Piltdownlad #10

Behind the Wheel: A Lyft Driver’s Log

Kelly Dessaint
PO Box 22974 Oakland CA 94609 USA
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.


Tour de Croc

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

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.
A cycling tour whereby crocodiles are being sighted. (and who knows maybe also end up being worn, aka Romancing The Stone).
Or a cycling tour de crock. As in a piss take of tour de france and crock of shit.
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
Po Box 1879
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

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

fear.gaia (at) gmail.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
I got mine for a few dollars at the Canberra zine fair (I know, this is a few months back now).

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.


Death-Beam Dinosaurs

Death-Beam Dinosaurs: Seven magazines from the last 5 years that changed my thoughts on gaming.
No contact details but it does exist online: http://www.deathbeamdinosaurs.com
I got my copy for AU $1 or so at Sticky’s zine fair along with a few other issues which were a bit hit and miss.

An 8 page micro zine, each page an important moment in time for videogame culture in the glossy magazine world to the zinemaker. It may have been made back in 2011.

I did not expect: This small little thing to be such a big punch. This zine walks the reader through important gaming magazine moments as well as the zinemaker’s own contribution to the news-stands on gaming (that lasted a single hard copy issue) (and cost them $20,000). It’s a cultural history momento and personal zine at the same time.

I love that: Someone has spent their personal fortune on a glossy gaming magazine and still puts photocopied zines together about the same topic years later. I love that someone can love something so much, they can make these kind of zine confessionals. I love that I’ve just read a zine that is a snapshot of someone’s brain. For an A7 zine that is so compact and small, it’s a thoughtful critical mindmap starting with Laura Croft making the cover of The Face in ’97. And it’s a zine that includes suprisingly private moments that hit you right in the gut.

Minus points: The photocopying of my copy was pretty crap. A lot of the type reproduces fuzzy. #You had one job.

For those playing at home: you can download the PDF from the site and fold it yourself.


various titles – zines for the days of january 2014

I got a selection of copies through the zinemaker at Sticky’s zine fair for AUS 50c each
no contact details in zines.

A collection of micro personal/comic zines that are all numbered and form a series of complete days for the month of January 2014. Some are personal accounts and others dedicated to random themes. They include comic formats, writing and illustration.

How I found this zine: This girl with an American accent had a table at Sticky Institute’s zine fair and she had all these A7 micro zines, each individually numbered, all over her table, forming a zine calendar. That is amazing. She was selling them loosely for around 50c but there was also a highly impressive accordion zine of all the issues held together with coloured elastic bands of the full month. It was impossible not to make an ‘ooooh’ sound.

Same but different: Obviously these zines work as individual little entities, but they take on a broader meaning in their complete collection. Visually you immediately recognise that the zines form a series, but there’s no written indication of this. Each zine is simply numbered with it’s own title and, gorgeously, labeled according to genre -like ‘research’, ‘comic’ and ‘personal’.

Each day is: From what I could tell from the few I picked out, they’re a mix of fun, light personal stuff like food diaries or a day-in-the-life-of-the-zinemaker content. Each issue is eight pages, so they contain little observations or a run down of interesting facts. It’s all quite throw-away and ephemeral but precious at the same time. Little simple pen and ink line drawings of avocados from food shopping, lightening bolts for headaches. Pretty drawings of crystals.

Simple yet highly awesome: The concept of this zine series. It’s like an idea that gets mentioned at a party but never actually eventuates. Well, it’s materialised! And when you see them en masse you appreciate how incredibly labour intensive it must have been (or still is) – I think after a few weeks of doing this it could possibly kill you, all the thinking and drawing and creating and copying and folding. Spread out chronologically on a table – it just looked fantastic and very inspiring (“Hey, I could do that!”). Bunched into a conjoined rubber band folio for the month, it looked fantastic and utterly overwhelming (“Oh my God, someone did that?”)

