Bang the Drum!: Loyalty Program

Bang the Drum“What about you?” Aesop asked Kim. “What’ve you got there?”

Kim took his white sneakers off the riser and squared them firmly on the hardwood floor. He held his book face front toward Aesop. “I went up to that bookstore up Hastings, past Boundary,” Kim said. “He specializes in mysteries. I asked him if he had anything that wasn’t, you know, just everything is all about forensic details and brutal violence and it’s not that I’m against that, but I don’t know if I ever need to read any of that again. I’m sorry if you like that stuff, but it’s…it’s not for me. I’m looking for something… different. So I ask him if he’s got anything that’s not like that. But that’s, of course, that’s his bread and butter. So I ask him if he’s got any mash-ups.”

The Pack a.d. – Sirens by killbeat music

“What do you mean, mash-up? Like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters?” Aesop looked over at Richard, who was still serving paying customers. He wondered if he and Kim were breaching etiquette, discussing another bookstore while they were in Richard’s shop.

Richard caught his eye and nodded, “Don’t worry, I see you. Americano to go, as soon as I get these folks their coffee.”
Aesop smiled and waved, and looked down at his own shoes, ashamed, as soon as Richard broke eye contact.

“Nothing as overt as that,” Kim continued. “But like, something different. Like maybe a Chinese detective, not Charlie Chan, but an actual detective from actual China, solving crimes in, I don’t know, New Orleans. Something fresh, something that’s not just going to go through the motions of every noir trope ever.”

“Like a fish out of water, kind of thing? Is that what you’ve got there?”

“This? Close. This guy, the detective, Sonchai, is a Buddhist cop in Bangkok. I’m early stages, not very far into it, but so far, so good.”
“Have you read Fesperman?”

Sarah MacDougall – Sometimes You Lose Sometimes You Win by killbeat music

“Fesperman? No, who’s that?” Kim set his book down, splayed open, covers up, on the riser next to his coffee.

“He was, or is, I don’t know, a foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun,” Aesop said.

“Who’s that, David Simon?” Richard called out from behind the counter. “You guys talking about The Wire? I’ve got some Pelecanos on the pocketbooks shelf.”

“No, Dan Fesperman. I guess he’s more of a thriller writer than a crime novelist. If you care about those semantics. He’s written books set in Afghanistan, Jordan, Guantanamo Bay. My favourite though, is Lie In The Dark, which is a crime novel. It’s about a homicide cop in Sarajevo, during the war. It’s great. All of them are, but Lie In The Dark, that’s my favourite.”
Richard clucked his tongue and shook his head back and forth. “You guys are talking about books you didn’t even buy here, aren’t you? And look at this guy,” Richard lifted his chin toward Kim, “sits in here reading a book he bought from the competition. And you guys probably think you’re my best customers. Coffee’s up, Aesop.”

The Deep Dark Woods – West Side Street by killbeat music

Emmet Matheson is a freelance writer who blogs at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

So That’s What Happened To My Old Alpha Flights… [UPDATED]

Toronto pop punk trio Courage My Love has at least four things going for them:
1. They’re named after a Tragically Hip lyric based on Hugh MacLennan’s CanLit classic The Watch That Ends The Night. EDIT: Whoops, there I go presuming things. I’m way off here. Commenter JB correctly points below out that, according Courage My Love’s own website, their name is taken from a line in the 1936 movie Things to Come, based on the H.G. Wells novel and not on a Tragically Hip lyric, which, for the record, is “Courage, my word”. They get to keep the point because H.G. Wells and old movies are cool.
2. They are young enough to pull off their asymmetrical haircuts.
3. They out-Avril anything the former Mrs. Whibley has done lately.
4. They made this really fun video:

Props to The Snipe for finding the vid first.

UPDATE: A veritable Legion of Super-Walter Flanagan Fans insists that credit be given to one Walter Flanagan, podcaster and comic seller, who wrote the lyrics to “I Sell Comics”. Flanagan is credited for such twice in the video. Should Mr. Flanagan wish to advertise his podcast or comic shop on the Dog Blog, there should be a link on the right side of this page that can get him in touch with prairie dog’s irreproachable advertising team.

