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Issue #6


The MC Press

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WINTER BIKING

By Michael Cuthbertson - EDITOR-IN-CHIEF (Above: Icy road conditions and ignorant motorists are obstacles worth overcoming for winter biking punks) In much of Canada, winter biking is more of an extreme sport than a leisurely pursuit. This is especially true if you aren’t using studded winter-grade tires which is the case with myself. Cyclists and non-cyclists alike will chalk this, the wintertime use of nonstudded tires, up to foolhardiness but I have only had one legitimate wipe-out using them this winter, and that was more the result of impatient drivers. As an experienced cyclist, in both on and off-road settings, I have learnt that both the human body and the average bicycle is capable of traversing far rougher terrain than we give either of these vessels credit for. And while many people, including

myself, might lament the thought of heading out to bike on a day of piercing wind, blinding snowfall or skating-rink style road conditions, the interesting thing is how I have, so far, always made it to and from my destination in one piece commuting in these rather unfavourable conditions. “But why even bother braving the weather?� The proponents of car culture often ask me. Well, I hope to convince you below precisely why winter biking is both a rewarding and legitimate mode of transportation that deserves respect from all vehicles on the road. Initially I wanted to make my case by painting winter biking as some charming,


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paradigmatic example of Canadiana. This I thought would stir people’s hearts. But then I realized this romanticizes our nation’s citizenry as more rugged and environmentally responsible than we really are. Indeed what I have learned while biking on the streets in winter is that whizzing by a cyclist at a dangerously close distance in a gratuitously large truck is much more paradigmatic of the Canadian character than is winter cycling. Actually if I had to associate winter biking with any culture it would be that of the punks. I say this firstly because punks, as with other countercultural groups, tend to have an environmentally conscious, anticonsumerism ethos and thus opting to not pay for gas or bus tickets all winter jives well with the punk ethos. Less obviously, but equally important, winter biking is decidedly punk because it’s largely about living—and living well I might add—using only what seems to mass-society to be meagre possessions. Punks showed the world that great songs can be written with old strings and an out of tune guitar and so too can a suitable mode of winter transport be found in a bike, even a cheap one from a department store. Commuting this way simply takes a little more heart, conviction and energy than does riding in a car and I suppose this is why many people throw in the towel when it comes to winter biking. In my experience when people see that I am a

March 1 8, 201 3 winter cyclist, or I tell them this fact, I observe two common reactions: one is bewilderment (which I don’t mind), the other, which is typically demonstrated by motorists beside me on the road, is contempt and insecurity (this attitude however must be taken to task).

"Winter biking is decidedly punk because it’s largely about living—and living well I might add—using only what seems to masssociety to be meagre possessions."

Now when it comes to doing anything that goes against the grain of society I’m usually all too happy to turn peoples heads and receive criticism from the tyranny of the majority. It means I’m on the right track. One funny thing I’ve noticed about being an activist or revolutionary of any sort is that as your oppressors grow more fierce in their tyranny, so does your inspiration and dedication to follow your cause. Naturally everyone who cares about any cause of social or environmental justice will still tell you they would truly prefer that the world was better and that their oppressors would give up but at the same time it is the palpable presence of villainy that motivates activists to do good. Such is the case with winter biking.


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(Above: icy, snowy ruts are the normal biking conditions in a Saskatoon winter) I bike year-round for a lot of reasons. I like staying healthy and positive. I like witnessing nature and being in its midst. I like saving money and getting to hear highenergy music whilst performing a suitably high-energy activity. Perhaps most obviously I bike because I like discovering that I can get around my city just fine, and often better, without operating a vehicle fuelled by dirty energy (yes, I know dirty fuel-powered machines were used to create my bike but one can’t deny that bikes are still less damaging to the environment than are the SUVs and trucks that populate our roads). When I’m out biking in the winter, blasting down the street over patches of black ice, cutting a straight line along the narrow rut dug by car tires, using inertia to my favour and standing upright on my

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WINTER BIKING

(Below: Winter bikers often have to brace themselves in anticipation of icy patches that lay ahead.)

frame bracing my muscles and staying hyperfocused all just to avoid falling, I know all too well that what I’m doing is dangerous. I assume motorists know this fact as well. Yet day in and day out I have motorists—who to


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WINTER BIKING

be perfectly honest are usually middle-aged men driving raised-suspension trucks—roaring by me at the most unsafe moments, seemingly with ill-intent and as a way to passive-aggressively declare, “I have a truck! This road is only for people like me who can afford a vehicle operated by dirty fuel, so get out of my way!” Now, studded tires or not, crashing on a bike in the winter is always a very real prospect, and what these self-entitled drivers are doing seriously jeopardizes the lives of cyclists. The drivers may consider it a joke or harmless male posturing but it is, in reality, an act of criminal negligence that could result in manslaughter. Truly though these motorists and these moments are what give me a deep reservoir of motivation to continue biking through all weather conditions, especially through the rougher weather. Encounters with unthoughtful drivers remind me exactly what I never wish to become as a human being—although I don’t pretend these belligerent motorists spend their lives maliciously scheming, “How can I be more of an asshole today? Maybe if I see a kid on a bike I’ll speed narrowly past him in my car.” Rather I think those motorists who risk the lives of cyclists to assert their insecure, masculine identity, are simply people who have been worn down by the system, bitter from spending decades stuck in the

March 1 8, 201 3 thankless drudgery of their jobs, jobs that have in turn made them increasingly cynical about life and humanity. I also speculate that these motorists who hate cyclists being on “their roads” are also people who have long since lost the appreciation for all the free and wonderful things in life—like biking—which don’t represent “value” in our religiously capitalistic society. Subsequently it appears some people’s only remaining desire is that they be permitted to enjoy their consumer goodies, like raisedsuspension trucks, which they’ve worked admittedly hard for, in relative peace. People who bike on dangerous winter roads beside these motorists understandably upset such a peace and the prevailing norm in Canada that encourages the purchasing and use of large, motorized vehicles and marginalizes the use of bicycles.

