Once upon a time, in the magical land of the 1990s, there was a DIY trend towards zines (independently-published booklets have been around for decades, but came into their own on the 1970s punk scene – the movement was popularized as the years went on).
Zines were (and still are, to a lesser extent) small, independently-published magazines that often dealt with an “underground” or otherwise off the beaten path topic, such as indie rock and punk bands, tattoos, sci-fi, crafts, poetry, and alternative lifestyles. Many zines were run off on smudgy Xerox machines in black and white with hand-stapled spines. While you can still find zines around, the popularity of the internet and the green movement have sent most zine-worthy content to the digital world.
You Idiot: The First Book by Nate Gangelhoff is a professionally printed and bound paperback collecting a handful of Gangelhoff’s zines from the early 00s. This volume collects the original four issues of “You Idiot,” the first issue of “Whiskey Plus,” an additional unreleased issue of each, plus “deleted scenes” and a couple of miscellaneous essays.
“You Idiot” is a zine dedicated largely to reviews and musings on really, really bad video games, books, music, TV shows and commercials. Really, really bad. Like 99 cent bin at the Goodwill shop bad. Stand out articles include ruminations on the life and career of Nick Carter – based off the biography by his mother; a “hard-hitting investigation” into Christian fundamentalists who can actually find evil in Christian rock music; a list of things you never, ever need, like Christian soldier pajamas, a self-stirring coffee mug, and a light bulb that text messages you when it burns out.
“Whiskey Plus” has a similarly irreverent tone, but is all music-related. The articles are largely reviews and largely reviews of mainstream music (Green Day, Lee Ann Rimes, Hoobastank), though I did enjoy the feature on “Songs Titled ‘Fuck You’”.
Gangelhoff’s writing is casual and lighthearted. He can find the humor in “what-the-fuck” topics like anti-drug 8-bit video games and cat astrology books. He sums up video games with titles like “Taco Bell Tasty Temple Challenge” and “Drac’s Night Out: Featuring Reebok’s The Pump” (yup, the world’s most famous vampire wears sneakers). He even sits through Hulk Hogan’s rap album, all so you can laugh about it but not torture yourself.
The “Whisky Plus” zines are a little on the average side for my tastes, but the stuff in “You Idiot” opened my eyes to a world of crap I never knew existed – but now realize I could never live without knowing. Nate, if you are reading this, please start a blog or something. I need more “Dollar Store Reviews.”