R.I.P

FullSizeRender-3.jpg

I read comics books as a kid. As far as confessions go, I admit that’s about as revealing as saying I once peed my pants. Most kids did.

And, like most kids, I worshipped the super heroes in comics. Their extraordinary ability to save the day, restore justice to the world and make our world right again. Super heroes appealed to me, as I’m sure they did to other kids, because they showcased characteristics that I wish I had; steely eyed in the face of danger, ballsy enough to be a smartass with people you didn’t like, because you were confident you could back up your words, plus having the ability to fly yourself wherever you wanted also seemed pretty handy.

As I got older, I transferred my super hero worship on to athletes. Baseball players: Tim Raines then Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Hockey players: Mats Naslund and Patrick Roy and Basketball player: Michael Jordan. They all represented an element of magic to me, how they could move their bodies in tricks and turns to score and win, or to put it in super hero terms – to vanquish opponents and make the world right again.

Still older now, I continued with my super hero worship, but now attached it to musicians. In the earliest days, I was absorbed by rock music and its rough attitude, but still liked pop music and didn’t want to stray too far from its predictable, safe patterns so I landed on an acceptable hybrid of “rock music”; namely, hair bands. Poison, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Guns n’ Roses, all filled out the list.

They were on the radio at the time, and easy to identify with, even though I wasn’t as forlorn as Axl sounded, it was exciting to listen to someone snarl about their frustrations, mainly because I could do it safely from behind a radio in my quiet, semi-suburban Ottawa home.

Who were these guys wailing about stuff and drinking and having sex with women? This wasn’t possible. Or was it? I was hooked. These musicians represented a vision of what I didn’t think was possible. Of course, at the time, I didn’t appreciate that, in the long run, it really wasn’t possible. Some of these guys were dying young or flirting with it from overdoses or would face major health problems from drugs and booze. Take Guns n’ roses: Slash now has a pacemaker, Duff Mckagan drank so much his pancreas burst, Stephen Adler had a stroke from too much cocaine – and that’s just one band. Anyone with an interest in rock music can cite a lot more examples.

But in the pictures I was looking at on album covers and rock magazines, where these guys were posing in mid-song, eyes wide, mouths open, frozen in what looked like to me, were moments of tectonic-sized emotion, while the crowd in front of them looked like they actually might be in the middle of an earthquake – these guys seemed to have the ability to summon other worldly powers. In my mind they were super heroes.

So, I continued my hero worship through high school, buying music magazines and trying my best to understand who these guys were by reading through articles filled with words I didn’t entirely understand at the time, like “incendiary”, “penultimate”, “sonorous” “excoriating” and “transcendent”. Of course, my inability to understand the music writer’s language only heightened a musicians’ mystery, further confirming in my mind that he was the mythological creature I’d imagined.

But gradually, over time, their heroic veneers began to wear away. I remember one moment when I was watching a documentary on the Red Hot Chili Peppers who were my role models when I was in high school. Whatever they said, sang or did was fine with me. But then it happened. Watching this documentary there’s a moment where Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers lead singer, just started doing some scatting, razzmatazz language he was known for, and I paused having the thought: “He kind of sounds like an idiot.”

And that broke the spell. From there it was a slow but steady recession from rock star worship. I was losing that feverish need to find a singular personality I could invest my wholehearted belief into so that I could have a guide to follow.

Plus as I got older, and my perspective was shifting, I was trying to be an adult, focusing on adult things, which I was trying to convince myself meant conversations about the economy, politics, and wine.

While I still loved music, and would see some amazing live shows along the way and keep up with new artists coming up, I shifted music off my main dashboard of interest, just a little off to the side. It hadn’t disappeared completely, but the volume wasn’t as high.

Then I was writing an article about best Super Bowl performances of all-time, and I found Prince in 2007.

It wasn’t his song selection – in all honesty I hadn’t been a huge Prince fan to that point. Sure, I knew his major hits, Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette etc, and liked his songs Cream and Diamonds and Pearls, but otherwise, I hadn’t really dug any deeper.

I remember, as a kid, in the 80s seeing the album cover of Purple Rain and not really knowing what to make of him. Now I look at it and can understand some of the confusion: he was dressed like a 19th Century French aristocrat sitting on a motorcycle. But from the look in his eye, he might also be fucking the motorcycle’s gas tank.

Add to that Kevin Smith’s retellings of his bizarre meetings with Prince at Paisley Park, and Dave Chappelle Show’s story of playing basketball with him, and the image I had of Prince at that time, in 2007, was that he was a strange, effete artiste (with the “e”) who was beyond my understanding.

