Updates on Upcoming Books

I wanted to share a quick update on all the upcoming book projects that are currently working their way through the pipeline. I have been working furiously these past few weeks to complete the next wave of titles, as well as moving the following waves forward. At present, this is the publishing schedule that I have committed myself for the next 12 months. We will see how well that prediction holds.

Upcoming Book Projects

Book 20: Portraits – This art/photography book features 30 models and 270 pieces. All of the artwork has been completed and are ready for the page layout stage in Scribus. I have told myself that this would be the first entry in an ongoing series, but any future volumes will be largely dependent on sales and the public’s reaction.

Book 21: Anthology III – This art book features 102 works in pop art, graffiti and zine style, created at various points from 1998-2017, plus a mirrored set of 102 “remixed” pieces created exclusively for this release. All artwork has been completed and is awaiting the Scribus page layout stage. I still need a formal title and have been tempted to use “Graffiti Bridge” or something similar.

Update (5/10): I came up with a good title for this book: Riot Act: Anthology III. A nice nod to my current “favorite” Pearl Jam album, which I recently purchased on vinyl LP. I think it fits nicely. As for future anthology books, I still have a number of digital artworks created in 2004-05 and the 2007-2017 “desk calendar” series. Not entirely sure how to proceed with the former, and the latter will prove a great challenge for the digital version, as I would need a large enough resolution for the calendars to be seen properly on mobile devices. We’ll see how things go.

Book 22: Immersive Van Gogh – This photography book is based on the interactive art exhibit currently running in Chicago. I am currently working on the mastering and editing of photos. It will take readers through the journey of the show, as well as a look at the gift shop. Once that has been completed, we will move on to page creation on Scribus.

Book 23: Lost in the Long COVID Winter – This photography book features 150 color photos that were taken from January-April 2021. Mastering and editing is now complete, awaiting the page layout stage.

Book 24: The Loop – This photography book features monochrome images of downtown Chicago, specifically the area known as “the loop” south of the Chicago River. Two photo sessions have been completed and another one or two will be needed to capture more locations and landmarks. I am aiming for a final photo count of 150. Once that has been completed, we will move on to the page layout stage.

Future Book Projects

University of Chicago – This photo project will feature shots taken around the University of Illinois-Chicago campus located on the city’s south side. One photo session has been completed but several more will be needed. Final image count and mastering choices have yet to be determined.

The Misadventures of Mattie Rose – This photo project features photos of my baby daughter, nicknamed “Shark.” This will be the first of an ongoing series, as we will capture her life growing up into adulthood. This first volume will cover her birth in July 2020 to April 2021. Photos need to be pruned down and edited, and final mastering decisions have yet to be made, although I would prefer to keep the pictures as close to “raw” as possible. The title is still tentative and is subject to change.

Sega Genesis: 500 Greatest Video Games – This nonfiction book will feature a collection of the 500 most popular videogames for Sega Genesis, based on comprehensive polling of players, industry insiders, magazines, websites and social media influencers. It will feature full color screenshots, most likely captured from actual hardware. The database has been completed and properly ordered, and the next stage will involve writing the essays and capturing screenshots.

Conversations on Ghibli: The Works of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata – This nonfiction book will examine the careers of Japanese animation filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, whose iconic works include Horus, Prince of the Sun, Heidi, Girl of the Alps and Studio Ghibli. This project has been long in production but frequently stalled. I just need to sit down and write chapters, and I tell myself to finish one or two essays per week.

Adventures in Laserdiscs – This nonfiction book will offer film essays based on the titles in my personal laserdisc collection, which includes beloved classics, modern (1980s-1990s) movies and over a dozen titles published by Criterion Collection. This project has not formally started, beyond my stated intention, but I’ve wanted to write another movie book for quite some time and this feels like the perfect hook. As with the Ghibli book, I just need to sit down and write something every week. Baby steps. That’s how you achieve any major goal in life. Baby steps.

How to Make Art & Photography Ebooks – This tutorial book will show readers how to create art/photo ebooks that are optimized for mobile devices and affordable for Amazon and consumers. In other words, I share all my secrets, and at this time, it appears to be a genuine secret. There ought to be hundreds, if not thousands of art and photo gallery ebooks available on Amazon today for five dollars or less. I may make this title Book 25, if just for the milestone, and the length should be pretty short and simple.

