Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Fidelia Hall, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Small Town by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine

I was going to originally release this album on May 2, 2018, but here I am to tell you that the album is out today, Tuesday April 17, 2018. I hope you get a chance to listen to the album and enjoy it. Thank you for your continued support.

I wrote a lot of this album in November/December 2017 when it was cold, grey, two ceilings of ours started collapsing in the house, pipes were freezing on a daily basis, and it was just really cold out. As I recorded the album, two fires swept through our town destroying a good section of a town already in decline and all that was in the news were stories of small town squabbles and little bits of politics that had the potential to seriously affect people’s lives. The album wasn’t born in the greatest of times, but I think that’s OK. It stands as a document for a moment in time that happened, and that’s what all albums are…they’re a snapshot of a moment.

If you’re a librarian and you’re reading this, consider this album to be the aural equivalent of my A New Career In A New Town posts. As I was writing those posts, I was writing these songs. The second half of the SMALL TOWN album is that journey towards a possible new career in a new town.

If you’d like to listen to the album, use the music player embedded in this post or visit abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com. The album is free to stream from this website. If you’d like to purchase an MP3 copy of the album, you can do so for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page. If I ever sell any copies of my music, I just then take that money and buy more music stuff to record more songs.

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

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Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Music

Small Town

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Seven months after the release of the album Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite, the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine is back with another album titled Small Town. Written and recorded in the Fall/Winter of 2018, this ten song album is a firsthand glimpse at rural small town life in America circa 2018.

Everything is falling apart. Houses falling down. Pipes leaking through the walls. Abandoned lots. Lost dreams. Student loan debt crippling an entire generation. Broken and beaten down humans. SMALL TOWN is for a generation that has been destroyed by those that came before and thought they could rule the world. -JUSTIN HOENKE, April 2018

This album is the third album from the musical project known as Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine in 2 years. As with all albums by Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine, this album was recorded inside and outside on the grounds of Fidelia Hall in Titusville, PA. Fidelia Hall is the homestead of the Hoenke family in addition to being a creative space for the arts and a recording studio for music. All of the songs on Small Town were written, produced, and performed by Justin Hoenke.

  1. Small Town
  2. Give Me The Atom Bomb
  3. This Town Will Destroy Itself
  4. Frozen Pipes
  5. Let’s Go Back To Sleep
  6. Little Paradise
  7. Aeoteoroa
  8. Much Too Late
  9. Atom Bomb (Reprise)
  10. Another Day

Small Town will be available on May 2, 2018 through Arbacarba Records (arbacarbarecords.com). The album will sell for $7 through the Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Bandcamp page (abigailfostersphotosynthesismachine.bandcamp.com).

For more information, please visit Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine on Facebook

Thank you for your continued support.

Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Benson Memorial Library, Family, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management, Titusville, PA

Where Are We Now?

About a year ago I hung up a bizarre painting in my office at work. To me it was perfect and just familiar enough that I thought it warranted a place in my life. As a person who always thought it would be neat to have an office and fill it with interesting things, the painting, when mixed with the Lego creations and drawings that Finn and Aero have created for me over the years, helped me establish this place my home away from home. When I feel comfortable at work, I usually am able to some really good and meaningful work. On the other hand I could also see how the average “I shop for my groceries at Walmart every Saturday at 1pm and have to watch the game and/or my sitcom at the same time every week” American person would be appalled by it.

One day I came into work to find that my painting was taken down. My coworkers took it down because, yes they were terrified and appalled by it. I guess right now would also be a good time to explain that due to limited space we’re all basically working on top of each other and that we’re surrounded by glass. It’s like a packed fishbowl in here. But to fully admit my feelings, I was pretty let down by their actions. It felt passive aggressive and overall it felt unkind. But in the moment I didn’t react. I just went on and say “oh, well that happened.”

