Action at a Distance

“The pamphlet is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and ‘high-brow’ than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals. At the same time, since the pamphlet is always short and unbound, it can be produced much more quickly than a book, and in principle, at any rate, can reach a bigger public. Above all, the pamphlet does not have to follow any prescribed pattern. It can be in prose or in verse, it can consist largely of maps or statistics or quotations, it can take the form of a story, a fable, a letter, an essay, a dialogue, or a piece of ‘reportage.’ All that is required of it is that it shall be topical, polemical, and short.”

-George Orwell, in an introduction to the British Pamphleteer

Brain Washing From Phone Towers is a series of informative and entertaining Informational Pamphlets produced by hand on a seasonal basis.

These small-scale publications combine letterpress text (handset in metal type) and relief image (carved in wood or linoleum) produced via obsolete technology in editioned works which are distributed at will to a chosen audience. Recent pamphlets have primarily focused on urban landscapes and ecology, NYC history and neighborhoods, and how climate change will affect both human and non-human inhabitants of New York. They are distributed via the mail to a list of subscribers and friends, and represent an attempt to cultivate a ‘reading private’, an analog space in which to reflect, strategize, plan, mourn, and remember.

Our publishing model reflects the print tradition of the tract, small pamphlets used for religious and political purposes, which are often either left for someone to find or handed out. The majority of each edition is sent out to a mailing list. The list changes for each pamphlet and includes people who have subscribed to the series, people who are friends of the subscribers who have been added to the list as a surprise free gift, and people who I just want to send pamphlets to. Some of these people I know, some of these people are strangers. The remaining copies are sold through book fairs and events. Subscriptions subsidize the cost of production, along with grants, and sales at book fairs.

Have you received a pamphlet and have some questions? Welcome! See our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers.

Subscriptions are now available here for 2022.  If you’ve received a pamphlet in the past, and would like to continue to do so, please consider subscribing. I’ve published about history, ecology, science, food, economics, and more. I love writing about obscure islands in NYC and obscure ideas anywhere in the world. We have received support from the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Puffin Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and of course, from all the wonderful people who have subscribed in the past and will hopefully do so in the future. I started doing a few live events in 2017 for the series on Jamaica Bay, and have been developing that part of the series since then. There are a series of virtual walks from 2020 here and more to come in 2021. So sign up and you’ll hear all about all of the above.

If you’re looking for my main portfolio site, you can find it here.