zine review: cul-de-sac #7

Cul-de-sac #7
The Adult Geek Issue
by Liz Mason & Julie Halpern

I’ve known Liz Mason through zines for many years, probably since I first began selling my zine Thoughtworm on consignment through Quimby’s in Chicago in the early 2000s. We traded zines, too, and I always enjoyed reading hers, both her own perzine Caboose, and the zine Cul-de-sac which she co-publishes with her friend Julie Halpern. Zine time can be very slow, though. It had been 20 years since the last issue of Cul-de-sac appeared! So when I heard there was a new one out, I was really looking forward to it.

As someone who hasn’t been reading perzines lately, it was interesting to read one written by two people close to my own age (that is, a bit older than most people I know of who tend to write perzines). This new issue, subtitled ‘The Adult Geek Issue’, addresses the shifts in one’s milieu associated with aging, though not always at a straight angle.  Liz and Julie take turns penning essays on topics ranging from the light-hearted (changing taste in pop culture, celebrity encounters both direct and indirect, love of the television series Ancient Aliens) to the more thoughtful and serious (the regrettable disintegration of one’s D&D group, the experience of feeling like a square peg in round subcultural holes, a personal history of miscarriages).

Two of Liz’s essays particulary resonated with me. The first is one in which she discusses how she has never felt like she fit in with any subculture (be it punk, geek, zinester, etc.), despite her best efforts. Her point that ‘when you start to identify with the idiosyncrasies of what makes you you, you have to exist outside the group’ is an insightful one. In order to make peace with one’s status as an individualist, one must eventually learn to accept this somewhat bitter truth. The other essay of Liz’s that struck me was a rather rambling one titled, in part, ‘It Is Normal to Have a Shitty Time at the Party.’ In it, Liz hits on topics such as aging, personal identity, what it means to leave a legacy, and the importance of making honest human connections. This essay, like much of Liz’s zine writing, is funny, pensive, poignant, and pleasantly digressive all at once.

I suspect that many people approaching middle age who have struggled to fit in, lurked around on the fringes of society, however you want to phrase it, will find something relatable in this zine. And it’s been a fine reminder to me of that special type of raw, open writing I often find in zines that I so rarely encounter anywhere else.

Cul-de-sac #7 is available through Quimby’s, both in-store and online. Or you could go the old-fashioned route and mail $3 to: PO Box 477553, Chicago, IL 60647.

another review of rain crow

A new review of Rain Crow straight from the pages of the most excellent Razorcake, the only official non-profit DIY punk rock fanzine in the USA. If you like the punk rock, why don’t you have a subscription, huh. (Note: Razorcake is a PRINT magazine, with actual pages that you turn with your fingers. The reviews are also posted on their website.)

(Thanks, Todd!)

first review of rain crow

Rain Crow received its first review last week at DJ Frederick’s excellent site One Minute Zine Reviews. It is one of the most thoughtful reviews any of my publications has ever received. And his description of me writing ‘like an alchemist’ is likely the finest compliment anyone has ever granted me in a review. It also reminded me that… I must return soon to my laboratory.

If you have some time, I recommend poking around among DJ Frederick’s many other projects, including his various radio shows (my favorite so far is his folk show Night Train to Mundo Fine), links to all of which can be found at his Cottage Industry site.

moving pictures

Last night I watched The Good Life. I liked it. It was the kind of movie I tend to like. There was an outsider and life seemed to be hitting him hard where it counts. I always identify with outsider characters, be they in books, movies, or in real life. This movie also featured Zooey Deschanel. I like her. She seems to have impeccable taste in the projects she takes on, even Elf. All the Real Girls is a particularly good movie she was in. Harry Dean Stanton was also in this film, and I loooove Harry Dean Stanton. He is the man. Two words: Repo Man. Mark Webber played the main character in The Good Life and he did a bang-up job. He was also the kid in Broken Flowers. I don’t think I’ve seen him in any other films, but now I will keep my eye out. After the movie ended, I sat quietly for a few minutes. I usually do this after I finish watching a movie I like, especially one that stimulates my creative impulses. It needs to sink in a bit.

Well, I’ll be away for a while, but not too long. When I come back, maybe I’ll have something to write about…maybe.

This post filtered through the sounds of Mogwai “Yes! I Am a Long Way From Home.”

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