Shoes Fanzine #8
Zine, Nate, 72 pgs, $3 (free to prisoners), [email protected]
I’m a sucker for a good old punk political zine. The first zines I encountered were anarchist tracts and manifestos, and I’m still drawn to any zine that I think might be instructive for my own politics and activism. I’m much more likely to read an activist interview, essay of social commentary or breakdown of some heady theory if it’s in print form and handed to me then if you send me yet another hyperlink over email. The blogosphere, the Facebook hot-take machine, the unreadable design of RiseUp — I’ll take a good old zine any day.
So, when Shoes Fanzine #8 came in the mail and the very first piece was about a teenage punk organizing a chapter of Anti-Racist Action in ’90s Sarnia, Ontario, I knew this would be up my alley. This issue’s theme is interviews old and new. That particular interview was from 2006, but is followed by a few more recent ones. The extended interview with Matt Hern, a BC activist whose name I’ve occasionally seen in the AK Press catalogue, was super insightful. It gave me lots to chew on about the way the myth of the troubled “inner-city” doesn’t hold up in the age of violent, rapid gentrification. Hern urges us to look to and learn from the communities on the periphery of our urban centres. “The suburbanization of poverty and racialization of the suburbs is happening in cities across North America, both with incredible speed and also kind of stealthily.” Hern works super hard to defer to the expertise of the communities themselves and, of course, it’s a little awkward reading this interview with some white dude about how to go work in Black and Brown communities. But he knows that it’s awkward, and I enjoyed reading how he attempts to work through that.
The next interview is again something completely different. It’s an interview with Karmin, who went on a seven-month sea voyage with her estranged dad. It’s pretty wacky. Not only does she have to reconnect with her pops and negotiate complex emotional dynamics, they run out of gas in the middle of a lightning storm and visit Easter Island, among other episodes. Following that is a straightforward punk scene interview with Shellshag. A bit of inside baseball, but still a fun read.
Last up, and I guess I would have seen this coming if I had bothered to read the table of contents… there’s an interview with zine legend Aaron Cometbus! Whoa! Apparently, the author met him in New York years ago and they stayed friends. The interview is cool because it uses the same interview questions from the first interview they did 18 years previous, and you get to read both the old and new answers and see how they’ve changed. I’m not gonna give much away, but I wouldn’t blame you if you skip to the end of the zine for this one.
I don’t know this Nate fellow or why I haven’t read Shoes Fanzine before, but holy crap, this was a good, solid, classic zinester’s zine. I had a blast.