Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Zeen Review Extravaganza!

The 2nd Hand.

ONE HAS TO like this little newsletter at first glance, done on slick paper, despite some obvious McSweeneyisms in cute remarks and designs.

The Fall 2004 issue contains two stories. In "Rulebook for the Enjoyment of a Productive Day" by Jonathan Messinger, the narrator is not of this world. He's in it, but detached; floating on a solipsistic bubble; unable or at least unwilling to cope in an insane society. Who can blame him?

"Love Letters for Sale" by Marc Baez isn't a story, but a demonstration of writing ability.

"I can take care of your needs. If you're sad, I'll leave you to yourself. If you need to wake up, I'll slap your face. And if you're hungry, Pure Infant Soup is a smart, delicious way to start a meal. It takes the edge off your appetite and helps you feel full. To make this soup, first capture a pure Swiss infant." A writer who's read too much Eggers or David Foster Wallace. (In that sense, it's very second-hand.) While it may receive an "A" as a paper in class, it was unsatisfying to this reader.

We'll give The 2nd Hand a "B."

Free. Todd Dills, Editor. 2543 W. Walton #3, Chicago IL 60622.

Last Laugh/Quiet Days in Saint-Denis, #3.

Wild Bill Blackolive doesn't write second-hand prose and isn't trying to impress anybody. He's a natural writer giving the reader his life with unfiltered honesty. One has to immerse oneself into the writing, the bewildering tales of a bewildered narrator, to appreciate it. Blackolive gives the reader the world filtered through an unprejudiced un-"trained" mind full of amazement at that world and his role in it, written in self-mockery. One can see McSweeneyites reading it in bewilderment, so far is the style outside their experience. "However, as the old acid head carries on, the remarkable scene broadens. 1800's gunfighter gone cosmic."

For one who truly wants something truly different Bill is a rare literary find. An underground treasure.

Combined with natural writing from Lisa Falour, another underground rarity. $20/ 4 issues. Cash, or check pay to "Lisa Falour," send to Bill Blackolive, 1776 North McCampbell, Aransas Pass TX 78336.

The History of Candles, a poetry chapbook by Joseph Verrilli.

Natural writing continues! This from the ULA's first poet, who was supposed to read at our 2001 Amato Opera House show but couldn't, because he had no transportation and no decent clothes.

From "Banshee Love":

"latticework of bloodshot orbs
an anesthetic to the innocently deranged
mascara'd visages appearing surreal
like unwanted images from nightmares
when the daylight brings a close-up"

Verrilli sometimes goes off the deep end with parades of strong images. Anyway, it's not Updike.

$5, sold through an interesting underground outfit, Propaganda Press, PO Box 304, Mason MI 48854, cash or check pay to "Leah Angstrom."

Thought Bombs #23

Finally, the most radical of all anarchist zeens, produced by Chicago activist Anthony Rayson. Feel alienated? Order this for polemical rants, news about America's enormous and forgotten prison population (more than half in for drug crimes), news about our society's ongoing war against the underclass (but wait, there are no classes or castes in this country!), a short history of Haymarket, and Anthony's ongoing fight against a corrupt boondoggle urban sprawl project. It's not literature-- but then, maybe it is, the most real kind. News you won't find on your television screen; perspectives only zeens can provide.

$2 to Anthony Rayson, South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, PO Box 721, Homewood IL 60430.

(We eventually hope to have a Review Blog up at the ULA's fan site.)


open your mind. said...

i know this post is old, and maybe no one reads it, but joseph verrilli's book is still available from propaganda press, although our address has changed. mail to: alternating current, po box 398058, cambridge ma 02139 usa. make checks, money orders out to "alternating current." or purchase online at

-leah angstman

open your mind. said...

And it's changed again: Alternating Current, PO Box 183, Palo Alto CA 94302 USA. Make checks/money orders out to Angstman Arts. Thanks!

open your mind. said...

Hello! I'm updating this old post once more. "The History of Candles" by Joseph Verrilli is still available at, or checks made out to "Angstman Arts" and mailed to our new address at Alternating Current, PO Box 270921, Louisville, CO 80027. (And my name is spelled Leah Angstman, not Angstrom, if you do make checks out to me! Thanks!)