I Have Achieved Sainthood and I am Leaving

It's the classic "move"- I'm three beers into a six-pack and surrounded by bubble wrap & open boxes- and look where I am- procrastinating. In fact I'm even procrastinating on procrastination, having found a forgotten journal and opened up to these notes for a poem, which are kind of perfect given the situation. Fuck, they could almost apply to my blogging at this point- I've discovered that (?!?!) there's no high-speed internet where I'm going-- as far as I know the fucking Taliban has internet access in certain remote caves. Nova Scotia, you can SUCKLE ON MY BALLS. Get it together, okay?

*calming intake & outtake of breath*

Yet, "As Mr. Spock is so fond of saying, There Are Always Possibilities" (to quote Captain Kirk, I think), and though my entries might be a tad intermittent, there's still alot of backlog for the curious to explore. As I am so well aware of at the opening of each old box I come to.

A painting would never be good enough
It's only farther away than a photograph,
or a memory
Why should a poem be any different
A poem comes only as close as finding
one of your long hairs in the crack of a book,
by chance,
on one day of many in this life.

Only a whisper of a million parts of you
And at that a part I'm lucky enough
to identify,
to comprehend,
to close the book and trap again.

And so I choose to lock your beauty down
as I find it,
To crawl about these words and find it way to something
more important,
Something that will perhaps become
a secret,
or forgotten,
Stumbled upon in later years,
A whisper of a million newer parts since grown,
to grasp for,
to comprehend,
to close the book and trap again.


ripped on hash oil


remember the time you drove all night

Stop and think about all the things you've left in your wake over the course of your life. All the little things that bring Haiku-like definition to the life you think you know so well.
There's a couple of shelves of overflow books my landlords have left in my downstairs hallway. One of them is called 'Dwelling', an amazing 70's book about creating your own living space; just the kind I like to find by surprise. Inscribed on the inside cover is

To the future
My love

Scattered throughout one of my favorite bookstores are things they've found tucked in books over the decades. Pinned to a post is a drugstore photobooth picture of a couple, young & with doubt in their eyes. On the back it says the day Eli was conceived.

A friend lent me a bag last year and in an inside pocket, long forgotten, were several photos and an unsent postcard; a whole little situation which, in this case, didn't give any clues as to the future. In this case too I knew the outcome of the story; I wonder how the other ones turned out.

I was throwing a whole pile of stuff out a while back and a tiny piece of paper escaped to settle against a wall for a few more weeks. I put one song on the tape just for you Nate- guess which one it is. A lost moment, a long-forgotten tape. A mystery.

On the computer I'm using is a bank of 1700 sent emails of the most mundane kind, surely, obviously, every one of them forgotten, all of them belonging to the previous owner, whom I never knew and never will. Unless- will I? If I choose to read nearly two thousand messages about meeting for a sushi lunch or picking up flowers?

We think we know where we've come from, where we're going. But there's a secret history out there that says otherwise. We don't have control of our pasts and realizing this liberates our future. Here's to all we really have control of- little tiny moments as they're happening. My apologies to anyone for whom the technology below doesn't function.


it is to puke

my gorge rose and my jaw dropped in earnest sorrow when yesterday I learned that one of my Eternal Top Five Records, Spiderland, is being performed in its entirety this July in NYC by the very people who created it, those people being Slint. and, it being in the top five of enough people to sell out two shows before I even have a chance to think about getting myself to New York this summer, I'm just gonna have to swallow it. this is going to be just like when R.E.M. played what turned out to be thier last passably decent tour and when the nearest show rolled around, I was onstage doing some indie play, "Radio Free Europe" coursing through my head and drowning out my scene partner's words. Or when Milli Vanilli played Parlee Beach and all my best friend and I could do was take a ghetto blaster and Girl You Know It's True down to the frigidly windy shores of the Atlantic.


because I'm not joining Facebook on top of this

I took a detour through the little town of Bear River today. It's another kind of artist's haven town with some neat stuff in it.

There's a building covered entirely in Bob Dylan lyrics

there's the river

and the requisite trashed boat.

down the road is Clementsport, or Clementsvale, I'm not sure which. There's a great cemetary

and this nasty train trestle stretching out across the water

that anyone can walk out on and risk their lives.


Books What Changed Me, vol 2

"If you talked while you were digging for treasure the money would sink down, or the devil would come with his head bare, or the man buried with the treasure would come with his sword in his hand to kill you."

