L.A. Vespers

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Title: L.A. Vespers
Publisher: The Parasite Press
Editor(s): Dotty Barry
Date(s): 1979-1982
Medium: print
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

L.A. Vespers is a gen Starsky and Hutch fiction anthology. Art samples are included on Fanlore with the publisher's permission.

Submission Request

In case there's someway you missed the news, I'm also publishing a Starsky and Hutch 'zine at the end of the summer. Contents so far include stories by Teri White, Kay McElvain, Joy Mancinelli, Rayelle Roe, yours truly, and possibly one by Jane Aumerle; poetry by Ellen Kobrin, Jane Aumerle, Rayelle Roe, Marian Kelly, Kay McElvain, and me; art work by Kay McElvain, Marian Kelly, and DB. Again, I don't know final cost or page count, but a SASE will bring you a flyer in August. Please, be aware that the projected print run will be very small—number of pre-orders plus fifty. If all goes well, there will be other issues. If you write S&H and have something you think would be right for LAV, send it in. I'm willing to read any submissions. Be sure, however, to send return postage if you want your manuscript back. Please, do not send unsolicited art work.[1]

Issue 1

cover of issue #1

L.A. Vespers 1 was published in December 1979 and has 91 pages. Art is by Ruth Kurz, Dotty Barry, Rayelle Roe, and Kay McElvain.

S and H #8 says it is “the second zine published west of the Rockies."

  • The Editor Speaketh (2)
  • L.A. Vespers by Jane Aumerle (3)
  • In Living Everyday by Dotty Barry (4)
  • The Editor Speaketh Again (24)
  • Qualifications by Dotty Barry (25)
  • Untitled Poem by Barb Storey (26)
  • life savings by Jane Aumerle (27)
  • Welcome Home by Kay McElvain (28)
  • In Shades of Love/Blue by Kay McElvain (37)
  • marksman by Jane Aumerle (38)
  • Case Pending by Dotty Barry (39)
  • What’s In a Name? by Dotty Barry (40)
  • Epilogue by Dotty Barry (42), winner of an Encore Award
  • Zine Listing (44)
  • Present Company by Dotty Barry (45)
  • The Christmas Tree Lot by Rayelle Roe (46)
  • Who Was That Masked Man? by Rayelle Roe (48)
  • Dobey's Litany by Rayelle Roe (51)
  • So, Who’s Dead? by Rayelle Roe (52)
  • The Chase by Joy Mancinelli (54)
  • Game-a-Day by Dotty Barry (57)
  • The Nekked Time by Rayelle Roe (58)
  • Words by Ellen Corbin (61)
  • A Sense of Duty by Teri White (62)
  • Anagram by Dotty Barry (73)
  • Regrets by Katherine Robertson (74)
  • The Bitter Taste is Reality by Kay McElvain (75)
  • Write Me a Christmas Story, Raye by Rayelle Roe (86)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

