Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some Advice To Transform Rockford From Zombie Logic Press

I haven't heard much from Transform Rockford lately. They started out like a house-a-fire. Having big idea meetings at the Coronado. Really being positive and encouraging the rest of us to hop into the positivity conga line. 

Not too many people were even curious where the money was coming from, or where it was eventually going to go. After all, they applied for 501c3 status, and who has the black heart to dare question a charity group trying to come up with good ideas to help spur a cultural and economic recovery in a city Forbes Magazine and others have repeatedly maligned as one of the dumbest, fattest, violent, most miserable cities in America?

See how I snuck the word "cultural" into the statement about recovery? I did that as a private joke, because no one was really discussing cultural recovery. 

There hasn't been much noise from Transform Rockford lately. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they are in a room somewhere scrupulously digesting all those good ideas they got from the public, and will return soon with a plan of action that is sculpted from the voices of many Rockfordians, and benefits the many instead of the few. 

Do I believe that is what is about to happen?

My mother indeed raised some spectacular dipshits, and I'm one of them, but I ain't that dumb.

Am I cynical enough to believe someone got paid a lot of money from a Federal grant to form this committee, went through the formality of holding a bunch of ostentatious public meetings, then will eventually produce some half-baked report with a bunch of super-duper positive recommendations that might help a few Chamber of Commerce types, but ultimately leave 99% of Rockfordians out of the money, again? 

Yes. That's kind of what I believe. 

Now, if Rockford really wanted advice on how to take a product nobody wants, everybody in fact has a disgust for, and selling to rational people is virtually impossible, they'd go ahead and ask me. I've been doing it at Zombie Logic Press for 17 years now. Lights are still on. Here's how I do it, and where I think Transform Rockford will step into the dung once again...

I make things. I also provide services for clients. Most of the people on planet Earth couldn't be any less interested in what I make, and that's fine. But at least I make a tangible product. 

And I keep the lights on. Sometimes I don't know why. Selling high-end books with complex ideas and high production values isn't exactly a booming business in America's 3rd least educated city. I sometimes wonder what would happen if the band of courageous musicians, artists, designers, and writers I know just left. I'm sure no one would notice at first, but then eventually people would start looking around and noticing an ugly, stupid, violent city was slowly becoming even more ugly, stupid, and violent. All the free art that has been donated by creators Downtown would dry up, and the Chamber of Commerce types might actually have to pay someone to do it. The people with actual degrees from out of town would be impossible to lure into such a dismal warzone. And nothing would ever get better. I wonder if supporting the Arts community that has been so noble in the face of impossible odds will be part of the Transform Rockford plan to transform Rockford into a place with some sort of basic human cultural literacy. Because I'll tell you one thing without holding a meeting: nobody with half a brain, or half a degree will come here if Rockford continues to be nothing more than a punchline on late night shows. 

I kind of lost track of what I wanted to say. Oh, buy some local art. 

Travis Legge makes movies. He also is the developer of a role playing game called Contagion. Imagine that, we have filmmakers right here in Rockford. 

Jenny Mathews makes art. One of my favorite things she makes are Mermaids

My favorite thing to make is poetry books. Lately I've been wanting to do more books by Rockford area writers. 

It's important to make stuff and do things when you want to make change. That's what almost everyone I know does. 

Here's a better piece about the money and apparent hypocrisy involved from RKFD News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Rockford Illustrating Company

This is what was The Rockford Illustrating Company at 317 Market Street, in Rockford, Illinois. From the website Rockford Reminisce I learned this site was built and occupied in 1899, and the Rockford Illustrating Company went great guns for decades, churning out postcards, maps, illustrating children's books, advertisements, and anything that needed to be drawn for their extensive list of Rockford clients, and the rest of the world. That building still stands, but The Rockford Illustrating Company is gone. However, there are still many talented artists and illustrators working in Rockford. People like Jesus Correa, Jenny Mathews, Corey Hagberg, Andy Whorehall, and dozens of others. Just yesterday afternoon I left the Zombie Logic Press headquarters on The Holmes Block here in lovely Downtown Rockford and saw Corey Hagberg putting a great deal of detail work into a series of murals of classic muscle cars for the car museum that will be opening shortly.

It's my very great fortune to work with the best of the lot, Jenny Mathews. One of my favorite projects we have worked on together is Tiny Drawing Poems, where we combine my poetry with her illustrations, sometimes starting with the poem, sometimes with me writing a poem after I see one of her Tiny Drawings. We've done about twenty of these. Batphone seems to be the favorite of a lot of people. 

This is the Dowager Sturgeon from her latest project, Freshwater Mermaids of North America. I asked when I saw her scrunching up her face and examining pictures of our local species of fish in an effort to make them as accurate as possible, why she didn't just color them digitally. I guess she just likes to draw things by hand, and color them with real paint. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rockford Artist Redefines Mermaids

Quick. Close your eyes and imagine what a mermaid looks like. Did you imagine a a curvy figure with long, flowing hair and blue or green eyes? 

I wouldn't blame you if you did. After all, that's how mermaids have been depicted from the beginning of the human experience. Alluring and sexy, yet capable of transforming into terrifying monsters. I'll leave it to the Freudians among us to advance a hypothesis about that. 

But one Rockford artist sees it differently. Jenny Mathews, of The Rockford Illustrating Company, has created a bold and original new collection of hand-drawn mermaids that represent women in every shape, form, age, and personality you can imagine. These drawings challenge the age-old stereotypes of the female form, and what is considered desirable. The mermaids depict fishes indigenous to rivers, lakes, and streams in the Midwest. 

The maiden bluegill 

The Walleye Crone

In all Mathews has cataloged seventeen different mermaids. Done in the style of classic fish illustrations, this series of fun psudo-scientific field studies, depicts seventeen freshwater mermaids such as the "Lass Perch", the "Maiden Bluegill" and the gregarious "Mississippi Queen Catfish". Great for any mermaid lover or fisherman.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's Hard To Take Rockford Seriously Sometimes

It's hard to take Rockford seriously sometimes. It's dangerous, because you might get stabbed in the back or whacked on the head, but every time you start to think your city is building up some street cred you see something like The Misery Loves Company campaign, or this...

Another amusing Chamber of Commerce idea. Words have meanings. 

The Midway. The unfortunate butt of many jokes. Another sad reminder of what we once were.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Death Race 3000 To Film In Rockford

Unsatisfied with mowing down each other, Rockford drivers began seeking out more exciting quarry for Rockford's fastest growing sport, hit and run driving. Unfortunately, when a hit and run driver mowed down two Chinese nationals in town to create jobs in the aeronautics industry, Rockford succumbed to its favorite sport overshadowing its second favorite sport: being unemployed.