Saturday, 21 January 2017

Lively? He's Just Loud.

     At the start of 2015 I decided that year would not be as terrible as the one that had preceded it, and by and large it wasn't. I got two new jobs, both of which I love, a new car, a new (first!) house. I put a pretty nice bow on it, if I do say so myself - which I do at length, ask my friends.

     2016 was a different beast, and the year that sucked for everyone also sucked a lot for me. Mostly, I just worked too much, with every weekday being devoted, from 7 a.m to 10 p.m, to one job or the other (and that's not counting the shifts every Saturday). Coincidentally, (but maybe not?!) two different pop songs were heavily present on the airwaves last year, the choruses of which were just "work, work, work, work." I'm a one man show, so I had no time for anything or anyone, because even when I wasn't at work, I was focusing on my own welfare and responsibilities. I'm not upset that I got my finances right, and I'm not upset that I spent my minimal free time keeping myself healthy, my dogs walked, and my house clean (mostly). What I'm saying is I don't regret my choices, but that lifestyle caught up with me towards the end of the annum. 

     I felt lonely. I felt exhausted. I felt like I had missed out on everything. I felt estranged from my family and friends. I felt like I was shortchanging my furry, four-legged charges, which is inexcusable to me. The one week of vacation I took didn't do much for my stress level. I couldn't even remember what I really liked. How much had I written? A few thousand words, all year? How many books had I read all year? Eight or nine, maybe? How goddamned long had I been single? Even the American election deeply affected me, perhaps more profoundly than it should have (time will tell). I buckled. That opened the door for an old friend.

     It's taken me most of my life to be able to talk about it in anything besides hushed tones or self-deprecating jokes (though those latter still help), but I feel like I don't care what anyone thinks anymore. If they're uncomfortable, fuck 'em, not the kind of people I need around. If I must normalize it to everyone around me, I will do that alone, as I do everything else. I never had the assistance of the Tumblr hordes or a counselor. My mom made a deal with me to talk to a therapist, once, when I was much younger. What I got from that deal was one of the most uncomfortable, irritating, sad hours of my life, a personal disposition against therapists, and a copy of Final Fantasy VIII (a game I still love, and quote). 

     Not that it's quite en vogue now, because many (most?) people still don't know what to do when others can't be cheered up, but a lot of the stigma about depression has evaporated, especially as more and more famous folk come out with their struggles. The Rock is one such, the kind of personable, funny, handsome guy whose achievements are legion, but who has dealt with "that beast" throughout his life.

     Some have even framed it helpfully, like comedian Jim Jefferies, who puts forth (I'll paraphrase) that all the most successful people in the world are deeply unsatisfied with life, and the reason is that they don't bother with glass half full or empty bullshit, but simply ask, "Why isn't that fucking glass full?" This wasn't just an ego boost for me, it made a lot of good sense. 

     That said, depression hasn't really gotten any easier to talk about, past breaching the subject, because it's such a strange phenomenon. 

     If you don't experience it, it's something you simply can't know. I've tried to describe depression a million ways, but the best I ever came up with is: no matter what you do, everything sucks. Drop yourself in a situation that nine of ten times you love, but under the dark cloud, you hate. You can't explain to the people that brought you to your favourite restaurant why you aren't hungry, you just aren't. You don't know how to describe to your girlfriend that of course you still love her but something is wrong inside you.  And that's only my experience. I'd wager someone else would tell it to you very differently. 

     Depression doesn't mean you're an introvert (though I am). It doesn't mean you're a loser (I probably am), or that you like The Cure (I most certainly do not). Like atheism, depression says very little about any of your other attributes, at least when you're your best self. Yes, thank you, I have, in fact, been told that I have a lovely smile and should show it off more, but my face doesn't work like that. We aren't trying to be difficult. It's simply that our shadows talk back to us.

     When it's on you, you don't want to shut anyone out, and you don't want to make excuses, but no one helps (and they usually make it worse), and, as I said, everything sucks. You don't really want to be alone, but everyone wants to talk about it, and try and help you in the normal ways. It isn't their fault, but that shit doesn't work.

     Plus, there are some who don't try to help, and don't care to understand. To them, you're just a whiny bitch. Yes, everyone gets down at times. I would hope it goes without saying in 2017, but for the love of god and Batman, it is not the same thing. How can I be so sure? Because I've been in a good mood, and stubbed my toe, or lost my car keys, or got a shitty paycheque, or been rained on during my commute, or whatever. I've gone through breakups when I was in a healthy mind state that didn't bring me half so low as depression did while I was in a good relationship.

