Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake 104: Tattoo Punk, Earth First Journal, Musica Obscura, Paranoize, Picking Stuff Apart
TATTOO PUNK #1, $10, full color, 8½” x 11”, 40 pgs.
From the mastermind behind Nuts! fanzine and Rock’n’roll Forever comes Tattoo Punk. It’s a full color mag that’s loaded with interviews with tattoo artists and tons of pictures of tattoos and tattooed people. So much of it is hand done, which gives it a personal, journal-like feel. It just all makes punk, tattoos, and New York City look so goddamn fun. Pick it up and get inspired to live like a maniac. Get a crazy tattoo across your forehead and stagedive to a hardcore band! Rock’n’roll forever! –Daryl (Tattoo Punk c/o Nuts! Fanzine, PO Box 1959, NY, NY 10013)
ADULTING: HOW TO BE AN ADULTIER ADULT, $3, 4” x 5½”, 19 pgs.
Adulting is one of eighteen short self-help guides written by Dr. Faith G. Harper and published by Microcosm. At first sight, I thought, oh boy, Adulting, here comes some soft skill bullshit by one of my millennial peers—people like me who can make a GIF but can’t fill out a tax form. In reality, the author of Adulting, Faith G. Harper is super smart. She’s a doctor with loads of mental health degrees and experience, and the zine is more or less about being a responsible, uh, grown person. In her words, we’re Adulting “when we are our best and most mature selves in every situation.” Harper breaks up her advice into page-long sections. Her breezy delivery makes for easy reading. Adulting would be a nice graduation gift or a cool read for some young person who’s moving out of the house. –Jim Joyce (Microcosm, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)
COPING SKILLS: TOOLS TO FEEL BETTER WITHOUT FUCKING AROUND, $3, 4” x 5½”, 19 pgs.
Dr. Faith G. Harper has a slew of these lil’ self-help buddy zines. I’ve read three of them and they’re good. She avoids jargon and talks clearly about ways to, uh, deal with, in this case, stress and anxiety. Harper starts by noting some of the science behind stress. Our bodies release “the stress hormone cortisol” when we’re anxious, and cortisol helps in moderation, but the body won’t pump us that juicy full-cort juice long-term. Without it, our chronic stress leads to “exhaustion, body aches, weird skin discolorations” and other quiet miseries. Noooooo. And so, the rest of the zine is a collection of coping strategies that Harper has gathered from other smart people. Here’s a line I liked: “Treat yourself like you would your best friend.” That’s profound and easy to apply. Then again, I’m partial to stuff like this because I’m an anxious Jimbo. If you are, too, and you don’t have a therapist like me, maybe you can spend three dollars on this here zine. –Jim Joyce (Microcosm, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)
EARTH FIRST! JOURNAL, Vol. 37, No. 3, 8”x 10½”, newsprint, 72 pgs.
Don’t forget—lots and lots of hard work is being done all over the world to save the earth! Whether it’s big, ongoing actions against oil pipelines and defending old growth, to sharks being freed in Mexico by the Animal Liberation Front, this is the go-to source for this information. There’s an article on the Białowieża Forest action in Europe, in which, the writer, as an anarchist, is critical of liberal organizers’ failure to address politics or capitalism as inherent to the problem of logging. They would rather blame and vilify a certain politician, as if the problem weren’t larger and systematic. There’s a piece on the Matthole Forest Campaign to save old growth forest in Northern California. I’m partial to the interviews, like the one with Elise Gerhart at Camp White Pine, who’s set up a treesit to protect her own family’s home from a big oil pipeline. The best thing in here is the interview with Ruby and Jessica who sabotaged the DAPL and then took credit for it! Now that takes courage! –Craven Rock (Earth First! Journal, PO Box 964, Lake Worth, FL 33460)
HAPPY LONER, THE #7, $? 5½” x 8½”, copied, 14 pgs.
I hadn’t read The Happy Loner before, but it’s done by a Canadian woman named Izalixe, who writes in a free-flowing, diary manner. It’s a short issue but engaging. This issue is from early 2017 and Izalixe writes of the change from the shit-awful year that was 2016 and her hopes for 2017. She also describes trying to get around in Quebec in the winter using a taxi after throwing out her back. It’s actually much more interesting than I’m making it sound. The ink used in the photocopying process came off on my fingers, and not in that endearing, Maximum Rock’n’roll way. But otherwise this was a simple, quick read that I would’ve enjoyed reading more of. –Kurt Morris (Izalixe Straightheart, 30 rue Ste-Ursule #77, Quebec, QC G1R 4E3, Canada)
HAPPY LONER, THE #8, $3/$4, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 28 pgs.
