Friday, June 25, 2004

Agreeing with a Western Conservative? Impossible!

The venerable Colby Cosh, National Post columnist and astute weblogger, comes forth with his election predictions, and an interesting remark about Layton's push for Proportional Representation.
...the NDP is now at 17% nationally in the latest Ipsos poll; SES's crack pipe, as yet untested for predictive accuracy in a federal election, has them at 20%. That would put them over 20 seats on the evidence of past three-sided elections--but, again, I think the increase in the party's national totals may be relatively inefficient this time, since a lot of it is going to come in places where they were close to zero degrees Kelvin in 2000. (Why do you think Layton is so fanatical about proportional representation? It's got nothing to do with "democracy"; it's because his party no longer happens to be particularly popular in any one region.)

Thought you might like that one, Dick.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Semiotics et al.

Defined as the study of the role of signs as part of social life, semiotics is reemerging as a key driving force in post-modern cultural studies. But how profoundly does it explain our lives? More importantly, has it become the one-size-fits-all, defacto method of all cultural interpretation? Is the codification of semiotics simply replacing modern era structuralism?

It is contended that Modernism and its code - structuralism - is dead having been replaced with a cynical post-modernism intent on deconstructuralism. Hailed by some as a 'rosetta stone', can post-modernism be codified by simply focusing on meaning?

While my suspiciousness of objective reality allegedly makes me an 'affirmative post-modernist', I still think it's all bullshit.

Layton Should Deliver the Used-Car Salesman Vote

The folks at NIH are bang-on again, this time about "issue" politics in this election and the habitual suppression of self.

As the feature articles of the last two weeks have shown, elections are conceived of as being about issues, or about ideas, or about promises. These are things which exist outside the voter – even the ideas, which are other people's. This externality is accentuated by the refusal of candidates and voters to use their own internal resources to deal with these external phenomena. Except for the commentators on this site, no one is actually using his own personal intellect to examine the issues, ideas, or promises which are the ostensible subjects of electoral discourse. And yet the entire nation is seething over the "issues" they haven't even thought about. Hmmm. Could that possibly mean that our electoral discourse is actually determined by psychological factors, by personality types, by our unconscious responses to highly emotive and unexamined symbolism?

The night shot.

Night views of southern Japan.

Also, what happens when you're 38, living in Stockholm and between careers. Hope I'm so lucky.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

No denouement, just drinking

So Dick and I attended the Spacing Issue 2 magazine launch on Thursday.

We walked into the El Mocambo around 10 PM, passing through a scattered crowd of sidewalk smokers. After paying the $10 cover, the cashier handed us each a copy of the magazine. I thumbed the thin pages while putting my change in my wallet. The mag looked good, smartly designed, minimalist -- but I would have to get to it later. We weaved through the crowd, all the way to the front where the MC was handing out raffle prizes.

"And the prize pack goes to...1-0-3-4-2-4...hey we have a winner...here he comes, a tall man. What's your name, sir? Heighton? H-...Hayden? You're not the famous Hayden are you? Enjoy the CDs, man, thanks for your money!"

We had no knowledge of this magazine except through the website, and one Spacing staffer's photoblog that I check out periodically. I certainly didn't know that the mag was part of a larger cause, put forth by a group called the Toronto Public Space Committee.

The MC introduced a couple of art videos for us to watch, which we did. Then there was a bit of a lull in the presentation while the bands set up, so a shag-haired fellow in a red, besloganed shirt took the stage and started ad-libbing.

Then all of a sudden, he introduced us to...the one and only, the NDP Candidate for Trinity-Spadina, one Olivia Q. Chow.

A conversation between Dick and I, not five minutes earlier while walking up Spadina Ave.:

"I almost don't want the NDP to win. You know why? Olivia Chow."

"Ohhh...she's incompetent. She is simply gross."

"She soils the entire NDP. They're ruined. How the hell did that woman get into any kind of public-facing position whatsoever?"

"Layton. No other reason. She's the worst part of the entire Canadian federal election. Pure feel-good shite."

"She wipes her ass with taxpayer dollars, and calls it vibrant and diverse street art."

"I cannot stand Olivia Chow even a little bit. Fuck."

