Xerography Debt #12
Deadlines. I am all about deadlines. XD has run pretty much exactly on schedule despite a litany of crises, which include unemployment, over-employment, domestic calamity, moving, illness, and that's just what is going on at XD Headquarters, let alone the personal lives of the staff.
I've got a little stress-related health issue I am contending with at the moment and in the midst of rushing to and from work something cover artist Androo Robinson said kept echoing in my head. "Remember when this used to be fun?" I love to read zines, but trying to keep up with the flow the last few months has been overwhelming. I started a new job in June and because of the location I have to drive to work - taking the train to work was one of the reasons I was able to keep up before. Now I am in the car over two hours everyday traveling between Baltimore and the DC suburbs. I like my job and I get to work with books, but the irony is that I haven't read a book since I started working there. So there I was in the car with "Remember when this used to be fun…" stuck on repeat.
I had already planned on chaining myself to the computer this weekend to try and meet the original deadline. I wanted to be able to blow off the deadline and finish it a few weeks late, but doing that was eating at my very existence, which hates to be late for anything. Thanks to an unpleasant catscan experience I now acknowledge that I need to learn some better stress-management skills.
What to do…the answer hit me with cartoonish ridiculousness (Bang! Boom! Splat!) - ask for help. I can be astoundingly dense.
There is only one person I considered asking to help with the nit-picky editorial tasks associated with Xerography Debt: Donny Smith. He has, literally, decades of experience in the zine community, has edited his current zine for ten years, and is even more fastidious and compulsive than I am. I also realized that I call and ask Androo's advice on the zine constantly and this too should be acknowledged. They are both now co-editors for XD.
While Xerography Debt can be a source of anxiety for me, it is also teaching me how to deal with it.
The History of Zines series has gotten some great response, so this feature will continue indefinitely. If you have an idea for a column, please get in touch. If you are interested in writing a column, but aren't sure what to write about we have a list of suggested topics.
Davida Gypsy Breier
Basic stuff you should know
If this is your first issue, XEROGRAPHY DEBT is a review zine for zine readers by zine writers. It is a hybrid of review zine and personal zine. XEROGRAPHY DEBT has its own freestyle approach. It is all about communication, so each reviewer has used the format or style most comfortable to him or her. Also, each reviewer “owns” the zine in a completely communal, non-possessive sense. We are individual artists and writers coming together to collaborate and help keep zineland flourishing. It is a communal experience from start to finish. Do your part by ordering a few zines from the many reviewed here and, if you self-publish, please consider including a few reviews in your zine.
Xerography Debt’s reviews are selective. To explain the “system”: Some reviewers choose to review zines they have bought or traded with, some review zines that are sent to Xerography Debt for review, and some do both. Also, I buy zines at Atomic Books, my local zine store, and zine events, so if you see your zine reviewed and you didn’t send it in, that might be where I found it. Generally the only reviews you will read in here are “good reviews.” Constructive criticism is given, but basically we don’t have the time or money to print bad reviews. If you sent your zine in for review and don’t see it listed, wait a few months and see if it appears in the following issue. I read and then distribute the zines to the reviewers about two months before the print date. If the reviewer passed on reviewing your zine, it will be sent out again for the next issue. So, each zine gets two shots with two different reviewers. Ultimately, many of the review copies stay in the XD archives, but some are donated to zine libraries. Occasionally mistakes happen, postal or otherwise, so if you have a question about a zine you sent in for review, please contact Davida at PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Xerography Debt is receiving more and more zines for review. Until issue #6, complimentary copies were sent to all of the zines reviewed. That just isn’t feasible any more. If I have your e-mail address, I’ll try and e-mail a copy of the review and a link to the new issue on the website. If I can afford the time and postage I’ll send a postcard or letter with the review. If I am unable to do this, please bear with me, I’m doing the best I can.
It is available for free online (some reviews and artwork will only be available in print) or paper copies can be ordered for $3.
If you have an event, announcement, or project you would like to share, please get in touch.
The lack of paid advertising within these pages is deliberate. Despite reviewing our friends and lovers, we try to be somewhat objective and free to do as we please. Needless to say, this brings up the point of needing some help to stay afloat...
We see Xerography Debt as the PBS of review zines. It is by us, for us, with no financial incentive, just a dedication to small press. If you have a few spare stamps or dollar bills to help support us and the zine community, it would be most appreciated. Also, let me know if you wish to remain anonymous. This issue’s sponsors are:
William P. Tandy, Jan, Earl, and Ken, Androo Robinson and Maria Goodman, Donny Smith and Mark Hain, Bobby Tran Dale, Dar Veverka, Jeannie McStay, DB Pedlar, Al Cene, Owen Thomas, Scout, Billy McKay, Anne Thalheimer, Ted Mangano, Fred Wright, Julie Dorn, OIPRC.org, BOING (SLC Collective), and a few anonymous benefactors.
There were two reviewers who were unable to complete their reviews. I didn't get the zines back in time to facilitate reviews in this issue. My apologies to those who sent zines and haven't been reviewed yet. Hopefully they will appear in the next issue.
“I’m Julie from Junie in Georgia. I’m repeating my call for submissions for two side-projects of mine. One is on loss—any sort of personal experience that has caused you to grow, to grieve, to change. The format can be words, drawings or both, as long as it can fit an 8 ½ x 11” page. The other one-shot zine is on journals…who keeps them, who doesn’t, how journaling changes over the years, whatever you’d like to share. Deadlines for both zines are November 30th, 2003. Send to Julie Dorn, P.O. Box 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002”
“MOVIN’ ON UP: That’s right, just two days after the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green, we packed up the entire operation and relocated to our new digs in Toledo, Ohio. Yes, it was ridiculous, and I’d never time it that way again. But our new locale is great! We’re located in the coolest neighborhood in Toledo amidst all kinds of gigantic Victorian homes that could house all y’all if you decided that spending $1k month for a 1 bedroom apartment isn’t where it’s at. ‘What the hell’s going on in Toledo?’ you ask? Plenty before we got here, and who knows what’s about to happen now that we’re on the scene. In addition to some really amazing people in the area, we’re also a stone’s throw closer to Detroit and Ann Arbor, so get ready for an even more concentrated Midwest uprising!
That means we have a new address. The old box will be open for awhile still, but PLEASE UPDATE YOUR RECORDS:
Clamor/ Become The Media/ Allied Media Projects
PO Box 20128
Toledo, OH 43610
phone: Ha! Our offices are still in our home, so we’ll keep that number under wraps for awhile. Drop us an email instead: email@example.com”
“Well, after seven years I’ve moved out of the Prairie State! Until further notice, please send all orders, zines, etc. to: Low hug, A.j. Michel, 112 Muir Ave, PMB #1057, Hazleton PA 18201. Thanks for your continued understanding and support through my moving. Regards, A.j. Michel”
“Hi! We’re the new editors of The Letter Exchange, formerly published by Steve Sikora in Santa Rosa, CA. In searching the Web we found that you had a great mention of “Lex” on your Xerography Debt #2 page, so we wanted to let you know that although Steve retired from publishing the magazine at the end of 2000 and closed the forwarding service in 2001, Lex is back! Two former Lexers finally decided to jump into the world of home publishing - we’ve just this spring revived Lex, with the first issue mailed out last week. We intend to carry on in Steve’s tradition, except that we’ve added a basic Web site, www.letter-exchange.com, to function essentially as an on-line brochure. Letters live!
Sincerely, Gary Marvin & Lonna Riedinger
The Letter Exchange, 855 Village Center Drive, #324, North Oaks, MN 55127-3016”
“Two things: #1. Free zines! Sell them! www.OIPRC.org - Oasis Away From International Powers of Racism & Classism. 50% fun, 50% activists! #2. “Trace of the Hand” All-5-Senses zine experience package: Zine, tape cassette, mini-poster, snack & more! Domestic $10.00. Outside USA $20.00. www.DSAME.com checks, m.o., debit/credit card payment. Transcending cool with love.”
“Just a quick note here to let you know that the review site for PANISCUS REVUE has changed. We’re now at http://home.earthlink.net/~paniscus. This new site will be updated regularly, with new audio, video, printed matter, and pork rind reviews constantly being posted. The previous site, www.paniscusrevue.com, is now simply an archive site. (As far as hard copies of PANISCUS go, issue eleven has been finished, and is just waiting for an economical print source while #12 is already underway.) Please note that while there is a new e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), the hard mail address remains the same: PANISCUS REVUE c/o Tom Crites, P.O. Box 20175, Seattle, WA, 98102-1175, USA.
(Oh yeah, there’s a gallery site up too, at http://home.earthlink.net/~tmcrites)
“You guys know that Factsheet 5 is back up and running, yeah? www.factsheet5.org
They have a links list for zines: http://www.factsheet5.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Web_Links&file=index
It’s pretty easy, and the link usually shows up within 24 hours.
Spread the word to other zinesters with sites to register too.”
—Benn Ray, Atomic Books
WHAT’S YOUR STORY, BALTIMORE?
This city holds a million stories, most of them unwritten. Undrawn. Untold. And whether you’re a native, a transplant, or just passing through, chances are that one of them is yours.
Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! celebrates all things Baltimore, good and bad. From the routine to the quirky to the downright bizarre, Smile, Hon is interested in your stories: everything that defines what it means to live - or simply be - in Charm City. Work, home, neighborhoods, pastimes, nostalgia. Saturday night, Sunday morning, and everything in between. Good, bad, and ugly.
Submissions/queries are welcome via e-mail at email@example.com, or by writing to Attn: William P. Tandy, c/o Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!, P.O. Box 963, Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078; www.leekinginc.com/esp
The History of Zines:
By Donny Smith
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
“Unhampered by propriety, ‘niceness,’ discretion, public opinion, ‘morals,’ the ‘respect’ of assholes, always funky, dirty, low-down,” Valerie Solanas resisted easy identities. At various times she was called, or called herself, lesbian, asexual, man-hater, wife, feminist, whore, unwed mother, devoted daughter, intellectual, actress, butch, panhandler, homebody, “super-woman,” psycho, “desexed monstrosity,” stalker, and murderer (although she never succeeded in killing anyone). She hitchhiked and hustled her way from New Jersey to Maryland to Minnesota; Texas, Berkeley, New York, Florida, Phoenix, San Francisco—rarely living anywhere more than a few months. Even her name seemed to change from year to year: Val, Valeria, Valerie; Solanis, Solonas, Solanas; Gloria Solaris, Onz Loh.
Her manifesto has never found a comfortable place either. Sometimes it’s a feminist classic, sometimes a marginal tract, a cult classic, a rant, man-hating, anti-feminist, surrealist, anarcho-socialist, utopian, apocalyptic. The manifesto on first reading seems to be uncomplicatedly anti-man and pro-woman, but it won’t go down that easily. It turns out that men are really incomplete females, that in fact men are females—that is, passive and weak. It is women who are male—that is, strong, intelligent, and active. Men resist their femaleness; they want to be male, but can’t. A few men have given up resistance and become faggots and transvestites, but still remain men, that is, female. Men have done a good job convincing women that women are female, and some women almost seem willing to take the role; these are the Daddy’s Girls and the Mamas. The female females, that is, the true males, are SCUM. They’re out to build a new world, but first they’ve got to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex.” It may seem that SCUM’s conflict is with men, but in fact, it’s with Daddy’s Girl, the “toadie,” who like Mama is the “mindless administrator to physical needs, soother of the weary, apey brow, booster of the puny ego, appreciator of the contemptible, a hot water bottle with tits.” In the end, though, SCUM will prevail. The “conceited, kookie, funkie females grooving on each other, cracking each other up, while cracking open the universe” will thrive, while any Daddy’s Girls that might remain will live in cow pastures, breeding with whatever men survive.
Solanas published these utopian writings herself and sold them mail-order, advertising in the Village Voice. She got a few Greenwich Village bookstores to carry them, but most of all she hawked them on the street—$1 for women, $2 for men. In the 70s, she claimed to be writing another book titled Valerie Solanas that would expand on her previous writings, talk a little about events in her life, and “get extensively into the subject of bullshit, a very important subject.” In the 80s, her hotel room was reportedly full of typewritten pages. In 1988, she was found dead in San Francisco.
And the reason you’ve probably heard of her: She tried to kill Andy Warhol in 1968. (The movie version was called I Shot Andy Warhol, starring Lili Taylor.) But Solanas was not proud of that episode in her life. According to her common-law husband, “the fact that she wasn’t able to pull it off and murder Andy Warhol showed that—it made her feel ineffectual and was a blemish on her reputation.” She told an interviewer in 1977, “I should have done target practice.” (As her mother said, “She had a terrific sense of humor.”)
Solanas’s self-published works:
Up Your Ass (New York?, 1965?)
Up Your Ass, or, From the Cradle to the Boat, or, The Big Suck, or, Up from the Slime; and A Young Girl’s Primer on How to Attain to the Leisure Class (New York?, Scum Book, 1967)
SCUM Manifesto (New York?, 1967)
SCUM Manifesto (New York, 1977; “the correct Valerie Solanas edition”)
sources & recommended reading:
Judy Michaelson “Valerie: The Trouble Was Men” New York Post, Jun. 5, 1968: 57
Valerie Solanas (letter to editors) Majority Report, Jun. 11, 1977: 9
Howard Smith & Brian Van der Horst “Valerie Solanas Interview” Village Voice, Jul. 25, 1977: 32
Howard Smith & Brian Van der Horst “Valerie Solanas Replies” Village Voice, Aug. 1, 1977: 28
Ultra Violet Famous for 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol (San Diego, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988)
Rowan Gaither “Andy Warhol’s Feminist Nightmare” New York, Jan. 14, 1991: 35
Mary Harron & Daniel Minahan I Shot Andy Warhol (New York, Grove, 1996)
Liz Jobey “Solanas and Son” The Guardian, Aug. 24, 1996: T10+
Bruce Boone “‘Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!’ or, Valerie Solanas in Silver Lamé” Dwan 22 (Oct. 1997)
Judith Coburn “Valerie’s Gang” [East Bay] Express, Nov. 19, 1999: 1, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16
Donny Smith “Proving You’re Not Crazy” (interview with Louis Zwiren and friends) Solanas Supplement to Dwan 3 (Jan. 2003): 23-31
The History of Zines:
ZINESTERS IN A FLOWERY DELL
By Peter Brock
581 Avenue Rd, Apt 1001
Toronto, ON M4V 2K4 Canada
Flowery dell = a prison cell in the traditional rhyming slang of English thieves. Therefore British conscientious objectors (COs) imprisoned in London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison in the Second World War gave their underground paper the title The Flowery. Sixteen, or possibly seventeen, issues appeared between August 1942 and March 1944, and the paper had a succession of six different editors. The Flowery had been the brain child primarily of Herbert F. Moore, who edited its first five issues in the course of eight months spent at the Scrubs. Moore was not only an accomplished journalist but a charismatic character. A fellow CO, Bob Hockley, who occupied the cell next door to Moore’s, relates in his “Prison Memoirs” that Moore’s presence there “transformed” his life in prison. When one editor was released from jail at the expiry of his sentence, he handed the editorship over to his successor. By the spring of 1944, however, few COs remained at Wormwood Scrubs; so the paper folded up.
Fenner Brockway, a veteran of CO prison samizdat in World War One, wrote the preface to the pamphlet containing extracts from the paper (The Flowery 1942-4: The Scrubs “Conchie” Review, London, 1945) and told readers how much he regretted that the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors (CBCO), of which he was chairman, had been unable “to reproduce The Flowery in full in its original form.” The paper, he goes on, “was written in hand on sheets of ruled prison paper bound together with the stout waxed thread supplied to the prisoners for their task of making mailbags for the General Post Office. Careful folding of the sheets, a few stitches with the stout needle, and the process of binding, such a problem for most publishers during wartime, was complete.” At Wormwood Scrubs and other British jails of that time prisoners were permitted use of pen, ink, and paper only for the purpose of writing the monthly letter out. Otherwise, a smallish slate, together with chalk and a rag for erasing what had been written, was all that was available.
A striking feature of each issue of the Flowery was its cover. The Scrubs community of COs contained some extremely talented artists whose fingers were probably better adapted to this task than to sewing mailbags for the GPO. One cover, for instance, depicted a heavily barred cell window, another the prison’s neo-Gothic turrets and grim cellblocks. “Sometimes the artist showed a neat sense of humour as, for instance, in the first issue of 1943 ... when the New Year was illustrated by the figure of a little child bearing a bag marked ’43 and knocking at a locked prison door marked ‘Reception.’ Beneath was the caption ‘Starting a stretch.’” One cover artist devised a tasteful color design in shaded pink and pale blue as the result of somehow—somewhere—purloining a bottle of red ink. Readers were so pleased with the outcome of the artist’s “theft” that the editor used the scheme for three successive issues.
Only one copy of each issue was produced. Let me quote Brockway again on the process of production and methods of distribution; he obviously obtained his information direct from those who had participated in one capacity or another in the enterprise: “Every issue,” he writes, “of course involved risks to all associated with it—not only the editor and contributors, but the readers. The writers and artists would usually prepare their contributions seated in the one quarter of their cells outside the view of the inquisitive eye at the spy-hole in the door. The binder would fold and sew the sheets in a similar way or inside the protection of the mailbag on which he was working. The reader would hide the precious journal inside his shirt or sock until he was ready to pass it in a flash to another prisoner as they met in corridor or queue. Discovery meant almost certainly a day or two on bread and water and solitary confinement.”
Considering the high risk of discovery it is surprising that only one issue, that of February 1943, was uncovered by a prison officer—through no fault of the man who was carrying it, since he had taken “all reasonable precautions” to preserve secrecy. The officer, however, did not report the delinquent as he was supposed to do according to the prison rules. He just destroyed the paper on the spot. Brockway supposed he did this out of kindness, adding wryly: “though perhaps without due appreciation of literary and artistic merit.”
Besides illustrations, each issue of the Flowery contained a variety of contributions in both verse and prose: serious articles alongside humorous pieces. There may not have been any masterpieces but the Flowery’s literary standard was remarkably high considering the circumstances in which it was produced. The Food Relief campaigner Roy Walker, for instance, who spent virtually the whole of two sentences at Wormwood Scrubs in solitary confinement because he had consistently refused all prison labor, still managed to contribute several clever poems to the Flowery.
Herbert Moore, introducing the paper—anonymously, of course—in its first issue of August 1942, had set the tone. “The editor,” he wrote, “wishes to apologise right away for everything except for one thing. He apologises for the writing, the spelling and the syntax. He apologises for the paper, the nib and the ink ... He apologises for all the contributors who have ‘started the ball rolling’ but he thanks them most gratefully for risking it. What he does not apologise for is the spirit in which it was conceived, and which was one of co-operation with all those ‘inside’ with him, ... who are standing against war. This effort has helped him. May it also help his readers.” Moore then gave readers some advice. They should be prepared “to accept full responsibility” if a prison officer should discover he had the paper. “It is to be retained one night or dinner-time only, and passed on to a known C.O. It is only to be read in the cell, with the door shut, and should not be taken if there is a possibility of a special release”: a necessary precaution since at this time the authorities were releasing COs without prior notice if their application to an Appellate Tribunal had been successful. Readers were also asked not to fold the paper: it was a fragile artifact that could easily disintegrate when treated roughly. “If,” Moore concluded, “a certain P.O. [Principal Officer] with a reputation for seeing even the ridge of a cigarette paper under a convict’s jacket, should be about, we can only say that Flowery should be hastily swallowed in two large gulps. Nor should that prove difficult to those who have actually eaten, shall we say, a fish dinner. After all, it may be bad, but it doesn’t smell!” And the stockfish, served as a frequent main course for midday dinner at the wartime Scrubs, was truly malodorous.
