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Posted By Sandra Alland

So Michael Jackson died. There's of course more news coverage on the death of a pop star than on the stepped-up wars in Afghanistan, or the new reports of torture in secret U.S. prisons (and the Brits who lent a helping hand). Nonetheless it is one of those... historic moments? When I was ten, I wanted to *be* Michael Jackson. There's that, too. In the end I never knew what to think of the man, except that he was talented and knew how to move people...

But Farrah Fawcett died yesterday too... and Charlie's Angels were pretty damn cool. I also wanted to be her when I was 10. Bad timing, Farrah. I'm afraid no one's gonna notice now... there's too much cash to be made off of Michael.

In better news, Y was on fire last night. Zorras played to a small but delicious crowd at the lovely lovely Bowery. Thanks to Jane for the gig! Hailey Beavis was great too, she's quite a composer and plays guitar superwell. And I super super dug The Debutante Hour, a trio of women who are hilarious and fun and gooooooooooooood. Some of the best lyrics I've heard in ages! Too bad you can't see them, cuz they're off to Poland, but check them out if you can. Y joined them onstage for a couple of songs, one of which was a Ukrainian song that brought the house down!

In still other news, I saw on the news the other day that Prince Charles spent 3 million pounds of taxpayers' money on travel last year! I've never been a fan of the royal family, yet I'm more infuriated than usual. And that's just *one* of a huge family of idiots. But instead of doing away with the royals (I mean, really, don't they have enough of their own money??!), the government does things like focusing on the tiny number of people committing "benefit fraud." They encourage people to spy on their neighbours and report those living in poverty who may have "stolen" 200 pounds, when the real thieves are the banks (that have been bailed out with our money), the car companies (also bailed out with our money), and here in the UK -- the royal family. Millions of pounds for non-essential travel is never justifiable, and even less so in these times.

Lastly, check out the new shows as part of Sh[OUT] at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Anthony Schrag collaborated with LGBTI faith communities (including Al Jannah, Metropolitan Community Church and Quest), and David Sherry worked with The Scottish Transgender Alliance.

And speaking of the queers, tomorrow is Pride Scotia. The parade kicks off at 1pm on The Royal Mile.


Posted By Sandra Alland

"Same disaster, different day," said my father on the phone on Sunday. Indeed, that has been the description of much of my two years here... and only a Glaswegian has the particular talent to sum things up so perfectly.

But once in a while there are those little miracles, those lovely moments of joy that make life gentler. Four months ago I couldn't stop myself from buying Diana Ross and the Supremes on vinyl in a charity shop. I had no record player and no money to get one. So I just stared at the lovely cover.

Then two months ago I was telling my friends M & R how much I wanted a record player. Miraculously, we went outside and found a record player in the garbage right outside where we'd been. I had no idea if it worked, and I had no speakers, but I took her home (eventually, after she sat at various people's flats), and the lovely creature's been gathering dust ever since.

Then, last night, yet another friend moved back to Spain, and gave Y & me a bunch of things, including what looked like typical wee computer speakers. Turns out they are not for a computer, though....

Crackle. Crackle. Crackle. Baby love. My baby love.

I feel like a sentimental old fool, but there's nothing like vinyl. Nothing. I haven't felt so good in years. Weird but true. Music is very important to me, and though computers are fab, they lack something tactile, something that feels human -- or at least warm and full of flaws.

Thanks M, R & Y, for sharing your good luck (along with your bad, Y, haha).

In other news, Zorras open this Thursday for a Brooklyn band called The Debutante Hour, at The Bowery in Roxy Art House, 2 Roxburgh Place, 8pm, £5.



Posted By Sandra Alland

Yesterday, for the first time since moving to Scotland, I set foot in the evil empire of a Borders bookshop. It was raining, and I was curious. I'm sure most of you already understand the general yuck factor of corporate bookstores -- how they homogenize and censor our choice of books, how they use unfair practices to put small indie bookshops and publishers out of business, how they do nothing to promote local writers or writers who are not superstars, how they don't promote community events etc etc.


I have to say I was stiill a little shocked that  they didn't have a single lesbian or gay magazine on their shelves. No Diva. (Note: I later found out they did stock Diva, it was just out of stock). No Curve. No nothing. The only thing I found was a copy of Bust feminist magazine. It's not that I think these magazines are fantastic, but if even mainstream expressions of gayness are banned from a GIGANTIC (and I mean gigantic) bookshop/music shop/film shop/Starbucks/stationery & gift shop smack in the middle of Scotland's biggest city, then what of the rest of the country? I'm constantly amazed by the shameless corporate homophobia here. I mean, Blockbuster in Canada sucks huge and offends me with their "Alternative Lifestyle" section, but at least the movies are still there. Here, there is nothing that might offend. Well, all those straight marriage magazines offend *me*...

