Saturday, August 31, 2013

Word Of The Day: Cliteracy

New York artist Sophia Wallace has a chip on her shoulder about society and mankind's illiteracy about the clitoris, and she decided to do something about it, just not he way Annie Sprinkle - whom I saw live at (the old) Club Soda in the mid-1990s - would have done it...

Instead of baring it all and equipping spectators with flashlights to facilitate exploration, Wallace ditched the facile/obvious/exploitation way of doing it (through performance) and instead built elaborate pieces, such as the street art panels 100 Laws of Cliteracy, sampled below:

"It is a curious dilemma to observe the paradox that on the one hand the female body is the primary metaphor for sexuality, its use saturates advertising, art and the mainstream erotic imaginary. Yet, the clitoris, the true female sexual organ, is virtually invisible," Wallace told Creem magazine earlier this year.

"Even in porn, the clitoris is treated as this optional, kind of freaky, 'wow he's doing her this huge favor' thing," she told HuffPost, adding that women often feel "embarrassed" to ask their partners to pleasure them. "It's insane to me that this is still happening in 2013."

Last year, during her tenure in the Art & Law Residency, Wallace started work on a multi-media project that she hoped would serve to challenge these misconceptions and to lift the veil on this enduring ignorance about the female body.

From the Huffington Post:

According to a 2011 post by Museum of Sex blogger Ms. M, the internal clitoris (highlighted in yellow in the images above) is a complex erectile structure consisting of two corpora cavernosa (that are said to wrap around the vagina when erect), two crura (erectile bodies that branch out from the clitoral body), clitoral vestibules or bulbs, and the clitoral glans (the part that you can see).
"This work has never meant to be behind the white walls of a gallery. It's really about cliteracy becoming a meme and creating new language for bodies and sexuality," Wallace said, adding that she wants to soon take her street art project global.

I also hope it becomes a meme, and chances are this installation, made with sculptor Kenneth Thomas, will help achieve that. I give you, Clit Rodeo:

She also goes one step further and ups the ante with a political stance:
Not only is the project for everyone ("I love seeing men standing up for the clit," Wallace says, adding that this is a conversation that liberates people of all genders), but she says that the clitoris can be seen as a "metaphor for freedom, body sovereignty and citizenship."
"Cliteracy is about not having one's body controlled or legislated," she said. "Not having access to the pleasure that is your birthright is a deeply political act."

Now buy the shirt, join the cause, and by all means respect the clit enough to educate yourself on it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Defending Batfleck, Part 2

Instead of writing a full column about Ben Affleck being chosen to be the next Batman and the internet going aflame, I half-assed included it in my Top 10s last week. I threw Christian Bale a (well-deserved) sucker punch while I was at it, because the most-overrated actor of his generation always should take hits.

Jordan Walter at FHM went all-out, though, as you can see here.

A few highlights:

On Daredevil:
But look at it from his point of view. He was paid a ton of money to dress up, fight crime and get it on with Jennifer Garner – nobody in the world would turn that down. 
Yes, it was bad but, it was probably loads of fun to do.

Don’t hate the playa.
On Gigli:
If your superhot girlfriend asks you to star in a film opposite her, you do it. No matter how shit the film is.

He didn’t make this for us. End of argument.
On Bale:
Sorry? Christian Bale was the worst thing about the recent Batman movies. He was overacting, didn’t look like he was having fun and had the most continuity defying yet consistently annoying voice ever committed to celluloid.

The great thing about those Batman movies were Christopher Nolan’s jawdropping set-pieces, Anne Hathaway and awesome people like Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. And the Bat Pod.
Never the Bale-meister.
 I'd substitute Gordon-Levitt for Gary Oldman, but that's just because I'm a man of taste.

Walter also goes on about how Ledger was also decried by the internets when he was picked to be the Joker. Good stuff.

The Photography Of Ian Reyes

Ian Reyes is a photographer from Puerto Rico. He caught my eye recently with his pastiche of superheroes called Heroines, which is awesome. It's also, by far, his best work. Here are a few samples (t-shirt and underwear is a good concept):

A lot of his other works are over-the-top with Photoshop and other effects, and the fact that the images look more like drawings turns me off completely.

Spanish Dragon

There are more than dogs in Andalousia... (yes, I referenced the best short film of all time)

More than four meters in length, it bears resemblance to both fish and reptiles. Folks are calling it a ''dragon''.

