Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wasted Breath, Wasted Time

The Decay played their last show last night, despite being "broken up" for over a year or so. A whole bunch of people combined eulogizing blurbs and statements to commemorate the occasion and though I meant to contribute one myself, I missed the occasion and didn't have to opportunity to contribute anything the "RIP Decay" zine that was given out at the show. Given the huge role that the band played in my life, I would feel awful if I didn't do something along the same lines.

Since I'm not from Kitchener-Waterloo and only moved here recently, I can't pretend that The Decay were a huge institution and one of the first bands I saw live. My first experience with them was downloading This Month's Rent when it was put up by Juicebox. I took to it instantly and couldn't believe that a band this good came from my area. I saw them a little while after that and while I thought they were great, it was nowhere near the appreciation that I eventually held for them after seeing them dozens of times and understanding what these people put into these songs. I'm truly privileged to call the band my friends. This isn't about waxing nostalgic about a band I used to see or thinking about my own development in life. This is about one of my favourite fucking bands in the world stopping.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The IMU 2014 Musical Revue

I have a long (not really) and complicated (not at all) history with year-end music lists*. I used to look forward to writing a lot and considered them the marquee moment of the year here on IMU. Then I got a little jaded and tried to play off their importance and last year I didn't even do one^. You know what? Looking back on the year that was is fun, so here we fucking go. 2014 year-end music list. Hold on to your butts.

First off, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my band Beat Noir put out our first full-length this year. It is free here. If you would like a physical copy or a t-shirt, they are here.

All right, here's all the stuff I liked from this year:

Riff Raff- Neon Icon
All hail RiFF RaFF. If you aren't down, you're just TOO BASiC TOO UNDERSTAND AND i CAN'T FIX THAT.

Hard Girls- A Thousand Surfaces
The song-writing on this album is fucking next level. The album's sound is coherent enough that you can immediately tell they are a part of the same collection of songs, but different enough to separate themselves. The riffs, oh lord the riffs. It's a guitar manifesto for the ages.

You Blew It!- Keep Doing What You're Doing
I've always just kind of dabbled in twinkle, but got real into this year. This release has all the riffs and all the angst you need, stuffed together in a poppy package that I've been revisiting constantly this year.

Antartico Vespucci- Soulmate Stuff
I've always been a Fake Problems fan and obviously am devoted to the church of Rosenstock as well. This one has songs that make me feel things about the person I'm currently with ("100 Years", both parts) as well as people I used to be with ("I'm Giving Up On U2"). This was probably my most played release during the summer.

(It is free at that link.)

Hostage Calm- Die On Stage

I was a huge fan of Please Remain Calm, so I was pretty hyped on what Hostage Calm would do next. The band keeps going with the power-pop they started with on the last album and really go all-in here. This isn't big of an idea as PRC, but I won't complain about a great power-pop record in 2014.

YG- My Krazy Life

I love west coast rap. I love G-Funk. This record is pretty much all of my favourite parts of rap music in one place. A perfect balance of great beats, humour and to quote YG "mothafuckin' gangsta shit". This probably one of my favourite rap releases ever and it is hard for me to find a way to describe it without sounding like the whitest dude ever.

Wayfarer- Sleep Through To The Light

Don't tell Kyle I like his songs. He'll probably make fun of me.

The Hotel Year*- Home, Like No Place Is There

A damn good release. It didn't really hit me like their last one did, but a really well thought-out album and great collection of songs front to back.

The Both- The Both

I was confused why more of my friends weren't into this release, considering how many of them like Ted Leo. Here he collabs with Aimee Mann and the results are fucking stellar. A bunch of guitar-driven (obvi, it's fuckin' Ted Leo) pop songs. I like it as a substitute for a Pharmacists record because it's different enough to be something new, but also has enough guitar godding to tide you over until the next Ted Leo release. Also, Aimee Mann is really fucking good at writing songs.

Lights- Little Machines

I didn't expect to like a Lights record this much, but here we are. It's catchy and it's a great pop record.

Puig Destroyer- Puig Destroyer

Baseball-themed powerviolence/grindcore written by some stat-minded SABR nerds. Gimmick bands aren't supposed to work this well.

