who we be-jeff chang

“Creativity is the purest of human endeavors. Creativity is the ultimate act of optimism,” he said. Capitalist realism was transforming into something else-a kind of capitalist romanticism.” (235, John Hoke III)

“that’s wassup”

i once had coffee with the leader of my most regular writing workshop (that i was recently honoured to guest host) and he spoke of his hatred of dave eggers with such conviction that it was kind of scary. i understand this feeling, but i usually feel it towards those who produce mediocre works, not those whose work i admire. i feel the opposite for jeff chang, though i do have moments where i hate him for being so brilliant.

it’s been a minute since i promised to interview him for total chaos, a promise i never followed through on, but a collection that made it through the purges, and whose pages are completely dogeared and underlined. i won’t lend it to anyone because i feel like my mind and my influence are all over it, but i do think that everyone should read it.

disclaimer-i couldn’t really get through can’t stop won’t stop, but only because it’s so dense and academic-which this one is too, but the pictures help. like amy poehler‘s-the book is printed on beauty-full, heavy paper, and i’m not hating on anyone who’s trying to cross over markets, get that money, writers. make a coffee table book. but note to self to wait until shit comes out on paperback if i’m going to keep toting these tomes on the ttc.

art is always personal and political, even when it’s devoid of personality and politics. the best art makes you think of something, or it makes you think of nothing-it’s an escape that offers new possibilities or a moment to reflect on and be humbled by the things you may have missed or taken for granted in your pre/sent.

chang’s framing, as per usual, tells a story that smashes all paradigms of time, and is edited and unfurled so perfectly. i made notes to look up morrie turner, charles stone, and many other people/artworks. for that, i am great-full.

“It was the end of the 1980s, a decade in which every day felt like a battle for the heart of America.” (106)

“In Coca-Cola’s early years, over seven thousand imitation brands tried to cut away slices of its massive market share. There was an Afri-Cola brand marketed to Blacks. And there was also a Klu-Ko Kola brand marketed not just to whites, but the apparently underserved hooded supremacist niche. Advertising helped maintain Coke’s status as ‘the universal drink,’ the market leader for racists, antiracists, and everyone in between.” (57)

“A paradigm shift in the consumer economy had begun. Pepsi had staked its future on youth, women, and African Americans-vanguard buyers who embodied postwar optimism and the largest reserves of unmobilized demand. Meanwhile, Coke was still aiming for the median American-the white, middle-aged suburban professional, the mirror image of the image-makers themselves.

The main question the Pepsi Generation commercials answered was not ‘Why do you want this drink?’ It was “Who the hell wants to be old?’ A drink was now more than a drink. It represented a lifestyle. Pepsi sold drinks by selling youth, which was no longer a mere biological condition, but an emotional condition enabled by the products of youthiness. If you felt young and hip, then you, too, could enjoy ‘the official drink of today’s generation.’” (59)

“Globalization, in other words, was simply a way of making multiculturalism serve a corporate monoculture.” (171)

“lost generation, fast-paced nation, world population confront their frustration…”

the link between capitalism and art and life is presented in a way that isn’t judgy or preachy (naomi klein-i’m looking at you) and there is a real analysis of the need for artists to be able to be able to keep producing, and keep living.

“Between George Herriman’s death in 1944 and Morrie Turner’s national debut in 1965, the industry and the country had changed. The comics business had become huge, the form had become standardized, and the content had turned conservative. Comic strips were decades behind the social mainstream. Turner was a middle-aged man in tune with the children of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. But the funny pages were less a mirror of tastes of children than of middle-aged men.” (25)

In Living Color introduced the Wayans family, Jamie Foxx, and David Alan Grier to mass audiences. ‘The Fly Girls’ included Jennifer Lopez from the Bronx, Carrie Ann Inaba from Honolulu, and Rosie Perez from Brooklyn. Jim Carrey was one of the only two whites in the cast. Fox had one other wildly popular show featuring a disproportionately high number of people of color on-screen-a ride-along reality show called COPS. Stumbling forward, staggering back.” (200)

“Pryor’s comedy was conceptual from jump. His jokes started with what people saw, but they ended up really being about what people thought they saw and what they thought about what they saw.” (219)

“One of the things multiculturalists had won for their daughters was the privilege of taste and judgement. When her mother had pressed a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God into her hands, Zadie Smith could be skeptical of her mother’s claims of its greatness. That she did not find it wanting was evidence that her mother’s generation had been right.” (222)

“being with you is a top priority, ain’t no need to question the authority”

increasingly, we are an image-based culture, whether we like it or not. this is a win for art, if we want it. a project of this magnitude can be daunting because it can seem never ending, but that’s what you get for being relevant. bigups to jeff for closing on a moment that is both an ending and a precipice. RIP trayvon, hoodies up.

