Me and my mustache

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Dear reader,

I’m currently growing a lip critter. Aka. a mustache. And it’s coming along nicely, thank you.

I’m growing the lip caterpillar for Movember, of course. Movemeber, if you’re unaware, is using the month of November for men to grow mustaches to raise funds and awareness for men’s depression and cancer, namely prostate cancer. And over the past few years things have really taken off with the comical, yet serious month of tiny facial hair.

Because let’s be honest, mustaches on most men (especially young men) aren’t super attractive. (But then again, Tom Selleck is a good-looking man by many standards). And that’s kinda the point. It’s okay to have an awkward amount of petite hairs above the top lip – people will ask why, and then you can explain the whole concept of Movember. And then you can encourage them to donate to your Movember “Mo Space.” Kinda like this conversation. Kinda.

And I’m all for that. Growing a mustache as a young man is fun, somewhat liberating even. I have typically held a solid 5 o’clock shadow in the past years, and this is a new facial hair territory to stroll into. And so far so good. The so-called ‘stache is coming in nicely and the comments (er, pseudo-compliments) are rolling in. (I’m just chalking this up to people noticing that some kind of mustache is sprouting on my face and they feel sorry for me. Even sorrier for my lady friend, of course.)

Are you participating? Both men and women can join Movember teams (females are called “Mo Sistas” and can definitely raise funds/awareness too. Ladies, you could also draw a mustache on daily if you so desired, maybe even changing up the mustache style day to day.)

I will update with a photo at the end of the month for all you curious readers. I should have a full-blown lip critter by then. I hope.

In the meantime, if you want to support me (and the TRAVIS team) and donate to my (our) Movember page, please go here:

http://ca.movember.com/mospace/1070422/index/tp/1

I even have a photo of my lip critter up there to entice you.

– RYAN BOLTON

My last editor’s rant

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(The following is taken from the upcoming October issue of TRAVIS. In short, I’m stepping down from the publication to make way for better talent. This is my non-goodbye):

I’m leaving. Not to be alarmist, I’m just moving on from TRAVIS. And I’m looking down the barrel of endless emotions. Sad, excited, wistful, separation anxiety. But I just received an e-mail that puts it all back into perspective.

A kid named Derek e-mailed me. It was a short and simple e-mail. He’s new to Sheridan and he read TRAVIS cover-to-cover on his first day of school. Apparently he liked it. And now he wants to get involved with the publication. Over my three years of being editor of TRAVIS, this was my favourite part. The part where students are moved by TRAVIS to a point that they want to join. Like our editorial goal states: “Why write a piece if a reader won’t brag about it to their friends? Make sure they give a shit about every article.” And sure enough, some kids give a shit about TRAVIS.

I’m unfathomably proud of the magazine. I gloat about it shamelessly. Just ask my lady friend; she will gladly go on about my magazine obsessive tendencies. (Note to guys: You may only call your partner “lady friend” after five years. Write that down.)

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M.I.A. is M.I.A.: The Review

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by RYAN BOLTON

And the show starts with M.I.A. being, er, MIA. The internationally acclaimed electronic shock rocker is late. M.I.A.’s tour DJ comes on stage to let the crowd know she’s running behind and starts spinning some floor-vibrating beats to get the crowd to “vibe out and start dancing.” It works.

Some 20 minutes later, M.I.A. hits the stage. Playing the undesirable Sound Academy last night, Maya Arulpragasam is on her second night of her fall international tour for her third album, /\/\/\Y/\ (Maya). With a multi-layered get-up that was slowly shed to reveal a black “Fuck Google, Ask Me” T-shirt and sunglasses, M.I.A., a recent mother, had three back-up singers in full burkas. She does like the controversy, even though the message comes off as overly contrived all-too often. And to stoke the fire more, she had two redhead-looking b-boy dancers allowing her to play off her controversial, YouTube-censored ginger-genocide video for “Born Free.”

But M.I.A. is very much a performer. She has her character-shtick-real-life-persona very much on lock. And she’s damn good at it. She let the well-informed crowd know of her anti-authority and anti-consumerist ideals at various points, once yelling: “I don’t give a fuck if no one buys my shit, it should be free!” Meanwhile the crowd threw down $40-75 to be at the show.

Hitting the stage to the new, danceable “Illygirl” she had the audience’s arms in the air. And she kept them there. But it was when the DJ switched to the past catalogue of smash-up, eclectic hits – Arular (2005) andKala (2007) – that the audience lost themselves. It was evident when the rowdy anthem “World Town” hit the diverse crowd that the mood changed. And talk about a diverse crowd – I was standing amongst hip-hop kids, indie rockers, a couple punks, club-ready girls and some suits in the $75-a-pop VIP. Then again, Toronto is a true “World Town.”

