In Montreal, vintage cigarette machines sell indie art

This battered, 50-year-old cigarette machine sells works in English and French by Montreal writers.

(Credit: Tim Hornyak/CNET)

MONTREAL–For the first time in maybe 20 years, I got a new cassette tape.

It’s a bitchin’ mix of 1970s funk tunes and it sounds delicious on my car stereo, which fortunately is old enough to be able to play it. But the best thing about this tape is that it came out of a vending machine.

Distroboto is a nonprofit network of machines in Montreal that have been retrofitted to sell works by independent artists. They spit out music, literature, and accessories, all for $2 a pop.

The network launched its 12th machine this week in a bar called Notre Dame des Quilles, a retro-hipster joint that features a mini bowling alley. The latest Distroboto is a vintage cigarette machine from the 1960s that mainly carries zines, which are self-published, small-circulation anthologies or magazines.

I plop in a toonie in the vending machine and out come two pins with designs based on the Montreal subway. They’re wrapped in newspaper and an old cigarette pack so the machine can handle them easily.

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