The last two are some of the fading Greek gods on the Danforth sides a couple of years ago. For more of them check out my post from last year The Old Gods Are Fading – https://topoet.ca/2022/11/06/the-old-gods-are-fading
For the first time my local stretch of the Danforth – from Greenwood to Coxwell – participated in Nuit Blanche. There was nothing between Greenwood & Linnsmore. In fact there was no Blanche on the southside of Danforth until one got to the Roberston Parkette where there was a long set of tables for an early scrabble game.
The bulk of the action was along the north side – with musicians, window displays & lots of people taking photographs.
Once again Sandra Cardinal has put together an excellent, eclectic ensemble of features for Racket at the Rocket. After a couple of open stagers she kicked off the show with true story filled with tasty details ‘roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, & trifle for dessert’ that was a reflection on her childhood & recently reconnecting with her Australian cousins. Family ‘secrets’ kept the sides so apart she didn’t even know she had an Australia branch until the death of her grandfather. Seems one of the family secrets was how ‘I love you,’ never got spoken.
All the ‘e’s’ in my opening is a nod to first feature Adam Abbas, whose work makes ample use of alliteration, sprung rhyme, & assonance to propel it along. His new pieces are fine ‘I can’t save you/if you have more problems than me.’ I have heard his older pieces from his book A State A Statue A Statute, but much like a Brugel painting reveals new moments, the rush of Adam’s images allow each listening to find new connections and meanings to keep them sounding fresh.
Next feature Merle Amodeo read from her book ‘After Love’ – a look at the various stages of love from the first rush ‘because of you/I asked my hairdresser/for copper highlights’; to uncertainty: ‘sorry about the call I made late last night.’ to misery & separation: ‘everything is disposable.’
double curves a head
She was followed by Norman Cristofoli who started his set as he walked through the audience to the stage. His writing is simple, direct, personal yet highly relatable. Vivid images abound ‘rewriting the ten commandments,’ ‘every snake leaves something behind,’ ‘drinking the tears of an ancient sorrow.’ He is clearly not someone who ‘fears the potential of his ideas.’
curve on ice
Final feature Vanessa Salazar brought us into the present day with her strong pieces about gender politics, images and age. ‘how to write a bio on a gender neutral page.’ The struggle against being judged solely based on one facet of your person: age, race, gender is one she articulated well.
Needless to say the Red Rocket Cafe is a great spot for this series – great carrot cake, great service & a freshly shorn John always add to the show.
Besides The Basement Tapes (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-18Y) I read this:
if I say what I mean
will you hear what I say
or what you want to hear me say
even I don’t say it
if you hear what I say
will it be what I want you to understand
or will you merely understand
what you want to understand
can I be so clear
there is no doubt about my intention
can you comprehend my intent
while you wonder when I’ll be done
so you can take that piss you’ve been
putting off where is that waitress
who is that hottie over there
are they looking at you
why do I care if you listen understand
I don’t even listen to myself
I wonder what’s going to be on TV
is my cell phone on off on vibrate
do I care that you don’t care
do I want to be understood
or are you going over your piece
so that all you care about
is me getting out of your way
so you can do what I didn’t do so well
hold the audience in the palm of your hand
for a few slippery minutes
or are you
inspired by what I said
about not wanting to be understood
a chain of images in your head
that you have to write down
mine flowing over your knuckles
as you search out something deeper that I missed
about the tautological connection
between want need getting forgetting
getting to the washroom
to find out some jack ass
has pissed all over the seat
now what do you do
you can’t blame me
when that happened I was up here
trying to hold your attention for a few slippery minutes
give you a glimpse of things
that I don’t quite grasp myself
because I’m not sure if I mean it
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
Someone asked me if I ever listen to modern music, which means radio/video pop. If I do that way it is by accident, but most likely by someone on my Tumblr feed posting a video or sound clip by a band they like. If I like it I may buy it. These are some bands/performers I’ve recently added to my collection:
pick up sticks
A track by I Monster came up in my Tumblr feed: it had the feel of Avalanches/Lemon Jelly/Moby. Sample happy with fun, soul, and smooth flow. Mostly instrumental, lots of sweet synth work & danceable beats. Great cover art too. I have & totally love: Neveroddoreven; A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars.
