Category Archives: Columns

Deb Frazin Photo Column—The Stranglers

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In May, The Stranglers played a sold-out show at The Regent Theater. The show was so good that people were buzzing about it for a week afterward. Thanks to the opening band Rappresaglia, I was able to secure a photo pass and get into the pit to shoot some snaps and video.

The Stranglers set list was just about perfect. I would’ve liked to have heard “Who Wants the World” and “Sometimes,” but unfortunately, they were a no-go. Instead, we were treated to “Golden Brown,” “No More Heroes,” “Get a Grip on Yourself,” “5 Minutes,” “Always the Sun,” “Walk On By,” “Peaches,” “Duchess,” “Tank,” “Bring on the Nubiles,” “Hanging Around,” and many other favorites. You just can’t complain about a set list like that!

The sound was surperb. Baz’s vovals were on point, I felt JJ Burnel’s driving bass rumbling hard through my chest, and Dave Greenfield’s trademark keyboard sound was cranked up nice and loud (as it should be). The crowd was very enthusiastic throughout the set, and I caught a drumstick after the last song. That show was just what the doctor ordered.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the soothing sounds of “Hanging Around”!

Deb Frazin Instagram

Louis Jacinto Photo Column—The Screamers

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Tomata du Plenty, Paul Roessler, K K Barrett, Tommy Gear.  The Screamers.  A Band. When a band has a powerful lead, the other members can sometimes be pushed to the side—not in a dismissive way but because the lead is so dynamic.  But like all bands, it’s the entire entity that gives that lead singer their sound to build their style upon. Yes, Tomata du Plenty’s performance was like no other punk from the Los Angeles scene of the 1970s. But it was the tightness and sound explosion given him by the other three band members which made The Screamers unlike any other band. Their mystery and power continues to inspire to this day!

www.onodream.com

Featured Zine Reviews Razorcake 110—Koreangry, 13 Poems, Behind the Zines, Gooberbutt?!, Minor Leagues

Illustration by Becky R Minjarez

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KOREANGRY: AN ANGRY KOREAN WOMAN
, $10, 5½” x 8½”, Laserjet, 32 pgs.
The anger many of us people of color feel can either be hard to express, or a little too easy in the “shout at everyone at this bar and get kicked out of happy hour” kind of way. It can be a thin line, as many of those who do not understand this anger just see it as aggressiveness and/or whining. A way I never thought I’d see as a way of expressing these feelings is using clay figures. Using a clay figure as your personal icon is brilliant, and the emotion and power really shines through the figures. The passage and ravaging of emotions sometimes come out as physical ailments in Eunsoo’s avatar, and the representations of stress and vice comes in physical forms. It works so well in this form, and makes it a bit more accessible to some when words don’t work for them. Seeing all the perfect miniature recreations of household items and food is fascinating as well. Plus, it came with stickers of Eunsoo courting some fried chicken. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Eunsoo Jeong, instagram.com/koreangry)
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13 POEMS, $5, 5 ½” x 8½”, copied
Taking a nod from Fugazi’s 13 Songs, 13 Poems is a subdued red statement on Rhine’s subversive and sweet America that weaves its way through regret-tinged Applebee’s karaoke bars and punk basements, Indiana Jones fantasy-scapes, rhythmic invocations, and meditations on skateboarding. I actually love this zine; it’s one of my favorite poetry zines I’ve read in a while, maybe because I’m a weird sad nerd drummer poet too. Maybe because it’s speaking directly about Rhine’s experiences as a New Jersey punk, and the sadness and out of step-ness and hope and dirty carpet and critical nostalgia that binds that experience together. It’s hard to not feel connected when someone is sharing so much in ways that feel familiar and honest. Fast read. Bound beautifully. 10/10 for me. –Candace Hansen (JR Rhine, jrrhinepoetry.bigcartel.com)

BEHIND THE ZINES #7, $3, 5½”x 8½”, copied, 38 pgs.
The always-engaging Billy who writes Proof I Exist, and Last Night at the Casino, and other titles has put together this zine about zines. The first piece is by Billy. It’s about zines and anti-capitalism and how he refuses to let go of the old school punk ethic of making zines and being a bit alienated from new school zinesters who now boast of how much they can sell a zine for rather than how many copies they were able to scam. He also shouts out Razorcake in that piece. Thanks, Billy. We do our part! There are articles about creating a graph to keep track of where your zines go, a story from a reluctant zinester who overcame their perfectionist tendencies to embrace zine culture, reviews of zine events, a zinester interview, and some reviews. As I write this, I’m sitting on the Amtrak, drinking alone, sad for a time when people would hang out in the lounge car drinking together instead of staying in their seats looking at their phones. I recall a time when I handed zines out to people I met. A few of them wrote me emails telling me how important my words were and I’ll never forget that. Don’t let human connection die. Quit looking at your damned phone and call somebody on it. Talk to strangers. Read zines. Sit down and order a fucking zine.  –Craven Rock (Billy, PO Box 22551, Baltimore, MD 21203, Iknowbilly@gmail.com)

