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If you're a zinester, you make zines! If you are new to zines and have never made one: zines are usually handmade paper booklets that anyone can create. Want to give it a try? Here are some directions for turning one piece of paper into a basic zine: a version to view online or a version to print. See below for more resources about making zines and books.

Whether zines are a new idea or an old friend for you, the library abounds with inspiration and resources for your creative project! Consider these:

Crap Hound 8 - Superstitions

The Central Library Picture File is an astounding resource: thousands upon thousands of magazine and book clippings, organized by subject. These can be checked out and photocopied or scanned (you can’t cut them up and paste them in your zine, though!). Do you need the perfect picture of a bluebird, or an ancient computer, or children’s clothes from the 1960s? Look no further! Ask about the Picture Files at the Art & Music reference desk on Central Library’s third floor.

Of course clip art can be found online, but clip art books are a pleasure to browse and use. Many of these come with a CD containing image files that you can download to your computer for resizing, editing, etc. A real gem of a clip art resource is found in the series of books called Crap Hound - each volume is created around a theme or cluster of themes (Superstition; Church & State; Hands, Hearts, & Eyes are a few), and the images are laid out in the most appealing, artful way.

Women of Color zine #12
The library’s zine collection is full of examples of zines and minicomics made by zinesters and artists from near and far. Zines can be browsed online in the library catalog (use the subject heading Zines or search by author or title, or try our book lists), placed  on hold, and checked out just like other library materials. I recently read the most recent issue of Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks , a collective zine made by a group in Portland - the theme of this issue, #12, is zines! It contains comics, diagrams, and short prose pieces, perspectives on making zines and community. It's really great.

How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith
For more technical information about making zines and books, you might enjoy browsing some of our books about bookbinding - I recently stumbled upon How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith, which has instructions and lovely illustrations for a range of homemade books, from instant zines and accordion books to more elaborate stitched books and Coptic binding.

Portland has an amazing zine community. Here are two local resources you must know about:

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) has a gigantic and wonderful zine library, classes, and tons of equipment that members can use to make zines: typewriters, art and printmaking supplies, computers, scanners, and of course, copy machines. 

The Portland Zine Symposium is a local event, held annually in July, where zinesters gather to show, sell, and trade their publications. There are workshops, panels, and discussions about zines, independent publishing and DIY culture - it's free, and really fun and inspiring. 

Casey Jarman is a music critic, writer and illustrator, contributing to The Believer, Willamette Week and Portland Monthly, among others. His latest work is Death: An Oral History,  a collection of conversations with people on the  topic of death. He will be talking about his new book at Wordstock, Nov. 5 at the Portland Art Museum and at Powells on Oct. 27 at 7:30 pm.

I wrote a book about death partly because I was sick of writing about music. That’s my background, for the most part: writing profiles of and doing interviews with musicians. I’m a nerd about songwriters and music production, but I thought I needed to write about something that shook me up a bit and challenged me. So I pitched a book of interviews about death, and I was lucky enough to have an editor go for it.

When I started the book, almost two years ago, I interviewed a retired Catholic priest in Eugene. We had a lovely conversation — it didn’t make it into the final book, but it still floats to the forefront of my mind often. When I got into my car to leave the church where we spoke, I tuned the radio to the local college radio station. The DJ was playing “Farewell Transmission” by Magnolia Electric Company. I felt a sort of buzz go through my body as Jason Molina, who himself died a pretty dismal death in 2013, sang “The real truth about it is / There ain't no end to the desert I'll cross / I've really known that all along.” And then, “I will be gone, but not forever.”

This sort of thing kept happening. The deeper I got into these intense interviews, the more I noticed themes of death and grief coming up in the music I loved. I started hearing these songs in a new light, because of the really personal discussions I was having with people. So I started keeping a list of songs that addressed death in a thoughtful way, and I started daydreaming about making a Death Mixtape that I could hand out after readings or discussions. Readings and discussions make me pretty nervous, but sharing a compilation of songs I love, that’s a joy. So here it is!

