Blog No. 66
I have a fading red blob on my hand this morning. It’s a persistent stain that has survived dozens if not hundreds of hand washes (not sure if I’ve mentioned how much I wash my hands – but it’s a lot). On Tuesday night the mark was clear print. I was stamped when I paid my five bucks at the door of the FM Lounge (a local venue). For that five bucks I got to see three bands and hang out with a bunch of other artists and fans. I’d say it was a pretty good deal. Some people chose to have the stamp on their wrist. I was fine with the classic back of the hand – maybe because I’m not industry or I don’t get out much or maybe because I work in an environment that celebrates the fact that I went out and took part in local culture on my free time. I don’t know. What I do know is that I wore that ink blob proudly. It told everyone around me that I went and did something last night.
My city has a few issues (as all cities do) but one of the most prevalent is the concept that there isn’t anything to do. On facebook walls and in texts the refrain is repeated over and over. Part of the problem is that it’s a self fulfilling prophesy. If you think there is nothing to do, and you don’t attend the things that are happening, they stop happening and there is nothing to do. There are several bands (some who were big and some who still are) who won’t play Windsor because no one ever comes to the shows. I’ve been to see Big Wreck, Junior Achiever, Finger Eleven and Mystery Machine, and others, all in mostly empty venues. I’ve missed bands like Thrush Hermit and Great Big Sea because I was told there is nothing to ever do in the city and I believed it.
Music is just the start of it too. So far this year (and a little bit of last year) I’ve taken part in Winter Fest, Balloon fest (we have lots of fests), gone to see a Spitfires game, went to a restaurant I’ve never been to for Winter Bites, stopped by the art gallery (though the building is a little bit of a disappointment). I’ve spent countless (or at least a lot of) hours in coffee shops and cafes to meet up with friends (or get some writing done), I’ve been to see local music at several bars, gone to art shows (this month the Artists of Colour are set up at my work), and that’s not even including the things I’ve gone to in Detroit. Then there are all the things on my list that I haven’t had a chance to do yet. I want to go see our basketball team The Windsor Express, visit some of the many local museums, get tickets to some of the local theatre and maybe (if I can get myself in good enough shape) join in one of the runs or walks that have been happening over the last few years. If you are looking for something more planned out, within a five hour drive there is Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and dozens of other cool places that are worth a day trip (or more).
The city actually has a lot going for it and more and more people have been taking it upon themselves to get these events going and build places to hold them. Plus it is one of the cheapest places to live in the country. People call it the black hole because so many people who move away (sometimes because there is nothing to do in the city) often end up moving back. I spent my own time away. It was only for a short time and it was only a two hour drive to get back, but I found there was something else the city has going for it. It’s another thing that people who move away often say. This city has some of the nicest and most welcoming people around. Not to say there aren’t lousy jerks here. It just seems like the nice people are that much nicer.
The city does have its faults. Politics is ripe with differing views and unhappy people everywhere. Some things I agree with (like the drive to get employers in the city at any cost) and others I find ridiculous and kind of offensive (like our new and pointless aquatic center). I’m not going to get into details about my city’s local politics. But between the obvious issues with any city’s government and the waning down town, the roads in need of repair, the need for more infrastructure and the odd backward decision from the city council (I could name a few but I’ll just point out the unfinished bridge and the vacant neighborhoods in the west end), there are some reasons to gripe. But I’m only griping about one thing today (contrary to the preceding comments).
I’m talking about the lack of support for local music (and art) in my city. (I don’t know if it’s there same where you are of not). Tuesday night I took part in a little show and it was a lot of fun. I meet like minded people (maybe find some fans for Adventure worlds), and I saw a few people I haven’t seen in a while (mostly because I don’t get out much). It was something fun (and different) to do on a Tuesday night. And it wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t those people who are putting these events together and taking the risk on building venues. There have been for years, but it doesn’t last if people keep telling each other there is nothing to do.