stopped at the intersection of Mountain and Glenn last night, on my way home—there’s a stop sign there, so it’s nothing unusual. It’s been torn up for a few months while the road people do the road things they’re doing all over town, and that I don’t suppose they’re ever going to finish—not that it matters much to me, only it takes a little longer to get around town than it used to. The elderly lady in the boat to my right was reluctant and nervous as she nosed out into the intersection, scraping her undercarriage in the dirt and making the sorts of faces you would expect to see. I lost interest in her progress and looked across the street at the car opposite me, just in time to see the passenger door fly open and a kinda cute chunky girl lurch toward the opening, only to fly backwards back into the car and out of sight. I didn’t get it at first, but figured out the guy had grabbed her hair and pulled her back inside. By the time that part was clear, he’d already moved on to the next stage and was applying his elbow to her face. He pushed her forward, smashing her forehead against the dashboard—the elderly lady gunned it and obscured my view for a second, and by the time she was across the door on the car I was watching was swinging closed. The guy was yelling, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I thought it was some elaborate joke. It had to be. He started across the street and the girl went for the door again, yelling something else I couldn’t hear, and the guy let go of the wheel with one of his hands and let the other one drive while the first punched the girl repeatedly in the face.
       The cars behind me started honking, annoyed that I wasn’t moving. So I started across, turned the wheel, trying to get behind the guy so I could pass him and cut him off when the road widened and then… I don’t know what then, but something. I mean, right there at the intersection, right there in front of everyone… something should be done. I could lecture him and he could get out and kick my ass while the girl in the car yelled at me to mind my fucking business as she mopped her bleeding eye[1]. But the next car across from me had already started, cutting me off and making me lose those seconds I needed to catch up to the guy; people behind me screaming out the window to get the hell out of the way, threatening me with a little of their own violence—and usually I think it’s all just idle threats, but I wasn’t so sure anymore. So I drove home.
       And then last night there was a big raid on the house across the street. I mean, we’re just moving in, still in boxes and tripping over everything in the house, asking each other, “Where’s the spatula?” and “Have you seen that Love and Rockets cd?” and saying things like, “I could have sworn I put the box cutter in this box… why’d you have to use so much tape on everything, huh?” And so we’re kind of immersed in this and Trillian’s mad because we won’t let her play with all the dangerous things in all the open boxes and everything’s moving higher and higher out of reach and we’re telling ourselves it’s just for the moment and we’ll go through the boxes after Trillian’s in bed, and then suddenly it’s like twenty or a million blue and red lights and yelling and pounding and we look out the window and everything is cops everywhere, and they’re all swearing and nobody’s nice or explaining everything because this isn’t on FOX. They drag someone out and after a few hours it’s all calmed down again.
       Tonight I was walking down the street, thinking I’d check out the park about halfway down the block, thinking about how cool it’s going to be to have a park right there for Trillian to play at… a big cream-colored Cadillac something pulls up, met after a second by a gray Nissan something else, and they do a very overt exchange. A pricey one, too, from the size of the package the Nissan got. The gray car pulls away and I’m standing there in the middle of the street, just a few feet away from them, and someone in the Cadillac leans out and asks what I want. I say nothing. I mean, I tell them that I don’t want anything. I use too many words to say it too, so I guess I say a whole lot more than nothing. The guy gets mad and says all sorts of mean things and threatens me and tells me to stay out of the neighborhood if I’m not looking to purchase… I ask him if paying rent counts. He doesn’t hear me, asks me what I said, asking in that threatening manner, the one that says he doesn’t care what I said; the problem is that I spoke at all. And then there’s a cop rounding the corner and the Cadillac pulls away and the police-guy, still not on FOX, asks me if I’m stupid or something. I say no and he tells me to get out of the street, tells me not to loiter. Tells me I look suspicious. I tell him I live down the street and he says he’s never seen me before. I say that’s because I just moved in, and he asks where and I point and he thinks I mean the house across the street from my house… so he doesn’t like me. See, he was there just last night, and I found out today that the reason he was there was someone in that house had beaten someone to death on 4th Avenue. I tell him, No, it’s the house across the street, but I can’t remember the address. I am suspicious. I give him the phone number, ask him to call the number and ask the address and ask my wife do I live in that house (we kept our phone number the same so I wouldn’t have to learn a new one) and he tells me to get out of there… he doesn’t let me walk toward my house, looking suspicious like I do, and so I have to walk out of the neighborhood and around the block, across Glenn, up Tucson and then over and down and back on to my street, where I climb into the alley and crawl through the brush, poking my head through the bushes every minute or so until I find my yard. Crawling through the alley so as to not appear suspicious. I hop the fence and don’t tell my mother-in-law, who hasn’t moved out yet, who leaves for Europe forever in just a few days, who’s so caught up in packing she wouldn’t understand a word I said anyway, and I go to bed. Am going to bed anyway. In just a minute.