     It. Is. Not. The. Same. Thing.

     There are a lot of drugs out there for dealing with it, but I'm anti-drug except when really necessary (I write this with a strong antibiotic hopefully killing the bacteria in my sinus and lungs, because I'd really like to hit the gym). I have friends who have used some of these treatments, and the verdicts are roundly poor: A strange, plateaued existence that didn't allow him to experience sadness, but neither joy; a loss of her appetite; a huge increase in his appetite; dissolution of her treasured sex drive; et cetera. These drugs screw with our brains and bodies in ways that cannot be accurately predicted, and I'm not down with that.

     Besides, I feel the verdict isn't really in on depression. Maybe this is an amateur evaluation, but it doesn't seem to affect everyone the same. Some people experience it only in their teenagers years, when hormones are the worst. Others have episodes intermittently, and some only after some kind of trauma, while still others fight all their lives. That's before you even begin to examine the physical and mental sources. How many cases could be solved, or treated, with exercise? How many people just need more niacin in their diet?

     How do you start a relationship in a healthy state of mind, but also prepare another person for the crash? I realize everyone has their demons, but it seems unfair. "Oh yeah, and by the way, some times I'll be inconsolably miserable. It's got little to nothing to do with you,but you'll have to deal with it peripherally. Sorry."

     It's a beast that you have to make friends with, and accept, because the fight will tire you beyond self-recognition. Depression doesn't beat you violently, it wears you and pulls you down, like an abusive relationship. In fact, it's a lot like an abusive relationship with yourself, except it's pretty much impossible to annul, so you have to frame it on your terms.

     In this respect, I'm lucky for my natural intolerance to alcohol, and I never had any interest in drugs or cigarettes. Any kind of vice coupled with depression can be a death knell, we've all seen it. I have friends with no such luck, and the things that combination has done to them are hideous.

     I've stumbled upon a few coping mechanisms in my days. I maintain that getting a dog is one of the best decisions I ever made; there's something transcendent and simple about the love of an animal. Besides the responsibility and care I learned, there's a consistency there that exists few other places in the world. In a sense, pet ownership was the first real act of my adult life. At the time, I only did it because I've always liked dogs, but the therapeutic value was immeasurable.

     Nutrition and physical fitness, too, have been great aides. All of this seems very straightforward now - if you eat well and exercise, you'll feel better - but in the worst years, during high school and early university, you couldn't have paid me to eat the vegetables I enjoy so much now, and to this day I'm still not sure I really enjoy working out, for the lack of mental stimulation (I know, I know, probably what I need). But I do it, and it definitely works. In fact, I thought for a while I might have cured myself in this way, but when I wasn't able to attend to my training, as per my Year of the Grind, depression came surging back.

     But all these things came later. They weren't there when things were worst. At those times, the only tool I had was the earliest gift my mother ever gave me (Well, besides life. Don't split hairs.) What I had was reading, and writing. I had, and have, words. 

     I had the words and voices of Poe and Lovecraft and Yeats (and like... every Irish writer [person?] ever) and Tupac (yes I am hereby asserting that Pac was depressed), with all their summary flaws, and I had my own words. In the same way, in the realm of music, I'm a lyrics guy first, the aesthetic is rarely enough on its own. So, sorry Paul McCartney, some of your songs are real dumb. 

     The Raven will forever be my favourite poem, maybe my favourite piece of writing entirely, because it A) is just a very, very, well constructed piece of awesome, and B) conveys an obvious understanding of emotions that are extremely difficult to phrase. 

     Even video games, though a favourite target of pushed-away parents, are often just playable stories, and who discounts the value of a good read? Worth mentioning: In a bizarre twist, the protagonist of the aforementioned Final Fantasy game is a loner with an endlessly analytical internal monologue, who exhibits many signs of depression, and I'd wager that, subtly, that game probably helped me a lot more than the therapy did. Sad people can save the world!

     In that a depressed person often doesn't necessarily want to be alone, but also doesn't want to try and explain their inexplicable malaise, a few words that come from the same place can be infinitely more helpful than hours of circular, frustrating conversation - just for their silent companionship, just to know you're not alone.

