Wednesday, May 6, 2015

fan mail

Dear Julie Doiron,
Every time I see you, I want to write you a letter about all the times I remember you. Once I even did, when you made some comment at a concert that fans don't write real letters anymore. But I couldn't track down an address for you and by the time your agent sent it to me, the letter I had written had been recycled.

I remember you when I lived in Montreal and I saw you for the first time at the Salla Rosa. Anna Sprague brought me- do you remember her from Sackville? Anyway it was winter and you were very pregnant with Rose, playing that giant guitar on top of your belly and wearing knee socks. I think I bought two albums that night. After that sometimes I would see you at co-op la Masion Vert. I used to go there often.

I remember you in Paris while I was there with this marionette troupe. I remember how happy I felt to pick up a colour flyer at some cafe and see your name on it. You played the day of my birthday, but that day I had been in the south, just outside of Toulouse at this artist commune called Terre Blanque.

I remember you in Moncton. I was a Katimavick project leader living with 11 teenagers on Railway ave just off Church street. In my memory it was winter that whole year. I saw you every time you came to town which felt like often. Those were also the touring days of an early Jill Barber and my high school friends in Wintersleep. My favorite memories of that year were walking down Church to the Paramount Lounge on Main. I was there that night you played with Rick. You asked me to take a picture of you and your parents just outside of the washroom. After I took the picture I asked you to play Wintermitts and you did and told stories of Villa Maria and NDG, both of which I was missing terribly.

I remember you in New York. When I came back you played Ottawa at the Rainbow room on my birthday. You had cut your hair short and I brought you some leftover birthday cake but it had some ingredient and you couldn't eat it. I had just come back from New York for the second time. The first had been a few weeks prior where I met this woman at a dyke bar in the West village, and finally realized that I was gay. I returned to visit her, but it didn't work out, so I ended up taking the first bus out of central station in the morning. Tonight is no night always reminds me of that sad and strange very early morning bus ride. I always request it but I call it this bus but you always know what I'm talking about.

I remember you in London. I dated HB long distance for over a year. and neighbours didn't understand. and the hours would never match. and when it all ended and I flew home on New Years day and I was alone in the cold house, oh these walls. I would close my eyes to each night, sending my hopes on that flight.

I remember you in Toronto last spring when I picked up the new LP somewhere on Queen street. I made a video as I was lying in bed with maybesomeday at the Gladstone hotel, looking at the shadows of the cars going by on the ceiling. I used one of those happy songs about being glad to be alive. In those days I was hoping for the best when the breaks got wet. I was a tailor, and a woodstove, and a fire keeping it warm all night.
and I didn't mind, taking my time.

but I probably should have.
Minded. The taking of my time.

I remember you in Kingston the night of my first solo exhibition. I was thinking about my huge family that seems to span the universe and you know, yer kids love you more, than you know. and they love you just the same.

I remember you in Ottawa last night and you sang Blue when I asked for it. You said it was hard on a personal level - but played it anyway. I asked because I'm taking a heart vacation. Focusing on me and heal from what feels like a life long haul of heartache. That song makes me feel strong. It makes me feel in control of my heart. Reminds me that I can decide and I am better off on my own. Reminds me that the lonely of choosing to be alone is way better then the lonely of heartache. For such a sad song, it actually makes me really happy.

and I'm not some pre-teen groupie. I feel old and I work and I get by. In the last few years I write it all out in this blog under an alias and some people say I make heartache beautiful.
and I say I learned from the best.


The fan.

Julie Doiron driving fast on loose gravel mix

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The streets of Philadelphia

Joy and I just got back from an amazing weekend visit to Philadelphia, and I was blown away by the city. I have been to many cities around the world - and I have never loved one as much as I love this one. I feel like I could go on and on - from the amazing old architecture and rich history, to the great food, great people, green spaces, hot bikes, cool queers and fucking kick ass basketball....
But I was particularly struck by the city's Mural Arts Program. Just Since 1985 the city has commissioned over 3,000+ murals, many of which involve community collaborations. according to the site's history :

The Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as a component of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, an effort spearheaded by then Mayor Wilson Goode to eradicate the graffiti crisis plaguing the city. The Anti-Graffiti Network hired muralist Jane Golden to reach out to graffiti writers and to redirect their energies from destructive graffiti writing to constructive mural painting.
Jane Golden quickly befriended the graffiti writers and was impressed by their raw artistic talent and their self-taught knowledge of art history. She recognized the amazing creative force they represented, and she began to provide opportunities for them to channel their creative talent into mural-making. Mural painting also provided a support structure for these young men and women to refine their artistic skills, empowering them to take an active role in beautifying their own neighborhoods. The murals they created instantly added color, beauty, and life to an old, industrial city struggling with decades of economic distress and population loss. The results of the program were nothing less than magical. From the beginning, Golden witnessed how mural-making changed lives and how the murals themselves began to mend the aesthetic fabric of the city.
Since 1984 - over 3000 murals have been made and 10's of thousands of under-served youth and adults engaged with art education. You have to love a program whose mission includes a list of rationales, including my favorite  -the last one:
Yo, This is Fun!
We're from Philly. We're for Philly. And we're having a hell of a good time.

I am so FOR Philly.
I sought out a few galleries while I was in town, to see artists I love and admire – but it was on the streets walking around, that I was consistently and repeatedly awed by art. I was struck by how successfully the program infused visual art over the diverse city. The entire public accesses and engages with visual art every single day, in their own neighborhoods and across the city.

The program is based on a network of professional artists, community organizations and public and private funding partnerships. It was one of the best examples of public engagement with visual arts I have ever experienced.

In particular – I really enjoyed the “love letter for you” project by artist/designer Stephen Powers
I've also been listening to ?uestlove's (of the Roots) audio tour of the African American murals throughout the city. Well worth turning on and checking out. I've listened to a ton of audio guides in my day, and this one is really great.
If you haven't been to Philadelphia yet - GO. Plus it's about a month ahead of Ottawa in terms of weather, so while it's still grey and cold here - 8 hours away it's lush, hot and green.

And needless to say I've spent much of today trolling apartment and job listings...
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