Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Novel Figure Here

I've been think about the craft of writing a lot more and I would assume that this is because of A Moveable Feast. Ernest Hemingway talks about his thoughts on writing a lot in that book. Did you notice that I've tried to sound like him in the last few posts? I've done a bad job of it, but it's true.

Something that I've done over the last little are little memoir/short stories about friends who I've fallen out of touch with. I would still consider all of them my friends, but in every case I am nowhere near as close with the person as I used to be. I think they are pretty good. I also think that I am nowhere near comfortable posting them at this time. It would not be hard for them to find them. If the people they are about read them, it would be weird.

They are very personal and I guess that is what makes it weird. But that's also what makes it good. If I feel weird about posting them, that means they're hitting on something true. Does that mean I should post them, regardless of consequence? It means that these mini memoirs are hitting on something bigger in my life and about people my age. I guess I'm projecting that last sentence onto them.

It's mostly that these are things that I would certainly not say to each of the people personally, so I would feel awful saying indirectly here. But if I felt the need to write it down, was it not worth saying?

I'm really just going around in circles here. Not even a shred of value in the whole post. Just trying to hash out when something is good, what makes it good and if me putting this writing anywhere, having the courage to do so, would in fact be the functioning quality that makes them good.

Good Luck is a very good band. I slept on them way too long. This record is just wonderful.

All Good People

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

It is such an overwrought cliché that even I, the king of clichés, who uses them to a fault in his writing, would never go near it. It is a phrase that has been so overused that it is now devoid of any meaning. Any beauty that may have once been associated with it is now stripped away. It is now something a person says when another is far away from something they like. To use the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is to illustrate your ineptitude as a writer.

A friend used this phrase recently. What he actually said was "I can confirm that absence DOES make the heart grow fonder." I think his girlfriend is doing a semester abroad. That must be difficult for him. Long-distance relationships can be stressful and hard. In fact, I would go as far as to say that all are. Him using this cliché has had the phrase stubbornly sticking in my mind and periodically returning a few times a day. Though I do not like to admit this, I judged him for using the phrase. I got my brief moment of intellectually superiority from thinking that I would never go near a phrase as overexposed as "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

But then I returned to the apartment for the first time in 3 days. She embraces me and kisses my neck. It feels good. It feels like it has been missing but has now completed me. I hadn't noticed, but I was missing the feeling and it was annoying me and that annoyance was building up. When she embraces me, that feeling, which was nagging me subconsciously, subsides immediately. It feels right. I tell about my dad and the dog's surgery and start to cry. It is a sad topic. She kisses me and embraces me again. I realize that she is only person who does this. This is time only for her. It is a space that no one can touch.

She smiles at me. Later she tells that when I return after being away awhile, she can't look at me without smiling, so she tries to look away. I never thought about the other side of this before. I always thought about how it felt for me when I returned. What a selfish prick I can be.

Later we lie together in bed. She is half-on top of me. Our bodies fit together perfectly. I experience the earlier feeling tenfold. It is wonderful.

And today it bothers me so much that this stupid cliché can be so pertinent. I suppose that every phrase has its place.

Monday, March 28, 2016

They Don't See the Beauty of the Power Wires

Manuscript March is almost done. I hate that name and think it is stupid. I set out to try and write every day this month and that worked out well for me. To be honest, a small part of me believed that by slyly not participating in some sort of "30 Day Writing Challenge", but still, for all intents and purposes, participating in it, that I would actually do it. A much bigger part knew I wouldn't and that is fine.

I envisioned this as a great accomplishment in which I would write a ton of stuff, which would help me in finishing my thesis. I've been prone to bouts of writer's block over the last year and thought that this would help. I don't know if I can really explain why, but it doesn't feel like I got to that great accomplishment. But I did finish my thesis. I also have put the most posts on IMU since March 2011, a month that was mostly posts consisting of music video links. Instead this month is mostly longer writing, so I guess that is something to be proud of.

I'm not sure what I want to say I got out this. I'm reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway right now, so writing a phrase as silly as "Manuscript March" in my main place of creative writing seems so juvenile and stupid, considering a book that good is basically pieced together from Hemingway's notebooks. But Hemingway, I am not. I'm not the writer he was, as he was one of the best ever and had such a distinctive and amazing style that is basically impossible to reproduce. But I'm also not a similar writer to him at all. Not by a long shot. I don't write about the same things or in the same way, even if I might think about those things or along those lines sometimes.

I watched 5 innings of different Blue Jays games from last year today and that is a pretty clear sign that I cannot wait for Opening Day.

Though my thesis is "done", I'm still working on it and it doesn't really feel close to "done".

If I could simply upload a song and post it here with relatively low amounts of hassle, I would post the live, full-band version of "Chimes and Church Bells" that Attack In Black recorded at CBC Radio 3. I cannot do this, so instead you'll have to imagine a wonderful riff-filled rock version of a song that is somber and just a piano on the record. OH WELL.

Defend With Me the Liberties of Day and Mysteries of Night

During last season, there were so many amazing moments for the Toronto Blue Jays that it is very easy to forget many of them in lieu of the very memorable major moments. I mean, obviously Jose Bautista throwing his bat into the other team's dugout after the most significant hit of the season is going to take precedence in my mind over something like Danny Valencia hitting a home run in Kansas City during a game the Jays lost. But the narrative of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays was made up of so many stories that all contributed to the excitement surrounding the team.

