Friday, March 29, 2013

Video Of The Week: Dead Messenger

As rave reviews keep pouring in for Dead Messenger, they recently released a new video off their second record, Recharger, this time with Can't Help Myself.

Filmed, directed and edited by young hard-working Montrealer Adam Reider, who manages a work station/website/traveling film festival encompassed in Rail City Media (he has a thing for railroads, particularly the small model type), it's basically a shot of the Messengers doing what they do best: plugging their amps and rocking out.

Don't get me wrong, story lines are awesome. Some of my best friends are fictitious and go nowhere, have shiny cars surrounded by girls shaking their booties. But nothing beats a good rock performance, and, well, you know what I've been saying about this band for years now... they do it right.


One More Reason To Be Ashamed Of Canada

Supreme Leader Stephen Harper has done it again - this time, withdrawing Canada from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (examining solutions to the increasing droughts that have been spreading across the world and destroying valuable farmland) at the last minute, joining the ranks of... absolutely no one.


He shut down scientists just a few weeks ago, he's pushing the Alberta tar sands harder than Nino Brown did crack, he forgoes meeting Aboriginals who had walked 1600 kilometers to Ottawa (opting instead for a photo-op with a panda who will cost $10M yearly in rental costs to China...), has reformed unemployment benefits programs to make it a hassle and a pain enough to discourage folks from even applying for it... and that's just since the snow has started to melt. He's been in power for 7 years, and he's been that active for 6 of them.

The fact that he understands politics better than anyone before him - and plays it nastily with a mean edge, not just to further his ideology but also just because he loves kicking the shit out of those who oppose him - will ensure he remains in power for as long as he wants to. Not just that, but since he's muzzling his own ministers and deputies, he is fully aware he doesn't currently have anyone lined up to take his place as the face of the party when he does decide to retire, so he may hold on even after he's had his fun, just so that the country doesn't flow back to the center or - gasp! - the left.

We used to be the Voice Of Reason, internationally; the country that kept the peace in war-torn countries (until and/or after the U.S. went in-and-out, guns a-blazing), who would have everyone else listen when we spoke at the U.N., be it about poverty, economics, science, the environment, solving conflicts and bringing forth solutions to world problems that respected each country's customs, traditions and values.

Canada was fucking Gandalf, now it's barely Gollum, holding onto its precious fucking dirty oil.

In 2001, when it was time to go to war, Americans were saying that Afghans were ''retarded'', living in caves like it was 1647, uneducated barbarians; Canadians love saying how ''ass-backwards'' the U.S. is for neglecting education and health for economics, how the fight for equal rights (first women, then people of all races, now marriage equality, soon so-called illegal immigrants) seems like a constant through their history - well, folks, Harper is George W. Bush, twice as worse: instead of being a dumb redneck following God blindly, it's the smartest guy in the room and he's got no compassion for anyone. He wants to make us uneducated cavemen stripped of any rights, but only so his friends can use us as slave labour and get richer.

That beacon of hope, morality, soul and innovation once known as Canada not only died around the time I turned 5, its corpse has been raped, napalmed, pissed on, shat on, left to re-ferment, and fed back to us all, so that we can, in turn, die, get raped, napalmed, pissed on, shat on, left to re-ferment, and fed back to our kids, so they too can die, get raped, napalmed, pissed on, shat on, left to re-ferment, and fed back to people in foreign lands who will then die, get raped, napalmed, pissed on, shat on, left to re-ferment, and fed back to the robots who will take their place on the factory lines.

In a desert land because desertification will have taken away all the farmland. Because who needs real food, anyway?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rats In New York



What a weird way to take care of the rat overpopulation - scientists are eying (chemical) sterilization to stop them from procreating in the New York City underground. Especially since poison wasn't working all that well...
“This technology, if successful, could complement our current strategies of poisoning and exclusion for rodent management,” Thomas Lamb, the chief of innovation and technology for New York City Transit, told the committee.
For those of you who are wondering:

The authority said that the typical city rat, known as the Norway rat, reaches sexual maturity at 8 to 12 weeks and can have as many as 12 pups a litter and as many as seven litters a year, “depending on refuse and track litter access.” The rats’ typical life span is 5 to 12 months.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rubber Pope

I really like artist Niki Johnson - all of her pieces reflect her mind-set on whatever topics she chooses to express herself, sometimes referring to celebrities (Paris Hilton was the inspiration of her 'Le Tart' piece, Amy Winehouse was immortalized in 'Corner Drug').

This time, in a piece finished in December 2012 (yeah, yeah, hospitalization has made me late on many things I wanted to write about - move on!), she reacted to a quote from Pope Benedict XVI who said in 2009 (she's even more belated than I am!) that the use in condoms in Africa would spread AIDS by making a portrait of him entirely in condoms:


She calls it Eggs Benedict.

