Xerography Debt #13
Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor-in-Chief
Donny Smith, Editor
Fred Argoff, Eric Lyden, & Bobby Tran Dale, Founding Reviewers
Mark Hain, Matt Fagan, Gavin J. Grant, Dan Taylor, Ellen Adams Rick Bradford, Gaynor Taylor, Julie Dorn, Randy Osborne, Ted Mangano, & Stephanie Holmes, Reviewers
Androo Robinson and Matt Fagan, Artists
William P. Tandy, Proofreader
Xerography Debt is a Leeking Inc., publication. It is scheduled to appear 3 times a year. Issues are $3. Send cash/stamps, zines, and correspondence to: Xerography Debt
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 347
Glen Arm, MD
© October 2003
#14 Due out June 2004. You can pre-order today!
To order a paper
copy of this issue, please send $3 (cash, stamps, money order, or check) to
Davida Gypsy Breier
Table of Contents
I’d like to apologize if the last introduction caused anyone to think I was burning out – truth of the matter is I just didn’t feel well while I was working on the issue. I’m feeling better now and, if anything, I think XD is hitting its stride.
I’d like to dedicate this issue to Al Cene and Jenny Makofsky (see page 4 for an article about Jenny).
You’ve all seen Al’s name in the supporters list since the inception of XD. He was also one of the earliest supporters of The Glovebox Chronicles and Leeking Ink. With stamps and small cash contributions he helped foster and encourage my publications, which was always appreciated on multiple levels. He passed away February 1, 2004. Al was 89. He was introduced to me by DB Pedlar around 1997 and soon began contributing his “Andy Brown” stories to The Glovebox Chronicles. He was also active with two writers’ groups in St. Petersburg, FL. Although we never met, I will miss his letters and his encouragement.
I have some good news to report. I think it is testament to the quality of the reviewers, writers, and editors associated with Xerography Debt that seven staff members were selected for inclusion in the upcoming Zine Yearbook, a yearly anthology of small press writing put together by the folks behind Clamor Magazine and The Allied Media Conference. Jeff Somers (The Inner Swine), Gavin Grant (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet), Matt Fagan (Love), Cali Ruchala (Sobaka), Donny Smith (Dwan) and I (Leeking Ink) all had pieces from our zines selected. Zine Yearbook should be out this summer from Soft Skull Press.
I’m offering a first come, first served sale on all back issues of Xerography Debt. Issues # 9-11 are on sale for $2 each (normally $3) and issues #2-8 are on sale for $1.50 each (normally $2). I only have a few copies left of certain issues so either email first or list alternate issues you’d like to receive. Sorry, #12 sold out already. Please, help support XD by lining the coffers and also help me make more space in my office.
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 communal sense. We are individual artists and writers coming together to collaborate and help keep small press flourishing.
Do your part by ordering a few zines from the many reviewed here and, if you self-publish, please consider including a some 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 Ifound 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 email@example.com.
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 keep the machine running...
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 and Earl, DB Pedlar, Tracy Pickle, The Neilsen Ratings, Ted Mangano, Owen Thomas, A.J. Michel, Fred Wright, Blair Ewing, Christopher Robinson, Anne Thalheimer, Larned Justin, Jeannie McStay, Dar Veverka, Al Cene, and Brooke Young and the SLC Public Library and a several anonymous benefactors.
A few days before XD was set to go to print I received an email from Serena Makofsky. I read it several times, thinking I was misunderstanding something. Her sister Jenny had been killed in a car accident the week before. My heart sank.
The Makofsky sisters were among the first people I met when I entered the zine world. Their zine, Have You Seen the Dog Lately? was an improbable recipe of whimsy, intellectual discourse, goofy fun, and subtle educational lessons. That was the same improbably recipe of Jenny Makofsky.
When I visited Northern California for the Alternative Press Expo in 1998 I was lucky enough to be their guest. Lucky enough to hear some of Jenny’s stories in person. Lucky enough to hold memories of that trip and come home raving about these two amazing women I could now call my friends.
Jenny was a beautiful woman in every sense of the word, yet from the photos of that trip I had a hard time capturing that. I did however catch her making an odd face while eating cake.
It isn’t just those of us who knew Jenny who will suffer this loss. She was one of those rare souls who gave far more than she ever took. Her stories were part of that gift.
The Bay Area Storytelling Festival wishes to honor the life of Jenny Makofsky by establishing a fund, which will provide storytelling activities to a variety of recipients. Contributions may be sent to:
Bay Area Storytelling Festival
Jenny Makofsky Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 11891
Berkeley, CA 94712-2891
For further information, please
call Gay Ducey at (510) 841-6398
Donations in her honor can also be made to www.moveon.org and Seeds of Learning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educational opportunities in rural Latin America; www.seedsoflearning.org; (707) 939-0471.
I’d like to share what Serena read at Jenny’s memorial service, as well as few comments from XD staff:
I hope Jenny would indulge me in this last opportunity to be an older sister. I need to boss all of you around for a moment, and ask you to fill the gaps Jenny has left behind. The world needs people who-
1. Spend all day in the library doing research for a two-page paper.
2. Can do a perfect impersonation of Carol Channing singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
3. Argue all night over a book they haven’t read.
4. Will read “Little Bear” to Max seven times in a row.
5. Spend spare time reading Spanish dictionaries and memorizing poetry.
6. Fight the good fight.
7. Cook the perfect corn cake.
And, finally, after you have gone and done all the great things, and all the trivial things, I need you to come back, kick your boots off, sit on the couch, and tell me every detail.
Thank you, Jenny, for your stories.
“…her obituary and the headline referred to her as a “storyteller” and I realized what an important thing that is because stories will live for as long as people keep telling them. The fact that she will have no new stories to tell is a tragedy to be sure, but no one can ever take away her stories. If you read one of her stories and if made you laugh or smile nothing can take that away. If you’re walking down the street and you chuckle because you happen to see something that reminds you of a story she told nothing can ever take that away. My sincere condolences go out to her family and her friends and I just hope they will do what they can to make sure that her stories are with us forever.”
“How frustrating it is to see someone who appeared to do little but give to others pass away at such a young age.”
“Her zine was the first review I ever wrote for Xerography Debt! She must have been amazing if all those kids thought she was cool.”
There is an electric guestbook set up at
http://www.legacy.com/pressdemocrat/Guestbook.asp?Page=Guestbook&PersonID=1951629 if you would like to say a few words about Jenny.
Zinester Classifieds at Atomic Books
There is a new Zinester Classified section on the Atomic Books site. It’s basically, a page where people can place calls for submission and people looking to submit stuff places can go and see what people are looking for:
New Jersey Zinefest
Planning for the second annual New Jersey Zinefest is underway. Help them make it an even bigger & better success than last year by spreading the word, lending a hand, or attending with all of your friends. It will be held Sunday April 18th, 12-6pm at: Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Bldg., Rutgers University, 162 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ
For more info write to: N.Z. c/o Rutgers Univ., 25301 DPO Way, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; firstname.lastname@example.org
Help out Microcosm Publishing
(Posted on A.j. Michel’s (Low Hug) blog, www.lowhug.blogspot.com)
Please help out Microcosm Publishing (www.microcosmpublishing.com)
Over the past two years, both Top Shelf Comics and Fantagraphics were saved by sending out pleas over the ‘net urging people to place an order and save their businesses. Comic fans came to their rescue and helped to bail them out of a financial tight spot.
Now it’s your chance to help out an independent distro, Mircocosm Publishing. Microcosm is based out of Portland OR and run by Joe Biel (The CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting), Alex Wrekk (Brainscan) and Webly Bucket (Don’t Send Me Flowers!), three of the nicest, most dedicated people you’ll ever meet.
Joe recently published on the Microcosm Publishing website:
“The time has come once again to come to the aid of your, uh ... Microcosm. I was hoping I would never have to write one of these pleading and begging messages again but we somehow managed to get severely in debt. We’ve been taking on a lot of new items in the catalog lately and just published the new “Stolen Sharpie Revolution” and “CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting” and all of a sudden - our bills caught up with us! I was kind of hoping that the holiday rush would help cover these bills and it seems we’ve bit off a bit more than we can chew. While it’s certainly been a blast to do Microcosm for nearly 8 years, it has its share of financial trouble as a result. I don’t want to sound like an epitaph because it’s not quite dead yet but this doesn’t make it that easy to keep our heads above water. All orders are extra appreciated right now.”
Bobby Tran Dale/Botda has a new and more permanent address:
3542 Fruitvale Ave., PMB #141
Oakland, CA 94602-2327
Fred Argoff has switched apartments:
1800 Ocean Pkwy #F-10, Brooklyn NY 11223-3037
Ingleside News has now officially changed its name to Orange & Blue. The new e-mail is
email@example.com and the new website is
Eight-Stone Press has launched a new website: www.eightstonepress.com
Issue #8 of The Hungover Gourmet: The Journal of Food, Drink, Travel and Fun will be coming out this summer and we are looking for submissions for various sections of the newsletter. The two biggest areas of need are...
Going, Going, Gone Inspired by one last trip to Philadelphia’s infamous Veterans Stadium for a baseball game this section will examine favorite places and things that are going or gone. Have a favorite eatery that has disappeared? Did you fall in love with a fast food menu item only to have it yanked without any consideration of your feelings? Is a landmark from your hometown on its way out? Tell The Hungover Gourmet about it! We’re looking for recollections, memories and observations of approximately 500 words. If you have an idea for a longer piece, please get in touch before writing something up.
For Those Who are Fussy About Their Food Our restaurant/eatery review section which debuted in issue #7 has been a big hit! In an effort to provide a broader selection of eateries from around the country (and world!) we’re soliciting contributions from as many folks as possible. Here’s your chance... 175-200 word reviews are best and be sure to include the restaurant’s name, address, phone number and a rating of one (a place you wouldn’t recommend to your worst enemy) to five (the best meal, service, ambience you’ve ever had).
Other Topics Always Open to Contributions Flea market and thrift store reports. Hangover cures. Drink recipes. Bars We Love/Loved. Travel journals.
Deadline for submissions is March 15, 2004. Submissions can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094-5531. E-mail Dan Taylor with any questions, thoughts, comments, etc.
HAVE YOU BEEN BAD?
Sooner or later, everyone has the opportunity to do the right thing - and then doesn’t all for the sake of being bad. And now Eight-Stone Press (ESP) wants to hear all about it!
BEING BAD is a forthcoming ESP publication devoted to your tales/poetry/artwork of the high road not taken - opportunities to do right not so much missed as forsaken. From childish pranks to petty acts of revenge to good, old-fashioned raunch, ESP knows you’ve been bad (hell, you’ve read this far, haven’t you?).
For consideration, send your submissions to Eight-Stone Press
Attn: William P. Tandy
P.O. Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
or email: email@example.com
The History of Zines:
By Donny Smith
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
Unlike other English private printers, who trace their lineage back to Emery Walker and his exciting 1888 lecture on typefaces and printing methods, Ralph Chubb was of the family of William Blake. Like Blake, he had visions and transcribed voices. Like Blake, he was an artist and poet. (Like Blake, he drew his text directly onto the same printing matrix as his illustrations.) Like Blake, his prophecies spoke of political, spiritual, and sexual liberation. And that’s why, some say, he never attained commercial success.
He was born in 1892 and grew up in St. Albans, England, north of London. According to those who knew him, “Darling Ralphie” was angelic and sweet. He played the romantic heroine in the family’s home dramas. He and one of his sisters would play in the galleries of the cathedral near their house and in the crypts. He went to school in the cathedral and learned Latin and Greek in the fortress-like medieval building. He began illustrating stories about knights and battles at a young age. But he had paralyzing nightmares about torture devices in the cellars of their home and “squids with quivering bellies.”
In 1910, he earned a scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge. Here he met people who discussed sexuality and its history rationally and soon found that others had unusual predilections. He began to think of himself as a “pagan faun” and became a nudist.
Unfortunately, he was enlisted as an officer in the war in 1914 and sent to France, where many of his men were killed and most of his friends. He was cited for bravery, but in 1918 was discharged as an invalid. He had nightmares of the guns for years. But the army paid for his course in art school.
After art school, he moved back to his family, now living in rural Berkshire, and set up his studio in a hut in the woods near the family house. His brother Lawrence bought him type, showed him how to make wood engravings, and built a press for him out of a carpenter’s screw. Ralph, Lawrence, and their sister Ethel printed Ralph’s first three books on this press. He then printed prospectuses and mailed them out hoping for subscribers, without much success. And he was not satisfied with the results of his work. He found typesetting tedious and his printing equipment inadequate.
His first book, Manhood: A Poem, features a naked man on the title page and shows the influence of Walt Whitman and proto-gay socialist Edward Carpenter. It apostrophizes a man swimming in a vast mythological sea,
Breasting the swell of ocean with broad breast,
Heaving your huge shoulders out of the water
And crushing it with your thick thighs;
The monsters, I say, eye you
And writhe with their sinuous limbs together and wait, and eye you;
Then, when I see you thus, shall I not be proud to be a man? …
The title page of his third book, A Fable of Love & War: A Romantic Poem, features a naked man with sword and shield, a naked boy with shield, and a weeping clothed woman. The poem tells the story of a warrior who returns from war to his boy-love and of the girl who comes between them—and in the telling, attempts to outline Chubb’s philosophy. As he states in the preface,
There is little happiness in thought, which is good but in so far as it helps goodwill. Simple loving kindness is the test of a man, which is to say love of near ones and simple things, of wild nature rugged or sweet and of her little friendly beasts of the earth and the air and the water, love of a beautiful boy, a hardy man, a tender mother, love (if one be an Englishman) of England.
His next three books Chubb sent to commercial printers. Meanwhile, his family was also financing exhibitions of his paintings. A few critics compared him favorably with Blake and Michelangelo, but his paintings did not sell.
His sixth book, the commercially printed Book of God’s Madness, begins with a kind of Manichean cosmology. God’s existence begins with his own self-awareness, an intense loneliness—which leads to insanity and then to creation, the product of insanity. The poem eventually turns to Chubb’s constant theme:
Liveliest effigy of the human race,
Loveliest in form, in spirit like a sword,
Boyhood! I weep to see you so disgraced,
From stream’s and meadow’s playground snatched away
To die on commerce’ bloody altar-stone.
Chubb depicts the ugliness of middle-class life, the fatness, laziness, mediocrity, cruelty, and waste. In the midst of this, however, there’s a brief theophany, a god appears lightning-like—
… a goodly youth,
Naked, triumphant, spurning with his foot
A heap of lumber, shattered instruments,
Books, broken statues, tumbled palaces;
And women, babes and elder men
Bowing before him and all crying out,
“Worthiest full life who fullest life enjoys!”
And he made answer on high, “Is any here
“Of fuller being than I? I’ll bow to him!”
—then is gone.
To relieve some of the burden on his family, one of his sisters got him a job as art teacher at a nearby school. However, a few years later, his paintings and books started gaining notice and causing scandal. Eventually, rumors about his activities in London, the content of his books, and his involvements with local adolescents forced him to resign. He and his family moved to a village in Hampshire.
In 1929, he gained access to some sort of duplicating machine, on which he produced his seventh book, a sexual manifesto titled An Appendix. The machine freed him from the tedium of working with metal type and the difficulties of combining type and block illustration. At about the same time, he acquired a lithographic press and began producing books by drawing and writing directly onto litho stones. Like the duplicating machine, this also freed him from dependence on commercial printers, but unlike the printers or the machine, it allowed him to produce high-quality images. His hand-printed books are hand-bound and often hand-colored; according to his biographer, they “shine like jewels.” He set up his press in his little studio in the woods and slowly produced books there for the rest of his life, occasionally travelling to London to offer his books in bookstores.
His tenth book, The Sun Spirit: A Visionary Phantasy, featured a dialog between Spectre, Chubb’s unformed, tormented self, and Seer, Chubb’s mature, mystic self. Seer comforts Spectre as Spectre recounts incidents from his childhood:
At the time of puberty I had obsessions.
I walk’d always with downcast eyes and blush’d scarlet to meet anyone in the street.
I thought I harbor’d a secret vice which none had discover’d before me.
I caught site of my figure distorted in a shop window and thereafter imagined that I had a physical deformity which others ignored through kindness.
Spectre eventually has a vision that would form a core of his beliefs:
At eighteen years one Sunday in the mighty vaulted church I caught the glance of a dark-eyed chorister.
Instantly our souls flew to meet each other in wild embrace.
Had we not loved since the beginning with deepest love for ever and ever?
His eleventh book, The Heavenly Cupid, or, The True Paradise of Loves, features what may have been Chubb’s most harmonious marriage of writing and drawing (judging from pages 2, 3, and 4 reprinted in various sources), with lilting calligraphy and simple, luminous figures leaning into or arching over the texts.
His twelfth book, Water Cherubs: A Book of Original Drawings & Poetry, includes an artistic manifesto, “Notes on My Art”:
1. Art is simplicity & can best express the universal in a single symbol. 2. I choose the Boyish Body; because it is the divine image & better than anything else expresses the whole mystery of life. … 3. Love never harms, it blesses body & soul. 4. Everything in life without a single exception—from the Buttercup to the Sun, from the comma or tadpole or human babe to the unfolding World—is a sexual symbol of a Spiritual Fact. Everything in life, therefore is clean & pure & holy & divine. Sensual perception is falsity. 5. One facet of truth well expressed illumines the whole body of Truth for everyone. 6. The nudity of Art is for ventilation and purification. * I redeem [with a drawing of a stiff, cruciform boy rising from a broken egg].
Chubb’s thirteenth book, The Secret Country, or, Tales of Vision, was a nostalgic look at incidents from his childhood, with accounts of dreams, psychic events, and prophecies, hints at early sexual experiences—and as always, exposition of his boy-centered theology:
And God appeared before me upon the hilltop, in the shape of a beaming naked youth of 15 years, with limbs of superhuman strength & beauty. He had golden curls & blue eyes. His figure was enveloped in a blaze of solar light; and in his right hand he bore a yellow sunflower.
“I am the Son of Dawn” he said. “I am the divine one.”
So then I knew him for Ra-phaos, who is the Holy Ghost made flesh. He is the Spirit of Imagination. (But although I say he appeared to me, yet I knew that I was really beholding my own self).
“I am your Love” he said. (Now what my love is, that am I. Moreover I declare unto you who read that I, Ralph, am all that is. … )
“… * I am for ever & ever. * I say, Let the true individual pile up delight upon delight, fulfilment on fulfilment to his soul. * Stint no desire! * For all your loves & graces are yours visibly to all eternity. Neither has the shadow anything in You at all!”
Despite the insistent spirituality of this book, Chubb did not profess sainthood:
Now I make no claims for myself that I am a virtuous or holy character. I know too well that I am sensual, whimsical, & in certain circumstances inclined to be wrong-headed, fantastical & perverse. What I have is imagination, human sympathy (when kindly treated), and a great capacity for love. My sympathies are, in reality, much more universal than I have seen fit to give out in my books—not narrow & limited as I have sometimes pretended.
The War, followed by long years of misunderstanding, poverty, and thwarted artistic impulse, have much to answer for in my case.
Eventually, in the 1950s, poverty, illness, arson, and blackmail forced him to give up printing his visions. His long-suffering sister Muriel found a box of Ralph’s childhood stories and pictures. He used these to draw the final book printed during his life, Treasure Trove: Early Tales & Romances with Poems. He packed up the many unsold books and paintings in his studio and began shipping them off to libraries as donations.
This was a bittersweet end to his career. In all his writings, “His sexual activities are recorded without reserve”; according to his biographer, “The artist seems to have made a solemn pact, where his own activities were concerned, never to deviate from the truth.” Chubb labored all his life to catalog his visions and harmonize them with various mystical systems into an ephebo-centric theology (focussing on adolescent men—neither pedophilic nor necessarily gay). Even though one critic divides Chubb’s work into four categories based on content, the ideas seem consistent throughout. Chubb expresses a denial of the material world and a contradictory delight in the senses; a rejection of God, law, and rationality; an embrace of love, kindness, and beauty. As he wrote in 1932, “My work is not a pastime … but is the living output of one who labours for humane ends content in humble circumstances.”
His visions sometimes join us to ancient trinities—as in The Child of Dawn when he sees “the Lord”: “The Threefold Man Divine. With shining beard, / Majestic, on the right, the Father stood; / Upon the left, in tender motherhood, / Mary; and in the midst the radiant Child …” His words are sometimes grotesque—as in Songs of Mankind when he urges a young lover to nurse at his “poetic dug” (“My own soul’s calf, pull, pull”)—but sometimes beautiful and thought-provoking—as in The Heavenly Cupid, when he speaks of “A world of realized desire, / Not further than this world but nigher, / And broad and deep, not merely higher.”
