Friday, November 6, 2009
Ice on the windows this November morning. I can see the shining horizon of far off corporate and apartment building lighting through thick concentrations of tree branches. The sky is pink and yellow with a few clouds. Soon it will turn blue and those far off notions of night will disappear, kind of like the reverse of that 6th century BCE enlightenment from flat-to-sphere earth. Daytime makes me feel smaller.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
You can find the new issue at several locations, including Sideshow Tattoos in Georgetown, The Altered Native in Georgetown, the drop-in center at St. George's church in Georgetown, the Off the Wall youth centre in Acton, Dermagraphics by Paul in Milton, or off of any POSSE outreach worker outreaching on the streets of Acton, Georgetown and Milton this Summer. I will always stress that anyone seeking to make submissions should do so, and if you wish to make contributions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover art by Tyler Klumpenhower. Layout by Tom Beedham.
Now playing: Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution - Here's To Life
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Cattails just look like feces speared on blades of long grass.
Like natives displaying the heads of unsuccessful colonizers,
maybe this is nature's way of saying
"back off shitheads!"
Now playing: CR Avery - Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Monday, June 29, 2009
Now playing: King Crimson - I Talk To The Wind
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Neglect is terrible. I feel dirty and unpolished.
Work at the wood moulding warehouse has been taxing, but the repetition is meditation. I've been having visions lately, and I promise to get painting and posting soon.
Some old but still relevant news: for those of you who are familiar with my work with The Undercroft, I just finished the new issue (Volume 4, Issue 1), "Kick Out the Jams: The Culture Jamming Issue" a couple of weeks ago and if I'm not mistaken it should be at the printer getting copied for distribution or already hitting the streets of Georgetown, Acton, and Milton as I type these very words. Some newer and more relevant news: the next issue is focusing on community. I'm excited. If you want to make contributions, send here: email@example.com.
Life updates aren't my bag, but they feel necessary right now. I'll get something real up here soon enough. So if you haven't already switched off, stay tuned.
Now playing: tool - The Patient
Monday, May 11, 2009
When the subway train squealed to a halt, eyeballs rolled upward from their fixation on the floor to the doors when they slid open and a troll-like man thundered his way in to the carriage.
He wasn’t German, but immediately upon entry he yelled “nein, ich liebe!” and shot a Hitler salute from his chest. Then he motioned with his hands as if he was shooting up the carriage with a fully loaded automatic rifle.
The worm—a creature of routine and schedule—had no objections to this new ride-along. The doors shut and we were on our way again.
He was wearing a tattered Lamb of God tee and a green army jacket not unlike the ones found in heavy abundance at army surplus boutiques. Everything about his character was rough, probably conditioned that way from sleeping on outdoor hot air vents and simple hygiene negligence. I expected he’d known a hard life. His gait was clumsy like his knee had been twisted in some unnatural fashion long ago, but the subway hand rails—things of equal grime and viral danger—helped him find a seat.
I turned to my girlfriend and basically whispered, in a cynical and repulsed “wow.” The single syllable summed up all of the rejection I harbored towards this lonely, angry creep. I figured he got a lot of that, but I had no sympathy for this breed of dung.
He caught it though, and he spat out a sloppy “shuut uup,” likely inflected that way by some hard and scary drugs.
I had irritated the beast. I felt like an unprepared anthropologist in uncharted territory who’d just offended a local. Whether governed by the city’s municipal dictums or no, for this hard man the subway was a liminal safe haven for everything and anything he wanted to throw at me. In the city you can get away with most kinds of foul nature unnoticed, why would its underground caverns of speedy transportation—filled with people tuned in and turned off listening to MP3 players and reading the Saturday news, clenching on to any distraction for dear life’s fear of boredom—be any different circumstance? In the recesses of any metropolis decorated heavily with loud looking bulletin boards and digital marquees, who would expect any less? Besides, everyone has their own things to do, and they’re not about to tailor their busy days around little peculiarities. When you drive by one of those tragic accidents, you turn your head to check out the damage, but how often do you stop? The general reaction is “not today thank you kindly. I’ll be late.” Tragic is right.
Our particular carriage was pretty empty, carrying my girlfriend and I, this freak fascist, and a couple of dreadlocked pot enthusiasts wearing leis of marijuana leaves. Before the man clambered in they were enjoying some chuckle-full conversations about brownies, conspiracies, and hacky sack. But upon his vulgar entrance they all fell silent and kept to themselves. Stoned and silent, they were like statues of absolutel neutrality—grey and eerie: appropriate décor for city transit.
My girlfriend told me, “don’t look at him” as if I could blend into the background and he was some dumb animal with a Crestaceous intellect. I figured her logic wasn’t too far off—his head was so full of blind hate it seemed like a respectable estimation. But I was denied that confirmation when he demanded my attention immediately afterward.
“You see this?” He had the right sleeve of his jacket rolled up to the elbow. His left hand was holding his right arm so that his palm faced me and I saw the inside of his wrist. Where you usually see forked veins and parallel tendons, I saw the infected result of a heavy drug hunger. A red and purple pain hole with the black center hollowed out, likely irritated by nervous scratching and digging with dirty nails. And then he turned his hand around so the back of his hand faced me, and he launched his middle finger to the sky.