I’ve been in a bad mood for the past week or so. Not really grumbling or mad at anyone, just unsettled. The neighborhood we left was worse than the one we moved into—I thought so anyway—the houses here are nicer, the families are families, there are fewer rentals (we’re not really paying rent in our new house, it’s family and we just took over the mortgage, so the only real rental is across the street where the murderers are starting to move out), there aren’t any low-rider hot-rodders gunning it up and down the street at two in the morning and threatening my wife when she asks them to take their arguments out from in front of our house, or even out of our driveway. And that neighborhood was still a billion times better than when I lived in the apartment at MOCA, downtown, across from Pleasure World, where transvestites with knives and guns would try to kill each other a few times a week, where dwarves would offer their short services to me, not believing that I lived in the building into which I was entering. Prostitutes would try to follow me in at least once a week—but somehow that was at least a little funny. Not much, but some. Then there was the interstitial house where Andrea and I lived right after we got married, but before the house with the hot-rodders, where crackheads would beat each other and make up and make love (is that what it is? On crack? What is it?) and then beat each other again, yodeling strangely on the street corners and no one would ever stop it. It’s just everywhere [2] , [3] .
       Everything is horrible.
       It was no better when I lived where Richard now lives, with the feeding station across the street—not that I’m saying the feeding station is bad, that feeding people is bad, but they’d spend the times between feedings coming to my door and asking for stuff, and then when I gave this one lady a really beautiful apple, an apple I was so happy to have and so looked forward to eating, she got mad and swore at me and threw the apple at a painting on the wall, leaving a big dent in it that I’ve never been able to get back into shape. I think she shit in my driveway too. Someone did anyway.
       And everyone everywhere is so angry and that really is what it all comes down to in the end. We’ve got grandparents slowly deteriorating, having stroke after stroke after stroke, my grandfather in Massachusetts barely holding on so he can see Trillian again. We’re going out there in a couple of weeks, even though now’s the time I’m supposed to be making the sporks. Somehow it doesn’t seem right to go making them right now. And while I understand why we’re going there, and I want to go, I have the smallest hint of doubt as to what the point is, really. There’s the family point, there’s the Grandpa wants to see Trillian again point, but how long is that going to go on? How much suffering does there have to be? Does seeing the little girl really make the last year and a half worthwhile? Will it justify the next however long? I can’t say. I mean, the functional reality here is that soon he’ll be gone, followed in time by the rest of them and then by us and then Trillian… whether we see each other or not really makes no difference, doesn’t really change anything. I know that we do what we can to find happiness, but the reality at work here is this: Life will be long and hard, all our dreams will amount to nothing, and then we will die. That’s it. That’s really it.
       And yes, that’s the half-empty view. The all-empty view. But it’s the one that’s there. It’s the one I’ve had in practice for a couple of weeks, had in theory for most of my life. And so it’s with this mood I’ve started the endgame work on this issue of spork. One of the authors makes mention of Camus’ The Stranger, and while that might be cliché, I remembered it, remembered what Camus said, and then remembered another of his books, The Plague, and got to thinking about the both of them, and how the man was saying the same thing I’ve been moaning about in the above paragraphs. Of course, he said it much better than I have here, but it’s his saying it that made me decide to keep my words rather than writing something light and cheery, talking up what a great thing we’re doing here and how we’re going to band with the artists and the Artists and the musicians and everyone and we’re going to make some goofy army that will transform everything [4] . I’m not saying that, because that’s not what’s going to happen. And not because we’re the wrong ones to do it, but because it’s never going to happen no matter who does it. That’s not how it works. And even if it could, there’s no reason to anyway. No reason to transform everything. What Camus said was: Everything is pointless. All your dreams will amount to nothing and then you will die. But he also said that it’s a good thing. O.K. he didn’t come right out and say that, but that was the point. He said you do these things, you help the sick, you paint your pictures, you write your silly books because you want to. Not because you’re going to save anyone or that you’ll change anything on even the least fundamental level, but because you’re a doctor or painter or writer… You do these things because you’ve chosen to be this or that and you choose to act in accordance with your decision. This is far nobler. This is meaningful.
