About this project
Give the Gift of Borg this Holiday! I plan to have my book out for Christmas. Think about giving it as a gift. To make this more enticing, I'm offering a 10% discount on bundles of three books. And you can up your existing pledge (any $15+ pledge level) to add two books to your pledge (of either the ebook or print versions). So...:
IMPORTANT NOTE: The "GarOeuvre" Reward Pack does NOT include any of the special Art Reward Packs. It says "everything above," but that was before we added additional magazine packs and the art rewards. You get one magazine pack and all of the other booty listed in the Rewards section below. Don't worry, I'll treat my GarOeuvre subscribers REALLY well. You'll get a bunch of other stuff not listed (cause it will be different for each person and I'm not sure what it will all be yet.
I'm here on Kickstarter to ask for your help with a book I'm writing. It's called Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems) and it's a comprehensive collection of my best work spanning 30+ years covering art, technology, fringe culture, and DIY.
Putting together such a collection is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've recently returned to freelancing (after over 5 years working full-time at the amazing MAKE magazine) and thought now would be the perfect time to bring this project to life. I've gathered the best articles I've written over the years and I'm putting them in context, with entertaining introductions that tell the stories behind the scenes -- what was going on in the culture around me at the time, who I was working with, some of what happened in putting the articles together. These intros create a meta-narrative that ties everything together. Even though I've written on a broad range of subjects, from art to engineering, music to sex, there are common themes, passions, and concerns that weave their way through it all. I hope to tease out these threads, revealing why my career has moved along its chosen trajectory.
I'm a life-long book lover and want to create a lovely volume, of approximately 250 pages. I will also be creating a digital edition (in Kindle, iBook, and NOOK-readable formats). If I reach certain stretch goals (see below), I will hire one of the amazing designer I know to design the book and someone to create killer cover art. At an even higher stretch goal, I'd like to commission a number of the artists I've worked with over the years to create original work for each chapter. I've had the pleasure to work with some incredibly talented people and it'd be so great to "get the band back together," so to speak.
Many people new to Kickstarter don't realize exactly what's going on here. On Facebook, one person called it "Internet panhandling." It is far from that! For a publishing project like mine, it's basically a way of pre-ordering my book before it's finished, allowing me to pay for production myself and keeping Ramen noodles in my bowl while I complete it. Above are listed the pledge "rewards" that are basically book pre-orders. The pledge bar on the right-hand column is where you enter your pre-order "pledge." The bar also lists "premium" rewards (which include other books I've written, magazines, art, and collectibles, if you're interested in those). Download my PDF sampler if you want to get a taste of what the book has to offer before ordering. And thank you so much for your support of this project!
Here is a taste of what will be included in the book:
- Chapter Zero: The Launch Party - The story about the night before I left my home town and began to live my life in earnest
- The Lemon Song - In which I discover the magical shape of a woman's thighs and the true mean of rock n' roll
- Operation Mindfuck - How Robert Anton Wilson discovered me and what he did to me when he found me
- By This River - I meet the woman of my dreams, by a river of music, in a universe next door
- Radio Days of Cyberspace - The night I leaked out into cyberspace and caught a glimpse of our future there
- Journey to Kooktopia - Mark Frauenfelder and I survey far-out realms in the land of the tinfoil hats
- The Sandwich Mailed 'Round the World - I chain-letter mail a foam rubber B.L.T. (long story) to artists around the world and it comes back one year later, stuffed with awesome
- This Shit Doesn't Stink, It Exceeds the Odor Threshold - A playful look at double-speak
- Captain, Please, Not in Front of the Klingons - In which I take an unashamed peek (OK, maybe a little blushing) at erotic sci-fi fan fiction
- In the Laboratory of Language - My 12 years as the Jargon Watch editor of Wired
- Mein Fuhrer, I Can Walk! - Confined to a wheel chair, I go to a costume party as Dr. Strangelove and am miraculously healed by music and dance
- Tears in the Rain - The night I saw Blade Runner and molted into someone else on the way home
- The Post-Industrial Manifesto - After a night of dark dervish dancing at a gothic-industrial club, I pen a breathless manifesto for techno-culture
- The Internet is Punk Rock! - The "While You Were Out" message you never expect: "Billy Idol called. He wants to use something you wrote as lyrics on his next record."