Bang the Drum!: It takes one to know one

Bang the DrumFriday morning Aesop Mosley walked into Richard’s coffee shop/bookstore across the street from the courthouse. Aesop worked the weekend shift, and his week began as everyone else’s ended. The Friday overlap with the workweek crew left him subject to info-dumps and competing narratives as his co-workers attempted to compress everything that had happened since Monday into single storylines that would, with any luck, wrap themselves up neatly by five o’clock. What was left, what Aesop dealt with on the Saturday/Sunday skeleton crew, was interstitial. His workweek began as denouement and ended as prologue. He was okay with this.

Pink Mountaintops – “Through All The Worry” from stereogum on Vimeo.

There were three people at the counter, which was busy for Richard’s tiny coffee shop/bookstore at the wrong end of Main Street. Aesop thought about stepping out, coming back later. But he saw Kim in the corner, feet up on the riser at the storefront window that sometimes held bands, sometimes held art, sometimes held shrines to Richard’s beloved Canucks. At the moment, though, the risers were between exhibits. All they held were Kim’s hightops, as fine a work of installation art as had ever appeared in a Downtown Eastside coffee shop.
Kim looked up from a brightly covered trade paperback and met Aesop’s eye. Kim nodded his head and Aesop sat down on the riser. “Are reading anything good lately, or are you still stuck on your Mexican?” Kim asked.

“Yeah, no…I don’t know,” Aesop said. “I just finished the last of his detective series, at least the last of them that have been translated to English. So I’m kind of, ah, between books right now. I mean, I’m reading a Fletch book, it’s pretty good, but it’s not, like, a calling.”
“Have you read any Ross MacDonald? He’s much more, I guess, psychological than your average whodunnit. He really gets into what’s going on underneath everything else.”
“Funny you should bring him up,” Aesop said. “I just picked up, last week, right here, which one was it…?”
Kim twisted his torso without moving his feet and glanced at the dead centre of the wall. “It must have been The Chill,” he said. “Sleeping Beauty‘s still on the shelf. What did you think of it?”
“I actually, ah, haven’t read it yet. But I wanted it to get it because the Mexican bring him up all the time. His detective–”
“The one with one leg?”
“No, he just has a limp. A slight limp. Wait, yeah, he loses an eye, though, yeah. Anyway, the detective, Belascoarán, as he follows his cases, he always thinks of how Lew Archer would do it better. So I thought, I might as well…”
But there was another reason Aesop Mosley had picked up the Ross MacDonald novel, a reason he wasn’t ready to share with Kim or with Richard. But when he did, they would never look at him the same again.
Sweet Release by WUGAZI

Emmet Matheson named his blog, A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached, after a line in a Ghostface Killah track. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: Real Music

Bang the DrumI don’t know how prevalent it is today, but when I was growing up there was a sort of Rock Supremacist attitude going around. Other people’s dads and uncles and older brothers said things like “Rap? More like crap!” or “You call that music? They aren’t even playing any instruments!” Basically, a bunch of rock fans weren’t willing to accept the legitimacy of burgeoning hip hop and disco/electronic music forms. At its ugliest, this attitude reflected racist and homophobic undercurrents in rock. At its most benign, hey, sometimes people just like an excuse to say “crap”.
Ka$ual (feat. Jon Bellion) – “I Dont Take L’s” by Diamond Music Group

Last month I went to see Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at the Vogue Theatre here in Vancouver. I joked to my brother, as I often do at jazz shows, that we were probably the youngest non-MFA’s in the place. My brother, who’d just finished chiropractic college, thought there must be some young science geeks who dig contemporary jazz. I disagreed. I figure the traditional jazzbo demographic has mostly drifted into metal. Thank Rush for that. Thank jazz, too, I guess.

