caught in flux
was a zine published in New York City between 1993 and 1999.

issues #1 through #3 are sold out.
issues #4 through #7 still available through for
$2.00 (north america), $3.00 (europe), or $4.00 (asia/australia) per copy.

click on the links below to read online excerpts.

click here for info on writer's block, my first zine.

questions/comments:  mike at appelstein dot com.

cif7.jpg (52337 bytes) Caught In Flux #7.  March 1999, 1000 copies.
Interviews:  Sheggi Clarkson (ex-Fat Tulips/Melons), Oklahoma Scramble, Red Monkey, Beanpole, Mitch Easter, Sleepy Township, Beikoku-Ongaku magazine.
Features:  The Poconos' 1997 performance diary, comics by Hikaru Furuhashi.

Produced in the months immediately preceding my wedding.  Why do I always get motivated to do this zine during incredibly busy times?  Here you'll find the usual mix of interviews, reviews and retrospectives.  No Rough Trade artists this issue, though we did track down Sheggi, the lead singer of the legendary Fat Tulips, and members of early K Records band Oklahoma Scramble.  The Poconos had broken up by this point, and Tami and I recounted our memoirs in a long performance diary, complete with photos and set lists.   I designed the cover, and I'm pleased to say did an OK job of it this time.  The last issue, at least for now.

cif6.jpg (51974 bytes) Caught In Flux #6.  July 1997, 1000 copies.
Jane Fox (ex-Marine Girls) Debsey Wykes and Rachel Bor (ex-Dolly Mixture), Bis, Laura MacFarlane, Wandering Lucy, Kumari, The I Live The Life Of A Movie Star Secret Hideout, Neil Hamburger.
Features:  "New Sounds, New Styles" (a collection of answers to a Teenage magazine pen-pal ad circa 1984),  comics by Karen Broyles

So much was happening during this period. I went to Britain for the first time, moved apartments, formed a band called The Poconos with my new roommate Tami, and started going out with my wife Callie.  This issue was inspired by all the exciting things that were going on.  It was amazing to interview members of the Marine Girls and Dolly Mixture in England, and fun to talk to Bis about Scottish music and customs.  However, most people who've seen this issue seem to prefer the Teenage pen-pal letters.  You too will thrill to the real-time '80s references.  Yes, kid, your older sister actually swooned over Nik Kershaw at one point.

cif5.jpg (51659 bytes) Caught In Flux #5.  April 1996, 750 copies.
Ros Allen/Delta 5, The Pastels, The Receptionists.
Features:  Shoebox Full of Love/Nik-L-Nip tour diary (summer 1995), Georgia vacation diary (December 1995), comics by Jen Wolfe

By now you may have noticed an early-1980s theme popping up in Caught In Flux.   This was and is intentional.  I am a huge fan of the early-1980s postpunk scene, especially the artists who recorded for Rough Trade and  Cherry Red.   It's always amazed me that there wasn't easily-accessible information on these artists, so I decided to write about them myself.  Mind you, this was before the Internet took off.  Nowadays the situation isn't as dire as it once was, though information on this scene is still harder to come by than it should be.  Anyway, in this issue you'll find a mail interview with Ros Allen, bassist for quirky Leeds group Delta 5.  They were contemporaries with the Mekons and Gang of Four, but never quite matched those successes.  In a similar vein, there's a chat with the Pastels, who started out in postpunk era and never stopped.

cif4.jpg (59939 bytes) Caught In Flux #4.  June 1995, about 600 copies.
Interviews:  Palmolive, Loud Family, Vinyl Devotion, Rastro!, Bunnygrunt.
Features: Martin Newell, my 10-year high school reunion

One day Paloma McLardy -- who once drummed for the Slits and Raincoats under the nom de plume "Palmolive" -- walked into a Boston record store looking for old Slits records.  It turned out she was living in Cape Cod, where she was married, raising a family, and playing in her church's Christian band.  We visited her in Cape Cod and conducted this issue's exclusive interview.  It was a relief that Paloma didn't disavow her punk past after embracing religion. Later we saw her play in the church coffeehouse; the repertoire included a version of the Slits' "FM" with key lyrics changed to praise Jesus.  It was certainly one of the most surreal days of my life.  I still can't believe it happened.

