Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Runaway Child Running Wild

The way that your musical taste evolves can be pretty weird and it is something that I like to think about a lot because it is constantly changing. Almost nobody listens to the exact same set of artists their entire lives because seriously, how boring would that be? There's very few things in my life that give me more of a thrill than falling in love with something I haven't heard before and I'm sure that it is the same for many people. It seems completely magical when you are listening to something for the first time (or re-visiting something for the first time in a long time) and it is just exactly what you want to hear. Generally for me I don't really want to listen to anything else when this happens, so that album (or discography or group of artists or whatever) becomes a defacto soundtrack to my life.

This whole process of finding and getting into new music, but specifically an artist or genre that you never thought you would like before, is something that has happened to me more and more as I get older and each time it does happen I always have to chuckle to myself and think about how (relatively) close-minded I was about these types of things in my youth. 14 year-old Timmy who was always balls-deep in skate punk and just starting to realize how great ska is surely would sighed and rolled his eyes at 24 year-old Timmy listening to emo, let alone pop-rock like Cheap Trick (And guess what chief, I do the dishes and dance around to the Katy Perry discography on a pretty fuckin' regular basis. Keep that kid away from sharp objects.), but the constant flux that you experience in life is one of the things that makes it so exciting, so you really need to have a sense of humour about it and try to keep an open mind.

All this stuff is always on my mind because punk was the first type of music I got into, I guess. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, "punk" bands (please keep in mind that I am using this term very loosely here) were just what appealed to me most and it was the first time that I would hear music and think "Yes! This is what I like! This is what I want to hear!" so it was essentially all I listened to. The shitty thing about this is that when you get into punk you are also introduced some stupid ideas that go along with it; them mainly being that other types of music are really bad (with minimal explanation as to why, of course) ("Pop music is bad! They don't even write their own songs!)*. It's really easy to succumb to this and as a result you become really reluctant to enjoy popular forms of music. I'm not even talking just about pop songs, for the longest time it was built into my head that rap and hip-hop were "bad" only because they were on the opposite end of my musical taste. The same could be true of me not wanting to touch emo with gloves and a gas mask on while I was in the deepest part of my ska phase (as if that phase ever ended, hahaha).

Fortunately for me, as I got older I realized how silly this was and started to (slowly) get more into different kinds of music and stop caring what other people would think if I listened to things (sure seems dumb typing out that sentence now, but seriously, it was true). An early example I can think of is Set Your Goals. I saw them open for Less Than Jake and kind of liked what I heard, but was hesitant to listen only because "hardcore" (this was them touring on Reset I believe, which was more of a poppy Youth Crew release than a hardcore-tinged pop-punk sound like their later material) was so taboo in the ska scene. Never mind that I actively listened to and enjoyed Suicide Machines records that were full of hardcore songs. Ugh. I can be a moron sometimes.

I started listening to a much wider variety of music through university and a large part of that was becoming BFFFFFLZ with Brian. We shared a few artists in common, but had had fairly different musical tastes and as a result got each other into a ton of bands. On one hand, I wouldn't listen to Brand New, Alkaline Trio, The Get-Up Kids and wouldn't have gone through my gigantic Bayside phase without him and he wouldn't have gotten into Less Than Jake, Bomb the Music Industry! or We Are The Union without me. It didn't take long before I realized that listening to as much different music as I could was a huge joy that I would never go without again. It was also around this time that I started to get really into thrash metal, soul and power-pop.

The reason I wrote all this out was because it's been on my mind a lot lately. Duff recently got really into New Order and has been talking about how he is also getting really into house music as well. This has gotten him more than his fair share of eye-rolls from our punk friends, as house music is generally something associated with shitty bar kids, but whatever good on him for finding something new that he likes.

