Monday, June 11, 2012

Printers Row 2012

I felt so Bohemian.

There I was, sitting on the train with my iced latte in hand and The Beatles on my iPod.  My destination: Printers Row LitFest.  It’s an annual Chicago gathering of writers of books and those who love to read them.   Both are good reasons for my attendance.  In addition, I go to seek what every other writer wants from these things.


It might be the same thing as “dumb luck.”  It might be the shrewd recognition of an opportunity and acting on it.  To me, it means opening up a window and watching what flies through it.  Sometimes it’s nothing.  Once in a while, it could be everything.  So we writers go to these things in hopes of meeting that one essential contact or experiencing a synergy of events, something a la Donnie Darko wherein things finally break open for us.

To further document this excursion, I decided to photoblog it.  My actual camera is missing its USB cord and was therefore uncharged.  I had to settle for the cam on my iPhone so that’s the reason for the photo graininess.  I’ve taken to photographing whatever odd visages catch my eye on the streets.  Again, a form of synergy, allowing in all manner of things to see what creative use I can make of them.  But I digress…

This is the tunnel approach to the train station.  I always thought it would make for a great scene in a spy thriller.  “I have ze papers if you jave ze diamonds.”

The vibrant colors of those pennants make me think that construction workers are now getting their supplies from Party City.

I have arrived.  One really small step for mankind.

A lovely morning in Chicago.

There were several beautiful girls here, all waving at me.  Strangely enough, none of them showed up in the photo.

I’d like to personally introduce you to the construction ravelment on Adams that jerked my travel route all around the block.

A statue atop one of our buildings.  There are those who may look at it and say, “How beautiful.”  I say, “That’s got to be caked with bird droppings.”

This tattoo caught my eye.  It was actually well done while so many others aren’t these days.  I liked the stencil aspect to it and how it reminded me of a stage piece from Duran Duran’s 1987 world tour.

I liked the building and the sunbeams.  Also wonder if the number 209 has any numerological significance.

I met a member of the Occupy/99% movement here.  He said his name was Tony and that he “does security” for the protests, whatever that means.  He urged me to photograph the statue atop the Board of Trade.  “When the sun hits her, the goddess glows,” Tony said.  I knew it wouldn’t show up on the iPhone but I snapped a shot anyway.  He then nicely asked if I could contribute to the Occupy movement.  I gave him a buck.

Statuary!  Just to show you how geekified my brain has become, I can no longer look at faces carved of stone and not imagine them being monuments on Mars.  This was oddly prescient as later in the day I would see Prometheus.  You can read the review here.

An actual Man In Black!  There are probably fragments of Roswell debris in that briefcase!
I must speak with Nick Redfern!

Love this architecture.

This was the only way my iPhone was going to get a close shot of a gargoyle.

Armando and I once stopped at this very gas station on the corner of Congress and Dearborn.  It was during a terrible snow storm in January of 1993.  We were trying to make our way back to the burbs from a Duran Duran concert in Evanston.  There was no washer fluid left in wiper tank.  We were lucky to make it.

I arrive at Printers Row.

The tents are all vendors for the most part.  Publishers, rare book vendors, and university presses.  A few had authors scattered about, sitting at the tables and eager to hawk their books.  It is a bit dismaying to see the current state of the American author, left to his/her own devices when it comes to sales and marketing.  True, they’ve always asked the passerby, “Hey!  What do you like to read?” hoping to hook a buyer in for the sale.  Now it’s been reduced to more like, “Hey!  Do you like to breathe?  Then you’ll love my book!”  Like a pimp hustling his girl, one author told me, “Open to a page and I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like.  There’s dialogue and a fast moving plot.  No slow descriptions.”  Yes, why would anyone try to write art?

Another writer asserted that his book contained, “the ninth plot.”  Scholars of literature believe that there are only eight basic plots in storytelling.  “I have the ninth one,” this man said with conviction.  “Tell me of any other plot where the protagonist dies in the story and then comes back to set everything right in the end?”  Um, Lord of the Rings, The New Testament, probably a few others.  Sigh…I know I’m going to have to do this one day.  There just must be a more dignified manner of doing it without reducing one’s self to a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

A whole mess of Doc Savages at a wonderful vendor that had many pulps.  You can also spot a few Avengers in the bin.  They also had The Shadow, Perry Rhodan, and several other favorites.

Art prints of vintage magazine covers and film posters.  Great art.  If I had more money and if they weren’t so bulky I know I would have come home with a few.

A table full of dangerous, free-thinking books full of unpopular thoughts.  I like it.  It was around here, however, that somebody handed me a flier.  I thought it was for an author or a publisher.  It was for the Chicago socialist party.  Great.  That’s going in the FBI file.    :\

I didn’t want to take any pictures inside this boutique as I doubted they would allow it.  There are many gems inside, editions of Graham Greene and William Faulkner.  Their editions of Ray Bradbury were higher in price now for obvious reasons.  They had signed vintage copies of William Gibson’s Idoru and Virtual Light.  Again, if I had the money…

For reasons that pass understanding, a giant kangaroo and her offspring landed on Printers Row.

Oh these guys would have loved talking to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Katy Perry.

So I left my card with a few different publishers.  I also strategically stuck the cards between books on shelves.  You know, between copies of Rudy Rucker or Arthur C. Clarke.  I figure that if someone is looking over those books, they already have good taste or at least bend in my direction.
I also got to meet up with an old college friend.  We looked at pulps and comic books.  He told me about finding last year a vintage copy of Life magazine with Adam West on the cover.  I thought an old copy of Soviet Life would make a funny coffee table companion piece, especially since all the colorful dancers on the magazine cover made life in the Soviet Union look much more fun than it was.

As for myself, I had quite a difficult time deciding which books I would select.  Thomas Pynchon was definitely in the running, as were several other wonderful authors of many genres.  I ended up buying Day of the Star Cities by John Brunner and a pulp I selected on a whim, called Starwolf: The Weapon From Beyond

I’m tired of this wistful hoping shit.  I am going to be one the authors here one day.  Get your tickets now, bitches.

Then I took the train home, went to see Prometheus, and had a burrito.  If I wanted to keep up with my Bohemian theme, I should have gone to a place where “they dig on vegan food” and “have them cook me up something that I’d really love.”


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1 comment:

  1. Nice pictures. If you would like to experience a little of the Printers Row Lit Fest on video. Check out to watch our monthly "Authors Showcase" program. The July and August episodes are dedicated to the Chicago Lit Fest. See what you missed or review the fun you had.