god i love summer, especially summer in toronto. i know i sound like a broken record, but this city goes off in the summer. and the quality of beautiful people in this city is mind blowing! my neck hurts from all of the head turners that demand my attention with their hawtness.
my brother neil was passing through toronto on wednesday, july 20. he lives in santa maria, california, and was in town touring with his friends from the swedish metal band in flames. i ran into him and his friend anders, the lead singer, for lunch at my fav sushi restaurant on queen street, ho su bistro. the food there is quality, the prices are affordable, and the staff are very friendly and know me by name. it was great to chill out with neil as i don't see him very often. i also got to show anders a bit of toronto. he gave me a window into what its like to be in a rock band and spend most of your life touring. its hard for them to explore a city because they don't spend much time in each place. its a constant flow from one city to the next: play a gig, get on the bus, drive to the next city, play another gig. unless they know someone in the city to take them around, there isn't much time for them to cruise around and explore. many times, they don't even know where they are. they just know they are in a city or the surrounding area, with no clue as to what places would be cool to explore. so we cruised across queen street (the most diverse street in the world, imho), past nathan phillips square and our city hall (as seen in the movie resident evil apocalypse), and through the eaton center.
that night, i met up with neil and the band at the docks entertainment complex. this place is huge! from a huge concert theater to a go cart track and drive in movie theater, this place has been a staple for entertainment in toronto for years. after gettin my pass, i hooked up with the band on the tour bus for some pre concert pints. the tour bus was really nice inside, but according to my brother and the band not very comfortable. it looked comfy, but i guess while in motion its not a very smooth ride. there was a lounge area in the back with a television and dvd player, then the bunk area, a washroom (no shitting allowed) and a kitchen seating area in the front of the bus with another tv and dvd player. this is where the band spends most of their time while on the road. its home to them.
in flames was opening for a band called mudvayne. a lot of fans were surprised that it wasn't mudvayne opening for in flames. they were even more surprised to hear in flames play for a whopping 25 minutes. in flames were pissed at having such a short set. i would be too. 25 minutes is not enough time. but the energy of the show was off the hook. i love how the most powerful communities are the ones that share music, and metal stimulates such a unique energy in the crowd \m/^_^\m/ lots of head banging, hand waving, and moshing goin on. its been said that one of the best examples of culture is to observe how people spend their leisure time, more specifically the kind of music they listen to. it gets people out dancing, and nothing brings people closer together than sweat.
it was a fascinating experience to hang out with band that was on tour. you could feel the energy of the crowd, of the fans, as we hung out on the patio eating and drinking after in flames had finished their set. i had a guest pass on and i could feel the envy of some of the hardcore fans as they looked me up and down. i had people come up to me and ask in awe "guest pass? how'd you score that man?". hell, i had never heard of in flames before so elevating the guys i was hanging out with to celebrity status wasn't really an issue for me. they are just some dudes who play music. and i'm just some dude who's along for the ride. i guess its how i view fame. being interested in the lives and decisions of people you don't know makes them famous. the real question is how do you treat people differently when you believe they are famous? for me, i don't care who you are. if you bring out the parts of my personality that i like, awesome. if you don't, i'm outta here. cause in the end, you're just some guy and i'm just some guy, fame or no fame.
that being said, i got to see how fans treat the bands they love. so many people came up to us while we ate asking for autographs, pictures with the band, and anything else that would keep them in the presence of their favourite band. there were fans with full on in flames tattoos, hawt girlz always hanging around, and a constant supply of complimentary alcohol. i must say, rollin with rock stars was a fun and exciting experience.
we ended up on the tour bus where there was more free booze. by 2am i was annihilated and had to find my bed. it was awesome to hang out with my brother and experience the world he chooses to live in, to celebrate in, to dance in. rollin with a rock band for a night was an experience i will never forget. anders, björn, daniel, jesper, peter, it was great to hang with you guys. thanks for giving me a window into what its like to do what you love as a career. music, of all forms, is truly the universal language that brings all people together. t hanks for the hook up neil. i was surprised that in flames lets a joker like you hang around them, but after hangin with you and the band i realized you are all a bunch of goofs.
björn taught me how to say fredrik neitzsche's quote "without music life would be a mistake" in swedish. ultang myusik err lilvet est mistag. my repetoire of languages i can say that quote in is now 14.
that saturday, july 23, i attended the wedding of my very close friends bobby and dana. the ceremony was held in beamsville, ontario, in the heart of wine country near niagara-on-the-lake. i met bobby in 2000 in british columbia when our crew of omies met up and drove into the interior of b.c. for shambalah. you didn't think i'd have a blog entry without including om in it did ya? i also met dana through the om community just a little over four years ago. its been such an amazing experience knowing these two people and being a part of the family that they have chosen for themselves. i was honored to be a part of their wedding celebrations. its even more fun when you know both the bride and groom, especially when their friends are also your friends. its one big celebration of love with close friends.
