Jutchy Ya Ya #48

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free & open to trades
https://theotheradamford.wordpress.com
PO Box 99 Chewton VIC Australia 3451
adamford [at] labyrinth.net.au
I got my copy from Sticky by the doorway

A long running, free eight page zine. It’s now in it’s fifteenth year circulated around the place with all back issues available online. The zinemaker describes it on his site as “…a bit random at times, but it’s well-meant” (which is rather endearing).

The format: Simple, conservative and consistent. It has a literature magazine feel on the inside, but the masthead font gives it the playful child-like feel to indicate it’s not as formal as it appears.

The title: I feel like I have read in a previous issue or something what it’s all about, like it was a random thing the zinemaker’s child said while learning to talk, something like that. Whacky. It’s not some obscure pop culture reference. I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to mean anything.

Update:
Confabulation: Well, that was me making shit up.
Fact from zinemaker in their own words:  “The name was nicked from a David Nichols comic in his Distant Violins zine that has a little bear in love sing a garbled version of “Lady Marmalade”.  Thanks, Adam!

It’s free: Few zines are ever free. It’s kind of hard, in a sense, to review a free zine, because the zine has totally dodged that sense of obligation to meet any kind of set expectation – there was never any transaction involved.

But being a zine, the transaction is as simple as picking a copy up, and you’ve instantly entered someone else’s world who is open to communication and trades and wants to share carefully articulated ideas with you.

Free zines are their own special category. And somewhere out there is a photocopier that’s getting some extra love outside work hours. At least, that’s what I like to think.

The praise is the criticism: I feel conflicted about this zine because it never hurt anyone or did anything stupid and is just a Nice Zine but it still annoys me. Everything that is positive about the zine is also the exact reason I object to it. Let me explain.

The praise: This is a light hearted, funny, often geeky, satirical look at the modern world around us with all its inane advertising, technology fails, funny human nature moments and cultural misconceptions. It’s thoughtful and observant and well informed and usually involves self motivated research. You get to have a little laugh at the whimsy and absurdity of life and then pause philosophically as the final credits list everything from the fonts used, to the traditional custodians of the land the zine was written on. So courteous.

The criticism: It’s light hearted. It’s funny but in a tittering-laughter kind of way where you hold your hand over your mouth with a napkin. It’s thoughtful and observant and well informed but I never feel like anything is ever pushed enough, somehow. I want something more. I want to be genuinely challenged. Jutchy Ya Ya is a little ‘out there’ but never ‘too’ out there. It’s quirky – the worst word I could ever use to describe a zine. It’s irreverent, but the kind of irreverence you would get in polite, genteel company.

For instance: The cover of this issue is a photo of an entrance that has been boarded up and graffitied. Not quite sure where else to go with that except, you know, it’s a funny little irony. It’s an old entry to a former department of forensic medicine. Oh, absurdity of modern life. Hashtag. (Not, ‘urban exploration’ – hashtag). There’s also a promotional graphic promising a free DVD-book if you find a gold pyramid. (random!). And a funny byline beneath the zine title. So it’s got the whole zany thing happening, right here right now.

Inside there’s an article about Beowulf and how it fits into the canon of western literature and how really all these ancient texts are about fighting dragons and epic supernatural phenomenon which is not so dissimilar to the amazing spider man (except of course Beowulf etc is of a much higher calibre). (That’s a direct quote). But you know if this was more widely known then more people would get into it, like the zinemaker’s teenage self. Plus JRR Tolkien’s thoughts on the matter, etc. You can see the geek appeal.

The other writing was a small piece on the etymology of the name of ‘Bendigo’, a regional town in Victoria. Plus a history of the town’s namesake. So all very pleasant and intellectual. And this is intermixed with funny page footers of invented words which often rely on some lame pun, and graphics like a google map screen capture where regional Victoria roads are mapped but then suddenly stop and there’s a “Sorry, No Imagery Here” blank zone. Hilarious. Sigh.

It’s complicated: There’s just something intrinsically safe about this zine that irritates me. And weirdly, somehow and sometimes, the humility of the zine also feels like its smugness. All the positives of this zine are what frustrate me.

-E.P

UPDATE!

