Friday, November 30, 2012

Zine Review: Mo'Bows

Mo’ Bows
by Dirk Keaton 

There is a massive multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry that manufacture drugs (often not even knowing how or if they work) and a cadre of doctors who will prescribe them like candy then walk away to let you pick up the pieces. For anyone who wrestles with a mental health or behavioral issue, or who knows people who do (this is all of us), Mo’Bows is an essential read. In clear, concise language, Dirk walks the reader through the minefields of deciding whether or not to use psychotropic drugs as part of the recovery / healing process. Although this zine chronicles his personal story of dealing with OCD and his personal experiences with medications, the information and perspectives shared are relevant on many levels. Dirk’s writing is insightful, thought provoking, and above all encourages the reader to make choices that work for them. Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Zine Review: Angry Violist #6

Angry Violist #6

One of the consequences of our culture in the past twenty years is that music has become a specialist commodity rather than a fact of everyday expression. There has been a commercialization and professionalization that is permeating the culture – music as “competition” ala The X Factor or The Voice, or music as accompaniment to video or spectacle. Living rooms were once graced with pianos, organs, and other instruments. Now living rooms are inhabited by Wiis an ‘Rock Band” – music that is programmed for us.

But some people are still playing for the sheer love of music, having fun playing real instruments with friends, and saying ‘no’ to perfectionism. Angry Violinist is a zine for the rest of us. It features an adventurous array of writing by Emma. This installment discusses Joshua Bell’s experiment with busking. There is an examination of how our preconceived notions and fears keep us stuck and some great suggestions as to how to break free of being “good enough”. Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis discusses his creative work. And Emma includes an FAQ about violas. Angry Violist is an essential read for anyone who loves or plays music. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Zine Review: Alphabet Soup #1

Alphabet Soup #1

Every so often the debut issue of a zine shows so much potential and promise that you can’t wait to have the next issue safely in your hands. Alphabet Soup Issue 1 blends art, poetry, and prose seamlessly into a quirky stew of high caliber writing. Dan Hansen’s piece The Red Ball starts the issue off by pondering objects we find in our lives and their unexpected symbolic and creative uses. An excerpt from “reach” left me wanting to read the whole interstitial story. Brian Burnett contributes stunning nature photography to this issue. There are also delicious recipes to whet one’s appetite for Italian Zucchini Boats and chili. Exquisite corpses are scattered throughout the zine with fine surrealist imagery, and if this wasn’t enough … there is also a soundtrack cd included with lo-fi music by Hot the Cat, Katy & Simon, The Peaches & much more – nine generously chosen tracks in all. Who says print is dead? Don’t sleep on this one – contact for more information or send $5 (suggested donation) to Dan Hansen 2601 Quarry Road Missoula MT 59808

Friday, November 16, 2012

Magazine Review: Tiki Magazine

Tiki Magazine
Vol. 8  No. 2  2012/2013
$28 / 4 issues
10531 4S Commons Dr #496
San Diego CA 92127

Here’s a glossy magazine created by a crew of folks who never met a martini they didn’t like. Or maybe that’s a Mai Tai. Tiki Magazine is all about escapism, probably into a faux-Polynesian culture that never was. It is chock full of ads for products and places that you never knew existed unless you are a Tikiphile (is that a word?). Having said that, Tiki Magazine is a fun read. There are music reviews of bands like The Martini Kings and The Tiki Kings. One article examines the mosaic arts of a duo of artists who call themselves “Velvet Glass” and who create stunning tropical themed visuals. Another article introduces readers to Surf Exotica, guitar-centric instrumental music that is heavy on reverb and twang. Kari Hendler recounts the history of Dan Blanding, a poet, author, and artist who adopted Hawaii as his joyful home in the early 20th century and illuminated the culture through his work. Tiki Magazine even has a “drive in” section devoted to reviewing B movies featuring island themes. Totems, taboos, and the scent of the exotic whisper from every colorful page. I don’t often sing the praises of glossy publications with ads, etc, but this one is too cool to miss. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Zine Review: The Reluctant Famulus #88 & 89

The Reluctant Famulus #88
46 pages / full letter
305 Gill Branch Road
Owenton KY 40359

In the not too distant past, “Liberal Arts” was not a dirty word in education. Students navigated courses in literature, fine arts, civics, history and received degrees in subjects like English. Graduates were expected to be well-rounded, able to think critically, and use language in both precise and creative ways.

