There is no beginning, there is no end, the counterculture goes on forever…

The London Zine Symposium 2009 took place at The Rag Factory (16-18 Heneage Street, London  E1 5LJ)  yesterday, Sunday 3 May. As an event, it occupies the ground between Publish & Be Damned (with its self-published art focus) and the Anarchist Book Fair (for those committed to full-on and weekend variety anarchist life-styles). There were a lot of familiar faces on the stalls at the Zine Symposium ranging from Mark Pawson (who can also be seen at Publish & Be Damned) to Active Distribution (who favour the Anarchist Book Fair). I was at the top of Brick Lane at lunch time before making my way to the Zine Symposium, and the Whitechapel Anarchist Group (all two of them) were out in force selling their publication WAG in front of the Beigel Bake. Later they were manning a stall down the road at the Zine Symposium. The anarchists somehow managed to constitute themselves as a separate fraction within this event, although the art elements appeared to dominate in terms of the stalls, reflecting the fact that Published & Be Damned is currently the biggest annual bring-and-buy self-publishing event in London.
There were a bunch of readings, workshops and debates, but I only attended Alternative Visions: comics, zines and politics since the 1970s at 2.30pm. The event was dominated by Roger Sabin, a reader in popular culture at Central Saint Martins College of Art. He was assisted by Teal Triggs, Professor of Graphic Design at the London College of Communication. After their own presentations, Sabin and Triggs put a few questions to Isy from Morgenmuffel and Edd from Hey Monkey Riot/Last Hours zines. I had difficulties with the way Sabin treated the hippie and punk subcultures as ultimately distinct, since I feel they are more closely entwined than he assumed, and I also find he takes the rhetoric of those involved with such scenes rather too seriously. However, my main problem with Sabin’s presentation was that he didn’t really deal with the economic and technological factors that have driven change in zine and comic production over the past forty years. However, his ideological idealism didn’t really surprise me given that I’ve never found Sabin’s academic work on subculture very satisfactory, as my ten year old review of his book Punk Rock, So What? indicates (see text in right column of link for this).
As the afternoon wore on, more and more people I knew – starting with Malcolm Hopkins and concluding with Richard Essex – drifted off to The Pride Of Spitalfields. I looked into the pub, but then decided to try to catch the William Blanchard AKA Wildcat Will show Assemblage at the Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery in Redchurch Street. That exhibition space turned out to be closed and locked up; but as I headed up to it, I did see Jimmy Cauty making his way towards his car, and Martin Sexton standing outside his Artwars Project Space on the other side of the street from the Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery.
Martin told me Jimmy had just been in to see his joint show with Dominique Lacloche, Beneath The Pavement… The Beach, which was coming down that very night. This joint effort between Sexton and Paris based Lacloche is certainly one of the crazier art manifestations I’ve seen on Redchurch Street in recent years, featuring as it did giant leaves on which photographs have been developed, a levitation machine and a mask of Socrates made out of a 4.5 billion year old meteorite. It made sense to me that a former member of the KLF would have been visiting it. I haven’t seen Jimmy for a couple years, and the weekend just gone was an interesting one for passing people without speaking to them; this started late on Friday afternoon when I’d walked past Liam Gillick on the stairs at Book Works, as he’d been making his way up to the editorial floor of the building, and I’d been leaving. There were a few people I’d avoided speaking to at the Zine Symposium as well, but they shall remain nameless.
Martin Sexton talked me through a few of his innumerable upcoming plans. One that I suspect will remain unrealised is for a psychogeographers super-group featuring Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, Tom Vague and me, to play a one off concert at his Artwars Project Space. The next show opening at Sexton’s space is Psycho Pomp, which runs from 8 to 31 May 2009. After leaving Sexton, my next move was a meet with Tom McCarthy, Eva Stenram and visiting US writer Jesse Ball; the conversation ping-ponged between Iceland, Finland and teaching creative writing. Later in the evening I opened an email from Richard Thomas apologising for the short notice but saying that the Gloria radio show I’d recorded for Resonance FM would be broadcast tonight (Monday 4 May) from 9.00 to 10.00pm, and repeated on Sunday 10 May, 7.30 to 8.30pm. Finally, I caught the likes of John Williams and Kodwo Eshun talking on Sukhdev Sandhu’s curious but ultimately unsatisfactory BBC Radio 3 Sunday feature The Life & Times of Michael X, before deciding that was enough counterculture for one day, and settling down with an old school kung fu movie.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Jimmy Cauty on 2009-05-04 10:04:14 +0000

That wasn’t me, that was my clone!

