Zinesters Mike White and Mike Faloon sign and read new works
Atomic Books, Hampden, Friday, November 19, 2010
Friday, November 19th was the “Night of Two Mikes” at Hampden’s Atomic Books, where owners Benn Ray and Rachel Whang doubled down on the literary-finds-for-mutated-minds on offer by hosting two zinesters-turned-authors reading from their works. Young people today sometimes forget that before the Internet made self-publishing and social networking pandemic, “zines” (along with comics and public access TV) were one of the few outlets for underground, alternative media in the early ’90s – and the two Mikes were diehard pioneers of the medium.
Mike White was in town to read from and sign copies of Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection, a collection of the best writings (and “13.2% all new stuff!”) from his movie fanzine Cashiers du Cinemart (1994-present). (Besides main author Mike White, Impossibly Funky also collects articles by contributors Leon Chase, Chris Cummins, Skizz Cyzyk, Andrew Grant, Clifton Howard, Rich Osmond, Mike Thompson, and Andrea White.) Like White, Mike Faloon is a fellow zine publisher (Zisk, Go Metric), not to mention the drummer of the pop-punk band Egghead (1992-1998, 2010), but on this night he was reading from his short story fiction collection The Hanging Gardens of Split Rock.
Mike Faloon opened the festivities and proved to be a surprisingly talented orator, punching his copy with the confidence and natural cadence of a news anchor; he could easily switch careers from public school teacher to audiobook narrator. Mike White then delighted the audience by reading a hilarious “day-in-the-life of a movie theater employee” essay, one of the first things he wrote for Cashiers du Cinemart and a stellar reminder of why “workplace zines” are so popular – everybody can relate to work foibles and follies, especially jobs that involve dealing with crazy or irksome customers; White, who graciously plugged the comics art of Impossibly Funky’s cover co-illustrator Jim Rugg (Afrodesiac, Street Angel, The Plain Janes), also revealed his Midwestern roots when he referred to sodas as “pop.”
As an added treat, Mike White’s wife Andrea presented him with a beautifully detailed, locally baked Ace of Cakes movie theater cake. “Impossibly Funky” was playing at this cake theater, with an outside crowd peopled by the very B-movie characters celebrated in the pages of Cashiers du Cinemart over the years. But fans couldn’t partake of it until the following evening’s “MicroCineFest Reunion Screening” at Station North’s Windup Space, which the two Mikes also attended (and where Mike White’s Who Do You Think You’re Fooling? was screened).
It was fitting that the two Mikes made a pit stop in Baltimore to promote their books, as both authors, while not from Baltimore, have strong ties to the city’s film and music scene – which it would not be a stretch to call Six Degrees of Skizz Cyzyk. Both Mikes have served as judges on Skizz’s MicroCineFest film jury and “Mike the White” has screened film shorts at MicroCineFest (including Who Do You Think Your Fooling?, his infamous expose of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs), while “Mike the Faloon” has played with Egghead at the Mansion Theater, Skizz’s former home and screening/concert center. A number of Baltimore-based musicians and film geeks have also written for Cashiers du Cinemart, including Skizz and his sometime musical partner Scott Wallace Brown (Mink Stole & Her Wonderful Band, The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz, The Bowlermen). Even local public access show Atomic TV popped up in CdC #13 in a “Zines of the Airwaves” review by Terry Gilmer (God’s Angry Man).
As a result, the audience teemed with local musicians and filmmakers – Craig Smith (Psychedelic Glue-Sniffing Hillbillies), Degenerettes Rahne Alexander and Kristen Anchor, Jennifers and Garage Sale guitarist John Irvine, Joe Tropea (co-director of the documentary Hit and Stay and former Jennifers bassist), Dave Cawley (Garage Sale bass player, Urbanite fashion model, and erstwhile Go Metric contributing writer), Atomic TV‘s Tom Warner and Scott Huffines – who had either collaborated with the two Mikes or been influenced by their work. Naturally, Skizz was also there – Skizz Cyzyk, the Skizz with two Z’s (not to be confused with Baltimore’s other Skizzer, music producer honcho Skiz Fernandez).
Jim Hollenbaugh, curator of the Moviate Harrisburg cult film series, even drove down from Pennsylvania to see the Mikes and, of course, catch up on his Atomic Books shopping. Hollenbaugh also was in town to go to dinner with his pals Scott Huffines (Atomic TV, Baltimore Or Less) and John Waters.
On the way out of Atomic Books, Japanese giant monster fan Dave Cawley was overjoyed to spot a car with a Michigan vanity plate proclaiming “GAMERA.” Naturally, it belonged to none other than that purveyor of fine, eclectic taste, Mike White!