Adam’s ribs could’ve used a barbecue sauce glaze, I tells ya

We’ve been trying to sort last minute Christmas plans, and it made me remember something.

About six years ago, when I first moved into this place, I joined a pre-existing tenant. We were flatmates, she got me a job as a children’s gymnastics coach. We threw a misfits thanksgiving together. I invited a few of my friends, she invited hers. Fun time. It’s a tradition I’ve continued as the years have passed. We did a good job of apportioning different meals for people to bring. We had a turkey, lots of mashed potatoes, veggies, bread rolls, gravy, all that good stuff. We had drinks and good company. Perfect, eh?

My flatmate’s friend invited her boyfriend, who invited a couple of his friends. They brought nothing. They had neither food, nor drink. They didn’t think ahead to buying before a holiday. They ate heartily, drank our booze, and stayed for maybe an hour contributing nothing. They weren’t even neat or interesting people, just mooches. We had a bunch of food, and when they got up to go, my flatmate’s friend was like “go ahead, take some stuff for the road” (without asking, I might add). They wasted no time in grabbing paper plates and piling them high. They loaded them up until they sagged, and walked out the door. After they left, my flatmate was heartbroken. She’d spent all this time making her first turkey, and she knocked it out of the park. She’d been talking all day about the leftover chicken, mashed potato and gravy sandwiches she’d be eating for the next week. Her friend had welcomed people in that she barely knew, and they’d sucked us dry. She got one sandwich the next day, and that was all the leftovers we had. I think she may even have cried, she was that devastated.

I don’t know that there’s a real point to that story, other than those dudes being dickwads who either couldn’t read a room, or chose not to. It hasn’t changed my stance on welcoming in near strangers. Just because they were dweebs, that doesn’t mean everyone else will be. I don’t know how many good friends of mine came from one random interaction at a party. Who’s to say I won’t meet some of my favourite people as strangers brought by friends? Everyone we meet is an opportunity, and that feels worth taking a chance on.

I was thinking last night that I would’ve made a pretty good rabbi. I mean, this would be contingent on me being religious, which I’m very much not. I was at a friend’s party, and noticed they had both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations around. I thought that was kinda neat, and didn’t realise that one of my friends who lived there was Jewish. He and I chatted for a while about the holidays, what they represented for him, etc etc. We talked about our barmitzvah experiences, and the training that came with them. I told him of mine; I spent six months learning to lead a service, and another six months learning my specific Torah portion. It was 20 minutes of speaking in a more archaic text of a language I could read, but not understand. Then working with the rabbi to put together a speech about the various themes and metaphors in the piece. My friend gave me insight I’d never had. All the training was essentially putting together a sermon, thinking about how to make ancient texts relevant to a modern day audience. We were rabbis for a day, and that’s exactly what the barmitzvah was.

I realised that in another lifetime, that’s what I could’ve excelled at. It’s basically half of what I do here, minus the bollocks pop-cultural stuff and angry rants. This notion of trying to draw connection between people and themes. Bringing out and highlighting other aspects of life we may have elsewise overlooked. Finding new ways to look at and take in the world around us. It’s all stuff I would’ve fucking loved, if I’d felt an inkling of spirituality.

And, y’know, if pork didn’t taste so good.

It’s not the length of the wave…

I used to spend my summers mainlining music festivals.

It’s been a while, for no reason I can fathom. When I first got to Canada I started scoping out the festival lineups. For most of my time in NZ we just had one big festival. The Big Day Out. I went every year (since it was usually a day or two outside my birthday, it became a de facto gift), but always wanted more chances to catch an array of music in one day. I went to Lollapalooza with a friend in Chicago once and that kind of changed the scope. This was something larger with more potential than I’d dreamed of. Once I moved to Canada, I realised the density of large international acts was so much heavier. It was all I could’ve wanted. Then, strangely, I stopped going. It makes no sense.

My second day into Toronto I went to Grove Music Festival at Fort York Garrison. Sweet lineup. Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Phoenix and more. $30 tickets because Icona Pop cancelled last minute and some girl on roller blades no longer wanted to go. It was fantastic. The setting was an old historical garrison (hence the name), lush fields and some old brick buildings. Lots of colourful tents and food trucks set up, a couple of stages. The kind of place where people would bring kids and dogs. I saw some terrific music, crowdsurfed for the first time and met a good friend. Years later when I was writing for a food blog, I reviewed the food at Field Trip music festival, also at Fort York. Another stellar gig with a lot of Arts and Crafts label acts. Had an amazing time working with an ex who did the photography to my writing.

