A Travellerspoint blog

June 2008

Canada Day at the cottage, with lame ruminations..

I literally woke up at the crack of dawn and couldn't sleep anymore, so I went walking. The lake is just stunning in the morning mist. Birds are singing as I walk through the fallen pine needles and the lake is a sheet of glass. Amazing. Add to that the relentless buzzing of mosquitoes in my ears and I think I've got myself the perfect Canadian long weekend. What a change of pace from the crazy psycho world of Toronto. I imagine what sorts of things Kit is doing and I know at least there is a bunch of noise and people everywhere. Here all there is, is me. It's been a while since I had a clear and empty space to fill like this. It's refreshing. Too bad it's only for 1.5 days, but I think that's enough. I scrounge around for some breakfast, find some scones/biscuits and then boil water for tea. By now, the mist is so thick that I can't see the other side of the lake anymore. Even though the others are sleeping just in the next room, I feel completely alone. The lake is hidden by by a vast abyss of suspended water droplets obscuring the rest of existence.

Ken wakes up and comes out for a coffee, just as I am about to drink boiled lake water tea. Which may or may not have parasites. So I dumped that and made some new tea, drank some and then went back to bed. When I wake up, Jen and Ken are outside ready for a swim, so I join them. Terrified of the fish in the dark lake water, I choose to float around on a tube until I get up the nerve to jump in. After about an hour of procrastination, I hold my breath and leap off the tube thing into the water. Things are going fine until I find myself in the middle of a whole bunch of lily pads. Sooooooo gross, almost as bad as touching fish, so I screamed as loud as possible, while slowly and pathetically doggy paddling to the dock. I finish my tea and Jen and Ken start playing board games on the shore.

I don't really feel like moving a whole lot, since it IS a holiday, and everything. We really didn't accomplish anything at all, until lunchtime. Ken went to go see if anybody was waiting at the marina, but no one was. When he came back, he cooked souvlaki and Jen made some vegetables. Me, I just cleared the table. Now, I'm just trying not to feel like a mooch. After lunch, we play some cards and take some videos. I fail to remember exactly how to play dominoes OR Old Maid, but we still play anyway.

Later, I break out the 70s and 80s-era "Cottage Life" and "Gourmet" magazines I find in the sunroom. It's hilarious going through the old ads for cigarettes and liquor. Like this ad for some sort of jewelry "Honey, I just hired a new tax attorney" That entertains us for a while, and then Ken makes up some hamburgers and we sit around waiting for the sun to go down. I play with Ken's Nintendo DS and Jen and Ken read books.

Soon, we see some fireworks go off across the lake, so Ken starts setting off his. So we have a little show, and we take turns setting off our fireworks from across the lake. Then another cottage on the other side starts setting off theirs. It's just so typical and awesome, as you can imagine. There are SO many mosquitoes, that after our fireworks are done, we go inside to watch the rest.

I have to get up really early the next morning, so we don't stay up quite as late as we did last night.

Cute note to Ken, love Mom

Cute note to Ken, love Mom

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Leaving Toronto for the cottage

Laura woke up at about 7:45 a.m., so we had 45 minutes to get ready to go. Her and Claire were leaving for Ottawa for Canada Day soon. I crammed everything back into my bag. Laura made me some tea and then I left, making a quick stop at Kit's hotel to drop off the TravelPod coffee mug I forgot to bring yesterday. Then, I took off for Ken's cottage.

The roads there were just excruciatingly beautiful. I took the crazy Google "avoid highways" way again. There wer lakes everywhere, pine trees and roads through craggy rock cuts. I arrived without any problems at the marina about an hour early, and the people that run it, invited me in after it started raining. So I was writing this while children play cards and watch Judge Judy all around me.

Ken and Jen finally arrive at about 4:30, they were out shopping for food and things. They were generous enough to offer free food to anybody who showed up that weekend. So cool.

Anyway, pretty much as soon as they got there, we left for Ken's cottage on a little motor boat. The place is breathtakingly beautiful. I kept screaming like a little girl "Eeeee it's so prettyyyy!" because that was the best way to vocalize my emotions at the time... I guess....

We got to Ken's little red roofed cottage in the middle of nowhere, which lies at the other end of Ashby Lake. I got a whole bed to myself, because nobody else showed up. We had a beer and Ken cooked some deer meat sausages that Jen brought. We also drank my tetra-pak wine that I brought (pretty awful) and just mostly hung out and stuff.

Ken brought out the "electric flyswatters" and proceeded to kill everything in sight with a single swipe.