One of many little quotable stories told to Dr. Helen Creighton over the course of the many years she travelled the East Coast of Canada compiling folklore to make up, among other volumes, a book that has been by my side and in my head for a good long time. The story of its discovery shares a major trait with my previous entry: the public school system.

Whilst sitting through a tedious library orientation in the very first of my junior high school days, my friend Dwayne nudged me and pointed to the stacks:
"Bluenose Ghosts. I wonder what that is."

It could have been the very first book I checked out at my junior high. I made my way through all the chapters in rapid succesion: Forerunners. Ghosts Guard Buried Treasure. Devils and Angels. So Many Wandering Women. There and Not There. During an afternoon reading period, in the bright light of day, I vividly recall being terrified by a detail from a larger story in the chapter Haunted Houses and Poltergeists:

"My wife heard of these stories and they got on her nerves so much at night that she would dream of a child that was nothing but bones coming down the chimney hole asking for food."

Bluenose Ghosts is fairly well known and can be found on the bookshelves of many a Maritime Canadian. Helen Creighton recieved the Order of Canada for her almost mind-boggingly thorough cataloguing of songs and stories that were just on the edge of being lost at the beginning of the last century. The only thing I can personally say to her detriment is that she inadvertantly unearthed the now-ubiquitous and endlessly commodified Farewell to Nova Scotia.

Much of the book is transcribed directly from the master tapes of outport fisherman, etc. laying down the stories in their own words: "De ye known what is was?", says one interviewee in describing a ghost. "It was a nawthin'." Similarly another person describes the sound of a ghost as "Somethin' soft knockin' on nawthin'."
On several occasions I've performed a long, florid monologue from the book in which two men encounter a "Thing" standing on an impossibly rotten fencepost on a bright summer's night. It's such a well-told story that it's actually frightened and mildly disturbed audiences, and petrified a group of high school tough guys one night as I read it in a dorm room while chaperoning a drama group.

The sort of superstitions and elaborate folklore detailed in the book still linger in this region. Once while filming a Blair Witch- style documentary to alleviate boredom on a theatre contract in rural Nova Scotia, my fellow actress and myself discovered over the course of this lark that the ghost story we were covering was in fact very much alive in this part of the world, and we ended up with a fascinating little documentary showing its interpretation over the course of several generations. Seeing the fears and anxieties of a people expressed in these folklorish ways even today brought Nova Scotia to a new kind of life. I've an unproduced play called Dark Fields which in part explores the way free-floating distress ends up manifesting itself as stories of the devil & grey ladies, etc. etc. to this day.

That my high school friends and I for years dropped quotes from BG as much as from TV and film gives me enormous satisfaction. That it's woven its way through my life even to the degree that I've been able to return some of it to the culture in my day is satisfying moreso. In my ever tumultuous relationship with this little province, Bluenose Ghosts is one thing that's come out of Nova Scotia that I'll talk up forever.

This is the mass-market paperback version of the book that you'll find these days all across Canada. There's an out-of-print 1950's hardcover edition that has this rippin' scary fisherman on the bottom left corner of the cover.


Books What Changed Me, vol.1

There are certain books that have gone from software to hardware in my brain and influenced the sensibility of everything I've ever created myself. I'm going to write a couple of them up. I'm not going to get all eggheaded and literary about things; if you want to know where to start reading, period, check out, oh, say the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore's staff picks.

When I was in grade two my desk was beside a poster of all the recent Scholastic Books releases. There were a few covers that intrigued me but only one managed to remain in my memory until I made it to junior high. The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs turned up on my neighbor Matthew Regan's bookshelf several years later. I borrowed it and borrowed it, read it and read it; can't remember if I ever actually asked to keep it, but here it is,

the selfsame copy. I've not personally encountered a single soul who has even heard of Bellairs or The House... I did find it recently mentioned among the favorite books of one Justin O'Neill in the pages of one of my favorite periodicals, Me Magazine, though he confused the author with the protagonist. Bellairs however does have a large following scattered about the world, & some of them contribute to a blog dedicated to his work.

