Featured Zine Reviews from Issue #91: Expect dirty dishes, bedbugs, house shows, and a really good time

May 09, 2016

WASTED OPPORTUNITIES#10, $?, 6” x 8 ¼”, glossy, 56 pgs.
At some point last summer, I must’ve fallen into a coma long enough to miss an Australian visitor named Justin, who came to Los Angeles and made his presence well known. All of a sudden, many of my friends were talking about Justin and talking about him as if he had arrived in a UFO or started a new, life-changing cult. While I missed out on a great opportunity to meet a now-legendary bloke, I did manage to snatch up one of his zines: Wasted Opportunities #9. It was great! Now here is another issue and, like the legend of Justin, it does not disappoint. There is a lengthy interview with Night Birds, who I consider to be the best band in America, and an article on the crossover between Star Trek and punk, two of Justin’s self-professed loves. I may never meet the man, the myth, the legend from down under, but I love the work he does in Wasted Opportunities. –Jon Mule (GPO Box 2712, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 4001)

ARTCORE #34, £6, 8½” x 11”, offset, 48 pgs.
This is part one of old school, U.K. zine Artcore’s thirtieth anniversary issue. It features a ton of interviews with Henry Rollins, Pillage, and Tau Cross among others. That’s mixed in with articles on NYC peace punk, Randy “Biscuit” Turner, and more, along with a slew of reviews and a free, green 7” split that ranges from the shout-along, political punk of Oi Polloi and the blazing crust of Grand Collapse. Artcore’s a thorough and dedicated zine. It’s cool to see them continuing to approach punk with a fiery political and critical eye. –Chris Terry (Artcorefanzine.bigcartel.com)

AS YOU WERE: A PUNK COMIX ANTHOLOGY #4, $10, 5½” x 8½”, offset, cardstock cover, 112 pgs.
As You Were
is a comics anthology featuring a who’s who of punk artists: Liz Prince, Brad Dwyer, Evan Wolff, Rick V, Ben Snakepit, Steve Larder, and many more. If you recognize and enjoy at least one of the artists just mentioned, then this is for you. Each contribution is short, to the point, and hilarious, especially the stories by Steve Thueson and Nomi Kane. (What an awful roommate!) The theme this time around is “Living Situations,” which is code for “Punk Houses.” As someone who has stayed at a handful of punk houses in the past, I can relate to the narratives shared. Expect dirty dishes, bedbugs, house shows, and a really good time. –Sean Arenas (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club, 1057 Valencia St., SF, CA 94110, silversprocket.net / Last Gasp, 777 Florida St.
SF, CA 94110, lastgasp.com)

DEEP FRIED #5, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 22 pgs.
“A satirical punk zine about fast food.” To be honest, I can’t tell if I liked or disliked this zine. It’s put together well, has interviews with bands about their favorite fast food places and stories, interesting facts about fast food in different countries, and features a scale of “cuties & creepazoids” that measures fast food mascots and their cuteness or creepiness levels. Truly a celebration of fast food, I can see how this would be appealing to the Burger Records/Pork Army kids, but all I could think about was the last time my band ate at a Jack In the Box on tour and we all got sick. A+ if you love greasy fast food! –Tricia Ramos (Deep Fried, 2901 Yosemite Ave. S.,MPLS, MN 55416, [email protected])

Distance Runner is a collection of photos and ruminations by Aaron Bedard and James Siboni of Bane. There is a somber tone to the narrative, even when relating epic karaoke singalongs to Biohazard or the lighthearted fun of friends on tour. A strong current of introspection can be found throughout—thoughts of tours past, choices made, and lives led. Above it all is the understanding that this is the last hurrah. The last tour of Japan. Another nail in the coffin of a band going over twenty years strong. One of the underlying themes that runs throughout Distance Runner is that all doors eventually close. What we are left with are images, photographs, and memories. The zine not only captures the bittersweet swan song of a great band, it also strives to capture an understanding of the Japanese culture: “There is a deep feeling of respect that blankets nearly everything here…. What lesson did [Japan] find in defeat that they could make an entire country bloom like that?” Bedard and Siboni do an admirable job distilling what, in their minds, is the essence of Japan. What develops is not just an examination of a moment in the life of a band, but an exploration of the powers of friendship and an examination of another culture. It’s a complex mix of themes and emotions, but I’d expect nothing less from one of the greatest lyricists in hardcore. –Paul J. Comeau ([email protected])

