Tag Archives: health

Shitkicker

Gratitude and the Art of Diffidence Presents…Shitkicker: A tragedy.

Anon, but the ID photocopied on the back-cover reveals first and last name
No contact details
I got my copy at Sticky for $3

Shit: The zinemaker’s job. I love zines about the workplace, because a) I live vicariously through other people’s lives;
b) all kinds of confidentiality agreements are breached in writing about one’s job and
c) workplaces are endlessly fascinating. The personalities. The work culture. The power dynamics. The duties. The bullshit. And also? The fact that purely by holding down a crappy job, you’re invested in it. You bring commitment to shit. There’s an element of your person that you give to the job and your obligation to make sense of a world within set hours with a lanyard round your neck.

Aesthetic: Classic geeky wonky zine feel. A mix of handwriting, badly drawn comic illustrations, excellently bad stock photos of medical practitioners perfectly and non originally defaced, wonkiness, and text that is a font size or two too large for the page size. But at the same time it’s this nievete that makes the zine kinda cute and awkward. So it’s a geeky kind of aesthetic, which for zines? is awesome.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Give it to him. The zinemaker is an orderly at a hospital – a casual one moving from one section to another wherever he’s needed. He’s endlessly bossed around to clean up gastro, fill blanket warmers, transport patients and sort out needles in order of length. Nobody looks him in the eye when they speak to him. Apparently his name is not in big enough capitals on his ID because staff have no idea what the fuck his name is, and he seems to be vicariously known as Ben (His actual name is Vincent). When he’s not suffering this kind of indignity, his overly youthful 21 year old appearance means he’s equally at risk of being teased about whether he’s old enough to operate bed movers. The problem is, however, self deprecating humour and being a prat are not mutually exclusive either.

Six parts, two distinct moods: The zine is in six sections but more like in two progressive parts: It starts off very teen angst but becomes more tempered as it continues. When I started this zine, I couldn’t help but think that sure, the guy had a shitkicker job, but that’s what he’s paid for…he kinda sounded like a bit of a dick. (Actually, on re-reading, he still does).

HOWEVER, the time I got to the final pages, the spirit of the zine has done a complete 360. It’s a welcome turn, but slightly disconcerting. Like listening to someone in the differing degrees of being drunk, from obnoxious right through to likeable.

Resolution: Like a good episode of Dr Phil or insert talkshow here, we pull back from despair and grief and the zinemaker has a blinding flash of insight while sulking in a philosophy class which he feels compelled to share. Thank god, this zine could have gone in some horrible potential serial shooter direction otherwise.

Spoiler alert: The zinemaker discovers perspective. And it’s a cool perspective that I really liked.  He probably will never experience the wonderful universal philosophical principles he wants to adopt reflected back at him in the workplace, but it’s good to believe stuff.

Bonus section: The orderly hall of fame. Includes portrayals by Jerry Lewis, Dr Who characters and a guy from Scrubs. I highly enjoyed. There should be more in pop culture, really.

-E.P.

Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

I got my copy as a trade from the zinemaker
beg,borrow,cheat,steal:
PO Box 221041 Chicago IL 60622
poodrow@hotmail.com

His life is worse than yours: Well, maybe not as a blanket statement but this zine covers some trying weeks in this zinemaker’s life. He’s getting undermined at work, has a bike accident, and breaks bone(s).
This zinemaker has the unnerving gift of being able to perfectly articulate that slow motion breaking point of the human condition. And he describes these experience wonderfully. Like some kind of valiant soldier of modern life.

It’s the little things: I love how the zinemaker includes a checklist of his greatest biking fears. Unfortunately all but one have now been realised.

Bonus: It’s one thing to hear about a medical horror story that you can afford to laugh at (it was a broken collar bone, it did presumably heal in the long term) …but it’s another to read the reproduced Yelp reviews of other patients who had the misfortune of consulting the same practictioner. Never has there been a better use of screen shots of the internet. This is like peak zine reading as far as I’m concerned.

