Friday, 5 December 2014

Jazz, Java and...Journeys? Yeah, sure.

      Preparing to bid goodbye to this southern paradise hidden gem place, one is reflective. I'm happy to have crammed a lot into not very much time, including a lot of the aforementioned wandering the French Quarter alone.


      I followed the smell of musty paper over gumbo into one of seven (yes, I got to all of them) different used and rare bookshops within a three block radius - truly this city is magical. Thought I might snag a 1st edition Faulkner as a Christmas present, then the shopkeep informed me that The Sound and the Fury ran about $19,500. Sooo...here's a picture of the case instead.



This was also delightful. Apparently booksmelling is a more pervasive issue than I previously realized.
With so much going on at street level, it's easy to forget to look up. But then you walk into the oldest continually operated (as they will continually remind you) Catholic church in North America. It's weird that so much awesome art and architecture comes from such a stupid thing. 
I sung Oh Happy Day. Alexander Black indeed.
Saw an awesome gospel choir as well (And I can guarandamntee these guys did not come from a Catholic background, but whatevs). Miss Betty Winn and One-a-Chord! Took this snap as I was leaving; I was right up front for the performance, which can be awfully intimidating when the lady looks directly at you and says "Get up and put your hands together!"

     
       Tuesday saw us on an enlightening swamp tour. It's worth nothing that we're down here for an unusually warm week during December, so we got to see a bit more than is common as far as alligator movement. Apparently they go into a state called brumation, basically reptile hibernation, which they're normally in by now. Swamp tour company might have mentioned that before we booked...luckily for them, alligators are honey badgers in regards to the weather. 

Apparently, this tree is famous.
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These guys had almost no fear of humans. They waved, ate marshmallows, came right up to the boat, and played chess.

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       What is it called when a domestic animal is introduced to a habitat for hunting, allowed to become feral, then gets nearly domesticated again?

Super cool is what it's called!
video

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Even though he basically told us to take this picture, the tour guide wasn't wrong, this is a pretty cool shot. A serene and unique environment, or something. 


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You catch the game last night?
Nah, dinner with the ol' lady.
       I was super stoked to hit the aquarium here, especially after missing the one in Chicago, though I think theirs is bigger and better. Still, enormous Amazon fish and otters and sharks and penguins and pythons and white gators and Dorys and jellyfish abound, and it was an awesome place, though I feel guilty and sad when I see a penguin relentlessly trying to swim through plexiglass. I could stay for hours and hours in peaceful places like that, but for the tourist talk. "Look at thaaat!" Actually I was here to check out my shoes in a new light.
It's a good song, but the male gives birth.


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I can't be the only one who thought this...

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      On the cemetery tour we found a whole bunch of history. It's different from most other body-stashing grounds because all of the tombs are above ground. People still say their voodoo prayers to the dead around these parts.

      The three Xs are wishes asked; the tokens (beads, red beans, books, cheese wheels, chewing gum) are thank-yous for wishes answered.

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      Everything in the city is sinking, but some of the oldest graves have dropped almost their entire depth below ground.

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      To give you an idea of the size of the place, I was standing in the middle and just turned around at a random spot to snap this. 

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      Cool tomb, eh? Doesn't the book add the perfect, rustic, mysterious touch? I would love this picture...
      ...but the fucking book is Twilight. Seriously. 

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      This lonely little corner, the only bit of the place that isn't horribly overcrowded, belongs to the Protestants. 
Lutheranism: ain't nobody got time for that. 
     
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      Guess who this snazzy number, with its fresh white coat and adoring lipstick all over, belongs to?
I was proud to have translated the Latin on my own, at least.
      Nicholas Cage. No bullshit. It's a pyramid. How pretentious can you be? One of our group said, "his career is already in there waiting for him."
     
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Blasphemy: it's what's for dinner!

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      Street artists were everywhere on my French Quarter meanderings, some very good, some not so much, but with the shit tonne of art galleries around here, the creative spirit is very much alive on canvas...


      ...and in music. It doesn't seem fair  that so much talent is concentrated in such a small area. I could have blown my entire budget just tipping awesome street artists before I ever bought a coffee in a dive, or got to Preservation Hall. These guys were my favourite, had to cop the CD. Some intense ass freestyling.


      On a couple different recommendations, checked out Preservation Hall. I'm standing at the very back of the room in this picture; "Hall" might be a bit misleading. Still, it was my favourite experience from the entire trip, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is second to none.






      Whenever I come somewhere new, I think, "could I live here?"


