Ottawa Magazine culture columnist Fateema Sayani offers up “bite-sized gripes” from the Juno Weekend that was
Juno Weekend 2012 was a lot different from 2003—the last time the awards were presented in the capital. I covered it then for the Ottawa XPress, where I was editor-in-chief. My team spent weeks preparing a special 80-page preview issue and wrote an extensive post-event piece. These days reporting was done a la minute thanks to Twitter. While it’s a helpful way of confirming rumours and spreading party gossip, it offers little time for narrative or extended observation. (Analysis = paralysis!). Continuing in that vein, Ottawa Magazine’s culture columnist offers up bite-sized gripes from the big weekend.
I’m Feeling A Little Charlie Angus Right Now
Don’t call me a qwitter, but I’m finding these glib little bites of information slightly exhausting. I like Twitter and I get Twitter, but, as with all of the technology I use, I have a love-hate relationship with the site. Right now, I’m leaning toward hate as the opening screen of Twitter.com is emblazoned on my eyeballs. My pre-Juno weekend tweet count: 150 in three years. During Juno weekend: 250 in three days.
Wouldn’t My Mom Be Proud
The stream of tweets got noticed for bad (comments about too many tweets) and for good (comments about the Gawker-style tone). OpenFile Ottawa called me their favourite embedded reporter of the day, after I tweeted that there were vibrators in the celebrity gift bags. For the rest of the day, my name and the word “vibrator” came up in Google alerts. I was officially “the buzz.” Great.
Selling Ottawa to Outsiders
The whole point of telecasting the Junos outside of the Toronto area is to drum up holiday business in the host city. To that end, folks in the tourism industry had brochure tables set up in the media sign-in room replete with the usual photos of tulips, the canal, and the Hill. Sometimes, they forget to include helpful details about the inter-provincial nuances of capital life. Many out-of-towners at the Friday night opening ceremony in Gatineau were annoyed that they couldn’t jump in the Ottawa taxis that were dropping off in old Hull. Sorry guys, it’s because of territory rules. Shrug.
Diamond Rings wanted vegetarian food and couldn’t decide between Oz Kafe and Zen Kitchen. Deadmau5 thinks sound systems in our clubs suck. He elected not to talk politics when he dined with Stephen Harper at 24 Sussex because he “doesn’t know anything about that shit.”
A quarter of city council hobnobbed at the Friday night Canadian Museum of Civilization launch party. MP Tony Clement took his kid to the Saturday afternoon shopping mall frenzy to see Deadmau5. (BTW, I received the most DMs calling in favours and asking me to pull strings to get Deadmau5 tickets—from people over the age of 15!). Jim Watson who was widely quoted as saying he’d like to see the Junos return to town in 2017, the city’s 150th birthday, was seen “owning it” by talking up Ottawa at the Warner Music Canada after-party at Metropolitain Brasserie. I tagged a sighting of Jian Ghomeshi at the Manx with the CBC host’s handle, to which I received a reply asking why I did not approach him to say hello. After that, I felt more stalker than Gawker and got a weird schooling in Twitter culture. That Angus has a point.
I tweeted a number of star-sightings that were made with my own eyes or sent to me via friends’ camera phones. I had to lean on CBC Bandwidth host Meg Wilcox for a few tips too as I didn’t immediately recognize all Canadian rock royalty. How to tell between Simple Plan, Hedley, and Down With Webster? Who’s JRDN anyway—and does he need a vowel? The Toronto Star’s Ben Rayner tweeted that he didn’t know who JRDN was either, so I felt vindicated and assured that my music snob cred was still intact.
These days the music industry has less money, by all account—though you wouldn’t know it by the parties. Warner Music had the hottest bash with the prettiest and drunkest people. There was an indoor BeaverTail stand too. EMI held their party at Empire Grill and had an oyster bar. Austerity be damned! Universal Music was at Side Door, but most people flooded to the big Warner bash at Metropolitain as it was billed as the place where you should end your night. The Agency Group represents the biggest stars including City and Colour, Nickelback and Feist. They hosted a party Saturday night at the Arc hotel. B-listers and remaining hoi polloi partied at the Government Conference Centre Saturday night. It was a hype-building bash for the 2013 awards, to be held in Regina and Moose Jaw, SK. Even the beancounters threw a bash. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who tallies the votes, held a nerdfest at the Brookstreet Hotel. Meanwhile, Toronto types were said to have gathered inside Now Magazine founder Michael Hollett’s hotel room at the Chateau Laurier for an impromptu jam session Saturday afternoon.
Cueing for Q
Tickets for the recorded broadcast last Thursday at the Bronson Centre sold out just hours after it was announced. There was a line all the way down Primrose just to get into the hall. Tickets to the taping of the CBC program cost $20—that’s kind of like getting taxed twice, if you think about it. The show took place on the same day the federal budget was announced. The plan is to cut 10 percent of the CBC piggybank. Do the math. Maybe there’s a solution in there somewhere? No one brought it up. In fact, in the Q&A session after the show, not one person in the audience asked a question of substance. Someone asked about Jian Ghomeshi’s sexy voice (seriously?), another proposed a Moxy Fruvous reunion tour (really?). What about the budget, damnit? Ottawa audiences—we’re just so damn nice. It was painful, and embarrassing.
The celebrity lounge at the Arc Hotel had a special drink called The Shatner with Wiser Canadian Whiskey (geddit?), red vermouth and a splash of bitters. Based on that, me and the peeps at OpenFile and Apartment 613 hatched a plan over beer to create a crowd-sourced drink list based on the party leaders. We thought Elizabeth May should have a champagne mix, ‘cause she’s bubbly and all. Thomas—“call me Tom” –Mulcair needs something with a dry finish….and that’s how far we got. I’m still serious about this one guys…. Guys?
Media Room Dynamics
For both the untelevised portion and the televised portion of the awards, accredited media people sit in a basement and watch the ceremony on TVs. We then wait to see if the talent will come backstage and answer questions with their platitudes and pose for photos. At the start of the broadcast, we get a sheet telling us who won in each category. It’s deflating to know that in a few short minutes, Lights will lose to Hedley for Pop Album of the Year and that you’ll have to sit through a whole bunch of boring categories. The dudes from Vice Magazine kept their cred intact. They were the drunkest and loudest in the room on Saturday night and entertained the rest of us during slow moments. On Sunday, music geeks traded wits with the #CdnShatnerBands hash tag. I liked Nash the Shat and Broken Social Shat the best. You could spot your media colleagues by their dorky lanyards and yellow passes with the unflattering mug. Here’s mine—despite what might seem evident from this photo, I am in no way related to Geddy Lee.