Friday, July 14, 2017

Summerspeed: July 14, 2017 - Weekend Bachelor


I'm out for a stroll, cats.

My lover and loved daughter and dog are not around this weekend, so I shall see what trouble I will get into (for a few nickels). Honestly, I'm looking forward to doing very little. It's funny how age does that to you. In your teens/twenties, you thought 'I can't wait for summer so I can DO EVERYTHING".

Now, a free pocket of time is a chance to clean, do laundry, watch some dumb comedy videos and work on some songwriting.

Hardy har, chaps. I'm a city boy. Let's grab some noodles and broth.

Catch me on the flapjack stack.

Hidy-ho! Friday-go!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summerspeed: July 13, 2017


The future fades. The minutes are few.

We are throttling on. Baseball with Ed, Dad and Ad was a treat. Best weather night of the summer so far. Unreal how that worked out. Many tall boys consumed and many Ottawa bat-stick rallies occurred, causing them to beat the Miners 8-2. 

Had a burger AND a poutine. Felt like a big, flabby fatty. Fuck it! The sun set with the green of the outfield casting us an emerald glow of youth.

We were kings for a minute. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summerspeed: July 12, 2017


I've been thinking about Rickles. It's hard to think of a comparable guy who could make the most composed people absolutely lose their shit with laughter. He deconstructed. He made the serious much less serious.

It makes me think about art. Why is art always so goddamn serious? Does it need to be? Don't we find the greatest moments of enjoyment from his bullshit ball of mud when we lose ourselves in a gut-tightening hot minute of whimsy? I think we do.

There are way too many people with no avenues for their anger. Racism is real. Social disparity is real. Hunger is real. Unemployment is real. Disgusting cowardly acts of murder are real. We all know that.

But why do we always try to fight the serious with more seriousness?

The sky is a thin-veiled grey-white today. I climbed the stairs at work and did push ups. I'm looking forward to a night in with Jillian and Sloan. She's calling.

I like these blog posts. It's a new type of brevity-writing, and it's less flowery for me. But a little more muddy and gutty.

Onward.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summerspeed: July 11, 2017


Here's Joel playing his first version of an album song. I saw him play this live at the Ale House in Kingston (now defunct) on September 30, 1999. I was there with Brendan Lorimer. Twas great and a truly ear-bleeding evening once the band kicked in.

The haze of strange dark summer clouds still pervade the skies of the Cap City corridor. This is actually yesterday's post that I'm writing today.

I walked to Lone Star for lunch and seriously enjoyed the hell out of a fish taco and some free salsa and chips. God. It tasted like pure heaven. I was ravenous.

After dinner, my old pal Mark Richardson came over and met Jillian and Sloan. That was a real treat. Mark and I were born on the same day in the same hospital. We don't always stay in touch, but when we do connect, we have good in-depth discussions. It's good. I wish him well on his new adventures to Chile with his family of three!! Cameron, Jack and Bea(trice). Wow. I can't imagine having more than one - let alone carting them across the continent! Mark and I almost got hit by a taxi when we walked to his car. Fucking crazy drivers.

It was a hot sleep after a few craft brew. And that was that.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Summerspeed: July 10, 2017

It's a Monday. It's been weirdly dark and cloudy all day with a front hanging over the city. Had a Wild Wing salad with my dad, and pickled willy's. The parking in our hood has been nuts because of Bluesfest. This is a lull time for shows, so I'm hoping a daily entry will slow down the summer.

"I don't want to become everything I despise" - Rivers Cuomo.

Pretty basic day. Went for a coffee run with my dad and we stuck behind a losery Honda CRV driver who had a bumper sticker that said 'if you're going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair'. I'm blessed to have a workspace with my dad where I can promote and work on different projects. I need to do more social media for my dad, though.

Gonna hit up farm boy and a bra store with J and S tonight. BIG party!

Looking forward to working on some songs later this week. I need to get a pickup put in my Sigma, and to have that classical in my folks basement set up.

Sun might be coming out. Weezer's 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End' is a work of art.

Also - I think I might really like Mac Demarco.




Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Kenny Rogers Summer-Speed




"We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing."

-Charles Bukowski


I feel a need. The words have to come and the busy outside world needs to hear my inside thoughts. Even if they die on the doorstep of introspection - they will die in the daylight. Too often I see the silence of good and creative friends as their lives dwindle by. They speak of projects that stay in the shed and barely get breathed on. They talk of should haves and would haves, but the worldstorm rumbles and crashes on, and ruthlessly waits for no one. It breaks hearts and necks, simultaneously.

Soon, seasons blend together and patches of years go by and nothing of consequence happens. Another day rockets by and another sleep closes the eyes of our intentions. Morning cracks and we are instantly rushed. We grow older and move into new stratospheres of age groupings. We calculate our chances. Our days. Our hours. Our seconds.

Our potential.

And yet, in the galaxies of our lost friends and broken relationships, people pay these thoughts no mind. They march onward in bare feet towards the dark, silent woods of the end. They make no booms - they sound no barbaric yawps. They live in their suburbs, and they water their lawns of sober saltless dinners.

The summer is speeding by with an epic Fox comet-tail style; it's a trend that is much talked about in the hot street-steam of the moment but will be long since forgotten upon the slow birth of winter.

Much like our lives.

My life and daily outlook has changed drastically in the past year and a half. I wasn't planning to venture down the road of parenthood when it happened. My gorgeous life partner and I weren't in a mode of hatching and planning and bullet-journalling where and when and how we would conceive a child. But it happened. The pregnancy happened. The birth happened. The hard late December and almost all of Janaury in a hospital happened. And now, she is here - with us. It's hard to picture life before this precious seed of a flowery shrub of a human came into the frame.

