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.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reviews from Fred Argoff: Elephant Mess, FlavorVegan, Map of Fog, Musea, Opuntia, For the Clerisy

As we advance deeper and deeper into the 21st century, it comes as more and more of a surprise to find that zines live. Real zines, produced on paper, that you can hold in your hands. I find this to be very comforting. My own brother has been on my back for years to stop doing a hard copy zine and switch over to the e-version. He says I'm wasting my time. "Hah!" I reply to him. And also, "Fuhgeddaboudit!" So saying, it's time to see what was in the bulky envelope with the Maryland postmark...

ELEPHANT MESS. Now, really--how could you go wrong with a title like this? It's a mini-zine full of words. All kinds of words. In fact, #20 is subtitled "Extra Words." And they come under such flavorful headings as How to Repair Everything (I can't repair anything, so I'm pretty impressed by this), Green Tea and Suicide Notes, Ninja Movies and Curse Words at the County Fair. More words like this, I say! It's a Dan Murphy production, and he says he'll accept trades. Otherwise, $2 (US, Canada & Mexico; $3 rest of the world) gets you the next copy from Dan at P.O. Box 3154, Moscow ID 83843.

FLAVORVEGAN is a blog. Their operating philosophy is that vegan food, like life, should be full of flavor. OK, I can accept that; flavor is a good thing. And for those of us still living our lives away from the computer screen, they put out this little notice on paper to tempt us into making a visit. Once there, we find not only recipes, but photography and tutorials. The little teaser sent to me for review had a tasty-looking photo on the front that turned out to be the Pizza Sandwich. And no, I'm not listing the recipe here. You're going to have to check this one out for yourselves. But I'll tell you this much: that photo made it difficult for me to sit here and continue writing. All I could think about was pizza. http://flavorvegan.blogspot.com

At first, I thought that MAP OF FOG was a litzine. But upon further investigation, I realized that it's actually an urban oriented zine focusing on San Francisco...hey, wait a minute! It's practically a West Coast cousin of my own little contribution to zinedom (that would be BROOKLYN!) So then I couldn't wait to dive right in. And the first writing encountered in this, the premiere issue, concerns a suicide at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. But for your friendly local urban reviewer, the highlight of the zine was a piece entitled "These Stagnant Streets," about the Sunset District in SF, which the editor points out is not usually on the tourist's itinerary but probably ought to be. And there are photos to back up his textual assertions. Two thumbs up, and a gold star besides. I eagerly await further issues. $2, trades accepted, from Marcos Soriano, P.O. Box 27252, San Francisco CA 94127.

Well, I've reviewed MUSEA before, but Tom keeps putting out new issues and besides, I happen to like it. It's the zine devoted to the arts. No politics, no environment, no religion, no finance. Just the arts. Issue #166 (I told you Tom keeps putting out new issues, didn't I?) is the annual holiday story issue, a love story and mystery rolled into one. Here's the opening sentence: "Reich and Van Smith re-opened the taped packing tube with a ceremonious flare." Now try to tell me you aren't curious to see what develops from that point on. And guess what? Each issue is completely different, so you never have any idea what's on tap. No price listed, but for heaven's sake, make a contribution to the arts, willya? Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne (#5), Dallas TX 75219.

OPUNTIA is the coded zine. Each issue has a number on the front containing a decimal, so you know what to expect. .1 issues are reviewzines, .2 indexes, .3 apazines and .5 perzines. Here's issue 66.3, devoted to amateur press association zines. In particular, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association. Now you know the deal; ask for the topics that interest you. $3 cash for a one-time sample from Dale Speirs, P.O. Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2E7

And then there's FOR THE CLERISY. People are always confused by that title, and some avoid the zine because of it. But if you look it up, you'll find that the clerisy happen to be (the envelope, please)...people who read. Go figure! The zine's purpose of statement is twofold: one, to assure readers that other readers do, in fact, exist--a comforting assurance in the Age of the Internet--and two, to provide suggestions for expanding one's horizons through reviews of generally neglected books. Just as a small sampling, here in Vol. 15, No. 75 we find David Sedaris' "Barrel Fever," wherein ordinary people wind up in predicaments; Hannah Ropes' "Civil War Nurse," a collection of her correspondence; and "West with the Night," by Beryl Markham, the pioneering avatrix who was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic from London to North America. And there are letters of comment, too--not entirely surprising from people who read! No price listed, from Brant Kresovich, P.O. Box 404, Getzville NY 14068-0404.

And now I must curtail my reviewing activities in order to start working on the next issue of my own zine. Until next time, adieu, adios and foor gezuntaheit.

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