August 24, 2009

Who Sold Out Now?

Ch 24.

I have been enjoying various degrees of punk rock for about 10 years now. And over this time, I really saw a ton of changes to the scene - a scene that had supposedly been dead for 20 years. I saw Greenday "evolve", the Offspring ... turn old. I saw Rise Against fall within radio-friendly territory, and Jim Lindberg from Pennywise yell @ a complacent, lazy group of Calgarians to get off their lazy stoner asses @ warped tour and to start moving, and recently announce his retirement from the band. I've seen AFI go from "east bay hardcore" to "emo artsy vegans" and Poison the Well - not change at all. Gob's done its best to keep Canadian pop punk alive, just as SNFU and DOA has done amazing at keeping the old school 80s scene alive through constant touring and shows. The hardcore scene was tangibly kept alive by a recent North American tour that had a selection of 10 bands play shows for "the scene" for $10, although only about 3 or 4 out of the 10 bands were "famous" in the underground world of hardcore.

So with the many types of punk shows I have seen over the past 10 years, the fact remains: a lot have seriously sold out. You may find it difficult to blame these guys who invest soo much into their music and really hardly reap any rewards. But a band with a name like "Rise Against" - well gee, I guess I just expected more from the Chicago foursome from a philosophical perspective. Their music is and was great. But the songs definately changed. Songs like "Halfway There" and "Alive and Well" are a far cry from any of the ballads that you would hear on their most recent radio releases, and the band's name is simply just too anti-establishment tor them to ever become as successful as they have. To me, the words "rise against" stated as generally as that would mean first and foremost: "count me out from media control" and "the system doesn't work so leave me out of it". This is not how the band proceeded, despite the many PETA flyers available at most of their shows.

But that's nothing compared to that mascara-wearing goth-like macho-man, M Shadows. Avenged Sevenfold's arrogance, I think, made them go from one of the most promising hardcore acts of the 21st Century to one of the biggest let downs to those really living their lives in the shadows. Too much fame, way too fast. A7X is like the Disney product Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, where too much investment and expectations from too young an age (released 1st album when they were in highschool) had completely spoiled the band. (But 2 great albums, nevertheless) (And the bat skull is pretty cool too).

Similar fad bands got popular real quick, taking this tough-guy hardcore approach to their music, only to be losing every aspect of that persona only a short time later. Atreyu - what the hell happened? Did I hear you on sonic about a year ago??? My Chemical Romance wasn't ever as tough, but they definitely road the coattails of similar bands that had money being poured into their marketing, resulting in more and more radio-friendly hits. MCR became the epitome of sellout with their sadistic death-cult, pop-friendly made-for-radio hits. Maybe they took some tips off of Billie Joe Armstrong when they toured with Green Day (black eyeliner and a hair stylist on the tour bus)... If you are unfamiliar with punk music but have ever heard "Drag Me Down" and "Paralyzer" by Finger 11, released maybe 8 years later, you will know exactly what I am talking about with respect to how a band can go from passionate and cutting edge to formulaic and dull.

The respectable thing to do when your band is getting bored of reproducing the same ol' shit is to quit and try to re-invent yourself in a new light. Tsunami Bomb, Good Riddance, Satanic Surfers, and Minor Threat are the first few that come to mind where members of the band have gone to extensive lengths to see if The Action Design, Only Crime, Enemy Alliance, and Fugazi (respectively) can do well. If ending the band is out of the question, and artsy "expansion" or creating "concept albums" or "progressive musicianship" is what you want to be recognized for, chances are, you really are more of a capitalist bastard than a lover of music and art. Otherwise you'd do what the bands I mentioned did and not fear losing your name. and any previous success attached to it. "Happiness in America equals dollar signs", this is true after all.

