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Bar Rants and the New Insanity

Music and the Pathetic Soul

*Note: This piece was written for the express purpose of finding something to complain about that had absolutely nothing to do with Barak Obama or George Bush. BSC


I’ve always loved Mozart’s music but kind of hated him. It’s a Salieri thing, I’m sure, but the fact remains. How can I hate Mozart you ask (okay, you probably didn’t but the article kind of stalls here without the rhetorical device)? Very simply, the little turd accomplished more before he turned 10 than I have in 36 years. That, and every time I turn on CBC radio, the little shit rubs my face in it.

So we can’t all be musical geniuses. I figure most of us came to that conclusion at a very early age. What of it? There are plenty of lousy musicians out there to gloat over. The problem is a good portion of them are making more money than me. Lady Gaga might be easy on the eyes but her effect on the ears certainly leaves something to be desired. If both good and bad music brings on a sense of self-loathing, where I am to turn?

I can’t turn to the movies because the musical scores always evoke the image of a blind paraplegic winning the Boston Marathon in slow-motion. If your character gets a piece of music that has horns, strings, kettle drums, a choir, and a cymbal crash (such as Hans Zimmer’s “Chevaliers de Sangreal” from The Da Vinci Code), you know you’ve just found the tomb of Mary Magdaline. Of course, I could take solace in knowing that the only person who dreams of being a blind paraplegic winning the Boston Marathon in slow-motion is a blind paraplegic and I should thank my lucky stars that I’m not, but it doesn’t help. Likewise, the existence of Mary Magdaline is a myth and any “facts” that might prove she once walked the streets of Jerusalem are tenuous at best.

I suppose I could end this little diatribe by saying that, although they aren’t Mozart, whoever wrote the score to the movie I’m watching is also more talented than I am. Lame.

However, I will end this diatribe by saying that as I write these little effusions I do have my own little score: “The Bitch is Back” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.




Dear “Rest” of Canada: Quit complaining about Vancouver complaining

We did get a lot of snow. Everytime a Vancouverite complains about how much snow we get, someone from Frozen Ass Lick, Sask, has to complain about us complaining…

“I don’t know what they’re on about! We get 40 feet of snow a day and it’s zero degrees kelvin outside!”

Okay, so that sucks. But we don’t live in Frozen Ass Lick, Saskatchewan; we live in Vancouver and shit like this unending snow isn’t supposed to happen here.

So the next time you’re out snowshoeing, or whatever it is you do during the winter, and you come home to find out that a meth addict has stolen your truck, your daughter is addicted to heroin, and your best friend just got gunned down coming home from the club, I don’t want to hear a fucking peep out of you.



Okay, so Obama is President Elect… Now what?

*The following entry is a riff of sorts, written after listening to “Propositions and Meaning,” a lecture by Prof. Brooks Landon.

Barak Obama: Change we can believe in

The President Elect’s campaign slogan seemed very straightforward. It posits, or proposes, that Obama is a man who will bring change we can believe in. Seems simple enough; however, it also posits the following:

  • We need change, but in no way defines that change.
  • Barak Obama can bring change, implying that he knows what needs to be changed and is able to do anything about it.
  • His change is the only change that can or should be believed in.

I celebrated with [most of] the World the night Barak Obama was elected the next President of the United States, but now that some of the election-night euphoria has wound down, I have some thoughts.

For instance, ask Gays and Lesbians in California who the next President is and they probably won’t give a fuck because while the U.S. was “changing” they got served a mouthful of Constitution Confetti.

The day after Obama’s inauguration, there will still be a lousy U.S. (read “World”) economy; wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; a return to Soviet-era politics in Russia; an Iranian government that would love to nuke the Jews; and handfuls of illiterate, sexually repressed, quasi-Muslims running around blowing things up. That is a lot that needs changing.

French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, once suggested that until we had a completely new language, nothing truly original would ever be written.

I would never liken Barak Obama to the Khmer Rouge but let’s not forget that they wanted change too and killed an estimated 1/3 of the Cambodian population trying to ring in that change. The problem has to do with the medium. If you are building out of wood, cement, and/or Lego blocks, you can only build on the abilities and limitations of the available material. If government is the medium, how much change can Obama truly bring about? Let’s not forget the “NAFTA Memo,” in which, an Obama aide assures the Canadian government that Obama’s speeches on revisiting NAFTA “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.” When this memo hit the newswire, the Canadian insider who leaked it was vilified by the Canadian government instead of being hailed as a voice for political honesty: “Welcome to the Old Boys’ Club, Senator. Your chair is waiting.”

I am glad that Obama, not McCain, will be the next President of the United States and I want to believe that he is sincere in his drive for change. But… when the Russians prepare for the new “Diplomatic” President by planning a government-approved dictatorship, Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. are told that they aren’t really worthy of the same rights as everybody else, and the President Elect has shown that we can believe he knows how to get elected, the word “change” seems to be more a term of hope, than it is of reality.

