Friday, December 30, 2016

Adventures in Live Music, with Munsi

In January, David Bowie passed away, and I was heartbroken.

In the aftermath of his passing, while talking to a friend about how I'd managed to see him play on his last tour before he had to stop touring, I promised myself I’d see more live music, rather than take for granted the idea that, if I missed a show, there’d always be another opportunity. Due to this policy, over the course of this past year I saw…

Joe Jackson, in support of a shockingly good Late-Career album, Fast Forward. I'm pretty sure were the youngest people in the crowd, which surprised me a little, Joe Jackson is a spectacular songwriter and a blast to see live. People my age and younger are missing out.

Mother Mother, at the Coke Stage at Stampede. Exact opposite experience, we were absolutely the oldest people in the crowd. At some point between then and now, Mother Mother went from playing the Coke Stage to selling out the Jubilee, I'm not sure what all happened in the interim, but good for them on what was apparently a very good year.

Peter Gabriel and Sting, with a huge thanks to Sarah. I assumed I wasn't going to be able to, and I'd have regretted it had that been the case, it was an incredible show. Peter Gabriel had always been a hero of mine, the man's a genius, and Sting was a blast as well...

The Tragically Hip. Most of us caught the Hip this year, I guess. At least, it feels that way. I cried, Gord cried, we all cried. It was a beautiful, connective experience that left me feeling very Canadian.

Duran Duran/Nils Rogers. Fun show, and I have NEVER seen so many women in their mid-late 40s absolutely killing it dancing as I did while watching Duran Duran play. A generation of women was sexually awakened in 1982 by Simon LeBon on Much Music, and they have still got it in them to fangirl out. Godspeed, women in your mid-late 40s, you are an inspiration to us all.

Echo & the Bunnymen. I will never in my life be able to thank Sue sufficiently for this show, or for the ten days that followed it. My trip to the UK was one of the most moving, connective experiences of my life, and I woke up my first day home feeling more serene than I have in a long while. This show wasn't the whole reason why, but connecting with my inner '80s anglophile high-school goth kid was certainly a major part of it. Plus, Ian McCulloch remains an awesome rock star to this day, which I always do appreciate...

The Dandy Warhols. I was going to see these guys in Calgary, instead I went to Edmonton to see them with Jen. She had to pull out last minute due to hilarious ID related hijinx, but I still got to hang out with her, I still saw the show (just didn't do both simultaneously) and it was still an absolute blast.

Our Lady Peace/I Mother Earth, and Chelsea gets credit for this one, I wouldn't have thought to go to this show had she not taken me, and I'm very glad I did. OLP, it turns out, kill it live, and having seen them deepened my appreciation of a classic Canadian '90s band that I otherwise hadn't given enough credit.

Elvis Costello and wow, this was a bucket list show for me. Elvis is one of a handful of artists that I legitimately could listen to nonstop for 24 hours off my current music collection and never hear the same song twice, and seeing him play has been a thing I've wanted but not been able to do since I was eight. Eight? That can't be right, when did Blood and Chocolate come out? Yeah, eight, i guess! The show was minimalist and incredibly intimate, just the man, five guitars and a borrowed grand piano he switched between, a lifetime of stories, and one of the best catalogues in rock, and I could not have been happier with the experience. Getting what you've always wanted and finding it exactly as good as you hoped is a rare thing, and one that should be appreciated when it comes.

…I have my opinions about 2016 and the number of artists of  personal importance that passed over its course, but I have to admit I did see some amazing shows. I stand by the decision I made at the beginning of the year, and hope to continue this trend going forward.

Catch your heroes while you can, is what i'm saying. Your opportunities to do so aren’t endless…

Sunday, December 11, 2016

We all have mouths, and we must scream...

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

At least, we tell ourselves it’s for ice cream, as we scream our lungs out at the unknowing, uncaring, impassive sky, voices filled with existencial dread, desperately and ultimately fruitlessly seeking something, anything, out there that might distract us from the looming fact that we’ve grown increasingly dissociated from one another, from ourselves, and from the world we’ve built...

We cannot face that this is why we scream. So we don’t.

“Yes,” we say, “yes, it’s simply ice cream for which we scream.”

Simply ice cream.

Ice cream is good…

Friday, October 14, 2016

On the subject of Murder Clowns...

I did spot a Murder Clown, once…

It was a few weeks ago, maybe a month, and I hadn't heard much about people dressed as scary clowns in the news yet, so I didn't know it was a thing that was happening around the world, it was just a clown to me, simply this and nothing more.

Simply a demonic-looking clown, in early September, walking down 17th avenue in the middle of the night, holding a machete and drenched in what appeared to be human blood. Nothing to see there, nothing to worry yourself overmuch about…

And what’s odd is: I didn’t worry myself overmuch about it. It was early for Halloween, to be sure, but I’m all for starting Halloween early, the Christmas people are starting November 1st nowadays, why shouldn’t those of us who like a scare claim a second month? We’re worth it, and the holiday of my people is every bit as valid as theirs!

By “My People” I mean “Aging Goth Kids,” that was clear, yeah?



