Category Archives: Politics

memories of stupid

I was reading Howard Kaylan’s book, (Flo and Eddy, Frank Zappa and the Turtles). When they were starting out they were approached by suits at a small label who wanted to record them. The suits suggested changing their name to the Turtles. Guys in the band said no way that’s stupid. The suits said the Beatles are big right now, they are also named after an animal and it ends in l-e-s . Nobody could argue with that logic, the Turtles were born.
In the lounge of McLear recording studios where we recorded Blue Rodeo’s first record, someone from Warner Music came to discuss artwork. The album was going to be named after one of Greg’s songs Outskirts. “So there’s a girl and she’s wearing a skirt and the words “out” are on it. What d’ya think?” I don’t have many memories of Greg doing things I admire but that was one, he looked unsmilingly back and said no. Artwork guy without missing a beat acted like it was a joke all along, but it wasn’t. He just knew part of his job was to be submissive instantly, go whichever way the wind blows.
Customs stops us at the Detroit border 1994. Selina on guitar, Liz on bass, Dave lee on drums on our way to tour America, even though we will lose money, both countries try to not let in foreign artists, because technically they are “working”. We pretend to be on our way to recording studio in Chicago. My booking agent Matt Suhar has sent a fax using references from the songs on my records. It is a fantastic work of fiction, “Doug Christie is excited to produce your album. The electric zither will be here Wednesday morning. Leonard Peltier has finished the horn arrangements”. The customs agent smells something fishy,
“Okay lemme ask you one thing, you got recording studios in Canada too, why not record there?”
“Because our equipment is inferior to what exists in America”
Tense facial expression disappears, “Right”, waves us through.

we all want to change the world

For my final paper for the class Art in Crisis, have to write a 10 page essay about any of the people we reviewed or choose an artist from another time period and contrast them with someone we studied. I chose the latter and contrasted the Bed-In for peace with Ai Weiwei. Never understood the ins and outs of John and Yoko staying in bed when I came upon it as a kid, I liked the song Give Peace A Chance, but why stay in bed? What did that mean? Now I see the hilarity and inspiration (and guts).
Beatlemania was still close. Predictably, the paparazzi would follow, spy or interrupt attempts at being private so they decided to exploit their positionality and announced where they would be. In light of successful civil rights sit-ins, like Greensboro, they blended their two major interests love and peace. The paparazzi came assumed this was going to be about sexual exhibitionism. Instead, they found the couple talking in bed about peacemaking. The room was dense with hand made posters that said “peace”. Photographers couldn’t shoot the couple without also advertising their message. Nixon felt threatened by Lennon messaging people to think anti-war and tried to get him deported. This only made Lennon more political. John Sinclair, Give Peace A Chance, Power To The People.
The Chinese government didn’t want to acknowledge attention to the 80,000 people who died in the Sichuan Earthquake (mostly of University students and school children), they censored and controlled all information about it. This was because schools built by the state are suppose to be very secure they shouldn’t have collapsed. Typical mistake of power that doesn’t know true power. Control the narrative at all costs instead, for instance “I am a very stable genius” . On his blog online Ai Weiwei asked the public, who are the children that died? And people wrote back supplying over 5000 accounts of who their dead children were. The public turned to his blog instead of the government. “The kind of authoritarian state we have in China cannot survive if it answers questions – if the truth is revealed, they are finished. So they started to think of me as the most dangerous person in China. That made me become an artist, but also an activist.”

hat chair

On the subway last 2 months there is an advertisement for an upcoming financial expo. A conference with some expert millionaires, scheduled to share with participants how to get rich. Sylvester Stallone is the biggest name there. His picture at the centre of the poster punching fist into fist, caption “Knockout Strategies”. What expert financial tips he will share for $49. The advertisement says the attendance fee of $149 is no longer true. There is a line drawn through the $149 – limited time offer – $49. All the posters were manufactured to include limited “new” offer, it was always $49.
At a music business conference there was a 3 person panel responding to demos. One was former lead guitarist in a band that went nowhere, one was a co-owner of a music publishing company who’s biggest star was nobody and one was head of A&R at a major label in Toronto a satellite office for the Los Angeles based company who incorporate a Canadian version of their company to exploit lower taxation on their American product. All three are white guys in their 40s. One after the other, participants take turns playing their songs and the panelists respond with why the songs were not good enough, what was wrong wth them and what they would have done if it was their song. They should have called this 45 minutes of music industry guys complaining about you and your music.
Nobody knows anything, that’s the course I would like to try teaching. First exercise, stand before the class and explaining why any object is what it is. Then present an opposing explanation. Then have the class vote which was more true. This is a chair, it is designed for sitting in. No this is a bad hat, you put it on over your head and it is too heavy but your hair stays dry in the rain.