I could rattle off about 50 different plays that made me jump out of my seat last year, but this one is one of my favourites:

The New York Yankees came to Toronto on September 21st for a three game series, trailing the Jays by 3 & 1/2 games. It was exhilarating to see the Jays in first place, but September was also a stressful month schedule-wise because of how many games would be against Toronto's division rivals. First the Jays had swept the Yanks in New York, then the Yankees came in and took two out of three in Toronto. The Jays were ahead by a nose, but that could change quickly if the Yankees won a series against Toronto. It was a weird (great) time as a Jays fan because on one hand you felt on top of the world and confident in the team, as it truly felt like they could do anything, but there was also a familiar sense of doubt that crept in at moments like these. I had seen the team collapse late in the season so many times before, so even though I knew that the Jays were the best team in the league, there was a tiny negative voice trying to drag this down in the back of my mind.

David Price started the game and it turned out to be a very tight game throughout. The Jays came into the 8th inning leading 4-0, needing the bullpen to hold the Yankees in check to secure the win. Aaron Sanchez, the team's right-handed set-up man, had had a bit of a problem with his control all season and promptly walked the light-hitting shortstop Didi Gregorius (a great baseball name). Dustin Ackely followed this with a single and suddenly there was two runners on and a win that seemed to be in-hand was very much falling out of hand. There were still no outs, so the Yankees scoring and tying the game, or worse, taking the lead, was not an unreasonable expectation. Given the playoff implications of this game, that the Yankees could jump up a whole game in the standings by winning, the atmosphere was extremely tense. I was watching the game in the apartment I share with Rebecca and I couldn't sit still. I could feel my discomfort in my chest.

For the last 22 years, the New York Yankees had routinely made an example of the Toronto Blue Jays in their yearly marches to the playoffs. I had experienced the Yankees crushing my excitement about baseball in Toronto far too many times. At one point the Jays had lost 17 straight games at Yankee Stadium. This season was different though and the Blue Jays seemed to be getting the better of the Yankees at much better clip.

Aaron Sanchez was taken out of the game and left-handed curveball virtuoso Brett Cecil was brought into the game. Brett Cecil is one of the longest-serving Blue Jays on the current roster. Once part of a promising, young starting rotation in 2010, Cecil had trouble replicating that success over the next two years and spent most of 2011-12 in AAA. Cecil found his place in 2013 after beginning the season in the bullpen and becoming a lights-out left-handed reliever for high-leverage situations. During the 2013, '14 and '15 seasons, Cecil was one of the best and most valuable bullpen pieces in all of baseball.

The at-bat he was coming into against Jacoby Ellsbury was a very high-leverage situation. This means that it would probably mean a lot to the eventual outcome of the game. Ellsbury hit a single and now the Yankees were on the board. This was not the way that Jays fans wanted a series against the Yankees at home to start. The Jays had backed themselves into a corner and basically the only way out was strikeouts because anything else would probably score runs. Striking out batters, especially when there are runners on and the batter is trying to put the ball in play, is very hard.

Tell 'em Britney:

With the score now 4-1 and there still being two runners on with no outs, Cecil struck out the Yankees excellent left fielder Brett Gardner on a beautiful curveball. I finally exhaled. One out.

Alex Rodriguez, one of the very best players in baseball history, someone who stands a reasonable chance to break the all-time home run record, came up next. Rodriguez has had a tumultuous relationship with Blue Jays fans since this happened. Again, Brett Cecil struck him out on a curveball that looked like it was by the hand of fucking Michelangelo.

Now confidence began to swell. I felt a lot of pride towards Cecil because he had been on the Jays for some of the bad years. He had come up in 2009, when there weren't many redeeming factors about the team, and had been there for the monumental disappointment of the 2013 season. On a team that was mostly made up of new faces, Cecil was a crucial link to the team's past. He also loves really bad rock/metal like Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold and him being so unabashedly into something that lame just makes like him even more. He's always been a guy I rooted for and genuinely wished well on, so seeing him succeed made me really happy.

Brian McCann came up and though the stress of the first two at-bats had lessened, he still posed a huge threat, as he has always been a more than capable hitter and has significant power. At this point my thoughts had turned from "Okay Brett, get the team out of this" to "Strike this fucker the fuck out right now Brett". Once again, curveball, down.

I jumped up and down on the couch. Cecil dropping anvils on Gardner, A-Rod, and McCann consecutively to strike them all out in the top of the 8th was one of the best pitching performances I had ever seen. This is Ricky Vaughn coming in at the end of Major League. You just need to substitute "Shepherd of Fire" for "Wild Thing".

Many people often mistake the last outs recorded by the winning team to be the most impactful because they seal the victory, but that is incorrect. Brett Cecil came in here in what was without a doubt the biggest situation the season up to that point and, as they correctly mention in the above video, the biggest moment of his career. This is the type of thing that only happens once a season, if you are lucky.

This was more or less eclipsed two days when Russell Martin hit a huge 3-run home run to put the Yankees away for good in 2015, but I swear to God, I will remember Brett Cecil striking out the side as a definitive moment of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays for my whole goddamn life.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

*mimes guitar solo*

I am heavy enough into a Sorority Noise binge right now that I want to say things like "Sorority Noise is the best active band."

