All entries in the personal category

Bryan Adams — by force

Looking for a place to just sit and relax in Toronto’s Eaton Centre today, I ended up in a Starbucks. I was trying to get away from it all. There are so few places to sit peacefully downtown without paying for something. But having paid for the privilege (1 peppermint tea, 1 evil cookie), I was still unable to relax — Starbucks was playing the latest record by Bryan Adams from start to finish.
Don’t get me wrong — I used to be a fan of Bryan Adams. But his latest stuff is just awful. Adams, like many artists who have seen the big time, usually end up putting out soul-less music because they have nothing more to strive for.
I bristled with discomfort several times while being forced to listen. The music had no life, no memorable sounds or arrangements, and all the musicians who played on it sounded like they were just going through the motions.
I like to call this sort of music “non-music”. Currently, you can refer to anything by Sting, current Celine Dion, current Alanis Morisette. All these artists have also released ballads (the most common sign of an ailing songwriter) — telling of how wonderful life is, how we all have to look through the smog, and how we will see that everything is beautiful if we just think about it. I have to agree with that in fact, but I can’t help feeling uncomfortable when I hear it bundled in a lifeless song.
But my personal conclusion after listening to Bryan Adams today was this: there is just way too much mediocrity in everything. (Yeah, I know you know that, but it really stood out today.)
Is it grooming us all into mindless entertainment slaves?

Vegetarian Food Fair

Yesterday I volunteered at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair. I’ve attended this fine show at Toronto’s Harbourfront for many years. What a great event for somebody like me! The volunteer part was easy — you can choose to do a 3 hour shift doing any number of things as a minimum contribution. That’s what I did, selling the Toronto Vegetarian Association‘s t-shirts, buttons, stickers, and paraphenalia at one of their tables. They were super-organized, including supplying our table with a cell phone with key people’s phone numbers properly programmed in for you to buzz in case you needed help. And everything was labeled brilliantly. Actually, it was pretty anal. Perhaps being anal comes with being a vegetarian? I can be an anal vegetarian sometimes. Hmm…
Many veggie-minded vendors and attendees were there, and I sampled a lot of food.
Oh yeah, I was asked to be a performing musician at the Fair a couple of months previously. But even though they had planned to have a lot of things set up, they did NOT include a sound system. I decided not to play because nobody would be able to hear me playing my meek little songs unplugged outdoors. So much for playing my 4 veggie-oriented songs to a target audience.

Beatles Cover Night

Tonight I went out to see Bullseye Records‘ live performance of a new double-cd of all Beatles covers. It was a pretty pleasant night — nice to see a big Beatles band with genuine horn section. I bought the $20 cd. It looks like a kooky compilation. 50 covers! I’ll let you know how good it is…

Health Matters

Unbelievably, I am bed-ridden at home today with the flu. I say “unbelievably”, because I have literally not been sick enough to want to stay in bed since the dreaded Norwalk Virus Ontario outbreak I suffered from a year-and-a-half ago.
It made me sort of think, “Hmm, everybody else around me has been sick way more often. How can that be?”
Perhaps it is because of my clean-ass lifestyle with no drugs, no booze, no smoking, vegetarian or vegan eating, and as much organic food as I can get my hands on. I mean, wouldn’t that make some sense? I have not too many other explanations.

The Death of Tooker Gomberg

Gosh, I was extremely upset at hearing of the suicide of activist Tooker Gomberg this week. I shook his hand and chatted with him once, and had seen and read about him many times. This guy was a real-life go-getter for all things green. He hated cars and passionately rode his bike everywhere. He made friendly political stunts and promoted forward-thinking lifestlyes. He actually made changes, too. To find out he killed himself drew very particular feelings from me. Since I, too, suffer from depression, I must admit that I related to him on more levels than I feel I should admit to. I’m sure that the thoughts he harboured also course through my own mind. It sometimes seems hopeless trying to change things to the degree that our planet needs. It’s one of those fights that the majority of humans don’t really care too much about. It’s against a passive and ignorant population. But mark my words: I don’t disrespect anybody in that statement. The phenomenon simply happens to be the result of public education and influences.
People in general only react to immediate and tangible occurrences. For example, in Toronto, if there is a dog attack, there will be police, ambulance, and animal control all upon your doorstep within 10 minutes of the reporting phone call. This is because a dog bite is something immediate. People can see it and react to it right away. There’s nothing subtle or hidden about it. And of course, it threatens the “all-important” human being.
But take the destruction of an entire ecosystem — say, a forest. The only officials to show up are the police, and they only come to enforce the forest’s destruction and keep away its eco-happy defenders. Unfortunately for the forest, humans don’t think about the long-term harm to themselves, let alone the other creatures killed instantly in the process.
I firmly believe that this backwards thinking comes from our ease in turning a blind eye to things that don’t affect us immediately. A polluting truck, food containing steroids, or a lake you can’t swim in are other examples. Incredibly, most people would agree that these things are all “bad”, but they do not threaten them with the immediacy of a dog bite. Therefore, they usually don’t care enough to do anything about it.
So, I think Tooker Gomberg took his own life because he couldn’t hack the relentless and never-ending frustration with the awful way that our world works. I’m amazed that most of us do.