"...these motorists who hate cyclists being on 'their roads' are also people who have long since lost the appreciation for all the free and wonderful things in life—like biking—which don’t represent 'value' in our religiously capitalistic society."


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I think that when SUV and truck drivers see people such as myself biking through the very worst winter road conditions this zaps all the sense of male conquest and ruggedness that they so desperately sought to acquire when they purchased their behemoth of a motor vehicle in the first place. After all, isn’t that why a person typically buys a heavy-duty vehicle for personal use: presuming they could commute through the especially big snowfalls and icy road conditions that people with more modest vehicles could not? Because if anybody buys these opulent vehicles for less fallacious reason (and I’m not including buying them for work-related use) then please tell me them. When I told my one friend, who is also interested in issues of environmental and social justice that I bike for all the aforementioned reasons he retorted that, “Yeah, but not everyone can bike through the winter.” My friend is right. I am a 23 year old who has been blessed with an ablebody and good health. I am also blessed with the rare privilege of not having to support a family which I’m sure would wear a person down and leave them with less energy for cycling across the icy city streets every day. But I still believe that ideally every person should do what they can within their abilities to protect the earth, which is our only home. I concede that environmental protection is not a priority to most Canadians (not that most people

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WINTER BIKING

wouldn’t like to feel as though they were protecting the earth). Yet as I bike along the winter streets, feeling fresh air in my lungs and a strong sense of rightness (call it smugness if you honestly believe that’s what it’s really about), I can’t help but think the average half-ton truck driver who cuts me off could do just a teeny bit more to care about others commuters on the road as well as this fragile planet upon which they have been granted life. Of course if you’re a punk or activist type who cycles their bike in the winter you ought to remember that you should do what you feel is right not because it’s popular or even because you think it will change the behavior of others. You ought to do it simply because you stand as an independent thinker who isn’t willing to submit to either physical intimidation (as is exemplified by the rude drivers who cut you off) or those more surreptitious forms of coercion (as in the fact that bike lanes, when they do exist, are rarely cleared of snow by the city while motor vehicle lanes usually are). There is an outstanding punk song, and philosophical treatise really, called “Hadron Collision,” by the Canadian punk band Propagandhi, that discusses the intense experience of winter biking in a way that only a winter cyclist could intimately appreciate. As one line states, “I might be trapped in a world going backwards, but nothing’s in vain, right now I’m happy just to clog up your lane” and really that’s the


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WINTER BIKING

attitude a punk needs to have when they take to the winter streets on their bicycle. Taking your bike to school or work in bad weather might not stop the proliferation of dirty-fuel industries in our nation (not with the tyrannical, staunchly anticonservationist Harper behind the helm). And when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions it does tend to look like our world is going backwards. But for those of us privileged enough to be physically able to cycle in the winter (which might be a lot more of us than we care to admit) the choice is ultimately ours to keep money out of the fuel companies hands and in our pockets. Riding the bus is also a

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much more positive alternative to joining the throngs of trucks carrying one passenger that I see spewing exhaust beside me on the road everyday. I understand winter cycling can be quite tiring. It also carries the threat of injury if you wipe out. It can even be disheartening when you see how inordinately more popular it is for people to sit and rot in their cages on wheels with heated leather seats warming their buttocks while you grind against the wind and snow hoping to set an example. But none of that should kill your spirit, not if you’re a true winter cycling punk. Rather I must side with Propagandhi in saying, “It’s the car that kills the punk.”

"I might be trapped in a world going backwards, but nothing's in vain, right now I'm happy just to clog up your lane."


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UNKNOWN FILMS

By Ben Turnbull - CONTRIBUTING WRITER

5. Berberian Sound Studio (dir: Gilderoy sent to work at an Italian film studio. His job is to help record the Peter Strickland, UK) The second film from British director Peter Strickland, Berberian Sound Studio is both an homage to the Italian giallo films of the 70s and 80s and a delightfully trippy slow-burn psychological thriller in its own right. Schlubby character actor Toby Jones (the guy that played Capote equally as well as Phillip Seymour Hoffman but didn’t receive a gold, phallic statue for it) plays an ultra-schlubby British Foley artist named

soundtrack dub for a squalid and sexually violent horror flick, “The Equestrian Vortex” (which easily jumps to the top of my “fake film titles” list). Glimpses of this film within a film are few and far between; instead the director relies on the macabre Foley effects (smashing watermelons, cracking celery) and Gilderoy’s squeamish reactions to establish a sinister atmosphere. The culture clash between Gilderoy’s uptight British


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UNKNOWN FILMS

sensibilities and his Italian co-workers penchant for depicting cheap, lurid violence gradually wears on his psyche, until the boundaries between the film world and the real world begin to blur. The film's

4. The Comedy (dir: Rick Alverson, USA)

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hallucinatory climax may prove unsatisfying to those who like their endings to make some sort of logical sense (losers), but for the rest of us (champion fighters) it will leave you pleasantly unsettled.