All of this was preamble to say that when my friend offered up guestlist spots to a festival he was shooting, I nigh offered up my hypothetical firstborn. It’d been too long and the opportunity cost was so low. Wavelength is a collective of artists that curate concerts throughout the year. They’ll have showcases and whatnot that give space for up and coming talent to be seen. In the case of Camp Wavelength (usually on the Toronto Islands), some names were less up and coming than established. Suuns, TOPS and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan are all reasonably well known by now.

The gig had an awesome flow to it. Incredibly relaxed, nothing was in your face. You could flow between the stage and all the interactive art projects volunteers had set up. There were the aforementioned food trucks and tents, there was even a comedy campfire with Chanty Marostica, Aisha Brown and a few acts I didn’t manage to catch. At the music stage, Zaki Ibrahim and Maylee Todd both really stood out to me. Zaki had this kind of smooth and funky R&B, with talented backing singers. Maylee used a harp and a bunch of loop pedals. I’m a sucker for anything loop pedal-ly. It was fucking swell.

I hadn’t realised one of my friends was setting up a Mystic Dream Tent. Tarot readings, massage, etc. It was a cute cushioned tent and a great space to relax. I got to catch up with her and get my first ever tarot reading. In doing so, I realised something I’d never cottoned onto before. Tarot is just therapy. There’s this whole thing in therapy about how you’re not supposed to tell people their problems, rather you lead them to finding their own answers. The idea being that telling someone what’s wrong is nowhere near as effective as them coming to their own revelations. If they feel like they’ve figured it out on their own, they’ll take greater ownership over effecting a solution. In tarot, the symbols are used to put down broadly relatable metaphors. The reader gives a loose explanation of what they could be, then the subject scans their past and finds their own causal links. Having those metaphors helps the subject to infer what issues are within their lives and consider how to resolve them. It’s brilliant. It’s all basically a big madlibs where the subject fills in the gaps to make the story relevant to their life. In doing so, they work through internal conflict and find resolve. I can totally see how in cultures past, tarot would have taken therapy’s place in easing emotional trauma.

Now the question is, with summer dawning, what festivals are still left for me?

Bismuth is booming.

I had a psychic reading today. Maybe I was just jazzed about the release of St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION and her pending Fear the Future tour. Perhaps I was just concocting a tangent that allowed me to talk about how great St Vincent’s new album is and how excited I’ve been for its release. As an ardent fan of basically everything Annie Clark has done since Actor (I like the stuff beforehand, that was just the point at which I discovered her work), I’ve been glued to the endless tongue-in-cheek mini interviews she’s been posting over Facebook. I’ve adored the visual direction of her album promotion and I’m so stoked that the album delivered this hard. Once an artist gets big enough that they’re advertising in Times Square, I think it’s only fair to worry that they may have strayed into some kind of diluted mass appeal. Worries abated, I’ve now got something to sink my teeth into over the next few months.

Anyway, the reading. Some spirituality store on Bloor was doing an open house. Free Tarot/mini psychic readings. My girlfriend and I were looking for fun daytime activities and figured it’d be worth checking out. As a kid who grew up on fantasy novels, horror films and superhero stories I’ve always wanted to find something, anything that’d let me grasp onto a belief that there’s another layer of existence out there. As if by attuning oneself, you could peel back the veneer and become receptive to another plane. To bring magic and/or the supernatural into our world. To touch the past and/or future and roam the world in a more confident, knowing sense. To finally understand what it is that people get out of spirituality and use that to enhance my life.

Of course, every time I walk into a store and see suggestions that crystals are anything more than geological growths, my asshole involuntarily clenches. I’m not trying to imply in any way that there’s anything wrong with these kind of beliefs. For all I know (which is nothing, in this case) Bismuth, a lab grown metal crystal, may well have spiritual properties. If it doesn’t, but it happens to make people more comfortable/confident to believe that, then I’m glad they’re coming out of it with a positive result.