Secrets of the Photocopier vs. Jutchy Ya Ya #48

I love this title! The ultimate smack down?! Well, it’s not what you might expect. The zinemaker writes a great response to this review, you gotta go read it immediately

Check it out directly on his site, the Other Adam Ford.
Plus he’s kindly allowed me to reblog, so Secrets Vs Jutchy Ya Ya lives on here. (Thanks, Adam!)

 

Don’t Listen to Them – Smoking Won’t Kill you that fast!

compiled with help from
Vidha Saumya
Ali Akbar
Joey Behrens
pithbull.blogspot.com
bloodbotbookblog.blogspot.com
I did not get mine for $10 from sticky

I refuse: I fell in love with this zine immediately. I was so into it. Then I looked at the back and my heart broke. Ten bucks! This is like a bunch of pages run off on a black and white photocopier. It does not contain gilt edging, perfect binding or painstakingly carved pop ups or laboured hand tinting. Sure, it’s stitch-bound. But not by hand-woven llama hair hand dyed hand by indigenous incas.

But it’s sooo good: – it’s sassy, scrawled, spacey, straggly, subversive and arty with super cool hilarious cut and paste graphics with portrait photos and fantasy vox pops. Here in Australia smoking is a health hazard and consumers are constantly reminded of this with big warning messages on cigarette packs and tv campaigns showing you a doctor poking a dead smoker’s shrivelled lung, etc. So I saw this zine and it was already making me laugh and I’m not even a smoker.

Get It Or Regret It: It’s a mash up of cool collage and line drawings, quotes and one liners, complete with ‘clouds of hope’ and ‘you chill. it kill’. It’s got a genius media and advertising sensibility all through it, a total punk attitude and kick arse carelessness.

…Or Forget It: I had to walk away from this one. Ten bucks. I just refuse to go there. I would pay more like $3. This is an awesome zine, so I’m a little heart broken. I suspect it’s been made by serious artists/freelance illustrators who have a completely different approach to pricing than zinemakers. Which sucks. It’s a bunch of pages through a photocopier, not a precious acid-free, limited edition snowflake off a gallery wall.

Message to the zinemakers:  make more stuff. make it accessible.

-E.P

Accidental Polyamory

no contact details
I got my copy from the zinemaker

A personal account of the zinemaker finding herself in a polyamorous relationship with her long time girlfriend and a new mutual girl friend. The zine talks about the experience and what it all means.

Aesthetic: A basic hit-the-ground-running kinda look. It’s all handwritten, roughish layout, simple cut and paste with a found pattern cover and stencilled writing. It’s a zine at it’s most pure and raw.

Not pretentious: Whenever I hear the word ‘polyamory’ I groan because it’s such a ridiculous word (and/or concept). This zine, however, is written simply and isn’t trying to be anything profound or posturing to some some manifesto. It’s just one person’s account of what it’s like to find yourself in a situation for which there’s “no blueprint”. The zinemaker writes about how it all happened, how the new dynamic was negotiated, and how, three months in, it’s going successfully. It’s just a personal ‘so, this happened!’ kinda story.

Repeat, not political: The zinemaker doesn’t feel defined as a polygamous person in the same way that, say, her lesbian-ness defines her. She doesn’t romanticise polygamy or brand it as some awesome brand new lifestyle everyone should check out. Nor does she think polyamorous relationships are inherently radical, but open to flaws and dysfunction as much as anything else.

Curious: Definitely, polyamorous relationships have that mystique about them because they’re not the society norm. And they must surely be emotionally challenging. It would be cool if the zinemaker did a zine revisiting the situation in twelve months time and then, say, 24 months time to see if the new configuration of the relationship is working, if it’s failed, and/or how it’s informed her ideas on relationships generally. I’d love to know the challenges and how you introduce your two girlfriends to your mum. Are there other zines like this about polyamory out there?

This zine could be better if: Nothing. It’s not trying to be anything it isn’t – this is just personal writing, copied and stapled. This is how you make a zine, people. Unmediated. Honest. Perfecto.

