Friday, July 28, 2006

UPDATE (07.28.06)—FilmLitFest, Wanted Book Reviewers, Virato Dude

FIRST OF ALL, I’d like to, again, thank those who came over to my humble abode for my 106th birthday last Sunday (July 23) – Linda Brown, Dale & Loretta Hoffman and kids Mikey & Lucynda, Clay Jensen and friend Sky, Matt Mulder and son Ashton, Marilyn, Marta, Gayle Sovinee, Rena Wright and hubby Charlie, Virato and partner Dhiraja. Thanks, as well, for the food and drinks and gifts and thoughtful bday cards.
Although this is not bunched with the birthday blessings, I’d like to thank Ms Janis Rose for loaning us her (other) new car. A perfect gift! Janis is Marta’s co-worker at Ingles. (She also housed us for few weeks after we left downtown in a huff last April—while we were scouting for a permanent abode.) Our “pimp van” is comfortably parked on her yard—yes, waiting for a buyer (a trade deal is welcome, as well).

SO TODAY (Friday, the 28th) is the first day of Bell Chere. No, I am not avoiding it—I never avoided it. In fact, I’d like to hang out for at least a day—and observe what’s going on in my community. Good, engaging stuff to write. I treat this episode like how I treat my journalism/writing gigs – to write about crime, I have to cover the police beat, to say shit about corporate mud, I have to plunge in. Bell Chere is a miniature of Manhattan; I don’t want to embrace the gilded, cellophane flesh but I often miss the blinding glare. So much for the metaphor... you know what I mean.
Me and Marta The Nicer Osbourne will be cruising the streets of Haywood, College, Patton, Walnut etc on Saturday, the 29th. I was invited by Virato to plug The Indie and Traveling Bonfires (he’ll be having a radio booth at Grapescape/Pack Square) but I’m not sure if I can make it there that “early. “
That night, I’m on Crooked Routes’ guest list at Westville Pub so we’ll culminate our Bell Chere dalliance with Vince Jr & friends’ cool, mountain music. I am also invited at The Wedge for the “RANT & RAVE - Phase III: UNIFY” show with local spoken artists, including Glenis Redmond and Washington DC-based Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency. (Thanks for the invite, Graham H and Shahid B of The Insurgency. I invited Shahid & company, who host me when I travel to DC, to drop by the house before they leave town.)
Meantime, Drum DeCirce of Peace Jones also phoned in an invite (check him out near Patton Av), and Jen Bowen sent in invite postcards and warm words—she will be culminating her digital art exhibition at Hookah Joe’s this weekend. Come drop by their shows... Steph Morgan and Stephanie’s Id are also playing.
Oh well, I can tolerate Bell Chere and other corporate/consumerist lunacies – I always do. But not when “unrealistic” jewel-shaking new downtown nouveau riche influence the course of cultural/creative life in a city that they just invaded. It’s good that their dubious move to “kill” the Friday Drum Circle at Pritchard Park didn’t fly. I will rant more about this in my Blue Sky/Smoke Signals column this mid-Aug. I don’t understand why they chose to live downtown and expect the peace&quiet of a mountain idyll. I mean, there’s The Cliffs and Mt Mitchell...


[ ] Anybody have time to review books for The Indie? Titles that I have here, laying so lazily on my desk: “Zoro’s Field” (essays) by Thomas Rain Crowe, “The Simultaneous Mountain” (essays) by Victor Depta, and “Under The Sun” (poetry volume) by Glenis Redmond. Thanks to their agents for sending me the books and manuscripts.
My apologies to Maria Lapachet (poetry volume, New York) and Alphonse Fazio (play/farce, Asheville) for not being able to get back to them about my reactions to their manuscripts. I have been such a slacker lately, but I’ll be emailing you in a few days... Thanks also to Jim Sullivan of South Bend, Indiana (first submission), and Michael H. Brownstein of Chicago (second) for their new contributions to Wander.

