As I searched through the massive zine collection at the Salt Lake City Public Library I
was intent to pick a zine that I had not read before for this review. Now this isn’t hard
because the collection has around 2500 zines within it, but on the other hand I didn’t
want to pick up something that I knew I would heavily dislike. This is a difficult
balancing act when you’re also determined to pick up something in that serendipitous
kind of way. But on the other hand not wanting to over think it all, I flipped thru the
boxes relying on sight and instinct.
It was the cover of Watch the Closing Doors #19 that instantly drew my attention. It
features three men sitting in a subway station dressed as Santa Claus most likely waiting
for a train. This absurd image is a delightful reminder that when you take any form of
public transit, whether it is be by bus, subway, etc, you have no idea what you may
encounter. It is that sense of lackadaisical whimsy, which sets the tone for this zine. On
the subway sometimes all it takes is one exceptional encounter to either ruin or enlighten
your day. Traveling in a car can be such an isolating experience while the bus or subway
contains all of humanity.
In short stories, pictures, some historical context and diary entry, zine editor and writer
Fred Argoff discusses the New York public transit system. His personal experience adds
credibility as he describes his travels from all over the boroughs. It’s immense fun to
here him describe the complexities of public transit travel and some of the crazy
encounters that he has had. In one-page vignettes he gives bite-sized anecdotes, which I
very much enjoyed. Often zine writers suffer from the rambles when they are their own
editors. Argoff manages to tell succinct stories with wonderful thrift that reminded me of
the work of Tobias Wolfe. In “Express Bus Excitement” I was impressed with how
Argoff mixed humor with some satirical commentary on the sin of entitlement. However
Argoff is never judgmental or mean, which is refreshing considering the easy targets
presented in “Polka Time!” and “Subway Spelling”.
Unfortunately Argoff loses his universality as he delves into the specifics of the NYC
subway system. This zine suffers due to his “insider” status. Without a map or diagram it
is well nigh impossible for anyone outside of New York City to be able to keep track of
the different trains and their destinations. Thankfully he includes some pictures, but like
with most Xeroxed black-white zines they don’t duplicate well. Some are far too dark to
provide any illumination or understanding as to why they are included at all. The detail
that Argoff meticulously focuses on becomes less and less relevant as one realizes that it
is most likely that most of these subway lines and trains have either been shut down or
replaced as this zine was created in the year 2000. This lack of relevance could be
defended as a portrait of a time, but I would have preferred a little more human interest
and little less talk about different subway car models.
Regardless, as an ardent user of public transportation I am often drawn to this type of
zine. I enjoy this genre because of it’s potential to focus on the human condition. Argoff
provides such excitement about the mundane route that he takes to get from A to B every
day. His disappointment is palpable when he describes an amazing route proposal that is
shut down due to budget cuts. From their very inception, zines were meant to be a place
where anyone can produce a work, which focuses on any subject that they love. Argoff
clearly loves to discuss public transportation. It is a joy to find someone focusing on
something so positive in a world that can be so horribly awful.
Watch the Closing Doors by Fred Argoff can be found and checked out in the Zine
Collection on Level 2 in the Salt Lake City Public Library.
For our February Zine spotlight we are highlighting To Kevin, In Hopes of Losing Interest by local writer/filmmaker Whitney Borup. It being nearly V-day and all this zine is an apt study on relationships, good and bad. Borup pulls us along with a veracity that belies her repeated claims that the stories within are fiction. Her romanticism is honest and hopeful while avoiding cliches.
This zine can be found in the Zine Collection at the Salt Lake City Main Library.
Whitney Borup is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at the University of Utah. She earned an M.A. in Cinema Studies at San Francisco State University and a B.A. in Media Arts and Psychology at Brigham Young University. She studies early 20th-century American literature, aesthetics, horror, and the representation of children in popular culture.
She was one of our own, but now she has moved on to greener pastures. So for the month of December we are spotlighting this delightful zine from Sarah Custen. It was created as a holiday gift but also chronicles her life and travails. You can also read more from Sarah over at her blog Little Sarah Big World. She also plays music in public from time to time.
This zine along with many other zines can be found and checked out in the Zine Collection at the Main Library.
With Election Day right around the corner (GO Vote!), we are spotlighting this local zine which features political activism. This is the transcontinental daily journal of Maggie Giles, who set off to Washington DC on 4/15/02 from Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the A-20 Demonstrations for Peace.
Every month we pick a local zine from our collection to shine some light on. All zines spotlighted can be found in the SLCPL Zine Collection at the Main Library.
For the month of October we are spotlighting A Thousand False Starts by Robin Banks. This zine is a comic journal documenting events like getting kicked out of a gas station for not spending money, getting hassled by “the pigs” for ghost riding a gift bike, and the little things that make the author happy.
For the month of July (yeah we know it’s late! But we’ve been busy…) we’re highlighting local zine The Fifth Goal. A down and dirty zine, it mixes black and white pictures of graffiti with vegan recipes and zine/book reviews.
This zine, and more like it, are available in the SLCPL Zine Collection at the Main Library.
If your future self could send you a message from 20 years in the future, what do you think that message would be? Winning lotto numbers? Life saving advice? Would you even want a message that could completely alter the direction of your life, for better or dare I say…WORSE?
Rory Donahoe takes on these question’s in his fictional zine, Messages! If you didn’t have a chance to pick up a copy at Alt Press Fest 2012, you can either read it online, hit him up for a hard copy or check it out from our Zine collection!
Saturday July 7, 2012 was the day to be done w/making everyone included & all wanting one a copy of the first Alt Press Fest Zine anthology of collaborative content.
It got done, but not before 8 o’clock that eventing!
Here are a few sampling photos, but rest assured that there will be a tangible one for, in time. Each “cover” is a re-used file folder from The City Library. The title is spray paint stenciled and bull clipped onto the contents of saddle-stich-stapled paper. These photos, beginning w/the cat are credited to: Evan Jed Mammot (left) Nick & Erin Potter (right), Jess Smart Smiley (left) Travis Gray (right) Yours Truly (left) Salt Lake City Film Festival (right.)
Without boring you about the trials & tribulations faced throughout the process; please accept a sincere statement of gratitude to all involved because you’re willing to try, i.e. FAIL. Really wish I was simply sitting at table with the personal work I prepared & got to see you. Shucks… If you’d like to view some of it—> patrick weeks.tumblr.com
So, here we go again with completing a project that has been a labor of love + lessons for transcendence in the independent publishing arenas!