He muttered in his impeccable English, “I kill you.” Suddenly he was bigger than Swine Flu or the plague, and I felt the grip of immediate danger.
I wanted to call his bluff and scream scum of the earth; call him infectious human waste and the Nazi muck I wouldn’t soil the treads of my shoes with. I wanted to scrub the grime of every dark alley and cluttered gutter of the city with his face. I blamed every pseudo-liberal politician who promised social reform and only changed taxes so that everyone got equally swindled and every conservative that kept its plan of action secret and went around kissing babies and offering tax cuts to seniors to buy votes. You never see a politician on the streets, doing groceries, or riding public transit. You never see them living with the rest of their country—not without a suited up fleet of security.
I wondered why society ever did away with public humiliation and shaming rituals. I wanted to lock this swine in the stocks and write “Nazi Filth” on his forehead with indelible ink – maybe dress up some politicians in clown costumes and chain them to security camera polls. Let the general public deal with them, I thought. “Here is your viral Swine pandemic! Let loose your rotten vegetables and tell them how you feel,” I’d tell them.
Despite my disgust and rejection, I knew I couldn’t do much as one. I resorted to the only device of protest I had left available to me. I fell into zen silence and blocked him out. With no reactions on my end, he had nothing left to throw my way. He muttered to himself in incomprehensible tongues until the worm screamed to another halt. It was our stop. My girlfriend and I got up to leave, and I was happy this dumb animal stayed put.
The train doors shut behind us and we were safe, but the scum was still out there: a grimy stain was zooming through the city’s underside. It was too big for one person to handle, but at the same time apparently too small to receive appropriate attention.
Now playing: Gallows - Crucifucks
Monday, March 9, 2009
From my city locale
And I saw
Of the daytime dwelling.
The noisy proprietors of
Thunderous voices had
Shouted "Carpe diem!"
And I saw that my sky was tainted.
That shut out the dark
And propped up their sconces
Felt the day too short
And inflicted their choices
On my midnight.
They feared the challenge
Brought on by dusk's early presence.
And they were quick to shout and condemn the nocturnal actions
As evil and mischievous.
Curious creatures too mysterious and divine
To accept, the bats and owls
Were too ugly and unpleasant to approach.
I wondered if they felt small
In comparison to such vastness –
Rejecting lustrous gifts sent from
Light years away
For fear of incompatibility with an ancient and overbearing
Tao of navigation
They faded the bright lights provided already
For billions of years
And sought a thick cover of neon comforts
Like children plugging in night lights.
This "seeking the light"
A time of opportunity
And a universe of beauty
Leads to the very action
That leaves those very day dwellers in the dark
And it is what sets them behind the prospering nocturnal.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The only Purse at stake for Garibaldi was his life, but that is common place for him and other police steeds around the world.
One would not be mistaken to see these unsung heroes galloping the streets of heavily-populated and polluted downtown Toronto, alongside dangerous traffic and unpredictable crowds, and that's within a concrete jungle of heavy noise.
Horses are not even required in this line of work; cheaper technologies are available. Conservative folk out there would be very worried to know that such animals require costly vaccinations and living accommodations that can ultimately be avoided by instituting the use of a technology that has been popular and practical for centuries now: the bicycle.
Surely it would be easier to avoid animal rights groups altogether by not placing the horses in situations where neon reflective coats and eye blinds are necessitated, but sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A familiar pastime to be included as one of my notorious procrastination routines, I sat myself in front of my laptop and sought out my bookmark for the Exclaim Magazine website, plotting to spend the next half hour lurking bands that were slated for upcoming album releases. I was hoping for something fresh that was wholesome, but that also retained what I call necessary contempt for modern maxims. Call me elitist, but without that loathing, music just feels empty and phlegmatic to me - like ignorant bliss.
Exclaim Magazine is a good place to go if you're harbouring a canker of time-killing indulgence in your cheek; its lists of new music releases seem limitless.
However, I scrolled through this list, searching about every other artist I'd never investigated on myspace with hopes of getting a taste of the sound they'd be making available on their respected release dates, and I found little I could appreciate. I found a lot of contempt, but where I did, it was like there was too much.
I felt old and jaded and all I wanted was for somebody to put a record on and leave me to some kind of eternal rocking chair where the soundtrack provided could soothe my deep wrinkles with sweet rhetoric and cunning attitude.
All that said, I did manage to stumble upon a fun little oldie.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Stuck on your stick, with nothing to do
Blessed with only one power which you must yield:
You must protect the harvest, you must keep the field.
Eying the crops within your peripheral view:
Don’t be surprised if sometimes your vision splits into two
Mr. Farmer created you in his visage.
Don’t let him down, you must pay homage.
Mr. Farmer won’t feed wild, no matter what the age;
It costs too much to feed what’s out of his cage.
With your stitched on smile and tattered old clothes,
Do your only job and scare off those vermin, scare off those crows.
The crows, they know better, they know
What you’re for;
So they spend all day destroying you more.
