spring, 2000

Philip Shane

Jonathan Kravetz

It's all a blur...
greetings from our editor


That fateful day last spring when Phil and I were lounging in our laboratory/restaurant, hatching our plan for ducts over a plate full of macaroons and a pot of herbal tea, there came a historic moment when we debated what kind of contributors we should assemble for our webzine.

Phil said, "We'll only get contributors who care passionately about the world and who have a deeply personal story to tell."

"Yes," I said and then added, "and we should only use good looking contributors."

We are proud, now, to tell you that we have accomplished both these goals.

Of course, there were many finer points that Phil and I discussed deep into that momentous evening. But there was one point, in particular, to which we both agreed: we wanted contributors who would blur the lines between rigidly defined categories. We wanted them to explore new ways of expression, to push the boundaries of this fledgling medium.

This, we believe, they have accomplished and that is why we are excited to present you with the spring edition of ducts. It is, to us, the blurriest issue yet!



For your convenience, we have placed all the work in this issue into various ducts to make the site more manageable. You will see Personal Essays, Humor, Columnists and more. But you will find that there is considerable overlap. The contributors are helping us create something brand spanking new, something unlike any print magazine. We plan to continue this trend with more multimedia works in upcoming issues, like music, readings, visual performances, and animation.

To this end, we hope you will jump right in and check out our latest duct: Ducts Stage. Marc David Campbell is an actor, comedian and all around man of the world. Visit this first-step-in-the-direction-of-multi-mediated goodness here at ducts and see Marc perform stand-up. Or listen to his comedy stylings. He is funny. He is smart. He is... well, indescribable.

You'll find our essayists and columnists also blur categories in this issue. Where, exactly, does our new columnist, Eric Gillin, best fit, for example? His work is literary and absorbing. He is as much a memoirist, story teller and essayist as columnist. He plans to write about his adventures in New York City. You'll enjoy his introduction to life in the city that never sleeps.

Bill Bilodeau and Ben Malcolm return to this issue and they are as angry (and blurry) as ever. Ben continues his love affair (yes, that's irony) with Washington, D.C. in a funny make-pretend "Welcome to D.C." pamphlet. Bill writes about his brush with a very tall presidential candidate in an unexpected place: the can.

We have four personal essays in our spring edition and all are as particular as snowflakes. Check out Robert Flanagan and Christine Walters' essay about their trip to the Angola Prison Rodeo. Christine's photos punctuate Robert's descriptive writing. You'll smell the fear and sweat in this one. Randall Woods returns to ducts with the first part of his extended essay on Thanksgiving. He HATES that holiday. But that's just the beginning. Randy is our resident hot head. His vitriolic musings will make you laugh and cry while you remember your own holiday misadventures. Charles Salzberg, a ducts regular, contemplates the meaning of signatures and celebrity in his amusing essay. You may be surprised by his conclusions. And finally, Helen Zelon weaves a dreamlike account of a special time in her childhood. She uncovers a truth about her parents' past that will leave you shivering.

Thomas Fast returns to ducts with another installment of his Naked Man journals. He may be the blurriest writer on our staff. Join him as he is introduced to his young Japanese students (they treat him like a combination of Elvis and Brad Pitt) and on a drunken night out with the teaching staff. Also check out his photographs in the Art Gallery.

Anne Chelnik is another new contributor to ducts. She IS "Bachelor Girl." Join Anne as she talks about her many and varied (and unusual) dating adventures. She knows more about relationships than the entire population of Rhode Island. In fact, she has just too much knowledge to keep to herself. So we are offering you the chance to write to Anne. Tap into her store of knowledge and learn more about yourself in the process.

ducts brings you five unique humor pieces in this issue. Talk about blurry... Mark Goldblatt returns with a strange, entertaining tale about a vampire, a park bench and the nature of being. Laura Buchholtz is a newcomer to ducts. She brings new meaning to the phrase, "Chicken Scratch." Bill Bilodeau offers up a horrifying encounter with a very large spider. It'll make your skin crawl and your lips smile. Thomas Blake, another ducts neophyte, presents a humorous poem about his TV hero Montel Williams. And Jonathan Kravetz (that name sounds familiar) is fed up with useless scientific studies. Check out his revenge.

Jennifer DeMeritt, our new critic at large, takes you on a stroll through the Brooklyn Museum's controversial Sensation exhibit. There was a lot of talk about and around this exhibit. But Jennifer's unique take finally hits the nail on the head.

Of course, please check out the Trumpet Fiction duct. We have five new works. They are all imaginative and absorbing. And each defines fiction in a unique way.

Finally, we once again want to thank our illustrator Jenny Oh. Her drawings always supplement the works on theses pages without overshadowing them. Her flexibility continues to astonish us - note the eery darkness of her illustration for Francine Witte's I Like to Call it Sleep and compare it to the hilarious rendering of a vampire on a bench in The Vampire of 42nd Street.

This is the third edition of ducts and it is, as you can see, our most diverse. We hope you will enjoy reading, seeing and listening to the contributors we have gathered as much as we do. This is only the beginning. ducts will continue to move, shake, rattle and roll as our contributors take more advantage of this burgeoning medium. Please come back again and again to savor this blurry ride.

-- Jonathan Kravetz, editor