Uncategorized

To rehash the story told when I posted SUPERDOPE #1 yesterday: I self-published a music fanzine in the 1990s, and put out 7 issues from 1991-1994 before calling it quits, then ultimately resurfaced with an 8th and final issue in 1998. There are some people who believe this magazine to be one of the halfway-decent ones plumbing the depths of loud underground music to surface during the era, and sometimes I even agree – though perhaps mostly not on the evidence of these first two issues. I feel in looking through this mid-1991 issue that there was a great deal of needless in-jokism, and a lot of wasted effort put toward praising musical mediocrity. My world was too heavily dominated by my love of buying obscure records, going to live shows 2-4 times per week, and joking about all manner of music-related topics with my friends. Not that I regret it, of course.

SUPERDOPE #2 was the last issue that relied so heavily on the contributions of others. As with #1, which had big contributions from Steve Watson, Kim Cooper and Grady Runyan, this too devotes a huge chunk of its pages to interviews conducted by Kim Cooper, with other excellent (unpaid) contributions from Mr. Runyan and Doug Pearson (Rubin Fiberglass assisted with the BOYS FROM NOWHERE interview as well – I’d tried to heavily recruit that guy for some time into becoming a “staff writer”, but it never quite worked out).

After #2 came out in the late summer months of 1991 I petulantly took my ball and went home, quite literally, and published the next three almost totally by myself – save for all the fantastic photos taken by Nicole Penegor, who was our “staff photographer” during the six years she & I worked together at Monster Cable in South San Francisco. 

Here are a few thoughts on the making of this issue:

  • Kim – who went on to found the long-lived SCRAM magazine and now leads all sorts of tours of the seedy side of Los Angeles – got to do both of the main interviews because she knew some underground “rock stars” personally, and because she and I were friends. She was pals with Deniz Tek from RADIO BIRDMAN, a band I really dug at the time and whom I thought it was a real coup to do such a long interview with. Ironically, I can’t even listen to the Radio Birdman stuff anymore and find it to be fairly moronic bar-punk with cringe-worthy vocals. That’s what getting old(er) will do to you.
  • I wasn’t really a fan of RUDOLPH GREY’s solo stuff, either – but Grady sure was, and he did a terrific interview that really holds up today.
  • The large section of live reviews should give you a pretty good idea of where my head was at in 1991 and where my time was being spent, most of it in the company of my ne’er-do-well friends and large quantities of beer. A girlfriend would likely have helped reduce the size of this section a bit. One ultimately arrived in due time. It was pretty fun going out all the time on my exceptionally small salary – and Superdope eventually even helped in that effort quite a bit, allowing me “pest list” status from time to time, since the magazine was sold in every record store in town.
  • And man did I start getting a ton of packages full of 45s and LPs after this time – in 1991, going to the mailbox was the second best part of every day, right after walking home from it with my arms full of records I now no longer own.I can’t even begin to scare up a memory of what some of the records I reviewed with gusto sounded like – Juan Carlos27 Devils JokingRake? Brief Weeds? Are you kidding me? At least I helped catapult Pavement to stardom.
  • I still feel bad about my critical evisceration of a LAZY COWGIRLS record in this issue; I know that the band saw it, and singer Pat Todd gave me a stern talking-to the next time I saw them play. I had pretty much followed that band around California in the late 80s whenever they played. Not that I think I was wrong in any way, but confound it, I just don’t like hurting good folks’ feelings. I more or less decided to focus on good records after this issue, and stopped expending energy on bad or mediocre ones (a position I’ve mostly continued with Dynamite Hemorrhage as well).

Lest I be too hard on myself, I will say that I printed over 2,000 issues of this issue, and thanks to widespread demand from all over the globe, I had to print it in two batches. Tower Records sold the bulk of them, including in their London and Tokyo stores, and as a result I got some incredible letters from those countries, South Africa and elsewhere. The other big distributors were See/Hear in New York, Subterranean in San Francisco, and a couple others who are most definitely not with us any longer.

I have SUPERDOPE #3 – THE GORIES issue and easily the hardest to find of my self-published ventures – scanned and ready to post shortly. Until then….

DOWNLOAD SUPERDOPE #2 (1991)

Uncategorized

Here’s a full and complete scan of the first fanzine I ever put out, SUPERDOPE #1. It was written 24 years ago and released to the people in Spring 1991. Obviously a project like this created in the bloom of one’s youth (I was 23) engenders a strange mix of pride and revulsion. Pride – well, I put this together completely by hand over several months, using scissors and glue and 3-cent photocopies at a local place who gave me a discount. I used to lug home a gigantic beige Mac from my workplace which was running Windows 2.0 (or whatever was five years before Windows 95) and some rudimentary version of Word, and peck this magazine out at home in the evenings, before returning it back to the “shared workstation” at Monster Cable the next day.

Revulsion? Just the normal embarrassment over meaningless in-jokes that I don’t understand myself anymore, appalling syntax and sentence structure, and reverence for ludicrous rock and roll bands that I forgot about mere months after I wrote about how amazing their records or live shows were. At this point in my life, I was going to see live music 3-4 nights per week, spending all my free money on records, and basing the great majority of my friendships and people-judgments based upon the kind of music they were most enthusiastic about. Besides that stuff, I think it’s pretty cool to be sharing it, finally. It’s been out of print since the year after it came out, and I was shocked to find that I only had 1 copy left myself. So this is truly digital self-preservation. I only made about 500 of these and I’d assume that at least 300 were at the recycling center within a decade after its release.

A few notes on the first issue of SUPERDOPE:

• The magazine’s name, which I was never truly comfortable with, but came to peace with eventually, was given to me by my co-worker Bernice Reilly. She had a habit of calling me her “superdope homeboy”, after the MC Hammer song so popular that year.

• I was fortunate enough to have 4 excellent contributors – Kim Cooper (who later went on to start SCRAM magazine and recently wrote this excellent book); Grady Runyan (guitarist for Liquor Ball and Monoshock); photographer Nicole Penegor; and the recently deceased Steve Watson, a great guy whose SONIC’S RENDEZVOUS BAND piece was actually cut off and sent to the printer before either of us noticed. Read it – it’s got a somewhat clunky ending. We talked about getting a Part 2 in my second issue, and I guess we both just sorta forgot that too.

• Re-reading this recently, I realized how in thrall I was to certain people that year, as young people can be; in particular, Brandan Kearney, the guitarist of World of Pooh and proprietor of Nuf Sed records. I thought his whole rejection of the “music scene” and sardonic personality to be a breath of fresh air, plus I totally dug his band and some of the records on his label. I just wish I hadn’t kissed his ass so hard.

• After this came out I got a personal letter from Byron Coley, who was only my favorite rocknroll writer on the planet. It wasn’t mocking me, nor was there any cease-and-desist notification attached to it. Seems that Kearney had actually encouraged him to buy a copy when Coley was visiting San Francisco, and he actually enjoyed it. I mentally coasted on that one for a few months until the next issue – the jumbo SUPERDOPE #2, which I’ll try and post here on DH in the next couple of weeks.

Download and read SUPERDOPE #1 in its entirety here.