Friday, August 31, 2012

Racism



For years (decades?), I rode on my high horse and claimed racism didn't exist here in the same way it does in anglo-saxon countries, perhaps because our latin and celtic genes didn't see ''the other'' as people to be conquered but more with curiosity...

I pointed towards how all the jazz greats called Montréal home during prohibition, depression, and through most of the civil rights movement of the 60s; towards the underground railroad that brought slaves here to be liberated, where they were greeted as humans in need of help, equality and integration; how the first 'coloured' people in villages were its stars (everybody flocked to them and wanted to find out more about them) rather than the misfits.

But maybe that's just because there were less people then - on both sides. And maybe there are too many people to keep a balance of acceptance now. Or maybe the abundance of social media just lets the dumb ones slip through more often, whether it means there are more racist people now or if they're just more vocal, or more exposed.

Point is: I don't know. Anything.

I hear the argument that ''Québec isn't as racist as elsewhere but still is a bit'' a lot more than I used to. Maybe that's true. Again: I don't know.

But it's good to revisit the subject once in a while, assess where it's at, and try to push for the best in everyone.

That being said, my friend Yan had two stories to tell on the matter.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong

I was shocked that so many people were ignorant of Neil Armstrong's primary achievement (the first man to walk on the moon, of course, or the first to be filmed in a NASA studio for conspiracy theorists)...


(likely confused here with Lance Armstrong, Louis Armstrong, Lance again, then Neil Patrick Harris, or course)


But his ''one small step for man'' should never be forgotten. It should be mandatory viewing in elementary school, for fuck's sake.



At least no one's said R.I.P.  to the guy who wrote ''Rockin' In The Free World''...

EDIT: Yep, someone did:

That's NBC News, my friends!

Video Of The (Last) Week: Tool

I've been listening to a lot of Tool lately. I'm not sure why, but their brand of slow doom rock made its way through the shuffle feature of my Ipod more often than not, and I didn't intend on skipping any songs.

It's the second time I feature them in this segment, but this time with perhaps my favourite song from them, Stinkfist, the first song off their amazing Aenema album, their second full-length, dedicated to the memory of comedian Bill Hicks (it was actually that album that got my 17-year old self to research Hicks to find out more about him).

This weekend's been pretty hectic (Dead Can Dance show, dinner party with friends, meeting with a friend who kind of just got out of jail, looking for work, watching House Season 8), but I still found the time to listen to this song a good half-dozen times.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today's Sign Of Our Civilization's Decadence

It has come to this. Millions of years of evolution, thousands of years of recorded human history, 400 years of white folks living in what is now called Canada, and now, in 2012...

I just can't believe it. I thought this was the pinnacle of 2000s-vomit-inducing-Canadiana...

But no...

Avril Lavigne and Nickleback's Chad Kroeger are engaged. To be married.


Think of the children - theirs!

It's the second time Lavigne marries one of her songwriters - watch out Linda Perry!

Kroeger was never married himself, but is still in divorce proceedings with his previous common-law partner who, it should be noted, for having the strength and courage to probably have had sex with him, deserves to get his private jet and Mexican holiday home in the split.

Not many people were aware - or even cared - that they were dating, so pictures like this one flew completely off the radar:



Fittingly, he's wearing a douchebag-style motif t-shirt and she looks like a nobody. Or Nicole Kidman's mouse-child.

I could go on for days, but I need my beauty sleep.

Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P. Tony Scott



The only thing I could think of when I heard Tony Scott had killed himself by jumping off an L.A. bridge were lyrics from Jim Carroll's song People Who Died:
Herbie said ''Tony, can you fly?''
But Tony couldn't fly, Tony died!
Although Ridley Scott's brother did leave a suicide note in his car office, so he didn't attempt to fly after all...

I'd feel like shit too if the biggest movie I could make these days was the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Top Gun 2...

The box office provider's movies were hit-and-miss; some directors I like most of their films, other none. His fell in two different categories:

Those I liked: Beverly Hills Cop II, Days Of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Spy Game.

