I don't get to my PO Box as often as I used to. It was once a bi-weekly journey, filled with anticipation and hope. Of course, the volume of mail used to be bigger, back in the day when my zine's circulation was larger and my energy for making contacts in the zine world higher. These days I'm coasting on my own melt and enjoying it, and the volume of mail has leveled off. So I make it to the post office about once or twice a month. I still get lots of neato zines, a few crumpled bills for subscriptions, and the occasional letter from an old zine pal.
Oh, and the returned issues of my zine.
This vexes me. I am quite vexed. The Inner Swine mailing list is ancient and sanctified by time—there are people on that list who have been getting the zine for thirteen years, dammit. Not always voluntarily, but still. The mailing list has expanded and shrunk over the years—sometimes people buy a subscription and then don't have any burning desire to buy another subscription, which is fine. Sometimes, out of the blue someone who's been buying the zine for years sends me a note that they don't want to see it any more, which is also fine. But then there are the folks who, after receiving TIS for years, move away to some new address and never bother informing me. The zine gets forwarded to them a few times, and then Bam! I get one back with the Yellow Sticker of Fuck You on it.
I hate the Yellow Sticker of Fuck You.
The YSoFU, loosely translated, means the person on the other end thinks so little of you they don't really care if you waste the money it cost to create and mail their issue to them. They think so little of the zine they've been receiving for years they can't be bothered to send me an email or a postcard announcing their change of address or their desire to never see my zine again. I am not, in other words, worth twenty-seven cents and thirty seconds of their time.
Now, there are, of course, other explanations. Death, certainly, can result in some returned mail. Incarceration. Dementia. Kidnapping. Alien abduction. There's also the tasty possibility that they actually started tossing your zine into the garbage six years ago, unread, envelope unopened, and as a result had a better chance of solving the unified field theory than remembering to alert you to their sudden move. After all, the Post Office provides a nice, impersonal service for those of us stupid enough to mail our wares to the reading public: that's right, the YELLOW STICKER OF FUCK YOU.
Sometimes, certainly, the YSoFU is my own damn fault, sure. I'm a man who can't remember to wear pants half the time, kids, I sure do send out my share of misaddressed zines. We are not, after all, a corporation with employees, unless the imaginary Rat in a Smoking Jacket and the imaginary Leprechaun named McEgo that I regularly hallucinate after drinking anything in the house that might contain alcohol count as employees. Which I don't think they do. Though I will make a note here to have my legal team—comprised of two monkeys wearing superman outfits that may, possibly, also be imaginary—look into it. So yes, often the appearance of a YSoFU is pretty much my own damn fault, especially when I notice I've addressed the zine to “President, Washington” or “Pope, Italy”.
But soooo many of them come from folks who just couldn't be bothered to tip me off that they didn't want the damn zine any more. Or who thought so little of the zine that it never entered their minds. Either way, I get the Yellow Sticker, and all I can do is making tiny fists of rage in the post office, which means I'll be followed by the Postal Police for a few weeks. Again.
Please, when you move, please alert your zine publishers to the fact. Or someone might start tracking you to your new location and mailing you monkey feces. I'm just sayin'.
Who and What We Are
Xerography Debt is a review zine for zine readers by zine writers (and readers). It is a hybrid of review zine and personal zine (the ancestor to many blogs). The paper version has been around since 1999. This blog thing is are attempt to bridge the gap between Web 2.0 and Paper 1.0. Print is not dead, but it is becoming more pixelated.