These tar coloured birds, pecking all day,
Piece by piece they’re removing the hay.
Oh Mr. Scarecrow, just look at you,
Stuck on your stick, with nothing to do
And still you hang, way up on your cross
You don’t mind you’re dead now, it’s all for the crops
Today you’ve done well, yes, certainly earned your pay;
So the farmer stuffs your holes with some fresh, farm-grown hay.
Next morning will come with another day:
Another day of torture, another day of decay.
You know Mr. Farmer, he made it this way:
But for every day that you die, there’s another to say,
I’ve stood here, young crops, long day after day,
All as a sacrifice for your simple way.
You can’t possibly fathom what I have to do,
Lose a bet everyday just to look after you
To let you grow tall and sway as the wind has you go,
I’m pinned up here; the burden of pain mine to know.
Then a day comes, with a new story to tell;
You look North, South and East, but every follower’s fell.
That monster, Mr. Farmer, he’s gone off to sell
Your devote little nation to downtown marketing hell.
Without your clone army, you feel empty and poor,
But can’t help notice the sprinkling of the compost floor
Seeds for the next batch, maybe one without a victim
This time you might do right, maybe this time you’ll teach them.
If they know of their demise this might make them feel sad,
But perhaps it will help them enjoy all the dead ever had.
Here’s your new culture to which you can preach,
You are the farmland closer whose only job is to teach.
Yes, every day you will die and Mr. Farmer will win,
But at least you reap the benefits for the time that you’re in.
Oh Mr. Scarecrow, I wish you could know:
The problem with the field is you reap what you sow.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Fastened to a plain that limits their perception
They’re the ones that seek to rise up off the ground
Always seeming to find perfection in every cloud
They are building higher just to see what goes on below
Trying to create a cleaner theater
Housing solitary audiences
To unsuspecting actors
Spectators becoming skeptic fools so easily
Persuaded by simplicity: calming space and ‘purity.’
Minimalist divinity is a mystic’s faith in less distraction.
Oh, to be high and ever so hollow.
These are the isolated ones–
Mute and troubled.
A raided room is a segregate tomb–
That is where they feed the wound:
A surrogate womb.
They shut the doors
And raped the locks.
Their blank walls stare.
Their tables talk.
Still up there the pictures
Tend to speak a thousand words
But there they’re always
Monochrome and monotone.
Towers tall escape commotion
Where it’s hard to see
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I can justify this sort of theft with just about any kind of logic. Some vegetarians might stretch the boundaries of their dietary habits and ethical beliefs for this kind of falsified animal liberation, but it would be too easy to reference some carrot activist’s dogma in a way it was never meant to be cited and say something like “you corporate screwballs stole the life of a living thing, and now, yes, you have one less burger. This is retribution, you sad, sad sadistic people.” That said, I do feel bad for Mary Meatstick of moo-moo land – I just realize that time’s run out for her and that she’s already in the big proverbial valley in the sky, mowing down on all the cud her four stomachs can handle.
Plants have feelings too; it’s all just a matter of life feeding on life.
Now playing: Rise Against - 1000 Good Intentions
This doesn’t mean much more than the fact that I’m going to have a build up of cards for a while because I would feel bad killing a twig’s-worth of tree to combine one or three cards with another.
Now playing: Ten Years After - I'd Love To Change The World
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Beyond the acetone wasteland
In the infinite Crayola
I hear birds sing
And reach for my viola
Flying over my head
The street corner jester
Said something, he said
Beat box the bass jazz
And boogaloo boogy
Jive to the beat
And give a mouse a cookie
Throw me a paint can
’Cause I can’t wait, man
Gonna colour your mind
Like a Yellow Submarineland
Spare me a quarter and
I’ll tell you more
I’ll be here all day
And there ain’t no door
Now playing: Beck - Nausea
Thursday, February 5, 2009
For Ian Fleming’s spy fiction, spying is a game, and the same one the spy author plays to establish success in the publishing industry and popularity on the shelves of his respective readers. James Bond supports the perpetuation of the British hegemony, a strategy practiced for the purpose of spreading his country’s ideology, the goal of the spy game. Just as 007 fights for British dominion in “Risico” by using his singular charm to deceive enemy affiliates, Fleming repeatedly uses Bond – a charming image of British influence – to bring on a surefire consumption by readers.
Cawelti and Rosenberg assess Fleming’s “villains” as “never interested in monetary gain or military victory” (42) further continuing, “they seek world domination and the power to make their own evil ideals prevail” (42). But that analysis emphasizes on antagonists and fails to recognize and distinguish 007’s organization, Mi6, as another figure that seeks world domination and the power to make their own ideals prevail, still mentioning, “The theme which shapes the hero’s mission and his confrontation with the enemy is the basic danger to a whole way of life threatened by another, malignant worldview” (42).
Just as there is elitism among game players, Fleming acknowledges the pleasure that one spy will experience when associating with spies at the same caliber of professionalism as himself. When Bond is sent to communicate with an informant, Signor Kristatos, Fleming writes: “two men sat back comfortably, each one satisfied that he had to do with a man in the same league. This was rare in ‘The Game’” (229). By including this impression of elitism, Fleming posits Bond in a realm of superior ability – lionizing his nature and making him appear more fascinating and spectacular than any spy may really be. That image of 007 representing the British power, Bond’s charisma draws readers into accepting the British influence, allowing Ian Fleming to collect more readers.
