if I switch your pills for sugar

365 day five: hip-hop resolve
356: day 5

I just went for tea with a long haired, one eyed stranger I met on the bus. Turns out we’ve got people in common, of course, this being Vancouver, and, even worse, this being Commercial Drive. Now he and everyone else are at a house party that I can almost see from my balcony window, at the place around the corner with the Tibetan prayer flags.

Full of hippies, burners, and a scattering of hip-hop designers, bicycle people, and uncomfortably with-it computer nerds smoking prodigious amounts of weed, the party felt very east side, very easy. I went in just long enough to assess the situation, then slipped home to take my daily picture and drop off my things, (there’s no reason to be hauling around personal items within spitting distance from my own front door), but I’ve already been here over an hour, trapped by the inertia of sucking about on the internet. I hope River’s still there. I’m going to post this and go back out.

edit: the next day, the woman who lives there somehow found this post through my livejournal to facebook RSS feed. the internet wins.

this week’s favourite band: hymie’s basement

I’ve spent the majority of my day dissolving myself in layers upon layers of technical writing, business plans, copy edits, consultations, proposals, and articles, anything I could use for some concrete writing examples, and you know what I’ve discovered? That joke I have about living the majority of my life behind non-disclosure agreements is more true than I considered. I don’t think of documents as isolated work, but as it turns out, maybe I should.

Almost all of the design work I’ve done, the packaging, the clever promotions, even the press releases, are locked. Weeks of my life seem to have been swallowed up in what might be considered completely invisible work. Only the trashier articles are freely my copyright – the ghost-written fetish tartlet interviews, the essays on how the McCarthy Era is to blame for Japan’s end-of-the-bell-curve pornography industry – very little I would be comfortable shopping to prospective employers. ‘Course, I don’t show them here, either, for very similar reasons. (It’s the rare page that even carries my real name.)

Obscene interiors: terrible decor with invisible pornography.

Which brings me, (if sideways), to something Juan and I were discussing the other day, the self-referential use of digital cameras that’s begun to quietly permeate our culture. People will go dancing, bring a camera, take a picture, show it to everyone, pass the camera around, keep dancing, keep taking pictures, keep pausing to look at them. Micro documentation, preserving a moment while living it. Especially odd considering that these pictures don’t usually go anywhere and are rarely looked at again. They’re hard-drive space.

What I think is interesting is how people are beginning to tailor the way they act in public for things like photos they know will inevitably end up on-line. I have articles I sign with a pen name, which I thought was almost shallow of me, but apparently I’m not as self-conscious as I thought. I overheard a woman on the bus talking on her cell-phone the other day, passionately discussing how she only wears make-up if she knows there will be “technology types” at a party. She felt “liberated” that she was going to a “hippy house” where no one would have cameras.

Spaz.Mike had a nice little essay on post-scarcity that I feel relates, about how the web is bringing around the death of celebrity, a topic we hash out together with some regularity, and I’d like to take that a little farther and say that it’s taking what’s left and spreading it thin, sure, but it’s spreading it over us. Our personal narratives have become individual expression painted entirely by collective context. We have begun wearing the behaviour of miniature celebrities, even when we’re not aware of it. Our journals are quietly expanding their borders, leaking out into full scale multimedia presentations that saturate our real life social interactions, as if our constant connection to the network is warping us from observers into the content itself. We The Public learning to manage Being Public.

Me, I like it. What about you?

edit: speaking of celebrity vs. real people – Go vote for Mike as That 1 Guy! He’s almost at number one!

famous on the internet

December 31st, I woke to cats sleeping on my legs and chest, purring, their little black noses touching, paws intertwined, tails even curled together. Ridiculous, really. I almost didn’t want to move, but plans were afoot! Great plans! Wonderful plans! Ray had agreed to come to Seattle with me! Begone kitties, take your adorable cute little selves and go sleep somewhere else. I am getting up!

We saddled up and hit the highway around four:thirty, certain I had everything needed. Goth-tastic outfit? Check. Cherie‘s phone number? Check. A basic working knowledge of Seattle? Sure. I’ve been there a whole four or five times. Once even (mostly) during the day. We’ll be fine, right? And we were. We didn’t arrive in time for dinner, but with the help of a gas-station map and a borrowed phone, finding parking on Capital Hill was trickier than finding where she lives.

