It seems like at least once a year, I do a photoshoot. A couple of times, it’s been for magazines, but mostly it’s for photog friends who think I give good face, as it were. My friend Graham Isador, who’s a fellow in many ways (we both do the thee-ahh-tah, we both do Live Storytelling, we both freelance the snot out of VICE), has taken up the fine art of photog’ing and we met up earlier this week on the West Toronto Rail Path to werrrrk, shashay, chantez.
Last year I said that, you know, since I’m a professional writer, I’m not interested in looking “pretty.” I want to look “other-worldly and vaguely threatening.” This shoot is kind of an extension of that idea.
But then Graham said I was “ridiculously photogenic” so of course I had to A) giggle like a twee dickhead, and B) tell all of you people.
Ah yes, one of my typewriters made an appearance. ‘Natch. Those things are my babies.
I like doing these fun little activities every once in a while considering that my daily life is super unglamorous. I spend eight hours a day banging away at my laptop, whilst still wearing yesterday’s yoga pants and rocking a mad case of boob sweat. So when this opportunity came up, I was like, “an excuse to pluck my unibrow and wear deodorant!”
But before you comment to say I look like a rain cloud of doom…..
Many thanks to Graham for these wonderful shots!
Don’t forget to check out Christine Estima dot com for more from my previous photoshoots and press coverage!
A couple nights ago, I took to the stage at Raconteurs, a live storytelling/spoken word event here in Toronto. Many of you will remember when I performed at Spark London in the UK two or three times. Since then, I developed a taste for live storytelling, probably because it feeds into my need to be a ham, and talk about myself. Womp womp.
Last month, I performed at The Moth in New York City. That experience was probably the most exhilaration storytelling event of my life. There was easily 400 people in the crowd, and the massive standing-O and cheerful roar of applause after I was done was so galvanizing and fulfilling. They’re sending me the video footage of that night, and soon Raconteurs will upload the footage of my story to their YouTube. so stay tuned, munchkins. I hope to do Spark London, The Moth, and Raconteurs again. I listen to all of their podcasts, and am glad to be featured on there too!
Live storytelling feels like an obvious step in my evolution. I double-majored Theatre and Creative Writing for my undergraduate degree. Live storytelling combines them both, you get the performative aspects and the audience pay-off, but also you get to employ the nuances of language and creative non-fiction. I can pretend I’m one of those actor-writer types like Ethan Hawke (who has also performed at The Moth, fyi).
Expect to see more of me on the storytelling stage, my dudes. Dudebros. Brojangles.
Okay I’ll stop now.
Photography by 1nspireinc
By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.
And I win.
Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!
Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.
Dancing on the streets of Bonn.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.
The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)
The Berlin eyes have it.
The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows
Art imitates life imitates art.
Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.
Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)
Where’s the Space Invader?
I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”
I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How… brave…”
I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”
I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”
How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.
How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen
How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)
Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…
Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.
WordPress likes to promote some of the hottest and most interesting blogs on their server, and my lil blog The Spadina Monologues was chosen as their first pick for Street Art!! This is a big deal, because not only was I featured on WordPress’s official blog, but they also sent out a newsletter to EVERY SINGLE WORDPRESS USER featuring my photographs.
I was wondering why my stats were going a big crazy.
So hello to all of my new followers and readers today! You have excellent taste.
This blog is almost exclusively about street art and graffiti, with a tinge of event-coverage and travel-stories, so if you liked what WordPress had to say about me, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the rest of this blog.
Let us celebrate this wondrous event by adding “Wind” to “Hair.”
Fanks WordPress and fanks to you, my munchkins, for your support 🙂
Last year, JR hit up Berlin for his project “The Wrinkles of the City” where he pasted his famous oversized portraits on some iconic architectural specimens found throughout the historic city. But unlike his Inside Out Project, these were portraits of the elderly, or at least, “more seasoned” people, in an effort to show the beauty that comes with age. I wasn’t able to come to Berlin last year, but I’m here now! Considering that street art usually has a very short shelf life, it was thrilling to find many of his works still visible and in great condition one full year later!
This was on the side of Ostbahnhof, across the street from the East Side Gallery.
