Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Zine Review: Scam

SCAM: The First Four Issues

Even though this four issue anthology of Erick Lyle's Scam zine almost hits the 300 page mark, it's still an abridged version! That's pretty impressive. What makes Scam different from hundreds of other punk rock zines is that its focus was not just on music and it wasn't overtly political either, yet it was entirely political because it served as a guide to living outside society. Scam unabashedly encouraged theft, vagrancy, squatting and vandalism (as well as beer consumption). Scam was to be taken literally and was a part of the punk rock ethos of its creators. Taking what you want and doing what you want to do was central to this. From generator shows and squatting to scamming free copies at Kinkos and dumpster diving, Scam was equal parts how-to and holy-shit-look-what-I-got-away-with-you-can-too.

Scam was a cut-and-paste, handwritten, collage-style publication so unfortunately much of it is difficult to read. I'm sure the thought of transcribing the handwritten text into a more readable type would be considered heresy in the Scam Camp, but it did make for rough going and I couldn't make it through the bulk of it. Maybe that's not a bad thing. Not every article still has relevance or will resonate with every reader. That's true with most zines. I was able to read enough to get a general understanding, however. Enough to recognize Scam's role as an important document of punk rock life in the 90s—a decade that, despite current public sentiment, was full of activism and great music, but is more associated with Grunge, Green Day and lo-fi, than punk rock. That's a common perception that maybe this zine will help change. So keep scammin' kids... but don't scam me, please—Chris Auman

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