       I have chosen to make sporks. I’ve chosen to make all kinds of books, for no reason other than my desire to see these books be made.
       What I’m saying is let’s dispense with all the overly pretentious illusions about our rationale for our actions [5] . There is no reason to go about things the way we do. But, as me and Albert and so many others are saying [6] , there is no reason not to. The converse of our meaningless existence is: So What? The opposite of pointlessness is pointlessness, but that doesn’t mean we stop and wait to die, or that we end it all without the wait. Instead, we find in exasperation and transience and pointlessness the justification to do whatever the hell we want to do. Take any belief or course of action and arc it out past its conclusion, take everything out past the end of time and it all amounts to the same amount of nothing. The greatest and the least equalized in the end, blended with everything in between… do not delude yourself that you will make a difference, do not tell yourself you have to have a great reason for your actions. Maybe you want to knit potholders your whole life, maybe you want to cure cancer or AIDS. They amount to the same thing—and cancer patients and AIDS patients, don’t they need potholders, too?—so don’t choose one over the other because one’s going to make more difference than the other, since they’re not.
       Me, I do environmental work to pay the bills. In the rationalist, meaningful-existence view, this is a good thing. But I don’t care. I do it because they leave me alone and I enjoy the work. If I were destroying the environment but they left me alone and I enjoyed the work, I’d still be doing it. I want to pay my bills, I want to be able to buy the supplies I need for spork when spork doesn’t have the money to buy them for itself. I get up early in the morning and come to the studio because that’s what I want to do. It makes me happy. The process of binding a book, or making one of my bad paintings that no one sees, or writing one of my unreadable books that make people smile and nod and say, “It was well written, I can see that,” when they’re feeling generous, or, “I didn’t understand a word of what you were saying, but don’t worry, I still like you anyway,” when they’re not so generous (other, far less generous things have been said about my work, but I don’t feel any real need to list them here), the process involved makes me happy. I feel good when my hands are doing the folding or cutting—even when the glue shows through and ruins one of the books I’m binding it doesn’t bother me all that much. I’ve lost my sense of meaning, lost my yen for meaningfulness, tossed aside (I’m thinking) with my sense of audience. Compacted, distilled, uncomplicated, this all comes down to simple desire. I want to make sporks. But sometimes I want to play solitaire, sometimes I want to watch “Smallville” over and over on my computer (I downloaded the first season. I hated the show at first, but I’m thinking now that Lex Luthor is the best character on TV to come around in a long, long time). Sometimes I want to eat a big, rare steak. When I want to eat a steak, I’m not making sporks, and when I want to watch “Smallville” I’m not eating steak, though I guess I could do both at the same time [7] .
       And when I’m not eating steak or watching “Smallville” or playing solitaire, when I’m making the sporks, I do it differently than we did for the first volume. This is in part because we didn’t want to do it the same way forever, and part because Johnny and his brother sold the shop where we did the silkscreening. I guess, if we wanted to keep on silkscreening, we could have found some other people to sit down and speak our dreams and intentions to, telling them about the great and vital role the could play in the creation of this thing we do—or I could sit to the side and smoke a bunch of cigarettes while Richard says the words that I can’t, since I don’t believe them anymore, if I ever really believed them anyway [8] —we could, but I think it’s time to change. It’ll be the same size, but I’m opting for covers of bookboard and bookcloth instead of the “floppy” covers that seemed to freak so many people out. And to you people who were so freaked out by the “floppy” covers, I’m not changing this for you. As the Camus-referencing author in this issue said, “This is not about you.” It’s about me, wanting to keep this interesting for myself, wanting to up the quality of the thing we make. The canvas covers were a necessity brought about by no money, by no tools to make a hardback book, no tools to do a perfect-bound paperback book—and we certainly were not about to write for grants or hold bake sales or car washes so we could get the funding needed to pay someone to do this for us. I mean, what’s the point of going to all the effort if all you’re going to do is send it off to the printer who will send it to the binder and then they send you the thing that you’ll tell people you “made”? See, if you didn’t make it, you didn’t make it. Maybe you compiled it, maybe you wrote it, maybe you edited it. Sure, you did all those things, but you didn’t make it. To me, that’s not enough. Nowhere near enough. Maybe we’ll write for grants or have bake sales or car washes in the future, but only to facilitate our continuing to make these things. Ourselves. For me, that I made this, makes it better than most everything else [9] , [10] .
