Signs Of The Times: There is a melancholy pervading the major urban centre’s that is directly connected to the un-real estate boom. From one side, we see the super retailers transforming neighborhoods into shopping malls, and from the other we see small businesses, with deep community ties, disappearing faster than snow in June. As greasy and ramshackle as those store fronts may appear, there are people in there who are left with no place to go. The myth of progress continues.
Cascading Moment: Before the ground thaws and the slate grey winter bceomes an after-thought, let’s take a short journey out into the woods and remind ourselves of the greenery to be. Canadian sound pioneer, Dan Gibson, has done a lot of good work over the years to keep us centered and calm.
Auto-Tuned: The vast acreage of the main floor of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is an ideal showcase for the Canadian International Auto Show, but the real story is emerging from the lower levels. Electric cars and bikes may have greater appeal to urbanites, but the mainstream GTA and rural buyers are also very curious about the green options, and they sense a change in the air. The manufacturing behemoths are slowly seeing the light as well, and while they still put more emphasis on the combustion engine principle, options are beginning to appear in their catalogs. A few highlights, for your own curiosity: 1, 2, 3. And, let’s not forget this moderately priced family sedan, perfect for weekend shopping….4.
Yoga often gets an unfair rap in the consciousness community due to the connection with manufacturing and co-opting by the resort industry. However, in its undiluted form, it is very aligned with the principles of co-existence that harken back to the Veda traditions. The YogaFest seems to get this, and makes an effort not disclude the practitioner’s of related conscious arts. It’s a big event and there’s a sense of celebration. Roll up your mat and head out to Burlington on March 17th and 18th. For more info, click the yogi.
Don’t Just Stand There! Buy Something! There’s 72 million dollars worth of rubble now occupying the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, and the marketing cheerleaders behind the peculiarly named Westbank Development company are unctuously ensuring the Annex residents that this dusty inconvenience will make way for the greatest, biggest, best-est, most community minded condo project in the history of real estate. And while the Honest Ed’s building was nothing more than a flimsy barn with a billboard attached, the loss of Markham Village has left a lot of people sadly wondering why a few wealthy individuals are allowed to demolish an entire community. ‘Community’ is a frequent catchword in the developer’s pitch, but if they truly believe in the concept then why go to such great lengths to physically remove and whitewash community flyers and posters off of the slick hoarding that surrounds the lot? It seems slightly at odds with the spin.
In Key: Alternative therapy takes many forms, and music is one form of therapy that doesn’t get a lot of recognition. the Canadian Music Therapy Trust fund is trying to remedy that, and they describe their mission as follows “To promote, develop, and support music therapy services and research in order to restore, maintain, and improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of Canadians.” From a small store front in Toronto’s Bloor west district, they have created a sonic clinic that’s worth bookmarking, should you be out of tune.
Teak Teak: You don’t have to be an herb toting yogi to enter the Shanti Baba shop on Toronto’s Queen street west, but you will feel like one after you visit this unique emporium. It’s a treasure land of exotic decor, and and a testament to what the true spiritual abode should look like (rolling papers optional). Heady stuff, and a true retailing legend that, much like the Alternative Thinking group on Bathurst, are holding their ground against the land barons.
Dance Math: To outsiders, Contact Improv may appear to be nothing more than spontaneous and formless movement, but that’s not quite the reality. It’s also a dance of physics and weight ratio’s which takes time to master in a very non-intuitive way. Here’s a video by the Divisadero Dance Research Company that investigates human geometry and state of being, which a good session should aspire to.
Somewhere There: A creative music festival that makes the other city-wide music extravaganza’s appear rather predictable, and for good reason. This small impassioned gathering, housed in the Tranzac Club, had some remarkably bizarre and wonderfully creative moments happen during the course of the past weekend. Beautifully responsive sound-painting sessions, musical interpretations based on questions to the I Ching, and many other experimental performances filled the room. The level of musicianship was at the highest rung, and the harp’s, cello’s and saxaphone’s sounded nothing like what you would expect from such conventional instruments, all in a very good way.
Quilted: The colorful pants you see at festival and drum circles are referred to as ‘patch pants’. These are custom sewn remnants formed into loose garments for maximum dance and yoga movement, and they’re also works of art that you can wear. Warminster Pennsylvania is the home of Gypsy Rose accessories, and they’ve been doing this for 25 years, and fully embrace the counter-culture vibe. Toss away your Walmart chino’s for a day and try something new.
Yep-enada’s: An empenda without pork or beef is sacrilegious according to some Latin gourmands, but if you do go that direction and want a truly good and gluten-free version, then we suggest you make a trip to the excellent pantry/restaurant with the mildly jaded name of Through Being Cool. It’s a vegan’s oasis, but their mason jars of locally grown preserves have people journeying to the Bloor location for sampling too.
Improvement: For all the dancers and improver’s out there, here’s a floor work class by Lorenzo Koppenaal for you to tune into, which may help motivate your next visit to a gathering. Good film work that flows as well as the dancers themselves.
Creative Melt: Toronto’s early hippy fortification known as Yorkville, was bought and sold decades ago, so it stands to reason that the current ‘culture’ associated with this district leans toward the conspicuously tasteless. An example of this was the Ice Sculpture festival which took place this past weekend. When avarice and PR are the sole motivators, it’s easy to understand how these hood-ornament-like carvings could be the result, which is not to take away from the artists technical ability, who deserve more respect than the subject allows. The first two pictures, here and here, give you an idea of what this was all about. The third picture, from Norway, shows an unbridled creative spirit which emanates from a place of love rather than a place of monetary return, as seen here.
