#16, $1 or trade, 8½" x 7½", xeroxed, 28 pgs.
I was initially stoked to get this, despite its obvious shortcomings. I mean, it's a punk zine from Alaska, for Christ's sake, which isn't exactly considered to be a hotbed of punk activity. So I was all ready to laud their efforts in doing a zine (which, judging by the issue number, they've been doing for a while) and give 'em two points for putting forth the effort and taking a shot at creating something. This issue of AK Ink
is essentially a bunch of record and demo reviews, two show reviews about the time the reformed Misfits played in Anchorage, an interview with Joe Escalante of the Vandals, a poem about the Pope, and a crossword puzzle. Sure, all the photos scanned like shit, but I've published shitty photos in my zine before. And the writing is pretty poor and seems mostly done by kids who don't really write often (or at least rarely edit themselves once they're done), but shit, man, it's Alaska and they're doing something. Then I hit the last page, where they had some guy named "Love Nut" write out some "Horrorscopes." Call me a PC reactionary or an uptight prick, but I'd strongly suggest you don't close out your zine with little gems like "VIRGO: Extra horny today, eh? Dem sluts are taking all your child support money. No sweat scum fuck, today you will traffic a huge crack sale and may even get your dick sucked who knows? But make sure and stay away from dem whores on the 25th if you don't want aids." Textbook example of one dipshit ruining the party for everyone. Fuck this zine. -Keith Rosson (AK Ink, PO Box 244235, Anchorage, AK 99524)
ALL AMERICAN WHITE TRASH BITCH, $7, 5½" x 8", 69 pgs.
Handmade beer carton cover (you can tell by looking on the inside cover). That was cool. But fuck, man, I can't tell if this guy's poetry is seriously sarcastic left, left, left wing get-you-to-think shit, or the truthfully racist working-class, let's-hate-the-government-cuz-I'm-dirt-poor-white-trash bullshit I loathe and despise. The disclaimer reads: "Nothing in this book is true or real. Just a self-serving delusion. A coincidence..." So then he starts the poetry by talking shit on liberal hippies and how he would beat them "like an Islamic extremist's wife, then unload (his) 2nd amendment into (their) socialist psyche." The very next page has an inscription: "Go hug your kids." Ok...? And then he talks shit about big money America and how the plastic flags he saw stuck under a trashcan were probably more comfortable down there. And, well, no need to continue. I'm not so sure what to make of this. I guess (white) psych majors might dig it. Otherwise, don't waste your $7. (SEVEN DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have got to be kidding me. That beer carton was gonna go to waste anyway. And it's not like you're not gonna buy that 12-pack, now is it, you all-American white trash bitch?) Unless you're a prisoner, then it's free. -Mr. Z
(William Bryan Massey III, PO Box 2044, Fort Worth, Texas 76113)
ARYAN ALIEN, 8½" x 11", 10 pgs., $1
Hmm. It says it's "a series of photographs proving the existence of this hybrid master race," and it's a bunch of collages of stuff like Hitler's head on an alien's body and alien heads on Nazi bodies. Not to begrudge anybody, but I have no idea who this would appeal to, unless you or somebody you know wants to relive the glory days of when you first figured out how to steal copies from Kinko's. Maybe if there was an explanation of the connection between Nazis and aliens, this wouldn't seem so completely out of left field. -Josh (Aryan Alien, 21620 Hoffman, St. Clair Shores, MI 48082)
BLACK VELVET #43, $7, 8½" x 12", offset glossy, 36 pgs.
Yowch. Sort of a wanna-be Spin from the UK. Full-color glossy cover and inside pages. The coverage seems to be a mix of (mostly emo pop) bands from England that I've never heard of, and (mostly shitty emo pop) bands from the States that I have heard of and wouldn't touch with a stool-encrusted lance. I have no desire to read interviews, record reviews, or show reviews about Eighteen Visions, Sugarcult, Hoobastank, Sebastian Bach, Bon Jovi or Midtown. I feel vaguely bad bagging on something that people have put so much effort into, but this thing fucking reads and looks like one of those glossy 8" x 10" promos that's been frighteningly morphed into magazine form. Black Velvet probably has a potential audience, but I've got a pretty good feeling said audience is not the same as those who read Razorcake. -Keith Rosson (Black Velvet, 336 Birchfield Rd., Webheath, Ridditch, Worcs. B974NG England)
CHAIRMEN OF THE BORED #24, $?, 8½" x 11", copied, 44 pgs.
