Friday, March 31, 2017

Don't Want to Lose What All Those Words Meant

The summer of 2015 was the last time that Beat Noir played shows regularly. During that summer, I bought a disposable camera with the intention of continuing that trend for the foreseeable future. I kind of always considered myself the archivist of the band and tried to make sure that I would have a lot of stuff to remember each thing we did.

I recently got these pictures developed and my friend Erik posted a few recently as well. I figured that posting a few of them here will serve as a proper memorial to one of my favourite things ever and putting film pictures on a blogspot will also be the strongest pledge I can make to my dedication to dead media.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm Remembering Those Times Too

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my identity and the various pots I've got my spoons in in my life. I do think that I crossover a lot of subcultures, but I wonder if a particular one wins out over the others in terms of the perception of me by others. How do others see me?

We don't live in a world of absolutes, so I guess the easy answer to this issue would be that your identity depends on the person you're talking to. Each person you interact with approaches you with a wide range of experiences, preconceptions, and biases which all affect how they consider you. To my co-workers, my love of baseball and music stick out a lot more than my interest in art because we all already share an interest in the latter. As a result of that, they probably see me as more of a punk dude or a "bro", because let me tell ya, the artworld knows fuck-all about sports.

Also, as a sidenote, I am consistently surprised by how little people know about punk music and the subculture. I guess I spent a lot of time hanging out with mostly punk people, which explains it, but it still surprises me when I mention a band like Against Me! and get blank stares.

By the same token, I'm sure that I'm the "art" person to my punk friends.

But with this in mind, can I control my identity? If I try hard enough, will one identity win out over the other ones? What the fuck is my identity now, anyways?

I guess that I've been thinking about this a lot because for a long time I could be pigeonholed as a punk. This was especially true when I was in Beat Noir, as BN was always my main pursuit artistically. Being a band guy was an integral part of my personality and I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "Are you an artist?" since starting my job. Since I'm not a practicing artist, at least in the "makes tangible artworks for the purpose of showing them in a show" sense of the term, my response was always "I'm a musician", which usually led to some haughty art fuck being slightly condescending about my elision of "artist" and "punk band".

Now I am sort of not a musician because Beat Noir isn't a band anymore. I'm still (half-assedly) working on songs, but not seriously enough that I would label it as my main pursuit. I've also had a lot of trouble doing any creative writing lately, as I'm sure you can tell if you frequent this blog with anything resembling regularity. For a time I would have maybe self-identified as a writer, but I've been kind of doubting that lately too. I am still less than a year removed from finishing Engineering Failure, undoubtedly the biggest writing project I've ever finished, so I might be being a little hard on myself, but the aforementioned doubt does carry a lot of validity with it. Maybe I'm not a writer.

Do I become a "Museum Educator" now? This is definitely not how I want to be known. I need to avoid that, for the sake of my sanity.

I feel like I'm using a lot of big words in this post to make myself feel better about not writing so much,

The project that I outlined late last year has slowed to a trickle lately. I initially was very gung-ho about it and outlined a whole schedule to keep myself on-track, but I can assure you that I am very behind schedule now. I think I'm still in fine shape, but I do really need to stay on it.

In thinking about my identity, I came to the conclusion that calling myself a writer would probably be what would make me feel most comfortable about myself. I also don't want to ever let go of the part of myself that's a competent musician in a punk band.

The path to both of those labels lies in working on stories and working on songs and writing on this fuckin' blog. It's important to remember what inspires you, hold onto the feeling it gives you like it's rope ladder, and never look away from it. As easy as it can be to let yourself grow stagnant and sink into watching TV, you can never let that happen, because nobody ever changed the world by sitting on their couch.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Entry #100 on the "Songs That Make Me Think About Jack and Cry" List.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Through Troubled Times

It is fair to say that most people's opinion of the world in the recent past has been a negative one and this is mostly due to American politics. The results of the most recently general election and the ensuing results has been divisive to say the least and the kickback online from everything not far-right on the political spectrum has been pronounced online. With an event as significant as the election of President Trump, the trend on social media has been that you must saying something about it, or risk being seen as "un-political", which, in a US election, is next to evilness. Seemingly every person in North America had something they did to express their opinions on the new President of the United States.

One such instance was Josh Caterer, the frontman of the great Smoking Popes posting a video of himself playing an acoustic cover of Elvis Costello's cover of "(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?"

I had never heard the song before, immediately checked it out, and found that it really resonated with me. Since then it's gotten a lot of plays and has sort of become my personal anthem for navigating the world right now.

I find that the phrase "Peace and Love" can be irritating because, for me, it's come to mean that the person is naïve in matters of politics. Though I recognize the importance of the hippie counter-culture in terms of 1960's resistance movements, most people that adhere to that lifestyle now are morons. To say "We just need peace and love!" is to dramatically simplify global politics to the point that it is clear you do not understand the state of the world. It's the equivalent of saying "People need to be good." Of course they do, but that doesn't mean that most will do the opposite. No shit we need peace and love. How about you add free food to that too?

That type of statement really bothers me. To the point that I always skip the Fountains of Wayne song linked above. It's on a favourite album of mine. And I always have to skip a song in the middle!

But this whole context is part of what makes the Elvis Costello song so fucking good. The lyrics to the song accept that the world is completely irreparably fucked. It's not about saying "We must do this" in a short-sighted way, it's about asking why humanity won't do that, which absolutely must be asked. Rather than blindly looking up to a vague ideal, it presents you with a darker reality.

As I've been compulsively listening to songs every day, the chorus has played in the back of my mind while I think about ways to be better and to help. It's impossible to be good all of the time, but it's important to try to do it a lot.

It's okay to be cynical about the state of the world. It's kind of impossible not to, actually. But it's also important to remember to not be cynical about how to fix the world.