of Being A Shithead. It protects me on the surface while the inherent emptiness of irony slowly chips away at whatever Or, “How I Learned to Stop Caring and internal meaning I still carry within me. Lol, Embrace Aging Hipster Douchebaggery.” jk, you get the idea. This is why Rick Because I have black-rimmed glasses and Alverson’s magically unpleasant film, The wear a beard, I can make faux-provocative Comedy, appealed to me. statements like, “I’m really getting into the "People deal with the transformative cinema of Adam Shankman void in an abundance of these days” or, “If I actually put any effort ways and Swanson and into my art projects they’d fucking blow his band of disconnected your mind” and be rightly labelled a hipster, chuckle-fucks have found at least in the sense that I’m shrouding their temporary high: myself in a mist of irony. I traffic in irony. I relentlessly messing with am equipped with a +5 Irony Shield and people. " wear it into the constant self-imposed battle


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UNKNOWN FILMS

Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric fame) stars as Swanson, a thirty-something Williamsburg man-child who drifts through—and creates—a series of increasingly vexatious and uncomfortable social situations. He and his financially blessed white male friends play cruel, detached games with strangers, partly to get a rise out of others and partly because they struggle to find any fundamental meaning in their own lives. Swanson is on the cusp of inheriting a large sum of money from his ailing father, yet he remains coolly

indifferent; he understands that neither the loss of his father nor the gain of more money will change his existential crisis. People deal with the void in an abundance of ways and Swanson and his band of disconnected chuckle-fucks have found their temporary high: relentlessly messing with people. The film’s consistently bleak tone, real-world setting and Heidecker’s deadeyed performance make The Comedy a wholly original viewing experience. That’s my DVD/Blu-Ray box quote muthufuckas! Irony, out.

3. The Color Wheel (dir: Alex Ross Perry, USA)

budget and using non-professional actors, it deviates from the mumble norm with its highly stylized, acerbic, almost screwball dialogue and its black-and-white 16mm film cinematography. I’m classifying this and The Comedy as examples of Abrasive Cinema, a term that I made instantly more

This is not your average naturalistic, improvised, digitally-shot American mumblecore-fest. While it shares the stock mumble characteristics of having a low


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UNKNOWN FILMS

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valid by capitalizing it. These films work prof’s apartment. They get in some typical road trip hijinks and engage in constant, away at you. sibling banter. As new characters are "This film is worth your biting introduced, and JR and Colin are forced to time if you like your interact with them, it becomes apparent that independent films if they didn’t have each other they wouldn’t drizzled in icky sauce." have anyone at all. This point is driven Director Alex Ross Perry co-wrote the home hard with the film’s distressing script with Carlen Altman and both star in finale—a moment that some may deem ‘too the film as the brother and sister duo Colin far’ or ‘just plain stupid’, but one that I and JR. When JR, an aspiring news anchor, found disturbingly fitting. This film is worth is dumped by her college professor-cum- your time if you like your independent films boyfriend she enlists Colin to join her on a drizzled in icky sauce. road trip to collect her belongings from the

2. Oslo, August 31 st (dir: old recovering drug addict who is released from rehab for a day so that he can travel to Joachim Trier, Norway) There are so many crushingly beautiful moments in this movie. Like, at least six or seven, scouts honour. Anders (portrayed by Anders Danielsen Lie) is a thirty-four year

Oslo for a job interview. The film takes place over this day as Anders attends his interview, reconnects with old friends and generally wallows in the shame, guilt and depression of having ruined his life with


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drugs. As the day wears on, Anders languidly unwinds. This film receives a high bleakness rating, in some ways comparable to the work of Lars von Trier (a relative of this film’s director) though the glimmers of hope peppered throughout this movie save it from being too much of an exercise in angst. Example: there is an opening montage of Oslo from the point of view of an unseen passenger in a traveling car. We hear voiceovers of people’s memories of the city, profoundly intimate impressions of the place they call home. There is another moment in this film that might be my

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UNKNOWN FILMS

favourite film scene of the year. Anders is sitting by himself in a café. He is peoplewatching and listening in on other’s conversations. Every conversation he hears is about plans, family, friends—Stuff Happening In People’s Lives. This scene depicts the misery of alienation so clearly and cleverly that one can’t help but share in Ander’s isolation. It is one of the most sympathetic and saddening scenes I’ve seen in recent memory, but it is so beautifully realized that one can’t help but receive joy from it. Or, put more crassly, it gives you a cine-boner.

1 . It’s Such A Beautiful Day animator Don Hertzfeldt’s Oscar-nominated (dir: Don Hertzfeldt, USA) short film Rejected. It came out in 2000 and was an early Internet phenomenon (I think I I would wager that if you’re reading this first saw it downloaded off of WinMX). on the Internet, you’ve probably seen With enduring lines such as “My spoon is


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UNKNOWN FILMS

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Bill. We see Bill’s life in a series of anecdotes that are beautifully illustrated in multiple split-screen windows. While the character animation on its own is rather simple, it becomes eerily graceful when combined with the split-screen and incamera effects. The shorts follow Bill’s mundane life and gradual mental deterioration caused by an unnamed, possibly fatal disorder. It is heartbreaking and painfully sincere and all achieved with "Few films can switch goddamn stick figures. Few films can between bizarre, laugh switch between bizarre, laugh out loud out loud humour and humour and crushing, blunt honesty so crushing, blunt honesty effortlessly. Let me assure you: it’s not only so effortlessly." the best animated film of last year, but one It’s Such A Beautiful Day is his first of the best films of last year period. Massive feature film, comprised of three shorts that hyperbole review sum up: it’s the human center on a stick-figure protagonist named condition in animated form.

too big,” “I am a banana,” and “My anus is bleeding,” Rejected is a Certified (caps) Internet classic. What many of its fans may not know is that Hertzfeldt is a prolific animator who has released many other amazing shorts over the years. Hertzfeldt is a consummate auteur: he writes, animates and photographs all of his films by himself, controlling the entire creative process from the very beginning.