I for one will keep hoping for change but I will be keeping a close eye on the President Elect. Although The Mythbusters proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks, politicians sure aren’t dogs: a politician’s loyalty needs to be questioned.

Obama 2008

“Leave the Gun; Take the Cannoli”: The fun and foibles of live music

“Leave the gun; take the cannoli” is possibly the greatest throwaway line ever. Delivered beautifully by Richard S. Castellano, as the affable but deadly Peter Clemenza in The Godfather, I consider it to be one of the best lines in the history of American Cinema. But what does it mean, and, perhaps more importantly, why would I bring it up in an article about live music?

When Paulie, Vito Corleone’s ex-driver, is murdered, Clemenza and his cohorts don’t dwell on it. Paulie is never mentioned again except when Clemenza lets Sonny know that the job is done: “Paulie? You ain’t going to see him no more.” Essentially, the dirty work is behind them; they move on. The gun is the awfulness of the immediate past. The cannoli is the anticipation of a sweet future.

As a medium, live music can be as exciting as it gets. There is a thrill of instant creation, a rush. It may not easily liken itself to skydiving or bungee jumping, but there is still the anxious possibility of a moment of glory and, equally, of a mistake. Luckily for musicians, such mistakes are rarely physically fatal. The death of one’s career, however, is sometimes a very real possibility. Unlike NASCAR though, very few people attend live music shows just to see if someone fucks up; they go to see a performance. And, provided that the mistakes are small enough, people rarely notice them. It is usually the solo burden of the musicians who are often the only ones in the room who know that something has gone awry. They should never be too hard on themselves though. We, the audience, are waiting for the next note, and, perhaps more importantly, we are waiting for the musicians to supply it, which they won’t if they are dwelling on the note that didn’t quite make it.

It is physically impossible to play the same song twice performing live; humans are not exact enough to do it. Even if a song could be perfectly replicated, the live moment originally accompanying it would be gone. The art of creating is fleeting. The effect or result of the moment of creation can be recorded in some fashion (tape, canvas, ink) but the actual moment is gone forever. It is a point in a dynamic process that exists for an instant and is then disappears to whatever realm it was pulled from in the first place. Creation moves forward. Where we were is not as important as where we are going and this is why live music forgives our little mistakes: what’s done is done and rarely remembered as it actually happened. Humans are also pretty lousy recorders of history, especially when our passions are aroused. So unless the DAT’s rolling, don’t sweat it. This of course is not to say that a musician doesn’t need to try on the previous note, only to make it up to us with the next one – we’re talking about small mistakes here, not shoddy musicianship. Also, if you really can’t play, you’re doomed. “They suck” is a pronouncement more difficult to revise than “murderer” or “whore.” Changing a crowd’s mind is simple enough with some practice but getting a crowd out to see a band that “sucks” is nigh on impossible.

But the mistakes can be glorious too. Most scientific discoveries don’t happen with a “Eureka!” but with a “How the hell did that happen?” Take Radiohead’s “Creep” for example: the seemingly out of place guitar crunches before the chorus are, as guitarist, Ed O’Brien, explains, “the sound of Jonny [Greenwood] trying to fuck the song up.” In the final cut, however, it is Jonny Greenwood’s “fuck ups” that end up being the most memorable part of a very memorable song.

So here is wisdom: If you flub a note, don’t sweat it. We’re waiting for the next one. In short, “Leave the gun; take the cannoli.”

Sarah Palin vs. Amy Winehouse

Nobody should have been surprised when Amy Winehouse went to rehab. Much the same as Cobain penning a song called “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” poked a couple of holes in the “He was murdered!” theory. For the same reasons, I can’t quite understand what surprised the GOP about Sarah Palin going “rogue.”

I have no personal issue with handicapped children or single moms, but the GOP sure does. Any McCain aide who tells you with a straight face that Palin was properly vetted as a VP choice has a very long and prosperous future in politics.  And now they have turned on her. Big surprise.

My mom is a hockey mom. Apart from my mom, I have known plenty others. Simply put, some hockey moms are great organizers while others, and I would hazard they are the majority here, are extremely divisive and volunteer only to make the season better for their children. Sarah Palin, I believe, falls into the latter group. But so what? Who doesn’t get into politics to make life better for their children?

It appears that because the GOP couldn’t win claiming that Obama was Black, muslim, and an anti-semite, they need to have lost because Sarah Palin is a gold-digging woman who spent too much on clothes. She went “rogue”? We’re lucky she didn’t go Rove. What could you possibly expect when you choose a “maverick”? Someone please mail a thesaurus to Republican Party Headquarters.