Chubb’s story will seem familiar to zinesters: personal isolation, unsellable work, self-reflective or confessional writing, eccentric worldview, problems with commercial printers, need for a personal printing apparatus, begging bookstores to carry publications, relying on the mail to sell publications. He died in 1960 and was buried beside his parents in an unmarked grave—later marked with a stone echoing Blake, “Ralph Nicholas Chubb, Poet and Artist. ‘Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity with itself.’”
studies of Chubb
1960 “Blake’s mantle: a memoir of Ralph Chubb” by Roderick Cave, Book design and production v.3, n.2, pp.24-28 (includes illustrations from six of Chubb’s books and a portrait of Chubb)
1970 appendix to Love in earnest: some notes on the lives and writings of English “Uranian” poets from 1889 to 1930 by Timothy d’Arch Smith (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London; includes an illustration from one of Chubb’s books and a photograph of Chubb)
1970 Ralph Chubb, the unknown: a checklist and extensively expurgated biography by Anthony Reid (offprints from the magazine The private library, bound as a pamphlet; include illustrations from seven of Chubb’s books)
1991 “Ephebophilia and the creation of a spiritual myth in the works of Ralph Nicholas Chubb” by Tariq Rahman, Journal of homosexuality v.20, n.1-2, pp.103-127
anthologies including Chubb’s work:
1983 The Penguin book of homosexual verse edited by Stephen Coote (Penguin, Harmondsworth)
1990 Rants and incendiary tracts: voices of desperate illumination, 1558 to present edited by Bob Black and Adam Parfrey (Loompanics, Port Townsend, WA)
1998 The Columbia anthology of gay literature: readings from Western antiquity to the present day edited by Byrne R.S. Fone (Columbia University Press, New York)
1999 A day for a lay: a century of gay poetry edited by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard (Barricade Books, New York)
thanks to Swarthmore College Libraries’ Treasure Room for access to copies of these books:
1924 Manhood: a poem by Ralph N. Chubb (R.N. Chubb, Curridge, Berkshire)
1925 A fable of love & war: a romantic poem by Ralph Chubb (R.N. Chubb, Curridge, Berkshire)
1928 The book of God’s madness: an unfinished poem in three parts (whereof Part I slightly abridged was published as The cloud and the voice) by Ralph N. Chubb (the author, n.p.)
1939 The secret country, or, tales of vision by Ralph N. Chubb (the author, Kingsclere Woodlands, Hampshire)
The History of Zines:
Zinedom uber Alles
By Cali Ruchala
100 E Walton #31H, Chicago, IL 60611
On July 23, 2002, a skinny, bookish physics professor coughed up the slop of his internal organs and drifted off into a permanent sleep. Surrounding him were mountain men, skinheads, and former commies and anarchists who had given up their lives to hunker down in this godforsaken West Virginia compound. All had discovered him, in one way or another, through the written word: a vast legacy of thousands of self-published pages that with the leader’s passing formed the group’s most precious asset.
This was the death waltz of Dr. William Pierce, acclaimed by a tiny subculture of “intellectual” racists, neo-Nazis and Klansmen as a milquetoast furher who would lead the white race to victory in the coming Racial Apocalypse.
As fishers of men, most Nazis cast their lines in prisons or other black waters. Dr. Pierce had a different plan for creating his vanguard of whites that would lead the “lemmings” of America through the Rapture. Through books, broadcasts, comic books and publications, he aimed at disaffected whites with a little pocket change to sustain him and his staff in their grim mountain fantasyland.
Dr. Pierce was born in Atlanta, Georgia on the fortuitous day of September 11, 1933. As a young man in the early 1960s, he could have been expected to smoke a little pot, drop a few tabs and grok at the patter of emerald rain falling in Portland, Oregon, where he was an young physics professor. He must have gotten hold of the brown blotter, though, and gravitated instead to the hilariously pseudo-fascist John Birch Society.
Even the Birchites were a little too bolshie for Pierce. In the nation’s capital, he swore allegiance to George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party, volunteering at the office and editing the ANP’s publications. Under the watchful gaze of his new Aryan guru, Pierce developed his thoughtful philosophy of transforming America into a “white living space” and lining up Jews and “feminized wimps” and bulldozing them into landfills.
After Rockwell was assassinated by a disgruntled follower in 1967, Pierce found a new mentor in segregationist George Wallace. To compliment Wallace’s 1968 run for president, another rabid anti-Semite, Willis Carto, had formed an organization called “Youth for Wallace,” ostensibly to beat up hippies on college campuses. In the end, a falling out between Pierce and Carto led to a split. Pierce wound up with the bulk of the group, and renamed it the “National Alliance.”
Every racist organization feels the need to smear their hate like so many piles of feces across the printed page. Few, however, were quite as prodigious - or ingenious - as Dr. William Pierce. The National Alliance, he said, would never beg for handouts. Instead, they’d target intellectual misfits in the image of their founder - people who could buy something, people with jobs, which was (and is) something of a novelty in the White Power movement.
Moreover, Pierce understood marketing. Phrases like “market size” and “audience size” pepper his organizational handbooks. Nazis, he conceded, were unpopular. While Rockwell and Klansmen had made a great show of stomping about like newsreel stormtroopers, the Alliance was all about subtlety. “Most level-headed people,” Pierce once said, “even if they think of themselves as National Socialists, are going to be hesitant to get involved with that kind of circus.” To his followers in the Alliance, Pierce mocked what he called “the sieg-heilers” and derided his brothers on the fringe of the radical right as “freaks” and “defectives.”
When Pierce made his big foray into the print world, he deliberately targeted the disaffected white hippies he had battled in the 1960s. The Alliance’s zine for public consumption in the late 1970s - often produced on mimeograph when funds ran low - was accordingly given the punchy title of Attack! and designed in the same format as the counterculture and radical publications of the 1960s. It was also where he serialized his most famous creation, an amusingly turgid novel of purple prose called The Turner Diaries. The book allegedly served as blueprint for the Oklahoma City Bombing as well as a rampage by a white nationalist gang known as The Order (most famous for murdering acerbic Jewish radio personality Alen Berg, and having Oliver Stone make a movie about it).
Pierce also edited a members-only bulletin, Action, while developing his own, goofy (and, unfortunately, non-tax exempt) religion, “Cosmotheism,” in which whitey has replaced the red man as the “noble savage” spiritually in tune with an Aryan Mother Earth.
As the supply of gainfully employed former hippies dried up, Pierce shifted gears abruptly and decided to give his group the varnish of a modern elite. He injected a bit of Bolshevism into his Hitlerite propaganda, preaching that the National Alliance would serve as a “vanguard” to awaken the white nation in the coming race war. This is the sort of thing that got Manson in trouble, but Pierce, far from commanding a bevy of burned out hippie girls, was so lonely among his mostly male followers that he sent away to Hungary for a mail-order bride. She waited out her green card at the Alliance’s compound, and then left him.
In any case, the Alliance’s new image as a “vanguard” was reflected by a change in Pierce’s publications. Attack! turned into National Vanguard and Action turned into the National Alliance Bulletin. Pierce also launched Free Speech - a publication, in the best self-publishing tradition, entrusted to no contributors other than himself. In a nod to the changing times, Pierce even published comic books. New World Order Comix was intended to be a vehicle to motivate white schoolkids to rise up against their multicultural enslavers, but the series never got beyond the first absurd installment, titled The Saga of... White Will! From his West Virginia hideaway (allegedly financed as much of Pierce’s print bonanza by money donated from The Order’s heists), Pierce cranked out a weekly radio program, bought a White Power record label, began a whites-only fashion line called AryanWear (the products were actually made in China), and even released a buggy and primitive first-person shooter video game called Ethnic Cleansing, where a white-armed revolutionary runs around assassinating mixed-race couples and gangsta rappers.
Groups formed around a singular individual rarely survive their founder. So it is with the National Alliance. After Pierce’s death in July 2002, the Alliance has been ripped apart by rivalries, purges and mass resignations. Their membership rolls are falling and so too, not coincidentally, are their publishing ventures.
Anti-racist organizations often state that the National Alliance is the “largest” or “most-prominent” hate group in the United States. How many members do they have? Shockingly, at the time of Pierce’s death, the Alliance had less than 2,000 paid members and probably less than 5,000 “supporters” nationwide - and this was at the peak of their popularity. All the same, the National Alliance was said to bring in close to a million dollars a year. Pierce, an Aryan PT Barnum, merely sold his wares to the same people over and over again.
IT MEANS IT’S WANK
By Jeff Somers
P.O. Box 3024, Hoboken NJ 07030
“So what does that mean? It means it’s wank.”- Vic Flange, www.fleshmouth.co.uk [now defunct], describing my zine.
THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND THE VALUE OF NOTHING
...in which your intrepid columnist wonders just how useful a review is to a zine publisher, and ponders whether good reviews or bad reviews are more useful.
My zine got a bad review the other day. In and of itself this is not news, as my zine gets a lot of bad reviews, and the source of this particular review has never liked my zine anyway. And as far as I can tell, bad reviews of my zine are a fundamental building block of the universe, like quarks or light quanta—ubiquitous and necessary. Years from now, when super-scientists finally solve all the riddles of the cosmos and figure out what dark matter is, I’m sure they’ll find it’s made up of bad reviews of my zine. Okay, so what—Take it in stride, what’s the big deal, all this negative energy just makes me stronger—but this particular review wasn’t so much a review as one long insult directed towards me. You know the type of review I’m talking about; the review that basically calls you lame and boring seven different ways before wrapping up.
This got me to thinking: What was the value of that review? On a basic level it did it’s job: It communicated the reviewer’s opinion of my zine to the reader (in this case, potentially summed up with a pithy it sucked that would have saved time, paper, and energy). But that’s about it; while a reader will know what the reviewer thinks of my zine, they don’t get a lot of clues as to why the reviewer hated it so much. Maybe I ran over the reviewer’s dog and they’re getting back at me. Maybe they don’t care for foppish alcoholic hipster doofuses and the humor they prefer (fey, giggling, and incoherent). Maybe they hate anything with fiction in it. Who knows? That’s the point. No one knows. All you know is that they didn’t like it.
Of course, if you’ve grown to trust that reviewer, that may be all you need. Much in the same way I trust the bartender at Stinky Sullivan’s in Hoboken when they silently shake their head at the new beer I’ve gestured at and grunted for.
But a review is a tool, and like all tools you need to know a lot about its parameters before you can really use it. Assuming that the review itself at least contains some hints as to the reasoning behind the reviewer’s recommendation, I started to wonder what the best approach was: Postive, negative, or a mixture?
The Good. Some reviewing publications only print good reviews—not in the sense of liking everything that’s sent to them and publishing useless rubber-stamp reviews, but in the sense of only printing reviews of zines they recommend. The commonsense theory here is that there’s no reason to tell people what you hate; they’re reading reviews in order to find something they want to read. The good part about this is, since you know that every zine in there is recommended by someone, you can quickly scan the titles until something catches your eye, and you know that it’s being recommended to you. The value here is no wasted time, in the sense that reading about what not to buy is a waste of time, since you can safely assume that anything not in that publication isn’t being recommended to you, thus saving you the trouble of sifting reviews.
The problem, of course, is the insular, clubby feeling such publications can get, when the lovefest gets a little thick. After dozens of pages of happy happy reviews, you can’t help but wonder how high the bar is. It’s like one hand clapping: If you can’t see the bad reviews, how do you know there are bad reviews? In other words, how can you be sure these happy happy people dislike anything?
That’s the problem: The Control. Everything needs a Control against which to measure, to make sure you’re getting accurate results. A reviewer’s positive review can be said to only be valuable if they can demonstrate that they do, in fact, dislike something. A reviewer who likes everything is useless. When a review zine only prints positive reviews, you have to assume there’s a huge pile of rejected zines that would have gotten bad reviews. If you assume that, it still works, so the question becomes whether assuming something is a good way to operate.
The Bad. Other review zines take the opposite approach: They pride themselves in the harshness of their reviews. While not having bad reviews as an editorial policy, these reviewers take the stance that a tough standard means only truly amazing zines get their approval, while any sort of mediocrity or lackluster effort is punished ruthlessly.
Of course, snarkiness often becomes a goal in and of itself. Like at the lunch table I sat at during High School, insult-comedy quickly becomes a competition of wit, speed, and viciousness: Whoever got off the nastiest one-liner won. You read some of the harder-edged review zines, and you get the feeling the reviewers aren’t really reviewing zines, they’re scanning them for material for their pithy barbs. The bastards.
It seems pretty obvious that the only way to really know the value of a reviewer is to read both what they like and what they didn’t like, and, most importantly, why they liked or didn’t like something. I think the reason someone doesn’t like a zine is often the whole point of a review. I mean, if someone starts off a negative review of The Whirligig by saying, “I don’t like litzines...” you know the poor zine didn’t have a chance, and that colors your appreciation of the review. On the other hand, if you’ve read ten reviews of litzines by that reviewer and they always hate them, and then they review The Whirligig and love it, that review tells you a lot more.
Of course, what I think would be total genius would be a review zine that only prints positive reviews of The Inner Swine. Oh wait...that is The Inner Swine. Never mind.
PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094
Despite having his recent honeymoon cut short by Hurricane Isabel, the editor of The Hungover Gourmet still believes that America offers many fine vacation destinations. Then again, he also believes that SMALLVILLE is the best show on television and Larry Bowa belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so take anything he says with a grain of salt. A big grain of salt. You can get the latest issue of THG by sending $4 to PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21093 or visit www.hungovergourmet.com.
MEDIAGEEK #1 ($2 ppd from PO Box 2102, Champaign, IL 61825-2102. Also visit www.mediageek.org. 36 pages, digest)
When creating a DIY media empire, losing your shirt by printing a zine is usually the first step. Mediageek head honcho Paul Riismandel took the opposite approach by launching a website/blog and a weekly radio show before taking the plunge into print at the ripe old age of 31. And after reading the first issue of this primer on DIY and guerilla media, maybe we should make that a minimum age for starting a zine. At least Riismandel (and contributors like Aj Michel of Low Hug) makes you feel like you’ve gotten your $2 worth because he’s GOT SOMETHING TO SAY.
And I don’t mean crying in his beer about a failed relationship, or what happened at his commune, or what he thinks about the latest packet of free CDs that showed up in his PO Box. Nope, what we get here is real content a call to arms, examples of what you can do to became a media guerilla, how to do a zine, what to look for when buying a camcorder. In other words, a very real emphasis on the “Do It” in “Do It Yourself.”
Frankly, this is a publication that could fill a gaping void in a zine world that does a lot of preaching to the choir.
CLAMOR #20 (May/June 2003, $4 ppd from PO Box 1225, Bowling Green, OH 43402. Visit www.clamormagazine.org. 66 pages, full size)
The phrase “preaching to the choir” was something I couldn’t get out of my head while I read the latest issue of CLAMOR, a magazine that describes itself as having “New Perspectives on Politics, Culture, Media, and Life.” With this being their “Food Issue,” I was extremely interested in what the contributors had to say about topics like fair trade coffee, working in food service, urban foraging, veganism, etc. Unfortunately, what I found were any number of articles that delivered exactly what readers of a magazine like CLAMOR would expect to find. In other words, a lot of the same stances against the practices of big business and big government that we’ve heard for years and years. And unlike MEDIAGEEK, very little that said, “Hey, this is what’s going on but here’s what you can do to change it or at least make your voice heard.” As a card-carrying meat eater, I suppose what I was looking for was something that told me WHY I should change or at least re-examine my ways. And like the last issue of the mag that I read, there are some great articles like Jason Gillis Lemieux’s energetic piece on foraging and the sense of home and community he gets from it and Harry Seitz’s disgusting (but passionate) treatise on bad behavior in food service. But for a magazine that preaches “new perspectives” in their tagline, I didn’t find much that struck me as new.
BANDOPPLER #1 (Summer 2003, $16 for four issues from PMB #P506, 6201 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2382. Visit www.bandoppler.com.)
“Great, another music magazine,” I thought as I dug into the first, slick-looking issue of BANDOPPLER. According to “publisher” Treble Bandoppler, the mag was inspired by seeing an issue of GRAND ROYAL six years ago. Six years ago? What the hell took so long? Ever heard of Kinko’s? Actually, the mag looks and feels way more like CHUNKLET, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. But I’ll give them points for: a) a serious article on Andrew WK; b) refusing to review free CDs (at least that’s what they say); and, c) a review section that tells me how many words the article is right along with the title. To be honest, I don’t listen to a whole lot of “new” music these days. I’m much happier listening to scratchy ‘Harmonicats’ LPs or the soundtrack to Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER, so there might be a lot of really groovy info about cool bands in here, but to me it was just a lot of words. Nicely laid out words on nice paper.
RATED ROOKIE Vol. 2, Issue 4 ($3 from 562 Park Place #3, Brooklyn, NY 11238. Visit www.rated-rookie.com.)
I’d heard this zine’s name bandied about here and there, but had never come across an issue till this one showed up in the ol’ mailbox. With its flip attitude and articles that make you stop and think, “was that fiction or not?,” it reminds me a bit of EYE, which was one of my fave pop culture mags of the last decade. Unfortunately, the cover article on Bob Burns (who art directed such masterpieces of genre cinema as THE HILLS HAVE EYES, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HOWLING and the incredible RE-ANIMATOR) is barely a page long while an oral history of “the forgotten war between Marilyn Manson and The Human Oddities” amounts to six pages of people bitching about what a fame-hungry poseur Manson was/is. Not what I’d call riveting stuff. But that’s a minor complaint, since the rest of the mag features the kind of short pieces that make even the lamest concept a quick read. A fun and well-designed mag.
Brooklyn #42 (Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Parkway #F-10, Brooklyn, NY 11223-3037; $10 for 4 issues) Like his other great zine WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS, this is editor Fred Argoff’s personal view into a world he knows very well. While WTCD gives non-New Yorkers a glimpse of the NYC Subway System, BROOKLYN is a great look inside the magical land of the title. We find out what Fred was doing the night the lights went out last summer, roadway idiosyncracies, the 26th installment of the Brooklyn lexicon and cool photos, history and facts. Personally, I’ve always been a little intimidated by New York City and preferred smaller, more intimate big cities like Philly and Chicago. Reading Fred’s zines makes me want to take a trip up 95 and explore the ins and outs of his New York.
Trouser Chili #5 (Waldo Thomas Frank, 2910 Sycamore Street, Alexandria, VA 22305; $2.00) Humor is a funny thing. No pun intended. Television networks, huge film corporations, magazine conglomerates, newspaper syndicates and more all pay good money trying to figure out what amuses you and me. And frankly, what amuses me might not be what amuses you. That said, a zine that tries to tackle such a dicey and often touchy subject deserves kudos. TROUSER CHILI features a mix of parody, smart-ass letter responses, and (surprisingly) some straightforward B-movie reviews. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Your mileage may vary. The sinister takes on that old, preachy daily newspaper standard ‘Family Circus’ definitely made me laugh out loud, which is more than I can say for numerous television shows with so-called professionals.
Musea #125 (Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas, TX 75219; It says Free but send the guy a buck) Wow, 125 issues! Even if it is just 8 pages, 125 issues is hella impressive. Also impressive is the three-page list of shows that the editor would schedule on his fictional television network. Guess what? I’d watch a bunch of these, and they’re not all that far-fetched given some of the reality shows and specials that air currently. Hell, put ‘Pilots’ (a showcase of TV pilots that the audience gets to vote on), ‘Trailer World’ (nothing but previews of upcoming films) and ‘High Thinking and Super Thoughts’ (human achievement at its peak without dumbing it down for the audience) on my cable system this week and I’ll tune in. Not sure how I feel about the “Zine Hall of Fame,” but when you’ve got a zine that’s been around for 125 issues, I think you’ve earned the right to do whatever you want!
Batteries Not Included Vol. X #11 (Richard Freeman, 513 N Central Ave., Fairborn, OH 45324; $3/US, $4/Foreign) Richard Freeman’s amazingly consistent BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED has been around for years, dispensing unique insights into the world of porn and porn films. But don’t expect to read BNI for titillating thrills or kinky good fun. Each issue (normally about 12 pages) is densely packed with news, interviews and articles that would be at home in any professional magazine. Take this issue’s cover story, “Under Nude Management” which relates the story of San Francisco’s Lusty Lady peep show theater workers. The dancers bought the theater from the owners and now run the bump and grind as the nation’s first worker-owned strip club. It’s a great tale of women that society would normally look down upon seizing the opportunity to take charge of their lives and do something positive in the sex industry. A fascinating tale that sits side by side with interviews with porn star turned performance artist Annie Sprinkle, porn starlet-finder Mike South (who talks about the influences of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea), and the second part of a chat with actress Lynn LeMay. BNI is an always-interesting and smart look inside a sometimes-sleazy world.
PO BOX 6681, Portsmouth, NH 03802
BIG PINCH WORLD #1
BIG PINCH WORLD is my Surprise Hit pick of this litter. When I first skimmed through it, I was not quite sure what to expect. Lots of text with no immediate clues about the subject matter and a poem on the back cover? Could be either really good or really bad. But the minute I started reading, any doubts were cast aside as I immediately fell into the author’s words. Randy writes short glimpses of his life that touch on his family, his childhood, and the people he loves. In between, he ruminates on his own feelings and perceptions. The writing is straightforward and bare, yet artistic at the same time. Randy chooses his words carefully and it shows. Several sentences stand alone so much that I want to write them down. While the sentimentality might be a bit too much for some people, I think it’s done very well. BIG PINCH WORLD manages to articulate the spaces that live among all of life’s most serious events: the awkward silences, the wordless emotions, and the hope for meaning in lost moments. I think it’s magic and it makes me want to write.
P.S. This is just the first issue! I can’t wait to see more.
P.P.S. Like I said, this zine might not hit everyone else in the same place. So you might not love it like I do. But see for yourself!