Moldmaker- Dark Chambers Demo

I'm really sad that more people will never get the chance to see this band because it's basically The Decay with two lead guitars and a wall of noise that somehow even bigger than The Decay's.

(Free at that link)

Junior Battles- Rally

A great followup to the wonderful Idle Ages. Different enough to set it apart from the album that came before it, but still sounds like Junior Battles. This definitely has some of their best songs.

Joyce Manor-Never Hungover Again

One of my favourite parts of Joyce Manor was they were able to take the harshest parts of 80's hardcore and combine them with pop-punk in a way that doesn't diminish either. Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired was an extremely ballsy second album and is something that I didn't really get until this year. Never Hungover Again is by far their poppiest album, but the change in sound pays off, as I love all the songs on this release.

The Bruce Lee Band- Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend

Being a huge ska, it really sucks that the amount of relevant releases per year is pretty minimal. B ut when a band who puts something out roughly once every ten years returns out of nowhere to put out a rock-solid ska-punk release I get so giddy that I can't even deal. Why can't this happen more? Also, JESSE MICHAELS SINGS ON ONE OF THE TRACKS!

The Canyon Rays- West Coast Babes

This one came out of nowhere. They were described on bandcamp as equal parts Beach Boys and Katy Perry and while that isn't the perfect description, it's pretty close. Full band pop music that's as heavy on dreamy synths as it is hooks. Great bass playing too.

Alvvays- Alvvays

I was listening to this while skateboarding to work one day this summer. A woman drove through an intersection when she wasn't supposed and almost destroyed me, as I was going full-tilt. I gave her the finger and yelled "What the fuck?!" When I got to work I told the kids what happened and they asked if I swore and I said no, but winked to some of the older kids so they would know that I did and think I'm cool. This has been a story from my life that involves the Alvvays album in some way.

It was a great year for music.

*I use cliches (damn my lack of shortcut knowledge) a lot. I like to think that they are a signature aspect of writing, even in school. But I also like to think that I use them in more of a Dan Harmon way, than a US remake of Lol way. Do you hate my cliches? Too bee-ad, because I love 'em.

^IMU: On Music. The Essential Year-End Lists of I, Musical Genius. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012 I thought I had previous ones up on here as well. Know that 2006 and 2007's respective #1's were The Arrogant Sons of Bitches' Three Cheers for Disappointment and We Are The Union's Who We Are. Two big time jammers.

*Yeah, I'm gonna be that dick who reinforces that he liked the band when they had their original name.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'd Be Sure Not To Change At All

Last night I went to go see Less Than Jake on their current Canadian tour. Given their recent full-length See the Light, which I wasn't impressed with, I went into the show with a few reservations. It had been a long time since I had been to a ska show, let alone one in Toronto (the last ones I can remember going to were some lackluster Big D and the Kids Table and Streetlight Manifesto ones), so I was really unsure about how the show would be.

The Interrupters were the first opening band and the extent of my knowledge of them was that they recently signed to Hellcat. As soon as they started the entire crowd rushed down and immediately started skanking then didn't stop for the entire set, which really warmed my heart. The band was super tight and all great at their instruments, but they did leave a little to be desired. And their lyrics were super bad. But seeing all of the kids go nuts for them immediately brought me back to when I was that kid and dancing for the entire set.

The rest of the bands were amazing and the energy in the building was fucking stupid (Big D played "Myself", "Checklist" and "LAX" all in a row!) (I crossed three more songs off of my "Songs I Need To See Less Than Jake Play Live" checklist! Including "Anchor"!), but what really got to me was being back in the Toronto ska scene and thinking about the effect that it's had on my life.

In  Kitchener the music scene is directed much more towards hardcore, in all of its forms, than anything else and the only ska band in the area is The Bosswich. As a result, there isn't much of a ska scene there at all and no bigger bands ever tour through the town (Not that bigger bands of any genre ever really tour through the area to begin with). Because of this, I've felt like an anomaly and a bit of an outsider in the town, being the only ska fan there. It's not like I'm the only person there who listens to ska bands, lots of people listen to a select few (You really gonna front that Operation Ivy isn't one of the best bands of all-time? What do you think about The Clash's ska songs?), but I'm certainly the only person whose main identifier is "ska fan".