Super cool: As a form of chronicling a month into little paper objects, this zine wins hands down. And what a great format/concept to steal for yourself if you wanted to document small things in another country or travelling and motivate yourself to learn about different things. On the 13th January, Georgi tries to explain how cricket works from an American’s interpretation and that was pretty great. I don’t understand cricket either, as an Australian, so it also made me feel a little better about myself. Bonus!

My only stupid gripe: The advantage with the format of this zine is that it’s folded in such a way that you can open it out to the original A4 sheet and see how the whole eight pages have been copied on to one side of the paper (see how here). This means the reverse side of the paper is left blank and once it’s folded – nobody will know. But why leave something blank when it could be a secret pin up poster or fold out or crazy filler? arg! precious subversive opportunity wasted!


OCD and the GED

bioproject (at) gmail.com
I got my copy through the zinemaker cause I’m special, pester them for a trade or purchase!

A personal account of the zinemaker’s triumph in successfully managing their O.C.D. in a professional capacity as well as a story of his own student’s ability to rise against their underprivileged backgrounds and societal expectations that they are ‘non achievers’. NB: the GED is a high school equivalent certificate in America and Canada.

Don’t be put off by: The initial footnotes. Because the zine assumes an academic tone to begin with.

How this is not academic:  Well, for starters, the zinemaker wants to demonstrate how educational and therapeutic techniques which they have experienced as both patient and teacher-in-training can (and need to be) applied to the field of psychiatry. So yeah, a little ambitious.

There are several aspects that annoy me when grasping with such vast subject matter: Some key concepts go undefined (there is a lot of talk about ‘risking love’, but no explanation of what that means). And some of the arguments assumed in the zine are a little flawed, or dependent on generalisations.

Case in point: The zinemaker is pissed with how everyone takes Monk (the tv detective) to be a stereotypical O.C.D. personality – one fictional detective does not represent a highly complex and variable disorder – but then the zinemaker goes and cites a single individual (Ellyn R Saks) as her proving her psychiatric professionals wrong – as if all schitzophrenics suffer her experiences and are capable of overcoming their condition and can get genius grants and become law professors etc. So in a diadactic sense, Ellyn ends up as a flat-packed ‘type’ to prove a point as much as Monk.

Whats really being argued here is that: We are all unique individuals, capable of exceeding expectations placed on us  by ourselves, generic figures of authority, and society at large. The sentiment is a powerful one. It’s the stuff of universal myths and legends and the key to understanding amazing people throughout history. It is also what makes this zine cool, because this simple truth is amply demonstrated through the zinemaker’s experiences personally, as well as with his students. This alone is more powerful than bullet points and Foucault references.

What makes this zine worthwhile: If you haven’t guessed, it was not the academic tone for me. It is the zinemaker’s personal writing, the tangible passion that comes through the pages and the stories he relays about life in the classroom – the personal challenges the environment presents, as much as the learning challenges for his students.

His experiences span teacher training, working with middle school students and working with adults studying to get their high school qualification equivilent after an interrupted education. Not only are the teaching experiences varied, but the zinemaker also talks about being a young white teacher amongst a black adult student population and how he (and his students) reconcile this culturally.

Goddamn, this zine is engaging on so many levels – the perspective of someone with O.C.D, the insights of teaching, those of learning; the broader power dynamics of teachers and students race relations, and developing one’s teaching style (…and identity). Even without being interested in education (or reforming psychiatry) these remain amazing and genuinely inspiring stories that make you want to hug the guy.

Further reading: The zinemaker mentions the ideas of Douglas Kutach, Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, bell hooks, Carter G. Woodson and Jack Mezirow.

And if you’re interested in this zine, also check out: OCD Thows Bows, and Mo Bows – both zines describing personal experiences with OCD.


All My Fathers

DJ Frederick aka Frederick Moe
singinggrove (at) conknet.com
36 West Main Street Warner NH 03278 USA
I got mine for US $1.50 through Antiquated Future 

A micro memoir of the men in the zinemaker’s life who successfully demonstrated how masculinity can be expressed in a loving, healthy fashion.

