Sunday, February 21, 2010

like a newfie spa

as we went wandering around the woods behind his cabin, ryan commented on how this was the kind of day you could ride your snowmobile as deep as you could until you reached some random point in the middle of nowhere, dismount, build a fire, boil yourself some tea, and sit there until you have to go back home again. we didn't quite have the time to do that, but we did climb to the highest point in his property and build a lovely snowman with two heads and three arms (as Zaphod Beeblebrox), which i am pretty sure was just as soul-enriching a la Henry David Thoreau.

everything's been feeling like a pleasant dream lately. for a while, i had been reading about the Temple Stay program that they have in Korea where you live the life of a buddhist monk for a short period. i liked the idea of spending my days being quiet and healthy. my stay in Newfoundland, hanging around Ryan's old stomping grounds in Shoal Harbour, has been about as reinvigorating and relaxing, and at times it feels like a spa experience too. we've been eating vegan for the most part, lots of green tea and ryan's homemade vegetable soup. when we want to entertain ourselves, instead of drinking alcohol or watching TV, ryan and i made a movie with my camera (coming soon...). i push my strength and fitness shoveling the snow that we've gotten in the last few days. i get healthy colour in my cheeks by having the wind whip in my face as we ride the snowmobile around Thorburn Lake. i explore my creativity by building all sorts of snow sculptures, including my Zaphod Beeblebrox and a few more abstract things. you don't need a buddhist temple or a yoga class to find yourself - sometimes all you have to do is lose yourself in the woods. i've also been sleeping a lot.

we took the evening bus into St. John's last night, so i suspect my newfoundland experience is going to be altered dramatically (if last night was any indication, where i was screeched in on the busy George Street). we'll see how today goes...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

found my way to the Rock

as my plane flew into the St. John's and i tried hard not to let my nausea overcome me (mainly because my puking muscles were all tired out and i was inexplicably surrounded by BABIES...on all sides), a thought suddenly occurred to me. when the next zombie outbreak comes, an island like Newfoundland would be a pretty safe fortress from the zombies. i mean, World War Z predicted that BC would be pretty insulated because of the Rocky Mountains, but what would be better protection than have the sea around you at all sides?

Ryan pointed out that the zombies could probably just travel through the water though, as countless zombie movies have demonstrated. it's always good to have a clear-headed friend like that, you know. luckily, we'll still be well protected should the zombie outbreak come out during the night, as i am currently sleeping in a room with a veritable collection of bows and arrows (Devon's, not Ryan's, if that makes any difference). it's always good to have zombie safety-minded friends like that.

the fog in St. John's tonight is as thick as my post food poisoning haze. we literally watched cars circlin' around the airport parking lot trying to find the exit, until we snuck out the entrance where the gate was frozen at half-point. devon drove us up the majestic Signal Hill, which at least i reckon would be majestic, were it not in the dead of the night in the dead of the fog. the drive up the hill was eerie, like driving up into nothingness, and once up top, we passed right by the other parked cars with couples making out inside (they must have been cold) and walked right up to the edge of the cliffs. i got to feel the sea wind biting at on my face and imagine how majestic the view would be if i could see through the least until we went home and found google images of Signal Hill. i'll see the real thing in time, i know.

i can't wait to see the Battery later on this week. i had this dream earlier this year that i got lost on an off-ramp from Highway 7 in the middle of a storm and ended up in this magical looking neighbourhood of houses on a steep cliff. i suspect this is what the Battery might look like. if it turns out that i saw this place in my dreams before i actually ever went there, well, that means i've got a special connection with places by the sea.

island vacation

as i vaguely indicated in my last post, my band went down to Montreal for our last stop on our tour. i spent less than 12 hours in Montreal but loved it, as usual. every time i visit the city, i'm reminded of how much i need to live there at some point in my life. Montreal seems to have everything i want: good reasonably priced food, French things, cheap rent, amazing shopping, a thriving music culture...but also, the unbearable cold. i grew up in frosty Ottawa and i still don't think i can stomach the Montreal winters. oh well. as soon as i stop being a baby about the cold, i'll move there.

now it's Spring Break for me, and i'm spending it going on my own Island Vacation...the island in this case being Newfoundland. i fly in to St. John's tonight, and take the bus tomorrow morning to get to Shoal Harbour to visit the infamous Ryan Patey in his own hometown. our shenanigans were supposed to start yesterday, but then i got knocked over with a horrible bout of food poisoning (i'm write this while lying in bed). so. today is attempt #2 at gloria's immersion into newfie culture.

why newfoundland? many people have asked me this and i've given different answers every time:

-i don't feel like i am a true Canuck until i get screeched in

-it's so cliche to escape winter by going to Barbados or something. everyone knows that the trendy thing to do nowadays is embrace winter.

