Thursday, August 30, 2007


Setup day.
It's the worst day of the festival. It's when the complaints come in, when things fail to arrive as ordered, and when you work a fourteen hour day of lifting heavy objects and having to smile at the same time.
My day started at 7 am, when I walked down to Officer's Square to wait for the tent people, and didn't end until half an hour ago - over fourteen hours. Really, though, the pain that was today started some time ago and turned into a very long, jittery night last night, with very little sleep and lots of strange dreams. I was already sick with worry (literally) before they delivered the wrong size tent and no tables or chairs as ordered. I had to take a time out in the morning to take some Gravol and lay down before the craftspeople started arriving.
All told, though, even with more actual problems than last year, we have gotten so much better at this routine it was practically seamless. We had three helpers instead of five this year, and even so we had a lot of between-task time instead of madly dashing from crisis to crisis. We had everything staked and number by noon, and our new tents took no time at all, so we were able to do things like help Veit carry everything in. He's a blacksmith, and currently is five weeks into healing a broken collar bone, so we were doing as much of the heavy lifting as we could for him.
Festivals quickly bring the best and the worst out of people. John is in a good mood this weekend, and he joined Shasta and I in our usual late-setup-evening pizza party (dude has a weakness for garlic fingers). Resentment flies at the people who bail on the hard jobs and stressed vendors get worked up about every hole, bit of shade, or other minutiae of their 150 square feet of turf. When the intense flash thunderstorm rolled through with biblical magnitudes of rain and big cracking booms of thunder, people were so tense they just kept on unpacking and fretting, though standing in a soaking wet metal structure in the middle of a field.
People are weird.
My feet hurt.
Parallax is stalking a blueberry on the floor.
It's only the first day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

city ecology

1. We're still picking up Melrose Place, and have tentatively identified its owner via Limewire. We sort of vaguely know one of our neighbours from back in the day going to boom!, and he used to work for John Welling, and his apartment often wafts incense in the evenings and makes rainstick noises at me when I leave for work in the morning. Anyway, his Limewire account popped up on Sean's computer, meaning that he's either the proud momma or he's also stealing it.

BREAKING NEWS: Sean has just discovered that there is going to be a 4.0 edition D&D. On the one hand - oh god not more $50 sourcebooks. On the other, we tend to just download them now anyway, and Sean is salivating at the thought of new feats to break the game with.

Anyway. So while Britain has apparently arrested some guy for stealing his neighbour's wifi, the consensus on seems to be that it's the owner's responsibility to encrypt their wifi, as searching for networks is an automatic process and something 90% of internet users don't really know much about. Also, we're no longer in the age of paying for bandwidth in a major way.
But Sean and I are reasonably moral people, and as this allows us to not pay for our own equipment and/or internet, we're going to have a chat with our neighbour and see about giving him money in exchange for not locking us out. I like it.

2. So I've been celebrating our newfound internet opportunity with lots and lots of catching up on blogs, and webcomics, and so on. I check things furtively at work in the early morning but there's nothing quite like being able to dig into these things shamelessly with both hands. I have a new blog that makes me happy - - and things are just generally brighter and happier with internet.

3. No pictures yet, because I went and bought batteries at the Victory Meat Market and they came pre-drained for my convenience. Boo.

4. Sometimes, if my sleep rhythms are off enough, I wake up when the birds outside start their chirping and cawing. I'm not sure why birds sleep outside here, particularly, unless they are making rock nests in the gravel that always seems to be on top of buildings. Yet, at four in the morning, there are the sounds of everything from standard city pigeons (cooing) and crows (cawing) to more complex trill and squeaks of bird I don't really identify. Today, though, there were weird trillings and chirpings that seemed to me, in my dreamlike haze, to be way outside the normal for Canadian songbirds, especially those that might be interested in sleeping quarters on the roofs of downtown Fredericton. Does someone have a cage of exotic finches and lovebirds in the window of their apartment? or are there possibly escaped exotics lodging with the pigeons up there? Who knows.
Parallax seemed to sleep through it, but Tonks was wide-eyed and leaping about in excitement. It's so nice having two cats again.

