You Can’t Get Born Again

While I shouldn’t get into too much detail here, I’d like to share this teaser, narrated by me, for the upcoming album by The Dears. Enjoy, and share!

Will Vice be The Harbinger of Neo-Grunge?

Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other places that algorithmically recommend things one should be interested in, I read an article on the Vice media empire. The headline: “Can Vice Get 20-Somethings to Watch the News?” The most intriguing quote was from Vice co-founder Shane Smith on some of the inner workings of the Vice machine:

“Most of the people who work here are 14 years old. They sit two inches from each other. We only employ millionaires’ children.” And later calls Vice “a sweatshop for trustafarians.” Simultaneously a hilarious yet poignant comment on what defines much of today’s culture.

I thought not much of it, finished the article, then went into the backyard to do some seasonal gardening. Tomato plants: gone. Mealy dogwood: uprooted. Hula hoop and toy shovel: stored in the garage. Yet as I worked the article resonated with me. I thought, if engaging the youth in current events is the goal of Vice today, then back in the mag’s early years was it more to get the bored 20-somethings of the late 90s to care?

When sitting back, pondering the genesis of hipsterdom, I often trace it back to Vice, and the importance they laid on the concept of “cool.” I mean, Vice didn’t invent it, they just presented a pre-existing sub-culture in a consumable format. And yeah: back then, I understood what Vice was because I was living it. Watching one of the guys that started the mag drink his own piss on the patio at Foufounes, or letting someone smack my bare ass at a bar in exchange for more beer — these things are what young people do. In your 20’s, getting messed up and having fun is serious business. It wasn’t #YOLO it was punk rock. You don’t fuck around with that. You write about it.

But it’s not 1997. Fifteen years have passed, and my lifetime subscription to the magazine has long been revoked. After having a kid, I was admittedly nervous about having a full-colour, glossy magazine showing stylized images of syringes, used condoms and blood-soaked models lying around the house. In 2008 I posted on my blog a comparison of Vice to the Economist, calling one “stupid” and the other “smart.” At the time, I found it ironic that I held subscriptions to two diametrically opposite magazines. Soon after this post, Vice stopped coming. An independently wealthy intern must have caught it.

Little did I realize that the two magazines were converging, and now I am fascinated by the concept of non-ironic, hipster investigative reporting. And I have to commend the concept of fearless fieldwork and its promotion of xenophilia to a young population that is otherwise totally living in a self-obsessed, social-media infused bubble (see #RKOI as an extreme example).

Today’s culture is at a tipping point, much as it was back in the 90s: we’re waiting for the next Grunge to topple the current mainstream “regime.” The romanticized, nicely packaged version of reality in which we float about must be torn down, and we need to remember that our heroes, and the people and places that influence our very existence, are never perfect.

This post also appeared with a lamer title on HuffingtonPost.ca

New Blog in Which I Extol Montreal’s First Maker Faire

Lately I’ve been obsessed with today’s musical climate. Too long have I agonized over this sentiment, trying to reconcile whether “it’s just me” or if music has evolved into a new beast with unusual behaviours I no longer understand.

As is well documented on my blog, I feel as though apathy has taken over music, especially in “indie” rock. And although I must continue to conduct myself within the music industry’s walls, I am merely moving about its hollow carcass as a means to an end. So instead of continually raging against the music machine, or, alternately, risking being that crusty old hipster at the back of the dubstep show, I will put it out of my mind. Modern music, I am done with thee.

As a result, I have turned my mind to creativity on a global level. What keeps me going is the knowledge that people are still putting their souls into things. How do I know? Because it is in our human nature to create, it is what separates man from beast. Except maybe these guys.

I’ve found a new creative optimism in technology and the wonderment of science. Undoubtedly fraught with its own demons of commercialization, to me the tech world still wears a virginal shroud, an unpretentious Eden yet to be explored. Programming, artificial intelligence and robotics are elements that represent, to me, the possibility for expression and reflection of humanity in infinite ways. Not to mention space exploration. It’s partially why I’ve started writing fiction, specifically speculative fiction: for the creative freedom.

How do I jump from there to here? From music to tech, in one simple step? I’m not sure I can answer that, but as a mother of a seven-year-old with another along the way, the future is, quite simply, more meaningful. Dare I say, more relevant?

Next weekend I’ll be taking my family to Montreal’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire. Having followed some of the activities at the flagship Maker Faires, I am beyond pumped to go. Labelled as a “festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness,” I can only imagine the range of ideas — from crafts to Arduino-controlled machines — individuals catering to their imaginations and simply creating for creation’s sake.

For a long while, music was fun, an exploration. But somewhere along the way it became a one-dimensional business that lost its naïveté. I long for those carefree days, but know it will never be 1998 again. In our current tech-drenched world, storytelling and expression exist in a multiverse. And as music continues to evolve, I can rest easy knowing that there is a place where I can continue to to the same.

Upcoming Canadian Faires:

Montreal Mini Maker Faire (Parc Olympique): August 25 & 26, 2012

Calgary Mini Maker Faire (East Village Riverwalk): September 8, 2012

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire (Shopify Lounge): October 13 & 14, 2012

This post also appears on the Huffington Post.

Kids These Days (Condescending Blog)

I haven’t blogged here in a while, so I’m going to take this opportunity to WAIL on a couple of “self proclaimed music critics” or “bloggers” as it were (see below). Now, it is obvious to me that these are young people (20-somethings), trying to find their place in the world. They are learning about who they are and the things that define them. I know it. I lived it: I wrote for VICE from the age of 20 to 25. That’s your SNARK PRIME. In your 20’s, it’s your time to be flippant and critical: you’ve only emerged from your teens (when you know everything about the world) and entered into a nascent adulthood. A time to illustrate to the world how much you really know, because now you have to pay rent and get a job and be responsible for yourself.  

So this is my rant, my response to these arrogant bloggers who say that my band is boring to watch live, (despite describing in the previous sentence how the whole crowd was singing along and how they felt an inexplicable energy in the room) but that they wouldn’t be interested in The Dears once they took that experience home. I call bullshit on their words. BULLSHIT.

Kids these days are emerging from a digital haze, of being bombarded with millions of songs and thousands of bands. I understand, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of anything. What is good? Who knows? Who can we trust? Today’s youth have been programmed to not follow their heart, but to follow the blogosphere. They are influenced by everything and everyone. How can they know about music when they’ve never really listened to anything? They can’t know until they are 35, because that’s when they begin to know themselves. Until then they are bombarded with a culture that is desperately trying to compete for their attention. They bring several floor toms and impossible instruments on stage. They have crazy, premeditated outfits and freak out on stage, because that’s how they think they should act. Otherwise how will they cut above the rest?

THANK GOD I “show my age” on stage. Do you know what that is called? DIGNITY.

On the flip side I thank the hundreds of other people who did enjoy the show! I admit it wasn’t our best show ever but it was loads of fun. And we got some great reviews from Spinner.com and Telescope Media. This blog even called us a “buzzband” which in my opinion, defies the very definition of the word.

And finally, I congratulate the young writers whom I have addressed here for being annoying enough to draw attention to themselves. You have succeeded in your task! You can read the “show reviews” written by “music fanatic” Shawn Burgess at THE iNDiE MACHiNE and also Lisa Lagace at TurnTheRecordOver.com. Thank you for farting all over everyone else’s experience (including mine), and for reluctantly enjoying the show! Please respond in the comments section below!

P.S. I reference God for effect and do not adhere to any him/her/it theology.

MUSICAL INTERPRETATION: Them Kids by Sam Roberts