Make a Top 10 list of reasons why you love zines.
1). Zines exposed me to the counterculture.
When I was in middle school, my sister’s friend Max recommended I pick up MAXIMUMROCKNROLL. It was there I read Matt Average’s record reviews and got turned onto Brother Inferior, Hickey, and other bands that I would listen to through high school and for years after. Would I have started singing in a punk rock band without that influence? Would I have sought out hardcore shows and discovered the scene within my hometown had I not first gone to the local record store to pick up a copy of MRR?
2). Zines exposed me to new ideas about politics, society, etc.
When I was a kid, I loved conservative AM radio. I became a teen during the Clinton presidency, so to be right of center was to be against the status quo. I used to call into Bob Mohan’s show on Phoenix station KFYI on Fridays when listeners were given 30 seconds to rant, do songs, do skits, or really say whatever they wanted. These were my first performances for a public audience outside of school plays. But I can’t say my politics extended any thought beyond, “Hey, the government should leave us alone.”
It was reading columns in MRR, and a zine from Prescott AZ called Attitude Problem by a guy named Bandhu that I saw there were other realms of political and social thought that were anti-authoritarian without being conservative. Granted, through high school, I ended up being more teenage anarchist and apathetic than truly progressive, but that would come soon enough with more help from other zines and song lyrics finally sinking in.
3). Zines exposed me to different perspectives of the human experience.
I’ve read about kids hopping trains, a dude traveling around the country trying to wash dishes in every state in the union, interviews with pimps, stories about serial killers and bizarre accidents, travel journals of riot grrls, calls by genderqueer activists to transcend the false male/female binary… there’s some ideas and stories that have stuck with me, and there’s some publications I would never pick up again. But in every case, I’ve seen glimpses at the world through different eyes.
4). Zines showed me the similarities we share.
All sorts of different people have written for and put out zines. It’s in their passions, their concerns, their hopes, and their insecurities that we can find common ground. At the very least, we share the urge to express ourselves, to be understood by somebody else.
5). Zines made me fall in love with writing again.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I was in a creative slump. My songwriting became a slow and agonizing process. I tinkered over a spec script for far longer than an aspiring television writer is supposed to linger on just one project. I worked as a freelance reporter for a small publication for about a year, and the paychecks were nice, but then they stopped showing up.
I got a job transcribing for a reality show about mixed martial arts. I was inspired to pursue Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I wanted to write about it. Where am I one year later? Not in the MMA world, but consumed by writing. Even when I have blocks, I’m still thinking about writing. I know what it is to be in love, and this is it.
6). Zines made me interested in art again.
I haven’t always appreciated craft. Punk rock is infamous for ignoring skill and technique. But there are plenty of great musicians in punk rock, and while sometimes the raw sentiment of an everyday person can turn into a compelling piece of a writing, there are also talented artists in the zine world that make me want to raise my game. Not just in the writing, but in the materials, the assembly, and the aesthetics of crafting a zine, of putting it together.
7). Zines introduced me (or… re-introduced me?) to the community I had been looking for.
I have worked alongside wonderful and creative people in my several years as a grunt worker in the television industry. But it’s a big city and sometimes gigs are more temporary than we think, so a series going on hiatus or a friend moving from the eastside to the west could mean a year or two goes by before I see them again. I have my friends, I have people in my life that I trust, but there were years in L.A. where I missed the tight-knit group of fellow artists, writers, musicians, and general misfits I spent time with in Phoenix.
It’s been 17 months since I attended a zine workshop as part of L.A. Zine Week 2012. I have to wonder how things would be different if I had shrugged off going to the class. How many people that I now consider friends would instead be complete strangers to me? How would I be spending my time instead of meeting friends for coffee and talking about writing, going to zine events, or attending and participating in readings and panels?
I don’t know what my life will be like 10 years down the road, 5 years, even a year from now. But I do feel in this moment that I have a supportive, encouraging, and inspiring network of people in my life…
8). Zines introduced me to good people.
…and it’s not just about the zines. I love and care about these people regardless of this one thing we have in common, it just happens that this thing is what brought us into each others’ spheres. Not everyone I met coming up in the punk scene is involved in music anymore, and I doubt everyone I know now in the zine community will always have the time and inclination to keep writing and publishing zines. But we have shared this, so they will always mean something to me.
9). Zines made me re-examine my life.
Maranda Telegram makes me consider self-care. Aurora Lady makes me conscious of living an artist’s life. Taryn Hipp makes me feel okay about talking about when I’m feeling down. These writers and artists show me better ways of living, and getting re-involved in writing and the zine community has led me to reconsider what I’m doing with my life. I want to have a positive outlook and I want to make a living doing something I really love.
Without zines, I may have remained stuck in the rut I found myself in some years after moving to L.A. It’s very easy to get caught up in “the hustle” - just trying to get gig after gig in entertainment. Now, I’m looking beyond that. I love this city, but I don’t feel the need to make my way through “the industry” that initially attracted me to it. I’m more comfortable in the underground.
10). Reading is fun.
There’s nothing like kicking back and reading a good story.
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