Those I didn't: Top Gun, Crimson Tide, The Fan, Enemy Of The State, Man On Fire, Domino.

And one entertaining one at first watch but that I don't feel the need to ever see again: The Taking Of Pelham 123. And I really need to see The Hunger.


Upon hearing the news, my first feeling was consternation. Despite never receiving his brother's praise nor ever being an Academy Award nominee, he never seemed to me like someone with (more than daily-life) ''problems''. It serves as another example that anyone can have lapses in reason or control - whether they last an hour, a year or a lifetime.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Video Of The Week: Above The Law (Feat. Kokane)

I learned last weekend about the passing of KMG the Illustrator, of Above The Law semi-fame. Sure, their songs were featured in films like Pump Up The Volume and - much later - Pineapple Express, but they never became household names like Cypress Hill or even Onyx, let alone Wu-Tang Clan.

Although his group's DJ claims to have invented ''G-Funk'', my experience with the sub-genre was ground in the Dr. Dre clique - Warren G, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Ice Cube, The D.O.C. and the like, as well as Original Gangsters Ice-T and Eazy-E.

Still, good songs and good vibes being what they are, some of their songs still resonate with me, and I was saddened by his passing.

R.I.P.


Pussy Galore



I've been holding off actually writing about Pussy Riot until they were sentenced - which seemed inevitable considering the actual ''crimes'' they were accused of: 1. inciting insurgency against the clergy (definitely), 2. vandalism (not really, more of a unlicensed public performance), 3. disturbing the peace (definitely).

Of course, for foreigners, the sentence of two years of forced labour is irrational, but in the context of Russia, with Vladimir Putin acting like a czar, with the maximum sentence being 7 years, they actually got off pretty lightly.

Not just that, but the actual purpose of condemning them - suppressing the dissidence in the wake of irregularities in Putin's last election - actually backlashed. Before the trial began, 46% of Russians wanted a harsh sentence against them and Putin's popularity was at 60% (he got 62% of the vote); by yesterday, 74% of Russians wanted clemency against the feminist punk band and Putin's popularity dipped below 50%.

And now, the three activists are internationally known, supported by the likes of Madonna and Paul McCartney, and the hood they wore have joined those of the V For Vendetta comic/film in worldwide protests.

But most importantly, they have turned the eyes of the world on Putin's Russia and their take on human rights and free speech in an era where we seem to have forgotten how harsh he can be with his own people. No longer is China alone with a troubling vision of human rights, but this time it concerns an important member of the G-8 who is no longer communist and is supposed to be an ally no matter what.

If we're lucky, we might even re-open talks about how he's treated the Chechen separatists - who voted for independence in 1991 but were rebuffed by two wars waged by the Russians (1994-1996 and 1999-2002) to get them back under their control.

And there's the whole ''no Gay Pride parades for 100 years'' thing...

Thanks to Pussy Riot, it's ok to criticize Russia again.

Raging For The Machine



By now I guess you've heard: Mitt Romney's choice for VP, Paul Ryan, cites Rage Against The Machine as one of his favourite bands. And the band's guitarist and chief militant, Tom Morello, has a few choice word for him via Rolling Stone:
Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved The Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine. (...)

I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions. (...)

Many activists around the world, including organizers of the global occupy movement, were radicalized by Rage Against the Machine and work tirelessly for a more humane and just planet. Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening.
He even ends with humour:
My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he'll pardon Leonard Peltier.  Maybe he'll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he'll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That's one possibility. But I'm not betting on it.
I'm so glad to see he hasn't lost his spunk.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Witch Products



Ebay will ban (the sale of) curses and spells starting in September. Thought maybe you'd like to know.

The funniest thing is it's not to protect idiots from themselves... well, kind of, but not really - more that they don't want to have to deal with them when they complain the spell they received was defective...

I guess witches and their clients will now have to transact online via Amazon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Self-Hating Jew?

We know we haven't evolved enough as mankind when racism still exists. And while all racisms are wrong, there is one that ''gets the people going'' (in the parlance of Will Ferrell) more than others, and it's anti-semitism.

