Culture, Music

Let’s all pretend that summer will never end

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Someone saw my outfit and said ‘Groovy.’ That’s exactly what I was going for. Yes!

But I don’t want to pretend. I want summer to be for always.

All the music festivals, the life abounding in the streets, drinks in the park with long-lost friends, and nights on the patio; these are the things I look forward to when I’m in my fall mode of introspection and my winter mode of hibernation.

The sun is this elixir and the wind — a temporary reprieve from the heat. Everything is a bit more alive and troubles seem like a thing of the past. Or something relegated to some time in the future, some place far off.

During these summer months, I took advantage of my seasonally based energy and the beautiful weather. It was my first time going to Field Trip, a music festival sponsored by Arts & Crafts (an influential independent Canadian record label). Del La Soul was amazing! Girl loves to dance! Girl = me. I would definitely go again next year.

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Day 1 of Field Trip 2015!

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#FindYourWayHome at the inaugural WayHome Music & Arts Festival

During the last weekend of July, I was invited to go to the first ever WayHome Music & Arts Festival. My partner’s band Teen Violence played during the second afternoon of the festival. I was so proud of them! They played like old pros, but I admit, I am biased.

Being part of the Teen Violence crew meant I was given some sweet perks — including, but not limited to, the privilege of saying “I’m with the band” and also fulfilling the essence of scenes from Almost Famous. The VIP experience made it a lot more pleasant than my past festival experiences (I’m looking at you Coachella and general admission).

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The now beloved artist compound. May you live forever in my memory.

On the day Teen Violence played, we were able to hang out in the artist compound which could only be described as a haven — almost a fantasy mirage in the sweltering desert heat. The complimentary food and drink were much appreciated and the staff were downright pleasant.

I’m happy it was such a success. They’ve already announced the dates for next year, which are July 22-24. It was fun to listen to well-established bands playing the same festival as lesser-known acts. Kendrick Lamar was crazy good. Once again, girl loves to dance. Alvvays was top-notch, and I would’ve danced more to Future Islands if I wasn’t asleep on my feet. Also, the surprise performance from Broken Social Scene was awesome!

Let’s all pretend that summer will never end. From this day forth, everyday will be filled with iced coffees, live music, and the belief that it all means something.

Now let me conclude with some of my favourite quotations about music from my favourite books. Enjoy!

But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best — glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen.
– The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

I can still recall the feeling that came over me when my great-uncle Harper first placed the record needle onto a spinning 45. It happened right away. I felt that everything deep within my body was rising to the surface, that my skin was growing thin, that I would come apart. If this sounds painful, it wasn’t. It was what love did to my body, which was to transform it. I would come apart like a fireworks display, a burst of light that would grow larger and glow, and make the person below me say, “Ah!”
– Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong

I have always had difficulty listening to the frenzied sound of many instruments together. In Charles Town, on occasion, I had heard flutes, oboes, horns, and violins all rise together, but they always seemed like voices at war. Here, though, I could befriend the cellist, fall into his music, heed the melodic urgency, and be touched by the way it dipped low like the voices of village elders and skimmed high like singing children. Adonis Thomas’s cello whispered to my soul. Do not lose hope, it said. You too can make something beautiful, but first you must be free.
– The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill

My mother began to hum along, her body began to sway. The men in the living room remained silent, as though they were being reprimanded. Elf played louder, then quieter, then louder again. The birds stopped singing and the flies in the kitchen stopped slamming up against the windows. The air was still. She was the centre of the spinning world. This was the moment Elf took control of her life. It was her debut as an adult woman and, although we didn’t know it at the time, her debut also as a world-class pianist. I like to think that in that moment it became clear to the men in the living room that she wouldn’t be able to stay, not after the expression of so much passion and tumult, and furthermore that to hold her there she would have to be burned at the stake or buried alive. It was the moment Elf left us. And it was the moment my father lost everything all at once: approval from the elders, his authority as head of the household, and his daughter, who was now free and therefore dangerous.
– All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews

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Culture

Let’s make new memories at the park

I couldn't agree more!

I couldn’t agree more!

Summer is almost over and I’ve had some lovely memories. My summer days were filled with beach days, street festivals, good eats, and days at the park.

And believe me, Toronto has amazing parks. This summer alone, I’ve gone to Earlscourt Park, Wells Hill Park, Sir Winston Churchill Park, High Park, and Christie Pits Park.

When I was younger my parents would take me to Riverside Park in Cambridge, Ontario. When the weekend rolled around, my mom and dad would load the car with blankets, bathing suits, and ingredients for delicious meals. My little sister and my younger brother would sit in the backseat, and we’d try not to pester each other too much. Going to the park was a time to reconnect with friends and family, to share a meal together, to feed the birds, to splash away in the pool, and to share laughter and stories. The park was honestly a 20-minute drive from our little apartment, but it always felt like an adventure.