But here he was playing on a massive stage in front of a stadium of people, and he came across loud and clear. He played music. Well. Very well. Actually, exceptionally fucking well.

It sent me into a spin. This is Prince? He segued between songs on stage as easily as if he was crossing the street, in his case going from Tina Turner, to Jimi Hendrix then, was that the Foo Fighters? Holy shit. How is he doing this?

I was in awe. He was in full command of himself and fully committed to every note he played. He was there. Present. This wasn’t a dialed in job. Prince was really playing music. That sounds like such a simple thing to say. But seeing it felt unbelievable, because it was watching someone who knew exactly what he was doing without any gimmicks – okay, that erect cock in a silhouette? Well, yeah, grant him that.

But his playing. He worked through the notes like he cared. He did. He cared. And now I did too.

After this I added his music to various playlists I had, recycling new songs and trying to go through what I could find – not easy since Prince was pretty airtight on guarding his musical copyrights, and wasn’t then very open to music downloads through anyone but his own company.

Regardless, I persisted and regularly added Prince to music I’d listen to on my subway commutes and wanderings through Toronto.

Then in 2011, I had the chance to see him play live at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. I admit going in I was looking forward to it, but still, I only counted myself as a passing fan, far removed from obsessives I had previously met who had archived every second of his public appearances, albums, bootlegs and recorded inhalations of breath.

When I was younger, and musicians remained firm super heroes in my mind, seeing them play in large venues made sense, because they were meant to embody the “larger than life” personas which I ascribed to them. Four or five guys playing instruments in front of thousands was appropriate for a super hero.

Yet as I got older, I lost the magic I once felt for this carnival-like stagecraft that were part of stadium-sized performances. Mainly this was because of the yawning physical gap between the performers and me, which would sometimes be as much as 50 yards away or more. I’d normally have no problem closing this distance in my mind, merely by accepting that they were immortal, way down there on the horizon, unleashing their lightning bolts from Mount Olympus, as I, mere mortal, was simply lucky to be in close proximity to witness it.

But the fact was, I was losing interest in closing this gap.

Seeing someone play in a smaller intimate spot, meant less distance between singer and persona, and less of a gulf I’d have to fill plastering super hero qualities on to a performer. In other words, in these smaller circumstances, it was watching Clark Kent – another human being. This was someone I could more easily relate to.

Prince, however, filled something entirely different at his show. There were lights, smoke machines (as the Dave Chappelle show sketch had suggested), and visuals galore. His stage in various moments looked like a set piece from the movie Tron – blue outlines ringed the stage, as well as a giant screen above showcasing various up close shots of him and his band.

All of the elements were there to denote his mythical, super hero status – and he made a bid more than a few times, once crawling across the floor until he disappeared in a haze of dry ice as the crowd screamed or his co-ordination in seguing from one song to the next.

Yet for all of that, what came through again and again to me, was his playing. The energy he put into his performance was of the level that if he were a younger performer, it might suggest he was trying to win a record deal, or a musical competition. He was completely possessed of his own skills, and used every moment as a new turn to deliver himself to the crowd.

And the crowd delivered themselves right back. We howled like nothing I’d ever heard before at the Air Canada Centre – everyone seemed to be standing, the only people sitting I imagined had an injury or were in bad health.

The truth was, when he was done crawling around the floor and mugging at the camera, playing up his super hero persona that most people understood him for, when he focused in on playing his guitar, it felt to me he was no longer playing a character. It was like being able to hear what he sounded like without the big marquee name – PRINCE – in front of him.

All of Prince’s glitz, gyrating, winking and groaning, could not obscure that his devotion to his playing and his commitment to every note, (which he played as if he’d never done it a million times before) was a human impulse.

And it was this impulse, I think, that made the crowd roar. People could see it. To me it was a revelation.

After all my studying of the YouTube videos I watched of him preening on stage or whispering in interviews, I had locked him into my mind as someone beyond understanding that had some special place in the world.

But now, here I was, in the same room with no screen between him and I, and his humanness was on full display: whether it was seeing him wipe sweat from his forehead, kick twice at a guitar pedal to get it to work, or lean over and whisper to his band mate perhaps suggesting a tempo change to segue into another song, he was doing the same things I’d seen other people do.

And as I looked over at my girlfriend and friends in disbelief at various points throughout the concert, wondering how Prince was playing what he was playing, and giving a look on my face that said: “Can you believe this?”, it became clearer in my mind.
Prince wasn’t a super hero. He was a guy. An exceptional guy who committed himself completely to learning how he could express himself through music.

