Digging the dirt on ex-zinesters
The kitchen sink. It’s the best way to describe the publication that was Brian Random’s now deleted zine, Zygrot 24.
But what did we say about it in the 1990s? In our second issue we described the zine as “collaged mayhem galore.” And it’s true; found material teems from the layout in the pages of this ephemera magnet. So where did he get all the weird shit that appears in the pulpy pages of these zine beasts? What was his dream? His vision? And what’s with all the army men, aspirins and crayons that came with each issue?
Random says he had hopes of making a Brampton area music zine before Zygrot 24, but it never materialized. Zygrot 24came out of insomnia and working the late shift at a convenience store. “I started making my zine in 1994. I was just out of high school and had no idea what to do after graduating. I worked at a convenience store doing the late night shift and had trouble sleeping during the day. So while I was trying to sleep, I just assembled these pages of collages. My influences were the “fuck facts!” inserts by Winston Smith that came in Dead Kennedys records, as well as my discovery of Dadaism and other collage works.”
Going through Random’s entire zine catalogue, one of the highlights was his more personal zine, Mechelus, which features Kinder Egg toy reviews. These dozen or so reviews are hilarious, short and to the point, assigning each toy, no matter how complicated or simple in construction, a letter grade.
Random says early on it bugged him that no one he knew was interested in helping out in the creation of his zine, and he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of writing the entire content himself, so he resorted to collaging from found and stolen magazines. “I’m quite a pack rat. I had tons of old books and magazines and newspaper articles that I clipped, and my parents had stacks of National Geographics, and junk mail flyers were in our mailbox every day.”
Collage rules the design of Random’s zine. For example, in one issue, amongst found pieces of written articles, recipes and ads, a four-square cut out of rotten zombie faces is accompanied by the caption, “Which face seems happier to you?” The content can at times be an overwhelming derangement of the senses.
Within the pile of Random’s back-catalogue is Instant Zine, a companion of sorts to Zygrot 24. In it, Random opens up a bit more about his job at 7-11where he worked full-time and “it sucked.” He continues, “Well it would be an okay job if it wasn’t for the fucking customers…. there are so many weirdoes out there, and I don’t mean non-conformists, I mean I can’t-sleep-at-night-knowing-that-theyexist type of weirdoes.” Instant Zine was a thrown together piece that came between issues of Zygrot 24.
Random says he eagerly attended the first few Cut and Paste zine fairs held at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto, trading zines with people and enjoying the experience… at first. After attendingafewfairshebegantofeelrejection from the reaction of attendees to what he was doing. “People just glancing at it, casually picking it up, putting it down and promising to come back later. I thought my zine was great, but then I started getting this feeling of self-doubt. I sent a few to some other small zines I read reviews about and never heard back from. I wasn’t expecting a zine trade right away, but I mean, you know, I wrote a letter saying I want a copy of your zine, here’s four bucks, and I still never got a reply,” remembers Random. “The only encouragements I got were from Brad from Juxtsuppose, Jeff who did YIP and Infiltration, and Twitch from Waiter, There’s a Conspiracy In My Soup. Those are still my all-time favourite zines. I preferred collage zines and never found anything else as enjoyable as theirs.”
With a renewed interest in the zine aesthetic, there is hope that Random may get back into zine making. “I’m interested in making a zine again, I’ve been meaning to write a zine about all the videos I’ve collected over the years. It would be movie reviews but hopefully my life would bleed into them and it would be about other things as well.” For now, the Internet has made things easier on Random’s creative process: “I’ve had a LiveJournal for the last nine years, so that’s where I go for personal writing. It’s full of meltdowns and melancholy and I won’t say where it is, but that’s what I prefer instead of writing zines. It’s immediate, I don’t have to go to the photocopy place and then sit behind a table trying to sell it. I love that aspect of zine publishing, but I couldn’t handle it. I’d rather just write something anonymously and put it online right away and maybe someone will read it.”
Check out Brian Random on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/incomingtapes