Humor seems to have predominated over serious content. As a versifier declared in the issue of December 1942: “If this booklet brings to birth / Naught of value save its mirth, / We could no apter subject find, / Knowing well how sorrow might consume the mind; / For of joy one smile surmounts a span, / For to laugh is proper to the man.” Indeed the serious contributions seem to have been rather slight. An exception was the article Sidney Greaves wrote for the Flowery during the evening prior to his discharge from the Scrubs. It described the work at the Hungerford Club to which he was returning (cited in Denis Hayes, Challenge of Conscience: The Story of the Conscientious Objectors of 1939-1949, London, 1949, pp. 226-8). The Club, situated under an arch of Hungerford Bridge in central London, cared for down-and-outs whose verminous and filthy condition made them unwelcome in the capital’s air-raid shelters. It was run by the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and staffed by a dedicated group of COs and their friends, who earned praise even from the wartime coalition government’s Ministry of Health.
The Flowery’s humor often poked fun at the “screws” (as the prison officers were known in jail slang) and, above them, the Principal Officers, “encased in ribboned uniform for show.” One of the most successful contributions (authored by H.R. Moir) consisted of a series of “Nature Notes: Birds in Scrubland,” accompanied by illustrations depicting the various birds: the Lesser Wryneck or Wormwoodia Scrubicus, whose “mournful tones pervade the scrubs at all hours”; the Scrubby Bullfinch (Stevii Prisonicus), whose “gentle call ... is known to all—‘Git-abucket, Git-abucket’;” and two “pretty (Jail) birds ... [nicknamed] on account of their head plumage ... ‘Goldilocks’.” The latter, the Notes report, appear to be in full song throughout Scrubland at about 8.30 in the morning. Their appealing cry, ‘Kumm-on-Lad, Anser-y’ naym’, pierces the densest November fog ... The two species ... share song peculiarity and beak structures. The plumage, too, is uniform.” But not only the prison staff, including the Anglican chaplain (“Ecclesiasticus Carolae Tudorii ... the only bird of ‘pray’ ever to figure in heraldry”), and “rarer ornithological visitors to these climes,” like the visiting Justices of the Peace with “their cry, ‘Any gumplaints?,’” became figures of fun for our proto-zinesters, the naive CO was also game for them. An example of this is the “Conversation Piece” composed for the Flowery’s first number presenting a dialogue between an “old lag” and the innocent CO in the neighboring cell, who is extremely bewildered by his neighbor’s slang.
I have based my article almost exclusively on the 1945 pamphlet referred to above. True, except for the confiscated issue, it would seem that all remaining issues of the Flowery were successfully smuggled out of the Scrubs, despite the fact that only one copy of each issue existed inside prison. At the end of the war, the lawyer Denis Hayes, who worked for the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors during the war years, possessed copies of almost all the original issues, while the penultimate Flowery editor, Howard Whitten, was in possession of two issues that Hayes did not have. These originals provided the source for the 1945 pamphlet. But, alas, they appear to be no longer extant, though of course some—or all—may eventually surface again. (See letter, dated August 28, 2003, from Tabitha Driver, Library of the Religious Society of Friends, London, where the CBCO archives are located.)
In World War One almost every British prison had its CO underground press. (See my “Prison Samizdat of British Conscientious Objectors in the First World War,” Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, vol. 12 (2003), pp. 8-21.) But, in the next global conflict so far as I am aware, among British prisons only Wormwood Scrubs produced a CO samizdat—a result perhaps of the smaller proportion of COs who then spent time in jail. It is sad, therefore, that the original issues of this unique zine may have vanished for ever.
The History of Zines:
MUCKRAKER: In fact and the life of George Seldes
By Cali Ruchala
100 E Walton #31H, Chicago, IL 60611
As any hack knows, hypocrisy is one of the most effective tools of manipulation. It’s a sign of the times that the hack himself is usually the first to get suckered by it.
Here’s something that explains what I mean. A few years ago, I read an article railing against the gross commercialization of journalism in the wake of the massive mergers of the late 1990s. Everywhere, it seemed, fluff was being written about new sitcoms debuting on a newspaper’s “sister station,” plastic pop divas on a record company owned by the same parent company - you get the idea.
Not long after, I came face to face with the writer of the article in question, though I can’t remember his name now. He was proud of the commentary spawned by his piece, though I thought he had stopped short of drawing blood. When I observed that his article had appeared in one of print’s seminal cemeteries of objectivity, which owned a stake in everything from internet services to television networks, you could almost hear the creaking strain of forced smiles in the room.
“It’s better than nothing,” he said, before adding hastily, “That’s how criticism is. Jesus, I’m not George Seldes.”
I didn’t know the name George Seldes back then, but it’s appropriate that he did. Seldes was something like a Catholic saint of the trade: passionate, uncompromising, and, to those who make a career in print, utterly unattainable. Having lived the glamorous life of a foreign correspondent, covering the great events of his era, Seldes gave it all up because he couldn’t make himself believe in the hypocrisy of exposing the truth for men that worked to bury it. Moreover, when he spoke out about corruption, Seldes realized the hazard to public safety of identifying criminals by assumed names.
No sniper from the ivory tower, Seldes followed his criticisms through to the end. Turning his back on the newspaper business, for more than ten years he published what might be considered the most popular zine in history - a slim but fascinating “newsletter” that reached nearly 200,000 people with every issue, sold almost entirely through the mail, and produced from start to finish by his wife and the man himself.
The breadth of George Seldes’ career is astounding; he was one of the few writers that could title a memoir Witness to a Century and get away with it.
A correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in the dying days of World War I, Seldes along with three other intrepid journalists bundled himself into Germany for an interview with Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, best remembered today as Hitler’s predecessor. But war hysteria portrayed Hindenburg as nothing less than a Teutonic Saddam Hussein. The American army was outraged by their stunt. Seldes and the other reporters were court-martialed, and their interview with the German strongman never saw the light of day.
The Hindenburg fiasco cast the die for Seldes’ career. In Moscow in the 1920s, he scored an interview with the dying Vladimir Lenin but soon fell afoul of the censorship authorities. The Soviets discovered his ruse of sending out critical stories disguised as letters to friends, and expelled him from the country.
In 1925, Seldes was dispatched to what was considered the best job for a reporter in Europe: Rome. After a fixed election, Italian duce Benito Mussolini’s opposition in parliament had been greatly reduced, and reduced by one more after Giacomo Matteotti, a Socialist, rose in parliament and declared that the election had been a sham.
Fascist blackshirts tried to abduct Matteotti to teach him a lesson, but, in an understandable oversight, stabbed him repeatedly until he died. Police reports outlining each murderer’s connection with Mussolini circulated for a year before Seldes stepped foot in Roma fascista but, to his astonishment, not a single foreign reporter had written about it. His story on the Matteotti Affair wound up on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Soon enough, Seldes could claim the distinction of having been expelled by two of the most repressive regimes in the world.
Seldes went on to report for the Tribune from Mexico as the two countries approached a state of war (Mexico was threatening to nationalize the assets of several American mining companies). Seldes wrote two sets of stories on the issue: one from the quintessential American perspective, and the other from what he thought was the Mexican point of view. Appalled that the Tribune printed his pro-American dispatches and rubbished the rest, Seldes finally had enough, and resigned.
After reporting on the Spanish Civil War and writing a few books on the manipulation of the press by advertisers, industrialists and government flunkies, in 1940 Seldes was approached by another journalist with the idea for In fact, a newsletter that would publish everything verboten in the American press. His collaborator was a member of the Communist Party, and the two quarreled over the entire contents of the first issue. They soon parted ways, and the writing, printing and distribution of In fact was taken over entirely by Seldes and his wife.
For ten years beginning in 1940, In fact published a motley collection of stories about press freedom, union rights, “American fascism” and other “antidotes for falsehood in the daily press.” Writers would often tip Seldes off to stories killed by their editors, giving In fact a reach far beyond the couples’ living room.
Reading a few preserved issues of In fact, one can see that a demanding publishing schedule led Seldes to indulge in filler, and many “follow-ups” to his investigative pieces were little more than an attempt to keep an issue current while filling column inches. But there was undoubtedly more worth reading in each slim issue of In fact than in a year’s worth of Life magazine, or anything else being published at the time. Probably the greatest legacy of In fact was that it was the only publication to repeatedly point out the cancer risks of cigarettes, at a time when newspaper stories on the issue were buried by shovelfuls of advertising dollars from the tobacco companies.
At its height, In fact boasted a circulation of 176,000 copies, nearly all sent to subscribers. It was, undoubtedly, a publication from the Left, and in the late 1940s, the targets of Seldes’ wrath in the newspaper business had an effective means of fighting back. Red Panic and McCarthyism had the government looking under beds for hidden Communists, and In fact had, after all, been co-founded by a member of the Communist Party. Ordering what the Hearst syndicate called “the unofficial organ of the Communist Party in the USA” was too great a risk for many readers; the FBI had already begun compiling lists of In fact’s subscribers. As the rolls of his “five dollar liberals” dwindled, Seldes considered handing off the torch to someone else, but ultimately decided to shutter this astonishing publication after some ten years in print.
Even if he hadn’t been blacklisted, Seldes had lambasted enough Hearsts, McCormacks and Gannets to make any resuscitation of a newspaper career impossible. In spite of the hardships, the thought of appeasing the “lords of the press” was as alien a notion as ever. As Seldes told journalist Randolph T. Holhut, “I never had it easy, but I never missed a meal and I’ve never been broke.”
Facing a very different sort of disgrace, the Torquemada of the Red Panic, Richard Nixon, once begged former president Herbert Hoover for the secret of his redemption in the eyes of the public. Hoover gave him simple advice: “Outlive your enemies.” Seldes outlived most of his. He took his last breath on July 2, 1995, at the ripe old age of 104. Nevertheless, most of his books remain out of print. A few volunteers began (but seem to have abandoned) an initiative to place the texts online; an incomplete archive is located at http://www.brasscheck.com/seldes/gsa.html
IT MEANS IT’S WANK
By Jeff Somers
P.O. Box 3024, Hoboken NJ 07030
THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF THE SOUL
"So what does that mean?
It means it's wank.”
Vic Flange, www.fleshmouth.co.uk [now defunct], describing my zine.
...in which Jeff Somers considers the horror of a paucity of reviews. And indulges in some postmodern-lite footnotes, like David Foster Wallace, natch.
THE only thing worse than a bad review, really, is no review at all. I remember the first issue of my little zine: I printed up about 50 issues, mailed them out to whoever I could think of (mainly friends, family, and my seventh-grade teacher who once advised me that I was ruining my life by quitting the crossing guards—somehow I don’t think the zine thing convinced her otherwise). There followed a Great Silence, wherein you could detect, if you listened very closely, the faint sound of crickets.
We’ve all been there. After a while, and about ten more issues, I started to figure out that there was an entire zine community out there, complete with review zines and such, and I started getting some reviews, some notice, and the occasional two bucks in the mail, quickly spent on liquor and forgotten. For a while my zine seemed to get reviews, good and otherwise, every few weeks. I became obsessed with it, for here was proof, finally, that I did actually exist, that I wasn’t a spirit fooled into believing he was real. It also confirmed that I had actually produced a zine and mailed it out to people, that it hadn’t all been a DTs hallucination, like that time I conquered the world with an army of winged monkeys—damn, I had some explaining to do after that bender, when I kept wearing the crown and commanding that people be executed on the spot.
I searched for reviews of my zine constantly, and began reproducing them in my zine for a bizarrely egocentric mirror-into-mirror effect that I’m still quite fond of.
And then, around issue 25 or so, I stopped getting reviews—not entirely, but it definitely throttled down a little.
The simplest explanation makes sense: Everyone had already reviewed the damn thing, and saw no reason to keep reviewing it. In my fevered brain, however, it quickly became an existential crisis: I’d been relying on a steady stream of reviews to prove to myself that I was actually doing these things. The sudden lack of reviews made me doubt my own existence. Anyone who’s put out a zine and gotten no response back knows the terrible, black feeling that a lack of interest inspired within you—this is, in some sense, you that you’re putting out there. Even if it’s not a perzine, even if it’s a zine dedicated to the study of tiny furniture craved out of soap, it still represents a part of you. To have it coldly ignored is horrible.
Of course, there’s not much you can do about it aside from getting the emergency bottle of cheap whiskey from the toilet tank and doing some hard drinking...um, thinking. Begging for reviews is undignified, and likely to get you nowhere fast, since reviews are provided not as free advertising for you, or as a stroke to your ego, but as a service to the readers out there with two dollars to spare and in need of good advice on how to spend it. The one spark of hope, of course, is that eventually it will all come back around to you, because there’re always new reviewers out there, and sometimes veterans will re-examine your zine from time to time. The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul will end, eventually.
This is why it’s always a mistake to underestimate the power and value of reviews in zinedom. Not only are reviews a great way of getting info about new zines, and a great way to get some promotion for your zine, but they also serve as a barometer of the attention you’re getting for your efforts—and let’s face it, if you didn’t want attention, you whore, you wouldn’t be putting out a zine. or at least you’d be doing something like putting out six issues to close intimate friends and burning the masters afterwards. A lack of reviews can be an invaluable indication of your penetration into the psyche of the reader, good or bad. Personally, I’d much rather get a ton of really bad reviews than no reviews at all. Polite, dutiful reviews which boil down to mere acknowledgments that the author received your zine in the mail are almost as depressing as no reviews at all...but not quite. The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is a much blacker force in the Universe; if we could somehow harness the Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul and convert it into electrical energy, we could probably solve the world’s energy problems.
Some zines, I suppose, move past the need for reviews, in a sense. I’ve heard that Cometbus is pretty good, for example, and I doubt people need one more review to convince them that it’s a quality publication. Of course, people new to zines might not have the benefit of the previous twenty years of reviews moldering away in past issues of review zines, so new reviews always serve a purpose, and I want everyone to remember that next time you see Yet Another Review of My Zine and want to tear the page out and burn it, it makes you so mad. I guess the basic rule you can take away from this column is: Reviews, good. No reviews, Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul.
 True story: I was a crossing guard, which meant I wore a bright orange belt and helped the crossing guard manage all the younger kids. I thought it would be fun and they really dressed it up as an honor, but it was boring and I had better things to do, like drink blackberry brandy on street corners, so I quit. Looking back, I guess it was kind of the beginning of a downward spiral of sorts.
 No shit—I had no idea I was putting out a zine. I had no idea so many other people had used sophisticated time-travel devices to steal my idea for ‘zines’ and begin producing them decades before I was even born. I didn’t find out about zines until long after that first issue, and was, of course, delighted. And litigous, but so far no lawyer will take the case.
 I briefly considered putting a review of my zine that appeared in Xerograghy Debt, and was subsequently reprinted in my zine, in this footnote, but that suddenly seemed too self-indulgent, if such a thing exists.
 Such a zine, to my knowledge, does not exist. But what a magical world this would be if it did!
 This kind of lame play on words is normally beneath me.
 The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is, of course, a title of a book by Douglas Adams, stolen quite brazenly.
 Although I certainly won’t. Remember it, that is.
PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094
His head hurts, his teeth itch, his feet stink and he don’t love Jesus. But that doesn’t make him a bad person, it just makes him The Hungover Gourmet. Check out the journal of food, drink, travel and fun at hungovergourmet.com or send a SASE to PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094-5531 for more info.
GO METRIC #16 Winter 2002/2003 (15A South Bedford Road, Pound Round, NY 10576; after 7/1/03 verify address at firstname.lastname@example.org; $2 per issue; 64 pages, half-legal)
Computers and desktop publishing software are the best and worst things that ever happened to the world of self-publishing. In the late 1980s, zines took a giant leap forward in terms of readability, but lost some of their personality in the process. GO METRIC solves that problem by combining desktop typesetting with a rough, hands-on, cut and paste kind of layout. That said, a zine still needs to deliver some compelling content and GM has that in spades - there’s an interview with 8-TRACK MIND editor Russ Forster about his documentary on tribute bands, why Queen “ruled,” Godzilla flicks, The Boys vs. The Dead Boys, and the obligatory pages of record and CD reviews. Best of all, who knew The Figgs had a new CD?! Good package filled with heaping helpings of smart-assitude, though I could’ve done without Rev. Norb’s thoughts on the SPIDER-MAN movie. The headache-inducing layout made it impossible to get through the first page!
CLAMOR #19 March/April 2003 (PO Box 1225, Bowling Green, OH 43402; $4 per issue; 68 pages, full-size)
Despite protestations to the contrary, sports and an alternative lifestyle are not mutually exclusive. But I can probably count on two hands the number of zines that have any kind of regular sports content or admit to liking something so corporate and mainstream. The “Everyday Pros” issue of CLAMOR tries to rectify that by presenting how real do people do all sorts of sports - everything from candlepin bowling and kickball to triathlons and something dangerous looking and sounding called “volcano boarding.” Since the mag has an admittedly alternative and activist slant, some of the contributions do come off a bit whiny, which makes it hard to appreciate the singular drive that’s required of any athletic endeavor. That said, pieces like the chat with boxer Ernie Terrell (who fought Muhammad Ali in 1967) and a look at the “sport” of cockfighting in America are excellent examples of writing in any venue.
CABOOSE #3: The Modular Karaoke Issue (PO Box 476802, Chicago, IL 60647; $2 per issue; 44 pages, digest)
My trips into the world of karaoke have been liquored-fueled performances of tunes by the Go-Go’s (which almost resulted in me getting my ass kicked), Fleetwood Mac (a heartfelt rendition of “Landslide” that thrilled the crowds), and a medley of songs from ‘Grease’ (the less said the better). CABOOSE editor Liz gathers her karaoke circle of friends for an issue-length conversation about the intricacies of the karaoke experience. I particularly enjoyed the discussions of Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died,” Canadian rockers and the frank declaration that “Ya always look like an ass when you get up and do karaoke.” Brother what a night it really was...
REGLAR WIGLAR #18 (PO 1658 N Milwaukee #545, Chicago, IL 60647; $2 per issue; 48 pages, full-size)
Yet another punk zine full of band interviews and CD reviews. Best part is a couple pages of reviews for the likes of a Rock & Roll McDonald’s (what a great concept!) and Hooters, a chain I’ve never set foot in. Based on the writer’s description of the crummy food and uncomfortable seating I don’t think I’ll be heading there any time soon.
CHUMPIRE (PO Box 27, Annville, PA 17003-0027; 1 stamp or trade per issue; a few pages, various sizes)
One of the problems with many review zines is that the material is often wildly outdated by the time it lands in your mailbox. CHUMPIRE solves that by reviewing anything and everything in a no- frills format that takes on everything from news about the local school system, zine reviews, new and old CDs, movies... even the state of Florida. Think an on-line blog in paper format. A fast, breezy read well worth your time and effort!
