Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Double Identity

Strange Maine... actually, forget double identity -- it's really a triple identity. Like Brendan Evans, proprietor of the phantasmagorical store on Congress Street (Portland) of the same name, I too am under the spell of the book entitled Strange Maine.

Last week I deposited some little flyers for this site in Strange Maine (the store), and received a report from Brendan the other day that there is some confusion occurring. So, for the sake of clarity amongst all the weirdness, here is a rundown of Strange Maine as I understand it.

Strange Maine the first: The book.
Edited by Charles G. Waugh, with Martin H. Greenberg and Frank D. McSherry, Jr. and published in 1986. This anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories set in Maine is a weird little collection, true to its name. Many of us read it when we were younger, and many more of us discover and rediscover it again as adults, lured in by the garish and mysterious cover art and the promise of Maine-related oddities. Amazon.com doesn't even have a synopsis for it, but lit-wise it's a heavy hitter, with works by Stephen King, Fritz Leiber, Pangborn, Ruth Sawyer, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Jane Yolen, Thomas A. Easton, Charlotte Armstrong, and more. Haven't read it? There are copies available all over the place, and they run as cheap as 89 cents used at Amazon. Someday maybe I'll do a rundown of the stories for the curious.

Strange Maine the second: The store.
Here's a good interview with Brendan done by the Free Press that covers some of the basics of the store's history and general mojo vibe, with some good photos thrown in to boot. Basically, this store is the latest and greatest nexus of weirdness in Portland. Opened not too long ago, it has quickly garnered quite the reputation among the crowd that seeks for somewhere sincerely strange to go. Packed with artifacts and detritus from pop culture and the leaky hands of artists, its a regular stop for experimental bands on tour and spontaneous film festivals. All events are free. There is a schedule posted on their website (if you are having a hard time reading the type because of its color, just highlight the text using your mouse or print it out). Prices inside the shop are for the most part ridiculously reasonable. This shop, while not directly affiliated with this site, is definitely a homebase for it, and we here at Strange Maine the site HIGHLY RECOMMEND Strange Maine the store. We like to think of it as our Sister Store (kind of like Sister Cities only smaller and bigger at the same time).

Strange Maine the third: This site.
Well, you're here, but do you understand it? I certainly don't. Basically it is even newer than the store, but it's based on the same type of premise. Maine is a little weird and we love it that way. We are fascinated both by current stuff and the historical base that preceded it. It's a little obsessive, but that's alright with us. Sometimes being obsessed is the only way to get things done. We welcome new members -- just send an e-mail to msouliere AT meca DOT edu (figure that out -- it's easy -- I'm trying to avoid spambots) if you would like to be able to post articles, instead of just commenting. If you don't want to join up, please feel free to sound off anyhow, we're wide open here. So far, just over a month into this, things are going smashingly, with almost 450 hits to date and some really neat people coming on board. Personally, I'm very excited about it all. It makes me hop up and down like a maniac when I get to thinking about all the fun I'm having doing this.

Future plans include a possible print version of salient articles to be distributed throughout Maine for free whereever we can land a corner of a store counter. Please let me know if you have a perch for us, and your address, and I'll file it away for that happy day (hopefully in the near future, yes indeedy!).

Oh, who am I? Well, I'm supposedly an illustrator by trade, though currently I work in an office. I have a spotty history of notoriety in the zine community for such rags as Poetry Comix, Baby Mandelbrot, and Bad Cakes/Bad Influences (a cooperative effort with my friend Chris W, also posting here on Strange Maine). I dig Maine. I dig research. I dig finding things out randomly or following up on rumors. I love to write. You name it -- email, articles, stories, hand-written letters (my god! you can't be serious but I am). It's all dessert to me.

So I hope this clears up some of the confusion for any new visitors and current members. I mean, we can't clear ALL of it up, then there wouldn't be any mystery! And I am firmly convinced that confusion is good for the soul.

So... stay tuned, and read on!!!

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