Oh sweet serendipity. So out came Olivia. Dick's eyes swelled up into ping-pong balls. The Bicycles started playing some background bossa nova, and Ms. Chow gave a little speech. It was thirty or so seconds I wish I'd videotaped. There was something odd about her stage presence. Maybe it was her aggressiveness, or the way her elbows kinked when making hand gestures, or her shrieky, meandering narrative (she drifted this way and that, haplessly segueing a rallying cry for more bike lanes into a bizarre anecdote about ugly green hedges creeping over her driveway fence, to the edification of no one).

Looking over her shoulder and sensing that her time was up, she shouted "We have a PLAN! For URBAN SPACES! Thank you!", and then exited to the back, leaving the crowd in stunned awe. Showing up at the event was commendable, but politicians seldom achieve crowd rapport in front of youth. Political rhetoric glances off crowds like this, and campaigners trying to show their "young side" (Ed Broadbent excepted) end up in the pages of Frank Magazine, not Eye Magazine. Olivia spared us either tactic, and did the admirable thing: she simply showed up half-drunk.

Dick and I, gracious guests as we are, followed suit.

The oblong bar forced us to the back of the club, where we watched the crowd from afar. Dick and I could not stop talking about the women -- I've crawled to every decrepit edge of this town, seen every sliver of nightlife under these Ontario stars, and never once seen girls like these. These were the bookish, folk types. The real kind, the messed up kind. I love those. We're talking obsessive diarists and art-house nerds and greenhouse gardeners and acoustic music junkies, who still go out and party. I sat at the bar with my Keith's, rapt.

(If you are reading this, and are a female who was in attendance at the Spacing magazine launch party, I probably want to marry you. In fact, let's dispense with proper courtship. E-mail me and we shall be wed on the Velvet Lounge deck, quietly, without undue pomp or formality, and we'll lift wine glasses after I Do.)

Elliot Brood came out with his band, a roots outfit with an electric banjo lead. They were fantastic. I tried calling a friend on a cell phone, but couldn't get a signal amidst the noise. Unable to get many conversations going, and resigned to being outsiders in this crowd, Dick and I simply began drinking like fiddlers. With the crowd thinning to a trickle by this point, we bid the hotties adieu, walked across the street to Grossman's -- a souse's haven -- and continued our self-embalming. We ended up in a pierogie joint on Dundas Ave., wet with drink, trying to convince a waitress we had Polish cred. The end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Feels Decidedly Bloggerish, but...

Hey Dick, wanna check this out tomorrow? Your planner erudition could come in handy...

The Great Debate.

Well, I might as well break and be the first to mention the Great Debate. I didn't see it live, but watched it in its entirety starting at midnight. Which wasn't the same experience as than the last one - at a bar in Old Quebec City - which saw the Master Chretien disembowel Gilles Duceppe and naive Stockwell Day. I was forced to watch it in French, which is a completely different debating style.

I got this out of this one - nobody won. Everyone was pandering to their base. It was all low-brow hits. The only really new idea or policy stance was Harper's full support for English minority rights in Quebec and accusing Martin of re-francophoning it - which really isn't a new point at all.

Yet, you could hear the media wonks off-stage gasp in utter disbelief.

Harper is a buffoon... and so is Martin... and so is Layton. Duceppes is one too, but it doesn't show in the English debate because there's no pressure.

I was leaning CAP, but I'm not so sure any more. Ms. Foyel doesn't appear to have the stuff that made Paul Hellyer star cabinet minister and nationalist hero.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Would you call this a soundtrack?

For some reason I've been anointed the lead in a short film to be shot in early July. While the story is your typical love gone wrong saga, I'm kinda intrigued by the Director's selection for the soundtrack.

It's everyones favourite Waterloo Architecture school house band The Flying Buttresses. Well now they're graduating and looking at persuing the dream. Tomorrow night it's the 'Shoe for which I'm expected to be in attendance in order to 'soak up the vibe'.

And so begins my sojourn into the underbelly of the Toronto architecture scene.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Why Does This Man Hate America Ketchup?

The ongoing media handjob being applied to Ronald Reagan's corpse has officially gone too far. Now they're talking about Reagan on the sawbuck? The man tried to make ketchup a vegetable! He set a precedent of flagrant condiment abuse that lives on to this day.

Enough Gipper hagiographies for one week, folks. Time for more dissenting opinions (and more and more and even more if you like).

