Digging the dirt on ex-zinesters
By Nathaniel G. Moore
THE DIRT: I thought I’d bold and italicize the questions or segues I ask to instigate this column, and to show you that I don’t actually write this column so much as textually manipulate lexical symphonies of past masters. So, let us begin again, anew as it were. Back in the day near the Atlantic Ocean, Gordon Isnor, writer, musician, artist, was involved in a few strange collaborations and misdemeanours, mergers and acquisitions, dabbling in insider zine trading.
I made tonnes of little artist books and flyers and little things like that. I also did a lot of collaborations with my best friend Chris Yorke–helping him with his Gypsy Times and crazy stunts, including a well-known sex-on-stage caper at the Owens Gallery of Mount Allison University that caused us to be hunted down like dogs in a cross-province game of cat and mouse–pardon the mix of metaphors–by law enforcement agent Phil Waters of the Sackville Police Department. Chris had to go to court and his female companion fled to India. I haven’t seen her since.
What was the zine creation process like for you then? I mean, what was going through your Haligonian mind at the time?
The zines were about the insidious art scene in Halifax–my community of friends there. Sex, love, rock and roll, art, death, pain, philosophy, the usual bullshit terrain of the young and the deathless.
I did a children’s book once. A sort of back and forth book of poetry written while getting increasingly drunk in the King’s College pub with my buddy Chris Yorke. He’d write one and pass it over to me, I’d write one and pass it over to him.
Interesting. And more recently you are?
I am living in Montreal, trying to put together a new album, doing Left Hip web magazine and thinking of putting out a collected poems book–I love the audaciousness of being a totally obscure nobody–despite the fact that all of my friends have found fame in the art and music world–and thinking my worthless output is worthy of a beautifully designed 300-page songbook to rival Dylan’s lyrics or a big poetry book along the lines of all of those Complete Works of Ezra Pound or William Butler Yeats types of things.
I see. What have been some of your favourite creations? That’s what I ask, and he says:
A bunch of poetry books. Lots of dark arts related stuff like books of mantras/lojong, koans, yoga pamphlets and books, poems of homage to the magnificent Buddhist girls I knew and loved in Halifax…. Also founded a very open-ended series of zines called Prizewinners with my best friends Emily Duke, Cooper Battersby and Stephen Clayton Ellwood–anybody in the world was invited to produce one simply by sending it in for production.
What is still available, zine-wise sir?
Things that are still available: Honey Things Are Going To Be Just Great At The Commune, Tell Me A Story (very limited quantity), Day of The Lovely Voice (would be costly as I have to hand bind each, but available in extremely limited quantity) My New Life.
Going back in time, can you tell us about the zine print version of Left Hip magazine, a magazine you recently adapted to the internet?
Left Hip was primarily a music fanzine but it also had a swimming theme.
My best friend Warren Auld and I used to break into swimming pools on a daily basis all over Halifax–did lots of photos and homage to the pool scene we cultivated. It featured interviews with musicians like Al Tuck, Chris Murphy, Van Dyke Parks (of Beach Boys and Joanna Newsom fame)– who is probably my all-time greatest American hero and so that was a huge thrill–having him leave a message on my answering machine and getting it when I came to Vancouver after Christmas holidays. When I called back I got his daughter on the phone…. “Daaaaaddddddd” she yelled through the house. He was incredible–so well-spoken, interesting, friendly and intelligent. He only stopped the interview to go to an important funeral! It also featured comics by the likes of Joey Hale, Marc Bell, Jon Dacey and Jen from Panaphobia. The web zine is continuing along the same lines–tons of interviews, reviews and other music-related stuff.
Gordon, deleted or otherwise, it has been a pleasure. Why not write Gordon? He edits the music zine Left Hip, as well as a Montreal food guide zine too!
Left Hip Magazine, www.lefthip.com, Left Hip c/o Gordon Isnor 8 #308-68, rue Prince Arthur ouest, Montreal QC, H2X 1S6