Through this, she hopes to take aim at the church's stance on using condoms, but also promote sexual diversity and a more open discussion about sexual health.
The entire project took 270 hours spread over three years to complete, Johnson estimated -- 135 hours individually opening the condoms, laying them out and planning, and 135 hours threading them through wire mesh. She finished in late 2012 and plans to display the piece as part of a larger exhibition at Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee from June 7 to July 28.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Video Of The Week: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were back in town this week, playing an hour and a half songs where the dark crooner once again mystified and hypnotized a sell-out crowd at Metropolis with an energetic performance, backed by one of the tightest bands in the world, which is why I decided to feature one of his live videos (though the sound is from the studio version) this week, Get Ready For Love, from Abattoir Blues (disc one of the Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus double album).

I prefer his Murder Ballads album, for sure, and his late-1980s stuff, but on any given record, there will be 5 songs I'll permanently add to my Eternal Playlist on all music devices, sometimes more. You just can't go wrong with this modern poet.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Storms Of The Century

 While cyclones, tornadoes and so-called ''hot'' storms are becoming more and more dangerous in the U.S., in Canada, it's snow storms that are breaking records.

Earlier this winter, on December 27th more specifically, as I was just days removed from coming out of the hospital and still weak, we got 4 feet (46 centimeters) in one day, 10 feet in a week and a half total:


It got so bad you could even adapt Yakov Smirnoff jokes: ''In socialist Canada, bus travels by people!''


Well, today we got 3 more feet (40 cm), and you'd think we'd be used to it by now, what with 400-plus years of colonization in our land (and Canada being roughly 150 years old), but it still seems to freak the shit out of people, and destabilize motorists. One person wanted to warn us in a particularly dramatic manner:



Good looking out, kid. Much appreciated.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Welcome... To Jurassic Park!

Ironic that I watched all three Jurassic Park movies last weekend, and landed on this story a week later...

After cloning a sheep when I was a teenager, scientists have now cloned... an extinct frog. Which raises, once again, the question: just because we can, must we?

Here are a few quotes from Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum):
God help us, we're in the hands of engineers. 
Gee, the lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here, uh... staggers me. 
God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. 

John, the kind of control you're attempting simply is... it's not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh... well, there it is.
And, of course, this exchange:
Dr. Ian Malcolm: If I may... Um, I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now
[bangs on the table]
Dr. Ian Malcolm: you're selling it, you wanna sell it. Well...
John Hammond: I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.  
 I mean, ok, these frogs were extinct because of massive deforestation, perhaps more by human force than nature's. On the other hand, they disappeared 30 years ago; are they suited to our world? Are we suited to house them? As the world has evolved, so have bacteria, disease, and wildlife - a disease that disappeared 300 years ago could still kill humans today if it were re-introduced to us because our bodies have since forgotten how to deal with it - or it could just mutate with what's around. Same goes for animals, who can destroy ecosystems by their mere presence and need to feed, or lack of hygiene (or too much of).

You cannot right a wrong by double-wronging without assessing what you can of a possible bigger picture first, and that includes playing God.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Video Of The Week: The Black Keys

I was hesitating between featuring The Black Keys themselves or their hip-hop side project which I happen to listen to a whole lot more, BlakRoc. I opted for the real band, and then hesitated between the blues-rock of their beginnings or their recent, poppy sound. I went for the pop, no idea why.

This song has been overplayed everywhere from commercials (beer, trucks, cars) to bars to sporting events to douchebags' cars, but the video was funny enough to warrant inclusion in my weekly spots, I think.

The Black Keys have often been compared to The White Stripes for obvious reasons: a two-piece consisting mostly of drums and guitars with with added keys; blues-rock beginnings; both moved from their original  hometowns in the Northern U.S. (Akron, OH for BK, Detroit for WS) to Nashville as their sound(s) expanded, names based in the most extremes of (non-)colours... but they couldn't be any further apart: Jack White takes inspiration from music that is 50-100 years old, and draws every possible emotion from it while creating a sound delivery unheard until now in songs that may stand the test of time; Dan Auerbach draws inspiration from riffs our ears have been used to, and incorporates modern sounds into them to make them contemporary.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paul Ryan Speaks The Truth About His Health Care Plan

Once in a while, Republicans will slip up and say exactly what is on their mind.

Paul Ryan had one such moment:



Coming soon to an ad campaign near you...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Video Of The Week: Melissa Auf Der Maur

Melissa Auf Der Maur is a favourite of mine, constantly in my mp3 players, and in my dream line-up of people I'd want to play music with. Her live shows are fucking awesome, although she could choose better opening acts...

She has played many roles in life and in music, as the frontwoman of a band she formed herself (Tinker), she played in an almost-all-girl band (Hole) and as the token girl in an egomaniac's (Billy Corgan) pet project (Smashing Pumpkins).