$2 or fair trade; Randy Osborne, PO BOX 246, Fox River Grove, IL 60021
JUNIE IN GEORGIA/GHANA #13
I had just finished reading two issues of JUNIE IN GEORGIA/ GHANA when my XD review packet brought me this brand new issue. I was delighted to see it, since I was already deeply into Junie’s world. And what exactly does this world consist of? Well, Junie left Georgia to live with her boyfriend in Ghana for about eight months. Jeremy is doing some kind of study program, while Junie is just taking in all of the sights and trying to learn as much as possible about her surroundings. In JIG #13, Junie describes the horrifying effects of certain African diseases, an endless battle with The Bugs (your sissy little American spiders pale in comparison!), political protests, signature local dishes and (my favorite part) the mundane details of her everyday Ghanaian life. I can’t even imagine uprooting my whole existence to live in a place so physically and culturally remote (nevermind leaving my Kitty!), but reading these tales makes me wish I could take off tomorrow. The writing is conversational and casual, with funny stick figure drawings strewn about for visuals. (In another issue, the drawing of “Jazz Hands!” sent me into a fit!) The zine can be slightly difficult to read at times, but it’s quite worth the effort. It’s not often that an already entertaining perzine can teach you so, so much. I suggest you order #’s 11 & 12 as well to get a complete picture of this journey.
$2 or equivalent trade; PO BOX 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002
LOVE is a comic zine following the adventures of Jack and Pokie, two guys who happen to be in love with each other. Their creator, Matt, hopes to tell a story about a relationship between two people while avoiding the usual gay clinches (such as “gyms, cruising, and fancy French restaurants”!). I think he accomplishes this task fairly well. Jack and Pokie are real characters, not caricatures. Like most of us, they’re artists or writers with punk leanings. They work at crappy jobs they hate while wishing for something more. But the “more” isn’t what everybody else wants, like houses and cars, career, maturity, credit cards and social standing. I think the “more” is not so much about getting to another place, but about feeling okay with choosing a life that satisfies you. And no, I don’t mean the gay lifestyle here. I mean the punk-inspired, zinester lifestyle where creation is everything and daily life is fulfilling. Because there is no tangible “prize” to work towards, our lives are made to feel less successful, less real. Jack and Pokie are happy, if unsure about the future. I feel the exact same way. My life is very good, but it’s not like everybody else’s. And that sometimes makes me feel like shit, even though I know it shouldn’t. Because I don’t want my life to be like everybody else’s. Anyway, enough of my shitty, bitter philosophy. The drawing is good and I especially love the parodies of “Milk & Cheese” and “The Powerpuff Girls”! There’s just the teensiest bit of sex in here, many declarations of love, plus a wise homeless man to wrap it all up. Oh, and also I really, really want a crow’s nest of my very own! It would make my thinkings that much better.
$2; Meniscus Enterprises, 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464, Chicago, IL 60622
THE HUNGOVER GOURMET #7
I really love reading about food. Where food comes from, how it’s made, who makes it, where it’s served, who eats it, the traditions behind it, the future of food, its cultural significance... I enjoy reading about food as much as I love eating it, if not more. When I get a new cookbook, I sit down and devour its contents as though it were a novel. HUCKLEBERRY FINN? EAST OF EDEN? No thanks, I’ve got my COOK’S ILLUSTRATED BEST RECIPE SOUPS book, THE FRUGAL GOURMET, my fuckin’ Heloise and my Alton Brown. Nevermind that I hardly ever put my vast cornucopia of cooking knowledge to use. Yeah, I make my living as a cook. But it’s really not the same as doing it at home. Someday, when I’m in my declining years, I’ll be foisting trays of culinary delights upon frightened neighbor children who run, screaming, “EEK! It’s the crazy cooking cat lady! ARGGG!!!” Until then, zines like THE HUNGOVER GOURMET will satiate my appetite for good, hearty food stories. Issue #7 tackles forgotten eateries, restaurant reviews, a love affair with licorice, our own Davida’s admission of being a foodie, Indonesian dining mishaps plus zine & movie reviews and more. The combination of tantalizing contributors and savory editor make this a nutritious, tasty issue. It’s hard to read about eateries I’ll never be able to experience (because they’ve closed or they’re too far away), but I’ll manage. After all, my hobby is reading recipes I’ll never cook!
$2; Dan Taylor, PO BOX 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094-5531
ADVICE TO MYSELF
Writings, Ramblings, and Essays about Sexuality, Spirituality, Self, Situations, and Communication by (and for) RICH MACKIN
I don’t know how in tune you are with zinester gossip, but Rich Mackin’s gotten himself into a mess. It has to do with sexual harassment, sexism, personal attacks, activism, feminism... basically every “ism” in the book. Here is his story. Here’s what he’s done to change, what he’s going to do, how he feels, how he lives. Backed up by a TON of research, Rich explores the very nature of sexual conduct, female/male perspectives, society’s ideals/ rules, what to do/ not to do if you don’t want to offend anyone, how to treat people, how to live inside of a plastic bag and not bother anybody with your presence... (OK, just kidding about that last one!)
I’m a woman. I’m a feminist. But above all I’m a humanist. I disagree with some of what is written in ADVICE TO MYSELF, but not the things, as a feminist, I’m “supposed” to get riled up about. I’ve never been one to paint things black and white. I think gray is the color of humanity and it always will be. I applaud the fact that Rich is attempting to better himself. People would be golden if they tried this hard. But it’s almost too hard. Militant PC-ness does not agree with me.
Regardless of your opinions on these issues, ADVICE TO MYSELF will make you think. It will teach you things and force you to ponder your behavior, your surroundings, your society. It’s difficult to review this zine without getting into my personal thoughts on the subjects at hand. But that’s a good thing. I’ve read a lot of political zines that simply place their ideals on a soapbox, shout down at you, refuse questions, then quietly slip out the back door. ADVICE TO MYSELF does not do this. It asks you to read, think, discuss, and respond. That’s a good thing.
(P.S. I miss BOOK OF LETTERS.)
$2 (suggested donation, proceeds benefit safetynet, an organization which educates men on intimate abuse and sexual violence); Rich Mackin, PO BOX 14642, Portland, OR 97293-0642.
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
Since our last issue, I’ve put my zine on hold, turned down a publisher’s interest in a zine history anthology Davida and I are working on, taken a ten-day trip to Nebraska, and gotten a second job as an English instructor at the college where I’m librarian. I’m 6’ tall (but apparently getting shorter). My eyes are blue and my hair is reddish blonde. My turn-ons include skinny boys with glasses, good vegetarian cooking, and unruined landscapes. My turn-offs include loudness, crowds, and stupidity.
Emergency No.4 (2002?)
available from Ammi, PO Box 72023, New Orleans LA 70172 USA (firstname.lastname@example.org) for $2 cash or trade
on the cover: photocopy of a photo of a girl maybe playing piano overprinted in linocut with a picture of the same girl wrapped in a monstrous worm or snake
inside: In part 1, Ammi and her friends travel the country in a beat up car or hitchhiking, squatting here and there, doing performance art and activism. In part 2, Ammi reflects on the suicide of her friend Sera Bilezikian and on the World Trade Center attacks.
quote: That car represented everything wonderful and terrible about Laura. None of the doors opened but all the windows did. We climbed in and out of them. Anybody could mess with that car, but nobody could steal it and nobody could fix it.
Laura was similarly always—unshakably, brilliantly, inappropriately—Laura.
“You’re gay,” she accused me one day, bitterly.
“But you’re dating a woman.”
“Well, everyone’s bisexual. You don’t have to act on it in such a…such a…perverted manner!”
Laura tended to say exactly what she thought, flushed and vehement, usually while knocking over a beer in the process. Lots of times she said things she didn’t actually think, often while knocking over a beer in the process.
overall: A sprawling epic of a zine. Difficult reading, sometimes because of the hard-eyed social observation, sometimes because of the draining emotion, sometimes because the writing style was a little too artful (but the times I thought “That’s exactly true” outweighed the times I thought “I wish she hadn’t written it that way”).
Etidorhpa #8 (September 2003)
available from Franetta, PMB 170, 40 E Main St, Newark DE 19711 USA for $2, trade, or the usual
subtitle: Bit by Rubber
on the cover: a burnt black baby doll
inside: the maddening, exhausting story of a bounced paycheck, the unraveling of her workplace that followed, and her thoughts on work and where it leads us; a piece of fiction about a woman whose jobless husband keeps a terrible promise
quote: Despair, resentment, anger and fear seemed to coat every available surface with the equivalent of astral soap scum. I’m not sure about the existence of things like auras or other so-called psychic energies, but I know a bunch of unhappy people can make the air feel worse than the haziest LA smog.
overall: you’ll be thankful
Extricate #3 (2003?)
available from Dave Birchall, squatting in Manchester, for 60p (UK) or $2 (US); email email@example.com for information
inside: comics about applying for unemployment benefits, photocopying, not driving cars, walking around seeing odd things, and giving up on “normal life”; also, a guide to squatting in Wales and England with a legal notice you can copy and fasten to the door of your squat to keep out police and landlords
quote: a place to exist and / function as something / resembling a human being. / an end to the collective (in)sanity / that has taken over the world. / a wounded thought / left waiting on shadows.
overall: The drawings are ungainly and rely too much on scribble (more variety of line weight and texture would be good), and the human figures are definitely not drawn from life. I’m not saying it’s bad. I just want more evidence of love of the medium.
Flakes issue 1 (2003?)
available from Darren Hamby 8276382, S.R.C.I., 777 Stanton Blvd, Ontario OR 97914 USA for free
what it is: a perzine handwritten in pencil on notebook paper, since he doesn’t have access to a photocopier
inside: a story or memoir about of few months of hanging out, getting stoned, getting drunk, and keeping out of trouble
quote: As I sat there I felt I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I had lived at the coast for a moment, partied with some local yokels and crashed through peoples backyards knocking things over. I was mostly happy about crashing through peoples backyards. End
overall: He comes off as a goofus, but I gotta admire that he’s writing this out by hand, and I’m curious to know where the story goes from here.
For the Clerisy Issue #53 (January 2004)
available from Brant Kresovich, PO Box 404, Getzville NY 14068 USA for (probably) a personal letter with book recommendations; firstname.lastname@example.org
subtitle: Good Words for Readers
on the cover: thoughts on why people who wear glasses are so attractive
inside: reviews of a broad range of books (Diet, Sex and Yoga; The GI War Against Japan; a V.I. Warshawski mystery; Cheaper by the Dozen (the book, not the movie); and more); zine reviews; interesting reader letters
overall: I’ve always thought this zine was a little too smarter-than-thou. But it’s always entertaining, and I find out about all these amazing books. I use it for collection development at the library where I work!
disclosure: Brent did review my zine Dwan as “unique,” with “Brave yearning poetry.” (Flatterer!)
How to Make Trouble 3 (2003)
available from Homebrew Publications, PO Box 4434, Melbourne University, Parkville 3052 Victoria AUSTRALIA (email@example.com) for $5? (look for it in your local independent bookstore)
subtitle: Revenge of the Trouble Maker!
inside: snippets of historic and contemporary accounts of riots, protests, and pranks, mostly Australian, illustrated with posters and graffiti
quote: In the run up to the Olympics a student prankster hoaxes the Lord … Mayor of Sydney by handing him a “torch” made out of a chair leg, pudding tin and kerosene soaked underwear. The Mayor clings on to it only discovering it’s a fake after the real one arrives during his official speech.
Prison Music Issue #1 (2003)
available from Prison Music distro c/o Megan, PO Box 184, Yoncalla OR 97499 USA for $1; to write to the editor directly (don’t send money): John Adams 768543, Rt 1 Box 150, Tennessee Colony TX 75884 USA
on the cover: Death and a screaming prisoner surrounded by barbed wire inside an eighth note flying out of a staff of music
inside: descriptions of day-to-day life in a Texas prison, with emphasis on the noise
quote: Can you imagine spending 24 hours locked up in a bathroom with someone? I couldn’t have done it with my wife.
Now, I do it with a stranger. Let’s just call it a growing experience.
Directly ahead is the Nutcracker. Why would I name a seatless toilet after a famous ballet? Well, let’s say you go and sit on the thing to feed the fish. It’s not a very large opening and by having the entire hole filled up with your bum, it’s akin to putting the lid on a jar so to speak, and your family jewels are hanging loose in the jar.
… When I push that chrome button to flush the toilet, the water flows so swiftly it creates an air stream. It’s basically like taking a vacuum hose and attaching it to your groin. You learn pretty quickly to spread your thighs or lift your buns when giving your cellie (Cellmate) a courtesy flush.
overall: detailed, but with enough humor to make it bearable (for the reader anyway)—a very good first zine.
note: Late zinester Pat Earl was a prisoner at Tennessee Colony as well, and s/he described the noise, heat, hostility, and aggression in similar words.
Rap Pouch (2003?)
available from Breaking World Records, 30 West St, Hadley MA 01035 USA for $4?; http://www.breakingworldrecords.com/
what it is: a 3.25 inch CD in a pink double-knit pouch
inside: 15 tracks by 15 groups—some folky, some They Might Be Giants-y, most noise collages; Dan from the record label describes it as “…good, if you like good things. Noise, folk, Chunk and Distracted Pop.”
quote: hearing little worlds little worlds —Moxy Van Float [I think that’s what she sang anyway.]
overall: Not my kinda music. Only two tracks I could stand to listen to more than once: “feathers” by Moxy Van Float, a delicate, melodious song accompanied by random noises, and “untitled” by Josh Burkett, an acoustic guitar solo.
Sansevieria 56 (November 2003)
available from Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary AL T2P 2E7 CANADA for $1?; published for Point of Divergence A.P.A.
inside: a review essay on books on economics, both non-fiction and alternative history science fiction; summaries of alternative history short stories and an article on “folk economics”; reprint of an 1894 New York Times article on what is seen in a dead woman’s eye
overall: Like For the Clerisy, a must for collection development. Where else could I find reviews of all these amazing books?
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
I know it’s not the appropriate response, but god bless you, Martin Luther King, Jr., for getting me a day off work! I’ve been trying to shake off whatever tenacious seasonal malady has me in its clutches, which makes just one day to sit inside with a kitty on my lap, listening to the cold wind outside against the warm Brazilian music inside, and attempt to accomplish some of my many outstanding tasks such a pleasure. Maybe a nap later? I’ve been working on and off on a new zine project, but god damn it, I keep getting interrupted by my job, where among other things, I have to give a public lecture in two days on the origins of modernism in American art— doesn’t that make you wish you lived in Philadelphia? Actually, it’ll be an interesting lecture, which I’ll make certain of just as soon as I get done with these reviews….
The Furious Cock
$5, 270 pages
Michael Muhammad Knight
376 Herman Street, Buffalo, NY 14211
An embarrassed confession: I’ve held onto this self-published novel Davida sent for way too long, letting it get buried beneath stuff until I unearthed it recently and vowed to either finally read it or send it onto someone else to review. Once I started, I was instantly caught up in the story of Al Zurriyati, a young man growing older as he drifts more or less aimlessly through various junior colleges in far northern Upstate New York. Each of the 100 chapters of the novel are named for another one of the characters Al encounters in his college experiences, creating a vivid swirl of mostly obnoxious personalities that reappear throughout the non-linear narrative. Initially the novel inspired a nostalgia for my own undergrad days, the friends and freaks that become one’s whole universe, when saddling a stranger with a cruel nickname in creation of a new deity for the pantheon shared by one’s intimates was a source of daily pleasure. Eventually, however, The Furious Cock becomes bleak and tedious, which I suspect may be intentional, reflecting the increasing disillusionment and despair of the main character, who gradually adopts the personality traits of his more forceful comrades as he realizes that his experiences— the friendships and adventures and limited educational endeavors— will amount to nothing. In a sense, this device is effective, even if it makes for patches of rough-going; the story’s non-linearity makes it somewhat repetitive, as events recur, not Rashoman-like from differing perspectives, but informed at each recurrence with the building of events. I was unsure, however, if the characters’ ugly attitudes towards women were meant to be author Michael Muhammad Knight’s indictment of stunted adolescent misogyny or a participation in it, consistently referring to the female characters as “fish” and depicting them as grotesque vampire-like creatures greedy to guzzle the spunk of even the nastiest guys. As the title implies, there’s a lot of testosterone-fueled anger within these pages, be it sexual (I may be too quick to read repressed homoeroticism into things, but it strikes me as being here, particularly in a character obsessed with extreme wrestling and self-mutilation), or derived from class inequality, shattered idealism, hopelessness, or the recognition that even the most intense relationships are ultimately transitory: The Furious Cock is angry, but smart and incisive.
The Hungover Gourmet The Journal of Food, Drink, Travel & Fun, # 7
$2, 36 pages
PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094-5531
This is yet another of those zines that I’m late in jumping on the bandwagon of, and lest I seem like a sheep in heaping praise upon The Hungover Gourmet, I thoroughly enjoyed the various vicarious experiences its pages offered me. Maybe it’s just because I’m more than slightly food-obsessive, but HG also provided me with a good fix of exploitation film reviews as well as providing fodder for my increasing fascination with Baltimore. Mick Sols contributes a piece on dining experiences in Bali, one of my top travel goals, and Sols’ writing about the delicious and cheap cuisine intensified my desire to risk the terrorist threats and just go there. The amazing cover story, “Ollie’s Last Call,” by Holger Haase, regales the reader tales of hanging out at the tavern on Malta where roguish British actor Oliver Reed died. This issue also features articles by William P. Tandy on New Jersey diners, an appreciation of Red Vines licorice by Sam Costello, “2 Bars We Love” by editor Dan Taylor, “The Unexpected Foodie” by Davida Gypsy Breier, plus lots of reviews and a long article on basketball by John Taylor that I couldn’t make myself read (sorry). Perhaps my favorite pieces centered on New York’s Times Square when it was still sleazy and fascinating: a remembrance of the seedy Selwyn theater by Steven Puchalski, and an assessment by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford of the various risky dining options of the old Deuce area of the Square, including a Chinese dive in which the cook would threaten unruly customers with a ladleful of boiling oil. Both articles evoke such a richness of a time and place that they plunge the reader into the grit and glare and smell and hubbub of America’s great lost treasure of urban skank (damn you, Disney!). The Hungover Gourmet serves up delights to satisfy any taste. Note to Dan Taylor: if you ever want anyone to write on vegetarian dining in Philly or Lincoln, Nebraska, I’m your man!
Childlike Empress, Premier Issue
Price?, 33 pages
402 West Airy St., Apt. 5, Norristown, PA 19401-4602
True story: a couple of months ago I was hauling ass from a class I was taking at the University of Pennsylvania to 30th Street Station, arms loaded with library books, hoping against hope that I would actually make my train home. As I scuttled through the station, I noticed a young woman waiting on a bench, reading a copy of Xerography Debt. Normally, being shy and awkward and antisocial and suspicious, I never talk to strangers, but the unexpected sighting compelled me to stop for a second and compliment this woman on her reading taste. I mentioned I was a reviewer, and she mentioned that she had a copy of her own zine with her. So, in the few seconds I could spare in racing to make my train, I got myself a free zine and made a promise to review it. Childlike Empress’s author, Raequel, AKA Sys-Tris, is a young African-American woman who likes Anime, role playing games, and Jack Osbourne, stuff I don’t really care about, but the voice is fresh, intelligent, and enthusiastic. Raequel writes about her “road to zinedom,” an interesting personal history that is the highlight of the zine for me. Other articles include a report on a sci-fi convention in Philadelphia, rules for a drinking game based on watching crackpot televangelists Jack and Rexella Van Impe, pranks pulled hanging out at a mall, an appreciation of Penn Jillette, editorials against livejournals, e-mail spam, and political apathy, plus poems and a work of Goth fiction titled “The Bride Wore Fishnets.” The design is bare bones, but the exuberant joy in sci-fi geekdom is refreshing. (Ed. – to add to the coincidence, about 10 years ago, I lived about a mile and a half from Raequel.)
Four Star Daydream, Issue 5
$1, 32 pages
104 Diane Drive, Thomaston, GA 30286
Fawne’s writing is as direct and bracing as a splash of icy water. With circular allusions to Tracy Chapman’s haunting song “Fast Car,” Fawne states that her life in the small town of Thomaston is simple, and yet through her spare, honest writing she reveals a life with its share of complexities. The mother of a young child, Fawne contemplates marriage to her boyfriend and going back to school. There is controlled anger in her writing about her strained relationship with her abusive mother, and the senseless murder of her friend Mike. Although much of Four Star Daydream’s content is melancholy, there is a sense of quiet hope throughout as Fawne finds contentment in a life she acknowledges others might not envy: “Some people probably would not like living my life; they would need excitement and suspense. Not me, most of my life was too excited, too unstable, and too loud. There is peace now…. I know that I am not going to walk inside this house and find out I am moving again, or a fight just occurred, or I did something terribly wrong. My heart is safe here. I belong.” Like the handful of her enigmatic photos Fawne reproduces, her writing has a hushed wintry beauty, stark but serene.
Love, vol. 1
$2, 40 pages
Matt Fagan/Meniscus Enterprises
1573 North Milwaukee Ave., PMB #464, Chicago, IL 60622
No two ways about it, I am a scrawny, bespectacled, geeky-looking queer boy who spends most of my meager discretionary income on books and music rather than my wardrobe or health clubs. Comic artist Matt Fagan seems to be on the same wavelength, and this compilation of his comic Love provides a necessary alternative to the stultifying, ubiquitous mass media perpetuated image of all gay men as moneyed and muscular male models who dress great but have the depth of saucer. Friendly but not insipid, sweet without becoming saccharine, Love stars Jack and Pokie, two guys in love who blast expectations of how homos are supposed to act and what they’re supposed to look like. Jack is a chubby, furry long-hair; Pokie resembles an extravagantly mohawked punk variant of King of the Hill’s Dale Gribble (who in turn is based on notorious queer William S. Burroughs). Riding the ragged edge of poverty, the duo deal with crappy employment, lack of health care, and their place outside the gay “mainstream” with easy-going humor, buoyed by their love for good food, bad movies, and each other. If you’re a homo that finds Queer Eye insulting or wants to stomp the characters on Will and Grace (Will especially, that contemptuous, self-hating asshole), or if you’re someone that just wants reassurance that not all queer men are vapid, arrogant eye-candy, check out Love.