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60-Second reviews

MUSIC REVIEWS

demonstrates the duo’s outstanding songwriting abilities, most notably on the tracks “Wednesday Morning, 3AM,” “Bleecker Street” and “The Sound of Silence.”

Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album

Wednesday Morning, 3AM is a lesser known

gem from their impressive and well-known body of work as a folk duo. Having originally been released in 1964, the album is an early and outstanding example of the American folk music revival that would eventually become synonymous with the anti-establishment hippie culture of the Sixties. The gospel standards “You Can Tell the World” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” are performed with gorgeous harmonies and speedy folk-guitar strumming. Also, while this debut album was initially a commercial failure, it

In the early 1 970’s Uriah Heep found and controlled a certain niche in the rock world that bridged the unlikely gap between the socially-awkward progressiverock scene and the hormonally charged,


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MUSIC REVIEWS

hard-living rock ’n’ roll scene led by more overtly sexual acts such as Led Zeppelin. Of course, having not lived in the Seventies I am basing this analysis largely on the idiosyncratic tracks I've heard on the early Uriah Heep albums. Specifically The Magician’s Birthday features tracks that represent these two disparate rock scenes. The power-ballad “Sunrise” is a straightforward rocker, as is the party-anthem “Sweet Lorraine” and the catchy “Spider Woman.” All three could suitably be played at a sweet Seventies house party à la Almost Famous or Dazed and Confused. Contrarily, the closing track “The Magician’s Birthday,” which clocks in at 10:23, helps show the band’s ties to and musical aptitude for progressive rock. Wandering, sonically experimental and at times maddening, this track is if nothing else a very emblematic relic of the early-Seventies prog-rock spirit.

The Danks’ debut album Are You

Afraid of the Danks

came out in 2009 and

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remains one of my favourite power-pop and indie-rock albums of the 21st century. Granted I dislike any atmospheric, sleepy indie-rock (which is what most of the indierock genre sounds like to me) but this album truly abounds with electric, fist-pumping energy and a mastery of songwriting that never lets up. I can’t name standout songs because most of them are in their own way exemplars of pop-rock songwriting. And while The Strokes influence is very noticeable in the smooth Casablancasinspired vocals, and the precise, chugging rhythm guitar, the Danks possess a sound all their own. Their second album is coming out in April 2013 and I’m eager to see what happens. I hope the same thing does not happen on it that happened with Two Hours Traffic’s sleepy sophomore album Territory. As of now The Danks are not only better musicians, and more loyal torchbearers for old school rock than are their more popular east-coast counterparts Two Hours Traffic, they also seem to have an uncompromising vision for their band that will not pander to the trends of the time or to the overly sparse and wispy songwriting inclinations of the indie-rock world.


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SHORT STORIES

The Detour Guide One man's unlikely night out with a young, wayward tourist chick in ew Orleans

(Illustration by Nick Knudson)

By Kelly Dessaint CONTRIBUTING WRITER

- Checkpoint Charlie’s, but I hit the snooze

The alarm started buzzing at noon. I reached down and hit the snooze. Nine minutes later, it went off again. I reprogrammed the clock and buried my face in the pillow. At one, I considered getting out of bed. The night before I’d made big plans about getting up early and dragging my dirty clothes down the street to

three more times. Around one-thirty, I sat up and drank from a half-empty can of stale Pepsi. I looked around bleary-eyed at the squalor of my room, the pile of clothes, the fast food wrappers and empty beer cans. It was still too early to face the day. At two, I groaned and cursed the sunlight creeping through the torn curtains. Since I didn’t have to be at the cart until three, I held out and snoozed to two-thirty, at which point I


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SHORT STORIES

could no longer avoid the inevitable. I got up and put on the clothes I’d taken off the night before. No time for a shower, I brushed my teeth and ran out the door. At the Circle K on Esplanade, I bought a tall boy to even me out. Walking in the shade of the neutral ground, I killed the beer and tossed the empty onto the grass. I was staring at my shoes, wondering whether the sticky spots on the tips were from spilled beer or piss, when I stumbled into a gutterpunk encampment. A girl leapt out of the pack and held two fingers to her lips. “Hey, brother. You got a smoke for me?” “All I got are rollies.” I held out of my pack of Bali-Shag as proof. “Oh, but I don’t know how to roll,” she said coyly. “Can you do it for me?” “Sorry. I’m already late for work.” “Aw, c’mon. Please?” She flashed me a side-swiped grin and began to sway her hips, snapping her fingers at me in some kind of Voodoo dance. “I can’t ask for much,” she sang. “But if you would please, Oh! Gimme a touch…” Her flirtatious performance made me laugh. Even though I was sure to be later than I already was, I copped a squat and poured some tobacco into a rolling paper. Within seconds, another girl sidled up. She was slightly older, her blonde hair matted into Medusa-like dreads. Her shirt was cut open along the side, revealing the swell of her bra-less tits. “I can roll my own,” she said.