Like in a game, one player’s defense in the spy world can be manipulated into vulnerability by a seemingly trustworthy and crafty spy. This can be applied to the “villains” Bond encounters and Bond himself, and the effect is a grey area that Cawelti and Rosenberg miss when evaluating James Bond as a hero. Neither party is innocent, and both are working towards a goal of dominating the whole world in the same – to use Cawelti and Rosenberg’s terms – “malignant” way a player does in a world domination-inspired board game. Fleming also implements a “race against the clock” element to “Risico,” placing Bond in a situation where one game player can be “found out” as a spy, and thus useless as a means to perpetuating his home team’s ideology: “There was so often […] a faint smell of burning in the air at such a rendezvous […] the fringe of his cover had already started to smoulder. In due course the smouldering fabric would burst into flames [and then] the game would be up” (229). Espionage-inspired deceit coupled with a race to beat the clock, Ian Fleming’s spy story “Risico” provides a narrative of a very sensational game that becomes interesting to follow. Winning the game depends on the strength of one’s influence and the mettle of one’s cover, but the mettle cannot aid the virtue of a spy.
The spy author aims to earn respect as a successful writer, which means coercing public readership upon his/her works. Utilizing 007 as a poster boy for spying and the British power is only one of the lures used by Ian Fleming to attract readers. Fleming seeks to achieve this in a number of ways: maintaining formula, implementing sensational situations (i.e. Bond’s capture by Colombo, the chase scene that led to it, etc.) or plot twists, offering an educated mind for readers to pick at on every page of his writing, falling back on an episodic series, etc. Fleming fulfills the capitalist goal of attracting and maintaining readers’ interest by repeatedly wielding Bond as a desirable protagonist bachelor for the British power in adventure tales of espionage, making his readers want to know more about this International Man of Mystery, forcing them to come back.
Just because Bond is repeatedly used as a British spy protagonist in many of Fleming’s espionage tales, his singular character does not define the word “hero.” In games, heroes come from all sides of the board. They fight for their (singular) values, seeking to normalize their power and influence on the entire playing field. When all players lie and disguise themselves, a grey fog consumes the playing field and no figurehead is distinguishable as inherently good, and ideologies are approached in a way that is enacted by malignant singular prejudice. Fleming as an author cannot be excused for his episodic use and glorification of the suave and singular Bond simply because of his occupation: a bourgeois author’s laissez-faire attitude will never result in literary progress for the interpellated proletariat reader.
Cawelti, John G. and Rosenberg, Bruce A., “The Spy Story’s Story: A Brief History,” The Spy Story. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. 34-54.
Fleming, Ian, “Risico,” The Oxford Book of Spy Stories. Ed. Michael Cox. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 228-256.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The blank spaces on the walls make it seem so vast and fertile while the course syllabi for my classes demand a sense of limitation and confinement at the same time.
It’s night, and my reading light is on, so I have the curtain closed. It’s 2:17 AM, and apparently I’m nervous about peeping tom neighbours. I recognize this foolishness at once, and take two steps across the room, lean across my bed, and pull my curtain up for the view. My room faces the side of my next-door neighbours’ house, which to my dismay includes two windows that face my own, and less distressingly, a basketball hoop with fresh February icicles hanging from its rim. Hence my having the curtain down in the first place. But it’s late enough that that doesn’t matter. Who cares who sees anything anyway? Who would even want to watch? I can’t help but feel I’m giving myself too much credit.
I am completely, utterly distracted from the hundred pages of reading I have to do before the morning sunlight cracks the sky and when I will have to ready myself for a bus to my 8:30 class (Chinese Philosophy, with Professor Dorter).
Funny thing how any acknowledgment of distraction can lead you back to your reality in almost any instance. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.
Back to Middlemarch. Joy.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The big fish eat the little ones,
They bathe in the shallow, blood-ruby sun of Los Angeles
A lonely place for the actors and actresses: silicone starlets
Consumed by that sun.
Burning hills, the plastic lava-flow of fiery avalanches
Where unprepared thespians
Are building their homes
Too close to nature, too close to alone,
Too close to perfect,
Always too close
With too much money to burn,
They’re always burning under
That bloody red sun.
With expensive explosions to hide all the lies
The insecure idols burn all their ties
I’d like to direct a new feature film:
One where the actors and actresses learn
That expensive wardrobes and luxury cars,
Dressing room curtains and makeup residue,
Self-indulgence and high-profile lives
Make excellent kindling to burn all their lies.
I’ve found incentive to let it all burn.
A natural disaster in the fake plastic hills:
A pure cinematic and visceral experience
And all of the actors keep popping their pills
We won’t do anything, we’ll just watch it burn
They’ll spark it themselves; they’ll just have to learn –
Maybe they’ll learn but I’m not so sure:
I’m sure their insurance will give bliss through sweet settlement…
Come buy your ticket
And take this ride
Join in this tour bus of voyeur passivity
Watch the sun collide
Watch the hills burn, yeah,
We’ll watch from the side.
