Reading Zines & Marching In The Streets

I guess it’s been a little over twenty-four hours since I wrote this and I’ve gotten a lot done. I spent the morning responding to all the emails and messages that I’ve been procrastinating on (I seriously really hate corresponding with people online, you don’t even know, just send me a letter), weighing zines and scanning covers, restocking and ordering new zines, getting in touch with everyone who applied for the Fight Boredom Zine Residency (this year’s participants have been announced here), reading zines, and writing descriptions. Anyone who thinks that running a distro is a piece of cake has obviously never done so. It’s a lot of work, but it makes me really happy.

I took a break in the evening to meet up with a friend for a local casserole. I brought a metal spoon and a small tin that one would bake banana bread in (this is what I think of every time I see it), and she brought a spoon and a small mixing bowl, which made the most delightful sound. We made music, just the two of us, as we walked along St-Ambroise until we found a crowd of about fifty people doing the same thing. I recognize a lot of the people who are out every night, even if I don’t know their names. We all smile and nod and chant: « La loi spéciale! On s’en câlisse! » (We don’t give a damn about the special law). There is always some asshole who tries to run us down with their car… tonight there were a few. I took pleasure in blocking traffic and dancing for the angry drivers. Mostly it’s sweet times, though. Marching through the streets with friends, strangers, and the few family members who also live in this city.

It’s one o’clock in the morning and I’ll probably read zines for a bit before going to sleep. The news section of this site has been updated to reflect new titles in the catalogue, as well as a list of places I’ll be tabling at over the next few months. New titles include Doris #29, Echo! Echo! #9, Everybody Moon Jump #11-12, Leaving Room For The Im/possibility Of Unicorns, Show & Tell #9, and FIT: A zine about sports, fatness, feminism & disability, as well as Anarchist Bookfair Bingo prints, pictured below (made by missvoltairine).

Play a game with your friends, or hang it on your bedroom wall!

These prints are only a dollar each!

Did I tell you about how wonderful the Montréal Anarchist Bookfair was? Such a whirlwind of zines and coffee, hangin’ with friends and talkin’ with random punks and seeing the same familiar faces that I see every year. Some highlights include meeting a reader who drove here from Vermont, meeting someone from the anarchist bookstore who’s starting a rad mental health collective and wants to translate Maranda‘s zines to French, selling out of copies of Betrayal: A Critical Analysis of Rape Culture In Anarchist Subcultures (I promise I’ll have more soon), deciding to distro cassette tapes, meeting the person who does Flat Broke MTL, seeing a bunch of awesome bands at Death Church and Squalor, biking up to Il Motore for a dance party… the whole weekend was all kinds of overwhelming, but mostly in a good way. And in a few more weeks, I’ll be at the Toronto Anarchist Bookfair! Lemme know if you wanna house a couple of zinester gals June 22nd – 24th. À la prochaine!

Say Hello To The 2012 Fight Boredom Zine Residency Participants!

June: Bri is a zinester, artist, and musician from Cleveland, Ohio. She has been writing the perzine Motor City Kitty since 2004. During her stay at Tulip Farm, she plans to create the latest issue of MCK (#19), focusing mostly on the topics of family, loss, grief and the concept of home. Other topics that have been floating through her head lately that could appear in the issue are confronting privileges, accepting “guilty pleasures” (and why that phrase is problematic), and femme identity. She hopes to include more of her artwork and diary style comics in this issue, as well.

August: Teresa Cheng lives in Toronto, Ontario and is the creator of the zines Dykes & Their Hair, Feeling Words: A Pocket Book of Emotions and Upskirt: Dirty (Un)feminist Secrets. She is a first generation Chinese-Taiwanese queer woman of colour who is working toward becoming a high school English and Geography teacher. During her stay, she plans on making a zine called Repeat Conceit, containing interviews with punks of colour, as well as excerpts and new reflections on pieces from Race Riot, Shotgun Seamstress, Femme Shark Communique and other zines by people of colour.

September: Lacy J. Davis is an artist living and working in Oakland, California. She is super pumped on making things, specifically things that reference the teenage years, coming-of-age, sexual bumblings, memory, and the (not-so) subtleties of the feminine identity. While in Montreal, Lacy plans to work on a young adult novel. Within the story you may read about the process of dropping out of high school, a lady’s first queer love, the struggle to break free of the addictive powers of anorexia and bulimia, and of course, feminism.