Do I believe that? I don't even know. I do know that Joy, Departed has been getting a shitload of plays since I checked it out in December. I find with new music I generally go all-in on it when I first get it and then kind of intermittently come back to it when I remember to listen. Sorority Noise, on the other hand, has been something that I've put again and again and seem to never hit the point where I would rather put on something else.

I haven't had a chance to catch the band live yet,  but it's something that I'm going to make a priority now. Judging from this video, it seems like the band is at peak "tour tightness", which a level of comfortability and skill at playing together that only comes from being on tour a lot and playing a ton of shows. There aren't many better feelings than when you've been playing together for a long time and have a really good feel for what every other member of the band is doing. I wouldn't say I've ever gotten there, but Beat Noir has maybe approached that feeling a few times when we've been really active and on top of things, and it's like "Damn, this feels good." whenever you play.

They're also at a point where they've put a really good full-length record and they all know how good it is. That brings out a lot of passion when you play that songs, which is crucial in creating a intense performance. It also creates complete transparency with the crowd, which is so, so, so important. If the songs are good enough and you believe in them, it ceases to be you "performing" and more you just showing something you are proud of and have complete faith in. Look at the other members of the band singing the lyrics when they themselves are not singing. This band playing is something to behold right now. Everything is working together perfectly.

I would also recommend checking out the full set here.

Monday, March 21, 2016


With the Major League Baseball season inching ever closer and Spring Training coming closer to its end, I would like to do something I've never done on and direct you to a previous post of mine.

Last year (season) I did much more Jays writing on this blog than I ever have in the past. This is of course because the team went on a historic run, basically didn't lose for two months, won the division, won the Divisional Series in the craziest way possible and basically grabbed a country by the face and said "Look at us". I suddenly had things I could write about the team beyond "They are bad and I'm still watching". They were exciting in ways I wasn't used to.

I started a series called "Reasons to Love the 2015 Blue Jays" early-ish in the season, hoping that it would encapsulate why I loved some of the players on the team so much and maybe explain why I kept coming back to the Toronto Blue Jays year in, year out. Ultimately I kind of stopped this because I was too busy watching the games. I've got a memory tied to everything that happened and remember exactly where I was for everything. I didn't to showcase the players when they were doing a much better job of it every goddamn day on the field.

I think that I will do something along these lines this year too.

I still think the stuff I wrote is pretty good, so today I would like to point you to my post on Kevin Pillar, which, to brag a little bit, was written very early on in his 2015 coming out party.

I fucking love me some Kevin Pillar.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We All Know the Boys and the Girls Are Doing It

While in the library the other day and scrolling through the "Various Artists" sections of my iTunes, I came across the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack. This album is interesting to me for a variety of reasons, so much so that I think it merits an "online zine" post about.

The first is that I really love 80's cock rock. Van Halen, Motley Crue? I love it all. This soundtrack is completely made up of cock rock and I love it for that reason.

Second is that this movie is very near and dear to me. It might even be my favourite movie. It is obviously mainly lampooning of dumb 80's metalheads/stoners, but it really is so much more. It's about achieving more than people think you can. It's about having fun with your best friend in that special way that only exists between two best friends. It's about believing in your friends and helping them achieve what you believe they can achieve. I'm sure most people wouldn't read this much into a movie about two stoners going back in time so that they can pass grade 12 history, but this movie has stuck with me so much since I saw it in elementary school and I'm pretty sure these themes are why I like it so much. Since I can be very quiet sometimes and loud and silly other times, people often mistake this for me being dumb and not knowing what's going on. Very often throughout university, people would assume that I was out to lunch in lectures, or be very surprised when I piped up with a point. That really gets under my skin, as it comes from a place of someone assuming intellectual superiority over you. Bill and Ted acing their final history presentation and sticking it to the teachers and students who are just waiting for them to fail? I've been there and it feels so good.

Third is that the movie was released in 1989, which was when the phenomenon of 80's glam and pop metal was starting to die. Motley Crue released Dr. Feelgood, which was their last album with any hits and Warrant was about to release "Cherry Pie" which was the song that basically killed "hair metal". As such, this soundtrack is a significant blip in the death of a music genre. Pop/glam metal was still a very bankable genre, as, to be honest, Bill and Ted basically only exists to make money off of the fad, so there's a ton of bands here who I'm sure were signed to major labels after Guns 'n Roses broke and then never amounted to anything. The only band with a recognizable name on the soundtrack is Extreme, who themselves were (actually are, just found out they are still active) bit players in the genre. Everyone else is a band that I have never heard of. They all sound the part and play the hair metal sound to a t, but none are significant in any way.

I love hearing stories about the music industry before Napster destroyed it, because it is so obvious that almost every executive had no idea what they were doing and were clueless about music. "Appetite for Destruction went like 25 times platinum? Well, better sign Shark Island then!" How much money did labels lose on these bands! I need to know!

I guess the funny part is that any of these bands probably could have been pretty big if they had gotten a slick music video or something, but it obviously never worked out.

I'll leave you with this song, which magically started playing over the sound system when I saw Rebecca standing by herself in the Bullring while I was meeting her for our second date*:

*Did not actually happen.

The Man is Just Playin' Hits

Last night I went to Long Winter TO, a monthly concert/art series that runs through the winter months in Toronto and is curated by Fucked Up. It was a wonderful time and I would encourage anyone reading this to go to it next year. I have three (3) takeaways from the event:

1. Drew Fairservice is a wonderful pretty princess who says only great things about baseball. He was part of a panel discussion about the Blue Jays with a few other people. WHAT A NEAT GUY.

