Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Zine Review: 8-Track Mind #102

8 Track Mind #102
available from Antiquated Future

Russ Forster curates what I feel to be one of the most important zines currently in production. 8 Track Mind digs into analog culture with essays about the disparity between digital and analog platforms and how each is experienced. There is more than waxing nostalgia for tape and vinyl at work here – these essays brim with a personal, yet social examination of our relationship with music, content, and format. Some of the contents include: Romancing the Record by Jake Whitener, Cassette Revival by Tim Hinely, The Unity of Time and Space by Lucien Williams, a special mini zine insert titled Surfing the Digital Divide on Fourth-Wave Format Nostalgia and much more. All of the writing in this issue is engaging, mindful, substantial. If you are going to read only one zine this year – make it 8 Track Mind.

New One Minute Audio Series: Paper Radio

Here's a new audio project for radio that I'm trying out. This is the first show, an introduction. Please give it a listen & let me know what you think!

As of 10/4/2013 four stations are airing Paper Radio. There's a list and links here on the blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zine Review: Dusty Paperbacks

Dusty Paperbacks
The Radical Uprise 032

Full disclosure: Ye olde DJ has an article included in this zine.

The heart & soul of Dusty Paperbacks comes right in the middle of this quarter-sized zine: an essay by Shulie B titled The Importance of the Written Word which delves into the author’s relationship with physical books with clarity and succinct expression. Shulie B’s words resonate with me and articulate concepts that I've been struggling to put down on paper for months. We touch, smell, taste, see, feel and imagine differently with a book in our hands vs. an electronic reader. The experience is literally more organic. A sacred path leads us from bookshop or library back to publisher back to printer back to author and connects us in ways that are difficult to express but that are qualitatively different than a connection with a cold white screen. .

Shulie B’s narrative is unfortunately the only piece that I personally connected with in this zine (apart from my own). When it comes to the topic of love for literature and dusty books we need dozens, hundreds of voices singing from the page. A stack of zines proclaiming that books are not dead. Sometimes less is more but with a topic this compelling, more is more. I wish there had been more substance in this zine. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dream Whip 14

Dream Whip No. 14
By Bill Brown
available from Microcosm Publishing

Bill Brown is an astute journalist. There are stretches of Dream Whip No. 14 where I could not put this book down – Bill’s trip to Europe aboard a freighter is one of them. Another passage where Bill and a friend visit the ill-fated Biosphere 2 is hysterical. Trains, travels, and keen observations intersect with brilliant writing (and legible handwriting). There is so much substance to absorb within this edition of Dream Whip that I wish it had been restructured into several mini-zines.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ZIne Review: Piltdown Lad 8.5

And every one of those words rang true
And glowed like burning coal

-         Bob Dylan, Tangled Up in Blue

Piltdown Lad 8.5
The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin
Kelly Dessaint

For the first dozen pages of The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin I thought I was reading a word-for-word account of my adolescence. My parents were Christians and I remember attending numerous “revival” meetings – the shouting preachers, hellfire and damnation, Jesus as the only bridge to salvation, the call to be born again, the magnetic tug of the crowd as people leave their seats to push up front and be blessed, the ceaseless persuasion to conform, the mesmerizing speaking in tongues, the baptism of fire.

Through his writing, Kelly captures the mixed emotions of adolescence, the mixed motivations, feelings, and thoughts that besiege us in the spaces between childhood and adulthood. The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin is a story of rebellion and personal evolution. Like most of Kelly’s zines, this was a “read straight through” session – cliché as it sounds, I literally could not put this zine down until I was finished reading. Then I started at the beginning again.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Zine Review: Operations Manual Vol. XI

Operations Manual 11

The crew of Operations Manual crank the volume up to 11 in this edition & blow Spinal Tap off the radar. As with previous issues, Operations Manual is brimming with surrealist madness. Where else would you find quotes from Antonio Machado and Akira Kurosawa on the same page? Or biblical passages about robbing the poor and following vain persons? Or an educational treatise on polydactyly? Nowhere. Check your mind at the door & enter e-mortality. Peace out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Zine Review: Recovery Issue 1

Recovery Zine Issue 1

One of the distortions that American culture has taught us is that when it comes to our struggles, we are on our own. It is somehow your fault for being (fill in the blank). People may look at me, weighing in well over 300 lbs, and think “what a loser.” Wrong – I’m a human being who: 1) has been an emotional eater 2) has a barely functioning thyroid and 3) feels physically healthy regardless of my weight. 

Recovery Zine Issue 1 is a wonderful zine on so many levels. First – I love the layout and design: 8 ½ X 11 sheets cleanly printed on one side & bound with yarn. Second – the content is engaging, clearly written, and immediately useful. Everyone I know needs to read the section on 15 ways to untwist your thinking.

Eating disorders are complicated, related to emotions, perceptions, and biochemistry. I have a firm belief that more people have eating disorders than not in this culture – witness the proliferation of fast food over the past two generations. We are simply disconnected from our hunger, our bodies, the earth, and  the natural rhythms of life. We are told things that are not true, and we start to tell ourselves things that are not true. Our warped thinking and the disconnect between us and the natural rhythms of life creates a variety of addictions and disorders.

