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January 1999

15 - Bettie Page look-alike contest

Calling all buxom brunettes (and you can pretend about either) come and show the world the true meaning of bad girl photogenic beauty... Presented in cooperation with Swang Magazine, and featuring a musical performance by Rebecca Cannon, along with an industrial lingerie fashion show by Hot Tool Fashion Crew, and fetish photography showing by John Davis.

From the Austin-American Statesman:

Following the store's "Bettie Page'' lookalike contest last weekend, FringeWare keeps the (odd)ball rolling. This weekend, don't miss "Ken Lieck's Cartoon Show & Hard Liquor Binge'' (don't ask us, but knowing Lieck, it'll be worth a Sunday afternoon), starting at 5 p.m. The cartoon-athon follows the weekly "Books for Prisoners'' meeting each Sunday at 3 p.m. - Shermakaye Bass

February 1999

18 - THE AD AND THE EGO Negativland Texas Tour

Dallas/Austin/Houston - You are cordially invited to the local premiere screenings for THE AD AND THE EGO, a new film by Harold Bolhem and Chris Emmanouilides featuring NEGATIVLAND. This spectacle's Texas Tour is sponsored in part by the Texas membership of the Society for Informational Alchemy, including Forbidden Books (Dallas), FringeWare (Austin), and the Invisible College 94.9FM Montrose Radio (Houston).

From the Austin-American Statesman:

Austin Copwatch, an organization that observes police behavior and advises residents of their rights, will meet at 8 p.m. Friday at FringeWare, 2716 Guadalupe St.

March 1999

From the Austin-American Statesman:

FringeWare Bookstore, 2716 Guadalupe, hosts its annual keg party during SXSW Interactive '99 (9 p.m.-midnight).

From the Austin-American Statesman:

But if you can't wait until next month, when 10,000 more copies are expected to hit stores, you can still get a taste of the forbidden: Bobby Byrd, whose Cinco Puntos Press published Marcos' "The Story of Colors,'' will read from it tonight at 8 at FringeWare books, 2716 Guadalupe St., along with his own poetry. "The Story of Colors'' is an English translation of an old folk tale about Mexican gods who took a drab world and filled it with colors.

 Okkervil River, March '99 

From Pictures of Okkervil River

April 1999

From the Austin-American Statesman:

The Austin International Poetry Fringe Feast features a potpourri of global poets at FringeWare Bookstore on Guadalupe Street (2-10 p.m.).

June 1999

22 - From Life on the fringe isn't easy

by Janelle Brown

There's one thing you can say about the obscure: It isn't lucrative. Just ask FringeWare, the 7-year-old Austin, Texas, bookstore whose main offering is titles by authors who have been "marginalized or forgotten by contemporary mass media culture." The store -- which has also served as a
community center, performance space and playground -- announced last week that it's shutting its doors at the end of June.

FringeWare's headquarters, long a mecca for geeks, freaks, hackers, zinesters and intellectual deviants in general, is currently clearing off the bookshelves and selling the entire stock at reduced prices. If you are looking for a bargain copy of "Neuromancer" or a back issue of Fortean Times, now's the time for one last pilgrimage to the Texas capital.

FringeWare's founders are blaming the store's demise on competition from and the Barnes & Noble store that opened up down the street last year; others have pointed out that FringeWare was, well, too obscure -- and a bit too far from downtown to boot.

FringeWare also maintains a Web site, an online bookstore and a quarterly periodical called the FringeWare Review. Although the Web site is currently in a state of disrepair and the online bookstore is unavailable, FringeWare store manager Scot Casey asserts that these will be fixed after the store closes. "The initial idea was to close the store and not to go into bankruptcy so we wouldn't have to close down altogether and shut down the magazine too," he explains.

And, he says, it's a good chance for the founders of FringeWare to return to their conceptual roots as purveyors of offbeat software, entertainment and gadgetry (think biofeedback software, brain machine, games and videos). As Casey puts it, optimistically, "If anything, FringeWare will return to its original form -- not as a bookstore but as selling actual wares that are on the fringe."

From the Austin Chronicle: Postscripts:

Hannibal might seem like the perfect book for FringeWare to sell except for two reasons. FringeWare is closing at the end of the month. "Since we had our bills paid and it was a slow time of year, it was a good time to gracefully bow out," Scot Casey says of the thinking behind closing the store. One of FringeWare's charms is its inventory of gloom & doom titles that bypass the detection of horror novitiates such as myself. "I think people like something that's ... probably less threatening than some place that has Stalin on the wall and a bunch of skulls hanging around," Casey says, though he attributes the store's demise to "the usual reasons cited by independent stores. Basically we never were doing as well as we needed to. We were always just breaking even and seemed to just have our head above water, never enough to do as much as we needed.

