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.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Call for Submissions: Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!

BALTIMORE - Literary zine Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! is accepting submissions of sex-related stories, essays, poetry, photography and other artwork for a forthcoming special issue through Tuesday, January 5, 2010. Creative non-fiction is preferred (we're not looking for Penthouse's sloppy seconds here), though all submissions will be considered. Articles (100 – 2,000 words) are preferably received via e-mail (wpt@eightstonepress.com) as attached Word documents. Image files should be approximately 5" x 7", 300+ dpi (.JPG or .TIF format). All contributors will receive a byline/artist credit for their work as well as two (2) complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears. (Note: Contributors may use their own names, or, for anonymity, adopt a nom de plume, preferably of a raunchy or comical nature, for the purposes of the issue.)

From the harbor to the hills, the award-winning Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! collects the tales of those on whom Mobtown has left her indelible mark. Polished, professional essays; barroom sermons delivered from the sanctity of a favorite stool; the poet’s fleeting sentiment, captured in both word and snapshot – Smile, Hon offers a slice of Baltimore as told by Baltimore, presented with the time-honored DIY accessibility of a limited-run, handcrafted zine. A two-time Utne Independent Press Award nominee, Smile, Hon has also been dubbed "Best Zine" by Baltimore Magazine (2008) and Baltimore City Paper (2004). Previous "theme" issues have tackled such topics as rats, scars, crime, tattoos, transit and the supernatural.

An Eight-Stone Press production, Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! is distributed by Atomic Books (Baltimore); Cyclops Books & Music (Baltimore); Microcosm Publishing (Bloomington, IN, and Portland, OR); Quimby's (Chicago) and Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse (Baltimore). For more information, contact:

William P. Tandy, Editor
Eight-Stone Press
P.O. Box 11064
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
E-mail: Wpt@eightstonepress.com
Website: http://www.eightstonepress.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/eightstonepress
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wptandy
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/eightstonepress

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shop Locally This Holiday Season!

The Eight-Stone Press Shopping Guide offers a guide to many things indy, especially in Baltimore for this holiday season. You'll find zombies (movies and zines), ghost stories, music, t-shirts, books, food, photography and more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


If you missed SMILE, HON editor/publisher William P. Tandy on the October 28 edition of THE INDIEBOOKMAN RADIO SHOW, you can now listen to the podcast online at http://indiebookman.podbean.com/2009/11/13/radio-show-4-william-p-tandy/. Hosted by Brad Grochowski, THE INDIEBOOKMAN is a biweekly radio show which airs on Umbrella Radio Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. (EST) and explores issues related to independent publishing. Check out other episodes of THE INDIEBOOKMAN RADIO SHOW at http://indiebookman.podbean.com/.

Xerpgraphy Debt #26 Available Dec 1st!

Available from Microcosm Dec. 1st!

To order a copy of this issue, please send $3 (order online, or send cash, stamps, money order, or check) to Microcosm Publishing

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maynard Reviews some Zines (November 2009)

Dwelling Portably, 2000-2008
$7.00; 165 pages paperback bound
ISBN 978-1-934620-61-8

Eight years of brief, How-To essays from zine readers and from Bert and Holly – the experts in the art and science of living an off-the-grid lifestyle.

To a person trapped in a midlife crisis, with no survival skills, slowly dying of ennui and purposelessness, and hopelessly burned out by the workplace, this is the best armchair reading Fate can deliver.

To an aspiring survivalist, it's truly great stuff.

Multitude of topics are covered in the excellent index. Learn about what happens when social services finds a family living in the “wild”; how to live on an improvised boat; jug vs spray showers; solar cooking; squatting in an empty house; candles vs flashlight longterm costs.

It's all thought provoking, and makes one wonder about all the hours wasted in an office just so one can have the creature comforts, and if they are worth the effort.....

Urinal Gum, vol. 8
$2.00; ¼ sheet; 41 pages.
P.O. Box 1243
Eugene, OR 97440

Amusing potty-humor zine with news-like essays on random topics. Highlight is a “Field Trip to the Roller Derby Bout.” By Bjorn Stevens. Gives an excellent history and synopsis of the game, its rules and culture.

Zine contains lots of foul language and adult topics. Includes book reviews and a film review of the ancient Bond flick, Thunderball. Why? I don't know, but the review is great.

Late Night Cuddle Date, vol. 3 [2008]
No price listed.
Holden Wakefield Attradies

Not quite a poem, not quite a story, but infinitely readable, personal and vital. Somehow the author (Attradies) is able to draw people and scenes with minimal ink, with mind-blowing simplicity; a slightly heroin-tinged, muddle that takes the edge off, but gives incredible clarity.

Duplex Planet, #169
$12 / 6 issues; $25 / 15 issues (US)
$12 / 5 issues; $25 / 12 issues (Canada)
$12 / 4 issues; $25 / 10 issues (Overseas)
Back issues $2.50 ea. 10 or more $2 ea
ISSN 0882-2549
P.O. Box 1230
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Biographical interviews conducted by David Greenberger at nursing homes, adult centers and meal sites.

Gives fascinating, brief glimpses into the history, and personalities of a diverse group of older Americans. Gives one pause to think who will listen to our stories of life before the Internet, and how we weathered the crash of 1999, 2001, 2008.....

The Inner Swine, vol. 15, issue 1
$2.00; 60 pages
subscribe 1 year: $5.00; 2 years $9.00; Lifetime for $50.00 (US dollars)
P.O. Box 3024
Hoboken, NJ

So you want to be a middle-aged, midlist writer? This issue covers how to achieve this remarkable goal in 3 easy steps. Amusing highlights: how to not handle criticism of your work, bad writing in movies, the uselessness of Twitter and Facebook, and a complaint about blogging. Me thinks he even took a swipe at my own self-important, economics blog. Oh well, I suppose as long as they're talking about you, that is not such a bad thing.

Or to quote a poorly remembered Chinese proverb: if the poet doesn't anger the Emperor, he isn't doing his job.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In My Mailbox

Here we go again: Jeff struggled out of bed and huffed on over to the PO BOx for treats:

- The Ken Chronicles ($2, Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554-1120; passscribe@aol.com)

The latest issue of Ken's ongoing perzine, always a fun read.

- Blackguard #2 ($5, Box 93, Paddington NSW 2021, Australia; blackguard23.livejournal.com; sstratu@gmail.com).

Let me just say, Blackguard #2 is gorgeous. Digest-sized, full color cover, HQ paper stock—it's a delight to hold and read. I'd say it's well worth $5 (postpaid!) to get this lump of great words from Australia. Plus, they love The Swine, what more do you need?

- Rigor Mortis #2 ($3 [or 1 MRE], Davida Gypsy Breier, POB 11064, Baltimore, MD 21212; davida@leekinginc.com; www.leekinginc.com)

Joy in catville here. Another sixty pages of everything undead? Yes please.

- Smog City #1 ($4, POB 29753, Los Angeles, CA 90027; wospress@gmail.com)

An interestingly laid-out litzine with some aerchitectural surprises and plenty of fiction.

- Birdsongs by Jason Deas (3 Day Ranch Press, jasonwdeas@gmail.com). A novel, actually, available on Amazon.

- Wasted Quarter (many issues, no price or mail info listed). Certainly the address to send money to for this zine was probably included when I received them, but I can't find it printed anywhere in the actual zines. Perhaps I am an idiot. This is an interesting zine filled with a *lot* of stories, but all I can offer if you're intrigued is the email address h0nkass@aol.com. Good luck.

That's it! Hope everyone is flu-free and moderately tipsy.


Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Friday, October 9, 2009

COMING CLEAN - Deadline now 11/1/2009!‏

The deadline has been extended until NOVEMBER 1, 2009!

Call for Entries: COMING CLEAN

After zines about the laundry (Laundry Basket), grocery shopping (12 Items or Less), and cooking (Potluck), this was inevitable. The next issue of SYNDICATE PRODUCT is all about cleaning... house cleaning, washing the car, even picking up the yard debris. (However, it's NOT about laundry, as that's already been done. It's also not about packratting, as that's also been done.)

A few possible ideas:
+ apartment or house move in/out cleaning stories
+ making your own eco-friendly cleaning products
+ I hate to BLANK (dust, vacuum, clean the gutters)
+ biggest cleaning disaster
+ living with a hoarder or a neatnik
+ the most disgusting abandoned item found in the back of the fridge or shoved in a cabinet
+ what I learned about cleaning from my family/friends/ex
+ my biggest cleaning challenge is BLANK


Writers: I'm not going to get too hung up on length for this issue, but I would say between 400-800 words is a good size. If you need to go longer, please do. If the writing is good enough, people will want to read it to the end. I'll let you know if a piece is simply too huge.

Comic artists: The zine will be Digest Sized. Final art size should reduce to 4.5 x 7.5 inches. You can have two pages, but this can be negotiated if needed. B&W only, the zine will be photocopied. Send art as 300dpi TIF files. Also, once entries are in, I may be looking for small illustrations to accompany some of the stories.
Contributors will receive a copy of the final project.

