May 19, 2008

It's What You Do With It!

Part One: god i need to shave.

Since I couldn't think of a more appropriate subtitle for this blog (p.1 of 3 that I have in mind), and since the main title is actually the title of a pennywise song, I thought that a decent enough subtitle would be to just write what I realllllly think I need to do more than anything in the world right now. No. I mean RIGHT now.

k. I'm back. And I am smoooooothe as a (insert something smoothe here). And pennywise can sure perform. But what I really wanna talk to all you kids today about is impact. What are you doing with your life? And WHY are you doing it that way? Why aren't you doing it differently? Harder, better, faster, stronger, as one daft punk might even say. How do you come to your decisions about what you will be doing on that day, that week, that month, that year? It boggles my mind completely.

Most reasonable well-informed, non-sacreligious, non-belligerent punks or rednecks go through life wanting to leave behind some sort of lasting positive impact - one might even use that "legacy" buzz word. doubleyou tee eff. So in your so-called life you might want to produce a report reccomending environmental protection or funding for senior care programs or public transit, or you might write a poem or a song, make a painting for The One you love, or maybe even raise some offspring to be a functional contributing member of (a) society. Maybe you blog. You might plant a tree. Or maybe adopt a cat from the SPCA or a child from Chad. Even the self-loathing Schmidt (jack nicholson in About Schmidt) eventually gained a sense of satisfaction in finding out his monetary contributions to some kid living in poverty somewhere were in fact making a difference) afterall. So we go through days. weeks, months, and years. All hoping that in the end it will have been worth while.

Maybe you read. Non-fiction and history. Why bother with anything else, right? Because like in the Kite Runner, kids - dreamers - are laughed at when they're passion is as silly as writing fiction. Well, without dreamers, "science would be sterile and empty, and progress nonexistent" (m. kaku) But you continue to read your non-fiction anyways. You learn about what was, what is, and what will be given the path we're on and how history repreats itself (ice age here we come). Then there might be some sort of call for action. Maybe you even join a mailing list or write to an MP!

You well-respected member of society, you. I'm impressed.

In Craig Ferguson's (fictional) book he writes: "All God wants for us to do is help eachother".
This to me, is great. It simplifies everything. We don't have to worry about anything as long as we are helpful to our fellow man or woman. Rather than persuing that "call for action" in Al Gore's or George Monbiot's latest bestseller, we will all just be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven so as long that we help eachother. Rather than reporting and criticizing and implementing what we may think is the best solution for somebody else, we just have to be nice and smile? ok, if you say so. Sign me up for a shift at the Bissel Center.

...More reasonably...

Is there a necessity in any or all of us to contribute to this world and all of its greatness anyways? Could a few billion people really have an impact on how a few million are shaping our world (through government and industry mostly) Irrespective of any apathy or hope for the future, couldn't we all just do better in our decisions/actions? Even if downloading global national's podcast supports some big media conglomerate, isn't it still good to be a little more informed than just giving that mustard seed resident 50 cents for a copy of Voice Magazine once a month? Rather than writing a song or getting a report approved or reading some Chomsky, isn't there something more that we could and should be doing???

What this all comes down to is priorities. How are you spending the little time you have in your life? Who are you spending it with? What impact, if any, do you hope to have given those 2 questions? The next blogs will focus more on where these priorities lay in our day-to-day lives. Stay tuned.

note: i hope that this makes at least some sense, as it is currently past 2am.

note2: is draining the power into this pc worth writing this at 2am now, especially since i could potentially be doing something that might have an impact tomorrow if i had more sleep?

I, Remnant

Life is filled with winners and losers. Stars and and bumbs. Champions, over-exceeders do-gooders and philanthropists. Meth addicts, urban poor, minority groups, alcoholics, single mothers on welfare. There are church-goers, faith-believers, blood donors, and child sponsors. There are criminals, users and abusers. There are the handicapped. Bow-legged, cerebral palsy, amputeed, endless migraine, ADHD, wheel-chair confined AISH receivers. There are vetererans of wars and survivors of attacks. There are heroes and back-stabbers. There are the friends you will never lose and there are the friends that never really were. There are unmotivated uneducated unskilled apathetic take-it-for-granted day-by-dayers and rocket scientists attending MIT at 16. There are cool indy kids with beards and plastic-framed glasses and suicidal depressed emo kids that got sexually abused through their adolescence. There are punks and there are hippies. There are liberals and conservatives, roughnecks and environmentalists.