I love people's cottages because mostly they're filled with junk they just don't want in their own homes anymore. So there are rooster placemats, and tacky plates, mismatched furniture and funny/weird art on the walls, including a calendar from 1989 (found in the outhouse). I think I probably passed out at about 8 p.m., this was directly a result of the Knob Creek bourbon Ken generously doled out to us apres le souper.

UPDATE: I remember Jen was sleeping with Ken at the time this happened. We were drunk in her kitchen and she asked me what to do because he didn't want a relationship. I was like, screw him, he's stupid. Looking back on it, I wonder if Ken wanted some other arrangement with all three of us. Hopefully not.

Jen vs. mosquitoes

Jen vs. mosquitoes


Ken with fireworks and electric flyswatter

Ken with fireworks and electric flyswatter


View from the porch

View from the porch


Ken and citronella

Ken and citronella

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Pride Parade and Kit

I woke up this morning and my parents were leaving for home. Today is the day of the big Pride Parade, so I figured I would go to that. I had the free hotel breakfast and very slowly crammed all my stuff back into my bag. Gilbert is right, if it doesn't fit in a tank bag, you don't need it.

I figured my host, Laura was probably still sleeping, so I waited for a while before calling. I wanted to know if I could park my motorcycle for free at her place. Turns out yes, they have a little front lawn I could park on. Sweet. So I tell Laura and her roommate I will be there in about 30 minutes. This quickly turns into an hour and a half as I get lost in the busy downtown one-way-dead-end streets of Toronto. If I never knew how to shift gears before, I certainly know how to do it now! I believe that the best motorcycle driving practice in Canada you can get is to drive in this city...probably. It was insane-o crazy, but again, really really fun.

So I finally get to Laura's place, park and give her a box of Girl Guide cookies I had from yesterday. They were giving them out for free. Laura and Claire want to sleep some more so that's cool. I decide to wanter down College St. to Kensington Market for an hour or so. It starts raining so I walk back for my jacket, only to find that the door had been locked behind me. Then, I sit on their porch waiting for the rain to stop, writing, not wanting to wake them up. The rain stops quickly and I make my way back to Kensington for a bit.

I look at some weird things that they have for sale and generally wander around. I'm not really in the market for new clothes or ironic knicknacks, so I don't buy anything, as usual...

There is a pretty good acoustic singer songwriter type guy playing underneath the awning of a fish market. 1:30 comes and I have to head back to Laura's place. They neglected to tell me that they would be taking their bicycles to the parade, so in all honesty, there was no point in telling me to come back and meet them before the parade. I promise to meet them at Church and Bloor, knowing full well I will not. Yeah, oh well, I'll call them tonight at some point. I guess. Or maybe, I'll just leave for Ken's cottage tonight. No, that won't do. Ken has no telephone.

So anyway, the parade gets started at about 2:30, there is the requisite half naked men prancing around on top of large trucks...there are drag queens and more topless lesbians and lots and lots of people wearing fairy wings, thigh high platform boots, fishnet stockings etc. etc. etc. I took some videos, feel free to peruse them at your leisure.

I quickly got bored with this form of entertainment. It's not that I was uncomfortable with the prospect of half naked homosexuals exposing themselves to me, it's just that it all seems a little pointless, and also degrading for the parties involved. I'm referring to the women yelling "hey beautiful" at the "Trojan" men as well as the Trojan men themselves. I just don't get it.

So, I was a little less than impressed with the Pride Parade. I found that walking in the opposite direction of the parade, I could see everything twice as fast as normal. So that made it go by quicker.

I went back to the poetry stage, since I thought this was the best part of the whole festival yesterday. So I watched some really great poets and folk singer types reciting their work. Evelyn Parry did a great song on the politics of bottled water, and some novelist read a selection from her book, Big Big Sky. It was about teenaged girls who are assassin warriors on another planet. Kay.

After that, it was about time to meet Kit at the Grand Hotel, further south on Jarvis St. I got there 30 minutes early, so I sat down at the internet cafe for five minutes when Kit showed up behind me. Yay! She had just arrived from the airport and needed to get settled before going out. Which was fine by me, of course. She came back and we waited for her kids and husband to come down for dinner. They came quickly, and we left to go find some interesting food. We thought the doorman might know of a place, but he recommended (in this order) Casey's, The Old Spaghetti Factory and a really mainstream looking restaurant called Hot House Cafe *blech*.

We didn't take his advice. We found a French bistro type place called Papillon, so we had some crepes and called it a day. Robert ordered a banana chocolate crepe for dessert, so it was crepe overload. After that, we went for a walk down Yonge St. (a very slow walk).

Mike had been telling me that Toronto is just like a bland New York, and I disagreed, until last night. Kit and Robert both remarked on the resemblance Yonge and Dundas has to Times Square. It's really remarkable how much it has changed in the last few years, for sure. So yes, I concede, Toronto has no vibe of its own I guess. It's just a clean New York.