       When you’re making a spork this way, you want to start with the covers. Cut your bookboard to size and then cut the cloth so that you have an inch allowance for the head, tail and fore-edge, leaving a good two inches at the spine-edge, since that’s going to fold under and form the joint of the cover. This cloth is what you would sew through to attach the covers to the book block, and it’s a pretty tricky proposition, holding it all together while you get that first push of the needle and cord through the cover and block, since nothing’s holding them together at this point. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Once the boards and cloth are cut, use some wheat starch paste (recommended) or PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate, not recommended for covers, but it sets up more quickly and is permanent, where the paste can be removed with water if you want) and glue the cloth to the board, applying the glue to the surface of the board (not recommended, since it could cause the board to warp—the way you’re supposed to do it is apply it to the cloth and then stick that to the board; I have good reasons for doing the opposite) and then stick it to the cloth. You then immediately spread a little glue on the overhanging cloth at the head and tail and press them down, not stretching the fabric (as this will also cause the board to warp). Next, miter the corners, trimming some of the cloth away so as to not leave a bulge, and glue the fore-edge. Put this in a press, or under some weight (a few heavy books will suffice) and give it a couple of hours to dry.
       When the covers are dry, apply the endpapers. For this step, you would put a thin layer of glue on the endpapers themselves, thin to avoid bleeding at the edges (wheat starch paste will not stain the cloth, so if you’re using that, you don’t have to worry as much, but PVA will dry hard and clear and too too visible), and then you carefully position the papers on the inside of the cover and press them again. The drying time should not be so long for this step, since you’ve used less glue (didn’t you?). The covers, after a while, will be ready. Then you can do the sewing and all that. Oh, joy unbounded!
       So, anyway. This thing I made, this thing I’m making: The binding is Japanese, a simple four-hole punch binding, though I didn’t punch the holes. I drilled them. I had Brian Arnold, the guy who helped me with the sporkbox make me this crazy wonderful jig to hold the text block while I drilled the holes. I’m drilling because it’s too thick to punch through. We’ve gone more than 200 pages this time… Traditionally, a Japanese-bound book will have a paper or cloth cover, and the binding will go right through it, but there is another way of doing it, and that’s what we’ve done here. As you have already seen, the hardcover part of the cover extends only the width of the book, with a little folded under onto the first and last pages. Through that we have done the lacing. You start in the middle, one of the middle holes, wrap around the spine, then toward the head (or tail, depending on what end you started on), wrapping it over the top (or bottom), then around the spine again, then back through the original hole, to the next, then around the spine and then to the next and around the head and then the spine and if you’ve done it right, you should have two loose ends on the same side of the book ready to be tied off. You can play a lot with where you want the tie-off to be. Maybe at the head, or on the spine. That’s up to you. We’re hoping that I do it so the cord can be used as a bookmark, meaning I’ve tied it near the head. I’m still writing this, meaning I’m not binding it, so I can’t really say for certain what I’m going to do or not do. I can speak only of intent.
       Also, in a traditional Japanese punch binding, the book will be in sheets rather than signatures. I like signatures. I love signatures, and I really like the way they look on this issue. I’ll like them on the next one too, since we’re doing it for at least the full run of Volume Two (which, as Richard probably mentioned, consists of only two physical issues, the other two being events or some other unbound thing. Whatever he might say to the contrary, we’re still a quarterly). It’s easier for us to do things in signatures anyway. That’s how we see the world, it’s how we do everything. And maybe when I say “we” I really mean “me” but I’m going to act like I’m including all of us in this one.
