My Favorite Magazine: Esopus

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Esopus is more than a magazine, each issue is a work of art. The “articles” in the magazine are actually pages turned over to a different artist to do whatever they like with. From found beauty to pages from sketch journals to movie scripts and photographs, it’s packed full of fantastic stuff. The design of the magazine and presentation is as impressive as the material it contains.

I got latest issue in the mail today and was inspired to write about it because it has a “can’t miss” section. 24 scanned pages from a journal a soldier kept in a German POW camp. 2nd Lieut Gerald Limon drew cartoons, recorded the lyrics of songs written in camp and kept a detailed list of what books he read while he was there. Beautiful, heart wrenching and  completely inspirational.

The price for subscribing might seem high ($18) for a magazine that only comes out twice a year, but they actually subsidize with donations and sell it at less than cost because they want to reach a wider audience. It’s non-profit, which means no ads and no one to answer to.

Did I mention that it comes with a CD of music? This month it’s songs inspired by dreams that readers sent in. Did I mention that there are removable pieces and foldouts? This month, there’s a pocket page that holds a reproduction of an old handwriting exercise book that has been subtly modified by an artist.

I love it. This is their site. I give it my complete and unpaid endorsement.

Parody Yourself, I Did And Ended Up With A Bacon Tuxedo

The company I work for, Archie McPhee, decided that we were going to do an April Fools joke homepage this year. I had the task of coming up with the products and soon realized that I was basically being asked to parody myself. If you aren’t familiar with the company, our products are incredibly over the top and exaggerated to begin  with. (Our top sellers include Bacon Mints and Remote Controlled Hopping, Yodeling Lederhosen.)

I recommend trying this exercise to everyone who does anything creative. It’s really much harder than you think! Half the ideas I came up with we decided were something we might actually do at some point in the future. (Which makes this exercise useful) The other half were too grotesque or profane to risk affiliation with our company. (Rainbow Flavored Unicorn Poop Candy? No.) I probably went through 15 ideas before settling on the first usable one.

After a few days, I decided to go for products that would be physically impossible, legally impossible or something that no one would want to buy. I came up with the Bacon Scented Bacon Tuxedo, the Baby Parachute, a Beard of Bees Kit and a Surprise Dumpster. You can see them here. Our graphics department did an ace job with the pictures, they sell the whole thing.

The reaction so far has been mixed. Some people, like Seth Godin, get it. Some don’t. I have to admit that I did enjoy the fact that proof of the downfall of civilization sprang from my brain.

The most interesting part of the whole experience for me has been the fact that the world is so over the top now, that people believe a product with this description would actually go on sale:

Beard Of Bees Kit
Tired of boring old facial hair? Take it up to the next level with a Beard of Bees! Years in development, we have finally come up with an economical way to take advantage of all the buzz about bee beards. In each box, you’ll get a tube of royal jelly, a grooming wand and a coupon for bees. Just send in the coupon or call with your redemption number and the following morning you’ll receive a package of 30,000 bees in our patented UPS approved Swarm Sack™ packaging. After they arrive, apply the royal jelly to your chin, neck and chest, shake the bag vigorously and then release the bees. Use included wand to coax bees into beard shape. Fun for birthdays, retirements or bachelorette parties. Not recommended for indoor use.

So, whatever you usually create, try and parody it. See what you come up with, it might surprise you!

April Fools Page

Own Your Own Rocket Belt!

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 11.37.00 AMThere are a few bits of technology that have represented the future since the 50s. The flying car, a robot maid and the rocket belt. Well, thanks to Tecnologia Aerospcial Mexicana you can now buy your own Rocket Belt!

The price might hold you back, $250,000, but if enough rich people buy them, the price will come down as they go into mass production. Only then will the future we have been promised come into being.

Here’s what you get for your money:

1. A fully-tested, custom-made flying rocket belt
2. This belt has been proved to be the most stable design and easier to fly
3. A special machine to make our own unlimited supply of rocket fuel
4. Hands-on training in the process and the equipment
5. Flight training of 10 flights in your own rocket belt
6. Maintenance and setup training
7. 24/7 expert support
8. Housing and food are included during training

They have a warning about using a machine from another company:

Be aware of people that offer plans, parts or a rocket belt that has not flown and tested because you will be killed.
The Rocket Belt is NOT a machine that you can make and fly easily, if someone offers to you plans or parts to make a “cheap” Rocket Belt ask for a demonstration and see an actual flight, don’t be the test pilot of a deadly machine.

All I know is that it’s pretty and shiny and I could jump over the building where I live with a single bound. Plenty of tempting video and picture galleries on their site.

Rocket Belt Site

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