A few weeks back, I got to go see Kenny Rogers light up the Jazzfest stage with my dad. Kenny Fucking Rogers. The Gambler. It was a frozen moment in time for me, as my 71 year old dad and my 40 year old self stood watching a gold-voiced, cane-walking man whose vinyl releases warmed the floorboards and walls of our house for eons of time. My dad, who sang a lot in church, would sing Kenny's songs while the records played and he had most of the lyrics down to a T. I wasn't expecting to be as affected as I was, but both of us stood in a sunset Confed Hill park in sheer, buttery enjoyment of a man who still took the time to talk to audience members, tell jokes about Mick Jagger being '102 years old' and 'that damned Dolly Parton', and sarcastically push governmental concert goers to get a bit more animated and loose in their singing and involvement. For a 78 year old, Kenny sure had all of the fixins of a true Southern Gentleman who had novels of stories to tell, and buckets of trial-by-fire wisdom to share, and he can still sing decently - and to hear how his dream of music began by being inspired by the legendary Ray Charles.

The whole night was a reminder - a broken stinger in the skin of time. We are all moving on. The ports of past experience float away in our rearview as we ship off to new and foreboding and exciting destinations.

And it left me feeling hopeful - in the sense that we don't need a ton of time to make a mark. Everyone thinks about building a legacy. A gold watch. A degree. An RRSP. A company. An invention. But even in opening the door of a coffee shop for a sullen stranger, couldn't we make enough difference in that moment to make a ripple in the ponds of love and light?

I want to keep building. I want to keep opening doors. I want to help those around me.

I'm here to listen, and gather, and to walk beside you.




Friday, May 19, 2017

Sometimes, the world wins


Be still...wild and young.
Long may your innocence reign.

(*note: this is a post I started yesterday, but couldn't get around to finishing. As I type this, various species of birds are chirping in tall pines around the property of Jillian's parents place in the Haliburton Highlands, and my daughter is having a beautiful, side-span nap on our bed. I am doing my best to be rooted in the moment*)

Try as we might, and fight as we fucking fight, sometimes the world wins. We try to endure. We push on. We make healthy choices. We go to bed early. We do the things that we need to do. We raise families.

We do our best to cheat time. But in the end, we know that the bullet train is on the tracks, and we know that it is indeed coming.

But maybe we just need to take a moment, and Be Still.

Lately, death has been the theme that has usurped all of my social media feeds. To bring you up to speed, an international superstar/rock star, otherworld-talent, well-loved musician and front man (supposedly) killed himself at age 52 (Chris), and another local mutual friend, bagpiper, and sound engineer who did the lion share of recording on my new album died of cancer at age 40 (Tom). This all happened within 72 hours. Both of them left behind children and significant others. Though both deaths are very different in nature and scope, they are both fucking terrible storms of life that a select few will have to teeth-grittingly endure.

I suppose, in a way, I haven't taken to the emotional pulpit and scoured out a sentimental, loving-memory post for either - even though both people influenced me indirectly. I was a huge fan of Chris, and possess at least four of his albums and some of his solo works, and I spent time with Tom on more than one occasion, in both creative and recreational settings. He recorded most of the drums and guitars on my latest album.

I suppose I haven't done this because I've weathered something similar in my personal journey and past.

In March of 2013, a mutual friend, and amazing guitarist and musician (who I only had one conversation with) who was 34 (Jay) supposedly committed suicide while touring with a rock group in Edmonton. I had just finished spending 4 days with the band (Matt Mays) and shot some social media videos for them. That same August, a close friend (Dale) of my brothers and mine (more my brothers - mine through proxy and pub-chats) died of Leukemia at age 43 in his parents home in Maxville, Ontario. It was a tragic time, and a I was surrounded by a hotbed of fuck-this-worldness and I was newly separated. I was awash in a sea of rage and questions and alcohol. I dug deep in conversation around both tragedies. I scoured the earth for answers. I cried on lonely night drives. I feared death more than ever. I turned over every rock.

But in the end, I realized that the greatest healer was not drinks. Or weed. Or distraction. Creativity and physical activity helped, sure - and they served as outlets - but they weren't the end game. I could power out songs, and bleed out the words, and sing them aloud in my empty parents basement at the top of my lungs. That helped a bit, too.

But the greatest healer - the greatest effector - was Time. It was going to bed, and waking up, and gaining a bit more distance. It was being okay with bringing it up in conversation - even when you think it might 'bug' someone else. It was living life as I always had done. And it was also allowing others around me - including myself - to be exactly where we needed to be. And it takes time to get there.

And this was one of my greatest revelations in this time:

People need to feel however the fuck they need to feel. Too often, I see invisible hands all over the place that are directing folks in their emotional navigation,  and what actions and steps they need to take to get from A to B.

But I say fuck that and step back. Grief is a motherfucking demon, and it can manifest itself in whatever way it wants to. You wouldn't believe the array of emotions I saw among friends when Jay died - and at first, I'd think 'how can this person be so mad?! They were friends! Why don't they feel more sentimental or miss him more?!' or vice versa.

But If people want to crawl, we don't need pull them up and make them run - we need to let them crawl. If people need to sprint, don't stop them and make them slow to a jog - let them sprint. Because in the end, they will get there. We just need to be at the ready - and to be beside them - crawling, or sprinting, or walking with them.

The only thing I've been able to sort of equate death to (but it's still really obviously different) is like losing a friend; that person is no longer in your life. They are gone. For whatever reason or differences, your paths had to part. It's sad, and it sucks. There might be traces of them, but they're just gone. The joy that you once created together had to end. There never are easy answers, and you're left to sort through a lot of things alone.

But what you do have, and what no one can take from you, are the memories. Funny thing about us humans; we really have a way of pushing through the shit that happens in our lives (especially in relationships) and we tend to remember the good more than the bad. We are a resilient bunch. Much like Andy Dufresne talked about music while being thrown in the hole at Shawshank Prison, our memories are a place that no one else can get to. They can't be fucked with.

May those memories guide us all as we forge onward and make sense of the chaos and pain and hurt.

Laura Biddle works as a grief counselor, and has written some amazing passages online about dealing with grief and moving on.


