Ryerson student, Lannii-Lee Pettiford’s collection of six photos, “Crying in Paris”, was titled after the photographer’s emotional response to losing the majority of the 35mm images shot during a full day of touring the city. These six photos were all that could be salvaged from the roll within the film camera after the undeveloped film was accidentally exposed to sunlight upon its removal.
Rather than spoiling the photos, the exposure added a pleasing new element to the subjects captured, giving more dimension to the images rather than taking away from them.
She was twenty-three years old and home for the first time in almost ten months. Home was home because she was born here, because over there was where she had her first kiss and because she could still remember all the names of her elementary school teachers; it could not be home anymore because she had to make herself small again to fit back here, because three hours away in an apartment that her mother would have called “deplorably small” was her girlfriend and their cat, a string of Christmas lights and a wall papered with lists of things that the two of them were going to do together one day: Find a recipe for really good Béarnaise sauce. Visit that ice hotel in Amsterdam. Make something that has never existed before. She had made it as far as driving to her house and she could see the tree in the living room. For a moment, she remembered Christmas mornings past that all sort of blended together into a warm blur- wrapping paper strewn across the carpet, mugs of powdery hot chocolate and the flimsy paper crowns they wore at the dinner table. She could still feel her mittened hand clasped in her father’s gloved one as he led her up the icy steps of the church. She and her family were at service every Sunday and she was always surprised by how many more people came for Christmas Eve mass. “These people are not true followers of God, Katherine,” her dad would whisper in her ear as she sat perched on his knee, in the pew right at the front that was theirs every week. “Yes, Daddy,” she would try and steady her heart against these bad people. When she was very young, she loved to watch her father’s sermons. She loved the way everybody listened to him. She loved that sometimes, if he was in the right mood, she could catch his eye and he would wink at her. Once after service she had asked her father if he was God. For a moment, anger flashed across his face, and then he laughed and laughed. Katherine had turned the radio off in the car and she watched as her mother plugged in the lights of the tree and fiddled with the cards strung up on the wall. She couldn’t go in, not yet anyway, and so instead she was in line at a coffee shop. It was the same one she went to every day in high school; by the time she was a sophomore, the baristas all knew her by name. “It’s Katherine,” they would say with a smile, and often they’d have her drink ready before she’d even ordered it. Now she didn’t recognize anybody there and nobody recognized her. She couldn’t decide if the anonymity was delicious or depressing. The girl behind the counter called out, “Next,” and it took Katherine a moment to realize she was speaking to her. The girl was probably sixteen, wearing purple eyeshadow and a thick gold necklace. “Do you know what you want?” she asked pointedly. “Um.” The girl looked at Katherine expectantly. “I’ll just get a medium latte.” She called out “Next” before Katherine had finished paying. Katherine moved to the end of the bar and watched as a middle-aged woman steamed a little pitcher of milk. The woman wiped the steam wand off with a green cloth, poured the milk into a mug and then began steaming another pitcher. Katherine felt something move beside her and looked down to see a boy, no older than three. His hair was blonde and he was resting his chin on top of the counter. “Woah,” he said every time the woman restarted the process of steaming the milk. The woman handed Katherine her latte. Though she ordered it to go, she went to a chair by the front window and sat down. The paper cup was warm against her hands and she held it until just before the moment when it would begin to hurt. She sat it down, cooled her hands on the leather of the chair, then picked it up again. She remembered being seventeen, sitting on the back deck with her mother, Abigail. It was early June, a few days after her high school graduation. Katherine was digging her fingernails into the jean material of her shorts and promising herself that by the time she counted to ten she would release her fingernails and be honest with her mother. “Patricia called this morning, sweetheart. She wants to know if you’re planning on going back to camp.” Ten. “Um. I don’t know, Mom. I thought you said I could be done after last summer?” “You know how much it means to your dad.” Her church, her father’s church, had been running its summer camp since Katherine was three. She’d been going every season since, as a camper for ten years and a counsellor for four more. At some point between those fourteen summers, church