      I guess it seems internally contradictory that something depressing can help with depression. But that's an outsider's observation. When you're already there, when you're in the pit, that kind of connection is a lifeline. 

     "I dream of blood, and suffering, and a loneliness so empty that an echo can't survive." That's a quote from Lamb, a comedic take on the life of Jesus, probably the funniest book I've ever read. Great line, isn't it? Seems out of place for a blasphemous, funny book, doesn't it? It also speaks to me on a level that most people can't. It tells me that your profession, your very essence, may be laughter, but you can still fight the dark inner demons that some are fortunate enough to never know. It tells me those demons hide everywhere.

     Of course, you don't know this is why you gravitate towards these things, especially when you're younger, but I propose that doesn't matter in the slightest. It definitely doesn't for me.

     There was nothing that prompted this writing besides the acknowledgment, to myself, of what it is I live with. Maybe the shit storm of 2016 made me realize that my personal issues really aren't that big a deal. Maybe I'm just too old to care anymore. 

     When I wrote my prediction for 2015, I wasn't being specific, I had no real game plan. I just wanted better for myself, so I took, and made, opportunities. The job I was working when I wrote that was a huge source of misery for me (and continues to be one for my unfortunate friends still stuck there). The idea that you can completely block out the influences of others sounds very mature and independent, but it's more naive than anything. So I changed my situation, and things got better. Then I changed it again, and they turned downward. 

     Now, I'm changing them yet again. 

     Depression will never not be a part of me. That acceptance brought me a strange contentment, bordering on joy. When I viewed it logically, I knew what to do.

     I've written twice as much in the three weeks since New Years than I did for the entirety of 2016. Yesterday, while I was resting, letting my body fight this bacterial infection, I played Skyrim for hours (between naps), and had no guilt about wasted time. I've been to the gym more in the last month than in the three months before that combined. I haven't yet had time to read a lot, but I have a doozy of an order coming in from Indigo, and I dug up a bunch of great new music while I sat around drinking coffee this morning. 

     I don't do New Years' resolutions, I just resolve and do. That's me, that's who I am. I don't want to parade my happiness anymore than I want to parade my depression. That's part of the introvert in me, but it's a pretty personable introvert. So I won't mark my changes, I'll just change. I don't want mile markers, I'll remember the journey by the trees and the sky. 

     Speaking of, if you'll excuse me, my dogs and I are going for a run. 


Sunday, 24 July 2016

I Once Ate the Front Bumper of a Taurus From Below


     I'm not much of a joiner. Never have been, never will be. When I form my own uninfluenced opinion of something, then find it in line with that of others, especially popular opinion, I second guess myself.

      When I heard Uptown Funk, I thought it must be the best song of the last ten years. Then everyone loved it, and I didn't anymore, and I had a lot of (valid) reasons why, but the suspicion started with my distrust of the crowd.

      So now that there is a burgeoning local cycling movement, I am conflicted. Cycling is quick, easy, healthy, and cheap. It's good for you, and the environment, and for most people who live in a city of any size, can get you where you need to be without much difference in commute time. In many places in Europe, this is the sort of thing that is just known. Some of the most famous tourist destinations in the world are car-free, or else, car-limited. [I strongly recommend a perusal of this link.]

      There are great resources, such as local bike shops that offer goods and services that just would not be available without the upswing of cycle culture.

      But, I don't want to take a dozen pictures of every bike related thing I do. I don't want to ride with fifty other people. Hell, I often don't want to ride with one other person, because I'm either going too fast for them, or too slow, depending on who I'm with. I don't want to be in a club, or on a billboard, I don't want to fetishize cycling.  I just want the world to make sense. I just want to ride my bike, and be left the hell alone, most significantly by cars in a hurry. I'm Freddie Mercury out here, people.

      As with all important issues (yes, emissions reduction and a healthier lifestyle for the general population is massively important), I wish no one ever had to say anything. I wish the facts were evident without having to take a needle to every personal bubble where people think their silly little misinformed thoughts. Look at the hate that pride groups, or civil rights groups, or feminists, or really anyone trying to do something to make the world better, experiences. That's common, and such hate is a common reaction to any group like that on the come-up. Hell, the term "Social Justice Warrior" has somehow become a pejorative.

     So, I don't want to join that group. I can articulate on my own, without logos, labels, or limericks; I don't need or want someone to speak for me.

