Words by Matthew Spence
Welcome to Nimrod Philosophy 101. The class where you get the knowledge of a delusional college student. Todays’ lesson: Life is crazy when you think about it yo. One moment nothing exists, the next, it does. All because someone said “I have an idea” or “Shut the hell, I’m trying to think”, or “Em, you want some Spaghetti?”. It’s even more fascinating when it’s a 50/50 deal (of course that’s not an accurate percentage if they’re more than 2 people involved…I know how to do math…. barely). Creative minds are bound to combine for the greater, especially in a small and talented state like Connecticut. Things are bound to connect, no pun intended, once you’re part of a scene that brings everyone together. Musicians will get together to musician, artists will do art, and creativity will flourish even more. Is it by chance or destiny? who’s to say, It reminds me of the Kendrick Lamar lyric:
“You take two strangers and put ’em in random predicaments
Give ’em a soul, so they can make their own choices and live with it”
Zoe, Mariana, and Iyanna were three individuals on their own paths in 2021 like the rest of us. Living, eating, repressing 2020, relaxing electrically. Soon, they’d land in each other’s world, I imagine like Sora, Donald, and Goofy.
Under one roof (UConn) and over one fandom, the three would meet to be homies and unite as creatives with an idea to create a moment and movement. Think Lemonade Mouth (if you know, you know). That idea: a zine embracing anything and everything arts/culture around Connecticut, spreading awareness of issues/local events, submission based so it gives an outlet to those who love to create. Pegging conformity. A voice for the voiceless. By the people, for the people. All from a femme/queer outlook. All while being Cunty. Connecticunt.
2 years in, over 3300 followers on Instagram, 10 issues, DIY to the core, being the pulse of CT youth culture if you will. Being for the people. I could go on but simply put… I stan and so should you. Connecticunt is a zine that feels like a crowning achievement for CT and Gen-Z. Did it win a Pulitzer? No. I’m not referring to materialistic value or popularity (though it has fans across the country), I’m referring to it being a good example of being inspired to inspire. Appreciating those who inspire us, paying it forward, while implementing the grand principle: If you have something to say, do it and do it your way. “Fuck it and fuck you” in layman’s terms if you will. Making it interactive with crossword puzzles, showcasing art pieces from local CT creatives, and a playlist from DJ QT themself. This is the fun thing about zines, you can do whatever the fuck you want.
Now, me being a fan of the zine, a local Connecticut resident, and a nerd who writes for his own zine, telling you I was happy to get an interview is a bit of a “Thanks Captain No Shit” moment. On a regular April 19th, I listen to Avril 14th by Aphex Twin to meet with Zoe and Mar in a Wallingford diner for a neat convo about shit and shit you’ll read in a few. On the outside, I was cool (or well as cool as I can be) but on the inside, I felt like the embodiment of the interaction between Mark Hoppus and Billie Joe Armstrong backstage at the Pop Punk Disaster Tour.
The Following Q&A is sponsored by the letters: C U N T[Q&A has been edited for clarity, yada yada blah blah. Originally I had a theme with this interview but I said “fuck it” and decided to also ask other questions I was curious about]
(A Deep Icebreaker) What are your fav colors?
Zoe: My brain went to pink but I feel like recently it’s been blue. Pink has been my fav color for the longest, but my fav color to wear is maroon.[confliction of colors occurred but it was understandable]
Ok, green is my favorite all-time favorite. Blue is for now and pink is the highlight. Pink is the mood
Mar: I really like purple. Brown’s fun to wear. I really like brown pants
Describe your writing style in 3 words
Zoe: Chatty, observational, and winding
Mar: I like that one. Imma say: silky, unpretentious, and a little rambly
Zoe: We also write very different things, well not very diff. but you [Mar] specialize in poetry and I write more of like articles and stuff. I’ll try silky articles
Mar: I think your articles are pretty silky, but I don’t think articles should be too silky ya know. I feel like you want your article to be like chewy.
Mar: Which, I think you do a good job!
When did you [Mar] start writing poetry?
Mar: I’ve been writing poetry as long as I can remember honestly. Maybe since like 3rd grade.