Because of this, I've noticed certain differences between hardcore and ska scenes and also those who grew up participating in each. Something I've certainly noticed is that there is an innate sense of elitism in hardcore. Everybody listens to something better than you, more obscure than you and everybody looks down on you for something, whatever it may be. Case in point is everyone in Kitchener looking down their nose at me for listening to ska . Sure, I know that they are mostly doing it in jest and I know that it's not at all a sign of them not liking me, but it certainly is based in a very real feeling of how much the music I like sucks.

This is something that I never encountered in ska. Sure, last night I saw a guy in a fedora and a bow tie, but for the most part it's just people like me and they have always proved to be much more accepting than other music scene I've been a part of.

For example, last night I wore my mu330 shirt that I purchased during their run of shows in Canada for the first time in while in 2013.  My thinking was having a rarer shirt from a more obscure band at the show would prompt people to compliment me on it, or at least notice it. You know how many people did? 0. Nobody gave a fuck what I was wearing.

Because of this, I think that the ska scene was really instrumental in me becoming the person I am and also my outlook on life. Earlier yesterday, my dad was talking about how he and his friends used to go downtown on weekends to roam around Yonge St, similar to what my friends and I did, with his mom worrying loads about him. I'm sure the same thing happened with my mom, actually definitely happened with my mom. But while she probably thought I was getting drunk at shows and staying out late, in reality I was in a very safe environment and had something really productive to go and do. Also, it directly led to me playing bass more and playing in bands, which has been a huge creative outlet in my life.

Mostly, I find that everyone who gives ska a bad rap are people who have never been exposed or involved in a scene in any way.

And fuck that. It's been real important to me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Things That I Really Like, But It Seems Like Most Other People Don't Like And I Think If People Just Gave It A Shot They Would Also Really Like Or At Least Appreciate: Harvey Danger

A lot of the time, I look back through my writing on this blog and very pleased with how I've written things, or at least think I did a good job and can appreciate where I was in my life at that point. But sometimes I look back and think "Tim, you were trying a little hard there dude." One such instance of that was my "Under The Radar" series I started writing last year*, which I now realize is a dumb name. Maybe I'm being too critical? It seems dumb to me right now, so that's why I gave the above title instead. I'M TRYING TO BE FUNNY AND PURPOSEFULLY LONG-WINDED! We can call it TTIRLBISLMOPDLAITIPJGIASTWARLI for short!

Anyways, yesterday I posted a live video of Harvey Danger performing "Pike St/Park Slope" (the camera actually just stays on frontman Sean Nelson the entire time) because I just randomly came across it. As soon as I saw I was (plaindrome!) immediately compelled to share it on, which doesn't happen often, because it is just that good. That song has really become one of my all-time favourites since I heard King James Version for the first time last year.

That video sent me into a pretty big Harvey Danger youtube hole and the first thing I thought was "Man, it's been awhile since I've listen to Where have all the merrymakers gone? I should re-visit it soon." So I did just that today on my bus trip back to Guelph from Toronto.

This fucking album.

Like pretty most people who are familiar with Harvey Danger, my introduction to the band was their breakthrough hit single "Flagpole Sitta", which I heard through various 90's and "One-Hit Wonder" TV specials^. I was familiar with the song in my youth and I found that when I re-visited the material later on, I found that it was WAY better than I remember it being. This is starting to happen to me more and more. See: Mac, Fleetwood. Blind, Third Eye. Browne, Jackson.

On their 1994 Demo and merrymakers the band delivers the poppy alt-rock that was so huge in the 1990's, but their punk take on it, combined with little intricacies and a hell of a lot of intelligence completely separate the band from their peers. One description I've always found interesting was someone describing The Hold Steady as "the perfect bar band" and that was meant in the most complimentary sense possible. They're tight, the songs have riffs but never get too mathy and they have a charismatic storytelling frontman. I think that description works well here. But, in this case (and with the Hold Steady), it doesn't capture how totally the band was at the top of their game. The songs on merrymakers are pretty simple, never going much beyond 4 chords and a general verse/chorus plan, but it's really the little things.