There's me.

I'm nothing too special. I am society's product: a result of suburban community-friendly catholic school system, multiculturally integrated with a post secondary education and a typical family life. (Some may argue that, haha). Anyways, it's stupidly normal as far as I am concerned.

Then, I ask you - why is it soooo hard? Sometimes it's just impossible to not dream of anywhere but here. I love here. Here is my home. But if home is wear the heart is, and my heart is aching so often, then maybe there might be a better place? Movin' to a Small Town is a pretty great idea as suggested by Steve Fox. Canada's East Coast was amazing, but so was The OC. New York is ... well certainly not here. But then if I moved, no... whyte ave? WEM? Starlight Room? No family?

Sometimes I wonder why some kids are left to fall through the cracks. Why do The "A Kids" (jocks and preps) as I referred to them as back through middle & highschool) bully, ignore, or hold up their noses over the rest of the "B and C kids". Privelged white folk? Who are you?! Where's the humility??

Some of these kids from highschool have even left punk rock in the dust to become fans of the much classier & technical genre of metal music. 'Cause a band called Dark Tranquility is obviously sooo much classier than a band called Guttermouth.

The different classes of society ERKS me. I know it's there. It makes me nuts. I mean, the U of A doesn't pump out 5 or 6 hundred engineers every year without some degree of arrogance in each of its grads as a result of the investment each of them put in to becoming something more. But why can't more of these kids be more down to earth? Coming from a blue-collar home, I think I can better relate to how the majority of people view our small & unique group of geers. I can see this also every Friday night when I work in a lumber yard next to 20 year old highschool dropouts and 50 year old pot-head burnouts. Not all geers will view themselves as in a more supreme class than non professionals, but when it comes to paying the $10K annual membership to the Royal Glenora Club, I am sure that there will be more professionals than plumbers registering.

I call myself a remnant because of being in the situation of having a degree but such an atypical view from most of my peers. Call me wierd? Well, it's not like it hasn't been done before. All I ask for is someone to be there for me. To disagree with me, yell at me, prove my unconventional ideas of lifestyles to be BS and lead me to believe there is much more to life than what I am seeing right now. I thought I found that person, and then that person will disappear for days, weeks on end and I won't even hear a peep. The problem with us remnants (or is it remni?), I think, is that we have sooo much humility that we fail to see that we in fact might be a pretty decent catch for someone that we can truly see ourselves with maybe as much as years into the future. A similar situation was recently conveyed by the geek on that Big Bang Theory sit-com who was on the verge of changing the very essence of who he is in order to become a more attractive catch for her. As it turns out, though, he kept his time machine rather than having the balls to tell her how he felt. For now, I'm just waiting for that day when I can say The Hell with My Time Machine - You Are My Future.

"There are homeless people everywhere.
This homeless guy asked me for money the other day.
I was about to give it to him and then I thought he was going to use it on drugs or alcohol.
And then I thought, that's what I'm going to use it on."

May 8, 2008

My 2 Weeks Off / All Punked Out

The day I finished my last exam I drank. Severely. Borderline ready-to-blow-chunks. I remember showing up @ the campus bar @ 11am and bringing over 2 jugs of trad to the table. Turns out, the kids @ the table either don't like trad, or else already had their own jugs. So I started with 2 jugs of trad. I didn't seem to drop drinking from that point on. The only other thing I really remember was harassing my favorite asian engineer for a while and talking metal for a long time with my old friends' brothers. Eventually I came home, slept, then continued drinking back @ O'Byrne's for a while. But needless to say, that I wasn't feeling to well on account of drinking from 11 til 5. The end-of-class celebration was a success though, even if I didn't make it out til 2am.

The day after I didn't do much. I think I effed around on fb and looked for places to apply for jobs. Things were tense @ home because I wasn't all motivated and organized to have a job lined in advance for the minute I got out of school. So I pounded that pavement. With having applied to nearly 2 dozen places, I managed to get I think 8 interviews and 3 offers. But then I thought it might be a good idea to call my last boss to see if he'd speak to employers about my amiable personality and great deal of knowledge with everything to do with anything if they wanted a reference. Turns out, my old boss was willing to take me back on there though, and compensate me generously for my amazing skillz. Not only that, but they said they'd work around my school schedule! This means that I will be able to work around a summer course, then carry on with working 3 days a week in the fall! Pretty sweet. But damn' it was a pain in the ass not knowing if someone would hire you for that first week!