LUCID FRENZY: A Belated Best of 2002 (8 Brewer Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 3HH, England; $2 per issue; 20 pages, digest)
Collects editor Gavin Burrows’ thoughts on the ten best gigs and flicks of last year.
PO BOX 6681, Portsmouth, NH 03802
Last issue, my reviews seemed to pour lovingly out of my brain like some sorta waterfall of delight. This time, the only thing pouring out of my head is a much less charming cascade of snot. I’ll do my best to wheeze, sniffle, and sputter through...Oh, the plugs: You can still get KITTY! #1, the zine by, for, & about cats, for $1. KITTY! #2 is currently in production & so is HOME #1. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to promote zines that aren’t out yet, but whatever. Movies have previews, don’t they?
ZINE NATION #1 Your Guide to Media Retaliation
I find the idea of a Zine Nation quite lovely. Imagine armies of sweetly shy curmudgeons recruiting reviewers and editors instead of stern, crew-cutted fighting machines. Food stamps replaced by passes for free
photocopies! Unemployment and health care benefits provided to those willing to create zines about their joblessness and/or illnesses. Oh, the possibilities! ZINE NATION is created by inspired zine kids hoping to stoke the D.I.Y. fire in its readers. Articles about self-publishing, releasing your own records, film making, and planning your own tours cover the basics for those just starting out. (I have to laugh at the unironic suggestion that bands should stay away from alcohol and sex while touring. Um, isn’t that half the fun of touring?!) I really enjoyed the piece about Projet MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE, a traveling bus filled with zines, independent art, and handmade books. I really need to find out if this amazing project still exists! An interview with comic artist Chester Brown, tons of zine reviews, comics, political collages, recipes, and even more Do It Yourself essays round out this meaty first issue. Lots of info for beginners, but enough variety to keep the seasoned vets entertained.
No price, but send at least $2 or $3. (All proceeds donated to the Cullen Carter Benefit Trust.); 17 Paton Rd, Unit #8, Toronto, ON, Canada M6H IR7
PASSIONS #32 May 2003
PASSIONS is described as a Cooperative Press Association. The members of this CPA contribute writing to the publication and share ownership as well as costs. Kind of like how XD operates, except for Davida pays for everything and does all the work while we ignore deadlines and return zines months later. (Well, by “we” I mean “me.”) Members explore their individual passions, which include Simpsons comic books, becoming a drag queen, political views, and college basketball. Joan Evans’ tribute to her childhood, “If It’s Sunday, We’re Having Pot Roast” stands out with its loving, detailed descriptions of food and family. The theme of “passions” seems to be quite loose, as many contributors just ramble about whatever comes to mind. (Well, I guess rambling is a passion in itself. If it weren’t, zines wouldn’t exist!) An ambitious, if not cohesive, collection.
$3.50; Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554-1120
This is exactly the kind of very punk rock zine I used to read in high school. Hell, I used to make zines like this! Personal essays about mix tapes and movies, political rants peppered with phrases like “George Walker Texas Ranger Bush” and “unelected pipeline-pimping Son-Of-A-Bush”, interviews with bands I’ve never heard of, show reviews of bands I’ve never heard of, information about UPC codes and sodomy laws, a Warren Zevon article, and a little poetry. While certainly no new ground is covered here, I think the editor and contributors have a lot of potential and genuine enthusiasm. Hopefully they’ll stick with zines long enough to hone their styles. NO ADDRESS!!!!! NO PRICE! I did some searching & all I could find was: email: email@example.com & price: $1. I can’t even believe that people make/send zines out without mailing information. This only makes sense if you’re making a very anonymous zine & don’t want people to order it. UGH!!! (Ed. - I thought I would be nice and go to Netfutur.com and try and find a postal address. Granted, my patience ain’t what it used to be, but I gave up. If you are looking for connections it is good to let people know how to reach you.)
Well, here’s something I’ve never seen before: a zine about role-playing games (or RPG, for those of you not in the know)! But then again, I’ve never tried to seek it out. Since I don’t know anything about this subject, I can’t tell you if the information is helpful or entertaining. I guess it’s kind of like trying to review a zine that’s written in a foreign language. RPG-related topics include an interview with James West of Random Order, a very in-depth look at Freeman’s Keep, & related commentary. Fortunately, SCROLLWORKS also includes information about making zines, some very comprehensive zine reviews (I really like Christian’s explanation of his reviewing policy; I totally agree!), and a book review. I think it’s cool that the editor is trying to educate his readers about all kinds of zines, especially since they’re probably only reading this one because of its subject matter.
$3.50; Christian Walker, PO BOX 983, San Jacinto, CA 92581
SLUG & LETTUCE #76
I can’t believe SLUG & LETTUCE even needs to be reviewed anymore! Is this the longest-running zine in history? No, really— is it? Well, there’s MAXIMUM ROCK & ROLL, but I don’t know if that counts anymore. Anyway, Christine deserves an award for consistently publishing this expertly executed collection of columns, zine & music reviews, and classifieds. While I’ve known of its existence for nearly a decade, I’ve only seen a few issues. Mostly because they’re churned out on such a regular basis that I can barely keep up. But receiving S&L in my review packet reminded me that I really need to order it more often. My only complaint is that the print is so teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy that I seriously have to struggle to read it. I realize that upping the font size just two points would probably double the printing costs, but I think it would be worth it. This issue’s most notable feature is Christine’s personal column, which touches on the sometimes fleeting nature of friendship, the power of memories, and feeling stagnant because life is actually stable.
60 cents each, send a couple bucks for a few issues or as a donation; PO BOX 26632, Richmond, VA 23261-6632
CHATTY PIG #4
As the maker of a cat zine, I’m trying to make it my mission to include at least one cat-related zine in each of my XD reviews. CHATTY PIG is not all about cats, but it does feature one very enjoyable cat story. (You’ll have to read it yourself to find out just what the hell is so thrilling about the kitchen cabinet!) CHATTY PIG follows Abby, a fresh young college graduate, as she discovers life outside academia. She takes a job as a paralegal, even though she has no training in the field, and ends up working for a very nutty couple of lawyers. Office-type drama ensues, and Abby is forced to make a choice between Mom & Pop crazies or corporate whores. A pleasurable jaunt into someone else’s life that left me wanting more.
$2; Abby Koch, 4739 N. Paulina St. #1, Chicago, IL 60640
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
All you people who don’t read poetry can stop avoiding my zine now. Every issue seems to have less poetry than the one before. Don’t know if it’s because people aren’t sending me poems worth reading anymore or if I’m just sick of reading a lot of crap. Anyway, once again, if you’re not reviewed here, it doesn’t mean I didn’t love your zine—I’m just trying to review more people who haven’t been reviewed here before.
Amber Previewed (2002)
available from Yul Tolbert, PO Box 02222, Detroit MI 48202-9998 USA for free with an age statement (but send a stamp or two);
on the cover: a crazily foreshortened view of a woman’s foot; she has long toenails and is crushing tiny people and cars
inside: cartoons of a black woman with bare, inflated breasts towering over skyscrapers; she displays the soles of her feet, dirty with crushed people; she displays a long fingernail, on which are impaled three people; she uses her long thumbnail and long fingernail as tongs to eat a tiny person; and so on
overall: Long toenails are not my thing at all; neither are long fingernails, women’s breasts, or giantesses. So there isn’t much here for me beyond the style and the idea of the comic itself. The drawing is crisp and spare and distinctive. Some frames are so minimal they’re abstract. As for the idea behind the comic, I can’t take my eyes away from it, even though it’s so unerotic.
Chairmen of the Bored #5150 (2003?)
available from Colin Scholl P-84196, B2-B4-23, or C. Knowles K-91158, B2-B4-27, or Kenneth Shaw K-58396, B2-B4-29, Folsom State Prison, Box 715071, Represa, CA 95671 USA; no price listed (trade?)
inside: a mix of comics, thoughts, and skits; or as they describe it, “punkrock, cartoons, socialism… free think say what you want no more t.v… eeekk! ook!! arnold!. bbeek!! main-stream anything is bad for everyone.”
quote: (How can you threaten me in prison with being taken to another part of the prison that you yourself vilify? Dont they know that I dont care?) In here, the filth and “creepy crawlies” no longer bother me. Its gotten to the point where I talk to the little ‘mouse’ every night who visits me. Making differences in everything are the things of which we speak. Ha!
Detrimental Information #4 (2003?)
available from John & Luke, PO Box 252, Bemidji, MN 56619 USA; for $1 or trade; firstname.lastname@example.org
subtitle: what goes down must come up
on the cover: a bisected elephant peeing
inside: simple, thoughty, hand-lettered stories of everyday life, illustrated non sequiturally with blobby, grimacey naked men, pooping, peeing, puking, playing with dismembered people, and putting their feet and heads into butts; also, pigs, elephants, dinosaurs, birds, dogs, and so on
quote: My little craft project was on the floor and I felt like an asshole. No, an asshole has a place and a function. I was some sort of disease. An ill feeling. A speck of vomit. Sickness. Yes, something was wrong with me on a personal level.
overall: hilarious! brilliant!
available from the Hemingway Western Studies Center
(http://www.boisestate.edu/hemingway/series.htm or 1-800-992-8398) for $19.95 + shipping
what it is: a facsimile of the guest book for the show “Some Zines” held at the University of Idaho—complete with attached penholder, ballpoint pen, an anonymous flyer condemning the show, and a box to store it all in
inside: signatures and comments of the guests—some funny, some stupid, most misspelled
quote: What one witnesses is not pleasant, but strong propaganda for things bizarre, disjointed, violent, queer and slapping down the human dignity. … This should result in Mr. Trusky [the curator] being vocally abused, stabbed to death, and turned into a queer, for this is what he likes … . —anonymous
another quote: Is this the way that Idaho’s money is spent? Know wonder Amermica’s youth is such an egg-femi-nazist nation!!! —anonymous
another quote: Cool! It’s neat to see so many people take publishing into their own hands. One of the sickest ‘zines is Presto Press/Just Family. Haven’t those people ever heard of the population explosion, limited resources & environmental degradation due to too many people?? There sure are a lotta different ways to look at life aren’t there? —Kathe Whitacre
overall: There sure are, Kathe.
Poemas del adivino by Marcelo Saraceno (2003)
available from Marcelo Saraceno, Arenales 2268, (1870) Avellaneda, Buenos Aires ARGENTINA; inquire for details: email@example.com
on the cover: a cat-person with a six-pointed star on its hand; a crescent moon above clouds
inside: short wistful poems in Spanish
quote: la primera nieve / cubre la rivera / y la copa de los árboles // el río / deja huellas / de incensio / a su paso / y el solitario muelle / aún resiste … (“Fin de otoño”) [the first snow / covers the brook / and the crowns of the trees // the river leaves footprints / of incense / in its path / and the comfortable recluse / still withstands … (“End of autumn”)]
Resident Alien #2 (2003)
available from AJC, 1810 Sealy, Galveston, TX 77550; USA for $2; firstname.lastname@example.org
subtitle: loving the alien
on the cover: an alien with “un nopal pintado en la cara” [a prickly pear cactus painted on its face]
inside: an “antimanifesto” defending the last issue of his zine; the stories of a genealogical roadtrip through Texas and of being hit on by a “Spanish groupie” in a gay bar; a “barrio diccionario”; some cartoons
overall: A lot of potential, but this guy’s been in school too long. A piece of solid descriptive writing will be followed by mushy poetical flights or theory-inspired musings. (I can recognize it, ‘cause I’m so often guilty of it.)
quote 1: This is the hill country, the part of Texas that I love. This is tiny towns whose main streets are peppered with little bungalows and glass fronted “downtowns.” Long, winding roads flanked by oak and pecan trees covered in kudzu make for some amazing vistas. … We find the church designed by his great-great-uncle, the architect. We pull off and go see this man’s name on a historical marker.
Next to the church is a graveyard. Tall and coltish he kicks through the ankle-high grass. He’s searching the headstones looking for familiar names. His T-shirt sleeves are rolled up against the heat of the day. It’s not even noon so the sun has yet to reach its impossibly high perch in the sky, and it will be many long hours until it comes down from there.
quote 2: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Our histories are moving away from us at the speed of life. The roads we travel are two ways: coming and going. Are the objects of our lives, the memories of our respective pasts really closer than they appear?
Thought Bombs #20 (May 2003)
available from Anthony Rayson c/o South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, PO Box 721, Homewood, IL 60430 USA; for $2; free to prisoners
on the cover: a TV screen says Obey Your Master
inside: rants against the Iraq invasion, religion, prisons, and the deadness of U.S. culture; an article on being arrested at a peace rally; anti-war lyrics; text of a speech given at a local rally; cartoons
quote: The blood of the murdered is splattered on you too because you didn’t do a damned thing to stop it! May your hoped-for afterlife consist of the screaming-in-your-ear sound of tortured murder victims, done so wrong by those you’ve supported by your gutless acquiescence and abject poverty of an existence!
overall: An ideologue of despair. Not that I blame him. It’s all true. The U.S. is monstrous. But so much of what passes for anarchism is just lashing out. Violent tantrums. Reading a zine like this is almost as disheartening as listening to a George Bush speech. (When I could be doing something constructive.)
Thoughtworm Number 10 (June 2003)
available from Sean Stewart, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls, TX 76302 USA; for $2 cash;
on the cover: a winsome silkscreened armadillo
inside: mostly Sean’s journals from this spring; also, reflections on the Texas town where he now lives and some book and zine reviews
quote: Nobody was going to convince me that there was anything beautiful about this area. As we drove home, and the sun was setting, she tried again. “Look, see how the sun is hitting those grasses right now?” At the time, it seemed kind of pathetic to me.
overall: For some reason I found this issue depressing. Not for the content’s sake, though. I think it’s because of the parallels between Sean’s life and mine (recent library school graduates) and our very different responses. Sean is determined to have a positive attitude about his less-than-ideal situation. He’s started working out in a gym. In the face of hostility, he’s publicly protested the Iraq war. He’s meeting people and trying to like the place where he is. I guess I’m trying too (although you won’t catch me in a gym). I love my new job as a reference librarian, but it’s maddening that my net income as a “professional” is now lower than it was as a “paraprofessional”—and I have less free time. But enough about me. Thoughtworm is a very good zine.
Total Annihilation #2 (June 2003)
available from Evan, PO Box 298, Sheffield S10 5XT ENGLAND; for free (but send some IRCs or a good trade); http://www.anarchopunk.free-online. co.uk/bitter.html
on the cover: Evan talks about the bands he’s in and the music he’s heard.
inside: Four pages of music reviews, three pages of zine reviews (in small type, so there’s lots). He reviews stuff from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland, in addition to the UK and US things you’d expect. He gives good descriptions, so you know what you’d be getting, but he doesn’t hold back on the opinion either.
quote: so if you’re the type of punk rocker who likes to read and think about stuff rather than throw pints of lager at bands who talk about politics inbetween songs… then this could well be up your street!
another quote: More punk rock than you can shake a snotty stick at!!
Zine Nation #1. (July 2003)
available from Justin Chatwin, 17 Paton Rd Unit 8, Toronto, ON M6H 1R7 Canada; for $2 (US or Canadian); email@example.com
subtitle: your guide to media retaliation
inside: an interview with cartoonist Chester Brown (Yummy Fur, Underwater, etc.), ziney reprints, posters, and lotsa reviews!
overall: a great new addition to the constellation of review zines (84 pages!)
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
I’ve been depressed. Part of it is the ever-increasing realization that my life-long financial hardships are probably never going to go away. But as some consolation, many of the zines I’ve reviewed for this issue make living with less, and finding creative ways around everyday expenses, sound like both an adventure and a way of stickin’ it to The Man. That sounds nice.
As I type this, our landlord is outside the window fiddle-farting around with a weed whacker, which he has been doing for frickin’ hours. I’m playing a CD louder than I would like to try to drown it all out. Let me fall into that little paradise, chilly autumn nights with nothing to do but lie on the couch, read ghost stories, and listen to sweet music (my top five of the moment: “Não Identificado” by Gal Costa; “Tell Me More and More and Then Some” by Billie Holiday; “I’m Lost” by Carmen McRae; “I Could Have Told You” by Frank Sinatra, and “Bleeding Heart” by Curve).
The Urban Pantheist, Spring 2003
$3, 28 pages
140 A Harvard Ave., #308, Allston, MA 02134; firstname.lastname@example.org
An attractive, informative, very likeable zine. Easily-riled Christians and others of that ilk need not fear; in spite of the title, you’ll find nothing about goddess-worship, magick afoot, or dancing naked under the summer solstice moon. Instead, The Urban Pantheist presents thoughtful, intelligent, even reverential essays on the wonders of nature. This issue features articles on lichen, fungi (including instructions on how to make a mushroom spore print, like the striking cover image), and an explanation of how various animal species became domesticated. Also featured is a fine article, “Wild Austin,” written and beautifully illustrated by Jason Eckhardt, describing local wildlife. The inner cover features a handsome color photo of wood ducks; on the back, a pretty color collage of fungi and lichen. About the only thing I didn’t care for was an attempt at humor, a fake ad for “dog treats in flavors dogs really love!” such as human feces and cadaver; it seemed out of place and jarring in comparison to the respectful tone of the rest of the zine. Editor Jef Taylor writes “as someone who has defined himself a pantheist, I thrill in the non-human, the natural.” It shows in the obvious care he puts into this recommended publication.
Bummers and Gummers, Vol. 4, Issue 11, Spring 2003
24 pages, $2.95 cash or check; free to prisoners; will consider trades
Box 66, Yoncalla, OR 97499
“Specifically crafted for those who just gotta do things their way,” publisher Lokiko Hall’s small newspaper-format publication is “back in print after 6 1/2 years.” The title refers to new-born livestock rejected by their parents requiring human care (“bummers”) and elderly animals also needing TLC (“gummers”), and is indicative of the overall friendly, homey, conversational tone, with Lokiko and her contributors discussing various ways of living simply and doing things for yourself. One article instructs on cheese making, another on how to bribe public officials, and there’s advice on how to get a reliable used car for the least amount of money. Two articles, one on building a brick bread oven, the other about using horses to pull trees into a river to create a habitat for trout, may be just slightly too long for general interest, but are intriguing nonetheless. Lisa Smith contributes an article on an open-air wake and cremation ceremony held by British “travelers” and squatters. The publisher interviews two high school students protesting U.S. policy in Iraq, and how they dealt with the inevitable backlash. Most fascinating was a letter by Kate Forrester Kibuga about her experiences with kinship in Tanzania— as the title says, “The Perils of Polygamy: Wicked Stepmothers Abound in the Hyper-Extended Family.” I have really come to value self-published material that, as the editor says, “breaks away from the pack” and can’t be consumed in 15 minutes or less. Reading this publication gave me a sweet ache that there may be something missing in my life, but that something may not be so hard to find: highly recommended.
Dwelling Portably May 2003
24 pages, $1
P.O. Box 190-L, Philomath, OR 97370-0190
I reviewed this publication a few issues ago, and it’s good to see that it’s now more readable - larger font sizes, standard page layout, plus lots of submissions from many different contributors. There’s tons of low- or no-cost practical information for those “dwelling portably,” whether by choice or circumstance: how to make a stove out of a coffee can; best choices for toilet paper alternatives; DIY dental treatments; foraging vs. gardening, etc. I hope I never need to know this stuff, but it does my heart good to know it’s here. Also several angering stories of self-sufficient homeless persons or people living off the land getting harassed by cops and bureaucracy. Overall, fascinating and strangely uplifting.
