Sunday, 26 April 2009

Burnt Roads and Woven Jacquard in the Netherlands

This weekend we got invited to play the Neurosis-curated Beyond the Pale mini-festival within the annual Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland. Phew. We played this festival last year and the whole experience was pretty overwhelming then. It might be the full year of touring since and all the people we've met and then ran into this weekend, but this year's festival seemed somehow much more manageable. Of course, having our friends Robert and Helge around certainly helped keep my mind occupied and anxiety at bay. Robert's putting out a 12" of ours very soon and we thought it would be a-okay for him to sell some records at the show along side our stuff - sadly, not so. I hope listening to the Big Lebowski in it's entirety on the drive home made the weekend worthwhile! I also opened myself up to very possible ridicule when I placed a small stack of patches on our merch table - demographically, the Swedes seemed most keen on them.

These guys asked us to play. They are legends and they are awesome. (Sorry for the crappy shot, but I am short and the room was packed...)

My new Berlin craft friend Linda told me about the Audax Textielmuseum in Tilburg so in the few hours I had before things really got underway at the festival, I snuck out of my music duties to check it out.

This place is both a museum and running Textilelab, so almost no machinery is standing stationary. In one room, raw fibre is transformed into heavy and beautiful wool blankets.

In another, some of them most amazing jacquard art is woven up on massive machines.

Photography was forbidden in Knitted Worlds exhibition, but check out their blog to see what some of the artists were up to. Some of it was pretty darn incredible. A couple of my favorites were Kelly Jenkins' massive and naughty knit magazines and Greetje Van Tiem's newspaper yarn.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Sneers & Kisses To You On Earth Day!

Go hug a tree! Go ahead and fall in love with it! How can you not? They're just so very pretty.

The earth, or what I could see of it, looked darn good today. The thought of having a tree tattooed on my arm so that I could remember what one looks like 50 years from now makes me so so sad. So I did my conservation best today and I didn't wash any dishes, do any laundry, or bathe! Keeping that pace is very unrealistic, but water is where I think I am most wasteful so that is where my Earth Day resolution lies.

I'm not sure how to segue into hyperbolic crochet, but the environment is of concern here so that will just have to be enough keep you reading for lack of my writing skills. That [awkwardly] said, if you're in Toronto you should make your way to the Knit Cafe (1050 Queen St. West) where some of my pals have built a window full of hyperbolically crocheted sea life from plarn.

photo by Becky Johnson

photo by Angelune Des Lauriers

photo by Becky Johnson

This installation comes down tomorrow so make your way there, immediately! If you're wondering what the hell this mathy-sounding crochet is and what the hell is has to do with the environment, watch this:

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Springtime Wilderness

It's been very many years since I last entered a zoo. I have mixed feelings about the whole concept - animals locked up and caged in while children scream at them. On the other hand, here are animals that I can see and interact with (to a degree) without running for my life as I do so. The Berlin Zoo is also a famous zoo for a few different reasons. It's the oldest zoo in Germany; it's located in downtown Berlin; and, it's home to Knut - the world-famous polar bear born at the zoo a couple years ago.

I'm not actually sure if this is, in fact, Knut. But, he is a pretty young bear and he was the only one in site on this very warm afternoon. Knut's not much of a cub these days, but it's spring and there were baby animals everywhere!

Then we hit what instantly turned me into my six year old self - Hippohaus. Inside, you can catch glimpses of them in the water. Here's some baby fat for your viewing pleasure.

Outside, the fam went for a bit of stroll.

Other signs that it was Spring? Males were assaulting females everywhere we looked.

The ornithological sections of the zoo were especially distressing to walk through. Massive birds were caged in. This guy isn't much of flyer, but I still detected a little bit of pleading in his gaze. Others were simply taunted by herons hanging out in the nearby freedom of the canal and once in a while swooping overhead.

The other thing that dawned on me as we approached the hedge that separated us from the massive lion resting in the shade is that they probably sedate the animals here.

The monkeys (and their relatives) were a little bit more spazzy. This guy, however, was so chill and awesome, you'd never know who his neighbours are.

These guys lived next door.

This guy was also pretty amazing.

Monday, 13 April 2009

A Few Hours In Leipzig

Last night we drove to Leipzig - one of my favorite cities - to open for what is probably the biggest, or, at least most legendary, bands we've yet been able to finagle our way onto the bill with: Earth. What made this especially sweet is that it all happened in what is probably my favorite venue, ever: UT Connewitz. It's a kinda beautiful, kinda delapidated old theatre with the backstage located on the balcony - incidentally, the best spot in the house to watch and listen.