Another issue of COB comes to us via three dudes locked up via the California Penal System. More cut and paste wackiness, collages, contributions from a few other prisoners, and interviews with Ryan of Mishap zine and a band (I think they're a band, they never quite make it clear) called High Octane. Again, the zine's heavily reliant on type- and handwritten stuff, coupled with a lot of text and images culled from magazines. Ryan Mishap would kill me if I bagged on a prison zine too hard, and with good reason: I'd imagine it's not a locale that exactly nurtures and inspires creative output, especially a zine. So the fact that these cats are doing this at all, and for as long and consistently as they have, should be applauded. That said, I've probably read five issues of this zine and it's never really come close to hitting the mark with me. It's based pretty deep in a juvenile mindset, there's not a lot of substance, and the interviews asked mostly ridiculous questions about bunnies and what the interview subject's favorite issue of COB is. I mean, the dudes in High Octane freely talk about being Five Percenters and refer to oppressive people as "devils": that's interesting, but instead, the COB guys ask them questions about rabbits. For me, it was just too heavy on the inside jokes and full-page collages and lacked any kind of depth or resonance. Reminds me quite a bit, painful as it is for me to say, of the first few zines my friends and I were putting out in middle/high school. -Keith Rosson (Cedric Knowles #K-91158, FSP Box 715071, B2-B1-26, Represa, CA 95671)
FOUND ON ROAD DEAD, 8½" x 5½", 32pgs.
This book of High Life-soaked poetry is bound at the top instead of from the left. Other than that, I could see no real difference between the verse of William Bryan Massey III and his forefather Bukowski. Massey has Bukowski's disjointed stanzas and misogyny down, and he speaks of drink quite reverently. Also, Massey's best poems, like Bukowski's, are about spiders. -Gus (Genuine Lizard Press, PO Box 2044, Fort Worth, TX 76113)
FUTURE BELONGS TO GHOSTS, THE, #4, $1.00, 11½" x 8½", photocopied, 16 pgs. plus 11 ½" x 17" poster
A series of collages, plus an essay on what hardcore has meant in the life of the writers/creators of the zine. The pictures in the collages are all what seem to be watercolors based on photos of live shots of bands/performers, although it's hard to tell because of the photocopying. Still, some interesting images. The essay is interesting, but not very long. The drawings are definitely the focus here, so don't get it if you're more into words than images, and the small size of the pictures makes it difficult to appreciate them. The poster is a lot more interesting, although in the same style. -Brian Mosher (The Future Belongs to Ghosts, PO Box 220651, Chicago, IL 60622)
GREEN ANARCHY, #20, $4, 8½ x 11, offset, 86 pgs.
What can be said about this one that hasn't been said already? Still newsprint, still dense with information, still with a foundation of anti-pacifist direct action. Well over eighty pages and loosely considered their "Spirituality" issue, this one has the standard sections (book reviews, international news regarding state repression and uprising/protests throughout the world, letters, etc.) and new articles this time around that include standard legal tactics used to convict ELF members, the frightening advances of biotechnology, a brief biography of Indian "anti-guru" Jihhu Krishnamurti and his beliefs regarding anarchism and spiritual theory, and tons more - like I said, the issue is dense. I may have said this before, but Green Anarchy is probably best suited for those with a working knowledge in anarchist theory and a keen interest in the "anti-civilization movement." Because there are no cute little slice-of-life "How I Use the Precepts of Anarchy at My Barista Job" vignettes here - these people are serious and the writing verges on the academic most of the time. Due to the simple fact of what it is they're decrying and what it is they're lauding, 95 percent of the contributors here use pen names. So if you're looking for a light bathroom read while you wait for the newest Aaron Cometbus collection to hit the stands, don't come near Green Anarchy. But if you've got enough time, patience, motivation, and willingness to decipher some heady material from a magazine that's subtitled "An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action," then grab this one up and get your thesaurus ready. -Keith Rosson (Green Anarchy, PO Box 11331, Eugene, OR 97440)
L.A SCENE REPORTER, #16, one stamp, 8½" x 5½", copied, 8 pgs.