$5, 42 pages
Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
A fantastic travel guide consisting of fourteen short pieces of writing, more descriptive than narrative, Other Cities has elements of science fiction and fantasy, but shows the greatest influence of Jorge Luis Borges and the Latin American magic realists. Some of Rosenbaum’s miniature tales have political undercurrents (a city that has raised censorship to an art form, another obsessed with amateur detective work, another that is an allegory of Jerusalem), others are more purely fantastic (a city of “erotic forgetting”; a spherical Utopia aware of its own inevitable destruction; a metropolis run by machines which cater to every need and whim, but require the periodic sacrifice of the wisest and kindest citizen; a place similar to Big Rock Candy Mountain, where hoboes are king, that emerges from the quest to locate it). Throughout Other Cities, considerable insight and wonder are compressed into but a handful of words. This small book’s crisp design and illustrations mirror the crystalline elegance of the writing: recommended.
1800 Ocean Pkwy. #F-10
Brooklyn, NY 11223
A strange thing happened when I opened the envelope and looked at all the zines Davida sent me for review. I thought to myself, why am I bothering? I don’t like any of these. Well—see what a little time can do? I must’ve been in a bad mood that day. And I definitely missed a bunch of zines I know and happen to like very much. So I’ve reconsidered my initial reactions, as I think you’re about to see...
The Letter Exchange. I definitely missed this one when I made my original statement...because I’ve liked “Lex” from the start. Here is one of the few publications you’ll find anywhere that doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator. It’s a zine devoted to correspondence—hey, who says nobody writes letters anymore? Discuss your favorite subjects (whatever it is, someone out there shares your interests), make lifelong friends—I know this for a fact, because I’ve made some through Lex! 3 issue sub for $18, and have lots of stationery on hand, ‘cause you’ll need it! 855 Village Center Drive (#324), North Oaks MN 55127-3016
Come on, Davida. You only sent me The Constant Rider because you know mass transit owns a big piece of my heart, right? Indeed, this wonderful little zine is subtitled “Stories from the Transportation Front.” Kate reports on adventures and experiences from her local mass transit. Featured in issue #5, Run-ins With Presidential Motorcades. I say, hurrah for her, and may she produce many, many more issues. No price listed, but send her something, for heaven’s sake! Kate LoPresti, P.O. Box 6753, Portland OR 97228
Musea exists to support the arts. That’s all I can say, because it’s so inventive, one issue will be completely different from the next. #127 closed out the year 2003 with Dot’s Playhouse, a feature story on the theme of social change. Support the arts, why don’t ya? And maybe pick up a free gift or two. Again, no price listed, but “the usual” or a trade will land you a copy, I betcha. From Tom Hendricks (aka Art S. Revolutionary), 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas TX 75219.
Now here’s MarkTime, all the way up to issue #70, I see. A perzine, but a perzine of near-unbelievable proportions. How one man manages to cram all that activity—and travel...did I mention that he keeps a running log of all the counties in the United States he’s been through?—in one lifetime, I’ll never know. $2 in cash or stamps, and keep your suitcase packed. Mark Strickert, P.O. Box 6753, Fullerton CA 92834.
Well, what can I say about Zine World that anyone else hasn’t said already? Not everyone was dancing in the streets when Factsheet 5 waved bye-bye. There wasn’t a unifying force for zinedom, and no matter what many said, we needed one. Take away the pretension F5 acquired, and you’re left with ZW. Issue #19 has twenty-six (count ‘em!) pages packed full of zine reviews. Plus articles on the themes of press and freedom, and letters. Lots of letters. Wake up, people! If you’re not already subscribing, you better check your pulse. $4 for an individual issue, from Zine World, P.O. Box 330156, Murfreesboro TN 37133-0156.
Ah, yes, Rated Rookie, subtitled “Subversive Stories of Everyday All-Stars.” And that’s just what you get. I find it refreshing to be able to concentrate on something other than the endless barrage of garbage from the established media. Celebrities? Out with them, I say! Give me regular people any day of the week (and as an employee of the New York City Transit Authority, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to real-life stories). It’s big, it’s printed slickly on glossy stock, but it rings true. And it comes from Brooklyn. For all these reasons, I recommend rustling up $14 for the 4-issue sub. 562 Park Place (#3), Brooklyn NY 11238.
See, it had to happen. I knew there was going to be a zine in the pile that didn’t do anything for me, and Off-Line wins (or loses) the prize. They say the goal is to create a community of independent-minded people centered on the written word. You don’t hear any complaints from me on that score. My problem is the amount of written words they use. I read the zine over twice, and both times came to the same conclusion: too much verbiage. Issue #25 features alternative reporting on the war in Iraq—which begins to get tiresome because most of us know how unjustified the whole thing is. But don’t let me go getting all political. For me, too much isn’t necessarily better. Free, but accepting donations. Claire Cocco & Vincent Romano, 35 Barker Ave. (#4G), Yonkers NY 10601.
I am Paraguay is a chapbook of poetry. I never feel qualified to say anything about poetry zines, probably because I had a high-school English teacher who didn’t like some of my own efforts in this area, and I guess I put up a mental wall. I will say this: the poems here are all very rich in imagery. Which, I guess, is what good poems should be. From J. Wesley Clark, 31 Belle Vue St., Filey, North Yorkshire YO14 9HU, England.
Ah,yes, back to the subject of real people and their lives. Michelle (Mish, if you’re not feeling formal) has had some bad experiences, but they haven’t kept her from putting out Indigo, now up to issue 15. It’s fresh, it’s fascinating—to your Friendly Local Reviewer, anyway—and it’s not slick at all. In fact, in places it gets sloppy...which kicks it into the “gold star” category, as far as I’m concerned. Hey, Mish, wouldja like to trade zines with me? $3 from Michelle Aiello, P.O. Box 180143, Chicago IL 60618.
5025 Thacher Rd., Ojai, CA 93023
Hello from Ojai, where it’s supposed to be California, but right now I think it’s freezing. Anyways, I make the zine September Coming Soon, which is a buck or a zine trade or a nice long letter from you (with high emphasis on the last two). I librarianize a zine library here in Ojai and zine donations will be met with much love and maybe a prize. Send things here: Ellen Adams, 5025 Thacher Rd, Ojai CA 93023, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big Pinch World #1, $2/trade, Randy Osborne, PO Box 246, Fox River Grove IL, BigPinchWorld@mindspring.com. This wasn’t an officially XD endorsed review. Randy sent me his zine on his own. It’s one of my favorite zines from that past year. A first issue that carries none of the usual baggage that a first issue shoulders, this zine shines. It fills you up with a warm open humor and then breaks your heart with completely understated sadness or beauty, but usually both. Grown-up Randy writes the story of his father and the quietly strengthening reverberations between alcoholism and divorce. There’s a piece called Broken Wheel composed of four very separate pieces—on a friend’s death, love, writing, and the unspeaking between neighbors—that all somehow bleed into each other. There’s a great article on he and his girlfriend/wife/?’s reactions to a tornado and losing that feeling of being “safe.” Also, funny funny reprints of grade school report cards. All in all, a beautiful zine that’s really stuck with me. Well worth the two bucks.
Media Whore #2, $1/trade ($2 intnat’l), Randie Farmelant, 37 Home St, Malden MA 02148, email@example.com, www.mediawhorezine.com. Hey, two Randy/ies in a row. Now for something totally different…MW is “a unique feminist zine about the media” with a fab layout and content that’s smart and friendly enough for this not-too radical feminist. The main focus here is on reviewing other such feminist-friendly books, mags, sites, and movies as well critiquing the not-feminist-friendly mainstream media. It finds that balance between what’s still wrong with our media and what our culture is finally getting right. There’s a good cast of contributors, covering topics ranging from abortion in the prime time to Suicide Girls pornography to feminist filmmakers. There’s a little filler, but not enough to draw away from the strength of the zine itself.
Caryatid Rises $3, PO Box 380431, Cambridge MA 02238, CaryatidRises@yahoo.com. Having never been a mom (least not yet), I’m always a little nervous delving into a momzine, but there wasn’t a thing to worry about. CR offers up insight into child psychology which in turn, at least for me, gives a better understanding our lives and pasts. For the parents out there, CR tackles some pretty big issues: how do you teach peace when the gov’t says war is the only solution? How do you struggle to survive a breakup while still maintaining some sense of stability for your child? How do you navigate the child health care system or the Child Protective Services? An informed zine that steers clear of blanket statements or assumption with strong moms and M.D.s as contributors, CR is matter of fact, realistic and wholeheartedly supportive of parents who know that they know what’s best for their kids and who might want a great zine to read along the way.
Cultor Sore #15, $2 ppd, PO Box 68711, Va. Beach VA 23471, firstname.lastname@example.org. This zine means business. It’s got both ads and Herman Hesse quotations interspersed between on-the-brink-of-perfect articles. With a name change from the original Sore, Taylor starts off the intro having just moved, saying, “I’m trying to rebuild a type of family here, to blend myself back into friends’ lives.” Taylor wrestles with the balance between home and here, a misplacement of personal history, detachment from his previous life(style), a reformation of self, and digging some roots down where he is now. Zines about this kind of stuff goes straight to my heart. He’s also pulled in some great articles written by friends. I like Taylor and I like his friends. There’s also some zine, book and music reviews, and all in all, a whole lot of exceptional writing. I’m hooked.
Watch The Closing Doors #24, $2?, Fred Argoff. 1800 Ocean Parkway #F-10, Brooklyn NY 11223-3037. I (having only ever lived in the bustling metropolises of Ojai and Spokane) was in Chicago late last year and had my first experience with mass public transit. And I fell in love. Then this zine shows up to be reviewed and I fell in love all over again. This zine is about subways and only about subways (even though there is a little bit about trains too) with subway maps and subway pictures sprinkled here and there. A zine that’s admirable enough for its focus alone, it gets even better! Fred Argoff can write, with quirk and expertise and a commendable commitment to and obsession for the New York Mass Transit.
Musea (Art with Craft) #126 Nov ’03, FREE, Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dal. TX 75219, email@example.com. This is a half legal sized 8 page zine that I knew I’d like from the start. On the cover: a picture of a crystal ball reading fellow wearing the appropriate crystal ball reading turban with the feathery floofy things in the front, with the words, “I predict this hat will come back in style.” This is the fashion issue of Musea, containing line drawings and shadowed sketches of completely new seemingly unisex fashion muses and ideas. Opposite these drawings is running commentary and the genius behind each design. This zine covers everything from lab coats to prom getups, all with smart style (this coming from a not so fashion oriented meat and potatoes, jeans and tshirt kinda girl). Even for me, this stuff seems totally wearable, and clearly it should, since it follows Tom’s “Make fashion, not costume” mantra. When all’s said and done and worn, this zine is a fun little fashion fling definitely worth checking out.
No Better Voice #24 split with Suzzyis #1/2, NBV 764 Channing, Ferndale MI 48220, firstname.lastname@example.org. Two zines done by two friends, plowing straight through drunkenness, ex boyfriends, pot, mothers being sick, quiet boys from school dying, big hearts breaking, sex, bands, the cold spot in bed when you sleep alone. Both written on typewriters with some cut and paste and photographs, these zines, side by side, sometimes meander and other times go straight for the gut in withdrawn, cinematic retellings and memories of all the good parts and the hard parts of friends and living and love and loss. These are beautiful beautiful sad zines that stand well enough on their own, but together they echo between each other, more haunting, stronger than they were before.
Lilliput Review #134, $1 for 1, $5 for 6, $10 for 15, 282 Main St, Pittsburgh PA 15201. This is a fun little haiku infused 16 pg mini zine wonders of poetry. The only guideline for submission is that all poems must be 10 lines or less, and this, for those of us with poetic ADD, is perfect. The poems are accessible little snippets of moments and afterthoughts. A favorite aspect of LR is that they tell you where the poets are from. Pulling from a pool of international writers, there is a wide breadth of subject matter, but all the poems seem to blend nicely together. Maybe because they are short and there isn’t a whole lot to blend? Whatever the reason, I think it works. There’s also some great artwork to mingle with your poetry experience. LR is a great little zine to carry around in your back pocket or tuck inside an envelope, and a short but satisfying read.
Ingleside News (English Version) #12, Winter 2003, St Laurent ST Special, $2 US/CAN, $4 elsewhere, IsaBelle Bourret, 5591 St-Laurent, Levis QC G6V 3V6 Canada, email@example.com. Being a Francophone myself, I am always interested in French-Canadian zines. IsaBelle originally wrote this issue in French and later translated it into English. It’s entertaining enough reading through finding all the whims and slips of translating, but even sans dorky linguistic affinities, IN is a great read. IsaBelle narrates her return from British Columbia to her former town and all the nuances that go hand and hand with moving. There’s a rather surprisingly in-depth article about her cat getting castrated, as well as writing about Quebec City, and coming back to the house she grew up in. In the introduction she says that she’s left out some of the articles that appear in the French version, for the sake of saving time and sanity, and I’d be interested in seeing the missing chapters. All in all a pretty text heavy zine, but an engaging portrait of IsaBelle’s life.
P.O. Box 438
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
Julie Dorn is back in Ghana until June 2004. Read about her adventures in her zine, Junie in Georgia for only $2.00 an issue. PO Box 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002 or Junieingeorgia@hotmail.com.
Quest of the Moonbox by DB Pedlar. 25727 Cherry Hill Road, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403. Digest, 28 pages, $3.00
When I was a youngster, I longed to go on a quest. The Holy Grail, dragon searches, finding the remains of sunken ships—it all sparkled with mystery and devotion. I loved the idea of being consumed by a passion to follow any road that might lead me closer to my coveted prize. My home in Wisconsin severely limited these grand schemes. We lived too far out of the city to explore (not much to explore anyway in a town of 1,097 people in the middle of farmland) and long stretches of empty country roads didn’t really offer much intrigue. The closest I came was instead pretending to be lost amongst the big trees in our backyard, perceiving clues in the pine needles to reveal the direction home.
Thusly, I enjoyed QotM, not only because he shares his own quest (and rewards), but because of his quest’s implications. DB searches for a moon box, a vessel with which to store and collect moonlight. The romantic notions and folly involved in this journey, I think, are simply marvelous. In a world of instant information and a growing alienation among its populous, it’s easy to lose the wonder in nature’s puzzles. To summon a search for something so illusive and mystical reincarnates epic sagas of days long past, when beauty and honor meant more than security and routine. DB sums it up best. “Imagine those nights when the sky is cloudy and the moon cannot be seen. What a special gift it is to be able to whisk away dark, cloudy nights with moonlight stored inside your own special moon box. Or to be able to share the box of moonlight with someone you care for on a special night, or is experiencing a dark, c loudy night of their own.”
Follow DB as he collects his necessary supplies and launches his subsequent trips to flea markets, church and temple sales, and antique stores in search of his moon box. Share the thrilling conclusion to his quest, or perhaps be inspired to start one of your own.
Stainless Steel Lens #1 by Jennifer Dolan, PO Box 070674, Milwaukee, WI 53207. Digest, 24 pages, $1 in the U.S., $2 outside, trades available.
Back in college, when I’d finally settled on Art as my major (after Theatre, English, Spanish, Communications, Journalism and Creative Writing), I loathed writing artist’s statements. I hated it more than creating titles for my work (if I didn’t just give up and call it “Untitled #46” or “Untitled #598”). The first page of this photo zine contains Jen’s introduction, an honest and intelligent explanation of her motivations for her pictures. This is followed by a sort-of promo piece by R. John Xerxes Piche’ (who makes the zine Uncertain Nervous Systems) that is truly something to behold. Even though he’s not the artist, it reads like an artist’s statement, and one that I could never have written in a million years.
The first section of black and white pictures includes close-ups of tinsely Christmas decorations, animatrons and puppets from Disneyland, and deserted amusement park rides. The photos themselves seem more like snapshots than evocative art shots and much of the gradations of shading are muddied by the photocopying. Next is “Dust Bunny Jihad,” by R. John Xerxes Piche’, what seems to be a collection of thoughts and quotes on life in artificial spaces and urban decay. The last set of photos are the strongest, I think. Empty storefronts, graphittied and tattered piles of collapsed concrete and metal, deserted and dirty city corners, barred windows trapping in stuffed animal dogs. It made me wonder about the absence of people—how capturing these typical big-city scenes without the normal citizens occupying the space changes the mood. Who lives there? Where are they? What happens when public spaces lose their inhabitants and exist as empty, harsh landscapes?
All in all, a decent first issue, especially if you like photography.
Living Free #126 by Jim Stumm, Box 29-XD, Hiler Branch, Buffalo, NY 14223. Full 8 1/2 x 11 size, 8 pages, $2.00
If you’ve ever wondered how to make oil lamps for cheap lighting or how to build a pilgrim house, then look no further than Living Free, a political (libertarian?) zine. I’m not libertarian, and I don’t feel compelled to ship off to the hills to eliminate all government involvement in my life, but I can appreciate the sentiment. Besides, I always enjoy a glimpse into someone else’s philosophy when it differs from my own, even just to ponder what my life would be like if I had to grow my own food, build my own house and fight persecution from my community. (I’d probably freeze or be eaten by bears in about a week.)
LF also includes a correspondence with a Paul Doerr on his article about a primitive 1800’s farm he owned in Pennsylvania years ago, a letter from Sam on edible weeds, news articles on ethanol and carbon dioxide and digital TV. All the submissions are focused on escaping mainstream American consumeristic lifestyles and government controls, and the writing is generally strong and interesting. Again, not really my style, but a good read nonetheless.
Grackle #1 by Malinda, 1703 Southwest Parkway, Wichita Falls, TX 76302. Half-size, 28 pages, $1 or trade
I’d read the recent issue of Thoughtworm (by Sean Stewart) a while back, about adjusting to a new job and life in Texas. In it, Sean mentioned his partner, Malinda, but we never really heard her side of the story. In Grackle, it’s Malinda’s turn to share her own growing pains in a brand new town. I’m no stranger to moving because of my partner’s career trajectory, having uprooted myself twice to follow Jeremy (once to Atlanta and then to Ghana) while I tried to find my own place in cities I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. Malinda recounts the challenges of finding friends among the small-minded, homogenous majority in the town, shifting her transportation from a car to a bike, and seeking out both vegetarian food options and fun things to do. She does a really good job of conveying that sense of being a stranger in her new home, and struggling to find a balance between her former comforts and her new habits with in Wichita Falls.
Malinda’s voice is matter-of-fact, articulate and thorough. Personal without being uncomfortably revealing, Grackle provides a clear glimpse into a sliver of her life in Texas. A very promising first issue—with or without the companion reading to Thoughtworm.
Moonlight Chronicles #35 by Dan Price, Box 109, Joseph, OR 97846. Half-size, 102 pages, $5.00
God dammit, I loved this zine. I read it all in one gulp and then went back to savor the small treats within its pages. For years I’ve been itching to draw more. My own scribbles in my zines show my lack of practice and accuracy. Despite my longings, drawing is something I can easily put off in lieu of other things (eating cake, rearranging my paper piles, walking around). After reading MC, I wanted to sharpen my pencils and draw draw draw. (This is quite exceptional since I’m still scarred from my college level drawing classes. The prof didn’t give a shit whether we learned anything or not. He’d often announce that our classtime would be dedicated to sketching something out of the big wooden cabinet while he retreated to his office, only to reemerge at the end of class in order to offer criticism on our lack of drawing abilities. We’d all groan and choose one of the three main items inside—-bones, pinecones or bottles. I hated the tedious shadowing involved in bone drawing, and my bottles came out looking like lumpy robots. So I chose the pinecones again and again. Big, small, half torn apart, pointy. Finally I started drawing my hand or someone’s backpack, but the experience indelibly created a Pavlov response in my head. When I think of drawing, I instantly feel my heart sink and imagine a steady stream of pinecones.)
Anyway, Dan is a master. Besides having the ability to draw exceptionally well, he shares stories from his life immersed in lovely doodles. Since he draws constantly, Dan is concerned with keeping the act of drawing as fresh as possible. He includes suggestions to use both sides of the brain or ways to see something new in an old topic. (Like drawing upside down, completing an entire sketch without lifting the pencil, or having two people draw the same thing.) Travel is also a big part of MC, and Dan often stops along the route to quickly pencil in an interesting bit of scenery. (This is something I see a lot of in other art-per-zines and is a very good idea.) The zine is well-crafted, entertaining, beautiful and inspiring. Well worth the dough, especially if it gets rusty sketchers like me to move our pencils.
224 Moraine St., Brockton MA 02301
Howdy, folks. How are you are doing on this fine day in this fine election year of 2004? I really have nothing all that interesting to say in this intro. By the time you read this a new issue of Fish with Legs has either just appeared or is just about to appear and boy oh boy, let me tell you that it is sure to be a hum dinger. You know something? Davida should start giving us reviewers some sort of “Question of the issue” of some sort that we would all have something to say in our intros and don’t have to just babble on like morons. Something sort of zine related or small press related or maybe even just a general interest question so you can know the reviewer a little better. That’s a pretty good idea, is it not? Anyhow, on with the reviews…
READ magazine #23- Funny thing, I just realized that I have no idea whether to pronounce the title of this zine REED or RED. Sounds like a minor detail, but picture this scenario- Joe Q. Zinereader walks into his local zine selling establishment and says to the clerk “Excuse me.”
“Yyyeeessss?” the clerk replies like the guy on the Simpsons who’s based on the guy who was on the Jack Benny Show.
