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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Totally agree, there's such a difference between Blogs and magazines. They might focus on similar topics but it's such an effort to keep constantly keep up to date blogging. It's building a momentum and if you stop at all, it sets you back big time. Tried to check out that zine wiki but looks like it's fucked. That's a pity, wanted to read that interview with John D....
Hey Bren, the wiki does look a little fucked - but if you scope down to the end of all that mad coding errors shite you should still be able to read the jist of most of whats on it. Even the search works, and you know - it was fine the other day.
Cool, checking it out now. Thanks...
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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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