Now pan to present day and you’ll find me back at the park throwing around a frisbee and sharing a sunny afternoon with friends. My childhood days at the park are now sepia toned and have the hazy fade of summers long past, but now I’ve created new memories at the park.

Hitchcock's Rear Windown at Christie Pitts Film Festival

Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ at Christie Pits Film Festival

I was overjoyed to hear about the film festival at Christie Pits Park, which featured some amazing movies. It was my first time watching a movie outdoors. I still haven’t been to a drive-in! We prepared by bringing blankets and a canteen of water but we forgot snacks! Not to worry. There was a Sugar Mamma’s food truck nearby and we indulged in some organic blueberry and maple syrup mini-donuts. During the last night of the festival, we sat on the hill with a sea of rapt movie-goers while Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window played onscreen. This was the fourth year of the film festival and I’m sure there’s many more to come. I’ll have to mark my calendar for next year’s festival so I can catch as many films as possible.

Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' in High Park

Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in High Park

And the summer wouldn’t be complete without Shakespeare in High Park. Before I moved here, I was already a fan of watching the Bard’s work in the place famous for their cherry blossoms in spring. Last year, I sat in the grassy amphitheatre watching The Taming of the Shrew and this year it was As You Like It. It’s a good idea to get there early because there are plenty of Shakespeare lovers making their way to High Park in the waning days of summer. Movies and plays in the park is never “too much of a good thing.”

Note: Christie Pits Film Festival and Shakespeare in High Park have free admission but donations are appreciated. 

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Surround yourself with inspiring people and good food

Summer-fresh strawberries from the Farmers' Market

Summer-fresh strawberries from the Farmers’ Market

I love food and I love spending time with people, especially if there’s food involved. And good conversation.

I’ve recently befriended George Elliott Clarke, Toronto’s Poet Laureate. I met him at the Art Gallery of Ontario at an exhibition called Portraits of Poets. It was in April for National Poetry Month. If anyone who knows me well will tell you: I have a passion for poetry. I would say “passion” is an understatement. Perhaps, “obsession” would be more fitting.

Fresh Wednesdays with George Elliott Clarke on a windy and sunny August afternoon

Fresh Wednesdays with George Elliott Clarke on a windy and sunny August afternoon

But back to Mr. Clarke. So I met him in April and I was blown away by his exuberance and his unparalleled love for the English language. He told me about an upcoming event hosted by the city of Toronto called Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square, which would be happening in August.

Of course, I went. Not only was I drawn to the poetry readings and spoken word performances, but Fresh Wednesdays is known for its Farmers’ Market fare, brimming with delicious foods and fresh produce. This was my idea of a dream afternoon! Food and Art: the best marriage if I ever heard of one.

So this is happiness, I thought, as I sat front and centre for the Beat Café, which showcased the brilliance of four other poets, songwriters, and spoken word artists. It was a windy and sunny day. I was grateful for the wind because my legs were baking in the heat of the afternoon sun. Also, my insides were already warmed from the performances happening on stage. Afterwards, I asked Mr. Clarke to sign my copy of his book of poetry Execution Poems. He also has a new book of poetry out called Traverse.

“We’re working on a future project together, aren’t we?” he asked me.

“I don’t think so, but I did ask you to have a look at my book of poetry. It’s my first book and it’s coming out next month,” I said to him.

“Congratulations,” he said. “It would be my pleasure.”

Or something along those lines. I was too busy being a fangirl to remember everything verbatim. What I should’ve said was, Yes, I hope we have many many future projects to come.

Here’s to dreaming.

Note: Both of these events (Portraits of Poets and the Beat Café) were free. It’s amazing how the best things don’t cost a dime. I’ll definitely be there on August 27 when they have the Farmer’s Market Free Sampling Tour. Once again, the operative word here is “free.” I am a poet and writer, if you’ll recall.

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Let’s do something for free dollars

If you’re like me, you’re probably trying to save a bunch of money. We all have to pay rent and buy groceries. Such a bother. So I try my best to pinch my pennies whenever I can. I still love going to galleries and museums, but I don’t have the $20 or more to spare for admission.

But lo and behold, I found something to do for free dollars! The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has free admission on Wednesday nights after 6 pm. The gallery closes at 8:30 pm on Wednesdays so make sure you get your money’s worth (in this case — zero dollars) by going as close to 6 pm as possible. I aimed to be there for 6 pm, so of course, I was right on time — 6:15 pm …

Art Gallery of Ontario

These are my two handsome friends, Lauren and Liam. Thanks for being my unintentional models.

So if you’re looking for something to do for free dollars, why not stand in front of an impressionist painting and nod your head and say profound things like, “This is what you’d call a large painting,” or “I like this artist’s use of paint and brushes and stuff.” BOOM. Cultured.

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