Monday, September 27, 2004

Books, beers, and beats

Yesterday, Sunday, was pretty nice. I headed down to meet P-Doug at his place. We were going to take the subway downtown to a book festival called Word On the Street. P-Doug talked me into driving instead since he knew a place that was cheaper to park than taking the subway. Another nail in the coffin of public transit. But anyway...

The festival was pretty busy. I found this one booth that was selling fairly recent Canadian literary magazines at a buck a throw. I bought six of them. At a quick reckoning, I'd say their combined cover price was $40-$50. Felt pretty good about that. My lower back's been kind of sore for the past week or so, so I eventually I drifted off to sit and read by the war memorial. P-Doug caught up with me about half an hour later, and we took off to the Distillery District.

The traffic heading down Bay was awful (score one for the subway; tie game...). Turns out there was a marathon on at the south end of the city. I'm getting pretty sick of this shit every time I turn around. Why is it every time some idiot comes up with some lunacy they want to do in a group, they have to pick the downtown to do it in? Or one of the major arteries in and out of town? When is city council finally going to grow a pair and say, "Look, you want to disrupt traffic, do it in the burbs, like out in York or something." It's not bad enough construction upsets everything all summer; do we really need Joggers for Jesus shutting down half the city every weekend? Not in my bloody books we don't.

Anyway, we finally got out to the Distillery District and had a nice lunch at the sandwich shop there. I had the turkey chili and organic bread (I wish they wouldn't call it that; it's so yuppie), and P-Doug had a shepherd's pie and a couple of currant cookie thingies. I bought a couple of scones and ate one while I waited for them to heat up my chili. Things were pretty good till these two elderly couples showed up and asked to share our picnic table, ugh. Turns out they were from New York. A local theatre chain had hired someone to hand one of the local papers for free, and without even looking at it, they spent half their time sneering at. "Probably full of ads," says one of the old ginks. His wife repeatedly whined that it would be nice if they were handing out free copies of the New York Times. I wanted to turn to her and say, "You're not in New York, lady. You're not even in the United States. Get your head out of your own navel and look around at the rest of the world, or do us all a favour and stay home." When I was in Dallas, I didn't walk around shitting on everything and bitching that I couldn't get the Star or the Globe or the National Post. Yeah, New York is nice and all, but even New York ain't God's penis. It's just one more big town on Planet Earth. So anyway, finally one of the old guys actually deigns to go pick up a copy of the free paper, and is amazed to find it's a substantial newspaper, and says so. The arrogance of these people was truly galling. P-Doug and I barely spoke while they were there; we finished eating and left (Ugly Americans: score 1).

We went over to the sitting area we usually go to and grabbed a couple of beers. There was this jazz band on stage... I don't know much about jazz, but my God, were these guys sharp. Four guys; trumpet-playing lead, keyboard, bass, and drummer. They were tight. Turns out the lead was a guy from New Orleans who ended up moving up here with his wife and kids, and put together another band locally (Cool Americans: score 1; tie game). This is how good they were: P-Doug and I shut up for nearly and hour and just listened. I drank a coffee-flavoured beer slowly and just let the jazz wash over me. Most of the tunes were by the lead guy, whose name was Kevin Clark (the other three guys are his "Jazz Kitchen", I believe... Mr. Clark is also a graduate chef from Lousianna). He seemed to have habit of writing songs based on little snatches of tunes or rhythms around him while on the go. One was called "Ride the Rocket", and was based on the three notes TTC subway cars play as their doors close. Another was about a stopover in Istanbul, where a tall, red-headed member of his previous band, in a shirt decorated with alligators, inspired the tune "Look At the Man In the Alligator Shirt". We ended up buying their CD. Jazz is uncommon these days, but if you're in the right place and the right frame of mind, it's really fantastic music. I didn't like it when I was a kid, but maybe it's something you have to grow into.

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