camp became another bullet point on the list of things Katherine was bad at. They played capture the flag and decorated flowerpots with paper crosses and doves. At the end of each session, they had a service with all the campers. For these services, her father wore jeans and a shirt with the camp logo on it and a baseball cap. He said things like, “Jesus is actually not that different from you guys!” and, “The coolest thing about God is how much He loves us.” Katherine was thirteen and painting a mural on the side of the church garage the first time she heard the word “dyke”, muttered under the breath of some boy who was cleaning his paintbrush beside her. At home that night, Katherine and her father ate ham sandwiches on the picnic table where she and Abigail now sat. She remembered the sun was warm on her bare legs and her father let her have two bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream after supper. “Today was so great, Katie Cat.” Nine. Eight. She closed her eyes; she was eleven years old, sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor with her best friend Valerie, their lips pressed together; she was fifteen and in the cafeteria with her friends, scrambling to make up the names of boys she knew she was meant to like; she opened her eyes. Seven. Her mother nudged Katherine in a way that was meant to be playful. “Patricia said they’ve had a lot of boys sign up. Maybe a little summer romance before you go to school?” Abigail’s eyes were equal parts bright with the joyous prospect of her only daughter finding a nice boy to fool around with for the next two months and with the deep-seated anxiety that this would never be the life her daughter would choose. Six. Five. It always confused her how people could have so many contradictions within themselves, like a riddle her grandfather once wrote on the inside of a birthday card for her; “I went to the pictures tomorrow/I took a front seat at the back/I fell from the pit to the gallery/And broke a front bone in my back/A lady she gave me some chocolate/I ate it and gave it her back/I phoned for a taxi and walked it/And that’s why I never came back.” Her parents were the kindest people she had ever known. Four days of the week, her mother made dinner for the widowed man who lived in the apartment building at the end of their street. Her father mentored a group of foster kids after school on Tuesdays and sometimes on the weekend they’d come over and have pizza and play Katherine’s old Mario Kart games. In the front hall of the house they had a wooden plaque that read Love Lives Here. And yet they could be so hard and relentlessly unforgiving in a way that frightened her. They said cruel things but disguised them in kind words and they loved everybody, except for the people they absolutely hated. Four. “Mom, I-” “You could go on a few dates, at least. It doesn’t have to be anything serious and that way you’ll know what to expect at college… you won’t end up making any mistakes. You’re a good girl.” Abigail smiled. Three. Two. “I know you and Dad… I know that-” Abigail reached out and pried Katherine’s hand away from her thigh. She ran her fingers over the tips of her daughter’s, the way she used to when Katherine was little. She was silently pleading with Katherine to keep everything the same. So Katherine smiled and she swallowed everything she wanted to say, and said instead, “One more summer might be okay.” It was a balancing act, one she had been trying to maintain for as long as she could remember. It was the art of existing without ever existing fully. Eight weeks later, Katherine would call her mother from her shoebox of a dorm room. She told Abigail, in the gentlest way she knew how, that she was not, and could never be, the kind of daughter her mother wanted. “I’ve known since I was eight,” she said into the phone, eyes closed tightly even though she was two hundred kilometres away from home. “But you always wear dresses,” was the first thing Abigail said. “Your father can never know,” was the last. Katherine’s cell phone, tucked in the pocket of her coat, vibrated against her leg. The blonde boy was still standing at the counter. She could not remember what it felt like to be enchanted by the most ordinary things, though she could remember spending an entire afternoon in the backyard with her parents searching for four leaf clovers and so she knew at one time she might have been able to listen, over and over again, to the paper-tearing sound of foaming milk with the same intensity that he was. Katherine thought about that girl sometimes, the girl who sat on her father’s lap and hated an entire church full of people she knew nothing about, the girl who agreed to hide herself so things could stay simple for her mother. She wondered if that girl would recognize the Katherine who held her girlfriend’s hand in the mall, the Katherine who hadn’t had a Thanksgiving at home in three years. Her phone vibrated again and Katherine promised herself that by the time she counted to ten she would stand up, get in her car and go home.
