In the way that anything has at least its category in common with its opposite (red is the opposite of green, for example, but they're both colors), a magazine and a zine are opposites: Where magazines tend to be slick, polished and pandering (ours excepted, of course -- we never pander), a zine is rough, homey and lovingly constructed, geared as much or perhaps more toward its author than its audience. On the other hand, those characteristics are a byproduct of the ethic inherent in zines -- handmade, do-it-yourself -- and if Shaun (no last name), who appears at the Denver Zine Library tonight, is any indication, just because it's DIY doesn't mean it can't have some sparkle to it.
"In terms of publishing," he says, "the conventional way to do it is to come up with an idea and submit it to an agent or publisher and write a chapter and work with an editor and that whole process. In this case, I just wanted to have complete control over the book. So I learned how to do all that stuff myself."
The result of that is the shine-up, hardcover Drugs and Daydreams, a compilation and extension of three zines Shaun has written over the course of about ten years, all involving long-distance trips he took on a $2 thrift-store bicycle.
"It's kind of a progression," he says. "You know, the first one was all about camping out on the beach and shoplifting from corporate grocery stores." By the last one, he says, he was getting more reflective, and the book is kind of a re-casting of the subject matter of all three, using these long-distance trips as the central thread of a prolonged narrative that touches on themes of activism, community, travel and getting by on the other side of the structures that box most of society in.
"I come from the punk scene," he says, "and for a lot of punks, you just have to be really resourceful. Traveling by bike is an example of that. You're absolutely vulnerable, and you just kind of have to make it work."
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At his talk tonight, that's what Shaun will be focusing on: Taking that DIY energy and resourcefulness and applying it to focused causes. And Shaun himself -- who decided a couple of years ago that "I was determined to find a way to live without working, at least in a conventional sense -- is qualified to speak to the subject; besides his book and tour, he devotes his non-working free time to working with food co-opts in his home base in Reno, Nevada.
The talk starts tonight at 7 p.m. at the DZL -- it doesn't cost any money to get in, but bring your scrappy, go-get-'em spirit.