"Hope, I believe, begins with acceptance. To accept the moment that IS, is a spiritual practice. This loss, this feeling, this emptiness, this sorrow, THIS despair is real for now. Acceptance takes time and attentiveness, time that urges us to be compassionate with ourselves, trusting that hope will emerge through the multitude of emotions no matter how painful they may be. Acceptance is a practice of living NOW, with trust that this is a time for grief and there will be a time of hope. From here, there is only forward, and forward is hopeful. Acceptance is the first step in restoring hope."



Too often, as we age, we wade through the shallow end of life. We don't dive in. We play it safe. And sometimes, we are afraid to share our real and honest emotions because we are worried that we might offend someone who is going through a hard time. We ball it up. We compartmentalize. I can't tell you how many people have said the shoulda-woulda-coulda (WSC) phrase in conversation with me - and these are people in good health, in their 30's and 40's.
'I should have taken this job.'
'I would have played sports in high school if my parents had let me.'
'I could have dated so-and-so but the timing wasn't right, and she'll always be the one that got away'.

Life happens all around us all the time. To live in a WSC state is to cheat life. It's putting yourself into a fantasy - an alternate reality. Fuck WSC. Sure - we can all feel that twinge from time to time- and that's normal - but it's the staying and swimming and living in it that is not normal. It's counterproductive.

My new friend Tariq wrote a great passage about hockey and life recently, and his words struck me. It was about his childhood hockey-watching experiences, and how the Sens recent run has conjured up so much more than just cheering for a team in the playoffs:

"Even as I sit here writing these words, decades later, my goose bumps are apparent. My eyes are wet. My heart rate is slightly elevated. And, after all this time, I still don't understand why I feel this way. The answer is pretty simple: Hockey is not life. WE are life. We breath emotions. We suffer pain and loss, we approach euphoria with the understanding that it could be taken from us in an instant. We consume joy like a drug. It's what keeps us going. It's what makes life worth living."


Feel how you need to feel, but never ever feel like you need to apologize for your emotions. Let the words out. Laugh hard and tell people you love them. Let your love howl into the evening air of your existence, and drink up the starry summer skies.

Because in the end, although it consumes a lot of our thoughts, I don't really think death is anything. It will happen. Henry Scott Holland would agree:

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!


All. Is. Well.


-Henry Scott Holland



Monday, May 15, 2017

The Vibe of the Journey



The exercise of writing takes vigor. It takes energy and want and desire and the slightest, needle-light-ray twinge of focus. It takes meditation.

I am out of practice.

Sure - there have been circumstances that have arisen in my life that have skiffed my feet to deviate from the original course - and that's alright. A gorgeous life partner! Switching jobs and homes. And towns. And the birthing of a beautiful daughter who needed extra medical attention the first month of her life. These things happen in life, and in no way do I feel that they've slowed me down - but they have just taken my laser-gaze away from my words. They are all things to be celebrated! It's a different phase. A new road.

But I'm getting hungry again. The storm of life is residing into a bit of a manageable trickle. I am finding myself again. Words are starting to come out, and I've even created the first new songs in about 5 months. Songwriting has always been a grounding force for me, and a therapeutic release. It's a process of dealing with a feeling or emotion or mind-state (anger, joy, sadness, reflection, future-vision) and putting those thoughts into forward motion and action as they leave your mind and hit the paper.

And no matter what joy and tribulation and testing and jubilation comes, I walk the road. The goal is perpetual motion. I want to keep learning and growing and getting better, and I feel that I'm on that course. Being a father of a tiny human being and the partner of a beautiful woman are part and parcel to that - and though both things happened in unexpected time zones - isn't that just life to a tee? We are never ready for when the beauty hits. It just comes in waves upon waves and takes us to where we need to be - as where we need to be and where we think we need to be are two very different destinations.

The spring has hit in pure, unrelenting sunlight. The flood waters of the Ottawa area are lowering. The bugs will be out in droves. I am looking forward to long walks with Olive the dog, and a frosty evening pint on a dusty, summer walk. I am looking to running through the forest in my parents neighbourhood, and under yellowed-streetlight tunnels in the downtown region. I am looking forward to the lake and time spent with family and friends. I am looking forward to see those I love change and grow and learn around me. I am looking forward to engaging my community and getting involved.

Let us live lives of meaning, freedom and trying - and not be like the cotton-mouthed folks of Bukowksi's words:

"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die.
"The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is This What You Really Want?



Lately, the tides have broken. I am washed into a new existence, and I truly don't even remember where the shore went. I feel very out in the open - exposed. Like a misshapen naked man in a dream full of his old classmates and teachers. I have, in many ways, lost my old bearings and the map before is new and different and wild and bizarre.

Having a child is a thing of inexplicable beauty - a thing of thankfulness and ultimate, deep, rich, colour-soaked joy. But it is also a test of every part of you. If there were ever any doubts about your character or your sticktoitiveness or your sheer ability to get things done, having a child will boil the bones of you over a flashpoint gas fire.

But once you push past the ghastly ghouls of your slacker past, and beat down your desire to sip fruity drinks by a pool all day and rake in residual cheques, there is a real and pure beauty.

There is a deep resounding joy. You see this tiny person, who was somehow/magically brought into the world by you and your significant other, start to grow. You see her change, and you watch as the innocent corners of her lips start to form a smile - and her eyes follow and widen. You hear her start to test her vocal chords and stretch coos into longer noises that are both cacaphonic and otherworldly. A baby really breaks the ethereal plane of who you are - who you used to be - and who you are going to be. Your consciousness is horse-kicked to the ceiling of the only room you've ever known, and then blasted 10 floors upward - breaking through layers upon layers of the insulation, framing and steel of your being.

And something strange also starts happening in other facets of your being; you start to understand your parents. The worry, the stress, the late nights, the concern - everything becomes less about you and more about your child.

Never has a song been more real to me than when I started listening to Sonic Highways by the Foos. I haven't loved everything Grohl and crew have put out over the years, but I've dug most of it - but when I heard I Am A River, it came out in the wake of knowing that Jillian was pregnant, and it chunked a resonant chord deep within my catacombs. When that riffy, strummy, feathery part starts at the apex, it gives me chills.

