Tag Archives: gentrification

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

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.