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Askew Review 15

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UNEMPLOYMENT by Aaron Lake Smith (Microcosm) 2009. 6”x4” zine. 44 pages. In this thought-provoking, fun-sized zine, Aaron Lake Smith tackles the basic shittiness of joblessness (lack of money, lowered self-esteem and even the loss of comfort upon suddenly losing your daily routine), but he also- more interestingly- explores the paralyzing effects unemployment can have on one’s ability to really do anything at all. Smith goes on to talk about how when you have a job (especially one you’re not really into), you long for the type of free time that being out of work would provide so you could write or make music or travel or do whatever the fuck it is you really want to be doing. Yet when this time actually opens up for him in the form of no job, Smith just can’t seem to do any of these sorts of things. All he really ends up doing is starting each day by restlessly and half-heartedly looking for work, and then pissing away his time afterwards, maybe occasionally breaking things up by getting drunk. Unemployment can be an especially insidious bastard when you think of it in this way.
   Right now, 10% of the U. S. of A. can straight up relate to Unemployment simply because they ain’t got no jobs themselves. But you don’t have to actually be out of work to really feel what Smith’s writing about. He’s reluctant to accept certain job opportunities because he feels the work itself would be a total drag and could end up trapping him in a state of ennui and in a place he doesn’t want to be for years to come, and this really made me think about what’s pointless and soul-sucking about my own occupation. Yet- as Smith touches on here- I’m afraid to just chuck it for something I might like better due to the various ill-effects described in the paragraph above. Likewise, Smith’s thoughts about how the artistically inclined have to come to grips with the need to create their particular form(s) of art versus the need to settle into a job just to exist are also compelling.
   I know a bunch of people who have recently been laid off, mostly from the company I’m still employed by. I think I’m going to run this zine by them and get their perspectives on what Smith has to say. I imagine they’ll agree with a lot of it. And whatever your circumstances are, this is bound to make you think. –Ben Hunter  

Suggested listening while digesting the contents of this zine: The Neurotics’ “Living With Unemployment,” which is a great take on being out of work done to the tune of The Members’ excellent “Solitary Confinement,” which you should also listen to at some point, whether you’re unemployed or not. And come to think of it, “Solitary Confinement” actually addresses, in part, being stuck in a job you hate, which is another theme explored here. Then just because you should, check out “Suzi,” another fine Neurotics song, following it up with The Beltones’ absolutely fantastic update that takes the former from a tale of love-gone-wrong in the CB Age to a love-gone-wrong scenario in the Cyber Age. So that’s four delightful songs for you right there, and played back to back they’d take about the same amount of time as reading this entire zine. And if your unemployed ass can’t afford to download these songs, I’ll email ‘em to you. -BH




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