Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions!

If you're a FIMP Book of the Month subscriber, and you haven't made those all-important New Year's Resolutions yet, don't worry! FIMP to the rescue! You will soon receive "New Year's Resolutions: or How to Be a Better Person". Now, the post office is closed tomorrow, and I think it just might be closed Tuesday too, so the books will go out Wednesday, which may mean you have to float aimlessly in 2007 for a week or so. But soon enough all will be well, and you will be able to stride confidently into the future knowing that you have made those changes necessary to be healthier, smarter, and better.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Temporary technical difficulties, please stand by

The Fiji Island Mermaid Press mothership,, is moving to a roomier server in order to provide you with more images and pages and such in the future. Unfortunately, for the next day or two, most of my images on the web and the FIMP website itself will be out of commission. Tragic, yes, but necessary. It will all be sorted out soon, don't worry.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sharpie on newsprint

A few of you may recall that a couple of months ago the "Book of the Month" was "Baby Monitor". When I was working out the pages for that book I made this quick thumbnail sketch with a Sharpie marker on newsprint. I liked it, and stuck it up on my wall, and today I noticed how the newsprint was burning itself up as newsprint does, so I thought I'd scan it and share it with y'all.

If you're celebrating anything this time of year, or even if you're not, I hope you have a fantastic finish to 2006!

Monday, December 18, 2006

If you were to step into my studio. . .

this is the "still life" you would find.

If you want to see the painting/drawing made from this pitiful little suspended plane, visit the Zero Sum Art Project blog.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Zero Sum #4

It's Zero Sum #4! See it "life size" by visiting the Zero Sum Art auctions. A very odd little drawing, with a toy plane and a diagram demonstrating nose to mouth resuscitation. Life's like that, y'know. . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This is why the internet was invented.

I just needed to share this with you:

I saw this first at a delightful blog, plastique monkey, which is well worth a visit while you're making your cyber rounds today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Keep this man busy!

John Azoni needs your help. He needs you to come up with a task for him to perform. That's right, you tell him what to do, and he just might do it.

I like this project a lot. It involves both collaboration, and the setting up of a rather absurd situation involving rules to be followed. Both things that I play with a lot. So help the guy out, and give him a task or two.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The continuing adventures of the Zero Sum Art Project

Zero Sum Art #3

Things are bumping merrily along at the Zero Sum Art Project. Here's Zero Sum #3. Learn all about it, and even bid on it, by visiting the Zero Sum #3 auction.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Got My Game Face On

Subscribers to the FIMP Book of the Month Club should be on the lookout for "Got My Game Face On", which went to the post office this morning.

While you're out and about on the web, you might want to check out the auction for Zero Sum #2.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Zero Sum Art Project

I've started a new little thing called the "Zero Sum Art Project", exploring the strange alchemy involved in turning base materials into art. If you want to learn more, or be on the ground floor and own the first little Zero Sum drawing, visit my new eBay account made specifically for this event, at zero_sum_art.

Update: I've created a separate Zero Sum Art blog to record all of the ins and outs of this project in absurdly obsessive detail, for your blogging pleasure.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hey Mom and Dad!

If your kid really wants a Sony PlayStation for Christmas, and the store is all sold out, DON'T try giving him a Home Weather Station instead:

Surprisingly enough, most kids can tell the difference.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Collaboration through Containment

The old Lockhart prison was built in the early 1900's and was still in use until the mid-1980's. The most interesting part of the building is the graffiti still on the walls from the prisoners who were incarcerated in the small prison. I like how the craquelature of the paint adds an association with historic oil paintings - thus unconsciously elevating the perception of the graffiti to that of traditional "high art." Additions from different prisoners over time creates an interesting collaboration and conveys the passing of time in the small cells as writings and images add to each other and start to overlap.

I think the art work is fascinating - what would you paint/draw/carve into the walls if you were locked in a small iron cell?

More photos from the prison can be seen here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

FIMP at the Literary Marathon.

