By Jose Fritz
InfoShop, 30th Anniversary Zine
16 pages thelonghaul.org/
Only a few weeks ago I heard that NCLT, the landlord of Long Haul community space (and by extension the landlord of all the community groups that use their space), intends to demolish their building to make way for an 8-story, mixed use office building they’ve already branded Woolsey Gardens. So I fear for the future of Long Haul, Info shop, and Slingshot… but also East Bay CoHousing, the Needle Exchange, the Sunrise Movement, the Anarchist Study Group, East Bay Food Not Bombs, and the Reprographixxx Print Room.
It was only in the Summer of 2022 that a proper real estate joke graced us for this very occasion. “Landlord and landlady are needlessly gendered words. Please be more inclusive by using landbastard instead.” At this point, even former 1960s hippies are vigorously extracting surplus value from whatever assets they control… turfing out community groups, and gentrifying neighborhoods. There seems to be no escape from this late-stage capitalist hellscape.
But those are my worries. The 30th Anniversary Zine takes a calmer, longer view of the merciless march of change. An anonymous writer described the mood in the space over a few days and describes a busy, beehive-like place with unfinished zines laid out all over tables, screen-printed shirts stacked on every available flat surface — drying, people outside; waiting for the door to be unlocked — for food drop off, and library book returns. The space sounds alive, and vibrant like something with the weed-like persistence to grow back after it’s been cut down.
There are People Destroying the Atlanta Forest and They Have Names and Addresses
Free 18 pages
It’s easy to appreciate a zine written with such an explicit sense of purpose. There is not a single word of poetry or prose here. This review is already more verbose. The front page bears the title and the back page reads “We will make our class enemies tremble and bend to our will.” Below it is the URL srycampaign.org. The 16 pages in between are just names and addresses: the mayor of Atlanta, members of the city council, committee members, executive committee members, young executive board members, boards of trustees, Atlanta police foundation (APF) members, investors, bankers, business association members, realtors, attorneys, insurers, construction companies, architects, project managers and even subcontractors.
The SRY campaign, Defend the Forest and other civic groups operate under the assumption that the Atlanta Police Foundation cannot build Cop City alone. The related campaigns aim to dissuade those parties who would collude, combine and conspire with APF…. and it’s been working. Multiple subcontractors have dropped the expensive and unpopular project due to mounting public pressure and targeted boycotts.
A first class stamp costs 63¢. Anyone can participate in this kind of direct democratic action. Long live the USPS.
Free – 14 pages
I briefly debated the validity of the term “cardigan punk” but Jules quickly won me over. Librarians can be punk and therefore by extension libraries can also be punk. I apologize for my initial reticence. It’s a strange world we live in where rebellion can take the form of defending basic government services and revolutionaries are driven to write zines in defense of public institutions. But if that is where the Maginot line must be drawn, so be it.
In the last year states like Iowa, Florida, and Montana have been banning books from libraries. The most high-profile event was a tiny town in Michigan which actually defunded their library after failing to ban some books about LGBTQ+ people. Multiple school districts in Tennessee and Missouri banned Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus and other holocaust books. Florida schools banned a whole take-out menu of books including a biography of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. This is driven by white nationalism plain and simple.
Jules wades into this very serious topic with levity and an adorable level of reverence for libraries. She jumps from 1960s civil rights events to little free libraries with a single flip of the page. Perhaps this zine lacks the gravitas of a Rafael Uzcategui Anarchist communique, but there’s room in the library for both.
1001 Ways To Live Without Working (2023 Edition)
15 £ – 22 pages
The original 1961 edition of this pamphlet by Tuli Kupferberg sells on antiquarian book markets for a hefty price tag. One might expect the market to be rife with bootlegs but no such luck. Even scans of his work are scarce so I’m happy to review this gem in its native format printed on fresh crisp 20 lb printer paper from a boutique UK label that actually pays royalties to his estate.