- Borg Like Me - My hip dies. I need a new one. Cobalt-chrome, titanium, irradiated cross-liked polymers, and a badass surgeon with a bone saw to the rescue!
- MAKE vs. The Blob - I experience my first Maker Faire and have an epiphany about the importance of what the maker movement may mean to cultural change
- A VCR Was Harmed in the Making of this Article - In a fit of frustration, I go Medieval on the family VCR and it ends up on the cover of MAKE
- Seek Ye the Hilaritas! - On the Roman virtue of being "profoundly good natured"
- The White Goddess - My ode to the the poetic stillness of profound beauty
- Bread of the Snowpocalypse - I get seriously snowed in, and using disturbingly old, stale ingredients, bake the most satisfying bread of my life
- William Blake, Zine Publisher - A look at William Blake as a "patron saint of makers"
- Darkside Rocketeer - A profile of self-taught chemist, aerospace engineer, and father of American rocketry, Jack Parsons
- Mechanical Animism - Exploring found object art, "post-industrial surrealism," and the leaky margins between the born and the made
- Down the Rabbit Hole with the World's Smallest Postal Service - What happens when I get Lilliputian mail and reminisce about the time I found a magical rabbit hole inside a tree in my yard (and I hadn't ingested anything funny)
- Building Spaceships Out of Fives and Sixes - In doing research for a novel, I rediscover a ritual from my pagan youth and use it to escape the terror of pending open heart surgery
- Boating the Abyss - After getting a bad blood transfusion, I go certifiably bonkers for a week and think I'm living inside of a Philip K. Dick novel. It's a long road out of Hell, but I return, learning a lot about myself (and perhaps something about the nature of reality and madness) in the process.
- You’re ON! - How a touching reminiscence about my late wife with members of Thievery Corporation almost makes them miss their big encore
I came of of age in a hippie commune, I worked as a printer, artist, and author in underground and zine publishing, I've been on the Internet since before it had a name, and wrote the first book about the Web (Mosaic Quick Tour). I was a founding column editor for Wired (Jargon Watch), an editor at bOING bOING (when it was a print magazine) and a section editor for Mondo 2000. I was married to musician Pam Bricker (of Thievery Corporation) and helped her self-publish much of her own music. I was also the Assistant Director of Patch Adams' Gesundheit Institute for ten years. I've done a lot of living n' loving in my 50+ years (never you mind the hard number) and I've been taking notes the entire time. In this book, by combining previously published work and entirely new material, I'm going to piece together and explain some of that journey, hopefully sharing some of what I've learned along the way.
One thing that's particularly exciting about doing a project like this on Kickstarter is working with backers to actually help steer the course of the project itself. The main way to do this is for backers to help me reach stretch goals above and beyond my baseline goal. I would really like for this to be a beautiful book, with the art and design as important as the written content. The $15K project goal is enough for me to produce a modestly designed and published book where I do most of the design work myself (and rely on the help of family and friends). If I reach the stretch goals below, however, I will be able to create a much more impressive volume and will get to hire paid collaborators to help me put it all together. The result will be a much a better produced product with swankier production values. Here are the stretch goals so far. I will be adding new goals and rewards as the campaign goes on.
If we reach $20,000, I will be able to pay a book designer and copy editor. Having worked in publishing for most of my adult life, I know some truly amazing and talented designers and editors. It would be a thrill to work with several of them on this project. And it will make the book so much better.
If we reach $25,000, I will hire a artist and commission original artwork for the cover, and maybe for some incidental internal art, too.
