How Evergreen Became Irrelevant
When you go to a museum and see a color photograph hanging, you’re looking at a chromogenic print. Meaning something made in a darkroom, by an artist who knows her stuff. You’re not going to see a digital print in a museum environment for a couple of reasons. One is that film was the visual capture medium for how we processed the twentieth century. It has a lineage tied to it, a history.
Another is that film yields a better image. We are at the stage now where this is an objective evaluation. Ten years ago, the film vs. digital argument might have been an intriguing one to have. But we’ve reached a level where digital has matured to a point of excellence that reveals it still has nothing on the color range, black levels, exposure latitude, and unbeatable organic grain structure of analogue. I’m no longer interested in hearing how digital capture has any meaningful relation to fine art in the twenty-first century. It has relevant applications for sports, journalism, and crime scenes. But compared to film, digital is grade school. It’s cheap, it’s easy, has a gigantic margin for error, and comparatively speaking, looks terrible. It’s nice for tourists. That’s right– we’re not pulling punches here.
Film is a cultural artifact people want to use. Kodak doesn’t merely still produce film; they continue to announce new film stocks and the resuscitation of classic stocks by demand. It remains a popular format for auteur filmmakers, and dozens of movies are shot on 35mm every year. Film has never been available for purchase at places like Urban Outfitters before. You can find Polaroid film and cameras at Nordstrom now. Film is the fastest growing trend in photography today.
But more importantly, it’s the upper limit of the art form. The tumult of digital has stabilized, and we can now see that film and fine art photography will remain synonymous for the indefinite future. If you’re serious about photography as art, you’re going to work on film. You’re at least going to learn it. Where are you going to learn it?
The Height of Evergreen
Evergreen College had the last major color darkroom in the United States. It was also the absolute last educational institution in the country to have a color darkroom. If you wanted to do your MFA in color, you went to Evergreen. It was a destination spot for high-end photographers. People came from everywhere to use it. There was a community of us, driving for hours from adjoining states, even making trips to fly in, to use some of the most state-of-the-art photography equipment in existence. I printed there for years. They had the only Ilford color processor in the world, and they kept it running like a Swiss watch. They had an 8" x 10” negative enlarger– a recent and exciting acquisition.
One of the reasons it’s so easy for film to be the fastest growing trend is that like vinyl, the knowledge for how it works already exists. Color was one of the cheapest parts of Evergreen's Photography Department to operate and concurrently their shining jewel, their well-earned claim to fame, a vibrant beacon celebrating the best of chemical-based, optical, analogue photography. Students on tours were always blown away by it. 'Cause you won't see this anywhere else. One of the best art departments in the country, hands down. Photo was as good as it was because of Hugh Lentz, who ran the department for three decades. He just retired.
Right after that, they decided to dump Color.
The Laziness of Evergreen
By “they” I mean the administrative heads of the school and more specifically the Photo Department. Even though the lab is easy to run and the processor cheap to maintain, they dumped it. Despite its having a strong, loyal base of students and community members who paid the fees to keep it going, they still killed it. Now the processor just sits there. The college isn’t tearing that wing down, or replacing it; they’re just walling it off.
The crown jewel of analogue photography in the USA is being walled off, for negligible financial gain. The thing about a color processor is how heavy it is. It’s the size of a car. You can’t move it. And you can’t turn it off for extended periods, either. It’ll start to rust and warp. It’s more mechanical than electric, more animal than machine: the more often it's running, the more prints you put through it, the better it functions. Leaving it off behind a wall, for a year or a decade, is tantamount to destroying it. But the administration doesn’t know this.
Was this a money issue? Did they care, but were just not able to afford it? Incredibly, no. They have made no attempt to sell to a non-profit or any other institution. And this is what’s criminal, because it reveals where their perspectives truly lie. It's one thing to decide this doesn't fit your business model, but quite another to destroy a cultural artifact that is popular and still in use.
