July 8, 2014
Cassetty: Livin’ in the ’80s

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July 8, 2014
Small World Cup: Round of Twelve

The Cup the sports press doesn’t really cover

The FIBFA* Small World Cup

GROUP A

Tonga vs. Fed. States of Micronesia

GROUP B

Fiji vs. Maldives

GROUP C

St Kitts-Nevis vs. Djibouti

GROUP D

Grenada vs. Barbados

GROUP E

Vatican City vs. Liechtenstein

GROUP F

Luxembourg vs. Iceland

*FIBFA: Federation of Itty Bitty Futbol Associations

June 12, 2014
ZINE REVIEW: This Ain’t No Picnic

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This Ain’t No Picnic: Your Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook

Microcosm Publishing

Published by Microcosm Publishing, purveyor of DIY publications from health guides to left-leaning political zines, This Ain’t No Picnic is “Your Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook.” With pierced tongue in cheek, this awesome looking recipe compendium is presented in a humorous, self-effacing style that pokes fun at all things punk while simultaneously teaching you how to cook vegan-style. It’s not about dogma or even dog collars, it’s about making delicious vegan food on the cheap with limited access to things like stoves, ovens, freezers, fridges and other appliances generally associated with cooking.

The book features 80 new vegan recipes from the Punk Rock Vegan Chef, Joshua Ploeg and is broken down into eight sections that are accompanied by short introductions from various punk rockers, as well as recommended song lists of punk classics. Ploeg is a traveling vegan chef who has cooked for a long list of musicians and bands over his career on the fringes of the culinary world. He also has a lifelong connection to punk rock. He has authored dozens of zines and DIY cookbooks and has, in his words, lived in squalor for the past fifteen years. Photographers, Vice Cooler and Dalton Blanco, provide great full-color photos and, despite the intentionally chaotic and cluttered layout of the book, it looks exciting, fresh as a raw rutabaga and easy to use.

This book contains recipes for dishes that can be made in the tour van, like “Dashboard Jerky” for example, where marinated strips of beets, carrots and tofu or tempeh can be placed on a piece of foil so they can dehydrate on the hot dash. Or s’mores that can be roasted over the flame of a cigarette lighter. There are recipes for food that was “fished” from the dumpster, and tips on how to slice and dice vegetables with nothing more than a credit card a la the Credit Card Sandwich tutorial. (Don’t use your card for any other purpose.)

While it may increase your enjoyment of the book if you are familiar with the bands and songs that have inspired some of these recipes, and it may be helpful to be a vegan, neither is a prerequisite. Yes, you don’t have to live in a communal punk rock house to cook like a crusty vegan. You don’t even have to listen to punk rock to make these dishes, (you should though), but it may just inspire you to dig into the vast annals of punk rock’s past and explore the health benefits and cruelty-free aspects of a vegan dietChris Auman

This review was written for Green Action News and appears on their website.

June 4, 2014
Cassetty Endorses Puritan Pine!

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April 27, 2014
ZINE REVIEW: Travel On #5

TRAVEL ON #5

Letters, remember them? Of course you don’t. We don’t write them any more, but we used to. We used to put these lickable little squares called “stamps” on ‘em and then this thing called the Post Office would deliver them for you. To wherever you wanted.  You used to love getting them and hate writing them if they were to thank someone for a gift. You had to sit down and summarize your life. You had to think about it longer than the time it takes to fart out a tweet or a status update. If you liked something you might have to commit a whole paragraph to it instead of clicking on a little icon of a thumb pointing upward.

Well, this lost art isn’t lost on David Solomon as he seems to have a number of pen pals with whom he corresponds. His letters make up much of the fifth issue of Travel On along with a few vignettes and literary tidbits. David works for National Park Service in a job that has him traveling to various woodsy, secluded and mountainous areas of the country that few civilians will ever see. It sounds idyllic yet pretty difficult as well, but it also seems to allow for plenty of time for self reflection and the creation of zines like this one.  Buy Travel On #5 at David’s Esty Store!Chris Auman

April 27, 2014
ZINE REVIEW: Alive With Vigor

ALIVE WITH VIGOR

Surviving Your Adventurous Lifestyle

Compiled by Rob Sutter III [Microcosm]

Alive with Vigor is like a compilation of advice columns that dispense nuggets of wisdom on a range of topics from medical issues to dating and personal finance. That’s pretty much half the internet right there, but the internet won’t give you all this valuable information in the form of a really cool looking zine, will it? No, it won’t.

Although the purpose of this book is to help people survive an “adventurous lifestyle,” there isn’t a whole lot in here that isn’t universal: constipation, diarrhea, autoimmune disorders, breast cancer and abusive relationships can effect anyone regardless of their lifestyle, but the intended audience are those people that are, perhaps, on the fringe of society: the punkers, the transgendered, the outcasts (both willing and unwilling), the renegades, the rebels, etc. This book is for them.

Contributors to Alive with Vigor include Joe Biel, Buck Angel, Ayun Halliday and Rob Sutter III (who put this guide together) and a host of other folks who are into the DIY spirit and living an alternative lifestyleChris Auman

March 19, 2014
HISTORY OF MUSIC #12: Men at Work Pt. 2 - Cargo

The following review appeared in a slightly different form as a cassette review at Reglar Wiglar Magazine.