2. There was guy who did a DJ set in the main room that had a cyberpunk gimmick that was one of the most entertaining things I've seen. He had a shimmering effect on his voice and wore a pair of goggles that had huge flashlights for eyes that shone into the crowd while tons of smoke shot up around him. He also had a guy in a shiny skull mask and a cloak who just hung out on the back of the stage. It felt like I was in a nightclub in Ghost in the Shell. It was très cool.

3. Marvelous Mark also played a set yesterday. The band played SO LOUD. He used to be in the Marvelous Darlings. I was really into the set. After listening to their full-length today, I can say that this is the first release of 2016 that I am really into. It's just wonderful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Moments from Toronto Ska 2004-2010: Streetlight Manifesto at The Kathedral

When I discovered the bands Catch-22 and Streetlight Manifesto in grade 10, it was an illuminating experience. I was diving head-first into ska music and it seemed like every band I found was even better than the last one. These two bands, who I group together because they shared a substantial amount of members, maybe stood out the most at that time and both Keasbey Nights and Everything Goes Numb didn't leave my walkman too much.

I came across Catch-22 first. The first thing I liked was that they played really fast. Even today, the faster it is, the more I like it. If you play in a punk band, don't be a wiener. Up the tempo. I was also still learning bass guitar at this time and I was starting to get a lot better at the instrument, so I really took to anything that had a difficult or interesting bassline in it. Pretty much every Catch song had that and I learned almost every song on Keasbey, passing most of my alone time by playing the album front to back.

I also thought the lyrics were really good. In hindsight, they weren't anything that special, but at the time it certainly seemed like they were just phenomenal.

The first time I heard Streetlight Manifesto, it seemed like everything that I liked about Catch-22 had been amplified in this new band. The songs were longer, but not slower, the songwriting more complex, more intricate hornlines, and better lyrics. The basslines, in my expert opinion, having played both albums all the way through a significant amount of times, are "about the same" in terms of difficulty.

Re-listening now, the musicianship is still pretty astounding. I mean, the intro of "Failing, Flailing"? That's some big time horn work. The songs are also really long, with most hovering five minutes, but they really don't feel like it. Somehow, with 7 members who are all doing a lot on every song, nobody manages to play over each either. It doesn't sound busy. The record is kind of soured by the band's current place in music, but man is there so much good stuff on here. Damien and I used to talk about all the covers we wanted to play in our first band, Chinese Fingertraps, but we knew that we couldn't go near Streetlight. The songs were just light years beyond us. Something we could only dream about one day being able to play.

Streetlight also seemed a lot more interesting to me because they were still a band, whereas Catch-22 had gone through a huge member change, which greatly impacted the sound and dynamic of the band, then put out Alone in a Crowd, which, in my 15 year-old eyes, rendered them dead to me.

For Damien and I, seeing Streetlight Manifesto live immediately became a top priority, but they seemed to skip Canada on every tour. According to my research at the time, they had only been to Canada once before. That is, until they announced a show at The Kathedral (R.I. fuckin' P.) in June of 10th grade. In hindsight, I didn't really wait that long to see them at all, but it seemed like a fucking eternity back then.

There was only one hitch about the show: It was on a weeknight. Since I was 15, my parents still weren't keen on me going out on a school night. Convincing them to let me go to a show on a school night would take some effort on my part. But this was no ordinary schoolday, no. I happened to have an English final the next morning. When I saw the date, my heart sank because I knew the chances of me actually getting to go to this show would be slim.

The show sold out pretty quickly, before I even had an opportunity to get tickets. It took a little sting out of missing Streetlight Manifesto, but it still tore me apart. How was I missing this momentous event? How would I live with it? What if they did the live thing where they play "Keasbey Nights" in the middle of "Point/Counterpoint"? The regret was destroying me.

In a stroke of luck, a batch of new tickets got released for the show. I now knew that this was meant to be. Somehow, I was seeing Streetlight Manifesto. Missing the show was not an option.

I went on the offensive on my parents: I NEED to go to this show. I can't really study that much for this English exam because it's one essay question. I'll study all day when I get home from my previous exam. I already read To Kill a Mockingbird, the book we were covering, in grade 8. This is the most important thing in my life right now.

I managed to win them over and get permission to go the day before the show. I was ecstatic and couldn't believe it.

The next order business was getting some of this new batch of tickets. Damien skipped school for the first part of the day so that he could go to the Sunrise Music at Scarborough Town Centre and get them. This felt really scandalous at the time. Streetlight Manifesto meant so much to us that we would put it before our education! We pictured a huge line of kids and us getting the last pair, narrowly securing our place at the show and, by extension, Toronto ska history.

In reality, Damien was in the store by himself and described the process as "The least required thing ever". But hey, it seemed like a big deal at the time!

This was one of the first shows of the summer and that really excited me. The school year was almost over and that meant that I had a whole summer full of going to shows and having no responsibilities ahead of me. This show felt like the first part of a huge great thing that I was going to do this summer. The scene of looking at Queen Street, the setting sun shining across it, from the south side of the intersection, a line of ska kids in front of me, remains in mind. It also always felt so much better to be standing in the sun in a t-shirt and shorts instead of fighting off the cold outside of a venue.

