Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Case of the Holidays

Saturday 7:00 pm (or some time not unlike 7:00 pm)

The plane shakes, intensifying your headache. You feel strange and sober and immediately depressed.

Two hours ago you arrived at the Winnipeg airport to an unruly line-up of irritable holiday travelers who had no doubt come directly from returning their Christmas presents at the nearest Wal-Mart location.

An airport worker gives four passengers permission to cut you in line. As the last woman passes you, you mutter under your breath, “This is why you show up to the airport on time.” Your sister insists this makes the woman cry. You feel no remorse.

The worker then informs you that your flight has been delayed and you will not be able to make your connection. She smiles and offers to put you on a flight the next afternoon. You give her a hateful glare and tell her it will be a snowy day in hell before that happens. Your family is embarrassed.

Eventually you agree to spend the night in the Montreal airport, waiting for a red eye flight back home. On the plane you are irritated to be sitting next to the fattest woman on the aircraft, until you discover that she is funny. You are momentarily cheery. All fat people should be funny.

An overbearing man in a worn Boston Bruins hooded sweatshirt is grumbling behind you. He swears (to no one in particular) that he is never returning to Winnipeg for Christmas again. You silently appreciate his sentiment and hope the floor of the Montreal airport is comfortable.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dorothy, we're not on Queen St. Anymore.

Last week I quietly slipped onto a bus with a plane ticket neatly tucked into the front pocket of my bag and made my way to the airport.

A week later, I've let my blogging duties slip. But you can't blame a guy for taking some time to catch up with the life he once lived.
Since making the prodigal's return to Manitoba, I've sipped beers, smoked shisha, and caused as much trouble as possible celebrating friends both new and old.

With Christmas morning now making its inevitable appearance, I'm starting to get worn out, ready for my own bed in my own condo back in the city that has firmly become home number two.

With a new ticket to Paris arriving in my e-mail inbox this morning, I'm in debt, and happy.

Merry Christmas.

Oh, and My dad rules, hard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newsprint fingers.

As an underemployed writer pursuing an education to work in a rapidly disappearing industry, I am on one of the lowest rungs of the impending recession.

To pinch an invisible penny I spent the afternoon wrapping gifts in a newspaper I picked up for free. Each gift is wrapped in the recipient's favourite section. My mother: life, my father: sports and my sister: the crosswords.

If the economic situation gets any worse, I may have to stop taking Mondays off and actually go into the office. Until then I'll continue to spend my days waking up late and having coffee dates with Toronto's most quote-able "fringe-hipster."

That or I'll start a prescription pill addiction, like everyone else. God bless the holidays.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is my reaction to being punched. This is Zach's reaction to my being punched. Circa 2004.

Boys Night Out-I got punched in the nose for sticking my face in other people's business is the first song I'm putting on my playlist for my trip home. I plan to listen to each song in a very specific place in Manitoba. This band put out two terrible records, but recorded two very specific great songs that bring back amazing memories.

Long titles that don't-mean-anything-but-sort-of-mean-a-lot please me. They remind me of the days before Ashlee Simpson had heard of Fall Out Boy. Also, this title is special because it actually happened to me.

In high school I made a girl cry one night when I had been drinking and didn't think much of it. A few days later her boyfriend found me and forcefully shoved his knuckles into my face. It wasn't until my friend threatened him with a skateboard that he backed off. I was stunned the entire time; I hadn't even set down my beer. But I learned an important lesson that day: make friend's with anyone who skateboards.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My December, two thousand and eight.

The days blend together sleepily between solitary late breakfasts and compliments in the work place.

You are a Decemberist. In the winter things change, but not too quickly.

At work, new furniture has been purchased in a colour scheme reminiscent of the IKEA furniture that was all you could afford to put in you're home. It's still all you can afford.

But as you remind the cashier in the smoke shop, things could be worse. You are thankful when someone else cooks you dinner. You only drink when you can sleep in, and every morning you wake up uncharacteristically well rested. It's about time.

So you take the phone off the hook, put the plane ticket on the table and stare at the ceiling. The ceiling is very pretty, in its own way.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Puck Fuck?

The NHL just got a little bit sleazier.

At my high school, the hockey players got all the girls. Despite their missing teeth, scarred faces and tendency to shower with other men, they had their pick of the ladies. Girls with bleach blond hair and the sluttiest snowboots money can buy flocked to games in hopes that they would be the girl chosen to spend the night drinking Coors Light with whoever was at center ice.

