't need to know, like "Sometimes I like the smell of earwax" or "I feel like a loser when I reach into a box of assorted popsicles and end up with a grape one." But knowledge doesn't always have to be utilitarian. Just think of algebra, as Foster does at one point in his verbal peregrinations (He hates it, doesn't get the point of it; neither do I). Then there are other equally useless facts that will surely stick with me for the rest of my life. How can anyone, for instance, ever forget the shock they experienced upon learning that robotic actor Dolph Lundgren, who practically makes Schwarzenegger sound suave as Cary Grant, was a Rhodes Scholar? "He could have moved the world forward with his genius," Foster observes, "but instead he decided to use his mind by memorizing the dialogue for Universal Soldier."’
And more random connections from my brain out of context continue my feelings of being crazy. These are the things I think of and without much context they do seem strange even from me, and I wrote the thing.
“And every so often there is an anecdote so quirky, sweet, and touching that it leaves you thinking you'd probably like to know Jon Foster personally: "Someone's been leaving these little messages on broken chairs. The first one I saw was simple and direct, 'Broken." Nothing more to write, I loved it...I decided to make my own sign and put it on a fully functioning chair. My sign was 'Sad Chair.' I really wish I could see people's reaction when greeting mysign. I think I'm going to continue doing this for a while and see if anyone notices."’
“One of the delights of a text like "This is Not a Fugazi T-Shirt" is that you have no idea what's coming at you next. Stream of consciousness writing—and who'd ever think that Jon Foster and Virginia Woolf could have anything in common—can be tedious or exciting: it all depends on the consciousness that you're streaming. Foster admits at the start that he will fall about 20,000 words short of the 50,000 word goal, but he's also already confessed to not being a particularly goal-oriented person. Besides, he concludes, "no way anyone would actually read through 50,000 words of this sort of garbage anyway." He may be right. Be that as it may, I did read 30,000 words in less than 24 hours and as Jon says, "if you read all of this then good for you, you've probably learned a lot." I did. But exactly what I learned, I couldn't say. And that's part of the genius of Jon Foster and his wonderfully wacky 'zine.”

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