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.

“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.

we were there for mariah, not fiyah(works)

“who’s got a brick?”

obviously she was going to sing the christmas song that we couldn’t help but sing for days in anticipation-and i just know that pre-chorus, so it was a loop, but it’s mariah-MARIAH.

patrick tagged me on facebook earlier in the week, and obviously, we were going. i mean-who better to complete our diva trifecta (beyonce, janet…) than mimi?

on the streetcar down, we played all the possible scenarios in our heads-that she would do a medley (his), that she would do “someday” with those curls (mine) and let our minds wander to all the ways that she could make our fantasies come true.

as we neared the department store, there wasn’t much of a crowd, but then again, the sun hadn’t gone down yet. there was no info or visible stage set up, because when you set up a stage at eye level, it only takes one layer of people for that setup to become invisible. we were by the hotdog stand where i was sassed by a bossy little girl, and a meaningless sign that read “media blah blah blah” which i suppose was aspirational, because no media seemed to be present. there were a few security guards who shouted the non-helpful direction of “move back” and striped human chains of people in the bay jackets that can’t help but remind me of syphilis and fire water every time that i see them-oh, canada-our truth north roots of genocide strong and cede (all of your land because you can’t read).

as the crowd got more confused, cold and hangry, unsure of whether they were pushing to get closer to nothing or pushing to stay warm, a periodic yell would erupt into a momentary oasis fueled by delirium and the diva spirit. people were pushing and charging other people with being rude (why is this always the case?) and overall, sucks fifth avenue did a poor job of managing this “epic launch”.

for example, having some kind of ongoing show on the projection would’ve accomplished the following: a) kept the attention of the confused public b) allowed them to test the audio/visual/everything technical about their setup, which unfortunately didn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar.

also, updating/answering the social media page would’ve been helpful.

but love, indeed, takes time.

when mariah finally surfaced, she was radiant (as expected) and had a mediocre performance (also as expected). though we couldn’t hear her at all, and at one point, it seemed like the lights went completely down on her (i suppose the sun does set on her as well) and at many points, the cameral didn’t seem to be on her at all, so we were just getting a projection of nothing, and we couldn’t see or hear her at all on the stage set on the sidewalk. the kicker was that the budget for the fireworks seemed to be the same as her fee (imagine wrangling a million dollars for a song and a half that you couldn’t see or hear? hashtag, squad goals)-which seemed a bit superfluous, because if an investment was made into the sound quality, it could’ve been a really nice moment.

a million dollar moment? maybe not.

but as it stands, it was a $25 free gift card to the keg moment when you factor in all the standing outside in the cold with no information-take that “free publicity and goodwill” to the bank, sucks fifth avenue. there’s a reason no one really gave a shit about your window unveil and was just scrambling to get home.

shoutout to those people who stood out there for an hour and a half, just to leave when the first song started. y’all must be the same folks i see getting in and out of your seat for the whole basketball game (inconveniencing everyone in the whole row, btw, in case you somehow don’t know) buying, drinking, and pissing out your $17 coors light in a sippy cup.

but we saw aesthetically perfect mariah and the mayor didn’t bring his boyfriend, drake. but at least he didn’t smoke crack or grab anybody’s pussy either (despite how much he has to eat at home).

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.

dolly parton-09/09/2+0+1+6

“you know me-no rhinestone left unturned”

“i would like to know more about what trump and hillary are going to do for us than to each other. i’m thinking of running myself-there needs to be more boobs in the race”

“i’m no norah jones, but i guess if i mess it up, it was my song to begin with”

“i buy everything two sizes too small and then get it taken in”

i laid down to die at dolly parton’s feet last night and let her resurrect me. it was another long day at work, dazed commute, poor decision to dine at the ol’ bk, and winding walk through the exhibition all the way around to the amphitheatre where i surprisingly have never made it to a concert (ovo-you’re still a squad goal).

i was making my way up the steps to the dark and chaotically impossible to navigate lawn cursing that she was already singing “jolene” but i couldn’t be made at her reasoning to “put her in her place”. luckily, my friends found me, and i literally lay at their feet.

i got my life, though, along with everybody there. i mean-what a dynamo. she’s amazing, she’s hilarious, she’s got the history, present, and as far as i can see-the future. she’s gracious, down to earth, and takes up space like a mug.

