July 24, 2021

It’s about Time….It’s about Space…


Growing up in the 60’s, there was a war in our living room every night.  
The horror of the Vietnam War was broadcast in gory detail. We had the domestic assassinations of the Kennedy brothers,  and Martin Luther King.  
We had a front row seat to riots in the streets, soldiers shooting protesters, hippies, John Lennon says the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.  Of course that was taken out of context. 

So it was no wonder the dream of space travel caught the imagination of our world.  We gotta get out of this place.  
There was a sit-com I remember called IT’S ABOUT TIME, by the same guy who did Gilligan’s Island.  America wanted to get lost.



“To the moon Alice!” So said the proto- Neanderthal Ralph Kramden, the bus driver with the anger issues, the man who inspired Fred Flintstone, named after my father, Fred, not Flintstone. And yet Alice always had the upper hand in the series.  In real life, not so much. 
The sixties were an angry time. A time of revolution, sadness, promise, hope was still alive, rock music would change the world, before it became irrelevant. Rock music….or the world?

What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back in time

When the only people that existed were troglodytes... 
Cave men, cave women, Neanderthal, troglodytes. 
Let's take the average cave man at home, listening to his stereo. 
Sometimes he'd get up, try to do his thing. 
He'd begin to move, something like this,
"Dance...dance". 
When he got tired of dancing alone, he'd look in the mirror,
"Gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman, gotta find a woman". 
He'd go down to the lake where all the women would be swimming or washing clothes or something. 
He'd look around and just reach in and grab one. 
"Come here...come here".
He'd grab her by the hair. 
You can't do that today, fellas, 'cause it might come off. 
You'd have a piece of hair in your hand and she'd be swimming away from you (Ha, ha)
This one woman just lay there, wet and frightened. 
He said: "Move... Move". “. Jimmy Castor Bunch

In grade eight we had a science class called TSM - Time, Space and Matter.  The teacher Mr. Hamm would fill his science lectures with the most horrible puns.  Chirds burping ( birds chirping), I resemble that remark ( instead of I resent that remark) stuff like that.  But I have so many great memories of a great education.  We had a class in grade nine called oceanography, where Miss Dillon would help us dissect sharks- Don’t cut that organ…too late..the entire hallway reeking of dead sharks.  A class called Environmental Science/ Environmental Studies, taught by a science teacher and a social studies teacher.  Definitely a liberal indoctrination but I bought that cake and ate it too.

We had a social studies class taught by Mr. Green, white short sleeve shirts, greased brush cut.  We studied and played a simulation game based on the formation of the US 13 states, called Disunia.  How prescient that was, predicting the Divided States that is a reality today, not a simulation.  How a group of us conspired to take the game in a direction that the teachers did not want it to go. We were gathered in a room and Mr. Felmet lectured us on “ ruining it”” for all the other kids, and ordered us to stop trying to direct the simulated history in a direction that was unacceptable. It was important for budding citizens to understand how democracy worked. I remember the bus ride field trip to Salem to see a real committee working on a bill at the legislature.  
The riding back in the dark, sitting next to Rhonda, my hand under her sweater, making out….dear sweet Rhonda, whose heart I broke so hard that she next went out with Glen, President of the Young Republicans.
I may never forgive myself. 
I wonder some days what happened to all those people.  Geoffrey with the wild Jewish hair, glasses with tape on the bridge, and braces that looked like metal  claws on his unbrushed teeth, saliva accumulated and dried on permanent chapped lips. Geoffrey was always writing his manifesto, such small handwriting, almost a secret cryptic script. Was he a genius or crackpot, or both? Is he locked up or did he just get old like the rest of us?
Junk science may yet prove to be the blueprint for modern conspiracy theory.  
 In 1950 Norbert Weiner wrote The Human Use of Human Beings, his treatise on Cybernetics- a word he coined. 
“The sense of tragedy is that the world is not a pleasant little nest made for our protection, but a vast and largely hostile environment, in which we can achieve great things only by defying the gods; and that this defiance inevitably brings its own punishment. The world of the future will be an even more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves.
We leave the last word to George Jetson, another TV dad, who struggled with his job at Spacely Sprockets, the demands of his wife and family, even the dog.  