I don’t care if the sun burns it all,
I think its time that Hollywood falls
So stoke up an avalanche that slides into the Pacific.
Watch it burn,
Watch it burn.
Let it slide,
Watch it burn.
“Learn to swim.”
I don’t feel guilty,
I just feel prepared. Without a Blackberry,
A Lexus, or Rolex,
Without a Gucci handbag to hold things in tact
Or an agent
To do my job for me
I feel more ready than ever before
So let the rapture begin, leave bright stars
In the dark.
Now playing: tool - Ænema
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Without a grip on Entertainment TV:
My voice is a whisper among Hollywood screams.
It is all that is fabulous –
But all that glisters is not gold.
Oh Bella Donna (belladonna)
Sister of Narcissus
You danced your way in
Secreted from the root
Now your dazzling eyes
So hypnotic and enticing
(an intoxication that weds body and mind)
Imprisons and torments.
Narcosis and paralysis.
Impregnated by vicious lies
That rip and melt
You seek the fabulous;
You seek the deadly nightshade.
Your ears are not for me.
I still plant in your garden
Now playing: Attack In Black - Resist And Desire
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
That is why we take public transportation.
Thank you for your otherwise accommodating services, which I frequent on a mostly daily basis.
I will be sure to pass on the word of your considerate and hospitable chaperones to all I know.
Now playing: City & Colour - Day Old Hate
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
* * *
The blinding white security guard uniforms and bomb-detecting pearly gates are overwhelming enough tasks to insure you will forget where you’ve been.
Cue the overhead distraction screens; slideshows of nature.
Cut to fields of daffodils.
Cut to lazy butterflies gliding on gentle breezes.
Cut to macro shots of dew on carnations with background-lingering obscured horizons that still present definition between blue skies and green fields.
American Airlines makes it very clear that, now, you’ve reached clarity, peace, safety: serenity even. You’re going home, you're going to your own little nirvana – that kind of shit.
Or even better. Instead, you're just visiting. Only having a glimpse of some new kind of paradise and something to look forward to.
And then: greasy, filthy, loud Hogs.
American Airlines plays the soundtracks for its relaxation meditation escapist videos and rolls the feature presentation. Rock the damn plane with Confusion for sadist black boxes that are actually orange. Today’s feature is Wild Hogs: a low budget road movie about a bunch of mid-life crisis men played by uncomfortable comedians that are far past their prime. Give me tragedy. Give me vicarious satisfaction. Give me John Travolta, Tim Allen, and Martin Lawrence. Is John Travolta going to dance?!
Give me distraction.
I’ve reached clarity, peace, safety: serenity even.
Give me a barf bag.
And bring me a drink. But I can’t associate with Jack or Jim or James or Samuel. At this point in my life I’m only 19, and according to latitude and longitude, I’m not in the right country for that. American Airlines runs house. It’s the corporations that get extraterritorial jurisdiction up there. The notion of being able to purchase a drink once the airline announcer came across the P.A. droning “Welcome to Canada, passengers, we’ve just entered Ontario” was humouring in a facetious sort of spirit.
While trailers are aired over the P.A. system in the shuttle, thankfully, American Airlines charges two American dollars (no tax extra: the illusion of safety) to purchase special headphones with custom inputs that are necessary to listen to its feature presentations, so I was able to focus my free time on doing some writing without interruption.
I was happy to be on my way home, but even as early as the time I’d left the security course I was too worn out and exhausted. I was in a bad mood, and drinking wouldn’t help my temper or my writing one bit anyway.
* * *
“We know why you fly, we're American Airlines.” That’s the slogan you hear over the P.A. when the plane lands and you prepare yourself for another obstacle course of security devices – but what does it mean?
I had been awake and conscious in this long gauntlet of escapism for long enough and I was beyond agitated. I focused my energy on standing up and transcending the bullshit that resided in the stale, hospital-like air of the vessel. My legs felt young in a crude way, but I had to walk on and obtain my baggage so I could get on home. Leaving the vehicle of single-serving comforts behind me, I was still racked with confusion. Where was the logic behind that bizarre riddle? was this a response brought on to prevent enthusiasts akin to the terrorists of September 11, 2001? Miami airport’s security as perverted and perturbing as it had felt just hours before, this seemed like a reasonable way to understand that mysterious motto.
But I was home, and I was ready to accept real comfort with more enthusiasm than I had for pondering any further on the evils I had just left behind. No more.
Now playing: Gatsby's American Dream - Your Only Escape
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
The ground under wheels
a recycled plastic, with
paths made of flat carpet.
No more windows
Except on the screens
- just a door-like space
made because a wall
was a bit smaller than the
and another is barely visible
because of the reincarnated trees:
the ones that grow so high even the
hawks fear to fly to the peaks;
they grow atop the fake wood veneer
of four-drawer chopping blocks.