Watching Erica von Kleist’s tremendous alto sax solo during the Secret Society’s last number of their set (there was, of course, an encore), “Obsidian Flow”, seeing how invested she was in her instrument, how much of her actual physical human existence was put into that jam. The squeals and the squelch that drove the number, that drive most jazz, come from that basic unit of sustained life: human breath. I looked over at the guitarist, Sebastian Noelle. Up to that moment, I’d been on his side, a fan of his. But I saw him, holding his machine, getting sounds out of it with his hands. Big deal, I thought. Hands, pffft. Von Kleist is over there, making music with the very apparatus that keeps her alive. Talk about transcendental. This guy, this guitarist, he’s operating a machine. At that moment, I felt the contempt that sax players must have felt at the dawn of rock & roll, as the electric guitar assumed the role of wicked noise maker. That’s not real music, I thought.

mp3: “Obsidian Flow” by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

And then I thought about the Tuvan throat singers and how they must sneer at woodwinds.

mp3: “Came Home Late” by Lambchop (via Grapefruit Record Club)

Emmet Matheson sneers at all music on his blog A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: Life Itself

Bang the DrumI wish I had discovered Paco Ignacio Taibo II when I was a teenager. Back then, I often read books with a notebook handy, writing down references to look up later. This was before the time of household Internet, so looking this stuff up mean, y’know, actually putting in some leg work. Luckily, back then, I was still spending a lot of time in High School (though not as much time as I was supposed to be spending), and didn’t even have to cross a street to get to a decent library. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, borrowed and lost from the Evan Hardy Collegiate Library, filled a lot of pages. Some of my notes led me to great things, like Dostoevsky, Modigliani and Sonny Rollins. Some were dead ends (to me at 14, in any case), like Schopenhauer and Dexter Gordon. Kerouac’s other books would later steer me toward Buddhism, Lew Welch and Thunderbird wine.

mp3: “Zeno” by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

Taibo’s novels have inspired a similar frenzy. His recurring independent investigator (“private sounds like somebody wants to sell Mexican oil,” Taibo says) Hector Belascoarán Shayne is a heavy reader and a music fan. Belascoarán puts on Gerry Mulligan records when he broods over a case. He seeks sleuthing advice in the pages of Ross MacDonald and Georges Simenon novels. In The Uncomfortable Dead, Belascoarán bases his interviewing techniques on Alec Guinness’s performance in the 1979 BBC adaptation of John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. In the non-Belascoarán novel, Leonardo’s Bicycle, Taibo’s stand in, Mexican detective novelist José Daniel Fierro so obsesses over the ephemeral minutiae of the career of Carlos Santana that the Wizard of Autlán must surely count as as much of a Taibo character as that other Carlos, the anarchist upholsterer who shares an office with Belascoarán.

mp3: “Nostalgia” by Ocelote Rojo (via Bad Panda)

I don’t want it in all my art, and it certainly shouldn’t be a primary function of art, but I do love it when a song or a movie or a novel sends me off in search of something else. The reader becomes the detective, following clues, putting them all together to draw a new map of the central mystery, which is life itself.
I already liked Roadside Graves for their 2010 EP You Won’t Be Happy With Me, but when I read what singer John Gleason wrote about the band’s new album We Can Take Care of Ourselves, I really liked them:

My wife and I are both teachers, but we rarely talk about teaching beyond a good day versus a bad day. After a few years together and a few hundred dinners I realized the one exception was when she taught SE Hinton’s The Outsiders. During her Outsider unit our dinners were always punctuated with tales of students who hated reading suddenly being transformed and bright eyed at the prospect of reading a novel that related authentically to them without being dull.
We were careful to not retell the plot in song as bad Broadway; rather we focused on making more nuanced allusions to characters, themes, feelings, and settings. We tried to emphasize the sensitive, frightened sides of the characters, instead of showcasing their thick skin and greaser toughness. Musically and sonically, we avoided a retro sound and kept it thick and modern, with only occasional glimpses of melodies and tones that might have pumped out of their radios at night.

mp3: “Love Me More” by Roadside Graves

Emmet Matheson stays golden, intermittently, at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: Out of Office Reply

href=”http://www.prairiedogmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/bang-the-drum.jpg”>Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! I can’t come to the blog right now, because I’m somewhere near a very large body of water, listening to the sound of nothing coming in my window as I leisurely sip some terrible coffee made bearable only by my lush surroundings and the stack of Mexican detective novels at my feet.
But why should you suffer? Here’s a random sampling of some decidedly not new, not serene music.