There are a lot of sappy, sentimental songs about death. There’s a time and place for those, I’m sure, but I haven’t found that time or place just yet. The songs on this list are funny or pretty or abstract. I tried to leave out songs that we’ve all heard a thousand times. Leonard Cohen doing “Hallelujah” is no less a wonder because we’ve all heard it a hundred times, but hopefully you'll find something new here.

1. “Poor Bastard,” Kyle Morton

The opening track from the Typhoon frontman’s recent solo debut, What Will Destroy You, finds its protagonist regaining consciousness in the midst of his own funeral. When he springs from his coffin, he announces, “I’m feeling so much better now, I want to thank you all for coming out — though premature, it truly means the world.” It’s a darkly funny tune, but the arrangement is deeply melancholy. Morton has spent years writing insightful songs about mortality, but this might be the first time he’s used an absurdist comic fantasy to get into it. It reminded me that many of the deepest and most moving conversations I had about death, while working on this book, also involved a lot of laughter.

2. “Undertaker,” Bry Webb

A brooding gothic folk tune with a funeral dirge brass arrangement that probably should have landed on the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack at some point. This one really only has a vague narrative, but I believe it. A small-town undertaker singing “all my enemies come back to me” gets me every time.

3. “This Woman’s Work,” Kate Bush

It’s so shocking to me that Bush wrote this incredible song for a mediocre John Hughes film starring Kevin Bacon. Ostensibly about complications during childbirth, to me it reads like a song about the frantic and overwhelming pause before grief. It has these cascading moments of sheer panic and confusion — I’m reminded of discussions I had with Jana DeCristofaro about Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief refusing to proceed in an orderly fashion — but then it also has these distinct moments of clarity. It’s a wise and generous song.

4. “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” Bobby Bare

Like I said, there are many sappy country songs about death. This one, though — written by Tom T Hall — seems so honest and unvarnished. It’s a small story with little details that wouldn’t matter much to anyone but the narrator. It’s not a big sentimental number about some great American — it’s about a random guitar player that just made an impression on Hall when he was a kid.

5. “I Seen a Man Die,” Scarface

There are certain MCs who function more like journalists or ethnologists than entertainers, and Scarface is one of those. Even for him, “I Seen a Man Die” is a pretty deep dive. The third and final verse is especially striking: It’s basically Scarface coaching a young man through the process of dying, which reminded me a lot of talking with Katherine MacLean about guiding her sister to the unknown. Scarface’s version: “I hear you breathing but your heart no longer sounds strong / But you kinda scared of dying so you hold on / And you keep on blacking out because your pulse is low / Stop trying to fight the reaper just relax and let it go”

8. “Living Without You,” Randy Newman

It’s unclear whether the titular “You” in this song is deceased or just out of the picture, but it’s an incredibly visceral grief that a young Randy Newman touches on here, and it certainly translates to bereavement. Plain and direct and brutally honest. “Nothing’s gonna happen / Nothing’s going to change / Baby it’s so hard living without you.” The arrangement is totally flooring, too.

6. “King of Sorrow,” Sade

Thematically identical to “Living Without You,” only this has Sade’s notoriously sexy vocals and smooth production attached. “I’m crying everyone’s tears” is one of the most open-ended and compelling lyrics I can think of, though, and the total disregard for gender conformity in the chorus is something I greatly enjoy.

7. “Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San,” John K Samson

I don’t know how you write a believable song from the perspective of a dying man when you’re not dying, but I think this is one. I do know that in Samson’s case, there was a lot of research about the actual Ninette Sanatorium in Manitoba. (On the same album, he also writes a song from the perspective of a graduate student who’s researching this Sanatorium, so it all gets very meta.)

9. “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow,” Joni Mitchell

Good to get a little funky ’round the middle of the mixtape. “Death and birth and death and birth!”