Postscript: and by "have a chat with", I meant "Facestalk and send a message":

Saturday, August 25, 2007

god bless melrose place

1. I'm sitting in my living room, on the internet. How is this possible? This morning we just sort of noticed that there was now an unlocked, full strength wireless network available called Melrose Place. Please, please let it remain available.

2. Let's see. This week was very, very busy at work. Shasta is at her new job at Downtown Fredericton at the moment, and is coming back probably Tuesday for the festival madness, and I hadn't realized, but a lot of the things I thought she was doing for the festival kind of went by the wayside as she was teaching Amy how to do her job, so I suddenly had rather a lot to do. Last minute additions, drop outs, bookings, permits, and corrections have left me tired and twitching a little.
On Wednesday I found myself heading up to Miramichi with Cora Woolsey, my fellow anthropology student and also the lead singer of Vetch, a band playing at the festival. It was a fun drive, and we got to play archaeologist in the lab so the dignitaries at the Metepenagiag Heritage Centre Opening could see what the fishbowl-like lab is for. It was a long ceremony to be standing out in the sun listening to speeches for, but we were treated to catered "traditional foods" afterward like miniature fiddlehead quiche and mooselaki (marinated moose bits on a stick). An interesting trip, with a sort of shadow cast over it by the loss of my purse for a couple days because of a mixup with the rental cars.
Pics, courtesy of Cora's Facebook:
The Metepenagiag Heritage Centre.

Me, looking at Anne (yes, Anne from Mexico) in the lab, as Sue rushes out the door.

Dancers performing after the speeches and so on.

3. Sean is also having a stressful week on a couple of levels. His job situation, which has been stressful all summer both because of minor clashes with his manager and unbelievably bad scheduling that left him working almost every day and yet only getting 25 hours per week, has come to a head. On Tuesday they came to a mutual termination agreement and he'll be finished working there as of this coming Tuesday. On the plus side, at least he'll be able to work the festival for me. I think it's possible that he is making as much with NBCC as he is with Bejewel this month.
Shock #2 came this morning. Because of some issues with courses in the winter semester, and his disastrous first year six years ago, he's not going to be able to get a student loan this year (he's on suspension until next year) and this morning he learned that he's not going to be able to get a line of credit, either. So. There's not really any question of being able to find a job, because looking for fulltime work has never been that much of a problem for him; his best case scenario is getting the full time jewelry position in the Bejewel workshop, which is possible. We haven't discussed it much because the shock is a bit much at this point, but I imagine we'll be able to at least work it out so he can take an intro course in the evenings to keep his admission to UNB and stay in touch with the academic world.
So. A pretty crappy week, honestly. Except for Melrose Place.

4. In other news, I finished the green pair of plain stockingette socks I was making, and am making some blue Monkeys. Pics as soon as I buy batteries for the camera...

5. Pics from the barbecue party two weeks ago:Matt.


Porter and Porter's hat.


Will and Kevin watching Sean play with the barbecue on the roof.

Sara and me.

6. Pics from the setup of Elements:

Silas and Amy.

The mess.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

the chill of fall

1. It's officially the first day that people have starting wearing light sweaters and it's felt like back-to-school season, like waiting for the bus, like cracking new $100+ textbooks, like watching the leaves turning a little more every day when I walk back down the hill, and maybe picking up some potatoes and onions at the grocery store on the way so I can make corn chowder or minestrone. I'm spending the day in Reads, downloading knitting patterns to get me through. I need to finish a spectacular, life-changing cardigan before mid-September, I think.

