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The Large Man
Stuck on a 1 3-hour bus ride with a very unusual man.
I get on the Greyhound in Saskatoon and a very overweight man sits right in front of me. He has the sort of obesity that doesn’t stand out in his gut or rear-end or any other body part but instead fills his entire form, like a well-inflated balloon. In the man’s chubby hand is a piece of brown paper towel soaked with sweat. With it he wipes more sweat off his forehead and dabs sweat running down his beefy neck. His breathing is laboured and his skin looks
unhealthy. It’s tan coloured and yet pale and clammy. I listen to my iPod as the bus rolls out of town. The large man hasn’t brought any entertainment for the bus ride. What’s with people like him? He’s on an all-day bus ride and he plans on napping or staring out the window the entire time? The bus starts passing the sad, sleepy little towns of Saskatchewan — places like CONT'D PAGE 2
Staying Friends With an Ex (page 5) • Album review: Propagandhi's Failed States (page 7) • "You Don't Even Know" with Gavin White (page 1 0) • Music Flashbacks (page 6) • Baseball for Hosers (page 3)
Prince Albert and North Battleford which have no big-city liveliness but do however have the gross, industrial look typical of North American cities. And as we pass these crummy little towns I discover the large man has the most annoying idiosyncrasy. Every time our bus passes a large chain store, the man says the store name out loud. “Winners…McDonald's…The Adidas Store,” he says to himself, still loud enough for me to hear him. I furrow my brow in confusion, turn down my iPod and listen with a morbid curiosity. His voice doesn’t sound like it belongs to someone losing their mind. And yet, every time a chain store passes he announces it with a quiet awe — like he had stumbled upon water in the desert. “Ooh, oh it’s a… a
2 BUS RIDES
KFC,” or, “Is that…oh yes that is a Home Depot.” It sounds like the man is keeping a tally of every chain store we pass. Like this was a sacred duty he was endowed with by the powers that be — to sit on this sweaty, Issue #1 stinking Greyhound and keep track of how many Staples and Best Buys exist across Canada. Somehow that’s the most reasonable explanation I can imagine, because like I say, the large man doesn’t look or act crazy besides this one little thing. He doesn’t lean over to me and say something like, “Do you know flesh is made mostly of sand and water?”. (A person on a bus once told me this.) Eventually I stop paying attention to the large man, and tune solely into the prairie scenes that zoom by my window in a blur of yellow and blue. My forehead rests against the bus window and my head gently rattles against it as I listen groggily to my iPod. We stop for five minutes in a hick town and all the smokers get off the bus. He stares out the window at them contemptuously. “Pssh!” He says to the young mother in front of him. “Smoking…disgusting and filthy habit. Glad I quit,” he proudly boasts. I look again at his skin with its alien colour and I watch as he wipes more sweat from his forehead with his wet, flimsy paper towel. Finally I get off the bus in Jasper and CONT'D PAGE 3
3 BASEBALL AND CANADA September 24, 201 2 FROM PAGE 2 excited by big-box malls — they are
watch the man and the bus fade down the road. I still feel perplexed by his storecounting tick. As I wait for a cab beneath the secretive midnight mountains I decide that the large man was, in fact, not crazy. Nor was he hired by the government to “keep track of stores.” In reality I think this man, who chose not to bring a book or music on the bus, is someone genuinely
playgrounds for people like him, for they offer him endless opportunities to consume and feel, for the briefest of moments, satisfied. Yes, I think the stores just excited him is all. More so than the sound of music or the power of words could ever excite him. And somehow, I find this far more tragic than if the large man truly was crazy — in the more traditional sense of the word.
It's time Canadians got into baseball
Just in time for the NHL lockout: reasons to start watching baseball
When baseball is mentioned to the average Canadian you inevitably hear the complaint, “There’s too much standing around in baseball.” Some hosers see it as being too much like chess in terms of pace and not enough like hockey in terms of pain. At times watching baseball does mean studying a motionless field to find drama. You can’t simply wait for players to be assaulted before you cheer and get excited. At the same time baseball is far more dangerous than it lets on. Just a few weeks ago Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthey was in critical condition after experiencing an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture from a ball to the The Rogers Centre: the backdrop to much joy and frustration for Jays fans. (photo by Murray Cuthbertson) head. CONT'D PAGE 4
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But to me the real appeal of baseball is its purity. All you need to play is an empty field and some very cheap equipment. And with the exception of introducing video replay, Major League Baseball has not instituted a single rule change since 1908. I dare say baseball is far more deserving of the “beautiful game” moniker than is the divingfilled, crybaby sport we call soccer. To reach the world-class ranks in most sports you have to be born a freak of nature. Michael Phelps for example is doublejointed and has size-14 feet that act like flippers. Similarly, Usain Bolt stands above his competition at a remarkable height of 6 foot 5. Bolt’s bigger height then translates into longer stride-length which ultimately translates into gold medals.
