Featured Zine Reviews Razorcake #101
WHEN LANGUAGE RUNS DRY: A ZINE FOR PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC PAIN AND THEIR ALLIES #5, $4, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 52 pgs.
A sharp-looking compilation zine about how people live with chronic pain, which is defined as “pain that persists for more than six months [that] is often mysterious and goes undiagnosed [and] can stem from injury, illness, surgical complications, or can be an inherited condition.” I got a lot out of When the Language Runs Dry, probably because I’ve had acquaintances with chronic pain, but I’ve never really understood what they were going through, aside from the obvious. This zine is a teaching tool, but it feels like a publication I’d definitely be reading if I were experiencing chronic pain, too. It features work which validates the experience of those who are living with such hurt. One comic explored the way pain plays with time (time slows down with pain and pain steals time, too), and another comic follows a social worker through her day: patients get treatment, some die unexpectedly, and friends ask for help outside of work, too. The narrator tries to handle all of this psychic weight with grace. But it’s hard. To that end, being graceful, one essay taught me about the spoon theory. This theory basically suggests that we only have so much energy to give. Obligations tax our energy. Pushing our limits harms us. It called the Spoon Theory because of this visual. Picture a bunch of spoons on top of each other in a drawer, maybe five of them. Work costs three spoons. You’ve only got two left at the end of the day. You can use one to make dinner, maybe one more to stay up and read, whatever. But if you’re out late, you might nourish some part of your social life, but you’d also be stealing from that next day’s energy. This zine is good, and I hope you read it. –Jim Joyce ([email protected], chronicpainzine.blogspot.com)
BRAINSCAN #33, 4” x 7”, printed, 64 pgs.
This zine is exactly the type of text I was looking to read when it comes to witchcraft. Although maybe hinted in previous issues of Brainscan, never has an issue been solely dedicated to the author’s personal views on witchery and their life exploring their secular style of practice. While breaking down just “what is” witchcraft, the zine also serves as a sort of how-to and personal narrative, giving tips such as avoiding cultural appropriation (often so prevalent nowadays in white girl witchery world), explaining the background behind the different styles and practices, and above all (my favorite part) encouraging readers who are curious about witchcraft to go out there and do some reading, research, and just find what feels right and works for you. –Tricia Ramos (Brainscan, Portland Button Works, 1505 N. Bryant St., Portland, OR 97217)
BROKEN PENCIL #75, $5.95, 8 ½” x 11”, 73 pgs.
This is my first time enjoying the long-running Broken Pencil, a magazine of “zine culture and the independent arts” out of Toronto. Aside from offering the regular slew of good ol’ zine reviews (with reproduced excerpts, gimme a hell yeah!), this issue has some short stories, great comics, and has a feature article on cartoonist Erik Kostiuk Williams and his Superqueerdo series, which stars two “shapeshifting cosmic femmes” who land in Parkdale, a once interesting neighborhood of Toronto that’s losing its art scene and being bulldozed for glass-walled apartment complexes. Williams’ new comic, the fifty-page Condo Heartbreak Disco, takes on the reality of Toronto’s “oh-so-real overdevelopment” with lovely thick-lined illustrations of atypical superheroes who are caught in the complicated battle of slowing gentrification. Article author Johnathan Valelly and comic artist Williams get into a cool conversation about how the comic’s characters are, like a lot of artists, “drawn to the authenticity of [a] neighborhood” and enjoy its resources while simultaneously being “totally oblivious privilege-wielding jerk[s]” who can’t see that their presence may bring irreversible consequences. (Sounds like me.) Anyway, that’s a lot to unpack, but Broken Pencil is good for it. In another article, Alison Broverman adeptly explains how to protect yourself from the artist’s nightmare of having work stolen and reproduced on the internet, from Pepe the Frog to weird shit you post on your blog. –Jim Joyce (Broken Pencil, PO Box 203, Station P, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S7 Canada, brokenpencil.com)
CABILDO QUARTERLY #11, $1, 11” x 14”, copied, 2 pgs.
The fifth anniversary of Cabildo Quarterly finds it at the illogical sum of issue 11. (Math works different in Mike Fournier’s world.) For this issue the traditional format continues: a mixture of poetry and prose spread out over the front and back of an 11” x 14” sheet of paper. This issue has poems by Gale Acuff, Natalie Crick, and Changming Yuan (a 9-time Pushcart nominee?! Wow, Cabildo is moving up!). Prose comes from Rex Thomas, Brendan Kiernan, and Razorcake’s own Sean Arenas. Perhaps I’m partial, but I liked the story by Arenas the most, as it dealt with (as the title suggests) the goings-on of Angelenos. I’m also going to give this issue’s best poem award to Gale Acuff’s piece about a dead dog coming back to life. I believe in supporting the writing and publishing of Razorcake folks, so I’d highly recommend checking this issue out. Also, it’s good writing! –Kurt Morris ([email protected])
CLOCK TOWER 9 #13, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 28 pgs.
