Monday, December 31, 2012

Video Of The Week: The Breeders

It's hard to know exactly what to make of The Breeders: Pixies side-project (leader/singer/guitarist/songwriter Kim Deal was the Pixies' bass player and her twin Kelley Deal was almost their drummer), twin sisters' excuse to take drugs (Kelley went to rehab for heroin in 1995; Kim went to rehab in 2002, mostly for alcohol, but she also had drug issues), or one-hit wonders with other interesting - albeit less catchy - tracks?

 The term ''breeders'' comes from the gay community: it is how they refer to heterosexuals; this has led to a wide acceptance of the band in their circles. Kim Deal is often said to be ''a straight man and lesbian woman's ideal girl'', although personally, I find Kelley to have aged much better.

In any event, Last Splash may have been their big hit record, but I'll always remember purchasing Pod, their first, in a bargain bin at a record store in 1993, at a mom-and-pop record store somewhere in Connecticut, near a rest stop where we stopped for some Burger King (I asked for "ham-boogers and French flies"... I thought I was hilarious, the cashier didn't care for my brand of 14-year old comedy) on the way back from winning a hockey tournament in Boston.

This song, Divine Hammer - which refers either to heroin or a wonderful penis - was the third single from Last Splash, and its video was co-directed by Spike Jonze, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, and transgressive filmmaker Richard Kern.

Kim Deal also tried to start a movement with All Wave, a means of returning music recording back to a time without computers, auto-tune, and all that digital crap. She even got a logo made for it, which I'll have to put on one of my releases someday:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another List

I may not always agree with legendary gay rights activist/columnist Richard Burnett - we've had our moments of heated debates on Facebook this year, particularly - but his choices for best/hottest Montrealers of 2012 contains so many right choices that I'm left to accept even conceited hotheads Justin Trudeau and Xavier Dolan as ''hot''...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Tops Of 2012

Top 15 Songs:

15. HIT ME, Mystikal
14. I BELONG IN YOUR AMRS, Chairlift
13. FINE LINES, The Guest Bedroom
11. TRY, P!nk
7. SAPOUD, Anticipateurs
6. OBLIVION, Grimes
5. COMEBACK KID, Sleigh Bells
4. NIGGAS IN PARIS, Jay-Z & Kanye West (Watch The Throne)*
3. HELL BROKE LUCE, Tom Waits*
2. FREEDOM AT 21, Jack White
1. DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN, Bruce Springsteen

Honorable mentions: CLEANING OUT MY CLOSET by Angel Haze, DOOM AND GLOOM by The Rolling Stones, SUPERMOON MADE ME WANT TO PEE by The Flaming Lips, BREATHING UNDERWATER by Metric, THE SEER, by Swans, LAURA, by Bat For Lashes

*albums released in 2011, but singles released in 2012

Top 15 Albums:

14. YELLOW & GREEN, Baroness
13. INTERSTELLAR, Frankie Rose
12. TEMPEST, Bob Dylan
11. HANDWRITTEN, The Gaslight Anthem
9. I BET ON SKY, Dinosaur Jr.
8. R.A.P. MUSIC, Killer Mike
7. VISIONS, Grimes
6. SUN, Cat Power
5. THE HAUNTED MAN, Bat For Lashes
4. REIGN OF TERROR, Sleigh Bells
3. OLD IDEAS, Leonard Cohen
2. BLUNDERBUSS, Jack White
1. ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND!, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Honorable mentions: A SLEEP AND A FORGETTING by Islands, SWEETHEART, SWEET LIGHT by Spiritualized, LOST SONGS by ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, THE ODDS by The Evens, VICIOUS LIES AND DANGEROUS RUMORS by Big Boi, SILVER AGE by Bob Mould

Video Of The Week: The Ramones

The Ramones. They dressed like ''rockers'' (blue jeans, black leather jackets, Beatles-esque haircuts of varying lengths), shared a fictitious last name inspired by one of John Lennon's alternate names when checking into hotels, and sang songs that lasted less than 3 minutes.

They are widely regarded as having kick-started the punk rock movement, both in the U.S. as part of the New York City scene (cemented by their many appearances at C.B.G.B.'s) and U.K. (their first tour is said to have inspired acts such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash to take up instruments, as well as U2) and, between 1974 and 1996, performed 2263 shows, had 5 drummers to play on their 14 studio albums, and influenced hundreds of bands.

