saved from my own ways by beautiful boys

sanfran leap
San Francisco 2008

My summer is about to explode. It has already started, a little, (I sneaked into a rave on Friday night, spent Saturday on a cross-Atlantic guitar lesson with Richard, Saturday night with dear friends at a dinner, blowing people’s minds with synchronicity, and Sunday at an epic wedding that involved a boat, a full-sized, bright red, radio controlled dalek wedding cake that shouted EXTERMINATE, (part gluten free, too!), a hexacopter ring-bearer, and friends from six or seven countries), but this past weekend was just the amuse bouche.

My comrade Nathan is taking us to Cirque Du Soliex’s Totem tonight for my upcoming birthday, then we’re leaving on Thursday evening for the Sasquatch Music Festival. The line-up is absolutely fantastic, many of my favourite bands are playing, (Elbow, Mogwai, Die Antwood, The National, Cut Copy, TuNe-YaRds, etc.), and it’s going to be our first road-trip. I almost cannot wait. I feel like a little kid, counting sleeps.

Then, on the way back, Nathan is dropping me off in Seattle and I’m going to California for my birthday, courtesy of my ability to fit into a suitcase AKA a sweetheart’s business trip to the Google mothership! Flexibility pays off. Apparently I’ll be flying from Seattle on the 26th or 27th and staying for approximately two weeks.

I leave Canada in four days, but know zero about my flights or even where or when I’m to meet up with my dear B. It is so strange and yet delightful to know I am to be travelling, but not know when or precisely where to. It’s like a trust exercise with the universe that I am surprisingly completely fine with. Are we meeting in Seattle? In California? Where? No idea. I have zero information, but it’s.. gratifying? It feels proper. Makes it more of an adventure, for sure.

I imagine I’ll be taking the train a lot back and forth between SF and Silicon Valley for the first week and tucking in for work during the days, but other than that, my time is open. B. will only be there for the first week and mostly busy with work, which is a bit sad, he is smart and sassy and wonderful, but I’m still thrilled. Once I wave my kerchief goodbye to him at the airport, I’ll couch-float with friends in the Mission or the Castro or the Tenderloin.

The only plans I have so far: Jed and I are making sultry eyes at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind on May 30th, (come with us!), and Richard has informed me that must visit him at the Vulcan on the first Thursday in June. And Morissa says I can use her house for a birthday dinner party! (Party date as yet to be determined). Other than that, it’s almost all a giant question mark. Do you know of anything going on in SF between May 26th and June 6th-ish? Let’s adventure!

Then I’m back to Seattle for a week to go to the the Georgetown Carnival and the Power Tool Drag Races and all that fun stuff. Maybe play some flaming tether ball. Mars and I are learning to be friends again, too, which makes Seattle much better to visit. I don’t know if B. will be around, but I hope so. (If he isn’t totally sick of me after sharing a hotel room for a week, that is. “Why are all the towels stained scarlet?”, “Why is my pillow purple?”, “How did the room ceiling end up covered in glow-in-the-dark stars? Are those constellations.. accurate?”)

I plan to return to Vancouver on June 15th, immediately put my passport in for renewal the day I get back!, collect certain papers from my mother, Vicki, that she’s bringing back from Ireland, do all of the laundry in the world, maybe throw a quick Vancouver-based birthday party, then head out to Ontario. The plan is to go to REcon (June 23rd – 29th) in Montreal via Waterloo courtesy of Ian, my besty who wants to drive up from Ontario in my fine company. Improbable, yes. Possible, very. I owe his cat Dewie about a thousand snuggles. And I think he’s starting to get tired of carrying his favourite Internet Girl around in his phone à la Her. And Audra has offered us her charming AirBnB apartment in Toronto for a couple of nights, (she has a cotton candy machine!!!), so we could home base out of Toronto and visit with people and stay up late in the city rather than having to go back to Waterloo. I’m sure we’ll use it, as I’m five or six years overdue for a visit and the good people just keep piling up. I even have an uncle there I’ve never met who seems supracool. Why don’t I live in Toronto? I Do Not Even Know.

We’ll be stopping by in Ottawa on our way to Montreal, too, to stop by the river market and stuff our faces with scrumptious berries and sugary beaver tails and APPLY FOR MY IRISH PASSPORT WITH THE EMBASSY! Happy birthday to me! I’m Irish! I HAVE EU AND EVERYTHING. As of, like, six days ago. My mother, bless her, went to Ireland as part of a Canada Council art project with Paul and took the packet of my needful documents with her, followed the very detailed instructions, and has filed my birth with the Irish government!

REcon is apparently a marvelous time, too. It’s run by Hugo, who I love to hang out with at CanSec. I’ve never spent as much time with him or his friends as I would like, so this is perfect. And apparently the Circus Festival starts in Montreal on July 2nd, so maybe we’ll get away with sticking around for a day or two longer for that. Either way, I plan to get fat and happy on delicious food, hug a lot of people, dance my face off, and ride a lot of city bikes. Christine wants to go to the new Cirque show, Kurios, too. I approve. There will also be chocolate and a stop by Santropol. Oh yes.

