Poles apArt

These telephone poles are just north of the Danforth along Greenwood Ave., in front of Danforth Tech. I usually don’t walk along the west side of the street so didn’t notice this art installation until earlier this year. All are on the north side of the poles so motorists will see them. From the weathering of the wood they have been here for some time.

David Bowie tribute?

ragged star glory
stars over the mountains
the pole star
shattered star
a peeling star
Is that a face before me?
red star

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R.E.M.embering

By R.E.M. I have as mp3 – Reckoning (1984)/ Life’s Rich Pageant (1986)/ Document (1987) as stand alone Green (1988), Out of Time (1991), Automatic for the People (1992), Monster (1994), New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1998), Up (1998), Accelerate (2008). Before they hit big a friend have me a cassette (remember those?) of Reckoning which didn’t impress me. It had a sort of Byrds like sound I liked but I was no fan as a result.

I picked up a 2nd hand Document cassette & I guess the sound quality was better & I did enjoy it but when they hit their stride with Green I followed their releases for awhile. Their engineering & production improved. I liked the way their music changed from release to release. Lots of keyboards, then almost acoustic, then more guitar, then a touch of mandolin. It must be odd when an alternative band becomes so mainstream. They turned out to be neo-hippies with their strong ecological, political stance.

To round out the mp3 collection I added: Stories: About Us (1973) – an excellent album by a great US band that didn’t survive their fame. Simply Red: Men & Women (1987); A New Flame (1989): two fine adult pop romantic lps by a band that sort of faded away. Huey Lewis & The News: Sports (1983); Fore! (1986) – read hit parade rock pop by a band that was inescapable from in the mid 80’s.

Joe Simon: Get Down – great soulful sexy r’n’b dance music worth searching out. David Bowie: Let’s Dance: obscure lp by an obscure British musician (just joking). Bowie does disco with intelligence & a bit of grit. Finally The Dream Academy – one of the bands that propelled emo into chamber rock – dreamy & sonically rich.



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#Reputation

I’ve decided to tackle the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green as a set of prompts. I’d never heard of them until some one posted a random law in their Tumblr feed. The plan is to post one of these Law prompted pieces a week on Thursdays.

grey

Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation 

Accused=Guilty

 

they bond over Bowie

sharing memories of first hearing

Ziggy Stardust

Young Americans

Low

the old stuff

even the younger-than’s

fall back to those older times

no one says ‘let’s dance’

gave them a sense of hope

 

they bond

then the ties fray

Bowie was human

after all

allegations of rape

sex with the underaged

when he was in his twenties

they see this 69 year old man

of today

toying with the panties

of a fragile unwilling teenage girl

 

context gets lost

in this wash of language & image

with this need to now judge

to put his reputation into perspective

allegations become convictions

deeds that may

or may not have happened

decades ago

now become proven facts

evidence is irrelevant

accomplishments are diminished

 

actions that may or may not have happened

when he was a drunk druggy in his 20’s

are condemnations

actions we might forgive any drunken druggy

once he’d learned better

are now presented

because of who he became

as if there is a need to get even

 

to question rape allegations

is to become a rape apologist

so it’s easier to just shake one’s head in dismay

than confront

this invested-in

denying me the right to feel grief

over his death

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cat fish

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#Bowie to #Zevon

I downloaded Bowie’s Blackstar last Friday – listened to twice. Entertainment Weekly said ‘he reinvents’ himself. To me he was mining some of the territory of works like Low only with more saxophone. Elegant, somber with a few lighthearted moments, I was drawn into the layered sonics.

His voice becomes more an instrument than a conveyer of lyrics. Often floating around the sax that grounds everything. The lyrics are enigmatic, mystical and carefully placed in the mix. I loved the unexpected use of retro electronics in Sue.

stump01

Then on Monday morning comes the announcement of his death. He knew it was coming & this was to be final testament. Odd how something like that changes everything. As a step in his career Blackstar was was definitely a creative advance – as the cap to his career is it stunning.

