DIY Conspiracy
The (International) DIY Conspiracy

Zine Review: Cheaptoys #21

Chaviré, Fluff Fest, hand-drawn maps, memories of Montreal and more...

Ever since it was first rolled out in 2009, Cheaptoys is a zine that has been trying to communicate the radical antiauthoritarian values of DIY hardcore punk in a meaningful and conversational way.

Rather than stating jaded personal opinions as truths or facts of the matter, Cheaptoys’ author Giz draws influence from being an active listener and participant to the stories and vibrant conversations that stem from traveling and playing music in squats, parks, sheds, radical bookshops, or any kind of temporary liberated spaces all over the place.

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Here’s something about me. I’ve been fascinated with zines ever since I started listening to punk music in my teenage years. I guess, the main reason why DIY punk and anarchist zines were so important in shaping my personality from a young age was exactly the kind of conversations they inspire through personal columns, alternative points of view and lengthy interviews that sometimes go beyond the prior expected. I’m not a fan of small talk, and I have a hard time socializing at any kind of public events. Similar to Sci-Fi literature, in punk-rock records and zines I also used to find some kind of refuge where I can use my imagination and think about such things that usually don’t come up often in ordinary conversations. It’s still true to this day, however, I constantly try to step up and give it a chance to small talks and communication with people who don’t have the same mindset and do not share the same passions that I have.

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Cheaptoys is the kind of zine that resonates in an immediate way with all this personality, and even taste in music, although more like my self around four or five years ago. Zine author Giz is also a contributor to DIY Conspiracy but because we don’t live close to each other I’m grateful for the chances to meet him somewhere in Europe, or the privilege of being able to book touring bands like Canine from Marseille that can bring his zines in the old fashioned punk post way.

The latest (#21) issue of Cheaptoys has been produced in the Winter of 2017/2018 and contains some pretty neat stuff. It’s 48 pages of content and another 12 page booklet of black & white photos. It’s all cut-and-paste A6 zine with sharply juxtaposed text (some part written with a typewriter machine) and images.

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Nearly half of the content is in English, while the other half is in French. My personal highlight from the English part of the zine is the great interview with the crew organizing the annual Fluff Fest in Rokycany, Czechia. Despite being attended by thousands of people every year, this is a very intimate festival to me and I haven’t missed a Fluff edition since I went there for a first time when I was 18 years old. The answers given to this interview prove again why Fluff is such a cool place to spend your Summer holidays.

There’s also a guest column about hand-drawn maps as a way to regain our communal autonomy, in opposition to GPS navigation and Google Maps that are used by corporations to map out and control our lives. In contrast to previous Cheaptoys issues, here we don’t have that much of a travelogue and stories on the road. There is, however, an interesting story about Giz’s memories of the time he was studying Library science in Canada. The story is filled with disillusionment with the anarchist punk scene, exploring Montreal, making friends, listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor (among other non-punk punk music), and having a try at noisemaking and field-recordings.

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In French language, you’ll find an interview with the lovely people of the Nantes’ screamo band Chaviré. If you’re fluent in French you should definitely check this out! Besides that, there’s a story about a hike around St. George’s Hill in Surrey, French translations from the anarchist journal Slingshot! and one about the radical puppet theater Bread & Puppet.

I’m definitely a fan of the pocket-size format since I don’t have much time to read zines at home. It makes me stay away from the damn mobile device every time I get bored waiting for the bus or coming back from work. In the end of the day, I also still prefer reading printed zines over online stuff, tape and vinyl over streaming platforms, and even emails over facebook messenger (handwritten letters are extremely rare these days).

Cheaptoys #21, along with back issues, is available for prix libre (pay-what-you-want) in person and €2 postage paid worldwide from Bus Stop Press label & distro.
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