Due date and where to submit: OCTOBER 11, 2009*. Submit your entries to syndprod@gmail.com, either by simply pasting the text into an e-mail, or as an OpenOffice, MS Word, or plain text document. If you want to mail them, send them to: A.j. Michel, PO Box 877, Lansdowne, PA 19050.
* Due date subject to extension if needed, as it usually is.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Announcing the outbreak of RIGOR MORTIS #2 from its Baltimore-based containment facilities. Horror fans are advised to recognize and beware of the symptoms associated with the zine’s sophomore issue, including, but not limited to:

- Dread Sockett aims for the heart of Klaus Kinski’s Nosferatu;
- Colin Cthulhu rises from the grave in defense of the “ZomCom”;
- DeadVida survives a night in Colorado’s legendary Stanley Hotel;
- John Carpenter’s THE FOG weathers Grim Pickens’s sea trials;
- “Christian horror”, paranormal reality shows, plus a whole lot more.

Written and illustrated by long-time fixtures in the underground press, RIGOR MORTIS digs into the world of horror with a decided focus on the undead and their perennial roles in pop culture, offering essays, reviews and in-depth analysis of films, books, comics, graphic novels, websites and more. From the Resurrection to REANIMATOR, the timeless influences of RIGOR MORTIS #2 will surely appeal to shamblers and sprinters alike.

Supplementing the print edition, the RIGOR MORTIS blog (http://livingdeadzine.blogspot.com/) offers timely updates of all things undead.

RIGOR MORTIS is a Leeking Inc. production and is available for purchase from Atomic Books (http://atomicbooks.com/products/-/13536.html), Microcosm Publishing (http://www.microcosmpublishing.com) and Quimby’s (http://www.quimbys.com), or directly from the publisher (PayPal accepted). For more information, contact:

Davida Gypsy Breier
C/o Leeking Inc.
P.O. Box 11064
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
Paypal to: Davida@leekinginc.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Birthing Zine Call for Stories

"I'm interested in compiling a zine of birthing stories, but not only birthing in the conventional way. Did you have a baby? Did your partner have a baby? Did you adopt a baby? Do you know the story of your own birth and would like to share it? Did you choose not to have a birthing story (i.e. abortion)? Did your birthing story end due to miscarriage, still birth, or another ending? What is your story and do you want to share it? We all have different stories, and some are more accepted than others. I'd like to put them all together."

"If you have a story you'd like to tell, please send entries to rebekahb@temple.edu or hard copies to Rebekah B/PO Box 3786/Philadelphia, PA 19125. I'd love to have submissions by December 1st."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NERVES #4- I’ve gotta admit, I do enjoy it when a zine comes with a CD. Unfortunately in this case I haven’t had a chance to listen to the CD, which contains music made by the zine’s author Alex along with a few other songs, but it’s the principle of the thing. It shows that Alex cares enough to throw in something extra. As for the zine itself...well, it was pretty doggone good. Plain text with a few photos interspersed to spice things up. It’s mostly short pieces- Van Reviews where Alex talks about van’s he’s owned, Airport Reviews, and Oral Surgeon reviews (which includes the suggestion “Go to the dentist more than once every 10 years” which is advice I oughta follow) It’s a pretty quick read, but I rather enjoyed it. 16 pages quarter size + a CD Send $5 or a trade to Alex 1920 North Kedzie Ave #3 Chicago IL 60647 www.some-music.org alexh@riseup.net

MILKYBOOTS #6 The author says this is “a diary comic about daily life for Virginia (the author) in simple black & white line drawings.” Now look, I kow the little form you fill out asks a description, but when you’re that succinct about it it really doesn’t leave the reviewer with much to do. Virginia’s own description pretty much sums it up. Though I do beg to differ about the “simple” line art. It’s not exactly highly detailed, but it’s much more than just stick figures. Some of the pages are funny, some are sad, some are somewhere in between and some just are. I liked this one. 16 half size pages. send $2 or trade (maybe) to Virginia Paine 3712 NE 13th Ave, Portland OR 97212 vlpaine@yahoo.com, milkyboots.blogspot.com

CULTIVATOR #1- This one looks just like an old school zine. Cut & paste back when it referred to actually cutting and pasting pieces of paper to each other instead of just making a few clicks on your mouse. The theme of this issue is “Know your place” where the author writes about the place that she both grew up and recently moved back to, the city of St. Catharines ONT. She examines it then and now and I found it quite interesting, especially her discussion of how from one of the largest producers of bikes in all of Canada to a place that barely even welcomes bike riding. Speaking of which, this zine contains a picture of a guy riding one of those old timey bikes with the giant front wheel and the tiny back wheel to illustrate her hometown’s bike obsession. (Yes, I know these bikes are called Penny Farthings, but if I’d have just said “a penny farthing” you may not have known what they were.) (Oooh... I’m totally going to type “penny farthing” into Scribblenauts and see what happens.) At any rate, I got to wondering just whose idea these bikes were? They seem very difficult just to get seated on, they can’t go very fast and they seem quite dangerous to fall off of. Since they didn’t have a lot of electrical devices back then you’d think at the very least they could have taken the time to perfect the design of what they did have. Maybe people really were stupider back then, but you’d think the guy who invented bikes would be smart enough to take another few minutes to make both wheels the both size. OK, I liked this zine. Good stuff. 40 pages, 4.5 x 5.5 Send $2 or a trade to Kate Andres-Toal 16 Atwood St., St. Catharines, ON, L2R 1H1, Canada

RICOCHET, RICOCHET #8- This is another zine that looks like and old school zine. But the typewriter they used for parts of this zine needs a new ribbon. And I can’t quite read some of the handwriting. However, it does come with a free CD and as I mentioned previously, I always like that. I didn’t get a chance to listen to this one either. As far as the overall content of the zine it’s pretty good. Not quite the kind of thing I tend to read but good nonetheless. Some zine reviews, a bit on Prop 8 (which is funny just because they’re from England and I can’t imagine any American zine caring enough to write a piece related to American politics. Not even American politics, but California politics. Maybe Americans are just apathetic goofs.) and dueling restaurant reviews by a married couple who were visiting San Francisco which I liked. Pretty good, but some parts just aren’t as readable as they could (or should be) Half size send $3 US or 80p UK or trade to Colly & Paffy 3d Worlingham Rd, London Se22 9HD UK, ricochetricochet@yahoo.co.uk

ETC #4- LIFT OFF- A lit zine made up of art and writing of a variety of people, but the main architects appear to be Dan Folgar and Chris Wiewiora. Like most zines of this type it’s a hit or miss affair. I liked the comics, didn’t care much for the poems (and to be fair I never care for any poetry) and I found the fiction to be kind of a mixed bag. It’s definitely a nice looking package with a nice cardboard cover. Lots of care clearly went into the layout and it shows. I’d say it’s worth reading even if the whole thing isn’t your cup of tea. Half size send $4 to ETC zine, PO Box 678421 Orlando FL 32867-8421 ETCzine@gmail.com

WTF? #1: JETSET ANALOG FUTURE- This is also sort of a lit zine, but by only one author. I rather enjoyed most of it. The Dystopian Tales are funny (I even kinda liked the poems) There are a few bits that kinda fall flat, but they are pretty short so I can deal with them. It’s well done, especially for a first issue. Certainly worth a read if you’re into a humorous lit zine kinda deal. Half size, 24 pages, send $3 to DJ Burnett PO Box 131 Fryburg, PA 16326 djburnett@yahoo.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

In My Mailbox 9-18-09


Today may well be the best weather since the formation of the world, at least in Hoboken, NJ. So naturally I put on my walking pants and wandered over to my PO Box. The children teased me cruelly as I huffed and puffed my way there, but I made it! I am an hero.

Aside from some letters (including one from a prisoner who had his issue kicked back because I dared to include a sticker, which is a new reason for the prison system to treat me like I'm trying to raise an army of felons with which to conquer America), I got:

- Worst Future Ever! #1 and #2 ($1 / trade, JD, POB 340971, Columbus, OH 43234; worstfutureever.blogspot.com). A neat, slim digest-sized that considers the various ways in which the future sucks in the imagination. Issue #1 has as a theme the Red Menace and explores films like Red Dawn and Amerika in brief essays; #2 gives the 1990s the same treatment.

- Johnny America #7 ($4 US, $5 Canadian in Canada, 3 pounds for UK, POB 44-2001, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044; www.johnnyamerica.net/store) The McSweeneys of zines returns to my mailbox with a nice-looking issue made of heavy, good quality paper, a nifty purple cover, and many words. Which is, I confess, how I like my zines.

And that was it. I tned to get a lot more correspondence than zines these days, for some reason. Perhaps folks want to keep the mail coming but aren't putting out issues any more - who knows? I myself just went from 4 issues to 2 a year, so maybe it's just the continental drift of the DIY pub world.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2 by Kelly Froh, plus Brooklyn!

both by Kelly Froh
quarter size, 28 pp with color cover (Debbie's Story), 46 pp. (Itch), $2 US/world ?, trades ?
414 12th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102

I love these little comics. The titles are fairly self-explanatory; the first being the story of a woman named Debbie: "She's my mom's sister, who kinda let herself go. She was always cheerful, with pink cheeks. She wore sweatpants, even on Thanksgiving, and still to this day has huge glasses." Debbie, it turns out, has a semi-secret former life, far more exciting than her current one, and it's both a cute read (the drawings and linework are charming) and sort of heartbreaking (in that 'you get what you settle for' sense). The second, the story of a woman in an assisted living home who from time to time would become something of a menace, much to the consternation of the entire staff. Turns out that every five years Dorothy Barry (not her real name!) would go on a rampage of sorts...and to tell you more might ruin the story. Both of these comics are worth tracking down. They're these evocative little books that are charming and I think you'll like them. See for yourself....

