~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Umoja and Monday Morning ~ Monday, March 13, 2006

A late start today, following a busy weekend (probably part of the reason for the late start; I was exhausted this morning!).

Saturday morning, I walked to Second Cup (about half an hour or so? Maybe a bit longer) and Tom met me there (post morning ablutions). We had breakfast at Mel's (translation: a puddle of grease, disguised as eggs, toast, ham and French Toast). But what tasty grease indeed! Then, we spent a small fortune at HMV (all impulse purchases). I held out on several of the things I wanted in the hopes of getting access at the libraries. But alas, while KPL had some of the titles I wanted (none of them in), it did not have all of them. WPL had but one (also signed out). So, I was doomed for disappointment, though I did find a couple of interesting classical-type cds--one of old Russian choral music, and one that seemed kind of a fusion/contemplation thing done by a contemporary guy named Thomas Moore and the VSO.

We came home and I chatted with Glenn, then cleaned a bit, while Tom did a workout. Then, we went for dinner (takeout Swiss Chalet) at Mike and Becky's. The twins have grown amazingly--they were totally unrecognizable. It's just so remarkable to see. It hasn't even been *that* long since we saw them, but of course, by their compass (being only 5 months or so old now), they're about twice the age they were, so it's hardly surprising they've grown so remarkably. They're looking adorable and alert--at one point, Sydney was put in her little bouncy chair and she entertained herself looking around. It was so cute to see her tiny self entertaining herself and being so self-contained in a big world.

Sunday, it was up to the UU thing--I had hoped to walk, but alas, was too exhausted to go forth on foot. So, we drove in together. And then, we came home for a quick change, stopped at Costco for a quick bite (Tom was craving hot dogs) and then headed out to TO. We made good time and ended up wandering about Indigo at the Eaton's Centre (conveniently situated across the street from the theatre). I bought a book on walking that came with a pedometer (whose accuracy I question)--the book has some nice suggestions though, for making a walking plan, so that should be cool.

Thence to Umoja, which was fun. I definitely didn't know how I felt about it when it came on. It really felt like a showcase of exoticism, pre-masticated and reduced into easily digestible bits for a Western audience. But then I started thinking--is something like the "Lion King" not far worse, with its stage direction by Julie Taymor and its "africanesque" music by Elton John et al? At least this seems to have many African folk involved with the production, creation and staging etc. of the show--and the performers are also from Africa. And it at least touches on the hardship of Apartheid etc. (though very carefully--to make sure it's not too much of a downer for the audience or anything. The pain and hardship is mentioned but not shown or enacted).

So, I finally concluded that I was glad that it existed and was drawing such a wide audience. The other strange facets: I felt so much less ambivalent about Csardas, the Hungarian equivalent of Umoja, and I must wonder whether it's because it's a European thing. It feels less exploitative (but really, it's no more or no less exploitative, I think--that's just my bias coming to the fore). I mean, in many ways, it's the same--organized and created etc. by people of the background that is being depicted (or so I understand--I may be wrong) etc. So, both are depicting a certain exoticism or historical showcase, but neither are appropriations, in the way that "The Lion King" seems to have been. And the whole Paul Simon/Graceland issue is a different one altogether. My sense of that is that it was a symbiotic appropriation: Paul got a new sound and a breakthrough smash hit, while a number of amazing African musicians and artists also brokethrough borders and were heard by a Western audience to a degree that they hadn't previously been.

I even wonder whether it was Graceland, and the public's resultant hunger for those kinds of rhythms, harmonies and sounds that led to the popularity of Umoja with a mainstream audience (with stuff like the Power of One and Ladysmith Black Mombaza (sp?)'s NA tours etc. as the bridge). I mean, that music is so familiar and well known (in a way that the Csardas style of music and sound are not--and therefore feel more exotic to the ears)--as well as the patterns and clothing--that it borders on cliche at times.

I also liked that the production acknowledged the cross-pollination of the music--the American influences that came back and in turn changed the sound of what was being created in Africa.

So, lots to say about Umoja (and even more to think about).

After the show, we walked over to Hernando's Hideaway (despite the name, it serves Mexican food). Delicious! Thence to Tom's mum's place for a visit--and then home by about 10:40 or so pm.

A busy weekend indeed! And now, to work! I have multiple errands to do today, so I don't know that I'll get too much writing done--and I'm also a little stuck where I am, so that will undoubtedly prove an impediment as well! Hasta manana!

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 10:24 AM::::


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