SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Dunny Series 3 Trading Party July 27 (tomorrow)

(or, "if you've got the Munny, I've got the time")

Get your Dunny on at Robot Love from 6-8pm on Thursday! Contests, prizes, and giveaways? Maybe! Blind-box collectable toys are fun because they are a surprise in every package, but that mystery factor can backfire like an ugly sweater on Christmas morning. What if you get a Dunny that you don't like, or there's one particular design that you simply need to have? Trading parties are the answer! Kid Robot suggests trading original drawings, exclusive toys, or your own artwork. I wonder if anyone would be interested in exchanging a Flying Fortress Dunny for a limited-edition, signed, handpainted Daruma?

More Spore

There hasn't been much news about Will Wright's upcoming game Spore since their big presentation at E3, but here are a couple of tidbits that I've found interesting recently. You can skip this if you're not interested in Spore or Will Wright or things that are fun, but I know this will be enjoyed by at least one of my readers.

Via Spore Zoo, Images and (short) videos from the NYLF Seminar. Nothing that's really new, but I always like to see more of the game in action.

Will Wright interview in Discover Magazine (registration required). You can use bugmenot to get in, and the entire article is online. It's not even so much about Spore, but it's Will Wright, and the man's a genius.

That's all! It may be another year or more before the game is actually released, so it's too early to get really excited. Spore is something to look forward to if you like looking forward to things. In the meantime, there's a lot to do and life goes on, so grab it by the ears and puke in its face.

Friday phone-in post (late)

I was sick for half the day yesterday and Jenna took me to the clinic to make sure I wasn't going to die. I made sure to take a Care Bears sticker and a lollipop, so that my needlepricks would heal faster. I'm OK, but it was a crappy night. I don't have much to say, so here are a few treats I collected for you from the intarwebs! Posted on Monday because we've had stupid Comcast troubles as well and access has been spotty at best.

Via A Flower Called Nowhere, the bicycle gang movie trailer Be Your Own Pet

Ningyo made a cute music video to Love Psychedelico: Grapefruits! Special YouTube-quality video and sound makes it extra fun.

The Scooter Thief

Apparently, last night, somebody walked into our garage and stole my red "Freedom" electrical scooter. Fortunately, the thief didn't take or damage anything that is really valuable to me: all my bicycles are accounted for, and the cars weren't broken into. They did somehow unplug our garage door from the ceiling, so maybe they were intending to return in the morning? I'm not sure, so I plugged it back in and closed the door, and we'll be installing motion detectors for the garage area.

Whoever took my scooter didn't take the charger, and they didn't take the keys either, so it's basically worthless. A serious thief with a vehicle might have taken more stuff from the garage, and would have at least tried to break into our cars (both of which were unlocked). Since only the scooter was taken, we're betting it was some punk-ass kids who will either try to pawn it or quickly get bored and dump it somewhere.

The scooter wasn't incredibly valuable, but worth enough that I called the St. Paul police to report a theft. An officer called about an hour later and I gave her the details, but we all know that nothing will come of that. Like the hapless protagonist in "The Bicycle Thief," I mounted my own hopeless search for my stolen ride. At least I had a bicycle to do it on, but after an hour of looping through the neighborhood streets and alleys, I still achieved the same results. Except I didn't get harrangued by a mob, and I almost tried to steal my scooter back from a neighbor's garage when I spotted it from a distance, until I got closer and realized I was actually looking at a sleek red gas grill.

Welcome Back Cauter

There's a history of skin cancer in my family, so I went to the dermatologist to have my skin examined and ended up losing a few little chunks of myself. I've gotten tattoos and piercings and stuff, but I've never had anything cauterized before. How does the pain compare? As long as I get the novocaine, you can cauterize my face all day! After the needle prick, I didn't feel a thing.

The good news is that most of the little dots on my body are nothing to be worried about, according to the doctor, I just have lots of 'em. That's a relief. There's so simple to get removed, though, I might go ahead and get them all taken off anyway.