Join us for the launch of our first zine of the year, Some Spaces. We will be selling zines (pay what you can) and crafting the night away on November 9th. More information on the event can be found here.
To get the city into the spirit of Halloween month an event centered on our local witch community is here!
Starting on October 5th and ending on the 31st, Monica Bodirsky, WitchCity Arts, WIMA Toronto and Lady Betty Jane Ware host an art festival for all women who identify as Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans. It is meant as a safe space in which everyone can share their creative project with others in the community and the public through various events around the city of Toronto.
The festival was influenced and inspired by the repeal of section 365 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a law which stated witchcraft as illegal. Monica Bordirsky took this as an opportunity to come up with a place for artists who are a part of the witch community to showcase their exquisite work.
Most recently from October 13th to 15th the festival took over the Artscape Youngplace for three art and craft themed events. The first on Friday, Lucky Divination Parlour which was focused on displaying artists as well as free tarot and oracle readings.
Saturday was taken up with the Wicked WITCHcrafters Fair, a collection of around 20 artists showing off their work, and finished pieces available for purchase. Vendors included were alchemists, traditional artists, illustrators, authors, jewelers, and one of a kind collectors. All were excited to be present and extremely open to discussing their work as well as process. Most pieces on display were related to the theme of witches, pagans, and women in general.
Finally on Sunday a workshop with Monica Bordirsky and Lisa East called Painting the Goddess focused on spell casting. Participants were also instructed on painting their own stone for the workshop, costing $10 to join.
Throughout the rest of October the festival will continue to travel throughout the city, with all events featuring local talent in the spotlight. Before the end of the month there will be an oracle as well as tarot cards workshop, discussions with a witch panel, musical performances and much more. Check out Witchfest North on Facebook for a full event list. If you’re feeling the witching spirit check out some of the future gatherings coming up!
In order to escape the confines of one’s mind, reality, external frustrations, some spaces are necessary to inhabit. For our first zine of the school year, we are looking for your printable manifestations of the spaces you use to transcend the things that get you down.
We accept poetry, prose, visual artwork, and anything whatsoever that can be stapled in hardcopy. Please limit submissions to either 3 poems, 1 short story, or 1 photo series (although we may select specific photos to print). Kindly send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org in .doc format for print and .jpg for image.
We are chalk full of new members who are so looking forward to learning about the spaces that make you feel better about the world, either physical or other.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The band that made me worship music. Not just music but words. And if we’re being completely honest, it was the people singing the words that I worshipped the most. I worshipped the four guys that wore socks on their cocks, like I worshipped The Care Bears, as a kid, or more specifically, “Brave Heart Lion”. I remember it was the summer before Grade 11. We were going on a family trip to Germany. I was in one of those weird teenage phases where you hate everyone, and believe that the only people who understand you are the bands you listen to because their words are so “real” and “relatable”. I went on this trip believing that Anthony Kiedis (aka Antoine the Swan), was the only person who truly understood me. To compound my resentment, I lost my ipod on the plane on the way over which meant, for the remainder of the trip, anytime I wanted to listen to music, I had to carry around my laptop. And that’s exactly what I did.
My twin sister and I share everything: clothes, music, friends. We did (and still do) most things together. So when my heart was entirely, lovingly consumed with the The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and more specifically Antony Kiedis, I had to get my sister on board. He was unusual and freakish. He posessed this electricity about him that’s eutrophic and explosive. He embodied this, “I don’t give a fuck” personality and even stranger attire that made him hard to resist. There was something unconditionally sexy about a man with bronzed, wheat-like hair, who wore bizarre, unconventional, zebra print hats and bandanas, black shorts, high socks, and colourful 80’s high top Nike sneakers. Kiedis often wore no shirt at all. And if he did, he would rip it off, within two minutes of their set. Sigh. Über appealing to their audience, The Chilli Peppers wanted to be naked. Kiedis, who was the lead singer, (or as he refers to himself, the ‘poet’ in the band), was no exception.
