Friday, July 22, 2005

~*...the aftermath of birthday month...and the west coast of canada...*~

this one is going to be a long entry, maybe cause i haven't added anything to my blog in three weeks. i've been up to so many things, so i might as well start at the beginning. there is going to be a lot of reading if you're here, but i've decided to add pix directly into my blog instead of linking to them. hopefully that'll make your read a little more enjoyable.

my birthday month was the most memorable of my life. it was no surprise that my july would also be just as memorable. on the last day of my birthday month i czech'd out dj dan at boa. there was some concern as to whether or not boa would be open that night as their sound system was repossessed the weekend before. it definitely was a hot topic of conversation within the toronto electronic music community. lucky for us the system was in full force that thursday night, and dan rawked it. if you haven't heard the sound system at boa, i'd highly suggest you make it a priority. the boa sound system is how is music was meant to be heard. its like you are wrapped up in perfect sound. and hey, $10 for dj dan on the boa sound system you really can't go wrong.

july 1st was canada day, time for another edition of the tribe magazine canada day bbq. it still amazes me how a community of electronic music lovers have created such a strong bond thanks to an online messageboard forum. the strongest communities are always the ones that share music. i remember meeting so many tribe nicknames at the first bbq in 1999 at cherry beach. what an incredible time we live in where we know each other by our online nicknames first before we know each other by our birth given names.

the bbq was held at hanlan's point on the toronto islands. i love the islands, its one of those getaways within the city that so few people take advantage of. just a 10 minute ferry away from the downtown core and all of a sudden there are no cars, lots of trees, and space to think and breathe (away from the smog that covers the city). i arrived with two beautiful women, isa and stacy, and their baby girls, valentina (5 months) and caelyn (11 months).

the remainder of the afternoon was spent drinkin, enjoying lifted spirits, playing frisbee, and dancing to some propah beatz. there was a full sound system set up at our picnic area, and we were treated to some of toronto's best local dj talent. another great thing about hanlan's point is the clothing optional beach. its a haven for toronto's gay community, and they were out in full force that canada day. i was fortunate to run into a few hotties whom i convinced to join the tribe krew for some drinks and beatz. did i mention how hawt these boyz were? the one with the eight pack was also chinese jamaican, and shared my mom's maiden name, wong.

after a long day in the sun enjoying the birthday of our country, i took the ferry back to the mainland and caught the last bit of the feist concert at the cibc stage of harbourfront. i love this city. with only so many weekends to enjoy warm weather, torontonians take every opportunity to get outside and dance for free. every weekend in the summer there is always somewhere to go to hear free music outside.

on saturday, july 2, i began my evening at the northbound leather fetish party at 5ive followed by an evening of dancing at funhaus for dark rave. i love dressing up, and fet parties are a great place to explore fashion and whatever else you're into safely and comfortably.

on sunday, i made my way down to cherry beach for the promise cherry beach sound system cherry beach sundaze are the best weekly event this city has to offer in my opinion. free music by the beach on a sunday afternoon with chill peeps. just show up, drink, smoke, dance, throw a frisbee, spin poi, spin fire, leave no trace. over 250 people showed up to enjoy an amazing sunday afternoon. thanks dave and irving for organizing the best sunday afternoon jamz.

my week was spent getting ready for my trip out west. my good friend will from university was getting married to his japanese girlfriend of five years. they are currently living in downtown vancouver just minutes away from stanley park. after an incredible evening with a beautiful soul (hi erin!), i boarded my plane friday morning for vancouver. with jetsgo gone, the prices of plane tickets for all of the other airlines just skyrocketed. i remember pricing out tickets for this trip before jetsgo went belly up, and the price for a return flight out west with taxes was around $400. i ended up flying with canjet for about $540.

will picked my up at the airport in his pimped out pt cruiser dream machine. the metallic copper colouring was badass, and the ride was smooth. aaah, turbo. there's something about the west coast that immediately comforts you. its a combination of the ocean and the mountains. you don't have to see them, you can feel them. the mountains remind you how short of a time we've been around. they are huge and majestic, and of course incredible to ride in the winter time. the fresh ocean air invigorates. this country is so beautiful, and its easy to tune into how beautiful it is when you are in british columbia.

will and i spent the afternoon chilling in stanley park, enjoying some off sale brews and tossing a disc around. this was my only opportunity to take advantage of just norm and will time, and it was great to chill with my friend. will had been teaching english in japan for the past five years and has been living in vancouver for the past year. the last time i saw will was at our friend steve (who was also will's best man) and kate's wedding back in 2002. will had brought his gf, now wife, yukiko to steve and kate's wedding. he also caught the garter, and none of our friends have got married since then...until now.

