hody pody IV: the legend reruns.

Listen up y'all: i'm 14 and i have a lot to say.
ok, so since the last i posted that book down there, I gots myself a bitchslappin' disease to which my bed was its only concern.
All you people down here in the pit; i'm sorry y'all, you were not on priority list. assumin' dem microbes could cognitate such a list; bein' how's they ain't sentient, you know what i'm sayin'?
My friend Nate has this band. They will not hesitate to destroy you in the best way possible. I had a broken link to their website; now they actually have a website again. Take a look. It is entitled 'love these guys' near the top of my right-hand list. awright.
Now, this website is just utter illness. I can't put my finger on what bothers me about it; needless to say that whatever the reason, the overall impact is such that I am unsettled to a large degree. Maybe it is the genie who comes out of a lava lamp and requires the use of a wheelchair to come out of the ocean. I just don't know. Perhaps it is the band photo with facial hair run through the 'liquify' feature of Photoshop. That could be it; I'm not sure one way or another. Anyway I am happy to eliminate a broken link for you people.
From this topic, I have three segueways to choose from. Umm... okay. Picked one.

Nate and I lived together last year, and previous to that lived in the same residence. Ah, the shit that used to go down. One of the things was getting exposed to many different kinds of music, usually late late at night. (This other kid, named christie macneil [and she too has a blog to find on the linkway to your right, called toxic avenger], she too had an excellent and varied taste in music. These are people I like very much, and I hope they would back me up in a good fight.) So these kids and I, living in an ugly building with shredded green carpeting and bad fluorescent lighting and common rooms all beat up like Kosovo, living as i said in this squat damn institutional craphouse with-- aha!-- a bar within 10 feet of the front door, ekeing out a particularly unhealthy lifestyle in our youth, chasing that liquid dream through insomniac days that begin with sundown, and end in batted eyes and rusted silences, listening to a stereo play, large black window looking out onto empty parking lots, and yet more fluorescent lights, and raping trails in the heart of a town called north york. Living some sort of dream I suppose, looking back it all has the tint of drug paranoia and stifled horizons.
Whew, okay, sorry about that. Little bit of stream-of-consciousness exorcism there.
We'd listen to all kinds of shit, often with nate presiding, and if he was stoned, he would play us some of the shit he was working on at the time. Not with the band mind you; he had a four-track plugged into his computer and that's how he would impersonate a band. Other times it was-- oh shit, Wesley willis, nirvana, beck, nihilist spasm band, etc. etc. etc. on into the good night. Christie would play us cat power in her room: god, she took a parcel of her home with her everywhere, somehow her room smelt like the country and her dog. It was breathtaking. No, in a good way. Remember, we're living in north york. I have no love lost on that place. And you know, in that stunted nocturnal life, you never imagine that anybody has ever listened to same stuff you do.
So now Rob informs me that Hugh McIntyre of the aforementioned Nihilist Spasm Band ("DEstroy AMerica!") has died. When Wesley Willis died, I wrote him a little obituary for our college newspaper and pumped his music out our third-floor window. Now, I'm not sure what I'll do. But it's always heartening to suddenly realize that the weirdo band that you thought nobody knew suddenly has fellow appreciators, each with their own 3 a.m. tales. Cheers Rob.
Another story involving Nate:
Toronto can be a chore sometimes. It's too... too damn expansive. Toronto is Big. Self-consciously so. Depending on the neighbourhood where you live, you might very well find yourself in an artist colony. Toronto is Big. So as to not fall down the drain, you must be also be Big. Imagine the modern horror of being normal in the Annex. So everyone has a side project, everyone has an art collection somewhere, everyone's DJing somewhere on weekends. I'm not trying to sound cynical or anti-bohemian. I'm trying, straining, actually, to make this make sense. There is the sensation, in Toronto, that anyone you're liable to meet aged 18-29, is in some realm a celebrity. You amble into the Green Room, say, on a Thursday evening with your housemate, sniffing around for the odd pint of Creemore. Look around: just a bunch of people, right? Wrong. In underground currents of which are not even aware, these people are extremely important. That guy? he has a hit mash-up in France. This girl you are shaking hands with? She has a conceptual art exhibit on Queen Street. There is a sensation of vertigo, because the floor has collapsed beneath you; there is another channel of energy running through the plumbing in the bars and under the tables, there are entire dimension to the social undercurrents that must be running outside of your knowledge. Toronto isn't laid out on a grid; it runs deep like a human ant colony: compartments of culture operating in microcosms, dividing ad nauseum, cavernous and insular, manufacturing nothing but succesive layers of ego.
This, I understand, is the post-modern society we are living in. Once upon a time, the 'artists' might have been a very exclusive caste. But as common culture fragments, we are left with something very different. Hell, I'm a punk kid. I've got "my tribe." Even I have a hard time keeping track of the (notice the very skeptical quotation marks throughout) "genres" that exist within my own culture bubble. "Sci-fi grind?!" w.t.f.
So everyone, left to their own devices, goes and does their own thing. Awesome. In a burgeoning metropolis, stripped of most identifying signifiers, people go and invent their own cultures and tribes. This is quite normal. How else are people going to identify themselves? By their jobs?!
This is awesome, y'know?! This is my favorite politics in action! But wait. Why do we need thirty successive layers of conceptual art installation genres? Why do we need so many cultures? Especially since, by my reckoning, they have all taken on the very same model of the mainstream bourgeois culture industry they replace?
I'm being unfair. But it's the feeling in the air, the vibe of Toronto, of succesive layers of exclusivity and tightly compartmentalized self-importance. If you can find fifty kids who treat you as a celebrity, great. Welcome to Toronto. You'll fit right in. Otherwise you may find yourself feeling disoriented and unwelcome once in awhile.
People need to actualize themselves in some way. Outside the Annex lies North York. Which is even worse. Out there you have a different model of self-actualization, where people derive satisfaction from being consumers. Even farther out there you have folks whose very centre and focus could very well be a church. Their entire identity is wound up in not being godless, or urban, or not being anything but Gladys who sells strawberries on Highway 7 and sings badly but proudly on Sundays.
Dammit yeah, I'm in favor of an Artist Society over the Consumer Society. You go back and read Marx, and what is he talking about? Creating a society where workers get a feeling of self-actualization from their labour, not being alienated from it. But why does the product of the Artist Society have to be wasted on surplus art? And yeah, I consider it surplus art when it's being distributed in an echo chamber for the expressed purpose of creating a microcosmic hierarchy of status. Let's bring on the Artisan Society, let's get those kids building furniture and clothes and shoes for one another.
I'm sorry. I'm being unfair. And quite guilty of the same offense that I'm levelling at all the good kids out there. I guess it's just part of the Toronto atmosphere; the haze of self-importance that can be quite distracting until it lets you in. Really, I don't think I've met a single person out there who was out-and-out rude or snobbish. Anyway, here's my story.