Translated, the original article says this:
The truth comes from Cuevas Civil Protection in Promar: "In summer we monitor the beaches. A lady found part of it, then we got the rest. We have no idea of ​​what can be, but it smelled bad. Promar experts are trying to see what could be ", said Civil Protection Coordinator Maria Sanchez.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. EISBAR, Grauzone (1980)
9. DISORDER, Ice-T & Slayer (1993)
8. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
7. LEAVE BEHIND, Martha Wainwright (2012)
6. MIRACLE WORKER, SuperHeavy (2011)
5. CAME BACK HAUNTED, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
4. MIND YOUR MANNERS, Pearl Jam (2013)
3. FOUR BLACK SHEEP, Martha Wainwright (2012)
2. DRAG ROPES, Storm Corrosion (2012)
1. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)

Top 10 Alan Moore Comics:

10. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, America's Best Comics/Top Shelf (1999-present)
9. PROMETHEA, America's Best Comics (1999-2005)
8. FASHION BEAST, Avatar Press (2012-2013)
7. TOP 10, America's Best Comics/DC Comics (1999-2001)
6. SWAMP THING, DC Comics (1984-1987)
5. FROM HELL, Tundra/Top Shelf (1989-1996)
3. LOST GIRLS, Top Shelf (1992-1992, 2006)
2. WATCHMEN, DC Comics (1986-1987)
1. V FOR VENDETTA, Vertigo/DC Comics (1982-1985)

A lot of Alan Moore fans will rate Swamp Thing #1. I didn't read it when it came out, as I was between the ages of 6 and 9 years old - more interested in Batman, Iron Man and even Archie to bother with ''more serious'' comics - but I find it hasn't aged all that well, certainly not as well as Watchmen and V For Vendetta, which could have been released this year, despite the huge leap in storytelling in all its forms in the past 30 years - it's like comparing a George Lucas-directed film with a Quentin Tarantino one.. Lost Girls is one of the best ideas ever - taking three iconic female characters (Alice, Dorothy and Peter Pan's Wendy) and having them share their experiences, twisted to reveal sordid tales of sexuality. If only The League was as bold...

By the way, I lost my copy of Lost Girls in a flood, if you're looking to get me something for my upcoming birthday, or Christmas...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fare Thee Well, Will Austin

Photo by Sandra Lynn Belanger

He came from British Columbia with the hair of a madman and a head full rock solos. Like Buddy Holly on acid, he went from one weird project to the next, a troubadour of messed-up folk interspersed with space-rock from beyond explanation.

A proud Concordia University alumni, he will now take his squealin’ Bob Dylan renditions to Toronto, where I suppose he will become an investment banker or a used car salesman.
He leaves countless other musicians to mourn his absence, including but not limited to everyone in the Sake Of The Songs benefit shows, the UnPop Montréal festival, the singer-songwriter crew, Loaded/S.H.A.L.L. and other supergroups, as well as the hundreds of bands he’s started that lasted for six months before going into hibernation/indefinite hiatus. And of course SsKKLLffkk.
Godspeed, sailor. You will be remembered. In 2055.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Video Of The Week: Pearl Jam

Here's another one that's grown on me, the lead-off single to Pearl Jam's forthcoming (and ridiculously titled) album Lightning Bolt. As is their habit, PJ made people aware of Mind Your Manners little by little: first through a 15-second clip, then 30 seconds, then audio-only, and now a full, half-animated video.

With verses and riffage reminiscent of Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys (and PJ's own Blood, as well as Spin The Black Circle and Comatose), the Seattle veterans go soft-hardcore punk, if such a thing even exists, but from the second listen on, they actually make it believable - and listenable.

Of course, the days when frontman Eddie Vedder's lyrics were almost like sung poetry (in the vein of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Richard Desjardins) are far removed (which pretty much happened around 1998's Yield, when he started letting other band members write some), but there remains familiar enough reference points throughout to appease long-time fans as well as new ones, such as the ever-present visual theme of water as a force to be reckoned with.

I was hoping Vedder would take a cue from his pals from Queens Of The Stone Age and invite other songwriters and guest musicians on board for this record - perhaps the Queen leader himself, Josh Homme - after sub-par showings for the eponymous Avocado record and the uneven, great-at-the-time-but-I-grew-tired-of Backspacer, but this is showing some promise, at least on the catchiness and earworm level for now.

Like Nine Inch Nails' Came Back Hauted, it gets better at every listen, and can easily take my mind of Macklemore and Robin Thicke when they start getting embedded in my brain.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Microbrewery Of The Day: Jackalope Brewing Company

I hope I go to Nashville soon, and not just because most girl-singers I know and want to work with will have moved there by year's end. Their music scene is burgeoning, sure, and beyond country music, too, but there are a few start-up businesses that show full of promise, a lot of them in the pub/club game.

One of them is the women-owned Jackalope Brewing Company, operated and managed by seemingly really cool gals Bailey Spaulding and Robyn Virball, seen below:

One of them apparently can't get enough maple syrup, so maybe that'll give them an idea about a future beer... (idea: add a salty flavour to counter-balance it and get really original)!

