Thursday, 2 February 2012

To Bieber or Not To Bieber

In returning to Stratford, it was all I expected and much more.  Although I haven’t skated on the river yet, or visited the Theatre, I am content sauntering the often snowy streets, peeking in an assortment of shops and restaurants all with their own unique character that I had recalled from childhood and the atmosphere of a friendly artistic, musical town, swans and all.

Yet, there is a change here, which I encounter, almost everyday.  A change I certainly did not expect.  In fact I expected more high rises, or (heaven forbid) a Wal-Mart!  Thankfully there isn’t either of these.  The change however, does borderline on commercialism and the Arts.  It's yes, yes, Justin Bieber.  This is something we never took into consideration, when moving here, for believe it or not, I had never even heard of Justin Bieber!

Star Plaque in front of Avon Theatre, next to Sir Alec Guiness

During a discussion with a colleague of mine in Victoria, B.C., I told her we were thinking of moving to Stratford.  Her eleven year old daughter, Virginia who looked completely bored out of her mind, suddenly piped up, her eyes all aglow,  “Oh!  You might see Justin Bieber!!”  Suddenly, I was interesting.
“Justin Bieber!  Stratford, that’s where he’s from!”
“Never heard of him.”
She turned white, gawking at me, like I was Dead, or completely off my rocker.
Then my friend said, “How old is your daughter?”
“Twenty-two.”  I replied, giving me a valid excuse for my ignorance, she said, “Oh, well, that’s why she hasn’t heard of him, Virginia.”  Virginia, however remained unconvinced.  I was clearly a dinosaur specimen.
When I went home that evening I asked my daughter, Alana if she’d heard of this Justin Beaver guy.
“Mother, its Bieber!  Justin Bieber, he’s a pop star.  Young tweens love him.  So does Lia, in fact.”
“Lia?”  I couldn’t believe it.  Lia was one of my daughter’s most sophisticated friends, a Political Science Major and a no-nonsense kind of gal, very attractive with high standards, not the sort you’d think interested in a boy star.
“In fact, she’s going to see him perform in Vancouver next month.”
I was dumb struck.  “So what does he do exactly?”
“Oh my God, Mum, he’s a singer?”

Signed by Justin in Long & McQuade in Stratford
My sister and I decided to visit the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. There was a line up at the door that continued down Bloor Street and snaked onto St. George for miles!  What was happening?  How could a Shoe Museum be so popular?  The clue was in the queue, entirely made up of tumultuous tween girls ranging in age from nine to fourteen.  We asked a girl what was happening? 
“It’s Justin Bieber!”  Her delirious excitement was frightening.  “He’s just donated his shoes!”  The surrounding girls shrieked in a contagious wave that swelled infecting each cliquey fan.  Her mother rolled her eyes.  I remembered feeling mildly hysterical about David Cassidy, but I’m sure I never wanted to go and see his shoes.  We decided to leave the museum to another day.

The first week we moved to Stratford, I began to notice Bieber Paraphernalia in every shop.  T-shirts, socks, gloves, scarfs, notebooks, pens, etc.  Even in Shopper’s Drug Mart there was a life size cardboard cut out in the perfume section, apparently he has his own cologne.  Do sixteen year old boys wear cologne? Or is this for the Girls?  I’m confused.  Two girls were poised, stroking his torso, while their excited mother took photos.
I was pleased to discover the Theatre had a plaque for Maggie Smith, William Hutt, Christopher Plummer, even Obie Wan Kanobi, (Sir Alec Guiness) all who I had seen perform, all incredibly gifted actors. And alongside of course there is now a plaque for Justin. 
When I was just seventeen, I was privileged to be a part of the audience during a memorable performance given by Maggie Smith as Rosalind in As you Like It.  She was breathtakingly beautiful and also hilarious in the part. I had been a fan of hers since I was a child and saw the film, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  The huge thrill, at that time, was discovering that Maggie Smith was living in a house just down the road from my Auntie Joyce.  I remember we were on a walk and Maggie was trimming her roses in the garden and she spoke to us, I was speechless, while they chatted. It’s amazing that Maggie has continued on to become well known to the younger generation, of course because of her portrayal of Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter.  So my kids think it’s pretty cool that she lived in Stratford as well.

The House Maggie Smith occupied in the late 70's
This Christmas, my daughter visited from Victoria to see our house for the first time.  While we were shopping, there were several T-shirts in one of the windows,  “To Bieber or Not To Bieber”, which she immediately photographed on her phone and sent to her friend, Lia back in Victoria.
(I’m still flummoxed that you can take a photo on your phone and then immediately send to someone, thousands of miles away)
Anyway, Lia promptly replied, “To Bieber Of Course!”

T-Shirts sold at Treasures on Ontario St.
I've received emails from Virginia and some of her friends in Victoria asking if I've seen HIM!  Sorry girls, no sightings yet.  But I've promised them a tour if they come to visit.  (I AM Insane) as I discovered the Stratford's Tourist office  hav a map called Bieber-Iffic to all Justin's former hangouts.

No comments:

Post a Comment