[ ] Don’t forget – The Bonfires’ fundraiser film screening of “Imelda,” the documentary about the shoe-obsessed former Philippine First Lady. The venue – Lord Auditorium of Pack Library, downtown Asheville. Date/time – Aug 10, Thurs, 5:30pm. $2 donation is suggested. Thanks to Kevin Innes for the provision of film projector. Ken Hanke, Mtn Xpress’ film critic, will be reviewing this Sundance-winning documentary in the magazine’s Aug 9 issue.I am seriously considering regularly showing multicultural films and documentaries at the Pack Library, starting with “Imelda.” Twice a month.

[ ] The first Vagrant Wind Independent Film & Literary Competitions kicks off this fall. This means that after I got deluded and tired of incessant bookings, we are dabbling with filmfests and literary contests for amateur auteurs and high school/college creative writers, respectively. The network reaches to Asia and Europe, apart from US coast-to-coast. For more details, check out --

[ ] The Traveling Bonfires’ small-&-medium entrepreneurship (crafts, woodcarvings, apparel, antiques etc) from the mountain city of Baguio in the north of the Philippines to Asheville – is slowly but surely shaping up. Expect new products/samples on our Sept and Oct booths at the Lex Av Fest and Organicfest. There is no way that we can properly finance The Indie and the other publications (including small book projects) if we don’t go to surefire ROI (return-of-investment) projects.

[ ] New ads to The Indie, Wander, Blue Sky: Virato Live/Revolution Radio (tradeoff), Three Brothers Restaurant (1/8th page). Most of our current advertisers also renewed their year-long ad contracts. (Salut to Marta The Nicer!) Meanwhile, we have also expanded our distribution to Black Mountain... We need more writers for Blue Sky (spirituality, religion, healing arts, healthy living) and Spanish-language contributors to all the magazines. (Marta negotiation persuasive power -- one-month credit line with Iwanna Printing Press.)
A little sidestory about my intro to/with Virato. Time—maybe four years ago, downtown Asheville. I arranged a marketing-related meeting with the bearded dude at Malaprop’s. Midway through our conversation, I noticed that the cafe/bookshop’s staff were kinda glancing at us with a really fishy glare. Then, Linda Knopp (Malaprop’s number two person) motioned for Virato; they chatted away from me. After a few minutes, Virato went back to our table and said, “Ah, do you know that I am banned from entering this bookstore again? But when I told Linda that I’ll be helping you with marketing of The Indie, they lifted the ban!” That pushed my ego up... Four years hence, The Indie’s valued spot at Malaprop’s feels like “a rose among a thousand other roses” (to evoke Exupery).

[ ] We will be having Traveling Bonfires/Loved by the Buffalo booths at the Organicfest on Sept 6, and Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival on Sept 10. We will be selling/breaking in crafts and stuff from the Philippines (I hope the first shipments arrive fast). Meantime, our Sunday benefit yard sale reconvenes on Aug 6. So feel free to drop your donated wares to 61 Dunwell Avenue.

SO THAT’S IT. On Sunday, I’ll be struggling with my own “book-projects” while I work on the magazines. Thanks for the “how-are-you” emails from Gaither Stewart (Rome, Italy), Mariko Shimada (Tokyo), Duane/Demi/Donna Pascua (Manila), Siobhan Clarke (Dublin, Ireland). Life is still a gift despite intermittent blues&funk. I just enjoyed chicken adobo, boiled white rice, and rumcoke. I still find cool treasures at Goodwill and Habitat like a turntable/phonograph for $10 and an old Royal typewriter for $1.50. I have restarted collecting hardbound books, long play vinyl records, and sunglasses.
As epilogue—book/DVD/CD/shows tips: (1) Book—“Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane, (2) DVDs—“Greenstreet Hooligans” (about London’s soccer thugs) and/or “Everything is Illuminating” (both films starring Elijah Wood), (3) CD—“The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt” (includes awesome covers of “Just One Look” and “Tracks of my Tears,” and my guilty pleasure, “Heart Like a Wheel”), (4) Shows—Wednesday evening gigs by my good friend Katie Kasben (Katie Kasben Trio) at Cafe by the Square in downtown Asheville. Don’t forget to request “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Begin the Beguine.”