See reactions and reviews for A Sense of Duty.
[zine]: Give a statistician two points of data, and he’ll graph the world. With ‘LA Vespers,’ we have a second zine published west of the Rockies, and with The Pits (baruch hashem) a noticeable difference from the more easterly zines. The biggest difference seems to be the no-kill-I attitude of the West. There almost no get’ems, no ‘he’s dead/dying’ poems; what torment there is, is not physical nor prolonged. This doesn’t seem to be a function of the authors involved, for Penny Warren has written her share of the clock-tickers – but for Zebra Three; Teri has beaten up the guys many times – but doesn’t here in ‘Vespers.’ Further, the stories are noticeable shorter; “Welcome Home,’ done in nine pages, puts Starsky in the hands of plane hijackers (who are, as usual, sore at him fro an earlier bust), while Hutch sneaks up, raids the plane and incidentally – and gratuitously – gets drilled half a page from the end of the story. Most eastern writers could have gotten a novel out of this, and a few have. Well, this neat dichotomy will probably break down with the next zine pubbed (Pits 2), so onward. ‘In Living Everyday’ is the most balanced and insightful telling yet of S&H first meeting. It is also the only, but it is good. By contrast, the other major story, ‘A Sense of Duty,’ in which Starsky sacrifices (plot point here) for Hutch, fails. First person point of view stories are hard to do right. It’s hard to blend the character’s internal dialog with the necessary narrative. There is a good deal of poetry here, and of it all, ‘Marksman’ works the best. ‘Qualifications,’ ‘Case Pending,’ ‘What’s in a Name?,’ ‘Present Company,’ and ‘Game-a-Day’ are more properly prose busted up into lines. They might have made effective epigrams or vignettes, but they feel wrong as poetry, lacking either the rhythm structure or the blossom of surprise characteristic of Aumerle’s work which [Barry] imitates. Several cutesy items, predominantly by Rayelle Roe, fill up the zine – two or three Christmas stories, confusing Trek and Dell Shannon universes, tho her ‘The Nekkid Time’ is pretty good: bright, pithy, and punchy. The graphic aspect of the zine is low-budget, but a few of the poetry layouts show how one can be surprisingly effective without [the last nineteen words of this review are blurred and not readable].[2]
[zine]: All through the long gestation of ‘LA Vespers,’ Dotty kept telling me that this rag was going to be ‘different.’ As matters turned out, she was right, on two counts. First and most obvious is the zine’s de-emphasis of artwork. There are very few illustrations; and the non-pictorial graphics, while cleanly executed and attractive, set off the written work without calling attention to themselves. This may or may not be a failing, depending upon the relative importance you attach to a zine’s visual offerings. For myself, I found the relaxed lay-out – and the general laid-back atmosphere – refreshing, even though I normally have a decided prejudice in favor of books with lots and lots of pretty pictures. Other readers with strong graphics orientation may be disappointed, though. De gustivus. Second and much less ambiguous is ‘LA Vespers’ insistence on competent and realistic fiction. There has been a growing tendency lately to move S&H fanfic out of the grit of the asphalt jungle and into the fields where the deer and the unicorn play, where social and natural law are conveniently suspended or overlooked. Whether this is done to make the hero more heroic, or to enhance the brutalization of the getee, the result is the same: a bad story. You won’t find any such here. What you will find is real people coping with real problems in recognizable circumstances. Measured against those criteria, Dotty’s own ‘In Living Everyday,’ is easily the best piece in the book. It’s a sensitively written account of the end of Hutch’s marriage and the beginning of his partnership with Starsky, marked by insight and compassion. Hutch’s loneliness and emotional vulnerability are well-handled, as is Starsky’s dawning protective/possessiveness. Warning: this story is quite subtle in spots; read it carefully. The same caveat applies to ‘Epilogue,’ Dotty’s post-‘Little Girl Lost’ shortie. The ant farm isn’t just for fun: these two pages define the parameters of the S&H relationship on a number of levels. A small gem, this, eith all the concentrating power of a laser ruby. Of the other serious stories, ‘Welcome Home’ has much of the same clarity and sharp focus. A visit to NYC presents Starsky with a choice between police work and a share in his uncle’s trucking business; the decision, taken under pressure of a plane hijacking, is not easy, and we are allowed to see that