Support Josh MacPhee, Celebrate People’s History, and Justseeds by pre-ordering the 2nd edition copy of this great book here on the Justseeds website.
In 2010, I blogged the backstory of creating a poster for the 2010 edition of “Celebrate People’s History.” Working on the poster goes as far back as 2006, with artist Mark Cort, about a somewhat forgotten slice of South Carolina colonial history: the Stono Rebellion. I researched the event, cut the stencil, and wrote the text while Mark handled the illustration and layout. The art was in pieces which Josh kindly took and scanned and assembled into a nice CPH poster.
I got an email from Josh earlier this year with the news that the book was getting a second edition publication. He asked for autobiography blurb updates, with more news to be coming soon. Turns out the book will be released early August. I was honored to be in the first book, and glad there will be more posters to discover in this edition. And I’m still fascinated by the events that occurred at the Stono River in 1739, along with the event’s reverberations that can be felt today.
About 15 years ago, I decided to produce a CrankyFest here in San Francisco. I felt then that this not-well-known storytelling device needed more spotlight. As part of the fun, I put together a DIY Shoebox Crankie design and encouraged participants to make their own during the event.
As people continue to click the DIY page, which makes me happy, I thought I’d give the Crankie pages another mention after all these years.
A simple search online shows that Sue Truman’s The Crankie Factory is still getting updated and has amazing links, history, and how-tos. Her website goes deep and is a great resource! Good to see that NW Puppet Center in Seattle is still hosting Crankie Festivals. Before she discovered my site in 2012, I had created a few pages to try to flesh out some Crankie history and mechanical details.
To give this all a bump for 2019 (it has been a while since I’ve posted crankie content), here are most of the older HappyFeet links all in one list. Please note that some of the external links in these older posts may not work anymore.
Bob Clarke’s MAD Zeppelin: The Assembly Begins Putting the Balloon and Hull Units Together (Figures 1-3)
When the 1965 Worst From MAD No. 8 copy arrived in the mail, I went over to the copier machine at work to make copies of Bob Clarke’s MAD Zeppelin insert. I didn’t put much thought into how to make copies. Fortunately, Clarke made all the parts one-sided with perforations that could be folded over to make a second side. I quickly realized that I would have to push the spine of the MAD down a bit to get the parts closest to the gutter to lie flat for the copy.
Yikes! This pushing caused some of the die-cut parts to partially come unattached. There goes a possible grade-reducing defect. Even with moderate pushing, the color copies had a perspective “smear” near the gutter at the magazine’s spine. This can easily be seen in the photo showing most of the Zeppelin’s Balloon Unit (Clarke chose to capitalize the word Zeppelin and its smaller parts throughout his instructions). Look at both parts labelled Tab A and you can see the difference.
I wondered if this would cause the MAD Zeppelin assembly to be a bit off. Since the Balloon was Figure 1 of Clarke’s instructions, I hoped it wouldn’t come out too bad. As we shall see, another part caused the biggest headache, and it wasn’t smeared in the gutter.
As the fate of CELLspace became more clear in early 2014, I knew that I’d have to deal with the murals I’d been facilitating on the building’s facade. The masonite and wood panels were easy enough to take down and store. I had worked directly with the artists so had been in contact with most of them about the fate of their art. One mural went to the Bike Kitchen (they funded its creation). Jet Martinez didn’t want his and didn’t want it to be saved. Many of the artists were OK possibly selling the panels, with some funds going to my Stencil Archive project. Swoon had no desire to save her art and was sad to know the art space was going away.
While in process, the Bryant St. panels came down a bit too early after a tagger painted throw-ups on about three of the panels in July of 2014. I found out later (one of the tagged artists knew the guy) that this person was shit-faced drunk and didn’t even remember destroying three murals. Two of the murals were significant pieces, one being SPIE’s “All our Relations” from 1996.
Alarmed at the vandalism, I got volunteers to quickly take down the panels I had spent months trying to save and rehome. I caught flack from the folks still in the building and had a very terse conversation with the management there about making the space vulnerable and unattractive. Well, it is a warehouse and you can easily redo the windows with your own plywood. As the months advanced, Vau de Vere had many other issues to deal with in the space, and eventually were asked to leave by the developers who planned to build the largest condo building in the Mission.
Ooooh…. 2004. Blogs were exploding. Flash drives were a rarity. Bush’s wars drug on. And good ole’ Happy Feet was on the webstreams. With the recent backing up and rooting around the site, I realized that I still keep a copy of the old version of this site (I call it 2.0) up and running. That’s Jacqueie Ben-Eliezer in the masthead (RIP), Frank “12 Galaxies” Chu with the sign, and Mr. Leon Rosen looking all mean with the sticky note (that says “Leon has a posse”). There’s also my fun “@bomb” favicon, the secret <3 (did emoticons exist in ’04?) link on the masthead, and links to all the other pages I had running at the time. Once blog tech got easy to install and use, I basically took the same themes and used them as categories on this version (WP v3.0). Guess this is my #TBT post a day late….
I’m in the process of saying farewell to StencilNation.org. The book is officially out of print (Manic D Press has corrected me, stating that the fourth printing is still in print) and the website was designed (by Antonio Gomez) in the heady days when Adobe Flash was du jour. With the rise of mobile phones and HTML5 (and the whole responsive site mania), it is time to retire the Stencil Nation site and redirect to Stencil Archive (the mothership).