I dare say baseball is far more deserving of the 'beautiful game' moniker than is the diving-filled, crybaby sport we call soccer.
Baseball does not work this way. Success in the majors is not a birth right, nor does it require fine-tuning your physique to some narrow ideal. One of the premiere pitchers in baseball today, CC Sabathia, weighs 290lbs while the equally talented pitcher Tim Lincencum weighs about 180lbs. Both men do however have sharp reflexes and wits which is all you really need in baseball. Football O-liners, on the contrary, will get cut from NFL team rosters simply because
4 BASEBALL AND CANADA
they come to training camp weighing 250lbs which somehow is considered too skinny to compete. But more inspiring than baseball’s diversity in girth is the wide ethnic diversity found in the majors. It’s no secret that a lot of NHL players are white. And everyone in the world of basketball probably acknowledges a kernel of truth in the old saying that “white men can’t jump.” Major League Baseball on the other hand does not seem catered to certain ethnic backgrounds. The league’s very diverse athletes simply have in common the trait of exceptional hand-eye coordination. As proof of baseball’s universality, every country that ever adopted baseball went on to produce serious contenders in the game. Consider the Dominican Republic and Japan. To my knowledge these two countries have almost nothing in common. Yet both nations have a rich history of playing baseball and have subsequently produced heaps of majorleaguers. Unfortunately most Canadians will never grow up near a major league ballpark. As a result many young Canadians develop a love for hockey almost by default. We Canadians in an effort to assert our un-American-ness will often adopt an interest simply because it’s emblematically Canadian. We know Texas can’t go skating outdoors so we put this image on our five dollar bill and decide we’re more suited to hockey than baseball. But I realized this summer that baseball is CONT'D PAGE 5
5 BASEBALL AND CANADA FROM PAGE 4
September 24, 201 2
the smarter Americans will even concede very Canadian. On many hot summer days that we invented basketball. But baseball is something our sworn enemies to the south my brothers and I would find an empty are convinced we deserve no respect in. The diamond and go play three-man baseball: rotating the positions of pitcher, catcher and Jays remain our sole MLB team and every time we win a game it feels as though fielder. Our games, like all traditional baseball games, involved playing outdoors Canada has in some small way humbled, even shamed, the United States. and dealing with the elements which is a Presumably if enough Canadians start decidedly Canadian endeavour. And ultimately nothing is more patriotic supporting baseball, we may one day school for Canadian sports fans than cheering on the States at their own game. And as a sports the Blue Jays. America admits that we have fan, but moreso as a Canadian, I can imagine well-decorated hockey teams and a few of nothing sweeter.
"Can we still be friends?"
Why it's hard to remain friends with an ex
Iâ€™ve only spent about two years of my life in romantic relationships. Still I speak with some authority on how to fail at romance. I have a rather deep pool of ex-girlfriends from which I draw much wisdom on how not to pursue women. But one insight that eludes me is how to communicate with girls after weâ€™ve broken up. Sometimes I doubt the whole Jerry and Elaine relationship in Seinfeld is even possible. With that example we see two people who used to sleep together eventually forming a platonic friendship. What I find hardest to believe with Seinfeld is how neither Jerry nor Elaine feel any sexual tension or jealously when talking to each other about their new lovers. CONT'D PAGE 8
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"You can take the HL out ofCanada but you can't take the hockey out ofa Canadian, Eh?" - Gord McCormick
The Simpsons Dictionary Car-hole: a layman's
term for garage. Cromulent: Valid or acceptable. Jebeditis: A condition resulting from enthusiasm for Jebediah Springfield. Knowitallism: The state of being a know-it-all. Megacide: The murder of a giant. Unblowuppable: The state or condition of being unable to be blown up.
The MC Press
6 SIXTIES MUSIC
change the world like people in the late Sixties had prophesied. Fortunately these drugs spawned something better than world-peace: psychedelic-rock. And while hipster bands today will claim they play psych-rock, or "neo-psychedelia", a flashback to the genre's origins reveal how idiosyncratic this discontinued genre from the Sixties truly was. are peerless. They offer a gritty, overdriven style of psych-rock that still sounds dangerous today (so it must have sounded outrageous back in 1968.) And while Syd Barrett made his descent into madness sound cooky and amusing, the Pretties' made theirs sound badass. Their trademark sound came partly from early analog fuzz-pedals. Today fuzz pedals are often just a substitute for distortion. But through the fuzz's sustained noise, the Psychedelic effect: a time-bending journey to the center of the mind, where sound becomes the only truth.
Pretties' made their guitars sing and scream. The band's magnum opus S. F. Sorrow remains an indescribable masterpiece of meticulous studio wizardry and songwriting as clearly inspired by the Beatles as it was by their evident familiarity with psychedelics.
