Reviewed by Mike Mosher
The Ann Arbor, Michigan youth-produced free antiwar publication Armistice has published its sixth issue, dated Summer, 2010. Originally a newsprint magazine and project of Michigan Peaceworks, that organization's name appears nowhere in this issue. The fact that this issue is xeroxed in murky black and white—with a two-color flower hand-drawn in the barrel of the AK-47 on the cover!—is not the only thing that makes this reader suspect it's now more independent of the grown-up peaceniks.
Tariq Louzon's "Why Mr. Obama Has a Right to be Angry with Us", in its call for citizen involvement, could be a valedictorian's address to his high school graduating class. There's a love poem "30-" by Hailey Patel—"will she tell her friends that I'm her aunt?"—and two pieces by Elise Wander on the BP oil spill. Whereas earlier issues' pieces sometimes had the voice of a teen eagerly trying to please her liberal parents, pieces like "Party Loyalty", "Reaganism Rears Its Ugly Head", "Educating Activists" and "Eradication of the Activist Species" have the groping, hesitant, contradictory feeling of young people trying to figure out politics on their own. And while that might leave the reader quizzical as to the zine's immediate efficacy in ending war—declaring a global armistice—one emerges confident the kids are all right.
Yet the graphic design is lame. Above the aforementioned automatic rifle the cover sports a giant eyeball. Two fine cartoons appear uncredited in the inside front cover, one a four-panel comic printed painfully small. Two murky-to-the-point-of-useless photos of the Democratic candidates for Governor of Michigan appear directly under Foster Kitchen's grisly poem about putting a severed nose in a jar, rather than as a part of William Penner-Hahn's factual report on those candidates. Two photo images by Zaineb Al-Kalby are difficult to read, as is a punkishly attractive collage of words and smeary cut-out magazine photos on the back cover. In all, too few images in the magazine's 28 pages. These kids should visit the University of Michigan Libraries' Labadie Collection files on Youth and Politics to peruse the splendid underground papers 1967-74 the Argus and the Sun, published in your town and showcasing the admirable designer Gary Grimshaw, among much other inspiring imagery of struggle.
It's been a tough time for radical papers in Ann Arbor, as it has been for establishment ones. Since its radical paper Critical Moment has apparently gone under, a drier, more sectarian one out of Chicago has replaced it in kiosks. A promising local paper called the Bohemian stalled early this year after only three issues. So the humble Armistice ends up as the most interesting oppositional periodical to be found in that fat, satisfied university town.
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Mike Mosher has been a Bad Subject since 1994.