Death By Stereo. They put on endless free shows in southern California but sell everything imaginable to make money. Their products include (but certainly aren't limited to) key chains and condoms, belt buckles and thongs, stickers and skate decks. I purchased a $5 wrist band and a ball cap in 2005, but there was 1 dollar beer in the parking lot of the daycare/community hall that they played at - for a 12 dollar show. I think that dbs represents the socal scene, for all of its best and its worst, and I think that the band would seriously benefit from spending some time in Canada, or maybe NYC. Just get out of Orange County. (I get to pick up their newest album from HMV on Friday for $12.99!)

H20, Propagandhi, Bad Religion are continuing to keep it smart. They don't over-indulge. And when they do produce and perform it is always worth the wait. Guttermouth's singer Mark Adkins is a shameless, but sarcastic capitalist, who, I think "cares" more than he lets on. Mark Unseen obviously cares, and has been showing it since he started singing for the band in 2003.

The Unseen may be take the name of one of its members, but it is not named for that member. To me, those self-titled artists were always easy to dislike. They were never in punk (AWK, maybe), as that would come across as a less egalitarian way of distributing the success or sharing the blame. I think Matthew Good was the 1st one I was aware about who even went as far to "lose" his band. (MGB became just Matthew Good). The arrogance involved to name 3 or more people making music after yourself always bewildered me. Henry Rollins rocked his way out of Black Flag and went on to "spoken word tours" at venues like the Winspear - but nevertheless, he must be credited for a lot of his DIY work in the 80s. It's just my opinion that Jello Biafra did the same thing, but better, as he took leave from the Dead Kennedys. BUT NOW THAT I AM OLDER, I am actually okay with bands named after the singer! Artists with unique styles like Jeremy Fisher, Justin Rutledge, Jill Barber, Luke Doucet, Melissa McLelland, or Elliott Brood are simply taking credit for their incredible musicianship - say, a 6 string guitar - and amazing singing voice. With that, they offer up very enjoyable entertainment and seek no excessive monetary rewards - it's usually more about the music with these "folk" musicians than anything. They realize their odds of becoming a Bryan Adams, Sarah McLaughlin, Neil Young, Shania, or Celine are just as good as your odds are at making the NHL or becoming a neurosurgeon. But something tells me the Jim Lindberg Experience wouldn't have taken off nearly as well as a band named after the psycho killer clown created by Stephen King.

Check one, two
The plow that broke the plains
We as humans destroy everything,
Well, there's limits to the land
Left the resistance and the monkey wrenchin' cause money rules again
Life is easier when your bills are paid,
You finished studies,
Masters degree
Now consulting development companies,
Who sold out now?
Who sold out now?

Sixteen years old and live at home
In front your friends calling out at shows,
You left the scene cause your new girlfriend told you so,
Freaked out on X at some rave or techno,
Money rules again
Distro circus at every show,
I came to support these tourin' bands and nothing's free,
Pay my ticket at the door,
Who sold out now?
Who sold out now?

Constant complaining makes my ears ring
I care about hardcore but I hate the scene

The plow that broke the plains
We as humans abuse every way,
There's limits to me, friend
What happened to the brotherhood we shared,
Well, money rules again
I'll give you anything if you just ask,
Hung yourself from your own rope
I count my loss and just walk away,
Who sold out now?
Who sold out now? (3x)


August 18, 2009

Grind, Baby, Grind!

grind, baby, grind.

Last night there was a party. I don't remember much about it. All I remember is that there were a lot of things flowing, least of which was alcohol. Grossed out yet? It gets worse. Or better. Depending on which way you like to play.


Alright, well maybe we'll not even go there. But maybe I can still pump my point across to you without being exceptionally distasteful. (Maybe I can't!) Today's problem (most days have problems) lies in the matter of fact that people are shameless. I am a person. Therefore I am shameless. The difference being that I realize this, and I know where to draw the line so as to not become shameful.

Check that. I am ashamed about many things, but most of these dastardly deeds are things that likely do more harm to myself than any other person. And really, in the whole scheme of things, I like to tell myself that I am really not that bad of a person - most of the time. It's true that I have some bad ideas involving you & me, but more likely than not, my conservative/restrained upbringing will shine through and I will behave.

but something that feels this damn' good couldn't be all that bad... could it?

