Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tell-Tale Signs Of Shitty Days To Come

Get to a street that's usually crowded, but it's not. Understandable, 7AM is no time to exist. If anything, early-birds should wake up at this time, or die. Which is the point, isn't it? Because on this Monday morning, on Sainte-Catherine street, a bird commits suicide. Falls right off a tree branch, falls neck first on the asphalt and stops moving. Forever. Right across the street from me, becomes car fodder.

Chances are it was a natural death, and it just fell. Or that it had broken wings and couldn't escape its fate. But it could also be that it couldn't bear to live in this place. Not like this. Not in this day and age. A bird like Hunter S. Thompson, like Elliott Smith. Man we're fucked if it's come to this.

And it does, indeed seem like it's the case, when one of the busiest patches of circulation cement is so desolate, the sky is so grey, the world's economy is on the brink of collapsing, wars are raging, Elections are happening and seemingly complementary with possibilities of hostile Conservatism takeovers... I could understand why a bird wouldn't want to live here anymore.

Sure, there are pieces of paradise in the Caribbean, but can't the birds sense danger looming? Perhaps the prettiest islands on earth are also doomed.

And some species are more apt at survival. Rats, locusts, roaches, vermin. Birds can fly away, but if you take away their desire to fly, break their wings by breaking their minds, their spirit - they will be left with nothing. Just like us. We mostly seem to be able to take it, some of us barely, a few can't at all. It's a wonder why we do, though. We are fully aware that there are too many of us in this world, not only for comfort, but also for the planet's ressources and balance. And billions of us go on with misery, unhappiness, useless stress, obeying corporate or actual masters for no good reason at all. You've got to know Keith Richards knew what he was doing when he fell out of that tree a few years ago. He knew. He had decided. He missed. And The Beast took him back in, told him he had better not do it again, and off he went Rolling Stoning again with his buddies, ridding the world of half of its drug-and-alcohol content selflessly, as a one-man sniffing task force.

But birds, eh? Way to start the day. One has to end for another one to start? Good thing I ever hardly sleep, I'm doing more than my part. But as the sun was coming up this morning on a grey artery that barely keeps the city's blood alive, the light seemed terribly dark.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beer And Unloading In Varadero, Cuba (or How I Learned To Start Running And Drop A Liquid Bomb)

It was an awful hour of the morning in Varadero, say 6AM, with no sleep and sun sneaking through the lead-like blinds.

Nothing else to do but start a new day anyway. Two glasses of orange juice and bacon, then time for rum and coke and the ocean.

Your body does weird things when you don't sleep. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you haven't lived - and you might want to try it before you keep reading. The metabolism goes much faster. I'm already on a 2-shit-a-day diet here, but sleepless it can go up to 5, I'm sure.

And the beach is far enough from the room, 5 minutes sober, maybe 15 otherwise - it's gonna be a bitch trying to keep this pudding from pouring down my leg.

I grab a book for when I get there, a strawberry-vodka for the road - and start walking. For subtlety's sake, I smile at passers-by. The 25 stairs between the ground level and the rooms are like a dream, over in a half second. The yardage to the door is me at the Super Bowl, going for a touchdown with no one in front of me. The easiest 6 points of my career. The key's in the lock socket before my hand is even out of my pocket. The door opens and I'm but one jump from my destination. I get naked 'cause I know what's coming next. As soon as my knees bend, the shit hits the fan. Best two minutes of my life.

Wipe off, get up. I need another goddamn drink.

Back From Vacation

1 week in Cuba. Best week of my year, despite catching a nasty cold on the very last day.

And how the heck do you catch a cold in 34 degrees Celcius (100 Fahrenheit)?

But that's a question that shall remain unanswered because, quite frankly... who cares?

It was nice to get a break from the Elections, both Canadian and American.

