Monday September 30, 2002

I found this on a Neutral Milk Hotel site and I stopped typing and rubbed my eyes. And of course it had to be and it is perfect. And perfect combined with perfect is not always perfect but this is perfect. And the harmonica is unwelcome, and John can't remember the lyrics right when spirals of white smoke are supposed to be softly flowing over eyelids, but suddenly he rescues it: his fists pummel the strings down into the chorus about placing fingers round the notches in your spine. And he sounds nervous and desperate and totally in love with that chord progession.

My two favorite artists. That's my kind of two-headded boy! Your peanut butter in my chocolate. It's John Darnielle doing "Two-Headed Boy pt.1" by NMH.

Thursday September 26, 2002

I laid out my book last night. Whew. I've exported a couple of sample spreads because I'm so proud of it.

Basically, I decided on Bembo. Bembo for the text and Univers Extended for the titles. That was the hardest part and the most crucial decision because the flow of the text varies a lot with subtle font changes and it would require re-positioning all the photographs. If the text moves even one page I have to re-import and place all 100 photos. That’s how Quark works.

It’s about 150 pages and there’s about 60 full size photos (a big gorgeous picture every 3 pages!) and about 40 little thumbnail folios. I decided that I wanted to put in some of the reference or documentary type photos that aren’t that interesting art-wise but help show the stuff I’m writing about. I like how they’re little visual navigation guides within the text. If you know what’s going on, you can find a section of the book by looking at the thumbnails.

Rose calls them "visual gossip" and I think that's a really cool thing to call them.

I was planning on scanning a bunch of the scraps of paper that I collected on my journey also. I have train tickets and matchbooks and stamped documents of all kinds. I thought those would be neat as folios also. Right now I just have photo thumbnails but I may work on scanning those little buggers.

I haven't decided about using a border around the photos. This is the way they are on the website but I'd initially planned to go borderless for the book. But looking at it laid out with borders for so long is changing my mind. If anyone has a suggestion about this or any thing else book related I'd appreciate it.

I'm also not sure about the font for the timestamp. It's Russell Square and I think it might be a little too techy. The process of writing this stuff and putting it out so people can read it has been immensely technical. Webservers, laptops, stylesheets, browsers, XML, spellcheckers, autocorrecters, the Indian Telecommunications Infrastructure, digital scanning, unsharp masking, DV taping, pirating $20,000 worth of fonts off the Internet. It's all been a huge learning experience. Except for running the printing press and doing the chemical processing of my film, I've done everything. And that font is a tiny homage but maybe it doesn't work. Don't know.

The main work of design is done. Now I need to collect all the scanned images, resize and otherwise get them ready for printing (no small feat) and find a damn printer. I’m worried that all the little thumbs will double the cost of my book. That may be a struggle to justify and I may have to toss them. Anyhow, I’m hoping for <10 dollars a book printing costs. I know, stupid.

Friday September 13, 2002

I have it pared down to roughly 60 photographs and about 55,000 words. It is hard to cram that into a small, inexpensive book and still make it look like a nice beautiful art book. No matter how much you fiddle with fonts and margins and gutters it still wants to be a 300 page monster. I'm going to try to keep from getting hellishly drunk every night so I have some time left over to design this book. Making a book like this is really hard because I have to place all the photographs and they have to be at the right place in the text and it all has to flow properly even after I nudge a margin in. Plus, I want to put a lot of beautiful little individual flourishes in it like McSweeney's does.

I'm taking the first few entries from "November", when I first arrive in India, and dropping all the later stuff about Thailand and even the first part of the "IJLNBT" and making it all flow together. So I skip from my first day in India and can't figure out how to turn on a faucet, ahead to the next year when I'm getting dragged through the back door of the Taj Hotel into the Bombay Times Party. I'm leaving in all the Mom and Mystery Woman stuff. It's going to be gorgeous and unlike anything in any bookstore.

Tuesday September 10, 2002

I'm working on my book. At this point, it's going to be 8x8 hardcover and half photographs. Not sure how many pages I can do but I'm hoping 250. Ok, that's my stupid dream. I'm looking at on-demand printers right now and selecting the images. I have been thinking that I have to trim down "November" and "It's Just Like Not Being There" and I hate to do it because I have this thing about not editing afterwards but I want to put a lot of photos in the book and the text alone is almost 300 pages at this point. I'm also trying to learn QuarkXpress because I'm going to design it myself. That's basically why I don't give a shit about this blog anymore.

Saturday September 7, 2002

People keep asking me if I took any pictures at burning man. I had forgotten that I did. This is the toilets at 135 and mainmast. Except a loving photo of my minivan, and a digital photo of my sunburned back so I could see where to put on sunscreen, it's the only photo I took.

After looking at my friend Dave's really nice pictures of burning man I questioned my disinterest in taking photos at burning man. I don't give a shit about photography at burning man, but why not? Well, I generally don't think there is anything interesting there and worthy of a photo. I tell people, yeah, there's lots of crazy shit going on but there's also tons of photographers running around capturing it. Why do I need to do it also? But then I saw all the cool photos that Dave took and I realized that it wasn't that I didn't want to take pictures of burning man, its that I like to take pictures of things that aren't usually in photographs. My beloved subjects are the ignored and the mundane that for some reason are spectacular to me. So in a festival where everything is screaming for attention and painted up like a gaudy whore, I see no photos.