To celebrate, I bought myself the new Justin Rutledge disc. Man it's sooo strange being Less of a Punk these days. This music is so lazy, dreamy, peaceful and relaxing - pretty much anti-punk. But then I ended up dancing through most of The Unseen's set at starlight room and feeling like crap by the time Tiger Army played! But now the next performance I will in fact be seeing will likely be Justin Rutledge at The Starlight Room. The most anti-punk show I've ever seen at that place was probably Minus the Bear - an indie hippy group where if you don't wear a beard and one of those beanie style baseball caps and plastic-rimmed glasses, you look totally out of place.

So punkshows. I was waiting a long time for this week. Tiger Army has only ever been to Canada once before and that was for warped tour last year. The band has nice songs, but when the stand-up bass player walked to the venue from the hotel with a facecloth to stop his mascara/eyeshadow from running in the rain, it made me think about how diverse punk is, and how really, tiger army really is a sellout emo-pop band and not punk at all. Well not next to The Unseen anyways, for sure.

So after being mildly disappointed by the first show since I watched my friend's band play at a bar on whyte, I was pretty optimistic about the next few shows being better. First: Memeza Africa! Whoa. This was actually a benefit concert for a group of kids (~25 yr old) who could sing (think like gospel choir times a thousand), dance, and just really perform! I've missed a couple of other intriguing performances at the McDougall United Church before but will definately be back there for the atmosphere, if nothing else. There's something about rocking out in a church that just seems a little bit enticing to me. Anyways, the most important thing about this Memeza Africa show was the fact that it tied in HIV-AIDS awareness, the Stephen Lewis foundation, and the importance of the role of women in Africa and how Canadians must become more aware of the issues and be more involved. There was a really interesting bridge between Canadian folk music and African traditional music that just really seemed to bridge the gap and bring the cultures so much closer together and kind of brings home the idea that there are a hell of a lot of people out there that would love the opportunity to live in Canada. (even if our RCMP can't stop tasering 8o year old oxygen-infused grandpas while laying in a hospital bed or lost and confused polish immigrants that don't know any english.) But yeah: support Africa.

The very next night, SNFU was playing it's annual reunion show. This was my first time seeing Chi Pig do what he was doing 20+ years ago. All in all: Pretty Effing Impressive. To be a grungy, hairy, bum-like guy living in East Van and coming back to his hometown to put on a show like that was truly incredible on his part. The old guys body slamming and moshing for the 80 minute set was also pretty interesting to see. Even with none of the other original band members on the stage, the vocals and spirit offered by this epic hardcore hero all this time later made this one of the most memorable shows that I will likely ever see.

The other thing that I couldn't help feel was like a big nasty hypocrite. Here I am, a future professional engineer wearing my button shirt and dress slacks to the McDougall United Church with a stuffy upper-class population only meters away from the Misery Signals show that I have previously gotten totally effed up at. Then the very next night, I would be seeing 40 and 50 year olds all tattied up, shaved heads, kids with metal through their nose and bloodied up brows. wtf. If I was in fact "true" to the "scene" like Chi and his comrades, would I really be at something like Memeza Africa? Would I really be buying Justin Rutledge cd's???

I guess so. Because 2 days later I was back at it. NOFX was in Edmonton. Finally. I've never seen them anywhere but warped tour, so this was kind of a big deal. Once again, I changed out of my collared shirt from after applying for engg jobs all day, and slapped on my new SNFU shirt and some worn out jeans. Again the kids at the show ranged in ages from 3 to 53. There were "real" punks there and a hell of a lot of poseurs (as Fat Mike himself pointed out). This set pretty much was the best set ever. I knew all the songs, I felt at home. So much for that Justin Rutledge character.

So it's been a pretty exciting few weeks. In addition to some hella good shows, I managed to reserve my place for Virgin Fest. I am still counting on a few people making the trip down there with me, but what happens happens. I also have semi-plans for may long weekend, which is a change, and I have a job (thank god for that!). My Craig Ferguson ticket's been bought. That show's almost sold out too. Now I just have to decide if I want to buy the new Portishead or Millencolin album then all of the problems in the world will be solved.