Zine Reviews Vol. 3 No. 1, 2004
By Louis Rastelli
Speck is a pretty classic type of music/ personal zine. The 10th issue has some band interviews (Would-be-goods, Phantom Limbs, Beef Terminal & others), a fair bit of the editor’s likes and dislikes about current music, overhyped bands, 80s revivalism etc., a fun story about working at a video store and a pretty good zine and music review section. Find out more at speckfanzine.0catch.com or mail Speck, 252, 2780 Cooperative Way, Vancouver BC V5M 4S3.
Pictogram(me), From Quebec City, this nicely presented bilingual silkscreen-cover zine comes with a 19-song CD comp and deals primarily with music. There are interviews with North of America and The Shins, CD reviews and articles on Jandek and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. There’s also a short story, sketches, photos and comics for good measure. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lickety Split is a sex-oriented zine from Montreal. Its 80 horizontal pages are wrapped with a silkscreened cover designed by Sherwin Tjia (other graphics include Mavreas, Rollo, Eric Hanson and an anonymous Tijuana Bible artist). While there are nude photos and stories & poems revolving around getting laid, there isn’t much that can be considered hardcore here. But that’s OK: it’s still fun to read well-written narratives of Plateau living (& loving) by talented writers such as Alexis O’Hara, Jen Anisef, Mark Harris and yours truly; interviews (sort of) with local bands Pony Up!, Wolf Parade, Holy Moly and Candy Ass; and a reader-voted list of 125 “highly fuckable” people. Not sure if this first issue is still in print, but a new one is forthcoming, and submissions are always welcome. Streeteaters Productions, Box 1783 Stn. H, Montreal Que. H3G 2N6, or email email@example.com.
Matrix Magazine, a long-running literary mag from Montreal, presents us with its music issue. Some pieces, like Joe Ollman’s comic chastising major label greedheads and Rob Allen’s paean to vinyl, would fit perfectly in this Fish Piss’ music section; most of the other music-themed material is more experimental, such as a dissection of cheesy pop songs by several local writers, a categorized list of band names, poems by Buck 65, Hawksley Workman and Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and more. The usual reviews, local poetry and a bonus 2-pager by Billy Mavreas round out this 67th issue. For more info, see alcor.concordia.ca/~matrix .
Streeteaters no. 23, $2 + post. This issue (along with a couple new ones that came out since) are really two zines in one: the top two inches can be detached to make a handy quotation book. Underneath, there’s poetry by editor Paula Bellina and others, complaints about a teaching job, a short story by Jessica Murphy and a fun serialized story with each installment written by someone different. Few local zines have ever lasted so many issues, and there’s no sign of letting up yet. They’re always looking for more submissions, too: Box 1783 Stn. H, Montreal Que. H3G 2N6 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pouèt-cafëe No. 8, $5 + post., 6595 St-Hubert, C.P. 59019, Montreal Que. H2S 3P5, www.webzinemaker.com/pouet-cafee. Mainly poetry here, also short stories and a useful guide to other places poets can publish. (I think this zine takes submissions, too.) This issue features comics by Dalton Sharp as well. Always nicely produced with recycled paper, this issue is also bound with string.
Symbiosis Magazine no. 2, $5 + post. This colourful new zine from Toronto leans towards the conspiratorial and philosophical. This “One Page Bible” issue has articles on the Kabbalah, the Church of Odin, Incidentalism, Neoism, the New Gospel According to Egypt, Frater Albertus, immortality and more, plus many strange graphics and arcane symbol guides. There’s also a nice collage by Scott Ellis and comics by Dylan Studebaker (some of which first ran in Fish Piss back in 1996. Hey Dylan, when are you going to do something new?) email@example.com.
Make Every Minute Count, $2 (?) + post., Puck, 4819 Springfield Ave., Philadelphia PA 19143, firstname.lastname@example.org. A political/ personal zine with really nice graphics and layout, I especially liked the account of punks mounting a “forest defense” action in the summer of 2003, and of an action by the Prometheus Radio Project. Presumably being one of the “Anarchist People of Color,” Puck provides insights from that perspective, writing about a conference by that name from 2003 and the Afropunk movie. A good sense of the scene in Philly is conveyed, and the appeal of our local music heroes is summed up in his line, “My head is full of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and I feel lonely in a comfortable, mellow way.” Overall, it’s very nice to see serious issues written about in such a casual and readable manner. Who says perzines always have to be “me me me”?
Unnamed local zine, No. 2, 52 pgs. + cassette! $3 (Can. or US) c/o Warren, 5912 St. Urbain, Montreal, Que. H2T 2X5. Tons of great stuff here for the cheap price, not least is the cassette. The first ish featured songs by oddly-named bluesmen; this one starts with the Alphabetical Four and continues with a gospel quartet for each letter of the alphabet (except X.) Liner notes are included in the zine, as are photos, drawings by Matt Moroz and others, Camilla Ingr on how to make marmalade, fun quotes overheard at the office and some pretty weird stories and poetry.
Lysergically Yours, Frank Duff’s first book, published in partnership with No Media Kings. As the title indicates, LSD figures large in this story, which I found engaging and written with convincing realism—at least, when it concerned small-time University acid dealers. It gets harder to follow when cops, gangsters, murder, and U.S. soldiers get involved, and principal characters end up in Korea and Kazakhstan. Then again, maybe on the right drugs it all makes perfect sense… For info: www.nomediakings.org or frankduff.com.
Montreal’s Joey Dubuc delivers in Neither Either Nor Or a convincing spoof (tribute?) to the “choose your own adventure” books from the 60s and 70s. (They can also currently be found in the form of Tylenol-sponsored “Ouch Adventures” in skate shops.) In Joey’s world, reader can navigate an impressive array of paths to make it to one of 15 possible endings, flipping back and forth through the book (which is nicely illustrated by the author as well.) The journey is always strangely bereft of companions (besides the odd ghost or business-minded bat), though adequately filled with pop-culture references and the kind of paint-by-numbers descriptiveness particular to these books (and to role-playing game manuals, for that matter.) Will you cheat death, or, if not, will it come in a capsized canoe, at the bottom of a cliff, or “towards the bottom of the page” (page 35)? The choice is all yours… (100 pg. paperback, Conundrum Press, $11.95 US, home.ican.net/~conpress, Box 55003 Fairmount, Montreal Que. H2T 3E2).
Also published by Conundrum, Cherry by Winnipeg’s Chandra Mayor is a novella recounting life on the streets and in rooming houses through a succession of very short scenes, stories, character sketches, letters and news clippings. Drug overdoses, fires, rapes, beatings, run-ins with the law, pregnancies, fleeting pleasures and romances and all manner of overindulgence are recounted in a tone and language whose refinement, to my mind, often dulls the dramatic potential of the material. Though still very engaging and ultimately a page-turner, I think a more diary-like tone here would have elicited more empathy for the characters. Also helpful would have been more straight dialogue and less italicized he said/ she said lines, which all seem spoken in the same voice no matter who’s talking. Perhaps an overzealous editor is to blame for this; still, I ended up wanting to read more from this author, who could turn a fraction of the scenes described here into several novels of much-needed accounts of the hard lives of Canada’s still-ballooning population of street youth.
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