Friday, March 25, 2016

Beyond Bookshelves: Punk Stuff #1

Today at Beyond Voracious, let’s take a peek at some solid reads for persons interested in punk music, style, philosophy, history, and overall culture.

I’ve been researching various aspects of punk rock since middle school, and over time I’ve accumulated some books that seems to survive every bookshelf purge I go through. They capture some key tenants of DIY ethos and the core of what I feel is the punk attitude. Check out the mini-reviews starting below for some highly recommended reading.

Punk Rock Aerobics: 50 Punk Classics and 25 Reasons to Get Off Your Ass and Exercise

By Maura Jasper and Hilken Mancini

The first book in this series is, funnily enough, the most commercial. An unorthodox health and exercise book, Punk Rock Aerobics starts off with the story of its co-writers peeling themselves off of the couch one day to stumble over empty beer cans and decide that they needed to get into shape in order to keep enjoying themselves at basement punk shows. After going through the approved venues to get certified as aerobic instructors, Maura Jasper and Hilken Mancini opened up a class to people of all abilities. Using bricks as weights and pogo dancing to the Ramones, it’s a pretty fun and irreverent read.

The book’s design purposely calls to mind a cut-and-paste zine of black-and-white pictures with pops of red. Look for interviews about fitness and punk music from the likes of Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Hugo Burnham (Gang of Four), and Peter Prescott (Mission of Burma) in between the pages of distinctly un-model-y fitness models grimacing through exercises.

So yes, Jasper and Mancini own a legit aerobics business and published a book and are certified by The System to teach fitness classes. Don’t let the establishment-led path of this book hamper its fun and friendly tone. After all, what’s more punk than increasing cardio levels to play longer sets with the band?

Recommended for:
People who want a good inspiration story, older punks who need some health inspiration, anyone who wants to get fit but is revolted by the idea of a shiny gym full of shiny people

Making Stuff and Doing Things: A Collection of DIY Guides to Doing Just About Everything

By Kyle Bravo

DIY, at least for me, is the unreachable molten core of punk rock. If punk is about authenticity and anti-consumerism, locality and earnestness, then knowing how to make and do yourself is essential. This collection of guides from Microcosm Publishing (whose zine department has since broken off into Pioneers Press) has it all. Want to know how to make a quill pen? Compost a garden? Bind a book? Make a spray paint stencil or wheat paste? Identify wild food for foraging? It’s all here.

This book hearkens from my early teenage days when I was convinced that I would run off to join an anarchist commune on the West Coast somewhere. The hand-drawn illustrations and varied writing styles show that a number of skilled writers went in to creating this book, lending it an air of integrity that a lot of general how-to books severely lack. This book is real about taking care of yourself from your head to your toes, from clothes to furniture to house to garden, from friends to pets to farm animals. All essential anarchist day-dreaming or practical homesteading advice. Bonus: there’s a section about surviving going on tour as a band on a shoestring budget.

Recommended for:
Pretty much anyone who doesn’t have a lot of money, people who have recently left the family home willing or unwilling and have little to their name, new DIY-enthusiasts, environmentalists, people who want to live off the grid, appreciators of zines

Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY ZINE RESOURCE 3rd Ed.

By Alex Wrekk

Zine: a small, often handmade magazine or other publication distributed locally or regionally and showcasing an individual’s or group’s passions.

Sniffin’ Glue stands out as the first well-known punk zine. As a fan zine, it called out names of upcoming '70s punk bands to as many readers  as possible that could get their hands on the photocopied and stapled pages.

Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a palm-sized handbook of everything that everyone needs to start their own zine. It’s another gem from Microcosm Publishing, its third edition showing the tiny book's popularity as a serious resource. The whole idea of the stolen sharpie comes from the notion that sharpie markers should be an organic part of the human environment. When one needs a marker, a sharpie will inevitably appear through search or friends or luck. A solid black marker and some paper is all one needs to make a zine.

Some of the most valuable advice concerns zine formatting, backgrounds, and distribution. For someone making a handmade zine with no computer to collate pages, the diagram of page numbers is invaluable. Every page offers some inspiration in the form of drawings and repeated background designs, some even coming from the patterns on security envelopes. Zine distribution changes depending on the changing times and different regions, but Stolen Sharpie Revolution still offers some timeless tips for getting a zine spread to more than, say, five people. Bonus: see the back pages for a healthy list of zine distros, libraries, and stores in North America.

Recommended for:
Writers, independent publishers, kids interested in publishing, artists, comic/graphic novelists, DIY enthusiasts, graphic designers

Stay tuned for even more punk book reviews and a full video tour of the "punk stuff" section of my shelves.

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