by Mike Gunderloy
Originally published in Factsheet Five, Issue 44 (p. 86), August 1991.
Alternative Press: Think of this as sort of the "grown-up" underground press. The alternative press is often leftist, often concerned with building a better world, and usually deadly serious. WHOLE EARTH, the Boston PHOENIX, and MOTHER JONES are the sorts of things that fall in this classification. We don't deal with the alternative press too often.
Anarchist: One who believes that we would all be better off without government. Most anarchists know what the ideal true anarchist society would look like in detail. They all disagree about it. That's why the anarchists spend more time badmouthing each other than smashing the state.
APA: Amateur Press Association. A magazine jointly written by the subscribers. Generally each subscriber (or "member") is responsible for printing his own pages and mailing them to a central point, whence he gets copies of everyone else's pages. Each member pays his own printing and postage expenses, for the reward of participating in numerous conversations at the same time, something like a cocktail party in print. Some apas are general, with no purpose other than to have fun, while others deal with a specific subject like sex or Tarot cards.
Chapbook: A pamphlet of poetry or prose from a small publisher. Typically chapbooks are produced with loving care, available in small quantities, and either overpriced or unprofitable.
Church of the SubGenius: A manic faith based on the teachings of the late J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs, super-salesman, and dedicated to helping people reclaim the Slack that has been stolen from them. This bogus religion has caught on so well in certain sectors that the founders are always far, far behind on answering their mail and otherwise publishing, but when they do, it's worth the wait. More details for $1 from PO Box 140306, Dallas, TX 75214 [sic].
Constitutionalist: People generally of a conservative bent who feel that the government in this country is trampling wholesale over individual rights by ignoring the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Major areas of concern often include the IRS, monetary reform schemes, and novel strategies for legal defense. Some Constitutionalists branch out into areas like Tesla weaponry or anti-fluoridation. If you go far enough out to the fringes of the Constitutionalist movement, you'll come to white supremicists [sic] and other unsavory types, but the folks at the heart of the movement are OK .
Cyberpunk: A relatively new genre of science fiction which involves taking as sort of Highly Realistic And Gritty look at the trends of today and predicting a future of drug-soaked and heavily implanted computer programmer punk-rock proletarians as the background for your space opera.
Desktop Publishing: Desktop Publishing, abbreviated DTP, is a marketing term invented by someone who wanted to sell software. In reality, of course, nothing is being published on the desktop, unless the publisher has a desk big enough to hold a printing press. What the term refers to is creating a picture of a publication on the computer screen, printing it out (usually on a laser printer) and then taking it off to someone else to be reproduced. Well-used DTP can produce a very classy looking publication. Most people with this technology don't use it well.
Discordian: A believer in the idea that God is a crazy woman. As evidence the Discordian points to all the chaos in the world. May be a religion disguised as a joke or vice versa. See Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson's ILLUMINATUS! trilogy for more details. Also called Erisians.
Experioddica: A portmanteau word coined by Bob Grumman from "experimental", "periodicals" and "oddities". It refers to zines in various experimental literary and artistic genres.
FACTSHEET FIVE: Title of a short story by John Brunner. Actually the story is "Factsheet Six", and it originally appeared in GALAXY magazine in 1968. It's reprinted as part of Brunner's collection FROM THIS DAY FORWARD (Doubleday, 1972). The FACTSHEET in the story is a sort of psychic consumer magazine whose publisher is ultimately killed by a person who he has negatively reviewed - something which seems closer to what I'm doing all the time.
Fanzine: Anything published on a non-commercial scale. Often shorted to simply Zine. To some people, "fanzine" only means the sort of thing put out by the David Cassidy Fan Club, but they are Wrong.
Gemstone File: The real Gemstone File was a list of contributors to CREEP. The various versions that circulate these days in poor photocopies are conspiratorial mishmashes linking together all the major political figures of the Watergate era (and sometimes the Kennedy era as well) into one gargantual plot.
Indie: Independent music company - typically two guys with a few thousand bucks and at most one promising band. Refers more generally to any music that's not carried in the local Woolworth's.
Industrial: A genre of music which is played on chainsaws, old automobile body panels, and other non-traditional music. Often everything but rhythm is abandoned to the joys of spontaneous creation. Very hard to learn to like, but perfect for driving unwanted visitors from the house.
IRC: International Reply Coupon. You can buy them at your post office, and people in other countries can trade them at their post offices for stamps. This gives a relatively safe way to pay for things overseas without your having to buy their currency or their having to cash your checks. One IRC swaps for enough stamps to send the smallest possible letter back to the country of its origin.
Libertarian: It has been said that a libertarian is just a Republican who does drugs. Most libertarians are in favor of free enterprise and a minimal (but nonzero) amount of government. There are some libertarians who are anarchists, and just to confuse things, anarchists used to call themselves libertarians. To confuse things further, there are the civil libertarians, who worry more about rights than about profits. Anyhow, the libertarian movement in America seems to have peaked, so you might not have to worry about this kettle of fish for much longer.
Loc: Letter of Comment on a fanzine.
Marginal: Out of the mainstream. There is a small but persistent group in the small press that constitute the marginal milieu. Often it seems that they deliberately avoid becoming part of the mainstream on general principles, even where this makes no sense. Perhaps because of their isolation, marginals tend to be fervently convinced of the obvious rightness of their crackpot positions.
Minicomic: Like a comic book but much smaller and usually printed in black and white instead of color. Typical size is about 3" by 4", 8 or 12 pages, and the typical price is around a quarter.
Naturalists: This is what nudists call themselves when they want to avoid unsavory connotations.
Neoism: A deliberately self-conscious art movement which originated somewhere in England. All dedicated Neoists call themselves Monty Cantsin, publish magazines called SMILE, and play in bands called White Colours. There's something about the democratization of art involved in all this, as well as a great deal of spoofing of other art movements of this century.
Neopagan: Member of any number of loosely related religions that are involved in nature- or Goddess-worship, or in the resurrection of old gods. Bonded together by a search for alternatives to established, heriarchal [sic] religions. Often pantheistic or polytheistic not to mention fun-loving. Sometimes called Pagans.
RPG: Role-playing game. Dungeons & Dragons is the most notorious example, but there are lots of others.
Straightedge: A social movement which grew out of the hardcore punk arena. Straightedge punks don't do drugs or drink alcohol. Many avoid promiscuous sex, meat-eating, and fighting as well.
Tipped In: Refers to any insert to a zine that doesn't seem to belong there: a minicomic stuffed into a pfanzine, original postcards pasted to the pages, or whatever.
Thrash: A sub-genre of punk that is distinguished by playing one's instruments fast, loud, and not particularly musically.
Underground Press: The real thing, before it gets slick, co-opted, and profitable. The underground press comes out in small quantities, is often illegible, treads on the thin ice of unmentionable subjects, and never carries ads for designer jeans. The most vibrant source of writing in the country today.
The Usual: Traditional method of obtaining slanzines without sullying oneself with cash. Generally includes trading other zines, writing locs, contributing articles or art, or being recipient of a whim.
Vonu: A pseudoacronym from Voluntary and Not Vulnerable A method of obtaining individual liberty by escaping from society into the wilderness and only coming back for cheeseburgers and other necessary supplies. More preached than practiced, but for a while it was an important part of apocalyptic libertarian thought.
Zine: Short for "magazine" or "fanzine". My definition of a zine is more extensional than intentional; that is, I can hold up examples but I can't give a single defining property. Zines are magazines that are small enough that I can get the editor on the phone, for the most part; however, as I have spoken on the phone to editors at PENTHOUSE and FAMILY CIRCLE this definition is obviously not perfect.