He was renowned for his secrecy and desire for privacy. This of course led to rampant speculation from fans wondering what was he really like?

And since the news of his death, there may very well be more revelations that come out about his life.

But the one thing I discovered that night watching him in concert was this: he was human. Flesh and blood.

He may well have worn a cape or two in his career, but it was his music that he launched into space. Prince, for his part, stayed on Earth, admiring its flight path.

And for one night, I was lucky enough to share the view.

 

Five funny wine tasting notes

Image

#1

TASTING NOTE: This ruby rich delight is packed with mouth-watering sumptuousness with hints of bramble, blackberry, boysenberry, Don Cherry and Frankenberry flourishes. A treat to open tonight with beef testicles or lamb spleen escabeche. Also an ideal companion for manic-depression. Shows promise to last longer than your belief in an afterlife.  

Image

#2

TASTING NOTE: Straw yellow colour, reminds of bottles peed in when too lazy to leave the couch. Wafts of apples, pears and armpits on the subway, this one surely won’t disappoint. Break the seal tonight to help you forget you have to repeat the same day tomorrow or save it for next year after you’ve realized anyone can do your job. Good with pork or pancakes, this stunner is ripe for self-medicating any time of day.

 

Image

#3

TASTING NOTE: Dark as David Fincher, this beauty unwinds waves of hovercraft oil, BDSM dungeon sweat and Fair-trade biodynamic hand-cultivated chocolate from a mountaintop parcel of land in a coastal rainforest. A brooding mistress of devilish wonder – uncork it for a seance tonight or pair it with freshly killed goat from a voodoo ritual. This one will make you wonder what you’re doing with your life.

Image

#4

TASTING NOTE: Medium-bodied garnet with whispers of lavender, tulips and cacti – this one will have you convinced you’re a poet. Don’t kid yourself. Your verses are terrible in comparison with the virtuosity of this Shakespearean dream child. Open it tonight by yourself to commune with the world’s four major religions or create your own religion sharing it with friends. You won’t forget this celestial ejaculation!

Image

#5

TASTING NOTE: A nose of melted plastic, burnt toast and deck shoes worn without socks, this one is a true gift. Every sip brings reminisces of suntanning after a morning of mosquito bites and family conflict. Great for tonight as an accompaniment for anxiety and an uncertain future plus goes remarkably well with the movie Scarface. What are you waiting for? Say hello to your little friend.

Global Warming TV Ad


(OPEN on a packed subway. Focus on guy holding subway bar and reading subway ads above him)

He stares at first ad which says:

Global warming is accelerating. Climates once thought to be stable are now increasingly unpredictable. (Show visual of receding glacier)

He stares at second ad which says:

The more these climates change – the smaller our planet becomes.

He stares at the third ad which says:

As the temperature goes up wildlife habitats go down, making it harder for animals to find food.

He stares at fourth ad which says:

By cutting the land we have to share with wildlife, it means there’s less room for all of us.

(Subway bell rings as an alert that the subway door is about to close. Just before it does, a polar bear wanders on the subway car. Everyone turns and screams. Mayhem.)

Camera pans down to ground where the following message appears:

Do your part. Cut down on carbon before it’s too late.

(Finish on screams)

Top 10 hidden messages in Itunes service agreement

You know the form you agree to every time you update Itunes, but never read? Here’s ten things Apple’s hidden within the service agreement, which we’ve failed to notice – highlighted in red.

1.

A. ITUNES STORE, MAC APP STORE, APP STORE, IBOOKSTORE TERMS OF SALE, AND ANYTHING ELSE WITH “I” IN FRONT OF IT.
B. ITUNES STORE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
C. MAC APP STORE, APP STORE AND IBOOKSTORE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
D. PRIVACY POLICY

THE LEGAL AGREEMENTS SET OUT BELOW GOVERN YOUR USE OF THE ITUNES STORE, MAC APP STORE, APP STORE, IBOOKSTORE SERVICES AND ANYTHING ELSE WITH “I” IN FRONT OF IT. TO AGREE TO THESE TERMS, CLICK “AGREE.” IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS, ENJOY YOUR PC, MENNONITE.

2.