it costs him. Much to the author’s credit, we are also allowed to see that Hutch’s single-handed rescue is A Dumb Thing To Do, however we may sympathize with the driving need behind it. In lesser hands, this piece could have been intolerably soapy, but McElvain’s spare-verging-on-elegant style carries the reader dry-shod through the Slough of Despond. It does not, lamentably, make up for the partial failure to come to grips with the damage done by Kira in ‘The Bitter Taste of Reality’; as Hutch himself observes, the effect is out of proportion to the cause. There is something at work here that the author is not dealing with, something with, something scratching at the glass darkly, wanting in. On the positive side, Jerry Harper is one the better drawn original figures to appear in fanfic, and Carlson’s jealousy is entirely credible. But for the loose ends, this would have been a first-rate story, A pity. ‘A Sense of Duty’ is yet another variation on what seems to be her single S&H plot: Hutch falls in to danger, Starsky rescues him valiantly and at the price of as much payment and agony as the traffic will bear. To do it justice, ‘Duty’ is more soundly structured than most of White’s other work, and the prose, as always, is fast-paced and uncluttered. Where the problems arise is with the characterization. The tough-guy narrator with Hemingway vocabulary – Hutch, allegedly – has neither the sensitivity nor the touch of intellectual arrogance that comes through so clearly in the aired episodes and there is a marked tendency toward author intrusion…Most curious, this first-person story is almost entirely impersonal, with only Starsky allowed to express real emotion. If you’re ‘into’ White’s S&H, you may enjoy this; I could never get my disbelief adequately suspended. On the light side, the zine’s humor is occasionally illuminating, always gentle and zany. Anyone who can look at a can of peas without laughing (after reading Raye’s Christmas story) is a Vulcan. The poetry is uniformly excellent. This is the righteous stuff, well-made, perceptive, and hinting at depths beyond itself. ‘LA Vespers’ has the most honest editorial page ever to see fannish print and comes to you in a plain yellow wrapper. Score a hit. It’s a max buy.[3]
[zine]: The zine was surprisingly full, for being less than 100 pages, non-reduced, and the linear graphics on the poetry very effective. The editor’s own ‘In Living Everyday’ was, I thought, the best story, and is a very well-done first-meeting – except that it contradicts the aired-series fact that they were a team even in the police academy. This sidestepping of series-established situations also affected my opinion of ‘The Bitter Taste of Reality’ as that story postulated a two-month estrangement between Starsky and Hutch as a result of the Kira hassle, as though the tag had never aired. However, both stories were strong, absorbing, and resonated with the characters-as-I-know them. A little alternate universe notice would have been appreciated. ‘A Sense of Duty,’ on the other hand, did not have characters that rang quite true enough – Hutch was using distinctly un-Hutchlike phrasing, Nick switched gears from amiable ne’er do well to resentful thug, and Starsky – Starsky would have been a good enough shot to knock the gun out of Nick’s hand; he wouldn’t have dismissed his duty – or his guilt—with a ‘sorry, Ma, I shot the kid,’ phone call. The series’ characters had little enough in the way of established family; I didn’t feel that this story justified itself in eliminating Nick. ‘Welcome Home’… some interesting ideas in this one: Starsky does have a family back East, and it makes sense for there to still be family ties. I think Kay went a little overboard in having the hijackers be part of a gang that S&H busted – Lord, it seems like they’ve busted early everyone at one time or another. Having them know he was a cop would have been quite sufficient…’Epilogue’ was simply lovely. It fits into the aired episode like pieces of ‘Solitaire’ fit into ‘The Plague.’ The Christmas story made my stomach hurt from laughter. Most of the funny stuff was very funny, tho I have read the Shannon books… Poetry: I liked it, mostly, though Smith is right on quite a few – short lines/do not a poem/make. ‘Marksman,’ ‘Regrets,’ ‘Case Pending,’ and ‘Dobey’s Litany’ were among the best; I didn’t care much for ‘Shades of Love/Blue’ because the level of sentiment felt ‘off’ to me – and the fact that both men have blue eyes is totally irrelevant to the relationship. All things considered, though, I enjoyed ‘Vespers’ very much. It’s well worth buying (and likely sold out by now, of course) and a generally all-around Real Good Zine.[4]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2

