Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More books I've read in 2007

You know what I miss? I miss zines. Yeah, I know about e-zines and e-mags and all the wonders of the World Wide Web, but pixels can never take the place of paper in my heart. There are a lot of blogs and websites that I keep up with, but I still miss holding a new zine in my hands, feeling someone's handiwork, and then putting it away for I am a collector and that's what we do. Some of my favorite zines in the 90s were Thrift Score wherein Al Hoff explored the world of Goodwill and other thrift stores; Goodbye: The Death Zine which is not nearly as morbid as it sounds and is the source of my current fascination with obits, it was from Steve Miller who is currently the obituarist for the New York Sun, and the Sun has great obits but not as great as the ones found in Goodbye; Dishwasher chronicled the attempt of a man we knew only as Dishwasher Pete to get a job washing dishes each of the fifty states. This zine was so enthralling that it actually had a readership of 10,000, pretty amazing for a Xeroxed hand-stapled literary product. I also enjoyed the Hungover Gourmet, which is still being published and I recommend it highly, Mystery Date, and Duplex Planet, which was a series of off-the-wall interviews with nursing home residents.
All of these zines were quirky, idiosyncratic, full of passion and fire, and well-written (though not without typos). Few are still around today and a very select few have been collected in book form. Another of my favorite zines was Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, and it's one of the hardest ones to describe. Paul Lukas (who currently writes for the New York Sun too) took long hard looks at things we see every day but take for granted -- like the Brannock Device -- that shoe-size determing instrument in every shoe store -- and Kraut Juice (Who drinks that stuff? What's in it?) Do you know what two elements the Hydrox cookie is named for? What do you know about Spiedies, Musk flavored Life Savers, do you know Coors intentionally misspelled the word "Arctic" in one of their products? I realize I haven't done a great job of explaining the premise here -- how about we go with "A fascinating zine, now a fascinating book."

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