2. Sean's away for the weekend; he left right after work yesterday with Matt and Porter, gone to visit his mom in the Cove. I wish I could have gone with him, but I can't in all good conscience take tomorrow off of work. There's a lot to do this week. I want everything not already nailed down absolutely done before Shasta comes back next week.
I spent last night watching chick flicks (Bridget Jones' Diary, oh yes) and hanging out with the cats and eating junk food. It's a nice way to pass the time, but I would really like to have a whole weekend of hanging out with Sean someday soon. It hasn't happened in about two months now, and it's sort of tiresome.
To break up the bland but fun atmosphere last night, I had some unexpected visitors on the roof again, which is more than a little freaky when home alone with no internet (I never realized what a safety blanket MSN can be). I suspect they were the same drunk, well-intentioned goons as on Canada Day and the following weekend; they hurried past from the stairs to the fence and scaled the fence without comment, but on the way back obviously had an attack of conscience and stopped to apologize through the window for spooking me, and to thank me for not calling the cops. I smiled and asked them to please stop tromping drunkenly across my fire escape, and they said I had very clever cats, probably cleverer than them, and left. Sort of surreal, but as friendly a trespassing experience one is likely to have.

3. I spent a little while this afternoon trying to upload photos of the fire escape barbecue and the Elements setup to Facebook, but it didn't go very well, as Frednet is a little slow right now. I'm refilling my stock of eBooks and knitting patterns, and chatted briefly with Erica (she is well, though bored of Brampton, and is back at Yves Rocher instead of the profitable but heinous call centre life). So I'm going to try to upload them to this entry, but if that won't work I'll get them off Facebook tomorrow and post them from work, where my internet access is much better.

4. This past week was a blur of more people for the show and more work to do. Detail work, mainly. On Friday we went on a field trip to poster, drop off postcards at the postal outlet for unaddressed admail and drop off financials at the financial people's office. I was in the back of the car, and amused myself by reading Shasta's copy of Style. Apparently being super-connected is out, but twitter is so hot right now, as are capes. I kid you not. I'm getting me a cape. Also, if you care, crushed ice is out; a single large, sculptural chunk of ice is the drink-cooling method of choice. I love it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