FASTCORE PHOTOS#4, $3.25, 4¼” x 5½”, glossy cover, printed pages, 51 pgs.
Will Butler, of To Live A Lie Records fame, returns with the latest issue of Fastcore Photos. If you were waiting more than a minute for this edition, you will not be disappointed. Butler is adept at capturing bands in the moment. There’s such immediacy to his shots that you almost feel like you are a member of the audience. With forty-eight different bands represented in these pages, there is a lot to see. Butler notes in the intro that most photos were taken at DIY venues in Raleigh, N.C.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Richmond, Va. Although the photos were shot on different days and at different venues, these black-and-white shots convey a unified feeling. The intensity of the bands translates very well in these images. All these images were great, but I felt missing was more of the story. I’d have loved to read a few words from Butler about each band—maybe a note about the show or the venue where each shot was taken—to add an extra layer of detail for the reader. Personal preferences aside, Fastcore Photos is a great zine, stuffed with some great bands. I’m looking forward to future issues. –Paul J. Comeau (To Live A Lie, [email protected])

HERE BE DRAGONS #10,$4, 8½” x 7”, offset, color cover, 44 pgs.
Listen, I’ll be honest. While there was certainly some part of me that enjoyed this for the pure nostalgia trip—I distroed early issues of HBD nigh on two decades ago—the rest of me was just unabashedly stoked to read a well-done, thoughtful, cleanly laid-out zine with real depth to it. As with their previous issues, this one’s a great return to the old motif of the personal being political. Interviews with a punk pizza place in Pittsburgh (!), artist Jen Gooch, a pair of folks who operate a vegan pierogi night, and a bevy of essays relating to aging, personal health à la the two-wheeled machine, hope, and more. It’s all earnest as hell, well-written, and very much centered on this notion of community, looking out for each other, personal accountability, and self-care. It was a little droll here and there—the Jen Gooch interview was really short and lacked depth—but damn, it is really terrific to see a new issue of this zine out in the world. –Keith Rosson (HBD c/o Mike Q. Roth, 4625 Torley St., Pittsburgh, PA 15224)
KER-BLOOM #117, $3, 4¼” x 5½”, letterpressed, 8 pgs.
The November-December 2015 issue of Artnoose’s lovely and life-affirming series is subtitled “It’s Just a Rash” and tells of her past scabies scare. What’s to say? It’s a good scabies story. It’s right up there with “hitchhiking woes,”“dumpster diving horror[s],” or “problems crossing the Canadian border.” Many times I’ve heard friends talk of “scabies’ tennis,” that punk house horror story of the itch being tossed back and forth between friends and partners since time immemorial. For years Artnoose dodged those scares but “It’s Just a Rash” locks in on a recent and singular episode that uses equal parts suspense, education, good parenting, and consistently beautiful materials (jade cardstock, ruby ink punched from a Vandercook Model 4 letterpress) to share with us the pre-winter scabies news from Berkeley. –Jim Joyce (etsy.com/shop/artnoose)

LAST NIGHT AT THE CASINO #10, $3, 4¼” x 5½”, copied, 48 pgs.
Billy McCall has written a slew of zines and ziney artifacts (a card game, trading cards of zine lifers, Proof I Exist), and for the last three years—I think—he’s been living in New Mexico dealing craps at a big ol’ casino. No big capers here (though there’s wild talk of workers getting fired for taking as little as seventeen cents from an ashtray), just Billy’s ability to winnow his job life down to a bright blend of entertainment and introspection that led me to finish the issue in one standing. Inside I read about that muddy casino romance, those police chases with former casino customers, them padlocked casino locker mysteries, and even some thoughts on how craps is perfect for assholes. Anyhow, as they say in Cincinnati—where I lost seventeen dollars in a game of Farkle—“Playin’ with dice sure feels nice.” Yes it does. Get your issue #10 today. –Jim Joyce (Antiquated Future, antiquatedfuture.com/artist/billy-da-bunny)
MESCAL, $3, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 30 pgs.
One zinester’s story about his friend Chad, a serious drug user who is really good at describing psychedelic experiences, and the narrator taking Chad’s mescaline with another buddy. As a beer-drinking lightweight, I enjoy hearing hallucinogenic fans describe their experiences; Mescal author Karl Noyes is good for this. Also there are collages; lovely, druggy, in-color collages. That includes a bottle of Colt 45 filled with water, a talking mushroom—“If you eat me you will die”—and lyrical descriptions of, well, a mescal landscape. This might be of particular interest to fans of Hunter Thompson or Denis Johnson and his junkie-thin book Jesus’ Son. And one more thought: speaking as a guy who has made some really, really unreadable zines, the layout here is kind of nuts. The text—small font cut in uneven strips—could not be any closer to the margins. It dares the reader to keep going, and I did. –Jim Joyce (Roosterhouse, 3052 Elliot Ave, Minneapolis, MN, 55407 roosterhouse.org)