The Reluctant Famulus seems perfect reading for just such a demographic and includes a wide range of informative articles. Editor Thomas D. Sadler opens this issue with a brief retrospective on Ray Bradbury which morphs into a retrospective on the alleged UFO crash in Roswell 65 years ago. Gene Stewart narrates his road trip adventures. The earliest British commune (c. 1821) is the subject of an essay by Geoff Lardner-Burke titled “Attempts at Utopia: The Cooperative and Economical Society”. Alfred D. Byrd contributes a wonderful article lifting the veil on the mythology surrounding Daniel Boone. Matt Howard recounts a visit by Maurice Sendak to Indianapolis and discusses the progression of the author’s writing & art. The Reluctant Famulus has a generous letters section from many of the contributors and others.

The variety of writing presented in The Reluctant Famulus reminds me of why I love zines. Contributors share both their knowledge and passion for their chosen subjects. The essays are expansive, unencumbered, the antithesis of work-shopped / focus-grouped publications. There is a science fiction undercurrent but it does not dominate threads and themes explored. Thomas D. Sadler states on the frontispiece “TRF may be obtained for The Usual but especially in return for written material and artwork, postage costs, The Meaning of Life and Editorial Whim.” Indeed.

The Reluctant Famulus 89

Calling all polymaths - I’m happy to report that the quality of this zine continues in Issue 89. Editor Thomas D. Sadler delves further into the realities and fictions of the Roswell UFO incident of 1947. Geoff Lardner-Burke explores more attempts at Utopia from the 1820’s.Eric Barraclough writes about Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers. The letters section is in-depth as the main essays in The Reluctant Famulus. Where have I been for the first 87 issues?!?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Zine Review: Trabant #5

Trabant #5
88 pages / ¼ size / $3

Meticulous, well choreographed document of Megan’s year spent in circus school. She details personal routines, exercises, grueling physical workouts, injuries, highs and lows. Finally toward the end of the zine, Megan discusses what a “career” in circus might look like. The question that kept rolling around in my brain while reading Trabant #5 is why anyone would put themselves through this level of intensity, physical exhaustion and pain unless they were obsessed. On one level there is almost too much information in this zine, and I wonder who it will appeal to beyond the circus / theater / dance community.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Zine Review: Deafula #4

Deafula #4
40 pages / 1/4 legal / $4
PO Box 1665
Southampton PA 19866

In Deafula # 4, Kerri exposes the truth of what it is like to ask for / need a reasonable accommodation for employment. The ADA was passed over 20 years ago but is a system of laws that essentially have no teeth. The official unemployment rate among people with disabilities hovers around 15% but in reality, if you count every issue that qualified as a “disability” that rate is over 70% as most people with disabilities – especially when one factors in people with developmental disabilities or mental health issues who have never been active in the workforce. Kerri deftly unmasks the horror of applying for work as a deaf person and the incredible barriers and attitudes that she experienced from prospective employers in job searches. She discusses accommodation issues in detail including the ambiguous language in the ADA. Deafula is on my must-read list: an exceptional zine that is very well written and visually appealing. Every issue is an education in itself. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mixt Media Audio Zine November 2012

Here's the new edition of Mixt Media Audio Zine!

I'm taking an extended break from recording these shows as I have received absolutely no feedback, positive or negative or mixt. While I have enjoyed recording them, I have plenty of other creative fires burning. Who knows? Maybe this project will return next year, with a similar or vastly changed format.