photography and music keep me sane.
One day in August, I was out taking pictures, as I tend to do on a daily basis. On this particular day, the camera app of choice at the time was acting up, and wouldn’t always capture a picture I had snapped. This ended up being a fortuitous issue. It meant that a week later, I had to go back to the same location, to attempt to get the missing photos.
I was shooting street art, and signs on Gorilla House Art Gallery. When I went back, I noticed the door was open, I entered hesitantly, and asked the man seated at a table if it was okay for me to walk around and take pictures. Rich, as I later discovered was his name, asked me questions about my photography, as I shot pictures of the art on display. He asked if I have lots of photos; “Are we talking hundreds?” I handed him one of my newly acquired business cards, and he sat me down to watch a YouTube video on the live art battles that are held every Wednesday night. He told me he had wanted a photgrapher to compete, and asked me to put a photo book together that he could feature in the gallery.
I left wondering what had just happened. It was elated, and scared, yet intrigued about participating in the art battle. A waited a couple weeks before going back. When I returned, I had already told two friends in particular that I was competing, and I stayed in contact with them via messenger.
The basic rundown of the battles works like this: Artists arrive at the gallery, at 7:00, the host spins the wheel, and gives us three different themes/inspirations. We then have 2 - 2.5 hours to create our piece before the auction. All other artists create on site, and the public can arrive at any time to watch art being created. I leave so I can shoot, edit, print, and frame my piece. I was nervous that first night, but I was committed to doing a great job. I drove out to a random location, and started shooting pictures, it was a neighborhood I hadn’t been to in a while, and I got distracted by a variety of things I wanted to take pictures of. I had to remind myself that I was on a schedule. When I was driving home, I came up with a completely different idea I wanted to try. (This is a recurring theme with my during battle.)
I was struck with inspiration, while thinking about one of my two friends on the other end of the phone. She was busy at the time, and didn’t know she had inspired me. I was happy with my piece, and drove back to the gallery. I thought I was nervous before, but it was worse when I got back and saw the gallery was full of spectators, people who would be bidding on art. My friend J reminded me to breathe, as I reported numbers to her. She knew I was waiting to find out if my piece would advance to auction stage. It did, but with the two hour time difference, I knew she wouldn’t be available for the rest of the night.
Not only did my piece make it to the auction, but it brought in more money than I had imagined it would. The lovely man that bought it, said it was the words that I put with the photo that really made him want to buy it. I spoke to other people as the night went on, and other artists introduced themselves to me, and asked if I’d be back the following week.
That first night was such a great experience. Rich checked to make sure I had enjoyed myself, that I was happy with how the night went, and the money that was paid for my first piece.
When I got home, J messaged me to ask how it went. I gave her a full report, including how she had inspired my first piece. That was also the night she became my muse, she continues to inspire and challenge me on a regular basis.
Now, I know it would take something really big to make me miss a battle night. Tomorrow will be my sixth battle, and I honestly look forward to it every week. I love how it challenges me, and sometimes puts me out of my comfort zone. I now have three friends who I check in with, and bounce ideas off of. All three are huge supporters of my photography. Last week, hours before battle, I went to the post office to pick up my book. Wow. My book! Still feels weird to say that, and I took a copy of it to the gallery with me. Those three friends were all thanked in my book. Rich loves the book, and bought a copy for himself.
I am so grateful that he opened Gorilla House in June, that he has a space for so many of us to come, and feed our creative hunger, and for him believing in my photography enough to encourage me to do a book. It is such a great group to be a part of. The art that is created in such a small allotment of time is amazing. If you live in Calgary, I encourage you to come to battle nights and support local artists.
Here’s the video from last week’s event:
It’s no secret that I love Pink. I love, love, love her, and may even throat punch anyone who says something derogatory about her: She’s a talented songwriter, fabulous singer, an advocate for marriage equality, a fabulous gymnast, has a rockin’ body, and is hot.
Now that I’ve cleared that up; I’ve been a fan of hers for years. She’s pushed many limits, and has challenged herself, at the same time. I eagerly awaited the release of “The Truth About Love”. “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”, the first single, came out at a time when I really needed to hear it. But then, I didn’t want to wait a couple more months for the rest of the album. Trust me, I’ve more than made up for the wait, I’ve been listening to it practically non stop. According to iTunes, I’ve listened to most tracks on average 45 times. That doesn’t take into account how many times I’ve listened to the album on my iPod, in my car. Or the slew of times I’ve listened to “Try”, her second single on my iPhone. Try is probably my favorite, second to Blow Me, and is the only track on the album that she didn’t write. Pink is quoted as saying that as soon as she heard Try, she knew it had to be her song.
