Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Voice from the Underground

I don't think I agree with the conclusion of Duncombe's zine article. I might not even agree with the generalized description of zine writers and the culture in which they inhabit. I guess I live in the "underground" culture that "rejects mainstream values," a "loser" that has defined my identity outside of the Winner's Circle. I don't however, believe that zine writers are individual, solely defined by negation, or would lose their identity without the mainstream culture.

Perhaps during the age of adolescents myself and my friends, all of whom either write their own, contribute to, or consume zines, we all endured some traumatic, defining event that secured our identity within the underground culture. My natural attraction and fixation with rock n' roll music and shows characterized a rocky, "rebellious" coming-of-age in my parents house, and writing no doubt played an important part of that identity.

But here I am as an adult, past those turbulent adolescent years, and still define myself within this underground culture. I have opinions, beliefs, compassions, and sympathies, but they are the passion of my life just like dance or gymnastics might be to a mainstreamer. Music, writing, playing shows, recording music...these activities bind a group of people just like a person's sports team might comprise his/her friendship circle. But an important element of our passions is to create. Art, music, is the sharing of these creations that make the community, and we are happy within that community. We're not all activists, anarchists, hippies, extremists straight out of the Cream City Collectives zine collection. We are oblivious and apathetic, though sometimes mocking, of the mainstream culture and have simply chosen an alternative lifestyle.

Zine writers are not all rebels coming from white, suburban backgrounds. My boyfriend wrote a zine for years simply because he liked to create and communicate his thoughts in "magazine form," not because of rebellion against his suburban life. That didn't exist. He grew up in a dysfunctional family plagued by drugs and poverty.

Zine writers also don't have to be solely individual works. A good friend of mine compiles a zine made up of contributions from all our friends. There's stories, comics, editorials, word games, anything anyone felt like contributing. Some of it may be political, non-political, fun, or just plain dumb. But it's an effort that was made possible by the communual spirit of my friends, just as relevant and personal as an individual writer.

Zines are not all politically or activist driven. Check out one of the most influential zines of all time, Cometbus. There's no website (duh), but look him up on Wikipedia and order the complete anthology for $10 on Aaron Cometbus's main focus of writing was personal journeys and the cherished qualities and explorations of human relationships. He writes about traveling, his band, music, love, and yes, even has contributors or entire issues dedicated to contributor's point of views.

Maybe some are rebelling. Maybe some do define themselves by constant critique of mainstream culture. But what is mainstream culture anyway? Maybe just all of our lives were changed by the Ramones. And so we create.

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