While I was living in Manchester he sent it to me in the mail along with some stickers and a pair of 3d glasses. It was edition one of a nano fiction zine called Plastic Knife. I loved it and read it countless times. When I returned to Melbourne he broke my heart. I threw the zine away along with other letters and postcards and the like. I never wanted to read any of those zines again. They were connected to a heart pop so painful that any reminder caused deep and horrendous torture coupled with immense embarressment at being taken for a silly little lovesick girl. A lovesick girl that was so arrogant as to believe she was good enough to be have her affections reciprocated. The zine was taken as a sign a sign that he felt as strongly as I did but that was not in the manner that it was gifted. It was a token of affection, yes but not the true love cementing type of affection.
Finally though days turned into weeks and weeks into months and on a morning that I found myself on my way to a place where I could accidentally bump into him, I instead followed my own footsteps which led me unwittingly to a small independent shop located in the underpass down the steps leading from Degraves street. I walked into Sticky Institute, scanned the shelves until my eyes fell on what I was searching for. Theye were almost all there including the first one which I had thrown away in a fit of bruised egocentric rage. I picked up editions 1, 3,4,5 and 6 and took them to the counter where a man wearing bright red lipstick and silver bracelets on his left writs, smiled at me and took my money. He was completely unaware of what a momentous occasion this was.
The stories in Plastic Knife are no longer than a paragraph and no shorter than one sentence. They are typed on a vintage typewriter by a person who remains a mystery though you can email them. Each zine has a plastic knife glued to the front cover. Plastic Knife is only one of the many writerly expressions stored in the small store. All the books have been made by people yearning to be heard to cast thier view points and ideas out into the world like beautiful ships at sea for those who wish to, to jump on in and look around. They do it not for financial gain they do it not for adulation that will result in rewards or fancy dinners where people make speeches and other people chink long delicate flutes filled with champagne to toast to their magnificence. The Sticky Institute is a shrine to independent and joyous self expression. If you need a soft and inspiring reminder as to why you write at all, I recommend this place.
The other day I had a play date in the city with my tall friend Emmie. Emmie and I met when she was the girlfriend of my friend Aiden. The relationship between them lasted a year but my friendship with her did not diminish as a result of the break up. We have too much in common not to remain friends. While drunk two week before the termination of their boyfriend/ girlfriend status, Aiden commented to me. ”My girlfriend loves you more than she loves me.”
”I only have a budget for 20$ expenditure at Sticky.” Emmie told me as we made our way through the city lunch crowd.
”OK that is the limit I will set for myself also.” I said. ”’It is important to be sure of a limit before entering the place because otherwise you end up with an armful of zines and no money left over for coffee or cake.”
There was no other customers in the store when we entered, only an incredibley handsome guy standing behind the counter. He was lean and wearing big black framed glasses. His hair was brown and cut short emphasising his angular jaw.He smiled at us as we looked around. A blue plastic knife caught my eye and I saw it was issue 9 of Plastic Knife only this edition was a split zine with YOU. YOU is a free zine I began collecting when I first moved to melbourne and had no money. Every week a pile of them would be displayed in Plyester Records on Brunswick Street. You is merely hand written letters photocopied and placed in envelopes with a stamped YOU on the back. The letters are from a Melbourne fellow by the name of Luke. He tells of his day to day comings and goings in a frank and candid manner. He has been doing it for years and his letters have been collected in a book, the first 5 years worth anyway. I pick up a copy of the split zine and open at random to read an excerpt.
Dear You, I want to wake up in the morning and roll over and kiss Anya. From Luke. I close the zine and keep it under my left arm as I continue looking. I also pick up issue 8 of Plastic Knife. Only 6$ spent so far. I explain the history of the two Zines I have chosen to Emmie. She picks up copies as well and flicks through them with interest. A song by Human League is playing from a cd player behind the counter, Electric Dreams it is called.
It then I discover an art gallery in a cardbourd box the size of a post card. It is issue 35 of KART a magazine of multiplicity. I open the small box and peek inside it smells like an art studio the strong and pleasant smell of oil paints.There is a small knitted piece of yellow in the shape of a banana. in addition to 15 works of art. KART is curated by David Dellafiora. The instant art collection in a box is produced in limited editions of 40. The content of the box was from all over the world with art from South Africa, Germany and Italy. I fell in love with it straight away and was determined to buy it before I even knew how much it was. I checked the small circular orange sticker: 12$. No problem! I thought excitedly. The excitement of finding something unique and hand made. Only 40 of these were lovingly put together by a person who lived in Geelong!
My swag of creative expression was at a total of 18$ ”I am done.” I declared to Emmie and we each took our collections of readerlyand visual wonderment to cheek bones at the counter. ”I wonder if I should just release each letter I wrote to you know who as a zine.” I contemplated aloud to my friend as she took money from her purse to pay for her zines. ”I could make them pretty.”’
”You could definately do that.” Emmie agreed. ”But how?”
”I got the letters back from him ages ago.” I explained. ”I did not want them sitting under the bed he now shares with her and no doubts fucks her on as well. Or worse still have them where he could drunkenly show her one night and they could laugh at how pathetic I sound on every page.”
”Oh do not talk about it, you make me so sad.” Emmie cried.
”But it is ok.” I insisted. I placed my chosen purchases on the counter covered with a multitude of different photocopied little books in an array of colours. I smiled up into the cute face of the shop assistant. He was wearing a blue and white checked shirt under a dark blue knitted jumper. ”That will be 8$ he said smiling into my eyes.
”Thanks.” I said with a grin, handing him a 5 $ note a 2$ coin and a 1$ coin.
”Have you taken a copy of the latest YOU? He asked stepping out from behind the counter to grab two small brown paper bags with the familiar stamp on the paper. He handed one to Emmie and one to me. ”Thanks so much.” I said.
As soon as we were a few steps from the store we burst out with excitement about how very dreamy he was. ”He loved you.” Emmie said as we walked up the stairs to emerge once again in Degraves street.
”What makes you say that?” I said
”How much did you pay for your stuff?”
”And how much were they actually?”
”Are you going to create a comic about how you met your zine loving boyfriend?” Emmie asked.
I basked in the glow of that cute boys good deed all day.