July 18, 2021

Rust Never Sleeps, And Feels Anxious All The Time, Wants To Upgrade, But Needs More Memory

 

Rust Never Sleeps, Feels Anxious All The Time,  Wants To Upgrade, But Needs More Memory.  

Time is the great leveller.  We waste so much of it as  we age. I am at the age where time wasted vastly outweighs time remaining. 

Then one day, while I was still consumed with the anxiety of the living, I no longer wanted an end to it all; I feel the thirst of the parched, I crave to savour the restless ennui, to parse my remaining words, to subdivide my landlocked limitations, selling off parcels of strained wisdom, while considering strained prunes, and straining to hear full sentences. 

We have a shelf life that is unknown to us at the time of assembly.  While Life is finite, it can expand as far as the mind will allow. However, in the end…well, there is an end. 

There is always an ending.  I have had many beginnings, many restarts, many do overs, but now I feel I am on the verge of getting on. Not getting it on, simply just getting on.  My wife and I have spent 42 years in each other’s company.  We still enjoy waking up to one another. She is my best friend. In some ways our communication has never been better, that is if I hear what she is saying.  

She has always said I have selective hearing, which is the nice way of saying I wasn’t listening.  Lost in my own thoughts, concentrating on what is the best way to put my foot in my mouth, I have always been in my own world.  Many times growing up I was accused of looking right through people, staring intently but on what? 

I see my daughter lost in the familial gaze, and remember my mother twice removed from the moment, Earth to Mom, Earth to Dennis, Earth to Daughter…. Receiving transmissions from God knows where or what.  But now, I really am trying to listen.  I am trying hard to hear and more importantly to comprehend the meaning of what it is that is being said.  

My hearing is both directionally and frequency challenged.  In a room of many voices, I hear no one. If your head is looking down or away, I might not hear all of what you are saying. If your voice is of a certain mid-range frequency, sorry, I hear very little.  

My mind just shuts down as I try to follow multiple conversation threads, and no matter how hard I try, all the threads unravel, and I am left at a loss, and with the loss. Perhaps this is the meaning of hearing loss. This is what is hard about hearing, or not hearing. 

Many years ago, I had a friend who I thought did not like me. I found out she was too vain at that time to wear her glasses in public, so she actually couldn’t even see me. And here I was thinking she just disliked me.  I was invisible to her because I was barely visible.  

There are probably many folks who think I feel I am superior or above them, or why else would I not answer?  I am not above being a snob, but in lots of cases, I am not responding because I am not hearing you, 

Much of what we do is habitual, reflex action, like Pavlov’s dog licking it’s own who-ha. Just now, I was thirsty and reached for the vase with the flower in it. 

 Because it was on the right side, and I am right handed.  The glass, which was actually empty, was on my left. In my thirst, reflex took over, and my right hand reached for the vase. 

Thankfully I am not so far down that rabbit hole that I drank the old flower water, along with the flower.  

But my reflex was to go in that direction.  

Playlist: 

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered  Anita O’Day https://youtu.be/yiW0ANvFpKA

Leaving  Chet Baker  https://youtu.be/DKVWp_Ekl44

Bewildered  James Brown  https://youtu.be/ekq7qCImdWY





June 6, 2021

Nancy Smith


 My friend Nancy Smith is gone.  She had retired the name “Nancy Smith” years ago, reverting back to her birth name, which was Rita.  Ever present at most of the punk shows in the early to mid 80’s with her cassette recorder, Nancy had come from the South and was working at the Crane Library for the Blind, where people would come in or be on staff to read books for the blind. As such, she had access to lots of budget cassettes. 


We were both living in the Manhattan building downtown.  As you entered her apartment, the hallway had black handprints of punk musicians on the wall. There was if I remember a bookcase with some of her collection of these band concert tapes, often many copies of some, as she was very generous in giving copies to the musicians.  It was important to her to document this wild scene we were all a part of at that time. 

Along with Lenore Herb, Nancy played  an important role in the history of the Vancouver Punk scene. Like video and audio fanzines, these recordings didn’t always have the greatest sound quality, but when you put them in the player, you were there again. 

