Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zine Review: Velocitylab #2

Velocitylab #2: The Revival
26 pages / $4

I stumbled across Velocitylab while browsing on etsy & editor Johnny Tsokos graciously mailed a review copy. Velocitylab #2 is boldly refreshing & unabashedly retro at the same time, creating a continuous wave / loop in time – it’s like reading a zine from 1980 in 2012. Old guys like me appreciate that.  Imagine a world where vinyl records matter, songs matter, local music & gigs matter, creative process matters & flesh and blood wins out over virtual social networking. Velocitylab #2 celebrates that world – the one we are creating and recreating. This issue starts out with a compelling intro (This is Not a Review, This is a Revival) & quickly launches into discussing “shit that still matters”. 

Juxtaposed between interviews with musicians (Kristin Thomson, The Axe & The Oak, Sirs) is some incredibly vivid fiction written by the editor. A few things I could have lived without, like some of the graphic sketches, but that’s simply a matter of personal taste. I have intentionally not visited the zine website, happy to enjoy Velocitylab in its paper incarnation. Variety zines are alive & well. Welcome to the revival. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zine Review: Duped No. 1

Duped Issue No 1: The New Age
40 pages / $3

Duped reads like Mad Magazine dropped from an alternate universe, or perhaps more like one of those antiquated oddball religious / occult tracts that people copied and distributed anonymously in the 1970’s. There is a lot of humor in Duped, but how much of it is funny is purely subjective. What worked for me: a choose your own adventure style story called Destiny Revealed at the Knights of Columbus; parody cd reviews; “Call me Crazy”; Ye Olde Yorker comics & the horoscope section. Chicken & Garfunkel and the centerpiece The Omegaplex End Times HQ were also hysterical. This is the debut issue & I suspect it will evolve and just get weirder. This is the most innovative zine thusfar in my 2012 reading list. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zine Review: Biblio-Curiosa #2

Who are F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre and T. Mullet Ellis? Chris Mikul not only knows who they are, but has read their exceedingly obscure books.

Chris recently published Biblio-Curiosa #2, a zine where he delves into the murky world of oddball books and mostly forgotten authors. I imagine Chris as the kind of bibliographic detective who shuffles through stacks of crumbling, dilapidated books in the attics of eccentric aunts, or rummaging beneath dusty trinket tables at inauspicious flea markets sleuthing for unusual titles wearing vintage Holmesian attire. The reality of course is probably much different, yet this is the image conjured in my mind’s eye by his tempered discoveries.

In the digital age, anyone can self publish anything rather than enduring the whims and mercies of traditional publishing houses. Back in the day (read pre Y2K) getting a book published was a lot of work. Some people read these books with unflinching pleasure when they were originally published. In Biblio-Curiosa #2, Chris relates what is known (or guessed) about the life of novelist, poet and short story writer F. Gynplaine MacIntyre, am imposing and gregarious figure who may unfortunately be remembered for his exit from life rather than his literary output. Chris then unearths a mystery about pulp paperback The Yellow Yasmak by Gina Dewall (or is it Murder in Mid Air by Dexter Dayle? Or perhaps written by neither pseudonym?). Moving forward unscathed, Chris delves headfirst into a potboiler of an intricately plotted novel titled Zalma by T. Mullett Ellis.

The writers chronicled in Biblio-Curiosa were passionate about the printed word, overflowing with imagination, and struck a chord with adventurous readers. This ardent literature should not be languishing in the cellars of history, and Chris Mikul does yeomen’s work as biblio-archeologist bringing these titles back into the prospective reader’s consciousness.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zine Review: Tom Huck A Life Out of Line

Tom Huck: A Life Out of Line
by Kevin McClosky
32 pages / half letter / $6 postpaid

At risk of looping into a recurring theme, I need to say again that the greatest joy I derive from reading zines is the act of discovery. Prior to receiving this zine I had never heard of Tom Huck or his woodblock arts. In what has to be the coolest concept I have seen so far in 2012, the cover of Tom Huck A Life Out of Line detaches to become a full-sized poster, a woodblock reprinted on recycled grocery bag paper.