It seemed like everyone in the line shared our excitement about what was coming. This increased exponentially when we all heard the band sound-checking "A Moment of Violence" from outside the venue.

The venue was really hot. I think the show was sold-out and if it wasn't, then it was certainly close. It was also about 30 degrees outside. A day of extreme heat like, coupled with a capacity crowd, made for a very hot and sweaty show. The only people we knew at the show were a group of girls we used to refer to as the "3-6 Gypsy Crew" because they would wear quasi-gypsy-ish clothes,basically meaning those baggy skirts that were popular for a few years when I was in high school (c. 2004-2007). We thought that this name was HILARIOUS. Like, we considered it one of our greatest inventions. One of them was my first girlfriend, named Klara. I asked her out on MSN messenger, we hung out one time, and then we broke up because I ditched her to play Sega with my friend Vito one time. I used to see her at shows all the time and I would act like it was awkward, but it really wasn't. She was nice. Damien dated one of them too. It was funny to Damien and I that the 36GC were the only people we hung out with at this show though.

In hindsight, that name is... still very funny to me. You just had to be there, I guess. My friends and I are hilarious.

The first band that played was The Knockouts. They were a local Toronto band used to play a lot of ska shows and had a really bad song called "Peanut Buddha". I remember absolutely nothing about their set.

The band Whole Wheat Bread were supposed to play the show, but didn't get over the border. I liked that band in high school, but realize now that they were one of the most embarrassing things I was ever genuinely into.

The second band who played was a pre-mainstream breakout Gym Class Heroes. They were still mainly a hip-hop group with live instruments and were mainly known for their song "Taxi Driver", in which most of the rhymes are emo band names. I will say that they put on a really good live show. There were next to no kids who knew them there and they completely won over the crowd. This is one of the funnier "saw them before they were big" stories that I have for sure.

The anticipation for Streetlight Manifesto killed me. Something that oddly sticks with me from this show is a kid behind me yelling "AW, IT'S THE T-BONE!" as the trombone player was getting his stuff ready.

The band ended up playing pretty much all of Everything Goes Numb, because that was the only release they had at the time, and man, that was all I wanted. They did indeed play "Keasbey Nights" in the middle of "Point/Counterpoint", as well as "9MM and a 3-Piece Suit" in the middle of "Failing, Flailing" (I think) and this seemed like the craziest thing in the world to me. The Kathedral (my favourite venue ever in a landslide victory) got so hot that the mirrors behind the bar fogged up and I had never seen that before. I took that to be a testament to my, and the crowd's, undying love for the band. Nothing, not even the extreme heat and dehydration, would stop us from skanking!

I was in awe of the show after it happened. All of my clothes were soaked through in sweat and it felt like I had just experienced something truly special.

I told my friends at school, my friends at Damien's school, my friends in the scene, anyone who would listen, that they had missed a momentous occasion that would never happen again. No Streetlight show would ever be like this one! It would be recorded and referenced forever and ever. Every ska fan in Toronto would forever be unbelievably jealous that Damien and I had been at this show.

Obviously my teenaged self was prone to hyperbole about ska bands (hey, still am), but I was also right in a lot of ways too. The next time I saw Streetlight, they played the biggest-capacity concert hall in Toronto, the Kool Haus, while opening for Reel Big Fish. They never played a venue as small as the Kathedral again and definitely never will. This was a singular occasion in being a fan of Streetlight Manifesto in Toronto. Though it is a little high-and-mighty of me to say it, it really wasn't the same seeing them again after this. I mean, of course it wasn't. Seeing a band in a small, intimate setting is better than seeing them in a giant cave of a venue every time.

It's also special because I saw the band at a specific point in time too. They put out their second album in 2007 and while it was good, it didn't carry the same "holy fuck, this thing is a masterpiece" feeling that came with Everything Goes Numb being the band's only piece of music. Being a ska fan in the mid-2000's basically meant having your heart and imagination being captured by Streetlight Manifesto's Everything Goes Numb, so for me, this show is my experience in a giant phenomenon that was very special to a lot of people.

Don't get me started on how Streetlight Manifesto aren't a ska band though, that's an argument for another time.

Another way that hyperbole is relevant is that Streetlight Manifesto kind of sucks now. They're now one of those bands who play a "Last Tour Ever!" tour every fucking year, and that makes me really sad. They've put a lot of music since I saw them in 2005; a 2006 re-recording of Keasbey Nights, 2007's Somewhere in the Between, a 2010 collection of covers 99 Songs of the Revolution, Volume 1, 2013's The Hands that Thieve; and while those vary from "still pretty good!" to "meh", none of them meant as much as that debut album. They've gone through a ton of member changes and while all the new guys are just as excellent as the ones they replaced, it's not the same seeing someone play someone else's music. The version of the band I saw playing Everything Goes Numb had this special, ethereal "the best band at this, doing this at the top of their game" quality to it that only comes with discovering music that is truly special to you and getting the experience the way it was originally conceived and performed. It's a special feeling that's hard to describe, but you know when you're experiencing it.

Nothing gold can stay.

Vancouver City-Centre

I recently took a trip to Vancouver to take part in an art history conference. It was my first time in British Columbia. I'm not sure I have anything substantial to say about the province or the city or anything, but here are some takeaways from this trip.

1. Rain City is the most apt nickname for a city ever. It was already pissing rain when I got here and it has only stopped intermittently.