For some reason, those who hate Jews get more press (although in the U.S. these days, those who hate Arabs/Muslims/can't tell the difference also get a shitload of press, but I digress), and in some countries, their followers are more rabid.

Which leads us to a rising star in Hungary's far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi. He accused Jews of "buying up" the country, railed about the "Jewishness" of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.


As it turns out, he's Jewish himself: his mother is Jewish, and under Jewish tradition and law, that makes him one too. But if that wasn't enough, it was revealed his grandmother survived Auschwitz, and his grandfather survived labor camps...

Oh, the sweetness of irony. Like when Republicans turn out to be gay, or cheaters, or corrupt; or when Cartman was tricked into thinking he was a redhead.

In the end, Szegedi lost his job. I'm just happy he lost his illusions.

Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson Gets Cut By The Dolphins

Former superstar Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson has falling on tough times. No team wanted to sign him this summer, and only the Miami Dolphins gave him a shot to fight for a roster spot.

He got married 40 days ago, but got in a dispute with his wife over a bill... for condoms. He allegedly head-butted her in the dispute that erupted, although it is her - not him - who has a history of violent acts, including many perpetrated on the VH1 reality show Basketball Wives.

And now his coach is firing him, live on HBO...



Update: his wife is filing for divorce.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14th, 2012

You don't want stories anymore, you want moods. You've heard all you'd had to hear, and you've read, well... next to nothing, but at least you've seen the movies. Movies with hot, brooding fake-alpha males, skinny chicks with long hair and cocaine problems, and plot holes bigger than the Milky Way.

They can't make new drugs fast enough, we have to rely on what we can find at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The foundations of our cities are crumbling, a reflection of our societies' systems, corrupt to the bone, slave to the high and mighty dollar, reliant on lies and the status quo.

You work yourself to exhaustion for a mere two days of rest during which you have to gather supplies to last another week and perhaps make time for an infinite percentage of your loved ones, between relaxation time, sleep, meals and Life.

Your life is as meaningless as that of a bug.

And yet here we are, interconnected, sharing our experiences, comparing. They gave us this web to distract us, but eventually we'll dig through the porn and news and recipes and pictures of cats and find what we were looking for.

It looks like it'll be sunny today. I think I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh, Look: Religious Fanatics



Or ''Today's Sign The Apocalypse Is Upon Us'', although I strongly doubt that...

A Kansas medical doctor is in trouble (i.e. on the verge of losing her license) for ''the “sin” of not forcing a mentally ill ten-year old to carry her uncle’s baby to term''. (Technically, she actually lost it.) Her uncle's rape baby.

That is just fucked, no matter what your opinion of ''pro choice/pro life'', or Law, or justice, or family.

I mean, shit: the kid has already been forced to endure what she went through, and now she'd have to be forced to carry, give birth to and (!!!) raise this reminder of rape and incest? As a ten-year old?

You know how The Right say situations degrade because we'd been too permissive for too long? Well, yeah: we've been too permissive of letting nutjobs ruin common sense on all levels of society for too long, for power abusers to protect other types of abusers and...

Ok, hold up. I may be going too far because this hits me where it hurts: child abuse, and human rights.

Right-wing nutjobs have a right to exist and to free speech.

But that should never come before a victim's rights, human rights, and the actual protection of children (not of the ''I don't like what's on TV'' type, the real one).

I feel like the human race has lost just by having to type this.

You know what, though? At least the kid did get the abortion. And hopefully another state will grant Dr. Ann Neuhaus her license and she can get back to doing what she does best (practice medicine) rather than getting her ass kicked in court. Fuck Kansas.

Beck's New Album



It's a good idea. A very good idea.

Not as good as this article from Forbes makes it out to be, but the idea that Beck will release his next album as sheet music only - no physical nor digital recording, just sheet music telling those who can read it how to play it. This, after doing the opposite in 2009 and 2010, where his Record Club project recorded full-album covers of other artists' work, notably Velvet Undergound, Leonard Cohen and and INXS.

In the Age Of Downloads, where selling a million CDs has once again become a rarity (unlike the late-90s, which almost killed music with the worst talent in history singing the worst songs with the most prepubescent teens purchasing...), innovation is where artists will make their mark.

Pearl Jam started ahead of everybody with their direct-to-fans official live bootlegs in 2000, Radiohead broke further ground with the ''pay what you want'' strategy for their In Rainbows album, and Beck has pushed the envelope further.

Of course, this will help his live sales as well, as many will be curious to see how he'll interpret those songs himself, so it also works as free advertizing.

Kudos, Mr. Hansen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Video Of The Week: Tom Waits

Tom Waits is a singular songwriter. One of the best poets and lyricists in pop/rock, he's also the king of exploring beats, as this song demonstrates. After recording most of his albums with guest-star drummers, his recent opus, Bad As Me, mostly features his son Casey Waits manning the beat machine, and doing a great job at it.

Hell Broke Luce has a military-esque beat pattern and tells the tale of a soldier who is tired of his President's bullshit (''give 'em all a beautiful parade instead'', a direct jab at George W. Bush), doesn't understand why he's at war, and being homesick.

The video itself, directed by Matt Mahurin (Alice In Chains' Angry Chair, Cowboy Junkies' Sweet Jane, Hole's Gold Dust Woman), utilizes imagery worthy of 1920s-1930s experimental films (those of René Clair and Luis Bunuel in particular) and is worthy of being called a short film.

After being my favourite song off Waits' most recent album, this video is almost sure to make it in my end-of-the-year top-5.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympic Allergies

Am I the only one who hasn't watched a single second of the Summer Games 2012? I'm barely aware that their logo looks like Lisa Simpson giving Bart a blowjob, and that's pretty much it...


Oh, and wrestlers will put their hands anywhere with the rage of someone whose children have been kidnapped...


I don't know. Despite the great athleticism of Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, I just don't care about any of the sports on display, and really can't root for any single country competing... I'd rather play volleyball than watch it (sorry, girls...), and if Canada is more my authority figure/invader than home, my People and Family haven't been a part of France for roughly 300 years, England owns me, and the U.S. is partly responsible for everything that has gone wrong with not only world politics and economics, but also creating an environment within which sponsors at these events are more important than the athletes competing in them, which is anti-Olympian in more than 35 ways.

At least in the Winter Games, there's hockey. And if Team Canada ends up with just a handful of Quebecers in it, then I can always root for the Russians (they do have the 5 best players in the world), or choose an underdog on their way to a ''surprise'' medal (it used to be Saku Koivu's Finland, now it's Jaroslav Halak's Slovakia).

Then again, maybe I could root for Cuba since I respect them a lot, but judo, weightlifting and archery aren't things I'd rather watch on TV than Breaking Bad...

I don't really subscribe to Pride And Nationalism (not for stupid/fake reasons like ''The Nazis were Nationalists, look where it leads'', which has no truth and 17 deformations of facts in merely 8 words), although I am happy for those of my comrades who succeed at their endeavours. I'm just happier about the successful person from my area more than ''my race''.

Not that I don't care about my country, nor would I rather live in a ''One World, One Government'' type of place, because people from specific areas and with a shared history have reasons for acting the way they do and have a way of life different than others (people in harsh, cold climates aren't the same as people from deserts, don't have the same hunting needs, or taste in shelter, etc.). But just because I agree with most Canadians that hunting seals isn't all that bad (clubbing them is another issue, but stopping them from over-population and using every part of what is killed for food and other articles is in no way different from doing the same with bears or cows), doesn't mean I have to root for them when they compete in events.

All of this to say I'll be happy when it's over. I'll have an extra time slot to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in, instead of having to wait for the 4AM repeat if I miss the 11PM showing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Video Of The Week: Jack White




This guy really is a genius, and he attracts top-level talent like an awards show. This time, Jack White got rap-poetry legend Hype Williams to direct, and Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme to play in it.

And it's a riff-a-rific good time of a song, too.