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I’ve been craving the taste of a raw Wellington language. Something less polished than its acclaimed authors, more considered than its small-talking streets and mouthy pubs. I’ve been after it in its frankest expression; played with like bath foam blown in the air or slapped on the chin as a beard. Words bind, and people who play with them are the groundswell shaping the way communities grow. In a neglected nook of the Wellington library, I discovered this is the stuff zines are made of.
“Zines are the touchstones of our character” – Henry David Thoreau
Zines, self published, makeshift booklets, don’t queue neatly like books—they lean and drape like drunk cripples and frankly I found them in a mess. A shame—zines are important, even Martin Luther King had a zine. I began to introduce some order to hunt out my locals when it struck me I was doing an odd thing with my spare time.
This sentiment was quickly engulfed by the mountain of oddness before me. Zines will eagerly embrace what you thought weird about yourself like fruitcake dough welcomes a raisin. You can’t feel odd perusing Waterbear Society’s Family Photos, photocopied doodled body parts; or Hoard’s rows of collected colourful clawed bread tags, captioned:
going about my usualness I noticed that the streets are practically lined with bread tags… Under seats, in the gutter… Where do they all come from?
The sugar-themed issue involves equally poignant deliberations from an overseas adventure:
“Despite being in France for quite a while I wasn’t able to collect very many sugar packets… mainly because a lot of cafes all used the same brands of sugar.”
“Zining permits each of and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives” – William Yeats
Sarah McNeil pie graphs ‘cat breeds I’ve patted this year’, and charts her mood in relation to time listening to ‘this instrumental, electronic, whatever it is music’ in charming statistical analyses of her everyday world. David Merritt’s witty makeshift publications poeticise life in a corporatocracy, and cyber rage:
MAY I NEVER RECEIVE ZILLIONS
OF WEIRD AND CURIOUS EMAILS EXTORTING ME TO INCREASE MY PENIS SIZE OR TRANSFER FUNDS TO BOGUS NIGERIANS,
MAY ALL MY SOFTWARE KNOWLEDGE NOT BE MADE REDUNDANT ON A YEARLY BASIS BY STUPID UNNECESSARY FEATURE RICH BLOATWARE IMPROVEMENTS THAT FORCE ME
INTO A CONTINUAL CYCLE OF WHEEL REINVENTION
A favourite untitled, anonymous gem with a cover of palm fronds introduces David, living solo on an island on coconuts and shellfish. He dives for kelp, doodles, watches passing supply ships and an elusive figure in a bowler hat. A heron glides over a watercolour sky upon which David writes ‘I’ve been having strange dreams’.
“You eat, in zines, the custard of the day” – Alexander Pope
These are the masters of Baudelaire’s ‘only too difficult art—sensitive spirits will understand—of being sincere without being absurd’, playfully, attentively shaping communication in the face of the new. It seems Wellington’s avant-garde spend evenings under low light in surreal catharses of strange dreams and stationery. And whether you giggle at geek prayers or Bryce Galloway’s for a ‘SOUL MATE WANTED must have own car’; or feel uplifted by the assurance you don’t have to be Bukowski to write poetry, it is as Eleanor Roosevelt said: ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their zines’.