Thursday, March 10, 2011

Weird dreams of John Wright

Nomeansno at the Royale Banquet Hall, by Femke van Delft, not to be reused without permission.

I got kind of irritated with Nomeansno, around the time of their Biltmore gig last year. Not sure what the problem was - since the last time I'd seen them play, at that frigging banquet hall with the enormous chandeliers (see above) - I'd gotten articles on them in Big Takeover, Ox Fanzine, the Georgia Straight, and The Skinny. Better, the Ox article was in print in Germany to correspond with Nomeansno's tour there ( John talking about beer, a topic he knows well, since he makes it!).

Now, we gather that the band have some sort of issue with guestlisting, since they're about the only people I know of who have written a song that, in part, complains about people wanting to get into shows for free; which is fair enough, actually, but on the flipside of that, fuck, it's not like I got PAID for most of those articles. I got some fifty or sixty bucks each for the Straight things - a wee record review and a Hanson Brothers music note. Otherwise I got paid in copies and whatever perks I could milk from the experience (including that of talking to people whose music I revere). That's kind of par for the course, for me; you might think that that's a sucker's game, and it might be (and I might retort to "Small Parts," "what about me? What about me? Can I write for you for free?") but the sort of music I'm interested in is generally not the sort of music anyone can afford to pay to publish articles on; and the magazines that people who listen to said music actually read, the magazines that make a difference, that contribute to the community, would all go tits-up if they started shelling out money, especially with the proliferation of the internet. The very few of them - Punk Planet, say - that actually DID pay money, DID go tits up (PP folded exactly after I wrote my Subhumans piece for them - so I didn't get paid for it; that also happened with Terminal City, who paid, but never paid me, because after I wrote about Zev Asher for them, they died). Japan's Doll Magazine, which ran a Nomeansno article of mine, were quite generous, if not exactly in cash terms (we got LOTS of copies, which they mailed from Japan at a hefty price; I spread most of them around amongst members of Camp Nomeansno and mailed signed copies to the translator and photographer, at cost to myself). Last I heard, Doll, too, were either gone or gone online or so forth. I mean, maybe I've got it wrong, but as best as I can see, it's a marginal industry, where the people who publish the magazines barely get to pay themselves; quite honestly, there's little enough cash to be had in this that I don't think I would be doing what I do at all if I didn't get into the shows I write about for free. It's a sort of standard perk and a fairly straightforward way for bands to make sure that people who support them continue to do so....
...because when I had trouble getting on the list for said Biltmore show, I got pissed off. I'm not sure what the problem was on Nomeansno's part, but it suggested to me that the band don't really care about having things written about them, which may well be the case; maybe they figure their music is strong enough that they can get by without the support of people like myself, or maybe they actually think I'm somehow making good money doing this and don't deserve added perks. Whatever the case is, fuggit: not that anyone anywhere (other than maybe Chedsey) has noticed it, but, since not going to the Biltmore show, I've been on a petulant little strike, which has lasted for about a year now: "screw this, I'll go write about the Subhumans, at least they appreciate it..." I did pick up that nice twofer vinyl reissue of Wrong that came out, and I'm waiting for Tour EP 2 to show up in town, since I gather from Ford it's due, but I stopped hanging out on the Nomeansno message board, stopped paying attention to where the band played, stopped really even listening to them enthusiastically. If they played Vancouver again, I might go - I don't think they have since the Biltmore gig - but what I'm not prepared to do at present is write about these guys again. (Besides, I've kinda done them to death, having interviewed each of them on at least two occasions. I'd interview Tom again if he put out a new solo album, mind you). In part, my "strike" is about protecting my fandom; before I get pissed off enough that I stop LIKING the band, I figure I'd best just become another paying customer. (I'd still pay to see them, but that's about it; they can have my journalistic support, or my money, but not both).

Anyhow, that's all preamble to the weird dream I've just woken up from. I was taking a film studies class somewhere, and John - apropos of nothing - was in it; and he was either in a wheelchair or suffering from some sort of back pain. At a break in the class, I got to chatting with him, and he told me that he had a great idea for a movie, in which there are two crews filming a movie in the jungle, and they have a falling out or go to war with each other. The final film would be quite schizophrenic, and edited together from the footage shot from their opposing points of view. It was a pretty cool and original idea, and reminded me of some other movie, that I was telling John about (can't think of what it might be now that I'm awake) when the instructor, an attractive middle-aged woman, wandered over. Around that time, John had a significant twinge of back pain in his left side, and I announced that I might have some pills that could help him (making some sort of comment for the instructors' benefit that I had medical issues of my own that I was carrying pills for - it wasn't recreational). As I rummaged around in my bag, I told the instructor, "this is John Wright, of Nomeansno and the Hanson Brothers;" they chatted, while I popped open my pill bottle to discover that all I had around was Advil.

"John, do you want some Advil?"

That's all I remember from the dream.


Anonymous said...

Seriously? You're whining about not being on the guest-list? Sad.

Allan MacInnis said...

Actually, I'm providing context, for whatever it's worth, for telling people about a weird dream I had with John Wright in it.