Archive for the ‘Jian Ghomeshi’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax, NS (February 13, 2015).

This is the most current solo show from anybody on the RheostaticsLive webpage.

Bidiniband’s third album came out in 2014 and this show chooses from it pretty heavily.

The show starts (Dave sounds either like he has a bit of a cold or he’s just worn out) with Dave saying “We’re going to start with a song about the cold, because it is.  Fucking snow, eh  Wow.”  “The Grey Wave” has great chord changes in the chorus.  It is a slow folkie song about cold and snow.  I like that he whispers “let’s go” before the buzzy but quiet solo.  The chorus comes out of that fairly rocking (a least for this set).

Dave continues, “I have some news.  Last night I was offered cocaine in the bathroom of the Alehouse.”  (Don, on drums, whispers, “in exchange for what?”).  Dave: “I think the guy just wanted to be my friend.  He was a bit of an asshole.  Cocaine is the one drug I think where when people offer it to you and when you say no, they apologize for having assumed you wanted any.”

Someone else notes: “I like that we’re the rock band from Toronto and we’re the ones shocked by all the drugs everyone is doing.  We were in BC and we were shocked at the big jug of MDMA being passed around.”

“Everyday Superstar” is a rocking, swinging song.  I love that the chorus is “I’m an animal out of control” but it’s kind of slow and mellow and at one point he says “its true.” And there’s this lyric: “When it’s hot, I’m gonna be Bon Scott you be Lita Ford.”  At the end of the song, someone asks, “Does everybody in the house know what bass face is?  You never know when Haddon is going to a picture of you with that face.”  Dave tells a story that Haddon Strong had a subscription to a magazine and it was addressed to Hardon Strong.

Introducing “My First Rock Concert” he says, “this is a song about music.  I bet you think it’s ‘Proud Mary’ but it’s not.  That was done last night.”  He sings it kind of whispering/spoken.   In the middle, Paul plays the riff to “Brown Eyed Girl” while Dave is singing “you’re either a mouse or Steven Page.”

“Take A Wild Ride” is s short song that segues at the same fast tempo into “The List” which is, again, almost spoken.  He throws in some other people who have made the list.  Jian Ghomeshi and Joel Plaskett (he was in Thrush Hermit) and at the end he says, “only kidding about Joel.”

“Big Men Go Fast On The Water” is a great-sounding song–in this version, the guitar riffs between verses sound like Boston.  They played this song last night at “Stolen from a Hockey Card” at the Spats Theater.  Dave was disappointed there were no spats there.  He says, “If I’ve over pattering, just tell me.”

We wrote this song “Bad Really Bad” about the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Three chords and the truth.

“In The Rock Hall” is about the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland from a poem written by Paul Quarrington  Once again he almost whispers, “C’mon Halifax, let’s rock.”   About “Ladies of Montreal,” he says, “I didn’t think there were enough songs in indie rock well, elderly indie rock, independent seniors, about beautiful women… boobs, you know.  It came in a dream.  I had to write it.”  Dave says it is sexist although I don’t exactly know what he’s saying with the French words.

Getting ready to play “The Motherland Part 1,” he asks, “Jerry you brought your flute, did you?  Oh fuck’s sake.  It’s okay. I think I told you last night but we were both pretty hammered.”  “The Fatherland” is “a heavy metal political song…political metal… politometal.”  It totally rocks and at the end Dave says “I don’t understand, the dancing girl left and we’re playing our most uptempo tunes.”  Before they complete the trilogy with “The Motherland Part 2” someone in the band asks, have you got the cocaine?–its pure MDMA.  Don rehashes the story about him throwing up at a party in the closet because of hot knives.  The middle of Part 2 really rocks.

“Last Of The Dead Wrong Things” is quieter for sure but the chorus and backing vocals are great.  Where there’s usually a drum solo there’s a kind of quiet freak out.

He says, “we’re going to do one more” (boo) …well how many more do you deserve?  Seventeen, eh, you have a very inflated view of yourself.”

“We’ll do ‘Fat,’ (a song “by Rheostatics band”), it has similar chord shapes don’t hold that against us.  Did I tell you we were playing this one?”  “Would it matter?” Let’s have a round of applause for Kevin Lacroix on the bass and Don Kerr on the drums.  Paul Linklater on guitar.