Info on how we chose this year’s zine residency participants is here. To stay up-to-date on zine happenings and be the first to know about launch parties for these three projects, please subscribe to this blog (at the top right corner), or ‘like’ Fight Boredom on Facebook.

How We Chose Fight Boredom Zine Residency Participants

For the sake of transparency, I’d like to write about how we chose the 2012 Fight Boredom Zine Residency participants. You can view the application on the website here. The idea was based on the zine residency program at the Roberts Street Social Centre in Halifax (which I’ve been accepted to – I’ll be in Halifax for the last two weeks of July). I travel around a lot for zinefests and stuff, and I thought it was about time people made their way to Montréal.

As soon as I announced the residency, applications started coming in. We received twenty-eight applications in all – twenty-six via email and two via snail mail. A few days after the May 1st deadline, Stefanie and I sat down to look through all of ‘em. Some people were automatically eliminated. We decided that it wouldn’t be fair to consider the three applications that came in past the deadline. We also eliminated a few applications that we felt had no correlation whatsoever with Fight Boredom Distro’s submission guidelines, nor the Ste-Émilie Skillshare’s mandate. When it got down to it, there were still about twenty projects that we were totally in love with, and we realized it was gonna be a very difficult task. We then eliminated “applications” that weren’t really applications. Some people just emailed a couple of paragraphs about themselves and their zines, and even though they seemed like really great people, it was important to us that the applications be filled out properly. After all, we asked all of those questions for a reason. Having a Q&A style application made things a lot easier when we were narrowing it down to fewer participants and we wanted to check back on various information, for scheduling and the like.

We sat at the kitchen table reading over applications together. Each of us had a notepad and a pen, and as we went along, we wrote down each applicant’s name with whatever notes we thought were relevant, plus a Yes, No, or Maybe. Afterward, we compared our Yes, No, Maybe lists to each other’s. This is when things got really, really tricky. We’d narrowed it down to about eight or nine people, however we each had the same three “strong yeses”. And all three of them were only available during the same time period in September. We knew we could only choose one. So we set that list aside for a bit, and went to work on the June and August residencies.

Our first two choices for June couldn’t make it after all – one had found a job and the other had family visiting. Our third choice was available, so they quickly applied for a passport and bought a Greyhound ticket at an advanced discount. There were two people that we were considering for August, and I went with my gut on that one – I’m really excited about the project and I feel like the Ste-Émilie Skillshare and Fight Boredom Distro are the places to make it happen. I’ve told our second choice that they can be on standby in case something were to fall through.

Back to September. This was the toughest decision to make. In the end, the person who was chosen was one of the two people who applied via snail mail. They sent us a typewritten letter in a hand-sewn envelope and they were one of the first to apply. We’d been excited about their project since the very beginning and just couldn’t resist. Our other two choices know that they will be re-considered if something falls through – we’re really sad that they can’t all be here.

I can’t stress enough how difficult the decision was. Almost everyone had excellent proposals, and I wish they could all stay at the Tulip Farm. There are some projects that I’m really stoked on and even if they can’t create them in Montréal, I wanna do whatever I can to support them and of course add them to the distro catalogue in the future. And hey, maybe we can even become pen pals! I’ve alerted those who were not chosen, and if they’d like some more information or critiques, I’m into it.

I’d like to turn this into an annual event if I’m able to. Anyone who didn’t get in this year can certainly apply next year, and so can you, dear readers. (This year’s participants are listed here).

Hand-Delivered Zines and the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

In March, I got a distro order from someone who lives in the city. Instead of giving me their mailing address, they told me where they worked and asked if I could drop off some zines. Of course! I put ‘em in my backpack, rode my bike up to the Plateau, and hand-delivered ‘em. I was on my way to a pro-choice demo in the area anyway. I’m pretty sure that delivering zines by bicycle is totally adorable and fun, and I wanna do it more often! Ever since the article about my distro was printed in the Montreal Gazette, I’ve been getting a lot more orders from people within the city, including people who had never even heard of zines before! So, if anyone in Montreal wants to place an order and avoid postage costs, you can always send me an email with your address and we can work out a plan. I live in St-Henri, but I bike all over the city all the time. Let’s talk!

