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If you can recall the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, then you have a crystalline picture of the present state of the music industry: absolute carnage on all fronts. Record labels have begun suing people for illegally downloading new albums, while paradoxically, more and more bands, such as Green Day, are streaming their new albums for free. Technology has leveled the playing field, allowing anyone with a MacBook to release an album, and the price of gas continues to push more and more up-and-coming bands off the road because they can no longer justify driving a hundred miles to split $50 four ways. It seems like nobody’s making a living anymore, except the lawyers and maybe the toothpaste companies buying ads on American Idol.

An artist would have to be plumb crazy to walk away from a well-oiled support team and try to enter this fray alone. Right?

“It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to”
–Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

In 2005 Austin Kleon experienced a bad case of writer’s block. Right out of college, after having studied creative writing, he was struggling to write a short story. To break out of the rut he took a Sharpie to nearby newspapers and started crossing out sentences, leaving only a few words and large swaths of black ink in his wake. Unknowingly, he created something he calls Newspaper Blackout Poems.

I was having a conversation with my friend Pat, who doesn’t read much, but who is nonetheless imbued with inebriated folk wisdom, he asked me, “what are you doing tonight?”  ” I am going to see (insert any name of any author reading in the Pac-NW) read at Third Place (or Elliot Bay, or Hugo House, or Pilot).” “Dude.” “Yeah.”  “. . . what the hell is a book reading?” “It’s when someone reads from something they’ve written, and you sit in the crowd and listen.  Then it’s usually followed by questions.”  He looked over at me with a dead look in his eye, “No offense dude, but that sounds boring as hell.  It reminds me of being in school.”

“You’re going to sell books, in this economic climate?”  In This Economic Climate.  In This Economic Climate.  In This Economic Climate. Really, it’s often like a Seinfeld skit.

Spring at my house is like a duel in an old western. My husband wields the Home Depot catalog, packed with tons of stuff for DIY backyard projects. My weapon of choice is the Crate & Barrel catalog, loaded with staged backyard idylls that make me want to reach for the lemonade pitcher.