What Could Have Been
It takes two people to do a weekly maintenance on the color machine. The chemistry is comparatively affordable– about half the cost of black and white photo, a department Evergreen is retaining. Forty liters of RA4 developer is $188. It’s easy to mix. And color paper is cheaper than black and white paper by a huge margin. Evergreen says it can't have volunteers do work formerly done by paid employees. That sounds like it makes sense, but when those “paid employees” were actually just work-study students, what are we really talking about here? This is their way of saying they can't pay $27 in labor a week.
Long-time staff have had to listen to unreasonable excuses for why it was shut down. A recurring refrain is: “we need to spend money on facilities actually in the curriculum.” Once Hugh retired, Color was cut from it. The teachers were never approached for their opinion. By not replacing Hugh, and making convenient nips and tucks elsewhere, the culture now is such that staff can only say yes. And inside, they tell me, they just scream. Their voices, their ability to be heard, hold a discourse– have all been silenced.
Young students and loyal staff have tried hard to fight for it, and they are shut down. Evergreen has created an environment where students devalue themselves and their work. There are staff who tell me they want to cry when community members come in to thank them for keeping the color darkroom afloat as long as they could.
If Evergreen actually wanted to keep Color, they would've started writing grants. They wouldn't have thrown up their hands the minute Hugh retired. A man works over three decades to create a thing unchallenged in the rest of the nation for fine art photo… and the administration’s response after thirty years is to rip apart his life’s work. For them to say there is no hope of it living on is both a compliment and appallingly lazy. It's sad. It represents the worst sort of systematic disregard for students, employees, art, legacy, relationships, and reputation.
Ignorance Behind Closed Doors
I’d like to offer a little more on what the administration is like behind closed doors. It is not my intention to harm people, so I’ll withhold the names of the high-level staff I’m about to discuss. I’m sure each has qualities about them to recommend, but a word needs to said about the culture they together create at Evergreen.
The President of Evergreen is not an artist. He’s an economist. Entire departments could be bankrolled or demolished at his say-so. Who makes these determinations? To what degree is outreach not merely executed, but considered? Evergreen staff and students voted on the creation of a Fine Arts degree. It never got approved. A Bachelor of Sciences, however– which was widely unpopular– was approved. Should we be shocked that the administration values STEM over the Arts? I’ll tell you how this crushes a student's spirit.
It crushes the young child in every student who dreams of being an artist. It tells young people not to dream, not to value expression, individualism– as people of color, minorities, or otherwise. It encourages, specifically, the silencing of unique expression and selfhood. In our capitalist society, artists have to fight for the right to create and be. They should be embraced. We shouldn't have to fight for the arts. We don't have to fight for science or math. When an institution doesn't listen to its faculty, students, or the community that supports it, we can agree there's a problem.
The Director of the Media Department famously said that “Color [film] is a joke.” She showed her visiting friends from France the facilities… and didn't show them the color darkroom. Because, she said, it's a joke. That’s how little she understands the legacy of photography and photography today. She’s that short-sighted. And we’re talking about the head of Photo here. Her friends would've loved seeing the United States’ most significant, best-run lab for making museum-quality work. Obviously. The only one at an educational institution, and the only major one with public access. As I elucidate above, it's a treasure, with a thriving community and a lot of support.
Beyond that, she has humiliated staff in front of others, accosting them for supporting queer and trans people, calling insignia made by an on-campus LGBT group “disgusting,” and threatened a queer employee with termination after he politely stood up for himself– in front of multiple witnesses. Nice. After Evergreen’s alt-right fiasco in the media last year, are we surprised? In her ableist demeanor she confuses the fight for art with unprofessionalism, and her miswielding of power and prejudice doesn’t do her any favors.
“Film is dead,” the Dean has said. “Digital is here to stay.” He manages not to notice these two statements no longer contradict each other, as they might have appeared to in 2003. He flatly refuses to acknowledge film as coming back. With these proclamations, he reveals how far out of his depth he is. As I indicated above, film is the fastest growing trend in photography. He thinks his position of Dean somehow qualifies him to make decisions in a field about which he knows nearly nothing.