This was also across the street from the East Side Gallery, but no one seemed to notice it. People were so consumed with taking assinine selfies next to the Berlin Wall, they didn’t bother to look around.
This beautiful find of Salvador Dali was up on Gustav Meyer Allee. I had to hop a fence or two to get these shots.
See the hand? If you have ever taken a photograph with JR, as I have, you know that this is his hand-thingie-sign-whatchamacallit. I got it wrong when I took my picture with him in London. Anyway, when I found this huge piece, as you can see, it was covered by construction.
This is what it’s supposed to look like when all of this scaffolding isn’t obstructing it… bastards.
This piece used to take up the entire side of this building. I guess it didn’t withstand the elements very well.
This was on the side of Soho House, on a huge East Berlin boulevard that seemed oppressive and deserted. But I love how the fernsehturm (tv tower) in the background gives the wheatpaste a dimension and depth… and also GRAVITAS (i think that word is kind of silly, but it fits in this instance)…. gravitas.
This was underneath a bridge, near Friedrichstraße station. This one survived the elements pretty well! Yay, bridge-protection!
Unfortunately, the rest of the JR pieces around the city were untraceable to me… I searched for many of them but came up empty handed. Either they’re gone from the elements, or I had the wrong location information. But I’m happy these lovely pieces have survived a year!
Check out my JR category and my Inside Out Project category for more of his works that I’ve photographed around the world!
The other day, I’m wandering up Shoreditch High Street and I see this Borondo piece that appears to me made by scratching away at the paint already on the window. So I photograph the snot outta it, and I step to the side to Instagram it , and then this massive tour group shows up and gets all up in my grill. It’s clearly a street art tour group and the tour leader is telling them that it’s only a few days old and it depicts Jesus and the 12 Apostles, and Jesus’ face is the one that’s scratched out, and he’s holding his heart… and then the tour leader qualifies all this by saying he’s not sure.
I can’t believe people pay money for a street art tour! Dudes! ALL YOU NEED IS GOOGLE, GOOD WALKING SHOES AND A CAMERA! Every time I’ve been a tourist in a city, I’ve always found the best street art on my own. Why pay for something that IS FREE AND DEMOCRATIC?
Suckers abound, I s’pose.
Anyway, I’ve photographed Borondo before, and I heard FROM THE INTERNET WHICH IS FREE that he’s currently putting up a new mural in London, so I’ll endeavour to find that promptly.
So remember when I did that lil’ documentary series called First Dates? It aired last month, and the series is still on the airwaves until April. Well, once the show goes off the air, there will be Wrap Party here in London and you are invited. It will be at Café de Paris (between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square) on 12 April, and all the info you need to get on the list and into the par-tay is on the above poster. Most of the cast (including this wee Canadian lass) will be there, so join us in toasting our horrible, horrible flirting skills.
You’ll get to see more of my winning facial expressions like this:
… and this!
(in all honesty, this above facial expression is how i feel about dating in general, hahaha!)
There will be laughter…
…and if not, you’ll be at home on your laptop, wishing you join in on the par-tay.
You can get a taste of my horrible flirts in the commercial for the show, below. So come on down, London, and watch me buy things myself. See ya on the 12th.
I am a master at this. I am also shameless.
We had found online photographs of about 7 or 8 Space Invaders in Bonn, but when we arrived last week, only ONE remained, the rest having been removed or taken down. DON’T THEY KNOW WHO ‘VADER IS?!
All these photos (and GIFs) are by LET, copyright remains with him. When I found this one and only Vader, I did a little moonwalk dance down the street. I’m too much Estima for these Germans to take.
And then I flew off the bridge and into the sky.
Check out my Space Invader category for all of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
We went to Bonn, the former capital of Germany and birthplace of Beethoven. Perfect place to dance off the walls.
Don’t forget to take the time to dance today, munchkins.
Something strange happened to me last week, which propelled me this week to bleed. Literally. But it didn’t hurt. In fact, it felt pretty tingly.
Here’s what happened.
