My co-host Guitar Drone XPT101196.4 and I are happy to announce that the What’s All This Then?! Podcast is back! We’re going with a weekly show that’ll come out every Saturday. So if you’ve dropped it from your list of podcasts on iTunes because of the lack of anything new – resubscribe!
As it’s now a weekly show it’ll be a lot shorter: we’re going to try to keep it under 15 minutes. It’ll still include thoughtful interviews with interesting musicians, lots of great music, show listings, and occasional forays into epic intergalactic adventure.
The first show in the new format is available now. It addresses some of Guitar Drone’s deep philosophical concepts. Gigs to check out in the next couple days: Tonight’s Drumheller show @ the Tranzac and the AIMToronto Interface series this weekend with Gino Robair.
What’s All This Then?! No.15 – November 24 2009:
I just stumbled over a link to an article written about my band in a UK online magazine called Dilettante. Apparently it was written early this summer but I suppose it takes a while for things to filter across the ocean. Anyway, half of it is a reprint of an article John Terauds wrote for the Toronto Star a while ago and the other half is really good commentary and some info about the Torture Memos project.
It also includes my new favourite quote (describing our first album):
“The resulting music reminds us of a Danish art installation at the Venice Biennale which consisted of a group of performance artists standing on top of a building, randomly picking up instruments to play for a few minutes before pausing to chuck rubber fish at passers by…”
You can read the rest of the article here.
NOTE: Regardless of what it says in that piece, I’ve never called our string section “mousy”.
Everyone who’s been stopping by here knows that my band has been working on recording of the Torture Memos set to music. Now we’ve recorded it and we’re having a big concert to mark the official release of the album:
And we’ve decided to donate a good percentage of the money from sales of this CD to the ACLU. Because they’re working on the right side of this issue.
I’ll be writing a bit about this record here in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, if you’re curious about how it sounds there are excerpts on our website.
And if you’re in Toronto, I’ve just set up a Facebook event for the concert.
Kristin and I played some voice+piano versions of Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra songs (and some covers) at the opening party for Celeste Gillis’ art show at the Tranzac. Our mysterious friend Alan R. took a photo:
It was a good show – crowded and noisy, but a lot of fun. Since I don’t play the piano very often these days I’m finding that I really enjoy it when I do. Kristin was – as always – a nuisance to rehearse with: always complaining that I don’t know the songs properly. But the problem is that it’s only fun for me to play when I don’t know the material perfectly well… it’s more of an adventure when you know that you’re going to be making a lot of stuff up as you go!
Here’s a few of my favourites from this show:
Only the Sun:
Driving Me Backwards (Brian Eno):
The Day the Planes All Stopped (Chris Warren):
The Stars of Reality TV:
Impostor (Karl Mohr):
Letter From London:
Congratulations on the great art show Celeste – and thanks for inviting us!
1: THE PIRATE
I live in an apartment a couple doors down from a very interesting (in every sense of the word) bar called Zemra Lounge. That place gets its ‘interesting’ character directly from its owner: a Croatian pirate. If he’s not actually a pirate, that’s only because the opportunity’s never come up for him. But he embodies all the finest character traits of a pirate (a storybook pirate a la Captain Blood, which is very different from currently-in-vogue Somali pirate type). Qualities:
Complete disregard for authoritarian morality (and any other type of morality); an enormous ego; a suave faux-aristocratic bearing, balanced by frequent episodes of alcoholic depression; …and, most importantly, incredible adaptability and resource in difficult situations. All he’s missing is a parrot and eye patch. But I’m pretty sure he has the requisite sabre and pistol stashed behind the bar.
And this is why, while businesses have been dropping like flies in saki along this street during the past year – which included both the ‘global economic crisis’ and the greatest streetcar track reconstruction fiasco ever attempted by mankind – the Zemra Lounge has thrived.
Our pirate transformed what was a hangout for the upper crust of the local Gino population into an event centre: Music! Magic Acts! Wine Tastings! Birthday Parties! Corporate Events! They all walk the plank at Zemra.
The man’s brilliant and cunning – I admire him. And he’s also a very nice guy. I run into him on the street all the time, typically finding him in furtive conversation with a shady-looking dude parked in a SUV in front of the bar. When he sees me he always breaks off the conversation to pass the time of day and ask how Madeline and Gus are doing, like Robert Frost:
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
This character sketch has gone on way too far. The point is: he’s started hosting events lately. And today it was a Green Party of Canada local meeting.
the Zemra Bar and Pirate Lair
2: THE PARTY
As I walked by Zemra Lounge last night a great crowd of hippies, dotted with shiny suits and pinkshirt businessmen, were milling in and around the place. And at each corner of the patio a dissolute-and-untoothed fellow (members of the fanatical paramilitary wing of the Party) – was stationed, handing out bright blue and green pamphlets. Read the rest of this entry »
Accidental Dignity: Torture Memo no.7 and the Challenge of Maintaining Dishonest Abstraction in the Written Word10/08/2009
Slept too little to attempt very much on the blog today. So I’ll offer up one of my favourite excerpts from the Torture Memos suite in place of the daily personal reflection:http://www.parkdalerevolutionaryorchestra.com/tm/memo7.mp3%20
between gradations of pain
is not an easy task.
it’s not an easy task.