Documents from the 21st Century, Issue 1
$3, 33 pages
315 NE Buffalo, Portland, OR 97211
A zine of “comix, photographs, poetry, fiction, art, and other smutty nonsense,” this one fares a bit better than the average contributor-driven endeavor. Sure it’s a wild variation of good, bad, and filler, and most of it’s a little too snarky and jaded to really feel like there’s much heart or anger or passion at stake, but it’s frequently sharp and witty, with some interesting visuals. “Why I Love Ashton Kutcher” by Miss Lady Lay makes an easy target of the flavor of the month (whom I saw referred to somewhere as “The Great American Retard”- presumably more for his TV character than for dating emaciated harpy Demi Moore). Several poetry selections by Amy Squier, dealing with sex, childhood abuse, and adult survivorship, incorporate welcome humor into the heaviness. “Encounter: a fragment” by Craig Perry and photos by Nicole evoke a moody urban decay. The back cover art, a naïve-style drawing by Amelia Santiago of an elderly man posing with an ax behind a seated woman with a liquor bottle, is charmingly strange. “Leslie from Los Angeles” by Charlie Vazquez, about a gay guy badgered into phone sex by a belligerent woman with an incest fantasy, is funny while it lasts, but ultimately doesn’t amount to much. I was most struck by the two well-drawn, surrealistically disturbing, but too short comics by editor Superfrida, “An Odd Dream” and particularly “Greyhound to Diaperville.” A worthy output for a first issue; contributions are welcome for subsequent issues.
Commies, Fags and Hippies, # Two
$3, 24 pages
Mel and Teri Kelly
C/O Poste Restante, Wellington, New Zealand; email@example.com
The provocative title and cover image (an over-used publicity still from the film Baise Moi of a woman in a slinky little dress aiming a gun at the head of a man on all fours) promise more than this slight project delivers. Ostensibly lesbian empowerment by two “charismatic iconoclasts your mother warned you about,” it’s all a bit same old, same old: short anti-bourgeois, anti-work, “being yr own person” essays, some lesbian sex poetry, etc. On the plus side: “Manhater,” a short, sharp reminiscence by Velvet about her days as a dominatrix. On the minus side: a randomly inserted photo of a little person prostitute (why? mere shock value? are they pro or con?), and a two-page story/ad in which the editors write “give us a piece of clothing and we’ll punk it, as it should be.” Any irony here in that this completely undermines the punk ethos of DIY? And why would writers seemingly striving towards radical feminism still feel inclined to put Sid Vicious’ idiotic mug in their pages-this is iconoclasm? Worst of all is the smug, self-congratulatory tone of superiority adopted by the editors: if you’re going to position yourself as so righteously radical, at least publish a zine that’s not the same as a hundred others!
1800 Ocean Pkwy. #B-12
Brooklyn, NY 11223
Hey, look at this, would ya? Another manila envelope full of zines to review. So let’s not waste any more valuable time or space, but get right down to cases...
I had a suspicion I’d like this new zine when I saw “Outhouse Publications” as the return address on the envelope. It’s issue #1 of Bob—the editor’s name is Bob, you see, making for a fairly appropriate title.
And what makes another new addition to zinedom special? Check this out: Bob came out of college, stayed on the straight & narrow, landed a wage-slave job, and moved on up through Corporate America. The American Dream, you think, right? Well, Bob begs to differ, and has started up this zine to demonstrate how much of a fantasy that is. (Some of us have already discovered that, but it’s still wonderful to see new names on the club roster!) Anyway, the premiere issue delves into such areas as the cult of e-Bay, the fairytale of college education, and Britney as Pepsi whore.
Don’t even try to tell me that you aren’t already drooling at the prospect of reading this zine for yourself. So rush $1.50 to Bob Sheairs, 30 Locust Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108 (trades: perhaps - he’s still thinking about this) and get on the bandwagon.
Irony is Dead, shouts the cover of this new comix zine. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but this cryptic comic could well make you sit back and think about things—which is a good thing, by the way. I myself, being only able to manage pathetic stick figures, have always been insanely jealous of anyone who can actually draw. So between the mysterious comics and my jealousy of anyone who can produce art, I recommend the $2/trade deal, and you should contact Chelsea Beck right away. P.O. Box 139, Tivoli, NY 12583. She does warn that this address is subject to change, so you can also contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t look now, but here’s the good stuff. If you’ve never seen or heard of Sugar Needle, then you’re in for a treat. A nice, sticky sweet treat! This is a zine devoted to candy—and where is the human being who could resist something like this, I demand to know. Issue #23 includes Freekee Soda (one of those fizzy things you drop in water) from Iceland, licorice from Italy, caramels from Australia, a variety of different sugar packets...and more!
Where does it all end? Who cares, ‘cause once you’ve been injected with the sugar needle, all you want is more, more, more, and the dentist be damned! This issue came from co-editor Corina Fastwolf, P.O. Box 300152, Minneapolis, MN 55403. $1 plus first-class stamp, but you can also trade good zines or interesting candies.
Twenty-Eight Pages Loving-ly Bound with Twine has been getting around since the first issue came out. When someone goes to the length of literally binding each individual issue with string, well, you can’t just ignore whatever awaits between the covers. Issue #7 features Christoph’s journal kept during a weekend Buddhist retreat. Personally, what I found most fascinating was the letter he wrote to the folks at Deer Park concerning their “Half Pint” bottles of water; he wondered why they couldn’t just be labeled “One Cup,” since a cup is half of a pint. (What he got in reply was a typical corporate non-answer, thanking him for his interest in the product, but not explaining anything.) You can subscribe for a dozen issues ($18), six issues ($10) or three for $5. A single issue goes for $2/trade from Christoph Meyer, P.O. Box 106, Danville, OH 43014.
The Whirligig is a litzine. So when you’re finished reading all the ranting and raving everywhere else, you can settle down with this and relax for a while. The contents are divided into two sections: fiction and poetry. Of course, when you’re feeling inspired, submissions are always welcome. But in the meanwhile, three dollars American gets you the latest issue of this semi-annual zine (#7 has an electric pink cover that’s just the sort of thing I look for when I’m putting my own projects together!) from Frank Marcopolos, 4809 Avenue N (#117), Brooklyn, NY 11234.
The title of Psychedelic Dressing Room was all it took for me to sit up and take notice. You don’t run across the word “psychedelic” much anymore. The zine is actually a forum for unknown musicians to print their work, certainly an interesting idea and fairly unique even in the world of zines. So, you’re a bit of a musician and you could stand the recognition? Send $2 for an issue, and of course submissions are always welcome, to Clara Brasseur, P.O. Box 1043, State College, PA 16804.
Finally out of me this time, there’s Recluse Zine. It’s not that I put it off for last, it’s just that I kept trying to think of what to write about the darn thing. It’s mainly a music zine, with some political opinionating thrown in here and there. Music zines are always a problem for me, since I’m a complete alien to the current scene; as far as I’m concerned, the music scene ended when the Beatles broke up in the spring of 1970. But I won’t put down a music-oriented zine for that reason. Incidentally, the back cover of issue #9 lists classified ads—several of these guys ought to check out Psychedelic Dressing Room. Anyway, see for yourself. A single issue goes for $1.25 from the people at Recluse Zine, P.O. Box 307663, Columbus, OH 43230.
c/o SLC Zine Library, 210 E 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Introductions are hard to write. I never know what I should say. Should I tell you about my summer vacation or what I will be doing this winter? I went to England and I will be graduating in December. How about I just mention that I work for the Salt Lake City Public Library where they pay me to read zines. You can make a living by reading zines, I swear. E-mail me email@example.com
Mr. Peebody’s Soiled Trousers and Other Delights #18-
Isn’t it odd how some songs, movies, or zines bring to mind certain memories or moods? I remember exactly where I was when I first read Mr. because it was in the first pile of zines I ever read. I often wonder if my love affair with zines would have been different if Jay’s wonderful diary zine hadn’t been included in those first few zines. But enough about me, this zine is such a fun read about Jay’s life in Hollywood with his girlfriend Cherry. As stupid and clichéd as this sounds, Jay’s zine is just so real that I can’t put it down. I want to hear about the fact that he watches American football and how he likes Morrissey and how in love he is with his girlfriend. Plus, he hates the Lakers and lives in LA, which I find to be a good character recommendation, as the Lakers are pure evil.
Send $2.00 to Jason Koivu, PO Box 931333, Los Angeles, CA 90093
And the Survey Says!
Everybody loves The Feud! Another great zine put out by Jay (see previous review) about the statistical facts revolving around zinesters. Jay asked a hundred zinesters a variety of questions and then compiled them in a fun Family Feud inspired zine. One can learn all sorts of amazing facts, like that 39 people polled felt that zinesters should own 2 staplers. Or that some zinesters were confused about the difference between a state and a country. How cool are zines about zinesters? Survey Says - very cool.
Send $1.00 to Jason Koivu, PO Box 931333, Los Angeles, CA 90093.
Chicago Soccer FansAddicts
Most people know I love soccer. I love it in that kind of geek way which means I talk about it endlessly and by the time I get around to pontificating about the group stages of the Champions League people are desperate to make me stop. I tend to focus on English soccer, but this snazzy newsletter is devoted to the growing American soccer scene, which I know less about. I was happy to read that the Major Indoor Soccer League has given up the freakish scoring system where a goal can be worth more than one point, because that is just wrong. There is also a cool article about someone who travels a long distance to see an international game played in Seattle. Funnily enough, I did the same thing this summer, so I can relate to the obsessive quality in the article. If you know what the Lamar Hunt US Open is, then this is the zine for you.
Send $1.00 to Steve “Pudgy” De Rose, 4821 W. Fletcher St. #2, Chicago, IL 60641-5113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Low Hug #9
There is nothing I hate more then snobs. You know, those people who selfishly hoard cool books and refuse to tell anyone about them, people who only like bands who no one else has ever heard of and refuse to even talk about a band that has “sold out”. Thankfully, A.J. Michel is not a snob and she wants everybody to read, listen, and watch interesting things. This issue of Low Hug is chock full of reviews of pop culture in various forms by a host of great zinesters. The fact that this zine includes a review of a Charles de Lint book and a review of sky watching makes it a perfect read. Plus, the covers are really cool - the one I got had a postcard from Missouri.
Send $3.00 to A.J. Michel. She is moving so email her for her address at email@example.com (see page 4)
Watch the Closing Doors #22 and #23
My favorite thing about zines is the diversity of subject matter. I like that people are interested enough in arcane things to write passionately about them. Fred Argoff loves public transportation. I know a lot of people who like public transportation and who are amused by the experiences that happen to them while getting from here to there, but few are interested in the history of and the whys and wherefores of riding the rails. Fred’s zine is such an interesting mix of obsession and history that I find myself mostly amused and a little concerned with how he spends his free time. Truthfully, I had no idea how interesting public transportation is - it was just something that I kind of took for granted, like the ungrateful child I am. I promise to never do this again.
Send a nice donation to Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Pkwy. #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223
I love this comic!! It describes itself as “odd little picture fictions” which it is. My absolute favorite drawing tells of a horrible fishing accident and the loss of two fingers. The lost fingers are drawn as two little ghosts watching their living comrades. The thought of those two fingers looking out for the other ones is just such a great image. The rest of the mini-comic is equally as wonderful, like the man who bets on horses based on Polaroid pictures or the critically acclaimed playground poems.
Send some cash to Androo Robinson, 2000 NE 42 Ave #303, Portland, OR 97213
I don’t really know how to describe this zine. I must have read it four times and the only descriptive qualities I can come up with are things like: random, stream of consciousness, and George Michael-obsessed. These are all mainly good things, just maybe a little overwhelming in one jam-packed zine. The format is partly hand-written, partly cut-and-paste, and partly hand-illustrated. There are quizzes and a very touching story about a fish suicide. The thing I most enjoyed were the bizarre collection of pop culture references. I mean, Shelly Long is on the cover, which kind of explains it all.
Send $2.00ish to Wendy Baker,
Sometimes all you need is a really good, well-written perzine. idiwa is charming for many reasons. It includes reflections on Celia’s musical choices in years past, thoughts about working in a library, and the tale of a war wound begotten while playing soccer. While in my head I know how much it would suck to break my arm while playing my sport of choice, my heart still thinks it’s sort of cool to be injured in such an obvious way. I mean, you get to tell everyone how hardcore you are. I know that’s petty, but I don’t care. Hmmm…that might have been a bit too revealing, my secret fantasies of being a tough girl instead of a librarian. Anyway, this is everything a great zine should be, heartfelt, insightful, and really well written.
Send $2.00 to C. Perez, 2527 N. California Ave. 1S, Chicago, IL 60647, firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 438
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
Hi there! I’m currently knee-deep in culture shock after my ten-month stay in Ghana, West Africa. Thank goodness for zines and the creative, fun folks who make them. Y’all keep me sane. My zine, Junie in Georgia, is available for $2 an issue or an equitable trade. (P.O. Box 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002)
Beyond Quotidian (BQ-1)
digest, $2, 16 pp.
Birthdays always seemed a lot like New Year’s Eve to me. So much hype, so many preparations, for so much disappointment. Now for me, birthdays are just another day. This is why I can appreciate DB Pedlar’s concept of celebrating birthdays. Sick of the commercialism and lack of true sentiment, he decided to swap birthday dates with his wife. This allowed them to enjoy seasonal situations previously unavailable for their usual parties and add a bit of flair. (As someone born in rural Wisconsin in early March, I can relate. Countless birthday parties were cancelled due to sudden snowstorms or hail.) This year, DB invited his friends to a Surprise Costume Ball where guests were required to bring a ball and dress it in costume. The zine displays the attendees’ balls (heh, heh) and DB offers a subsequent contest. Choose the ball that DB took to his Costume Ball and you win an invitation to his next birthday party. Beyond Quotidian also includes interesting nuggets of birthday history.
Send orders to DB Pedlar, 2572 Cherry Hill Road, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403.
Digest, $2, 18 pp.
It’s difficult to review zine fiction. It’s hard to separate the actual prose from the personal stake in writing, much like creating zines in general, I guess. Because literary tastes vary so much, one person’s masterpiece is another’s mistake. I haven’t had much luck before, and truth be told, I was a little leery when I realized DodoBobo contained only three pieces of fiction and an interview. But actually, it’s pretty good. The first story tells the tale of a not-so-nice guy named Tommy, who gets things wrong and can’t be helped. The story moved along quite nicely, although I felt puzzled by the ending.
The second story, “Complicated Game,” is actually an excerpt from a novel. Two troubled people, a relationship on the verge of collapse, a feminine geologist searching for a crashed meteorite, a man searching for connection. The story made me feel like a voyeur on those uncomfortable private moments between two people who hate each other but pretend not to. Curious and strange, but worth the read.
After an interview with the High Llama’s Sean O’Hagan (I don’t know who this is), the zine ends with the strongest piece, written by Theodore Mangano. In prison, on the edge of a rumbling thunderstorm, a man enjoys the momentary freedom of the storm as it washes over the normal rhythms of captivity. Compelling and satisfying.
Orders can be sent to P.O. Box 57214, Washington, D.C., 20037.
Oversize digest, $2, 16 pp.
Anne is free from the stressful tentacles of grad school, teaching women’s studies at her college and sporting a new Crayola-red hairdo. Her comic panels weave tales of her cats, the final semester of dorm housing, her trip to Dublin, fun personal facts, bad days and work woes. I think Anne is a private person at heart (like me) but paradoxically shares very personal information through her zine. It certainly brings the reader closer to her life and raw emotions. However, at times the storytelling can be a bit cryptic and it’s hard to fully know what’s going on. In any case, what does shine through is that Anne is a tough, funny, sweet gal trying to make sense of those transitory places in life when we want both acknowledgement and anonymity, consistent paychecks and creative freedom, personal growth and easy flow. I’m just happy she shares the search for that balance with us.
To get some Booty, write to Anne Thalheimer at Box 498, 84 Alford Road, Gt. Barrington, MA 01230.
Library Bonnet #6
Digest, $2, 32 pp.
I gotta tell you, Library Bonnet is one of my favorite zines. It deserves some special sparkling, drippy sugar prize from heaven. Complete with catty co-worker and crazy patron antics from library world (as well as Teen Poetry Night), Tommy’s awesome but eerie drawings, Julie’s poetry and slanty personal stories tinged with sadness and regret, lots of small mammals and oodles of other goodies, this zine is sure to make you squirm in delight. It’s twisted and hilarious, silly and pained. Library Bon-net is a spectacular ride though the imaginations of two best friends and librarians.
Order it now. In fact, order all six issues. 1315-I North Tustin Avenue, #259, Orange, CA 92867.
Flossie’s Variety Show #1
Digest, $1 or $2, 16 pp.
Julie, half the pair from Library Bonnet, has created this new zine. Dedicated to “stories, tremblings, girlfights and oh so much more,” FVS contains cut-outs of obscure illustrations paired with bizarre-o contemporary conversations or inner dialogue. What you get is lots of off-kilter poetry and satisfying silliness. There is nothing else like this zine and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so enjoyable. Besides that, it’s so damn funny you’ll wet yourself and not even care until you turn the last page. (Then, of course, you’ll be more than a little embarrassed and angry, but thank god you’re right next to a bathroom!)
Order it when you order those multiple copies of Library Bonnet. 1315-I North Tustin Avenue, #259, Orange, CA 92867.
The Free Press Death Ship, #3
Oversize, Free subscription but donations welcome, 54 pp.
The great thing about this zine is Violet’s sheer commitment to independent publishing, freedom of speech and resistance to the ever-growing threat of censorship and corruption within the media. The opening statement says it all: “The printed word has the power to spread knowledge and inspiration…yet it has equal power to promote cruelty indoctrination and ignorance.” The Free Press Death Ship is a BEAUTIFUL zine filled with pirate- inspired graphics, eye-pleasing fonts and created without the use of computers. Highlights include the ISBN monopoly and mystery, the history of B. Traven (of whose work this zine bears its name), an interview with Fred Woodworth of The Match!, letters and extensive zine reviews. (Zines that include an ISBN or ISSN number, a UPC code or are supported financially by the government or a corporation need not submit copies for review.) The Free Press Death Ship forces me to face those dreary truths I try to wish away—snitch lines, docile media sheep, the U.S.’s oppressive police state and the growing challenges of the independent press. It depresses me to no end, but I don’t mind the wake up call. Violet’s fighting the good fight and we zinesters should be walking the same route while we still can. Articulate, razor-sharp and well-informed. Order at Violet Jones, P. O. Box 55336, Hayward, CA 94545.
