Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Man's Land

Sometimes, I get the sneaking suspicion that I just don't fit into many categories.
Past a certain age and not being mind-shackled into any specific profession
or job, there is a certain sort of stigma that gets attached to the fabric of
my being.

No one wants to be that guy - it just happens.

But I figure that if I really put enough time into searching out what I truly
want to do - and if I acquiesce through the leagues of shit that come with
living in an ageist society - and if I spend the time with friends and family
(time that actually means something that can't be expressed in diction
or monetary value)...well then, I figure I'll be alright.

I had a gold time with an old friend recently - A friend who I'd missed dearly.
She has a way of listening and being open that comes with no pre-conceived
high-morality or judgment of any kind. She brightens the dark corners.
She laughs and smiles in a way that only she can - she glows warmth.
She is a friend who I've known a long while (18+ years) and who I
wouldn't have thought would become such a good friend...but she has.

It's those friends that mean something. They mean what we can't formulate.
It's like a sentence on the edge of a pen but that just will not translate on

Last week, I spent time with another good friend. We went for a country
drive down a backwoods dirt road and got lost for a few hours while
listening to Tom Petty. We smoked cheap cigarettes and laughed under
one of the brightest moons I've seen in ages. He is a hick and a rocker.
And I love him.

I suppose that ultimately, I don't mind being that guy - because that guy
is who I am. Fuck what people say or think. People, for the most part,
are scared, reactive, judgmental, selfish and unintelligent. A person,
though, is smart, thoughtful, listening and helpful.

I am that guy.
Bring it on.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Ain't My Knucka

I think my first inklings of wanting to run a record label started
when I was into Digital Underground. I had never found or listened
to a posse of rhymers so strong, prophetic, work-centric and
as diverse as their whole entourage seemed to be. But of all of their
offshoots (Tupac included), I'd have to say that Raw Fusion's
'Live From The Styleetron' was a record like none other. Money
B's idyllic yet youthful voice and quick tongued delivery made
for an incredible experience. Tracks like 'Rockin to the PM', 'Nappy
Headed Ninja' and 'Funkintoyoear' are still in my memory banks
to this day. That's some powerful muzack, yo.

The whole idea of the album stemmed from a conceptual machine
called 'The Styleetron' that was powered by DJ Fuse. Fuse had the
ability to create amazing samples and magical music for Money
B to rhyme on with the wizardry of the Styleetron.

I loved that Digital Underground did their own thing and to this
day, there hasn't been an act in hip-hop or rap even close to their
weird, unique flavour and ability to create potent side projects.

Why is it, then, in indie music (in which some great, powerful,
original and creative music is seeping out from) that nearly every
fucking up and comer indie band that comes out
these days has to have an animal name in their title?
Whale Tooth. Grizzly Bear. Elephant. Said The Whale. Fleet
Foxes. Band Of Horses. Cat Power. Arctic Monkeys. Animal
Collective. We Are Wolves. Wolf Parade. Wolfmother.
The Eels. The Mountain Goats. Minus The Bear.
The Octopus Project. Thunderbirds Are Now!
Department of Eagles. Modest Mouse. The Reindeer Section.
Deerhoof. Super Furry Animals.

Please stop the unoriginal ideas.

Be original.

Be like Raw Fusion.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Flounder
I had a good chat with an old friend this morning. It seemed to
be the right focus that was needed to angle the lens of my
day. Lately, I've been having a lot of anxiety. Stress. Worry.
General concern. I wake up an hour after falling asleep and
I feel like I need to be doing something. Money is tight.
Adventures are proving harder and harder to muster up and
they usually always require monetary funds of some sort.
I feel my muscles tighten even when I don't want them to.
I check my bank account nervously.

It's a rough time.

But I guess the thing is (especially right now as Kathryn Calder
is singing to me in the background), it could always be worse
and though some think that expression is somewhat
masochistic, I think masochism is willfully beating yourself
up. Sometimes, even a change of focus is great for the psyche.

I'm not saying I have the answers - I'm just saying talking to
this friend helped.

I spend a lot of time alone these days. Here in Port Hope. On
the campus of this little private school. Watching the weather
through windows. Wondering about the future. Contemplating
the past. Watching shows online (lately, The Wire is sucking
me down a deep, dark rabbit hole). Tired. Wishing I had
money for a fine pitcher of ale. Wishing I had more money
saved and less debt. Wanting.


I've never had a come-down like this fall so far.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beauty In The Mundane
Oh Bloggy. You soft, warm pet. How I mistreat you. How I abandon

And yet - no matter how long I leave you, you welcome my rhythmic
hands and magical word births with open arms and a blank page.

I don't deserve you.

The other night, I spent some time with my new friend Cliff. Cliff
is a 65 year old, crotchety man who writes his own published poetry
and who actually taught at the University of Guelph while I was a
student there. How bizarre is that? I never had him as a professor.
On this particular night (Monday, to be precise), Cliff and I took in
junior hockey game in Cobourg. Yes - Junior Hockey exists everywhere -
even Cobourg. For most of the game, Cliff and I watched in silence from
a special section of the rink where you can actually see the whole
arena. The Cobourg Cougars were playing the Trenton Golden Hawks.
Cobourg won 4 to 1. The game definitely got chippy at times and
though none of the players on either of these teams have much in
the way of NHL dreams anymore, they still fought. They still
skated hard. They played their guts out in a tiny arena (that is
actually so small that it's almost impossible for either team to get
a breakaway).