“We played with Corb Lund yesterday, from Alberta.  He’s very handsome and very accomplished.  “Really really handsome.”  Kevin: “I made out with him.”  Dave: “I made out with a guy who I thought was Corb but who was really the cleaning guy for the hotel….  Last night on this very stage he intoned, he evoked the name of Washboard Hank Fisher….  You’re not going are you, it’s going to be a good song.”  They have Lots of fun with “The Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray”  with over the top backing vocals.  And in the solo, we get Paul Linklater, one more time pickin’ and grinnin.’

Before the next song Dave says, “What are you guys laughing at?  I can see you in the mirror, you know.  This is my favorite club coz I can watch my rock moves, they’re top ranked.”  Don:  “That’s actually Dave’s mirror, he brings it to every club and says that.  It’s embarrassing.”  Dave mentions a famous story (doesn’t know who it’s about) about a heavy metal singer who was hammered and he saw the guy in the mirror and thought he was mocking him.  So he challenged him to a fight.  That’s rock n roll.”

“You got a weak bladder Jerry?  I’ve got a weak bladder, too.  I’ve peed myself twice during this set.”

This is an album by Bidiniband called The Motherland.  It’s a delicious record and I’d like you to buy it.  All of you.  It’s only $10.  Produced in Toronto in a studio  … by professionals.  Trained professional sounds.  Nothing like what you’re hearing tonight.

There’s a great buzzy bass sound on “Desert Island Poem” which is “a funny song about cannibalism.”  Dave gets pretty crazy at the end.

It segues into a wonderful surprise of them playing”Queer.”  And then a terrific version of “I Wanna Go To Yemen” with a fun wild sliding solo.

He wishes everyone a good night and they leave for a few seconds.  “If we take a break we probably won’t play anymore.  But that was break…  We probably should have taken a longer break and milked it more… but we didn’t.”

“Do people who come to lean along the bar are they into the music?”  Kevin: “Those are some of the best people in Halifax…but the creme d la creme starts right here.”

Jerry didn’t find his flute did he?  Dave asks for a hand for the opening act, Communism Music, look them up

The first encore is the hilariously offensive song “Take A Bath Hippie.”   Sample verses:  “This ain’t the 1960s / These are brand new modern times / everyone is equal and everyone is doing fine,”  “Your revolution ended the day Trudeau retired.  A land of Stephen Harper… we got the country we desired.”   He asks, “You guys got hippies out here?  Probably not. You got Buddhists.  That’s just as bad.  They lie around in their robes  eating flowers.  Shaving each other’s heads.  Sacrificing a goat here and there.”

 We’re all getting G&Ts?  Thank you people of the night.  Kevin: “Treating us all equally?  Like my parents.  My parents would bring us all something she wouldn’t bring me a G&T without bringing one to my sister.”  Dave: They were saints.

FYI, tomorrow, there is Hockey Day in Canada–a ton of games on and footage from the concert last night with Theoren Fleury, Rich Aucoin, Buck 65, Miranda Mulholland, and the ever handsome Corb “The Boner” Lund and The Barra MacNeils.  Dave did a short movie about John Brophy, that’s gonna be on.  “Fuck, it’s Saturday… just sit at home and watch hockey.  It’s what we are supposed to do.  If you don’t, Stephen Harper will have your ass.  But I’ll save you because I’m the hockey guardian.  No I’m not, I’m just tired.”

We’ll try to do one last song.  Have we done “Take a Bath Hippie?”  We’ll save it for next time.  I’m trying to not do a typical show closer tune.

Last gig Kevin played with this band he was playing drums.   I guess it didn’t go well because he’s been demoted to bass. (ha ha).  Dave: “You’ve got the best bass player joke about what happened to Gordie Johnson.”  Kevin: “oh no that’s just nasty.”  Dave “You’re right, its for later in the washroom when were doing coke.”