busy days for a lame blogger

1. Yes, okay, I'm lame for not writing. Doubly so because my batteries are dead, so I have no photographic evidence for the past two weeks (I'll post them tomorrow). But I'll write anyway. It's all been covered blow-by-blow on the twitter feed.
  • Picking up more or less from where I left off, we had a very busy weekend with Will, his roommate Kevin, Sara, and her boyfriend Scotty. Sara and Scotty came up Saturday afternoon, and we quickly found that we have more in common than ever (literally) and decided to ask Will and Kevin over so they could cook their half-cow they brought up from Ontario (they had originally planned to camp and barbecue a lot). We set up the barbecue on the fire escape, and were just finishing up the ribs when Matt and Porter unexpectedly showed up, making it a very full house indeed.
  • The next day, we sent Scotty home on the bus to see his family, and Sara and I had lunch at the Fox and visited the BAG so she could see our famous gigantic Dali. In the evening, Sean stayed with Matt and Porter and apparently had a great time playing D&D (a rare treat these days) while Sara and I joined Will, Kevin, Amanda, and Julia at Mactequac Provincial Park to camp overnight. Despite some really incompetent fire building, we had a terrific time.
  • On Monday, I slept. Sean got a tattoo.
  • Tuesday, Sean and I got up early and rushed about getting ready to leave for Moncton, and met Amy and Silas at the NBCC offices to load the enormous cube van and drive up to the Delta Beausejour. It took us until 9 pm to finish most of setup; we did take a break to go to Jungle Jim's. The food was copious and reasonably okay, but the veggies and dip and blackberry merlot we had at our debriefing at the Chateau Moncton afterwards was better. The Chateau is rather nice - distinctive room decor. I've gotten really used to cheap hotels, between archaeology and Mexico, so government accommodations are a pleasant change.
  • On Wednesday, we had our continental breakfast and then went back to the Delta to continue setting up. I'm glossing over a lot of operational hiccups in the process of setting up, but we were seriously sick of sliding plinths around by noon, when we finished up and adjourned to Chan's for some really standard, yummy Canadian-Chinese buffet. We are people of simple taste. We passed a few hours in the late-summer sales at the mall before heading over to the Delta for 5 to be very, very ready for the official opening of the conference. The food! I wish I could have been a real tourist and taken pictures, but there were sailboats of shrimp, and stuffed salmon, and pork loin sandwiches, and white chocolate & lobster canapes, and handcrafted fruit wines and beer. And, of course, herds of politicians. A delegate from Alberta talked to Sean about Acadians and lobsters for half an hour, and the premiers were drifting around (though none drifted over to us). About fifteen craftspeople showed, which was a lot of fun, because a lot of them I hadn't met before, like Adeline and Ghita, and they seemed to have a lot of fun. I wish I could have taken a picture of Peter Powning (this year's Saidye Bronfman Award winner) chatting with Lee Clark (one of our slightly eccentric young stars).
  • Thursday was a lot longer, and quieter, bordering on mind-numbingly boring. We sold a couple of things, but the only real highlights of the day were free food. In the evening, we went to a really amazing pasta place called Pastalli, and I discovered that I don't much like anchovies in my pasta, but the pasta was so good it didn't matter anyway. We bought a couple of cheap DVDs and watched Bandits (hilarious; I recommend for a silly evening).
  • Friday, we checked out and started the long process of packing things up and coming home. I'll gloss over the technical aspects, but it was 5 pm before we got back to Fredericton. Sean had to run to work, and we unpacked the van for an hour before finally calling it a day and going home. I was exhausted, and fell asleep; Porter randomly showed up, and I managed to wake up long enough to let him in and say hello before crawling back into bed.
  • The weekend was very, very quiet. Matt visited briefly, but otherwise I can't even remember much of the weekend.
  • Last night Danielle came over for dinner and knitting lessons. Sean roasted garlic and baguettes for an appetizer, and we had a vegan red sauce on farfalle. Simply terrific. I made a coconut cream pie and forgot about it until today. The knitting lessons went much better than last time; Danielle can now knit, purl, and rib, with freakishly perfect tension. She had one hole in her learning swatch and was horrified. I'm glad she didn't see mine.
2. So work is chugging along slowly. We have 45 people, and almost everything is done... I'm so tired of thinking of it right now!

3. This week, we're cleaning and trying to set things right around the house. We're going to go to the BAG so Sean can see the show at some point, and thought about taking some time next week to visit his parents because he has time off, but realistically? They'll just call him in anyway, so why bother. On Wednesday, I'm going to Miramichi with Sue to the opening of the Metepenagiag Heritage Centre, so I can dust off my Archaeology Student persona a bit, and on Thursday we're meeting a reporter who is doing a feature on the Fredericton show...
Busy days. But really, the best thing about the past few days is that Tonks is walking around like normal instead of hiding; she was playing with Parallax when I left for work this morning.

Friday, August 03, 2007

attn Miramichi: tie down your cows

1. The weather is still blisteringly hot and sticky, with the added bonus of a vicious thunderstorm warning in effect, with a tornado warning for Miramichi (a good long way from here). The office is oppressively hot.

2. Last night I went out to see apartments with Will and discuss his various apartment options, and then we met up with Amanda (from the Mexico trip) and her friend Ruben, and Kristine (from the Belize trip), and Kevin, Will's roommate who has traveled here with him. We ended up spending the evening socializing on the patio at Dolan's, a pub in the Tannery, and just generally had a fun evening. A friend of Amanda's named Julia showed up partway through and has kindly lent me an air mattress for Sara and her boyfriend to sleep on (Julia keeps it in her truck in case she can't drive home, which is a rather smart idea).
This morning I got up early and met Danielle for early morning coffee, conversation, and catsitting instructions. She's going to Sean's parents' house to dogsit while they're away, and while her own cats (Frank and Mr. Bennett) are going to be sat by someone else, I'm taking over a catsitting job she's been doing for a little while. The cat is named Kiki, and she is a big fluffy cat who is only a little spoiled. She's a sweetheart, actually.

