Saturday, March 29, 2003

Maybe tomorrow
Pretty much nothing notable going on today. Pfft. I've basically been doing nothing worth mentioning. My mind is like a void, but that's how it is. Today was a loss. I haven't gotten much done these days.

Current Mood: dispassionate

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Some strange happenings at the Guggenheim Museum next week: blast beats, blimps, sidecars, and the Isle of Man TT. These are a few of my favourite things. I recall Jones writing something about this, but I can't find it in her archive.
King Crimson 23/03/03
I knew I was in for it as soon as I joined the lineup to get into the Commodore. A guy in green rugby pants was getting way too excited, actually vibrating as he made a prog-related point to someone beside him. When I heard the word “clinical” I knew I had already heard too much. Commodore staffers patrolled the lineup, telling us that the band wanted no smoking, no recording, and no photographs. No problem. I would have preferred “thanks for coming!” but never mind.

Up the stairs, through the mandatory bloody coat check, and we were in. Lots of people there already—fancy people, hippies, nerds, kids in Rage Against the Machine hoodies. It looked like all seats were taken, so we hung out on the floor by the mixing desk. I think Smash remarked that he enjoyed talking and people watching more than the average opening act. It’s true. Despite the coat check, despite the goons with headsets, despite the non-bouncy floor, I still like being inside the Commodore.

The lights went down and the onslaught began. I had to hang on to my beer glass for dear life. To my left, looking like a ’60s test pilot, Trey Gunn tapped his Warr guitar…sometimes two of them at once. At the back, a bearish and grimacing Pat Mastelotto smacked his drum kit. On stage right, obscured in blue light, Robert Fripp sat, played, and presided. And up front, looking like Martin Short’s impression of Pierre Trudeau, Adrian Belew tossed off freaky leads on his Stratocaster, sang and smiled a lot.

The set drew mostly from the new album, which I don’t own as yet. I didn’t recognize any songs until they played “ProzaKc Blues” from the ConstruKction of Light. They aired a handful of other numbers from that album during the evening. The tour for that album never came here, so it was good to finally hear those songs live. Some people tried to groove along to the polyrhythmic weirdness of KC, successfully for the most part. It’s not easy to do, but if you stay with the beat you’ll come back on the “one” eventually.

The concert wasn’t filled with “hits”—no “21st Century Schizoid Man” or “Indiscipline” or “Sleepless.” I heard an extremely delusional person yell out for “The Court of the Crimson King.” Towards the end they did play a couple toe-tappers in the form of the Beatles-esque “Dinosaur” and “Red” from the highly regarded Wetton/Fripp/Bruford years. After two encores, the house PA came on, but the crowd wouldn’t simmer down. The band eventually filed out again and played some kind of mutant blues number that may have been a work in progress.

I remember ACM’s comment about a Concrete Blonde show to the effect of “the audience seemed starved for this kind of thing.” I’ll apply it to Sunday’s show as well. I had the feeling that these weren’t people who normally went downtown on a Sunday night, but they came, they had fun, and they saw some great musicians play some great music. The band, I think, sensed that the audience were determined to wring maximum enjoyment from the event and responded in kind.

As for me, I’d had a day that varied between extreme fun (starting in the morning with the belter and continuing with Smash and various friends) and extreme dismay about the ugly state of the world. The whole evening steered me well away from the latter feeling for a few hours, so I’m grateful for that.

Friday, March 21, 2003

I hate to say it, but I’m feeling marginalized right now. I hate to say it because (a) “marginalized” is such a touchy-feely new-speak kind of word and (b) I can’t think of a better term.

How about two words: “pissed off”? Yeah, that’ll do. You see, on page 86 of this week’s Georgia Straight, there’s an ad for the Chevrolet Cavalier. It’s a huge ad, about 7/8 of the page. The main picture is a city bus coming towards us on a dark rainy day. The destination sign above the front windshield reads “CREEPS & WEIRDOS.” Below that there’s an inset with the tag line “Luckily, there’s an affordable alternative,” along with a picture of the four-wheeled piece of shit in question and the fine print which the dealer will use to anally violate you when you close the deal.

