Back in the dark days before "blogs", there were these printed pamphlets called "zines". Zines were self-produced mini-magazines (or chapbook, if you are that classy), usually filled with one persons stories, rants, political musings, drawerings, and vegan biscuit recipes. They were sort of like the blog of their time. But just as telegraphs and telephones literally shot the last passenger pigeon out of the air in 1914, blogs, tweets, and the book of face have made printed media redundant.
But just as the cycling world is full of retro-grouches (thank you, Grant Peterson!) who refuse to let perfectly functional yet outmoded technologies and styles die, there are a die-hard group of folk who will keep on printing zines, even after they embed Kindles literally into our heads. Part of the appeal to zines is while anyone with spare time, a computer, and internet (read: everyone except my mom) can make a blog, webpage, or what-have-you; it takes more effort to lay out a zine (with or without the aid of computers), print said zine, and then get it out to the world VIA POST (those stamps actually COST MONEY!) So nowadays the world of zine has eliminated most of the chaff, leaving the wheat.
Today's entry will talk about "the wheat", four zines that have come into my post-box in the past few months. All of these zines have something to do with bikes, exploration, or urban areas (sometimes all three!)
A note about buying zines: the "old school" way is to send well-concealed cash (bills, not coin) in an envelope. Include your name and address inside the envelope, and if you want a specific issue, note that too. DO NOT SEND PERSONAL CHECKS. I know that sending money through the mail goes against "what your mom taught you", but believe me, it works. If the money somehow gets lost (rare), then, it's only a couple bucks.
First off, zines that came out on a regular schedule were even an anomaly back when it mattered, (the '90's, when you can get a book deal from writing a zine. See, just like blogs!) so it's always cool to see a publication stick to a schedule in the post-zine age. And Fred Argoff's zine WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS arrives every other month, on schedule, which is more reliable than the subject matter: subways. Fred mostly writes about New York's subway system, as it's what he's most familiar with, being a life-long Brooklynite and a former employee of the MTA. The pages of WTCD detail its many lines, through detailed descriptions, photos, and folklore. Fred also "branches out" (ha, ha!) and covers rail transit all over the world. The latest issue is 53. Copies can be obtained for $3 each, or $10 for a year subscription (4 quarterly issues). FRED ARGOFF, Penthouse L, 1170 Ocean Pkwy, Brooklyn NY 11230
For our next zine, we'll go all the way to the Atlantic reaches of Canada for THE MOTIVIST. Published by Sarah Evans and Alan Barbour, this zine documents their explorations (usually by bicycle) of the areas around Halifax and Nova Scotia in general. The most recent issue (#6, Fall 2010,) titled "Natural Paths", details a couple rides on rail-trails. While they like the idea of a separated, mostly-flat, and car-free bike route, they mourn the trains that used to ply these corridors. Earlier issues explored the area around Sackville, New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy. Send them a couple bucks (or a "toonie" I guess) for an issue or $25 (or "equivalent") for a full year subscription. 2649 Fuller Terrace, Halifax NS B3K 3V8
Now let's head to the heartland! Iowa City contains my favorite bike shop that I've never been to, 30th Century Bicycle. Proprietor Cody G. has been involved zines and their bastard second-cousin, "mini-comics," since before the shop opened in '09. She has put out a collection of her illustrated musings, AWKWARDLY PUT, for many a moon. The latest issue is a departure from the diary-styled format she's employed. This issue (#14) talks about the black walnut tree in her yard. You can pick up a copy for, oh $4 or $5 I guess (no one puts prices in their zines anymore, so I'm guessing). Cody can be reached courtesy of 30 Century Bicycle, 310 E Prentiss St C, Iowa City IA 52240
And back to Portland, where Elly Blue has out a fresh issue of TAKING THE LANE. Volume 2, titled Revolutions Every Damn Day, is a "collabo" featuring the thoughts of many women on the issue of "women and bikes". It runs the gamut, from Citybikes co-owner and former Biker Pride contributor Beth Hamon's war against womens-specific "sport" wear, to experiences working in bike shops in the '80's, to wheel building. Pick up an issue for only $3 (I guess). Email her at eleanor.blue at gmail dawt com or order a copy via Microcosm Publishing.
And I'm sure there will be more zine reviews to come! If you have a zine or comic you'd like me to see, whether you think it's "Urban Adventure League appropriate" or not, please send it to:
URBAN ADVENTURE LEAGUE
P O BOX 14185
PORTLAND OR 97293-0185