April 2002

I am hypnotized and lost in the haze of retirement. This summer my father turns 65 and will spend his days in his garden or watching football on Fox Sports World. I'm 30 and am still considered far too young and excitable to take it that easy. He will call me religiously at 8 o'clock on Saturday mornings and spit and curse and damn Manchester United and the idiot North American bandwagon lackeys that think them so brilliant. He will talk to me about politics and we'll agree and disagree and I'll lose my cool and he'll shake his head and my mother will yell at him. And when the phone rings sometimes he'll pick up the television remote and try to answer it and sometimes he'll get it right and pick up the phone. I have found it hard to sleep as of late, lots of counting seconds and minutes and hours. The sheep have unionized making it impossible for me to count to fifty without them demanding a half hour. So I am left with a magnificent collection of gin and the ice cubes to match and the promise that I may yet covet an entire floor in Vancouver's Westin Bayshore just like Howard Hughes all those years ago. Oblivion is something grand once in awhile. So let it be undertaken in a like manner.

Tinnitus Of The Soul

Understanding. The ability to understand fractured into the assumption of it and the reality of it. Exactly how convoluted has it become? For all the advances made in the last 100 years, consider the complications and stresses amplified in the pursuit of conveniently and expeditiously understanding. It is, in a way, the accumulation of confusion that distances you from yourself. Would you say that in ages past people knew themselves better or worse than we do? That unspotted by the white noise and the low hum of a million coaxial emancipators they knew the peace of their internal selves better or worse? Was there once a greater respect for that inward honesty that we judge ourselves with in private, or does it remain unchanged within us? And how does misinformation and the bombardment of our minds with useless information about useless things effect that inward sate and the truthful notions of ourselves? In a world in love with live broadcasted casualty free wars, television stations devoted entirely to celebrities-their whereabouts-their wardrobe-who they're fucking, and the outcomes of 'reality based' television shows, can we even honestly answer those questions?

Probably not.

Am I crazy? Difficult? An Asshole?
Rumor has it that I am.
So duck and cover.

Remember kids: never underestimate the public's ability to take a t-shirt seriously.

Having deduced that Robot Wars, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Extreme TV are far more entertaining to the mass populace than watching hours of Derek Jacobi play Claudius, I would be a fool to waste my time commenting on the good natured and interesting e-mails that I receive normally. Instead I thought it better suited to our overwhelming need to constantly run through sprinklers of dog shit to focus on the few that aren't. Because let's face it, it's far easier to make a point by letting idiocy represent itself. And, conveniently, less work for me.

Derek writes… and I'm tired of your mouth and how you always have to say things. Nobody cares and now that your band is over I wish somebody would shoot you and get it over with. It's the only way to shut up people like you.

The world is filled with morons. It's obvious enough and not exactly a new development. Of course the problem is that 90% of them consider themselves not to be and would agree with the sentiment that, in fact, the world is full of morons. Therein lies the difficultly in eradicating the problem. Now, it's not as if I haven't received threats via e-mail before. I've been threatened numerous times by numerous individuals of anonymity. I've even had those close to me threatened. There is something to be said for the realities of celebrity. The usual things such as encountering difficulties in public, the stares, the comments, the rumors, and so forth. All of which are rather easy to ignore if you're the sort that doesn't much care. Because, in truth, what does it really matter? You can only be knocked off of a pedestal if you consider yourself to be on one. The truth of life is that you're here, you live it, and then you're gone. You can attempt to convince yourself otherwise, but there it is. You get one time on the ride. If you allow it to be effected by the attitudes and dictates of others then what's the point?

If you're reading this chances are that you are not living under tyranny. In some romantic fashion you might consider yourself to be, but let's face it, no one's going to be crashing through your door tonight and hauling you off to a political re-education center. Every time you leave your house to go to the store there isn't a better than even chance that you'll be gunned down by a sniper or caught in crossfire. Chances are you're not living under a bridge or in a part of the world devoid of clean drinking water and basic foodstuffs and medicines. Chances are if you took the time to look at your life compared to most, you could be a lot worse off. Given all that, what in the hell does it matter what some guy in a band says about music? And how exactly could it be bad enough to precipitate the desire to say that he should be shot for it?*

[*Matthew Good has, in the past, spoken his mind about music and those who make it.]

garbled22 writes… Matt Good is a terrible song writer that does not know what people want to hear. People want to hear kick ass bands like Nickelback and Default and Puddle Of Mud because they rock hard and they know how to be rock stars. Matt Good is just a whiner that will never sell many records because he doesn't have an ear for what the peeps wanta hear!