A big thing for me is the bass, which I swear is really a big deal and not just me making a fuss because that's the instrument I play. The guitar on the record is pretty low in the mix compared to most rock releases and there isn't much in the way of leads (exception being the pre-verse solo on "Carlotta Valdez") sticking instead to overdriven open chords that, in my opinion, are absolutely essential to the sound. With the guitar taking a big of a backseat, the bass is HUGE. His tone is amazingly fuzzy and is constantly buzzing and filling out the sound. Since the band was always just a four piece and Nelson mostly stuck to just vocals, the bass fills up a whole bunch of room and plays SO MANY LEADS  and SO MANY CHORDS. The verse riff on "Private Helicopter"? The chords in "Problems and Bigger Ones"? Hell, even the minor little lick be plays at the end of every verse and chorus in "Flagpole Sitta" fucking makes the song. Lead bass can be a really tricky thing to handle correctly and it works absolutely perfectly here.

I've never been able to play the drums, so I often feel like I'm not an authority when discussing the instrument, but I will say that the focus on the snare on merrymakers really drives the album.

It's pretty much impossible to talk about Harvey Danger and not mention Sean Nelson's impact on the band. His voice, how he looks and his lyrics are certainly what everyone ties most to the band. For me, he represents a dying breed of frontman, whose own ideas and identity are pretty indistinguishable from those of the band. Nelson is Harvey Danger and Harvey Danger is Nelson. I know I went a pretty big rant about the bass playing up there, but the lyrics are absolutely the best part of this band and it's defining factor. On all of their releases you get the sense that Nelson is way too smart to be singing in a rock band and he is also aware of that fact. A lot of the songs on merrymakers communicate how much smarter Nelson is than every moron he has to deal with, but it manages to come off in a way that makes it relatable rather than detestable and he always equally critical of himself. Think of it as High Fidelity with Sean Nelson being a sharper Rob Gordon. Kind of dick, but a very relatable dick how you can't help but like and be drawn to.

Example from the one everybody knows, "Flagpole Sitta":

"I was looking into the mirror, to see a little bit clearer, the rottenness and evil in me."

"Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding. The cretins cloning and feeding and I don't even own a TV."

"Hear the voices in my head, I swear to God it sounds like they're snoring. But if you're bored then you're boring. The agony and the irony: They're killing me."

I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't notice how self-loathing the song was the first time I heard it. I heard it described as a "ultimate hockey anthem" on muchmoremusic when I was younger and that seems comical now.

After "Flagpole Sitta", "Private Helicopter" was released as the second single and completely flopped, which is funny because I was thinking how huge that song should have been while listening to the album today. When I saw Mikey Erg last year, he covered the song and I was the only person who knew it. Everybody looked at me like I was weird when I screamed the "But all told, I hold on to my anger far too long, until it's a joke, the night is cold, the joke is old and poorly told" bit.

So even though "Flagpole Sitta" propelled Where have all the merrymakers gone? to success, the follow-up King James Version suffered from getting lost in the shuffle at their record label and a few delays. Which sucks because the album is basically a bigger and more realized version of their debut. The band does what every band hopes to do, but so few actually succeed at: Make a second album that is different from the first but still keeps all of it's defining characteristics. The deceivingly simple riffs are still there, but they amp up the sound with a ton of piano (holy fuck does it work so well on "Meetings With Remarkable Men (Show Me the Hero)") and Nelson ups his game on the lyrics tenfold. It's chocked-full of allusions to everything and whereas merrymakers thrived on its angst-ridden tirades, this one sounds like you're being told to know better.

Example from the song I posted yesterday, "Pike St./Park Slope"

"Well, when you like something, it's an opinion. But when I like something, it's a manifesto. Pomposity is when you always think you're right. Arrogance is when you know."

Hot damn!

