Me and Bruce (And my Dad) - www.coolschmoolzines.blogspot.co.uk
Bruce lovin' not necessary here, as Holly Casio's buoyant energy shines through so resoundingly that this zine will draw you in whatever your feelings on the man. Personally, I left the zine wanting to write to Holly and ask her to make me a Bruce Springsteen compilation tape!
I love the honesty and the slant that Holly has chosen to write with here - it's so unique, yet represents many themes that others can relate to. She recounts what a comfort Bruce's music was to her at university when she felt alienated for not being from the same sort of background as others she encountered - especially within the queer and feminist scenes, to the point where she felt the need to cover up a bit to fit in. She draws parallels between Bruce's poor upbringing and her own, and how Bruce's songs are often about working class anger (hard work, low pay, feeling trapped in crummy jobs in small towns), and she looks to her dad's factory job, its long hours, how bad it is for his health, how he is still in that job now, but how her dad rocks and goes to gigs at night (her dad sounds cool). She finds in Bruce's songs she can feel the characters' desperate need for adventure and escape - and the sentiments and the big loud choruses are so freeing.
I love that Holly has also made a comic about Bruce and sent it to him! I should also mention that this zine is in nice, old school zine style, with typewriter-y font and cut up text with simple photo/collage layout, and that Holly is a 90s zinester.
Moving down to London from a small northern town, Holly still feels a sense of adventure about being in a big city, having left smalltown life behind (smalltown life that wouldn't accept her being queer). I think a lot of people will relate to how Holly feels priveleged to be here and as if she doesn't quite belong, and how she might be grown up now, but is still poor, and still finds formally academic speak about queer and feminist politics alienating. I'll leave you with this quote from the zine:
'For those that read the Guardian and have credible record collections, and go to farmer's markets and have brunch, then you can get away with listening to Bruce Springsteen's and thinking of his songs as nothing more than quaint stories and characters for your record collection. But for a lot of people those songs are a reflection of their lives.'
Clod Magazine - http://www.hightown.org.uk/
Issue 24 and Luton's finest Clod magazine is still going strong. If you've never heard of it, it's a bit of a sin, as it is in a league of its own with its pulp-magazine style approach. It's crammed with loads of cut up text, lots of silly messsing about, and so much cleverly witty satire.
They sell this zine at the ICA in London, which is always a good reminder for me to buy it, when I am browsing the magazine racks there.
It's produced by an older generation, and it makes for unique reading because new zines are often written by young people. So there is that original zine approach, and it's a bit different.
I love that Clod is from Luton and that the guys that make it fondly take the piss out of the place, but at the same time are trying to put something artistic back.
If you like made up speech cut out of loads of different magazines/newspapers, stuff that is surreal and that'll genuinely have you laughing aloud on a boring journey or at work, I recommend Clod.
Best article this issue had to be the one about social networking. Why do we do it when it is full of: narcissists, fraudsters, celebrity murderers, kidnappers, and terrorists ! ('Who invented this? I think they should know what a lousy interface they have made.') How you have to keep updating or people will think you are dead: 'You can't stand still now that you have started... You need to be revised, on a weekly basis, at least... You are basically working for an employer who does not pay you! You get no lunch breaks, and to make things even more humiliating, that employer happens to be you!' I was nearly falling over laughing on the commuter train when I read about the alternatives that we supposedly had before internet social sites: putting newer and newer photographs of yourself in a scrapbook, sending photos of yourself to complete strangers in the post, asking lager monsters in the pub to threaten you, etc etc!
Attempt to do the 100 things before your dead list (e.g. smash up a toast machine, join an orchestra), and download the reworked version of America by Simon and Garfunkel - the lyrics are all about bizarre food.
Scary Hairy - firstname.lastname@example.org
If, like me, you are often cautious of comic zines and prefer perzines, I recommend this as the best of both worlds! This is a brilliant feminist zine about body hair and perceptions of how women should be, generally.
The author came to terms with her family reacting negatively to her having her unshaved legs and armpits, to the point where she started to cover up when she would visit them. But she came to realise it wasn't right being herself, and so she would show her hair more than ever. The cartoons are cute, and the sentiments are spot on. You know when someone writes out something that you had only been feeling but hadn't quite expressed aloud or put into words? Well, I felt exactly that way about Scary Hairy. I have been thinking a lot about 'mens' clothes and 'womens' clothes, and conventions and assumptions, and negative judgements. What the author writes about how men can walk with confidence because typical men's clothing is practical, whereas women's clothing is restrictive or revealing, needs shouting from the rooftops. Why can't we walk with freedom of movement, and without consciousness, or fear of our bodies being so looked at, and men can? But then there is the catch 22 situation, as the author puts it, if she wears comfortable clothes, which happen to be men's clothes, then: 'Is there anything wrong with that? Freedom of choice, right? Either I dress like a woman and be uncomfortable, or I dress like a man? What a terrible exchange is that!' There is also a lot of history and connotations about power to men's clothing, and it was really great to see someone writing about this too.
I also appreciated the cartoons about trying to explain your choices to little kids, when they have been force fed by the media (and sometimes parents/family, because of patriarchy) sexist notions, so they are confused or scared by you. Some good explosions of the myth of 'feminist' as a label, and fun cartoon strips about being who you want to be, also make this a fantastic feminist perzine.
Band T-Shirt - vanessaberryworld.wordpress.com
There aren't enough music zines around, in my opinion. I was thrilled to come across this one, as it is an idea that appeals to me, and possibly even the kind of zine I would myself make! It's all about band t-shirts, and each band t-shirt is listed with a story detailing the memories and emotions connected to when the t-shirt was bought, and what the wearer remembers about that time of her life. I love it!
This zine comes all the way from Australia, which is also interesting to me, as I used to have pen pals from there - probably from around the same time in the 90s when the author writes/remembers about. One of these pen pals was a Cure fan, and here we have a story about a bootleg Cure t-shirt. The author also mentions The Hummingbirds, and I recall a pen pal sending me a tape of theirs.
The zine is a nice square shaped zine, a size and shape that isn't done so much, and I like the way the band t-shirts are all drawn carefully by hand, and it is not just photos - tiny little figures of band members and everything.
I think you'll be hooked on this zine even if you don't necessarily like all the bands written about, as it's more the theme and the fandom here. But for your interest, some of the bands included here are: The Pixies, The Cure, The Birthday Party, The Cananes, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and Bauhaus. The reminiscing about being a teenage goth is familiar ground to me too.
Good Fuzzy Sounds - thesimonmurphy @ yahoo.com
Music geeks will love this zine. I don't know of any other zines that are centred around one particular guitar pedal, or just guitar pedals in general. I'm interested in all things technical about music, and this zine acts as a great tutorial to the fuzz pedal. There are illustrations of soundwaves, an introduction to the fuzz pedal, a history of the use of fuzz pedal (a good example is it's that sound the guitar in Can't Get No Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones makes). There is a coup of an interview with an early fuzz pedal inventor, Pepe Rush. There is also an interview with a female queer pedal maker, Devi Ever, who discusses the barriers and judgements that women face, as well as discussing the time she was personally commissioned by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins to make his dream pedal - only for him to turn it away in dislike! (his loss). The zine is red ink on blue paper, which I really like. All music enthusiasts will love this zine.
This month's zine reviews were written by Fliss, the lovely lady behind SW Zines - thanks!