Comment by Bill Drummond on 2009-05-04 12:26:56 +0000

Don’t believe the hype! Or the clone above, that was Jimmy in the street but not in these comments. The clone is lying. Ask Michael K, coz K knows!

Comment by THE BUILDING on 2009-05-04 12:39:27 +0000

Don’t ask K, ask The Shadow, The Shadow knows…..

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-04 13:02:12 +0000

But Michael K is The Shadow, and what I know is that he’s a REAL MAN and that it takes all the jaw action I got to satisfy him!

Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-04 13:28:52 +0000

We are all clones, millions of clones – and those that ain’t is definitely clowns! The Shadow knows!

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-05-04 14:55:09 +0000

Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-04 16:08:49 +0000

Hey Trippy blogged that recently, and given that films are generally worse than their trailers, I’m definitely giving The Dummy a miss. Where are the clones? Bring on the clones? Clones of Bruce Lee that is!

Comment by clonelet on 2009-05-04 18:36:59 +0000

Trippy, who is sexier – Sexton or Eva?

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-05-04 20:59:07 +0000

Avoiding people is a gas, particularly if you owe them money – and the same goes for the telephone. Remember kiddies: answering a call from a blocked number is tantamount to answering the door for someone wearing a Richard Nixon mask…

Comment by the naughty clonelet on 2009-05-04 22:06:08 +0000

Trippy, forget Sexton or Eva, what about Will Self or Liam Gillick?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-04 22:58:03 +0000

No one is objectively sexier, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and out of these four I’d go for Eva… but that’s just me, someone else might choose differently!

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2009-05-05 01:33:42 +0000

What Michael, you mean….you didn’t like the natural sounding dialogue around the 38/39 second mark, (“heeeeeeeyyyyyy….!!!! “) Hmmmmm, then there’s the battle to the death with that evil dummy at the 1.46 mark…..
A movie about a wooden dummy that strangles people then gets killed by a spear….

Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-05 08:10:39 +0000

Oh those bits were great, it was seconds 1 to 37 and 40 to 145 etc. that I didn’t like. And besides once you’ve had sex with a dummy like Tessie, you’ll never be interested in boy dummies again.

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-05-05 09:02:44 +0000

Oh K says I’m the only dummy that interests him, but don’t believe a word of it, why only last night I caught him with Mister Dog making the beast with two backs!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-05 13:27:54 +0000

What about the interesting and well researched Mr. Trippy’s post?
Don’t you value his hard work in maintaining this blog, even while he has hundreds of things to do?
can’t you grow up?
You are not teenage punksters any more!
If you continue this way you will reinforce serious culture!
This is not your collective playground for dummies!
This is Mr. Trippy’s blog!
He’s talking about zines! ZINES!
When was the last time you produce a zine, uh?
Have you all became cynicists?
or zinecists?
Do you think BLAST was made in this disaffected spirit of yours?
Don’t worry. This is just some fake flarf.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-05 13:44:28 +0000

Take a look in the nasty shithole I have to live my sorry life:
(The “situationist graffitti” was made by me over the mural-made for my group-after an attack by “anarchists” over it. It is the famous Vaneigem quote about love, refusal and corpses in the mouth. It worked.)

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-05 16:26:53 +0000

Wow and Clemente Padin mentioned in the piece too… Hopefully I’ll go to Chile someday, and see if it is more or less of a shithole than London; but for now someone I know has a copy of 2666 which I can read once they are finished. Looks a bit long to me, but I’ll see what I make of Bolano once I’ve read that, but my impression is perhaps still too literary for me – but I’ll see when I’ve read the book.