If you're in Pittsburgh Monday night, you might want to stop by the Gypsy Cafe at 1330 Bingham Street, South Side, for the Literary Marathon, the kickoff event to the Creative Non-Fiction Festival taking place this week. I'll be there between 10 and 11 pm with a "tiny book buffet", a bunch of FIMP's books available for your viewing and reading pleasure. Looks like fun!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Prof the linocut and Prof the book.

Still giddy from yesterday's "Howl" celebrations, I put up a new auction on eBay for both the "Prof" linocut you can find in the previous posts, and the first edition "Prof: one guy talking" by Bob Kunzinger that reproduces the linocut on the cover, and being in such a festive mood I started the auction at one measly cent.

It's a really great book, by the way. If you don't buy it from me with the original artwork, buy it from All Nations Press.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Howl is 50!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" by City Lights Bookstore! To honor the occasion, here's my linocut "Remarkable Collection of Angels".

First row: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth
Second row: Jack Kerouac, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure
Third row: Robert Kaufman, Richard Brautigan, Neal Cassady
Fourth row: William Carlos Williams, Robert Duncan, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Patchen, Gary Snyder
And on the far right, the City Lights Bookstore

And here's something else you gotta see. . .

Allen Ginsberg & Paul McCartney - Ballad of the Skeletons

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Startlingly Lifelike Tableaux!

The Fiji Island Mermaid Press has directed highly trained employees of the United States Postal Service to deliver "Startlingly Lifelike Tableaux: Illustrating dramatic moments from great works of literature" to the homes of FIMP Book of the Month subscribers. They are fanning across the country as this message is being typed. Isn't that something!

A cautionary note - the words "startlingly" and "dramatic" have been used rather, well, carelessly in the title of this month's book.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Tower of Babel

The joke that appears in subtitles in the final telling of the video is the original text, which was run several times through an online translation service. It was translated into Dutch, then French, then German, then back to English. You encounter 4 English versions in the video (two spoken and two in subtitles), which in order are the translations of the Dutch, French, German, and the original joke.

No wonder the world's a mess - we can't tell each other jokes. How could you translate "I can clearly see your (you're) nuts" in a joke, when it's only funny if "your" and "nuts" retain both of their meanings?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


For when you need to fix your chairs and get a sandwich. Seen in Fentress, TX.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Looking again

Robert Hirsch of Light Research sent this as a reply to looking. This is an image from his recent photographic work commissioned by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for its upcoming production of the opera Shining Brow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Return of the Cowboy

I am happy to say that the very large cowboy sign that had gone missing over a month ago has returned. The sign is a little different looking, but I am happy to see him back in place on my commute to work. I still don't know why the cowboy is there in the first place and there isn't even a driveway that I can see to go on the property. Something tells me that it wouldn't be a good idea to just hop the fence and start wandering around - as the cowboy reminds me, this is Texas (I'm still waiting to see my first baby stroller with a gun rack attached... I know it is out there somewhere)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How To Draw. . .

A Really Bad Day Bungee Jumping.
If you would like to see the entire image, just surf on over to the auction on eBay.

Welcome, little 300 millionth person!

FIMP would like to pause for a moment and welcome baby Miss or Mister 300 millionth person in the United States, who was born today at 7:46 a.m. ET. Congratulations! Welcome aboard! Do great things, and make us all proud. We're rooting for you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Digging Pitt

John Morris over on his Digging Pitt blog posts his thoughts on some of FIMP's books . Digging Pitt Gallery, by the way, is one of THE places to see works on paper in Pittsburgh - he maintains quite an extensive set of flat files, open to the public. Be sure to check 'em out if you're in town.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A new linocut and a strange postcard.

Should you need some new art in your life, you might want to visit FIMP's auctions on eBay. You'll find "Recital", a new linocut, a detail of which you see here, and a new "collaborative" postcard project. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Review of FIMP's Book of the Month Club

Shawn Hoke has reviewed several FIMP books on his "Size Matters" blog. Go check it out, along with his many other entertaining reviews of mini-comics!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Just try to keep things in perspective!

