Issue 35, Final Fringe


National Day of Silence for Net Radio


Save it, kids! New royalty rates for internet radio are set to go into effect on July 15, which will put many small webcasters out of bidness. Broadcasters have declared today a National Day of Silence, and will be observing it at various times during the day today. Save Net Radio has organized the effort; here’s more from their press release:

The regularly scheduled programming of millions of Internet radio listeners will be temporarily interrupted tomorrow when tens of thousands of U.S. webcasters observe a national Day of Silence. Protesting the recent 300 percent royalty rate increase for online music webcasters, the aim of the industry wide daylong blackout is to raise awareness of the threat these new rates pose to the future of Internet radio and rally support for legislation pending in Congress.

“Webcasters of every size and from every corner of the country will stand united tomorrow to protest a very real and fast approaching threat to their livelihood,” said Jake Ward, a spokesperson for the SaveNetRadio Coalition. “With nearly a half million emails and phone calls from webcasters, listeners, and the artists they support sent to Congress in just the last two months, this national grassroots campaign... more »

more »

ING Direct Commercial - Yay!


I saw a great ING Direct commercial the other night that encouraged women to stop spending their money on expensive purses and start putting the money into savings accounts so that it can grow (and then be used for bigger, better purchases, like, uh, a house for instance).

See the ING commercial here.

I know that ING obviously wants more customers, but this commercial raises women’s awareness about the temptation to spend hard-earned cash on non-practical items.

This culturally-encouraged pamper-spending has long been one of my biggest gripes. I get so angry at the notion that women should “treat themselves” to [fill in the blank here: lipstick, a massage, Botox treatment, Prada footwear] as a reward for hard work. If women were encouraged to save their money for big purchases, then maybe more than only 18% of home buyers in the U.S. would be single women.

Yay ING!

more »

Fringe Binge 3: The Summer Solstice


That’s right, the summer solstice is upon us (okay, it was yesterday), and what better way to celebrate the longest day of the year than by partying with Fringe Magazine! It’s our annual fundraiser, and this time we’ve upgraded from my house to the fabulous downstairs at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square. The party is from 7-10pm – we’ll have hot munchies to share and rockin’ beats courtesy of DJ Tanya Ca$h. So if you’re in the Boston area, come out and support independent publishing! (Cost: $7 at the door)

Bring your dancing shoes and your drinking hat!

more »

Bound: A Feminist Reading?


I’m a big fan of all things noir, but even though my father lent me this movie close to three years ago, I’d put off seeing it. I can’t really say why, other than the unappealing cover photo, and the billing that it was the movie the Wachowski Brothers made before The Matrix.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the gritty noir plot of two million dollars, mobsters, wife beating, and lesbians. A surface reading of this movie might extoll the way the film twists classic noir conventions by empowering the femme fatal Violet(Jennifer Tilly) to take control of her situation and try to screw over her abusive husband. Gina Gershon plays Corky, a butch lesbian thrown into the explosive situation by chance, and in it for love and money.

A different reading might comment that the central couple (Corky and Violet), while nominally empowered and in control of their situation, simply re-hash gender dynamics the film makers seem so desperate to escape — Gershon is butch while Tilly puts the femme in femme fatale, Gershon is masculine to Tilly’s feminine. Rather than breaking binary notions of gender, the two simply take the ballgame to a different arena.

I’m no Julia Serano (reading Bitch’s... more »

more »

Confessions of a Girly Girl


I didn’t own a pair of jeans until fifth grade. But I had dresses aplenty. Dresses, lacy socks, even dolls with matching outfits. Maybe because when shopping with my Virginia-born grandmother, harsh denim fabric never seemed to catch her stylistic eye. That, and when placed next to my frilly wardrobe, jeans just seemed vulgar.

All of my friends wore jeans all the time. I was the only skirt-clad girl at my fifth birthday party at McDonald’s. As if sliding down the staticky plastic slide into a pile of sun-baked mulch weren’t tragic enough.