Comment by This Is Not Florian Cramer on 2009-05-05 16:44:22 +0000

Enough of that old stuff, we want to hear about the New Neoism.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-05 23:12:35 +0000

I don’t think Bolaño is the big deal, is just something you seem forced to know, like Bukowski or Schopenhauer. He has his moments, but I knew some inmate in the USA was punished for asking for some of his books to read.
Chilean cities and towns are definitively nasty, but I have seen europeans coming from the most refined and lovely places adoring it. Is some kind of tourism thing, I suppose.
But S.H. here would be just great, and the British Council can help, too.
New Neoism is a beautifully fragmented combination of dialogue and description, desperate for organization and meaning, a metafictional hall of mirrors not powered by TypePad.
New Neoism is a vampire that attack London gallery goers to protect a group of hippies, a excuse for not knowing, is a certain experience of the impossible….
New Neoism is reading A Tale of Two Cities in your sophomore year at the ripe age of 15. New Neoism grows up among the ruins of the notion of authorship, experimenting with collective protocols of production, détournements, and various forms of knowing to index, map, catalogue things and make lists especially when there is some element of absurdity or irrationality involved in the metacontent.
New Neoism is the ultimate proof that any attempt to combat alienation only leads to alienation.

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-06 05:07:21 +0000

I’ve only read Bolaño’s Savage Detectives. The short answer is I enjoyed it and it is certainly “literary”, although there are several issues I have with the work. The long answer would have to wait for the pub … 2666 is on my to read list, though. I guess for you Ricardo, Bolaño would be old news. He’s still “new” here in Canada. While some of his earlier books have been in print here for a couple of years, he really didn’t hit our radar until Savage Detectives and of course with all the press around 2666.

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-05-06 10:41:26 +0000

I’ve been to Chile. A lot of fried chicken outlets, some nice seafood. People were coldish and their Spanish is impossible to understand. Mind you, I was there during Pinochet’s removal so perhaps things were a bit strained.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-06 10:45:53 +0000

Maybe Richardo could clarify that…. the nearest I’ve been is Rio in Brazil or San Diego in California – and man, the burritos were good in southern California!

Comment by Michael Kay on 2009-05-06 12:42:57 +0000

For ‘counter culture’ read ‘over-the-counter culture’; for ‘anti-novel’ read ‘autobiography’; for ‘hard work’ read ‘mimetic domination’; for ‘fried chicken’ read ‘fried chicken’

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-06 13:18:01 +0000

Yes, Michael. I don’t even know why we started to talk about him in the first place. Is a writer whom I respect, not just because his oeuvre, but because his life too. His work is deep and broad (and humorous) enough as to dedicate one entire life or university department to him, surely. I recommend his reading, even if the translations, that are not bad at all, have the classic problem translations carry. There is a group in Google groups, Bolano-l.
Here in Chile, Philip Roth, and William Gaddis are still “new” and they for ever will be, so go figure about “newess”. I don’t care about that. I still consider Marcel Schwob and Gertrude Stein new.
What is great, though, is that something not-anglo hit the anglo world from time to time. I have to say that if you don’t get to know Cesar Aira, Roberto Arlt and Rodolfo Fogwill from Argentina, you missed something (and i’m thinking of people who fancy Stewart Home a lot).
Mismarmite: your brief analisis is correct. We are cold. That’s why they call us “the british of southamerica”. Seafood used to be abundant at that time, a pity you ate mostly chicken.
If you are into food, our vegetables and fruits are great, even if the New World Order is making them more expensive every week…When in England, I lost weight as if Marooned by Drake, so, yeah, you can eat well enough, and now that Mexico is out of the game for a while…But even here we have alienated types, mostly students and white collar workers and yuppies that haven’t eat a good cazuela for years, just fuckin McDonalds, K.F.C. and Pizza Hut, but those are the product of the cultural policies of Pinochet plus Concertación and TV and yankee propaganda and plain snobbery.
I tried to read fried chicken but got a transgenic error message…

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-06 13:20:25 +0000

And, madame, sorry but your english is imposible to understand too…

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-05-06 16:12:49 +0000

I went to a Chilean bakery and asked for ‘dos pan’. The woman got out a large bag and started to fill it with rolls. I realised she thought I meant ‘doce pan’, 12 bread rolls.
Chileans drop the end off all their words. They don’t get the bus they get the bu.

