Falling in Love with Muses 101


The Muses Guide to Love and Romance is a great comic book styled zine that was created by the Krewe of Muses to fit in with their 2010 theme, Love and Romance. The Krewe of Muses is an all female carnival parade that rolls on the Thursday before Mardi Gras Day, and they are known for being very witty and sarcastic.  The Krewe of Muses actually throws this zine along their parade route just like so many beads and cups. The cover of this zine instantly caught my attention– there’s a vibrant red heart that is being pierced by the trademark icon for the Muses parade—a high heeled shoe.  The heart is bleeding drops of bright red blood on a black background. This zine resembles a comic book but is unlike any comic book zine you have ever seen because it is also a Mardi Gras souvenir! I caught it while standing on the uptown New Orleans parade route! The 21 rules and guidelines on how to succeed in love were also the titles of each float in the parade. I found myself laughing a lot while reading this zine because the rules for Romance 101 were written in a tongue in cheek manner. One section that I found very funny in this zine was the male-female dictionary. For example when one of the female cartoon character says, “Do you love me?” it really means, I’m going to ask for something.” I really enjoyed the Muses parade and look forward to catching more of the Krewe of Muses comic book zines. The dedication in the front of the zine captures the spirit of the 2010 parade:

“This book is dedicated in the spirit of good fun to those in need of advice and inspiration on behalf of formerly disappointed Muses everywhere.  Live. Learn.  Love. Happy Mardi Gras.”

Wait 5 minutes, it will change

I picked up this zine because of its title: “Wait 5 minutes, it will change.” This is a common saying in New Orleans in reference to the erratic weather patterns, and as a New Orleans native, I found this to be very compelling. A letter from the zine creator—with an apt instruction to “Start Here”—greets the reader when they open the zine, declaring that the works within are dedicated to the “two-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast, and to the city of New Orleans.” Lewis Wallace, the creator, tries to explain the two themes of the zine: New Orleans reconstruction and life as a trans person. While I loved both themes in themselves, I was hard pressed to see the connection between the two subjects throughout the zine. It seemed as if the pieces were written with no intention of being displayed next to each other. Overall, though, I enjoyed the writing and the use of mixed media—photography, maps, poetry, and prose—and I was greatly moved by the works presented within this piece.

–Theodore Grahams

Keep Loving, Keep Fighting

“I wanted to go home and it was only just beginning to occur to me that what I missed would probably never exist in the same way.”  “Keep loving, keep fighting” by, appropriately, Hope, tells the story of a group of neighbors in the Marigny and their Katrina experience:  eating rationed FEMA food, repairing bicycles to avoid feeling purposeless in a post-apocalyptic setting, fending off feral dogs. My favorite part is the photography, which definitely makes this zine, for instance the photo of a young woman knee-deep in water, splashing and laughing.

-Lizzie Lanyard

Keep Loving, Keep Fighting #7/ I Hate This Part of Texas #7

Keep Fighting, Texas No. 7 is a heartbreakingly honest zine of two friend’s lives after Hurricane Katrina. Switching between the two narrators (you can tell who’s speaking by the different fonts), this zine chronicles the anger, despair, loss, courage, and hope these friends and the New Orleans natives around them experience when struggling to remain in a city that people are constantly giving up on. This zine really shows the dire conditions that John and Hope, and all other New Orleanians alike, had to experience when trying to rebuild their lives. Not only were many not able to physically live in their own houses, but they lost records, photographs, and things saved over the years, endured high rents from limited housing, saw most of their friends move away, and suffered from loss of close friends and family. John and Hope emphasize that not only were these conditions apparent just after the Hurricane, but years later.

What I loved the most about this zine was how honest it was. John and Hope do talk about hope for the future of New Orleans, but they also tell us how they really coped.  Tears, fights with friends, fear, feelings of hopelessness, drinks, lots of drinks, and all. But the most amazing part is even after everything they’ve been through they still keep moving on. They deal with the trash on the streets, the constant loss of electricity, the increased crime, (and even the house that was still on top of that car a YEAR LATER), all for their love of New Orleans. They can’t abandon it. Instead they Keep Loving, Keep Fighting.

Favorite Quote: “You leave bits of yourself, constantly. Cells die and slough off, little bits of skin and hair come off and are swept under carpets, into the cracks of the sidewalks and the corners of rooms. The longer you are somewhere, the more of you gets left there, you are a part of what makes up that place. It works the other way, too. The air, the sounds and smells, the things that rub off onto you and are absorbed through your skin. The way people talk and you start talking like that, too. The way the sun effects your pigment. You become a part of your place, and place becomes you.”