The fictional individual Mr. O'Neill confused with the author is young Lewis Barnavelt, who we first meet aboard a bus as he heads to fictional New Zebedee, Michigan after the sudden death of his parents. He's about to enter a minutely detailed, warmly evocative world that puts most every contemporary children's series devoted to gothica and spookiness to complete and utter shame, not to mention making Harry Potter look a right pussy when it comes to the death of one's parents: on this bus ride Lewis intones prayers in their original Latin- 'why art thou sorrowful, o my soul, and why do you trouble me?' He confronts his moony face in the window's relfection, rubbing Wildroot Cream Oil through his hair and thinking about how fat he is. Judica me Deus, he thinks. No, don't judge me, help me to live a happy life.

Lewis's existentential angst is running deep when he's met at the bus station by his Uncle Jonathan and taken to the titular house, where he quickly learns that Jonathan and his best friend/neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman are practicing members of the Capharnaum County Magician's Society. It takes him longer to learn just what in the hell is going on in the house, and herein lies the spell of the book. We're taken into the minute world of a troubled little kid as he discovers the secrets of the house and the surrounding town, all the while weaving a sense of place and a consistent atmosphere unmatched in children's literature today. Bellairs captures acutely the terror and wonder of childhood in brave and beautiful ways; not present are the blank heroics of the current Harry Potter Literature. Lewis's self-doubt and vulnerability, and the ways in which he seeks comfort and understanding are what made this stand out to me as a youngster, and the ways these things inform the story has kept my respect for it high over the years.

Check out this passage, as Jonathan entertains Lewis, Mrs. Zimmerman and Lewis's tenuous friend Tarby:

He stopped in front of the birdbath and held the ball of the cane up under his chin so that his face looked like an actor's face when it is lit from below by footlights. Slowly he raised his right hand and pointed at the sky. "Look!" he cried.
All three of the spectators looked up. At first they saw nothing strange. Then, slowly, a black, tarry, drippy shadow oozed down over the face of the surprised moon. Uncle Jonathan walked over to the tulip bed, put his ear to the ground, and listened. He motioned for the others to join him. Lewis put his ear to the damp earth, and he heard strange things. He heard the noise that earthworms make as they slowly inch along, breaking hard black clods with their blunt heads. He heard the secret inwound conversations of bulbs and roots, and the breathing of flowers. And Lewis knew strange things, without knowing how he came to know them. He knew that there was a cat named Texaco buried in the patch of ground he knelt on. Its delicate ivory skeleton was falling slowly to pieces down there, and its dank fur was shrivelled and matted and rotten. The boy who had buried the cat had buried a sand pail full of shells near it. Lewis did not know the name of the boy, or how long ago he had buried the cat and the pail, but he could see the red and blue pail clearly. Blotches of brown rust were eating up the bright designs, and the shells were covered with green mold.

And this, bringing all of Lewis's anxieties to the surface:

Lewis got up. He threw back the covers, slipped on his bathrobe, and found his slippers. Quietly, he padded down the hall and then down the dark staircase. At the entrance to the front hall he stopped. There was a streetlight burning just outside the front gate, and it threw a bent black shadow against the pleated curtain on the front door. Lewis stood still and watched the shadow. It didn't move. Slowly he began to walk forward. When he reached the door, he closed his fingers around the cold knob and turned it. The door rattled open, and a freezing wind blew in over his bare ankles. There stood his Aunt Mattie, who was dead.
Lewis stepped back as the old woman, her head cocked to one side as it always had been, tottered across the floor toward him. A shaking blue light filled the air around her, and Lewis, his eyes wide open in this nightmare, saw Aunt Mattie as she had been the last time he saw her alive. Her dress was black and wrinkled, she wore heavy shoes with thick heels, and she tapped her bunchy, black umbrella as she went. Lewis even thought he smelled kerosene- her house, her clothing, and her furniture had always reeked of it. The white fungus blotch that was her face shook and glowed as she said, in a horribly familiar voice,
"Well Lewis? Aren't you glad to see me?"

On top of it all, you get illustrations from none other than Edward Gorey:

Lewis wondering about the mysterious neighbor lady

Lewis runs terrified from the tiniest of things after discovering secrets inside an old organ

That I can't pinpoint precisely what it is with this book that makes it so influential is exactly why it is so. However its influence goes hand in hand with another book discovered in the same period, so that's the one I'll get to next time.


Great Canadian Breakfasts, Great Lake Swimmers

Every goddamned time I get it in my head to detail some fascination I find so idiosyncratically personal and obscure that it would have to make for an idiosyncratic and obscure blog, I Google it and find that half a dozen people have entire web pages on the subject. That's not gonna stop me though; I plan to write up some of my all-time favorite obscure books when time permits- & then refer you to entire blogs on the subject for further reading.