A jazzier version of I Monster is MRF. Less sample & more actual musician work – focus is piano & sax with lots of excellent sultry soulful stuff. Fine vocals, some good jazz cuts, a dash of rap. A tres gay video for Trying (posted on Tumblr) from their 2nd release sold me instantly – two handsome bear type men looking for an emotional connection. I have Elevator Music; Mob Music.
MRF slips nearly unnoticed into Mark Ronson. This I know is radio fodder dance stuff and goes down sweetly & makes for great writing tempo music. I have Version; Uptown Special
Now for something different: Black Rivers with their first release Black Rivers. This is an offshoot of one of my favourite British bands, Doves, & is sonically very similar, with a bit for electronic in the mix. Strong vocals, great guitar work. This is what I’d call alternative adult pop. Capturing & emotionally resonant.
Kate Pierson isn’t new to the scene. perhaps you remember her & that voice from the B52’s? Guitars and Microphones is a great return to the music world – not that she’s actually been gone. Not as retro as the B52’s but as playful and energizing plus she still has those pipes.
My favourite coffee shop posted a twitter link to Flight Facilities. I gave them a listen: a great electronic dance band. A bit moody, a la Goldie, with a bit of Chicane for a more uptempo feeling. Down To Earth slips in easily with this set of recordings.
Finally another throw back with Jimmy Somerville’s new Homage. The voice is angelic, the music is throw back old school disco: strings, bongos, but the lyrics are new school. This one should have come with a complimentary disco ball it is so perfectly old school. I’m a fan.
I don’t want to admit
that I think of you all the time
my day is made when you call
when you say
it’s so good to hear your voice
I want to kiss you over the phone
maybe we should take
our lips puckered
so that when we talk
we can see each other
so ready willing needing
to kiss the other
is that romantic
or pathetically over-the-top
not that I care
because that’s how I feel
but please no pictures
of what I can’t have at the moment
it’s frustrating enough
to only hear you
when I want so to hold you
I know you know
how I feel
because I hold so little back
except I don’t want to admit
that I think about you all the time
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
Racket returned to the Rocket with another eclectic lineup of strong spoken-word performers. Host Sandra Cardinal started things off with a romantic prom about the durability of love. After another couple of open-stagers first feature Dan Curtis Thompson did a section of his one-man show Consonance about recovering for a toxic relationship – at 26 most of the house was old enough to be his parents – & even if some missed cultural references they certainly got the timeless emotional resonance of being afraid to fall in love like that again.
I will turn myself into a spoon
Next up was Deborah Kimmett. She quickly had an easy rapport with the audience. Her humour was direct, observational & highly relatable. From resisting that smile back in her doctor’s waiting room as it will lead to hearing all about someone else’s medical condition to her memories of growing up in the late 60’s. She read a few sections for her recent novel Outrunning Crazy.
After the break Dawna Wightman did a short monologue from her one-woman play in which a nervous actress auditions for the role of a Chicken MacNugget. Funny, tot he point & satisfying enough I want to see the whole piece someday.
it’s all under the surface
Last feature was Nina Kaye. A playwright trying out he reported chops with some good pieces about on line dating. Clear-eyed and not melodramatic work that reminded me that on-line dating plays out the same way regardless of age, gender or sexuality. Everyone seems to wait for the phone ring.
hats off to an early spring
A great start to the new year for Racket at the Rocket. Next month’s show will be hosted by Dan Curtis Thompson. Also congratulations to the Red Rocket for celebrating 3 years at this location. They’ve made a place for themselves in the lives of people in the neighbourhood by being more than a coffee shop.