My sister and I faced jet lag, we woke up early every morning. So I took this as the perfect opportunity to share with her what she’s been missing. I woke up, it was raining. Raindrops were falling down the sides of the windows. Fog was starting to form from the clouds. Staring at me was a blue boat, with red trim, dry docked, rusting in someone’s backyard. I got up, threw my bathrobe on, and washed my face. I clicked the kettle, opened the window, and called for my sister to come into the kitchen. We had our own little “apartment” in the house we were staying at in Germany. It was just my sister and I. The rest of my family was downstairs sleeping. I poured two cups of tea and set them on the counter. I opened up my laptop, and as she sat down I told her, “Listen”. I played my favourite Chilli Peppers song “Soul To Squeeze”. The melody of the song reminds me of a lullaby my mother sang to me as a kid. Slow but strong. I knew she would love it, and I was right. From then on, every morning of our trip we would wake up, open the window, make a cup of tea, and listen. Now, we were both fans.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers were a rather late addition to my musical repertoire. My friends had already been listening to their music for years, but that never bothered me. I quickly became an encyclopaedia of all things Chilli Peppers and considered myself an ‘expert’ of the band’s work. I knew everything and anything, and what I didn’t know, I researched. I printed out song lyrics and memorized all the hits. Once I thought I had them down, I would throw on my “John Lennon” wannabe sunglasses, crank the tunes, and dance. My friend and I would send each other “SnapChats” back and forth playing their music and imitating their insane mannerisms on stage. (“SnapChat” is the social media app that allows for the senseless, reckless teen, to send a photo or video and have it disappear within 1-10 seconds of being opened.) And when people would say to me, “he’s like, 50 now”, (referring to Kiedis), I would respond, “So?”. In my mind he is just as sexy at 50 walking around in shorts and UGGS in the middle of summer, as I thought he was at 20 with his ragged hair, and calm, seducing baby face.
That summer was my second time reading Kiedis’s autobiography Scar Tissue. It was the jarring bolt that made me decide Anthony Kiedis was the man for me. His persona was mesmerizing. He was this completely deranged, unhinged mad man, mesmerized by the female body. Kiedis was constantly talking about the women he had fucked on tour describing one woman’s tits as “enormous missiles that projected out from her elbows to the end of her hand” (Kiedis 158).
I grew up sheltered in the privileged neighbourhood of Lawrence Park. School was only a five-minute walk, and my grandmother lived across the street. Perhaps that’s why I became so infatuated with the way this man acted, wrote and spoke. His experiences seemed so wild and unimaginable to me. His being on tour, doing drugs all day, everyday, fucking fans while they recite poetry to him. I was awestruck. Did I feel the same way all teenage girls felt at that age? Thirsty for male attention and fantasizing about ‘bad boys’. I wanted to rebel. I wanted to fuck that rock star. I wanted to do drugs. I wanted to be a groupie and go on tour. I wanted to move to L.A.
I’m watching interviews of the band, and I’m thinking, “Shit. These guys are really weird”. My initial obsession was based purely off looks, and then sound. But shortly after, it came from their weirdness. Maybe I thought, “Hey if these sexy, rich, famous musicians can be so weird, and that’s makes them cool, then maybe I can be too.” The Red Hot Chilli Peppers made it not just “ok” to be weird, but cool.
