Zine Scene 89, a chapter from Walking Man, a novel by Tim W. Brown

Zine Scene 89, a chapter from Walking Man, a novel by Tim W. Brown, published in 2008. Originally appeared in Cantaraville, issue 2 (2007).
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  From Walking Man , a NovelBy Tim W. Brown  From the same metafictional universe as the films  Best in Show and This is Spinal Tap , Walking Man documents the life and times of Brian Walker, publisher of the zine “WalkingMan.” Through a fateful encounter between his foot and a yuppie's BMW, Brian becomes themost famous zine publisher in America and a rabid defender of pedestrian rights. Meanwhile,he must juggle the ambitions of his sexy actress girlfriend with his soaring celebrity. Writtenin the tradition of the scandalous tell-all biography, Walking Man satirizes so-called alternative culture while it fondly recollects the 80s and 90s zine scene. 1  Zine Scene 89Chapter from Walking Man, a NovelBy Tim W. BrownFour hours and ten minutes after taking off, Brian’s plane landed at San FranciscoInternational Airport. The rapid descent caused pressure to build in Brian’s ears, “making mefeel like somebody was jabbing knitting needles into them.” He complained that he couldn’thear for most of the weekend, that “everybody sounded like they were talking inside a toiletwith the lid down.” All told, flying was a disappointment. “When you watch an airplane takeoff or land, it looks so graceful as it floats on pillows of air. But inside an airplane the realityis far different: flying is like riding in a bus down a rutted gravel road.”Greeting Brian at the gate was an individual who identified himself as “Ratboy,” a slightrodent-faced guy who said he published a zine called  Rat’s Ass . Ratboy, a Bay Area native,was one of a half-dozen volunteers who met zine VIPs at the airport and took them to their hotels. “I recognized you from the picture the Chronicle runs every time somebody is shotafter kicking a car,” he said to Brian, directing him to baggage claim. Brian had become soaccustomed to seeing his picture in newspapers beside reports of driver-pedestrianaltercations that he did not comment.Once they had retrieved Brian’s duffel bag, they walked to the parking garage and gotinto an orange Volkswagen Beetle. “You rarely see these anymore,” Brian said admiringly.“Yeah, I know. This one belonged to my parents srcinally. It’s got about two hundredand ten thousand miles on it. Still runs like a top, though.”The duo cruised up Highway 101, exited onto Interstate 80 and drove onto a largesuspension bridge. “Is this the Golden Gate Bridge?” Brian asked expectantly.“No, that’s over there,” Ratboy said, pointing. “We’re on the Bay Bridge.” Brian cranedhis neck in an attempt to view as much of the famed bridge as possible. He also glimpsed inthe distance the pyramid-shaped Transamerica Building, which over its brief life had evolvedinto San Francisco’s second-most-recognized landmark. A sense of wonder and disbelief overtook him as he realized that he was actually in San Francisco. He cracked his windowand greedily inhaled the salty sea air. 1  About ten minutes later they entered the city of Berkeley. As they drove through town,Brian noticed many blocked streets, buildings covered with scaffolding, piles of rubble andother signs of construction. “That from the earthquake?” he asked, referring to the recentLoma Prieta quake.“Yeah, probably. Fucked a whole lot of shit up.”“When it happened I was afraid they were going to cancel the conference.”“The planners talked about it. But the city got shit cleaned up enough that we decidedthe show could still go on.”“Where were you at when it hit? Was your place damaged?”“I was in a bar in Oakland―that’s where I live―waiting to watch the World Series onTV. Luckily, there wasn’t any structural damage to my apartment. Just some broken dishesand glasses. I don’t have too much shit, and even less shit that’s breakable.”“That must’ve been something, living through an earthquake,” said Brian.“I could’ve done without it.”A few minutes later, Ratboy dropped Brian off at the Shattuck Hotel, located about a block away from the University of California campus. Behind a card table inside the lobby of the handsome historical landmark hotel sat a pale, dark-haired young woman with prominenteyebrows. She wore a black tank top whose printed message was too peeled off to read. Shelounged with her hands clasped behind her head, sharing with the world a view of her hairyarmpits. “BRIAN WALKER!” she called, then motioned Brian to approach. “I’m a huge-huge-HUGE fan of your zine!” With each utterance of the word “huge,” her “bra-less boobs bobbed,” Brian noted. She introduced herself as Suzie Q, publisher of a zine called Virginia Dare . “It’s a personal zine about a woman just out of college―me―reborn in the urbanwilderness.” She took up several sheets of paper from piles on the table and handed them toBrian, along with a newsprint souvenir program detailing every Zine Scene 89 activityscheduled for the weekend.Brian thanked Suzie Q, and then he checked himself into the hotel at the front desk across the lobby. His room was part of a block reserved by the conference organizers on thethird floor. As he entered the elevator, Suzie Q raised her hand and waved. Brian waved back, 2
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