I did hit the open stage with ‘pillow for your heart’ which is here http://wp.me/p1RtxU-11a – here’s another spoon poem:
The Unsatisfied Spoon
is looking at you
I tell by the gleam
in its bowl
it’s been looking at you
ever since we came into the room
since we sat at this table
you knew that
that’s why you picked this table
you were going to meet the spoon
you wanted it in your hand
in your mouth
the way you used to want me
in your hand
in your mouth
don’t deny it
that spoon wants you
it’s the only reason we are here
it doesn’t matter
everywhere we go
that wants to be in your hands
in your mouth
you let it happen
you invite it
I can’t sleep at night
thanks to you
thanks to the way
you let yourself be desired
by anyone who looks at you
even if they don’t look at you the way I do
the way that spoon does
I see your smile reflect in the bowl
even before you pick it up
before you stir your coffee
bring it to your lips
to sip a bit of the sweetness
giving it the sweetness of your mouth
you do it just to drive me crazy
you flaunt the spoon’s affection for you
you satisfy it again & again
before my very eyes
I hate the spoon
I hate the day it was die cast
it’s because of the spoon
that I can never let you out of my sight
never let you dine alone
to avoid dreams of you
seeing spoons behind my back
using them casually
then tossing them aside
to grab for the next one
they are never satisfied
to be in your hand
in your mouth
the way I would be
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
I can’t say this luge lunge to Christmas is my favourite time of the year. One cannot avoid the season though. Sad events become even sadder in the face of the festive. Cynical grips about commercialism won’t stop that from happening. Humbugging is pointless. One can’t stop the this sleigh ride but I can chose how to respond to it.
My favourite part of the season is lighting. People do things to their homes that would make a drag queen blush. I take night walks to enjoy what people have done to their homes. The lights are, to me, the true spirit of giving.
They are there for anyone who takes the time to look. A free gift to me, I’m not the one paying their power bill. They get put up with the main thought being seen. Some people go overboard. TV has managed to turn it into a game show but most people don’t truly compete, they merely want to sparkle & share.
The lights are offered without judgments about who the seers are going to be. I doubt if the homeowners stand by the window making note of who looks, or stand ready to shut them off if that jerk up the street dares to even glance at them.
When I do my light tours I don’t judge – I like it all. Overdone, under done, doesn’t matter; not done – well not everyone gets into it, without the dark there is no contrast – such is life. My lighting isn’t all that spectacular – windows and such but it satisfies me to see it when I get home at night. My favourite lights here are the ones on our back porch – not for public viewing to the same degree as the ones out front. But I love looking at them at night & early in the morning. I’m sure the people in the houses along our laneway enjoy them too. Plus a few have started to do their own back porch lighting.
From a series of Dolly Dinty About Town
Festive readers, I am pleased to bring you a wrap up of the week-end’s events. The highlight of which has to be the annual Lighting of the Trees. Held in several locations in the hills about Crab Apple Corners the horizon is illuminated by the first official rite of the season.
I choose to attend the ceremony at Hijil’s Farm – they had obtained two of the remaining stand of ancient red wood sycamores and had them flown in for the occasion. Trees so large they needed two helicopters to carry each of them.
The first flame was applied to them by our local Miss Pig Driver, Tanis-Lotus Flatly. The trees did us the great honour of being slow to ignite, but once they had been engulfed in flames the look of joy in the faces of the children was worth the wait.
Once these two trees were in flames, burning torches were taken to the sites where other trees were ready for the ceremony. The Great Maple at McCracken’s of Daw Hill was the next to be torched and quickly one could see similar fires all across the country side. Hijil’s Farm perched atop Green Bluffs gave us a splendid view of the various tributes to the season.
Once the first two trees had been burnt to cinders our parish Vicar Father Frank did The Grinding and was quickly joined by the other men who were of age, to participate in this ritual.
I was thrilled to be offered by my one and only Hank Grebly the fruits of his grinding. A jar filled with these delicate ashes and moose fat can sit proudly on any mantle piece. There will be enough here to guarantee me a year of fertility and good weather. After all, it only takes a pinch a day, tossed into the wind to catch the eye of the spirits for protection.
The carolling at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral was once again a thrill, especially now that the bells have almost been tuned. The climax of each verse is a ringing of these bells that echoes though our happy valley and shimmers through the fragrant smoke produced by the Lighting of the Trees.
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
The November edition of Makin’ A Racket at the Rocket was a warm respite from the chilly night. Even without Deborah Kimmett, who bowed out due to illness, there was more than enough talent on stage with excellent (& a couple of perfectly raunchy) open stages and features.
