Wednesday, March 23, 2005

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FANZINES GONE?

Good question, since I've been kinda won'drin' myself. Y'see, there was a time in my life when fanzines were pretty much a huge hunkerin' part of my rock & roll lifeblood just as much as getting hold of some hot independently-produced single by an underground fave felt like a deed most worthy of heavenly reward (this being long before the "indie" mania of the eighties and beyond changed the beast into a slightly-different character that seemed unrecognizable to me even a decade after the original oomph!). And as you would guess, these self-published wonders were just what the doctor ordered especially in a world soon to be overrun with mediocrity masquerading as alternative innovation...with fanzines, you didn't have to cut through the chaff to get to your faverave underground bands (who at the time were so infinitely superior to the relatively soft schmooze that was supposed to "speak to/for you and your generation")...all you hadda do was just open up the things and readreadREAD on about some group that seemed to have all of the smart moves and concepts rolled into a fine package custom-made for your suburban dumboid lifestyle living vicariously through the exploits of the latest Velvet Underground to come down the punkwave chute. While the mainstream magazines may have had "it" (in pure Clara Bow-speak) some of the time, it was pretty much GUARANTEED that the fanzines, even the lowlier "crudzines" of the day, had it ALL of the time and given that the likes of Christopher Cross and Robin Trower were the big guns while the likes of the Zantees and Fleshtones hadda struggle to keep their heads above water, what more could ya ask for?

Natch'ly those days are long-gone, pretty much killed off not only from scores of subpar "alternative" acts taking the innovation of the sixties/seventies and watering it down for mass consumption (or so they dream), but mostly by the advent of internet where just about anyone can flog on about just about any group no matter how unprepared for public consumption (at least to the audience they may be aimed at) they are or, for that matter, how decidedly non-jamz they continue to be. Oh well, things gotta change (or so I've been told), but there are a few things out there that have changed in my life that I sure miss all them years later! Such as the proliferation of fanzines along the lines of KICKS, SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE, DENIM DELINQUENT, LIVING EYE and others who used to make my trips to the mailbox such an exhilarating experience. It may be a reflection of my so-called miserable existence, but such activities as seeking out new and exciting fanzines was something that truly fluttered my putter back in them days, along with being able to turn on a television and find some great boss fiftles TV show or flick custom-made for my doofus existence, that is.

Enough reminiscing...anyway, there are a few fanzines out there still cranking out the good stuff even in these post-post-POST rockism days...UGLY THINGS naturally comes to mind as does DAGGER even though I can't really comprehend a good deal of the music Tim Hinely has an undying affinity for, but that's my hang-up. These magazines (and a few more...will there ever be a new MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE heading our way???) seem to be part of the same dying prairie that now houses a few hoary old buffalos in a field once swarming with the critters, and true, you could say that this is the natural chain of events and that the music and people who have supported these sounds have skeedaddled off to the Old Rockism Home long ago, but frankly a stubborn soul such as I refuses to take this new capitulation lying down! So let me predict in pure Criswell fashion that there will be a rebirth in the rock fanzine idiom (just as there has been in SciFi and comic book fandom in recent years), and you and I will be witness to this new rebirth in underground rock adoration! Mark this date...July 16, 2007!

Until that fateful day comes, here's a little-heralded fanzine for you to get your grubby paws on. I've had copies of BACK OF A CAR (c/o Judith Beeman, #4636 MPO, Vancouver BC, CANADA V6B 4A1) for a couple years already, but it suddenly dawned on me that I never wrote about 'em in my entire career, or if I had it was probably in issues #22 or 23 and I never re-read those 'uns unless really hard up for toilet material. But I gotta say that I really enjoy BOAC not only because it's such a nice fanzine to settle down with after a hard day at the salt mines, but it's one of the few fanzines out there that reminds me of the cool and breezy personal style (meaning, editor/writer Judith Beeman and her contributors talk to you in the best fanzine tradition) that one could even find in early-seventies college paper rock criticism before it all seemed to go down the hole only to be replaced by immature hackery and pseudo-intellectual nada about one step above your typical snake-oil shill hyping up the rubes.

As you may guess from the title, this fanzine is devoted to the likes of one Alex Chilton and his endeavors (especially early-seventies underground wonders Big Star), and even though I'm only a peripheral fan of Alex and his friends which is something that would probably have Beeman sending me a Unabomber parcel if she only knew (though I will admit that LIKE FLIES ON SHERBERT remains a classic late-seventies underground/punk landmark amidst all my other faves of the time-period), even with the hefty Chilton/Bell/Stephens coverage I really can attach to BOAC strictly because it is so seventies even in an oh-ohs world that I don't have to flinch thinking about the next assault on my tastes/values like I hadda do with too many decadent (in the worst eighties/nineties fashion) 'zines of recent years.