That said, I’ll be tabling at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair all weekend. Please stop by! The bookfair is taking place in two buildings right across from each other – the Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA) at 2515 rue Delisle, and the Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV) at 2450 rue Workman. Fight Boredom Distro will be at CEDA, but please make your way through the whole shebang. I hear there’s gonna be free coffee! And the Midnight Kitchen is providing food (there’s still time to volunteer to help cook, by the way).

Mostly, my life has been taken over by a few specific projects. One of them is preparing for the anarchist bookfair – ordering zines, screenprinting patches and posters (and helping friends with their screenprinting projects at the Ste-Émilie Skillshare), and working on some new zines. Still gotta do some cutting and pasting and photocopying and folding and stapling and and and… Speaking of, if you’d like to volunteer at the Ste-Émilie Skillshare, now is your chance! There are info and training sessions for the Sidetracks Team taking place on May 26th and 27th. I highly recommend joining! I’ve been on the Sidetracks Team since maybe two years ago, which means helping print t-shirts and posters and whatnot for various community groups, as well as having access to the space for personal projects. It’s a seriously amazing resource – the more, the merrier!

I’M ALSO WORKING ON TWO SECRET PROJECTS SSSHHHHHH.

If you applied for the Fight Boredom Zine Residency and haven’t heard back from me yet, don’t worry, you will. There were about thirty applications sent in, and out of those, we’ve managed to narrow it down to six people. Of course, we’re only able to choose three. We’re still workin’ on it. I can’t even tell you how difficult it is – there were so many exciting proposals and I wish I could make them all happen. Whether or not you’re chosen for the residency, I’ll still be in touch with thoughts and feedback. Soon!

I was riding my bike to the Plateau yesterday evening, and walked uphill on Clark because dammit I’m just not good at riding uphill. A middle-aged Francophone man stopped me and asked about the feminist killjoy backpatch on my flannel shirt. I told him that I’m a feminist who ruins everyone’s fun.

He asked how old I am. « J’ai vingt-six ans. »

« Et vous êtes féministe, puis vous l’annoncez? Je vous félicite. »

He said he was happy to see young feminists in Québec, he said there weren’t enough of us, he smiled, and he wished me une bonne journée.

(Yeah, I don’t update this blog much anymore, but I write about things on my Tumblr sometimes).

Sunday Morning Caffeine High

LIBRA: September 21 – October 20

Too much nothing has you wanting to ground yourself in things that are real. The next few weeks will call you to organize and stabilize your support systems and the relationships that keep them going. If you can manage to settle in and focus it will free you up to fly off and explore other opportunities as soon as they open up. For the first time in a long time you have a chance to make something happen. The fact that others happen to be there for you is a miracle. If two heads really are better than one your next project will turn out to be a total success.

Real Detroit Weekly horoscopes are where it’s at. I’m still doing med studies (see Culture Slut #25), and they still make me happy. Last night I came home with a cheque that’s gonna cover my bills for spring, and I baked a batch of cupcakes and made a plan to Get Shit Done. I might even treat myself to a postage scale and a fancy new tattoo. And now I’m on a ridiculous caffeine high – drinking coffee with Hari, listening to Patrick Watson on the radio, and riding our bikes down Notre-Dame in the sunshine was pretty much the perfect way to begin the day. And all before nine-thirty on a Sunday morning! Let me tell y’all what I’ve been up to…

Writing letters on the balcony with Sebastian.

Gummi pizza date, photo by Hari.

Parc René-Lévesque à LaSalle. Vincent and I rode our bikes all the way along the Lachine Canal to where it finally meets with the St-Lawrence River. What a picnic!

Vincent Wilde and his tall bike.