I think that the main reason people in the punk community can sometimes look down on people for listening to these type of things is that they're paranoid about their punk friends getting out of punk and leaving them. This is something that happens and it does kind of suck (during high-school Chris, Party Pat and I were the only ones who kept going to shows the whole time), but you can't blame people for having different interests and getting out of things. Life is constantly changing because that's just how it is, so people's tastes change as well. And there's nothing wrong with being friends with people who aren't punk, so why don't you stay friends with them? There is no doubt that Party Pat, Paul, Damien and I all getting into alternative and punk music at the same time was a huge bonding experience for us, but two of them losing their interest in it didn't deter me from staying friends with them and we are still the best of friends. Pretty much everything in life is a two-way street, so it's important to be self-critical and always consider multiple angles when you think about things.


I don't know, I guess what I'm trying to say boils down to: Like whatever you want to like because you want to. Don't give a shit what other people say about your interests and pursue life for yourself, because somebody has to.

*Welcome to the first ever endnote (Footnote? I've always been on team footnote in my writing but this is just one big long page, so I guess it's a little of both! Whoa! Let's not get too crazy here!) of imusicalgenius.blogspot.com. It has been 5 years in the making and this is truly a momentous occasion. Rather than continuing my usual technique of going off on ridiculous tangents and having random paragraphs breaking up the flow of my "prose", I think that including endnotes in the future might be a good idea. ANYWHO, back to the matter at hand; artists having songs written for them and how fans of rock music mistakenly label this as a sign of that artist's lack of talent. Song-writers are not a new thing. Not even close to a new thing. People think that they can say "Hahaha, The Backstreet Boys? They don't even write their own songs!" and that that qualifies as a rock-solid argument against both their talent and credibility, but that is so far from the truth. Because Marvin Gaye and The Temptations had all of their hits written for them by Holland-Dozier-Holland, so does that make Gaye and The Temps objectively untalented and bad? Because both are certainly objectively very talented and great. Making this argument against artists also completely ignores the tremendous talent of the song-writers; I mean, look at the discography of the aforementioned H-D-H or Max Martin. It's fucking stupid. Some people are good singers or performers, but not good song-writers and that's just the way it goes. Rather than have their talents go to waste performing shitty songs that they write themselves, they get people to write better songs for them. Fucking deal with it. (Also, Katy Perry co-wrote all the hits with Max Martin, so put that in your pipe and smoke it idjits.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My (Second) (Hopefully) First Semester

Hello, my name is Timothy Chandler and I am a wreck of anxiety because of grad school applications.

When I finished my fourth year of university it became apparent that many of my friends were much more serious about school than others. Some were happy about finishing and tried their best to get adult jobs that would allow them to live on their own. Others got right on applying Master's programs and grad school right away and made it their top priority in their life. At the time the thought of applying for more schooling seemed ludicrous to me, as I thought that my Bachelor of Arts program was plenty for me to handle. I also assumed that my grades would be nowhere near good enough to get me into any post-graduate program.

However, once I started to progress through the fifth and final year of my undergrad and the idea of me finishing and leaving school became very real, I suddenly didn't want to leave. As such, applying to a Master's program was all of a sudden a great idea because I would never have to leave Guelph. I found that I took a lot more interest in my program the further I got into it, so I was the most interested in staying right at the end. By that point it became more a question of "Is there a way for me to keep doing this?" as opposed to "Do I want to keep doing this?"

After I graduated both of my parents (bless their hearts) constantly asked me if I was considering school. I still stuck to the idea that I wouldn't be able to get into any programs. As per usual, Bill and Colleen saw something in me that I didn't and kept the thought in the back of my mind.

As I said in a previous blog, I've been volunteering at a local art gallery for the last few months. Once KWAG posted their summer positions, I noticed that all of them required the applicant to be returning to school in the fall. This made me realize that with only a BA in Art History, I would not be able to procure any type of good employment in my field and also made me think "What the fuck else am I going to do?!" as I'd been working a terrible job in the mean time. I immediately contacted my favourite prof from Guelph (the fabulous Sally Hickson) to inquire about master's programs and, surprise surprise, received positive feedback from her about applying.

So this is all well and good; I feel good about myself for applying and trying to do something to challenge myself, but it is a little nerve-racking. It's mostly that it is such a large step in my life and though everyone I've spoken to about pursuing it has been behind me 100%, I am just over the cut-off and the fear of not getting accepted is doing quite a number on me. I try to find every reason to not work on my application (SURE IS HANDY THAT I DIDN'T DELETE THIS BLOG) and get a bit of a pit in my stomach every time I do things related to it.

But that pit means I'm doing the right thing, doesn't it? It feels the same as when you're nervous about going on a date or nervous before a show. You know that you need to do it, but also know that you need to apply yourself and try hard and put in effort, which can be scary. I find that those type of pits always lead to the best results though, so I guess I'll put my head down, tell the anxiousness festering in my guts to fuck off and try to be the best me I can be.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Friends Carry Me Home

I suppose that this would be a good a time as any to write a pseudo-"update" date post about myself, as the earlier published post was the first thing I've written on here in over a month. Even though I generally try to do more opinions and kind of "I was thinking of this today..." inspired posts most of the time (Because God knows that nobody would ever be interested to read the boring, menial details of my every day life.), I do like to include some personal details from time to time as this thing is really starting to become a sort of scrapbook of my life.

As I have been since January, I am living in Kitchener-Waterloo, this time with 1/2 of my band in a wonderful house. It's really great waking up and getting to hang out with some of my best friends in the best house I've lived in.

There was a stretch of a few months recently that were extremely trying on me. I was having an extremely hard time finding any type of job, lived in a real shithole of a house, the band was hitting huge delays in recording our EP, had been single for more than three years and it was really all starting to mix together and overwhelm me. I was really worried that I would have to move back home and thus kind of give up on Beat Noir. Then some type of magic happened. I got a shitty job that, while being pretty much the worst, allowed me to stay in town. We moved to a new magnificent palace of an upstairs apartment over our friends. I met a girl and even though it ended up being a short fling, was still something that I needed.

The most important of all this is that I started volunteering at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery in town. In fact, I have a draft of a post I started writing about a March Break art camp that I helped run there and how much fun it was, but it turned out to be a lot harder to write than I thought. Volunteering at this gallery has been a tremendously rewarding experience. I do a wide variety of stuff there, but mainly help run the kids programs. It's great to teach kids things about art they probably don't get in school and in return they melt my heart on about an hourly basis. It's seriously so great.

Another huge advancement in my life is that I'm in the process of applying to the Master's of Art History and Visual Culture program at the University of Guelph. It's obviously still up in the air if I'll be returning to my stomping grounds or not, but the idea of going back to a place where I have some good memories and friends and generally enjoy being in has me completely enthralled. My parents have been on my case (in a good way) about applying to post-grad programs since I graduated and of course as soon as I look into it, lo and behold, I receive positive feedback. I'm very excited about it.

While on the topic of parents, the following is a straight(ish) quote from my dad, further proving that he is the absolute greatest:

"You know, during that call a few months back, it seemed like you were kind of at the end of your rope and, you know, it really bummed me out. But when you told us you were applying and not just that, but that you were excited for it, it just made us feel great to see you excited. We all have these anxieties about things and it always seems like as soon as we act on them it always turns out the way we need it to. Imagine if we all acted on our anxieties!"

Like seriously, he's the best fucking guy in the world.

Anyway, I know that was some serious mutant hybrid of TMI and shinfo for you, but that's more or less what's going on with me. Now I'm going to go enjoy the sunshine and wear some neat shirts and skateboard and re-connect with old friends and share some beers and get used to low levels of sleep and drink too much coffee and see some shows and play some shows and smile and wear sunglasses and grow my hair and lead some art tours and play with some kids at camp and go swimming and wear my Vans until they're mega-stinky and fuck man, I don't what else, but when I think of that, you know I'm gonna fucking do that too.

