The Railroad Semantics zine is Aaron Dactyl’s big round-up of all-things train culture. From trainhopping to hobo graffiti, maps to camps, Aaron gives the goods in a well-written style that’s both informative and poetic. In issue two, Aaron describes his summer riding freight trains between Portland and Northern California. Between the exhausting waits in sparse canyons and breezy sunny rides into Eugene, Aaron manages to make riding trains sound like a grand adventure. This volume also includes interesting local articles about the railroads: shipping trash to landfills by train, Junction City’s lawsuit against the rail company, and a landslide. Plus absolutely beautiful photography of pictures of hobo graffiti, scenic vistas, trains, and crusty punks!
Make It Last: Prolonging and Preserving What We Lovebridges the gap between life in a disposable culture and the basic skills needed to save money and live more sustainably. This book teaches you how to extend the lives of the things you love by repairing clothing, preserving home-grown food, and even repairing your kitchen sink. Raleigh Briggs takes her longtime commitment to community building through the DIY movement and shares her valuable experience with the reader through a conversational tone in her hand drawn and illustrated guide.
The Utne Reader described Raleigh’s work as “A forceful antidote to the cheapening of thrift culture: a meticulously hand-lettered, pint-size volume. When you raise your fist against the values that derailed our economy, lift this book in it.” Now you can save money and save the planet while saving your prized possessions!
24 Additional Pages of New Material! Four years after the first book, master railroad and freight tag historian Bill Daniel got the team back together to re-build the whole book with 24 new pages and the rest perfected once again. As Just Seeds said of the first edition, “In the age of endless and vacuous graffiti coffee table books with no written content and no sense of history beyond 1980s NYC subway cars, this is a massive breath of fresh air.” Gold.
It’s possible Bill Daniel is the most inspiring filmmaker of our day. With an impressive filmography that includes work on Craig Baldwin’s Sonic Outlaws and as Vanessa Renwick’s long-time collaborator, Daniel has crafted a remarkable book to go with his twenty-years-in-the-making Who Is Bozo Texino?—a documentary about modern day hobos, rail workers and a forgotten outsider subculture. It’s full of obscure railroad nostalgia—the result of a 25 year obsession with hobo and railworker folklore. Freight riding stories, interviews with hobos and boxcar artists, historical oddities and tons of photos of modern day boxcar tags are all presented in the guise of a vintage rail fanzine.
Punk is notorious for its loud music, aggressive attitude, and safety-pinned style. Less well known is the radical value system that has emerged hand in hand with the sound and aesthetic. Since the 1970s, punks have built their music, fashion, and lifestyles around core values of social justice, creative freedom, community integrity, fiercely democratic politics and do-it-yourself ingenuity. From journalism to psychology, graphic design to alternative fuel, bodybuilding to the Occupy movement, these interviews show just some of the ways that punk values continue to shape mainstream American life.
What was the inspiration to write about fixing things?
We were throwing around the idea of having a book about canning, I think. But there are a million books out there about canning. I started wondering why some preservation skills were so glamorous all of a sudden, while others went under the radar. So I decided to take that same great energy around canning, pickling and whatnot and expand it to include things like mending and home repair.
DIY always seems to be about creating and making, do you think the subject of maintaining has been overlooked?
Definitely. People see maintaining as more of a chore than anything else, which, to be fair, it often is. And it can be hard to create community around fixing things up. But humble as they are, those skills make you a great asset to the people in your life (and to yourself). They’re especially crucial when folks you know are struggling. Homemade food and clothes can be a huge comfort, but helping out with a broken window or a leaky toilet is an absolute godsend.
How did you learn all your tips, tricks, and methods?
I’d be lost without my lovely local library. My friends and family were a great resource, too–people have all sorts of secrets they use around their own homes. It’s really awesome to see all the McGyvers and repair whizzes come out of the woodwork.
What have you always wanted to learn how to do, but haven’t yet?
Play the cello. Edit video. Also, electrical stuff still confuses the crap out of me.
Do you think of your work as being feminist in nature, empowering women to fix faucets and doors?
I’m a big flaming feminist, but I don’t think of Make It Last as speaking exclusively to women. Women have always done the lion’s share of domestic work, including household repairs. But more and more, men and women alike are encouraged to buy more stuff instead of making simple and cheap repairs to the things they already own. That’s great for the companies that make those things, but not so great for the rest of us. I want to empower everyone to fix everything, or at least, to think about what they can fix and what they have to buy, and making an empowered decision that’s in line with their values.
!! The Simple History zine series is an ongoing attempt to bring unrecognized or otherwise mis-told histories to a modern audience of all ages. By presenting its facts objectively, Simple History’s goal is to share history without marring the facts by editorializing. Look for more of Gerlach’s Simple History titles in the near future.