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I handed her the sack and tried to sneak a peek as she leaned forward to make the cigarette. Soon, the scent of fresh tobacco wafted in the air and the other gutterpunks huddled around, reaching freely into the sack and passing the papers. Once they were outfitted with cigs, the girls hugged me and I took off, late as all hell. But I didn’t mind the distraction. I’d always found the gutterpunks fascinating. They’d figured something out that eluded me. I was drawn to their FUCK YOU attitudes and their anti-fashion statements. I admired their blue hair, their purple mohawks, their leather boots and jackets, their ripped up jeans and t-shirts held together with safety pins. I envied their ability to sleep in abandoned cars and houses or in the grass on the levee where the rats were the size of small dogs. These kids had it made. They weren’t shackled to the dead-end, nine-to-five grind like the rest of us saps. And when they got bored with a place, they just split the scene. They didn’t even need money to travel. All they had to do was hit the Circuit.


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18

BLACKERRY Z10

The new phone might not save the company but it sure throws Blackberry back into the limelight

By Joel Hill - GRAPHIC AND WEB DESIGNER I’m a bit of a geek. I play videogames, I internet, dabble in programming, and new tech toys get me just a little too excited for my own good. When RIM revealed that they were reinventing their flagship handset, I had a hard time containing myself. I vividly remember the last time I was

genuinely excited by a BlackBerry device. A co-worker came into the office with the newest model of RIM’s flagship handset and we oooed and awwed over the then crystal clear display and the buttery smooth speed at which he could pull up texts and email. By the standards of that day, BlackBerry was still pretty cool. It’s only been about 4 years since then but in recent months when I saw a BlackBerry in the wild I would feel just a little too judgmental about the person equipped with such an antiquated piece of Canadian history. Can you blame me though? Just look at what the company has done to keep up with the insane pace of smartphone innovation over the last half decade: Nothing. They flirted with a touch screen user interface, but it felt tacked on to the same basic BlackBerry OS layout they had been playing with for years. As the world became enamored with apps and mobile games, BlackBerry managed to watch that ship sail as they continued to perfect track pad technology. It’s not that they were making terrible phones. I mean, they did function really well (for the most part, there were


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BLACKBERRY Z1 0

some duds) they just didn’t capture my imagination like they used to. I’m not alone on this either. A lot of people still love their BlackBerrys but lately the conversation has shifted from an exciting just-married kind of love to a kind of love that ends with putting a sick pet down.

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the touchscreen keyboard any good? Is it going to get fucking Instagram so I can take photos of my peanut butter and banana sandwich as I quietly sob alone in a dark room? The honest truth is that I have no idea, and anyone that tells you they do is lying. The computer world is a volatile place where "A lot of people still love fortunes change hands overnight. What I do know is that I bought the phone, I’ve had it their BlackBerrys but lately the conversation for about a month, and I love it. I’m not going back to my Android any time soon has shifted from an exciting just-married kind even though it is missing some key apps that of love to a kind of love may or may not make it over to the that ends with putting a operating system. More importantly though, I’m excited for the future of BlackBerry. sick pet down." Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, or an So why did I grow a big soft one when I 82 Pontiac Phoenix being pulled out of the heard that the company was restructuring garage, I feel like BlackBerry is ready to and gearing up for another piece of the light up the night sky. smartphone pie? Because regardless of the "Like a phoenix rising resulting product, I had a pretty good feeling from the ashes, or an 82 that whatever happened next was going to Pontiac Phoenix being be a spectacle to behold, and that I should pulled out of the garage, be taking notes. Like when someone goes I feel like BlackBerry is all-in in poker, or fakes a heart attack to get ready to light up the out of thanksgiving dinner. night sky." Fast forward to March 2013 and Maybe I’m crazy though. A technology BlackBerry has released their new phone, and everyone is pulling their hair out trying company being brought back from near to figure out whether or not the company extinction by a brilliant CEO, only to take pulled out of their nose dive just in time. Is over the smartphone world? Pfft. The fever it too late for the company that was once on dream of a madman. top and then lost it all? Is it a nice phone? Is


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ORGANIC FARMING

(WWOOFing at a vineyard in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Photos by Vanessa Corkal) By Vanessa Corkal - Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Somehow the topic of farms came up and Nicole CONTRIBUTING WRITER expressed some sort of desire to live on a A few years ago I become enamoured farm with a goat. Perhaps I should backtrack a little and with the idea of goat cheese. Not goat widen the lens so you can see just why I was cheese the product so much as goat cheese the process: the keeping of goats, the so fervent about making goat cheese. I am milking of goats, the transformation of an ex-film student (and current film goat's milk into delicious edibles and the aficionado) who has a penchant for the process of doing all these things on an outdoors and is trying to give a damn about the environment and the world at large. idyllic rural property. This may have been inspired in part by a When I was studying film I thought it would horridly cheesy (forgive the pun) pre-Oscars be neat to make documentaries that in some Oprah Winfrey interview sometime in the way opened people's minds and encouraged late 2000s with Australian actors Russell a bit of positive change. Maybe that's still in


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ORGANIC FARMING

the cards for a future career but for now I am still going through my “quarter-life crisis.” After spending two fantastic years working in arts and culture up in the Yukon, I recently booked it to New Zealand with the somewhat questionable goal of figuring out my future. And so I began a quest for goat cheese and other organic delights. My tactic: WWOOF my way around New Zealand in search of inspiring people and places…and cheese. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Willing Workers on Organic Farms is an international scheme that has existed since the 1970s. Volunteers work for room and board and, ideally, the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge about organics. Hosts in return receive help on

March 1 8, 201 3 their property and the world at their doorstep.