I walked back to Kit's hotel and we went up to the secret 19th floor rooftop terrace where I saw what's probably a once in a lifetime view (I think). We pondered putting our feet in the jacuzzi up there, but it was too wet to sit down. We chatted some more, and Kit was sleepy so we said goodbye.

I had called Laura earlier, and she said she left the keys for me under the mat. She also invited me to come out for some more Pride Week fun. Um, no, that's OK, I'll just go back and sleep. I had borrowed some flip flops from Laura, but they had literally just rubbed the skin on my big toe raw. It hurt SO BAD.

On my way home, I tried to tune out the drunken singing of straight people looking for an excuse to party. So slowly, I walked back, and as I was halfway there, a man with a flipper arm chatted me up, and we talked and walked the rest of the way to Laura's house....strange....

I went straight to bed, enjoying the luxury of a WHOLE double bed, complete with fluffy duvet.

Car filled with plants, Kensington Market

Car filled with plants, Kensington Market


Kensington Market

Kensington Market


Kids

Kids


Kit and family

Kit and family


Kit and me

Kit and me


Maybe you can see the skyline...

Maybe you can see the skyline...


People coming out of the wall

People coming out of the wall


Poetry reading, Evelyn Parry

Poetry reading, Evelyn Parry


Someone OBVIOUSLY doesn't know how to read.

Someone OBVIOUSLY doesn't know how to read.


What's a "bick" again?

What's a "bick" again?


Why? Kensington Market

Why? Kensington Market

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Dyke Day at Pride Week Toronto, '08

Dad left early this morning to go pick some people up and drop some people off at the airport. That's his job you know.

Anyway, I got to sleep in a little bit, I ate breakfast and waited for dad to get back from his rounds. He finally got back (late) and me and mom took off for downtown.

When we got there, we found that Pride Week is really just an excuse for loosely associated social groups and corporate public relations teams to hand out free stuff to unsuspecting victims. We picked up some of this stuff and somebody from the Canadian Cancer Society made me a funny hat to wear. The point was to make me aware of the danger the sun has on my skin, or so she said. I think she probably had an ulterior motive, but that's just me.

Soon, it was just about time for the "Dyke Parade". I guess the women felt like they had to have their own parade a day before the guys did. It's kind of dumb because they are always welcome to show up to the Pride Parade on Sunday, so I found it redundant. But whatever.

So there were lots of women without tops, which my mom said she had never seen before. There were also lots of really butch women on motorcycles, tricycles and also just plain walking down the street waving banners etc. etc. I got some videos, but they aren't as exciting as it sounds. Also the computer in the hotel lobby won't let me upload them right now. Oh well. Check back later, after I get home.

The Dyke Parade was a bit of a letdown, so we slowly walked over to a stage sponsored by a women's book store with lots of poets. I had already heard of Ivan Coyote, so we went to go see him/her do her little poetry thing. She was really really good. It wasn't really poetry, more like really creative storytelling, which of course, is also cool. We also saw an Asian girl complaining about her parents and childhood in an amusing way. Next up, was a guy who swore a lot and talked about gay sex in very graphic detail. My mom didn't like this, so we left in the middle, kind of upsetting the poor guy. We were sitting right in front, so he saw us leave and apologized in a whisper "sorry" to us over the microphone. I waved and smiled and my mom just kinda kept walking, pretending not to notice.

It was just about time for us to meet dad. My batteries had run out of juice by then, so we went to the Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some more. Dad met us at College Station after we waited around for about an hour or so. I missed most of Ember Swift but I ended up taking a picture of two of the absolutely cutest gay guys I saw all day. (The photo doesn't really show it, but this guy had garter belts holding up his socks... super cute). I definitely expected more of aforementioned "costumes" and stylish people, but sadly, I did not.

Dad met us a half hour late than we thought he would, and we missed most of Ember Swift. However, I did take a photo of a sarcastic shirt. Of which there were many throughout the course of the day.

Then we went to go see Mel C. (yes Lisa, of Spice Girls fame) but we didn't have enough motivation to actually find a good spot from which to see the show, so we left for the Korean BBQ after one or two songs. I've never been to one of these places, and I don't think I'll ever go back. Not that the food wasn't good... Call me crazy, but I'd rather pay somebody else to cook for me, rather than just cutting it up and handing the tongs over...So yeah, this little semi-vegetarian ate a LOT of meat today, and consequently felt extremely sleepy right afterwards.

