Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:
Chris: My tea this week is of the chocolate-in-your-peanut-butter variety, though hopefully more appetizing than that sounds. First up, male K-pop idols with Paris is Burning swag, performing their female counterparts’ moves on Korean TV. (Did you know that Paris is Burning is on Vimeo?)
Someone got their allusion to The Wire in a Nickelodeon kids’ show:
And someone else got Pikachu all dolled up in Beyonce drag:
Carl: Is there a tea ritual for mourning? I have two people in mind today, parental figures in different ways. First, there is Elwy Yost, a celebrity I suppose only in Ontario, as the host of several movie-presenting and interview programs on TVO that I and many of my peers grew up with. The very definition of avuncular, Yost was broadly knowledgeable about popular cinema without a scrap of film-snobbery, not even the geeky kind. He was the great popularizer. Most of all I feel indebted to him for Magic Shadows, the weeknightly program on which he’d show movies a half-hour at a time over the course of a week – plus, one night, a chapter of a vintage film serial, the kind you would have seen before the feature in the 1940s and ’50s. The grounding in pop-culture history that provided, especially the way that he made black-and-white and silent films seem as exciting as new ones, affected my cinematic and other cultural tastes for good. It’s hard not to believe that Yost was a part of the root system of Toronto’s passionate, engaged and diverse movie culture, which extends to realms much beyond his own middlebrow tastes. He got to live out his own dreams while devoting his energies to his audience’s service. A beautifully balanced life.
The other farewell is more personal, to the mother of Toronto artist and performer Becky Johnson, Vancouver’s Anne Garber, who died recently at the sadly early age of 64. I got to know Anne when Becky asked me to give a talk about her as part of a special Trampoline Hall show she curated; I chatted on the phone with her for hours, during which she was warm and expansive and open about difficult subjects, including her divorce and other relationships, parenting, self-image and her compulsive shopping-and-hoarding issues, which were an ongoing struggle (though she also turned them to positive ends as a consumer journalist). She had the kind of enormous personality within whose embrace nearly everyone feels at home, and to hear about her death made me feel precisely as if a light had gone out or one of the engines that turns the world had run out of fuel. Deep sympathies to her friends and family.
Speaking both of film and of family, this week I saw the documentary Blank City in its limited Toronto run. It’s a crackling look at the Manhattan independent and Super-8 film scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, closely bound up with the music and art scenes, the No Wave and Cinema of Transgression etc. But beyond the importance of those movements to the independent film and video that would follow, it’s also just an incredibly evocative portrait of a pack of nervy kids in a desperately poor, dangerous environment (the images of the Lower East Side in the late 1970s are incredible), going for broke and fighting, fucking and filming their way to some kind of grasp at enlightenment and change. It makes you jealous, even though so many of its stories end terribly. And it really makes you want to make art. See it if you can.
In a similar spirit of go-for-broke urban-wilderness and noisemaking, but without the heroin, I am excited this weekend to go see the five new bands that have come out of the first-ever Girls Rock Camp Toronto (at the Tranzac on Saturday at 3 pm), and to play find-that-concert-venue in Wavelength Toronto’s “musical treasure hunt,” Band on the Run. And for a more Canadian spin on underground-scene history, there’s a panel discussion at the Soundscapes record store on College at 4 o’clock Saturday about the new edition of Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995, featuring co-authors Michael Barclay and Ian Jack, in conversation with Don Pyle (ex-Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Phono-Comb, King Cob Steelie), Allison Outhit (ex-Rebecca West, now VP at Factor) and Julie Doiron (ex-Eric’s Trip, now Julie Doiron!).
Remember mashups? This is one of the most uncannily seamless ones I’ve ever heard, based on two fantastic songs:
And this one unites two far-apart genres to compelling effect.