Always back a winner. It's extremely important to remember - so I'll say it again: Always back a winner. It greatly decreases your chances of being seen as a loser. Risks are for idiots. So how come you feel so terrible if terrible is in fashion? I wonder.

jjcools writes…I hope that **** ******* finds you and beats you to death. that's the kind of thing the biggest band in Canada does to little shits like you and thats why so many people like them. I'm 6'1 216 and it would be great to meet you in a bar cause Id kick yer fucking ass!!! Yaaaaa Canada rocks!!!!

How does one respond to stupidity such as that? My grandfather used to tell me stories when I was a boy. Quite terrible stories*. So I'll try to put it like he might have.

I hope that it never comes knocking at your door. I hope that you never have to witness other men being liquefied or torn apart and left with gaping holes in their bodies. I hope that you never have to endure the smell of burning flesh or the shit and piss that tough guys like yourself never think they'll leave in their pants because the reality of violence and your blockhead concept of it are a million miles apart. I hope you never have to see what it does to people and how it would live inside that pea sized brain of yours like a repeating number every second of every day for the rest of your life. You can go to the bar, in small town Alberta if you prefer, and you can drink some beer, rip off your shit, throw some punches, and bang your fists against your chest. But the truth of the matter is that only people in this country that have any idea of what real violence entails are blocks away in some retirement home. So you have fun at the bar. The drinks are on them.

[* one such tale involved an anti-aircraft gunner that he knew in Dover who used to drive or walk to crash sites after they shot down German planes so that he could cut the ears off of the pilots if their bodies were still in good enough condition. What the gunner did with the ears he would never tell me.]

   On a less threatening note: some generalities…

Dawn writes… how do you feel about all these bands and people taking shots at you now? Don't you worry it will hurt your career?

Responding to such comments gives those who make them what they want. Attention.

Despite what most people might think, I've never gotten up a day in my life and said to myself ' I wonder what shit I can start today?.' I've made some comments and because of them things tend to get blown out of proportion. It goes from me making comments about music, not people, to others attacking me and not my music. I have no problem with anyone bad mouthing my music and am sure there are throngs of people doing so right now in the confines of their homes or offices or cars*. What are you going to do about it? Beat them all up? Give them all shit? Ask them all why? Personal insecurity breeds the need to defend yourself in such cases when you should clearly understand that art is subjective and exists to be discussed, liked, disliked, and dissected. Just because individuals with the intellectual fortitude of a walnut don't realize that, it doesn't mean that people in my position can't comment on it. Personally I don't see any difference between me making a comment about music and someone that's not in the public eye doing the same. It's a bullshit double standard bred out of some lame notion of what the rules of celebrity are supposed to be. That you're supposed to be concerned with maintaining some bizarre status quo of ceaselessly chasing success because it's some measurement of your worth and worthiness of it. That you're supposed to stifle yourself for the betterment of the industry or the public's sense of the musical community. Let's face it, the only reason people don't like attitudes to the contrary is because those who posses them are not controllable and people hate things they think can't be controlled. It's also a question of personal contentment. If you worry about your career because you want to be accepted and liked then chances are you have far more important personal issues to deal with. Rocking the boat isn't something most people enjoy because we live in a society that conforms to the path of least resistance policy. Go along to get along and remember to thank God during acceptance speeches to make potential customers feel as if the staff at Hallmark is sitting there beside them, smiling and whispering 'you see, everything's just fine' in their ears. And after they take their trophy, walk off stage, leave the awards show, go to the after party, do enough coke to drop a calf, stumble into a limo, go back to the hotel and have a three hour orgy (farm animals optional) during which god knows what other substances are imbibed, and wake up the next day in a pool of their own vomit - you'll still think them absolutely fucking fabulous because of some nice article in Spin.

[ *Of course, there's a line that can be crossed. Talking about someone's music is one thing. Being confronted in a violent manner on the street or malicious-ly defaming of ones character is something altogether different.]

In the very same e-mail I was asked this: If you're a hero to certain kids why would you jeopardize what they think of you by not taking their views of you into consideration when you say things?

One would hope heroes would say what they mean, mean what they say, and have the wherewithal not to worry about being liked enough to lose their ability to exercise their own free will. I am not, nor would ever want to be, a hero. The truth of the matter is that anyone, be it a kid in high school refusing to bow to the aggressions of a bully or a gay couple walking down the street holding hands, are heroes if they have guts enough to be themselves despite the inevitable backlash of unpopularity that it might bring.

downahole34 writes… does that video by that Robin Black guy piss you off?