But it's with her own, solo project that she shines brightest, with this video, Out Of Our Minds, also the title of her second record, released in 2010. She had a baby last year, so I don't expect a lot of new music on her part for the next couple of years, but her older material is good enough to tide me until then.



He Left His Heart Out Of San Francisco

I was going to title this ''What A Fag!'', sarcastically of course, to bring the point home even more, but didn't for two reasons: 1. I'm not a stand-up comedian and probably wouldn't be able to get away with it, and 2. there are still too many stupid people around who would not bother to read on and would get angered up by taking away exactly the opposite of what I was going to say.

Also, I think we've used that word with its demeaning meaning for long enough and enough times to not be allowed to use it ever again.It should be retired and put in the Hall Of Fame of shitty derogatory terms as a first-ballot entry.

So ''Generic Fucking Title'' it is.

The stereotype about San Francisco is that it's ''all fun and gay games'', a paradise of civil rights, human rights, parties, free speech and health, full of hippies and homosexuals and winning sports teams that beat the shit out of your regular Houston Texans, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks - everything a Republican would like to make illegal.

The reality is otherwise: a mere bridge across from Oakland, one of the harshest ghettos cities on the West Coast, both cities are stricken with extreme poverty. With poverty come social issues , class warfare, and often a reduction of peoples' rights privileges entitlements equality programs. California - one of the U.S.' most liberal states - is bankrupt, and with a lack of funds usually comes cuts and disputes.


Add that boiling mixture to pro football's machismo culture and the stigma associated with homosexuality in African-American communities and you get the statistical anomaly we had during Super Bowl week, when the San Francisco 49ers' Chris Culliver said this, when asked about a recent campaign of players coming out in favour of gay marriage:
No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.
What most people who say that type of comment fail to realize is that they all hurt the same, and they're all born out of fear and a ''divide and conquer'' mentality for those who can take advantage of it. Replace the word ''gay'' by any one of the following to realize just how much: Black, Hispanic, Jewish, retarded, handicapped. It's also true for other groups: women, Quebecers (most notably in hockey or Canadian politics), miners, smokers, AIDS patients.

To make amends, Culliver spent time with a LGBT group last week, ''learning'', and ''using his high profile as an athlete to help''.

Fine. But why do I feel like as soon as he got home, he took an hour-long bath in Purell?

Friday, March 8, 2013

His Name Is Prince, And He's An Asshole


Prince was on Jimmy Fallon (the show) recently and was his usual, boombastic, spectacular, moody self, performing two numbers and shredding an intense solo, and then...
After unleashing a blistering solo on Bambi he did a guitar virtuoso’s version of dropping the mic before walking off stage, throwing his guitar up into the air and letting it crash to the ground. Just one problem: the axe wasn’t his. The Gear Page points out the guitar was a gorgeous 1961 Epiphone Crestwood that belongs to Captain Kirk Douglas of Fallon’s house band The Roots. Apparently when Prince arrived for rehearsal he admired the guitar and asked to borrow it for the performance. Douglas agreed, and then Prince wrecked it at the end of “Bambi.”
Yeah, he destroyed someone else's guitar, and this one in particular belonging to a well-respected musician with a reputation for being one of the sweetest guys on the hip-hop/jazz/pop/rock circuit.

But wait, there's more!
The worst part? Douglas apparently asked Prince to sign it for him, and Prince said no.

Now that's diva!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hugo Chavez Is Dead

The man who had been Venezuela's youngest elected president in 1998, Hugo Chavez, has died of pelvic cancer.


Both his Vice President (and the one who will represent his party in next month's elections) and opposition leader have called for unity:

Tearing up as he announced Chavez's death after a long battle with cancer, (VP) Nicolas Maduro called on Venezuelans to remain respectful.
"We must unite now more than ever," Maduro said.
Henrique Capriles Radonski, a former presidential candidate and opposition leader, said Venezuelans should come together.
"This is not the time for difference," he said. "It is the time for unity. It is the time for peace."
There will be seven days of national mourning, during which flags will hang at half mast. Cuba and Ecuador will also honor him with three days of mourning each.

Not all shared in the spirit of celebrating the man who brought more equality to his people, land reform, sensible nationalization and anti-poverty programs: U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (a position maybe he shouldn't have been in charge of, but then again, Michelle Bachmann is head of the House Intelligence Committee, and she had less than a third of a brain) had this to say:

"Hugo Chavez was a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear. His death dents the alliance of anti-U.S. leftist leaders in South America. Good riddance to this dictator. Venezuela once had a strong democratic tradition and was close to the United States. Chavez's death sets the stage for fresh elections. While not guaranteed, closer U.S. relations with (this) key country in our Hemisphere are now possible."
 Except this dictator was elected four times (with 52.8% of the votes in 1998, 59.8% in 2001, 63% in 2007, and another believable margin in 2012), and his food pricing policy alone is responsible for bringing total food consumption over 26 million metric tonnes in 2012, a 94.8% increase from 2003 - meaning he fed his people regardless of class, which should be the beginning of the bottom line for any state leader. Says the Wiki gods:
In October 2009, the Executive Director of the National Institute of Nutrition (INN) Marilyn Di Luca reported that the average daily caloric intake of the Venezuelan people had reached 2790 calories, and that malnutrition had fallen from 21% in 1998 to 6%.
And while our leaders always seem to forget bringing up human rights when dealing with, say, China, or while we tend to overlook human rights abuses from our military and political leaders and suspend others' rights (seemingly) at will, Chavez increased protections for indigenous peoples and women, and established the rights of the public to education, housing, health care, and food - all by referendum, meaning he got the required number of majority votes to do so each and every time.

How many of our governemnts' decisions make it through such a rigorous process, and how many times do they work for the greater good? Pretty much none, yeah.

I don't care what anyone thinks of Chavez, honestly - I'm ambivalent myself. But he's he was a better politician than 99% of the assholes we're paying with our taxes in North America, that's for sure.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Iran Deals With Bank Fraud

- See more at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/#sthash.vyxaT0JI.dpuf
 

If you're going to be a country barbaric enough to still have the death penalty in you justice system, might as well use it against those whose crimes hurt the most people, and Iran - of all places - has decided to use it on four of the people charged with disrupting the country's economic system through fraud. The others' sentences read from jail time (some up to 10 years) to fines.
Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office, he said.

Mohseni-Ejei also stated that almost none of the companies involved in this case were ordered closed by the court.

The defendants stood trial for misappropriating a total of USD2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies. - See more at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/#sthash.vyxaT0JI.dpuf
Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office.

The defendants stood trial for misappropriating a total of USD2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies.
In the U.S., fraudulant bankers are not even prosecuted, and some are almost revered; in Iceland, they are jailed; in Iran, they are treated the same way as anyone else who would attempt to disrupt, corrupt, or destroy the system - as it should be.

I do not condone the death penalty; I am totally against it. The State should not have rights individuals don't have in the treatment of its citizens.

However, fraudulant bankers responsible for robbing the system of billions of dollars should and must be treated the same way as traitors and terrorists because, in a way, that's exactly what they are. Same goes for corrupt politicians.

Iran's system goes against logic on many issues, but this is one case where we could definitely learn from them.
Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office, he said.

Mohseni-Ejei also stated that almost none of the companies involved in this case were ordered closed by the court.

The defendants stood trial for misappropriating a total of USD2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies. - See more at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/#sthash.vyxaT0JI.dpuf
Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office, he said.

Mohseni-Ejei also stated that almost none of the companies involved in this case were ordered closed by the court.

The defendants stood trial for misappropriating a total of USD2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies. - See more at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/#sthash.vyxaT0JI.dpuf
Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office, he said.

Mohseni-Ejei also stated that almost none of the companies involved in this case were ordered closed by the court.

The defendants stood trial for misappropriating a total of USD2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies. - See more at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/#sthash.vyxaT0JI.dpuf

Friday, March 1, 2013

Video Of The Week: Suicidal Tendencies

Many people judge Suicidal Tendencies on the basis of their name, which used to scare parents and entice teenagers; others see them classified as ''crossover thrash'' (a term used to define when hardcore punk meets speed metal with thrash) and decide to move on.

Big mistake.

Throughout their career - which started in 1981 - they've evolved and experimented a lot, and it just accelerated when Robert Trujillo (now of Metallica) joined the band in the late 80s, incorporating funk in the mix - which would lead to brother band/side project Infectious Grooves running a parallel career for nearly a decade.

Their most acclaimed effort may have been Lights... Camera... Revolution!, but I feel 1992's The Art Of Rebellion (released on Sony's own Epic Records, a label that also distributed Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osbourne, Rage Against The Machine and Alice Cooper - all artists with clear visions) went even further, incorporating psychedelia, ballads and spoken word poetry in the mix. It even had thrash metal songs with the rhythm played on... acoustic guitar.

That's where this video comes in: it's two songs merged into one, with I Wasn't Meant To Feel This feeling a tad like a Syd Barrett piece, and Asleep At The Wheel as the pièce de résistance, catchy, smart, but with an undertone of subdued anger that warrants a second listen. And a third. Then gets incrusted in your brain.



Girlfriend Of The Year

Murad Osman is one lucky guy - his girlfriend seems to take him all around the world, and he's documenting it in an original way, by taking an Instagram picture of each place where she seemingly pulls him by the hand towards a landmark:










Unfortunately, Instagram being what it is (social network-meets-photo editor), most of these look like drawings - and, thus, fake - rather than photo-documentaries.

Still, these are sights to behold, whether he looks like he actually visited them or not.