Favorite poem you’ve written?
Mar: Every time I write a new poem, that becomes my favorite poem. But the one I just wrote for the last Connecticunt issue is my fave
Zoe: It’s amazing
Mar: Even though at first I didn’t wanna show it, but, I really like it
Last time you guys journaled?
Mar: [looks at Zoe] Like two days ago–
Zoe: I really should journal regularly, but, 2 days ago I was like <rapid noises and writing hand movements> writing in my notebook. But the last full thing I wrote in my notebook was last year in December. I was stuck in Missouri and I couldn’t go to Mars’ birthday party and I was so sad. I was so sad that I needed to write it out. I was gonna DJ.[Side note: December 28th is Mars Bday]
Write a new slogan for CT
Both: OH MY GOD!
Mar: Can you give a second to brainstorm <chuckles>[I give a second]
Zoe: One thing I like about CT, there’s so much in such a small state
Mar: Yeah that’s tough. How about “Size isn’t everything”[and this was the moment Mar became goated because that’s some shit I wish I thought of first]
Zoe: Cause there is so much in this state! I used to live in Southern California for a little bit and I feel like you can drive an hour and everything will look exactly the same. Yet, if you drive an hour in CT, it’s gonna look really fucking different.
First articles you’ve written? (in general and together)
Zoe: My first one: in 3rd grade, I had the Jensen times. I had a newspaper and I was 8 <chuckles and laughs>. I wrote it for my class every week and I wrote articles that were investigative journalism. My teacher was so crazy, Ms. Judson, she would call these two girls in my class “Valley Girls” and so I did an article on the history of Valley Girls and what Valley Girls were. My 2nd one was everyone kept leaving trash under the [jungle gym] and we were investigating how the trash got there cause we were 8. But together [referring to them and Mar] uhhhh…
Mar: Well, I guess not an article but the first creative project we’ve done together was the Poerty-In video.
Zoe: Yeah, that’s how we met, it was the UConn radio station for the zine club and I got there early [Mar was 10 mins late] and Mar just strolled in. Then we were sharing our artwork and stuff and it was Mars turn. Mar had like a poem and was like: “Someone make art for this” and I was like: “I can”
Mars: We literally never looked back ever since![Zines will bring people together]
Do you think it was destiny you guys met?
Zoe: 100%, if we didn’t meet in this lifetime, it’d be some other way. Some other multiverse, where we went to some college, work at the same job, just so many different versions.
Mar: I don’t believe in coincidences but we’ll call it that. Cause like, it was the second meeting of the year and we both just happen to be the first ones there and I don’t know, all of it was good to be true.[In other words: does the pope shit in the woods while a tree is falling and no one is there to hear it but it makes a sound? Yes]
The moment found voice in your writing?
Mar: Gotta say I’m still looking for it, every day. I don’t know, I just think that at least with poetry you’re never like: “Yes! DONE! FOUND IT!”. I change every day as a person and I grow, so I’m not done.
Zoe: I feel like only really recently. When I was in high school, my dad was like a hard ass and he was making me write assignments for him because he hated my writing style, cause my dad was a writer. But then, I got to enjoy writing again. Reading a lot more. I wrote this piece during my Freshman year of college, and I got really good feedback on it. So I feel that was when I was like: “Oh wait, I could write and it can be fun”
Pick a Songwriter: Lana del Rey or Phoebe Bridgers?
Mar: Lana raised me[Lana standom for a few minutes as Mars first concert was a Lana concert. Zoes’ was One Direction. Overall, Shout-out to Lizzy Grant]
Why do you love to write?
Zoe: I think stories are what makes us human <chuckles> and I think it’s so fun to get a little peek into someones’ brain. Just like workshopping like a story out loud, it’s just so fuunnnn.
Mar: I love writing cause I have a lot of things swirling around in my head and I can’t always understand them fully. So putting them on paper is a really nice way to trap them.
Any words for the people who made the shitty rules for the country (Legally and Societal)?