224 Moraine St., Brockton MA 02301
Howdy, Debt-heads. My name is Eric Lyden, also known as the jerk who’s delaying this issue by being so slow to get his damn reviews done. It’s not really my fault, because there was a post office mix- up that delayed me getting my zines so I got my deadline extended, but even with the extended deadline I still managed to get my reviews done late. That’s not like me, really, but I’ve got a case of the autumn blahs. Most people get the winter blahs, but for me it’s the whole transition from summer to fall that gets to me. You go from nice, sunny days to cloudy dreariness. Who the Hell needs it? I could go on, but luckily for you I won’t. Oh, and send me your zines because I like trading with folks. I made a desperate plea last issue and it didn’t really work so maybe a less desperate plea will work.
Yul Tolbert’s comics
I’ve got 2 mini comics from Yul here - one is called Whino the Whiny Cat. It’s a parody of the old Saturday Night Live sketch Toonces the Driving Cat except instead of just driving Whino drives and whines. It’s kind of a dated reference, but it’s pretty funny if not classic. The other comic from Yul is the Lost Realm Book, which is a free preview of his fetish fanzine. From what I can gather Yul has a fetish for giant women with bare feet and long toenails. It takes all kinds in this world. I wonder if Yul jerks off to his own drawings? That’d be really weird, but no weirder than having a giant foot fetish, I suppose. Not that there’s anything wrong with being weird, mind you, so long as your weirdness doesn’t infringe on others. Anyhow, Whino is .25 or trade - worth checking out. Lost Realm is free or trade and if it sounds like your cup of tea you may as well check it out. Yul Tolbert, PO Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202-9998; email@example.com; http://timeliketoons.tripod.com.
Your Dick’s Too Short To Fuck with God
OK, now this one is just silly. It features Adam of Adam and Eve fame and...well, the poor bastard had nothing to do before Eve came along so this comic features Adam just wandering around naming things until the snake explains to him the purpose of his penis and...it’s funny, trust me. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Send $1 and one stamp to Ben T. Steckler, PO Box 7273, York, PA 17404. (Ed. – It is funny, even Lux Interior took note of the title. William P. Tandy and I bumped into Ben when the Cramps played Philadelphia. Being the smallest, mostly to make it to the stage, oh, and a little drunk, I writhed through the crowd and tossed one on stage on Ben’s behalf. Lux picked it up, read the title and showed it to the masses. It was a fine moment in Xerography history.)
One of Us #1
This is the “Official zine of the band Vomit Sauce” What do you think the chances are that a band called Vomit Sauce could actually be any good? Yeah, I don’t think so either, but that’s neither here nor there because I’m just here to review the zine. It’s mostly comics with an interview with James Kolchaka thrown in there. Lets see...the first comic is called “3 Pages Going Nowhere” and is funny. Then we have the interview with James Kolchaka, which is only one page, and if you’re a fan it contains nothing you don’t already know and if you’re not a fan you wouldn’t give a shit anyways. One-page interviews don’t really work. Then we have “History of Hitler Mouse” which is five unfunny pages. three pages of it may have been funny, but five are too many. After that is the “Guide to Being a Bad Artist,” which is quite funny and makes up for the last unfunny piece. There are a few more pieces, but the best pieces are the two parts of “Guide to Being a Bad Artist.” Most of the zine is good with the exception of the Hitler Mouse bit. Send a buck or two to Alex Colvin, 585 Isham St. #3a, New York, NY 10034; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spazz Report #2
I reviewed the first issue of this zine last time and I’ve gotta say, I think I liked the first issue better. I don’t have a copy of the first issue handy so I can’t say why. Maybe it’s just one of those “the grass is always greener” type deals. Maybe it’s just me being cranky, I dunno. It’s shorter than the first issue so maybe that’s why - last time there was just more there to read. This zine is mostly lighthearted pieces on Joy’s grade school boyfriends, Joy’s favorite and least favorite words and phrases, some pieces on jealousy and material possessions. Good stuff all around. I enjoyed it. Now that I think about it maybe I do like this issue better than the first. Either way, it’s a damn fine zine. Send $2 or a trade to Joy Todaro, ASC Box #726, Decatur, GA 30030; email@example.com.
PS Oh, I just noticed that the theme of this issue is “emotions.” Yeah, OK, now it makes sense.
Writing About Writing
This here is a pretty clever idea for a per-zine. It’s basically Dann writing about his writing and how his writing has affected his life and…it’s sort of a love letter to the concept of writing. He starts with writing short stories for school assignments done because he had to, then moves on to his weblog, then finally spends the whole second half of the zine talking about zines (which he says he pronounced with a long “i” at first which is something I never quite got - always seemed obvious to me that the word zine came from magazine so...nope, never got it). Anyhow, this is good stuff. Well-written with a good idea behind it. It also sorta got me thinking - Dann got his start writing by doing a weblog in high school and when I was in high school we didn’t even have the Internet (well, I’m sure a form of it existed, but nothing like it is today) so I got to thinking about how my life would have been different/ better if I had the same opportunity he had...hell, it probably would’ve been exactly the same, but it’s something to think about. Anyhow, send $2 or a trade to Dann Berg, 11706 N. 131 St., Scottsdale, AZ 85259; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.derangeddistro.com.
The Offbeat #2
The cover of this one says “We put the maga back in zine”! which is kind of a goofy thing to say, but it made me chuckle for whatever reason. Anyhow, this zine has a lot of good writing on a variety of topics (racism, high school, hardcore dancing, feminism and some other stuff) but it suffers from having a too ziney-looking lay out. You know what I mean? Full of random pictures and clippings and...It’s just too much. All the writing is good, but it always gets on my nerves when zines try too hard to look too ziney. (However, I should point out that unlike a lot of zines of its ilk at least the xeroxed (Ed. - That’s right, keep using it as a verb!) photos are legible.) But it’s free, so if I were you I’d send my address to email@example.com and say “Caitlin, send me a copy of the Offbeat. And include some sort of mailing address in the next issue because just using your e-mail just don’t cut it.”
Let There Be Danger #1
Remember what I said in the last review about zines trying to look too ziney? If you don’t you should seek medical attention because you just read it a minute ago. Anyhow, this zine has the sort of ziney-looking zine layout I like - a few pictures, nothing that gets in the way of the writing or detracts from the writing - simple but effective. And the writing is just good, solid personal zine writings - nothing too Earth-shattering, but all of it’s good to very good - my favorite pieces were the one about dealing with a con artist (which loses points for his overly liberal “It wasn’t the thieves fault for stealing, it was society’s fault for making him steal” take at the end which is just bullshit, really. But that’s neither here nor there...) the piece about staying with a stranger in Indiana while on tour with his band and the story about the time he fell out of a tree. And I just realized that my three favorite pieces comprise half of the zine and there’s nothing bad in the other half of the zine so I think you oughta just send $1 or a trade to Sean Raff, 509 Cutters Mill Ln., Schaumburg, IL 60194; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slug & Lettuce #75
I liked this zine, but I’m sure I’d have like dit a whole lot more if the columnists would’ve just shut the fuck up about the war in Iraq. Most of them were pretty interesting, but there were still too many of them. Of course that’s easy for me to say now that the war is over (for now) and not on everyone’s minds. At the time it was probably like “Well, what are we supposed to write about?” which is certainly true. Aside from the columns, this zine also features plenty of zine, book and music reviews all of which are well-written and honest. It also features plenty of ads, but the thing is free, so what do you expect? Send .60 (for postage) to Slug & Lettuce, PO Box 26632, Richmond, VA 23261-6632; email@example.com.
Christmas Party: A Zeen Novel
I’ll be honest here, I haven’t finished reading this one yet. I’m about half way through with it and I guess that’s enough to write a semi-educated review of it so long as I don’t try to get too fancy. So far I’ve really liked what I’ve read and am eager to finish the thing. At 48 pages it’s a tad short to really be referred to as a novel, but that’s nit-picky detail stuff. And I’m not sure why King Wenclas spells zine as ‘zeen’ and truth be told I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know because I have a feeling the answer would annoy me. So I just won’t ask. Send your $3 to King Wenclas Promotions, PO Box 42077, Philadelphia, PA 19101.
2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303
Portland, OR 97213
Does anyone’s asses out there mind if I get listy on them? Because:
1. Lists are #1.
2. It looks clean.
3. I’m jealous of how Donny Smith does his reviews. Let’s list!
Limited Delivery Area #2
by Vermicious Knid, PO Box 543, Accokeek, MD 20607, digest, $1?, 22 pages
WHY I WISH VERMICIOUS KNID LIVED NEXT DOOR TO ME:
1. He is as cute as a BUTTON! Vermicious is the only white, and only queer, employee at the Domino’s he delivers for. You may wonder how he survives, driving in dangerous neighborhoods - this little, apple-cheeked genius! I just wonder how he escapes being endlessly pinched and kissed. What a doll!
2. He doesn’t whine about having a crappy job. He loves it! Not once is crappiness even implied, throughout stories of customers not tipping, grumpy managers, foul weather. Take it away, VK: “I spend my days peeking into people’s lives. Small children are always thrilled to see me, whether they’re rapidly introducing themselves and all their pets or peering shyly from behind a parent’s leg. Doors are opened by hot men in their underwear. Over time, I develop friendships with my regular customers. I am momentarily welcomed into girlish slumber parties, executive lunches, rowdy football gatherings, and scandalous rendezvous at cheap motels. I love people and THAT is why I really love my job.”
3. He can WRITE, and this involves both ink and eyes. VK sees stories everywhere, and is exactly the kind of friendly, sympathetic soul people love to confess to. A woman tells him about her first slice of pizza (“her face was shining as she remembered it”) and he wants nothing more than to talk to her all day, but soon he is paid and must leave, reflecting that “sometimes the necessary brevity of these meetings seems really strange.” And rather than shutting out depressing scenes of squalor with a sigh of relief that he is not part of them, V stands still and absorbs them. “There are worlds that are so far from my own. Sometimes I see people and think, could that ever be me? What would it take? Is it really all that far away?”
4. He loves his friends. Throughout his zine, pictures of VK and his friends provide short sweet breaks between the (tidy and grammatical) cut-and-paste type. There is the full page ode to Shakira, somehow emitting flames of sexiness while at the same time gazing with boredom down at her prep work. And these other people, smiling from driveways and front doors—are these some of his customers? Is the cute little black kid the same one that brightened V’s day, showing off his tiny muscles and shouting, “Come back always! Bring us pizza!”
5. He is, as he describes himself, a “zinester, traveller, fiddle player, fag, delivery driver, kid”. I think he forgot to mention “smart curious cutie-pie”, but perhaps he had to edit it down.
6. He hook you up with the pizza.
Cairn Free and Baptism River
by Chris Dodge, 2712 Pillsbury #105, Minneapolis, MN 55408, firstname.lastname@example.org, digest, $1?, 24 pages
THINGS CHRIS DODGE KNOWS THAT I WISH I DID:
1. Words like “muliebrity” and “littoral”. Good god, I finally just left the dictionary out. And it’s not just black and white type Chris has at his command—the world of nature is full of animals and plants I’d never heard of, despite also having lived in the northern midwest. Pileated woodpecker, osier dogwood, pine siskin, junco. If I didn’t care, that would be one thing—I found out in college that I have the ability to relinquish whole semesters of information—but it’s way more impressive to be able to identify trees that can guide your way home before dark than lines from 17th century English poetry (although Chris the brainiac can probably do that, too). Imagine what it would be like to head out to the woods and see nature not as a vague backdrop, but as a giant room full of people you know—all their histories, who’s lactose-intolerant and who needs lots of shady privacy. What if you were fluent in NATURE?
2. “It just dawned on me again: nature rules.” Well, we all dig nature, right? If someone asked you “Nature—hot or snot?” you’d probably have to acquiesce—”Yes, nature is nice.” But dammit reading these zines sets you on FIRE. You want to climb and sweat and freeze and SMELL everything, LISTEN to everything, and sleep in a spartan little cabin stocked with beans and rice, far from a single other human but perfectly content to be alone with yourself.
3. Chris knows how to present his topics with simple elegance. Look at these booklets: neat, evenly spaced sentences for proper consideration and digestion, no pictures. No pictures? Then why do I have these magical photos in my head, and how can two sentences show me a two-hour documentary on northern Minnesota in March, or Utah in November? The few people Chris does come in contact with are also aptly illustrated— I can totally hear the waitress’s nasal “Is that okay for ya?” and see the happy little German girl skipping with her parents. These zines are dense with beauty, philosophy, quiet humor, and inspiration—so how can they look so simple and slight? After reading one you immediately crave more— Where else have you gone? What else can I inhale? Quick—give me, tell me, show me!
4. Nature is addictive.
Southern Fried Darling #15
by Amy Mariaskin, 4520D Emerald Forest, Durham, NC 27713, mini, $1.00, trade, or dog paraphernalia, 30 pages
WHY AMY MARIASKIN WILL BE FAMOUS FOREVER:
1. At the age of 22, she writes like a seasoned novelist, poet, essayist. Listen to this: “I was born in autumn and I’m kind of born every autumn when the world shrivels up into its crispest brownish self. I gather my vertebrae together at the base of my spine and crane my neck to feel the first inklings of frost developing along a jaw-jut. If I close my eyes I hear nervous paws, faint whines from dying bees, and a beetle slowly pushing aside damp leaves to burrow into black soil and collapsed mushrooms. Fall is a struggle, an ululation rising from the inform (oh and how many there are). Here is the drama of autumn: the last volcanic sunsets, chiaroscuro. By comparison, spring is a whore, a land of veneer, leading one always with the eyes instead of the nose, the hairs of a forearm. (I had my first kiss in October; my first fuck in March.)”
2. Her topics are eclectic, personal, and fascinating. In this one issue, Amy covers her relationship with Judaism, dogs, problems with body image, breasts, sex, art, books, recipes, and more, and everything is reported with energy and openness. This is the kind of zine that makes me underline passages, like simply touching my pen to someone else’s words will somehow let the perfectly articulated phrase be mine for a second.
3. This is not fair: Amy can draw as well as write. Just from her layout and pen-and- ink illustrations, I can assume that her apartment is cozy and colorful and full of textures, and she probably has about twenty hats and sweaters I’d like to borrow, and when she gives someone a birthday present it is something perfect and one of a kind and probably wrapped so wonderfully they hate to open it. If it wasn’t for her insecurities and modesty, I would hate Amy Mariaskin’s guts (or I would love her in that awful jealous way where you feel helpless and disgusting). The way I’m jealous right now is the good kind, that kicks your butt to write more and better and makes you remember how satisfying it is to confess your problems and analyze them into beautiful words.
Imaginary Life #2: Current Resident
by Krissy, PonyBoy Press, c/o IPRC, 917 SW Oak St #218, Portland OR 97205, email@example.com, mini, $1?, 24 pages
IDEAS I WISH I’D HAD BEFORE KRISSY:
1. Taking old photos of people’s houses and writing stories about them. What a good idea! When I first read this zine, I assumed Krissy had simply transcribed what the house owners had said—interesting, yes, but it didn’t give me much information about Krissy herself. And then I realized: Krissy WAS the descriptions. These are anonymous pictures she collected, then put herself into, living in each house vicariously to capture its spirit. Like the squat brick house whose lawn is littered with trash: “My daughter lives in this house still and I cannot let it go. Good to no one, it stands and I fear any sudden movement, any tumbling of walls or blasting of stones will flatten her, frighten her and fix her in my mind as gone. I stare at this picture and see her sitting on the porch railing, swinging her legs, intent on some small task in her hand. It was on that porch that I sat for weeks that summer and where I still sit, as I stare out at these foreign streets. As long as I am alive she will have a home.”
2. Fabricating entire childhoods and lives. “Imaginary Life” is right – Krissy’s imagination is as limitless as a child’s. I bet she’d be an awesome actress. Of course she’d make a superb novelist. She is the child with olives on her fingers in the kitchen of one old house, the bitter old woman reflecting on a world of bills and loneliness in another. A daughter leaving home, a young woman reveling in her first apartment, first independence, with a war going on.
3. Putting yourself into a scene and not leaving until it is flawlessly captured. Fiction is beyond me. I can report something that actually happened, maybe taking poetic license with some of the details, but when it comes to that immersion into another time or place or person, I flounder. What must it be like to be not one person but any number of people? It’s got to be exhilarating. Good thing Krissy’s imagination is running like water, because there is a whole universe of people’s stories unattached to actual people. Krissy the ventriloquist. Krissy the medium! With a mind like that, you know this isn’t the end of it-she’s got several other projects available as well. But this one is my favorite, and she says if you send her house pictures she’ll work on another one...
1573 N. Milwaukee Ave, #403
Chicago, IL 60622
My ninth issue of SemiBold is ready to order. If you feel like reading about cute kittens or broken arms or summer travels, this is for you. The kittens are REALLY cute. It's $2, from the address above.
Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats
I was fully prepared not to like this, because I’m not a big fan of the short fiction-chapbook thing, for the most part. But I stand corrected, because I liked each and every one of the five stories in here - some more than others, but I did like all of them, and none of them left me thinking, “Well, what was the point of that?” I think my favorite was “joanierules.bloggermax.com”, by Nick Mamatas, which re-imagines Joan of Arc as a modern-day New York City girl called by God to drive the English from France, and we see her metamorphosis via her weblog. It’s very funny, and also kind of poignant, as I can imagine myself in a similar type of situation, and being completely overwhelmed by it all.
My other favorite is “Gramercy Park” by Haddayr Copley-Woods. In this story, a young woman is able to turn to stone at will, which initially saves her from the physical and emotional pain of abuse. Eventually, inspired by the statue of Ghandi in Union Square, she turns herself into a statue in Gramercy Park and becomes a distant observer of the world as time goes by. Quiet and poetic and beautiful.
50 pages, digest size.
Write to: Kristin Livdahl/Alan DeNiro
$5.50 postpaid in the US; $6.00 in Canada and Mexico; $5.50 world
PO Box 28701, St. Paul, MN 55128
You can order via mail or on the website.
Rent: An Injustice, by I.R. Ybarra
Reading this was very frustrating for me. I guess I can be of two minds about it and let it stay that way, even though I don’t like that. This pamphlet is a 24-page rant on the evils of rent and landlords. Many excellent points are made, questioning why residents should pay rent when the property owner has paid off their mortgage and makes no improvements to the building. Why should residents provide a comfortable income for someone who provides no service to them? Why should they be at the mercy of the landlord’s ability to evict them at any time for any cause, or be susceptible to inspection at any time? And what should tenants do when a property owner decides to sell their building with no warning? The idea here is that this relationship is always unequal and equivalent to blackmail. I agree with some of these points, and I’m sure a lot of landlords act in this way; but there are so many sweeping generalizations in here that it kind of puts me off a bit. I have had good landlords and bad landlords. The worst were not aggressively bad, but the buildings suffered from kind of a benign neglect. I’m sure I’ve been quite lucky in that respect. But sometimes tenants can be just as shitty as landlords, by not taking care of their homes or having respect for their fellow residents. This pamphlet would have you believe that all landlords are greasy, beer-gutted fat guys who smoke cheap cigars, or ruthless yuppies who want to make money off poor people in the city and then hide in the suburbs. I know both of these landlords exist. And yes, it sucks that in our economy there are so many people who will never be able to scrape together enough money for down payments and taxes and all the other expenses that would allow us to purchase a home of our own (myself included). Despite my hesitancy to totally agree with everything stated here, it is well-written and makes its points very strongly.
24 pages, digest size.