If we reach $30,000, I will hire some of the incredibly gifted artists and illustrators I've worked with in the past to do original pieces for the book. I thought it might be fun to have people who've worked with me at a certain time in my career (say, one of the bOING bOING illustrators) to illustrate a piece in the book from that publication/era and have them try and "channel" their own feelings and reminiscences of that time in the work as I'll be doing with my meta-commentary via intros to each piece. Many of these pieces were so much a product of their moment, I'd like to bring some of that context back (with the benefit of today's perspective).
A number of artists have already preliminarily agreed to be involved in the project if we reach this goal. These amazing artists include Mark Frauenfelder, Shannon Wheeler, John Bergin, Bill Barker, Danny Hellman, Shawn Wolfe, Darick Chamberlin, Chip Wass, Jeremy Mayer, Lea Redmond. As the campaign goes on, I'll be adding additional names to this list. I'd like to approach some people that I've always admired but haven't had the opportunity to work with.
If we reach $40,000, I'll produce a hardbound version of the book (with a color dust jacket), create a new pledge level for it, and upgrade all of the $150 and above pledge levels from the paperback version to the hardbound.
Additional stretch goals may be added over the course of the campaign and will be announced in project email updates. Stay tuned.
I've put together a number of special reward bundles to offer backers. In working on this project, I've been going through all of my writing archives, my photo albums, and rooting around in my attic, looking for material to include. In doing this, I've unearthed some amazing gems: A box of unopened Beyond Cyberpunk! packages, boxes of bOING bOING and Mondo 2000 magazines, a box of my Jargon Watch books. I even found a box of unassembled issues of my 90s zine, Going Gaga. I've put all of these together in a series of "Collector Packs." All of this stuff is super rare and very collectable.
New Reward Levels!
Art Reward Level #4
Cigarette Boy and Shannon Wheelie - You get everything from the $40 level, plus one extremely rare (only six copies) of the expanded edition of Darick Chamberlin's iconic Cigarette Boy, cyberpunk "proto-novel." This edition has additional art pages, over-printing on pages, and inserts. Really a lovely, rare artifact. You also get one of Shannon Wheeler's original cartoons from The New Yorker. This one is larger than the others, 6 x 9, on a nice card stock, and beautifully rendered. You also get a copy of Darick's signed, laminated Cigarette Boy cover art (being offered in Art Bundle #2), and a copy of the Beyond Cyberpunk! comic. This is a great deal! ($200 pledge)
Art Reward Pack #3
One of the many positive aspects of doing this Kickstarter has been reconnecting with so many artists that I've worked with over the years. Two of these cats are John Bergin and Danny Hellman.
I've know John since the zine heyday of the early 1990s. He put out a zine called Brain Dead. I was publishing Going Gaga. The first two fellow zinesters I hooked up with were John and Mark Frauenfelder of bOING bOING. Even the names themselves, Brain Dead, bOING bOING, Gaga, had a sympathetic resonance to me. Mark, John, and I have been connected ever since. John and I have collaborated on a number of projects over the years, including John's contributions to my Going Gaga and Beyond Cyberpunk! projects. I also wrote the precis to his incredible 1993 graphic novel From Inside and he and I collaborated on 2005's Traitor General, a soundtrack to a book of the same name by our mutual pal, sci-fi author Dan Abnett. John is a fine and graphic artist, animator, musician, movie-maker, writer, there seems to be little creatively that he can't do (eg. In 2008, he turned his From Inside graphic novel into a 71 minute animated film, doing most of the work himself). For this Art Reward, John is providing three signed CDs from two music projects he's done, Trust Obey's Fear and Bullets (John's soundtrack to friend and collaborator James O'Barr's iconic comic book, The Crow, The Crow Remix CD, and Lolo's Bad Idea (which John co-wrote, produced, and plays on). John did all of the art and design for these three CDs, so they look as good as they sound.
