Featured Zine Reviews from Razorcake Issue 97: Scam, Behind The Wheel, Emergency Exit, Francesca, Freak Tension, No Friends

May 08, 2017

SCAM #10, 25th Anniversary Issue, $8 ppd., 8 ½” x 11”, offset, 160 pgs.
I’ve been a fan of Erick Lyle since the days when he went by the name Iggy Scam. Back then—twenty-five years ago, as this issue’s masthead declares—he was the living embodiment of a Blatz song, fucking shit up whether pushing a boombox playing “Damaged” around Miami in a shopping cart or providing schematics for stealing electricity from lampposts. Erick’s matured since those days, certainly, but his insurrectionary spirit and joy for life still burn white hot at this issue’s core. Erick still writes on gentrification, graffiti, squatting, and police, but the scope of his interviews have widened: in addition to talking with/about the Pleasure Leftists and Shellshag, Lyle covers members of the lit scene like CA Conrad and Daphne Gottlieb. I treat the arrival of this zine like a national holiday, dropping everything to dig in (and at 160 pages, it’s a long holiday). Viva Scam! –Michael T. Fournier (1011 Bedford Ave. #3, Brooklyn, NY 11205, onthelowerfrequencies.com)

SCAM #10, 25th Anniversary Issue, $8 ppd., 8 ½” x 11”, copied, 160 pgs.
I’ve only read back as far as issue #9 of Scam in which Eric Lyle did a badass history of Black Flag’s Damaged. It read like a more exciting Thirty Three and a Third series books and it cost a lot less. I was lucky to see Lyle read at Quimby’s earlier this winter while he was touring for a book he’d just edited, Streetopia, which is more or less about how cities treat their DIY art scenes like absolute shit with one hand while opening the door to the Googles and Twitters and other digital empires with the other. Anyway, in person and on the page, Lyle’s a funny, self-effacing conversational genius, and this 25th anniversary issue feels like a well-attended zine-party jammed with all his pet interests and best friends pulled from all corners of the punk landscape. What’s good? I enjoyed that juice about fake Greyhound tickets, the piece on Coffee Not Cops, and the interview with visual artist Edie Fake, which takes place in the desert where Fake lives, and during which Lyle and Fake discuss the ghostly qualities of bars and clubs that live on in the mind after their physical representations have been razed away. What else? There’s a Ramones Reiki inspirational art piece by Fly, perfectly sized to be a cutout bookmark or daily affirmation card to place at your desk. I wanna live, I wanna be well, I wanna you to read this. –Jim Joyce (onthelowerfrequencies.com)

AMERICAN DREAM, THE #3, $3 or trade, 8½” x 5½”, copied, 20 pgs.
If I understand correctly, this issue has been twenty-two years in the making. It’s basically an unfiltered channel for the author’s general rage and defiance—against war, capitalism, racism, animal cruelty, and most of the other usual suspects. There are lengthy excerpts from lyrics by Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, H2O… some more of the usual suspects. It’s pretty simple, familiar stuff. The essays aren’t particularly organized and a lot of the pages aren’t much more than haphazard collages of political memes. This is the first political zine I’ve read during the Trump administration, so fuck it. I, too, have often been consumed by inarticulable rage, and I have probably already used a lot of the same lines as this writer in Facebook arguments with my dad. Not too sure about that quick mention of chemtrails on the second page, but I get the general idea. Fuck it. –Indiana Laub (The American Dream, notlikeyoufanzine.com)

BEHIND THE WHEEL: FROM UBER/LYFT TO TAXI #3, $5 ppd., 5½” x 8½”, saddle stitch and glossy cover, 60 pgs.
In this third volume of Behind the Wheel, our author/driver has gone from Uber, to Lyft, to now taxi driver. This series is an inside look at what it’s like to be a Bay Area driver. We meet passengers seeking drugs, sex—and more often than not inebriated—and mistaking the poor taxi driver as a Lyft or Uber. I especially loved the guest stories from “Late Night Larry” because they involved either passengers who puked and had to pay up (a hundred dollar fee!) or wanted to have sex in his car, to which he seemed okay with either? The life of a cab driver doesn’t seem like something I’m brave enough to take on, but I certainly appreciate those who can do it, and the craziness that they encounter every day! –Tricia Ramos (Behind the Wheel, 4730-A Shattuck Ave., Oakland, CA 94609, kellydessaint.com/piltdownlad)

CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN BLOOM, $4 or trade, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, copied, 40 pgs.
In this comics zine, Chris Kill documents his pilgrimage to the Young Street Bridge, a mecca for Nirvana fans, as Cobain spent some time there in his youth and may have in fact lived there for a stint. Before his trek as an adult to Cobain’s hometown, Kill recounts his teenage obsession with Nirvana, echoing my adolescent experience with punk: buying bootleg CDs, reading countless biographies and zines, arguments in high school about what band is better. There’s a refreshing lack of pessimism in his panels. For example, in finally arriving to Aberdeen, Wash., Kill experiences a near religious experience: “Something definitely touched my soul.” He returns home euphoric. From start to finish, Cherry Blossoms in Bloom is an engrossing slice of life zine, with minimal artwork that recalls Ben Snakepit. At once uplifting and relatable, Cherry Blossoms proves that a life spent making noise just might make a life well spent for someone else. –Sean Arenas (Chris Kill, 11051 Grassyglen Dr., Houston, TX 77064)

EMERGENCY EXIT #2, £2, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 27 pgs.
Our author, Ben Smith, who normally lives in Leeds, writes about cycling around Europe as a way of beating the blues. Along the ride, Ben thinks about ways to live off the grid because, “Entering the church of work to pay bills—that would be a failure.” I’m not sure if Ben lands on any definite plans for independence, but don’t fault a guy for trying. It brings up some fun asides, like the note about his friend, Greg, who “once lived on a canal boat in London for free. He did hate it, and the boat sank, but that free shelter is possible.” Mostly, Emergency Exit #2 felt like a travelogue. This happens and that happens. He meets some people—some are nice, some are boring. If I were planning to bike Europe, I’d recommend reading Ben’s zine to get a lay of the land, to channel a bit of his exploratory spirit, and to get some practical advice about packing. It’s fun to hear him ruminate on the materials of the journey. He says to pack whatever feels right. Don’t let people pester you into leaving this or that tool—if it gives you piece of mind […] it will literally be a talisman.” –Jim Joyce (B/W & Read, bwread.blogspot.co.uk)

FLAG DAY, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 12 pgs.
Rick V., Emily Timm, and Ben Snakepit all share the same birthday—June 14 aka Flag Day (apparently this is also the birthday of King Diamond, Donald Trump, and Boy George, among others—but their birthdays are not chronicled here). This is a comic zine focused solely on random birthdays in each of the three artists’ lives. A very quick, fun read. –Cheyenne Neckmonster (Rick V, 1423 S. Lincoln St, Bloomington, IN 47401, itsmerickv.storenvy.com)

FRANCESCA, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 32 pgs.
Francesca is an unstapled, half-sized zine by Sean Dunne. It starts cold and fast: a stream-of-consciousness meditation on being really, really fucked up on speed and meeting someone named Francesca. The story takes up about twenty-two pages with some collages and quotes to fill out the rest of the space. I was surprised that Dunne’s writing has depth and brutal honesty about addiction, dysfunction, and desperate attempts to connect with other humans. –Cheyenne Neckmonster (No address listed)

FREAK TENSION, $6, 5½” x 8½”, copied with gloss full color cover, 42 pgs.
For more than ten years, author MP Johnson has been writing bizarre short stories, weird fiction, and creating made-up biographies for bands he’s reviewed. This zine compiles some of his favorite summaries, stories, and pieces that his freaky brain has created. From mutants to amphibian humanoids, each short piece of fiction is more and more bizarre. Seemingly endless, this author shows no sign of slowing down with Freak Tension. –Tricia Ramos (Freak Tension, freaktension.com)

I SAID THAT VOLUME 1: THE DICKS, $?, 6” x 9”, book, 92 pgs.
This bound zine chronicles the band, The Dicks. Written by singer Gary Floyd himself, this first volume is one part of a four-part series. A self-proclaimed “loud-mouth punk rock queer,” the Texas born singer’s musical life is documented. Starting from the idea and creation of the band, interviews through out time, scans of old show flyers, live photos, and lyrics to Dicks songs, this zine is a quick and thorough introduction to Gary Floyd, his music, and his presence as a musical force to be reckoned with. –Tricia Ramos (I Said That Volume 1: The Dicks, [email protected])