Cherie lives upstairs, apparently, neighbour, through a quirk of urban planning, to my friend Ellen, with a husband, Aric, a fish, Howard, and a cat, Spainy. All of which I was aware of through her blogging, though never so immediately.* Added to this charming mix was Aric’s “heterosexual life-partner” Alex, who I met by walking into the livingroom while taking my shirt off. Go me.

After lacing ourselves in to various clich̩-yet-fabulous required black, we split like atoms and went off in two cars down the hill to an odd little anonymous back alley with an industrial door at the end, on the right, the entrance to a private goth club named The Mercury. A thing which I did not think existed. Really because, well, why would it? The answer Рsmoking laws. When public smoking was banned in Vancouver, most people either dimmed their filthy habits down or went and huddled outside in the rain. Not so in Seattle, where some sort of cabaret license has granted private venues the right to shelter smokers, similar to the odd-ball restaurant laws of California.

It was dark inside, low, with cement floors, narrow halls, fake red velvet everywhere, and not quite enough seating. It reminded me of an illegal basement apartment as done up by a I’m-so-spooky runaway with an Ikea addiction. Absolutely perfect, like a silver bullet crucifix clutched to the heart of fourteen year old Sisters of Mercy fan.

We pinned down a corner all to ourselves, just off the dancefloor, (incongruously, it was a swing night, so the music was mysteriously superb), and cheerfully settled in with terrible goth mockery and some silly attempts at fake swing dancing. We had tremendous fun. Alex, how excellent, even found some cherries. Also of note was Cherie’s magnificent tumble, being her abrupt discovery with the frictionless effect of multi-layering with taffeta on a bar stool, but she didn’t spill all her wine, just some of it, and not on her so much as the rest of us, so the verdict was that she did okay.

Somehow, in the midst of everything, midnight crept up on us. This resulted in a tremendously over-complicated drive up the hill, then a complete and utter abandonment of the car when we discovered the fireworks had already started. We ran, whooping, wonderfully nutty in all our finery, past terrible hipster parties, (you can peek at Cherie’s post to see what they shouted at me), to discover, at the roundabout at the end of the block, that something had gone incredibly wrong and the fireworks seemed to have sputtered into a start then quit. “Hear that?” I asked, “That’s the sound of five pyrotech’s having panic attacks.” Later we discovered that there was a computer error, but at the time, there was no way to know. We were standing, chilly, laughing, and turning down offers of champagne from strangers, uncertain how long we should stand there until we gave up and turned around. We hadn’t met the fellows at the pre-agreed fireworks watching spot, after all, we were just standing at a rather random intersection. Thankfully, our perseverence was rewarded. It kicked in again with obviously programmed cues being set off by hand by people who hadn’t planned for it at all. I tried to take a picture, but I think I was laughing too much for anything steady to have come from it. The fireworks had the exquisite shape of people swearing, of trying not to think of the obscene amount of money that had been spent on the show that obviously wasn’t happening. I loved it. Those people have my utmost respect.

We regrouped at the apartment to schism into the booty-shakers and the people going to bed. This is where we lost Ray, Ellen, and Cherie to the monsters of sleeping-at-night-like-sane-people. Aric, Alex, and I went back to the club, where the music had shifted into more traditional stomp the floor flat industrial. I don’t know how long we were there, I lost track of time in dancing, but it was awhile. Hours, at least. I was introduced to some rather nice people with violently red hair and to the unpleasant fact that there will always be someone who shows up dressed as a trashy fetish santa. Eventually the smoke got me, though, and it was time to go hunting for something to eat.

People spiralled off in all directions, leaving Alex to prowl me about town, trying to find a 24 hour place with the temerity to stay open on New Year’s Eve. Eventually the clever thing found us a kosher hot dog stand where we were rudely muttered at by a slightly addled older man who sounded astonishingly like Tom Waits. We stood there, blinking back laughter as best we could as he swept leaves around us, swearing, Alex singing the first few bars to The Piano’s Been Drinking. It was terrible and we loved every minute of it. Even the hotdog.

