(A collection of zines produced between 1992-96 stories & comix about surviving squatting in NYC & traveling around the world)
MAXIMUMROCKNROLL - Febuary 2001
CHRON!IC!RIOTS!PA!SM! - Fly
Fly is an artist, a performer, a punk, a squatter; a woman who wears leg warmers. She has squatted New York's Lower East Side for the last decade (give or take), and was involved in the tenant's demonstrations that turned that neighborhood into a modern day war zone in the early 1990s. But more than anything else, Fly knows how to live, and this book is about living.
The stream-of-consciousness tales range in subject matter from dumpster diving in the bitter cold to finding true love, or perhaps both at the same time. Fly's commentary on the changing face of the once thriving artist community in which she lives conjures up thoughts of home, as friend after friend is displaced amidst the Bay Area's "economic boom" (I found out just today about two more punk households served with 30 day eviction notices). Her words take you to a dreamlike fantasy world, but her metaphor jerks you back into reality just as quickly as she talks of a "GANG of stuper heroes made out of SCRAP METAL" terrorizing and eating people while the rich (having won the class war take people to "THE BASEMENT of the SHOPPING CENTER to RECEIVE PRIZES for their LOYALTY to certain BRAND NAME PRODUCTS." Not so far fetched at all, really.
CHRON!IC!RIOTS!PA!SUM! speaks the truth of those who refuse to be beaten down. Tale after tale tells a story of getting kicked in the face, both literally and figuratively, but still relishing in life. Because in the impending apocalypse, life may be all that we have that is truly ours. And if you don't believe that apocalypse is imminent, then listen to my friend Fly: "I WAS TRAVELING within the APOCALYPSE on my horse...of course...my HORSE...was also my HUSBAND...we were hunting within the humming... MACHINERY...hunting RABBITS...we found NO RABBITS...we were beginning to wonder if LIFE still EXISTED." Its like reading a personal zine that is really a religious tract, except that it talks of societal oppression and the freedom from it instead of discussing Jesus...did that make sense?
The comic strips interspersed throughout the book are worthy of a book of their own. Fly is renowned as an artist, and with good reason. One can easily get so lost in the drawings that you almost forget that there is a story line. Almost. There are pictures within drawings within comics, and characters commenting on the very art that has created hem. There are are strips that are frighteningly surreal ("Indoctrination," see "stuper heroes" above) and those that are frighteningly real ("The Oath Of Destitution" required to sign up for government assistance). And there is even a flip strip at the bottom of the book.
As the technological revolution not-so-slowly closes in, it seems like people are forgetting what it means to be full of life. And CHRON!IT!RIOTS!PA!SUM! made me feel a zest for life just as much this week as it did two years ago when the book came out. Lose yourself in the webs that Fly weaves from this world to the dream world (fuck, that sounds like a "Book Of The Month Club" quote, doesn't it?). Sure, it's not the same as watching her sew her lips together and sing songs from her punk band, Zero Content...but then, what is?
S.F. Bay Guardian
The Stranger (Seattle)
"Gee, I'd like to be a fly upon Fly's wall, just to see her creative
process! Is she as tough as I think she is? Her stories are bitter,
funny, and scary because they're real life, and real life is bitter,
funny, and scary. Plus, the clean inking and clear storytelling makes
for easy readability. This chick can draw!"
San Francisco Bay Guardian January 27, 1999
By Jennifer Joseph
A PICTURE is worth a thousand words ... but unfortunately, certain kinds of pictures aren't valued as much as they once were, and comic-book stores are disappearing at an even faster rate than independent bookstores. Alas, mainstream bookstores rarely know where to place graphic novels -- most end up in the Humor section wedged between Dilbert and Garfield, even if, like Art Spiegelman's Maus or Harvey Pekar's Our Cancer Year, they don't belong among the funny books.
Chron!ic!riots!pa!sm!, by Fly. Squatting, touring with a band, and what it means to be "punk" have been the subjects of endless zine publications, magazine articles, and sociological studies, but rarely does someone in the middle of the experience (besides Aaron Cometbus) get it together to write about it all consistently for years. Fly has been squatting in buildings on New York City's Lower East Side for more than 10 years, has toured Europe and Japan with the band God Is My Co-Pilot, and self-publishes her free zines and minicomix and distributes them wherever she goes. Now her chronicles of imagination and adventure from 1992 to 1996 are available in trade paperback form thanks to Semiotexte/Autonomedia. Faithfully reproduced from her original one-offs, equal amounts of surreal comix and twisted prose describe her daily struggle to keep things going against the odds and have some fun, too. Fighting with contemptuous cops, fixing up vacated buildings, and hanging around making observations about street life and love are some of the themes that link the pieces together. Fly rarely delivers a straight narrative: she zooms around in a free fall of gritty urban images and automatic writing, her pure energy and anger slamming the page without delicate ponderings or effete politesse. The book is dedicated to Frank's Depression, a punk street poet who spent a lot of time hanging around Valencia Street. He died in a downtown New York City doorway -- Fly identified his body at the morgue. Chron!ic!riots!pa!sm! is an awesome example of independent publishing -- Random House will never publish a book like this. Highly recommended!
Jennifer Joseph is the editor and publisher of Manic D Press books.
Slug & Lettuce (fall 1999?)
Fly's comics have been blowing us away ever since we became aware of zines. Her stories are usually fantastic paranoid dreams involving comical authority figures, squatters, punk rockers, sudden plot twists and manic flights through New York City. The longer you look at Fly's comics, the more you discover little surprises. There are shadow people having alternate conversations and expressions on background characters that help convey the emotional content of the story.
Like her beautifully drawn comics, Fly's new book CHRON!IC!RIOTS!PA!SM! published by Automedia this year, is a collage of surprises. It includes several of her previous zines and some extras -- like a flip book of a dumpster diver in the middle of the book. For those of us that have been following Fly's zines, this book is a blessing because our copies are dog-eared from loaning them out to everyone who's just got to see what they're about. For those not yet aware of Fly's talent, this book puts her work into an accessible format. The Design and details all reflect Fly's personal intent and sensibility. Fly sets the standard for punk rock culture! CHRON!IC!RIOTS!PA!SM! is a crucial guide to the joys of an alienated lifestyle.
- amber and stacy