Friday, August 23, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. MISERY BUSINESS, Paramore (2007)
9. CAME BACK HAUNTED, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
8. CALIFORNIA'S DARK, Tom Morello a.k.a. The Nightwatchman (2007)
7. WORLD KEEPS TURNING, SuperHeavy (2011)
6. MIRACLE WORKER, SuperHeavy (2011)
5. LEAVE BEHIND, Martha Wainwright (2012)
4. FOUR BLACK SHEEP, Martha Wainwright (2012)
3. DRAG ROPES, Storm Corrosion (2012)
2. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
1. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)

Top 10 Ben Affleck Movies:

10. THE TOWN, Ben Affleck (2010)
9. JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, Kevin Smith (2001)
8. GOOD WILL HUNTING, Gus Van Sant (1997)
7. ARMAGEDDON, Michael Bay (1998)
6. HOLLYWOODLAND, Allen Coulter (2006)
5. BOILER ROOM, Ben Younger (2000)
4. DAZED AND CONFUSED, Richard Linklater (1993)
3. ARGO, Ben Affleck (2012)
2. DOGMA, Kevin Smith (1999)
1. CHASING AMY, Kevin Smith (1997)

The new Batman generally doesn't get a lot of love from movie buffs, and I've been among the many who have derided his talent. However, I do feel the backlash of hate he's received since Warner Bros. picked him as the back-up superhero in the upcoming Superman sequel was exaggerated, especially since Christian Bale wasn't spectacular either - and I couldn't find enough Bale films/roles I liked enough to make a top-5. Also, Affleck wasn't bad enough to not make Chasing Amy and Dogma amazing movies.

Sure, his list of flops and god-awful films read like a step-by-step of what not to do for acting schools (Gigli and Daredevil top the list, but I'd also add Paycheck, Pearl Harbor and Changing Lanes in there for sure), but it was still rather easy to find 15 films I liked, and cull a top-10 from it.

Granted, the lot of these are worthy of 7/10 grades, but it beats the shit of of Bale's top-5, save perhaps The Machinist.

Note: I haven't seen 200 Cigarettes.

Video Of The Week: Storm Corrosion

I was turned onto this project by my friend Mark a couple of weeks ago, and it has haunted me and fueled my ears ever since, though I slightly prefer the video to the song.

The visuals are reminiscent of what Tim Burton may have done with Corpse Bride if he hadn't lost his edge after reading the critics of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory; the music is deep, rich, researched, textured - all adjectives I'd also use to describe prog-metal band Tool, who also have a knack for terrific animated videos. Storm Corrosion's sound is reminiscent of Tool's Aenima and Lateralus eras, more specifically; there's also a dark Scott Walker-meets-Nick Cave vibe in the quality of storytelling and layering of instruments.

And just who is Storm Corrosion? It is the fruit of a collaboration between Swedish hard-rocker Mikael Åkerfeldt (leader of death metal band Opeth, and vocalist for Bloodbath; also a member of Sörskogen and Steel) and British rock experimentor Steven Wilson (leader of Porcupine Tree, past member of Altamont and Pride Of Passion).

There are no plans for a second album nor tour, but with musicians of that caliber, it's almost inevitable they'll itch to make another recording that is a departure from their usual playbook; maybe that time round, they can also bring in former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy aboard, as was initially intended, though it would inevitably alter the dynamic. Then again, ''scheduling conflicts'' have made him part ways with at least 5 different bands, so perhaps that was never meant to be...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Thing With Egypt

If you're like me, you're probably baffled by the lack of information about what's going on in Egypt, then at the misleading direction the news comes in from one source to another.

A usually trustworthy source is Al-Jazeera, who had this to say:

An Egyptian friend of mine questions this version, though, saying ''with the eyes of the world watching their every move, there is no way the army would go out of their way to murder opponents in broad daylight, especiall after ridding the country of yet another government who oppressed the people''.

Which is true. And proponents of this view usually point to videos like this one as evidence:

And pretty much the only Western media taking the army's side on a consistent basis is Fox News. Which doesn't help, seeing as they're involved in fiction and propaganda as their major business, and seeing as their always-against-Obama stance inevitably leads to the main comments sections of such videos to look like this (these were actually consecutive, no editing was required):

By being fed incomplete information as news for over a decade, these folks rely on still-incomplete factual omissions in their assessments of Barack Obama's work in this rock-and-a-hard-place situation. As an elected world leader, he has to keep in mind that fallen oppressor President Mohamed Morsi was also an elected official, whose term was merely a year in before the army stepped in. Meaning it seems to have been the Will Of The People that put him in power as, let's not forget, the first democratically-elected leader of Egypt. And evidence shows the crisis he was involved in - power and fuel shortages - were brought on by supporters of the (Hosni Mubarak-led) regime that was overthrown before these elections took place, i.e. the one the Arab Spring had deposed.

And, officially, the U.S. has stopped encouraging armies to perform a Coup. Whether they're in it for the right reasons or not.

As I've shown here, both sides can point to ''evidence'' supporting their cause, and, in most civil cases, those types of situations demand an outside party to weigh the evidence and reach a verdict, which can be appealed twice by either side.