Also: I attend my ten-year reunion, find it nowhere near as oppressive as expected, and write about it at great length.  This was my first time designing a CIF cover.  If I could do it again, I'd have changed the background color and made the graphic a little less, uh, wordy.  A friend suggested that I made the issue look "like an auto-supply catalog."

cif3.jpg (64356 bytes) Caught In Flux #3: How I Discovered Music.  September 1994, 700 copies total (500 grey cover, 200 green cover).

Stories and essays

Probably the best-regarded issue.  What's funny is that it wasn't originally conceived as a CIF at all, but rather a one-off collaboration with Alyssa of Second Skin zine.  In the summer of 1993, we'd been individually corresponding with this guy Jon Melnick, who subscribed to both our publications.  He was asking us both about formative influences: "No one is born an indie-rocker," he suggested in a letter to me.  "What did you listen to before you discovered this stuff?"  Alyssa and I hit on an idea of doing a theme issue based on these interesting exchanges.  Early on, however, she bowed out of the project: she had about 7 or 8 projects going on at once, not the least of which was graduating college and moving back to Portland, OR.  So I began to collect stories on my own as I was working on CIF #2, and worked pertinent questions into interviews.

One of my goals in doing this was to subtly, gently critique the indier-than-thou atmosphere.  Especially in the mid-90s, it seemed like everyone I knew was acting like they were born hip.  I remember discussing this project with one particular friend, and he said, "I remember my first record.  It was Slates by the Fall."  I mean, can we stop lying for a minute?  I wanted to remind people that we all start our musical journeys somewhere, and it's OK if it wasn't with something hip.  At the same time, I wanted to avoid the kitschy attitude that was just starting to surface in zines like Ben Is Dead.  The idea was to tell good, honest stories, not to revel in retro chic.

By the summer of 1994 -- about a year later -- I had about three dozen stories, interviews and essays.  I took a bus to Boston, and put together the layouts with Jen Matson and Jon Chaikin at their apartment.  I'd felt the need for a short vacation, and they had much better computer equipment than I did.  I'm sure I drove them crazy with my deadline-induced panic attacks and incessant questions, but they were helpful and patient.

I'm proud to make this issue available online, complete with outtakes that didn't make it into the printed version.


cif2.jpg (56275 bytes) Caught In Flux #2.  January 1994, 300 copies.
Interviews:  Silly Pillows, Tiger Trap, Tracey Thorn.
Features:  Record reviews , live rev
iews, in-home playlist, Gretchen Phillips' guide to bad video
Web Extra!  Jayne Casey (previously unpublished)

This is probably the slightest issue, but parts of it still make me smile -- particularly the Tracey Thorn "interview," which is really just a long letter about her experiences in the Marine Girls.  It set the stage nicely for interviewing Marine Girls bassist Jane Fox three years later.  I'm also pleased to offer an interview with Jayne Casey that was supposed to be in this issue, but never made it.   For the life of me, I can't figure out why.  Here it is now, anyway.

Linda drew the cover based on a story I'd told her.  Shortly after issue #1, I went to see Stereolab play at Maxwell's.  After the show, I got to chat with them a little bit -- my friend Elisabeth knew them somewhat -- and I gave them a copy of my zine.  Weeks later, I got a letter from a reader who'd "found a copy of your zine on a table at Maxwell's."  Though I was a little crestfallen that Stereolab had chosen not to keep the zine, I was happy they at least didn't throw it out.  The cover art, therefore, is Linda's conception of Maxwell's after the show.  Note the copy of CIF #1 on the bottom-right table.

Caught In Flux #1.  May 1993, 350 issues total (250 blue cover, 100 green cover).
Interviews:  The Spinanes, Stuart Moxham.
Record reviews

This was meant as a one-off to dispose of material I'd collected for the never-published ninth issue of Writer's Block.  It ended up being the first of several issues.  Cover drawing by my then-roommate Linda Simensky, currently a successful producer at Cartoon Network.  (You can thank her, in part, for the Powerpuff Girls.)  She designed all but two of the subsequent covers.

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