Pro:

  1. No harsh winter.
  2. Bountiful, rich local coffee culture. Spitfire Coffee wins out as the best place I found all trip, despite (because of?) being roughly the size of a closet.
  3. Much of the area, including the French Quarter is low. Not many buildings over three stories, and most are two. One doesn't feel contained by towering buildings, like downtown Toronto or Chicago.
  4. Jazz on Jazz on Jazz! Errywhurr! Other music, too. Saw some great acts at random dives.
  5. There is still very much a collaborative public sense of rebuilding and rebirth after Katrina. Plus I think people are just friendlier in general - perhaps the mentality that grows up when a place is a tourist attraction. Here, you meet eyes with a stranger, any age, colour, or gender, and smile; maybe one in twenty doesn't smile back. At home, the stock response to eye contact is "THE FUCK YOU LOOKING AT?!"
  6. Cajun/creole cooking is...just wonderful.
  7. A lot of history.
  8. Potential to bump into Anne Rice.
  9. People keep paying for my meals. 
Con:
  1. No harsh winter
  2. A dearth of fresh vegetables, both at stores and restaurants. Confused me, for a port city. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places?
  3. Crowds and crowds and crowds
  4. TRAFFIC
  5. No Naples Pizza, Acapulco Delight, Shawarma Palace, Pho Xic Lo, Gyros and More...Windsor is culinarily spoiled, and I'm okay with that.*
  6. It's December, and I'm sitting on a porch sweating. Summer would kill me.
  7. A lot of erroneous history...shit, I thought people in Detroit were confused about 1812.
  8. Potential to bump into Channing Tatum or Nicholas Cage.
  9. I don't think people would keep paying for my meals.
  10. Booze in public, at all hours = All my friends would be dead. 
      I think #s 1,2 and 5 on the Contra list are enough to keep me home, for now anyway. I'll have to be content with Starbucks and jazz on CD. Either way, a lovely experience, and I'm sure I will be back someday.

      *Addendum: just took a stroll for a lovely, normal-ass breakfast and passed four different Vietnamese restaurants. They're probably not as good as Pho Xic Lo, but at least I wouldn't go hungry.

      I'm gonna eat the shit out of some kale when I get home.

Me writing this post.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Airports, New Orleans Bound, Recycling and Racism


This idiot again. 
      Can you buhlee da holidays have already started? I can, because I work in retail, so don't bitch to me about "too many Christmas songs." But f'oreal. I'm currently enjoying what will assuredly be the best gift I receive this year - a paid trip to New Orleans. Initially hesitant - I don't get along with anyone, and I'm in a house with 13 other people? - I came around to the idea in a big way. History! Jazz music! Not having to go to work! Delaying the Canadian winter!

      By the way, it is a balmy 73 degrees with a light wind as I sit at my coffee table on the porch and write this. The locals all have pants and hoodies on. Ha! They've all forgotten they were Canadian. This is basically how I want to die. 

A couple minutes before touchdown in NOLA.
      After accidentally trying to smuggle a steak knife through customs in my backpack (seriously.), a calm flight led us here without event. Well, I couldn't listen to Protest the Hero's Volition, which has been my go-to lately, as the final track vividly describes death in a plane crash (it's a metaphor!), but that was a small sacrifice to make to not freak out. God, but I hate flying. Anywho, the absolutely gorgeous Fleur de Lis Mansion, walking distance from lots of the major attractions round these parts, has proven comfortable and elegant. I might be the only person in the world who finds the highway that passes over the nearby houses to be a perfect lullaby. Whatevs.


Cuz you ain't (and shouldn't) shit without a shower TV



The house is awesome and lavish, and obviously very old, tucked into a nondescript area. If you were standing on the front porch, looking out at the neighbourhood, you'd never think such a great establishment was behind you. Perhaps even better than the gracious and welcoming hostess, the proximity to attractions, and the wonderful weather is the mindfuckingly abundant amount of TVs and coffee makers in this house. Truly we live in an age of wonders.






This is my room, the Jazz Room, obvz. Someone as beautiful as me could only but appreciate the surplus of mirrors. Also, it opens on to a second floor porch where I can enjoy the breeze while I write and drink coffee,










      ...And spectate upon the neighbours. Yes, that is a hobo camp under the expressway. Sigh... Get creative, homeless people!


I wasn't quite sure how to interpret this juxtaposition. Are they telling the little porcelain man in blackface not to trespass? Or is he the one watching you 24 hours a day? I'd normally be creeped out, but instead I named him Warren and made a new friend. 

      Tripadvisor advised us to take a trip to the World War II Museum, which was only a sunny five minute walk from the house. So we did. I won't bore -does it matter? no one is reading - with my revelations on the hardships of war, but some of the other elements were absolutely fascinating. For example, I knew that wartime efforts in the U.S. redirected just about all industries, but some of the posters made it apparent just how pervasive this production effort was.