10. “Joy & Pain,” MAZE

I got to see Maze in 2012. It was a life-changing event. This is a marquee song for the band. It’s healing in its simplicity. It also keeps the funky middle-bit of the mixtape going strong.

11. “Dead Slate Pacific,” John Vanderslice

A song about mental health, suicide, and anxiety. Different readings could make it feel guilt-trippy or sweet. After years of hearing it, I’m still not sure which reading I subscribe to.

12. “Priests and Paramedics,” Pedro the Lion

I talked to Pedro co-founder David Bazan about this song, wherein a paramedic debates whether it would be best to tell a dying man that he’s dying or not, and a priest decides to reveal his own battle with depression mid-eulogy. He felt like he should have given the story another twist. But I like it just the way it is, Bazan’s bleak vocals and all. If you haven’t checked it out, Control is one of the great rock records of its era.

13. “Funeral Song,” Laura Gibson

I won’t claim to know what Gibson, a dear friend of mine, is getting at here. To me, it sounds like a story about the whole world — even inanimate objects — coming together to mourn. And there’s something very pretty about that, beyond Gibson’s great voice and playing.

14. “Even The Good Wood Gone,” Why?

I thought this was a nice bookend to pair with “Poor Bastard.” Instead of waking up in his casket, this song’s protagonist wakes up as a museum pharaoh with a “No Flash Photography” sign hung around its neck. Songwriter/frontman Yoni Wolf’s transition from rebirth to a much less exotic death is pretty compelling, too. Something about the whimsical, baroque instrumentation here just does it for me, too.

Walk a mile in someone else's shoes, even if you're commuting by bus. These audiobooks are available on demand, through Hoopla, with your library card. Happy listening.

The Night Circus arrives without warning. What was an empty field by day becomes transformed by night. A city of tents appears as if by magic, drawing people through the dusk to the soft-twinkling lights and the smell of warm caramel in the air. When the guests arrive, they hardly know where to go first. One tent contains a frozen world of ice and snow all in shades of white and silver, making the visitor feel as though he has been transported into his own personal snow globe. In another a mysterious woman reads the future in her cards. In another, guests climb to the top of the tent by way of  a maze of soft clouds and, reaching the top, gently float back down to the ground.

Le Cirque des Reves showcases the purely fantastical next to the usual entertainments one might expect - the contortionists, the jugglers and of course, the magicians. What the guests don't realize is that the night circus exists only incidentally as a place to while away an evening: the circus is really a giant game-board. At its center are two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who are destined to compete in a battle to out-magic one another, a battle that will lead to the death of one.

Though Erin Morgenstern's book is already in high demand, it is well worth the wait. The Night Circus is a delectable treat of a novel, a fantastical, almost architectural dessert that is almost too beautiful to eat, but you won't be able to resist.

Hey, everyone, I'm David F. Walker. I write graphic novels (or if you prefer, comic books — it's all the same to me). I grew up reading comics (mostly Marvel), and to this day, I still love the medium. At any given time, I have stacks of comics and graphic novels all over my home, waiting to be read and reread. I'm a sucker for a good Young Adult novel, as I also dabble in YA. I love history, so I often spend what little free time I have watching documentaries. When I am not reading or writing comic books, I'm a filmmaker, journalist, and educator. My work includes Power Man and Iron Fist, Nighthawk (Marvel), Shaft: A Complicated Man, Shaft’s Revenge (Dynamite), Cyborg (DC), Number 13 (Dark Horse Comics), and the YA novel, Super Justice Force: The Adventures of Darius Logan, Book One.

Here are my picks:

The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Perhaps the greatest book I have ever read. There isn’t much more than that to say. It makes me laugh out loud. It makes me cry. It makes me want to be a better writer.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Two incredible examples of the storytelling possibilities found in the graphic novel medium, which serve as companion pieces to a larger story. I recommend reading Boxers first, but that’s not as important as reading both.

