In a time where most fanzines seem to stay as far away as possible from curvy gravel roads through remote terrains in favor for the electronic highway, itís nice to see that there are still people going in the other direction. The Nevada City, California-based Dream Magazine is such an example. Here youíll find no intentions to short things down, no willingness to adapt to another format and above all a vision that not might be easily described but still is amazingly clear. If a certain interview needs ten pages packed with dense text thatís exactly what the final outcome will look like. It might seem easy to not compromise when youíre doing your own Ďzine back home in the bedroom, and xeroxing the whole thing on some relativeís copying machine at work, but thatís not at all the case with Dream. On the contrary we get a publication that in terms of spirit unquestionably is a fanzine but still looks like a magazine and with every issue there is even a compilation CD of highest possible caliber. It probably goes without saying that this is a financial equation that simply isnít possible solve, and even though thatís one of Parsons' long-term goals it is still somehow secondary. It seems to be his belief that there is nothing wrong with a positive number on the bank account but never if the price means that he somehow has to abandon his ideals or reduce the quality of the mag. We got in touch with Parsons to find out what it is that inspires him, but more importantly to spread the gospel about his work.
I was born near the middle of the last century in Nevada City, California; which was still a really cool little town (and remained so until it was gutted for tourism in the mid-70s). I always loved to draw pictures. I would look at photographs of Saturn in awe, and I had plans of building a rocketship to go there with my Aunt Mable and my dog Shep; which still seems like a good plan though Shep is long gone. My childhood was an odd combination of bliss and torment. I've been blessed with an amazing parade of friends who have all helped me a lot. I stayed with friends in San Francisco in the early 70s, where I met folks like Chet Baker, Hibiscus, and lots of other people who are dead now. I abused a wide variety of controlled substances which later on led to the creation of Nevada City's first punk band (The Negatives) in 1977. I moved to San Francisco in the 80s, and stayed there until a big earthquake scared me, and I scuttled back up the hills and bought a house before it was too late. My parents are both deceased, my daughter is a great friend and thanks to her I have three grandchildren, my surviving sister has nine children (my other sister was murdered a few years ago), so I have an interesting extended family to keep things amusing.
I grew up in a home with NO MUSIC at all, playing the radio for anything other than baseball games was strictly forbidden. I distinctly remember hearing Buddy Holly singing "That'll Be the Day" on a jukebox as an infant and being thrilled in a way Iíd never been before. I think not being allowed to listen to music at all for the first years of my life made me hungry for it for the rest of my life. I also was a young kid when The Beatles cheered us all up after JFK's assassination, and the enthusiasm inspired by that has never abated. The psychedelic scene hit as I reached puberty, and the combination of those sounds, massive amounts of psychoactive substances, and my own fitful maturation combined to manifest a distinctly heady personal environment which has colored my path ever since.
I formed and fronted the aforementioned "punk rock" band (we covered "Lucifer Sam" by Pink Floyd, as well as songs by Pere Ubu, Sex Pistols, the Modern Lovers, and the Damned, as well as a lot of original songs with charming titles like: "We Hate You") in the mid '70s, which later led to the creation of the cassette music anthology "The Other" (90 minute cassette, 32 page booklet) which produced two issues before my business partner ran into some difficulties and the tapes for the third issue were lost and found and lost again for the next couple decades. The unissued third issue would have featured unreleased material by: Ken Nordine, Deep Freeze Mice, Legendary Pink Dots, Hafler Trio, Twinkeyz, Steve Fisk, etc.) I was a broadcasting DJ, record librarian, and Music Director at a local FM radio station. I was a broadcaster for 22 years; these were some of the happiest times of my life. When I, and several other broadcasters were "banned for life" from the station, I took the momentum of my broadcasting energy and poured it into what would become Dream Magazine. I also currently make strange little songs and sounds in my computer that I may or may not release at some point if I can think up a good name for it, because it's not George Parsons, it's definitely something else.
I'm not sure. My tastes in music and sound seem to be expanding all the time; though there are still some things I stumble on. I think it comes from having an open mind, and possibly the facility to see a wider range of beauty than many folks. I think many people confuse pretty with beautiful. Also I've had some great musical guides (such as yourself), and I'm a good listener.
