Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Chastity Belt, Learn/Grow/Repeat & Design Canada

Weekly Update 2018-26: Chastity Belt soothes my mind as I reflect on my ability to handle adversity, and the amazing documentary showcasing Canadian graphic design.

Music: Chastity Belt
Straight outta Walla Walla, Washington comes the all-female indie rock four-piece Chastity Belt. Their music is so good and wholesome, inspired by the politics of the riot grrrl scene and early-90s Pacific Northwestern moody guitar riffs, it just feels like the right thing to me.

In between the mellow melodies weaves the angelic voice of lead singer Julia Shapiro, singing witty and often cutting lyrics. For their 2015 song Drone, she belts out a bridge I think most women can identify with:
He was just another man, tryn'a teach me something...
I especially love their 2017 album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, recorded in the summer of 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

On Monday, I checked out an amazing documentary about design's role in shaping Canada's identity through the latter half of the 20th century. It was really inspiring, so much so that I've saved it for the Inspiration section below.

Just a few of the amazing logos that make up Canada.

I had every intention of attending a female-centric bike ride last Thursday, and I even managed to withstand the dirty looks that are reserved only for those who drag their bikes onto the subway in rush hour (for 11 stops, mind you) AND the bus driver going past my stop even though I had requested the stop. When I got to the meeting place for the ride, I was met with a very nice woman who explained that she would not allow me to join the ride. Apparently my hybrid road bike is not good enough for the rides she holds, even though the event was listed as beginner level (when it comes to biking in the city, I am far beyond beginner).

And so, I turned a bad thing into an opportunity and conducted a more road bike-friendly solo ride all the way down the Lower Don Trail from Pottery Road to the water, continuing west for a wide stretch of the Martin Goodman Trail and up north to get home. It was a sweaty ~20km, and a really nice sightseeing journey of the don trail I had been wanting to explore for some time now. My ride map:

I took some wrong turns, so it was actually more distance!

The whole experience was a big motivator for me to plan some mid-length rides (more than my usual 4km to work). I'd really love to bike east from the river along the Martin Goodman Trail where it gets less busy, and also the peninsula of Tommy Thompson Park (which is a nice 12km and open on weekends). I didn't think Rebel/Sound Academy or Cherry Beach was a bikeable distance from my house, but it really isn't bad at just under 10km.

I also picked up a library book (that in itself was a kerfuffle!) called Come As You Are, a modern guide to understanding how sexuality varies from person to person, and how to understand one's own sexuality. I'm about halfway through the book, and it's very good.

The rain kept us from attending a garden tour in Uxbridge, but I was happy to spend the entire weekend with my family (literally everyone in my extended family at one point or another), and especially some quality time with my immediate family helping to organize a home for my dad's upcoming estate sale.

And finally, I attended a new meetup yesterday at the new location of Tilt. The arcade bar has moved from its original Annex location to Dundas, and boasts a larger space now so I don't have to brush past sweaty people to get around the bar. And if that weren't enough, the gods knew I would attend because my favourite pinball machine of all time was there to greet me. Yes, Pin-Bot is currently living at Tilt if you want to pay her a visit. She was good to me last night.

This week I'll be prepping for my fishing trip at the end of the week! I can't convey my level of excitement - this is a very special trip that I get to spend with my whole family (my mom doesn't usually come) and it's just basically the time of year when I feel most Canadian and proud of the beautiful nature that we are so lucky to have in our country. Not to mention that catching, prepping and cooking your own dinner is a really rewarding experience.

I'd also like to continue reading my library book (I only have three weeks to finish it and by gosh I will do that!).

Random Thought: Learn/Grow/Repeat
I've had a series of pretty bad things happen to me lately, and I've been dealing with everything pretty well. I like to think I'm growing more in tune with my emotions as I get older, and that I've developed healthy ways of dealing with all the shit that life throws at me. When faced with adversity, we sometimes say, it's all about perspective. This has always held a tinge of bullshit for me since it seems to suggest that all we need to do is be unrealistically positive and ignore our problems. But lately, I've been forcing myself to see the good as well as the bad. It can be tricky, but it feels more sincere to ensure I stay neutral instead of ignoring the good.

We learn from our mistakes and problems to ensure we do our best not to repeat them, but we also reward ourselves with positive outcomes (even though they don't counterbalance the negative outcomes). Learn, grow, repeat.

Inspiration: Design Canada
Bloor Cinema is currently running a week of a very interesting documentary by Greg Durrell. Design Canada is a journey through the history of Canada as seen through the lens of design, and how design has shaped the country's identity into what it is today.

The trailer.

In the 1960s, Canada was fast approaching is centennial year and somehow did not have a flag of its own. As I have mentioned on this blog before, I have quite the soft spot for flags and their (ideally) simple designs that anyone can reproduce in an act of patriotism and inclusion. After a national contest to find a flag that was truly reflective of the Canadian experience, the final design was actually selected by a committee (how in the heck did they find success through such a broken process?) and remains a classic design that holds up today.

Designed by George Stanley.

The Canadian National Railway Company commissioned Allan Fleming for its now classic logo and brand system in 1960. Fleming was a young and highly regarded Canadian graphic designer, and took a risk in simplifying down what was a quite detailed logo into something very stark, totally radical for the time.

A sketch by Fleming with a note for a final revision.

Legendary designer Massimo Vignelli simply gushed over this logo in the documentary - he noted that lines are all one thickness which allows the logo to be timeless. This notion seems to be a key to good design, I had never thought of it that way before. He also noted that the logo is accessible to many people because of its simplicity in moving between a "railroad track" shape to a "C + N".

The final logo in situ.

The documentary's executive producer is none other than Gary Hustwit, modern classic design documentary director. I can see his style of talking head layout shining through Durrell's work, as well as the directional storytelling and the way the mini-stories weave together to create a larger message. Documentaries in and of themselves are such an interesting medium, this one certainly being no exception. Not to mention (my humblebrag alert), I personally knew four of the interviewees in the doc. Does that make me a celebrity by proxy? (No.)

The movie poster.

Vintage Canadian design has always held a special place in my heart, its amazing simplicity and ability to say so much with so little speaks to the unity and power of a nation of which I am proud to be a part.

Check out the documentary at Bloor Cinema or its equally very cool website.

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