Aug. 14, 2012  

Making a Mess of a One Night Stand…

…on the beach in Hollywood, Fla.


By Michele Boyet

It took nearly 10 hours for 20 media pros to make 52 pages for two zines.

Which one is better?

SPJ South Florida rented a couple rooms at a Hollywood Beach motel last Saturday and hosted our first (and hopefully) annual Zine Party.

The idea was simple and strange: Gather two teams of media professionals to use pre-computer technology for an exercise in creativity and futility. In one evening, they’d have to write on manual typewriters or pads of paper. They’d have to illustrate their stories without cameras. They’d have to cut with X-Acto knives, lay out pages by hand and glue them down with rubber cement.

So how’d they do?

One staff named its zine Slice, the other Contagious. (Click the issue name or the covers below to see what they came up with)

SPJ South Florida Pro Director Gabriel Tyner captured the “one night stand” on camera…

The One Night Stand…

We started at the Tiki Bar. A frozen mojito in hand, I was repeatedly asked one question: “What do I write about?” The answer was obvious and apparently terrifying: Whatever the hell you want. That was the whole idea. You spend weekdays in an office doing media work others dictate. Anyone willing to spend a Saturday producing a zine on the beach, should do the media they desire.

For our SPJ SoFla Treasurer, Brandon Ballenger, that media was writing a sonnet. After we broke into teams and everyone wandered off to interview strangers or brainstorm on the boardwalk, I found Ballenger sitting in the sand a few feet from the Tiki Bar.

I sat next to him as he pondered words that rhymed with sail and zeal. In just 10 minutes by his side, I changed my mind 12 times about what I wanted to write, accidentally buried my iPhone in the sand and aimlessly followed a group of pigeons around before I headed back to the hotel room. Ballenger stayed the course, at least until it rained. (Read his sonnet in Slice)

“An event advertised as a One Night Stand on the beach with free alcohol could go wrong in so many ways, but did so in surprisingly few. Sure, there was a bit of bad weather plus a couple no-shows, but the people who stayed made it awesome,” Ballenger said after we finished binding the zine at midnight. “We proved you can dump a pile of old magazines and low-tech supplies on a group of confused strangers and end up with a surprising level of collaboration and an impressive product. Or two, in this case.”

I never figured out what I wanted to “write.” Instead, I painted a beach as a pallet for SPJ SoFla member Jon Schwenzer’s beach haiku and crafted a ransom note from a pigeon – or perhaps a mime – I’m still not sure. (Check it out in Contagious)

For board member Rebekah Monson, One Night Stand was a way to break out of the daily grind.

“I was psyched about this event from the start, but One Night Stand smashed my expectations and built something better than I imagined,” Monson said of her experience. “By the end of the night, we built two really interesting collections of diverse stories in all sorts of formats. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun ‘working’ on a Saturday since my college newspaper days.”

She, too, decided to color. (See Monson’s Beach Trash Field Guide comic in Slice and ‘dirty bathroom’ illustration in Contagious)

“I drove an hour and change home with a smile on my face, ideas about new stories swirling around my head and a fire in my belly … a reminder of why telling stories really is the coolest job in the world,” Monson said. “Not bad for a sweaty Saturday night.”

Journalism isn’t fun without some healthy competition. So, which one is better? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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