Thursday, November 26, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

Last Saturday we had a reading that filled our little event space. Gunner,Elwin, and Hannah read followed by our visiting writer, who was that night's feature presentation. Magpie Killjoy read from his SteamPunk "adventure of one's own choosing" book that he had finished during his time as a visiting writer at the Cyberpunk Apocalypse.
It was quite a bit of fun. All decisions were forced rapid consensuses, and there was a lot of yelling and laughter.
When the reading ended and our guests began to leave, Gunner and I hurriedly packed and finished preparations on our bikes. We planned on peddling toward Cleveland in the morning in order to get a 5:30pm bus the next day. We didn't know if we would be able to get there in time for the bus or even where we were going to put our bikes when we got there (since the bus would not let us bring them with us), but we were going.
When our alarm went off, we made some tea and waited for Garret. When Garret arrived, we left. When we got outside of the city limits the sky was lightening, and my brake and back rack fell off suddenly. But I had a do-dad in my pocket that seemed to replace the thing that came loose and fell off, and I added a zip tie for good measure and we were off.
About forty miles into the ride, Garret's hip (which held large hunks of metal from a relatively recent surgery) started to hurt, but instead of saying anything he biked another fifty miles, camped with us, biked another 60 miles into and around Cleveland, and then said something.
We got into Cleveland mid-day.
By the time we got there we had gotten in touch with a friend of a friend who said we could stow our bikes at his place. It was huge, 6 stories and beautiful. Two people lived in the whole building, so they had one whole apartment filled with dried leaves, and another ready for a Halloween party at any time. The manager of the building did programs with neighborhood kids, and the guy we were in contact with (Ian) wrote grants for it. He also was in a noise band that played music on a Tesla coil, which apparently gives off different pitched hums, depending on how much juice you give it.
Ian helped us stow our bikes, fed us, and pointed us in the direction of our bus. He went above and beyond hospitality, and we couldn't have thanked him enough.
We caught the megabus, and went to Chicago. It's thanksgiving day, but we had our feast yesterday. We've been visiting with my sister, and having a great time. We saw Quinby's and BackStory coffee shop, and ate and drank and were merry. We're heading back today, so hopefully we'll catch the tail end of Artnoose's birthday week which is going on back home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cory Doctorow

So, I haven't ever ready any Cory Doctorow, but a buddy of mine directed me to his new book Makers which is available for free on his website, and was originally published as an on-line serial with the tittle "Themepunks." I poked around and found this video of Doctorow. He has a lot of interesting thoughts on intellectual property, and the future of the information age.
It's worth checking out, and I'll be sure to tell you about the book when I get a chance to read it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reading at Unsmoke Systems

I just came from my reading at Unsmoke System's art gallery in Braddock. The thing was curated by Jim Storch, and it was a lot of fun. There wasn't the rip-roaring atmosphere that Elwin created two days ago, but it was an intimate performance. And of course, Unsmoke has a beautiful space.

Here's what the line up was--
Jim Storch/Nathan Kukulski....with video by Ryan Emmett.
MySpace Link

Cottonballman....with slides by Jim Storch.
YouTube Link

Daniel Patrick McCloskey (from the zine/writers' space Cyberpunk Apocalypse)
Blog Link

Tom McClure (poet, writer, copy editor [for Wax Poetics Magazine], and raconteur).
YouTube Link

I've been doing more and more thinking about what it means to set up a good reading, I have a couple of things I think I'll be trying out in the future--so watch out for that. In the meantime don't forget about Magpie Killjoy's choose your own--steampunk adventure reading. Next Saturday (the 21st) come and help decide the destiny of the character at the Cyberpunk Apocalypse--5431 Carnegie street PGH pa.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Readings and more readings.

Last night's reading went really well. I'm not going to talk about it too much, because I'll have video of it up asap. Tomorrow night I'll be doing my second reading in Braddock as part of the driftwood series. And on the 21st our visiting writer Magpie Killjoy will be reading from his NEW SteamPunk choose your own adventure and YOU will be choosing! It's going to be really fun, and Hannah, has just walked down the stairs and offered to read as well, so it's snowballing already. Tell your friends, because it's short notice. Door at 7pm, starts at 7:30. Food and drink and good stories.
-be there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here is an email that was sent to me by Karen Lillis. She is a writer, and read at the houses Library benefit. It's adressed to Pittsburghers so, if you don't know what to do about the library thing, check this out:

This is a crucial moment when your word of support can make a big difference in the fight to keep Pittsburgh libraries open. I have provided links below and a letter for you to cut and paste if you so choose. I hope you can take a moment to contact your officials, and pass this email on to others.

thank you,

*Save the library branches*
------->Letter and links below

*Demand transparency* from the library board for how they spend your taxpayers' money
*Demand a permanent plan* for funding the local libraries
*Request support and money* from your city, county, state officials
*Show your support* for the library system and what it provides
*Know your Pittsburgh history* which includes the history of the public library and the children's library

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh library board is threatening to close four branches, merge two and move one out of its beautiful historic building by February 1 unless the $1.2 million dollr budget gap is met and a permanent fudning plan found. But the library belongs to all of us! Please write to your officials NOW to prevent the branches from closing and to speed up the creation of a fair and viable funding plan. City councilmember Doug Shields says there is more money to be freed up if people contact their officials. (Shields also opposes taxing the students to get the libraries funded.) Scroll below for a letter to cut and paste (or add to) if you don't have time to write your own.

