Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Delicate Balance?

Working in a wood-molding warehouse, everything feels like the volume’s been turned down to zero. For ten hours a day, four days a week, I once spent the majority of my summer living as if life was on mute. At the sound of every first buzzer I’d jam those earplugs into my hearing holes and I’d be off to my own silent little world. As long as you kept quiet and did what you were told, nobody bothered you.

Every day, the saws sang like cicadas on the grand reopening of mating season, and after long enough, you didn’t even hear that. The only thing you had between yourself and the white noise ambience of molding machines was your conscious stream of thought.

I often got to wonder about the Lifers; how had they worked here for ten years?

If I worked here long enough, would I run out of things to think? How long, standing around in this hot tin box on the side of a road that served no better purpose than being the industrial version of the Island of Misfit Toys, how long could I bear the silence before breaking and succumbing to this miserable, droning state?

The Lifers; had they no souls?

Across the street from my building, a great forest of luxurious greens fell to the blades of unyielding productivity.

Machines making room for hot tin boxes.

Machines making room for new machines.

For the trees, hope was as empty as the blue sky they had always reached for. But come September I’d be back to attending university lectures and seminars: learning to think again.

Now playing: Radiohead - Like Spinning Plates

Monday, December 29, 2008

Flying South Without Wings

Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
– Edgar Allan Poe, “To Science”

December 29, 2008
12:34 AM:

Canada Geese are honking in full force. This year, the Winter Solstice took place on December 21st at 7:04 AM EST. And that supposedly magic holiday Christmas, the day of sometimes miracle-bred/necessitated white precipitation, was four days ago.

I am less-than inclined to entertain theories involving geese that forgot to leave for the South with the rest. On a sadder note, I am even less inclined to take faith in superstition surrounding the time of the incident (12:34 AM).

Because this has happened, I can’t even enjoy a ride home from a night of good company, conversation, and a couple of drinks with my favourite girl without writing this in my head.

Yesterday morning the temperature rose to 16 degrees Celsius, and I live in Ontario. The only snow in front of my house is leftover residue from driveway shoveling. Across my bedroom floor, a fall jacket, various sweatshirts and a winter coat don’t know whether they belong in my closet or on my bedroom doorknobs, which – over the past few years – have become progressively lonelier.

It used to be the snow that got me down – now it’s the whole season.

I have always selected my dress attire according to the temperature and a brief glance outside. In winters-past I have maintained a default winter coat, but this season, I’m just as confused as the geese.

Now playing: Caspian Sawczak - Migration [demo]

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Separation of Phil and Snit

For those that remember the days when - long before Nuclear Donkey - YTV played "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," the memory of an unpredictable purple bubblegum TV that went by the name of Snit may still be preserved. Referencing that memory is to recall a time when PJ Fresh Phil talked with Snit between scheduled programming. But lo, another time came when Phil was joined by another YTV host, Paul McGuire.

When Paul ended his stint in the Zone, a young Daryl Jones (MTV Live) moved in.

With two mobile hosts on the set, an old Western sentiment crept its way into the Zone, and it appeared that this place wasn't big enough for three. Presumably, Daryl and PJ Phil sent Snit into space, where the television entity could reside without the strain of producers breathing down its...bubblegum. It's not easy being purple.

Nostalgic euphoria aside, let's talk about now. PJ Phil (known in the real world as Phil Guerrero) has since moved on from providing kids with entertaining bumper programming.

The once PJ now carries on shredding guitar and supplying backing vocals for the Goth/Industrial band, Razed in Black, which has enjoyed sharing a stage with notable acts like Tool, Filter, and Deathride 69 (Elegy Magazine, 1999). Among the five albums they've released are Shrieks, Laments and Anguished Cries (1996), Oh My Goth! (2001), and Damaged (2003).

Razed in Black's success is substantial, youth entertainment has changed, and it is very much unlikely that Phil and Snit should ever be reunited for five-minute increments between "Rugrats" and "ReBoot."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Deck the Halls with Whores and Zombies

These kids want brains for Christmas, dammit! And with November bringing the end of Halloween’s bliss-through-mimicry, it seems that crossing off the names on your list is all that matters.

Confused and agitated parents towing kids on phone chord-leashes, decked out rent-a-strollers shaped like cars, teenagers snapping cell phone photos of what must be some shopping mall apocalypse – it’s impossible to walk in that muck. But when you closely follow the slow, observant wake of zombies, it’s a lot like driving a sleigh with the same level (but a different kind) of significance as that overfed holiday monster, Santa Clause. When you realize you have no power over this unhinged horde you can still make some sort of accomplishment as you make your way through the decomposition. Shoppers clear a path at any sight of this unsightly group of youth and anti-shoppers dressed as zombies wading through the shock-leaden passivity of their holiday consumption.

You will see castrated security guards try to communicate with this breed of invaders. Above their desperate squeals of lost authority, you might reach some sort of transcendental understanding where the zombies become comprehendible: “you’ve taken their brains long enough. This is our day. Fuck you officer. They’ve been tossed around by commercials and those invisible authorities controlling the department store PA systems have breathed down their necks all year round – this day, their brains are ours.”

But they will have some competition on this day: the halls of this one-stop monolith are hungry too for the abundant brains being sucked into the bullet-proof transparency of every shop within.

Every year, at different shopping locations, this strange ritual takes place: an annual reminder of the pious attention shoppers pay to their calendars and commercial breaks and the efforts of the undead to take their rotten brains. Loved ones reduced to names on shopping lists, dogmatic authority is passed on to the commissioned store clerks of hipster-defining and disposable-income-outlet giants that scream in terror at these consumption antagonists, “We’ll lose business you dogs! This is our harvest season!”

Whether the shoppers will cease or understand the efforts of these zombies is uncertain. But the zombies will moan. They will moan at the apathy of wallet-depletion and lost values, moan at the practice of a tradition that submits to materialist greed and the ability to capitalize on it.

Non-consumer gift ideas: DIY gifts
-photo albums
-baked goods
-recipe booklets
-give a download list (i.e. “check out these songs”) or self-made mix tape/disc
-poems/poem booklets
-take a fan to their favourite band’s concert

* originally published in the University of Guelph organized publication, Peak Magazine.