In the meantime, you'll have to make due with what my friend Jennie V had for breakfast in Montreal the other morning:

On that morning I believe I had fresh (from the freezer) Nova Scotian strawberries & local curds that match French Canada's any day (sorry, French Canada)- there's good eats to be found all over our fair country. Isn't that interesting?

While I can match Jennie for quality in the breakfast department, Montreal provided something for her and my buddy Jimmy that Nova Scotia can't at the moment- a show by the aforementioned Great Lake Swimmers. (they took photos, but they won't upload here, making this post even less interesting)
Their new record is out on the 25th. The last time they were through Montreal, I was there, as was Jennie in fact, as was some girl who fell right down the stairs at the intimate venue. I wrote a song about it.

Aaaaaand, goodnight.


the causes of, and solutions to, all of life's problems

St. Patrick was captured by raiders and imprisoned for six years, a period in which he got so bored, lonely, and depressed that he turned to Christianity. These days in such situations we're more apt to turn to drink. I wonder what Pat would have picked if given the choice? Surely though, God worked as he always does in mysterious and appropriate ways- otherwise even the most shamed of Catholics wouldn't have an excuse to tipple on at least one day of the year. So if you'll excuse me, I'm getting my pious ass to the bar.


Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

I've got to throw in my flip two cents about the new Arcade Fire. It's already passed two tests

-driving. If a record makes you a) slow down and check out the scenery & helps you blend that scenery with whatever's on your mind/soul with the music you're experiencing into some entirely new momentary perspective on life and living or b) speed up past 100k & just drive, then it's got its flying colors.

-the hood test. While not in motion, and while living where I am now, I'll often pull the intake hood out over my gas stove, which activates the noisy updraft system and dilutes the perception of music down to its core beat & melody. Add the smoking of cigarettes/and/or other inhalables, which is, in fact the reason I spend so much time in this little location, and you've got a unique perspective on all sorts of sound, & helps deliniate that primal musical trigger, free of any intellectual obfuscation that's present whilst listening to every little lyric & musical nuance.

In passing those tests it's got past the first impressions stage. While the previous album, Funeral, was alot more of a visceral, first-impressions trip, that allowed you in to its enlightenments afterwards, Neon Bible seems to work the other way around. There's something more intellectually angst-y about the subject matter here, and when I'm talking angst I mean of the more rarified variety that found on your average emo record- in no way do I wish to equate this band with that 'movement'. There's genuine anger here, and darkness, things you don't often find in records that debut at no. 2 on the Billboard chart. For that matter, things you haven't found on this band's past recordings- on Funeral the sense was that someone has come through a crisis, and was singing of the enlightenments & complications generated by that. Neon Bible seems to me in the midst of a crisis, half on the way to enlightenment & not sure if it's getting there or is ever going to. But all this boils down to the fact that when you release an all-around revealtion of a first major record, anything that follows is going to seem dimmed, no matter how you look at it. I choose not to look at it from a common perspective, which is to infer that a successful 'new' band's sophomore album is going to be more jaded following their exposure to a much more demanding and complicated world than they were living in while recording their first innocent little record ( I always think of the poor old Counting Crows here, who releleased a marvellous, trillion-selling first album of individual vision, and followed it up with one of expanded musical innovation, but concerned lyrically with dating TV stars and the mind-fuck of hearing your songs all over the radio- transposing your personal experience into universality doesn't go so well when you're living a life like that all of a sudden).
No, I'd rather live with this record for a while. That's the best first impression it can give- that you want to continue a relationship with it. I'm surprised in my reaction to the urgency of this album- when Funeral was Everywhere I was, though I didn't realize it, surrounding myself with 'apocolyptic' music & living in a wasteland of industry, driving through miles of strip-mall & gas-station nastiness to work every day and listening to things like Bright Eyes' Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. So now that I'm here in pastoral la-la land countryside, maybe it just doesn't jive with my personal sensibility at the moment. Funeral cut through all that apololypto jive, so by that rationale the worldly urgeny of Neon Bible should equally augment my chilled-out country bliss.