Emmet Matheson wrote this post while lying down. He blogs intermittently at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: puttin’ in a good word

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! My grandfather died last month. Bob Irwin was 96 years old and spent most of the 20th Century putting shoes on people’s feet, first in Saskatoon and later in North Battleford. He even spent some time during the Depression selling shoes in Regina.
“The city sure has changed,” he told me in 2008, when he made a return trip to the Queen City. He was there for my wedding. He was only 93 back then.
It was his idea to have a wedding. Nicole and I had certainly discussed it, and come to the general agreement that, yes, we were not entirely opposed to the tradition of marriage. But it wasn’t really something we felt compelled to take part in. But when I told my grandfather that Nicole was pregnant with our first child, he asked if we were going to get married. Probably at some point, I told him. “I’d sure like to be there,” he said.
If the old man wanted to be at my wedding, well, I finally had a reason to pop the question.

mp3: “Swashbuckler Blues” by the Theater Fire

Grandpa Bob was the last of my parents’ parents. I was lucky to grow up around four sets of grandparents: my dad’s parents, my dad’s dad’s parents, my mother’s mother and her second husband, and my mother’s father and his second wife. Grandpa Bob and Doreen lived in Battleford, and we used to go up to see them every summer. My dad raced canoes recreationally back then. Mostly short races on the South Saskatchewan, like the Cranberry Punch. But he also a longer, all-day race on the Battle River, usually with one of my uncles, but at least once with my sister. We’d get into North Battleford just in time to have lunch at the McDonald’s, typically our only McD’s visit all year (we were more of an A&W family) and then we’d go downtown and hang out at Grandpa Bob’s shoe store for the afternoon. We would stay at my dad’s sister’s farm just outside of Delmas and then on our way back to Saskatoon we would visit with Grandpa and Doreen at their house. It would usually be a Sunday evening, and I remember watching Disney movies on the TV in Doreen’s kitchen. TV in the kitchen! We could hardly believe it. I remember watching Gus, about a mule who kicked field goals, and The World’s Greatest Athlete, starring Jan-Michael Vincent as a Tarzan-type who became a decathlete. I don’t know why there were always sports-themed movies on when we were at Grandpa Bob’s. When I got older, around 8 or 9, Grandpa taught me how to play cribbage and that would define our relationship from that point forward.

mp3: “You Make the Sun Fry” by Ty Segall

I wish I had some great, character defining story to tell about my Grandpa Bob, they way I did for his brother Jack. But I knew him both too well and not well enough to have that kind of monolithic vision of him. I can’t sum him up. There are things I’ve only learned since he died, from reading the wonderful comments in the “Guest Book” of his death notice, about his relationship with Doreen’s family. There are so many things I’ll never know. His hearing was terrible the last few years and what few conversations we had were characterized by the blunt expressions of affection endemic to phone calls to sweet old men too proud to wear their hearing aids.

mp3: “Goodnight Trail” by Miwa Gemini

Grandpa Bob, when I told him that Nicole was pregant, told me that there is no sweeter sound in the world than when your child calls you “dad” for the first time. As I write this my own daughter is in the full throes of her Terrible (abominable, hideous, cruel) Twos and I look back on Grandpa’s words as an old man’s romanticism. But there’s no doubt that he loved and cherished his kids and grandkids. His eyes lit up whenever we were around. Of course, I wasn’t there when we weren’t around, so maybe he just had really bright eyes, but whenever we left he grew just a touch melancholy. “Come back,” he’d say. “You will come back, won’t you? Come back soon.”