First up was extreme east-ender Greg Santos (http://about.me/greg.santos) from Montreal who read from his recent book Rabbit Punch. After his train trip here where he was ‘motionless in my seat/I chase the moon’ he read a set of fun, sometimes tender pieces filled with pop culture references from the Green Lantern to Taylor Swift to Daffy Duck.
In Hansel and Gretel – the children aren’t cast out by evil parents but ‘lured by their own desires/we were ready to die for love.’ His final piece tagged movie title with ‘We’ – ‘We The Wild Bunch, We Walking Tall etc’ After his train poems I expected ‘We Trainspotting.’
Next up was Valentino Assenza (http://valentinoassenza.wordpress.com) . I’ve seen Val many times but it has been a couple years since hearing a full set. He stands and delivers, his set was almost a master class in how to take the stage without being overbearing. Confident and precise he had the audience following every mood of his pieces.
The poems were emotionally resonant and hight relatable. Strong images – in Archer: ‘a life time spent making a mark.’ In memories of childhood summers at his father’s tobacco shop in Italy: ‘the sign says we speak English/but they never do,’ ‘the echoes of smoke/that was once blown here.’ Memory pieces enriched by the use of Italian. His slam experience surfaces with a fine sonic word play ‘bebops of bliss bouncing off buildings.’
The night ended with a fun short play by host Sandra Cardinal. ‘Graveyard Shift’ in which a phone solicitor has the tables turned in an unnerving way. A neat effect very Twilight Zonesque piece to end a great night at Red Rocket.
i did not know that
this is the first time
that out to me
all these years
and this is the first time
anyone has taken the time
to explain that to me
i can’t imagine
how i got along all this time
no i’m not being facetious
or saying that what you told me
was so trivial
it was never worth
my time finding out
that it never dawned on me
things will be a lot easier
now that i know
i wasn’t in denial
i was merely never informed
like a blind man
who never knows what color he is
it,s all about whats relevant
and I’m certainly grateful for you
pointing out to me
that it appears most people
it’s not as if we get taught
what we really need to know in school
which is where i was taught
the ignorance is bliss
and now my bliss is over
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
Racket returned to the Rocket for a third season of eclectic spoken word with a fine fall line-up of novelists & poets hosted by Sandra Cardinal. She opened the show with a couple of autumnal poems.
I know first feature Sharon Crawford (http://www.samcraw.com) from her excellent monthly writers workshop (checker her web page for more info). She gave a ready-for-audio-book reading of excerpt from her short stories & her novel (launched Oct 19.14). From the tribulations of getting a body into a car trunk ‘she should have removed the golf clubs first, to evidence of adultery ‘she dangled the leopard print bra as if the spots were anthrax.’ The humour of the stories was evident but not at the expense of the suspense.
Next up was poetry feature, Norman Allen. I’ve heard Norman countless times; as well as having heard some of the pieces he read many times but they are like welcome friends who reveal greater depth each time you meet them. ‘the deal God made the Devil’, ‘this side of Atlantis we put on flesh’, ‘you don’t bow down to love/ you open your heart.’ His work is warm and spiritually grounded & lifting at the same time. (http://www.normanallan.com/Lit/introLit.html)
you can’t rake me
Last feature Nick Pengelley (http://www.nicholaspengelley.com) discussed and read from his novel ‘Ryder’ that deals with the politics of the middle east (who knew that situation was caused by the film Lawrence of Arabia – just kidding – but his interest was partly inspired by the film). He read the first chapter which flowed easily while giving us back story, not only of the main character, but the climate of the times. It skillfully lead to a chapter ending that made me want to read the rest of the book, even though the politics don’t interest me at all.
I did hit the open stage to plug my Noir feature & read one of the new pieces. It got a reaction exactly where I expected it to & turned the tables on the audience just as I hoped it would. A fine night, an appreciative house, a cup of peppermint tea & the Rocket’s excellent pumpkin loaf – who could ask for anything more.
