Speaking of longing for something you never participated in, and in keeping with my recent outburst of nostalgia, I’ve been bemoaning (to myself) my misspent youth lately. Not misspent in the sense that I grew up in a seminary, or, conversely, that I was a wild tear away who wagged school and lurked about in the lantana infested bush of Girraween Park with boys, bongs and suspicious intentions. I mean misspent in the sense that I was a little punk rock wannabe – a Sheena, if you like – when clearly, clearly, I should have been in love with Jarvis Cocker, nylon dresses and shiny, shiny hair. I was, but only secretly, because to be in love with indie pop would have been a betrayal of my loyalty to Crass. Well, that’s how it seemed at the time anyway. I know now that I was very, very wrong, and that the two camps are not mutually exclusive; but too late. I only admitted my love of Pulp to myself at the end of 2004 – 2004! – when we were cleaning out the house at Silver St. Anwyn was squeaking the lounge room windows clean with vinegar and crumpled pages from the SMH. She had Different Class in the CD player and I was momentarily distracted from picking minute particles of Blu-Tack out of the holes in my bedroom wall by the strains of ‘Disco 2000’. That song! I remembered a female announcer (Helen Razor or Judith Lucy, perhaps) introducing it on Triple J one afternoon in the mid 90s when I was trying to keep up with the world. The inevitable joke about Jarvis sharing initials with our Lord (surely it could not be a coincidence etc). The disco sounds that I could not, would not, surrender to. I was in the bath at the time, testing the claims of those self help books that tell you if you treat yourself kindly all your problems will dissolve. In the bath, with Pulp. With Jarvis. Things could have panned out so differently. The 1990s! All the things that I missed because I was stuck in a narrow sliver of the 1980s, feeling the same way about them as I do now about the 90s! But that’s me, forever chasing the ball as it ricochets down some unexpected alleyway in time. That is to say, never fucking on it.
So, as you’ve probably noticed by now, the formula for these posts is stuff stuff stuff zine. The zine, or zines, this time are ones that you will shortly find on the Take Care site, but I will include the contact details of their authors, in case you need (and it may well be a matter of need) to get your hands on them sooner rather than later.
More Love, Truth and Honesty
I’ve heard so much about Love, Truth and Honesty, Paul’s zine about Bananarama (I don’t know why, but Spellcheck is refusing to recognise that Bananarama is a word). It’s one of those zines that has entered into the oral history of Australian zinedom as a work of greatness. I have never read it (not surprising, I tend to live a secluded life), so I was very excited to receive a copy of this, the follow up. Finally, I understand what the excitement was all about. ‘This zine’, writes Paul, ‘is to confront…such memories and ideas and threads that age me, scare me, stifle me. To finish what I started. The unfinishable. Problematising the separation of ‘then’ and ‘now’’. Bananarama, Pulp, Suede, Elastica, Michelle Pfeiffer, Belinda Carlisle…Paul’s 80s/90s pop fandom examined with an eye on feminism and queer theory.
Sing Me To Sleep: An annotated bibliography of sad boy songs
Paul also gave us a copy of this zine. Tim and I read it together in bed on Thursday morning when neither of us had to work, while listening to the mix CD that accompanies it. It felt more like Sunday than Thursday. The zine is exactly what it says – a list of sad songs by sad boys (and men), written over two days when Paul himself was feeling a bit sad. I once read a study that suggested when you’re feeling down, listening to music that matches your mood is a more effective anti-depressant than listening to something sunny and bright. If you’re feeling down, the company of something excessively optimistic can be jarring, discounting the authenticity or righteousness of your sadness. Or something. Which is why the Smiths are the happiest band in the word. Only people who are normally happy don’t understand this. Mind you, if a friend calls up and tells you they’re feeling depressed, you probably shouldn’t recommend they listen to Swans’ Greed. That’s from somewhere else entirely. If all music suddenly came under the control of the American radical DIY self help community, Greed would be reissued with a long warning about how ‘triggering’ it is and that you should ‘make sure you’re somewhere safe’ before you listen to it.
