They stand on opposite corners on Harbord Street, just east of Bathurst. At 189 Harbord stands Pizza Gigi, a Harbord Street institution for 30 years, critically acclaimed in some circles as one of the best pizza joints in town. How they must look out their large front windows at relative newcomer Mama B’s, who mock them with their sign’s slogan “Second to None,” with sheer hatred. You can almost imagine the owners of the two storefronts glaring at each other across the street, occasionally leaving the safety of their restaurants to hurl curses and balls of mozzarella at one another.
With this kind of rivalry and proximity, how could we not put them to the ultimate test: a head to head pizza showdown for the right to call themselves the best pizza in Toronto, or at least the best pizza you can get at a pizza place that’s on the corner of Harbord and Lippincott?
The rules were simple: my companion and I would each walk into one of the stores and order a small pizza with the same three toppings and bring them back to Harbord House, the Panic Manual’s main base of operations, and devour them, perhaps sharing them with whatever Panic Manual groupies happened to be in the house at the time.
Toronto – Real life stories aren’t always very interesting to tell. After all, 100% of us live it 24-7, so why would we like to review life in a movie? Because, we’re not Buddha and our powers of omnipresence only work when smoking. When Hollywood runs out of dry and forced situation, in comes real life to jazz up the “life’s-stranger-than-fiction” factor. Persepolis is the true story of an Iranian woman who was sent to Vienna to avoid the Iran-Iraq war, and other bits of her life before and after that episode. Although it does have 120% ego content, the underlying human struggle lends the film much more strength.
Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969. In 1984, in the mist of a change of political regimes, her leftist parents send her away from home to live with a family friend. Unbeknownst to them, her reception in Vienna was cold, and she was soon stuffed in a convent (or a broading house run by the nuns). Despite this, she learned to survive in, if not enjoy the Western culture (which somehow consisted of hippies/weed, nihilism, iron maiden, and deaf-rock concerts among others) that she was so deprived of in Iran. After several bouts of relationship failures, she hit a personal low and found that she seeked home more than anything. Upon returning in 1992, Marjane found that things have not really improved. Feeling powerless, she slips further into clinical depression. Exactly what cured it wasn’t clear in the film (it was a mix of God, and Karl Marx?). Eventually she began to attend the university, got married because she needed to see her boyfriend, got divorced because she found out marriage sucks, and left Iran again for Paris to seek a better life, which is deferred to telling in real life.
I don’t really give credit to coming-of-age scenerios. It’s as if comparison of past hardship is necessary in order to justify a person’s worth. Yes, we’ve all been through our respective shit-creeks and swam across Rivers of Styx while paralyzed – get on with it. I did find the telling of the background story, of her father’s friends, her uncle, her neighbors and friends, much more poignant. It paints a much clearer picture of the social condition, and that’s what we want in a film- a broad, transporting experience to a foreign regime and the nuances that comes with it. The fact, for example, that her neighbor had to die of heart disease because he was denied a passport from an incompetent administrator who used to wash windows, was in contrast with the life that Marjane led in Austria. I am also particular about the animation – this film was well-done in the graphics department. I liked the use of silhouettes and the slick inversion of backgrounds, and the style of the motions of the characters reminded me of paper/projection puppetry. Very trippy.
Overall, I’d recommend this if you have a good afternoon to relax and ponder life. And yes. The struggle must go on, sigh.
Toronto – While it might have seemed like eons ago, Lily Allen exploded on the scene a few years ago from MYSPACE, of all places. Her single ‘LDN’ attracted thousands of myspace friends who were more then willing to spread the word on her behalf, generating hype to the point of oversaturation. Luckily, Lily Allen is a fairly talented singer – compounded with her outspoken nature and devil may care attitude, Lily Allen rode the strength of that single, followed by a pretty good album, to complete super stardom. She even had her own show! Unfortunately, like Pete Doherty before her, Lily Allen has been known for everything but her music in recent times including feuds with other female British celebrities, strolling about topless everywhere, miscarriage with the dude from Chemical Brothers, and a regular in any celebrity gossip rag.
With the release of her second album ‘Its Not Me, Its You’, the focus will once again shift back to her musical career. Like her first album, ‘Its Not Me, Its You’ blends Allen’s lyrical skills over a light electropop kind of sound. As with her previous album, Allen’s lyrics standout among other pop acts in that..well, its not generic or sugar coated in any way, and like The Libertines, most of the lyrics seem autobiographical, leaving you with the whole ‘who is she singing about now’ vibe. It’s a nice added bonus to the music itself, which is as catchy as any pop tunes that have come around. As you can tell by my last.fm stats, I quite like this album:
Themes for this album include celebrity, love, lost love and of course, hate. This album seems less vengeful then the previous one, save the song ‘Fuck You’. Standout tracks include – “Not Fair”, “22″, single “Everyone’s at it” and of course, “Chinese”. I think for that alone, I would have to give it a good rating. In conclusion – it’s easy to hate on a person like Lily Allen, since she has garnered a lot more attention then some think she deserves, but at the end of the day, she has put out another solid album and cemented the fact that she’ll be around for awhile. Get use to it.
Lily Allen plays the Sound Academy on April 22, but it’s sold out.
Photo credit: Lesley Marino, L-R, Graham Wright, Dean Marino, Will Currie, Luke Lalonde, Jay Sadlowski
(Toronto) On a snowy weekend in the middle of January, five of Canada’s top musicians and audio engineers locked themselves in a recording studio for 24 hours and vowed not to come out until they had recorded 5 new songs for an upcoming EP. Luckily before they welded the door shut I managed to sneak inside with my video camera tucked under my jacket to document the event.
The group got together on Saturday night to pitch two songs to each other, where one of the songs would be chosen to be recorded the next day. The five musicians then met back at Chemical the next morning and started the collaborative song writing and recording process.
There isn’t much news to report since everything being done is leading up to a spring release of the forthcoming EP. The group has only recently settled on an official name for the project; NOVELS. Work is being done on mastering the 5 recorded tracks, and a website and documentary (this is where I come in) of the entire event are in development. Stay tuned…
NOVELS media Contact: Marshall Angus: marshall (at) thecountryfrench.com