Not much different from the last issue, but I imagine consistency is kind of the point. Show listings for the Los Angeles area, band news, a review of an outdoor swap meet right off the Metro line, a few short show reviews, some ads, and some more clip art. Again, it's a networking tool, and I applaud their dedication, but if you're looking for substance, look elsewhere. However, if you're in the L.A. area and want to hit some shows at smaller venues, then grab this up. -Keith Rosson (Nick G., 312 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014)
LEFT BACK, #5, 5½" x 8½", photocopied, 28 pgs.
This is another good one from the folks at Fanorama distro. It's a combination of classic surrealist artwork with the author's poems and essays: the whole package is a fascinating look inside one man's journey to discover some worthwhile truth inside himself. He obviously draws a lot of inspiration from art (from Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy and others), but to me the images in his poems are even more striking. Definitely worth a stamp or two. -Brian Mosher (Fanorama Zine Distro, 109 Arnold Avenue, Cranston, RI 02905 - or contact the author: Chad Beverlin, #424-439, PO Box 1812, Marion, OH 43301-1812)
MEAT MARKET, #8, 5½" x 8½", 72 pgs.
This is a tour diary written by David, the guitar player from J Church. It covers four separate tours that he did with them, including one to Japan and one to England. It's not very cohesive - mostly just random thoughts and observations - but it was interesting to see how being away from his wife and daughter took such a harsh toll on him, even to the point where it doesn't seem like he enjoyed being on tour at all. And I guess he didn't, because on the first page, he says that he won't be going on any more tours with J Church. -Josh (David DiDonato, 6200 Haney Dr., Austin, TX 78723)
MOTION SICKNESS, $2.00, 8½" x 4½", photocopied, 27 pgs.
This is a great collection of poetry and pencil drawings by Carolyne Whelan. The opening essay deals with her recent move to Boston from NYC. The poems are about a variety of topics, but all seem to engender a feeling of isolation and of being adrift in the world. She talks about traveling around the U.S.A., and about ending up in Boston in language full of vivid images and easily accessible, but very deep, ideas. Did I say it was great? It is. -Brian Mosher (Whelan, 22 Boynton St #3, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130)
POCKETFUL OF CHANGE, #2, Free if you can find it or $3.00 ppd., 8½" x 11", glossy cover, newsprint, 32 pgs., plus a CD featuring several of the reviewed bands
Well done collection of interviews (Blood or Whiskey, Clit 45, Grabass Charlestons, The Spunks) and a whole bunch of reviews of CDs, books and zines. I especially enjoyed the interview with the Spunks, a Japanese Punk band from NYC. The bonus CD features The Hatepinks, Grabass Charlestons, Public Access, and more (Thirteen tracks, thirteen bands). The book and zine reviews focus on publications that promote a DIY and/or anarchist lifestyle, like The Black Flag of Anarchy" and "Tearing Down the Streets - Adventures in Urban Anarchy." -Brian Mosher (Pocketful of Change, 1005 N 36th St #2, Seattle, WA 98103, www.pocketfulofchange.com)
POOR AND FORGOTTEN, #22, $1(or stamps. or trade), 2pgs.
A folded page of thoughts and writings from Matt, who is currently serving some time in prison. Considering that, it's pretty impressive that he was able to do all of this. I thought maybe somebody else had done the interview with Broken, but sure enough, Broken express their hope for Matt's parole towards the end of it. Also included is pretty good explanation of why it's a good thing to support prisoners, what with them being held hostage by the state and all. And a wordsearch! Yeah! Wordsearches rule! -Gus (Matt Johnson, PO Box 59, Linwood, MA 01525)
SKYSCRAPER, #19, 8½" x 11", 182 pgs., $4.99
The last issue of Skyscraper that I read was the one a few years back that had an interview with Lyle Preslar of Minor Threat. It was a pretty cool interview, if for no other reason than he's the guy from Minor Threat who never really did anything after they broke up and he never really gets interviewed. Most of the other bands in that issue didn't really interest me that much, and I could say that about most of the bands in this issue as well. The music coverage is similar to the newer bands that The Big Takeover covers; to me, it just seems like stuff that people turn to when they want to "outgrow" punk rock but don't want to turn to Top 40 radio. That's not to say that there's no overlap between my taste and theirs, because they actually cover a few really cool bands like the Hold Steady, Coliseum, and Big Business, and hell, they even gave Nine Shocks Terror a good review, but for the most part, I just wouldn't be interested in a lot of this stuff. To be honest, though, pretty much all I'm looking for from most music magazines is something to read on the can, and if you feel the same way, then Skyscraper will keep you busy for a long time. -Josh (Skyscraper, PO Box 4432, Boulder, CO 80306)
SLUG, #198, free, 8½ x 11
A local publication of the Salt Lake City area, Slug is an eclectic mag that zeroes in on various aspects of underground culture, including music, writing, art, and dance to name a few. The featured interview is with the Nekromantix, and there are some other interesting bits with belly dancers and cab drivers. However, none of these items really held my attention because there tends to be a lack of depth to the coverage of these topics, and so much of it is localized. If you live in the area, this would be a great little publication, especially since an inordinate amount of space is devoted to local artistic efforts, but I live under a rock in Kalamazoo, so there was a lack of relevance to much of it. -The Lord Kveldulfr (351 W. Pierpont Ave., Suite 4B, Salt Lake City, UT 84101)
SNAKEPIT #13, $2, 8½" x 5½", offset, 32 pgs.