I think my favourite part of this band is that on the surface they seem like a rock band, but underneath they secretly presented counterculture ideas that are much more radical than what your typical punk band presents you with today. If most bands are the kid in a university class who puts up their hand to show off their knowledge, Harvey Danger are the kid at the back who silently picks apart everything they say in his head because they know better.

*In that I wrote one entry about The Stereo.

^It's happened to a whole lot of musicians, but if there was ever band who didn't deserved to be given this label, it is Harvey Danger.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


An all-time jam.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wake Up Dead

On Idolatry:

Building a person up and putting them on a pedastal can be very troubling, but it's also a bit of an inevitability. When you truly appreciate what a person does, especially creatively, it becomes impossible to separate their person from your own personal love of their creations. However, that love also creates a completely unrealistic expectation of what that person is like and when you find out they are not that person, your whole view of them comes crashing down. Worse is when that person does some awful and you are forced to reevaluate your relationship with them*. This happens to me in music, in sports, in television, in lots of things.

No, this is not what I think about Joyce Manor and stagedives.

I often write down blog ideas in a text note on my phone when I'm unable or too lazy to write them all out. Since I very rarely write blogs anymore, they start to pile up and I feel guilty about that. Also, I often have a huge idea for a blog, but forget the specific circumstance and context in which I got that idea and the prospective blog loses a lot of its steam as a result. One of these notes was about heavy metal fans and their relationship with Dave Mustaine. Well after the fact, I think that this idea of misplaced idolatry.

For the purpose of this blog I'm going to stick to music, because idolatry in sports is a whole fucking other thing. 

Everybody has their reasons and ways of liking who and what they do and why. For me personally, I try to separate the creator from their product, so that the created is something that I can still enjoy on its own. In the case I mentioned of Dave Mustaine/Megadeth it's because I love thrash metal. I love thrash and I love it mainly for the riffs. It is extremely rare you find a thrash song with good lyrics (The intro riff and solo there. Hoo-eee) and when they are good it often tends towards comedy/satire, so it is something that I don't stress too much about. I just want to hear fast music and a guitar player that plays real fast and then song does a chug part and I wave my head forwards and backwards. That's it!

With that reasoning, I kind of have to like Megadeth. They play really fast. The riffs are hard. The riffs are heavy. The (musical) songwriting is interesting. They are part of the "Big 4" and as a result influenced other thrash bands that I enjoy. But, they lyrics are so dumb that I often end up laughing at them. And the lyrics are supposed to be serious...

I mean, yo:

My amigo Duff once asked me if I liked the lyrics of Megadeth songs (lyrics are often the most important part of a band for me) and I said no. He said "Then why don't you listen to instrumental thrash?" and I said "Because it wouldn't be the same." I don't care about the content, but I just kind of need it there.

This is because this friend only listens to bands in which he can appreciate the individual behind the performance. I shouldn't say "only" because that's not the complete case, but I feel like that has more emphasis and what is closest to the truth. I don't think this is a bad thing at all. That is his way of approaching this issue and who am I to argue? Why do I care? Does it affect me?

No. In fact I appreciate Duff's stick-to-itiveness. It's a fine characteristic and most wouldn't do that.

But it's just different for me, I don't know why. I just really don't care that much.

So, in being a fan of Megadeth, I have to accept that all of the band's music is written by a tremendous asshole, because Dave Mustaine really is an asshole.

A good illustration of that is the band's "Behind the Music". I know that's a long video and most won't care, but I promise that it is a way better watch than it sounds. Up until the Rust in Peace part, that video is vintage Dave Mustaine.

What I'm trying to get at is that liking Megadeth, or any other band where the braintrust isn't necessarily an angel, can troublesome. If you're a heavy metal fan, and especially if you're a thrash fan, you pretty much have to like Megadeth because the music is really good, despite being written by one of music's all-time dillholes and this creates an interesting fan-artist relationship.

On one hand the stereotype of metal being drunk and high and stupid and only at the show to be angry and mosh is 100% true. When I was at Heavy T.O. in 2011, the crowd watching was actually one of my favourite parts (apart from Anthrax and Motorhead KILLING EVERYTHING), because it was amazing/hilarious to see that your typical meathead-metalhead is still alive and well. Obviously these type of people don't give a fuck about what Dave is saying. Hell, they probably think it's cool/intelligent/informed.