Subway Dreams

I’ve been reading quite a bit on the subway. I’m reading a third book in as many weeks. This is definitely one of the great advantages to taking public transit. What else does one have to do when sitting patiently for half an hour? I sometimes pine for my geeky self to be connected to the ‘net with an interface of some sort — it would be a little more proactive for me. But that choice will come, eventually. See how wireless interaction is already at our fingertips in major cities with cell phones. Too bad the subways aren’t wired. Although I do have reservations about wireless data streams radiating all over the place. Did you know that you can pass out if you stand right in front of a cell phone tower? Cell phones work on the same principles as microwave ovens.
But a book is still amazing. My favourite genres are sci-fi and sci-fact, so I’m often engrossed in the future history of some universe or another. But I’ll leave the “Teach Yourself to Speak Vulcan” to the real die-hards.

I, Oddity

So I’ve got this day job. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet in my blog. For nearly 2 months now, I’ve been working in a white-collar office environment, and I crunch numbers and make reports all day. Pseudo-accounting, really. Recently, I told a couple of people there that I was vegetarian, and then someone who I didn’t tell asked me about being vegetarian. OK, so they gossiped about me being a vegetarian. No surprise. That’s the usual. But later, I was chatting with a few employees, and I told them how I come to work with my own distilled water and add chlorophyll and peppermint to it, to give it flavour and prevent it from leeching minerals from my body (as distilled water does). Well, that was it. Their faces went from smiles — to NERVOUS smiles — you know the ones? Um, OK, that’s a bit much, they thought. You could see the mental notes scrawled in their brains.
A third thing happened a few days ago when I went to a bar with my band buddies. In bars, I usually order hot water with lemon if they don’t have any herbal tea. If the waitress doesn’t make a face, then it’s usually the company I’m with. I usually end up having to explain myself.
And finally, today, yet another person at work noticed that I had visited Starbucks, and he thought I had a coffee (it was a tea). He said, “Oh, you’re being BAD!” with an very certain emphasis on “BAD” that told me things.
Now, I know he was joking, I told him I knew he was joking, and he’s actually a super guy, but I said to him, “You know, it doesn’t matter what you’re into — a way of life, a religion, or something that’s different from the average person. But the fact that people just can’t help pointing out where someone fails in their supposedly well-defined lifestyle never ceases to amaze me. I believe it’s one of the great downfalls of mankind.”
He was quiet then, anyway.

The Night Before the Night Before…

OK, Christmas Eve is tomorrow, when I celebrate and host it for my mom’s side of the family. Then I go up north to my girlfriend’s family for a couple of days. I write now because It’s been over a week since I wrote last, and it might be a few days until I have the time again.
I gave my notice at my job today since there are few guaranteed paid hours there for the new year. I accepted an alternate office job for January. It will have acceptable pay and day hours so I can play in the evenings and weekends without interference. It will allow me to master my record, put packages together, and basically fund subsequent minor steps required to make things happen for me. It will also relieve the stress I’ve had paying for rehearsals with The Fortunates!
I’m psyched for the hopeful completion of my record between the days of Dec. 27th and Jan. 5th, when I will be able to focus for the first time in months. Yee-HAR!

A Meeker Christmas Comes

In the last week, I had a little unplugged show here in Toronto, recorded and programmed drums for my buddy in Victoria, and went to a few Christmas parties. All fun. It seems that the general mood of Toronto is pretty good at the moment. People are buying things, which lifts the retailers’ spirits, and there aren’t any critical world news items upsetting the minds and moods of Joe and Jane Average.
It’s kind of nice, actually. No major stresses. But it looks like I will be hosting my entire family in my apartment for Christmas, which does introduce certain cleaning and decorating stresses.
Thankfully, this year my family members are only giving one nice gift to one single other family member, which was chosen randomly out of a hat. Let me tell you what a relief this was for me and for all other parties. I’ve heard more and more on the streets that people are really cutting back on the gift giving this year, too. A sign of where things are at economically, perhaps? The spirituality prevails, however. Nobody’s cancelling Christmas because they can’t afford gifts.

Big Back

I’m getting a big back from all the lifting at this driving job. What a physical workout! Bending over and over all day and night. I worked 12 hours yesterday straight.
I’ve been selling some of my Christmas CD’s with mild success this week through people I know and through strangers. This makes me happy. If I had a Powerbook and an iPod, I could just walk around town, play the songs for strangers, and unload CD’s. Hmm… where’s that extra few thousand bucks? 🙂
I started rehearsing for my unplugged show next week. I suck! Not enough practice as a solo artist! At least I’m getting a big back…