Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Threshold #1: Vancouver has a drug problem.
Threshold #2: Vancouver has a poverty problem.
Threshold #3: Vancouver's real estate market is "healthy".
Threshold #4: Some of my favourite people are leaving. People whose company I haven't properly made time to enjoy. It's starting to feel like Regina all over again, with all the things I like, all the things that make me want to feel engaged with my surroundings getting further and further out of reach.
Yesterday, I crossed the bridge and looked back at my neighbourhood from the other side. I sat there in Yaletown until it rained, and then I sat there some more. I covered my novel (the one I was reading, not the one I'm writing--I feel I have to make the distinction sometimes, esp. when uttering the phrase "I'm almost done my novel", that one will mean the novel I'm reading for some time yet) with newspaper and watched the women with ridiculous dogs head for cover. Then I made tracks myself when it started to hail. There was even thunder, which is rare here, and made me long for the dramatic thunderstorms of the plains. I thought about the night we sat under the Broadway Bridge, watching a sheet lightning light up the Meewasin Valley. I thought about all of our secret places in Saskatoon, about how wide open the city was when we were young and couldn't get in to bars.
I think about Saskatoon, I've been invited back for a visit. An old friend is getting married. We are all old friends now. I think about what Roger said to me, a little over a year ago at a house party in a single-unit, unattached home: "I'm old, bald and married. What do I have to lose?" I'm not as old, not as bald, and not as married as Roger, but I'm getting there. I'm getting there. I'm finding the security of self-knowledge, the inner saintliness of being who I know I am. The freedom of having made a few good choices and of having been the object of someone else's good choices.
I still act in poor judgment, the four stitches at the top of my head are proof of that, but I'm getting there.
I'm getting there.
mp3: "Threshold" by Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
But finally, I remembered. At first I thought they were called "Stoner Jam", but that's just the name of one of their songs and the name of their neglected blog. It's nearly, but not quite, an accurate description of the band. For one, the songs are way too short to be considered jams. For two, the songs are way too short to be considered stoner.
The name of the band is Blood on the Wall. And Timmy was right. They are all kinds of kick-ass. They were on tour with Black Mountain earlier this year (which might be how Timmy came across them, I don't know, I forgot to ask), and they kinda remind me of a cross between Dinosaur Jr. and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with a bit of the Kills, which, um yeah, would veer them sorta into stoner jam territory.
They've got a new album out called Liferz, and they're going to be in Vancouver on April 22 (that's a week from RIGHT NOW) at Pat's Pub. See you there, Timmy!
mp3: "Hibernation" by Blood on the Wall
mp3: "Lightning Song" by Blood on the Wall
Saturday, April 19, 2008
When I was forced to move to Regina at age 15, Dave's shop (then a Records on Wheels) was the first place I went after I signed up for high school. Othen than school and eventually workplaces, I doubt I spent more time in Regina outside of my home anywhere else but X-Ray.
I still remember that first visit. I didn't buy anything, but I saw lots that I wanted. There was a black t-shirt with art from Lou Reed's Transformer album on the wall, in the high north corner at the front. I wanted it so bad, and eventually guilted my mother into buying it for me about a week later. After all, I'd been sooooo traumatized by the move. (As if, I saw an opportunity and exploited it.)
When I wore that shirt to my new school for the first time, everybody knew where I stood on the Lou Reed issue. I made a lot of friends because of that shirt. Let's see, there was the guy with the Lenny Bruce shirt, the guy with the Mudhoney shirt, and the guy with the KISS shirt. We all knew where one another stood. On one of my weekend visits back to Saskatoon, I wore the shirt when I saw a band called I Am Joe's Lung (featuring a guitarist who would go on to play in Vancouver's Nasty On) at the Unitarian Centre. Midway through their set, they played a cover of "Sweet Jane" and I looked at the singer and pointed to my shirt, so that he would know where I stood on the issue.
I didn't buy a lot of other shirts from Dave (though I did buy a really sweet Jon Spencer Blues Explosion t-shirt with a blue naked lady on the front with my first paycheque from my first post-high school job--selling time-share vacations in the basement of the Travelodge). But I did buy a lot of music there. I even bought an album from him the day before I moved to Vancouver. Even though Dave's the kind of friend you end up giving money to almost every time you hang out with, I always looked forward to heading over to X-Ray whenever I could. For a while, I actually had to walk by the store on my way home from work. That was awesome. I got a lot of great music outta that.
My favourite way of shopping at X-Ray was to spend about 90 minutes looking through the racks and then picking out something based purely on how bad-ass the cover art was. Dave would always be able to tell all kinds of stuff about the album and nine times out of ten, it was awesome. I got a lot of wicked blues and jazz albums that way. I also bought a lot of stuff based on recommendations from either Dave or the handful of dudes who occasionally worked there.
