When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
I first saw an issue of Factsheet Five at a bookstore in the spring of 1994. I had never heard of zines before. The concept charmed me. Was it legal? Could just anyone do it? I sent off for a few. Some were brilliant, some were boring, some were perverted, some were so personal they made me sigh. Most of all, everyone seemed so friendly and obviously loved to write and connect with other people. I'd been living at home since graduating from college the year before and felt lonely and missed all the purpose and sense of audience I'd had writing at school. Inspired, I wrote some things and drew some things and glued some things down. Then I made seven copiesófive for the zine people I'd met, one of my family and one for a spare. It took about six months before I had my own Factsheet Five review and beloved zine friends. Now I'm making 200 copies per issue.
Don't Say Uh-Oh has become known as a "zine of lists" and it's true that I like categorizing my essays and get inspired by a topic that makes me remember all kinds of related things I never realized I was writing so many lists, actually, until that phrase was applied to me. Sometimes people misinterpret it and send me things like their top ten favorite songs and want me to print itójust this 10-title list with no personal information or reasons behind the selections. How could anyone else care about that? Whenever something is at least a little bit personal, it can be applied almost universally. Someone's bound to identify with something.
Where did you get the name?
We were on a car ride with my dad as kids and we were messin' around. He's a nervous driver, so he would turn around and remind us, "Don't say 'Uh-oh,' " because it might mean something was wrong. So we started saying it all the time, of course. He still hates driving. Every time he hits the door lock he has a panic attack.
Why publish a zine?
For vanityócheck it out, I did that! To impress my family and friends, or to expose them and feel like a Famous Hated Outcast Writer when they read the article they're in. To make friendsófind people who like how I write and what I write about and whose writing and personality I like in return. I've made some great pen pals and long-lasting friends through my zine. I've met a few personally. It's how I met my boyfriendóthat was probably a hidden motive of the zine as well, if I'm painfully honest about it. To amuse myselfówrite little essays about things I think are funny, or about people I know or rememberóI write lots of childhood stories in my zine. When I look back at past issues I can see what kinds of things I cared about or thought were hilarious or amazingly genius at the time.
Do you do any other zines?
I just started a new zine called Carrot.
What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
I wrote "Passenger Seat" after I got mad at someone I had to ride around with a lot. I decided there are certain people you ride with certain people not to ride with. I never write anything for anyone else to identify withóeverything is purely personalóbut almost every time, someone will tell me about how much they connected to an essay or list. "Passenger Seat" is one of the simplest kinds of listsóbrief descriptions under the headings "Good People to Ride With" and "Bad." You can agree or disagree, or be inspired to give it some thought yourself. Perhaps in this manner air conditioning will be abolished. "Good Dad Things" is more personal. I was writhing with embarrassment with my dad read it. I didn't want him to , but he got ahold of a copy and found that page. I guess that's a "tribute" kind of list, but it also describes the sort of miserable summer I was having at the time.
There is no research involved in either of these. The second I have work on writing a zine article, I lose all interest and enthusiasm. They're rarely premeditated, either. I have a folder full of titles like, "If My Dad Ran a Restaurant," but usually I'll have no idea where this will lead until I sit down and write seven articles in one weekend.
Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Don't be afraid. It's not against the law. You can really do it. You'll surprise yourself. Also, don't worry about being too anythingótoo personal, too angry, too depressingódon't limit yourself in any way. An audience will come to you. Don't try to please it. Before I printed my first really personal essay, I thought, no one will like this. They just want me to be funny. I'll feel embarrassed. But somehow, I didn't. I felt relieved and kind of heady. And people loved it. I got way more response from that article than from anything else I've written. No one is tying you to a theme except yourself, and if that's how you're comfortable, that's find too. Just write what you want and there will be people who like it. It may take awhile, but it'll work. And you'll find stuff you never thought you'd read, either, or that takes your breath away. I'm evil and only like about 3 percent of the zines people send me to trade, but the good ones are very very worth it.
