making many zines.

Rich worked at a commercial printing company that was Japanese-owned.  Most of the people who worked there were Japanese, many actual Japanese citizens living in the US on work visas or something.  They spoke very little English.

Many of them adapted by trying to speak English but not quite getting it.  Instead of saying “We’re printing lots of annual reports,” they’d say “Making many books.  Sure?”  

Instead of saying “I’ll take a hot dog,” they’d say “One more hot dog.”  Instead of saying “I’ll take two hot dogs,” they’d say “One more, one more hot dog.”

Rich had pretty much perfected their JapanEnglish, and would speak it in casual conversation.  I’d say “The dumpster exploded while Frank and I were drinking tequila in the kitchen,” and he’d cock his head and say “Sure?”

We had, the whole time, been helping Rich work on the first issue of Indier Than Thou!.  This blog is not about Indier Than Thou! but it was still a big part of what we were doing.

A quick synopsis: 

Rich let me write all the record reviews, except for Rise Robots Rise.  He felt some sense of obligation to TVT Records, mostly because they had been sending him free records when his zine didn’t really exist.  I reviewed cuppa joe and Ditch Croaker, as well as a few other bands.  I used a pseudonym, John Galt, since I was such a fan of Ayn Rand and since we had sort of jokingly envisioned ourselves as taking over the world, a la Atlas Shrugged.

Blake did an awesome interview with Gerard Cosloy of Matador Records.  Doing the interview was my idea – Rich wanted the zine to get inside indie culture and Gerard was one of indie rock’s most knowledgeable and influential people – still is.  No fucking way I was doing that interview, though – Gerard was (still is) really outspoken and sarcastic, and wouldn’t hesitate to tear you a new one in CMJ’s “Dialogue” section, or in some other zine interview.  I didn’t want to ask a stupid question and get hammered for it.  I kinda looked up to Cosloy; he was running Homestead Records at a very young age and put out some unbelievable records, he published Conflict, which was a pretty popular zine, and then he started Matador and put out some of the best records I’d ever heard up to that point.  He had definitely accomplished a lot in indie rock at a young age.

Blake did a fantastic job with the interview.  It read well, covered fantastic subject matter, and was super-interesting.

We also worked on another article, also using the John Galt pseudonym, where we contrasted two college radio stations – one that exclusively played independent music, and one that, in our minds, fell victim to some of the alt-rock payola that happened with the Alternative Departments at various major labels.  It was a pretty inflammatory article.

We had the cuppa joe interview that Rich conducted while the band was coloring the sleeves for their seven-inch in our apartment.  It was a well-done piece that reflected a lot of the interesting elements of the band’s personality.

For a first issue, there was a lot of solid content.

Sandy had, in her dayjob, garnered quite a bit of experience in good, old-fashioned paste-up work, having worked for a small-town newspaper.  At the paper, one Saturday each month she was required to come in and work on production, laying out the publication.  She gave Rich a lot of pointers on how to lay out a publication, and Rich used this information to lay it all out in Quark XPress.

It was a decent-looking zine.

Rich had a thousand copies of it made on a printer at his work.  He used a high-speed copy machine and printed it on 11 x 17″ paper.  He bought a hand-stapler at Staples, and one night brought stacks of paper to our apartment.  Unlike his usual M.O. where someone else paid for the beer, he brought over a case of Lowies and he, Sandy and I drank a ton of beer, collated copies of the zine, stapled and folded them until we had a thousand zines.  We were making many zines.  Sure?

We had zines in the living room, so Binky Graphics and Binky Media were, I suppose, official.

“I’m going to drop one of these off at Frank’s house,” Rich said.  “I want him to see that I actually did something.”

It wasn’t that Rich was holding a grudge.  It was that the conversation that he had with Frank months before really stuck with Rich – it really impacted him to the point where he felt he had something to prove.

It was me who was holding a grudge.

I hadn’t seen Frank in a while.

At this point, Frank was working for a computer company in Newark, and his life was sort of taking a different direction than ours.  He was doing well financially – we weren’t, and we were spending every spare penny on Dromedary.  Meanwhile, Frank had gone on a serious health kick, and was really enjoying life.  He had joined a gym and was spending a lot of time there – he was in great shape, and when you get into great shape you tend to become consumed by doing more things to get/stay in shape.  So he had taken up mountain biking, an activity that he spent a lot of time doing.  The combination of being outdoors and being on two wheels also got him interested in motorcycles, and he had purchased a couple of motorcycles and was getting into racing them.

He tried to get us involved in these things with him, but we simply couldn’t afford it, and didn’t have the time anyway.

Doing these things introduced him to new people, and he started hanging around with them a lot.  He had traveled to San Francisco and Chicago – things we had never done, nor had any plans to – and suddenly he had all these experiences that we didn’t.  Very quickly, Frank became much more worldly than the rest of us.  It’s not that we resented it, exactly, it was more that we simply couldn’t keep up with him.  As a result, we gradually found ourselves falling out of favor.

Frank was, at the time, my very best friend.  He had introduced me to Rich – something for which I was grateful – but we had also known each other for a long time, had a lot in common, and really enjoyed each other’s company.  One of the reasons we had moved to the shithole in which we lived was because it was right up the street from Frank.  

Earlier that summer, Frank had rented a house down the Jersey Shore with a bunch of his friends from work.  One day, he called me at home.  “You’ve got to help me out,” he said.

“What do you need?” I asked.

“I’m going down the shore with these people from the office,” he explained. “They’re sort of losers.  They have no idea how to party.  I know it’s going to suck.  I was wondering if you and Sandy could come down for a few days, party a little, keep me company.”

A few days down the shore for free sounded great to me.  “Do you have a spare bedroom?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said.  “If you guys come down here, I’ll make sure you have a bedroom to yourselves, and a bed to sleep in.”

I agreed to go. 

We made arrangements for Buca to be watched, packed up, and hit the road on a Saturday afternoon.

On the way down, we stopped at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway for a late lunch at Burger King.  Sandy and I sat down and ate, finished our burgers, and got back on the road.

That’s when things got crazy.

~ by Al on February 23, 2009.

One Response to “making many zines.”

  1. […] Train Motor Man, and entitled the CD Sure?, after the word that was commonly used by Rich’s Japanese coworkers when they didn’t understand […]

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