We grow up thinking that we are it - that the world begins and ends with us and us alone. There is no before and no after. But there is no greater wrecking ball to that thought than having a child of your own. You grow, and you change, and you watch this child change with you - and there is an epiphany and a fear that comes with knowing that we are really just vessels. We pass things on - and we leave. Not only did Jillian give birth to a being that will most likely outlast and outlive me, but this thing could also maybe/possibly one day give birth to another being of its own. Now THAT is some serious shit.

I am truly a river.
May the beauty and joy and fear and everything wash over me.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Just to Fuckin' Write



There have been comings and goings and runnings and walkings and christmas stockings. My life has been a run on sentence for months now, with little punctuation, and a lack of clear, concise thought.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that that is just the way these things go.

And by these things, I am, of course, referring to my recent departure down the road of parenthood.


I am a father.


Wow. Just typing those words gives so much sonorousness to their end effect.

This past Christmas season, everything changed in my life. And I truly mean everything. Words have more meaning. The minutes have more use than they ever have, and the seconds speed by in a firework post-smoke pop, more so than they ever have.

A tiny bundle of joy has joined the life of me and my glorious partner. While traveling somehow out of me, to conjoin and blossom in the body of my partner, who carried her around for nearly 9 long, arduous, joyous months, she shot out after many hours in a godlike moment of wonder and terror and joy. To see a child pulled and pushed out of a human being is an experience that is unlike anything else. You feel like you are watching a primordial ritual of sorts - something that a mortal should not be allowed to watch. Almost like ancient spirits pulling an animal out of a rock. It's beyond surreal. And I'd highly recommend it to anyone with the right amount of love and patience.


We lived on a precipice, and now, we are on the other side. We have reached a different level in the video game of life, and in doing so - we have unlocked many more beautiful, eye-jewelled levels to come. And we bash on through them together. And now, we are in the sweet, interesting, and sometimes painfully long hereafter. This state of being involves a lot of testing. A lot of movement testing and soft-shush therapy happens. It's the way. Sleep. Change diapers. Feed. Repeat. And somewhere in there, we do the same things (just without diapers...for now, anyways).


Thank you, God. Thank you, world. Thank you, Life. For all of it.



Monday, November 28, 2016

The Trembling Sigh




Dear reader:

Tonight is a night of solemn November sanctuary. It's a night of finding the verbal vibe. Recovering the lyrical laminar flow that Gord Downie spoke so passionately about in the 1995 Heksenketel vhs video that my brother owned. I hope you can forgive me, reader.

I've been vacant for a while in the department of detonative words. My word-wick has been trimmed, snuffed, shortened and even dampened by life circumstances.

In short, I just simply haven't had the fucking time. I worked all summer. All fall. With maybe two/three days off scattered here and there (and that's being generous), I scoured. I burned the midnight oil. I dug deep.

Since early May, my life has been on a beautiful collision course of change, joy, panic, bewilderment, elation and ultimate thankfulness. I don't know where the sleeps have gone. Road-rubber-trails burned between Ottawa and Haliburton. Sleepy kisses. Morning americanos. Sticky cups in cup holders. Fumbling for change.  Grunty drives with a car full of sticky kegs. Bread. Product pitches. Lead-boots on the pedal down Mitch Owens towards Boundary Road. One car down and one gained. Crazy backwoods Quebec festivals with metal-meathook pierced humans in the heat of midsummer. Veggie chilli. Late night lugtreads. But before I get into that...

In early May, I scored a cool, unique job with a local craft beer company. This was right around the time I trucked across the country in the Blue Butte with Ali McCormick (as her traveling sideshow guitarist) and her uber-unique partner Will (master of the roadwitch). And about 7 months prior, I had found new love with someone who, at the time, was a partner I had come to deeply admire. Now, though, many moons away from that strange and fateful early summer month, she is my only partner. My only world. A spoken understanding at Christmas in a dark, upstairs night in the pine-woods-laden dwelling of her parents cemented the everything of us. My partner for life. Or at least, we hope and dream and plan towards the idea of that being the case! And many events have led us to believe that is the case. As the glorious lady of light and I were living in a strange Manotick apartment, and I was running ragged all over the Ottawa valley region to set up counters and serve beer for this company to the pandering wherewithal of thirsty oglers, another opportunity surfaced for me to get deeper into the beer company. The distribution side presented itself to me, and I placed a hook in an acquaintance, and I took the line to the boat and jumped in. But it didn't work out.

It's not my deal.

And that's really alright. It is. As I move further to background, I see the beauty of Beau's for what it is, now - a young, burgeoning, green company with a lot of excited employees who are passionate about community and their solid, organic products that are pretty damned tasty and bring people together. Make no mistake - I will continue to promote and consume their products.

But I've taken on a new opportunity - here in my hometown of the Otown. The cradle of the 613. One that uses my skills and seems to be the right fit.

Yes. Another opportunity, yet again. The shifting sands of the job-life of Matthew McKechnie have altered yet a-fucking-gain. Life doesn't get easier at 40, folks. You truck on. But this one is close to home - close to family, and just maybe, it's one that I avoided for a long time. And one that I feared out of finality and longevity.

And that's that.

And though the road will wind itself through thickets of regret, sadness, and even embitterment, it's easy to get pulled down those safe and enticing pathways. Sure - I've got some bones to pick, as we all do - but in the end, bones end up in a graveyard. And anyone picking through graveyards has to have a few screws loose!

In a comedy special last year, Bill Burr talked about his religious background and touched on the notion of 'walking away' and 'letting go' of religion. He spoke fiery words of hellfire into a microphone, mimicking an amalgam of pastors - as he made the motion of the microphone getting further away, and the speaker becoming more muffled and distant.

He did this to illustrate the concept of letting religion go to find the better part of himself.

I'm letting go. I'm moving on.

