Interview with Randy Spaghetti

The next Library Journal zine reviews column, due out on the internet in early September will review zines by people who came out of "retirement" to create a new zine after at least five years. For my 500 word introduction I interviewed each of the zine publishers reviewed. With only 500 words (and really that was probably too long), I couldn't include all of the great stuff each person had said. Therefore, I'm posting all of the interviews here. Here lies the last one, an interview with Randy Spaghetti who has continued Darlene Rocknroll Fanzine after five years of accidental hiatus.

What drew you back to print? What do you value about print/print culture?

I wrote an article back in 1999 where I discussed the idea that part of the appeal of writing zines is that they exist on the author’s individual time schedule and that writers can come and go as they please in the zine world. I think it might have been a subconscious response to seeing a lot of my pen pals disappear into the world of chat rooms, online publishing, and 9 to 5 life, myself included. I wanted to say to them and to myself that it’s okay to take a break, but lets keep this thing going. Fortunately, there were a lot of people who were much more dedicated to zines than I was, and they continued to establish a niche for zines and self publishing within the modern internet world. I never really felt like I had retired from writing zines. Throughout the last decade I have been writing stories and articles that I intended to publish in a zine, but never got around to it. In 2005 I published Darlene #3 and got a good response from it. Then I moved to another state and got married and started a stressful new job and didn’t make the time for zine writing. But I always had that 1999 article in the back of my mind, and when I eventually quit that job, and felt like I had more stability in my personal life, I started publishing again.

Do you have an online presence, as well? (blog, LiveJournal, Twitter, tumblr, flickr, etc.) If so, how does your zine content differ or overlap from what you publish online?

I have a blog, where I review zines and other stuff. I started it after reading Dan Halligan’s blog. I really responded to the idea that blogs could exist as a sort of archive for zines and punk rock culture in general.

Do you know about Revenge of Print 2011? If so, did it/will it inspire you to make a zine this year?

Yes. I love the idea of zinesters getting back into the game, and can’t wait to read some of the old-new zines. I’m working on a new issue of Spaghetti Dinner and Dancing, as well as a new issue of Darlene Rocknroll Fanzine.

How many pen pals do you have? How many did you have when you published your previous zine?

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pen pals anymore. My longest pen pal, Jeff, is also the first person to have reviewed Spaghetti Dinner & Dancing in Maximumrocknroll in 1994. He and I became pen pals after that review. He came to Missoula a few times to visit, and I visited him in San Fransisco. We have been writing to each other regularly for the past 17 years. In 2006 he was one of my groomsmen in my wedding. This is the power of the printed word.

In the 90s I had a lot of pen pals. I’m not sure of the exact number. Everyone wrote letters when sending their zines before the internet. Sadly, when people send me their zines for review, they rarely write anything other than ordering info.

Did you choose to start over with a new title? Why/why not?

I’ve decided to stick with the same two titles for my two zines, but I often toy with the idea of making single-issue zines about a wide variety of subjects. So far, it’s just an idea.

Do you ever regret something you said/drew in an earlier zine? Enough to want it removed from any libraries that hold it? Have any general thoughts on zine libraries?

I once wrote a story about an encounter with a grizzly bear that I had with a friend of mine. I wrote the story pretty quickly after we had had the encounter and I didn’t let my friend read it before publishing. He read it and didn’t like the way he came across in the story. When he told me this, I read the story again with new eyes and I agreed with him. It really hurt our friendship, and was a wake-up call to me about just how powerful writing can be and how what you write can really impact your daily life. I now let people read the stories that they are in, before I publish them.

As far as zine libraries are concerned, I love them and hope that everyone involved in zine culture is out there promoting and supporting them. It's also great to see that so many public libraries are supporting this unique culture and creating all of these interactive archives.