During a break, Cliff and I walked up to the decent sized snackbar
where I bought a brown bag full of popcorn for $1.50. Cliff, donning
his intellectual/bad-ass brown leather jacket and with somewhat of
a pony tail (although the pony tail elastic was so low that it was
almost falling out of his hair), noticed a VIP section that had a sort
of bar and some decent looking food. A large sign said 'VIP's only'.
Cliff spotted a ticket lady at a banquet hall table and knocked on
the table, getting her attention. 'How do you become a VIP?' Cliff
asked innocently enough, snapping the ticket lady out of her
slathery slumber. 'Um...' she began, nervously '...I'm...not...sure?'
Her statement was almost a question. Cliff began walking away
after shrugging his shoulders and I followed, smiling at the lady.
She reached out towards him 'I...can find out for you? I'm sorry-
it's my first night here.' she said, huffily and sweaty. 'No, no.'
Cliff chipped back. 'I wanted YOU to know the answer. And you
didn't. That's okay.' He chuckled a bit, raspily, smiling at her.
She seemed puzzled as we descended the marble stairs and went
back to our seats.

These days, I find myself unsure of things ahead but resting well.
I think I'm overtired from late summer nights, a recent trip to
Ottawa and the Shelter Valley Folk Fest (an experience I'll most
likely never forget). I've spent two full days in the past week and
a half recording new music - laying foundations for albums that
are in the works. I guess I'm pursuing what I need to pursue.
The fall weather is doing a number on my psyche this year. I
found that for a while, the fall excited me as I knew that a new
year was starting (in most of my friends lives) and that I didn't
have to take any courses and could do whatever I wanted. Doing
that and living that style of life has its limits - I may be reaching

I'm trying to make a go of it here - deep in Northumberland
County. Had a great phone convo with my best friend Brian from
PEI last night for the first time in a while.

My workspace (inside the tiny little office of our apartment) is
far more functional than it was last year (thanks to Sarah's mass-
cleaning efforts) so I plan to make good use of it.

More to come.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Shelter Me

Deep in the hills of Northumberland County, there is a tradition that
has taken place since 2004 called the Shelter Valley Folk Festival.
This was my first year even attending - let alone volunteering.
I was a Performer Services lead with a very funny man named Cliff
Bell-Smith. Cliff's favourite words are ones that I can't mention on
this website. Working with Cliff was invigorating - he worked hard
and was on the ball when he needed to be but he could also take a
joke (like when I told him someone took a dump backstage on the
gear - I thought he was gonna bust a kidney laughing). Cliff
would fart constantly while talking to people (as they moved out
of earshot) and aim the farts at me. I spent a good chunk of the
weekend trying to make him laugh or laughing myself.

Favourite Cliff quotes from the weekend:

"If they don't start to get some damn meat into the volunteer food,
I'm gonna throw a raccoon into the fuckin' pot of chili"

"Please don't say the word 'alcove' - that's as a bad as saying 'c*nt'"

(in the direction of a tie-dye-robed, sorcerer hat wearing, crooked
cane walking man who played the flute for several hours and then
shook his cane at the sky in anger) "Did you see that clown wizard
guy? What a fucking moron"

I also made some new friends (who just happened to be performers) -
JP Hoe and his backup singers Hayley and Kendra (who also happen
to be Fred Penner's daughters). Our humour
was similar from the get-go and within five minutes of knowing
each other, JP was telling me to come by his tent and have some
Jack Daniels from his family size bottle.

I feel much like Frodo at the end of Lord Of The Rings - 'Stretched
thin - like not enough butter scraped over too much bread.' My
shoulders and back are pretty sore from all of the gear-carting,
wagon-pulling, instrument lifting and tent assembling &
disassembling. I could sleep for 24 hours.

Wind and rain.
Sore bones.
Many walks and jogs up and down the massive hilly terrain.
Dehydration headache.
Wet socks that never dry.
Campfire stink in my hair and beard.
This shower feels like heaven.
Fred Eaglesmith tremolo.
The stars came out in full bloom during LAL.
Vegetarian food with little flavour.
Way too much bread.
A burger that tasted like God's candy.
Laughing way too much with Hales, Japes and Kendubs.
Taylor getting pulled up to dance by Ariana Gillis.
Lamplady yelling at others to share by the campfire.
Hope sprung for 72 hours.
Double rainbows after storms.
Torrential downpour.
Torrential downpour.
A bottle of Jameson getting passed around.
Aengus' last year & moving speech.
Sheesham talking with me about Dylan and Petty.
Lotus with a wrecked back forcing out the joy.
Crowded backstage area.
Taylor guitars.
Cover the monitors in garbage bags.
Gospel singing with Ken Whiteley.
Whiskey and wine.
Tents getting rocked by wind in the night.
Cold sleep with bundles of blankets.
Dry socks are the key to the universe.
'Matt to Cliff, what's your 20?'
Lying flat in a real bed for the first time in 72 hrs.
Leaving the circus.

It's a new fall. I'm a new man - made new by experience, work and
joy. I'm going to be doing a lot more recording of music and writing/
documenting this year. I may go broke in the process. Watch out.

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