April 26th, 2011

Distort #32

16 pages, A4, $2.50, available from Sticky 
First copy of this punk zine I've seen, although read good things about it elsewhere, so big thanks to Sticky for sending me this one.
This is part one of a look back at the 'best of' Distort - this issue covers Distort #7-13. "Wait a minute", I thought. "#7?" The unnamed (?) editor explains this in his introduction. It started as a "stupid myth" that issues #1-6 were all immediately out of print or short run or mix tapes, but the reality was that he'd been writing hardcore zines since he was 15 (Stop And Think, No Longer Blind, Room 101, and On Fire) but none of them made it to #7, so he figured he would end this curse by starting his new zine at that number.
A highlight - the story about his grandmother (a Latvian refugee), now suffering from dementia ("...she attempts to eat her food with a napkin as a knife. She makes sandwiches using the plate as a top layer, and she loses her way to the bathroom."). He writes (intro to Distort #10) that last week he found out that she was a Nazi sympathizer. The only way he could understand this was through the Nazi's appeal to the herd mentality, and national/racial pride. He relates this to his passion for hardcore/punk - "these offer an anti-herd mentality, a hostility to the crowd." 
Reading some of the band interviews here, the overriding motivation seems to be violence, aggression, nihilism. From interview with Left For Dead band member describing a H-100's set - "They started, the singer threw something really heavy straight ahead of him, not even looking. Someone took out the bouncer, two girls were punching each other's heads in and there were at least three all out fistfights by the first chorus, no joke."  
Another highlight is in the interview with Formaldehyde Junkies, where band member Andy answers a question about their song 'Now Don't Go Start Your Own Band", written because of the overload of shitty hardcore bands. It made me laugh because the zine world too has this problem. It's funny to me, with the often-heard exhortations by some ziners, '"Hey! You too can start your own zine!", to rather say, "Hey! No need to try this yourself! By all means please don't feel compelled to make your own zine!"
[Formaldehyde Junkies (great name!) also have their own wonderfully-named record label, Fashionable Idiots Records]
The editor also has a couple of quirks - one of which is his love of/focus on hardcore/punk bands from Cleveland (the only thing I know about Cleveland is that it's the city Harvey Pekar came from); the other of which is, he often begins an interview with a question about the band's school, work and church (or worship) life.
Distort was a good read. I'll be tracking down the next issue for sure.

How To Have An Amazingly Adventurous Life For Zero Dollars A Day

40 pages, digest size, free, by Kim - contents of this zine and more at >> storiesofcreativeecology.wordpress.com 
Loads of suggestions as to ways to opt out of "The System" in this zine. Chapters include:
Forage. - Gleaning tips (for fruit and vegetables), dumpster diving, food court opportunities, wild food, native plants, roadkill, hunting, entomophagy (the practice of eating insects (one suggestion being Bogon moths, which I have been meaning to get around to trying ever since hearing that they taste like butterscotch when fried. Yum-o!)
Stuff. - Hard rubbish collection days, dumpster diving, op shops, government departments, building sites, and fixing things.
Shelter. - Housesitting, squatting, free camping, work exchange, share housing.
Adventure. - Wilderness survival, urban exploration, stormwater drain exploration, peeing outside, talking to strangers on the street.
Grow food. - Seeds, plants, mulch and compost, tools, community gardens, guerilla gardening, and more.
Garden things to make. - Compost bin, bamboo tipi for climbing plants, worm farm, organic liquid fertiliser, and more.
Ferment. - A way of keeping food for longer than a few days that doesn't involve refrigeration or chemical preservatives. [Interesting chapter - I didn't know that after taking antiobiotics (which I avoid unless absolutely essential anyway) it's important to eat fermented foods to restore your gut's bacteria, and that fermented foods include miso, sourdough bread (my favourite bread!), yoghurt, cheese, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar, wine, beer (yes! can do!) and cider.]
Health. - Another interesting chapter, and no doubt provocative, since it encourages the avoidance of western medical practices, and to do all you can to stay the hell out of hospitals. There are also claims in here like "people have cured themselves of cancer and AIDS purely by tuning into the needs of their bodies." Also mention of "trendy nutrients", which at the moment include iron, folate, omega-3 and niacin).
Technology. - How to make a rocket stove (the centrefold of the zine is an illustrated guide to make one), a zeer pot (a non-electrical refrigerator made from clay pots), solar cooker, haybox cooker, and more.
Hygiene. - Deodorant, shampoo and skincare products are unnecessary, and most of the hygiene products on the market are poisonous to our bodies. There's a list of alternatives to sanitary pads, toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent, sunscreens and moisturisers.
The final chapter, Culture, contains some hippy dippy ideas that are hard to take seriously (unless you are tripping, or extremely drunk) :
- Point out rainbows, sunsets, the rising moon and interesting clouds to strangers.
- Sing, dance and play on the streets.
- Rearrange items on the street for hard rubbish into something more creative. Maybe an outdoor lounge room, or a magical furniture monster.
There's a page of resources listed at the back. too (including some that I heartily recommend myself, for example Thoreau's Walden, and the French documentary The Gleaners & I [2000, Directed by Agnes Varda]).

One final thing - right at the beginning of this zine is a legal notice that contains an alarming item:
"Some US cities ban the growing of food in backyards." What the fuck? Who the hell is gonna stop somebody growing tomatoes or carrots in their own goddamn backyard? And for what reason, may I ask? If I lived in a city like that, I would start growing food in my backyard on principle.