after dropping my gear off at my friend brett's place in kitsilano where i was staying, i ended up in east vancouver to visit some omies who now call the west coast home. there was a good krew of peeps chillin out at my friend dawn's place on commercial drive. we just cooled out, chatted, enjoyed lifted spirits and each other's company.

om has brought so many incredible people into my life, and it was great to spend the evening with friends from om who have now made british columbia their home. but i was pretty jet lagged, so my evening had to end. brett and his gf were away for the weekend, so i had their place to myself. thanks brett and laura for your hospitality.

on saturday, steve, will, will's friend lito, and i met up at will's place and prepared for will's stag which included an afternoon of atv'ing on blackcomb mountain. after filling up on uber expensive gas we began our two hour drive to the town of whistler.

the drive up to whistler is one of the most beautiful drives you could ever experience. driving up through horseshoe bay surrounded by the ocean on one side and mountains on the other makes for a breathtaking journey. it also makes for a very dangerous drive. mountains on one side and ocean on the other can be very treacherous, especially at night. its been said that it is the most dangerous stretch of road in all of canada. winding through the mountains with a cliff leading to the ocean on the other side, i realized just how dangerous an accident on that road could be.

whistler is an extreme sports enthusiast's wet dream. two world class mountains, whistler and blackcomb, side by side, a gorgeous village nestled at the bottom, a badass skatepark, and more outdoor activities than anywhere i've been. there are just so many extreme ways to bust your head open in whistler, and everyone is there for the mountain. that creates a very unique energy, and makes the girls there even hotter cause you know that they are there for the mountain. man, there's something about girlz who ride that makes them extra hawt.

extreme mountain biking is huge at whistler, and there were hundreds of enthusiasts tearing up the mountain that saturday. i even saw a guy in a tricked out wheelchair mountain bike. i had never seen a wheelchair mountain bike before: four wheels, handle bars, caliper brakes, and body armour. you don't have to be able to walk to be extreme!

we suited up for our two hour atv experience on blackcomb mountain. in full rain gear, we were prepared to get wet. and with the rainy weather they'd been having the week before, we had lots of puddles to splash through. man, driving an atv is so much fun. sitting on an engine ripping through the mountains is awesome. i had done the same atv tour last time i was in whistler in 2000 with my friend terri. the trails we took were the same, but the atvs we were riding were new and so were the people i was sharing the experience with.

rippin up the mountain on an atv is too much fun. it also gave us some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views of whistler. we brought up the rear of our touring krew, which allowed us hold back a bit and then open up our atvs to see how fast we could go. the atvs were modified so that they could only go up to 65km/hr. i got mine up to 63km/hr. daam those things are fun. splashing through huge mud puddles on an atv at 50km/hr is a rush i'd highly recommend if you have the opportunity.

after two hours of exploring blackcomb mountain on atvs, we began our journey back down the mountain, but not before our guide treated us to some stationary atv acrobatics. being EXTREME is a prerequisite to live in whistler.

we grabbed a few pitchers at the longhorn bar in the whistler village before we headed back to vancouver for steak dinner at the granville island keg and naked women at the cecil hotel :D alright, what's with the lack of nightlife in vancouver? the strip club closed at 1am...on a saturday! we were forced to find other entertainment, which was more difficult than it sounds. we jumped into a cab and headed to a bar called the drake. on our drive there, a group of people walked in front of our cab and one of the girls decided to lift up her skirt and show us her well coiffed bush. we were in awe. where does that shit happen? you just never know when a girl might randomly flash her beaver.

well, of course the drake was closed, so we had our cabbie take us to an after hours club...yah, i was surprised to hear that there even was an after hours club in vancouver. we ended up at a place called the world. when i asked the guy at the door what was going on, he informed me that the club was open until 7am, there is a $20 cover, no booze, house music, and a predominantly gay crowd. that didn't work well with our krew. coming from a tittie bar and ending up at a gay club wasn't the way will wanted to end his stag. while they discussed how lame vancouver nightlife is, i went down the nearest alleyway to take a leak. i had to walk around a guy smokin crack by the garbage dump before i was able to relieve myself. what the fuck? yes, vancouver has a pretty bad drug problem. lots of heroin and crack addicts, mostly concentrated in the main and hastings area (or pain and wastings as some people like to call it). that was the end of our saturday night.