-E.P

Tofu is not vegetarian Volume 2

Jeanette de Foe & Friends
tofuisnotvegetarian(at)lupini.net
I got my copy for $7 from Sticky Institute, 10 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway, Melbourne VIC 3000. I’d link you to their site but in the last few months it’s remained down and/or hacked and/or virussy.  Stop by the shop or maybe approach the zinemaker direct about obtaining a copy.

A personal zine-slash-anthology of accounts and essays about the ethics of vegetarianism – and veganism.

Wow: I found this zine to be truly radical. And I was not prepared for it. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, so when i saw the title of this zine start with the word ‘tofu’ I’ll be honest, my mind wandered and my eyes were already on the next zine. I had moved on. Oh no. You don’t walk on from this title. It’s hammering out so many interesting ideas.

I never expected: to read former vegans call out veganism. This zine is not anti vegan, not at all, but it does call the practice out on a lot of its shit. Which is challenging and provoking and really refreshing in any activist scene. Well any SCENE, period.

Whats right, whats wrong? Make up your own mind. The zinemaker doesn’t want to tell you how to think, it wants to tell you how to question. It’s not militant and it’s not looking to pick a fight.

Here is a zine coming from a genuine desire to create greater discourse. The zinemaker makes that clear right at the beginning: “..I wanted this zine, like the previous things I’ve written, not to be the final word on the topic, but to be starting/continuing a respectful dialogue. On some things I have a resolved position, on others I don’t and maybe never will…”
So reasonable! so moderate! and I like the sense of humility.

The zine itself is kind of an anthology but it really feels like a personal zine that happens to open with mini essay contributions or editorials. Because of the chaos of the layout, they all kind of bleed into each other so all the voices get kind of mixed.

My eyes hurt: the zine itself has been printed on a rizzo with cut’n’ paste text printed in blue ink throughout. There’s cute little line drawings of tofus or mushrooms etc with googly eyes. All good. But the text is cut and pasted against multiple jarring background patterns which are too intense at the scale they’ve been reproduced. They are just hugely distracting, changing with every page and constantly breaking your concentration. I had to visually claw from one sentence to the next, fighting daisies, knives, forks, polka dots, feathers, geometric shapes, corn cobs, carrots, tractors, pigs, geese, and baroque wallpaper designs. It was painful. Let me make this clear to the zinemaker.

Things you’ll be left thinking about:
The cultural meaning and emotional role of food in your life, your friends and family.
How a restricted diet can not only be socially isolating, but isolate those who prepare foods or culturally significant meat-centric meals that cannot be shared with you- (Are you staying true to newfound political ideals or rejecting your own culture? can the values be reconciled or are they inherently contradictory? is this an embodiment of racism?).
Are all indigenous cultures with meatcentric diets necessarily cruel, exploitative or disrespectful to animals?
What do vegan and vegetarian lifestyles set out to achieve and how successful is the practice on a practical level?
Is boycotting effective and does it imply a certain judgement of others? (fairly or unfairly).

You’ll also be thinking about also another element: That of health. Is a restricted diet something that can be done safely amongst all individuals or is it irresponsible to promote a vegan lifestyle as a ‘simple’ healthy alternative?
Are supplements adequately addressing your bodily requirements and is ‘adequate’ good enough for your particular body and needs?Even if you are doing everything right, is your health suffering as a result of your political choices?
And should you politely be excused if you can’t commit to a restricted diet? As if you contain a personal flaw or defect. How do you fit, then?

The zine draws from many stories of life in political activist circles, specifically events or conferences which have involved separate food preparation and eating spaces where the question of tolerance and cultural sensitivities has come into play. In some of the zinemakers experiences, these have lead to open conflict and hostilities that have been poorly managed and ended up creating hurtful divides.

Plus: Theres lots of other aspects to vegan and vegetarian culture and its stereotypes that get explored by the zinemaker and contributing writers. Everything from the assumption that vegetarianism is exclusive to white culture, to reverse cultural appropriation, food hygene, food affordability, sustainability, animal rights, capitalism, and common misconceptions. Some of the arguments are problematic and flawed, some wonderfully articulated, defended, and fully convincing. I guess the important thing is the diversity of the opinions as much as the convergenance of perspectives found here. An utterly refreshing read even for those of us who normally pass up tofu titled zines.

