Ben Is Dead
#26 $3.95 (P.O. Box 3166, Hollywood, CA 90028)
by Nik Rainey
As you’ve probably sussed by now, the subject of “retro” has been the hot topic around Lollipop headquarters lately. Typically, the discussions begin with passionate disavowals of the whole notion and end with coffee-fueled renditions of our favorite Schoolhouse Rock songs. Can’t escape retro youngsters; you’re soaking in it. The fine folks at Ben Is Dead, consistently one of the meatiest ‘zine slabs around, recognize the problem. Their solution? Regurgitate the whole retrolada and be done with it. This is the second installment of their three-part “Retro Hell!” series, stuffed to the gills with remembrances of pop-cult’s past, comprehensive and highly personal, but scarcely nostalgic. Included this time ’round are: Part One of their A-Z retropedia, memories of iron-on T-shirt decals, an attempt to discuss the kiddie records of yore with the staff of L.A.’s Mondo Video a Go Go (which quickly degenerates into a muddle of obscene insults and anti-social behavior on the part of the store’s staff), and, of course, a lengthy talk with America’s favorite squeeze-box parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic. There’s even a serious first-hand examination of Hollywood’s squatter sub-culture for redeeming social value. Surprisingly, cleaning out the cheesiest corners of our cultural attic like this manages the near-impossible – they have their kitsch and eat it too. All that and an ex-Germ on the staff! Dy-no-mite!!