I Hate This Part of Texas #5
by John Gerken Author
This issue contains things that will make you laugh, smile, and cry - visiting friends in the hospital, the early morning, the story of the zine's title, picking up your friends shifts at work, Shelley's annual trips to India, and organizing drag shows. But the real gem of this issue is the story of teaching 9 to 15-year-olds how to fix bikes. It transcends the obvious and covers all kinds of education - homophobia, identity, feminism, and to question what we mean when we say "community".
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Comments & Reviews
"This magazine seems to follow from the Journalsong type of overly emotional and verbose writing. However, unlike Journalsong, what John et al do with this issue of the zine is make their exploits into a narrative that is compelling and interesting, to say the least. The magazine is not just text, as it mixes together typewritten, computer-generated, and hand-written text among some very fulfilling and fun drawings. This is a perzine, for those that might be interested; while the zine may be named “I Hate This Part of Texas”, the action takes place in New Orleans. Queer issues are covered, as well as John (the main writer’s) work for “Earn A Bike”, a program that teaches youth to build their own bike, which they can then have afterwards. There are a number of pieces in this issue that are existential and really do not have any real life referent, but these pieces are present for the fans of the style and are not too long for those that want something a little more realistic. The writing is dense but will reveal a number of different hidden treasures for individuals that can give “Texas” time. Unlike a number of other perzines, this does not presume any previous knowledge about any of the authors. There is enough in the way of information that readers can go into this issue of the zine and actually feel as if they knew the staff in real life. For three dollars, this is a magazine that should be searched out and picked up with all alacrity."
"Filled with art and collage and lots of prose, John talks about life as a queer punk and bike activist. This is a great example of how a good zine, (or any good art or literature for that matter) can cut right across cultural boundaries and allow us to see how those we may think are so different from us really aren’t so different from us. John’s writing is sensitive and intelligent, and while some parts begin to flow poetic, clarity is never sacrificed; you know exactly what he saying every step of the way. Very eclectic combination of topics, but you get a nice sense of who he is. Written in New Orleans pre-Katrina."
John Gerken single-handedly changed entire week into a compassionate love-fest with life. Hey, thanks!
I Hate This Part of Texas #5 – Equal parts humorous, poignant, and downright honest, this is the work of New Orleans based John Gerken, who opens his latest issue with a tip of his hat to the kitty cats that live under his house and survived Katrina; which is no small feat! Neither is this zine, which captures the private beliefs of what so many love about the Big Easy – Gerken himself. John flushes the toilet on consumerism, community, and consumption – all through the eyes of a man just trying to make it in the city that care forgot.
I Hate This Part of Texas – This zine succeeds on several levels, all of which can be accredited to the raw, honest, and poetic flair of Gerken’s writing. A young queer punk romantic from New Orleans, Gerken fills his zine with scenes from his life, dipping into gender queer drag shows, trips to India, and quiet moments at the seaside. Mixing in bits of queer politics, earnest stories about growing up sissy, and more abstract poetics, gives his zine a unique and personal flair. It is also littered with sketches and drawings that remind me of a twisted Edward Gorey punk graphic novel in the best ways possible. Completed over a period of months and salvaged from New Orleans before the hurricane, this is a pretty damn amazing portrait of fringe life in New Orleans and completely worth hunting down. The gorgeous silkscreened cover of the zine survived being submerged in floodwaters and the threat of mold, which gives just holding the zine a hard, surreal edge that matches Gerken’s writing to a tee. A beautiful portrait of a time and place and person whose cards are on the table for you to see; what more could you ask for?
Zinester John Gerken maintains a level-headedness not often found in underground publishing. He is able to keep life itself in perspective and still write entertaining, thoughtful stories. The pieced-together writings of I Hate This Part of Texas are at their core philosophical, asking questions of life and death. Gerken’s writings run the gamut of emotions. His poetry like entries are at once empathetic, nostalgic, angry, and appreciative of life’s moments.
This personal zine comes out of New Orleans, not Texas, about a punk interested in drag, bicycles, discussing love, queerness, education, human equality, community, life & death. It also features writings from Shelley Jackson (Chainbreaker) and Travis Fristoe (America?). The covers are silkscreened and look very nice, as do the drawings by the author, John Gerken. I had never read this zine before but I enjoyed it a lot. It reminds me a bit of Doris. There are a lot of questions and points to consider various issues and clarify one's own values. He brings up some important issues that need to be discussed more in our communities.
Any zine that features a silk-screened cover that survived the flooding of New Orleans has to be given a chance. Fortunately, the content of IHTPOT is as good as the cover. Most of the writing is in the personal/political genre with stories about gender, dancing, sexuality, injury, and fragility, and lots of bicycle righteousness. Very well presented and created.
I'd read some of John Gerken's writing in other publications and always liked it, but never read a whole issue of his zine. Well, I read this one and liked it quite a lot. This is the Special Disaster Cover Issue (John lives in New Orleans), but it's not about Katrina; it's just that the silkscreened covers for this issue survived the floodwaters produced by the hurricane. However, there is a thread of beginnings running through this issue. John writes about serious issues like identity, community, and what it means to be alive. But there's a lot of hope in these pages, and a lot of possibility. A few contributions from other folks appear here and there between John's thoughts: Ally Green offers a beautiful pictorial essay on beginnings; Shelley of the excellent bike zine Chainbreaker reports on her annual trip to India; Hope of Keep Loving Keep Fighting writes about a lot in a short space; and Travis of America? shares his personal take on beginnings and endings. This is definitely one of the good ones.
In the fifth issue of I Hate This Part of Texas -- a New Orleans-based zine that takes its name from some inspiring graffiti at a rest stop in Oklahoma -- John Gerken examines what it takes to put things back together in communities whose foundations have been shaken. Part of a New Orleans DIY collective, Gerken finds beauty in new beginnings, in teaching middle school students bike repair and safety, and in creating spaces for personal transformations. His friend Shelley Jackson also contributes an essay about her yearly sojourns to India, where she practices Buddhism and quiet meditation, and her subsequent returns to New Orleans, finding joy in maintaining balance in her boisterous neighborhood and bike shop. The essays in this issue call for open ears, community activism, and hope. "Do what you do and bring it into the world," Gerken writes. "Interact. Check out what other people are doing. To share culture is to create community. Talk to you neighbors."
Personal zine is the order of the day. The contents here are of the stories and thoughts variety, with some pieces about gender, death, bars, and other topics. There are pages full of illustration and text, and screened covers too.
Talk about a varied zine! This kid has a number of stories about being a cross-dressing, bi-sexual dude living in New Orleans, getting loaded, fixing bikes, and celebrating the crazy shit they do in that town. So that alone ought to be enough to fill up all these pages. But then it switches gears halfway through to a friend who talks about her adventures in going to India and worshipping at the temple of the Dali Lama. It was entertaining (and maybe even a bit enlightening!).