People always say that it must be hard being a punk rocker from Boise, Idaho (which is where I'm at), but it seems to me that I have it easy, at least when it comes to the accessibility of punk rock. I have a record store a dozen blocks from my house that carries most anything I'd want, and plenty of bands come through and play at the local all-ages club. To me, it seems like it must be REALLY hard to be a punk rocker from anywhere SMALLER than Boise, Idaho.
What the hell does that have to do with the internet? I'll tell you -- the net connects small town punk scenes with their big city counterparts. The net is truly creating McLuhan's "Global Village", more than any other form of modern communication ever could. You can explore the net and find your way into record shops that carry the music you want to listen to, underground magazines that share your ideals, show listings for other places so that you can plan your next roadtrip, and even like-minded people to chat with, all without leaving the privacy of your own home. (Note that I am not suggesting, however, that you should not leave your home or should spend all your time on the net. You should be out creating your own local scene, as well as exploring the scene that is connected through the wonders of modern computing -- so there.)
I had hoped to have a very comprehensive guide of mail-order shops for you this time around, but unfortunately a very evil thing happened to my computer. The hard drive crashed, and took all of my research wiith it. (Hey man, backups AIN'T punk!) By the way, I use an IBM compatible because it is very DIY -- I can stick new parts into it and take old parts out of it and mix and match and end up fucking up my machinery worse than a virus ever could. That's what happened here. I stuck a new CD-ROM drive in my computer, and it interfered with my hard drive, causing it to crash. Anyway, I got my computer back up and working the day before this column was due, so I collected as many interesting sites as I could aaand browsed through them quickly to find the best. (This means that if you sent me your site address to check out and it isn't here, chances are I lost it in the disaster.) Anyway, let's go record shopping!
One of the first places I discovered was Vacuum Records, run by MRR's very own Timojhen Mark (I hope he doesn't mind that MRR has claimed ownership of him, but MRR owns the souls of all who get involved with it, or didn't you know that?). Vacuum "offers foreign record distribution in the US. at showwwws and through the mail. By making these records available, it is possible to reverse the tide of 'cultural imperialism'... since US. records seem to have no problem getting everywhere, there's no reason it couldn't work in both directions." Well, they also have their catalog up on the net, and they carry more than just foreign stuff. You still have to send your order in via the postal service, but at least you can see what to order and how much it will cost you. You'll find Vacuum at http://www.interlog.com/~tedwong/vacuum.html.
Another cool place to order records and punk paraphernalia is Anok & Peace out of Columbus, Ohio. Their catalog is online, though I'm not sure how often it is updated. Anok & Peace sells T-shirts, patches, stickers, books, and music at not-for-profit prices. Most of it seems to be PC crusty punk stuff, so if that is your scene, this is probably a good place to look. The url for Anok & Peace is http:// www.infinet.com/~egsmith/anokpeace/ .
Royal Flush Records also have their cccatalog online, and they sell punk and ska stuff, and have a few links to other interesting places as well. It's worth your time to check out their site too. Do some price comparing, and remember to check to see if prices include postage. Royal Flush is found at http://www.tufts.edu/~zbrooks/ .
Lumberjack Records also has a catalog on the net. At the time of this writing, they were located at the Caulfield Records web site, but they have promised their own site sometime in the near future (possibly by the time this issue hits the streets) and will have credit card orders available, so that you can do everything directly online. Anyway, check out the link to Lumberjack at Caulfield, and while you're at it, check out the other stuff that Caulfield has avvailable at their web site. There's some interesting stuff to look at there. You'll find it all at http://www.action.com/bernie/ .
Well, there are the best of the punk record catalog sites I found. Remember, though, that it is often cheaper to buy something directly from the band or their label than it is to go buy through a mail-order catalog. The catalogs are convenient, however, because you can get a bunch of stuff all from one address, and not worry about the bands flaking on sending you your stuff.
In addition to the record catalogs, I discovered that Wow Cool has a web site for their zine distribution company. You can browse their zine and comic catalog at http://www.eden.com/wowcool/ . Their selection seems somewhat limited, but maybe you can find something you're looking for.
Speaking of zines, here are a few I discovered this time around that you might want to check out. Factsheet Five has been available on the net for a long time, and is still the best source for finding out about otherrr zines. You can get almost all of the text from their latest issue online. Factsheet Five, for those of you who are unaware, is a zine full of zine reviews. It is a great resource, and it's really cool that they put all of the information they charge foooor in paper form on the net for free. Get the text from the latest issue at http://www.etext.org/Zines/F5/ .
Spontaneous Combustion zine also has a web version available, and it contains interviews from their most recent issue, record reviews, and links tto other punk stuff. Find it at http://www.interaccess.com/scol/ . Spontaneous Combustion calls itself a cross between MRR and Flipside, and, by looking at the interviews, one can sort of see why. Issue 17 is online here, featuring interviews with JFA, The Offspring, Pigface, Seven Seconds, Bollweevils, and New Bomb Turks. It's not exactly entirely underground punk.
If you know how to read German, or, if you don't, want to check out a site that you won't be able to read, Trust fanzine has a web page. It is entirely in German, and it is at http://planetsound.com/media/trust . The thing that really bums me out about this page is that it seems to include very few photos. At least with the paper issues of Trust that I've seen, there was stuff to look at. Of course, getting photos onto the net isn't as easy as placing them in a fanzine. Hopefully they'll add some nifty stuff to look at sometime soon. Apparently the main domain where they are located -- Planetsound -- is a German based web service that caters to the music/zine/etc. scene. Most of it is in German, but check it out at http://planetsound.com .
One place that doesn't refer to itself as a webzine, though it probably should is Two Cups Water, One Cup Rice. 2CW1CR features rants and articles on music, food, television, toys and more, and has classified ads, links, and real-time chat on the web. It's fun to browse and to look at, and they are looking for contributors. Check it out at http://www.mindspring.com/~danpanic/2cups.html. or better yet, get involved!
As I've written before, there is an entire world of punk rock out their on the net. If you are in Nowheresville, USA or wherever, it might just keep you sane. Check it out, get some records and zines, and maybe start your own scene, whether it exists in real life, or as a spot on the internet. Do it. As always, I can be reached at email@example.com or via snail-mail at PO Box 752; Boise ID 83701. Also, all past, present, and future netpunk columns are found at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html . See you on the net.
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