Friends of Negative Capability [NSFW]Even though I consider myself to be anti-social on a cellular level, I do have some people in my life that I consider friends and toward that end, I would like to share some of them with you. In the early days of the internet, if you met someone you liked, you would offer to trade links, thereby helping both people spread the word. I also remember that back then one factor used to rank your site was how many people linked to you so it became a kind of virtual circle jerk. I don't think of it that way, but there's no denying the facts.
When I started the zine, I was broke, living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan and I was making $25,000 a year as the market editor for a trade magazine about greeting cards. It was a lifetime ago. At the time, there were two shows on Manhattan Public Access that I absolutely loved. The first was called Squirt TV which was hosted by a 14-year-old Jake Fogelnest. It was fucking hilarious and he made it all from his apartment. I felt like he was my cool neighbor who somehow could get the Beastie Boys or Janeane Garofalo to come hang out over his apartment. The show caught on, got picked up by MTV and launched Jake's career. He has written for a lot of TV shows, done the talking head thing on cable clip shows and generally had a reasonable career doing his funny thing even though he's no longer a precocious kid. If you want to keep up with him nowadays, you do what other people do and say, "Shut up and take my money" on Patreon.
The other show that I was obsessed with was Concrete TV which was done by a guy named Ron Rocheleau. When I got my first issue back from the printer, one of the first people I sent my zine to was Ron. He responded by inviting me to a party to celebrate his new season. I went with the intention of introducing myself and striking up on a conversation but I honestly couldn't figure out who he was. From the show I had an image in my mind of what he would look like and I didn't see anyone who was obviously the center of the party. I hung out with my girlfriend (now wife) for a while and then left quietly. I called him the next day to thank him for the invite and to tell him I had a good time. We ended up becoming good friends and I would say we are still friends to this day even though I haven't seen him in at least five years. His show is like taking hard drugs and flipping through channels that are only showing porn, violence, nazis, exercise, car crashes and funny, out of context catchphrases, all edited together in a whirlwind of visual stimulation. There were many nights when I would come home from a night of partying and find Concrete TV on channel 57 and I would watch it while I came down from whatever I was on. I started programming my VCR to tape the show because it only aired once a week and I wasn't always awake or around to watch it. I still have those videotapes and at this point, I doubt they would ever be converted to any format but dust. However, Ron is still alive, he still sells episodes of his show on his site and many years later, I helped him convert some of his tapes into a digital format to post online. I am pretty sure YouTube took them all down either for nudity, violence or copyright reasons but Vimeo doesn't seem to give a fuck. Here's a sample clip from one of his episodes so you can see what I am talking about. I chose this clip for the thumbnail alone, so word of warning, this is definitely not safe for work.
I don't think I have any real peers when it comes to zines. I used to think I was in the same boat as a few zines but they are all gone now. Thinking about my peers feels like that children's book written by a dinosaur called All My Friends Are Dead. I feel that way sometimes about the world of zines but I also feel like I was never following anyone else's path, I wanted to do things my own way and by doing so, hopefully inspire someone else to do things their own way as well.
To me, old is always 10 years older than whatever age I am, so I can never get old myself. I guess if I make it 90 I will stop kidding myself that I have 10 more years before I am old but that is still a lifetime away, if I make it. All of this is to say that I have actually made a friend in the world of zines long after I thought the world of zines was an ancient myth. My memory is pretty legendary in my family but I honestly don't remember how I came across Marc Calvary (full disclosure, even though I consider him a friend, I still sometimes forget if his last name is Calvary or Cavalry and I had to look him up just to confirm that I got it right here). We traded zines and he was the first person in the world of zines who I thought was on my level in terms of production quality and originality. He does a zine called the carbon based mistake, all lowercase, so I will respect his artistic choice. He does a bunch of other zines, some in a series, others are purely one-shots. I probably sent him a pile of my zines and he returned the favor. He did a zine that I really liked called Cherry Pepper where he gave a Polaroid camera to cute girls and they could take tasteful nudes of themselves in a bid for female empowerment. At the time I joked that he was tricking girls into giving him nude photos and he vehemently disagreed with me. I wasn't saying that he was exploiting them for profit because there is no profit in zines but rather he was getting girls to take their clothes off with his words which is a feat in and of itself.
When I was living in Manhattan, he was sharing an apartment with his girlfriend Shannon in Queens. One side of my family began their immigrant story in Queens, the other side in Brooklyn, so I think of them as my homeland. He invited me to his 40th birthday party at his apartment and even though I had never met him or any of his friends, I went. I had no other motive than to meet Marc and have a nice time meeting some other new people. He said he liked to have friends over and have a salon which sounded like a cuddle party without the awkward boner but when he said I could read anything I wanted to, I broke out a story that I was proud of from my latest issue, Fuck Rick Springfield. It was a huge hit at the party and Marc told me that he wanted my permission to use the story to make a one-shot zine when he got a good idea. A few years later he turned that story into a limited edition cassette-only zine and then he gave all of the copies to me. Maybe he kept one for himself, at least I hope he did.
Over the years he has invited me to read at a few events and to sell my zines at other events. The reason I think of him as a real friend of mine and of Negative Capability is that he invited me and my son to sell our work at a few venues and my memories of selling my work side-by-side with my oldest son is something that I will always treasure and he made that happen. If he asked me to do another event in the future, I would not hesitate. We don't talk enough but I consider him a friend for life. When I started writing new material for Negative Capability #6 he said to get in touch because he could help me print it. He works for an evil empire like the Death Star but he is using what he earns to support not only himself but many other artists and zine publishers as well. He gives away free grants to very small publishers out of his own pocket. I have always taken pride in the fact that I want other zines to succeed because I do not think anyone else's success takes away from mine but he really puts his money where his mouth is.