don't give in! there are those who understand!

'Don't give in! there are those who understand!!' Words of passion. Words in bright red letters on a yellow splatter background too. Words that appeared at the start of a fanzine way back in the depths of time when people were still amazed at 286 chips, probably, and I was a 7" single adoring snotty new-punk bored teenager of the Pop re-generation. That the e-zine really can't compete with the pure unadulterated excitement of having words like that screaming from the pages of a paper fanzine is something of a tragedy, but is also another argument. What the e-zine does allow is instant publishing, instant gratification of the bile that boils on those days when╔ well, just WHEN.


A few weeks back I thought I'd write to a few folks who still seemed to be making paper and ink fanzines. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic, I dunno. Whatever, I pulled together a few addresses from flyers and scratchy lists picked up god knows where, and mailed off a few hand etched letters with some copies of my shit as trade, asking to see what The Kids were up to, what the hipsters on the underground were down with. About a month later I've had a trickle of responses fall through the post box╔ now maybe it's just my defunct memory, but it always seemed to me that back in the day you could send off your fanzine to some other writer and you'd get almost instant response, usually with an excited letter of mutual support included. These days it seems things might be different.


I'll be kind in a moment, maybe, but not right now, Oh no, not right now. See, one of the folks I mailed with some of my stuff was one Amanda MacKinnon, or Manda Rin as you oh too hip kids will know her as. Someone said she was in a pop combo called Bis, maybe you've heard of them. Well that was a month or so ago, and today I got a 'letter' in the mail. It says 'Amanda doesn't do swaps for her fanzine, as she makes no money from it. In order to produce the amount she needs, it costs her hundreds.' Laugh? Fuck that.


Not making money from fanzines? Well what the fuck did I expect? Of COURSE no-one makes money from fanzines, forgive me but I thought that just went without saying. I also thought it went without saying that people write fanzines because they NEED to, because the urge to communicate a passion about something overcomes a financial consideration. I thought that writing a fanzine inevitably meant you had to LOSE money. I thought it was a rule. Maybe I just got suckered. Did it look as though my fanzines (printed, not photocopied, one with glossy cover, the other glossy paper throughout) were cheap? Did it look as though maybe I too hadn't spent 'hundreds' on getting them printed? No adverts, no bullshit plugging some scene I was/am commercially involved with, no ass licking music journo wanna-be wank, just pure energy, emotion, NEED. Yeah, well, whatever. The letter wasn't even from 'Amanda'. I mean, you do a fanzine, you do a fucking fanzine, you don't just let some other poor sod do all the 'work' for you. You do that, you're just another sycophant playing the magazine publishing game, playing by the rules, but trying to hide behind an underground independent cool. Fuck you and your underground.


Troubling times. In a survey of student opinions, it seems that the second most popular or admired politician is Margaret Thatcher (Nelson Mandella was first). Of course statistics are open to interpretation, but that's still a worrying thing to be going on in someone's head. Particularly someone young.

It seems that everyone wants everything to be a career. If you're in a band it has to be doing everything by the rules, has to be playing the corporate game, using the old tired and weak ways of wandering aimlessly up a crowded avenue to the destruction of magic and mystery. If you write a fanzine, it seems that there's a rule which says you must pretend to be the music press and do pages of dreary reviews, reams of drivel spouted by members of bands with aforementioned career myopia and supply endless pointless anecdotes about shmoozing with some alleged minor celebrity whose dull personality is matched only by the absence of charisma in their records/films/tv shows. Careers are a lie, and anyone playing by those old rules is missing the point; you want to do something, you just get up and you fucking well DO IT. Don't sit and make an 'action plan' or a 'business' plan or some other bag of time wasting shit, just DO IT. Do it because you love it, not because you think it's a good fucking career move.

All the best music fanzines are written by those who don't aspire to be part of the music industry, or by those who at least have a burning passion inside for making something Pop in a way that refuses the structures that industry puts in place. Such writers inevitably produce work of a much lower standard if and when they do succumb to the guile's of the industry, and are only set free artistically when those commercial ties are loosed. I could give you examples, but frankly I can't be arsed.

All the best fanzines are Pop as opposed to Rock obsessed of course and as such these days are written by teenage schoolgirls who just want to scream and shout about how great it is to be young and screaming and shouting about╔ well, you get the picture. Smashed by Jae is by far the best fanzine I've seen since in ages, and although there's maybe too much of the aforementioned boring toss of reviews, at least most of those are fuelled by that passion I want, NEED from a fanzine. There's LOVE and there's HATE and there's snogging and laughs and talk of bubblegum and energy and ennui, all in the same line. This is Pop, naturally: A state of mind that can both condemn and embrace the Spice Girls in the same breath. What more do you need, really? And the A-Team on the back cover telling us that 'life without Smashed would be like eating an eclair without the cream.' Quite.

And she does swaps.

©Alistair september 11th 1998.

Jae is off to University and doesn't seem to have any copies of Smashed left. It's probably not worth writing asking for it then, but you might want to try. Jae, The Cedar, Chalk Lane, Ashstead, Surrey kt21 1dj, UK. Send a couple of quid if you don't have a swap.

Amanda Bis is contempt-mailable at po box 3821, Glasgow, g46 6jy.