-ryan patey is there! therefore i must go there!

-after all my travels in europe, i'd like to explore the Canadian wilderness.

-it was too expensive to fly to france, so i intend to take a boat from the newfie coast to the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

-i'm so tired of all this Olympics enthusiasm that i want to run to the exact opposite coast

-in keeping with the previous reasoning, my best friend Meg is in vancouver helping to cover the Olympics for CTV. when i go to the other end in Newfoundland, we are going to be making a big CANADA SANDWICH, with Canada as the middle spoon, if you will!

this is all assuming, of course, that i get the energy to get out of bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I need to move to Montreal as soon as possible.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hamilton Trading Company CD Release Party

...was a huge success. Many people turned up at the Boat. Many people brought baked goods (always a yummy surprise). The opening band Cigarettes sent chills up my spine, as guitarist Brad Casey masterfully dodged every "Happy Birthday" that was sent his way (he turns 26, by the way.). HTC had the full choir of twenty people out this time, and for a change we sang on the floor in two rows instead of on stage. the audience was great, listening attentively the whole time. The Sleepless Nights, our tour buddies, closed for us again with an energetic rock show that ended with HTC crowding on stage, dancing and singing the chorus as two or three spontaneous drummers jumped on stage and played along in an percussive explosion. At one point, the guitarist kept his feedback on, walked off stage, disappeared, reappeared having left his guitar still ringing *somewhere* in the bar (my guess is in the bathroom?) and joined us back on stage in time for the final chorus. Now that's a dance party. I can't wait to see how things will go tomorrow night in Montreal, our last stop on tour...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hammer time.

My band played in Hamilton tonight along with the Halifax indie band The Sleepless Nights. It was our first time in Hamilton, which is kind of funny because our band is called the Hamilton Trading Company.

Here is the totality of my experiences with Hamilton:

1. Age one: we move to Hamilton. My father is dissatisfied with his program at McMaster, and his bike is stolen. Upset at the city, we move away before I have the chance to form any memories of the Hammer.

2. Age eighteen: we drive down to Hamilton with my best friends to see Godspeed You Black Emporer performing at the tivoli theatre. It was a good show, but I don't remember why we decided to go to Hamilton when we could have caught GYBE in montreal which was much closer and didn't involve a lot of sad malls where all the stores were closing down.

3. Age twenty four: I speak at a conference at McMaster. Nothing of mine is stolen. I discover that Steeltown's university is actually quite pretty.
4. Then we come to the present day, age twenty-five. When we pulled into town, Hamilton greeted us with a giant fire. I'm not quite sure what was on fire. It looked like a factory. I hope it was supposed to be like that.

I had basically pulled out of a music project that was essentially a marathon of learning thirty songs in thirty days
and pulling off a crazy performance that finally ended this week. HTC had been on tour in the east coast all this time, adventures that I'd missed out on, but now that my commitments with the MT band was finally over, I joined the other band in
time for their Hamilton leg of the tour. It wasn't easy though. Despite plugging the damn address into the GPS and looking up the address on my iPhone, we still
got horribly lost. That's because Hamilton has a King Street East, which turns into King Street West, which then turns into King Street East again. Dear Hamilton: this is a little confusing.

We played at Club Absinthe, which actually served absinthe, including the hard core stuff from the Czech Republic. Our set went all right, although I was reminded painfully of the fact that it had been weeks since I last performed with this band. Also, I had spent so much time barking orders at my other band that my voice was quite hoarse, which only worked out for this gig because I sing the male parts now. The Sleepless Nights, who were touring with us all this time, put on a fantastic set to no one's surprise. They had enough high energy to get the crowd dancing, even if it was 2AM and we were feeling quite tired (at least I was - but then I'm old).

The downstairs of the club featured a dance floor, which was quite nice if you wanted a break from the rock musc - at least until you remember that there's a reason why I was glad to leave Europe - I hate house music. Still, their bartender provided much entertainment for me, keeping me wondering if the bartender was a man in drag or just a girl dressed like a strange hooker to induce tips.

I went on a walk to explore more of Hamilton, but the only sightseeing tip I had was from a buddy who told me not to go to the strip clubs on this street. So my walk was short. On our way home we realized that the distance from Hamilton to toronto is exactly the length of the Romeo and Juliet film soundtrack. It was a Leo-licious ride. Tomorrow we are back in Toronto again for our CD release party, and then we play a show in Montreal for Tuesday. After that is my reading week which I will be spending in Shoal Harbour, Newfoundland, learning the special ways of the Newfies, and also making a giant sculpture of butt with all the snow they got. So stay tuned: I may be back in Canada for a while but i've still got a lot of adventures to come. Remember, the last time my band went to Montreal, we were robbed three times in an hour, so the story goes.