       My goal here, in the binding arena of spork, is to eventually amass the materials and equipment necessary for an honest-to-god, hot-damn!-I’ll-eat-a-horny-toad-if-that-ain’t-the-finest-thing-I-ever-saw kind of product. And if you’re one of those afraid of change types, one of those nostalgic ones, and you’re all sad the covers aren’t all floppy and awkward like something outta yer grammy’s attic, and you want to pay… I’ve got canvas, I’ve got ink. I’ve got glue and cord and a saw and you’re welcome to come on down to the studio and I’ll show you how to do it. Or better yet, fill the void I’m so cavalierly leaving with my abandoning of the tried-and-true, and put out your own damn thing. Put out a good one. Make me jealous, make me ashamed. Show me up. It’s not like there’s so much competition out there… not like there’s any. Be nice to have some.


[1] The last time I saw something like this was in 1993, in San Diego. I was, again, driving home and saw a group of about five kids playing in a yard. As I neared them, a car screeched to a halt and one of the kids went a little wobbly and kind of white. A big man jumped out of the car, yelling something, and went for the whiting, wobbly kid. The big man stretched out his big arm and grabbed the kid, who went immediately limp while the man started smacking the kid’s poor little head around. I stopped my car in the middle of the road and ran across the street, saying something really authoritative like, “Hey!” The man turned to me, dropped the kid and punched me a few times while telling me to mind my own goddamn business. I was pretty scrawny and weak, so I went down pretty quick, and the guy gave me a couple of kicks to the stomach and ribs, but I took them, thinking at least the kid’s getting away. I was wrong. When the kicking stopped, I looked up right into the saucer-eyes of the kid, who had absolutely no idea what I was doing there. Then the big man’s big arm eclipsed him and I watched him take a couple more shots to his face before the big man dragged him to the car, telling him how much worse it was going to be when he got home, saying something about how his friends should stay out of it if they knew what was good for them. Another halfhearted kick for me and they left. I knew, as I got out of the car, that I was going to get a little damaged, but I knew also that there was a reason for it, that the end result would be that the kid got away, having run to an aunt’s house or something, and that would set into action a whole string of events that would culminate in the kid going off to Kentucky or Minnesota where he could be a kid—a disaffected, angry kid, sure—but one away from at least this one horrible man.
       I was so angry at that kid for weeks. Mad at him for negating my gesture. Angry at him for making me make it worse for him. I thought that if the kid had been good enough to just stay home and take his beatings there then nobody else would have gotten hurt. He should have thought about the consequences for the kids who had to watch it, for the people driving by that would have to see it and end up feeling powerless and hopeless, and especially for the guy who was going to try to help out and end up not just powerless and hopeless, but bruised and cracked and bleeding…

[2] It’s even in our public art—on it, anyway. Right there, a few weeks ago, on Broadway and Aviation, where they put those photographic tile mural things, a guy was hanging, dead, from the railing above one of the murals. A normal-looking guy too, except for the whole dead-and-hanging-face-first-against-the-mural thing. I didn’t understand, I turned around and drove back just to make sure that what I thought I saw was in fact what I saw. And it was. Five in the morning, I was on my way to the studio to do some book stuff, and there was this guy… I tried to find out something, anything, but none of the departments or organizations you would expect to have that sort of information would give me anything, or they just didn’t have anything at all. The problem I have here, with this particular incident, isn’t the whole dead-guy thing, but that it’s so commonplace, so trivial, so boring, not worth the time of the police or the newspeople… Not that I want everybody’s business up in all our faces all the time (like it’s not already), but this guy, he’d made it my business, and I wanted to know why. I wanted to know why he felt he had to perpetuate himself in my memory, and since he had done that, just who the hell was he anyway? Not that he was dead, but that he made it my business.

[3] Flash back to even earlier, when I was a little rockstar and everything was great. I shared a house with my cousin T. (not really my cousin, we’d just known each other so long that it was easier to say we were cousins—I had a huge Puerto Rican cousin too, his name was P.R.), who would wake me up every morning at 6 by blasting the Grateful Dead on his stereo; living there too was rockabilly Dave and Brandi who did hair. We were watching a movie and one of our neighbors came by, all drunk and sad and we told him to go home. He came back later and told us we had to help him drink his big bottle of vodka. So we poured it into a big glass and gave him the empty bottle and told him to sleep it off. About an hour later it was all cops everywhere and an ambulance and we figured the guy’d hurt himself. He’d actually hurt his roommate, stabbed him in the throat. We stood outside, gawking, and a lady across the street grabbed a cop and pointed a witchy finger at us and said it was all our fault. It had to be.
