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Autumn Serenade

Janet Werner, STICKY PICTURES, Bradley Ertaskiran, October 15th 2022

Tucked in the back room of Bradley Ertaskiran — the old Parisian Laundry, and one of the finer gallery spaces in the city — was the book launch for Janet Werner’s formidable new publication, Sticky Pictures. People talked and drank wine and had their books autographed by the artist in attendance and pretended not to look at one another.

I adore the frequent subjects of Werner’s paintings — girls. And I revel in the pleasure of adoring them through Werner’s painterly gaze rather than my own sharp male one.

A joke about Andy Warhol’s desire not only to be a part of the art scene but to be seen being a part of the art scene was that he would even attend the opening of a drawer. I am such a space cadet for art in this city that I go to the launch of a book.

Il Trovatore, Opera de Montreal, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, September 13th, 2022


An open letter to my dear ex-wife of 43 years, the lovely Ms. Marlene Ssøørreennsseenn:

Dear Marlene;

It is with heavy heart that we must equivalently admit after trying to make things work despite having been divorced for over four decades that our 12-day marriage was a mistake. Had we children they might have given us grandchildren by now, but alas we were only wedded for a little less than two weeks in the late 1970s, and starting a family didn’t come up in conversation, as women’s liberation at that time socially forbade any unsolicited babytalk.

Suffice to say that we did not bring out the best in each other, what with the fourteen-year legal battle in the mid-‘80s over the fortunes from the fortune cookies following our second and final dinner date at Wings, which as you will apprehend is long since closed due to health violations.

With this Wing fortune, I thee forfeit the last scrap of our love affair, leaving you the better luck, both figuratively and literally. Should the numbers on the verso ever win a lottery, I trust your solicitor to contact me forthwith with my fair share, as determined by concurrent legal precedent for post-nuptial fortune cookie winnings.

In closing, please forward any and all future correspondence to:
L. Oserfield

Heartbreak Hotel, room no. 237 (haunted)

Backxwash, with with LaFHomme, Morgan-Paige and Jodie Jodie Roger, October 28th 2022, Le Monastère

There is no doubt that Backxwash is the hottest hip hop artist in Canada. The crystalline concentration that comes with sobriety shines on HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING. This year’s Halloween weekend album launch was a triumph of both style and substance, fashionable and profoundly meaningful, profane and sacred.

Backxwash is the antithesis of mainstream rappers who self-aggrandize and court controversy, or make patent pitches for luxury products that their listeners can ill afford. A constant and self-reflexive state of awareness permeates the recording and was ever-present in its live performance, too. Refreshing is not the word because the album is akin to gargling with activated charcoal, but whatever the descriptor, it’s deeply cleansing.

Boris: His Life in Music, Orchestre Classique de Montreal, October 18th, 2022, Salle Pierre-Mercure

The loss of Boris Brott to Montreal’s classical music community is immeasurable. Still, the show must go on, and the Orchestre Classique de Montreal paid appropriate tribute to the verve of a man who lived for that orchestra. The OCM began its 83rd season by lovingly presenting some of Brott’s all-time favourite musical works.

Before the performance, a photographic montage of Brott cycled onscreen, images of the maestro with celebrities and dignitaries, clowning around, full of wit, wisdom, and life. What a life lived, and what a legacy Brott left behind, carrying dutifully on in the tradition of his musical family before him who dedicated their days to tuning the world.

Brott’s death seems all the more tragic considering its accidental nature, and after his miraculous recovery from the nastiest strain of covid at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as the saying goes, the man who dies in an accident understands the nature of destiny.

This Is Not A Scarf, Soha Zandi, Somaye Farhan & Elahe Moonesi, Place des Arts, October 30th 2022

In protest of the shocking human rights abuses taking place in Iran right now, a group of artists created an inspired imaginative response that took place on the steps of Place des Arts, without any fanfare or official permission from the usual authorities. They showed up with a pile of scarves and stood there waiting for passersby to tie them on in any fashion they saw fit. The result was a sincerely moving performance, which was a performance by virtue, but produced a spontaneous moment.

