Who and What We Are
Saturday, August 30, 2008
A Charles Bronson impersonator "singing" about "Punk Rock Creeps." It just makes me laugh. Also, on the weekend of Sept. 20-21 I will be attending the Boston Zine Fair along with the debuting Fish with Legs #12. For info check http://www.bostonzinefair.org/
Anyhow, some reviews
SKIN DEEP- I sort of admire people with tattoos. To think that somebody could walk into a tattoo parlor, show the tattoo artist the design they want and say "Yes, I want this design on my body until the day I die. Through all the sags and wrinkles and fading and weight gains and weight losses and changes in my tastes and everything else that could happen in my life I am confident that this design is something I want to take with me on all my life's journeys." It's quite a decision when you think about it. And a lot of people don't seem to put much thought into the whole thing. For Christ's sake, man, of all the designs in the universe you could pick and you end up with a god damn "tribal symbol"? Or an Asian character? If something is going to be so closely identified with you don't you want it to at least be a little creative? Do you really wanna go through life looking like a tool who got a tattoo just for the sake of getting a tattoo? Is the sheer thrill of having colored ink in your skin so great that you'd be willing to get any old thing? Me, I know this is a decision worth taking seriously and I also know it's not one I could make. I have a way of deciding something is funny and brilliant for a couple of days and then all of a sudden realizing it was never all that funny to begin with. Any tattoo I got I know I would soon regret. At any rate, if you haven't figured it out by now, this is a zine full of tattoo stories. Not so much the boring "How I got my tattoo" stories but stories about why they got their tattoos and what they mean along with some sidebars on the history of tattooing and photos of tattoos (including 4 color pages. J. Gavin Heck's little alligator over the nipple is exactly the sort of tattoo I would get thinking it was the funniest thing ever only to get sick of it in a week or 2. But it's small so what the Hell? And William P Tandy's is pretty awesome looking and I'm not superstitious enough to think it is anything more than a cool looking tattoo) I really enjoyed this one. Worth reading if you're into tattoos or are even just interested in knowing about other's ink. And regarding Rahne Alexander's bio- the myth that tattoo ink being magnetic and causing you great harm if you go through an MRI has been debunked by the Mythbusters. That really doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I take great pleasure in using something I learned watching Mythbusters in everyday conversation. 5.5 x 8.5 60 pages. Send $3 to Eight-Stone Press PO Box 11064 Baltimore MD 21212 http://www.eightstonepress.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
BIPEDAL, BY PEDAL- Bikers are another group of people I admire. I don't mean motorcyclists, who I have no opinion of one way or the other, but people who ride bikes. Riding your bike to and from work every day? That shit's exhausting, yo. I attempted to do this for a little while (the full story of that one will be in the next Fish with Legs. Unless I forget or it's too boring to wrote about) and I'd see people cruising on their bikes like it was nothing while my legs would feel like rubber after riding halfway down the block. I haven't given up on biking, but for now I'm walking. At any rate, this zine covers the Critical Mass movement. What is Critical Mass? Basically it's a huge (or not huge. It all depends on who shows up) bike ride (or skateboard ride or roller blade ride or a walk. Any form of self propelled transportation is accepted but it seems mostly for bikers) that takes place at 5:30 on the last Friday of the month. The basic goal is to fuck things up for people trying to drive home from work by clogging the streets with a critical (and legal) mass of bikes and the like. Kinda sucks for the semi responsible folks who take the bus, but them's the breaks I guess. This is a surprisingly even handed look at the whole movement. It's obviously pro bike, but it doesn't shy away from mentioning some of the more negative aspects of the ride. I was expecting this to just be "Critical Mass! Critical Mass ! Rah rah rah!" propaganda but it was actually a fair look at the whole thing. I enjoyed this zine more than I expected to. 4.25 x 5.5 40 pages no price listed Joe Biel 222 S. Rogers St Bloomington IL47404 http://www.microcosmpublishing.com/
PICARESQUE #10 This is what I like to call a great short attention span zine. As the author describes it this is a zine of "some stories. some funny, some not" which nicely sums it up. For the most part the ones meant to be funny are funny and the ones that are not aren't. They're all short personal stories about girlfriends and drinking and working as a teacher and a high school reunion and all kinds of things. And if you don't like one the next one is no more than half a page away. The stories are loosely connected, but for the most part you can flip anywhere and read anything and enjoy it. The perfect zine to leave next to the toilet. 20 pages ("some blank") 5.5 x 8.5 Brendan Rocks 9-17 Mayes St. Stawell, Victoria/ Australia 3380 email@example.com
