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Volta 2: Il finito.

Volta's colophon on the press bed

The rollers — inked white.

The type, too.

I just pulled 120 (give or take) colophons for Volta, and it’s something I haven’t done in a long, long time.

Print, that is.

I haven’t really talked a lot about what I do to make my money, but trust me, it isn’t making little magazines to send out gratis to friends of the synaesthesia press, and it’s not making and selling letterpress books; it’s not selling collectible books, either. And while I’m not going into specifics here, I will say this: I’m self-employed, and have a few clients, and every single day I wake up and worry my clients are going to fire me, and I’ll wind up in the soup line.

I guess the only consolation there is I won’t be the only one.

So, for the past 6 years — give or take — I’ve been busting ass to make those clients pleased as punch. It’s kept me fed, and I’m lucky enough to have a few bucks in the bank, but the synaesthesia press suffered.

All work and no play makes Jim a dull boy. An unhappy one, too. And what’s more fun than setting type, prepping the make-ready, pulling proofs, and making a book?

Well…to me, nothing.

It was kinda comforting to realize printing is a lot like riding a bike. I mean I was rusty, but overall things went without a hitch.

For the most part.

I have some black Somerset scraps left from another project I’m working on, and those turned into the colophon broadside / page for this installment of Volta. You already know I printed them in white ink, and, well…they turned out kinda squishy.

My proofs were sweet…but it was a hard paper, red ink, and that ain’t the same.

Things shoulda turned out the way the proofs did…but that wasn’t the case. They’re still nice…but far from perfect.

Like I said — kinda squishy. And a hint uneven. At least under my loop they are.

Oh well. I needed to get the job done, and done they are. Tomorrow I start addressing them for the US Mails.

Which is part of what I’m gonna call “The Volta Experience”. You probably know I’m a Wallace Berman nut, and part of Semina was that it simply arrived in your mailbox. You couldn’t buy one (well, that’s not entirely true; I’ve read Berman would drop some off at City Lights from time to time).

Same goes for Volta.

That, and who knows just how it’s going to actually show up in your box? Will the US Postmaster and its shiny machinery smoosh your copy to bits? Will your postman fold it in half and stuff it into your box?

Or will it arrive at your home just the same way it left my studio?

Oh, the anticipation…

Volta's colophon drying

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Various Tales, None of them Tall.

letterpress type cases

Instead of writing on one topic, why not cover a whole bunch of shit today?

I set the colophon for Volta. I like the way it came out, for the most part. I’m limited with Volta cause it’s made from scrap papers — old projects, mainly. That’s part of what keeps my cost down making them, which is a good thing, cause it’s free. I had some typographical issues setting the colophon, and they wouldn’t have existed if I bought paper for it…but oh well. I still like the way it turned out.

Hey — if you want Volta, and you’re not sure if you’re gonna get one, let me know. If I have some left, I’ll send you one.

I’m already looking forward to the next issue, and it’s going to have a movie theme. Themed issues of anything can be dangerous, but I’m willing to risk it. Part of the movie theme has to do with Volta #3’s container / housing. It’s going to all come together quite nicely. So, if you have a short poem, or some art (that you can duplicate 100 times) think about contributing. It’s the bestest, most surest way you’ll receive one.

I’m about to send Henry Denander and his Kamini Press a big ol’ thank you for Bird Effort, Ronald Baatz’s latest book of poems. It’s a beautiful effort, and the poetry’s smart and achingly beautiful. You should really pick up a copy and support both the poet and Kamini.

As I bang this out I’m listening to the 4 Men With Beards re-issue of Otis Redding’s The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads and I’m wondering how, in all my 45 years, I missed this record. Sure, I have Dock of The Bay, and I scored In Person At the Whiskey A Go-Go at my very favorite used record store in the whole wide world — Eastside Records in Tempe, AZ. But nothing prepared me for Sings Soul Ballads. I’ve listened to side 1 seven times now, and the only thing that keeps me from flipping the record over — I just want to this to last…you know? 4 Men With Beards doesn’t have a website, so if you want the record, just hit your local indie record store, or Google it…I guess. OK. On to side 2.