You see as a Gemini I feel a duality to everything. There’s this part of me that always sees things from my point of view and then I almost immediately put that aside and see it from how others may have seen it. In this case: Justin likes the painting and hangs up the painting, Justin feels disappointed when someone takes that painting down, but then Justin instantly forgets about that and says “well I bet they didn’t like the painting so I understand that and what I thought about the painting shouldn’t matter because that’s selfish to only think about myself.” Over time, I’ve taken that approach to even more of an extreme: I guess in a way that by my coworkers actions I was able to put the painting to a much better use. It became the cover for my album Prozac Is The Dam And I Am The Dynamite, and I think it fit really well for that album. Having the painting taken down by my coworkers made me take it home, where I stared at it more and through those hours of staring it gave the painting more meaning and purpose. It became a visual representation of my life at the time, and when it merged together with the music I was creating it became a complete package.

You take all of these things together, stretch everything out by a few months, sometimes years, and what happens? You start to think about the first part (yourself) less and less until it almost becomes silly to even think about it in the first place. I think that’s where I am at now…after awhile of doing this here I am, a person that may be very capable about thinking of others but at the same time a person who doesn’t think of himself as much as he should. I’m overwhelmed right now and a bell goes off in my brain to remind me that this may be part of the reason as to why I feel this way. When you neglect yourself in some way, it all adds up. I stare at a lot of spreadsheets these days, and I like to think that my soul has a spreadsheet where it has been keeping note of the times I’ve put myself aside for others. It’s finally getting to that point where the spreadsheet is just too long and unruly and it becomes a hassle to scroll down the page because there’s so much data.

I’m on the cusp of something here. It feels exciting and at the same time it fills my soul with great fear, but I know that as with everything in this life it will come, it will go, and the next thing will happen. I feel lucky to be able to share this journey here and to have others be able to maybe understand and maybe feel like they may be in the same holding pattern at the moment.

Music: David Bowie “Where Are We Now?” As long as there’s sun..As long as there’s rain..As long as there’s fire..As long as there’s me..As long as there’s you

Family, Libraries, Life

The Goal

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Statues inspire me. I want as many of them around my property as I can get my hands on. This guy is a weird one but I love it. He sits in our strawberry patch and just looks on at whoever comes to our backdoor. He’s magical.

Life in our modern society is a pretty freaking weird thing. We have an overall system in place that works actively to help promote individual growth and also to thwart that same growth. We are creatures that strive for change through accomplishments and advances, but that change comes so slowly that in the day to day it feels like nothing ever changes. What we hear from each other, those in power and those with fame are usually positive and sugar coated in nature, but underneath those whispers of “oh yeah everything is alright” is a much larger story with complex moves like a chess game, ups and downs, and things flying all over the place.

The minute after I think I have my “aha! So that’s the answer!” moment is the minute that I’m back to the drawing board. You can go through this entire blog and see that evolving and growing day by day, year by year. The best thing to realize at this point, for me at least, was that the answer will never be there and then someday I’ll die without the answer and melt back into the nutrient ecosystem and be born again as a tree. That happened a few years ago and, boy oh boy, did things feel a lot better for me once I realized that. Cue Elton John and that Lion King song. It makes sense.

A nice holiday break to end 2017 helped end a year that was a bit confusing on a clearer note. I woke up when my body and mind were ready to wake up. I engaged in the pursuits which felt natural to me (music, video games, reading). I stayed in pretty much the same location for quite a number of days, surrounded by people that I wanted to be surrounded with. I went outside and used the snowblower to make nice little paths for people to walk along the sidewalk. There are great joys in the simple, mundane things. The seismic shifts which once fueled my days are no longer necessary. I am getting a lot better at understanding and enjoying the little stuff.

Claude Debussy’s piano music is a good musical representation of what I feel in my head and heart these days. When I listen to the piece above (a collection of six solo piano pieces composed between 1901-1907 titled Images) I feel a sense of ease, wonder, excitement, and content wash over me. It feels right to listen to this music. There is so much wonder and beauty in these compositions. My mind wanders and I think about Debussy and what he may have been thinking and feeling when he wrote these pieces. What is it that compelled him to create such a beautiful thing?

What I want is a life full of creativity. Creating something is the best things humans can do in this world. Make some art, make some music, plant some flowers, have some children. The end result does not matter; the act is what matters. It is the act of creation that is really the only thing that makes sense to me these days. In a world of falsities and sugar coating, the act of creation feels more real than ever. When I write words in a document, record some music, or capture some sounds I feel free and I feel happy. There’s really nothing better than that experience. It fills up my soul.