i hitched a ride to beamsville with my friends isa, darryl, and their 5 month old daughter valentina. most of our friends, including the bride and groom, had booked out rooms at the comfort inn in beamsville. darryl and i dropped off isa and valentina at the hotel and went for a quick pit stop in nearby vineland to pick up some beer. its always fascinating for me to be outside of toronto. i feel more like a minority when i'm not in the big smoke. i am reminded that most of these small towns are populated by caucasians. there aren't too many chinese jamaicans kickin around those parts, especially ones with pigtailed dreadlocks wearing a red dress shirt and tie ;) personally, i love challenging people to think differently and watching them live out the answer. its fun watching the wave of my presence flow through the people around me. i am just as fascinated by them as they are by me.
wow, valentina is such a cutie!
the wedding ceremony was held outdoors at bled hall in beamsville. so many aspects of this wedding deviated from your traditional wedding ceremony. then again, bobby and dana aren't what society might call normal, and neither are our friends.
the bridesmaids, martha, kim (with son skye), erica, and lindsay, wore black dresses and walked down the aisle arm in arm as couples. the maid of honour was dana's best friend matthew. he looked so cute in his tuxedo as he carried the bouquet. the flower girl was bobby's niece.
dana wore a bright blue wedding dress with rainbow coloured shoes. she looked so radiant as her father walked her down the aisle. and i had never seen bobby so happy before in my life.
i am such a suck at weddings, and was crying like a baby when i saw dana walk down the aisle. the tears did not stop as the ceremony continued. as i looked around me, i was comforted to know that i was not the only one crying. and of course there was absolutely no reference to god or religion in the ceremony.
celebrating love with people i love is an overwhelming feeling of nirvana for me. the number of friends at bobby and dana's wedding outnumbered the number of actual blood relatives. bobby and dana don't have time in their lives for shitty people, and they definitely did not invite shitty people to their wedding. they celebrated their wedding day with the tip of the spear when it comes to incredible people (and yes, almost all of us were omies).
my friend chris brought his partner carol with him. she was wearing a beautiful east indian dress that looked so comfortable and beautiful on her. as i introduced myself, she asked if i remember her from almost ten years ago. it wasn't until she told me where we met for the first time that it all clicked. i had met carol in 1996 at the destiny 15 three day rave. her and i shared a powerful connection back then, and it was great to reconnect with her again at bobby and dana's wedding.
the reception was held in bled hall banquet hall. there was a framed picture of bobby and dana on each table as the center piece. the was also a disposable camera with each centerpiece so each table could capture their wedding experience on film for bobby and dana to develop and look through after.
dancing after was held outside, and wasn't your usual uber chezz wedding beatz. there are quite a few talented djs within our group of friends. beatz were provided by christian sunflower and rollin cash and included lots of dub, reggae, and house. our friend smoky davy boon provided the visuals by spinning fire poi. davy is very skilled at spinning fire, which was a good thing seeing as he was wearing a very flammable dress shirt. man, fire is so sexxxy. i just bought my first set of poi and am learning new techniques from davy and other friends skilled in maori art.
bobby failed to mention that he had some caribbean culture in his family, maybe for a reason ;) don't worry, i gave him a good punch in the arm later for keeping this secret from me. his aunt married a guyanese man and had three beautiful daughters name shatez, shantaine, taveena. its always good to see that it is possible for different races to love one another...it creates beautiful souls like bobby's cousins, and me.
the celebrations continued back at the hotel. the moon was almost full and was as bright as a street light. the hotel was right beside an old abandoned waterpark once known as wet and wild prudhomme's landing. a number of us decided to go exploring in the ghost town that was prudhomme's landing. with the moon lighting our way, there was no need for flashlights. we walked across the old go cart track to find an old rusted tilt-a-whirl ride to play in. yes, they even left the rides there to rot and rust. but the best part was the waterslides. yup, they left the waterslides intact. we ran up the tube ride to the top of the waterslides and enjoyed one of the most beautiful views of lake ontario. this water park was built right on the shores of the lake. after the demise of this amusement park (i think splashworks at wonderland sealed prudhomme's landing's doom), someone must have bought the land and is waiting to build houses on it in a few years. until that happens, the slides and the rides were left there to decay.
running down the waterslides with plant overgrowth surrounding the slides was so much fun, especially the covered mine shaft section of the slide. it was pitch black inside there as we ran through it blind, and drunk ;) what an incredible day of celebrating love with bobby and dana, of exploring the remains of an amusement park, and sharing my life with the most incredible people. as i jumped into my friend karen's car to head back to toronto (a drive that we made in a record 40 minutes), i was reminded that i am blessed with the best people to share my life with.
more to come...
- norm (:D)---