Most of the guys who played hockey for my high school team have long since gotten chubby, grown bad goatees and found jobs at gas stations. But for a few lucky hockey stars, the good times continue to the major leagues, where they ditch their old puck bunnies and date b-list celebrities.

Sean Avery is the Dallas Stars resident bad boy. Ed Belfour used to be the team's
troublemaker, who coincidently did go to my high school, before I ever attended. During his days as a Star, Belfour caused enough chaos to inspire the phrase "Goin' Belfour"; as in: JR has had about 8 drinks so far...he's goin' Ed Belfour.

Recently, Avery has easily outdone Belfour's legacy. Before facing off against the Calgary Flames, and his latest arch nemesis, Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, Avery decided to have a quick chat with the press.

Avery called out Phaneu, who is dating his ex-girlfriend and fellow Canadian, Elisha Cuthbert. Before dating Phaneu, the former Girl Next Door was linked to Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens. Avery decided he had had enough.

Facing the cameras, Avery spewed, "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.

This is exactly the type of excitement the NHL needs if it wants to attract viewers south of the border, where most of its teams play. But in true Canadian tradition Don Cherry got his plaid pants in a twist and the league slapped Avery with an indefinite suspension for the comments.

Which serves as a reminder: gentlemen, this isn't high school anymore.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'll trust anyone with a kitten.

Whether you support the villainous tyrant with the beady eyes, think the Francophones are crybabies, dream of taking the Via Rail with Elizabeth May or are trying to grow a mustache to rival that of Jack Layton, one thing is certain.

This is not about any of them. It's not about men in over-priced and under-styled suits or women whose heels tap as they walk down the long hallways ontop Parliament Hill.

It's about you.

So find your MP, shoot them an e-mail, and let them know what you think.

Participating in a democracy is like having sex with the government. If you let them do it alone, it'll just be a bunch of politicians jerking off.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Good Times Are Killing Me.

You never know who is going to show up to a Broken Social Scene show.

It has been six years since the so-called "indie supergroup" released You Forgot It In People, five years since I first heard Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl in a car ride on a lonely road off Lake Huron and four years since I saw them play for the first time, at LeRendezvous, a club in Winnipeg's French quarters that I'm told has long since been plowed down and redeveloped.

Since then I have skipped numerous BSS tours, all but wrote off the slew of solo albums and tucked the old BSS disc next to Feist's Let It Die in the section of my music collection labeled "mostly for when I'm hanging out with mum".

Then last night I found myself in an over-crowded over-sized music hall with large screens lining the walls, playing the concert in real-time (admittedly more high tech than my beloved LeRendezvous), at yet another Broken Social Scene show. But even stuffed into a crowd of people who were all easily one-head taller than me, Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and their pack of superstar, indie darling friends, reminded why I loved Broken Social Scene so much.

Mr. Isaac Brock took to the stage , even squeezing some Modest Mouse tracks into the set. Former Winnipeger Julie Penner lent her violin skills and Emily Haines looked surprisingly happy as she provided the vocals for several tracks, including Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl.

I felt like my wide-eyed summer of 2004 all over again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recent politics have suggested that everything we thought we knew was wrong. But against an economic meltdown and a major shift in global power, and in a time of complete uncertainty, one thing remains completely unchanged: the relevancy of the lyrics to Bob Dylan's the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tonight over ribs, mashed potatoes, nachos, macaroni, chicken wings, cake and pie we had what is possibly the most offensive, insensitive and un-politically correct argument.

I know you've all had it.

Which is worse: Breast Cancer or Prostate cancer.

In this type of argument, everyone looses. But you have to participate. Everything you say makes you look like a jerk, even when you're right.

Here is the description of prostate cancer:
Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. It is the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra just below the bladder.

This is a terrible argument, so I won't say which side I was on. But if you're in seven guys with a painful extra walnut down under, I salute you.
There are some places cell phones should not go.

I'm at the library and I've just finished an iced tea. I'm trying to convince myself that if I give Microsoft Word the evil eye for long enough, the end of my essay will suddenly appear and I will be able to go home.

My cursor blinks twice. Nothing. It's time for a break.

