We Make Zines

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Yesterday I got a small package from "Lismore" Australia. There was a name on it, which I'm withholding, but I couldn'f find it anywhere on this website.

There was no note, no POB, no street address.

I tried e-mailing the person whom I THOUGHT may have sent it, via her page on this website, but when I tried to send it, TWICE, each time it froze and would not go through, so I decided just to go ahead and take it to this group.

I'm grateful and flattered for being sent this package, but I'm a little unhappy with their being no way to respond. Did this person want a trade, or did they withhold the info because they did NOT want something from me in return?

I hope I'm not souring what may well have been a friendly and light-hearted gesture, and I don't want to lay any onerous and authoritarian rules on the diverse and anarchistic community of zinester free spirits, BUT...

If you're going to trade with somebody, could you possibly write a brief note telling that person where you heard about their zine, got their address, why you're interested in a trade, etc. It doesn't have to be a treatise, and it shouldn't take you more than 3 minutes, and it'd really help a whole lot. You might AT LEAST give us a functional E-MAIL address, if, for some odd reason (for a supposed zinester) you don't like communicating via paper-mail.

It's just that this kind of thing is happening to me a bit too often---and oddly, from Australia. (Some sort of national custom maybe?)

Again, I was flattered and charmed by the gift, but it's hard to tell you that or know just what I should send in return if I don't know where to write you.

(I think we may need to review some old-time zine etiquette for those who have recently joined the fold).

James N. Dawson

Views: 35

Replies to This Discussion

i can completely understand your frustration and find it a bit weird that it is happening to you often. BUT...

since they didn't put an address, they most likely just wanted to be nice and don't expect anything from you in return. some people do random things like that without any care of getting recognition... they probably just wanted to bring a smile to your face!

i have to be honest to say that you should probably just let it go and move on. it probably does more harm to be really irritated about it. if someone sends you something without pertinent contact info, what else can you do, but to just enjoy the zine (or not enjoy the zine) and continue doing what you're doing?

PLEASE don't take this the wrong way, but i see more positive than negative in your situation. i don't think it's worth getting really cranky about.

I tried to temper my grievance with a little cranky humor.

I suppose your glass-half-full take on the situation makes some sense, but for me, in the 15 years I've been involved in zines, it's always been a given that if I send you something, you send me something, and vice versa. The message, "Here's something for you, but don't bother sending me anything or replying at all", while maybe not intentional, is a bit of a slight.

Let me give you another example. I got a zine for review a while back and it explicitly said "No Trades, this zine is for free download from the Net". Okay, that's nice, but again, there's a vague sense of "dismissing" the receiving party. Trading is an exchange of gifts, a communication, and it's just imbalanced if somebody refuses YOUR half of the giving. It's like saying "Hello" and quickly telling the one you greeted not to say Hello back.

I hope I'm not exaggerating or distorting the scenario, but it feels a bit like the old request that white liberals did back in more racist days when they said to their black "friends", "Don't visit us, we'll visit you".

Yes, this person may have been just giving me a gift with the nicest of intentions, and I'm not THAT irritated, but it just feels sort of "off kilter" to me.

Has this happened to anybody else? Were you slightly uncomfortable or feel there was something incomplete about the whole thing?

Yeah, I'll let it go. But I thought it was worth sharing.

Hi there,
I just want to chime in and say I hear ya.

Just the other day I received a pile of zines from an exchange that I participated in. There were several that really resonated with me and I wanted to contact the creators and say something nice, but I couldn't find any sort of contact information on some of the zines.

Because of the way the exchange was set up, I have no way to contact any of them, or to let anyone know that I got their zines without a whole bunch of effort on my part. I also got a zine from someone who just left her blog as a contact. I suppose I could randomly post on one of her entries about the zine I got, but that seems weird.

In the overall scheme of my life, it's not a big deal, and I'm not going to lose any sleep, but I did find the whole thing momentarily annoying.

So, yeah, I'm trying to say that I get what you are saying.