After this, we were sick of Pride, so we went to the Eaton's Centre to see if something was going on at the square there. Of course there was. The Mexican Embassy or tourism group or something was putting on a concert of some sort. It was pretty good. We danced for a bit and looked at all the junk for sale, the same junk that was for sale two weeks ago when I was there for NXNE. Right.

We also grew bored of the Mexican music, so we went over to Nathan Phillips Square to listen to the jazz music at the jazzfest. It was super good, so we just chilled out in the park for a while. From there, we took the subway back to Kipling station and from there, took dad's airport shuttle van back to the hotel. That took a while...and I slept the whole way.

Tomorrow mom and dad go back home and I finally get to meet Kit from the TravelPod forums!

Chalk drawing

Chalk drawing


Cutest thing I saw all day

Cutest thing I saw all day


Dad and Korean BBQ

Dad and Korean BBQ


Ironic shirts, all the rage

Ironic shirts, all the rage


Me and funny hat

Me and funny hat


Me at Shoppers Drug Mart

Me at Shoppers Drug Mart


Me vs. Korean BBQ

Me vs. Korean BBQ


Mexican band

Mexican band


Mom and dad cooking Korean BBQ

Mom and dad cooking Korean BBQ


Mom on motorcycle

Mom on motorcycle


So many people don't wear socks, why?

So many people don't wear socks, why?


Weird guy

Weird guy

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Motorcycling to Toronto

In order to give you the context in which this blog will make sense to you, it is necessary to bring you back to about February, 2008. An old friend of mine, Rob, invited me to come to his best friend's wedding in Toronto in the summer. I agreed to go, but I guess my acceptance of the invitation wasn't emphatic enough, and he thought that my answer to his request was "maybe" or "no", not "yes" which is what I absolutely said. Because of whatever bizarre brain synapse misfire that happens in Rob's brain, he "forgot" to tell his best friend that he would in fact, be bringing a date to said wedding celebration. In four months, he couldn't call up his best friend and mention that he would indeed be bringing a guest to this party. Right.

This brings us to the present day. Two days ago, Rob sends me an email and explains the situation. There is no seat for me at the party, because

1) he NEVER listens to ANYTHING I say and

2) his brain is retarded.

So I have come to the conclusion that Rob is a complete idiot and therefore, (wait for it) dead to me. Just like a certain former co-worker that I won't mention right now. All my Carver peeps will know exactly who I'm talking about. The wrath that I feel toward Rob is exactly the same wrath I feel to the aforementioned former co-worker.

About a half hour after I get this last-minute update from Rob, I also get an email from my dear, sweet mother. A friend of hers has to give away a stay at the Holiday Inn near the Toronto airport, and she wants to know if I could use it this weekend, (she thinks I'm still going to this wedding).

"GOD NO!" I reply, and call her up to explain the situation.

She says, "OK no problem, me and dad will use it, there's two beds in the room, so feel free to join us anyway, if you feel like it."

I had already started to plan a trip to Vermont since I got that mail from Rob, but I thought it over and quickly changed my mind. I am Toronto bound once again! To hang out with my mom, dad, aunt and uncle during Pride Week, what a crazy party that will be!

Context explanation over.

Friday was EXACTLY 60 days since I first wrote my M1 motorcycle licence, so that means that I am eligible for my M2. I woke up this morning, hopped on my motocyclette, and headed directly to the drive test centre, to change in my M1 for am M2. This means I can drive on 400 series highways and also at night. This means I won't get a fine for driving to Toronto this weekend. I was lucky I did, because it took me about eight HOURS to do a drive that usually takes five in a car.

But holy CRAP it was fun.

After a pretty spazzy day at work, I headed off to Toronto. This is AFTER I dropped it in the parking lot at work and screwed up the right side mirror. A problem that would plague me for the rest of the trip.

I printed out some pretty crazy "avoid highways" directions from google maps, it looked like a lot of fun to find my way to Toronto that way and it really really was. I was driving through little tiny towns with signs that say things like "God loves you whether you like it or not" and stuff like that. It was totally great.

I also vaguely knew how to get to Mississauga by using the 400-series highways, so if I got lost somewhere in the backwoods of central Ontario, I'd be able to get there without too many problems.

Everything was going great until it started raining. The weatherman had forecast a HUGE storm for the evening, so I thought, "Oh god, this is IT, the BIG THUNDERSTORM". I pulled over right away in a tiny place called Black Lake. I bought an ice cream from a nice 18-year-old named Cassidy. She was very talkative, probably because she never gets any customers, but she told me she was going to Pembroke to college next year to become a paramedic and how she hates it in Black Lake. It was so similar to all the typical highschool girl things I used to say to people that came into the store that I worked at, so I was laughing in my head the whole time. I guess small town kids never change.