I’ve blogged here & here about the Bowie in my collection earlier. His persona often eclipsed his music but he did create & sustain a space for ‘otherness’ – his ability to play on ambiguity, androgyny was sustained and productive. He established a creativity in which identity didn’t have to be concrete to be real.

stump02

Hearing about his death I looked back t his last album in which he revisits the styles of his past & now see that as a foreshadowing – he knew he was dying even then. It also made me think of another pop star, Warren Zevon.

stump03

Zevon recorded his last lp ‘The Wind’ (2003)knowing he was dying. But that was known before the lp was released. He is a very different performer from Bowie – more earthbound. The lyrics are heartrending – Please Stay takes my break away & the sax work i amazing. The Wind is no less over wrought than Blackstar.

whitestar

Zevon sings about knocking on heaven’s door; Bowie sings about the stars with no door stop him. The emotional sense of loss that I get from both Blackstar & The Wind is powerful.

sample

Sky Slut

the sunset has taken me as his lover

I promise to be true

but once dark enfolds me

I give myself to the stars

I cannot be satisfied by the Pleiades

with the Big Dipper soon to appear

 

a tingle twinkle romance

that comes the Milky Way way

I am sky slut unrepentant

until sunrise glares

in an attempt to shame me

I sustain a daylight atonement

eager when the unsuspecting sunset

takes me as his lover again

money

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Scary Monsters

Mid-career Bowie reinvents his look to the Thin White Duke or some such. The stand-alone’s: Young Americans: friend of mine loved this & I enjoyed a few tracks but this was more treading water than Bowie breaking new territory as he did in Station to Station. On Station he is working with Brian Eno – they did several lps together i.e. Low, Heroes which I find too noodle-some – looped & aimless treading water in a slightly more interesting way. Low key Prog Rock.

car01conflicting van doors of fashion

He shifts gears again into Disco Bowie in Scary Monsters – Fashion is a great song. He gets even more dance with Let’s Dance he tries a somewhat more rocker sound with Blue Jeans. But I lost interest him by then. He wasn’t pushing any envelopes creatively or even image wise. Did he have an affair with Mick Jagger? By this time, who cares.

yellowlines

barbed & dangerous

I picked up his most recent, The Next Day, to see where he was today. Solid if a bit generic, new pieces that span the many styles he has used in the past. Sweet & comfortable.

car02

same van going though ch ch ch changes

Next Day is on a mp3 collection that includes a couple of lps by local group blueVenus: fun fresh violin driven pop that is hugely recommended. Calvin Harris: 18 Months – excellent electro dance music. DaftPunk: Random Access Memories: I love Daft Punk & this is an amazing album. Electric Jon: Modern Living: another local performer with a wild energized, genre defying album. Justin Timberlake: the 20/20 Experience – what a bore this turned out to be. JbDubs: Oink – scary queer music that Bowie never had the guts to make.

sample

Forever

‘I’m getting out of here. You coming or staying?’ I waited for what seemed like forever before asking again. ‘You coming or staying?’

‘There’s no hurry,’ came the languid reply.

‘I think we have been here too long as it is it. We’ll be spotted if we stay much longer.’

‘Better to be spotted than striped.’

‘This is no time to making jokes.’

‘Can’t think of a better time, old chum. Here we sit in the face of possible death. Better to go out with a laugh than a scream.’

‘Better not to go out at all.’

‘I though you wanted to get out of here?’

‘Don’t twist my words. You know we have to leave as team. C’tral Station mandates that.’

‘Quite wise if you ask me. Very wise. Extremely wise.’

‘Not from the look of it here.’

‘Here! Here? You mean the balance between my willingness to take it slow, to to see things through as opposed to your desire to dash, to run, to avoid knowledge if it involves the least bit of risk.’

‘Yes. Here. I’d think that after losing both your hands in Quadrant PV last month you might have learned a bit more caution.’

‘Oh that. These? Hands are a dime a dozen, as they used to say.’

‘Nothing replaces the sensation of real hands.’

‘Oh! There you go again, flaunting your human superiority. I must say that fact that you are one of the few remaining fully intact humans in the squadron doesn’t give you any more or less rights. Stop being so sanctimonious.’

There was a red flare that flooded the air around them.

‘Ahh we can go now. We have exactly sixteen minutes to get beyond the Ripple.’

I headed to the Timeslip module that would take us out of there. Each heartbeat was minutes ticking away. We clambered in.

‘Why do you always do that. Leave things for the last possible moment.’

‘Its the only way to be sure.’

‘Sure?”

‘Yes. Without visual contact of the actual nuucburst my optic scanners have nothing to analyze.’

The Timeslip lifted into the air.

‘Set a course for …’

‘Now don’t start that either. The Slip already knows the course.’

‘I know but I thought as a human you might find comfort in hearing the same old same old.’

‘The only same old I want to hear next is my feet on solid ground.’

As the Slip sped into the air I could feel the Ripple pass underneath us.

‘That was very close. My calculations were wrong.’