Yet again. It's a pattern that I'm getting used to, and sometimes worried about - but it's a pattern that has saved and rejuvenated me many times, nonetheless.

When we settle, we settle with the dust. Settling looks different for everyone - there is no key. No navigational tool. No legend on the map. May you find what your settlement looks like, and avoid it at all costs.



I'm excited to be closer to my family, and to crack open the sky of this coming dawn.








Sunday, August 21, 2016

Beginning Of The End Of Summer


 I remember sitting at the waterfront with fellow staffers many moons ago, as a late teen, at Camp IAWAH. One of them was a lifeguard/waterfront head named Graham Thompson (who went by the camp name of Huck) and he was a few years my eld. It was about this time of year in 1994 or so, and the wind was really picking up and cutting through the elms and maples along the shoreline and we were wearing long sleeve shirts for the first time all season. He commented on the wind, as Wolfe Lake sported a few caps out in the middle. He said something to the effect of "ya feel that? That wind in the trees? That's the beginning - the beginning of the end of summer." I got a good song out of that. 

In my 39th summer as a human, there's something more metaphysical about this time of year. It seems to be symbolic of the rapid changes we go through, and the hyper-vivid images of our lives that project in the skies all too quickly over the treetops of our memories. While the dead heat of summer causes us to slow down, the late August wind picking up reminds us that nothing stays the same. We grow up. We get older. We work more. We let grudges go a little quicker. We feel pain in parts of our bodies that we didn't know existed. 

These days, I work a lot, I move fast and I rarely stay still. I work a lot for a craft beer company, and when I'm not doing that (which is almost never), I'm in a zone of stasis or movement. I'm not able to put the time in cultivating and fostering friendships that I would like - but that's for a good reason. I'm growing something. I'm building something. I'm lucky to have found a gorgeous partner who understands my shortcomings and who accepts me as I am - but who sees the best in me on a sun-earth-moon gravitational basis. We are not the same person, and it's not always easy and it takes a few scary conversations to find the destination, but we always get there. 

This summer has been a sea of humid smoke, product based conversations  and shucked empty 50 litre kegs. I have been by the water of Otter and Stormy on a few occasions, but I have been on the ground. Dukin' it. Carrying the loads. Doin' it. And doin' it (fairly) well. 

The fall is coming friends. The seasons don't stop. Friends might fade. Relationships may alter. But don't deny love. Let it poke its leafy head through your sidewalk heart. Stock up on what matters to you. Don't let the winds of rumours or regret avert your mighty ship. I must remember that as well. 

Good things. 








Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Another Summer, Another Step In The Bucket












Sitting here in a Saskatoon Starbucks on a beautiful June day, I know that I'm lucky. I do. Once again, I have hit the hammerhead cross-Can trail to serve as a hired gun for Ali McCormick, and to play a few of my own tunes along the way. Touring is a strange beast. I remember the first real tour I went on was with Joel Plaskett across Middle-Ontario as a social media video guy in 2010. I remember thinking that every town seemed so bright and different, and that it was a bit circus-y and wild, but I was in love with all of it. Every moment. Every venue. Every smell in every room. Every joke in the car.

A few tours later, both as a video guy and a musician, I feel a little differently about the big, bad beast of Touring with a capital snaggletooth T. It's a bear. It really is - and you don't even realize how tired you are until you sit somewhere. The adrenaline you gain from playing gives you a shot of superhumanity, but that few hours of power is counteracted by the stasis of the road. The waiting. The smell of a stale car and multiple people sleep-breathing. And even after you've packed and re-packed the car, there is never...NEVER...enough legroom. You notice the idiosyncrasies of your fellow travelers like you never have before - and it all gets a bit squirrely at times. But after you do it, you feel like you've been through something. You've cut your teeth on some kind of life test, and you form bonds that connect to the fibres of your very being.

I've been thinking more about existence more than I ever have in the last many months, and the endurance marathon that we all run in the wild, scuttling, careening ride of this life. And man - I have been through some shit! I have been through some dark nights of anxiety and worry and unrest. Struggle. Hardship. Brokenness. Divorce. Deaths - some young, some old - but all of them uniquely difficult.

And I'm also lucky to have been through the weird social dramas I've been through. Friend break-ups. Rumours. Gossip mills. People going their separate ways and allowing bitterness and negativity to run their anger machines. It's unfortunate that those passive-aggro cellar dwellers don't understand that if they don't do the work, and don't have the balls to awkwardly and nervously and PERSONALLY confront people in life, when shit gets weird, they are going to rot their existences away in a bitter exile. Because it will always be their worldview that wins - and 10 times out 10, the fault will never lay with them. The world will be against them. And it's sad. And you miss those people. And it sucks to have circular, cyclical conversations with those people, but it's the unfortunate road that some may take. Patterns are hard to break.

But I'm here - and lucky for all of it. To have been through those lulls and hurts and blows and lows - and to really be in a position to appreciate when things are alright - at least for the moment.

And I'm lucky to miss someone. Man, am I ever. And to somehow have digitally stumbled into the best person I have come across in this life, who is ready to embrace me and be embraced back when I get home after 12 days of travel is an amazing thought. I want to spend a day smelling her face and hair. It's tough to step in the bucket, and really commit to that fastball when it comes down the pipe. Nobody wants to swing hard and miss. But when we do take that step down the baseline, and take a massive cut - and we connect with that pitch - the result is pretty otherworldly. J and I are not waiting for anyone or any timeline - we are truly building a life together. And it's pretty damn brilliant.

Thankful.










Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sorcery, Wizards and Wild Love


The weeks have turned into comets, and the days into shooting stars. Effervescent flicks of light spit and spark across the sky of my yearning, and I continue to push on. I stretch for the hoop of meaning, and my right arm back to dunk my soul as hard as I possibly can - but I am here.

In mid air. Frozen. But slightly hovering. Inching closer to the precipice of the rim.

As I sit here, in the hallowed halls of my dad's tax office, I realize that my past few 2-3 years have been more full of life-experience than the previous 13.