L.A. Vespers 2 was published in 1982 and has 128 pages. Art by Joy Mancinelli, Ruth Kurz, Susan Wyllie, Janis Johnson, Melanie R, Betty de Gabriele, and Kay McElvain.

From the editorial:
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of Zebra Con 3 for their recognition of GRAVEN IMAGES. The honor was greatly appreciated.

MIXED METAPHORS is the next project underway in Claremont. This zany novel by Rayelle Roe (two-time award-winning author of humor) introduces the heroes of STAR TREK and STARSKY and HUTCH to Jim Rockford, the gang from Barney Miller, McCloud, Columbo, Bareta [sic] , Ironside, McMillan, and a host of other good guys. If you like a combination of fun and adventure, this is the 'zine for you. My fingers are crossed for a spring publication date. Send SASE.

There's a chance that an L.A. VESPERS 3 will show itself sometime in the future. Just how soon that future may be is anyone's guess, but I wouldn't estimate any date before next year. If you wish to send contributions for consideration, please be sure to enclose return postage (or tell me what to do with your manuscript if you don't want it returned). And once more, no

original art work. A Xerox will give me enough indication. Since the cost of printing has risen so much (not to mention postage), I can't afford to have pencil work screened and keep the price of the 'zine within limits. So, only pen-and-ink drawings.
  • Untitled Poem by Dotty Barry (1)
  • Truth or Dare by Gayle Gordon (2), winner of an Encore Award
  • Fairy Tales by Susan Wyllie (5)
  • If I Were a Carpenter by Kay McElvain (7)
  • Coda by Dotty Barry (18)
  • Circle of Time by Melanie R (19)
  • Any Minor World by Melanie R. (27)
  • Untitled Poem by Gayle Gordon (28)
  • Honor Thy Father by Jane Aumerle (29)
  • Vanessa by Kay McElvain (46)
  • Ilium by C.D. Rice (47)
  • Except for You by Pat Massie (56)
  • Octogenarian Two by Rayelle Roe (57)
  • Hutch’s Lament by Rayelle Roe (59)
  • He Ain't Heavy, He's My City by Sue Doughnym (60) ("In the holocaust department, Roy Smith' s "A Brother Helped Is a Strong City" was parodied in Sue Doughnym's "He Ain't Heavy, He's My City", and extrapolated into Jill Ripley's Decorated for Death (which Jody Lynn Nye and I parodied in "Demonstrated to--Death".[5])
  • Starsky’s Lament by Rayelle Roe (61)
  • The Butler Did It by Rayelle Roe (57)
  • Stakeout by Rayelle Roe (59)
  • Night Before Christmas by Judy Maricevic (68)
  • In Defense of Vanessa, or Was It Nancy? by M. Raunch (70)
  • Hung With Velvet by The Mink (72)
  • Untitled Poem by Gayle Gordon (77)
  • Heaven Can Wait, Can’t It? by Katherine Robertson (78)
  • Changes by Shirley Passmanv(81)
  • White Knight Revisited by Katherine Robertson (82)
  • Portent by Katherine Robertson (84)
  • Squire by Melanie R (85)
  • What’s New” by Kay McElvain (86)
  • Payment in Kind by Melanie R (87)
  • Warrior and the Priest by Pat Massie (90), winner of an Encore Award
  • Untitled Poem by Gayle Gordon (92)
  • Last Link by Dotty Barry (93)
  • Untitled Poem by Dotty Barry (94)
  • Untitled Poem by Dotty Barry (95)
  • With Intent by Dotty Barry (96)
  • Waiting by Dotty Barry (97)
  • Apprehensions Resolved by Cheryl Newsome (98)
  • Going Forward by Shirley Passman (99)
  • What??! by Terry Adams (101)
  • The Tour by Theresa Wright (101)
  • Summer’s Ending by Joy Mancinelli (105)
  • What the Doormouse Said by Jane Aumerle (111)
  • Coign of Vantage by Dotty Barry (112), winner of an Encore Award
  • Untitled Poem by Dotty Barry (128)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

See reactions and reviews for Coign of Vantage.
[Heaven Can Wait, Can't It?]: OK, this is total, complete, utter crack. I can't even make an excuse, except that I like it, so there *g*.

The premise: Starsky is in heaven, an angel, awaiting his beloved Hutch.

An excerpt wouldn't really do it justice, I think. Just go read it, and smile.