2. Adidas are "in". I've seen a ton of people wearing chunky Superstars. Lots of other people in Adidas too. Vancouver loves Adidas. Since coming back, I've noticed a bunch of people wearing them too. Did this happen overnight?

3. Cariboo lager is fucking tight.

4. I knew to expect some radically different views when I came to British Columbia, but I was still blown away by the landscape. The first night in the city was spent mostly in the east end, so I only saw cityscape. As I made my way to the first morning of the conference, I walked through a rose garden and then came out into a clearing and suddenly had a clear view of the entire bay and several mountains shrouded in mist. I had never seen anything like that before in my life and was awed.

5. Almost every building had a neat little rack for umbrellas in its entrance. I've never seen these anywhere before, but it makes sense that these would be needed in Vancouver where it rains constantly and people carry around umbrellas for that reason. What are you going to do? Just carry around your umbrella with you in every establishment? It's the little differences like this that remind you that you aren't home while you travel and that's pretty cool, I think.

6. Vancouver, and I would assume the entire west coast, has a much larger Asian population than Ontario. It makes sense, when you think about it, but I guess I didn't expect it. I wish I had tried a sushi spot while I was there, as I'm sure it would have been wonderful.

7. Hey, front desk at the Best Western Sands:

8. On this trip I got to meet the art historian who is the top name in my narrow field of historiography/art biography. I use her a lot in my research and she had really great stuff to say about my thesis. That was REALLY COOL.

9. There was a big time wiener/jerk presenting at the conference who wouldn't shut up about how many books he had read and how smart he was. He made every conversation he had with every person at the conference about himself and was a major league narcissist who has obviously been sucking on a silver spoon his whole goddamn life. I feel like there will probably be one of him at every conference I go to. Everyone else was really nice though!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, You Do. You Have Great Lingerie. You Also Have the Cotton Underwear that's Been Washed a Thousand Times, and It's Hanging on the Thing



TIM CHANDLER sits alone at a desk lit by a desk lamp.


I'm going to distract myself for 15 mintues from the Alfred Gell article by writing a blog post. I simply can't deal with the guilt of not having posted on Saturday and Sunday. #ManuscriptMarch is a fucking sham. I am a fraud.


Thought I would switch things up there and work in a different medium for the introduction. That was my first official foray into screenwriting.

*bows amidst a down-pouring of roses from the audience*

I thought I would also switch things up and revive something I used to do a lot on this blog, the High Fidelity-influenced series of "Top 5" lists. Let's shake off the rust and get down to arbitrary list-making business.

Top 5 Albums That I Have Listened to Today:

5. The Brave Little Abacus- Masked Dancers: Concern In So Many Things You Forget Where You Are
4. Wayfarer- What We've Become
3. CHVRCHES- The Bones of What You Believe
2. Tigers Jaw- Charmer
1. Dillinger Four- Vs. God

Though album #3 just ended and New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies started and that is one hundred fucking percent number 1.

Top 5 Favourite Podcast Episodes Over the Last Two Weeks:

5. Birds All Day- Episode 50
4. Cheap Heat- No Shane, No Gain
3. Bill Simmons Podcast- The Watch Takeover
2. Art of Wrestling- Tony Mamaluke
1. Turned Out a Punk- Melanie Kaye

Top 5 Blue Jays, as per Their Performance in Spring Training

5. Darwin Barney
4. Justin Smoak
3. Marcus Stroman
2. Michael Saunders
1. Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki plays for the Blue Jays and that is so surreal that I still don't believe it sometimes.

Top 5 Quotes from "Homer Goes to College" that I Would Like to Direct to the Dean of the College of Arts

5. "Boy, I can't wait to take some of the starch out of that stuffed shirt."
4. "Hello, Dean? You're a stupid-head!"
3. "Marge, someone squeezed all the life out of these kids. And unless movies have lied to me, it's a crusty, bitter, old dean."
2. "Oh, I hate that lousy dean."
1. "Yeah, you won this round Dean, but the war isn't over."

Top 5 TV Shows Right Now

5. Schitt's Creek
4. Show Me a Hero (It counts?)
3. The Last Man on Earth
2. Man Seeking Woman
1. Togetherness

Top 5 TV Shows That I Can't Wait For the Start Of

5. True Detective, I guess
4. Documentary Now!
3. Rick and Morty
2. Regular Show
1. Silicon Valley

So long folks.

Hey Zealousy

See, I already fell off and haven't posted anything since Friday. If I had committed to writing something every day of March, my credibility would crumbled over the weekend, but, due to my incredible foresight, I avoided this problem.

A round of applause for me lowering expectations of myself.

I think it's important for people to remember that jealousy can be a fucking awful thing. I mean it's normal to want things that other people have, but if you let go unchecked, it can turn into a very ugly feeling  and something ghastly. I think I usually do a pretty good of avoiding this, but lately one of my friends has been on a huge tour of the United States with his band, which has been a dream of mine since I started listening to punk music. I find myself seeing pictures posted by him and his bandmates and wishing that I could be doing it instead. Why? He's the one who put the work into it and is the one who deserves it.

I'm pretty good at catching myself before I think anything completely moronic, but it's still kind of there. Rather than thinking "I wish I was doing that" shouldn't I be thinking "I should be working towards that"? That would make more sense. Also, my band is going to put out our second album, one which I am very proud of, soon, so I really shouldn't be bellyaching about all of this.