BLEACHED POLAROID PROJECT, $?, 5¼” x 4”, Laserjet, 20 pgs.
This collection of bleached Polaroids is quite beautiful. Whether or not there is a story to these is up to debate. Since these are all assumed to be images from the lives of the photographers, it gives itself some meaning as snapshots from small moments they’ve lived. Bleaching the Polaroids creates this color distortion that’s interesting. The color saturation is boosted to a maximum, and most of the time creates a pastel look to them. Damn, the colors really bring my eye holes a great joy. It makes me wish I could frame these and put them on my walls, so I can look at them and vomit rainbows out of my eyes. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Desilu Muñoz and Stephanie Segura, lachambapress.tumblr.com)

CREATING SAFER SPACES FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 8 pgs.
A great beginner’s guide for those who wish to be respectful to those with disabilities, because, honestly, you were probably an asshole about it. This zine by Rep Tilian is great, as it’s very blunt, which is a tone that’s needed since lots of people are so condescending in how they act with disabled folx and don’t realize it. It’s like a wake-up call, and slam!—something to open up your eyes. Pick this up if you want to know if maybe you are being a douche without knowing it, and you can try to be a better person. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Rep Tilian, no address listed.)

DEEP FRIED, $1, 8½” x 11”, copied, 28 pgs.
When I imagine the pure, Platonic ideal of a digest-sized fanzine whose raison d’etre revolves around the mirth and woe of fast food, what I imagine is something fairly crappy looking, with hand-scrawled headlines, large, uninterrupted blocks of small text, and an occasional accompanying image of a BK Broiler® cut out of an advertising mailer. Startlingly, Deep Fried is actually pretty well-written, with reasonably slick graphics, proving once and for all that “value menu” and “quality” need not be mutually exclusive. Brief, fast-paced interviews (generally revolving around fast food, natch) include Mannequin Pussy and Joe Pickett of the Found Footage Film Festival; other tastefully McNugget®-sized articles include an explanation on how one used to be able to wax a ledge for skateboarding purposes with a Wendy’s soda cup, and the origin of Jell-O® Instant Pudding™. As the Descendents once said, “eating is believing.” –Rev. Nørb (2901 Yosemite Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55416, videophobia222@hotmail.com)

DON’T BE A DRAG, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 16 pgs.
Hell yeah! You gotta love some dope-ass queer weirdo art. This collection of some work by Anthony Hurd is a good, compact collection of aggressive, trashy artwork which combines political and sexual themes into a great gravy mash. There is great detail in each drawing from scales to skin, and its crass look is very appealing. There’s even a very unnerving drawing of human teeth with its own pair of teeth. Anything that terrifies me or makes me uneasy is a winner. It’s in-your-face and awesome. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Anthony Hurd, instagram.com/anthony.hurd)

EARTH FIRST!: THE JOURNAL OF ECOLOGICAL RESISTANCE
Winter 2018, $6.50, offset, 8” x 10½”, 56 pgs.
If I’m being honest, I’ve always had a disconnect with environmental issues. This longstanding journal from one of the world’s most prominent radical environmental groups does a solid job of tying ecological matters to radical politics generally, piquing my interest. Questions addressed in this issue include how environmental issues affect refugees and how art is intrinsically related to environment. Nicely laid out, well-written, and thought-provoking, the Earth First! publication has the potential to exact change beyond simply preaching to the choir. –Art Ettinger (Daily Planet Publishing, PO Box 1112, Grants Pass, OR 97528)

FOREVER: A COLLECTION OF LOVE LETTERS, $?, 5½” x 8½”, silkscreened cover, 32 pgs.
Alright, okay, I’m a hopeless romantic. This zine pulls selections from the “Love Letters Anonymous” archive on Tumblr, which I’d seen before, but never in a physical form. Seeing these digitally is a wholly different, arguably commodified experience, where seeing them physically adds a weight I wasn’t prepared for in picking this up. Some of the letters are apologies or unrequited, some wax poetic, where others are completely straightforward. The oldest are between a husband and wife during World War II. All of them are striking; this zine is almost overwhelming in the sheer range of emotions. This might, too, be because all of us experience love, and it’s one of the strongest, stupidest things we feel. Either way, Forever has me dabbing away a tear, and I’m glad for it. –Jimmy Cooper (Natalie Woodlock, Sodapops Shop on Etsy)

GOOBERBUTT?! #2, $?, 5½” x 4”, printed, 10 pgs.
Inspired by a love of physical media (CDs, records, books, et cetera), this mini-zine is about cassette tapes; specifically four prominent ones that changed one person’s life. Everyone can relate to discovering your first favorite bands and the styles or genre of music that really spoke to you. The tapes that did that for the writer were from bands Faith No More, Burnt Toast, Vivian’s Lunch, and Rugby Mothers. Each has a little back story and memory as to how the tape opened up a world of music, made them want to start a band, and began the journey into digging for similar bands and music. Definitely relatable for any music fan, especially those of us who still collect physically instead of digitally. –Tricia Ramos (Gooberbutt?!, gooberbuttzine@gmail.com)

