Total Betty, Photobooths, and No Zines

It’s been a full two years since I retired from Fight Boredom Distro, and I still don’t regret it. But I’ve kept paying for this domain (a very, very small amount of money tbh) in case I ever wanna use it for something else one day, so I may as well write a little update about my life. When I first decided to quit, I was worried that I’d feel lost without a creative (or collaborative) project to work on – but then I started a band! We’re called Total Betty and we just put out our second EP, which you can listen to here. I’ve been describing it as fun & funny post-punk songs about anxiety, insomnia, seasonal depression, ⁓classic⁓ depression, internalized misogyny, and junk food. Our EP release show was maybe the most fun show we’ve ever played, and by some stroke of luck, a few university radio stations have been playing our songs, too!

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Total Betty EP release show flier, made by Amber Dearest

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Le Lendemain by Total Betty, on cassette, artwork by Cee Lavery

Earlier in the year, I was interviewed by CBC’s Julia Caron about my love of analog photobooths, and she recorded on location at the very last analog photobooth in Montreal’s metro system, at Place-des-Arts (alongside Meags Fitzgerald, who is a photobooth artist among many other trades, and made the excellent graphic novel Photobooth: A Biography; and Jeff Grostern, president of Auto Photo, which owns and operates most of the remaining photobooths in Canada). You can read the resulting piece called iPhones Killed The Photobooth here, and listen to the radio version, The Last Photobooth in Québec, here (just scroll down to May 15th, 2019).

For those who are wondering, the booth at Place-des-Arts is apparently supposed to be gone by the end of the year (really really this time), and there remains one functional analog booth in the city, at North Star Machines à Piastres (slightly modified, since the iconic photo strips we’ve come to know and love are no longer manufactured). My original, and now extremely outdated map, can be viewed here.

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Feel Trip flier, by Myer Mendelson

Zine-wise, I have been very quiet, but I did participate in this semi-secret mountainside reading early in the summer, which started me feeling a tiny bit excited about writing again. Otherwise, my life has been: weekly band practice, volunteering at a food bank, therapy, karaoke, going to shows, making kombucha, vermicomposting, tending to my tiny garden, reading many books, and making a small paper newsletter to mail to friends. I would really like to start a second band and to learn how to drive, but those plans are in their baby beginnings right now.

Fight Boredom Distro Is Now Closed

IMG_9885Thank you to everyone who supported my distro since 2009 – by ordering zines, visiting my table at countless zinefests, sharing links, submitting your own zines, etc etc. I’ve been making zines for fifteen years and I’ll (slowly) keep makin’ ’em, but as often happens, my zine distro turned from an exciting project and a way to make friends and share great writing, into something else – an obligation, a money pit, a set of frustrations, a series of re-runs. Somewhere along the line, it stopped being fun, so I’ve decided to focus on other things instead.

What remained in stock is now available at the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore, alongside a million excellent books and zines and stationery and trinkets. All zines are three dollars or under. My website will remain as a bit of an archive and a place to order my own creations. Maybe one day I’ll turn it into something else, but I don’t even have a functional laptop right now so…

I’ve got a couple of projects in the works, including an updated map of Montreal photobooths and a zine about my life as a professional lab rat, plus I’m singing in a weirdo-uncategorizable band called Total Betty, alongside some of my best friends.

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out some of my favourite zine distros, like Stranger Danger, Brown Recluse, and Take Care, as well as the work of my identical twin and favourite writer, Maranda Elizabeth. They’re currently fundraising to publish their second novel, We Are The Weirdos, featuring artwork by illustrator extraordinaire & Total Betty violinist, Cee Lavery. This is a great way to support them and pre-order the book (I helped to proofread it, so I know it’s a good one hehe). Click this link to read about We Are The Weirdos, and their practices in general.

“In this work of experimental fiction and magic realism, Maranda Elizabeth writes a vulnerable tale of perpetually misunderstood and powerless teenagers in a small town. We Are the Weirdos is an exploration of trauma, gender, poverty, invalidation, and memory, as well as themes of trust, abandonment, confinement, and revenge. The characters encounter one another, as well as authority figures and ghosts, at home and through institutions: school, court cells, a detention centre, and a group home, dreaming of magic and escape.”