They play a surprising “Stolen Car.”  It’s so weird to hear Dave sing this song (which he wrote)–he whisper sings it (and can’t really hit the notes).  It segues into a folkie
“Legal Age Life -> Do You Wanna Dance -> Legal Age Life” with them singing, “Oh yeah music is fun.  Friends are fun.  Rock n roll is fun.  Sloppy and fun.”  They end with a Johnny Cash line get rhythm when you get the blues.

Who would have guessed that just seven months later Rheostatics would reunite?

[READ: November, December 2017 & January 2018] West End Phoenix

West End Phoenix is a newly created newspaper.  It was inspired by Dave Bidini.

I have loved just about all of the music that Bidini has created (with Rheostatics and Bigdiniband) and I have loved just about all of the books he has written.  So why wouldn’t I love a newspaper created by him?  Well, possibly because it serves a community that I do not live in and have very likely never visited.  That’s right, this is a community newspaper for a community that isn’t even in my country.

And it is terrific.

But why on earth would I want to read it?  Can I really like Bidini that much? (more…)

Read Full Post »

wpeSOUNDTRACK: An open letter to the Rheostatics (2014).

rheosTo Dave, Martin, Tim and assorted drummers:

I’ve been a fan of the Rheostatics for a long time.  I recall traveling to Toronto from New Jersey back in the 90s and tracking down Introducing Happiness at Sam the Record Man.  And then later driving around the Niagara Falls region listening to the strange and wonderful album. I’ve enjoyed all of the subsequent albums.

You were a unique band with a unique sound.  I was sad when you split up, even if that meant that now there were three solo projects to enjoy.  Of course, there’s been a lot of bands that have broken up, it’s just part of being a fan.  But the thing about the Rheostatics breakup is that you three (or four or five or six) have remained friendly.  You’ve done a few reunion shows since the breakup, which I think that’s super cool.  It’s especially cool because RheostaticsLive tends to post them after a while so that those of us who don’t make the shows can hear them.

I’ve never seen you guys live, and I imagine I never will.  And I’m okay with that.  What I’m mostly bummed about is that there will be no more new music from you.  You put out approximately ten albums (there’s a few miscellaneous things that are hard to qualify).  Those records include soundtracks and live albums and all manner of things, so there’s really seven proper albums (the others are great, don’t get me wrong).  Anyhow, my gut feeling is that there needs to be some new Rheostatics music.  I know you’ve all been doing solo stuff (and I have it), but sometimes the sum is greater, etc.

Clearly I’m getting at that it’s time for a new album from the Rheostatics.  Before you scoff, I’m not talking reuniting for a grand tour, or even any tour, I’m not even talking a live show.  Heck, I’m not even talking about you guys hanging out for more than a couple weeks.  Just an album of new songs.  A decade ago it would have been unthinkable that you would get together for the expense of an album without major label support.  But now, the cost is so much lower and with your fan base expanding, I assume it would be easy to recoup the expenses.

So what do you say?  Since it seems like everyone is still friendly and creative, maybe you can throw some ideas around in the email, see if there’s anything magical happening.  Obviously, if there’s nothing there or you just can’t work together, then don’t continue.  No one wants to hear a crappy Rheostatics album.  But if there’s even a chance that you guys can throw some ideas together and pull out another “Horses,” or “Northern Wish” or “CCYPA,” or holy cow, “King of the Past,” or, hell, anything you’ve done, then it’s absolutely worth it.

I don’t imagine any of you will read this, but maybe if you google yourselves, Tim Vesely, Dave Bidini, Martin Tielli, you’ll see this and think that, yes, dammit, seven records of Rheostatics music is not enough.

Thanks for the music, Paul Debraski.

[READ: January 26, 2014] Worst. Person. Ever.

I told myself that I wanted to read this book before anyone requested it.  And I did.  In fact, I wanted to finish it before the weekend was up, which I did as well.  It’s nice to meet a minor goal.

The last few Coupland books that I read (see last week) were very dark.  Since those books, he has broadened his palette somewhat, including writing a  children’s book and some more non-fiction.  And then we get this.  A vulgar, very funny sendup of modern culture.  The introduction to the book says that it was based on a short story that he wrote for McSweeney’s #31 called “Survivior.”  That story was written in the style known a biji which they described as

Biji is sort of a notebook, which contains legends, anecdotes, scientific notes and local wisdom.  Accounts of everyday life mix with travel narratives as well as lists.  It is meant to represent a picture of the culture at the time of writing.

I thought that this style was well suited to Coupland, because he includes all of that stuff anyway.  And so he has taken that story and fleshed it out into this full novel.

The worst person ever is named Raymond Gunt.  He thinks he’s Jason Bourne, but he’s really just a metaphorical extra in a Bourne movie (one who probably gets killed).  Gunt is a cameraman working in England.  He is divorced.  His wife is a raging harpy (at least from his point of view, which is all we see).  Since their divorce, she has become wildly successful in television production.  He calls in on her at work and she tells him about a job working as a B cameraman on a show called Survival.  He knows that the job must suck or she wouldn’t give it to him, but he needs to work.  Of course, he is most upset at the thought of having to work with Americans (Americans are majorly abused in this story).  Although by its very nature a B cameraman position is not as good as an A cameraman, Ray needs the work, so he agrees to fly to some godforsaken tropical island to watch beautiful people starve and try to have sex with each other.

On his way out of the building he sees a homeless guy.  And since Ray is the worst person ever, he kicks him. But the homeless guy is no pushover and he chases after Ray.  He catches Ray in an alley and pummels him, ultimately pushing his face into some garbage. The man is Neal and although he acts crazy, he’s actually quite sharp (why he is homeless is not addressed).  After forcing Ray to sing the female verses of “Don’t You Want Me,” Neal gives him this sage advice:

“Stop being a cunt to the world and the world will stop being a cunt to you.”

Advice which Ray simply cannot follow.

When ray learns that he needs a personal assistant, um, slave, he immediately thinks of Neal.  So he tracks him down, cleans him up and gives him a job.  And off they jet to make some TV.

In the course of the book, a series of crazy things–the kind of things only Coupland thinks of–sidetrack them from Ray’s goal.  (His real goal is to get laid, naturally).  First, it turns out that Neal, despite being homeless, is a total babe magnet.  And throughout the story, as he gets cleaner and fresher, he becomes irresistible  This, of course, ruins Ray’s plans of bedding hot women.  And as Neal gets cleaner, he becomes less and less Rays assistant and more and more Ray’s equal.

They jet to L.A., (he was supposed to be in first class, but was bumped and is super angry).  He also gets in trouble with the airport bartender, Lacey, who comes back to haunt him in ways one could never predict.  He gets first class seats on the way to Hawaii and he abuses the privilege.  Then, because of unforeseen circumstances, they have to stay in Honolulu (with lots of Spam jokes).  And because of those unforseen circumstances, they need to recast the show, which means Ray’s wife has to jet down and be around them.  And Ray’s wife, Fiona, is delighted to make Ray’s life miserable.  Eventually, they head to their intended island and prepare to set up for the show.

In the meantime, the U.S. has decided to destroy the Great Pacific Garbage Patch–in a very imaginative way.  And ray is on hand to witness the destruction.  This plan causes all manner of trouble with shipping and airplane traffic.  Which has the effect of isolating everyone on the Survivor island–causing a literal survival situation.

Raymond Gunt may not be the worst person ever, but he is pretty darn close. He tries to sleep with anyone.  He tries to screw over everyone else (but never seems to get anywhere).  And he genuinely likes to torment others.  And all the while he repeats his mantra, “I consider myself a reasonable enough citizen.”  Despite Gunt’s personality, he (or at least the story) is funny enough that you want to keep reading (and maybe even to succeed in some of his designs).  And that made this story a major page turner.  And it was very funny as well.

Coupland really gets the feel for writing a British story.  It doesn’t read like any of his other books and while it’s not full of crazy accents or overt Britishisms, his main character is defiantly not American. As I said, all Americans are fat, sweaty, stupid and prudish in Ray’s mind.

This is also the worst person that Coupland has ever written. He is such an abominable person with an incredibly filthy mouth.  The above quote is just one of just many curses in the book.  In fact there’s a whole subplot about how prudish Americans are about people saying “fuck” despite their cavalier acceptance of violence and other things (we say friggin, when everyone knows we mean fucking).

I have to assume Coupland had a ton of fun writing this.  And it really comes through.  I’m also going to guess that a lot of people’ won’t like this book because Gunt is so reprehensible.  But if you can get past that, the story is funny, and makes some pointedly humorous observations about a lot of contemporary life.  Like “Survival [sic] is a popular reality TV show… You’re either into this show or you’re not.  It’s binary.”  or “‘Come on Eileen’ was a single in 1982…What’s weird about this song is that it was so huge at the time and now you listen to it and wonder, what the hell was everyone thinking?  Well, that’s pop culture for you.”  It even has what seem like Wikipedia entries of things throughout in the book (and a YouTube link which is bizarre to see in print).

I really enjoyed this, and I’m thrilled that Coupland has unleashed his inner black humorist.

Watch him talk about the book with Jian Ghomeshi, a great interviewer

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: JIAN-The First 6 Songs (2001).

Being American and apolitical in my youth, I had no idea who Pierre Trudeau was until about 2001.  And my first real introduction was through this album by Jian Ghomeshi.  Jian was one of the four guys in Moxy Früvous (and man has his career skyrocketed since then…watch his great interview show Q online–in particular, check out the crazily uncomfortable interview with Billy Bob Thornton or the wonderful hour long interview with Rush).

Moxy Früvous had just broken up and Jian, who was one of my faves in the band, put out the optimistically title The first 6 songs (no other songs have arrived yet).

Jian is a mostly folk rock album which features Jian’s gentle voice.  And gentleness is one of Jian’s trademarks, it would seem.  But more than gentleness, his songs are about accountability and justice.  And yet lyrically, he’s not naive or obvious.  “Quebec City” is about the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 (“the whole world is watching”).

I’ve always felt connected to the last track, “Lousy Boy”:

“And a man Is a man If he’s got a gun in his hand
Well I never wanted to destroy I always made a lousy boy….  And I know guys who are just like me
They like hockey and poetry
I think in retrospect that we have won
I’m a full-grown man and I don’t own a gun.”

Früvous has similarly thoughtful lyrics but in addition to the lyrics, the music is always interesting.   So the unexpected chord changes in the bridge to “Astronaut” turn the song from a simple folk song into a moving rocker.  And “Baby Don’t Lie” is a 5 minute track that builds on a folk base and is a catchy sing along.

of course, this all leads to the song “Father (For Pierre Trudeau)” the song that first taught me a little bit about the Prime Minister.  The song covers a few moments of his media-saturated leadership.  But mostly it’s a reflection about Trudeau on the day of his death.  The personal touch of course is that Ghomeshi’s father wanted to meet him (as did Jian) but now they w0uld never get to.  It’s a very touching song, and I have a hard time imagining someone writing a similar song about a President.

It was this song that got me to investigate the life and leadership of Trudeau.  (I even wrote an email to Jian, to which he quickly responded…I only wish I still had that email account active).

[READ: January 12, 2011] Pierre Elliot Trudeau

This is one of the more exciting biographies that I’ve read.  Which is pretty great.  Although one of the reasons it is so exciting is because he presumes that the reader knows a lot about Trudeau already.  And to be fair, I assume most Canadians would know the global picture (and most of the details) about him already.  So, basically, you get a summary picture of Trudeau, but instead of a quick outline that glosses over details, we get a lot of details, but no gloss.

What I’m getting at is that there are a number of places where Ricci talks about events and movements as if we know them.  So this makes for incredible fluency even if the novice is left puzzling exactly what all the fuss was about.  In fairness, contextually it’s easy to figure out, it’s just a bit surprising.

Another fascinating thing: Ricci skips over Trudeau’s childhood pretty much completely.  The book opens with Ricci’s memory of seeing Trudeau in 1967 when he (Ricci) was a young boy and seeing the way his teachers an adults seemed mesmerized by him.

Nostalgia aside, Ricci quickly explains what a polarizing figure Trudeau has been.  Warmly loved by many and yet (according to Macleans) ranked 5th of all Canadian Prime Ministers (despite being re-elected several times).  Actually, the way that Ricci words it it sounds like he came much lower than that (he says “third tier” which seems much mower than 5th).  And, judging by comments on YouTube videos, utterly hated by others.