The Moody Blues are the sort of pureblooded hippie band that I can't imagine 21st century hipsters will ever want to rip off. This is earnest, poetic folk music that, despite it's psychedelic wanderings, is highly dependent on having a classically-trained line-up. There's no room for pedal-masturbation here. Instead, the focus is on rich four-part harmonies (one guy has a voice so high you'd swear he never hit puberty) and on orchestral parts arranged beautifully for the mellotron. The mellotron, like so much '60s psych-rock stands out because it has a really bizarre, trippy sound, yet it involves no digital effects. Psychedelic effect: a mysterious, mellow high that leads the listener to a medieval stoner's paradise.
The Zombies' Odessey and
Oracle is a less scary take on psychedelia than
To the dismay of hippies everywhere, psychedelic drugs did not
The Pretty Things
September 24, 201 2
Psychedelic effect: a fuzzy warmth that pulls you into peaceful dreams of childhood and earthly beauty.
most sixties bands explored. The Zombies' tunes usually bring to mind a pleasantly-baked walk through the park more than, say, an acidtest gone wrong. (As in Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing at Baxters.) Odessey and Oracle stands out for having psychedelic tunes that still sound like perfect little pop songs (especially for listeners not "turned on.") Melody abounds in Odessey's pianos, tremolo guitars and most of all, in its rich vocal harmonies. Lyrically, The Zombies exude psychedelic imagery (without being incoherent) as in superb tracks like "Hung Up On A Dream." The only problem is that The Zombies didn't put out enough music.
Album Review - Failed States by Propagandhi
One of the world's last true punk bands puts out another fucking gem Propagandhi’s latest release sees the band continue to evolve away from their 90s punk origins towards heavier, more technical, compositions. In some ways Failed States has a sound similar to the one they explored on Supporting Caste and Potemkin City Limits. Chris Hannah and the Rod still pack a walloping punch with their one-of-a-kind harmonized metal/punk vocals. And as expected Propagandhi overwhelms us (in a good way) with their witty, politically relevant lyrics. What I hadn’t anticipated from Failed States is just how intricate some of their arrangements are. “Status Update” stands out as having the most shredding riff I’ve ever heard these guys play. It’s also a track that showcases how damn tight this band is. If I absolutely had to name a problem with these songs it’s that both their lyrics and musical ideas are so interesting and mentally stimulating, one can hardly take it all in at once. Indeed I find Propagandhi’s songs only get better with additional listens. The first few playbacks I usually get caught up in the sheer energy of the tunes. Eventually though I am CONT'D PAGE 1 1
The MC Press 8 FRIENDS W/O BENEFITS Romantic Relationship Flowchart
I guess staying good friends with an ex makes sense in the world of Seinfeld. All the characters get laid so often that no one really experiences sexual frustration or aloneness. Unfortunately real-life is not like a Seinfeld episode. And a new loveinterest does not appear in our lives every week like perfect clockwork. I personally spend too much time pining for ex-girlfriends. I stay in touch with some of my exes and when I talk to them the emotional dynamic is always peculiar. I can’t remember a single time I acted as playful and laid-back with an ex as Jerry and Elaine act with each other. Around some exes I feel nostalgic, around others I feel almost embarrassed. But common with all my exes is my feeling for them a weird duality of intimacy and estrangement. I feel especially strange running into an ex after not seeing her for a very long
time. It feels like when you come home from travelling abroad. Practically nothing changed while you were gone, but somehow things look and feel different. With exes likewise you feel like you’re talking to a stranger only it’s weirder than that. You still have to start with icebreaker questions like “Where do you work?” despite the fact you’ve already bared your soul to this person and possibly even seen them naked. At times I try quite hard — and even against my ex's wishes — to stay in contact with them. I’d like to tell you this is because “I just want us to remain friends” but my intentions are rarely so pure. Often I run into an old flame and fantasize that I could get back with her. I convince myself that I have learned my lessons on "how not to pursue women" and now possess the tools needed to revive our comatose relationship.