TC Zine Fest/Stencil Show/new t-shirt update

Sunday was the last day for the Twin Cities Zine Fest 2006, so I got myself over to the Stevens Square Center for the Arts and hung out with my friend/SPC vendor Lacey for a half hour or so. I bought one of her books and a comic by Will Dinski (Habitual Entertainment issue one). Plus I picked up a ton of free zines and stickers. Total cost: $7. Lacey was giving out fortune cookies, but the humidity had turned them into malleable, inedible lumps. Stencil artists happened to have a show running at the same time, and my favorite painting was on display for $400. I tell you, if I had the money to spend, tattoo or stencil art for my wall, it would be a tough choice, man.

I remembered the camera for a change but the batteries were dead, so I missed yet another chance to photograph some good grafitti behind the soon-to-be-ex-St.-Sabrina's. They're moving a block and clearing out some merchandise. I bought a sweet t-shirt for a measley $15, but the Ed Hardy and Sailor Jerry stuff was still at full price. That's two tees in one month--a new personal record!

With every new t-shirt I buy at the appropriate size (small), I can throw away another XL rag that I was wearing back in high school. It's about time. I don't buy many clothes, and I enjoy my minimalist man wardrobe, but this change-up was long overdue. Maybe I will even go crazy and buy a real pair of shorts so I can stop wearing my swimming trunks all the time.

Cardinal directions

While I was waiting for Lola to poop, I noticed her staring at something at the grass under the bushes. She seemed very concerned, so I tried to figure out what she was looking at. I carefully crawled over and found two baby cardinals chirping on the ground. I moved away to watch and the father bird swooped down to feed regurgitated worms to one of the outcasts. Then I ran inside to grab the camera and took some photos of the babies.

A couple of weeks back, we were watching the birds flying in and out of our yard and figured out that there was a cardinal nest in the bushes. I don't know if these babies fell out of the nest... or if they were pushed. At first I thought it might be time for them to learn to fly, and their parents had encouraged them out of the nest. After I got a closer look, it seems like they're too young for such endeavors. They can barely open their eyes!

Luckily we have a fenced yard, so they will be protected from some predators, but we have had cats sneak in on occasion. Let me know if you have any advice on how to promote the survival of these pitiful creatures. Right now the best course of action I can think of is: DON'T MOW THE LAWN!

I almost got hit by a van yesterday

I don't know what has to be wrong with a person for her to intentionally steer into a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The theme of the evening was "happy to be alive!" I am mostly over it now. If I ever do get hit by a car, I think I might be upset about it for a very long time. Watch out for crazies, they are everywhere, and they hate you.

Hard Times in Harrar

On Sunday morning we walked with our friends to Grand Ave. I showed them where I work and pointed out some spots where there'd been posters for the SPC (now all removed!). Quince was open but we were burnt out on crafts for the weekend probably, although they did buy some stuff at Bead Monkey, which employs three of the vendors from this year's fair.

After they went home, I went to visit my friend Jhenn who is going to teach English in Japan. I haven't seen her in three years and she came to see the SPC and say goodbye. Hopefully I will see her again before another three years go by, but we tried to cram as much into one night as possible just in case. First stop, Arise! in Uptown where we got directions to an Ethiopian restaurant. Then we walked around Lyndale for about an hour and visited Muddy Waters, Robot Love, and tried Uptown Tattoo but they were closed. If I had lots of disposable income, I would start a toy collection and shop at Robot Love every day!

This mural was across the street from Robot Love. I'm glad Jhenn was along because I forgot my camera as always! Looks like this graffiti got put up as part of B-Girl Be. We need to see more like this around the city, in my opinion. She also took a shot of me not looking tough next to the piece on the right:

Next we drove to the West Bank in search of our restaurant. The dude at Arise! said it was good and we were excited, but it was still pretty early, so we went to Hard Times for a vegan pancake and hash browns. We walked around the West Bank area for a while because I've never really hung out there. I didn't go to the U of M and I've never lived in Minneapolis, but I love to visit and explore.

