by James Hetfield
Four in the morning, and where is Matt? Sitting
as his desk, pounding away at his keyboard. He was writing his
'greatest' text file ever, "anarchy elite warez end here!"
At the same time, on another part of the globe, Riyu, a screwed-up
Japanese university dropout was writing away at his underground
zine, "The role of humanity vs. humanity." Johnny,
the 12-year-old from Vermont, grinded away at his keys writing
down his unique processes that, went performed, would blow up
the White House in one swoop. Mike, where is poor Mike? Mike
is writing bad poetry about the sand and the sun.
Which of these
four should gain the most recognition? I would say the poet,
because chances are his horrible poetry isn't just for the computer
world. Zines are crap, folks. Always have been, always will be.
Until people actually form a 'zine where they are actually writing
for themselves and not a retarded "underground" audience,
the work they create will not have any relevance to real time
life. Let's find some classic examples, shall we?
#1: "Scene whining."
EVERY FUCKING ZINE has a criticism about the scene. Look, this
is a criticism about the zine! How fucking ORIGINAL of me! It
seems no one can shut their fucking mouths about the 'zine. Every
chance they get, they're talking about the scene. Did you ever
notice that in successful institutions, they don't whine about
the scene, they whine about individual products of the scene?
Take something disgustingly male; football. when was the last
time you heard a football player whine about football? It doesn't
happen often. but 'zine writers continually whine about the scene.
It's never anything new, either, it's always the same old shit.
and it gets really old and monotonous.
#2: Bad poetry/parody. Listen, if you've got a piece of poetry
you've worked on for a actual significant amount of time, it
is a piece of work. However, if you're printing up poems in your
'zine that are still in their rough draft form, have little or
no description, only 'big catchy words' like hell, heaven, pain,
suffering... well, you're helping to bring down the scene. A
scene can only take so much crap. after a certain amount, it
begins to drown... and that is what the underground 'zine world
is doing. Drowning.
#3: Prose vs. essay Most 'zines these days are almost all
essay, with very little prose, if any. If it does have prose,
it's usually crappy and about little trolls that kill humans
or magical penises, etc. Prose is an important element of a 'zine;
it gives it a polar look. People who are really into prose (like
me) might actually not skip over the essays people wrote. And
people who generally read essays might read the prose as well.
A good balance helps out the 'zine a lot, and very few 'zines
have this balance.
#4: Underground gibber. Let's face it, ladies and gentlemen.
there is little that is 'underground' about the 'zine scene.
Anyone who can get their hands on a computer can write up a 'zine.
Anyone who goes into #new_irc_user will probably get bcc'd a
copy of Jonas or Klunk or whatnot. One of the big problems of
'zines is they all say the same things. They are redundant, and
redundant they are, with a little recursive recursivity. I don't
think there are many people who could write anything new about
hacking and phreaking, and put them in a general reader 'zine.
"How to eat your eggs fried" probably has been written
about less than "how to blow up your dog."
#5: Eye owns joo. Why is Cult of the Dead Cow so popular?
Because it is one of the few old 'zines still alive, and many
talented people write for it. Does everyone want to run a group
like cdc? Hell yea. Can everyone run it? nope. just like everyone
can't be the Perdue chicken man, not everyone can run a popular
'zine. But everyone tries to. I know I have, way too many times.
If I listed all the different gimmicks for 'zines I've had in
the past, this article would be 300k long. So very few people
stay together long enough to create a work of art. Will Doomed
to Obscurity stand the test of time? The odds are against it.
[In fact, it didn't last.Ed.] The odds are against
every 'zine, because just about every talented writer wants to
run a 'zine... So the people running 'zines have shitty submissions.
The writers core for a decent 'zine is usually two or three good
writers (including the editor), while a great 'zine would have
maybe five or six good writers. Once a 'zine has six or so great
writers, we come to the next problem.
#6: I'll do it tomorrow.
Everyone is lazy these days. Zines are the antithesis of Pringles;
once you stop, you can't pop. Never once in the days that i have
known 'zines have i had a good core of writers all writing for
the 'zine at the same time. It would be three here, three there,
but never at the same time. So the talent pool was efficiently
diluted. If a 'zine could effectively have a good talent pool
of writers, who continually produce, with a relatively balanced
amount of prose and essay, they might have a chance at having
an excellent 'zine. But those products are few and far between.
This essay originally appeared in Doomed to
Obscurity. Posted with permission.
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