In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing 1-800-FUCKWIT never saw the light of day. I think I found zines the same way everyone else did. It was the mid-’90s; I was probably 17, hanging listlessly around some community hall in my converse and ironic vintage t-shirt, waiting for 11 local bands to open for that one band I wanted so dearly to see. Someone from one of those local bands, a guy or maybe a girl with a predictable-yet-cool mohawk, set up a table in the corner to sell punk rock zines and anarchist literature. I’m sure I bought a button and a $1 zine on veganism or something, whatever was cheap.
Something to dispel boredom while everyone waited for the hardcore band from Illinois to fix their van which had unsurprisingly died an hour away on the highway.
So that was that. No epiphanies, no particular zine that held me transfixed, yanking me head first into zinester-land. From a neutral distance, I half-admired that these people were sharing things they were interested in, that they were willing to put the time into these cutand-paste treatises about the random minutiae of their lives, their personal politics, the music scene. I loved writing, but I was 17; transparent, dispassionate, apathetic.
That’s it: the anti-climatic story of how a sheltered, small town girl learned that small press publications existed, that there was such a thing as zine culture. A year or two later, I started dating this kid who wrote a personal zine. He was manic about zines, and introduced me to Maximum rockandroll, Punk Planet and Heartattack, and a zillion other small-run zines his friends made.
I was in college studying journalism when I started to compile a haphazard collection of discarded ideas that maybe, in some parallel universe, could be construed as a zine. In my head, I called this collection 1-800-FUCKWIT. And that’s exactly what it was: fuckwitted. Directionless, hilarious, completely embarrassing. I was far too insecure to do anything with it, but the things I’d compiled and written still exist on a 3.5″ floppy disc somewhere in my closet, nearly ten years later. I don’t even have a drive to read this disc. I’m leaving it to my grandchildren in my will. Call it my legacy.
Mid-FUCKWIT, my old friends from the punk rock community decided they wanted to start a collective zine. I was in there like blonde streaks on a cheerleader. We had big dreams: Punk Planet’s little brother, a new galvanizing voice in Canadian zines. Huge readership, massive print runs, our favourite record labels fighting over full page ad space. Did I mention reviews? Free CDs
There were six of us – it was a good chance to split expenses and work. The zine also offered the opportunity to interview bands: right there, enough impetus for me to do anything. It was
called Altruizine, and we existed for a whopping 2 issues before we all got too busy with growing up to make it work. We got distracted. Issue #3 was forgotten.
Five years later, I’d determined that journalism straight up sucked, as did marketing writing, which I’d stumbled into somehow. I wanted to be Joan Dideon, but I had no idea how. I remember thinking things would be great if only I could fast-forward to 30. Maybe, when you got to that age, you’d just know. Things would become fixed and final. Contentment swam around that number, its round shapes, its feminine curves.
So at 27, I went back to university and took some arts classes, entertaining ever-shifting but pretentious ideas about the shape of my future career. A semester or two in, I enrolled in a few creative writing seminars. I’d done the journalism thing, right? Writing classes were an easy way to maintain that 4.0.
But unlike journalism, these classes had the word ‘creative’ in their titles. I was encouraged to be non-factual, flowery, symbolic. It took me days to write two pages: in my former news-papery life, I could knock out ten articles in a day. When my work was read aloud in the seminar, I felt shaky and alone, but in a good way: it was personal, sometimes angry, sometimes sad. I felt brave, like I was 40 pounds overweight and posing naked for an art class. It was exhilaration.
Recalling Altruzine and my general laziness, I slowly reassembled another team of talented friends, and Here and Noun was born. The cover of issue #1 features an angry bear with a peg leg and a spinny hat. It’s symbolic.
Issue #2 will be out this summer, just in time for my 30th birthday.