logo

Archive for October, 2008

SHELFLIFE #15B: MY RULES

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Glen’s another example of doing it right. I’m not sure he could avail himself of the convenience of tarnishing his integrity if he actively sat there at his stainless steel desk and tried. This zine didn’t really start it all for him, but in a way, it started him for him. Specifically, it marked the start of his independence from the corporate publishing world–something he’s maintained right up to the KYEO fugazi book he just published. It’s a practice he’ll likely never stray from.

The guy was a professional photographer by age 12. What exactly does that mean? It means he knew that the things he loved watching were worth documenting. It means that he had the drive to pick up a camera and document those things. It means he’d put up with being the grom–getting beat up, ripped off, scammed and laughed at because he was a child with a child’s instinct that what he loved was, in some way, pure–elemental–the atoms that would smash together and outgas the culture we all accept as ubiquitous today. He was getting published in Skateboarder magazine regularly. He was shooting his friends–not just doing what they were known for, but enjoying themselves away from those anchors.

Album covers, publicity shots, magazine spreads–punk, hardcore, rap, skateboarding–it was all the same. It was all energy as far as his affinity to it went. Initially, though, he didn’t edit it that way. I’m not sure Glen felt comfortable telling people, “it’s all the same thing. get used to it”.

At the start, he delivered the goods piecemeal. MY RULES, is indicative of that. There’s an ad for Thrasher in it, but there’s none of Glen’s iconic skate photography in the zine. He kept that in the skate mags back then. There’s no rap in it, but it was ’82 when he released it, so he wasn’t really shooting enough rap yet to have it make much contextual sense. So, in the canon of Glen Friedman, MY RULES, has, until relatively recently, stood alone as a crystalline composite of singular focus–music–or, more precisely–the aggressive music that Ronald Reagan’s America helped inspire. In the past few years he’s bookended My Rules with the DogTown book, the Jay Adams book, Recognize and KYEO which have all been content specific–but in the decades connecting My Rules to KYEO, he took the liberty of allowing the diversity of the images he composed to be the message.

While we were designing one of his other books, he gave me a few copies of My Rules and made me promise to keep them safe. They’re under lock and key and that’s where they’ll stay.

my rules cover

SHELFLIFE #14B: TRASH TANKAS FOR LADY STARDUST

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Thurston and Byron have always been models of “doing it right”. Take this zine. They wrote this ridiculous, yet visionary, thing–a David Bowie discography in the form of a set of 27 tankas. The guys cranked out 100 of ’em on a home office printer, stapled them, numbered them, boxed them up and took them down to Galapagos (when it was still down on N.6 St in Williamsburg) from Massachusetts on a particularly snowy night in 2002 for a reading. As far as I remember, they sold them cheap–for gas money, I reckon. They wrote a fucking book expressly for a single poetry reading–and you know what? It wasn’t the first time and it wasn’t the last.

Why? Why the hell would someone do such a thing? Because those motherfuckers write tankas and like glam. Why the fuck not?

When people have not just multiple passions, but also unique personalities–they have a responsibility to concoct mediums thru which to share their knowledge and perspective with others in interesting ways. That’s what creativity is. It’s what art is–making impractical things that have no business existing and no viable market, then loading your bladder with them and pissing wildly from the tallest barn, bridge, rock or tree into a gale wind and seeing what happens. People tend not to know how much they enjoy an accidental golden shower until they catch a couple of drops on their tongues. Next thing you know, 100 people are flipping Webster’s open to T to figure out what exactly a tanka is and then browsing thru the Bowie discography to see just how much sense this truly makes:

HUNKY DORY
(RCA 1972)

limp wrist hoot rock gas
naive enough to make lou
spit out a mouthful
on john giorno’s old black pants
very same place andy did

trash tankas for lady stardust