Vacation. Stop.

July 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm (Uncategorized)

I realize one of the many reasons why I’m not a journalist is that I’m not very good with deadlines. I have a Kills piece I’m half-finished, along with something on the Tragically Hip and scalpers. This week I had planned to write something about Black Lives Matter and the events in Dallas. Then the Sanders campaign came to an end, andIi thought I should have a go at that. Then yesterday, the atrocity in nice.

And now I’m going on vacation for a week, which means little to nothing will get done.  It’s probably just as well I’ll miss the Julie Ruin and Mitski while I’m away – two more pieces I won’t complete.

But hey, I will have time to work on a talk about geography I’m giving at this year’s Toronto anarchist bookfair – my talk is on the Sunday afternoon. And I’ll be tabling both days. More details here 


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The New 52

July 10, 2016 at 6:10 pm (Uncategorized)

No, that the crappy DC reboot, now thankfully disappeared under some other line. It’s not just Dada. It’s my birthday too.

Along with

  • Archetype mad scientist Nikola Tesla
  • TV personality Jessica Simpson
  • Chumbawamba founder who once bought me a beer Alice Nutter
  • Determinist Jean Calvin
  • Funky painter Camille Pissaro
  • Critic Marcel Proust
  • Triffid fan John Wyndham
  • Superman c0-creatro Joe Shuster
  • Ragin’ bull Jake LaMotta
  • Munster Fred Gwyn
  • Brilliant Canadian author and mother of one of my former co-workers Alice Munro
  • Tennis star Virginia Wae
  • Firefly and Barney Miller alumni Ron Glass
  • Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant
  • Runaway Sandy West
  • Model and actress Sofia Vergara
  • Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Entourager Adrian Grenier
  • and many more

A friend of mine once said to me that birthdays were good for you. The more you have the longer you live. Agreed.


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Happy Birthday Dada!

July 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Actually, Thursday July 14 is the centenary of the reading of the Dada Manifesto by Hugo Ball. The birthday of Dada? Who knows, and any way, it seems unlikely that the Dadaists would have wanted a party (or maybe they would).

Today’s New York Times has this piece on it

But, you might also have a thumb through Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces or just watch this Talking Heads video for “I Zimbra”with lyrics by Hugo Ball.


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The Museum of Steam

July 9, 2016 at 10:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve written before about my enjoyment of steampunk. In fact, there’s a volume of Canadian steampunk stories waiting for me at the public library right now. So then it made sense to make a trip to Hamilton (about 45 minutes from Toronto) to see the Museum of Steam and Technology.(All of my wife’s friends at work thought I was a huge nerd for wanting to go)

The museum is actually a 150 year old waterworks which contains two 70-ton steam engines, and is pretty impressive. There is a guided tour (which added a lot for me), and some pretty cool steam related material. The tour guide insisted that it was a good place to work and that the management of the day treated workers fairly and without prejudice (have to check that one…) and while people did occasionally lose fingers, things were just dandy.  Whether or not you accept this, the tour was pretty cool and very informative. And although my kids disagreed, it is worth driving to Hamilton to see it.

And if you’re interested in other steampunk stuff, you could check out the Great Canadian Steampunk Exposition

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Pride and Black Lives Matter

July 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm (Uncategorized)

Six years ago to this day, I posted a short piece called Gay Pride 201o

Basically, I noted that in its history Toronto’s gay pride march had got from the smallish gay community and its leftist allies to the mass media spectacle it is today where prime ministers and premiers vie for camera space. When the turning point for this transformation was, I’m not sure, but it seems in the early nineties, the organizers were excluding leftists. Today of course, such exclusion is unnecessary as the parade has become a mass celebration of sexuality and the right to be whomever you choose rather than a protest, and on one wants to buy Workers Vampire. . But it’s also huge corporate sponsorship. Banks, TV companies, business from large to small all wish a happy pride and wrap themselves in the rainbow flag.

Hence the politicians. Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau was there. So was Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynn and Toronto’s Mayor John Tory. Hell, Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was there proclaiming his support for marriage equity. It wasn’t so long ago that Brown was courting the homophobic vote in order to become Tory leader, but it seems as if he’s realized there’s more votes among people who aren’t homophobic instead. It’s a remarkable change in just a couple of decades.

In 2010 though, the issue was a group calling themselves Queers Against Israeli Apartheid which threaten to, well, rain on the parade. Some wanted them excluded.; some insisted on their right to march. In the end, a compromise was reached, and the party proceeded as normal.

In 2016, it’s Black Lives Matter. As most people know, Black Lives Matter were invited  , but at some point during the parade, the switched tactics, sat down on the street, and refused to move unless certain demands were met, the most contentious of which was the exclusion of police floats (who knew?) from future pride events. Pride executive director Mathieu Chantelois agreed to the demands, allowing the parade to get underway again, only to recant the following day.

