The first Refrigerator was an 8 1/2 by 14″ broadsheet, offset printed and available in restaurants and bars in Rochester for free. The circulation grew from 500 to 3,000 and the number of pages climbed to twelve. I did most of the graphics and wrote some, Peggi Fournier was the production manager. Ted Williams, Martin Edic, Chuck Cuminale, Carol Bradley, Chris Schepp, Rob Tyler and Frank Petronio all contributed content. The late Norm Davis hysterically surveyed the shops on Monroe Avenue. This was back in the nineties, before the internet, and all of this work was done anonymously until the D&C did a story about the Refrigerator..
With front page tag lines like “Does Caffeine Make You Smarter?,” “Love World’s Mental Heath Tipsheet,” “Recycle The Earth Issue,” paid for by the advertisers With a tag “George Eastman Is Dead,” “My Funeral,” “Bad Acid Trip,” “Because You Don’t Need an Entertainment Guide,” (a dig at Freetime Magazine), “Rochester’s Only Demolition Derby Fanzine” and “Virgin Mary To Appear in Rochester” we attracted a faithful readership. The “Why Are You Here? issue was especially popular as was Pete LaBonne’s “Dream Breakfasts.”
Lead-ins to pieces like “Rewriting Rochester’s Cultural Heritage,” “Readers Are People Too,” “Dealing With Denial,” “The Difference Between Right and Wrong,” “The End of the World,” “Thel Sound of Doom,” “Virtual Rochester,” “Finally, The Future,” “The Tediousness of Facts,” “I Live Next Door to a Genius” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” were often the whole story.
The back page of “The Refrigerator” carried ten dollar, one square inch ads like those shown above. Pyramid Arts Center, The Village Green, The Bug Jar, The Cadillac Hotel, Squires Of The Subterrain, the Rochester Club and City Newspaper were all regulars. Nicholson Baker, the author, was an advertiser.
All 28 editions are available in pdf format here. There is also a PayPal button for $10 Refrigerator hats.