Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Desperate to Hear You Make the Sound That You Found for Me

My family got a Border Collie when I was in grade 6. We named him Jack, after the Canadian painters Jack Bush and Jack Chambers.


That's me holding him the day we picked him up.

Though he was officially a "family" dog, everyone will admit that he is completely my dad's animal. Dad took him to work with him every day. Took him on hour long walks every morning and basically spent every waking hour with Jack. Jack loves him. He'll just walk all over the house a foot behind my dad, looking up hopefully at him for a command or something to do, because even though he spent his whole life in Scarborough, he never lost the Collie instincts that are bred into him. He would growl any time anyone came close to my dad, because in his mind there was no person on earth who was more important than my father.

While Jack was a puppy, his crate was kept in my room, so he slept with me. Like most puppies, he was a shit-disturber, so I would often wake up to the little white tip of his tail bouncing around the foot of my bed because he was finding something to either chew or shit on. I loved him for that. I still love him for that.

I like to think that because of the time we spent together in Jack's childhood/adolescence (hey, they grow up fast) we have a very special bond. A sort of unspoken "you're my second favourite" type of thing. I'm not sure if it's true in his mind, but it's definitely true in mine.

Jack is now 14 years old, which is already older than most Border Collies live to. My dad took good care of both dogs, (we got another one named Trixie when I was in grade 11) so they were very healthy, athletic, and smart for their most of their lives, but age has caught up with them and now they mostly lie around and sleep.

Jack in particular has really slowed down. He doesn't jump into the bed of the pickup or run full tilt chasing frisbees anymore. All of his legs are in pretty bad shape from jumping and running so much in his youth and he has a lot of trouble going up and down stairs now. Whereas he used to stand next to you and move his head under your hand for a pat, now he lies down whenever he can.

This past summer a huge growth started on one of Jack's back legs. I was in Guelph, but my family told me that he had been chewing on it a bunch, which seemed uncharacteristic. He was getting old, now being past the point that most of his breed dies, but I never seriously considered his death because he had always been so healthy and smart.

My parents were at church one morning, when my sister woke up to barking and yelping from downstairs. When she got to the kitchen, she found Jack in the middle floor, the growth burst open and bleeding and unable to move. She called Dad right away and he rushed home. My dad, normally jovial and level-headed, picked up Jack, sat with him on the couch and cried. I have never seen my dad cry and I believe that this was my sister's first time.

My sister drove over to the church to pick up my mom, since my dad had taken the car. On her way there, she had to pull over because she was crying so hard that she couldn't see.

My mom came home and they took Jack to the vet where they found out that the growth was a tumor. Jack was scheduled to have surgery. About a week or so later, my sister and dad took him and he had a successful operation. The vet kept the tumor to test it. Jack came home woozy from the anesthesia and had trouble getting around. My dad plopped him on the couch and Trixie came over to give him kisses. Hearing that twisted my heart into funny shapes.

We found out about a week later that the tumor was malignant. The vet said that they had gotten the entire tumor off of his leg and taken some skin around it just to be safe, so we could be optimistic.

To be honest, it is hard to be optimistic when your 14 year-old dog gets surgery done on a malignant tumor.

Jack seemed better and more energetic after the surgery, but still was moving around at a snail's pace. He started falling over sometimes on walks. One morning while he was out with my dad, he just wondered off and seemed to forget where he was and get lost. He started barking at random times for seemingly no reason. His nose is constantly a dry, scabby mess.

When I came home on Monday, I was petting Jack in the basement when my dad came to talk to me. He mentioned that Jack had been doing badly lately and falling over more. Jack started chewing on his leg a little bit and my dad showed my three small new tumors on the same leg where the old one had been.

I went upstairs, put on Fallow by the Weakerthans and cried. I cried yesterday too. I cried this morning.

Jack is dying right in front of me.

At this point, I suppose all I can do is try to make the most of the rest of my time with Jack. Jack is my first pet, so I've never had a pet die before. I don't know how to deal with this. Jack is one of my best friends. It feels like I'm going to lose an arm, but I don't know when it will happen. It's this giant, awful, black "thing" that is coming and can't be stopped. It looms over me. What makes it even worse is that Jack doesn't understand what's going on. He doesn't understand "cancer" the way he understands "Do you want to go to the lake?"