Maybe this jealously is growing out of the fact that life has been kind of mundane lately. Wake up. Make coffee. Watch an episode of TV. Shower. Decide where to work. Work on editing the thesis. Make dinner. Sleep.

This has been the months of January, February, and now March. I guess this upcoming trip to Vancouver is more needed than I thought because it will mix up what I' doing and where I'm at.

This is all I have for you today. Just a little short guy.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Six More Weeks of Winter

Skateboarding is one of my favourite things in the world.

While I was waiting to get my haircut yesterday, I flipped through a copy of Thrasher that was at the barbershop. How awesome is it that they had Thrasher there? One of the features in the magazine was about a tour that the Birdhouse team, my current favourite team in skateboarding, did of the Midwest. The cover photo for the story was a close-up shot of team member Mike Davis' bare feet, which looked god awful from being banged up skateboarding. On his left foot was a tattoo of the Thrasher pentagram logo. The other members of his team got Thrasher tattoos to score them points in the magazine's annual "King of the Road" road trip/scavenger hunt, but Davis refrained because he, rightly, thought that getting a tattoo on his foot would interfere with his skating in the contest. Then, a few weeks after the contest was over, he just got the tattoo on his own, just because he thinks Thrasher is sick.

This is a big reason why I love the Birdhouse team, but also why I love skateboarding so fucking deeply. Once corporations and companies moved into skateboarding following the post-Tony Hawk's Pro Skater boom, there's been a seemingly endless quest by some entities to distill what is "cool" about skateboarding and then sell it back to kids. The X-Games, Street League, West 49, PacSun, all of that shit. Thrasher, and the Birdhouse team who are certainly the magazine's darlings, remains committed to presenting skateboarding as what it is: a personal expression. This isn't about a pretty narrative or Monster Energy sponsorships. It is about doing the coolest things on a skateboard you can.

For me, that tattoo on feet that have been ruined by a life of skateboarding is proof of the inverse. Despite how hard some people may try to take skateboarding away from skateboarders, it will never happen. This is because the people trying to take it away and sell it in a mall don't skateboard and don't get it. And pal, if you try, I can smell the corporate stink of your DCs and Element deck a fuckin' mile away.

Skateboarding is perfect thing. It represents youth, freedom, and expression. Those are things that I create myself, through thinking and experiences. You cannot sell me those on a t-shirt. Skateboarding can never be taken away from me.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I Got De Right Tempicha

For a long time my main goal in life was to be in a band and write and put out a full-length album. As a kid, this seemed like a huge deal, that putting out a record would be a landmark event in my life. When Beat Noir put out Ecotone in January 2014, I guess I accomplished that.

Timmy's list of lifetime goals (started in grade 8):

1. Put out a record.
2. Kiss a girl.
3. Penis in their mouth? I think it feels good?

It feels weird looking back on this now. I remember being at an art history group dinner when we put the album up and suddenly feeling so excited. I had to keep it to myself and contain my elation, as I couldn't jump up and say "my band put out its first album!" It was a singular feeling. I'm still very proud of that record, but the excitement of it existing passed a while ago. It feels weird to have such a major goal out of the way now.

That's not to say that I'm not trying in Beat Noir now. Just the opposite. Our second record is done and, I think, is better in every way. As long as the band exists, we won't stop trying to make better music.

But Ecotone doesn't quite feel like I completely accomplished the goal because I didn't write the songs. I still contributed to Ecotone; wrote all the basslines, added song ideas here and there, miscellaneous shit, I was completely a big part of that record. I guess my ideal scenario of putting out a record would have consisted of a collection of my own songs. I've been trying to write songs since high school, but to be honest none of them have ever really come together in a good way. Maybe I just need a band for them? I'm not so sure.

I guess this means that this goal, my dream that I've held onto since I wrote a really bad ska-punk song about the rich kids at St. Mike's, in F# major, is still alive. I will keep telling myself that one day I will sit down, finish some songs and put them out in some way.

In reality though, it is accomplished. Ecotone has been released. 300 copies were pressed. It has liner notes. I will amend my list of goals to look like this:

1.A. Put out a record.
1.B. Put out a record of my own songs.
2. Kiss a girl.
3. Penis in their mouth? I think it feels good?

Because of the strike that I was able to run through option number 1 in January 2014, I've thought about other things that I want to work towards in my life. I think it's important to have one shining goal in your life. Good for your mind. Good to keep you occupied when you don't know what to do in down time.

I think my new goal is to write a novel. I've done a lot of writing and a fair amount of long form writing. I've loved reading my entire life. I really appreciate the style and effort to goes into a good novel. It also happens that I am much better at writing prose than I am at writing songs. I guess I'll keep hammering away at The Waterpark and Hands in Space.

Also, IMU is now officially an "online zine". I've decided that this is a much more palatable than the term "blog".

Also, I got a haircut at Town Barber today and I can't recommend them enough. A wonderful barbershop.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Punk Fashions For The Spring Formal

It's funny that I wrote that post yesterday, because today a story surfaced about Tom Delonge wanting blink-182 to sound like U2 and Coldplay. The two are not related, I swear!

Also, Travis is the worst fucking interview ever. Tom may write the shittier and more self-important songs in blink, but at least he was entertaining to watch.

