RoosterCow Online Store

Reglar Wiglar

STILL More Book and Zine Reviews

By Chris Auman

Maps to the Other Side Sascha Altman DuBrul

Maps to the Other Side

Sascha Altman DuBrul

[Microcosm Publishing]

Sascha Altman DuBrul is a writer, wanderer, punk, farmer, squatter, musician, activist and the founder of The Icarus Project — the radical mental health network that seeks to redefine the public's perception of mental illness. Sascha is himself bipolar. Instead of viewing his condition as an affliction or disease, Altman views it as a “dangerous gift,” something that can be used as a tool to create.

Maps to the Other Side is a collection of Sascha's writings over the years. Whether this was evident to him at the time or not, Sascha now recognizes these stories as guideposts in a lifelong journey. Some of these writings appeared in zines, like Slug and Lettuce and The Secret Lives of White People, some are from the column “Bipolar World” that he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and some are simply pieces Sascha wrote for himself.

The book is subtitled "The Adventures of a Bipolar Cartographer." In his understanding of how is own brain works, Sascha sees his mind as a map that requires navigation and time to figure out. This makes Sascha a mental mapmaker. Like most people living with bipolarism, Sascha veers off course from time to time. This is alarming and alienating to those around him when it happens and this book seeks to help people understand the unpredictable nature of mental disorders. Part memoir, part travel diary, part "how-to," Maps to the Other Side should be all parts inspirational to those charting the same course, informative to those who are not and enlightening to all.

Meal Deal with the Devil Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits Pictures by Jason Chandler

Meal Deal with the Devil

Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits Pictures by Jason Chandler

[Microcosm Publishing][Horrible Comics]

Meal Deal with the Devil is a children’s sing-along book that is in no way intended for children— my favorite kind! Modeled on the "Little Golden Books" we all grew up with as little nuggits, the book is a product of Dan Abbott and Corbett Redford, the musical comedy duo known as Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits. These two satirizing punks have been skewering icons and slaughtering sacred cows for a decade and a half.

Meal Deal comes with a CD which features five tunes. "Naked Beach Party (On the White House Lawn)" is a surf rock rave-up D.C. style. "Broken Bottles," is an accordion jam that seems to be about cooking broken glass. "Punk, You Let Me Down," is an old school rap-style admonishment of present day punks who just can't let go of a dated fashion trend. The book itself is to be read while listening to tracks four and five on the CD. "Down at the Jamboree" advocates partying with furry and four-legged friends and "The Town with No Beer," is a harrowing story about a town that has run out of hops. The book is illustrated by Jason Chandler in comical fashion. Meal Deal is suitable for adult children of all ages

The People's Apocalypse

Edited by Ariel Gore & Jenny Forrester

[Lit Star Press]

OK, so the world didn’t end again this time either, but it’s for sure gonna end next Tuesday, so plan on that. The People's Apocalypse, edited by hip mamma, Ariel Gore and writer Jenny Forrester, compiles writings related to the End Times, Doomsday, The Apocalypse or Next Tuesday, as I call it.

I don't know if we are more obsessed with the end of the world now than we were ten, twenty or a hundred years ago, but we certainly have many more outlets through which to feed our morbid fantasies. Doomsday Preppers, Zombies, Global Warming, Honey Boo Boo, there's an apocalyptic feeling in the American psyche for sure, so a book like The People's Apocalypse fits right into this cultural phenomenon.

The anthology contains short stories and essays which seek to explain, or at least give advice on, everything from how to prepare for the impending Zombie Apocalypse to how to raise chickens. In both fictional and nonfictional forms, writers and zinesters Tomas Moniz, Yasmin Elbaradie, Evelyn Sharenov, Derrick Jensen, Roy Coughlin, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Vickie Fernandez, Dani Burlison and many more, give their own expressions, thoughts and feelings on what can be a serious or seriously silly topic. Of course, the end of the world is millions of years away, but the end of humans? That's another story and shouldn't really be the cause for too much grief or hair pulling. Who'd miss us anyway?

The Recoup #1

Joseph Kyle, Publisher


The debut issue of this slender digest-sized zine is dedicated to the past: music and musicians that have been forgotten or overlooked. Music has no expiration date as publisher, Joseph Kyle, points out in his intro, so why not go back and revisit what has gone before? There's nothing new under the sun anyway and, let's face it, if the world stopped producing new music today, would anybody even notice? Probably, but anyway...

