Before there was reality television, there was something better. It was called Stupor. And, it still is. Stupor, now about 15 years old, continues to be, a wonderful little, toilet-tank-sized zine filled with the stories of real, or at least somewhat real, American men and women. It’s curated and published by my dear friend Steve Hughes, who collects the fascinating stories of the American dream gone wrong as he makes his way through the bars of southeast Michigan. His genius comes through in the translation between oral history and written word, as he distills the essence of the story, and brings sharp focus to the elements that matter. He kind of blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction in the process, and in so doing creates wonderful, little, poetic vignettes that are often almost impossible to forget. If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing Stupor, you’ll have a chance starting this Saturday evening at Hamtramck’s Design 99, where a new Stupor-inspired show will be opening.
STUPOR: A Retrospective of Bad Ideas
Runs from March 7 – May 2
Opening Saturday, March 7, 8-11 PM
Reading Saturday, April 25, 7-9 PM
I just sent Steve five questions by way of email. Following are his responses.
Who are you?
I’m Steve Hughes. I’m 42. I live in Hamtramck. I have for 14 years. When I’m not building stuff, or doing stuff with the kids, or cleaning up the trail of their messes, or sleeping, I’m a writer. I write Stupor magazine. I’m on my 29th issue.
Stupor is a collection of stories. True stories. As in the Talking Heads movie, True Stories. I listen to people talking all the time. When a story sticks with me, I write it down. Stupor is this place for me to retell what I hear while I’m waiting, working or loafing at the bar, or loafing in general. The stories aren’t transcriptions but they’re not exactly fictions either. They’re something in between. Hybrids. I describe them in the beginning of each issue as coming to me in a skeletal form. I put skin on them. In the last two years, I’ve enlisted artists to layout the magazine. The last 11 issues were cut and pasted, illustrated, and assembled by 9 artists. I gave each one about 6 stories and some minimal instructions, and let them run with it. The issues have become a place for the artists to explore their own ideas. In a way it’s created a cool sort of community. For sure, it gives the readers an opportunity to check out an artists rendering, interpretation, or comment on the stories they’re reading. It’s cool.
What should I expect to see at the show?
The show opening Saturday is an opportunity to check out the Stupors and see some work by the artist’s who have been integral in creating the most recent issues. Artists include Kamil Antos, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Mitch Cope, Jeff Karolski, Teresa Petersen, Gina Reichert, Chris Riddell, and Clint Snyder. They’ll have work on the walls. There’s also some 3-D and some installation. All the work connects with Stupor.
Is it true that you’re 7 year old son’s zine about his dead dog sold more copies that Stupor at the last Shadow Art Fair?
It’s true that my son’s magazines are superior. Do you think it might also be true that Ypsi chicks love a good dead dog story?
What are your three favorite places in Hamtramck?
Besides my house, my three favorite Hamtramck spots include Bakers Street Car Bar for budget pizza and beer, less than $10 bucks before tip for a pitcher and a large pie. Alladin Sweets on Connant is great for Bangladeshi food, especially at the all you can eat lunch buffet. And Design 99, which has created a center for the community of artists in the area. Every city needs a Design 99.
Is your brother Greg on Facebook? I saw a picture of him from around 1993 on there a few days ago, and I wanted to let him know.
No, I don’t think my brother is on Facebook. So maybe send me the picture.
This photo, which I referred to in my last question, was taken by Janet Larson in about 1993, during the birthday party of her son, Miles. That’s Miles in the center. The fellow to the left, I believe, is Greg Hughes. At least he has his posture and hair. The fellow on the right is Dan Richardson. At the time, Dan and I were in the band Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink together, along with Peter Larson, the father of Miles, and Matt Krizowsky. Greg, at that point in time, played for The Monarchs.
OK, I’m off to work on a new zine about dead dogs.
[Tonight’s post is dedicated to all the U.S. banks taking bailout money, and the hundreds of subsidiaries they operate in the Cayman Islands for the purposes of avoiding U.S. taxes. We salute your patriotism.]