“Creeps and weirdos.” That’s who rides Vancouver buses. Not regular folks who just want to get to work. No, people on transit are all weirdos who don’t drive cars; they’re all creeps who like to sit next to strangers because it probably gets them off. People who use public transit in other cities must all be perverts too. The fast, efficient mass transit in Toronto, Montreal, London, and New York must exist merely to serve the retarded, the schizophrenic, the gropers, the droolers, the frottage enthusiasts, and the smelly. It’s a wonder anyone uses it.

In the bottom left-hand corner of the ad there’s a little 2010 Community Contributor insignia. I’m so glad to see that the Chevrolet/Oldsmobile Dealers of BC are presenting our world-class city in the best possible light. I bet the citizens of Salzburg think their buses are just fine.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

This one's for ACM: Space Ace, revisited and reconsidered.

I believe "Rip It Out" was the first song we ever performed in front of an audience.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

I’m looking forward to seeing King Crimson at the Commodore this weekend. I’m amused by the fact that I’m going with about five other people. How did that happen? I remember the days when I didn’t have anyone to go to shows with. I’d pass up bills like Metallica/Exodus/Metal Church at the New York Theatre because none of my friends liked what I liked. Eventually I got up the nerve to go to shows by myself, but it was never any fun. After walking out of a particularly depressing Pixies gig I decided the solo thing wasn’t for me, although I’ve had a couple relapses since then.

I've never had a problem with going to movies by myself. Once the lights go out, everyone's alone, I guess.

I’ve seen KC before, as well as gigs by related projects and personnel. Here are my predictions for the show:
1. Robert Fripp will play sitting down.
2. Someone will say that they found the concert boring because of this.
3. At various points I’ll have no idea which instrument is producing what sound.
4. I’ll get a good whiff of someone’s B.O.
5. A guy in a sheepskin vest will go bonkers when they play anything pre-’74.
6. I’ll overhear conversations about music that I’ve only had in my head before.
7. After the show lets out, we'll laugh nervously whenever it is mentioned again.
8. No lineup for the ladies’ room.

I wonder if I can grow an eggy beard (tm Glitzy Cape) in time for the gig?

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Every weekend needs at least one big, satisfying, stomach-walloping dinner. Last Saturday we hit the Windjammer for fish and chips. The place has it all—model ships and pictures of olde English villages hanging overhead, fish-shaped glass plates, beer, HNIC on the TV… I think I prefer the tea towels and seventies soccer posters theme of the Pennyfarthing (not to mention the Caffrey’s on tap), but sometimes you just wanna stay in the neighbourhood. When you’re done eating, you’ve only got a couple blocks to stagger home.

Note to Francophobic Americans: “chips” works better than “freedom fries.”

Monday, March 17, 2003

Concrete proof that the mullet thing is over. It's totally been co-opted by The Man.

This album earns a point for featuring "Black Betty," though. The belter and I tuned in to KISM while driving to the airport Friday night to pick up her mom, and we heard these exact same songs.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Cheers to Cy "Didn't know your name was Ciaran" Meeks for his letter in this week's Georgia Straight. The letter basically upbraids Mike Usinger and the Straight for their ignorant-yet-disdainful attitude towards metal. I'm glad the editors published it in the Letters section and not in Payback Time, which is the most worthless, mean-spirited 20 square inches of newsprint I've ever had the displeasure of compulsively reading week in, week out. So good going, Cy. I miss his letters in Metal Maniacs, so I'm glad he's still getting his licks in when he sees an opportunity. He's a Print Futures grad, you know.
The other night I listened to The Shadowthrone, the second album by Norwegian Grammy winners Satyricon. It’s really primitive, but it hasn’t aged that badly. It manages to take black metal’s penchant for “grimness of sound” and make it very listenable. The drums ring out naturally (though Frost’s playing has improved immeasurably since then) and the guitars have a nice buzz to them. A lot of the material sounds like the Storm album, a Satyricon side project where they added powerchords to a bunch of old Norse folk tunes. I think both albums were recorded around the same time, so it figures.