By the time I finished my maple-walnut ice cream* the rain had stopped and the road had already started to dry off. I didn't even have to put on my rain gear, I just started back on my way, amongst the beautiful pine trees, lakes and hills of the great Canadian Shield. Aw, patriotism, it's always latent in my heart, and comes out unexpectedly, at times like this (cheeseball)

Not much really happened on the way here. I just kept riding and riding, completely amazed at all the little details you notice, if you're on a motorcycle. When you're out there in the air, not caged up in a metal box, you really notice the beauty of the place you are traveling in. Less so, than you would on a bicycle, I know, but I think that a motorcycle is a pretty good compromise between environmentalism and fantastic roadtrip travels. (I only used $12 worth of fuel in the eight hours it took me to get to Toronto)

Soon it began to get dark, so I stopped to fill up. I had to make a decision, continue on the back roads in the dark, or brave the 401 to Toronto. I figured I'd probably get lost in the dark on these roads, and I probably wouldn't make it to Toronto before 4 a.m., so I decided to suck it up, get my butt on the highway and hightail it to the hotel. This was exactly the right decision.

On the 401, there is never a time when there is no traffic, so I was a little frightened, but kinda calmed down after I found a slow-ish truck to follow, and went about 95 km/h the whole way. Not bad for my little Marauder, that seems to struggle with anything over 80. I was afraid he wouldn't make it that fast, but he was OK.**

I pulled off at the airport, because I knew the hotel was in the area, and I was so delirious and tired from so much motorcycle riding that I could barely find my way on the map. I called the hotel my parents were staying at, but the hotel guy said there was no one of that name here. Fine, it was probably registered under my mom's friend's name. I asked him for directions to the hotel WITHOUT going on the highway. He couldn't provide them to me...great. So I drove around and around the Dixon Rd. area and SOME HOW, I managed to find this place, located in the middle of an industrial office park, so weird. By the time I got there it was midnight. Pretty much exactly what time I JOKINGLY told my mom I would get there. Who knew my jokes were so accurate? Haha. Mom saved me some of her Italian dinner from Mamma Mia's so I ate it, bitched about Rob some more, then went to bed.

*That was the only flavour they had besides vanilla, because they just got a NEW FREEZER and Cassidy was "cooling it down". She was evidently very excited about the prospect of having DOZENS of different ice cream flavours in the coming weeks. She immediately rattled off all the names of all of the flavours they would soon have for sale at the little outpost I had found myself in at the moment.

**If anybody has an idea for a name for him/her, I'd like to hear it, I'm the most uncreative person I know.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Top 40 under 40 gala

Well, there's not much to say about these photos.

My boss, Luc Levesque, is one of Ottawa's most successful businesspeople under 40 years old. The Ottawa Business Journal throws a party for these people every year, and I attended with my good friend, Dave Perez.

We had a good time, and I scored a bazillion Carver Points by taking a picture with John Baird.

I also saw a couple of people I know that now work at the OBJ, Jim and Darren. Dave broke his arm prior to this event, but you can't tell. He still blames me for that...

Enjoy, especially you, Mom.

A few years later, my friend saw the photo of me and John Baird on This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I called the producer and demanded compensation, because they hadn't asked my permission to use it and they called me a "Toronto elite" in their joke about John Baird. I got $500, but I had to split it with my ex-boyfriend Dave, who took the picture.

Me and my hairdresser Jessica (Dave's sister)

Me and my hairdresser Jessica (Dave's sister)


Me and Dave on the bus

Me and Dave on the bus


Me and Dave waiting for the bus

Me and Dave waiting for the bus


Me and Environment Minister JOHN BAIRD

Me and Environment Minister JOHN BAIRD


Luc and Andrea

Luc and Andrea


Me and Jim Donnelly

Me and Jim Donnelly


Me and Darren (former Sun colleague)

Me and Darren (former Sun colleague)


Me and Dave

Me and Dave


Me and Dave, omg cleavage...don't look!

Me and Dave, omg cleavage...don't look!


Me and ugly fur coat

Me and ugly fur coat


Me and ugly fur coat   umbrella

Me and ugly fur coat + umbrella


Ikea map

Ikea map

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Father's day and *&#(**$&$ Scarborough Town Centre

God knows how, but I woke up exactly at 11 a.m. I had to meet my parents for brunch at noon. I started making a ruckus all over Michelle and Brendan's house. I must've woke them up because I was freaking "I need a phone! I can't make it to see my parents!"

Brendan got me the phone and the number my mom gave me for her cellphone wasn't right! So I had to go and mee them, no questions. Brendan and Michelle drove me there, so that was nice of them, AGAIN. I said goodbye to M & B, promising to spend more time with them in two weeks time. Probably I will buy them lunch or something.