It was interesting to watch an interview, where she said that she was still going to be singing about her husband, who had a fling while they were separated, but wouldn’t be singing about her family. He asked if she could be done singing about the fling now, and she said; “yes, as soon as this tour is over”. I had wondered if Motherhood would’ve softened her, or would have been evident in her songwriting. Pink is still very much Pink, as evidenced by Truth. There’s a variety of tracks, the aforementioned Try is a ballad, but there’s the anthemesque “Here Comes The Weekend”, featuring Eminem, the ultimate f*ck you song; Blow Me, the second collaboration of the album; “True Love” featuring Lily Rose Cooper, (formerly Lily Allen) that is a beautiful blend of both voices. It looks at the dichotomy of love, and hate in a relationship. “Just Give Me A Reason” was co written by Nate Ruess (like singer from fun), who also sings with her. “Run”, in my mind is Pink’s love letter to her daughter Willow, trying to save Willow from future hurts, and heartache by learning from her mom’s experiences.
There are many fun songs in the mix too, and why wouldn’t you want to acquire the deluxe version? Honestly, there isn’t a single song on the album that I don’t like, Beam Me Up is my least favorite, but I still like it. Pink likes to say she’s still the same, but more sober now. She certainly hasn’t lost her edge.
Thanks to the iTunes Festival app, I was able to see her concert. She was apologetic, in an unflinching way to the audience, explaining she had the lyrics in her phone, should she need them, as she hadn’t sung many of the songs in a long time. Since Willow was already asleep, she took great pleasure in saying f*ck, something that she doesn’t do much of at home, for obvious reasons. She also quipped that everyone looks at her adorable daughter now, instead of her. Proof came in the form of what fans threw on stage for her, rubber ducks, and teddy bears. She used to get underwear.
While performing on Good Morning America this week, she was asked about Miley Cyrus stealing her haircut. Pink very graciously said that she thinks Miley rocks it better (um, no), and that she likes Miley, so no one should bad mouth her.
I’d say Pink is back, but she wasn’t exactly gone, just on more of a maternity/parental leave. The tour starts in 2013, and lasts for two years, with time off for the holidays. I’m hoping to score some tickets, it’s time to enjoy her live, and in person. Be sure to check out her new album. Go. Right. Now. I cannot express to you how much I love it.
One of my most favorite things about Twitter, is the number of funny women I have the pleasure of following. I have been introduced to some intelligent, and hilarious people this way.
I started following Nikki Glaser over a year ago, and remember her tweeting that she was in Canada, and we had a little back and forth regarding what part of the country she was in. Vancouver. Close, but sadly not close enough.
Earlier this week, I was driving by the Elbow River Casino when I happened to see her name on their sign. Trying to not be a completely distracted driver, my brain processed her performance dates, and drove right home to text a couple friends to see if they wanted to attend. One, became three, and I set off the next day to purchase four tickets for her show.
I talked to the guy running the Yuk Yuk’s box office, as though Nikki was my friend. “She’s hilarious,” I told him. “I follow her on Twitter, and on Instagram, she takes great photos (truth, check it out for yourself), and she does a pod cast with her friend Sara, and their show starts on MTV in January.” I can’t help it, I like to inform people about all the cool in the world.
I tweeted that I had just purchased four tickets to her early show on Friday, and she replied. I followed this up by asking if comedians accept amazing doughnuts, in lieu of flowers, for a great show. Her reply; “YESSSS”. A girl after my own heart. Excellent.
We got to Yuk Yuk’s early, and secured seats close to the stage. The only other comedy show I had been to was Phylis Diller, when I was maybe eight. I’m sure it was wildly inappropriate that my father took me, but even then I knew how funny she was.
Nikki owned the stage from the moment she walked out. I don’t think she said a single thing that wasn’t funny. We were in tears from laughing so hard. My face hurt from laughing so much, and I couldn’t have been happier. Her comedy is relatable, smart, and quotable - but I don’t want to give anything away. If you’re in a city where she’s performing, I cannot stress enough how much you need to go see her. If you’re not, that sucks, but! She’ll be on Conan next week, so be sure to watch.
After the show, I approached Yuk Yuks staff, and asked if Nikki ever comes out to meet fans. They went to check, and she came out. She is lovely, and gracious, and not just because I gave her a gift certificate for the aforementioned doughnuts. She said she came out, hoping it was me. She hugged me, and posed for pictures with me. And honestly? I couldn’t have been a better night.
Now, I want to be able to see all my favorite stand up comedians perform live.
When I was ten, my dad took me to see Flashdance. In the theater. My parents divorced when I was two, and though my mom remarried when I was five, my dad was at this point a single dad that saw his daughters only a few times a year. He had already seen the movie once, loved it, and wanted to share it with us. (Thanks, Dad! I totally got my being a big kid who pretends to be an adult mentality from him.) My mom, on the other hand wasn’t impressed that we had seen it. I guess she didn’t want us learning two important lessons: 1. As a woman, you can in fact work in a male dominated field, in this case welding (Thanks Jennifer Beals for making welding super hot) and 2. Go after your dream of doing whatever you want, in this case becoming a professional dancer. And oh, okay fine, maybe there are a few inappropriate things for a ten year old to see. Oh well.
I was smitten with Jennifer Beals after Flashdance. She was my second celebri-crush, second only to Olivia Newtown John, (I saw Grease at least three times in the theater when I was five, and followed that up with Xanadu) I thought Jennifer’s portrayal of Alex was mesmorising. A tradition when visiting Dad in Toronto; go to the t-shirt place, select the design I wanted ironed on to the t-shirt of my choosing. This time, I opted for a heather grey, over sized sweatshirt, with a Flashdance design. I’m sure leg warmers found their way into my suitcase too.
