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Thursday, March 31, 2011

MARCH TOUR DIARY, Part Two: Pittsburgh

Bill and Phyllis' cat Baby, Pittsburgh

There are only a handful of major American cities I've never been to, and one of those was Pittsburgh;  so I was excited for my first chance to visit the Steel City.

I left Columbus early in the morning, heading east into Wheeling, West Virginia (another town I'd really like to check out some day...) and up into Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I kept looking and looking for the exit to 279, and by the time I was about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh I realized why I wasn't seeing it:  it doesn't exist.  So I turned around and headed back, jamming out to Made to Be Broken for the third consecutive time.  Whoa, that record has to be in my top ten favorites of all time!

And on into Pittsburgh.  Bill at Copacetic had given me good directions and in no time at all I was at his shop, a third floor walkup above a coffehouse and used record store.  Nice setup!  The store was great and I immediately began putting aside a few items in my To-Buy stack:  Chris Ware's Quimby The Mouse book, a couple recent Cometbuses, a Monty Python documentary (3 discs for $10!), and a copy of that old Ganzfeld with the Hairy Who article.

After the shop closed we went over to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, where Bill teaches a class in comics and film, and I spoke for a bit.  Then dinner and sleeping like a rock.

Next morning we got up early-ish and went into town to buy organic bananas.  Went to the Warhol Museum, at which point Bill took the bus back to open the shop, and I hurried through the seven floors of great art (only had 2 hours on the meter).

In Columbus I was discussing with Lauri whether or not Warhol was the most important artist of the 20th Century.  In my mind only Duchamp comes close.  When I brought this up, Bill (who's a lot smarter than me), pointed out that you really can't compare the pre- and post-WWII art worlds.  Which is probably true.  Anyhow, I nominate Warhol as King of Post-War 20th Century Art.  He just nailed it.

My favorite part of the museum was a temporary exhibit where a couple sound-artists took Warhol's collection of Maria Callas recordings and ran them all simultaneously, all beginning at once.  So at first it's just this incredible cacophony of sound, but gradually, as the shorter pieces clock out, a greater sense of cohesion and comprehension drifts in, until finally just one piece, the longest one in his collection, spills out of the speakers in absolute purity.  Amazing.

After that I drove around town a little before heading back to Polish Hill, the neighborhood Copacetic's in.  I wandered around the area for a few hours, taking pictures.  I was kind of falling in love with Pittsburgh.  It was beautiful in that semi-decaying midwestern rust-belt way, but also with a great, palpable spirit.  It didn't feel like a city on the decline.  It felt like a real place, with real people in it, going about their lives.












This scene totally reminded me of a Matchbox® Car Playset.







Beautiful set of gold, spray-painted birdhouses, along the hillside.






That orange-tan building in the center is where Copacetic's located.
















Did the slideshow and signing at Copacetic, and it went great!  Hung out a bit with my new Pittsburgh friends, and then stayed up til 3 AM talking about comics with Jim Rugg.


NEXT STOP:  Chicago



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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MARCH TOUR DIARY, Part One: Columbus

I recently headed out on a 10 or so day roadtrip, with stops in Columbus (for the SPACE show), Pittsburgh (a signing at Copacetic), and back in Chicago (for Zine Fest). Here's what went down:


True to form, I got a late start, and hit the road in the middle of an anxiety attack.  I thought I'd be smart, and avoid Chicago traffic by taking the southern route, but somewhere around Champaign I realized I was driving 100's of miles out of the way.  And then I remembered I'd lose an hour crossing the time zone.  So I gave up on my dreams of making Columbus by a decent hour, and slept in the car in a rest area, about 45 miles from town.



It was really cold, around 32ยบ.



Well, good morning!



Preparing convention face.




Spit and a Half table, Part One.



Part Two.





Bruce Chrislip's display of Outside In pages/covers.



Including one by this whippersnapper.





Obscuro Comix luminaries, L - R:  Dan W. Taylor, Steve Willis, Bruce Chrislip, Colin Upton, Mike Hill.



Steve Willis, Carol Tyler, and the inimitable Max Traffic.



The presence of greatness.



Bruce Chrislip, founder of the City Limits Gazette.







It had been 10 or so years since I'd attended the SPACE show, and it was great to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time, and a lot of new people too.

After Day One of the show, we all went out for Vietnamese food and shot the breeze for a couple hours, until it was pointed out that it was the night of the "Supermoon," and we all ran out into the parking lot to be disappointed.



The alleged "Supermoon" hovers over Morse Road.


Day Two of the show was hectic as usual, and afterwards Colin and I, along with Detroit mainstays Sean Bieri and Suzanne Baumann, caught a weird bite to eat in the lonely hotel bar before saying our goodbyes.

I stayed in Columbus one more day, selling comix to shops (Used Kids Records, where I picked up copies of Soul Asylum's amazing Made to Be Broken, a De La Soul singles collection, and Joe Tex's Greatest Hits; the fab DIY boutique Wholly Craft; and Laughing Ogre), and then browsed the Wexner Center's great bookstore before retiring to a falafel dinner and preparations for the next day's drive to Pittsburgh -- a town I'd never been to before.

NEXT STOP:  Pittsburgh!