You think you’re reading a family history when: The opening sentence of the zine reads ‘My biological father was Herman Frederick Moe, born almost a century ago on January 31, 1919″.

I have to admit: I wasn’t sure how personally invested I was going to be reading about the life history of Herman Frederick Moe, (as per reviewing Coral Coogan) but the hook with this zine for me was in the title – ‘fathers’ – as in plural. For some reason I imagined the zine would be about someone’s dad suffering Dissociative Identity Disorder.

It’s not exactly what I imagined: Instead of promising some tabloid tell-all, it’s not some creepy story of a psychopath dad with voices in his head. And it’s not about a kid who grows up with a series of stepfathers in some horrifying unstable childhood or a kid with multiple non biological ‘daddies’ in some freaky cult. No, it’s none of that.

What it is: Actually a cool tribute to various men who served defacto fatherly roles to the zinemaker as he grows up, providing a sense of security, respect, leadership and guidance his own father is incapable of giving.

There is something really touching about: A man now in his fifties speaking of an ongoing need for a father figure in his life – and making sense of that positively. And acknowledging the men in his life who inspired him in significant ways. This is so insightful, and a unique perspective shared so openly.

Less is more: this is not a lengthy zine – it’s only twelve pages – but you feel like you’re closer to the zinemaker by the end page. He even includes a regret that would have been easier to omit than include. Writing about regrets in a professional or personal capacity is *such* a strong and courageous thing to do.

Sideline: The zinemaker’s working life is interesting in itself, working in the mental health and disability sector.

This zine makes you think about: authority figures in general, people in leadership positions in your own life, and what kind of fathering you experienced in comparison. It’s also part of a larger discourse on society and gender norms too of course.

It’s interesting that the zinemaker doesn’t explore his mother’s relationship to his father in these pages, and it’s unfortunate the women who do feature in the zine in positions of power across his working life appear intimidating and just…draconian.

Don’t be put off by: The cover art. There, I said it. It does make the zine look like a family history booklet as per the opening sentence, featuring a photo of the father holding a cat which is half adorable and half ominous. (Does he love the cat? Is the cat about to be the victim of some kind of hate crime?). In addition the inked heading is actually weirder and more inconsistant the more you look at it: also making this zine potentially spooky (if your brain is like mine).  Either way, the cover art doesn’t indicate the awesomeness inside. Because it’s a really cool, brave personal zine to be read, and shared, and talked about.

DJ Frederick is: a busy man. Not only does he write many zines, he also reviews them at One Minute Zine Reviews too.


Coral Coogan

Chris Mikul
I received this zine as a lovely surprise in the post, you can get yours contacting the zinemaker
cathob (at) zip (dot) com.au
PO Box K546 Haymarket NSW 1240 Australia

A small memoir of the zinemaker’s aunt, an aspiring actress and one of the most interesting people he knew growing up.

You know you’re reading a family history when: The opening sentence of the zine reads ‘Coral Maureen Coogan was born in Sydney on 28 March, 1931…’

I have to admit: I wasn’t sure how personally invested I was going to be. And after reading the zine, I do remain largely ambivalent.

There are evocative moments: The description of the grandparents house gives you that sense of exploring someone’s family home from another era, with cabinets and trinkets and spooky parts of the house.

The most poignant aspects of the zine: Reading about how inconsolable Coral was the last night she shared with her sister in their childhood bedroom before her sister married the following day. Coral never went on to marry herself (or move out of the parental home). It was also sad reading how the family handles her diagnosis of (and experience with) cancer, something not spoken about and not discussed with children.

This zine reimagined: maybe this would appeal to me more if the dry autobiographical details were removed and the writing was condensed just into a few significant aspects or impressions. As it is, the zine has that local geneology centre desktop publishing feel to it and is conventionally presented.
However, the zinemaker has chosen to adopt this tradition to remember his aunt by, so that ‘something of her survives’, and now it does. I’m just not sure how it works for me as a zine.