SO AS EVER—live good, love good, and eat good food!
2:41am, Asheville NC

Sunday, July 09, 2006

UPDATE (07.08.06)--Indie Printing Schedule, Bonfires Cafe, 61 Dunwell Stories

... He carries poetry to the people
as simply and calmly
as a loaf of bread.
[Yevgeny Yevtushenko on Pablo Neruda]

AS EVER, my apologies for not being able to update one and all in the past few weeks. It has been a prolonged "reflective break" for me. First up (I guess, a good news), The Indie is up for printing -- as per Iwanna's (printer) schedule for the month -- either on July 17, 18 or 19. In case you deem it necessary to revise, change or update your respective articles (Mike Hopping, Gaither Stewart, Karen Helman, Linda Brown) and columns (Lady Passion, Debbie Metcalf, Benjamin Bernstein), let me know. This coming issue should be out on the third week of July, which means stories/articles apply to August timeline. Again, my apologies for the inconvenience.
Apart from the obvious funding/budgetary constraint, I had to focus/concentrate on a more pressing/practical concern -- my immigration status in the US. For the last four years, it has been a debate within my family circle in Manila and the West Coast whether I'd pursue (American) citizenship or not. So these days, that's where my mind is mostly concerned with. Until my Mother's death last year, I haven't really considered 100% to at least try to seek citizenship. Now, it's not just my Mom's passing that made me decide once and for all... While I'm not illegal, it has been very hard for me to smartly finance and professionally manage my projects in the US, esp. that I am far from my family support ssytem. Seeking citizenship means more money (mostly attorney's fees), more paperwork, more budget planning. I guess, that also explains why I prioritized spending to secure a permanent house in West Asheville under my name in the last three months in favor of paying up (magazine) printing back account and putting more time and money with Traveling Bonfires projects (like what we did in the last three or four years). Having a permanent residency in a US city where I generally contribute or carry out community work should help speed up my papers.
So these days, I seek more paying jobs instead of pursuing gig bookings and club fundraisers (that don't really return investments). Although I still plan to organize and produce shows (apart from "Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park"), I will be more entrepreneurial than idealistic/quixotic this time out. Moreoever, while the monthly park events keep us on "community map" (esp. at the time that the magazines "rested"), it also (at least) breaks even with expenses through tips and donations. There will be upcoming Bonfires projects, for sure (discussed below)... meantime, me and Marta The Nicer are available for any kind of side-job -- nanny work, babysitting, simple graphics work, housekeeping/cleaning, yardwork, tutorials etc.

MY VISIBILITY in downtown has diminished considerably as a result of my more "realistic/smarter" budget consciousness. It's hard to come check downtown Asheville out these days without spending. Chillin' in my house and hosting dinners with longtime friends are cool and less cost-oriented. I expect more friends to come for a visit and chat. Matt Mulder and family, Dale Hoffman and family, Linda Brown, Chris Malz, Jonah Goldwag, Chris Johnson, Steve (*Diuvei) Rasmussen, and new neighborhood friends Tammy Myers and Lynn Adkins, have individually dropped by, had dinner, and spent time here. Jim Cox and wife Paulette, Rena Wright, Bob Brown and wife Mollie also promised to come over one of these days. I also occasionally babysit Dale's kids -- Mikey and Lucynda.
It's family and I like it this way -- something that I couldn't freely do when I was on 70 Woodfin Place or 62B Lexington Avenue. So it's just 61 Dunwell Avenue and Haywood Road. We have two temporary summer sublet roomies -- Gayle Sovinee from San Diego and Jessica Ziegler from Chicago. Gayle has given up California for North Carolina -- right now, she's scouting for a house to buy so in case you got leads, let her know. She's very cool 5'11" lady. (Karen Helman becomes our permanent roomie by mid-August or Sept.)