Sex is all around us. There's just no escaping it. After all, each of our god's want us all to pro-create so that we can perpetuate these civilizations that are filled with soo much happiness and peace. So even despite Chinese population control ideas, philosophies on freedom an individual rights, and problems associated with a population explosion, sex still dominates.

But the way it's done kinda disgusts me. If you've ever picked up a copy of Vue Weekly of SEE magazine and peaked at any of the articles/ads in the last few pages, you shouldn't be shocked to be reading about some freaky new problem/product/service that a person is buying, selling, or trying to heal. But besides the obvious things like media-produced sex in music, television, or the internet, one of the most unsettling things to ever see is a friend or acquaintance getting it on to any various degree: A. in person, B. in their facebook pictures, C. when they are already in a relationship, and D. with a little sister. People are FREAKY! (Thank God!/Get A Room!) I hardly even know how to react to some of the stuff I seen/have done myself over the years. All I know is that it can be some of the most incredibly good or bad times a person will have on their time on earth, depending on each situation. And you freaks out there (I may or may not include myself in this group), please, please, just do what you can to stay away from people in relationships, and your buddy's little sister. Especially if you do not have the self-control to keep your sexy ways off of facebook. ESPECIALLY if your freaky ways out-do the less freaky ways of most other people.


$5.75 a bottle? You must be kidding me. But with the promise of forty ounces to freedom, sometimes it just must be worth the price, eh? Next thing you know it, you are watching your friend from school or work grinding down on some random guy on the dance floor with techno beats blaring in the background. You feel sorry for her boyfriend/fiance or whatever, who's working out of town, but you also feel kinda like you should be the one that this girl should be "dancing" with - but only if you were a little more wasted... The saddest part of this is that you are in fact much to sober to forget about her and everything you are seeing and just go home to sleep to forget about it, but just a little too drunk to start crying over the whole unfortunate situation. The remedy? Have one more drink and take the next girl home.

Alcohol serves as an ultimate tool for any public situation: it's an excuse for an easy hook-up, a defense for acting like a total ass, a reason to be belligerent and piss on cars in parking lots (I guess this falls under "total ass"). It allows you to get away with being a total pervert or a total slut. And in the end, we have a real mess. We have 2 drunken slobs mildly attracted to eachother, fucking. I want to buy her a glass of merlot or shiraz sooo bad right now!


More likely than not, this blog would not even had been published if I had a few more pictures of an incredibly beautiful girl like my ex with her tongue pressed up against my neck, circling the internet. But at the same time, that stuff really isn't all that appropriate for anyone now is it? I mean, amateur porn has to start somewhere after all, right? And that stuff can spiral out of control like nobody's business. So out of this bitter jelousy, I support the idea of keeping it in the bedroom (or behind closed doors, at least!) Cameras are everywhere nowadays anyways, and as a result, "sex" has become mainstream, sort of like tattoos - everyone has one, and everyone likes to show it off! So really - when I do find that 1 person who is 'in' to videography, that tape shall forever remain in a safety deposit box. Unless the price is right.


Money buys sex. This is the most horrible side of things. The 2008 Liam Neeson movie, "Taken" shows the darkest side of this. It goes a little beyond buying her that glass of wine. It shows how the most rich & powerful people in the world can exploit young women. It is really a sickening reality. And whenever you hear about good times in Thailand, for example, you think "whuh-ohh, red-flag"!
CBC aired this report last weekend. It is somewhat disturbing but nothing I haven't already heard of.

in conclusion.

Steve Carrell did a great job of depicting a man who lived is whole youth without getting any action in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Although this story may be a bit far-fetched, the premise is still very reasonable, as to how a guy could really handle things differently in a sex-crazed world. Both sexes are to blame, even though the CBC report above seems to take a different stance. Both sexes deserve the right to free themselves from this atrocity called life with alcohol, and until we start realizing the value in money & how it might be used to make ourselves feel better by creating a better world, we will continue to buy ourselves a ticket into getting laid - that ultimate ticket to a temporary escape. We will feel the shame, until we get sooo predispositioned that this is in fact normal behaviour. Then negative feedback cycles will then just compound the problem. And this includes our exposure to others "at it", which in effect creates various degrees of jelousy. Tolerance, restraint, shame, and respect are the most important concepts that we need to really appreciate if we want to get away from a sex-crazed world, where even a dance floor can turn into something...wet.