Most of the zine features Danny’s road trip from Cleveland to Portland. He buddies up with his friend Hannah, who’s moving out there. They stop to read in strange places, seek out bars with bikes locked out front (a good sign for deals), and wake up in the car to a 6 AM sun. I love a good road trip read, and it’s a bonus when there’s no grand mission, just a couple of friends rolling along. This zine made me want to jump in a dump on wheels with only a journal, some stamps, a shitty paperback, and all my old friend’s addresses. Other parts of Clock Tower 9: a couple dudes write about what record they couldn’t part with, Danny pulls a few items from his list of 1,000,000 things learned from postcards (items 76-91), and we also get a recipe for prison-made pizza. It calls for crushed saltines, ramen noodles, and “City Cow” cheese (pretty sure this is what Sarpino’s uses, too). –Jim Joyce (Danny c/o Spin Cycle, 321 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102)
EARTH FIRST! JOURNAL Vol. 37, #1, 8 ½” x 11, $?, newsprint, 76 pgs.,
The importance and relevance of Earth First! (journal and group) is more important now than ever before, considering the scum fuck pigs who are in the White House now, especially with Scott Pruitt wrecking the EPA. This issue features a piece on Standing Rock, as well as what’s going on in Texas with twin pipeline projects headed by Energy Transfer Partners (same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline), listing of political prisoners, newly formed radical eco groups, news roundup, and more. My favorite parts of this issue are “Dear Ned Lund,” “Wolves & Poodles,” and the piece on dirty tricks the FBI resort to in order to secure terrorism convictions. –Matt Average (Earth First! Journal, PO Box 964, Lake Worth, FL 33460, earthfirstjournal.org)
EGGY’S DEAD #2, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 36 pgs.
Eggy’s Dead is an entirely submission-based literary zine. This second issue is pretty poetry heavy, but they accept all forms and styles of literature. The poems weren’t really that interesting to me, but one short story entitled, “This Machine Thanks You for Your Attention” by Kevin Esposito really stood out. A future-realism look into our lives being controlled and dependent on robots, their story didn’t really seem all that far off from how we are already addicted and attached to our machines, and how it can only get worse. The zine also featured some really cool abstract art, which helped break up the poetry. –Tricia Ramos (Eggy’s Dead, riotradiopodcast.com)
GAD!, free or trade, 8½” x 11”, copied, 20 pgs.
GAD! rocks, okay! And if the rave reviews it gets here means anything, I’m not the only Razorcaker to think so, either. I feel privileged to get it. The GAD! team cover music they like excitedly and with so much joy (perhaps it’s because they decide what they’re gonna write about), that I actually scribble down band names to check out (and I’m a bitter old man). As a matter of fact, right now I’m listening to Genki Genki Panic because I read about them in here. To give you some context, let’s compare GAD! to... the slick, payola rock mag strewn around the last show I was at, the one I read between bands because someone stole my copy of Manhattan Transfer. (Okay, that’s a lot of context, I just want you to know I read it under duress.) Did I bother jotting down a single band name of whom their writers so diligently probed about the recording of their last album? Nope. Read GAD!! Ah, I’m so proud of myself, I’ve managed to review GAD! without getting all misty-eyed about the music zines of the nineties that it reminds me of and how that was the only real way to learn about underground music if you lived in a small town, how it holds those same aesthetics, unlike the glossy, slick capitalism of the mag from the show.... Wait! Aw, fuck! –Craven Rock (GAD!, PO Box 1308, Gadsen, AL, 35902, [email protected])
GAD #14, free or trade, 8¼” x 11”, copied, 33 pgs.
A punk zine focused on the music scene and bands from Alabama. This issue contains reviews of new tracks and albums of The Sebastian Trials, Alkoholemia, Beware of Darkness, and more. Also has a “one question” interview with Cap’n Jazz, an interview with Tom Mullen of the podcast, Washed Up Emo, and a full directory of Alabama bands, their genre, and contact info. This issue also had two separate dedications to local musicians who had passed recently, which was a little hard for me to read (on account of my own still processing-grief over losing artist/musician friends from the Ghost Ship Fire), but touching and important pieces for their own local scene. –Tricia Ramos (Gad!, PO Box 1308, Gadsden, AL 35902, [email protected])
HEADWINDS #1, £1.50, 8¼” x 11½”, glossy printed, 24 pgs.
This music fanzine combines an interesting mix of band interviews, band-related comics, fanzine reviews, and storytelling. Not too different from a traditional music fanzine at first, but then the author has a section retelling different shows he’s been to, how the bands played, and the night played out. I enjoyed it because it felt like asking your friend, “How was the show last night?” and getting a full recap. There was also a really interesting recount of a one-time festival called Treeworgery Tree Festival in 1989 that occurred only one year because of massive losses in cost, water and toilet breakdowns, corrupt security, farm animal abuse, and deaths?! I’ll definitely be looking more into that story. –Tricia Ramos (Headwinds, [email protected])
HERE, YOU THROW THIS AWAY: A ZINE ABOUT FLYERING, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 35 pgs.