1962 was an entire boomer ago which stands to reason as we’re going to have to talk about one boomer in particular. Tuli Kupferberg is better known as the co-founder of the rock band the Fugs and perhaps to some as a Beat poet. But Kupferberg also was a prolific self-publisher, a zinester by modern standards. He and his wife Sylvia Topp ran the countercultural Birth Press in the East Village during the early 1960s. Birth Press distributed experimental and anarchist literature and poetry. Kupferberg put the Birth Press label on several of his own works: Rub Ya Out of Omore Diem, Pedantic Pamphlet, Swing, Selected Fruits & Nuts and all 10 issues of Yeah Magazine.
By now you’re wondering what 1001 Ways To Live Without Working is? Is it poetry? Is it prose? Oh, you have no idea. This is a type of zine they just don’t make anymore. The Beats were somewhat influenced by dada and other artistic forms of absurdism. It’s formatted one column per page and what follows is 1001 consecutive rows of ridiculous suggestions and only Kupferberg was disciplined enough to be that absurd. His suggestions range from rolling your own cigarettes to burning down the Reichstag. Somewhere around number 970 he writes “Accept yourself; Love life; Be like a little child; Be loved; Ask forgiveness; Go on the road; Stop reading this book & figure it out for yourself.” I think it’s the one real answer in the list.
Bum Lung #2
$5 – 16 pages etsy.com/shop/BumLung
If you remember issue number 1, our protagonist was last seen living in a van, and vigorously dissociating to cope with our feudal tech hellscape. There is a continuity gap and Issue two starts with the pandemic and the George Floyd uprising. Years have passed and we’re in Minneapolis feeling the weight of dead generations and engaged in open conflict with the police and if it wasn’t clear already… Bum Lung is a fan.
But the narrative is somewhat less coherent than the first issue. There’s a post-vasectomy mystic experience, and a reptilian brain recovery. The dissociation of the past had given way to a terrible sunrise: a stone-cold sober moment in a boarded up squat. They needed to leave the hobo life.
In 2016 they started an ABO Comix abolitionist project distributing the art of queer prisoners. Bum Lung added an old graffiti tag to the fundraiser: “Be gay do crime.” Excuse my gender neutral grammaring here but they was perhaps all too familiar with the true origin of this graffiti tag. Please do not misunderstand the phase. They has been crystal clear as to what it means. I’ll quote from the infamous interview on the Gender Reveal podcast:
“It comes from a place of joyful queer militancy. I made it when I was living in abandoned houses and eating trash and going out and fighting Nazis and being very very depressed. Not so that these fuckers can sell it alongside Notorious RBG shirts. It absolutely means crime as a means of survival, joy and revolt.”
The phrase became a motto and a mantra to some. It crossed cultural lines at a time that the definition of the word “gender” itself was truly in question. Consequently, it took off and ended up commercialized, sanitized, exploited, re-branded, bought and sold by hucksters the world over. But it also ended up in the Phineas Fisher manifesto so there’s that. But there the zine ends abruptly, without any closure or resolution. But that’s fitting for a creator actively rejecting structural norms and forms. It’s like IO says on that podcast, “Gender? I never touch the stuff.”
A Brief and Inconclusive History of Protests on San Francisco’s Market Street
#8 – 20 pages currenteditions.bigcartel.com/
This is a beautiful piece of Risograph work. It features images, quotes, and text documenting 122 years of protest on this one 4.5-mile long street stretching from Embarcadero Plaza to Portola Drive. On a weedy traffic island there is actually a sign that reads “End Market” facing the intersection with a good view of the bay. It’s good weather and you’re not joined by 10,000 protesters, it’s a solid 90 minute walk.
The images are familiar-looking halftone images of densely packed crowds stretching off into infinity down Market street, raised fists, hand-made signs, and cops dragging limp bodies along the pavement. Each image is paired with a short description, like a tag at an art museum. The descriptions are dry and a bit terse but they’re balanced with quotes from protesters and revolutionaries which have a bit more sizzle.
If you’ve been to the barricades you already know what it looks, smells and sounds like. Those pictures are all up close, in the crowd; fully embedded. They depict the protesters themselves often cropped so close you can’t see the building facades behind them: fists, faces, raised arms and bared teeth. Everyone has the right to protest but it often falls to the oppressed themselves: the transgendered, African Americans, gays and lesbians, the unemployed, the handicapped, women, farm workers, student groups, AIDS victims, immigrants, and workers on strike— Viva la huelga mis amigos.