This issue of The Happy Loner finds Izalixe having moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, from Quebec. Once again, this is a perzine format with content written from the middle part of 2017. Material includes Izalixe’s adventures in Vancouver, traveling to Seattle and Portland, and getting hired to work for VIA Rail. She takes a short trip to Squamish, BC, and explains all the things to do there and what she enjoys about this small, quaint city. Izalixe seems like a very free spirit, which can be fun to read about, but she often writes of people and situations in a way that causes the reader to feel outside the circle. I often had questions about this boyfriend of hers, some of her friends, et cetera. It didn’t take away from my overall interest in the zine, but it’s something to take note of when writing personal experiences. I think there’s a line that can be had between writing about one’s personal experiences and also making sure others feel included. Still, this issue has stronger writing and more diversity than the last one, so if you’re going to choose, I’d start here. –Kurt Morris (Izalixe Straightheart, PO Box 99101, Davie PO, Vancouver BC, V6G 1V0, Canada)
MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #416, $4.99, 8½” x 11½”, newsprint, 103 pgs.
This issue begins with a eulogy for Dead Moon’s Fred Cole. My favorite part of it—aside from author Erin Yanke’s point that “death is a part of the deal with being alive”—was the anecdote about Fred Cole working in music stores. Apparently, he had a habit of giving customers ridiculous credit when it came to buying instruments they probably couldn’t afford. The interview with comic artist Liz Prince is spiffy, too. When she’s not grinding out the good stuff for Razorcake, Liz puts out books like Be Your Backing Band. What could she do without? Dorks asking her how to get their unpracticed work published in a snap. One cannot just pick up a pencil and get a graphic novel deal with Scholastic in no time. As Prince says, “years of working on comics in obscurity” and “doing a bunch of different kinds of work” is way more important than hurrying art and chasing popularity. That’s not hating on DIY, that’s holding folks to trying it. We also hear from punks abroad: the band Kenny Kenny Oh Oh of Leipzig mention how the punk scene in Germany is behind U.S. in terms of being down with “gender and queerness” and racial diversity, while Zay of Yokkaichi, Japan say that their song “There Is No Future in Dreaming of the Past” is critical of punk band reunions. To them, it seems like old groups copy their past selves, which is sad. Are they saying they wouldn’t pay forty bucks to see Raygun play a bar in Wrigleyville? Maybe. Maybe not. “We just have to believe in what we can’t see,” singer Gori notes, as if to say, Move forward, sailor. Trust yourself to make good new shit, even when there’s no promise we’ll be celebrated for it. Another good’n! –Jim Joyce (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760, maximumrocknroll.com)
MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #418, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 104 pgs.
After having written for Razorcake for thirteen years and having read Maximum Rock’n’roll for over twenty years, I can’t help but wonder if there have been punks who seriously and ferociously debate which of these two fine publications is better. For me, they both cover a number of bands I’ve never heard of, and with music reviews that can be snarky. One of the big differences is with the columns. Those in MRR have always been more political, whereas Razorcake has Rhythm Chicken. Razorcake is bi-monthly, whereas MRR is somehow capable of putting out a zine every month. Also, one hundred percent newsprint vs. ninety-eight percent newsprint. These are some good starting points for any of you punks who want to debate this. Oh yeah, and this issue of Maximum Rock’n’roll has interviews with Martha, Snob, Mauradeur, Neo Neos, Senyawa, F.I.T.S., ISS, Eric Bifaro, Not On Tour, and more! There’s also all the other good stuff: columns, reviews, letters to the editor, et cetera. As always, worth picking up if you’re into bands you’ve likely never heard of and enjoy the smell of newsprint. –Kurt Morris (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146)
MIDLIFE CRISIS #1, $5, 8½” x 11”, copied, 32 pgs.
It’s nice, and sadly rare these days, to read a hardcore punk zine where the editor doesn’t see himself (and it’s always a male) as another blowhard Lester Bangs with fake attitude and flimsy knowledge. The editor, Daragh Hayes, keeps his writing honest; his enthusiasm and passion for all things hardcore punk is undeniable. He covers the new, as well as the old, with interviews from OAF and one with NoMeansNo from 1988, as well as a talk with Pete Genest from the Hits and Misses record store. There’s also a lengthy review on the doc She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column. There needs to be more zines like this. Please! –Matt Average (Daragh Hayes, 250 Pall Mall Street, Unit 601, London, ON, Canada, N6A 6K3, [email protected])
MUSICA OBSCURA, $6, 5½” x 8½”, printed zine with CD, 62 pgs.