There’s no price or mailing address info included with this, but since it’s published by The Match! I would imagine you could order it from Fred Woodworth at this address:
PO Box 3012, Tucson, AZ, 85702
Ingleside News #11
The most impressive thing about this zine is that IsaBelle writes it all in French, then translates the entire thing into English and publishes it in both languages. And it’s no lightweight zine, either: 44 pages! The bulk of this issue details her planned move to Vancouver and the trials and tribulations involved. And after all that, she ended up moving back to Quebec in a short time. Apparently this will be the topic of the next issue, so I’m very curious to see what happened. She obviously loves Vancouver and was very much looking forward to living there, so something serious must have happened to bring her back. Her descriptions of Vancouver make me want to visit, it sounds like a fantastic place. There are lots of journal entries and some zine reviews, too.
44 pages, 1/2 legal size. $2 per issue in US and Canada, $4 International.
Write to: IsaBelle Bourret
5591 St-Laurent, Levis QC G6V 3V6 Canada
(the website is bilingual too!)
Sex, Death & Ronald MacDonald Vol. 3, #22
This is billed as the “All Flash Fiction Issue,” so I had to go find out what “Flash Fiction” was (short-short stories, usually 500-2,000 words). Most of the stories here are on the odd side. Their very shortness leaves a lot of blanks for the reader to fill in if they so desire. Some are serious, some are silly. Might be worth reading if you’re interested in this genre.
12 pages, full size. No price listed, I’d say it’s worth $1 or a couple stamps.
Also available from the same address:
Burn in Hell, Buddy (The Incredibly True Adventures of a Kid and His Starship!)
It’s a 16-page mini perzine with little slice of life stories, $1 for issues
#1 and #2.
Write to: Vermicious Knid
Lupine Ladies Press
PO Box 543, Accokeek, MD 20607
Shouting at the Postman #50
This is their “Cult Figure of the Year” issue, featuring a found photo of a man dubbed “Damien.” Copies of this photo were sent all around the world to their mail-art/collage compatriots, and this issue is a compilation of these different interpretations. The back cover has a listing of mail art contacts.
16 pages, digest size. 1 US stamp, 2 IRCs, or a cool trade item.
Write to: Ken Miller
ASKAlice Art Exchange Net
PO Box 101, Newtown, PA 18940-0101
Shot By a Ray Gun #6: Road Signs
This is a 24-page spiral bound mini of illustrations that Billy has done for other zines, like Thoughtworm and our own Xerography Debt.
PO Box 542, N. Olmstead, OH 44070
PO Box 2235, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
EMBUDAGONN108 / TRUCK VAN RENTAL
(Monobrain / de Hondenkoekjesfabriek / PO Box 68 / 7700AB Dedemsvaart / NETHERLANDS)
This is an art brut collaboration between Koh Kasahara of Japan and Monobrain of Holland. I don’t mind telling you that this is some weird-ass shit. But if you’re familiar with the work of either, you already know that. Crazy jam drawings of nightmarish creatures and other randomness, most of which are vaguely sexual and/or violent. This also comes with a CD that contains 40 minutes of noise by Embudagonn108 (Kasahara) and Truck van Rental (Monobrain). All of this comes enclosed in a cool full-color package, too. Upcoming projects from Monobrain include collaborations with Andy Nukes and Marcel Herms. If all of this sounds good to you, I’d definitely recommend checking out his catalog at www.angelfire.com/stars3/fcknbstrds/deHONDENKOEKJESFABRIEK.html (lots more stuff available).
($2.00 ppd from Kathy Moseley / 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave., #403 / Chicago, IL / 60622 USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is the first issue of Semi-Bold that I’d read, but now I’m hooked. I haven’t read that many perzines lately, so it was great to dig into this one. Kathy’s memory must be great because these excerpts from her life are rich with clear details. In other words, she knows how to tell a story. In this issue she talks about breaking her elbow (my pain tolerance is low, so my sympathy for her is great), unexpected kittens (born of a stray she took in), her trip to California and a scary night when the cops showed up across the street. These stories are fun to read and I really like how most of them tie in to one another. Add to that a couple pages of reviews, a clean, attractive layout (with lots of great photos) and a cover by Delaine and you’ve got one nice package.
ZINE WORLD #19
($4.00 US/$5.00 CAN, MEX/$6.00 elsewhere, all ppd. Cash, stamps or money order payable to “Jerianne” - no checks - from PO Box 330156 / Murfreesboro, TN / 37133-0156 USA. Web: www.undergroundpress.org)
Zine World is an amazing production. I wish it came out more frequently, but each issue is worth the wait. This one’s got 21 magazine-size pages of reviews covering zines of all stripes. That’s over 130 reviews and while that’s an important aspect of this zine, an equally important aspect is the news coverage. Zine World investigates and collects relevant information on the US government, free speech issues, censorship in our public school system, so on and so forth. And if you think these issues don’t have anything to do with your little publication, you couldn’t be more wrong. Some of the more interesting pieces deal with the bullshit the Bush administration has fed us (based on mainstream and not-mainstream reportage); the flaccid state of journalism; elementary, junior high and high school students punished (from suspension to jail time) for offenses such as writing poetry and brandishing a plastic knife from the cafeteria; and Clear Channel’s connection to pro-war rallies. There’s lots more in the issue, too, such as several pages of interesting letters, thoughtful columns and many other resources. Highly recommended.
JESSICA OF THE SCHOOLYARD: JESSICA IN PARADISE
($3.00 ppd from Karl Wills / The ComicBook Factory / PO Box 105 278 / Auckland Central / NEW ZEALAND 1030. Web: www.comicbookfactory.net)
You may have seen Karl Wills’ work in Hate or the most recent Dirty Stories, to name just a couple of places. This attractive series of mini-comics stars badass Jessica who attends a proper girls’ school (uniforms and everything). Apparently she’s quite the terror and seems to thrive on mayhem and abuse (giving, not receiving, you understand). She’s tough, aloof and sports a lower body R. Crumb would die for. At eight full-page panels, this mini’s not long on content, but what’s there is worth your while. Wills draws in an appealing clear-line sort of style (think Tintin) and the artwork is lovely. Add to that the production values – nice paper stock, color covers and an inserted trading card – and you’ve got something worth tracking down. If you’re not convinced, go to the website and watch some of his animated shorts while you make up your mind.
ATTEMPTED NOT KNOWN #8
($2.00 + 2 stamps from Peter Conrad / PO Box 64522 / Sunnyvale, CA / 94088 USA. Web: www.peterconrad.com)
There was a time when I had mixed feelings about Peter Conrad’s work, but he just gets better and better all the time – that is, he consistently creates more and more that impresses me and holds my attention. This issue of ANK is a solid collection of interesting comics and showcases several different drawing styles (that versatility is one of the impressive things about his work). I like every piece in this issue, but my two favorites are about sledding and remembering a friend who’s passed on (this one is framed cleverly and is a good story to boot). If you haven’t read Peter’s comics in a while, I recommend checking this out.
($5.00 from Sean Bieri / 12033 Lumpkin / Hamtramck, MI / 48212 USA. Age Statement Required. Smut Peddler website:
As you may have guessed, Smut Peddler is an anthology of sex comics. Its 52 pages contain a pretty diverse selection (in 13 stories) of approaches, styles and kinks. As I see it, there are two standout stories in this collection. The first is “Grazie” by Carla Speed McNeil, which begins with hot sex but really gets going when the characters start an actual conversation. The second standout is Sean Bieri’s “When You Leave the Room”, which is low-key and sweet and manages to be engaging even though there’s no nudity until the last panel (c’mon, I had to say it; it’s a sex book!). In my opinion, these two are the best-looking pieces in the book, but they’re also well-written and I like ‘em because they each present persuasive – and quite different – arguments for what’s so great about sex. Other stories I quite enjoyed are by David Stanley and Vince Sneed & John Peters. But, hey, that’s not all. There’s lots more by Neil Kleid, J. Kevin Carrier & Karen O’Donnell, Layla Lawlor, mpMann and others. Smut Peddler, by the way, was produced co-op style. So, while Bieri’s contact info is above (he sent the review copy), I believe you can also order from the other contributors, perhaps from their websites or at conventions and such.
TAKE YOUR LICKS!
($1.50 + a stamp from Ben T. Steckler / PO Box 7273 / York, PA / 17404 USA. Web: www.geocities.com/bent4toons)
I’m never quite sure what to expect from a Ben Steckler comic. Just when I think it’s not really going anywhere, it turns around and smacks me in the face (you’ll be hearing from my lawyer, Steckler). In this, his latest Jack Chick-inspired book, Ben has created an anti-tract. The agnostic, thinking person’s message is subtle, but packs a wallop. Oh, did I mention that this is accomplished through a parody of those old Tootsie Pops commercials (“How many licks...”)? What can I say, BenT has done it again.
HORSE! & RIDER #1
($1.50 from David King,
This is an odd little comic by David King. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The whole package owes a lot of inspiration to clean-cut 1950s nostalgia. It’s not about nostalgia – no, it’s about a filthy pie thief – but the design is brimming with it. I mean, come on, look at that cover! The interior drawings are reminiscent of old advertising art, and I mean that in a good way. So, anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the comic’s about a degenerate pie thief (don’t let the snappy threads fool you) who disappoints his parents, loses his girl and befriends an inanimate object, all in a vaguely Ware-ian fashion. Come to think of it, the absurdity of it also brings to mind Mr. Show. Or maybe that’s just me. The point is it’s worth checking out. As a matter of fact, I look forward to seeing more from Mr. King.
1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464 Chicago, IL 60622
Since 1998 when I first began to publish Meniscus, zines have saved my sanity and my life more times than I can count. Whether it was the insightful, relevant stories in someone else’s publication, or simply the relief of having a zine of my own in which to sort out my thoughts, I have found repeated salvation in the underground press. And I am delighted to be a part of XD, with the opportunity to help other people connect with the subterranean world of art and experience. Here is some of that world.
The Lori Bucher Newsletter
Digest, 16pp. (No price, but I think the whole point is to trade)
Lori Bucher, PO Box 857, Indianhead, MD
1468 Newhall Pkwy., Concord, CA 94521
The Lori Bucher Newsletter is a strange cross-pollination of a personal zine and a holiday letter-to-the-family. This is not her first Newsletter, but it is the first she’s shared with the public (a decision probably made after her zine was completed.) As such, the result is somewhat more personal than a perzine, and far less narrative – a philosophical collage of Lori’s state of mind, intended to be read by those closest to her. She opens with a direct address to them, assuring her loved ones that, despite any signs to the contrary, she is doing okay. From there, Lori waxes intellectual on her feelings, fears, and station in life, and reprints cartoons, excerpts from Hakim Bey, and other works that have inspired or moved her. One can only imagine how this comes across to the family who knows her, but as a stranger I was sort of intrigued. Lori’s thoughts are intelligent, even if not organized into a convenient format for an audience, and her reprinted selections are interesting. After a recent relocation and subsequent malaise, Lori opted to use her newsletter as a way to make human contact, so share your zine with her. Revive that old pen pal tradition!
Digest, 24pp. $1 US, $2 elsewhere
by Malady K., c/o IPRC
917 SW Oak #218, Portland, OR 97207
This comic troubled me, somehow. Ostensibly, it’s the story of a massage therapist’s attempt to secure regular employment in a community overrun with massage therapists. But it plays out like Waiting for Godot or Stranger than Paradise; she sort of looks for work and a bunch of little non-occurrences are documented, and then she meets up with some friends from massage therapist school, and then she goes home to think, which more or less brings the story full circle. And the illustrations are mostly very static, too – pictures of objects, or of people being still. As I read Malady, I began to wonder whether the author had a strange, sedentary quality that prevented her success, or if it was something external that trapped her in a state of inactivity. There was an underlying creepiness to this question that nagged at me long after I had finished the comic. Overall, I found myself moved, more than I had expected. Then again, when I lived in Portland, I wrote a whole novel about nothing happening. Maybe it’s something in the water, but I totally felt for her.
7”x8½” 24pp. $1
c/o IPRC, 917 SW Oak St., Portland, OR 97205
This is a queerzine from Portland with several contributors, but mostly it was created by Brendon and Five. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Brendon is my ex-boyfriend – although I always called him Ben, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. In any case, I don’t think our scandalous past will affect my objectivity).
Okay, here we go. Brendon is gay. Boy, is he gay! I mean, really gay! A little too gay for me, to be honest, a little too flamboyant, as they say, but I love him for that. And also I love him for the fact that the intro to Fagazine #1 is called “All Your Fucking Boozing and Queer As Folking is Killing Everything That Was Remotely Cool About Queer Culture” by Brendon Fucking Precious Morrill.
What follows is a pretty brutal celebration of queerness and unabashed raging at the sky, the sort of righteous fury that can bring energy back to those who have lost it. Brendon pulls no punches, and his punk heart finds a lot of sympathy in this reader. Five, and contributor Sissyboy Garcia, on the other hand, are mired in the kind of semantic political sensitivity that always strikes me as an obstacle – counterproductive and counterrevolutionary. I realize this comment will win me no friends, and I admit: I, as a person, say lots of offensive things, and I refuse to get all apologetic about it. This too can be an obstacle, but at least my audience always knows exactly what I mean and how I feel. If I am going to be criticized, the last thing in the world I want is to have my critics sugarcoat what they say. So I will criticize, here, and also make a concession.
There are times when I was reading an article in Fagazine and I just hated the way it was written. It made me think of the carefully-chosen words of men in cardigans, with little glasses and ponytails. I just have no patience for tact or sensitivity. But, I agreed with a lot of the sentiments, even when the words pissed me off, and I understand that queer culture is dangerous territory, full of delicate feelings and verbal landmines. Learning how to express yourself under these conditions is no easy task, particularly if you actually want people to listen to you. And the voices here definitely want to be heard. Some of them are still figuring out how – and Brendon, of course, just says exactly what he wants. A man after my own heart, who comes with many fashion accessories.
Fagazine promises to be an interesting venture. Their debut suffered from all the chaos that plagues most first zine issues, especially the collaborative efforts, but it’s still a compelling read. I can’t wait to see what happens next time.
approx. ¼ size, 42pp. $2 US, $3 elsewhere
83½ Howell St. Apt 2, Rochester, NY 14607
I think I love this zine. It’s my first issue of coldhandsdeadheart and I have nothing to compare it with, but this one is a really satisfying confection. For the first few pages, I didn’t know how to read it – a more or less unbroken stream of consciousness continues on the left facing pages, framed in ink and underscored by a cryptic phrase presented without spaces or explanation. The right facing pages feature beautiful illustrations with more text, casting the zine somewhere between poetry, Lovecraft, and skater tags. Eventually I realized that I could open coldhandsdeadheart anyplace and enjoy the picture, read the text, then move forward or backward at my own discretion. Once I was freed from my expectations of narrative direction, I really appreciated the rhythm built into this zine, and the casual otherworldliness of the drawings. This is a title I would definitely seek out again.
Korea, So Far and Japan, So Far
¼ size, the long way, each 8pp. including covers
no price (it’s a brief travelzine for trade)
1837 8th Ave., Oakland, CA 94606
Any zinester worth his salt knows that the most important part of traveling is the documentation. Korea, So Far covers his childhood impressions of Korea based on second-hand information, some fellow travelers he meets when he finally gets to that country himself, and experiences at a Korean anarchist gathering (it’s gotta be far more interesting than spending time in crappy souvenir shops).
Japan, So Far is a little different, since Dan has been there before, and he discusses the way he has inadvertently developed a travel routine when he visits that country. He also writes about the war, and other distractions that led him to that moment, in Japan, making this zine. Each of these is an interesting snapshot of a point on a journey, preserved for himself and anyone he meets along the way.
Planet Named Desire #9
Digest, 20pp., $2
PO Box 40321, Tucson, AZ 85717-0321
Essentially four illustrated fables, not entirely traditional but very much informed by the folksy wisdom we learned whilst sitting at Aesop’s knee. There is a cautionary story about greed, and another that has a stop-and-smell-the-roses quality with a background lesson about destiny and purpose. The themes are classic, and most of the storytelling is, as well. Behind it all is an appreciation for the preciousness of life, and familiar ideas that are in danger of being cliché manage to escape that fate, by virtue of their sincerity (the exception, for me, was the aforementioned greed story, which was not bad but I have heard it a hundred times before). The artwork is fairly skilful, and lends itself well to the material (at times it reminds me of Big Questions, another high-minded comic with drawings that wander in and out of reality). Aside from the pen and ink, there are also some nice scratchboard illustrations, most involving skulls.
Lilliput Review #131 & #132
3 ½ x 4 ¼ 12pp and 8pp, $1 each or SASE + 2 stamps
Don Wentworth, ed.
282 Main St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Davida keeps sending these to me for review, and I always send them back because I have no idea what to say. But they showed up in my mailbox again, this time around, and I have decided to regard it as an editorial challenge.
I rarely read poetry because it usually makes me mad. Some poets write beautiful poems, and they can stir you like nothing else, but I believe that poetry is a form where untalented and uninspired people can bash language against itself and trick editors into believing that something deeper lies behind the work. In The Lilliput Review, which prints poems between two and ten lines long, I find myself niggled by the disharmonious juxtaposition of tiny works by authors of wildly varying skill and subject, and far too often I am left wanting. There are those brief works which breathe with the life of a captured moment or sensation, and here I find a burst of tiny satisfaction, but between these are too many poems about poetry, and moments that are captured without enough explanation of why the author wanted to preserve them. Lilliput is a mixed bag, but I have little doubt that many people with more patience will probably appreciate more of the pieces than I did.
¼ size, 36pp. $? Trade?
Androo Robinson, Ped Xing Comics
2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland, OR 97213
I will tell you this much: a clown named Whom and an extremely old crow called Twasbrillig leave the reservation to chase a dream. Who would have thought that would be the beginning to one of the coolest comics ever? Androo struggled with this one for a long time; I think he found himself the proud father of a story that was bigger than he was, and it’s hard to do justice to something like that. As he finally releases this one into the world, he sounds uncertain of his results. But I assure you, Levity is an achievement, a story out of time, just a step to the left of real life, a story walking slowly because it doesn’t want to keep up, and standing with a tilt because things are more interesting from other angles.
Foreigners, and Other Familiar Faces
by Mark Rich, published June 2003
Digest, 68 pp., $5
c/o Gavin Grant, Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
This chapbook of nine stories by Mark Rich offers a fine selection of some truly imaginative fiction. The stories fall open without warning, speaking their own languages with unfamiliar cadence, insisting that you give them your full attention if you plan to attend to them at all. Mark Rich has a little bit of Richard Brautigan in him, something magical in his sentences that charms, even when you don’t understand where they are taking you. My love affair with fiction has become complicated since I finished grad school, and I am heartened when I discover stories that remind me of the inherent beauty of language, and the way it can sparkle when used in the right hands (his are the right hands).