I wrote things out there though. They'll make it here soon enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What It Feels Like To Drink Stella Artois

Since my last trip to NYC a couple of years ago, where it was very hard to drink decent beer and I had tons of overexpensive Stella Artois instead, it's been my default beer of choice.

Even when I came back to Montréal, I'd start preferring it to Heineken and Kilkenny and Molson Ex at the dep (convenience store to the international crowd).

And today, completing an online survey, I was asked to describe the very first time I had it. Well: the fuck if I know. I can't remember. So here's my answer:

it must have been summer, on a terrace with many plants and smallish trees, surrounded by dozens of nubile young women who served me melted Toblerone chocolate; it was decadent and superb, worthy of remembrance and a day whose grace I strive to attain/maintain ever since
There's a 50-50 chance that it isn't exactly the way I claim to remember it, but now that I crave a bottle, I'm pretty sure that's how it would taste to me. Good thing I have Toblerone at home, and deps aren't closed yet.

Murphy's Law

I've become quite an expert in Murphy's Law. I think I may even be the defense lawyer in its courtroom on most days. Its rules shower on my head, first thing in the morning and keep at it until the next morning, when I'm finally exhausted enough to sleep.

This weekend has been no different.

Those who know me are aware that sleep, although an activity I very much enjoy, is not something I do as often as most people. Not just in length - in frequency as well. Most weeks include at least 2 sleepless nights, oftentimes three. If I don't have three, then I'm likely to sleep no more than 5 hours a night for the rest of the week. I'm a busy guy, but also one who needs to be entertained in between the activities I'm doing.

In that vein, it is now Monday, September 15th, at 5:35AM for most humans in my timezone. To me, it's past my bedtime, Friday night. You can call it a busy weekend, I didn't have enough time to see it pass by properly.

You see, Friday was my boss' last day at the office; he's moving onto bigger and better things - better paying, surely. But we all appreciate him enough, so we went out for a celebratory/goodbye drink. It was a very good evening. Heading home,though, I had friends I hadn't seen enough of lately who decided they needed taking care of, so I rightfully did. Then they headed home and went to bed, I presume, but I was still awake, so I spent the rest of the night online, catching up on news events, reading sports analysis, listening to music, playing Scrabble on Facebook... the usual.

Saturday came along, and my friends decided it was perfect to set me up for a SECOND surprise birthday party in the span of two weeks. We went out to dinner, 30 or so of us, then went to a club, everybody went home. So did I.

But by the time I got home, we were Sunday, September 14th. It actually was my birthday. My 30th. I had long planned to make it a special day, so I relaxed, surfed the web a bit, read up on David Foster Wallace's suicide, played some GTA4, then went on to my planned activity: having two friends over for some afternoon birthday champagne.

Thing is, I learned Friday that despite my boss leaving his position and thus having more work to do in the upcoming week, I also had a deadline for work that was to be handed in on Monday, before (or at... I tend to be late) 8AM. 10 hours' worth of work. So what's a guy to do? Fuck sleep, when my friends left, I headed to work. I'll soon be done, ahead of time for once. But I have to come back in at 3PM, for a shift that ends at 10.

The point of this is, this has been just one very long day for me. Lots of things happened, many people are pleased with it - as am I - but it was just my luck, wasn't it: a reason to celebrate in a grand way, people to celebrate with that I really wanted to see - but a deadline looming just above my head.

Just like I haven't had more than 5 days straight off work in the 7-plus years I've been here, and my family offered me a trip to Cuba, 1 week, all expenses paid, four-and-a-half-star hotel, starting this Friday, for my 30th. And it looks like it'll rain all week.

Every day I go to court challenging Murphy's Law, and I haven't even met the judge yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tennis: US Open 2008

So... many observers thought Roger Federer was over and done with, that he could no longer compete at the elite level he was at... 6 months ago. After 5 years of total domination, talent doesn't just go away.

And had nobody watched the Olympics, where he won in doubles and said he felt ''revivified''? That should have been a sign.