And no, I don’t know anything solid about flight dates on this trip yet either. IT IS ALL A FANTASTIC MYSTERY.

And then I’m in Vancouver until ToorCamp. (That might be for less than a week, oi). ToorCamp is another hacker event, but in Washington State on July 9th. Nathan wants me to go with him, so of course I said yes. Hopefully my passport will have come back by then and I’ll be good to go. I don’t know much about it, except that the people I know who’ve gone in the past are all excellent.

I have also been tapped to work as the Art Director for Hacked Festival, another hacker event from August 11th – 14th, but this one in Vancouver. It’s their inaugural year and maybe I’ll be able to help, even though I’m barely going to be around for the next few months. (Apply to be a speaker or an artist naow!) I’ve told them about my travel schedule, but the founder met me at BIL and he seems to want me involved anyway, so I might end up going through with it just because. If that ends up being the case, that will fit in right after ToorCamp. And right before Burning Man.

I have a number of options for Burning Man this year, but I think I might be tossing a bunch of them over to stay with a lawyer friend from Seattle. Not only do I appreciate him a metric ton just in general, I cannot get enough of his art project, an infrared photobooth. People step inside into pitch blackness, the infrared flash goes off, and though all they see is a small red light, the pictures look like they were taken in daylight.

And then, come September, rest. Playing with ferrets. Adventure is fine, (dying is fine)but Death), but I’m going to miss my ferrets. Pepper and Selenium are the best.

TLDR; If all goes well, I’m going to live out of a suitcase this summer.

still deeply enchanted by this tribe

WIRED has a really nice new piece (with photos and a video of some of the clock restoration!) on one of my favourite inspiring secret-art collectives, UX, the dreamy Parisian group that specializes in fantastical heritage restorations and interstitial spaces:

A mysterious band of hacker-artists is prowling the network of tunnels below Paris,
secretly refurbishing the city’s neglected treasures.

Thirty years ago, in the dead of night, a group of six Parisian teenagers pulled off what would prove to be a fateful theft.

[…] This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris.

[…] UX’s most sensational caper (to be revealed so far, at least) was completed in 2006. A cadre spent months infiltrating the Pantheon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France’s most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and Internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge, and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Pantheon’s 19th- century clock, which had not chimed since the 1960s. Those in the neighborhood must have been shocked to hear the clock sound for the first time in decades: the hour, the half hour, the quarter hour.

[…] One summer, the group mounted a film festival devoted to the theme of “urban deserts”—the forgotten and underutilized spaces in a city. They naturally decided the ideal venue for such a festival would be in just such an abandoned site. They chose a room beneath the Palais de Chaillot they’d long known of and enjoyed unlimited access to. The building was then home to Paris’ famous Cinèmathèque Franèaise, making it doubly appropriate. They set up a bar, a dining room, a series of salons, and a small screening room that accommodated 20 viewers, and they held festivals there every summer for years. “Every neighborhood cinema should look like that,” Kunstmann says.

better than the night sky in the city

Originally uploaded by mohawk.

Kyle and I went climbing over rocks and under fences yesterday evening to finally get at the infamous devastation of Stanley Park. Those dissenters who have been claiming that the destruction is mild and that our city has been stalling out of some mis-matched version of civic pride are incredibly wrong. On our way to the first fence, we saw a few empty gaps in the forest, but nothing lamentable, true. (Minus one especially kind tree that had always been perfect for branch sitting, feet drifting in the water, a book in hand). However, past the second gate, the path was crumpled, so cracked and pried up like flaking nail polish the bent cement looked pliable. There were huge trees thrown in our way and strange waterfalls spraying from broken pipes at the top of the cliffs. In the gathering dark, muttering and whispering as it was, we had to be careful. The Seawall was so changed as to feel like we were exploring another city, one wrecked and left for dead. The ground was crooked, stones dented or missing, randomly flooded. In the end, we had to run from guards before we reached the end. I want to go back, but closer to the day. Next time, I want to try from the other end, camera in hand. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Heart of the World inside (I am not the girl in the photo)

Inside of the theatre is a neglected microcosm, thoroughly dreamlike and unexpectedly specific. The foyer is much of what you would expect, rag painted light blue and carrying the dim scent of dropped-rail fluorescents, but farther in, however, are surprises. It’s a 300 seat theatre, complete with a balcony with box seats, and though there’s a very certain air of shabby mistreatment, everything’s quite intact. The heavy velvet curtains still swing with a glorious weight and the stage, as much as we could see of it, seems undamaged.