If I may be so bold: when discussing meaningful trends in contemporary art and fashion, people his age need to be listening to people my age. No hard feelings, good sir, but you’re fifteen years out of date. Most of these staff weren't even aware of how rare color darkroom was until they were told.
The new head of Instructional Photography recently announced to a class he “doesn't believe in safe spaces.” That is a direct quote, from a professor in liberal Western Washington in 2018. He doesn't like to teach and makes it obvious he hates students. He’s famously unavailable to them, even during the lead-up to final projects. The running suspicion is that he’s only there to get benefits and will stop teaching the moment he can, possibly next year. His frequent absences force students to an attitude of resignation, not to mention extinguishing any enthusiasm they may have had for the medium. What a pitiful replacement for Hugh, who shepherded the passions of so many.
The Lab Manager blatantly tells student workers that “film is dead,” that they “should give up on it.” That "the only way to have a future in photo is to go digital." This is what passes for encouragement from staff at Evergreen. Again, I say: So early 2000s. He tells students how much he hates having community members in the lab, and has been heard on more than one occasion calling them “a waste of time.” He thinks having no community would be better, despite community members being the ones who pay to sustain the program.
The Myth of the Lone Wolf
You get an idea of what the culture is down there now. Toxic. You better hope the person helping you is a long-time teacher, grad student, or work-study. Hugh’s legacy is more noticeable now that he’s absent: nobody dared touch the program while he was running it. Because of him, thousands of photographers, like myself, know and could print analogue color. Because of him, thousands of people love film as they would never have been able to otherwise. Sometimes one person can make a difference. Artists need communities, but you don’t find them very often.
Arts communities don't exist because we as a society hold alive the romantic notion of the lone wolf artist. Generally speaking, there is no such thing. The Sistine ceiling wasn't painted alone. Warhol didn't make his works alone. In photo, there's the shooter, designer, lighting, assistant, and model. You see what I'm getting at here. Artists still romanticize about going away and doing their own thing in the woods, coming back with an armful of masterpieces. This lie kills community building. We exist with the help and support of others. Evergreen’s PhotoLand offered that for decades.
How Evergreen Became Second-Rate
This is really about conserving legacies– not just of individuals, but of societies. You’d think a school would care about art history. The Color lab was attractive, highly functional, and well-used. Its presence indicated that Evergreen cared about where the medium of photo came from, and knew where the art form was at its finest.
I write above that you won’t find digital color prints in a museum environment, only chromogenic prints. You don’t have to trust me. Look up the top ten most expensive museum-sold photographs. They’re all shot on film. Evergreen has just eliminated the ability of their students or anyone else to perform at that level. No student graduating from Evergreen College, from this point forward, will have the skill sets or experience to do museum-quality film work. Keeping the darkroom would have meant becoming, ever more, a leading force in fine art photography.
People in higher education should know things like this. The director of a fine arts institution should understand film is important. We hold higher education to a higher standard. But this place doesn’t hold itself to a higher standard– not in legacy, community, culture, nor even work environment. Evergreen has been disgraced publicly. But it should be disgraced even further for its ignorance of art. Ignorance is becoming its hallmark. They could've set a trend.
Instead they'll have to settle for following, when it becomes one.
The individuals above will try to tell you otherwise. They’ll throw numbers at you, share convincing arguments about how their hands are tied, how they meant well. They’ll use words like slander and libel, even though every claim in this post has been vetted by at least two people, and I don’t give away my sources. Who should you trust?
The thing these days is, you really can't trust anyone– because everyone’s coming from somewhere vested. They work for the place. They go to school there. They got fired. They got promoted. They need a story. They need to graduate. You can’t trust them. Not really. Because everyone has an agenda.
This is a follow-up to a recent story on sleepers, newbies and working together. Click here for an addendum on sleepers; this follow-up is about newbie drivers and getting along!
I'd like to address some gripes regarding new operators and operations procedures. Usually you hear about these things in two contexts:
The world can't exist without either of these, but I'd like to offer a third approach.
Regarding skip-stopping, which I mention in the previous story: “It's called the 'Shake'n'Bake.' To make his life easier, [Sean] and I skip-stop our way up Rainier, alternating the stops we serve and splitting the passenger load between ourselves, thus speeding up the travel time for both coaches.”
