chance the rapper-the be encouraged tour

“my mom says in arabic that when it’s raining and sunny, rats are getting married”

chance got finer.

it started innocently enough-i noticed that the show got rescheduled to the day that my season boo was coming to my home for the first time, and casually texted her about it, though she was just coming off of seeing him at the palace of auburn hills (yes, i am sad that i’ll prolly never see the pistons play there).

we had a lovely day of making soup and working on projects, separately and together, napping and watching many monsoons from my window. we made references to going to the show all day, but we both had things to do and, well.

around 5pm, we were called by carbs, and since she’s a vegan who hasn’t yet experienced doomie‘s (propagandistic comics and all), we decided to walk between showers the two now lovely-scented parkdale streets that separate me and the resto. we paid our respects to the lovely guard dog with a fierce underbite in the bougie flower shop, and settled into one of the window booths. i did a double-take in time and space when a pianist that i knew almost a decade ago in montreal walked past and we caught up for a minute before i just accepted that my hair would be smelling like fried.

but delicious mac and cheese (with mushrooms) and deep fried oreos later, we were full and happy and ready to make our way towards a very ominous cloud to see this guy. considering that it was a reschedule, it was pretty breezy to get a ticket.

the bag check should’ve been foreshadowing, but we were high and happy and made it through lightning and humidity and the dj’s name was oreo and there numbers and signs everywhere.

and the rapper was perfect-he was sounding right and looking right and his energy is amazing, if a bit too religious in that way that american artists get that make it a bit uncomfortable to sing along to sometimes. the special effects blended right in with mother nature’s downpour, and even though we were standing in sponges (i have yet to check on the canvas shoes that i left outside, but if someone took them-good riddance), it was beauty-full to be dancing in the rain.

the subsequent push to get to bags that was longer than the concert by a duration of 1.5 x? not so fun. but i suppose this is what happens when you throw 3000+ bags onto the floor and expect people to wait in line and retrieve them when it’s been pouring rain all night.

but it was hilarious to be amongst the high school kids budging the line and that one dood who “had to tutor french at 9am” and was feeling all the feelings over it. it was extra hilarious because he butt into the line, and then was lamenting this, and figured out 25 minutes later that it was the bag line and not the line to leave.

and canadians are hella polite, yo. i’m surprised that there was no riots, especially with all those bored white people excited about a “hype” rap show ready to fight garbage cans and shit.

based on the “blessings” that came down, i’m not sure what “praises” went up, but congrats to all the rats that celebrated their nuptials yesterday-it was an honour to be in your presence.

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.

IWD 2017

“we won’t be equal until men are equal”

as my facebook wall invariably fills with multi-culti cartoon women lifting each other through the same sanctioned comment square, i listen to the bust magazine recommended inflection point podcast as curated by lauren schiller (interviews with women who are challenging status quo).

i think about my youngest women’s studies professor when i got my degree in 2003, and how radical she was to suggest that women’s studies will need to evolve into gender studies in order to survive and stay relevant. i don’t know that that’s happened, and as folks drag sophie trudeau for suggesting that we should celebrate men who are feminists, or the next generation of boys coming up as promising potential feminists (because we raise them to be or just by virtue of seeing more women life-ing in different ways than generations past), i still wonder if it (we) will.

i didn’t make any sweeping declarations this year. i celebrated bright and early with sharon, my yoga teacher, who decided to change her life and offer an 8am class that fits so much better into my cicadian rhythms, and then discussed how menstruating makes us better with susanda, the acupuncturist that we all have a crush on. i had a private celebration with the women who help me heal and release, and i don’t think it’s an accident that they’ve become more prominent in my life within this year.

and then of course, anne-marie slaughter‘s quote (above).

here’s a great article that she wrote.

she is completely correct-until childcare and child-rearing is normalized for men, women will have to “choose”. we can’t really discuss “women’s work” without discussing “work” in general, and then it all rolls out into birth control and access, poverty and single mothers, prison and the school system and (the lack of) food politics-if you can’t make a diagram that connects all of these points directly, you qualify as needing a lesson in intersectionality. but don’t ask a woman of colour to explain it to you, there are a lot of resources on the internet. TONS.

i met someone who is so mad because she was wrong, she “didn’t think he would be that bad when he got into office”, that there would’ve been someone to rein him in.

w       o        w.

again, wealthy white women who voted (or would’ve voted if they were americans) one way, and then turn up at a march on washington a few months later-you fail. and unless you are interested in doing your due diligence in learning where you fit in on the accountability/benefit spectrum of the bridge of our backs, i am not interested in sapphosizing with you. it’s 2017-your microagressions are so fucking old.

all of us are smarter than one of us.

but we still have to learn to check ourselves and be checked ourselves, because womens-we are still wrecking ourselves, and it’s no kind of good for our healths.

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.

super man in the roti shop

“i think you’re used to getting your way”

i love a lot of things about working from home, not the least of which being going to grab a goat dinner because i got a surprise arrival last night that explains my friday night twitter rage against russell westbrook (not that that’s not justified everyday) and why i was ravenous yesterday. sometimes, you just need some red meat protein.

it was a long line, one that i suppose is customary at lunchtime, and i had lots of time to reflect on the day that i’ve already had, and how to maximize the part that remains.

i also got to witness the most important customer service life situation that i have in years.

there was a particularly ruddy man sitting in front of the door, demanding that folks get him napkins while he ate with his mouth open, jabbing at his phone with his disgusting roti fingers (how much you wanna bet that this is one of those non-hand-washing mofos that i caught shit-handed at the airport?). nearing the end of his meal, he started to complain about people who were holding the door ajar because the lineup snaked outside of the restaurant.

then, my hero spoke up. a gentle giant, calm and strong, this man said the following to mister red:

“yes, there’s a lineup. yes-it goes out the door”

“you’re a customer and you’re entitled to your opinion, but we’re customers too, so we can stand in line inside”

“if you don’t like it, i suggest you choose another seat.”

“i don’t think you’re used to people talking back to you. i think you’re used to having your way.”

“you’re being a prick”.

“see what happens? don’t be a prick then.”

he held his own, looked him in the eyes, kept speaking the truth, and never meeting red at his blustery level, or escalating. my favourite was the hard stare directly at him as he made a production of swearing and swirling his jacket arms as he left.

winner winner, roti dinner.

this was so inspiring and simple, not just at work, but in life.

i love him.

this is the calibre of man that can stay in my matriarchy.

the other one-y’all can have him.

(maybe chrisette michele needs him for something for her inauguration set)