Best New Book by a Zinester - 2008
Erick Lyle's On the Lower Frequencies
Once upon a time, there was a punk hero who made a zine. He called himself Iggy Scam. He called the zine Scam. Both Scams became famous in the homeless train-hopper artist world. Time went by, and, weathering the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust, and the Care Not Cash billboards of the mid-double-oughts, Iggy changed his name and wrote a book. On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City is a nonfiction chronicle of now-Erick Lyle's work with needle exchange programs, homeless-rights advocacy, and Gay Shame, in a narrative dovetail with reprints from the incredibly fabulous Tenderloin newspaper, Turd Filled Donut. The "Turd Caen" columns are so funny they'll seriously lay out any fan of Herb's, and the reportage is as hard-nosed as any we've seen. This is an intensely political book, full of proudly squatted warehouses, radical harm reduction, and illegal music. The common thread is hardly the anger and misanthropy the straight world assumes are punk's guiding lights, though: human compassion and the desire for a livable, sane world motivate every word.