What was Volume 1? I haven’t seen the issue to read it (from 2011) but there’s also a thinner zine by the same maker called ‘Veganism, Racism, Culture and Identity’ still in print. So there’s further reading out there and possibly a volume 3 sometime in the future.

-E.P

To here from Naivety number 6

Pete
wodenpete(at)gmail.com
I got my copy from the zinemaker, you can get yours by contacting them directly.  That doesn’t mean it’s free. It means you can contact them and make enquiries.

A personal zine of stories from the zinemaker’s life and odds and ends (cut outs, comics, articles)

Get this zine for: The opening article/account of the zinemaker of being a ‘workshy’ teenage pizza delivery driver in the 90s, driving his dad’s car around the suburbs of Australia’s capital.

I, at least, have an endless fascination reading about deliveries to suburbs which are later bulldozed. In his first job, the zinemaker learns the mechanisms of the adult workforce. Highly functional (and non functioning) potheads keep the local economy turning. It’s a culture where the most successful driver is also the most ruthless, where your boss will and does take advantage of your meek nature, and where it takes a coworker back at the shop to alert the zinemaker his tyre is flat – he’s been driving around all night blissfully oblivious, immersed in his own depression.

Then there are the delivery addresses: suburbs of unemployment, housing commissions, drugs and ominous baseball bats – areas that other pizza places won’t risk sending their staff. The zinemaker’s coworkers are either said residents of these areas or former teen criminals, who have staged hold ups with steak knives and tried to escape on their BMX bike.

It’s all poverty, eccentricity and… survival. Depressing and amusing at the same time. The environs and stories are more predictable than unpredictable, and more banal than sensational. And that’s the point, that’s the environment. It’s perfectly captured.

The other highlights: ‘Jimmy Waterford Fucks Out On Drugs’. Firstly, great title. Secondly, funny story from the 90s of a guy who thinks he’s dying from a drug overdose. Spoiler: he does not die. And it’s OK to laugh when you read this because it’s pretty funny and I love the insights time allows. Plus, it’s historical! Esctacy was a new drug to Canberra at the time.

Also, the ‘Great Moments in in Canberra Times History’ section. It only consisted of four clippings but they did deliver.

The rest of the zine: The interview with a punk guy who the zinemaker admires is really only of limited punk interest. There’s a write up about the American baseballer who is credited with starting the high five phenomenon which was cool, short and sweet and there’s two comics thrown in to the mix, which I found pretty average.

Aesthetic: Standard fare. Times New Roman, on plain white, nothing too crazy, no real effort to experiment with design. This is fine because the contents are where it’s at, and everything is simple and legible. Garden variety desktop publishing does the job.

Criticism: This zine is maybe a few pages longer than it needs to be. There’s a lot of spaces which felt conspicuous for being empty or just carrying super big font or unneccssarily enlarged material. I couldn’t help thinking a bit of tighter layout could make the whole thing more compact and none of the contents would need to be cut to achieve it.

You should also check out: I first discovered this zinemaker through ‘Better Things To Do’ which is a great docu-read about the Canberra punk scene  in the 90s.

-E.P

Piltdownlad #10

Behind the Wheel: A Lyft Driver’s Log

Kelly Dessaint
piltdownlad(at)gmail.com
PO Box 22974 Oakland CA 94609 USA
kellydessaint.com/piltdownlad
I got my copy from the zinemaker, you can get yours online here or by contacting the zinemaker directly.

A zine about ridesharing for Lyft in San Fran from the perspective of a driver.

You need this: Because it’s interesting to know about ridesharing in San Francisco, what it’s like to move to a new city, cram new street configurations into your head and open your car door to facebook profile thumbnails on the street. And how the zinemaker hopes nobody will puke in his car. And how he tries to, you know, make a living in the new millennium. And keep his average online rating above 4.8 stars. And be nice. There’s a lot going on. And it’s all thoroughly engaging.

Aesthetic: Smart graphic cover art with strong font choices. It’s a text heavy zine, but nicely broken up into sections with screen grabs and cool street grid maps with carefully typewritten nomenclature. It’s beautifully done.