It's Father's Day, but it went all backwards, because mom and dad bought ME breakfast, I dunno. I had a little omelette thing at some breakfast restaurant, I can't remember what it's called now. And then my parents dropped me off at the Scarborough Town Centre FOUR HOURS too early. I guess it was OK. I walked around looking for some Canadian stuff to get for Jo (who lives in Japan) chomped on some "end of the day" sale sushi and basically wandered around. I tried to find some leather gloves, to no avail, because it's not really winter time anymore.

I walked around outside near the 401, which was depressing. Everybody always wants to go somewhere I guess. Too bad we need these horrendous looking giant highways to get them there. All you can hear is the sound of rushing machines, striving to get to their important destinations. Also, everything around there is fenced off for miles, so just try crossing the highway to get to Winners. It takes twice as long as it would if you just walked straight there because of all the obstacle course of fences surrounding the place. Blech.

Anyway, 6:30 eventually came, and I met my ride right where they left me on Saturday. Except this time, there were two plasticky girls sitting in the back seat. Great, no sleeping for me on the way home. Blahblahblah they just chirped away all night, it was terrible. I couldn't even drown them out with my podcasts. After a couple of Tim Hortons stops, we finally got home, dropped one girl off in Kanata, and then the other girl threw a hissy fit because we wouldn't drop her off downtown. It's about 45 minutes out of the way for poor Anan, but after a while, he gave in. She kept saying, "It's on the way!" but it really really was not. Anan drove all the way downtown, then back out to South Keys to drop me off. He lives just down the street from me, so it wasn't a big deal to drop me off.

Then it was midnight and time for bed. My house is a total mess, it's awful. I should probably stop doing these little trips and clean it up once in a while. Hmmm...nah... See you in two weeks, when I go to Toronto again for a wedding. That is, if Rob's not all pissy at me still...

Me and dad

Me and dad


The 401

The 401

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The festival and the serendipitous after party...

Wow, did I have an action-packed Saturday or WHAT!?

After saying goodbye to my dear, sweet, Karim, who is heading to Holland to live with his now-deported girlfriend, I retired early because I had to get going at 5:30 tomorrow morning! A very nice Indian couple who I found on the Ottawa U rideshare board were taking me to Toronto for North by Northeast! The craziest, most fantastic indie rock festival, this side of Texas.

Anan and his wife (I couldn't make out her name) dropped me off at the Scarborough Town Centre, so I took a bus straight downtown to the Holiday Inn (rockstar headquarters) to pick up my wristband. Note to self: don't bother ordering things on the internet anymore, the service charges are pointless. I could've saved $3 if I just bought my wristband there at the hotel. Stupid jerks. So I didn't have my confirmation number and they got all flustered because they didn't know how to find out if I actually paid or not.

It took a while to get my wristband, but I got it finally, and casually walked around the hotel, looking for things that might lead to adventure. I picked up a huge schedule thingy, and perused the table. When lo and behold, what did I find? A stack of "invitations" to an after party tonight. 2-5 a.m. "drinks, food, DJ... admission with this invite only" Could this be a fabulous chance for spectacular late-night fun? I figured it wouldn't hurt to check it out after I was done bar hopping all evening.

I called Michelle up, to see where she was at, and she was far away. We decided to meet at the Eaton's Centre and shop, because her mom was in town. I'm not an Eaton's Centre kind of person, but I thought there was nothing going on at NXNE until night time anyway, so I went and met her there at 1 p.m. By the time I got there, I had perused the literature quite thoroughly and generally determined the course of my day. I realized that there were some free concerts (including Bran Van 3000, The John Henrys and Hollerado) just outside the Eaton's Centre going on all day. There was no way I was going to be shopping in the air conditioning after I found that out. I love Michelle and everything, but Urban Outfitters is not going to cut it when Bran Van is just outside the spotless glass doors of the shopping mall. I figured I would spend the entire day at the free concerts, until about 11 p.m. and then head to the clubs. This did not happen.

Michelle wasn't disappointed when I told her I wouldn't be shopping, it was good to see her for two minutes. I wouldn't see her again for another hm...12 hours...

OK, so I went on over to the madly corporatized stage. It was called something like the "Rogers Molson PlayStation Hard Rock Cafe Now Magazine stage of fantastic fun-ness", I think... There were MONSTROUS waits between showtimes, the bands took forever to set up and take down their equipment. I think it had something to do with all the weird attention-grabbing activities you could participate in from the sponsors.