“I was wondering if you carried RED magazine. It is a topical variety zine with an emphasis on humor fun and music. That swell fellow Eric Lyden recommended it in the latest Xerography Debt and I was wondering if you carried it.”
“Oh heavens! No, we do not carry that zine which is quite shocking because normally we try to carry any zine that handsome and charismatic young fellow Eric Lyden recommends. But we do carry REED magazine which sounds quite similar to the one you are looking for.”
“I’m sure this REED is a fine zine, but I had my heart set on reading RED and I fear I can accept no substitutes. I guess I will go home now and commit suicide because the disappointment weighs so heavily on my soul.”
“And I guess I will have to go home and murder my entire family because I have been driven insane by the notion that I could not help a customer.”
See all the death and destruction that has been wreaked because of this zine’s title? At any rate, I enjoyed this zine very much. This is the conspiracy issue and most of the conspiracy related articles are pretty funny/interesting. The Rick Springfield and Iron Maiden articles are pretty lame and easily the worst of the issue, but the alcoholic and Real World ones are really funny so it all evens out. The zine also contains reviews and interviews, some of which are actually somewhat amusing and compelling. I mean, most of the interviews with the lame ass punk bands are dull because they’re clearly done by e mail and there’s no give and take (though I did enjoy the one where all the reviewers questions were about Journey. that was funny.) but the one they did with Sherman Alexis (who wrote Smoke Signals) was quite interesting and the Bouncing Souls interview was pretty good as well. There are also some e-mail interviews done with comedians Jim Norton and Greg Giraldo which are sorta schticky, but still funny. But most bands just have nothing interesting to say (though the Angry Amputees guy was pretty interesting) so they really just oughta stick to music. Still, all and all I enjoyed this zine a lot. A lot of semi lame band interviews, but you could just ignore them and still get your moneys worth. Send $2 to READ Magazine, PO Box 3437, Astoria, NY 11103; www.readmag.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Oh yeah, I just wanna say that the guy who reviewed the movie Gigli in this zine is dead on accurate. Read the thing to see what I mean.
Zine Solar System #1 This is Yul Tolbert’s review zine which he started up again because of some bizarre beef he has with Zine World. I can see his point, but to say that Jerianne “prefers to publish ZW slowly and inefficiently” is stretching things quite a bit too far. It’s true that ZW has sort of fallen off from it’s desired quarterly schedule, but these things happen when you’re dealing with a project that at best barely breaks even and is done in people’s spare time because all too often real life gets in the way. Instead of being annoyed at ZW’s schedule we should be happy it exists at all. But I’ll give Yul credit- he had a beef with ZW and instead of sitting around whining he decided to do something about it and published his own review zine. And it’s a fine resource- it features the cover and a brief excerpt of every zine it reviews, but the problem is that for a for a review zine the reviews are sort of slim. They describe the basic contents of every zine, but they don’t offer an opinion as to whether they’re good or bad or at all and I just have a hard time calling something a review zine that contains no opinions on the zines reviewed. A decent enough resource, but don’t order this looking for hard-hitting opinions. Oh yeah, and this zine also contains a section of comics at the end that range from “Not bad” to “pretty good” Send $1.50 to Yul Tolbert, PO Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202-9998; email@example.com; http:// timeliketoons.tripod.com/zss.
Incendiary Words vol. 3 #7- I gotta admit, when I saw the title of this zine I expected this zine to be some sort of angry political manifesto. So imagine my surprise when I started reading and found out it was a zine about soccer. I have to admit, I’m no soccer expert, but I am a fan of niche zines like this. I’m not a soccer fan. Maybe you’re not a soccer fan. But somewhere out there are a bunch of soccer fans and if there’s room out there for 7,985 zines about punk music there must be room for just one soccer zine. And I must say, the lead article on the United Soccer Boosters Convention was pretty interesting. A must read for anyone with a pulse? Nah, but interesting enough to this non-soccer fan. Send $1 to Steve De Rose, 4821 W Fletcher St. #2, Chicago, IL 60641-5113.
One Fine Mess #3- As I read this zine I tried to imagine how it was produced and I came to the conclusion that it must be some sort of competition between Erin and Dan. See, first Erin writes a kick ass, really funny article on her work history and then she hands it to her hubby Dan and says “Top this, Buster.” so he goes off for a while and returns with an article on his unemployment that is equally kick ass and funny and hands it to Erin and says “Chew on this one, Hoochie Mama.” and then Erin considers it her solemn duty to top Dan once again so she then writes an article on her vegetarianism that is both funny and thought provoking so then Dan has to go and try to top this one by writing about his smoking habit and this insane writing competition just keeps going and going and the end result is one truly kick ass zine. Great writing, great production, great use of clip art. For the love of Pete, this is an awesome zine. I just wish it came out more often. Send $2 or a trade to Erin Q and Dan, 71 Storm St. Apt. 2C, Tarrytown, NY 10591; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Arizona #4- the Bathroom Review Issue- “War this and war that. No matter how you feel about it, everyone eventually has to take a shit.” Word to that. Not that I have anything against reading about the war, it’s just that in recent months I’ve read several zines about the war and precious few zines that review public bathrooms. Funny stuff here. I’m really not sure why I found it so appealing, but I did with all the descriptions of various toilets and various anecdotes about things that happened in these bathrooms. I sorta wish the pictures of the toilets were in color because that would be sorta neat, but you can’t have everything. But the whole zine isn’t just bathrooms reviews. Joe also writes about his trip to Amsterdam and while he tries to include some toilet related content (including a very rare photo of Anne Frank’s toilet) but he does sort of drift away from the whole toilet theme here. So it’s light on the toilet content, but there’s plenty of hooker, booze and weed content so that sorta makes up for it. And really, how sad would it have been for the guy to travel all the way to Amsterdam just to write about toilets and nothing else. I really liked this zine. I don’t know if it’s always this banal and silly, but I sorta hope it is. Send $1 or a trade to Joe Unseen, PO Box 494, Brewster, NY 10590; email@example.com.
Musea #124 The Architecture issue-this is a 8 page zine in which Tom Hendricks describes and sketches imaginary buildings he’d like to live in, work and visit. This is pretty cool and fun to read. I’m not sure how many of the buildings designed are actually feasible and could really exist, but I guess that’s sorta beside the point. Worth checking out. Free or trade to Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas, TX 75219; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://musea.digitalchainsaw.com.
Sleep Not Work #1 This is David’s first issue and for the most part it’s pretty good. It’s mostly stuff that has been rejected from other publications, much of it unjustly (there’s one piece-the very first piece in the zine, actually, that’s just really, really bad and almost unreadable. The funny thing is that he admits as much. I mean, if it was rejected by KOOP [whatever that is] and he doesn’t argue with this decision what makes him think it’s good enough to put in his zine. But the piece is actually well written in it’s own way, it’s more “failed experiment bad” than “Badly written bad”) There are a couple of fairly interesting articles on hip hop in here including an article on a guy named MC Paul Barman which actually made me curious to find out what exactly he was all about which is no small feat considering my usual apathy towards rap, a long (maybe too long) interview with Themselves and a record review that goes on for 4 pages which is actually pretty cool if only because it shows the guy knows what he’s talking about. But to me, the best part of this zine was the travel writing- a piece on wandering around Kansas City with a ridiculous haircut and a piece on his trip to Mexico which I thought was the best piece of the issue because, as the author puts it, it was “written informally, without a lot of the literary excess I’m normally so into” which shows and ... yeah, formality and literary excess are fine, but when you’re doing a zine you really don’t need them. The piece on his Mexico trip just seems more relaxed than the rest of the zine and as a result is more effective than much of the rest of the zine. Send $1 to David Morris, 2318 LaFayette, Austin, TX 78722; email@example.com.
Choking Hazard #13 This zine is by someone named Ziggy Cyanide which makes me wish I had a cool punk rock name like that. Then again, Ziggy ain’t that cool of a name. I mean, you ever read that comic strip? Man oh man is it awful. I sure as hell wouldn’t name myself after that. Anyhow, this is a good zine. Not great, but good. It’s just that it doesn’t offer much of anything new- a typical mix of personal, political, social articles with some reviews mixed in. All of it is good, but nothing really stood out to me as being great. There’s an article with Al Barr of the Dropkick Murphys, which I liked because I like the band. And Ziggy’s observations on the Warped Tour are dead on- I went this year mainly because it was literally down the street from where I live so I figured it was worth my while to go. There really was an insane amount of commercialism there. Insane. And the woman manning the Fat Wreck Chords booth actually yelled at me for not giving her a tip when I bought a $6 t-shirt. Kinda fucked up if you ask me. Anyhow, if you’re into punk type zines this one is well worth taking a look at. Send $1 to Ziggy Cyanide, 12 Marylea Ave. 2nd Fl. Rear, Pittsburgh, PA 15227
P.S. I should also mention that this issue comes with the First Ever Choking Hazard Summer Swimsuit Edition Mini-zine. Most of the folks in here are wearing more than just swimsuits, but it’s still pretty neat...
P.O. Box 246
Fox River Grove, IL 60021
An Asian woman, about in her 50s, stood planted at the edge of the street. She wore an old gray coat. She was draped with plastic bags full of, I guess, groceries, and she was screaming at me in what must have been Chinese.
Her eyes got big, her face got red. She had bad teeth. She paused every seven seconds or so, as if to catch her breath and think, and then resumed screaming. I walked on.
Sarah, head down, scooted past her to catch up with me. The woman screamed at Sarah, too, another series (it might have been the same series) of disjointed, ferocious-sounding words or phrases – incomprehensible until Sarah got about five feet away from her.
“White powder on the face!” the woman screamed then, in perfect English. Sarah picked up her pace, not looking back, but touched her cheek.
“Do I … ?” No. She didn’t have any more powder on her face than usual.
When we got out of range, the woman began screaming at other people – people churning along the packed sidewalk, so she must have been upset about something other than pedestrians using the street, as we had done.
This happened weeks ago in San Francisco’s Chinatown. We still talk about it. We say, “White powder on the face!” to each other at unexpected times.
I wish I could know what the woman was screaming at me. Was she being critical – attacking, as it seemed – or did she simply lack volume control when she verbalized her thoughts on the passing scene? Had we stayed, I thought, we might have heard more of her cryptic screaming mixed with sudden loud but innocent remarks in English. “Doc Martens on the feet!” That sort of thing.
But the woman more likely had been seized by the rage-in-every-direction that overtakes many (though hardly all) insane people. We’d probably have heard barks such as, “Frumpy dress!” and “Going bald on top!” and “Fat ass!”
When I sat down to write my string of reviews, I considered the Chinatown event. Somehow I’ve become a judge. Am I the screaming woman? I hope not. I think of myself as more in line with Blake, who said, “Enthusiasm is the All in All!” and “Enthusiastic admiration is the First Principle of Knowledge and its last.” I’ve tried to be enthusiastic about everything Davida sent me.
Blake also said, “I will not Reason & Compare. My business is to Create!” (He was fond of capital letters and exclamations.) Yet here I am reasoning and comparing, at least to Some Degree! Oh well. Like the lady in Chinatown and many of the rest of us, Blake eventually Went Mad!
My zine is BIG PINCH WORLD. Though possibly not a “beautiful and exalted thing” (the only kind pleasing to God, Blake said), you can get issue #1 of it from me for $2 or trade at P.O. Box 246, Fox River Grove, IL 60021; firstname.lastname@example.org.
White powder on the face!
The self-consciously “middle-class, almost middle-aged,” divorced Bob (even his marriage breakup was the “obligatory middle-class” variety) goes out of his way to epitomize the attitudes of his demographic. So much that, if you ask me, he is a man quietly screaming to get out. “I shudder to think of the day that I see some 70-year-old woman with saggy breasts, a ‘budge,’ a nose ring and stretched-out ear lobe. I don’t think that even Norman Rockwell would be able to find charm in that slice of Americana.” Come on, Bob. Forget about the “saggy breasts,” which have nothing to do with piercings; they have to do with what happens when women get old (and are beautiful in certain way to the old men who love them)! His later rant on “morals and money in middle America” is refreshing and shows a different Bob. He blows up at a stupid kid at the copy shop who thinks Bob is making porno because of some silly illustration. The kid’s “average-American brain is screaming at the top of its lungs that it doesn’t trust what it’s trying to absorb.” Go, Bob! I think of this as the chrysalis Bob; the Bob that is coming to be. Bob, you want a “budge” and a nose ring and maybe a tattoo. Admit it. Get them. Go forward, even if you lose the middle-class office job. Meanwhile, everybody else put down coin to experience Bob. He means well. He is finding his way, and he is capable of good sentences. (P.S. What’s a “budge”? Never heard of it, and I have bangles hanging off dozens of my body holes.) Sixteen pages for $1.50 “via distros only” or trade. Bob’s pretty-interesting website is www.njghost.com, where you can read, shop and learn how to make a brick walkway around your home, as well as how to remove paint from external surfaces. Contact email@example.com, or Bob Sheairs, 30 Locust Ave., Westmont, NJ 03108. (Kidding about the bangles.)
INCENDIARY WORDS, VOL. IV #1, DEC. 2003
Soccer. This is about soccer and about Internet security, though not about the relationship between the two, which you must explore for yourself. Bits of the soccer writing are pretty good, impressionistic: “He stepped away from the defensive wall, and the ensuing kick zipped through the crevasse created by his movement.” As for Internet security, Steve says the main avenue through which cyberspace’s “ne’er-do-wells” attack is through your Web browser, and Explorer is “so full of bad code, security breaches and privacy leaks that I strongly urge you to dump it.” Wouldn’t you know, that’s the browser I use! He offers ways to thwart the ne’er-do-wells but “the downside of this is it will require a good deal of work from you.” Forget that. I went back to reading the soccer articles which, like the game itself, I didn’t fully understand. Hardly a must-have unless you are a soccer fanatic, but the six and one half pages cost no more than a single clam to Steve De Rose, PQRS Ltd., 4821 W. Fletcher St. #2, Chicago, IL 60641-5113.
LUCKY NUMBER TWELVE (Issue # 10)
Bloomington, Indiana’s David Coonce, a deep-dyed romantic “pushing 30,” offers himself up in a fine and direct way. The man can put words together; his heart is strong. What more could you want? Some relationships – the man is all about relationships - have “a starting and ending point,” he writes. “It’s magical and exhilarating for a few months or years or whatever, and then either it keeps getting better or it sort of stagnates. It reaches a logical end, and if both people have their wits about them, they can walk away relatively unscathed. You miss them, and you’re sad, but mostly you remember the beginning.” Coonce remembers well, with matured sentiment and regret that he refuses to let overtake him. This is wistful, lovely work, 72 pages’ worth for $2 (no trades) from David Coonce, 1030 W. 5th St., Bloomington, IN 47404. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARKTIME #71, THE BOB HOPE MEMORIAL ANNUAL HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR ISSUE
On high-quality 8.5 x 11 yellow paper with colored inks, this looks like one of those annoying holiday family-update letters. It begins that way, too, but Mark’s candid, plainspoken style draws you into his world: his bid for a career in public transit, his romance with Andrea – they met online in late 2002; her kids don’t like Mark - and his experiments in dining around Fullerton. Yo. He “goes for the turkey meatloaf and huge selection of fruit pies” at Polly’s. Mark went for Andrea in a big way, too. During their August 2003 weekend touring the wineries of Temecula for her birthday, that rascal busted out an engagement ring! “I presented it knowing she was not in a hurry for a second marriage, however I did want to show my commitment to at the very least a permanent loving, caring, monogamous relationship.” What happened? “Sweetie accepted.” She could not do otherwise, for Mark is a gentleman. Stay tuned about the kids. Four pages for $2 cash/stamps to Mark Strickert, Box 6753, Fullerton, CA 92834. Comments to him at 9050 Carron Dr. #273, Pico Rivera, CA 90660 or email@example.com.
NIGHT JAUNTS #1 (October 2003)
Here’s “a themed perzine about walking the streets at night” by Ryan Mishap, who likes roaming cities after dark. His meanderings have been “a source of adventure, of comfort; a space to deal with what’s in my head; sometimes it has been scary.” Many of us know this. We are of Ryan’s ilk. Like a kind of Steppenwolf, he skulks Portland with his friend Larry. He walks Ashland – high on LSD (he doesn’t like pot or wine) – with his friend Maisie. He walks his Eugene, where he lives. “So much in a small town, to see or avoid. Like the other people out in the night. I steered clear of the drunk college kids exiting the bar; of the well-heeled theater patrons tramping back to the Bed and Breakfast; of the cops, not always with success. I didn’t want contact, ‘cos I was on my own, alone, and sad about it. So, that’s a cycle, stuck in your own head, but I dealt with it by walking.“ The life Ryan describes is as much mood as activity; there is trouble, and strange joy. Included in this inaugural issue are an essay by prison inmate James Duane and a fine poem/story made of typed paper strips by Francis Hopewell called “Frat Boys, Cops and a Full Bladder.” Ryan has issue #2 in the works. He wants contributors. “I’d love to be putting out issue number seven and not have any of my writing in it,” he says, but that would be a shame. Twenty-four pages, free/trade/donation to Ryan Mishap, P.O. Box 5841, Eugene, OR 97405. Mishapzine@yahoo.com.
PASSIONS #33 (August 2003)
A co-op journal of which members (who help pay production costs) get a fancy spiral-bound copy, but anybody can buy a sample for $3.50. Whadda ya got inside? A mishmash, a hodgepodge, a veritable jumble: shop at will. The opening piece on editor Ken Bausert’s birthday party – he got tickets plus plane fare to see Neil Young in Vegas – is OK. So is Joe Torcivia’s longish tracking of the Flying Dutchman (ship) legend. Ditto Brent Swanson’s hard-to-believe ghost story, which involves finding a marble in his shoe. There’s other stuff, such as an account of Christopher Barat’s wedding, a flat “Suburban Views” by Arnie Hollander, and a sort-of profile of bygone model Diane Webber by admiring Bob Koenig. I found the main value in Mark Strickert’s contributions (see MarkTime review, above), which provides more about his beloved Andrea and a photo of her in Mark’s backyard. Hot! All in all, Passions is more of a club than anything else, where guys can write about their hobbies and families. Girls can write, too, of course; Esther Sara Jackman adds a couple of pieces she composed as part of a feature-writing course at a local university. “Now, thanks to Passions, there’s a place for them other than my desk drawer.” Ahem. Plenty to read here, anyway. Many (not numbered) pages, $3.50 to Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Dr., East Meadow, NY 11554-1120.
READ Magazine #22
Some marvelous mag-style writing (emphasis on “humor, fun and music”: well said) in the “Work” issue, featuring many pieces about lousy jobs - though Your Humble Reviewer confesses he didn’t read the entire magazine (time constraints, attention deficit disorder). He read most of it, and each piece was a pleasure. Davida tells me I must send all materials back to her so I shall order another copy of Read from the makers and finish it off, gleefully. Highlights? I don’t know where to start, but credit must be given for the interview with the wrongly neglected author Matt Ruff, and for the slash-and-burn “Ask Mr. Lawyer” column by Dave Barringer, who’s especially strong with his advice to some poor guy whose sub-par sexual performance supposedly got him sued. There’s a lot to like here. A lot. Far-and-away worth the measly $2 for 100 pages to P.O. Box 3437, Astoria, NY 11103. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. A scrip is $12 for 4 issues. Man, I’d do it.
TROUSER CHILI #4 (July 2003)
Satirizing pop culture is like fighting a blind man or foot-racing a cripple: You can’t lose, and it will be funny only when the blind guy lands a lucky punch or you fall down and the cripple mows you over with his wheelchair. Still, the detailed exuberance of Trouser Chili’s vulgarity might appeal to certain types. Waldo Thomas Frank relates his distress over a near car crash, for example, telling how he can’t shake the bad feeling. “Even a truck stop encounter when some old boozer shoved his veiny wanker through a gloryhole while I was taking an extremely foul-smelling dump in the rest room couldn’t lighten my mood,” he writes. It’s in the particulars: The wanker is “veiny,” the dump is “extremely foul-smelling” (and it’s taken “in the rest room.” Good place.) The bogus Parade Magazine, with a Catherine Zeta-Jones profile, Jim Brady sidebar and re-captioned Family Circus comics, seem authentic until you begin to read. Then a guilty laughing horror creeps over you (or not). Frank must have had a grand time putting this together, even the fake Chinese restaurant ad on the back page, featuring entrees named after – whoa! – cats. Not for everybody, but what is? Let out your inner teenage boy, if you got one (and I don’t mean locked in the basement) and send two bucks. 32 pages from Waldo Thomas Frank, 2910 Sycamore St., Alexandria, VA 22305.
UNDERWORLD CRAWL #1
This one wasn’t in my fat packet of Davida-sent goodies and I know I’m getting verbose here (who, me?) but I had to tell you about it. Subtitled “Monophonic Rustbelt Zine Pulp,” it came to my attention after Brant Kresovich (who puts out For the Clerisy, a review zine for lovers of the written word) wrote to say my Big Pinch World reminded him of Underworld Crawl, which I promptly sent for. A zine “wage-slave delirium and Rust Belt blues,” Crawl offers noir-type tales that start out with lines like, “Everything turned to shit, so I thought it best to leave town” and “I awoke from unsettling dreams to discover myself transformed into a busboy and dish washer at a restaurant named Le Mange.” (At least he didn’t get transformed into a giant insect.) In the memorable “High Above Your World,” the protagonist sits on his front porch drinking, reading Celine, and is treated to the site of his neighbor tumbling off the roof. Things like this occur in the world. A person watches them, and drinks. R. Lee (this is all we know of the author’s name) comes off as tough, broken, hopeful, hopeless, a straight-on writer and the type of guy I’d like to have a beer with, if I had beers with people. Buy it. Two bucks from R. Lee, P.O. Box 1421, Oshkosh, WI 54903.