‘No, we still have two minutes to spare.’

soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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cars

thanks

Aladdin Sane

I have a relatively extensive collection of David Bowie -stand alone’s & some on mp3 compilations. Like a many I didn’t become a fan until Ziggy. His androgyny & vague bisexuality caught by attention – but I realized it was more a pose than a reality. Jobriath was the real deal – too real for the glam market at the time.

pink

pink flow chart

I didn’t know Bowie was much of pop star before Ziggy so I have added a few earlier recording the came before Ziggy broke him into the US market. ‘David’ is full off pleasant, unremarkable material. The Man Who Sold The World steps up his game to a more rock persona. Ziggy Stardust blazed a new path. It is a solid piece of work – Suffragette City rouses, Lady Stardust teases. At first I was disappointed – I had expected the music to more scifi space electronica as opposed to guitar riff rock. It grew on me. I have the 30th anniversary edition.

green

transformation

Ziggy shares a cd with ABC: Remix collection – a group clearly influenced by later period Bowie; The Charlatans: an excellent UK group that never broke into the US market. Fine Young Cannibals: a group that made such a big splash it fell apart quickly.

yellowqueer hydrant

I also have the stand alone Aladdin Sane – which might be my favourite Bowie – looser, less commercial than Ziggy & with richer song writing & wilder musicality too. Time – ‘he flexes like a whore.’ More Bowie next week.

sample

‘Louie Louie!’

‘Play ‘Louie Louie!’ the drunk roared at the stage for the fifth time since they started their set.

‘Shut the fuck up!’ Carl shouted back over his drums. He couldn’t take much more this wedding crap. Bride and groom, bride and groom, was becoming a total drag.

‘I said, Louie Louie. Please, kind sir.’ The drunk had reeled across the floor and was inches from Carl’s face. His breath stank.

‘Not in this life life time, buddy.’ Carl clipped him with one of his drum sticks. The drunk’s head gave that ting sound one expects from a full forty ouncer. Carl hit him again and again, tapping all along the drunk’s forehead.

His arms were getting tried and the drumming was making him sweat. He hated that even more than playing Louie Louie all night for some asshole. God, the sweat. It was so hot in this hall. Couldn’t someone turn down the heat or at least turn up the air conditioning.

All sound stopped.

The hall went black. Oh shit the dream. It’s just the same damn dream. How do I get out of it this time? Carl sensed the bed underneath him but the mattress was on the stage in the hall.

He could see him drum kit and once he’d had a little rest he’d be ready to play the rest of the set. Understanding faces looked down at him.

‘Hey that’s okay,’ one of them said.

The bride was lifting her veil but her face wasn’t clear. There was bright light reflecting form one if his cymbals. It shone in his eyes, it reflected off her eyes and blinded him.

‘Don’t go yet. I don’t want to go now. I don’t. I want to finish this set. I’m sorry I hit that guy. Really even if he was a jerk.’

The mattress was moving through the hall. Carl could see figures wheel him along. The reception hall had narrowed very narrow like a tube, a dusty dark tube with glowing sides. The drunk’s bad breath was suffocating him. He could hardly breath but when he raised his hands to push the drunk away his arms wouldn’t move.

‘How can I play this set if I can’t move my arms. What the fuck is going on?’ He was shouting again.

The lights flickered on and off and on again only not a bright. The bride stood by him.

‘Haven’t met you before, have I?’

‘Janet Green. No you haven’t I just got back from leave of absence. But I have heard all about you.’

‘I’m sure you have.’ Carl laughed. ‘Gotta keep you guys on your toes.’ Gotta play to keep you happy till you find your wedding bed.

Janet tucked him in. She was laughing with him about something. He couldn’t quite make it out. The light from the mirror ball was scintillating little sparks around the room. He was dizzy but the lights kept tugging at him, tugging at him till he was back behind his drum kit ready to play one more set.

He counted down 1 and 2 and 3 and 4

‘Louie, lou-eye, baby

We gotta go now.’

As he sang Carl didn’t notice he was no longer breathing.

soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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redbulge04

seeing red

Blazing BeBop Deluxe

On to one another of my favourite, nearly unheard of groups: BeBop Deluxe: cd1: Axe Victim, Futurama, Starburst Finish, Modern Music, Live in the Air Age. cd2: Drastic Plastic, Radioland (BBC); Bill Nelson: Sound on Sound, The Love That Whirls; Yellow Magic Orchestra. Stand alone: Raiding the Divine Archive.

tables

patio mushrooms

Prog rock was a force at one time, one that never really made it to the charts mind you. Bands like ELP, Yes, Caravan – to name a few – where pushing pop in what was supposed to be complex directions with lot of classical organ, piano & seemingly random structures.

light

shaft of light

BeBop, is a guitar based group – the genius of Bill Nelson on guitar. For me it was truly progressive. Starburst Finish & Modern Music are the two lps I know the best – stunning engineering, surreal lyrics & a scifi subtext propels their music. Always surprising and rarely dull I always enjoy re-listening to their work. Unlike, say, ELP, which can be a bit of a slog at times – slog prog: a new genre.

