About Town

George W. Bush reading "The Pet Goat".

Plastic Sugar Press (PSP) "The First Time"
Tuesday Aug 17th 7-9PM, Bar on A

Written by Elizabeth DeCoursey

I had the distinguished privilege of witnessing New York City open her impressive bosom to nurture one more independent publisher, Plastic Sugar Press. Nicole Hughes, publisher and founder of Plastic Sugar Press, kicked off the honor with a debut reading, in a monthly series, featuring local authors and publishers, which was aptly themed, The First Time.

The evening unraveled flawlessly in typical DIY style. I rolled into Bar on A, which Hughes had transformed into a cheerful classroom landscape. Though I hadn't met Hughes, I recognized her immediately. She sat proud and exuberant with a lovely pink flower pinned to her lapel and excitement positively erupted from her direction. Prolonging the introduction, I took time to digest the bar. Its serious red walls had been festooned with balloons and crayola drawings (one bore Jesus brandishing American flags) while trays of cookies invited the attendees to relax and open up for irreverent fun.

Finally, I spoke with the wonderful and cordial, Miss Nicole Hughes and I developed symptoms of sympathy anticipation and enthusiasm. She was waiting on readers and copies of books, but with grace and the attitude that 'the show must go on.' Diverting her attention, I asked about the main event featuring George W. Bush, portrayed by Kenneth Robinson, reading "My Pet Goat" in its entirety. "My Pet Goat" is the story our illustrious president read during the infamous 7 minutes of frozen indecision following his notification of the September 11 attacks. Thus, the classroom affect on the bar. Hughes said the mission of Plastic Sugar Press was to publish politically and culturally progressive fiction and non-fiction. The main event's cheeky political commentary remained in keeping with that sentiment and set the aim for potential scribes. Also, anyone attending the event was invited to donate to moveonpac.org.

In addition to the main attraction, readers included: Richard Nash, publisher of Soft Skull Press for which Hughes interned, Ada Calhoun, associate editor at Nerve.com, Jackie Corely, publisher for Wordriot.org, and Patrick Rimassa. Nash opened the reading, giving a caring mix of wry humor and benevolent advice to his protégée, Hughes. I got the feeling he was sending her off to college or giving her away to a qualified young groom. One of the more resonating bits he passed on was an analogy about publishing as a whole. He thinks of "independent publishing as an ecology where you need as many organisms as possible to thrive." Hughes must have internalized that outlook because plasticsugar.com already provides several links to other independent presses and even to independent information resources. I was heartened by the sense of community among these independent authors and publishers. It appeared open and comforting being based on achievement rather than competition.

The evening progressed with endearing mic trouble and masks only adding to the gaiety of creating another niche from which fringe voices could be heard. Although I adore the commando toys I amassed during Bush's reading of "My Pet Goat," (my favorites are from the Police Series of America's Bravest tm) Jackie Corely gave the best reading of the evening from one of her own short stories titled, "Suburban Swindle". Corely's story was a gritty sentimental interpretation of love between a little brother and older sister. Her voice was fierce and independent but tempered with hard knocks love, it reminded me of Jodie Foster's characters. At one point she describes a feeling in the story as "thick and beautiful," which I think captures her tone. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her.

In all, the debut reading for Plastic Sugar Press was a success. I came and left with a smile and a sense of security that fledgling literature has another place to lift its head and scream from.

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