My mom was never a Chilli Peppers fan. In fact, she rarely listened to music. Although to her credit, when she did, it was usually Leonard Cohen (RIP), or Neil Diamond. Both appreciable. She says she didn’t hear the words when she heard the Chilli Peppers, all she heard was a lot of loud banging and fast talking that she couldn’t understand. I tried to get her on board. I failed. My sister tried. She failed. On a very rare occasion I would walk into the kitchen, and my mom would be sitting at the table, on her laptop, playing Leonard Cohen on YouTube. I’d say, “Hey ma”. “Whatcha up to?” Bopping her head to the music like one of those disturbing bobble heads while attempting to sing along, she’d say, “Your dad and I used to always dance to this song.” And then she’d keep singing Cohen’s, “you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya”. Anyone who knows my mother knows that she is horribly tone deaf, and the sound of her singing sounds like a cawing crow. Unfortunately I inherited the same lack of skill. Regardless, I am thankful for my mother’s love of Leonard Cohen because it made me a lover too. I’ll have to keep pushing her with the Chilli Peppers.
Every high schoolers music taste is forged from false pretenses of “cool” and “alt”. Everyone claims to be an expert of bands like Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Stones, and The Beatles. It was considered “cool”. The goal was to be “alternative”. Being “alternative” became the high-school fad. It meant that you listened to rock ‘n roll and/or indie music, and dressed like a homeless hippie bum, mixed with a little bit of emo. Think Carly Simon mixed with Billy Idol. Both of which made no sense to me. It irritated me how people categorized people based off the kind of music they listened to, or whether they dressed a certain way. Who really cares?
One night, my friend was throwing a house party. I was in Grade 12 and I was wearing my friend’s Red Hot Chilli Peppers t-shirt. A guy at a party approached me and quizzed me on the band. I guess he thought I was a “poser”.
He asked me, “Can you even name all four band members?”
I laughed and responded, “Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante, and now Josh Klinghoffer has replaced John as lead guitarist. Nice try.”
I chuckled and took another sip of my drink. I got up to go tell my friends about the encounter.
“How annoying! Ugh I hate when people do that” I told them.
“Most ridiculous thing ever”, my sister responded.
This experience bothered me afterwards. If I wanted to wear a t-shirt that had a band on it, even if I didn’t listen to that band, why should anyone else care? Maybe I just liked the t-shirt. Why did I have to be an expert? What if I wasn’t?
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ debut studio album titled, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, released August 10, 1984. Their second album Freaky Styley debuted in 1985 featuring the song “Sex Rap”. Kiedis raps for one minute and fifty five seconds about sex. He roars lyrics like, “Time to swing a little melody, to make you all feel something sexually…..Open your legs to the sensual sounds, with the beauty of the beat on your pretty wet mound”. I first heard that song when I was fifteen. I had never done anything more than make out with a guy. Kiedis singing about making a woman come, and her wet pussy, was something that didn’t play on the radio everyday. I was attracted to Kiedis, because he was the one singing those sexual songs. He was the one who was talking about doing all those, freaky things, to women. That made him the sexy one. The one who women wanted to be fucked by.
Fandom is a strange thing. When you become obsessed with an artist, or an actor, or a band, as a teenager, they steal your every thought. All you do is dream about them. Wish that you could somehow meet them. Fantasize about randomly bumping into them on the street. Researching everything there is to know about them. They become a part of you. You not only want to be with them, but you want to be them. The Chilli Peppers were my ultimate obsession. They made me grow up. They talked sexually, they swore, they wore weird clothing, they did drugs, they fucked, and most importantly, they sang freely about it. They told us about it. They showed me it’s ok to be weird, to dress weird, talk weird, act weird, have sex weird. Anything goes.
I‘m seventeen and I’m sitting at home in my living room, my twin sister walks in and says,
“Hey, do you listen to Guns ‘n Roses”?
“Not really…..but I want to get into it”, I respond.
“Listen”, she says…..and all of a sudden the obsession begins to swell again…..and Sweet Child of Mine starts playing…..
Kiedis, Anthony, and Larry Sloman. Scar tissue. New York: Hyperion, 2004. Print.