I was temporarily enlisted to stand guard next to a pile of camera equipment on the busy Saint-Catherine Street sidewalk when an elderly gentleman approached me inquiring, in French at first — a Quebecois accent from another time and place — what was going on. He appeared to be about sixty-five, tall, lean and cleanshaven, with an enviable headful of smartly styled salt-and-pepper hair. He had on a fitted black leather jacket and hanging around his neck was a comparatively outdated digital camera, an old Sony with a top-mounted viewfinder.

I apologized that my French was not as good as my English, but he was well-spoken in both languages and when I told him this was a performance art piece for Iranian freedom he looked at me for a moment, his face becoming very grave, and said, “I think this is the end of the world. But I won’t be here to see it. I’m eighty.” I was surprised by his candour and tried to nod knowingly as he took leave to photograph the happening.

Returning, he mused, “A lot of people in Quebec complain, but we are lucky to live here.” I knew what he meant. Peace activism begins and ends with peaceful activism, acting peacefully.

@playrecent

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Play Recent archives on Repeater Radio

The good people at Repeater Radio have created an archive for Play Recent episodes after they’ve aired live. There’s no reason to tune in live anyway, it’s pre-recorded. Although I do. Yes, I’ve been known to listen to my own show because the music is so great. Hey, if you can reach just one person, right?

find your favourite Play Recent episode >>here<<

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Forgiveness Rock Record

Karen Gwyer, 19 October 2018, Ausgang Plaza

The night was great; don’t get me wrong. Gwyer, local supporting act Anabasine and opener Musique Nouvelle were excellent. But the security guard at Ausgang Plaza was a little overzealous, to say the least. I was patted down, I was felt up, I was frisked, I was groped, I was manhandled, I was stripped, I was probed. We all know how painful that can be. And when it was over, I got back in line to do it again.

Continue reading on Cult Montreal…

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Wow & Flutter

“Movement 1: Cognitive Awakening (feat. Gina Izzo)” – Pascal Le Boeuf – Into The Anthropocene – Periapsis Open Series

“Daddy, what’s it going to be like in the year 2000?” asks a child’s innocent voice in the introduction to Busta Rhymes’ 1998 album Extinction Level Event. “Well, sweetheart, I hope for your sake that it’ll be all peaches and cream,” her daddy responds, “but I’m afraid the end time is near — the cataclysmic apocalypse referred to in the scriptures of every holy book known to mankind.”

In the aftermath of this week’s deadly attack in Toronto, experts couldn’t wait to chime in and declare that it was not a matter of if, but of when. Every city in the western world will soon get their very own version of this catastrophe, like a McDonalds or a Starbucks franchise popping up in the infinite sprawling suburb that we are now living in. One pundit on the CBC announced: “this is the new world order.” What he meant, of course, was “this is the new normal,” but his misspeaking was revealing.

Acts of 21st century terrorism gerrymander our maps in the worst possible way. They redraw us into a two-nation world: one the victims of terrorism, and one their perpetrators. “#JeSuisCharlie” and “#XStrong” hashtags underscore this. Undoubtedly, the broadcasting of tragedy has taken up a particularly American medialogical perspective after 9/11 — the desire to never again experience any form of trauma that has not already been premeditated. Or, as literary scholar David Simpson wrote in his book 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration: “The prefigurative imaginative experience makes bearable the shock of the real.”

 

Visitors (2013) – Dir. Godfrey Reggio – Cinedigm

How do we look at others, especially when they are in the midst of unimaginable suffering? The camera eye is designed to be static and unflinching, to be able to train itself on that which might be intolerable to the human eye. It is up to the person behind the camera to direct it to look compassionately upon its subjects.

In her 2003 book Regarding The Pain Of Others, Susan Sontag wrote: “The other, even when not an enemy, is regarded only as someone to be seen, not someone (like us) who also sees.” What the filmmaker Godfrey Reggio captures beautifully and magically and effortlessly in Visitors is, quite simply, the act of the other bearing witness to otherness. In so doing, the film facilitates a rare and instantaneous recognition.

