Author Archives: Frankenräver

About Frankenräver

Frankenräver is an ol skool Ecstatican from Toronto's glory daze of peace, love & Ecstasy. Her e-book on the 90's rave scene, titled "Tuned In, Mashed Out: Confessions of a Rave Junkie" is currently in the process of being published in paperback. Stay tuned!

Roni Size / Reprazent New Forms Turns 20

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20 years ago on this day, June 23rd 1997, seminal album New Forms was released by U.K. drum and bass producer Roni Size and Reprazent, a collective of artistes including Onallee, DJ Krust, Suv, Die and Dynamite MC. The successful mashup of spaced out jazz with hip-hop infused drum and bass earned Size/Reprazent the Mercury Prize in 1997 and heavy hitter status during the 90’s rave era.

I happened upon this album sometime in 1998. “Brown Paper Bag” happened to be playing on a T.V. where I worked and I was hooked. To top it off, the video was shot in Toronto! An extended intro featuring a double bass doing a seductive number with a flirty guitar, like a conversation leading back to bass place…that conversation par excellence helped that song become a bonafide hit. At first I got the single C.D. but later acquired the double disc. And that, in and of itself, was a revelation.

From the head-bopping infectious rhyming of Dynamite MC on “Railing” to the digital staccato burst of “Morse Code”  this mind-blowing album took me on a joyride through superlatively rich soundscapes. “Share The Fall” featuring Onallee’s éclair whipped vocals became a classic DnB anthem. American MC Bahamadia’s hypnotic heist on “Feeling So High” left heads speechless. Clearly, this maverick collaboration was a critical and commercial success. Roni Size graced the cover of several music magazines, somewhat overshadowing the Reprazent crew. Heck, I even saw Size spin at a rave in Toronto (he’d shorn the locks, I was disappointed! His set satisfied me though :).

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Roni Size / Reprazent

It’s fair to say that if you have not heard Disc 2 of New Forms, you are truly missing out. If you listen carefully, it becomes evident that water plays a predominant part in the production. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that Roni Size is Scorpio, a water sign. Moody and playfully mellow, “Down” is anything but. I felt like a leaf, meandering down a burbling brook on an overcast day as the water swirled around me. Skillful breakbeats layered with jazzy instrumentals, strategic looping and clever phasing give this double album an atmospheric feel that is unparalleled. It is full of textures, ranging from mysteriously edgy to effervescent. I love playing it on a rainy day as it amplifies that warm cozy feeling that makes me glad to be indoors with a hot cuppa tea, getting a proper rinsing!

20 years later, I still listen to New Forms. It sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Sure, I have bigger concerns than getting a fresh pair of cargos for the next rave but you know what? It just makes me all the more thankful that I had this amazing experience. Oh, and “Hot Stuff” is going off in the background, which brings to mind supers and laying down in bed, admiring my silver tone bubble chair and my Liquid Adrenaline poster which I will never forgive my mother for accidentally throwing out.

I could go on and on about the cool sound effects on each track like the windchimes on “Ballet Dance” but I suggest you discover this brilliant gem of an album yourself. Or revisit it from a mature perspective. There is much to love and appreciate about New Forms as we evolve over time.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

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Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

All Gender Bathrooms At Raves

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Gender neutral bathrooms are a hot topic. In recent times they have been popping up in public and private facilities and their popularity is increasing. Laws were recently passed in America allowing school children and people to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender as opposed to their sex. These tentative steps toward gender parity are now in danger of being overturned by a regressive administration intent on fostering division and discord instead of peace and unity.

