Monday, November 30, 2009

Video of the Week: American Devices

I think I'm liking this new Video of the Week feature... the week's barely starting and I'm already all up in it...

Here's another one I upped on my Facebook page quite a few times already: The American Devices' 'You Wouldn't Understand'...

For those of you who need a description of what they're about to see, it's about a guy, sitting on a chair, in what seems to be an empty apartment, and a dominatrix walking around him, sometimes whipping him gently.

Now that that's clear, here's a bit of info on the band itself: founded 30 years ago, this all-Montréal band is 'fronted' (although I'm 150% sure he despises this term) by Rick Trembles, cartoonist extraordinaire whose work has graced the pages of such prestigious zines as Fish Piss and such renown newspapers as the Montreal Mirror; he has also just released a second volume of his Motion Picture Purgatory series, in which he critiques and analyzes a film in one page - and in comic form. Also in the band are Rob Labelle and André Asselin, other legends of our local scene, as well as another comic-book genius, Howard Chackowicz on drums.

Former member Chris Burns (who has played bass, guitar and drums in the band and whom you could also know from bands like Crackpot and Nutsak, the latter with Asselin and Chackowicz) came up with a list of former members for me to tack onto this:

Jackie Gallant (drums), Cups Von Helm (drums), Suzy Joseph (farfisa organ), Mary-Jane Lamond (keys and vocals), Louise Burns (keys and vocals), Sylvie Payne (bass), and Dave Hill (bass).
to which Trembles added:

You missed Larry Vitus & Eric (hard rock goners) Sandmark who were both on bass for a bit (in the) late eighties.
There you have it, a complete list of current and former members of the longest-lasting freak unit (and apparent revolving door, especially on bass) in town.

You can call them punk, or new wave, or rock - but you would be dead-wrong. Sure, they rock and groove harder than Devo and The Ramones, but they can also slay their instruments with more love than Ravi Shankar at Woodstock.

But, hey - maybe you get it, or maybe You Wouldn't Understand.

Oh Yes: December Sucks

You know what? Maybe it's the Montréal bipolarity taking hold, but after a day of dirty fucking snow and sub-zero weather before December even got here, I have to say: scratch the previous post, this coming month will suck.

I always forget just how much I hate winter until it actually arrives.

I'm not your typical Montrealer who complains that it's too cold in winter and does a complete 180 and says it's too hot in the summer; I bask (and bake) in the 40-degree (115 for our American friends) humidity my island provides me with from June to August because I know how much I hate minus-40 degrees in February... but I forget the extent.

You know how sometimes something pisses you off so much you could hurt someone, or even yourself? Winter turns me into Stalin - that rage, times a million.

It's so cold you could kill AIDS, it's so slippery even hiking boots won't stop you from falling, it gets so messy that your wool socks get a brownish hue; add that to the metal of cars breaking, the asphalt in the streets decomposing by the chunks, snow so heavy it makes rooftops collapse and bridges break, and a hockey team that hasn't won a championship since 1993.

I'm 12 hours away from Day One and I'm already angry and depressed.

Fuck winter.

The Year's Coming To A Close

November's ending, and the year's coming into its last throes - and what do I have to say for myself? What have I done this year that merits attention, that makes it worth havin spent 365 days in it?

I've remained in country (unless you consider Toronto to be another country - I don't yet, but I did feel rather alien in it, as always), I've played 15 local shows and hosted UnPop yet again, but without an actual Finale to speak of yet, few outside shows.

My book is still not out (although it's pretty damn close at this point), I'm expecting news in a matter of days and already have approved the texts, fonts and bar code.

I'll soon be living alone with my two kitties in an apartment that was made for two humans and maybe an extra tiny one...

I'll get to redecorate, though, that should be fun, sports and music memorabilia everywhere.

My grandparents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary; I like that people who have trouble getting out of couches get more accomplishments done in a year than I do.