– John Yoo
This is definitely my favourite lyric from the whole set (and, coincidently, the shortest). It’s such a striking juxtaposition with the cold, technical belligerence of the rest.
Of course it’s lifted from a section in which Mr.Yoo is attempting to establish pseudoscientific divisions between “acceptable” and “severe” levels of suffering. In this case he’s talking about sleep deprivation and how many days it can “legally” go on for.
Extracting this one line and taking it at face-value suggests the hidden possibility of a deep regret and troubled conscience behind the authorship of the torture memos. Of course it’s hard to believe in that possibility as intentional or, looking at in its actual context, genuinely meaningful.
To the contrary, I think it’s more likely that a degree of dignity and sympathy is inevitably built into written language. Regardless of the unlikely context, zooming into the microscopic details of communication brings out these essential qualities.
So I was glad to notice this fragment and include it in the suite. I find it hopeful to see that, with all the ways human beings contrive to fool themselves and manipulate others, the way we’ve constructed our means of communication interferes with completely dishonest abstractions.
———- @ the — Gallery, Toronto
August 8 2009
the problem was my preconcert
discussion a block away;
demonstrating the difficulty of being here
with small stones on heads and tables
for the pleasure of the disenfranchised.
the problem with the guitar
with songs about jesus and boo-hoo
is that it’s also difficult to be there
but there aren’t enough stones or heads
around to properly express your feelings.
The Adventure Begins:
You surge up out of bed at 9:00 this morning when one of your basset hounds decides it’s about time to start giving you CPR. You’re bleary-eyed but less hungover than you deserve to be. The animals have to do their essentials in the park so you stumble about for five minutes trying to assemble pants, shirt, and shoes. Ok: you’re ready to go!
The hounds are plunging back in forth, seething with walkjoy and barely-restrained urine. And you’re standing at the top of the stairs putting their leashes on. You look down the stairs and, through the glazed glass of the door notice a stack of blue and grey shapes: your recycle boxes! Of course! Last night was Friday: Recycle Night!
You vaguely recall lurching out to curb last night, wearing nothing but your sexy zebra-print bathrobe; hideously drunk; barely conscious, to put out the four recycle boxes (including the one illegal recycle box which is just a big plastic tub that happens to be a shade of blue similar to the standard recycle-box colour).
Your Good Neighbor, Graham, must’ve been up early and stacked them up outside for you (like he does every Saturday morning). You notice, with satisfaction, that the Recycle Dudes were duped by your non-regulation box, and you’re proud that your booze-addled brain had the capacity to slip that box into the middle of the row of regulation boxes so the Dudes wouldn’t notice the ugly duckling until it was too late.
You reach down and click the leash onto Augustus Fink-Nottle’s collar and —
— there’s a sudden thud of a closing door from the street and – NO!!! – you look through the glass door to see that half of your recycle boxes have disappeared! They’ve been stolen from right under your nose! Your precious recycle boxes that it’s taken years to assemble: each one lovingly found abandoned on the street or stolen from your neighbors the day before moving house — two of them have vanished!!
But then, as your eyes are transfixed on the pitiful survivors of this massacre: there’s second thud – a fuzzy humanoid figure appears in the doorway – lifts the remaining recycle boxes (including the precious non-regulation box) – and vanishes with thud no.3! And you horror of the situation washes over you:
Holy shit! That was the lady who’s opening the store beneath our apartment! She’s just stolen all my recycle boxes! WTF?!?!
What do you do?
A) Drop the leash, bolt down the stairs, and confront her while she likely has the incriminating recycle boxes in hand. (turn to page 76)
B) Take a moment to grab one of the bizarre ornamental daggers from Pakistan that your grandfather who worked for the U.N. gave you, then run down the stairs and confront her. By then she might have had time to stash the evidence, but at least you’ll have some means of defense against the potentially-violent madness of someone who’d steal recycle boxes from in front of your door in broad daylight. (turn to page 149)
C) Call the cops. This person is clearly psychopathic and, even armed with an ornamental Pakistani dagger, there’s no certain safety in confronting a dangerous lunatic. The police are trained to deal with this sort of situation. (turn to page 14)
D) Overwhelmed by the confusion and potential ramifications of this outrage (losing all the recycle boxes + living above a store run by a nutter), you decide to avoid dealing with it for the moment. Instead you take the dogs out for a walk and use that time to think your options over. (keep reading…)
Read the rest of this entry »
Because an absurd action magnifies the absurdity of an absurd institution:
PZ “Don Quixote” Myers and 300 atheist Sancho Panzas jousted with the Creation “Museum” in Kentucky this afternoon. The windmill seems to have taken a beating this time.
There are more pictures at Blag Hag’s Blog.