Radio Free Press

Review by Bleek

A fairly productive couple of months in zine collection and production should make this column writing easier than it is in actuality. Old friends are back to zine creating and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome. Regulars are back with new issues and some of the big, glossy faves are back with some of the best reading in months. However, after just finishing up another issue of Speck, I’m finding sitting down to type anything more feels like so much work.

A recent show at UBC featuring Dub Narcotic Sound System, Evaporators, Operation Makeout and the Goblins presented a nice little zine gathering thanks to the promoters. A good Abbotsford delegation was there with some of their very welcome, DIY productions. As always, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and these somewhat rural kids are not letting smiling repression get in the way of some good old punk enthusiasm.

From what I can tell the flagship of this fine Abbotsford group seems to be an ambitious and generously loaded punk zine named Bullsheet. A strong focus on (what passes for) punk rock and the somehow inevitable ties to skateboarding is presented here, as in many small town zines. Does owning a skateboard in a small town make you punk by default? I often wonder, though not too long. So, read the interviews with pro skaters and bands like The Dingees, Five Iron Frenzy, Thriftshop Junkies and The Evaporators, etc. Undoubtedly Bullsheet, with its zine reviews, music articles and reviews and DIY elements, are the bored youth’s most valuable asset in that area where bands like Limp Bizkit are seen as dangerous. (Ryan Dyck, 2846 Evergreen St., Abbotsford, BC V2T 2S1)

Science is working miracles these days in the field of reawakening brain cells in people who once had little hope. Take the author of The Hermit for instance; here’s a guy in Abbotsford that admits to a faith in that misunderstood socialist (my words) named Jesus Christ. The author promises not to bring his faith up too much but it is a recurring theme throughout. In this case religion is not at odds with the rest of us but is rightly critical of the religious elite. There are good thoughts in The Hermit, which appear in questions to the interviewed bands like Pedro the Lion, Grade (who get raked over the coals for being a bit wishy washy), and the subject of the film American Movie, Mark Borchardt. I wish all Christians were this open-minded and accepting. The world would be a nicer place. Maybe fewer bombs would be dropped, ya know? (Josiah, 35275 Selkirk Ave., Abbotsford, BC V3G 1A5)

Another zine on the Abbotsford table was the fairly stylish, somewhat mysterious CBZ. The editor admits to being more interested in pictures and layout than with type, and sure enough, the layout is pretty creative, even after the photocopier got through dulling things a bit. The textiest bit is an article on changing musical tastes and discovering that new and different genres aren’t so bad. I really liked the sign post poetry section, all artfully laid-out and highlighting mere city signs like “private. property. no trespassing. skateboards, bicycles, roller skates. not permitted. no soliciting. –Unknown” Another article looks at the idiocy of people who feel the need to fight others. A thin zine, but a nice effort with potential. <>

I remember a joke by some punk band I read in a magazine: “How many riot grrrls does it take to screw in a light bulb? Four. One to screw it in and 3 to write a zine about it”. It was with this in mind that I read Pragmatism Be Damned, a small, girl perzine (personal zine) of the type that I haven’t seen in a very long time. In fact the look and subject matter of this little perzine almost had me convinced that I was reading a very good parody of a 1995 high school girl zine that were a dime a dozen back then. But damn was it kinda fun to read. Rather like a guilty pleasure. Remember all those revealing stories about crushes, getting too drunk, falling in and out of love, pet peeves, weirdo teachers and the whole youth experience? Well, if it ever left us its now back in PBD. The address is in Medicine Hat but the editor who gave me these is now living in Vancouver. (Rickie Owens, 230 2nd St., NW. Medicine Hat, AB T1A 6J5)

The Sugar Refinery was the venue for long-time zinester/filmmaker Bill Brown’s Saugus to the Sea book launch. Pop Boffin editor Kris Rothstein has crossed over to the position of publisher and was there on hand with Saugus to the Sea illustrator Brad Young of Stay As You Are. Bill could not make it and Brad filled in as moderator and read portions of the book. Bill managed to send over a video of himself riding a bicycle through Chicago while reading from the book. Strange man.

Among the respectable sized crowd of Vancouver most beautiful people was smiling Robin Bougie with the warm-off-the-press new issue of Cinema Sewer. This one (#8) is bigger and perhaps more compelling than others with the fairly comprehensive look at weird Japanese TV, Seventies soundtracks, anti-baby fun, and asshole extraordinaire Marc Wallace, a porn star who covered up his HIV status and infected “at least 6 other female triple X stars.” I mean this is only a portion of what’s in this great great local zine.

All this on the same night I got back Speck 9 from the printer, argh. Here’s the question: where is the best place to get copies made? Got an answer? Let us all know. Retailers with the best price will be announced so speak up.

February 22 is the early bird date for the Word on the Street festival this year. Book, magazine and zine people should sign up soon for their spot at the “celebration of reading” which happens September 29. Zines and comics will once again be secreted away downstairs (“Word Under the Street”) where they can do limited psychological damage. Registration, this time, evidently requires three sample copies of your publication (zines and comics only) to ensure that your right of free press is properly monitored. A range from $10 (half table) to $35 (full) is required (ie: you might just break even). To get a registration and stuff, contact #107-100 W. Pender St. Vancouver, BC V6B 1R8. •