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I knew Josh Medsker -- or had at least talked to him a couple of times on the phone -- way back when he was just your everyday freelance writer working two jobs and pitching us an underwhelming story about MonkeyWrench's zine collection. I remember being struck by the kid's spirit, his sense of optimism, his level head. I remember saying something to the effect of: "You're going places, son. Let me help you get there. Call me back with a plan." It was, of course, I who hatched the plan, but then I sat back with a smile and watched the guy get to it. Such is the role of a veteran editor who has been everywhere and seen everything: He yearns to see someone else succeed and to rest his weary soul in the shade. So it was with just a twinge of sadness amid a swell of joy on Father's Day afternoon that I reflected on Medsker's thus-far successful bid to re-establish an Austin zine library, which he has boldly decided to name the Austin Zine Library. Medsker, who is still a freelancer working two jobs (but now a freelancer working two jobs with some serious cultural cachet), has been writing about this experience for us. You can find his entries at austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/authors/joshmedsker.html. Reading the lad's accounts makes you realize one thing, above all: Founding a zine library takes time, money, and community support, especially if you want it to be, as Medsker himself so piercingly put it, "a real library, with real hours and a real librarian, if it killed me." Toward this end, Medsker and friends have organized an all-star benefit for the Austin Zine Library. Tentatively scheduled to appear from 9pm to 1am on June 28 at the Rhizome Collective (300 Allen St.): readers Neal Pollack (rumored to be backed by the Dakota Smith on guitar), the stage-frightened Jessa Crispin (Bookslut), Henri Mazza (Two Note Solo), and more, potentially; bands the Americans UK, OK Beth, and the Quicks; and presumably booze and food. I want to take the opportunity now to say something to Josh that I should've said a long time ago: I'm proud of you, boy. Keep fighting... Speaking of fighting, the breaking news that Al Franken's coming to Barnes & Noble Arboretum on Oct. 4 just wouldn't have had the same ring to it, say, a month ago, before his now legendary showdown with Bill O'Reilly during a May 31 BookExpo America panel moderated by Pat Schroeder and also including Molly Ivins in Los Angeles. Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton, $23.95) will be out that same month... One of Stephanie Sheppard's final dispatches as executive director of the Writers' League of Texas (she resigned earlier this month) was to announce the winners of the league's 2003 Fellowships in Literature. For Fiction: David Rutschman (San Antonio), Scott Blackwood (Austin), and Jackie Kelly (Austin). For Poetry: Wendy Barker (San Antonio), Jude O'Nym (Austin), and Robert M. Randolph (San Marcos). For Creative Nonfiction: Jenny Browne (San Antonio), Jessica Powers (El Paso), and Iraj Isaac Rahmim (Houston). Congratulations, all, and good luck to Sheppard after a rocky but productive tenure as E.D.... Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Scholastic, $29.99) will hit Austin with more force than it will hit anywhere else, because Austin is the best, and everything that happens here is the best. The Austin Public Library, BookPeople, and Wheatsville are all doing something a little special for the young wizard's fifth year at Hogwarts. Starting Saturday, June 21, the APL will have more than 125 copies available at its 21 branches across town. It marks the library's biggest purchase of one children's title. Ever. It also marks the first time that public libraries will receive shipments of a children's book simultaneously with bookstores. Meanwhile, at BookPeople, the parking lot will be partially closed off (with plenty of spaces available) on Friday, June 20, at 10pm, for face painting, tarot reading, trivia, a magic show, fire dancing, and snacks from Whole Foods. At midnight, assuming that you have a voucher (which is available at the store now), you can get your hands on one of the 8.5 million first printings. Finally, if you're looking to avoid that sort of frenzy, Wheatsville will also start selling the book at midnight, accompanied by live music from the Telephone Company. The co-op will stay open till 1am. I myself will be standing in the middle of South Congress with a traffic cone atop my head, my nude form swaddled in a floral-print sheet, waving a cigarette around like a magic wand. But I will use my magic only for good, and to make a few bucks for another bottle, perhaps.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Whole Foods, Wheatsville, Austin Public Library, Iraj Issac Rahmim, Jessica Powers, Jenny Browne, Robert M. Randolph, Jude O'Nym, Wendy Parker, Jackie Kelly, Scott Blackwood, David Rutschman, Writers' League of Texas, Stephanie Sheppard, Molly Ivins, BookExpo America, Pat Schroeder, Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, Barnes & Noble Arboretum

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