This was chapter 21. Let me go buy you a drink.

August 12, 2009

The Folk Fest Experience

Alright, I am going to do my best to keep this brief. There was one hell of a lot stuff going on leading up to, and right throughout the folk festival weekend. 90% of which was pretty gosh darn' fun. 5% was pretty indescribably brutal, and the final 5% was just sooo amazing that I can't even begin to describe it.

So what the heck made it so fun, you ask?? I'll tell you what made it one of the best festival experiences ever! A girl named Janet. She's actually a friend of mine's little sister. But the time spent with her was truly fantastic. This girl? She has it all: the looks, the brains, a superb taste in music...

Alright Janet, now that I have you and your sister completely freaked out, please know that I am just kidding. Although, it was a lot of fun drinking with you and seeing you again!

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS though, the festival was great, the company was better. I was exposed to a whole new realm of music that I typically had avoided for most of my days, thinking that it was all "old hippie stoner crap". How wrong was I?!?! The diversity and insane talents between all the acts I saw made this one of the best musical experiences ever. And it was all for free.

Yep, free. The volunteering through 4 frigid (10°C) wet night shifts "securing" the area with Lawrence and Lenore from any delinquents that might want to steal stuff from the hill was quite the price to pay to get in to watch the entire festival for free. But only for one night we had to leave watching Boz Skaggs early, since we had to start gearing up with walkie talkies and flashlights and about 3 or 4... or 5 layers of clothing.

The other nights were all pretty great. It all started off pretty huge with Tracy Chapman and Sarah MacLaughlin. Both were amazing.Some of Sarah's songs have significant meaning to me, as I am sure they do to you too (even if it's from watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Tracy Chapman has such a powerful sound that you just can't help to stare at the screen with your jaw hanging open, completely impressed.

We motored home with 1 night down, 4 more to go. The Thursday was the night we showed up late and ended up missing Steve Earle and only watching about an hour of Boz Scaggs while sitting on a blanket waaay up on the hill before having to volunteer. But Friday was probably the ultimate complete day, where we did everything from watching Neko Case, the Wailers, and Raul Malo on the mainstage, to watching my first ever Loudon Wainwright III concert on one of the smaller stages, to going out to party with the musicians at their hotel early into the morning!! Neko Case was hilarious on stage. Her music was really soothing. Raul Malo got us all dancing, and the Wailers be Jammin' Mon, on the stage on the hill and back at the hotel.

Saturday morning was good. We got back to the hill in pretty good time, but missed the 1st Loudon Wainwright III session. As a result, we crashed most of the afternoon at one stage and chilled to sessions with the Great Lake Swimmers, Kimmie Rhodes, Lynn Miles, David Francey & Dave Swarbick, Danny Michel (soo good), Jill Barber (a really sweet girl/voice - she introduced herself to me and Janet in a shuttle bus the day before), Fred Eaglesmith (a bit of a douchebag), and the last Loudon set.

Time for beer. I met up with Janet and drank as much as I could as fast as I can, then headed out with Janet and listened to Alex Cuba. He sang a song about Janet's big sister. It was kinda weird! Maybe just because I was sooo loaded. The people in the beer gardens we were drinking with liked to call themselves engineers, even though they weren't. I hate it when people do that. But Alex Cuba was great. I definitely recommend you checking out

Saturday night kicked my ass. Patti Griffin, Iron & Wine, and Rodney Crowell were all so unique in their own ways. By the end of Rodney Crowell, the dust bowl we were in was starting to get pretty ridiculous. So for a change of pace, we went for a walk. A long walk. An amazing walk. Allll through the river valley. We wound our way up & down hills, through trees and bushes and stumps and eventually found our way back out to civilization. It was really a great time. And we still had 1 day left.