-Mila Monroe

Rocket Queen Volume II: Tales of Restrained Pillage

Review by Mila Monroe:
After I read the first couple lines of Rocket Queen (written by Janet) and realized what it was about, I think my mouth hung open for about a minute. A zine written by a stripper about her pole dancing lifestyle? I didn’t know if I was appalled by the bold moves of zinester Janet, or excited to see what the rest of Rocket Queen would be like. However, after the first page I was already intrigued by the intelligence of this women who had not only made such a drastic decision about her life’s occupation, but who also wanted to share her story with the world.

Even though this zine succeeds in debunking a lot of negative generalizations about “dancers” (i.e. what she actually does in the VIP room), Janet tries not to glamorize her job. Just like the darkly contrasted pictures that give the zine a shady atmosphere and underground feel, she tells of the horrible moments, the sleezy men, the feelings of violation and exploitation, and of the “occupational hazards” of being a dancer. What I thought was interesting was that she feels like she exploits men more than she feels that men exploit her. She talks of the embarrassment and sadness she has felt for taking drunk men’s money just as much, if not more than, confessing to be embarrassed or hurt by men.

Although many people will be skeptical about this zine and this woman in the beginning, it actually might change their views on “dancers” and make them see these women as actual people for the first time.

Review by Lizzie Lanyard:
Rocket Queen has gone to New Orleans, and the almost-cheery tone of Vol. I worn thin is replaced by a jaded voice:  “This machine that runs on greed and domination keeps churning out miserable men.” The zine also explores the history of the sex trade in New Orleans; indeed, the front cover is a photograph taken by Bellocq in the 1890s of a female prostitute in the infamous Storyville District of New Orleans, stronghold of this city’s sex trade for many years. If you are interested in the sex trade in New Orleans, past or present, this is a very intimate look at its wiles.

New Orleans…My Love

Did you know that after Hurricane Katrina a woman walked so long through the floodwater that she had to leave her infant on top of a trash can so that she could continue to walk her and her toddler to safety? Did you know a nurse witnessed doctors commandeer hospital helicopters “to evacuate themselves instead of the patients that had been brought two blocks and up two flights of stairs while clinging to life”? Did you know the federal government decided to fund 100,000 mobile homes instead of giving that money to reinvest in New Orleans by “repairing and rebuilding homes that have sat on this land for 150 years”? What I’m trying to say is, if you want to know what Hurricane Katrina was really like for a New Orleanian, this zine, or personal account of a Big Easy resident, Shelley, will tell you.

For someone like me who was a little too young to understand the actual consequences and effects of Hurricane Katrina at the time, this was a real eye-opener. Not only does it give the general picture of who was at fault, or the things that went wrong, but it also gives a more personal story; a story that makes you feel what these people felt, and understand the seemingly impossible hardships that they went through. This play-by-play style story had me tearing up before the Hurricane even hit. From the moment Shelley is deciding if she should even evacuate, to her volunteering in Mobile, to her finding a temporary home in Lafayette, and finally to her rebuilding her life in New Orleans, this zine really shows this persons true love for New Orleans and reminds us of our own love for this city. Not only does this zine offer true stories of tragedy, sympathy, empathy, love, and lending a hand in times of trouble, but it also offers actual descriptions of the unbearable heat, the toxic waste, the abandoned pets, and the seemingly apocalyptic wasteland that the city looked like after the disaster. In my opinion, everyone in the country should read this zine, or personal story; not only to understand what happened in those first couple of months after Katrina, but to understand how far the city has come, and to be reminded that it still has a ways to go to be fully recovered.

Favorite quote: “For those of you who don’t know me or others from New Orleans, there are few places that inspire the type of devotion to a city like New Orleans does. It’s the kind of place people love to tell stories about. But they are different than tales of other cities. Like the difference between telling stories about some acquaintance and telling stories about a long time lover. They are more close, intimate.”

-Mila Monroe

Review by Sentaniz Palmer

Besides “Emergency,” which doesn’t only take place in New Orleans, “New Orleans…My Love” is my favorite zine written about New Orleans after Katrina.  Or, as my cousin would say, “that K word.”  This zine is very emotional and heart-wrenching, as you would expect.  The cover shows a woman with a look of pained grief on her face standing in front of a door, which I assume is her home.  The stories of loss, belonging, community, hope, longing, desperation, and fight are common when talking about the hurricane, but there is always another tale that will shock or inspire you.  This zine includes the account of a woman who carried her toddler and her infant through the flood for hours before she realized she could only make it with one of them.  She then left her baby and kept walking with the toddler.  I had goose bumps while reading this zine.  While this zine gave me chills, it also is a very good reminder of the resilience of the city of New Orleans and its people, the tragic and beautiful process of getting back up, repairing the damage and being strong to continue life as best you can.  The author compares the I-10 right after Katrina to “a highway with an end like the one on the cover of that Shel Silverstein book Where the Sidewalk Ends.”  This ominous image gave way to entries about the people after the storm, the evacuees in the shelters dancing and blasting music, getting along with one another and appreciating so greatly what they had left in life.  I highly recommend this zine to anybody who cares about New Orleans.