24 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 $10 for a 4 issue subscription
Fred Argoff
Penthouse L
1170 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn NY 11230

As was said in an earlier review: "The name of this zine is BROOKLYN and that's also what the zine is about, Fred's beloved borough of Brooklyn." I always enjoy reading an issue when it appears in my mailbox; this issue includes a rewrite of a fairy tale entitled "Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick, Jack be from Brooklyn" which is, as you'd expect, full of Brooklyn references. It's the first story in an issue that's kind of the Big Book of Brooklyn Fables; Lady Godiva riding through Park Slope, Peter Piper, Humpty-freakin'-Dumpty, ok?, Brooklyn-style nursery rhymes, and so on. I'm not from Brooklyn, though I have a few connections there, but I found the whole thing really entertaining. It's worth reading. I've never read an issue of BROOKLYN! that I didn't enjoy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Reviews

Some today, more tomorrow...

MY TIME ANNIHILATOR- A BRIEF HISTORY OF 1930’S SCIENCE FICTION FANZINES- I got a zine pet peeve. A lot of zinesters today think that zines started with the Punk zines of the 1970’s which is just not true. I don’t quite know how far back you can trade modern day zines, but you can definitely trace a straight line from zines today back to the sci-fi zines of the 30’s as this zine attempts to show. It all starts when the author of the zine finds something called “The Fanzine Index- From 1937 to the Present.” which was about 1952. He tries to do some research, but reaches dead ends until he finds a fanzine collection in Temple University and finds that this is his “ticket to a lackluster world of 1930’s zine trades, cancelled postage stamps, lazer battles and types” I thought his findings were quite interesting and would be of interest to any zine geek. What really struck m as funny was how little has really changed. The same basic breeds of people do zines now as did them then. 1/4 size, 30 pages, no author listed but I got my copy for $1 at this link right here- http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/2841/
THE RAINBOW CONNECTION- RICHARD HUNT, GAY MUPPETEER- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (though I don’t quite understand why I find myself saying it so often)- if you don’t like the Muppet Show you’re probably an asshole. It’s possible there are some non-assholes out there who don’t like the Muppet Show just like there are some non-assholes who don’t like the Ramones, but a dislike of the Muppet Show is certainly symptomatic of asshole-ism. At any rate, I’ve recently been going through a Muppet phase so I was pretty excited to see a zine about the Muppeteer who did the characters of Scooter, Statler, Beaker & Janice and the Sesame Street characters Gladys the Cow, Forgetful Jones & Bert’s nephew Brad who I mention just because I always got a kick out of him. Like me the author was also a Muppet fan who found herself going through a Muppet phase when she found that Richard Hunt died of AIDS in 1992 which got her curious about him and his work sp she made this zine about him and his work and the subtext behind it all. In addition to being a biography of Richard Hunt it also features short biographies of some of the female Muppeteers. Must read if you’re a Muppet fan. gaymuppeteer@gmail.com 1/2 legal, 82 pages I got it for $7 at Microcosm and the link is here-http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/2858/
HUNGOVER GOURMET #11- This is the “super sized” final issue which is kind of sad since it was a fine zine, but I guess it’s better to call it quits than to keep on going and doing it half assed. This is a zine about food and this issue is fairly coffee-centric with writings on coffee from a variety of writers. Everything from a history of coffee to a piece on coffee enemas to why Dunkin Donuts is better than Starbucks. But my favorite piece in the issue was Louis Fowler’s article “Stupid Size Me” in which he attempts to make it through a whole week on only $20 worth of groceries because apparently some politician said people wouldn’t need welfare if they only spent $20 a week on groceries. There’s no attribution to this quote so to be honest I have no idea if any politician said anything of the sort. It sure sounds too stupid to be true, but politicians being what they are I wouldn’t put it past them. And the article is entertaining enough that it doesn’t matter. Not only is it funny, it also makes a serious point about why so many poor people are so obese. This zine is god stuff all around. half size, 44 pages, send $3 to Dan taylor, PO Box 5531, Lutherville MD 21094-5531 www.hungovergourmet.com hungovergourmet.blogspot.com editor@hungovergourmet,.com

Friday, September 11, 2009

(Summer 2009)
by Pjm
4 ¼ x 5 ¼, 24 pp., $1 US/ $2 world, no trades
PO Box 2632
Bellingham, WA 98227

”Mail art contact zine in the spirit of Global Mail!” joyfully proclaims the information form stapled onto this zine, billed as an “analog beacon in the digital fog” and it’s kind of charming. It’s a pretty extensive listing of different Mail Art projects from a variety of different people throughout the world and folks are encouraged to send in their information. The deadlines are the fifteenth of March, July, November and the issues are published on the first of April, August, and December. Good resource if you’re into mail art.

(Summer 2009)
by Randy Robbins
digest-size 36 pp., $3 US/$? World, trades okay? (email to check)
PO Box 17131
Anaheim, CA 92817-7131

”With all the zine trading going on I had a lot of zines to write up, and thus Narcolepsy Press Review was born, mostly all zine reviews” writes Randy in the zine’s introduction, and he’s right: the bulk of this zine is reviews (well-written and very interesting) and also includes a very compelling autobio piece about the publisher’s heart transplant in early 2008. Certainly worth checking out for that alone.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Worst Future Ever (#1)

WORST FUTURE EVER #1 ("The red menace")
digest, "8 pages folded over"
$1 (US), $2 (world) ("for US, I will accept one stamp also"), trades OK
c/o J.D.
P.O. Box 340971
Columbus, OH 43234

J.D. sums up this first issue pretty succinctly in the zine description on XD's zine review info sheet: "The focus of this zine is how people imagines the future would turn out for the worst. This issue concerns people's fixation of a global communist takeover. To that end, movies like Red Dawn, and TV shows like Amerika, are analyzed from a personal perspective." For a first issue, the layout is uncomplicated and the zine well-organized. It's fairly text-heavy, though there are images incorporated into the text. I think, in time, there might be more to it; the issue itself is somewhat short and the reviews and analysis very much come from a personal perspective (what high school teacher has his or her class watch Red Dawn over and over again?! Yikes!). It'll be interesting to see how this zine develops in later issues; I'm not sure if the theme will switch from "The Red Menace!" to something else, but we shall see...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Anne Reviews In Waves

To start, quick reviews of zines I got in trade (so I guess trades would be okay?)

Half size, $3
c/o Vincent Voelz,
575 12th Ave #3,
San Francisco, CA 94118;
vvoelz@gmail.com, http://www.breakfastzine.com/

A new favorite for me (and very well might be for you). It’s fall here in New England, and that means cider doughnuts, and the timing of this zine in my mailbox could not have been better. This issue’s loaded with donuts—“new insights into donut phylogeny” graces the cover – but there’s other food goodies in there, from Hawaiian cuisine to a guest piece by Gianni Simone about funky New Year’s eats in Japan. But man oh man do I want to go to Voodoo Doughnuts something fierce now.

The Ken Chronicles #12
Digest size, $2
Ken Bausert,
2140 Erma Drive,
East Meadow, NY 11554-1120;
passscribe@aol.com; http://thekenbausertchronicles.blogspot.com/
Described pretty accurately elsewhere here (has everyone else been reading this longer than I have?) as a slice-of-life zine, I enjoyed reading though the back issues I was sent. Straightforward, funny and well-written, worth your time & money.

...and the first wave of what surprised me in my mailbox this time:

by Carolee Gilligan Wheeler
6 ¼ x 7 1/2, 52 pp., $4 US/ $5 world, no trades
PO Box 19706
Stanford, CA 94309

Described as “Prague, regret, anticipating, letdown, Berlin, loneliness, heartsickness, jet lag, travel, running away” this zine is oddly haunting and heartsick. It stayed with me long after I’d finished reading it, not only because it presents such a muted view of Prague and I’d just started planning a trip to Prague when I read it, but because the composition is so visually evocative and beautiful even when Wheeler’s writing about being miserable: “with my eyes and mind I can see how stunning and impressive Prague is, but my heart is cold” she writes, and she’s so stark about this chill that you begin to feel it as well. It’s not a cheery read, but it’s beautifully produced and I am so totally a sucker for pretty handwriting. (I am, however, inspired to make my own Prague zine if I go…!)

(half-legal?), 60 pp. $5, no trades (but a host of subscription options; check out the website)Small Beer Press
150 Pleasant St. #306
Easthampton MA 01027

I’ve only recently become something of a fan of LCRW; it’s a literary magazine with beautiful production values; impeccable layout and the guts of the thing are good too: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, a comic by Abby Denson, and quirky spot illos by Anna Sears. It’s made me want to start reading new short fiction again, and I’m always really excited when it appears in my mailbox because it’s never hit a wrong note with me. Lovely as ever (and congrats to Gavin & Kelly on their best reason to miss a deadline!)

PERMANENT INK (#11, Summer 2008)
5 ½ x 6 ½, 36 pp. $?, trades? (print run of 500?)
PureInjoyment Press

Near as I can tell, this zine’s about photos of graffiti. There’s some prose text and some cut & paste zine aciton, but for the most part this zine reproduces graffiti art. Kind of interesting, kind of weird, might be your thing. Covers look hand-screened, which is a nice touch.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Call for Entries: COMING CLEAN

After zines about the laundry (Laundry Basket), grocery shopping (12 Items or Less), and cooking (Potluck), this was inevitable. The next issue of SYNDICATE PRODUCT is all about cleaning... house cleaning, washing the car, even picking up the yard debris. (However, it's NOT about laundry, as that's already been done. It's also not about packratting, as that's also been done.)