I would complain to my mom that I wanted to dress like the other girls—wear t-shirts, jeans, socks without lace, shoes without bows-on-the-toes. I hated being the only girl at a slumber party in a frilly nightgown while everyone else was in t-shirts and boxers.

But when I got my wish in those hellish teenage years, and pulled on the brand-regulated pair of stonewashed jeans, it was like a part of me was hiding. I finally looked like everyone else, but I still felt estranged.

This was the dawning of my love affair with fashion. Instead of copying what my friends wore, I decided to wear what I liked and thought... more »

more »

Fatwa: When Religion Meets the Modern World


Problem 1: According to Islam, unmarried men and women cannot work together. In fact, the only males women are supposed to keep company with are their relatives.

Problem 2: Modernization in Muslim nations means men and women need to work together to advance their countries and stay competitive with the rest of the world.

The Solution (according to some representative of Egypt’s religious authorities): Women must breastfeed their male coworkers five times, thus making them relatives.

You’re thinking this must be a joke. Sadly no – I nearly dropped my coffee when I read Michael Slackman’s article on Egypt’s fatwa’s in the New York Times yesterday morning. Slackman goes on to report that while some Muslims are uncomfortable with these two fatwas, or religious edicts based on Islamic principles, many Muslims count on the fatwas to help them navigate the modern world with their religious integrity intact. People seek fatwas for everything from marriage and divorce to buying products, although no one issued a fatwa is held to it – they may seek alternate counsel or ignore it all together. Despite that, there are agencies authorized by Egypt’s government to issue fatwas, and there are a host of other sources, like internet sites and television shows. And really, those asking for fatwas... more »

more »

BlogHers Act


BlogHer is trying to harness the power of women on the internet. They are asking women bloggers to identify two different things:

1. Choose a global issue as BlogHer’s hot-button issue of the year.

My choice? Well…it is a tough one. On the one hand, I’d like to see folks address issues of global poverty and workers’ conditions all over the world — shouldn’t all trade be “fair trade”? Like Leslie Morgan Steiner of the Washington Post blog On Balance, I’d also like to see women’s rights improve globally. One way to address this issue might be through the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many countries have not ratified this document because it would require them to treat women as human rather than second-class citizens. While I’m not sure that universal ratification would materially change things for women in other countries, I do think it is an important first step in changing attitudes.

2. Election ‘08 — what four issues would you like to see presidential candidates address?

*How to end the war in Iraq and rebuild our tarnished reputation abroad.

*ERA now. It’s back, we need it. I want my rights as a woman to be protected in the constitution. I do not... more »

more »

The Pool


Here it is, the Fringe Pool! After reviewing publication dates and writers’ backgrounds, I compiled this list from suggestions tendered by the Fringe staff, several Emerson Professors, and my mother’s book club. Folks often suggested several books by one author, so I chose a single work as necessary. Got suggestions for additional books? Put ‘em in the comments!

Happy reading.

*Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina (Plume: 1993)
* Barrett, Andrea. Middle Kingdom (1991)
*Bloom, Amy. Away (2007)
*Burton, Gabrielle. Heartbreak Hotel (1985)
* Chang, Samantha. Inheritance (2004)
* Cisernos, Sandra. Caramelo (2002)
* Cliff, Michelle. Free Enterprise (1993)
* Cunningham, Michael. The Hours (1999)
* Divakaruni, Chitra. The Mistress of Spices (1997)
*Desai, Anita. Fasting, Feasting (1999)
*Desai, Kiran. The Inheritance of Loss (2006)
*Ducornet, Rikki. The Fountains of Neptune (1989)
*Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex. (2002)
*Fremont, Helen. After Long Silence (1999)
*Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love (2006)
*Holmes, A.M. The End of Alice (1996)
* Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner (2003)
*Jen, Gish. Typical American (1991)
*Jones, Gayl. Corregidora (1987)
*Karr, Mary. The Liar’s Club (1995)
*Kincaid, Jamaica. Autobiography of My Mother (1995)
*Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
*Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Fifth Book of Peace (2004)
*Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love (2005)
*Lahiri,Jumpa. The Namesake (2003)
*Lee, Chang-rae. Native Speaker (1995)
*Lee, Don. Country of Origin (2004)
*Lewis, Heather. Notice (2004)
*Livesey, Margot. Eva Moves the Furniture (2002)
*Mason, Bobbie Ann. In Country (1985)
*McBride, James. The Color of Water (1996)
*McLarin,... more »

more »

