If there is any lesson to be learned from the work of Jacek Utko and his newspapers, it is that we live in an age where a newspaper in Estonia can be better designed and more successful than a newspaper in the United States. This is a time where independently published books—such as works by Europa Editions, Seven Stories, or tiny Bellevue Literary Press—can edge their way onto bestseller lists in major U.S. cities. Today, books released by Akashic, Soft Skull, Melville House, and City Lights are selected regularly as Editor’s Choice picks by the New York Times. These publishers are taking some creepy, run-down entertainment and putting it to the highest possible level of art. Without gimmicks. These are outfits run by a handful of dedicated individuals, without advertising budgets, a personalized sales force, or the vast web of contacts that larger houses depend on in getting word out about a book.
“You can live in a small, poor country,” says Utko. “You can work for a small company, in a boring branch. You can have no budget, no people, but still you can put your work to the highest possible level. And everyone can do it.”
Raphael Montanez Ortiz, Cowboy and “Indian” Film and Newsreel,1958
I would chop the films up with the tomahawk and put them into a medicine bag. I would shake it and shake it, and for me the bag would become a rattle, and I would chant with it…I was imitating indigenous ritual to find my place in it. When I Imitated it long enough, and felt comfortable in it, then I would reach into the medicine bag, pull out pieces of chopped film, and splice them together.
From Scott MacDonald’s article on Ortiz in The Ethnic Eye: Latino Media Arts (University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
Art Garfunkel’s extensive and chronologically-catalogued reading list, for those who are interested. Garfunkel seems to have catalogue-mania: on his website there are also lists of his top 60 favorite songs, 25 favorite classical music “things,” and a list of the destinations on his walk across America.
The Atlas Obscura is a collaborative project with the goal of cataloging all of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist.
“In the 1940’s, a woman named Theresa Fox was found dead in the kitchen of her three-room hovel — somewhere in Queens, according to one newspaper account — with $1,300 stashed in the ratty stockings she wore. Ms. Fox, who was said to have owned property in Brooklyn valued at $100,000, had 100 one-pound bags of coffee in her cupboard, and 500 cans of evaporated milk stuffed in her mattress. The drawers of her bedroom bureau brimmed with sugar, and dozens of loaves of bread were stacked against the walls in a fieldstone pattern.”—Franz Lidz, “The Paper Chase” in the Times