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the art thing

This afternoon, I rode my bike through Queen’s Park, where workmen were putting up some funny inflatable mushroom-like structures. I stopped to ask a security guard what was going on. “It’s for the Luminato art festival,” he said. “It’s an art thing.” And we both turned to look at the forest of huge brightly-coloured plastic mushrooms. Okay, I’ll take your word for it, I thought. An art thing.

Queen’s Park was the site of another kind of art thing on the weekend – despite the grey skies and drizzle which turned into a downpour, crowds gathered to hear the music brought to us by Luminato. My friend Annie and I went in the late afternoon on Saturday to hear an Algerian musician, Rachid Taha, who was hilarious and wonderful – a tiny man in a natty hat, smoking a cigarette, twirling his mike through the air and swivelling his hips, he and his band driving out an infectious Arabic/African beat.
Later we came back to hear Bela Fleck, a man who can do anything with his banjo except make a grilled cheese sandwich, and you know, he can probably do that too. It was advertised that he’d be with some African musicians, and I imagined being blasted by the sound of Bela Fleck and his band the Flecktones, and African musicians too. I will travel far to hear African music, which is like the “Red Shoes” for me – I start to dance and cannot stop.
But Bela’s Flecktones were not there, it was just him. He did three banjo solos which were complex and technically stunning – one based on African rhythms and another J. S. Bach – but solo banjo pieces were not, perhaps, the kind of rocking and grooving a large crowd standing outside at 10.30 p.m. smoking spicy stuff wanted to hear. The Africans were lively and rhythmic, and Bela came back to play with them, but it didn’t quite work. His music seemed so cerebral and tight compared to theirs.
Great music, free, outside in the green, muggy air. Nothing to complain about, just my critical spirit that wanted to say, loosen up, Bela. Have some fun.
Earlier that day I’d gone to another student book launch – Bette, who took my Ryerson class in 2003, has self-published an account of her life including her fascinating relationship with a man sentenced to many years in prison. The launch was held at Friend’s House, the Quaker centre in the Annex. Bette gave her granddaughter a special copy. “I wrote it for you,” she said. Laurel, who was in the same class, was there; Bette introduced her and spoke of her just-published book, and I told everyone about her recent prestigious award. Another student from that class, Joan, was also there; it turned out she had been one of Bette’s chief sounding boards throughout the writing of the book, had inspired Bette and kept her going. It’s a great thrill when relationships continue so strongly after class.
Sunday night, neighbours came for dinner – Larry and Destiny, who lost their wife and mother Carolyn so suddenly and cruelly a few weeks ago, and Jean-Marc and Richard who live across the street from them. Larry is well into his 70’s and Destiny is 12, and they are managing. She’s capable and sweet and so is he. Larry worked at the CBC for many years, knows radio people all over the world and had much to say about the current policies at our beloved and vital CBC, as did the rest of us. Suffice to say – much has changed, and none of us agrees much with the changes.
We did agree, though, with the cheese. My local deli, Epicure, stocks Cendrillon, a Quebec cheese which somewhere was voted, believe it or not, the best cheese in the world. Well, I don’t know about that, but it’s pretty damn good. And then we watched the Tony awards. Loosen up, Catherine Zeta-Jones, I wanted to say, as she worked so very hard through “Send in the clowns.” Have some fun!
As I write to you now, my head is swimming with fatigue though it’s not even 10.30 p.m. Getting older. I’ve noticed that though I don’t think I’ve gained any weight, the waistbands of skirts and pants are tighter – my waist has thickened. How does that happen? The spreading middle of more-than-middle age.
But, middle or old, this girl has a Paul McCartney ticket. They added another concert today, so I booked fast. I will probably never do this again – and who knows when Paul will do this again? So he and I have one last rendezvous just after my birthday in August. I will be 60. Will he still need me, will he still feed me? I think you know the answer.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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