Saturday, January 31, 2009

The street's barfed up construction and concrete

The last few days I've been a Moody McMoodson. Not in a terrible way exactly. I feel pretty upbeat in spite of some work anxieties and uncertainty. I am now in Edmonton, visiting the fam and just hanging out.

The universe is certainly on its ass. The weather is warmer than in Toronto and it's frickin' raining so the streets are an ice rink. My usually quiet, boring suburban neighborhood has been dug up and there's loads of construction going on. I guess the city is expanding its transit system so things are all out of whack. I can't get over how much things are being dug up and how there are piles of ice, snow and pipes everywhere.

The biggest whammy of being back is seeing my friends. These are people I've known for 10+ years, and they're all grown up now. Little partying, everyone's in serious relationships, got careers on track, buying houses and cars. It freaks me out a bit to think of our past partying days and feelings of uncertainty. There was such excitement and optimism then. Now it's replaced by responsibility and routine. I guess that's what happens when you "grow up".

But I still can't help but feel incredibly guilty for having so much fun in my life. It's like I've got a larger slice of the cosmic pie of happiness and hot diggity, am I ever having fun. My life in Toronto is so different than my past life in Edmonton. It's odd to be back to revisit bits of the old me and old haunts. I can't help but feel very relieved for leaving Edmonton, and that makes me feel kind of guilty. I mean, these are my roots, yo! It's been almost two years since I've been back to Edmonton and while I'm enjoying strolling down Memory Lane, it's completely under construction. Things are familiar and they're not. It's definitely an odd feeling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Top 5 of 2008

So I'm going to post what would have been my entry to a music contest had I actually entered. I could blame the blackout last week for me missing the deadline, but really, I have no one or thing to blame but my own damn self. I'm still kicking myself for missing the cut off date, but hopefully you'll enjoy my musical ramblings.

Also, I would probably switch my #5, now that I've had some time to change my mind and say, screw Cancon! (and sorry Sari and Romy) I know the new Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion was technically released in 2009, but I feel like I need to mention this record because I've been glorifying it lately.

Otherwise #5 would be a toss-up between The Dodos' Visitor and Shugo Tokumaro's Exit.


When I found out about the contest, my immediate thought was to compare music to food. Both are integral to my life, and my choices for the top of 2008 this year are like well-prepared meals. The musicians take time and care to produce a fine album and they fill up my mind and leave me feeling incredibly satisfied after each listen. I know I'm only supposed to write something for the top album, but I felt like each one deserved a few sentences.

5) Ghost Bees - Tasseomancy is like a shot of schnapps after you've received a fright. The Halifax twins of Ghost Bees are spooky, little elfins making music that are like tales you tell around a fire. Everyone is huddled together wondering who is the next person to be collected by death. Their lyrics are fantastical tales and their voices are both creepy, sad and beautiful all at once.

4) El Guincho - Alegranza! is like a post-modern gazpacho made with crazy hot peppers and a manic chef on LSD. I love this album because it's like a uppity, ADD, Spanish Animal Collective.

3) Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago is a thick, warm, hearty stew slow-cooked over an open fire using wood you've chopped yourself. You can hear all the care that went into making this album, all the quiet reflection of the three months of isolation folk singer/songwriter Justin Vernon spent recording For Emma, Forever Ago. This album truly warms my soul.

2) Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Part One: 4th World War. Ms. Badu may be a strict vegan, but New Amerykah is definitely the soul chicken dinner of albums this year. I love the beats, samples and melodies she uses. They fit well with her smooth, groovy voice. Whenever I listen to this album, I feel like I'm being fed a loving meal with a large family gathered around. We may fight, but I always know I can count on blood. (I'm a vegetarian, but I've always said that if there were a meat to turn me back to being an omnivore, it would be chicken!)