This zine and CD two-piece collects Adel Souto’s favorite essays they wrote while being featured on the music website No Echo. The music featured on the CDs span from punk or offshoots of punk, disco hits by adult stars, lost Cambodian rock, and some painful screamo tracks. The essays themselves range from murders in darker genres, Hollywood and the adult industry, awful mixed music genres, Communist Cuba, breakfast cereal, cults, and heck of a lot of other things. Pretty interesting essays and a huge companion CD (with a link to downloadable MP3s if you don’t have a disc drive). –Tricia Ramos (Musica Obscura, adelsouto.com)
PARANOIZE #42, free, 5½” x 8½”, 16 pgs.
Bobby Bergeron—the baron from the city of Zapp chips and Fats Domino, the zinebobster nearest Nicholas Cage’s pyramid grave—brings us Paranoize #43, a brief New Orleans scene report. The bad news is Bobby recently had a burst appendix. The good news is he’s rocking back to proper zine-printing health. Back at it, Bobby brings us a list of local groups to check out and some brief record reviews. My favorite is for Bloodsick’s new release: “Bloodsick has cooked up a steaming pot of blackened thrash with a side of doom to fill them earholes with pure insanity!!!” But the bulk of the thing goes to Curtis Cottrell, “a huge contributor supporter of the New Orleans underground scene,” who has lived about a dozen different lives. Cottrell hung out with the Grateful Dead in ‘69, got drafted, got out, studied poetry at Oxford in the ‘70s, got pretty into fireworks in Tulsa, came back to New Orleans, roasted a few doobers here and there, and lived to tell the tale. I like learning about new groups and I enjoy the record reviews, but I really loved this informal profile on a longtime NOLA punker. I could read stuff like that for days. Thanks, Bobby! Hope you’re feeling good as new again soon, too. –Jim Joyce (Paranoize, PO Box 2334, Marrero, LA 70073-2334, [email protected])
PICKING STUFF APART No. 1 (?), $4 or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 48 pgs.
The numbering has me off because this zine is also technically #8 of Craven Rock’s Eaves of Ass and #11 of Joshua James Amberson’s Basic Paper Airplane. Cataloging irregularity aside, I loved this zine. The concept is that Craven and Joshua James assigned each other several things to review—such as books, music or events—and then had a back and forth conversational interview over the hows and whys of each review. The results are ten reviews which range far and wide, such as an awkward industrial music awards show, a teen-aimed, satanic-panic-fueled Christian variety show from the early ‘90s, a modernist book club called Joyce Division, and an EP of what Craven comes to label “busyfolk.” At first blush, I assumed reviewing a zine of reviews would be an exercise in meta-tedium, but each review ends up functioning as a springboard for an interesting essay which each writer uses to explore ideas related to their subject at hand, even if, at times, their lack of expertise on their actual “object of study” is quite substantial. For instance, when assigned the posthumous EP Chokes! by the band Silkworm, Craven is able to use the middle of the road review of the actual album—to which he has no real attachment or connection—as a platform for examining how his music consumption methods have drastically changed since the pre-internet years, when every album one could get a hold of was an object of intense study because of scarcity… even if you didn’t particularly like it. The back and forth interviews afterward are great too, as both writers are particularly articulate in examining the thought processes they used to reach their opinions and asking questions of each other that move the conversation deeper. –Adrian Salas (Craven Rock,10511 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98133, [email protected], antiquatedfuture.com)
PICKING STUFF APART, $4, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 48 pgs.
Picking Stuff Apart is a brainchild between two friends who assigned each other things to watch, read, and listen to, and then wrote reviews of experiences of those things and then discuss it, and, well—pick stuff apart. Assignment topics include Grant Morrison’s essay/manifesto “Pop Magic!,” listening to a discussion from The New Yorker Fiction Podcast, Alak’s 2009 EP I Don’t Feel Anything, and my personal favorite, a Christian television show Fire By Nite “Satanism Unmasked: The Return 1,” where Craven muses, “A lot of people are completely repulsed by Christian propaganda, but it’s endless entertainment for others. I guess I’m just gloating, but, in this case, at people who definitely deserve to fail.” Topics of discussions weren’t always of interest, however the back and forth discussions between zinesters Joshua and Craven is insightful, snarky and intelligent. –Camylle Reynolds (Craven Rock, 10511 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98133)
SEX WITHOUT ROLES, $4, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 34 pgs.
