Saturday, December 29, 2007

LITERARY SPECIAL (all on actual paper!)

Imago by Octavia E. Butler
Working by Studs Terkel
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Amazing Dope Tales by Stephen Gaskin
The In-Your-Face Basketball Book by Chuck Wielgus, Jr. & Alexander Wolff
Ecology and Consciousness edited by Richard Grossinger
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara by James Gurney

Bixobal #1
Horror Underground #1 and #2
Cometbus #49 and #50
King Ink #3
Lumpen #106
Skeleton News #14
Broken Records
Teeth, Oral History (from 2006)
Ong Ong #1 and #2 (from 2005)
Phase!Mag #2 (from 2005)
Juxtapoz #26 (from 2000)
Feminist Baseball #15 (from 1997)
Sound Collector #2 (from 1998)
Butt Rag #8 and #9 (from 1993 and 1994)
Puncture #33 (from 1995)
Frantzine #5 (from 1995)
Grand Royal #2

These zines (and magazines) have been piling up for basically a year or two. Bixobal is a new music zine on paper that comes from Seattle under the auspices of the Ri Be Xibalba label. Thus we get a SunCity-centric point of view that is always welcome around these parts (informative article by a Climax Golden twin on Korean 78s, Sir Richard Bishop travel journal), a 'classic' paper zine record review section, and a super-definitive interview with David Nuss of the No-Neck Blues Band. The editorial tone is very 1990s a la magazines like Halana and ND -- measured, reverent, appreciative of beauty, not the unhinged, irreverent, and ugliness-appreciative tone that I associate with the more chaotic 2000s....speaking of which, Horror Underground is a new mini-zine, also from Seattle (via the Enterruption label), that reflects the 2000s vibe, as it consists entirely of a bunch of quick-hit horror/noise record reviews, printed up on a single piece of paper folded over once so you get a horror-imagery cover plus three pages of small-print text. Thoughtful descriptive music writing combines with the quick-hit set-up for a nice blast of info/culture. And "Please feel free to photocopy and distribute HORROR UNDERGROUND freely," it says. I don't think I have words to do justice to Cometbus because it's probably the greatest zine of all time. I guess it's like the ultimate perzine, but don't take that as a backhanded compliment because EVERY zine should be a perzine and that goofy emo term just kind of distracts us from that. (The term "perblog" is kinda like that too, dontcha think?) I never think the short stories are going to be good, but they're always excellent, and interviews with everyone from Ian Mackaye to a Berkeley community radio pioneer to a guy who makes popular bike messenger/DJ bags give the mag lots of depth. King Ink is Joe Harrington's thing up in Portland, ME, and it's actually a pretty thick glossy newsstand rock magazine, but it also focuses heavily on the mostly unknown Maine scene, which is a pretty zine thing to do, and of course Harrington's rowdy rock writing could really only live in a zine. Metal band The Sword are on the cover of #3, and the subject of a long gonzo interview piece by Harrington, with much more, tons of reviews, lotta fun... Lumpen is the forever-running free Chicago magazine by that guy Edmar and his pack of hip and erudite culture jammer city kids... I pick up every issue and sometimes read almost half of it... a mix of radical political theory and artschool dropout party hijinks, it is definitely part of the Chicago cultural landscape, I would be bummed if it went away... but even better is the new kid on the Chicago block, Skeleton News. It's a B&W foldover on newsprint, classic newspaper style, only about 14 or 16 pages long, crammed full with thoughtful articles and essays and features that share some kind of deep-cover educated/philosphical/poetic post-punk cultural stance. Also an excellent comics section and a devil-may-care sense of layout and design that keeps your eyes moving all over the place. On their 14th issue in less than two years, they've yet to show any sign of slowing down. Resilient and Broken Records I just bought on a whim at Quimbys, both one-shot perzine kinda things. I was trying to find some Chicago-centric titles I'd never heard of before, and Resilient was by a woman who moved from Brooklyn to Chicago, I think, and mainly about that, so pretty cool as far as learning about her learn about the city and whatnot. Very bike-centric, so that was nice too. Good layout, I liked it. Broken Records was by a girl about her experiences in a record store when she was in high school or college or something like that. I forget where the store was but I think it was somewhere kinda bland and midwestern, not unlike the record store I worked at 15 years ago in Lincoln, NE. What went on in her store, and her zine stories about it all, were kinda bland and midwestern too. So I was a little disappointed with Broken Records, but I do think a great zine could be written about working in a record store.... well, maybe not. It would have to avoid being anything like High Fidelity whatsoever, and that might just be impossible in this day and age... although Cometbus would probably pull it off if they ever tried it (maybe they have)... Teeth and Oral History are little hand-made construction-paper-and-staples silk-screened art chapbooks by an Ann Arbor resident named Tom Carey. Inside are rough and minimal comics/paintings that are comparable to the psychedelic anthropomorphisms of the Fort Thunder style. Teeth is like five or six abstract vibrating pictures of what I guess is a toothy mouth, and Oral History seems to tell some sort of crude reptile/mammal/human/alien birth story. Intriguing.... I read about Ong Ong in Arthur Mag's Bull Tongue a couple years ago and then up and ordered both issues from their website. Pretty good stuff - the journalism is very casual, random, low-depth, and on suitably punk-house fare, all of which makes it a real cozy zine to check out -- you know, subjects like a Washington State group that provides services for incarcerated pregnant women, a recipe for beet burgers, a guide to Eastern European beers, an apreesh of the rad Colombian street punk movie Rodrigo D: No Future that is barely a page long, an interview with John Olson of Wolf Eyes, more apreesh on the likes of Dusan Makavejev, Sublime Frequencies, Jessamine, New Zealand drone, art, a record reviews section that is like two records long, silkscreened covers, and, last but not least, CD's come with both issues... can't remember what the 2nd ish CD is all about but the first one is made up of truly excellent field recordings done throughout the Seattle Park System by one Yann Novak. Keep in mind, none of these features (besides the CD) looks too deeply or too long at its subjects, but if you'd like to at least dip your pinky toe in a bunch of worthwhile stuff, Ong Ong will work for you... ah, and then there's Phase! Mag, from Greece, the greatest 6-page music zine with hardly anything in it ever published. Because what IS in it is usually some awesome pix and art, maybe a list of some rad things on one page, and maybe one other page with any text at all, maybe something like a paragraph on a Magik Markers show, or a short interview with someone amazing (like Charlie Ward of Stomach Ache records himself, etc.)LITERARY SPECIAL TO BE CONTINUED....?....?....?

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