A few possible ideas:
+ apartment or house move in/out cleaning stories
+ making your own eco-friendly cleaning products
+ I hate to BLANK (dust, vacuum, clean the gutters)
+ biggest cleaning disaster
+ living with a hoarder or a neatnik
+ the most disgusting abandoned item found in the back of the fridge or shoved in a cabinet
+ what I learned about cleaning from my family/friends/ex
+ my biggest cleaning challenge is BLANK


Writers: I'm not going to get too hung up on length for this issue, but I would say between 400-800 words is a good size. If you need to go longer, please do. If the writing is good enough, people will want to read it to the end. I'll let you know if a piece is simply too huge.

Comic artists: The zine will be Digest Sized. Final art size should reduce to 4.5 x 7.5 inches. You can have two pages, but this can be negotiated if needed. B&W only, the zine will be photocopied. Send art as 300dpi TIF files. Also, once entries are in, I may be looking for small illustrations to accompany some of the stories.
Contributors will receive a copy of the final project.

Due date and where to submit: OCTOBER 11, 2009*. Submit your entries to syndprod@gmail.com, either by simply pasting the text into an e-mail, or as an OpenOffice, MS Word, or plain text document. If you want to mail them, send them to: A.j. Michel, PO Box 877, Lansdowne, PA 19050.

* Due date subject to extension if needed, as it usually is.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In My Mailbox 8-15-09

Well, technically this is IMM 8-10 or something, as I wandered to the POB days ago and am just getting around to writing about my treasures. This is due to incompetence and laziness. Which surprises no one.


- Breakfast #5 ($3, Breakfast, c/o Vincent Voelz, 575 12th Ave #3, San Francisco, CA 94118; vvoelz@gmail.com, www.breakfastzine.com) I'd given up hope on Breakfast; I mean, #4 came out like in 1978 or something. Yet here is issue #5! With article titles like "A Field Guide to South American Donuts" and "The First Annual Portland Pie-Off", how can resist this zine? You cannot.

- The Ken Chronicles #12 ($2, Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554-1120; passscribe@aol.com; http://thekenbausertchronicles.blogspot.com) Another episode in the continuing adventures of former Passions editor Ken. I'm a sucker for home repair/renovation stories, but there's plenty more slice-o-life stuff in this neat little zine.

And that was it, aside from sweaty dollar bills and other stuff. I need to get to the POB more often, methinks.


Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maynard Reviews some Zines (July 2009)

Allergies: how to deal, February 2009
Ali Thompson
$4.00 US, 16 pgs.
P.O. Box 95
Runnymeade, NJ

Allergy self-care zine for the lay person. Includes effective remedies and allergy prevention tips. Ironically, I have had direct experience with the material discussed and have used all the remedies mentioned. How weird is that?

Note to Ali: have you visited naet.org or read Ellen Cutler's excellent book, “The Food Allergy Cure”? I used both of these resources to resolve very serious allergies. I bet the authors of these resources would welcome your interest if you are going to expand that helpful little zine. This kind of info is very helpful, especially for uninsured folks suffering from allergies, as I was when I had to find alternative therapies.

Underworld Crawl, no. 6
R. Lee
$2.00, 27 pgs.
P.O. Box 1421
Oshkosh, WI, 54903

Wow! R. Lee's slice-of-life zine kicks major narrative ass. This writer has serious character and narrative chops. Anecdotes are tightly written, and show character with brevity and clarity, and as a bonus, are revelatory of the narrator.

Shows all of humanity (well, a gosh darn large swath) in a few, short, well-placed strokes. Leaves the reader wanting and dreading more.

The honest revelation of the ugliness, uselessness and negativity that goes with the human condition is tempered and curves back on itself; and ironically, after reading, one is left with an aftertaste of compassion. Genius.

No Conversation, #1
Free with trade or 3 or 4 US stamps
Likes mail, so send comments and letters
P.O. Box 793
Ruidoso, NM, 88355-0793

Great mini-travelogue that clearly and entertainingly depicts that author's travels in Malaysia. Astute, insightful, politically interesting, Dean takes you through everyday life in Indonesia. The sights, the smells, the effects of the sex trade on ordinary moments in life, all are described so the reader can grasp a sense of the chaotic, busy, frenetic pace of a part of the world that remains a mystery to most of us.

Dean captures souls well in his writing, and one feels one has met those that he describes. The details he puts in and leaves out are magic, poignant and downright shattering. His handling of the wealth gap is well done – not preachy or self-serving or even embarrassed. And most worrying is his relation of corruption in government and society. Imagine if the whole US were run by gangs and the mafia, you get an idea of what taking care of business is like in Malaysia. I hadn't considered the corrosive effects of corruption – how it enables poverty and grinds social progress to a standstill.

One of the Founding Fathers, Franklin, observed that we'd hang on to the Republic until the average citizen became corrupt.

Watch the Closing Doors, #46
Fred Argoff
$10.00, 4 quarterly issues, cash only
Penthouse L
1170 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY, 11230

What a joy! Mass transit all over the globe, this time a stop in Dubai, which looks alarmingly like LA. Really cool pictures from subway systems, and amusing, yet informative essays about the 225th Station and the Z Train in New York City.

Opuntia 67.1E, Victoria Day, 2009
Dale Speirs
$3.00 cash, trade for zine or letter of comment, no US stamps.
Box 6830
T2P 2E7

Steampunk! I would not have connected Speirs as a steampunk fan, as the willing suspension of disbelief for someone who is mechanically inclined would be steep (the reason lawyers hate law shows and doctors are allergic to medical dramas). He has reviewed a huge number of short stories from Extraordinary Engines (2008 mass market paperback edited by Nick Gevers). What bliss to steampunk freaks. This is a fascinating genre to me, what a hoot!

Also included is a rare music review, which Speirs likens to “dancing about architecture” because text and notes hardly are equivalents. Anyhoo, he has a million versions of Bolero, which I also found amusing. Issue also includes zine reviews and his eclectic gatherings of articles from various scientific journals.

Always a treat for a free-range intellect.

The Ken Chronicles , number 9, November 2008
Ken Bausert
2140 Erma Drive
East Meadow, NY, 11554-1120

Very sweet and personal zine about a really nice guy, Ken. Includes family anecdotes, vacation description, everyday issues (retirement and insurance) and his musical adventures with his kids.

This zine does a great job of showing the reader about Ken, and he seems to be a loving, interesting, older zinester. I thought I was old in zineland, but this guy is my Dad's age, and to a lot of you young-uns, he's grandpa! Scary thought.

The weird point of personal connection I had to this zine was the Tappan Zee Bridge. I spent a miserable 4 hours on that swaying, frozen thing when the family car died on it one bleak winter. Ken tells his tale of adventure on a road trip with his Garvin (GPS) in attempting to avoid the George Washington Bridge. My grandpappy and father were also fond of avoiding the GW Bridge. That was why we were stuck on the Tappan Zee!

Nothing is more annoying that using a GPS when you sort of know the way you want to go, but don't know enough to get there yourself. I recently drove around the Pentagon 80 times and probably got myself profiled for my troubles.

In My Mailbox 7-22-09


Another week, another trip to my PO Box. At least I'm not getting chastised by postal workers for leaving it for months and forcing them to pile my mail on the floor and scowl.

- Xerography Debt #25 ($3, Davida G. Breier, POB 11064, Baltimore, MD 21212; leekinginc.com) Don't worry, I have inspected this issue to make sure it contains my usual column and at least one review of TIS. It does. Safe for you to read!

XD seems to be getting better with age, actualy. This is a crisp, smoove-looking issue that invites you to read.

- WTF? #1 ("Jetset Analog Future"; $3, DJ Burnett, POB 131, Fryburg, PA 16326) digest-size BW zine is pretty funny, and I like the Letters FROM the Editor. Reminds me of me, which means it rocks.

- Carrots & Condoms #2 ($2/trade, Coco Negro, POB 163327, Sacramento, CA 95816; quothethecat@riseup.net) Apparently my zine made such an impression on Coco years and years ago. . .that it took them years and years to send me a trade. Oh well. It's well-dione and has a pretty cover, and lots of personal words and drawings inside - a classic perzine, methinks.

That was the goods this week! I feel like shit. Summer flu here I come!


Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Sunday, July 12, 2009

OK, Eric's Month of Reviews Then...

My week of reviews was even more of a miserable failure than I anticipated. In my defense I did end up sleeping a lot last week. I'd intend to do some reviews, then I'd take a little nap not wake up until the next morning. But I still have zines right here and I'm gonna review 'em, by gum.

