I’m certain there are some of you out there who might be able to tell us far more about this magazine’s editor Brian Berger than I can. Because of his relatively “confrontational” reviewing style and some intra-scene romantic dynamics involving him that supposedly went on in the early 1990s, I have a dim memory of Berger briefly being a person of interest among mostly East Coast fanzine-reading alterna-jerks. He published a range of single-issue zines under different names, but the one that seemed to be best-received by his undoubtedly exceptionally limited audience was Crush, the longest-lasting at three big issues, total.
I certainly can see why it was “popular”, and because I hadn’t really read this one through since I bought it in 1990, I was reminded of the Conflict fanzine imitators (Disaster, Crush) that followed in the wake of and concurrently with Gerard Cosloy’s fantastic fanzine, right down to the Courier font. Berger actually pretends to review an issue of Conflict here, saying,
“My biggest influence according to people who wish they knew what the fuck they were talking about. I’ve seen this magazine around but I don’t know what it’s about or who publishes it since I make it a rule not to read titles named after Crass-family bands.”
Even that sort of dismissive, pretend-not-to-know-what-you’re-talking-about thing was a trope straight out of Conflict itself. Well done, Brian! But wait – then he takes on Bill Callahan’s – yes, that Bill Callahan – Disaster fanzine right below that:
“Bill Callahan is one of those guys who has a “thing” for Lisa “Suckdog” Carver. In my mind that’s about as lame as being into John Wayne Gacy’s painting career, having all of last year’s Professional Bowling Association broadcasts in your video library, or wearing a Your Flesh t-shirt.”
Now that’s a bon mot I can appreciate, shoehorning both a Your Flesh and a Lisa Carver rip into a single sentence. Most of Crush #3 is record and live reviews by Berger, with an additional few of each by Alan Licht who, as it just so happens (!), also gets his band Love Child interviewed in here as well. Berger, it seems, was a Iowa college student from New Jersey back home for the summer at Mom & Dad’s while writing this thing, enmeshed in the NYC/NJ, CBGB/Maxwell’s live music social whirl. His reviews are mostly great, totally unafraid of the takedown & with pretty right-on music taste and an innate ability to separate wheat from chaff (the Big Chief reviews are especially tasty). He knows who the Hampton Grease Band are, he digs free jazz and especially loves David Allen Coe. It’s a true 1990 brain-dump from an over-the-top music obsessive who knows how to write, and write really well, at a pretty young age.
The biggest drawback is 21-year-old Brian’s wolfish and slathering questions for Rebecca Odes of Love Child, just straight-up talking about her breasts, suggesting on-stage nudity and so on right from the off. Like yeah – we get it – attractive woman in a rock band – but try a little subtlety, comrade! Hey, we’re all in our fifties now. I wonder if Berger still thinks that the “Ass Ponys” put out the single best record of 1990?
2 thoughts on “Crush #3”
How many zines did Berger have? I’m blanking on the names but I think there were at least three? Though I guess they were basically all the same zine with a new name each time.
Marc – I have Crush, Constant Wonder and Grace & Dignity. I think that’s it.