When I first held I Hate This Part of Texas in my hands, I was confused. The title made the zine sound like it was full of pessimistic stories and feelings of hatred, yet the bright yellow cover and flying bird made it seem like it was full of tales of hope. As I began reading, I found that zinester, John Gerken, actually combines both the good and the bad into an honest and truthful confession of his modest but interesting life in New Orleans. He squeezes all the wisdom of one novel into a zine, seeming to become a sociologist, poet, progressive educator, artist (some funny and funky drawings!), and spiritual advisor. His stories include reflections and thoughts on new beginnings, reckless bike riding, visiting friends in the hospital, broken hearts, odd jobs, his homosexuality, drag queen shows, eccentricity, DIY communities, and spirituality equalizing love (just to name a few!). Gerken also includes excerpts of other zinesters and quotes from friends and philosophers alike. Although it seems like a connection of random thoughts and mind explosions, in the end it comes together as a self-evaluation of his own journey towards happiness and self-discovery, which, seemingly successful, encourages us to embark on our own.
Favorite Quote: “Disappointment, unspoken desires, forgotten daydreams, wants unfulfilled and needs neglected. It’s part of the background, as it were, the sounds you always hear but have stopped listening to. It’s part of everyday. But there is also resilience, a determination to make do and get through and live with it, if not to come out on top and dancing. There is secret joy and hidden beauty, the tiniest glimmers of imagination and possibility and everything. Chance encounters and bits of music.”