on sunday, i drove to ladner near the ferry docks in tsawwassen to visit my cousin debbie and her family. my cousin's daughter sandy was also there. we had a great afternoon chilling out, enjoying sandwiches in the afternoon sunshine (and drizzle).

i picked up my friend kristin at the ferry docks around dinner time and headed back to vancouver for some japanese ramen. i had met kristin five years earlier on my last trip to british columbia. we met at three day festival called shambalah, in the b.c. kootenays. we shared a great connection, and i'm glad that we still not only keep in touch but get to spend time together. she lives in calgary, but flew out to victoria to spend time with her friend stacy, and spent the last few days of her trip with me in vancouver.

on monday, i spent the afternoon with my cousin michelle and her daughter sandy on kitsilano beach. we had a picnic in the overcast sometimes drizzling weather. its great to spend time with family. that night, kristin and i went dancing at the lotus club and watched the sun rise from jehrico beach. the mountains and the ocean are truly magical, especially when i get to share it with good people.

tuesday afternoon was spent on wreck beach off the ubc campus. wreck beach is another world altogether. the trek down there is intense, lots of stairs. the trek out of there is a challenge, even for the fit and athletic. the beach is pristine. a long sanday beach with the pacific ocean breaking against the shores. you can walk out a good 50 feet into the water and only be up to your knees. i was there with kristin and my friend alec, another omie who has made the west coast his home. hanging out naked on a beach on the ocean surrounded by trees and mountains *sigh* its very easy to tune into gaia when she's just outside your door. and if the ocean and mountains aren't enough to make wreck beach so unique, you can buy pretty much whatever altered state you like from people walking along the beach. there are naked people selling cold beers, smirnoff ice, marijuana cookies, chocolate covered mushrooms, joints, hash, samosas. its pretty crazy what people get away with on that beach. i ain't complainin.

that night, kristin's friend stacy came in from victoria. we met her in downtown vancouver for the ben harper concert at the commodore ballroom (thanks for the ticket k-dawg). the show was sold out, but kristin was able to score tix from ebay. the venue was small (900 people), which made for a very intimate atmosphere. the lineup to get in was pretty big, but there was lots of space inside to see the stage. we got ourselves a table and enjoyed a great show. i don't know too many ben harper songs, but the energy of the crowd made up for my lack of knowledge.

the last time i heard ben harper play was 2003 in toronto. kristin was visiting and my friend ron had box seats at the molson amphitheater. there was a much larger crowd at that show, and i had many close friends there to share the experience with. i enjoyed the intimacy of the commodore venue and having two hardcore ben harper fans with me made the experience even better.

the most popular ben harper song would be burn one down...its the theme music for all stoners. the cloud of smoke that rises from the crowd when this song is played is quite thick and aromatic ;)

Let us burn one

From end to end

And pass it over

To me my friend

Burn it long, we'll burn it slow

To light me up before i go

If you don't like my fire

Then don't come around

Cause i'm gonna burn one down

Yes i'm gonna burn one down

My choice is what i choose to do

And if i'm causing no harm

It shouldn't bother you

Your choice is who you choose to be

And if your causin' no harm

Then you're alright with me

If you don't like my fire

Then don't come around

Cause i'm gonna burn one down

Yes i'm gonna burn one down

Herb the gift from the earth

And what's from the earth

Is of the greatest worth

So before you knock it try it first

You'll see it's a blessing

And not a curse

If you don't like my fire

Then don't come around

Cause i'm gonna burn one down

Yes i'm gonna burn one down

i took the ferry to victoria on vancouver island the next day with kristin. the ferry ride is beautiful, breathtaking actually. cruising through the gulf islands with the sun shining *sigh* this country is just gorgeous, and the ferry ride to victoria is an excellent way to soak up the beauty of the great white north.

we were picked up by my friend stevie at the swartz bay ferry dock near victoria. stevie is also another omie from toronto that has made the west coast his home. can you sense a theme here?

kristin was heading back to calgary, so we dropped her off at the victoria airport and continued on to victoria. victoria is the capital of british columbia, and like the rest of the province it is breathtakingly beautiful. it is quiet, conservative, and home for the newly wed and the nearly dead. people are either pushing a stroller or pushing a walker. and it is very caucasian. i noticed the lack of diversity in vancouver (i saw maybe 10 black guys in van, 4 of which i saw twice) but victoria was even less multicultural. coming from toronto, the most multicultural city in the world, not seeing diversity made me feel, well, like a minority. i was walking through a neighbourhood with my friend ryan and i noticed an old man open his front door a little bit and watch as ryan and i walked past his house, then he closed his door. ryan joked and said "it's cause we're both black."

