Friday, June 30, 2006

My Affair with the City, My Affair with Mitzi's Sister

Good Afternoon! Or should I say good morning? *It is now 3:15pm, and the northern bear groggily rises after his ritual catch-up sleep from working the night-shift*

Back at the front desk again today after a little holiday to my favorite city: the "T dot Oh", which I went to for the cheif purpose of checking out some open stage action.

City Hall Posted by Picasa

The first day my plans fell through. I had heard of a place called Oasis on the corner of Robert and College, which is no more. So instead, I met my friend the Zonne, who cheered me up about the prospects of being happy despite not having taken over the world with her pleasant smile and good words. I found some pieces of wire on the sidewalk and weaved what I called a "chain-link of hope" which I attached to the fence while she ate some pizza in the great outdoors. I also had a good discussion with the cook from Massimo's about the poor state of music these days. He like it when the rock gods like Jimi Hendrix were wailing away on the guitar...but now too much of music is recycled garbage and Canadian Idol.

So my artsy theme was starting to work out and the adventure was just beginning. Despite the several million people Toronto is home to, it has a strange cosmic feature which allows you to encounter people you know on every corner. The Zonne and I went to a book store and perused then off to a patio on a roof in a place called Poppers. The one person I ran into on the staircase, of all places, was Mega, a girl I knew in high school, so I met her man, introduced them to my crew, and we talked about Life, the Universe and Everything

A good night is always complimented by a soft couch, and the one at the Zonne's was perfect for surfing. Her cat softly nuzzled against my hand to wake me up in the morning and I was off again to wander through Kensington market, China town and all around. I walked down to the business sector to meet Mitzee and Jason for a coffee at Straybucks and on my way I caught some Torontonian character: someone had removed the "Ade" from the "Adelaide" street sign, so it just said "laide". I wondered if it was a recent statement left behind from the queer folks during Pride. I also said hi to local street hero, Zanta, who was flexing muscles at the corner of University and Queen. He said "I'll be back next week!" I'm sure he will.

Zanta Posted by Picasa

To nourish my wandering carcass, I got some street meat and topped it with a lot of sauer kraut, mustard and HP. I didn't care that I was eating eyes and lips -this was authentic! During business hours, mostly everyone I knew from the city was working like people are wont to do, so I tooled around con solo and chanced upon this, a Billy Talent concert held outdoors (they are a great Canadian band) at the headquarters of CityTV/Muchmusic. They are on a cross-Canada tour, scheduled to hit Vancouver tomorrow.

Devon Soltendieck, the Muchmusic VJ was asking them lots of questions which I listened to from across the street, and through the din of passing street cars and patrolling officers. He asked questions like whether they ever got to an age where they just felt comfortable, whether people had tried to get them to sell out or coordinate their costumes for marketing purposes. In a way, these seemed superficial questions coming from the boyish meterosexual but the VJ is very good at his job. I would have hated being singer Ben Kowalewicz, who navigated most of the interview. Some questions seemed hard enough or just silly. Then again, they were coming from a young audience. If I were in the band's position, I might have simply said "next" to some of them. Questions like: "What's your top three albums of all time?" and "What's your favorite Kevin Bacon movie?" but then I'm not a rock star. Not yet.

It started raining, which the band says is in line with the "black cloud" that's been following them throughout their whole rise to fame and delivery of their second album. They talked about growing up from a bunch of "awkward little fella[s]" and gave a tribute to the crowd, who was now getting soaked, playing "Standing in the Rain". As for me, there are certain things like a compass and an umbrella that I don't go to Toronto without, so I stood dry.

I got what I came for my last night there. Finally, I will admit that the title of this post has nothing to do with me imposing or hitting on any of Mitzee's relatives. This is spelled "Mitzi". My fine friend Martino Febreeze introduced me to Mitzi's Sister, a small club with an intimate crowd and an eloquent host, Jack Breakfast, offering open stage on Wednesday nights. He is a very entertaining host -a man who knows how to talk AND sing. At first the sound system was amok, so he talked at length, telling us silly stories and entertaining us completely while the amateur crew figured out what the hell was going on.

The ensuing line-up was killer. First there was Mr. Breakfast himself, who played a few nice diddies on the piano and sang along. They were soft and sweet melodies full of broken-hearted warmth...or perhaps furtive sang-froid. Either way, the music and words were a finely crafted paradox of wonderful ingredients. Later, all the way from Boston was an innovative cellist who played her instrument sideways, held up with a strap, kind of like a guitar. Lindsay Mac is an accomplished musician who studied at Berkley and even opened for KD Lang. I have to agree with the reviews on her site that she is "avantguard". She broke out into some ripping hard-stroked chords which resonated like a stand-up bass due to the low pick-ups being most prominent. Her clever lyrics, bordering on risqué and folky voice put her in the category of Ani Difranco...but better. She later told her engineer to adjust the settings before playing a song about her experience touring on a busline in Boston called the Peter Pan. Her stories, wit and radiance were a much-appreciated element of the evening.

So after such a night, we stood outside and talked music -Martino Febreeze, 90.1FM Jazz host Reiner, Lindsay Mac and myself. The heavy rains from that day resulted in the small intimate crowd that was there, which was perfect for my first performance at an open stage in Toronto. I slept it off, had some corn-pops and watched TV with Febreeze, then took a street car back downtown while listening to some stellar thunder claps and watching the puddles splash pedestrians as the cars went by. The sound of the crashing thunder reminded me of Toronto's gun violence problem, which has been brewing for the past two years. I felt lucky for being able to play music and dodge a bullet at the same time especially when I heard that a friend of mine was playing a show last week when the bar had to be shut down due to a shoot-out on Spadina.

Anyway, then last night I was secured safely again behind front desk. Da-dee-da-dum! In my energy-drained stupor, the world looked a strange place. I'll leave you with some randomn motel observations to give you a sense of how warped your mind can get when no one is looking:

-Turning the sprinkler system on is like shooting a gun except that the trigger is a knob and the bullets are made of water

-Lining up all the miniature peanut butter and jam portions so that the brand label is right-side up in the dispenser makes the bears on the logo look coordinated and jolly

-Asking guests how their rooms were the night before may seem like a strange question but then consider that their rooms have never been theirs before...unless they are a "stay over"

-A glass pitcher of apple juice with a cylindrical ice pack plunged in its centre somehow looks disturbingly pornographic but proud nonetheless. However, its simply there to keep the juice cold.

-Bananas lying on a plate with the direction of their curves synchronized makes me think they are spooning. It's irrelevant that they have a Chiquita sticker...or is it?

If dwarves are small versions of people, are muffins dwarf versions of cake?


Personal Diegesis

3 Comments:

Blogger Prmod Bafna said...

Hmmm! good fun!! and those random hotel observations just cracked me up!! hahaha

5:35 AM  
Blogger mistipurple said...

hahaa, for a moment i thought you had some juicy news on mitzee!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

So will you back to perform again?

11:33 AM  

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