Three schools seem to have emerged.

  1. Those who thought that BLM had every right to do as they did, it being in the spirit of pride, as well as focusing attention on the issue of police violence. This was before the events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas, but even so there were no doubt quite a few who had experienced another side of police justice and weren’t at all happy after the presence of “Toronto’s finest.”
  2. Those who felt that BLM had abused the hospitality of Pride, held the parade hostage and attempted to focus on their issue (in the following week BLM was flooded with hate mail about their behaviour)
  3. Those who weren’t aware that anything had happened. After all, a delay of 30 minutes of so in a march of that size…

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, the only worse than being talked about is not being talked about, and BLM’s goal is fundamentally about inclusion not revolution. Inclusion means an end to the institutionalized racism of this society,and being a part of broader forces. Can BLM transform into something as fundamentally within the system as pride? It seems like as racism is much more deeply ingrained in society than homophobia and it seems that nothing less than revolution will be required to remove it, but it also seems unlikely that this will create a fundemantal crisis for either organization


PS. I had started writing this post, when the latest round of gun-related violence in the States began. I’ll write more about that later.

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Um Chagga Lagga

July 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm (Uncategorized)

If, like me, you were kinda disappointed by the Pixies last release Indie Cindy, the new single “Um Chagga Lagga” should delight.  Rockabilly flavoured and gloriously silly. And Paz Lanchantin too.

Listen at SoundCloud

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Dada Thought of the Day

July 6, 2016 at 7:38 pm (Uncategorized)

A while back I recommended Jed Rasula’s book on Dada Destruction was my Beatrice. Finished the book yesterday, and found this little piece of advice from Hugo Ball at the end:

“Let us be thoroughly new and inventive. Let us rewrite life everyday.”

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Donald Trump: Cartoon Super Villain. No, really.

July 3, 2016 at 6:23 pm (Uncategorized)

If you’re a reader of Spider-Gwen, then…wait? What? C’mon Spider-Gwen! The alternative Marvel story first published during the Spider-Verse story-line, where Gwen Stacy is bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker and…too much?

Anyway, the first Spider-Gwen annual was published recently and features a team-up with Captain America, who in this reality is an African-American woman named Samantha Wilson. In the story, Cap confronts a version of Baron Blood who seems an awful lot like Prince and also M.O.D.A.A.K (Mental Organism Designated as America’s King) a version of the main Marvel universe’s M.O.D.O.K., (Mental  Organism Designed Only for Killing), who looks a lot like Trump (the orange y  skin, the tiny tiny hands  and eating a taco bowl are the giveaways). M.O.D.A.A.K. almost gets to utter the trademark line, “Must make America…” when he’s hit by Cap’s shield.

Check out the story here

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Et tu Michael?

July 1, 2016 at 4:52 pm (Uncategorized)

My favourite line in Boris Johnson’s spectacular decision not to run after his presumed deputy Michael Gove announced his own bid, was that it’s not just the Labour Party which makes such a huge mess of things.

A friend of mine noted that the day after the vote, neither side in the Brexit Referendum seemed to have been prepared for the result. David Cameron has already announced his resignation. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned halfheartedly for Remain, has apparently lost the confidence of his MPs and may now have to quit too. And now, Boris Johnson, widely reviled in large segments of the population for his brazen opportunism, was apparently blindsided by his lieutenant and is likely done. (Perhaps he should have watched the 1978 film Power Play with Peter O’Toole and David Hemmings; Boris, you’re playing the David Hemmings part)

It’s like watching unruly kindergarten children.

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It Was 35 Years Today…

July 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm (Uncategorized)

No, it wasn’t Sgt. Pepper bringing the band to play.

July 1st is Canada Day. I briefly contemplated heading to downtown Toronto today where Captain Canuck wqs handing out free copies of the Chapterhouse Summer Special comic featuring Canuck, the Pitiful Human Lizard and more, but…

  1. I don’t really like parades
  2. That many maple leafs in one place would likely spark an allergic reaction
  3. It’s raining

And so, onto other things. Such as the subject of the post. It was 35 years ago today that I came to Canada, a few days short of my 17th birthday. It’s a bit foggy now, but I remember my uncle picking up the family in what seemed like a gigantic car and driving us along that endless highway to Port Dalhousie near St. Catharines on the shores of Lake Ontario.

I grew up on American and Canadian TV (for some reason both ITV and the BBC aired a lot of shows made by CTV – Forest Rangers, Swiss Family Robinson etc – go figure), but nothing quite prepares you for how big everything is. My image of the US, and Canada I suppose, was big. Big cars, big streets, big meals, big people. And Just more of everything. Imagine my surprise when I  find actual examples of that TV-filtered reality. In comparison, everything in England seemed, well, small and provincial.  Insular. Didn’t take long to shed those illusions though.

Wonder what the weather’s like in England today.


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