When we found the Ethiopian restaurant for dinner, it was just an empty building. Looks like we missed out. I drove us over to Fasika in St. Paul (a quick freeway trip on a Sunday evening) and we shared the veggie sampler and I tried a Harar beer. There was a definite honey taste to it, which I liked. We ate as much of the food as we could and drove back to the hotel, where we soaked in the hot tub for a few minutes. It felt so good on my tired legs after the long weekend. When I got home I drank a can of Black Label beer and fell asleep on the couch. Now I'm ready to do it all again next year.

More SPC Madness!

The Roe Family Singers played rotating sets throughout the day and sat as craft vendors when they weren't on stage. We were really glad to have them at the fair because they kept the music going for several hours and made it sound good in there.

These two dudes are the Mill City Mongrels. They probably got the best crowd response out of our three bands, and I didn't get a chance to thank them until they were on the way out. We learned about them through one of our vendors and invited them to play as the punk/rock group the Mojo Spleens before we had even picked a venue. Once we saw that echoey building, we were glad to have them switch to a somewhat softer format (White Stripes covers, etc.). They were good.

Here's Chokecherry! We heard about them via another vendor, so we hardly had to seek down any musical acts at all. There was space provided for bands to stick around and sell their merch, but Chokecherry left stuff with their vendor friend instead, so it was never used. The creative community in the Twin Cities is kind of small, I guess. Chokecherry was very talented, too. I was very happy with the level of musical quality we got up in there!

Here's Jenna with her friend Girl Andi standing behind our fully set-up booth. I like this shot because you can see the nice Daruma and Bob the Golfer displays that we designed and cut out. They drew lots of attention, but not lots of sales. Many people picked up a Daruma and the first thing they did was try to twist it open, a response that had never even crossed my mind during the creation process. They are clearly marked as Weebles. Who tries to open a Weeble?

Here's Lacey! She was with us from the beginning, when we were just roping people into brainstorming sessions to figure out how a rogue craft fair should go down. Since we are old friends, we put her booth space next to ours. I was sad that more people did not buy a hula hoop, because there can never be too many hula hoopers in this world. There was even a hula-hoop-themed billboard not far from the fairgrounds to get people in the proper frame of mind!

The Indie Craft Documentary crew enjoys a laugh. Good times. That's uh, Blogger is freaking out and I can't see the big photo to figure out whose booth is behind them, but probably someone cool. I just watched the graffiti documentary Style Wars, and I think the Indie Craft Documentary will be just like that except with less hip-hop and more acoustic folk music.

I'll wrap up this party with two more under-construction booth spaces. Here's Jenny Harada's stuffed animals that came all the way from Ohio to sit on her soft table at our show. She taught a workshop too. My friends sat at her booth for like three hours while Jenny taught people how to make their own stuffed animals, and they seemed to be having a good time. I heard someone was planning to buy that green googly-eye mask, but I don't know if they did or not.

Last but not least, here's Lon. He made our great posters for the show and had a nice-looking space with rock posters and comics too. I am glad my friends bought some posters from him, because now I will enjoy going to their house even more. I'd like to have Lon back if we have another show, because I would actually be sure and make time to see his art instead of keeping myself so busy all day. Well... that's the fair. It's over and life goes on. We will just have to see what happens next!

Morning of the fair: SPC vendors

Heather from Bright Lights Little City sets up her lamps made from cocktail umbrellas. One of my personal favorites and a crowd favorite as well. Unfortunately all these photos are from setup, so you don't see the shoppers or even the totally constructed displays. Just take what you see here and multiply the coolness by at least two to get an idea of what it was like on the day of the Craftstravaganza.

Jason was one of many first-time vendors at our fair, and his glass resin bowls were another popular item. He told us that he spent all winter making them and had no idea how they would sell, so I think he was happy with the turnout. They were really quite pretty. We saw lots of people walking around the building with one of his bowls in their hands. If I'd been in the Christmas shopping mindset I think I would have purchased at least one.

Chris and Isara from Polaire construct a rack. Actually, looks like Isara's doing most of the work here, and she showed up the night before to decorate the table as well. I didn't even get a chance to really look at their table during the show because I was rushing around so much, which is my biggest regret of the day. One of my coworkers said she knows these two, but I didn't see her at the show, although my boss and three of my other colleagues did attend! Lisa brought her son and he bought a copy of my Bob the Golfer comic book, so I have a new fan!