GOOBERBUTT?!, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 20 pgs.
Jason, the author of this zine, writes of his life in Flint, Mich., back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Specifically, he tells of what it was like to be part of the punk scene with his band, South Bay Bessie. He also recounts tales of living in a punk house, the band’s initial gigs, and playing at a nudist resort. One of the main venues in Flint at that time was the Local 432, a club where my friends’ band played in the early ’00s. I liked the space and the audience had a good vibe, so I understood some of what he was talking about in Gooberbutt?! There was even a sweet ending to the zine about how he met his wife. The final page is a list of things Jason wished he learned while he lived in the punk house. There was some nice stuff, but then the last one was, “Jesus was way cool.” I read that and thought, “Wait, did I miss something? Because that’s a serious plot twist.” There was nothing about religion in this zine at all. So I did some digging and found that the author of the zine used to be a pastor. That put it into context, but why even mention that? Otherwise, this is a solid zine that was a good trip down memory lane for me. If you interacted with the Flint scene or are just interested in reminiscing about ’90s small town punk, then check this out. –Kurt Morris (gooberbuttzine@gmail.com)

HEADWINDS #3, £1, 5½” x 8½”, 24 pgs.
This is a great zine out of the U.K. that covers reviews of records, podcasts, live gigs, zines, and festivals, as well as featuring in-depth interviews. In this third issue there are interviews with the band Blankets from Münster, Germany, and Trophy Jump from Zagreb, Croatia, as well as one with the head of a zine and distro in Malaysia. The interviews cover the general sound and history of the bands, while also culturally coloring them in. I appreciate there are as many questions about their songs, feelings concerning football, and opinions on each country’s politics. This zine helps to paint a very full picture of people engaged in DIY in many parts of the world. The bulk of it contains well-written reviews, including one of our own Razorcake. Kinda funny when reviews get a little cyclical like that, right? The only thing I didn’t care for was the front and back cover design. Had I passed this zine in a cafe or bookshop, I’d likely overlooked it because it features a fox in a fez playing a clarinet. Far as I can tell, this is just one guy putting all this together, which is pretty impressive. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would be interested in seeing the first two issues as well. –Kayla Greet (headwindszine@gmail.com)

ICH WILL NIX ALTER WERDEN, $5, 5½” x 8½”, screen printed cover, 28 pgs.
This is a fictional story based on events from real life, so I suppose a way to categorize that would be realistic fiction. Written by Arielle Bungdorf, the story is told through a series of letters that one character is writing to her lover. It follows two teenage girls in 1979 who are involved in a relationship, though the Berlin Wall separates them. Peppered throughout are factual, historical accounts of life in Germany during the Cold War, as well as black and white photos from the time period. Anni tells her lover Micki that she no longer likes The Beatles and that punk is the new god. She dyes her hair turquoise and makes mix tapes featuring the Ramones and German punk bands for her partner trapped on the other side of the wall. Eventually, Anni reveals that she never sends these letters, as they would be intercepted by the Stasi and might just put them both in danger. I won’t spoil the ending for you, though it is heartbreaking. A well-written and beautifully laid out zine that I definitely recommend checking out. –Kayla Greet (a.charamoy@gmail.com)

JOHN CAGE: BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS ABOUT THE AMERICAN COMPOSER, $1, 8½” x 11”, copied, 24 pgs.
Spiritually more akin to a pamphlet than a proper zine, this is, as advertised, 161 factoids represented as pertaining to avant-garde composer John Cage. Said factoids were typed up in 12-point Times New Roman and printed out, then apparently cut out and individually rubber-cemented on the page, without conceit of graphics, illustrations, or embellishments of any kind. These “facts,” if you will, range from the factual (“He pioneered a new conception of music based on the use of chance and other nonintentional methods.” “For work, he once washed walls at a Brooklyn YMCA.”) to the yeah-I’m-pretty-sure-that-wasn’t-him (“He has a cameo in every Marvel movie.” “His song ‘Born to Run’ is written as a love letter to a girl named Wendy.”) to what appear to be random lines taken from mysterious short stories (“He watched his wife chisel white chocolate into a bowl. It looked like glaciers.” “He made his way by slow movements, nudgings of growth, like his own plants and flowers.”) to straight-up tongue-in-cheek buffoonery (“He is a species of ground beetle in the subfamily Orthogoniinae.” “He is a species of flowering plant found only on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines”). As pointless as this all sounds, this unusual work holds up disturbingly well with repeated readings, and I am using it, I Ching style, as the basis of my spiritual hygiene from this point forward. –Rev. Nørb (raincloudzine@gmail.com)

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL #430, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 96 pgs.
Sigh. By the time you read this, Maximum has come to an end. You know how it works: columns, reviews, interviews. Really wild to recently come back to this one after years away and see a loosening of the arch-ideologies that scared me away for a while: new diversity of coverage. There was no way, during the Tim nineties, a more freeform/organic band like Come Holy Spirit would have gotten coverage. I’m sad to see it go. –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146)

MINOR LEAGUES #7, £6, 9” x 8”, printed, 114 pgs.
On the English side of the Welsh border sits a county called Shropshire. Minor Leagues is a personal work of a father’s cancer diagnosis, living in Shropshire, and the memories of living in a small village. It is beautifully written with anecdotes, drawings, and a little bit of history of the area thrown in. This thick zine is a touching, running memoir-of-sorts from one person working through their grief of their father’s death twenty years later. –Tricia Ramos (Minor leagues, smoo.bigcartel.com)

