Last night at Sweat Records, zinester extraordinaire and Miami punk historian Erick Lyle guided a good-sized crowd (for a reading … in Miami) from the dumpsters of 79th street to the punk dens of the 90s to the police-barricaded avenues of the 2003 FTAA protests to the halls and walls of the Art Basel power structure and even into the chink in Shepard Fairey’s ego armor, all in the casually funny and punkishly poetic voice that characterizes his influential zine, Scam. We interviewed Lyle on Monday, so you can read more about his background there. The videos here are full clips from his reading last night, and each one is well-worth a listen. If you like what you hear, you can buy Lyle’s work from Microcosm Publishing, including his latest, an anthology of Scam’s first four editions. If you ask me, nothing says “stocking stuffer” like a document of career criminalism, art vandalism, hotel squatting, and generally punking around Miami in the 90s. Ho ho ho.
In this clip, Lyle pursues an “up-from-the-streets art career” by tearing up the ninth hole of the Miami Shores Golf Course and Country Club with a shovel and attempting to grace a blank I-95 billboard with “the perfect penis”, which he ingeniously portrays as a metaphor for Miami itself.
Lyle knows Miami from the city's abandoned hotels and dumpsters -- and writes beautifully about it.
Boca-native Erick Lyle, formerly known as Iggy Scam, handed out the first issue of his zine Scam at a South Beach punk venue called the Junkyard on July 6, 1991. Nineteen years later, Lyle has dropped the Iggy Scam sobriquet, long ago moved away from South Florida, and the Junkyard no longer exists, but Scam remains a vital influence on DIY literature across the country. In 2008, Lyle published On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City (Soft Skull Press), an anthology of essays he wrote in Scam and the Turd Filled Donut, a political newsletter, about his life and activism in San Francisco. Now the renowned zinester and sometime This American Life contributor is returning home to promote his latest work, an anthology of the first four issues of Scam documenting his life in South Florida as a principled dumpster diver, hotel squatter, and punk musician/writer. He will read from the anthology at Sweat Records on Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. Admission is free with gas-money donations encouraged.
Earlier today, I talked to Lyle by phone about Scam, Art Basel as a microcosm of the Miami mindset, and the fictitious Art Deco hotel that embodies the city’s strange history.
Can you describe the origin of Scam and the four issues in this latest anthology?
Scam … started in Fort Lauderdale and it was kinda a punk rock, underground, activism-related zine, self published. I was living in Fort Lauderdale, and my friends and I, we were trying to get everything we could for free, to seek new ways to live creatively and not be chained to a 9 to 5 existence. And in Scam I was documenting that lifestyle. The first four issues are heavily South Florida based, and then I moved to San Francisco and started writing from there.
How frequently did Scam come out — every year?
No, they were really fat zines, so they would come out every couple of years. They were kinda known for being the thickest zines at the time. The concept was that Scam came out in that form because it was this enormous zine being given away, or sold very cheaply, because the copies had all been stolen. So, it was kinda like, “You can do this.”