“Nixon believed that people did not vote their hopes, they voted their fears. They liked to be flattered into thinking they were voting their principles. If white working-class voters feared that postwar wealth was being redistributed away from them to Blacks, the Southern strategy gave them a target and a justification.” (47)

“‘You don’t talk free trade to a man with an empty belly,’ said one agricultural economics expert. ‘You feed him.’” (107)

“That was how Clinton’s great conversation on race ended, not with purgation but procedure, not with reconciliation but exhaustion.” (208)

“A lot of people thought it was ironic that I made an image directly supporting something, since I’ve encouraged people for years through my Obey campaign to question the visuals they’re confronted with and look at things more cautiously, but with the HOPE portrait I was very sincerely making propaganda to support Obama. I still encourage people to question everything, but irony is frequently a way to be noncommittal with views. Once you’ve examined things, it’s important to actually have a point of view that you’re willing to stand behind.” (262, Shepard Fairey)

“In the warm easing dusk, when the lakes of Central Florida reflected an endless sky unfurling in torsade strands of orange and purple, the green lawn where the kids used to play football with Trayvon Martin sat silent and empty.” (313)

church of metrotextual

“let’s make a deal….”

has anyone else ever wondered why sound academy is so dang hard to get to? and while we’re here-if you’re gonna call yourself sound academy-why is the sound so shitty?!

as i cried in a cab to the aforementioned ridiculously inaccessible venue (it doesn’t help that union station has been under construction for 15,000 years and they decide to change the rules every weekend with shuttle busses that don’t quite get there) to my very patient wise beyond her years vancity friend that i maybe i should quit performing because it’s always such a heart-wrenching affair, i had no idea the ’90s extravaganza that i was walking into.

who knew that jon b. could play the piano like that? but let’s back up a second-who knew that i would see jon b., intro, mr. cheeks and mya in 2015? and the hosts did a great job of keeping the crowd into it, though i’m pretty sure that jay martin recycled some of trix’ jokes from 2013. no matter, r&b reigns supreme.

but it was seeing fine-ass mya twenty years after i’d only watched her videos on tv come out in her leotard and blazer that was the reality check for me. because, fuck it if nobody every comes out to never see me for the first time, i cannot stop wanting to be on stage in a leotard and a blazer. in fact, mya and meena my cat baby that i have joint custody of (she’s the cat of my dreams that is the parallel of my current romantic relationship) are my current fitness idols.

i woke up late yesterday because i didn’t make it home until 4am. i watched a late quartet and cried because there are no coincidences. i returned it to library and picked up a pedometer-yup, i am counting steps. maybe it will be like duolingo-the recommended number of steps for an active lifestyle is 10,000 so i’m gunning for 30,000.

i stepped into the new starbucks on the corner and ran into one of my cross-country close but far friends, katie messina. i met her a decade ago, when we were in the same mental space of being tired of vancouver and feeling stifled in our creative careers. she specifically was saying how she didn’t want to be around people who didn’t support her. well, there are no accidents.

also-i wore canvas shoes yesterday. with no socks. hello spring, it’s nice to see you. and even though my team lost, i know it was in part due to the fact that refs #22, 40, and 61 need to stop the insanity, and because we chose not to rebound or defend any of their 3-point shooters, and i’m glad that derozan‘s shots are falling and that he’s getting to the line. let’s not get caught up with our placing in the standings because they don’t really matter-the playoffs do, and we’re going further this year. we don’t have to worry about beating any more of these dynamo teams in the west, because if it comes down to it, we’ll only be playing one of them. let’s also remember that we have exactly the same amount of recent playoff experience (if not more) than all of them-that’s the beauty of the nba this year-atlanta, memphis, portland, golden state, and us are in the same boat once the real season within the season begins. aw, yea…

now’s the time

“believe it or not, i can actually draw”

this was my favourite quote from the AGO’s basquiat exhibit-too bad it didn’t make a t-shirt. but there’s a lot that’s too bad about that exhibit in general. i walked out of it, pretty disappointed that i’d waited so long to see it, wondering if it’s the kind of thing that would’ve ever happened while he was alive.