THE GOAL is to live a life of happiness, to spread positivity and kindness, to create beautiful things, and to do work that gives back to people. I want to find the truth and honesty in all things. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want this whole thing to be one huge adventure. I am happy where I’m at right now and I will be happy with where I go.

 

 

Libraries, Life, Music

Why You Should Subscribe to IndiePicks

 

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You know my shtick by now: I don’t write about things on this blog that I don’t care about. I don’t write about things on this blog because someone paid me to do so. What I do on this blog is try to be represent my thoughts and feelings about things I am passionate about with words (and at least one picture per post). That’s who I am and what I do.

So I’m here with this post to tell you one thing: You should subscribe to IndiePicks Magazine. I’ll tell you why in the next couple of paragraphs.

INDEPENDENT ARTISTS ARE WHERE IT’S AT

Just so you know, I am a contributing writer to IndiePicks. My part as a contributing writer is that I get to interview awesome musicians and filmmakers who are creating their art independent from any big publishers, companies, etc. I do this because I not only like to write but I believe in independent artists. I believe in what they’re doing. I feel and understand their desire  “go indie” with their career, whether it be out of necessity or choice. You see I believe that people should create art (books, music, movies, video games, etc) because they have something to say, not just to sell a product. Of course, all artists have to sell something in order to keep doing what they’re doing, but the common thread I see with all of the independent artists I’ve encountered is that they’re creating what they create because THEY WANT to create something. I believe in honesty above everything else in the world, and trust me when I say that when I talk to these independent artists that I see and feel and hear nothing but honesty. In a world where things are becoming more and more homogeneous and pumped out by the dozen by huge companies and conglomerates, this honesty is something that we all will begin to seek in our day to day lives. We need more honest art, be it in books, movies, music, and more, in our lives. That honesty starts with independent artists.

LIBRARIES NEED MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE

While James Patterson, the latest Avengers movie, and the new Taylor Swift albums will guarantee our libraries a lot of circulations, we all have to agree that public libraries are about more than just pumping out the latest and most popular materials to their communities. Public libraries are gateways to new and exciting things for everyone that walks through our doors. When I was a kid, for me it was being introduced to graphic novels, books about whales, and vinyl LPs from bands that I heard about on the school playground but couldn’t afford to buy.

One of the neatest things that a public library does is offer each and every community a chance to dive into something new. Imagine being in a small town, isolated from a big city where you may have easy access to all kinds of independent media. What can a library be to that person? A library can be a gateway to a whole new kind of passion, hobby, or idea for that person. I think about the people I see in my library from day to day: the people that love manga, the folks that enjoy nothing but westerns, and the people that really want to watch every movie out there. Around these parts, their options are limited. There are no book stores in our town, one big chain movie rental store (yes, they exist), and a whole bunch of not that much to do. While these people do want what the Big Five are putting out, they also want variety. They want something new. They want to experience the rest of the world out there.

Libraries are the greatest recommendation and discovery machines out there. Let’s put stuff in our libraries that gives everyone in our community a chance to learn, grow, and understand the whole world together.

WE’VE ASKED FOR THIS EXACT THING

And finally, and perhaps most noteworthy is that we’ve been asking IndiePicks for quite some time. Back in the day, we just didn’t have a name for it. For as long as I have been in this library world, I’ve seen and heard conversations about how we can get more than just the Big Five and other mainstream media into our libraries. We’ve talked about how we can do it and why we should do it. We’ve debated this endlessly. Nowhere was discussion more prevalent when us libraries were all heavily debating ebooks in libraries. In these discussions, we criticized the heavy lending restrictions the big publishers put on eBooks in libraries and wondered how we were going to get more variety in our collections through independent media when the big eBook platforms were controlled by the big publishers.

It is safe to say that we’ve really, really wanted something like IndiePicks for a while. And guess what? We now have it. (Here’s the link to Issue #1). With IndiePicks, we now have a magazine which we can go to for insight into the world of independent media. We no longer have to blindly go into this area and pick a few titles here and there. We now have a place where there are top quality reviews and opinions on independent media. We now have an amazing tool in our tool belt that we can use to bring more variety to our library collections.

The best part yet? The team is made up of librarians. You know, people like you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a librarian. You know you can trust a librarian.