Nancy was sometimes in the middle of the crowd, other times at the back or side. As such, you could hear the difference in sound and perspective.

I’m lousy with dates, but I think it was 1985, when Nancy and I took a trip together to New York.  I remember landing at JFK, and catching a cab to Greenwich Village to her sister’s apartment.  It was a very hot and humid time of year in New York. You would take a shower, then walk out on the street, and in a few minutes feel like you needed another one. The water at that time tasted like a petrochemical by- product.

Her sister gave us her room, where we shared a bed. (We were just friends sleeping in the same piece of furniture.) Her sister was very skinny, chain smoked Virginia slims and had an empty refrigerator with nothing but Tab. Plus she had a cat.  I was not a fan of cats, so of course this cat would whine until we let it in the room, then jump up on the bed.  Also her sister seemed to have an aversion to changing the litter box, so combine that with heat and humidity, and you can see why we spent most of our time exploring the city. 

We didn’t care about the empty fridge, as we spent most of our time enjoying restaurants, like Great Jones Cafe, where I first had blackened redfish, the Moondance Diner, and Carnegie’s. We shopped or rather I shopped, for vintage jackets and clothes, saw Linton Kwesi Johnson at SOB’s, Vernon Reid’s Living Color when it was a heavy three piece, Elliot Murphy in Greenwich Village, plus so much more I forget. 

It was an incredible trip only marred in my memory by how it ended. Nancy was going to stay a bit longer, so I had to make my way to the airport on my own. I asked about a cab, but Nancy said everyone takes the subway- faster and cheaper. So I went down the subway to wait for the train.  You could tell it was going to the airport as many of us had luggage.  

Long story short, there were delays that day on the subway. When it finally picked me up, I was anxiously checking my watch, sure I was going to be late. When I got the airport I ran all the way to the terminal only to be told the plane had boarded and I would have to make other plans. 

Did I say it was a very hot and humid time? By the time I got to the ticket counter, I was so parched,  my tongue was dry and stuck to the roof of my mouth.  The guy at the airline booth had also just arrived late for work as he was on the same train as I was. 

He said there was another flight he could get me on, and gave me a new ticket.  This plane left from a different terminal, so I made my way there.  

Somehow I got lost and ended up on another level and went out these doors and found myself in a grassy field.  I made my way through the grass and got the other terminal, waiting to check in.

When I got to the front of the line, the attendant asked for my ticket. I felt in my pocket.  No ticket.  I checked all my pockets. No ticket. Somewhere between the other terminal and this one, I had lost the ticket. In those days, you needed the physical ticket.  I asked them to watch for my stuff, and ran out the door.  A bus driver shouted something incomprehensible but ended with “your ticket” and pointed to his right.

I went out and saw there was a overhead pass, over-the highway. It was there that I found my ticket in the shrubbery. The only way I saw it was the red carbon that they used in those days. I made my way  back to the other terminal and got on the plane.   We had a stop over in Chicago, so I asked the crew if I could leave the plane for a few minutes and call my brother in Seattle to let him know I would be a few hours late. I made the call, and went to get back on the plane. 

As luck had it, the crew had just changed.  Someone recognized me from the previous part of the flight and they let me back, and New York was a bad memory. 

Actually my first trip to New York with Nancy Smith is a great memory, the airport hijinks notwithstanding. No one could have asked for a better friend to be with.  She was charming in her Southern way, and smart and funny.   

I was shocked to learn today that she was no longer with us.  I am blessed to have known her, and her two wonderful children, who are no longer children, just as I am no longer the young man I was when I went to New York with Nancy Smith. 

Nancy Smith. RIP 2021. 



May 1, 2021

I Love You, I Am No More - Late to the party (again

 


I Love You, I Am No More - Late to the Party( again)


Many years ago, as a younger man, I listened to an alcoholic architect speak of his experiences in the Sixties remarking,” it was like being at a party, and everyone was having sex in the other room.”  The unspoken takeaway was that he was not invited, his only participation being to forever listen to others having fun, but never getting the nod, the secret password, no one taking his hand and pulling him through the entryway to decadent orgies.  