Emmet Matheson is a freelance writer who comes from a good family & hopes his kids will someday say that they came from a good family. He blogs intermittently at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: The music in Canada, it’s like pollution

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! We have so much new music to get to this week. The music is stacked up so high and so precariously that someone will probably get hurt and we’ll spend the rest of the summer filling out WCB forms. In the meantime, though, click on through after the Louise Burns to hear not new jams from Snailhouse, the Internet Hood (Destroyer vs. Raekwon), Watermelon and Will Currie & the Country French. When it rains, it pours, and we ain’t go no umbrella.

Vancouver’s Louise Burns started playing bass for Avril-come-lately group Lillix when she was 11 years-old. Her solo debut, Mellow Drama, came out this spring. The lead single “What Do You Wanna Do” is a trebled-out joyride. The follow up, “Drop Names Not Bombs”, isn’t the worst song you’ll hear this year either.

LOUISE BURNS – Drop Names Not Bombs from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

Continue reading “Bang the Drum!: The music in Canada, it’s like pollution”

Bang the Drum!: Batman This, Batman That

Bang the DrumThis is normally the kind of thing I would post on my own blog, but I gotta fill some column inches here today, so here goes.

There are a lot of reasons why I don’t read superhero comics with the same intensity or appetite as I did five years ago (2006 was the last good year for superhero comics, by the way), and one of them is Comics Alliance. Okay, that’s neither true nor fair. I like a lot of what Comics Alliance has done. They’ve taken some worthwhile principled stands and generally elevated the tone of mainstream comics coverage. Unfortunately, in doing so they’ve also kinda sorta legitimized the vapid echo chamber mainstream superhero comics have become (see how furious I am? “kinda sorta”) where “awesome” is all a comic has to be (awesome should be the starting point for a superhero comic, not the end result).

What’s really stuck a crowbar in my spokes is this He Said/He Said (is there any other dialogue in comics coverage?) bit on the 1989 Batman movie by Chris Sims and David Uzumeri. I pretty much knew this was going to go wrong when both reviewers copped to being under 10 when the movie was in theaters (Sims “was about to turn 7” and Uzumeri was “around…8 or so”). So whatever historical sense they have of the film has probably been gleaned from Wikipedia pages and Ain’t It Cool News posts. Very early in the review Uzumeri compares it to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while Sims’ closest cultural touchstone is Super Mario 3. As someone who turned 12 a mere 15 days before Batman‘s North American theatrical release, I quickly realized that these two kids had Batman totally wrong.

“Michael Keaton is not exactly believable as Batman,” says Sims. “Like, go watch the opening to Batman: The Animated Series. There’s a fluidity to movement that — while exaggerated for the cartoon — is just completely impossible for Keaton here.”

I almost stopped reading there. The guy is comparing a human being in at least 50 lbs. of foam rubber who can’t move his neck to a piece of animation. But if I had stopped, I would have missed (the usually very readable) Uzumeri say “Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face is just a hilarious idea to me.” And then he doesn’t say why. I would really love to hear why that’s a hilarious idea to him.
Instead we’re treated to a lengthy debate on the merits of Ace Chemicals vs Axis Chemicals, cheap shots at Bob Kane, and whinging about how Burton failed to capture the subtle essence of Batman. Like Batman’s a single malt scotch or something.

Tasseomancy – The Darkest Of Things by killbeatmusic

Batman’s not a single malt scotch. Batman is cola. Sometimes he comes in a red bottle, sometimes he comes in a blue can. I hear that in Mexico they still use cane sugar to make Batman, but around here it’s just high-fructose corn syrup.
mp3: “Far Away” by John Millard & Happy Day

Emmet Matheson is a cowardly, superstitious lot who blogs intermittently at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

Bang the Drum!: International Women’s Daze

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! We’ve got some great female-fronted music from around the world this week. We begin our journey in Argentina with Las Kellies, then over to Spain with Dover, finally NYC (by way of Japan) with the reunited Cibo Matto!