Every Kiss Begins with Slavery


My boyfriend and I recently became engaged, and now we are preparing to purchase an engagement ring for me. (Who knew I’d want one so badly?) The only problem is that we don’t want to begin our marriage by feeding the bloody and violent diamond trade.

John Ruskin said it best about glass beads in The Stones of Venice:

“The men who chop up the rods sit at their work all day, their hands vibrating with a perpetual and exquisitely timed palsy, and the beads dropping beneath their vibration like hail. Neither they, nor the men who draw out the rods or fuse the fragments, have the smallest occasion for the use of any single human faculty; and every young lady, therefore, who buys glass beads is engaged in the slave trade, and in a much more cruel one than that which we have so long endeavoured to put down.”

Diamonds, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear, are much worse. But as with many things, there are degrees of badness.

Conflict Diamonds

Since the movie release of Blood Diamond last year, awareness of conflict diamonds has risen in the US.

* Conflict diamonds come from mines controlled or seized by rebel groups in various countries.... more »

more »

Best 25 Novels of the Last 25 Years, Fringe-Style


Remember the New York Times list of the top twenty five books of the last twenty five years? I decried it for being racist, sexist, and a few other ists in this blog post.

Well, I’ve never been one to criticize without taking action. I am pleased to announce that we here at Fringe have decided to make our own list of the Best 25 Novels of the Last 25 Years. However, the rules for voting are a bit complicated. Because we think that the NYT’s oversight of minority writers resulted from lack of awareness of these writers rather than aggressive racism/sexism,(although the list of judges was a little over 25% women, pretty pitiful) our methodology is aimed at overcoming this hurdle.

Here is how it will work:

*Fringe staffers will create a Pool of recent novels, written solely by writers who are non-white, non-male, non-straight, or some combination thereof. Look for an unofficial version of the Pool on the blog in the next few weeks. The official Pool will appear in our August issue.

*In order to vote for Fringe’s Best 25 Novels of the Last 25 Years, you have to read at least two books from the Pool. For each additional book... more »

more »

Summer Reading!


Remember those summers you spent trekking your little pink backpack to the public library in town, filling it with as many Sweet Valley High books as you could carry, and then reading those books like it was your one and only summer job? Okay, so the details may vary, but I can bet that everyone did their share of summer reading as a kid. Whether it was the table full of classics on the 10th grade reading list (Ugh, Lord of the Flies, again?!) or just a breezy beach read, there’s something about sitting in the sun with a good paperback in hand that puts me in the mood for more.

So, I’m giving all of you my brief list thus far–with the hope that you will send me some of your favorite summer reads as well. That’s how it works people.

Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Not only does this novel have one of the coolest websites I’ve seen yet, but it is by far one of the most entertaining, beautifully written, and articulately crafted books I’ve read in a very long time. The story will have you guessing from start to finish–and even at the end you’ll feel the need to... more »

more »

In memory of Sarah Hannah


Emerson poetry professor Sarah Hannah took her own life on May 23rd. The Boston Globe wrote a beautiful obituary, highlighting Dr. Hannah’s life and work. Tupelo Press of Dorset, Vt., has moved up publication of her new book, Inflorescence, from November to September, and Jeffrey Levine promises that Tupelo Press will hold a memorial for Sarah at Poet’s House in September when her new book comes out. “I will invite the entire writing community to come and read from her book, and to read tributes or poems in homage,” says Levine.

Local poet Douglas Holder wrote a heartfelt blog post in his Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene blog, where he said “I sent her an email last week. I was told that she killed herself last week. She was only in her early 40’s. I know her high school teacher. She seemed so happy. Her star was rising. She had been through a divorce. She had everything to live for. I have only clichés. I am sorry. I have worked at McLean Hospital for 25 years, but I am not immune to this. May she rest in peace.”