Last week I was headed to an event in my grandmothers car. Lately I have had a distaste for driving. I prefer public transit and cycling, but because I live uptown, when I’m in a hurry or running late (which is often), I grab Sitto’s car (“Sitto” is Arabic for granny) and zoom downtown. Transit would take about 1hr 15mins, and cycling would take 90 mins to 2 hours (and leaving me rather sweaty in my cocktail dress and pumps). Driving takes maybe 20 minutes, but I have had several bad experience with traffic cops and traffic court lately that makes me hate getting behind the wheel.
What I hate most about driving is looking for parking. It’s expensive and it’s hard to find. Luckily on this evening I found a spot in a parking lot on the first try, but as I approached the metre to shove in my hard-earned twoonies and loonies, I noticed something strange.
Here in Toronto, when you fill the parking metre, a computerized ticket slides out the bottom and you place it on your dash. As I exclaimed to no one but myself how expensive the price of parking was at this particular lot, I noticed that a computerized ticket was already sticking out of the bottom slot.
I retrieved it and visually scanned it. Usually people discard their expired tickets in and around the metre, so I was expecting more of the same.
This was a ticket that had been fully paid for, and just left there. It hadn’t expired. In fact, it was valid until 7AM the following morning (12 hours later at this point).
WOO HOO! FREE PARKING!
Sometimes, people who swipe their credit cards in the metre think that because it’s taking so long to authorize, the transaction didn’t go through, and abandon the metre. So I scanned the ticket to look for credit card details.
There were none. This ticket was paid for in cash.
So there were three explanations. Either the person who paid for this ticket was horribly inept and baffled by a simple parking machine with clear instructions stickered to it, or this was part of a sting operation/hidden camera show to catch people red-handed taking other people’s parking tickets … or, this was some kind of pay-it-forward act of kindness from another person in my little city.
I spent about 5 minutes looking all around and over my shoulders for an unmarked cop car or a hidden camera crew to no avail, so I ruled that out. That left either someone’s stupidity or someone’s kindness.
And because I like to believe in the inherent kindness of strangers à la Blance duBois, I chose to believe the latter.
I put the ticket on my dash and enjoyed free parking all night.
I kept thinking about this for hours and hours after the fact. Well into the next day and night. It even kept me awake.
I like the pay-it-forward ethos and practice, although I haven’t actually put it into action, as far as I can recall, since I lived in Quebec as a little girl and left money purposefully behind in a park so that some other kids might find it.
I was jonesing for another opportunity to pay it forward, but wasn’t sure how.
As you guys know, I am embarking in a few days on a huge transnational extravaganza to Asia and Europe, so all of my money is currently being funnelled into those activities. So my pay it forward would have to be something beyond the realm of consumerism.
Besides, as the late great John Lennon said, you can’t buy me love.
I struggled with what I could do for days until one night I was engaging in my usual night time ritual of watching Christopher Hitchens debates on YouTube whilst doing Sudoku (both are exercises in improving your brain power, believe you me), when Hitchens proclaimed in one of his debates that his admiration is reserved for people who do good for their fellow human beings for the sheer joy of giving, rather than those who do it in exchange for prosthelytizing about their religion or out of fear of hell and the wrath of God. He said that one of his ways of doing such good was to give blood. He said that it was something that gave so much to your peers, whilst not really taxing you at all seeing as how your body replaces the blood anyway.
So at 11 o’clock at night, I called the Canadian Blood Services, made an appointment, and a few days later went into one of their clinics and donated a pint of my blood. I also signed up to be on the donor list for bone marrow and stem cells.
Okay, maybe the paid parking was just left there by a neurotic space-cadet who had no idea how to navigate even the simplest of tasks. If that’s the case, then they are probably horrible drivers. Horrible drivers cause accidents. Car accident victims almost always need blood transfusions.
The system works.
If you’re reading this, please consider this your invitation to pay it forward in your own way to your community.
And if you do, please let me know how you get on 😉
***The first photo at the top wasn’t actually taken as I donated blood. That was taken back in 2008 when I was hospitalized for three days for acute tonsilitis and glandular fever in London, England. You can read all about that clusterfuck here!
In a few days, my Thailand-Cambodia-SituAsian and my Eurail.com campaign begin, which will see me travelling, exploring, and adventuring away from home until at least 2013. And as this year turns into the next, I realize that I have just endured the hardest 12 months of my life thus far.
