Oct 24, 2011

Canzine 2011

I had begun the usual Canzine weekend ritual the night before: watching Harry Thomason's regional horror film Encounter With the Unknown (I've watched this thing about three or four times in the past on the night before Canzine-- why break a tradition?), and again in the lineup at 10:30 AM worrying: a) whether or not my name was on the list this year; and b) where I was going to be sitting. The latter fear was especially prescient as this year's fair was at a new and different venue, 918 Bathurst Centre. However, once inside, my concerns were quickly forgotten, as the day was spent in this marvellous arts facility (formerly a Buddhist temple). Not only was I able to actually move around, but I managed to move and groove with fellow zinesters and independent publishers, and most importantly, re-connected with some old friends after having spent most of the year on my side. In short, my eleventh Canzine appearance was the first one in a long time that actually felt like fun instead of business as usual.

In addition to the three or four big rooms for people to table their wares - on the main floor and in the basement, there were also separate smaller ones downstairs in which people could also do installations. My (former?) colleagues at Trash Palace had rented the room which resembled a small class room where they spent the day showing (guess) educational films. Also, adjacent to the big room downstairs, they had an antechamber where vendors sold food and snacks- all organic, including the beer (whose brand name I've already forgotten, but do recommend). I was in the main room, with the beautiful hardwood floors and arched roof (formerly where they congregated for worship), and still had plenty of wiggle room to check things out.

The sales were okay, but I'm not hear to carp about dollars and cents. (If you ignore the number one koan in the independent world- "How much can you afford to lose?", then you're in the wrong business.) There's a greater, more volatile thing than that here-- simply, it's a livelihood. A time-worn adage in this field is "for the love and not for the money", yet this term is blind to the unconverted, who simply cannot understand why people would spend untold hours on often ephemeral, deeply personal pieces of creativity that offer little to no financial returns. Also, the unconverted often dismissively refers to all of this as "hobbyism" (a term that has always irked me). It is more than that- a state of mind, a way of life. And although I count myself among those who seeks something outside of the mainstream conventions, by the same token, I don't assume that what we do is superior to those accepted conventions. Those who seek something outside the parameters of the mainstream are simply looking for a different set of values: neither is right or wrong.

At shows like this, another adage comes forth: "Give back to the mountain what you take from it." In other words, it's up to all of us to continue to support this independent community, lest it fall apart. Whatever you can afford to give from your pocketbook to buy some books or zines to keep the machine running, all the better. Money may not be the primary reason why people contribute to the underground, but it keeps the machine running nonetheless.

Yes, I have preached similar aphorisms for most of the time in which I've had this blog, and these words may be nothing new, but since I've been away from this community for some time, they serve as a valuable reminder to myself. Despite the fun I have re-uniting with old friends and hopefully making some new allies at shows like this, actually my favourite time of all of Canzine is the "contemplative coffee" had the next morning. As I reflect upon the previous day, I am empowered by the buzz of independence and creativity, touched to be a small part of it, and realize that the values we uphold at events like this, we must continue to carry with us, and make them part of our lives the other 364 days of the year.

Love and light.

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