Drivin'. Traveling. Lumbering. Taxing. Musicking. Truckin'. Workin' like a fiend. I have less time to write than I ever did. I am happy, and I sleep soundly most nights. I rise early and I try to hit the sheets the same way. And I have a companion who has brought me more joy than I've ever known with another person - and that is no bullshit offering, right there. Yes - it is scary to make that public, but this life is too unpredictable and far too short to leave actual, true love undeclared. And I truly do declare that I am very much in love with JM.

But enough with the feels.

On a more mortal note, never, in my 39 year existence, have I been more aware of the fact that I'm going to die.

But that may be a good thing - track with me, here.

I've been thinking about guarantees - like the ones that car dealerships are always offering on TV or radio (especially these days). But there always seem to be a million tiny loopholes and opt-outs that allow the onus to always be on the buyer. We are the buyers. The dealers disappear faster than bullets. And so I ask - what guarantees are really real? Because when you get right to the base of the issue - past the empty ashes of the burning fire - what guarantees do ANY of us truly have?

You have a great job with excellent benefits and salary? You could get fired.

You're a picture of health? You could get sick.

You've carved out a nice little life on a mountainside ranch? You will die.

Harsh, right?

But beyond that chilling, empty, ghost-shell of a thought, there is meat. There is substance. And so many telling and valid colour-rich hyper-vivid moments are just waiting to be uncovered by us.

Once you get to that somewhat horrific and jarring realization that there are absolutely no guarantees in this life, you can start to do the real work. You see people for who they are. You worry less about pleasing everyone and take care of number one (you). You become more present in your focus. Fully emerged into a conversation and actions. You can really love others around you - with reckless abandon - and say the things you've always wanted to say. And maybe - just maybe - we can be calm enough to quell all of the voices and yearn and connect with a higher power, or something beyond ourselves.

Or maybe not. 

But at the very least, once you pass that realization, you can be truly 'shit-less' in the 'giving' department - and you can just be you.

I'm trying to get there. And I feel like I'm closer than I've ever been.

I hope you can do the same.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ain't No River


Hey. You there. 

The weeks have turned into months. The spring is basically here and the winter is almost dewy dust in the rainy wind, but there is still a sliver of March left. I've been barreling through. Playing shows. Working long hours. And above all, planting and finding seeds of love and moving to a new tiny town with a beautiful compadre. I am lucky. And blessed. This lady that I have found is the best companion that I've found so far in my journey, and blasts any past competitors into the atmosphere. 

A few weeks back, I took a trip with my lady to see some great people at a lake that I love. We talked by the fire. We sized up the night and the night did the same to us. It was a frozen moment of contemplation. 

More and more, I'm surrounding myself with friends who have done the work on both themselves and the friendships I have with them. In doing that, I'm also separating myself from drama and chaos and cyclical negative self-fulfilling prophecies. In life, it's hard to break ties with people who mean a lot to you. It just is. Some of us have an easier time of snapping the roots and shaking the soil, but some of us worry about the comfort of that warm but terrible dirt. 

But to make progress, especially in my own life, I've always had to simplify the formula when there are too many voices. 

I want to continue on my path. I'm gaining commitment. And dedication. And creative speed. I'm playing more and more music and gaining the tiniest glint of a glowing musical reputation. I don't need to alter my step or make lateral movements to appease anybody. I'm loving. And living. 

And on this near end of March day, I wish the best for you. 


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Lull - The Dogs of Winter

I used to rip the words off in machine gun fire succession. Leaving smoking shells of phrase-turns and captured cliches all over the floor of this blog. These days, I haven't been writing as much. Life has been busy - but in a good way. Maybe this blog has a lifespan and maybe...just maybe...its coming to an end. 

Maybe my words will re emerge in a different way. It's a tiring endeavour to be gut cutting truthful in every post. 

Takes it outta ya. 

Just thinking. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Als Diner Debrief


It's been a while, crocodiles. What's the scoop on the old oak stoop? I've been runnin' and gunnin'. Breaking backboards like Chocolate Thunder. Jammin east coast west coast funk dunks like JR Ryder. Doing what I do. I just put all of that lovely picture down my greasy gullet, and I feel like a million ducats. I feel like Scrooge McDuck in a bathtub of gold coins. 

Since my last post, much has changed - and yet, so much is still the same. I went through the bowels of a pretty gross and disturbing friend drama that made me lose some serious trust, but with distance from that twisted storm, I've taken stock in who the true blue people of my life really are. I've been working. Laying boards down. Picking boards up. Straight binnin' and winnin'. Stirring dust around in the cauldron of a massive farm truck. Making ends meet. 

I've been booking shows - with me and Ali McGee (McCormick). What a wild musical ride I've been on with this friend for almost a year now, and I'm so thankful for every morsel of it. Every tangential drip drop. And the ocean of drops to come. 

But beyond all of that, I've been building a love. A love with someone who has challenged and encouraged and brightened me to the core. I know that four months is maybe early to say that, but the truth has a way of trumping cultural relationship timetables. Our tracks were running separate, and both personally in the direction of betterment and fulfilment and now, they are truly entwined. Like iron wire farm fences. Getting more and more weathered and tested with every season we enter into together. She is truly the embodiment of 'something else'. A curveball of mystic proportions that makes you smile with tears at the thought of her. And I'm ready. Ready for whatever comes. Armed with four chords and the truth. 

In this ever fleeting life, we are nothing if we don't evaluate. Stop. Breathe. Through the nostrils. Give thanks. Look up. Feel the taste and texture of dry brown bread, and say 'thank you' for the chance to put fuel in your tank. 

Today - in this diner - I am here. Present. 

And that's all I can say for right now. 



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like?


When I was a kid, I spent long patches of summers with Aunt Jody and Uncle John. It was at an empty neighbouring cottage in Grand Rapids (where my brother and I stayed) that I first purchased and discovered Paul's Boutique on a yellow cassette and blew my pubescent preteen rapper mind. Jody is my mom's cool older sister, and has always had a bit more of a daring sense of humour than my mom. She has always had a boisterous laugh, and a wide eyed stare that would accompany the chuckle that was her way of saying "I'm enjoying this moment".