A zine about flyering; I think we can all get down with that on some level. The author, Tyler, comes at it from a sort of dual perspective. He’s played in some bands, understands the strange beauty of Raymond Pettibon’s Black Flag flyer art, but it seems like he’s doing more stand-up comedy these days, and he mostly flyers for those events. On the whole, I didn’t learn a lot that I didn’t already know from being a flyer creep myself. But he did make me want to buy a used staple gun. That’s one of his tips. Another tip was to ask for permission when posting flyers in independently owned shops, and don’t post anything plain old racist or sexist. That makes sense. Oddly, he does gripe about one proprietor’s objection to have a poster for a comedy group called “Reformed Whores” displayed in their store. Tyler says that this owner was uptight. But if pressed, I think Tyler would agree that there are plenty of ways to be edgy or ridiculous in your flyers and band names without using Seth McFarlane type denigrating humor. Or maybe I just think the word “whores” is sad because I have younger sisters. Gripes aside, Here, You Throw This Away is a funny read. Tyler is passionate about flyers, and it’s neat to hear him freak out about this or that topic, such as his feelings about flyers that are all text: “Whenever I see a flyer typed up in Microsoft Word, I want to fucking light it on fire.” And who can’t get behind his main argument—“FLYERS: BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT THE INTERNET.” Amen. –Jim Joyce (Tyler Sonic, [email protected], tylersonic.com)
LOCAL VOCALS: YOUR GUIDE TO KICK-ASS KARAOKE, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 20 pgs.
Okay, this zine cracked me up. As someone who barely goes to karaoke (and mostly tries to avoid it), I have to give props to the writer for giving such a full description of karaoke singer types, audience member types, and how to properly enjoy and perform karaoke. Like the title of the zine indicates, this small book could be utilized by someone who has never done karaoke but has an interest in starting out, or it could be given to someone who’s a karaoke superstar for a laugh! I really appreciated the parts describing different kinds of singers, especially “The Rehearser,” which perfectly described my ex-boss who would play the same five tracks on our office computer, singing along all day for my eight hour shift, preparing herself for her weekly karaoke night. If you’re a karaoke lover, please don’t be like my ex-boss. Please don’t play Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” over and over every day for your employees to suffer hearing their boss sing/ask if a boy can “get it up.” Ugh, sorry about that. Maybe this zine triggered some karaoke nightmare flashbacks for me. –Tricia Ramos (PO Box 7831, Beverly Hills, CA 90212)
PASAZER #33, 25 zloty, 8½” x 11”, offset, 208 pgs.
For less than seven American bucks, this killer Polish zine can be yours. It’s packed with tiny print, columns, reviews, and bands. Tons of bands. The ongoing history of Black Flag, which I remember from past issues, includes photos I’ve never seen before, and the twenty-five song CD sampler features bands from Poland. Man, I miss CD samplers—such a great way for bands to get listens and transcend the language barrier. Some of the acts from this one will make their way into my next podcast installment. Recommended. –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 42, 39-201 Debica 3, Poland)
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL FOREVER!, $15, 8½” x 11”, copied, 108 pgs.
This zine consists of more than a hundred pages of full-color photographs documenting the photographer’s experience of the last decade of DIY punk in the United States (mostly). The price may be steep enough to warrant some double-takes, but it makes sense if you consider this a punk rock yearbook, something to flip through in search of some unfocused memory, the approximation of a feeling. It’s a scrapbook of someone who’s been to a ton of punk places and met a ton of punk people. There are wild stagedives and posed band photo shoots as well as more understated shots: friends goofing off in fast food restaurants, waiting around in vans, exploring dilapidated buildings, just hanging out. Maybe half of the photos are captioned with the names of the bands or people pictured, while the rest are left context-free and mysterious. Scribbled drawings in Sharpie and ballpoint pen line the margins. Some shots are immediately striking, while others might have been unremarkable in another context—presented all together like this, they make something familiar and sweet. An honest and unaffected tribute to a certain kind of life from someone who was there and thought to make some kind of record. –Indiana Laub (Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever!, PO Box 1959, New York, NY 10013)
TAMMY & ERROL, #4-#6, free? 8½” x 14”, copied, tri-fold
This is the second installment of Daryl’s ongoing series chronicling the awkward, misadventures of his two protagonists. Herein, mushrooms are gobbled, walls are stained, and fences are put through unusual stress tests, all with a deadpan delivery which makes the absurdity more hilarious. Don’t take my word for it, though. Seek this out with Razorcake orders, or, better yet, catch Daryl reading live. You’ll be forever changed. –Michael T. Fournier (No address listed)
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