why i like zines (and minicomics)

and we’re back to the notebook. i wrote this for a little zine that a friend of mine, hatuey, and i put together that compiled contributions from people that participated in our self-publishing workshop that we used to run out of chicago comics. that workshop was called gutters. we don’t do it anymore. so i wrote this on 9/2/05. you’ll see that i out myself as a librarian in this piece. i still agree with what i wrote regarding the “as a librarian” bit, but i’m an archivist more than a librarian at this point. although there’s a lot of overlap between the two. so at some point i could be more of a librarian than an archivist. and it would still rule if i could be a zine librarian/archivist. now you know.


I had

I’ve never really tried to put into words what it is about self publishing in general, zines/minicomics in specific, that draws me in captivates me inspires me engages me.


I’ve written about my frustrations. I don’t know if I’ve ever published any of that – I try to keep things positive – so many rants already there, I try to avoid that. But I have written in my notebooks of how agonizing it can be, how aggravating, how tiring, angering, annoying it can be to do yr own zine. It’s enough to make you say, why bother, and quit.


But I don’t.


There’s something there that keeps me going. This brings me back to my opening sentence. The one I meant to finish. I’ve never really tried to put into words what it is about zines that I love, until recently. Lately I’ve had to explain what zines are to a whole new bunch of people. I’m in library school learning to be a librarian – hopefully a zine librarian/archivist and I’m meeting all these new people that don’t know what zines or minicomics are and they’re intrigued. But they ask or I assume they want to know what makes zines so important. To which I used to take a while going “hmm. Let me think. Umm.”


But now I’ve got it boiled down to one immediate answer. It’s the immediacy, the intimacy of zines that I love. The instantaneous expression of ideas and opinions. But as a librarian what is important is the documentation of the everyday. The preservation of this huge record of information about normal people. Not celebrities. Not politicians. Not athletes. No stars. Just plain regular people who are observing their world, their lives. That is an important body of information.


500 years from now. We’re all dead. Generations have come and gone. But, theoretically, those people will look at the zines from now and see what was going on. They’ll see what we cared about. What you and I were doing. Us unfamous yokels. What we thought. Even if we’re just writing about bands and bikes and our traumatic high school experiences and loves and ups and downs. It may seem trivial, but it’s not.


Diy publishers. Zinesters are documenting important information for posterity. Whether we admit it or not.


That of course is my high falootin answer. Ask me sometime in person and the first thing I’ll say is. Um. I don’t know. I like zines. Then I’ll shuffle my feet and look at the ground.

mexico pics

these are some of the pictures i took while i was in mexico. i was thinking i might use some of them in flotation device 12, but due to aesthetic and thematic reasons i decided against it. i might put some more up later. i didn’t take a lot of pictures  while i was there because i was there for so long that it felt weird by the time i actually took out my camera. like taking random pictures of yr hometown or something. so i don’t have any of guadalajara. just a few of the house where i stayed and some a few of the neighborhood. i do regret that i didn’t take more. oh well.

this first one is in the common area just off of my bedroom which is the door to the right. to the left is the door to the bathroom. there’s an open air skylight above.

this one is taken from my bedroom.

from the balcony

this one is looking north from the main balcony out front.

more from the front balcony. a woman sold fresh carrot juice at the house at the far left of the frame where that dark doorway is. she had a juicer and would juice the carrots and pour it in a bag, put a straw in there and twist the bag shut with the straw sticking out. yay for morning!

this is looking in at my bedroom. there it is. or was.


a couple years ago i had one of those waking dream things where you dream that yr awake, but yr not. not yet. i had like double vision going on. vision inside my dream and vision of my waking self. and the two weren’t matching up. as soon as i fully woke up and calmed down from the panic and disorientation i was feeling, i wrote this down on an envelope.

i couldn’t wake up. like a picture in front of my eyes of the living room. i could feel my hands and arms moving but all i could see was me laying on the couch in the living room. occasional flashes of outlines of my hands moving. i could feel me touching me but couldn’t see the action. couldn’t sit up. woke up inside a dream of the same. terror. terror. what time/day is it? pressure on my chest. someone holding me pulling me down? how long did it take to wake myself up? many times.

this sort of thing has happened to me before. and i’m sure it’ll happen again, but this was the only time i wrote it down. so i can actually remember it. and i can still remember seeing what i saw while it was going on. it was kind of cool. ghost arms and blurred movement.

reading, watching, listening

let’s get caught up. nerd stylee.

what i’ve been reading –

iggy pop: open up and bleed
by paul trynka. if you ever think you’ve made some bad decisions in yr life. read this. other people have made worse. every time you think, good god can it get worse for iggy? yes. yes it can.

uptight: the velvet underground story
by victor bockris.

bowie in berlin: a new career in a new town
 by thomas jerome seabrook. nerdy revelations revealed!

