After several months of doing Vancouver-oriented stuff for local papers, meeting The Skinny's twice-monthly deadline and doing things for the Georgia Straight and other papers on the side, I find myself exhausted, spent, and a bit depressed. With the coming of dark and cold, I have no energy and less desire to do much writing at all. I've pulled back from The Skinny - their second issue without me in a row should be out now, though I haven't seen it; I'm not ruling out the possibility of doing something else for them in the future, but for now, they are not part of my plans. I've barely even blogged. This pattern will probably continue when I do get back to writing: I'm backlogged on some major pieces for non-Vancouver magazines and will be focusing on them. I feel like there's so much I'm missing in the city, though, so much I should be writing about that I'm not...
If I could write right now, I would write about the party to celebrate Barack Obama's election the other week on the 'drive, where Sister DJ's Radio Band played alongside the Creaking Planks (and others) - a very funny and tuneful lineup that delighted all of those who had gathered to cheer on - perhaps a tad optimistically, but endearingly no less - the promise of "change." The TV played throughout, mostly unheard - though the East Van crowd called for the volume to be jacked and was silent and attentive for Obama's speech, when the results were tallied. They burst into applause at key points, like his inclusion of gays and lesbians in his vision for America. The room had a wonderful energy and an inspiring undercurrent of joy, even if the revellers were eventually asked not to dance by the owners of the restaurant (who, for their spoilsportism and skewed priorities, will nevermore have their restaurant mentioned in my blog: phht). People were heard to remark at how odd it was for people to get so excited about the changing of the president of a neighbouring country, when many in attendance likely didn't even make it to the Canadian polls, but that's part of our second-place birthright, innit? (Or perhaps I should say our "condition," or "pathology"...)
...Speaking of which, if I could write right now, I'd send my congratulations to Mr. Happy Planet for having won out over the NPA. Now here's an area where I'm hopin' to see some "change," because the way this city is going is baffling and depressing to me - just take a walk down Granville Street, where the city (I presume) has cut down all the trees, revealing that Granville looks surprisingly like East Hastings now that it's been denuded - or even more like a street in Toronto, or some bigger city: dingy, dirty, depressed, old and ugly. Who knew - the trees were the only thing that kept the street looking liveable and BC-ish. It's impossible not to ask oneself "What the fuck were they thinking" as one passes stump after stump. I gather (from Gary at Wildlife Rescue Thrift Store, where I go to scavenge for books, records, or even the occasional cool DVD), the plan they've sold Granville merchants is to build a world-class promenade out of the current drunken porno-store and pot-dealer dotted slum-cum-partyzone. Here's hoping the new saplings they plant survive the revels on what is quickly becoming the city's new no-go zone. Robert Dayton may be on the right track in re: just fucking leaving this thumb-bum town; I am reminded again and again of his pronouncement that this place is becoming a haven for "the rich and cultureless" - which is why supporting its arts scene seems so goddamn important to me; it's becoming a matter of US against THEM.
Greg prob'ly's a patron o' the arts, right?
Lee Shoal of EDR and The Creaking Planks by Femke van Delft
Lee Shoal of EDR and The Creaking Planks by Femke van Delft
(By the way, a buddy pointed out to me that if you do a search for the words "I hate Vancouver," you get a past blog entry of mine, now laden with comments, some of which I ain't even read yet! Said buddy was looking for Dayton's blog. That's under "We hate Vancouver.")
And since it's where I heard about the election victory, I would write about Ejaculation Death Rattle at the Western Front on November 15th, added last minute to a bill (Stitching and Unstitching) that included Jeff Younger's project, Nocturnal Puddle Reflections, and an experimental duo between Lee Hutzulak (of ATTN: Diamond Shoppers, with Rachael Wadham) and Stephen Lyons from Fond of Tigers, dubbed Collapsing Lung. Everything was terrific and engaging, though I was particularly fond of the earthy ecstatic deathtrip of EDR, who sound increasingly like you feel when you masturbate on magic mushrooms - or kinda like lyin' back naked in a bed of moss as serpents crawl on your flesh, say. It's a direction I encourage them to move in. Lee and Stephen did some very subtle-but-complex guitar/electronics experimentation that reminded me of Keith Rowe's last Vancouver appearance; and Younger's project highlighted his "game piece," tentatively titled Schoolyard Turf War. (I only really knew Dave Chokroun of the players, but the piece - a sort of bizarre competitive meta-riff on masculinity and jazz - was really funny, conceptually strong, and surprisingly musically accessible, given how nutso it gets; players are in roughly-organized teams, going up to other groups and blasting them with noodly lines or riffs or what-have-you, trying to convince others to join them, creating brief alliances until some intrusive SOB convinces others to defect. There is also a "bastard" who can change loyalties at any time. It was a lot of fun, the most flat-out entertaining thing I've seen Younger do - tho' I also have esteem for his Devil Loops project. Can't say I'm a fan of the Family Stump!).
Ross Birdwise of EDR by Femke van Delft
And if I really had energy, I would take the Georgia Straight to task for Mike Usinger's defence of Nickelback the other week. Usinger's a smart guy, and the piece is well-written and not without humour (or even truth!), but there's a very interesting question of what motivates such an article. I'm sure there are advertisers in the Straight that it will please, but are there really music fans in Vancouver who list among "the Straight's problems" - because, uh, it's no secret that it has a few - that it doesn't have enough coverage of Nickelback? Is this really anyone's idea of "positively supporting the music community of Vancouver," or is that off the agenda for the time being? I bet they don't even mention that the Hanson Brothers have a new double LP and a gig on Thursday, when the new issue hits the stands - in fact, I'll lay money on it. I'd be happily proven wrong!
Not that I'm helping, mind you. I could have - if I wanted to write more articles for free or for the dim promise of future payment - probably placed something on the Hansons SOMEWHERE this month. I could even have written about the upcoming Diamanda Galas and Pauline Oliveros events, which will fill up Friday and Saturday and even spill over into Sunday. (Check around the Western Front's website - Oliveros begins with a talk at Emily Carr on Thursday, then the FUSE event on Friday, then the Deep Listening workshop on Saturday morning; Diamanda Galas performs Saturday night and then gives a free talk alongside Attila Richard Lukacs, Paul Wong, and others at the Cinematheque on Sunday.) These are all worthy events to cover and I plan to be present at all of 'em. If someone wanted to pay me money to enthuse about them, I would. But I have other stuff breathing down my neck, I'm burnt out and somewhat dispirited and at the moment and no strength to do better than this.
I'll probably see some of y'all at these shows, anyhow... Anyone who wants to offer me sexual favours, backrubs, money, encouragement, or free CDs or LPs that they don't expect me to write about in return, is welcome to stop me and say hello...!