Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Clever Headline

In which the author embarks on a three-tiered discussion of the recent conclusion of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, and feature film adaptation.


Image: Martin Ansin

When you live in Windsor, Ontario, Scott Pilgrim is a somewhat fun if confusinglittle book by the guy who uglied up Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero [okay fine, it’s not that bad, but after Christine Norrie and Chynna Clugston’s work on the previous series, O’Malley can be pretty jarring].
But when you move to Toronto, Scott Pilgrim becomes somethingelse entirely, especially when you find out you work with the guy who married Wallace Wells. They love Scott Pilgrim up here. It’s almost totemic, a piece of art that celebrates and justifies everything from indie comics to video games to manga fandom to living in Toronto. Me being me, I did not react well to this enthusiasm.

Minor spoilers after the jump.

Class is in Session: Questlove at the Drake Underground 6/29/10

In about four seconds, a teacher will begin to speak.

He said he had two sets: the set for dancing and getting wild, and the set for standing around and watching. The crowd obviously wanted the dancing set. He surveyed the crowd, repositioning the pick in his trademark afro and arching an eyebrow.

“Y’all are getting the fishbowl set,” he said, as the younger members of the crowd groaned their disapproval. “They’re both good sets!” he assured them.

“This is the history of the hip-hop sample according to Questlove.”

And like the bell rang, homeroom started. While my companion might have preferred he went with the dancing set, as a very amateur student of hip-hop, I was enthralled.


A Few Thoughts About This and That

Commitments both personal and professional [not least of which: forgetting all about it], meant I completely screwed the pooch on this year’s Bookcamp Toronto, another of those  newfangled unconferences you kids think are all the rage.  Not surprisingly, especially in the wake of the Kobo’s launch, much of the discussion, in facet or another, circled around publishing’s newest Jesus, the eReader.

Now, it’s hard for me to really form an opinion on what was said, since I wasn’t there and am  only now starting to sift through the numerous blog posts discussing the event.  But I can see what people are saying and filter it through my experience as a guy who deals with book consumers on a daily basis.  Because I feel like that’s the thing that publishing has always gotten wrong, but is really gotten wrong in the past 5 years or so:  looking at the middleman [bookstores] as their primary customer.


Some Final Words on Banksy

He likes getting scratched behind the ears. The dog does, too.

Thanks to the benevolence of some kind folks on Twitter I was able to scoot downtown today to get a look at the remaining Banksy piece here in Toronto I hadn’t found.  It’s probably my favourite of the batch, given the colour.  A little irritating to see how close I had been to it during my initial search on Monday; basically walked right past it.

For his part, Banksy has been continuing his North American travels, hitting up Detroit and Boston so far, with more to come no doubt.  To those of us who are fans, I found this post on Wooster Collective summed up the sentiment, echoing what I wrote the other day:

It’s been amazing to see how Banksy’s road trip across North America has completely energized local communities…For us, Banksy has given people a new reason to get out of their homes, explore their cities on a scavenger hunt trying to find pieces that have been put up in both heavily trafficked areas as well as those off the beaten path. [Source]

Exactly.  But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed since moving to Toronto, this city might love hockey, but they might love hating even more.

Tuesday morning word trickled in that the ‘Will Work for Idiots’ piece had been sloppily gone over by local tagger Manr.  Now, see…sigh.

The argument goes, ‘live by the can, die by the can.’ You’d like to believe most writers work under a code, and will refrain from flagrantly going up over someone who got there first. But the game is the game, and people will go over to claim a prime piece of real estate.  One piece of vandalism cannot be celebrated over another. Manr had every right to paint that alley as Banksy did.

But see, Manr wanted to make a statement.  He didn’t care if it was good, he just wanted to get himself over on Banksy.  Don’t think it’s a mistake that you can still see the original piece under that weak throw up. That’s the whole point. He wants all the Banksy fans, all the people who don’t give a shit about street art any other day of the week, to see his name. I can certainly understand that logic, I’d probably be pissed if no one in my city cared about the thing I dedicated my life to, but the second some crossover celebrity hits town, it’s all anyone can talk about. But what Manr did was just lazy.  And he’s got every right to be lazy, and I’ve got every right to think he’s a douche because of it.

