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Refuge for the rational.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Someone Has a Jealous Streak 

We were in a desolate land of muddy hills and gravel paths. There were large unfinished houses in the distance, but no sign of the people building them. I don’t remember what we were looking for—a house or a person or something we’d lost on our drive—and I don’t remember where we were going, but we drove an orange hatch-back that was full to the brim with junk that I had wanted to pull over and go through and organize but Kelly said we didn’t have time. Papers and boxes and pieces of clothing, mixed together like oatmeal cookie dough, and I remember being very worried about the papers being wrinkled or torn and crushed, which they probably were. We started walking, while looking for whatever it was we were looking for, but the car always seemed to be parked off to the side of the path no matter where we went. It was very convenient. We came over a mud hill and upon a round concrete picnic table where there was a group of people talking. I focused on one of the people in the group as he focused on me, some aroused form of consciousness creeping into his face as our eyes mingled in an erotic dance. And I knew who he was because I’d seen him before. Beck. Incubus.

As is common in dreams, nothing was said and everyone who was present understood what we were to each other. I gladly took his hand and walked with him through the mud town and the people around stopped and said things like, “Look! There they are” and we had really hot and wild sex in public places where there was a high chance of us getting caught. And we became partners in crime and went everywhere together. And he adored me; I could tell by the way he looked at me and always held me close to him with such tenderness.

And then one day I was out with Kelly. And we came upon the orange hatchback, which was full of papers that had photocopies of Beck’s album covers on them—ripped albums. I had to hide the evidence before he found out, and I had to jet over to the nearest record store and buy all of his albums so that he would know that I had them all, because sooner or later he was going to check. We were pulling the paper out of the car and tearing the sheets into tiny fragments, but it was no use. No matter how much paper we destroyed, there was always more. The car just kept coming up with more places to hide it and more ways of reproducing it. That’s when one of Beck’s friends came along. He picked up one of the sheets of paper and looked at me with disdain. And, as is also common in dreams, by virtue of his friend having knowledge of the situation, Beck did as well.
“Where is he?” I asked, desperately wanting to see him, to explain to him my circumstances.
“He doesn’t want to see you. He’s very hurt.”
Oh, no. Poor Beck, I broke his heart. I was very upset and I felt like my world was crashing in on top of me. And I woke up yearning for him and wondering where he was.

And if I learned anything from that dream I had about my High School English teacher, it’s that my relationship with Beck is never going to be the same. I tried to listen to him and I just sat there all hot and bothered and giggling. Every time I heard his voice, it sent shivers up my spine as I remembered his subtle touch and his adoring yet erotic grin. And I’ve developed a significant crush on him, despite the fact that it had never occurred to me to do so before he tricked me into it. Damn you Beck, you sexy beast.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I Hate the Hi-Fi Club 

Part One: The Slow and Tragic Coercion

hi-fi [hi(gh) + fi(delity).] n.
Extremely high-quality sound reproduction with minimal distortion, achieved with electronic equipment (hyphenated when used before a noun)

Here’s a stupid question: Isn’t the whole point of indie music, the whole attraction to indie music, the fact that it’s supposed to differ from the formulaic and mass produced cultural dictatorship that is the mainstream media and record labels? Are my expectations completely misplaced when I anticipate something somewhat, you know, GOOD?

Well, let me tell you a little secret. It’s all just a big fat lie. There is nothing good about most indie music, and in fact, most of the people associated with it need just as much attention as the AC/DC chicks who take off their shirts and shake their tits on bar-room tables. Only, these are creative people, so naturally, they have to find another way of being boring, predictable and just plain pathetic—a way that to the undiscerning eye might even (fingers crossed) make you think they’re a lot cooler than you.

There has been a trend towards crap in indie music as of late. In fact, did you know that an overwhelming majority of the “popular” indie bands were begotten through the incestuous union of shite and crap? It’s a fact. I won’t go into specifics and identify the bad band that I so desperately want to dig into. There are three reasons for this:

  1. I don’t want people to go searching for them to confirm or disprove my judgement on them, thus giving them even more traffic than they deserve.
  2. Despite their uninspiring musical ability and their association with the scenesters, the individuals in this band are examples of exceptions to the rule; they are far more real than their trendie-friendie counterparts.
  3. Flappy mouths.

