It’s funny how remoteness from ‘the centre’ creates a timelag, or how it used to. Mattilda notes that by the time she had left high school, PP’s politics felt old hat. Me, I didn’t discover it until one fateful day in 1999, in my second job after uni, sub-editing for a [tacky] youth portal. Maybe the second or third day I worked there, the editors sent me down to Borders to pick up some magazines. Whatever magazines I liked. The best find was a ‘DIY media’ issue of Punk Planet. I still have that issue. I was really into the instructions for recording and digitizing audio interviews, for some reason. (Back in the day, that tech was new. Weird huh.) And yeah, it was full of articles on boring straightboy ‘punk’ bands, but it also featured Mimi’s columns. This alone was worth the cover price, for $15.00, a lot of dough for a newsprint magazine.
B. was talking the other day about how he didn’t really immerse himself in the canon of gay literature until he started traveling; that in Manila the absence of a reading culture meant there were simply no places to buy queer books or even know which books to read. In London and LA, he hung out in big bookstores and developed a kind of book gaydar: the abliity to predict, from the title or spine of a book, whether it would be queer or not. That was before the Internet, before Amazon, before people were compiling Amazon shortlists and before Amazon itself began pre-empting its customers’ desires… What I notice about both of these anecdotes is how so much of peripheral reading of ‘centre’ subcultures happens through those huge multinationals. Amazon and Borders: somewhere, some kid is finding some obscure title amongst the dross, just because ‘huge’ = ’somewhat diverse’. Not that reading Punk Planet changed my life, or that it was better than the zines lots of people in Melbourne were already producing. Just that it was another world, and a world that lived and died somewhere in the future anterior, the place that is to come, but that has always already passed by.
Bye bye, Punk Planet.