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s refreshing to know that in the 90’s rave era, washrooms (women’s in particular) became gender neutral during peak periods. For argument’s sake, let’s call this spontaneous occurrence AGBAR – this blogpost title in acronym form. When there are thousands of people rushing all at once and they need to pee (sometimes ALL at once), it truly doesn’t matter which friggin bathroom you decide to use. It was not unusual to see guys and trannies traipsing into the girl’s washroom and vice versa. Men actually preferred ours because they said it was cleaner. “Girls are so lucky! You don’t know what we have to put up with!”, a male raver once CONfessed as he washed his hands next to yours truly. Let me emphasize that at no time did I ever feel unsafe when men and transgendered folks needed to use the ladies’ washroom at a rave. Security was well aware of the situation but I never saw them intervene. AGBAR was in full effect, and although there may have been unpleasant incidents, neither myself nor anyone I knew ever heard of or witnessed them. Ecstasy is reputed to have a neutralizing effect on baser instincts that lead to violence. With everyone feeling all loved up and rushy-rushy, I’m sure the number 1 concern for ravers of all genders using the toilet was to make sure their pants or skirt was really down so as not to piss or crap all over it. Lord knows I’ve had a couple of close calls – can you say ECSTAPEE OH YEAHHHH!!!!

World renowned dance club Fabric London had gender neutral toilets that were conspicuously monitored by security personnel. Hilarious conversations would transpire around the circular sink fountain as guys and girls washed their hands together in peace, all gung ho for AGBAR and the great spirit of togetherness fostered by that overwhelming need to relieve that plagues all genders, all sexes, all nations! And we behaved like civilized beings.

For a dance culture movement that has been much maligned by politicians and mainstream media, it’s funny that ravers helped pioneer a successful social experiment in gender inclusivity, well ahead of the curve. Outside of that peace loving party atmosphere, the reality of rape culture society sets in, making the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph unthinkable in everyday circumstance. Despite the fact that ravers in the 90’s were often perceived as dirty, drug addled degenerates, I was never sexually assaulted at a rave. Not even when I wandered for hours in a sea of Ecstaticans after being separated from my friends. People were so kind, respectful, and they looked out for you. Hopefully one day, stone cold sober society will catch up to where we were. And remember to wash up on the way out.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Love My Luscious Overalls!

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Lusciously altered and ready to go

When it comes to 90’s rave fashion, Luscious was a brand spoken of with reverence by many, even to this day. As dance culture flourished, small homegrown industries sprung up to cater to the specialized needs of flamboyantly fabulous ravers. Local fashion labels such as Snug and Modrobes (who remembers that fantastic store the latter had on Queen Street West?!) were known for their uber cool, totally out there gear designed from lightweight, durable fabrics. Luscious in particular earned a special place in many ravers’ hearts for their ultra-comfy, functional overalls specifically designed with the raver in mind.

Imagine my delight when I recently stumbled upon this vintage treasure in Kensington Market. I was especially happy to have it at a mere fraction of what I would have paid for it back in the day! These black Luscious overalls with white stitch detail are made from a 98% cotton and 2% lycra blend. The cotton imparts breathability, especially when you’re dancing for hours in a hot, sweaty room, while the lycra provides just the right amount of stretch. A huge bonus when you’re bending and squatting all night long. I would even go so far to say that this is the next best thing to wear besides naked at a rave! Side zipper closure makes these overalls easy to get in and out of and they fit nice and snug without being tight. Cleverly slanted hidden pockets, 1 on the lower leg and another on the upper back are pretty groovy. So nice to have extra places to hide and possibly forget your gum. Or papers. Not to mention, stash your glowsticks!

Such considerate extras are features that are sadly missing from today’s overalls. In case you haven’t noticed, overalls have made a huge comeback in the fashion world. This came as no surprise to me, since I’d been rocking Silver coveralls (another Canadian brand) since 2012, intuitively sensing the return of sensible wear. Often, I find women’s slim fit overalls are less about functionality and more about objectifying the female form to the point of vulgarity. Which makes Luscious all the more loveable and dear.

Alas! The pair I picked up needed to be shortened. Folding the cuffs didn’t work either because of the wide flared leg, plus I wanted to keep the double stitched finish. So I took it to Sylvia Wilkins, a wonderful lady who supervises a sewing group in my hood. Right away, she declared that previous alterations had been done on the hem. Turns out that these overalls were made for an extremely long-legged, slim built Amazon, which meant that in their original condition, they were actually too long for the previous owner. I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel.

Sylvia began by pinning the hem to my desired length. With a sewing gauge, she carefully measured and cut 2 inches off. This expert seamstress confessed she likes to start seams on the inside of pants and hates sewing in black. All the more reason to appreciate her assistance!