(oh, and if anyone has more info on the author, feel free to comment... I don't think she's in the fandom anymore).[6]
[zine]: For sheer variety, LAV2 has an edge on any zine I've seen this year. With the number of different stories, poems, and humor, everyone who reads this zine will surely enjoy at least some of it. The writing is consistently above average, I don't recall finding any typos, and Dotty apparently has a new typewriter with a crisp, readable printface. The layout is spartan but clean. I don't think any of the poetry in this second issue quite reached the piercing quality of the first's, though there are a number of very good poems — the only (serious) one that stood out was Kay McElvain's 'Vanessa.' Many of the others seemed to have reference to other stories (unpublished, I suspect) or unspecified portions of episodes. No doubt these will ring truer to some readers than others. It took two readings for me to realize what it was that struck me about the mood of Vespers 2 — it's the content of the stories. There was only one story in the entire issue that featured Starsky and Hutch, Detectives — Mel R.’s 'Circle of Time,' which is worth two readings in itself. It has the most charming baddie I've seen since Alister Mundy, and is even painlessly educational in places. The rest of the fiction deals with a collection of emotional crises for both Starsky and Hutch — though putting McElvain's 'If I Were A Carpenter,' and Rice's 'Ilium' thirty pages apart gives the impression that this is the Big Abortion Issue, which, since both stories are quite good, does not put either in its best light. Aumerle’s 'Honor Thy Father' concerns a midnight conversation between Joe Durniak and Starsky (presumably the Starsky of her Graven Images universe, as he is afflicted with the same case of flashbacks that the GI Hutch displayed). The technique that worked so well in GI is rather busy for a piece of this length; at times it read like Kwai Chang Caine on acid. And Barry's own 'Coign of Vantage' is an interesting character study of Starsky and Hutch I do not like at all — personal taste only, as the story is well done. There are two 'childhood' stories, 'The Tour,' by Theresa Wright, and 'Summer's Ending' by Joy Mancinelli, and they read like two sides of a coin — a new beginning for Starsky and a bitter end for Hutch. Both are good, tho Joy's leaves you wanting to hug the poor kid. This juxtaposition was a stroke of genius. There are a number of other, shorter pieces — an upbeat death story (yes, really!) by Marian K., an explanation of Those Coins (two of them, at least) by Melanie R., and several very funny Rayelle Roe shorts. I thoroughly enjoyed Terry Adams First Time Story on page 100 (a very short story.) Overall, I'd recommend Vespers 2. It's a bit heavy to read in one sitting, though if you are in a mood for Relationship Stories, it's just the ticket. I think it has the best humor around — that was what I enjoyed the most — and readers who look for poetry (I generally don't, so take that into account) will probably be delighted.[7]
Vespers, to no one's surprise—and no one's disappointment, either is turning out to be this fandom's basic no-frills zine. You won't find a four-color print on the cover (indeed, you may find yourself with case of deja vu); you won't find very much artwork inside. Neither will you trip over editorial self-congratulations, or the sort of tasteless self-hype that has graced some recent S&H publications. What you will find is spare and elegantly effective layout, and one-hundred-and-twenty-eight pages of quite excellence. The zine is well worth the wait. And it's well worth your time and money. There's an uncommon thematic unity to Vespers this time around. All the serious pieces carry an uneasy sense of concealed conflict; there is more going on here that first meets the reader's eye. (Or the characters. They deceive themselves even as they lie to the observer.) Counterpoint to this deception is the repeated leitmotif of inadequacy. The Starsky and Hutch of these stories inhabit a universe in which love is not enough and will never be enough; in which men and women cannot reach outside a primary relationship to share with others. The imagery reflects this throughout in an intense play of light and darkness on both the literal and metaphorical levels. The dark is stronger, almost always. It can be held back a little, but not defeated. Gayle Gordon's 'Truth or Dare' sounds all these themes at the outset. In a dream-like encounter, Starsky asks Hutch a question to which he has no ready answer, and both are unexpectedly forced into honesty. Context and resolution remain unspecified; those supplied by the reader will depend on how she sees the relationship between the two men, and on her estimate of their emotional strength. The final line suggests, but doesn't promise. In contrast, promises are the essence of 'If I Were a Carpenter.' This piece is both more complex and more intimate than Kay McElvain's contributions to Vespers, and shows considerable growth. Her dialogue is crisper, her handling of character surer, especially in the areas of emotional ambiguity. When Starsky announces that his current lady is pregnant and that he intends to quit the force to marry her, Hutch's responses are transparent to the reader, if not to himself or his partner. Equally clear are Dianna's reasons for her attempted manipulation of Starsky; her apparent jealous; Starsky's resistance to any real reordering of his priorities. It's a classic triangle, with each character able to make a commitment to one other, but incapable of reaching further