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"Wanna buy a zine?" ....I bet most of you reading this web site
have come across someone somewhere at a gig or outside a
venue selling their scruffy, tatty beer-stained diploma on what they
see as the punk world in print! These often dodgy looking
individuals who own as many insecurities as a ward full of
Broadmoor psychopaths, quite often think that the 40-odd pages
of photocopied mayhem they're clutching and desperate for you to
buy (or even read) is really gonna change the fucking world as we
know it! Sad but true!!! A fanzine editor is in most cases a solitary
individual with a lisp, a hump or a twitch or some other form of
impediment! They spend far too much time for their own good
cooped up in some bedroom or cell (probably for months on end)
toiling away like a hermit and perfecting their narrative with glue,
scissors and typewriter (PC is optional). After long bouts of
frustration they are often seen screwing up bits of paper, scratching out sentences and licking stamps like there's no tomorrow. They rant in their sleep, row about reviews, take offense at other zine writers who despise and ridicule their favourite bands. And a zinewriter for want of a better word generally talk fucking rubbish to all and sundry. So is it really any wonder that a lot of couldn't be arsed uninterested patrons who wanna have a beer or get to see their favourite band don't wanna know em!?
Most punters when the proverbial gig hits town don't wanna entertain the phantom fanzine seller secreted in appropriate shop doorways by the gig entrance ready to pounce. These persistent lurkers are on a mission ready just to catch that stray punter off guard, as he or she fumbles with some change for the entrance fee. And I can see why the punters either dismiss this minor hassle as just another insignificant irritation or blank em completely. But...and there is a but! You can't take away the zinesters ingenuity and some of the behind the scenes work and fanatical devotion can be pretty essential on occasions. And no I ain't trying to paint a sympathetic (ha!) picture here for the fanzine fraternity. No way! In fact most of em have got personality's on a par with drummers, so that's a non starter from the off. No what I'm spelling out to you dear reader is the full blown gritty facts of this dying breed. And I don't say dying flippantly, coz even the best zines have drawn a blank in the 21st century to sell their wares to the masses. Kids today just don't wanna know no more! And you can't blame em really coz most of the time the zines in question out there today are just either...pathetically copied, mind numbingly, dull, badly thrown together scribbles and blobs on some scabby page. A page that could best be described as toilet paper. Or on the other hand shiny, glossy, happy CV's full of graphic effex but have as much character as an Asda bargains brochure. We are effectively torn between the devil and the deep blue sea so you can see why they are looked on with some disdain to the average punk on the street!!!
So what have we got on offer in punks printed press today? For a start the editors can be a fickle breed indeed, and believe me I know coz I've been there! They are in most cases isolated ghouls that hog the outer ring of the gig pits perpetually looking for potential buyers. They without fail try to sneak a set list from under the lead singers nose to the bands dismay. They can be embarrassments in the dressing room when they try to conduct interviews with equally embarrassed bands. They are like coppers in one respect, they are never off duty! It's very hard to come across a really good fanzine these days. Sure the technology is top the range, some even look like bona fide rock mags from off the shelf of WH Smiths. But quality don't always signify character! It's never easy finding that little gem with a good attitude, good layout and something in the dialogue that's gonna jump out at ya and drag you in!
The best zines today (as fare as the UK is concerned) you could probably count on your one hand. They are a varied bunch indeed. Ranging from scruffy scribbled Photostats to the glossy covered printed generation. And all the best ones are yours for a poxy £quid or less, which can't be bad, considering a pint is double that fee in some pubs. But will punks still buy em? No sireee, not on your life. And if not...why the fuck won't they? Major reasons seem to be that old chestnut the price! It puts em off time and time again. These punks don't wanna buy some scribbled notes for a quid it's gotta be suspicious. Yeah for a measly quid, surely that ain't too much if your working. But if your skint and have just enough for a few drinks, that extra quid could be the difference between a sale or not. But let's face it the biggest reason and probably the definitive reason why no-one buys em is a lot of em are just going through the motions! Very few fanzines can be bothered these days to tell it like it is. There's just too much pandering to the bands egos in most zines. Lets face it some bands covered ain't worth a gob now or even back in the summer of hate. A lot of zines have got the worst musical taste in the history of punk. And there's too much for want of a better word manners! Fanzine editors with manners is a fucking blasphemy!!! It's an affront to our well being, it's a kick in the bollocks and it sure don't make good copy! We don't wanna read something that's tame, safe and nurtured...do we? We want attack, entertainment and the shit that's really gonna hit the fan! We want zines that makes yer think, laugh and inspire! Not column after fucking column of fucking zero's. Editors these days are too fucking tame to even entertain an opinion! Let alone tell everyone about the dreaded thing!!!! Fucking hell it really pisses me off to see great fanzines put together like their life depended on it, only to go and spoil it all, by filling the space they're left for text with pontifications about safe, jaded fucking creeps!!! Even if they don't like something they sure as hell won't tell you. Becoz...
1. They don't wanna "hurt the bands feelings!" (aaahhhhh).
2. They still wanna keep the record company freebies coming in (duuuuhhhh!!)
3. They're gullible fools who wouldn't know shit if it defecated on em! We also have to put up with the preaching 'right-on' brigade. Yeah those born again comrades who are forever fighting for our rights, our livelihood, our fucking state of well-being, our individuality!!! Now if they had a bit of originality themselves we might be getting somewhere but no way, no how! It's like reading some 21st century Robin Hood manifesto for gawds sake! Only this time you must spit out the pips and boil the lentils! They are our knights in shining white armour here to save and protect the planet. Yeah sure...attack the enemy, give the man on the street a voice, reveal the imposters. But forget the political undercurrent that lies behind all this anarchistic dogma. The punk music that spawned this political consciousness is merely a backdrop and seems to come a very poor second in their right-on inspired rants. If we wanna go out and drink, shag and eat a curry...so fucking what! I ain't no lager lout or a fucking sex case and I certainly ain't no saint...nor are they! We're punks and we wanna read about punk! That's what a punk zines for aint it? I do wanna know who's been ripped off, who's been fucked around and who's gonna do something about it...yeah great...tell us! But don't fucking even attempt to preach to us, lecture us or fucking blackmail us into thinking like a fucking sect. A sect that makes rules for punks to obey is just another form of government. One mind, one voice! It just fucking don't work like that! Tell us the facts by all means then maybe we can go and sort it out in our own way. But never, ever treat your readers as fools! Then of course there are those studenty indie zines hovering around the borders of punk print like a bad smell. You know the ones! They are very good at being very mediocre! These gibe-ridden comics are kinda like a student rag but crowded with the most mundane, Americanized bland bands you could ever wish to meet. Those middle Americanized faceless suburban nonentities masquerading as punks are the bore of the decade. So show me the exit quick before I spew my ring up all over their college school finals!!!
Well bearing all this in mind there are actually still a few goodies in the dross out there. So it's now up to you the reader to decide whether the geezer with the bag of zines and a limp for company is fake or for real. And the only way to do that is take a fucking look inside. They won't mind you flicking through a copy before you produce the dosh (unless they're really clueless). And if you don't like it fair enough (they are usually nonviolent types). But if something does take yer eye buy it! Even if you regret it later. At worst it's something to read while you make yer way home!
PETER DON'T CARE