I had a conversation with my aunt tonight. Currently, my mom's only sibling is going through a few different stages of chemo. With cancer in her blood, and some recent blood clots in her lungs, she is in a strange and uncharted area. But in a text message convo tonight, it was evident that she is thankful - thankful that her numbers are where they are and that she can KEEP doing chemo.

Thankful...just to keep doing chemo. And I guess all of this triggers a question:

What do you want your life to look like?

In the midst of this truth-filled eve, I've realized that so many other so-called stressors and out-of-the-blue head spinning jabs are small potatoes in the wake of this truth. When we hide from the darkness and the sadness that so evidently surrounds us, and don't let it fully hit us, we get stuck in webs of bullshit and deceit and immaturity. l know who I am and I know what I've been through, and the real enduring friends in this life have listened to me through therapeutic sessions of release, anguish, regret, forgiveness, joy and ecstatic struggle. And they know me. And they know when I am wrong, and that I am man enough to come forward and willingly say that I fucked up. And I have. And I'll do it again. 

In the end, much like John Candy's character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Del Griffith), I often repeat the mantra in my mind and let the reality of it resound: "I like me". And if you don't, well...there's not too much I can do about that. I am continually changing, morphing, and adapting - but those who are stagnant can find my life to be offensive. Sometimes I have rough days. Sometimes, I struggle. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone. And I'm ultimately okay with that. And my friends who know and love me are okay with that too. 

But there is nothing you can do to change the perception of others. It's an act of negative progress - a running back pushing hard against four defensive linemen who are double his size. It's boring. 

But fret not - because an outside view of me, however tainted, is part of your journey. It's really okay. You might paint me in a certain light or have a desire to vilify me, or make me feel bad, or evil, or mould me into your punching bag for your untapped aggression. Sometimes, people will even make things up to try and sully my character. 

It's a pattern. I've seen it before. I've lived thirty nine years on this spinning ball of mud. I may be flawed in my own way, but I'm getting harder and harder to fool. I see through you. 

But don't worry. I can take it. 

Just try to learn from it.

"All I can do is be me - whoever that is" - Bob Dylan




Monday, January 04, 2016

The Inward Gaze And Sriracha Breakfast



The escapades of this life are sometimes not artful. They don't illicit thought provoking reactions and art house moments of sublime contemplation. They are, sometimes, only about motion. 

Moving forward. 

These last 6 months have been about that for me - maybe more so than ever. Clearing out cobwebs of dissatisfaction. Simplifying. Smalling the big. Making sure that I have what I need in the blink of a mouse fart to be alright. Dwelling less on impossibility. Opening my heart to the new road. 

I'm sitting in a diner near the industrial region of Carling road, taking everything in. Letting the sun from the coldest day of winter wash in on to the faded shit green-brown old world pattern carpet around me. My stomach is full of road house eggs and grease, and my soul is eager. Eager to see what's next. But also eager just to be here and smell the flowers of the moment. And my smile is creeping outward - thanks to the beauty of a bright and hilarious fellow traveler. 

I think when people get unsatisfactory results in their lives, their expectations are unrealistic. They are focused on the next move. The next thing. Or they are so hung up on past pain and can't bear to imagine a reality without that horrific but familiar comfort. They are absentee landlords in the beautiful cityscape loft of existence. Being happy should never be about the arrival - it should be about the love of the journey. The road. The ride. The roll of the dice. Seeing where the day takes you. The smallest victories. The smelly air vent clanking on at my mechanics. The first blue sky in many grey winter days. 

I'm at a crucial point of existence where people close to me are going through many spiritual and real dilemmas. I'm seeing decisions getting made. I'm watching roads as they are being built and foundations as they are forming. 

There are zero guarantees in this life. I once heard the zany Steve-O of Jackass on a Bryan Callen podcast say that 'As humans, the only universal thing we want to do is survive - but the only guarantee we have is that we won't'. Smart words from a man who climbed over an alligator pit on a tight wire with raw chicken in his underwear. 

Patti Smith fills up a wintry afternoon and reminds me of the passion that so many lose - we become drones marching on, in thoughtless trudging, towards our end. 

May your Sriracha breakfast arrive however it needs to today. 










Monday, December 14, 2015

Hunger For The Shadows


I've been crawling into the catacombs of old Country music for some time now, and I don't see that trend ending anytime soon. Yeah, there are some obvious family ties and old world connections that draw me into that open-plained, mysterious realm, but I think the main reason why I love these tunes is the complete willingness to tackle sadness and struggle head on. I picked up Kris Kristofferson's Border Lord for 5 shekels in my neighbour town of Merrickville the other day, as my friend Tony Arsenault chatted very cordially with me from behind the cash counter. I don't see that guy often, but Tony always has some positivity and a genuine smile to share. He has always been that way - even since he was a visor-wearing, young kid in my cabin at IAWAH with a penchant for Drama.

What an album BL is - I mean, everything I know about KK has always been fairly complimentary, but wow. This record is blowing my mind. Recurring themes of shadows and forgotten characters. The sadness. The intrigue. The honesty. And the artwork. A song like 'Somebody Nobody Knows' sets you back in your steps with lines like -

Alone in a barroom a young girl is sitting
And smiling at nothing at all
And she stares now and then at the eyes of the men
In the mirror that hangs on the wall

She's waiting for someone and knowing there's no one
Who cares if she comes or she goes
Just a soul in the shadows the world never sees
She's somebody nobody knows

Someone no one's ever known
Crying where no one can hear
Somebody's dying alone
In a city where nobody cares 

You can't help but be drawn in, because the cover and a song like that make you realize something:

Those eyes have seen things. 

