Thursday, January 27, 2011

Call and Response

A parcel arrived from Japan a few days ago, sent by the zine maestro, Gianni Simone, containing some of his exceptional zines, one of them being Call and Response. The zines were accompanied by a gracious letter written in Gianni’s distinctive handwriting (which resembles Japanese ideographic characters to my eyes). Veteran zinesters never fail to amaze me with their proficient use of stationery, printed media, and innovative ideas when it comes to beautifying snail mail. The most ingenious I get is sticking cheap Betty Boop stickers randomly onto drab manila envelopes for my zine mail out. I’m not exactly letting my freak flag fly in the mail art department, but I’m working on it.

Issue four of Call and Response is a (mostly) black and white photocopied collaborative zine. The theme is Windows (as in the peep holes in buildings not the computer operating system). The stories vary in quality and are written by a clutch of zinesters in various stages of their self publishing journey. They attack the theme from different and fascinating angles; no two stories are alike.

Swedish contributor Mikael X Eriksson records some fine insights in his Libraries and Churches Saved My Life piece. He says:

‘there are two places where you can always sit in peace without having to spend any money: libraries and churches.'

It got me thinking about the astrological significance of what he said.

In the birth chart, libraries and churches are institutions traditionally ruled by the twelfth house of what is hidden from the mundane world. The institutions represented by this sector of the chart are not established for profiteering; they are organisations set up to shelter and protect the vulnerable (hostels and halfway houses); heal the sick (hospitals); reform the misfit (prison); educate the curious (universities and libraries); and provide solace to the seeker (churches). Eriksson states that he had a drinking problem and then lived rough. Libraries and churches played a significant part in his survival during this phase. The twelfth house demands that you confront your demons and take responsibility for your recovery within the parameters of these institutions. I think that Eriksson’s piece represents the twelfth house anecdote completely.

He ends his story experiencing true twelfth house divine home sickness:

'I’ve had many addresses in many cities. Never a place to call my home. I’ve come to understand that when I miss home, I miss a place inside myself. A place I’ve never lived in. A place I constantly long for and will probably never find.’

Eriksson, my man, I hope you find want what you’re looking for.

Call and Response also contains other gems written by Gianni himself, Andrew Culture, K Frank Jensen, and a couple of Australian journalists/zinesters, Dann Lennard and Helen Vnuk, who write about the view of Harris Park, a suburb in western Sydney,  from their window. The stories are multi-layered, mature, and thoroughly engaging.

To discover more about zine extraordinaire Gianni Simone and his various self publishing projects, check out his blogs Gloomy Sundays at and A Man Called Horse at They are also good insights into Japan’s zine culture.

1 comment:

  1. Maria, my man, thank you for your kind words. My "distinctive handwriting" doesn't look like Chinese characters; it's just plain bad handwriting. Please note that the paper I used as stationary is a recycled copy-art work by mail artist extraordinaire PJM (POB 2632, Bellingham, WA 98227-2632, USA) whose zine NODE PAJOMO is chockful of m.a. and DIY-related ads in the tradition of Global Mail.