Saturday, 23 May 2015

MY SHITTY TOWN

I went to a gig last night and it was the strangest, most awesome gig that I have ever been to. I finished work at 8pm and after a brief pit-stop at home, headed straight to the venue. I had to be back at work at 8am today and part of me wanted to just crash out on the sofa but I went along regardless (Saturday shifts are a doss anyway, hence why I am writing a blog post right now as opposed to actually working). The gig was headlined by Louise Distras, a folk punk singer-songwriter from Wakefield. This was the first stop on her first UK tour with a full band. She is touring with American singer-songwriter Bryan McPherson and this show was supported by local Hastings punk band PUNKA.

I have been a fan of Louise for a long time. I discovered her music sometime in 2012 but last night was the first time I'd had the chance to see her live. She'd toured the UK a couple of times before since I'd been following her but she'd never played anywhere close to where I live. Suffice to say I was pretty fucking excited.


PUNKA played to a room of about five people. They trudged through their set and cracked a few jokes about the place being empty. I'd seen them before but this was the first time I'd seen them sober - they were decent enough, if a little uninspired. Next up was Bryan's set. Unfortunately only a few more people had arrived to see him. At this point PUNKA really pissed me off. They were dismantling and packing up their gear right in front of the stage as Bryan was playing. No fucking urgency whatsoever, just casually packing up and chatting amongst themselves. He took a couple of sarcastic digs at them which seemed to go over their heads. I really enjoyed his set, the highlight of which was the last song he played, 'Worker's Song'. Below is a video of him performing the song in Milan, Italy earlier this year when he supported The Dropkick Murphys.



Before Louise's set she came up to me and introduced herself. She'd seen that I had a backpatch on my hoodie of one of her old t-shirts and thanked me for coming. Unfortunately I was the only person who was actually there to see her, the other people that turned up would likely have been there no matter who was playing. She decided that due to there being fuck all people in attendance she would just do an acoustic set. As soon as she started playing PUNKA were once again being total dicks. They were stood at their merch stand at the back of the room, talking and laughing loudly. Louise was already pretty upset at basically playing to one dude and this really pissed her off. I could not believe the total lack of respect they showed to both Bryan and Louise. It was fucking embarrassing. And PUNKA are not teenagers, they're middle aged men. They're either really arrogant or completely ignorant, I couldn't tell. They even had the nerve to leave half way through Louise's set and brazenly take one of the gig posters from the wall right next to the stage as they did so. I will be in no rush to see them play again. Ever.

As for Louise's set, it was fucking awesome. She dedicated the whole thing to me and I got to request the songs I wanted her to play. I was ashamed of my shitty town for not turning out in force and completely embarrassed by PUNKA, but basically getting my own private gig from a musician that I admire greatly was pretty much the coolest thing ever. For Louise the gig was a right off and one that she will undoubtedly want to forget about in a hurry, but for me it was a gig that I will never forget. If Louise ever plays in your town, I implore you to go along and check her out. She's fucking rad!

Friday, 22 May 2015

I READ ZINES [#7]


Wonderlust Literary Zine #2

Wonderlust is the name of the zine and also the theme of each issue (the desire to be in a constant state of wonder), it contains poetry, short stories and has a fantastic comic strip to close the show as well. It makes me really proud to say that PAPER AND INK partially inspired the creation of this zine. Even if the zine sucked, it's a huge compliment. However, this zine does not suck, far from it. I was massively impressed with the first issue and this second one blows it out of the water. I can't wait to see what editor Sonya Cheney comes up with for the third issue.



This House Is Not A Landmark

I bought this zine from Sonya Cheney's brand new zine distro Nine Lives. It sounded like my cup of tea, and thankfully I was right. It is a split between Jesse Grease (Windmill zine) and Rust Belt Jessie (Reckless Chants zine) on the theme of houses. Each writer shares little vignettes of houses they have lived in, visited, partied at, watched bands play at, etc. The underlying narrative is that none of these 'houses' were never quite 'homes'. Each story is deeply personal and wonderfully written. Finding little gems like this is why I love zines and if you're into punk culture or even just honest, confessional writing, then I recommend this one highly.



Loose Meat Sandwich #1

This is a zine from creative collective Teflon Beast. In the intro it says the zine was inspired by reading My Own Mag - an experimental lit mag from the 60s which published the work of William S. Burroughs (amongst others). There isn't much content in this first issue - some experimental poems created using iPhone autocorrect and some brightly coloured illustrations of faces. There is also a playlist that accompanies the zine on the Teflon Beast bandcamp page that features an eclectic mix of bands and musicians. I'm afraid Loose Meat Sandwich has not won me over. The zine is a little bit too 'polished' for my taste and it seems to only exist in order to promote the music. If they go again for another issue I would like a little more meat in my sandwich.