Oh, that’s right. The reading. The dude started me off by saying that he’d just finished his course. That he went into it out of interest and found some latent abilities as he progressed. I appreciated his candour, but at the same time diminishing his successes was a poor way to engender confidence in me about his abilities. He said that I struck him as an organised person, but at times not. Okay, fair enough. Sometimes I am more organised than others. He said he saw a big family disagreement with me. I thought for a second. Nope, not that I’m aware of. Or maybe it was with a friend. Someone’s pissed at me? Bummer. Definitely a money loaning thing. I haven’t loaned anyone money, so that struck me as a little odd. He mentioned a sick family member. Someone in the hospital. Or it could be one of my friends. Maybe one of my friend’s family members. At this point I wasn’t sure if this came to him or if he was fishing for a nibble. I found myself not wanting to look him directly in the eyes, because I felt like it might throw him off. This was odd, considering that I go through life looking most people directly in the eyes. He said I was someone who was quite into playing sports. Is Magic the Gathering a sport yet? I wondered. Yep, definitely into sports, he continued, contact sports. Contact sports are my least favourite type of sports, I thought. He continued. A business venture I was looking to do would fail. Wait, no. It wouldn’t fail, but it would be harder to make work than it initially appeared. It would take more people than it initially appeared, but it could work. He asked me if I had any questions I wanted to consult him on. I told him thanks for his help. After I left the room I saw him walk out of the store, to return several minutes later with a bottle of water. Maybe he was just tired?

Dear universe. I’m open to it, but you’ve gotta give me a better sign than that.

Of course now I’m just jealous that my skin isn’t chitinous.

After attempting to erode the vile concoction that’s congealed at the bottom of my green bin, it gave me cause to think. Firstly, I’ve realised just who it is that puts those fucking brittle paper bags in the bin. Those same people who are courteous enough to put our bin out front. I don’t know if I’m to stay grizzly at them or to stop bearing this grudge altogether. In any case, I looked (the smell had wafted over long before) at the bin and surmised that something had to be done. In what was nothing more than half-baked logic and likely ill-effective, I boiled a kettle and doused the fermented bio waste in viciously hot water. I hope it breaks the gross mass up, rather than rising back like Obi Wan. The second revelation that I had (look a couple of lines up, I had an epiphany before this) was that trash collecting is not a profession I could ever see myself in. I wouldn’t want the early mornings, a purely physical job doesn’t interest me, I don’t even know if I’d be interested in a job that kept me outside. Forget the usual off-putting scent, there are so many things that don’t attract me about the job. It got me thinking, what other jobs would be in my worst case scenario drawer?

Accountancy. Or almost any admin type role that involved numbers. I’m not a total blockhead, but my brain computer doesn’t run on binary. I need words, abstract concepts and lateral thinking. My brain is not literal, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have just dumped boiling water in my green bin. If I was more logical I would’ve just googled the answer. When a problem comes up, my thoughts zoom to alternate notions and potential functions outside of what I actually need. We’re testing a new system at work and it’s doing my head in. Spreadsheets and data tables, numbers and percentages. It’s like I’m used to running through corridors that curve and all of a sudden I’m dealing with unexpected right angles. It’s jarring and I have to keep stopping to think and breathe. I’m not a robot, I’m human (read: I’m erring. Lots).

A more spiritual variant of any profession. I could see myself maybe doing some kind of physical instruction (didn’t you teach gymnastics for a bit? – Ed), but I’d put a hard stop at yoga. I could tell people to stretch, but the latent woo woo of chakras and spiritual alignment would unalign whatever chakras or engrams or other qi-z concept they could throw at me. Being a dietician or nutritionist wouldn’t be the worst thing, but as soon as naturopathy came into the picture I’d be fucking out of there. Physio maybe, chiropractor, no fucking way. Of course, any of this stuff would’ve meant I skewed towards body knowledge somewhere in my life, which isn’t the case. If that happened, I probably wouldn’t need help in those kind of areas. Oddly enough, despite my spiritual aversion I’d probably make a pretty good cult leader.

