The last thing I expected to see when I pulled up to the Soapbox zine library in West Philly was a flayed deer carcass, strung up in a garage, in the midst of being “dressed”. Or undressed, as the case may be. But such was the scene. It was a weird situation – the Soapbox is run by Charlene and Mary, one of whom is a vegetarian and was a little uncomfortable. But it was cool. They’re all neighbors, and one of the neighbors happens to be a hunter. The deer disemboweling wrapped up by 6 or so, and then there was 99% less blood in the vicinity. I really didn’t mind the deer situation. It made for an interesting introduction to the neighborhood. And I definitely find it fascinating and admirable to see someone who really knows how to hunt and prepare an animal for eating.
The Soapbox is a lovely zine library and independent publishing center. In their words: The Soapbox seeks to empower individuals and non-profit community organizations to disseminate information and creative voices. The Soapbox values art-making, word-smithing, and skillsharing towards a vision of social justice wherein all people have access to the means of production, and learn to produce materials that are accessible to the many rather than the few. There’s a sunny reading room and, of course, a cat. We ate stew and drank a little wine and printed some posters advertising their open hours.
We actually got to Philly the day before, on Halloween. With the freak snowstorm on the 29th, I had to reschedule my event with Second State Press, a newish community print shop in the Crane Arts Building. It’s a cool studio, with etching, lithography, screen printing, and letterpress facilities. The Halloween event was a quieter crowd than what we might have had the previous Saturday, but it was still a really fun night. We printed dorky typographical masks, and I caught up with some old friends. Philadelphia is a neat city, and has a rich printing history, what with that Franklin guy hanging around back in the day. I was hoping to have a day or two in town to explore a bit more, but alas – it snowed instead.