The Zinophile: Postpunk Aesthetics, Bad Reviews, and Unfortunate Decisions

ZINOPHILESo, by all means, let’s talk DIY. The impulse to make a zine can come from a number of corners these days: to collaborate with someone else on a specific project; to release something different into the world; to act as a kind of proof of concept; to illustrate a specific concept or philosophy. The three zines covered this week take a panoply of approaches, from art to memoir. And, hey — one of them is pointing me in the direction of Jets to Brazil’s Four Cornered Night right now.


In the mail this week was a package from Michael T. Fournier, whose work I first encountered when I read his 33 1/3 about the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime. (I wrote briefly about Hidden Wheel, Fournier’s novel of art scenes, punk rock, and the failings of digital media last year.) We’d read together once, and at the time I picked up a copy of Cabildo Quarterly, the broadsheet that he and Lisa Panepinto edit. (There will be more on what said broadsheet has been up to in a future column.) In my hands right now: Kayfabe: Strategies Against Slideshows/Reviews 2011-2013. It’s a collection of Fournier’s longform reviews of bands, largely on the punk or postpunk side of things: June of 44 and A Frames and Jets to Brazil and Screaming Females and Stricken for Catherine, among others. Insights abound, both in terms of the music and in terms of a broader cultural context — notably, Fournier’s observation on what SST Records has come to signify when discussing music in this day and age. And it makes me very eager to revisit the Boys Life albums sitting on my shelf; it also makes me wonder what the hell I did with The Farewell Bend album I was sent to review in the Eventide days; and it makes me eager to check out a couple of bands I hadn’t heard of before, namely Great Western Plain and Coastwest Unrest. You can’t really ask for more than that.


Taking a sharp turn into memoir, there’s Sean H. Doyle‘s The Day Walt Disney Died, which also includes jarring illustrations by Vicki Nerino. Given that we’ve published Sean’s work twice as Sunday Stories (specifically, “100 HOLOGRAMS” and “The Huffer”), it’s not going to be much of a shock to say that I enjoyed this considerably. Doyle takes the sort of thing that could feel familiar — in this case, a first encounter with a drug — and turns it into something visceral and terrifying, both giving a riveting account of events as they happened and tracing their fallout over the years that followed. It’s a harrowing story — less a coming-of-age one and more of wrenching avoidance — and its consequences.

A few months ago, I checked out Publication Studio’s brief residency at Eyebeam, where numerous writers and artists came up with alternate covers for beloved works of literature. While there, I picked up the book that Publication Studio was producing as part of the residency: Kristin Lucas’s Dollar Store Quality Piece of Scrap. Reading it, one finds a string of anonymous product reviews run together like absurdist poetry or automatic texts. And, devoid of context, certain lines stand out: “I feel good now about having use [sic] a liner bag.” “No tiger print, hot pink, or sky blue colors.” Is it meant as satire, or simply to create a theoretical object around which these words of praise and vitriol can circle? I’m not sure, but it’s a brisk, enlivening read.

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