So yes, I did see a Murder Clown, and rather than recoiling I smiled, nodded, and exchanged a quick high-five before continuing on my way home, filing it alongside all the other ways 17th avenue can be a messed-up place to go after dark on weekends.

Only a month later, reading a think-piece asking “What does it all mean?” Did I realize it might be anything noteworthy, sociologically speaking. At the time it was simply two dudes who are a little too into Halloween connecting with one another, the way that humans do, over their shared love of a thing, distressing though that thing might be to some, then coming away feeling a little closer and more connected to the world in which they live, having learned that that world is a wider, weirder place than they give it credit for being in their day-to-day lives…

Because, at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it was.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Pick-Up

I want to be inside you.

Surgically, I mean.

There’s nothing in this world more intimate than to be wrist deep in the organs of another human being, to feel the warmth of their blood on your hands as you caress their innards, really dig into the viscera, grow to truly understand who they are, on the inside.

This is a shallow world we live in, and we so often get lost in the superficial, never thinking to probe deeper into the people with whom we’ve chosen to spend our time, never going beyond the surface layer.

I don’t want to fall into this trap with you.

I want to see who you are, inside. I believe, truly believe, that you’re worth knowing, worth exploring, in a deeper, more meaningful way. You deserve to be understood, deserve someone who’s willing to put in the effort, and I want to be that person.

So let’s get out of here, shall we? Let’s go back to my place, tie you down, crack open your chest and see what you’ve got going on in there…

And no, obviously we won’t be putting you under, we won’t be using anesthetic of any kind.

You will be awake for every moment of this; perfectly conscious and perfectly aware of everything that’s happening to you.

I’d never engage in anything this intimate and personal with someone who wasn’t completely present in the moment while it was going on.

To cut you open while you were unconscious would be a gross violation of your agency as a human being, above and beyond the simple fact that I would never want to deprive you of what will no doubt be a unique and incredibly intense experience.

You’ll be awake when I make the first incision. That’s non-negotiable. I could do no less.

The very thought of it disgusts me.

I’m not a monster, after all…

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Weekly Prompt Story: Mind

The Mind
By Christopher Munroe

I don’t believe in “Mind over matter.”

I mean, the mind matters, of course it does, but matter literally is matter.

Matter’s a real thing, it exists in space and time, independent of observation, and it perseveres even in the absence of a mind to know it.

And no, I can’t prove that.

I can’t prove any part of it.

Everything I can know, obviously, is filtered to me through my mind, and coloured by that fact.

Still, though I can’t prove it, I believe.

I believe in matter.

And in the end, to me, my faith is all that…

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Mummer

It occurred to me, at one point, to hire a mime for my funeral.

I’d heard it suggested on one podcast or other, and something about the notion appealed to me. Not a traditional street mime, mind you, that would be wildly inappropriate for a funeral, but rather something more solemn, a silent performer in black suit and mummer’s mask, representing me at the event so that my mourners could, should they wish, say to him what they had not thought in life to say to me…

I entertained this notion exactly long enough to Google the phrase “Mummer’s Mask” and not one moment longer.

On a related note, do not Google the phrase “Mummer’s Mask.”

Mummer’s masks, it turns out, are fucking horrifying.

I have no idea what was wrong with medieval Europe, but for reals, I would never in a million years inflict upon my friends and loved ones, in their time of grieving me, the horrifying spectacle that is a silent figure in Mummer’s mask, standing in the midst of what’s meant to be a solemn occasion.

I mean, the mime would no doubt be solemn, but in such a mask he couldn’t help but fail to adequately convey the tone of the event.

And so, upon reflection, I decided not to hire one for my funeral.

That does not, however, mean I didn’t hire a mime…

He follows me around, now, that I might refer people to him when I don’t want to deal with them.

Moments too awkward to handle, exes, old arguments, painful family events, or just whatever petty nonsense I happen to think is beneath me, I now refer to my mime in Mummer’s mask, confident that if they’re scared off by the freakish apparition I’ve contracted to follow in my stead then whatever they may have had to say couldn’t have been that important to them in the first place.

It’s saved me a great deal of time, my mime in Mummer’s mask, and a great deal of social anxiety as well, allowing me to focus my energies on what’s genuinely important to me, rather than the pointless minutia of my day-to-day drudgery. In fact, overall he’s been a tremendous boon to me, and I must admit, looking back, that I wish I’d thought to hire him years ago…

And if you happen not to think that this is an appropriate way for me to deal with social awkwardness in my day-to-day life: Tell it to the Mummer...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Prompt Story: Stars

The Lovers
By Christopher Munroe

They were star-crossed; but no matter what tragedy the world threw at them their love persevered.

When he asked for her hand she wept, when he saw her in her gown he did, for he knew in that moment that no force in heaven or earth could tear them asunder.

Then the sun went nova.

Both were slain, as was every other thing on the planet. The sterile, charred world hurtled through space, tomb and testament to a simple lesion that’s just as true today as it was back then.

Don’t cross the stars.

Stars, once crossed, will ruin you...