1) Chad Vangaalen - Soft Airplane is a musical sandwich, plain and simple. Like the humble sandwich, which easily fills up hungry tummies, Vangaalen's 2008 release is like a sandwich that fills up my musical hunger. His lyrics are the bread of a song, providing the structure, the very essence of a sandwich. The strength of his story-telling leaves me completely sated. The production of the songs, the melodies and instruments are like the filler of a sandwich. They can be simple like a peanut butter sandwich or a bologna sandwich, or they can be dressed up like a fancy roasted eggplant, hummus and avacado toasted sandwich. I want to say that "Willow Tree" alone is enough to make me let Soft Airplane take the top of the 2008 cake. He's the King Daddy of 200Great for me.

I'm not going to talk about it...

I could blog about how integral the inauguration was to our lives and how history was made, but there are enough of those posts floating around the interweb. I will say this though: I got choked up watching the reactions of the American people during the speech. Sure, Obama is a great orator, but I damn near bawled my eyes out watching the reactions in the crowd. And that is exactly what Obama means to me. He is idealistic and gregarious, but he really represents hope to me. He won't be able to change everything and undo years of bad decisions but the most important thing he offers is a sense of optimism, passion and possibility for others, especially the young'uns. That's where real change is possible, in the future generations, and by god, I will be thankful if he's even able to inspire one good human being to be even better.

I know I said I wasn't going to talk about the inauguration, but goddamn, the First Couple's First Dance gave me shivers. Beyonce's voice was silky, sultry and smooth like freshly churned butter. I actually felt the shivers travel up and down my spine. Watching the Obamas dance made me believe that there is such a thing as everlasting love. I felt like I was at their wedding, and effin' hell, what a way to say hello to 2009.

And finally, finally, finally, Aretha Franklin's hat! I do believe the post on Oh No They Didn't sums it up so perfectly. I've been fierced.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It ain't right...

That's what Anni kept saying the whole time we were in New York City. But she meant it in the best possible way because there were so many things that were oh so right. I am in love with that city. This was my third time visiting, and each time my love for it grows and grows. There's no place like NYC, and the people are not like the wet mops of Toronto. They actually have some passion and directness instead of the wishy-washy, apologetic nature of so many fellow Canadians.

I keep expecting New Yorkers to be rude, impatient and downright mean. They never are. They're polite, good-natured and funny people. I've never felt it so easy to talk to people or have people approach me. They have a happy disposition that I sometimes find lacking here in Toronto. This posting isn't to slam T-Dot because there are plenty of great things about this city, but it's always nice to get out of your familiar surroundings and see other places. If anything, this trip to NYC has renewed my lust for travel. I have a new vigour and desire to go to a new place at least every couple of months.

Some NYC highlights included:
-Eating at Red Bamboo (this may be the most amazing vegetarian restaurant I have ever been, and I've been veg for 11 years. Red Bamboo serves soul food. This ain't right.)
-NYC Public Library (the building is incredible, from the detailing in the interior to the sassy older librarian ladies with their smart outfits and perfectly coiffed do's. Now that ain't right.)
-Bonita (Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. Not only was the food delish, the servers were friendly, cute and full of laughter and silliness. And they rocked some Brooklyn hip hop so brownie points...Again, it ain't right.)
-Free pizza at the Charleston (a bar in Brooklyn on Bedford Ave. During happy hour, you can get a pizza pie to choke down with the beer. Brilliant.)
-Bowling at the Gutter (another bar in Brooklyn. Now that ain't right.)
-Macy's (this is a world-class department store with old wooden escalators. Yes, wooden escalators. It ain't right.)
-Seeing Yo La Tengo in Montclair, NJ on NYE (the whole evening was so low key and unpretentious. The audience was multi-generational, there was no countdown, the music was phenomenal, the performance was solid. The only thing was the commute out to Jersey. It's give and take I suppose.)
-hanging at Moe's near Mat's house (good music, uninhibited people with uninhibited dance moves)
-New Yorkers ('nuff said. And it ain't right.)