While backing up Stencil Nation one last time, I saw a random mp3 file on the top level of the site’s backend. I clicked listen and it was a Cross Currents interview I did while on the book tour. It was a great experience and it actually riled up a listener who felt that all public art was vandalism. Fun!
I guess I was worried about taking up too much memory back then. Good thing the cloud revolution caught up and now memory is practically infinite. The interview mp3 is on this site’s cloud, and WordPress even allows super easy linking via its “Add Media” button.
Here’s my original post about the interview:
Had a great bike ride over to the KALW studio near McClearen Park this morning and interviewed with Penny Nelson for Cross Currents. The engineer, a bike commuter, told me another route that sent me through the park and then down Mission St. in the Excelsior District. Found some stencils along that ride home! They posted the show early so here’s the goods. Fast forward in about 3 and a half minutes to hear my segment. About 10 minutes long total.
Just a teaser for now: Over the past few years I’ve been working with Scott Levkoff making very fun adult-themed puppetry events. This is only a sliver of the fantastic vision that Scott has for interactive play, but I have been a minion for his swamp-god Mr. Nobody (black light puppetry… a dream fulfilled at last!), Mr. Nobody himself (and VERY hungry), as well as animated black-light objects, and part of an “animatronic” puppet fortune-telling bit. It’s always a pleasure to work with Scott, so always hard to say no to his invitations.
Coming up, I will be animating objects/puppets for Scott at :::: The first-ever San Francisco Spookeasy Halloween Extravaganza is a new, daring, bold and sophisticated multi-evening experiential destination party that will transform Chinatown’s Great Star Theatre into a scintillating circus-like, madcap séance soiree beckoning back to life ghosts, spirits, and specters from the raucous and rollicking red hot era of 1930’s Burlesque and Barbary Coast Vaudeville in a decadently opulent Max Fleischer-esque ‘ToonTown’ parallel universe’s haunted Prohibition-era Speakeasy.
Sounds fun, right?! More details and pics coming in the following weeks….
Almost to the day today, I arrived in San Francisco in 1997 with two suitcases (one full of camping gear) and a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish in the City by the Bay. The words that kept bouncing around in my head were: diversity, creativity, and adventure. I had no idea there as a dot com boom and that the vacancy rate was under 1%. I didn’t even know what a vacancy rate was! I did know that I wanted to be part of something amazing, and if possible, somehow create amazing cultural bits that others enjoyed.
In 1998, I started volunteering for CELLspace, which at the time was a funky underground artist warehouse with folks who had a similar vision that the one I was chewing on. Years later, I tried to move on and open my time and life up to other amazing projects. So CELL got put on the backburner, until 2008. That was a crucial year for CELL, now a nonprofit with paid employees. While on the road touring for the book and for the Conscious Carnival, word started getting back to me that CELL was financially imploding. I wasn’t surprised.
Then I got a call from Jane and Tony Verma, two long-time Metal Shop artists, asking me to help them curate a stencil exhibit on the facade of CELL. Things were bad at the time and CELL’s doors were shut (all the employees and most of management were very far away from the space) due to no one being there to maintain and run things. But the Metal Shop was still holding their cluster together. The Metal Shop designed and built an amazing metal window-covering mural, complete with space in the bottom for showing art. They had reached out to a few artists in Stencil Nation, but needed more. Stencilada was born, and thus began my final run of volunteering for CELL. Continue reading “Farewell CELLspace; Farewell Murals”
Russell Howze describes his tour as a “three hour zigzag through the Mission District.” For fans of street art, or anyone curious about the changing city, it’s a zigzag worth taking. Howze has been chronicling the stencils, tags, murals and graffiti that decorate San Francisco for 15 years, and is the author of the street art tome Stencil Nation. His tour explores alleys that will be new to residents and tourists alike, and keeps an eye on the shifting cultural tides of the neighborhood. “Urban landscapes are always changing,” Howze said, pointing out that while many of the tech workers moving into the Mission appreciate street art, they also bring security cameras and fences.
Written by Devin Holt (I pitched in with info, editing, and whatnot)
CELLspace, community arts center, closed its doors at the end of 2012.
During the late 90s and early aughts, there was no better place to see the Mission District’s artistic, multicultural vibe than CELLspace. San Francisco prankster Chicken John was known to decorate the 10,000 square foot warehouse as a Las Vegas casino; the Flaming Lotus Girls created their first large scale fire installations in the CELLspace Metal Shop, and during Carnaval, the space would burst at the seams from the ritual drumming, colorful rattling costumes and sheer number of teenagers involved in groups like Loco Bloco and Danza Azteca.
Michael Sturtz was so impressed by CELLspace that he named his industrial arts school, The Crucible, after their art gallery.
Spring time. Cherry blossoms. Nuns in drag. Giants baseball. And St. Stupids Day.
April 1 is always a day to look forward to. Yelling “Jump! Jump! Jump!” up to workers gawking out their windows is worth the bus fare down to join the First Church of the Last Laugh at Justin Herman Plaza. While infill condos continue to rake the skyline across the city (i.e., Dot Com 2.0), some things thankfully never change. Here’s a snap of me at the XXXV St. Stupid’s Day Parade (by Hanna Quevedo for the SFWeekly).
While I’m posting photos, here’s a portrait of me that Garry Bowden took for his Souls of San Francisco project