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.


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 Please check them out, they are gorgeous.




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.


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

"It will be treated like a normal country if it acts like a normal country."

-British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, about Iran, 25 September 2009

Wow. The British government never ceases to wow me with their intelligent and thoughtful approach to international relations.

Posted By Sandra Alland

I'm trying to make my blog more accessible to the visually impaired by using a bigger font, but my stupid provider, Doteasy, first of all limits the number of words I can use in a blog entry (annoying), and secondly limits the words according to their size (bigger font = shorter entries only). So if I want to be accessible I'm not allowed to say very much. For more info on the annoyances of digital accessibility (for creators and visitors of sites) go to the blog of deaf and disabled artist, Alison Smith.

Here's an excellent article by Jennie Kermode on the ongoing problems regarding the reported censorship of Dani Marti's work by Glasgow Culture and

In other news, I promised more thoughts on great Canadian stuff I've been reading. So next in line is Stuart Ross's new book of short stories, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books). I love this book. I devoured it in a couple of hours, then read it again. Each story is a bizarre, surreal voyage. As usual, Ross moves you from the hilarious to the tragic in two words, and leaves you not quite sure how you ended up crying. I especially love "Three Arms Less" (an unusual meditation on war and race), "Me and the Pope" (where the Pope comes to crash at Ross's apartment during his visit to Toronto), and "Language Lessons... with Simon and Marie!" (a parody on learning a foreign language, in a war zone). The book has numerous references to war and its absurdities, particularly the Contras and Nicaragua, that leave you with a chill. I said "as usual" above, but perhaps actually Ross's short stories are emotionally scarier than his poetry, and not less funny exactly (because they are still really funny), but a more edgy kind of funny. A funny with something waiting behind it you're not sure you're ready for...

Speaking of war zones, I watched El Norte, the 1983 independent film by Gregory Nava, about two indigenous Guatemalans who flee to Mexico, then the United States, after their family is slaughtered for planning a strike. It's a stunning film, and shows the brutalities illegal immigrants face to get to, and then also survive in, the supposed Land of the Free. It's sad to see how little has changed... if it weren't for the production values I wouldn't necessarily have known I was watching a film from 25 years ago.


Posted By Sandra Alland




In other news, I am in love. With my TENS machine. It's a funny wee machine that looks like a walkman and has electrodes you stick to your (and your friends') body parts, and they give little jolts that produce endorphins and confuse your body out of pain. And you can wear it anywhere! Except in the shower. And leave it on as long as you want. No cure so far, but it's pretty darn swell... my deepest gratitude to the nurse who gave it to me.

In less happy news, it is the Year of Homecoming, which is the year when Scotland supposedly welcomes back all its people who've been spread across the globe. That's not the bad part. The bad part is that today, like many other days in the past two years, I was told to go back to my country. A woman almost ran me over with her car, and then of course was angry at *me* and then heard my accent and well... welcome home, Sandra, welcome home...

But I can't end on a note like that. So. I will say this instead -- thanks to The Street and Trendy Wendy for sponsoring our CD launch. The Street truly rocks. Go there.

Posted By Sandra Alland

"There's no reason why a society consisting of rational beings capable of empathizing with each other, complete and having no natural reason to compete, should have a government, laws or leaders." - Valerie Solanas, SCUM

I just read SCUM Manifesto for the first time, and have to say Solanas is quite brilliant. She's sublimely talented at the difficult art of irony, and sometimes she's also really funny,

In other news, BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson has apologized for recently calling Prime Minister Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot." Disability groups were rightly upset about the comment, and there has been much media coverage of complaints from those with disabilties. And now that being Scottish is officially considered a Disability, maybe I can get compensation! But seriously, I find it fascinating that no one mentioned the racial slur of an Enlgish commentator callilng someone a "Scottish idiot." The one-eyed part was crap too, but am I the only one who noticed that "Scottish idiot" sounded like a term that came out of Clarkson's mouth pretty often? And why did all the papers leave out the word "Scottish" when quoting him?


Posted By Sandra Alland

Israel bombed the UN headquarters in Gaza yesterday, destroying all the food and medicine that was meant for aid to injured and displaced Palestinians (many of whom were also in the buildings). They also bombed media buildings and a hospital. Worse still, they are using illegal warfare -- toxic bombs that are not permitted in civilian areas. But no harm done -- Israel said they were "sorry" afterwards... If you want to support Palestinians from Scotland, go to Scottish Palestinian Solidarity.



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