Monday, July 25, 2005

Hillside takes over Guelph

Howard and I split up this weekend, and he scouted out Hillside, Guelph's big summer music festival while I gritted my teeth and did various other things.

The jerk didn't tell me he had tickets to Hillside. He had been holding them for a whole month without unzipping his lip. Then he says something about a visitor coming from Portugal, and them going for a "recreational outing to the waterside." I imagined Howard with a makeshift raft and some extravagant costume like that of a gondola driver, but no, he snuck his way into the mainstream.

I was dying to see Arcade Fire from Montreal, Buck 65 from the east coast, the local singer/songwriter Nate Coles (who I see every Sunday because he hosts open mic at the Jimmy Jazz), just to name a few, but Howard kept it quiet and took his Pamphilia instead of me.

I didn't get tickets myself (it would be naive to think I depend on Howard) because for the first time in its 22 year history, Hillside was completely sold out!!

Hillside started long ago as a folky summer jamboree at Riverside park, out was then relocated to the man-made island, and has now grown into a huge event, featuring big name bands, spoken word, offering workshops, native cultural ceremonies and great food. It operates with the help of over 1000 volunteers. As part of its initiative to encourage environmental friendliness, the audio equipment was powered by wind energy, compliments of Selectpower, an offshoot of the local hydro company, who put 575 kilowatts, or enough juice to power a house for several weeks into the grid. (Guelph Mercury, A1, 07/22/05)

I got Howard to tell me a bit about the event, but I'll give you just a few bits of it:

"The bands and I go back to the days when I was a bureaucrat in Guelph, and the general atmosphere of Guelph hippies is surprisingly delightful. I will not mention a certain percussionist who once shared a portion of my cubicle on occasion before we both made a more glorious name for ourselves than paper-pushers. He is now a rockstar, I am Howard. My Pamphy loved an occasion to swim, and she has gotten over her inhibitions about Canadian climates, although she insists the lake was woman-made. I indulged her with my pottery after learning some useful lessons in a tent, and I felt especially tuned in to my artistic abilities after being spiritually cleansed of my negative energy via the ritual act of smudging, whereby a participant willingly allows him or herself to be fanned with the finest aromatic smokes."

Several of my friends went, volunteered, supplied equipment, or stressed themselves out over whether or not everything would be coordinated, parking space was ample, or whether security was tight enough. It is a collaborative event, and although I didn't go, I could listen to part of the show on University of Guelph's radio station 93.3fm.

Last year I didn't camp in a tent for the weekend as many do, but I got the chance to see Metric, Cuff the Duke, Barmitzva Brothers and other bands ranging from folk to bangra music. This weekend, there were many tourists within Guelph. For many of those who have gone to Guelph for school in the past or have been a part of the festival, it is their annual pilgrimage.

My Weekend in Toronto, Guelph and Kitchener
I on the other hand, went to see my friend Richard play music at Wimbleys in Toronto on Friday night. It was a small pub filled with aquaintances of him, which made it comfy. Since he didn't want to start right away, he invited me to play a few tunes, so I gladly sang some Radiohead, and a couple of my originals. He then gave us a good dose of Neil Young, Richard Laviola (him) and even a song by Nate Coles (when you hear someone play tunes that you haven't heard on the radio or HMV, you know they're good). Richard has a loud, expressive voice and really gets into his music, which makes it all the better.

I saw two. The first was "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" [Im Toten Winkel] a documentary worth seeing by anyone, about Hitler.

Blindspot: Hitler's Secretary
It has won awards as the best documentary and consists of interviews with Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary. It shows her mentally degenerating under the mental trauma and regret she feels for being a part of the biggest genocide in documented history. She says that it was curiosity and utter foolishness that got her to accept the job as a typist when she was only 22. She came from a poor family with no real father, and for her, he supplied the sense of security (albeit false) that she lacked.

There were heartbreaking anecdotes about the polite, private Hitler who poisoned the only living thing he showed intimacy towards, his dog Blondie, and the horrors and apathy that ensued in the bunker, including weddings held to the music of artillery, betrayal, ordered shootings, and meetings held to brainstorm ways to kill themselves as to not fall into enemy hands alive.

The film has been criticized for coming off as too sympathetic to someone generally regarded as a monster, however, what seems correct about him was that he was totally disconnected from reality. His ideals and his lack of consideration for individuals, his hatred of Jews merely on the grounds of them supposedly stinking, and his awkwardness about being touched were all characteristics of his personal and political self that came out in incredibly destructive ways. In person he was apparently considerate, speaking with an Austrian accent, not with the aggressive shouting and hochdeutsch rolling "r's" and clipped words that he used in his rallying speeches.