 LOAFING THE DONKEY #78, $4, 7” x 8½”, copied, 48 pgs.
Zines with a heavy regional focus are very much in my wheelhouse. This issue of Loafing The Donkey—which I’ve never seen before, despite its long-running status—fits the bill. In addition to reviews, this one documents the scuttlebutt surrounding an unreleased documentary on Memphis’s Antenna Club, and a batch of anti-town watch initiative posters which take an approach to activism that Razorcake readers will appreciate. –Michael T. Fournier (2264 Elzey Ave., Memphis, TN 38104-2455)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #402, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 120 pgs.
I haven’t checked in with Maximum since the nineties, when both HeartattaCk and Punk Planet started in reaction to MRR’s coverage of what was (and wasn’t) punk. Columnists bickered, sniping about slights, real or imagined—it was all too much after a while. Now, twenty years later, MRR feels much more unified than I remember—rather than divisiveness and genre definition, MRR celebrates DIY culture in what feels like a gathering of tribes. The template is the same—columns, interviews, reviews—but the vibe is much more inclusive. This issue features Ian MacKaye and archivist Nichole Procopenko on archiving Dischord’s massive collection of punk effluvia. After reading this issue, I subscribed: I can’t think of a better endorsement. –Michael T. Fournier (MRR, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146, maximumrocknroll.com)

NO FRIENDS #4, $6.50, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 128 pgs.
I hadn’t heard of No Friends before, but it seems to have been started by former Maximum Rock‘n’roll contributor, Ray Martinez (aka Ray Suburbia). It’s a typical newsprint rag in the vein of MRR and has the same format: interviews, columns, and reviews. There’s also a flexi-disc with songs by Jami And The Debt, Tenement, Dyke Drama, and Endless Column. Interviews include Tenement, The Peterbaugh Sisters, Lemonade, and The Leather Archives and Museum (which was a very cool read). One complaint I had was that the columns were scattered throughout instead of in one specific section of the zine and the titles of the columns were at the bottom of each page. Every column looked similar—it would’ve been good to have titles at the top and to provide some kind of illustration or header unique to each. There are some in-depth, worthwhile conversations happening in No Friends as well as very cool photos in the reviews section—it’s obvious the folks putting this together know what they’re doing. A little tightening up of the layout will make this thing aces. Regardless, it’s still worth picking up if you’re a fan of Razorcake or MRR. –Kurt Morris (PO Box 12343, Chicago, IL, 60612)

NOT NECESSARILY THE NEWS #5, $5, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 34 pgs.
This issue of Not Necessarily the News is primarily composed of two interviews with two Ralphs: Ralph Rivera of The Bug and Not Normal Tapes, and Ralph McGreary, an author of fantasy novels. I’ve seen way too many zines like this where the interviews would have been short and lacked any depth. In this situation it’s quite to the contrary: Jim’s questions are thoughtful and natural, seeming to make each interview into a regular conversation—very similar to something you’d read in Razorcake. Jim also has a few pages on his life as a teenage street punk and essential records from that time in his life. If any of this sounds like it’s up your alley, I’d certainly recommend this issue of Not Necessarily The News. –Kurt Morris (Jim Gies, 2020 N. California Ave. #276, Chicago, IL 60647, hipkidrecords.storenvy.com)

PUNK ROCK GLEE CLUB #2, $5.00 or trade, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 64 pgs.
Liz (who works at the venerable and crucial Quimby’s, in Chicago) sings a capella versions of punk songs in the Blue Ribbon Glee Club. The first installment of this zine was about that club’s exploits; this one broadens its scope a bit. In addition to profiles of BRGC members and an article on England’s similarly inclined Hackney Secular Singers, Liz includes song-specific essays written as part of the club’s singing/reading series (examples include X’s “The World’s a Mess, It’s in My Kiss” and the db’s “Black and White”). Friendly and well-conceived throughout, despite an admittedly niche topic. But we all know niches make for the most compelling reading, right? Right! A complete joy. –Michael T. Fournier (Liz Mason, PO Box 477553, Chicago, IL 60647)
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