Written structure: Doesn’t really work. This is one of the best zine stories told in the best possible way but awkwardly sandwiched between a beginning and an end that have no related significance and there’s no attempt to tie them together. The zine tries to open on a moral-of-the-story introduction, but there isn’t any really, and they know it: “You figure it out”. Quite frankly that’s just a typical lazy zinemaker attitude.

The zine begins with life as a teachers aid and is kind of an omen for the shittiness to come, just crappy work details and office politics as a teaching aid. It’s a kind of rambling and not completely relevant lead up to the Wednesday Morning that the real story begins. Which is fine, it’s still entertaining, but *because* the zine doesn’t end on a return to the workforce, it’s a narrative cul de sac.

The zine could have ended on what happened at the workplace post injury: the professional sympathies, how the career climbing worked out, maybe some student responses. (student responses are hilarious, amirite). That would have been great, but instead the story finishes on a forced post-script. Like a kind of like a two second “and then this happened and that happened the end” kind of trailing off.

But I cannot emphasise enough: The bike accident story and consequent medical exams? all gold. You can’t top it, it’s the best read I’ve had, making this one of my NEW all time favourite zines.

Presentation: Ratshit handwriting on unlined paper. Does the title quote some cultural reference I don’t get? probably. What does the picture of the badger or skunk on the front cover mean and how does it relate to anything? I don’t know. Inside the zine, aside from an x ray reproduction and some screen shots, the layout is clean and simple to give the appalling penmanship as much breathing space as possible. You’re not buying the zine for it’s cursive (there is none). You are buying the zine because it’s fucking good. Has the zinemaker ever heard of a stapler? Apparently not. And there’s nothing that shits me more than thirty four cut down pieces of paper folded and expected to not fall apart. But is this one of my most cherished zines of all time? Yes, it is.

The greatest gift: On one of the final pages, the zinemaker includes a selfie of himself with broken collar bone in his plaster cast. (If it strikes you that this sentence sounds utterly wrong on multiple levels, including medical, you’d be right). Up until now there had been lots of written descriptions, comparisons, metaphors, everything. In my mind’s eye, it sounded funny and kind of ridiculous…and you could tell he struck kind of an exceptional figure from the responses he got from other medical staff…but nothing prepared me for the actual photo. And there’s something gloriously resigned in the zinemaker’s forced stiff posture that still gets me as well. Can an photo also capture the zinemaker’s pure mortal courage in somehow always ending up as the chump who cops it? It fucking can when you get to this page. Beg this zinemaker for a copy of the zine to have and to hold. BEG him. Great storytelling.

-E.P.

Ticker

Ticker


$2
gallerygirlzine@gmail.com
I got my copy at Sticky

Short and sweet and bittersweet: I really loved this zine because it’s simple and a personal story told in just a few lines per page. Sometimes this storytelling effort can end up super laboured and overworked, and it almost always ends up wanky, but this zine? shows you how it’s done. By having one hell of a story and telling it in short punch lines.

I laughed out loud: it’s probably wrong to laugh out loud in a shop reading how a girl is told to wear a heart monitor by a specialist and in that same 24 hours she has her art show opening AND her boyfriend dumps her.  Beyonce makes Lemonade, this person makes a kickarse zine.

Awwww: amazing little story, painfully honest too, and yet quite nonchalent and understated and the most beautiful thoughtful ending. Makes me want to know the person & hang with them.

Aesthetic: Just a simple reproduction of a heart diagram which is repeated on each page done on tinted light pink paper, with the sentence snippets placed over it in manual type. Probably a tad overpriced for what it is. I do like that there was not an exerted effort in trying to source alternative images for each page – the repetition works, and doesn’t distract from the story.

-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.

See also: A review of zine that responds, ‘Can Tofu Be Vegetarian?’ The debate lives on.

-E.P