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With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history

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So far in Fear Of A Punk Decade, I’ve been going year-by-year through the ’90s, tackling the progression of punk and hardcore in tidy, 12-month chunks. In September I covered 1992, which means this installment ought to cover 1993. It doesn’t. Instead, I’m taking October off from our regularly scheduled FOAPD program to wander down a tangent—or create a sidebar—to the rest of the series. This month, let’s talk zines.

With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history

By Jason Heller
October 15, 2013

So far in Fear Of A Punk Decade, I’ve been going year-by-year through the ’90s, tackling the progression of punk and hardcore in tidy, 12-month chunks. In September I covered 1992, which means this installment ought to cover 1993. It doesn’t. Instead, I’m taking October off from our regularly scheduled FOAPD program to wander down a tangent—or create a sidebar—to the rest of the series. This month, let’s talk zines.

“Zine”—as everyone got sick of either explaining or having explained to them in the ’90s—is short for “magazine.” But the two terms aren’t interchangeable. Zines are proudly amateur, usually handmade, and always independent. In the ’90s, zines were the primary way to stay up on punk and hardcore. But they were more than that. Before the Internet began to supersede them in the late ’90s, zines were the blogs, comment sections, and social networks of their day. They had interviews with bands. They had reviews of records. They had ads for bands and records. They had letters pages, opinion columns, news briefs, scene reports, best-of lists, classifieds, and sometimes even flexi discs: floppy little records with exclusive songs from one or more of the bands covered therein, bound right into the middle of the zine. Everything available on music websites today—from listicles to think pieces to flame wars to music streams—could be seen in zines. Only by different names. And a bit slower.

The snail-mail pace of zines—as well as the requirement to own or borrow a physical copy—necessitated the creation of a meta-zine: Factsheet Five. Launched in the early ’80s by editor-publisher Mike Gunderloy to be primarily a science-fiction zine, Factsheet Five grew to become the nerve center of the zine network: a place where zinemakers sent their wares, got them reviewed, and in turn read reviews of others’ zines, which allowed them to trade output and connect via the United States Postal Service. Compared to what the Internet does now, it was almost criminally inefficient—and sure enough, Factsheet Five folded in 1998 after being rendered obsolete by the Internet. But there were merits to that inefficiency. Finding an envelope full of zines in the mailbox was an event. The appearance of a link in the inbox doesn’t quite compare. And the strengthening of that network was fundamental to punk; bands would often acquire contacts for DIY shows through the medium, and it was their main (if meager) method of promotion. Plus, we had way too many trees back then.

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With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history | 1 comments | Create New Account
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With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history
Authored by: WorkerFreedom on Wednesday, December 11 2013 @ 07:11 PM CST

Future civlizations:  Who were these "punks"? how did they live?  Much of what we know of them comes form the zines, but we often don't know how to interpret them. Some subculture archeologists think that the Zines were scriptures of worship while others disagree, others think they were morality tales while other think they were instructional manuals. The secrets of the "punks" are locked somewhare in these mysterious "zines."

Edited on Wednesday, December 11 2013 @ 07:18 PM CST by WorkerFreedom