MILKFIST #1, $15, 7 ½” x 10”, bound, offset, glossy print, 155 pgs.
This compendium walks the tightrope between zine and legitimate book. There’s an ISSN, but a strong zine—or literary magazine—tone. Issue one comes out swinging. Included in this high quality glossy zine  are eighteen short fictional stories, sixteen poems, and twenty-eight illustrations. The content in this hefty tome span the gamut of creativity. One particularly noteworthy effort is a fictional piece from Chuck Regan, which is like a much more creative Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” kind of thing that details an overt mission with agents who don’t totally understand each other’s positions. Then there’s the Australian piece “Marrickville 2204,” which is a chaotic hodge-podge of artists, drugs, music, and experience. I was really drawn to that one—it was like being on a punk adventure in Sydney. Hands down, my favorite thing in the whole zine was a review of a book called Miss Homicide Plays the Flute. In the way that sometimes (most times) the book is better than the movie, I would be one hundred percent blown away if the book was as deftly written as this review. In no way do I mean to discount the original writer (clearly, I haven’t read that book yet), but the level of literary mastery of this review blew my mind. It’s so incredibly scholastic, intelligent, and emotional—all while actually critiquing. Beyond all that, there are a ton of inspirational and intriguing graphics sprinkled throughout. The price point may be a turn off to some, but you are certainly getting your fifteen dollars’ worth. I’m looking forward to issue two of this professional, punk-leaning publication. It fucking rules. –Kayla Greet (milkfist.com)

NIGHT I WAS SAMMY HAGAR, THE: A BREAKING AWAY FROM THEHERD ZINE, $3.00, 5” x 8”, offset, full color, 22 pgs.
Gem of the month! This issue is the story of a night in the life of the hard-partyin’ author back in the eighties. He and his buddy hit the town, do lots of blow, and decide it’s a good idea to pretend he’s Sammy Hagar. He actually pulls it off and finds himself with an entourage of fifty or so people following him from bar to bar chanting “SAMMY! SAMMY!” I’m not going to give anything away, but things take a turn for the worse, allowing for an angry, butthurt cop, a kind-hearted ambulance chaser, and a pair of shat Zubaz to make their entrance. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and the dude’s writing style makes you feel like you’re sitting in some shitty dive hearing him tell it to ya. I know you probably hear that a lot, but I mean this in the most literal way. It’s as if someone said, “Tell the Sammy Hagar story,” and hit record. Another bonus is his buddy’s awesome collage layout in vibrant full color. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. I’ll be hittin’ ol’ boy up for back issues for sure. –Craven Rock (Roosterhouse, 3052 Elliot Ave., MPLS, MN, 55407, roosterhouse.org)

NOT LIKE YOU #5, 8½” x 11”, copied, 36 pgs.
This zine could be my life. Seriously, these pages contain the same inner workings of the last thirty of my forty-two years on this planet. Punk rock, skateboarding, more punk, more skating… Throw in some rad cover art (homage to Pushead), great photos, record reviews, and a “collector’s corner.” Yep, this feels like an old friend. Featured in this issue are a skate rock band called Stale Phish (Whom I really gotta check out. I thought I was the only one who had a song about Gator!), Warzone, legendary pro skater Bill Danforth, DOA, and the second part of an interview with Ian MacKaye. I don’t know the folks responsible for this, but I feel like I definitely have some kindred spirits out there. I will be contacting them for more issues. –Ty Stranglehold (Not Like You Zine, 102 Richmond Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106)

PAPER RADIO 15,$4, 8½” x 5½”, printed, 22 pgs.
DJ Frederick has been writing about shortwave radio culture for a number of issues and his love for this hobby—or lifestyle maybe—is contagious. I could read him talking about radio waves for pages, and I have. Paper Radio, or shortwave radio itself, is such a useful metaphor. It is the difference between the painfully-lame-stadium-rock-Spotify, spiritless-Coldplay world and the analog side of things. The human side comes with producing, pirate radio shows or zines that curate the stories of people who can celebrate music and broadcast art. They do so without losing the intimacy factor which makes it all worthwhile. So yeah, a zine about that. Issue fifteen is the latest, but grab any of them or check out Frederick’s other zine Turntable Operator for similarly good times. –Jim Joyce (Antiquated Future, antiquatedfuture.com/zines/paper-radio-15)