I will say this though, a couple of chords thrown haphazardly together, banged out to the accompaniment of bad lyrics and off-pitch whiny vocals on what might as well be a toy piano, and a hyper-cute and hyper-sexed lead singer whose best moments are supplying witticisms between songs does not constitute any kind of meaningful or lasting art. That doesn’t really matter; these bands have managed, by their mere charm and more importantly, personal connections, to rise to the top of the food chain in this sad excuse for a city. Our setting is an oil city, a desert for anything but suburban sprawl, consumerism, and an innate acceptance of all these things—opportunity enough for a rich underground counter-culture of ideas, music, and art. You know, just for posterity. But, I like to compare the realisation of this opportunity to the sound of a deflating balloon, which coincidently, is the same sound that comes out of the trendy advocates of it: “PUHFFTHTHTHTHTTTTT…” Say it with me now—it’s quite fun. A word comes to mind as well: Impotence. Lacking girth. Not for posterity. Several inches short of joy. Flaccid.

The opening of the Hi-Fi club comes one year after the hockey play-offs. Thankfully, we have not had to sit through another shit show like last year, though our weekend home away from homes have been coveted by the hockey-sheep and there isn’t a day you walk down the strip and don’t run into someone who looks like they just time-ported it over from Miami Beach. To reiterate: the perfect situation for a significant cultural opposition.

So, you would think that the Hi-Fi Club, an arena to the indie scene, would be filled with people with ideas, and originality, and things to say. But alas, it would appear that I am going to be condemned to my apartment balcony with a bottle of wine for an undetermined period of time. This is because I made a trek out to the Hi-Fi Club the other night and was inexorably disappointed. Not by the club itself—I think the club has real potential, but once again: “PUHFFTHTHTHTHTTTTT…”

The reason for this is simple. Any religion, or in this case cult, teaches us that the church is not the building but the people inside of it; a cult is only so good as its people. Here is where the Hi-Fi Club runs violently astray.

Part Two: You Can’t See the Wood for the Trees on Your Knees

There is a line to get in when we arrive. I admit surprise, since I’ve never had to wait in line at the other live venue in town, but it’s not cold out, so I’m not bothered. We may miss the opening band, but we have only come to see them out of situational association and not in anticipation of good music. Three more girls arrive, these ones with the steely look of determination and Ben Sherman button-ups. They make for the door, even when the awkward girl in front of us points out that we are in fact, a line up. She is ignored of course, and I recognize the silencing look as one that I’ve been forced into getting worked up over many times. This pisses me off. I mentally console myself even as I have a sinking suspicion that it might be one of those places and one of those nights. Whatever that means.

The girl exits, looking rather annoyed and she and her two friends consign themselves to standing behind us, bitching about how they’re missing the band and the bouncer won’t even let them in to look for someone.

Almost out of nowhere, twenty or so people scatteredly begin to arrive, each group ignoring the line-up and walking straight in, but this isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is that despite their disrelation, or at the most casual association, with each other, they are all wearing varying degrees of the same outfit. This is fascinating to me; I don’t think I’ve seen such an intense concentration of scensters in one place, without the dilution of ‘others’ in quite some time. There is an overwhelming prevalence of thick-rimmed glasses, ties and thrift store sweaters (which were actually purchased at Purr for well over $100). And don’t forget the beret—the must have for EVERY trendy generation. (Please support the beret; its prevalence is being threatened daily with the sudden ascendancy of the Castro Hat.) Oh, and don’t forget the self-important blather. Someone behind us starts talking about school.
“Yeah, I went to ACAD, but I don’t really make art anymore. I don’t know, I just think I’ve moved beyond a lot of that.”
ACAD is the local arts school. I certainly am not one to judge the program, since I have never attended a class there, nor have I had any discussions with any of the instructors. If the art produced by its graduates at the year-end art show or the self-aggrandizing students are to be any representation of its academic merits, ACAD is the equivalent of getting your degree and then hanging out at the Hi-Fi Club and telling people you went there. Yeah, but you don’t make art anymore. Yeah, you’ve totally moved beyond ART.

