Posted By Sandra Alland

There's something in the air lately... something kinda like hope. After helping kick the Nazis out of town the other day, I found out there's a new indie bookshop in Bruntsfield called The Edinburgh Bookshop. Then today I went by The Forest Cafe and discovered that their renovations are complete and Snip & Sip is up and running!

Snip & Sip is run by Magda, a wonderful hairdresser who will cut your hair and give you vodka, all for a very reasonable price! Also she plays the music of local indie musicians while she cuts (and you drink). On the beautiful shelves around her shop are publications by The Forest, as well as indie books, zines and CDs. It is divine. Go there! 


snip sign

snip chair

snip books 

pretty no? All those yummy zines and CDs and books!! xoxo

Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to all our friends who came out to the most excellent Christmas party at the ceaselessly amazing Elvis Shakespeare Music and Books. If you're shopping, please shop there! They are a rare last bastion of community-oriented shops. And they have good stuff.

Zorras had a blast and enjoyed all the other bands who managed to cram themselves into that tiny corner among too many records, books, beer bottles and people. We especially dug the Fnords. Pure surf-punk joy.

In other news, please read the following review of Angels of Anarchy (see previous post on this amazing show at Manchester Art Gallery) by London's fantastic Sopher Mayer. I can't tell you enough times to go see this show if you get the chance.


Posted By Sandra Alland

"In 1994, there were 125 women's bookstores worldwide. Now there are 21." - Quill & Quire, December 2009

And soon there will be 20, unless the wonderful Toronto Women's Bookstore manages to raise $40 000. Please go here to donate.


Posted By Sandra Alland

The blatantly fascist/racist British Nationalist Party's website currently describes the Copenhagen Summit as an "anti-white guilt hatefest which will see billions more taxpayers' cash poured into the Third World." When will Britian do something about the BNP?

In other news, Borders is closing its doors in Glasgow. In the Metro "news", there were reports of campaigns to keep it open. The quotes were as follows: "I met my wifey at the Starbucks in Borders." "I like watching people passing from the window." and "I enjoyed wandering around." No one mentioned books or magazines. I guess that explains why these "protesters" weren't around to protest the closing of independent bookshops...

I do have to admit that I'm slightly sad to see Borders close, only because it's one of the very, very, very few places in Scotland where you can get at least a minimum selection of independent arts, feminist and LGBT magazines and journals. Waterstones, for example, do not sell a single magazine or journal. This is very scary. And I don't know of one good independent bookshop in Glasgow or Edinburgh that specialises in new books and magazines on a wide variety of topics.

Speaking of the death of books and book culture, have you heard of Google Books? Google Books freaked me out a while back when I read they were scanning billions of books to put online without permission. Now it seems there's a class-action suit against them for copyright infringement, which they deny and yet are agreeing to a settlement about.

It's all very confusing for a poet but it seems that I can get the whopping sum of 30 quid for each of my published books that was stolen by Google. From now on I can also supposedly get payments if people request full views of my books (currently the views are partial yet extensive) or click on advertisements for new cars or breath mints next to my books. I can also decide how much of the work and what sections people can view. Finally I have the option to delete my books from their database, but with the threat that they will not be rescanned in the future should I change my mind (e.g. because Google owns the whole world and it's the only way to read anything.)

My first instinct is to have my books deleted, yet I'm a bit confused. Look here and tell me your thoughts if you're so inspired

In still other news, Noisy Nights was fantastic! Check out the next one in February. It's the Traverse Theatre's new music night, where they accept scores by new and established composers, then arrange a (usually somewhat bizarre) trio of professional musicians to play them live. I especially loved Robert Irvine on the saw and Judith Keaney on the toy piano. Zorras had a blast, and even sold some CDs, which was impressive to me in such a discerning crowd. Also fittingly the logo for Noisy Nights is a person with a megaphone, and the Traverse is currently showcasing Zorro.

Now back to bed with me. Haven't been feeling well.


Posted By Sandra Alland

Another indie bookstore gone, and in Toronto where there was the most hope... read about it here and here.


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

Of course I left my longjohns at my folks' house and then the temperature dropped and it starting snowing! Argh.

I'm reading at 8pm tonight at Pivot at The Press Club on the north side of Dundas just west of Bathurst.Free! Hope to see you there. Please bring wool clothes and brandy.

In other news, This Ain't the Rosedale Library's new home on Nassau Street in Kensington Market is drop-dead gorgeous. If you haven't visited, do! And it's not just pretty, the books are delicious.

This Ain't

Speaking of delicious books, I just started reading Toronto playwright Claudia Dey's first novel, Stunt (Coach House). Wow. The way Dey uses language makes me so excited I might pee. What a writer. Please check her out.

Here's Charlie and Jessie hard at work:

Chas and Jess

In not so happy news, the endless condominium blight at the Lakeshore made my eyes bleed, and I was sad to see so many new chain stores on Queen (The Brick for gawd's sake?) and College. Also, why on earth did the AGO spend millions on this montrosity?





Here' s me and R. selling books at Canzine last Sunday. Long live indie culture! Thanks to those kind folks who bought my books. Also I traded a book for two chapbooks by the supertalented Tomori Nagamoto -- Bittersweet Hotel #101 and #501. Each chapbook consists of images and words depicting a different guest at the hotel. Nagamoto's drawings are stunning, and the text is bittersweetly  wondrous and sometimes superbly funny.


Art from Kensington and Dundas West:

toronto art 2


toronto art

And something must be said about Toronto's amazing food. Doubles, empanadas, Pho Hung's soup, John's Classic pizza, veggie dogs & burgers, oh how did I survive without you?

Warm kisses from the great white north,







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