The Devil’s Dimple
even the Devil started as a baby
sweet fresh innocent
everyone found his dimples so cute
‘whose the sweetest little baby
snookum I ever saw’
when he crushed the souls of millions
he found himself unfulfilled and empty
adulation and accomplishment
left him disappointed and bitter
unsure of himself
unable to figure out
what was wrong with him
he had the cutest dimples
why wasn’t he content
with what everyone promised
would make him happy
things that made him feel cluttered
pushed having to accomplish
some new depth of evil
wasn’t it enough
that he was Evil itself
why did he have to keep on proving it
why couldn’t they leave him alone
he looked the mirror
‘I hate these fucking dimples
why was I ever born’
he took it out on the people
who pushed him
to be everything he could be
the greater the pain he felt in him
the greater the pain he had to inflict
he had no way of discarding his identity
no fresh start for Satan
no botox injections for Lucifer
to remove the source
of his eternal infernal damnation
his God given dimples
Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr
More Pride month queer pop. Another mp3 collection: Johnnie Ray: High Drama, Live in London; Justin Paige: Justin; Rough Trade: Avoid Freud, O Tempura; Pink Flamingos: Soundtrack; Pansy Division: More Lovin’ From Our Oven, Total Entertainment; Huggy Bear: Taking the Rough With The Smooch; QBoy: Moxie
A panorama of history starting with Johnnie Ray: an early 50’s crooner on his way to the top thanks to Cry – nearly huge till he was caught in a washroom with the wrong man & his career was ruined. A sad story that deserves a movie soon. The music is standard & listenable.
Justin Paige – is a Toronto performer I know nothing about. With songs that mention the Parkside, talk about Kay Y Kuties & Tea Room Tramps we are in full out mode here – I bought this Lp in early 80’s & was thrilled with it. A bar-room rocker in Joe Cocker style he was doomed – gays want to dance & not be teased about being a ‘Steam Queen.’ If anyone knows more about Justin get in touch.
Rough Trade – icons of the first order – I remember hearing High School Confidential the first time – I played the Lp grey & bought another copy. Carol Pope ruled. She even performed a show with Divine – who appears on the cover the Pink Flamingos soundtrack – a movie I remember fondly.
Pansy Division brought a whole new energy to queer pop with their vibrant, fun & out there songs. From ‘I’m Gonna Be A Slut’ they make no bones about being queer guys who like queer guys. Power pop of the first order with humor, emotion & romance.
Huggy Bear is queer art rock, experimental and fun. QBoy is electonica dance music – high energy, socially aware & beautifully produced, but lacking, shall we say identity – it could be any electronica guy but with a bit more queer content.
I held my hand under the shower head. Warm, close to the hot I enjoyed. I heard a faint burr over the gush of water. Telephone. A sound I couldn’t ignore once I’d heard it , it was the call of the telephone’s demand to be answered. I just hoped it wasn’t Dan ducking out on dinner, again.
“May ah shpeak to Fazadi?” A confident male voice asked.
Nuts! I hated that. Bad enough the phone would ring while I tried to get ready for my date but it had to be a wrong number.
“I’m sorry you’ve reached the wrong number.” I never did understand why I had to apologize when someone else made the mistake.
“Such is whrong numba?” Came through the receiver followed by a rapid slur of anxious words I didn’t understand.
I repeated slower, “You have reached the incorrect number. There is no Fraladi at this number.’
‘“I lokshin for Fazadi not Fraladi. Fazadi is there. No?” He sounded less confident.
“No. There is no Fazadi here. You have … what number are you trying to reach.” I could hear my shower. All that hot water down the drain.
“Seize none fie sixe fo fo none.” The man on the other end of the line said rapidly.
I didn’t understand what he said but I didn’t want to confuse him even more or have him feel I was making fun of him by having him repeat the numbers.
“That is not this number. I have to go now.” Why did I feel like directory assistance? I was even using that slightly pleasant tone they used. “Please hang up and try your call again.”
“Wait! Wait sirrah. Pleasche you tell mes right numba?” There was genuine panic in his voice.
“You have the right number but you must have dialed it wrong.” I looked around for something to pull over me, as if my not being nude would help me help him.
‘Dhialled? You men I pooshh boottons.”
“Right. You pushed the wrong buttons. Try again.”
“You heelp me. Pleasche I not shure now if I do right.”
Help? How could I help this man? All I could hear was the crawl of street traffic behind him and my hot water heater empty.
“Try the operator. Just push zero and someone will help you. Good bye.”
I hung up before he could reply, got into the shower where I ignored phone as it started to ring again.
Nuts! Cold water.