SUNDOGS #6, Nov./Dec. 2008 This is a good one. It's a zine with 3 panel diary comics about Adam's life as an American living in Japan with his wife and baby son. This issue more or less covering Halloween through Xmas. It's a very enjoyable read with brief snippets about pretty much all aspects of Adam's life including fatherhood, growing a mustache. teaching, odd Japanese customs (A Christmas cake? Seriously? This strikes me as wrong for some vaguely odd reason.) and watching THE WIRE (seriously, THE WIRE is fucking awesome. I could go on and on about THE WIRE. ) It's not quite laugh out loud funny, but most of it is pretty light hearted and will bring a smile to your face. 24 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 Send $2, trade, or 200 yen to
Adam Pasion
1-42 Namiuchi-Cho, Kita-ku
Nagoya, Aichi, 462-0041

OH HO- This is a mini zine by Susan Boren who did (does?) the zine CLIP TART and it's basically a mini version of CLIP TART. Some really nice looking collages, some black & white, some full color and the full color ones are really beautiful. Like I've said before about Susan's work, I'm not sure what to make of it exactly, but I like it. 24 pages, 2.75 x 4.25 Send either a few bucks or trade to Susan Boren PO Box 66512, Austin TX 78766

BROOKLYN! #64- Sixty four issues? Holy shit. I feel like I'm not as familiar with Fred Argoff's work as I should be. Let's see, this zine is quarterly so that means he's been doing it for 16 years. Wow. Impressive. And it's a good zine though to honest even 16 years of a shit zine would be impressive in it's way. The name of this zine is BROOKLYN and that's also what the zine is about, Fred's beloved borough of Brooklyn. I've always liked zines about one certain topic that the author has a passion for. Even if I don't care about what's being written about I usually enjoy it just for the passion the author brings to it. This issue features a Brooklyn fable, photos of Brooklyn, (my personal favorite being of an SUV that fell into a giant sinkhole.) Brooklyn lexicon, Brooklyn signs and just a lot of info about Brooklyn. Good stuff here. 24 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 $10 for a 4 issue subscription to Fred Argoff Penthouse L 1170 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn NY 11230

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eric's Week of Reviews

You know what? I have not shaved since the death of Billy Mays. Is it a touching tribute to America's most beloved bearded pitchman? Is it sheer laziness and poor grooming habits? Or maybe just maybe is it a little bit of both? OK, it's mostly the second one, but I must confess a certain fondness for ol' Billy.

At any rate, every day this week I will be posting some reviews here until I either get through all the zines I have to review or I get bored. Oh, and I got me one of those fancy dan new facebook pages. It's www.facebook.com/ericfishlegs. Add me as a friend. Or don't. Either way.

INNER SWINE Vol.14 #4 December 2008. Josh Saitz who does the zine NEGATIVE CAPABILITY (www.negcap.com) told me that he recently had a dream that he, I, Jeff Somers of INNER SWINE) and R. Lee (UNDERWORLD CRAWL which is one of my favorites and you should be able to find a review of it somewhere on this site) went on a zine tour. He said it was a huge disaster because everywhere we went people to read people just thought "Who the hell are these assholes?" I mention this because this zine has just been reviewed so often that it's hard to come up with something new to say. The theme of this issue is "Kids" and he makes a convincing argument that kids do indeed suck and rule the world. There's a lot of good stuff in this issue. I even found Jeff's story about taking guitar lessons for the first time in his life at age 35 to be almost inspiring. he also wrote a brief anti-Kindle piece which reminded me of something- my Mom got a Kindle for Xmas she loves it and says she rarely even goes to the library anymore. because instead of reading books for free she can now pay $10 to read them on a little machine. I don't quite fathom how that makes any sense, but who am I to argue? 60 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, send either $2 or a trade to Jeff Somers PO Box 3024, Hoboken, NJ, 07030 mreditor@innerswine.com

SLICES- Hey, I just remembered I owed Jaime (the author of this zine) a trade. I'd better get on that. Jaime Crespo does a weekly comic strip called Slice O' Life and this zine collects what Jaime considers to be his 40 best cartoons. His strips are mainly about odd people Jaime has met over the years, many of whom seem to do a lot of drugs and die bizarre deaths. Some of the comics are funny, some were oddly touching, all are worth reading. Jaime also does a zine called TORTILLA that features more comics and stories by Jaime and like SLICES it's also worth reading. SLICES is 40 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, send $5 to Jaime Crespo, PO Box 112 San Anselmo, CA 94979 www.jaimecrespo.com

CRANKY BUDDHA #7- I like this kind of zine. It's basically a compendium of useless and bizarre information (one tid bit so useless and bizarre that I mentioned it way back in issue 7 of my own zine.) along with some reviews of books considered to be "hobo literature", the entire text of Calamity Jane's autobiography, a "stupid cop trick" that is truly stupid, kind of cruel, and I am ashamed to admit I would love to see somebody try and a review of a strange movie featuring a cameo by Col. Sanders. I enjoyed this one. 60 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, $2 or trade Danny Swank 2262 SE 39th Ave, Portland OR 97214 drdannyswank@gmail.com www.crankybuddah.com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In My Mailbox 6-27-09

Good morning alt.zines,

I suppose I should start cross-posting these to things like wemakezines etc but I am lazy. For a while I kept coming to alt.zines because I liked newsgroups better than web forums etc, but now, in all honesty, it's mostly laziness. If there was one mecca-like place where every zine person in the universe congragated I might make the effort to switch over, but signing up for fifteen places is a drag. And also I find I have less to say about zines these days. I still put mine out and still enjoy trades etc but I have less drive to discuss anything. Not that I was ever a Deep Zine Thought kind of fellow to begin with.


Anyway, we have our first sunny day in Hoboken in 56 years, and a few days ago I actually wandered to my PO Box. Hurrah! Zines in the mail:

- Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! #11 ($3, William P. Tandy, Eight Stone Press, POB 11064, Baltimore, MD 21212; www.eightstonepress.com) Another thick, well-made issue from the 8SP folks, a powerhouse of DIY publishing. Always happy to see a new one of these in my box.

- Going Postal #2 (trade/donation, Kris & Lola, Calle Obispo 4B, Plasencia 10600, Caceres, Spain) Full-sized collection of new and reprinted writing about zines, mail art, and other stuff. Favorite thing: A small piece of Kris' favorite old wool sweater, now too dilapidated to wear, pasted onto a page with a brief history of the sweater above.

- .zap!! #6 (no price listed, Heath Row, 101 Russell St. #4R, Brooklyn, NY 11234-0241) I had to sit this one out due to crushing laziness and bad time management, but Heath was kind enough to send me a comp anyway, thank goodness. Loosely the alt.zines APA, this is a fascinating ongoing venture and I'm looking forward to taking part again in the future!

That was it for zines. I also got a letter and some monies, so overall a gangbuster of a day at the POB. Hope everyone is rockin'.


Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Xerography Debt #25 is now available!

Xerography Debt #25 is now available!

Microcosm has copies and is currently distributing to their usual retail outlets. To learn more go to:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In My Mailbox 6-3-09


I actually made it to my PO Box some unspecified time in the recent past, but I can't remember when, actually. I just opened a desk drawer and found all this stuff waiting for comment but forgotten. I think I may be senile.


- Inscape (The Ursuline College Fine Arts Annual 2009, 2550 Lander Rd, Pepper Pike, OH 44124) contains a short story by zine personage and full-on-no-kidding professor Wred Fright. Not sure how to get yer mitts on one if you're interested, but thought I'd note it, even though it is not a zine.

- Tenebrous Thaumaturgy #2 (Andrew Conde, GCDC, 2120 East B Street, Torrington MY 82240). Another interestin' issue filled with dense, tightly-packed words by inmates, former inmates, relatives and friends, different, it seems, from other prison zines I've seen.

- The Ken Chronicles #11 ($2, Ken Bausert, 2140 Erma Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554-1120; passscribe@aol.com). Centered around marking the 50th anniversary of Ken buying his first car, this is another great-looking and packed issue. Plus, he mentions TIS in here--what more can I want?

And that's it, sad to say, aside from some correspondence and a returned issue of my zine, marked return to sender, from someone I used to work with. It's odd to me that people I knew 15 years ago, who have been on my mailing list for that long, suddenly deicde to not bother any more, whether they're simply not updating me after they move or purposefully rejecting it. I can totally understand not wanting the zine any more, but after so long it just seems. . .unexpected. I dunno.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Submissions wanted for Going Home zine AND Borderlands 3

Friends! The deadlines for Going Home zine AND Borderlands 3 are being
extended one LAST time! What's that you say? You wanted to submit last
time but didn't have time to write something? The deadline for both
zines is JUNE 27th. Ready, set, write! <3 Nia

This call for submissions is open to everyone.
I am looking for your writings and art that speak to any or all of the
following themes:

What does home mean to you? What makes home "home"?
Where is home?
Who is home?
Can you go home?
In what ways have home changed?

How have the meaning and significance of home been shaped by:
-your experiences (at and away from home)?
-your politicization?
-your race(s)?
-class (including changes in class status)?
-sexual orientation(s)
-surviving abuse?
(These are just a few of many themes you could choose to write on.)

How do these things affect your relationship to the places that you're from?

What have your experience of building home and community been like,
successes and challenges?

Please send non-fiction, personal stories and black and white visual
art on these themes to nia.is.king@gmail.com. Writing submissions
should be no more than 1,000 words and in .rtf format. Art submissions
should be .jpeg files. The deadline for submissions is JUNE 27th,
2009. Please repost this call widely!

This call for submission is open to mixed-race, bicultual and
transracially adopted people of color.

I am currently seeking personal stories and visual art on the theme of
(romantic and/or sexual) RELATIONSHIPS and PARENTING for the upcoming
issue of a compilation zine about people of color's mixed-race,
bicultural and transracial adoptee identities. Stories should be
non-fiction and no more than 1000 words. No poetry please. Visual art
should be black and white and replicate well in a copy machine
(minimal grey tones). Submissions for issue 3 are due JUNE 27th,
2009. Please email them in RICH TEXT FORMAT to nia.is.king@gmail.com.

