39. 23: How do you review a chapbook of 14 poems that makes no sense at all, that has lines like "Times change my science fiction clothes are just so. / A weather vane evenly reading of almost 11 blowtorches / in amber. No matter." ... After long deliberation here's my review: 3 winds. 4 doorknobs./ I paste - Blank 9 - Parrot." And I mean that sincerely. Mark Sonnenfeld, East Windsor, NJ.
40. Age of Ideas "A zine full of short stories #1': I just don't believe this short story writer is 14! The quality of these stories, writing technique, subtlety, plots, ideas expressed, etc. is rare in high caliber pros. There's the story of raining pianos, a fable called "The Breadman" + 19 more. Ex. From "3a.m. Cafe" "Sometimes... her outburst of thought would become more abstract. Like her theory that the world doesn't really rotate, but is actually a giant treadmill. You spend your whole life standing in the same place, always pulling the earth towards you when you walk." This is the best zine short story collection I've seen. Highly recommended! And I still don't believe anyone this young is this brilliant! Zach Savich, Olympia, WA.
"They never ask (bands) a single tough question like, 'Could you hold a candle to ANY band in the British invasion of 1964? Or didn't rock die the day you were born?" - Hector's Bag of Fish #8.
41. The Zen of Henry #3: The editor of the popular zine, "So What" presents his 3rd look at the 65 year old comic strip character, Henry, the Great Bald One. He reproduces a number of the strips and single panel cartoons, plus running commentary on Henry's Zen behavior. Who knew that Henry was such a sage. But now I hear that one hand clapping and I applaud this zine! Highly recommended. Reverend Groovy G, Richmond, VA.
42. AIL #2: Now let me say this carefully. This proselytizing Christian zine is so simple minded, devout, and innocent that I'm not sure if its a put-on or real: A cowboy hymn from the 50's, a married couple who discover Satanic backward masking on their records, a newborn who is soothed by Christian music, uncleanliness and the menstrual cycle, and more. It's certainly a one of a kind zine, and the graphics are worth the price alone. I got totally absorbed in reading it and I recommend you try it too. Ken Switzer, Boston, MA
43. Man Alive! "Flight of the Errant Boomer": The zinester that brought you "Citizens for a Poodle-Free Montana' is out with his first book. The nonfiction/memoir is an on the road story about an on and off love affair, and a lot of job hopping across the western US. He's an apple picker, extra in a movie, exotic dancer, carpenter, and more. The 12 essays have a dream like effect with that bittersweet F. Scott Fitzgerald type of prose that's almost poetry. Throughout the book I sensed that his real love affair was probably with nature and the country in the west. Recommended work. Greg Leichner, Placitas, NM.
"Do words and phrases like 'fractals', 'limpware moldle construct' and 'Sheldrakean morphic fields' excite you? Then this cyberpunk zine may be your cup of tea." - Interference on the Brain Screen #4.
44. Lackluster #2 'Bad-Ass Homes': This is a gem of a zine that takes us on a guided tour of offbeat one-of-a-kind, hand built, homes with interviews of either their eccentric builders or their present day caretakers - all with tons of photos. Contents include: the Broken Angel building in Brooklyn; The Doll House, a 50's naked girl/statue/house in Tijuana; The Bottle village, The Round House, and The Winchester Mystery House all in California; plus 6 more. I was fascinated by both the builders (NEVER building to code) and the buildings that survived them. If Lackluster's future issues are this good, we've got a classic zine here. Highly recommended. Amy Balkin or James Harbison, SF, CA.
"A well drawn cartoon book with 2 stories that take FOREVER to go NOWHERE." - Stanley Stinkbug Vol.1 #2.
45. e.c.u. #2 Aug'97 'Something to read while you're waiting for the movie to start.' This is the best movie review zine I've seen. Not only does e.c.u. do full reviews of current films - 'Speed 2" to Peter Greenaway's 'Pillow Book' - but they do them with smarts, humor, and extra fun footnotes alongside the text. I also appreciated his creative essays: "The 4 Horsemen of the cinematic Apocalypse", signs of Hollywood's downfall; and "It's Better In the Dark", on movie snacks. Highly recommended for film lovers. D. Elzey, Berkeley, CA.
46. Rollerderby #21: Editor Lisa Carver is a great interviewer and quite a character too. Her best interviews are not the ones with Beck or other musicians; but the sexually oriented interviews with Pornographer Dian Hanson, or with Kate Landau on sexualists vs. Sensualists. My favorite was the interview with the 2 guys who got mail order brides! This zine is a lively party. Lisa Carver, Dover, NH.