              The next day, across the street on the other side—we lived on the corner, so we had lots of across the street neighbors—this guy Jimmy or Greg or something was arguing in his front yard with his girlfriend. He was mad because she always talked to other men. She said, “I’m a waitress, Jimmy or Greg, you idiot, I have to talk to them.” He said she didn’t, she didn’t have to talk to them at all, and she said he was being unreasonable. He said something else, and she pulled out her vocabulary, a pretty big one, and he took that as a threat and so he defended himself, going two-fisted on her face and stomach. I immediately dialed 911, told them what was going on, gave them the address and told them it’s right across the street from where the stabbing was the previous night, in case they needed any further direction. The operator asked a couple more questions and then Jimmy or Greg picked the girl up and threw her over the fence. “He just threw her over the fence,” I said.
              I was told the police would be there soon, and I had no doubt as to that, since they made a pretty regular patrol of the area anyway. But they didn’t show up, even though the fight continued for another fifteen minutes. Eventually they went inside, and later the girl went to work to go flirt with men about french fries and sandwiches and coffee. And then after about two hours there was a pounding on my door. I opened it and there was a cop, parked in my driveway, standing on my porch, asking me was I the guy that made the call. I said I was, and said that the incident wasn’t at my house, but at that one—I pointed. He said that everything looked calm to him, and I said that if they’d fucking shown up when the call was made instead of two fucking hours later, it wouldn’t have been such a tranquil scene (while I was talking to the cop, the door of the house of the previous night’s fun opened up and I saw my neighbor poke his head out, smoking a cigarette, a huge bandage on his throat… I wondered if he could use the incision, if he could smoke through it). The cop got mad at me and told me to show some respect if I didn’t want to find myself going to jail. Then he tramped across the street and talked to Jimmy or Greg for a while, leaving his car in my driveway.
              That night, after we’d all gone to bed, the side door of our house crashed in, and I looked up to see Jimmy or Greg standing over my bed, drunk and really really angry. I could hear Metallica—his favorite band—blasting from his big stereo, his phallic substitute, his huge component system with which he defined himself and defiled the tranquility of our long August evenings. He leaned in and asked who called the cops. He knew it was someone in our house, since the cop had parked in our driveway. I pointed at the wall, at T’s room. Jimmy or Greg broke down T’s door and gave him something of a beating. And yeah, I felt a little bad, but I didn’t hear the Grateful Dead that next morning.

[4] Clarification: I firmly believe that we are doing a great and important thing. This does not change the fact that it is ultimately meaningless. And it does not contradict my earlier statements (see Issue 1.2) about what I hope will be my small effect upon my small bit of this small, meaningless world. That our dreams will amount to nothing should never preclude our having them and working our asses off to see that these things are ours.

[5] I’m so rife with apparent contradictions here. Yes, keep your dreams, understand why you do what you do. Just be concise, be clear. Have dreams. Have real dreams. Don’t have the I’m gonna save the world ones when it’s actually I’m gonna quit my job someday and write all the damn time. If you are actually going to save the world, then I guess you should keep that dream. If you are the twenty-third coming of whomever, then you may well have every right to have the sorts of overly pretentious intentions that I’m scoffing at. In such case, my apologies, I wasn’t writing this for you. But even you could use a little salt with your intent.

[6] What is usually said when this topic comes up: Yeah, yeah, we know, we’ve heard this so many times already. And I know you’ve heard it, I know it’s been said over and over, but it has to be said again and again until we start to understand it. We hear it too early, when we don’t have the framework for understanding that would allow for a useful integration of the idea. We hear it when we’re teenagers and it becomes part of our teenage framework, the one we abandon as we get over our pointless rebellion and ill-advised taste for stupid clothes and bad music. Camus and early Depeche Mode are in no way equivalent. We learn our philosophies at the wrong time and so they get lumped in with all the things we grow out of… and since we’re all wise and grown up now, when something or someone refers to those things, we toss them aside as silly adolescent bullshit that we got over when we got some sense. If we truly understood any of it, we would have much happier, less complicated existences, unfettered by the constraints of our endless search for meaning and reason. These things must be continually said, until we finally get a hold on what it all really means.