Dan Baker: Essays & Letters
$5 – 60 pages etsy.com/shop/
As of this writing, Daniel Alan Baker is being held at the Federal Correctional Institute in Memphis, TN. He had the misfortune of being sentenced by the extremely conservative Judge Allen Winsor, a Trump nominee and member of the radical Federalist Society. Dan Baker was sentenced to 44 months in federal prison for posting on social media. It’s hard to parse the irony, but Baker was calling for people to defend the Capitol against an attack from the actual insurrectionists. Some news outlets get this wrong and describe it as an armed “response” but most of his “call to arms” posts were from the months prior. The bulk of the 25-page criminal complaint just fixates on his politics, which largely validates the idea that Baker is a political prisoner.
There are glimmers of Baker’s core self here, where he advocates for others; for the memory of inmate Patrick Rogers, for the protection of fellow Anarchist Eric King who was beaten by skinheads, prisoners like Bobby Sand, Toby Shone and Jessica Reznicek. He writes out whole paragraphs of names, places to donate, where to send letters of support. There is a selflessness here that’s rare in the wild.
But there’s also a very sad part of the zine, under the April 16th entry, where Dan imagines a utopian world. Instead of being inspirational it feels like escapist science fiction. He wanders deep into a heroic fantasy written in the present-tense. I think it’s a place deep in his mind where he’s free from prison life, as he will be again one day.
Pigeon, Issue 3
$10 – 48 pages sybilpress.org
It was a blazing hot day on the asphalt, I was already sunburnt and my attorney was already three lagers into the day at 11:00 AM. But it was the only way to survive the atrocious heat. In a survival situation you can’t be selective about your beverage options. The flea market vendors cooked inside their tents and tried to protect their vinyl LPs as the available shade shrunk to an island directly under the center of each personal canopy. We were all drying out like fish and chips sat under the heat lamp overnight.
Somehow Norberto Gomez Jr. from Sybil Press looked calm and unbothered by the sun. His hand was cool and dry when I shook it. He cheerfully explained the joys of risograph, and the backgrounds of the writers while I turned red and splotchy, and dripped sweat on his table. He gave the impression, while we were developing sunstroke, that this was but a mote in his eye. He had already endured all the world had to offer. The rusting, 100-year old Municipal Pier Building #40 loomed behind us inert and enduring nothing but the passage of time itself.
I bought the latest issue of Pigeon, which is what it says on the tin… a radical animal reader. It’s rich in radical writing, with mad risograph experiments splashed across its pages. It’s full of odes to alligators, artistic paeans to veganism and an unexpectedly serious article on Dolphin communications.
My attorney was unfamiliar with risograph, and Gomez happily explained the logistics of the uncoated paper, the colors and the seething tension of discovering what the drum feels like doing when it rotates for the first time and the ink first passes through the voids. The results are imperfect, uneven, and unpredictable. It has some of the qualities of real magic, as much as any still remains in the world.
$4.99 – 64 pages flukefanzine.com
This is by far the best edition of Fluke I’ve read. Though I think I’ve said that before. That’s a bold claim after the 19th issue which was all mail art, and the 18th issue and its Aaron Cometbus interview and that piece on train hopping. The 17th issue was already really good, I liked that interview with Nate Powell. But #16 explained the connection between NXOEED and Fluke, that was like a villain origin story. I remember #15 really spoke to me, it was about aging punk rockers and had a good Ian MacKaye interview. Issue #14 was super obscure; a collection of punk show flyers from Little Rock, Arkansas that was wild. #11 and #13 also had sections about the Little Rock Punk scene, I really dig that.
I could probably just keep going. Has there been a weak issue of Fluke? As early as 2012, around issue #12 Razor cake wrote that “Fluke never disappoints.” That was probably how I first heard of it.