"And so I began a quest for goat cheese and other organic delights. My tactic: WWOOF my way around New Zealand in search of inspiring people and places…and cheese." I had wanted to WWOOF for a few years and originally thought I would do it in Canada. Then I put two and two together and decided to do it for a couple months in New Zealand since the country has a fairly prevalent organic mindset. It seemed like a good way to meet locals and get off the

(Above: WWOOFing at a micro-brewery that produces craft beer)


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beaten path in a highly touristed country, as well as make sustainable living and learning a priority. I was partly inspired to pursue such a lifestyle by an ongoing conversation I've been having with myself and others that asks, “In a modern world where travel and tourism is more accessible than ever, what defines an authentic travel experience? Furthermore how does one make a positive impact in the place they are visiting and allow that place to enrich oneself as well?�

"I see so many travellers racing through for a day or two, checking off their must-lists...sometimes it seems to reduce travel to a purely economic exchange."

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industry but it also has great potential to encourage understanding and teach ourselves and others about living mindfully. The day I flew to Auckland, a good friend sent me a quote by Giorgio Morandi, that read, "One can travel the world and see nothing. To achieve understanding it is necessary not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see." Keeping these thoughts on modern tourism in mind, I now offer you my three verdicts on whether or not WWOOFing in New Zealand is a successful alternative for those seeking a more grassroots travel experience. 1. It's super-saturated. There are thousands of WWOOFers in New Zealand, too many for the number of hosts. It's hard to find a placement and you have to schedule far in advance which sure takes the spontaneity out of travel. You're competing with many others for the same placements. It's like applying for a job—you have to be

In every country I have visited, I see so many travelers racing through for a day or two, checking off their must-lists as they go and barely engaging with the local community. Once on the train from Cologne to Paris I overheard an affable businessman joke about backpackers "trying to see 25 capitals in 10 days." I'm usually inclined to say "to each his own" since every experience is a valid one and I've certainly done this myself, but I seriously question whether this approach to travelling does anything for genuine cultural learning. Sometimes it seems to reduce travel to a purely economic exchange and a goodie bag (Above: Olives from a certified organic of been-there, done-thats. Tourism is a huge olive grove)


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March 1 8, 201 3

(There are magical moments to be found throughout New Zealand) persistent, have an impressive profile and prove your merits, but sometimes it boils down to luck 2. It's unfocused. There's a huge number of hosts who aren't focused on organics or who don't have fair work-exchanges. In New Zealand everything from hostels to yoga retreats to restaurants are using the term WWOOFing for any sort of workexchange. It's perhaps a well-intentioned misnomer, but it really ruins it for people genuinely interested in organics. On the flipside some WWOOFers just seem to be looking for cheap ways to get around and aren't even interested in organics or the environment. I've seen firsthand the impact on hosts by WWOOFers who don't show up or cancel and change their plans at the last minute. Evidently they don't understand that

this can really negatively affect hosts who rely on the help.

"In New Zealand everything from hostels to yoga retreats to restaurants are using the term WWOOFing...It's perhaps a wellintentioned misnomer, but it really ruins it for people genuinely interested in organics."

(Sidenote: so far the formal WWOOF New Zealand organization hasn't taken any huge steps to remedy these problems—which have presumably worsened in the past few years—and historically it's been a “self-policing”


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organization. I won't get into the politics here—these are just my thoughts as an independent traveler.) 3. It's still worthwhile. Yes, I've been through my fair share of disillusionment. I've had hosts where I've learned basically nothing and done housework instead of gardening and I've battled rejection when no one's responded to my eager emails. It took me a couple months to learn the rules of the game but I know them now and I'm working them to my advantage. I've been WWOOFing for five months now and have been to eight different properties ranging from lifestyle blocks to commercial operations such as sheep farms, vineyards and a microbrewery. I've met fantastic people, seen beautiful places and learnt heaps.

(Think global, act local)

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Every so often I have the sort of magical moment that reminds me why I'm traveling this way in the first place and it makes it all worthwhile. How else could you see a group of schoolchildren perform a traditional haka at a community garden, make friends with the stallholders at the Wellington farmers' market, laze away the afternoon at target practice on a Maori farm, swim with dolphins at the local beach or meet an MP at a Green Party potluck? These are aspects of the country that I'd never get to see otherwise. “But what about the cheese?” You ask. Well, I haven't stayed on a goat farm (not for lack of trying) and the quest for cheese is an ongoing one—I mean, can you really ever have enough cheese? But I have milked goats and a cow named Daisy, and made


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mozzarella, halloumi, and brie. I've experienced cheesemaking with three separate hosts, one of whom recently won some awards in the hobbyist category at the national cheese awards. My experiences so far in New Zealand can be defined by a simple phrase: think global, act local. It's a big world out there and it's full of problems. It's hard not to get weighed down with pessimism when you look at the political, social and environmental turmoil

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happening on our planet. But positive change starts with you and the way you live. Travel is an adventure and the best adventures are those that inspire you to become a better person. I've certainly been inspired by how hard some of my hosts are trying to live sustainably and do a bit of good in the world. I can only hope I can follow in their footsteps in my own way someday.

Gabbin' with Gavin White The MC Press is sorry to say that Gavin White will be leaving our publication to pursue a DJing career, establish himself as a vegan chocolatier and start a non-profit, community owned and operated library (which will deliver books to people’s front doors via rollerblades and fixie bicycles). Gavin will be doing all of this in Montreal, but before he leaves, The MC Press decided to pick his brain one last time to see what this inspirational man can teach us about life, love and how to be a humanitarian who is still uber fashionable and accepted by the most avant-garde trendsetters.