And who the Hell has a bad year in which he ends up second in the world in two major events (Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, in arguable the best tennis match in history), and among the semi-finalists in the other major event (Australia)?

The ATP lists over 1500 players... which means at least 1498 players would have dreamed of having a 'bad' year like his!

Anyhow, the King is back. Long live the King?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gearing Up For The Centennial

Nice post here from The H Doesn't NOT Stand For Habs on the Bob Gainey-Mats Sundin meeting last weekend.

Many have called Sundin the Habs' ''missing piece of the puzzle'' in their quest to bring the Stanley Cup home for the team's centennial, and he would be of great help, although they already have an impressive team if it can come near what it did last year during the season.

But one must not forget nothing is guaranteed. There would be ample examples in the league's 85-year-plus history, but one need look no further than the 2003-04 season, when the Colorado Avalanche added Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne to a roster that already included Joe Sakic, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, J-M Lilles, Adam Foote, Derek Morris, the best grind line in the league and, of course, David Aebischer to replace the incomparable Patrick Roy in nets. With its last line of defense (Roy) just retired - and a slew of injuries - the Avs failed to perform come playoff time and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup against the Calgary Flames in a grueling 7-game series.

There's no doubt Sundin would help tons. Especially if injuries were to happen, the added depth would be the difference between fighting for top spot and fighting for a playoff spot.

But the biggest (only?) question mark remains 'blue chip prospect' Carey Price in nets. How will he bounce back from his meltdown against Philadelphia in last year's playoffs? Have other teams found his weakness - going top shelf? Can he perform well during the whole year and not be burnt out by playoff time?

If he was burnt out during the few final games of the playoffs, he should have let his more than capable backup Jaroslav Halak take the driver's seat for a few games. Instead, the fans and most general managers will forever be plagued with doubts - will he be a cold-blooded killer like he was as a teen prodigy (World Juniors and AHL), or the teary-eyed motionless target practice piece of plywood wearing #31 of last Spring?

Had he taken a backseat for a few games to relax, get his mind working again and get back into it when he's ready, it would have been the other way around - he would have been the great teammate (instead of the selfish teenager), and even if he'd failed later on in his career, the fact that he'd have succeeded that one time when he came back would have given him multiple free passes - like Cam Ward in Carolina, who hasn't done much since that Cup-winning run that gave him an undeserved Conn Smythe trophy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

S(p)in City

What the hell happened to my fair city, the one I was born in, that I loved so much that it made me move back to once I had fled to NYC?

They cleaned up the filth, they say, but I don't see it anywhere - the politicians are more numerous and dirtier than ever, streets have become enormous potholes with some patches of asphalt in between them at times, the people seem so fucking down all the time.

They tore down a three-block patch of the downtown core to shreds, to be replaced with theatres and show bars, or so they say. Meanwhile, in the past year alone, 5 clubs that I regularly went to see shows at have closed down. Something doesn't work somewhere.

Was it just an excuse to ransack mom-and-pop stores, peep show places and get the hookers out of the intersection of our two main streets? 'Cause on paper, two of those things seem right and ethical, until you realize we humans, as a race, are filthy and degenerate.

Where does the guy who prefers to masturbate outside of home go? And when he finds a spot, what of the onlookers, what if they're kids? And if all the whores are off the streets and you have to use the services of street gang-controlled escorts to get it on with another human, what are the consequences of that, huh? More money in the pockets of big-time criminal organizations, so they can buy more drugs to sell to our kids and have more guns to scare the cops off? And who's to say the 19 year-old looking girl isn't a 12 year-old kid from a halfway home with added makeup on? The ethics alone make this a terrible idea.

But if it really is about the Arts, and bringing more shows to town, having more venues to express our creative spirits and spurts, then... why build brand-spanking-new venues rather than the old ones? Just to spend money? How are these venues going to be paid, with increased ticket prices? We just shut down venues that often charged less than $10 for a seat... how many $50 shows do you think people can afford anyway?