I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid, probably at one of the Smithsonian museums. I found it fascinating and a bit frightening:


Years later, another classic piece of film helped me deal with a similar problem of our place in the grand scheme of things:


Friday, October 06, 2006

From the Sports Desk here at FIMP News. . .

This morning my baby and I paused on our daily stroll to catch the kickball action at the local playground. At a particularly tense moment, the 3rd grader at the plate yelled to the pitcher as he was rolling the ball, "C'mon, put some pepper on that bitch!"

Someday I'm going to have to keep a straight face when I explain to my daughter how inappropriate that is. I'm just glad it wasn't today. I couldn't manage it yet.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

"baby monitor", FIMP's Book of the Month

Subscribers to FIMP's Book of the Month Club should be watching for "baby monitor" to arrive on their doorsteps soon. This one gets a little grim; I was thinking a lot about Peter Singer's essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" while composing it.

It's an essay worth reading. Boiled down to a single sentence you get:

"If it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it."

If that rings a bell, you might want to pay this website a visit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

draw a bird

how old are you when you realize the world doesn't actually work like this?

Monday, September 25, 2006


This is what happens when you go to a meeting, and a bunch of doctors start asking questions just to show off how smart they are.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Drawing a Day

I stumbled across this website called The Daily Drawing - the name being very self explanatory. The cartoonish drawings are fun to watch and strangely compelling as you watch the image evolve and come to completion in about five minutes. I like the monkey drawn with a mirror -

Seeing the website sadly made me realize that I can't remember the last time I was drawing every day. A reminder that making art ain't easy I guess.

If an apple a day keeps doctors away I wonder what a drawing a day will remedy?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And here it is. . .

The final print! The block has been cut a bit more since the scan was taken in the previous post - the first proofs looked really chunky. I managed to trim up some lines without cutting the little guy's head off, or some similar catastrophe, which made me happy.

And since we're getting rid of stressful suspense in this post, the answer to the Art Quiz from August 25 is Carolee Schneeman's "Interior Scroll". Yep, that's the scroll itself.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Suspense Builds. . .

Here's a "making of" sequence for you - I haven't printed the block for this new linocut yet, but it's ready to go.

I started with a bunch of thumbnail sketches like this one. This is going to be a book cover, so I had to plan on some white space at the top and bottom for the text. Pretty pathetic drawing, no? These quick sketches are just to start placing elements, thinking about what goes where, not trying to solve any of the drawing problems, just working on the composition. The whole stack of thumbnails were as unresolved as this, but they helped me decide what I wanted where.

Here's the "finished" drawing on the block. Before I start cutting the block I need to solve all of the perspective problems, and have a good sense of where my lights and darks are going to go. I don't actually resolve the drawing itself, as cutting with the gouge is quite a different visual language than what you get with the pencil. The "drawing" actually happens while I'm cutting the block, making decisions about line direction and weight.

And here's the block, that I just finished cutting about five minutes ago. The finished print will be reversed, but you get a sense here of the translation from pencil to gouge. You never know what it'll look like until ink hits paper, though. Will it stay or will it go? Stay tuned. . .

Thursday, September 14, 2006



A conversation about wanting the window seat over the aisle in an airplane reminded me of this photograph I took when flying into Austin. About 40 miles southeast of Austin a large (I mean very large) plot of land has been cleared so that the remaining trees spell out "LUECKE" - the landowner's name. Allegedly the project resulted from a dispute between the county government and the landowner. There are no good explanations for "why?" and "how?" but somehow the owner could keep as much of the land that he put to use.

Besides being a landmark for pilots and a location hunt for google earth users, NASA uses the letters to calculate "spatial resolution for lower contrast vegetation boundaries" in images taken from space.

Check out the bottom of the page for their technical uses of the 3,000 foot letters.

A commenter on Google Sightseeing calculated the font to be a 1,468,800 point size.