The title track from Megadeth first album, Killing is my Business...And Business is Good!

I am a snyper (?)
Always hit the mark
Paid assassin
Working after dark
Looking through the night
Using infra-red
My target on you
Aimed at your head
$10.000 up front
$10.000 when I'm through
And I know just what to do
And ya know I'll do it too
Then I'm coming back for you
Back for you!
I do the "getting rid of"
Don't tell me why
Don't need to hear the truth
Don't need the lies
Now pay me quickly
And now we're through
It brings me great pleasure
To say my next job is you
Don't you know that
Killing is my business
And business is good [repeat]
You'd better believe it

Is it critical? Is it satirical? Does Dave just think calling himself a "snyper" is cool? Is it all three? Only Dave knows!

On the other hand, there are obviously metal fans who are a little smarter and know Dave is a tool, but like him anyway. At that same Heavy T.O., Mustaine brought out the plaque for the band's most recent album at that time, Endgame, going gold. As he was walking out an audience member beside me yelled "Is that the ten commandments Dave?!", referencing the sudden and drastic conversion to Christianity by Mustaine in 2003. I laughed a lot.

Quote from Mustaine after his conversion: "To be the No. 1 rated guitar player in the world is a gift from God and I'm stoked about it, but I think Christ is better than I am, anyway,"       

What a guy!

I guess all I can give for the reason that myself and other people still like bands like this is that we're here for the riffs.

And Anthrax was way better live anyways.

*Relationship used very vaguely here. Ex. Me listening to an album is my "relationship" with that person.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pow, Suck On That. You Know?

I do not think it would be stretch for me to say that almost all of my friends think of me as the biggest Toronto Blue Jays fan that they know. The issue of my Jays fandom has been explored previously on this blog*, but it's been a little different this year and I haven't written about it in awhile.

This season has been different because it is the first season that I can remember when the Jays have been in contention. The Jays were at the top of the American League heap when I was born and I was only 5 during their historic 1994 collapse. I have very vague memories of them being great and in fact, the excitement of Joe Carter hitting his home run is one of my earliest memories (Did I just watch that entire video? You know I did. "Touch 'em all Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!" is bar-none, the greatest game call ever.). Since then it has been a very long history of disappointing seasons. A winning campaign here and there, but never coming within sniffing distance of the playoffs.

However, this season was entirely different. The club posted the best record in all of baseball during the month of May, due in large part to Edwin Encarnacion's month for the ages. They sat atop the American League East for a large chunk of the season and though they've since relinquished that spot to the Baltimore Orioles, they've still been within striking distance of the second wild card playoff spot. So if you were to measure a season's success in terms of the playoffs, this is by far the most successful Blue Jays season since 1993 when they last won the World Series.

Even you were to measure it in other regards, it's still the most fun I've had being a fan that I can remember. Both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have had incredibly successful campaigns and have proved that they are arguably the best 3-4 power combination in the league when healthy. The starting rotation, previously the team's main weakness, has been surprisingly consistent and effective. Two of the club's marquee prospects, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, were both called up mid-season and have been nothing short of spectacular and just the most fun to watch.

Look at that shit! He catches it a few inches off the ground!

Even just this past week the Blue Jays overcame a huge obstacle by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at home. They hadn't won a road series in Tampa Bay since 2007, which is especially saddening because both teams play in the same division and as a result play significantly more games against each other than other opponents. That losing streak was bad that I didn't even have to look up any of the specifics just now! They're burned into my brain!

Despite all of this, it can still be difficult to be a Blue Jays fan in Toronto^. Toronto is a hockey town, always has been and always will be and as a result, the Blue Jays have to play second fiddle to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Growing up in Toronto made it really difficult for me to be a Leafs fan, because most of the ones in the city are absolutely insufferable and the worst type of sports fan. They all turned me off caring about the team forever and I don't think I'll ever really be able to care about them.

