Five Things Of Note

Five things of note, in no particular order, from our recent foray down south:

  1. If visiting a strange city you should bring your ID with you when you go drinking – after being at the table all weekend, i was really looking forward to relaxing, listening to music, and having a nice cold drink at the closing party in Baltimore… never thought to bring my passport with me – and it seems in that ity you can’t drink without having your ID on you, no matter how old you look. The evening was not a complete right-off though, we got to listen to some great music by DJ Malatesta and Drowning Dog (of Entartete Kunst) and by Son of Nun. In fact, i have to qualify: especially Son of Nun – he really seemed to send a jolt through everyone in the club with his delivery of great political verse. (and i was tickled pink to see on his site that he has one of my t-shirts)
  2. It may be the evil empire, and if there was a god of justice it might just be flattened by some roving comet, but the u.s.a. does have some pretty things in it. We spent a couple of nights in Philadelphia with friends, and i must say that is one beautiful city. Wonderful buildings, lots of trees and stuff growing all over the place. Great food too. Getting back to buildings and architecture though: i asked my very kind and accommodating host about the MOVE house that the cops bombed back in ’85… it seems the city decided that the appropriate thing to do with the place the police killed eleven people (six of them children) was… to build a police station on the site! (now where is that comet?)
  3. There is a cosmic book-buying nexus that will not be advertised on most maps, but is well worth checking out, stretching from Springfield to Greenfield in Massachusetts. Every little town has a bookstore better than any of the english ones i know of here in Montreal, often with great used sections (i walked out with a dozen titles from one store which was having a buck a book sale). And some towns (i.e Whately) seem to have more bookstores than anything else, each of which would easily be “the biggest used bookstore” where i’m from. A special mention must be made of Food For Thought books in Amherst – this is a store worth detouring to if you’re passing through the area. You wouldn’t know it from their site, but this is not simply an “independent” it’s a radical worker-owned and operated store, with a selection of new titles to rival many big city left bookstores. I picked up several titles including a book NATO’s Secret Armies about the Gladio networks which i had never seen before…
  4. It is still worth going into queer bookstores (sometimes). Over the past ten years i have witnessed the LBGT “community” embrace the “mainstream”, and it hasn’t been pleasant. Most queer community events – including the “radical” ones – leave me cold and slightly nauseous; they seemingly have only the faintest trace of the radical promise that i remember being there in the 80s and early 90s (illusions of youth?). So it was a nice surprise to go into Giovanni’s Room in Philly and see what a good and successful queer bookstore can be: lots of books about lots of different things, and even (yes!) a small but worthwhile used section…
  5. It is good to meet new people. There were lots to meet at the Mid-Atlantic Radical Bookfair in Baltimore, and i was very happy to chat with folks from all kinds of different u.s. places – though it did make me realize how bad my sense of geography was and i finally gave up on trying to place the cities on a mental map. I had many enjoyable conversations, some with people i imagine i agree with about many things, some with folks i presume to disagree with about almost everything. Definitely nice to meet new people – i certainly wish we could manage to travel more! The whole “Baltimore trip” was very worthwhile, if only for this…

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