I changed my name to Amber Dearest. The other day, I met my mail carrier. He rang the buzzer because someone sent me a letter that required a signature. When I came down to the door, he asked, “Is Dearest your real name, or are you just a dear?” I laughed and told him it was a nickname, and he said, “Amber Dearest, you sure get a lotta love letters!” He said he was excited to finally see what I look like. I think I’m gonna start leaving cookies and stuff at the door for him, he seems real nice. Anyway, I’ve started going by a nickname mostly for the sake of making my legal name a little less Google-able. I kinda wish I’d used a pseudonym a long time ago, but I guess I didn’t realize the internet was gonna be such a thing when I started making zines ten years ago. Uh, I also didn’t think I’d make zines for this long, or that I would turn into a Real Life Adult, so there you go. I also just feel like it’s time for a fresh start. I’m gonna make the last issue of Culture Slut soon, then start a new series. Get better at writing. Focus more on the distro. Live life more intentionally.

I’ve been sober for six months. Two weeks ago marked six months of sobriety for me. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking since I was seventeen years old (I’ll be twenty-seven in October, if you’re keeping track). I’m not entirely sure what to say about it, but I’m fucking proud of myself and I wanna tell everyone. Most of the time it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult. I’ve written a bit about it here, here, here, and here. I never wake up with a hangover, and I never wake up with regrets. I have friends who have never even seen me drunk! And because I don’t have alcohol to help me along in social situations, I’ve been doing things like signing up for karaoke and volunteering for kissing booths in order to get over my shyness. Indeed, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to Make Things Happen and I’m fucking doin’ it!

I got accepted to the Roberts Street Social Centre zine residency. Fuck yeah!!! I’ll be spending the last two weeks of July in Halifax, Nova Scotia – makin’ zines, makin’ friends, and having the Best Summer Ever. Then I’m gonna go to Sappyfest in Sackville, New Brunswick. Let’s hang out! I’m so incredibly stoked to be spending my summertime on the East Coast.

I’m tabling at the anarchist bookfair. The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair is happening May 19th – 20th (Facebook event here). Please come!

Getting back to real life. I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I got back from my visits to NYC and Chicago. I had an absolute blast and am already anticipating next year’s adventures. Since then, I’ve mostly been hangin’ with friends, riding my bike, dumpstering lots, planning the Fight Boredom Zine Residency, bla bla bla. In case you wonder why I don’t update my blog anymore, the short version is that I’m scared of becoming an Internet Persona instead of a Real Life Person, and I’m too busy living the punk rock dream to spend my time in front of the computer anyway. Hey, check out the video below, it’s full of zinester babes from the 2012 Chicago Zine Fest. My silly face makes an appearance at 2:25. Happy Sunday!

Fight Boredom Zine Residency 2012

Hello readers! I’ve been working on a new project. Inspired by the zine residency at the Roberts Street Social Centre in Halifax, I’ve decided to create my own right here in Montréal. I’ll be accepting three residents this year – likely in the months of June, August and September. Dates are negotiable, as is the possibility of travel funds. Basically, you’ll be living with me for two weeks and makin’ a zine! At the end of your stay, we’ll throw a rad event together. Details are posted below, as well as at this page. Just copy and paste the info, and send it to me either in a Word file, or in the body of an email. Deadline for applications is May 1st, 2012. If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment.

My bedroom wall, with some of my favourite zines.

FIGHT BOREDOM ZINE RESIDENCY (Deadline for applications: May 1st 2012)

About The Residency: The Fight Boredom Zine Residency was inspired by and modelled after the zine residency that takes place at the Roberts Street Social Centre / Anchor Archive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. After years of traveling to various cities for zinefests and the like, I want to invite far-away zinesters to explore and create in my home base of Montréal, Québec.

How It Works: For two weeks, you will find yourself living at the Tulip Farm in beautiful Montréal, Québec. This is not a farm, but in fact an adorable two-bedroom apartment in the heart of St-Henri. You will be provided with a pullout couch, bedding, a small guide to gettin’ around and livin’ on the cheap in the city, plus a whole lotta zine supplies (I have basic craft supplies like paper, scissors and glue, as well as numerous typewriters). You’re encouraged to bring anything you feel you may need. Although we may be able to provide you with a small stipend for travel costs, you will be responsible for things like meals and public transportation – but don’t worry, we like to share food and we can probably find an extra bike. [Edit to add: Funding has been confirmed and will amount to $500 per participant, to be put toward travel costs, zine supplies and the final launch party. Receipts must be saved, and any remaining funds will be donated the to the Ste-Émilie Skillshare. Thank you very much to the Union for Gender Empowerment!]

