Two feel-good stories today folks, one set in Durham, one set in Chicago.
Bob Vasile has been entertaining the Triangle for more than 20 years as a member of the Pratie Heads and Acoustic Atta-tude, playing dance tunes for English, Scottish and Irish dances. He later picked up some Eastern European dance tunes from Mad Sweeney's David Kostanko. ("Being half Albanian, that style of music is in my blood.")
His guitar work caught the attention of Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine. Their winter issue, on the newsstands now, features his song "Dadfad in Baghdad." Readers and listeners get the tune on a bonus CD (You get a Chet Atkins cut, too!) Vasile contributes a great half page essay about the song's history.
"I have this habit of watching the news with the sound muted and playing my guitar at the same time. I started the song during the war in Afghanistan and finished it up by the time we were in Baghdad," he writes.
This all comes at a good time for Vasile, who is celebrating spring with a new album, coming out next month.
Imagine a store with over 40 racks of zines, comix and magazines. Mix in a cool Web site filled with goodies; live audio recordings of zinesters reading their work and pages of special events listings. A place where staff members can rant on-line about anything, everyone gets a byline! Hey, they must be doing something right, getting 100,000 hits a month.
That's Quimby's in Chicago. Founded in 1991 by Steven Svymbersky with the mission, "I really want to carry every cool-bizarre-strange-dope-queer-surreal-weird publication ever written and published," the store is kind of a post-modern print media version of "Give me your tired, your poor ... "
Milemarker's Al Burian, formally of Chapel Hill, and author of the zine Burn Collector, is a current Quimby's staffer and on-line contributor.
"Quimby's Most Wanted" is a wonderland of alternative bestseller lists, Top 20 compilations for graphic novels, zines, and comics that function as underground checklists for popcult junkies.
But it was their bike-powered zinemobile that really got my attention. Here's staffer Logan Bay with the pitch, "We are hard at work constructing a bike-powered zinemobile to park and distribute independently published literature in different locations around Chicago in April. We need content to fill up our zinemobile! We need you to help us out by contributing zines, pamphlets and printed matter that we can take with us on our whirlwind tour and hand out for free."
Does that sound like fun or what? Got some good stuff lying around? Send it to Chicago!
Contributing writer John Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org