It is only August, but I could go for a 2.5 month nap right about now.

I had this thought today of how audacious it would’ve been for Microsoft back in the 90s to licence The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” in order to advertise Windows 95. Seriously, right? How on the nose and garish. “The baby boomers will SHIT THEMSELVES.” Wouldn’t that have been fucking dumb?

Turns out that was a memory, not a thought. The 90s was a silly time.

In other news, looks like Seeso’s dead. That’s a real pity. It was fantastic to see yet another streaming platform putting money in the hands of creators to go out and do what they do best: create original and well produced content. I certainly didn’t see all their originals, but loved the shit out of MBMBAM, Harmonquest and Take my Wife. They also had a back catalogue of years worth of quality comedy. Decades of SNL, all the Monty Python stuff, tons of stand up specials. It’s the kind of service I would’ve happily shelled out to support. Too bad that they never branched outside of the US. I’m sure it had to do with all manner of rights and distribution contracts, but I know I’m not the only one who actively wanted to push money into their hands. When you’ve got a heap of consumers keen to throw dollar bills at you, wouldn’t you want to pull out all the stops to make that a reality? Yet again, I’m certain it’s far more complicated than I’m making it out to be. Thankfully a bunch of their shows found a home on the VRV platform. Another platform that’s still not available in Canada…

Speaking of American Idiots (I kid, but I needed the segue), I listened to the 2004  zeitgeist album on my run today. At the age of 17, that album was gargantuan. In the context of 2004, Green Day’s popularity was waning hard. To give further context, in 2002 they’d co-headlined with Blink 182 (as opposed to sitting atop that throne as you’d expect). American Idiot came out of nowhere and suddenly was everywhere. Each subsequent single utterly dominated the airwaves. We threw it on at every party, road trip and holiday weekend away. To us, “Jesus of Suburbia” was a sprawling epic. The album had punch, flair and the most relevant social commentary 17 year olds could imagine possible.

As a 30 year old, it’s a neat listen. Like a grand ol’ rock opera. It’s still catchy and tons of fun, but it also sounds like clever pop punk juggernauts capitalising on a movement. Sweet to run to. In the era of Trump, the anti-authoritarian sentiment feels mellow and wholesome. Equal parts melodramatic and innocent. The title track would probably have hit just as hard had it been released in 2017, but would’ve taken on an entirely new level of meaning. Maybe it’s my inherent nostalgia, but I’d say the album holds up to the fanfare 13 years later. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” may drip a little saccharine, but the tracks have an excellent ebb and flow, coming together as a cohesive record. If you were a fan at the time, try dipping your toes back into that water.

You watch. In five years I’ll book a vacation from an ad that features Green Day’s “Holiday”.

Kinda surprised they didn’t play Freebird.

It’s getting harder and harder to tick bands off my live music bucket list. That wasn’t intended as gloating. The issue is that I’m not nearly as exploratory with music as I once was. It takes a shit ton of effort to keep on top of new releases, especially when there’s so much fucking content coming out all the time. How am I supposed to hear and absorb new music when every artist I loved back in ’08-’10 has a 2017 release? Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Broken Social Scene, Sigur Rós, Japandroids, Spoon, The XX, The National, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, St Vincent and so much more. Half of these are already out and I’ve been so overwhelmed by content that I have yet to give them the ear-time they deserve. There are podcasts to listen to, things to watch and read. I’ve got hobbies and responsibilities. Being an adult takes up a lot of spare time.

However, none of that mattered the other night when Fleet Foxes took the stage at Massey Hall. I got into these guys a week after their 2008 performance at the Bruce Mason theatre. The next time they came to town, I was overseas. I think there was some music festival I meant to go to, but that never worked out. We’ve been passing like ships in the night (they felt my profound absence from their tours, I’m sure). Finally the universe aligned and came together under the roof of my favourite Toronto venue. One of the rare venues where the sound techs are so good I don’t need to wear earplugs. The lighting techs make the most grand displays. The acoustics are phenomenal and the whole building is gorgeous. If an artist I love has a show there it’s pretty hard to pass up that chance.

