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Zine Reviews, Part 2

Thoughts on a fresh batch of zines, from Quimby's and elsewhere.

Found #3
Just like the name implies, Found consists of handwritten notes, email printouts, shopping lists, candid photos etc. which have been lost or simply discarded, only to be found and submitted to the magazine. Deftly edited by Davy Rothbart, Found is a fascinating cultural artifact which documents the thoughts, hopes and heartbreaking regrets of everyday people who never intended their words for public viewing. Also includes a rambling interview with Davy's brother Peter, Dumpster-diver extraordinaire, as the two hunt for finds in the collegiate detritus of Ann Arbor. Peter has some great insights on our disposable culture:

Peter: To go through trash you have to go through a shift in view. People see anything in a Dumpster as trash, and they think if it's there it should stay there, it's dirty or whatever. But this blanket, which just came from somebody's bed forty-five minutes ago, I don't think it's trash.
Davy: Yeah, it's really crazy that you can move something in physical space, and it becomes something else! From a blanket into trash.
Peter: Yeah, I'm just seeing it still as a blanket.

Caboose #4, "The Ridiculous Issue"
Quimby's very own Liz Mason writes Caboose which is fun and refreshing, much (I presume) like Liz herself. She's a punk chick who can relate what past idolizations of Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye et al says about who she is now, and yet isn't afraid to joyously confess her love for MTV workout videos and karaoke or relate her long-ago experiences working at Renaissance Faire. (Non-Chicagoans, read on here. The rest of you should already know.) And laugh-out-loud funny is her piece "College Radio DJ Voiceover Mad Lib" which includes:

And before that, you heard the (adjective) (plural noun) with "(saying on those retro ironic t-shirts)" from the EP "(superlative) (food)," on (letter) Records from (town encompassing liberal arts college without grades or where one creates own major).

(For those of you playing alone at home, those last three references were to K Records, Olympia, WA and Evergreen State College. I have yet to decipher the rest from K's back catalog.)

Burn Collector #12
Another installment of Al Burian's life odyssey. This time around it's a powerful account of a brutally frigid first winter in Chicago, a dying relationship, and two cathartic musical experiences, one with a roomful of barflies to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and the other alone to Iron Maiden's "Screaming for Vengeance."

You forget the astounding depths you can reach when you're a teenager and you don't have any emotional filters, when you haven't yet learned to keep a stiff upper lip, to force yourself to tune out the weight of a world that is unbearable. As you get older your range of feeling becomes compressed within the limits you allow yourself to feel, how far you'll let yourself go. This is normal and necessary; we couldn't put up with the tiny tortures and humiliations of our daily lives otherwise...We can't just scream for vengeance all the time. But, simultaneously, we lose some fundamental and human aspect of ourselves when we learn to put up or shut up. You end up registering the heaviest emotional weight as nothing more than a hassle, the newest anecdote of inconvenience in your life. One day you slip up and find yourself crying hysterically to "take these chains off of my heart." Oh, this is embarrassing. This is the soundtrack to another me, a me inside of me, who at thirteen wanted to die from feeling a weight so monumental that I could not bear to live with it.

Underworld Crawl #1
Subtitled "monophonic rustbelt zine pulp", this zine is R. Lee's accounts of day-job ennui, excessive drinking and a near-loving tribute to his childhood pseudo-foster parent Harvey. But the capper is the story of Lee's unrepentantly foul co-worker Kizland, who's rendered so vividly that you'd swear he's fictional. Of such characters are classic underground novels made. (Lee gave me my copy for free; who knows, he might be similarly inclined if you're interested. Contact me for his address.)

Show Me the Money! #19
Very informative compendium of economic and political articles, mostly drawn from other sources (kind of a grim version of Utne). Includes a lengthy discussion of Japan, a rather distressing look at the sustainability of industrialized agriculture, and a fascinating take on The Wizard of Oz--I hadn't realized that the original book was actually a political/economic allegory centering on the 1896 McKinley-Bryan presidential campaign and the gold standard debate.

The First Line Fall 2004
As always, the journal provides the opening line (this time, "I was born Rosa Carlotta Silvana Grisanti, but in the mid-Eighties, I legally changed my name to Eve.") and writers take it from there. The difference this time around is that I actually submitted a piece for this issue ("Can't Be Happy Today, But Tomorrow"), the rejection of which is inevitably coloring my opinion of the pieces which were deemed as worthy. Several of the stories, I feel, are inferior to or no better than my own. With two notable exceptions: Heidi Rehmann's "Rosa's Readings" and Emily Fitch's "Disappearing", both of which beautifully describe a woman protagonist's transformation. (I'm reversing my previous reservations, and will indeed be submitting for the next issue. I'll show 'em, or something like that.)

Optic Nerve #1
The first issue of the renowned Adrian Tomine's graphic novel/comic/whatever-you-call-it. Sharp artwork and very involving narratives, particularly the heartbreakingly poignant "Lunch Break." Beautiful.

Duplex Planet #169
More of David Greenberger's wonderful interviews with senior citizens, full of the usual life accounts and offbeat wisdom.

Giovanni: I don't feel like sleeping anymore. No, I'm too old to sleeping. I rather do something.
Greenberger: You're too old for sleep?
Giovanni: You know, the baby needs to sleep. You know, after the mother gives it the milk they put him to sleep. I don't need it. What else do you need? Dry peppers.

Laxmichand D. Tejani: If you don't mind, I will tell you one thing: If you want happiness, make others happy first, then you will have happiness--it will be automatic!

October 2, 2004 in Zines | Permalink

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