Besides being a great writer, Beeman's a fantastic cartoon fan and the comix that various contributors have delineated (some written by her) for BOAC sure beat the fertilizer outta the stuff that I've scribbled for early issues of my own 'zoon...believe me, KICKOUT D. JAMZ let alone RATS REAGAN (cartoon mouse patterned on Ignatz I did age 13 or so, one gross example [dealing with EC-styled decay!] having been printed in a now o.p. back issue) really pale next to the guffaw-laden works that appear in BOAC's pages. And not only that, but the writing that shows up here is top-notch apex-level material that seems to have been all but wooshed away by a lotta the bottom-feeding musings that have been appearing in magazines and on the web over the past umpteen years. Couple that with the needed reprints not only from rock mags but the funny pages (!) and a great layout/printjob, and you've got something you kinda wish more people knew about only they won't because all of these "big guns" out there are in the back pockets of some of the worst ideas/creeds to come down the pike since the rash of "__________"-core groups of the previous decade that the entire battery of rock critics out there couldn't convince me to listen to in a million years!

My fave of these issues just hasta be #4, the "seventies" one and for obvious reasons natch! With "Barney and Mike" of CREEM-fame on the cover, this one's got it all onna ball and even tops CIMMARRON WEEKEND's CREEM ish a few years back complete with an in-depth interview with "Barney and Mike" creator Bob Wilson, not to mention snat ad/review reprints (like the METAL MACHINE MUSIC page with Ed Ward, Lester Bangs and "Cyborg QX38" giving their impressions of Lou Reed's masterpiece not forgetting POP WIRE's "Chest-O-Rama" contest), plus there are a lotta great 'toons dealing with the seventies muzak scene as experienced by current Canadian cartoonies and hottest of all some DENIM DELINQUENT news (keeping with the "Canadian Content") complete with the Kim Fowley article originally published in #5 as well as editor Jymn Parrett's Gene Pitney sketch eventually printed in 16 magazine of all places! I especially dug the cartoon on the back cover about Beeman's own experiences as a Bay City Rollers-loving teen walking down the streets of Vancouver inna middle part of that sainted decade getting psychically razzed by some tuff guy and his bra-less galpal EVEN THOUGH SHE WASN'T EVEN WEARING ANY SORTA BAY CITY ROLLERS PARAPHRENALIA AT ALL!!! I guess they just thought she was a fan because she was a teenager, but boy did that experience ruin her day! Well, I certainly can understand being ridiculed for things ya just hafta believe in!!!

I forgot to tell you that #5 comes with a Chris Bell flexidisc (which I haven't played yet not only because even my substitute turntable did an 86 but I'm too anal-retentive to tear the thing outta my mag), plus I got a buncha CDs from Beeman that I can't find though I'll be giving those a spin when I have an occasion to search 'em out. As for you, dear reader, you can be manly enough to tear out the flexi and keep track of your digital wares after writing to the above address and latching onto your own copies of these modern-day wonders. And once I get down to it, I guess I like BOAC the same way I like the Velvet Underground and all those seventies fanzines and archival digs of all sorts of long-gone things because frankly, I'm old-fashioned! So get me my rocking chair and shawl and call me Whistler's Mother...I'm gonna go give SISTER LOVERS a spin right now!

5 comments:

Trickknee said...

Admittedly, the zine landscape is fairly fallow, but much of it has to do with the easy (no or little $$$) entrance fee of blogs and webzines, of which there are a decent number of good ones. Nothing touches mags like Forced Exposure nowadays, but Horizontal Action is definitely good for the reviews (the xerox porn and silly interviews don't add much). I write for www.terminal-boredom.com, which I think is good stuff, and you can link off to other good resources from the Links page.

Trickknee said...

Admittedly, the zine landscape is fairly fallow, but much of it has to do with the easy (no or little $$$) entrance fee of blogs and webzines, of which there are a decent number of good ones. Nothing touches mags like Forced Exposure nowadays, but Horizontal Action is definitely good for the reviews (the xerox porn and silly interviews don't add much). I write for www.terminal-boredom.com, which I think is good stuff, and you can link off to other good resources from the Links page.

greg landel said...

Haven't seen a Horizontal Action in years! I contributed an article for them back in the 90s, which was really fun. Just checked out terminal boredom. Kinda cool, but seems like a snobby boys club that tries to outdo each other with bad reviews. And what's with those interviews? Seems like they try to poorly copy the old HA interview style, but really can't anyone think of original questions anymore?

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