"Rant Against the Underground Press Conference"

© 1995 by Andersen Silva

So here we are, at the Underground Press Conference... Tell me, do you really consider this event "underground" in any way? I hope not. That would be lamentable.

The few really "underground" 'zines most likely won't be represented here. Their editors either won't have the cash or the desire to come. Which is not to put down those editors who ARE here in Chicago. I mean, hey, I came, didn't I??? It's just that we should realize that "underground" as used here is a farce. You don't charge $25 for admission to an "underground" event. You don't plan "underground" panels months in advance.

No, "independent" is probably a better word. The Underground Giraffe, a newsmagazine that a co-worker and I put out a few years back while we were employed by Toys "R" Us, really WAS underground. We criticized and lampooned company policies and personnel, and we were threatened with possible termination; legal action was even hinted at. There was an element of danger in publishing UG that I vaguely miss.

My current publication, the Extreme, is a more sober and intelligent read. Where UG was just a violent reaction to an oppressive (and sometimes mindless) bureaucracy, the Extreme is a venue for open-minded dialogue. I will print any viewpoint in any format, as long as it is literate, coherent, and intelligently written. Of course, I reserve the right to attack any viewpoint with which I personally disagree, so that the reader can make an enlightened decision.

Free speech and free thought are very dear to me. 'Zines are an awesome forum for people to vent their opinions; most, however, don't have much more to say than "I hate school" or "My boyfriend sucks" or "Die capitalist pigs." OK, that's not fair, or even terribly accurate, but it irks me to hear people boast of how "punk" or "underground" they are and then not utilize their positions as 'zine editors to make people think. Punk is not about mohawks or skin jobs or loud guitars or Doc Martens or any of that crap: punk is freedom from society's cliches. It's the ability to put out a 'zine and print something no one else wants to print, and maybe no one else wants to read. It's playing your own music regardless of what the audience wants to hear, and convincing them you're good; it's wearing that hairstyle that was out two years ago because, dammit, it FEELS good! Most people who claim to be punk don't get it at all. Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins are still punk, but Mick Jones just ain't.

Many of the 'zines here this weekend will not exist a year from now. Actually, most of the ones that endure are the slick ones that can afford to run 64 pages or print color covers or take out lots of ads. We smaller, poorer 'zines must struggle and prove Darwin right.