Your stories are valuable, and it's time to bring our often neglected
cross-cultural and multi-racial experiences from margin to center by
telling our own stories!

Please forward this call widely!

Also, download past issues of Borderlands for free @

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Xerography Debt #25

Will be out soon! It is now at press and you can pre-order from Microcosm: http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/title/2693/

Reviews from Julie Dorn

Kate Haas
3510 SE Alder Street
Portland, OR 97214
$2, 28 pages, digest

Continually ranking in my top ten zines of all time, MIRANDA delivers another fabulous read. I usually read this zine aloud to my husband, but this time we devoured it together, hunched in a barely-lit room while waiting for a concert to start. Kate’s opening story about watching Obama win on election night with her two sons nearly made me cry. We’re on the cusp of starting to have children, and I’m thinking about the world in a new way. Knowing that the Bush administration’s eight-year plague of war and fiscal irresponsibility and divisiveness is about to end sends me into a happy dance. I finally can support the man that will soon be running our country. What a relief. Kate’s zine strikes a deeper chord in me now, because I not only admire her parenting style but the way she can retain her identity as a woman, a traveler, a storyteller, an activist, a writer—with being a mother.
In #18, Kate compares The Austins by Madeleine L’Engle to the reality of her family, shares homegrown rituals (all three of which are FABULOUS), describes her attempts to memorize “Kubla Khan” one steamy week in Morocco, and her always amazing list of book suggestions. My favorite part is “The Motel of Lost Companions,” where Kate shares a story of a long lost friend and their adventures together. Highly recommended.

Christa Donner
PO Box 6571
Chicago, IL 60680-6571
$5, 48 pages, digest

Christa writes LADYFRIEND, another stellar zine, but RE:PRODUCTIVE is a companion piece to a visual art show from 2008. She collected narratives from twenty seven diverse women on topics related to how reproduction and fertility shape identity (or don’t) and accompany them with drawings similar to those featured in the show. These stories run the gamut from motherhood, labor, midwifery, lesbian parenting, body image, hysterectomies, adoption, egg donation, infertility, miscarriages, abortions, the pressure to procreate and opting out of parenthood. It was particularly interesting for me to read these different perspectives and see how my views of this topic have changed over the years, shifting from my original desires of spinsterhood to my current state of married and ready for kids. Smart, compelling and pro-woman (as always). Highly recommended.

Sarah Morean
PO Box 3629
Minneapolis, MN 55403
$2?, 36 pages, half-size

This compilation zine is about one of the most reviled, misunderstood and polarizing phenomenon in the world: the moustache. Love it or hate it, MAN UP covers the spectrum of commentary—the moustache as indicator of villainy, defense of the humble patch of upper lip fur, knitting patterns to make your own moustache, instructions on how to grow a fab ‘stache, and an interview with local Minneapolis artist Scott Seekins. Each copy of MAN UP includes your very own adhesive moustache (mine was “The Rogue,” a tan stripe of what looked like carpeting). I believe that only certain people can successfully pull off a moustache without looking smarmy or ridiculous, but I have new respect for this underdog of the hair world.

Maria Goodman
PO Box 303, 2000 NE 42nd Street Suite D
Portland, OR 97213
$2, 38 pages, digest

As always, Maria has created a charming zine full of stories and whimsical fun. She and her partner, Andrew Robinson, trade off with list-related topics like the top five awkward moments, literary pet peeves, people currently in a ten-foot radius of her at the public library, the largest amounts of found money (Andrew once found $100!) and displeasing desserts. Delaine Derry Green makes a guest appearance with one of the most organized, detailed list/monthly planners I’ve ever seen. Highly recommended.

Donald R. Anderson and Nikki Quismondo, editors
1426 Telegraph Avenue #4
Stockton, CA 95204
Free locally, $7 for 6 mailed issues, 24 pages, digest

I feel inept when I try to critique poetry. Many times, I have no idea what the poem is really about, but I can appreciate the flow, the rhythm of the words and the way it sounds in my head as I read it. As a reviewer, I get a lot of poetry and fiction. A lot of it is bad, and I don’t write a blurb for XEROGRAPHY DEBT. Sometimes, like in the case of POETS ESPRESSO, it’s good and I’m happy to share my limited opinion with you.
Three poems in particular stood out for me: “Tribute to David Humphreys” by Marie J. Ross and “One Last Farewell” by Patricia Ann Mayorga, both about their late poet and friend, and the delicious “Fig” by Chantel C. Guidry. All were moving, melodic and lingering. This issue also includes Bruce Crawford’s “Variant Pressure,” the first place winner in Scott’s Valley Poetry Contest.

LITERAL CHAOS no.1: the water issue
Amanda Wells
10156 Sakura Drive
St. Louis, MO 63128
$7, 24 pages, digest

Another fiction/poetry zine, LITERAL CHAOS offers enjoyable, solid writing around the theme of water. I especially liked Mister Ben’s silly and fun to read “Wetter Tales : Once Told, Twice Forgotten” and Lisa Ebert’s short story “Mississippi.” Even with the pretty color cover, I’m cheap and would be hard pressed to pay $7 for any zine unless I knew I would love nearly every page of it. I wish this zine well—it’s hard to find a market for poetry/fiction zines (reviewers seem to avoid them like the Ebola virus), especially at that price.

DO-IT-YOURSELF SCREENPRINTING : How to turn your home into a t-shirt factory
John Isaacson
Microcosm Publishing
POB 14332
Portland, OR 97293
$9, 160 pages, paperback (ISBN 0-9770557-4-4)

Can I just say how thrilled I was when Davida sent this to me to review? I took my first class in printmaking in spring 2008 and loved it, but I needed to push aside my free studio art classes to make room for the library science ones instead. I’d dreamed of doing woodcuts at home, mostly because they’re pretty cheap, easy and require only a few items (piece of class, oil based ink, brayer, paper, wooden spoon and ink cleaner). Now, thanks to this wonderful comic book, I can make screen prints at home, too! It’s a bit more complicated, especially if you want more than one color, but John breaks down the process into easy-to-understand steps. He shares his experiences selling his work, moving out of his house and into mass-production and gives helpful hints to DIY printers along the way. John has been a screenprinter, cartoonist and musician for over ten years. Currently living in Berkeley, he’s traveled to Ireland, Chile, China and Peru. Check out the second website to see samples of his work.

Anne Thalheimer
8 Clark Street #2
Holyoke, MA 01040
$2?, 16 pages, digest

After a year hiatus, Anne returns with another great comic depiction of her life. After getting a new job that uses her Ph.D., joining the roller derby and launching her very own monster hat venture (check out https://mymonsterhat.com/home.php), Anne’s got a lot to write about! My favorite pages were “100 random facts about me” and her drawings for “All I Need” by Radiohead. I always find Anne inspiring because no matter how busy she is, she incorporates art into her life. (My distractible and procrastinating self is jealous.) I’m grateful I can read about it in BOOTY and hopefully inject the same sense of fun and creativity in my own life amidst the chaos and laziness. Yay, BOOTY!

ZINE WORLD #26: A reader’s guide to the underground press
POB 330156
Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0156
$4 US, $5 Canada/Mexico, $6 Everywhere else, 62 pages, full size

ZINE WORLD, like XEROGRAPHY DEBT, is a review zine. Chock full of suggestions for fabulous independent media, this is a wonderful resource (200+ zine reviews plus books). Extra marvelous treats are Heath Row’s article “Censoring news: from Redding to Russia” and the letters to the editor. This is a must-have for those who are new, addicted or curious about the world of zines.

Kyt Dotson
Free-$2, printed version pages vary, digest

Dotson writes a serial novella about Vex Harrow, a tough goth in the Mill Avenue area of Tempe, AZ who delves in the supernatural. The story itself currently has nine volumes, and CRANES is a stand-alone “tribute fiction” involving some of the same characters. There is no summary of the story in CRANES, so you’ll have to go to the website to figure out who who’s and what’s happening. By itself, I didn’t have enough context to thoroughly enjoy and understand the story in CRANES but I was impressed by Dotson’s writing abilities and her website, which includes free full-text version of every volume of this story, a discussion forum, links to Mill Avenue business, gothic subculture information and related fiction suggestions. There’s a dedicated following—she has a link to the first fan fiction story related to Mill Avenue Vexations. Dotson also has two published fantasy/paranormal books (one through amazon and the other a free e-book).

Bucket D. Siler
POB 10192
Santa Fe, NM 87504
$2/2.50/3, 28 pages, digest

PWDaOWP is a tight, satisfying perzine about Bucket’s travels across the country, breaking up, coming out, friends, love and life. Text heavy with a few drawings.

Fred Argoff
Penthouse L
1170 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11230-4060
$10 for four quarterly issues, 20 pages, digest

I’ve heard about WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS for years but have never read it. Thanks to Davida, I finally got one in my review envelope. Fred writes about all things subway, mostly encompassing NYC but also including Guadalajara, Shanghai, Paris and Buenos Aires. I LOVED the photo of the Underground Catwalk in Berlin (the model was wearing leather and pasties) and the detailed description of the no. 4 (Lexington Avenue express) line in New York. This zine is well worth the hype!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

in My Mailbox 5-5-09


After a brief absence caused by completely forgetting, I finally made it back to the PO Box yesterday and gathered my treats, which included an airline bottle of vodka from a kind soul who chose to remain anonymous. If I can get this free-booze-in-the-mail deal off the ground, I believe I will be remembered for generations as a great man.

