Sunday, March 31, 2013

Zine Review: Elizabeth Rust

Elizabeth Rust
16 pages / half letter / screen printed covers
available from Pioneers Press

When we lay down our pretenses, and speak our truth, true connection can happen. Elizabeth Rust is a persona (maybe) and a zine (definitely) and a creation of utter beauty and authenticity. The author’s quiet voice sings from the pages, discussing gender issues and identity. Reading this zine was like reading a letter from an old and trusted friend. There is even an envelop included to respond to the author. Elizabeth Rust is one more reason why I love zines.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Zine review: Ker-bloom! #99

Ker-bloom! #99
$3.50 from artnoose
1200 Boyle Street
Pittsburgh PA 15212

I don’t subscribe to Ker-bloom! Yet every time I buy a miscellaneous issue, I thoroughly enjoy reading this zine. Ker-bloom! Issue #99 is gorgeous in its presentation – gold and silver lettering set against a chocolate brown cover, with gold and green ink typeface within. This is an essay about celebrating Fellowship Day (December 25) from Lord of the Rings, and a meditation on the connections that have heart, meaning, and courage in our lives. Full disclosure: Since my reading initial reading of Tolkien’s trilogy in 1976 I have felt that his novels the finest works of literature I have read in my lifetime. It’s wonderful to see that people are creating new traditions inspired by Lord of the Rings and that Tolkien’s spirit lives on, not just in big budget films. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Zine Review: Glass Orchid #4 & #5

Glass Orchid #4 & #5
¼ size
PO Box 99792
Pittsburgh PA 15233
I suggest sending $7 minimum for both issues

Rarely do I find a zine where so much exceptional content is packed into so few pages. Glass Orchid is a panacea for those of us inflicted with crate digging fever & a love of vinyl. Both issues include a wealth of record related articles including an in-depth essay about finding the David & Anthony LP “Walnut Street” and an extensive interview with David Detillo. There are also film reviews for Mystery Train and Harold and Maude; and a well researched primer on 1960’s blues. This is the perfect zine for those of us who hunt for the dusty grooves and the holy grails.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Zine Review: Harsh Barge

Harsh Barge
photography by Tanner Ballengee
$3 / 48 pages / half letter

Tanner and his friend Connor spent the summer of 2012 motorbiking through Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, VietNam and India. Harsh Barge is the photographic document of that journey. Early on, I was wishing that there were captions to some of these pictures but learned at the back of the zine that the pictures are also available to view on Tanner’s blog with details on each photograph. I enjoyed the sheer variety posted on the blog but prefer the black & white photos in the zine for their stark otherworldly beauty and mystery. Maybe next time we’ll get a zine that combines both visuals and narrative.

Zine Review: Galatea's Pants 2000-2010

Galatea’s Pants 2000-2010

Lauren has been publishing Galatea’s Pants for over a decade. Previous issues that I’ve read were brimming with progressive thought, a panacea for consumerist / capitalist / fucked up culture. This issue, not so much.

Much of this issue is taken up with interviews. First, Lauren interviews Nishta Mehra about her food oriented blog. Then Aisha Sloan discusses her Detroit based artists colony. Here’s an except from Lauren’s interview with Melanie Cervantes, an artist / activist / printmaker: “…from 6:30 pm until about midnight we read and respond to email, do some social networking, write blogs, read multiple online newspapers, websites … on a good day we’ll get some time to draw or work on a design.” . This is followed up with an interview with Anna Pulley who, when asked about her writing process, explains “Usually I’ll write a few sentences then go check Facebook. Then I’ll read a blog post …and write another sentence before deciding to browse OK Cupid…”

It feels like what is being celebrated here is the shallow end of the pool … not what unites us in any real, tangible way. I’m unconvinced that the internet and social networking are contributing to the social well-being of community, in fact, Facebook, etc may be fracturing our attention and our relationships. As we become more insular, we actually communicate less and create less change … we become hypnotized by screens, complacent and comfortable with our cliques and cocoons. Even you are reading this blog, I am always considering unplugging completely from the internet to focus on reality – not virtual reality. These interviews didn't speak to me in any way, though I’m sure that my “demographic” is not the intended audience.

The opening and closing articles are the real substance and heart of Galatea’s Pants 2000-2010 in which Lauren not only bares her process of approaching this anniversary interview, but also has a dialogue with her wise and inspired 16 year old self. It’s these moments that make Lauren’s zine a joy to read, and the rest found me yawning. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zine Review: Alphabet Soup #2

Alphabet Soup #2
20 pages / full size / $6 or 7 donation appreciated
2601 Old Quarry Road
Missoula MT 59808

By the time I reached page three of Alphabet Soup #2, my thoughts were deeply immersed in philosophical reflection, preoccupied with themes of awakening, conscious awareness, and allowing the light into our lives. Alphabet Soup is something fresh and refreshing, a collective project woven with poetry, drawings, and even recipes (I definitely look forward to making rosemary blackberry burgers).

Twenty pages feels like two hundred given the numerous delights within. A crossword poem! Answers to the editor! A lo-fi music cd! My personal favorite music on the cd were the folk psych meanderings of  the Redball Orchestra, the baroque pop of Mendelssohn and the piano interludes of Jake Whitecar. The cd is like a community pot-luck of sounds – something for everyone to explore. 

Full disclosure: I have a prose piece in this issue. It is truly an affirmation to be included with this talented group of creative people. 

Music sampling from the cd: Locally Grown by Whole 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Zine Review: X-Rayer #94

Ray X X-Rayer #94
PO Box 2
Plattsburgh NY 12901-0002

This issue of the stalwart X-Rayer is several pages long & recounts Ray X’s past couple of months. He says the year got off to a rough start and I know the feeling. There is some discussion about a new neighbor with mental illness & Ray X’s concerns about their behavior. This is a tough one for me, being in the mental health field, also because I've known plenty of people who are not labelled mentally ill but who are scary as hell. Regardless, people have to live somewhere, yet community treatment is underfunded and so co-opted by the medical / insurance model that some mental health clinics now treat mental illness (when they provide treatment at all) like it is treating a cold – that you prescribe some remedy (psychotropic meds) and hope for the best. Sometimes, they turn people into zombie and other times, usually due to self motivation and peer support groups, people find a path of recovery and learn how to manage their symptoms.

Ray X updates us on the Peter Gersten 12/21/12 end of the world leap of faith – it appears Mr. Gersten didn’t find galactic center, but possibly made it to the moon. There’s an update on the LibertyNet (did someone mention mental illness?) and an article about tinfoil sideshows, Sandy Hook conspiracy madness and more. This zine is always a fantastic read. Will he make it to 100 issues? Damn, I hope so.