PORCHCORE #6, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 21 pgs.
Porchcore is many things. They put out T-shirts, stickers, buttons, 7”s, and yes, zines. I really enjoyed this read, having already been a fan of them from the music they put out (what’s up, Badlands!). Porchcore reads like you’re having a conversation with an old friend and catching up. In this issue, our author tells the origin story of the hilarious cover photo (a self portrait of the author wearing a “die yuppie scum” oversized shirt, fist raised, hair wild), what music they’ve been listening to lately, reviews of friends, their beliefs on whether being gay is or is not a choice, music that changed their (and their friend’s) lives, and wraps the zine up with their gym routine. My favorite part was a collage featuring pictures of their (I assume?) cat near the beginning. More cat photos please! –Tricia Ramos (Porchcore, porchcore.bigcartel.com)

SRVIV #3, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 60 pgs.
Srviv is a collaborative, anthology style zine. The collector, Jonas, gives their writers a prompt for each issue, and the contributors submit their pieces. In this particular issue, the prompt was, “What gets you out bed every morning?” Some of the writers took the prompt very literally, attributing their need to work, feed their pet, take their morning pee. Other writers took the chance to expand, explaining what emotionally and mentally pulls them to be able to start every day, or keep going every day. I really appreciated the writers who did this. Some mentioned memories of family members or breakups preventing them from getting up and out. Others described the challenges of knowing you have a job to do each and every day and how even if you wanted to stay in your warm, soft bed, you have things to do. So get to them! –Tricia Ramos (Srviv, PO Box 633, Chicago, IL 60690)

TAPEWÜRM #2, $5 or trade, 4¼” x 5½”, screen print cover, stapled, 56 pgs.
Issue number two of the best cassette zine has hit the streets. Located in Tokyo, writer and tape diehard Leif Lundgren (originally from the Bay Area) covers way more in this issue than in his first venture. Starting off, the black screen print on textured black paper is “metal” and dark as fuck. The images covering those covers are difficult to see unless you reflect light off the ink, but they are totally worthy of any powerviolence band T-shirt. In this issue Leif doesn’t stray from the format too much, though he does open it up to other contributors, as well as conduct many more interviews with both bands and labels that primarily release on cassette. After the zine’s intro and a piece on why preserving the tape format is important and in dire need of support, Leif launches into a list of Holy Grail tapes—his white whales, so to speak. There is a live show review (complete with photos), a list of labels and contact information, spotlights of record shops in Tokyo, and reviews of cassettes, which take up over half of the zine. He reviews forty tapes! Most of the bands reviewed are of the black metal, powerviolence, and grindcore persuasion, with a few softer genres thrown in, too. This is a passion project that is worthy of any music nerd, especially if you have a fondness for releases on cassette. –Kayla Greet ([email protected])

WORMHOLE, A #42, 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 12 pgs.
I can’t get behind this, not even in the “here’s what’s in it” sort of way. It’s just a total mess. It’s mostly reviews, but those reviews are usually just a word or two: “thrash metal,” “grind.” There’s no real theme. Some of the albums are about twenty years old and weren’t even relevant in their time, like Lillian Axe’s Poetic Justice (“glam-hair metalrock”). The words literally go up, down, and sideways. It’s held together with a staple in the corner. It’s half-stepping and sloppy. C’mon, man, get your poop in a group! –Craven Rock (No address listed)

XEROGRAPHY DEBT #38,$4, 8½” x 5½”, offset, 67 pgs.
Maybe you’re like me and you’ve seen Xerography Debtfor years and never read it. Or maybe you’ve been reading it all along and know it’s awesome. Aside from being a great space devoted to zine reviews, Xerography Debt has a series of short columns by longtime zinesters like Liz Mason, Davida Gypsy Breier, Joe Biel, Gianni Simone, and a slew of others. The result is this sweet and entertaining and—pardon my language—cozy publication that, as one dude called it, “is the glue of the zine community.” So, sure, there are lots of different glues to that end, but I had the best Saturday morning ever hanging out with a coffee and hearing from these folks about what they’ve been reading, some ‘80s anecdote about a mystery illustrator who went under deep-zine cover, and a slew of other stimulating minutiae. I’ll be making a point to buy the next issue. –Jim Joyce (Microcosm, microcosmpublishing.com)