Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tara Reid Does Playboy And The Blogosphere Objects

It's been a short while, but I purchased the January/February 2010 issue of Playboy, featuring none other than Tara Reid; with the notable exception of vintage 60s and 70s issues that I bought in 1998 to fill my home library and to have a few choice Hunter S. Thompson texts few others had on my bookshelves, this was the first time I'd ever actually bought (as in 'paid for') a Playboy, and remains the only time I've ever paid the full price for it.

If I want smut, I want all my money to go on the smut, and want the least text possible in there. When I aim to read something, I generally either want to be able to read it in public (the most free time I have is when I'm in transit) and/or don't want my reading having to be interrupted by jerking-off sessions.

But I was curious as to how they were going to take one of the most public downfalls in Hollywood - my guess is Lindsay Lohan is next - and try to make it into an ''underdog-defeats-the-odds'' story; it turns out they didn't fare much better than Rolling Stone, Maxim or Blender usually do. But the stories on Cuba and the mob (two separate stories) make it worth the ten bucks I shelled for it - more than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, anyway.

But, of course, the blogosphere, predictably, jumped on it like hyenas on an injured baby; instead of reading the story, they went after the pictures: Perez Hilton, Celeb Jihad, News Toob and countless others all decrying Playboy's airbrushing/photoshop of the pictures, like it's the first time they - or anyone else showing women, for that matter - did this.

I, for one, think the pics look great* - they have that 60s feel of old picture. I'm also not offended that the pictures could (and likely are) 'shopped. In this particular case: who cares? What difference does it make, apart from perhaps accentuating her natural good looks (remember when everyone thought she was hot in 1998? Those good looks, that she was born with). The blogs say it hides her scars... again, who cares? That's great. Time and poor choices have left their marks on her body, and Playboy, who want to show women in all their splendour and glory, have either brought her back to their standards, or added them onto her. Good for all.

In comparison, I'm much more appalled by Demi Moore's hips being removed from the cover of W, or already-picture-perfect Tina Fey (Vogue) and Kate Winslet (GQ) having stuff taken out for them to meet standards they don't agree with themselves. And that's without counting all the no-name models who grace the covers of Seventeen and Y&M projecting the idea that 100-pound women are too heavy onto gullible little girls.

Yeah, sure, once in a while a tabloid, newspaper or magazine will criticize it, but at that time the rest will stay mute, and the story will go away, until a competitor will come up with it two years later, but again no one will jump on the bandwagon, and it'll die.

The critics need to band up, make a common front and go to war, depicting real women the way real men (and real lesbians) really like them - normal and healthy. And, if anything, those who aren't merely normal and healthy could, perhaps, be enhanced, Hollywood-style: bigger curves, boobs, lips.

More is more
. Less is evil.

And Tara Reid looks good in these pics.

*all the pictures look great, but the cover pic looks weird, especially when you notice her right hand, which looks like it could be hiding a sixth finger somewhere. But the play on words, ''MASSIVE DOUBLE ISSUE'', with her assets sticking out like that, makes for a nice redemption.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Video Of The Week: Jay-Z And Alicia Keys

I admit it, I'm not Jay-Z's biggest fan; as a matter of fact, I pretty much find him to be the most over-rated rapper out there. But some songs just surpass your opinion of someone, like Hard Knock Life had the first time I clung to a Jay-Z song for a while.

And this here is another one. In Empire State Of Mind, he and Alicia Keys sing the praises of their hometown, telling both of its grandeur and warning its trappings; the City That Never Sleeps is the one place that most closely resembles my City, and is the one place I miss when my town goes amiss.

Even on the YouTube page's comments, the first one, from Ashkan22289, states:
I come from Germany and everytime I listen this song I remember my year I stayed in Montreal, it was amazing and love the big cities especially NYC, LA and MTL (Montreal)

P.S: I lvoe this song :D
Yeah, I like it when my town's acknowledged, too. I sing its own praises whenever I can. I also sing NYC's praises often enough.

I also ''lvoe'' this song. I hope you do too.

Slush City

She is Slush City. My City in winter is a cold, slippery bitch.

She is moody. When she's in a foul mood, she freezes so cold nothing is allowed to live on her; when she merely feels like pissing us off, she turns into a bitter, cold, mushy place to walk on, slip on, fall on, and gets us soaking wet in sub-zero temperatures, inducing colds, flues and disease that we spread amongst ourselves on shared public transit seats, on supermarket produce, in line at the doctor's office.

