Sura Faraj says it was in a former life that she created a publication called "Nerve." Apparently, some of us were a part of that same past life and remember the black-and-white magazine that focused on art, poetry and politics. Recently, Faraj -- along with creative partner Denise Dee -- cobbled a new quarterly publication called "Nerve House."
"I can guarantee that some feathers will be ruffled, and also that many people will appreciate the courageous voices in Nerve House," says Faraj.
The goal of Nerve House is to link urban artists, writers, activists and culture workers. Hence, to rally on the local level and to release their first issue, the folks behind Nerve House will host a performance party and auction on Saturday, June 24, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Bucketworks, 1319 N. Martin Luther King Dr.
Donations of $5-$15 will be accepted at the door.
Performances include a reading by MPS School Board director and poet, Jennifer Morales; belly dancing by Galatea; political theater by Insurgent Theatre; juggling and magic from the Fabulous Feno; an Alamo Basement comedy skit; an escape act from Erik Bang of the Brew City Cirkus; music by Union Pulse and Angela Mack and lighted poi spinning from the hands of Roy Pluskota of Arson Etiquette.
Recently, OMC caught up with Faraj and Dee to chat about Nerve House.
OMC: What's unique about Nerve House?
Sura Faraj: We're oriented toward artists, activists and other creative folks who aren't represented in mainstream publications. We do mostly cut-and-paste layout, so that we can do it as a collective effort. And we have Denise Dee, a powerhouse of energy, talent, enthusiasm and ideas. She's been a tireless promoter of what we're doing and that will help make us a success in the long run.
OMC: What kind of work are you publishing in NH?
Denise Dee: Work that is provocative and moving and inspires you to connect with other people. Work that we don't necessarily "agree" with but that made us have deep emotions and conversations.
SF: Some of the topics presented are deeply personal, some are extremely political and some are witty social commentary in the form of comics. There are works that touch on sensitive subjects like rape, police brutality, war, immigrant rights and Palestine. At Nerve House, we stand with the people, even on the hard things.
OMC. Where will this be available? How many copies are you printing? How much will it cost?
SF: We'll be printing 5,000 copies and distributing in Milwaukee and other cities at various cafes, bookstores and community spots. Nerve House is free, supported by subscriptions and donations of art, money and volunteer labor.
OMC: Are there other publications that inspired Nerve House?
SF: Yes, 'zines!
OMC: What qualifies a publication to be a "'zine?"
SF: 'Zines are self-published works that are non-commercial ventures, often with a theme, and are usually written, published and distributed by one person or a small handful of people. They have small circulations and are often photocopied and hand-stapled together. There are 'zines about sex, art, politics, comics, work, literature, bicycles -- you name it, it's out there. I'm also a fan of other forms of alternative media, for example, posters, bumper stickers and sidewalk stencils.
OMC: What about you, Denise. Any pubs that inspired your efforts?
DD: I edited and published some of the first punklitzines in the early '80s. But I'm way more mainstream than Sura. Two magazines I read monthly that inspire me are Vanity Fair and O. Yeah, I can hear you saying "Huh?" and/or laughing.
I think Vanity Fair -- celebrity interviews plus poetry equal Nerve House because they are mixing art, politics, and trying to get people off their butts and into action and so are we. A young customer at my job told me making something 'glamorous' is a great way to get people to get involved. And while I don't think Nerve House can be called glamorous, I do think it makes telling the truth about your life and getting involved in your community appealing and urgent.
Also, the work of Studs Terkel was a HUGE motivating factor in my life. I see Nerve House as oral history, and I see us as printing "real news."
OMC. Who -- or what types of people -- do you see as your general audience?
DD: I see people who are looking for a place to be inspired and encouraged -- being part of the Nerve House community. I see people who are looking for enthusiasm and ideas being thrilled to find us. I see people from 13 to 90 as our audience. People who have been told their ideas don't matter. People who are sick of being told "you can't" and are hungry for someone telling them "you can."
For more information about Nerve House, or to get on their distribution list, call (414) 263.1513 or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.