Catskills Corner: Campfire Hunter
In these days of Blogs, Facebooks, Twitters and the like, it’s rare for anyone to go to the trouble of starting up a print fanzine. Let alone a print fanzine devoted to travels to and from a single ski mountain. Let alone one that’s full (if that’s the word for such a thin publication) of short stories and photographs. Let alone publishing it for free. Every two weeks. Distributing it around local stores that have probably never seen such a thing in their lives. And then archiving the entire magazine on the web, and making it available as a downloadable pdf.
But that’s what someone called Steven Attardo has been doing since the end of last year, with his Campfire Hunter, one of the most esoteric things I’ve seen in a long while. In theory, the ‘zine is right up my street (or down my slope), a collection of observations gathered in town, and conversations overheard on the chair lift, over the course of a particular Saturday in town, accompanied by b/w photographs of same and arranged in a particularly adventurous artsy style.
And yet, four issues in, something is lacking in the execution: the piece of prose that I can’t do without, the keenly-noted words that alter the course of my day, the phrasing that I feel I have to share with my own readers. Stephen writes about all the right things – his feelings as he sees the helicopter land in the Hunter car park to take an accident victim off to Albany; about dropping his glove from the chairlift and setting off on an adventure to retrieve it; about a soup he eats in nearby Tannersville – but he’s yet to touch me in the process.
But that might just be me and the high standards I demand from other writers. Though Campfire Hunter is not yet essential reading (and its photographs would make better viewing were they printed in something other than the retro photocopy style), I can’t do anything but praise Attardo for his almost child-like enthusiasm – for the mountain, the chairlift, the slopes, the neighboring scenery, for taking photographs of the same and, especially, for gathering it all up into such a lovingly prepared ‘zine every fortnight. Lord knows it makes a welcome change from the countless glossy local brochures we find in the local stores. And it’s thrilling to know that someone else out there loves the lifestyle so much that it inspires them to make art. Good luck, Steven – and enjoy your weekend on the slopes.