Three long months ago, when the BIIL series began, we set some criteria for what kinds of things we might review. The series would highlight things that fell into at least one of the following categories:
1) something unique/weird/awesome (to us),
2) something local, or
3) something un-literary (traditionally speaking) that we wanted to promote/support.
The list of items we’ve covered so far is quite disparate, the common denominator being hype-worthiness. We’ve reviewed a nearby rockscramble (categories 1 & 2), the menu of a regional whiskey bar (2ish and 3), the art-in-the-mail project by Hunter (1 and 3) and the stupidest app ever invented (just 1).
This marks the 8th post in the series, and it’s the first since that inaugural review (of the album booklet of a local compilation) that rings all three bells. It’s a handmade zine by local biker, skater, and graphic designer, Zach Kolodziejski.
PUTT Zine, Issue 3
5×7″ paper, sewn, black & white
$15.00 from Graphic Discharge
PUTT is three niches (motorcycles, skateboarding, and punk music) smashed together. It happens that many people who are interested in one of those sub-cultures find themselves at least aware of, if not a part of, the other two as well. So this is the perfect zine for a relatively small, absolutely passionate group of people.
Luckily for those of us who don’t covet secret skate spots, ride 50cc mopeds across the country, or spin hardcore-punk 7″s on our record players, this zine is still 100% worth checking out. And here’s why:
1. This is the most visually appealing DIY magazine I’ve seen. Kolodziejski is a PCAD graduate and the entrepreneur behind the zine’s distributor, Graphic Discharge. Needless to say, GD doesn’t put anything out that isn’t graphically kickass. Within these few pages, the photographs alone are enough to make it worth reading, if not owning, collecting, and showing off to friends. The design is full-bleed on every page. It has cohesion, neatness, and order, all while possessing an absolutely punk aesthetic.
2. The writing is concise and strongly voiced. Issue 3 is called “Putt Gets Cabin Fever,” which dates it at around the winter/early spring of 2014. The intro to the zine is three sentences long and it expresses the feeling of the weather forcing you away from the thing you love. For anyone in the South Central PA region this winter, this feeling was universal. The first article, “Pinball Run”, is more of a photo essay about the moped rally (which stretches from from Maine to Key West) than an article, but the text serves an informational as well as a tonal purpose. He endearingly (and alliteratively) calls the riders, “A slew of psychotic pedal-cyclists” who “saddle[ed] up on two stroke steeds [and] swarmed 1800 miles of open road…spanning the entire East Coast somewhere around 40 mph.”
When it comes to words, economy is key; the pictures do the talking.
3. The record reviews are critical, opinionated, and fun to read. They are indicative of the attitude of the entire zine, which is one of freedom, one that declares responsibility to only itself and its editor. When Dave Preno writes these reviews, there is no need to disclaim, “the thoughts/ideas of this publication are solely the opinion of…”. He just says what he thinks. This is the benefit (for the editor, and for the reader) of making something for a very specific audience. An excerpt from one of Preno’s micro-reviews: “The short version of this review is that this band is shit. If you see this record in the store, take the time to at least bend one of the corners so that it depreciates the value for whatever asshole buys it.” Don’t be put off by the negativity, most of the reviews are glowing. All are entertaining. Plus, you might just find a record you like.
4. As a whole, the zine finds this strange balance between uniformity and variety, order and disorder, eclectic and narrow, and it means that you never know what to expect when you turn the page. It means: an enjoyable reading experience. This issue ends with a photo strip (with captions) of an elderly man explaining how to turn a cargo van into a cow-sized oven. An oven that cooks a cow whole. It’s weird. It was unexpected. Of course, what holds all of the different sections of this booklet together (besides the hand-sewn binding) is Kolodziejski’s flawless design.
5. Each issue comes with a pull out illustration. Issue 3’s was done by Sam Turner. It’s a laser cut wood block print, printed on prescia paper, one of only fifty. If this piece isn’t enough to convince you that PUTT Zine is not just literature, not just (sub)culture, not just graphically sound, but hands-down, capital A-Art, then I don’t know WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.
I’m going to collect these… if I can. Each new issue is released when the previous one sells out. There are still some copies of #3 left over at Graphic Discharge. Check out an issue of PUTT and let us know what you thought. Shout it out in the comments… IS IT LIT?!