Vanity salesperson. This is a wide net. I’d find it hard to sell clothing, make-up, accessories or any products designed to accentuate attractiveness. I’ve always had an aversion to mentioning people’s looks. If I’m gonna compliment someone, it’ll rarely be on physical qualities. Likely because of own held insecurities, I naturally assume that people care more about what they are then what they look like. Even the thought of it makes me feel shallow, I’ve got this innate block against it. I can’t imagine how awful I’d feel spending a day judging and categorising others based on how they present themselves. Like I was placing importance upon these characteristics that clash so heavily with my values. Logically I know that this isn’t the case for most people. People like being complimented on their appearance, because it’s validating and our society highlights its importance. Still, I’d feel like a tool if I was constantly reaffirming others self-worth through outward characteristics. No bueno.

At the end of the day, humans are like cockroaches. While our skin isn’t chitinous, we do have the ability to adapt to most situations. If it came to it, I could do any of the above jobs. I’m just fortunate enough to inhabit a place in society where I don’t have to stoop to things I don’t want to do. Isn’t that something? Here I am refusing to sell necklaces, while in some countries, people get necklaced. Makes you think, eh?

Then again, the last time I did that I filled my bin with boiling water, so maybe I should hold off on thinking for now.

I missed throwing down a “talk to the hand” line. Facepalm.

I’m no mystic. I’m not even particularly spiritual. I’ve always found myself wanting to believe in forces outside of the things we see, but never been given a strong enough push or sign that mysterious forces are at work shaping our world. Except for those reptilian shapeshifters and their Machiavellian schemes. The scale of their crimes is beyond doubt. Cold blooded bastards.

Anyway, less about my impassioned vendetta against those slippery salamanders and back to the topic at hand. The unknown, mysticism and magic. Sage wisdom from the beyond. Yeah, so I find it a tad woo woo, but I’ve had a longstanding yearning to believe. No, I don’t think any of us are living an existence preordained by the exploits of those dastardly lizards. I don’t believe in fate so much as coincidences and causality intertwining merrily. Okay, have I hit my quota of polysyllabic words yet? Can I drop the bullshit and pretense?

My girlfriend and I went to one of those $10 palm readers for shits and giggles.

It was fun, a neat thing to try if you’ve got the luxury of time, $10 and imagination. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief you’ve gotta engage before partaking in something like this, so we tried our best. She went first while I sat out in the hallway, staring at the various mystic looking landscapes and astral designs with aspect ratio issues obviously printed out from google images. Okay, I’ll try and tone down the cynicism a notch. She was gone for about 10 minutes, then came out in a kind of hush, obviously thinking about what she’d just heard. She tagged out and I went in.

I was brought into a small room and seated at a table. She said she could perform the $10 palm reading, which was quite general, or a more precise reading for $25. I chose to stick with the cheap and cheerful option. She nodded and asked me to place my dominant hand face up on the table. She looked down at it and started talking. A few things that surfaced:

  • There is a man in my life who has cast a dark curse upon me. His first name starts with an “M” or a “J”. He often acts outwardly kindly towards me, but is secretly deceitful behind my back. The curse occurred last year and I brought it with me into this year, casting darkness on my path. She said it was the reason I kept putting out good energy into the world without receiving reciprocal returns. She said it’s the reason I’m often kept awake at night deep in thought, unable to turn off. She also said that for $25 she could purge it from my body and return me to normalcy. I declined her kind offer.
  • She said I’d have no major health problems, just minor issues. I’d live to a healthy late 80s or early 90s age.
  • Someone in my family will go to the doctor over the next few months with a chest or throat issue.
  • She asked me if I was employed. I replied affirmatively. She said that my responsibilities wouldn’t change much over the next little while, but she saw more money coming my way.
  • She asked me if I was in a relationship. Once again, I replied affirmatively. She asked how long. “8 months” I replied. Almost instantly she said I’d met my soul mate. She saw love, marriage, no divorce and a few children in the equation.

She thanked me for my time and said that was all she could see. She warned me that telling anyone before a week would result in bad luck. I paid and gave thanks before leaving. My girlfriend was sitting on the stairs writing and prompted me to write too, so we’d remember what to tell each other a week later. It was good, innocent fun.

