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Three Zines from Joel Biel

Reviewed by Chris Auman

Bipedal, By Pedal! #2 Joe Biel

Bipedal, By Pedal! #2

Joe Biel

[Cantankerous Titles]

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, zinemaker, Joe Biel, was able to obtain Portland Police documents detailing that department's efforts to monitor and contain (and eventually help end) Portland's Critical Mass movement. While some of the documents are merely bureaucratic interoffice memos, it's an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the police. The charge leveled at the cops in this instance is that of spying—the department used undercover officers to infiltrate rally planning meetings to gather information on these supposed "Anarchist" cyclists. While that certainly seems like overkill, it is apparently entirely legal.

13 Years of Good Luck Joel Biel

13 Years of Good Luck

Joel Biel

[Microcosm Publishing]

In 2009, Microcosm celebrated thirteen years of existence as an indie distributor and publisher. Thirteen Years of Good Luck is a greatest hits package of writers and artists whose work has been published by the collective. This 96 pager bursts with first-time reprints, in most cases (Jesse Reklaw, Cindy Crabb, Urban Hermitt and founder Joel Biel) and never-before-published stuff in others (Liz Baillie, Cristy Road, Al Burian). Some of the type is pretty tiny for my tired eyes but the overall package looks great and serves as an overview of what has become—I think it's fair to say—a DIY institution. You can't beat the price either: one buck!

While this zine highlights the heavy handedness of the police department's overreaction, there's the implication (which is more than implied but alleged in the accompanying press sheet) that Portland Critical Mass was "brutally torn down" by the PPD. This would seem to suggest that the Portland Police Department is something akin to the KGB or the Stasi or their contemporaries in modern day dictatorships. Maybe this is a result of what's going on in the world in 2011, but I personally was not persuaded that the police actions rose to the level of brutality. I'm sure Libyans would love these sorts of problems, but I don't live in Libya and I don't live in Portland and I've got my own CPD to watch out for.

It should be mentioned that some of the documents featured in this zine are presented in Mad Lib form in an effort to get people to start reading by having a little fun with the subject, but overall I found that less interesting than the actual memos themselves. []

Beyond the Music Joe Biel

Beyond the Music

Joe Biel

[Microcosm Publishing]

Subtitled, “How Punks are Saving the World with DIY Ethics, Skills & Values," Beyond the Music collects interviews with dozens of movers and shakers in the punk scene—and not the safety-pinned, mohawked, vomity punk bands of legend either. No, we're talking about the printers, publishers, artists, writers, and organizers—real, everyday folks who are out there trying to create, produce and contribute to the world using their own set of ethics, guidelines and principles.

Collected between 2008 and 2012, with some pieces previously published elsewhere, editor Joe Biel focuses on the individuals in the punk community who have made a lasting commitment and contribution to promoting the aforementioned "DIY ethics, skills and values".

Such luminaries as Todd Taylor of Razorcake, Ian Mackaye of Dischord Records, Chris Clavin of Plan It X Records, zinesters Urban Hermitt, Al Burian, and Robnoxious, and a whole smattering of punks from vegan chefs (Joshua Ploeg) to polarizing pundits (Ben Weasel) are given a forum to relate their stories and philosophies. Some may be unfamiliar to you, some may be household names in your house, but there's something to glean from all of them be it inspirational and/ or informational.

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