charmie deller

“you can’t stop what’s meant to be”

one of my editors once told me that hip hop writers are too insular. that was almost a decade ago, and as much as the music and the avenues have changed, i may be closer to accepting this as truth now.

i suppose there will always be a level of missed opportunity due to a lack of listening, and tonight was no exception. i mean-i only came in for the tail end of the panel, but i don’t believe anyone made a tie to the artists that would come directly afterwards, and it was an oversight not to point out the fact that charmie is and has been on her hustle game for real. i mean, there’s no better example of someone who is true to her (he)art and puts in the hours.

it was actually quite shame-full that one of the panelists, who was admonishing people for not listening to what he had to say, not only didn’t seem to know her name or her story to introduce her, but was also then talking loudly by the stage during her set. but i’ve been biased against such “expert” for a minute, biased in a way that i think he’s wack as shit. but people seem to want to pay him, so hey-get that money.

but let’s go back to making your own lane-i’ve been seeing babygirl on different stages over the past few years, but mostly-i see her (and her drummer), on the street. no matter the weather, i see her out there-by the eaton centre, at the acc, singing her songs and shining her light. i’m floored by the actual time that she must spend singing on the street, because i don’t even go out that much, and i still manage to catch her often enough to notice.

i heard when she won the lula showcase last year, from a producer who was so amped by seeing her that he was moved to work with an artist again for the first time in a long time, so in a way, it was full circle to see her on the stage there tonight. it was also clear that all of her busking time has seasoned her for a more intimate, no-frills arena, because her most power-full moments were when she stepped away from the mic, moved closer to the crowd, sang a cappella and played her guitar.

hey-i did see bettye lavette sing without a mic at metropolis at 70+ years old, so-anything is possible.

in contrast with the headliner, who had a sick band and all the trappings of a “professional musician”, all i saw was the future for charmie, because her songwriting has only gotten better and better, her work ethic remains on point, and her spirit is undeniable.

“we support ourselves when we support each other”

thank you for acknowledging my one clap, and i see you, star.

keep singing the truth.

“new ideas need old buildings”-tile at dufferin station

i’ve already been reprimanded this week for spoiling the nba playoffs, so let me not do this to a woman’s show.

but belladonna the blest or dm st. bernard‘s sound of the beast is everything, and then eleven more everythings. do yourself a favour and go see it. please. if one of the city’s finest (the finest imo) poets can roll through (and i think he even bought a ticket because he’s not a personal friend of the inspiration’s), you can too.

ok-psa over, do what you want.

i’ve been feeling the feels since i was in montreal for a week and a half, doing everything and nothing, and with the birth of babies all around and work never ending (and still not beginning), i know it’s not an accident that i ended up in the same room as these two that i run into so randomly it’s become specific. the fact that there was a stage and words and so many ideas layered and folded into ideas that if a mille-feuille crepe cake could be a thing that could be witnessed and absorbed and spoken and felt, this would be that thing.

i’m largely not a fan of the tiles at dufferin station, especially of the two that are close together near the main entrance, one reading “blah blah blah new immigrants” and the other “occasion to turn around”, like wtf?! but i never noticed this one before, or perhaps due to its proximity to the aforementioned as well as the “lemonade living” (and i paraphrase all these tiles, except for the one that i board the train at every day on my way to work which reads “something happens here”, because, well, who has time to footnote tiles, or remember them properly and such?) i’m too busy getting to the punchline of 3/5s when it’s so meta and brilliant, when accountability happens and its calling for is further justified when the perpetrator responds by throwing her kids under the bus. when a discussion about whose lives matter is brought about without the use of those slogans so familiar that have lost their lustre, but is named nonetheless, and stories are woven so beautifully that you forget for a moment that they’re tragic but flower petals are still gentle, whether or not they’re unbreakable, and you decide, we decide-but things are complicated, and we do what we can….

