I just got back from Toronto, where Fancy and I manned the Anvil Press table at Word on the Street. I hadn't been to Toronto in nine years. I like the place; they seem to have their shit together, and a skim through the upcoming gig listings in NOW made me want to stay a while (at least until after the PJ Harvey show).
Thursday – We left Vancouver on WestJet around lunchtime. I read Traveling Music for the whole flight, finishing it just as the 737 pulled into the terminal at Pearson International. The kid next to me listened to his mixed CD-Rs for the whole flight. I played Name That Tune eavesdropping on his headphone leakage. Metallica, "Sad But True." Frank Black doing that Powerpuff Girls tune. Green Day. The guy across the aisle had a cool little DVD player. He watched five minutes of Rushmore before shutting it down. Maybe he'd run out of batteries. At YYZ we picked up the rental car (Dodge Neon SX) and hit the 401 to Adam and Rain's place near Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant. We couldn't have wished for a better home base for the weekend—comfy bed, parking spot for the car, quiet neighbourhood, beyond generous hospitality, and excellent company during our brief intervals of downtime. Adam and Rain rule.
Friday – The major errand for the day was to pick up our books for WOTS from the University of Toronto Press warehouse in North York. They had everything boxed up and ready to go, so no hassle there. We loaded up the trunk and drove back to Adam and Rain's. We had the rest of the afternoon to kill, so we took the subway downtown and shopped. I love the subway; it's so much cooler than the automated plaything that is SkyTrain. Fancy's primary destination was a big beauty supply store on Yonge, where she got a new wig (so effing cute) and I thrilled to the sight of an actual ladyboy browsing the selection of hair extensions. Alan Partridge would have loved it. We checked out Sam's and Eaton Centre, then went back "home" to get organized for going to the Bonstar Hotel (Anvil writer Bonnie Bowman's place) for the night. We partied with her and Fancy's cool high school friends Joan and Wendy and Wendy's brother Chris, who brought the house down with his impression of Sha Na Na in Festival Express. For a while the conversation centred on high school drug experiences, a topic to which I can contribute nothing. I was never a teenager. Late night; we hit the futon at 4 AM.
Saturday – We left the Bonstar and went for a hip & delicious breakfast at Aunties and Uncles with Wendy. Afterwards, Fancy walked me around Kensington Market before cutting me loose for my rendezvous with my boss at Unrestrained, Adrian "The Energizer" Bromley. Our original plan had been to have lunch. I was still full from breakfast, so I sat with him while he had a burger and spewed figures (sell-through rates, ad revenues, printing charges, etc.) at me until my head spun. He called Martin Popoff's place so I could meet him and buy his Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums book, but he wasn't home. Once The Energizer paid the cheque and dabbed his beard clean, we took the subway to Anjelic Records, "the ONLY international psych and prog rock store in Canada!!!" I found some good stuff (the second Cressida album, a couple Banco records, and the aforementioned Popoff book) and dropped a pile of money. Well worth the trip! The Energizer went back downtown to see Shaun of the Dead and I went back to Adam and Rain's. After Fancy showed up with some Kensington thrift store finds, we took the car to meet Wendy again. Our mission for the evening: go to Guelph and visit Fancy and Wendy's friend Ailsa. Guelph's about an hour of highway driving away. Thanks to Wendy's MapQuest skills, we found Ailsa's house with no problem and set out to find a place to have coffee. Guelph, birthplace of Canadian thrash legends Razor, is a pretty little college town. It reminded us of Victoria. Everything was good until the trip home. They'd closed two lanes of the 401 for construction. We crawled for miles and miles, and it took three hours to reach the outskirts of Toronto. With our long slog at WOTS on Sunday, we'd been looking forward to getting to bed at a decent hour, but that plan was out the window. We got home after 1 AM, completely beat. Adam and Rain were asleep already, but they'd set up our bed for us before retiring. That bed looked so good, Fancy and I nearly cried.
Sunday – Not enough sleep, as my coworker Allegra would say. I got us coffee, made some toast, and we dragged our asses out to the car. We still needed a float for the day's transactions, so finding a Money Mart was our first priority. That wasn't too hard; there was one on our way to Queen's Park, the new venue for WOTS in Toronto. We reached the site, set up our table, and were ready for business by the 11:00 start time. The next seven hours were pretty crazy, so some general observations follow. We sold enough books and mags to pay for Fancy's trip. Between the new "Dead Things"-themed issue of sub-Terrain (or "Subterranean," as people insist on calling it) and my anti-YinYang NoMeansNo shirt, I think we managed to offend a healthy number of festival-goers. Lots of people think that a book-selling stall is a good place to hand you their unsolicited manuscript. Fancy's shining moment came while talking to someone who'd inquired about the wage scale for authors publishing a book with a small press: "I can sum up how much money you can expect to make in two words—Fuck All." Everyone within earshot took a step back from our table. We sold three books to a girl in a Slayer shirt. I was very happy to spot Toronto celebrities such as Daniel Richler and Moe Berg. No Degrassi kids, though (boo). We were shattered by the end of the day, so we spent a quiet evening in with Adam and Rain.
Monday – Another road trip, this time to Fancy's parents' place. I have no idea what to call where they are. Every time I ask I get a different answer: Smithville, Grimsby, Fulton... It's surrounded by fields, anyway. This is not a dis, but I always think of the Rheostatics' "Ballad of Wendel Clark" when I'm there: "Somewhere in the cowshit county." We arrived for lunch, then went into Hamilton to visit Fancy's grandma in the hospital. Grandma's 94 years have finally caught up to her and she's not very mobile at the moment. She was overjoyed to see Jenni again and she even remembered me from my last visit two years ago. She's a very independent, self-sufficient woman, so it was sad to see her on a hospital ward with nothing but a tiny shared room and a hallway to explore. She's not happy there and I can't blame her. I hope the family finds somewhere better for her soon, and I hope that grandma will trust them enough to go there.
Tuesday – Not enough sleep. Drove to the airport, taking a sketchy unmapped toll highway to avoid rush-hour traffic. We took one wrong turn, but got pointed in the right direction quickly enough. After returning the car, we got lost in terminal 1 until we found out we had to take a shuttle bus to terminal 2. YYZ is big. Our flight left on schedule at 11:20. The trip was turbulent but we landed half an hour early. We took a cab home, depressurized on the couch, then had a four-hour nap.
While typing the above I listened to the pile of promos the Energizer laid on me, including:
Napalm Death – Leaders Not Followers: Part 2
grails – redlight
Lilitu – The Delores Lesion
Black Tape for a Blue Girl – Halo Star