MINOR LEAGUES #7, $7?, 9” x 10”, copied, 114 pgs.
This is a continuation of the long form “Where?” which began in issue #6. In this installment, Simon continues to solidify the link between geography and family, linking his dad’s untimely demise to the Shropshire region of England. A mix of prose and drawn art throughout—it doesn’t feel quite right to say this is a comic; if anything, it’s a graphic novel. I feel redundant when I review Simon’s stuff here because it’s hard to come up with new ways to explain how consistently thoughtful and dazzling each new issue is. Seriously, if you’re not checking this one out yet, you need to be. –Michael T. Fournier (smoo.bigcartel.net)

PUNKS AROUND VOL. 3: THE STORY OF MINOT NORTH DAKOTA PUNK 1989-2000, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, printed, 31 pgs.
Minot, N.D. is a small, remote Midwestern city most well known for its Air Force base. This is the first of a two-part history of the development of their punk scene. Fueled by isolation, a small group of creatives banded together to create a community focused on fostering happiness rather than fashion, lifestyle politics, and virtue signaling; all of which are far too prevalent in the scenes of any major city. “When you’re isolated, you turn inward—a perfect catalyst for the creative side of people.” Chronicling the struggles of maintaining a DIY venue space and combating alcoholism, this history details how the punks of Minot, N.D. built a largely straight edge, progressive community centered around acceptance and friendliness. –Lorien Lamarr (Microcosm Publishing, microcosm.pub)

SLINGSHOT #128, free, 11” x 14”, newsprint, 20 pgs.
There’s some comfort in checking out the new issue of this long-running anarchist paper at the same time that Maximum is going under—these cats have been at it for years, and are still going strong. Tons of well-written articles throughout: resisting climate change, Brazil’s recent swing to the right, white fragility, and— just in time for gardening season—composting and human poop. –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703)

subTERRAIN #81, $7, 10” x 12”, printed, 80 pgs.
subTerrain is Canada’s premiere literary magazine, featuring the best in “outlaw literature.” This issue features Lush Triumphant Literary Award winners in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as work from a few contest winners from the Vancouver International Writers Festival. The featured pieces in this issue all evoke emotions of struggle and burnout, of bleak childhood memories, and dystopian landscapes. subTerrain is always a treat to read, even if it is a bit of an emotional drain after you’re all done. –Tricia Ramos (subTerrain, PO Box 3008 Main Post Office, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3X5, Canada)

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Deb Frazin Photo Column—The Avengers

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On May 26, The Avengers were joined by The Alley Cats and The Dils at The Echoplex in L.A. for a very special show to celebrate the life of their longtime band member Jimmy Wilsey, and to raise money for Wilsey’s young son Waylon.

The celebration started off with the MC for the evening (Bruce Moreland) introducing friends of Jimmy’s, who came onstage and shared some touching personal stories about their friend. When everyone was finished speaking, The Alley Cats took the stage and played a powerful set. I noticed some new songs peppered throughout the set, and they sounded great. I dig The Alley Cats (they were the first punk band I ever saw in 1980), and I’m really looking forward to hearing the new album they’ve been working on.

Next up, The Dils hit the stage and just about blew the roof off of The Echoplex! I’d recently seen them at the Save Music in Chinatown benefit show, and they were fantastic, but the set they played this night was ABSOLUTELY BLISTERING! When you see The Dils, you get non-stop, high energy from Chip, Giuliano and Brian. I was standing on the stage and Giuliano was hitting his drums so hard my feet felt airborne with each slam. They played every song you’d want to hear (including “Sound of the Rain” and a rowdy cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”).

Finally, The Avengers hit the stage. I’ve been a huge fan of The Avengers since the beginning (I’ve always believed that their “Pink Album” was the greatest punk album ever recorded). I hadn’t seen them play in a few years, so I was super excited for this show. Of course, they did not disappoint. The band was tight! Hector Penalosa on bass, Greg Ingraham on guitar, Daniel James O’Brien on drums, and of course, my favorite female punk icon Penelope Houston on vocals. Unfortunately, Penelope was suffering with a bad cold that evening, so her vocals weren’t at 100%, but she still did a great job belting out all our favorites like “Car Crash,” “Money,” “The American in Me,” et cetera. It was a top-notch show all the way through, and it will probably take the #1 spot on my “Favorite Shows of 2019” list. A great evening for a great cause.

Four days later, Bruce Moreland and I both caught Penelope’s cold! But how could I be upset about it? It was an honor to catch her cold!

Deb Frazin: Instagram

I filmed The Avengers playing “Money” for your viewing pleasure—enjoy!

Anthony Mehlhaff Photo Column—The Manx

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I’ve seen plenty of bands over the past year but there is only one band that I’ve seen over ten times. And they just keep getting better and crazier and gooier every single time. I’m talking about the pus-punk, goo-core, Slug Boys from another dimension—Zach Zdziebko, Adam Barnes, Myke Chilian, Tommy Meehan and Max Winston—know as The Manx. There isn’t a punk band this strange and original on this planet or on any other, and I triple-dawg dare ya to try and find one. Go ahead. I quad-dogg dare ya!

I first saw this boy-buffet, splattered and mattered in mush and glop to a crowd of ten maybe twelve people at a DIY music and art space known as NPU (Non Plus Ultra).  I couldn’t believe no one was there. “How are these goo-dudes a secret?” I thought as the mix of slimed bodies, speed drums, and odd instrumental combos perforated my ear meat. Upright bass, electric banjo, electric mandolin and accordion stuck to my brain like a booger above a gas station urinal.

