the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.
Garrett Tiedemann: The thing with beginnings is that once you've started, it sometimes becomes clear that you're already in the middle. That you started a million and a half times already and you're actually drawing conclusions that you must be in the proximity of some other ending.
Garrett (on phone): Were there any sort of huge influences on how you approached the method? Either within zine [mispronounced] writers or outside in literature, audio, that sort of thing.
Julie Shapiro: I have to say I find it so interesting that you call them zines and not zines [like magazine]. Is this like a...maybe it's a divide of like who did it when?
Garrett: Well, so, I did not learn of these things until sort of after the fact. So things like the pronunciations are not part of my cultural upbringing.
Julie: It doesn't look like zine, it looks like zine. Sure.
Garrett: So, this is partly also like, in a selfish way, this is me learning through you a particular version of this development in the late 90s. Things like that.
Julie: Yeah. Well think of, I mean it was zine because they were like kind of like magazines. I mean that's how I always thought of it.
Allyson McCabe: You know there's a way in which your personal experience has a broader public point. You know that's why people, that's why there can be sites where people digitize these mix tapes and share them and even if I don't know either party, the party who made it or the party who it was made for, I can still relate to the emotions. And I feel that that carries over to the idea of a zine. You know a zine could have one, it could have an audience of one. It could have an audience of many more than one. But, the sweet spot I think is the idea where it feels a little bit exclusive, a little bit underground, a little bit like not everybody knows about this thing and that's what makes it kind of fun.
Julie: I mean I always have done this, well to state the obvious not by myself because it's completely about other people, but I've never collaborated with someone in making it, beyond the signs you know, so it's funny because I was thinking, you know I had decided not to go into audio with it at all like firmly, I'm not interested in that for this. I wanted something outside of that part of my life through this. But that ,I was actually really intrigued by the idea of someone else doing it. So, it was really interesting when you reached out with this idea of could you, you know, could you sonifi some of these ideas and some of the signs that come back beyond just reading them and you know what's the sonic interpretation of the message people are sending. Messages people are sending.
Garrett: Samples from Anodyne. Don't let the fascists tell you what to do.
Julie: Anodyne had a lot. It had like, was like...
Allyson: There's this great quote from Virginia Woolf and she says partially in writing a letter to someone you're trying to give back a reflection of them. I mean that's kind of a paraphrase, but... In writing a letter you want to give a reflection back to that person of who they are. I mean, I think that's an amazing thing.
Julie: The centerfold was always like a woman hero. One was like Harriet the Spy in the cover of that book. One was Connie Francis because I kept finding Connie Francis records at the thrift store. One was like this amazing postcard. It was like a chainsaw advertisement and had this like 50s woman sitting on a like bright red chainsaw with like a beautiful display of colorful chainsaws behind her, sort of menacing, but except it was actually just an advertisement. Strong, strong woman wielding wielding a chainsaw. But, yeah, I think I'm just trying to remember like as the riot grrrl stuff came and my sense of feminism was growing as well. You know how that was expressed through a more cultural lens and a sort of fun and sometimes ironic lens as well.
People are drawn to a community vibe and then feel more welcome and then become part and then pull others in.
Garrett: When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. Last night I dreamed I was in hell and now I'm having trouble making a list of things to blow up. I didn't realize I was in hell until I got out of bed, Julie the sixties glasses wanted to be hear about it. Instead I gave her another piece of metal I found inside a dumpster in an alley.
Orson Welles (archive tape): It's true. It's a good story though.
Miyuki Jokiranta: Ah, how did you first become aware of Julie's zine?
Tania Ketenjian: I didn't know that she had done the zine in the past and so...You know it doesn't surprise me that she has. But, yeah, I didn't know and I thought Gosh how does she find the time to do it.
Allyson: Really only vaguely. I think it was described in a social media post as a redux of the zine. You know, so I kind of worked my way back and then I found out more about what she was doing before and making those connections.
Simon Roche: She sent me a letter, I guess some time a year ago maybe, and in it was one of these little cards with the little kids on it, holding up their blank card, and I was like OK and she just said will you fill this in I've got a collection of them that I keep online.