but that’s the thing-we never know which of our creations will survive us, and who will control them. the only way we can guarantee that no fuckery can happen is not to create anything lasting. or, not show up when people who do create things show them.

art, like life, is not easy, and i think it’s important to note that people need to be a bit not right in the head to pour their hearts and souls into something that throws their entire sense of being into a tailspin that twarts time-months and years into 5 minutes or an hour-and it kind of fucking sucks when you dismiss it like something that you really wanted to pick up from the grocery store, but you just didn’t have the energy. we are not feta cheese-sometimes, you just can’t get it tomorrow.

one of the most important things i’ve learned from this whole experience is that i will check my personal choices on how i do or do not show up for people. i will consider that if i say i’m coming to something, i will show up. i’ve been pretty good about this, but i can always be better. if i can’t make it, i will not send a text message on the day of, because i will consider that the host may be receiving up to a dozen of the same messages-some up to ten minutes before she goes on stage, and this can be really disheartening.

finally, i will consider that if i miss too many life-changing and heart-wrenching moments in my friends’ lives, they may just choose to no longer invite me to them, and that will be perfectly justified. i’m really fucking tired of being with friends only on the internet. and it’s a double-edged sword if that same internet that’s supposed to connect us is used as a crutch.

i will celebrate those who did show up and keep their word, and those who did it in the surprise way-didn’t even tell me, just showed and proved. it’s not like it was a real comedy show that i was headlining when i would’ve gone on at 1am. or i played in fucking pickering. a ten-minute commute for a ten-minute set (which ended up being 6 minutes) is not too much to ask, but now i will go forward being more care-full who i ask. just expect that back-it’s only fair.

your text messages are like tipping a penny.

or having a MLK quote on loop while basquiat’s work is pinned and stretched like butterflies’ wings crucified on sterile white walls.

or the raptors losing to the oklahoma city westbrooks (or dood almost getting a quadruple-double with 9 turnovers) and the spurs on their late-season comeback tip.

out of time and superwack 3000, son.

this metrotextual morning

“i woke up, feeling brand new”

a true friend comes when you call, even if you haven’t spoken in a minute, holds space to support you, offers an out and a getaway car in case you want to fuck the whole thing and go eat crepes, and informs you after your first stand-up performance in a club that it was a full moon in virgo.

HYFR.

it figures. and yes, i took it to polio, malaria and domestic violence in a teeny bar full of people drinking (shoutout to not my dog for running the night and so graciously giving us so many spots). it was nice to get out of my own head and hear some jokes that haven’t been the same ones my classmates have been telling for the past 8 weeks. there were some celebs (of the toronto comedy world) there, and even a cassanova that i met from an old co-worker.

after the jokes, we caught up over noodles-choo choo train resto-bless your freakin’ heart. you’ve been the setting to so many of my best toronto encounters, including the jumpoff to the realization that i really wanted to live here. note to self-get contact lens solution to make home more inviting.

i woke up willingly for the first time in a long time, and the sun was shining. when i arrived at dufferin station, it was kind of like the apocalypse with people streaming out of the station due to a fire at lansdowne, and even thought it was after 8am, i figured that walking the two stations above ground wouldn’t set me back that far, and why not continue my great morning with some brisk exercise. it was sunny, and there’s something about all those people being above ground on bloor, the same ones that you’d see everyday but not even look at because you’re underground, that was really beauty-full. we were all signs of life, signs of choices, signs of being collectively fucked by the ttc, but we all got to where we were going, and as far as i know, it was not a very serious fire.

i jumped on the symington bus because it was there, and spoke to some lovely ladies about the morning, and one of them shared that she thought that the 40 was so much more frequent, which was interesting because waiting for the 40, i always see at least 5 symington buses pass by, most of them empty, so it truly is all about perspective.