     Further, I've noticed that, when it comes to cycling, almost everyone is wrong (and I am not here suggesting I am totally in the right, but, righter than many). Most people can be forgiven their prejudices pretty easily; for both cyclists and motorists there is no public education program for how to deal with this new plague of eco-friendly, healthy monsters.

      That means a lot of cyclists don't know how to behave on the road, and a lot of motorists don't know how to behave around cyclists. I don't want to discuss the rules. I am not a public educator. I am a goon, here to whack people over the head with the mallet of sense. I'm like nerdy Thor.

      Not being a part of such a community does stir some internal conflict. A united front would go a long way to influencing both policy and public opinion, which is desperately needed. However, all debates around the subject inevitably degrade into useless shouting/typing matches, and have no use for things like facts, evidence, and logic.If you've looked at any groups going head up these days, you might notice that "united fronts" seem only to further divide people.

      We're a small minority, I know, but we're growing (even that "we" hurts my soul). Cycling is coming into vogue, and big cities especially are adding them into their urban plans. People, even old curmudgeons, will have to approach this issue with maturity and logic instead of anger and habit...or habitual anger.

     And I well understand the motorist's frustration with bikes. With Windsor lacking protected lanes in most places, bikes are, at best, in the way, and often in dangerous violation of the law.

      Asshole Cyclists I've seen in the last month:

      -A group of idiots riding against traffic on a busy road. This is a good way to die.

      -A man who looked like he should really know better in his full cycling kit complete with helmet and rearview, probably in his mid-fifties, cut around me (I was in a truck) then circled left around a car at a red light, to go on through the red.

      -People zipping up sidewalks with no regard for pedestrians.

      -An old guy in my neighbourhood who almost certainly lost his licence to a DUI, balancing a case and a garbage bag of empty bottles for return to The Beer Store, dumped his load in the street - shattering glass all over the road and sidewalk. He rode away.

      All of these are reprehensible behaviours, and I won't even start in on what the hell people on E-Bikes think they're doing. Stupid cycling can make accidental murderers out of motorists, devastating someone's life for no fault of their own.

      But this is not every cyclist, so let's cut the fuckin' shit.

      I've heard many blisteringly stupid arguments against bikes, such as:

      -They slow down traffic.
      Except, no, they don't really, especially in a city, with stop lights and lots of cars on the road. Time it, I dare you.

      -They don't deserve the roads that motorists pay for.
      Except most cyclists still pay taxes, and the majority also drive cars, so, no. If you really want to allocate the road based on whose taxes pay for the largest portions of it, then we can all drive on about a six foot patch of pavement. Sounds efficient.

      -They break the rules.
      You don't speed? You don't check your phone in the car? Never done a rolling stop? Everyone breaks the rules. The average cycling infraction is far, far less consequential than that of a motor vehicle, so unless you're prepared to go after jay walkers and people doing 10 km over the speed limit on the 401, temper your argument with sense.

      Here's my argument.

      Bikes, the easiest way to make sure you aren't being an asshole on the road is to just act like you're in a car. Since you're going slow, move over to let people pass as long as it is safe to do so. For the love of god, stop at stop signs and lights. Don't be an asshole just because you can. 

      And if you're in a car and come upon a bike, act like they're a car. You wouldn't pass a car within millimetres, and you wouldn't scream at a car for exercising their basic right to turn left. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life.

       It won't solve everything every time, but it's a really good way not to kill anyone.

      I don't want to be a cycling advocate. That does not mean I want to be in the opposing group. I just want healthy people and a healthy planet.

      Although Jaws is definitely my scene, and I do like Star Wars.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

UnderOath Rebirth Tour


Friday, April 8, 2016.

Feels like coming home.

Top 5 best shows ever (+ Elton John solo, BtBaM's Parallax II tour, Protest's Fortress front-to-back tour, and Ke$ha.)

My neighbours my neighbours.

Caspian's frontman looks like Kev.

Casting Such a Thin lens flare.  
Spencer's gonna eat your heart. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Goliath and David, Swords and Pens


       The shepherd boy, with his sling stolen from a dead soldier who was surely more practiced with it than he, nonetheless let fly a stone straight and true. Onlookers marveled at his courage, his faith. When the projectile struck its mark, and the giant staggered, hearts on one side of the ravine sunk, those on the other side soared.

      Goliath recovered his footing and straightened up. His forehead was already sprouting a mighty goose egg, so he discarded the helmet that chafed at it. Then he laughed.

