Category Archives: Youth Culture

Comics Review: SHAKE THE LAKE

Trouble in Paradise

“Shake The Lake” is such an audacious work of comics with such an uninhibited and unflinching depiction of frenzied youth–it is truly a hell of a lot of fun and mesmerizing. These are a bunch of out-of-control kids, the sort you’ve seen in numerous teenploitation horror and summer movies. They all, at first, seem to lack any redeeming character but you get hooked into their little nefarious activities and you just can’t look away. But who ever heard of a graphic novel devoted to wakeboarding (think skateboarding on water)? Am I supposed to know about wakeboarding? That level of specificity is part of the subversive fun. You need to check out this wonderfully oddball badass series right here.

Cal in his element. It’s an endless summer, dude!

Of course, wakeboarding is important–especially for those in the wakeboarding scene, which all of these kids are totally into. And some people are fully aware of wakeboarding but to the other extreme like Zeke and Dalton, these two highly obnoxious park rangers hot on the trail of all fun-loving youth. Leave it to them and they will spoil everyone’s fun, particularly anything remotely hedonistic. Hey, it’s the summer and a bunch of young rebels are determined to make their mark. Cal is the lead instigator. He’s already 23, but it is still a life of beautiful teen summers for him and his fellow dreamers. If they could just stir things up at the ole marina, put on a wakeboarding festival to be remembered in their collective old age, then all this arrested development will have been worth it!


Brothers Zach and Machi Block’s script rings true. The Block brothers invest in their ragtag characters a level of integrity that lures you into wanting to know more about this subculture. The artwork by brother and sister team Diego and Andrea Lopez Mata are true to the Block vision bringing out all the crude and raw beauty of this motley crew of wakeboarding fanatics. If you go in not knowing a thing about wakeboarding, after reading this work, you’ll be glad to leave it to the experts and just enjoy the ride. Visit the “Shake The Lake” site right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Humor, Lifestyle, Sports, Young Adult, Youth, Youth Culture

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Will & Whit’ by Laura Lee Gulledge


Do you think it’s hard to find comics that you can relate to on a human scale? Hopefully, that’s not the case but, for a lot of readers out there, it may seem confusing. Well, the comics medium offers such a vast and wide assortment of possibilities. Consider the story of Wilhelmina Huckstep, “Will” for short, who is a talented and beautiful young woman who has one Achilles’ heel. She’s sort of afraid of her own shadow. More specifically, she’s afraid of the dark.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Young Adult, Youth Culture

SINGLES: 20 Years Later and Still Not “The Best Movie Ever”

Singles 1992

It’s been 20 years since the high-spirited Paul Westerberg song, “Dyslexic Heart,” became a jingle for the movie, “Singles.”

If you really want to see the best movie ever made about the Seattle music scene that was Grunge, then you must see Doug Pray’s 1996 classic, “Hype!

Sure, we people who write about media can sometimes overdo calling something “the best ever.” I picked up a copy of “The Seattle Weekly” and, bam, their cover story is about the best movie about the Seattle music scene ever made. It’s a joke, in a way, since Mike Seely actually writes about the authenticity of 1989’s  “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” which is also a movie about music and set in Seattle. It’s a very contrived little piece of work by Seely full of chirpy movie commentary and loathing for himself and Seattle. But that is truly par for the course for “The Seattle Weekly,” a supposedly “alternative weekly” that behaves more like an out-of-touch company newsletter than anything else. This article, in its smug insularity, even manages to be homophobic. Is that really what Seattle is about? Uh, no, not the Seattle I believe in.

I will say this for “Singles,” it is good at what it does. It is supposed to be about a bunch of beautiful young people and it nails it. What’s so funny is that I remember, a year or so before “Singles” came out, while it was filming in Seattle, there was one record shop guy who went crazy thinking that a super cool movie was being made about records! Oh, how far from the truth that turned out to be. “Singles” has absolutely nothing to do with vinyl and everything to do with singles, as in being single, carefree and ready to spawn into the hit sitcom that was to become, “Friends.” Yes, there’s the “Singles” soundtrack and the movie is chock full of cameos with Eddie Vedder and the gang. But that is besides the point. And, if you’re looking for a major motion picture that does justice to the sort of mindset that was feverishly in play in Seattle some years back and still is today, as well as in any number of cities, then check out “High Fidelity.” That is the major motion picture that my record shop friend would definitely endorse.