to bring in a third. Again, the ending is not what it seems: Starsky's choices are not quite honest. Ostensibly lighter is Melanie R's 'Circle of Time', in which a wealthy eccentric assembles what he believes to be the the Round Table and mistakes Starsky and Hutch for Merlin and Arthur come again. The delights of this small piece include Mel's usual clearly lucid prose, an appreciation of her characters, genuine kindness, and some of the finest cameos of English servants to be found this side of the Pond. One is not allowed to forget, though, that Wynford Williams' dream led him to attempted murder. Nor can one help remembering that Merlin was made impotent and shut up in his rock by Nimue, or that Arthur died at Camlan and a new Dark Age came upon Britain, The protectors of 'chivalry of hope, of strength and goodness' are as vulnerable as the dream itself. Cheryl Rice attempts something rather different in 'Ilium', Starsky in the first person accompanying Hutch to Vanessa's much-attenuated funeral. If you grant some unstated premises, it's a credible presentation which occasionally detours into genuine brilliance. Eg., Starsky's description of his first sight of Vanessa… For the most part, though, emotions are muted. We have affection in place of love; regret instead of grief; annoyance rather than anger; dislike that can't be bothered to become hatred. This constant minor—key emphasis wears after a time, as does the almost unbroken narration. The author's glorious Starskyisms ('up a tree without a paddle') distract the reader from the lack, but don't quite make up for it. Like Melanie"s other story, 'Payment in Kind' centers on prophecy and misperception. In search of information on a troublesome gang, S&H chance upon an ancient Chinese sibyl instead. She reads the I Chung for Starsky, and some disturbing things emerge. His fear and terrible hope are presented through implication, as is Hutch's deliberate refusal to understand. The piece is as clear and as sharply cut—as a fine diamond. One of Melanie’s best. Further evidence that good things come in small packages is provided by Marian K.'s 'Portent'. It's a short-short set in the aftermath of The Fix that raises some important questions about the true nature of Hutch's addicton. As with 'Truth or Dare', the reader will have to provide her own answers. 'The Tour', by Theresa Wright, is less completely successful. The 'surprise' ending 'isn't', really, and depends on referring to Starsky by a nickname coined for the purpose. A gimmick, pure and simple. Still, the characterization of a younger Dobey is effective, the plot is modest and free of the melodrama that marred 'A Time to Grow', and the handling of an adolescent Davy is mostly believable. The piece is a good example of what a developing writer can do when she doesn't insist on overreaching herself. It's balanced by an initiation story for Hutch that, fortunately, does work perfectly. Joy Mancinelli's 'Summer's Ending' deals with the effective termination of Hutch's childhood—and the beginning of his conviction that he will be loved if he can just be good enough. The White Knight as page; salvation by works, not faith. Ten-year—old Kenny is a believably troubled child, sympathetic without the maudlin overtones of Little Nell. Nor are his preoccupied parents and grandmother portrayed as wilfully cruel; their lack of communication with their son is partly a result of his refusal to talk to them. Hutch's future relations with women are all implicit here in his attitude toward his mother and sister, in his perception of their selfishness and his experience of rejection. The death of his grandfather also establishes his image of himself as destroyer: 'he died because he loved me'. A series of small tragedies waiting to happen, adriotly presented. The zine closes with Dotty's own 'Coign of Vantage', and unusual piece that observes Starsky and Hutch from without. The POV character is Richard Ashley, a young cop just assigned to Metro and suffering from a severe case of hero worship. He takes an immediate dislike to Starsky (with considerable help from DMS himself), tries to come between the partners...and learns a few things. Just as important, though, is the one thing he does not learn. Despite his own better judgment, despite the advice of his sympathetic and quietly sensible partner, Richard is inexorably by the mystique of danger that surrounds Starsky and Hutch. The characterization is closely observed, with an eye for nuance. It's a chilling story, and an uncomfortable one. Expect to have your preconceptions challenged. On the lighter side, Vespers offers several delightful vignettes by Rayelle Roe at her usual best, an eminently risible Starsky-and-Hutch-in-Heaven tale (buried assumptions again, Marian!) and an utterly wicked send-up of Roy Smith's 'Brother Helped' by Sue Doughnym. In a single page, 'He Ain't Heavy, He's my City' manages to identify and puncture every one of the novel's inconsistencies and pretensions-and make your ribs ache in the process. (Though Mme. Doughnym, too, fails to discern the true nature of IT. As the historically-minded among us know, 'It's out!' is what Philippe Auguste wrote to Prince John....) There's also poetry in abundance, with the Best-of-Show honors divided among Dotty's opening invocation to Nuestra Senora. Reiga de igs Angeigs, Melanie's 'Any Minor World' and Pat Massie's 'The Warrior and The Priest'. Real poetry, rare in fandom — enjoy. A couple more points. I haven't said much about the quality of the writing in individual stories for the simple reason that they're all technically good. They're