Friday, September 12, 2014

dirt city archives: MIND THE GAP

when MIND OVER MATTER mattered

AbqZineFest shows that in these days of instant blog gratification there is a resurgence in cut-and-paste words on paper. Our earlier zine culture here diminished by the early 2000s when college zinesters graduated into the work force, hordes of band kids moved to Portland (where all old ‘burque scenesters still go, kinda like the Elephants’ graveyard legend ) and the so-called Punk Revival heralded by “alternative rock” died as guitars were overshadowed by turntables. Oh, and people decided that looking at monitor screens was better than looking at mere paper pages. 

In the mid-90s, dozens of zines were available at any number of shops in town. Exploito-trash video shop Wavy Brain (owned by Jet Jaguar of Luxo Champ, now a member of Seattle’s Steel Tigers if Death! ). Relapse Records (run by Jerry DeCicca now fronting The Black Swans). Bow Wow Records (where one could find Marty Crandall of Flakemusic-- soon to  be The Shins -- behind the counter). Book shop Tulane Exchange hosted an early Weekly Alibi (or was it still Nu City then?) sponsored parking lot show.

The mother lode of them all however was Mind Over Matter. This shop closed at  the beginning of what I call the Great Punk Rock Exodus when at least two dozen musicians, artists, zinesters and anarchist weirdoes fled Albuquerque one summer. Around that time, I started my own long-running ego-fest music rag (1998- ??) which I regret came too late to sit on the Mind Over Matter shelves. There was even a local Zine Festival or two put together by Nueve from Rebel Radio.  

But! For a few shining years, partners Bob Tower and Edith Abeyta sold an extraordinary mix of vinyl, books, CDs, comics, shirts, stickers, buttons and a plethora of zines from across the country.

Me, I wandered in one day looking for copies of the only comic book worth killing trees for, Love and Rockets (the band of the same name stole their moniker from the comic by the way) but was soon hooked on vinyl and zines. I was in there so often in fact that Bob and Edie would toss all kinds of freebies my way including a mix tape Edie called Girl Musixx because she got to know my tastes.

Mind Over Matter was my late-blooming intro to “punk” which the pair demonstrated was not about being an offensive dick but building your community by actively supporting it. There were in-store shows by everyone from Man Or Astro-Man? to locals like Braddy Janet (which featured Kim Baxter now a member of  All Girl Summer Fun Band and Portland's Rock and Roll Camp for Girls) and creative “outsider” musicians that are still going strong such as Alistair Galbraith. Mind Over Matter also served as a mailing address and drop off point for pirate station Rebel Radio since we couldn’t very well advertise our location.

Bob recorded and engineered local bands like Chinese Love Beads, Blind Nine and his own outfits The Surlies and ¡Destructo! Edie put together an impressive zine installation at Harwood Art Center: a room empty but for a few chairs and pillows upon which one could sit and read any of the fifty or so zines hanging from its walls, an onsite zine library if  you will. 

Of course many of the zines they stocked were too obscure to sell many copies except for stalwarts like CometbusProfane Existence and, inevitably, Maximum Rock And Roll which paid the bills. Instead of ditching unsold copies Bob and Edie made zine grab bags: a three or four inch stack wrapped in posters and fliers which might also include  stickers, a button or a stale piece of bubble gum.

There was also a series of handmade limited edition Mind Over Matter edited zines like Edie’s Quench (beverages!) and Bob’s Seventies Mutation, each copy one-of-a-kind with actual photos pasted inside or homemade paper covers with a “soundtrack” cassette or CD included, a tea bag (!) and, yes, a piece of gum.

This store was my post-hippie musical education. I picked up piles of vinyl and zines weekly. My collection still holds lots of records I bought unknown and unheard, some songs that remain among my favorites. Sunnychar You're My Battery Samiam  Don't Break Me (the best emo song ever and coming from me, that's high-praise indeed ), Supersnazz I Wanna Be Your Love, and many more. I tried to buy as much stuff as I could afford, to help keep the shop going, but they insisted on giving me instantaneous discounts every time. The punk scene at the time was fading fast, thanks to Warped and Mountain Dew and all that Blink 182 swill. And maybe just maybe it was time for a change for the pair who had given so much and, really, got little back in return. The doors were shuttered and we lost an irreplaceable local treasure.  

Last time I heard from Edie, she Bob lived in Los Angeles and still supported community through art, installations, book editing and batches of home brewed beer. There’s a great crew of  ‘burque folks that do zines, run community oriented shops and create DIY culture but as far as I’m concerned, we’re still trying to fill the gap that Mind Over Matter left over a decade ago.  

Originally appeared in Weekly Alibi

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