Next, Sylvia added the first row of stitches. They were a bit loose, so she adjusted the tension on the sewing machine, which helped tremendously. So the next row came out just right, which meant I had to remove the loose job with a seam ripper. At least she was nice enough to start it for me. Fun!

As she hemmed the garment, Sylvia used a cool tool called an awl to tame the fabric as it objected to being altered. As do many humans too. She explained the flared bottom has more material which made it bouncy. Sylvia got that rebelliousness under control right quick.

Lickety split, I got the perfect fit! Thanks to my kind and generous mentor Sylvia Wilkins, who taught me sewing basics for a year.

“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?” I asked, hoping to glean some nuggets of wisdom from this seasoned veteran.

“I have no idea…” she replied.Not the response I was looking for but it felt good to know that in future decades, I can look forward to being every bit as clueless about life as I am now.

“Attitude, love, patience,” was her final answer. I can honestly say those attributes served me well on the dance floor and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Frankenräver at 5

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Number five by binameusl

5 years of Frankenräver! Sure, I haven’t written much at all lately. Life gets in the way – what can I say? While the world reels in the aftermath of a Muppet Show U.S. election, this blog is about to get a wake-up call of sorts.

When I first begat Frankenräver, I had much more time on my hands to play with my pet project. Then I got caught up in the Matrix, duking it out with various Mr. Smiths who kept morphing into the most annoying people and situations. Fortunately, the light is at the end of the proverbial tunnel! I thank God for my life and all the wonderful people and energies that have accompanied me on my zany journey.

A major celebration is ahead. At 5, I am reborn, refreshed and rearing to grow!

Stay tuned,

Frankenräver

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Prince: The Dove Has Flown

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Prince has passed away. The aftershock of this seismic occurrence will be felt for some time to come within the music industry and amongst his legions of fans, not to mention his close associates. I, for one, am still coming to terms with the blow of his sudden demise. “Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last,” as he once famously sang in the hit classic “1999.” Just a week before he died, I had christened my new stereo by playing Purple Rain. And now he was gone. Surreal.

I am deeply saddened by his death, because he seemed so young with so much life life left to live. It has taken me almost a month to finish this article. Weeks of playing his music, basking in the warmth of his phenomenal talent, processing all his fantastic accomplishments. Now I can accept that he is gone and think about what his legacy means to me.

Let’s face it; Prince’s catalogue is mindboggling. With 39 studio albums, a plethora of bootlegs and hundreds, maybe thousands of unreleased tracks chilling in the vault, the biggest question remains what does this mean for his music? That remains to be seen. Prince was notoriously protective of his work, but his fans are having a field-day judging from the glut of videos on YouTube lately. As a matter of fact, I received a notice from his lawyers to remove footage I`d shot of his Welcome 2 Canada concert in 2011 or have my YouTube account deleted. I complied, wondering how some 2 minute low res clips could possibly pose a threat to Prince. But nonetheless, it was oddly gratifying to receive a warning letter from Team P. I simply wanted to share the experience with those who could not make it. And evidently, there were plenty of people who wanted to see His Royal Badness, seeing how my videos racked up a total of over 7,000 views for 1 glorious week.

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Prince mural on a sidewalk in Toronto, Canada.

Prince was the soundtrack to my adolescence. The first time I remember seeing him was on a Billboard countdown on T.V. He was in the top 5, inching closer to number 1 with “When Doves Cry.” I saw this strange looking dude dressed in purple and a frilly shirt with a morose expression on his face. I didn’t know what to make of him. I couldn’t tell whether he was black or white. I decided not to like him. And then I saw Purple Rain, the movie. I was blown away by this temperamental, stylishly talented musician and the mercurial drama surrounding him. The wardrobe was hip and astonishingly extravagant with lots of lace, big hair and big boobs heaving out of corsets. I liked how he fought with The Revolution, especially with the rather masculine Wendy, and the fact that he mentioned masturbating (!) in Darling Nikki. And how he humped the stage so hard that Apollonia got upset and ran out of the theatre. In a kid’s mind, this was pretty cool stuff.