See- at the heart it's all about the individual, right? I actually had the pleasure of meeting Win Butler and Regine Chassange of this band early last year, in a casual, non-public way, and that introduces a whole other dimension to the digestion of an artist's work. The beginning of my respect for an artist I've met or know personally arises when I find myself asking one key question-- where in the hell does their work come from? If one can read this immediately, or heaven forbid if you are told directly by the artist, it all ends there.
Today I was reading a Rolling Stone article (issue 1008, September 7, 2006, Bob Dylan cover) about this purported psychedelic guru, operataing out of NYC and espousing the use of psychotropics as a necessary way of getting to the heart of existance in a world rapidly on its way to (natch) the apocalypse. He's gone to many and varied lengths to espouse this method, writing books, setting himself up as a public figure, but at the heart of it, and this was perhaps the thesis point of the article, it all boiled down to the transparency of his needs as a simple human, needs borne out of a childhood and adolesence filled with hurt & rejection. His ideas, and the very fact that he is attempting to gain such widespread recognition for them, are undermined by his very vulnerable human-ness.
Now an artist who can transpose this vulnerability and generate something entirely new deflects this transparency. In fact in many cases deflecting this transparency is the very prime motivation of an artist, even if it involves singing diary-entry songs to a roomful of kindred spirits. But of main interest to me is that moment where you realize someone has transformed one thing into another, be it a feeling, an idea, or anything else born of themselves and forged in some crucible of the artist's mind & ability that maybe thay can't even fully explain, something that drops off from their own ego and becomes something new. It's like watching a cell divide. That's the ground zero of the true artistic experience, & there are few things I love more than realizing this has happened, and someone has moved into that realm where all of a sudden that person standing next to you has taken on all sorts of mystery and depth of the kind only generated by a true artist.


laid up in the Jesus year

Little gap in the ol' posts here, with good (?) reason- nearly a week ago I drove 200k in what must have been a funky position to help a friend move house. I wasn't out of the car for five minutes before I bent down to pick up some trifle, some metal pole or something, and pulled a major muscle in my lower back. Spent the next two days laying down reading John Donne prose while the sun shone through the windows for about the third time in 2007. Hobbling around at 32, which brings me to-

The fact that I'm, actually, in my 33rd year, which, I realized whilst convalescing, is what the wierd among us refer to as their 'Jesus Year'. The year of crucifiction, and of resurrection. I've got one of those things covered already. I no longer feel strange about ducking the '27 club' (membership: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain, God bless them all), but I do feel a kind of wondrous expanse between the present and things I didn't really consider the Deep Past until life happened while I was making other plans and I found myself here, and kind of delighted to have alot of shit behind me, out of the way, stuff that's dead yet generates life.

Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
I am the Lizard King, I can do anything

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

feel free to think over your tenacity
Thoroughly green birds don't exist anyway
but you can come over to my place and play anytime
I won't begrudge you your skirts or your cigarettes
or the tiny fists within your fists
and within mine
We can duck and weave with them
as we see fit
I'm drunk with you anyway


100 excuses for cleverness

This might be more entertaining than my Myers-Briggs results. I totally admit to copping this survey from C. Estima, who keeps an interesting blog here.