They also sang a Christmas song, which I'm offering you this week.

Life Lessons #12 & 35

Everyone you know will let you down.

Family - siblings, parents, children. Relatives. By not showing up, by fighting over feeble matters, by looking after themselves.

Friends - best or otherwise - or mere acquaintances, by missing your birthday, neglecting to keep in touch, generally not caring about your well-being beyond the ''how's it going? Hope you're doing well!'' portion of communication.

Your spouse, through lies, things untold, cheating on you with an old, bald, toothless guy or worse - a Bruno Mars-looking motherfucker you always think of when a shitty song plays on the radio or TV (or a Madonna lookalike for girls, which encompasses all of these adjectives).

Strangers will let you down.

Sports teams, athletes, entertainers. Idols.

Politicians pretty much get paid for letting you down.

Things will let you down, too: your car, your TV, public transit, piping systems, air conditioners, your computer, your phone.

What's important, what matters most, is how you're going to deal with it, the amount of bullshit you're willing to put up from each of those sources before you snap and kick them to the curb, always keeping in mind we only have one life, we never know when it's going to end for any of us (unless someone takes matters into their own hands), and it's best to be with people you love/enjoy/appreciate than with people you hate - or alone.

It's normal not to have the same level of tolerance to the bullshit for everyone: I'll forgive my brother or woman (not that I would 'own' the woman, just the one I'd be with at the time) a lot more crap than I would someone I see once a year or less.

But you can't hold a grudge with someone for a long time if it's for something stupid (say, someone didn't return a book you lent them), you have to pick your battles. Especially for one that threatens to have you never see that person again.

On the other hand, life isn't a fucking slogan, either. Sayings like this one piss me off to the extreme (as Vanilla Ice would say):

Because people can let you down even if you don't ''put yourself in that position'', even if you have no fucking expectations towards them, just because they're fucking human beings and that's what we do - we think of #1, or we don't think at all. It's the nature of the beast.

I know, the Holidays are a time to celebrate, be festive, happy, but it's also a time where those who don't have the means to share and spend time with others become sadder and more depressed than ever; the poor remain poor, the needy are still in need. And the betrayed remain stabbed in the back. I'm just thinking of them today.

If It Brings Attention To The Subject...

Sure, being a ''nude blogger'' is a gimmick, particularly if one mostly blogs about a deeply Conservative country on the brink of moving even more to the right. And when said blogger takes the nudity to the streets to protest (albeit in the relatively safe environment of Stockholm, near the Egyptian embassy, rather than in Egypt itself), even those who had no idea she existed will at least be curious.

''She'' is Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, and she shares the fear of many rights activists, Christian organizations and liberals' opinions that the Muslim Brotherhood's planned use of the "principles of Islamic law" to be the basis of national law will lead to a form of Sharia Law.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Proving The NRA Wrong

Why teachers shouldn't have guns, and why even having armed policemen in schools isn't the answer:

This guy is a DEA agent, not some beat cop who'll never get to draw his weapon in 25 years of service working for the city; this guy is a fully-qualified field agent who goes after drug dealers on a daily basis.

Snopes verified that the story is real.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Video Of The (Past) Week: Jay-Z

During my time in the hospital at the beginning of the month, the only entertainment I had was the music in my smart phone and a few books friends brought me, and while there was little opportunity to sleep, the clock in front of my eyes was showing me every single second that was passing by, which almost drove me insane.

Needless to say, my go-to move was to put on my headphones, close my eyes, and escape to the sounds of the 1000+ songs in my phone, five of which were by Jay-Z; I was never a huge ''Jayhova'' fan, but for two weeks, I didn't skip his songs even once, and this one, with its sample of The Jackson 5's I Want You Back and the laid-back production of Kanye West (yes, I said it!) was often found to be repeated.

Watch for cameos by Nelly, EveDestiny's Child (I guess he had an eye on Beyoncé early on!), Outkast, LL Cool J and Kanye West, and enjoy the sight of Jay-Z in New York Knicks apparel, which you'll never see again now that he owns the Brooklyn Nets!