If you live in Pittsburgh, write to Mayor Luke:
your city councilmember, [Find here]:

If you live in Allegheny County, write to Dan Onorato, County Executive:

If you live in PA, write to your state rep [find here using zip code in upper right corner]:

AND to Ed Rendell, our governor:


I'm writing to register protest against cutting branches of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I believe that libraries are good for cities, good for citizens, good for students, and good for neighborhoods. The loss of any of these branches is a loss that Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods cannot afford. Pittsburgh already supports its branches so well as patrons; surely we can find a plan, together, to fairly and permanently fund the public library system.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Transhumanists discuss the cyberpunk apocalypse

Our visiting writer, Magpie Killjoy, was kind enough to forward this link. It is a H+ (transhumanist) discussion group that run by a friend of his in Seattle. Their most recent discussion topic was the cyberpunk apocalypse. Check out the link, mull it over--because we're living it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Save the librarys

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Next Weds., be there or be square

Library Rally
Weds., Nov. 11 (it's Veterans' Day)
at 1 P.M.
in front of the Main library on Forbes Ave. in Oakland

We're hoping for a big crowd of supporters from across the city. Since it's Veterans' Day the kids won't have school, please bring them, your friends, your neighbors, your signs, your voices.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And interview by Todd Faltin

The following is an interview that was re-enacted by Todd Faltin at the November 2nd library benefit:

Interview with Andrew Carnegie and Luke Ravenstahl

Some might say that Luke Ravenstahl’s ascent to Pittsburgh’s Highest Hill began when Andrew Carnegie curb stomped that motherfucking Unionizer outside the Steel Works in Homestead in 1892. Ravenstahl then stood on shoulders of Carnegie’s ghost and could see just beyond the stack of frozen souls at the top of this industrial freezer, just beyond Bob O’Connor’s fresh, lifeless corpse. I had a moment to talk with the two influential characters and get their perspectives on everything that’s happened in the city over the past 150 years—from the steel collapse to the G20 to the 2009 announcement to close several of Carnegie’s libraries. Here is what the interview would have looked like if held in a bar like Belvedere’s, with the much shorter Andrew Carnegie on my right and the towering beast known as Luke Ravenstahl on my left.

Todd: So, Andrew, let’s cut right to the fucking Christmas goose here: Several of your libraries are being closed because you weren’t immortal enough and couldn’t continue exploiting steel workers to channel the money they made back into philanthropic causes that their hard working bodies and underdeveloped brains could never use. Now, some historians say that, had you not died, the steel industry in America, particularly Pittsburgh, could have sustained itself for much longer—maybe even to the modern era. How much of an impact did your death have on your future, and our present, Pittsburgh, one of today’s greenest cities?

Andrew: I died?

Luke: I feel like bringing up Andrew’s death is kind of a low blow here, todd. You should probably get on him for being sub-five feet in height; you know, something over which he has control.

Todd: Right. So, Andrew, why did you choose to be four-feet, eleven-inches tall? I mean, even after death, that’s not a desirable height. You surely could have had a better time negotiating with much taller, less literate men with another foot spread out across the vertical length of your bones.

Luke: Your skin, too.

Todd: Yeah, skin. Forgot about that one.

Andrew: I died?

Luke: Yeah, you died; and we’re downsizing your library system, too.

Todd: Luke, that’s enough—the man’s in shock about realizing that modern humans are more captivated by height and sexual prowess than earning power and the ability to secretly walk through clothing racks at department stores as if they were turnstiles.

Luke: I’m cleaning up after Andrew Carnegie: His excessive libraries, leftover steel mills and creation-debunking museums are still causing community disruption 90 years after his overdue death.

Andrew: I’m dead?

Todd: Turn that question into a statement, and we’ll take this interview places it should never have gone.

Todd: Ahem. I am dead. And I have just been resurrected …

Luke: Don’t you mean reanimated?

Andrew: I stand corrected--the venerable HP Lovecraft, and his finest creation, Herbert West-Re-Animator, should be referenced and cited at every opportune occasion.

Todd: Andrew, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Lovecraft’s Herbert West ReAnimator wasn’t published until 1923, which at this point you had been dead for four years; and his work remained obscure to even the utmost horror/sci-fi fanatic until only recently.

Andrew: Certainly my post-life endeavors could not have been limited by my lack of pulse, cognition and response.

Todd: Wait a minute -- Are you saying that Reanimator is nonfiction, and you were the real life case upon which the story was based?