Eyes on the Prize – DVD

Produced back in the 1980s, this multi-part PBS documentary is the greatest jumping-off point for learning about the Civil Rights in America. In a perfect world, families of all stripes would sit and watch this together.

Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

I love a good YA book (perhaps because I suffer from a case of arrested development). Whatever the case. The Chaos Walking series (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men) is probably my favorite YA series. Ness is an incredible writer, and this series is riveting.

Will Eisner’s New York – Life in the Big City by Will Eisner

My absolute favorite comic book creator of all time, Eisner is best known for creating The Spirit, and some historians credit him with creating what we now know as the graphic novel. This collection of stories is the Eisner I love the most – a brilliant example of how image and text can become literature.

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick

One of my favorite comic series currently being produced, it is a hard-hitting, hilarious, radical bit of speculative fiction that finds non-complying women sentenced to a prison on another planet. DeConnick and her creative team are dangerous in the best way possible.

The Central Park Five – DVD

Living in New York City in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is difficult to describe the climate of what it was like to be young and black in a city that feared you. The infamous Central Park Park Rape case explains it with unflinching humanity, examining the gross miscarriage of justice that ocurred when five black teenagers were sent to prison for a heinous crime none of them committed.

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor

Combining two forms of expression that I absolutely love – comic books and hip hop, Piskor’s exhaustive historical narrative is a revelation. Four volumes in, this is the graphic novel done brilliantly.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

I saw an ad for this YA book in, of all places, a comic book. Having read Higson’s Young Bond series, I decided to give this a shot. I can only describe this as The Walking Dead meets The Lord of the Flies – and there are five more books in the series.

Concrete Park by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander

One of the most over-looked graphic novels of the last several years, both volumes of Concrete Park are works on incredible art. Set on a planet billions of miles from Earth, where people of color and other minorities have been exiled, the series is as brutal as it is beautiful.

The Legend of the Mantamaji by Eric Dean Seaton

Eric Dean Seaton’s three-volume graphic novel series delivers to the superhero the diversity that is sadly lacking from so many other comics. The struggle to find true diversity in works of pop culture continues to be an uphill battle, but this series is a refreshing example of how to do it properly.

Slavery By Another Name – DVD

This PBS documentary is equally engrossing and heartbreaking, as it traces how slavery never really ended in the Untied States, it just became something else. This is one of those “missing” pieces of history that helps to explain the horrific inequities we see in this country, based on race and class.

A Band Called Death – DVD

On the surface, this a documentary about a forgotten proto-punk band being rediscovered after years of languishing only in the fading memories of a few people. But it is so much more. It is about family, and love, and commitment to your art, and how the key to immortality is art.

Moshow the Cat Rapper is passionate about many things: cats, cat ladies, music and creativity. He dropped by the library to share some of his favorite songs with us.

4 favorite songs from Moshow the Cat Rapper

  1. "Handy Man" on JT by James Taylor. 
  2. "By Your Side" on Lovers Rock by Sade.
  3. "Blue Light" on Silent Alarm and streaming by Bloc Party.
  4. Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne
 
Oh, and Sushi's favorite book? The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle.

 

Amanda Morgan is an architect who'd love to design a library someday, and Karen Munro is a librarian who'd love to live in a house made of books. Together, they host Silent Reading Party, a monthly gathering of Portlander

s who like to read together in companionable quiet, with a cocktail. Silent Reading Parties are two hours long, so here is Amanda and Karen's list of books you can read in two hours. (Pick one up just in time for their ticketed edition SRP on the deck of the Society Hotel on August 14th.)

1. I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane
The Neversink series from independent publishers Melville House has brought new life to scores of wonderful books.  MacLane’s amazingly-titled feminist memoir was written in 1902 when she was just a teenager living in Butte, Montana.  The book was a huge bestseller in its time and has been described as riveting, shocking, sensational and deeply heartfelt.  If MacLane’s not your cup of tea, check out the full Neversink Library for tons of other great two-hour reads.