Marching Stars Zine Distro: The Zine

Marching Stars zine distro has been a staple of the UK zine scene since it opened in 2007. On 1st March this year distro owner Lizzy announced the sad news that it would be closing down. It will remain open until all of the stock is gone and then she is moving on to do other things with her life. She complied this zine as a little goodbye to all of her customers, partially to explain her decision to close and also as a celebration of what she achieved. It is quite an emotional read and I will be sad to see Marching Stars go. You can't buy this zine, but it is given away free with all final orders, SO GET IN QUICK!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

BOOK REVIEW: NO STRINGS BY MARK SAFRANKO



SaFranko's protagonist in No Strings, Richard Marzten, is a man who has it all; coming from humble beginnings in a small mining community in backwater Pennsylvania, he has married into money and finds himself living in the lap of luxury in the affluent New Jersey suburbs. He is living the dream and wants for nothing, or does he? The thing about dreams is that once they come true, oftentimes they don't quite live up to the billing. It is human nature to want more, to get better, to strive for greater things, but that can sometimes land you in the shit, as Mr Marzten quickly discovers... 

His wife is several years his senior and steadily losing her looks. He is no spring chicken himself but feels that has something to prove to himself and thus decides to have an affair. Wary that his wife will catch on to his extramarital activities before they even get going he hatches an elaborate plan to cover his tracks. Before looking twice at another woman he gives off all the warning signs of an affair - Staying out late with no explanation, taking extra care of himself, washing his own clothes, etc - This sets the alarm bells ringing and his wife hires a private detective to shadow him. Finding nothing untoward going on, her mind is put to rest and the coast is clear for Richard to do as he pleases.

Placing an ad in the personals leads him to Gretchen; a young, attractive woman who is also married to money and looking for a discreet, no strings attached affair. Richard can hardly believe his luck and at first everything is perfect. He is having the best sex of his life with a vibrant, young beauty and his wife doesn't have a clue. In the character's own words he is having his cake and eating it. However, good things rarely last forever and Richard soon finds his life spiralling out of control. Betrayal, deceit, blackmail, murder... How far will he go to protect his comfortable, cosy life?!

SaFranko's prose is crisp and concise as always, and the novel zips along at a frenetic pace. Marzten's reprehensible actions don't make it easy to root for him, but the first person narrative gives a weight and honesty to the character which makes it difficult not to sympathise with his predicament. He knows he's fucked up, he's knows he an asshole and he knows that he's probably going down, so he may as well go down swinging. This is a fun read that will keep you guessing until the end and is well worth parting with a few of your hard earned. Originally released in 2012 by Black Coffee Press it has recently been giving a shiny new (and deserved) release by Thomas and Mercer. Grab a copy on Amazon UK or Amazon US right now.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#6]


This month's interview is with PAPER AND INK #5 contributing poet, DIY publisher and purveyor of underground lit fiend gold dust, David Roskos...

For those who are not familiar with you or Iniquity Press tell us what you're all about...

All about getting the word out, promoting poets & poetry that I like.

I love your blog Gonzo Library of the Indy Outlaw - an incredible resource of out of print material. How did it come about?

Thanks. Bree from
Green Panda Press set up the blog, and came up with the name, & uploaded some pubs to it early on. I'm glad she did, because I enjoy posting to it, gives me something to do, keeps me out of trouble.

Word has it that you've been putting out zines since 1988 (not to make you feel old but I was born in '87), how do you maintain the passion to keep on going?

I turned 50 last October. Still have the same interests I had as a teenager (and the same curiosity and enthusiasm). Poetry and Music are infinite, so many connections, you can just keep digging forever and always find new (to you) poems and sounds.

How did you get in to poetry initially?

I wrote a poem in 9th grade home room. Next day I wrote another one. I was stoned like I was every morning in home-room. I showed them to my Art teacher. He said they were poems, and to keep writing them. He also told me to read, and handed me a copy of
Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America. This was September 1979. Not long after that I read an article about The Beats and City Lights Books in High Times magazine. I ordered a bunch of Allen Ginsberg books from City Lights. I really identified with him and dug his poems.

It must have been a proud moment being featured in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry?- a who's who of American poetry.

Yes. I am very happy about being in there, having been included, in such great company.

Who are your favourite poets outside of America?

William Blake & 
Fran├žois Villon.

You've published a lot of work by the late Kell Robertson, for anyone who has never heard of Kell or read his work, can you tell us a bit about him?

Kell Robertson was a real poet, born into it, he didn't have any choice but to SING. It was always all about the SONG. And it is an American Song. He lived a hard life, in abject poverty a lot of the time, but that life was the crucible through which he forged his poems. Poems that could only have been written by him. Whenever we miss Kell, all we have to do is read one of his poems and hear his voice, and there he is, alive again, singing. He also had a great sense of humor, and was a bit of a goof. He was a great letter writer. He lived in a shack in the desert last few years of his life, didn't have the internet or do email. He wrote long wonderful letters by hand and with a manual typewriter. His letters are poems. Had the pleasure of meeting him in person a few years before he died. Went out to his place with several other poets and spent an afternoon with him. He was a gracious host. It was an honor to have been pen-pals with him and to have worked with him on a couple chapbooks.

