Zine Reviews

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #409, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, copied, 111 pgs.

Is there a West Coast punk whose life remains untouched by MRR? Well, there probably are some these days; the chain bookstore in which my high school punk crew would sit and read through entire issues isn’t even in business anymore. But anyway, it’s MRR; you pretty much know what you’re gonna get. This issue is actually pretty stacked, at least as far as my personal interests go. Several fest features, including an interview about Break Free, a POC punk fest in Philadelphia that looks fucking awesome, as well as photo spreads of Oklahoma City’s Everything Is Not OK and D.C.’s Damaged City Fest. There’s also a rad—and dangerously daydream-inducing—oral history of Thrillhouse Records, which recently celebrated its unlikely ten-year anniversary. Also some cool columns, including one about the radical potential of Latin language education. Part of me wants to review their review of the last Razorcake in hopes that someone will review my review of that review in the next issue, but it’s never gonna happen. –Indiana Laub (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760)

NOT LIKE YOU #7, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 38 pgs.

Killer! Another issue of Not Like You. As I’ve said in the past, this zine encapsulates the things I love most in life, namely punk rock and skateboarding. This issue features a lot of the same: interviews with skaters and bands, record reviews, random anecdotes, and lots of great photos. The highlight for me was the interview with Dean from Blue Tile Lounge in Vegas. He talks about putting on the Skate Rock Reunion back in 2014 (which to this day is the best show I have ever been to!) and the Stern brothers attempting to heavy him (shocking) for having the show on the same weekend as Punk Rock Bowling. All in all, I always look forward to reading this, and it is settling to know that there are other people just like me out there! –Ty Stranglehold (Not Like You Zine, 102 Richmond Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106)

PUNK ROCK PHOTO ZINE, $?, 3” x 4”, copied, 6 pgs.

A handful of photos from live punk shows is what’s included in this photography zine. The lighting and shot choices are really well done. In particular, one shot of The Misfits has shadows and highlights cast in all the right places to make one great photo. The author and photographer has an Instagram as well, if you would like to check out more of their art. –Tricia Ramos (Punk Rock Photo Zine, @bisstek, beesone71@gmail.com)

SCENE & HERD #8, copied, 3” x 4”, 6 pgs.

A small motivational comic, it starts off with questions of self- worth and mental health and ends by helping the reader by reminding them that they are capable and can make it through (whatever issue you’re dealing with). A nice, small reminder that we are not alone in the darkness and that there is hope out there. –Tricia Ramos (Scene & Herd, brantzwoolsey.tumblr.com)

SLINGSHOT #124, $1, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 12pgs.

Always a breath of fresh air in a polluted and toxic world, Slingshot brings it with a super topical issue. An article called “Less Resist, More Exist” challenges “The Resistance” to strive for more than simply fighting the administration and fascists in the streets, encouraging focus on building the communities that we’re actually fighting for. The Right has been organizing on “division and polarization,” so Jesse D.’s article insists we “stop playing into this game by unwittingly escalating false divisions, and try to focus on unity, listening, healing, and solidarity…. If solidarity has any meaning… it doesn’t just mean solidarity with a tiny politically air-tight clique eager to give the middle finger to everyone who hasn’t learned our code language.” A perfect companion article, “I Was a Fascist,” has a former Nazi explain the valid alienation, anger, and oppression he felt and how it was manipulated by racist peckerwoods, leading him down a dark and ignorant path. He has suggestions for how the Left can reach people before being indoctrinated by human turds like Tom Metzger. The issue rounds out with stuff on fighting the Black Snake of oil and practicing communalism. Slingshot represents the way revolutionaries should be but rarely are. It avoids the lofty academic style of mags like Fifth Estate, and welcomes voices who have something to say, regardless of their skill and experience writing. Their layout is always cut and paste with crude illustration, giving off a charming and warm feel. –Craven Rock (Slingshot, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703, slingshot@tao.ca)

SLINGSHOT #124, free, 8 ½” x 11”, newsprint, 12 pgs.

I never knew that the Slingshot pocket organizer people had a publication, but they do, and it’s a foldout newsprint reader with thoughtful lefty content and a few practical resources, like news on what info shops have opened or closed since that last planner got printed. The summer issue had a couple jargony reads like “Active Autonomous,” a manifesto-ish call for “a new world view,” that I was too much of a lumpen to process. I can tell you that it involved communes. My favorite two reads were Jane’s article about rape culture (“Disturbance in a Safe Space”) and Michael Frank’s piece about discovering that the white power movement and enlistment in the armed forces were not for him (“I Was a Fascist”). From Jane’s piece, I learned some sad but enlightening statistics about survivors of sexual violence and how a lot of people, rather than supporting victims, ignore or shame them. It’s not a purely depressing read—the author ties in a personal anecdote about (a) teaching folks ways of being more receptive to victims and (b) how-to guide for those who don’t know how to help. As it is, “communities are full of people,” she writes, “not robots,” and you have to meet people where they are and educate accordingly. Frank’s piece has a pretty cool sense of compassion, too, in that he recalls what factors cultivated his racism—being bullied, needing someone to bully in turn—and how that led him to join the army and eventually discover that he was a late-blooming anarchist with a whole lot of love and readiness to leave the armed forces and get activisting. Enlightening reading, and free! –Jim Joyce (Slingshot Collective, PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703)

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING #74, 2 stamps or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 40 pgs.