Digest, 28 pp. no price, but send a buck or two, or trade
PO Box 180143, Chicago, IL 60618
Through her zine, Michelle has been growing up in public since her early teen years, and she is one of those brave zinesters who holds back very little. The flagship story of her last issue had Michelle getting arrested for credit card fraud, a tense and uncomfortable scenario that she presented with no pretense of objectivity. Now, two years later she is back in control of her life. Indigo is one of the ways that she takes charge of the reins again. Anthropologists know that observation always affects the behavior of the observed, and those of us who write perzines (especially for any significant span of time) affect our own behavior by scrutinizing ourselves through the pages of our own zines. Michelle writes about the danger of this kind of personal journalism, particularly in the case of not shying away from chronicling her foolish criminal behavior. Really, the whole issue of Indigo is about the long-term effects of zines and zine-related activities. She tells about her early days of writing to endless pen pals, and builds on the theme with stories about some people she became very close with, and how she eventually lost them. The last article is about a guy she met through the mail, and how their innocent epistolary acquaintance evolved into a scary, deeply destructive relationship. Michelle has some dark stories in her, but at least she has the forum to tell them. It’s a strange circularity that Indigo becomes the place for Michelle to vent her demons about a relationship that only occurred because her zine made it possible, but therein lies the magic.
Art Visionary – International Art Journal of the Fantastic, Visionary and Surreal
Issue 3, 2001/2002
8 ¼ x 11 ¾, glossy, 64pp., $15 (trades only with art zines and zine review zines)
c/o Damian Michaels
GPO Box 1536, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001
Every now and then something blows me away, and Art Visionary is one of those things. Traditionally, I steer clear of art journals for the same reason I steer clear of art galleries (haughtiness, meaningless pomp, and the depressing sight of crappy pictures with huge price tags), but these pages focus on the act and motivation of creating art, specifically the kind of painting and drawing that goes against the grain of reality. The articles have interviews with really interesting artists, discussing their techniques, experiences, and intentions in an intelligent manner without the edge of superiority that often haunts art writing. The creators openly talk about why they work, what they hope to accomplish through their art, and how their identities as artists have affected their lives (the same sorts of questions addressed by interviews with more traditional artists, but the answers of surrealists are far better reading). Within these articles, scores of paintings and drawings are reproduced with terrific clarity, some in full color. The pictures, while not all of equal appeal to me, are frequently amazing, and they do successfully illustrate the points that are made in the text. The feature article follows the development of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, an interesting art movement that was, of course, deeply affected by the politics of the day and by its own popularity. From beginning to end, I found Art Visionary engrossing and inspiring, like visiting the Van Gogh museum or a really great surrealist exhibit. Sometimes I have exited a museum with a raging desire to paint, but that has never happened to me as I turned the last page of a magazine, until now.
PO Box 380431. Cambridge, MA 02238
Caryatid Rises - a zine with a focus on women and social action
$2 + 83 cent stamps
Are We There Yet? Issue #2
$2; 1200 Hilltop Rd., Baltimore, MD 21226
I admit that I have put this mama zine and its creator, Lauren Eichelberger, on a pedestal. Maybe it’s because our children are the same age, but I find that her thoughts on the highs and lows of being a mother resonate with me in a way that many parenting zines don’t. Lauren takes us through scenarios that are funny, angry, foot-draggingly exhausted, and tender, and while she does not flinch in presenting the challenges of motherhood, you never lose sight of how much she loves her family. It’s quite a feat to pull this off but she does it with grace, and I believe that non-parents will get just as much from her essays as I do. Issue 2 includes several strong essays from other writers on numerous topics e.g. raising children in a fat- hostile culture, house lust, and some great moments in the mothering day.
Red Diaper Baby Issue #2
34 pages $2
This zine, which describes itself as being about radical parenting, fairly bursts at the seams with energy. I like zines like this one that demonstrate just how smart, how politically active many mothers are because I’m so pissed off by the vacuous soccer mom persona. In this issue Becky Ellis writes about taking her baby to the anti-Iraqi war protests, her determination to resist sex stereotyping for her son, and suggests that values like co-operation, and equal division of labor can be germinated at home. Vikki Law covers the momentous anti-Iraq war demo in NYC, and in a particularly uplifting essay, Kathleen Fatooh examines the progress activism has made during her own lifetime and offers some hope for the long haul ahead. Issues can be ordered from Becky at email@example.com.
Viva La Mama! Issue 2.
39 pages $2 PO Box 28476, Seattle WA 98118
Kara Spencer is another radical mother who is the creative force behind that goldmine of activism, YoMamaSays.org. Her zine is equally well put together, and casts a wide net from mourning the death of Rachel Corrie, peace activist, paying a brief homage to some Mothers of the Revolution, to an entertaining road trip story by Stick Boy. I wish the printing had done justice to the great photos but I’m guessing that’s a cost issue. Kara writes of the activism that began in her childhood, and that brought her into several standoffs with her parents. She writes about how much better it feels to live a TV-free life without self-righteousness and in my favorite essay, “Mama’s Bookmobile” tells the story of the bookmobile her bibliophile mother bought for $200 to house her overflowing library and that she dreams of one day turning into a radical parenting-mobile. The zine left me hungry to read more of her work.
Dear Miss Cookie, Dear Ms Cookie and Dear Cookie
Vikki Law PO Box 20388, Tompkins Square Station, New York NY 10009
These three travelogue zines by Vikki Law are excellent. The eponymous Miss Cookie is a cat that squats at an art center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and Vikki writes some of the zine in postcard form, along with numerous photos and travel notes. In Dear Miss Cookie Vikki takes us through the streets of Hong Kong, its satellite islands and mainland China. As she passes on the stories of her family, living and dead, she draws us in, making us feel the presence of the unquiet ghosts, or experience the claustrophobia of the markets, and the crazed tourist buzz on the islands. As a postcard and label kitsch-addict I was delighted by the selection of images she includes, and I was equally impressed with her photography. I love photos of people going about their daily lives, unawares.
In Ms Cookie Vikki documents her visit to her South-African Chinese cousins. The stories her cousins and their friends tell about life in SA are disquieting as are some of Vikki’s travel experiences. In Dear Cookie, Vikki takes her camera to Chiapas where she writes of preteen girls preening before being photographed, matriarchs and a cowbell carrying trash collector. There seems to be a taboo against a woman traveler talking about being harassed, feeling afraid or at the mercy of bag snatchers but, speaking personally, these are really common travel experiences that need telling. I’m so tired of all the “I traveled across the India-Pakistan desert with a group of nomads and their goats and they claimed me as their clanswoman” kind of stories. Vikki’s stories encompass moments that are deeply poignant, as well as bizarre, breathtaking and overwhelming. My only grouse about the zines is the poor print quality of the photos (I know, I have a bug in my ass about photos). Vikki is multitalented and I’d love to see her get a grant so that these zines could get the state of the art print run they deserve.
Dear Miss cookie: Postcards from HK & China: 1.06 (4oz)
Dear Cookie: Postcards from Chiapas: 60 cents (2 oz)
Talk-Story (family stories from HK, but no postcards to the cat): 60 cents (2 oz)
Dear Ms. Cookie (or the little known lore of the Chinese in South Africa): 60 cents (2 oz)
Have You Seen The Dog Lately? Cave Paintings Summer 2003
$2 from Serena & Jenny Makofsky, 465 38th Street, Oakland CA 94609
This issue is a gem lined with groovy little pictographs. In The Underlying Structure of Everything Jenny adds a witty and clever commentary to Langdon Smith’s poem Evolution. Over 12 pages she throws in asides about monoplacophoran mollusks, Bette Davis, Sumer, (possibly the first civilization to have both religion and a written language, did you know that?) a humongous fungus, Hercule Poirot and the cave paintings of Lascaux. Trash Empathy is a meditation on trash that takes us by turns though the perils of acquiring “stuff”, eating peas, trash-picking, and public school funding. The Road to Yagul is a brief travelogue that can’t be faulted for its ability to convey the writer’s deeply felt sense of awe, but the descriptions get a bit empurpled. Most travel experiences simply don’t translate well onto the page, especially the profound ones. I know I have an unhealthy obsession with 35mm, but I was desperate to see the photos.
Fertile Ground Issue 3
2084 Court Avenue, Memphis TN 38104
This is a mama-zine containing some good, solid essays on the experience of parenting. It’s a bit sad that in 2003 we still need essays redefining a mother’s role and affirming that being a stay at home mother is a job in its own right; but we absolutely DO, because the prejudice and bullshit are still pounding mothers from all sides and the essays in this issue provide a vigorous antidote to discouragement. Ashley Harper writes a warm and wry essay about the fine line between raising an eco-warrior and an eco-neurotic, and the inevitable crossover between the two. In Unbirth Stacey Greenberg writes honestly, and with heart-breaking detail, about the loss of her unborn son, Yoshi. It’s a very moving, well-written essay, and I hope I won’t sound patronizing if I applaud her bravery in writing it.
Lone Star Ma Winter 2003
PO Box 3096, Corpus Christi, Texas 78463
This issue of the progressive parenting zine covers numerous topics ranging from the pleasures of helping others to the difficulties of raising a child’s self-esteem. You’ll find essays on the attempts of the medical profession to discredit midwifery practices, a mother’s growing confidence in breastfeeding her son in public, and a review of radical action grrl figure, Feral Cheryl. Lindsey Rock, (Where is My Mind? Zine) writes about the lack of medical support she received for her decision to remain med free. A nicely rounded zine, with lots of info that will be particularly useful for first time parents.
Off My Jammy #15
$1.50; PO Box 440422, Somerville MA 02144
OMJ #15 is subtitled “The gently used issue” and, as you might expect, the essays are linked by the common theme of recycling. Lisa takes this simple theme, however, and runs amok with it. I’m so impressed by the way she has woven together elements like a tiny interview with Dorothy Hui, winner of The Mole 2, (and a creative tooth brusher if ever there was one!), Glad Rags reusable menstrual pads, the wardrobe preferences of Canadian sister-singers Tegan and Sara, activism against the marketing abomination of AOL cd-roms and punk rock aerobics. I like zines like this one where I pick up on the writer’s own enthusiasm as I read it.
The East Village Inky #19
$2; PO Box 22754, Brooklyn NY 11202
(with 4 pages reprint redux from #2)
EVI #19 brings us more of Ayun’s excellent one-liners, and insights on life as a parent. This issue leads us through such nuggets of parenting life as attending the NYC Peace March en famille in sub-zero weather, taking part in the G.I. Joe Easter Basket protest, watching freaky marionettes standing with their booties out, and the flood of memories unleashed on Ayun whilst watching Paul Newman perform in Our Town.
$5 from 9th Time Press, PO Box 4803, Baltimore MD 21211
This super-thick zine is a compilation of writings by some 30 ziner mothers. A very diverse, stereotype-debunking crowd, we were given one jumping off point – Birth – and came up with 132 pages. The essays provide testimony to just how much thought, effort and passion goes into raising children. (Children who will be adults when you are old and maybe in need of care and compassion, which should be food for thought.) Mamaphiles contains tales of activism, birth stories, facing down bureaucrats, putting down old baggage, hope for the future and remembrances of time past. There are zine creation stories, poems, and thoughts on being a mother manqué. It is one powerful mother of a zine.
Kate Haas, 3510 SE Alder St.
Portland, OR 97214
Hey there, it’s Kate of Miranda, taking a break from the adventures of motherhood to bring you a few hastily written zine reviews. I told Davida that sure, no problem, I could still chase after an active toddler, nurse a new baby, write my zine, work on my book and keep reviewing for this fine publication, and I did it, but - whew! Not too dizzy? Get the whole inside scoop in the latest issue of Miranda: motherhood and other adventures. A little anti-war protesting, a birth story, keeping the peace at home, book reviews, a recipe, and the continuing stray thoughts of a stay-at-home-mother are all yours for $2 to 3510 SE Alder St. Portland OR 97214; www.mirandazine.com
If perzines are your style, here’s a new one that I think you’ll like. Malinda writes about her recent move to Texas with her partner, Sean. The idea of relocating to TX gives me the shivers, but Malinda is objective and observant about the new and strange environment. Cacti, cattle lots, dead armadillos, cowboys, conservatives, and a dearth of vegans are among the features of her new home. She also writes of being a new bike commuter, (“I couldn’t believe that I was one of those freaks in spandex…”), her job for a housecleaning conglomerate, and the thought processes involved in her decision to go back to school. Grackle is a thoughtful, thought-provoking read, well worth your time. (And I’d say so even if Malinda and Sean hadn’t brought us those snazzy cowboy-themed cloth napkins when they stayed with us for the PDX Zine fest!)
$1 or trade to Malinda, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls, TX 76302
Junie in Georgia/Ghana #12
This one’s a real charmer! As the title implies, Julie is usually to be found in Georgia, but has relocated to Ghana for awhile with her Jesus-look-alike boyfriend while he does research for a dissertation. GiG is packed with funny drawings and hilarious descriptions of life in Accra: there’s the drivers (crazy), poverty (pervasive), weather (excruciatingly hot), and urban fauna (chickens, sheep goats, and pigs in the streets). Julie gives us some background information on the history of Ghana, tells what it’s like to be a white person in Africa, interprets the language of taxi honking, describes local cuisine, and offers a language lesson in Twi. This review barely scratches the surface of this extensive zine, so put $2 in the mail and learn the (puzzlingly mild) meaning of wo ye kwasea, the most offensive comment you can make to a Ghanaian!
$2 to Junie in Georgia c/o Julie Dorn, P.O. Box 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002; firstname.lastname@example.org
The East Village Inky #20
If you’ve never gotten your mitts on a copy of EVI, you’ve been missing out on lots of fun. Ayun’s continuing chronicles of life in Brooklyn with her wacky kids and writer husband feature lots of funny drawings, and some of the most entertaining writing you’ll find in a zine. In this issue we get birthday parties past and present, expeditions to some of the off-beat, non-English-speaking, and/or just plain mysterious stores in the neighborhood, and a very long, circuitous (in the best possible way) story about and recipe for Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie. I especially liked the drawing of young Milo pushing up his father’s shirt with a maniacal, “I nurse you, Daddy, ha ha,” which I certainly hope would be just as funny to me if I didn’t have children of my own. Plus zine, movie and book reviews.
$2 to Ayun Halliday PO Box 22754 Brooklyn NY 11202
Levity: a ped xing comic
This one’s the result of a story idea that’s been bouncing around Androo’s brain for years. He admits that it didn’t come out exactly as envisioned, but the story had to be told. The comic is the perfect form for this mysterious and intriguing tale of an alternative Wild West where poetry holds sway (but “No Free Verse” signs abound), clowns live on reservations, and a bird named Twasbrillig is a main character. Haunting drawings, dreams, poetry and literary references collide in this latest Ped Xing offering.
$? Androo Robinson, 2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland OR 97213
a mama zine collaboration
Thirty-three mothers who make zines (betcha didn’t know there were that many of us!) collaborated to put together this anthology of our writing. The theme, “birth,” has been interpreted in a variety of ways; you’ll read about the birth of children, zines, of ourselves as mothers, and of our political consciousness. There are essays by writers you may have heard of (Ariel Gore, Ayun Halliday, Bee Lavender) and by less familiar names, and the writing ranges from comical to melancholy to exhilarated. The spectrum of voices, experiences, and writing styles in MamaPhiles is wildly divergent (sample essay titles: Childbirth Virgin, The Birth of a Radical Mama, A Tale of Two Section, Stateless), yet the writers are united by the true passion they bring to these accounts of birth and parenthood.
$5 (at 132 pages, it’s worth it) to: PO Box 4803, Baltimore MD 21211
Flanked by those ubiquitous and annoying “ironic” photos of ‘50s scientists, this zine contains essays on “Life: where is it and what is it?”. There may be some substance to it; if so, it’s thoroughly buried in the dense, sludge-like writing. But you decide: “If all life is 4 options of energy moderation - then this basic knowledge will be known by any advanced civilization. That also means they know how to resolve repressed conflicts connected with the 4 options. That in turn means they have eliminated repressed mostly male, rage.” If the foregoing inspires you to shouts of “Eureka!” instead of a mutters of, “Huh?” then you’ve found what you’re looking for.
Free from: Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas TX 75219
#50157 WSCC, POB 7007
Carson City, NV 89702
(Please write before sending your zine)
Fanorama Society Global Headquarters
109 Arnold Ave., Cranston, RI 02905
Aloha, Zine Friends. Things have been strange in Prisoney Land these past few months. Many changes—some good, some not, some personal, some not. Too much to list here, for sure. Drop me a line and I’ll tell you all about it. DOUBLE UNDERGROUND #2 has been delayed, but it’ll be out soon. The big news: I go to the parole board this month (October) and there’s a chance, a 50/50 chance, they’ll let me out of this hole in February, 2004. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed—after eight years, it’s difficult to think of much else. Thanks to all you who wrote and sent zines. Your words are always welcome and appreciated. Well, time for the reviews. Hope you enjoy them.
WIENER SOCIETY #7: “Sick.”
A raw, honest, emotionally intense prisoner zine by Neil Wiener. This is the real thing, zine friends, the truth about prison and the toll it exacts on even the most durable of human hearts. Neil’s been doing time in a California joint for a few years now and was recently diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV). The disease is as common as the common cold in America’s gulags and, of course, far more devastating to body, mind and spirit. For a depression-prone young man such as Neil, with ten years yet to serve, a case of HCV can mean the difference between surviving or not. Neil writes about the experience as though his life depends on it—and it probably does.
His writing is clear and strong and, through the worst life can throw at him, his wit and eye for detail remain sharp:
It got hot in that crowded cell, too many sick dudes smooshed into benches against dingy non-white walls posted with bi-lingual announcements about the medical rights of prisoners…A few dudes were coughing up lung butter. I felt pretty fucn horrid myself. An older cat was muttering to himself while raking flaky skin with beat-up nails. I began to chew mine in discomfort.
The zine opens with young Neil at a wild house party. He seeks refuge in a darkened bedroom but is soon joined by a crusty girl-punk. She shoots him up with coke—his first IV injection. Crazed Sex follows, of course (XXX Rated), and Neil is hooked. It leads him to a life of drugs and prostitution and, eventually, to prison and HCV. It’s an old story, yes, but told with rare honesty, emotion, and skill. Don’t miss this one.
Wiener Society, 109 Arnold Ave, Cranston, RI 02905
$3/ bomb ass trades/free to prisoners/60 ppg./half-standard.
GREEN ANARCHY #13: “An Anti-Civilization Quarterly”
What happens when a bunch of Pseudo-intellectual computer dorks decide to go primitive? They put out a zine, of course, in which they discuss going primitive—primitive as in poking animals to death with pointy sticks and grubbing for roots and such. They’d like to do it for real, but, unfortunately, their brave dream of quiet tribal evenings around the cave-fire for all humankind can not be realized until the entire civilized world closes shop and joins them, or drops dead. To that end, they write and distribute this zine, imploring radicals everywhere to destroy the schools, bomb the TV stations, burn the SUVs, free the minks, and assassinate all the religious, business, and political leaders. It’s a risky mission, but the compu-dorks are clever; they write in anarchist code:
Situationist theory, as integral critique of the totality of the conditions of survival and of the mercantile-spectacular capitalism that necessitates them, has been confirmed in events by falsification.
Translation: Slap me/you sexy mink. (I could be wrong. It’s a tricky code.) GA is a huge, professionally produced newsprint zine with a quarterly press run of 5,500—but figure half the subscribers are local, state, and federal domestic-terrorism police. The illustrations are provocative and the ideas expressed are nothing less than astounding. The writers are clearly insane, which makes for a frightening yet fascinating read. Still, I’m a little hesitant to recommend it because a few gullible readers out there might be lured to the dark side with promises of rent-free housing for all and a mink on every spear.