The next chapter continues in 1968 at the beginning of Trudeaumania. Treudeaumania sounds a lot like Obamamania–a young, relatively inexperienced politician makes some noise and is thrust into prominence.  (Of course, in 1968, Trudeau only ran for office for a month and a half before being elected–ah the bliss of a short campaign season).

A video of Trudeaumania shows people swooning over him.

The biography does cover some of Trudeau’s earlier years (taken largely from Young Trudeau by Max and Monique Nemni).  He was a somewhat rebellious youth and his teen behavior was full of the usual (and not so usual) rebellions.  But the thing with Trudeau is that it is never clear whether he seriously held certain beliefs or if he was just trying to get a reaction out of people.

He established a society called les X whose purpose was to create an independent Quebec (organized under fascist principles).  les X faded from Trudeau’s life and existence with very little fanfare, and evidently radical groups like that sprang up all the time in Quebec at that time.  Really, it seems to point to his growing bored at his school and with the provincialism of Quebec.

When he left Quebec for Harvard and later for Europe, his mind was expanded and his beliefs opened up accordingly.  He had written many anti-Semitic things in his Montreal youth but once he actually met some Jews, he quickly changed his tune. Indeed, Harvard seems to have really shaped his later outlook in life.  And his exposure to vastly different attitudes during his studying Paris and then later in London exposed him to so much more in the world.

When he returned home to Quebec he found everything small and narrow (which is exactly how it (and he) was when he left it).  And he quickly finds himself embroiled in politics with the Asbestos Strike of 1949.  He took a position (and offered free legal assistance to anyone striking) which raised his profile and quickly made him persona non grata in his province.

This led him to leave for Ottawa, where he was less known and (since his credentials were great) where he could easily get a low position in politics and establish his career.  The main thing he learned, though, was that Ottawa was not the enemy (as is generally held to be true in Quebec).

Trudeau eventually returned to Quebec for Cité libre.  This is one of the things that Ricci glosses over…I’m still not exactly sure what Cité libre is (okay, an influential political journal), but I’m well aware of Trudeau’s involvement in it.  And how it helped him to state his principles and beliefs.

There’s a lengthy passage where Ricci explains how Trudeau’s federalism came to blossom so powerfully for him.  And this argument is one of the reasons why I am in the camp of Trudeau, because even though his piece is meant to be just about Quebec, I find it holds true for the U.S. as well (substitute out Quebec for any special interest).

The sort of independent Quebec he had dreamed of as a young man, he saw now, would only have given greater rein to the ruling elites to exploit nationalism for their own end, as Duplessis has done. In a Quebec obsessed with the survival of French-Canadian culture it was too easy for leaders to manipulate the electorate by promoting vague ideological goals rather than more practical ones, such as those providing infrastructure and employment (103).

Trudeaumania quickly swept him into office, but he was most reviled by his home province which felt betrayed by his turning his back on separatism.  He was the target of an attack by the FLQ, which captured and killed Trudeau’s friend and cabinet minister Pierre Laport. This was known as the October Crisis.  Trudeau’s reaction was swift and hard, he called for martial law (and the Mounties certainly abused their rights). But when questioned about whether he should or could step so hard on a province his answer was “Just watch me”

Now, it turns out that that quote comes at the end of a lengthy interview and makes for a glib soundbite when in fact Trudeau was anything but glib.

The next big moment of excitement for Trudeaumania was when he married Margaret Sinclair.  For a brief time, they were the it couple.  He was 51, she was just 22, and she was beautiful.  Trudeau seemed to be a confirmed bachelor or at least a consummate playboy, so to have him settled down was quite a story.  But how hard must it have been to be a young woman suddenly thrust into the political spotlight.

Naturally, cracks would surface in their marriage.  In fact, in 1977, Maggie decided to party with The Rolling Stones rather than attend her sixth wedding anniversary party (read the wonderful article in People about it–I love the tsk tsk tone!).