Not included: The crazy price (and culture) wars currently being battled out between Lyft and Uber at the time of writing this. But the zinemaker has you covered, because he’s reporting from the front line from his blog ‘Behind the Wheel: A rideshare confessional’

You may miss: Subtleties of the culture of ridesharing apps (specially for someone like myself outside the U.S).

There are some little things referenced in the zine but not necessarily spelt out. For instance, the zinemaker mentions giving an obligatory fistbump to one of his passengers as they leave his car. He doesn’t mean ‘obligatory’ in a social exchange hipster kind of way. He means obligatory because, as a Lyft driver? it’s protocol. I seriously thought the zinemaker was just trying to politely reciprocate. Not so. #branding!

The zine also mentions prime time surges. Not understanding it won’t detract from your enjoyment of the zine, but for those who are curious, check out this great explanation from Planet Money’s podcast, it seems to be a unique aspect of ridesharing.

That’s awkward: San Fran is a city of tech start ups and programmers. The zinemaker romanticices a former San Fran that no longer exists and resents the changes that have displaced the locals, the same changes that have forced him to rent in Oakland (the consolation prize address). Of course, he’s a newcomer as much as anyone else and is earning his living off a rideshare app developed by the young professionals responsible for all the gentrification. The irony is not lost on him, but it’s still a messed up dynamic without any kind of…resolution.

But maybe this is the new common working man: Someone who wants what everyone else has. A new millennium petite bourgeois. And the zinemaker does genuinely struggle as a casual driver living from one ride to the next, resenting those rewarded by the new economy. This is the new class war.

Read it for yourself: If nothing more it’s great voyeuristic reading, and personally I love this zinemaker’s writing. There’s the sociological scratching there if you want it –  either way, it’s an endless stream of observations and passing streetscapes and ducking and weaving traffic. This is a story still evolving – and a promised ‘part two’ to this zine. Watch this guy. The whole Piltdownlad zines series is highly recommended. Cannot reiterate that enough.

-E.P

Tour de Croc

or Cycle Touring from Cairns to Cape Tribulation with someone you wish would be your girlfriend

Ania
midnightsnackbrigade[@]gmail.com
I got my copy for AUS$3 from Sticky
you can get yours there too or by contacting the zinemaker

A zine of practical travel tips as well as a personal account of cycle touring with a non romantic companion in northern Australia for a month.

Three ways to interpret the title:
Tour de Croc: A cycling tour whereby croc shoes are being worn or sighted.
croc1
A cycling tour whereby crocodiles are being sighted. (and who knows maybe also end up being worn, aka Romancing The Stone).
croc2
Or a cycling tour de crock. As in a piss take of tour de france and crock of shit.
croc3
All three work for me.
In retrospect I realise the title probably refers to crocodiles. Northern Queensland and all.

More this and less that: The zine is a hybrid of ‘renegade camping’ travel advice for cyclists following this particular route. AND,  its a personal story of getting out of Melbourne and leaving heartbreak behind while entering a new kind of awkward love dynamic. It’s not as deeply personal as what I was expecting and its much more practical: Like a lonely planet guide but by zinemakers with a post colonial political slant. I wasnt really taking notes for the best sleep stops or the estimated kilometres per cycling stretch. Instead I was turning the pages for the personal dynamics and travel descriptions; like the occasional encounter with the local population which absolutely involves some kind of culture clash or mythological aura. Theres a list of things to pack and advice about drinking plenty of water. Even the slang that gets mentioned comes with an asterick and an explanation. The only thing missing is a free rubber tyre patch with every issue. I like that about this zine. You feel like the maker is going to reach out and smudge some sunscreen on your nose in between pages.

Makes you proud to be an Australian: A highlight of this zine is that
the classic ’80s australian beach bums nudie girls postcard that gets sent through the post is later restaged by the zinemaker and travelling companion, their own butts also sent though the post as a diy photo postcard. Celebrate that butterfly tatt!

Aesthetic: A scrap book approach of travel photos, maps, signs, found images and vintage bits and pieces all presented in the classic cut and paste mix of typewritten and desktop publishing.

