I can still hear the crunch as my teeth cut through a tart garlic kosher pickle before buying a half litre of them, and as I do, the tease of smoked kielbasa turns me around and carries me to the deli counter like a Loony Toons character floating on air. I meant to buy 250 grams. I get 500.
A little further up Roncesvalles Avenue, in Toronto, I dip into a second-hand store. It used to be filled with Levi jeans and Adidas jackets, but with high-end designer labels on the racks now, I can’t even afford to buy a used pair of sunglasses. I still like to browse, though.
Outside, hunched ladies in mourning-black pass by, and so does a lesbian couple surrounded by an aura of new relationship infatuation. A red and white streetcar rattles by. Baby carriages are all the rage. There are no bike lanes, yet.
I dip into my favourite restaurant for brunch, without realizing this spot is already gentrified, and so am I, but I love eggs Benny and order mine Goldilocks-style, with a side of extra Hollandaise sauce. Lots of sauce: I like to drown my food.
I can’t drown the music, though, and don’t want to. It’s a bit loud, which makes everyone talk louder, but I like this song and start bobbing my head as I eat. The music in this place is as great as the food.
On the street, I run into a couple of artists I know. They used to live in one of the many dilapidated warehouses below King Street. They’re in a condo now. They’re happy that they don’t have to dodge needles and used condoms to get through their front door. They don’t like the Starbucks being built across the street.
After the pleasantries, I turn into the record store. It’s actually a CD store. Records are passé, or will be for another decade until the hipsters take over. A young guy pawns his collection to the owner. I begin shuffling through the plastic cases looking for something that stands out.
I feel drawn to bands I’ve never heard just because of the way their names beckon from the album covers. It’s how I found Jane’s Addiction, for example.
This was a long time ago, and over the years I’ve discovered a lot of bands this way.
This time, though, Lesbian Speed Dating found me instead, by submitting “No Other Thing to Do for Be Famous” and introducing me to their brand of 1960s’ experimental and psychedelic rock.
Led by Montreal-based Thomas Simon Saddier (on vocals, guitar, sitar and keyboards) and with French bassist Sébastien Thorel and vocalist Lita Kira, Lesbian Speed Dating was born under the sign of the COVID-19 lockdown—and “No Other Thing to Do for Be Famous” wears it proudly, combining a sense of nostalgia with lyrics that betray more complicated times.
If you enjoy the sounds of L’Epee and Brian Jonestown Massacre, I have a feeling you will appreciate this terrific new band and their music.
You can learn more about Lesbian Speed Dating here:
About the Curator - Jane Asylum
When my mother wasn’t walking around the house belting out early 60s’ girl-band lyrics, she was collecting compilation albums, specifically from K-Tel. She may not have had the most refined taste, but she enjoyed variety, or at least that’s what I recall. I poured over them all, preferring some sounds to others. And when I found the perfect song, I’d play it over and over until ready to perform my latest theatrical dance incarnation.
With my family all gathered on floral grey sofas in our basement apartment, I’d set the vinyl on the turntable of a brown fibreboard stereo and not-so-carefully lower the needle. It would pop, screech, and crackle before any music spilled from the weaved-wheat speakers. My toes would press, lift, and sweep through the blue-green shag carpet, my arms would flail, and the music would bass and treble through my soul.
I’m no longer that 6-year-old doing private-audience interpretive dance routines, but my passion remains just as intense. I have no special superpowers as a curator — just my love of sounds and lyrics that transport, transform, move, and make your body groove.