But the penultimate chapter is, mostly, about Trudeau’s disappointments.  He had taken office in a hail of excitement but really had not a lot to show for it.  He was even set for retirement, until he was drawn back in.  And in this final term, he was finally able to achieve his legacy.  And this legacy seems to be summarized by two words: federalism and patriation.  (With the downside being summed up in the word “notwithstanding”).  Now, this is obviously something that Canadians know all about, and it seems foolish to summarize what this meant for readers who lived it.  But for me, who knows precious little about the mechanics of Canadian politics, I was a little lost in the details.

I got the Federalism thing, but the constitution is a bit confusing.  And the whole notwithstanding clause really kind of lost me.  Nevertheless, the chapter that covered this was rather exciting because Ricci writes as if there is one man whose mission is to see him fail.  And this nemesis is Rene Lévesque.  It’s a classic mano a mano battle between two Quebeckers and it’s really rather exciting (especially if you didn’t know the results).

The final chapter talks of Trudeau’s legacy.  And in this chapter Ricci seems to side with Trudeau.  He cites specific examples of being the best man at a same-sex wedding ceremony, something that would not be possible without Trudeau (even though Trudeau never envisioned it).  Indeed, there’s a comment that:

during the 1968 leaders’ debate, Réal Caouette, leader of the Ralliement créditistes, joked that Trudeau’s Criminal Code amendments might lead to a situation where “a man, a mature man, could in the future marry another mature man” Caouette had his joke while Trudeau, awaiting his response time, smiled civilly and held his tongue.

Because I’m not part of the culture, I don’t know to read Ricci’s take on the man.  He is not afraid to show off all of Trudeau’s faults.  In fact, in many instances he rather highlights them.  For instance, the debt under Trudeau expanded exponentially.  When Trudeau took office in 1968 Canada had a debt of $18 billion; when he left office in 1984, that debt stood at $200 billion, an increase of 83% in real terms.  And yet at the end of a nasty passage he will present some evidence which ameliorates Trudeau either in whole or (more typically) in part.

I guess in that sense it is an excellent primer on Trudeau’s political life.  But it’s also personal enough that you can see how one man impacted people.  Not citizens, but people.  And when he describes the people lined up for Trudeau’s funeral it ties right back to Jian’s song.  It really shows the impact that one person can have on the lives of so many.

And, here’s a shameless plug to the folks at Penguin Canada–I will absolutely post about all of the books in this series if you want to send me the rest of them.  I don’t know how much attention these titles will get outside of Canada, but I am quite interested in a number of the subjects, and will happily read all of the books if you want to send them to me.  Just contact me here!

For ease of searching I include: Fruvous, creditistes, Real Caouette, Rene Levesque, Cite libre

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: LIGHTS-“February Air” (2006).

Lights is a Canadian singer who is managed by Jian Ghomeshi.  She is a young cute pop singer and this was her second hit (I think–Wikipedia says it was used in an Old Navy ad).  I admit that I’d never heard of her before seeing her on Jian’s page.

I think of everything that Jian touches to be unique and always interesting.  And although this is certainly poppy and catchy, it’s only mildly  interesting and is kind of indistinguishable from a lot of other poppy catchy songs (the middle section stands out a bit, admittedly).

She’s received a number of accolades (best new artist at the 2009 Junos), so good for her (and Jian).  But I think I’ll be passing on her discs.

[READ: January 10, 2001] “Minnows”

This very short story (two pages) is dark and quite twisted.  Both in content and in structure.

The story opens with a woman seeing her daughter at the door.  We quickly learn that the daughter is not happy, but when the visit turns violent it’s unclear whether the older woman is crazy or hallucinating or if the violence is really happening.

Then we get some background story about their relationship.  Which sets things straight (sort of). (more…)

Read Full Post »

I don’t have any news to add about the Festival yet; however, I just learned that I could add a map to my blog post, so, here’s a map to the Festival.

I was also looking at the lineup for last year’s Festival, and although there’s only a few artists signed up for this year so far, last year’s lineup is pretty impressive.   There were 70 artists altogether, including (band links are to the Festival’s site):

Broken Social Scene
Cat Power
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Jian Ghomeshi
Aimee Mann
Joan Osborne
The Sadies
Ron Sexsmith
Martha Wainwright
Dar Williams

Pretty cool.  These are some of my favorite artists.

And here’s the cool interactive map!

Read Full Post »