Zine Roundup: Sweet simplicity

  • Self portrait at the Wash House on 29th

    Dan Price
  • Moonlight Chronicles

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, "Undaunted muckraker," in a special issue about community media in the West.

Dan Price’s media empire is centered in a kind of hobbit hole in a meadow in Joseph, Ore., where his 2003 Toshiba photocopier prints 200 copies every two months of a zine called Moonlight Chronicles. One of five experiments in natural/sustainable building that Price has erected over the years, the 6-by-10-foot wooden structure is partially sunk into the ground and covered with boulders, except for a skylight and three porthole windows. Price heats it with a ceramic wood-burning stove at a cost of about 25 cents a day. It’s a fitting home for a publication whose mantra is simplicity.

Zines, with their roots in punk rock and anarchist culture, tend to be fleeting, self-published and narrow in scope. Moonlight Chronicles is something quite different. Price, 49, travels throughout the West and beyond, writing, photographing and drawing the often-overlooked details of the landscape and populace: the eyes of streetlamps in Roswell, N.M., the dome of the Capitol in Helena, Mont., farmworkers picking strawberries in Southern California. The Chronicles is full of snippets from books, and carries the Web addresses of alternative building sites, gas-efficient cars and local artists. It connects a tangle of modern "hobos" in search of something beyond the everyday tumult and sprawl of the West today.

Price’s readers are of all ages. "I’ve gotten hundreds of letters from people who say, ‘Thank you, thank you for what you do. You’re making me look at the little things in life and slow way down.’ I think (my work) gives people a license to be creative for some reason," he says. "When you’re doing such an oddball thing, you kind of wonder sometimes. That mail really keeps me going."

A heartbreaking divorce spurred Price to change his lifestyle and dig deeper into his art. Since 1992, he has created 55 issues of the Moonlight Chronicles, filling approximately 100 4-by-5 1/2-inch pages per issue with the quirky lines of his fine-tipped pen. The second-oldest zine in the country, the Chronicles won an Utne Independent Press Award in 2004.

Simple Shoes, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., prints 5,000 additional copies of the Chronicles to give to customers, paying Price for the printing rights and for additional artwork used in marketing. Some in the zine community have accused Price of selling out, but Price, who has worked as a logger, carpenter and cemetery caretaker, says working with Simple helps him "spread a positive message to as many people as I can."

Price says he operates in the tradition of Jack Kerouac (he’s read On The Road at least 10 times). Others call him a modern-day Thoreau. "My life and the Chronicles have been about trying to simplify in the modern day world," says Price, speaking from a cell phone in the middle of the two-acre meadow he rents for $100 a year. "I don’t want to become too preachy and teachy, but the Chronicles tries to subtly say that we are all here to find beauty and happiness, and get a connection to something that means something."

 

Purchase current or back issues of Moonlight Chronicles for $5 at www.moonlight-chronicles.com, or by writing to Dan Price at P.O. Box 109, Joseph, OR 97846.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WESTERN WATER PROJECT MANAGER
    National Wildlife Federation is hiring NM-based position focused on riparian corridors, watershed health. Learn more and apply online: https://www.nwf.org/about-us/careers
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Associate Program Director Location: New Mexico; flexible in state Position reports to: Senior Program Director Position Closes: March 13, 2020 GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The...
  • DEAN, W. A. FRANKE COLLEGE OF FORESTRY AND CONSERVATION, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
    Dean, W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, apply http://bit.ly/2548umjobs. AA/EEO/ADA/Veterans Preference Employer
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a creative and driven graphic design professional to design high quality print and digital collateral. The Graphic Designer will bring...
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIV
    Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign is hiring an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry on the Gulf...
  • AG LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT) seeks passionate relationship builder experienced in coordinating agricultural conservation easement transactions.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • FINANCE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Coms/Engagmnt Mngr; Dev/Engagmnt Dir; Americorps vol
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Dev/Engagement Dir; Coms/Engagement Mngr; & Americorps volunteer
  • SEASONAL TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    Lead the nation's premier volunteer-based trail crew programs on the spectacular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This is a great career-building opportunity for rising professionals....
  • ORGANIZING AND TRAINING COORDINATOR
    Is this your dream job? Are you looking to join a nationally recognized organizing network, live in a spectacular part of the West, and work...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND ADVOCACY DIRECTOR
    Provide stewardship and protection for the Great Burn wildlands along the Montana-Idaho stateline. This position is based in Missoula, MT, where a river runs through...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • SAN JUAN BASIN ENERGY CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance is seeking a full-time San Juan Energy Campaign Organizer located in Farmington, New Mexico. The San Juan Energy Campaign Organizer focuses...
  • WILDLIFE PROGRAM MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance (SJCA) is looking for a passionate, experienced, and motivated Wildlife Program Manager to lead campaigns to protect and enhance wildlife and...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "This thriving citizens organization exemplifies the ideal of public involvement in public processes."- Billings Gazette Help protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, &...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER AND MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR
    Western Colorado Alliance is hiring for 4 positions, 2 Full Time Community Organizers, 1 Part Time Community Organizer and a Part Time Membership Coordinator. For...
  • BUSINESS OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    Thorne Nature Experience is looking for a Business Operations Director who will work in partnership with the Executive Director and Thorne's Directors and Managers to...