Every person who enters the building without even considering that the line-up may apply to them gets me more and more worked up. A girl with an updated Pat Benatar haircut searches the line desperately for a lighter and upon retrieving one, returns to the hollowed out demeanour of a china doll without so much as a thank-you. A few people are admitted into the bar…errr…sorry, club, because they are apparently “with the band”. It strikes me as strange that the people on the guest list would be arriving to a show that was already in progress. I make another snide comment about how “apparently all you need to get in is a tie and some nice Value Village attire”. The girl in front of me laughs. I have a fear creeping into me. The warmth of the adrenaline is beginning to make my hands sweat and my tounge grow sharp. I’m about ten seconds from saying something especially nasty or vomiting. This is not good. I promised myself when the first three girls arrived that I wasn’t going to react in this way and now I’m already beginning to sweat and frown. Suddenly, another Pat Benatar girl swoops through the line with an “exCUSE me”, which I can’t help but view as uncalled for. A few moments later she opens the door and yells at her friends “K is really awesome tonight”. The tone in her voice and the fact that her friends barely listen to her makes me believe that this was an advertisement that was more for my sake than theirs. Surely if she tattooed “I’m with the band” on her forehead, she wouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of drawing people’s attention to it, thereby, in her mind, assuring them of her supreme coolness. There is something in her eyes and I realise that without that grotesque loathsome look of desperation and disrespect that is so permanently etched into her face, she would be quite beautiful. She pops back in and then out again moments later to announce “You guys…WE don’t have to wait in line”. The mechanical excitement became so rampant you would think someone had thrown a tofu cheese slice at the flock. She reiterates this more than once, again, more for the benefit of the people in line than the people at whom she directs it.

At this point I’m confused about what exactly “maximum capacity” means, and reflect with some confusion that anytime I’ve been “with the band” the guest list has allotted one person per band member, not five. Despite the nauseous feeling and the swell of complete repulsion, I hold my tongue this time and simply suggest that this is gearing up to be a shitty evening and we should hit the road before I hit someone. We walk away and my anger dissipates. I congratulate myself for my comparatively good behaviour. Those trendies always get me so worked up.

That evening has not discouraged me from going back to the Hi-Fi Club. It’s great material. It’s also great practice in not being so reactive, in doing what I should be doing when I’m around these people: laughing. Plus, despite the sometimes crappy music and the all times crappy people, this is my culture too. And I’m proposing that those of you who feel the same way take it back. The Anti-trend. Kind of like the anti-hero—the protagonist who lacks the predictability and socially accepted qualities of the protagonist. So join me at the Hi-Fi Club. The next time you encounter one of these trendies basking in their utter desperation, behaving like complete and total wankers, congratulate them. That’s right, clap your hands together, bend down to make eye contact and pretend you’re talking to a puppy who has just taken his first shit in the right place—“You’re so cool! Yes you are, so stop worrying! That’s such a good boy! You’re such a good boy…yes you are!” ETC. Remember, their grandiosity is based entirely on fear, so it’s not like they’ll actually do something about it.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Dear Righteous Left,
You Are So Cool. 

It’s really a toss-up. I mean, either you end up toting around a plastic Hello Kitty purse and going to dance clubs on the weekend or you take on left-wing causes and a strong love of indie bands. It’s really the same thing isn’t it?

I’m not talking about all of us. I’m talking about the girl who thought she was so hip. She thought she had it all because she went to a show and bought a CD that other people told her to like and thought it was ok because most people had never heard of them before. But, they weren’t all that good; they were trendy the way Rage Against the Machine is trendy to kids who want to pretend to have political convictions. And I offered her a deal on the opening band’s CD as well. And I was greeted with what was probably the most supercilious look I have ever received. Not that I’ve never received that look before, I have received it many times.