In times like these, it is impossible not to look at your own life... more »

more »

Fringe 10: Live!


Our new issue is live and kicking on the site, and chock full of fine writing.

Aside from our anniversary issue, we seldom solicit work surrounding a single theme, although happy accidents do arise. The pieces in this issue employ alienation, either at the formal or topical level to expose a greater personal truth.

*There is something unsettling about Johhny’s assertion, “You’re a whore” in Nancy Lynn Weber’s flash Sugar Cone, and something true about the narrator’s obsession with the dirty body.

*In Jon Stone’s poems, violence is juxtaposed with ordinary past time, exposing the savagery of our culture, and the queer way in which this violence satisfies.

* Laurah Norton Raines’ short story, Twenty-Seven, has a protagonist who is psychically uncomfortable with her new status as housewife, a role which is both too-familiar to her and incongruous with her conception of herself.

*In Invisible War, Lea Povozhaev negotiates the cultural and political differences between her own middle-class American upbringing, and her husband’s childhood in iron-curtain Russia, and the implications these differences will have for their son, Viktor.

* Nancy Bauer’s piece The N-Word explains the ways in which we are alienated from language, and how Don Imus’ insensitive comments have exposed a cultural climate of intolerance that... more »

more »

Travelling Friends


Heather’s post yesterday got me thinking about travel what it means to be open to new experiences. I spent the academic year of 2000-2001 abroad in England, and during that time I made several trips.

Perhaps the best trip I took was to Ireland, with a close friend who was also abroad on the same program. We spent a few days in Dublin, then headed to Kilkenny to spend a night. It was near Christmas, so there weren’t too many other tourists about, but in our hostel we chanced across an Australian several years older than us, who had been traveling through Europe for several months and had rented a car.

Because he exuded kindness and gentleness, the two of us decided to hitch a ride with him, just to the next city. Five days, four towns, and one Irish breakfast later, we were friends.

The Aussie and I have continued corresponding over the following years — he’s been through Europe several times, worked for the Australian government, and now is doing charitable work in Cambodia (he keeps a wonderful blog about his experiences). Although we haven’t seen each other in person, I feel like I know him, and am glad I followed my... more »

more »

And this one time, at band camp...


Imagine yourself happily packing a backpack, stuffing only the essentials (including two “Do not open until May 24th!!!” cards and a mysteriously wrapped gift) inside, passport in hand, ready to depart for your four day birthday vacation to Madrid. It’s your 33rd, so naturally it feels like a big deal. And though you’re slightly bothered that your phenomenal partner had not really been in the picture when you originally booked the trip, and thus is not going, you’re never-the-less excited to head over to Prestwick and catch your flight with friends.

Now, imagine that one of those friends has invited Michelle from American Pie to join you.

I’m not going to whine and complain about how my long-awaited trip to Spain was turned into a circus by a 15 year-old in a 23 year-old’s body…Instead, I am going to use it as an opportunity to share some insight on travelling abroad. I share this with an open heart to any and all who have never left their hometown or country, and just aren’t aware.

1) Americans, thanks to Mr. Bush, are really not terribly loved anywhere outside of the US these days.
2) Even if you are not American, if you sound like one... more »

more »

The House of the Spirits


The last few weeks of my life have been tumultuous and so I found myself trying to escape my thoughts, to simply not harp on what plagued me 24/7. I decided a novel was just the thing to help me out, and after a trip to the bookstore, I selected Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits.

I’d never read Allende before, and was pleased to discover that this book interesting in form, style, and content. The novel follows several generations of the Trueba family, who live in an unnamed country in South America. There are three different types of narration:

-an omniscient third person, that details thoughts, habits, and actions of various family members
- a first person account by the family’s patriarch, Esteban Trueba
- a mystery first person narrator whose identity is not revealed until late in the novel.