Fantastic terms I learned from reading this zine:
Post-couch: Describing an evolved lifestyle that has moved past traditional domesticity and involves having a mattress on the lounge room floor.
Mansplainers: Men who feel compelled to explain things to females assuming they need help or would benefit from well intentioned intervention, a female who may not realise she needs advice and is getting it anyway. Being a member of the fairer sex and all.
Crank arm: A cool term on the bike diagram at the back.

I Am A Camera 17: Sydney

Vanessa Berry
I got mine at the OtherWorlds zine fair several months ago…
you can get yours for $7.50 from the zinemaker on etsy
or contact her directly
vanessaberryworld(at)gmail.com
Po Box 1879
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Australia

This is the 17th issue of an ongoing personal zine series that started in 1999 and now comes out annually. #17 is a self contained zine of Sydney as an everchanging city according to the zinemaker’s childhood, teens and adulthood.

The danger with this zine is: everything can collapse in on itself under its own weight. There are so many words and descriptions and moments and careful articulation of old signs and house fronts and interconnecting landscapes and phone directories and doll parts in dirt and shadows and dreams that the whole experience of reading this zine strains the structural underpinnings of the writing. The documentation of everything can become overwhelming, and buries you under so many bricks and dust and interlocking eras and nostalgia.

The unspoken: Like other writing by the zinemaker, this issue is a collage of autobiographical moments and the small particulars of landscapes, where all details are impressed with great personal importance. Its the ideosyncratic style of the zinemaker’s creative concerns and means of communicating. And yet – she has an evasive way of being personal. For all the personal significance ascribed to things, there is little real personal ‘revelation’. Material descriptions stand in for deeper emotional tones not necessarily for public show, and the writing sometimes feels aloof and codified, like a private diary that’s been carefully censored.

Sometimes I find this frustrating: I find myself with little emotional investment in what I’m reading. Alternatively I’m motivated to press on because Just Occasionally something deeply personal is shared within this person’s zines. And when this happens, its articulated so effectively and with such impact, that such a segment of what is someone else’s life stays in my mind forever.

That captured my imagination: the description and mythology surrounding the iconic ‘tip house’ in St Peters, a two storey weatherboard on the edge of a local tip, located between the tip entrance itself and a yard of metal drums. Instant cinematic image right there. The zinemaker and her friends imagine the residence as the last frontier before civilisation crumbles. In a broader sense, this whole zine is about chronicling iconic landmarks and minor urban details in the landscape that seem both eternally vulnerable and yet are apparently fixed in the constructed environment forever – until one day they’re gone, as if they never existed at all.

Overall aesthetic: a perfectly presented zine with beautiful simple DIY line drawings of houses and architectural details. They delicately punctuate sections of text within the zine, illustrating landmarks mentioned, and collect on the warm beige cover in a dreamy risograph palette of reds, oranges and pinks. Some zines have a throwaway feel, never intended to be fetishised, bit here is a zine that requires dignified handling that you wont want to damage in any way.

Bonus: The zine comes with three A3 riso printed maps (not shown here), one for Dulwich Hills, one for Sydney as of the mid 80s and one as of the late 1990s. They are not annotated street maps, they are various important features loosely connected between vague lines for streets which join things such as fibro houses, greek sweet shops, the legendary tip house, fibreglass dinosaurs, powerlines, libraries and water towers. These maps are fantastic because they are mind drawings with icons, not overbearing in detail, with plenty of white space and the ability for your eyes to wander leisurely. They compliment the zine perfectly but they also work as stand-alone manuscripts. The tragedy is that because they are loose leaf and unattached to the zine, they are cumbersome and almost immediately losable. (I lost mine amongst other papers more than once). (Maybe this says more about me….). I don’t know how you reconcile large scale graphics with an A5 stapled zine, but surely there has to be a better way than handing someone a zine and a tall roll of loose papers with a rubber band. An open design challenge for everyone trying to do cool things with zines.

A Homo Healed

Kieran
fear.gaia (at) gmail.com
bukkake-bouquet.tumblr.com
I got my copy at Sticky for $AUS 4 &
you can get it online through Take Care.

So, that’s a bit alarming: You discover the book ‘Can Homosexuality be healed?’ on your Catholic parent’s bookcase.