i was only in victoria for a night to see stevie and ryan. there really isn't much to do in victoria, but the company was worth the breathtaking ferry ride. i was able to czech out the whole city from the top of mount douglas at night. beautiful. and stevie has a presectiption for medical marijuana, so i was able to partake in gubment grade ganja. yes, things are different in canada, even more different in british columbia. marijuana is a huge industry, and bc kind is known worldwide. we drove past stevie's pharmacy, which was just a small store front with the windows covered up with paper. he said you can go in there with whatever money you have and they'll weigh out that much for you. $5 or $50, whatever you've got they'll sell you that much...if you have a prescription for it. vancouver also lives up to its name as vansterdam. i was in gastown with a friend and we visited a place there that you buzz up to, say a password, then proceed upstairs to a chill lounge where you can buy marijuana and hashish from a menu just like in amsterdam. kraazy!

i took the ferry back to vancouver the next day. i met a group of german exchange students on the ferry and had a great time sharing stories with them. they wer all 15 years old but looked much older. then again, i'm 30 and i look much younger.

thursday night i hung out with my friend valerie, as you guessed it another omie from toronto that now calls vansterdam home. we drank at the the cambie hostel in downtown vancouver. that place reminded me of the brunswick house in toronto, a dodgy little watering hole where youtz can get shmammered and pick up. we had a blast, and i was glad to see valerie, but my evening needed to end. i had a big day ahead of me, the main reason for my trip, will and yukiko's wedding.

will and yukiko's wedding was held in richmond, just south of vancouver (an extremely chinese part of bc). there was a shuttle bus from downtown van to the wedding in richmond. the ceremony was held in small church, but it was not a religious ceremony. i don't remember hearing any references to god. yukiko looked radiant, her dress was beautiful. the tiara was also a nice touch. it was her day, their day, and i had never seen will so happy before in my life.

there were only 30 people invited to the wedding, half of which was yukiko's family from japan. they had never been to canada before, they'd never even been on an airplane before. they also did not speak english, so they probably didn't understand what was being said at the ceremony.

my friend kate, the bride of the steve, the best man, was at the wedding. their baby is due in just a few weeks. i had my money on kate's water breaking when yukiko began her walk down the aisle, but that never happened. she was allowed to fly to vancouver though which was great. she looked as radiant as the bride though...something about expectant mothers that just make them glow.

congratulations will and yukiko. i am glad that i was able to share your wedding day with you.

the wedding reception was held at the sequoia grill right in stanley park. as with everything else surrounding the park, the venue for the reception was beuatiful. because of the small number of guests, no expense was spared when it came to the food. everything on the menu that evening was exquisite. my camera battery died just after the ceremony, so i wasn't able to take any pix during the reception :(

the speeches were done in both english and japanese. it was great to see the fusion of two different cultures, east meets west. and there was no after reception dance or dj, so no need to comment on cheezy wedding music. there was the throwing of the bouquet and the garter, which i caught. my comment later as i was wearing the garter was "i could just have easily caught the bouquet too." will's grandmother came up to me later and commented on me being the next to get married. i told her "seeing as i don't have a girlfriend or a boyfriend right now, i'm not too concerned about getting married any time soon." she said "well, you don't have to worry about marrying a boy" to which i replied "yes, but the beauty about this country is that i at least have the option." who knows, maybe i will be the next one from our krew to tie the knot. will caught the garter at steve and kate's wedding, and now he's married. maybe i'll find my partner in life sooner than i think. maybe i've already found them.

there was no cheezy wedding dj playing usual wedding fromage...there was no dj and no dancing after the reception. instead, the bridal party (sans bride and groom of course) and the rest of us visiting youtz went to a strip club called the number 5 orange room. it was fun while it lasted. what's with vancouver and places closing down so daam early? i sound like i'm repeating myself. by 1am we got the boot, and we were faced with the same old challenge: what the hell is there to do in vancouver after 1am? we ended up in gastown at a bar called the blarney stone, complete with a live band a la spirit of the west. very appropriate. it was great to see the japanese bridesmaids liftin up their skirts and jiggin to some good 'ol folk music...but that only lasted an hour. by 2am we were back in the same predicament we were in before, what is there to do? for most of our krew it was time to call it a night. i on the other hand decided to hit up the after hours club we had chosen not to attend the week before because of the gay clientele, the world. i was of course on my own. to my surprise, the world was not a gay after hours on friday night, rather an all asian trance party. i don't know how to properly describe it, but an entire club full of fucked up and tweaked out asian imports with sunglasses on was only tolerable for two hours, then i had to leave. the reason i came to the west coast was accomplished...i celebrated the union of my very good friend will and his beautiful japanese bride yukiko.

