ed_rex: (Default)

Holy fuck can't wait for this Hip gig to be over ... JFC so sick of hearing about them ... Overrated as fuck just like Rush lol ...

It's just like no one gave this much of a shit about them before the news was announced ... It just stinks of nationalism and that shit always makes me sick the world was round the last time I checked. — A Facebook friend

Well, the final (presuming, to put it crassly, Gord Downie's brain cancer really is terminal) Tragically Hip concert has come and gone.

Broadcast live from Kingston on CBC Radio 1 and and 2, as well as CBC Television, the show was the culmination of a 15-concert tour that started only days after Downie announced that he was, well, dying.

The Hip are a Canadian phenomenon, a rock and roll band that managed to sell a lot of records and sell out stadiums — and make a decent living — all over the country despite never having "broken through" into the American market.

A lot of people I know and respect think very highly of them, and I gave them a chance a number of times, but their music — quirky vocals and sophisticated lyrics aside — never spoke to me.

Tonight, I listened to parts of the show while at work, and caught the encore at home, thinking to give this quintessentially Canadian band one more (one last) try.

I still don't get the appeal, but unlike the person quote at the top, I'm damned if I'm going to begrudge the bittersweet joy those of you who to whom the Hip *do* speak, your celebration. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, not the start of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

ed_rex: (The Droz Report)

The other day Raven and I set out to replenish our supply of printing paper, on account of we'd run out and I needed to print something toute-suite, as they say over in Hull.

Our mission was interrupted however as, barely out of the apartment, we missioned east towards Bank Street.

On a stretch of sidewalk ahead of us was a very old Oriental woman and a dark-skinned and much younger (not to mention taller) woman who might have been of east-Asian or Middle Eastern background. Or something else entirely. Onwards.

Raven and I slowed as there seemed to be something not right with the situation. But being and/or becoming Canadians, we were hesitant about just barging in.

But I clearly saw the younger woman glance at us, and then, take very definite note of Raven. She opened her mouth, closed it, then briefly spoke to the old woman. Then looked at Raven again and once more, almost spoke, but decided against it at the last moment.

This was a couple of weeks back, and I no longer remember if I stopped, if Raven did, or if the young brown woman decided to speak up first.

In any event, there was a slowing down and turning and we made it clear we were open to "getting involved".

"Do you ..." the young woman began, addressing Raven, "well, do you speak Chinese?" She stopped and looked down, as if she was worried she had committed some monstrous offense.

I presume I've mentioned at some point over the past couple of years that Raven hails from Macau? Her first language is Cantonese, Mandarin her second. (English and, lately, French, are coming up fast from behind.)

"Yes," said Raven, "I do? What's going on?"

"I think this lady is lost," said the young woman, but I can't really understand her. "Would you mind ..."

Raven had already started talking to the old woman. She briefly interrupted to let us know they were speaking Cantonese and that the old woman had got off the bus at the wrong stop. "I know where her building is," she said. "I'll take her home."

"Are you sure? If you tell me where it is, I don't mind taking her ..."

"No, it's fine," Raven said, and the woman seemed relieved and just a little surprised to boot.

Raven told me to get to the stationary store before it closed and said she would meet me there. I walked about with the good Samaritan. "I'm really glad you guys stopped," she said.

"I'm glad we could help," I replied for some reason donning the Royal We.

"I didn't want to assume anything," she said. "I mean, just because someone ... looks ..."

"Chinese?" She laughed, and nodded. I laughed too, mostly in an attempt to make her feel at ease. "You were in luck," I said. "Raven is Chinese. And I know she really was happy to help. It never hurts to ask.

"I guess," she agreed, but I don't think she really did. And who was I, the white guy, to argue? Maybe the visible minorities among you reading this can tell me how common it is — how frustrating or offensive it is — to be asked if you speak this or that language. Raven herself didn't mind, but she is an immigrant, so if someone presumes she speaks Chinese (or even asks) well, she does.

Maybe she'd feel different if she were born here.

Meanwhile, the young woman and I went our separate ways, and I never dared to ask where she was from. Her English was excellent, but with a hint of an accent. Just a hint, though, leaving me to forever wonder if she was from Vanier or Hull, or possibly from some place much further away.

For once I don't have any real thesis or rant to make. This was just an incident that has stayed with me, an uncomfortable encounter that I am not sure what to make of. (Besides being reminded that Canadians tend to be very considerate, perhaps to a fault.)

ed_rex: (Default)

Making up the real:

Middle-aged white guy writes teenage black girl as heroine, tries not to offend or to Mary Sue

More memeage: In this edition, Young Geoffrey talks about culture, making use of the familiar, making it up and (sort of) appropriating the other.

Click for Question 13, 'What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?' )

Click to see all the questions )

ed_rex: (dhalgren)

'Art' of Onanism:
Pop Life mocks the National Gallery of Canada

"It's not pandering. We have certainly not lowered our standards or principles in order to have line-ups at the door." — National Gallery of director Marc Mayer, quoted in the National Post.

Well. Thank God that's settled! But the denial does beg the question, "Just what kind of standards did the National Gallery have before Thursday's opening of the "blockbuster" travelling show, "Pop Life"?

Lonesome Cowboy, by Takashi Murakami: theft as art, in the worst tradition of Warhol.
Lonesome Cowboy, by Takashi Murakami: theft as art, in the worst tradition of Warhol (Wikipedia.)
Jeff Koons tells it like it is in Volume 27, Number 3 of ArtForum, November 1988.  Image reprinted from the National Gallery's Sex Sells.
Jeff Koons tells it like it is in the November 1988 edition of ArtForum. (Image: Sex Sells.

It's not just that we expect our politicians and priests to lie to us, and our journalists to transmit those lies with straight faces; it is also that we have somehow come to habitually lie to ourselves, unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge that which is spelled out before us, unless some Authority does so first.

So concerned are we with our status in the eyes of those we accept as authorities or experts, we will happily gorge on shit and, chins dripping with the muck, we will grin excitedly as the last chunk slips past our teeth and beg for yet another serving.

* * *

The opening of the National Gallery of Canada's summer blockbuster, Pop Life on June 10 (on until September 19), was crowded with hipsters and art-students and those members of the bourgeoisie who feel it imperative to put in an appearance at such events.

The crowd milled about with all the electric excitement of a herd of cattle on anti-depressants.

The men and women gazed with bovine approval at a second-rate sculpture of a naked man's huge and hugely erect penis, eternally spurting semen into the air; at pages torn from third-rate 1970s-era pornographic magazines; and at poorly-lit, still photos of an "artist" having sex with a man who has paid her $20,000 for the privilege.

Not to mention at a "dead horse", symbolizing ... well, I forget just what it symbolized; there was a little card with several explanatory paragraphs typed onto it, but the words seemed to have very little to do with what we were looking at.

But most of the audience seemed to nod knowingly at one another, and they exchanged stock phrases such as "transgressing boundaries" and "challenging patriarchy" and (to quote from the exhibit's PDF accompaniment, Sex Sells) "...tread[ing] too closely within or against the lines of common decency", as if imparting to one another the wisdom of the ages.

Read more ...

July 2017

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