She is an unfit mother caring for 3 million lost souls, a broken-hearted widow set on bitter revenge.

Every time I feel I've tamed her, she claws and bites back, making sure I feel her wrath, the greyness of her essence. She disinfects my wounds with dust and puss like she disaffects our youths with blood and cum. She makes sure it gets infected to remind us she exists.

But it'll pass if we survive it, it almost always does.

I tell myself that during the summer months she is sublime, unique, distinguished - that we just have to make it through this and head there, that the scurvy and hepatitis will subside and we can move to the sunny side of the street.

Until then she is slushy, and our steps take twice as long to get us half the distance. She is covered in a frosty quicksand that keeps you stuck to the ground; you couldn't leave if you wanted to, and by the time your struggles have set you free, it's Spring and you could spend the rest of your life just staring at her in all her beauty, feeding only from the sparkle of her bosom.

She is Slush City and she's got me by the balls.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Video Of The Week: Hall & Oates (Two For One Of Sorts)

Oh, I know what you're thinking, 'cause chances are I'm thinking the exact same fucking thing.

Here's the story: I had no clue this ''hit'' song from the 80s even existed until a couple of weeks ago when I saw it on Much More Retro, the music video channel I turn to for laughs when I'm either bored and alone, or to add a funny backdrop and mood when I have someone over, something that'll make background noise and won't interrupt us or require our total attention until it becomes way too cheesy.

So this comes on, and I'm shocked, awed, and overwhelmed. I laugh so hard I almost piss my pants.

Now, I won't even pretend to know anything about Hall & Oates other than it's an 80s group formed by Darryl Hall and John Oates, and that for most of my life, I thought - just by their name alone - they were a country duo. I also vaguely remember a segment of a skit called 'In The Year 2000' on Late Night With Conan O'Brien where Conan and cohort Andy Richter ''take a look into the future'' and come up with funny anecdotes that both make fun of news events and pop culture icons, and in one particular segment, they referred to the end of Hall & Oates, saying each member would be heading their separate ways, but instead of each keeping their own moniker, ''Oates will be in Hall, and Hall will be in Oates'', a gay joke if I've ever heard one.

And, looking at this video, there are, indeed, a number of them that can be made - Oates' mustache alone practically smells of anus right through the screen. The fact that they seem like they've just gotten back from a Miami Vice shoot also mesmerizes me.

Other things to look for: saxophone enters at 2:40 - an 80s staple; also, starting at 3:15, the guys start to realize that maybe they would need to move, come up with some sort of choreography, since they've been static - as opposed to ecstatic - for over three minutes so far; 3:30 brings a climax of both saxophone AND homoerotic choreography...

Also, for the first time, an added bonus: if that wasn't enough for you, there's a more 'modern' version where Montréal electro duo Chromeo are guests in a webisode of Live From Darryl's House, where Hall admits the beat was from his Casiotone (the 'rock'n'roll 1' pre-set) and so was the bass line...

Things to watch for in that clip: the song starts at 3:49, before that it's a behind-the-music type talking about the making of the song) a fat black man thinks he's at the dentist at 3:57; two of Daryl's band members seem genuinely happy to be playing again at 5:09; Hall inserts a break that wasn't in the original song, at 5:33, and he looks proud; ONE OF Hall's professional studio musicians asks himself what the fuck he got himself into at 6:20; Hall's guitarist shows the kids how it's done with a solo on the acoustic guitar, despite having a guy with a fucking Les Paul right next to him at 7:18; at 7:35, you'll notice the guy with the Les Paul gets a bit annoyed; the song 'breaks down' and tries to turn into a sexy bedroom ditty at 8:28 but, unfortunately, no can do; Daryl's so happy kids dig his music at 8:54...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Video Of Valentine's Week: Nirvana

If you know anything about me, you know I'm not a fan of this band.

The singer is a whiny brat who, when alive, didn't get half the media attention they claimed to have given him when he died; every ''Year In Review'' Top 10 list had him and them at #2 (for the highest), most at #5, many at #10 for most categories (album of the year, song of the year, video of the year, songwriter of the year - the whole gamut). Who was #1? The same band (and singer/songwriter) that made the front page of Time Magazine as the Voice Of His Generation - Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam.

