Quotable: Just Kids by Patti Smith

Tuesday, 31 July 2012
“There were days, rainy gray days, when the streets of Brooklyn were worthy of a photograph, every window the lens of a Leica, the view grainy and immoble. We gathered our colored pencils and sheets of paper and drew like wild, feral children into the night, until, exhausted, we fell into bed. We lay in each other's arms, still awkward but happy, exchanging breathless kisses into sleep.” 

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Lit Lunch #4

Thursday, 26 July 2012
Another one of our soon-to-be-famous Lit Lunches took place at J.H Gordon Books two weekends ago, and along with the usual cast of characters there were also some new faces. One of these faces belonged to Joanne Levy who has just launched a new middle grade book called Small Medium at Large. Amanda over at Waiting for an Echo has more info on our lunches and how to get involved! 

Sights and Sounds of Art Crawl

Sunday, 15 July 2012
Another art crawl weekend and, as always, James Street errupted. This crawl was complete with acrobats, snow cones, and Dr. Disc's 21st birthday bash on the store's rooftop. Here are a few shots I took on my trusty Fuji.

Restored Lister Block in all it's glory. No matter how many times I walk by, I still snap photos. It's just too beautiful a subject to miss.

The Dirty Nil prior to technical difficulties.
The Dirty Nil make the best of technical difficulties by taking things from the roof to the ground.
Oh, what art crawl has become over the past few years. There are acrobats now!

Christ's Church Cathedral. Home of the Maker's Market.
A photograph of books, simply to remind you all that this is a book blog, after all! (Even when it doesn't seem to be.)
The next few shots are of the brand new Design Annex. The photos speak for themselves! It's gorgeous.

Just like I have a compulsion to take photos of the Lister Block, I have a compulsion to take photos of CBC Hamilton each time I wander by. I'm just so thrilled to have them in the city, and I was equally thrilled when Not My Typewriter was chosen for the site's Best of Digital on June 26.

My better half  took to the stage with The Rest just after ten o'clock. He's got a brand new personal twitter account (@jordanoftherest). Follow him, even if it's only because he'll be tweeting photos of our cat from time to time.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea ...

Monday, 9 July 2012
I've been trying to come up with a book-related reason to post some photographs from my weekend away in Niagara for a family wedding, but unless you count a building labelled "The Owl and the Pussycat" as a reason, I have none. But I'm going to post a handful anyway. I should note that I did finish a book while I was away — Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford. In my next lifetime, I'm going to own a vineyard, spending my days reading amongst the grapes, enjoying glasses of wine. Ah, a girl can dream …

Walk Like a Man

Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Here’s the thing. I’m not a Bruce Springsteen fan. It’s not that I don’t like his music. I think Nebraska is a fucking amazing album. “Streets of Philadelphia” gives me goosebumps. I even own Born in the U.S.A on vinyl. Every time I hear Springsteen’s gravelly voice on the radio, I think to myself, “Man, I’ve got to listen to more of this!” But I never do. It’s not intentional; Springsteen just isn’t on my radar.

My indifference toward Bruce might make reading Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen seem like a peculiar choice for me; however, Robert J. Wiersema’s reading at this year’s gritLIT hooked me, proving that this book is less about Springsteen and more about Wiersema’s nostalgic relationship with music — a bond I’m very familiar with.

I couldn’t help but stumble, pause, and reread Wiersema's following words:

“Nostalgia is, by its very nature, bittersweet, the happiest memories laced with melancholy. It’s that combination,  that opposition of forces, that makes it so compelling. People, places, events, times: we miss them, and there’s a pleasure in the missing and a sadness in the love. The feeling is most acute, sometimes cripplingly so, when we find ourselves longing for the moment we’re in, the people we’re actually with.”

You don’t have to be a Springsteen fan to know that feeling. The one where you hear a song, and it instantly reminds you of a place you haven’t been in a while or a person you’re not supposed to think about anymore. And for a few minutes, that song fills your head, and there is a pleasure in the missing and a sadness in the love.

Sometimes I provoke these feelings of nostalgia, purposely choosing a song that scratches an itch, making me think of a different time and place, even if scratching that itch only reminds me that those days are long gone. My own personal soundtrack may not be made up of Springsteen tunes, but like Wiersema, I love being transported backwards through song, reliving that summer between high school and university or a road tripping adventure to see a favourite band.

In Walk Like a Man, Wiersema crafts his perfect playlist, providing readers with not only the story behind how the song was made and received, but also how his own personal story is tied to it. One of the things I like most about Wiersema’s playlist is it’s not just a list of his favourite Springsteen songs. In fact, some of the songs on his list aren’t his favourites at all. Some of the songs that are most tied to my own memories are songs I can't stand. I'd argue that Sublime is an awful band, yet I can't hear "Smoke Two Joints" without thinking about sitting on the hood of my high school car with friends, trying to figure out how we'd get beer and smokes for the weekend. (Who am I kidding? Back then I was drinking Blue Typhoon).

I'm high on nostalgia right now after a quick weekend tour to one of my favourite places — Ottawa. Music is so tied to the hundreds of memories I have from the four and a half years that I lived there that certain songs instantly bring me back. I can't hear the first few songs off Summerteeth without thinking about walking up Bank Street in Old Ottawa South. I can't hear The Band without thinking of standing under the stars with good friends and a Mill Street, hearing Levon Helm play "The Weight" in 2010. And sometimes I pull up songs like this simply because I want to relive open mic nights at The Georgetown.

I loved this book. I loved how it instantly made me think of Pearl Jam, and how Eddie Vedder's voice has been a constant in my life through high school, university, and the rest of my twenties. The book made me think of all those times I climbed in a car after a show with a bunch of sweaty guys, making the long trek home across the border. It made me think of the dozens of times I've been pressed up against a stage, belting out a favourite song, thinking to myself, "Man, it doesn't get better than this." Any music lover needs to read this book, if only to relive the experiences in his or her own life.

Look at me getting all sappy. Time to crank some Pearl Jam and call it a night.
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