Danny Hellman was my first. The first thing I ever wrote for bOING bOING (issue #7) was called "Babbling Homeless Clowns from Outer Space," about a bizarre encounter I had with a crazy homeless guy in a filthy clown suit on the New York subway. This piece reappears in Borg Like Me as "Below the Clown." Danny did an amazing illustration for it in bOING bOING and I've been a fan of his work ever since. Danny's distinct illustrations and comics have been found on the covers and inner pages of such publications as The Village Voice, Guitar World, Time, FHM, and the notorious Screw. And, of course, bOING bOING. Danny has already illustrated one of the previously unpublished pieces that will be in my book, "Building Spaceships Out of Fives and Sixes." (See the image here.) This was a piece I wrote in 2009 for a bOING bOING project that never happened. I want to pay Danny for this awesome work (and hire a bunch of other crazy-good artists), and I will be able to do so if we reach the art stretch goal. For this reward level, Danny has donated two signed, limited edition screen prints, 11 x 14. They're called "Cosplay Apocalypse: Fukushima" and "Cemetery Nude."
This $100 Reward Level (see right column) includes everything in the $40 reward, plus the three signed John Bergin CDs and one of the Danny Hellman prints. Please send me a note about which print you want. You will also get a copy of my and Mark Frauenfelder's 20-page Beyond Cyberpunk! mini-comic.
Art Reward Pack #2
Tonight I'm posting the second of the Art Rewards Packs, featuring some of the astounding artists who've agreed to work on Borg Like Me if we reach the $30K goal. This pack features two of my favorite artists that I had the pleasure to work with during the bOING bOING print heyday (and Darick worked on Beyond Cyberpunk! as well).
Darick Chamberlin first came to my attention via Cigarette Boy, his bizarre "mock machine, mock-epic," a brilliant GBC-bound proto-novel that read like the ravings an insane AI regurgitating its synthetic Id. The book-length run-on brain dump was loaded with so many cool made-up technologies and corporation names, computer code-like instructions, bits of cyber-malarky, and a dark near-future history, complete with a trench warfare on Phobos, mega-corporate conspiracies, and character names like Detective Sun, Chief Inspector La Grive, the Plastic Clan, and the titular Cigarette Boy.
Since that audacious work put Darick on the map, he's done projects for Dark Horse Comics, Microsoft MINT, SF Eye, William Gibson's Yardshow, The Kentucky Dept. of Homeland Security, the Burger King Star Wars marketing push in 2005, and a CD cover project for Sigue Sigue Sputnik. He also did work for bOING bOING and the infamous Blipvert Zone digital art piece in the Beyond Cyberpunk! Update Stack. Darick wants you to know that he is currently working on a novel "that can actually be read and understood." And that he was half of the awesome, now sadly now-defunct, Zaius web zine with Shawn Wolfe.
For this Kickstarter Art Rewards Pack, Darick has put together a special piece, a lovely signed, laminated print of the combined front and back covers of Cigarette Boy. It's one-sided, 11" x 8 3/4", printed two-color on glossy cover stock and laminated. This is a really cool, very collectible piece brimming with "Miltonics, "Non-Partisan Conceptual Void," and "Hopi Dust," to pull at random from Cigarette Boy.
And speaking of Darick's old collaborator, Shawn Wolfe, we have five each of 2 of Shawn's awesome art pieces that ran in bOING bOING and the Happy Mutant Handbook. Shawn is probably best known for his art alter ego, Beatkit(tm), a personal brand he created in 1984. It was a brand persona with an expiration date -- "Since 1984 Until 2000 Beatkit(tm)." Shawn's very bold, graphical work mashed up consumer brands, trademarked words like "Shit(r)," and created incomprehensible products that didn't feel any less comprehensible than real products. For this package, Shawn's donating the Remover Installer and his Panic Now poster, an image that became somewhat iconic in 90s underground art and cyberpunk circles. Since that golden era, Shawn has created album packages for the culture-jamming performance group Negativland, and counts MTV, Microsoft, MSN, Sub-Pop, Capitol Records, Schematic Records, Filter, Smashing Ideas, One Reel, and House of Blues among his clientele.
