No Friends #1 Review

IMG_1448Your Humble Reviewer’s Reading in Bed Selfie

I finally picked up a copy of No Friends Maga(zine), which was previously mentioned in this Show Horoscope. I am not disappointed. The fledgling fanzine, a homegrown punk-house-brewed DIY project of editors Jim Zajackowski and Ray Martinez, focuses on underground music, art, film, comedy, politics, and their surrounding communities and cultures.

Editorial pieces on the direction of the zine wave the freak flag high and fling the doors to admission wide open. The full-sized magazine pages of black and white photos and text promise a home for everything you can possibly think of as punk, whether it’s based on the stalwart lifeblood of leather and hardcore or the more slippery concepts of boundary-pushing and concept-questioning.

Sewn into the binding of each copy is a translucent plastic collectible flexidisc. While you can buy No Friends online in both physical and digital copies, there are no digital releases anywhere of the four songs on each of the No Friends flexis. If you wanna hear these songs, you gotta pick up a real copy. In that spirit, I don’t wanna say two much about the Lumpy and the Dumpers and Ausmuteants split other than it’s a hardcore ripper and I really liked the Lumpy side especially.

The music reviews (which occupy a long section in the publications’s caboose, a nod to it’s acknowledged predecessor MMR) won’t demand physical copies of releases, in deference to the way bands actually release music in this year of Our Lady Sante Muerte 2015. The genre restrictions are rubbery, stretching to accommodate dream pop & gothy synth bummer tunes and even (stage whisper) garage.

Martin Sorrondeguy sat down for a long conversation on his photography, his career with Los Crudos and Limpwrist, and the importance of sex in a relationship. I was at the Fed Up Fest Limpwrist performance discussed in the article, and it’s always interesting to see another perspective on what’s become a polarizing gathering within Chicago’s punk scene.

While I was most excited to read the interview with Sorrondeguy, I was most curious about an interview with Seth Äaberg, the purveyor of Pork Magazine and capitalist force behind a million chintzy kitschy lipstick knives and Pork Army back patches. His wartsy, Ratfink-ripoff aesthetic has drawn fire for the prolific use of Nazi imagery and racist cultural appropriation. I was surprised to see that Pork was going to be featured in No Friends, and relieved when I saw the controversy addressed within the first sentence of the article.

Äaberg’s well-worn sleazemerchant spiel and rail against the peril of commie pantywaists won’t surprise anyone who’s flipped through a Pork; what’s more surprising to me it that somebody finally asked the question. For all of Äaberg’s malign of social justice advocates as sniveling keyboard warriors, there somebody was, talking to him face to face, and publishing the results. That’s pretty fucking cool, and way more fucking punk than paying the Hot Topic of Garage Punk for the honor of putting some Nazi symbology on your jean vest.

Ray and Jim are trying to make a place for all sorts of music, politics, opinions, and subcultural rumblings to be hashed out and full explored, without conveniently ignoring uncomfortable histories or rushing to celebrate or condemn anyone. They can’t do it without your support. Whether you wanna write for them (their submission box is open), buy their zine (check out your local indie record shop), or get a collector’s subscription (limited spots available!) make you sure take part in some way. There’s a seat for you at the table.

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