Rich Baiocco

WRITING Published Elsewhereplace
BOOT N' RALLY zine Issue #1
DADDY ISSUES & DRONE NOISE essay :: 'What A Beautiful Face' Neutral Milk Hotel zine
The Dropbeatles :: Everyday Genius
Kentucky Backworld Conduits :: The Smoking Poet(scroll down)
Are You Decent :: Blog San Diego

Zine Write-Ups From Zee Wishy-Washy #4


This zine is rad. Pure radness - is that an adjective? It is now. Rust Belt Jessie’s Reckless Chants no. 19 was my introduction to the author’s writing style, but really to the author’s lifestyle, to the places haunted, to the songs liked. Sonnet Reducer is RBJ’s songs though, punk poetry. The title, the cover, the concept and the execution all make me read these poems to the tune of very fast downstrokes and an anthemic voice calling out these sonnet lines. It’s fun. It reminds me of The Ramones, them in their leather jackets, sneakers and short songs, these in their 14 line uni-form and each one named sonnet (Battle Sonnet, HedgeSonnet, Bad Sonnet Everyone’s Fault). I wrote about pins and buttons back in December and how they are a badge, and I read these poems and they are like a pin on your jacket, they have that same spirit, they can speak for you, in a way.

The other thing I really like about this zine is that RBJ announced the idea for this project just before Chicago Zine Fest and all of a sudden it’s done. Super bold. It’s a thing, not simply an idea. Bang Bang Bang, just like that. Was inspiring to see it come together through tumblr, and even more inspiring to read. Bold and nostalgic in a good way. 

I don’t want to print excerpts from this without permission, but the introduction is great and sets the tone. You think sonnets and you think punk and it’s like, nope. But the introduction talks about that clash, and made a lot of sense to me. 

**here’s the intro, it’s cool with Jessie**

Susan Sontag once wrote: “if I had to choose between the Doors and Dostoyevsky, then - of course - I’d choose Dostoyevsky. But do I have to choose?”  When I first read that quotation, I thought of a journal entry I wrote in 2002, wherein I said: “I love Shakespeare and the Ramones. People want me to choose between high and low culture, but do I have to choose?” If i had to choose between the Ramones and Shakespeare, then - of course - I’d choose the Ramones, but the great thing is that I don’t have to choose. 

This zine lives in that split between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture (which is a false dichotomy, anyway, but I digress) - sonnets (which are often considered a pretentious form of poetry) about punk stuff, stuff like mosh pits, drinking on rooftops, battle vests…and the Ramones. 

I got into writing sonnets about nine years ago, when I became obsessed with Edna St. Vincent Millay. Prior to that, I mostly avoided specific poetic forms, most of my poetry was free verse. When I tried my hand at sonnets, I found that there was freedom within the form. There’s a kind of freedom in fitting your thoughts to the form of the sonnet, just as there’s a kind of freedom in writing songs in that punk rock 1-2-3-4 style.

All philosophical ramblings aside, this zine was fun as fuck to write. In a different journal entry, this one circa 2007, I wrote about “probably being the only person who has a mohawk and also writes sonnets.” I may not be the only one, but I’m not just anyone…

I got my time machine. Got my poetic dream. Sonnet Reducer, ain’t no loser. 

RBJ (March 2014

Portrait of the artist with epic mohawk atop a throne of rubble

Novella Write-Up From Zee Wishy-Washy


Taking a quick break from zines to mention Tomas Moniz’s novella Bellies and Buffalos. I read this around Christmas on a flight to NY and as we descended over the lights of Manhattan I started doing that thing where you distract yourself by re-reading earlier paragraphs so you can slow down finishing a book because it’s so good you don’t want it to end. 

The story is about Sonny Gutierrez on a cross country pilgrimage, but that is like saying Don Quixote is about 2 friends going for a horse ride. Still, I don’t want to give away much in way of plot, because the twists are what really barb into you in unexpected ways. I will say this: what I love about Sonny as a character is that he never stops trying. 

This book has heart and spirit, which I don’t know about you, but it’s rare to find. It’s got parts that are laugh-out-loud funny and parts that are heart-warming, and parts that are straight up devastating. As an author, and as a human being, I would say of Tomas that he gets it. That soulful, un-teachable thing, that reason people like reading stories - he stays very close to that in his writing, and if you spend any time hanging out with him you notice he’s that way in real life too. Enjoyable and full of life. Not naive, AT ALL, but full of wonder. One of the few people who I respect as a writer who I also respect as a person. 

Here’s the intro quote:

                           It’s the process of making do,
                             of the life I’ve lived between 
breakups and break-downs that has made life
                                                       worth living

                                         I could not bear a life
                                     with everything perfect.