Especially once they've paid their fines for jerking off in public and paid for that underage escort they found in the back of a free weekly paper.

It seems like The City's been making the wrong choices since the mid-90s. That's something like 15 years.

Gone are the Jazz Days during prohibition where the best musicians in the world would spend most of their time playing to people who appreciated their work and didn't bug them about their race; long-gone are the days when we were a sports capital, aiming at bigger things rather than having trouble staying small.

We've suffered so much we've made art that has been respected worldwide in recent years more than at any time in the past 30 - Arcade Fire, The Dears, Cirque Du Soleil, Priestess, the Sainte Catherines... we're nearing the point where we're too starved to create, and we're just watching it wither away.

There have been happier days. Brighter days. And to think I wouldn't even be complaining if you gave me back my whores.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dogs Of War: The Upcoming Canadian Elections

A friend of mine weighed in on the upcoming Canadian elections. His thoughts make sense, eventhough I only half-agree with most of what he says. If you're curious, understand French, and are a member of Facebook (really, who isn't?), feel free to have a look, here.

Me, it just made me want to compare each major party with a breed of dog...

Let me start with the admission that I know precious little about dogs. I love them, well, some of them, anyway. I can differentiate a few breeds, but nowhere does it approach what I know on other topics, like sports, music or film. Or ladies. It’s out of the bag, so to speak, but it changes nothing, and matters not.

You might have heard elections are coming. And I don’t mean the Obama-McCain fiasco-in-the-making, I mean the good-ole tired Canadian Politiks, the four-party system that’s so good at keeping itself in check that it forgot to go forward since 1995.

This time around, the so-called Top Dogs are the Conservatives. Oh, yes: they united the Right and all they got was a minority government. But a minority government that did a lot in repressing women’s rights, stopped contributing to the arts, made Canada look like the U.S.’ lap dog in ways unseen since… ever. Oh, there were times in the 80s, but not to this extent, and especially not with a U.S. government so despised worldwide.

However, in doing so, the Conservatives showed us who they really were. You see, they’d been barking in the shadows of power for years now, first as a distant voice you could barely hear, then growling louder and louder until, united, they became the Official Opposition, where they could bark every day in the press and get their points across against a government that was begging to be euthanized.

All these years, we thought Conservatives were big, mean, rabid Bulldogs. Turns out they were even more dangerous – they were a castrated Chihuahua intent on exacting revenge on the whole world for belittling their manhood. Think ‘Revenge Of the Nerds’, but instead of nerds, take the fuckwads from Columbine High School – bullied momma’s boys whose dads had big guns in the shed and got tired of being pushed around.

So they barked louder than their little bodies could handle, and they cut funding to just about everything they disagree with, passed anti-corruption laws that even they don’t respect and instilled fixed date elections, which the also won’t respect. Oh, and they got us damn near a recession just last quarter.

What’s their opposition, though? Since the inception of Canada, the Liberal Party has been in charge more often than not. So much so that the word ‘liberal’ ceased to apply to them per se, as they were more intent on ‘conserving’ their seats in Parliament at times than changing the world, Lester B. Pearson-style. They needed money and strong friends for that – and we have the Sponsorship scandal to prove that it worked.

A complete makeover was needed, and it’s the only way a thinker like Stéphane Dion could end up in charge. He’s clearly not the strong-arm type that Chrétien or even Martin were, but the party had to show it wasn’t just going to be more of the same. He’s the guy who comes up with a few ideas of his own, and also the one who can reinterpret even smarter people’s ideas (read the NDP, Bloc and Greens) and make them more digestible for the masses. He’s turned the Liberals into German Shepherds – police dogs that work on the side of the law, of the just. Or so he thinks.