Pearl Jam’s Backspacer: An Essay That Reveals Absolutely Nothing About the New Album or Why it’s Great

(Note: This essay was originally written in 2009 and appears in the 2017 anthology book Pop Life.)

Pearl Jam’s newest album, Backspacer, has been released this week. I waited until today to get the vinyl LP version, where the cover design truly shines. Tom Tomorrow’s surreal pop collage design perfectly evokes the spirit of Vitalogy and No Code, and that’s where the heart of the music lies.

Back in 1991, I owned only two CD albums: Van Halen’s live album, Right Here, Right Now, and Pearl Jam’s debut Ten. I’ve been a devoted fan ever since the beginning, and Pearl Jam has always been the greatest rock band of my generation. Yes, even more than Saint Cobain, but had he lived, everything would have been different. You see, it’s really Cobain’s fault that Eddie Vedder hurled his band into the wilderness for a decade. Had April 8, 1994 passed by without incident, the incendiary and masterful Vitalogy–Pearl Jam’s true masterpiece–would never have happened. It certainly would have been a very different beast, and maybe Vedder and crew would have continued their uneasy alliance with rock stardom. It’s impossible to say, really. That direction points towards an alternate universe.

Saint Cobain took one last fix, pulled the trigger, and we have felt the shock waves ever since. Pearl Jam rebelled with shock and horror, then escaped into the wilderness. I still remember how truly shocking No Code sounded in 1996, the band’s first major work since the tragedy. It took me several years to finally accept it on its own terms. A masterful collection of songs, true. There’s brilliance in its confusion, brilliance, and sense of discovery. The kings renounced the throne and entered exile–now what do we do?! That question haunted their next three albums, Yield, Binaural, Riot Act. All three are uneven, confused, yet occasionally brilliant.

Perhaps this is a challenge only time can solve. Wait for middle age to settle in. Wait for the musical tides to roll everything away once or twice. Of course, their 2006 album had to be simply called Pearl Jam. Like that other great mid-career eponymous album, Metallica, the Great Rock Band of My Generation renewed and rediscovered itself. Pearl Jam finally came back home. When you reach a certain age, you truly love and appreciate the miraculous power in these comebacks. Most of your youthful idols have withered away, grown fat or lazy, drifted away into “respectable work” or died. When you’re old enough to say you’ve outlived your best friends, everything changes.

That’s why Pearl Jam’s 2006 “Blue Avocado” album is so powerful. That, and the fact that it totally kicks. It’s a spectacular rock album by any stretch, and it’s the kind that seasoned veterans must conjure to prove to the kids who’s really in charge. Have I mentioned how much this album kicks? Hoo boy, three years later and Pearl Jam 2006 has never sounded better. It’s intense, angry, emotive, and fiercely passionate. It’s such a rush to hear Eddie Vedder sing with his mouth open again, no longer mumbling within the shadows of his early greatness.

On my best days, I’ll argue that Pearl Jam 2006 is the band’s greatest album, or certainly deserving to sit alongside the first three, which were deified into a Grunge Era Holy Trinity long, long ago. That first album, Ten, is simply untouchable, and there simply won’t ever be another rock album that topples it from the minds of Generation X. That’s just the way these things roll. But I always thought Vitalogy was better, and I think Pearl Jam 2006 rivals it in its best moments.

Which brings us to the end of this lost decade, a decade when America was gang raped by criminal vampires who now howl about the black man named Obama who usurped their unholy throne. This was the decade when the music business we once knew died, murdered by their own short-sighted greed and a computer revolution quietly initiated by ’60s computer nerds. This was the decade when turntables became fashionable again. Remember when Pearl Jam released Vitalogy on vinyl two weeks before the CD? That was an act of anarchic rebellion, wasn’t it? What the heck happened to the “aughts” decade in the new century? Where did history become all bent, skewered?

I’m rambling, excuse me. So what does any of this have to do with the brand-new Pearl Jam album, Backspacer? Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Other than this is a smashing fantastic album by the Great Rock Band of My Generation. Eddie Vedder once feared that he’d meet the same end as Saint Cobain. Now he’s lived long enough to bury all the Nirvana Wannabes, all the poseurs, all the fakers. He’s lived long enough to bury the music industry itself. Buy the black t-shirt at your nearby Target and download the songs to your iPod. Or pick up the vinyl LP and really mess with your parents.

The moral of this story: Just get Backspacer, already. Get with the program.