NO APOCALYPSE: Punk, Politics And The Great American Weirdness - Al Burian {Microcosm, 196 pages}
Most readers will know that just about 80% of all regular zines feature columnists. Most readers will also know that they can be hit or miss affairs, depending on the reader’s perspective, the column content and, most importantly, whether the columnist can actually write with flair, wit, imagination and a bit of confrontation. Al Burian is the author/ editor of Burn Collector zine and this book compiles columns that he wrote between 2000 and 2007 for Punk Planet, Heartattack and The Skeleton. And yes, his prose do contain those previously mentioned traits.
It’s the Punk Planet columns that start the book (at least, after a short introduction) and also make up the biggest percentage of the book, totalling 19 (Heartattack comes in second with seven while The Skeleton offers just three). It’s clear Burian is a bit of a nomadic soul as a lot of these stories occur in not just different towns but different countries. The fact he is also a touring musician (with bands like MILEMARKER, CHALLENGER and HELLBENDER), with some of the columns being tour-based, aids to the changing locales. We get stories from Italy, Chicago, Las Vegas, Manitoba and a Christmas bus ride to Burian’s home state of North Carolina at Christmas.
His goading of Punk Planet’s pastel colours always raise a chuckle, as does a column lambasting his failed attempt to get fired from Heartattack following the censoring of fellow columnist, Ravi Grover. Elsewhere we get tales of hitchhiking in rural Washington State, voting, food, Y2K, war, the qualities of BLUE OYSTER CULT and a flight on which Gwen Steffani from NO DOUBT was on also.
Burian certainly writes with verve; there is humour (much of it self-deprecating), insight that isn’t necessarily straight forward (and all the better for it) and a way with words that is imminently readable and entertaining.
He is also a bit of an artist, with a comic strip included and some neat drawn graphics toward the back of the book.
Who will this appeal to? Well, those who enjoy columns in zines will certainly find plenty to laugh at and contemplate here. Those who appreciate pithy, incisive and direct writing also. And anyone who is a columnist, or aspiring columnist, should definitely pick this up to get some tips on how to create prose that hold the attention and write with zeal on a myriad of subject matter.
And yeah, those broad-minded Punks too! (30.05.19)