"It seemed, too, as soon as we got rolling, then the Barnes & Noble opened up and the people that used to come up here and buy Bukowski and Burroughs, Kerouac and Salinger just sort of disappeared. We started building another audience with the sort of conspiracy type stuff," though we all know anarchists never have been very organized. And then there's that pesky issue of parking, as in there wasn't any to really speak of. The quarterly FringeWare Review and Web site ( will still be in existence and Casey says it's not out of the question that FringeWare might "evolve or transform into a space that would be smaller and less overhead." Until June 30, they'll be having a Duck & Cover Sale at the store ... - Clay Smith


From the Austin Chronicle : Best in Peace

Fringeware (1996, New Fringe; 1997, Best Doorway to Fringe Culture; 1998, Best Counterculture Conclaves) fell off the map.

Closed for Cultural Remodeling

From the Austin Chronicle: Postscripts:

It's not right that that urgency should coincide with the equally urgent parting salvos the FringeWare folks have left on the storefront windows of their now-vacated store. Urgency is supposed to be absent during our narcotizing summers. "Temporarily closed for cultural remodeling," one of the FringeWare signs declares. That's a joke, of course, and so is the list of "FringeWare Things to Get," which include "Barnes & Noble applications," "Oprah Book Club membership cards," and "another new identity." - Clay Smith

You Absolutely, Positively Did Not Know What Was Going To Happen From Day to Day

From Monte:

One thing that I remember most about FringeWare was that you absolutely, positively did not know what was going to happen from day to day.... It could have literally been anything. One day you might get a phone call, and 30 minutes later you're driving Kenneth Anger around Austin in a car with no AC.... Or a TV crew from France might show up. Or Playboy magazine would call. Or NewsWeek, or the BBC. Or the FBI might drop in. You might have to record a radio commercial with a conspiracy theorist. Or design a new t-shirt, business card, flyer, poster, matchbook, postcard, web site...  Or someone might shoot the window out of the front of the store. You might get to have a beer with your favorite A-list film director, or have to haul boxes of monitors to help make payroll. Or an alleged ex-Manson family member might get into a legal argument with a Unix programmer in the back of the shop.  Or a homeless person might ask you about early 70's British comedy. All while you were trying to ring up a book sale, and keep teens from stealing the magazines... and speaking of magazines, we were making one of those too. You know, in our spare time.

From the old Mojo's Site

Fringeware is dead. Long Live Fringeware

- I think Kuroneko (?) wrote it

It's hard to explain, but for marginal bookworms with subversive edges and tendencies towards anti-social sociability Fringeware was comforting and transitional. Not completely public space, not entirely private. Everywhere else in comparison smacks of regulation and bourgeois hostility.

Everywhere else (besides the bars and coffeehouses) I am a faceless consumer carrying 'product' along fluorescent-lit carpeted walk-ways. The clerk rings up my purchase without any comment or acknowledgment other than his routine script. If I bought something rare or avant-garde it would simply go without notice. They'd bag it, I'd put my receipt in my pocket, feel like a whore and leave. "Next?"

A Conversation Overheard

By B. Jones

Jen Daly, marker in hand, once told me that you can sense the soul of a city by reading the writing on the walls. Thankfully around Austin there is still something of a soul. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than on the wall of the building that used to be FringeWare, the one that runs along the Mojo's parking lot. I think that there is some sort of a vintage clothing store there now, a sad replacement for what FringeWare used to be....

Anyway, the story goes that the group of artists that originally painted the wall were setting up to work it into a new design. They set up all of their stuff one evening and were laying out designs when the owner of the clothing store that used to be FringeWare came out and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing. Very politely, they explained that they were the artists responsible for the original art that was up there now. And that they were preparing to paint a new piece upon the wall. The owner of the vintage clothing store that used to be FringeWare was not happy about this, but figured that it would go worse on him if he complained. He told them that he would "allow" them to paint the wall ONLY if they would refrain from doing anything SATANIC. The graffiti artists shrugged and said, Whatever.

They proceeded to create a magnificent piece that depicted a dead city with skyscraper poles wherein heads were impaled. It was positively medieval, a moral mural of graffiti beauty. Stark, apocalyptic, more expressive of this postmodern world than anything else I have recently seen. A graffiti masterpiece.

The owner of the clothing store that used to be FringeWare reemerged just as they were putting on the finishing touches. He was appalled. I told you not to do anything SATANIC, he cried. We didn't, replied the artists. Heads on poles, he screamed, what do you call that? And one of the artists who had been instrumental in the principal design said, I call that ART. Art? asked the owner of the vintage clothing store that used to be FringeWare, that's not Art, that's pornography, that's violence, that's the work of SATAN! That's the problem with you kids these days, you think the work of the devil is artistic.

And the artists, as a group, calmly replied, No, that's ART. The Designer added: It's beautiful and it's art. You are the one who is trying to make it one thing or another, not us. We just created a work of ART. It is whatever YOU believe it to be. You see Satan. We see ART.

The owner of the clothing store that used to be FringeWare became very quiet. He looked at each of the artists. He looked again at the wall. And he realized, I imagine, that to try and censor what was to go on the wall would only create more "art" all over his building. And he shook his head and walked slowly away... another desperate man utterly defeated by ART.