MC Press: “So Gavin, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?” Gavin: “You have to be sincere. People can spot phoniness. When I’m on stage I like to

have a sort of forlorn expression painted on my face all night. That way people can see I’m sad, which in turn shows I’m emotionally vulnerable and honest, which subsequently shows how much of a delicate genius I am.” MC Press: “You like to dip your beak into everything: visual arts, cooking, environmentalism. Do you ever worry this will make you the ‘jack of all trades, master (CONT'D ON THE BACK PAGE)


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FACESTALKING

(Facestalking: one of those things everybody does but few people are open about) By Michael Cuthbertson - emails. A decade ago people still favoured landline phones, kept non-digital photo EDITOR-IN-CHIEF albums and didn’t collect “friends” who In 2013, the world as it was ten years ago they had never actually conversed with. In the decade that followed, social life looks strangely foreign. Back then the masses still had yet to hear about Facebook. quickly came to occupy a remarkably large In fact, even for a fairly computer savvy kid space in the digital world. Today people will like myself, the Internet was at that time still essentially hang out on Facebook and even primarily a place to steal music and check have heart to heart conversations via private


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messaging. But perhaps the most unusual and mildly dystopian quirk that resulted from everybody plugging themselves into Facebook is the extent to which individuals can, in the digital world, now follow other people who they almost never see face-toface. The umbrella term “facestalking” gets thrown around to describe various forms of this phenomena but it remains tough to say what constitutes facestalking and whether or not, as the name suggests, it is a harmful, creepy and pathetic behavior. According to Urban Dictionary—which I find to be a surprisingly reliable linguistic institution—to facestalk is “to look at pictures, read profile information, and/or repeatedly check the status of an individual on Facebook. This person can range from a good friend to someone who you have never actually met.” Presumably most Facebook users have done such things at some point in their life, although it is tough to quantify the prevalence of facestalking because people are particularly embarrassed and secretive about this behavior. I’ve even noticed people sound a little bashful when they simply say to me in person things like, “Oh yeah I noticed you posted something about that on Facebook,” as though somehow my posts were not intended to be read by them. From what I’ve seen facestalking is, at best, about as socially acceptable as masturbation. That is, everybody may do it but people don’t usually mention it in public

March 1 8, 201 3 unless they are drinking or speaking with old friends whom they can be candid with. And like masturbation, as commonplace as the activity may be, facestalking can leave a person feeling a little cheap and disillusioned about their abilities to connect with people in ways that involve both individuals directly, and consensually, communicating with each other. Perhaps this is what invites the comparison between facestalking and conventional stalking, because facestalking necessarily entails looking at someone’s information without their expressed approval (especially if you’re attempting to creep on photos and a person’s about section when they don’t even have you friended.)

"Perhaps this is what invites the comparison between facestalking and conventional stalking, because facestalking necessarily entails looking at someone’s information without their expressed approval." Now I’ll be frank and tell you my personal experience with facestalking, which has taken on two primary forms: one is keeping tabs on ex-girlfriends, the other is checking the profiles of girls I find attractive but barely know outside the world of Facebook.


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Typically this behavior only lasts for a minute or two, or until my self-loathing and deflated sense of self-esteem reaches some sort of critical mass, whichever limit I hit first. Recently I have come to regard facestalking—like much other, more socially acceptable, Facebook use—as little more than an irresistible and ephemerally gratifying time waster. Facestalking is pretty obviously not enhancing one’s social skills, or really helping one grow as a person at all. But it’s also not harming anyone besides oneself (unless you argue that merely lusting for, or objectifying, others in the privacy of your home is in some abstract sense harming them). Even if you don’t think facestalking “harms” anyone the question seems to remain as to whether or not there is something inherently wrong about facestalking. It seems tough to condemn the act for two main reasons. Firstly, behavior in the digital-world is not usually all that analogous to the physical world counterparts of those digital behaviours. For example, a person ogling pictures that a girl posted on Facebook of herself sitting in her bedroom can hardly be considered as heinous as a person sitting in a tree with binoculars, peeping into that girl’s bedroom window. But even so, when I facestalk I usually wonder what the girl would think about me doing it and I usually decide she

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would, if nothing else, think I was a little bit lame for doing it. Women I’m told like assertive men and Facestalking is totally not assertive.

"A person ogling pictures that a girl posted on Facebook of herself sitting in her bedroom can hardly be considered as heinous as a person sitting in a tree with binoculars, peeping into that girl’s bedroom window."

The second justification for facestalking is that, unlike regular stalking, the Facebook version is more an act of information gathering that it is an indictable invasion of privacy. If I look at a girl’s photos, see what music shows she will be attending and peruse her wall to see who her group of friends are, my intent is not to invade any part of her personal life that I think she would not want me to set foot into (which would be a very clear-cut example of stalking). Rather I am making use of the information she has made available to the public on Facebook with the hope that I can use that information to get to know more about her and possibly find an opportunity to connect with her in real-life. And really, whether people want to admit it or not, Facebook has survived and


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flourished largely because of the narcissistic tendencies amongst it’s millions of users—users who, in posting photos and info about themselves, might deliberately have set out to attract the attention of Facebook “friends” who barely know them outside of Facebook. And even though people rightfully complain about Facebook’s confusing and flimsy privacy settings, it seems fair to say that in general the idea behind posting anything on Facebook is that you want the general public to see it. If not, people would still bring a few close friends over to their house to look at photos from their vacation, but behaviour like this has long since gone out of style and people now post photos of every mundane event in their life for the whole digital world to see.

"Even though people rightfully complain about Facebook's flimsy and confusing privacy settings it seems fair to say that in general the idea behind posting anything on Faceboook is that you want the general public to see it."