PAYMENTS, TAXES, AND REFUND POLICY

The iTunes Store, Mac App Store, App Store, iBookstore services (“Services”), and anything else with “I” in front of it accept these forms of payment: credit cards issued by U.S. banks, payments through your PayPal account, iTunes Cards, iTunes Store Gift Certificates, Content Codes, Allowance Account balances, your first born or 3 months of assembly line work in China. If a credit card or your PayPal account is being used for a transaction, Apple may obtain preapproval for any amount we want. Billing occurs as soon as you click on the Apple website or spot our Apple logo in public (Yes, we can see you. Where do you think the CIA get their gadgets?) If you are using 1-Click purchasing or your PayPal account, your order may be authorized and billed several times over for a single purchasing session, because Apple has bills to pay. If an iTunes Card, iTunes Store Gift Certificate, or Allowance Account is used for a transaction, you will immediately be billed for the purchase of another card at the same amount (It’s a recession. We have a lot of bills). When making purchases, content credits are used first, followed by Gift Certificate, iTunes Card, kidneys and sexual favours; your family will be shaked down for any remaining balance.

3.

You agree that you will pay immediately for all products you purchase through the Services and for all future Apple products (i.e. Ipad 2 – Ipad 500). YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TIMELY PAYMENT OF ALL FEES AND PROVIDING APPLE YOUR CREDIT CARD OR PAYPAL ACCOUNT DETAILS, BANK PASSWORD, EMAIL ACCOUNT USER ID AND PASSWORD, FACEBOOK ACCOUNT SIGN IN, AND YOUR MOST INCRIMINATING SECRET. All fees will be billed to the credit card, or family member you designate during the registration process. If there is a change in your credit card or PayPal account status, you must change your information online in the Account Information section of iTunes; you will not get anywhere near our site until we’ve cross checked, cross referenced, and interviewed friends and employees to verify you’re not lying.

4.

Your total price will include the price of the product plus our occasional grocery bills; such bills are based on how bad the economy gets, and whether Apple is unable to provide food for lunch meetings. We will charge our groceries only in states or provinces, which have Whole Foods.

All sales and rentals of products are final. Snooze? You lose.

Prices for products offered via the Services may change hourly – if the market gets too unpredictable. Services do not provide price protection and are of no use in the event you need help.

If a product becomes unavailable after you’ve paid for it but before you’ve received it, bad luck. If technical problems prevent or unreasonably delay delivery of your product, Apple is really sorry.

5.

1-Click®

1-Click is a registered service mark of Amazon.com, Inc., used under extortion (We have compromising photos of Jeff Bezos. Apple would like to add, we only keep them for leverage and would never look at them any more than the one time. *shudder *) . 1-Click is a convenient feature that allows you to buy from the Services with a single click of your mouse, helping us get your money more often and much more quickly. When accessing the Services on your computer, 1-Click purchasing may be remotely activated by Apple’s mission control long before you click a Buy button. (You can try to reset this function, but will likely receive calls at 3 in the morning, be regularly cut off in traffic, have your wallet stolen at the gym, and get food poisoning the next time you eat out. These are only consistent “side effects” reported by past clients in this position). When accessing the Services on your iPad, iPod, iPhone, iEverything, 1-Click is immediately activated, triggering your download and putting money in our bank.

Risk of loss and title for Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards, and Allowances transmitted electronically pass to the purchaser in upon electronic transmission to the recipient. Risk of loss and title for Content Codes transmitted electronically pass to the purchaser in California upon electronic transmission to the recipient. Bottom line: Apple wins.

GIFTS

Gifts purchased from the Services may be purchased only if you buy one for us – Apple is big on crystal ware and Snuggies *wink*. Gift recipients’ computers must only use Apple hardware, software and recipients must own at least 2 of the following: Itunes, Ipad, Iphone. If they do not own at least 2 Apple products, you will be required to add one as a gift to your original gift purchase.

6.

GIFT CERTIFICATES, ITUNES CARDS, ALLOWANCES, AND CONTENT CODES

Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards, and Allowances are issued and managed by Apple Value Services, LLC (“Emperor”).

Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards, Content Codes, and Allowances, cannot be traded in, exchanged or resold for cash if you haven’t used them– but they do make handy bookmarks.

The Gift Certificate/iTunes Card cash value is a whole lot less than a cent. Really, in straight terms, you would have to pay us if you wanted to redeem your cash. Apple only allows you to pay for your purchases and its many whimsical taxes – Apple will NOT make you pay back unused money you’ve already paid for – kind of nice, no?

Neither Issuer nor Apple is responsible for anything at all to do with Gift Certificates, iTunes Cards, Content Codes, or Allowances. You are on your own.