This reward pack includes one of two 18" x 24" screen printed posters on nice stock. You can request which of the two posters you want after the campaign is over, when I send out a survey at the end. We'll try and accommodate your request. This package also include the 20-page Beyond Cyberpunk! mini-comic by me and Mark Frauenfelder.
This Art Rewards Pack #2 is $100 and is limited to ten units.You get everything in the $40 reward pack, plus the Cigarette Boy art, one Shawn Wolfe poster, and a BCP mini-comic. ($100 Pledge Level)
Art Reward Pack #1
I have some amazing news for my Kickstarter campaign. I've gotten several amazing artists to sign on to my already mind-expanding roster of artists. Bart Nagel and Libby Bulloff have joined the team! Bart is best remembered as being the brilliant art director behind Mondo 2000. His design and photography inspired much that came after that iconic Bay Area "cyberdelic" techno-culture magazine. Libby Bulloff has been called the Annie Leibovitz of steampunk portraiture (OK, *I* called her that, but still...). She is a Seattle-based artist and photographer whose work you may have seen on Boing Boing, WarrenEllis.com, Wired.com, and MAKE. I'm thrilled to have these two photo artists/designers that I respect so much pledging to work with me if we reach the $30K stretch goal. They'll be joining the already stellar cast of Mark Frauenfelder, Shannon Wheeler, Danny Hellman, Chip Wass, John Bergin, Darick Chamberlin, William Barker, Shawn Wolfe, and Jeremy Mayer.
And many of the above artists have generously donated work for me to give away as rewards for pledging to my Borg Like Me campaign. Here is the first artist reward package. It includes an ORIGINAL Shannon Wheeler New Yorker cartoon! Shannon's work with the New Yorker has not only introduced a much wider audience to Shannon's art (best known for the underground classic, Too Much Coffee Man), but the collection of his NYer strips, I Thought You Would Be Funnier, won him a prestigious Eisner Award. You will get to own an original of one of these New Yorker comics. Shannon usually sells these for up to $200 each, so they're a bargain in this bundle.
William Barker's hugely influential Schwa comic, depicting all-seeing, almond-eyed aliens and their hapless stick-figured human thralls, took the underground culture of the 90s by storm. Bill went from publishing his comics and strange, compelling art in zines and selling his own Schwa schwag directly to being published by Chronicle Books and courted by (Colossal) Pictures, MTV, and AOL. There's not a lot of Schwa schwag left in the world. William has shared 10 packs of three Schwa stickers with us for this reward level.
For a pledge level of $100, you get everything in the $40 pledge package plus one original Shannon Wheeler cartoon, one Schwa sticker pack, and I'm also throwing in a bonus 20-page Beyond Cyberpunk! mini-comic (written by me and Mark Frauenfelder, and drawn by Mark). This is limited to 10 units. ($100 Pledge Level)
And stay tuned for more art reward packages (and note that you can change your pledge at any time up to the end of the campaign).
The Eros Part - The subtitle of my book is "& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems." These three areas neatly summarize my main life and professional concerns: (Art) all forms of creative expression, (Eros) explorations of love and the sensual world, and (Embedded Systems) science and technology. The book will have articles about my coming of age (in the biblical sense), falling in love with my late wife, and several breathless odes to women and divine beauty. But over the course of my career, I've published a number of articles (and written many unpublished pieces) that more deeply explore love and sex. I was not comfortable putting this material in the book, but I felt like I couldn't accurately draw a map of of my journey over the past three decades and not cover this territory -- at least to make it available to those who are interested. So, for an $85 pledge, in addition to the print and digital versions, you will also get a digital bundle (edited, introduced, designed like the rest of the book) of at least five pieces, both previously published and new material, that more unguardedly explore the "Eros Part." Decidedly NSFW. ($85 Pledge Level)
Gar's Magazine Collector Pack: This reward is SOLD OUT. But check the pledge bar on the right for new Magazine Collector Packs.