all couched in grammatical prose, all give close attention to presentation of their characters, all give us dialogue that doesn't jar the ear. True, some pieces are better than some others. But the overall level of quality in Vespers is consistently high. Even the newcomers aren't 'good, for neos'; they're simply good, period. There's a lesson here, about what happens when an editor makes a commitment to quality in her product. Quality above ego-gratification, quality above even the 'love and fun' that go with fan writing. Publishers and writers take note: this is the one to match, or beat if you're ambitious. Dotty has shown you where the ring is. Dance if you can. Truth in Package Disclaimer: I have a story in Vespers, not discussed above for obvious reasons, and Dotty is my good friend. Which is, of course, why I'd be the first to tell her if she'd fucked up.[8]
Dotty Barry has just published a highly deceptive zine. By this I do not mean it is overpriced for its contents it most emphatically is not. Nor do I mean that the offerings promise much but deliver little most of them are excellent and a few are brilliant. Nor do I mean that in quantity of items (44 entries in 128 pages) we are missing out on quality we're not. What I mean is that deception (misapprehension, illusion, misconception) is the theme of the zine as a whole. Dotty warns us right off with her opening poem about Los Angeles as a city of deception and' All through the zine the theme of mistakes and mistaken perceptions is explored in various permutations. Susan Wyllie's poem details Starsky's White Knight illusions about love. Kay McElvain's 'Vanessa' is a look at what Hutch prefers not to see in his ex-wife. Marian K.'s 'The White Knight Revisited' is quite specific about Hutch's deceptions, a theme also chosen by Dotty in her untitled poem on page 94 and complimented by the piece on the following page. Making further use of the imagery of illusion is "what the dormouse said" by Jane Aumerle, Sweet Alice's perceptions of her tarnished Wonderland. Sometimes we encounter a little magic in these poems, but don't they also call magicians "illusionist"? And always there is the truth that hides behind deception and which sometimes willfully shatters through to present itself in uncomfortable ways ("With Intent", with that last line, "And that's murder, my friend", is a prime example of this). LA VESPERS is a zine for people who like poetry. Not just "prose busted up into lines", although there is some of that here, but poetry. Pat Massie's "The Warrior and the Priest" is a terrifying vision of Hutch and an excellent work; this is also the first I've seen of Galye Gordon's poetry and it, too, is quite fine…And so we progress through the rest of the zine. How long are Starsky and his girlfriend Dianna going to fool themselves in "If I Were a Carpenter" (McElvain)? How many layers of illusion protect Starsky from the truth of his father's association with Joe Durniak ("Honor Thy Father", Aumerle)? Immodestly, I will mention the two short pieces of mine own, which also deal in mistakes in perception and willful illusion. Joy Mancinelli's "Summer's Ending" shows us a young Hutch embarking on his lifelong White-Knight/Golden-Boy crusade an elaborate defense/deception whose reasons are wel1-presented and sadly understandable. But it isn't until the last story, the zine's major work, that we find our own illusions broken. "Coign of Vantage" is a marvelous piece. Dotty has told it entirely from one point of view, that of a new man at Metro Homicide. We see S&H through his prior and much-mistaken conception and think we have no illusions of our own about the reality behind what he sees. But all the characters in this story, with the exception of the older cop who becomes the New Kid's partner, are fooling themselves and so are we. There is a brutal and potentially tragic truth behind the fondly-cherished illusion of "Me and Thee". This is the best piece in the zine, brilliant both in theme and execution. Lest you recoil from VESPERS 2 with the notion that it's a 128—page downer, let me mention one name: Rayelle Roe. This woman is crazy. She should be locked up with lots of paper and pencils to create more idiocies like "Starsky's Lament" and "Hutch's Lament". The unlikely Ms. Sue Doughnym has also perpetrated an assault on my sense of humor with her send-up of "A Brother Helped Is a Strong City", which is exactly what it deserves. There is some gentler stuff, most notably Marian K.'s sentimental but unsloppy "Heaven Can Wait, Can't It?" Betty de Gabriele's illo for this, with the single molting feather, is delightful. Well, about the artwork. VESPERS has never been what you’d really visually stunning zine. Dotty is into graphics, and does with them they are effective around the poetry where job otherwise be a lot of "aesthetic" white space, poems here which beg for the hand of a Faddis or a [Jean C.] What art there is fits well and is pleasing to look upon, but oh, how I wish there had been more illustrations. They would have made a really good zine into a really great one. Not all the stories and poetry fit neatly into my little thesis about deception and illusion, but most of the ones which do not proved an agreeable change of pace. My only serious reservations (otherwise known as, "Why didn't they make it better?") were with "Truth or Dare , which seemed to be an exercise in deliberate obscurity rather than an attempt at cautious revelation; and "Ilium", which went on a bit too long. Re: the last-named piece, I have a little trouble believing that Hutch would forget what happened to Helen