Le Weekend, Zine Publishing

:: I returned from Calgary this morning, having attended bits of two days of the Blues and Roots Festival. Los Lobos, Richard Thompson and Solomon Burke were the acts I caught, all exceptional performances. Los Lobos rocks with the best, and began their set by inviting fans down from the stands in Burns Stadium (a baseball diamond) and onto the grass, right up to the stage. It made sense. They played with energy and conviction, and with smiles on their faces – they had fun. They closed with a great version of Mas Y Mas, and encored with a blistering take on Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl, a song which they may have now co-opted as their own. Thompson’s songs are powerful, and he weaves magic on his guitar. He performed one of his signature pieces, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, leaving me almost breathless as he played a solo that featured twists, turns and surprises not heard on the recording. Burke, the King of Rock ‘n’ Soul, surrounds himself with a great band, and is in true love with the audience – he hands out red roses to dozens of women while he sings, and each show ends as a big on-stage love-in. I learned from his harpist, Julia Cunningham, that their previous gig, in Beirut last Tuesday, was a great success. However, they were 35 hours in transit, arriving in Calgary on Friday quite exhausted, and without their luggage or instruments! Nonetheless, they played a great show for the last stop on their current tour.

:: I saw Dirty Pretty Things today, an exceptional new thriller from Stephen Frears, director of films including Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity, The Snapper, and the tv version of Fail Safe, broadcast live on US television in 2000. The movie explores the ethical and moral dilemmas faced by a Nigerian illegal alien living in London, when he learns that the hotel in which he works is being used for the harvesting of human organs in exchange for fake passports and safe haven in the UK. Trained as a doctor in Africa, he is on the run from Nigeria, and cannot practice medicine in the UK. Instead, he drives a car for hire, and works the front desk night shift at The Baltic Hotel. The movie finds time to develop a gentle but powerful love story that does not detract from the central concerns of the story. Highly recommended, featuring great performances from Audrey Tautou (Amélie), Sergi López, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

:: I published my first fanzine in 1969. I can’t remember why, other than it seemed like the thing to do when I was 15 and interested in sf. I published again in the mid-1970s, with a little more fervor and enthusiasm at the time, burning out in 1978 or so. In the meantime (and maybe before), the word “zine” has been, well, co-opted by the online community as if the term either always belonged to them, or originated with them. Neither is true, of course, the term and the activity having originated in sf fandom in the 1930s.

My good friend Robert Runté recently weighed in on topic of zines, with “Why Publish? A Sociological Analysis of Motivation in Youth Avocational Subcultures“, featured in Broken Pencil, “the magazine of zine culture and the independent arts.” Yes, Robert has a blog, too.

:: Aww, geez. Fox lost its lawsuit against Al Franken. Well, DUH.

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