xtramedium (at) laposte.net
I got my copy at sticky instore, AU $2
prix libéré ‘pay what you can’
Scholar punk travels internationally on limited resources (financially and philosophically) playing gigs and chronicling adventures. Self described “punk tourism”.
Bragging rights: being bilingual. Cheap Toys is equal parts English and French (the zinemaker is French). There’s a certain mystique that accompanies the novelty because part of me always wonders if the stories are a little different in French – a little more candid for the native readership? A few extra reveals in French that the English readers miss out on? Such are the tantalising mysteries of the bilingual zine.
Punk cred: High, given Cheap Toys is always, always priced decently. Some zines are a few itsy bitsy pages and they’re three dollars, this zine is always full of condensed type (or feels like it), is thick and it’s in two freaking languages. So you get bang for your buck. On his distro site, the zine is ‘pay what you can’. The subject of pricing is also a favourite ranting topic of the zinemaker. In fact this issue opens on the topic.
This is probably my favourite issue so far because: Usually I find Cheap Toys a frustrating mix of interesting and irritating;
It always interests me because the zinemaker leads such a radically different life to mine and I love that it’s beyond any of my own personal points of reference. He is steadfast in his political passions, intense, and consistently criss crosses global terrain, nimbly moving through punk networks.
But I get irritated because everything is such a whirlwind of passing associations, community spaces, gigs and squats that the writing becomes almost a retrospective schedule than a sharing of personal experiences. And not being worldly, or punk, it all turns into so much transient euro slush to me.
But this issue is my favourite because the zinemaker shares a minute fraction of his love life, his favourite foreign sodas, and ultimately, reveals how he has supported his international lifestyle over the years – a small section at the back modestly titled “How I got ten thousand euros in the first place”. I guess how we fund our lifestyles is half our personal story – and for the zinemaker to share this aspect of his existence makes ‘Cheap Toys’ more holistic, somehow. Or at least provides some kind of broader context I always felt it lacked. It also prompts questions about capitalism and transactions that may or may not be punk ethical issues, but that’s something to muse about in your own time.
Comes with: section on travel games to play to fill in “awkward pauses”.
Countries featured: Australia and the Balkans.
Disclaimer: I shared time with Giz while he was in Australia; a weekend roadtrip to Canberra, the nation’s capital. I wrote an entire long-winded zine about the experience (here). In this zine, spanning the same time frame, Giz records his impressions of Canberra with a few sentences and the weekend barely rates a mention. From this we may come to two conclusions: One, it’s against nature to write an entire zine on Canberra as there is not much to the city; and Two, Giz has an infinitely more interesting and fast-paced life to chronicle.