Make OUT – Winter DIY Art Market, Saturday February 18th

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This coming Saturday, I’ll be tabling from 11am-5pm at Casa del Popolo (4848 St-Laurent) with my distro. I’ll have the usuals with me, plus a bunch of zines that I haven’t yet had the chance to list online, including Unkissed, On Trans Masculinity, Cultural Appropriation in Spirituality, Home Body, Herb Support For Top Surgery, Abstract Door #6, and more. The list of tablers is basically a list of some of my favourite people in Montreal!

From the Facebook event page: Love your art dealer. Rad craft fair to fill your empty walls and empty hearts in the winter storm. Healing centric, soothe the soul type of stuff. Browse many different creative offerings from artwork to homemade tea blends, jewelry, rad prints and zines!

♡ About OUT ♡

as in letting it all hang…
as in standing…
as in out of the blue
as in going all-out
as in airing it out
as in catharsis
as in fuck winter
as in queer
as in intersectional

Out is being launched in the dead of winter 2017 by two friends who share a studio and a love for vulnerability and healing through the intersection of culture and community. We are a group dedicated the visibility of artistic expressions of realness. We believe art has the power to dismantle the white hetero-capitalist dichotomy of healing, emotional expression and survival.

Queer Between The Covers 2016!

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Montreal’s 9th annual queer bookfair is only two weeks away and I’ll be tabling yet again! You may have noticed that I haven’t been particularly active with my distro this year – it’s kinda because I’m broke and depressed and kinda because I’ve been working on other projects that are more exciting for me. At the end of the summer, I will very likely be putting Fight Boredom Distro on hiatus until I can round up the funds for new stock, and find a way to make this thing fun for me again. So this might be your last chance to pick up some zines from me, for a while anyway! I’ll have the first two issues of my zine Critical Breakfast, the latest issues of Telegram by Maranda Elizabeth (not yet listed online!), and some of my faves.

There is a Facebook event here, a list of tablers here, and accessibility info here. See you soon!

Montreal Photobooth Map – 2017 Update

Updated as of October 27th, 2017. I’ve done some more exploring and I’ve made a few phone calls and I’ve got all the current info on analog photobooths, which sadly, will likely be gone by the end of the year. The only analog photobooth left in the Montreal metro system is at Place-des-Arts. Last I went was on October 16th, to celebrate my 32nd birthday. The machine flashed and made its usual sounds, but after fifteen minutes of waiting for what should have taken three minutes, I left without my strip. The next day, I phoned the service number in the machine and the operator confirmed that the booth had been repaired late that night, and that my pictures were found trapped in the machine – they kindly mailed my mangled photos to my apartment (pictured below). So nice of them! Several friends have used the photobooth since, and confirmed that it is finicky.

There is an analog booth at Centre Wilderton (2615-2865 av. Van Horne) and there are two in Laval; one at Centre Laval (1600 boul. Le Corbusier) and Centre Duvernay (3100 boul. de la Concorde est – though I’m told it’s being taken away next week).

There is also an analog photobooth at North Star Machines à Piastres (3908 St-Laurent), which prints a slightly wider strip, and takes tokens, available at the bar. Have fun!

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Originally written in February 2016. Every year, I do a Fun-A-Day project to pass the time and have something to look forward to during the winter. For 2016, I decided to track as many photobooths in Montreal as I could – which turned into a bigger project of visiting every metro station in the city, and poking around malls in the early mornings before there’s much of a crowd. In the end, I tracked the remaining analog booths (which are rapidly disappearing – at least three gone in the months before I began the project), and the various digital booths that exist. The latest issue of Critical Breakfast is a tiny little zine about my love of photobooths, and about winter survival in general, and contains a fold-out map of the Montreal metro system that shows every photobooth I found, a list of books I read while riding the metro, and a few fun resources. Recommended if you live in Montreal, or are planning on visiting. 

If you’re local, I’ll also trade for your own zine, a mixtape, or a non-alcoholic drink.