Anyway, I also got:

- Insignificant Proportions (A Memoir of Sorts) & Insignificant Proportions Companion Coloring Book [No price, DB Pedlar, 25727 Cherry Hill Rd, Camb. Spgs, PA 16403] I love getting stuff from DB, and I love the statement on page 3 that he is making this zine for his grandchildren and hopes that one of us--his readers--will be the one to hand them a copy, someday. The coloring book just blows my mind.

- Fed Up Mag #11 (gerryorchard@iol.ie; myspace.com/fedupmag) 6 screaming pages about shopping, decluttering, and animated movies.

- Blackguard #1 ($7, PO Box 93, Paddington NSW 2021 Australia; blackguard23.livejournal.com; sstratu@gmail.com). Wow, pretty gorgeous 4-color cover and crisp, well-done comix inside by various artists. $7 is high, but looks worth it. Theme is "Religious Crazies" - who can't get behind that!

- Brain Food #15 ($1, Mike Toft, POB 7246, Minneapolis MN 55407; cartoonistconspiracy.com/brainfood; miketoft@usfamily.net) An installment in an ongoing comic story, digest-sized and good-looking.

And that was it! The booze counts for about 27 zines, though.


Blog - http://www.jeffreysomers.com/blather/
The Inner Swine - http://www.innerswine.com

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reviews from Matt Fagan: BFF, Estrus Comics, Alpha City Comics, Fish With Legs, Guide to Steel Bikes, Fake Life, Not My Small Diary, 600 Rubles...

by Nate Beaty
5x7, perfect bound, 200-something pages
Microcosm Publishing
222 S. Rogers St.
Bloomington, IN 47404

Title misconceptions aside, this book is called BRAINFAG FOREVER, a collection of 8 years worth of mostly journal-style comics by Nate Beaty – originally printed as part of his long-running comics zine, Brainfag. The title, which one reviewer has noted that Nate will spend the rest of his life explaining, is a “medical” term meaning “brain fatigue”, culled from a turn-of-the-century advertisement for Grape-Nuts cereal.

How much do I love zine omnibuses? The appeal, as always for me, is watching the artist embark on a journey of self-discovery, and seeing how their abilities and interests evolve over time. With Nate, it isn’t so much that he starts at A and eventually ends at Z, but rather that he embraces the opportunity to constantly experiment with different styles and techniques. The presentation of BFF, which reprints in whole several issues of Brainfag, is always changing. Sometimes the comics are vaguely fictional with obvious real-world repercussions. Some of them overtly transcribe conversations between Nate and his friends or lovers. Sometimes the comics are lush with brush-and-ink urban landscapes that wordlessly set the scene of Nate’s life at a particular juncture. Sometimes the comics are hastily scribbled illustrations with tiny, urgent paragraphs of text. But he does not jump from one style to another and abandon his roots, he searches for the best way to express his desires and concerns… sometimes the results are simply adequate to preserve his thoughts for posterity, and sometimes they are rich with aesthetic beauty.

In terms of subject matter, BFF is mostly the story of Nate bouncing back and forth between urban environments (generally Portland, Oregon) and his rural retreat on Orcas Island, where he often lived in an unheated greenhouse, wrote and drew comics long into the night, and survived by performing manual labor. Through it all, Nate preserves friendships with other creative, marginalized individuals and attempts to find a romantic relationship that doesn’t immediately crumble into dust. He spends a lot of time single and frustrated, and the rest of the time he’s just frustrated full stop.

The litmus test of a book like BFF, for this reviewer, is how it inspires me. As somebody who has been making zines and comics for more than ten years, and whose self-publishing output has dwindled as I approach my 35th birthday, I can truly enjoy and appreciate a lot of zines without being really moved by them. But as I read BFF I found myself shifting restlessly. By the time I reached the halfway point in the book, I had to take a break to start my own journal comic, because I’d been carrying around some issues that needed to be worked out and BFF had given me a sense of direction. Now I’m finished with Nate’s book, and not only am I several pages into my own comic but I’ve somehow stumbled upon a series of personal revelations in the process. The way I see it, the most vital creative output is that which begets more creative output in those who experience it, and that is exactly what Nate has achieved in BFF.

by MariNaomi
digest size, 44pp., $5 US or $7 international
PO Box 640811
San Francisco, CA 94164-0811

The subtitle of this zine is “more kiss & tell stories”, and while I haven’t seen her previous kiss and tell stories I did not exactly have any difficulty jumping into the fray. MariNaomi is detailing her entire romantic history through a series of very revealing comics, each of which takes its name from the subject and date of the comic (for example, the first entry in the zine is “Andrew – 1984”.)
What MariNaomi gets just right is the awkwardness of young infatuation, the way everything is either dreadfully important or completely meaningless, with no grey area in between. She doesn’t hide her own mistakes or indiscretions, she doesn’t try to make herself seem like the hero of her own story – as far as I can tell, she relates each of these tales just the way it happened, warts and all. Poorly-considered breakups, revenge sex, unstoppable teenaged tears, and even gullibly optimistic young fantasies are all represented here.

The motivation behind these comics may be no more complicated than MariNaomi’s need to get some of these incidents off her chest, to relate her stories as romantic victim or romantic aggressor in order to put the past in the past. But the result for the reader is something better than a mere voyeuristic thrill. These kiss and tell stories are alternately funny, touching, familiar and weird. They probably won’t make you wish you could relive your own teenage years, but you will very likely recognize a part of your past in these pages. I certainly enjoyed a mental stroll through the most embarrassing and triumphant moments of my own passionate youth as I was reading ESTRUS COMICS, and I doubt anybody could open this zine without having a similar experience.

story by Kevin Sciretta, art by Neil Brideau
magazine size, 28 pp., $4? (e-mail to ensure correct price)

This is the ambitious debut of a science fiction anthology, set in the futuristic Alpha City and framed by the narration of a pirate radio DJ named Betty Beyond.
The two-part “Run Like Hell” occupies most of the issue, and goes the farthest in terms of establishing the science fiction context of the story. Utilizing everything from faceless police-state soldiers, flying cars, and the sort of technology where you can use computers to interface directly with another person’s consciousness, “Run Like Hell” is a straight up, us-against-them story of an urban future gone wrong. By contrast, “The Horrible Case of Fred P. Lemke” is a simple comedy about a jilted nerd, who uses a transmogrification machine for all the wrong reasons.

“Dancin’ Larry” is ultimately the weirdest (and to me the most interesting) of all the ALPHA CITY COMICS. The story of a bum who stands on a street corner every day, dancing to music that nobody else can hear, culminates in a strangely touching twist ending. I don’t know if it demands a sequel, or if further exploration would even fit into the sci-fi world that the writer and artist have in mind, but it was pretty cool.

On a strictly technical level, their first issue does have a few problems. The fellows could do with a proofreader, as the English major in me always gets knocked out of a story when I encounter things like “wheather” or “The correct calibration seems to allude me”. And sometimes the ideas in the story are a bit too grandiose for the artist to effectively handle. I don’t really want to criticize because Brideau is clearly working very hard on this book, and he has done a remarkable job of conveying some difficult scenes. He has a personal style that would probably be better suited to a different genre, and he’s doing his best to adapt and grow to meet the challenges posed by ALPHA CITY COMICS. It will be interesting to see how things progress from here.

When it comes to self-published comics, you don’t see a whole lot of science fiction. I really hope these guys stick with it and continue to build on what they started here. Sciretta and Brideau have laid the foundation for a universe that has a lot of possibility, establishing enough to make their world solid but not defining so much that they’ve limited themselves. Here’s to the future!

By Eric Lyden
Digest size, 32 pp. $2 or $1 and 2 stamps
224 Moraine St.
Brockton, MA 02301-3664

I have a confession to make. Ever since I turned eighteen, I craved being called for jury duty. Yearned for it. For years, I waited. Never once did I get the letter, while friends and acquaintances who didn’t even want to go were constantly being called down to the courthouse. Why not me?, I thought, cursing my luck. It wasn’t until I turned 33 that I finally got the summons in the mail, and I promptly threw the letter away.

Eric Lyden, on the other hand, seems to be in that special class of people who is always being summoned to jury duty, only he never gets selected. Most of FISH WITH LEGS #12 is his story of finally being picked to sit on a jury in a drug sting case, and reading his account was just like being there. If I hadn’t thrown out the summons.

You can never go wrong with Fish With Legs. Reading Eric’s zine is always like having a friend tell you a story. I’ve never met Eric, but I think I know the way he talks.

Also included in this issue are the usual “Fun Facts”, one of which I will share with you now:

“Today at the comic book store I saw a girl with purple hair hanging out with a guy wearing a New England Patriots jersey. It raised a very interesting question – have girls with purple hair gotten lamer or have guys who wear football jerseys gotten cooler? I dunno, but quite frankly I liked it better when you could look at a girl with purple hair and automatically know she was cool and you could look at a guy in a football jersey and know he was a douche bag. I hate to think that now you can’t even tell.”