I immediately bonded with the boys and in a couple of shows I was taking part in their pre-show goo ritual which involves being aggressively spat upon with polychromatic fluids before marching back into the venue and losing all your shit at once. The best part is you have the physical marks to remind you of the show and they are not easily removed. The stains of the goo only last for a few days, but the memories of the show will never fade.

This one is from an on-going series of shots all taken after the boys completed a show and we make a photo in the turd house. I love this picture because it captures all of the boys’ varying personalities in one single image. It’s almost as if they are a mixed-up set of super weirdos. This picture was taken after their first of four residency shows at The Hi Hat and this one was an especially slimy and utterly fantastic performance. Spirits were high, bladders were full.

From their unique sound, insane stage presence and performance, to their self-funded albums, music videos, and merch, nothing about these mucus men is habitual.

The Manx are about to release their newest full-length musical secretion, Malibu Slime, out July 14 everywhere. But for those who really like to party, The Manx has teamed up with the gods of found footage and The Wizards of Odd, Everything Is Terrible, for the Malibu Slime release party, featuring video segments, puppets, and all types of weird.

If ya dare, come out and see how ya fare. It should be a real cute night.

www.anthonymehlhaff.myportfolio.com

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Featured Books Reviews Razorcake 110–Black Card, Nothing Nice to Say: Complete Discography, Egg Cream

Illustration by Danny Rust

Black Card
By Chris Terry, 272 pgs.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting another title from Chris Terry since I first read his debut novel Zero Fade a while back and Black Card has not disappointed. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, and the way the chapters were structured really kept me engaged. It almost felt mysterious, like our own pasts can seem when we try to figure out what role we played in our history. While not a children’s book by any stretch, it does feel like its own coming of age story. Humans tend to bloom on their own timeline, especially those who carry imaginary friends into their twenties and belong to a subculture that celebrates never growing up.

That’s right, the main character is punk, so if you’re reading this, odds are you’ll relate to the narrator. At its core, Black Card is about race in this country and its unwritten rulebook we are all pressured to conform to. This is the story of one punk’s struggle to create himself in a world that seems hell-bent on drawing its own conclusions.

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What gives Terry a vantage point of interest is his ability to see an object from different sides of America’s ever-present invisible wall and use this perspective to show us just how fragile the concept of identity is while reminding us how very real its effects can be for our physical health, our mental health, and our very freedom. From getting too drunk before you play, to dealing with people’s preconceptions, the backdrops he creates feel familiar without being cliché, making for a novel based in the punk rock stratosphere without any cringe-worthy moments. I’m already excited to see what’s next. Definitely recommended. –Rene Navarro (Catapult, catapult.co)

 

Dog Between Us, A
By Duncan B. Barlow, 244 pgs.

I knew of Duncan B. Barlow for years before any of his work came into my purview: dude has a resume. He was a member of a bunch of influential Louisville bands, like Endpoint and By The Grace of God. I remember reading his punk rock exit interview in Punk Planet after he was sucker punched at a show by the singer of a hardcore band (look this up if you don’t know it already—shit is nuts). Barlow is also a writer. A few years back I got my hands on his novel The City, Awake and was impressed by the way he crafted bizarro time-looping noir pulp with a straightforward delivery.

A Dog Between Us is much more straightforward, but no less impactful. Throughout, the narrator is haunted by the demise and death of his father. Barlow is deft at depicting the way time slows in the brink of a loved one’s passing; the haze through which one walks daily to complete even the most mundane tasks.

This haze extends over his relationship. While A Dog Between Us isn’t as gleefully convention-bending as The City, Awake, it does share some tricks, including a broken chronology. As Barlow’s narrator Crag goes off into reverie, we’re brought along to the past, to the way that the slightest detail can springboard back someone who’s suffered a recent loss: to a week ago at the hospital, months ago, years. It’s tough to be aware of these shifts away from the present through the fog of grief, something that Barlow expertly depicts. As the story unfolds, we begin to learn that these depictions serve a narrative purpose greater than simply portraying what grieving is. Crag misses signs that are literally taped up for him to see, and must deal with the consequences of stacking losses.

A Dog Between Us wrenches beauty from tragedy. Add another one to Duncan B. Barlow’s resume. –Michael T. Fournier (Stalking Horse Press, stalkinghorsepress.com)

 

Egg Cream #1
By Liz Suburbia

If you haven’t read Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia, you may want to stop reading this review right now and go pick it up. For those who have read it, or are just curious, read on.

Egg Cream’s main story takes place ten years after Sacred Heart ends. It’s told from the perspective of a TV special documenting the events that took place in the commune of Sacred Heart, where a bunch of kids were left parentless to run wild in a lawless town. Through interviews and archival footage, we find out what happened to some of the kids after the flood.

If Liz Suburbia continues to tell these kids tales, that would be great. But if they don’t, this follow up is a satisfying ending to Sacred Heart. It explains how the kids got there and how they were able to stay alive (most of them anyway). The narrative flows well and Suburbia’s ability to make your jaw drop with one panel is, well, jaw-dropping. Their signature black and white artwork is fantastic, and the “commercials” thrown in are entertaining. The second half of Egg Cream is titled “What a Dog Dreams,” which is a collection of illustrations and comics about Suburbia’s dreams. Some are tragic while others are superbly weird and funny.

