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Posted By Sandra Alland

Cachin Cachan Cachunga was fantastic, as per usual (despite some technical difficulties at The Street, as per usual!). Highlights were the second-ever reading by zinester Nine (which was both funny and moving), an intensely powerful film by Kristiane Taylor, bellydance by Lily, and assisted film curation by the fantastic Screen Bandita. Thanks to everyone for coming out. We're taking a break until December or January to deal with the harsh realities of life... we'll let you know when we're back.

In more depressing news, I watched an episode of Panorama that focused on racism in the UK. It was devastating. Two Asian reporters went undercover for eight weeks in South Mead, an estate in Bristol (similar to many housing estates in the UK). They were harassed every single time they left their home. With hidden cameras, the reporters managed to record the horrific attacks. The man was punched and told to walk on the road so a car would kill him. Children and teens threw bottles and cans of Coke at the woman, and threw rocks and balloons full of water at the back of her head from close range. Men mooned her and threatened her. An 11-year-old told her he had a gun and to hand over her purse, said he would cut her throat next time he saw her, then threatened her with a brick. Both reporters were called "Taliban" and "smelly Paki", and told "Go away, Iraq is that way". It was constant and horrifying, and nearly drove the reporters (who were both born in the UK and had never experienced such treatment) to nervous breakdowns in two short months. I was especially freaked by the behaviour of the children.

Currently the racist British Nationalist Party holds 100 seats in Britain, and recently won two seats in the European parliament. They are being permitted to take part if public debate as if they are a legitimate political party, and are screaming about freedom of speech and the "oppression of the white indigenous majority" in Britain. This is serious shit. Last year, there were 20000 more (reported) incidents of racial assault in the UK than the previous year. The propaganda of the BNP is hate speech, pure and simple... it incites people to violence, and also targets and takes advantage of the poor and uneducated.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

A lot of things were stolen from me this summer, the least of which was my wallet. Strangely, it arrived in the post the other day (minus my credit cards and the small amount of money I had, of course). But thanks to the thief who left my driver's license and other important things behind... you're kinder than some.

Tomorrow is Cachin Cachan Cachunga! at The Street, 2 Picardy Place. Featuring Nine, Kristiane Taylor, Lily, Zorras and some serious and silly films about freedom of speech. More info here.

In other news, I read an article in the Observer about government research into racism in the UK -- the results are not very surprising, but it's good to see them published. When applying for jobs, people of Asian and African descent have to apply for almost twice as many jobs as their white British counterparts (even with the exact same British education and experience) before receiving an interview. I have to say I have found the racism here (coupled with nationalist fervour, whether British, English or Scottish) to be extremely virulent and very very disturbing... the things people say and do are disgusting.

In more positive news, there is an exciting new small press in our midst. It's called tree house press and has just released its first two publications, both of which are stellar. Snapshots of the Boy by Shaun Levin and the long-awaited Joshua Tales by Andra Simons are available from treehousepress.ukATgmail.com. Please check them out, they are gorgeous.

xo

 

 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Last night I went to hear visual artist and activist Del Lagrace Volcano speak about gender, and intersex history, culture & art, at GoMA (a co-production with the Glasgay Festival). The talk was superb, and I urge you to check out Del's work. Sadly, as Del himself pointed out, the evening would have been better attended had GoMA not removed the information from its website in order to avoid controversy. I think it's downright shameful not to promote aspects of the Sh[OUT] LGBTI program -- that GoMA itself planned and commissioned -- because of worry about the reactions of tabloid newspapers and fundamentalists.

This is Del's general artist statement: "As a gender variant visual artist I access 'technologies of gender' in order to amplify rather than erase the hermaphroditic traces of my body. I name myself. A gender abolitionist. A part time gender terrorist. An intentional mutation and intersex by design, (as opposed to diagnosis), in order to distinguish my journey from the thousands of intersex individuals who have had their 'ambiguous' bodies mutilated and disfigured in a misguided attempt at 'normalization'. I believe in crossing the line as many times as it takes to build a bridge we can all walk across." It really is about time the world woke up and recognised that there are more than two genders out there, and (as Del pointed out), that most of us do not actually know what gender we belong to even in the supposedly scientific way (i.e. Have any of you had your chromosomes tested?)

