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)