Today's Sign Of Our Civilization's Imminent Demise

An all-male court in Iowa - its Supreme Court, no less - ruled that an employer (read: ''man'') can fire an employee (read: ''woman'') for being ''irresistible''. Not just that - it was a unanimous, 7-0 decision.

Key highlights from the article:
Such firings may be unfair, but they are not unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because they are motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.
"These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don't think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires and that Iowa women are the ones who have to monitor and control their bosses' sexual desires," said (victim Melissa Nelson's) attorney Paige Fiedler. "If they get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it."
Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.
He also once allegedly remarked about her infrequent sex life by saying, "that's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it."
That's right - he can say things that are close to sexual harassment, which she has to endure, but she can't keep her job because she's too sexy.

How did we go from the 1990s where things were looking up for common sense and liberties to a bizarro-1950s of extra-puritanism, new racism, the rise of religious zealots, tons of guns and daily shootings?

I mean, I know the answer. Watch and listen to Dennis Miller before, say, the year 2000, and then look for something post 9/11 - two completely different guys. Many Americans changed on that day, their fear and anger turning them into cro-mags and uneducated retrogrades. Not all, but the percentage of rednecks went from 10% to something close to 47% of the country. Which can only mean one thing: the terrorists have, indeed, won.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Sad-Off

Samuel L. Jackson and Anne Hathaway (with a cameo from The Daily Show's Jessica Williams) discuss how sad their upcoming movies are and, in the process,find common ground and some kind of Holiday Spirit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Danger Lurks In Montréal

Don't leave your babies unattended to in Montréal parks, they might get snatched... by golden eagles!

EDIT: Ok, so it's a fake. Still, well made, and quite entertaining!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Ads

This senseless violence. Constant.

And the debates, which used to be solely about ''gun control'', for or against, the rest of the world failing to understand the United States were born out of gunfire and it would be damn near impossible to take them away, paranoid as people can get.

And now the new debate on mental health and health care.

It's all good, but it misses some points.

In the culture of violence we're living in, in the instant celebrity world we're in, there remain to this day automatic weapon ads in ''normal'' men's magazines and other places, and this website has tracked a lot of them down. Wow. Here's (an old) one:

''Accidental discharge impossible''; heck, I can't even say that about my own body these days, seeing as I have uncontrollable diarrhea every time I move a muscle located between my knees and throat...

Landfill Harmonic

Here's a truly inspiring story about recycling - not just stuff, but souls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Video Of The Week: Counting Crows

To say I was never a Counting Crows fan is an understatement; at best, I dislike some of their songs, hate the rest. I'm not particularly fond of this one - A Long December - either, although having singer Adam Duritz' then-girlfriend Courteney Cox play in it (in a rare dramatic role) is a plus.

But the lyrics are a fair reflection of my month so far, as I spent the first 12 days of December (and the last two of November) in the hospital, clinging onto my very life for the first half, as a first-diagnosed/third-in-total acute pancreatitis mixed with undiagnosed and out-of-control diabetes threatened to destroy the rest of my insides while they, themselves, were keeping me dehydrated, weak, in pain even morphine couldn't calm, and unable to recover through enough food intake (the IV was insufficient for my physical mass) or sleep; however, with a tremendous team of nurses and caretakers working around-the-clock to try to bring my condition from ''critical'' to ''stable'', which came last Friday, December 7th, I pulled through with accolades (one doctor said I was ''as strong as a horse'' with that being the only reason I made it through), excitement, relief, and - at least one doctor admitted - shock and disbelief.

I don't ever want to put my mother through this again.

All in all, it marked a full calendar year of things turning to shit for me, which is where some words from this song started to make (too much) sense:

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast (...)
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl (...)
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
I don't know if next year will be better than the last. I can't. No one can. But I can hope. And I can tell myself life doesn't always have to be about hitting rock bottom.

I'm not out of the woods yet; my pancreas will never heal back, my diabetes is permanent (and not yet under control), I don't have the physical strength to walk more than 50 feet without feeling lightheaded or flat-out fall to the ground as I did today, in public, in front of 20-or-so people in shock. But there are things I can do, and things I still have left to say and write about.

As long as I'm still around, I'll keep expressing myself the one way I know how - through words, be they in songs, on paper or online. I ain't dead yet.

Oh, and neither are the Counting Crows, by the way, still touring though they've seen a number of line-up changed through the years.