[ ] Wander and Blue Sky Asheville should come out middle of August. I will sure interperse Wander or Blue Sky with The Indie... for sure, I'll devise a way to make these three magazines more profit-oriented. Meantime, in case you'd like to find ads, we could give/offer cool commission rate/s--to as high as 35 percent... Another way that has been helping us raise buffer fund is by way of donations or subscriptions. Marta is very good at it--while fixing coffee at Ingles Merrimon, friends donate money for The Indie. So thanks to her workmates Melissa Sumner, Steve Meisner, Jennifer Parker, Alison, Janis, and Missy for the kind hearts. Well, if you have friends who might wanna share $5 or few more to this continuing madness, just email me the address/contact info, we'll send them copies and/or free ad space.

[ ] We are definitely (date undecided yet) showing the Sundance-winning documentary, "Imelda" (about the shoe-obsessed former Philippine First Lady) this summer. I have started talking with Jonah Goldwag of Fortune Bldg/WestAshe for the kickoff screening this July. This filmshow project could be an end of summer till winter program. The main features shall be paired off with shorts that could be motivations for discussions (starting with New Yorker Penny Lane's "The Abortion Diaries"). I am also mulling over a Vagrant Wind Independent Film Festival and poetry/fiction writing (as a Wander promo project) -- though I need to brainstorm these projects more. (Last winter, Jim cox has also suggested a literary contest.)
Meantime, I am trying to forge out-of-town, beyond Asheville poetry readings and filmshows -- to basically pitch my work and drum up interest with the Vagrant Wind Filmfest and the literary competitions. I am talking about mostly NC "college" cities -- Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, etc.

[ ] The cafe business brainstorm is still here, consistently being discussed and explored. Right now, we have at least two other people/co-partners who are very interested in pursuing this entrepreneurial project. We simply need to invest on endeavors that could usher more income to support the publications. Other possibilities on discussion -- house rental/bread&breakfast, catering service.

[ ] I have initially negotiated/discussed website development work (for Loved by the Buffalo Publications and Traveling Bonfires) with Kathy Hardin and Lindsay Hardin of Compass Point, LLC (based in Hickory). But I need to study more the contract that they submitted. Those who are knowledgeable about rates vis-a-vis web work, maybe you could give me advice. Meantime, in case you have some leads for more website devt service/work, let me know.

LASTLY, y'all are invited to my 106th birthday on July 23, a Sunday. We could celebrate it on that Saturday weekend, if that works better with your schedule. It's potluck although I will sure prepare more Filipino food (c/o my Pinoy chef-homey in Patton Avenue). We can also do the frontyard sale on this day.
So that's it -- everything's cool, so far. Again, please check out your last-submitted articles in case they need revision/rework... It is great to be living in a real home--as usual cooking more good food, and feeling like my house and yard is the world (I pitched a tent on my backyard besides a small bonfire pit). I watch more TV, as usual (although most are "bad" news but I get to be more abreast with what's going on... North Korea, World Cup, Jacko's neverending troubles, Nancy Grace's "sexy bitchiness," and oh man, I like watching goofy commercials and "Law and Order" and Jeopardy)--to complement my incessant New York Times and Rolling Stone readings.
Right now I am reading Adam Feinstein's biography of Pablo Neruda, rereading Amy Tan's "The Kitchen God's Wife," and Ethan Hawke's "Ash Wednesday" and about to finish the Johnny Depp movie, "The Libertine." (I didn't enjoy "Syriana" as I did another Stephen Gaghan-penned film, "Traffic" though -- the latter was crafted/written more powerfully and smartly than the former, to my opinion. Meanwhile, I recommend "16 Blocks" -- Mos Def is usually an excellent, underrated actor.)
Have a great sunny Saturday. Live good, love good, and eat good!
July 8. Saturday