It was an incredibly sad statement, one that youthful ears full of themselves heard only with disdain, not sympathy.  

My MO was to open myself to all experiences, to become a Rimbaud, to be baudy in my body and experience life to the limit. 

Did I win any contests? Another friend remarked twenty years later, “the legend is history.”  

Unspoken history remains for the most part, collecting dust, dissolving in memory loss. After playing in bands for over 40 years, there are plenty of stories I could tell, plenty of songs I could sing if I only remembered the damn words. Seven years ago I joined a group we call The Judys. In our early days we would hang out at the drummer’s apartment, listening to his collection of treasured vinyl like a bunch of 50 year old teenagers. It always amazed me to hear all these sonic influences, faves, desert island discs that I had never, never heard myself.  Like an alternative universe of rock influences,I heard these with fresh ears, fresh being a qualitative,  not quantitative kind of fresh.  Ears before years. Fresh attitude with a seasoned perspective, January to my jaded July. I was late to this party, but I took it in, kicking out jams with the pigs and marmalade.  

Today is May Day,  International Workers Day, the Day of Poles and Holes, a whole day of the celebration of celebration- of getting lucky, frisky fuckery exploding feeling, exploring the possibility, pushing envelopes, eloping, entrancing enchantments. 

The party next door in your mind. 

Come on in- you’re invited. More fun than doing your taxes or cleaning your fridge.  

In this day of doorways, we celebrate the swinging, grand openings as well as  ghosting exits.  

This week Anita Lane died. I had never heard of her before she died. A muse for Nick Cave, she made art and influenced others.  What more can we ask for?  I have been lost in her music, including a cover of Lost in Music, the Nile Rodgers/Sister Sledge hit from the 70’s, also covered by The Fall.  I particularly like her cover of Sexual Healing, and the album Sex O’Clock which she made with Mick Harvey.  

Her song I Love You, I Am No More. 

It kicks off with the start of the bass line for Cannonball ( The Breeders). 

The music reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg, she whisper-sings and sexy talks:

I love you, I am no more

I love you, I am no more

I love you, I am no more

I love you, I am no more


There's a kitten raging at the back door

And I don't know if the kids have eaten

It seems there was some kind of sunset

But I wouldn't know if I was breathing

I wouldn't know if I was breathing


I love you, I am no more


I wouldn't know if I was breathing

I don't know if the kids have eaten

I love you, I am no more


On the radio they said

That the dawn is red

That clouds have feeling

I thought the sky was dead

But I wouldn't know if the stars were bleeding

If the trees were weeping

If the moon was sleeping

If it was peace time or nuclear war


I love you, I am no more


I love you, I am no more


I love you, I am no more


Anita Lane 

Rest In Peace

1960-2021 

April 10, 2021

Lacuna


Just out of grasp, 
he could almost hear  
and almost see 
The flicker of a tongue
though it wouldn’t stop long enough 
to actually read it
But he remembered how it tasted
what it used to taste like 
Was blood and honey 
and the salt of your inner thigh 
It felt real so urgent
Except
there is something missing.  
Something about a song, 
A lyric that kept repeating
Until it almost made sense
But only for only a moment and now gone
Now the crucial part was missing
There was an absence 
more real than the memory itself
beyond his grasp
beyond his fingers numb and frozen 
the wind blew through his ears
Making a whistling sound
He could almost feel
the actual hole 
Of his soft memory
Almost taste his soft lips
The moment they 
first kissed.

April 7, 2021

Overheard









Everything is fine.  I'm ok.  
Just enjoy these fly on the wall conversations. 
this is the lemonade from the lemons.  
The lemon jello.   
Remember, it's not really serious 
if they don't give you jello.  


-Please take off your mask.  We will need you to put on one of ours.

- Please take a seat in the waiting room

- No that's the Covid waiting room.  The normal waiting room is on the right.

- I just passed 50, so things like this are to be expected.

A young girl’s voice- Can you take a selfie of me?

Doctor-That is something I am not comfortable doing here 

Doctor-  Did you vomit?  No response.

- Did you throw up?  No response

- Did the food that you ate come back out your mouth?  

