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The Blogerati Files: and now there is this distance


This week in the Blogerati Files, and now there is this distance .

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
Music news and ramblings from a twentysomething rock journalist.

Why did you start blogging? What's your blog's birthday?
I've been keeping "and now there is this distance" (it's a line from an Interpol song) since December 2004, but I'd had a number of different online diaries since 2000. The problem was that I always ended up vacillating between craving an audience and being completely fucking paranoid about people reading my thoughts. Eventually, I just said to hell with it -- in order to be a decent journo, I needed to practice writing for an audience, so I started this distance to be a mix of my own ADHD-esque thoughts with pop culture and music newslinks. I've never widely advertised my blog though, since I like to keep things on the downlow in order to not feel worried whenever I allude to my personal life. I'm one of those bipolar cases of an attention whore who also needs privacy.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
I'm originally from Kingston, home of five jails and Queen's University, but I moved here to attend U of T about five years ago. After my first year, I moved back home for maybe all of two months before I started clawing up the walls and made my escape back to Toronto ASAP. I haven't left since.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto?, Did you blog about it?
Offhand - and as one of the only funny/strange real-life events I can recall blogging about - the best thing I can name here is the time a buddy and I ran into Adrien Brody at our second home, the Bovine Sex Club. After getting a birthday hug from the Oscar-winning actor, my friend drunkenly propositioned him for drugs. He was very kindly apologetic, and we left him alone.

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
I've lived in the Leslieville area twice now - once in 2003 before heading downtown, then I moved back east last year - and it's weird to see how many changes have happened in just three years. I don't know if it's necessary to raise the gentrification alarm just yet; rather, a lot of the changes and the industries that moved in have really improved the area. Some - okay, many - parts of it are still super ghetto, but on a whole, it's looking much nicer on this side of the Don.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
It's not exactly ancient history, but I'd like to go back to the day of the blackout, and be living downtown at the time so I could party it up in Kensington or something. As it was, I ended up stranded out on this side of town, but it was still incredible to see the stars here for once. I'm an old farmgirl; I miss seeing the night sky.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Ed the Sock.

Do you have a favourite free WiFi spot?
I'm still living in the stone age with my desktop, which is probably a good thing, since if I had a laptop I'd never be offline! (I blame MySpace.)

Do you have a favourite post from your blog? Do you know your blog's most visited post?
I mentioned before that I try not to talk about deep personal stuff in this distance - I've got a pen-and-paper diary for that sort of catharsis - but there'll be an entry every now and again that'll vaguely allude to whatever's going on in my real life, and those are usually my favourite examples of my writing. Fun times. As for the most visited post, my stats are all screwed up due to mass amounts of image Googling, but last summer I posted an interview I did with one of my favourite bands, Shiny Toy Guns. It ended up getting plenty of hits from their massive online fanbase, and I noticed that their label reps at Universal had their eye on it for a while too. Wild.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
Probably 15 and then some, but I keep going back for more.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? If so, how did it go?
This hasn't really happened much because my blog isn't that widely known, but a few people who were already familiar with my journalism work said the same thing that they did about my music articles -- that my writing inspires them to check out bands they hadn't heard of before, or else give another chance to a band they didn't care for. It still stuns me that my writing could be considered influential in any way, but if I can get people to listen to good music, then I must be doing my job right! Rock on.

Who are your favourite blogger(s)?
First and foremost, my fellow femmes fatales, Christine and our lovingly-abbreviated OCTO. Although we've all been contributors to Chart Magazine, it was still kind of a fluke that our paths crossed, and I'm thankful that they did! Also, Aaron Wherry continually writes some of the most entertaining music-related blog posts I've ever read. And Mat Devine, frontman of beloved Chicago band Kill Hannah, sporadically keeps a blog at Fuse.tv that's had me in stitches many times. Never mind rock star, the guy ought to be a satire writer.

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
It may sound really broad - and really obvious - but the music scene here in general. Aside from the fact that pretty much all the non-Canadian names make a Toronto stop on their international tours (which is fantastic for moi-meme, being a fanatical lover of Britrock bands), the Toronto scene's been producing heavier and more innovative hitters over the last couple of years, which is fantastic to see. And though a lot gets made of the avant-garde, artsy indie rock collectives, I think there ought to be equal focus on the punk, rock and metal scenes as well. Right now, I'm really digging on big, loud, dirty rock n' roll bands like Die Mannequin, Bukkake Katholik and Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah. Search `em out on MySpace and scare your hipster friends.

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
Cherries Jubilee: Sweet, colourful and soaked in alcohol. And then you set it on fire.

Speaking of food, do you have a favourite Toronto lunch spot?
I'm an absolute freak for Japanese food, and thank all the gods above that Toronto's got enough sushi restos to give Tokyo a maki headache. I love Sushi On Bloor so much that I'll still make the trek back downtown for their salmon skin rolls! Otherwise, I'm addicted to Sushi Marche (Queen East & Caroline) -- ridiculously fresh and outrageously cheap sushi made right in front of you by the uber-friendly Chef Lee. They garnish with gooseberries and edible orchids!

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Punctuation is your friend. So is spellcheck, as well as this intriguing book called the "thesaurus". Please, use them.

Have any advice for would be bloggers? What do you think is the best route to raise a blog's profile?
Know what your blog's going to be about as you're going into it, and be consistent with your postings. Make it at least somewhat witty and entertaining, because hearing a rehash of how your day went isn't going to get you return visitors. Develop your own voice. Be opinionated, but don't be a complete asshole -- not much of one, anyway.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just one sentimental moment: I wouldn't be any sort of writer at all if it weren't for the influence and inspiration of my author/journalist father, Ron Hotchkiss. His first book, The Matchless Six: The Story of Canada's First Women's Olympic Team, came out last year through McClelland & Stewart. Right now he's working on his next book, Diamond Gods in Dusty Flannel: The Vancouver Asahi Baseball Story. If you're big on Canadian sports history, my dad's the guy to go to, so check his stuff out. I owe him big time, even if he's always the first one to shake his head and tiredly remind me to "not go running off with any rock bands this weekend, okay?"


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