I head to the washroom to unload the iced tea. As I push the door open I can hear a loud conversation. When I turn around the corner I realize the guy talking on his cell phone. It's the middle of the day, at the library, not the Beaconsfield where the washrooms are clearly designated for sex and drug-use.

I head into the stall, so that I can flush, sending a message across the phone line that yes, this asshole is in a public washroom. When I leave, I press the hand dryer, twice.

I hope whoever he's talking to is questioning their friendship.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

At just under three million inhabitants, Toronto is a tiny city.

At 5PM every day the skyscrapers leaks commuters towards Union station, banishing them back to the "GTA", and forcing those of us who actually sleep in the downtown bubble to bump into strangers with familiar faces. Even in a city of three million, we all know the same people.

This hit me today as I was downing sesame chicken with a friend on a "business" lunch date and swapping horror stories of our most recent social mishaps. 

Once we got past our mutual friends not-so-secret sex lives and the layoffs hitting our workplaces, the talk turned to a certain socialite's slimy side-kick. 

The line tried on me: "Do you work in retail?", which translates roughly to "I used to eat New York Fries in the mall and watch you from afar"

My comrade wasn't so lucky, receiving a swift hand towards a private body part in a very public place. 

After enduring awkward come-ons in isolation, we came to the realization we'd both been macked on by the same downtown dweller. ("The one with the really long face?", "Yes! Exactly!!")

I think it's time to move, or get a new dating pool. At this point, I'm considering lesbians an option.

Any takers ladies?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The second phase of Hope.

Here's the new Shepard Fairey poster, a statement on Prop 8. It's no iconic Obama, but I'm a fan. It's the last thing I'll post on American politics this week, I promise.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear John McCain:

I'm writing to let you know I think we can still be friends. It's not that people don't like you, it's that they don't want you to be president. You were funny on Letterman and your concession speech was earnest, tactful and humble.

Hat's off Mr. McCain, you're a likable man.

And I'm sorry to hear about you're wife. If you're feeling lonely, give me a shout.

I'll buy the drinks.
Dear 5:30 am: please stop tempting me.

There's a difference between not being able to sleep, and not wanting to sleep. I've spent the past few nights staring at my ceiling, pressing my eyelids together as hard as possible and praying for sleep to hit.

Tonight, no more.

I'm staying up. I conned friends into one drink at the bar and turned it into an all nighter, complete with take-out chinese, fresh coffee and the odd grunt across a kitchen table to complain about our abstract essay topics.

7 pages letter, my eyes are wandering off the computer and onto the couch. I'm ready for the best two hours of sleep I'll have all week.

Happy Thursday,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Working Girl.

Her hair is stiff from too many dye jobs and is tucked under a floppy, oversized hat.
Caked on make-up circles her eyes, which are too large and full of wonder to be set on an adult face.
Her breasts are big enough to raise eyebrows, but too perky to be fake.

After all these years, I secretly wish she ended up a whore.

Oh, and go see Filth & Wisdom.

Monday, November 10, 2008

When winter inevitably sets in, we'll listen to the Beach Boys and wear floral indoors.

Friday, November 07, 2008

An open letter to someone who may or may not be Owen Pallett.

Dear Owen,

I know that when I showed up to see your band play last week with your haircut, it seemed like I was copying you. I promise it was an honest coincidence. When I saw you last summer and had the same haircut as you then... that was also a coincidence.

Anyways, I just wanted to say that I think that your music is, you know, pretty good. My roommate went to see you speak and said you sound a bit like a pretentious jerk. Don't worry, people say that about me, too. And I like that you made up a universe in your head. I do things like that too.

The point I'm trying to make here is that when winter hits and people stop going to the park, we can go there together and drink wine from the bottle and shiver. I mean, if your into that kind of thing, that is.

If you're reading this, consider it an invitation. And if you are weired out, and want to hate me from a distance, that's cool too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Last night people were screaming from their balconies. Drivers were honking their horns. Pedestrians were smiling as they passed strangers on the sidewalk. And people were dancing in Dundas Square, two large flags waving in unison above the crowd. There were painted faces, baked cakes, empty glasses, and an unmistakable sound of silent excitement as people perhaps too young to understand the full importance of what was happening gathered around a television set to hear the three words their generation had few reasons to believe in.

A thick baritone voice brought the same silent excitement to a crowd of people in Chicago. People who had reason enough to be cynical, but chose to believe.