- Jimmy Santiago Baca

Zine Write-Ups From Zee Wishy-Washy #3


Jessie Duke writes my favorite zine series: The Hard50 Farm. This is issue #2, and I read it back in Autumn, but didn’t get around to writing about it till this last time I had to do laundry. The series is about a young family moving from the bohemian ‘Pinocchio’s pleasure island’ of Portland, Oregon to rural Kansas to homestead. Initially to be nearer to the author’s father, but as this series unfolds the relocation is more about digging your hands back into the earth and harvesting a life that is sustainable and that you could be proud of. 

The honesty of this zine really carries me through as a reader. Much like Isabelle Eberhardt’s writing (2 writers who are living their writing) that I mention in an earlier post, Duke not only sets up the situation of her characters, but adds personal observations (sometimes confident, sometimes not) that show her own character in a more complete and honest way. You might say, well that’s what writing is, but I would answer that’s what good writing is, and it’s harder to pull off than you think. Jessie does it naturally: there is a romantic, adventurous spirit communicating here through the very unromantic, at times bleak, realities of farm life situations.  

Farm Lesson #2: know how much you can carry and carry just that much. If you try and cary more than that today, you won’t be able to carry half as much tomorrow.  

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? They learn to dig in to themselves, their own disillusionments, through the broken crumbles of false comforts and survive with the earth, adapt, learn how to see their reality without blinders, and cope with it; however tough that is, it won’t limit them. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some idyllic presentment of pastoral life. No sooner is the family gaining some footing do they witness a horrible accident right in front of their house. In a tender mix of brutality and compassion, Jessie writes the scene in a very neighborly way, in the best sense of that word. The family comes together, whether the young father Jude helping the EMTs  or Frankie and James and her 2 young kids taking in an off-duty EMT’s 3 year-old daughter to shield her from the dark duty that calls her father. It comes out of a scene about neighbors being hard to make friends with in the country - hard but not impossible - and leads into a letter addressed to someone named Will where Jessie tells of her own young son being hospitalized.

Moments of intense hardship and disarming softness clash throughout the zine, and the series.  It keeps the reader on his or her toes, I can only imagine how it is to live through. Jessie Duke does a commendable job showing us.  Can’t wait for issue 3.

Zine Write-Ups From Zee Wishy-Washy #2


Is it Lil? or L’il? Or Li’l? Or Lil’? I guess it’s Lil’.

The folks at Mission Comix put this out. I love this idea. My friends and I would text each other buddies we would find out on the street but it never went further than that. Lil’ Buddies Magazine issue 1 mostly hang out in Chicago, and the locations caption each photograph and they communicate with each other.


Zine Write-Ups From Zee Wishy Washy #1

I was working on my new zine Torch Ballads and couldn’t catch up on reading new zines, but there were a few I really liked in the last 6 months. I usually take em to the Wishy-Washy laundromat with me, cause there’s a nice bench there and it’s usually empty. Here’s what’s up:

*I have a terrible cell phone that takes terrible pictures, sorry


I saw the cover for this at the SF Anarchist Bookfair and needed to own it. The pages could’ve been smeared with mustard drips, I wouldn’t have cared. Luckily though, they weren’t. They were smeared with incredibly personal observations like:

To be alone, to be poor in needs, to be ignored, to be an outsider who is at home everywhere, and to walk, great and by oneself, toward the conquest of the world. 


I have always listened with admiration, if not envy, to the declarations of citizens who tell how they have lived for 20 or 30 years in the same section of town, or even the same house, and who have never been out of their native city. 
Not to feel the torturing need to know and see for oneself what is there, beyond the mysterious blue wall of the horizon, not to find the arrangements of life monotonous and depressing, to look at the white road leading off into the unknown distance without feeling the imperious necessity of giving in to it.


Many times on the paths of my errant life, I asked myself where I was going, and I’ve come to understand, among ordinary folk and with the nomads, that I was climbing back to the sources of life; that I was accomplishing a voyage into the depths of my humanity; through all the shabbiness of my adventures, the defining curve of my existence has been expanded. 

Isabelle Eberhardt was a rebellious Swiss ex-pat writer and traveller who died in 1904 during a desert flash flood at age 27. These mini essays in Criminal comment on her time outside of Algiers where she was living with a community that was basically bought out by French Colonialists who were sent to “populate” the community with White European blood. Read that as you may. I read it as essentially a “Joy Division” of sorts, and this zine demonstrates the hard and unfair predicament of the oppressed intermingled with a very personal and inspiring travel narrative. 

The key to packing for zine fests is pretend you’re making lasagna: it’s all about layers! First clothes, then zines, then clothes, then books, then clothes, then zine, etc






Hey my new zine ‘Torch Ballads’ is goin’ to Chicago ZF. Made the suitcase just in the nick of time, but who needs sleep anyway. Wish I was going with it

Say what’s up to Adam at the Pioneers Press table you lucky midwest bastards 


Punk sonnets. 32 pages, 1/4 size. A perfect blend of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. Also, just a hell of a lot of fun. Sonnets about punk rock girls, safety pins, zines, mix tapes, the Ramones, house shows, mosh pits, going on tour, hedgecore, battle vests, punk hairdos, stick & poke tattoos, dumpster diving, The Clash, hanging out on rooftops, living in a punk house, and Chicago. (Here’s another one of the sonnets from it.)

