Ignoring Objectivity Since 1998
So, I’m sitting around with Roo Hines (bass/vocals for Gary Seven) talking about music reviews, wondering if any zines will accept my stuff when she says, “Let’s make our own.”
I was floored. That idea had never occurred to me, although I’d been buying zines at record shop Mind Over Matter for a couple of years. That experience had floored me too; dozens of homemade publications on every topic imaginable from punk to politics to the paranormal. I learned a lot of fanboy stuff from the music zines, but most of those guys just wanted free records. The most impressive were the oddball ones. “Shark Fear, Shark Awareness” ran for several issues and was about exactly what its title suggests. Edith Abeyta’s “Quench” covered beverages. Issue No. 1 bore a one-of-a-kind cover fabricated from soft drink cans plus a free tea bag stapled into the hand-stitched binding.
Roo and I put out a couple of issues of “Poon Job.” She taught me the most basic of basics. How to cut and paste. Literally. With scissors and glue, not computers. How to arrange pieces of paper so they fold correctly into consecutive pages. Other pals taught me how scam copies from unguarded machines, but that tip (sorry, kids!) will remain untold.
After Roo moved to San Francisco, I rebooted as “Wig Wam Bam”—a title copped from The Sweet’s classic glam anthem (pronounced “wig wham bam” by the way, following the British pronunciation).
I stealthily left copies around town at venues and record stores. Older than the band kids by at least 10 or 15 years, I felt a little sheepish since they certainly knew more about indie/punk than a recovering hippie like me.
But I soon realized the word “know” is key. Except for in your own mind, you don’t have to be an expert on anything to create a zine. Journalistic objectivity is a myth. Everything you think, do or say is colored by what you’ve heard and seen all your life. The most interesting thing to me about any writer is how much of themselves they bring to the table.
“Wig Wam Bam” masquerades as a music zine. Balderdash. It’s about me, the shows I see, the bands I like (or not), who I met, what I had for breakfast. What stuns me is how seriously some people take it. Everyone else has the same thoughts I do. I just happen to leave them out in public. On the printed page. If it were online or just a blog (what a foul-sounding term that is) no one would’ve paid much attention. A hard copy, however, resonates differently than rearranged ones and zeros on a digital screen.
Whether I love or loathe a band, I remain cognizant (and appreciative) of the fact that they are up there doing it while I’m merely an observer. In Ken Kesey’s words, “Wig Wam Bam” is a seismograph rather than a lightning rod. Anyone who puts their work out in public (including dumb zines like mine) must accept that some people will think it sucks. Big deal.
As for the nepotism, yeah, I write about my friends a lot. But with the exception of The Foxx, The Wheelers and The Deadtown Lovers, I made friends with bands after I heard the music: after I heard something I liked—loved—so much that I wanted to know just who it was that created such beautiful sounds.
One of my favorite things about doing a zine? Unlike my “pro” Alibi gig, I can refer to a band the way real people do, as “they” instead of “it.”
Read about this weekend’s ABQ Zine Fest functions on page xx and at abqzinefest.com.