Age: late 30s
Selection: "Reptilian Thoughts"
Recent review (from Chip's
Closet Cleaner): "Easy-to-swallow news and notes...
It's not just for the addicted."
Sample: $2 from PMB 849, 1122 E. Pike
St., Seattle, WA 98122 [no response to email or snail mail inquiries,
When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do
I started PaGG in 1991 as
a way of documenting my fascination with pills and pill culture.
I had moved to Seattle but didn't yet have a network of friends
and I wanted something to do. I had always admired zine-makers
and had once taken a stab at it in 1990 with one issue of a zine
called South Coast Omelette. That taught me how much tougher
it is to do than it looks. It turned out to be a one-shot "learning
experience." So this time I made sure I could do the whole
thing without any outside help and not creating too much work
Why publish a zine?
Believe it or not, I still
see zines as an important source of information. Most zines don't
breaking news but some of them could and donot that many
establishment people would notice. Some of them report on things
no one else reports on. The Sabot Times was a zine for people
in the media (mainly newspapers) who were admitting to each other
that they were not such bearers of the torch of truth, that they
were cogs in a corporation and truth-telling was of least importance
in their gigs. So they'd bitch about their disillusions but they'd
also egg each other on and advise each other on ways to subvert
their system. Some of their monkey-wrenching was hilarious, especially
if they were able to document some outraged memo from some steamed
managerial-type determined to find out who planted that fake
headline or "outted" a particularly mean or stuck-up
I'm sure PaGG was "first"
to report on a few things. None were especially earth-shattering,
but some would have been considered "important" had
they appeared in hi-falutin' publications. A pharmaceutical testing
company ordered a subscription. They wanted to keep tabs.
Since I didn't force my sources
to identify themselves, I got a lot of cool info fast. More than
a few doctors, nurses and other medical personnel subscribe and
they have reported on their various theories or findings that
are nowhere near what the medical journals demand or even want.
These guys don't have time to conduct a "proper" FDA-type
study. So I'd get first-hand information about medications from
those who prescribed it, administered it, and took it. I found
out a good deal about the biz from pharmacists and pharmacy and
Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Be realistic about your capacity
to do this. For instance, if you have a dot matrix printer but
borrow a laser printer or even any other equipment, forget it.
You'll be hostage to other people's favors. Also, don't count
on friends to help you. You're setting a booby trap for yourself.
And make it last a year. Factsheet Five founder Mike Gunderloy
once said that the typical half-life of a zine is a year. Beat
that. Same goes for design and advertising. Don't blow your wad
on one or two issues. If you realize it takes too much work to
be that slick then, don't downgradejust quit. Better to
start small and slow.
Keep your focus. Your zine
should be directed toward something, a theme, a person, a philosophy.
Then you will always know what to write about. You'll also know
whether you're about to enter into competition with 10 other
zines who cover Saturday morning cartoons or the history of beer
or whatever. Find something that no one else does well.
A zine's success is related
to the purity of spirit behind it. Trying to make money is not
all that spiritually pure. Not that it's bad or wrong. But dollars
or circulation figures are not, for me, the real measure of success.
When PaGG got real popular a couple of years ago and Barnes &
Noble and a few other chains started carrying it, I thought I
might have a business on my hands. I was kinda psyched and began
to think of ways to make PaGG "grow." Then this kid
in Illinois killed himself (or herself, dunno) and there was
an issue of PaGG in the room with a Barnes & Noble sticker
on it. I don't know much more than that, except that within a
few days, B&N was sending back hundreds of copies and so
did each of the "independent" Borders Bookstores. I
got to eat the costs.
That's when I realized I liked
it better when the zine was small. I had never meant to make
money and never have. That episode showed me the frailty of such
a goal. Now I have a different pricing policy. The zine is free,
but I strongly encourage people to donate a couple bucks an issue.
You put money into the equation and the thing or endeavorI
don't care what it iswill change. If a person is trying
to sell ads more than do a good zine, the zine will quickly reflect
What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
Sending 'em out. The job is
done. By that time, it's all I've been doing for a couple of
weeks and I'm relieved. Gathering the information, writing it,
pasting it up all feel good, too. Then there's the part where
readers write in. My readers are super-loyal. Like, when it was
too long between issues, they'd write in with gentle reminders
"not to forget" to put out another issue. No one was
pissed and wanting their money back.
Then, when I finally got on
my feet, I get busted and have to put out a one-sheet issue while
living on people's floors and dealing with the police and lawyers
and all that shit. So there I was, a year late with a tiny issue
and I had to ask them for help. I received more
donations for my legal defense fund from PaGG readers than from
anyone else. They also stood up for me like no other group. They
gave a shit. Their advice was realistic, and their feelings sincere.
They'd send in a crumpled, even soggy $5 bill or outright admit
they had no money for me but they would pray. That meant and
still means a lot to me.
In my other life, I'm a:Fan
Freelance writer. I've been
a cab driver, a deckboy, I've worked at a half-dozen publications,
had uncountable shit jobs cleaning things. I also managed to
milk the grad school game for three years, teaching Italian to
On having a reptilian
the reptilian brain (114K)
of the pill (75K)
can do (125K)
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