Tag Archives: small towns

Scranton Zinefest 2014

Sat 7 June 2014, 1pm-7pm
Tripp Park Community Center
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton Zinefest

scranton zine fest

This is the fourth year of the Scranton Zinefest, originally inspired by Ruthless Zine, a local arts and activism zine from late 2008. The zinefest this year included a music schedule as well as spoken word readings to further promote local artists in the festival program.

High Hopes: Spending the first half of my twenties in Willimantic, CT and Lubbock, TX, I have a lot of affection for small town punk.

When you live in a big city where there are so many things going on, it’s easy to dismiss punk as fashion or another clique even if you participate in it. In little cities and towns, often the punk showspace is the only all ages place (or the only place) where you can see a show if not the only cultural institution in that town.

I think of amazing shows I’ve been to and played in Manassas, VA or Leverett, MA as proof that DIY punk can transform an otherwise nondescript community. This being my mindset as I traveled to Scranton Zinefest.

Dashed: Aforementioned high hopes

The venue reminded me of: A church banquet hall

The pros: Scranton hospitality. It’s not famous but it should be. I asked a question about food allergies in my registration (which I filled out on a Saturday night) and got an answer within 10 minutes. A week before, we got a voicemail confirming our reigstration.

The day of we were greeted at the door with goodie bags including some candy and pretzels, tabler information (schedule, table assignment, etc), an ID badge of the “business conference variety”), and a crossword puzzle. This was the best idea ever.

The first hour before a zinefest always seems to be spent rushing to give zinesters programs and buttons and direct them to the table. Wrapping all the things you have to hand out in an attractive package seemed to make the process flow so much more smoothly. A+

The cons: The noise. Okay–so part of the charm of zine fests is getting a chance to hang out with nationwide friends who you pretty-much only get to see at these things. Furthermore, while zinefests are about commerce, they’re about commerce of a particularly congenial, loving sort.

I sell zines to meet people and to talk with them about OCD and other mental illnesses. All of these activities involve a certain baseline of quiet. Entering into the venue, a TV played (admittedly, some pretty great) music videos through the speakers (Bonus points for Jerusalem by Susie Sioux and Teenage Dream by The Undertones).

The zinefest opened with a poetry reading that lasted for about an hour. At one point, the poet onstage shushed the zinesters talking in hushed tones. This was followed by a variety of performances by “bands” (shifting associations of high school and college-aged kids often containing some of the same members and performing mostly covers). Basically, this was about 3 hours of performance that went on while folks were trying to sell zines.

I get the “why”–they had moved the fest from downtown Scranton to the edge of the city cutting into possible “foot traffic”–poets and bands and the like would bring their friends. The problem was that it put poets, bands, and zinesters in an odd situation where we all had to worry about being rude to each other leaving none of our work fully appreciated.

The best moment at the zine fair was: The ride up. My travelmates, JC (of Collide) and Moose (of Moose Lane) and I made up a romantic comedy starring George Clooney, J-Lo, and Aziz Anisari that we are working on storyboarding and making into zine form. I blame Rutters-brand “Extremely Cafinated” coffee.

Best spent money on the day: Postcards! Joe (of Displaced Snail) sold me a book of dinosaur postcards (he found public domain pictures of dinosaurs and took a perforator to them–I didn’t know that such devices existed) and Tom Dewing (of Zombie Soy Bot) sold me some awesome poscards as well.

The most unusual aspect of the day: The great deal of older patrons. (50+eligible-for-discount-coffee-at-Dunkin-Doughnuts-type ‘elder’) patrons. I strongly suspect these were parents of some of the organizers.

Unlike many of the Scranton Punx, they seemed really excited to hear about what I was doing. Some had friends, family members, and children who had mental health issues that they were going through, and one lady in particular shared the story of her husband’s brain injury. Having a mother with MS, we had a good, long heart-to-heart.

Most awkward moment: Being shusshed by poets.

-DK