3. This week has been stressful at work for a number of reasons, but this weekend is going to be what you might call intense non-stress activity. Will is visiting, so I may end up doing something social this evening, and tomorrow Sara and her boyfriend are showing up at some point to stay the night and see some of Fredericton. Sunday night, when Sean is done work, we may be randomly going camping out in Mactequac for the night - Will has camping gear and I really want to go camping at some point this summer, even if it must be Mactequac.

4. Next week is the Elements show! If you want to see the pieces or the catalogue that Amy laboured over, go here (the gallery displays when you click on the picture that says Elements). There's some nice work in there.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

a reprint for my demographic

This morning, while waiting for the coffee situation to resolve itself, I wandered into this little essay, recommended by my favourite CBC writer (Katrina Onstad, the last writer in this article), written as the addendum to an email from an interviewer, by a writer named David Eggers. It's priceless, because I have been to parties with twenty people who won't admit to liking Feist now that she's gone mainstream indy, or to owning and enjoying Weezer albums, or to watching So You Think You Can Dance (though they'll admit to loving the Transformers movie, because 80's cartoons are so retrochic at the moment). I'm reprinting, as it were, the addendum, in this space because I would reprint it in the student newspaper if I could but I can't because I don't work for them. So here goes. The original text is here.

[...] You actually asked me the question: "Are you taking any steps to keep shit real?" I want you always to look back on this time as being a time when those words came out of your mouth.

Now, there was a time when such a question - albeit probably without the colloquial spin - would have originated from my own brain. Since I was thirteen, sitting in my orange-carpeted bedroom in ostensibly cutting-edge Lake Forest, Illinois, subscribing to the Village Voice and reading the earliest issues of Spin, I thought I had my ear to the railroad tracks of avant garde America. (Laurie Anderson, for example, had grown up only miles away!) I was always monitoring, with the most sensitive and well-calibrated apparatus, the degree of selloutitude exemplified by any given artist - musical, visual, theatrical, whatever. I was vigilant and merciless and knew it was my job to be so.

I bought R.E.M.'s first EP, Chronic Town, when it came out and thought I had found God. I loved Murmur, Reckoning, but then watched, with greater and greater dismay, as this obscure little band's audience grew, grew beyond obsessed people like myself, grew to encompass casual fans, people who had heard a song on the radio and picked up Green and listened for the hits. Old people liked them, and stupid people, and my moron neighbor who had sex with truck drivers. I wanted these phony R.E.M.-lovers dead.

But it was the band's fault, too. They played on Letterman. They switched record labels. Even their album covers seemed progressively more commercial. And when everyone I knew began liking them, I stopped. Had they changed, had their commitment to making art with integrity changed? I didn't care, because for me, any sort of popularity had an inverse relationship with what you term the keeping 'real' of 'shit.' When the Smiths became slightly popular they were sellouts. Bob Dylan appeared on MTV and of course was a sellout. Recently, just at dinner tonight, after a huge, sold-out reading by David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell (both sellouts), I was sitting next to an acquaintance, a very smart acquaintance married to the singer-songwriter of a very well-known band. I mentioned that I had seen the Flaming Lips the night before. She rolled her eyes. "Oh I really liked them on 90210," she sneered, assuming that this would put me and the band in our respective places.


Was she aware that The Flaming Lips had composed an album requiring the simultaneous playing of four separate discs, on four separate CD players? Was she aware that the band had once, for a show at Lincoln Center, handed out to audience members something like 100 portable tape players, with 100 different tapes, and had them all played at the same time, creating a symphonic sort of effect, one which completely devastated everyone in attendance? I went on and on to her about the band's accomplishments, their experiments. Was she convinced that they were more than their one appearance with Jason Priestly? She was.

Now, at that concert the night before, Wayne Coyne, the lead singer, had himself addressed this issue, and to great effect. After playing much of their new album, the band paused and he spoke to the audience. I will paraphrase what he said:

"Hi. Well, some people get all bitter when some song of theirs gets popular, and they refuse to play it. But we're not like that. We're happy that people like this song. So here it goes."

