Review: The Fifth Goal 1998 - 2003: Transcendental Graffiti Zine (Division Leap/Hierophant, 2015)

The Fifth Goal was the zine of Blake Donner, graffiti artist and vocalist of Parallax, who tragically passed away in August of 2005, along with three friends, while attempting to swim through an underwater passage in a cave. He was just 25 years old, and the accident occurred about a year before Parallax's lone full-length, Mediums & Messages, was released.

While I consider myself to be a fan of both hardcore-related zines and freight train graffiti, this project probably wouldn't have come across my radar were it not for the fact that Mediums & Messages has grown to become one of my all-time favorite albums; and while I never knew him, Blake's death is something that I think about often given the frequency that I listen to Parallax's music, and the inspirational message that his lyrics convey.

Across 436 pages (measuring 5.75" × 8.5" and about 1.25" thick), The Fifth Goal 1998 - 2003: Transcendental Graffiti Zine reprints all eight issues in their entirety: front covers, back covers, ads, outdated contact information, everything. Beginning in the late-'90s as a fusion of Krishna consciousness, music, and graffiti, the early issues include an assortment of personal essays, art, and relatively minor bits of music coverage. Much of the topics deal with standard fare '90s hardcore idealism, nonviolence, animal rights, and so on—perhaps naïve in delivery (Blake was still a teenager at the time, after all), but well-intentioned nonetheless. Along the way, Blake became disillusioned with Krishna consciousness, and by issue #5 the entire zine was essentially devoted to freight train graffiti—leaning heavily on railroad monikers, to be specific. So, the latter half of the book consists largely of cut-and-paste layouts of black and white photos of assorted graffiti scrawlings.

Was The Fifth Goal a fantastic zine? Not exactly, but it was unique, and certainly had its moments. The early issues were rough, for sure, but it's always cool to encounter photographic evidence of long gone graffiti, and there are some enjoyable interviews throughout—including (in chronological order) Kiaz, Ray Cappo, Colossus of Roads, Tangent, Ed Haskel, Green Thumb, Herby, and Ghouls. It also presented early signs of Blake's uplifting message(s)—which more or less boil down to the fact that life is temporary and we should all make the most of it.

The book, meanwhile, is perfectly executed, and a wonderful tribute to Blake's legacy. Acting as an important historical document of an atypical means of expression, it's the type of passion project that I wish would materialize more often (albeit following less tragic circumstances, of course). The whole thing makes me really miss the old days, when people took the time to write actual letters and trade physical matter.

Equally important, though, are the closing pages of essays from Division Leap's Adam Davis, Trial/Between Earth & Sky frontman Greg Bennick, Parallax bassist Travis Low, and Blake's mother, Laura Hamblin. These contributions really signify the impact that Blake had on the lives of those around him, and that this zine was put together by an individual that was really striving for something so much more.

Incredibly reasonably priced at just $25, the book's first edition sold out before it was even published, so interested readers should pre-order the second run now. All proceeds will be donated to the Blake Donner and Jennifer Galbraith Memorial Scholarship at Utah Valley University.

That being said, if the whole graffiti zine thing isn't for you, I wholly encourage you to explore the music that Blake recorded with Parallax. The leap in the coherence and maturity of his writing from the time of The Fifth Goal to the lyrics for Mediums & Messages is astounding. The album has recently been made available for free download, and contains some truly inspiring and meaningful material that I just can't recommend highly enough.

As I've said before, word for word, I think Blake would be pleased to know that his work continues to inspire others in his absence, and it always will...

The threat of insignificance is reflected in every action, and what I'm up against outweighs all that I am. I can't count the times that I've tried to subvert the stagnant will to live. Can we create momentum against dull, dragging days where we're forced to dominate or be dominated? Willfully distracted. I'm so far removed. Can I overcome indifference? Can I create momentum? Am I cursed to spend my days carrying dead weight? I am desperate to overturn this situation. Can I create momentum? My generation is dying to forget the part we play. Oblivious to oblivion. We can create momentum. We are the means of our freedom. We are the ends to our despotism. Content with the stagnant. Apathetic of our significance. Absorbed in the irrelevant. We are the means. We are the ends. I'm not destined to indifference. There is still so much to give. We want more than ineffectual activity. Taking up dead space. The fear of failure is reflected in all endeavors. We are the means of our freedom. We can create momentum.

Get It