'Bridgeport International' Paper Returning With Help from Writers, Artists

By Casey Cora on December 4, 2013 7:54am 

 Leah Menzer, 24, of Bridgeport, is hoping to resurrect a community newspaper.
Leah Menzer, 24, of Bridgeport, is hoping to resurrect a community newspaper.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

BRIDGEPORT — Start the presses.

The Bridgeport International will be published again.

Originally distributed as a community newsletter, the publication is getting new life thanks to a 24-year-old neighborhood newcomer looking to recreate the paper’s grassroots publishing philosophy.

“Ideally, everyone in Bridgeport would be able to write for it if they wanted to,” Leah Menzer said.

Menzer is hoping to bring a little bit of everything to the paper: stories, horoscopes, photography, reviews of local church services, an 11th Ward police blotter, Q and A’s with a North Sider, untold histories of local buildings and a section where kids can submit stories of their interactions with Bridgeport cops, good or bad.

She said "a lot of people have expressed interest in a civic component" for the paper, which would include the listing of neighborhood and park trash pickup days or explaining how the recycling program is working.

Expect an artistic bent, too, sort of like a smaller, local and free version of The San Francisco Panorama, the giant Sunday-style, one-time-only newspaper that packaged artsy surprises with thoughtful writing.

Menzer, a former Americorps employee who recently completed an internship stint with the National Public Radio radio show "Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!" said the artwork could manifest itself in many ways, like, say, a cigarette paper tucked into the pages and unrolled to reveal a comic, or maybe a full-size poster folded within.

Already, she’s enlisted contributions from several local writers and artists to help out with the re-issue, expected sometime in January.

The project is still in its early phase. Right now, potential contributors are "laying everything on the table to combine their skills," and Menzer is looking for more good ideas for stories.

It will be the first issue since the paper originally published beginning in 2010.

Those issues featured endorsements of candidates in primary elections, a map of good dishes to order at local restaurants, an explanation of a Wal-Mart public relations gambit, movie reviews, instructions on how to handle landlord disputes and local business profiles. Back issues are available here.

"I think everyone got super busy with all kinds of different stuff. We just couldn't keep the scene rolling over there ... and it just kind of died,” said Ed Marzsewski, the Bridgeport bar owner of Maria’s Community Bar and publisher who helped jump start the original paper.

He'll also help resurrect it.

"Really, it’s meant to in the vein of a community newsletter ... a cross between a school bulletin and a church bulletin," he said.

Menzer, who moved to Bridgeport from Seattle less than two years ago, said she’s been enamored with the neighborhood — the diversity, the arts scene, the food and the no-nonsense camaraderie — ever since she arrived.

"My mind gets blown wider and wider open every day here," she said.

Interested in learning more? Menzer is hosting informal meetings on most Tuesday evenings at Maria’s Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St. and at her Bridgeport apartment. Contact bridgeportinternationale@gmail.com

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