Zine-terest: A Review for local Zines every Thursday

‘Zines are making their way to A Week by the Bay! With all the things I’ve been doing in the city, reading is almost ALWAYS one of them. So I was thrilled to finally put a name to the little newsstand I’d always pass on Market and Steuart Street near the Ferry Building, because now I’m slowly turning into their biggest fan. A friend of mine had asked if I ever heard of The Grand Newsstand and sent me their website. And the little kiosk I always thought was just another newsstand hocking SF Chronicles or WSJs was actually an independent boutique devoted to zines. This week I got to stop  by the kiosk and splurged. I now have 3 zines lined up and I’ve been enjoying each one! These little publications, from at to writing and photography, are quick but delightful reads that keep you on your toes. The inspiration is surely there, no matter how little. And sometimes when nothing is going on in my week, a zine read is just what I need.

So every Thursday tune in as I present to AWBTB a cherished and much recommended read in a zine:


Rail Pass by Courtney Riddle

Found at: The Grand Newsstand

Pages: 32

Cost: $8

Subject: Travel, Informative

This was the first zine that I was SO excited to read as it’s very rich and insightful about good old train traveling. The 101 facts scattered throughout its 32 pages alone help the traveler and writer, Courtney Riddle (who also owns the Grand Newsstand!) tell the stories of her month long travels around America via her Amtrak Rail Pass. Taken in 2013, Riddle’s journey follows 8,667 miles, 11 states, and 2 coast lines in which she shares journal entries and photos and tips. There is no definitive catalyst for why she took this journey other than wanderlust and curiosity, and she doesn’t end the zine on some grand introspective note. It just so happens that she took a train, explored America, and, with the publication of this zine, hopes to help future fellow adventurenaires, lest they run into a rut finding a place to stay or vegetarian food on Amtrak or– not surprisingly– sitting next to bigots.


Or, if you’re me, her zine will help you reminisce on the last train ride you took in late September. How I miss that journey, how short it seemed for an overnight from Portland to Martinez, California. I was in coach and managed to grab a window seat and was accompanied by Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie that I’d gotten from Powell’s. But it was also a time I ran into the most warm and open human beings from different reaches of the country, like Vincent traveling back to see his daughter in South Lake Tahoe and Maureen who was so cheerful and ready to share her inflatable pillow with me. The most intriguing of the camaraderie was Mark, who had just open up his third outdoor/kayaking shop out in Seattle where his British fiancée was a top executive at the Yahoo branch out there. He was making his way back to Colorado, to his son, to his city outside of Boulder that he loved dearly for the crispness of air and the never-ending activities bestowed upon its inhabitants by nature. He seemed to be doing well, and he seemed to want the same for me– sitting five hours by that dark window of the observation car as the train paced through the Oregon night, talking about our love lives.


I may have been a little annoyed at the little solitude I was given during this ride. Yet reading Rail Pass only reminded me that the journey I did have was indeed a lovely and unexpected memory. It was all out of my norm, and that’s what adventures should seem like– if they were commonplace occurrences then they wouldn’t exactly feel special. Riddle knows this too– she tells readers after all that train traveling is “like a behind-the-scenes take on America, with minimal billboards or other vehicles, grand displays of nature, and wildlife you probably aren’t used to.” You might forget what America looks like, especially for staying in one spot your whole life. So travel, and travel by train, so you can see not just all these behind-the-scenes aspects to geographical America, but its Americans, too.

Stop by The Grand Newsstand on the corner of Market and Steuart Street in downtown SF, or purchase it online for pickup here.

Next week I’ll be reviewing Hey Girl Hi from Courtney Riddle and Sara Diamond on the roller coaster of sisterhood told through text messaging. Stay tuned! Stay zine-terested.




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