This fanzine/perzine of sorts always features a thorough section on a band or genre of music. This issue is focused on the band and discography of The Violent Femmes. Starting off with a short piece on how they are one of the author’s top five favorite bands, the zine than goes over every album they’ve ever put out, including live DVDs. The later half of the zine is why I say it’s also a perzine, as the author has a birthday recap spread (covering what they did for their birthday), a spread on beverages they’ve recently tried and reviewed, and restaurants in their area that they’ve eaten at and suggest the reader tries as well. If you’re looking for a dense read, this is definitely one to sit down with. –Tricia Ramos (Something For Nothing, PO Box 226, Massillon, OH 44648)

SUBDUDE #1 & #2, $3, trade or $5 for both, 4 ¼” x 5 ½”, copied, 24 and 36 pgs.,

The author of this zine considers his general mental state to be subdued. His zine title comes from an unintentional homophone that happened as a result of his dyslexia. It’s a perfect title, accurately describing the writer and the tone of his zine: thoughtful, reflective, with a bit of melancholy, yet never navel-gazing to the point of alienating the reader. Issue #1 deals with the wishy-washiness of people when you ask them to do something and the, “Oh yeah, let’s meet up sometime” thing people will say and not really mean. I know when people say this they are often being polite, but aren’t really committal. The author makes a good case that it often has to do with the modern world and the constant bombardment of choices. He thinks people don’t really commit because it might be the less fun choice. We want to keep our options open as long as we can. He encourages more honesty in commitments and more contentment in sticking to the ones you made. Issue #2 is about how his grandmother got him a knockoff, cheapo, imitation Masters of the Universe toy, how it was always out of place and he never knew what to do with it. He then uses it as a metaphor for himself, how being gay made him feel like an outsider as a kid. There’s also stuff on getting over not-knowing-how/asking-for-help-shame to learn simple bike fixes. There’s some book and music lists to pad things out. Both these zines are short and I think they would work better combined into a single issue, allowing the reader a fuller look at who Mick is. Just an aesthetic preference, not a critique. Get both of them! –Craven Rock (Mick, 1901 E Sunset Dr., Bellingham, WA 98226, subdudezine@gmail.com)

SUBURBAN STRUGGLE: THE CAMPAIGN TO SUPRESS PUNK IN COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA, 1978-1981, $6, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 132 pgs.

One of the most interesting things I’ve ever gotten to review. A history of an early Orange County venue, Costa Mesa’s the Cuckoo’s Nest, as told entirely through police reports and public documents. Divided into chronological order, with an absolutely stunning cut and paste aesthetic, Suburban Struggle is a fascinating look at how punk was viewed by the “normal” populace. It reads as a pretty classic case of a venue’s demise: shows get put on, punks show up, have issues with the neighbors, concerns of property values and “children’s safety” arises, venue shuts down. Like I said, it’s all told through public records, though the editor does a fantastic job of parsing through them and providing a summation of each chapter. While some of the pages suffer from a little too much photocopy manipulation that makes them difficult to decipher, the vast majority of it is a visual wonder. It’s beautiful. It also placed me in a strange position: the editor posits that the Cuckoo’s Nest was essentially shut down via “state suppression,” i.e., cops, business owners, and city council eventually acting in tandem to get what they viewed as an unwelcome element out of their suburban enclave. That might even be true. Yet if even half of the public statements here are correct, punks at the Cuckoo’s Nest got their venue shut down mainly because they were shitheads. Cultural attitudes shift, I get that, but anyone who has ever helped sustain a venue knows: Don’t shit where you eat. For all of the state suppression that went on, there also seemed like a shit-ton of really young kids who were lighting cars on fire, breaking neighboring windows, kicking each other’s asses, getting drunk, and doing coke in the parking lot. I’m torn, which makes for a seriously fascinating read. –Keith Rosson (Suburban Struggle Zine, 3603 W. Washington Blvd., LA, CA 90018)

THESE BARS: AN ANTHOLOGY, $?, 8½” x 11”, printed, 57 pgs.

This anthology of poetry and art comes from students who attend College Bridge Academy Watts. Now on its sixth year, the collection features poetry, narratives, and art, all from students who in some way or another have experienced assault, racial profiling, have been in the foster care system, or have experienced gang violence or drug addiction in their community. The poems were touching and heartbreaking in some, uplifting through struggle and oppression in others, and all spoke through a voice much older than their years. I truly enjoyed reading through all their poems. Art can be a very important part of healing and I hope that this program continues on for many years. –Tricia Ramos (These Bars: An Anthology, bridgetarlene@gmail.com)