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Print is dead. I know that’s a pessimistic proclamation from someone trying to scratch out a living as a writer, but all around I see signs that the end of ink on pulp is nigh. I hear it in the desperation from friends throughout the paper-based publishing industry, and I see it in the surge of news stories about iPads and e-readers replacing textbooks and notepads at universities and hospitals. Most vividly, I got a sneak preview of the print apocalypse – or at least the death rattle of the patience and discernment that worthwhile reading requires – at a screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I know that the movie is based upon a well-respected graphic novel, but director Edgar Wright (whose Shaun of the Dead I adore) is intent on pummeling the literacy, along with the humanity, right out of his viewers.
As a lifelong anime fan and 8-bit video gamer, I “get” all the inside-geek references in Scott Pilgrim, and I admired the slick (if punishingly repetitive) kung-fu effects. But I couldn’t abide the apathetic protagonist or the glorification of emotional detachment the lead character represents. Michael Cera’s shrugging schmuck of a superhero shows less passion for his supposed soul mate than Super Mario’s for Princess Peach. Pilgrim encapsulates everything that critics claim current media turns kids into: narcissistic, lacking in basic empathy, eternally bored and boring and incapable of introspection.
I predict the film will become the most influential cult classic of this decade- – the Fight Club of its day. If I was 25 I’m sure I’d think it was the coolest movie ever; instead, I worry I’ve reached my “You kids get off my lawn!” moment decades too early. But a century from now, when Ph.D. candidates are tweeting theses on how humanity lost the ability to read anything without pictures or over 140 characters, Scott Pilgrim will be nodded toward as a primary cause.
So print is dead; someone go dig up Gutenberg and give him the bad news (Johannes, not Steve). But wait! I interrupt this rant to bring some late-breaking news: Someone in Orlando thinks paper is still important. Hey hipsters, there’s a new free publication to peruse while you slurp your coffee and Wi-Fi combo, but you better act quick, because the latest issue may be sitting right under your nose, if it isn’t already out of stock.
My first clue was a hint from my editor to investigate something with an unpronounceable “J” name, reportedly released in the vicinity of Stardust Video & Coffee. I searched the brochure racks to the right of the entrance of the coffeehouse, the windowsill near the photo booth and the crowded bookshelves, but no there was no sign. Emily, the gazelle-like barista who is omnipresent and ordinarily omniscient of all things Stardust, was stumped. Finally, beneath a sign behind a chair, on the ledge to the left of the door, I found the “July/August” issue of The Jernigan Post.
Composed of five stapled and folded sheets of photocopied letter paper, this zine will never be mistaken for Orlando Home & Leisure. If you appreciate the analogue DIY spirit that propels artists in the Blog Age to still put ink to paper, however, this slim volume is a future collector’s item worth picking up. The group behind the booklet held a “launch party” in June, but as editor Gina Ortiz says in her introductory letter, “due to a number of things” there was a “brief hiatus” for “hibernating.” The delay must have pent up demand, because the initial print run was gone within days of its early August release; the second printing is disappearing from Stardust and the Culture Mart as I write.
Inside the 16 pages you’ll find suspiciously familiar horoscope advice (“Remember that every rose has its thorn”) from “Mama Legba of the Orlando Society of Back Alley Voodoo FlimFlam”; adorably awkward comics involving Neil Patrick Harris by artist Jaclyn Miller, whose bio describes her as “the love child of a bicycle and a Bob Ross paint set”; and four poems by Broken Speech Poetry Slam host J. Bradley (my favorite: Doctor Doom’s declaration of war on Walt Disney). Featured are a guide by Ortiz and Arch Bernard to the just-past Indie Summer Festival and Robby Belmont’s anarchic interview with Telethon “Veggie” Chezburgah, which left me itching to see if his music is as intriguing as his surreal artwork.
What ties the content together is a common curiosity about the culture around us. (Curiously, “Jernigan” – an early settler and trader – was our town’s name until it was changed in 1857, according to the city of Orlando’s website.) As a snapshot of Orlando’s indie arts scene circa summer 2010, The Jernigan Post is a priceless artifact. I fear it will too soon become a time capsule from a world before people were too fashionably indifferent to enjoy the simple and self-made. Please, Pilgrims of “progress,” prove me wrong.