More reviews very soon
Friday, August 29, 2008
As zine makers never tire to state, making a zine is in itself an awesome thing, and every person who takes the time to write, put together and share his or her creation with other people deserves to be praised. This said, it’s also true that too many zines are not all that interesting. Between poorly chosen subjects, navel-gazing perziners, and just plain bad writers, I sometimes wonder why I waste my time reading so-so stuff instead of a good book. Luckily once in a while I discover something truly different that manages to both entertain and inform. American Gun Culture Report goes even beyond that, as editor Ross Eliot tackles a controversial subject in an original, thought-provoking way. The subject, of course, is gun control; the role firearms play within society and culture; and how they relate to power, violence, and politics. More importantly, Ross wants to show that not all gun owners are your stereotypical supporters of the status quo or racist paranoiacs. As he writes in the premiere issue of AGCR, “there should be no contradiction between advocating for human rights as well as gun rights.” (To get the idea, you only have to check his web site out and have a look at the photo gallery, featuring a seemingly out of place bunch of gays, Goths, and other strangely clothed people at a shooting range in Portland).
I was born and raised in Italy, and Europe has been for years an anti-gun environment. My father was a police officer, and in my family we all knew where he kept his pistol, but the place was strictly off-limits and I never even dreamed of touching it. For the last 16 years, then, I have lived in Japan, a country where firearm ownership is severely restricted. They put you in prison even if you own a modified toy gun. Indeed, the general opinion here is that the strict national laws must be thanked for the very low rate of violent deaths. With such a background, you can imagine the attitude with which I approached this zine (let’s say “open but skeptical”). Also, I keep thinking that the USA is in many respects an extreme country with extreme social conditions, and what can be considered acceptable and even necessary for people living there – “we have a moral right and responsibility to defend ourselves and our families against harm” (Wild West style) – is a little out of place in our countries. But Ross really does a very fine job of balancing all the different points of views. Another thing I noticed is that in the span of three issues, he has somewhat expanded the scope of AGCR from a strictly-gun-talk zine to a place where social and political issues are thoroughly explored. And of course there is the writing: AGCR currently boasts some of the most interesting, articulate, wickedly funny writers in zinedom. And no, Ross didn’t have to point a gun to my head to make me write such a good review. Order AGCR and find for yourself.
American Gun Culture Report, issues #1-3, $3.00, $10.00 for a 4-issue subscription, 52 pages www.myspace.com/agcr308
Saturday, August 23, 2008
What's shaking? I have a new novel,Blog Love Omega Glee, now being serialized on my blog, http://wredfright.blogspot.com It's not as cool as a doing it as a zine like Emus, but it's a lot cheaper (I think for the cost of putting out seven issues of Emus as a zine, I could have just published it as a book--but of course that wouldn't have been as much fun). Anyway enough about that novel, this novel's set in 2012 and about two bloggers who fall in love while the world falls apart, but the plot is mainly just the skeleton to hang the silliness on. I'll also let you in on a secret, the novel was supposed to be about two zine publishers, but I changed my mind at the last minute and made them bloggers instead because being bloggers in 2012 seemed retro enough.
Friday, August 22, 2008
240 pages, 7x9.25", paperback (11 oz)
"Microcosm is sending off 2007's Zine Yearbook to the printer! We stepped up the effort this year to include relevant articles about the year in zines - super fun zine fests, life changing experiences, amazing pen pal connections, and stories from people who hold zines dear to their hearts. We are trying to create a representative collection of not only reprints from zines published in 2007 but also a pulse of what 2007 was like for zines! Twice the size of previous zine yearbooks with mostly preserved original layouts! Our neighbor Rchrd designed the cover."
send a copy to:
360 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10010
I guess it wouldn't hurt if it said Attention: Zine Reviews Column on
there somewhere, as well.
