Editing a magazine is strange work. In the past five years, I figure I've edited more than 50 individual issues alone. That's 50 times proofreading every page, 50 times agonizing over final approvals, 50 times worrying about folios and page numbers and did we spell everything right on the cover?
I love getting the new magazine fresh from the printer, all shiny and new. But then the issues pile up and after a while they start to seem stale. Your decisions live forever, although they don't age well. (What were we thinking with that cover photo, anyway? I can't believe we used that headline--sooooo cheesy.) Even so, five years later, I can pick up a back issue and a phrase or an idea will be ringingly familiar. It takes a long time for the words to fade away.
Lately I've been inspired to go back and re-examine the first magazine I ever edited. As mentioned here, in early '90s my friends and I published three issues of a literary 'zine called Bears on Text. It was, to say the least, of limited circulation; I think we printed 100 copies of each. The format was 8.5x11-inch sheets of paper, photocopied front and back, packaged loose in clear plastic bags. We sold each copy for $1 (and gave away lots for free).
So this week will be a sort of archaeological dig, wherein I try to tell the story of B.O.T. To see if I can explain what we were trying to do, and to understand whether we succeeded. To see if any of the cultural flies buzzing on the sherbet of 1990-91 are still around. To see if things are still "ringingly familiar" or if something surprises me. To figure out what I've learned.
Also, some of the stuff is pretty cool.
So here's the context:
I'm in my last semester of graduate school, fretting over my resume more and enjoying it less. To take my mind off the inevitable, I turn my attention to the zine my then-boyfriend and his friends want to produce. (Boyfriend is not E.; write your own script here.) The guys are all in the same band and we're all part of an intricately connected subcultural universe that is based on a series of shared cultural reference points and in-jokes. A lot of these reference points are intended to manifest themselves in the zine. They don't seem to translate very well now, though, so I'll skip 'em.
E. is around, but not actively involved in this project. A couple other friends of B&W are connected to the scene in emotional and practical ways. Cocokat has moved away, but is still involved with the group. Mike is a supporter and contributor, although I don't know him particularly well at this stage. In forms I didn't become aware of till later, they both informed what we tried to do, in their own ways; at the very least, I always was interested in their reactions.
A few more wacky things about the era: no one has a computer. No one has any money. No one has the Internet. We're in a college town 50 miles away from the nearest big city--so, largely, if we want anything interesting to happen we have to make our own culture.
We began with the premise that the zine would be about bears...and everything else.
Next: The Context, or "What Do You Mean, About Bears?"Posted at April 07, 2003 09:09 PM