If the Americans admit the Coup was founded, their whole ''exporting Democracy'' thing that Republicans and Fox News were so hell-bent on during the George W. Bush years proves to be wrong on every count, meaning the U.S. can be deemed war criminals. Though it'd be a good thing to put Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in jail, since the Nuremberg trials, the political leaders aren't the only ones responsible, as each individual partaking in illegal activities has a ''duty to do which is right, even if it defies current Law'' - and that means prosecuting the Generals, most of which are still active in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all the soldiers. You know, the ''heroes'' we are over-compensating in glory to make up for having desecrated the ones who went to Vietnam and the first attempt to invade Iraq.

Not only is that something that'd be lengthy, it'd stand against everything those who now condemn Obama for standing pat believe in, meaning they'd hate him even more for it. As a wise man by the name of Bartholomew J. Simpson once said: ''damned if you do, damned if you don't''.

The actual truth is, for once, there is no precedent for this - and especially in such a media-savvy and media-weary world. There is no logical or correct way to act, either, because either way, people will die.

Our government, here, when a whole generation tried to start a dialogue that almost created a revolution, told us to let them finish their term (with anywhere from 6 months to 2 years left) and show our displeasure via vote, by ousting them; they were even arrogant enough to hold premature elections, and were voted out, albeit in favour of a minority government.

And having learned from that, the international community should have sent a message to ''hang in there until the term ends, and if you're still unhappy, go another route; if we detect problems at the election, we'll intervene''. It would be unsustainable to have another Haiti (where a revolution almost follows each election) smack-dab at the heart of the Middle East.

What we need, on this side of the Pond, is for the media to do their fucking job and report on both sides equally so we can have a broader picture. This isn't a hurricane a journalist can stand next to, knee-deep in water, telling us it's windy. We don't need to have ground-level reporting an interviews with screaming, terrorized victims of either side.

Instead, disarm fucking drones, mount HD cameras on them, with fine, music-studio quality microphones (good Shure ones go for $100 apiece, it's a very fair price and a news organization might even get a decent bulk discount for purchasing a bunch), and have 25 of them at a time hover above the crowds, some in the middle of it, others a bit far removed, and show us some fucking perspective. Operators could zoom the picture in and out from miles away (even from the States!) and capture exactly who is doing what. I'll bet both sides are equally to blame, with each using half the deaths to advance their own cause.

The Thing About Russians (Very Brief History)

At the bottom of their heart, one-on-one, people of earth all pretty much all the same. Their opinions may differ, but there's a way to hold a conversation with anyone, on almost any topic. The differences come not from DNA per se, and especially not skin colour or language, but mostly how they're raised, in their family and peoples' historical context.

That being said, Russians are a different breed. Made tough by 75 years of what we in the West have deemed a ''communist regime'' (though actually pretty far removed from Marxism and actually more of a cross between a monarchy, centralism, totalitarianism, and what I call absolutionism - the government also being the main employer and corporation) in which civilians mostly had to take shit all the time and just continue on with their lives in a more-than-military fashion or risk prison/expulsion to work camps mixed with almost-extreme poverty, they are fearless, and seemingly impervious to pain. And nothing rattles them.

Case in point:

Yeah, it's almost like those redneck videos and redneck inventions. Except they fucking make it work.

So when Russia made their anti-homosexuality law (actually an anti-homosexuality-propaganda law, they're not going to jail folks engaging in what they're doing at home, but they are restricting free public speech, marriages and even clothing - no rainbows), there was bound to be an in-home reaction. Particularly a year after the Pussy Riot trials.

And so, months prior to the Sotchi Games, at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, a public display of affection was bound to rock the international press...

Russians Fight Back With A Kiss

As I mentioned in the previous post, it would take the world of sports to pass the first very public message of dissent against the Russian anti-homosexuality-propaganda law...

... unless that was just a Russian kiss, like the hockey players would give themselves after each goal during the 1972 Summit Series. For seemingly immutable peoples, Russians display glee in stoic-yet-affectionate ways Westerners aren't used to - like cold Sicilians.

Still, the mostly-male-dominated Western media had a field day (and possibly a hard-on) at the sight of Kseniya Ryzhova and Yulia Gushchina kissing on the podium, though it wasn't the first kiss (as can be attested in the video, Tatyana Firova, far right, was the first recipient, kind of like how at the 2003 MTV VMAs, people remember Britney Spears making out with Madonna but forget that Christina Aguilera got Mrs. Ciccone's first tonguing).
If Toyota were an American brand, all four of these ladies would have had a brand new car waiting for them outside the locker room. Had the athletes been men and this would have happened in the U.S., an army of hard-line Christians would have been there picketing.