What are my options?
To someone struggling with homosexuality, churches can present a confusing message. Some insist that a repentant homosexual renounce all ties to the homosexual lifestyle and live out his or her days in celibacy. Others believe that since no one chooses to be homosexual, the only compassionate solution is complete acceptance. Neither viewpoint takes into account all aspects of the issue. Is there another option that incorporates not only the traditional position that homosexual acts are sinful but also the fundamental reality of every person’s need for love and acceptance?

Actually, there’s another option altogether: Check this zine out. Yes, it’s a bit pricey for what it is. File under ‘concept zine’.

So, that’s a bit marvellous: Zinemaker takes book, appropriates and reworks the text by act of selective subtraction, and ends up with A Homo Healed; proclaiming ‘I say that homosexuality/actually means/relevant/Change’ – and that ‘homosexuals/condemn/Hate/and/unjust discrimination/homosexuals/are/free’

Nothing is more liberating than: Taking words and making the awesome.

This will make you: Smile and want to plunder all good Catholic parents bookshelves.

After all: the/courage/of homosexual persons is very needed/

Better things to do

Better Things To Do: The Early History of Canberra Straightedge
Pete
petehuet(at)yahoo.com
I got mine for a few dollars at the Canberra zine fair (I know, this is a few months back now). You can get your copy from contacting the zinemaker or for AU$2 online here.

A zine providing a concise history of the universal straightedge scene and how it materialised in Canberra, Australia in the mid 90s. Presented through interviews amongst friends who represent the first and second wave of the local movement.

Perfection: This zine is essentially a series of mini conversations left in the words of the friends interviewed. So you feel in on the conversation, not some third party loner reading some detached social history. The guys (yes, it was essentially a guy thing) talk about being teens in the nation’s capital city where there’s not much going on and the few punks they were exposed to were smack heads in civic mall. They wanted more.

Visually: Boring. This is a very dry way to present a zine: it’s just regular clear readable text and some reproduced artwork and leaflets. It looks like a little academic tract you might pick up at some left wing conference. Yes, it’s legible. No, it’s not punk.

I was so quick to pick this zine up because: It seemed incredible to me that Canberra may have sustained some kind of subculture, enough to document. That any kind of scene could emerge from the cracks in the pavement of Australia’s barren, isolated capital city was kind of radical. I was intriegued.

Funny: I love that even the guys interviewed can laugh at how small the scene was. Keep in mind the intervieweees in the zine number four mates. When they formed a 100% straightedge band, they are the first to admit there was nobody to perform to except one other guy: “Alex was the only (straightedge) dude who wasn’t in the band. We had an audience of one”. Oh man I love that.

Interesting: Going by the accounts, the scene in Australia seems to have avoided some of the characteristics the American movement developed. As much as it was an ‘all or nothing’ styled scene, and that to ‘lose the edge’ was to lose membership to a particular ‘fellowship’, it wasn’t so much to the price of social exile. The small Australian scene seems to have formed from a disparite crowd from various scenes one could move relatively freely across, and accusations of being a corporate slave from drinking Pepsi max represented a more militant fringe who failed to fracture the movement like their US peers. Instead they were kind of light heartedly laughed off. Australians: Nothing is ever taken too seriously.

My favourite part: Well, I have a few favourite bits in this zine, but one of them is when the guys talk about their tattoos from the period from what is now a twenty year perspective.

What makes this zine work: The structure is really tight: people discuss various experiences and they’re all grouped into topics from how they first came to identify with the scene to various stories, how they eventually fell out of the scene, and how their involvement then continues to inform them as individuals today. I think what also makes this work is that the interviewee was part of the scene themselves, so they know what topics to identify and they are talking with folks they have a long term rapport with. I also just love some of the reflections, they’re so… rock’n’roll. Reading about people like ‘Doug and Thommo’ and ‘a guy called Mean Andrew’ and ‘a kid named Marcus from Goldbourn who was this vegan straightedge half indigenous BMXer dude who would show up in Canberra every few months for a bit…’ Random. I love how random can be united through knowing you’re different and a love of the same music. I think that’s what this zine celebrates.

-EP