A few things though. Not once did she touch my hand. Everything was “read” from a distance. If the lines on your hand don’t change, doesn’t that mean you’d get the same fortune no matter when it was read? So anything time based would be rendered irrelevant? The chest or throat thing, that seems pretty general. More money coming my way without a significant increase in responsibilities? Knowing the industry, that’s not likely to happen unless I win the lottery. As someone who doesn’t gamble, that’s significantly unlikely. Unless a relative passes away from a chest or throat thing that causes them to visit a doctor. Oh shit son!

The soul mate thing is the part I find the hardest to get on board with. Not because my girlfriend isn’t a wonderful person I have endless affection for, but because of the way she said it. It was such a cursory, throwaway line, as if she tired of saying it 20 times a day. It felt cheap and rehearsed, belittling the information it held. She said the same thing to my girlfriend. I don’t know what’s coming in my life, I don’t know what personal or emotional turmoil could be lurking on the horizon. I know that I’m in love, but I also know that life finds a way of complicating anything it can get its hands on. I’m 28 years old. Even though I’m an adult, I still don’t know what could happen next week (though this google calendar thing is certainly helping), let alone anything involving happily ever afters. I want to believe that this is it. I want to believe that I’ve met the right person and things will flow from here. I want to believe that it’s time for things to just fall into place, but the one thing I know for sure about life is that it’s anything but predictable. There are too many variables, and with each person added to the mix, the complex cauldron of coincidences and causality changes completely.

But that’s why life is exciting, right? There’s too much in the future to be fixated on any point. Like Aerosmith and the soundtrack tie-in to the 1998 film Armageddon, I don’t wanna miss a thing.

Django bells. Are you listening?

Is Santa a scientologist?

As an atheist Jew I have a meagre understanding of both St Nic and Elrond Hubbard. Still, is there some congruence between the two? Both have emerged as cult-like figures, buoyed by legions of rabid fans. I have little belief that either exists, yet people swear by their permanence and significance. You might say that those are surface coincidences, but hey, it’s post Christmas feasting. I’m fat and vegetative, so if my mind escapes to flights of fancy then so be it. Let’s keep this train rolling.

Both men run organisations that, through some manner of coercion or indentured servitude, are staffed by slaves of sorts. Is it fear? Mind control? Or something even more sinister? That jolly old fellow seems kindly and benign, but what’s he hiding behind that inscrutable beard? Do the elves work tirelessly to create toys for children worldwide through some sinister threat? Is their family at stake? Are they mentally present (yus! unexpected pun)? Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Funding. A hot button topic. The church of scientology is funded by a member tithe, but I’m sure that’s not their only avenue of income. Quid pro quo, how does Santa get all of his supplies? Timber, plastic and fabric ain’t cheap en masse. You can quote the magic of Christmas all you want, but who created Santa? Coke. Does this mean his entire operation is bankrolled by the South American coke trade? I’m not saying that Santa’s a thugged out drug dealer, but if there’s something going on, he nose.

The transportation. You’re not gonna tell me that you believe in this reindeer nonsense, are you? I don’t accept it. Much easier to believe is that Santa is a level 8 scientologist, by which point the abilities of teleportation and invisibility are bestowed upon you by Xenu or something. Even with the rapid (nigh instant) transit of teleportation, I’m still not inclined to believe that he could reach every child’s house without help. I’m sure hiding from sight would smooth out operations. Though kissing mummy would certainly slow down matters. C’mon Nic, you don’t have time for those kind of shenanigans.

Coming into question is also Santa’s insane knowledge. He creates a list of every human in the world and forms naughty/nice lists to track their progress. Surveillance gone too far? How does public opinion even accept this kind of nonsense  without flying directly to the North Pole and crucifying him against a giant candy cane? How does he possess this intel anyway? I’ve heard that at level 6 of scientology our main man would gain the secrets of the entire universe. This would directly feed into a viable answer list of his subjects. I’m sure scientology also has a vast network of spies backing them up. Seems otherwise all too convenient for our jolly ol’ Nicolas.

Look guys, all I do is lay out the facts and conjecture. It’s your choice if you follow it or me.

Merry Christmas everyone. Keep watching the skies.

Presented that way, living in a Psychic City does have enduring appeal.

Gig review. Somehow I found the time amidst JFL42. I’d been wanting to see YΔCHT for years, at least since See Mystery Lights. It was every bit as batshit insane as I expected, which was a total delight. I’ll post the link once it’s up.

Link is up: