Friday, February 14, 2020

Welcome back to Vancouver, Bobcat Goldthwait!

I am not paying much attention to the JFL Festival otherwise, but I am DELIGHTED to have two opportunities to see Bobcat Goldthwait tomorrow (in conversation at the Vancity Theatre and doing a rare standup thing, I guess, at the Rio). Here we are when Willow Creek, his bigfoot film, played at the VIFF a few years ago (photos by Erika Lax). Welcome back to Vancouver, Bobcat!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Jean Smith and Mecca Normal: shows coming!

Headphones #22, by Jean Smith (sold)

Haven't seen Mecca Normal in ages, though I follow Jean and David on Facebook, occasionally consider buying one of her paintingshave interviewed Jean a little about the most recent Mecca Normal studio album, and interviewed David about one of his previous graphic novels. Excited that they have upcoming shows with Bikini Kill (but not here!); Mecca Normal's tours down south were a big inspiration on the riot grrrl movement, so they're a very fitting opening act. They have a new album - a vintage Brave New Waves recording, out on vinyl; an upcoming gallery show in Portland; David has a new graphic novel, offering a history of the Winnipeg General Strike; and there's a new interview out there with Jean about her paintings and the proposed Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change. There will also apparently be a Vancouver show on February 29th, as a sort of warm up for the bigger shows supporting Bikini Kill. If you don't know Jean Smith (or David Lester, or Mecca  Normal) and you plan to catch one of the Bikini Kill shows, here's a chance to play catchup. This is still my favourite Mecca Normal song, informed by Jean's past experiences of dating... vive le cheap tea!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wet'suwet'en support from my comfy desk

I am not on any blockades. The last few days, I've been going to work as usual. I have had opportunities to join in protests, to block access to ports or city hall or so forth. I applaud the gesture, but I need my job, and I'm pretty sure there's nothing in my collective agreement that allows me to just stop working so I can protest (maybe I should read it more carefully?).

The barricades are a great idea, though. I suspect the people manning them will be proven to be on the right side of history. Both Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau are not on the right side of history, whatever they might say: by the nature of their actions, they're already on an old side of history - the side where the Canadian government says one thing and does another, when it comes to First Nations.

Take John Horgan's recent statement about reconciliation. This is the same Premier who, when he was in the area last month, would not meet with hereditary chiefs to discuss the ongoing standoff. When he writes that his government is focused on First Nations "rights, title, self-government and self-determination," recent actions at Unist'ot'en add an asterisk to his statement: "*just don't get in our way." When Premier Horgan writes, "No single one of us decides what reconciliation can or should look like," similarly, it brings other images to mind. I agree that no single one of can decide what reconciliation should look like, but a) this is not about any single one person, and b) pretty much EVERYONE knows that RECONCILIATION SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE THIS:

The situation has degenerated to to the extent that the United Nation has felt compelled to weigh in. From that article:

...the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a triple-barrelled decision calling on Canada to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from Indigenous peoples.

The committee urged Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en peoples who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Secwepemc peoples opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons — notably by the RCMP — against Indigenous peoples and to guarantee no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP, along with associated security and policing services, from traditional lands.

In a two-page decision statement, the committee said it is alarmed by the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. and disturbed by the “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against Indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects” on their traditional territories.

I have nothing much to add to this (though it is an interesting side note to learn that the Tsilh'qotin' nation has just opened a sizeable sustainable energy project, a solar farm, which I stumbled across when looking to see if they'd made any headway in the Taseko Mines case, another project on unceded land that has had a complex history). I applaud anyone who is out there showing solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en, anyone out there risking arrest to send the message that RCMP forcibly removing First Nations from their lands on the behalf of ANY oil, LNG, mining or logging interest,  is shocking, embarrassing, horrifying, and wrong, and something that Canadian history books need no further examples of.   

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Black Halos: Rock and Fucking Roll

Black Halos by Allan MacInnis

Sometimes I feel embarrassed of past interviews I've done. They don't go away, either: when I fuck up, when I phrase something in a way it turns out my interview subject doesn't like (and, it's like, on the Straight site, so I can't tinker with it), write something of deeper-than-average stupidity, or when I ask a question that ultimately is revealing of an incorrect attitude towards my subject, or my ignorance, or so forth (but don't realize I'm doing this until after the piece is out there)... my embarrassment lives on in my writing. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's out there for all to see.