Whenever I was feeling shitty, Jack had a habit of coming over and putting his head on my lap, looking up into my eyes. It always made me feel a lot better and forget about whatever was plaguing my mind at that moment.

That is the way I will remember Jack.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Random Anecdotes: Part 64

Today I was listening to The Troubled Stateside by Crime in Stereo, which is a wonderful album by a wonderful band. You should listen to it if you never have. Here's a great song:





Whenever I listen to this album, it always reminds me of the last (and only!) time I saw Crime in Stereo in 2010 because it was a great show (CiS with Mockingbird Wish Me Luck and Wayfarer!) and is just one of those shows and nights that sticks out in your mind forever, you know?

The show was at the downstairs of the El Mocambo, which is a great venue that I wish would have more shows, or at east shows I would like to go to, and was pretty sparsely attended. Crime in Stereo had just put out I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone and were on the verge of breaking up. They absolutely killed and it was just a great night.

Part way through the set, while the singer was introducing the next song, a guy in a then-very hip Hostage Calm Lens shirt got up to say something to the singer (weird) and said something I swear I will never forget as long as I live:

"You need to put more songs from The Troubled Stateside on your myspace!"

What the fuck? Why would you get up to say that? Hahahahaha

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Wrong Life Again

Hard Girls, who released the excellent A Thousand Surfaces in 2014, just put out a new EP for free/donation on Quote Unquote Records this week. Though it is brief, at 3 songs, two of which being new and on being a live version of "Flying Dream", it certainly picks up where the riff masterpiece that was their last album left off. "Get Up", the acoustic number that ends the thing, is my favourite song so far this year, but we're only a month into 2016, so I guess that's a dumb thing to say. It hits me pretty fucking hard, is what I was trying to say.

I think you should probably check it out. The fact that's it's free doesn't hurt either.


Click on the pic for it!

Here's to hoping that this means a new album from a very, very good band.

Monday, January 25, 2016

In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe

About once a year or so, I try to convince myself that I need to wean myself off of coffee. I know that I won't give it up outright, but think that it will be better for me if I lessened my daily intake. I mean, I sort of know that's true. But then I start to worry a lot about drinking too much coffee and try to not have any in the afternoon and whatever else. I start to get groggy in afternoons and feel exhausted, even if I don't notice all the time.

I inevitably relapse and start to drink coffee all day again and when I have my third or fourth cup of the day and I'm completely wired, it hits me "Oh right, this is why I did this to begin with."

I am in that period of relapse right now and am plowing through coffee and can feel my heart beating and am very alert. I love this. I love coffee so much and should probably put all this cutting back nonsense to bed for good. Long live crippling caffeine addictions.

Lately I've felt like there's a roadblock between the ideas in my brain and my hands typing at the keyboard. I feel like all of my ideas are as good as they've ever been, but for the life of me I can't say what I want to. It is incredibly frustrating and could not have come at a worse time. It feels like there's a strip of duct tape over my mouth.

I like to act like I'm ignorant of why this is and it's just some injustice in the universe that has befallen me for some reason, but I know exactly why I feel this way. It it because I'm not writing enough. I'm slacking and being lazy and it is just killing all of my skill.

Only one way to remedy that, I guess.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Can't Separate From Everything

I think that I was a teenager and became a music fan at a weird time. The aughts still had one foot in the "buy physical copies of music" while its other was steadily pulling it towards "spend no money and have no physical copies" era. Sure Napster and all of its clones had already come and went, but people still bought a lot of CD's. I mean, my friends and I made almost weekly trips to stores to do just that. Maybe it was just us?

What I'm trying to say is that while the internet was hugely influential as soon as it happened, people were still working their way through all of it and it was nowhere near as streamlined as it is now. I guess that that is how everything in the world works though. Isn't it weird when I get oddly philosophical for one sentence? I feel like I do that often here.