You’ll be living with Amber Dearest, author of Culture Slut and proprietor of Fight Boredom Distro – a pink-haired weirdo who loves picnics, karaoke and scathing critiques of the world around her, as well as Stefanie Canadia, a longtime zinester and artist, who loves animals and is punk as fuck. It’s a veggie household and we’d prefer to keep meat outta here. While neither of us consumes alcohol, you’re welcome to – just don’t be a jerk. Also, you cannot smoke in here! That’s gross.

During these two weeks, you’ll be working on your project with the goal of finishing it on time for a launch party. But, we want you to get out and have fun, too! We’ll show you around the city and make sure you feel comfortable, plus you’ll have access to the Ste-Émilie Skillshare, which is only a five-minute walk away from the Tulip Farm and includes a screenprinting studio, a black-and-white darkroom, sewing machines, craft supplies and a workshop / gallery space. Other nearby goodies include a grocery store, a post office, a basement venue, parks, the Lachine Canal, the Atwater Market, and a 24-hour diner with the best, cheapest, and greasiest fries in the city.

Please note: The Tulip Farm and the Ste-Émilie Skillshare are both located in second-floor apartments and are, regrettably, not wheelchair accessible. There is a friendly cat named Sebastian who lives at the Tulip Farm, so you will ideally not have allergies. There are nearby train tracks, and while we love the sound (and imagined adventures!) of trains passing by, you may not. The Tulip Farm is only a two-minute walk from the metro, which means the rest of the city is basically at your fingertips. Please read the Ste-Émilie Skillshare’s mandate here and Fight Boredom Distro’s submission guidelines here. Feel free to send any questions our way.

In a few sentences, please tell us about the project you’d like to work on during your stay.

Can you give us a brief timeline of your project? What would you like to accomplish during your stay? What is the goal of your project? How do you imagine the finished project? Feel free to include as many details as you’d like.

In the end, we’d like for you to host a launch party for your project, and / or a skillshare / workshop. Please tell us about some ideas and themes you might have for the final event.

Tell us about projects that you’ve worked on in the past. This can include zines, crafts, volunteer efforts, activist organizing, et cetera. Feel free to include your bio here.

What attracted you to the Fight Boredom Zine Residency?

How does your project fall within the Ste-Émilie Skillshare’s mandate, and within Fight Boredom Distro’s submission guidelines?

Residencies happen during two-week blocks in June, August, and September. Are there any particular dates that you’d prefer, or would you rather we choose? We’re flexible.

Amber Dearest / Fight Boredom Distro
344 rue St-Ferdinand
Montréal, Québec
H4C 2S8 Canada
amber.norrean @ gmail.com

Fight Boredom Distro Is Back!

After three weeks of traveling, and tabling at both the NYC Feminist Zinefest and the Chicago Zine Fest, I’m finally home. I’ve added a whole lotta zines to the catalogue, and there are even more on the way. Please click the ‘News’ tab above for all kinds of updates, including a list of events that I’ll be tabling at over the coming months.

Maranda Elizabeth (Telegram), myself, and Bri (Motor City Kitty). Photo by Meredith Wallace. Chicago Zine Fest forever!

I’ve just added All I Want Is Everything #3, Motor City Kitty #17-18, All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues, Reimagining Queer Community: A Perzine, Not ‘Queer’ As In ‘Radical’ But ‘Lesbian’ As In Fuck You, So This Is What It’s Come To…: A Zine About The Trials And Tribulations Of OkCupid and Mend My Dress: Collected Zines 2005-2007 to the catalogue.

Restocks include Bananarchy Now!, Pinch Kid #1, Get Fit For The Pit #1 and Telegram #22.

Zines soon to be added include Show & Tell #6 – #9, Doris #29, Real Life: A Magical Guide To Getting Off The Internet, Telegram #24-25, Echo Echo #9, Ker-Bloom, Unicornzine and FIT: A Zine About Sports, Fatness, Feminism & Disability. For more information on how to submit your own zine for distro consideration, click on the ‘Submit Your Zines’ tab above. Alongside the usual, I’m especially interested in zines about quitting drinking, zines about sex work, zines about living on the cheap, perzines that make you feel hopeful, and zines that were created in Canada or Québec, written in both English and French. Please send recommendations my way!