Jungles in the sky
where each plant is exotic
(or at least in the
eye of the ant):
where the beasts roar
when rubbed the
and only the meek
Friday, January 16, 2009
1. "Play Your Part (Pt. 1)"
2. "Shut The Club Down"
3. "Still Here"
4. "What It's All About"
5. "Set It Off"
6. "No Pause"
7. "Like This"
8. "Give Me A Beat"
9. "Hands In The Air"
10. "In Step"
11. "Let Me See You"
12. "Here's The Thing"
13. "Don't Stop"
14. "Play Your Part (Pt. 2)"
I remember when all of my friends first got their G2s. We come from a small town, where there’s not much to do but complain about the lack of things to do. Instead of being apathetic and contemptuous toward this monotonous and seemingly inevitable boredom, we made our own fun. The weekend would come, and we would pile into friends’ cars, sometimes squeezing four to five along backseat benches. Night would fall, and we would drive.
It was a time of lead-footed drives out of town on backstreets to reach what could only be described as Hope, defined by a freckle-faced pigtailed red head and Frostys; driving reckless donuts in deserted parking and idling to talk and eat and laugh while high-beam-flashing, battery-sucking MCs matched lights along to the rhythm of finger tap satisfying beats – the more complex and unconventional the beat, the better. We played everything from Gorillaz and Radiohead to Pig Destroyer and The Grouch.
We did it often, and we wanted variety. Naturally, an exponential expansion of Windows Media Player and iTunes libraries ensued.
We hated the radio: any commercial break was too long. This marked an age of mix disks, and no one reserved piety for DJ Passenger Seat. An excess production of mix disks occurred often, as everyone wanted to listen to their tunes with the aid of superior car sound systems and share their musical tastes with everyone else.
It was quite possibly one of the single most culture- and counter-culture-filled times of my life.
Eventually we’d greet and strive to understand 6 in the morning joggers running in the opposite direction with disgust and anguish, but we had a good time.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Hunter S. Thompson, inventor of Gonzo Journalism and novelist was not your average writer. This is the very man that wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – a tale of drug-induced antics while on assignment in the city of broken bank accounts and all-night boozeries. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you’ll know this is a man who pushes every limit in sight, and when he campaigned for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado in 1969, there was no exception. Thompson was a prominent figure of an anarchist group known as the party for Freak Power. His platform included a legalization of the recreational use of narcotics (while prosecuting profiting dealers harshly to reduce gang activity), to “Sod the streets at once” (The Great Shark Hunt, Simon & Shuster Paperbacks, 1979) and create large parking-lots on the outskirts of Aspen in order to reduce pollution and preserve nature, to change the name of Aspen to “Fat City” by public referendum as to prevent the greedy from capitalizing on the name (for example, titles such as the Aspen Music Festival would then on be known as the “Fat City Music Festival”), forbid hunting and fishing in Aspen (or Fat City) to all non-residents, and the ban of weapons in public for all officers (including Thompson, who was a well-known firearms enthusiast). Of course, Thompson felt it was very important that Aspen elect a responsible party, and in his efforts, promised his community that if he became Sheriff, he’d never eat mescaline while on duty.
Hunter S. Thompson - Aspen Sheriff Election 1970
Ten years later, Jello Biafra – former Dead Kennedys lead singer and since then solo and spoken word artist – ran for mayor in San Francisco. What was originally meant to be a prank soon turned into a serious involvement in local politics and social order. His campaign promised everything from placing a rule that required businessmen to dress in clown attire within San Francisco to a citywide ban on cars (in an attempt to reduce pollution). But here is where the media attacks again, showcasing only the bizarre and offering little exposure for the revolutionary. Among his “weird” campaign moves are some plans that Jello’s argued had received too little attention: he felt that squatting should be legal in abandoned San Franciscan homes; he opted for elections to decide the occupations and jurisdictions of local police; played for a 50% panhandler commission for all state workers laid off due to deficit-caused staff reductions; and stood for jails being moved to local golf courses “so [occupants] can enjoy true rehabilitation like the Watergate criminals” (from an interview with Jools Holland). Despite the fact that he only won 3% of the votes, Biafra – his real name Eric Reed Boucher – did manage to put a dent in the politically limited wall of San-Francisco: following the election: no candidate was to run under any name other than the one given to them at birth.
Despite wacky antics and bold campaign promises, none of these parties went anywhere past their campaign as far as electorate success sees. The way North Americans and many more people of the world have been raised is to the understanding that the person who puts the most of their self into their work is the one that achieves the greatest cookie-jar success: in the case of campaigning; the more a party spends, the greater their audience becomes. Fairly independent parties, they don’t have the buck for that bang. This is where the track and field of the political race becomes more about Gatorade sponsorships than the ability to jump higher – run faster – throw further – run a country up to speed. It’s that kind of corporate funding that clouds the judgment. It gets people thinking who to vote for – who will cater to their needs in the future (their needs, their future – not their future’s future) – who’s drinking the same sports drink as them – who they should invest in.