Alive with Vigor Compiled by Rob Sutter III

Alive with Vigor

Compiled by Rob Sutter III

[Microcosm Publishing]

Alive with Vigor is like a compilation of advice columns that dispense nuggets of wisdom on a range of topics from medical issues to dating and personal finance. That's pretty much half the internet right there, but the internet won't give you all this valuable information in the form of a really cool looking zine, will it? No, it won't.

Although the purpose of this book is to help people survive an "adventurous lifestyle," there isn’t a whole lot in here that isn’t universal: constipation, diarrhea, autoimmune disorders, breast cancer and abusive relationships can affect anyone regardless of their lifestyle, but the intended audience are those people that are, perhaps, on the fringe of society: the punkers, the transgendered, the outcasts (both willing and unwilling), the renegades, the rebels, etc. This book is for them.

Contributors to Alive with Vigor include Joe Biel, Buck Angel, Ayun Halliday and Rob Sutter III (who put this guide together) and a host of other folks who are into the DIY spirit and living an alternative lifestyle.

Everyday Cheesemaking: How to Succeed Making Dairy and Nut Cheese at Home K. Ruby Blume

Everyday Cheesemaking: How to Succeed Making Dairy and Nut Cheese at Home

K. Ruby Blume

[Microcosm Publishing]

Whenever I read a book or a zine, I learn something—not necessarily a life-altering philosophical truth, but facts, knowledge, information. Like, for example, I did not know that you could make milk and cheese from nuts. I've heard of almond milk, of course, but I've never given it much thought and I did not know that you could make milk and cheese from other nuts as well. Now I know this and a whole lot more about raw and pasteurized milk, animal husbandry, ethical dairy and how to make your own cheese everyday and, it's all thanks to K. Ruby Blume and her book, Everyday Cheesemaking.

K. Ruby Blume spent years as an political activist. She hit the streets with signs and puppets aloft and protested nukes, war and income disparity. There came a point, however, when she started questioning the effectiveness of her actions. She wondered just what she was accomplishing with her signs and street theater antics. Blume decided instead to use her considerable skills and talents to teach, empower and encourage people to take back a little more control of their lives by becoming more self-sufficient. In this seemingly small way, big changes can be the result.

Blume teaches cheesemaking, among other things, at the Institute for Urban Homesteading, which she founded in 2008. The purpose of the Institute is to teach people how to live meaningful and sustainable lives in urban settings, which in her case is the Bay Area of Oakland and Berkeley. Her work there has borne the fruit that is this guide.

Blume’s comprehensive, step-by-step instructions can help anyone make cheese. The process is not as complicated as you might think but it does require the use of specific tools and ingredients, all of which are outlined in the guide.

The book begins with some schooling on the history of milk production, the original reasons behind pasteurization, the benefits of consuming raw milk, the harmful effects of factory farming and the ethics of animal husbandry in the more traditional sense where a symbiotic relationship is created between human and beast. Cheesemaking 101 begins the discourse on the creation of a variety of different dairy cheeses. Vegan? That’s fine, no worries there, the last section of the book deals with making cheese with nut and seeds.

So I learned a few things by reading this guide to making cheese at home, but will I actually make cheese at home? I may, I may not. I very likely will not. You may or may not give it a go yourself, but this is a good book to have should the need for homemade cheese inspire you to break out the cheesecloth and curd knife.

Travel On #4 & #5

David Solomon

Travel on #4, according to its author, David Solomon, is a “perzine consisting of fictional stories, personal letters, nonfiction ramblings and a personal list of accomplishments loosely related to David’s temporary job killing plants for the National Park Service.” I love it when someone does all the work for me. I could end this review right now because, between that description and the zine's subtitle ("Six Months in South Carolina"), my work is done. However, let me add that it’s in digest format with a double saddle stitch. In addition to those particulars, I learned from reading this zine that David is very passionate about his beard, he loves working out of doors (when it's not raining too obnoxiously), he enjoys writing letters and short stories (some very short) that may or may not contain a plot or any point whatsoever. Buy Travel On #4 at David's Esty Store why doncha'.

Travel On #5: Letters, remember them? Of course you don’t. We don’t write them any more, but we used to. We used to put these lickable little squares called "stamps" on ‘em and then this thing called the Post Office would deliver them for you. To wherever you wanted. You used to love getting them and hate writing them if they were to thank someone for a gift. You had to sit down and summarize your life. You had to think about it longer than the time it takes to fart out a tweet or a status update. If you liked something you might have to commit a whole paragraph to it instead of clicking on a little icon of a thumb pointing upward.