How old will you be in five years?
38 years old, and never kissed a girl.
Who did you spend at least two hours with today?
Myself? Everyone else being in five-minute-or-less-increments.
How tall are you?
Taller than Tom Cruise- 5’9” I think.
What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks?
Moving. Goddamn it, moving.
What’s the last movie you saw?
Sherrybaby; I thought it stunk but Maggie Gyllenhaal brought it.
Who was the last person you called?
Derek Linzey.
Who was the last person to call you?
Derek Linzey.
Who was the last person to leave you a voicemail?
Derek Linzey (notice a progression of events here?).
Who was the last text message you received from?
Text what?
Do you prefer to call or text?
I’ll never, ever text, but I’ll email over calling any day.
What were you doing at 12am last night?
Sitting at this very same computer.
Are your parents married/separated/divorced?
Divorced, after thirty-odd years of separation. I think they had champagne.
When was the last time you saw your Mom?
A couple of weeks ago.
What color are your eyes?
The color of fresh mud.
What time did you wake up today?
What are you wearing right now?
Wool socks, jeans, and my two most-worn shirts of all time.
What is your favorite Christmas song?
Anything off of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ Christmas Album, or Le Petit Jesu, mainly because it would make a good hip-hop sample.
Where is your favorite place to be?
Deep inside of my own head, while moving steadily forward.
Where is your least favorite place to be?
In a room full of actors.
Where would you go if you could go anywhere?
Someplace that doesn’t exist.
Where do you think you’ll be in ten years?
Not in that place, that’s for sure.
Do you tan or burn?
Burn, then tan.
What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child?
This pair of floating lips that went OOOOOOO all night when I fever-hallucinated with ear problems. And is that not the scariest thing you’ve ever heard.
What was the last thing that really made you laugh?
Bob Dylan’s radio show.
How many TVs do you have in your house?
Une, stuck in the corner.
How big is your bed?
I think it’s a queen.
Do you have a laptop or desktop computer?
Do you sleep with or without clothes on?
Depends on the season and the room.
What color are your sheets?
Deep red.
How many pillows do you sleep with?
Four, positioned very precisely.
What is your favorite season?
Eternal summer.
What do you like about fall?
The illusion that the colour, the pumpkins, the newly-retrieved sweaters and the jolly farmer’s market-ing all add up to something which makes the world kinder.
What do you like about winter?
Absolutely fucking NOTHING.
What do you like about summer?
Mix tapes, water, hot nights and retsina.
What do you like about spring?
Rebirth. Awakenings.
How many states/provinces have you lived in?
What cities/towns have you lived in?
That’s a whole other questionnaire.
Do you prefer shoes, socks, or bare feet?
Are you a social person?
When I want to be- is that an oxymoron?
What was the last thing you ate?
A big bowl of popcorn.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Kisha Poppo, Davey St., Vancouver.
What is your favorite ice cream?
I think I have a freak lactose intolerance to frozen milk. It makes me sleepy. But there’s a Nova Scotian company which produces something called ‘Mom’s Apple Pie’ that makes it worth this. Moreso if it had flash-frozen cheddar cheese bits in it.
What is your favorite dessert?
Unlimited film-set catered tiramisu.
What is your favorite kind of soup?
Tom Yum, Thai Basil, Bloor St., Toronto.
What kind of jelly do you like on your PB&J sandwich?
This is assuming I’ve eaten a peanut butter sandwich in my conscious adulthood.
Where are you most of the time?
My Inner Home.
Do you like coffee?
I love coffee more than I love pussy.
How many glasses of water do you drink a day on average?
Two, and I piss out nine.
What do you drink in the morning?
150,000 cups of strong organic coffee- see above answer
Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?
I sleep in the middle, because I can.
Do you know how to play poker?
No, and now matter how often you teach me, I’ll forget within 12 hours.
Do you like to cuddle?
I sure do.
Have you ever been to Canada?
Never, ever in my life have I really been to Canada.
When was the last time someone told you they loved you?
On this very night.
Do you eat out or at home more often?
Two straight years of necessary eating out kind of made me lose interest.
Do you know someone with the same birthday as you?
No, but I know Bob Marley died on my birthday in 1981.
Do you want kids?
Sometimes, I want them more than anything going.
Do you speak any other languages?
Mais non.
Have you ever gotten stitches?
So many times that my lower abdomen has no hope of ever being taut.
Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
Have not.
Do you prefer an ocean or a pool?
I prefer a warm lake.
Do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat?
Is there any truly Living soul on Earth who prefers an aisle seat?
Do you know how to drive stick?
Only my own, lovey.
What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
Vicious German pornography.
Do you wear any jewelery 24/7?
Two bracelets, from markets Kensington and Halifax Farmers’.
What is your favorite TV show?
Is, has been, and always will be Twin Peaks.
Can you roll your tongue?
Like a soccer mom can roll an SUV, yo.
Who is the funniest person you know?
Jason MacIsaac of the Heavy Blinkers. At least he said the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, which I shouldn’t document here.
Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
You know, I probably would, if they weren’t so goddamned old and moldy.
What is the main ring tone on your phone?
Fuck a cell phone.
Do you still have clothes from when you were little?
Last fall, while cleaning out a closet at my mother’s house, we found a box with the ‘Nathaniel Suit’ in it, which was a knitted dress-type thing with matching cap, made by some relative. She kept it though. And I fuckin’ wish I still had this outfit of a waffled baby blue shirt and orange overalls I saw in a picture of me as a three-year old. I looked like fuckin’ Thurston Moore.
What red object is closest to you right now?
Cartman’s shirt on my South Park mousepad. If that doesn’t count, my notebook of song drafts.
Do you turn the water off when you brush your teeth?
25% of the time.
Would you rather be attacked by a bear or a swarm of bees?
Bees- I’ve always fantasized about bearing a beard of bees.
Do you flirt a lot?
I don’t know… do you flirt a lot…? You’re flirting right now, aren’t you? Well, even if not you're sure asking alot of questions.
What do you dip a chicken nugget in?
A fucking quick-dissolve acid bath.
What is your favorite food?
The mighty, sublime Dynamite Roll.
Can you change the oil in a car?
I’ve owned my car for four months and haven’t even opened the hood.
Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
I can’t drive 55.
Have you ever run out of gas?
Thank God for that guy mowing the lawn in the public park.
What is your usual bedtime?
Exactly eight hours before I have to get up.
What was the last book you read?
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami.
Do you read the newspaper?
Only on the weekends; b/t them it’s often the nightly news.
Are you currently dating someone?
You know, that’s actually a very good question.
Do you watch soap operas?
Not since I was a bored fourth-grader eating baker’s chocolate in front of Another World.
Do you dance in the car?
Once I did, stuck in traffic for two and a half hours, to the near-entirety of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium.
Who is in the picture frame closest to you?
Ha- myself. But if I lean an inch to my left, my father.
What was the last note you scribbled on a piece of paper?
The date of a wedding at which I am to stand as best man.
What is your favorite candle scent?
What is your favorite board game?
Parcheesi. Actually, I just like the name.
When was the last time you attended church?
At some point when I was married. And I probably just thought about Star Trek the whole time.
Who was your favorite teacher in high school?
Mr. Salmon, real name, who told me one night when I came across him half-cut at a campsite that your thirties are the best time of your life, and not to believe a word about high school meaning a goddamned thing.
Who was the last person to do something extra special for you?
Bob Dylan, for making me laugh.