Top left: "If it'll save a second, it's a great idea; let's have it! Shortcuts can shorten the war." (One can't help but think with all the automotive recalls always popping up that maybe they never cancelled this policy)
Top right: Poster advises people to save all household fats from cooking to use for explosives.
Bottom right: Responsible motoring is part of the war effort, too. "Check your tires now"

      With some of the things (like taxes, and the military-industrial complex) that persisted after WWII, it's a shame this level of recycling didn't take and keep national hold. The world would be a very different place...and less fat. No one in any of those videos or pictures was fat. Wartime rations anyone?




      This is another poster from the same series, this one depicting Axis leaders Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito as bowling pins and production as the ball. Again, too bad this sort of collaborative mentality can only unite such a large and diverse country when there is a threat to point it at, but impressive nonetheless.

      Lots more to say about such an impressive museum, but I'll just leave it at a strong recommendation. One is tempted to marvel at the boats and planes and tanks, guns and knives and rocket launchers, and massive military plans, but the most affecting parts were the two minute snippets scattered all about with personal anecdotes; they succeed far better in communicating the realities. 





      At the door, we met a WWII vet, a paratrooper from the U.S 101st Airborne who had been at Normandy. One wants to be respectful with elders and veterans (especially of the less controversial wars), but my stomach turns at the kind of soldier-worship we often see. All this meant was that I tried to ask different questions from what he would be used to, but I couldn't trip him up. The old gentleman's responses were perfect.

      Vet: We were meant to land here [gestures to secure American base], but instead we wound up way up here [far to the northwest of destination, on the other side of a large Nazi base].

      Me: So you had to go through them?
      Vet: Oh, hell no. We went around.

      He also proudly displayed a picture of himself on a motorcycle he had taken off a German soldier. "I rode that thing everywhere for two months," he said. I guess even then, people could recognize superior engineering. #Benz #hahaha #SorryBig3 #didyouhavethatrecallforthekeys?alittlefuckinpieceofplasticgimmeabreak

      After the museum we returned to the house, only to find that all the young people had left for Bourbon Street to get well and truly dickered. I'd care, but I don't care. The only thing I need less than a violent hangover is a violent hangover in a foreign city. I'll go wander the French Quarter alone or something.


Back at the house, vacay chillin, nawmean?

#plentyofswag

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wretched Are the Peacemakers

You know 'em. You're getting into a heated debate and your blood is boiling, your sense of awareness rises with your volume. Your synapses start firing like they never get a chance to in the drudge of your daily life. You're recalling philosophies long dormant, welcoming them like old friends. Adrenaline rushes. You're trading barbs, and wit, and facts, and popping balloons, and taking hits, and you've forgotten all about your food because the succor of the intellectual battleground is so much sweeter.

      And some flimsy-wristed milquetoast has to come and go "Well, I guess everyone has their own opinion!"

      ... or change the topic to the weather, or the news, smothering intelligent conversation in political correctness and limp manners.

      These are the same people who say no one will ever win the science vs. religion debate, so why bother talking about it at all? They are not accustomed to giving reasons in conversations; nor speaking publicly about controversial topics (at least outside of their own pet causes). They think that because arguments are prolonged and charged up, they are futile, or act that way, in any case.

      I am not referring here to the moderators: those who say "But if you say X, then how can it be Y" or who seek to find common ground, or a third (or fourth, etc.) solution. I mean the people who shut things down entirely, who fancy themselves peacemakers but are really stifling intelligent debate.

      They are uncomfortable with loud voices, or feel out of place when they can't insert themselves into a conversation. They feel bad for someone who is losing an argument (those who should have shut up), or they feel afraid of people who have strong enough positions to say them with conviction. They accuse people like me of being strident or confrontational because we care about things.

      Even some of my best friends and closest family take on this role sometimes, trying to decompress a good thing and thereby sucking the life out of one of the few situations wherein I ever feel alive.

      Can not that person you're debating with remove themselves from the conversation if they are uncomfortable? Would you, as a friend or loved one, not respect their wishes if they said they wanted to stop talking about it? Of course you would, because disagreeing with someone does not mean disliking. But the transfer and consideration of information and ideas is one of the single best things that you can do, bar none, and should be partaken of with a glad heart and fire in the gut.

      So the next time you're considering dropping some stupid platitude on a lively argument, like "Well, it just is what it is," or "We aren't going to change anything here at this table," do the world a favour, and kindly shut the hell up.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Celebrity Nude Leaks...are still important: A Thought Association


Why is this news?
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Why don't hackers spend a few minutes a day solving the issues of climate change or overpopulation?
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Do these computer experts not know there are lots of naked people on the internet?
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Why does the world have a boner for Jennifer Lawrence?
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Why was Catching Fire the single corniest movie I've ever seen, featuring several award winning actors?
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Why is Divergent allowed to exist, ripping off The Hunger Games almost as blatantly as The Hunger Games ripped off Battle Royale?
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Why does young women's fiction have to pander, instead of inspire?
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Why are the biggest trend franchises in Hollywood taking their cues from specifically adolescent literature? (I'm counting 50 Shades here.)
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Why, when I was growing up, was it semi-impressive to adults that I was reading certain books or series, and now when young people read at all, they're looked at with a sort of confused awe?
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What's with the race to the bottom?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

It is Right to be Black, and it is Black to be Right

#ReallyColumbusing

Chris and I discovered Chicago. There we found Chris, who had discovered some other shit.

It's good to have land.


The Lone Olympiacos Fan In Our Section
We may never walk alone, but you'll sit by your goddam self.

Confused Activism
Liverpool F.C (England) VS Olympiacos F.C (Greece)
Olympiacos fans think "Kosovo is Serbia." Can't tell if serious.



The Redneckest Menu Ever:
65% whiskey. I somehow doubt that after the 9, 10, and 11 dollar shots, you can tell the difference between the 50 and 60 dollar shots.
The waitress was nice.

A Commercial For Spaying & Neutering:
These two are too close for my liking already.
Awwwtheyresocayooooootizzapuppsnuggliebooboos.


Possible Christmas Card?
Faves. I'm calling it "Black and Tan Wonderland"

L-R: Alexander Black the Right (with a tan), Mali, Molly, Starbucks, JFish

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Guilty by Word Association

The customers had thrown things on the floor, like they do. She walked down the aisle, which was the wedding aisle (but not that wedding aisle, she walked down that long ago), picking everything up. Nice! she yelled. Look at this! It's everywhere!

No, you're everywhere.

Your.......everywhere.

Your haaaair is...

I'm 17 or 18, walking back up the stairs of the Legion in Belle River, I think, and the electric throb of a hardcore show is no longer shaking the wood paneling. There's a melody in the air. Her hand is in mine.

As we crest the staircase, we see a crowd, who was, fifteen minutes ago when we went outside to fight, beating the living shit out of each other in the primal construct called a mosh pit; they're now swaying back and forth, not quite in unison, belting out the refrain (not quite in unison).

Screaming infiDELitiiiiiies!

Weren't these guys the badass hardcore headliners? What the hell is going on?

And taking itsssssswear.

Fuck it.

YOOOOOOUUUUR HAAAAAAIIIIIR IIIIISSS.

I'm singing louder than everyone else. She's looking at me like I just sprouted a third arm. She loves this song, maybe, though I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what infidelities are.

We had to fight because I "ignored" her, which I didn't, to talk to the sister of a friend of ours (whose earlier performance is actually the reason we're here), who happens to be friends with a girl who liked me, who I didn't then like, but who I did end up dating years later. Was this the first time I told a girlfriend she's batshit? Was it the first time I was wrong? Or was it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Saw that same friend's sister recently, for the first time in forever, too. Brains are weird. I didn't ignore anyone to talk to her this time.

EEEEEEEEEEEEVERRRRYYYYYYWHEEEEEEEERE!

This acoustic/crowd-chorus version is wayyy better than the original.

I'm walking down another aisle, cleaning more stupid customer mess and I've been singing the song over and over again (reading your note), for days now, belting that shit out with zero shame. Memories are weird.

FTB

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Giggly Bitches

I don't know which  I find more aggravating:

Hearing the giggly bitches enter from across the store, loud and laughing and too young still to be irritating bartenders, though one of their poor stupid parents lent one of them the car, while they yammer on about how when they were kissing, he totally grabbed her ass, and I dread the wreckage they shall surely leave in their wake as they try on every stupid piece of everything and put it back in its proper place on the ground, and oh my god, look at this. Like look at this. Like oh my god guys look. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!111!9124129yifqhuf!!!!

OR

The part where I come around the corner and they shriek in delight at having been discovered at their dress-up play, scampering off and muttering to each other how that guy just saw us, as if anyone gives a flying rat fuck that you can put a mask on your face and wave a noisemaker in the air to make some noise. Since we all know you're not buying shit, and you got your requisite selfies, can't you just walk away now, so I can go about cleaning up after your slovenly, giggly asses, already?

But I know I need a new job either way.