People used to write stuff. Not nearly as many pictures. Not the bullet points of opinions in Facebook statuses, not an idea condensed into 144 to rifle it off in one go. People would take the time to formulate their ideas. Blogs were HUGE. I know that the world is constantly changing with regards to your social life and the way you use the internet (what a weird sentence) and you really just have to get used to it, so as not to get stuck in the past and become a grumpy son of a bitch, but people actually writing their thoughts and feelings and life events and ideas down is something I truly miss. This is also why I still cling to my out of date blogspot like soggy cotton candy sifting through a cute raccoon's hands.

I used to avidly read tour blogs from any band I could find. Since all of my friends went to a different high school, I didn't have much to do at all during weeknights and this is how I amused myself. My favourite one was www.pickyourpoisons.com, which was kept by Vinnie from Less Than Jake. Through reading Vinnie's entries, I gained a intimate, humourous, and personable window into the life of my favourite band through the eyes of the quiet brain of the band. I've always felt an odd affinity for Vinnie, like we're cut from the same cloth or at minimum would get along really well and I think this stems directly from reading and relating to these blog entries that talked about drinking coffee and what records he was listening to and looking around wide-eyed at the world he was traveling through.

I like to make grandiose statements like Less Than Jake became my favourite band the first time I saw them or when I saw them play all of Losing Streak at a sparsely attended show on Canadian Thanksgiving, but the reality is that it was a gradual process and took a while. It sure seemed quick though. The records were the biggest part. The shows were part of it. The artwork was part of it. Those blogs were part of it.

Through the wonderful internet tool called the Wayback Machine, which archives sites, I've been going through pickyourpoisons and re-reading some of the entries and it's really reminded of why I fucking love Less Than Jake so much. The songs and lyrics are so great, but it's this entire package of many different things that, for whatever reason, always hits me in the just right way. The songs always remind of everything I love about the band, but reading this stuff reminds me of falling in love with the band. It's a great feeling.

Of course, I listened to like 4 albums of their's while doing so.

Conclusion: A Story About the First Time I Saw Less Than Jake

I went to see Less Than Jake in February 2006 with Damien and his then-girlfriend. About 3 minutes into the first band, they started making out and didn't stop for the entire show. As such, I was left to take in the show by myself. The first two bands, Damone (great name) and Rock 'n Roll Soldiers, sucked and then A Wilhelm Scream, touring Ruiner, were pretty good, but Less Than Jake headlined and blew my mind. Having been left to my own devices I had an amazing time being alone, in a crowd, with the band. They played "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" fourth and I crowdsurfed. When they ended I was pretty sure that they were the best band I had ever seen and I didn't even think about being there by myself a little bit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Four or Five Ways to Play These Chords

A while ago I wrote a post about the Ontario Punk scene at the time that I was most involved in it and going to a lot of shows. Consequently, that was also when I wasn't in an Ontario punk band. Funny how life works that way.

So, yesterday I was wearing my !ATTENTION! hoodie and listening to the whole !ATTENTION! discography, as well as Our Fathers by Wayfarer and This Month's Rent by The Decay and I was filled with the same feeling of nostalgia and and local pride that I was when I was writing the aforementioned post. It just seemed like every band who formed in that time and every band that I saw was just amazing and had this knack for writing songs about exactly where I was from and exactly what I was doing.

No song better fit this mold than "Basements" by Junior Battles from their Self-Titled EP, which is one of my favourite releases ever.



This is the first song I can remember hearing from Junior Battles and is the one that stuck out most when I saw them for the first time, opening for Shook Ones, Make Do and Mend, and We Are the Union. They immediately became one of my favourite bands and this song kind of became the Ontario song. Now, to be sure this song is much more about their group of bands/friends at the time, that was mostly made up of the bands that I linked to above, and I knew that, but still felt that I was part of all of that by going to shows. It really felt like I was part of something and I'm not sure that I really feel that way anymore. Maybe I just need to go to more shows? Who knows?

But this song remains as the signifier of that time. This song is that time in Ontario and I know that I'm not the only one who thinks so.