All of that is inconsequential to the Blue Jays, but the Leafs do affect them in a variety of ways. \

A big one is that Toronto is major market but is forced to operate like a small one. It is the fourth biggest city in North America, making it the third largest market in Major League Baseball, behind New York and Los Angeles and just ahead of Chicago. Those other three cities all have two baseball teams. Their market can support 6 successful teams!* And yet Toronto still struggles to support one.

Earlier this year I was running school tours for CAFKA and a child started talking to me about baseball. I was excited, as the Jays were well in first place in their division and were easily the hottest team in baseball at the time. I asked if he had watched the game the night before and his response was "No, I stopped paying attention once they lost their winning streak." This was in reference to a 10 game winning streak the Jays went on during May. But there is 162 games in a baseball season! Do they have to go on a 130 game winning streak to end the season then? It's long! This kid has it hammered into his mind that he can only pay attention to the Jays when they are winning because of hockey and that kills me. It's not just that he isn't fan, because let's face it, baseball isn't for everyone, but it's that he, and tons of kids like him, are never going to be fans. And that's all because of the sports environment they're raised in.

Another aspect of the Jays having to compete with the Leafs is the way that fans behave at games. It's going to be hard to not sound pretentious and self-righteous here, but I really don't care. The majority of people who come to watch the Blue Jays at the 'Dome are fucking clowns. They're all hockey fans who pretend to care about the Jays because it's the summer and there's no other sports on. Nobody pays attention to what is going on on the field because they're used to the non-stop nature of hockey and they can't be bother to pay attention to something slower paced and more nuanced. Everyone gets way too drunk and does the wave and it creates an absolutely terrible atmosphere at the park. The rest of the league thinks that Toronto fans are a joke and it's really disheartening to go the park to watch something you care deeply about and have the experience be ruined by a bunch of fucking morons.






Y'know I've read books like The Summer Game by Roger Angell and the way he describes how intimate the atmosphere of the ballpark was and how tuned into the ebb and flow of the game the fans were before they were force-fed everything by a giant flashing TV. I feel like the old idea of going to take in a baseball game on an afternoon is really starting to die. Hell, it's been dead in Toronto for as long as I can remember.

Anyways, the season is now drawing to a close with a still slight chance at the playoffs. Even if they aren't in the hunt over the last two weeks, they will still be playing teams who are and will serve an important role in how the American League plays out.

*And hell, I barely post anymore so you could probably just go back a page or two and find one of those.

^Or Kitchener/Guelph in my case. But fuck that shit, I'll always be a Toronto boy.

*Well, the Cubs, White Sox and Mets suck, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hit The Streets

The art gallery I work at, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds.


It's hard to compete with other institutions who receive a lot more funding than us. We try to run great programs and we try to allow as much access as we can to our permanent collection, which is pretty dynamite. Help us out if you can. I hate to beg, but we need it.

Lok Bild

As part of my job at KW|AG this summer, I've been researching a ton of stuff about Kitchener architecture and the history behind specific sites and the town itself. This is really right up my alley, as one of my favourite parts about living in Toronto was* living in a city that I had a lot of history. I love walking through old neighborhoods in the central core and seeing old houses, recognizing their distinctive features and thinking about how many things happened in those areas and how many lives were lived. Not just major events that everyone has heard of, but just thinking about much stuff has happened to people in the city over time. There's actually very few things I enjoy more than being able to stroll through the sidestreets of Toronto with music on. I'm lucky because Toronto is pretty rich with history and I try to take advantage and learn the history of my favourite parts of the city as much as I can.

Can you tell my mom was a history teacher?

This is one of the things I love most about my (sentimental) second hometown, Guelph. The downtown of the city is very old and has very distinctive Victorian architecture. They also have a giant, remarkable Neo-Gothic cathedral that towers over the town. The city has legislature in place that doesn't allow for the alteration of the Victorian buildings and also prevents any building being built to stand higher than the cathedral. THAT IS HOW YOU PRESERVE A CITY. It looks amazing and you really feel the history of the city while you walk through it. At least I do.