Also surprising to me was that all Glasgow schools are banned from going to the Sh[OUT] exhibition at the GoMA, even high school students! Because of its gay content. There has been much broohaha specifically about a Robert Mapplethorpe photo FROM THE 70S of a guy urinating towards another man's mouth. It's actually an artistically gorgeous photo, whether or not you're into yellow...

Anyway, more on that later perhaps. But right now I'm on bookshops. So what is a poor queer and/or leftie to do in Scotland? Sadly, there are very few indie bookshops that aren't second-hand. But even sadder is the fact that I have yet to come across an indie bookshop here that is anywhere near as radical as they claim to be (except Biz'Art at The Forest which is nonprofit and only partially a bookshop). And according to a woman at Citizen's Advice, statistics show that as an employee you are more likely to get fair treatment from Borders. Sad, sad, sad.

A further note on fair treatment: For those of you out there who have disabilities and bad work situations, contact Access To Work, it's a Job Centre program that has been set up to assist people with disabilities (and their employers) by giving money towards making a workplace accessible.

Okay, my voice-activated software is being funny again, so I have to run.





Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to everyone who came to visit me at the Meadows Festival today, and to B and M for sharing their stall with me. Here are some pics... B presented the "smallest theatre ever" and it was crackin. If only all actors were so cooperative...










Posted By Sandra Alland

In the midst of another rage-fest at the UK governmnent regarding ridiculous barriers set up for people with disabilities (it's time for me to "prove" I'm disabled yet again!), I have also fallen into a rage against the Belgian government and their fascist idenitiy cards and incompetency. European bureaucracy is unbearably ridiculous and ineffective, and a huge waste of money...

To combat all this anger, I will talk about some lovely art that has come my way recently...

1. Let The Right One In is, gorgeous and moving, um... horror film? It's beautifully shot, and the young actors are incredible. By far the best "coming-of-age" film I've ever seen, as well as the best vampire film. Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson is shockingly good. This is a film I want to own! (and due to pickiness and poverty I only own 4 films and some Wholphin DVDs.) See Let The Right One In at The Filmhouse in Edina.

2. Sophie Mayer's first book of poetry, Her Various Scalpels, is a juicy collection indeed. Mayer's imagery is densely beautiful, and even her poems about films feel deeply personal, drawing you in like an incantation. These are pieces I will return to often, always to find something new.

3. American translator Mark Schafer has finally published his ambitious anthology of Mexican poet and activist David Huerta's work, Before Saying Any of the Great Words. The collection is divine, featuring some very early poems by Huerta, as well as selections from his book-length poem, and a large amount of recent work. It's lushly designed, and has facing pages in Spanish and English. It's great to be able to watch an artist's progression in this way, especially one whose style has changed so much. Many thanks to Mark for dedicating himself to this translation at a time when we are seeing fewer and fewer translations...

4. Steven Smith, a local Edinburgh singer/songwriter, has released his first CD, and I dig it. Smith has a pretty but interesting voice, and isn't afraid to delve a wee bit into melodrama (slightly a la Antony and the Johnsons). He also throws in a fair amount of humour, which is always a plus for me.

5. Last, but definitely not least, Edinburgh's Shellsuit Massacre has released an EP that will knock your socks off.  This spoken word band is refreshingly political, especially about class issues  -- and funny, too. The EP comes with a wonderfully tactile booklet of poetry -- -interesting note: many pieces are made from found text. I especially dig "drug king bully" and "yi hoodies". Kudos to the designer, and to this weird and wiley duo of shit-disturbers.


Posted By Sandra Alland

Last night's Cachín Cachán Cachunga was superstellarfantastico! Loads of people came, despite the rare summery weather. Gorgeous reading from Sophie Mayer, and crackin films from Evi Tsiligaridou and Karen Miranda Augustine. And Lily and Alejandro danced the roof off! Zorras ended up doing an extra late-night, totally unplugged set, which was really fun. And we sold all the Maricones we brought! (Contact me if you want one cuz there are only 50.) Thanks to everyone for coming out.

soph evi

Sophie Mayer                                                        Rab & Evi & Isi!


Lily & Alejandro

Zorras Unplugged

In other news, I also dig this beatboxer, Lasse





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