I wanted to exercise and walk, that didn't happen. I think I need to buy myself some skates and start playing outdoors hockey again - except for the fact that I hate the fucking cold. And I likely can't afford new skates, especially since I've been using goalie skates all my life and those would be the ones I'd need - and they're fucking expensive.

Oh well, we'll see what the new year brings. Either way, I still have a shot at ending 2009 with a bang.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Video of the Week: Dead Messenger

I started a new weekly feature just last week, Video Of the Week, and I nearly didn't post one this week... so much for continuity, eh?

Well, in the hopes of maybe getting myself to follow through on something for once in my life, here's a video from Dead Messenger that they did last summer (so it's still relatively recent). The song is 'Fat Black Heart', one of the best from their recent CD 'Love Is The Only Weapon', and usually the song they end their live sets with - not bad, considering they're one of the best live bands in this stinking town.

The song starts off as a convenience store in-line camera, then just slowly evolves into random acts of randomness that happen every day in town: people dancing in the streets, people walking down the streets with TVs on their heads, people hanging out in the middle of cinder blocks - and shots of Dead Messenger rocking out.

I like this song so much I've already linked the video four times on my Facebook page, and have used their chorus as an intro to a song of mine at a few live shows of late - and I like the band so much I've booked them for a fifth UnPop show in 5 years this Fall. I also plan on booking and opening for them for a future show at Barfly early in 2010.

Instant Karma

It sure feels like Scandinavia at this time of year: you can smell the snow begging to drop from the sky, it's dark in mid-afternoon, all sports talk is about winter sports and all arts talk is about dark, depressing art, be it music (heavy stuff like black metal), scary paintings, or black and white pictures.

For a night owl, though, it's an early Christmas.

Kind of makes you wish life were like an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, where you could drink all day, relax all the time, work if you feel like it, and not feel an ounce of remorse in the process.

My life will be undergoing some massive changes in the near future, mostly filled with people disappearing from it - it won't be a first, but this time I may not have close friends to fall back on like I did all the other times. Not that I don't have friends I love and that I think love me back, just that for the past few years, our ways of life have gone in totally different directions and I wouldn't want to impose my presence more than the twice-a-year habit the last half-decade brought us to.

I used to have three big bunches of friends I'd jump from every season or so, so it never got boring and was always new and fresh - plus I could alternate between English- and French-speaking gangs and not lose one in the process. But now...

With the Lady Of The House moving out, and Alternate Lady Of the House having purchased a faraway house with her long-time boyfriend, my immediate circle of friends went from 3 to 0. Add a best friend in Mexico, one with a one-year old - and a serious day job taking care of invalids and night school to better his financial situation - plus one who is perennially busy and has hundreds of other friends to see, and a music scene of hipsters I disagree with more and more on a daily basis - I'm starting to see my future path open up before me: to see other humans, I'll have no choice but to become a regular barfly at the corner Bar Fullum, like the old guys that seem to have their chairs molded after their asses for having been there too often and for too long.

Or maybe I need a car. Or maybe I need to move. And if I need to move... NYC, or the ocean side? A city filled with strong nightlife, or a quiet beach-side place where I can relax and die? Every time I keep pulling out, they keep pulling me in...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Physical Work Vs Mental Work

I was debating the values of physical, menial work versus more cerebral work, the other day, with the soon-to-be Former Lady Of The House who, as is customary when people have known each other for roughly a decade, seems to think her work has more value than mine.

Some folks refuse to admit they are both demanding - and at just about the same level, at that. Working physically, using your muscles to move and lift things, to run, stand, takes up energy; at the end of the day, tiredness occurs. Concentrating, thinking, creating also requires energy: the brain works and assimilates information, data, then organizes it; at the end of the day, you can still be ectenuated, exhausted, mentally fatigued.

In the first case, your muscles refuse to follow what your brain asks of them and you slouch or sleep; in the second, your brain refuses to work anymore, thus even if your muscles wanted to move, they couldn't, because the brain can't tell them where or how to move.