      David, to his credit, only stood there, shaking, for a moment, before loading up another stone. Marvelously, this one, too, hit Goliath, but it glanced off the bronze breastplate and caused no damage.

      Goliath was a warrior, from a race of warriors, who admired valor and lived by a code of honour, crude and violent though it may have been. As such, he respected the valiance of the youth, but could not bring himself to treat him as an equal.

      "What god is this that would send a child against men?" he asked his steward.

      "They believe their faith strengthens them," the steward answered. It was a strange custom to the Philistines, who made sacrifices, but of their enemies, not their children.

      "I will not give battle to a boy," he told the steward. Then, to the enemy camp, he shouted. "Will you hide behind your children? Not one of you is man enough to face me? Saul? Will you not stand for your people?"

      No voices made reply, and the wind mocked them all.

      Then, as Goliath stared down his cowardly opponents, another stone struck him, straight between the eyes. It had not come from David, who had been stock-still, muttering to himself with his eyes closed since his second shot found itself ineffective. Goliath stumbled backward, slipped, lost his footing, and buckled sideways to the ground.

     "Now, boy!" yelled a voice. A cacophony of similar cries rose to join it.

      David ran forward to where the giant lay dazed in the dirt. "Not so big on your back, eh Philistine?" he mocked, reaching for Goliath's sword. "Your size is nothing to the God who made us all."

     "I let you live, shepherd. What do you mean to do now?"

      In answer, David grasped the sword, nearly as tall as he, with both hands, but he struggled to raise the blade. He fought with the weight as Goliath sat up, shaking the cloud off his head. David's small arms shook and strained, but he dropped the sharp edge in the dirt, the point grazing Goliath's breastplate harmlessly.

     "You're brave, I'll give you that," said Goliath, snatching the sword from David, then throwing it to his steward who caught it easily. "Would you like to learn how to use that properly? Would you like to grow up strong, instead of herding sheep?"

     "The Lord is my strength!" David yelled, and rushed at the giant, throwing his fists wildly.

     Goliath stuck a huge hand out and snatched the boy by the face. "Look at me!" He shook the youth's head in his grip, but the crazed look would not leave David's eyes.

      "Fine," said Goliath, "then go. But remember who let you live, and who sent you out to die. When your brothers lie dead all over this valley with mine, remember that if they had been men, they could have ended this with almost no blood." He threw the boy, headfirst, into the dirt, disgusted, then turned and walked back up the ridge with his steward.

       "What shall we tell the men?" the steward asked.

       "Nothing," said Goliath. "Unless these Hebrews come to face us like men, we will leave this place in three days. There will be no battle to record. There is nothing for us in this desert, anyway. I will not stain the sand or the men's blades with the blood of fanatical cowards for a scrap of desolate coast."

       David picked himself up from the dirt, scared and scraped and scratched but otherwise unharmed. He ran with all the speed he could muster back to Saul's tent, and recounted what happened through trembling lips, his stutter plaguing him the whole while.

      The wind picked up, and tore through valley. A rare rain broke through the skies that evening, lashing at the tents in both camps. The next morning, Goliath and his steward stood in the mud, calling the same challenge, but it went unanswered. For two more days, the camps faced each other silently, until the orders were given and the Philistines packed up and headed back down to their ships.

      The Hebrews cheered their victory, saying the Lord sent the storms to chase the invaders off, saying the faith of the shepherd boy broke the giant's courage. They broke camp and headed for home. On the march, Saul ordered his scribe.

      "The world must know how the Lord sent the boy to turn back the giant. Write what happened here, that the kingdom will know their God protects them."

      "Why not kill the giant?" asked the scribe.

      "Hm?" asked Saul.

      "They're gone, either way, right? Perhaps the Lord gave the boy the strength to slay Goliath. Perhaps this was a heroic victory for the Hebrews." The scribe bounced his eyebrows and gestured to where David sat, shaking and mumbling, rocking side to side as the donkey carried him dutifully along. "The boy has faith in spades, that cannot be denied."

      "Whatever," said the king, with a wave of his hand. "Just write something."











Friday, 2 January 2015

2015 is...

...not going to be miserable and depressed. I've decided. Over it.

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.
~

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

~

       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

~

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. 


~


 
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.


~

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

~

      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.

~

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

~

      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. 

~

      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. 

~

      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. 
     
~

      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."
     
~

Blasphemy: it's what's for dinner!

~

      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