Whitney Henry-Lester: Probably. I think she had a pin pinned tweet on Twitter that said something, I'm resurrecting my zine and I didn't know about the original zine, but it sounded like something that Julie would do.
Angeline Gragásin: I encountered her zine at an event at Kickstarter last October. I saw the zine before I knew who Julie was. She had already distributed several copies. They were kind of strewn about the space like amongst the snacks.
Julie: Is actually the origin story, so I came upon this image of these two kids holding up the sign in like a 1950s health book and so I whited out what was in their sign, it was like tips for good health, and I just, it was blank, and I thought like well here's a blank canvas to just invite people to you know speak up about what they're thinking about. So, it was very like of the time, of the DIY, of the like give people a voice you know kind of, I think of it a little bit like pre-status updates. You know it was kind of the analogue version of just speaking your mind and sharing it with the public.
Allyson: You want to make it as organic as possible. It's not like you're taking your brand new pair of jeans and deciding to you know drive over it 100 times in your driveways so they look distressed. You actually want it to be distressed. I think that there is a kind of sincerity even in that construction when you're putting these things together.
Julie: So, I was actually, I was in college in Colorado in Boulder and I actually started getting into mail art, like postal mail art, M-A-I-L, and this was right also around the time I was working in a record store and I was really getting into the kind of riot grrrl music movement.
[brief riot grrrl interlude]
Julie: Just a lot of DIY energy around. And I started morphing my kind of mail art, which was basically just make stuff and send it out to people who would make stuff and send it back.
Garrett: Join us, we're donating our bodies to automobile crash tests.
Stop the slogan. X-ray-o-matic.
Allyson: You know that feel real. You know that the flaws are what make them human. I think there's something about listening to some podcasts you know and some looking at some zines; any kind of homemade media that people realize that there is a person behind this and their trace is part of what's happening and that's kind of what makes it appealing. I don't have to necessarily look at zine and go oh you know who's is this or be able to tell you know that looks like a so and so. But, what I can get out of is the idea that some human person or group of people made this and they took the time to put this all together and it feels to me a lot more satisfying than a glossy magazine that maybe you know has recycled the same stories over and over again or is just chasing what's happening right now.
Julie: There was a really thriving underground of mail art; international actually. So, there were probably five or six dozen people who I would occasionally trade mail art with, but then because it was happening at a time where a lot of young girls were kind of speaking up and supporting each other. That became something I wanted to do more of and have more of an editorial kind of narrative input on I think although I'm sure I wasn't thinking of it in those terms so I'm putting that back on it now. I also was really into like a lot of kitsch and I was a thrifter and I collected things and that kind of old school clip art.
Garrett: Anodyne 1. Failure to read may result in injuries or death.
Anodyne came to English via Latin from Greek and it has been used as both an adjective and a noun since the 16th century. It has sometimes been used of things that dull or lull the senses and render painful experiences less so. Now, in addition to describing things that dull pain, Anodyne can also refer to that which doesn't cause discomfort in the first place.
Julie: So, that's how it started, and I called it Anodyne because I loved what that meant. It wasn't a word that was on a record album cover yet or... It also became the name of a publication in the northwest but, I think Wilco put out a record called Anodyne. But, before that I decided to call the zine Anodyne and then I had copped this little warning from a instruction manual. So the cover was just like the sign with the kids and it would say Anodyne. And then the bottom would say failure to read may result in injury or death.
So, that was like the basic template for it. And then, so there was some similarity from issue to issue. And then, yeah inside was kind of anybody's guess.
Miyuki: I think I first became aware of Julie's zine when we were doing this fantastic project in New Zealand. We were road tripping across New Zealand and looking for tiny libraries. Libraries that were the size of your bathroom or your closet or potentially your living room. And we were rolling over the hills, this kind of incredible New Zealand landscape, and Julie was kind of just telling me about her past and she told me about a zine that she used to run, she used to distribute, when she worked in a record shop when she was living that indie life. And that was the first I heard of it.