Shortly thereafter I went to the local record store to buy the tape. It was run by this super cool guy who sort of resembled Prince. Carlos had a permed coif accented with blonde highlights. I had a huge crush on him. So much that I would go into the store and rummage through records, stealing glances at his big dreamy bedroom eyes and moist succulent lips. But of course, I was too young to really know much about sex, except that it was grown up stuff and judging from what went down in Purple Rain…pretty damn confusing too. There was also a pretty girl who worked with Carlos, rocking a similar Afro-punk style. I felt like they were part of some secret society that knew all about the Purple Rain life except me. The tape he sold me was a bootleg. No cover art but I didn’t care. I played the heck out of that cassette, feeling like I had discovered a soulmate, a rebel, someone who understood how I felt. As an added bonus, Carlos included part of The Time’s LP on the recording. I loved how Purple Rain would segue into “Jungle Love” straight after the violins. That tape is now lost in the annals of time. The way it shaped my brain development though, will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to 1985, Long Island, New York. I am spending the night with this rather rambunctious girl named T and her mom. T is a huge Prince fan. She has the Purple Rain album. We play the record and sing along. I admire the album art, especially the flowers strewn amidst the liner notes. T gives her mom plenty of lip, virtually non-stop sass. I am amazed at just how much American kids can get away with when it comes to talking back to their parents. I feel sorry for her mother, who can’t get T to listen or cooperate. The yelling continues. T sprints away, only to run straight into a wall, breaking her hand in the process. Which means T’s track and field meet for tomorrow has just gone up in flames. Her agonizing screams are nerve shattering. T’s mother scolds her soundly, saying that if she had listened, this would not have happened. They go off to the hospital, leaving me alone in the apartment. I get to enjoy the Purple Rain LP in solitude. Nice!

That summer, I acquired “Around The World In A Day.” This time, it is a bonafide recording with cover art. I dig the colourful swirls and funky fonts but above all, I feel the music. It takes me to different worlds that I have never encountered, but Prince and The Revolution make them come alive in my head. I am especially enamoured with “Tambourine.” The tape does not fall apart, no matter how many times I rewind and repeat that song. Little did I know that several years later, my little sister would sneak into my room, bang that tape and subsequently fall in love with it. She confessed to having a similar obsession with Tambourine, a seemingly innocuous song about a musical instrument. Or so I thought back then…

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Rock of ages. Just won`t quit!

1992: I am the 108th caller on a radio contest, thereby winning a pair of tickets to see Prince in addition to The Love Symbol tape. Hardly believing my luck, I phoned my boyfriend and broke the news. “I’m not coming to watch you take your panties off and throw it onstage,” he declared. Seriously dude? Get your mind outta the gutter! “Chances are my panties will land on someone else’s head before it ever gets anywhere near Prince,” I reasoned. Surely he could see the sense in that? Nope. So I invited my aunt instead. She was ecstatic and we went to Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the first time I saw Prince in concert. The atmosphere was raw and electric. He performed sexy MF (he swore!) and Mayte Garcia was stunning. It was one of my happiest moments ever. Needless to say, my panties stayed on. The boyfriend became pop history shortly thereafter.

Circa 1997, my co-worker introduces me to his friend Ed. He thought we would get along because we both love Prince. He’s right. Ed is a Prince fanatic. In fact, we hit it off so well that we become raving buddies. Just imagine Prince brought 2 ravers together! I think Ed was relieved that he could wild out about Alexander Nevermind and I wouldn’t think him odd. Ed had bootlegs, videos, stuff that I’d never heard of or even known about it. Obviously he had the time and energy to keep up with Prince, who could easily drown you in a river of records. I was glad that someone else could take care of the legwork while I got to enjoy the benefits. That’s what friends are for!