First of all, don’t worry if you’ve never heard anyone say “Shake’n’Bake” before. You’re not out of the loop. Nobody calls it that but Sean and I. Skip-stopping itself, however, is standard operating procedure.
What is skip-stopping?
There are two varieties:
This is when you have two buses of the same route. If and only if the following bus goes everywhere the leading bus goes, skip-stopping can happen. It's great. New to driving? Here's how to do it:
If your follower is in view, skip about every other stop. (S)he will pick up the passengers at those zones, and you'll get the others. This speeds up both buses and halves the load for both drivers. You do not need to pass each other for this to work.
Need to dropoff at a zone that also has intending passengers? Honk and signal at them so they use the following bus, and pull past them such that your follower has room to pull into the zone. It's imperfect, but it leaves room for your follower to get into the zone, which is nice, and gets both buses into the same zone.
The skipping sequence will doubtless get messy if you have dropoffs as well; things may be busy enough that you'll skip most every zone except ones in which you're dropping off. This will put your follower out of sight. Once he's out of sight, start picking people up until he's visible again. You can even motion to intending passengers at zones you're passing with your hand or a slight horn tap, letting them know to use the bus behind you.
Again, this is possible only when the second coach goes everywhere the first coach goes. In the example above, Sean's 7 goes downtown; I don't make it that far, terminating in Chinatown. If I'm behind him, he can't skip stops, or else I'll get passengers who want downtown, which only his bus serves. If I'm in front, we can skip, because if I get downtown-oriented passengers, they can simply deboard and get on Sean's bus behind me.
I'm guessing Scheduling isn't aware of this, as they schedule most route 7 to Chinatown Only trips right behind 7 to Downtown trips; if they flipped that, it'd be faster for both coaches.
The other variety of skip stopping is on Third Avenue. That's called The Weave. With The Weave, you have to share the road with buses that use different stops than you. Third Avenue has the highest volume of bus traffic of any street in the country. The Weave is necessary, and I think it's fun. On Third every route uses approximately every other stop, and passes routes which use the other stops. New to bus driving? Follow these three easy steps to make it work:
The New World
Complicating all of this is an abbreviated training program to accelerate hiring, resulting in famously unprepared new operators who don't know about such subtleties. You won't believe it, but there are new hires who come in with no knowledge of the above two strategies, though they're both outlined in The Book.
A new divide is growing between older operators and many of the new hires, who don't know what side wire is or when to use it (whenever you're the lead coach, among other things), aren't familiar with pulling forward for buses behind you, putting the poles up of the dewired bus in front of you or at least blocking traffic for them, who drive too fast through special work and don't know how to skip-stop on Third or elsewhere.
Senior folks: recognize the steep learning curve and help your fellow colleagues. Lead by example. Be gentle, and do something besides complain. Until Training has the resources, let's do their job the best we can out here. For starters, we can teach them everything in the above paragraph.
New hires: swallow your pride. Bite it. Learn from the brother or sister next to you. Ask me questions about the above. Keep alive the culture of looking out for each other. With how high the turnover is these days, you get to decide what gets lost and what remains of the old guard's approach.
Let's keep the good stuff.
This was going to be a footnote to my previous story, but it was getting too long– and too important! Sleepers are a major element of the bus world, and they deserve their own post.
If you do long routes at night, you'll get 'em. As I write above: "Waking them up can be a hassle (so can letting them sleep- you become a roving hotel and don't have room for your Destinational Passengers), but if your biggest problem of the night is waking people up, you're doing great."
Your non-bus driver friends will have trouble understanding how any of this could be annoying. They have a point. Sleeping? Not the most disturbing or violent behavior I've ever heard of. They could do worse things on your bus. But losing privacy during your breaks can irk, not to mention the hygiene issue, plus the nagging thought that these often aren't your regular homeless folks in between jobs and struggling as they look for work. If you think about it, nobody actually minds those homeless people. These guys are different.
I've been driving these peeps around in circles since 2010.
