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In The Spirit of SEMINA
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
I’m happy. I stripped all my possessions the other day, by taking my entire vinyl record collection to Amoeba to sell, which in turn will finance a poetry journal called “Not.” I plan to write the whole journal but using false names. It will all be poetry, and I will also do the graphic design as well as the illustrations for the publication. My father left me his hand-print press, and I learned how to add the type, so I’m ready to go. My goal is to make an edition of 100 copies of each issue and give it out to either friends or people I admire. I don’t plan to sell the publication, because I don’t believe in the world of currency. I think that maybe if I contact a small market owner, I can trade issues of my journal for food. I’m a homeowner, but since I’m paying a monthly mortgage, I’ll instead, offer the bank that owns the mortgage free issues of my journal instead of the monthly payment. I also approached the Gas company as well as the Department of Water and Power, to see if we can arrange a trade of my journal for the use of gas and power.
Hand printing each magazine or issue is very satisfying. Knowing that someone will read or hold your publication, one that you made by hand, is very personal. I have been involved with mass printing of a book, but to me it seems impersonal. Of course, websites and blogs are totally out of the question. What does it matter if one guy to a million people read your blog? The digital world is an illusion, where in fact, when I’m holding a publication I physically made, I can feel it is real. I want to remove all of my illusions in my life.
One morning I was starving. I went to a diner here near my home, and I asked for a table. When the waiter came upon me, I showed him my hand-printed journal and told him that I wanted to trade this work for a meal. Since I didn’t know the worth of a single journal, I asked him to bring me the food that he felt was equal to the value of this journal. He told me to hold on, and I can see him taking my journal to the manager. Both were in discussion, and finally, he came back and told me he can make a plate of toast for me in exchange for the journal. Overall I thought that was fair. I asked him if I could possibly add a cup of hot coffee to the transaction as well. He said “no.” Basically, it is a piece of one bread, sliced in two, and toasted. No jam or butter. I did have my choice of bread. I decided to ask for sourdough because to me it seemed more filling. Although I was hoping for a more substantial meal, I was satisfied in obtaining the toast and on top of that, a complimentary glass of tap water. It was in a spiritual sense, probably one of the best meals of my life in a restaurant.
I mainly live off my journals in this fashion. Sometimes I feel that the amount of work I have put into a single publication - including the writing as well as the printing, I come up short with the trades. I still haven’t heard back from the Bank that owns the mortgage. Nor from the gas and water company. I’m hopeful that something can be worked out. The one company that utterly refused my offer for a trade was my cable company. Which in the long (and short) run is perfectly OK. Hundreds of channels and usually nothing on.