after brunch at the famous english bay milestones saturday afternoon, my friends brennan and jaqui and i decided to hang out at jehrico beach in kitsilano for the festival of folk. this yearly folk festival cost money to get in, but there were enough vendors and spectators on the other side of the fence that you didn't need to pay to hear the bands play or soak up the vibe. the weather was beautiful, and i have never come across such a high concentration of cute women in my life. very west coast, chill, laid back, hippie type folk. i was in heaven.

i picked up my very first set of poi from a vendor at the festival. i have always wanted to learn how to spin poi. during my early daze of raving, it wasn't uncommon for me to attach glow sticks to a shoelace and spin them as i danced. for those of you that don't know what poi is, its a

māori word for "ball". more specifically, poi refers to a form of juggling with balls on ropes, held in the hands and swung in various circular patterns. i have many friends who are quite proficient with poi, especially fire poi (sooo sexxxy). my goal is to be able to spin fire by the time i hit burning man, or at least by the time the man burns at the end of the celebration.

that saturday evening, brennan, jaqui, myself, and my lovely hosts brett and laura went to an all-u-can eat sushi and korean bbq restaurant called shabusen. man, i don't think i've eaten that much food in my life. between the five of us, we ate at least 120 pieces of sashimi, and a small farm's worth of chicken, beef, and pork. hey, for $22 we definitely got our money's worth.

after dinner, i jumped on the bus and headed towards east vancouver to visit my friend anastasia. here's a surprise, i don't know her from om ;) i went to university with anastasia at western. she is an omie too, but i knew and loved her before om changed our lives. she had just moved into a new place off commercial drive in east van. she's been living in vancouver for the past three years and it was great to catch up with her.

my saturday was not over yet. i said my goodbyes to anastasia and headed towards the lotus club for some dancing. i have no problems exploring a city on my own, or going to clubs on my own. i've gotten pretty used to it. the beats at lotus were great, a perfekt mix of bangin house music to shake my ass to. the people there were pretty friendly as well. i ran into a beautiful soul named kara. i'm not one for cowboy hats, but she rocked it large.

and just when you thought it was over, i ended up at the world, again! this time it was house music and a gay crowd. works for me. i got to see where the vancouver gay community get together after hours on a saturday night to shake their ass. i'm such a kissing bandit, and i've found that fag hags are so much more open to kissing than your average woman at a club. not that i don't enjoy kissing boyz too, but hags take so well to a cute boy at a gay bar that wants to make out with them, at least from my experience. i ain't gonna complain.

yes, the world was my last stop on my saturday, and i took the morning bus back to brett and laura's place at sunrise. i had such a fabulous time shakin my ass all night with new and fascinating west coast peeps.

sunday was spent at wreck beach with jaqui, brett, and laura. the sun was scorching hot, and there were nearly 2000 people soaking up the rays that afternoon at wreck beach. spending the afternoon on the beach with close friends was the most memorable afternoon of my trip. you never know what might happen at wreck beach.

on monday morning, will picked up jaqui and i very early in the morning and drove us to the airport. jaqui's flight was at 8am and mine was just after noon. so i spent the morning hanging out with will at the airport until it was time for me to catch my flight back to the big smoke. what an incredible and life changing trip it was. i can't wait to move out to the west coast later this year. i am hoping to be there by the end of the year, and will most likely live in the interior of british columbia in the kootenays. god i love wikipedia. my goal is to snowboard for an entire season, get my instructors certification and my first aid certification, then teach and patrol. the mountains are calling me.

i got some well earned rest on the plane home and arrived in toronto late monday night. i took the ttc home from the airport, and as i looked around me on the bus and subway at noticed the diversity of cultures that shared the same space as me, i was glad to be back home. being away from toronto reminded me that i am a minority because of the way other people treat me. so many people take it for granted until they leave this city. god its good to be a cute jamasian freak and still be able to blend in with others who call this city home. i'll leave you with an ani difranco quote that i say to all of my friends that return to toronto from their travels:

it's good to be back home, oh how i missed this time zone. strangers are fascinating, their mysteries never end, but there's nothing like looking at your own history in the faces of your friends.

pese and breakbeatz.

- norm \m/^_^\m/