Brian gets drunker and drunker with each passing year. He could walk when I first met him. Ibrahim gets thinner and thinner, zonked out on the latest drugs. When no visible effort is being made to improve one's standards of living, the mind of the observer– you– can start going to a very dark place. I've wrestled with this because I think too much. I would think, "Guys, come on. You're so much better than this."
This is not a line of thought that has improved my interactions with these people.
It's counterintuitive, but I'm actually more helpful if I'm completely okay with the roles they've chosen for now. It's the Taoist principle: accept what is in front of you without wanting it to be any other way. Could they be happier? More useful to society? Obviously. But who am I to make that call?
Who looks at me, thinking what a waste, a university-educated boy doing service work just because he likes it, avoiding the responsibilities of parenthood, family, marriage, instead a thirty-something still playacting as a college student, living in a studio and making art, blowing his savings on film and photo paper?
This is what works for me.
A social worker friend once cautioned me to remember that people have different standards for what constitutes acceptable living. This is what works for them, right now. Maybe it's easier, simpler, and safer than a shelter. And what more deeply valuable act could I offer than to share my positivity to them: to make them feel human through respect and acknowledgement? I can do that more effectively if I'm not bemoaning their current state.
Whether I'm asking them to leave my bus or (less often) telling them they can stay, I try to give them that. The zest of acknowledgment. You do what you can in this crazy world; the rest, you have to laugh about. Sometimes I'm better at being positive if I don't ask too many questions. 'Cause you just don't know. At the end of the day, nobody really fits into a category. I wrote this in 2012, about sleepers on the 358 and the things I didn't know from looking at them. You just never know.
Footnote to the footnote: Night operators vis a vis sleepers: I recommend carrying Febreze, Lysol, cigarettes, Vic's Vapor Rub, and $5– not for what you think. Ask me why in person!
That was Footnote 1. Next post: skip-stopping and new operators!
She stepped aboard, wrinkling her nose. "What is that smell? Something's gone absolutely rancid in here!"
"Ooh, rancid," I said. "I love your word choice!"
"Well, that's what it is, ain't it?"
"You got that right, I s'pose."
I knew something was up, but I hadn't given it much thought. We were the 7. It's part of the contract. When you board a 7, you have to sign up for the fact that it might be loud, it might get unpleasant, or it might smell, erm, potent. But we make it through. Sometimes we even learn something. I thought the scent was Ibrahim in the back, rolling some Spice- not smoking it, you understand, just handling it. The stuff reeks. But it wasn't Ibrahim. Nor was it one of my two friends who happened to be riding that night, who thought he himself was the culprit; he was still sweating from the hot sun earlier.
It was Fish Guy.
"Fish Guy," my other friend said. "Over there."
The man in question, along with everyone else except my two friends (one an operator, the other a barista), had just left. We were at the Rainier Beach terminal.
"What?" I said. "That guy? I like that dude."
"Well yeah, me too," said my operator friend. "He's nice. But he smells terrible!"
My dear barista companion expounded. Turns out everyone knows Fish Guy. She, by somewhat remarkable happenstance, had ejected him from her café earlier the very same day. He'd been abusing their restroom.
"Wow," I said. "That dude?"
This happens to me semi-regularly. A lot of my acquaintances are characters– men– of the so-ruff-so-tuff urban street variety, and around me they're often on their best behavior. I respect them and they feel it, potently. I think they're great, because when I see them, they are.
Then I hear about them being horrible when I'm not around. But it's my job to put that aside. I know they're not always angels. I need to be naïve, in order to do what I'm doing correctly. In order to give them the positivity they're not getting elsewhere. I'm lucky that way, able to offer a space that can be loitered in, soiled, that I don't have to clean up.
Fish Guy is one of what I call the Non-Destination Passengers. Most people ride buses in order to go somewhere. What a novel idea. Non-Destination Passengers are different. They're more like me; they see the bus as a destination in its own right, a living room of sorts. It's safer than a shelter, easier to get into, you're less likely to get robbed, and there are no bedbugs. Terrific.