That said, I think the alternative misses the point as well. I mean, props to the owners of that pub for recognizing what they had on the back of their building, but  it’s still altering the original environment of the work, and I just think graf should respected but not protected.

And Torontoist, I know you had people arguing for the reveal of the locations, but you should know I would not have had the amazing day I had on Monday if I had just gone to points on a map. I wouldn’t have talked to the people I did, I wouldn’t have seen the neighbourhoods and parts of the city I did.  And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

My Day With Banksy

Sore feet, but happy.

Anyone who loves street art probably froze for a good fifteen seconds when the headline ‘Banksy Comes to Toronto?‘ hit Torontoist on Sunday afternoon.  It wouldn’t have been the first time people thought they spotted the man’s work on the streets of T-Dot, people around here have been mistaking Fauxreel and Banksy’s work for years, so there was a healthy dose of skepticism.  But the evidence continued to pile up, to the point where the CBC of all places reported that Banksy’s publicist [Banksy has a publicist?!] confirmed that the pieces spotted were legitimate.

And then it seemed everyone in this city lost their damn fool mind for a minute.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Let’s Talk About Love

Is this woman a genius? Tens of millions would say so.

Regular readers [Hi, Glenn] are likely aware of my love for the 33 1/3 series of music guides.  Slight, portable, packed with insight on records from the classic to the cultish, they represent some of the best music criticism you can find on the shelves. But one selection gave me pause: Carl Wilson’s book on Celine Dion’s ‘Let’s Talk About Love.’ How could that piece of garbage warrant any booklength examination? Why was it longer than books on Illmatic or OK Computer? So I did what I imagine most petulant and superior music fans would have done: sucked my teeth and walked away.

But this book refused to go away. It made year-end ‘best of’ lists, intelligent people recommended it online and in print, just last week it got an endorsement on the Slate Culture Gabfest.  So I finally bit the bullet and read the thing this week.  And it is everything they say it is.

Thing is, it’s not about Celine Dion at all.


I Got You Stuck Off the Realness

Ceci n'est pas un livre.

“Is it possible that contemporary literary prizes are exactly like the federal bailout package, subsidizing work that is no longer remotely describing reality?”

–David Shields, “Reality Hunger”

Yowch. There’s a lot to yowch about in Shields’ [“The Thing About Life is One Day You’ll be Dead“] latest. Reality Hunger calls itself a manifesto on the cover, but if anything it’s a printed mixtape. An argument presented in over 600 numbered snippets, none more than a page or two in length, some Shields wrote, some lifted from a variety of sources across a number of disciplines. The only way of distinguishing which is which is a poorly [by design] assembled appendix at the back of the book, an appendix Shields urges the reader not to consult. Because knowing who said what defeats the purpose of the book and what Shields is trying to accomplish. He wants to blend not only genre, but form. (more…)

Keepin’ the Faith

On and on and three steps ahead

On and on and three steps ahead

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a person’s first art.  Not the first art they create, but that first art they embrace, independent of their parents’ influence.  I’ve mentioned here at least half a dozen times that hip-hop and rap captured my imagination at an early age, but what I’ve been thinking about lately is the type of hip-hop and rap that made me a lifetime enthusiast. If Run-DMC and the Fat Boys brought me in [I fully believe the Fat Boys were just as important as Run-DMC in exposing the suburbs to hip-hop], the Native Tongues were the acts who won my heart.

The Native Tongues were a collective of likeminded rap artists in the late 80s who ushered in what would now probably called ‘conscious rap’.  Anchored by the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, the Native Tongues provided an alternative to the political bombast of Public Enemy and the frustrated rage of NWA.  Put it another way: if PE was Metallica and NWA the Sex Pistols, the Native Tongues were prog-rock.

De La Soul was Pink Floyd. And ‘De La Soul is Dead’ was ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.