The first single from the new album Kellies by Argentina’s Las Kellies is “Perro Rompebolas”. Rompebolas translates from Spanish to “pain in the ass”. Perro is Spanish for “dog”. There may be something idiomatic at play at here.

mp3: “Perro Rompebolas” by Las Kellies
There’s more Las Kellies greatness at their Bandcamp page.

Continue reading “Bang the Drum!: International Women’s Daze”

End Tunes: The Sequel

(Vancouver Bureau) Because, well, if we are going to go, we’re going to need something a little stronger than REM and Blondie. Here are ten songs no End of the World would be complete without.

#1. Bill Callahan’s new album is as great and wonderful as all of his other albums, maybe even a little more so. It’s called Apocalypse.

#2. Okay, not creepy and menacing enough for you? How about a little something from the Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation? Here’s “Succubus”, their live improv jam scoring the 1969 exploitation flick of the same name, to which the racy visuals belong.

Continue reading “End Tunes: The Sequel”

Bang the Drum!: Doom without Metal?

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! When I say that Toronto’s Godstopper is Doom Metal without the Metal, don’t get the wrong idea. This is very heavy, abrasive music. But it’s not quite metal. The band’s Bandcamp page is tagged “doom industrial metal rock noise Toronto”. Seems about right. Godstopper is musically akin to the Melvins, the Jesus Lizard or Shellac, but with definate metal leanings. The most metal part of “Clean House” (seen below) comes in the second half with what my Consigliere of Metal, Phil from Haggatha, calls “Andrew Lloyd Webber vocals”. More after the jump.

Continue reading “Bang the Drum!: Doom without Metal?”

Three Takes On Tyler The Creator

Sara Quin of Canadian folk-rock-new wave duo Tegan & Sara posted a blog yesterday calling out rap sensation Tyler the Creator and the people who champion him.

When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses? While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blog and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile.

Misogynist and homophobic lyrics are nothing new in hip hop (or rock or pop or country for that matter) but Tyler and his Odd Future crew’s use of them is uniquely problematic. Nitsuh Abebe, one of the best music writers going, unpacked a lot of this earlier in the week at New Yorker Magazine

One time Tyler tweeted the following: “I Want To Scare The Fuck Out Of Old White People That Live In Middle Fucking America.” (He says the same about most everyone whose life he imagines is more comfortable than his.) I wonder if he realizes that several of his transgressive Yes I Said That misogynist-monster jokes — e.g., “Goddamn I love bitches / Especially when they only suck dick and wash dishes” — would actually fit in just fine among certain old white people in middle America? Sure, he is pretending to be a vampire when he drops that line. But he could just as easily pretend to be an old jerk at a random American bar, two decades before he was even born. Somehow his misfit mentality keeps leading him toward poses that fit in all too well.

Abebe further clarified some of his points on his Tumblr blog.

All I wanted to suggest was that Tyler, far from being some kind of complicated monster, is actually sort of a trite and typical teenage jerk! Which is sort of more pathetic and mundane than being a monster!

Even earlier in the week, at The Guardian‘s blog Alex Macpherson wrapped Tyler’s slurs around (heterosexual) rapper Lil B’s recent announcement that his next album will be titled I’m Gay. Says Macpherson:

What both Odd Future and Lil B are doing, at heart, is trolling their elders in the hope of provoking reaction. So why does Lil B seem so much more exciting? Perhaps because he understands that truly brave trailblazing entails trolling your own core demographic, not outsider strawmen who have no time for you anyway.

Bang the Drum!: I still have a flamegun

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! Welcome to the 34th edition of Bang the Drum! (+/- 34), the number one music column in Regina (+/-1). This week we have 5 incredible new songs for you (+/-5) (+/-Old) and some rad vids too!