The various narrations occur in intermittent sections that had no pattern to them that I could see. Although the POV switches took a minute to get used to, they provide a richly complex picture of the Trueba family and of the political landscape of the unnamed country, which bears a certain resemblance to Chile (Isabel’s uncle, Salvador Allende, was the first socialist president elected... more »

more »

My First Review Copy


About six weeks ago I returned home from a long day of thesis work to find Stacey Richter’s Twin Study in my mailbox. It was my very first review copy, and its receipt made me feel like I am a real publisher, a feeling I don’t have often due to the surreality of printing work on the web. You can look for a review of Twin Study in a future issue of Fringe.

I am only four stories into the collection, and savoring every quirky phrase. But one phrase gave me pause, and it wasn’t Richter’s. Time’s blurb on the back reads:

“Richter brings a wacky imagination to the gender wars…one of the more outlandishly imaginative minds in contemporary fiction.”

Gender wars? It seems to me that Richter is capturing a certain reality of the world women live in, and I think that “gender wars” belittles her theme. It reminds me of one of the Guerilla Girls’ action posters, Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, “Being reassured that whatever art you make it will be labeled feminine.” But perhaps I’m being unfair. I’m sure Time has commended Cormac McCarthy and John Updike for contributing to the gender wars as well.

So far this is an... more »

more »

A two-bride bachelorette party


As little sister, it’s my RIGHT to plan my older sister’s bachelorette party, agreed?

Well in my case, it’s not so easy. This wedding has two brides, and I just wasn’t sure how to work it. Does my sister get her own bachelorette party? After all, this is the one day where the bride can be a little bit naughty with the blessing of her future spouse, so wouldn’t it ruin the mood for me to invite my sister’s future spouse to her bachelorette? But then again, doesn’t my future sister-in-law deserve to be a little naughty, too?

Since I was stumped, I went to the number one authority on gay weddings and commitment ceremonies,, and to the TwoBrides’ sister site I checked the Family and Friends area and even located an area where I could submit my own question.

Just a few hours after I hit send, I got an email from Kathryn Hamm, whose straight mom founded the TwoBrides and TwoGrooms sites in 2000 to provide “mother-approved shopping sites for same sex weddings.” Kathryn sent me a long, enthusiastic message, but the moral of the story was this:

“Get a little crazy with both brides in tow!”

So that’s what I’m... more »

more »

Reading at Grub Street


Last night Fringe, Quick Fiction, Redivider, and Black Ocean held a reading in Boston at Grub Street. The reading, hosted by Redivider, was the second in a series of seasonal readings put on by the Boston-based journals and presses.

The reading’s theme was “Spring Fever” and all four readers delivered. Elisa Gabbert went first, reading some fine love poetry on behalf of Redivider — her “Poem to KR” was a particular favorite. Next came Sarah Sweeney (work forthcoming in the August Fringe), who read several poems about Carolina, including a hilarious quadruple sonnet about lotto tickets and peach schnapps. After a short break, Megan Bedford read her short short out of the new issue of Quick Fiction, followed up by a nonfiction piece on teenagers mating in spring. Peter Jay Shippy, whose work is forthcoming in the first issue of Black Ocean’s new journal Handsome, closed out the evening with a particularly hilarious pastiche of poetry, CSI, Jackson Pollock, and country town-meeting.

Each reader was also forced to read a Shakespeare sonnet that had been Mad-libbed by the audience.

Beer, wine, soda, and those delightful marinated olives that Adam Pieroni of Quick Fiction makes were consumed, and we all went home sated with culture.

Stay tuned for the summer... more »

more »

Fringe Feminist of the Month


I hereby dub French President Nicolas Sarkozy Fringe Feminist of the Month. I learned of Mr. Sarkozy from this Washington Post article.

A conservative party member, Sarkozy defeated Socialist female Segolene Royal, who was blasted for her moralizing by french feminists according to this Free Republic article.

So why am I dubbing her male competitor feminist of the month? Sarkozy has risen above tokenism by choosing seven women to be among the members of his cabinet. For that alone he deserves the title.

more »