The end result is the same fucking thing: fatigue.

One isn't necessarily worth more than the other, by the way, they are different ways to accomplish things, and often, one person who cannot do one or the other just won't ''get'' the effort it requires.

That's all there is to it, really... I've been up for 20 hours, writing, thinking... it's almost 8AM and I should be getting at least some sleep. Guess I'm fatigued...

Friday, November 20, 2009

D'oh Habs D'oh!

So, I waited for the first quarter of the season before I got to talking about the Canadiens, to give them a chance to gel, to give the new coach a chance to get his system in, for a leader to emerge, for the goalies to take their rightful place.

The sum of this team's parts should be a playoff-contending team: a possible 40-goal scorer with tremendous speed who never backs down (Michael Cammalleri); the most consistent player of the past 3 seasons who happens to be perfect defensively and always be near the team's scoring lead (Tomas Plekanec); a 5th-overall pick in nets who is deemed by most to be a franchise player (Carey Price); a goalie who has always brought the team back into contention when no one else could (Jaroslav Halak); a Stanley Cup winner who played in the last 2 Finals (Hal Gill); a perennial All Star and one of the 5 most complete defensemen in the game (Andrei Markov); another Cup winner who was at one point seen as the best two-way player in the game and whom the Rangers deemed worthy of $7.33M per year (Scott Gomez); yet another Cup winner and former 48-goal scorer when paired with Gomez (Brian Gionta); a player who should now be hitting the 30-goal mark every season (Andrei Kostitsyn); a gifted playmaker with tons of grit (Sergei Kostitsyn); two potential 20-to-30 goal scoring powerforwards (Guillaume Latendresse and Max Pacioretty); last year's most improved player, quick as lightning and very good defensive forward, the team's best faceofff man (Maxim Lapierre); hard-nosed, hard-working veterans (Glen Metropolit and Cup winner Travis Moen); returning steady veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik and his younger yet more reliable partner Josh Gorges, a young and potentially bruising defenser and great team player (Ryan O'Byrne); the best - and smartest heavyweight fighter in the game (Georges Laraque); a good offensive happy-go-lucky journeyman defenseman (Paul Mara); a couple of last-chance draft picks from years past (Matt D'Agostini, Ben Maxwell and Kyle Chipchura) and a host of talented up-and-coming prospects (P.K. Subban, Mathieu Carle, Yannick Weber, David Desharnais, Cedric Desjardins)...

Gone are the oft-injured heroes of the past decade (Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Mathieu Dandenault, Francis Bouillon, Alex Tanguay, Steve Bégin, Cristobal Huet, Mike Komisarek) and those whose heart and guts were sometimes doubtful (Alex Kovalev, Michael Ryder), all replaced with smaller yet youngerand healthier models of themselves.

With a new coach that's viewed as an experienced, winning (though never in the playoffs) teacher with a boring, defensive style - 3 things we needed, 2 things we could have lived without.

But that's probably precisely where General Manager Bob Gainey's overhaul went wrong, to wit:

- If you keep the players and change the coach (with a real coach, not a GM-stepping-in-as-coach), generally, the dynamics change and the shock treatment is enough to get things going again.
- If you change most of the players, especially the ones who were carrying the bulk of the offense, half the team in this case, that's 8-to-11 new players, who have to get accustomed to playing in a new building, in front of new fans, living in a new city and new media environment, learning a new system.

What you don't need is 11 players learning how to live in a new city (the one who is most passionate about the sport you're playing, at that) and a coach who is dealing with the same issues - and have 23 players needing to learn a new system that may not suit them in the end because it wasn't instilled with the players in place in mind.

And the coach arrived here telling the media and the players that his team looked out of shape, and he got them to work harder than they were used to. Immediate results were seen: injuries to Markov, O'Byrne, Gill, Gionta, Laraque and D'Agostini were quick to materialize, putting more pressure on the goalies and on the kids who may not have been ready to graduate from the farm team.