Where are they now? Like I said, they won a Norwegian Grammy for their last album and they’ve made a fancy video co-starring a naked booby lady and a snake—available for download on the Web site. I always thought Satyricon was a two-man project—just Satyr Wongraven and Frost—so I don’t know who all those other guys are (oh, the site says they’re Steinar Gundersen - Lead Guitar, Lars Norberg – Bass, and A.O Gronbech - Rhythm Guitar). The song, "Fuel For Hatred," is catchy as hell, so watch out. For black metal, it’s quite a toe tapper.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I’d say last weekend was pretty amusing. On Friday the belter and I went to the Pearls launch at Douglas College. The vibe was a little different this year because they moved it up to the fourth floor art gallery, where we had our portfolio show last April. I guess the highlight, aside from Calvin Wharton’s fine emceeing style, was when our man Adam Honsinger received the Maurice Hodgson Memorial Award for Creative Writing. He’d kept it a secret, the cad, so it was an excellent surprise.

Saturday, with the high-rollin’ belter down south, I went to Kevin’s birthday party in PoCo with Smash, Mai and Christian Scum (who I hadn’t seen in way too long). Wow, did they ever lay on a spread. We ate ourselves silly and had a nice relaxing time. I’ll confess I have two major regrets—that I didn’t go back for seconds and that I didn’t stay long enough for cake…I’m sure there must have been cake.

A quick blast across the Lower Mainland and we arrived in time for the second half of the Carl Fatman show, which was taping in the art gallery/party room at Super Robertson’s building. We caught most of the Motorcycle Man’s set, which consisted of the usual stream of babble interrupted by one-man heavy metal songlets. My best moment came when he spotted me during his audience poll of favourite metal bands. I got to say “Celtic Frost!” from the back of a crowded room, which was very satisfying. Judging by their reactions, some people thought I was joking.

My tasks for Sunday were to write a review of the stellar OSI album and to monitor the belter’s whereabouts in case she needed a lift in from Maple Ridge. When everything appeared to be sorted out, I took off up the street to visit Neptoon Records’ new location. Their racks of $2 LPs contained a few gems (well, gems to me), so I picked up some things. I also got the first Hatfield and the North LP, which made the Neptoon guy pretty excited because, as he told me, their keyboardist was Dave Stewart (not Annie Lennox’s partner) who played on Bruford’s One of a Kind, which also featured Allan Holdsworth, who played with Bruford on the first UK album, who became a trio with Terry Bozzio on drums after Bruford and Holdsworth left to make One of a Kind, which was going to be the second UK album… Heh-heh. I walked home in a good mood.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

”You are what you think about”
I’m reading Devil’s Knot, which covers the same material as the HBO documentary “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills.” It goes into much more detail than the movie did, and as a result it’s that much more frightening. It’s the scariest book I’ve read since Linda McQuaig’s All You Can Eat. Devil’s Knot makes it even more clear how biased the trial’s judge was, how shoddy the police work was, how clearly Mark Byers should have been the prime suspect, and how little evidence it takes to convict someone of murder and send them to death row. It looks like the last third of the book is what happened after the convictions, so I’m looking forward to it. Because I haven’t seen the sequel to the movie, this should all be new information to me.

If listening to Metallica and wearing black can get you the death penalty, what would happen if the cops found your Akercocke albums? I’d better watch myself.

At one point in the book the author inaccurately transcribes the title of a Metallica album as Injustice For All. With the twang in Damien’s voice, that’s how it probably sounded when he testified. Mistake or not, it’s a pretty excellent title for an album. It would have been appropriate for Load.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