I saw Junior Battles in April of last year (shameless plug, Beat Noir opened that show) and they played a ton of older deep cut songs, highlighted by "Basements", though they still usually play it. I spent almost all of the set in the embrace of Erik of The Decay and that feeling I was talking abour came back in spades. It's cool that this whole thing; the bands, the songs, the people, the feelings, the experiences; are still there, if they aren't always there. Sometimes you just need the right thing to stir them up.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

You're Waiting for a Trainwreck

After I explained that whole "you don't play real emo!" fiasco to Rebecca, she said that, while this whole thing was pretty ridiculous, I should try to not make fun of anyone for a day. This is hard, because making fun of people is something that I'm pretty good at, but I will admit that I do it and can be too critical of people. While sometimes people are just unbelievably lame, like the people I looked at yesterday, it does help to just not do something that is inherently negative for a while.

To cleanse the IMU palate, I thought I would write about a song's specific meaning to me. I did something once before, talking about how "Chicago" by Big D and the Kids Table reminds me of a specific day one summer. This time I'm going to talk about "Motown Never Sounded So Good", one of favourite deep cuts from my favourite band, Less Than Jake.




This song always reminds a night in first year university. During the winter semester, a bunch of my friends and I took "Music and Popular Culture" together. The course had a three-hour lecture once a week on Thursday and was an absolute breeze, so we used the lecture to pre-drink before we went out later that night. By the time we got back to our residence at 10 PM, we would inevitably be pretty drunk.

During first year, I met and became best friends with Brian Link. A lot of this was based on us having similar, but still different taste in music. While our friendship was based on liking a few of the same bands, it grew a lot stronger when we started to introduce each to a ton of new bands, expanding our musical taste in the process. One of my first recommendations was, of course, Less Than Jake's Anthem. Upon getting into it, Brian's jam was "Motown Never Sounded So Good".

When you are becoming best friends with someone, I find there is always one moment where it hits you and you realize "Holy shit, this person is one of my best friends". Duff described an instance of this to me while he was living with our friend Justin. While he was leaving for school, Duff saw Justin waking up and said "'Sup stupid?", realizing "This guy is the fucking best." in the process.

There is too many quotation marks in that paragraph.

This happened to me after a Music and Pop Culture lecture. Both of us were rocking a pretty solid buzz and Brian did something like spill part of a Jagermeister shot on me, or something equally as inconsequential. I feigned outrage and Brian momentarily thought that I was actually mad at him. I dropped it, smiled and said something like "Nah, it's fine man." and a wave of relief washed over Brian's face.

This all coincided with the above song starting. Once it did, Brian, drunk as a skunk, raised both of his arms in the air and mimed the "And so you say, that all your white flags are up" line with an extremely serious expression on his face.

That was when I realized that Brian was one of my best friends.

As of result of this memory, this song represents something a lot bigger to me than just being a catchy song on the first album I bought from my favourite band. It represents budding friendship. It tells me that you can find people who will mean something huge to you at any point in your life and that you will have things in common with these people that you never would have expected. As corny as it sounds, that's something that I will never stop believing in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why You Wanna Make Me Blue?

A trend that I've noticed is popping up all over Canada and the United States is pop-punk/emo/whatever bar nights. I never would have expected something like this to be so popular, but obviously that was a huge oversight on my part, because these bar nights are the go-to night for punks in major metropolitan areas. There's one called Homesick in Toronto, one called Jukebox Breakdown in Cleveland, Emo Night in LA, and my friend Jay mentioned that there is one in Denver on his excellent podcast Ask a Punk that you should definitely listen to. This shit is EVERYWHERE right now and when the unthinkable happened and Homesick and Emo Night LA teamed up for an event in Toronto called Taking Back Tuesday, boy did the internet go mild.

