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Thursday, April 17, 2014


I've studied and pondered so many neat ways to kill you that the subject doesn't even give me a hard-on anymore.

—Hollister Kopp

God damn it, I would give anything—ANYTHING—well, there are a couple people and pets I'd withhold—but in any case, I'd give all the heroin that's on all of the airplanes that are carooming through the air right now to love anything tangible on this earth half as much as Hollister Kopp loves GUNS.

Sure, you say, who doesn't get some sensual pleasure out of guns? Drunkenly firing a few rounds with good friends into Lake Mendota after the Packers beat San Francisco felt as good as anything else I did in my avidly-spent youth. But it was the ethereal things—the beer, the victory—that made the celebration ecstatic. Like most people, motivated by a craven dread of death (at least I admit it), the most solid pleasures for me are the ones that detach from the hard laws of Newton: faery shit like narrative, music, sex, intoxication—all practice deaths and cop-outs.

Pounding his computer keys deep into the guts of the infamous '90s zine GUN FAG MANIFESTO, however, Hollister Kopp left no doubt that he LOVES his "fire-belching, flesh-ripping, screaming meat grinders!" God damn you, Hollister, you're having too much fun. (Although he did oft profess a liking for the faery potion beer himself, and snuck narrative in the back door too.)

So I'm happy to convey the news: Chip Smith's Nine-Banded Books and Kevin Slaughter's Underworld Amusements are giving this sick bastard another moment in the dubious rays of sun that filter down from treetops of normalcy to the corpse-dotted forest floor by colluding to reprint GUN FAG MANIFESTO!!!!!! (AS SAID MAGAZINE'S GLEEFULLY UNORTHODOX TYPOGRAPHY WOULD HAVE IT!!!!!)


Back in the '90s, GUN FAG MANIFESTO zine was one of a largish minority of bright spots in what could often look like a sea of bland and cliquey "perzines": paper proto-blogs but with extra navel. The real fun was in the work zines—the story potential was infinite and cathartic—and in the fuckin' freakshow zines like this baby. If you wanted it "personal and heartfelt," I oft wondered, why would you read about some scenester (old word for "hipster"; it still makes me cringe) poking around a thrift store? 

Kopp built a persona in his zine, thaaaat's for sure. But it was a real character, a pen name with a rant and a rave, and it was focused around the things that made him thrilled or angry, not what he ate for breakfast with his ball-busting hippie girlfriend and his Belle and Sebastian album. (That's not really a joke; there were already people who bothered to write and distribute shit like that back when you had to shlep all the way to the copy shop and the post office instead of just pressing a button and sharing your backwash. What can I say? They didn't have Yofarm or whatever it's called yet.)

The '90s were a weird time. Great bastions of hopeless rage like punk rock were being infiltrated by costumed optimist shits who sincerely believed they could fix social issues by turning four-chord rock into the mutant simpering slime-wad offspring of Slint and Sleater-Kinney. And the above-mentioned long-winded mezines, like the inexplicably iconic Cometbus, were the written chronicle of the takeover. Like the Bacon Bars and stupid mustaches of 2014, they were ostentatiously devoted to all things "undergroundishly" trendy, purely in hopes of getting attention.

I would love to see Aaron Cometbus or Joe fucking Meno try to take Hollister Kopp's guns away.

Because a good deal of GUN FAG was devoted to railing against (and not-entirely-vaguely threatening) anyone—politician, schoolmarm, or common zine punk—who even thought about disarming Kopp and his fellow gun fags. 

Haven't they [the feds] had enough? Do they know who they're fooling with? Good God, we're Americans! We hit back! We shoot back! We don't need any more goddamn laws! We'll see to it that every greasy politician, bureaucrat and newsroom collaborator is TIED TO A POST WITH THEIR OWN RED TAPE AND SHOT!

The "manifesto" part of the zine was many-layered, and "don't tread on my Colt" was only one leaf of the onion. And yet, as pissed off as the GUN FAG writing was at goofy groupthink jackasses'  hostile takeover of the "underground"—and, more seriously, the U.S. government—all of its subversiveness was couched in a thick, thick layer of just having a good goddamn time. 