; and the cinnamon peeler both by michael ondaatje.

what i’ve been watching –

my winnipeg
by guy maddin. i love guy even more now that he’s revealed himself to be a labor loving, for the worker type. also, dude loves hockey. loves it. and aside from being an amazing director. he’s a genius with title cards.

by andrei tarkovsky. slow and awesome. as opposed to aranofsky’s the fountain which was slow and fucking boring! i’m still waiting for that plot to start.

some awesome kraut rock performances on dvd. why did kraftwerk ever become robots? they ruled with a flute. seriously.


fishing with john

and listening to –

pauline oliveros and joe mcphee – unquenchable fire.

tubeway army – replicas.

the ex – instant.

plastic crimewave sound – live at subterranean on june 21 2008. nick’s last show, which is sad. but it was a righteous show!

killer whales – live at pritzker pavillion on june 30 2008. a good lunch hour.

the partydowners – live at the empty bottle. fucking rock and roll party down! you call that a sport!

spring, writing, jazz



Cloudy out now. It was sunny. A few fluffy spring Chicago clouds warm sun filling the porch sitting on the stoop wearing sandals feeling good in the early evening sun setting sun. Rain clouds now wind in trees people heading home hurrying before the water breaks. Cars headlights squealing brakes as they hit the speed bump in front of my apartment their sensitive metal underparts scraping along the top of the hump as they inevitably bottom out. A skater with a backpack slowly cruising by with his skateboard overstuffed huge backpack strapped to his back. Street lights on.


Mexico. That’s a big one. But it lacks emotional depth. It’s not like Costa Rica at all. Selected high lights only please review tape. Highlight reel. Playing shows with the rories. Shit job extravaganza paper source. Unemployment. Depression. Therapy. Not getting a job at borders. Library school? Current events. All the new people I know. How underwhelming and alone it was to come back to Chicago. How much I love Chicago. Interview people? Put jrnlsm to use? About what? Research? Exciting possibilities. Jazz zines? How sexy is yrs? Does it get anybetter than don cherry? No. it doesn’t.


All these possibilities. Of course none of them call me. Maybe I’ll just go with the unstated and most seductive one. Just write for a while. Seemingly unrelated bits and pieces and construct them later into something greater. Just write and through structure create the new – create meaning bring a sleight order to the chaos. Not chaos but random. Find the thematic link later. Be jazz.


Be jazz.

But not like Kerouac mythology. Be free now. Be free for now and reign it in – form formless later.

Jazz editing to follow jazz writing.


Jazz editing.


Free jazz is energy. Falling in love every time a new record comes on. Falling in love with every song. Energy. Energy. Action. Change politics freedom protest liberation. It’s all there w/in the energy w/in the skronk the smooth the beat the rhythm the bass the piano.


Collections of invocations.

Notebook collection

Am I allowed to do that

Something so raw and dumb

Just me talking w/out reason

w/out a point


I suppose it’s the attempt. This discipline thing. To just write and write everyday regardless of whether or not it’s good or usable. Just write. Keep in the habit. Flex that muscle. Keep that shit toned.


So here I am writing just to write to make myself write. Sun ra on the stereo before that, art ensemble. I love this shit so much. Jazz my new rock. Something new to obsess about. Nerd.



I’m spending so much time playing guitar. Hours and hours just standing in front of my amp electric guitar hanging from my shoulder. Red and white. Sometimes I watch my hands move in the reflection of the tv screen. Sometimes in the mirror. I watch my hands move from fret to fret. Fingers picking out a melody. My brain gets confused watching myself play in the mirror – it’s all backwards I inevitably fuck it up while watching myself play. Like a taboo. Something not to do – watch yrself play an instrument.

It’s too much tho. I play all the time. I think cuz I’ve gotten to the point where it’s easier than it was before. To the point that it’s like a new vocabulary. And what’s a new vocabulary other than anew obsession. New words new means of expression. That detracts from my first obsession – writing. I should be spending hours and hours scribbling in notebooks reacquainting myself with words. With structure. W/sentences. w/my shorthand.

My shorthand. These scribbles that look kind of strange now. Unfamiliar. A novelty. I actually notice my handwriting. It’s been so long – it’s so foreign that I notice it.

It’s because music is easier right now. I don’t have to think with music. I just fuck around until something works. There’s less fucking with writing. At least for me. If I’m fucking around with writing – I feel like I’m wasting time, ink, paper, energy…

Wasting. Because writing random sentence fragments is not practice. I don’t have the same luxury as people who draw. Who can doodle and attempt to draw something. Just do it and have it be practical. Have it be practice. I suppose technically I could look at an object and waste a page describing it but it would just be waste. Because my joy in writing comes from structure and sequencing – the construction of the narrative. This requires output – meaningful output. Pieces that come together and make a whole. Output. Empty descriptions do not work for me.