Kevin McCloskey presents Tom Huck’s story with an energetic narrative and artistic style. He recounts Huck’s early days as a Catholic altar boy, mesmerized and confused by sexuality. Huck becomes infatuated with Albrecht Durer and Jose Posada. He refines his own style and opens Evil Prints, an offbeat printmaking project where he currently creates some of the most unusual woodblock prints of our time, or any other.

What bleeds through clearly in this zine is that Huck’s life is lived with intensity and authenticity. Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zine Review: Taken For a Ride

Taken For a Ride: My Night In the Cash Cab 
by Matt Carman
32 pages / half letter

Matt lifts the veil on the “spontaneous” “reality” game show Cash Cab, detailing his and his friends experiences being scouted, and finally appearing on the show. Matt writes with a distinct voice and brings the experience clarity and perspective yet keeps you in the suspense of the moment. Other essays in Taken For a Ride: My Night In the Cash Cab involve watching The Price Is Right on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, spending a Sunday morning waiting to participate in a focus group or workshop or something related to Password, trying to find Carmen Sandiego & more. This is a very literate, very observant, very humorous zine.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zine Review: Watertowers Are People Too

Watertowers Are People Too
A pedantic story by Alfred Planco
24 pages / half letter / $3

Watertowers Are People Too is uncomplicated yet brimming with thought provoking imagery. We take so much of our environment for granted & this zine shows us creative views of watertowers (a mysterious icon if ever there was one) in their native urban habitat. Watertowers Are People Too seems to be a call to look deeper into our communities and our place on the Earth, to open our eyes to hidden treasures. Evocative & inspired, Watertowers Are People Too is an artistic pleasure. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zine Review: Born to Kill Cheese Bike #5

The cool thing about zines is that any subject can be intriguing if it is given a creative presentation. Born to Kill – Cheese Bike #5 proves my assertion. The creator of this zine chronicles his work selling grilled cheese sandwiches cheap in New York City from the back of his motorbike. At the beginning of issue #5 there is a traffic mishap and the bike needs an overhaul. The writer details the repairs and changes he makes to menu and equipment. 

At first I wondered if this had something to do with The Journey, in which filmmaker Eric Saperston sets out on a quest to find America by selling grilled cheese sandwiches (subtitled: sexy kind) for a buck out of his VW camper. But I didn’t find any connection between these two similar but apparently unrelated projects. No matter – this zine is unique in it’s approach to the material, recording the process with photographs and even a daily accounting of how much the author made from his enterprise and where.
Born to Kill – Cheese Bike #5 is available from Microcosm. 

Zine Review: Grunted Warning #14

Grunted Warning #14
from Stuart Stratu
PO Box 35
Marrickville NSW 2204

$1 / trade / friendly letter

This zine is a lot of fun – full of news clippings ranging from the quirky to the bizarre.We live in a world where anything can happen – and does. Like playing Russian roulette with a sleeping friend (guess who loses). Aliens are kept in the fridge, Zombies fall from scaffolding, Grandmothers harass the neighbors. It’s all here in glorious … black & white, presented for your reading horror, or, in my case - pleasure. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Editorial / Zine Review - Basements and Living Rooms

Basements and Living Rooms
66 pages / $2

Full disclosure: the audience for this zine is about 30 years younger than I am. Squeezing  into a basement with a group of loud, sweaty, possibly inebriated people is not anywhere on my list of enjoyable things to do. So on one level I have an innate bias of sorts. However, on another level I thoroughly enjoyed the spirit and intent expressed within these pages.

Music needs to be taken back from the commercialists and the corporations and American Idolatry. Music was never intended to be an “industry”. Music is something we are all capable of creating. Not that long ago, instead of X-boxes and ‘rock band’, people had pianos or guitars, or other instruments in their living rooms. Before arena rock, the joy of music involved sharing moments with our friends in an intimate space.

House shows are a way of returning to, or evolving, how music was meant to be – homemade, unpretentious, heartfelt, warts and all – not the glittery ‘perfection’ found on television singing competitions. Basements and Living Rooms – A Zine About House Shows and DIY Music is infused with personal stories, perspectives, and experiences of DIY bands and practical advice on setting up your space as a performance venue. This zine is generous with comics, photographs, and practical information. I’ve even heard one of the bands (out of dozens) mentioned – Mega Bog. Maybe I’m not so old after all.