I don't know if it made it into either interview I did with Billy Hopeless, but I kinda feel embarrassed about the attitude I had about Billy before last night. It's not altogether unlike my attitude towards Nardwuar before I got to see him at work up-close: I thought of Billy as a colourful local character, of some talent, but, like, when he invited me to shoot pinball with him for our first interview (or suggested we go for German sausage at our third), I wasn't really thinking I was in the presence of someone quite as fucking AMAZING as he was last night, you know? I mean, he probably preferred it that way, like Lemmy, I think, prolly preferred hanging out with people who were just people with him, which was definitely the vibe I got off him backstage at the Vogue. I tried to stay normal, on the outside, but I was nonetheless going I AM IN A ROOM WITH LEMMY! the whole fucking time, inwardly, probably with a slightly elevated heart rate, in much the way, say, that the guys who were shooting pool with Flipper at the Astoria last year were going, I'M SHOOTING POOL WITH DAVID YOW!!! inside them, even while trying to be all casual about it.

I confess, I stand embarrassed to admit: I was not going I'M PLAYING PINBALL WITH BILLY HOPELESS, you know? (I mean, I even beat him one game, and wasn't that impressed with myself). Or, say, BILLY HOPELESS IS EATING SAUSAGE WITH STINKY CHEESE ACROSS FROM ME! ...I was more like: gotta hand it to the guy, he has cool ideas for an interview setup. Most people I interview in person just suggest a coffee shop somewhere. I was positive, respectful, etc., but still, you know? I dunno if it came through in the article, I don't think it did, but there MIGHT have been at least a smidgen of condescension in my attitude.

So I guess I need to adjust my attitude, here. The Black Halos (it turns out) are a phenomenal fuckin' rock band, best experienced live. Last night at the Rickshaw was great. And much as I enjoyed hearing Rich Jones play - I actually bought the new Michael Monroe Band album; it's kinda great, tho' at the moment a pricy special order - it was ALL about Billy last night. That is one charismatic and compelling frontman, WAYYYYY more compelling and memorable than he was the few times I saw him with the Bonitos, where he seemed a bit, I dunno, full-of-himself and debauched...?

I mean, he still seemed kinda debauched last night, but his charisma was fucking turned ON. It wasn't the same experience at all. He seemed stronger, healthier, way fucking more convincing, even a bit terrifying, you know? Holy shit, Billy, I hardly knew ye.  

Anyhow, I don't feel embarrassed so much of the written artefacts now - I can live with them, I think! - as I do about not realizing just how stunning a bandleader Billy is when I was doing them. Never saw him quite like I did last night, probably because I'd never seen the Black Halos before. If it is in any way unclear: they were fucking amazing! I was unsure about the wisdom of having two Black Halos shows back to back, and, before last night, not certain I was gonna go to the second show, and now I feel a bit dumb about that, too. (Particularly since the Rickshaw was pretty packed, suggesting everyone knew better than I did).

If you missed last night, and you like punk rock, you should come tonight. Only rarely do we get second chances in these matters. It'll be a show you'll kick yourself for missing, otherwise, and I believe there ARE tickets available. I shot some video - go find it, if you need convincing. There was even a special guest - Bruce Wilson of Tankhog/ Sunday Morning joining Billy onstage for a Dead Boys cover - though I have no idea if the band plans something different for tonight... I would hazard a guess they do.

Actually, come to think of it, the Bonitos were pretty fucking cool that night at the Venue for Japanese Earthquake relief, where Billy and Alexa Bardach, I think it was, back when she was in Piggy, squared off around a Stooges cover... that was pretty fucking compelling too, but mostly because Alexa was so intense in her energy, stalking Billy like she was just as likely to pounce on him as sing, albeit unclear if that would have been to eat him alive or fuck him or maybe both, like Beatrice Dalle in Trouble Every Day. I think Billy was kinda surprised by her too, as I remember it... Not quite sure what was going on there (I suspect large quantities of alcohol were involved), but it was pretty damned memorable!

Sunday, February 02, 2020

A fine night out

Just a few pics. Managed all three headliners in three different locations over the course of about two hours. Also shot a bunch of vids of Alien Boys (part two here), the Judges (part two here), and Bison, all of which are on Youtube. I think Bob and I enjoyed Alien Boys the most!

I have stuff to do so no more writing for awhile. See you at the Black Halos! (All photos by me, but no good ones of the Judges).

Me and the other old guy in the Alien Boys shirt! 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Crazy gig trifecta plan: Alien Boys, Judges and Bison, in THREE DIFFERENT VENUES

Just altering this a bit to say - I saw three bands at three different venues tonight and got three different stamps on my wrist. A productive night!