Apple reserves the right to close your account and recoup our losses through alternative forms of payment like your child’s education fund, your retirement savings, house, car and all winnings earned by entering your house cat in “Feline fight clubs” if a Gift Certificate, iTunes Card, Content Code, or Allowance is fraudulently obtained or used on the Service.

APPLE, ISSUER, AND THEIR LICENSEES, AFFILIATES, AND LICENSORS MAKE NO APOLOGIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, WITH RESPECT TO GIFT CERTIFICATES, ITUNES CARDS, CONTENT CODES, ALLOWANCES, OR THE ITUNES STORE, INCLUDING, WITHOUT, ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE (Apple doesn’t quite understand that last part. Maybe ask a friend about it?). IN THE EVENT A GIFT CERTIFICATE, ITUNES CARD, CONTENT CODE, OR ALLOWANCE IS NONFUNCTIONAL, TOO BAD, CHAD. CERTAIN STATE LAWS DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF CERTAIN DAMAGES (Ask them about that sentence too). IF THESE LAWS APPLY TO YOU, SOME OR ALL OF THE ABOVE DISCLAIMERS, EXCLUSIONS, OR LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU, BUT THEY MIGHT, YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW YA KNOW? . YOU MAY ALSO HAVE ADDITIONAL RIGHTS. BUT I WOULDN’T GET TOO EXCITED.

7.

ELECTRONIC CONTRACTING

Your use of the Services locks you and your offspring into a lifelong agreement with Apple. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOUR ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS DEMAND YOUR PROMPT PAYMENT. IF YOU DON’T PAY WITHIN FIVE MINUTES, YOU WILL BE BADLY INJURED BY A FALLING OBJECT IN PUBLIC OR BITTEN BY A HIGHLY, HIGHLY VENOMOUS SNAKE AT HOME (These are only past experiences from clients in this position. We cannot guarantee they will happen to you. But we can say they will probably hurt, if they do:)

YOUR AGREEMENT TO PROMPT PAYMENT APPLIES TO ALL ALL TRANSACTIONS YOU ENTER INTO ON THIS SITE, AND ANY SITE WITH THE WORD “APPLE” IN THE CONTENT. In order to access and retain your electronic records, you must pay Apple $100 a month.

Apple is not responsible for typographic errors. (To be clear:  $100 is NOT a typo in the second last sentence)

8.

PRE-ORDERS

By pre-ordering products, you may never see them. You may NOT cancel your pre-order prior to the time the item becomes available OR even if the item never shows up.

9.

Use of the Service requires compatible devices, Internet access, and certain software – (i.e. Apple products) High-speed Internet access is your only option – Dial up? Ridiculous. The latest version of the iTunes software is recommended for everything. You agree to stay on top of these updates or risk missing out on a lot of life’s amazing moments. The Service is not part of any other product or offering, and no purchase or obtaining of any other product shall be tolerated.

10.

1. YOUR ACCOUNT

As a registered user of the Service, we grant you the privilege of establishing an account. Don’t reveal your Account information to anyone else – girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, grandmothers, dogs or wallabies. You are responsible for maintaining the secrets of your Account and for everything that happens with it. You agree to immediately notify Apple if someone breaks into your account – because we will break them. Apple is not responsible for losses arising out of the unauthorized use of your Account and all the bad choices that led to it happening.

PRIVACY (You have none)

Except as otherwise stated in this Agreement, the Service is subject to Apple’s Privacy Policy at http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/.

When you opt in to the Genius feature, Apple will, from time to time, automatically collect information that can be used to identify media in your iTunes library on this computer, to warn you when you’re playing too much Barbara Streisand. This includes media purchased through iTunes and media obtained from anywhere. When you use the Genius feature, Apple will use this information and the contents of your iTunes library, as well as other information, to recommend you listen to more James Brown.

Apple may only use this information and combine it with aggregated information from the iTunes libraries of other users who also opt in to this feature. In other words, people will also know you listen to Bananarama.

I’d like to thank…

Izzie at the Whatever Factor gave me a Bloody Brilliant Blog award and asked in return I include seven facts about myself.  Thank you for the award, Izzie.

My seven facts:

1. I turn rabid around popcorn. I will shovel it by the armload and guard my popcorn bag like a dog does a raw steak.

2. Boxers and briefs.

3. I periodically ride entire subway trips standing, facing people only to find out, after getting off, my zipper was down.

4. My shadow once scared me.

5. I’ve survived 37 minor bicycle falls, 1 notable car accident and 1 major train derailment.

6. I live with one foot in my mouth.

7. I am guilty of all seven deadly sins