Many of the arrangements are astonishing – each line seems to come from a different song yet they cohere and take me with them with a consistent sonic flow that seems effortless. Some of the lyric writing now has a sense of the time: that ironic 70’s stance, but who cares.

carpet

carpet hedge

Rounding it out is a couple of Bill Nelson’s solo & other work: excellent. His Beauty & The Beast is worth tracking down. He released a new CD, After the Satellite Sings, in 2014 – every bit as good as the recent David Bowie. I also added some Yellow Magic Orchestra lps: electronica from Japan that is a delight to hear, at times a bit cheesy but without these guys there’d be no FatBoy Slim.

sample

Thought

The radio suddenly went dead. The overhead lights flickered and went off. A few seconds later the emergency power kicked in but that was only enough to keep vital monitoring machines going.

“What the fuck is going on?” Carl’s shouts echoed down the hallway. “Did I just die or what the fuck? I thought this was a … “

“Keep calm and quiet.” the nurse pushed the door to Carl’s room open. “We have enough to worry about without your shrieking.”

“Sorry to be such a bother but what am I supposed to do? It’s not as if I can just get up and get out of here.”

“Yes, well, if it came to that you’d have nothing to worry about.”

“Haven’t met you before, have I?”

“Janet Green. No you haven’t met me before I just got back from leave of absence. But I have heard all about you.”

“I’m sure you have.” Carl laughed. “Gotta keep you guys on your toes.”

She smoothed his bedding and headed out the door. “I have others to check on.”

“I’m sure you do Janet. But what the fuck is going on?”

“I don’t know. Got batteries for that radio?”

“Nope.”

“None in your vibrator?”

She let the door shut and went to the nurses station.

“So any word on what’s going on?”

Don held his hand over the receiver of the telephone. “It isn’t the end of world. Looks like a transformer blew. They should have us back on line with-in the hour.”

“Just what we needed.”

“Thought things had changed while you were gone?”

The emergency power flickered and plunged into black.

“Oh shit now what.”

“What the hell is going on here.”

“Yeah.”

Frightened complaints flowed out from the rooms on the floor.

“I gotta go down and see what’s happening.”

“You know about that sort of stuff?”

“Well, no, Janet but someone has to go down. The phones are still live anyway. You see if you can get someone. An electrician would be the best thing.”

“What about  the maintenance guy, Amos?”

“Try him at home. He might be able to help.”

Don was on his knees looking for a flashlight on a shelf under the nurses station when the lights flooded back on.

 

 

 

 

 

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ABC: The Lexicon of Love

 First on the pop shelf of my collection we have one of my favorites. ABC: The Lexicon of Love – the original with no extras i.e. endless remixes or demos. The open salvo of horns grabs me every time. This an album that simmer under the bombastic production work of Trevor Horn. I can remember hearing Poison arrow for the first time on the dance floor and was captured by that engineering work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Horn

emptyempty reception area

This was one of the first recordings that, for me, elevated disco (or dance music as it being called.) Martin Fry’s vocals were a compelling, if a bit ripe, mix of Brian Ferry, David Bowie with a dash of Spandau Ballet. Lounge glam blasé, it was mope music pitched to make me dance. http://www.abcmartinfry.com/ABC.html

chairempty corridor

I loved the videos – this was when video was killing the radio star (an earlier Trevor Horn hit). If I was watching Much Music I was eager for their over-the-top videos to show up. I always thought it ironic that music pitched to a queer dance audience had videos pitched to straight television viewer. My Lp quickly wore out.

viewempty view

The follow up, Beauty Stab, had moments but they never captured the slick seduction and emotional bombast of the first Lp. Very much a sound of its time it did bring me back to listening to modern pop.