I was pretty stressed out about this show. My feelings of inadequacy as a musician are sharply amplified when I share the stage with bands like this. It didn't help that I broke a string during sound check - without a spare, on Easter Sunday. UT solidified its favour in my books when they made a few calls and somehow delivered a string to me. My stiffened and stressed out body also disabled me from pulling my camera out as we ate dinner in a really lovely garden.

I found this in the basement. It looks to be 'former bloc' built.

--We played here 2 years ago and I took a million pictures of the place and surrounding neighbourhood. I assumed that these pictures were on my computer somewhere and I could post a few here - but they're on a disc, in a box, somewhere at home.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Becky's Brokeback Pontiac

(click on me to see big)

The Pontiac in question has been a very helpful presence in my life. It helped me move, it got me to a few craft fairs. It even served as storage for my table for a little while. It was also a comfort to glimpse now and again outside my window - it let me know that my dear friend Becky wasn't far away.

However, it's seen better days and is now in need of some life-saving repairs. Becky's collected a stellar group of performers to entertain the caring folk that come out and there's even going to be a silent auction for stuff that you would otherwise pay a lot more for!!

Which brings me to something of specific interest to some of you. Maybe you are one of my loved ones (or, maybe you'd like to be) and maybe you only hear from me when I address the entire internet here on my blog and you'd like a little more personal attention. Maybe you're willing to pay for it! Well, my contribution to said silent auction is hand-made correspondence from Berlin to you and you alone! I'll include a little handmade gift that lets you know I'm thinking of you.

By all accounts, this promises to be a really excellent evening. Even if you don't care to hear from me, you should definitely go. I long to see that Pontiac almost as much as I long to see Becky again soon.

Facebookers go HERE.

Others go HERE.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Some Stuff this Saturday

The weather turned so dreary and cold last week while we were on tour that there was little else I wished for more than a little warmth. Today, as I left the house sans sweater and with my sleeves rolled up, I realised that special care was needed whilst throwing wishes around.

It was a balmy 24 or so degrees this afternoon so I slathered on the sun block and made my way to my essential reason for leaving the house today.

More about these massive lovelies here.

Trend Mafia is a semi-regular craft fair that happens here in Berlin. I've been in a bit of a craft drought since my temporary relocation so I kinda just needed to be among handmade goods for a while. I've actually- and, *amazingly* due to my lack of German proficiancy and general shyness- instigated an upcoming event that I'll write more on when stuff is solidified next week.

The show was in a building at Moritzplatz- about 3km from our place so I took my camera with me and walked along Reichenberger Strasse and saw these in sidewalk.

I'm not sure what was/is here to reference these - I can just see the front houses so it's a bit of a mystery as to what lays beyond the courtyards. They went on for the entire block.

On the walk home I encountered what looked like an anarchist march, but they were blasting techno and looked too happy to be proper anarchists. I asked someone what it was all about- I felt as confused as the few Police did. It was a peaceful/street-party demonstration opposing a swanky (read: car lifts to your apartment and roof-top pool- inhabitants would never have to deal with the actual neighbourhood or even equally wealthy neighbours, while still claiming to be 'cool' for living there) and truly ugly building that has gone up on this street.

Kreuzberg is a really mixed neighbourhood that attracts artists and expats because it's beautiful and still relatively affordable - and there are more 2 euro falafels per block than anywhere I've ever seen. I'm not even sure that 'gentrification' comes close to what it means in North America where economic divides seem far more blatant. The first time we were in Berlin we asked a cab to take us to our friend's place in Kreuzberg and he looked at us like we didn't know what we getting ourselves into - he likened it 'Harlem' and 'South London'. Evidently he's never seen either. In any case, such a building really has no place here.

Anyway, this is what I saw today as I walked through Kreuzberg and over the canal to the edge of Treptow where we live.

Tonight, Aidan played a show waaay up in a neighbourhood called Wedding at Mastul - part cafe, part gallery - with touring Bostonian Animal Hospital. It was an intimate sort of affair, but the music was great and so was the locally distilled gin.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Experiments of the Green Variety

I've never been good at growing things. I once tried to grow tomatoes indoors to strange results- the stalks grew up to the ceiling, but never produced fruit. Keeping houseplants alive was difficult due to Milosz's appetite for them. And, outdoor space capable of sustaining some sort of growth in Toronto comes to the lucky, or those willing to travel to garden. So our temporary balcony is pretty splendid. That, and hours of sunlight through the windows.

We'll see what happens. These were chosen specifically with baking and tea in mind.


If anyone has a good baking recipe for lavender, let me know!