Sunday was an interesting day. I spent most of it alone. In that respect, it was lousy since we were doing pretty good together for the 1st 4 days or whatever. I guess she decided I could figure out this "folk" music by myself by Day 5. And I did. I found my way to some really amazing concerts and sessions. The Chinese throat singers "Hanggai" was unforgettable, especially when fused with "Cherryholmes". I caught some more Jill Barber, a thorough GLS concert, Hot Tuna banjo music, Chumbawamba, Slaid Cleaves (yodelling), Souljah Fyah, and Chloe Albert. Her set was dreamy. Or else, I was just so tired that I found myself drifting in & out of sleep, soaking up sunshine and sweet music. The other musical highlight of Sunday was watching the CKUA (94.9fm) stage, where I saw Danny Michel, Bela Fleck, and Alex Cuba get interviewed and play their songs. Into the evening, the dust was getting into my nose and it was getting hard to breathe. I could have really used another one of those forest walks, actually, but I suffered through. The main stage acts on Sunday were Steven Page, Bela Fleck, and Toumani Diabate. The other nights were definitely better though.

The People.
Linda Duncan was there at least one night. As was Dr. Craik, and a whole crapload of the old EPCOR crew. I also saw a bunch of "enlightened engineers" - those kids with liberal tendencies, I guess, and were involved with Engineers Without Borders at some point or another. Steve, Jess, Andy, Maggie, Andrea, Mark, are only a few of the people that come to me at the top of my head. Allan, from my 1st "engineering job" was there, and he used to call me a "dumb young punk that should go to folk fest" instead of those other kind of shows. As I mentioned, it was fun hanging out with Janet again, although I am pretty certain she owes me a beer or 2 or equivalent... But ultimately, I am so grateful for us to volunteer those 4 cold nights together and hang out Wednesday through Saturday. It was one hell of an extended weekend. And for the first time ever, I didn't even miss warped tour in calgary one bit. Maybe this means I'm growing up?!

Back to real life.

August 1, 2009

I Won't See You Again Tonight, Pt. 7?

Hide. You know you will. Behind those big dark sunglasses you will remain. Nothing, nobody penetrating inward. But the power in those beautiful eyes to conquer and destroy, build and bless --- if they ever come off.

You are up to your neck in everything that makes you so appealing. so sexy. No room for anything else. Saturated and spent. Exhausted yet exhilarated! Living a life that is much to be desired. And shared only with the people in your life that you know that you will always be able to count on. And me? Barely breathing. But still alive! You induce vitality. That is probably why I like being around you so much. You make me feel alive. Who even needs breathing when you feel this alive?!?!

And you will be successful. You will be amazing. Even more than you are now. And you will leave the rest of us all feeling really, really, stupid. But proud to have known you. I feel stupid already. Mostly for feeling like this way about you. Why do any of us do this to ourselves? I suppose it has something to do with you just being so unbelievably breath-taking. Maybe I should really try and remember to breathe...

So consider this. There will come a day when it will be the last day we ever see each other again.

And you will become more perfect as I watch from a little ways back, as those big black sunglasses get dropped - but only for a minute and only from such a distance that that one special person will be able to have those beautiful blue eyes pierce his with full focus.

Or else you will be in my arms and we will be old. Where you dropped those sunglasses years ago and it was only you and me in this world. My eyes forever locked in yours and yours in mine. Those eyes that destroyed me and built me up making me stronger, strongest. Eternal strength.

I only hope that if you ever do look my way into the shadows, in hopes of getting some shade from your sun-filled path, I just don't blink.

So maybe I won't see you tonight. Not in the way I want to see you. Not from the other side of those blinders you sport so fashionably. And maybe you won't see me. But I will be here, waiting. On the bench on the hill, when the sun goes down, when the shades really should be coming off after all...