I write all this totally overlooking the issue. Why is it easier to play guitar than it is to write. Why do I spend all my time playing guitar thinking about writing. My mind always on writing. My heart wants to be there…

It’s because of what I mentioned before about structure and construction. I feel safest when I have a plan for the overall story – the heart – the guts – the idea. A purpose a reason a goal. I don’t have this right now. Haven’t had it for a while. I’ve been too busy reordering my life telling myself I have nothing to say. Listening to sad music. I’m at the point where I just feel like if I don’t have a purpose a tangible goal a series of pieces a story to tell – then why bother.

When I made zines before – when I first started making zines – I would publish whatever random notes – scraps, bits, torn words, it didn’t matter – there wasn’t a story there. They were purely independent from each other. I was happy with that.

But that was ten years ago.
Now I need that crucial thematic link.

Those links used to come easy. I just wrote about my adolescence. Growing up. High school mostly. Easy. Who doesn’t have shit to say about their high school experience. Yay. I felt ostracized and alienated. Who didn’t. it served its purpose though. But I’ve kissed it goodbye – got it all out of my system. I have nothing left to say about high school. It was over ten years ago.

So I just have to wait for some experiences to accrue. No problem no sweat.


here’s a list of subtitles for an aborted zine. or the one that became flotation device 12.


My year of false starts.
My year of waiting.
My year of minor revolutionary changes.
My year of not calling my friends.
My year of thumbs.
My year of throwing up in parking lots.
My year of unanswered emails.
My year of unreturned phone calls.
My year of 2nd first shows.
My year of undeclared war.
My year of declaring war.

30 cents to ride the bus in Guadalajara.
Countless trips to the corner to get milk and eggs. Tortillas. Beans.

blue line, winter

so i’ve started writing in a new notebook and before i put the old one in storage i started looking through it. and i decided to post some of the pieces that didn’t make it into the upcoming flotation device 12. the pieces start a while back, 2005. it’s taken me three years to finish what turned into fd 12. that’s a long time for me. it looks like i’m starting chronologically, but we’ll see if that lasts. i might end up getting bored and wanting to jump around a bit. and with some of them i’ll want to talk a little about them, others – like this one, are kind of just what they are.


     friday night on the blue line train coming back home from work. the long way around. the red line at belmont downtown switch to blue line. 11.45pm. blizzard. 7 inches of snow in a few hours. didn’t want to deal with busses.
     sitting in the corner writing lyrics on a scrap of paper. hat on scarf wrapped around my neck. so many layers of clothes on. a guy across from me. huge duffel bag. appropriate cuz he’s so huge. black with long black hair.
     a girl talking loud. everything’s fucked she says. fuckin this. fuckin that. “my fuckin landlord gets back in a week. he wants the fuckin money. i don’t fuckin got it.” real pale. dark hair. some pulled back some in her face. “this shit is like fuckin pure mdma,” she says…
     walking down wrightwood from the blue line. 12.30am. snow blowing in the wind. still falling heavy. following paths carved by cars, walking in the tire tracks. the sidewalks still unshovelled, too much work to walk on them. occasional cars. they drive slowly – careful not to lose control. snowflakes in the headlights. i step out of their way and into snowdrifts to let them pass.
     quiet. muffled. mute. i can only hear what’s inside a 10 foot sphere around me. everything else fades away in the snowy night.


i came across this entry in my notebook from 8/28/05.

all these inspiring people and now the allure of poetry. that’s fucked. i must remain strong. i must maintain my staunch anti poetry stance but there’s always that allen ginsberg romance. these power words that invoke and evoke. make you feel something. make me feel something. poetry. shit ass junk poetry trite banal ridiculous and pompous arrogant poetry laughing at you. makes you start writing in the first place but in turn you turn on it realize it for what it is. a sham. a hoax. a myth. a catalyst. a springboard. inspiration. romance. see how that happened. hatred to romance all in a few lines. that’s the danger of it. that falseness. that deceit. refuse and reject poetry. coopt the images the iconography the messages but deny the medium. poetry.

what i find a little interesting is that i continued and continue to be drawn to the idea of poetry. even though i hate reading it generally. i’m drawn to this magic that i have attributed to it. but i always have had a soft spot in my heart for allen ginsberg, who i love. and right now i’m reading some of the books of poems that michael ondaatje has put out. but part of that is because i’m such a junkie for ondaatje and his prose and poetry aren’t all the different from each other – the main difference being where the line breaks and how the words are arranged on the page.