The zine reviews column appears in print and online 4 times a year on the
1st of the month in March, May, September, and November.
Submitted zines should be zines (e.g. not newsletters, self-published
books, chapbooks, anything with a spine, most anything with a masthead,
etc.). Low end artist's books and minicomics will be considered.
Jenna Freedman, MLIS
Coordinator of Reference Services
and Zine Librarian
Barnard College Library
AIM, Google Talk & Yahoo: BarnardLibJenna
Back to the Roots
I’m a hardcore townie and could never live in the countryside, let alone engage in such activities as gardening or growing my own vegetables. This of course does not mean that I don’t enjoy reading about people who lead that kind of life and more generally embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. I actually envy them because I’m conscious that they are fundamentally right and it is people like me who are ruining our dead old planet.
Enter Dan Murphy and Trace Ramsey, two nice guys who like to get their hands dirty and rant about their life choices. Dan describes himself as a “gentleman farmer” (“but just because it sounds cool,” he adds) and his zine The Juniper as 1) the journal of a budding horticulturist; 2) a flippant response to the Man’s agenda; and 3) a heartfelt attempt at knocking some sense into society. The two issues I have (#9 and #10) are rather slim but they are very worth reading. In issue #9, for example, he writes about his experience working as the assistant farm manager of an organic farm near the
Even Trace is actively engaged in supporting local and organic farms. He has been putting out his zine Quitter since 2005. After publishing five issues, he has decided to collect the whole lot into a 40-page hand-made book and he was kind enough to send me copy #35 (I know because each copy is numbered). The object itself is a little jewel, with a great color cover and color and b/w illustrations throughout. And then there’s the writing, of course. Put it simply, I believe that the best writing is the kind that 1) manages to be engaging regardless of the subject; 2) makes me think; and most of all 3) makes me feel like I want to take highlighter and pen and cover the pages with comments and orange marks. Quitter managed to do all these things.
Trace writes what he calls creative non fiction, and through the years has developed the ability to put common words together in original combinations. He manages to be sophisticated in a natural, unassuming way. At the same time, he anchors his rants with stories taken from his memories. Sometimes he will write something like “I was born with an extra pair of ribs” and the reader (or at least a dumb reader, such as myself) will search for hidden meanings until he realizes that is the plain truth. Apart from the autobiographical notes, the common theme that returns in all the five issues is Trace’s decision to “quit” the kind of world that humankind has turned into a huge pile of garbage. Quitting a job he hates and translates into “someone else’s hopes and mortgage and car payments;” quitting unconscious consumption; temporarily quitting the civilized world in order to live for three months in “solitary confinement” in a forest and study the breeding habits of a small songbird… What he will not quit is fighting to “preserve the history of (…) an idea that would often be considered irrelevant by the dominant culture,” and writing “for an audience that is resilient in its opposition of being taken for granted.” What can you ask more from a zine?
Back to Dan, he publishes another zine, Elephant Mess, that couldn’t be more different from The Juniper. I’ve got issue #19 that is supposed to be a kind of celebration (it is subtitled “Nice Things – The Ten Year Anniversary”) but the general mood is rather gloomy. As much as The Juniper is a call to go out and do stuff, this one is the occasion to explore darker places. It’s all about things that hurt, old wounds that never heal, and longing for solitude. As Dan himself admits, “I enjoy the reactions I receive when I routinely embody pessimism.” Luckily Dan doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, and the overall effect is often amusing. Another major difference is the writing: The Juniper’s plain, direct style is replaced here by a more convoluted prose, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Even though Dan thinks he often sounds like an imbecile, I find this a rewarding reading experience. If you want to know 101 more things about Dan, you can have a look at his blog (listed below)
The Juniper and Elephant Mess, $2 each, Dan Murphy, P.O. Box 3154, Moskow, ID 83843, USA,
Quitter, $15 plus shipping. Trace Ramsey,
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Text submissions are preferably received as attached Word documents.
Images should be in .JPG or .TIF format (300+ dpi) and measure approximately 5x7 (horizontal or vertical).
All contributors will receive three (3) complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears.
Send your submissions/inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2008.