So this month I don't have too much news from the Canberra region. There was a zine fair on, but I was unable to attend. My spies tell me there was not anywhere near as many people as at the same event last year.
What I have done instead is interview my good pal Bridget (Screwdriver Guilts, Trees Die Standing), who used to live in Canberra, but is now popping up all over the world...
What first got you started on the idea of making zines?
I honestly have no idea. I always liked cut & paste..
You're living in Austria at the moment....what's the zine scene like?
So far a bit bullshit. There's one infoshop here in Vienna, at the one squat (not a real squat), with a secret knock & stuff before you can get in. I'm gonna keep digging though, I'm optimistic.
And to follow on from that, is it difficult to make zines there- are paper, staplers, glue and photocopiers widely available?
The good news for Viennese zinesters is that there's a super-friendly anarchist printing place that will only charge you material costs, so at least this part of it's totally covered. Meanwhile, due to some stupid scene infighting junk the place is being effectively boycotted by most of the people in the city who could, should & would be using the place.
What's your personal favourites of the zines you have made so far?
I'm kinda keen on ish one of Trees Die Standing (which will totes be reprinted & in our favourite smelbs store before long). For those of you (most of you) who haven't read it, it's about the time I went to the Egypt-Gaza border last June. It's a long story. I interviewed a bunch of people coming out of Gaza, as well as some of the people involved in the tunnels/smuggling trade & learnt a lot about the Bedouin struggle in the Sinai. I also found out that the going price for a Grad missile launcher in Gaza is $50,000, while in Somalia it's only $6,000.
Your zines are mainly based on your personal experiences, without the adventure would there be no zine?
Um yeah, I think so. I hope so! My first few zines (Screwdriver Guilts #1 & 2) were an amalgamation of crap, mostly nothing to do with me. I interviewed some skater in Norway about when THE GOVERNMENT OUTLAWED SKATING FOR LIKE 15 YEARS WTF, & Quan Yeomans from Regurgitator, who can I just mention, is such a dude.
Trees Die Standing #2 is about your experiences in Palestine...what would you do differently if you were to go there again?
Yeah wow! Maybe everything or nothing? I'd probably try to shoplift more in Tel Aviv, & eat (even) more falafel.
What's next on the production line?
So many. I spent some time with the No Borders group in Calais, France last year where European activists are supporting the migrant struggle for freedom of movement... literally hundreds of migrants are stuck in this pissant town in northern France at any given time, trying to smuggle themselves on to a boat to Britain. Basically it's a losing game of trying to stop the cops from beating them up too much during raids, & just to be a friendly face to these people who have gone through such incredible, relentless bullshit. Anyway, as soon as I get time I want to write an “Arabic for Activists” zine especially for Calais, to combat the language barrier (a lot of people there were from Sudan, Iraq etc) & help activists be more effective. I wanna write a “Middle East Vegan” recipe zine, even if no-one reads them – this might have something to do with this fucking Palestinian cookbook I'm editing right now (I say “fucking” because the recipes are so vague it feels more like I'm writing a cookbook than editing). And I want to sit down & write my zine from Iraq/Kurdistan, which I hope to call “All My Friends Are Mountains” because, well, it's often been said that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains... & gosh I like mountains!
What sort of music is the background to these zines?
This is ridiculous but when I was cut/pasting my last zine together it was to the soundtrack of my boyfriend reading me Sherlock Holmes aloud.
Apart from zines, you do a fair bit of other writing, how does making zines fit into your writing game as a whole?
Zines are totes the writing equivalent of um, “me time” - when I get to write whatever, however I like, with no deadlines, word limits or target audiences. Wahey!
What are the best and worst zines you have ever read?
I don't think I've ever read a BAD zine, hey. I have a pretty low threshold for ranty socialist zines or wistful-teenage-girl-growing-up-in-the-Midwest perzines unless they're really well done, but whatevs. Well, actually, I did read a zine once called “Why Nonviolence Protects the State”, but it was actually a photocopy of the un-copyrighted book of the same name, & it was (for me) complete bullshit.
I read a really rad zine once called something like “Why Restaurants Should Be Abolished” which was pretty much what it said on the box, deconstructing the power-plays that define restaurant interactions between customers & staff. Good stuff for anyone who's ever worked hospitality!
Do you think you will find yourself back in Canberra anytime?
I'm coming back to Australia at the end of the year, mostly out of a growing desire to address the political situation & do some intense introspective junk re: being a product of colonialism & how to circumvent it. And Canberra's magnetic pull can only be staved off for so long. Actually zine-wise I'm really fucking excited!!! Australia's zine scene seems to be totally exploding! Kapow!
Anything else to add or anyone to thank?
Thanks Special Agent Dale Cooper, for being you!