In places like California, hope was overshadowed by hate. There is, after all, danger in investing all of your hope into a single idea. But as one man crossed one stage there was reason for millions of people, in millions of places, to be believe that anything can happen.

yes, we can.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A good old who-dun-it

We dressed up as great moments in rock and roll history. The sleep in. The day the music died. The first official band-aid. We insisted on staying in character. And instead of heading for our usual haunts, we traded in our dancing shoes for a dark-lit dive bar, and seats close to the stage.

But at a certain point we realized our beds were more comfortable than bar stools, our own washrooms are the safest place to pee and as far as this Halloween thing goes, sex is better than chocolate.

Though some of us fell asleep at an hour we counted early, the morning cab ride home felt better with a head freshly rested and full of coffee.

I'll leave you with a (very) short film featuring my favourite Charlie. Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

There will be blood.

One minute I'm partying in an airport on an island and the next I'm face first on the concrete sidewalk. After nearly a week of questions and stares, here's the real story: I tripped and fell. That's why my face looks like it does. I wish I had a better story, but I don't.

Let this be a lesson to you kids: don't drink and walk.

Who knew hospitals had interns? I owe this guy my face.

My solution? The first bus to Montreal, where even a bloody nose seems like fun.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anyone want to join?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cartwheels and Catwalks

Nothing is as tell tale as a hopping out of a cab and walking into your building at 9 am with bedhead and a bow tie the size of your face sticking out of your jacket pocket. Fortunately for me, my doorman usually just smiles and shakes his head.

After enduring a long wait in an overcrowded club at last night's Betsey Show, this evening I committed a new plan for the night's runway shows: just shows, no parties.

I caught up on my readings, through on a tie, and headed to the tents for Andy The Anh and Joe Fresh. When Joe Mimran took his final bow and closed the evening, my eyes shot towards the exit. I quickly said goodbye to my boys in the photography pit, kissed the closest pretty girl on both cheeks and slipped out the door.

At home I slipped into my own personal fashion favourite: jersey cotton. I made a bowl of tomato soup and sat up in bed reading a preview of Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Life, is good.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Overheard last night in the tents:

"Are you two designers or something? You look like Dean and Dan."

Ok... by overheard I mean, was said... to me. This was said to me and my accomplice as we sipped wine, eyed hor derves and tried (unsuccessfully) to downplay the fact that we were wearing matching outfits. 

Friends and strangers alike smiled and insisted on taking our photo. No one would believe the matching was an unfortunate mistake. 

We did the only thing that one can do in this type of situation: each of us took another sip of wine and started compiling a mental list of reasons why he was the better looking twin. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dear October,

I'm sorry. It's not that I'm ignoring you. I'm out watching the leaves change, and making the best of the weather.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vote Or Die.

On my walk to a late lunch this afternoon, I came across this poster. Disheartened, I took it down and put it in my bag as a pit-stop before it hit the trash bin. This serves as another reminder to vote tomorrow. You can bet whoever took the time to slap this hate up on a telephone poll will take the time to slip into a voting booth. If you don't vote, think about who your handing the power over to.

Oh, and happy thanksgiving.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tying the (not).

Bow ties, fairy tales, Oscar Wilde and late night phone calls are among the things that make life worth living.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lights will guide you (somewhere).

Nuit Blanche was the type of party where all anyone would talk about was the next party they were going to. It was a friendlier, more convenient backdrop for the Saturday night gutters of parking lots.

As I was quietly scribbling in a notebook on a bench in the back of a gallery, a young boy came up to me and asked me, "Are you an artist?"

It summed up everything.

"No, sorry."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Drunk Goggles.

It's not wise to enter the Drake Hotel without a buzz. Actually, it's usually not wise to enter the Drake at all. But the groan inducing business-class hipster hotel isn't all bad. It has a delicious brunch menu and a tendency to shower its favourite guests with mysterious drink tickets.

And every once an a while, the Drake underground hosts an undeniably good party. Last night VLSonN spun with The Ghost Is Dancing. Downing a tallcan, I pushed passed the overzealous bouncers and ignored the ill fitting blazers and f-me pumps in the front lounge.

I drank Redstripe downstairs until suddenly we were the only ones left dancing and the bartenders were giving us pouty "go-home" eyes. As I stumbled onto the streetcar and watched the hotel disappear out the back window, it looked charming and slick, if only under my veil of intoxication.