2.  Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Rankine’s book — part personal essay, part poetry, part catalog of visual art — took the literary world by storm when it was published last year.  In the context of police violence toward black Americans and growing tension around race relations, Rankine writes about her own experiences as a black woman and the ways in which blackness and black people are represented in the media.  A short book to dwell on for a long time.

3.  Commencement and other speeches:

Fantastic Mistakes: The Make Good Art Speech by Neil Gaiman

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders

This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

Because commencement speeches must command departing grads’ waning attention spans, they’re usually brief, provocative, and inspirational. Fortunately for us, the best of these speeches  by some of our finest literary lights  have been published in slim volumes that can be easily read in a single sitting; yet they invite multiple readings with their insights on compassion, success, identity and creativity.

4.  The 33 ⅓ Series from 333Sound/Bloomsbury
Music nerds love this gorgeously packaged, wonderfully idiosyncratic series of slim but passionate paeans to a far-reaching range of essential albums. Each volume explores, in-depth, a single album, weaving broad cultural contexts with the authors’ personal milieus and obsessions. Some writers you’ll recognize, like Jonathan Lethem, who penned the excellent tribute to Talking Heads’ Fear of Music. Others, like Kembrew McLeod, who brings an academic rigor to his appreciation of Blondie’s Parallel Lines, may be new to general readers, though well-established in the world of cultural criticism. There are currently 115 titles in the series, meaning if you find yourself hooked and decide to read one each month, you’ll be bringing them with you to Silent Reading Parties well into 2018.

5.  Glaciers by Alexis Smith
We couldn’t pass up the chance to recommend Portland author Smith’s lyrical novella about a day in the life of a Multnomah County librarian. This lean volume gently seduces the reader into a dreamy reverie about love, loss and longing. The Portland of Glaciers, published in 2012, may well be receding into memory along with the ice formations of the title, so it’s especially poignant to have it preserved in such a lovely work.

6.  Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
If you’re looking for something light and comic, try this epistolary novel about a professor of the humanities struggling against what he sees as the encroaching forces of corporatization and commercialization in his university.  For such a short book, it’s surprisingly moving — and also so funny that it won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2015.


7.  The Face series by Ruth Ozeki, Tash Aw and Chris Abani (Not owned by MCL)
Another great venture from a small independent press — Restless Books recently launched an innovative series of short books titled The Face. Each book is one extended essay by an author considering his or her own face, and then following that topic wherever it leads.  Tash Aw, Ruth Ozeki and Chris Abani each offer thought-provoking titles that touch on globalization, identity, assimilation, and more.

8.  March by John Lewis


This three-book graphic memoir tells the story of the American civil rights movement through the eyes of veteran activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.  Beginning with lunch counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides and culminating in the 1963 “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma to Montgomery, March combines art and words to bring history to life.  Stack all three volumes on your lap and settle in for an amazing ride.   

9.  Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts

Arranging Things: A Rhetoric of Object Placement (not in MCL catalog)

Undesigning the Bath (not in MCL catalog)

Leonard Koren is an artist, architect and writer. His books are short, playful, sensual meditations on aesthetics, and his quiet insights are often broadly applicable to other creative pursuits  and even to the pursuit of simply living a beautiful life. If you’ve ever appreciated a perfectly arranged bouquet of wildflowers, or a thoughtfully curated group of objects on a table, or if you’ve had an “earthy, sensual, and paganly reverential” bathing experience, you’d likely find a kindred spirit in Koren.


10.  Rabbit by Victoria Dickenson, Bee by Claire Preston, Leech by Robert G.W. Kirk, Elephant by Dan Wylie, etc.
 If you like to slip out of the human world in your reading hours, consider this elegant series from small publishing house Reaktion Books.  Each title is by a different author and profiles a different animal — wolf, octopus, spider, shark — in a single engaging essay.  Pick your favorite beast and spend a couple of hours learning more about its habits and its world.

