(An undated history of Evasion, written by the author sometime in the mid-2000s)
In 1999, Evasion zine was released from it’s cage to kill and eat easily offended paying customers everywhere. A 108 page memoir, Evasion was a document of unemployment by any means necessary. It was all there – hitchhiking and petty crime, long walks in strange towns and picking up stereos at Wal Mart and running for it. Along the way, I discover the seemingly backwards correlation between “satisfaction” and “poverty” – the less you spend, the more fun you have.
Maybe the story really begins in 1995… Facing my parents ultimatum of “job or school”, I chose a third option – “live in abandoned house up the street”. And so it began – a life of staunch unemployment pursued not to “escape” life, but taste it, for the first time. Evasion #1 was a glimpse into a life of travel and crime, and an emerging subculture of suburban defectors taking to the highway and train yards for a taste of freedom “9-5” could never offer.
Evasion came into the world the product of six months in a basement, under the goal of writing the zine that depicted the life I was living as I saw it. A response to the reams of dunk punk travel zines depicting “the hard life” of the “squatters struggle”. I wanted a travel zine that was both positive and straight edge, because we all know how col you think it is to get drunk by the train tracks, and I was pretty bored with it…
The resulting memoir was a collection of stories falling under the loose category of “situations you find yourself in when you decide not to work”. Eating trash, loitering in gas stations along two-lane highways in South Dakota, one cool part where I sleep in a ditch, etc.
Evasion also carried with it the important “how to” element. The interspersing of practical advice throughout the narrative, a few basic scams and pointers to help people in the right direction. The intended form of Evasion was never “zine” in the traditional sense o reading material for the bus. I was going for something epic. The name came under a thesaurus entry for the word “crime” – Evasion.
“Evading” the 40-hour work week, the hopeless boredom of modern life. And of course, evading the law. Evasion’s layout was crude but functional: 108 handwritten cut-and-paste pages. The first word was written in a San Diego Whole Foods Market, the last block of text taped down in a Little Rock Kinko’s in May 1999.
I made 10 copies, most of which went to friends. One fateful copy – as destined for an eye-roll and toss over the shoulder as the rest – was passed into the hands of a man named Theo, whose house was a popular stop-over point for touring bands. He hated it, or something, and left it in his bathroom as reading material. Over the summer, I made perhaps 50 more copies, all given away to people who picked me up hitchhiking, strangers met at truck stops, a reporter at a major newspaper, and so on.
10 months later, Evasion as a part of my past. I had done nothing with it, and had no plans to. The master was collecting dust in my then-girlfriend’s closet. Then, like a switch had been flipped, I began receiving a flood of emails from around the country and the world! What’s going on?! Turns out, the band Zegota had stolen Evasion from that bathroom in Little Rock, ran off a thousand copies, taken Evasion on tour, and mailed copies to friends and co-conspirators all over the world! The response was confusing to me, who hadn’t given a thought to the tattered memoir in months, but began giving the zine a second look. Responses continued to come in, kids offering heartfelt testimony of reading Evasion and deciding to quit their jobs, or quit paying for food. Or I’d get a little email sent from a public library by a kid writing to tell me she’d read Evasion and left to hitchhike the country. Evasion – corrupter of youth!
A copy of Evasion soon fell int the hand of the inner circle of Crimethinc, a decentralized propaganda movement whose first book – Days of War Nights of Love – had been making waves in certain circles. After a brief exchange, a Crimethinc operative wrote simply to say they wanted me to pen the Evasion book.
Over the next 6 months I lived in a broom closet on a university campus, writing 150 pages of new material. This material evolved to be more crime-oriented, stories of not having any money and being pretty much unable or unwilling to pay for anything, but not letting that stop me from doing whatever I wanted, and having the time of my life.
The final manuscript was hitchhiked to Crimethinc HQ in Olympia in the summer of 2001. Finally, the final nails of literary tradition were hammered down with the last-minute inclusion of photos to the front and back covers, photos of an altered anti-shoplifting billboard that I spraypainted personally. And there it was – Evasion the book.
It dropped in August 2001. Always dreaming of that moment of glory opening the box and seeing a copy of my first book – like that scene in Back To The Future, with Mr. McFly holding up his first sci-fi novel – I returned to the Greensboro punk house where I was staying, the day the box was to arrive, to see a shredded envelope, and several crust punks passing the Evasion proof around a 40-oz. strewn porch. Call it anti-climax.
What could be said of years since? Evasion made a few waves. Drew some hisses, and even a little applause. For me, I could say it opened a few doors – and by the hands of a few who I think call themselves “anarchists” – brought a few to slam close. I read features in a mainstreams magazines at Barnes and Noble and let out a quiet laugh. Then I asked for Evasion at a “radical” bookstore and was handed a 4-page essay titled “Why We Won’t Carry Evasion,” and let out a loud one. Blacklisting and nice mail, winks and fistfights, these have been crazy years….
Several of them. Since publication in 2001, the book is in it’s millionth printing, at over 35,000 copies printed thus far. I have nothing to compare it to, so “smashing success” or “embarrassing failure”, I can’t say. I don’t know whose reading all these books, most of my friends haven’t even heard of it….
I’m still here. Still writing, still wondering how to take this to the next level. Still militantly unemployed, and still scratching my head for ways to make each day bigger and holder than the that before it. After years of dormancy, the new Evasion book is almost done, and rough outlines for half a dozen books to come. I guess it always ends like this, a “history” begging the next question, that of a future unwritten.
So what now? All I know is: I’m going big...