I think we will see Palin become the new Martin Luther, nailing her protests to the door of the Watergate Hotel, causing a schism in the GOP and finaly separting the power base far enough that the two sides can see each other clearly. On one hand, you have world power brokers with millions in the bank and a convenient belief in the Nazarene, just big enough to justify their imperialism. On the other, are the “simple” folk, who truly believe in Jesus and couldn’t raise $1,000,000,000 between them.

Palin brought smalltown America to the polls and is now being turned on because the Republican ticket lost. Any hockey mom in the world can tell you why a team blames one of its members for the whole team’s loss: the team isn’t really a team and the coach was so dead set on winning that he forgot the basics of the game.

Palin and Winehouse’s careers are on an even par right about now but I think the future will be kinder to Palin than Winehouse. The Baron News Network (BNN) Projection is as follows:

Palin, having tasted the limelight and Neiman Marcus won’t be happy living in reruns of “Northern Exposure” anymore. I predict that soon we will see her on her own Fox News talkshow, doing segments on how Amy Winehouse is poisoning the minds of our children, the pregnant ones too!


Here’s Hoping: Why no one will try (well, succeed) to kill [President] Obama

It is incredibly hard to kill a US president. Well, at least it is these days. If Kennedy had had a hardtop and Lincoln cheaper seats, US political history would read much differently. These days, we hear chatter about Barak Obama and assassination attempts. I will officially go on record as saying that this is something that most Americans don’t need to worry about because certain Americans get paid to go to work to worry about it.
When John Hinckley Jr. took a shot at Reagan (six, actually), he managed to hit everything but Reagan, the President’s wounds being caused by a ricochet. Though this in no way makes James Brady feel better, I can guarantee you that the next day at the Treasury Department, the meetings held within the Secret Service weren’t about crossing their fingers and wishful thinking that it wouldn’t happen again; policies were changed. The Secret Service investigates every threat made against the President of the United States (given that a Google word search of “assassination US President” will bring up this blog entry, they’ll be reading it too. Hope you like it guys.).
Now it doesn’t take a huge leap of faith or imagination to concede that there are a number of “groups” in the US that would love to take a shot at Mr. Obama (I’ll hold off on the official title until it is, in fact, official), but with that being said, I highly doubt their capacity to achieve one. Although it seems that, as of late, American intelligence agencies operate much like Patrick Roy plays goal (doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes but the ones he does are huge), I think they will have this situation under control.
It is safer for a US president to hop out of Cadillac One for a coffee than it is to hold a rally. Sure, there is more security in place at a rally, but no one expects the President to stop for a coffee. Assassins don’t like surprises and are usually ill-equipped to deal with them. Also, anyone who stalks a president for any amount of time, hoping for a coffee run, would be found out and dealt with.
On the other hand, there are governments who’d love to take a swipe at the US President but wouldn’t for the same reason the IRA didn’t go after a member of the Royal Family after the Mountbatten incident. If the US has proved anything in the last eight years, it is that it is not wise to piss off a nation that will trounce on you for the sheer joy of it. I concede that the Americans haven’t actually won a war in almost 60 years but they sure excel at killing people. Plus, killing a US president is an act of war that all western nations would probably rally behind: people don’t like people who pick fights.
I guess the long and the short of it is very simple: those who want to can’t and those who can probably wouldn’t. It is just not worth it.
As far as Mr. Obama is concerned, if he isn’t the “Candidate of Change,” his own political machinations will kill off a long career faster than a high-powered rifle round. Whatever the results, I wish the man the best of luck and offer my sincere congratulations.


All Hallow’s Eve: Donning masks to shed them

Deciduous trees shed their leaves to procreate, put organic material in the soil surrounding them, and to save themselves from the extra weight of winter snow. Interestingly enough, human beings (supposedly the smarter of the two) do exactly the opposite: we don masks to procreate, that which we shed rarely fertilizes the soil, and no human has survived winter by standing naked in the face of its force.

This Friday is Halloween, the night on which our European ancestors donned masks to scare away evil spirits. On Friday night, I, and a lot of people I know, will don masks to ingest evil spirits. Halloween is a night of fantasies: those that give us pleasure and those that frighten us to the core of our being.

Masks, we all wear them, and usually not on Halloween. The masks we wear on Halloween are the cheap, plastic variety we employ to countermand the very real and serious ones we wear daily.

Passion is allowed to run wild when anonymity is in play. Rare are the nights when we are allowed to be anonymous; society doesn’t condone it. Licenses, passes, and permits are the order of the day and the documents of our lives. As far as the government is concerned, I am not a face; I am a series of interlinked numbers that tell the story of my life, a sentient barcode.

As we live our lives, whether we are conscious of it or not, we don several masks. Though deceptively passive, so repressive is the system that our only means our maintaining the self is to hide it from everyone, hence the masks. Halloween allows us to regain some sense of the anonymity we crave. By pretending to be someone else, whether we are seeking pleasure or exorcising our fears, we live free for a night. Even if that “someone else’ is who we truly are.

Happy Halloween.