Over the years, Prince has brought joy into my life with his music and unique presence. I was fortunate to have seen him perform a number of times. There is no question he is the most talented musician I have ever seen. It is hardly likely that there will be many more of his calibre in our era due to a shifting soundscape. With the advent of technology, there is less appreciation and effort made to produce recordings with live instruments. The beauty of Prince was his ability to marry tech (synths, drum machines) with a solid musical foundation of funk, pop, rock and soul. He owned his sound and his style. He drew attention to injustice within the industry during his infamous battle with Warner Bros. Back then, I didn’t understand what he was so upset about but I sure as hell do now.

Thank you, Prince, for teaching me so much about myself. Your passing gave me pause for consideration. It made me take an honest look at life. I felt sad, not just because you are gone, but because I never took the time to consider your pain as a human being. You were larger than life but you weren’t exempt from suffering; just better at transcending it than most. A true inspiration and shining example for humans to be their exceptional best. I Wish U Heaven.

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

Bowie Bows Out Gracefully

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David Bowie has left the building. And what a legacy he has bequeathed the world in his wake!

I am not about to dissect his massive career trajectory or analyse this complex personality that few people ever really knew. Of course he had an impact on numerous genres of music, including electronica. But I shan’t go into that here. Instead I will share how I have experienced him over the years.

I first became aware of who David Bowie was in the 80’s when “Let’s Dance” burned up the airwaves. It was catchy and oh so very different from anything I’d ever heard. My innocent ears were hooked right from the doo wop intro. And David’s richly textured voice and haunting lyrics mesmerized the hell out of my imagination. I actually thought “Let’s Dance” was a love song. It was not until many years later I saw the video, paid attention to the lyrics and realized he was making a heavy statement about the effects of post-colonialism on Aboriginal culture.

Bowie understood how to deliver quite an effective statement using dramatic irony through music. It didn’t matter that I got it 30 something years later. The strength of the song was such that like a mysterious golden thread one finds in a forest, I was compelled to follow its trail to the source. Little did I suspect how deeply it would go or how often it would wind mysteriously.

“Let’s Dance,” the album, introduced David Bowie to my generation. His collaboration with musical alchemist, Chic’s Nile Rodgers as co-producer, cemented this subsequent chapter of continued success.

I need not say how unusual it is for a musician to have such longevity in an industry that regularly chews up talent and spits them out for breakfast. 10 years later, you might catch a former A-lister performing at half-time in the NBA. David’s career spans 50 years. That is longer than I have been alive.

Putting Out Fire, his closing song for “Cat People” (1982) was a strangely soothing finale for a rather frightening film. Veering into adolescence, I found the mix of mysticism, eroticism and violence confusing yet fascinating (hint: my parents should never have let me watch this film!). Nonetheless, I thought this composition captured the essence of what Cat People was about.

And who can ever forget David’s turn as The Goblin King in Labyrinth? I’m sure millions of girls wanted to marry Jareth, even if it meant putting up with his loathsome, smelly minions. A very clever casting decision indeed. Thank God Mick Jagger didn’t get the role! Obviously someone noticed Bowie’s penchant for playing enigmatic characters. Overall, Jareth was a rather ambiguous personality. I knew he was supposed to be bad because he was a goblin and he stole a baby. However, he was also handsome, fun and full of magic. And he could sing! How could The Goblin King be truly evil if he could sing?

I grew up and David Bowie disappeared from my  radar, only to emerge years later with his  marriage to African supermodel Iman. I admired them both, but I was especially intrigued by the interracial element of their union, which was not particularly widespread at David’s level. I thought, “Here is a man with heart and integrity. He doesn’t care what people think.”

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From then on, I occasionally caught glimpses of David when his music was sampled or when he popped up in the news. Generally speaking, I never really heard or saw much of him until the advent of The Prestige (2006), one of the most brilliant films I have ever seen. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Caine, Christopher Bale and Hugh Jackman, it is a mindbending masterpiece. Bowie’s interpretation of Nikola Tesla is absolutely stunning. His onscreen charisma is virtually unmatched by any other actor except Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. For a long time afterwards, I thought how surprising David was. As a singer/musician, he managed to accomplish a successful acting career, an extremely rare feat. I recognized then that he was a force to be reckoned with.

