16 June 2006
Punk Planet Reviews Foulweather #1
Just picked up the new Punk Planet to see FW#1 got the main zine review! It seems like I neglected to let them know of the price. Oops $3.50...
‘Foulweather’ is a surprisingly polished, semi serious journal of political opinion. Publisher and editor Pete Lewis is a Welsh expat living in the United States who previously published the zine ‘Coming To Amerika.’ While there is plenty of compelling content in this inaugural issue, Lewis chose to open with a colleague’s meditation on his national identity as an American. What could have been an interesting exploration of the tension between individualism and assimilation devolves into a lengthy screed about how the writer feels oppressed by seemingly every American institution. Thankfully, the remaining contributions are far more thoughtful, if no less opinionated. His review of Gillo Pontercorvo’s 1996 faux documentary “The Battle Of Algiers”- a film about the Algerian resistance to the French occupation. – is unusual in that it is more concerned with providing historical context than mere film criticism. And Lewis has a somewhat unique perspective on this movie, since he had a taste of the colonial lifestyle during his adolescence in Bahrain. While Lewis is sympathetic to the struggle depicted in this film, unlike other reviewers, he’s not afraid to note the irony that the very same political group behind Algeria’s liberation is today regarded as a brutal authoritarian regime. Lesser intellectual lights would simply dismiss or overlook such inconvenient turns of history.
The review serves as an appropriate prologue to his “Confessions Of A Guilty Expat” wherein he describes his adolescence as a British expat living in Bahrain. He begins with a requisite overview of geography and demographics before describing the insulated world expats occupy at their “expats-only beaches and private sports and sailing clubs,” all the while oblivious to the “devastating human rights problem that existed right before them.” Of course, he and his rebellious teen friends did everything possible to pierce that expat bubble, as he describes hitching rides with Saudis eager to trade drugs for the possibility of meeting Western women, skateboarding at night under “glowing neon signs and towering mosques,” and of course spending the night in a Bahraini jail. In these instances of youthful delinquency, Lewis admits that he occasionally engaged in the very sought of loutish behavior that today would earn his ire: getting drunk and shouting obscenities about Islam on a crowded street or trying to score drugs in a Shi’a village. Lewis’s political awakening began at university, and was furthered when, on a subsequent trip back to Bahrain, he witnessed the brutal suppression of a village at the hands of local security forces. For this article alone, Foulweather is well worth seeking out, and Lewis’s website is a convenient, well-designed portal to his variegated zine, blog, and novel projects. – Ari Charney Punk Planet Issue #74 July/ August 2006