 

“Black Snow” – Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of – Warp Records

In one bizarre scene from David Cronenberg’s 1999 film eXistenZ — a prescient hypothesis on biotechnology and virtual reality composed almost entirely of bizarre scenes — a black cloud of deadly spores erupts to infect a factory that manufactures living video game consoles. Similarly, the protagonist of Dan Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Black Snow” video kicks up a toxic libidinal cloud that ultimately quarantines the creature into a state of perpetual isolated connectivity. Lopatin seems to be at once fascinated and revolted by his own alternating infectiousness as technologically endowed, digitally mediated virtuoso/trickster.

Every generation, a pop chart hero throws up.

 

“Everything Connected” – Jon Hopkins – Singularity – Domino Record Co.

Voice-over dialogue from a 1997 BASF TV advert: “At BASF, we don’t make the cooler, we make it cooler; we don’t make the jeans, we make them bluer; we don’t make the toys, we make them tougher; we don’t make the water-scooter, we make it lighter. At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better.”

 

“Odana” – Alanis Obomsawin – Bush Lady – Constellation Records

Here’s a radical thought. The powers of domination and oppression and control require a degree of resistance to function. So stop resisting. Surrender. Let go. Kneel in the face of evil, for it is then and only then that you truly give evil the choice to do good, and thus a chance for eternal grace and salvation.

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The Black Box in America

“Cut Grass 1” – Aqueduct Ensemble – Improvisations On An Apricot – Last Resort

As a kid, one of my best friends was called Devendra. He was a naturally funny guy, always with a wry comment or a quick response to anything. He had a big smile, too, which put everyone at ease. Everyone liked him, and I was happy to be his friend.

As kids, we used to do funny things. Everything we did was about making each other laugh. One of the things Devendra used to do to make us laugh was what we might now call the “Apu” voice. Devendra was of South Asian descent, his parents first-generation Canadian immigrants. They did speak like that. And we did laugh.

But now, I realize that Devendra was imitating his parents for our amusement as a pre-emptive strike, so that nobody else could imitate his parents in jest without the jest coming principally from his own self. He wanted us to know that he was laughing first. So, laughing at him and his family was a useless strategy, if strategies there were, which, of course, there weren’t, because we loved Devendra and his whole family.

It reminds me of the language around MIDI — the master-slave thing, which I talk about extensively in my book, which you should read. Master devices, slave devices. It’s abhorrent. It’s worse than abhorrent, because it’s language, and it’s the language we use every day, and language makes reality. Like the Apu thing. If someone tells you that something you do makes them feel bad, and you keep doing it, you are an asshole.

 

“Some Limited and Waning Memory” – Christina Vantzou – No. 4 – Kranky

In the 1998 film Hurlyburly, adapted for the screen by David Rabe from his 1984 stage play of the same name, about the intertwined lives of seven sex-and-drug addled Hollywood wannabes with severe issues, the main character, Eddie, played expertly by Sean Penn — I mean, who plays a coked-out motor-mouth better? — rants obsessively about weapons of mass destruction: “They’re not,” Eddie says of the apparent misnomer. “They’re very, very selective about what they destroy. They annihilate people, and preserve things.”

“You want me to be kinder? Softer?” he cries, delving as deeply into a character as Penn has ever done: “I say NO! Be harder! Be a rock. Or polyurethane. I say, be a thing. And live.”

 

“The Evas” – Hunter Lombard – Eris EP – Jack Dept.

I have a sample somewhere of Teddy Pemberton saying “right now we gonna give you guys like some dope, dope beats they just gonna be banging out your mindframe just bust your thing open, aight?” Basically, what he said.

 

“Brilliant Yes That Would Be” – Underworld – Smith Hyde Productions

I am so pleased that Underworld turned out to be the band from the 90s electronica era with the most staying power. Their catalogue has held up better than many of their contemporaries (say, who bought that 20th anniversary pizza box edition of You’ve Come A Long Way Baby?) and on this cut, Underworld prove that they need little more than one really cool patch to make something brilliant.

 

“Claustra” – Eartheater – PAN

Your friend and mine, Chal Ravens, beat me to the punch this week when she said this was like the acid trip sequence in Dennis Hopper’s 1969 film Easy Rider. That particular acid trip was nearly 50 years ago, and it’s still producing flashbacks.

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