Follow IndiePicks on Twitter: @IndiePicksMag 

 

 

 

3D printing, Libraries, Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Writing About Libraries

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This happened a long time ago in what feels like another life.

For a website/blog called Justin The Librarian, I don’t feel like I talk about libraries that much anymore. There’s a reason for that and today I’ll try to sort out the thoughts in my head.

I feel out of touch with the current topics being talked about in the public library sphere. I’ve really never been one for political debates, and there are a lot of politics to be discussed with the current topics that are being talked about. To be honest with you I don’t have the mental strength and capacity to deal with those topics now. My focus is to put in a good day of work at my library and then go home and be the best father and husband I can be. Diving into the deeper layer of public library talk is just not something I want to do right now or in the foreseeable future. Libraries are for everyone and I think it is in our best interest to be everything to everyone that walks through the doors of the public library, but I’m not gonna be on Twitter talking about it or writing about that here. I need to be aware that I only have a limited amount of mental energy. I am learning to channel that energy in the best way possible.

The second reason is that I feel that sometimes what I’ve written and shared can be misunderstood. I am really proud of the work I did in Chattanooga TN but to be 100% honest with you I think a big reason why it was successful was because of that particular moment in time in Chattanooga TN and not much else. I wrote about the experience a lot because I wanted to share the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt every day when I went to work with people like Megan Emery, Meg Backus, James McNutt, Nate Hill, and more. That time in libraries for me was really exciting and the enthusiasm happening was infectious. But now I look back on a lot of what I wrote and say “well that was very Chattanooga specific, and I don’t know if that would be good for any other library.” I can’t tell you how many times library people have said to me that they’ve read about what I’ve been a part of in libraries and said “well I guess our public library should be doing things like you do” and specific things like “we should probably get a 3D printer like you” and “well let’s make more things with patrons that was successful for you.” That wasn’t the intended purpose of what I wrote/shared, but I guess I should have expected it. When people read something (and I do this too), they think about what they read and wonder how and if it could be applied to their lives. Nowadays there’s this thing that weighs on me…if someone tells me they were inspired by the work I was a part of there’s a bit of me that regrets even writing and sharing in the first place. What if these things they’re doing fail for them? What if these people have a miserable experience with their maker program/3D printer/code camp/etc? I think about all of that and I keep it in my head and in my heart. It brings me down. No library is alike because no community is alike. We are all so very different, yet we share the same name and idea behind what we do. So why do feel the need to copy/paste ideas? I don’t know.

So with all that said, I don’t know where I stand. I think I’ll be taking a breather away from writing about libraries in the future. I know part of that is in me: I’m just burnt out and I’m not inspired. Unfollow away if you’d like. The librarian part of Justin has gone for the time being.

3D printing, Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Technology, Titusville, PA

CURIOUSITY

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Today’s the day where we unveil our maker-type things at the Benson Memorial Library. We’ve got the 3D Printer, iMac, Snap Circuits, iPads, Ozobots, and more. It’s an interesting moment for both me personally and for the library.

For the library, it’s a neat step into some stuff that is rather way out there new and exciting for this community. Titusville is a unique place. It’s a small town with a great deal of history behind it that really hasn’t fully come into the 21st century. At times, it feels like it’s in the 50’s or 60’s. That’s not entirely a bad thing…this kind of feeling gives the community a really enjoyable relaxed feeling. It is something I really love about living here. Most people around here don’t know what a 3D Printer is and if they do it almost seems like a dream to them, something that could not come true. But here it is, right in front of everyone now! We’ll see how they use it. We’ll see what they think of it. Every time we try something new in our library it is a great experiment where we learn stuff as we go along. It is not unlike any other library that I’ve worked at, but at the same time it feels different.

For me personally, it’s a weird moment because I’ve been through the whole makerspace/3D Printer/creation thing at the Chattanooga Public Library and with this project at Benson Memorial Library it’s a bit of déjà vu. To do something very similar to that here in Titusville feels….well it feels like I’m repeating myself, and that’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do with the things I am involved with. But it’s not about me at all…it’s about the community, and as I said above this is something very new for them. I’ve gotta keep that in mind as I move ahead.

All in all, we’ll see what happens. Innovation is different everywhere that we go, and I thak Chantel, whom I met at LIANZA 2015, for reminding me of that.