Stari most or The Old Bridge in Mostar, Herzegovina

I have been dreaming of the cobble-stoned streets of Mostar lately, the roads that lead to the Old Bridge arched above the icy blue waters of the Neretva.  I’ve been losing myself in the reminiscence of sleek winter coats warming young people crowding into hip sidewalk lounges and basement bars beneath neo-gothic facades in Sarajevo.  I miss Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I miss the friendly faces on survivors of terrors past and present; I miss the perseverance and the courage.  I miss my friends, young children during the war, that work long hours at NGOs to bring a fractured society back together amid 40% unemployment and politicians that often refuse to work together to provide even the most basic services.

Bosnia is a crossroads, a meeting place of Slavic people culturally influenced by both the Roman and Ottoman Empires, and so much more than a war following the disintegration of Yugoslavia.  Here are some great library materials to expand your knowledge of this beautiful country that rarely gets a fair shake.

Photo of John Brown
John Brown serves on the Street Roots Board of Directors and has been a Street Roots vendor since 2011. You can find him selling newspapers most days at the Food Front Food Cooperative Grocery in Hillsdale. He was named Vendor of the Year in 2015. A native of Michigan, John is a sports and theater fan. He shares five good books:
 
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar lee Masters
This collection of poems uses the voices of those buried in a rural graveyard to examine the interconnected lives of its citizens. The portraits of these mid-westerners are vivid and ironic, and Masters and his characters have influenced American literature from Sherwood Anderson to Thornton Wilder to Garrison Keillor.
 
The Quest for Karla was the original name of an ominbus collection of three novels, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyThe Honorable SchoolboySmiley’s People, by John le Carré
Three Cold-War espionage novels tell the story of an unlikely hero. George Smiley, a bland, near-sighted cuckold engineers the defection of a Soviet spymaster. Le Carré writes dazzling prose and just perfect dialogue.
 
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
A storm, a shipwreck, a remote island, an overthrown kingdom, the setup and the setting for this late romance by Shakespeare bring together young lovers, old enemies, a sorcerer, a beast, a clown, a sprite, a saint, gods and goddesses. The action of this play covers amazing tricks and maybe the most satisfying ending in the complete canon of Shakespeare. No one drowns.
 
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
A low-stakes comedy whose characters transcend their faults to achieve heroic stature. Steinbeck’s descriptions of Monterey, California, in the years after World War I are captivating. Flora, fauna, weather, commerce, crime, Heaven  all come alive. This is a short, vibrant novel that reads great, even when revisiting.
 
The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
This is a huge novel about two families in coal country early in the 20th century. Murder, adultery, justice and escape are presented for our “indiscrete observation.” Wilder’s third person voice is wise, authoritative and generous.

Louise Erdrich keeps getting better and better. Reading her new book, LaRose, I was awed by how the stories seem to bubble out of her in such interesting, complex profusion.

The main story is a tragic one, so tragic that it almost made me decide not to read this book. There are two families connected by blood and friendship, and both have sons who are five years old. One of the fathers is out hunting and accidentally shoots and kills his friends’ son. To atone, he decides to give his own son to the other family.

That’s where it starts, but there’s so much more. These families’ stories connect to the stories of other people in their community and to the stories of their Ojibwe ancestors. And all of these well-developed characters are voiced on the audiobook by Erdrich herself, who is perhaps the best audiobook narrator ever. Her quiet voice is just plain lovely to have in your earbuds, and she wholly captures the different characters’ voices, their humor and heart.

It’s a special experience, when writers read their own books for the audio version, and especially when they read them brilliantly. You’ll find more wonderful audiobooks read by their authors on this list. Please let me know if there are titles I’ve missed that should be on it.
 

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