Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Friday, December 09, 2005


I pick up an old cassette by Ick on Fish, the punk rock band for which I was front man in the early mid eighties and think "holy fuck" when I do the math. It's been 20 years since Ick last played together. Since then, Glenn Coolen (bass) has gone on to be a successful architect and an amazing Celtic musician, Brad Conrad (guitar) now has his own studio while playing for Matt Mayes & El Torpedo, no idea where John Rowe (drums) ended up, and then there's me.

When I was growing up we used to play road hockey everyday. Of course, now, in my mid late thirties, I am no longer doing this, but yet have no recollection of when we somehow decided as teenagers that this is the last time that we will ever do this. This seems to be a bit of a metaphor for my life. Somewhere in there, there was Ick, followed by a few other projects, university, writing and a few bohemian years in Europe, a return to University, a couple years of teaching and then I couldn't find a teaching job, so I ended up getting a job as a Correctional Officer in a maximum security prison. I feel like the proverbial Gregor from Kafka's short story, one day you wake up, no longer a man, metamorphisised into a dung beetle.

It's hard not to lose yourself, especially if you are doing something that is the polar opposite of who and what you are, but, as I struggle through, I'm beginning to realise that you don't have to sell out. I think people think that they need to fit into some kind of designed slot, be that of conformist or non-conformists with all of their sub-spiecies. This is hard as a Correctional Officer as many things are just jobs, whereas being employed as a Correctional Officer leads to becoming one to a great extent, 24/7.

I can't deny that I'm nostalgic for the past. I played in bands alongside budding stars including Sarah McLaughlin and the lads who now comprise the band Sloan. But I guess that is what youth is all about, no? I still play my guitar deep in my basement and am developing a bit more of a melody and a little less of a growl, and that's cool. But it's time to look less to the past and focus on how I may alter my present, progressing forward on my terms. Still wonder though what might have been. Back in those days the idea of buying music by Husker Du, Black Flag, SNFU or the Dead Kennedys in your average corporate music store was out of the question. Today, not only is that stuff available at HMV, but there's even some corporate radio playing the Ramones, Replacements and Sex Pistols like Edmonton's 102.9 Sonic FM. Those subjected to my vocal tirades at the time would put me somewhere between Henry Rollins (Black Flag)and Joe Shithead (DOA) as far as sound goes. The lads in the band were also quite accomplished musicians.

It's also a bit sad though - like attempts to revive 70's fashions. There was something totally organic about the scene back then and making money was not even a romote thought for most folks making the music (we were too busy trying to deflate the Mexican standoff between the USSR and USA). I remember my first gig was in 1984 where The Nils opened for the Asexuals (both from Montreal) and I sat in the college radio station in Halifax, 97.5 CKDU-FM (where I later did a programme for many years) while volunteers tried to find a place for The Nils to crash for the night. For a guy just getting into the scene, sitting there with some of the bigger names in the Candian Punk movement at the time was way cool. I also remember picking up SNFU's first album and writing to the address on the sleeve to tell the guys they rocked. I ended up getting a page long letter, piece of Double Bubble and small plastic lizard from Mr. Chi Pig, the band's singer, and ended up going out for dinner with him whenever they played in Halifax, every 8-14 months. I also wrote Ian McKaye's band, Minor Threat, and Ian took the time to pen a few lines my way. That's what I'm talking about when I say organic.

Anyway, I'm pretty much out of touch from the scene, but, in spite of how the corporate world is creating their Weezer's and Blink 182's, I know that there's still kids out there making noise, and that's cool. I wish I could come out and play too. Oh well, quoting one of the greatest Canadian bands of all time, The Lowest of the Low:

"The twisted punchline said/ They'll understand you when you're dead/ say that you're not angry/ just savagely dissapppointed...."


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