Just like athletes drop sponsors, the sellout parties drop values along the road. Here is where generations of fence-sitters lose their strength and pick a box that seems familiar, because too different is too much to handle. In general, NHL athletes didn’t stop playing hockey when they changed the rules – instigated shoot outs in place of overtimes; they kept playing hockey because they were good at it and made good cash money. The year before that they were on strike, this was the new harvest season, and they had to make up for some dead crops.
Unlike the cash-driven parties we see, firing different philosophies every other day of the week, the weird stick to their guns still to this day. Hunter S. Thompson lived by his motto ’til the day he killed himself; “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro;” he never won any elections, but his writing still exists just as it did long before his new audiences were even conceived – just as popular, and if not, more. Jello’s motto, a little different, but just as influential: “don’t hate the media, become the media” – and he’s done a good job at that, producing albums at a rate so fast it’s as if the lyrical content of each song was as easily rendered as simple stones he only had to pick off the earth.
Become the media. Turn pro. Separate the suit-wearing clowns from the real people, and take your picking. Think about how satisfying it is, seeing a clown get a cream pie right on the nose. Ask the “weird,” and they’ll probably tell you that this is about all the clowns are good for: laughs.
*originally published in The Undercroft, vol.2, iss.3: "Rally in the Alley" as a feature article.
Now playing: The Misfits - Where Eagles Dare
Monday, January 12, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
Dan from New Orleans
We got our tickets from roll call, and the relief that came with it was instant cause for a celebratory smoke for the two smokers in our quartet. They lit up, and after a moment of reflective commentary on the ridiculousness of the whole situation, being in New York City on such short sleep, tired legs, and little planning, this guy with camo shorts walks up to us. We ate a six in the morning breakfast at White Castle – where were our heads? Nervous giggles all around from a bunch of small towners.
And that’s when we met this guy, Dan, who said (and sounded like) he was from Nawlins (New Orleans, dontchaknow). Anyway, this dude, he was sweet.
He approached us because of the cigarettes.
“What are those?” he asked, pointing to a hand holding a dart.
What a miserable country, I thought. Our corporations can’t even perpetuate their own identity as Canadian. Even in our closest neighbouring country, we’re looked at like a bunch of wandering vagrants smoking cheap stuff short of Marlboro. Was smoking such a foreign concept when on the topic of our land? Our government systematically extirpated any sort of relationship with this menace in the advertising realm of its marketplace as if it was amputating some unsightly extra appendage, but it still allowed those companies to manufacture and traffic the things. The hypocrisy is ludicrous, of course. Imitate the rod and spoil the pimp, I guess. It almost makes me want to smoke. I probably would if I wasn’t allergic to it.
We pathetically explain the relationship we have with these cigarettes and tell him we like his shorts, laughing because we’ve all got the same thing going on. They’re really just convenient for wandering and carrying a lot of shit. Dan told us he was in New Orleans when Katrina hit – maybe those shorts had some history.
Dan’s about to leave to find his friends, and he turns around to ask the four of us if we’d like to join him further up the line – and well, the dude’s friends are right at the front. I’m not even talking twenty or even a couple people from the entrance or anything. I’m talking right at the gate. It turned out these friends were just two Aussie girls he met while partying the night before. One was talking about a party she was going to have after the concert in her loft. One of my friends looked up like it was an opportunity for a place to stay the night. Our luck was only this good in this state of miserable presentation: we must have looked like helpless, scared rodents in a city that’s too big even to begin looking for the scraps of food left in the gutter.
Either way, I guess we must have been good people.
We stood in line for another twenty minutes, and security opened the gates. They let us loose, but not before they dissected the contents of our bags for some sort of treasure akin to some booze or a bag of dope. We were too cautious for anything like that though. We were wild kids, but we shrank at the very notion of American border authorities, with ominous, post- 9/11 images of Muslims being picked out and dragged into interrogation rooms by some of the most clean-shaven cops in the country haunting our foresight. They confiscated my Nalgene bottle because it was too likely to be used as a weapon and I was a teenager in one of the largest settings perfect for anonymous, mindless, destructive behaviour. Event staff saw punks like me beyond their aviators every weekend, and even more often in the summer. And this was a hip-hop concert; too often closely affiliated with its violent brother, rap. I felt raped and insulted, but I gave the swine my bottle and in my head I thought of profanities I was too weak and outnumbered to assault him with.
Dan let us in on a little secret. He’d smuggled in some joints under his belt. We kept him around for some entertainment, I forgot to mention, he was a pretty funny guy.
Halfway through the day, Dan was still with us and he was comfortable enough to break out a new treat. He turned to my friend and asked if he wanted a hit. He took the offer, but not after he realized what was being pushed on him. Dan opens his mouth to reveal a single tab of what could only have been genuine LSD. We all knew how much hospitality was too much. “Nah man, I’m good.” Dan shrugged his head and closed his mouth, waiting to be lifted to a new level of existence among a crowd of sweaty, shirtless youth that was just there for the good time. I wondered what horrible incantations he would start shouting when the crowd conjured waves of Ws out of their hands when Wu-Tang Clan came on stage. I remembered that DARE program and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas simultaneously.
