Books are heavy and bad for the environment and too time-consuming in this topsy-turvy fast-paced world. They are evil, and...can you believe people actually say things like this? Lest you've gotten too wrapped up in the virtual world, here's a reminder that there are readable things out there that you can touch. They're called books and they have pages, which you have to turn if you'd like the story to continue...
NATO – THE MILITARY CODIFICATION SYSTEM FOR THE ORDERING OF EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD
Imagine running NATO. Sure, it would be fun for a while, but think about the hassle of having to order stationery, or amphibious assault vehicles, or organizing food for a starving nation. What a nightmare. And that is why you, just as NATO did, would devise an ingenious filing system that allots a four-digit code to everything in the world. Yes, everything. They actually did that. Then Suzanne Treister did an encyclopedic series of watercolor paintings of the items listed. There is a lot of clever stuff involved, like referencing western fine art traditions, specifically in terms of the use of watercolor as a scientific illustrative tool, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. I am still marveling at the fact that NATO has a code for “saddlery, harness, whips and related animal furnishings.”
BETTER OFF DEAD, ISSUE 2
This comes from the same stable as the great Raid Pace and Raspberry magazines. Following the excellent first issue, the collection of photographers and artists who lovingly cobble this together have once again made a zine that reminds me why people bother with publishing their own stuff at all. Stills from films, portraits, and landscapes are scattered among other peculiar images of tampons and dead bunnies. And, as usual with the stuff these guys put out, it looks amazing. I tried to work out if I could rip them off and do a zine like this with my own photos, but I am pretty sure it would look total shit and no one would care. So in conclusion I would say, get everything this lot make, and never get anything I make (if I make it).
THE URBAN TRAVELLER’S SKETCHBOOK
King Adz and Hush
“Over 180 pages of top-quality sketching paper for your own creations + some seriously original artwork by Hush.” For argument's sake, let’s pretend that I want to see Hush’s artwork (be it original or “seriously original”). Well, if I did, I would be sorely disappointed by this book. There are only about three pages of art in here sandwiching a ton of blank pages. This is a glorified sketchpad. For £10. With a cover that is really great if you want everyone to know that you are into graffiti yet abide by the rule of only practicing said graffiti in properly branded urban sketchbooks.
MAN OF ROCK – A BIOGRAPHY OF JOE KUBERT
There is a time, place, and mood where Adrian Tomine, the Hernandez brothers, and whoever else does thoughtful graphic fiction can happily come and entertain me. But then there are times when I just want to read about rugged GIs smashing the living shit out of tanks, throwing grenades hundreds of meters, and burning whinging Fritz and his white flag. And if that’s the mood I am in, then Joe Kubert is my guy. Kubert is the man behind Sgt. Rock, Hawkman, Tarzan, numerous tough-guy Vikings, warriors, cops, and ghouls and has his whole career laid out in this book.
OUR WORLD NOW VOL. 2
This is a lot like the first volume except of course totally different because it chronicles the whole of 2008, not 2007. One thing that strikes you immediately about this collection of work from Reuters's vast global network of snappers is that there’s a lot of violence, pain, war, and misery going on. Big shock. However, not everything that happens on this planet is cruel and/or evil--there are celebrities who laugh and politicians who dance, too.
OVERGROUND 3: TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS
Torkel Sjöstrand, Tobias Barenthin Lindblad, Björn Almqvist Dokument
I went straight to the London section at the back to read the chapter on TOX. I couldn’t really give a toss about some guy doing 400-foot 3D pieces in Europe, but as I have to look at TOX’s tags every day of my life I was pretty interested in reading up on him. I’m not sure if the writer went to a different London from the one I've been living in for the last 20 years, but the one he lives in sounds terrifying: The Man is spying on you via your Oyster Card, “crack use is widespread,” and all the kids have pistols and shoot bikes. Yup, that’s London. Anyway, while the Urban Traveller’s Sketchbook is total shit if you are actually interested in graffiti, this is mildly interesting. So get this one if you absolutely must get a book about graffiti that you read in a review on Viceland in May 2009.
THE PLEASURE AND SORROWS OF WORK
Alain De Boton
I am not going to sit here and lie to you. I have not read this. Nor will I ever read it. You want to know why? OK, here’s why: the twat inherits millions from his dad and then never touches any of it, he has a sparkling academic career, shits books out every couple of years like it ain't no thing, has a nice family and a pretty cool-looking house. He also has the power to distill the most complex far-reaching philosophies into sugar-coated child-friendly kibble made of enlightenment. I want to be Alain de Boton and for that I hate myself.
ON’T ROAD 11
I have this friend named Tom Lamb who used to have a postcard stuck on his fridge that would always make me giggle. It was a photo of a sign somewhere in the countryside that said: “Beware. Lamb’s On’t Road.” Since then, every time I’ve driven around Yorkshire I’ve kept my eyes peeled for a similar sign, but I’ve never found one. And then I turn up to work one day and this is staring at me. I don’t even know where it came from. There's little about lamb in it, but it is full of stuff about two of my other favorite things: punk rock music and traveling. If you like either of those things this comes highly recommended, even if only for the spot-on Wanky’s review.
Esther Pearl Watson
Hopefully you remember Esther Pearl Watson as the co-author of Watcha Mean, What’s A Zine?. If not, then all you need to know is that she is an artist, writer, and illustrator from Fort Worth who moved around a lot as a kid because her dad built giant UFO sculptures out of salvaged car parts, which pissed the neighbors off. Everything she does is bananas amazing. This comic is based around the diary of a girl called Tammy Pierce who was a high school student in 1988 and for some reason left her diary ina gas station bathroom. Esther found the diary and drew its contents. It's perfect. I wonder if Tammy and Esther have met since?
This little sheaf of stapled fun is bought to you by the debauched Squallyoaks gang. You may know them from running everyone’s favourite disco for girls who like other girls, Girlcore, or for bands like Chupucabara, or even just for living in a big squat in South London that is almost certainly a health and safety hazard to the whole surrounding area. This is a great read in places and limited to the fairly bizarre figure of 276 – which is charming.
When the first one came out I was blowing around all manner “best zine in the UK” claims, but guess what? This one might just be a notch up from the debut. Sure, it took them a while to get it together but how are you going to argue with a handmade hardbound cover, interviews with Pulling Teeth, the excellent (and overlooked) Mentally Challenged, and Mike Williams from Eyehategod, as well as a short story about pigeons, an introduction to savant metal, an essay on the image of the goat in black magic, a bit on Blood On Satan’s Claw and a heap of tastefully twisted illustrations? I’m not sure that you can. Go. Buy. Now.
Old Street Publishing
Remember? “Marilyn Manson did it!” Michael Moore! All that kind of stuff. Believe it or not, it has somehow been a whole ten years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into their high school, killed twelve of their fellow pupils, hurt twenty-three more and then turned the tools on themselves. If you really want to know every agonising detail of the personal trauma that led to the spree, then here it is in just under 500 pages.
VICE LONDON STAFF