What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
1) I love writing for my zine and being completely absorbed and having a blast. Maybe chuckling at a newly uncovered memory or something someone said. And reading it afterwards, so proud because it turned out better than I thought it would. This is extremely rare but it's so worth it when it happens. Weeks later I may wonder why I thought it was so great, but at the time I'm swept away.
2) Reading something by a bona fide genius and better yet, the genius likes my zine too and we become good friends and write long brilliant letters to each other.
3) The satisfaction of having another issue all done, finally.
In my other life, I'm an:
Employee at a privately owned science and technology library. Is that the other life you meant? I don't have any dazzling secrets.
As quoted from this webpage: http://www.zinebook.com/interv/dont.html
Maria Goodman's consistently entertaining Don't Say Uh-oh presents the tales of her life, but not in the same-old, same-old daily diary sort of way. Instead, she organizes her experiences into lists of anecdotes and tidbits. Writing from a distinctly female perspective, she offers a wonderful break from the music-obsessed angry young men who write so many zines.
Rather than simply recalling an early experience with sneakers for a 1995 article, Maria creates a list of six different moments in her life and what roles her sneakers played in each. "Velcro became au courant" in fifth grade, she reports, but by college, white Converse high tops were her faves.
After 16 issues, Maria's smart, hilarious writing style has become so popular that many of her readers are contributing lists of their own. Her friend Matt created a list of his top-10 favorite childhood cereals, including Crunch Berry ("there were never enough berries"), Coco Puffs ("good premiums"), and Sugar Corn Pops ("what makes them pop?").
The most recent issue begins with a great piece in which Maria bemoans all the scary salespeople who inhabit a typical mall - a list that perfectly explains why clothes shopping is such a frightful experience. I also loved the list of clothes that Maria ruined over the years. She went through a serious Flashdance phase and attacked several shirts and sweaters with a pair of scissors (resulting in less-than-wearable new fashions).
In addition to Maria's tales, Scott Ruisch tells about his favorite store, a fun place called Howdy Doody Grocery. A contributor named Andy describes his best prank phone calls, including a cruel "Call from prison," and Stacy Estep (publisher of the zine Box of 64) reveals the "Eight signs your co-worker might be a pimp."
I love the way Maria decorates the zine with panels clipped from comic strips, featuring characters who say "uh-oh." The zine Vamos recently printed an interview with Maria, in which she revealed the secret origins of Don't Say Uh-oh's title. It dates way back to a childhood car trip when she and her three siblings were playing in the back seat. Their repeated taunts of "uh-oh" finally snapped her father's frayed nerves, forcing him to shout back the now-famous ultimatum. The rest is history.
As quoted from this webpage: http://hotwired.wired.com/zines/96/06/index1a.html
Utne Independent Press Awards Nominees -- 2003
óBy Staff, Utne magazine
November / December 2003 Issue
As we have done every fall for the past 15 years, Utne editors recently sat down to discuss, argue, and ruminate over the periodicals that most moved us in the past year. It's not a job for the faint of heart, considering we're choosing the best from the more than 1,600 publications that line our library's shelves. Far from a scientific undertaking, this annual exercise in journalistic judgment relies more on instinct, experience, and fond recollection than quantifiable evidence, but the nominees that emerged this year -- as they do every year -- speak eloquently for the quality of the independent media.
General Excellence: Magazines
The American Prospect
The Washington Monthly
General Excellence: Newsletters
Connection to the Americas
The Hightower Lowdown
New Urban News
Perspectives on Anarchist Theory
Thoreau Society Bulletin
Wedge Co-op Newsletter
General Excellence: Zines
The Constant Rider
The East Village Inky
Secret Mystery Love Shoes
September Coming Soon
As quoted from this webpage: http://www.utne.com/pub/2003_120/promo/10914-1.html