I always receive it from people like the girl who thought she was so hip. Do you know these people? So you can agree then–it really is a coin toss. Either you go to art school and feel self-important about not being a part of the mainstream or you go to business school and try to take over the world. With convictions such as these, why should the mainstream and the right-wing take us at all seriously—they shouldn’t. Why are you so suspicious? Is this not why the righteous right seems like the majority right now? Of course! Because you are far too busy shunning people and feeling superior and petting your self-important egos within your tiny little cliques that you fail to see we would get a whole lot more done if we were to band together.

I’ve read a lot of blogs by people who think they’re so hip. They are always in attack mode—flippant and saintly because they ride a bike everywhere and recycle. They make me angry because people like these like to try and make you feel so trivial, even if you’re on the same side; alienating people is important when you’re trying to make a difference. I certainly wasn’t going to hang out with the jocks in high school, I have nothing in common with them, but hanging out with the outcasts meant passing a fucking quiz first. What was Kurt Cobain’s middle name? Well, jesus…I think that falls under the who the fuck cares category. There was a guy named Leo that had this crush on me in the tenth grade. We had a class together and would goof off in the back and get yelled at by the teacher. Then, the next year, Leo started organizing charity shows with local bands and dying his hair blue and wearing Green Party stickers all over his bag and that was when Leo started giving me the look. I said “hi” to him one day, but Leo was no fun anymore.

And you think that ends when you leave school, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t even end after university.

I just moved, so I needed to find a job in the area. I walked into a record store yesterday—all I asked was whether or not they were hiring, so I couldn’t quite figure out what I had done to piss off Mr. past-his-prime-and-obviously-not-getting-laid. His face made me reminisce about the girl who thought she was so hip. I almost thought I saw a “we don’t hire girls” coming. Funny how getting pegged into a category makes it all the more easier to shove the judge into one. I figure he collects rare vinyl, reads art magazines and is one of those people who gives ugly people a lot of credit because they obviously must be more intelligent than good-looking people. See? It’s that easy.

I shook it off and wandered into a used bookstore. I don’t know why I am the world’s biggest attitude magnet, but I am. This time, it was Mr. oversized-sweater-(and it’s like…hot out)-past-his-prime-tortured-writer, and he clearly thought it was funny that a person who probably couldn’t read would dare apply for a job in his store. The humanity. I got tired, went home and proceeded to unpack several boxes of books.

And then there’s Ana. We had a mutual friend way back when. I used to try so hard to have camaraderie of some description with her, because of the mutual friend, but she would never have it. She was a journalism student and she and my friend were into music that I wasn’t so big on. And she thought she was so hip. But, my friend’s love of Ana and hatred of Radiohead didn’t keep she and I from becoming what I suppose people call Best Friends. And then she left town and I haven’t spoken to her in several years. I don’t fully understand why, I just assume that we were probably just filling a niche at the time, a niche that went away for one or both of us. Now, though, I feel like the niche needs filling again. Minus Ana. Minus snobbery and superiority complexes wrought from identity crises.

The problem is, like I said before, I’m a magnet for attitude. I don’t suppose it’s so much to ask that I meet a single person who doesn’t warp into conflict mode the moment I speak to them; who I can cause mischief with and drink bottles of wine with in the park late at night when I can’t sleep; who I can be both stupid and serious with; who understands what I’m saying without explanation; who can read my looks; who shares my taste in things and knows that that matters. It pains me to admit it, but it’s getting kind of lonely over here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

You Won’t Hear Me Say This Often: Penntastic. 

That’s because I have recently had a strong dislike of Sean Penn. Apparently, Penn hated this role, hated this movie even -- at least, this is what I've heard. I guess he’s more into the tough guy posturing of Mystic River (I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this movie was a big piece of over-glorified crapola). Unfortunately for him, it just so happens that he’s quite good at playing the pathetic and all-too-human roles that this and Hurly Burly afforded him. Thank god -- I thought my distaste might be permanent.

If you haven't already, go see this movie.

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