It took about ten minutes for the band to engage the audience. In my head I’d always had this picture of Fleet Foxes as uptight, pretentious artwank douches. I couldn’t have been more off-base. They were amicable and loquacious, taking time to banter with the crowd. A crowd that was strangely aggressive heckle-wise. Once again, I expected that the band would shut that the fuck down, but instead lead singer Robin Pecknold accommodated it. He’d listen and respond. They’d goof around playing snippets of covers (“Exit Music for a Film”, “Here Comes the Sun”) or in general joking around with audience members. That unfortunately encouraged a deluge of dickheads from the crowd to call out, but didn’t tarnish an amazing gig.

It’s something truly special when a band you’ve been waiting for delivers in stunning fashion. Everything sounded phenomenal and the choice of visuals brought it all to the fore. The harmonies were rich and bold. Their track selection was astounding. I can’t think of any songs I craved that they missed. The old classics scratched the itch I’d built up for years. The new material added a interesting dynamic. It played on a stronger sense of juxtaposition, something that was viscerally felt live. I can’t imagine them having performed a better gig, which is the most sensational feeling when it’s something I’ve been longing for. At times it’s easy to forget how much live music resonates deeply within you.

Like every good gig, it’s making me question why I don’t go out to concerts more often. It’s making me wonder how long I’ll have to wait until the next big one (September 18th, Father John Misty). Mostly though, it’s filling my mind with memories and my heart with goodwill.

In short, it’s about time I added more names to that bucket list.

Beetloaf? How would anyone ever figure that out?

I was listening to a playlist and David Bowie’s “Heroes” came on. It’s a great song, obviously. This ain’t no hot take. It’s not like you were in doubt about Bowie’s discography until I came down from on high and anointed it with my blessing. Oh, Leon thinks it’s a sweet jam? I better slide this one into my A rotation tout de suite. Bowie don’t need my help. Also, having passed into the pale, he’s beyond my reach.

It got me thinking, when did I get into Bowie? It was likely after hearing a bunch of his stuff on Radio Hauraki. I was 20 or so, working part time at a party store. Despite his legendary status in the rock canon, I didn’t know his stuff intimately. I liked that “Ziggy Stardust” one, but knew piss-all outside of that. I downloaded the rest of the Spiders from Mars album and soaked it in. Then Diamond Dogs. My appreciation of Bowie never passed into true idolatry. Since listening more intently, I’ve always thought he was great, but didn’t get sucked into the orbit of his mythos. I think I missed the boat, his contemporary relevance having happened before my time.

Then Bowie passed away and, well, nothing much changed. I still think he’s pretty great, but even more so than my own appreciation of his work, I love how his music and persona inspired so many. The pop cultural sphere was overflowing with tributes and it was hard to escape (not that I’d care to) from his pervasive oeuvre. Watching interviews where he clearly thought in a manner that was beyond his time, knowing that he constantly championed new and emerging artists only increased my admiration.

I noticed all the furore after his death (partly sparked by his late game release of Blackstar and the oddly prescient “Lazurus”) and wondered, cynically, if any artists had considered faking their death for the sweet, sweet tributes. I thought back to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, how the boost to their discography rotations must’ve aided their estates. In poker you’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. For an established, but fading artist (like Kenny Rogers himself), could it be time to cash out and escape to serene seclusion? Set up getaway plans, have lawyers plot everything out, then disappear leaving only grim fiction of your demise in your wake.

How hard would it be to fake your identity, buy a small plot of land and enjoy the quiet life somewhere outside of public scrutiny? You could chop wood and portage, whittle and play the fiddle. Plus other shit that country people do day in day out. How am I supposed to know? I’ve never shoved my arm up a cow’s butt. Royals and residuals lining your coffers, leaving the rest of your days unencumbered by the need to perform for others. For someone who’d lived in the public eye, wouldn’t that be idyllic? Meatloaf would do anything for love, would he fake his death? C’mon dude, it shouldn’t be hard to create some plant-based persona and find the sweet bliss of obscurity. Kill your public persona and live for yourself, not for anyone else. Then if you need a huge cash infusion, re-emerge from the grave like a Bat Out of Hell.

What are you waiting for? Your career has written itself to this moment.

Alanis, you of all people oughta know what irony is.

In today’s entry, we’re gonna talk things, whatnots and somesuches. Cool? Cool!

Today I tried my first ever Fawaffle cone, a dish after my own heart. It was exactly what it sounded like and as delicious as the portmanteau was adorable. A waffle cone made of falafel. It’s a rad gluten-free option that gets protein into a come shaped format. Ever since the “meats in cones” discussion from There’s Something About Mary, I’ve been longing to sink my teeth into a crunchy waffly exterior to taste umami goodness within. It was like a savoury ice cream. Shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, mint, avocado and spicy sauce. I’m sure it had way more calories than I was expecting, but boy oh boy did it fill a) my wish for a meaty cone and b) my stomach. I’m going out for tacos tonight. I can only imagine the salsa party in my belly.

There are so many things that I don’t know. 99% of these are not what I consider worth googling. If that’s not an entitled mindset, I don’t know what is. All sorts of stuff. Why do cyclists wear that lycra/spandex get up? Does it cut down on wind resistance? Is it super breathable? Does it dry quickly? Are there compression elements to it? Do people just think it looks cool? Or does it come with an aura of legitimacy? Do you feel like you ride faster if your top and bottom halves look thematically similar?

Releasing an album seems like a massive labour of love. Hundreds of hours of songwriting, practicing, performing, recording, mixing and all sorts of other stuff I’m sure I haven’t considered. I was listening to Basia Bulat’s most recent album, Good Advice. Her previous album, Tall Tall Shadow was fantastic. Emotionally stirring ballads, good danceable pop and an engaging through-line. I don’t feel the same way about Good Advice. Most critics didn’t feel the same way about Good Advice. My question is that when an album is to be released, how much disconnect is there between an artist and public perception? In this situation, how often does the artist genuinely believe that they’re putting out their best possible material? Do they phone it in just to get the album finished in time? Is there pressure from the record company to push it out and start selling? Could it be a matter of incorrectly gauging what it was about their previous music that people loved? Or pinning it down to certain elements and myopically assuming they needed to double or triple down on that kind of thing? At the end of the day, it could 100% be that it didn’t appeal to me, but everyone else loved it? I’m (thankfully) very far from the only person out there. I don’t really know if there is an easy answer to this. I certainly don’t think I could google it. I’m sure NPR probably has a podcast on your very subject.

This one’s embarrassing. I actually don’t know how bees make honey. I know they collect pollen on their little hairy legs and bring it back to the beehive. Is this a tribute for the queen? Does the queen squirt honey out like soft-serve? Do bees then organise this honey into neat little honeycombs? Then apiarists in faux hazmat suits steal their delicious output and take all the credit? Where does Seinfeld come in?

The ironic part is I was a B science student at best.

I really thought they were getting somewhere too.

I bet Guile from Street Fighter watches Friday Night Lights. He just seems the sort. I’ve never seen the show, but it feels like it’d revolve around camaraderie, triumph against adversity, hot tempers and dealing with the foibles of youth. In my mind’s eye I can see the golden mohawk’d jock clutch a red white and blue pillow to his chest, tears streaming down his broad face.

I was eavesdropping on a group chatting on the subway. They were discussing dinner plans and spanning the world while they were at it. “Should we go for Korean or pho?” “Well they’re both good, I don’t care.” “What about pizza?” “Pizza’s great, but I had it for lunch today.” “You could eat pizza twice a day, right?” “Of course. But what about sushi? We could go for all you can eat.” “So, unlimited low quality sushi?” “Pretty much.” “We could try Captain’s Boil.” “We could.” “Is that a no?” “Well have you considered grabbing low key kebabs?” “Oooh, I could go for falafel.” “Oh wait, what about ramen?” “I had ramen on Monday.” “Have you got some once per week ramen rule?” “Nah, ramen’s the best. Except…” “Except what?” “Korean would be pretty boss.” “You’re right. Korean? Korean?” “Yep.” “Yep.” “Alright. Korean it is.”

I was sitting on the bus, waiting for it to head north. A kid (honestly, he was probably 15, but everyone younger than 20 is practically an infant to me now) sat in the empty seat beside me. His friend sat on the seat in front of him and turned sideways. I offered to switch seats with his friend so they could sit together. He said thanks. We switched. They started chatting about something. They were talking about haircuts and the guy next to me turned around. “If you’re shaving some, you’ve gotta be careful about how much. If you get it wrong you’ll look emo and everyone will start talking to you about Dashboard Confessional. Wait, are they still considered emo? I’ve never felt so out of touch.” We chatted about the evolution of emo and how much of a cultural touchstone it was in the mid 2000s. We talked music classification, deviations between emo, post-punk and post-hardcore.

We discussed our own pathways between genres and how they blended. He piped up. “You know, after listening to emo in my teens I needed something darker. I found it in the blues.” We talked blues, rock and roll and the white acculturation of black music. “You know,” he started “it’s been accepted that rock and roll was invented by black people, but people seem to forget it was Sister Rosetta Tharpe who started the whole thing. She’d play at train stations because they were the only places black people were allowed to gather. A gay black woman. White men spent generations shitting on each of those aspects and she was the trifecta. For years it was accepted that rock music was the domain of white men. Because that’s how history goes. It’s even in the name: HIStory. People argue with me and I ask if I really need to spell it out for them.” As I reached my stop and stood up, the dude asked me if I was Kiwi or Aussie. “Kiwi.” I said. “Thought so” he replied “I used to live by Timaru.” A woman on the seat in front turned around. “Oh, my dad’s a Kiwi.” I smiled and turned around as I left the bus. “Choice. Well kia ora folks.”

Don’t get all giddy on the kindness of strangers. On an earlier train some white dude yelled racial epithets at an old Asian woman until she left.

The teacher who taught us Green Day’s “Good Riddance” thought he was the coolest. He was.

I used to love singing. Absolutely adore it. In primary school I joined the choir and cherished it to bits. At the time it didn’t get a lot cooler than “In the Middle of the Night” by Billy Joel or that Friends theme by The Rembrandts. Harmonies seemed on another level. I couldn’t conceive how different melodies could blend together to create something fuller and more robust. It blew my six year old mind to pieces. I’d proudly sing in the shower or in talent contests. We had school choir concerts that I coerced my parents into attending. I was one of the few nerds that enjoyed singing assemblies, where we stood in the hall and read lyrics projected by the OHP machine. Those were the days.

Here’s the thing. Much as I loved it, I knew I was no prodigy. Don’t get me wrong, I wished I were one. I so wanted to be an amazing singer, but knew that I didn’t have the X factor. This was before the show too. I envied anyone who took to it naturally. I could carry a tune, but I couldn’t lift a crowd off their feet. I dipped my toes into choirs in intermediate and college, but lacked the commitment and drive to make the uphill climb. I still loved singing, but illusions of grandeur were far from my vision. To this day an audition for a college talent quest stands as one of my most cringeworthy experiences. My meagre range missed so many notes and I saw just how the crowd saw me. If I’d had an ego, that would’ve killed it and stabbed the corpse for good measure.

