Album Delays

I’m taking way too much time finishing my album. And what takes place after that? I’m stuck on the final song, “Dear Dog”, which is a play on XTC’s original 1980’s hit, “Dear God”. But if you don’t really know the original, you won’t have any idea that I’m playing around with it.
It’s funny working on a record all by yourself — I know of several other musicians currently in that situation. Too much perfection, too many choices. There’s an expression that captures what’s going on here perfectly, and it’s called “working in a vacuum”. The whole world races on by while you work on your art in the confines of your basement. Nobody knows! Nobody cares!
I want to play many shows after this, now that I’ll have a much more current kick-ass record. Minus packaging, which is a couple of thousand bucks I don’t have. I’m looking for those mystical fairy godmothers. I promise to leave a tooth under my pillow!

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.

Amazing Book

So damn busy. Such a short life! That’s the way I’m feeling now. I’m trying to do as much as I can as efficiently as I can. But somehow, it’s still not enough. Isn’t that how many of us feel in our crazy world?
However, I am reading an absolutely amazing book right now, called Our Posthuman Future. I have time to read it on the subway every day. Francis Fukuyama is the author. This book talks about a lot of the heavy societal and political stuff I worry about, but it focuses on biotechnology and how it has and will affect us. The book is so well written, that I am having clear and definite glimpses of the future that are beyond things I could have come up with on my own. And I think about our society’s future a lot! The book made me realize that in any case, disasters or not, the future is both frightening and enlightening.
So how’s that for a must-read?

Living in the Past?

I haven’t written in awhile. Too damn busy. The show I worried about in my last entry was actually a decent success. Good attendance, lots of fun. In the last couple of weeks, I had a musician buddy of mine visit from Victoria (Canada), I played an additional show with my Fortunates bandmates joining me on stage, I rehearsed a lot, and tried to do some more recording. I barely had any time to do the recording. Thankfully, I borrowed an electric guitar from a bandmate, so I’ll be adding the finishing touches with it on a few songs.
The problem with recording your own stuff to the level of perfection I take it to is that it takes a long time. Especially if you have a lot of other non-musical stuff going, which I do. I know from experience that many other musicians have progressed to an entirely new creative level by the time their music actually gets put onto a cd. I have so many more new songs at this point! You psyche yourself out thinking, “Man, this stuff is old.” It just takes so much time to bring independent recordings up to the level they need to be at in order to compete with big-budget, multi-personnel productions. Film and T.V. is the same way. And those efforts cost even more moola. But as a wise baby once said, things can be accomplished in baby steps.

Pay to Not Play

I’m into the new year, and it’s becoming painfully cold here in Toronto. It feels like I’m pulling teeth (other people’s) trying to get people to come out to my little show tomorrow nite. Early January? In this cold? No thanks, bud. No matter, I’m totally focused on finishing the record this month. Almost there.
I got a rejection letter today from my application to play the Winterfolk Festival. Thirty bucks down the drain. I so love paying to not even get to play a show. Hey, that’s a new concept. “Paying to Play” was bad enough, but I think we’re at new low with “Paying to NOT Play”. Har, har. I wonder if I should bother with these various entries? I’ve probably spent a couple of hundred bucks to date on packages for such things. The packages are good methinks, and the music’s good. Hmm, I must be screwing something up. Or is it politics?
But I’ll show them. One day, see, they’ll be paying me to play their little festivals and contests, praying for my application to arrive so they can feel good about themselves! Yeah, that’s it. Then I’ll be all snobby-like, and say, “Oh, you want me to come and play your little festival? Your TEENSY-WEENSY little contest? BEGONE, BEGGARS! AWAY WITH YOUR WICKEDNESS!!!”



Or maybe I’ll just apply again like a good musician.

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.