Mar: Kick rocks, Eat rocks
Zoe: Kick em and eat em
The Film Interlude
Zoe went film school in California so with that in my mind, the film nerd in me had to ask about it and their experience. They went in going for TV Writing, due to their standom of Nathan for You. Soon switching around majors, Zoes’ eyes would eventually open to the conclusion..shit kinda sucks. Things aren’t always gold while they may seem to glitter.
“I was just being taught what directors I should like from men in fedoras and ponytails. You have to love all these directors and take a test on what are the right directors. It’s just like ‘no that’s not how art is’. Just a hard no and also why am I paying for this?”
Note: Support Female Directors!!
Some of their favorite movies as of now; Almost Famous (Zoe), Frances Ha (Both), The Worst Person in the World (Mar), Chunking Express (Mar), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Both), The Shining (Mar).
Mar: “I really love scary movies”
Will we get more Youtube/Podcast Content in the future?
Zoe: We literally have to, we’ve been so bad at it
Mar: But we love it
Zoe: But we love it and we will
Zoe: So much of the stuff we do, we’d be doing anyways whether people notice or not, like la-di-da-la-di-da.
Mar: We need to, but, we also have full-time fucking jobs, so we have that with the side gig. So it’s hard. But when you really like something, you find time for it. So this summer I hope to be on the Youtube grind.
Zoe: No literally, Mars getting a camcorder
[Shout-out to eBay]
How did the Andrew Callaghan situation affect you? How did it affect your view on art vs. artist?
Zoe: It was a lot upsetting, cause I reached out and spent time with him. We went to a bar [nothing weird happened], worked with him and did a follow-up interview, and did all this stuff. So when it came out it was just really fucking sad cause I’m like “Dude, I’m a fucking femme and you did all this shit revolving femme” and it sucks ass. I, like everybody else, was stalking the Reditt page waiting for him to respond. It was really disappointing and sad. I’m happy he made a statement, I hope he’s held accountable to his community and that’s all you can hope for I guess. Especially since we worked so hard on the article.
Mar: Zoe put together this beautiful piece and it was a bummer cause it came out the day before we had to send the zine to print.
Zoe: So we wrote like a think piece before it. Cause the community was either like “HE SHOULD DIE!” or “he did nothing wrong” and there has to be a conversation. It just sucks. One of my friends said: as Connecticunt reaches more people, you’re gonna have cool interviews with big people and some of those people are gonna be fucked up. Especially a lot of celebrities, so you gotta be aware.
Mar: We came at it with the lens of Restorative Justice. You need to center the victims and the harm that’s been done, but, also like we’re abolitionists. I don’t believe in prison or jail, so to me, to just be like “Oh throw this person away, send him to the depths forever”. I don’t think this is a solution to the problem.
Zoe: And that’s why a lot of people go to the far-right cause people aren’t bringing them in and be like “Let’s talk about this” “How can we get you better?” “How can we all get better?”. It doesn’t apply to every situation of course!
Mar: Yeah, and you have to center the victims at the end of the day. That’s a piece of Restorative Justice that people leave out. It’s like, No, you have to center the victim. It’s complicated and we [people in general] have primitive brains for us to simplify things.
Rank Cunt on the list of best swear words
Zoe: Here’s the thing, we see or at least I see “cunty” in the queer sense of “oh you’re so cunt, you’re so hot, cunty”. Not like “You’re a Cunt”. Which, I feel like cunt has been weaponized against femmes. But I feel like cunty is up there, I feel like it’s #1, not to be sick, #2 is “Fuck”.
Mar: I just like swear words. I really love shocking people, and saying wild shit. I really like the word “bitch” in a colloquial way[Zoe retracts “fuck” and replaces #2 with “bitch”]
How do you balance the zine being for everyone without reaching?
Zoe: We just do what feels authentic. At least, in my opinion, you just have to make content that I [yourself] would want to read, and once you do that you get people who vibe with it.
Mar: I agree, also, I think to a certain extent, just start with your community and let it grow from there. Outside of our events, but we never did active promo and I like it that way cause I don’t wanna seek an audience and that’s when you deal with people who don’t like your shit. I don’t wanna seek an audience and that’s when you deal with people who don’t like your shit. I don’t care if people like it. It’s by the people [for the people]