A zine covering the everyday adventures of an American expatriate in Spain. This particular issue is an anthology calling itself ‘the best of’ Chorrada issues 1 to 6. Includes personal writing, correspondence with readers, historical tit bits, interviews and reviews.
Where I got mine: Sticky for $5
Where you can get yours: Send US$5 or 5euros to:
Kris, Calvo Sotelo 13B, 4B, Plasencia 10600 Caceres, SPAIN
or paypal to lolalucio(at)gmail.com
and it has an online presence here.
How hard is it to invest in a long arm stapler? Very- apparently. Looping jute string around the fold is an inferior and annoying substitute for binding. Just putting it out there. I was amused to see I was not alone on this one, either.*
The zinemaker, an American living in Spain, writes about various events and experiences. Even though he has a Spanish wife and has presumably been living in Spain for a while, it feels like he is a perpetual tourist. Maybe that’s what life is like when you are an ex patriot. It’s interesting to read about Spain through an American zinester’s eyes.
I feel like I’m reading someone’s travel blog. The writing and the stories are amusing but in that pleasant extended family way where nothing personal is really revealed. The zine is full of fascination for quirky lives and events and times and places in history and intricate details about the zinemaker’s shoes for chrissakes, but I don’t feel any rawness? honesty? real personal connection? with the zinemaker.
My confession: So, I didn’t realise it at the time of buying this, but as mentioned, this zine is an anthology. I immediately felt cheated. Whenever I think of anthology zines I think of ‘best of’ albums. I don’t have any issues with reprints of zines, but I draw the line at anthologies. Why would you be collating ‘best of’ bits from previous zines when you could be writing a new zine? Why do people do this? Is it to demonstrate how awesome the partial bits of previous zines were? Why wouldn’t you just write new stuff?
The counterargument: Actually I really don’t know what the defence IS for doing zine anthologies. I kind of understand if it’s a celebration of a long run of issues and you’re putting it out as a glossy book for a wider reading audience who may not be familiar with zines and find this cool book which turns out to be a compilation of old issues, or reproduced parts of. See, I do kind of understand that. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of zinemaking – but I understand it’s a way of preserving an art form in a more robust and commercial medium for a wider population of readers or maybe a new generation. I don’t get it when it’s just you re-doing bits of old issues with jute string.
The context: Turns out the zine is not a ‘best of’ but it’s actually a complete reprinting of all six issues: Kris has written, “It’s the 1st six issues in their entirety. Each issue is an 8 pager, corner stapled, and very Dad style (what can I say, I’m middle aged). I put them all together to share with the world at large outside of my little circle of a couple dozen regular zinesters that I trade with.” Makes sense! Reprinting zines I get!
The papernet: I don’t see this a lot in Australia (if at all), but there are American zines out there that reprint various bits of zine correspondence from readers and include an editor reply. It’s interesting to see who is writing from what zine or sharing what information and it’s also a way for the zinemaker to promote other people’s zines and encourage general correspondence. So here is another entry point to the papernet. It’s alive. And full of the usual suspects. (after a while, you start recognising the same names).
The best part of this zine was: reading about how the zinemaker scores an illustrated and anecdoted reprint of George Borro’s account of travelling around Spain and Portugal in the early 1840s. From the zinemaker’s enthusiastic descriptions, it does make me want to score a copy myself. The zinemaker genuinely gets excited about various eccentric pursuits like dulcimers, and if you have any kind of interest in things, like dulcimers, then instant gratification awaits. (Dulcimers are probably the next Ukuleles for hipsters). The zinemaker is basically a fan of cool, interesting and obscure stuff – kind of like an amateur historian – as well as a fan of interesting characters he comes across, like the dudes running the Chamber Pot Museum across from the cathedral, or the transient guy who he comes across every now and then who is an ex pat like himself but living in a cave with a weird skin cancer wound on his arm. I found myself skimming various bits and pieces in this zine, mainly the interviews and book reviews, finding some parts boring or just getting lost amongst too many obscure cultural references I didn’t get (so couldn’t appreciate). I’m not complaining about this – it’s just that I found myself easily distracted as a reader with no real entrance point to some of the content.
Kind of to be expected: The zine is text heavy, obviously. While there is an inclusion of photos and reprinting of historical images, it’s very much a Dad style desktop publishing aesthetic: half columns in times new roman. Clear and easy to read. Functional. It won’t break your eyes but it won’t razzle dazzle them either.
I’m guessing people who like this would also like (and vice versa): Anything by Chris Mikul – the zinemaker behind the glorius Bizzarism and intense biblio-curiosa, stuff by Ken Baseurt, DJ Frederick aka Frederick Moe, stuff by Adam Ford and zines by the powerhouse behind The Zine Explorer’s Notebook.
Overall: I’m left lightly entertained and marginally educated but kinda ambivalent.
The zinemaker comments on Blackguard’s review in defence of the string decision, which I didn’t read when I first linked:
“Yeah, the string binding didn’t work too well. But my long arm stapler wouldn’t go through that many pages… After destroying a few copies trying to staple them I turned to the string. -Kris”
Kris is looking out for stapler recommendations. He has a Kanin which is crap.