Margaret Atwood makes reading comics cool & Dan Lanois looks to the future



Daniel Lanois and Margaret Atwood at Gateway to Bohemia 2011 event

[Photos: Jeremy Buehler]

On Thursday, October 6, 2011 at the Wu loft residence in downtown Toronto, Different Is Cool held its inaugural event, Gateway To Bohemia, a 1930’s bohemian ex-pat style of salon party.  Our Co-Chairs for the evening was the incredible, huge-hearted Spitz Family [Maureen, Warren & Kelsey attended].

The food and drink was flowing and there were two eerily prescient tarot card readers to entertain the crowd.

We were blessed to have the generous spirits of literary legend Margaret Atwood and contemporary music legend Daniel Lanois as featured guests.

Along with social activist superstar Craig Kielburger, Q radio host Jian Ghomeshi, television personality Amber Mac and a gorgeous roster of the finest human beings you’ll ever find in one room.

The guests were asked to donate to the New Haven Learning Centre for children with autism – a gold standard school for children who learn in a different way. We were joined for the evening by the school’s Executive Director, Audrey Meissner and Assistant Director, Jen Hieminga.

We were honoured with the turn out of guests, the vibe in the room and the general air of love.

Margaret Atwood charmingly regaled the crowd with an off-the-cuff, witty tale woven out of the seemingly unrelated subjects of The Bohemian Embassy, wolverines, razor claws, comic books, high school dances and Temple Grandin [I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but if you’ve read her genius works, you get the idea].  Her beautiful mind took us on a winding, magical journey that none of us will soon forget.  Yep, Margaret Atwood made comic books cool – nerds rejoiced. [And we were all left wondering if she used that literary tool of foreshadowing and gave us a hint as to the subject of her next novel…]

Rock royal Daniel Lanois [super-producer of U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, The Neville Brothers, Sinead O’Connor and more; the man who scored the soundtrack for the Oscar winning film Sling Blade; filmmaker; author of the poetic memoir Soul Mining and award winning solo artist] left us all spellbound with an intimate, live performance on both his pedal steel guitar and Fender electric.  He also charmed the crowd with a tale of his own about growing up in Canada and learning to play the pedal steel – his only options for instrument instruction through the Conservatory of Music at the time being pedal steel or accordion, he chose the pedal steel.


Daniel imparted an important message when he told us that you never know who is standing outside the Seven-Eleven asking for spare change – it could be the next Mozart, Bach or Beethoven.  And while it’s important to “conserve” music, it’s just as important to look to the future and nurture all young people, whoever they may be and wherever they may be from.

This event was our first annual – Yung and I were thrilled with the success of the evening and we will strive to make it bigger and better next year…. 🙂

A very heartfelt Thank You to NFQ Ventures for sponsoring all costs for the entire evening – their remarkably generous financial contribution ensured that 100% of every donation went directly to The New Haven Centre.

Here’s a little video from the evening. Thank you to all who helped us make it a night for the ages.