My introduction to this sort of thing was a bar night in Toronto called My Friends Over You (sometimes shortened to MFOY and pronounced "em-foy") that started in Toronto during the summer of 2011. I know this because my friends and I went to it all the time that summer and it became almost a ritual for us each Tuesday. As you can probably guess from the name, the night focused mostly on playing pop-punk from the early 2000's to the present. At first, this was great because it took an environment I'm normally extremely uncomfortable in, a bar night/nightclub, and made it comfortable by adding the music and atmosphere of an environment I'm very comfortable in, that being a show. But MFOY got popular pretty rapidly and pretty soon it was impossible to distinguish it from any other bar night. I recall Dave from Careers in Science at one point going to the DJ booth and putting on "Broken Things" by Attack in Black and both of us just sitting around saying "Fuck, this is such a good song." while everyone else used it as an excuse to go order drinks. Though, to be fair, I can understand not wanting to hear a song with "I'd have the strength to face you, day, if not for the broken things in my life" as its chorus while you're out drinking.

I'm not trying to say this is "you had to have been there" or a "it was better in the old days" type of scenario, as it was just a bar night and I don't know why I shouldn't have expected anything different.

At first I thought this night was an exercise in fun nostalgia, but realized halfway through the summer that it definitely wasn't, and there are two specific moments that stick out in my mind communicating that. First, I guess that when you do this night every week, the playlist starts to get a little thin. On one night during the summer the DJ played "Way Away" by Yellowcard, which is objectively a terrible song. I turned around and there was a guy my age standing on a table, just giving it and making terrible "emotional singer" faces while singing to the DJ booth.

My reaction:


Another was a time that Damien, Party Pat and I were leaving the bar to catch the subway home. While Pat was rocking a piss on the side of the bar, a couple was having a loud fight in the doorway of the bar, in front of a sizeable line of people waiting to get in and us. Both seemed like just awful people, a sort of punk "bar star" and when Pat came back to join us, yelled "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU STARING AT US?" when we were actively trying to avoid the awkwardness of their interaction. The guy threatened to "kick all of our asses", so we just laughed at him, smoked a joint and went to buy cans of Mountain Dew.

My Friends Over You continued to be a pretty popular night out for punk subculture in Toronto for a few years until it stopped and Homesick, which is still going on, started in its place. One thing that I guess is commendable is that Homesick promotes a lot of shows in Toronto.

This past summer, Beat Noir played a show promoted by Homesick. It was us, Camper from St. Catherines and two other locals opening for Dikembe. They put us on the show without any hassle, which was cool, but they did stress that we had to have a backline and that the show had a hard cutoff at 10 PM for the "afterparty" which was a Homesick night. Now, I can understand having a hard cutoff for shows if the bar has other things planned and I can understand having an afterparty for show, but why cut the show short, and run it early when not as many people will attend, for IT'S OWN AFTERPARTY?



That doesn't seem right to me.

At the end of the show, Mark and I were loading our gear out, which can be annoying at Sneak Dee's because the venue is on the second floor of the building and carrying your amps up and down a narrow stair case suckssssssssssss. The show was sparsely attended, but as soon as the bar night started it filled right up. Like, packed. While we were tag-teaming my bass cab, two girls were paying cover and one proclaimed in an unpleasant, high-pitched voice "Oh my god! Are they playing fuckin Fall Out Boy?!" They were completely oblivious of us holding heavy stuff and while it feels really petty to complain, just get the fuck out my way while I carry this heavy and awkward object.

And, like does this girl come from some alternate universe where Fall Out Boy hasn't sold a million billion records and been the most popular rock band of the 2000's? Of course a "pop-punk" bar night is playing Fall Out Boy. Christ.

This brings up one of the biggest thing I've noticed about these nights and current punk music in general, which is that a lot of people grow out of the traditional ways of participating in and supporting scenes, that being going to shows and buying things from bands (I feel dirty typing that), and do this instead. The new way to "be punk" in Toronto is to have tattoos and wear skinny jeans and go to "punk" bar nights. I hope this doesn't sound condescending, because I'm just trying to be observational. Hell, I used to go to one of these nights all the time and I'm sure that for every two people at these nights who just go to Homesick, there is one who goes to tons of shows and supports bands. While I do think it really sucks, I've also tried to accept that this is just the way it is now.