Dave was also always real supportive and encouraging of my writing, even in the early days when I sucked even more than I do now.
From the way I'm talking, it sounds like Dave's not there anymore, but guess what? He is. If you're in Regina today, stop in and chew the fat. Buy a damn record for a change. He'll probably be watching the Jays on his laptop. Tell him Mathesoy says hey.
mp3: "Save Yourself" by the Make-Up
mp3: "Blossom (Got to Get it Out)" by Komeda
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Keith Maurik is in a few scenes in Greg and Gentillon, but Keith Carman has a pretty large role, in which he not only shines, but gets across the exact impression I got of him the one time I met him face to face (when Max RNR played the Gaslight Saloon in Regina a few years ago): a sincerely nice guy who plays really loud music.
mp3: "I Hate the Cold" by Maximum RNR
Aside from making Keith Carman look good, and providing lots of laffs (especially the fight in the alley), Greg and Gentillon also, surprisingly, made Toronto look really good. Not as good as the Scott Pilgrim books make it look, but, hmmm, Toronto. It's a city that looks not bad. Of all the outdoor scenes in Hogtown, it only rained once. Something to think about.
In the meantime, Vancouver's not so awful. Unless you count the staggering housing costs and consequential epidemic of homelessness (an aside, Frances Bula's City States blog at the Vancouver Sun website is pretty great). But the Black Angels are coming on June 10, and they're bringing the Warlocks! The Black Angels' new album Directions To See A Ghost is out today for your digital downloading, and will be in finer record stores on May 13. If you liked Passover...mp3: "Science Killer" by the Black Angels
finally, an update on some bands we've previously covered here at ABWAWBA:
Jesse Matheson and the Midnight Snacks will be releasing their brand new CD Pleasure Pounds this Saturday, April 19 at Rime in Vancouver.
The Fake Fictions will be releasing their brand new CD Krakatoa this Friday, April 18 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago.
If you can make it to both shows, you are well on your way to awesomeness.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I've got a few submissions from musical people sitting in my inbox, but haven't really been making/taking the time to listen to them and figure things out. Working. Writing. Posing for pictures. Thinking about the future. Working towards it.
Wade over at Signal Response has launched a new feature called Today. It's kinda like Twitter, but also not. Wade also recently linked to a conversation between ABWAWBA fave Douglas Wolk and David Hadju, author of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. I would like to read that book, and I'm sure that one day I will.
Who do I call at Universal Music to come pick up those Hawksley Workman Christmas albums?
I finished Ian Rankin's Strip Jack earlier this week. My fourth Rebus novel. I'm not sure how I liked it. It definitely takes for granted that you are already interested in Rebus and his environs, since the crime angle is not quite as interesting or thrilling as in the other books. I mean, there's not even a corpse until page 65. The character work, however, is very enjoyable and makes the book worth reading for if you're into the series.
Taking a break from Rebus and Edinburgh, I've launched into Dan Fesperman's latest, The Amateur Spy. I suppose it's only a matter of time before we start seeing terrible movies based on Fesperman's excellent novels.
As you already know, we're going to see Wanda Sykes tomorrow night. This is doubly good because A) I like Wanda Sykes and B) it means I'm not going to be at work tomorrow night. It's not that I don't like being at work, it's just that I like not being at work even more.
Walking home last night/this morning, I saw many bats. In the stillness of pre-dawn Vancouver, they seemed huge, but not terrifying like they can seem in the August night out at Buffalo Pound Lake.
Is there a sweeter song in all of jazzdom than Roland Kirk's "The Creole Love Call"? I doubt it. If I was forced by some bizarre new federal law intended to impose someone else's warped morality on the nation insiduously tacked on to an Income Tax amendment to only listen to one artist for the rest of my earthly days, I would probably pick Roland Kirk. So far, no such law exists, but with this government, anything's possible. Eric Dolphy's "Iron Man" is pretty wicked, but not exactly sweet in the same way.
mp3: "The Creole Love Call" by Roland Kirk
mp3: "Iron Man" by Eric Dolphy
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Ron Petrie meditates on the "The Mystery of the Wayward Grocery Cart". It's probably my favourite thing that I've read in the Leader-Post in 7 years. It kinda makes me homesick. Anyway, I think it's just plain old brilliant.
Bryan Lee O'Malley speaks ! NPR's Fair Game talks to the creator of Scott Pilgrim. If you've yet to read Scott Pilgrim, check it out here for free.
Can anyone truly own Superman?
(Speaking of which, springtime is here, and that means my birthday is fast approaching. Need ideas for a gift?)
Just when you think the Sask Party couldn't smell worse (I'm thinking of the 40 or so Google-hits this blog has rec'd over the last six weeks for the search terms Ken Love Saskatchewan Party), Larry Spencer starts offering them advice. Ouch.
[music content deleted at artist's request]