Andrew: Loosely based. Since modern science in my time wasn’t as modern as that in Lovecraft’s fiction, I donated my body to him and his works of reality-based fiction. And so my early post-life experiences were documented in Herbert West Re-Animator, which was also semi-autobiographical for the writer.

Luke: Enough about this old news—Let’s talk about my impending reelection tomorrow.

Andrew: Luke, are you part of the group of weasels who support keeping Old Allegheny City a part of Pittsburgh? How do you feel about Pittsburgh’s 1907 Annexation of Allegheny?

Luke: What does that have to do with what’s going on in Pittsburgh today? Allegheny City has been a part of Pittsburgh for almost as long as it stood on its own two industrial legs. Allegheny was strengthened when Pittsburgh welcomed it into its web. The only people who support the Revival of Old Allegheny are dead, like you, Andrew.

Todd: That’s undead, Luke. And actually, as you must know, because of your upbringing across the river and up the hill, the North Side/Old Allegheny is practically a free state as is: You can get away with anything there. There are certainly folks on the North Side who would support the secession of Allegheny from Pittsburgh if they knew such opportunities existed. If re-elected tomorrow, will you provide this option for Pittsburgh Residents living in areas that were once Allegheny City?

Luke: Um, don’t you want to hear about how I spiritually curbstomped anarcho motherfuckers at the G20?

Andrew: The G20’s suppression of dissent was as heavily stacked in favor of those in Power as every single steelworker strike during my time as a Robber Baron, especially in Homestead where it was rumored that I curbstomped some motherfucking Union member.

Todd: Rumored? You’re saying it didn’t happen? I’ve got a neighbor with photos of the victim’s teeth on the curb and you sitting beside him, holding his head up like a trophy buck, 10 points and nothing less.

Andrew: If you look at the physics of the supposed curb stomping of that motherfucker, it becomes apparent that my short legs could have played no part in such a brutal act of violence against the individual representing organized workers.

Luke: Wait—let’s talk about me! Look at me! (Sits down when no one notices him.)

Todd: So, you didn’t curbstomp that motherfucker?

Andrew: No, I wasn’t even in town at the time. I was trying to convince the world that peace could be achieved through creating a simplified spelling system to make English available to all.

Todd: At least your priorities were in line. Mr. Carnegie, let’s again discuss your libraries.

Andrew: They’re not my libraries. I put down money to construct these libraries, but it’s up to you and everyone around you to fill them with books and hungry readers. I requested that the city set aside $40,000 per year for books, maintenance, and staffing, but that was in 1889 money. The city still provides just that -- $40,000—but that can’t buy you much more than a house or two in Upper Lawrenceville these days.

Todd: So, you’re not here as a fully re-animated billionaire to make a case for keeping Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Libraries open? The system is closing libraries in Hazelwood, the West End, Lawrenceville and Beechview.

Andrew: I have never been to Beechview.

Luke: (Stands again, excitedly.) That’s not even the point! If you’re back tonight, then you can rewrite your will to include adjustments to that $40,000 that include inflation, which will save all of our libraries without being too unreasonable for the city to accept the revisions.

Andrew: Why do you need my presence to modify the past for a future that doesn’t need to be rewritten by my hand? Any number of previous mayors and their city councils could have spearheaded an adjustment campaign for city-library funding. Why would you wait for me to show up at a dive bar to suggest such drastic changes?

Luke: Because I can’t do this by myself. Did you see how many cops I needed to protect the World Leaders in town for the G20? I need you to rewrite history and take the pressure off of me to make it look like I care about this city.

Andrew: Luke, I am but a wealthy corpse; I am no cop. And despite this opportunity for me to sign my name and add a footnote to the original Carnegie Library contract, it has to be up to the people to protect and maintain their communities.

Luke: The people can’t do shit without people like us.

Andrew: The people can’t do shit with people like us, Luke.

Todd: And that’s all the time we have tonight. Luke, I think you’ve made a good case against your reelection; and Andrew, I think you’ve proved that, despite a few decent points here and there, rich people are better dead than alive. Off with you both now, shoo!

Monday, November 2, 2009


We just fund raised $170.00 in our effort to support the struggle to keep our libraries up and running here in Pittsburgh. Hopefully we got a few people to call their representatives in the very janky phone booth I made for the occasion--which was more of the point.

There was a recent Zine reading at the Carnegie library, which Artnoose read at. Tonights readings included Sarah LaBuff, and later in this month there will be three more readings that will feature Elwin and me (two each (there's some overlap (got it?))). Plus, there will be some sort of thing with our first visiting writer Magpie.

All and all, a lot going on. But for now, I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo, Cyberpunk Apocalypse style

The Cyberpunk Apocalypse is doing a month-long, chart-based project for the month of November as a part of NaNoWriMo. Photos and details as the month progresses.

Which housemate will write the most during the month? Who will have the highest daily word count? And how about that maverick visiting writer--- how will he fare in this cut-throat battle? Will there be prizes or merely bragging rights?

Stay tuned to find out how this all turns out.