Monday, April 30, 2012

Zine Review: Ray X - X Rayer

Thank the chariot of the gods that someone is publishing a newsletter / zine like Ray-X X-Rayer. It comes out on a regular basis & goes for the esoteric jugular with crisp writing and intriguing articles. #87 includes a discussion on prophet of doom Nancy Leider of, everything you need to know about Peggy Bowles & her rosary workout (move over Jane Fonda) and more. #88 reveals some of the goings-on via the Liberty Net (a shortwave amateur radio operator network that broadcasts on 3950 khz). Ray X X Rayer #89 delves into the hyperlogic razors of Alex Jones and David Chase Taylor. I suggest sending Ray X a few dollars to support his zine-ing endeavors & reading these newsletters for yourself! Boxholder, PO Box 2 Plattsburg NY 12901-0002.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zine Review: Meta

a zine by Marissa Falco

I thought I had never heard of artist Margaret Kilgallen until I read the introduction to this zine and made the connection – she was a railroad graffiti artist whose tag was Matokie Slaughter (and Meta). I vaguely remember glimpsing a photograph of some of her graffiti somewhere and her standing on a platform next to a dude named Right Bank Fred. Of course, that could have been a hazy dream.

Meta is a concise, enjoyable, ¼  size zine that serves as an introduction to Margaret Kilgallen’s art. Marissa has peppered splendid graphics throughout. Now I am curious to see the Art 21 television program mentioned in Marissa’s introduction! 

Zine Review: Deafula 3

Continuing on from the previous issues, Deafula 3 illuminates the author’s personal experience of deafness and shares good information that those of us who are hearing
need to know. Even the most socially isolated of us can communicate via our senses – imagine what it is like not to hear conversations and live in a culture where “accommodations” like closed capturing, or speaking slowly and clearly and directly, are seen as a pain in the ass. Deafula 3 discusses speaking for one’s self out of personal experiences vs. speaking for one’s “group” (i.e. the deaf community), how to make or receive a relay call, five things people are missing out on by being hearing, 5 annoying things for people with hearing loss.  Deafula 3 is one of the most vital zines being published in 2012.  

Contact info:  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zine Review: Smog City #3

Smog City #3
$5 / 40 pages
PO Box 29753
Los Angeles CA 90027

Full disclosure: I only read half of this zine. The reason? A good portion is comprised of chapter three of “The Night Snacker”. Having not read the first two chapters I felt completely lost within the narrative.

Smog City is a “pulp litzine” written by Mulnix and given a stunning graphic presentation with dye-cutouts and halftone pages. The illustrations are crisp throughout the zine and the cover art done in purple borders on hypnotic and somnambulant. In addition to creating a graphically beautiful presentation, Mulnix can write! His short fiction is engaging and the brief essay on the cities of the mind (and the gnomes who inhabit them) is evocative of places and people everyone has encountered.

I won’t give away the scenarios of the two short stories in Smog City #3, other than to say one of them featured an extremely believable, though passive-aggressively flawed, punk paralegal named Fooz Pinkley.

Smog City is one of the highest quality zines both in presentation and content that I’ve read in recent memory. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Zine Review: Shape & Situate #3

Shape & Situate #3
Posters of Inspirational European Women
32 pages
Edited by Melanie Maddison
Available from msvaleriepark distro

The introduction to this exceptional zine states that the name Shape & Situate “is taken from a quote by writer & activist Amber Hollibaugh who when commenting on why we should write about our lives makes some salient points about documenting histories, believing that history is not static but is a living thing that we can know, use, transmit and learn from.” Shape & Situate is a mostly graphic zine highlighting posters by numerous artists that celebrate well known and obscure women past and present. I learned more by reading this zine that I did in years worth of so-called history classes. I had never heard of Margaret McMillan and her influence on childhood education, or mathematical genius Ada Lovelace, aviator Amy Johnson, or the brave Bryant & May matchwomen who fought for workers rights in 1888. Reading this zine is a process of discovery. Each mini-poster has its own unique style. Artists include Verity Hall, Julia Downes, Jo Harrison and many more. Shape & Situates gets this olde reviewer’s highest recommendation.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Zine Review: The Idea of North

The Idea of North
Nocturnal Visions of a Hypomanic (Spooks) Tragic
by Skully Adams

half sized / 20 pp

The Idea of North is a fascinating zine that blends television fiction with dreams and self analysis. Skully Adams encounters several characters in her dream life from a popular BBC series about MI-5 agents. Like a detective / journalist of the psyche, she delves into the meaning of her dreams as they relate to her mental health. The Idea of North documents her process of discovery. Well written and highly recommended. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Zines by Turner Hilliker

I asked Turner Hilliker for a review copy of Prompts: Writing Derivatives and he generously mailed me a package of his zines.