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-05-06 16:13:29 +0000

And I don’t eat chicken. I’m a vegequarian.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-06 18:31:27 +0000

Sorry, miss marmite. I don’t get how that stupid chilean bakery employee didn’t understand you excellent spanish. But I dis know a chilean person that pronounced the end of words once.
Vegetarians are great! I remember one called Adolf.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-06 18:38:34 +0000

…Or maybe the ignorant and stupid woman (not that you said that, of course) didn’t understand how a person coming from the First World, whrere per capita income is known to be several time bigger than us, just wanted TWO pan. We stupid piggy devourers tend to think that teh average person eants at least a kilo. But I have seen europeans buying one apple, one banana, even if a kilo costs about 0.05 of what you pay for one fruit in your local organic shop.
We just don’t understand the mean of the word frugality.
And if I want to hear a really perfect english, first thing I do is to go to a pub in Shoreditch.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-06 18:50:56 +0000

Sorry! vegequarian…it seems that you people just don’t know what else to invent.

Comment by Kentucky Fried History on 2009-05-07 12:33:15 +0000

Hey Rick…Have you been down to Pollo Campero recently? They’ve got a great deal on a Spanish Omelette but you won’t find it on the notice board when you come in. Mention my name and you’ll be initiated into the Cult of K, at which time you may be asked to sign a document verifying that your blog has been plagiarised properly. Hay Caramba!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-07 23:03:31 +0000

Yeah, Kentucky, I have. it was delicious indded, the only problem is that the 30 gms of Omelette I got for my money left me wanting a lot more, but with no money to buy it.
Could I got some more for free if I mention your name?
That would be just great!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-05-08 02:43:49 +0000

Ricardo, just mention K.’s name in any store and you’ll get stuff for free. I do it all the time – it’s a regular groove sensation!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-08 04:06:10 +0000

Right now, I’m an starving artist, and it is no joke.
Tomorrow I will try to mention K at EL POLLO CABALLO, EL POLLO DEL OCHO, LA PICÁ DE DON PEDRO, LOS TRES AMIGOS and other dens and will see if it is for real.
Thanks for the confidence.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-08 04:18:52 +0000

If I only could get a delicious steak, potato, tomato or omelette for every word I have plagiarised…aaahhhh!!!!
THAT would be groove!

Comment by Whitechapel Anarchist group on 2009-05-16 18:01:00 +0000

In reference to the Whitechapel Anarchist group. On that day there were three persons on brick lane and two different members in the Zine symposium, our group has many members allowing use to work a system of rotation so every Sunday is not spent distributing our paper by every member.
If you had stopped to talk to the persons on the lane or at our stall inside the rag factory you would have seen that our paper is free, for more information pick up our paper from Freedom bookshop on Angel Ally or take a copy next time you see us on Brick Lane.
In unity

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-16 22:37:19 +0000

With regard to the selling I was plainly wrong if the publication is free, therefore I’m pleased you’ve corrected my error. As regards the number of people in Brick Lane, there were definitely only two when i went past – if there was a third they may have gone to get bagels or take a leak or do something else. But there were definitely only two and not three people for me to observe when I went past. The people I saw in Brick Lane looked to me like the people I later saw on the stall, if you rotated people this may well be the case; however, I was not observing closely and it is quite possible I was wrong about this too. As I say, thanks for pointing out the error(s), I like to report things correctly and if I’m wrong it is useful to know it.

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