70 years old and performing circles around everyone. i was sad because this should’ve been prince for the next 20 years. i was in awe because she’s a musician and a songwriter, and i think this is the difference in the staying power between singers who do these things and singers that don’t-is beyonce going to be here in thirty years? i was downright weepy when she did the one that whitney gave a second wind to-because there just seems to be something not right about the fact that she’s outlasted her.

when i got over my initial annoyance of the venue, i looked and listened to it properly, and come on-it was a perfect night and it’s truly a wonder to behold, with the backdrop of our city’s skyline to complement it perfectly.

i forgot how many of her songs that i didn’t know that i knew, and have to give it up.

as the days come packing their new challenges, i will ask myself “what would dolly do?”

because the answer is “the right thing”.

and it always is.

happy (belated) birthday

“i can feel it in my bones”

anyone who knows me knows that i count my blessings often.

the first person i saw on my 37th year on this earth was miz nadia bashalani, who serenaded me with her own arrangement of that birthday song, and the third was the dashing wayne tennant, who treated me to a lovely brunch (including juice with a twinge of racism) on a charming montrill terrace on a gorgeous morning.

during this brunch, i obtained the pre-requisite modern tidbit on kenneth ‘babyface’ edmonds (he’s on dancing with the stars), lots of laughs, and the knowledge that this video was to be released at 5pm.

i intended to watch it on the bus, but the wifi was nonsense, and i was stuck on there for an hour and a half longer than i anticipated, but was saved by the folks at chipotle at yonge and dundas who decided that i shouldn’t have to buy my own birthday burrito, especially whilst hangry and hefting too many winter clothes (shoutout to my girls for hooking me up with sweater and leather in addition to the spa).

it was lovely to come home to, however, in addition to all my innernet messages and calls with well-wishing and news of my childrens starting school. i truly am very, very blessed. so let me now just share the blessing that is this innovative video of eye and ear candy. if ever you get a chance to see these two live-take it. or regret forever that you just don’t love yourself.

here are some more musical highlights from the day:

– because i am wearing my whispers‘ shirt, nadia‘s husband plays “rock steady” and segues into stanley clarke songs and this is good first music to hear when you wake up
-“when doves cry” playing at the resto (and i’m cursing that i’m missing wayne‘s set at the kvc prince tribute)
– i passed a downtown hotel whose workers were outside picketing to “cotton eye joe” (sigh)-only in montrill
– the first song that played on my ipod when i boarded the bus was “over my head” by the alabama shakes and i got my life at their concert earlier this summer with these two
– unlike my trip into town, the shuffle chose no drake, opting instead for a spectrum of kanye and all the instrumental tracks from undun
– i heard the “i want you back” sample for the first time in “h to the izzo”
kanye and company took to screaming “ric flair” on the good music album and nadia‘s husband is a huge fan of wrestling
– i always seem to connect with d’angelo’s brown sugar album on a bus-i truly got it one year coming back on the midnight bus from new york to montreal when a new friend leant me her copy of the cd so that i could play on my discman (my discman!!!! i believe the only disc i had was the one i made bird make for me of “honey” as many times as it would fit)
– this time i listened to the 1996 live at the london jazz cafe album and wondered if he was ever better than that (i’ll stay wondering because i’ve yet to hear/see him live) also-angie stone is fi-yaaaaah on the back vocals
– i heard the whitney sample for the first time on “tuscan leather” because i opted to listen to nothing was the same (i can’t help it-seven years in toronto makes a drake fan out of anyone)
– the detour allowed me to fall in love once again with good kid m.a.a.d. city

i told my invisible husband of 9 years last night that i believe that i have always been and done the things that i always have, and that i will probably keep on keeping on. reading, writing, laughing, participating in the arts and feeling too many feelings for music and musicians will always be my number one priority, and i’m so great-full for all the beauty-full souls that have synchronized with mine.

may we all keep finding our tribe(s).

and be (re)born with each passing day.

every moment is a choice.

i choose LOVE.