As an operator, there's no great urgency to pick these guys up, since they're not actually going anywhere, but neither do you want to pass them all by, effectively dumping them on your follower. That's bad manners. Plus, I like having a few faces on the bus who know me. It's proved helpful. Waking them up can be a hassle (but so can letting them sleep– you become a roving hotel and don't have room for your Destinational Passengers), but if your biggest problem of the night is waking up sleepers, you're doing great.*
Tonight I only have half a trip left, from the bottom of Rainier Valley back up to Vietnamtown/Chinatown. I'm two minutes in front of my follower, Sean, who still has several hours left in the night to drive. He and I have a routine.
It's called the "Shake'n'Bake." To make his life easier, he and I skip-stop our way up Rainier, alternating the stops we serve and splitting the passenger load between ourselves, thus speeding up the travel time for both coaches.** It's beautiful.
"Shake'n'bake?" Sean asked, at the terminal.
"Let's do this!" I responded excitedly. I love helping other operators.
I turned the corner, arriving at what is basically the first stop inbound. Naturally, Fish Guy was there, waiting to go back up the street. So were a bunch of other people. Sean would be here in a minute or so.
"There he is! Just like you said!" I exclaimed to my operator friend, still onboard. I began slowing down.
"Skip this, I don't wanna smell that all over again!"
"Do we give him to Sean?" I asked.
"Give him to Sean!"
"I can't give him to Sean. Sean has to work five more hours. I'm off in thirty minutes!"
"Actually, Sean'll skip him too. That means he goes to Amy." Amy's a newbie, and Sean's follower in tonight's sequence. She's delightful.
"Oh my gosh," I said, "I'm not giving this guy to Amy! That's... no. Sorry guys. I'm gonna get him. Is that cool?" I started laughing. "We can't give him to Amy, are you kidding me? Plus Sean's a nice guy, he has other stuff to worry about."
I opened the doors. Did he reek? I won't say he didn't. I think I've developed a tolerance. But he wasn't a bed of roses, let me tell you.
"Hey, my friend," I yelled, holding my breath by reflex. "Come on back in!"
He grinned, gathering his coat in handfuls, slinging a bag and backpack over a tattered shoulder and slithering in through the doors. I can hardly remember the colors of his clothing; he was beyond color. With enough debris and forgotten time, green, black and brown begin to take on the same meaning.
I love the sensation of helping my fellow brothers and sisters behind the wheel. I'd like to say it's selfless, but who can deny the altruistic high of magnanimous acts? Who will tell me it doesn't feel fabulous? There are worse impulses to act on. My friends were both dears, and understood completely.
But that wasn't the main reason I welcomed Fish Guy. The primary reason stemmed from brotherhood of a different sort. I knew him from before these folks did. I knew him before he was Fish Guy. I flashed to the first night I took note of him:
He was a chubby dark-skinned man, Haitian maybe with the accent, balding, in tatters, being detained by two police officers.
"Just one second if you would," the one said to me, as I waited with open doors at Fifth and Jackson. "This guy matches a description... we gotta sort something out here."
"Sure thing, officer," I said.
I listened to the detainee. He was monologuing, and I gradually put together what was going on:
"I am not that type of man. You ask him when he get here, tell him to look at me. Let him look at my face. I didn't do it. I do not rob people. I am a responsible man! I look after myself! I no get in other's people's affairs. I am not that guy. I look like this, yes. You think because I am homeless... tell him to look at my face. You looked at my bags. I do not steal from others. I am not that guy."
Finally, a young white man appeared, unkempt, baseball cap and curly hair. The cop looked at him, nodding. Baseball Cap looked at the speaker.
"No, huh-uh," Baseball Cap said.
"All right," said the cop to the detainee. "You're free to go."
"Thank you," our man rumbled. "You have a good night!"
"You as well!"
That moment will be what always first comes to mind when I see him. He was a man trying to prove he was who he was.
And he was right.
*The footnotes were getting too long– and too interesting! They've been expanded into an upcoming post. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: The book will be available for sale online soon. If you would like a copy immediately, email me directly.