of Troy after her face did its thing and she had to go back home to hubby. What I find difficult about VESPERS 2 as a whole is that the zine itself is elusive, like the truths in its stories and poems. The weave of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and illusion contained herein make for an uneasy feeling overall. This is not sweetness-and-1ight is it devastation-with-an-"I love you"-at-the-end, but rather but call a nice would there are stories and selection of pieces which illustrate how many ways S&H delude themselves in everyday life. There is nothing catastrophic here, nor even anything which cannot be worked out with talk and honesty. Yet the talk is mostly to perpetuate a deception or a mistaken perception, and the honesty has layers to it that are perhaps felt by the characters yet not dug into for a final understanding: the truth here is too dangerous to the structure of illusions in which they and we function daily. This zine is restrained, by and large, and this is a real relief after some of the gut-wrenchers lately published. After all, S&H can't get shot/knifed/drugged/emotionally whalloped in every story. Thank God. VESPERS 2 isn't easy reading, but it's worth the trouble. Highly recommended.[9]
If had to describe this zine in one word, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between 'surrealistic' and impressionistic.' Maybe I should compromise and use 'bargain,' which certainly fict. 27 poem, 16 stories, 1 elaborate joke and countless fairly-good to very-good illos make this zine well worth buying. I can’t find a bad piece of work in the lot. The list of contributors reads like a ’10 Best’ list of fandom… Artwork, admittedly, is a little less than impressive; aside from the excellent double portrait by Kurz, the drawings are generally in the B+ range. Production values are good overall: the print is perhaps unnecessarily large and white space is a trifle too extensive, but the printing is clear and typo-free; binding is cheap but sturdy large size staples, the paper is light enough to show some see through from the following pages, but not enough to be distracting. The ‘impressionism’ and ‘surrealism’ are there, too, though. Aumerle’s haunting Starsky story, ‘Honor Thy Father,’ is rife with dream-diffuse-memory-passages. Gordon’s lead-off story ‘Truth or Dare’ dives into internal imagery almost too fast for the eye to follow. The poetry is almost necessarily impressionistic and surrealistic. Even in the light-hearted comedy pieces like ‘Heaven Can Wait, Can’t It?’ or ‘Octogenarians Two’ there’s an odd feeling of rootlessness, of illusion, of something going on under the surface whose currents run crosswise to the surface action. On the one hand, this undercurrent gives the work depth; on the other hand, it makes a lot of the writing murky and puzzling. The skill of the writers generally makes this tension support and enhance the plotting and characterization; after awhile, through, the cumulative effect begins to hang as heavy as L.A. thunderclouds, leaving the reader restless and vaguely perturbing, wondering just what’s going on. A prime example of this is the story ‘If I Were a Carpenter,’ wherein Starsky gets his girlfriend pregnant, and seriously begins contemplating fatherhood – much to Hutch’s dismay. The possibility that family-life could break up the partnership, or that the occupation hazards of the partnership could break up the marriage, eventually lead the women to terminate the problem – and the affair – with a timely abortion. The implications of Starsky’s nagging guilt and Hutch’s never-precisely-stated jealousy are never examined, but their presence adds an eerie depth to the story beyond what the writer may have intended. Likewise, in the extensive flashbacks of ‘Honor Thy Father,’ there’s a brief mention – like a moonlit sighting of the Loch Ness Monster –that Starsky is bi-sexual and hiding it. These two examples are as close as any of the offerings dare come to naming the bête noir beneath the surface. What’s going on is that neither the characters nor the fandom reading and writing about them dare deal with the serious implications of love. Fear of the wrath of the Authorities, whether a fictional Los Angeles government or a very real Spelling-Goldberg legal department, keep the characters from any direct expression of their painfully intense feelings and keep the writers from any direct expression of the problem. The result is that the characters circle helplessly around each other, unable to approach closer, or pull away, and the writers’ output takes on the brooding quality of Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde.’ One wonders how much of this courtly pavanne is done consciously. Neither life nor art can long survive such an untenable position. Sooner or later the barrier will break, the Authorities will be routed, the lovers will finally embrace, and S/H will take its place beside K/S as just another acceptable genre and theme. Until then, though, ‘L.A. Vespers’ will stand as a splendid example of art reflecting life ‘through a glass darkly’; a beautiful and troubling portrait of a relationship and fandom poised on the brink of realization. This zine is a must-buy.[10]


  1. ^ from Star Canticle #2
  2. ^ by Paula Smith, this review appears in S and H #8, Datazine #7, and Universal Translator #3
  3. ^ from S and H #8
  4. ^ from S and H #9
  5. ^ from Paula Smith in the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  6. ^ a 2007 comment at Crack Van
  7. ^ from S and H #33/34
  8. ^ from S and H #33/34
  9. ^ from S and H #33/34
  10. ^ from Datazine #21