47. Solanas 'I Shot Andy Warhol': This zine is a must for anyone who's seriously interested in Valerie Solanas (SCUM Manifesto, the movie "I Shot Andy Warhol', etc.) It begins with an interview with Mary Harron, the movie's director; followed by a reference section; movie reviews, biographical sources, interviews with Solanas, movies she was in, versions of the SCUM Manifesto in print or on the web, etc. Donny Smith, Belefante, PA.
"Have you been called a 'leftist' more than once? Then this collection ... may be for you." - Struggle.
48. For the Clerisy: American Brant Kresovich has moved to Riga Latvia. This is his zine telling about life in Latvia. In this issue #17 he talks about his vacation with his wife to Helsinki, answers questions about Latvia, ex. "Is there a Latvian equivalent to the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi?" (and yes there is), and Auntie Clockwise does a Dear Abby column for Latvians and their problems. Brant says "Criticism either coolly ignored or hotly contested." Brant Kresovich, Riga, Latvia. (Update - he's back in US now)
49. Muffin Bone #14 'People, Places & things'. Emily's zine is this time divided into People; character sketches; Places; her college, NYC, etc; and Things: Emily found some used skirts that turned out to be designed by Lilly Pulitzer a noted designer. I can easily see why this zine is so popular. Emily is sensitive, smart and quite poetic in her writings. Ex. On people in crowded museums, "The creepiest thing is how we all go in the same direction, like we are all skaters in a silent, slow-motion roller rink..." And to top it off her drawings are first rate. A fine personal zine. Emily K. Larned, Middletown, CT.
50. Holy Tire Iron: 'Inspiration is only a phone call away'; This is a PHONE zine. That is you call up their phone number (not a 900 service, but you do pay for long distance phone charges unless you live in the Boston area) and listen to the stories that anyone can call in. But beware it's addictive. I heard the story about the woman who lost her money (and I can't print where) in the bookstore and couldn't pay for the expensive art book, plus another story that I've forgot, but it's fun hearing the gossip and it's hard to stop. Reverend Raye who runs it tells me that there's no advertising, the 'message changes every day,' and is made up of what caller s call in. He also says he's been doing this for years. He calls it free public media and adds "Would you like fries with your art?" Fun stuff. Rev. Raye, West Somerville, MA.
If you would like to know more about Zine World, the zine review zine contact ZW POB 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0156 or www.undergroundpress.org.
The Fairest of them All
What's the fairest review system? I think it's the one I set up. Look at the others. Each has serious drawbacks.
1. Reviews from ad driven sources. I often hear horror stories about behind the scenes pressure to buy an ad before you get a review. That's not fair reviews.
2. Anonymous reviews (like Amazon books). As we saw in the recent NYTimes article on how authors were manipulating reviews to promote friends and punish enemies, this system can clearly be misused. IF all reviews have to be signed then there is improvement. Yet even then you seldom know the qualifications of the reviewer.
3. Sites that offer select reviews. They often have a secret screening process that eliminates most artists from review - and these artists never know why they were refused.
4. Vanity reviews. They are costly and really don't do much good. One book review site I looked at offered a reading and review for one hundred dollars (that was a marked down price). Yet who would search these reviews out or take any stock in them?
5. Free, all inclusive, reviews like my beloved Zine World that I review for. These are indeed a better option until you see how much pressure it is on the volunteers who are doing all the work for free. The artist wins here but the staff soon burns out. And more importantly the underpaid staff has no revenue to improve or expand their service to more artists.
IMO the best of all worlds - in the real world - is reviews that are free of ads, free of anonymous reviews, free of behind-the scenes screening, free of vanity reviews, and unlike Zine World are fair to the staff too.
This I've done in a review service that charges a processing fee - an amount so small its' similar to the postage you put in mailing your art to a place for review yet large enough to keep the review service going.
Ten Champs and Chumps
In Jan. '04, I began a review service that guaranteed all musicians, painters, writers - all artists of any kind a review. Since that time I've done 25+. Of those, here are the ones that have gotten the HIGHEST and lowest marks. Grades are 0.0 - 10.0.
1. Graceland, the 80's recording by Paul Simon got the highest score = 8.5
2 Fog of War, the documentary of R. McNamara = 7.4
3. Book of Letters #18 to corp. Crazies by zinester Rich Mackin = 6.3
4. Project Censored, the website covering the media = 6.2
5. Magnatune, online music company who's slogan is "We are not evil" =5.5
5. New York Times Book Review, out of touch Sunday book supplement = 2.1
4. American Idol, TV talent show looks for newest clone = 1.8
3. Quick, dumbed down version of Dallas Morning News offered weekdays = 1.2
1 (tie). Media Coverage of Terrorism, doesn't even tell us why they hate us = .5
1. (tie) Billboard Song Contest = cashes in on songwriting suckers. For info on reviews - contact me.
P.S. I give this issue a thumbs up!
How 'bout you?
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