While I was waiting on my plane delay at Phoenix Sky Harbor back to LA, I found Dick Cavett’s blog on one of his shows; this one featured John Updike and John Cheever. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Updike or Cheever, but I’m a huge Cavett fan. Wait. I really liked Cheever’s “Goodbye, My Brother” (but who doesn’t?) and Updike’s book Still Looking: Essays on American Art. Anyways, I squealed like a little girl while I watched this particular show, and I have no idea why. I’ve never seen Cheever or Updike speak, and, like I said, I’m not a fan.

So what gives?

Oh, and side 1 of The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads speaks much more loudly, and much more clearly, than side 2.

At least to me.

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I’m Dropping Letters Like They’re Rhymes, Yo.

setting type

OK, I’m not dropping letters like they’re rhymes, and I have no idea where that “yo” came from; however, I’m setting type for the first time in a long time, and it feels great. But you’d only hear something like “boy oh boy it sure does feel good to set type again!” from a total dork, so just go ahead and crown me King of The Dorks and get it over with.

The second installment of Volta will be out the door by week’s end, and I’ve already got a rough idea of what #3 is gonna look like.

But back to Number Two: contributors include Yours Truly (a found photograph (digitally altered) as well as a found color transparency); Laki Vaz (a digital still showing Herbert Huncke smoking a sherm in the back of a NYC cab from his film); fiction from Jim Pritchard; poetry by Henry Tokarski, Marie Kazalia, Henry Denander, Richard Brautigan, and Charles Bukowski; finally, there’s some pretty clever artwork by Nathan Feller featuring a place to place one of your very best boogers. You read right — a booger card. As in pick your nose and wipe.

Never, ever accuse me of nothing but the Highest of Low Brow art, my friend.

For the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been paying way too much attention to vintage smut, as the cover of Volta shows that whacky influence. That’s a gocco cover, by the way, and I pulled those, too…but somehow a gocco doesn’t carry the same cache as pulling a screen print, me thinks.

I set half of the colophon today, and I’ll finish the job tomorrow, and then I’ll go to press on those by mid-week.

Then, into the US Mails.

100 copies printed, and, in the spirit of Wallace Berman’s Semina, Volta can’t be bought; one will simply arrive at your door.



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Volta is my homage to Wallace Berman.

It’s also an assemblage and a little magazine that’s published whenever I can make it happen.

I named it after James Joyce’s one and only (failed) business venture. It was called The Volta Theater. The Volta was located at 45 Mary Street in Dublin. Opened in 1909, it was Ireland’s very first movie house. Although the very first movie to ever screen in Ireland didn’t take place at The Volta. Which is probably why it failed? I mean it takes a really shitty businessman to open a movie theater in 1909 only to have it fail. Thank goodness. What if The Volta was a success?

Some have even claimed The Volta as myth, as far as it being Ireland’s very first movie house, but that really doesn’t matter, does it?

The first issue of Volta was published in an edition of 50 copies, all of which were sent to the friends, the enemies, and the heroes of the synaesthesia press.

Essentially Volta is a junk shop of sorts, as I take whatever paper scraps I have laying around from completed projects, found scrap paper from thrift stores, and various found objects that I’ve yet to use, and then I just run ’em through one of my presses — after I set the type and proofed it all.

Contents for the first Volta include poems by Bukowski, Brautigan, Litzsky, Denander, and Catlin; there’s one of the many “overs” I had in my archives of the Childish woodcuts that accompanied “The Strangest One of All“, as well as an assemblage / found piece by Jim Pritchard.

John Martin called Volta a “brilliant little piece of publishing”, which made me squeal like a little girl; I squealed a bit louder when he sent me 6 Bukowski poems for future issues.

You can’t buy a copy. It simply arrives at your door.