Well, this lost art isn’t lost on David Solomon as he seems to have a number of pen pals with whom he corresponds. His letters make up much of the fifth issue of Travel On along with a few vignettes and literary tidbits. David works for National Park Service in a job that has him traveling to various woodsy, secluded and mountainous areas of the country that few civilians will ever see. It sounds idyllic yet pretty difficult as well, but it also seems to allow for plenty of time for self reflection and the creation of zines like this one. Buy Travel On #5 at David's Esty Store!

Dwelling Portably Bert & Holly Davis

Dwelling Portably

Bert & Holly Davis

[Microcosm Publishing]

Dwelling Portably has been around awhile—dang near forty years, in fact. I remember receiving issues in my P.O. box back in the '90s. Even then this zine was crammed to the margins with advice about existing off the grid and living off the land. I loved the idea of Dwelling Portably, and the chaotic look and feel of it, but the information contained within never held much relevance to me as an urban dweller. It’s nice to see it compiled here, although the type is just as tiny and condensed as ever. DP is still jam packed to bursting with how-to's, advice and DIY guides for the nomadic life and is still dutifully put together by Bert and Holly Davis, who have been dwelling portably in Somewhereville, Oregon for well past thirty years.

Every Day Failures Sarah B.

Every Day Failures

Sarah B.

[Punch Drunk Press]

Every Day Failures (meaning failures every day, not commonplace failures) is a perzine which recounts an eight-week period of time in the life of Sarah B.

Shortly after Sarah's partner leaves her and their two young children for a job in the city, Sarah takes her daughters (ages 3 and 14 months) from the punk house where they've been living to her aunt’s much nicer home in the suburbs where she’ll be housesitting for the next two months. During her time of relative isolation in the 'burbs, Sarah cycles through periods of depression and decadence, shame in her poverty and annoyance by her surroundings.

Like any good autobiographical zine, Every Day Failures provides a snapshot of Sarah's life and struggles to live according to her own principles. The temporary house sitting situation eventually ends and Sara presumably returns to the punk house where more every day failures await to become everyday failures. Hopefully there will be a few every day successes mixed in there as well.

Think Tank DIY #1 & #2

Reggie Martinez

[Punch Drunk Press]

Brevity is the soul of wit, said some guy one time, and Shakespeare was right. Brevity also makes for easy-to-read zines like Reggie Martinez’s Think Tank DIY. In these few pages of issues one and two, Reggie offers up his ideas for a number of movie, cookbook, novel and restaurant projects. He offers them all for free and wishes anyone well should they try to turn one of them into a profitable business venture. Reggie asks for nothing in return, not even credit for the idea. That said, many of these ideas would be impossible to pull off, or at the very least, not worth the time and money necessary in the attempt. A 24/7 doughnut delivery shop called Dough Not Leave the House (plausible) an Angry Birds parody titled Angry Nerds (I can see it) a parody artist called Natalie Merchant of Venice, who sings lines from Shakespeare (see above) to the tune of 10,000 Maniacs songs (pretty narrow demographic, but sure), these all could be accomplished, but at what cost in human suffering? Anyway, you get the idea about Reggie's ideas. The best idea he's had so far may be this zine about his cockamamie ideas.

Big Diamond Liam Ira Christian

Big Diamond

Liam Ira Christian

[Pioneers Press]

If I would have read the "About the Artist" page at the end of this zine first, that would have cleared up a lot of things for me early on. However, I did not see it until I had finished reading this short zine. That said, I was trying hard not to be too judgmental of this publication and its creator as I turned the pages, but I was beginning to think Liam Christian a bit overzealous in what I could only describe as an attempt at outsider art. Discovering that Liam is in fact a three year old who took the photos, wrote the captions and chose the accompanying artwork for the zine himself, came as some relief. I started over from the beginning with this new found knowledge and suddenly it all made sense. Well, it made more sense at any rate.

Big Diamond is Liam's first zine. It is a collection of photos and cutout images he found interesting. Star Wars is a theme that is explored here. He is the son of Jesse Duke, the proprietor of Pioneers Press and the Hard Fifty Farm in NE Kansas. That would mean Liam has been surrounded by zines his entire life and there will surely be more of his own publications to come. No matter what age your are, three to 83, everything you create is valid and worthy of publishing and sharing in my opinion, so save your stuff, save your kid's stuff. My mom did and look what happened to it all these decades later.