Witches is an Athens, GA three-piece who consider playing 22 shows in Germany a “European Tour.” The group is fronted by Cara Beth Satalino, whose rich vocals and sharp lyrics recall the best works of Mary Timony and Chan Marshall. Witches’ debut album Forever comes out on June 21 from Bakery Outlet Records.
mp3: “Creature of Nature” by Witches
mp3: “Black Dog” by Witches
Continue reading “Bang the Drum!: I still have a flamegun”

Always Listen To Your Mother

Minnesota State Representative Matt Dean tempted the wrath of aging goths the world over earlier this week. Speaking on a bill that would reduce access to arts funding in the North Star State, Dean called sci fi/fantasy author Neil Gaiman, creator of the essential goth comic The Sandman, “a pencil-necked weasel.”
Gaiman was paid a hefty, but not unheard of, sum ($45K according to Dean, $33K according to Gaiman) for an appearance at a Minnesota library. It’s one of the ways writers earn a living.
On his blog, Gaiman wrote:

I like “pencil-necked weasel”. It has “pencil” in it. Pencils are good things. You can draw or write things with pencils. I think it’s what you call someone when you’re worried that using a long word like “intellectual” may have too many syllables. It’s not something that people who have serious, important things to say call other people.

The story went from ridiculous to sublime yesterday when Dean apologized for the name-calling on Minnesota Public Radio (also targeted in his anti-arts crusade) at his mother’s advice. “She was very angry this morning and always taught me not to be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”
Moms are the best.

Bang the Drum!: Exclusive, New, Lazy

Bang the DrumGreetings, Earthlings! This week we’re turning the column over to Regina’s instrumental instrumentalists the Lazy MKs. The trio is releasing their debut longplay, Where We Bin, Saturday, May 7, at the Artesian. In honour of this event, we’ve invited the MKs to share and tell us about some of their favourite music, and Lazy MKs steel guitarist Etienne Soulodre returned the favour by giving us an exclusive first listen to a track from Where We Bin.

B.D. Willoughby
Etienne says: We made a record with B.D. last year which has yet to be released. He’d little busy doing his doctorate in economics. I like this video because it includes the Ooh La La’s, a three voice female back-up singer group led by Anna Rose.

Black Drink Crier
Etienne says: We played on this record a while ago. I like this tune because it has ice-fishing references. This record is being released on May 20.

When I first heard the Lazy MKs back in 2009, via Pat Book’s excellent music blog Sound Salvation Army, I wondered whether the band’s name was pronounced “Lazy Em-Kays” or “Lazy Marks”. This is the kind of thing I miss out on by not living in Regina. Well, wonder no more! Etienne says: The band name is pronounced “em kays”. This was my familie’s cattle brand.
Here’s a taste of the new Lazy MKs album, Where We Bin, to be released on Young Soul Records. The song is named after the old Quality Tea just off 13th Avenue, a fondly remembered Cathedral Village institution if ever there was one.
EXCLUSIVE mp3: “The Q.T.” by the Lazy MKs

Emmet Matheson is a freelance beautician who is always interested in meeting the most interesting people at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom

If You Vote Conservative, You Must Wish Harm on the Marginalized & Vulnerable

Disclaimer: I worked for two years at Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection facility and currently work at Onsite, the detox & transitional housing program attached to Insite. Except where explicitly stated, the following opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my employer the PHS Community Services Society, nor those of Vancouver Coastal Health, which co-manages both Insite and Onsite.

On May 12, the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hear an appeal from the Attorney General on the 2008 decision by the Supreme Court of BC which struck down sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as unconstitutional in that they prevented Canadian citizens addicted to illegal drugs from accessing health care services, specifically those offered by Vancouver’s supervised injection facility, Insite. In his decision (which you can read in its entirety as a PDF file here), Justice Ian Pitfield wrote:

“Instead of being rationally connected to a reasonable apprehension of harm, the blanket prohibition contributes to the very harm it seeks to prevent. It is inconsistent with the state’s interest in fostering individual and community health, and preventing death and disease.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has already had one appeal of Pitfield’s decision rejected by the BC Court of Appeals in January, 2010. Undaunted by the growing scientific research that supports Insite and the use of Harm Reduction methodologies as part of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with addiction, unswayed by the legal findings of the courts, and unfazed by the cost-effectiveness of harm reduction practices, the Harper Tories wage on. British medical journal The Lancet has just published a study showing that Insite contributed to a 35 per cent drop in overdose deaths in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside within two years of its 2003 opening. That’s what at stake, human lives.
In a 2008 op-ed, the Globe & Mail‘s public health reporter Andre Picard wrote:

“our federal government and our national police force, rather than embracing harm reduction as complementary to law enforcement, have developed a hatred for Insite that is irrational and unseemly, one that threatens and undermines public health policy to its core.”

