A New Breed of Zine?
Much media hype has been directed at the world of zines. But what about those publications that have just a hair more budget? Picture a saw ripping through the forest silence somewhere in the Northwest. Hundreds of razor-sharp teeth bite into an old-growth tree trunk, toppling the giant within seconds. Still oozing sap, the carcass is hauled off by truck to a paper mill, its pulp pressed into a nice 60-pound gloss, shipped to a printer in the Midwest and slapped onto a four-color press to arrive stapled and glistening at your newsstand with the title American Cheerleader.
Amid ads for pore cleansers, competition sneakers and summer "spirit camps," this vital organ offers such information as the Top 10 Cheerleading Gripes: "#3 -- People think I'm a ditz"; "#10 -- Every movie about teenagers seems to have a dumb cheerleader in it." Or a list debunking those nasty cheerleader myths: "#5 -- Cheerleaders are just airheads. Not!! In the majority of programs, bad grades will get you booted." Other helpful articles focus on scheduling: "Time Saver #5: Choose Your Friends Wisely. Anna says some of the girls on her squad don't take cheerleading as seriously as she does. 'They'll be eating McDonald's or something while the game is still on. I tell them, "Stop already. No one will take us seriously if you're pigging out on the field!"' ... But you can handpick your friends. Choose those who share your values and your desire to make the most of your time."
Other fine reasons to clearcut a hillside include ResponseTV, the glossy industry trade magazine of the infomercial -- excuse me, electronic merchandising -- world. March's cover story explores "The Brains Behind the Smart Mop." You're wondering which programs made the top 10 in January, according to Jordan Whitney, Inc.? Why, Sarah Purcell's skin-care system, of course, clocking in at number one, up from number three last month, followed by Dionne's psychic hotline, two exercise machines, two hair extensions, a carpet cleaner and other fine essential products and services. Need a celebrity? Just pick up the phone and call Jack King, "Celeb Broker," who boasts the catchy headline, "Why Pay Retail?" followed by a picture of Shirley Jones endorsing a product called "Pain Gel Plus." An ad with a photo of a man playing a conga drum explains just exactly how to tap into that lucrative Latino market.
But the best current use of virgin old-growth has to be the overdesigned U2 fanzine Propaganda, printed on paper so glossy it seems closer to trucker smut. The fan mail also approaches a level of idol worship bordering on pornographic, as evidenced by this message from Shannon in Canada: "Dear Propaganda, Sure wish I'd thought to name my daughter Zooropa. Darn." While Virginie from France finds it important to send along a photo of four pie-eyed guys hoisting Heinekens to the camera, some poor girl named Ellen from England writes: "Being lost without compass, map or religions, I felt that I should write in order that I might offer up praise and thanks to the great Bono in the sky for his inspiring lyrics. As a mature student I have recently been involved in a study of postmodernism within contemporary literature, and I found taking diversion into the ontological landscapes of Zooropa and ZOO TV extremely beneficial to my studies ...." We've come a long way from the KISS Army. Or maybe we haven't.
A much saner use of paper can be found in the new local magazine Juxtapoz, brainchild of Robert Williams and Thrasher magazine's Kevin Thatcher, featuring beautiful reproductions of paintings and photography by current artists.
Fido Go Boom?
Still one more weekend to catch Dog Explosion, by Sean Clark, and Lanford Wilson's Home Free, two one-act plays featuring Jana Goerlitz and Rick Paxson. Any piece of theater that begins immediately after a stick of dynamite blows up a porch-bound dog and kills an old lady is worth investigating, especially if it's funny, which this is. Dog Explosion and Home Free play Thursday-Saturday through March 4 at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa, S.F.; call 821-2255.