Whether it was a statement or not, this will probably end up being the Picture Of The Year, barring some unforeseen natural disasters of epic proportions, a Presidential murder, or a nuclear war.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

This Week's Rankings

Top 10 Songs:

10. SUBWAY, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
9. CLOSER, Tegan And Sara (2013)
8. LOVE BUZZ (Shocking Blue cover), Nirvana (1989)
7. MOZART'S SISTER, Mozart's Sister (2013)
6. CAME BACK HAUNTED, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
5. CHANGES, Black Sabbath (1972)
4. FOUR BLACK SHEEP, Martha Wainwright (2012)
3. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)
2. LEAVE BEHIND, Martha Wainwright (2012)
1. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)

Top 25 Albums Of 1992:

25. THE LOVE SYMBOL ALBUM, Prince & The New Power Generation
24. PERFECTLY FRANK, Tony Bennett
23. PIECE OF CAKE, Mudhoney
22. MACK DADDY, Sir Mix-A-Lot
18. ANGEL DUST, Faith No More
17. LIAR, The Jesus Lizard
16. MEANTIME, Helmet
15. YOU TURN ME ON, Beat Happening
13. ALL NIGHT LONG, Junior Kimbrough
9. FULLY COMPLETELY, The Tragically Hip
8. THE ART OF REBELLION, Suicidal Tendencies
7. BONE MACHINE, Tom Waits
6. DIRTY, Sonic Youth
2. DIRT, Alice In Chains

Honorable mentions: Stimulation Festival (Pain Teens), Copper Blue (Sugar) and Vulgar Display Of Power (Pantera). And Nine Inch Nails' Broken EP which, had it been a full-length, would have ranked near the middle, and probably would have taken L7 out instead of Prince - I know it makes no sense. But I left it out because it was an EP with relatively limited release (and mainly caught traction more than a year later).

Ironically enough, this is pretty much the exact same top-25 I would have come up with back in the day, except Sugar would have been around #15 (their next full release will likely crack the Top-5 when I get around to making this kind of list for 1994), and Prince would likely have been out altogether. Warrior Soul, Soul Asylum and Faith No More would no doubt have ranked higher, White Zombie probably would have been at #25, and Ministry would have been ranked closer to #20. Also, I didn't know Junior Kimbrough back then.

And, no: Ten (Pearl Jam) and Temple Of The Dog (Temple Of The Dog) are not from 1992, they were released in 1991. If I'd made a list of records I most listened to (rather than 'best of'),  Kimbrough would be out, the bottom-5 would fall back 5 spots, and the top-5 would be:

5. TEMPLE OF THE DOG, Temple Of The Dog
2. TEN, Pearl Jam
1.  BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Video Of The Week: Callaghan

This week's entry comes from London, originally, but has since moved to the U.S. (Atlanta, to be exact), where she recorded her debut LP, produced by Shawn Mullins, whom you may recall from his 1998 smash-hit Lullaby.

So, yeah, Callaghan dabbles in Americana-inspired folk. Unfortunately - in my opinion - her talent is best served live, or at least Mullins hasn't been able to capture her raw essence in the studio the first time around. But the rules I set forth for this series is about ''official'' videos, therefore this ''life on tour'' clip makes the cut and her live audience-filmed YouTube clips don't.

But if one director were to combine her natural live charms (and keep the music from that version in the clip), with background scenes interspersed throughout, it'd be a sure-fire winner, and perhaps a better introduction to her talent.

She could easily have the kind of breakthrough Jewel had in the 1990s; I just think she just needs to take some of the polishing out her her tunes the next time she enters the studio.

Scenes Of This Summer In Art Form

I don't walk into Monastikari nearly often enough, and when I do, it's usually almost undercover, for a quick in-and-out while in-between two appointments in the area, one of them usually a show I'm playing that I'm late for. Yeah, I'm that guy. Though, in my defense, pretty much all Montréal musicians are.

That being said, I want to go see this installation - named The Swimmer & The Rain Cloud - live, because the more I look at the pictures (two of them pasted below, the rest you have to click on this link to see), the more mesmerized I get:

The artists responsible for this papier maché / bricolage diorama mind-meld are Emilie O'Brien (who co-runs the place) and Tara Slaughter, who has curated many a project there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rich Kids Of Instagram

You may - or may not - have heard of the website Rich Kids Of Instagram; it is exactly what you have in mind: a blog-type site compiling the ''best'' (i.e. the worst, if you're in your right mind) Instagram pictures of trust-fund young adults spending way too much money on futile things and living the life of luxury you wouldn't even think a rock star would have, 'cause, you know, rock stars are busy touring making that moolah.

Among which:

But my favourite of all, because all the questions you might have regarding it can be answered by ''because I can'':

''That's right, bro: put the lion on the 'rari.'' We're assuming he's already had the car and cat race, that the feline's name is 'Rocky' or 'Rocco', and that a pound of cocaine will go through this asshole's nose by the end of the month.

Every single one of those pictures (and the hundreds more on the site) will lead you to wonder in amazement: if the money spent on what is in this very picture - not on that day, just right there - would have gone to a good cause, how little would it have hurt them financially, and how much of a difference could it have made in countless needy people's lives?

And then... reality kicks in.

Reality TV, that is.