GreenAnarchy, POB 11331, Eugene, OR 97440
$3/free to prisoners/36ppg./tabloid.
“A Skeptical Journal of Philosophy and Politics.” Was Jesus an anarchist? Is Zerzan a crackpot? Is Noam Chomsky wrong? Is there a God? John Johnson answers all these questions and more. He also devotes many pages of this zine to bashing the world’s religions—seems he has a personal score to settle with the Mormons in particular. And he does it all in the name of the one, true anarchism. Which anarchism is that? Who’s definition is correct? Well, John’s, I’d imagine, but he doesn’t really go into that. He focuses instead on who’s wrong and on which practices and beliefs are not anarchist—and covers a huge amount of ground in the process. Of all the anarchist zines I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot of them; in prison they pile up almost as fast as the religious tracts) this is one of the more level-headed. The articles are well-written and sometimes even funny—on purpose! And there’s not a lot of the angry babbling often found in political zines. John comes across more like an energetic old preacher, firmly scolding his errant flock, urging its return to salvation’s narrow path. Call it a tent revival for anarchists. Check it out. Imagine, POB 8145, Reno, NY 89507-8145
$3.50 in stores/free from publisher/please donate/68ppg./half-standard
Written by Kitty, the cat for felines everywhere, previously “disgruntled by the lack of cat coverage.” No, Kitty didn’t do the actual typing and stuff. She’s a cat! Cats dictate, which is the natural order of things—as any two-legged cat servant will tell you. (Show me an anarchist who loves a cat, and I’ll show you a very confused human. - Catfucius) Kitty’s mom-servant, Daina, does all the zine dirty work, which I imagine is quite an honor, considering the level of sheer cat genius that went into this thing. It’s loaded with cat tales, cat comics, cat profiles, cat antics, cat snapshots, cat houses, cat toys, and cat potty humor. And that’s not all. For the mature feline, there’s kitty porn (is that legal?), kitty fetishes revealed, daring kitty clothing fashions, and a heartbreaking expose on catnip addiction—Kitty’s first home was a drug house! If you live with a cat, KITTY! is a must. Oh, KITTY! comes with a pullout center-fold of “Cat Facts & Fun” and a full-size, four-page review zine entitled KITTY RECOMMENDS...Get it! Kitty writes like a pro. Meow.
Daina Mold, POB 6681, Portsmouth, NH 03802
MODERN ARIZONA #3
Joe Unseen is a patriot. He believes in voting, demonstrating, and writing letters to politicians. He thinks George II is a scoundrel, a liar, a murderer, and a goofus—among other things— and that his duty as an American includes fighting the president’s policies by any means legal, even if it means putting himself in danger. And put himself in danger he does. There are several decent essays in this zine, some by contributors, but the one about Joe crashing a pro-war rally is the strongest. Joe Unseen is the only anti-war demonstrator to show up at the rally. On his sign are the slogans “Support the Troops, Bring Them Home” and “Thou Shall Not Kill!” Because of this he is heckled, corralled, and threatened with violence. Does Joe back down? No! Joe Unseen is a true American hero. Order his zine. Next issue he’s reviewing 100 public restrooms.
Modern Arizona, POB 494, Brewster, NY 10509
SECRET MYSTERY LOVE SHOES #4
Maria and Androo strike again with their all-too-perfect perzine. Not since Adam and Eve has the world bore witness to such blatant premarital bliss. At first I was charmed by this masterful mini-zine—fooled! But as I reread it, employing my highly developed Reviewer’s Intuition, an insidious design grew evident between the lines, a plot; a secret mystery love plot, if you will, in quiet shoes (“like velvet hooves” pg.18). First, in a cryptic dispatch disguised as a comic (pg.17), Androo takes delivery of a “red marching-bandjacket, sent to him by a mysterious operative known only as “Z”. Strangely, the jacket somehow attracts homeless people. In another essay, wherein our perfect couple patronize the ballet (pgs.33-36), Maria further touts the jacket’s powers: “[It] causes [Androo] to be mistaken for a doorman, an usher, a Mountie, or a member of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band...He’s been saluted. He’s gotten compliments galore.” What he’s really gotten, zine allies isfollowers, and what he really looks like in the jacket is a Salvation Army renegade: “Kindness here! No strings attached! That’s right, old-timer, you can keep your soul!” No wonder the poor love him. Jump ahead to the burrito recipe (pg.41). Androo makes many ultra cheap, ultra tasty burritos, then rides his bicycle through town (his bicycle!) and gives them to whoever looks hungry. “What if you started doing this?” he asks, “What if all your friends did?” What if, indeed, as if he doesn’t know. Meanwhile, Agent Z searches obscure music archives in a misguided bid to bring back the “crazily happy” songs of a bygone era (Pg. 21-22). But to what end? It soon becomes clear…with The Bugs. The sky rains fire on the Middle East while terror reigns at home, but Maria wants the world to believe there’s a greater threat to humankind, lurking in every garden, under every bed, and yes, even in the ice cream. Drawings of killer, mutant bugs spread across the zine’s pages like enemy artillery stats. If Maria can convince the world the creatures are real, wars will end as the people join forces against the buzzing and crawling killers. It’s the old false-threat ploy! Clearly now you can see that Androo and Maria intend to overthrow the status quo and create a Planet of Eden. And if we allow them to persist, the streets will soon swarm with “Sergeant Salvations,” their hands thrust high, forming the Burrito Fist of the revolution. Only happy songs will blare from the amps of the “New Punks,” angst and despair being forgotten tunes of the past. And on the sidelines, the sparkling heroes of the Bug Brigades will stand ever ready to battle an enemy who doesn’t exist. It’s sickening! It’s sappy! It’s dangerous! But we can stop it, zine allies. History has shown us the way. Pick your most tempting apple pie recipe and send it to Maria today. Because only The Apple can save us now.
SMLS, 2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland, OR 97213
Gavin J. Grant
176 Prospect Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
As of 2004, Gavin J. Grant is hoping to put out his zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (www.lcrw.net/ lcrw), thrice a year. His pretend job, Small Beer Press, just published two books, a short story anthology, Trampoline (edited by Kelly Link) and an amazing Argentinean novel, Kalpa Imperial: the greatest empire that never was by Angelica Gorodischer (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin).
For some reason Joe is feeling unhappy. Could it be the Party in Power? Surely no one is unsatisfied with The Grand Old ‘Publicans? Uh, right. Joe attends a Support Our Troops rally (with a peace sign) and is surprised to find the law on his side — a nice change. Otherwheres Joe considers a church with a Supporting Our Troops sign, recommends the Swingline Long Reach Stapler (down boy, down!), and generally gets across his unhappiness with the current political climate. Man can use a photocopier, too. Comes with mini with pictures of the Presidential Halfwit with various appropriate titles.
No. 3, $1/trade, half-letter, 24pp., Joe Unseen, POB 494, Brewster, NY 10509
Argh! Freaky letter-sized cover on legal-sized paper. And color, and, and....whoa: interesting. Sunshine Capital is a geography trip for the zinester’s soul (is that breaking a trademark rule?). There are persuasive (if you’re feeling light-footed) pieces on moving to Connecticut, living in Tucson (it’s got two rivers — but also too many old people), Minnesota in February (brr), and some sketches of Texas (which may or may not inspire you to travel there). Travis also does a few comics (“Great Moment in Travis Klein History” &c.) and then launches into a great piece on uniforms and cultures and whoo’s dissing who which has enough smarts to launch more than a few arguments. Also appreciated the Hints for the Plains Traveller (circa 1877).
No. 3, $1/trade, half-legal, 24pp., Travis Klein, Sunshine Capital, POB 12171, Tucson, AZ 85732
Your Kisses are Like Metallic Squirrel Droppings
How odd to read through this and discover the following three things: 1) Some of these “stupid, masochistic love poems” have been published before; 2) these are not my cup of tea; and 3) Stephanie is the talent behind The Cheap Vegan, a monthly zine I can’t keep up with but find very good reading. So. If poetry is thy bag, and if you’re reading this zine, it may be, and you like parody (there’s a lot here), send along your two dollars and you’ll be justly rewarded.
No. 1, $2, quarter-letter, 38pp., Stephanie Scarborough, POB 715, Weatherford, TX 76086
The Rabbit Fodder Addict
See above. Silly me: 20 great-looking recipes and I have in the past month not got around to trying any of them. Vegan food for all. Take one, pass it on.
No. 1, March 2003, $1, quarter-letter, 24pp., Stephanie Scarborough, POB 715, Weatherford, TX 76086
Tenth Anniversary! That’s a long time for anything never mind a mostly-poetry zine. Was it worth it? Sure. English and Spanish poetry, erotica, memoir, dream journal entries, recommended reading lists (hmm, liked that, wonder about that, hmm) and more all in a nice clear design which gives more than enough space for the writing to breathe.
No. 35, March 2003, $4/free to prisoners, half-letter, 24pp., Donny Smith, POB 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
For the Clerisy
Inspired by a Polish form, this is an excellent use of the (English) alphabet as an organizing tool. Brant manages to carry it all the way through (with wonderful asides for book and movies reviews) from A (choosing an alphabet) to Z (anti-whispering and dating car ads by their soundtracks). There’s one alphabetic finagle when Western New York is slotted in under N so that W can be dedicated to “Tennessee Williams’ Plays in the Movies.” Yup, early coothood is upon you, Brant, and it’s a wonderful thing.
No. 50, May 2003, $2/trade, letter, 18pp., Brant Kresovich, PO Box 404, Getzville, NY 14068-0404, email@example.com
Perzine. Sarah wonders about growing up: about her friends growing up faster or differently from her; about her dad and being and not-being like him; about the music she loves and why and how it changes and is it/was it all about the fashion, anyway? Is zine-making a fashion? Fashion is hard work, and so are zines. There are fashion disasters and zine disasters (this isn’t one). Are there zine victims? Are there zine walkways? Glossy Fall Zine Issues? It all falls apart. Which brings it back to Compost, where things are tossed away, yet never go away, and later, they can be used for something else.
No. 8, stamps/trade, quarter-letter, 28pp., Sarah, 664 Long Valley Rd., Gardnerville, NV 89460 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mercury reads 92 degrees on a cool day in South Texas. Wearing sweaters and drinking Guinness anyway. It’s October and tomatoes are blooming with July’s sweetness. Life is good, bad and ugly. Drop me a line if you wish: email@example.com.
Don’t be a chicken: Try you idiot issue #2 (Check out Nate Gangelhoff’s guile at www.pickyourpoison.net or send a SASE to PO Box 8995 Minneapolis, MN 55408; $1 per issue; past issues available; 43 pages, digest)
It would not be a stretch to call the “Try You Idiot” edition the insomniac’s almanac. If you’ve ever stayed up late staring at the ceiling, pondering such life-shaking questions as does “Hulk Hogan rap?” YOU IDIOT should definitely become your bedside fellow. It’s written with the flamboyance of infomercials without the Bacon Wave swagger. It especially appeals to those enthralled by the war on drugs, video games and a hodgepodge of social figures including pop diva Jessica Simpson, various clowns from the White House and The Dixie Chicks, Texas fallen country angels.
Secret Mystery Love Shoes #4 (2000 NE 42 Ave. #303 Portland, Or 97213; $2 per issue or trade; 42 pages, digest)
If Heloise were to sprout lovely, little stories and dainty comics the end result would be Secret Mystery Love Shoes. It’s like receiving a charming letter from a friend about her first trip to the ballet, a trove of time-honored (move over Martha!) tips for doing laundry and treating any sort of bug bite known to man. And Secret Mystery Love Shoes becomes interactive with a point-by-point craft project (how fitting!). This issue’s mission: feed homeless and hungry saddled along your commute burritos while peddling to work. There is a spot of super sweet lover’s banter (a note to recently broken-hearted.) But the philanthropist spirit and clear voices carry through, making it a lovely, cottage read.
Brooklyn #41 (1800 Parkway #B-12 Brooklyn, NY 11223-3037; $10 subcription for four quarterly issues, cash preferred/check/m.o. payable to Fred Argoff; 22 pages, digest)
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. You can find it all in Fred Argoff’s unfolding love letter to Brooklyn. It’s the kind of pocket zine you can use on a cheap date or for a walking tour of Brooklyn. The corner Argoff visits this turn is Bergen Beach. How to get there? Catch the B3 on Avenue U, turning off at East 73rd St. to Avenue X. Every issue offers a primer of Brooklyn vocabulary. Some is a bit rudimentary; other snippets could help season a new city slicker or those of us who admire the shimmer of city lights from afar.
Thoughtworm #10 (www.thoughtworm.com or c/o Shane Stewart 1703 Southwest Parkway Wichita Falls, TX 76302; Issues 7-10 $2 post paid; 4-6 $1 post paid; trades accepted in advance; 24 pages, digest)
As a misplaced Texan enduring the shock of changes in this vast terrain myself, I can say that “Thoughtworm ” is an honest account that provides a spot of community even if you believe no such thing exists. I couldn’t put it down and even took it to a dinner with friends who shared similar sentiments of the rise and fall of emotions associated with finding a sense of place on a rural Texas plain. Even if you are thousands of miles away from Texas, this is a good zine to curl up with and sort through your own sense of place. As for those Texans, just throw back your head, wear your shiny belt buckle and laugh right along with everyone else. When they say it’s like a whole other country, it’s no joke.
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
The lack of mass transit in my life is killing me. I have so little time to read…and too much time to think. Commuting by car sucks. I am also so far behind answering my mail that I am waiting for a 47” blizzard to get caught up. If I owe you a letter - I’m sorry. If I owe you a trade (Leeking Ink #27 was the last issue), please get in touch. I’m still working on the next issue of Leeking Ink, which will explain a few of the reasons my schedule has been thrown for a loop. Oh, and for what it is worth, Leeking Ink was voted Best Zine in Baltimore, by City Paper (http://bob.citypaper.com/bob2003/story.asp?id=1260)
American Libraries (Dwan #38)
One of the basic zine ethos is – if there is a void, fill it. Donny has created a stand-alone issue of Dwan in the spirit of Alternative Library Literature, only with his own fine editorial style. As he says, “It will bring you some fun librarianly reading” and it does. He interviews the former editors of Alternative Library Literature, reprints several library-related articles from zines and websites, and even offers a contact list of other library worker zinesters and others with librarianly tendencies. Highly recommended.
$1/Prisoners-free in exchange for letter/20pgs/digest
Poetry, though less and less with each issue. Donny includes his diaries and letters from friends. Always an inspiration.
SASE/ Prisoners-free in exchange for letter/16pgs/digest
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
From the heart of the middle-class I stab at thee…
New zines start with flutter and hope, and if everything goes well they take flight. BOB is just starting to get off the ground. It has too much to say and not enough to say, but that is the heart of first zines. Bob strikes at soda and Britney, college educations, and “the cult of eBay.” Nicely designed.
Outhouse Publishing, Bob Sheairs
30 Locust Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108
“Hobnail Press is an independent, not-for-profit, small press publishing initiative. Our publishing is based on the Orwellian tenet, that, in a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” This is a little like a British version of Out of the Blue, with a nod to THE Free Press Death Ship. There are book reviews, articles, zine reviews, poetry, comics, and more. A tad pricey for those outside the UK.
Sample £3 ($6)/26pgs/full-sized (A4)
PO Box 44122, London, SW6 7XL UK
University of Toronto
I dared not get my hopes up, but yes it is true, Infiltration is back on a regular schedule. I daydream about traveling damn near everyday. I’m always taking trips halfway across the world, across country, and a few states away in my mind. Then I read Infiltration and realize how much there is under my feet and behind nearby locked doors to explore. In this issue Ninj focuses on his tunnelquest for the steam tunnels under the University of Toronto. He finds far more than just the steam tunnels and takes readers along on his adventures.
PO Box 13 Station E, Toronto, ON M6H 4E1 Canada
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #12
I think this is by far the best issue of LCRW yet, and trust me, based on past issues that is saying something. The first story, “Happier Days,” was entertaining and well-crafted, but the next one, “Bay,” now ranks as one of my favorite short stories. It starts as a simple conversation at a bar and goes where only good fiction can. Gavin has an exceptional stable of writers, impeccable (yet fun) design skills, and that “magic” that pulls it all together. Recommended.
176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
Motherhood and Other Adventures
Strangely, I made Kate’s recipe for “the best peanut sauce ever” three times before I actually sat down to read the zine. It was every bit as satisfying as the sauce. There are zines and there are mama-zines and somehow Kate bridges that gap with unmatched grace. Motherhood hasn’t changed Kate’s skill as a writer; it has only given her new material. She discusses the birth of her second child and the showdown between good and evil midwives. Instead of just detailing attending anti-war protests with her kids, she parallels her own struggled with domestic conflict. Her “Motel of Lost Companions” is always a favorite. I have a whole apartment complex of full them and it is good to hear there are others out there.
3510 SE Alder St., Portland, OR 97214
A Publications Celebrating the Lost Art of Letter Writing
I read this around the time hurricane Isabel hit the east coast. I found the letters between Fred Argoff, who just got his first home computer, and DB Pedlar, who has one but feels it is a time-vampire, particularly striking as the storm knocked out my Internet service. I did have more time to cook, watch movies, and talk to people. However, I was unable to look up some of the random minutia that I live for. Reading their correspondence did make me more conscious of the time I waste on the computer. If you enjoy reading other people’s letters, you will enjoy this.
225727 Cherry Hill Rd., Cambridge Springs, PA 16403; firstname.lastname@example.org
I had just picked up a week’s worth of mail, and somehow SemiBold slithered to the top of the stack and demanded attention. I was sitting under a tree being attacked by bugs and waiting for the next football team to show up so I could get back to work. Regardless, I found my attention focused on Kathy’s shattered elbow, unexpected kittens born on her dining room chair, a trip to California, and scary neighbors. A classic per-zine.
1573 N. Milwaukee Ave., #403, Chicago, IL 60622; email@example.com
I had sadly assumed that Saucemaster disappeared into zine limbo a few years ago. This was a special treat in my mailbox. He originally published Spain a 1997. He ended up reworking this travel narrative in both design and content. Even if you read Spain years ago, this is a whole new look at the same story.
PO Box 55110, Atlanta, GA 30308
For the Clerisy #51 July 2003
Like the proverbial water cooler for zinester chats about books, yoga, movies, and more.
PO Box 404, Getzville, NY 14068
Malinda has been involved in zines for ten years, but has only now published her attempt. She takes an approach I really enjoy – a per-zine in the form of an open letter. A stellar debut.
$1 or trade/28pgs/mini
1703 Southwest Pkwy., Wichita Falls, TX 76302; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Flabbergasted Emus #5 & 6
The latest installments of Wred’s madcap serial novel. I’ve reviewed this one before, so I’ll just say again, fun stuff – get it.
PO Box 770984, Lakewood, OH 44107
I’ve always prided myself on my covers, but Sean (and Malinda who created the silkscreen) have raised the bar. I always enjoy reading what’s on Sean’s mind.
$2 or arranged trades/24pgs/digest
1703 Southwest Pkwy., Wichita Falls, TX 76302; email@example.com;