Still, I had karaoke on my side. A couple (read: not blackout, but not a safe distance off) of drinks with mates and we’d rent a karaoke room for an hour or two. I’d belt them out with impunity. We all sucked, so who cared? Fun was the goal and we were scoring big. When I came to Canada, all of my friends seemed to be musical theatre geeks. Karaoke evolved into this big public spectacle in a bar. People getting up with pre-selected songs. No longer was it about having fun goofing off, it was performative in a big way. There were crowds, for fuck’s sake. You can only see disappointment in so many faces before you walk the other way. I can safely say, it felt like being back at that talent show. It was evident that I didn’t have enough. I’ve pretty much steered clear of karaoke for the past few years, it felt that bitter and personal.

Last night I went out for karaoke with friends. We hired a room for two hours. Most people were all manner of loaded (day drinking does that). You know what? I had a fucking blast. There were no egos, just a celebration of giving it what you had. No matter who sang, no matter how it went, the fact that they’d done it was a cause for celebration. I was unsure at first. There were a few songs where I seriously contented with whether or not I’d be able to commit. Then I thought back to improv class. The instructor telling us that standing back and not participating makes everyone lose. You’re not supporting your team mates, but you’re also putting a wall between you and the activity, as if you’re too cool. Half-assing is like being worried a ship will sink and leaving pre-emptively. If you stayed behind, you would’ve been able to help with the bail out. Maybe it wouldn’t have sunk. No, I didn’t think my friends would’ve crashed and burned behind the mic without me, but why wouldn’t I yes, and… to the notion of letting my lungs loose? Make no mistake, I shredded my throat something chronic. Those muscles haven’t been stretched in some time. I did, however, remember just how much I loved singing. If I don’t do well, but have a great time, have I really lost anything?

Dignity was never high on my list of values.

I’m a long way from Tipperary.

I miss how I used to listen to music. Anyone who knows my burning hatred of physical media should understand that I’m not directly talking about the little red My First Sony Walkman I got for my 6th birthday with a “Simpsons Sing the Blues” cassette (though that was several layers of bitchin’). The way I miss music listening is on a more abstract level. I miss how personal music listening used to feel.

Music hasn’t changed, I have. The distribution methods have. Perhaps it could simply be a case of scarcity. With the advent, nay proliferation, of streaming technology there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be listening to whatever you want whenever you desire it. The sheer quantity of music is limitless. Artists’ entire discographies within a few clicks. You can go from never having heard of a musician to devouring everything they ever produced in a number of hours. The framework now gives you more music than you have time to absorb. It’s easier than ever to explore new music, but if you’re anything like me, that brings with it guilt over repeated listens in order to know a new album inside and out. I’m willing to admit this is most likely a personal rather than widespread issue. I’m not even sure it’s an issue in the first place.

At age 14 I “discovered” music listening and it awakened something in me. Imagine one day discovering that eating was something humans did and becoming instantly famished. I was ravenous and desperate. These were the days of Napster, so I begun downloading tracks like crazy. I’d latch onto bands I liked and seek out others with a similar sound. I made mix CDs with pretentious names and had them on constant rotation. I knew track orders by heart. I experimented with sculpting  ebbs and flows. Making tracks together shape moods. I got into albums, enjoying the cohesion of tracks stacked in a deliberate fashion, as to curate a listening experience. Through rote, I knew every single track by heart in order, knew all the lyrics. I devoted so much of my brain to music archiving that I’m surprised I had any room left for school work.

This issue has less to do with the availability of music than it does an economy of scale. Let’s not pretend that I committed all 60GB of my first iPod to memory. You could just as easily tie it to shifting values with age too. At 30 the social capital of encyclopedic music knowledge has plummeted, especially when we all have pocket computers. I’d kill for that earnest enthusiasm though. The excitement that came with a new album release, dissecting and analysing the song composition, lyrics, track structure. These days there are several new bands each week, plus 2018 seems to be when all my favourite 2008-2010 acts are putting out new albums. It’s not possible to keep up and the thought of doing so is so daunting that it doesn’t feel worth trying. How did I have the time? I kept up with TV shows, video games and was always on top of the freshest music. What didn’t I have in my life then that I do now?

Oh, that’s right. I was single and barely slept for most of my early 20s. That’d do it.