Lindsey Howard
7 x 8½, 24 pp., $2.50 US or $3 world
1593 E. Bainbridge Rd.
Sandy, VT

I quite enjoyed GUIDE TO STEEL BIKES, but I don’t know why it exists. The zine includes information about tube and component manufacture, frame construction, chemical differences between various types of steel, and some history about how bicycle manufacture has changed over the past decades. But much of the information is drawn from out-of-date sources, and none of the subjects are covered thoroughly enough to be very useful as a proper reference.

However, I use a bicycle as my primary means of transport. I’m not hardcore or anything – never worked as a messenger, don’t wear tight shorts, and I still have to go to a bike mechanic when I have a problem. I love my bike though, and I love riding, and despite not finding anything I could employ practically, GUIDE TO STEEL BIKES was pretty interesting to me. As the rider of an aluminum bicycle, my curiosity about steel bikes was piqued, and the idea of trying out a few of them has a definite appeal. I’m sure any bike lover would feel the same.

I suspect Lindsey Howard is someone who just finds this stuff truly interesting, like I did, and wants to spread it around. So, I don’t know what this guide is for, but I liked it. If this sounds cool to you, it probably will be.

digest size, 28 pp., $2
PO box 1174
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1174

FAKE LIFE #7 is a classic piece of self-publishing, the sort of thing you could hand to somebody who just asked you, “What is a zine?”

Here you’ll find personal stories from the authors, a piece of fiction, and interviews with underground artist Gus Fink, queerpunk band Bromance, and author Deran Ludd. There’s cut-and-paste illustrations, handwritten titles and page numbers, and photocopied photographs. Just like a zine should have! Plus, since the stories and interviews are actually good reading, FAKE LIFE is the total package. When interviewing Bromance, they don’t just stick to the usual by-the-numbers stuff, throwing in questions like “Have you ever met someone you admired and it went wrong?” and “Know any good Henry Rollins jokes?” (they did).
Also, there was a story that involved projectile diarrhea. Who wouldn’t enjoy a zine like this one?

the dating issue
edited by Delaine Derry Green
digest size, two volumes, 138 pp. total, $6 plus $1 shipping
1204 Cresthill Rd
Birmingham, AL 35213

There are few things that brighten up a mailbox like the arrival of NOT MY SMALL DIARY, a compilation comic that has been running strong for more than a decade! The latest double issue features contributions from more than 50 artists and zinesters, regaling us with their juiciest stories about dating, all presented in sequential art form.

Even if you’ve never picked up a zine before, you’ll treasure this collection of comics. There are some terrific stories here: about pathetic attempts to connect by people who don’t know how to have a conversation, about blind dates that are lonelier than being alone, and even about people who actually fell in love with each other. But if you do read a lot of zines, then NOT MY SMALL DIARY will be even better! This collection is full of familiar names and art styles, as some of your favorite zinesters treat you to special stories that they drew just for Delaine. Who knew that Kelly Froh had an accidental encounter with a wrestling fetishist? It was kind of gross, but also hilarious!

This is a zine that is more than worth the price. You should also contribute to NOT MY SMALL DIARY, because if you don’t then…I don’t know, the terrorists win, or something.

by Jennifer Manriquez
digest size, 20pp., $3 US, $4 Canada, $5 world (prices include postage)
SAMPLE press
PO Box 471159
Fort Worth, TX 76107

I’ve previously reviewed Jennifer’s zines Scissor Socket Shocker and Trying On Hats, which she wrote under the name Jennifer Farley, and I always like her work. She’s one of those zinesters (like Eric Lyden) that regularly give me a twinge of guilt when I receive something in the mail from them, because my output has been so minimal these last few years that I rarely have anything to send in return. Nevertheless, I’m always grateful when I find that envelope coming through the slot, and 600 RUBLES is no exception. In fact, this may be her most interesting and personal work to date.

From the time she was a little girl, Jennifer’s dream was to be a dancer… and 600 RUBLES is the story of how that dream died.

At the age of 19 (Jennifer is 35 now) she was on scholarship at a junior college in Athens, Texas, where she performed as a member of their world-traveling dance team The Cardettes. During the winter break, Jennifer was the victim of a vaguely-remembered attack by her boyfriend, which resulted in concussion and hospitalization. The Cardettes were due to perform at a soccer tournament in Moscow the week after Christmas.

The zine relates the physical repercussions of this attack, which continued to plague Jennifer during the trip to Russia. Waking up all alone in an airport medical station in Germany, with no English-speaking attendants and no idea how long she had been there, was only the beginning of her trouble. What follows is traumatic enough to read, it’s hard to imagine what the pain and disorientation would have been like to experience.

Amazingly, Jennifer seems to emerge from this horror story with her spirit intact, and while she could easily be excused for bearing a violent grudge against many of the girls on the trip, she remains forgiving – and generously refrains from using any of their real names. I doubt I would have been as kind.

Not only does 600 RUBLES tell a pretty gripping story, Jennifer’s practical attitude and refusal to be beaten down makes the whole thing kind of inspiring. Brutal, but inspiring.

And be sure to check out Scissor Socket Shocker, too. Good stuff.

by Jason Rodgers (with contributors)
digest size, 24 pp., $2/stamps/trade
c/o Jason Rodgers
PO Box 1683
Nashua, NH 03060

What an awesome piece of work! This is an art-obsessed, collage-riddled masterpiece with a strong and clear message about the importance of creation outside the sphere of corporate influence. The zine opens on an interview with Paul Laffoley, who wears the label of “artist” as comfortably as he might wear the label of “madman”. He is living proof that fringe thinking, occultism and other pursuits that inevitably result in alienation (willful or otherwise) from socially-sanctioned modes of interaction also result in the most interesting, enduring and meaningful works of art. His proposal for the Gaudi Hotel to be built on New York’s Ground Zero site is one of the most baffling, complex and beautiful pieces of architecture that the world may never have the chance to see: a huge building that is equal parts function and mysticism. It would have incorporated not only a complicated pendulum device invented by Thomas Edison for the purposes of amplifying mediumistic abilities in order to scrye the remains of those who perished in the 9/11 attacks, but also an even more ambitious gyroscopic structure intended to help people transcend the boundaries of linear time.

The interview in which Laffoley describes how his building/machine functions is alternately fascinating and impenetrable, something that could be mistaken for the ranting of a lunatic but which somehow rings true in a way that is both uncomfortable and alluring.

“Confusing Activity with Accomplishment” laments the devolution of vital and interesting correspondence art into the unimaginative add-and-pass-on phenomenon of mail art. Like the interview with Paul Laffoley, the greater message here is that allowing a marginal process to be consumed by its homogenous surroundings, to be commodified or adopted or used as a means to an end, will result in the disempowerment of the medium itself.

Another article reviews a biography of Anita Berber, who was a “decadent dancer” in Weimar Germany (predecessor to Leni Riefenstahl and Marlene Dietrich). This story fits perfectly among others in this zine, as Berber was a true artist: a sort of Libertine of the stage whose accomplishments only hinted at her ambitions. Hers was a life lived truly and completely on the edge, and though tragically cut short at the age of 29 she left behind a remarkable legacy.

This zine is unusually dense with content. A meditation on the affect and future of Cinema Verité, a reprinted end-of-the-world pamphlet, “anti-music”; there is so much rich reading here, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

directed by Elizabeth Press, Andrew Lynn, and Christopher Ryan, DVD, $14
Microcosm Publishing
222 S. Rogers St.
Bloomington, IN 47404

STILL WE RIDE provides a chilling look into some of the legal troubles experienced by bicycle activist group Critical Mass, but this isn’t the place to go first if you’re not familiar with the organization. It’s no primer for the uninitiated, offering little in the way of history – though there are a few minutes devoted to the general intentions of Critical Mass and some individual experiences recalled by various participants.

The primary concern of STILL WE RIDE is the series of arrests that occurred on August 27, 2004 during a Critical Mass ride in New York City, exemplifying by extreme the troubles that Critical Mass potentially faces in any city.

This documentary succeeds as a compelling story, beginning with the mass arrest of 264 cyclists and escalating from there. STILL WE RIDE paints the police as criminals, and indeed they seem to live up to that reputation. They saw through locks to seize bicycles that they go on record to describe as “abandoned”, while video shows the owners present, keys in hand, protesting the destruction of their property. They doctor videotaped evidence to excise footage that exonerates an innocent bystander, only dropping the charges against him when the master tape surfaces. The most outrageous violations seem motivated only by a nebulous resentment of Critical Mass, such as when a group of police officers lays siege to a peaceful, indoor Critical Mass after-party, assaulting several attendees and stealing more bicycles. But some of the larger issues remain unclear.

The filmmakers are quick to blame the police actions on some shadowy agenda to quash civilian rights to protest and peaceably assemble, and their case is not without merit. However, I would feel more confident in that conclusion if they had spelled out exactly what the pre-existing laws in New York were, regarding the definitions of “parade” and “obstructing traffic” and the necessity of permits for large gatherings. They state that they were not breaking any laws, but failed to actually cite any laws to support the statement.

On an individual basis the Critical Mass participants are quite justified in asserting their rights to ride, but most seem callously indifferent to the effect that hundreds of cyclists have on traffic in a metropolitan center. As an avid cyclist who has known many people who rode with Critical Mass in Chicago, I haven’t found this attitude to be representative, but in the context of STILL WE RIDE it was difficult to place my sympathies entirely with the victims.