And if I didn’t sell it enough, the paper used is like paper in a coloring book. You can color this comic if you are some sort of insane person. –Rick V. (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.com)

 

Is This How You See Me?
By Jaime Hernandez, 90 pgs.

Jaime Hernandez and his brothers have been releasing the comic Love and Rockets since the early ’80s. Jaime’s Locas stories focus on the punks and alts living in Hoppers, a fictional town south of Los Angeles. His main protagonists are Maggie and Hopey, two Chicana women who age along with the author. They started off as teenagers and now they are in their late forties. Their friendship gets rocky throughout the series and it continues in this story.

Is This How You See Me? finds Maggie and Hopey going back to Hoppers for a punk reunion show. While there, we see how a lot of characters and the town have aged. Throughout the book, we get flashbacks to the beginning of their friendship back in the early ’80s. The duo still finds themselves wandering the streets of Hoppers at 3AM, running into trouble just as they did thirty years before.

This book flows better than Hernandez’s earlier Locas stories. And, of course, the artwork is solid. The panels pop with his signature pulp style mixed with the occasional very cartoonish facial expressions. This book proves that you’re really never too old to jump in the pit. But also, what are you proving by doing so? –Rick V. (Fantagraphics Books, fantagraphics.com)

 

No Apocalypse
By Al Burian, 192 pgs.

I love Al Burian. He is hands-down my favorite living author today, and certainly one of my favorite authors of all time. His take on punk culture is laced with existential despair and matter-of-fact commentary. This is all done in a dry manner, but which often comes across as hilarious.

Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I loved No Apocalypse. The book is comprised of his columns from Punk Planet, HeartattaCk, and the Skeleton. I read some of these writings in Punk Planet, but it’s been a long time since then, and it was refreshing to come across them again. The Punk Planet columns take up the predominant amount of space in the book.

Burian’s writing is, for the most part, consistent in its take on what it’s like to be a slacker in the late ’90s and early ’00s. There are a lot words spent not just on music and Burian’s adventures, but also on President George W. Bush, who was in office during the time when many of these pieces were written. In hindsight, it’s almost comical how we thought Bush was the worst President ever, although all things considered, at least Donald Trump hasn’t sent thousands of soldiers overseas to kill thousands of people unconnected to terrorism, all based on a lie. Still, the similarities of how bad politics can get is appropriate for our current state of affairs.

What gets me most about No Apocalypse is how insightful it is. His comments on how it can feel strangely freeing when one loses their parents are something about which I hadn’t given any thought yet makes sense. He also has his tales of riding the Greyhound, a line of his writing of which I never tire. His looks at this particular slice of Americana who ride the ’hound makes me smile and laugh. Burian’s literary flair comes out most striking in these situations. He keeps the reader on edge wondering if an oddly paired couple will make it back to the bus in time from their rest stop. It seems strange, but I was fully engaged.

Al Burian is a slacker, a very unsympathetic antihero, and in some ways, a loser. He can’t seem to get beyond being his own worst enemy at times (as shown with his experience putting his foot in his mouth in court). Yet he somehow writes in such a way as to counter those detrimental qualities to make himself easily relatable and one of punk’s most talented literary figures of the past few decades. –Kurt Morris (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)

 

Nothing Nice to Say: Complete Discography
By Mitch Clem, 240 pgs.

Razorcake readers may know Mitch Clem as an illustrator and former comic contributor to the magazine. Back in 2002, he doodled up a webcomic focusing on jokes in the realm of punk called Nothing Nice to Say. It mostly revolved around the main characters Blake and Fletcher poking fun at the music and culture they surrounded themselves with. The comic went off and on for ten plus years and now every single comic is in one big fat collection.

A good chunk of the comics are three-panel gag strips but Clem later moved onto full-page strips with some continuity and connecting storylines. Throughout the years he would introduce new characters such as an emo kid named Phillip, goth duo Alice and Karen, and a bear named Cecil. All the comics still make jokes about bands and punk-related things. He would occasionally throw in a reference to mainstream comics that some hardcore nerds will appreciate.

Mitch’s style may remind people of Archie Comics, except more animated. As you would expect, you see the drawing get better through the years. Mitch takes the time to draw impressively detailed backgrounds where it may not be necessary, but it really shows off his skill as an artist and not just a funny-man cartoonist. And these are laugh-out-loud funny. Maybe avoid reading it in the library or a public bathroom. As mentioned before, you are reading this in Razorcake, so you will most likely get the humor in this collection. You are the target audience.

At page 197 the collection switches gears and becomes the complete Coffee Achievers collection. It’s a story about coffee shops, gargoyles, magic, and mix tapes drawn by Joe Dunn and written by Mitch Clem. Most of the main cast of Nothing Nice to Say appear in this story and you might be thrown back by the way Dunn draws them. But overall, the story is good and you will wish there was more of the Coffee Achievers.

At twenty-five dollars, some folks maybe are hesitant to buy this collection. But it’s beautifully bound, sturdy, and can hold up on the coffee table or toilet tank in any old fifteen-roommate household. –Rick V. (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.com)

 

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
By adrienne maree brown, 464 pgs.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

radical (adj.)

… from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots”… Meaning “going to the origin, essential.”