I got involved in doing underground comics in the later 80s, which led to me self publishing an anthology of various cartoonists doing stories based on dreams called DREAM, which featured work by myself and folks like: Jim Woodring, Dan Clowes, Julie Doucet, and many others. I lost too much money, and the next project I self-published became the music based Dream Magazine which I figured had a slightly better chance for survival, and so far I was correct in this assumption. And itís beginning coincided with my departure from a very active role as a radio broadcaster.
The title is a holdover from the initial comics anthology and my lifelong fascination with dreams and dream inspired (or inspiring) art of all varieties. Dreams are the one psychedelic experience that everyone has shared, without the negative stigma of drugs. So it seemed like a natural bridge to me. I also am interested in all aspects of dream research, and exploration, and feel that dreaming can be of invaluable assistance to anyone involved in an investigation of their own true nature.
To reach as many readers as possible without having to cover stuff that bores me (yet interests millions of others). Iíd also like to break even some day; that's a real dream. I'd also like to grow my list of
contributors a bit; though you, and Sasa Rakezic, Kevin Moist, Byron Coley, and now Jose Marmeleira and Ethan Gicker have all made memorable contributions. It's just too much work to do it all (which was largely the case in the first couple issues). Iíd also very much like to expand my coverage of DVDs, books, and publications. But, to be honest I had no set goal; it was just something I had to do, and continue to do.
Ptolemaic Terrascope, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Broken Face, Punk, Castle of Frankenstein, Dr. Strange, Op, Air Pirates Funnies, Zap Comics, Arthur, Avant Garde, Kicks, Robots and Electronic Brains, Crohinga Well, Eightball, Frank, Jim, Andy Warholís Interview, Wet, Slash, Psychotronic, Ugly Things, Creem, Forced Exposure, Arcade, Weirdo, everything Jack Kirby ever did, Chemical Imbalance, Deep Water, all the E.C. Comics, Ba Da Bing Gramophone, etc., not that Iím as brilliant as any of them, but connected and indebted I am.
I don't think the majority of folks that read the thing bother to give any feedback to be honest. I seldom bother to write to the publications I read. I've read Tape Op, National Geographic and Giant Robot for years and love the magazines, but I've never dropped them a note saying so. The people that do write or email are usually impassioned and curious. A lot of them are highly articulate; which is likely why they choose to write in any form. The tone I get from the majority of readers is that they are starving for great music and highly receptive to our humble suggestions. There is also the underlying feeling that we are living in sort of a musical "dark age" when everything of worth has gone underground, and all the stuff that sells millions is mostly unmitigated shit. The few that are "paying attention" are enthused enough to compensate for the silent majority of readers.
I suspect I play no role in underground music at all. At best I consider myself sort of a verbal cheerleader. If something deserves encouragment Iím happy to offer that, and I like the idea of turning people on to something that they will enjoy. I also like attempting to describe in words what something sounds or feels like. Writing the reviews is the most difficult and the most fun part of doing the thing. Though it IS a thrill to exchange email, phone calls, or in person conversations with many of the folks we have chatted with for the magazine. As for the role of the magazine changing... I donít look too far forward. It's affordable for now, and I'm committed to doing issue #5, so I know that one will happen. I suspect I'll do more, and I probably will, but I'm definitely playing it by ear, making it up as I go along.
Well that is a bit of the situation, but that inner circle always shares that information and infects others with curiousity. I'm certainly one of the folks that read your's and Phil's magazines, and you have both helped shape the range of stuff I cover, but that all seems pretty natural to me. There is always the danger of being too insular, but thatís also part of sharing anything, whether itís favorite TV shows, or favorite drone bands.
It's an occupational hazard, but I think more folks are getting curious about modern underground music all the time, so the readership seems to be expanding. I always felt like the best parties were the ones with the greatest variety of guests.
OK; some of this has happened, some has not and some may never happen: Robert Wyatt, Ghost, The Lost Domain, Terry Riley (pt. 2), John Trubee, Tinsel, Gary Panter, Musical Nightmares, Rick Griffin, Bipolaroid, Kemialliset Ystavat, Eclipse Records and maybe Sun City Girls, Tom Rapp, and Michael Hurley... There are some other things as well, but Iíll wait to talk about those later.
Hmmmm... I hope it's still going and growing. I'd like to put out two 200 page issues (each with a double cd) a year for the rest of my life, but that's not too likely. I hope I've sold a screenplay within the next five years so I can start making some money at doing art. I'd also like to be painting a lot more, those are my goals.