Anyway the Rogers crew had this leather couch set up under a tent and I didn't ask anybody, I just went down and sat on it. The plasticky girls and uber-cool guys didn't say a word to me, until about the third band finished their set and I came over again after dancing in the sun all tired and sweaty. From behind her gigantic bubble-shaped sunglasses and stick straight long blonde hair she said,

"Are you a Rogers customer?"

"No."

"The tent is only for Rogers customers."

"Well I could be a Rogers customer at home."

"No, I mean cellphone customer"

"How do you know I'm not a Rogers cellphone customer? I could just say yes, and just sit on the couch."

Holier than thou black dude, with lots of bling and dark Raybans: "Do you even have a cellphone?"

"No"

"Oh that's a shame"

"No, it's not."

Blonde girl: "Whatever."

It was hilarious. After that, I didn't bother going back. You could cut the derision and condescension in the air with a knife.

At about 5 p.m. I had an hour to kill before the next band came on, so I walked around Yonge St. for a while. There was a REALLY captivating preacher guy on the street. He first caught my eye, because he was 1) young 2) really clean 3) didn't look like he belonged in a homeless shelter or insane asylum

He made me stay because he NEVER STOPPED TALKING. He just went on and on about repenting and giving yourself to Jesus etc. etc. etc. He never repeated himself once, and he never stopped to say "um" or anything, ever. It was insane. I videotaped it just for you. After he was finished I gave him a hug, and told him to stop feeling guilty about everything, because he was all hung up on going to hell, and punishing himself for lusting after women etc. etc. etc. Just let it go, brothah. His friend Paul came by so I asked if I could hang out with them and talk Christianity for a while. It was interesting.

I told them to come with me and dance all night to the bands in the park, but I'm pretty sure they don't believe in dancing either. I never saw them again, but I didn't stay there. I hope they managed to break it down a little bit for a while.

Why didn't I stay at the free stage? I'll tell you. A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE R&B group came on next. Literally, the music was hurting my ears. By then, it was about 8 p.m., so I headed on down to the Rivoli, and gave up all hope of seeing Bran Van 3000 ever again. It was probably my last chance, ever. Later, I heard they sang Drinking in L.A. first, and then everybody left right after that anyway.

I didn't regret going to the Rivoli, it was really really good. There was a Jamiroquai like guy, Warren Flandez, who was awesome. Then my favourite banjo player Old Man Luedecke hit the stage, followed by Matthew Barber, my second choice after Bran Van 3000 for the entire festival. Managing to make it to two out of three favourite shows ain't bad.

I left the Rivoli to go to the Bovine Sex Club, a couple kms down the street. I ran into a guy with an anti-pickle shirt that I thought Mike would like, so I took a picture just for him. You better be reading this!

The BSC was packed and I bounced around for a while to Clothes Make the Man, another band I had never seen, but really wanted to in the last few years. The drummer broke the drum and they patched it up with duct tape. Which cut into the set time. They weren't as good as I remembered, so I just left. Convinced that all the clubs were full (which they pretty much were) I went to the legendary Rex for some jazz by The Worst Pop Band Ever. I needed some chilling out time and it was great. After that, I didn't know what to do, so I walked on down to Front St. for some of the worst hip hop I've ever heard in my life. Just awful.

Luckily, it was 2 a.m., time for the Now Magazine after party. At first I walked right past, because I saw the sign that said "Private Party" and thought, nahhhh that's not for me. But then I looked at the address, and yeah, it was right. So I gave the guy my little invite thing and went right in (after being hassled for carrying around a big backpack). There were a couple of people in there, so I ordered a Steamwhistle.

"How much is it?" "It's open bar, hun" the bartender said. "Oh, OK then! Thanks!"

I sat right down beside a nice looking older fellow and a Spanish dude. This turned out to be the general manager of Now Magazine and a delivery guy I guess he was taking care of, helping him learn English and that sort of thing. So instinctively, I go into schmooze mode. "Here, take my card, if you ever want an editor, I know In Design, blahblahblah"... I don't know if I would even TAKE a job at Now, but I couldn't let the opportunity slide, you know?

There was also free food, and all I had to eat was granola bars all day, so I scarfed down a couple of yummy avocado sandwiches, and before I know it, Gary, a really old guy who used to be in the legendary rock band, The Monks sat down beside me. Very interesting, a band that was on the cutting edge of punk at the very beginning of it all. I was also chatting with a guy from a band who is currently "opening for Blondie" but I can't remember their name. My favourite people were from this band wearing red, 19th century style military jackets with stuff pinned on them. I was dancing with the one girl from the band earlier at the Hollerado show, and she remembered me, so we sort of hung out and had some drinks. I also became friends with this other girl that sort of crashed the party too. She was friends with the red jacket band, so that's how she got invited. Me however, I only got there, thanks to my unbelievable observation skills.

