Locke Street Festival

Sunday, 25 September 2016

On September 10, I took a Supercrawl break to support my annoyingly talented better half (Find him here) who was hosting a pasta pop-up at the Locke Street Festival. Watch for him in coming months as he takes over the space that formerly housed the Cheese Shoppe on Locke. I may be biased, but he makes the best gnocchi in town.

I stopped by Epic Books on Locke to pick up The Captain of Kinnoull Hill, the first novel by Hamilton's Jamie Tennant, just released by Palimpsest Press. Loved to see all these local gems on display.


Dan Edmonds released a video for Love Can Be A Tunnel last week.
Check it out if you haven't seen it yet.

Locke Street Bakery is back! The Locke Street Festival marked their grand opening and they helped spread the word by handing out samples as we waited for the trolley running between Locke Street and Supercrawl.

Supercrawl 2016: Day One

Saturday, 10 September 2016
No time to type. I'm running late for Supercrawl Day #2. But first, some snapshots from an energetic first day. I love watching the city congregate in the core for this festival (now in it's seventh year). More to come! Happy crawling, Hamilton. 

Tickets to Hold Mommy's Cigarette, in support of YWCA Hamilton, are available at ywcahamilton.org. 

 Stop by the gritLIT: Hamilton's Readers and Writers Festival booth near Colbourne. 

Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Monday, 5 September 2016

“So much of desire, at that age, was a willful act. Trying so hard to slur the rough, disappointing edges of boys into the shape of someone we could love. We spoke of our desperate need for them with rote and familiar words, like we were reading lines from a play. Later I would see this: how impersonal and grasping our love was, pinging around the universe, hoping for a host to give form to our wishes.” ― Emma Cline, The Girls

When I started reading The Girls by Emma Cline, I told people I was reading a story based on the Tate-Labianca murders, complete with a gaggle of obedient young female followers and a leader, Russell, echoing the personality and ambitions of Charlie Manson. I learned, quite quickly, that The Girls was anything but, rather it's a careful exploration of girlhood and identity set against the backdrop of a cult.

I read much of The Girls on a rowboat on Christie Lake while my better half fished and I fell in love with Evie Boyd, a curious and lonely teenager with the privilege of boredom and freedom in Northern California during a summer at the end of the 1960s. After catching sight of exotic Suzanne, a few years her senior, Evie finds herself on a run down ranch with a likeminded group of misfits also grappling with their identities and searching for a place to belong.

The Girls is hardly about a rabid cult hungry for murder. Instead, it's about place, and the human desire to belong and be part of something. Edie longs to leave behind the normalcy of her daily life and her parents' new lives following a divorce.
 "I may have smiled to myself as I watched the familiar pattern of the town pass, the bus cruising through shade to sunshine. I'd grown up in this place, had the knowledge of it so deep in me that I didn't even know most street names, navigating instead by landmarks, visual or memorial. The corner where my mother had twisted her ankle in a mauve pantsuit. The copse of trees that had always looked vaguely attended by evil. The drugstore with its torn awning. Through the window of that unfamiliar bus, the burr of old carpet under my legs, my hometown seemed scrubbed clean of my presence. It was easy to leave behind." 
The Girls is a brilliant debut by California's Emma Cline. (You may remember, it was at the centre of a bidding war, eventually selling to Random House as part of a three-book deal for a rumoured "$2 million and change"). Cline's prose is so delicate, it reminded me of Us, Conductors, and I found myself jotting down passages on almost every page: "You wanted things and you couldn't help it, because there was only your life, only yourself to wake up with, and how could you ever tell yourself what you wanted was wrong?"

I've written before that most of my favourite books are non-fiction, but every once in a while I find myself gobsmacked by a work of fiction that I can't stop talking about. The Girls is one of those books. It's thoughtful and intelligent, but above all else, it's relatable, a trait I didn't expect from a book loosely based on one of America's most grisly murders.

Read this book. Read it, read it, read it, and let me know how much you love it. I can't imagine you won't.

Harvest Picnic

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Last weekend, Dundas's Harvest Picnic celebrated its sixth festival amidst a heat wave. The line-up included Canadian legends Jim Cuddy and Ian Tyson, fan favourites Alan Doyle and Joel Plaskett, and Ryan Adams, the musician behind one of my favourite albums, Heartbreaker.

Over the years, I've heard and read rave reviews of Harvest Picnic, but high ticket prices and inaccessibility have kept me away. Despite an overall pro-farmer and pro-environment tone, Harvest Picnic doesn't offer shuttles to Christie Lake, located about twenty minutes outside Hamilton's core. Inaccessible by bus, the festival is a gem, but it's difficult to get to. As much as I would have loved to have seen Ryan Adams, I'm one of those non-driving millennials, so I stayed home. That said, my family has been looking to fill the void left by Festival of Friends' departure from Gage Park, so we bought Saturday tickets, and liked the festival so much we returned on Sunday. 

Reminiscent of Guelph's Hillside Festival, Harvest Picnic doesn't give off the commercial vibe of so many music festivals I've attended. Despite boasting some fantastic food vendors, including many local farmers, Harvest Picnic also allows guests to bring in their own food. Spread out on blankets, we ate homemade sandwiches and salads before hitting the food trucks and beer and wine vendor. Adding to the feeling of community, beer and wine drinkers weren't relegated to a tent or cage, as the entire area of the festival was licensed. 

Set against the backdrop of beautiful Christie Lake and the sounds of some of my favourite musicians, Harvest Picnic provided a welcoming environment. I hope to make it back next year. Anyone want to car pool? 

Here are just a few highlights of my Harvest Picnic weekend. 


Quills, one of my favourite shops on Locke Street, was there to introduce a new generation to the joy of typewriters. Read me gush about Quills in this post from last year.


I spent my childhood reading on blankets at folk festivals, and I haven't left that tradition behind. I'm just about finished devouring Where Am I Now: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson, the book-loving sassy star of Matilda

Alan Doyle

Ian Tyson

Johnny Reid took to the crowd, kissing babies and hugging wives. He was remarkably charming and he gained a fan in me. 
 
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