It just seems odd to me that people apparently grow out of what I would consider to necessary aspects of being a music fan, but still try to desperately hold on to that part of their life by getting drunk at a bar and singing along to Fall Out Boy. I don't know, there's so many different thoughts I have about this whole thing and I don't want to complicate this blog post more than I already have.

So, back to Taking Back Tuesday. Apparently this was a much-hyped night, but I did not hear about it until today, its "Boxing Day". I really feel like this night and the reaction to it on its facebook event page sums up all of the things that make me not like these nights, so I will do a first for IMU and do some sort of photo/writing thing.


Slut-shaming is pretty fucking lame. Why you gotta make these girls feel bad and self-conscious about themselves? Especially when you, Jason, were presumably (this is a huge assumption on my part, but probably accurate) there to find a girl to make out with yourself? Wait, you were there "just for the music"? I'm sure. It came up in the comments that the two girls are dating to boot!


A lot of things echoed this sentiment. Hey! Get your current popular music out here and play the 10 year-old popular music I payed $5 to hear!


Though you swear that you are true, I'd still pick a relatively narrow scope of music over you.



A fucking joke I tell you!


Fortunately Deyan was there to open up a discourse.

There was one person above all who was most angry and he let everyone, on every post know it:




Had to include an acquaintance of mine, Jason, roasting Jan like a Portuguese chicken.


Who the fuck is this guy?!

At first, reading all of this stuff, I got kind of mad, mainly because of the ignoramus I posted first, but really all of this is so fucking ridiculous. How can this many people be this mad about a bar night? It's a fucking bar night! This whole thing has convinced me that the popular emo music from the aughts has completely and majestically jumped the shark.

I thought I would end with this:



Man, I know that it sucks to lose that stuff, but why would you have it with you?!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Epilogue: I Forgot One

A special, first time occurrence on IMU:

I'm writing this as an addendum to my year-end music list because I started heavily listening to Joy, Departed  by Sorority Noise after I put up the post and really do feel like it's one of the best albums put out in 2015. The band has all the best parts of Blue/Pinkerton/Songs/From the Black Hole Weezer, but doesn't make them sound tired and cliché the way most bands around right now do. Great fuzzy power-pop and good song writing.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

They Tell Me That It's Good for Me, but I Don't Even Care

When I write a post for IMU, I put pressure on myself to have the post touch on at least one important idea or theme because that I what I think makes my "good" posts good. It is a pretty necessary thing in my mind. I mentioned this in that "ranking post" I wrote a few months ago. This doesn't always to be explicitly done in my writing, as even the three posts the precede this one, which are strictly documentary in nature serve a specific purpose of, in the future, illustrating where I was at, what I was doing, and what I was into at a specific time, which I think is a main theme of this blog.

This pressure for a bigger theme can sometimes deter me from writing though, because I tell myself that there is no use in writing something here if I don't have a bigger idea or plan in mind. I guess that is sort of good, in that it drives the quality of content here way up, but it is also bad because it drives the quantity way down. Do I write sparingly, but make the posts long and intelligent? Do I write all the time and end up putting up shitty posts frequently? This is something I struggle with.

I was turning this over in my head a bunch today because I feel like I have nothing of value to say lately. I got a big round of edits on my thesis back during recording and have been wrapped up in going through those edits. Reading through old writing and especially someone pointing out all of the inconsistencies and mistakes and dumb parts of that old writing can be not so fun, so editing has gone Rogue and sort of sucked out all of my creative writing power. Making something like a year-end list is easy because I have it all planned out and just need to write a blurb about something I like (not to mention that I wrote like half of it like a month ago and saved the draft). But tapping into my emotions and writing something that means something and says something? That's hard.

Nevertheless, I feel like I need to write something to keep me sane, so what you get is the ol' IMU special: Me writing a bullshit post about the writing process of this blog.

#content
#imusicalgenius

FIN

P.S. I just listened to Fuel for the Hate Game by Hot Water Music and Huey Lewis and the News' Greatest Hits back-to-back and can honestly say that I enjoy "The Power of Love" more than any track on the former. For real.