Every Thug is a Lady: Adventures without Gender

Every Thug is a Lady: Adventures without Gender

Julia Eff

[Pioneers Press]

It is timely to be reading this zine about an issue that has been in the news a lot recently. Prior to much of the news coverage on who can pee where, you could have put me in the category of someone who was largely ignorant of transgender issues. The main reason for this is that I didn’t need to know. It didn’t affect me one way or the other so I never bothered to form much of an opinion on it. I accept it. I support it. That was as far as it went. Actually, it's not something you can really have an opinion on. It's like having an opinion on global warming. It exists regardless of the thoughts and beliefs of any one person, religious group or political party.

Zinester Julia Eff deals with gender identity issues every day. They’re in her head. Not in her head like she made them up, but in her head as a part of her everyday challenges with life. Julia is dealing with neutrois, a gender identity that is neutral, neither male nor female. Neutrois makes picking out what clothes to wear a challenge for Julia. It determines where she shops and who she chooses to deal with. In one section of the zine Julia talks about her cis gender boyfriend. She describes him as a bit of a Hank Hill-type who doesn’t care about her gender identity. This seems great at first pass, but his acceptance seems to be more about indifference and a lack of curiosity than something resembling acceptance and understanding.

Every Thug is a Lady is an informative zine for those not well-versed in the issues of gender identity. I would hope it was also a cathartic experience for Julia to create. It is entertaining as well in the sense that Julia does have a sense of humor even if the subject matter is dark sometimes. It's pure perzine, handwritten and lovingly cobbled together. If you are into that you will enjoy it no matter what your gender identification. The zine was originally published in 2011 which makes me feel better about the fact that I took so long to review it.

I Don't Care I'm Still Free: A Fanzine Celebrating Joss Whedon's Firefly

I Don't Care I'm Still Free: A Fanzine Celebrating Joss Whedon's Firefly

Sarah May

[Pioneers Press]

Firefly was a show which aired for exactly one season in 2002-2003. Despite its premature demise, it was quick to attract a cult following which eventually earned the program, and Firefly fans, a full-length movie, Serenity in 2005.

The Firefly saga is set in the future, although it employs cowboy and western themes in its setting on the outer planets of the galaxy (which have been terraformed to look exactly like southern California).

The zine's author, Sarah May, is a bit obsessed with Firefly. I've watched the series myself and while it certainly has its charms, I find it a bit corny and I sometimes grapple with the sci-fi/Old West hybrid hodgepodge. Some episodes struggle to hold my interest, but I definitely see its appeal. At any rate, this post isn't about Firefly, necessarily, it's about a zine about a show called Firefly and it will surely resonate with fellow fans of the show in its unabashed love for this short-lived, rebel cowboys-in-space adventure.

The zine contains trivia, song lyrics, anecdotes and a recipe for Mudder's Milk, which is an intoxicant consumed by the Mudders while they mine mud in Canton on muddy Higgin's Moon and worship Jayne Cobb who is one of the crew members on—oh never mind. If you're a fan you already know all that and as a fan you should be sure to obtain this handy Firefly companion. Why? Because they can "w" Or something!

Nesting: Self-Care Tips for Autumn and Winter

Nesting: Self-Care Tips for Autumn and Winter

Katie Johnson

[Pioneers Press]

This short zine provides tips for taking care of yourself as the temperature drops lower and lower and the sun drops sooner and sooner. It includes advice on a whole manner of things, such as eating the right foods, sleeping the right amount of time, waking up correctly and going to work like a boss. There are tips for managing the whole day in fact, including the proper way to hit the sack.

Winter is a tough one for everybody, but some people are affected to a stronger degree than others. Doing the things outlined in this zine will cost you nothing and may even save you a buck or two as Katie advocates abstaining from alcohol during these months. A good many lot of us rely on booze to get us through these frigid times, so observing this particular bit of advice ain't gonna be easy. In fact, I ain't even gonna try. Other things like eating right, reading before bed, stretching and staying hydrated are easy enough. It’s good to have all these tips compiled here in one place where they can be referred back to as needed. So get it, read it and good luck, everybody!

Reglar Wiglar

© 1993-2024 RoosterCow Media