This is Jenny Gehlhar setting up a nice vertically-oriented booth space, which were purportedly the most popular. She was spacing out those pillows near the end of the day because she was selling out so fast. That is what we like to see in the craft fair business. Jen also publishes the local punk zine Atomic and plays in a band, so she is basically one of the coolest girls I have ever met.

The 7two7 Glass booth was another favorite, although we were nervous all day about one of the racks getting knocked over! Jenna bought a cute glass barette from here. A more limited assortment of 7two7 products is displayed at Quince on Grand Ave, but it was awesome to see all of this in one place. I wish I'd had more time to see it all.

Faythe Levine from Flying Fish and the Indie Craft Documentary! We bought something from her too, but she was mostly there to film interviews for her documentary. It was a lot more fun than the live TV interview, and I hope they find something that is worth using in the movie. We will be looking forward to seeing it when it is complete! Faythe was super nice and I wanted more time to talk with her, but we might make another trip down to visit her in Milwaukee at the new location of her craft store, Paper Boat.

The Pursecution booth was right next to the empty booth that was next to ours. We had a very diverse group of both vendors and shoppers, which gives me a good feeling, plus it's just plain awesome to see more tattooed folks around. Some of our more elderly attendees did not enjoy the show very much, but they did list "people-watching" as their favorite part. The people are really what it's all about.

Here's some stuff from Nate's Custom Sewing. He has pillows for sale at Quince too. I also liked the flat art but, once again, I didn't really have time to enjoy it. I was really glad that we were able to get (comparatively speaking) so many male vendors at a craft fair.

Here's one last vendor booth, but I can't tell which one! Looking back at the photos I realize there were some tables I never gave more than a glance to the whole day--there was just so much to see and so much going on. I haven't even covered everything, so I'll try to wrap up tomorrow with the band photos and any vendor tables I've got left. What a weekend! It's going to be Thursday before I can talk about how I spent my Sunday.

The giant St. Paul Craftstravaganza post w/ pictures

Two Cities Two Wheels style, here is a photo tour of the St. Paul Craftstravaganza (SPC). I'm glad we got some pictures, because I was so busy this weekend that I missed a lot of it.

On Friday afternoon, Jenna and I started measuring and taping the booth spaces and sorting tables and chairs for the vendors. Vendors began drifting in for setup around 4:30 and stayed till 7:30. The building still looks pretty bare at this point, but you can see our own table semi-set-up in the foreground, and vendors and friends milling around in back.

Here's the same aisle the next morning (I think?), just about ready for the show. We greeted each vendor as they came in, if we saw them in time, and by 8:30 every vendor had arrived at the building. After people had their own stuff set up, they went around to other peoples' booths to shop. I planned to do my purchasing during this time, but I was already quite busy assisting. Mostly I felt compelled to run around and ask vendors if they needed help with anything, which was probably not necessary.

The show started at 9:00 AM sharp. Andy Lambert carted away the free Peace Coffee, the Roe Family Singers played, and the shoppers began trickling in. Before we opened the doors, I purchased this pre-selected shirt from Nate at Withremote, just across the aisle from our booth. A bargain at $10, and still available via his online store. I was stylin'. This is how I looked during our interview on WCCO TV news at 10:00.

We don't have photos of the interview with me and Jenna, but you can see us for a limited time on the WCCO site, supposedly, though I can't find it. Here's Maya Nishikawa interviewing vendor Tara Burns. I hear they also showed Aisha Celia spinning yarn and buttonmaking at the Crabby Sisters booth.

I wasn't sure if a workshop at 9:00 would attract enough participants, but the Yarnery's learn to knit class was probably the best-attended one all day. Jenny Harada's workshop on making stuffed animals looked like lots of fun too!

We gave away lots of free stuff during the day. Here's one of our swag tables before it was decimated by 2,000 attendees! It's too bad we don't have any crowd shots, most of these photos were taken before the fair or right after it started. Foot traffic was actually fairly steady throughout the day, and it was a big building, so I don't think the vendors realized we had over 1,700 shoppers plus family friends volunteers media etc. I don't want Blogger to freak out, so I'm going to post this now and follow up in the next one with photos of vendor booths and our bands. What a great--but exhausting--weekend.