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Arcade Fire’s Toronto Island Show

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by RYAN BOLTON

Arcade Fire was a far cry from the suburbs last night. They were on an island. Toronto Island.

As the band got ready to hit the stage, their third album, which has been as well received as it was anticipated, The Suburbs, became the number one selling album in North America. And after having Terry Gilliam film their Madison Square Garden live to YouTube vehicle, they also bookended Lollapolooza last weekend. In other words, the Montreal collective of a married couple with a fellow sibling were, ah damn, I have to say it, on fire.

And the show didn’t disappoint the legions of fans that journeyed to Centre Island for an intake of indie gods pour on the energy. But the hour-and-a-half wait for the ferry after the show might have. (Commenters, like last time with the beer lines, do your thing below.)

Arcade Fire is built for festival shows. Their music, especially the anthem-steeped Funeral, is stuffed with building crescendos and oh-oh-ah sing-a-longs. I first saw the band perform at Hillside Festival in 2005 right after Funeral blew up. Back then they closed with their typical closer, “Wake Up,” but would then proceeded to march through the crowd with instruments in tow eventually forming a drum circle. (Yeah, it was Hillside).

With eight people on stage last night, including one that is wildly running around stabbing a snare drum, the energy is palpable. And standing there in the massive audience (well, in the beer tent), Arcade Fire not just moves you physically, but emotionally. It’s at once a personal and a collective experience in this milieu. And the atmosphere personified this as I spotted a couple people with tears streaming their cheeks. (One lad in the beer tent, Adam, I believe, came up to me worried. He thought I wasn’t having a good time as I wasn’t flailing my body parts, but then realized I was madly scribbling notes. He gave me the go-ahead when I explained.)

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The (Forgotten) Inspiration

Sometimes I want to run from the act of writing. To just get up and flee. Adios, writing. Keep your syllables and conjugated verbs at bay.

And then I read a solid book (See: Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number) or stumble upon a likewise brilliant morsel of inspiration. As I’ve written here before, writing is like learning to do a triple backflip mctwist on a high-dive. Blindfolded. It’s hard. Writing is a craft that is forever a challenge. You can never conquer it. Unless you have a lot of white hair and an equally impressive beard that comes with the initials E.H. And even still…

But this blog is one of my favourite parts of my week. Which needs to be clarified: it’s still a stressful part of my week. But as a writer, well, someone that makes a living by shuffling words, this is my true release. I have the opportunity (platform?) to present ideas, question, explore, and, yes, write. To simply write. That’s easier said than done, just like learning Jiu-Jitsu. But writing as a release is something that I hopefully never lose.

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Editor’s Letter: Car Accident

I was just in a car accident.

The grey sky overhead was unleashing a soothing drizzle on my car’s windshield. I was in stop-and-go traffic on the ever-so-congested Gardiner Expressway coming from work. You know, move three feet, stop, yawn, move two feet. I was battling my wily eyelids when I awoke to the crunching sound of my car’s front end. Jay-sus.

But it was OK; I still made it to my destination on time. The destination being this issue’s editorial meeting.

As I sat through the meeting, I wasn’t upset. Not even remotely. Hell, I was content even. Some kind of twisted sacrifice to my overworking ways. Albeit quite the literal wake up call, I still have my passion intact.

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Beating the Beta Test: Arkells, Finger Eleven & Bif Naked

Arkells Band Shot

The most downplayed part of college is the live music. By far. You don’t always get to see bands before they transform into Nickelback for $5. Colleges are where the bands play before they turn into big deals. But behind the closed doors of the Canadian college music scene, is a tight-knit network of bands, promoters, event planners, and, of course, colleges. Here’s the story of three bandsall Canadian, all with different audiencesthat broke the college market. And why.

 

By RYAN BOLTON, originally published in TRAVIS magazine

 

It’s late on a wintry Tuesday night at a college bar. Blue and red lights fall on the plaid-wearing students rocking back and forth with alcoholic beverages cradled in one hand. The other hand is jutting straight in the air like a semi-religious experience. They start to sing along. They know the words to this song. The lead singer, “feeling it,” just points the black microphone in the crowd’s direction, catching their collective voices for the chorus. They know this song.

It’s OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson.” But OutKast isn’t anywhere in sight. It’s the Arkells adding their indie flavour to the massive hit from 2001. And they’re doing it justice. And so is the Sheridan College crowd swaying to and fro, blurting out, I’m sorry Ms. Jackson. Oooh. I am for real. Never meant to make your daughter cry. It’s one of those moments where the crowd and the band get lost together. The slouching economy doesn’t matter. The subpar grade on your last essay about Virginia Woolf doesn’t matter. Your boyfriend being a Jersey Shore-like jerk last night doesn’t matter, either. You’re caught up in the music. Everything is where it needs to be. Cheap beer in hand. Friends at side. An industry-breaking band plugging hard for 250 students. College life seems to be all right in this moment.

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