All in all, dabbling in facestalking seems relatively harmless, but it sure isn’t the kind of thing a person will pride themselves in doing. As long as a person doesn’t use

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facestalking someone as a substitute for trying to communicate with that person in some consensual, two-sided way, (even if that just means email or texting) then it seems to be no worse than sitting in a bar or coffee shop and stealing glances at someone whom you don’t know but still find interesting. And yet facestalking is something I will try to avoid in the future because my track record with it has shown the whole activity to be a rather fruitless endeavour. I will even go out on a limb and say that reading the profiles of one’s exes’ has never once reduced jealousy or longing for that person or helped to mend the relationship between a person and their ex. Likewise I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who said they entered into any kind of serious and close relationship with a person by first friending them on Facebook, then stalking their profile and eventually using this information to meet up with them in real-life. DePRESSed? Want to imPRESS your friends? Can't suPRESS your writing instinct any longer? email your writing to The MC Press at editor@michaelcuthbertson.ca. If we like it we'll publish it. Submissions should be between 600 and 1500 words.


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BOOK REVIEW

ew literary work a daring exploration ofsexuality and aesthetic value Michael Cuthbertson - EDITOR- obscured aspects of their character that I was highly curious to see unveiled. IN-CHIEF After much anticipation among die-hard fans and a media circus culminating in their 2012 Fashion Show, the Victoria’s Secret spring catalog, entitled, Hello Spring. Hello Sexy!, has finally been released, much to the satisfaction of literary enthusiasts everywhere. Seldom does one find a single publication that contains so many awe striking female protagonists, nor does one almost ever find reading material that is so utterly addictive. Truly my eyes were glued to one single page of this monumental work for a solid fifteen minutes. Now that’s not something I can even say about the finest works of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare. The catalog reaches perhaps its most thrilling climax in its latter-half with a progressively-minded think piece about coverage bras. Honestly, if I had to say one bad thing about this part it is simply that the depiction of the female protagonists somehow left me yearning for a far more intimate look at the women behind the coverage bras. For I felt the coverage bras

(Above: A work of stunning beauty) As one minor grievance I found the excursus on monogram loafers to be superfluous, as readers of this legendary publication do not peruse its pages to learn about foot apparel but rather to study the complex relationship between sexy lingerie and the enigmatic women who don such seductive delicates. The main unravelling of Hello Spring, Hello Sexy!, which was an otherwise deeply stimulating and viscerally arousing work, is


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the slow pace at which the story began. Not underappreciated role that ladies until page 78 does the reader get any sort of undergarments play in our hectic, modern proper introduction to the undergarments world. which, at the end of the day, is really what "To be sure, the writing this courageous exploration of sexuality and staff [of 'Hello Spring, aesthetics is all about. Hello Sexy!'] have their

"The main unravelling of 'Hello Spring, Hello Sexy!', which was an otherwise deeply stimulating and viscerally arousing work, is the slow pace at which the story began. Not until page 78 does the reader get any sort of proper introduction to the undergarments which, at the end of the day, is really what this courageous exploration of sexuality and aesthetics is all about."

To be sure, the writing staff have their moments of profound brevity and wit, as when they title a page featuring sexy teeshirts “Sexy To A Tee.” Furthermore no other literary work made me get down on my knees and thank God for the immense blessing that is the female body quite to the degree that this publication did. Indeed, Hello Spring, Hello Sexy! has completely changed the way I view not only how literature explores the female character but also the vitally supportive and

moments of profound brevity and wit, as when they title a page featuring sexy tee-shirts 'Sexy To A Tee.'"

So full of questions was I concerning this literary achievement that I tried fiercely for weeks to set up a personal interview with any number of the charming women Victoria’s Secret featured in it’s most recent catalog. Unfortunately publicists from the company as well as the personal attorneys of many of the girls demanded the I cease and desist lest “drastic legal measures” would need to be taken against me. Thus, I will end by saying it is difficult to overstate how uniquely talented the people at Victoria’s Secret have shown themselves to be lately, not only as authoritative analysts on mores of female beauty but also as a mighty literary institution capable of bringing together some of the finest female talents that one has the privilege of eyeing in modern literature.


"Yeah, the family and me wanted to get out to the big city this weekend so we're going to Moose Jaw. I hear they even got a Wal-Mart out there now. What's more, we're even talkin about seeing a Riders game this summer. Go Riders Go!"

(CONT'D FROM PAGE 23)

Hoser of the Week

- Walter Siemens (grain farmer, life-long Saskatchewan resident and Ford patron)

of none?’” Gavin: “Maybe that’s a problem for some people. But all those things come naturally to me. I can’t really describe my craft because it just feels so organic and earthy when I’m engrossed in all those activities. So no, I actually consider myself more like a master of all the trades I specialize in.” MC Press: “Hmm, interesting. It seems in the last few year the word ‘hipster’ has reached it’s apex in the broader social consciousness, and is thusly bound to wane in popularity as the term gets consistently

more diluted and over-applied. I’m curious to know what, if anything, you think makes someone a hipster and whether you ever consider yourself one?” Gavin: “I don’t really understand the term because I’m not influenced by those sorts of people. I just do my own thing, you know? I listen to a unique mix of hyper-modern and overtly-dated sounding bands. I wear idiosyncratic clothes and hairstyles that I noticed other idiosyncratic people wearing in Exclaim!. I’ll always stick to doing my own thing, and if other people jump on the bandwagon of what I started long ago well, I guess I’m flattered. MC Press: “Gavin, it’s been a pleasure.” Gavin: “Yeah, it was alright I guess.”


The MC Press Issue 06