Tonight, while the rest of the world is busy milking the anniversary of 9/11 for viewers or readers or voters and the rest of the rest of the world is busy trying to tune them out, Weirdo Dave will be celebrating the release of the 11th issue of his zine FUCK THIS LIFE as well as an anthology of past issues called FUCK THIS LIFE ‚Äì FATAL. As Dave explained about the decision to schedule the party on NY’s holiest of holies, "It’s issue 11. They throw a calendar in front of you, what are you supposed to pick? Eleven. Nine Eleven. NYC. Let’s get wet!"
FUCK THIS LIFE is not an easy trip. The zine feels like a scrapbook of harsh realities and juvenile obsessions, photocopied spreads of sordid headlines (DAD KILLS GIRL FOR TEXTING), filmstills of blood-drowning victims from horror movies, eyeless models from discarded porn mags, photos of Ozzy and Biggie. It’s a bit reminiscent of the scene 2/3rds into any slasher film, where the detectives find the killer’s abandoned hideout, full of obsessive notebooks and damning evidence. But there’s a very pleasant evenness to the layout: Every Rat Fink, every hollowed out skull, every over-tanned girl with a finger in her mouth has a distinct blank border that begins to reveal themes, eerie coincidences, and jokes. Jimi Hendrix, a tiger, and a murder victim all share the same open mouth. An identical sharp-eyed focus on the faces of Devine and Lil Wayne. The sheer ugliness of a naked body when inserted between a goitered neck and a laughing ghoul.
And then you get to the last page. A series of short photographs describing the most gruesome, despicable, and mean-hearted acts: man beats his own mother, tourist decapitated by subway, machete fights in Washington Heights. All drawn from the New York Post’s daily police blotter, the only stretch of text in FTL is the only thing that could make you feel worse than the images in FTL. As Dave says, "Sometimes if I read the police blotter I won’t even leave the house, I’ll be so fucking scared. This is what people do? They’ll lock you in a car and try to light you on fire. People will cut you up, gut you, leave you in a bathtub, and smoke all your cigarettes. It’s like the more you know the more you get scared of the world."
In honor of tonight's festivities, I talked to Dave a little more about the history of the zine.
Vice: How’d you start FTL?
Weirdo Dave: Basically I work this fucking grunt job. A co-worker used to buy the New York Post every day, and after he read it I would read the blotter and cut out images and headline craze and shit and put it up. You put it up, you look at it, it’s an escape, just craze. I had this top drawer in my desk for like bills and stamps and office stuff, and I would put all the scraps in there. After a while, motherfuckers started asking me, "What do you do?" and I would be like, "Live the dream, party, you know, whatever." Then they’d be like, "You’ve gotta do more than that, you can’t just be this dude partying. You’ve got to contribute." So I was like, I’ll just do a zine, like fuck it.
How long does it take you to build up an entire issue’s worth of misery?
I start off with the drawer. First I fill it up and then I put all the scraps in an envelope. Then you feel it with your hand, this feels like about 200 images, and you dump them all out and start sizing shit up. The first year we did eight issues, but then it became like two issues a year because something would come up. It always depends, but if you go hard, you can collect all the images in three months.
How do you want people to react when they read FTL?
Like on a Black Flag level. It’s like at first you feel suicidal. It’s us versus them, and we’re outnumbered. But I don’t want to kill myself, I want to live just to bum all these people out. Just like, I’m here and I don’t give a fuck about you and I’m going to irritate you like a cockroach and shit.
Is there anything besides Black Flag that makes you feel that way?
You mean a Depeche Mode song or some shit?
I was thinking something that isn’t music, but OK.
Basically like New Order, Slayer, Jesus and Mary Chain, uh, Depeche Mode. Just like, all that stupid shit. I was into rap music when hella people were into Sonic Youth and Pavement and all that bullshit. It’s sort of tight now because a lot of motherfuckers who were into punk then toned down, and the condom broke and they got babies and they got married. But I got into it later, and it put a whole new battery in my back. A lot of people be like, "Oh you’re into Nirvana? I listened to that shit four years ago", and it’s like, Man, I listened to them last week.
Is that the kind of people you make FTL for, the former Nirvana listeners? Or is it more for the current Nirvana listeners?
This is really for people who have bad days. Like, Fuck this life. Seriously. This came about after having so many days where it’s not even like fuck the world, because the whole world is all right. It’s this life. Every day, there’s a point where I wouldn’t mind if I were dead. Right? Every day there’s a part where I wouldn’t mind if I was just erased, right now.
So it’s for depressed people?
It’s more for people who can relate to it. I mean like, working class, blue collar, it’s an escape. I think there’s a tradition to it. Shitty days, shitty moments. Like the illest text was from Neckface. He told me, "Fuck this Life saved my life." You have a shitty day, you look at it, and you’re like fuck it, and you keep going. Do I want to re-sign for another year of this shit? Fuck yeah, are you fucking kidding me?
INTERVIEW BY ETHAN SWAN
FUCK THIS LIFE Issue 11 and FUCK THIS LIFE ‚Äì FATAL Reception
Thursday September 11, 6-8 PM
Rush Arts Gallery (526 W. 26th St. 3rd Floor).