Avid readers of this blog will remember this post from August 2011, just over 13 months ago, from the same week that Jack Layton died. That day I was diagnosed with a scary medical condition – dyplastic cells with the ability to become cancerous.
Since that day, I have been cut, bled, swabbed, examined, biopsied, cell-scraped, blood-tested, ultra-sounded, reduced to tears whilst on the examining table, and pumped fulla immune-boosting pills.
Last week I had another one of my regularly-scheduled examinations at the hospital, and my doctor said that after having so many negative lab results (“negative” meaning “no occurrence of abnormality or cancer”), I’m in the clear. My body has fought this thing and flushed the dyplastic cells out of my body.
She had predicted my body would do this anyway, but she had said it would take two years. My body did it in one.
I’m relieved, I’m elated, and I can stop with the dress rehearsal of my life and actually resume living it. The hospital is still going to monitor me for certainty’s sake, but I only have to go in every six months, as opposed to every other month.
It could have been so different. Almost all of my friends who have also been diagnosed with this have had to have emergency surgery to remove the cells. What’s even more worrying is how many women this affects.
I haven’t really spoken about this condition on here over the past year, mostly because I feel like people’s medical history is a private matter. But I will also say that far too many women are not going for their annual check ups because of apathy. If caught early, dysplasia is almost entirely treatable and curable.
If left untreated, it becomes a killer of women. Worldwide it kills approximately 253, 500 people a year. Remember, dysplasia has no symptoms, so just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
If I hadn’t gone for my annual check-up, I would still be in the dark. As would all of my friends who had the surgery, who would now be fighting for their lives.
Yes, this is my public service announcement post. There is nothing more important than your health, everything else can wait. Just make the appointment and go.
I’m talking about this now because my upcoming backpacking-extravaganzas are the epitome of living life, of loving life, of having new experiences, of meeting new people, of seeing the world, and the never-say-die-run-til-you-drop joie de vivre.
Armed with good health, you can do anything.
Mae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
‘Course, comedian Jamie Lee once said, “My body is like my temple . . . because sometimes my Rabbi is in it.”
L’chaim, my little munchkins!
this is how i weed out substandard suitors.
she’s not aware yet but she’s yours. she’ll be saying use me, show me the jacuzzi.
get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook.
your pastimes consisted of the strange and twisted and deranged.
fuck yeah alex turner!
enjoy the weekend, munchkins! make sure you spend it listening to your favourite band while dancing around your room in your undies with the blinds WIDE OPEN. (Hi neighbours!)
Eva: Why didn’t you kill me?
Kevin: You don’t want to kill your audience.
last week, i let you munchkins know that several publishing houses across north america were now reading my debut novel. (my fingers are still crossed, no real news yet to report, this will take quite some time).
anyhoo, some impressions have already been sent to my literary agent!
here’s what one lovely editor at a major USA publishing house had to say:
“… Her writing has an almost feral energy to it and the exuberant prose, and thematic ambition are very impressive. She also has a cutting wit which buttresses her descriptive powers….”
that is so awfully kind of them to say, and i am truly ….er…. i was going to say humbled, but really, i am truly shitting myself.
that being said, i am so excited for the future, i cannot tell you!
(now where’s my change of undies….)
i’ve noticed many people in the publishing world have started following me on twitter (and clicking on this blog). ‘Sup hombres!
welcome to my neuroses!
here’s something fun for the weekend. Chrome now has this wicked fun extension called “Dat Shit Cray.” It turns all the “like” buttons on Facebook into “Dat Shit Cray” buttons. the caveat is that it only works if your facebook language is set to english. Mine is set to French, so I had to switch it over just to test out the extension.
after installing it, i perused some of my more wackier FB friends walls, but of course, no other friend of mine deserves a “dat shit cray” than mah boy liam.
case in point:
only two people think this shit is cray?
anyway, enjoy your weekend munchkins. make sure there’s lots of THIS!
(and if you can’t do this in person, BBM will suffice for now 🙂 )
Enjoy the sunshiney weekend, hombres! Try not to wake n’ bake.