Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Zine Fest Delivers So Much More

If you've never been to Richmond's annual 'Zine Fest, you can't imagine what you're missing. Technically, it's a DIY literary and artistic event, but that's far too simplistic a description for the roomful of passionate people and talented writers and artists who comprise the event.

Walking the large room at the Gay Community Center affords an opportunity to meet 'zinesters from all over the east coast, peruse their work and discover what their passions are. I found myself caught up in all kinds of interesting conversations with strangers at table after table.

And I love the creativity of zine titles. There was Fort Mortgage: First Time Home Buying for Punks, Coffeehouse Crushes: Tales of Love and Lust in Coffeehouses, Cuddle-Puddles and Hotpants, Cryptic Slaughter, and Hoax: Feminism and Relationships, to name all too few, but all of which caught my eye and insisted I pick them up and check them out.

I was talking to a 'zinester who asked me, "Are you tabling?" and I had to laugh, saying that while I can write, I have no artistic talent whatsoever, not even basic cut and paste skills. Turns out he was impressed that I was an attendee because of my age.

"It's so cool to see someone here who's over 18," he explained. "Not that you don't look nineteen, because you totally do, but you know what I mean. It's great that you were interested enough to come out. Wish more people would." And, blatant lie aside, I did know what he meant.

Another guy was a valet who write 'zines about hating his job and his dreams of improvements in RVA's bike friendliness and safety. "VCU will have to get involved for bike lanes to happen," he predicted.

He told me he bikes to work nine miles, commuting from Church Hill to the near West End. He mentioned how few cyclists he sees in his neighborhood, then shares the road with plenty in the city center and then they disappear again on the other side of the Museum District.

As a person who bikes semi-regularly, I can relate. I see plenty of bikers where I live and play, but no bike lanes. It's a serious flaw in a city that otherwise has a great quality of life. It's something I would love to see addressed by the city. Portland and Cambridge can do it; why can't we?

He also made the point that unfortunately, the people who tend to come to the 'Zine Fest are the people already involved in the causes they support. "We're preaching to the choir here," he said ruefully.

It's too bad really, because I do think a wider audience would not only benefit from the exposure but gain knowledge of all kinds of subculture groups and movements going on in Richmond, some of which might be of interest to them.

Yes there are anarchists and union supporters, but also groups devoted to feminist discussions, feeding the homeless, vinyl lovers, over-caffeination and sexuality of every kind. Something for everyone, I'd hazard to say.

It would be a shame to think that there's anyone who can't get behind a good cuddle-puddle, if you know what I'm saying.

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