Julie: I mean, one problem with doing a zine in that time in my life was I moved around so much so I was constantly getting contributions mailed forwarded to me like sometimes two addresses behind etc or having friends pick up mail and you know a lot of a lot of my memory of putting that thing together actually happened in the fluorescent lit Kinko's in the middle of the night. I think that's where I actually did a lot of the work. So, the mail would come to my house or come to a P.O. Box but I would actually take it all into Kinko's because, I think I said earlier, I had friends working there or I would make friends with people there and then just set up camp and spread out you know commandeer the counters and just go to town for several hours.
Garrett: How you act in public is important because people will form an opinion as to the kind of person you are by observing your manners.
Julie: What was I saying? So, yeah, I think it was this blend of already being in the habit of going to the post office a lot, making things, being delighted by things coming back. And then the zine, zines were just coming up and so I felt like I was plugged into that scene already and it was a very logical, natural thing to do.
Garrett: Sharing. A folktale by Jeff Grimes.
A young couple are holding hands on a walk which follows a dry creek bed. Under a large cottonwood tree they find the dead bodies of a man and woman. The bodies lie lazily next to a clump of tree roots. There are knife cuts on their clothes and skin. Leaves stick to the dead woman's throat. After a long day of talking with police, reporters, friends, and family the young couple go to the man's apartment. He convinces the woman he had been holding hands with to perform oral sex on him. He thinks these words perform oral sex on me. Although he doesn't say them and uses his hands and body movements to do the persuading. The woman's name is Lilia. She shares a distaste for eating with her mother. As a result, their bodies look very much alike. For instance, there is no difference between the size of a mother's lower arm and upper one. The same is true for her daughter. Now Lilia has a man's penis in her mouth. She thinks she hears a teakettle whistling in the distance. The man's name is Jerry. Without opening his eyes he looks outside the room. In the dark there are two children, a boy and a girl. They are holding a sign and smiling.
Unknown Male (archive tape): This abstraction, called Caprolan Number One is not a painting and it's not on campus. It's printed on Caprolan nylon and can be worn.
Julie: Yeah, so giving a platform to other people. And I was really interested in the contrast, like how people would approach this idea of here's a very small like parameters right like it's just a couple inches by a couple inches and what can you do in that space. So, I would leave them for people to find and mail back to me and then they would get a copy of the zine. I would give them to other zine makers and we would trade zines. I would give them to like musicians coming through town at the record store. So, for me it was kind of a way to just connect with interesting people and a place for me to pour out some of my own angsty thoughts at that time. Originally the zine had a lot more writing, and a lot more overwriting. Oh my gosh I've been reading through some old issues and the editor, the now me you know a couple of decades working in editing other people's writing is so kind of charmed and horrified by that stuff. But, you know, I had feelings, I had a lot of feelings back then I guess. And there is you know an element of humor and there were reviews, there were some record reviews. I did things like interview toll booth operators about what they loved about their jobs and gas station attendants and in Portland where I was then moved and lived most of the gas stations were run by attendants so. I had this like, I thought it was brilliant. I'd ask every gas station attendant, What's your favorite kind of sandwich?
And then a friend made like a comic of it. I mean you know it was like, pretty random, quirky, nonessential, all wrapped up and that would all surround the zines that people would send me back.
Simon: And I'd say I probably left it for like six months or whatever. I left it for a long time and then she kind of reminded me somehow. Usually analogue like, we don't have, I don't have that many mails or texts or anything, but she reminded me going could just get me the thing I really need to post it.
So I was like OK. So I kind of wrote something that was on my mind right then and I sent it off and I I knew nothing more about it. I don't know, somehow I do remember her telling me it was online and I must of looked at it online, but it's all a blur. So, I'm not quite sure.
So, I don't really know much about Julie's Tumblr at all, except for the fact that you're now ringing me about it.
Garrett: So, if you'd like to play the kids with sign game. Or already have and would like to play again. Or know someone who you think might like to play. Or need some advice. Or want a Connie Francis tape. Or just feel like ranting about the general chaos that seems imminent. Or perhaps you'd like to rave about it. Please send your comments along with a brief statement to Anodyne.