She was the one who wrote these speeches and hoped to get at least a partial justification for what he had done from him, but he shot himself because he could not bear the thought of existing under communism, and believed the German people had let him down and that socialism was dead.

Willy Wonka
Nancy and her daughter Heather, both of whom I met through Stream of Consciousness, took me to see Willy Wonka, the fantastical and sometimes darkly humored children's story remade and delivered to us from Tim Burton, from the 70's version of the movie, itself based on British author Roahl Dahl's book, Charlie and Chocolate Factory.

It made me absolutely gooshy! Although I worried that actors like Johnny Depp had the potential to shine so bright they blinded the brilliance of the original story, instead he brought a wonderfully eccentric new character to Willy Wonka, the chocolatier. The sets were derelict and strangely gorgeous, the dialogue witty, the children diverse and bratty (except for Charlie Bucket) and the actors were mostly British, giving it that Brit flavour.

The way they expressed the plot exposed it as a story about many things, but notably, about the fine line between children's innocence and their corruption. It was about families and their function within a child's life as guidance, and about the humourous and terrible things that can happen when you think you're a smarty-pants in someone else's factory.

I say go see it.

The Last Few Moments of the Weekend before Long Weekend
Last night I didn't know whether Nate Coles would be back from Hillside or not for his weekly stint at the open stage, but it turned out he wasn't. Anyway, I managed to kick the snot out of Steve at a pool game. (yeah, I know Steve, I did technically lose when I sunk that eight ball, but you were foolish enough to bend the rules so that your seven became the eight and I went on to smash you). Now I'm tired out though and it's still so hot, so I won't talk about the other news that went on this weekend in international events including the rising death toll in and around Toronto because of the heat, the most recent attacks in Cairo that killed almost as many as the London bombings, or the ridiculous attempts of local politicians to limit the height of resident's plants and their reactionary outrage. No, now I will drink lots of water, and get me to sleep.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! I was at Wimbleys too! You must not have recognized me! JK JK....I was in WHITBY...but I did head over to the jazz festival Sunday for a while....after the rain subsided, that is. HAD A LOVELY TIME.....just brilliant.

10:44 p.m.  
Blogger Lorena said...

sounds like you had a busy weekend despite not going to the fest.
both those films sound interesting. i wasn't thinking of going to see the willy wonka film but now maybe i will.

10:37 a.m.  
Blogger joe said...

the hitler secretary movie was pretty interesting. now i'm going to see that willy movie. :)

8:33 p.m.  
Blogger joe said...

oh, and sucked to miss arcade fire.

8:34 p.m.  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

Seriously guys, that Willy Wonka movie was very heart warming and funny. The virtue of Charlie Bucket compared to the greediness of the other children made him such an important hero for me in this world and time full of avarice. The Oompaloompa's were done so well (there's a little trick that I can't tell you) that I was very very amused.

5:55 p.m.  
Blogger thecoolestblog said...

Cool blog and cool message

8:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Laurie Gough said...

Faith, your writing is excellent and since I'm a writer myself, I appreciate and take notice of quality writing. Please let me correct you on two things. Roald Dahl WAS NOT Canadian. He was a British writer, born in Wales. And this one is just minor, but Hillside didn't begin on the island at Guelph Lake, but at Riverside Park in Guelph. I was there from the beginning and I must say that although I love that it has maintained its integrity all these years, I liked it so much better when it wasn't teeming with people and line-ups.
Thanks, Faith!
Laurie Gough

2:59 p.m.  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

Laurie, thank you so much for pointing out those few things to me. I get mixed up sometimes. Now that I think of it it seems quite ridiculous that I could consider Rahl Dahl a Canadian. Willy Wonka's factory would never be found in Winnipeg. I suppose it was wishful thinking on my part.

Nice to have a writer-reader who has experienced Hillside and it's roots first hand.

3:41 p.m.  
Anonymous Buddy Tremaine said...

I found this site by a google search for richie laviola. I was wondering (hoping)it might be the same friend I had in high school. We played guitar toghether for a while and lost touch years ago. He was a huge Neil Young fan and wrote his own music also. Your description of the show at Wimbley's sounded an awful lot like the Rich I used to know. He was a teenager in Queens,NY,USA and had disticntive mole on his neck. Must be about 49-50 now (I'm sure a young fifty). If this is the same guy, I'd love to get back in touch with him. Any response would be greatly appreciated. My email is Thank you, Buddy Tremaine.

11:32 a.m.  

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