The more and more I live, and the more air I draw into my lungs, I see suffering in this world. Pain. Agony. Depression. Loneliness. Young Death. It's apparent and it's an obvious undercurrent beneath the streets of our busy lives - like the evil slime in Ghostbusters 2. We all sort of know it's there, but we draw away from it. We jerk the wheel, and pull on to the side street to try and avoid it, but the main drag is still ready for our weary tires. I just found out news from a friend, who I used to spend a fair amount of time with - and that news is that his wife has ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with it at the ripe age of 26. Twenty fucking Six. God. I saw a picture of her online beside him, and she looked so different, and so frail, and I felt so sick inside. So helpless.

What do we do with that? What does he do? What do they do?

And I get worried when I don't swallow my food properly. Or when my right hand takes a little bit longer to get warm than my left hand. Fuck. This life is so fleeting, and if we don't make every moment count, and take stock of what we have, and count the reasons why we are lucky and blessed, we are going to get trampled by the bull rush when the suffering comes. We will look around at every potential opportunity with a glass half-empty attitude, and we will wonder why we don't have more. We will pour out our unguided, misdirected hatred on to others without looking inward first.

I'm going to try to live out what I can while I can. Celebrate more. Pray more. Laugh more. And let the sadness come when it comes, and just be there for those who I love.

I wish the same for you, friends. Count your blessings. Suffer along those who suffer. Laugh when laughter is needed, and cry when crying is accepted.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Fear And The Fog



Tonight, on an early December afternoon, I took a moment to stop the schedule and just write. Let my thoughts out on the loose. Into the wild, untethered winter air. There's been a lot going on, friends - and I don't just mean in my life, but in the lives of so many around the hurting globe that it's humbling to think of it all and try and pay homage to the horror and the beauty in my meager, oft-short-falling words. 

This season is an insane one for me. I don't stop. I jag. I move. I take side roads. I choose the short path. I get to where I need to be and I go. 

There's a million ways to look at this life. Maybe even more than that. To some, it's a blessing. They pop out from birth into wet, frightening humanhood with a smile and Jiminy Cricket attitude. They pump their fists and say 'oddsmakers be damned', and they forge their path. 

To others, this life is the infidel, and from day one - whether it is imagined or real - this life is a curse. It's a constant virus that stays dormant in the lungs of your consciousness. They see enemies. They see others wanting what they want, and they compete and they scratch and they claw and make backwards progress - like a running back trying to fight off four linemen twice his size. 

I hate guns. I always have. Sure, I've played with pellet guns with a few friends for country shits and giggles, but anytime an unsafe ness was felt, those injury machines got holstered. 

When I see all of the beauty around me, I find it so hard and so maddening and so motherfucking unfair that people who I don't even know - music loving people much like me - were slain by the bullets of automatic weaponry. 

There is enough shit in this world without cowards who open fire on rooms of unsuspecting souls. Cancer. Famine. Depression. Anxiety. Suicide. 

From these hellish moments, our existence will indicate how we move forward. We will either look to blame others, or we will look inward. And we might even drop the blame - like a smoking gun from another timeline that we've willfully chosen to forget about. 

I don't know much, but I know that you need to know what you have. And where you have it. And to let the gratitude wash over you like a late day winter sunset that pinks up a cold blue sky into a technicolor explosion of warmth and memory. And yes - there will be fog. There will be hurt. And more hard times. And even probably more guns. But hopefully, we can move through the fog - and take on the unknown with a reckless abandon that says 'fuck the unknown and all of the hidden gun toting fear mongers, because they will not get me'. 
And hell, I may have found someone to move through the fog with. We might even dance right through it. 

In any case, I just felt the need to let my pen bleed. Let's push on, and blow up the clock and the hate-bank and find the real currency. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

When The Writing Needs To Happen



It doesn't have to be meaningful, or text-filled, or brimming with symbolism and metaphoric wizardry.

Sometimes, the words just need to come. Simply. Easily. Without structure. We need to slow down and realize that the work will get done. We take a lot on, and we try and bear through and push ourselves to impossible heights. We stretch ourselves thin. Like not enough peanut butter over too much bread. We don't take the time to rest.

I think sometimes I feel anxious in order to become aware in a heightened fashion - and because I need to zone in, in such an intense and comfortable way, just to know that there is more shit happening on this globular mud mass than Matt's feelings and experiences. I feel bad for friends in need. Friends who are suffering. Family members with pain in their bodies. And in their hearts. Members of our communities who don't get to have a release point. People getting shot. By pieces of gunpowder and metal and glass.

Anxiety is a fickle bitch. It's never on time. It doesn't give you warning. It's like a flakey soul who shows up last minute and dominates a conversation.

As I sip a fresh brewed caffeinated beverage at my dad's office in Ottawa, I need to remember that I have a lot to be thankful for. I really do. I've lived a full life to this point, and like Olden, I have done the things. The sun cascades in and falls on the client chairs in my dad's chamber, and I realize that in a very real way, this life is not really mine. I can do what I want to do with the time that I have, but it will all end. It will all come down.

I can't leave this vessel, until I leave it in a way that no one has come back to write about.

The great beyond.

I'm somewhat scared, but I have to believe that it's pretty great. I think somedays that I'll be able to have a sticky bun with my Grandpa, and hear him chuckle so deeply, and ask him about the stories that involved his brother being involved with the Al Capone mafia. I also wonder if I can share a ginger ale with my grandma, and talk with her about all of the people she entertained at her beautiful canal-side Glebe, open-door house. Maybe I'll ask Jay about what songs he's been working on, and share a smoke and talk about our mutual friends from Halifax. And then I'd make sure to say hey to Tommy, even though I don't know him, to say hi for the many I know and love that miss him, and take a knee while he told me some wild detailed stories. And I can fill Dale in on all of the Beau's beers that have surfaced lately (as he was a big fan of his hometown brew) and all of the great movies that have come out since he's been gone, but how his choices are probably still the best. And I'll go find Farley. And Bukowski. And S. Thompson. And Candy. And Cash. And we'll have a steak dinner and some fine cognac. And we can laugh raspily through cigarette coughs.

Winter is on its way. May you and I and all of us take the time to look in, and to look out.

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