Different roots serve as political starting points for entering The Struggle. For some, the starting point is education. For some, it’s ensuring that the poor have access to credit. For adrienne maree brown, it’s pleasure. Second-wave feminists said, “The personal is political”; however one interprets that (and there’s no consensus on how to interpret it), Pleasure Activism furthers the conversation.

The book is “written and gathered” by brown. In addition to essays by brown, it also features interviews by and conversations with brown, as well as essays by other people, mostly women of color, mostly sexually marginalized. The book’s theme (roughly) is finding pleasure despite trauma. You can’t be whole without pleasure and you can’t go out and truly rip it up unless you’re whole (insofar as anyone is).

Not every chapter is for everyone—I should have listened to Beyoncé’s Lemonade by now, but haven’t, and so skimmed the chapters about it—but the book is so varied that if you keep it around after reading the chapters that currently interest you, other chapters will likely interest you in a year or two (sort of like a music guide—The Wire Primers leaps to mind).

Pleasure Activism, I have to say, is dotted throughout with Oh, Christseriously? moments. One of the book’s blurbs is from an “anti-oppression consultant”—which I suppose isn’t necessarily a hustle. brown claims to have been bitten by a vampire (leaving unaddressed whether she’s a vampire currently). One of her interview subjects talks about the pleasure she gets from her “anti-Zionist home bubbly water machine,” whatever in the earthly motherfuck that is.

I requested the reviewer’s copy after reading online somewhere this line from the back cover summary: “How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience?” I thought the book was about how to attract people to activism—mainly it’s not, though brown does discuss this in her conversation with Dallas Goldtooth, a Standing Rock activist. The conversation concerns how to bring a certain amount of spirit-supporting fun to activism while still comporting yourself in such a way that people in power, and people who don’t know what to think about your movement, still take you seriously. If you’ve wrestled with that, he has thoughts for you. –Jim Woster (AK Press, akpress.org)


Revolutionary Threads: Rastafari, Social Justice, and Cooperative Economics

By Bobby Sullivan, 224 pgs.

Bobby Sullivan is likely known to Razorcake readers—he’s the singer of DC’s Soul Side. Beyond this, he’s a practicing Rastafarian and social activist. It’s fascinating to see how he weaves the threads of his life together in Revolutionary Threads.

Sullivan uses his lyrics as chapter headings throughout. The first section provides a quick discussion of the origin of Rastafari. From there, Sullivan provides historical incidents which spin off of alternate takes on contemporary history. He meticulously sources his work throughout, whether providing a Howard Zinn-like take on the settlement of America by Africans predating Columbus, or in discussing political prisoners like Marilyn Buck.

It’s fascinating to read how Sullivan practices his faith: in addition to writing this book, he does work with prisoners with cooperative grocer groups. Since Rasta is deeply anti-colonialism, Sullivan’s immersion in the punk activism of Washington DC informs his faith, and vice-versa. By all metrics, the work Sullivan does is punk—and it serves his own spiritual needs as well as the community. I had never made this connection with Rastafarianism prior to reading.

Each chapter herein works as a standalone, but comes together to form a greater whole which serves to illuminate Sullivan’s faith and the very understandable ways that his work does good and challenges outdated colonialist conventions. Revolutionary Threads is an engaging, lively, well-thought book which provides a picture of Rastafarianism in action, for punks and beyond. –Michael T. Fournier (Akashic, akashicbooks.com)

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Deb Frazin Photo Column – The Dogs

(click for full size)

The Dogs was formed in 1969 by Detroit legends Loren Molinare (guitar) and Mary Kay (bass). They played many shows throughout the years with other Detroit bands such as MC5, The Stooges, and The Rationals. Fifty years later, and their records still hold up against the test of time. Not only that, but their live shows KICK ASS. If you’re not familiar with The Detroit Dogs, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of their compilation album Fed Up, fasten your seatbelt, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby, because the music coming out of the speakers will be so blazing-hot, it might set the room on fire.

If you ever get a chance to see The Dogs play live, do not make the mistake of missing them! In the meantime, I recorded a video of the show for you to check out. Enjoy!

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Lorien Lamarr Photo Column—Abertooth Lincoln

(click for full size)

Will and I had a few gaps in our coverage schedule for Pouzza, so on the train to Montreal I listened to each band in the available time slot. That is how I found Abertooth Lincoln. After the first song on their bandcamp I knew we had to cover them.

The art “Average White Boy” asks loudly “What’s supreme about you?” and displays a bland carbon copy mannequin in a MAGA hat. Abertooth Lincoln’s sound is somewhere in between progressive punk and grindcore but with a synthesizer. It’s complicated, interesting and aggressive. When I heard a voice that sounded like me scream: “This is the world that you’ve inspired, crosses of fire and walls on every side. Go ahead and put a roof on that shit and suffocate inside. Choke on the ashes of white pride.” I was sold.

I was already excited to see antifascist anti-white supremacist screaming, so when the band got on stage and looked like Seven of Nine from Stark Trek with their backing band as most of the cast of “Reno 911!”, I knew I had underestimated them, despite having high expectations to begin with. The costumes come from their video for Space Force, a more lighthearted, fun, and even silly song than my introduction. The range of this band is remarkable. They also made a video game! This was my favorite discovery of Pouzza 9.