I know it’s not good for me, but at work I like to sit by myself at lunch. I like to read The Sun, or read the writin’ under the pitchers in The Province, or read another chapter in whatever book I’ve got going. Sometimes I’ll sit at a table with people I’ve talked to before. More often than not it goes okay. I get in a couple audible comments and people acknowledge them. Yippee. As someone whose job it is to pry information out of people, I need to talk to them more. But I’d rather do it for the job, not socially. Anyway, today I sat down with a couple folks who, I realized too late, were already deep into a conversation about spirituality and living and doing and being and loving and all that jazz. One of them is drawing up tables and diagrams on a piece of paper. “Look at this straight line. What does that mean to you?” “Let’s divide life into positives and negatives.” They’re talking about human beings as meaning-making machines, and Landmark Education (which Neal Morse of Spock’s Beard was into, the God-fearing freak) and The Four Agreements. I just sat there gnawing on my giant oatmeal-raisin cookie and listened, hoping they would not acknowledge my presence and not ask me what I thought that straight line meant. I made it back to my desk unscathed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Around the house
I rearranged the LPs last week, taking the significant step of integrating the belter’s records with mine. I liked the results—Sleater Kinney is now sandwiched between Slayer and Slint, Janis Joplin mingles with Jethro Tull and Joy Division. It’s a healthy situation.

Last night I borrowed a drill and put up shelves, which we bought Sunday at Ikea with the help of the invaluable Tess. By the way, here’s a tip for you Ikea shoppers. If you’d like cheerful service, don’t walk up to one of the yellow-and-blue garbed floor staff and ask, “Do you work here?”

Anyway, I got the shelves up without drilling into any major wiring conduits, so I was pleased. They’re actually level, too. I’m like friggin’ Schneider.

I’ve always enjoyed a little black humour in the wake of a major tragedy, but I’m hesitant to joke about the Great White thing. I’ve been grossed out by it. I mean, you go to the local club to rock out to some has-been band, and suddenly you’re incinerated. That could have been me. And I think about what future awaits those club owners and old Jack Russell, and I get an anxiety attack. They’re just fucked. Occasionally I’m tempted to sign the Stoke guestbook and advise them to lay off the pyro, but that’s lame and in bad taste. I can’t laugh about any aspect of the situation.

Until today.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Freddie, four-tracking, and free food
Jetbot noted recently how much she hates that car commercial where people sing along to the Barenaked Ladies. Well, I always want to hide behind the couch whenever the “We Are the Champions” Viagra commercial comes on. As a Queen fan who’s been embarrassed by that song ever since it became a sports arena anthem, hearing it as the soundtrack to a Viagra ad doesn’t exactly give me a boner. I honestly hope that the estate of Freddie Mercury is donating all that dirty pharmaceutical company cash to a worthy cause. If Roger Taylor’s getting a cut to buy a new carburetor for his Ferrari, I’ll be pissed.

I should inquire about licensing “Another One Bites the Dust” for my mouse-trapping services. Except that song sucks, too.

I was back in the basement for some more four tracking on Saturday. I’m still floundering around for quality ideas, so I decided to rerecord a Jackass Has Haybreath song from scratch.

I started with drums. I didn’t mess around with getting good sounds. I just took my two PZMs, hung one high, hung another low. That setup always makes the drums sound brittle and small, but still very listenable. I like it. However, I wasn’t sure it would cut through the din of overdubs to come, so I stuck my SM57 on the snare. Voila—the kit sounded killer.

I tore everything down after the first complete take and moved on to bass. Again, I wasn’t too fussy about sounds. I tuned up, plugged in, dialled in the SansAmp and hit “record.” Boom—three tracks of sketchy Odometer rock for future reduction, with no blisters, no knocks on the door from Flanders, some lunch, and a shower. I’d call that a good afternoon’s Muling.

After that, the belter and I took off to Maple Ridge for a private Catholic school fundraising trivia night. I tell ya, the Catholics can put on a show. The school gym was packed with over 300 people, there was free smokies, potato salad, dessert, beer (not free), a silent auction…all kinds of wholesome charitable whatnots. A friend recruited us to be on her team, so we did what we could. The belter nearly won the True or False round, while I contributed the correct answer to our final Jeopardy question (we’d wagered our entire point total, so I was shitting bricks about that one). We still were only good enough to finish eighth (out of 30 teams). I think that the “Sunday School” category was our undoing. We’ll get some Bible tutoring and kick ass next year.