Raw Material
Teenage Gang Debs

Don Smith,
Teenage Gang Debs

Age: 29

Selection: "Janalyzing Eve" (page 4)

Sample: $3 from P.O. Box 1754, Bethesda, MD 20827 (checks: Erin Smith)

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
My sister Erin really launched TGD. She had long been a keen observer and had written for other zines in the mid-1980s when she was in high school. I was a program director at my campus radio station at the time. She had something to say and there was no place to say it but at home, in our parent's basement.

Why publish a zine?
The only people who should publish a zine are people whose ideas bubble up like lava from a volcano. The best zines come from people who have no choice but to make their idea known. Publish a zine because every piece of journalistic writing you've every seen is wrong and you can do better.

What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
Eve PlumbThe Eve Plumb interview was a blast. She's a very nice, very sarcastic woman. A lot of ditzy people have trouble with her attitude, because she's so smart and so willing to make fun of the ridiculousness around her. Eve's very punk, she's a hardcore rebel. At an art show of hers, I saw these dumb-ass parents say insulting things to her, but instead of smiling and taking it, she would just roll her eyes and turn away. Then they remarked how rude she was. Sheesh, she should have hit them.

Have you ever published any other zines?
Erin and I did a zine called Action Teen, which there was only one issue of so far. We put it out in 1991, when there was this amazing music scene swirling around us. I also did a very short run zine in 1984, but there wasn't much to it.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Take great care to craft every story like you want it to last for a lifetime. It very well could end up in your "Collected Letters" anthology after you become a rich and famous writer.
Seriously, never finish a story because you're tired of it or because you just have to get the zine out. The zine can wait another week while you come up with a point as to why you're writing that piece. Never run record reviews. Record reviews suck. Interview the band instead. If you can't seem to interview the band, why are you writing this zine?
Never let technology force your layout—decide on a layout and then force HTML or Pagemaker; or scissors and glue and paper to do your bidding. Send your zine everywhere once it's written—to everyone you've ever admired. If it's good, you will get more credit than if you sent it around to half as many people. Trust me, you can afford the postage if it's good and if it's not good don't publish it at all.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
This may come off egotistical, but I love it when I mention I did the zine and people suddenly make the connection and tell me they liked it. When we first met Beck several years ago I was all, "That's such a great record." And he was like, "Wait, TGD? I love TGD." And I'm sitting there kind of stunned. That's what life's all about—people you respect reading your zine when they were teenagers playing guitar in their bedroom.

In my other life, I'm a:
I am a former archivist with the U.S. National Archives but recently made the career transition to Web designer (how zine-oriented) for the Department of Health and Human Services. The website I most recently worked on is www.healthfinder.gov. Erin is a high school yearbook photographer and the guitarist in the band Cold Cold Hearts. She was in the band Bratmobile for several years, toured the U.S. and U.K. and released three CDs plus many singles.

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