My advice:  tear up your U2 tickets (or whatever mega tour is happening this year) & make your own scene. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mixt Media Audio Review: July 2012

Here's the July edition of my lo-fi zine show featuring some readings from the zine The Whales Will Fuss Over Me by Burgin Mathews, suggestions to celebrate International Zine Month, music from Library Sciences & Edible Onion releases and more ... Your feedback is encouraged - mp3 submissions considered.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zine Review: Piltdown Lad #4

Piltdown Lad #4
The Nasty Oh-Dear
40 pages
Kelly Dessaint
PO Box 86714
LosAngeles CA 90086

There are a handful of zines that, when I’ve turned the final page, make me think: I want to read more of that. Big Hands & Burn Collector are two such zines, and now I have to add Piltdown Lad to the list. Piltdown Lad #4 opens with Kelly Dessaint discussing his zine creations past & present, segueing into what feels like an incomplete autobiographical piece called “The Nasty Oh-Dear” which left me with so many questions about the writer & his brother & their survival through adolescence. Kelly continues with an account of the LA Zine Fest, a generous helping of zine reviews, and the origins of his zine’s name.  Piltdown Lad #4 has the right mix of variety and content – an absolute must read. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Zine Review: The Opera Glass #60

I am convinced that the way forward with zines in the digital age involves a look at the past: creating well written journals with original and compelling content. Ideally, zines & journals will be “offline” (print only) possibly supplemented with an online presence. Having expressed that, I am sure there are dozens of people who will counter with the way forward being zines published via Kindle and e-readers. There is probably room for both approaches in the universe.

The Opera Glass No. 60 (April 2012) is the first issue of this unique publication I have read. The Opera Glass is edited by Iris J. Arnesen, and exudes an abundance of enthusiasm for opera and the local theater scene in Tucson AZ. Issue No. 60 goes behind the scenes at a production of Inherit the Wind, then segues into a detailed education on Orfeo ed Euridice. Iris takes the reader on a tour of the mythical Elysian Fields and then writes reviews of productions staged in Tucson in early 2012. The Opera Glass also includes a correspondence section. The Opera Glass is one of a growing number of zines that are made without the use of computers. 

Like excellent theater, zines also carry the potency and potential to transport us to distant times or different cultures, educate us and elicit emotion. This zine has me thinking about ways to disconnect from the television and connect with live performances, and perhaps hunt down some opera records (ah vinyl!) … The Opera Glass is a generous & gracious journal that I hope to read for years to come. 

Write to: Iris J. Arnesen 219 N Euclid Avenue Tucson AZ 85719

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zine Review: Garden Club

Garden Club
a zine by Katie Haegele

Garden Club is about as charming a zine as you will find. Katie describes her experiences with the local garden club and an herb garden that she helps maintain on the grounds of a historic house / museum. This is a delightfully illustrated zine with crisp writing, however I would have enjoyed reading more about the various plants in the garden, and more about the garden club itself. A perfect zine to enjoy with a cup of herbal tea.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Zine Review: No No No (This is NOT a Zine) #2

Every once in a while a zine arrives in the mail that I read cover to cover in one sitting - a zine of substance that absorbs me from the opening lines onward. Fortunately I ordered No No No (This is NOT a Zine) from Parcell Press and it arrived only a couple of days later (snail mail? I think *not*)!

Kim Cody's writing is descriptive and absorbing. There is directness and honesty in her writing, an economy of words used to their fullest effect. Kim relates the death of her mother and it's aftermath, a slow, tortured healing / grieving process that is as raw and real as anything you will read in any zine this or any year. There is also a great (true) story about her attempts to get involved in the mail art scene, some stark and beautiful poetry, and more. No No No (This is NOT a Zine) Issue 2 is compelling in every sense. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mixt Media Audio Zine June 2012

Here's the new episode of my lo-fi zine show featuring some readings from the zines Real Life, Letterfounder, Finite and Flamable, Old Weird America and more. Also includes some radio news & indie music. Your comments and feedback are appreciated.