PS I think sometimes people just forget. I've been doing mailart for several years, and I've been amazed at what people have forgotten - like putting any identifying information when they were expecting something back from me, or forgetting to seal their envelope - no wait, that was me!

it's great to hear there's zinesters alive and well in Lismore! It's in NSW, Australia and yeah, as a custom we try to make things as difficult as possible for other people. When people say How are you? Our common response is "Not too bad". This is just another way in which we make life difficult for others.

Good luck in your search!!!!
Bird in Hand,

At least your reply eliminates you as a possibility. (I thought it was you, and it was you whom I unsuccessfully tried to e-mail).

I search for the name of the person, her name in quotes next to "Lismore", on Google (or was it Yahoo) and she did come up about half a dozen times, but I couldn't find an e-mail or physical address.

I've become more paranoid these days about mentioning anybody by name on the Net (bad netiquette?) so I guess I won't reveal it here. (This never seemed to be such a big deal back in pre-internet days. Everything seems so hyper-cautious and hyper-sensitive now with referring to names or giving addresses, which makes me feel "cramped" and "unsure" all the time).

Anyway, I've made a good-faith effort. I hope this person doesn't think I'm down on her and that I haven't scared her away (in case she's reading all this). If she wants a trade for her gift in return, I'm more than happy to reciprocate.

I was involved with an art project called postcardx where people send things to other people with no expectation of trade, so I got used to receiving (wonderfully) strange stuff in the mail with no way to get back to the person who sent it. Some people gave contact info, but others wanted to be unreachable, and that was cool with me. If I send a postcard, a lot of the time I put no return address. It reminds me of how on May Day when we were kids we would leave flowers on the neighbor's porch, ring the bell, run away.

As for behavior within the zine community specifically, I always send a note, nowadays--I used to send zines to people with no note, and after a while that started to feel uncaring. Sometimes depending on how I'm feeling I'll write a small letter. Again, maybe this bothers some people--maybe some people don't want a letter--but most people seem to respond to it very appreciatively. But maybe some people are getting annoyed with me. Who knows?

Thanks for filling me in. Honestly I wasn't aware of this practice. I guess it's okay, although it'd be nice to have a way to say "thanks".

Actually, I'm often guilty of not including a personal note, even a short one. Like you, I feel like I'm being a little "cold" by not including one, but by the time I've gotten to the mailing process, my brain is so half-dead with fatigue, even scrawling a few words is an effort. (I send my "initial mailing" out about 5 or 6 a day). I write personal notes off and on, only when I feel I really should, which is to people who've given me a lot of support and feedback. Often, when I don't, I have replies and mentions of them in my zine itself.

Getting back to zinesters/mail-articsts/etc. who don't provide contact addresses, I suppose the may want to "reach out" and "give", but they just might not feel up to the often protracted exchange of letters, etc. that such an act can "set off". I guess I can understand that. This whole zine/communication/mail-addiction thing is a double-edged sword. To be sure, I'm very grateful and often CRAVE a good letter-of-comment, but other times, I can barely drag myself to the computer/typewriter/pen&paper to reciprocate the way I feel I should. I guess I usually like to participate in zines "vicarously" through the letters/contributions of others, as much out of laziness as anything else. As I wrote to one of my readers, "I'm insane". ;)
I've just gotta come up with a system of organization to where I remember who i already sent a zine to. Luckily-I do keep track of who and why I send to and we message eachother and such. I just need to make a certain checklist.
Sounds like you got a RAK (random act of kindness) and you're kind of pissing all over it and the gesture behind it. Now it's your turn to send something to someone at random and not expect anything in return. Trades are great, it's how the community survives, but just because someone sends you a package expecting nothing in return, doesn't comment on your zine or the quality of your zine in any way (which is what I got from your comments). It's not a slight, it's kindness.
I wouldn't say I was "pissing all over it", just expressing some puzzlement about it. I've never gotten a "Random Act of Kindness" by a zinester/mail artist with no return address before, so it was something new to me. My "crankiness" was at least half tongue-in-cheek.

I give away all kinds of zines and extras with my trades & orders. I give things to people I think they might like and invite them to comment if they want to. I guess I'm a little puzzled by the "random" part of "acts of kindness", but that doesn't mean I'm against it or anything.

Actually, these people sent me another package after the OP, so I guess they're not mad at me. I found they were on WMZ, and I thanked them for it in their comment wall.


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