Monday, August 20, 2007
I don't think anyone can recall the precise genesis of 'Woofah' magazine - except me. Paul Meme kind of thinks it was his idea, or at least dictated to him by God during some Wailing Souls gig where he drank so much wine he wept like a grasshopper. But no, I'll tell you where it started - John Eden burbling in a pub. "I HAVE THIS MASTERPLAN," he began, doing the index finger-jabbing-the-table-on-every-syllable thing he does all the time. "A MAGAZINE CATERING FOR GRIME, DANCEHALL AND DUBSTEP. WHAT WE'LL DO IS..."
I'm sorry, I truly am. One of the seminal moments in the history of fanzine culture. The DIY publishing equivalent of that time Hitler had one too many in the bierhall and started his "Jews this, Jews that" rant. The hands of history on our backsides. And what did I do? I drifted off. I caught the end of the odd sentence..."TOTALLY INDEPENDENT", "NO ADVERTISING", "HONEST REVIEWS"...but I'd left my body about 5,000 miles behind. Oh come on, who actually knocks out fanzines anymore? It seemed John had been infected by yet another of these "pub ideas", the kind of rot that makes sense after a few drinks but has about as much chance as materialising as Maddie McCann ((I bet you a tenner the parents killed her. I'm not joking either)) - like "Let's record an electro version of Tube Disaster", "Let's break into London Zoo and liberate the flamingos", "Why don't we set up our own catering business and go and punt this out of date bacon to revellers at the V festival", "I love you, let's get married", and so on.
Do you know what I pondered, reader, as John frothed at the mouth and slammed his palm against the now Stella-drenched table, a thick vein bulging at his temple and all manner of obscenities gushing from his mouth? Whatever happened to all those flyers that they used to distribute with fanzines in the early 90s? You know, the mass-xeroxed adverts for new product by bands like Cosmonauts Hail Satan or Pink Turds in Space. Did anyone actually ever buy the Pink Turds in Space LP for £4, on the strength of a small scrap of paper with a PO Box address and a cartoon? All those 'distros' scattered across the land, selling fanzines like "Dregs", "Duhhh", "Concerned Muthas". Sending off 50p wrapped in a piece of cardboard, to get a 32-page hand-scrawled black and white zine reporting on the 'scene' in Telford and Wrekin. Kids with nothing to do and nothing to say, saying it anyway. Hundreds of bored exiles, just like me. And another bundle of flyers through the flap. The new issue of "Eat Shit And Die" (number 2) now available. And more Pink Turds in Space flyers. Really, has anyone ever heard them? Is that record worth £100 nowadays?
What happened to these flyers? There was an unwritten agreement that whenever you corresponded with anyone in the 'zine network' you had to recycle the flyers. Spread them around the country like confetti, an anarchic, dislocated marketplace. Caveman 'myspace'. Just as long as you didn't mix up the Class War ones with the Riot Grrrl queer poetry ones. I felt like such a voyeur, paying 50p to pry into fellow teenage heads, reading their angry rants and reports on BNP activity in South Shields and confessions about female masturbation, sexist comments on the bus and loneliness. No, I don't want to check out Pink Turds in Space, thanks. Matt Fuller and Graham Harwood bastardising graphics, just so I could get to gawp at blasphemous Homocult propaganda and conspiracy theories about Prince Charles slaughtering children as part of his demented occult rites. A 4-track demo by an angry industrial rock band called Manfat (Have you ever thought / there's too much traffic / have you ever thought / there's too many people / What we need is...a big bomb!) What became of them? Who were they? These days, you'd be able to click on their site and find out what their favourite films were, back then they were just voices and humming frets and drum thuds on a Maxell C60.
Where did the flyers go? Did they wear out from overposting and disintegrate? Did people just get bored of seeing them and throw them in the bin? That's a lot of flyers to throw away, regardless. Where did Pink Turds in Space xerox the adverts for their album? Did they do it for free? Oh, it was all bollocks, in retrospect. It was...
"SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?" John squawked. I was back in the pub, rain slid down the windowpanes, smokers huddled outside, my ugly mug blinked back at me from the glassy black sheen of a fresh pint of stout.
"...yeah, it's cool" I began
"YOU'VE NOT LISTENED TO A WORD!" Eden roared. "SITTING THERE, DREAMING UP MORE LIES TO FOOL THE PEOPLE! BLOGS ARE SO 2005! PRINTED MATTER'S MAKING A COMEBACK, IT'S TIME TO RAISE THE ZINE, TO RECLAIM THE A5 FORMAT! FUCK COMPLACENT POSTS ABOUT THE FIRST THING THAT COMES INTO YOUR HEAD! HAVE YOU GOT THE GUTS TO ACTUALLY PAY TO GET YOUR MESSAGE OUT THERE? DO YOU BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN WORDS? DO YOU? DO YOU?"
"OK! OK!" I gave in. "It's a bloody great idea. I certainly wouldn't have the brains or patience to pull it off" (John really perked up and was all smiles at this point) "What are you going to call it?" I asked.
Another historic moment. The flutter of a butterfly's wing in 13th century China blows Eric Clapton's son out of the window. "IT'S GOING TO BE CALLED...TWEETAH" he announced.
Do you know - damn me if I can remember what possessed me, but I ended up countering, "Woofer sounds better".
"I'VE HAD A MUCH BETTER IDEA!" John yelled. "LET'S CALL IT WOOFER! OR WOOFAH! YES, WOOFAH! THAT WAY I CAN CONVINCE MYSELF THAT I CAME UP WITH THE NAME AND NOT YOU, BECAUSE YOU SPELT IT WRONG!"
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Woofah zine came to be. It's being published in August. Hilariously, it was meant to be published in Catford, but somehow got diverted to Ireland - it's a long story, and I'm not the man to tell it, especially when I could be nibbling on pork scratchings and downing stout down some warm boozer. But check this shit out
Hahahaha. Even though I wasnt there and have never met any of the protaganists face to face, I just know thats exactly the way it happened!Post a Comment