The moral of the story is that window seats are more entertaining.

the anthem's birthday, and a Pittsburgh opening

Today's the birthday of the United States' National Anthem. To celebrate I would suggest visiting the U. S. State Department's website to test your Spanish skills with their translations of the Star-Spangled Banner.

If you're near FIMP's new home town of Pittsburgh tonight, you should swing by the Digging Pitt Gallery for the opening receptions of two exhibitions, a solo show by Kate Temple and a show of 20 artists that are scattered across the country that share the common bond of once calling Pittsburgh their home.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shoe Tree

Some days I spend a great deal of time just driving around hoping to find something to photograph that I can put in the paper. In the business this is called "feature photos" or the more fun name "wild art."

In Martindale, TX I was checking out a newly marked cemetery from the late 1800's when I came across the shoe tree. It's right by the road that will take you through downtown. I did some google searches about "shoe trees" and found that most commonly a shoe tree is just a tree covered by shoes that have been tied together by their laces and swung into the branches. Martindale's self proclaimed shoe tree is more of a fence post with shoes attached via 12 penny nails. Where do these shoes come from? Why do they meet such a violent sacrificial end? It's like a footwear crucifixion.

The best explanation I can find has to do with Martindale's proximity to the San Marcos River - a waterway infested with people partaking in the summertime activity known as "tubing." For those not familiar this involves going somewhere upstream, renting a large inner tube, hanging one's bottom in the river and usually tying on a foam cooler full of beer to keep you "hydrated." Float for several hours and have someone pick you up downriver.

During the floating shoes are commonly lost, and since shoes usually float, they wash up on the banks of the river. Residents collect the stray sneaker or flip-flop and make a contribution to the shoe tree. I feel like this shoe tree is a symbol that summer is ending (it's still 95 here, so it's not fall yet, no matter what month it is.). The footwear collection has reached it's seasonal peak and will now weather the winter and wait for new sacrifices from the river revelers.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

art and the Piggly Wiggly

A discussion of who is and is not an artist over on Edward Winkleman's blog reminded me of an experience I had in Milledgeville, Georgia, about 15 years ago. While standing in the check-out line at the local Piggly Wiggly (yes, the Piggly Wiggly) I was a little startled to see a very large, very dead hog, draped with a cloth, with one hoof dangling and bobbing over the edge of its gurney, being rolled through the automatic doors at the front of the store. At the time I thought (hypocritically, FIMP's resident philosopher would say, considering the meat that I'm sure I was buying at the time) "isn't this one of the reasons they have delivery entrances in supermarkets?".

In 1994, Damien Hirst created this sculpture, titled "Flock", from steel, glass, formaldehyde, and lamb. He made quite a stir with this work, which was accompanied by sculptures featuring bisected cows and a preserved shark.

It just goes to show that Marcel Duchamp had it right when he showed us that art is whatever the artist says it is. If you agree to that, you're still left with the question of who is an artist. An artist is the person who says "hey, look at this" and convinces someone else to look.

Now, whoever arranged that slaughtered pig on that gurney just so, with the hoof dangling over the edge, and decided to roll it through the front of the store, created a visual experience that was quite striking. I remember it with greater clarity than a lot of artwork I've seen in the years since. But no effort was made to dislocate that event from its surroundings and hold it up as art, removing it from the everyday Piggly Wiggly world and placing it in the artworld. The two things that were needed to change that supermarket performance into art were an artist - someone to say "wait, this is my statement, look at this" - and someone willing to watch.

What about detecting a spinal dural leak?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stories Philosophers Tell: Trolleys part 2

There is a runaway trolley racing toward five people and you can divert the trolley by colliding another trolley into it, causing both trolleys to derail before they reach the five people. The derailed trolleys will slide down a hill into a man's yard, killing him as he rests in his hammock. Should you derail the trolley?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stories Philosophers Tell: Trolleys

A runaway trolley is racing toward five people tied to the track. You are on a bridge over the track, and there is a very large man standing next to you whose weight would be enough to stop the train before it reaches the five people. Should you push him off the bridge in front of the train?