Oh my God! In this issue, Ben Snakepit moves to the foot of Mount Shasta, takes up residency in a monastery, and devotes his life to translating Herman Hesse's massive archives of letters and unpublished manuscripts! Okay, just kidding. Furthest thing from the truth, in fact: Ben's still just doing what he does, full-steam. Getting drunk, touring, partying, working at the video store, smooching gals and puking every once in a while. The beginning of the zine (for those folks not in the know, Snakepit consists of a three-panel comic that documents every day of Ben's life) starts out with him touring with J Church in Europe. Now, granted, I don't know the whole story; I don't know how long they'd been touring before this issue started, and I have no idea what it's like to tour for a month or more in another country. So maybe I should keep my mouth shut. That said, though - shit, Ben, you're in frickin' Europe, dude. You're in a band on tour. You're actually getting paid to play music to people that want to hear you play. In Europe. I understand about being homesick and all that, but I just don't understand it when Ben seems to complain almost constantly about the quality of the shows they play, and the mundanity of driving from squat to squat. It's something so beyond my scope and it's hard to reconcile how someone could be that put off by an experience like that when so few people will ever have the means or opportunity. Though - as Ben himself states in this issue - it's sometimes hard to encapsulate an experience, much less an entire day, in three panels. Anyway, it's still a good read and a brilliant idea, and it's still deceptively captivating and occasionally hilarious. Another good one. -Keith Rosson (Young American Comics, 4409 Illinois St., San Diego, CA 92116)
THOUGHTS OF MY LIBERATION, Free, 5½" x 8½", hand written, photocopied, 10 pgs.
This is a powerful blast of prose from inside the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It's handwritten, but it's neat and readable, and the words are worth reading. Those of us who've never tasted life inside prison tend to take our freedom for granted. Reading this won't really make you understand what it's like to be locked up, but it might make you pause for a moment and appreciate not being locked up. He also lists a bunch of other books and zines he recommends. Get this one. -Brian Mosher (Frederick Fisher, #10447-041, PO Box 1000, Lewisburg, PA 17837)
TRUST, #112, 11" x 8½", offset, 68 pgs.
Shit, I don't even know if I got the address right - this thing's written entirely in German. Nice layout, glossy cover, thick paper, coverage that includes Jello Biafra, Endstand, Breather Resist, Bears vs. Shark, and more. Lots of record reviews and band photos. Judging from the issue number, Trust seems to be a long-standing German version of MRR. Disappointed I can't actually read it. -Keith Rosson (Trust, Postfach 11 07 62, 28087 Bremen, Germany)
WONKAVISION #29, $2.95, 8½" x 11", glossy front and interior, 98 pgs.
Apparently not in any way related to either Johnny Depp or Gene Wilder, nor dealing in any way with either the candy or glass elevator industries, this is, nonetheless, a pretty good read. The editor will have to be forgiven for being a Mets fan, if for no other reason than that the Mets are just so bad. Articles cover a wide variety of subjects, from on-line file sharing to setting up and running a DIY business. A lot of the writing is of the "I went to college so I'm going to throw in as many big words as possible, even if I don't know what they mean" variety, which I find really annoying. But, it looks good. -Brian Mosher (Wonkavision, PO Box 63680, Philadelphia, PA 19147)