Not at all. I don't watch a lot of TV but I stumbled upon it the other night while I was waiting for a rally race to start and thought it was great. I turned the volume off, mind you.

GabeSS writes… it's only music. no one cares about music- they just listen to it so stop making it seem like it's something it's not.

Art is dialogue. A dialogue between artist and audience, between a people and their society, between nations and cultures. It is one of the few commonalities we possess. It transcends language, religion, and politics. It acts as a mirror and an embarrassment, as it points out that our only other talent is our wanton ability to destroy.

I may have just been in a 'mediocre' rock band, but no, it's not 'just music' to me.

I was sent the following paragraph by Yvette Robb

Chart Magazine writes… "If Matthew Good posts details on his fan site, (and we know he does), about his new musical direction, but he hasn't "officially" told us or his label or another member of the media or whoever else you can think of in a position of "authority," it leaves little room for independent dissemination of this information. But without being able to question or to corroborate this news, folks like us can (and will) leap to our own conclusions."

It's safe to say that the employees of Chart Magazine may actually be so dim as to believe the announcement of shots fired in a second American Civil War on some message board operated by a 9 year old that hopes one day to become a ninja. In a business where you give hand jobs to the popular while affectionately stroking the indie scene for credibility, it's not altogether surprising that internet message boards are used by such publications in place of information that they cannot question or corroborate. At some level such an activity has to be seen for what it can become, which is inventing information freely without concern. Of course we're talking about a Canadian Music Magazine that has a very small readership and is, after all, a music magazine. And we're also talking about the presumption of identity in a digital realm where the sources of such information could be anyone from a girl in elementary school, to someone that I employ specifically to spread false information on the internet, to an employee of the magazine itself. All in all, it only reflects on the credibility of those that practice such journalistic adventurism and is a blinding indicator why the staff of such a publication isn't working somewhere where their methods would be cause for hysterical laughter amongst their colleagues. Me simply writing this, for example, will most definitely have negative ramifications and must only further fuel my deconstruction by the Canadian music media. But that's not a bad thing really.

   Pop Stars : So They're At It Again

Pop Stars. There are lucrative television advertising dollars to be had.

Pop music. That now tasteless moniker, once used to describe the likes of the Beatles, has become the representation of us at our cultural worst. Look no further than the fact that the business is more willing to put money into something such as Pop Stars instead of spending it on artists that show some promise of artistic backbone, independence of thought, and a lasting impression on our cultural landscape, for the reason why (unless your idea of a good lasting impression is The Spice Girls). It seems bizarre given the fact that our freedoms are what we champion about our society. And yet we live in a day and age where the chances of becoming such an artist are about as good as getting trapped in ice and being revived ninety years later in perfect health - whereas any fool can rise from coffee gopher to CEO in a matter of a decade with the right kind ambition and ethical flexibility.

At some point you have to come to terms with what you're being presented. And simply put, it's a television program about people making money while you're watching them try to make more.* Whether it's at the expense of the kids or not, that's what you're watching. Commerce. These kids line up and make fools of themselves so that someone else can capitalize on their emotions and embarrassment every week at a set time and hopefully an end product that sells because you've watched it all go down on television and simply must own the record. And to think that bands and artists that spend months and years in vans touring and playing in seedy shit holes have to compete with the end result of it all. That they'll play hundreds of shows for hundreds of dollars, not millions, and must exist in a corporate musical climate that has been altered adversely against them because of pre-fab projects that exist more so for the television rights than for the music they'll end up producing. All in the name of Leave It To Beaver entertainment that challenges no one, says nothing, and only contributes to the rapidly deteriorating state of the arts. It's easy enough to say 'it's a business and if you'd don't like it then go and do something else'. It's easy enough to say 'most people would kill to be a star'. But that just speaks the kid of volumes about us that we never seem to want to hear.

So I've come up with an idea for a television show. It's going to be dedicated entirely to Ron Sexsmith. You know Ron, he's one of the best song writers this country's ever produced. I say we give him his own show on Global, do away with the panel of judges, I'll donate the rights to charity, and most importantly you'll be spared choreographed dance scenes morning, noon, and night, and the fact that Much Music will ram the first new Pop Stars video down your throat so much you might as well be getting an enema.

Sound good?