MEN AT WORK

Cargo

(CBS) 1983

Business as Usual was a monster hit for these Aussie lads at the beginning of the 1980s. They won a Grammy in 1982 for “Best New Artist” (aka The Kiss of Death) and it was all down hill from there. There was Cargo though. I was a Men at Work fan in ‘82 and ‘83. After Queen, they were probably my favorite band in junior high school. “Down Under” was a favorite among my Dungeons & Dragons playing friends. How that song ties into role playing games, I couldn’t tell you, but it did. The “Down Under” single, backed with “Crazy”, was one of the first forty-fives I ever bought.  In my 7th grade homeroom class (taught by Mrs. Popp, no lie), we got to bring in records every Friday to play for the class. We only got one side. I brought in “Down Under” but spun the b-side instead. You could hear “Down Under” on the radio 24 times a day, but I wanted to turn some heads onto the other sounds of Men at Work—a hipster DJ in the making!

Cargo saw four singles released. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is a decent enough tune. It’s not on par with any of the hits of its Business predecessor, but it was good enough to warrant release as a single. “Overkill,” “It’s a Mistake” and “High Wire” were the other three. Again, not the same caliber of stuff that made Business resonate with the public or made the cash registers ring, but the best of a batch of mediocre stuff nevertheless. The rest of Cargo is pretty forgettable and signaled the end of the Men’s career as hit makers.

Cargo would be followed by Two Hearts in ‘85. That album was met with the critical and commercial disappointment it almost surely deserved.

Discography:

Business As Usual(CBS) 1982

Cargo(CBS) 1983 

Two Hearts (Sony) 1985

It’s a Mistake (Kiosk) 1997

Brazil (Columbia) 1998

Buy: 

February 28, 2014
Jesse Reklaw’s Graphic Memoir Couch Tag

COUCH TAG by Jesse Reklaw [Fantagraphics] Couch Tag is a new graphic memoir from the artist Jesse Reklaw, his first. While this may be Jesse’s debut in this format, this is hardly his first contribution to the world of comics. Jesse has been drawing and self-publishing comics for several decades. His strip, Slow Wave, in […]

February 23, 2014
HISTORY OF MUSIC #10: The Ramones - Too Tough to Die

THE RAMONES

Too Tough to Die

(Sire) 1984

Not the greatest Ramones record ever ever, but really, have they ever made a bad one? With the Ramones you have to embrace their faults, idiosyncracies, and quirks and love them wart hogs and all. Considering the personalities and disorders at play in the band, any release seems like a miracle in hindsight. Plus, we got Tommy Ramone back in his spot at the controls, so there’s that. While most of the tunes on Too Tough to Die won’t have you jumping to your feet, shaking your fist in a beat-on-the-brat kinda way, it does have its moments. Like “Wart Hog,” for example—a Dee Dee punk rock gem with a very infectious chorus. This was Dee Dee’s answer to the hardcore of the day, but he just couldn’t help making it a catchy tune. “Endless Vacation” is another Dee Dee attempt to play hardcore which succeeds in the brainless and tunelessness a lot of hardcore aspired to in the mid 80s. In fact, Too Tough to Die is a mostly Dee Dee affair with the bass player contributing nine out of thirteen tracks. Non Dee Dee songs like “Chasing the Night,” and “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)” are classic 60s ala Ramones pop songs. There are some throwaways sure, like “Planet Earth 1988” (still four years away at this point), and “Danger Zone,” a forgettable if not forgivable bland rock attempt. All in all, Too Tough to Die is a return to form and remains a solid brick in the house that the Ramones built.

BUY:

 

February 22, 2014
HISTORY OF MUSIC #9: THE POLICE - SYNCHRONICITY

THE POLICE
The fifth studio album from The Police was a monster seller in all formats. Synchronicity, (pretentiously titled after a book which name-checks a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung) turned these three blonds from super stars into super duper stars. The synchronicity concept—whereby two seemingly unrelated events occur simultaneously for some purpose—seemed to be a theme connecting the songs on this album. I guess. Maybe not. Ask Sting. The only evidence of this theory seems to be the two pretentiously-titled tracks “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II”. In keeping with the theme as well, I suppose, are the two seemingly unrelated events of Copeland’s “Miss Gradenko” and Summer’s almost-unlistenable “Mother,” both lumped together on side A along with songs about dinosaurs, God and biscuit-taking and the aforementioned Synchronicitys. The B side delivers the goods though giving us no less than three hit songs as well as a song about desert tea drinking.

Synchronicity
would become The Police’s biggest selling album and their last. What do you expect? These guys were on a nonstop, whirlwind touring and recording schedule and the end was bound to come sooner or later. Allegedly, Copeland and Sting came to blows during the recording. Copeland obviously didn’t punch Sting hard enough because he was able to carry on and release such pretentiously-titled future albums like The Dream of the Blue Turtles becoming a world music and tantric dork.
A lot of critics (aka nerds) like to get bunched undies when bands featuring mostly white people incorporate different styles of the music of nonwhite people into their own. This of course, ignores the fact that very little music played on this planet in the 80s or today was created in a vacuum and the origin of rock music, should they take the time to remember, was a multicultural hodgepodge of country and blues. While this fact should make them want to give up writing and actually try to enjoy music like most humans, nothing will deter them from trying to kill everyone’s buzz one band at a time. (Vampire Weekend is a recent example of how this pointless argument resurfaces every few years.) They must have been relieved then when Sting opted to forgo the reggae and island rhythms of records past in favor of the more experimental approach of throwing horns at everything.

The question is whether Synchronicity deserves a place on such a high pedestal. Maybe yes, but mainly for the cultural impact it had on us back then. I will say, I was down with the Synchro in 7th grade like I was down with Thriller and Business as Usual. I rolled with the trends back then. Listening to this record many decades later, however, and after becoming a fan of earlier Police records like the pretentiously-titled Outlandos d’Amour and Reggatta de Blanc, this record is certainly not as exciting as those first efforts. Sure, it delivered the hits in spades, but it’s a dark record and kind of a bummer to listen to and nobody wants to spend that much time in Sting’s head anyway. Not even Sting.

BUY:



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