Because the site's been so successful, E! is producing Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, a show that will feature many of the site's over-indulgers, though the site itself will not be a part of it nor compensated for inspiring it.

I'm kind of appalled that those fuckers be glorified exactly in the manner they'd wish to be (on TV, doing what they do, as if their behaviour was to be condoned and encouraged), yet as we have seen with TV's highest-rated show, Honey Boo-Boo, it could serve as a warning on how not to raise your kids.

Who am I kidding? No one over the age of 5 learns anything from TV, except that if you behave badly enough, you'll get on there. If you're poor, Cops and Judge Judy will be there if you act in a criminal manner and Maury will be there if you've merely displayed illogical behaviour; and if you're rich, you can start flashing all your money on programs like this one and Meet The Kardashians, and move on to Celebrity Rehab when you start your descent into the inevitable.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anna Kendrick's Pearls Of Wisdom

I will admit I am not well versed in matters pertaining to Anna Kendrick, though I have seen 50/50 and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and plan on seeing Drinking Buddies and Up In The Air.

I hope to never see any of the Twilight movies, and despise musicals so much I ditched an opportunity to watch Pitch Perfect for free...

I guess I may have mistaken her for Isla Fisher's younger sister... maybe I should get to writing a script providing me with just that!

In the meantime, though, The Celebrity Cafe has compiled a list of her top-10 tweets, and I have to admit there's some pretty witty stuff in there!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This Week's Top 10

Top 10 Songs:

10. SUBWAY, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
9. LEAVE BEHIND, Martha Wainwright (2012)
8. CLOSER, Tegan And Sara (2013)
7. ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER (Bob Dylan cover), Eddie Vedder & Million Dollar Bashers (2007)
5. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)
4. BORN ON THE FM WAVES OF THE HEART, Against Me! featuring Tegan Quinn (2007)
3. WHITE PEOPLE FOR PEACE, Against Me! (2007)
2. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
1. FOUR BLACK SHEEP, Martha Wainwright (2012)

Top 10 Nirvana Songs:

10. THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (David Bowie cover), MTV Unplugged In NY (1994)
9. PENNYROYAL TEA, In Utero (1993)
8. WHERE DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT? (Lead Belly cover), MTV Unplugged In NY (1994)
7. SAPPY/VERSE CHORUS VERSE, No Alternative compilation (1993)
5. PLATEAU (Meat Puppets cover), MTV Unplugged In New York (1994)
4. HEART-SHAPED BOX, In Utero (1993)
3. LAKE OF FIRE (Meat Puppets cover), MTV Unplugged In New York (1994)
2. LOUNGE ACT, Nevermind (1991)
1. LOVE BUZZ (Shocking Blue cover), Bleach (1989)

Five covers? Absolutely, that represents how I feel about this band in general. Three from the same record? That's how highly I think of In Utero, despite my feelings about Nirvana. Apprentice could have ranked anywhere from 6 to 10, but the drum beat alone is worth the highest of those positions to me. One B-Side was almost two or four (also considered were Marigold, Moist Vagina and I Hate Myself And Want To Die), but I figured the Bowie cover and Pennyroyal Tea, ultimately, deserved to be on here. Something In The Way crossed my mind, then I listened to it again (after more than a decade), and opted not to.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Damn You, Stephen Colbert!

Before Stephen Colbert announed that he'd annointed Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines as the Song Of The Summer, I'd only heard it once.

Granted, I avoid the radio, and music TV stations no longer play any music, but it was a minor hit to me.

But I saw it on his show, TVoed it for The Lady Of The House, watched it again, then deleted it.

But I couldn't sleep last night, and as I was turning left and right in bed, it played in my head all fucking night. No joke.

Now, I've heard it as much as anyone else on earth, without the ''benefit'' of having actually heard it.

My brain wants to die.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

R.I.P. T-Model Ford

Had I not worked at used record-and-book shop L'Échange (I'll tell the whole tale eventually) in the late 1990s, I would never have found out about all the great blues artists on the Fat Possum label roster, among which Junior Kimbraugh and the late, great R.L. Burnside, who I opened for in 1998 or 1999.

Also on that dream team of disregarded and discarded Mississippi old-timers was T-Model Ford, often an afterthought because his simplistic guitar-playing style didn't have Burnside's feel, or Kimbraugh's raw chops, or even Cedell Davis' weirdness (he plays off-key and de-tuned, whether you want to go with it or not, using a butter knife as a slide that he'll just change the angle to to get the tone he wants to hear).

But Ford was much more than a storyteller who accompanied himself, much more than ''shredding other people's songs and refashioning them as minimalist chants, underpinned by open-chord guitar and (drummer Tommy Lee Miles, a.k.a. Spam's) joyous drumming.'' He melted the songs down to their essence, then went inside himself to extract the honesty needed for the delivery, and gave you the concentrated soul of each song.

