At a time when so many publications are folding or going paperless, here comes Carbon Copy, all bright and bold and glossy. All chock full of art, stories, essays, plays and poetry. All bursting at the seams with Jim Daniels, Denise Duhamel, Charles Harper Webb, and David Trinidad.
And by magazine, they mean magazine: as in 8-by-11-ish with staples—like the kind you buy at newsstands, weekly or monthly.
This, though, is much more fun.
The editors, Matt Zambito and Abby Blank, note they seek work that “engages, mentions, highlights, and/or celebrates pop culture in any way.” “We’re not,” they emphasize, “interested in pop culture critiques. Be positive, baby.”
They go on in their editors’ note: “Pop can be fun. Pop can be emotive. Pop can kindle fires in our brains. We believe in Pop.”
How fitting, then, that the issue starts off with the lines, “I learned to pray by believing / God was Marilyn Monroe” in the poem “Unfinished” by Kelli Russell Agodon. In her next poem, “Because I’m John Stamos,” Agodon speaks of John Stamos, the Olson twins, Cher, Travolta, Anna Nicole Smith, and even Oz.
Webb, in his poem “He Bangs,” celebrates the spirit of William Hung, who famously—and nobly—failed on American Idol:
Slapped with unanimous Nos, Will doesn’t whine,
rage, beg, or cry. “I have no training at singing,”
he declares, unfazed by Simon’s wry, “I don’t believe it.”
“I gave my best, and thus have no regrets,”
the Hungster states, and marches off, proud
to be a future engineer, his good heart beneath his blue
The speaker in Jim Daniels’s poem “You Ever Have the Chuckling Abe Lincoln Dream” wonders too if we’ve ever had the one where “[Lincoln] and Bob Marley / are sharing a giant spliff and harmonizing / on ‘Redemption Song’?”:
Abe fucking Lincoln would’ve dug reggae.
You ever stare at a five dollar bill
and wonder if Abe ever got a blow job?
In Joe Bonomo’s essay “Look at You,” the You he’s looking at is not only Joe Bonomo the writer (“Look at you, reading The Strongman by Joe Bonomo”), but also another—the other—Joe Bonomo, the New York weightlifter and stuntman (b. 1901). It’s also, fittingly, an exploration of “You” as rhetorical tool, as second-person point-of-view.
Sonya Huber also offers up some entertaining and educational nonfiction in “I <3 BTR,” an account of a mother’s coming to terms with her young son’s obsession first with SpongeBob—and then with a boy-band television show. At first Huber is pretty harsh in her sentiments surrounding the talking sponge and “Big Time Rush.”
But since such negativity would violate this magazine’s mandate, it was no surprise when she came around. “I wanted to hate it so badly,” Huber states, after admitting, “I’m not very open-minded but I like to pretend to be,” and before sitting down to watch the show. “I gagged a little at the choreographed dance routines,” she notes, but then “two difficult things happened. First of all, the songs were catchy. Second of all, my son started jigging his arms and legs around and singing the songs.” The show, especially the music, makes her son happy—a truth Huber realizes around the same time it dawns on her that she used to love the Monkees.
In addition to stunning full-color paper artwork by Ashley Gierke and paintings by street artist MACHINE, plus a bold, cubist-esque black-on-white drawing by Todd Marrone (“Soul Date”), there’s the litter-turned-art photography of James B. Robinson (think McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts meets the Adirondacks), the “After The End” photo series by Catherine Jackson (think Dorothy, Alice, and Little Red Riding Hood meeting a modern fashion photo-shoot, sort of), and even a comics spread, featuring Cory Stauffer’s “Harold the Astronaut.”
Carbon Copy’s final page is a Classifieds section, giving each author/artist an opportunity to plug a book or website, or make a final statement (Catherine Jackson: “In love? Knocked up? I want to photograph you.”) or request (Patrick Culliton: “I will pay you to produce a carnival-quality caricature drawing of me sliding across the hood of the General Lee”).
Also, this review couldn’t possibly be complete without mentioning that Lisa Lewis, in her poem “What to Wear,” rhymes—unprecedentedly, to my knowledge—the words Internet and bunionette.