So because of all that, me liking the history of my area and whathaveyou, researching the history of Kitchener buildings has been a cool learning experience. I'm still feeling out my place in this town, so learning interesting things that nobody seems to acknowledge about it has helped me with that. Before living here, I spent pretty significant amounts of time in Guelph and Toronto and grew really comfortable in Guelph. I've lived in Kitchener-Waterloo for about a year and a half and still haven't gotten comfortable here, but being able to walk by a building on the street and then thinking about all of this history I know about it makes me feel a little more comfortable.

However, one thing I have also learned through this research is that the city of Kitchener treats its buildings like dogshit. The most obvious example of this is the destruction of the second iteration of City Hall. It was a giant Neo-Renaissance building that existed on one of the city's most prominent blocks and is certainly what most people would think of when they think of a "city centre". In 1973 that building was voted to be torn down by city council so that a mall could be built in its place. It wasn't that the city was planning to build a new building in another location or anything, they just seemingly randomly decided to tear down the building. Market Square, the building that replaced City Hall, is currently a glorified food court that has about a half dozen fast food places while the bottom has only several failing businesses and many vacant store spaces. As soon as I read about that decision, I had to scratch my head. I'm sure that there is a lot more to it, but none of that information is available. But why would you tear down this for this? Everybody that I've mentioned this too is equally as confused and pissed about it as I am.

Another example is the Former TD Bank Headquarters, which happens to be across the street from Market Square. It's a picture perfect example of mid-century Modern architectural styles, especially in regards to how banks were designed. The solid looking walls! The scalloped roof! Fuck, is that ever a solid, nice looking building! On top of that, it was designed by Bruce Etherington, who was TD's in-house architect during the middle of the 20th century. After that, he taught architecture at the University of Hawai'i for almost 40 years and was a huge part of them establishing an architecture school. ADDITIONALLY, while on a trip to the Philippines, he saw the awful state of villages destroyed by weather and poverty and then invented the "Lok Bild" system, which is a brick system that is incredibly easy to put together and requires minimal training, is cheap and is also very strong and withstand the intense tropical storms of the region. ON TOP OF THAT, he didn't even patent his system so that everyone in developing countries steal it and not have to pay him. WHAT AN INTERESTING AND GREAT PERSON!

The tricky thing about bank buildings is that the technology and demands inside of them is constantly changing and the buildings have to keep up with that. You know what that TD Bank is now? A fucking bar and grill restaurant chain. That's what.

The way that the "face" of a city changes over time is pretty interesting and a neat evolution, but for some reason Kitchener is hell-bent on just destroying the whole city and starting it over every 50 years^. I think that that is fucking stupid.

*It pains me to say was, but I've been living in Kitchener a year and a half. I will always be a Toronto boy and my parents still live there. No matter where I go, Toronto will always be home.

^They also tore down and tried to re-invent the city in 1916 because of anti-German sentiment during the First World War. Kitchener was originally called Berlin. They are currently in the process of "re-inventing" downtown Kitchener by commissioning tons of huge buildings. While their hearts are in the right place and the downtown is desperately in need of renovations, it seems like it's more of what I've just described.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Main Branch

There was a little Japanese boy walking in front of me when I left the library today. It was early evening and the sun had just set. He quickened his pace as soon as my footsteps opened the automatic door behind him. I feel bad for scaring him, but I also remember that age, when 25 year-olds were so intimidating. Because of that guilt, I crossed the street so as not to force him to look over his shoulder at me and worry him. He can't be older than 10 and he's all by himself, which I find offsetting. Though I grew up in the city and was fairly independent, my parents never let me walk through an area this busy by myself. Is he neglected, or just well-adjusted? I honestly can't tell.

Seeing him walk down Queen Street instantly reminds me of walking east on Kingston in my own youth and how fondly I look back on my childhood. On one hand, I miss being that young and carefree dearly, but on the other I have still maintained some of that outlook today, I think.

I look both ways at Duke Street and begin to cross, having seen that there is no traffic. The little boy looks at me anxiously. I can see that he understands he will be able to cross safely and wants to show me that he is cool enough to jay-walk, but I can also see his mother's voice in the back of his head reminding him "Wait until the light changes to walk!" The look kind of breaks my heart because I can still remember the time of being young and wanting to impress the older kids.