And since Pearl Jam didn't do interviews for the press, every magazine that put them at #1 ran interviews... with the runner-up. And invariably, he would complain that he wasn't shown the respect he deserved, that his talent went unappreciated, and threatened to stop making music altogether if he didn't get more attention.

But when he offed himself, suddenly he became the guy who didn't like the media, who had trouble fitting in and just wanted to be left alone. And the media swallowed it up, and turned him into a hero, without analyzing his body of work in its right context.

Nirvana are always known to be 'grunge', a title they bear with fellow Seattle acts Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains (I'll leave Tad, Mudhoney and rest out of it to keep it simple), and whose song structures is often defined by quiet verses and loud choruses. Nirvana and Soundgarden both having released records in 1989 are widely viewed - incorrectly - as being the originators of this, or at least those who brought it to the forefront at the tail end of the 80s, when, in fact, Soundgarden at the time were actually more of a metal band, and The Pixies, from Massachussets, were actually the quiet-loud-quiet masters who came a few years before Nirvana and had a decent impact America-wide.

Which leaves Nirvana's first record, Bleach, a decent one, but nowhere near groundbreaking. Look for their cover of Shocking Blue's Love Buzz as the standout track on it. But it wasn't enough for them, and the politics of being on a small independent label didn't suit Cobain's dreams of grandeur, so he set out looking for a major label and signed with Geffen in 1990 - keep in mind the follow-up record would only come out in September 1991.

Then came Nevermind, the record that 'broke them through' to the mainstream, that famously dislodged Michael Jackson from the top of the charts (in January 1992)... it was bubblegum punk, a watered-down version of The Pixies for the masses of teens ready to bounce to rock music after years of kids-pop and cock rock, over-produced by Butch Vig. In my opinion, Lounge Act is the best song off that record.

Not quite inspired to record an actual follow-up to Nevermind, they instead opted to release a collection of b-sides entitled Incesticide. It sounds like a ''fuck you'' to their new fans, with no clear single, no promotion, just another product to sell to fans, although the ''official'' propaganda was ''to circumvent bootleggers''.

So forgive me for not awaiting In Utero with much trepidation... and allow me to say it is an unbelievably solid piece of rock'n'roll, definitely one of the 10 best records of the decade. Solid and noncommercial, from the first song to the last, with a few radio-friendly tunes just to keep the fans' attention. They came to town after the release of that album, in November 1993, at the Verdun Auditorium, and pretty much nailed it. Not all the songs were great, not all the performances were as good as on their records, and I would only find out a little later that they always had the same damn setlist that they barely changed around (even Unplugged In New York, released posthumously, had pretty much the same songs in the same order, with very little change). Same shit every night? It gets repetitious, no wonder he killed himself.

Oh, and while Pearl Jam actually did shun media attention and stopped making videos altogether until 1998 (Do The Evolution, all-animated, in which they didn't even appear), Nirvana kept doing theirs, feeding the MTV monster that spawned them just like it had spawned Poison years before. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as you'll see here, because it takes a kick-ass song, Heart-Shaped Box, to a beautiful new level.

I was hesitating and wasn't sure which song to use in a week that includes Valentine's Day - I was thinking J. Geils Band's Love Stinks, which actually better suits my mood these days, but their label won't let me hotlink it here, so I went the more traditional route.

I guess life is like a box of chocolates... a heart-shaped one...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Simple Man

I'm a simple man.

I coast through life not looking for trouble, not embracing it, not fearing it; I await life's obstacles then react, finding a way around, over, or through them, then I plow on to the Next Thing.

I understand when talked to, every word, every idea; I can even see through the bullshit and read between the lines of those who live and die by the political, advertising or media spheres of life. I do, however, I expect more from my friends, family, and loved ones - I expect them to be clear, to enunciate their ideas precisely, beyond doubt, to leave no room for interpretation.

I'm a reliable man.

I can be depended upon to put those close to me ahead of everything else in life, even if it's the worst possible thing to do at that moment. I'll do it without thinking twice, and I will never regret it, not even after grave consequences.

You can expect me to try to become a better person, a better Man, at all times. But you can't expect me to change who I am, my beliefs, my values, because, again, I'm a reliable man. It's simple, man.

I like my qualities, I chose them myself when I was a child, deciding how I wanted to grow up and live my life. I have my flaws, and will work on them, but never interfering with my inherent qualities.

I wouldn't want to compare myself to The Next Man.

Because Next is New and New is Best, more often than not. New is usually What Old Wasn't, so it's an improvement in itself, until its flaws surface, then it becomes a Now, and the only step after a Now is a Past. And only the elderly and the nostalgic are so comfortable with the past.

But everyone, in their life, has had that moment, the one moment, where you decide - or someone does it for you - that it's time to move on. And all of the sudden, you realize you hadn't kept in touch with the ''real world''. Sure, the news, current events, elections, sports championships, things that happened, but not the ''real world''. Somehow, it had decided to continue its operations without you. You remember the last time you had to deal with things on your own, and - holy fuck! - it was a whole decade ago; not just that, it was a brand-new century. People had celebrated, turned over a new leaf, evolved.

Simple, easy things you thought you knew since birth were no longer up-to-date. Interactions between humans had evolved, they don't like hearing the same things they used to; their thought process had changed; your views are no longer in the majority (where you're looking, at least).

And to make things worse, you no longer look like you used to; heck, you don't even look like you think you look (which is closer to how you used to be, give or take a couple of years and pounds): hair is gone, belly is immense, height has decreased, muscles are softer, limbs are crooked...

How the hell did that happen? How did I not notice this happening? Where did my fucking life go?

And it hits you that, at the very least you're still alive; you can feel it, because despair, pain and worry are emotions, and as far as you know, dead people don't have those. But you think back to every meal you've ever had - those vegetables, that meat, they all used to be alive, too, and I came along, and then I flushed them away. Elton John sang about it, ''The Circle Of Life'', and goddamn The Lion King was a great movie...

But where does that leave me?, we always ask ourselves. Me, me me.

To the world: Who cares? It can live without you, and will; heck, it has, for a decade, already.
To those you know: they'll make it through.

If you're lucky, they can help you make it through, too.

'Cause you're still alive.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fuck McDonald's!


So this doesn't happen to me too often: an urge, a craving for a McDonald's hamburger. At 11 PM.

I was sitting at home, watching TV, when it took hold of me; I got dressed up in my winter clothes, stepped outside and made my merry way to Mickey D's , where there was a huge line-up of folks.

It crossed my mind to turn around, go to Lafleur instead, where the fast food is of better quality and where, despite my having to walk back past from whence I came, I'd likely still make it home earlier than if I stayed at McDonald's, but that was my craving, and I stayed the course.

A burger with bacon is $2.29, but a cheeseburger with bacon is $1.39, so I asked for 2 cheeseburgers with bacon - but with no cheese. With a large order of fries, and an iced tea with no ice.

It was midnight by the time I made it home, and I promptly opened the paper bag, reached for the first burger, and took a bite, only to realize that not only had they not put any cheese in it, but there was no meat either; essentially, it was a half-strip of bacon BLT with neither L nor T...

It tasted terrible. Yes, for the price I'd paid, I actually tried eating it, the McDonald's-flavoured bun, the but of ketchup, the two pickle slices and the half-strip of bacon... I wanted to puke.

It was too cold to go ask for my money back. Those fucking fuckers had had me again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Video Of The Week: Jean Leloup

Yeah, so it's OLD. Who cares?

I haven't done the dishes in over a week (maybe three, actually), someone won't bring me my vacuum back so there's cat hair dispersed on my hardwood floor, I've barely slept in a month so I haven't cleaned my sheets - actually, I haven't even made my bed since the time my cats had a fight and threw the sheets on the floor, I just arrange them back on the bed just about where my body's going to be when I crash.

Coming in from work last night, looking at my apartment, it really felt like the video feels - like a messy pad squatted by 50 derelicts who don't go to bed until the sun's well up.

I remember the first time I saw this video, in 1989, in the tiny television-room we had in the back of our apartment on Marcil in NDG - my parents didn't want a TV in the living room, so they set up this alternate TV-watching room in a space barely bigger than a closet with just enough room for a couch, a TV, my Nintendo Entertainment System and five feet between the TV and the couch.

My mom was watching TV with me, getting acquainted with the shit I was interested in, which was mostly Musique Plus - the only other shows I'd watch were The Flinstones followed by You Can't Do That On Television at lunch time on school days, and Lance Et Compte, MacGyver, Rock Et Belles Oreilles and some show about a guy who could stop time with his watch and might have been a detective, all shows that only aired once a week.