So we have a team that's among the bottom-feeders, skating like chickens with their heads cut off, defensemen unable to make any passes, forwards who can't score (more shooters than passers in the line-up anyway, so it isn't balanced enough), goalies who are left out to dry and can't afford even the slightest mistake, no captain (my guess is they were going to name Markov but he got injured before they could do so) - and no redemption in sight.

Journalists are calling for Gainey's head, the crowds are booing the home team, and the only asset worth anything in a trade is the only guy everyone wants to keep here (I'll provide my thoughts on that in a post soon enough).

At least it can't get any worse, right?

Stalker Express

Facebook: the CIA isn't the only agency out to get you. Cops have busted criminals through their profile picture alone, the IRS is now using it as a tool... and people are using it to find shit out about their exes. Or people they had crushes on in high school. Or that person who works at the corner store that you think looks cute.

Thing is, it's not just the original user who's doing the stalking. With Firefox, Chrome and Explorer always vying to Facilitate Your Life, everyone who uses a computer after you can now stalk the exact same people you were stalking - in addition to the ones they were about to check up on!

I found an old friend from my early teenage years on there today; I wrote them to apologize for ending a pen pal relationship we had going when we were 11 or 12. I just never wrote back, even though I wanted to, it was just never the right time.

I'm in that kind of mood these days - apologetic, not stalker-y. It feels like I'm on a 12-step program or I'm dying of cancer or something, except I'm not. I guess I'm just trying to set things right, be a decent human being, give back. I'm not sure I'd go as far as the protagonists in My Name is Earl (one of my favourite TV shows of the past decade), where they actually make up for things they did wrong in the past by doing favours for the people they wronged - but I'll see where it leads.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video Of the Week: Flairs

His name is Lionel Flairs - or so he claims. He's French (the real deal, the 'from France' type), but seems to work in England.

He's clever, and ballsy; he's released a 7'' titled Better Than Prince.

Now, he asked Jérémie Perin to direct a video for his song 'Truckers Delight'... in 8-bit Nintendo style.

Pretty damn entertaining, if somewhat 'wtf' and graphic and totally un-PC.

Oh, and not to be confused with the NYC-by-way-of-Vancouver band The Flairs...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Stinkiest Alley In Montréal

I guess when they got the cleaning the City, they cleaned up that alleyway, too, because when you pass by it, the stench no longer causes you to want to vomit, but having been there in the early-to-mid-90s, I still won't venture into it.

It's situated on Ste-Catherine West, right behind a Burger King that been there for ages and what is now the downtown core's biggest Future Shop, although we used to know it more as the block that housed Labyrinth (rock t-shirts and posters galore, knives and lighters and motorcycle stuff too) and Mars (a dusty asthma-inducing basement - even though it was on the second floor - where they would sell bootleg CDs for almost $100 and one-off collector's show posters from the 60s to the 90s) - still, it's an area that most Montrealers passed by on a daily basis.

You could smell it from almost a block away, putrid, like decomposing homeless bodies that had shat themselves prior to dying there. When you'd see a hobo walk in there, you just knew he'd never come out - you had probably witnessed someone's final moments in the World Of The Living. Whether it was summer or winter, there was an acidic steam coming out of it that would burn the eyes, a somewhat transparent cloudiness of stench that stood from the ground to about twelve feet high - and it stank so much that most people who would walk past it would just hold their breath to not be subjected to it in the pit of their lungs and settle for teary eyes and temporary burns to the face and hands; it's a surprise a fast-food joint could survive and thrive there, considering.

A few friends and I entered it once, as a dare, the one time that it didn't smell like the pits of Hell had thrown up a sack of shit and sweat - we must have been 14 years old, three or four of us. It was a Sunday. We saw it to the end, it lead to a parking lot where the cars that were closest to the alley were rotting, like its extension into the world of mechanics, like they had caught a mutated version of whatever virus lurks in the air of the alley.

We didn't want to stay too long to not catch it too, so we quickly fucked off to Labyrinth, but we were uneasy being there despite it only smelling like decayed garbage and stale urine that time. You should have seen the look on people's faces when they saw relatively healthy teenage boys come out of there: shock and - not awe, maybe mistrust. They even stayed clear of our way until we entered the store, it was weird and pleasant at once, like we were Ghost Riders or something.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stéphanie: Girl Of My Dreams

Because you never know how or when a chapter of your life might end, it's always tricky to get started writing about it. But it never pays to wait too long, because you might forget crucial details or its termination might bring a sour taste in your mouth that will melt the good times from your brain forever.

This one though, was a big piece: my quest and obsession of the late 90s, my luck and love of the 2000s.

It's hard to pinpoint an exact date at which it started, because it seems we were often in the same area at the same time - even in the same building often enough - from the late 80s onwards, when I played a handful of shows at local dive La Brique despite being well underage. But that one's unlikely, if only because I was so young and she wasn't even legal yet either, and girls on the verge of adulthood in bars tend to hang around with older men, not younger ones.

So that brings me to the late 90s when I moved to the Plateau. The closest and best supermarket was only a few blocks away, a mid-sized Provigo where we'd both shop. I was single and enjoying life, at school during the day, rocking out in bars and hanging with a large group of friends at night, and working at my first dream job (L'Échange) the rest of the time; she was dating Fernando, a body-building jobless ape who apparently cheated on her all the time.

I don't remember when - but I sure remember how and why it was that she caught my eye; she had everything I ever wanted in a girl, the best of them all; top-notch quality everything. Long, flowing curly brown locks, a piercing stare from blue-green eyes, curves that would make a TV car commercial highway jealous - and breasts bigger than my hands can handle.

Problem is, the Ice Storm happened (bet you can't wait until that one's explained - as with my stint at L'Échange, it'll be in later posts) and created a shit storm in my life that led me to move to NYC and, later, move in with my mom at l'Île Perrot, then with my new-found dad and grandma in Pointe-Aux-Trembles for a summer - all while straddling one College and two universities in two languages.

Time passed and I ended up living in the Centre-Sud district in time for New Year's 2000, attending Université De Montréal. It turns out that a few fellow Cinema students also lived in my neighbourhood - and they all worked at Vidéo 20/20, two blocks from my place, open 24/7. I'd rent stuff there all the time, mostly at night as per my lifestyle (and because I was at school during the day) and eventually made friends with the night worker. He wouldn't give me free movies, but we'd drink beer and order pizza and eat it there during his shift, using the ice cream fridge as a table.

And because karma has a way of making things go full circle before spinning a complete 180, I started a habit of returning the films during the day, on my way to school and, lo and behold, who was the assistant manager? The afore-mentioned Girl Of My Dreams. She was going through changes in her life and they were reflected in her physical appearance: weight loss, sudden blondness (meh) and an eventual short-haired blondness (doh!)...

There was also one instance where a movie I had returned ('It', the TV miniseries based on the Stephen King book, in double-VHS format) hadn't registered in the computer (something you have to expect when the worker is a drinking buddy - during his shifts!), and she didn't believe that I had returned it, so she actually went downstairs to verify that it was, indeed, there. She thought I was ripping her off!

In any event, time passes, and one of the friends I'd made there, Norm, becomes my flatmate. It's early July 2000, and since many of the store's staff are celebrating moving into new apartments, they decided to celebrate at a local dive - L'Astral 2000 (no, they haven't updated their name to keep up with the times). Being one's roommate, I'm also invited. As luck would have it, the seating arrangements have me positioned between Norm and Stéphanie, as he would introduce her to me - the Girl Of My... you get the idea.

I think I recall there was a ''singer'' performing, the type of fucker who sings cover songs and is backed by a terrible Casio keyboard, but thankfully not loud enough to drown out our conversations or make us want to drink elsewhere. There was, however, this one dude, much older (think late 50s, early 60s), looking like a much older Jimmy from South Park, who wouldn't stop hitting on her - he was also a video store customer; she pretended I was her boyfriend (classic) to make him go away, and from then on, to help the story stick, she made sure to pay more attention to me than anyone else at our table.

When 3AM came around, two girls invited themselves to my place so we could continue the party - Stéphanie and her roommate and employee Mélanie; additionally, Norm brought a chick over, our friend (also in film school with us) Louis' ex-girlfriend, nicknamed ''The Star'' for her knack for lying on her back and not moving an inch during sex. Norm and The Star promptly went to his room, while me and the prettier ladies moved into mine, a luxurious double-length room with adjoined living room that made for a nice suite all to myself.

As we drank more and talked, time flew by, and Mélanie decided to go home to sleep. Eventually, Stéphanie and I made our way into my bed, and at least one of us was in it for the next 96 hours - that's 4 days, genius.

The rest of the summer was more of the same: if we weren't at work (and, most of the time, I wasn't), out drinking, or eating, we were fucking. My birthday - and September, i.e. Fall - came along, and we realized we were, pretty much, dating.

I had bagged my Dream Girl, and she had stayed; she was mine.

And, of course, all dreams end.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Day, Another Armed Conflict

It's Rememberance Day here, Veterans' Day in the U.S. of A. As per every year, my thoughts are scattered; since 2003, of course, it's between Iraq - and a hard place.

Like Edwin Starr, I think war is fucked up, rarely benefits average humans, always profits those who are in no danger of getting into the line of fire.

On the other hand, though, I do feel having an army is necessary, and I do feel the need to think of our soldiers, help them any way we can, take care of them as a country, as people, as some of the bravest citizens we have.

But their duty is to defend the homeland. Against potential assaults (for now), against the eventual assaults of our enemies, and our now-allies, should they become enemies.

They have to defend us against invasion, but also protect our lives, our infrastructures, our resources, our water, our melting Northern territories that will soon unveil water passages and be rich in minerals.

And in times when none of that is happening, they can also help out in other respects - clearing the snow off Toronto's streets (ha!), or when they helped out the whole province during the Ice Storm of '98.

It's as important to have them here as it is to support them; having them elsewhere should always only be for a limited time, never more than 6 or 9 months at a time (per mission, for the whole country, not per person) - because their main duty is to the homeland.

While half of my uncles are cops, my grandfather was in the military; he didn't lose any limbs, and only came back from a war with alcoholism, which wasn't all that new in his case, just more severe. But as he came here, October 1970 came along and he followed orders: he was forced to confront people he shared opinions with and arrest them, then lock them up.

And he did it because it was his job; he didn't agree with his boss (the Prime Minister), and he almost fully agreed with the protesters (maybe not with the most extreme of them planting bombs in mailboxes, though), but he felt that if he did his job to the letter like a stand-up man, that if those he supported politically ever came to power, it would serve as proof that he would do everything he could to stand by them as well. It was a show of civil duty and civic pride.

It's people like him we have to celebrate our military for, not the wars they were in, the politicians who forced them to be there, the targets they destroyed, or the fuckers who act liek animals and ruin the rest's reputations.

Proud, stand-up people respectful of the authority figures on our home soil; strong, dedicated people who will stand in the line of fire to protect the rest of us even if one order they're following makes them tick; professionals trained to defend us with whatever they have on hand.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Animal Planet

I was watching TV the other day, maybe last week, I'm not sure anymore, but it showed people swimming with dolphins. Just humans swimming with marine mammals. Mammals, together. Animals, all.

Then I thought to myself: hey, that's nice. As one species who likes to get along with other species sometimes, we really should do this more often.