(i’m writing a new piece called “poets talk in circles”….but then again, that’s been the ongoing story of life itself)

place is a thing. theatre passe-muraille is a place. it’s been one of the most reliable places that i have crossed paths with dmsb over the years, and toronto is a place-also one of the most reliable locales. it’s an old building that’s housed almost 50 seasons of new ideas, and even though it’s been fixed, i still just can’t push that door…and i’m glad that i didn’t stay away when the latest ad joined-even when she was the first person to fire me from a job at a little theatre that we both worked at in mtl-what are the chances, right?

but there are no accidents, and (the) space (between our ears) is the real place.

we gotta work on that time-bending piece, but then again-we’ve been working on that project our whole lives.

this is why i scheduled a volunteer shift on my first day back to work after a long vacation of doing everything and nothing, horny as hell but great-full for the life choices i’ve made not to have kids and a dog (though i really, really love dogs and kids). it’s nice to be able to walk in and out of that for a week, because if it was real life, i woulda had to work all day and then go home to single-mother kids and a dog.

this is why.

i live for this and i am ever great-full to this woman for reminding me to do it by doing it.

shoutout to maddie bautista-we may have only met tonight (in this life) but it’s far from over.

meeting sook-yin lee*

“don’t get mad”

but, she never remembers me. and i’m not mad, per se, i’m just bewildered. but it just goes to show, we don’t all have the same priorities, and the things that stick out for us are different than the things that stick out for others.

here are the significant “first-time” meetings of sook-yin lee from my perspective:

-i was probably 8 years old when i saw her on tv, on this magical new station called muchmusic, and not only was i captivated by her asian-canadian face and presence, she was sitting on the edge of a desk talking about eating chicken feet (my favourite dish that i ate with my grandma) and then she took her foot in her hands and mimed eating that. i was incepted with the drive to fill this space in popular culture that was being carved by this woman

-15 years into this quest, when i printfiltrated my way into being the music editor at ricepaper, i pitched a story/interview about the above experience to uncomfortable faces because they had already done a story and had a large beef with her over it-oops. not only did i miss that, i missed that whole part of research into the magazine i was contributing to (which in itself is a large part of the asian-canadian narrative). a rookie mistake that is quickly rendering itself obsolete now that people seem to be caring less about legacy and more about texting than text.

-when i finally moved to toronto ten years after that, i was at the reference library when noticed a woman cloaked in a heavy aztec poncho in the dead of summer, made eye contact with her, and before i could talk to her about the garment that was somehow working (my unspoken understanding is that we are west coast sartorial sisters)-she gave me a handbill of her movie year of the carnivore (she was flyering like spike lee!) and i told her the chicken feet story and told her that i intended to stalk her and be part of her then radio show, DNTO. her response was “not if i stalk you first”. i was smitten.

-i saw YOTC on opening weekend, maybe even twice, even though i was broker than broke that first year, and was blown away by how complete and completely amazing it was. i immediately went back to the library and took out shortbus, because i hadn’t seen that, and squealed when i saw that i had the same vibrator that she was using on the bathroom floor. (i still miss that vibrator and still haven’t been able to find it).

-last year on mother’s day, after a week of getting myself ready to see the apology, i was in the building with so many amazing women, and talked to her extensively afterwards, and she asked me if i also worked in the industry.

-last week, with the cbc director that uttered the opening quote, she introduced herself (again) and though she was comfortable enough to let me stroke her rabbit fur head lining (and i was comfortable enough to do it), she asked me if i was working in the building.

over the last seven years, we have crossed paths many times, and have shared nods and smiles, which i thought were of recognition, but maybe were just of friendliness or mutual style appreciation. or perhaps they were of recognition, not of me personally, but of the fact that we have people and realities in common, and that’s ok.

i sense that people might have a similar kind of experience/expectation of me as a result of the work i do that leads to long-term shallow deep interactions with folks. i am very great-full for the opportunities to be extremely present with people, from whichever side they come. i am sorry for the woman that insists that she knows me (and my “twin sister” who told her i was “going on a trip to china”)-i didn’t see you at yoga because i take my glasses off and i’m there for yoga.

i’m very glad that i keep arising to meet my s/heroes, and that new ones that i haven’t met yet are making more art and music and doing the good work every single day. the matriarchy is possible.