It was a tribute in print to loving something real, and it reads so well the text almost IS real, or as good as real to the tattered mind. Don't let the multiple exclamation points fool you: the guy wrote well, with a particular talent for making his passion verbally sensual. You were there with him as he caressed the gun stock; you could feel the shaved lead sideswipe your sunburned flesh as the beer can at the end of the makeshift range exploded. The words were good.

Which is fortunate because otherwise I'd get melancholy as hell reading all this hopeless shit about how firearms are going to save us from the government. Do we want to hang the Senate by their balls? Sure! Can you afford a tank?* I can't. I can't even get my hands on one of those Amazon drones. By the time you and your neighbors are through chipping in to buy a tank, the U.S. Army has bought ten of them (with your tax money). It's like listening to an AA true believer talk about how Jesus is going to keep him sober: you're sad because he's just going to die drunk in a jail cell, but jealous as hell because it sure seems to be working for him right now. 

And yet I can quite thoroughly enjoy a bit like this, because it's so full of gusto it tricks my brain into thinking things are gonna be OK:

The answer is not to "throw the bums out" or to vote them out or even to prosecute them. The answer is to simply KILL THEM.... An all-out attack with crossbows would be fun, and would have the added advantage of making their gun control measures look ironic and silly for the benefit of posterity.

And the bits on simple self-protection, their details fished from the cesspool of '90s LA where it was written, are sensible enough:

No longer must you tolerate the panhandler with vomit on his pants who claims to be hungry... No longer are you a prisoner in your own home, confined by lawless vultures who look upon you as carrion. You are armed. You are dangerous. You are king.

But the 2nd Amendment can protect you from government tyranny these days about as well as a knife will protect you in a gun fight. 

Kopp hints at the hopelessness himself, at times:

Aside from a violent overthrow of the United States government (a tough job, but someone has to do it), there really doesn't seem to be much we can do. An assassination here and there is good for keeping our spirits up, but it's illegal, and like a lizard losing its tail, the media-government just regenerates another politician, and the pathetic zombie constituents vote him or her into office.

And so what if you did burn down the Senate? Kopp on corporate statism, aka the Other Government**:

It's already that way, ya rubes! Why not cut the crap? Admit it! Politicians are nothing more than stooges for major corporations (foreign and domestic) and they're damned expensive stooges at that. Let's get real!... Open, honest, and straightforward corporate totalitarianism. Hell, it just might get us somewhere.

And the bright martial tone of the following passage contrasts grimly with the prohibitive costs of the modern arms race (bold type mine—Kopp was already italicizing for emphasis, heh heh): 

The Second Amendment was written at a time when American citizens were in very real danger of government tyranny, much like our present situation. The "well regulated militia" consisted of every free (white) man between the ages of 16 and 45, and the arms they had the right—the duty—to keep and bear arms were exactly the same arms which were carried by the standing army. If the government decided to use its armed forced and/or police for despotic purposes, well, they were going to have a fight on their hands. A fight that they could very well lost.

This equity of force would now be impossible. The Second Amendment was written when there weren't any weapons that cost much more than a horse. Relax the gun laws all you want, the government still has more money than you, and that means it has arms that make your assault weapon look like a bunny rabbit turd melting into a snowbank.

Even a banker-type who could afford a private fleet of tanks is NEVER going to bite the hand that feeds him. He might pay lip service to smaller government, but the government we've got certainly does a handy job of stopping us from effectively complaining when he steals our taxes to pay for his incompetent wheeling and dealing. (Remember how pissed every person you know was about the bank bailout? Remember what happened? NOTHING. We swallowed our rage and, if we were lucky, went to the gun range.)

Sometimes the larger debate on this looks to me like a retard fight. Gun-control proponents, the ones that have good intentions anyway, are blatantly silly. I hate dying of a gunshot wound as much as the next person, but that doesn't change the fact that people love firearms as much as they love heroin. And you want the criminals to have the guns AND all the good drugs? No matter how many times prohibition is tried and fails, that coyote keeps chasing the roadrunner around, and if he has to blow up the whole cliff so be it.