All of a sudden, between a Def Leppard video and another one by Bon Jovi or Madonna, came this guy, Jean Leloup, dirty, rebellious, singing in Québec French but not cheesy in the least, with hints of rockabilly, ska, and an attitude that was more punk than the Sex Pistols could ever pretend to be. He sang about shit I could understand: the glory of Spring and Summer compared to the gloom and doom of our winters, the beauty of seeing women dress lightly come the sun and hot weather, the importance of being surrounded by like-minded people over that of 'making it' or 'fitting in', or even finding a 'normal job'. There was a guy who got it.

Of course, my mom found him to be 'dirty', the living conditions in the video to be 'atrocious', the music to be 'so-so', and time has only exacerbated her views on Leloup as a character, while I have gone on to not only meet him but just about follow him around for a whole summer as my friends became part of his band in 1998, and just jam the night away with him quite a few nights. I've even incorporated him as a character in some of my own songs.

In all his splendor and glory, from 1989, Printemps-Été, by Jean Leloup...

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Hope He Has The Balls Not To Change His Name

Hey, at least he knows what his name means in Arabic.

Pakistani diplomat Akbar Zeb was appointed by his government to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, but was refused accreditation because his name translates to ''the biggest penis'' in Arabic, and some people are offended.

Probably prudes with small ones.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Return Of Slaves On Dope

Tomorrow, Friday, February 5th, will mark the live return of 90s Montréal music darlings Slaves On Dope...

The band started in 1993 and quickly gathered a large following, won competitions (CHOM L'Esprit '94), lost founding members, changed its style (from grunge-inspired garage rock to nü metal) and moved to L.A. to ''make it''.

And ''make it'' they did. They were the first act signed to Ozzy Osbourne's personal label, Divine Recordings, went on numerous ''big'' tours including Ozzfest, and namely only once came ''back home'' to Montréal, to perform a Musique Plus-produced snowboading indoors rock-and-sports day in a football stadium in the late 90s. Nothing else. They then lost their deal with Divine (when the label itself lost its distribution deal through EMI Records) and released their 'Metafour' record with Bieler Bros Records.

Singer Jason Rockman was then said to have left the band - although the group claimed it was on hiatus - leaving guitarist Kevin Jardine as the lone original member to take on the name. Jardine moved back to Montréal to found a recording-studio-come-production-company-come-counseling-firm for acts ''striving to make it'' and looking for ''major label deals''. He also started another band, The Monarchy, which garnered Musique Plus support and toured a bit in dives all across the country.

And now, they're back. As Limp Bizkit announced they had reformed, so have Slaves On Dope, somehow expecting nü metal to make a huge comeback later this year, as both are expected not just to play live, but also release new songs. And they're doing it here, ''back home'', when they had all but forgotten us for the better part of a decade...

Still. They're local boys, and I wish them the best of luck. Below is a picture of them with me, back when there was a real kinship between the City and them - Jardine is on the left, Rockman is the crazy-smiling one on the right.

You can read about their comeback here and here, and there is a short clip of a recent rehearsal here, where you can also learn that the gig will be viewable online.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another Dream... I Killed Jean Béliveau!

Last Friday, I think it was... I woke up in cold sweat, teary-eyed... I had just killed Jean Béliveau.

First things first... it was a dream.

It was winter, cold as fuck, but for some reason, it didn't bother me (it sure does in real life). My grandmother (who is 70, four feet tall, can barely walk because both of knees are fucked up) and I went to play outdoors hockey at the rink across from the house where we lived in and, lo and behold, she could hold her own. She made a few nice passes, kept up with the kids and adults, and when she needed a rest, manned the nets.

For some reason, the rink was also situated across another street from my elementary school, and at some point, I dropped playing, took my skates off, put sneakers on, and met up with Jean Béliveau. We then proceeded to run up the hill leading to the school when he just fell in a hole that was in the ground... a hole that looked dug by a human, six feet deep, six feet wide, maybe ten feet long... and keep in mind Mr. Béliveau is 78 years old and starting to feel the traces of time take hold... so he broke both legs and died before an ambulance could come.

Then I woke up crying.

Fucked thing is Mr. Béliveau suffered a CVA recently. I wish him all the best. The Man is a Legend, a Gentleman a Class Act - yes, all capitalized.