Oh, and Odie is definitely a briefs guy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The future is now.

Fashion is cyclical. What is chic now won't be soon, that much is obvious. In an effort to be on continuously on the cusp of something new, designers are constantly re-inventing what's old. 

Every decade channels another. The challenge is to nuance old trends into new ones. But with so much emphasis on revamping and renewing old trends, designers often forget they can create new looks that aren't just a nod to the past. 

If everyone else is terrified of the future, Gareth Pugh is unafraid. Pugh opened Paris Fashion Week with a bold, clean collection in black-and-white. The collection's sharp edges won't flatter on the street the way they do on the runway and nothing about the heavy, two-toned line said spring. But the utopian viewpoint from which Pugh designs is startlingly refreshing. Or maybe that's the Modernist nostalgia kicking in.

And I said what about "Breakfast at Tiffany's?
She said, "I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

Monday, September 29, 2008

As a general philosophy,
the one who exploits themself the most wins.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday nights at the office.
(and or what I love/hate about my job)

Thursdays have always been special to me. First they were TV dates with my best friend in high school, then they were Mod Night at the Pyramid Cabaret and now they are the evening of magazine production.

It's 7:45 pm and I'm at work. Until noon, I had no plans of coming in today. But last minute, I had to come in to re-work a story that had been slipped off the editing table until this afternoon, just a few hours before the next issue goes to print. 

As much as I would rather be spending the time drinking with my friends, I don't mind sticking around the office. Here's why:

1. They order me food- A buffalo chicken wrap is scheduled to show up at my cubicle any minute, via Lettuce eatery. What more could a hungry young writer ask for? 

2. The down time- I spent three or four hours digging up extra info to plug into my latest story. Now my editor is going over the piece. That means that until he's done, I have two computers, endless racks of magazines and 100 years of archives to entertain me. It's a nerds paradise. 

3. The crunch- It's embarrassing but I find deadlines exciting. Scrambling to get all the right words in the right places, making the copy fit and finding art to match the story before the printer comes to pick up the copy is like being a runner in a race for geeks. 

4. The emptiness- I work in a huge complex that's usually crawling with security guards, HR reps in crisp pantsuits and loud heels and sports broadcasters in freshly pressed suits. At this time of night, they're all long gone, and I'm not subjected to any elevator talk-it's just me and my iPod-and that's the way I like it. 

5. The built-in excuse- I'm too tired for the parties I promised I would attend, but I don't have to pick up my phone. I'm at work. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Night of the Living Ex.

By some cosmic turn of events, nearly everyone I spoke to on Saturday was planning on hanging out with their ex. One former couple was having a movie night, another was heading to a bar and I, being the mighty soldier that I am, was braving the "don't go" ex-territory of the dance club.

The word ex brings to mind terrible connotations. Screaming matches, awkward run-ins on the street, divided mutual friends and that last drunken text message you probably shouldn't have sent. Luckily, the relationship I was re-visiting on friendlier terms was a good one, and the break was clean. That said, there are a few things everyone should remember if they are going to plan an encounter with somebody they used to regularly swap spit with.

Bring backup- You don't want to do this alone. Luckily, I have good friends and one of my buddies offered to come along. Fitting the evening's theme, he brought his ex too, for good measure. This sounds awkward, but it wasn't, and I was just happy not to be alone. 

Prepare an excuse- If shit hits the fan, you'll want to leave early. Be creative and keep in mind that this person spent a considerable amount of time with you, and knows when you're lying. If all else fails, man up and tell them honestly, "I'd like to go home now." After all, you're no longer under a social contract that requires you to stay. 

Drink up- Alcohol likely caused problems while you were together. Think drunk dialing, bad decisions and erectile difficulties. Luckily, this time the sauce is on your side. After one drink, that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach will go away. After a few more you'll be telling nearby strangers "funny" stories about your ex. Soon you will be the life of the party. Everyone loves a joke. 

Avoid the ex-sex- You know this is never a good idea. Unless it was good. Really good...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Birthday from Home.

There is nothing like getting mail, and it's even better if it's a package. My birthday has long past, but an unexpected late gift showed up in the mail yesterday. One of my favourite girl scouts carefully constructed a loving package of framed photos for me to remind me of home.

Art projects are one of my favourite things in the world, and this made my entire week.

Happy Sunday everyone.