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sing while you may


legendary pink dots w/ pony da look at lee's palace

i will always have a deep fondness for the legendary pink dots. it's not just the fact that they are one of the only bands that can push the envelope of emotion while (almost) never falling into the smarmy abyss that makes them so adorable. i love them for that, but i also love them because they were the first band i ever made a concerted effort to see. i made the trek with several friends all the way from halifax to see them in montreal years ago. as such, they are also implicated in my decision to move to montreal, since once i was up there, i found the city difficult to let go. so what's not to love?

i was starting to have my doubts about them for a while in the late nineties, when the rough edge that had generally prevented them from becoming too precious seemed to get blunted. all the same, they've always been reliably enjoyable in a live context.

i showed up last night in the midst of opening act pony da look. i didn't know what to expect because i hadn't even heard their name before i arrived (technically, i didn't hear it, or read it, until this afternoon). perhaps i'm getting a little intransigent, but i wasn't that hyped to see an opening band who i'd never heard of. for good reason, it turns out. the band sounds like nothing so much as a group of people trying to be a lot weirder than they actually are. this kind of sound was done with more panache (and more sincerity) by lemon kittens, lene lovich and nina hagen decades ago.

getting there earlier did give me a chance to survey the crowd a little, always an adventure at a show, i find. the first time i saw the dots in montreal, i was astounded at the sheer number of waxed and polished gothic beautiful people there were there. (the dots have always had a disproportionately large following in montreal, especially among goths, it seems.) this show had a much different vibe. the crowd looked a lot more like someone had done a sunset round-up on the boardwalk at venice beach- more than a little freakish and leaning towards the rangy side of bohemian. i couldn't help reflecting, as i stood in a haze of patchouli and nag champa (i'm not even making that up) that this was a much more appropriate audience, closer to the imafe of the band themselves.

the band took the stage shortly after eleven, in fine form (despite edward ka-spel's being laid low by the flu). one consistent aspect of each of their shows is that they have a captivating stage presence. both ka-spel and saxophonist niels van hoorn interact with the audience throughout, something which sent this particular crowd into fits. although the sheer mass of their back catalogue prevents them from ever being able to play all the songs i'd like to hear (i'd probably still be standing in lee's palace now), last night did give me several highlights- poppy day, belladonna, green gang and a particularly stunning version of hellsville are the ones that stand out for me. the sheer mass of their back catalogue also means that there are a number of songs that i have trouble placing, although i know i've heard them many times before.

mostly, i was happy to see that the band steered away from the prog-rock nastiness that was making me unsure about them for a while and were back in fine psychedelic, mind-expanding form. if they come by these parts again, i'll be in line for a fifth show.

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dreamspeak

ok, so i've been lax about posting here. i apologise. there are reasons. i don't know if they'ree good reasons, but they include:


i've had a lot of work to do, which is nice because i'm a freelancer and things tend to slow down in the summer, so the more work i get now, the less i have to worry about later [in theory].i started watching the handmaid's tale. i was a little hesitant because i didn't actually like the novel very much; i found it heavy-handed and predictable. the series relies on the novel for about 80% of its first season plot but i nevertheless find it spellbinding. where i felt that the novel beat readers with its politics, the series does a better job of connecting with the humanity in the midst of politics. i'm dithering on starting season two because i am a serial binger and once i know damn well that starting the second season will soon consign me to the horrors of having to wait a week between episodes. i don't know if i can han…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…

mental health mondays :: separate and not equal

given the ubiquitousness of racial disparities in the united states, there's no reason why we should be surprised that they exist in mental health care. unlike a lot of other areas, the people in power have acknowledged the problem for decades. but the situation isn't getting any better. 
the united states surgeon general documented the differences between white and non-white mental health care back in 2001 so we can assume that it was already a known problem at that point. two years later, a presidential commission said the same damn thing and groups like the national association for mental health seized on this to develop guidelines on how to bridge the ethnic gap. from the turn of the century through 2007, the number of papers and publications talking about the mental health care gap spiked. the issue was viewed as being on par with obesity when it came to urgent problems.

starting in 2004, researchers undertook a massive project that involved the records of nearly a quart…