Are there any poets that you've discovered recently that you're really excited about? Or anyone we should be keeping an eye out for?

That could be a long list... Start with the table of contents page for any STREET VALUE or BIG HAMMER magazine. Recently? Got some poems from Jakima Davis in the mail, published one in last STREET VALUE, and have since seen more of her poems. I like her energy, and her poems. She'll be in the next zine I publish. I also came across a poet named Jeffrey Rush, Jr. recently. He was in last Street Value and will be in the next one. Found his work on PRESSURE PRESS PRESENTS which is an online poetry group that the poet Ron Androla started. Pressure Press is also the name of Ron's press. A few other poets I've been publishing since the beginning who everyone should be keeping an eye out for are Ken Greenley, Matt Borkowski & Joe Weil. Good friends and mentors to me when I was a young poet. Ken has several new books out which can be easily bought online. He's also represented on the blog. Joe is also featured on the blog and has several books out, easily had online. Matt's book is out of print but can be read cover to cover on the blog; it's called UPTOWN DOWN!

What is it that you look for in a poem? What gets your blood pumping?

That's hard to articulate. I know it when I see or hear it... Again, the best way to see what kind of poetry I look for, is to look at what I've already published (which ya can do for FREE at the blog). I listen for what William Blake called "the voice of the devil".

What was the last collection you read that blew you away?

Cockroach Hotel by The Willie; & several back issues of Kurt Nimmo's PLANET DETROIT.


What does the future hold for David Roskos and Iniquity Press?

I have a big trade paperback collection of my poems coming out later this year from REDUX CONSORTIUM: Cat In The Sun Press. It's called Lyrical Grain, Doggeral Chaff, & Pedestrian Preoccupations. Far as Iniquity Press goes, just gonna keep on publishing BIG HAMMER & STREET VALUE.

Thank you for answering these questions, David.

Find the latest copies of BIG HAMMER and STREET VALUE on the Gonzo Library of the Indy Outlaw blog and find two of his poems in issue #5 of PAPER AND INK LITERARY ZINE.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

DAMN THE MAN

As regular followers here will know (as I never shut up about it), I run a literary fanzine called PAPER AND INK and it's pretty much the best thing that anybody has ever created in the history of the universe. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! The fifth issue has just been released unto the world. The theme is shitty jobs (something everyone can relate to -unless you're really fucking lucky and/or born into money) and it features some regular names from previous issues as well as a whole host of new voices from all corners of the world. I am really proud of this one so if you've never bought a copy before I would highly recommend that you start NOW!

(click the image below to be taken to the website)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

I READ ZINES [#8]


Hand Job #7

Issue #7 of Hand Job heralds a new look for the literary zine. All previous issues have been of a cut 'n' paste, photocopied aesthetic - the traditional zine look, if you will. But for this issue Sophie Pitchord (one half of the team behind the zine) has flexed her creative design muscles and put together a really smart looking zine. It still maintains a gritty, no nonsense vibe and the content within the pages is up there with the best stuff they have published to date, but it feels like it is coming of age with this new look. I really don't know where they are going to go from here, but I am excited to be taken along for the ride.  

 




  
Big Hammer #17

Dave Roskos, who runs Iniquity Press and edits Big Hammer zine, has been putting out zines since I was in short trousers. Big Hammer is a poetry zine full of working class, hard hitting poetry that takes no prisoners. Coming in at over fifty pages this is a mammoth zine that has been painstakingly assembled by an editor who clearly cares deeply about the written word and letting these voices be heard. Dave uploads all of his zines on to his blog, but I recommend getting in touch with him for a paper copy. It is well worth it. 


Death #1

This upstart new zine started following me on Twitter out of the blue one rainy English day. Hailing from the land down under, it described itself as a punk literary zine and I was instantly sold. Before I could say 'Shit, what's my PayPal password?!?' a copy was winging its way across the world to me. What a breath of fresh air this little zine is. Short and sweet with a free poster to boot. The content itself is comprised of two interesting short pieces of fiction accompanied by hand drawn illustrations.  I love discovering new zines, especially lit zines and I can't wait for the second issue.


 






Gadgie #33

Word on the fanzine grapevine was that Marv (editor-in-chief at Gadgie Towers) almost didn't print up a paper version of this issue, for he was growing disillusioned. Fearing that a PDF may be more accessible to the brain dead Kindle reading masses, he took to Facebook to gauge the opinion of his loyal readers. The punters and the punks told Marv in no uncertain terms that brain dead Kindle reading zombies they were not and that a paper zine is a thing of beauty not to be traded for the screen of a lifeless grey slab of plastic. Cut to a couple of weeks later and here we have issue 33 - another smashing issues of misadventures, misunderstandings and musings told as only Marv can. He sure knows how to spin a yarn. Long live the paper zines and long live Gadgie!