This isn't the New York book. This is different. This is smaller, but you want it that way. This is special, private, exclusive.
You may remember that I'm represented by Eric Myers, of Myers Literary Management, in New York. Eric Myers is a mensch and a man ahead of the curve, because he believes, accurately, that what people want now are books that celebrate compassion, especially between those of diverse ethnic, economic and class backgrounds. There's a trend in books that's on the point of tipping into burgeoning being.
In these divisive times, snarky outrageousness has become ordinary. When snarky outrageousness is ordinary, the new radicality can only be nuance and kindness. Acceptance. I don't know how we got to where these things have become refreshing and unusual, but that is where we are, and Mr. Myers, mensch that he is, has had to suffer what all forward-thinking trailblazers must endure: those who are afraid to deviate from the status quo.
Realists are forever doomed to mediocrity, Lukas Richter once told me, because they lack the necessary naivete to believe in the possibility of great things happening. Trailblazers find this boring and tiresome, but we know it's part of the game. We put up with doors closing in our faces for months or years on end, because we know. Eric and I are just waiting around for the publishing world to catch up. The blog's enthusiastic readership, media interest, and my platform all indicate how well a national book would do- especially as all major cities in the US are currently experiencing the issues I discuss here. Not to mention the reception from you thousands of readers, who daily tell me how meaningful the blog is, how rare, how hard it is to find material that offers a similar sensation: an authentic view of real human kindness and positive possibilities. But, alas.
You won't be surprised to hear the big houses are not the most adventurous of risk-takers. As ever though, Eric's a man ahead of the curve, and I applaud him for taking a stand in that lonely place. It's how things get done. Nobody, not one soul, was ever remembered for sticking with the status quo.
While he and I wait around for New York to figure out that people like reading about people being nice to each other, I have a surprise for you.
I'm releasing a limited-run book version of my blog that will, as of this writing, be available for one day only, and only in person.
As I said above: this isn't the New York thing. This is a treat for those of you in Seattle, and a gesture of my gratitude.
My solo art show on October 13, hosted at ArtForma, is also a book launch. If you're there, you'll have the opportunity to buy (for a mere $20, to cover print costs) a book that celebrates the best of what my blog has to offer.
This won't be your standard best-of-the-blog narrative compilation of the most popular stories (that's what the New York book would be). No, this is more exclusive than that. These are the deep cuts. The bootlegs. Call them what you want: the stories that are particularly precious to me, the little treasures that longtime readers know are buried in the depths of my blog, and remain impossible to find again. It's my own personal curation of the site, and even if a national book is published in the future, there won't be any overlap in stories (with literally thousands of them, there's no need). These are the special stories.
I'm also happy about this book because it's the fruit of collaborations with artist friends I care about. If you're involved in graphic design in Seattle, you've heard of Tom Eykemans, a book designer at Lucia | Marquand and formerly UW Press. He's a friend of mine, and a genius: the book's design is inspired by a bus schedule, and it will be published by Tome Press. Jacqueline Volin is a longtime editor and was the editing, design, and production manager at UW Press. She has performed here with aplomb on editing duty. And if my enthusiasm isn't good enough, we have endorsements from the Seattle Review of Books' Paul Constant, Fresh Ground Stories' Paul Currington and the Stranger's Charles Mudede.
People have been asking about a book version of the blog for years. In an age where anything is searchable, knowable and buyable, it's the stuff you can't get with a click that has unique value. The stories I write celebrate authentic kindness happening in real life between real people. It only makes sense for the book to premiere in the tangible world, in the elemental truthfulness we were born in a bath of. People talking to each other in a room. While Tom and I hope to make the book available both online and through a bookstore in the future, we can't guarantee with any certainty that'll happen, and due to the personal nature of this venture, I’m doubtful.
But for at least one day, it will exist. I want to put this book into your hands– in person.
See you Saturday, October 13th.
(Details and location here)
All the Nathan Interviews
Photo by Sam Smith.
An update to the site today– a new page that links to all the various interviews with me from over the years, divided up by format– television, radio, print and more. Check it out here!