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Cracks in the Pavement / by Adrienne Marie Naylor

Papercut Zine Library loosely defines a zine as "an underground publication that is independently produced and self-published, typically photocopied," adding that "people make zines out if a desire to share stories, knowledge, thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Zines are made for love, not for profit." Currently located inside of Lorem Ipsum Books in Cambridge, Papercut is a lending library of over 14,000 zines, independent newspapers, magazines, and more, run by a non-hierarchical collective of volunteer librarians. It has been operating since March 2005. The Media is very excited to begin our recurring series of zine reviews penned by the librarians of Papercut. In each installment, a different librarian will choose a selection of the library's archives to discuss. If you’re intrigued enough to read the whole zine, dig up a copy at 1299 Cambridge Street in Inman Square.

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Zine: Cracks in the Pavement: a Zine About Nature, Place, Politix, edited by SL 

Review: Adrienne Marie Naylor

"There's nothing quite like a friend with FUCK CHRIST tattooed on their neck squeezing you & telling you that the world IS obviously fucked up," ranks memorably among the insights offered in Cracks in the Pavement, a 24-page zine published in Boston this past March. While this zine can be found among the environmental zines circulating at Papercut Zine Library, its biocentrist editor and contributor SL feels distanced from the term "environmentalist."

The ideology reflected here, biocentrism, is more radical than the mainstream notions of environmentalism. Biocentrism places value on all living things, including the non-human species of the world, and asserts that animals, plants, and all other living species are equally as valuable as humans in this world.

Love for the natural world and a visceral need to defend it from attacks, SL believes, constitute an impulse rather than an allegiance to political causes.  Not alone in feeling the turmoil and contradictions that nature-lovers feel living an urban environment, SL created Cracks in the Pavement to compile reactions and reflections from like-minded individuals raging against ecocidal infractions on our shared world.  

The editor finds the topic particularly well-suited to Boston, where, we are reminded, early settlers tore down hills and filled in bays and fens to more than triple the metropolis' square mileage, meanwhile the Charles River, despite improved water quality in the past twenty-five years, remains officially unswimmable.  Along with mischief, pain, and sublime enjoyment despite all cultural discouragement, frustrated glares at NO TRESPASSING signs and defiant incitements to enter, rather than ignore, every triangle of grassy public space characterize the zine's tone.

Submissions vary in scope, medium, and content.  Handwritten, typewritten, text pasted over drawings and photographs, or blandly computer-printed, some exclusively visual material, including an anti-establishment drawing, gives way to poetry.

A piece by A. Luban commemorates the life and death of Israel's radical Orthodox Jewish rabbi Menachem Froman; lifting up his love of the land, his work for peace and reconciliation, and his legacy on his disciples and neighbors, he inspires a Jewish saxophonist to start "Heaven's Field," an organic farm in the West Bank worked by Jews and Arabs alike, all echoing Froman's conviction that "the land doesn't belong to us.  We belong to the land."

A tribute to New England's sugar maples comprises no fewer than nine of the zine's twenty-four pages.  Background information about sugar maple trees and sugaring, or tapping and extracting sap from maple trees and boiling it down to syrup and sugar, turns into a DIY guide and resource list for undertaking one's own sugaring operation.  While the first six pages read as a benign romp through the trees, given the forum, one should not be startled to encounter the historical and political implications of maple syrup.  Here we learn that nineteenth century abolitionists made a conscious and political economic decision to use New England's maple sugar rather than imported sugar from slave plantations in Caribbean territories.  Acknowledging the decline of chattel slavery, the author astutely points to slavery's long shadow, and the atrocities committed against Caribbean land and labor to saturate Western, particularly US, markets with the refined sugar responsible for so many medical, dental, and mental conditions.  

Cracks in the Pavement grew from pain and crisis, pain felt in SL's contaminated body on a contaminated earth.  From a sickening alienation from consumer culture in the built environment, concomitant with a strengthening bond to a victimized earth and its poisoned denizens, Cracks in the Pavement weaves together narratives from neighbors looking for signs of life in an economic climate hostile to any but the most abysmal future.

The final page repeats Edward Abbey's exhortation to be "a reluctant enthusiast ... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic," imploring would-be eco-defenders to dedicate at least half of their lives to pleasure and adventure, enjoying shared resources under attack before "the bastards" have successfully annihilated them.

Simultaneously ardent and patient, Cracks in the Pavement's SL gazes at the embattled road ahead and gently observes, "Everywhere's within walking distance if you take the time."

A note from the editor of Cracks in The Pavement: “The theme for the second issue is 'Roots' and deadline is tentatively June 5th. Submissions should be sent to Copies go for $1-2 or trade. <3”

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