17 minutes of salvation

learned a new word the other day-
dreich: dismal (adj.) the mind of a man in winter

I'm beginning to take winter personally, out here in the country.
the wind is howling a holy 250km/hr line of translucency right through everything, blowing everything pure again straight through its insides. God and the Devil wouldn't even bother to fight in temperature like this; they'd just get into bed and rub at each other's feet, and eventually the Devil would start to pray, having forgotten totally the warmth of his natural home. At that point it would be up to God to decide if he had too much of a short-term memory.


best quote ever

I don't give a fuck if you don't know what I'm talking about- this is art. When you go see a painting on a wall and it looks bugged out because you don't know what the fuck he thinking, because he ain't got no benches, no trees there, it's just a splash. The nigga that did it know what the fuck it is.

Ghostface on Art,
The Wu-Tang Manual, p. 207


selected prophetic numbers

4. Oblivion has no lips and cocks, there's no one to fuck.
7. Keep yourself open for the next Shrouded Stranger.
8. Whoever has intensity of eye or heart, say hello.
11. The human body and soul never work for a living. It may be hard to get money, but bliss is easy.
12. Bliss has nothing to do with Bullfights or Courage. Responsibility is charming but love is holy. Success if meet if you're happy, but fuck the world.
15. Intellectual bullshit compared to your better moments.
16. Your best moments were those animistic mystic experiences.



(s)he got a messy bedroom on the edge of town

crawling into bed with someone who's been asleep for eight hours has its differences from waking up together.

This week I checked my mail three times in row, which I never do, as I had a three-day engagement up the street from the local post office. My PO box is down at the eye level of a two-year-old, right beside the front door. The bustlers burst through and cream me into the mailbox bank when I'm claiming my correspondence. The retirees scowl downward until I make eye contact, then break into their patented country-friendly smile. On each of these three days there were three single letters in my box.

- one confirming my admission for upcoming schooling.

- one from my alma mater, encouraging me to suggest two people to investigate its possibilities.

- one from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture, the results of a grant application submitted three long months ago. In my squatting position I pressed the envelope tight against its contents and made out the words 'we regret to inform'.

'Yes!', I thought. 'Pheeeewwww...'


long beaches

Gorgeous day today. I hit the road. Long drive along the coast. They say your memory retains the most while you're both hearing and doing- I've listened to this song while driving for nearly a year now- I can visualize turns I took and vistas I passed by the dozen- but only when I was hearing this song. Does that mean something? Naw, this song means pretty much everything.