Nate and his band are playing the Cameron House in the back room. It's a fairly big deal; there's a couple opening acts and they have been expending effort to sell out the room. I'm there, of course. Christie and Miche are there. The House is out representin' for one of their own. Nate asked, very respectfully, this guy to open for him. Nate is usually not someone you equate with respectfulness. Not that he's arrogant; quite the opposite. Nate gets quite disdainful of people who take themselves too seriously. He's generally a caustic, sarcastic kind of personality. One of the reasons we're friends. Anyway: The first band comes onstage to set up; y'know, a generic sort of radio-punk band. (radio-punk vs. true punk: gel in hair vs. glue in hair; moderately fast rhythm vs. all-out d-beats, etc.) They're lookin' sharp, they spent time with their arrangement of clothes. Guitarist has more than one guitar onstage with him, and changes guitars to get a negligible difference in tone during the set. They have spent some time learning how to dance while playing. Y'know, average Toronto citizens who have picked up the aesthetic traits of Being In A Band. They finish the set. My prognosis: it takes a lot to impress me, and they have not. It's very generic. Nothing they've played has leapt out at me. At least they can all play in time. Whatever. They finish the set thusly: "this is going to be our last song! Thanks to all of you! Thanks to Run with the Kittens! (nate's band) We've got CDs, they're 10 dollars, we've got a website at www.*****.com, you can also sign up for out email list to find out when our next gig will be, check us out tuesday, we'll be playing at ******..... thanks again!" Again, let me say: enthusiastic young Torontonians, following through on what you gotta do to Have A Band. Whatever. These 'last song' lectures are pretty fucking commonplace.
Next is Nate's friend. A little about this guy: Nate was kind of nervous that he wouldn't go over well. He calls himself the 'fisherman.' Why? He likes to fish. He's wearing a flannel shirt but no galoshes. He's probably in his late fifties. Drinking unobtrusively a whiskey tonic. He starts off kinda shy with a punched-up acoustic on his lap. Gets the whole souncheck situation smoothed out, and then sends the audience into shivers. The place is silent except for the tremendous applause in between songs. He casts a spell. His voice quavers with emotion, singing a song of friends passed on, and there's not a dry eye in the house. Christie turns to me, not during one of the songs mind you-- that would be sacriledge, and says something like "I think I'm in love." At the end of the set, which has felt like three dreamy hours, he says something to the effect of: "Thanks for listenin'. I'm called the fisherman, and if you want to reach me, I live about fifteen kilometres out of Orillia." Toronto is not known for being warm. But the audience sends him off with flurries of applause. They are begging a grandad to tell them one more story. It was a strange, regressive experience. You forget how to speak in any tone but one of wonder.
That poor Toronto band huddled their amps and guitars out of that bar and into some fuel-efficient car for a quiet drive home. Nate and the band were ecstatic, despite knowing full-well that they would have to play their asses off just to not be forgotten that night. They did, and they weren't, but the evening's toasts went to the Fisherman, who lives out of Orillia, if you want to reach him.


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