Soft Wheel: The Mandala, as an art form, has many interpretations,..most commonly as colored sand arrangements, textile prints and hammered copper wall pieces. What’s less common is the woven version, particularly as it applies to macrame’, that 60’s craft that is often disregarded as a hobbiest’s medium. Not so in the hands of Annie Legault, who brings technique into this decade with unique combinations of materials and a restrained use of color. The result is way beyond the granola vibe, and into high design. We met her at the International Design Show in Toronto, and her work stood out, happily, against the blue-chip home furnishing designers of the world. Click to visit her site.
Soma Holiday: In this short article by Caroline B., we revisit the era of the furniture playground, prior to the labyrinthine experience of shopping for a bedroom suite. This is how the artists used to do it, and the result somehow makes your sleep more meaningful. Sweet dreams.
More Real: Further on the subject of making, we give credit to the organizers of The Artists Project exhibition, who created a heart centered showcase that promotes and encourages artists who are not aligned with the gallery cartel. These are independent sculptors and painters who truly love what they do and wish to share it with the world. Here’s a few samples of the show. The first is by Vancouver Island artist Marianne Enhorning, who delicately captures dance movement on large canvas. The second is by Hamilton sculptor, Roger Wood, who creates small monuments that suggest ordered states of dreams.
The Dotted Line: They love the moss, but they don’t let any grow under them. Here’s what our Suzuki friends have to say today: “Eco-justice and the David Suzuki Foundation are partners in the Blue Dot movement, a national campaign to advance the legal recognition of every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment.When we launched the Blue Dot Tour in 2014, we never dreamed this movement would receive such widespread support. More than 105,000 people, 25,000 volunteers and 150 communities have signed on to the Blue Dot movement. We can’t stop now.”
U.K. Grooves: We sometimes forget that Toronto, as vibrant a scene as it is, is not the center of the ecstatic dance world. The movement is global, and in certain corners, more progressive than our local version. At the Ecstatic Dance Temple in England, they take a more ‘Woodstock/trance’ approach, which replicates the festival circuit rather than a Friday night social. It’s a pure form that is most closely embraced, locally, by Darren Austen Hall and crew. Take a trip over to their site and grasp the importance of the cosmic celebration that is central to their vibe.
In its first year, New Human City published articles and columns every week. The Best of mE brings back the more popular mildly ECSTATIC columns, unedited, as they appeared from October 2016 to October 2017. In this article, writer Jme, reminds us to look forward and depart from toxic situations. Bon appetit!
Build It: We discovered this little Italian design company at the recent IDS show in Toronto. While the majority of the displays were occupied by the gilded appliance manufacturers, a few independents, cordoned off from the main thouroughfares, dared to show their innovative products. Thinkerlab was one of those, and their cylinder stools are enough to build and furnish an entire house with…that is, if your creativity has not been entirely stunted by the box store options.
Sweet Signatures: We love the honey when it’s on our buckwheat pancakes, but we’re not so thrilled when the delivery worker lands an errant sting when we manage to interfere with his route. That’s when we start thrashing about like maniacs. Yea, a bee sting hurts, but keep in mind that they have other priorities, and that includes getting that syrup onto your morning pancakes. These creatures are sacred for a reason, so let’s help them out rather than wipe them out with swats and pesticides. Sign the petition if you believe they are worth saving.
Ecstatic DJ Tip #531: It’s not Saturday night at the Holiday Inn. It’s not a Christmas office party. It’s not the Club District. It’s ecstatic dance. Ecstatic means reaching a fever pitch of frenzied human movement – a natural catharsis for releasing the sacred inner soul. There are several young DJ”s entering into the community who, attracted by the electricity of the scene, are toting their digital turntables and vying to achieve high-priest status. Borrowing from their limited experience in the dance world, they are hoping to awaken this new audience to their ‘skills’. This is a common failing of those who import default world values into a community with a highly honed spiritual ethos. Be patient with the upstarts, but also be willing to provide them with guidance about how things work in this unique environment, and how technology and the ego mechanism must be kept in check.
Taxable Meditation: 5 out of 5 stars for the wonderfully human software created by the SimpleTax group in B.C.. This has been the go-to calculator for many of us since it’s introduction, and the people behind this revolution are way ahead of the game when it comes to usability. They do this to make life easier at a time of year when everyone is unjustly stressed about having to perform this primitive chore. They, like us, survive by donation, and even that is not insisted upon,..also like us. However, once you have used it, you will be so grateful that a donation is the least you could do. They deserve it.
Last Minute Sublime: The presses were rolling when we received a fresh Christopher Spranger work in the mail. Normally, we would delay publishing until the next edition, but that would be like holding back the best box of chocolates after a big meal. So, delve into this short piece that says so much in so little. Bon Appétit!
Love Bird: And now for some trippy first generation psychedelia from pioneer hippy band Oriental Sunshine. It’s a song called Across Your Life, and the raga dreaminess radiates in ways that allow the embedded wisdom to shine through. Ecstatic DJ’s should make an effort to source this music and bring it into the low vibe of the opening circle. Enjoy!