Goodbye Old Friend

It's no secret that I can be an overly-sentimental and emotional person, so of course the event of me getting a new back pack is going to evoke a long post in which I get all steamy-eyed and nostalgic. I mean when have I ever done that, right?

As I said in that previous, snack-sized paragraph, I replaced my old backpack yesterday. The reason I poked fun at myself getting emotional about my old Dakine bag is that because for a long time it was one of my oldest possessions. It accompanied me through the latter half of high school, held my skateboard on numerous trips around the city looking for places to hang out and skate, was on my back all through university, came with me on multiple trips to New York, was my partner during every Pouzza Fest and was put to use during all of my summers at Ontario Place (Christ, I always come back to that, don't I?).

So obviously this backpack was something that I came to attach tremendous sentimental value to, as it was (is) put to use during a real coming-of-age time in my life. I thought I would list a few of my favourite times with this bag, just as I ran through a few of my favourite memories in that post about my favourite t-shirt linked above.

So here it goes:

I bought the backpack in 11th grade, because my old one was really hurting. Dakine bags were all the rage at the time, as even people who had never stepped on a skateboard were buying them. Getting a bag upon which I could attach my deck was of the utmost importance to me because skating all over the city was, and still is, one of my favourite activities. I attached the Suicide Machines patch shown above right away and it didn't come off the entire time I owned it. As you can see in the picture, there is a big rectangle outlined by weathering right in the middle of it. In the words of Damien Stillwell: "I don't think I've ever seen it without it." Honourable mention also goes to the Operation Ivy patch on the side and the blink-182 patch on one of the straps, both of which were attached not long afterwards and stayed there until the end.

I know some of my punk friends may roll their eyes at this, but living in residence during first year university was a huge learning experience for me. It was my first time living on my own and though one of my best friends lived in the same residence as me, I was mostly surrounded by complete strangers. So not only did this backpack carry my laptop so I could play Tetris in European History, but it also came with me pretty much every other place on campus. One of the catalysts in meeting one of my best friends, Brian, in first year was that he was 19 and could thus buy beer for all of us underagers. Pat, Brian and I would make runs to the LCBO every Friday it seemed so that we could buy liquor for almost all of our friends. We had no clue how to use Guelph Transit at the time (To be fair, back then the system was a total disaster.), so we would walk about 40 minutes each way to the store despite having a buspass included in out tuition. It was on these trips that I discovered my backpack could hold exactly 24 355mL cans of beer, and that is exactly what I filled it with almost every week while having a ball with a ton of new friends.

I've spoken about my old summer job as a lifeguard at Ontario Place a whole bunch on this blog and even now I still get pretty nostalgic about it because it was pretty fun and lead to a bunch of great stories and friends. Going to this job I had to leave early in the morning and would end up coming home late at night. Doing this required me to bring all of my uniform, enough food for 2-3 meals, sunscreen, water and well....y'know. It was almost like going to camp each summer and my old backpack was partner along the way.

The trip that I took last May with my brother to New York will forever be one of my favourite memories. The initial purpose of the trip was for me to see The Arrogant Sons of Bitches play a reunion show, but we quickly planned an exciting trip around it. We went to a ton of cool bars, caught a great start by Johan at Citi Field, ate great pizza, saw one of the best shows I ever have and showed my bro around the city, as it was his first time there and is a bit of a home away from home for me. For this somewhat lengthy trip I brought only my modestly-sized backpack, which my brother found completely astonishing. What can I say? I'm a light packer.

That's it I guess. It's hard to articulate the importance of something that you come to take for granted because you use it everyday. It's less that I did specific things with this knapsack and more that it was something I picked up and used almost every day of my life for about 8 years of my life, without really thinking about it. It's going to be weird not having the flattened shape of that backpack on my floor all the time; it was one of those things that you get used to because it's always there.

Fuck, if I'm getting this nostalgic about my bag, may God have mercy on you all when my skateboard finally eats it.