As I mentioned above, I hadn't had much to eat and I was out in the sun all day. This combined with unlimited wine and Jagermeister shots with semi-rockstars did not make for a mellow evening. I saw Dave Foley, and loudly made fun of him because he's now fat and ugly and hitting on everything that moves.

This is how our conversation went:

"Is this the line for the drinks?"

"Yes, I believe so, but it's pretty haphazard at the moment."

"OK, thanks Dave Foley"

By the time the night was over, I passed out, and was woken up by the bartender lady, who was shoving $15 and a water bottle in my hand, telling me to take a cab home. I was adamant that I would take the bus, but she shoved me into the taxi and told me to go home. DUNDAS AND RUNNYMEDE I yelled at the cab driver. He took me there, and I went straight to bed. Michelle and Brendan are AWESOME for letting me stay over so late at night.

All I have to say is, I had the real indie rockstar experience at NXNE. Yes I did, that goes without saying.

Becky and Dave Foley's back

Becky and Dave Foley's back


Becky and me

Becky and me


Clothes Make the Man

Clothes Make the Man


Evil Rogers tent

Evil Rogers tent


Guy with a cigar, who is it?

Guy with a cigar, who is it?


Hollerado

Hollerado


Horrible, horrible hip hop

Horrible, horrible hip hop


Kreesha Turner (ugh)

Kreesha Turner (ugh)


Lineup

Lineup


Matthew Barber

Matthew Barber


Me vs. cake at Sears

Me vs. cake at Sears


Me vs. Eaton's Centre

Me vs. Eaton's Centre


Me with wristband

Me with wristband


NXNE crowd

NXNE crowd


Old Man Luedecke

Old Man Luedecke


Pickles are cucumbers soaked in evil

Pickles are cucumbers soaked in evil


Priya Thomas

Priya Thomas


Small Sins

Small Sins


The Burning Boyz

The Burning Boyz


The John Henrys

The John Henrys


Warren Flandez

Warren Flandez


World Naked Bike Ride

World Naked Bike Ride

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Motorcycling, the Diefenbunker and a picnic

I went on a little day trip to Carp and it was quite fun. My friend Toby (aka Damita) invited me over to come see his farm just outside of Ottawa, so I took him up on that offer. I got up pretty early and tried to get the nerve up to take my motorbike on the road for the first time. I managed to do this in about one hour. Then it took me another hour to actually pull the huge green tarp off of the thing.

OK, so I went out around the block once, just to see if I could, and that went OK. Then, I had to convince myself that I would also be OK if I just went a little faster... about 50 km/h faster...I don't know how I did it, but I turned right onto Hunt Club and just gave 'er. I didn't know what I was doing, but that's...OK. I drove and drove and drove, stalling at every single red light. I quickly discovered that riding a motorcycle and stopping a motorcycle is not difficult. It's the starting part that I can't quite grasp. Maybe God is telling me something...nah...

I got to Carp way too early for lunch, and I knew that the Diefenbunker was just down the street from Damita's house, so I stopped in there. It happened to be "Doors Open Ottawa", so the top level was free. I went in to check it out and I thought it was pretty cool, so I shelled out the $13 to see the other three floors and take a guided tour. I enjoyed the sixties decor, and I liked stepping back in time, imagining what it would be like to live and work at the bunker, but it ended up being a little boring. It's interesting that all this stuff was ready to go at a moment's notice, but in the end, no Prime Minister ever set foot in the building, so the whole thing was a complete waste, an exercise in fear.

Anyway, that was a good time, and I went back to the parking lot to head over to Damita's house for lunch. I hopped on the bike, and started to go as all these people were watching me. I got a little nervous I think from all the stares. I just imagined all these people were thinking "Such a small girl, such a large mechanical apparatus". Anyway, I hit a little patch of grass and flipped the bike over, completely crushing my left leg and smashing my arm on the pavement. Nice.

After about 10 people run to help lift me and my motocyclette off the ground, I head to Damita's and get there just in time to help make some homemade buns and lemonade. We had a nice vegan picnic and chatted with the guru guy who was visiting from Virginia.

After that, we went on a little hike to go see the "mighty Carp river" where Damita's dog found a dead rat or beaver or something and ate it.

By then, it was soooooo hot, we went inside, and chatted it up for a couple of hours, and I drove home, got lost and ended up in Manotick, and I somehow made it home, so the day was OK.

Uh oh!

Uh oh!


Cheap...

Cheap...


Diefenbunker

Diefenbunker


Melamine!

Melamine!


I liked this.

I liked this.


Spooky tunnel

Spooky tunnel


Bruised leg

Bruised leg


View from my office

View from my office

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)