We heart these people

By JEFF INGLIS  |  February 10, 2010

Letters

 FEAT021210_PMILetters2_Tris
Tristan Gallagher

The husband-and-wife team of TRISTAN GALLAGHER and MICHELLE SOULIERE could qualify for this category solely on the basis of creating amazing business names: "Fun Box Monster Emporium" and "Green Hand Bookshop" are not stores in JK Rowling or Roald Dahl books, but rather places exploring, from different angles, the fun, fantastic, pulpy, popular side of literacy.

Gallagher, drummer for Covered in Bees and frontman of Man-Witch, and co-founder of the We Hate T-shirts screen-printing company, also has five unpublished books (including illustrated books), some based on his Sam and Timmy zine.

Souliere, who used to work at the Portland Public Library and the University of Southern Maine, runs the Strange Maine blog and Gazette, and has a Strange Maine book in the works, too. She also runs a blog for her bookshop, and somehow manages to find time to work on the Portland Art Horde and any number of other projects she dreams up.

She reports that much of what she and Gallagher do comes from sentences that start with, "Wouldn't it be cool if . . ." and finish with some crazy scheme. For some of those plans, "it just happens."

Gallagher's latest project, the Fun Box Monster Emporium pop-culture trinket shop, has its beginnings in what he calls a "destructively stifling job" that he left to start the screen-printing company in some extra space in their apartment. But then they moved to a much smaller apartment.

 FEAT021210_PMILetters1_Mich
Michelle Souliere

"I had to find a place to put the stuff," Gallagher says wryly. He reinvigorated an old eBay business selling toys — which he had also stored around the place but had to relocate when they moved. Inspired by the crazy collective shops like the East Village's Toy Tokyo and Love Saves The Day (which recently moved to Pennsylvania), Gallagher decided to open a store like that here.

Like her husband's business, which shares space with Coast City Comics and lets each side benefit from the other's traffic, Souliere's effort, the Green Hand Bookshop, also pairs up with a complementary endeavor: Loren Coleman's International Cryptozoology Museum (which explains the giant Bigfoot figure in the front window of the store).

Her next idea is to hold events at the shop that are less directly related to books than typical bookstore events, such as a get-together where people use nice pens and nice paper to hand-write letters, encouraging people to focus on the written word.

And after that? Almost anything for Portland's busiest dreamers — who have a knack for turning their crazy concepts into reality. "We've just always been astonished by people being bored," Souliere says with a laugh.

JESSICA ANTHONY | USM lecturer; author, The Convalescent | Making the grade with her McSweeney's debut

CHRIS BOWE + STUART GERSON | owners, Longfellow Books | Bringing authors to Maine, fostering authors in Maine

KATE BUCKLIN | reporter, The Forecaster | Covering City Hall so we don't have to

WENDY CHAPKIS | author; USM professor of women and gender studies | Pushing the academic envelope

RICHARD CONNOR | owner, Portland Press Herald | Slaving away to save the dying daily

RON CURRIE JR. | author, Everything Matters! | Writing books of ideas with increasingly massive appeal

JUSTIN ELLIS | reporter, Portland Press Herald | The Press Herald's last link to "the young people"

GIBSON FAY-LEBLANC | executive director, Telling Room | Teaching kids about the importance of writing

ANNIE FINCH | poet; director, USM's Stonecoast MFA in writing program | Fostering writing talent in a beautiful setting

ANESTES FOTIADES | blogger, PortlandFoodMap.com | He knows where the specials are buried

DONNA GALLUZZO | executive director, Salt Institute | Teaching the next generation of what-does-it-really-mean journalists

MEGAN GRUMBLING | writer | Getting the word out, whether in verse, prose, or even just e-mail

CLAIRE HOLMAN | founder, Blunt Youth Radio | Giving Portland's young people a nationwide voice — and a future in media

PHILLIP HOOSE | author, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice and other books | Bringing a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor Medal to Portland

ED KING | editor/publisher, The West End News | Reminding us that Dumpsters are really great places to find things

BILL NEMITZ | Portland Press Herald columnist | The Forest City's reality checker

MARY PHILLIPS-SANDY | writer; Comedy Central Indecision funny person | Oh, so that's what a successful freelance career looks like

BETSY SHOLL | Maine's Poet Laureate | Shedding new light on contemporary lives

SHAY STEWART-BOULEY | writer | Showing us other parts of life's spectrum

MONICA WOOD | author; teacher | Putting Maine authors on the book-club map

COLIN WOODARD | author; journalist | Tracking pirates, politicians, and the money in Maine's politics

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