Prompts: Writing Derivatives is presented as a beautifully printed book bound with twine and is Turner’s “index of thoughts that continues to expand.” I appreciate writing exercises and prompts and my expectations were high. Unfortunately, most of the writing contained within is mundane and uninspired, with several exceptions. I hope Turner finds his writing voice because he has the kernels of a stimulating project here.

Turner is already a prolific artist & publisher. All of Turner’s zines are skillfully printed and presented and are a visual treat. Holiday Pay #5 is particularly ingenious in its pop-up design and flowchart. One of the jokes in Holiday Pay #23 had me rolling: the seasons in Philadelphia – fucking hot; fall; fucking cold.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mixt Media Review: The New Heaven and The New Earth

The New Heaven & The New Earth
All Saint’s Day
(tape & LP formats)

This release by The New Heaven and The New Earth distills the most creative elements of psychedelic pop / psych folk / indie music as it is evolving in the 21st century. Autoharps reverberate, organs hum in the background, cellos shape an undercurrent, guitars chime softly and voices weave songs that seem to come from a castle suspended in time. This six song suite is thematically related to life as a sacred & spiritual journey. Yet The New Heaven and The New Earth are not afraid to navigate the shadows. There are echoes of another Philadelphia based band here, the Espers, and I mean that in the most affirming way. The New Heaven and The New Earth create a unique, captivating sound, layered in clouds of beauty, music close to our dreams.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Zine Review: Feel Better

Feel Better – a zine about self love
By Marlee Grace

Marlee Grace has created a beautiful graphic zine that shares healthy ways to take care of ourselves. Each suggestion / topic / action is featured with an artful image on an elegant risograph print. This zine is bound in twine is the perfect remedy for our overstressed culture. Feel Better is highly recommended by ye old zinester DJ Frederick & can be ordered here:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Booklet Review: Sabadee and Back

Sabadee and Back
by Cosmo’s Mom
$1 / 14 pages

Spoiler alert: Ok, I don’t know how the boy flies home at the end of this story but I’m an adult & the story takes places in a child’s imagination where all things are possible! This is the perfect zine for your first grader, and any kid who likes dinosaurs. Keep that long train runnin’ 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Zine Review: Memories of Freedom

Memories of Freedom is a zine chronicling the activities of the Western Wildlife Unit of the Animal Liberation Front (which I believe has been pronounced as a terrorist organization by the US Government). Animal rights / freedom / advocacy is a mystery to most Americans. We’d just as soon not know where our food comes from or cosmetics or clothing & how many animals were captured / confined / tortured / killed in the process. I’ve always been dismayed by the mindset I would call speciesism – the notion that human beings have the right to dominate the lives and deaths of other living creatures, and eradicate all other life on the planet if we so choose. I guess humans feel that we have biblical permission to do whatever we want “and God gave man dominion over animals so that he could prosper”.

 As an integral part of the fabric of nature, we are the only species that acts in ways that could destroy whole ecosystems. Memories of Freedom is a thorough, 75 page account of the Western Wildlife Unit’s activities in the early 1990’s. You may or may not agree with their philosophies and actions, yet this zine presents “the other side” that we don’t hear about when we hear there has been a raid on a mink farm or that coyotes have been released from a lab somewhere. In the United States, it is a felony to free animals from laboratories, fur farms, factory farms, zoos and rodeos, punishable up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Why? Corporate profit.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mixt Media Review: Archaic Fetishism Vol. 3 (tape)

Tape culture is alive & well at the DIY music label Edible Onion. To be honest, I didn't care much for the thrash & dirge of side A of Archaic Fetishism Volume 3, but side B soothed my aching ears. Side two starts off with "Helicopters" by A Stick & a Stone, a subdued indie folk piece full of ghostly harmonics that would make Sufjan Stevens proud. The Horror The Horror follows in a similar sonic vein with a dreamlike cover of Brian Reichert's song "I Like People."  This tape is limited to 100 copies, and well worth seeking out for Side B alone.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Zine Review: The Sugar Horse

The Sugar Horse
by Skully Adams
half sized / 8 pages

The Sugar Horse delves into Skully’s bipolar disorder in honest, soul searching ways as she comes to terms with the dark side and highs & lows of hypomania. As a culture we pathologize and isolate people with “mental illness”, we don’t understand the dynamics of experience from the inside out. We medicate symptoms and we don’t allow for the process of healing which sometimes follows a descent and journey through hell. Skully doesn’t sugarcoat her thoughts and feelings, she expresses herself honestly in this zine which hopefully will help others with their own awareness. There is nothing so terrible as living in oblivion of one’s self. And, as Skully says, it takes a village to be a person.