Craft around the corner

First of all: THE CRAFTSTRAVAGANZA IS THIS WEEKEND! July 8! 9-4! Don't miss it or you are a sucker, and nobody wants to hang out with a sucker. I'm sorry but that's just the way it is.

Today's post is the third and final installment on my personal choice vendors. Also for the third and final time, I want to point out that this is not an exhaustive list! I'm more excited than anything to meet all of our vendors (most for the first time) and see their crafts in person, and we do love them all equally. Some are just more equal than others. Look at our vendor page and pick out your own favorites!

Pursecution: A not insignificant number of vendors will be selling purses/bags/clutches/etc. at the show, and I will not be buying any (I can't say the same for my wife). Jackee Strom has two things going for her that, in my mind, set her apart. Awesome name? check. Purses made with epoxy-coated wood and board games? double check!

Another category in which we are well-stocked and I am overall uninterested is jewelry. As with the bags, Jenna picked most of our jewelry vendors and I deferred to her judgment when determining the relative merits of similar artists. But there was one jeweler who really caught my eye with her sterling silver/stained glass pendants. When I saw her work, I knew that Fiery Lion Designs had to be a vendor in the Craftstravaganza.

I learned to knit last winter, and it may have been a short-lived craze, but I'm still psyched about local crafter Aisha Celia's handspun yarns. You can see her etsy shop by clicking on the link, but it's closed down in preparation for our fair!

Just one more and then I'm out of here. Aisha's our only spinner, and our only blower is Vicki Olson of 7two7 glass. Depending on how you measure these things, she may be the true winner of our long-distance vendor prize, as she was born in England before traveling to Minnesota (via California) just for the Craftstravaganza. Note that you can also buy some of her work at Quince on Grand Ave. Besides the obligitory jewelry, Vicki also uses glass to create picture frames, vases, coasters, bowls, and barrettes. What I like the best are her spin-colored wall clocks.

Okay! I've got to go get ready for the fair. And what about you? Have you got your wallet filled with cash, your ears ready for rocking out, and your optimal route planned? I'll see you at the SPC!

Illustration celebration

I bought Jenna a Communication Arts subscription for Christmas, and it's safe to say I'm enjoying it at least as much as she is. Last week, my favorite issue arrived in the mail: the Illustration Annual! With my greasy grilled cheese held at a safe distance in my right hand, I eagerly paged through the magazine with my left, spotting great work from some illustrators I've heard of, and some that I haven't. For this post, I'm going all Drawn on ya and posting a few of my favorites.

Yuko Shimizu (work shown at left/above) is a name I'd swear I'd heard before, but nothing in her online portfolio really rang any bells, although it did cement my position as a fan of her work. A little rugged, a little raw, a little OMG NSFW!!

Marcos Chin (you know, the guy who did the Lavalife ads?) had some lovely art in the magazine, but I didn't find anything I liked nearly as much on his website. Here it is anyway! Get some of your new stuff on the online please, Mr. Chin.

Jeff SotoEveryone is crazy about Gary Baseman. I like his work alright, I even went to see the man at Ox-Op earlier this year, but I just can't catch the fever. It's just as well, since my wife hates his style, so it's not like I'd be able to decorate our home with Baseman paraphernalia anyway! For some reason whenever I think of Baseman I also think of Jeff Soto, and that's a dude I could get on board with. But he wasn't in Communication Arts, and we'd be here all night if I started free-associating all the artists I like. So back to the issue at hand.

My favorite illustration of all is a half-page image of HMS Victory done by an artist named Kako. I had to dig a bit, but I managed to find it online! It is here, and now also featured on my desktop background.

When I first read about I am 8-bit, it sounded like pretty much the best idea ever. Art based on vintage video games, you say? It's about time, I say. Google around and you'll be sure to round up more images; I couldn't go to the show, but I heard about it on Wired and this Duck Hunter/Thompson mashup by Tim Tomkinson was one of my favorite pieces. Let's enjoy it with me.