Even some Christians find the Harper government’s attack on Harm Reduction distasteful. Saskatchewan Redemptorist ethicist Father Mark Miller told the Catholic Register in 2007: “

“This is a social-justice issue. It’s almost like the situation of lepers in the time of Jesus. What Jesus did was say, ‘No, you embrace them; you bring them in, you make them part of the community.’ That becomes part of the healing. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it’s going to work for the community. It also becomes part of the healing of the community, because otherwise you become elitist and moralistic.”

Liz Evans, Executive Director of PHS Community Services (which operates Insite in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health) wrote in the National Post last month:

“InSite’s purpose is to help prevent addicts from dying, either from an overdose or from a disease, before they get a chance to recover.”

To put it even more simply, dead people don’t detox. My Canada doesn’t give up on people, Stephen Harper’s evidently does. At an October, 2007 press conference our Prime Minister said:

“If you remain an addict, I don’t care how much harm you reduce,you’re going to have a short and miserable life.”

In the face of so much evidence that shows otherwise, Harper’s statement is nothing short of appalling.

Here’s our new favourite vlogger Shawn Syms on Harm Reduction last fall:

Sing it loud

Ontario labour activist Humberto DaSilva does a regular video blog at Rabble.ca called Not Rex. His latest post is an impassioned declaration of the values he will express at the ballot box on Monday.

While we’re watching Rabble vids, here’s Shawn Syms on the Harper Government’s record on LGTB issues.

Straight talk with the Pixies

As previously mentioned on the Dog Blog, the Pixies are playing Saskatoon this week as part of their two-years-and-counting celebration of the 20th anniversary of their 1989 album Doolittle. The Pixies play the album in sequence, as well as various B-sides from that era. I spoke with band members Joey Santiago and David Lovering for a story that originally appeared in the current edition of Saskatoon’s Planet S magazine.
Of course, both Santiago and Lovering told me things that didn’t make it into that story for various non-interesting reasons. Here’s what’s interesting out of that.

I asked guitarist Santiago what song he looks forward to playing the most every night.
Santiago: I like “Tame” because I’m just hitting that one chord, and I feel like a wiseass.

Santiago: I also like “La La Love You” because I just like to see [drummer] David [Lovering, who contributes a rare vocal perfomance to that song] suffer a little embarrassment. At the end, you know, Charles [Thompson, aka Frank Black, aka Black Francis] tends to milk it. He keeps going on and on and Dave has to sing until you see him sweating a bit.

Naturally, when I spoke with Lovering later that day, I had to ask him about it.
Lovering: It’s true! It’s all on me. Everyone in the band starts looking at me, and they try to get me to, y’know, feel uneasy. It does work. It’s usually at the end though, when it just breaks down. When it’s the chorus repeating, repeating and just the guitar going. That’s when they all stare me down.

I also asked Lovering which Doolittle song he most looks forward to each night.
Lovering: You know, I love playing “Tame”. But a nerve-wracking one is “Silver”. It’s a song that we never ever played live ever. It wasn’t until these Doolittle tours that we started doing it. The funny thing about it is, I’m only playing a floor tom; one hit, one hit every bar. So, one-two-three, one-two-three, it’s actually in 3/4 time. It’s all I do through the whole song and it is the hardest song I play. Every night, I’m like ‘oh no, here we go.’ But I pull it off. I’ve never had a failure, but every night I’m thinking about it. I just want to keep the time exact. It’s such a tough one to play so simplistically and keep time.