Different rooms in the same building. Doing drawings or paintings is where I get to fly. Words in any form are infinitely less expressive or malleable. I find inspiration in everything, good, bad, anger, happiness, sorrow, sexuality, the weather, people, animals, plantlife, astronomy, my family, my friends, my microscope, my telescope, and my dreams. Music most of all pushes my brush around the canvas, painting to Albert Ayler is how life should always be. Which is why doing illos for The Broken Face was always so easy; I'd just slap on whoever you were covering and blank out my mind and draw. No work at all.
Geo: The only difficult part is doing "a few". When I first lived in SF back in '71-'72, I went to at least two films a day for six months, often up to four or more.
No order to these...
"Amarcord" - Perhaps Fellini's most perfect film, but I love almost all of them. "Eraserhead" - Actually met the star Jack Nance at a midnight showing in SF, a nightmare fully realized. A true otherworldly vision and the bodacious debut of David Lynch. Everything by Lars Von Trier. "Ghost World" - I actually know the guys that made this! I love this almost as much as the original Clowes story. Really fun and touching too. "Underground" - Mind blowing and brilliant work of severe genius by Emir Kusturica. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" - Maybe my favorite film by Sergei Parajanov. Like some ancient tapestry come to life. "Beauty & the Beast" and "Orpheus" Jean Cocteau did all kinds of art, but he was never this eloquent in any other form, visual poetry. "Wings of Desire" - Best love story ever filmed. Wim Wenders finest moment, though I really like many of his earlier films, and "Paris Texas" is a close second fave of his work. "Chinatown" - A flawless and purely Californian film noir vision by (one of the greatest living directors) Roman Polanski, with a great soundtrack by "Cutter's Way" - Another highly Californian film noir variant though this time itís several decades later. Soundtrack by Jack Nietzche. "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain", but the "Fando & Lis" DVD is worthwhile and the bonus documentary on Jodorowsky is worth the price of admission on itís own. ďThe Wizard of OzĒ - Still as strong as it was when it was made. Maybe the greatest Hollywood film of all time. Everything by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress, Dodes 'ka-den, Seven Samurai, Ikiru, High & Low, Yojimbo, Dreams, Rashomon, Sanjuro, Dersu Uzala, etc. Jim Jarmusch is always rewarding, "Dead Man" is my favorite though; certainly one of the most dreamlike films in recent years. "The Happiness of the Katikuris" Just brilliant fun and funny, the most charming face Takeshi Miike has shown the world yet and itís still quite twisted. "Ed Wood" Tim Burtonís masterpiece, though he's done some other great ones between the awful ones. "The Man Who Wasnít There"- The Coen Brother's greatest of MANY great ones, again a classic film noir this time in incredible black & white. "The Saragossa Manuscript" Rightly legendary visionary pre-psychedelic story within a story within a story within a story....
A few titles: Magnolia, Hour of the Wolf, Memento, Rosemary's Baby, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Help!, Evil Dead II, Suspiria, Telefono Roso, Fanny & Alexander, Morgan, The Last Man on Earth, Mud Honey, The Player, Short Cuts, American Beauty, Lon Chaney Sr., and Buster Keaton in general...
Yeah, I like the finished film very much. They sent me an advance DVD, and I watched it later with an audience at the SF debut, it rocks! The audience was rolling in the aisles at all the right places, I even got a couple laughs, though I'm a bit more poignant than most of the film's talking heads. I think it does its job of spreading the mystery of the eternally enigmatic Jandek better than I dreamt it might. I've heard that he's pleased with it as well, so what more could one wish for, and how rare is that? I got involved when Corwood Industries (Jandek's label) gave the filmmakers Chad Freidricks and Paul Fehler my contact information because I was one of the few people that Jandek had spoken to over the course of his 26 year career. Instead of doing an on camera interview or talking to the filmmakers, Jandek chose instead to give out the contact information on everyone who had encountered him in any way, the results are so thematically unified that it really works. As one of the folks says in the film "It's all about negative space." And wait'll you catch my rock tossing acrobatics.
The Serbian art 'zine Kvartal is running a folio of my drawings and some sort of bio, and the Australian magazine Art Visionary is running something on me in an upcoming issue. I'm doing some home improvements and mail art, as well as doing art and working on issue #5 almost every day.
Time, energy and enough sleep.
-- Mats Gustafsson (25 June, 2005)