-Sentaniz Palmer

Emergency #5: The Ocean and the Hills

Review by Sentaniz Palmer:

I began reading this zine with some trepidation.  I have to admit, I judged this zine by its cover with the artistic but dark looking bottle and “deep” quote and the skeletons on the back cover.  But once I started reading, I didn’t want to put this one down!  “Emergency” is a perzine, with a political tone and at times a nostalgic feel, but it is written so well and touches on topics that are very emotional but easy to relate to.  After some research, I found out that the author of this zine, Ammi Keller, aka “Ammi Emergeny” is the Nancy Packer Lecturer in Continuing Studies at Stanford!

Ammi uses a lot of metaphors like broken glass and the shards left over, going to war, and sidewalks to illustrate how she feels about her life and the things going on around her.  The zine is told in a two-part split format where each section includes “The Ocean” and “The Hills.”  Ammi mentions her time spent in New Orleans, but most of the zine is written about a time in her life when she was living in New York City.  She also recalls her East Coast suburban upbringing, and reminisces about some of her past in California.  She speaks on the subject of living in different places by saying “in New Orleans I’m a square, but in New York I’m a full blown eccentric.”

This zine is at times thoughtful, dark, depressing, funny, and informative.  This is one of the few zines I’ve read that actually made me think for a while after I put it down and reflect on my own life.  I feel that the descriptions provided by Ammi were true and yet I had never thought of these exact examples before.  There were a few times when I thought that she was trying to be too “deep,” which just made it seem kind of corny, but this was not the norm.  In this zine, you will meet many of the colorful characters in Ammi’s life, who she admits often act more like characters than people.  She adds some music, movie and book reviews in between the stories, which also include stories within themselves.  Throughout the issue, there are sparsely distributed pictures, clip art, drawings, and borders of different textures such as brick and fabric.  I was too interested in the words to really notice any of the physical characteristics of this zine though.  Ammi writes about growing old, responsibility, identity, gender, moving, and belonging.  She explains her childhood and constantly mentions that it sounds like she was a privileged little girl, but that in fact that was not the case; she does admit that she was exceedingly normal and had an uneventful upbringing in middle-class suburbia, and maybe because of this she has always searched for a place to belong.

-Sentaniz Palmer


Review by Mila Monroe:
Vampires, monsters, and drag shows. Not exactly the type of things you would use to personify or describe gender. Yet Ammi Emergency isn’t afraid to think out of the box in her zine, Emergency #5: The Ocean and the Hills, and enjoys sharing her revolutionary thoughts with readers. Ammi seems to question generally accepted norms like gender throughout the zine as she pans back and forth between her constant move from New Orleans to New York City and frequently looks backwards to her repressed teen-age years.

“There is constant traffic between desires,” a quote repeated throughout the text, points out an ongoing woman v. self, internal conflict throughout the zine. Trying to accept the fact that she is becoming an adult, deciding what her gender is, and switching back and forth between an activist and a defeated person are just a few conflicts that we see zinester Ammi go through in “Emergency.”  Although “Emergency #5” has a pessimistic tone about the narrators never-ending poverty, her self-destructive friends, and our country’s corrupt government, in the end it reminds us how resilient we, as humans, can be, by saying, “But cliffs continually rise up to meet us or fall away beneath us, and we find a way across. We do it. We do it all the time.”

-Mila Monroe

Review by Tori MacManus
In the time I had, I was only able to make it through about half of this zine, but next time I get a chance to sit down and read a zine, this will certainly be my first choice. The author discusses many issues faced by both the LGBTQ population and everyone else through book reviews, movie reviews, odd little anecdotes about her friends and housemates, and actual direct discussions of the topics in question. For instance, she uses a movie review to reflect on the suicide of a friend and the disturbing moment of realization of our own mortality. She uses a drag show created by her and her friends to demonstrate the difficulty of defining gender and gender roles, even in such situations. (From this story, I actually learned a new personal pronoun – ze.)