It was a last minute kind of gig for us. Michael Allen Rose (we met in a bathroom at BizarroCon and quickly became friends shortly after) invited us up to this show in Chicago. Last year, several of the presses in the Bizarro community had teamed up to showcase their books at Printers Row, and since Nick and I were now carrying the torch for Rooster Republic Press, we figured it’d be a good idea to represent. Right there on the street. In broad daylight.
We gathered up some of the new releases, took a four hour road trip to Chicago, bought a goofy Batman cowboy hat, and stopped at Michael’s apartment (who was putting up us for the weekend). Mr. Rose and the lovely Sauda Namir welcomed us in to meet with Eric Hendrixson (author of the new book Drunk Driving Champion from Eraserhead Press), and then Michael introduced me to the cult of Malort.
Or as Nick calls it, “Bum piss filtered through a leather boot.”
It was bad, but not that bad. Going down isn’t the problem, the weird gym locker and batteries after-taste is where it really shines. We ordered Mexican food, played some party games with their friends, and wound ourselves down to prep for the show.
But wait a minute. I gotta tell you about this game. Remember the “You Don’t Know Jack” game? Of course you do, you old fart. Well, they put it on Xbox and your smart phone acts as a controller. One of the games on the unholy thing offers prompts where you’ve got a limited amount of time to either come up with a great lie or the weirdest shit you can. No one knows who wrote what. Then you vote on a winner.
A room full of writers being assholes is amazing. I like games, but hardly ever do they make me laugh or go, “That fucker. That was good. I should steal that.” It’s like a micro-fiction piece, and you have a deadline of about 30 seconds.
I received this prompt.
What’s the best way to survive a shark attack?
I entered my answer on my phone. A few rounds later, the prompt appears on the Tv and two bubbles pop up to reveal the answers. The other person answered with-
“You shit so hard you fly to safety.”
Nick Day, everybody. Swoosh.
Anyway, I had six more shots and finally went to bed.
THE MORNING AFTER
A quick walk around Printers Row made it pretty easy to see we were the weird kids in the bunch. I think that works in our favor. Amidst a sea of Big Five books, Bizarro is pretty damn easy to spot. Just a neon sign flashing, “WANT DIFFERENT? WANT NEW?” So, snuggled up with the NYT’s best, we laid out the goods.
Four presses on two tables. Maybe five. Maybe a dozen including their imprints. Eraserhead Press, Lazy Fascist, Broken River, Bizarro Pulp Press, Rooster Republic Press, Fireside Press, and WeirdPunk Books. All of us together for fun in the sun.
Saturday was no slouch. There was a huge fireball in the sky, something I haven’t seen for some time, and it was mega-hot. We clung to the shadows as noon approached, praying to our dark lord for an eclipse, but he set us to suffer for our love and we thus submitted to the fire.
Basically, Saturday was hot as fuck. But we still sold a lot of books and spread the gospel. One of the main things I would hear from people new to Bizarro was, “I love your covers.” And dammit, they should. These presses do a fine job of making sure their works stand out. Sometimes people would approach, smiling and excited, and we’d engage in conversation, joke, and sell a copy or two. Others would approach, their eyes lit up with intrigue, only to turn their face to sour grape mode as they read some of the titles.
People watching is a joy. That reaction of excitement and laughter is the usual experience, but the disapproving scowls are just as good. Maybe better. Either way, with around 200 books sold I’d call it a good day for Bizarro.
Saturday night, Michael and Sauda introduced us to a heavy metal themed hamburger bar. Dethklok roared as we tried to end it all with massive hamburgers with names like The Electric Chair and The Death Sentence. We were pregnant with meat and somehow sauntered back to Michael’s apartment where we drifted off to pretzel bun dreams as Sealab from Adult Swim played in the background.
And while I can run you through the daily events that transpired over Sunday, I would rather let this picture tell you. Our very own Nicholas Day chased down the mayor of Chicago to snap a pic.
For more leads on your weird quest, check out http://www.bizarrocentral.com