I’m as enthralled by, addicted to and dependent on the Internet as anyone, but a part of me is nostalgic for something that is still being made by hand, with paper and ink and imperfect binding: the zine.
I think our country, having been founded by rabble-rousing pamphleteers like Thomas Paine, has an innate love for hard-scrabble, DIY writers and publishers and although we can never overestimate the benefits of the virtual and the cyber, there is something we can still cherish about the tactile and the physical.
And the charmingly imperfect.
Recently I was thinking about zines having had the good fortune of talking to legendary zinester Aaron Cometbus.
I was also remembering a certain fall many years back when I spent more time than I do now browsing through the racks at Needles And Pens as well as the wonderful and multi-faceted Oakland collective Rock Paper Scissors.
Even before that my ex-girlfriend and I, when we were living artist-like in a multi-use Oakalnd warehouse, had invested in some rudimentary binding machines so we could make a zine. But the project was stalled when we realized that it wasn’t that easy anymore to steal copies from Kinkos.
Then last week, just out of the blue I had the good fortune of stumbling upon ZineWiki. I had no idea that zines still had such devoted curators and archivists! It was fun to ramble through all the provocative names and find out what people were still hand-writing and hand-printing in this age of blogs.
I even, thanks to ZineWiki, rediscovered an old zine that I was utterly devoted to for a short while before I completely and utterly lost track of it: Hermenaut.
I’m not sure who sells it now, but if you can track down some back issues I would suggest getting your hands on Issue 11: Camp.
There is an article in that issue, I recall, that rigorously compares the novelizations of Melrose Place episodes (all of which were probably written by robots) to the fractured, surreal, existentialist, broken-stream-of-consciousness prose of Samuel Beckett.
The issue in general is splendid and was one of the first complete diagnoses of the Age Of Irony that I was growing up in. I remember buying my copy in the now-defunct and once wonderfully ample supplier of zines, unusual books and pornography: Tower Records.