WE ARE ALWAYS HERE #6
Another one not in my review packet (OK! I’m stopping). Later in the San Francisco adventure described in my preamble above, I found this one whilst browsing Modern Times Bookstore in the Mission. It’s a thick, pleasant-to-hold, juicy-to-read chronicle, “a year-long process, beginning last summer when I moved to Montreal (in love) to the autumn & winter (no longer in love), back to Virginia, & now back again to Montreal, a place that I proudly call home.” Stitched binding and wrapped in a rubber band, with the finest primitive-looking art and typography, Always Here is full of winsome passages about friends, quilting, and veganism. Folded into a pouch inside the back cover are two wee art booklets: “I Want You to Know” and “My Bus Ride from Ottawa.” Very fine. I think of this at do-it-yourself at its sweetest near best. No price on it but they charged me $2 at the bookstore. Order from Julia, 765 Champagneur #2, Montreal QC H2V 3P9, Canada. Contact Julia@riseup.net.
Shannon Zirkle’s funny/sad composition book of school and personal writings with photos is designed with the familiar, mottled black cover. It includes a letter when she was in seventh grade to her mother. She addresses Mom by her first name, Brenda. “I think I should start calling you that, now that I really know that you must not love me as much as your other two daughters,” Shannon writes. Outrages are listed. Another letter from summer camp to her father – in rounded script and festooned with hearts and XO’s – is followed by her eulogy for him, after he died of cancer. There’s also an early letter to schoolmate Jonathan, in which Shannon (who prefers to sign her notes “Scarlet,” because she likes the name) clarifies that she is “not obsessed” with Jonathan, as others have claimed. “Another thing is that I’m happy most of the time except when assholes or bitches are around,” she informs him. “Bet your wondering who the little birdy is! P.S. Lose the attitude. Your not all that.” Thirty-six pages, full of life, for a steal: $1 plus two stamps (or trade). Get this one. Shannon Zirkle, P.O. Box 411, Mt. Airy, MD 21771. Shannonzirkle@hotmail.com.
PO Box 2235, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
FANZINE FANATIQUE Autumn 2003
(trade from Keith & Rosemary Walker / 6 Vine Street / Lancaster LA1 4UF /
Keith Walker’s FANZINE FANATIQUE is a quaint reviewzine of sorts that consists of “[c]omments on fanzines received”. The reviews are written in a conversational manner and, in some cases, even include personal remarks for an audience of one (the reviewee). One thing I like about FF is the variety of stuff discussed. He lists the zines alphabetically but if he were to use categories you’d see SF (and its various sub-categories), poetry, mail art, comics, perzines, lit and more. Some of those categories I rarely get to read about any more - probably since FACTSHEET 5 ended and that’s been a long time.
(send a stamp to Alan Reynoso / 2902 Cole St. #211 / Austin, TX / 78705 USA.)
Taking his cue from Ben White’s SNAKE PIT, Tim Doyle’s AMAZING ADULT FANTASY and others, Alan Reynoso’s been doing this monthly diary comic for over a year now (this is not the most recent issue). As I read more and more of these diary comics (which I tend to enjoy) I find I’ve run out of words to describe them. They’re diary comics. Alan writes and draws about his daily life: work, recreation, football, the comic, his girlfriend, etc. Along the way are a few funny gags. If you like diary comics, send for it; a stamp is a heck of a deal. If you’re feeling lucky send a handful of stamps and get DUMBLUCK every month.
($3.00 US, $5.00 international from Richard Howell / PO Box 4425 /
Chattanooga, TN / 37405 USA. Web: members.aol.com/boggob. Adult Content)
BOG-GOB is a Chattanooga-area zine (free locally) that, thankfully, has much more to offer than local content. This issue is horror-themed and in that vein (haha) offers up an interview with creepy local band Needles, one mans’ quest for the elusive Mud Monster, knowledgeable reviews (horror-related tv, movies and zines, including a focus on Something Weird Video), trivia, poetry, old ads, Rev. Will’s imaginary horror team-ups (some funny stuff in there) and a couple of short stories (one of which is pretty disturbing). Not necessarily in the horror vein are CD reviews, an interview with Hygopian (another local band) and Spoot Lepedus’ article on Jesus-like tv characters (funny, and the only bit of his work I enjoyed this issue).
OUTSIDE IN #50
($2.00 from Bruce Chrislip / 2113 Endovalley Dr. / Cincinnati, OH / 45244 USA)
OUTSIDE IN is a zine of artist self-portraits that was begun by Steve Willis (CRANIUM FRENZY) in 1983 and has gone through several different publishers over the years. The most recent, Bruce Chrislip, has decided to bring the 20-year project to an end with issue number 50. Contributing self-portraits to this landmark issue are P. Williams (cover), Erik Sutter-Kaye, Lee Kennedy, Linda Vik, Billy McKay, Larned Justin, Matt Dembicki, Marc van Elburg, Ben T. Steckler, Christoph Meyer and Eric Reynolds - quite a diverse line-up. There’s also a drawing of R. Crumb by editor Chrislip. My favorite self-portrait in this collection is Eric Reynolds’. I’m pretty sure he’s not actually a duck but it’s a nice drawing just the same.
I don’t know how to measure OUTSIDE IN’s impact on the comix world but I can tell you it’s an important project. I only wish I’d become aware of it prior to the late ‘80s as I’m still missing most of the early issues. It seems a shame to see it formally end but who knows, maybe someone else will be inspired to start a similar project one of these days. Any takers?
For more on the history of this long-running zine check out the article at http://www.angelfire.com/zine/poopsheet/outsidein.htm.
WATUSI, THE TALKING DOG #4 & 5
($1.00 + a stamp each from Dale Martin / PO Box 442612 / Lawrence, KS / 66044 USA. Web: http://home.swbell.net/grizmart/watusi.html)
I really dig jam comics and just don’t see enough of ‘em in print these days. For this project one-page jam strips are passed around to anyone who’s interested and then the completed pages are published. Each of these issues also contains one unfinished jam for readers to work on, so the interactive aspect is great. These two issues feature Watusi jams by editor Dale Martin, Steve Peters, Steve Skeates, Matt Feazell, Jennifer Hachigian, Scott Roberts, Randy Zimmerman, Steve Willhite and many others. It’s a fun concept and the book has a nice, clean layout. Also, #4’s got a report (which I quite enjoyed) on the SPACE 2003 show and #5’s got a tribute to Steve Skeates.
SAVAGE JUNGLE TALES PRESENTS AMAZON GAZONGA
(B-Brand Comix c/o Enrico Teodorani / via Ca’Nova 215-S. Andrea in Bagnolo / 47020 Pievesestina di CESENA (FC) / ITALY. Web: http://digilander.libero.it/mupis. Mature Readers)
This is essentially good ol’ T&A, B-Brand Comix’s bread and butter. This one, however, differs from most of their output in that it’s a humor book and the artwork is more cartoony. Creator Jason Waltrip’s artwork is part Archie/part manga and works pretty well with the subject matter. The story concerns jungle boy Andu (presumably a teenager) who befriends an exiled Amazon woman who, conveniently for our young friend, is unschooled in the sex department. So while there is the aspect of innocence/naïveté on the part of the woman, it’s not a story about conquest. Andu, struggling with his own libido, does his best to cope with his desires and avoid embarrassment. It’s not that it’s a deep story of great meaning; it’s that it’s not about taking advantage that makes this story more agreeable with my views. More to the point, it’s fun, it’s sexy and there are some good jokes (particularly in the realm of physical comedy and reaction shots).
1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464 Chicago, IL 60622
Hello, my name is Matt. I do a zine called MENISCUS and a comic series called LOVE, and I have a soft spot for punks. Apparently, Davida has figured out my secret, as my stack of zines is filled with pale young people who smell of weed and sassy BO, listen to loud music, and have trouble holding down a job for more than a couple of weeks at a time. I couldn’t be happier!
PICK YOUR POISON #4
digest-size, 64 pages, $2
Nate Gangelhoff, PO Box 8995, Minneapolis, MN 55408
How often do zines make me laugh out loud? Not nearly as often as they used to, and I can’t tell if that means I’m jaded, I’ve grown more sophisticated, or zines just aren’t as good anymore. But PICK YOUR POISON made me laugh out loud more than once, even when I was resisting!
We’ve all written our version of this zine. In his fourth issue, Nate embarks on the sizeable task of describing the litany of tedious jobs he worked in his youth – a project that proved so colossal he has been forced to split it into two installments. The result is a familiar cavalcade of slacker temp work and misguided stoner ethics, instantly relatable and set ablaze by Nate’s gift for humorous self-reflection. Without the second installment (or the earlier issues) I can’t tell how far he’s come, whether this lifestyle is yesterday’s news or ancient history, but he tells the stories with a wry reflexive quality, and without the apologist tendencies of a person who regrets the choices he has made. Nate can laugh at himself as well as his co-workers, and revels in the absurd experiences he’s notched into his belt.
The common denominator – and catalyst – for most of these tales is marijuana. Nate (the younger version, the character in the stories) is clearly a smart kid, but he’s not in college and he loves to be stoned. And hell, he’s a goddam kid. All he really has to do is get by for a while, so why shouldn’t he have the opportunity to live that way? He works all day at a terrible job for the right to do nothing and be stupid with his friends all night.
These friends, who share Nate’s taste in work and recreation, provide a colorful foil for his sense of humor, and the stories he tells are very entertaining. His friend Dave, for example, was working in an office. Through a set of circumstances that only a young temping stoner can devise, he ended up with a small bong locked inside his file drawer, with no key, on the night that his bosses were going to move all his stuff to a different cubicle. The story was told in such a hilarious, matter-of-fact way that I laughed out loud, and then I had to read it to my boyfriend, who also laughed out loud.
Nate is a talented writer, and PICK YOUR POISON is a good long read. It’s a lot of fun and at two bucks this is a bargain!
AUTOMATIC ROBOTICS REVISED #1
½ legal size, 48 pages, $4 US/ $5 elsewhere, “maybe” trades
Damon Belanger, PO Box 311, Belmont, CA 94002-0311
There is a hodgepodge quality to this zine, where comic strips, sketchbook artwork, and cut-and-paste narrative hang together in a fairly interesting way. Many of the comics involve the duo of a teddy bear and an unusual quadruped known as a “duck-dog”, telling old jokes and insulting each other. The illustrations are intentionally primitive, and suffused with a sort of embittered whimsy that I enjoyed. There’s also a long, very serious story about a hunting accident that incorporates the duck-dog, which was rather unusual. The story was good, and went a long way toward creating a sense of a self-contained universe in the pages of the zine. Overall, it was a nice read, though the price seemed a little high. The cover appears to be a color photocopy, which are usually expensive. And while some of the sketchbook pictures are nice, they are presented one to a page, and there’s like twenty of them. I hate to say it, but even though I liked the zine I don’t think I would buy it… there’s something to be said for learning to make frugal use of your resources. No matter how much people love your work, you’ll probably never profit from a zine, so you need to bite the bullet and produce it as cheaply as you can. If you have free access to color copies, more power to you, but don’t indulge that urge if you have to pass the cost along.
AS THE MILLER TOLD HIS TALE the art of John Miller
published by candid cartoons
digest size, 32 pages, $2 US/ $3 Canada and Mexico
c/o Larned Justin
PO Box 471, House Springs, MO 63051
trades 2-for-1: one copy of your zine for Larned Justin, and one for John Miller
The multitalented, multitasking Larned Justin has put together this collection of comic strips spanning a ten-year period in the career of John Miller, an artist who resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The comics are short, fast-moving stories that have roots in science fiction, spy thrillers, pop music and the artist’s own childhood. There is so much energy and zeal in these strips that it’s hard not to appreciate them, but after a while Miller’s style becomes somewhat dizzying. The panels are densely packed, with black backgrounds, very little open space, and lots of dialogue rendered in very angular penmanship. Most of the strips are only one page long, but the format requires such a high ratio of text that many panels have just a sliver of image right in the middle, sandwiched between a speech balloon and a narrative box. Sometimes this is appropriate and it works, but I often found myself wishing he could have taken an extra page to tell the story, and let the pictures loosen up a little. Then again, I don’t know the size of the actual artwork, or how it was originally presented, or whether Miller expected anybody to read so many of the comic strips right in a row. Taken one by one, the comics are quite interesting and unusual, and his “never-a-dull-moment-on-stage” approach to filling the panels is completely appropriate in the short term. But there are a few full-page illustrations included in this collection, and I think his style is benefited by the larger format. Overall, Miller’s work is pretty slick and fun, well worth checking out.
NAKEDFELLA COMICS #8
digest size, 44 pages, $4 everywhere, trades “maybe” for comics
PO Box 2229, Caulfield Junction
Vic. 3161, Australia
First, this comic is not full of naked fellas, much to my chagrin. That being said, there was a lot of good stuff here anyway. Blumenstein has a fine sense of style, creating cartoons that are pleasant to look at and easy to read. He begins with an insightful comic about culture-jammers who are not entirely aware of their own social impact, then goes on to tackle subjects like white-boy afros, John Wayne (in a very funny verse form), fatherly advice and more. He caps it off with a 24-hour-comic exercise, rendered in pencil, which manages to be pretty engaging even without the more polished quality of his other work. Clearly, Blumenstein is a talented artist and writer, and NAKEDFELLA COMICS was a rewarding discovery.
ADVICE TO MYSELF #1.1
digest, photocopies, 24 pages, $2, selective trades
PO Box 14642, Portland, OR 97293-0942
This zine is subtitled “Writings, Ramblings, and Essays about Sexuality, Spirituality, Self, Situations and Communication by (and for) Rich Mackin”. The listed price is labeled a suggested donation, and all proceeds from the sale benefit safetynet, an organization which educates men on intimate abuse and sexual violence.
I feel that even discussing Rich’s publication puts me in a volatile position, and as a gay man I’m not the best candidate to offer commentary on the sexual politics between men and women. But the purpose of ADVICE TO MYSELF is to foster dialogue, and I certainly felt a deep visceral response as I was reading.
Rich Mackin (probably best known as the creator of the zine Book of Letters) was accused of sexual assault at Beantown Zinetown in March 2003. Three women with whom he had a sexual history arrived at the Boston zine fair, which he organized, to distribute a zine called Baby, I’m a Manarchist! Their zine recounted sexual incidents with Rich, reprinted private online conversations he had with the accusers afterwards, along with the Antioch College Sexual Offense Prevention Policy and a list of demands for him.
Mackin was understandably blindsided by this, but he has done his best to deal with the repercussions and learn all he can about what he did, and what he is accountable for.
First of all, I have not seen a copy of Baby, I’m a Manarchist!, so I have only been exposed to one side of the story. Since this is such a sensitive topic, I don’t want to take sides when I don’t have access to all the information. But what Rich has to say about the situation feels truthful, and he is very forthcoming about his offenses. Most of what he discusses in ADVICE TO MYSELF regards only two of his three accusers – the two who chose to name themselves in their own publication.
What struck me hardest was that the women did not seem very up front about their sexual discomfort, and Rich may not be chivalrous, is perhaps even a jerk, but he did not push very hard and he stopped when he was asked. Sensing that he had made them feel awkward, he contacted the women, apologized, and tried to clear the air. Though no resolution was reached, neither left him with the impression that he had raised such malice or spoiled the possibility for reconciliation.
Instead, the sneak attack of Baby, I’m a Manarchist! was organized, and this strikes me as particularly cowardly. With all due respect to victims of sexual assault and the harm they experience, these women have declined the opportunity to confront Rich Mackin when he offered, ignored the possibility of neutral-party mediation. Instead they attack Mackin’s reputation directly, in a highly public forum, without providing the accused with any opportunity to respond or defend himself. They have done this knowing that the prevailing mood will be one of sympathy for the victims and condemnation for their attacker, without regard for the circumstances, and with little interest in hearing his side of the story. I was surprised, because the women themselves, along with most literature on the subject, apparently blame most sexual incidents on the pervasive inequality between men and women, an imbalance of power that is intricately woven into our social system. The solution would seem to be the resolution of imbalance, a sensitivity toward the situation and an attempt by all parties – all people – to hold themselves to the same standards. But if Mackin had taken it upon himself to address these issues publicly instead of privately, or reprint private conversations without permission or context, he never would have been forgiven.
ADVICE TO MYSELF is Mackin’s response to Baby, I’m a Manarchist!, and it is an incredibly forgiving one. Despite the unfairness of the way the accusations were handled, the irreversible effect this had on Rich’s public speaking engagements and private relationships, he has responded not as a victim but as a past aggressor. Even though he has gone from “Rich Mackin” to “Admitted sexual predator Rich Mackin”, he takes full responsibility for his actions and tries to atone for whatever pain he has caused.
Ninety percent of the zine is devoted to Mackin’s attempts to educate himself on the politics of sex, power, dominance and boundaries, and he knows that he needs this education. He has grown accustomed to using his position as a man for sexual leverage, become complacent with the societal norm of aggressive males and passive females, and the presumption that sexual activity is initiated by a man, and either accepted or rejected by a woman. Through reading and therapy, Rich is trying very hard to undo his indoctrinated beliefs.
The person who will benefit the most from reading this zine is Rich himself, but there are probably many others who will benefit as well. Mostly, I was frustrated and angered by what I read, but I also want find Baby, I’m a Manarchist!, to get the whole story.
Digest size, 24 pages, $5
623 N. Borders, Apt. 2, Marissa, IL 62257
This chapbook is part of a series of four poetry collections, which also includes the titles Observations Short of Reason, Suck a Lemon/Kiss a Turd, and Kicking the Dog at Feeding Time, all of which are available from Mr. Irwin at the same price. He refers to the contents of ANTHROPOLOGICAL BLUES as “poetic whimsy”, and most of them are indeed far from serious.
The poems are short, generally composed of rhyming quatrains, and tell silly stories about winning the lottery, insane asylums, and Martians. For example, “Monkey Pie”: My oh my, monkey pie!/ It tastes so good./ It’s a treat to try./ The last I had made me cry./ Monkey punched thru the crust/ And poked me in the eye.
There’s a bit of the adult work of Shel Silverstein in his sense of humor, and a bit of O. Henry in his fondness for twist endings. The poems were cute, not particularly compelling but a fun read nonetheless. My biggest gripe was that he seemed far more concerned with rhyme than meter, giving many of the pieces an awkwardness that I felt could have been avoided with a little more work. Not that each of them needed to be formally constructed, but several of the poems had a repeating four-line ballad structure that begged to be read metrically, and I think that these amusing exercises would have been a lot funnier with matching rhyme and meter. But hey, that’s just my personal preference.
Actually, my biggest gripe is that this whole chapbook could be made for 75¢ at the Kinko’s nearest my apartment, and he’s charging five bucks for it. I realize it’s a “chapbook” – I recognize the form – but I don’t see why that makes it so much more important than a zine. Charging more than 500% of the overhead seems very arrogant. Either that, or somebody is really screwing Mr. Irwin on his printing costs.
digest size, 32 pages, August 2003, $1 or trade
c/o Ryan Mishap
PO Box 5841, Eugene, OR 97405
How fun is this? BRAINS comes courtesy of some Oregon punks fighting the war against gentrification. In a strictly metaphorical way, of course, because in this zine the real menace is zombies.
Representing yuppies as the living dead is no real stretch of the imagination, but these guys handle it quite straightforwardly. Slowly but surely, the zombie problem is getting out of control, and the punks are losing. Punks, you see, are easy to kill and fairly transient, so people don’t really notice when they disappear. They are the perfect victims for hungry zombies, and the only hope may lie in their secret weapon: beer!
In the zombie mind, punks are divided into two groups: junk punks (the hard drug users) and drunk punks (which ought to be self-explanatory). The crucial factor is that drunkenness makes brains taste terrible, so the drunk punks may have an edge – provided that they’re not too drunk.
These stories are gory, funny, and cleverly constructed. I seriously hope this won’t be the only issue.
One special note to the creators: it’s all well and good to experiment with alternative forms of binding your zine, especially if your local copy shop doesn’t have a Stanley-Bostitch long necked stapler. But if you choose to hold your zine together with a rubber band, it’s a good idea to use one that is large enough to go around the centerfold without bending your zine in half. Makes it a lot easier to read.
digest size, 20 pages, August 2003, $2
850 N. Randolph St., Suite 103 Box A35
Arlington, VA 22203
These are low-key, slightly creepy comics about a near future or alternate reality, in either case a reality not terribly removed from our own. OUTSIDE resonates, like the best science fiction, because the fantastic elements illustrate a parallel to the world we live in. Truths that we are unwilling to ponder in reality become more palatable when disguised. Mr. Stanley understands and celebrates this convention, in science fiction stories that discuss puberty, alcoholism, and war. The 37-year-old David Stanley gave up his career to pursue a dream of cartooning, so give the guy some props and see how he’s doing.
DURY, f-ARTjoke #3, TAKE YOUR LICKS!, and FRESH HOT PIZZA
mini comics of various sizes
Ben T. Steckler
POB 7273, York, PA 17404
DURY is a wordless comic about a blockhead artist going through his day, trying to remember the idea he had in a dream the night before. Very funny and cartoonish, DURY is twelve pages long with a little back story from Ben at the end. Wrapped in a spiffy yellow cover with black and white printing on the front, it sells for two dollars.
