Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Confrontation

The show comes to an end, there's a fight here and there, bottles litter the Italian Cultural Center's floor and we're ready to party. Why don't we just wait for the band to invite us backstage? Yeah. Wait a bit more. OK, the party is happening.....later. Right, we'll drive there. By now the place is fairly empty and I sense a bit of trouble outside. My friends and I head out to my Pontiac Ventura and we notice a lot of drunken belligerent teenagers with mullets and bad attitudes milling about. Oh well, it's East Van, it's to be expected. Someone shouts out "hey faggot!" Then there's a lot of nasty threats and vitriol aimed at us. I turn around to disparage their lack of class and am rewarded with a volley of beer bottles. Oh boy. Now I'm pissed. If they hit my prized Pontiac with a bottle of Molson fucking Canadian there will be hell to pay. My friends however look dimly upon this sudden display of bravado and hustle me to the car. We're outnumbered 5 to 1. Beer bottles continue to rain down, and one hits the car. I see red, but am dragged into the car and urgently told to "drive!". I'll drive all right, right over the frikkin' heads of these morons. The same morons who are now trying to kick the windows of the car in. Swooping around the parking lot in a wide arc I aim for one knot of thugs who happen to be in the way of the exit. They scatter and just as we scream out of the parking lot there's a crash and something extremely hard smashes through the side window, bounces off my head and lands on the dash. A well placed rock. Hmmmm, there's glass in my eye and yet I must find a way to outrace the hoodlums in their hopped up Camaros and Challengers. We eventually lose them and vow eternal revenge. I drive to the hospital and get the glass out of my face and eye (no permanent damage), talk to the police (they offer no sympathy or hope of justice), and drop my stalwart homies off. A thing to laugh about for years to come. Over a beer or 3.

There's a postscript to this story, the young lady who had intrigued me that night actually witnessed the battle and later helped me to secure insurance funds from our friendly provincial insurance carrier. I once again would like to point out my lameness in not pursuing a friendship with her. If you happen on this blog and recognize yourself, I thank you once again 1000 times over.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Boo!

Halloween 1980. It's dark and raining and my friends and I are off to the Italian Cultural Center for a night of Vancouver's finest Punk/New Wave. My friend Cathy's boyfriend is the bass player for the Young Canadians and there might be an after party, so all in all it looks to be a rockin' night out. The place is packed and the bands are pumping it out. We've snuck in some liquor, some weed and it's good times all right. I spot the girl I've had a crush on for the last few months, but lame out and don't go talk to her. She's so damn cute in her mini-skirt and motorcycle boots, pixie haircut and braces.
Later in the night I notice a few people show up who don't quite fit in with the scene, drunken metal heads who obviously are looking for trouble. Excellent, I haven't seen a good fight in some time. At one point the police show up to check things out and a young punkette complains to them that some of the interlopers are threatening mayhem and carnage. The cops don't seem interested. The vibe becomes increasingly menacing. Part 2 of this story will be coming soon. Yeah, check it out.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Disconnect

I'm curious about people who lead an 'alternative' lifestyle and have had a long running fascination with the scheme, so what's my point? Why does it seem so self indulgent and lame? What's the alternative to a priviledged life? A life of plenty compared to most of the world? We all have choices to a certain degree, my choice the last few years has been to greet each new day with a fervent curiosity and a modicum of 'what if?' I've been through days that were black and always a sense of things not being finished pulled me out of it. My friends, being afflicted with a morbid self absorption keeps the colors fairly bland. Why, what is it about a certain frame of reference that lends itself to such a predicable outcome? Here's your uniform now where are you? Unfair I know, I'm using a narrow brush. It's just that most uniforms are ill fitting.
Asian Dub Foundation.......Scientist.........Black Uhuru......Linton Kwesi Johnson....M.I.A...............Public Enemy............Noam Chomsky. Maximum exposure, shed light on the exporters of oppression. Represent.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The New Church

There's so many rituals we go through in a day. Somewhere in the back of our soul we know we're going through the motions, but the comfort it brings us keeps us moving.
I guess it's too late to warn you all that these dispatches from my PSYCHE are unedited and unabridged. There's no filler or propaganda, no point and no reason. Bold claims, I know, but I can back them up. Through the power of memory manipulation I will enthrall you with risque tales and bawdy adventures. There is no going back.
My favorite gig right now would be M.I.A. and The Streets. I'm still not anywhere close to listening to too much M.I.A. You know how to tell that new music is 'right'? You look back at your formers selves and they're all dancing to the same beat. Beauty.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Very Military

There's always been lots of Brits in Vancouver, God love em'. In the heady days of 1979 you could cut the faux British accents at any given punk show with a knife. Why did we adopt a cockney slur after a beer or two when most of us were solid Canadian citizens? From the suburbs. Easy, we loved the bands from England, to most of my friends they personified 'punk' even though we loved the New York scene as well. I brought my Clash and Stiff Little Fingers (an Irish band...happy St. Paddy's Day) over to a friend's one day and played him a few songs. He was polite about it and mentioned how 'English' the bands sounded. And angry. The word got around that I had really lost the plot by moving downtown and hanging out with artists and punks. I suppose settling down in North Vancouver and rocking out to Loverboy just did'nt look like an option to me. Sure there were a lot of posers in the scene and the hip hierarchy could be a bit tedious, but like any scene in any city on the planet it was fun, exciting and educational. It's cool to be cool.
Whoa, the Bloc Party's playing in town in a few days! $13.00. Please don't let them be sold out. Puh-leez. I'm there, you? Ciao.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lock Step Groove

Gang of Four's coming to town. I missed them when they were opening for the Buzzcocks so many years ago. Or maybe that show was cancelled. It was many years ago my children. Well, maybe I'll go see them this time. This time counts for all. Gang of Four. Check them out, along with the Pop Group and The Swell Maps. Just do it. Ciao.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Is it morning yet?