i’m happy to say that things are looking up. my baby arrives today, and although i’m still ecstatic that the course will be over soon, i’m also looking forward to that performance a bit too. who knows, maybe my team will beat the hornets tonight, too.

jv-i see you. just like it took until this point in the season last year for me to be on board for lowry, i take my hat off to you, big science. way to make a lane for lebron to show himself further as the player and human that he truly is.

on a tuesday

it’s been a minute. i must say that this stand-up course has been taking a lot of my energy. that, and the pace at which i’ve been living and loving life. it’s been hard to come back from being completely spoiled in nyc, and you know, cooking my own breakfast and shit. but back to life, back to reality. there’s only one class before our performance, and i think i’m getting more relaxed because after that, it’s over. this doesn’t mean that i’ve been feeling any less guilt over my level of procrastination when it comes to preparing for class, but i have developed a kind of semi-regular routine when it comes to the time before.

i don’t sleep in after the radio show, rather i get up at the regular time to get my weekly coffee (second cup maple latte tuesday special, i see you!) early enough so that i have enough time to work it through my system, head to the scadding court ice rink to skate with the one old man who is keeping fit on tuesdays. i must’ve needed that skate, as i decided to do my check-in as a one-minute poem and make my jokes less personal because they’re not funny yet, they’re still tragic. i didn’t seem to notice until after i got off the ice that my feet were frozen almost to the point of hypothermia and they were actually burning, like my eyeballs used to in montreal when the water in them froze in the winter.

i defrosted in the sanderson library, one of my favourite branches, even though the washroom always smells like pee, even though no pee is visible, it’s like how mcdonald’s workers never can get the smell of fried out of their skin and hair. there’s a weird message written on the hand dryer there about seeing and police, and every time i look at it, i see something else.

dundas and bathurst is a good corner.

libraries used: sanderson, bloor & gladstone, annette

watching: six feet under-season one

duolingo progress: portuguese level 12, 2664 lingots

floor sample-julia cameron

“Missing a place creates a slow and constant ache. The body goes into mourning as if it had lost a lover.” (328)

“It wasn’t a fight. It was something worse than a fight: a declaration.” (231)

it seems so long ago that the artist’s way first surfaced on the radar, but i guess it’s like anything you become aware of, once you notice it-it’s like it’s always there. just look up in a tree for a plastic bag and try not to see one in every second tree that you pass after that. now that my affirmations are part of my work station, and morning pages are incorporated into my stand-up class, it only made sense to read the creative memoir of the artist behind the way.

“My friends have sometimes told me that I am too generous with men, but I have always found a genuine joy in service to art that has nothing to do with the men. There is a joy in being a believing mirror for someone else.” (333)

“Looking back, it is easy to see that our issues around the Artist’s Way indicated great differences in our personal identities. As an artist, I thought of the Artist’s Way as being like a work of art-it could stand on its own. As an entrepreneur, Mark thought of it as a brainchild that needed nurturing and guidance to be properly exploited.” (225)

“When I look at the photo now, I see it as emblematic of the trouble we were in. Like Kong, our trouble held us in its fist. Like Kong, it could crush us at any moment. Martin and I smile for the camera, but our smiles are death-row grins. It is easy in cozy retrospect to see the irony of the photograph. We were so young and in so desperately over our heads-cliches in the maw of Hollywood.” (66)

“In short, my playwriting was more successful than my romance.” (113)

it took me until the end to realize the common threads of the revolving connections between men and places, art and addiction, and occasional discord between happiness and “productivity”. the portrait on the back of the book is a bit terrifying, but i appreciated the frank and insight-full backstory behind the writer whom hunter s. thompson once told to get sober (yikes), and the woman and mother who did a great job doing the best that she could. many thanks for leaving a legacy, ms. cameron.

white privilege

when bitches complain about not having any money, call in sick for more shifts than they actually show up for, then have the audacity to go on sunny holiday “for only a week an a half” when they haven’t even worked a week and a half cumulatively. smh. and i’m the bad guy for wondering, “you still work here?”

standards is different.

sense of entitlement is a whole other animal.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.