Anyway, getting back to “Hype!” It’s there for you to enjoy on YouTube. Just like, in the future, “The Seattle Weekly” will be remembered as a chronicle of uptight Seattle, “Hype!” provides you with an inspiring look back at the DIY world of Grunge and beyond. Because, make no mistake, Grunge, that spirit of shedding away all constraints, lives on. You just have to see it to fully appreciate the vibe. For any Eddie Vedder haters out there, the big guy comes off very genuine in making the case that it really isn’t about the fame and money. Art Chantry, known for his landmark graphic design of grunge, shows off some vintage posters worth hundreds of dollars that he promptly destroys on his chopping block. A Sub Pop employee describes a call with “The New York Times” asking for the latest on the Seattle scene whereupon she makes up a bunch of current slang terms, stuff like “dish” for cute guy and “kickers” for boots, and, word for word, it gets printed. Does she care? No, because that’s what grunge is all about. It’s just good-natured pranking, not soulless snark.

What have we learned in the last 20 years? As “Hype!” makes perfectly clear, the best in rock is yet to come. We are not in any danger of losing new generations of disaffected youth. We will still have plenty of entertainment like “Singles” but we will also have new generations asking for a lot more. So, ask for more! Let’s start with this: the “Hype!” end credits song, “Dark Corner of the World,” by Young Fresh Fellows!

And, just for fun, let’s compare the track lists for the soundtrack to “Singles” and the soundtrack to “Hype!”

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Filed under movies, Music, pop culture, Seattle, Youth Culture


“The Devastator” is the kind of quarterly humor magazine I had always thought of putting together back in college. My best friend and I did put out an issue of something that was a combination of his aspirations towards sytle and my aspirations towards wit. In a lot of ways, I see that tension, which can work really well, in the pages of this 56-page magazine. This is what people in search of stylish snark are really looking for and this mag pulls it off nicely.

In this issue, the theme is “Indie” and what that means. It will mean something different to each new generation. But, as R. Sikoryak and Michael Smith’s parody of “American Splendor” makes clear, whatever batch of 18 to 35-year-olds you belong to, you can be just as clueless as the one that came before.

I’m from the Gen X batch and, as is fully documented, we are a good-natured but uniquely alienated group, always demanding authenticity from others. Same darn thing can be said for the latest crop. In “Stat Attack!” by Lesley Tsina, a mock survey of college radio listeners reveals that the most compelling reason to tune in to college radio is to “fight the powers that be.” In Noah Van Sciver’s comic elegy to those who haunt indie bookstores, again, some things never change. That same baby soft cutie with her fingers crumpling up the ends of her sweater is still not going to give you the time of day. But the weirdo covered in aluminum foil will stick to you like glue. Such is the life of the young artist with a shit job.

How better to soothe the pain than to be a poseur? This activity is explored by Micki Grover and Matt Taylor in “Barry’s Time Machine,” where it’s not good enough to know all the names of obscure techno bands but you need to hop into a time machine and literally be the first to “discover” Nikola Tesla, right after his birth, and be the first to declare dinosaurs are cool. For an even closer look, we get a detailed analysis of the many, yet limited, facial expressions of the hipster. You can find that in “Ace of Face,” by Amanda Meadows, with art by Bryan Wolfson (see above).

And if you look way above, you see the cover art by Andy Ristaino, the lead designer on Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time,” seen on Cartoon Network. I feel it necessary to give that long description because what Andy Ristaino and Pendleton Ward, and all the other great talent that bring you the animated adventures of Jake, a magical talking dog, and Finn, the human boy, are saying something important. They’re talking about a whole new generation of chill people (no haters allowed) who are sensitive and enlightened souls. These are the grandchildren of John Lennon. And the brothers and sisters of Michael Cera. They’re flower people without the flowers, since flowers have feelings too.

I think that sentiment carries over significantly to something like “The Devastator.” It’s got a vibe like “National Lampoon” and “The Onion,” which is a good thing and makes sense, but it’s definitely cultivating its own unique laid back voice. It has tapped into the all the good stuff coming from the punk and zine scene from yesteryear and found itself quite relevant and much needed. Sweetness is cool and sweet, especially when sprinkled with just the right dash of sarcasm.

You can get your copy of “The Devastator #6” starting on October 16 for only $8. Save with a subscription by getting four quarterly issues for $30. Visit our friends at The Devastator.

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Filed under Entertainment, Hipsters, Humor, pop culture, The Devastator, Youth Culture