*(Seeing Ellen was a treat rivalling her legendary cookies, and it turns out Cherie is possibly the most bubbly person I’ve ever met, instilling new life into that overused word, awesome, every ten minutes. I will never be able to read a word she writes again without her voice in my head, excitedly reading it to me.)

why do you turn and shield your eyes?

December 3oth, Nicole and I stayed up all night, painting my apartment. Plastering the walls, sanding, priming, coating the baseboards with chocolate coloured latex, re-lining my terribly beige bay windows with white. The plan was to spend all night painting and have dusty magenta up on the longest wall by dawn, but we didn’t quite make it. The crooked walls of my apartment require a lot of patience and an awake, steady hand. We started in the evening, light-checking while there was still the barest edge of sunset in the sky, and packed it in around five, thinking it was better to quit before the sun came back. We only took one break, around three in the morning, to deke out and fetch some food. (On-line, Alastair stayed up too, the dear creature, at his apartment, working the muppet-coat New Year’s card until the music looped properly and we had a working load screen.) There was a lot of laughter, a lot of talking about boys and travel. Plans we’d like to have, places we’d like to see. It was really nice, the best way I’ve ever wrapped up a year.

I had reason to be extra glad how late we stayed up. December 30th here is December 31st in Australia, which means that Mike is five hours behind, but a day ahead. Long-distance, sure, but that’s why calling cards are made. “Happy New Year’s! We’re painting my apartment fuchsia!” It went straight to machine, and I was so tired I couldn’t have told you what message I left, but it made me happy to make the gesture, and that’s really all I need. I went to sleep around seven, smiling, the day already well begun.

all I wanted was to paint us in mythology

wednesday's child
365: day 2

I wrote the rough of this while sitting on a table in the back of the club Mike played in Edmonton, waiting for his fans to disperse after the gig. I want to polish it properly, but feel stuck, so I’m posting it anyway:

Driving West along either street, you will come across too many one way streets. Your head will turn, searching for the butterscotch of centre lines, hoping to find some rhyme to the maze. Instead, the streets will seem to coruscate, shine, and blind you, balefully offering oblivious wrong turns. Undaunted, you will keep driving. The asphalt will become brick, cobbles, cut stone. Red and granite and gray. You will look to the moon to guide you, a sideways glance, as she sits in the passenger seat beside you, as tall as winter, nestled in black fur, laughing, offering perfect directions. You do not doubt her. Her gray eyes are sharper, can survive the tangled city traffic, though in the daylight she is almost blind. Her egg-shell maps are drawn directly on her empty hands, woven from experience and time. In a year, you might find out why, but for now, you do not need to care. You are glad for her company. She likes your scarlet heart, even stained fog thin as it is from travel. She likes your polished voice, how it brings colour to her airless skin. When she shyly kisses you, as loud as paper, she is exactly what you need. From her place in the sky, shaking the tops of trees, sweet as candy, her smile looks like your teeth.

I will say real things later, after I try this sleep thing I’ve heard is neat

Seattle was the escape I needed. Not only does it have a refreshing amount of honest-to-mercy architectural and social diversity, it seems everyone I know there is brilliant, fun, and good-looking.*

It’s almost spooky.

*(in this particular instance, I am referring to the delightful novelist Cherie Priest, her wonderful husband Aric Jym, their marvelous friend Alex, and our favourite kitchen genius Ellen, who I met here, but who somehow ended up living in the same building as the first two.)

Also, not only did I get to go home with the hot guy, it was only when I was back in Vancouver that I realized I’d stolen his shirt:

t-shirt death threat

Which begins, if dubiously, my first attempt at the 365 project.

So! Hey 2008! What’s shaking?

Arcade Fire in an elevator

As benpeek says, Yes, I know. I just posted a video of the Arcade Fire. But then I found this, which is Arcade Fire performing ‘Neon Bible’ in an elevator, and it’s just wonderful. Also, it has the best use of a ripped magazine ever.

Just for fun, I’m nabbing this off him, which he found after nabbing the David Bowie & Arcade Fire video off me.