Archive for March, 2007

Menomena – Eye Weekly (3.22.07)

March 26, 2007


Portland’s Menomena are a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in a rock band

Anagrams, elusive artwork, songs about yearning to be a machine in order “to be wanted, to be useful” – demanding straightforwardness from Menomena is like asking to borrow Dali’s telephone. But when bassist Justin Harris – on the line from somewhere in the Mt. Shasta region of northern California – follows his declaration of love for classic rock with, “Actually, the record I’ve listened to most from the last year is probably [Fishscale], that Ghostface Killah album,” I’m still a little incredulous.

“I can’t really relate to most of it,” he says, “but I like the production.” It’s a fair explanation, and one I’ll readily accept in my eagerness to understand the inspiration behind Menomena’s new record. That is, until Harris suggests, “Maybe it influenced the hardness of the subject matter. Friend and Foe is also all about cocaine.”

A sense of humour is important to the experimental pop aesthetic of this Portland trio. Their name, after all, is Menomena (pronounced “m’nah m’nah,” just like that Muppet Show song), and their 2003 debut I Am the Fun Blame Monster is an anagram for The First Menomena Album. (more…)


Fair Minimum – Eye Weekly (3.8.07-3.14.07)

March 14, 2007


For one woman, making $10 per hour would make life a lot easier. The first in a series of stories on the campaign to raise the minimum wage

NIMA DIRIE STANDS BEHIND A MAKESHIFT CONFERENCE TABLE, ADDRESSING A CROWD INSIDE THE SOMALI IMMIGRANT AID ORGANIZATION OFFICES. The panel, which includes Parkdale/High Park NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Toronto and York Region Labour Council president John Cartwright, awkwardly straddles the opening between two adjoining boardrooms. Clumped together in approximate semicircles of mismatched chairs, close to 100 residents of the Weston/Mt. Dennis community surround them, split evenly by the dividing wall. From either side of the room, the other half of the crowd is virtually invisible. But they are all transfixed on Dirie.

In a quiet voice, Dirie explains that she has taken the evening off work at Pearson International Airport to come to the rally, giving up an extra shift and some overtime pay to be here. Her nervousness subsides as she details her situation: the long hours working for $9.13 per hour, her days off spent covering extra shifts. Although her schedule is from noon to 8pm, she is usually up at 6am to take any early shifts that might become available. “Six in the morning?” a woman up front exclaims, and the room fills with sympathetic applause.

The crowd has assembled for a community meeting to rally support for DiNovo’s Bill 150, a private member’s motion to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour. Like Dirie, they have all made their way to the second floor of a strip mall on Weston Road, exhausted from work, to give up their evening for a political cause that directly affects them.

Dirie continues, eliciting further applause with her despair at spending all her time working, unable to see her family, and still barely making enough to pay the bills. “People might think $1 is not a big deal, but if you add up all those dollars it is something. A lot of people might look at $9 and $10 as the same, but it’s not really the same. That extra dollar would mean so much to me. It would look great on my paycheque.”