Thursday, February 28, 2008

Broken Pencil Gets It's Irish On


Sort of perfect timing this one, allowing me to throttle two zine related posts in one punchy go. First off, Loserdom number 17 came out some time last week. I've mentioned Loserdom over this direction before, when I was particularly delighted so that the whole affair had gone online.

Falling headlong into the clickaholic mode that dawns on me every so often, the new Loserdom announcement prompted me to run over to the Zine Wiki, where there's a brilliant history of early Irish zines by one of the blokes behind Loserdom. Now the best thing about the wiki, is not the information on the zines - mainly who copied with who and what local scene they covered - but the occasional splattering of links to some well dodge mid-90's Geocities pages that roam the net like the living dead.

These are left over as html-ified archives of zine based writing, great for those of us without old stuffed shoe boxes under their bed full of the original xeroxes. Here's some examples of where you can at least trace something out about how some of these dropped;

  • Slanted and Enchanted - love affairs with Warp Records, the long gone Temple of Sound and madser mid'90's Ireland at its proto-Slate best.

  • The Path - If that Crimethinc lot are indomitably associated with crust punk, then this was a double sided A4 page freesheet that shared at least some of their anti-work and sensational rage to life but through a laconic pill head trapped on the assembly line sensibility. Living with your ethics, the M50, a 24 hours where the end of the world was nigh and a social history of the Monto get a look in.

  • Direct Action Against Apathy - brought you a guide to squatting in the bushes on your travels, and free music from the band Devil's Bit Scabious, laced with anarcho politics too.

  • Gearhead Nation - said to be the original '90's zine that buoyed the boom of print copies during the period, it seemed quite politically focussed and a fair few copies online.

  • Analogue Bubblebath - taking its name from an Aphex track maybe, this one had an interview with Freebird Records' John Dee on the history of that Dublin record shop.

What interests me most about these is the level of variety contained within each one, it's impossible to slap them in the face with associations with only a punk mileu and tradition of music. Most of the Irish blogs knocking around today are certifiably monolithic in their pursuit of niche topics, it's either music or politics, film or literature, art or style, or continuous shout outs to their friends - completely one sided approaches. Where with these zines, they were at least somewhat multifaceted.

With the desperate lack of proper alternative free magazines around Dublin now, they hint at a rather bubbling mid 1990's independent spirit that really doesn't seem that well reflected on the blogs and websites that have come to replace the zines. Sure, it's the spurt in a culture of music forums over the past decade that definitely put the nail in the coffin of zine culture. But a young kid from down the train tracks, and up to Dublin to poke around Temple Bar, is not going to stumble upon, say, a lost copy of when having their coffee.

Blogs require shooting your mouth off impatiently, attempting to stay fresh - it must have been so much more appealing to relax and put together a zine, trading addresses and reviews to tap into further distribution channels patiently rather, than racing to keep a site updated.

Moving on, recently Broken Pencil, doyens of the North American zinester world, held their Canzine event in Toronto - a huge show case of independent magazine talent and music, I'd intended to put together a special offline zine version of Soundtracksforthem for the day that was in it and table it with herself, who was due to be distributing copies of the Rag at it.

I booked the table, but never got the hard copy versions thrown together quick enough. Copies of the Rag never arrived, but the organisers were kind enough to return the tabling deposit and throw in a free year's subscription out of sympathy. So it arrived in the post today, and holy moly they reviewed Soundtracksforthem in their ezine section. Click over this direction to have a read of the review. Matt Vinyl's in there too.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fecking Civil Servents


You know over at that Irish civil service website? Where it says "please complete the following Questionnaire" for the Temporary Clerical Officer role that's dished out to all sundry, and especially hopeless for the summer? I'm just curious, but the link to that test is a scrambled url reading So that's a dead end then. Now that's something that might put a lot of less tech sussed people off, or at the very least, frustrate them into throwing a head but into their lap top screen. But that's not the only screw up with the whole affair.

The self assessment advises you to take twenty minutes or so, and put them aside to complete the whole shebang. Then the site downloads with all the pain and strain of a server vomiting its bandwidth over to you from a dial up connection, and choking half way through a screen load. It took me three hours, I swear to God - three hours to do one simple job application survey.

Now, is that a consequence of some cute hoor muck savage of a tech boy in one of the departments, sabotaging the whole affair. All in order to save the 500 advertised work placements for his own social network of third cousins, GAA club drinking buddies and young girls he's shifted out the back of Copper Face Jacks, then promised work to while they were stuck for a job between applying to Templemore? Or was I just having a real bad night online?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Fake Pharma Ads

Over the last week or so, fake pharmaceutical ads for a drug styling itself “Obay” started jumping up across Ontario. Immediately the mind starts springing with”hey its corporate a rip off of Shepard Fairey (aka OBEY).” But no it wasn’t. With the transit commission and the ad regulatory body refusing to budge and give up the ghost of who was doing the advertising, it was left to the Torontoist to suss it out.

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Vidiot: Data Entry

Boy! Do we have the career for you. Do you have the talent and capability to pace yourself to avoid eye strain and other repetitive strain injuries? Have you ever thought you might like a workplace with good lighting, comfortable chairs and an actual desk? Think you can handle the responsibility of double checking? Then we might be able to plug you in as a data entry bot.

And there’s lots more benign helpful corporate advice for you lost mid-twenties souls out there all courtesy of some madsers called Gadball. It’s all a little too like one of those information videos Lisa Simpson always got subjected to in junior high for my liking.


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Life and Debt

Wiretap Magazine is a pretty liberal online creature, with its head well up the Democrats’ arse, but that said - at least it actually pays its youthful writers. This week it carries a decent piece on the crisis of credit facing North American third level students. Anyone that has ever seen the documentary Maxed Out will have some idea of just how credit has evolved as a a linchpin of North American consumer culture, but really it has quite startling effects.

For instance, try working in your typical North American workplace. In one call centre I did a stint in, way out in suburban north Toronto, it was pretty damn obvious that most of those working the 14 and 16 hour shifts, and without family, were there only as a result of credit card debt. Usually it was from frivolous expenditure or holiday resort based tourism binges in places like Cuba. The work ethic and job loyalty was frantic, and it was no surprise for me to hear today on CBC that something like 67% of Canadians disapprove of workmates using the internet for personal use. I mean, come on.

On a side note, one of thatWiretap site’s regular contributers Larisa Mann might be more familiar to readers under her DJ moniker of Ripley.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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Gig Review: The Fall Tripod
Gig Review: Gogol Bordello
Broken Pencil Gets It's Irish On
Fecking Civil Servents
Fake Pharma Ads
Vidiot: Data Entry
Life and Debt
Last Night Cosmo Baker Saved My Life / Hip Hop His...
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Review: Heads for the heart of the Sun – The Welco...
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