All I can bring myself to ask is, Where's the eulogist Hunter S. Thompson when you need him?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

'I love the idea of this little kid singing all these love gone wrong songs'

Jim Cuddy tells of his youth and how Blue Rodeo was formed through the pages of NOW magazine.

If you've dropped acid at least 20 times, lost 3 or 4 years to booze and looking good and can still manage to keep time, call Jim or Greg.

First gigging in 1985, this cast of characters continues to tour on.

I first saw them at a Tiger-Cats game on a cool Saturday night in September. All day they were announcing that there was a 'suprise' at the end of the game and to not leave early. Nobody had any idea what it could possibly be. After the fourth quarter, a black platform was rolled into the endzone and out walked Blue Rodeo who proceeded to play a set.

It's pretty strange listening to that as you get a full view of Hamilton in the background. All this in a big stadium nestled in the working class neighbourhood of one of the poorest places in Ontario. Blue Rodeo belting out Lost Together mixed with views of bleching smokestacks and sullen townhouses is an interesting combination.

I heard the gig was part of the severance package negotiated by Kim Deschamps and his lawyer when he was bitterly fired from the band. Nice way to stick it to Mr. Cuddy, eh? A big empty stadium with maybe 5000 ambivalent people on a cold September night is a little hard on the ego. Not suprisingly, it appears that all traces have been eliminated from the collective memory of the internet.

But damn, was it a good show.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Like Bad Boy commercials without the charisma

At the risk of sounding like Naomi K, read Advertocracy, please, and vindicate my earlier comments about the idealist but idea-free election campaigns.

For the Election Act to be changed would require a mass movement on the part of the Canadian people, who normally only engage in mass movements during commercial breaks from American Idol. And in a perverse way Canadians do get considerable benefits from the current system – if politicians didn't lie and fail to keep their promises, the range of humanity we could feel morally superior to would be drastically reduced.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

SimCity drops the 'Sim'.

Looks like I'm as redundant as a 1980s stenographer. Rather than hit the Bourbon, I think I'll heed the words of the good people of infomatics. and take solace in knowing that I'll end up with a more challenging, more rewarding and better paid job'. This company kind of scares me. They provide the products that create the redundancy and then follow up by providing the redundee a workshop entitled 'Coping with Redundancy'.

Looks like all those years of union dues will finally work for me!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Rats! Rats in my hair! aiiieeeeeeeee!

We've taken a break from ruining the World Wide Web for you, mostly to repose and reflect, and to inhale loyalism like so much classroom Liquid Paper. One of my favourite aspects of summertime is the complete and total disappearance of productivity, almost as a rite of passage. Aggressive laziness. Steve-O shouts, "Get outside!" like a drill seargeant, demanding to see proof that you weren't doing work at that computer, like a poor old sod. I don't have to Do Stuff, and nobody wants Stuff to be Done, and thus there shall be no Doing of Stuff.

Now that I've slung my sunburned arms over this keyboard once again, let's talk politics.

During our sabbatical, our good Premier Ministre called his-self an election, so as to not appear weak in the face of scandalous accusations. This has been perhaps the only election in my memory where I have zero allegiance to any party at all, and in fact don't want any. They all suck, and I need a shower just listening to them. I feel like I'm standing amongst a group of people trying to touch me with dead rats. Ewww, from all sides. Harper, he can eat me. Layton's boys can eat me. Spiegel and the Greenery can eat me with a side of organic lettuce. It goes without saying that Martin can eat extra helpings of me. It's a buffet, and you're all invited, you vile fucks.

In fact, what I'd like is the complete evaporation of politics from society, but that's for another time. Right now I need to pick a party, in order to drape myself in its hues, its ideas, its vision. Herein lies my conundrum: has a single idea been presented in the campaign of any party so far? Harper's been all give 'em more guns, which isn't so much an idea as a pathology. That PC merger with the Loonies eliminated any possible inkling of voting for the Tories. The NDP couldn't organize a bake sale, and really, is this a man you want meeting foreign leaders? What is this election about, anyway?

Which leaves me, once again, on the fringe, looking at all the degenerates around me. I see before me, in no particular order, the Green Party, the Canadian Action Party, the Marijuana Party, and various Marxist outfits. The CBC does a commendable job of rounding up all things election into one place, and I'm going to have to pore over all of it, hopefully with the Queen at my side. In the comments section, how about you help me along?