lundi, avril 28, 2008

I was so fat...

A few weeks ago, in between attending sports matches, I was asked to participate in a piece of choreography that would open the second night of Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week. This was amusing for two reasons: my dance career is long over, and I am far from fashionable* Nevertheless, I found myself in the Distillery District's Fermenting Building on a Thursday night surrounded by beautiful hipsters.

The hours leading up to the show became progressively more frenetic. When I arrived, there were a few sound techs on seemingly permanent smoke breaks, random dudes in skinny jeans listening to ipods, and dancers rehearsing.

Gradually the models trickled in. Through the door of the hair and make-up room drum and bass was underscored by the whine of hairdryers. Racks of plastic-sheathed garments created de facto dressing rooms. Along the back wall sat a row of stoic models - the bored centers of a cyclone of brush-wielding make-up artists.

The dancers were also subjected to the brushes.

There was a flurry of styling (both hair and clothes) and the bass got louder and the audience babble rose, and the stage manager's headset crackled constantly. The washroom was filled with nervous pee-ers and delicately painted lips were bitten.

The dancing was over in a second. I wasn't nervous so much as incredulous that I was actually performing again. Feeling my body lift and fall and be caught and spun. Glimpsing audience faces reacting to my presence, my performance. Suddenly thinking with my whole body. Breathing down to my coxis.

After, I stood in the wings watching the spectacle. I'd never been to a fashion show before,** and the progression of beplumed bodies reminded me of the elaborate marionettes sold under the bridge in Prague. In the hands of master puppeteers, the strings disappear into a blur of colour and angular limbs.

There were moments when I wondered if I'd somehow fallen through the rabbit hole into a world where gin and tonics flow like water, and everyone is well lit.

But, like the ballet, the glamour stays on the runway side. Once behind the curtains, girls break their languid gaits and scurry to the wardrobe room, shedding clothing and hairpieces with every step. Faces resume normal expressions as models gasp for breath and wince as they slip out of towering stilettos.

I had a blast.

*unless you count a wardrobe of jeans, cons, black tees and hoodies fashion.
**unless you count the one in the children's section of the Orchard Park Sears in about 1987. I rocked that runway.

vendredi, avril 25, 2008


I am eating lunch at my favourite cafe. (Actually: caffe.)

My bowl of udon soup is underscored by a plate extolling the virtues of Camembert, "creme fine de Normandie."

vendredi, avril 11, 2008

Wholesome Sunday

There was sunshine and crowds and people with brooms. There were kosher dogs with honey mustard, corn relish, and sourkraut. Peanuts in the shell, cracked open and eaten without taking our eyes off the batter. Shell dust covering my knees. Shells crunchy underfoot.

A grand slam.

A center field collision.

We actually stretched during the 7th inning stretch.* And we rated the home team's at-bat music. You can tell a lot about a guy based on his choice of at-bat music.

Baseball cards wrapped in wax paper.

Nine dollars well spent.

*I always assumed that the 7th inning stretch referred to the notoriously long 7th inning. Are 7th innings notoriously long? I have no idea.

jeudi, avril 03, 2008

Ripe with surprises

Who knew a trip to the family homestead for Easter could be so illuminating? In five short days I learned that the soundtrack to the city of beauty is a 24 hour hit list of power ballads of the early 90s, that I still have the power to shock (and deeply piss off) my Harper loving relatives, and that finding a wireless signal is akin to tracking the elusive snow leopard.

I also learned that I deeply, deeply love minor hockey.

My dear friend R had a spare ticket to game five of the series* between the Rockets and the Thunderbirds, which he kindly forked over after I repeatedly threatened to tie him to a chair and read excerpts from Naomi Klein's latest tome. R watches live hockey games a lot. I have been to two: once when I was eight and once when I was eighteen and living in Wales, birthplace of ice sports.

We found our seats seconds before the game started and had barely gotten comfortable when the Rockets scored.

The arena erupted. Everyone was yelling. Two burly, bulldogish men beside us high-fived and man-hugged. Two rows down, a permed 40ish woman had, I think, managed t jump onto her chair while holding a beer and a bag of popcorn.

Then we all sat down again. By the end of the first period we were up 2:0 and I had learned what the blue lines were for and how hockey offside differs from soccer offside.

During the first intermission R and I headed to the concession stand to get beverages. There were kids everywhere, mini people in jerseys counting out quarters for twizzlers or dodging in and out of the queues for bathrooms or beer. More kids than I have seen in one place for a really long time. (Incidentally, where do Torontonians keep their children? I live up the street from an elementary school and I rarely see any human being under four feet tall.) On the way back up to the bleachers, I watched an older brother slip an ice cube down his sister's back.

A few goals by the Thunderbirds evened out the score, and, to the apparent delight of fans, some questionable checks turned into a small brawl.

According to R, my fountain of information, hockey fights last for as long as the refs think nobody is going to be severely hurt. Obviously, this decision can lead to problems, but, as you can see, our little interlude was well supervised. Serious injury, R assured me, is rare - most fights end because one player loses his balance on an overzealous swing.

The next highlight of the evening was the zamboni run.

Zamboni technology has clearly advanced since my childhood - these things were fast.

Later, at the pub I inevitably end up in when I am "home", R and I decided that hockey was far more fun than the Shock Doctrine. Perhaps not as good as the 80s and 90s nooner, but still pretty freakin' rad.**

*If you have to ask what series this was, your ignorance of high culture appalls me.
**Yes, in the land of my childhood, all things are judged based on their relative levels of freakin' radness.

mardi, avril 01, 2008