Three days at sea (three lost years)

First day, I was lost at sea
I had nothing to eat
But I thought that home was near
I found myself in an
Unfamiliar place
My first night
On an unfamiliar tide

Second day, I woke up
Had almost forgotten
I had never thought to
Try on different coloured robes
And I was face down in the sand
And I was lucky to be alive
Lucky to have survived

And on the third day
I was weak so I
Collpased on the beach
And I died of hunger
And when they found me
They saw how much that
I had changed, I had
I had changed I had

I have changed, I have
I have changed, I have.

from Great Lake Swimmers' first record, self titled.

I wrote the CBC radio show The Vinyl Cafe about this band a couple of weekends ago and got this nice letter back from music producer Julie Penner- here's a bit of it-

Dear Nate,Thanks for the beautifully-written email. This latest show has brought us someof the most interesting emails we've read yet. And many from people who havenever written us before. It's been a really wonderful experience.We are HUGE fans of Great Lake Swimmers, and have played their last two albumson the Vinyl Cafe. We will most definitely play their new album on the VinylCafe "Bodies and Minds" was possibly my favourite album of 2005.

And mine. Long Beach, NS is a place where many formative experiences of my youth took place- this meaningful record was recorded in a church at Long Beach, Ontario- another odd little piece of personal magic a la the Twin Peaks experience detailed earlier.


Where I Am, Where I'm At

The unimpeded view of the sunset here, standing at Fort Anne where the rivers meet the Atlantic Ocean, is among the best in the Annapolis Valley. I used to sit in nearly this exact spot, atop a cannon, every couple of years when I was younger, and evaluate my life. Now I've lived here for a few months. And I kind of hate it.
The people here are great; there's a mix of American expats, Brits and Australians, locals whose roots go back a few generations- 500 of them making up one of the most diverse and interesting little populations on the East coast. There's a community potluck every week, as pictured earlier, book groups, film groups, theatre groups. The most artists per capita of any Nova Scotian town- in 2005 this place was deemed 'Cultural Capital of Canada' by some government-appointed body. The town has its own arts council with its own gallery space; this and many other artist-owned spaces hold remarkable work and are completely free of the clothesline-and-lobster trap romanticism of most commercial galleries you'll find across the province. They hold life-drawing classes one a week. I can walk across the street and access an indefinite stretch of the wintry Trans-Canada trail along the Annapolis River. There's a Shambala meditation centre beside the Save-Easy.
Every one of these things has been a part of my life while I've been here. It's a rich life- for someone who's cut out for it. But goddamn it, as much as I try to deny it, my mentality is urban, and it always has been. There will, perhaps, be a time and place for this type of life, for the beauty and peace and everything that generates and assists, but as it is now, I feel completely cut off from the blood-pulse of the world. The sun is setting on my time in this town- I'm here for another month and a half, and as it stands another two years in this province.
A common misconception about me is that I'm actually indigenous to this province. I'm not- one side of my family is from Ontario, the other from St. John New Brunswick, and that side fled en masse to Toronto as soon as it became convenient. My mother and father are the only members of each that live here. This has resulted in my feelings about the region fluxuating between tumultous and ambivalent. I used to say that Nova Scotia was like a loving mama that would hardly ever hand over the car keys- you never knew if she was looking out for you or just being a stone bitch. Any deep understanding of the place has been helped along by people whose roots go deeper, from playwrights and poets to farmers and fishermen. When I love it it's through them.
And, in deeper searches for clarity, I realize I could have been born poor in Sierra Leone.


a la burroughs- poem 2

Secret Titles for a Painting

Chapel as studio, three parts
the audience stayed over
Audience waits in the picturesque
(in contrast to the hippie
surrounding forest.
Japanese gong
audience follows the actors inside.

with a white cloth, and chocolate and
King Kong at one end of the room
a Japanese tale
he removes his jacket
with a sharp blade
The blood pours

we have made
made in order to meet
to become "she"
become part of a fiction. The
acting and the real.
too deeply or the wrong way
very fast. There was a doctor

The version of the film that is
shown on television is not an
'uncut' one but an extended one
put together when the film was
first aired on ABC years ago, and
despite several discussions at
Paramount Home Video over the
years, nothing has become of its
release on video. Hopefully, one
of these years they will realize just
how many fans would enjoy
owning a copy of it!

(the name comes
from 'farengi', Portugese for 'an
unscrupulous trader or pirate')


cut-up poem, text from the backs of collage clippings used in a painting
(now hanging in the office of the Zuppa Circus theatre co., Halifax)