I really want to be open and kind to others who are not my background (cis, upper-middle class, white male). Having not grown up around trans people, I know I have a lot to learn. That’s why I appreciate reading zines like Sex without Roles, written by Eli Sasche, a transman. Eli covers a range of topics related to the trans community, including sex, flirting and dating, consent, long-term relationships, and sex with changing body parts. It’s not overly thorough, but it’s still a good primer for someone like myself to get a bit of insight into what the concerns are for trans people around the issue of sex. I realize this is just Eli’s point of view, but considering how limited my take is on trans issues, I’m thankful for any introduction. If you’re as unaware of this community as I am, or if you want to just read the experiences of one trans person and sex, I think this is worth checking out. –Kurt Morris (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, 2 stamps or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 22 pgs.
Something for Nothing is packed tight in tiny, but still readable, font with a plethora of personal musings that run the gamut from tasty new snacks, newest or revisited tunes, show adventures from the fresh eyes of a forty-four-year-old, and a most thorough review of The English Beat because why the hell not. But I’ll be honest, the best part of this zine is the Beverage Reviews of new fab Snapples, coconut waters, and fruit-infused thirst quenchers, because that shit is crucial. This zine was a fun, light-hearted read. –Camylle Reynolds (Idy, PO Box 226, Massillon, OH, 44646)
STANDING UNAFRAID: HEALING TRAUMA WITH EDMR THERAPY, $4, 4¼” x 5½”, copied, 62 pgs.
I’ve always been a fan of Robert Wildwood’s (AKA Robnoxious) writing. There’s always an honesty and optimism to it. You’ll find the same tone here with his zine about his experiences with EDMR therapy. EDMR is a kind of therapy where you’re guided into your past by a therapist who instructs you to make peace with it, restructuring stories in a way that allows the abused child of your past to rest. As a child, Rob was a survivor of brutal bullying. His serious PTSD made living really difficult. He describes an incident where he was triggered by losing his glasses and it made him just freak out. In total fight or flight mode, he fought people, hit himself over the head with a brick, and jumped out a window when it was closed. It was this level of anxiety that made him seek help in EDMR therapy and it really helped. It’s a great zine if you aren’t looking for mental help, but if you are, it might point you in the right direction. –Craven Rock (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227, microcosmpublishing.com)
subTERRAIN #78, 6” x 9”, $7, printed, 96 pgs.
This is the third or fourth issue of this fantastic Canadian lit zine that I’ve read. It’s always a quality read, and usually revolves around some sort of theme. This issue is no exception on either front, though the concept this time is less thematic and more about quality: the bulk of the prose and poetry herein have won various awards, making this issue an especially great read. If you haven’t jumped onboard yet, I can’t think of a better place to start. Hell of recommended, eh? –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 3008, Main Post Office, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X5, Canada)
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON ADDICTION: WHERE THEY COME FROM AND HOW WE HEAL, $4, 5½” x 8½”, 15 pgs.
I thought a lot about Crimpshrine’s “Wake Up” while reading This Is Your Brain On Addiction because, as Jeff Ott says, “…everyone’s addicted to something” and “it’s OK as long as you feel love inside,” which is true. But also, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t get done when one’s addicted. Like mopping the floor, seeing your friends, getting to work on time, and doing anything that’s not a part of bending the day to meet the addiction itself. Harper does a good job of explaining where the condition can come from—sometimes it’s a “coping skills gone awry”—how they work, and how one can go about taking their life back, however incrementally, from that behavior or substance. This zine might be helpful for those who are suffering from the condition, but it humanizes addiction for unfamiliar readers, too. Zines like this will probably lead to more conversations around the topic, which in turn might mean less loneliness and less shame and more compassion and help, which would be awesome. –Jim Joyce (Microcosm, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)
TRUST #186, €3, 8” x 11½”, 66 pgs.
We’ve got another beautiful issue of TRUST, the second-longest running punk zine out there after MRR, as far as I know. My usual routine with TRUST is to flip through quickly while looking for any signs of English (a Crass quote here, a generous Razorcake issue #99 review there, (thanks!)), then I go back to page one and drool over the layout and photos. Issue #186 features an interview with Alice Bag, and it begins with, yes, a photo of a paper lunch bag. She’s probably used to that gag by now, but visual puns and the like speak to the zine’s humor and style. The pages are drenched in black ink, as if the zine were crafted by a renegade crew of pallid monk typographers and photographers who’d committed themselves to the study of punk as it appears in basement lighting. Clearly, I find grimy beauty of this magnitude intoxicating. Aside from all that gushing, though, I should say this issue also features interviews with Penny Rimbuad, Lebenden Toten, Zonenpunk, and fuzz rockers Sneeze Attack, a group who I’m into now. Thanks, TRUST! –Jim Joyce (Trust, Verlag, Postfach 11 07 62, 28087 Bremen, Germany, trust-zine.de)
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