*in reading this over after it went live, it seems that i’m a bit obsessed with syl. i am not. i just have a very efficient card catalogue of a brain, and though i focused in on this person and our interactions to write this blog post, i do not constantly have this running on a loop. i am obsessed with everything, and can basically pull this up for anything that has made an impact on my life. example categories: favourite black thought lyrics, scottie pippen statistics (including clyde drexler‘s height because, you know, the 1990-91 blazers vs. the bulls, obviously), the motorcycles that i’ve been on in every city that i’ve lived in, dogs of the junction, apples i have tasted (oh, juliet, i still remember you), so many details about so many things.

revisionist history

so yesterday i decided to binge-listen revisionist history. luckily, there are only ten episodes and the duration of each episode is around thirty minutes. (the last time i binge-listened to a podcast was when i was unemployed when i first moved to toronto, and i was a bit squirrely after about 95 hours of radiolab-straight).

the first point to hit me was in the discussion of orthodox generosity, in which gladwell defines generosity as “the ability to be open”, which is not one that i can locate now, nor have ever heard before. i suppose it is the other side of giving, which is traditionally how i have understood generosity-with time, knowledge, love, support and money. i suppose doing all those things because you are open to change in people, circumstances, and the world, or the simple acceptance of the fact that you can be open to the possibility that peoples’ circumstances are not like your own and that’s ok is the other side. being open to receive the change that you are helping to affect?

the other point that i thought a lot about was how folks let one in the door and that becomes the allowance to shut the door firmly on the rest because they’ve done their duty, they’re patting themselves on the back for being progressive. it was almost with an assured tone that he closed that episode-“it makes me think of hillary clinton, and how she won’t have it easy.”

(yes, i listened to them backwards).

the discussion of how white people felt freer to be more racist and horrible to black people than ever because they’d done their (lifetime) civic duty and voted for barack obama, and that makes sense that the rise of institutionalized racism (and its public evidence/backlash) would happen during his tenure, and it also gives some context to “some of my best friends are…” justifications.

that discussion of countries who were one and done with female leaders was very, very fascinating, and just goes to show how much traction we can get out of the black men vs. all women argument, but in the end, we’re all just figureheads in the face of a broken system of patriarchal institutions. remember, canada-ours was appointed, not elected and not for a full term. btw-elizabeth may-as long as you’re riding that tricycle, i am voting for you and your party.

i posted a picture of someone’s sign at the march that read “so i’ll see all you nice white ladies at the next #BLM march, right?” and a white woman (who had the means and opportunity to go to washington) commented that she didn’t see much “divisiveness” there, which i perceive as a pushback because it was a callout for white women to do their due diligence when it’s not “their” march, so i responded about keeping that spirit in mind when homecourt advantage shifts, and we’ll see.

now, i’m not co-signing with this tactic, but i’m not not:

maybe if you hear it from “one of your own”, it will resonate more.

my final curiosity from the wonder-full series is if the theory works in reverse. now that trump has been elected, will white people feel more empathy than they ever have? will they give money to strangers and shit, start standing alongside women and minorities in their workplaces, on the bus, at the bank, on the road, in the pool, in higher education, at the laundromat-even when nobody’s watching to give them an award?

we will see indeed.

everything we make…

is love.

happy 2017, everyone.

i am great-full for the recent foray to the wet coast, where things were slow and i didn’t think about work or money for a whole week.

i lived out of a carry-on and slept on an ottoman.

i saw myself in the mirror and saw the inspiration for going the other way.

i now understand what a lane home is.

i ate too much and didn’t exercise at all.

i watched more television than i have in the past three years.

i am glad to be home, where my projects and my clothes are.

i was so delighted to fall asleep on my own couch, and sleep in in my own bed.

i love that the first computer resurrected, and how much prince the itunes is playing.

i love that dufferin street is fixed (for now).

i love that i gave myself the chance to finish projects and enjoy my home.

i am looking forward to going back to work.

just not tomorrow.

power lunch

“they say real recognize real but i don’t recognize you”

derin falana is adorable and we’re all insane.

on my second monday as saturday, i took advantage of that to check out the manifesTO lunchtime concert 7/10.

i can honestly say that in the seven years that i’ve lived here, i have never been to yonge-dundas square on a monday at 12:30. because the trade show is always the same time as the festival, i usually miss most events, but i wager a fairly safe guess that this afternoon’s crowd was a bit different from last night’s.

it was a perfect day to be sleeveless in the sun, loving this guy’s energy, pacing and jodeci sample. beauty and talent must run in the family.