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Critical Breakfast #1 / Telegram #38 & A Winter Solstice Update

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Back in October, my twin and I made a split zine together! Telegram #38 by Maranda Elizabeth is about their Return of Saturn and turning thirty, learning how to interpret their birth chart, astrology as a method of self-exploration & healing, reconnecting with their past selves and memories of being a teenage witch, practicing Tarot in daily life, lost time, friendship & jealousy, fragmentation, learning how to love themself, and recovery with trauma and chronic pain. My half, Critical Breakfast #1 is about my Saturn return, synchronicity, a bad landlord, working as a lab rat, sobriety, learning to build self-confidence, and an auspicious Tarot reading. It’s available for $3.00 plus postage, and order instructions are posted here.

As well as back issues of Telegram, Maranda is also offering Tarot readings via their Etsy shop.

In other news, Zine Nation recently posted an interview with me – it’s about running a distro, some of my favourite zine fairs, what I’ve been reading lately, and a little bit about money and keeping zines financially accessible.  I also just registered for a table at the Ottawa Zine Fair, which is taking place in late-May of 2016.

The catalogue isn’t entirely up to date (I guess it never really is), but I’ve added a lot of new stock, including perzine La Bola de Cristal,  comp zine Masculinities (compiled by Cindy Crabb of Doris and Filling The Void), and Fashion Zine: Coming Out Of The Closet, a really cool zine whose simple title does not say enough about how absolutely perfect Estelle’s writing is. In short, it’s a zine about femme fashion and about coming out as a trans woman, with writing that is powerful and funny and maybe even sometimes leans into the surreal. I’m going to excerpt from the intro here, because she articulates why fashion is so important:

“Maybe I wanted to try and make some really bad jokes in this introduction as an attempt to point to some of the ways that writing a zine about fashion immediately makes me feel bad, ha. There is this general idea that fashion is vapid and vain, or, at its worst, that it is little more than a leisurely pursuit for rich people. To talk about fashion or dress in a crowd often elicits serious groans as if the subject has no political or cultural implications whatsoever. As if fashion somehow exists in a bubble separate from our social world. As if it is not constructed, valued, and informed by the very same power structures which influence all other aspects of our lives. As if nothing is at stake when we speak about fashion or when we dress ourselves. As if it is not a site of both oppression and resistance. As if fashion has nothing to say about bodies, race, gender, sexuality, disability, desirability, or class. As if it has no personal merit. As if one person’s experience wearing clothes is translatable or universal. As if it is not incredibly important to everyone whether you care about fashion trends or not.”

It may not feel like it, but from tomorrow onward, the days are getting longer again. Happy winter solstice, everyone! Light a candle and set your intentions for the year ahead.

 

Expozine 2015, All Weekend Long!

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It’s that time of the year! I’ll be at Expozine all weekend long. You can find me in the basement of Église St-Enfant-Jésus at 5035 rue St-Dominique from 12-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Facebook event here. I’ve got copies of my new zine Critical Breakfast (split with Telegram #38) and all kindsa new stock, including stuff I haven’t had a chance to list online yet.

I would suggest reading this post on CultMTL for a breakdown of the conversation about accessibility that took place online over the last few days. If you decide to scroll through the comments, consider this your content warning for ableism and transmisogyny. I’d also recommend checking out this open letter demanding an accessible venue for Expozine next year. The organizers keep insisting that the issue of accessibility never came up until last year. I know this isn’t true because I have emails from 2010 where I asked the same question, and there is no way I was the first or only one to ask. Like I said to my friends, I see events like the queer bookfair and anarchist bookfair (which have greater accessibility and safer spaces policies) as kind of an alternative to Expozine, but for me personally, I want to be present in all of those worlds. People are often very happy to find my table because most of the zines are $1-$3, because they are hella queer, because there are perzines and political zines, etc. I distribute some writing specifically on accessibility in public spaces and to me it doesn’t make sense to boycott the event when I have the privilege (cis and able-bodied, for example) of being present with those words. I agree that the organizers’ response this year is particularly shameful. Frankly, the sales that I make at Expozine keep my distro running for another few months until the next fair. I’ll be tabling (for the eighth year in a row). And I support all actions in protest of their lack of accessibility – tabling outside, petitioning, what-have-you (remember the action at the anarchist bookfair last May in regards to their safer spaces policy?). And I’m looking forward to talking about it with my friends.