But what did I know. Dan was the epitome of hip, and he must have done this before. A concert held in a venue that could handle a capacity of up to 70000 people was a helluva lot to lay on any amateur acid head, after all. It was clear that Dan was used to the crude nature of authority in this country, and fear hadn’t ripped his heart out yet.
Now playing: Rage Against the Machine - Calm Like A Bomb
Friday, January 2, 2009
We live in a Weird Time. It brings back memories of Black weekdays, dirty thirties and Boo Radley leaving treasure in an oak tree. I like to think I’m conscious of things like our seemingly swan song singing economy and the overwhelmingly schizophrenic gas prices that roll and reek vengeful havoc on our culture’s (or at least some of its representatives’) ignorant greed. Still, when we’re in a group setting, and one of us suddenly becomes aware of their heavy eyelids, I am more often than not offered a ride home on general principle that I would otherwise have to walk.
In these situations, I am prone to being the only passenger to accompany the driver; at least sometimes I am the last to be dropped off. At that hour of the night, which is usually absurdly late and not night at all, conversation comes slowly to me. And since even at suitable hours I find that I write better words than I can sometimes articulate through speech – I actually come complete with a list of conversation starters that I will fall back on if the occasion necessitates such contrived attempts at communication.
Lately, I’ve been resorting to a question I’ve had about counterfeit money. I do not know as much as I wish I did about legal matters. I am also double-majoring in English and Philosophy, so naturally, the Meaning and Truth of words and how far they can be stretched is of great importance to my curiosity. Recently I’ve been asking my drivers and sometimes even fellow passengers what “counterfeit” means to them. Is it having it (knowingly?)? using it (knowingly?)? making it? all of the above? I received responses that perpetuated opinions in favour of all the options listed, but the “knowingly” element made its first appearance on my ride home last night.
As I mentioned before, we live in Weird Times. In this fertile and vulnerable New Year, 2009, history seems to be repeating itself as history is wont to do, and our economy is in a state of Recession. Well, Weird Times call for Weird Answers. I like to think I’ve learned from the best. My personal library consists of enough Beat writers and artists to blow up a bank. That claim might seem strange, but it will become less obscure as I go on.
Between the end of the Great Depression and the 50s, there wasn’t much room for fun. With World War II in full heat for the first half of the forties, soldiers were recruited in large quantities, diminishing the definition of entertainment for stay-at-homers to satisfying vicarious interest. Even after the official end of WWII on September 2, 1945, culture was licking its wounds in America: the focus shifted to repopulation and family unification. When the fifties started, Conservative philosophy dominated how people lived their lives, and if you were an individual that wasn’t baby booming and pursuing nuclear family life or the great American Dream, you had nothing but your job and your possessions, and you weren’t looked on kindly.
Then came the Beat Generation.
The Beat Generation consisted of a collection of authors that can be looked at as a response to the Great Depression and its results. “Beats” or “Beatniks” were essentially those that rejected the dominant American values, seeking liberation for the very soul that was being oppressed. Eastern spirituality, drug use, and sexual exploration were prominent focuses. Jack Kerouac packed up and traveled across America, traveling which consisted of hitchhiking and finding beauty on the road and in the jazz clubs and company it brought him to. This resulted in the 1957 publication of On the Road. William S. Burroughs embraced drugs like marijuana, a German opioid called Eukodol, morphine, and especially, heroin, all of which he wrote about in his seminal work, Naked Lunch. In an effort of spiritual independence, in 1955 Allen Ginsberg took advice from his therapist and quit his job, becoming a full-time poet. He then wrote Howl, a collection of his then-recent works. He was able to do this with the time he had off and the stress that was lifted when he quit his job.
The things you own end up owning you, but you are the only owner of your experiences. An important element of Kerouac’s travels and the junky lifestyle that Burroughs passed was a rejection of material possessions. It’s hard to travel with a lot of stuff – especially when on foot, and drugs cost money – something a lot of heavy users (Burroughs was one) often have to obtain by letting things go. There’s something to be said here, since both were able to make books of substantial integrity out of the experiences in which they took part.
Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Ginsberg’s Howl each faced obscenity charges thanks to the conservative values being enforced at the time, but ultimately, they were lifted for the social importance that each work brought to its culture. If Burroughs and Ginsberg proved anything more than Jack Kerouac with these triumphs it was that it is okay to be obscene.
This is where my counterfeiting question comes in. But I’ll reintroduce it in a new way: if counterfeiting is illegal, would it be illegal for art’s sake? Even if it is, and the Recession becomes the New Depression, I wouldn’t mind doing some of my own for the purpose of making a 150x70m collage of colourful Canadian capital that spells out in big blocky capitals,
THIS NOTE IS NOT LEGAL TENDER.
It might be rejected as counterfeit and obscene, but I think it would serve a greater purpose than imposing a widespread conservative repulse in a time of economic strife. It would deliver an important message to the Canadian people: in this time of capitalist propaganda and rickety job stability, you still have your souls. Make art, and live life. Enjoy freedom from and reject the noose of material thingamajigs. This is the new Pop Art. It’s not Pop Art at all. It’s something from nothing. It’s Beatific. It’s obscene. It’s Soul Art.
Now playing: Deftones - Passenger