Tag Archives: teaching

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.

OCD and the GED

anon
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.

-EP