With 1997's Pee-Wee Get My Gun and 1999's You Better Keep Still, he made a name for himself and a reputation that was only accentuated with his next 6 releases. His reputation wasn't always stellar, though, as he didn't lean to play in a school or anything - he didn't even go to elementary school - so ''properly-trained'' musicians often found him difficult to work with:
Frank Frost, who played on a couple of tracks, had declared, "I want everyone to know that I'm playing against my will."
Well, in any event, the man died in mid-July. He may have been between the ages of 89 and 93, as his record label put it:
T-Model thinks he's seventy-five but isn't sure.
That was in 1998.

And this is how one of his nights went, in his hometown:
T-Model and Spam are the only men still playing on Greenville's Nelson Street. Most of the audience has scattered due to violence from the crack trade, and with the exception of T-Model, the street that once boasted Booba Barnes and others is dead. On a typical night Spam and T-Model will arrive at the club and unpack T-Model's guitar and amp, and the bass drum and snare he allows Spam to use. When T-Model feels there are enough people, they start banging away in their own post-war Peavey-powered hill stomp. It's nothing unusual for T-Model to play eight hours a night. They keep going until no one's left standing. After his equipment's packed up T-Model will coat himself with Outdoorsman Off and climb into his van to crash.
 I miss him already.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Video Of The Week: MGMT

They were media darlings some 5-7 years ago, playing in all the cool festivals, being one of the few acts still getting air time on music video channels, gathering accolades from Spin, NME and Rolling Stone and Grammy nominations.

Then interest died. Mine did, anyway. Too electro, too trendy, too cliché, too 80s, too pop. Too overwhelmingly everywhere despite not being the best act around. Too annoying.

MGMT are exactly what you imagine a Connecticut non-hardcore punk band would be: cute, clever, likely well-educated, and incredibly beige.

And yet here they play the OK Go card (the Beastie Boys card for the older generation), with an amazing video for a so-so, moderately listenable tune, and suddenly I'm happy.

Too good to pass up. And who know, maybe too true and close to home as well.

Oh, Crumbling City (Part 26)

When it isn't an alert to boil water because of a human error, it's Nature giving us the worst storm we've ever faced. When that's not it, it's politicians killing the city's soul by forcing it its centuries-old commerces and/or ''freak places'' to shut down.

But mostly, it's crumbling infrastructures. Tunnels. Or the fucking subway's roof. Or slabs of concrete falling on a woman quietly eating her lunch at a restaurant.

And lots of sinkholes, many of them smack-dab in the middle of downtown: Sherbrooke street (near McGill); at the corner of Ste-Catherine and McGill; St-Mathieu and Ste-Catherine; And today's newest one, at Guy and Ste-Catherine (one block East of St-Mathieu):

Yes, it swallowed a backhoe. It was hungry, give it a break.

Now that we've established that the ground cannot hold any weight, let's move on to another topic which is a whole lot sadder: three blocks East and one block South of there, at nearly the same time, a man was crushed to death by a three-tonne metal plate that fell on him. It was from a crane that hadn't been secured properly on the construction site of yet another condo tower, this one adjacent to the Bell Centre, where they plan on building over 100 storeys of condos (therefore roughly 300-400 dwellings) worth from half a million to $2.5M each, dispersed in two or three towers, I forget).

The thing is... there are two subway lines underneath that floor, and aqueducts. And they'll need to increase the water flow potential to supply these new dwellings, as they are pretty much just parking lots or pedestrian walkways for the moment. On ground that can barely handle regular vehicles right now.

And though theoretically, the sound of complete families of bourgeois millionaires crumbling to their deaths doesn't seem like the worst thing that can happen, any death is still tragic, and hundreds of them at a time, all of which could easily be pinned on a city's over-eagerness to make easy money and weed out the poor from its downtown core, would make us the laughingstock of the civilized world. Plus Dubai.

At times like these, I understand those who deny the existence of climate change: who cares about what'll kill us in 50 years since we'll do ourselves in with greed, corruption, seedy construction, poisonous foods, and wars in less than that anyway?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Video Of The Week: SuperHeavy

Supergroup? Check.
Summer vibes? Check (through reggae).
Unbelievable voice? Check (via Joss Stone).
Big-name presence? Check on all counts.
Worthwhile lyrics? Check, though perhaps less on this party vibe than the rest of the album.

In any event, SuperHeavy is a hell of a musical endeavour, a mix of British and Jamaican star power comprised of the afore-mentioned Stone coupled with Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, Eurythmic's Dave Stewart and Indian composer A.R. Rahman.

Mostly reggae-tinged thanks to Marley (and the backing band including his usual bass player and drummer) as well as Stewart who now resides in Jamaica, there's a lot of Indian references which blend in so well they might as well be in every reggae song ever recorded, and a pretty potent latent rock feel above the whole thing.

Of course, this being a video - and Jagger being Jagger - the chief Rolling Stone manages to convince everyone it's an awesome idea to have him dress in bright pink and do the sideways-hyperactive dance in a doorway for half of it, then proceed to walk down the street meeting all of his bandmates, à la Waiting On A Friend...

