Are you old enough of a person to remember reading zines? I once wrote a song about them, but I can’t find the demo now. I will have to rewrite it, if it’s worth it. I think so. Zines were tiny self published magazines, sometimes very small and like a bunch of Xeroxed pages with a staple in the middle to make a book, sometimes glossy and with pictures laid out like a real magazine, although these were rarer. The pages with the staples were more common, and came out fairly regular, with blurry type that sometimes disappeared into the crease, and so you would have to finish sentences on your own.
There were really some fantastic zine writers. One was the guy who did a small paged zine called Pathetic Life, amazing and sad and wholly addictive. He was great with words and I wonder if he has a blog now. I hope so. He ate a lot of ramen noodles and was in love with another writer who was also a dancer and they had a painful relationship. He had issues with depression which were similar to mine and I think that when you read about other people’s suffering and they have wound words around their wounds like a bandage that it can be healing, both to the writer and the reader. It’s like going to a word hospital.
There was another about stalking Henry Thomas, and I read that one and then would see Henry around town at shows and ask him if he knew about it and he did and was amused and excited. I felt like a roving reporter for that zine because I would report back to the author of it and she would publish my findings in the following issues. I can’t remember if we corresponded through the mail or actually spoke on the phone. I think we did a bit of both. Isn’t that weird? Communication through snail mail. We all managed it. Years and years of letters and postcards and notes – slowly, poetically, people talked to each other that way. They read each other’s writing and wrote back.
My friends Pleasant and Iris put out a zine which completely spoke to me – Puppet Terror, all about fear of ventriloquist dummies and dolls and all kinds of puppets. They had a tshirt and everything. This was a real magazine, a sophisticated publication, with glossy pages and photos of all the different terrible manifestations of puppets and dolls and things you could animate yourself but also had the potential of self animation that was so goddamned scary.
Blogs now replace the zines, but I can’t say I have found the same connection to them as I did with the zines. Perhaps it’s the way that I would have to order the zines from Factsheet Five, or actually go buy them at Tower Records or Amok – and so there was a waiting period, maybe like the several days you must wait after you purchase a handgun until you can actually fire it. I wonder if that firearm waiting period is a crime deterrent. I think it would make you want to shoot more, the time passing causing your desire to build, just like waiting for the zines made them infinitely more readable.
I never made a zine myself, never even considered it. The 90s were for me a haze of drugs and anorexia, my rust colored corduroy jeans never hanging loose enough for me on my frame. I read a lot because there was nothing to look at online, it didn’t exist for me at all yet. There were stacks of zines all over my hillside house, which slid across each other during earthquakes and even when the winds would blow harder in Spring and Fall.
Tags: San Francisco