Sure, sure, anybody can do a fanzine. That's why you see so many of the inky creations cluttering up the countertops of record stores and skateboard shops across the nation. Plow through a stack of them, though, and you'll soon learn that doing a fanzine well isn't so easy. The shortcomings are obvious: shoddy layouts and fuzzy graphics, good ideas obscured by stilted prose and garbled sentences, typos galore, and record reviews that too often disintegrate into first-person observations such as how many Rolling Rocks the writer guzzled at the Bouncing Turdballs show last month.
Fanzines abound in South Florida, too, and, expectedly, some of them are pretty good while just as many are . . . well, not so pretty good. The Hialeah-based Rational Inquirer is among the better rags devoted to the local and global punk phenomenon A a fountain of caustic commentary and underground ideologies published and edited by Nelson Magana and Kenny Sardina, with some editorial and distribution assistance from a friend in Germany.
The Inquirer's fifth and latest issue marks the quarterly's first anniversary. It should be available this week (for free in South Florida) at area record stores, including Yesterday & Today, and features Chapel Hill, North Carolina, gross-out punks Antiseen on the cover. Inside you'll find a profile on the local Star Crunch label (home of Kreamy 'Lectric Santa and Childress), as well as interviews with Against All Authority, the Meatmen, and the Lunachicks, among others. It's the first issue of the Inquirer to be published following a new distribution deal with International Periodical Distributors, which will spread about 1000 of the magazine's 7000 copies across the U.S. and Canada.
"We're mainly covering a type of music that had been neglected until last year, when Green Day had its success," explains Magana, a 25-year-old student at Miami-Dade Community College who also manages the school's computer lab. "It's the music we grew up with, which is a basic form of rock and roll that some people call punk rock A just the bare essence of a couple of people playing instruments, without much production. Very basic. And we try to give exposure to South Florida bands, try to raise a little flag saying we're here."
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Which Magana contends isn't always easy. The magazine's fourth issue (which came out in September) was supposed to be devoted only to Florida bands. Magana says indifference from the intended subjects forced him to shelve the idea. "We never thought it would be so difficult," he admits, surprise still in his voice. "We tried to interview bands and they wouldn't return our calls, or they'd show up drunk. We were trying to do something that would be as beneficial to them as it would be to us. It just doesn't make much sense.