samples

Lake Pinebow 5

my son my son

my darling son

what have you learned

what has nature shown you

has she given up her secrets

to lead you another step

further along the road to manhood

my son my son

what have you learnt

in the brave air of camp this summer

what have you learnt

father dear

mother dear

many things have been revealed

deeper than I can say

I have come close to the heart of fear

yet not stepped into it’s path

I have seen how nature tempts us

makes herself so pretty and inviting

only to snap your neck

with a flick of paw

or suddenly

hold your tender feet

with the sludge of the lake

to take you deep deep deep

where one can ever return

that is what I have learnt

of the many things

that is the one I hope I never forget

dear mother dear father

my son my son

that is a lesson

well worth the cost

it is one

that has let you move along

to the harsh reality of life

outside these woods

away from this lake

into the virgin territory of the future

we are pleased and honoured

you have survived once again

that you are now ready to face

what must be faced next

and what have you made

dear mother dear father

this is a wallet

folded of fine leather

and stitched by my very own hand

the faces on the front

embossed with all my might

honour my fallen comrades

one who ventured too close

Pinebow Lake late at night

and were whisked beyond our sight

never to be seen

never to be found

without a trace or a clue

I have honoured them with this memento

every time

I reach for money

I will think

of my dear fallen comrades

of the foolish chances they took

and be wary and cautions

as I spend my way into the future

dear son dear son

such a tale you tell

of those who have vanished

we are so grateful it was not you

touched that you chose to recall and remember

and take their deed

as a lesson for yourself

the wood has taught wisdom and prudence

and what else have you made

dear mother dear father

this is an ashtray

made of sausages

bound together with

the finest of maple syrup

fired deep

in the violent heat of the smoke shed

polished and perfect

for you dear father

to keep on your desk

as a reminder of what you have put me through

to make this small token for you

to remind you that this son

has risked life and limb

mind and body

to learn the lessons

to make him fit to follow

in your footsteps

into the dark promise of tomorrow

my son my son

I have no words to thank you

this is more than I expected

a treasure for me always

one no father could deny

one which all father’s will envy

but have you nothing for your mother

dear mother dear father

have no worry there

I have for her this mark

a brand of mother

that as I roll my sleeve you can see

it has been burned into my arm

seared and scorched

the skin smelt of death

for a day or two

but when the scab fell off

I was safe and proud

I have suffered for love

and here is the proof

dear mother

suffered to prove

what no one can prove

that I am ready to be

the man you dream me to be

ready to let go

of those things of the past

to go out of the play room

to leave the toy box behind

and wrestle with the grim patterns

of being an adult

plushiethe Denizen 

Return of The Creature From the Porn Lagoon

Took a NaNo breather to perform at the Queer Ontario  Fundraiser & Milestone Birthday Bash for Chairperson Nick Mulé. Not a total breather as I did manage to push my NaNo count to 51000. Sadly I couldn’t resist talking about NaNo to one of my fellow poets at the event. Sadder, I think, is the total lack of interest my fellow writers there took in my progress.

clothes

The Vic Public house was a good location for the event, though that second floor room was chilly. Great drinks and snacks helped warm things up, a bit.

Hosted by Alana Boltwood the birthday event included raffles, silent auction (one item was a dinner date with Nick – I was easily outbid), & a trailer for their upcoming documentary ‘Queer Edge.’ Plus some fine eye-candy made it a nice night out.

shoe

The spoken line up was a fine selection of Damned  performers. David Bateman started off with a Tampex recollection; DM Moore with her emotionally charged AIDS piece; a great non-spoken turn by drag star Serenity; then Philip Cairns with a bitter cold piece about the snow and David Bowie; followed by Vanessa McGowan’s heartfelt piece about her dad & one about being a lesbian. All rounded out by my brand of in-your-pants raunch that puts the sex back in homosexual.

skates

A fun night and it was great to be included in a queer event that wasn’t Pride 🙂 It often feels like I’m the token queer poet at many readings I get to, so it was good to be one amongst many.

writing sample
writing sample

Unfinished

whisps of chin hair

glasses a la skater punk nerd

he laughed about starbuck’s coffee

even tossed out a latin phrase

which wasn’t what I wanted

tripping from his tongue

a frisky feel in the dark corner of the bar

made it clear he was packing more

than his uber baggy jeans reveled

when we got back to his place

he dropped his pants to release

the creature from the porn lagoon

thicker than the accents

of an entire Brazilian water polo team

balls

emu eggs in the palms of my hands

skin

was cozy tattooed flannel

his tongue

a whispering clock

tasted of unripe apples

his teeth

warm endlessly round ice crystals

melted drooling draining

each step of the ten thousand to the temple

his nipples

express train rush pressure

immersion into the gutteral swamp of gasps

arm pits

salt seasoned

licorice tampura teasing

stomach muscle

dunes

sahara but not parched for long

as we shifted camel humps

burdened with a growing growling treasure

an oasis of pubic eden cillia

savory basil black fresh crushed rushed

the creature from the porn lagoon

an already oozing fountain

watermelon baby power

his trembling tip lip touch

tumble choices chances escaping grasps

pushing back for more torrent torment

his laugh now clinking unfinished

coffee cups of memory

crows over cornfield
crows over cornfield