From the Editors
Looking for a reason to wake up tomorrow? Check out all the cool things you'll get to read about in the new issue of the Erie Reader!
Back in the days when ErieReader.com was just a pup and the print version of our publication wasn't yet on stands, the topic of fracking already had a spot on our map. The controversy of fracking -- hydraulic fracturing, the process by which drillers pump a cocktail of chemicals and water into layers of rock deep below the Earth's surface thereby creating man-made fractures, which allow access to the natural gas below -- provoked a veritable atlas of angst when filmmaker Josh Fox took to lighting people's tap water on fire in "Gasland." When Mercyhurst University screened the documentary and welcomed a panel discussion, Erie Reader reviewed the film and attended the discussion.
When we launched our print edition, and as the threats of wells in North East presented themselves, we knew there would be no other way of covering the issue than putting it square and center on our cover. That was April 20, 2011. And that was just our fourth issue of our first volume.
Shortly after, Cory Vaillancourt weighed in with a column that actually predates the Upfront series, titled "Corbett to Universities: Go Frack Yourselves." That was May 3, 2011. Three months later, Jay Stevens took his turn and wrote "Street Corner Soapbox: Frack Fracking." That was August 24, 2011.
And that was just 2011.
Fast-forward to 2013. This issue's cover reads, "Fracking is the Future: one of the nation's most controversial issues remains shrouded in secrecy." Mark Kosobucki's illustration shows two people mid-conversation in the foreground and a drill behind them. They seem happy, almost. He's cheerful, with a smile-clad face. She's numb -- maybe complacent, confused even.
Is fracking the way of the future? Is it still dangerous? What's being hidden from us?
Jay Stevens takes us inside the world of fracking -- he introduces us to an actual fracker, and even attempts to go on a frack job himself. What comes bubbling up as Jay digs for the truth? The answers to these questions are as murky as, well, [insert any frack-fluid reference here], as fracking remains as divisive of an issue as ever.
It's been two years since the topic of fracking graced the cover of an issue of Erie Reader, and it's time to revisit it, to find out what's changed and to see where the conversation stands to date, as the gaps between supporters and protesters might be as wide as those man-made cracks and ripples we send through the earth.
While certain issues, like fracking, are hallmark topics for us, you'll find plenty of fresh content in this issue, including Maps & Atlases -- the band, not the documents that propelled humanity across the globe before GPS. While they're no strangers to Erie -- they frequent Whole Foods Co-op -- Maps & Atlases recently played a show in Akron, Ohio, and Writer/Copy Editor Alex Bieler and Managing Editor Ben Speggen took the trip south to catch up with the band. Here you'll find Bieler's Q&A, and some Maps & Atlases beard envy. Yeah, that's a thing.
And when it comes to the environment, Erieites are still finding ways to celebrate -- even in the near-dead of winter. Matthew Flowers gives us a sneak peek of LEAF's upcoming 8th Annual Winter Festival, where yes, people will go outside and have fun.
Erie's far from being "dead" in the winter. If you have the same items on your To-do List as our resident bearded bard of bashes, you'll be heading to an Oscar party at the Erie Art Museum, a CD-release party at the crooked i, and a benefit to help one of Erie's own at The Brewerie at Union Station.
Lastly, as we do revisit those topics at the heart of what we report on -- you'll find politics here ranging from campaigning to filibustering to the papacy -- we embrace change and like to offer you something new when we can. In this issue, you'll find "The Idiot's Guide to Art Criticism" by Pen Ealain. Be forewarned, he uses words like bullshit. And elegantiarists.
Funny and colorful? Yes. Insightful and engaging? You bet. Something we're looking forward to continuing in the coming issues? Absolutely.
Here at the Erie Reader, we take pride in moving forward, growing, adapting, evolving. Just four issues into our third volume, we're just as proud of the topics we've made ours as the new projects we're beginning as well as the works we've charted out on the horizon. From environmental issues to politics to fashion to music to art, we're happy to be able to continue to bring you all the issues that matter, and we're happy to remain your free, independent source for all things Erie.