See Hear

59 East 7th St.
NYC, NY, 10003
(212) 505-9781
12-8 PM / 7 days

See Hear is one of those stores that has been a staple of the East Village so long it's almost hard to imagine it not being there. A good percentage of the stock revolves around alternative music of some sort, be it gothic, industrial, indie rock, avant garde jazz or bongo drums, and most issues and volumes are kept in stock for as long as possible. The staple magazines and fanzines from all the genres are represented, and the more popular local music zines can easily be found here. Many indie comics line the walls, including some that were shrouded by court trials and censorship, such as Mike Diana's Boiled Angel. Customers of all sorts can usually be found perusing the latest issue of MaximumRockNRoll, or Carpe Noctem, while the store's trademark instrumental music plays in the background.

One thing See Hear is not afraid of is controversy: "questionable" items such as the White Aryan Resistance newsletter and NAMBLA literature are mixed in with the music zines, sex zines and comics. Some people find this to be problematic, though the owner appears to believe it is all an expression of free speech. And while the owner of the store often treats both employees and customers in a gruff and surly manner, the store's varied stock has earned the store a reputation as the place to get fanzines. Of course, this is a testament to it's longevity, as well as the public's desire to see underground fanzines and comics in stores.

Commentary by Joan Rachel Dennis, Tuesday, December 23, 1997.