Unfortunately, the realtor was astonishingly unhelpful on the matter of light-switches, which left significant portions of the building lost in a sinister darkness. Backstage, for example, an immense space, three stories tall. I tried to use my camera flash to see, only to discover a maze of chairs and miscellany piled a decade high, impossible to navigate without a steady light. Under the stage was more darkness, this time obscuring a suite of blank rooms I presume used to serve as the proper backstage area, the green room, and where the old caretaker used to live when it the The New York.

They let him live there in exchange for janitorial services. Silva talked to him in 1986, when we lived in the building adjacent, and discovered that he used to be an architect, but blew his mind out when he took a tab of acid that turned out to be something else entirely. He said to her, “I remember when I used to be smart, but I’m not anymore.”

I didn’t brave many of those rooms, only the ones easiest to find lights in, as stepping so blindly into the darkness felt as perilous as it very likely was. I might have been the first person to explore them in years.

Upstairs was far more promising to investigate. The booth, though ridiculously cluttered with celluloid heaps of Bollywood spools, oddly shaped reel tins, and strange burlap covered boxes marked AIRMAIL MUMBAI, is entirely in working order. The equipment looks to be possibly from the fourties, which is modestly intimidating, but the bulb’s been replaced recently enough to alleviate worries about sudden burnout. (What an annoying bill that would be. Ouch.) All in all, it looks to be perfect. (Even down to the fact that the bolt on the booth door is a screwdriver.)

My only concerns will likely be dealt with once I get my hands on both the floor-plans and the current owner’s financial records form the last three months. That will let me A. find the damned lights, and B. finish a proper business plan to interest financers with.

In the meanwhile, this is the rough-draft of my blurb that I’m going to want everyone to whore around – if you have any suggestions to improve it, please don’t hesitate to tell me:

Built in 1910, the Raja Theatre has recently come up for sale. When it was the New York – before it spent a decade as a Bollywood house – the theatre was a fabulous venue known for hosting an astonishing number of fantastic shows, diverse and interesting, such as Neil Young when he toured with Sonic Youth and Krispin Hellion Glover. It is my hope to buy the building and re-open it as the Heart of the World, a multi-arts cultural venue that recaptures and surpasses its previous glory.

Heart of the World is to be an art house repertory, showing everything from original work, (support your artists, people!), to old films where the copyright’s run out, and double-bills like Marc Caro nights, (Amélie, Delicatessen, City of the Lost Children), everyone’s favourite director they never knew the name of. It will also be available for both acoustic and amplified concerts, plays, short performances, and coffee house cabaret evenings. The stage is quite big, and once we dig it out from the decade high pile of uprooted chairs and miscellaneous boxes, it will be beautiful again. I’d also like to have podcasts of performances available on-line for download and use the foyer as a small art gallery of paintings and photography from artists both local and international.

I am attempting to find investors, and if you want to help, please contact me at with your name and your specialties. Even if you think you’ve got nothing to offer, I’m sure we can find a place for you. Every bit of help is appreciated and work, depending on category, will be paid in shares.

If you think you could help with financing, either by a small donation or by a larger contribution, here’s my plan:

An investor, which could be you or someone you know, buys the theatre outright under contract with me that I eventually pay them the full amount, but that I only end up owning a controlling share, just over half the property. I take care of the taxes, the etceteras, and I make the venue work. I run the place and ultimately we are both in the enviable position of making money with a good thing. The investor is guaranteed to make a profit no matter what happens – even if I default, they still own a considerable asset, one that will be worth more by then from all the work I’ll have put in.

Basically the investor gets all their money back, I get the controlling share, and we both get a really awesome venue that not only enriches Vancouver culturally and opens space to artists, but which promises to provide a steady income.

(my suitcase in my best friend)

super sexe
Originally uploaded by Foxtongue.

Architecture to stretch out in without scraping my fingers on roughly green glass walls. There are no mountains to hem people in here, no ocean to swallow their gaze completely to the exclusion of culture. I blend in. In Vancouver, I stand out in the street as something odd to look at. It’s like a weight lifted, all those people looking elsewhere. I don’t feel like a bare gallery of this hat, these clothes. Instead, beautiful pieces of public graffiti sprayed onto the brick skin of buildings a century old reach out to me and remove weight from my shoulders.

My trip to Toronto is confirmed: I leave on Monday, Dec 19, at 6.15 on train #69.
I return to Montreal on Friday Dec 23.

I’m living with James at Sherbrooke and St. Laurant. It reminds me of the first time I lived in Toronto, when my apartment was at Queen and Spadina. There’s a similar sense of being exactly in the right place downtown to properly chase dragons. It’s like Sigur Ros is playing underneath every creaking step I take on snow, lending me magic and grandeur. Tkch, tkch, tkch. Everything is dusted white. I don’t pad around here. It’s impossible. My feet are encased in big clunky shoes. My feet are clumsy. My feet are walking somewhere they’ve never been. Every curb is a cliff leading down to some improbable country where I’m glad I don’t know the language.

Yesterday, like the day before, I walked for hours. I haven’t done anything yet, but I’ve seen.