TAKE YOUR LICKS! and FRESH HOT PIZZA are both Jack Chick parodies, that old standby of the cartoonist who feels a bit short on inspiration but has a fidgety need to work on something. Believe me, we’ve all been there. FRESH HOT PIZZA tells the story of the pizza boy at the last supper, while TAKE YOUR LICKS! is simultaneously a parody of that old Tootsie Roll Pop commercial with the wise old owl who bites the sucker at the end. I’ve seen better and worse examples of the form, but there’s always a certain charm for us fans of religious propaganda. They are Jack Chick comic sized, a dollar fifty apiece.
Finally, f-ARTjoke is exactly what the title implies. Ben takes recognizable art and pop-culture images (Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson, Picasso’s Old Guitarist, those Coppertone ads with the puppy and the bathing suit) and transforms them into visual fart jokes. Not bad, but they’re probably more fun to make than they are for us. Heck though, it’s a buck, and sometimes you’re in the mood for a little lowbrow humor.
THE NEGATIVE CREEP TRILOGY
Two ¼-size, one digest size, 116 pages altogether
I love Jemiah’s writing. I’ve known her since 1992, and we’ve had a bit of a bumpy personal relationship, but I have always loved her writing. Recently, we corresponded for the first time in years, and exchanged some zines. That’s how I got ANEURYSM, XPRESSWAY, and PAEAN TO THE COSMO BOY, and I feel very lucky. Together, these three zines comprise a story called “Negative Creep”, and a grand story it is.
The basic outline is this: Jody is a fifteen-year-old pot-smoking artist, a bad-mouthed punk rock girl. She ignores her mother, fights with her older sister Leah, and loses her virginity to Leah’s boyfriend Albert. In a supercharged atmosphere of teenage emotion, Jody and Albert are off on a cross-0country escape plan to find a new life away from their crushing home town.
Reading Jemiah’s stories is always a full sensory experience. That intensity of adolescent passion is fully present, from the bitter taste of insurmountable sibling rivalry, to the complete sensual overload of your first sexual experience. Jemiah is endowed with venerable linguistic skills, and it’s very easy and natural to become utterly caught up in the moment, along with her characters.
ANEURYSM sets the stage for Jody and her family, colorfully bringing the brassy but likeable heroine to life. She and Allie take a lot of drugs and hit the road in XPRESSWAY, a surreal hallucination of highways and lust. Both are quarter-sized and comprised of collage, hand-drawn illustrations and pasted text, the perfect form for her narrator.
The story culminates in PAEAN TO THE COSMO BOY, digest size and similarly illustrated, but constructed a bit more carefully. Again, the medium seems to reflect the mindset of the characters, who have been forced to strike a precarious balance between their anarchist youth and the adult necessity of surviving alone in the city. Their passions are still high, but they have become acquainted with the dark spectre of responsibility, and that always changes you. This third installment grows quite genuinely from the story that precedes it, not attempting a tidy conclusion but providing a sense of satisfaction. The conflicts that arise within combative families are never fully resolved, and Jemiah does not pretend that her teenage runaways are any different. They resolve their conflicts the way real people do: by surviving, and moving forward.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading one of Jemiah’s stories, here’s a great beginning for you. I’m not sure what she charges for the zines, so send her an e-mail and ask about cash or trades. While you’re at it, visit her on the web and check out some of her other work. You’ll be glad, and she will too!
PO Box 380431. Cambridge, MA 02238
Caryatid Rises - a zine with a focus on women and social action
“Hope” available for $2 + 83 cent stamps
Please email first if trading
Durga Summer 2003
P.O. Box 5841, Eugene OR 97405
I got drawn right into this zine the moment I picked it up. The writer deals with issues of immigration and assimilation, what it means to be foreign (a hot button for a Brit like me), and questions what it means to be ‘American’. There are essays defending the Harry Potter books against allegations of sexism and autocracy, and the state of psychiatric care. She moves onto issues of poverty and the myopia of people living on “the bank of Mommy and Daddy” and, again, her thoughts resonated for me. I really appreciated how strongly she came out on this topic. In another essay she writes about our word choices –and exhorts us to keep examining the underlying messages we give out as we speak. As one who hates the term “snail mail” with it’s inherent condescension towards anyone who isn’t computer literate, I was really pleased to see her take this on, in a non-pc way. This is a punchy zine. The writer puts a lot of herself out there and I say all power to her for doing so.
Walking to Walden
2712 Pillsbury #105, Minneapolis, MN 55408; email@example.com
Chris Dodge chronicles his visit to “the land of stone fences in the middle of deep woods”. There is some lovely, insightful writing in the pages of this slender zine and also a few lines that are so awful that I actually blushed when I read them e.g. “I hear a child’s voice and running footfall in the hall. Gaiety!” Like most zines if we’re honest, WtW would benefit from a spot of pruning, but in the main, it’s a satisfying read. I enjoyed seeing familiar haunts through Chris’ eyes – he is an attentive, mindful hiker, able to immerse himself in his surroundings, and spot elusive gems like the fragile plant, Indian pipe, by the wayside. (If you read this, Chris, the quacking sound you wonder about was most likely the call of a wood frog – it sounds like a kid’s toy duck.)
There are just over a week’s worth of small vignettes with observations on family, travel, nature, books and the significance of our choice of words. At first, I was put off by the single sentence layout, (it seemed to add unnecessary weight to each line) but I warmed to it. I admit that I was still on pretension alert for a long time, but when Chris wrote about being a magnet for people’s requests for information and concluded wryly, “I am a librarian, even in my shorts” I laughed out loud. It’s a good zine to slip in a backpack, find a quiet spot and read.
Watch the Closing Doors #25
1800 Ocean Pkwy (#F-10), Brooklyn NY 11223-3037
I was hooked on this zine immediately because as we say in the UK, it has gusto. Fred, the creator of the zine BROOKLYN!, and XD reviewer, is a conductor with the NYC Transit Authority and this issue of WtCD gives further voice to his love of mass transit. He takes us with him on a tour of the N train, points out some cool “station art” and gives us some glimpses of passenger behavior – I thought one scene involving an elderly gent continually swiping his travel cards was heartrending. It made me nostalgic to see a small piece on the clunky old Circle Line (London Underground) that I rode for seven years. I know that in a past issue someone begged Fred to adjust the copier setting for the photos. Even though I’d hate to see the rough edges of zines get too smoothed over, can I add my bit of begging? The photos were so dark it was hard to make out the straps you mentioned in the ‘straphanger’ bit of historical trivia.
If you’re ever in Boston Fred, (and anyone else for that matter) take the Green line from Park Street to Copley, sit on the left and watch out for the ghostly Emergency Train looming on the sidings along with an amazing 1950’s(?)bullet-shaped carriage. There is something of the marvelous about them.
Untied We Stand
$1 plus 2 first class stamps/2IRC’s or trade
Franetta L. McMillian, Etidorpha
PMB 170, 40 E. Main St., Newark DE 19711
This is a good-looking zine, a classy quarter size. Franetta tells a poignant story of post September 11th America. Four graduate students share a house in a neighborhood bedecked with flags and patriotic symbols. They feel under pressure to make some form of patriotic display after two acts of vandalism against their home. At one point, the ribbons they have tied to a tree are undone and trampled on the ground. One of the students has valid emotional reasons for wanting to make any display meaningful – her brother is dying a lingering death having received horrific burns in the terrorist attacks. The climax of the story, and their community’s reaction to her brother’s fate, is very moving. The writing is a bit stilted but the storyline is so powerful it carries itself.
Free for stamped envelope
Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
I’m new to Dwan and, at first glance, I had major unkind thoughts. I couldn’t see past the prostate exam photo and spiraled off into a head rant about being sick of cock-zines. When I actually took the time to read it, I experienced the biggest turn around since, “I did not have sexual relations with that young woman – Miss Lewinski”. I can’t say that I liked every poem in Dwan but I loved the translation of “Arcadia”:
“Good people need no great luck
heaven flutters about them
like an awning in a storm.”
I got completely absorbed in Donny’s journals of wild, tv-driven dreams, meticulous poetry translation and semantics. In a quoted letter, Androo wrote something that parallels something that has been on my own mind a lot recently, “What does it take to have a little decency toward each other? Shouldn’t that be the easiest response?...Isn’t kindness just common sense?” Some zines are so full of anger and rant, and if people need to vent, then I’m not going to sneer at them, but sometimes a gentle zine like Dwan (and the mission behind it) helps get me through my own dark times.
100 E Walton #31H, Chicago, IL 60611
Sobaka puts me in mind of a gritty, underground version of the BBC’s “From Our Own Correspondent”. This zine publishes short articles on issues that are widely ignored by the mainstream press, like the continued persecution and ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Gypsies, or the US Armed Forces involvement in Georgia (El Salvador redux). This issue of the zine takes a broad sweep from Haiti to Tajikistan to South Africa, and the topics, for example AIDS or unchecked brutality, are as compelling as they are depressing. I ended up rifling through both an atlas and an encyclopedia to look up the regions like Abkhazia, and the groups of people (e.g. Kists, Khojas and Klyabs) under discussion.
Most of the writing has a professional, well-tooled feel to it but there are two essays that are annoying beyond belief. I can’t abide travel writing that spotlights the author. While I give Sean Rorison maximum kudos for traveling solo in Djibouti, I would have appreciated it if he had told me more than the fact that it’s very hot, it smells, he sweats a lot and local people stare at him. Gerald Walker’s piece on Burma oozes self-importance. He has a good eye, I can’t deny that, but his glib dismissal of protesters highlighting Aung San Suu Kyi’s request that travelers boycott Burma as ‘snits’ was breathtaking in its arrogance. Although Sobaka would read better without these two essays I suppose they are still in keeping with its provocative and thought-provoking mandate.
Fertile Ground Issues 4 and 5
2084 Court Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
Stacey Greenberg’s high-end mamazine continues to go from strength to strength. She has a strong voice and is not afraid to take on the flash point issues like circumcision, intervention free hospital birth (now a rarity) and breastfeeding. Unlike most mainstream parenting rags, which provide limp ‘for and against’ arguments and sit on the fence, Stacey makes her case with passion. She gives other writers a chance to write about the realities of life after the double blue line. The zines look great with beautiful photos of women and babies, and keep a good balance between the highs and lows of pregnancy and motherhood. I recommend giving a gift subscription to any pregnant, or newly delivered friends.
Motherload (Summer Solstice Issue, Winter Solstice Issue)
P.O. Box 51404, Eugene OR 97405
I love Motherload because in addition to a selection of insightful writing, it is filled with poetry, and beautiful, artsy photography. Whether her camera is aimed at gorgeous pregnant women, vintage trucks or a single, black tulip, Elizabeth produces something very special. It has a winsome, spiritual feel without any trace of New Ageism. I’ve been trading for two issues now and hope to keep the connection going indefinitely.
The Future Generation Issues # 11, 12 and 13
P.O. Box 4803, Baltimore, MD 21211
China is a veteran ziner who puts her heart and soul into every issue. She describes TFG as a zine for subculture parents, kids, friends and others, and she never fails to find cool and interesting people, and places, to feature. Each issue takes a loose theme, for instance, The Ocean (#12), Father’s Day (#13) and weaves together a variety of photo essays, rock interviews, family history, or stories of unconventional family life. I was a big fan of the ‘Dangerously Delicious Pies’ family in No. #13. Each zine looks gorgeous, and the photos of parents and kids are some of the best I’ve ever seen (the print quality is usually excellent). As my kids are older, I appreciate the essays by long time parents – it’s good to know what’s awaiting me, or to be able to see my own concerns on the page. Obviously, I have a passion for mamazines, and while I don’t like to play favorites, I have to admit that TFG is my zine of choice.
Ted Mangano c/o Fanorama Publishing
109 Arnold Ave., Cranston, RI 02905
Aloha, and welcome to my last batch of prisoner reviews. Yes, I got parole! I’ll be out of this hole in eight short weeks. Or long weeks. They always seem longer from the front end. Fortunately, I have plenty to keep me busy until then, letters to write, plans to make, stacks of zines to give away to the guys who have to stay. I’ve been having fun matching zines to personalities. Some guys like the political stuff, some prefer perzines, some read only comics, and so on. Actually, I’m kind of bummed about having to leave my zine collection behind. But after all the hoops and hurdles, all the crap they put me through to get them past the mailroom, it seems wrong to just walk out with them. The key phrase there, remember, is “walk out.” I’m walking out. I will have walked out by the time you read this. So until further notice, you can reach me through the above address. Pick up the next issue of XD for my “Reviews from Beyond the Gate”—spoken in a deep, horror movie preview voice.
Weirdness Before Midnight #2: (formerly Camera in Your Foot.) In 1956, Dave Szurek’s eighth-birthday present was permission to go to the movies unsupervised. Now, nearly 50 years later, he’s seen every horror film made since the invention of celluloid. Or so it seems. The focus of his zine, of course, is horror movie reviews, some of which he writes from memory. How he recalls the plots, key players, and production values in movies he last saw forty years ago is beyond me. This guy even dreams B-horror (in COLORSCOPE!) and then writes dream reviews. So, variety. But that’s not all. Guess what else he’s been doing since he was eight. Reading zines, naturally, horror fanzines, and his memory is just as sharp on this subject as it is on obscure films. In his essay, “Forry Lied,” he describes the zine scene from the mid 1950s, all the way up to the arrival of Fangoria, and beyond.
Like [Famous Monsters of Filmland], but more overtly so, Fangoria was into creating cult films by fabricating myths that they were such already.
Apparently, some decades old grudges and debates are still alive in zineland today. WBM#2 is great stuff, even if you couldn’t care less about The Blood Sucking Farmers and Wasp Woman (filmed in GHOULOVISION!).
Dave Szurek, 505 North F #829, Aberdeen, WA 98520-2601
$2.50/free for letters/Trade/40 pp./Standard.
Clip Tart #1 ~ 2004: “The Book of Helpful Selections,” compiled by Susan Boran. Aside from the introduction and two short editorials, Susan clipped and quoted this entire zine from other publications. Ten of the 28 standard size pages are full-color collages that she created mostly from magazine photo clips. And some of them are so damn cool, I’d clip and frame them myself if the whole zine wasn’t such a masterpiece. Seems silly, I know, not to clip a zine made of clips, but damn, it really is a work of art. Excerpts from over 30 publications—books, magazines, journals, newspapers, etc.—comprise the text, and cover just about everything, from black magic, hypnosis, and politics to philosophy, literature and art. Sources are listed by author and title and there are plenty of interesting and helpful footnotes. I actually can’t find anything wrong with this zine. Susan did an amazing job. I only wish she had put it out sooner. Good reference material is hard to come by in the joint. Anyone who does a zine, wants to do a zine, or just enjoys reading zines should pick up a copy of this soon to be collector’s item. Let’s Clip!
Clip Tart, PO Box 66512, Austin, TX 78766
$?/Worth $5 easily/28 pp./Standard.
Flashpoint #4: “Ethics ~Where do you draw the line?” (Politics and philosophy) Wherein Shannon Colebank draws the line. And then proceeds to step over it. Again and again and again. About 60,000 words on 56 pages of really nice, heavy paper in a comb binding. I actually enjoyed this radical zine. It’s disturbing. It’s dangerous. It’s funny. But a thorough review would require at least 2000 words. Must see to believe. Must pay eight dollars to see.
(Reviewer General’s Warning: Flashpoint has been known to cause permanent damage to weak minds and fits of rage in the hysteria prone.)
Whizzbanger Productions, PO Box 5591, Portland, OR 97228
Blank Pages #8: “The Catnip of the Revolution.” Finally, an anarchist with a sense of humor and actually knows what she’s doing. Alex is 20, a college student, a hyper-activist, and co-founder of The Bike Panthers, an anarchist bicycle gang that “promotes bike riding for transportation and fun.” She’s also one hell of a zinester. Aside from the diary style entries, which are revealing, there are articles on bike repair, bread baking, palmistry, gardening, doing self breast exams, and finding the G-spot. Also, “Page 5 Girl” (essay on Burmese revolutionary Aung San Suu Kyi), Book, CD, and Video reviews, cop jokes, comics, and other upbeat odds and ends. BP vibrates with energy, hope, and fun. After seeing anarchism dragged through the mud for years by irate burn-outs screaming situation hopeless, it’s good to see it in the hands of America’s idealistic, bright-eyed and brilliant youth—where it belongs.
Alexis Freed, P.O. Box 1431, Mchenry, IL 60051-9023
$1/Trade for love letters or zines/54 pp./quarter standard
Xeens and Things #16: The first half is pretty much straightforward reviews. They appear in four categories—Zines, Mail Art, Poetry, and “CD’s, Tapes, Etc.” The editor, James Dawson, does all the review writing and it’s all well considered and clear. He takes on all comers and doesn’t hesitate to bash when bashing is called for. The mail art section is the most unique, with detailed descriptions of the various artists’ works and vital info for those who want to get in on the mail art action. The second half of the zine is correspondence—an excellent source of fun zine gossip—featuring many popular zinesters. James publishes all his zine mail and only responds through his zine, so if you want a reply to your letters, expect it to be published here. Overall, it’s cleanly produced, highly readable zine, written in a matter-of-fact tone that is comfortably dry. A must for all self respecting zinesters.
James Dawson, X & T, PO Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA 95470
Eaves of Ass #2: Okay, we have an intro, three decent poems, some “Drunk Reviews,” a found sex-letter written by a horny high school girl, an essay entitled “The Christlander Theory,” and a few other amusing items. Overall, it’s better than your average young-drunk-dude zine, very well written, but there’s something scary about it I can’t quite put my finger on. The drunken music-reviews seem harmless. A couple guys get drunk, listen to bands, and make wisecracks into a tape recorder. Funny, like Bevis and Butthead. “The Christlander Theory” is a silly essay about how Jesus Christ is really the immortal MacLeod from the Highlander TV series. The author, Craven Rock, does come up with some fairly convincing proof to support his theory, and there are some surprising similarities, which I won’t go into. The sex letter is more embarrassing than it is arousing, which could prove to be very scary, if the poor girl who wrote it discovers it’s been published. The poems and other items—a few short essays, a quiz, a list of “inspirations”—all seem fine. What is it that’s so scary then? Well… that Christlander thing. I think the guy’s serious. See for yourself.
Craven Rock, PO Box 406784, Louisville, KY 40204
$2/Trade/24 pp/half standard.
Lucidity v18 #1: “A Twice Yearly Journal of Verse Since 1985.” Deep and lucid poetry written by the people, for the people, dealing with people and daily human events. These 70 plus poems were selected from among several hundred submitted by everyday folk around the country, from truckers, lawyers and teachers to farmer’s wives, invalids, and prisoners. An awesome collection. I’m sure some of these poems required lifetimes to compose. More submissions are needed, of course, but the guidelines are strict. “We are open to all forms poetry dealing with the good, bad, and ugly if done with finesse,” explains the 80 plus years old editor, Mr. Ted O. Badger. “Please—no poems about birds, bees, butterflies, sunrise, sunset, politics, philosophy, or your religious persuasion.” (Also, I’d recommend no chickens.) Mr. Badger’s essay, “Prose-Poetry, The Ultimate Oxymoron,” provides yet more insight to his rigorous selection process. All contributors are paid, though ($1 to $15), but please order a copy and guidelines before submitting. And remember, when you’re tired of all the fussing and fighting and ranting and whining, there’s Lucidity.
Bear House Publishing, 14781 Memorial Drive #10, Houston, TX 77079-5210
$3/74 pp./half standard.
American Libaries: (li bar es)
Q: What does this librarian zine have in common with a girlie magazine? A: They both focus on things that I love but have now been deprived of for eight long years. Okay, I did have an outside job at the local library a few months back. But being a convict, I wasn’t permitted anywhere near the women or books. I felt like a muzzled dog in a steak factory run by cats. Plus I had way too much time to think. My job was so simple and boring, they could have hired a trained chicken instead of a convict—if chicken feed wasn’t so pricey. Was it a set up? Was I some kind of lab experiment? Had some diabolical psychologist calculated the circumstances precisely to drive me insane? And was he now watching from behind the bookcases, taking notes, and making bets with his pals on how long I’d last before finally cracking up? Well, I lasted exactly six months. Then I snapped and did something crazy, forbidden. I tried to hand off a couple zines and a note to a certain female. The trap snapped shut. I lost the job, and now I’m stuck on the prison yard all day. We do have a library here, but not a real library. And we do have women, but not… Anyway, American Libaries is loaded with cool stuff by zinesters who are also librarians, about libraries with zine collections, and about actual zine libraries. There’s an excellent resource in back that lists contact info for zinester librarians and other zine friendly library types across the country. I suggest you send them all love notes.
Donny Smith, P.O. Box 411, Swarthmore PA 19081
$1/prisoners trade for letter/16 pp/half standard.
Fish with Legs #7: A farmer knows that 21 chickens housed in three coops will hatch 30 eggs in 18 days. How long, then, will it take 30 chickens housed in four coops to hatch the same number of eggs? Okay, this appears to be a mathematical problem, but we’ll make no such assumption—always be wary when chickens are involved. In the first instance, the farmer has 21 chickens in three coops, seven chickens per coop, hatching approximately one-and-a-half eggs each. In the second instance, he’s dealing with 30 chickens in four coops, that’s seven-and-a-half chickens per coop, hatching exactly one egg each. Seven-and-a-half-chickens? It’s a safe bet that half-chickens don’t lay eggs, so in the second instance we can count only 28 whole and functioning chickens. Furthermore, it’s likely that the presence of the half-chickens in the four coops causes distress to the whole chickens and thus inhibits egg production. This might explain why the 21 chickens seem to hatch eggs at nearly 150% the rate of the thirty chickens—actually 28 chickens. Also (now that I think about it) four half-chickens will feed four adults, a family of six, or 16 convicts. Now provided we ignore the half-eggs produced by the 21 chickens in the first instance, we’re left with several possible answers: A) Roosters don’t lay eggs. B) Traumatized hens are useless. C) Serves 4 to 16. D) To get to the other side. E) Eggs require 18 days to hatch regardless of how many chickens are present. F) Chicken puzzles have nothing to do with Fish With Legs #7. If you selected answer F, you’re right. You’ll find no chickens in this zine. Still, the chicken analogy seems to work. (I don’t know why. It just does.) If this sort of mental side-tripping amuses you, then (trust me) you’ll love fish with eggs. I mean, Fish with Legs.