In 2013, I saw the critically acclaimed exhibit, David Bowie Is while working at The Art Gallery of Ontario. Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s show was running simultaneously and it was the craziest, busiest time in the gallery’s history. That experience was a game changer. It was then I discovered the fantastic, versatile, genre bending world of David Bowie. I was surprised to learn that he was making music since the 60’s. Touched that he acknowledged Little Richard as one of his influences. And Jones was his actual surname, not Bowie! His various modalities encompassed theatre, pantomime, commercials, fashion design, computer programming, visual art and more. There were costumes, props, film clips, soundbites, paintings, lyric notes, sketches, storyboards, album covers, a mugshot and a coke spoon. It was mindblowing. I saw it again until I’d had enough. David went over the edge so many times yet somehow, he managed to survive and produce such an amazing treasure trove of art.

I was delighted to discover that Bowie was responsible for a song that I used to hear on the radio during childhood without knowing who the artist was. For the first time, I saw the video for “Blue Jean.” His androgynous, stylish alter-ego captivated me. The way he moved was perfect. I even empathized with his loser nice guy persona trying to impress his gorgeous date. Behind me, the Middle Eastern inspired costume he wore was on display. Security was not around. I caressed the flashy pants and touched the pointy shoes, knowing that David’s fingers once touched them. This was as close as I would ever get to him physically and I was content with that knowledge.

The exhibit made quite an impact on me. Bowie was obviously ahead of his time, yet on point in ushering new trends into the world. Music history is filled with artists that were ahead of their time and died without gaining true recognition. David Bowie is not one of them.

It also occurred to me that now I was getting close to the source of that golden thread I found in the forest. I began to discover that  Bowie sang an astonishing number of songs that I loved over the years, but being so young, I could not make an association then. There is a magic and a mystery to how this enigma unfolded. To this day, I am convinced that I was placed at the AGO specifically so I could learn about David’s legacy. The depth of what I discovered cannot be conveyed so easily, neither is everyone ready to accept it. Not like I care. And David did not care either.

Bowie has left the world so many clues as to what he really was. Yet the majority prefer to remain blissfully unaware.

Last summer, I took my recorder into the forest. After seating myself on a grassy knoll, I played Blue Jean. The atmosphere was peaceful, pensive, perfect. I had an appreciative, yet largely invisible audience. My search for the golden ball of thread had come full circle.

I saw the Blackstar video the day it dropped. It was profound. It shook me up. I did not know he was dying, but I recognized great mysteries were being revealed. I found it remarkable that a man in his 60’s remained absolutely relevant in the music industry, nevermind a society that often invalidates senior citizens. My admiration stepped up a notch.

David Bowie left this world 3 days after he released Blackstar, his 25th album. Much has been made about the timing of these events. All I will say is that his exit was orchestrated through mastery. Part of his message was the transcendence of suffering. In suffering there is always a gift. Instead of throwing a pity party and accepting death as inevitable defeat, he chose to give the best of himself. Definitely something the rest of humanity can learn a lot from.

Not to mention, Blackstar’s got some wicked bass stabs. Nuff said!

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy 4th Frankenräver!

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Well it’s that time of year again. I am honestly surprised that I am still writing for this blog, especially since I haven’t partied much as of late. Where Frankenräver’s gonna be within a year is anybody’s guess but I’m hoping it will remain interesting. And relevant. And fun!

With the laughable (to ravers) but much lauded (to big pharma) discovery that ketamine has medical benefit for treating depression, it seems that we’ve taken one small step closer to ending prohibition on certain psychoactives. Though it might be a cold day in hell before anyone can legally buy magic mushrooms in a North American head shop, attitudes seem to be shifting. Slowly.

Now that we have a part-time pot smoker for PM, it will be interesting to see what new legislation will be enacted to give Canadians a bigger piece of the pie. Especially seeing how the cousins down south have gotten their fingers all up in the green, turning marijuana regulation into a legal billion dollar industry while Canada quibbles over licensing the miracle herb for medicinal use. Hmmm…we all know what happened to basketball, the great Canadian invention. The Americans took it over and now we have the NBA! And no, Raptors will not make it to the finals. Again. I rest my case.

