Sunday, June 20, 2004

No denouement, just drinking

So Dick and I attended the Spacing Issue 2 magazine launch on Thursday.

We walked into the El Mocambo around 10 PM, passing through a scattered crowd of sidewalk smokers. After paying the $10 cover, the cashier handed us each a copy of the magazine. I thumbed the thin pages while putting my change in my wallet. The mag looked good, smartly designed, minimalist -- but I would have to get to it later. We weaved through the crowd, all the way to the front where the MC was handing out raffle prizes.

"And the prize pack goes to...1-0-3-4-2-4...hey we have a he comes, a tall man. What's your name, sir? Heighton? H-...Hayden? You're not the famous Hayden are you? Enjoy the CDs, man, thanks for your money!"

We had no knowledge of this magazine except through the website, and one Spacing staffer's photoblog that I check out periodically. I certainly didn't know that the mag was part of a larger cause, put forth by a group called the Toronto Public Space Committee.

The MC introduced a couple of art videos for us to watch, which we did. Then there was a bit of a lull in the presentation while the bands set up, so a shag-haired fellow in a red, besloganed shirt took the stage and started ad-libbing.

Then all of a sudden, he introduced us to...the one and only, the NDP Candidate for Trinity-Spadina, one Olivia Q. Chow.

A conversation between Dick and I, not five minutes earlier while walking up Spadina Ave.:

"I almost don't want the NDP to win. You know why? Olivia Chow."

"Ohhh...she's incompetent. She is simply gross."

"She soils the entire NDP. They're ruined. How the hell did that woman get into any kind of public-facing position whatsoever?"

"Layton. No other reason. She's the worst part of the entire Canadian federal election. Pure feel-good shite."

"She wipes her ass with taxpayer dollars, and calls it vibrant and diverse street art."

"I cannot stand Olivia Chow even a little bit. Fuck."

Oh sweet serendipity. So out came Olivia. Dick's eyes swelled up into ping-pong balls. The Bicycles started playing some background bossa nova, and Ms. Chow gave a little speech. It was thirty or so seconds I wish I'd videotaped. There was something odd about her stage presence. Maybe it was her aggressiveness, or the way her elbows kinked when making hand gestures, or her shrieky, meandering narrative (she drifted this way and that, haplessly segueing a rallying cry for more bike lanes into a bizarre anecdote about ugly green hedges creeping over her driveway fence, to the edification of no one).

Looking over her shoulder and sensing that her time was up, she shouted "We have a PLAN! For URBAN SPACES! Thank you!", and then exited to the back, leaving the crowd in stunned awe. Showing up at the event was commendable, but politicians seldom achieve crowd rapport in front of youth. Political rhetoric glances off crowds like this, and campaigners trying to show their "young side" (Ed Broadbent excepted) end up in the pages of Frank Magazine, not Eye Magazine. Olivia spared us either tactic, and did the admirable thing: she simply showed up half-drunk.

Dick and I, gracious guests as we are, followed suit.

The oblong bar forced us to the back of the club, where we watched the crowd from afar. Dick and I could not stop talking about the women -- I've crawled to every decrepit edge of this town, seen every sliver of nightlife under these Ontario stars, and never once seen girls like these. These were the bookish, folk types. The real kind, the messed up kind. I love those. We're talking obsessive diarists and art-house nerds and greenhouse gardeners and acoustic music junkies, who still go out and party. I sat at the bar with my Keith's, rapt.

(If you are reading this, and are a female who was in attendance at the Spacing magazine launch party, I probably want to marry you. In fact, let's dispense with proper courtship. E-mail me and we shall be wed on the Velvet Lounge deck, quietly, without undue pomp or formality, and we'll lift wine glasses after I Do.)

Elliot Brood came out with his band, a roots outfit with an electric banjo lead. They were fantastic. I tried calling a friend on a cell phone, but couldn't get a signal amidst the noise. Unable to get many conversations going, and resigned to being outsiders in this crowd, Dick and I simply began drinking like fiddlers. With the crowd thinning to a trickle by this point, we bid the hotties adieu, walked across the street to Grossman's -- a souse's haven -- and continued our self-embalming. We ended up in a pierogie joint on Dundas Ave., wet with drink, trying to convince a waitress we had Polish cred. The end.


Blogger Nihilist said...

Sounds like a good time. I was invited to it, but had shit to do. =\

1:41 PM  

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