Tag: single

Sexy Queen

The Valentine’s Day sillies are upon us once more. As a singleton who’s never really experienced the “romantic” connotations of the Hallmark Holiday, I take the whole thing in stride and tend to draw associations instead with the sticky-sweet days of childhood. Heart-shaped cookies and finger-staining candies, along with cut-outs and tacky cards -that’s Valentine’s Day to me.

There’s a tremendous pressure on female singletons, particularly in North America, where V-Day is taken quite seriously. (That, incidentally, is culturally interesting; I don’t recall the same kind of pressure when I lived in Dublin and London, but then, back then I romanticized everything, turning every day into a kind of maudlin V-Day fest, complete with sappy poetry, long dresses, and plenty of chest-heaving for so-close-so-far Byronic, tortured-artist-lovers. Oh, youth…) Year-round Valentine pressure is everywhere in popular culture: witness the phenomenons of Bridget Jones, Sex And the City, and any number of treacly pop hits.

Lastnight’s episode of 30 Rock featured a defensive Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) trying to find someone to give her a ride post an impending dental surgery. The snag? The surgery fell on Valentine’s Day. In the great tradition of ladies who doth protest too much, the indefatigable Liz huffed and puffed about in hilarious, if equally sad, fashion, loudly proclaiming her independence. Only later, deep in the throes of whirling post-surgery hallucinations, did she acknowledge that she wanted to be loved. It got me thinking: do women need Valentine’s Day to assert their desire for love and acceptance? Following that, do men need the pressure of what V-Day represents to show these things? It all feels deeply unfair -and stupid.

The Toronto-based Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair blends like childlike whimsy with a decidedly adult ethos. As its name implies, the fair is a celebration of sex, but not in that tawdry, vulgar way as paraded around so many so-called “professional” conferences. The fair, on since 2007 and founded by members of the excellent Come As You Are, is Canada‚Äôs only craft fair dedicated to romantic, sexual, and erotic expression, and features a variety of crafts -not just rude knitwear and dildos (though they’re presented too, if you’re interested). Books, buttons, jewellery, corsets, slippers and one cleverly-named change-purse feature as well.

Along with being a fun way of celebrating sexuality, the fair also serves as a great way of connecting people -including many single women, who come in nervous and sometimes shy, and leave, laughing. There’s no pressure for coupledom, and the whimsical, fun feel of the fair imbues a kind of fun, carnival-esque atmosphere. Also, the event nicely builds community through the sharing of artistic ability, something vitally important in the Queen Street West area (which is rapidly becoming a bourgeois hipster haven, eeek). If you’re in the neighbourhood tomorrow (February 13th), pop in the Gladstone Hotel anytime between 12 and 8pm. Single or coupled, I guarantee you’ll walk out with a smile.

Casting A Spell

Amidst the rush of celebrity do-gooding for Haiti are a number of music recordings that benefit various organizations working in the earthquake-ravaged country. “We Are The World” was originally recorded in 1985 to help Africa, and now it’s being revived, with a new round of contemporary music stars (and produced with original helm-master Quincy Jones), all in an effort to help Haiti. The single will debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver next week, guaranteeing it big exposure, meaning big sales, ergo, more aid.

As expected, the effort has raised all kinds of ethical questions around the benefit and drawbacks of charity singles, and the pros and cons of the super-rich-and-famous shilling for the truly destitute and desperate. I’m not going to wade into those super-deep debating waters here, but I will say, I was excited when I came across the above report detailing former Pogue Shane MacGowan‘s assembling of some great musical luminaries to re-record the outrageously sexy Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song “I Put A Spell On You” to help Haiti. Mick Jones, Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde, and Glen Matlock were all involved in the recording. What I like is that the entire process appears to be so organic and homespun; no one’s wearing makeup or flaunting designer gear (though, as befits the rock and roll crew, there is drink). No one’s flapping on about their sincerity, and the song isn’t nauseatingly saccharine, either -it’s not a specially-composed tune for the occasion, but an old chestnut that is a long, true favourite among music lovers of all stripes. All proceeds from the single are benefiting Concern Worldwide, a Dublin-based charity that has a long history of working in Haiti.

Update: This rocks. Take a listen.

Somehow, I suspect, were Ms. Simone alive, she’d want to be in the same room as Cave, MacGowan, et al. Really, could you blame her?

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