Communicating Vessels #28

May 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Communicating Vessels is one of those publications which isn’t in my mind too often. And then, an issue appears in my mail box, and I fall in love with it all over again.  Each issue contains personal essays on the nature of existence in capitalist society (we are in it, but not of it) and the spaces which still exist. The issues are beautifully laid out, and contain poems , illustrations and epigrams to provoke and to puzzle. The only oddity  in this issues is the generally positive review of Jan Valtin’s  rather dubious Out of the Night, a book which has been described by one of its recent publishers as a work on “fictional biography” for its creative and factual liberties.

There’s no web site or email. If you want a copy send some dollars to Anthony at PO Box 2048, Tuscon, Arizona, 85702, USA

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What is Alienation?

May 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized)

“Alienation – I know it is there whenever I sing a love song or recite a poem, whenever I handle a banknote or enter a shop, whenever I glance at a poster or read a newspaper. At the very moment the human is defined as ‘having possessions,’ I know it is there, dispossessing the human.”

Henri Lefebvre – The Critique of Everyday Life

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Back to the Garage: Boss Hog in Toronto

May 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized)

A funny thing  happened as I reached Lee’s Place on Friday night; I was asked for ID by the guy on the door. “How old are you?” I asked, “Because,  I’m 52.” The other guy mumbled something about being asked for insurance purposes, but in any event, in I went. Phew!

CatL were already on stage. Damn! I’d wanted to get there before their set started, but ended up having to park further away than planned. For those who don’t know, catL are a garage-punk blues duo of guitar and drums (once a duo, then a trio, now a duo albeit of a different composition than the first) . They’ve released four albums, all of them great, but as good as they are on record, the live shows are better. There’s just something about the stripped down line-up, percussion heavy with  a savage guitar sound that makes them unmissable (next Toronto show is at the Dakota Tavern on June 8) . Short set for a small crowd, but I loved every second.

Danny & the Darleans are led by Danny Kroha, a founding member of Detroits’s The Gories. Like catL before them and Boss Hog after them on the night’s bill, Danny & the Darleans play rock ‘n’n roll with a heavy garage blues sound. THere’s little than can be said about this style. It’s short bursts of music thatmove you through its simplicity nad its idrectness. The band played a forty minute set, and we were ready for the main attraction.

Boss Hog formed in the late 1980s, and are fronted by the punk rock power-duo Jon Spencer and Christine Martinez.  The couple are associated with many great bands including Pussy Galore, the Honeymoon Killers, Unsane and of course Spencer’s own Blues Explosion. I saw the band sometime in the early 1990’s at the long-defunct Apocalypse Club on College (a block west of the Mod Club)  promoting their self-titled major label debut for Geffen. The marriage never seemed right, and their next release White Out appeared on In the Red. Then a recording hiatus of 17 years before Brood X appeared as if nothing had happened.

The band took the stage on time (I’ll admit to loving bands that are punctual) , and bang, frantic blues-punk. Martinez stalks the stage, while Spencer plays back up, occasionally taking lead along with Hollis Queens. Their set was short (45 minutes although there were a generous number of encores), but intense. Let’s hope it’s not another 17 years before they release new material (I’ll be 69 then)

Three great bands for twenty and change. How could you not be happy, and if you were at the show, I hope you’ll forgive the heresy: CatL were the best!


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For May Day

May 1, 2017 at 9:38 pm (Uncategorized)

In the third manuscript of the so-called Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844,  Karl Marx argued in a section entitled “Private Property and Communism” …

… If you love without evoking love in return – if through the vital expression of yourself as a loving person you fail to become a loved person, then your love is impotent, it is a misfortune.
Private Property and Communism, 1844

It’s easy to concentrate on the political or the economic aspects of Marx’s thought. But it’s sometimes useful to remember the social, the personal. If you love, but can’t spread it, then you may never be able to make that better world we all want.

Enjoy May Day


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Music Notes April 2017

May 1, 2017 at 9:29 pm (Uncategorized)

Ha! Probably too busy thinking about May day. I’m a day late, but never mind. 

1 Sallie Ford – Soul Sick

Sallie Ford sings rock and roll. Nuff said. Another terrific album.

2 Emel Mathlouthi – Kelmti Horra

I discovered this singer recently, and this is my favourite album this week. From Tunisia and possessing an amazing voice, Mathlouthi sings traditional North African music as well as electronica influenced sounds.

3 Molly Burch – Please Be Mine

I saw Burch a few weeks ago opening for Sallie Ford at the Horseshoe in Toronto. Sort Mazzy Rock shoegazer vibe. Bought the record during the break and didn’t look back. Seductive, smokey love songs.

4  Various artists – Back to Mono

Hauled this one out after a while. OK, Phil Spector might be nuts, but he’s responsible for some of the most amazing pop music ever. Hit after hit here.

5 Original soundtrack  – Gimme Danger

The soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s film forms a Stooges greatest hits package and includes a few rarities as well (demos, outtakes, an Iguanas and Prime Movers Blues Band tracks). If you’re a Stooges fan, you probably have all of this anyway, but it’s a nice little collection.

6 Nikki Lane – Highway Queen

Saw her on one of the late night shows a little while back and thought it might be worth a listen. To be honest though, the record doesn’t do it for me. Good hooks and all, but the overall sound is just a little too close to the middle for me.

7 The Sleaford Mods – English Tapas

I cannot stop listening to this record. Absolutely fantastic . Bitting wit. Just the thing you need to hear if you’re angry at the world, and even if you’re not.

8 Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

After listening to this, I was super excited that  the band is playing Toronto this summer, but then I realized I’ll be away that week. Punky folk sounds with a lot of politics. Mmm.

9 Gillian Welch – Boots no. 1

A two disc set of outtakes, demos and alternative versions of Welch’s debut Revival. You don’t have to be familiar with Revival to love the sweet and bitter guitar tunes and the achingly poignant vocals on this set. Lovely.

10 HMV

Yes, I know, corporate rock chain goes under, boo hoo.  I do remember when the HMV mega-store opened on Yonge Street. You could get a lot of very cool stuff there, and they carried a lot of independent artists (Bare Naked Ladies I’m talking to you) . I spent a lot of time and money in that store. Somewhere along the way, HMV more or less stopped selling music and it was graphic novels, DVDs and merch. As digital sharing took over, HMV sank. Still, it’s disappearance will mean that the local mall music outlet will disappear too. Fine if you’re in Toronto, less so if you’re in a small town. Yes, the internet. Yes, Amazon, but there’s still a joy in browsing and finding something cool. Even if it is in a corporate rock store.


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PJ Harvey Shakes Massey Hall.

April 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Tell you my name F U C K

How long have I waited to see PJ Harvey? Well, quite some time. I’ve almost all of her albums, and it can be a harrowing experience. I remember driving around the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton with a friend and  put on 4 Track Demos. We got through 2 or 3 songs, before she made me take it off.

But before I start, I have to confess to mixed feelings. PJ Harvey was brilliant. Just brilliant, but…I really like Massey Hall as a venue. The sound is good, the view is good. It’s big, but it doesn’t feel as if you’re in a giant box like, say, the  Sound Academy or whatever it’s called now does. . But, I was pretty unhappy with the seats . We were further away from the stage than I anticipated, and the while we could see Ms. Harvey, stage left was hidden from us. Second, the seats were tiny. I’m tall, but not that tall. When I say down, my knees were jammed up against the seat in front of me, and that was the way it remained for the rest of the evening, except when we got far enough into the set that everyone stood.

So then.  A little after 8:30, PJ and her band took to the stage. And a band it was;  maybe 10 people besides Ms. Harvey although given the view it was hard to tell (Shut up about it already – Ed.) During the eighty minute set, Harvey tore through most of her latest album The Hope 6 Demolition Project along with tracks from most of her other records including fantastic versions of “To Bring you by Love and “Down by the Water.” (Nothing from Dry though – I would have loved to heard “Sheela Na Gig”). Silent between songs until near the end of the set, Harvey stalked the stage during, alternating between singing and playing a honking sax. A two song encore, and we went home happy.

  1. Chain of Keys
  2. The Ministry of Defence
  3. The Community of Hope
  4. The Orange Monkey
  5. A Line in the Sand
  6. Let England Shake
  7. The Words that Maketh Murder
  8. The Glorious Land
  9. Medicinals
  10. When Under Ether
  11. Dollar, Dollar
  12. The Devil
  13. The Wheel
  14. The Ministry of Social Affairs
  15. 50 ft Queenie
  16.  To Bring you my Love
  17. River Anacostia


  1. Highway 61 Revisited
  2. The Last Living Rose

(from )

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The Elections in France

April 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m going to give up predicting elections. I thought Rob Ford would lose the mayoralty election in Toronto. He won. I expected Kathleen Wynn would lose to the Conservatives in Ontario; she won a majority. I thought Justin Trudeau might get a minority in the Canadian federal election; he won one of the biggest majorities in Canadian history. And Trump…well you know how that turned out.

So, I’m not going to hazard a guess about today’s presidential election in France. Jean-Luc Melachon, who is everywhere described as a “far-left” candidate is a former member of Pierre Lambert’s Trotskyist  OCI (the group which distinguished itself by deliberately not being involved in the events of 1968) has been touted as the leading candidate, but who knows. And then there’s Marine Le Pen is a supposedly reformed fascist from the Fronte Nationale, which has cleaned up its act for public consumption (expelling daddy, and pushing some of the worse stuff to the backroom meetings, but come on…).  Given the attacks this week (and let’s not even bother with the false flag crowd), it will be interesting to see how the rest of the pack divides if, as expected,  Le Pen and Melachon emerge as the run-off candidates. (the rest of the pack includes liberals and conservatives, LaRouchites, leftists and Lutte Ouvrier)

May you live in interesting times.


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Sallie Ford at the Horseshoe

April 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized)

Started this draft a week or so back, btu better late than never.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, the Horseshoe Tavern one of the best places to see live music in Toronto. It holds a couple of hundred people, and there’s a really intimate atmosphere. Great sound, great sight-lines. Great selection of bands. I’ve seen Link Wray, the Heartless Bastards, Urge Overkill, the Mekons, the Waco Brothers, the Avengers, Jah Wobble, Son Volt, the Fleshtones and many more. What’s not to love? That said, a Sunday night is not the most conducive to large crowds.

Got to the venue shortly after nine, and opening act Molly Burch was already on stage. Originally from Los Angeles, Burch now lives in Austin, Texas. She has a sort of Mazzy Star shoegazer vibe, and  it created a sweet atmosphere. As the set wore on, we were drawn into a warm, intimate moment. After the set was over, I wandered over to the merch table to see if they had the new Sallie Ford record, and found myself talking to Burch. Bought a CD. It’s hard to say if Burch will be a success or one of those artists you never hear from again (success is often less due to talent than other factors), but the record sounded great.

I saw Sallie Ford open for Tha0 and the Get Down Stay Down at Lee’s a few years back. I thought Thao was great, but in all honesty, it was Ford’s barnstorming set that caught my attention. Ford played a blistering rock revivalism which bridged a variety of styles without being cornered by any of them. The Horseshoe gig was the same, but sadly only 80 or so turned up to hear it. (Still, it meant I could stand in front of the stage and not be crowded – so good for me). Ford played a smashing set of material from her excellent new album Soul Sick, as well as material from her older record with the Sound Outside, and even threw in a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me. ”

Next time, don’t miss it.

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Toronto Anarchist Bookfair

April 20, 2017 at 11:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Unfortunately there will be no Toronto anarchist bookfair this year. The committee which has organized the event over the last several years isn’t in a position to do it this time. That doesn’t mean no one will organize an event, but at this point, it’s not happening. More if I hear otherwise.

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Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

April 3, 2017 at 1:43 am (Uncategorized)

Don’t forget you have one final day to register for tables at this year’s Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. 

This year’s bookfair takes place on May 27th and 28th.

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