I hope you don't asplode

Happy Fourth of July! Remember kids, fireworks kill four people in the US every year. This is almost as many people as are killed by bunk beds (five). Sleep tight!

Actually, I'd like to see a professional sparkler handler in action. What would they do differently? I like to draw my name in the air, maybe I could get some pointers on my technique.

BREAKING NEWS: Live TV coverage of the St. Paul Craftstravaganza is a possibility! More details as they come in to SPC HQ.

UPDATE: Maya Nishikawa from WCCO TV news will be filming live at the fair on Saturday morning. Together with the Indie Craft Documentary crew, that makes a lot of media attention for our show!

The Men of Craftstravaganza

Perhaps the surest sign that this is no ordinary old-lady craft fair is the fact that several of our vendors are, in fact, males. Whereas traditional "ducks in bonnets" style craftwork may be less appealing to men, the kind of art we looked for could be more or less appreciated by both genders. I counted, and out of 67 booth spaces, at least 12 include one or more dudes (some tables are shared by multiple vendors). That's like eighteen percent! Here are a few of my personal top picks.

It all starts with John Carlson, who is also the President of the Board at the Sibley Bike Depot. He paints Ukranian eggs, but there's not much online yet. Jaak assists with our scrapping operations at the shop, and keeps some choice parts for his sculpture work. He also makes some unique jewelry that I think could go over at the show. Finally, there's Nate's Custom Sewing, who made a custom saddle and grips for John's vintage 3-speed! The craft world and the bike world are both very small.

Lonny Unitus I must have mentioned before. He designs gig posters and I commissioned him to make our crazy giant-style poster for the show. We've been getting compliments on his work from lots of people already, so I think I made a good choice on that one. Withremote is Nate Nolting, another designer who makes band posters but also sells art prints, stickers and t-shirts. I am totally going to buy one of these shirts on July 8.

I am going to cut myself off after drawl graphic, even though that's less than half the talented guys who'll be at the Craftstravaganza. There are actually two guys in this studio (Chris and Adam (plus a girl, Lindsay)) and I like them both, but I'm partial to Adam's big cartoony style. Cool it, man. No, you cool it.

I wouldn't be so egoistical as to mention my own work again, oh no. Especially since I already posted about it twice.

Sunday morning cat blogging

We don't have a cat. This little buddy just showed up on our doorstep t'other day and meowed for food, so I brought him some of Lola's kibble, and he gobbled it up. The poor thing is bony and dirty and had no collar, so we assume he's a stray. I named him Euclid.

I'd like to keep him, but Jenna is advocating for a trip to the no-kill shelter. Money doesn't flow as fast and loose as it used to before the mortgage, and besides, we don't know that Lola would react favorably to another animal in the house. She's very jealous! I spent the morning giving Euclid some loving attention with a brush, and another serving of dog food. He devoured the food, but didn't care for the water. After a while, I went back inside the house and let him go his own way.

If he turns up again, is there anyone who'd like to adopt an adorable and very affectionate cat? He's got claws and I assume he's not spayed or neutered. I'm also only assuming he's a he, since I'm not a cat sexing expert or nothing. Won't you help a poor kitty from the streets?

Bob the Golfer

"Bob the Golfer" is a comic I drew that was printed in my high school and college newspapers. I refined my style significantly during the many years I drew the strip, and eventually moved it online. After shipping between various free hosting services, I finally bit the bullet and registered the (now defunct) By that time, I had standardized the size of the comic and moved to a full-color format. My output was three strips a week.

It ran online for a very short time (less than a year), but was critically acclaimed, with such webcomics luminaries as Tycho Brahe, Scott Kurtz, and R. Stevens conferring their blessings on the strip. I drew most of my best comics during that period, which ended with my trip to Japan. When I returned home, I drew a few more and then realized that I was done. Now, for the Craftstravaganza I designed and printed an ultra-limited run of FIVE hand-numbered comic booklets.

They're small, but they're high-quality prints and more than half the book is in full color. The cover image is a brand-new illustration made just for the book, and the strip on the back is appearing in color for the first time! Get 'em while they're hot!