By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Graf for Girls
IN THE YEAR or so since locally based graffiti glossy Life Sucks Die began hitting magazine racks nationwide, homegrown graf zines have invaded Uptown shops like tags covering a white train car. "It's funny that they've just popped out of nowhere," remarks Life Sucks co-editor Pete Vuckovich (the contrarian who, in the latest issue, pisses on both Mos Def and Robyne Robinson while paying homage to KMD rapper MF Doom).
Take #2 of Damage Inc., which collects color copies of some nice graf photos. Or #6 of the mini-Xerox Step in to It, or Paradise, now on issue--hell, I can't make out what number that is. Still, the longest-running and most rewarding of the new graf zines by far is Plaid Rabbit, a booklet brimming with poetry meant to be read, "Rules to Live By," and disarming confessions of obvious newbies ("It is not easy to confuse me and hip hop," writes one). The zine reminds one of its letter writers "of being young and angry and happy" and reminds me of being a scattershot 18-year-old lefty--the kind that might Xerox rap-show tickets on the cover and Che photos and protest diaries inside.
Plaid Rabbit has the distinction of being one the few graf zines edited by a woman. "Most of the ones I've come across have been made by guys," says Meghan Mahar, a senior at St. Paul Central High. "So you get a biased perspective, I think. A lot of the magazines tend to have pornography in them, like Life Sucks Die."
Mahar started her zine four years ago, but didn't focus on hip hop until recently, when she became absorbed in the culture and found few champions for girls in its visual strains. Now she applies her sense of international feminism (she visited Nicaragua two years ago) to an aerosol medium still considered a boys' club at home. #25 explores "using graffiti as a political tool" in Bolivia, where women opposing the right-wing regime paint found-in-translation slogans such as "Disobedience: It's your fault I'm going to be happy" and "There's nothing more like a leftist macho than a rightist macho."
For more information, write Mahar at PO Box 16651, St. Paul, MN, 55116. All of the above publications are available at Fifth Element, 2411 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis.
Local Music: Required Texts
WHILE YOU'RE BROWSING the music section of your favorite bookstore this winter, take a minute to scan the three paragraphs reserved for the Twin Cities in The Vibe History of Hip Hop. Hey, it's three more than I expected--and there's even a mention of hallowed they-were-firsters the IRM Crew. More interesting, though, for archivists of Minnesota music minutiae, is the appearance of disparate local fixtures Sean Tillmann and Woody McBride in recent hilarious and informative subcultural tomes. The pop singer currently known as Sean Na Na gets to paste a few pages of band diaries from his Calvin Krime days into Rachael Almada's Anecdote: Stories from the Road (Bodach Press), with observations like: "All of the young girls in Pittsburgh
Meanwhile, local techno godfather (and City Pages' tenth-best-album-of-the-decade honoree) McBride appears at length in a definitive and breezily readable history of rave culture, Mireille Silcott's Rave America: New School Dancescapes (ECW Press). Call it the perfect trip for noninitiates seeking a couch-guided tour of, say, 1994's Furthur, an outdoor rave McBride helped orchestrate across the Wisconsin border. By night two, according to the firsthand account of one "Tommie Sunshine," his and everyone else's "clothes were completely caked in mud. Exhausted, no longer even able to remember what hunger felt like, he traipsed up and down the mudslide hills of springtime Hixton in complete darkness...searching for water, friends, a different tent to hang out in. 'It was fucking Lord of the Flies,' he recalls. 'I simply couldn't believe this whole thing was allowed, that a lightning bolt from God didn't crash down on the Furthur site.'"
Geez, what the hell was I doing that night?