9 FRIENDS W/O BENEFITS
September 24, 201 2
times have changed. Feelings for exes are not always this messy though. Sometimes people break up on mutually bad terms such that neither person wants to see the other one again. These are the exes you pass on the street and pretend not to remember the name of, let alone remember what kind of lover they are. The nice thing about these exes is they never stir up feelings of missed opportunity. All you feel around them is a sort of mellow indifference. Despite all that has been said, people do occasionally stay good friends with an ex. This has happened to me with only one girl. I recently went walking with her and told "You still have to start with icebreaker questions her I still regretted “burning the bridge like 'Where do you work?' between us.” She replied, “Bridges can be despite the fact you've rebuilt.” Though she carefully qualified that already bared your soul to our relationship could never be romantic this person and possibly again. I sighed and told her I would always even seen them naked." be nostalgic for our old romance. This girl Intimate relationships are like any strong closed by telling me to stop feeling belief or addiction in that they’re hard to nostalgic, which I guess is the key to any give up. It’s very hard to take someone you healthy post-dating relationship. once held dearly and passionately to be “the Once I stopped longing for this girl’s one” and reimagine them as someone you romantic love I realized how great it was now hang out with, but no longer embrace simply knowing her and being a part of her or fall asleep beside. life. And it’s far too rare that I care enough This rewiring-brain problem helps explain about a woman so as to actually feel the cognitive dissonance we feel around our grateful just being friends with her. I exes. We can feel both intimate and suppose accepting platonic love from a girl estranged to an ex because, while our old doesn’t sound very heroic or noble. But brain is saying we know and love this coming from a hormonal 22-year-old male I person, our new brain is reminding us that think it means a lot. I suspect my longing for exes is simply the result of foolish hormones flowing through my brain. Of course hormones are normal. But how I relate to exes, and women in general, might be a little abnormal. For starters, I hardly ever want to be just friends with a girl I like. As soon as I find a girl attractive and interesting my primary objective becomes dating her. So once I’ve actually dated a girl the suggestion that her and I become just friends seems like a return to infancy. Being just friends is counterintuitive to the main reason I reach out to girls in the first place — because I want to date them.
You Don`t Even Know: with Gavin White The MC Press
1 0 GAVIN WHITE
Gavin is a second year fine arts major at the U of S. In his spare time, he plays harpsichord in an 11-piece indie, new-wave, dance-rock band called The Shoals of Bigotry. Gavin has 1132 Facebook friends (and counting). He spends his spare time at super exclusive affairs that you just wouldn’t even know about.
Is it just me or did vintage clothes totally stop being cool lately? I mean it was cool when just me and a few other people wore it. But I swear like fifteen guys have the same cowichan sweater as me now. And I’m like “Seriously? You people think you're as subversive as me?" Those sweaters were cool when they were my thing! But all of sudden a bunch of posers got into buying all this retro shit. And now I'm like "Do people even notice my quirky outfits now that everybody started dressing quirky?" There should be laws excluding people who don’t even get indie-culture from horning in on it. That’s what I liked about the house show me and The Shoals ofBigotry played last Saturday. We only advertised the show to our peeps on Facebook, plus we held it at some chick's acreage (and you had to get the driving directions from one of us) so it was like this mad-underground party. At one point in our set, Kasey (one of The Shoals' three beat makers) ran off the stage and started totally macking that Alison Frampton chick. Oh, and in case you didn't know, I actually dated Alison last year. I guess she's pretty hot but the girl doesn’t know dick-all about music. I took her to this sweet chill-wave show last year and she like pretended to be into it, but I could tell she didn’t really get what chill-wave's all about. Alison’s one of those wannabe hipsters. Like when I met her I swear she was still listening to Metric and Arcade Fire. And I was like, "Alison, those bands stopped being cool in 2009." Hell, I bet Alison wouldn’t even know about Grizzly Bear if I didn't lend her my limited edition vinyl of Veckatimest. Anyway I gotta go throw down some rhymes for my new rap group The Biece Niz. Haha, yeah, I'm in a lot of different bands right now.
1 1 REAL PUNKS
September 24, 201 2
The hottest CD with Gavin White I first heard Clooney's eponymous debut album
Clooney in a record shop/bistro in Montréal. I
immediately purchased it but unfortunately you will be unable to do the same since they're already out of stock (they only pressed 250 LPs). Clooney broke up last month after their storied eight month career. I have my copy of Clooney. Jealous much?
FROM PAGE 7 able to sit down and absorb the lyrics more properly. As my brother once said, Propagandhi’s lyrics are intellectual enough they could be cited in university thesis papers. And because these lyrics are transmitted through such blistering vocals, the psychological impact of what the listener hears is nothing short of fucking amazing. Lyrically, tracks like “Things I Like” sum up all that is awesome about the punk ethos espoused by Propagandhi. Their message is one of having a social conscience without being stuffy or pompous about it. Hence you hear a unique mix of layman and scholarly ideas on Failed States, as in the lyric: “I like profound mysteries. I like The Supremes’ ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and the emergence of competing histories.” With Failed States Propagandhi steers away from the ambient breaks and gentle vocal passages that occasionally popped up on their previous two albums. They have kept only a few softer vocals for tracks like “Note to Self” and “Lotus Gait.” Ultimately Failed States seems to be made more for the headbanger than it is for the folded-arms hipster who wants to watch bands in a sort of half-asleep, meditative state. Not that Propagandhi every catered to such douchebags, I’m only suggesting that Failed States has taken the band even further into an uncompromisingly badass direction.