Aretesophist.com
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Practically Imperfect in Every Way by Jamie L. Rotante

One Punk’s Look at Social Anxiety, Neuroticism and Other Fun Stuff

(illustration by Laura Collins)


Confidence is an elusive mistress. She courts me with her feminine wiles, her perfectly catted eyes that hide behind heart-shaped sunglasses and full, redder-than-red lips. She wears her dark hair in victory rolls that sit high atop her head as she lifts her chin up and walks through doors with assuredness that makes men cringe.

She is me in my fantasies.

In reality, my eyeliner looks like I’m a Black Swan reject and my lips are forever feathering, as I burn my fingers on my curling iron while my “rolls” split and fall. I’ve misplaced my heart-shaped sunglasses to parts unknown and I’m constantly in a rush, so I shrug and accept it as “good enough” before slumping my way out the door and always making sure other people enter doorways before me.

Confidence is my fantasy.

But confidence is more than just appearances and badass makeup. It’s partially about how you present yourself to the world, but it’s also about how you think of the world and your place within it.

As previously stated, confidence is my fantasy.

I don’t think I can remember the last time I felt 100% sure about something I’ve done. Confidence is a fleeting feeling for me—my moments of triumph are often blocked by moments of total doubt and self-consciousness. Praise always makes me feel sheepish—when I’m congratulated on a job well done, all I can focus on are the ways in which I don’t deserve the praise and what I could instead be doing better. In terms of the “larger picture,” I’m constantly questioning about my place in the world; my inner voice is loud and full of commentary on society and how I can change it, but I find it hard to verbalize those thoughts in a way that will get others to listen. When I do talk, I feel that others aren’t interested in what I have to say and that I’m instead rambling on like a damn fool for no reason.


Confidence is only unattainable because I keep blocking myself from attaining it.

Unfortunately, I am not alone in this. It has been proven that women have lower self-esteem on average than men, and often disregard or downplay any hard work they’ve done to achieve their goals. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book Womenomics, have noticed that, after talking with multiple highly successful women in America, that most women regard their success as luck or some other attribute beyond their reach. In an article published a few years ago in The Atlantic, the two women also noted there is a vast confidence gap which separates the sexes and that “compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.”

So not only am I totally devoid of confidence, I’m also completely unoriginal in feeling that way. In all of the ways I wish to have camaraderie with my fellow women, this is not one of them. Another reason for women’s lack of confidence in our abilities comes from our apparent need to be perfect. Shipman and Kay state that “underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect.”


Perfectionism is the ultimate confidence cancer. Nobody’s perfect—even Mary Poppins. “Practically perfect in every way” my ass—you know, practically perfect because she acts as stand-in mother for the terrible, terrible woman who’s being such a shitty parent because she’s too preoccupied with fighting for women’s rights. Or how Ms. Poppins forced children to believe they were liars instead of allowing them to freely expand on the limitless possibilities of their imaginations. She had a pretty bitchin’ pair of purple shoes, though.

Maybe cultural and pop cultural cues constantly reinforce this need for maternal perfectionism as the ultimate goal, leaving us non-mothers to feel as if we only truly have one end goal in our collective lives, causing one existential crisis after another. Maybe this lack of confidence stems from a more scientific place. Much research has been done to explain why there is this notable gap in self-esteem between men and women and there is even scientific evidence provided in that very same article from The Atlantic. MRI studies have shown that women tend to activate their amygdala—the brain’s “fear center”—more easily in response to negative emotional stimuli than men do, suggesting that women are more likely than men to form strong emotional memories of negative events (those social media trigger warnings aren’t something to fuck with). Basically, women will constantly think back on negative events of the past more than men. I, as I have already mentioned, try not to talk on behalf of all women but goddamn if that isn’t true.

But what does all this science mumbo jumbo prove? That I’m predisposed to worry myself into a tizzy over every little move I make or word I utter until I render myself mute and motionless out of fear of making a mistake or overstepping my boundaries? That only weirdo, blind-to-the-world’s-pressures, robotic alpha-females can conquer this fear of confidence until they become feminist icons and I’m just not meant to be one of them? Is it that what I really fear is confidence itself and, in turn, confident, outspoken women? Or have I just fetishized it/them to a point that it’s a weird, masturbatory fantasy that achieving it wouldn’t make it as fun to ruminate over?

Am I overthinking all of this? Is that what I’m just supposed to do because I’m a woman?

Here’s something I am confident in: my inability to answer everything. I’m also confident in my stubbornness and unwillingness to accept that I’ll never have the gait of a women who knows what she wants and where she’s headed, who doesn’t stumble over her own words or start to cry when she’s overly passionate about something. I’m confident that fantasizing about my future self as a self-assured woman is a source of temporary happiness for me on a daily basis, and a goal I still look forward to attaining.

I’m at least 70% confident that I’ll be 100% confident someday.

Deb Frazin Photo Column – Steven McDonald

Deb Frazin Photo Column - Steven McDonald

(click for full image)

Keith Morris was kind enough to hook me up with a photo pass at the last minute for this show, and I was extremely grateful, because Steven McDonald was on fire that night! He’s always been one of my favorite musicians to photograph onstage because he’s so animated!  It had been quite a while since they’d played their last show, and they put on a very tight set that night. Off! Doesn’t play very often, so it’s always a good idea to catch them whenever the opportunity arises. They never disappoint!

debfrazinphotography