Jul 11, 2005

CLUES THAT THIS SCENE IS GOING TO RATSHIT, VOLUME ONE

Every spring I always look forward to attending Cut and Paste. Even though this is my least-selling venue all year, it is the most fun, as this fair features a lot of the "old guard" of the local indie / zine scene. Anyhow, much my surprise, and others' to be sure, C&P was stunningly unattended.... by the vendors!!

A whopping eight tables were filled by merchandisers, which is roughly one quarter of the usual space. Unsurprisingly, the plug was pulled on the show two hours in. However one wonders what in the hell did or didn't happen. Was it lack of promotion? Lack of interest on part of the vendors? I seriously doubt the latter, but I suspect that the word simply didn't get out to people Since it happened one month later than usual, perhaps many thought it just wasn't happening at all.

But had the day gone as planned, this afternoon may not have gone down such an interesting path. Since all the vendors huddled together in one small area, people actually began to talk to one another (which wouldn't happen in the general hubbub of a busy day at the fair)- ideas were hatched for upcoming screenings and venues, and although I basked in this vibe for a day or two, I suppose I was unsurprised when eventually nothing at all was done about it.

This I know is indicative of a lot of what goes on in the day-to-day struggle of the movers and shakers on the fringe. One moment of inspiration quickly gives way to a sea of broken promises and general apathy. I can't fault anyone for it, because I know that it is a lousy thing to be toiling to create something that people wouldn't miss if you hadn't. But however, we can't just let this happen even if this behaviour is understandable. If this scene is meant to survive at all, then we need a new handful of visionaries, or at least realists, who will work to keep independent culture alive. It is that important.

Now, you, faithful reader, may rightly ask me why I couldn't practice what I preach and do something. Well I'm trying. But there are so many hours in one day, and I sure can't do it alone. Now if ten people said that very same last sentence, perhaps if they all chipped in with 10%, something could be done. But I suspect too that a lot of movers and shakers in the underground have gotten carried away with other things in life, which is totally cool. Who can blame them? Not only is the mainstream swallowing the underground, but it is also becoming one big clique. In any event, the options which we have to display our wares get fewer and further between.

The spring edition of the Toronto Small Press Fair happened on the Saturday of the long weekend in May. It was the first small press fair in four years I did not attend-- I was out west that week anyway. Even so, I can't help but wonder what business was like during a long weekend in which one could fire a cannon down Bloor St. and not hit anyone. Now, if I'm wrong about this day- if it was well attended, please tell me so. Otherwise, I can't imagine a lot of local traffic supporting something like this on a long weekend. The "customers" we rely on are more concerned about their own lives, families and dreams than buying someone's chapbook.

But still, I can't help but notice the duality of both C&P and the small press fair- they seem to exist now because they've each become an entity, and I can't help but wonder if they happen just to happen, but without any kind of careful planning or urgency.

This scene needs new blood. Can you make a donation?

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