But government-control proponents are fighting an equally futile battle—that's my knee-jerk reaction, anyway, these days; the thought of a citizen militia taking on THE GOVERNMENT with even the grandest of boom sticks is like Doctor Who and his vibrating screwdriver facing a Dalek without the magic of scriptwriting. The charming hope-against-hope of gun fags is an eerie reminder of not just how fucked we are, but how badly we don't want to be fucked. Speaking from personal experience, my stupid, stupid brain is marred by a strange defect that makes it want things to be fair, and free, and just. Everything in mass society disagrees. Gun rights only give you an edge against another peon jerk who tries to rob or rape or kill you. Important in the moment, obviously, and hm, why would a senator want to take that away from you?—but small arms are not going to un-stack the deck. Humanity always loses.

However, as 9BB mogul Chip Smith—who is, I repeat, one of the reprint's publishers—reminded me poetically last week while I was moaning about the above: "Of course humanity always loses, which is why blue steel in the palm is such joyful romance."

Sure indeed: whatever one may think of it, based on the shit-ebb and shit-flow of human history and whatnot, the mental image of marching against the ocean never fails to make one's heart race. Like most zest-for-life ideals, this one is strangely easier to embrace in practice than in theory, and the strangeness always thrills.

But speaking of theory, Chip also pointed me to some academic work suggesting that a populace that can at least shoot back with more than a slingshot has some deterrent power, in the form of mild but steady pressure, over tyranny:

(Lazyton Linkles)

"It's not always about what happens; it's also about what doesn't happen," Chip says; Kopp's white-knuckled enthusiasm makes one want the whole cake, but that would probably make one throw up. More realistic, and less bloody, is to use slight menace to press for the occasional slice, and to ensure that the slices you get aren't consistently full of razor blades. 

Stand up and defend yourselves, gun fags! We may have to start shooting them [Congress] at some point, but for now we can call & write. It's the American way, and it makes them miserable.

Then again, though the authors of the study found a significant positive correlation between guns and civic and economic freedoms and prosperity, they were in no way certain which way (or how many different ways) causation ran. My jury is still out there milling around in the hall, eating stale sandwiches from the vending machine and bitching because there's nowhere to smoke.

But no matter how your reality Habitrail happens to look this afternoon, Kopp's relentlessly witty odes to firing your cheap Chinese rifle at the endless, invincible hull of the universe as it rolls over your head makes you rethink such things in any case: the prose comes storming through the cobwebs with a blunderbuss of fun, and that is what the shit I like to read is all about. 

And there's still plenty left to be said about this pub on a textual level. The words are good. And the level of pure HATE in this zine is astoundingly refreshing. I forgot how great it felt back in the day, after ordering, waiting for, and being disappointed by some Vomitbus or whatever, to get your hands and brain all over a HATE ZINE. 

Because if there's one life-jacket thought you need to keep alive at the back of your mind these days, it's that a little hate is good for you. Now more than ever, as the festering urban landscape is lorded over by billboard after floating, flashing, dystopian billboard, crawling with maliciously happy families, brandishing their spoiled brats like dimpled, consumerist little Big Brothers, a pure dose of misanthropy is the most liberating medicine you can dump in your brain. Evil it may be—and don't let your pathetic self be consumed by it, of course— but a spoonful of hatred is the only thing that can keep your head above the roiling cataracts of bullshit.

And though Kopp is a family man now, I hope he still manages to sneak off once in a while to drunkenly shoot at whatever he thinks might be moving.

Buy it here, punks:

* Speaking of tanks, this volume is well worth the entrance price just for the story called "Eulogy for the Tank Guy." It's exactly what it sounds like. Tank Guy couldn't afford a tank either, but for a few glorious minutes after he STOLE one, well... you'll have to read the story.

** This passage is the stinger to a deceptively complex and hilarious satire (?) about hiring corporations to test tuberculosis cures on prisoners.


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