Beyond Cyberpunk! Collector Pack: This bundle includes an unopened copy of the 5-disk Beyond Cyberpunk! Hypercard-based ebook (co-created with Peter Sugarman, Mark Frauenfelder, Jim Leftwich, and others), housed in a Lucite box with booklet and five embossed silver-labeled disks, the 1992 BCP update disk, "What Happened to the Future Since Last We Talked," the Beyond Cyberpunk! mini-comic, the original Beyond Cyberpunk! sales brochure, the BCP media kit, which includes contributor bios, screen shots, review clips, a "What They Are Saying" sheet, and more, the B&W pixel art CyberSanta by the mysterious Ward Parkway that we sent out as a Christmas bonus, a digital copy of Beyond Cyberpunk! emailed to you (which includes both the main and update stacks), and a new edition of the Beyond Cyberpunk! T-shirt with Ward Parkway's awesome 2Fresh cyberspace doughboy on the front. Beyond Cyberpunk! is an important part of cyberspace history. Here's your opportunity to own a complete collection of extremely rare Beyond Cyberpunk! artifacts. See the Rewards column for everything included in this pack. ($150 pledge level)
The "GarOeuvre" Ultimate Collector Pack: Show your support for me and my work by ponying up for this massive collection of my work. Own my oeuvre! This includes everything from the Magazine Collector Pack, the BCP Collector Pack, plus a copy of my Jargon Watch book, a signed copy of Mosaic Quick Tour book (the first book about the Web!), a copy of the Catalog of Tomorrow (a 2003 guide to the future that I heavily contributed to), the Device #2 book, Reconstructed (a gorgeous collection of found art sculpture and other "post-industrial art" that I wrote the intro for), a copy of the first edition of the Maker's Notebook w/sticker sheets! (a blank project notebook that I put together for MAKE), and signed, art bookplates for all of the books. That's one big-ass box o' awesome, lovingly assembled over three decades by yours truly and an amazing community of collaborators. ($500 pledge level)
IMPORTANT NOTE: The "GarOeuvre" Reward Pack does NOT include any of the special Art Reward Packs. It says "everything above" in the rewards column to the right, but that was before we added additional magazine packs and the art rewards. You get one magazine pack and all of the other booty listed in the description above. Don't worry, I'll treat my GarOeuvre subscribers REALLY well. You'll get a bunch of other stuff not listed ('cause it'll be different for each person and I'm not sure what it will all be yet).
Any and all of the above can be signed and inscribed at your request.
Look for additional special awards to be announced over the course of the campaign.
One of the exciting things about this project already has been how quickly it's turned into a creative collaboration with some amazing people. I'm thrilled to be working with these folks and can't wait to rope in more co-conspirators. A million thanks to:
Blake Maloof: Book cover mock-up, PDF book sampler design and graphics, video motion graphics, KS page design.
Gillian BenAry: Editor and book muse.
Insect Factory: Video music.
Artists Who've Signed On: All of the artists listed above who've agreed to be part of the Art Stretch Goal ($30K). I can't wait to work with all of you again!
Risks and challenges
I'm going to make every effort to have this book done and to you for the winter holiday season this year, 2013. I'm planning to ship the books and rewards packages in early November.
Because this is a collection of mainly previously-published work, the heavy lifting is already done. I've assembled all of the material and am well into writing the introductions for all of the pieces. The most time consuming part will be laying out the book and getting it off to the printer. I will be updating everyone who pledges at any level with regular news of progress and any snags I run into.
This is a work-in-progress (I've pro published seven books, but never self-published). I've been learning crowdfunding and self-publishing as I'm going and it's been a fascinating process. I'll be sharing some of what I've learned in my regular project updates. If it turns out that I'm going to over-shoot the early November deadline, I'll give backers plenty of warning.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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