If you’re gonna be at Chicago Zine Fest, find me wandering around there, and I’ll have copies which will be available for $1 or trade. If you want to order a copy, it’s $1 + postage, and the pre-order page is here. I’ll also accept trades by post, so if you wanna send yr zine my way, direct it to: Jessica McMains, PO Box 85278, Racine, WI, 53408, USA.

Sonnet Reducer, ain’t no loser.

Psyched for this - that cover and title, damn!

Text - heavy.Chicago Zine Fest? 
Not being mysterious, I seriously don’t know if it’s possible to get this new zine there in time, but…STAPLE, TAPE, CUT, COPY, STAPLE, TAPE, CUThas been the mantra for the last few days, where WRITE, WRITE, CUT, CUT MORE, WRITE MORE was the mantra for the last few months so that’s a step in the right direction
Head down, we’ll see…
**UPDATE** This is happening. Small goal set / Small goal accomplished wards off pending depression ; ) Do sober what you swore to do while drunk - Hemingway? Schaneman? Snapple?

Text - heavy.
Chicago Zine Fest? 

Not being mysterious, I seriously don’t know if it’s possible to get this new zine there in time, but…STAPLE, TAPE, CUT, COPY, STAPLE, TAPE, CUT
has been the mantra for the last few days, where WRITE, WRITE, CUT, CUT MORE, WRITE MORE was the mantra for the last few months so that’s a step in the right direction

Head down, we’ll see…

**UPDATE** This is happening. Small goal set / Small goal accomplished wards off pending depression ; ) Do sober what you swore to do while drunk - Hemingway? Schaneman? Snapple?



Listening to My Bloody Valentine’s new one on the big ’70s headphones under sixteen tons of blankets and quilts. Outside (and inside) the temp keeps dropping. It’s one of those “negative eight, feels like negative twenty” weather report nights. I keep telling myself that all this hard shit will make me a better person or a better writer or … a whole list and litany of “better”s and that gets me through it.

Of course this is why the Midwest (and homesteading) is not for everyone and this year is the first year I’ve wondered whether I’m one of them. That’s a hard thing to admit: that you’re not tough enough while other people handle it fine. Heatless houses are nothing new. Neither are empty cupboards. People have been doin’ it for years under much worse circumstances. (“I’ve been hitting some hard traveling/I thought you knowed,” sang Woody Guthrie and didn’t [most of] Steinbeck’s Joads make it west just fine in the end?)

It’s below freezing inside the house, yes, but millions of people have it a thousand times harder than this and I’ve got no room to complain. It feels like something out of Dostoyevsky’s Brothers half the time and it’s a little scary being on the edge of something … scary, yeah, not “bad” or “unfortunate” or anything of the sort. (Living out in the country was never going to be safe or easy anyway. Easy would’ve been staying at ol’ 4902 SE Franklin Street back in Portland.)

I have blankets and I have one more bag of Yorkshire tea and a sleeping rescue pitbull at the foot of my mattress and I have goddamn MY BLOODY VALENTINE on my headphones sounding like the ooze-deep birth noise of the universe. I’m weak and I’m cowardly and I’m insecure and cold and I’m fucking lucky to have what I have. I may have shit luck but I’m fucking LUCKY. I’ll sleep well tonight in the knowledge of that.



Last night we were hit by a big storm and now we’re cut off from town. Icy tundra as far as you can see. At 3am I took a hot bath in the farmhouse and it was weird because my body was submerged in the hottest water I could stand but I could still see my breath as much as you might outside. Then there was the pile of my clothes in the middle of the floor. Knee-length parka, gloves, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, a flannel, a hoodie, a knit hat, and a quilted coat. Three feet tall. It looked like a mountain. A colorful mountain. Life right now is pretty strange. Today it’s 31 degrees in the farmhouse and I’m going to drink red wine and black coffee and read Tolstoy. I think it’ll work fine. “It” being totally open-ended. “It” being anything you want it to be. Take your pick.



This is what you wear to bed when you live in the rural Midwest and you have no heat in your house: thick socks, two pairs of flannel pajama pants under jeans, t-shirt, four-button army surplus sweater, thick hoodie lined with fake wool (hood up under checked hunter’s cap), and a quilted jacket. Top that off with six layers of blankets, afghans, and quilts and you’re golden. Only not really. Golden will happen around late-April to middle-May. Thirty-five degrees in the farmhouse. Glamorous, romantic countrylife. Quote, unquote.