jack layton

Jack Layton came to one of my Rivoli shows in 1994 stayed until the end, came to the dressing room to tell me he was there, that he was into it, that Olivia also liked my music. I was flattered and happy to meet him in person. I liked him especially as a Toronto Councillor. In the 2000s I saw him one time at the Y on Grosvenor, I thought to myself, how cool is this, the leader of the opposition is working out at the Y like everyone else. There was a phone in show in Quebec around the orange wave and more than one person voiced a complaint about the legitimacy of young NDP people running for parliament he instantly responded something like – they’re old enough for us to send overseas to die but not old enough to represent the people from their constituencies? I felt like Jack Layton’s death was one of the most enabling things that happened for Harper. I think Jack would have been in the way of Harper’s agenda or at least interfered better than the way most experienced Harper treating democracy like it was a dog he could muzzle.

reading in the sauna

Yesterday at the Santa Claus parade the first participant we noticed was a clown with a garbage can. Wonder if anyone besides me understood the planners vision: Santa at the end and Rob Ford at the front. The sidewalk is filled with wet leaves, the new tree is now leafless but when I gaze at it I see the future, how big and beautiful it will be and how unfortunate for my south facing solar panel dream wall. Woke up and listened to the usual cacophony, same old internal issues, same station. Thought this is just like the external noise of disappointing human activity. Like how humans pollute and there is no appealing to them to recognize the future deaths, including themselves. Same emotional experience as appealing to inner tape loops. Change your own recording or else! Or else what? After the parade we took a sauna. I miss the sweat that the Y membership afforded, the conversations with random men about random issues but especially the cat and mouse games between me and anal management types proud of the sign “rules for being in sauna”. Threatened with being kicked out for reading in the dry sauna. Sometimes when my guard was down I would try appealing to them to think a little more realistically. As pointless as trying to change oneself and anyone else.

birch trees in private

The thing about Birch trees besides occupying space in the book of fire starting techniques, besides acting as paper in certain circumstances, besides having at least three vivid tonalities: white, pink and grey is that they can play the banjo as fast as Eugene Chadbourne. It’s like that damn bugs bunny frog singing “hello my baby hello my honey hello my rag time doll” but act like any other tree when I take it to record companies and introduce it. I end up looking foolish. I’m no good at keeping secrets. I’ve already said too much. I asked Eugene when we were touring together how he became so fast on the guitar. It was a crazy speed experience to hang with him and watch his show each night. I wasn’t sure how he would receive my query like asking superman to talk about kryptonite. He had a blunt answer, Bluegrass.
Never considered of that. I understood after how he took the ball and ran straight into the avant garde. Like Nina Hagen took opera and ran straight into punk. Like Trump took bold egotistical traits, impaired empathy, celebration of the delusional and ran straight into the
White House. On second thought that isn’t so unique.
There is another chapter on pine needles. They light up and light out, just instantaneous. Like singing with Groucho Marx “hello I must be going”. First I build a little fort, maximize their duration before the show is over. Hope the balance is just right, prepare kindling dominos. My high school chemistry teacher should have explained chemistry by making fires or cooking food. I would have understood it all clearly. World would have had many more eager science students. I would never teach music by first playing Bach. I start by playing sound, by encouraging hearing what is musical about the world and exploring instruments as if we are cave people. Those who think the rules are what is important are all about the right way and the wrong way. Those guys are the last people I would share secrets with about Birch and banjos.