“pumped up like some reeboks, with her tongue out like michael”

you can tell that he is so pleased with this line that he delights in saying it twice-just to make sure we didn’t miss it. i can’t be mad at that-it’s a phenomenal line. the audience was made up of middle-aged men on the spectrum of mental illness, but they were totally feeling it. i know i’m on at least one video grimacing at a gentleman who was doing handstands and stripper splits-concrete is awfully hard and he was rubbing his head through his green hoody on his way up every time.

it was intimate enough and in full daylight, so i felt bad that i just couldn’t put my hands up, as we all know my block with that when people tell me to (sorry, boos!), but people were clapping at their own rhythms (as per usual) and singing their own songs. i saw enough here to smile very big and know for sure that i will be seeing this guy years from now with the fine memory of “seeing him when…”, just like when i saw k-os 15 years ago at the lucky bar in victoria doing a solo acoustic guitar set. hopefully i will keep remembering him fondly, and he doesn’t slowly erode my trust and play with my emotions by releasing brilliant studio albums followed by ridiculous live performances where he forgets his lyrics and throws keyboards at people.

“i’m coming up like a ski lift, only to come down like an avalanche”

i’m happy that i witnessed this, and love that the artists in this city are finally starting to be sure of how great they are. not to be outdone by the men dancing in front of the stage, bb busted out his own moves and awed us all.

just before his last song though, green hoody muttered beside me:

“put on the dream warriors

ok.

“whatchu know about that?”

changing my mind-margaret trudeau

“having more babies than lauryn, she started showing early”

“Like pregnancy, the adrenaline of love was and is a powerful antidote to depression.” (177)

“diamonds deserve diamonds but he convinced me that i was worth/less”

“I never believed that I had been properly thanked (real thanks would have meant a meaningful job), and I felt that I had been used by the Liberal Party machine. Here I was, fresh out of university. I was adversarial. I knew how to question and I demanded the right to ask what was going on. I had all these tools, and nowhere to use them.” (109-110)

i knew which lauryn i wanted to see and i didn’t see her.

but that’s ok, because i can always return to this video of her in japan in ’99 whenever i need to.

the truth is, i didn’t even know which lauryn i was looking for, and i couldn’t have known until i saw her on friday in her hunchback couture at massey hall. all i knew was that i was glad to be there with my girl gillian, whom i am glad captured some videos that i tried not to ruin with my weeping and/or jumping and/or gasping, i was excited to see the homie jordan (who got fine, by the by), and that the bluelight ambiance to the isley brothers (and perfect transition into that biggie track) was perfect.

’nuff respect to the opening artists, and to the ignoramus behind me-emmanuel jal looks nothing like latrell sprewell-but there’s something about having a limited capacity for new music when you’re dead tired-and how an oldie but goldie just gives you new life.

on a related note-no matter how many very loud very fast arrangements of classic songs happen-there’s nothing like jumping straight out of your chair (in a tutu) when the queen says, “it’s funny how money can change a situation”, and how long you can be wondering about “how many mics”….

in some ways, i am glad that it took 12 years for me to see this woman live. i feel like i got her at the height of whatever she’s doing now-youtube videos be damned, i got context. and i got my life.

vocally-she’s perfect. her voice just filled up all that space in that theatre that seems to have only recently become open to acts that are not pavarotti and the tragically hip. i got many a shiver, and felt nothing but shame for whomever was responsible for casting zoe saldana as nina simone in the biopic.

birds flying high……

i love that i believe that lauryn is feeling good. i love that although i didn’t get my favourite “ex-factor”, i did get two versions-original and updated. i love that the back vocalists and brass section were basically running clinics that i will be thinking for for at least the next three years. i love that despite the fact that she’s been put through the ringer, and that the patriarchy is real-i mean how much more room do we give male artists to evolve and be unapologetic about their style/sound/presentation? i’m sad at how quickly people have been to cast her out and call her crazy-especially when mental health issues are real.

i feel that pairing this concert with this book makes sense for all of the above reasons, and perhaps there is a link that can be made between maggie‘s feelings about being pregnant and the fact that miz hill is a mother six times over. shoutout to all the moms who make it possible for me to experience the joys of motherhood without being pregnant and all the mothers who share their artistic babies with me and inspire me to birth my own.

over breakfast at the ritz,  i reminisced on the reasons that i missed this concert, but am so happy that i got to witness her making good on this promise:

many happy returns to the re/education of MLH.