In less important and revolutionary news, I finally took my friend N's advice and started watching True Blood, that American vampire tv show. I've always had a thing for vampire art (and also some less-than-brilliant vampire movies), so I thought I might vaguely dig it. But it's actually really exceptional for a tv show! The characters are interesting, and the idea of good and evil is complexly presented. Fascinating echoes of both black and gay liberation movements are constantly present because of the plot around vampires "coming out of the coffin" and demanding equal rights. Also vampires will screw anyone, they are so open-minded ;-) But I think perhaps what I like best (apart from the sex, blood and gore haha) is the fact that for once an American television show is not set in New York, Chicago or LA. It's set in the south, in Louisiana. It's refreshing to see the south depicted, and not just as a place full of rednecks (haha, rednecks! Vampires. Red necks. Ha.) Two of the main characters are a supersmart black woman and a supersexy out black gay man, and there are also several strong, intelligent white women (as well as ongoing comments about class). I think the show does much to counterract the ridiculous depiction of the south as being full of nothing but uneducated, right-wing fundamentalists.

Oh, and a quick update on ongoing entertainment on the Subcity reviews forum (see my last two posts)... quite fascinating that many of the nasty comments -- about Zorras being sadly unknown on the internet and deservedly linked with Spanish porn, about it not being racist to be bored by foreign languages, and about whether we "even know what misogyny means" -- have been mysteriously removed from the forum. And replaced by people writing very calmly (and supposedly objectively, ha) about how both Y and I are good on our own, but our fusion just doesn't "meld." And how accusations of racism are "unfair." Again, I don't think this is a superbly important debate (mainly because I don't think these guys are interested in listening), but I thought I'd let you know just for the record, so my earlier comments don't sound out of proportion.


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

A few people have commented intelligently and respectfully on the SubCity website, and I thank them for it (see yesterday's post). Others (from SubCity) have made further ridiculous and often offensive statements. I was considering writing a letter of complaint to the station, or commenting in their comments section, but I've decided I won't waste any more breath or time on this. Except to say I find it hilarious that the station bothers to do "reviews" at all (given their guidelines, their reviewers' lack of training or skill, and their whinging that they are volunteers); that it defends racism by saying the racist is just a student and that it's perfectly legitimate to complain if someone is speaking a funny language you don't understand; and that some guy thought he was insulting Zorras by saying that when he searched us online all he found was Spanish porn. That's kinda the point, genius...

Thanks for the entertainment.

xo

NOTE from 9 Oct.: Subcity has removed many of the loaded comments now (without saying that they have been removed). Now they are speaking calmly, and pretending to have a professional opinion...


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Zorras received their first (mostly) bad review today. I'm a pansy but I actually like criticism -- it makes me work harder. In this case, however, the guy had nothing remotely intelligent to say, had no clue about the genre he was reviewing (or much else), and also made it painfully clear that he is both a racist and a misogynist. By the end I was quite relieved that he (mostly) hated us, what the hell would we do with a fan like that?

But seriously, why did the mysterious (and cowardly) "allyrege, subcity fresher" even get the job of reviewer at a supposedly forward-thinking radio station? Why did he fly immediately to a caricature of an overzealous feminist from my use of the word "ouch," a word that has nothing to do with gender? And his comments about Zorras "bad habit of slipping into some unknown language" are just plain offensive. Shame on SubCity Radio for publishing tripe like this. 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

The amazing Wisrutta Atthakor reviews Ladyfest Edinburgh here, including Zorras and Sister Spit. Also including an interview with Y and me. Many thanks to Wisrutta and the F-Word: Contemporary Uk Feminism! Check out the site in general, it's stellar.

In other news, I watched Sin Nombre (Nameless) and El Bano del Papa (The Pope's Toilet), two films focusing on poverty in Mexico, and Central and South America. Both films are brilliant and gutting, though El Bano del Papa has much more comic relief. Sin Nombre tells the story of gangs of young men (and boys) killing each other in Mexico, as well as the life-threatening journeys many people make across Latin America to reach the United States. El Bano del Papa is a fictionalised telling of the real visit the Pope paid to Uruguay, when hundreds of families in a small town went broke by investing in schemes to sell food and souvenirs to the thousands of Brazilian visitors that never showed up. The Vatican did nothing to help them, of course...

A Special shout-out to Bosslady Kika for all the quality films she's been feeding Zorras with!

xox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Where is perhaps the last place you'd expect to see Zorras' reviewed? Well, I would maybe have thought at the Ultimate Metal website. And also reviewed favourably! Here's what Simon Brand had to say about us:

"I thought that Zorras were the best band of the second night. A very unique mix of poetry, music, stories and just plain weird. The poetry was sharp and funny, the placement effective, the visuals fitting; a rather unforgettable experience, I highly recommend checking them out to anyone looking for something different. At some point after Zorras, I turned to someone I had met at the festival and said 'How the hell do you follow that?'"

For the full review of Cocoon Counter Culture Fest Weekend go to www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/live-reviews/531551-cocoon-counter-culture-festival-edinburgh-scotland-12-13-september-2009-a.html

xo


 

 

 
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