[*Reality television? The reality of life is that you don't live it with a camera stuck in your face. So there goes that.]

   Like Blood Attracts Vultures

There's a war on. Granted it's a confusing war. Which makes trying to get your daily fill of death and destruction on the evening news all the more complicated. Too many panels of x-generals and admirals talking about Operation Black Adder, not enough footage of corpses being dragged through the streets behind rusted out 76 Toyota pickups. Thankfully you have Much Music to pick up the slack with daily polls such as this:

Which has to make you wonder why they bothered with all the sedated, post September 11th programming. Ratings? Television stations like ratings (entertainment channels most of all). Now don't get me wrong, Much could have just been reporting news and was simply asking you to exercise your democratic rights by filling in the above poll. Because news of that nature is, after all, extremely important. The nation needs to know who can kick whose ass (and have it be represented by a percentile). Meanwhile, somewhere in rural Laos, a child is slogging through a field when suddenly they step on an unexploded landmine, the ghost of Princess Diana is no where to be found, the foot comes up, the legs come off, and back home my money's on Kid Rock. It's no wonder professional wrestling does so well. (Which gets me thinking...*)

Celebrity boxing was on the other night and at the same time… The U.S. claimed victory in the battle for the Shah-e-Kot valley in eastern Afghanistan. 10th Mountain Division troops were dispatched to the region from Bagram Air Base near Kabul and so on. Lost of blood there I would think. Lots of 7.62's flying this way and that accompanied by plenty of shells and whatnot. It kind of makes watching Paula Jones and Tanya Harding pummel each other somewhat boring. DJ told me the other night that he glimpsed the celeb Punch-a-thon and said it made him feel as if he'd reached an all time low. Being that I was at taking the pole, I missed it. But must admit to feeling somewhat dirtied myself.

It's important to stay up to date in the world of entertainment. There's a war on after all.

[* Why not find four wrestlers, teach them to play instruments, write and record some songs for them, and have them wander the musical landscape crushing other bands like twigs. It seems to get everyone excited for some reason so why not capitalize on it? Hell, someone get me the people over at Pop Stars on the phone…]

   That Big Mouth Of His..

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. It helps with keeping you oblivious to the fact that no one gives a good god damn what you say unless it can help them sell something or it angers them (all the while making you feel like you have the power to move mountains with melodramatic clichés). Understanding. You have to give it to them in the simplest of terms to ensure understanding. And after a while you have to use diagrams because proposing even the simplest of concepts has become overwrought with the possibility of misunderstanding. Too afraid of moving or breathing hard, we live in glass houses, leaving only to go to the store to purchase Windex and paper towels. These houses, we tell ourselves, are foolproof. The ones of brick and straw and wood were easily blown down. So we've made no mistake this time. This time we'll be able to see the wolf coming and have plenty of time to use the escape tunnel.

    Your Questions. My Answers. Dial 1-900-Idiot Savant

There was a contest. No one won it. Therefore I keep the washer and dryer.

Shelly writes: What was the last book that you read?

-Alain De Botton's The Consolations Of Philosophy.

Dave writes: If you had to choose between living the rest of your life in a biosphere with just you and thirty hot girls or be the world's biggest rock star for twenty years which would you choose?

-Colour me a biologist.

Melinda writes: All you hear about is the bands you don't like. How about some Canadian bands you DO like?

-Sure. A few would be - Swollen Members, Hawklsey Workman, Rufus Wainwright, Ron Sexsmith, The Weakerthans, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, and so on.

Hanna writes: If you come to my house I will give you a sponge bath and make you soup. I will feed you soup and clean you with a sponge. I can also tickle you with a feather. What do you say?

-What kind of soup?

Jim writes: I wrote you four times and mentioned tits and didn't get one response. So who won the contest?

-You should remember for the next time you e-mail someone and go on about 'rubbing your tits' that your name (JIM) is in your e-mail address. Because that just leaves hard to shake images in peoples heads.

- I won the contest.

Amanda writes: Should I be part of the problem or part of the solution?

-Be part of the problem. Being part of the solution takes too much energy and there's no comprehensive dental and medical.

Jenn writes: 1. What did you think of the movie Labyrinth?

2. What's the best cure for insomnia?

3. What is your opinion of The Catcher in the Rye?

-Too long ago to remember really, gin and valium, good.


  This month I had intended to post a rather excellent address for this section. Unfortunately it seems that it no longer accepts mail. So I'll have to   regroup and come up with something for next month. My apologies.