Thanks to readers worldwide for checking out my blog. France, Serbia, America, Emirates, Benin – and 90 something other countries –  I am happy to know that stuff I wrote 2 years ago still gets some appreciation! With any luck, there will be more to come. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
Frankenräver

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

CODA: REUNION or “There Comes a Time in Every Raver’s Life…”

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L. to r. Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

L. to r: Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

It was great seeing my former rave champion bud Ed after an 8 year absence. And the ol skool crew: Uncle Steve, Jeff and Turtle. The reunion took place at CODA, 1 of Toronto’s few remaining nightclubs. Guy Gerber headlined alongside Jeff Button, Gera and Jonathan Rosa. Only the prospect of seeing Ed could convince me to part with $35 for the “reduced guestlist” – a feat I don’t plan to repeat. Come to think of it, 3 + 5 = 8; looks like I was destined to be overcharged! Fortunately, Fate sent Frankenräver a hefty rebate in the form of money bills scattered on the floor in random places.

I could complain about the ridiculous overuse of dry ice but when the Universe gifts you crisp, beautiful moola, why bother?

Ironcially, CODA was memorable as an interesting exercise in the evolutionary curve of a raver’s life. Back in the 90’s, most of the crew were single and living at home with a fair amount of disposable income to burn. We would party every weekend at the drop of a dime. Peeps would bring their boyfriends and girlfriends. As ravers mature, priorities shift. Decadent party life becomes a thing of the past, something to wax nostalgic over a glass of wine or a YouTube playlist. People establish careers (hopefully), get married, have kids, divorce (often), and grow disenchanted, relegating all remnants of Rave to the back of the broom closet.

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

Some manage to retain a certain spark with the knowledge that life is different but not in a bad way. Now you party with people’s spouses. Someone’s wife is expecting a baby yet she is there on the dancefloor. Pretty impressive. You notice stuff…folks have gained weight, lost some, acquired a few laugh lines here and there. It’s a mental readjustment but thankfully, one that’s not too painful to make. All that’s required is a good dose of common sense (hi-5ives are OK, impromptu massages on your married friends DEFINITELY NOT!).

Mandy, Ed's wife bought me a drink. “Ed's friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

Mandy, Ed’s wife bought me a drink. “Ed’s friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

For others, it can be tough letting go of the past. As you age, your once nubile body can no longer tolerate the abuse you dished out week after week, ingesting all manner of pharmaceuticals, intoxicants and combinations thereof outlandish and simultaneously reckless. The urge to recapture those fleeting carefree days of yore can prove to be an irresistible temptation. It comes at a price not just to one’s physical health. In the push to prolong an experience that cannot be relived, some mature ravers can put themselves in danger of a dysfunctional life, stuck in limbo between a tenuous yesterday and a precarious now. The only way to strike a healthy balance is to accept the 90’s are gone and focus on building a healthy productive life. Be kind to your body but above all, be kind to yourself! Aging is a part of the human experience; it is what you make of it, nothing more. You will need to either reduce recreational drug use, cut it out altogether or find a more body friendly alternative. That is, if you wish to avoid looking haggard and bloated by the time you hit 40. Party when you need to. Celebrate your friends and cherish every moment shared, even on Facebook. Start a blog, write a book (does any of this sound familiar?

Turtle gains perspective in a sea of dry ice

Turtle gains some perspective in a sea of dry ice

Ok, enough of the generalisms. This is where I stand. I’m meeting my friend and his wife with my single self. That means I need to forget about wearing that neon fishnet navelbreaker or risk looking like a tramp to raver wives. Skip G and stick with booze or potentially wind up twitching on a sofa like my fellow mature raver. Last but not least, marriage life ain’t so bad, judging from the happy couples at CODA. Just hook up with a like-minded, positively attuned party lover and everything should be fine.

Ed, it was a pleasure seeing you again! And meeting your adorable wife. Hang in there bud, we’re going to Ibiza! One day. By the way, did you notice that pot-bellied juicemonkey who looked like he was wondering where the fuck the party went? Down south most likely.

Still a long way from the retirement home

Still a long way from the retirement home!

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