Doctor 2-- The x-ray was clear.  That's just swelling.  You can take advil or tylenol for the pain

Doctor 3 - ".....and a broken heart"

Nurse 1 -  He was a 42 year old pharmacist.  We had to intubate him after 6 hours. Then he died.  That fast. 

- I guess he waited too long to come in

Nurse 2- We have to take more of your blood.

X-ray technician - What is your last name?  Can you spell that?  

- What is your birthday?

Nurse 1- More of them are young people now.

Doctor 4. -Did the pain happen when you were walking the dog?



April 3, 2021

Smells Like Rainbow Sounds Like Velvet


Synesthesia is where information, meant to stimulate one of your senses (for example hearing music), involuntarily stimulates another sense ( like visuals or smell.)


When one says "listen to my song", a synesthete may actually see the colour blue in 
addition to hearing the blues. 

What would a synesthete see with blue dirt girl ? 
Would they smell rainbows? 
Would they hear dreams?  

blue dirt girl is Kathryn Sutherland, Albert Klassen and Jason Overy.  
Their new release is called NOTHING IS AS IT WAS.  
It is nothing like their first release, Crazy Beautiful.
This new blue dirt girl is not content to remain in one place, it does not yearn to  return to a Crazy Beautiful state. 
The new  blue dirt girl  is an affirmation of change as a part of life and art.
The new blue dirt girl deftly mixes together a new masala, a blend of unique,  personal sounds,  sounds bleed into colors, touches, feels, and flavors. 
There is a magic with a three piece band, where every part depends on the others.  It is a delicate relationship to maintain, and like a souffle, can collapse easily,  but also like a souffle, it is a mouthful of perfection.

A song may start in one groove, and then it suddenly shifts down a gear.  Don’t worry- blue dirt girl are excellent drivers and this  car is a handmade beauty.  The changes are not abrupt, but seamless.   No buttons lost, no zippers snagged.

Kathryn Sutherland’s lyrics are open to interpretation, not linear, they are not easy rhymes. They conjure a mood,  inventing new colours, with a masterful brush stroke.   
Albert Klassen is a most amazing bassist, perfectly partnered with his rhythmic counterpart Jason Overy.  I find myself mesmerized by the grooves, not knowing exactly where it is going, but trusting, putting my faith in their capable hands.
The songs channel reggae/dub, modern soul, a dash of 70’s guitar magic.  Something about the feel reminds me of Traffic, Joan Armatrading, and an unnamed, distant memory of the 80’s that as hard as I try, I still can’t remember.  
This is not music that references influences. It breathes a sophisticated rare air. 
The songs: 
Blood: Skeletal guitar, a dub reggae beat, "Everything changed", and the bass begins a pattern that pulls us forward,  "in a moment of anxious clarity", lying here on the edge of the knife, Kathryn the cool, poet soul, commands us  shred your tongue, and everything slows, reverses, is there anything between us, the skeletal guitar and propulsive bass intoxicate. 
the conversation going on here, as we put our masks back on, and climb back aboard the knife.  Steady Jake, it’s only blood that connects us here. Family has their own languages. Their own rules.
But the river flows into the title track....I Don’t Mind. 
There is a great little change,  where even words become inadequate. Dat, dat, dah.  Oh my God, my mind pushes itself to remember, but what? 
And the beat goes on... Sunset Daddy. 
A new time signature, another conversation, the steady beat reasserts itself. We hear a familiar recollection of a towel that threatened to fall as her father goes up the stairs. You better stop....The intimacy of the recollection furthers the connectiion.
But wait, is there only one more song? 

We want more. The music creates the feeling of a child swinging, up, down, always returning to “warm safe hands.”
Cherry blossoms rain from the sky....life goes up and life goes down
or it just spins around, but we always  return to warm safe hands.
You listen many times and discover new connections. This music satisfies needs you were not aware of before. It is relaxed meditations on love, relationships, age. 

This new blue dirt girl is mysterious.  
You don’t know where she is going. 
We are told to beware of strangers, so we will just have to get to know blue dirt girl better.

The road beckons.
It smells like rainbow.
It sounds like velvet.