Do you feel it? Things are slowly shifting. I’m in love. With an idea. Well she’s an actual person. Maya or as she’s also known as, M.I.A. Where to begin? Deep jungle siren. Deity sun shower. Carnal Karma queen. Brown river goddess sweet as blood. Sometimes it’s the beat, or the voice or the attitude or some small indefinable nuance in the music that puts you in the right place. An association, a memory, a warm body that’s no longer there. Brilliant.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Fatal Mistake

We all hope to experience that one transforming moment in our lives, when the untangled patterns wrap themselves around us and won't let go. Some of us want to gorge ourselves on it, some of us build a shrine to it, and then there are those who can see beyond it. Some of our breakthroughs are on a small scale.
You fit in, you're on the dance floor, you smile and everyone smiles back at you. The music has caught you and you are no longer in control. Light falls on you and you know the taste of God on your tongue.
Did that happen? To you? What was it like?
Music can carry you through troubled times, it does not question you, the only payment you have to make is time. Amen.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

That's Mr. Ranter to you.

It's hard to be a somber revolutionary when the sun is shining and people are out soaking up the simple pleasures of life. How many of us are affected by decisions made by overly serious thinkers, people who don't get out in the fresh air often enough? People who are convinced that they know what’s best for us, whose convictions blind them to common sense or shared experiences. Fuck them and the arrogance they breathe. Fuck their tortured logic, their skewed righteousness. Will we ever be free of the dictates of self-appointed experts and priests of the new revelation? I doubt it. Fuck them.
On a lighter note, a fellow is helping me track down an elusive Cowboys International CD. They were one of my faves back in the day. I believe Kieth Levene who went on to play with Public Image Ltd. was on their first album 'Original Sin'. It's worth the trouble to find a copy because IMHO they sounded exactly what a band from that era and location should have sounded like. Very British, slightly aloof, a little disdainful and bang on musically.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Down in the Tube Station

The Underground. A place of refuge in troubled times. A cocoon. My experience with musicians in the independent scene is that they enjoy a bit of cross pollenization. The fertile ground of the art/punk/D.I.Y. milieu produces some of the most diverse music I've had the pleasure of being exposed to. Some of it smells, some of it wafts it way up to the streets of commerce, some of it takes you on a long strange journey.
One night after seeing Captain Beefheart at the Commodore Ballroom, my friend Jim and I made our way down to the waterfront to visit his friends living in an old brick warehouse. Unadorned, unkempt, no yuppies allowed. We sat around a rehearsal space, talking about what else, music. During the discussion someone got up and started laying down complex drum patterns on a kit in the corner, then someone else plugged in their guitar and proceeded to scrape and scratch out an alien semaphore. Jim was a bassist, and soon they had him up too, plucking along, doing a Lee Scratch Perry tribute. It all started to gel and for the next hour we all sat transfixed as this ad hoc ensemble pushed and pulled one another. I'm not sure if they followed up on their late night promises to jam together again, but I had a great time and heard something that may never be recreated.
The Captain Beefheart show was beyond my expectations, it washed over us with a magic gumbo of free-jazz, swampy blues, avante garde squawking and punky insolence. We loved it. We didn't know what it was, but we loved it. Captain Beefheart was at least twice as old as most of us in the room, but that wasn't an issue, not in the least. It rocked our world.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Necrostalgia

We kill the past, we bring it back to life occasionally, we reshape and recast it, pump it full of irony. We're in love with the past, but long past the infatuation stage. The past is the new present.

'Rock against Racism' was a movement in the latter part of the 1970s that combined punk's vitriol and vigor with reggae's sense of utter righteousness and protest. There were race riots in the cities of England those days, burning buildings, shots ringing out in the night. Politicians pitting cultures against one another to weaken the threat of immigration. So artists hooked up and got people out to dance and piss and yell and say 'fuck you' to the powers. Maybe the protests are a bit more subtle nowadays. Average people quietly working against the forces of evil. Amen.

OK, you'd think I was on their payroll, but I can't stop listening to 'Silent Alarm' by the Bloc Party. They've borrowed from the past to create something fresh. I remember (he says, leaning over to make a point), the first time the DJ played 'Anthrax' by Gang of Four at the Luv-a-fair, and 'Careering' by Public Image Ltd. That was some funky shit. Oh how my eyes well up with tears at the thought of my post-punk youth, hanging out at the Laundromat or the Smilin' Buddha. Getting thrown in jail and escaping near death in the depths of East Vancouver. All these stories are bubbling to the surface, soon to be committed to the page. Ciao.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Blackest Crow

I've noticed large murders of crows flying around the city lately. Maybe it's a harbinger of troubled times. More troubled than the present spiritual morass we're in right now.
I'll get to the music shortly, but I want to talk about an encounter I had today. You see, a few weeks ago a young lady caught my eye and I must admit that I'm smitten. For such a delicate lass she has a firm handshake, and I'll bank on that being a sign of resoluteness. She is gorgeous. Today as I left the warm embrace of my favorite Jewish deli, I spotted her, mere yards away. What was she doing here? She lives miles from the city, why is she here? She spotted me....and a smile came over both of us. (Am I waxing eloquent??) Well, ladies and gentlemen, Spring may be a few weeks off, but I can't wait for Spring. Winter will suffice.
Oh yeah, music. Everything old is new again. New is the new old. I love the Bloc Party, damn them for bringing a salty tear to my eye. Damn their youth and their cunning. Damn them!