Which brings us to the Bloc Québécois. Created on the eve of the last referendum, most Canadians are unaware of what it represents, apart of course from its ultimate goal – the secession and independence of Québec. People have trouble seeing what good it can do in Ottawa other than cashing in some of the Queen’s money while stalling politics, mainly because it’s the discourse the former Liberals used in rejecting their propositions publicly – then taking full credit when passing them as progressive laws themselves in the mid-90s. Stephen Harper also usually dismisses them as a useless party because ‘it will never govern Canada and thus is irrelevant’, and that Blocers can complain all they want about the country and the system, they can never be in charge, so they are screams in the dark. In that manner, the Bloc is basically a Labrador, a seeing-eye dog, smarter than most other breeds, but always forced to maneuver in the dark, leading the blind.

If only people knew that had Gilles Duceppe been a Liberal (and, thus, in charge at some point in his career), his ideas would have made him the most loved and respected Premier in at least 50 years. It would have advanced Canada in worldwide opinion to the level of opinion leader, rather than follower of the wrong. He always defended First Nations, pushed for greener measures, equal pay – and rights – for women, better distribution of Employment Insurance benefits to the workers who had paid for them in the first place… you know, the type of moral issues that makes the United Nations listen to you when you oppose the illegal invasion of a particular country - and elicit action. There’s a reason Quebecers vote for them massively and elect between 35 to 50 people at any time or during any political climate – their record for supporting minorities and equality speaks for itself. Not as morally corrupt as the two bigger parties, the Bloc were actually the ones who broke the Sponsorship scandal.

Which makes the NDP the Golden Retriever. Just like the Labrador, without the threat of secession. But the same leadership qualities, the same brains, the same dedication for working for others and the greater good. The same stance on staying clean, following the right path; you won’t find many closeted homosexuals, pedophiles, thieves, election-riggers and bribed members here (usually the Moral Leaders of the Right end up in those, ironically). And like the Bloc, the same sense of working in the dark, from the sidelines of power, having their best ideas stolen by the Liberals because their visibility in the media is lacking.

There’s now a fifth member who wants its voice heard, the Green Party. It’s just too bad they’re a one-trick pony at this point, especially since the Liberals are now viewed as environmental-friendly, and the Bloc and NDP have been waiving the green flag for over 10 years now. Little poodle wants in on the fun, but can only do the one flip it was taught in the circus. Anyhow, no one votes for the Greens, not really; they send messages to their favourite party, but in a tight race, they get less than 1% of a riding’s votes.

Now, they say surveys are showing the Conservatives in a slight lead, or tied with Liberals. But we all know how it works in Canada: the percentages don’t mean anything, because every single election, one party ends up with a third of the votes but just a handful of elected officials, losing most districts by a slight margin and winning by huge ones, so many votes are lost and really just don’t count.

It’s time the Conservatives taste that medicine, especially in Ontario and Québec. We’re ready for another minority Liberal government, with an almost equal opposition for the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP – leaning enough to the left to restore our place among progressive leaders in the world, but with enough of an emphasis on family and security to feel safer in our homes – or at least in Albertan homes.

If the Conservatives get a majority government, after seeing what they were able to pull off with a, let’s say, cerebral – rather than aggressive – opposition… we’re fucked. Think: no arts, women in cages (or prison, for abortions, same thing, really), over-bearing religion, active participation in world conflicts, tax breaks for the filthy rich, guns in the hands of those who intend on using them… and the Olympics right around the corner. Feels like 1936 all over again, doesn’t it?

(Re-) Introduction

It's been a while for me.

Too little time, little interest. But the world isn't getting any better to live in, and my opinions are getting harder to keep to myself.

I will be posting a whole lot more often than I used to, mostly because I used to only do so on my band's sites, and it mostly related to music. And dead people. And in recent times, since my music's been harder to release, it was mostly about recently-deceased music people, which just made me sad and stopped me from creating for a few days, which turned into months when more would die.

This time around, though, I'm tackling everything I love - and hate. Sports, music, film, politics, beer, ladies. Entertainment. Life. People. Language.