Anyway. Paul begins this zine by writing about sticking a picture of David McComb on his wardrobe. A sure sign of melancholy; they should put that in the surveys they use to determine if you’re depressed: ‘do you cry for no reason, do you ever think about not existing, do you have a picture of David McComb stuck to your wardbrobe…’.
Coincidentally, the day before we received this zine I had been trawling the internet for information about Swell Maps. I had read that both Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden are dead. I thought that it must be a hoax – like they had sabotaged their own Wikipedia pages. How can two brothers, who were in the same band, born in the late 50s, about the same age as my mum, both be dead? But it’s true. Epic died – suicide, drug over dose, something – when he was only in his thirties, and Nikki passed away sometime in the last decade, of probably the same causes. Epic’s later solo stuff sounds uncannily like David McComb, or some other forcibly deep voiced Australian. But I have the Triffids if I want David McComb, so I can’t listen to Epic’s solo stuff, or Nikki’s. But Swell Maps are amazing. And now I can’t listen to Swell Maps without feeling terribly sad at the sound of those young, young boys, both gone.
Paul doesn’t write about Swell Maps, of course, but he writes about songs by the Smiths, and the Triffids, Billy MacKenzie, Antony and the Johnsons, Boy George, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed. So many sad boys. And he dedicates it, in part, to all the girls. Such an excellent zine. And did I mention the bonus mix CD?
Contact Paul at paulibyron (at) gmail (dot) com
Containing Preserving Consuming
Jessie is a part of the Rizzeria collective, and she’s obviously spent a lot of time with the mighty risograph machine. A risograph, for your information, is a sort of cross between a photocopier and a screen printing machine; it’s one of those things that when it was invented, you suspect, must have seemed incredibly futuristic, like a portable record player or floppy discs, but now seem like analogue solutions to digital problems. It’s quite marvellous. As with screen printing, you lay on each colour separately through a different stencil. Preserving… uses multiple colours for the images, overlaid with black text. Jessie is in the middle of a PhD which looks at anomalous archives, if I can call them that – bedrooms, infoshops and so on that become collections of memories (apologies if I’ve got that wrong, Jessie). The zine begins with Jessie buying a bag of cumquats, which must be preserved before they go to waste. The process of preserving the cumquats becomes a metaphor for the archive project, and Jessie’s writing threads back and forth between thoughts from the kitchen and thoughts from the academy (check out her PhD blog, and her cooking one). There have been many awesome zines written by people in the midst of writing or making bigger things – whether academic projects or ones created outside of institutions. This zine’s an excellent example of how approaching something from an oblique angle can sometimes be a great way of sneaking up on those elusive, apparently bigger, ideas.
Jessie (at) foodmaidens (dot) net
Mary-Helen makes excellent funny, silly, melancholy comics. This is my favourite yet – photocopies of a piece she made recently which you can read about here. It’s the least comic strip like of the stuff I’ve seen; more like a collage of various ideas that could be detached from the ‘mind dump’ and turned into longer narratives, maybe, but that nonetheless make wonderful sense when hurled together like this. There are the shoppers in the Courage Mart, where you can buy 2 in 1 anti-shy shampoo (today’s special!). The entrance of this most excellent supermarket (I think we should petition the Marrickville Metro to build one) is surrounded by jelly fish, stuck in some kind of existential gloom where ‘sometimes things have no answers’, and ‘we never stop’. Then there are the residents who break out of the painkiller capsule hotel, and the imminent revolution of all the food in the refrigerator. This zine made me want to hop a space shuttle to the bubble galaxy diner for a nice serve of Saturn rings, indeed. Conveniently, I’m in the process of making one (a space capsule, that is), but I’ll save that for a later post.
tinypapermail (at) gmail (dot) com