So let me rephrase, Issue #20 maintains that legacy of true greatness. The Mike Watt interview is rambling, and borderline incoherent which is really on-brand for him. The story about Marcher Errant sneaking into the catacombs below the streets of Paris was top notch. It goes on: road trips, mixtapes, piss drinkers, skateboarding in the desert… it goes on and stretches out to the horizon.
Rite or Riot – Issue #31
I reviewed issues 15 & 17 for Slingshot back in October of 2022. That means in a year Naomi has cranked out at least another 14 issues. I do think Naomi is averaging at least one issue per month. Her level of productivity is pretty notable, and possibly diagnostic. I am reminded of other writers afflicted with hypergraphia. First recognized in the 1970s, some of the more famous and prolific writers with the diagnosis are Isaac Asimov, and Lewis Carroll. A more contemporary example would be Naomi Mitchison who has published 90 books to date.
The last page of each issue I’ve read has one part of a multi-part interview of Naomi by Kristen M. This issue contains part 27 which appears to bridge two topics in this long conversation with a few “yeah’s” and “IDKs” and consequently reveals very little new information. Though the hypergraphia might drive a need for canonical completeness. The interview with Vinicio is much the same, including a verbatim interaction on call quality. “…Can you hear me now?”
This issue continues the format mixing classical music topics and interviews. That’s how you end up with Bad Religion and Strauss on consecutive pages. But the most interesting and enduring zine topic remains the zinestress herself. But only by reading the other 25 segments of that interview can I learn more.
Municipal Threat, #3
$5 – 72 pages
The first time I read Municipal Threat I was struck by the odd combination of indie comics and B-movie reviews. The two topics seem unrelated, so the editorial decision is unusual. Most zines either by design or by default stick to a single theme. But I quickly came to appreciate it and explaining why just requires some exposition…
A long time ago, in a place far away there was a radio DJ named Dan. He was super into Krishnacore as some metal dudes were at the time. On his radio program he played hours of hardcore, back in an era when “hardcore” exclusively meant punk or metal (not EDM, not porn). But every so many songs, Dan would put on a jazz number. Just one track, something calm and mid-tempo. It was jarring to the metal bros, but it served a purpose.
He explained to me that if everything is hard, heavy and fast then nothing is hard, heavy and fast. You become numb to the intensity, and it loses its effect. Municipal Threat’s comics have the same effect. If everything is violent, sadistic and depraved, then nothing is violent, sadistic and depraved. And what are B movies without violence, sadism and depravity?
As Municipal Threat often illustrates, the je ne sais quoi of slasher movies is that very sense of transgression: the grotesque disembowelments, the raw artless nudity, the explosive diarrhea. If it causes someone to barf into their popcorn at the drive-in, even better. That is the stuff of legend. The films and comics inspire each to cross boundaries and genres. Artist Javier Hernandez’s comic books became a B-movie. And we see it in the comics as well: Frankenstein’s monster fighting dinosaurs, vampires fighting headless torsos, Bigfoot fighting Kareem Abdul Jabar, am I making any of this up? All things are equally possible.
TinderboxIssue #1 – 16 pages
The subtitle on the top fold is “An offline journal of Combative Anarchy” and it’s everything that it says on the tin. I’m sure there is an FBI field agent sitting at 3000 Flowers Road in South Atlanta tasked with reading each issue of this publication. He’s sipping his bitter GSA-approved coffee blend and sniffing a fresh yellow highlighter. That poor bloke.
So I’ll extend my condolences, it’s a dense exploration of Anarchist politics, and tales of interplay between various radical groups and their various and sundry websites. It’s genuinely hard to parse for a tourist. But I gather from the articles that some of the authors previously worked on the “Night Owls” pamphlets hosted on the website itsgoingdown.org; the most recent of which was April of 2023. You can feel the continuity. Both publications place an emphasis on reporting actions, smashed windows, superglued ATMs, sand in the gas tank, ACAB graffiti… all the classics.
But the zine also includes some astrology and tales of failed platypus romance. There is some incongruity, it’s a big tent. But to paraphrase a friend of mine “Anarchists that can’t work in groups are secretly Libertarians.” He was kidding, probably. It’s hard to tell with some people. A zine like this is always a group effort, writers, layout, distribution… teamwork makes the dream work.