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The great little magazine

March 10, 2008 |  7:00 am

Pim               Climate                 Hair

Public Illumination Magazine (a.k.a. PIM) is entering its 28th year of publication. PIM is a little magazine (2 3/4 by 4 1/4 inches on slick paper) devoted to art and writing (never more than 250 words per contribution). Each issue has a theme. The first issue in December 1979 was devoted to telephones, followed by others on virulence, mass transit, little girls and on to hair, climate and miracles.

Contributors are being sought for the forthcoming issue on space.

Originally published in New York City, PIM is now based in Italy. The editor is "Prof. Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery,"  who is ably assisted by one Miss Davenport. At first it was issued "non-weekly," later "non-monthly," then "non-biannual." Now it comes out non-occasionally and still contains work by some of the most creative writers and artists in the United States and Europe. The current issue, No. 51 on passion, is graced by such contributors as Leadbilly, short red, S.S. Vortex, Robert von Thomas, sudie, Sophie D. Lux Fitty Sense, Rank Cologne, mr Basho, the King of France. (The latter four have been longtime fixtures in PIM. Others include Jerzy Plates, Jackson Scrubber, L. Majority, Vladimir Voorhees and E.Z. Street.)

If these names are unfamiliar, it should be noted that all of PIM’s artists and writers have been required to appear under pseudonyms--a wonderful glancing blow against the contemporary obsession with celebrity. PIM is the only magazine in which the pieces and the contributors’ names are works of art.

I can tell you, however, that the writers and artists who have contributed include: Kathy Acker, John Ashbery, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ken Brown, Steve Dalachinsky, Keith Haring, Michael Madore, David Sandlin, Hal Sirowitz, Sparrow, David Wojnarowicz, Thomas Zummer and yours truly. Readers of the L.A. Times might be interested to know that current Book Review editor David L. Ulin was a longtime PIM contributor before he moved to Los Angeles. Complete series of the magazine are held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris, not to mention the hearts of millions of faithful PIM readers around the world.

The magazine is available (for $1.99) in, among other places, San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore; New York City’s St. Mark’s Bookshop; and Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. But the complete archives are always available for your reading and viewing pleasure at PIM's website.

Thomas McGonigle

Thomas McGonigle is the author of “Going to Patchogue” and “The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov.”