ear damage is a zine based out of Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A.
ear damage is a d.i.y./punk/indie/whatever zine founded by Cheetah Shine, and mainly created out of what was originally supposed to be a group effort to showcase writing and local artists, honest and even scathing music/social/political critiques and coverage, rants and ravings, and alleviate boredom. The 1st issue was ‘released’ sometime in early 2002, although much of the content in #1 was written as far back as 1998, which included lengthy interviews with Lee Ving of Fear and local adult toy store owner Ray Ball. The first three issues were called "Sneak Attack", but Cheetah read the phase ‘ear damage’ in reference to an old punk band in a magazine and felt that was a much better name fitting with the overall theme of the zine. Ear Damage was entirely cut-and-paste and photocopied until Cheetah met A. Felix (DMT Publishing), who was making flyers for many local hip-hop rap shows. Although Ear Damage is mainly a music oriented zine, Cheetah Frequently writes columns and articles of a somewhat often biting social and political nature, as well as music reviews that are uncharacteristically honest when compared to many other local publications, and both these elements of the zine have made it the center of negative attention.
Even before the 1st issue of Sneak Attack was ever unleashed on the public eye, it caused its fair share of waves with opposing viewpoints. Sometime in 2001 as Cheetah was leaving a music venue in a well policed area of town and saying good-bye to friends in the parking lot, task-force cops violently surrounded his car (young black male talking to white kids from car, old shitty car). Among shit that was slung all over the place inside of Cheetah’s car was the layout for the 1st issue, with a cover featuring a crude drawing of an outline of the continental United States with crosshairs on the Gulf Coast region. In the wake of 9/11, this prompted an officer with enough gall to insinuate Sneak Attack might be terrorist propaganda. The 2nd issue was probably the one that garnered the most local controversy for the zine in and of itself. The cover featured a “black fist swastika” that while Cheetah was working on it at Kinko’s, a nosy customer was lead to ask, “what’s that, some black panther neo-nazi shit!!!” Once finished, a few copies were left at a local record store to a minor public outrage. Cheetah would come back to the store weeks later to find copies of this particular issue defaced, with slogans like “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” scribbled on the blank spaces of the cover. The owner of the record shop gave Cheetah his zines back in disgust. Trying to peddle wares of the issue at shows was as lucrative as it was a headache. For every copy sold to a satisfied recipient, it seemed just as much drama transpired, from explaining the parodying nature of the cover, inadvertently running people off, to even diffusing potential altercations between happy customers and unknowing lookers on, all over a lousy zine cover with a swastika with black power fists on it!
Issue no. 4 marked the official name change from Sneak Attack to Ear Damage, as well as a consistent logo, an interview with U.K. punk legends U.K Subs and an short article comparing Ozzy Osbourne and Elvis. From no.4 to around no.8 Ear Damage saw somewhat of an increase in readership and interest, as there was a resurgence in the local music scenes of Mobile, Pensacola, FL, and several other surrounding areas. At this point Cheetah upped the stakes from Ear Damage not only being a source of great enjoyment, but possibly being a source of modest revenue and a media outlet for local bands, many of whom were under bigger publications' radar. Cheetah actually started saving the money he earned from selling the zine, and not just spending it all on beer at whatever venue he was at!
Thriving Scene/Layout Upgrade/New Directions
Aside from increased (though still modest) interest in Ear Damage and a fairly healthy indie/d.i.y. music scene to write about (for Mobile, Alabama, anyway) featuring the likes of The Tiles, Spunji (who held a long grudge for an overall positive review with a few unfavorable comments), CCUSA, The Difference Engine, The Hibachi Stranglers, Kamikaze, Cockfight, The Western Lands, and more, the next milestone (or sorts) for the zine wouldn’t be until #11, the 1st issue, with the help of DMT Publishing, to be entirely laid on computer with a high end Photoshop program. This, along with a highly controversial interview with local black punk/show promoter H. Graham garnered even more accolades and reviled reactions. The cover, featuring longtime Mobile showgoer B.C. with her eyes blacked out with a black bar, was a parody of the back of a Motards album cover she had appeared on years before. The humor of this picture was lost on most who saw it.
In keeping with Cheetah’s ambition of trying to experiment with different ideas, Ear Damage #14 was the 1st issue to feature aspiring alt-models (Corrina Von Slaughter from Arizona, Miss Take from FL) in swimsuits, or whatever they felt like wearing.
Although Ear Damage #15 ushered another 1st with an all color cover, this occasion was somewhat marred by external and internal drama, and haters on the make. The cover of #16 was somewhat of a parody/mixed media affair, with photos of various celebrities and mixing elements of trashy grocery store tabloids, Madison Ave. advertisements, and glossy magazines. A reviewer for Razorcake zine misunderstood Cheetah’s vision, calling it “A vague distaste that fades pretty quickly to boredom and disinterest.” #18 was the 1st to feature porn-centric subject matter, with a review with porn director Vena Virago, and reviews of several Vivid-Alt movies, as well as a column about the porn mag and movie hunting exploits of a young Cheetah Shine. Also features cover by former Screw Magazine artist DMT.
Nevertheless, Ear damage is still a small, local (hoping to be at some point semi-regional)fanzine.