Fast forward to earlier this week. I’m checking my Twitter Feed when I discover that East Village is hosting not only an outdoor screening of Flashdance, but an 80’s costume party as well. I could barely contain my excitement as I read the details on the event, madly copy and paste the link to my friend S’s Facebook. Then waited for her to get out of training and check her email, and respond with an enthusiastic yes. We started piecing our outfits together, and made a trip to a dance store, I’m certain I’m now an honorary Bunhead, as well as the proud owner of sparkly legwarmers.
I wore my black and gray Flashdance sweatshirt (thanks to Dick & Jane for stocking them last winter), black leggings, my new legwarmers, side ponytail, and a lot of crunchy hairspray, after S teased the crap out of my hair. She, was similarly attired, but did an amazing alteration to a basic white t-shirt, it’s now a rocker’s dream t-shirt. With snacks packed, and lawn chairs in the trunk of my car, we ventured to East Village. And had to leave a couple minutes later, to pick up blankets, it was the coolest night it’s been in a while, but it didn’t stop us. And really, the night blended so many great things: 1. the movie itself, and trust me, that crush on Jennifer Beals that started when I was ten? Yeah, it’s a lot stronger now. Let’s pause for a moment, and reflect on how stunningly beautiful she is. I’m back. 2. The soundtrack, 3. There isn’t a thing I don’t enjoy about East Village, and the film was screened on the side of the Simmons mattress building, a beautiful old brick building that I love to photograph, 4. The company I was with 5. Alley Burger Food Truck was present.
Honestly, it was the best movie experience I’ve ever had. I was super excited about every aspect, but I hadn’t stopped to think about all the things that I was able to do, that I’d never do in a movie theater: 1. I sang (out loud) to every song, because who doesn’t love that soundtrack? 2. Chair dancing 3. Cheering, coupled with one or two “Fuck Yeses” especially when she’s about to start her audition (and also likely the water dumping on her scene) 4. I took pictures, of the venue, of the opening scenes, and have some amazing pictures of Jennifer’s silhouette against a brick backdrop. 5. It was free!!
Sure, it’s not without a few glitches, the wind didn’t help, but the blankets sure did. And there were some girls that we’re pretty sure were drunk, and they were annoying, but that didn’t take away from our fun too much. We plotted how we’d handle the situation, without actual follow through.
I’m so glad we went. Next Thursday they’re screening their final movie of the summer - Best In Show (love that movie), with donations being collected for the SPCA.
The Flashdance soundtrack is stuck in my head, as well as ideas for incorporating my legwarmers into my regular wardrobe. When a friend texted me this morning, and asked me on a scale of 1 - 10 how it was, I told her it was an 11. East Village, I salute you! And I love the colors you selected for your lights, it was the perfect way for me to experience the area at night, for the first time.
I have three obsessions:
3. Food Trucks, and I have been since the pilot project first launched just over a year ago.
It’s great that the City wants to hear our feedback, and that the newspaper has a survey where you can vote for your favorite truck. The problem? I can’t choose. I haven’t had a chance to try all of the trucks yet, and some I’ve visited more than others. Even if I had tried them all by now, I’d have a hard time choosing. Narrow it down? Sure.
Today, I thought; “self, I’m craving Greek in a bad way, let’s do something about it.” Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that two friends are heading to Greece this Saturday. Not only am I super excited for them, but I’ve asked them to keep a food journal so they can tell me about all the deliciousness they experienced. And sure, if they want to
smuggle bring honey, almonds, and cheese back to share with me, I’m more than up for the task.
I got to Vasili’s lunchtime site mere minutes before the street food app (falsely) said they’d be closing. The good thing, not only was the app off by about half an hour, but the crowd was waiting for food from another truck. That’s what I like about our food trucks, they often travel in pairs, or clusters. Since I already follow them on Twitter, I saw someone had posted that they served the freshest feta this diner had ever had. I concur. I had The Big Bird, (not to worry, no Muppets were harmed in the making of my pita) grilled, marinated, succulent chicken, with tomato, feta, spring greens, topped with tzatziki. I truly was in Greek heaven, and wasted no time demolishing the pita. It’s like I inhaled it.
Now, as someone who likes Greek food, I’ve been to a couple restaurants, and I have to say, this was the best Pita I’ve ever, ever had. So delightful, so fresh.
Once again, I must brag that:
a) we have the best mayor in the Country, it’s true, Google “Mayor Nenshi”, and see for yourself.
b) we have the best food truck movement in the country. Why? See above. Since Nenshi is a firm supporter of this project, he has helped facilitate getting trucks on the streets, with proper permits. Also, the rules of the road are different here, than say in Toronto. Trucks are allowed to park on high foot traffic streets, as long as they are a certain distance away from restaurants. I’ve read that some trucks in Toronto were lucky to get initial permits, but then couldn’t acquire subsequent permits, and weren’t allowed to park anywhere useful.
So, if you’re coming from out of town to see me, I’m going to take you to a food truck. And, you’ll thank me for it.