Still, strong summer vibes on this song, and a nicely put political messages throughout the album in general. With an output this strong couples with the (Stones') recent Doom And Gloom, one might be tempted to forgive Jagger's entire 1980s releases (music and film) and put the definitive stamp of 'Best Lead Singer Ever' on his face, to go with the 'Best Rock Band Ever' one on Keith Richards' ass.

The Decline Of k-os

k-os' debut record, Exit (2002) was full of promise. I even went around praising his all-around talent for the music's production as rivaling Beck, and his lyrics and flow as ''eventually in the same league as Outkast''.

His second output, Joyful Rebellion (2004) still showcased his talents, but had a decidedly more old school vibe, relying less on k-os' knack for melody and creating music from various inspirational sources and leaned more towards classic hip hop.

But then it turned to insipid pop and un-researched music pretty fast, starting with 2006's Atlantis: Hymns For Disco and perpetuated with the sample-heavy Yes (2009) and this year's uneven BLack On BLonde.

And apparently, it's transpired to his live shows as well, as per The Gazette:
k-os, 1:30 p.m., Mountain Stage

And the award for Osheaga drama queen goes to… k-os.
The Toronto rapper is well past his prime. And his new album Black on Blonde – despite guest appearances by Emily Haines, Black Thought, Shad, Saukrates, and Sam Roberts – is a bit of a mess. So when he took the stage 20 minutes late, as the day’s first show on the mountain stage, there was reason to worry. He began to rhyme over an amped up Public Enemy sample, but stopped after a few minutes. “I can’t do this right now – I can’t hear myself,” he said. He threw his all access VIP bracelet into the crowd,and walked off the stage. Very rock ‘n’ roll, man, but it’s not going to win you any new fans. And next time, maybe skip the Blue Jays cap.

For a guy who performs in Montréal four times a year, perhaps he should have done his research a tad. When playing his own shows at Club Soda or Théâtre Corona, where his own fans - by definition a forgiving following - show up, sure, you can use your Canadianism as a factor for common ground, as much as ''supporting the local underground''.

But at a festival show, with a broad audience representing pretty much everything your usual crowd isn't - there's a difference between playing to a thousand folks who know your shit and 35,000 who've never heard it before - perhaps it'd be nice to take an hour out of your bubble and read about where you're playing.

Most of us will never cheer for the Blue Jays as ''Canada's Team'' for the simple fact that we had the Montréal Expos - Canada's first major league baseball team - and the way they were taken from us left such a sour taste in our mouths we were turned off by the sport altogether. So... Jays? No. NO. NO. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work in Vancouver so much either, with the Seattle Mariners basically playing in their back yard.

Also, though they don't go to your usual shows, 50% of the population wanted out of Canada altogether at any cost twice in the recent past - and would have won had it not been for shady politicking and backdoor money dealings the last time around, to say nothing of those who think it would be a good idea on paper but weren't convinced by the arguments brought forth as the focal points the last time. So even if the Jays had been Canada's team, it's like wanting Puerto Rico to cheer for the Washington Nationals.

And what's up with not trying to work out the issue with the sound guy? Any band who's played in a bar will tell you that 3 times out of 4 it can be worked out if you're clear on what you want. The other time you'll wish you had walked out - which he did - but he should have tried to fix things first. By showing little patience with the staff at the very first show of the very first day of Osheaga - kinks are bound to occur - he instead showed great disrespect to the thousands who had paid fifteen times the price of entry as the first edition 5 years ago so it could attract artists ''of his caliber''.

And that attitude of ''artist vs staff'' usually escalates throughout the day as one side becomes more defensive and the other reacts accordingly, which ultimately led to headliners The Cure having the plug pulled on them in the middle of their mega-hit Boys Don't Cry at 11:05 PM, instead of being given the chance to finish the song before it happened so that the crowd could at the very least go home with the illusion that it went down well.

Instead, here is the evening's score card:
k-os: 0
The Cure: 0
Osheaga: 0
the public: 0

And instead of it being a 4-way tie, it's a 4-way loss. With k-os proving to be the biggest loser.

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. BORN TO BE WILD, Damian Marley (2001)
9. MAJOR DISTRIBUTION (feat. Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy), 50 Cent (2013)
8. I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, The Ramones (1989)
7. LOVE SICK, Bob Dylan (1997)
6. LEAVE BEHIND, Martha Wainwright (2012)
5. SUBWAY, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
4. LOVESONG, The Cure (1989)
3. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
2. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, Cream (1967)
1. FOUR BLACK SHEEP, Martha Wainwright (2012)

Top 10 Acts Least Skipped On My Ipod These Last 5 Years:

10. Kanye West
9. System Of A Down
8. Fugazi
7. Melissa Auf Der Maur
6. Nine Inch Nails
5. Jay-Z
4. Bob Mould / Sugar
3. The Cure
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
1. Die Mannequin