Eric Lyden, 224 Moraine St., Brockton, MA 02301-3664
And that’s the end of my prison reviews—not a moment too soon, judging by that last one. That’s okay, though, because soon enough I’ll be kicking back with a book and a beer at the nearest Hooters Book Store. They have those now, right? Well, whatever. See you on the other side of the fence. Love.
Gavin J. Grant
176 Prospect Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
Gavin J. Grant lives in warm and sunny Northampton, MA. His zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (www.lcrw.net/lcrw), comes out twice a year.
How to choose chords. There’s an explanation of how chords are made, why they sound good, and what you can do with them. It’s a small zine but there is a ton of information packed into these typewritten pages. A clearly-written alternative to other music books and lessons — this is the most interesting of the zines I read recently and is highly recommended. Also included is a catalog and summary index of 24 years of Dwelling Portably ($1, same address) on living and traveling, zine reviews, and ads.
2nd Edition, Sept. 2003, $3 (short version $1), half letter, 22pp, POB 190-L, Philomath, OR 97370-0190
St Cosmo I Come To Adore You
Short-short stories and some poetry laid out with lots of white space. Being photocopied, the strong lines of Christoph Meyer’s two strange drawings came through clearer than Marcus Civin’s collage art. I enjoyed the previous issue more, but that’s just the way it goes with litzines.
No.5, $1/trade, letter, 33pp, Jacob Snodgrass, 6648 Eastland Ct., Worthington, OH 43085 firstname.lastname@example.org
A post-breakup issue. For informational reasons Travis decides to clinically describe going to an STD clinic from the male point of view. Also a piece on going shooting for the first time in a year, writing a story for work (that wins no prizes nor gets published in the company newsletter), and a tour of Tucson statues. All of this was accompanied by a one page hand-colored comic and ten excellent home-made mostly Arizona-themed postcards.
No.2, $1/trade, half-legal, 24pp., Travis Klein, Sunshine Capital, POB 12171, Tucson, AZ 85732
This twice-yearly magazine of fiction and poetry is subtitled ‘pulp with a pulse’ — although the stories here arenn’t what I generally think of when the word ‘pulp’ comes up. For instance, Mandy Marie’s “A Bed by the Window” — albeit competently written — could have appeared in n Reader’s Digest. Not pulp, but a good place to find new voices.
No.7, Spring 2003, $3/trade, half letter, 60pp, Frank Marcopolos, 4809 Avenue N, #117, Brooklyn, NY 11234 email@example.com
For the Clerisy
Fantastic quote about the idiot-in-chief from the Philly Inquirer on the front leads into another good issue on reading for pleasure. Brant reads a lot and writes well enough to make nearly everything seem at least readable. Here he looks at a J.D. Salinger bio, An Artist of the Floating World, All Stalin’s Men, and a couple of lesser-known classics by Joseph Conrad and Elizabeth Bowen. If you enjoy reading and these names and titles aren’t familiar, this zine will point you towards a few good books. Also contains two pages of zine listings and two pages of letters.
No.52, October 2003, $2/trade, letter, 12pp., Brant Kresovich, PO Box 404, Getzville, NY 14068-0404,
Well designed zine with tons of art and photos self described as Monophobic Rustbelt Zine Pulp. R. Lee has worked some crappy jobs and not surprisingly he’s worked with some people he’d rather not have. He sometimes manages to be more disgusting or crazier than them — it helps keep them away; but it also often leads to that being the last day of work. Funny in places, dark, too. Not to be read at work..
No.1, $2/trade, half letter, 32pp, R. Lee, PO Box 1421, Oshkosh, WI 54903
“For new poets & writers” everywhere. Fiction, poetry, an interview with the late Wright Morris, and a transcription of a Q&A with Salman Rushdie. In the first issue after a year of reorganizing, the publisher notes that newsstand and chainstore distribution is a bitch and that they are therefore withdrawing from it to sell only in indie bookshops and by subscription.
No.29, $5.95, letter, 38pp, Argonne House Press, PO Box 21069, Washington, DC 20009-0569 wordwrights.net
Ghostwriter: A One Act Play for 2 People by Asha Anderson
This short play is set on a train ride between realities where a man’s dead sister drops in to try and switch him back to his original reality. The play isn’t really long enough to develop fully, but Anderson does manage to squeeze in a few questions about perception and reality.
$1, half letter, 24pp, Sky River Press, POB 1436, Gardnerville, NV 89410 firstname.lastname@example.org
I lost my pogo stick. Peace and the string of holidays followed the departure of my roommate Jennine. Cost of living went up too much (but thank God, I was due for a break). Still stuck in the midst of seasonal fiction. Winter equals the elation of spring. Spring begets more spring (and the beginnings of disorientation for a person accustomed to four seasons). And summer brings an inferno I call purgatory. South Texas is such an experience that I’m seeking a chance to immigrate (somewhere north of here hopefully, which is practically everywhere there are jobs in journalism from this stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border). Write about anything and everything related or not is welcome, e-mail email@example.com. Cheerio, Stephanie.
PASSIONS A Cooperative Press Association Issue #34 (for information on becoming a member of passions, contact the editor: Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554-1120; Syllabus size, 42 pages). Guidelines for submissions available upon request. Members receive a premium copy with spiral binding; non-members may send a check or money order to Ken Bausert for $3.50 (includes first class postage).
PASSIONS offers regional snapshots of life painted by its members in different stages of life ranging from celebrating a string of 40th birthdays to trying to figure out what to do post-college.
Text is written in confessional, straightforward prose; snippets savor life and recess back to nostalgic thoughts about first loves and the old neighborhood. It’s possible to scrounge secondhand travel tips, ranging from the uncomfortable comfort and familiarity of going home to taking a spin through wineries, mist tents and other pleasures found at the famous garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif. The cooperative press effort also tiptoes into the snoopy nature of reading other people’s mail from tidbits intricate and sad to the delicately-provocative “Love from 3 Peaches in Brooklyn” dated August 6, 1912. Notably there is also a delightful bit on how to use blow-up dolls responsibly. It’s listed as a read for “mature readers,” but nothing in this episode was too over the top in my reasonable estimation. Anyone into the perzine-type blog or even a short story collection hound (on a lighter day) would enjoy weeding out the brilliant gems tucked within these pages. And one never knows when one might find direct mention of one’s self inside. How fun.
THE LETTER EXCHANGE (LEX), a Magazine for Letter Writers Vol. 2 Issue #1 (The Letter Exchange, 855 Village Center Drive #324 North Oaks, MN 55127-3016; digest, 30 pages). Published Feb. 15, June 15 and Oct. 15. Single issue costs $7.50. One-year subscription $18 for standard mail, $19 for first class and $22 for international mailing. Include name and address. Subscriptions include Lex ID number plus 20 free words to use in listings. Include name and address.
LEX is a neat, meticulously-organized zine focused on the exchange of letters, postcards and mail art. Subheads including Art & Photography, Collectors’ Corner, Contemporary Issues yield listings such as “desperately seeking fellow cell phone haters” (got one here!) And there is a sprinkling of other stuff such as Daily Life, Metaphysics, Women’s Studies and Work and Careers. Brevity is the name of the game, once a member you can publish one sentence book reviews et al. This issue of LEX explains how a ghost letter can help you step out of yourself (no need to reinvent on the Internet in other words letters can be just as intriguing – maybe more?). LEX also opens avenues to exchange postcards with complete strangers, and delves into the joys of retractable gel pens. LEX is back after a reprieve and move to Minnesota by editors Gary and Lonna, who say that LEX is very much like the original, which is still NOT designated for making love connections via singles advertisements. LEX is a good way to escape the mailbox, stuffed with bills only, doldrums.
SLUG AND LETTUCE issue #77 (c/o Christine P.O. Box 26632 Richmond, VA 23261-6632; tabloid size, 18 pages). Free in person or for postage through mail or trade. Individual copies available for 60 cents postage. It is not advisable to send coins, and do not send checks for fewer than $10. Prices increase to $1 for Canadian subscribers and issues sent overseas via airmail cost $2 for each issue.
SLUG AND LETTUCE is not for the faint of heart. This tabloid-size, punk-rock newspaper is tight and well written, but extremely compact (just think of it as a precursor to a vision test at the BMV). In this issue, Christine, the editor, traveled the West Coast (Portland Zine Symposium and down to the hotbed of San Francisco) to blissfully roll around in zine carnage. S&L helps you plug into the tight knit yet fractured Richmond DIY/music scene and beyond, which is wrapped together nicely to bind together an expanded, punk rock family. Afterall, as the editor states, “punk rock cannot be stopped” no matter how much bourgeois culture seeps into the air we breath. S&L has reviews, money-saving tips and advertisements from reputable DIY companies, which add to S&L’s ability to be very user friendly within its niche.
CRYPTOZOA, issue #8 (Androo Robinson, 2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland, OR 97213) Issues cost $1, pocket size, 14 pages). The author himself describes his work as “odd little picture fictions” that are lightly sprinkled in Secret Mystery Love Shoes (that another reviewer called a peek into the ultimate state of premarital bliss). Androo’s work on his own is like a booster of self-esteem and a do-the-right-thing picture book for adults. And it’s so good because it’s so lacking in mainstream culture. It’s also riddled with delicate observations that only come from a very careful look at what life really is, and examining everyday choices that we have to make as people. What feeds this book is if, you too, have no money but are blessed with an imagination. It’s comic dada in the way that he recasts a used up remote to cleanse the smut from TV, and he almost willingly gives up his apartment to cockroaches who have mercilessly invaded his kitchen. Stories are often framed by a bit of truth that helps the author recognize that his simple life is rich with good karma. This boy practices what he preaches to the point that he furthers his karmaic boon by sending out the $100 bill he found on the sidewalk to a complete stranger (when at the beginning he says that he is completely broke). Who says chivalry is dead?
SHOUTING AT THE POSTMAN, Issue #51, an ASKalice Almanac (PO Box 101 Newtown, PA 18940-0101 or Web site http://members.aol.com/satpostman; digest, 8 pages). Send a US stamp, 2 IRCS or something cool to trade.
SHOUTING AT THE POSTMAN is a brief but fun peak into a chapter revolving around the invasion of a clever, fluffy-tailed squirrel, which happened upon the house of a humane gentleman. This squirrel was smart in the way that he got free rent for several weeks from a man who would rather free the sucker than smash this havocmaker into a million pieces. But the author later reveals that no matter how hard you work to be in harmony with nature some times things just get out of your hands and end a bit messily. It’s a well-written story that can become a companion (that will make you laugh a little) on a short, solitary break or a quick lunch or dinner for one (now two).
MISHAP #15 (Ryan/PO Box 5841/Eugene, OR 87405 USA or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; digest, 32 pages.) Free or trade.
“People have lost the ability to live in harmony with the earth; now we’re all just cancer cells spreading the disease,” according to Christ on Parade. Much of MISHAP rides on this principle, but I must admit this little zine has some wild little stories in it. They are fun to read, and hard to put down. Who could resist a scenario of a crotchety-old woman and her mellow friend mending their differences after finding a moldy mayonnaise jar in an abandoned red duffel bag? There are capsulated zine reviews so other zinesters can find themselves even more reading material and book reviews if the cold winter stretches your appetite beyond hunger for pocketsize literature. MISHAP advertises on its cover that the past is gone and the future is bleak, and criticizes the work of local reporters to the point that the Fox network somehow seems reputable. Gee doesn’t that observation ripple news consumption en vogue? But I must say there are MANY reporters out there who have been given a bad name by the few who are down with the peeps. I know it’s self-publishing, but you too must remember that even in fiction zine world there is always two sides to every story. If there weren’t local news being watch-guarded everyday the world would get much, much uglier even more quickly. Take that from someone literally in the trenches.
MEDIA WHORE #1 (Randie Farmelant 37 Home St. Malden, MA 02148 or e-mail email@example.com or check out the Web site www.mediawhorezine.com; $1 per issue or trades accepted, digest, pages 24.
MEDIA WHORE offers scores of essays, thoughts and interviews on issues that Miss Farmelant felt were missing from the shrinking array of feminist media offerings. MW’s got a good piece about the disappearance of feminist bookstores, which examines the shrinking of the alt.media, the growth of the young women’s fashion media and the loss of shared space for women. Her writing is not whiny or preachy, and can be a bit thought provoking, which is a prod we all need in the dead of winter. MW takes a look at the seemingly impenetrable Oprah, she aptly refers to as the “BIG O.” And even manages to score a moment with Lisa Miva-Jervis, co-founder of Bitch magazine. All and all, it’s not a bad haul for a premiere, which I’m sure will take shape with the benefit of experience and future reader input. Those of us who have read it and liked it can only hope for a second issue of the same (or better?) caliber.
OPUNTIA, issue 52.1 B (Dale Speirs Box 6830 Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2E7; digest, 16 pages). $3 cash for a one-time sample copy; trade for zine or letter of comment. Do not send checks for small amounts; American dollars are acceptable.
People from all over the United States and Canada are writing to share bits of their lives in this digest-able zine. It’s an art/literature/music consumer’s friendly piece of underground advice with its book reviews, zine reviews and ample space (for a publication of its size) dedicated to constant comment and shoutouts to those whose words were cut for limited space or personal splendor. Personal projects from mail art to quilters in Great Britain take part in this bit of an of-the-minute flyer that just as easily harkens back to life in the 1600s.
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Alas, in this installment I am quite guilty of reviewing zines I’ve reviewed before. You see, when it came time to distribute the zines to the reviewers for this issue I was a greedy cow. I haven’t had much time to read in recent months, so when I was sorting the zines I kept going, “Oooh, I love this zine! I want to read this!” and would add it to my stack. Am I an avaricious editor? Yes, but I think it is testament to the writers I am about to review.
I just published a new issue of Leeking Ink (#28), which includes a 14-page article about my worst job experience ever, the story of my first tattoo, as well as the goings on of 2003.
Big Pinch World #1
I noticed several other reviewers were also smitten with Randy’s debut issue. About the only thing I have to add is that I was impressed enough to bring him aboard as a reviewer having only read this first slim issue.
Randy Osborne, PO Box 246, Fox River Grove, IL 60021
Etidorhpa #8 - “Bit By Rubber”
I was in the midst of writing my tale of work hell when I read Etidorhpa. This issue is all about Fran’s workplace woes and I realized that this is such a universal theme. We all have our stories. However, not everyone gets to have his or her paycheck bounce. She rounds out the issue with a short story. Well-written.
PMB 170, 40 E. Main St., Newark, DE 19711
Dream Whip #13
He describes the issue as, “a glossy catalog from a suicidal travel agent.” I feel kind of impotent trying to top that description. I have no idea how much time passes inside the issue, all I know is that Bill seems to be in perpetual motion. Even when he is at home, wherever that might be at that moment, he is driving around, on a boat, or on his way somewhere else. While stopping at a campground he comes across a Civil War reenactment group, “The whole thing reminds me of a butch renaissance faire, or maybe a Civil-War era rainbow gathering, what with the half-naked little kids running wild and the camp mammas fixing food for guys with ponytails and freaky facial hair. Civil War hippies. Jesus.” He saves up to go to Europe, but he is afraid to fly and has to endure the trans-Atlantic crossing to get their first. If you enjoy either journal-type perzines or travel zines, you’ll love this.
184 pages/mini/ $4/ Trades
Bill D. Whip, Box 53832, Lubbock, TX 79453; firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first magazine (yes, it is a technically a magazine, but the tone of the articles is rather ziney) I’ve ever seen devoted to vegetarian culture. It addresses the personal, daily, and social aspects of being vegetarian and with a sense of humor no less! Despite popular conception you don’t have to turn in your funny card when you give up eating critters. There is a funny narrative about four people trying to follow a vegan Atkins Diet; a sarcastic guide to vegetarian musicians for karaoke singers; reviews of fake meat products, “My lips never got near the kidney bits because one touch was enough. Slimy. Stinky Out into the trash they went.” I had no idea I’d find Rikki Rockett interesting! “White Trash Vegetarian” is a regular column, which in this issue has exercise suggestions if you’ve been, “Manhandlin’ the mashed potatoes? Two-fistin’ the tequila?” Oh, and Porn Again News, one of my favorite features, is an opinioned wrap up of news oddities, including NYC’s use of hawks to try and control the pigeon population, which backfired when small pets were targeted instead.
80 pages/$15 for Sub./$4.50/Magazine
Herbivore Clothing Co.
5254 NE 32nd Place, Portland, OR 97211
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #13
This was the chocolate issue for me. I like chocolate, but only in small doses - it is too rich otherwise. I nibbled a few pages at a time, stretching the issue out for weeks. If you enjoy short fiction and essays this one comes highly recommended.
72 pages/1/2 Legal/$5 (color cover)
Gavin Grant, 176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
Low Hug #10
I brought this with me on vacation and felt compelled to write A.j. as soon as I finished reading it. Unfortunately I had a momentary bout of stupidity and mailed the letter without postage. Aggg. This is an intensely solid issue from cover to cover. A.j. discusses her disillusionment with zine cliques and her and the infighting that happens. She doesn’t let the idea rest there and takes it into the idea of identity, complete with footnotes. The theme of this issue is “personal treatises on technology,” and offers essays on typewriters, CBs, portable radios, computers, Atari games, 8-Tracks, dead technology, BBS, and cable tv. One contributor attempts to find love online and details his results, including the eHarmony marathon questionnaire and translating what headlines mean in personal ads. Recommended.
A.j. Michel, 112 Muir Ave., PMB 1057, Hazelton, PA 18201; email@example.com
A quintessential per-zine, where the writer, rather the person, reveals multiple layers, experiences, viewpoints, talents, and that indefinable quality that makes you want to spend an hour in someone else’s brain. Go with Matt as he performs at open mike nights, deals with work woes that include a child pornographer, and a short story about mannequin love. This is one of my absolute favorites.
Also from Matt is An Introduction to the Art of Sensory Book Assessment. I’ve already tried to describe this to two people at work. Ultimately I just ordered them copies. In essence this is about judging a book by its cover. It is finely crafted satire.
1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464, Chicago, IL 60622
Right under my nose. Tim Kreider sat right under my nose for years. He lived what amount to up the road, and a matter of weeks after I moved into Baltimore city he sent me copies of his zines. Agggg. I had enjoyed his cartoons in City Paper for years and didn’t realize he was local. His comics are both personal and political and offer a dark, bitter, cynical….well…optimism. He knows this isn’t how life, or our government, should be. And folks, get Bush out of there this fall or Tim might just set the Guinness record for bitterness.
Tim Kreider, PO Box 422, Chestertown, MD 21914; firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. He has a book coming out from Fantagraphics this spring (ISBN: 1560975687)
The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus #7
I was sorry to say goodbye to the Emus in this final installment. I had gotten used to them coming over and trashing the place every few months. Don’t miss these last few chapters, or better yet, get all seven issues and read their adventures start to finish.
Wred Fright, PO Box 770984, Lakewood, OH 44107; email@example.com
Normally I’d have turned a comic over to one of the reviewers who does one or has a deep affinity for them. However, I read this and was really impressed and decided to be greedy. Drawn in scratchboard, the main character is still absorbed in her favorite soap opera as her best friend grows away from their childhood-shared closeness. The twilight of fiction and reality meld for a moment. Recommended.
24 pages/comic-sized/$2.95 cover/$4.50 PP/$5 International/Trades
Emily Blair, PO Box 558, Brooklyn, NY 11211; Emily@scenerychewer.com
Frances is back after what seems like a long absence (zine time is such a fickle creature). This cleverly designed perzine delves into Frances’ 40th year, even offering a centerfold board game of Frannyland, which navigates through the first four decades. She struggles with taking the pill, smoking, meditation, problems at work, getting a new car, and trying to figure out if her shower curtain includes an image of frog sex. Books are mentioned throughout and there are several reviews. Cool acetate cover.
Frances Biscotti, PO Box 8782, Erie, PA 16505
Tales From A Deliberate Life Nov ‘03
Christopher describes himself as, “…an underpaid labor monkey. I am also a transsexual. I am also a poet. So laugh at my life and enjoy!” I’ve read Christopher’s other zine, Zen Baby, and I must admit I liked this short, personal vignette-style much better. The details were more fleshed out, offered deeper glimpses, and was easier to read. Raw perzines like this are what keeps me hooked on zines.
15 pages/ Digest/$2 US & Can/$3 World/Trade
Christopher Robin, PO Box 1611, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Things are Meaningless
by Al Burian
This is a bound collection of Al Burian’s comics. With the minimalist panels he shuffles from youth to adult and place to place in a gentle stagger, witnessing much and coming to understand more. He is uneasy in his own skin, but seems at peace with that. And as his teenage self says, “There’s something so wrong about buying super big gulps with food stamps.” Recommended.
Microcosm, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR 97293; www.microcosmpublishing.com