Then: where did we go wrong? When did our existence begin to be all about working our asses off to make someone else richer, when we're the only animal on the planet that gives a fuck about money?

Shouldn't we just... live? Hang around, fuck around, walk around, run around...

Not: be treated like crap by a smart-ass teenager from the phone company telling us we asked for a long-distance plan last month when we haven't even called them in two years.

Not: getting shit on by our bosses for giving a customer what he rightfully deserved instead of what the company wants to give out.

Not pay half our hard-earned cash to the government and see it be wasted on giving it to their friends.

A German friend had an expression (in German) that sounded great, something along the lines of ''verfluchte scheize something something sheize something''... and it sort of meant ''fucking shit these fucking shitty fuckers have fucking shit for brains''.

That's us, as a species.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fairytale Of New York... Ends In Tragedy

I've been listening to The Pogues' Fairytale Of New York today, over 10 times. It was cold out, bitter weather trying to bring the whole City down along with it. The sun looked grey, discoloured rays of discontent descended upon the streets, dull and unpolished, bleak. It smelled like winter, three months early.

The only thing that brought a smile to my face was the song - the saddest Christmas song ever written, ringing in my headphones.

It's a bittersweet time in the History Of Me, things are seemingly falling apart and I never know how to react to the blows that keep coming - so I just stand there and take them, like the strongest-jawed fighter in the history of boxing. And I keep standing, because it's how I was raised, even though it doesn't really make any sense to.

And the song... a duet bwteen Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl - and I usually hate fucking duets!
Shane: It was Christmas eve babe, In the drunk tank
An old man said to me: won't see another one
And then they sang a song, The rare old mountain dew
I turned my face away and dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I´ve got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
Where all our dreams come true.

Kirsty: They got cars big as bars, They got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you, It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand on a cold Christmas eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me

Shane: You were handsome, you were pretty
Queen of New York City, when the band finished playing they yelled out for more
Sinatra was swinging, all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner - Then danced through the night.

Both: And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day.

Kirsty: You're a bum, you're a punk
Shane: You're an old slut on junk
Kirsty: Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed

You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last.

Both: And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.

Shane: I could have been someone
Kirsty: Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me, When I first found you

Shane: I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it out alone
I've built my dreams around you

Both: And the boys of the NYPD choir's still singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day.

And if the lyrics weren't sad enough, there's the whole story-after-the-story...

The song was released as a single in late 1987, having appeared on the seminal Pogues record ''If I Should Fall From Grace With God'' and was an instant hit, going to #2 at the time; in years since, it has been voted Britain's 84th best song of all time, the best Christmas song ever - and even been re-released a bunch of times, all with chart success.

And yet, each time, with every listen, the spectre of Kirsty MacColl's useless death looms above it. For those who don't know, she died in 2000, in Mexico, while vacationning with her family. They had gone diving in an area where speed boats weren't allowed to venture, yet one came racing at her son as the family and their guide were surfacing. Her reflexes got the better of her, and she threw her son, Jamie, out of its path, but was hit herself and died instantly.

To this day, uncertainty looms regarding certain facts in her death, namely who was actually driving it (it was millionnaire Guillermo González Nova's boat, but he claims boathand José Cen Yam was actually manning the commands), and punishment for the accident - under Mexican law, Cen Yam took the blame and got to choose between almost three years in jail or a fine of 1034 pesos ($90 in U.S. funds). It would, technically, be conceivable for a millionnaire to give his employee the money to pay the ridiculous fine and walk away scott-free without even a blemish to his name, which led to MacColl's family launched the Justice For Kirsty campaign in response to the events surrounding her death.

So there you have it: the City has such a gloomy air nowadays that a sad Christmas song in which long-time lovers share bitterness and tenderness at once, sung by a drunken waste of talent (MacGowan) and a woman who died a horrible death that could easily have been avoided is the only thing turning the edges of my lips upwards even a little bit.