Word for Word

Jonathan Minton just released the latest issue of his superb "Word for /Word: A Journal for New Writing". Longtime FIMPers might remember that Word for /Word published an animated version of my book Small Change back in issue #5.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Short Short Fairy Tail Tale

Well, I noticed that the Artist's Books section on the Fiji Island Mermaid Press website has been getting a lot of visitors lately, specifically folks checking out one of the earliest books, A Short Short Fairy Tail Tale. Following FIMP's "we aim to please" policy, you will now find the entire book there. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Missing Cowboy

Here in Central Texas I drive between my home in Austin and Lockhart (just a bit south) to shoot photos for the local paper in Lockhart. When I started my drives for this job at the beginning of this year, I noticed a large cowboy sign on the side of the road near the halfway point of my journey. The cowboy is only visible when heading south, toward Lockhart. One cold late February evening I stopped to photograph the cowboy. I felt like it was a symbol for Texas. Is it just coincidence that the cowboy is racing westward and can only be seen when traveling south?
Recently, I noticed that the cowboy is gone - the intersection of the small road and highway (Briarpatch Ranch & HWY 183) goes unnoticed now. I miss the cowboy sign - if anyone knows the whereabouts of a 25 foot tall cowboy on horseback, let me know.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Guerilla Poets and a Singing President

The Guerilla Poetics Project is starting to heat up. The goal is to find a wider audience for the small press, one reader at a time. The method is to tuck beautifully letterpressed broadsides in books at bookstores and libraries, targeting certain titles as being most likely to be picked up by folks that need to know about the great stuff going on in the world of the small press. The project is just in its infancy, and I hope it really takes off!

In the other things you just have to see department, take a moment to admire this video of George W. Bush singing "Sunday, Bloody Sunday".

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'll hate to see it go.

When FIMP's resident philosopher Paul Moriarty was visiting the other day, he looked at our Phrenology head and said "I wonder who will break it first, the dog or the baby?". Ever since then I've been a bit wistful looking at it, as Paul seemed pretty certain about its fate, and his prediction seemed pretty reasonable. But it's an ill cloud that blows no silver linings (or something), and in this case my pre-loss nostalgia has got me thinking about what an odd and wonderful thing the Phrenology head is, this relic of discarded science, and you can probably look for it in some sort of role in an upcoming Book of the Month.

Monday, August 28, 2006

John Cage, Stand-Up Comic

FIMP Book of the Month Club subscribers will be receiving "John Cage: Stand-Up Comic" in their mailboxes soon. FIMP has uncovered previously unknown footage of John Cage's very brief career in comedy, and we're bringing it to you, because that's what we do.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Here's your Art Quiz. . .

While spending an entertaining afternoon at the Andy Warhol Museum the other day I encountered this object in The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene 1974 - 84. Anyone recognize it? It's sort of a leftover bit from a well known performance piece. This particular artifact points to the challenge that performance art poses to collectors - what do you buy after the performance? What's there to collect?

The whole show seemed to swing somewhere between art and documentation of the "scene", so this seems like a nice piece to highlight. Should the mystery object not be identified in the comments I'll fill you in somewhere down the road. . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Joseph Beuys killed the radio star

FIMP Book of the Month Club subscribers will remember that a few months ago I attempted to explain Joseph Beuys' "How To Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare" to my dog.

Fortunately, I didn't try to explain this:

Joseph Beuys: Sonne Statt Reagan

Old pillow case

A lady came into my office and said, "I'm like an old pillow case . . . you can iron it, and it looks all pretty, but when you look inside it, you will see all the frayed fibers hanging down."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome to the Fiji Island Mermaid Press blog

The FIMP blog will post all things fimpish - bits of news related to the goings-on of the artists at the Fiji Island Mermaid Press, and items that might be of interest to that type of intelligent, inquisitive, art-loving and discerning person who subscribes to the FIMP Book of the Month Club.

Be sure to visit the homepage of the Fiji Island Mermaid Press!