Travis is clearly trying to be the one to come out of this with punk points and be the one who always wanted to record 5 more Take Off Your Pants and Jacket's, but if you take a look at the one album that he and Mark recorded without Tom, +44's When Your Heart Stops Beating you get a pretty good idea about what would have been and maybe what is forthcoming. Those two with Matt Skiba? Like, I love me some Alkaline Trio, but Matt is basically the "Tom" of that band. Sure, "Draculina" isn't nearly as bad as the Angels and Airwaves discography, but it's on that trajectory.

I mean, combine the awfulness of My Shame is True with "the past is only the future with the lights on" and you've got what's forthcoming.

I don't really know why I'm writing this, because I really don't care about the album at all. The blink reunion thing was just floating around in my head for a few days and then this story came up today. I won't sweat the definition of content.

I was thinking about trying to write a post on IMU every day for March. I was excited about this idea, but I also realized that it would not happen. I thought that if I made an official "I'm doing this" post on the blog, it would spur me to do it more, but that's really not true. If I don't commit to an every day, then I don't have to be pissed off at myself when it doesn't happen. Funny how avoiding goals does that for you.

In lieu of promising a post every day, I will counter with my same old promise of "writing a lot more". I've got a bunch of ideas for ska stories, personal anecdotes and band write-ups banked, so when I run into writer's block, I will turn to those. Let's call it manuscript march.


I would like for to become popular because that would mean that a lot of people would read what I write. I've determined that there are two ways for this to happen:

1. My band gets a lot bigger. Big enough that people want to hear what a member of Beat Noir has to say. Suddenly the continued use of blogspot as a platform becomes "retro" and "ironic".

It's not. I legitimately like more than any other writing platform and it's what I'm used to.

2. I transform the blog into a music blog, where I provide a ton of music links and downloads. Considering that more or less all of my music collection is pilfered from these to begin with, this seems kind of dumb.

So, I guess we just continue on and hope for option 1 or something.

Thesis is hard. Stressed about a conference. Going to British Columbia for the first time next week. Going to see the ocean for the first time next week. Think I should be doing more. Dillinger Four is still the only band in the world that makes sense to me at the moment.

"Are you ready to be the Davey to the new Goliath?"

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Throw My Hands Up at the World Sometimes

When blink-182 got back together in 2009, it seemed like the biggest deal in the world to me. A big enough deal that I watched the Grammys live that year. When they confirmed that they were going to be a band again at the awards show, I got up grabbed my hair in disbelief. I'm not entirely sure why one of the biggest bands in recent history reforming after being broken up for only 4 years seemed like such a monumental thing, but it completely did.

I think this is due to my naivety about the music business at the time. Since I was only in second year university, I didn't have a very big world view and most of what I thought about boiled down to which bar in downtown Guelph I was going to that Thursday and why I didn't have a girlfriend. Odd as it may sound, I was really sad about a break-up and blink-182 reforming counted as a MAJOR victory for me in my mind. I may have been single and sad, but a pop band had gotten back together and that somehow negated the former. I was all-in on believing that blink-182 would be back to the way they were before Self-Titled came out and their career from 2003-2009, experimental pop-punk albums, Angels and Airwaves, +44, reality shows, had all been some weird detour on what they were supposed to do: play generic, immature pop-punk songs sloppily. The idea of blink getting back together because they realized that this is how they make money and that there was a ton of money in it for them never entered my head.

This is of course because the version of blink-182 that I loved was the one I grew up with. I took the version of themselves that showed in Urethra Chronicles II or MTV Cribs to be completely factual it was such a huge interest of mine that I thought I needed. It was also a time when I was so into pop-punk that I would put bands on a pedestal. For some reason, I thought that every punk band was formed in the interest of doing things with your friends and was without reproach for that reason. I thought that deep down, blink just wanted to play pop-punk songs and be a band together. The idea of "blink-182" was this perfect thing in my mind.

The funny part is that, in hindsight, it was obviously a huge cash grab by the band. Like how could I not see that as a 19 year-old?

When I saw blink on tour that summer, they did their best to play blink's prankster reputation by telling nonstop dick and fart jokes on stage and taking lengthy breaks in between songs. But man, they were like almost 40 while doing this. When I saw it live, I convinced myself that this was the "true blink" coming back and being a band again, but obviously it was the band playing up their image for the sake of raking in ticket sales on nostalgia.

I mean, while Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker gave up on the tire fire that was +44 pretty quickly, Tom kept making Angels and Airwaves records the whole time he was back in blink. He clearly didn't give a shit about being in the band.

The story fed to fans was that Tom Delonge (of course pronounced Day-longe-ay, like on The Mark, Tom and Travis Show) had visited Travis Barker in the hospital after he survived a plane crash. The two agreed that they should be friends and that reunion grew out of this meeting. I mean, there might be some truth to that, but Tom just quit/got kicked out of the band again in 2015, so this couldn't have been a complete reconciliation.

Something that sticks out oddly in my mind is a tweet from after the reunion was announced. Mark tweeted something like "U2 is on Letterman tonight. Tom is going to love this!" A lot of people made fun of Angels and Airwaves sounding like a terrible version of U2, because that's basically what they were. BUT, this tweet had to have been their label saying "Okay Mark, you need to make the kids believe you're friends again", right? That's the way it seems to me, at least.

I guess the main thing for me here is looking back on something that was once everything for me and a huge deal and realizing it was just a hunk of BS. Maybe that's how everything in life works though.

Fuck the world and listen to Dillinger Four, one of the only real bands in the entire world.