[7] Or golfing. Sometimes I golf with my dad. I’m really bad at my short game, but I’m verging on Happy Gilmore with my drives—even if they do end up most of the time on some other fairway or the freeway or Speedway. Got me some distance, I do.

[8] My favorite English teacher in high school used to call me Monsieur Meurseault. She let me write a song in place of a term paper. She rocked.

[9] I keep writing to authors, or their intermediaries, or agents, or whatever contact information I can find for them, I keep asking them please can I bind their books, can I just make for them a small edition of these things they’ve written, make something that’s equal to their work—I do make beautiful books. I should keep them so in the unlikely event that someone comes to my studio I have something to show them rather than the unfinished, failed things I keep around as reminders of what to not do again, or ways to not bind a book… but I don’t have any of them. The ones that were not commissioned were made specifically for people and given to those specific people. I’m still doing exclusively flatback, since I don’t know how to round and back a book yet, but when I go to Boston in a couple of weeks, I’m going to corner that nice Robert Marshall over at Harvard Book and Bindery and make him show me how easy it really is. Strange that I have to go all the way across the country to learn something, but he’s really the only one I know that does what I want to know. There aren’t any binderies in Arizona. None that I can find anyway. There are small presses, there are people that make books by hand, but they’re all nontraditional like me, and they’re happy being that, while I am not. The people making the books here, as far as I can tell, aren’t making books to last, or even to be handled. They’re making art pieces—and that’s fine, but that’s not what I want to do. I can make a crappy pretty book that’ll fall apart just as good as the next guy. No; I can do it better, I’m a master of the crappy pretty book that’ll fall apart. I’ve done that, I’ve got them under my belt, and they’re all disintegrating, not standing up to the test of time. I see no reason to waste my efforts thus. The closest bindery where I can learn anything is in San Diego, and while that is closer, they want all kinds of money to show me how to do anything. Maybe I should understand that, but I don’t. I mean, Me. They want to charge Me for gracing them with my presence. I’ll go East, thank you.

[10] And perhaps I should qualify a bit here. I don’t want to, but I’m not really trying to piss anyone off. Well, maybe a little… like those kids who just staple their things together and call it a literary magazine. Sorry buddies, no go. That is so crappy. Show some respect for your authors, for the idea of art or Art or language… or anything. For yourselves. I would never produce such a piece of shit and try to pass it off as a worthwhile thing. How do you sleep? Punks. (My friend Tim makes a photocopied and stapled thing full of stuff, but he knows exactly what it is, and he presents it as such. I really like it, like Tim too—even though he just moved away. Punk.)
              What I mean, what my qualifier is here: I understand how the industry works. I understand that people are not all that interested in the binding of the books they buy at Borders or Barnes and Noble, or wherever they go, they are interested in what’s in them, and as long as the binding holds together long enough for them to get through the book, they’re happy. I understand that it is not cost-effective to make a well-made book, that most of them are just kindling anyway. I’ll admit, right here in the small print, that my favorite kind of book is the trade paperback, my favorite of those being the reinforced cloth ones from Black Sparrow Press. I love the way they feel, the solidity and flex you don’t get from commercially-produced hardbacks. Even Art books, the big coffee-table ones, aren’t made as well as they used to be. And I understand that it is a good thing that there is an industry devoted to getting the books out. Thank god for them, even if they do produce 99 percent crap. There is always that one percent. And when a friend is accepted by the industry, I’m genuinely happy for that friend, and maybe even a little jealous—but jealous not of the publication, rather I am jealous that they are able to write a thing that can be published. I am not able to do that. I cannot not ramble. I cannot tell a coherent story. I love coherent, well-written stories, but I cannot write them. And sure, you can toss up Infinite Jest or House of Leaves and tell me that maybe there’s hope for me, but if you’re one of the unfortunates who have read my book, you’re not going to be one of the people telling me maybe there’s hope. I’m happiest doing things the way I do, I don’t want to mess with that.
              The books I want to make, the ones I really want to have, I see them used as props on TV, flung carelessly around by actors who don’t really care what’s inside them… did Tom Cruise in “Vanilla Sky” really care about those books? No. Maybe he collects them, he the person and not the character from the movie, but that’s not what I’m talking about. These awesome leather-bound things, exemplars of the craft, that’s what I want to make. I will, someday. You just wait. Maybe I’ll let you have one. Or at least look at it.