This zine is a great resource for those who are working their path to recovery. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Zine Review: The Hard Fifty Farm Issue 2

The Hard Fifty Farm Issue 2: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
by Jessie Duke
digest / 36 pages / $4.50

A moment emerges toward the end of this zine when heartfelt truth spills free like a shaft of sunlight through thunderclouds at sunset – refreshing, reassuring and real - the culmination of an emotional journey and its revelations.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted is the story of a group of friends choosing a different path & lessons uncovered. There are doubts about survival and relationships, animals to be tended, invisible neighbors, and life-threatening accidents witnessed.There are moments of quiet and mindfulness and connection. There is grace in everyday struggle.

Jessie Duke is an skillful writer and storyteller with an earth-seasoned voice. This zine belongs at the top of your must read list.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Piltdownlad #6 Institutionalized

Piltdown Lad #6:
by Kelly Dessaint
PO Box 86714
Los Angeles CA 90086

Institutionalized is the story of two young brothers who get caught up in the world of adult sexual abuse and how they try to free themselves.

Institutionalized is the story of two perpetrators – one, the children’s father, the other the father’s 19 year old lover.

Institutionalized is the story of how our social institutions come to the “assistance” of young victims and how the system fails them.

This story takes place in the 1980’s. Not much has changed. And the story is true.

Kelly has one of the most distinctive voices among zine creators today. Institutionalized
Includes actual newspaper and court records accounts of the arrest and incarceration of the abusers. There are pages from Kelly’s notebooks at the time. This issue of  Piltdown Lad continues with Kelly’s compelling, page-turning writing. This is one of those rare zines I read start to finish with no breaks.

A couple of things felt out of place in Piltdown Lad #6 – letters of comment and zine reviews. The zine would have been even more intense and powerful without them. Otherwise – again – Piltdown Lad is essential reading.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Zine Review: Think About The Bubbles #8

Think About the Bubbles #8
Trust the Knife
30 pages / half legal / $6
Joyce Hatton
PO Box 374
Moorhead MN 56560

I could write a two word review of Think About the Bubbles #8: READ THIS & my work as a reviewer would be done.

This zine is a gorgeous, full-color, hand written, illustrated journey through the chaos of life. In diary style, Joyce chronicles her struggles with breast cancer, the medical system, homelessness, mental health issues and more. Her life swings from complete mess to warrior-like determination to succeed on her own terms. Think About the Bubbles #8 vibrantly sings about LIFE in all its messy glory - how we learn, heal and grow – through the discomfort, through the pain, one minute at a time. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Zine Review: Elephant Mess #27

Elephant Mess #27
Dan Murphy
PO Box 9862
Boise ID 83707

Author David Deida has written that there is one significant truth that a man must understand: that everything he builds in this life will erode and crumble into nothingness. Our work here is ephemeral at best. When men can understand and embrace this reality, and do the work we love anyway, we’re theoretically emotionally healthier.

Reading Elephant Mess 27, thoughts of the ephemeral kept flowing through my consciousness. Dan starts out with a meditation on the ephemeral and journeys into some intensely personal territory. The thoughts, concepts, feelings that Dan shares are cathartic and an antidote to cultural insanity. There is incredible wisdom within these pages: confronting apathy, moving purposely, navigating the darkness, examining the illusions and realities of love.

Zines that speak to men’s internal landscapes are so important – at the risk of being labeled a sexist here, I believe that men have been maligned, dehumanized, and abused by the culture at large. Watch television for ten minutes – any channel, any show – and how you will see men portrayed in the media is deplorable. The truth is – many of us deal with emotional struggles, feel deeply, love the earth, and are not flaming narcissists, violent ignoramuses or corporate zombies. Sharing our interior, given the hostility inherent toward men expressing their truth in this culture, is an act of courage and faith.

Thank you Dan. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Treasure Issue One

Treasure No. 1
June 2013

Be prepared for a journey if you read Treasure #1, the inaugural issue of a new fanzine coordinated by Bruce Gillespie. Treasure replaces the zine Scratch Pad, which makes me want to immediately seek out all available back issues.

This edition starts out with Mr. Gillespie discussing the evolution of Treasure, and music concerts (or not attending concerts and the regret that creates). Dora Levakis contributes a substantial account of her trip to Tuva and experiences with throat singing and Tuvan culture. This is followed up by Jennifer Bryce’s travelogue about spending a month in India. Both of these pieces are so crisply written that the reader is transported to another place and time.

The centerpiece of this issue is a lengthy autobiography titled “The Sound of Different Drums: My Life and Science Fiction” by John Litchen of which this is the fifth installment. Writing a memoir that is absorbing and not sleep inducing takes real skill – and Mr. Litchen weaves his magic through conga drumming and night club performances to literature to diving & snorkeling to platonic love affairs … all the while weaving a hypnotic narrative like a smoky jazz poem. 

There is much more diverse content in Treasure. A “must read”. The electronic version is available from