Yeah, I know Open Source Everything is too radical for the masses and will never manifest in my lifetime but I feel its rumblings. I can imagine that some day we will open source food, water, shelter, electricity, transportation, education, art, music. Love. More than feeling, I’ve been riding the rumblings ever since I ran away to join the punk rock circus. Busy playing music, we didn’t talk politics all the time but knew we were teetering upon the precipice of revolution. It fueled us. Fed us. And now, is a quantum leap or perhaps even a new paradigm upon us at last? Did our caterwauling lead to anything?
As we lament the glacial pace of change, it seems we can’t keep up as it pertains to media. The subject of vinyl arose this past week. People’s feelings about vinyl reveal their feelings about change. Adapt or die, right? But, resourceful to the bone, we find ways to make the old new again. I kept my turntable but moved around so much it was impossible to hold onto all my records. I still mourn the loss of some LPs like deceased friends. Apparently, there is a resurgence in vinyl. Check out the Vinyl Engine. Our friends, the scintillating Petunia & the Vipers just released an album and I hear that young people are only interested in vinyl these days. They may acquire mp3s but when it comes to buying, crave cover album artwork and liner notes. Just like we did!
And then there’s video, which has evolved to the point of digital. I don’t regret the demise of tape, revel in the mobility of the camera, to the point of one-in-every-cell phone, hence the rise of citizen journalism, Arab Springs, etc.
The subject of videotape and the schism between several old school punk rock camps roared to the fore recently when a Mongrelzine article quoted my Zellots band mate Christine deVeber as saying Continue reading →
Where’s the poem? Swamped this week screening submissions for Visible Verse Festival 2011 and up to my eyeballs in experimental film, which happens every year. Without being semantical, I have to say poetic is not the same as visible verse, or a video poem or a cine-poem, or whichever term you prefer. I think I just got semantical.
Still laughing and sharing photos from Kevin Chong’s book launch of new novel Beauty and Pity at Vancouver’s infamous Penthouse nightclub, the first and likely the last time I’ll ever set my ass down in there. I was surprised; the interior does not reflect the fading building facade. Neither did the carpet reek of stale beer, wall of framed 8×10 black and white celebrity headshots only one of its charms. Anyway, I’ve spent enough time in strip clubs. Bartending was the only job I could find in New York City when I resided, or rather survived a year there in the 80s. Man, it was a tough town, nothing like it is now, inhabitable. A friend of a friend got me a job at the Baby Doll, a topless bar on White Street, just down from the Mudd Club, where we used to convene after our shifts ended at 2 AM, or at the sushi bar imbibing hot sake, which goes down well in the company of bitterly cold Manhattanites. Club management kept trying to get me to strip too. I was quite miserable after my band broke up and told them, “No thanks, I don’t miss the stage that much.” I only had to watch the dancers—what was left of them—flaunt it, appalled by the Wall Street fat cat CEOs and bankers turned on by such pathetic junkies. No way I was going to wind up down there.
But back to Vancouver. I love book launches that are beyond readings. Kevin commissioned a book trailer, directed and produced by mutual friends Pam Bentley and Tara Flynn and it was hilarious. The book jacket states “Malcolm Kwan is a slacker twenty-something Asian-Canadian who is about to embark on a modeling career.” Kevin had Owen Kwong, a real male model, portray him. Later during the reading, host Charles Demers applied makeup to Kevin’s face, and not expertly, bestowing him with a magnificent unibrow. Kevin admirably kept reciting throughout the lipstick and purple wig application. What an event! And so glamorous. I’m enjoying the book immensely, can recommend it.
Hairiness; much hairiness! Who has time for spring cleaning with all that’s been going on? I’m still recovering from the premiere of Susanne Tabata’s punk rock movie, Bloodied But Unbowed. I couldn’t decide whether, or how to wear the Subhumans-Incorrect Thoughts, Rock Against Racism and Avengers buttons I dug out of my collection. Hey, I didn’t brandish badges then, why start now? I didn’t shave my head or wear a black leather jacket either. I couldn’t afford one! I stuffed the relics in a pocket to share with my Vancouver punk rock homies.
I was delighted to see former band members Conny Nowe, drummer of my first group, the all-girl Zellots-who just happened to be visiting from Toronto-and The 45s Brad Kent and Randy Rampage. Conny’s been playing music, currently in an outfit called Swamperella with renowned bassist Rachel Melas. I marveled at how marvelous she looked as we chatted before the movie started rolling.
I’ve run into Randy a few times over the years but hadn’t seen Brad since I was nine months pregnant, my son, now 15. I’d been walking down the street near 12th and Clark in Vancouver when I heard a voice braying “Hollywood and Western,” the scene of a notorious east end rehearsal space the 45s used. I turned around and there was Brad! The meeting was a little awkward and fleeting but at Thursday night’s after-party, he came and sat with me, gave me a big hug and apologized profusely about breaking up the 45s on the eve of our gig with PiL at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. “I’ve been wanting to say that to you all these years.”
Canucks won their do or die match against Chicago! I don’t understand why they can’t play that well consistently. I suppose beating the Hawks in two more games is within the realm of possibility but seems unlikely. Funny, I try to ignore hockey but you know you’ve got it bad when you find yourself actually reading the Sports section. I always manage to get caught up in the excitement, recently and entirely sucked into Team Canada-Olympics games. I can’t help it; it’s in my DNA according to my long gone mother Corona Beliveau, second cousin to the great and beloved Montreal Canadian Jean Beliveau, still going strong, last I heard.
They do share the same thick, dark hair and good looks but I took everything Ma said with a grain of salt. She was also Irish, a real queen of blarney and consummate storyteller. I’m convinced it’s one of the reasons I am a poet. She also said my grandmother Genora Beliveau, would throw empty mickey bottles at the opposing team’s players, ejected from more than a few games. Grandma was quite the spitfire, sadly dying of cancer when I was just a toddler. On that note, Happy Mother’s Day! My boys took me out to dinner, a nice break from the routine.
I did go out Saturday night though, to W2 and Jamie Reid’s book launch for Prez, his Lester Young book, Prez being Billy Holiday’s nickname for the legendary saxophonist. Kim Goldberg opened with a performance of poetry from her book Red Zone, shining an unerring spotlight on Nanaimo’s homelessness and urban decay. Pete (Trower) read some of his musical jazz poems and Jamie read from his lyrical homage, backed sublimely by Craig McCaul on guitar, Niko Friesen and Jen Hodge on bass. I met fellow ROCKsalter George Payerle and got to visit with pals Daniela Elza, Kagan Goh, Warren Dean Fulton, Shannon Rayne, Carol Reid and Kedrick James, a superb master of ceremonies. A fabulous evening and as Jamie said, “Dancing until the dust rose in clouds from the floor, / they put sweet rhythms into Lester’s horn.” Pete remarked he was happy to see young people playing jazz. It’s not going away. Jazz will always have its aficionados, just like punk rock, the Vancouver breed immortalized in Susanne Tabata’s Bloodied But Unbowed, premiering at DOXA Documentary Film Festival this Thursday. I’m sure to run into some of my punk rock homies though DOA is on the road, not surprisingly. Susanne got in touch with me at one point for an interview as I was in the 45s with Randy Rampage and Brad Kent but the meeting never happened. Story of my life, I swear! Surely I’m not the only one. Reportedly there are over 100 hours of out-takes.