Then they played the song. (You know the song.) "She Don't Use Jelly" is the song, and it is a silly song, and it was their most popular song. But to highlight their enthusiasm for playing the song, the band released, from the stage and from the balconies, about 200 balloons. (Some of the balloons, it should be noted, were released by two grown men in bunny suits.) Then while playing the song, Wayne sang with a puppet on his hand, who also sang into the microphone. It was fun. It was good.

But was it a sellout? Probably. By some standards, yes. Can a good band play their hit song? Should we hate them for this? Probably, probably. First 90210, now they go playing the song every stupid night. Everyone knows that 90210 is not cutting edge, and that a cutting edge alternarock band should not appear on such a show. That rule is clearly stated in the obligatory engrained computer-chip sellout manual that we were all given when we hit adolescence.

But this sellout manual serves only the lazy and small. Those who bestow sellouthood upon their former heroes are driven to do so by, first and foremost, the unshakable need to reduce. The average one of us - a taker-in of various and constant media, is absolutely overwhelmed - as he or she should be - with the sheer volume of artistic output in every conceivable medium given to the world every day - it is simply too much to begin to process or comprehend - and so we are forced to try to sort, to reduce. We designate, we label, we diminish, we create hierarchies and categories.

Through largely received wisdom, we rule out Tom Waits's new album because it's the same old same old, and we save $15. U2 has lost it, Radiohead is too popular. Country music is bad, Puff Daddy is bad, the last Wallace book was bad because that one reviewer said so. We decide that TV is bad unless it's the Sopranos. We liked Rick Moody and Jonathan Lethem and Jeffrey Eugenides until they allowed their books to become movies. And on and on. The point is that we do this and to a certain extent we must do this. We must create categories, and to an extent, hierarchies.

But you know what is easiest of all? When we dismiss.

Oh how gloriously comforting, to be able to write someone off. Thus, in the overcrowded pantheon of alternarock bands, at a certain juncture, it became necessary for a certain brand of person to write off The Flaming Lips, despite the fact that everyone knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that their music was superb and groundbreaking and real. We could write them off because they shared a few minutes with Jason Priestley and that terrifying Tori Spelling person. Or we could write them off because too many magazines have talked about them. Or because it looked like the bassist was wearing too much gel in his hair.

One less thing to think about. Now, how to kill off the rest of our heroes, to better make room for new ones?

We liked Guided by Voices until they let Ric Ocasek produce their latest album, and everyone knows Ocasek is a sellout, having written those mushy Cars songs in the late 80s, and then - gasp! - produced Weezer's album, and of course Weezer's no good, because that Sweater song was on the radio, right, and dorky teenage girls were singing it and we cannot have that and so Weezer is bad and Ocasek is bad and Guided by Voices are bad, even if Spike Jonze did direct that one Weezer video, and we like Spike Jonze, don't we?

Oh. No. We don't. We don't like him anymore because he's married to Sofia Coppola, and she is not cool. Not cool. So bad in Godfather 3, such nepotism. So let's check off Spike Jonze - leaving room in our brains for… who??

It's exhausting.

The only thing worse than this sort of activity is when people, students and teachers alike, run around college campuses calling each other racists and anti-Semites. It's born of boredom, lassitude. Too cowardly to address problems of substance where such problems actually are, we claw at those close to us. We point to our neighbor, in the khakis and sweater, and cry foul. It's ridiculous. We find enemies among our peers because we know them better, and their proximity and familiarity means we don't have to get off the couch to dismantle them.

And now, I am also a sellout. Here are my sins, many of which you may know about already:

First, I was a sellout because Might magazine took ads.
Then I was a sellout because our pages were color, and not stapled together at the Kinko's.
Then I was a sellout because I went to work for Esquire.
Now I'm a sellout because my book has sold many copies.
And because I have done many interviews.
And because I have let people take my picture.
And because my goddamn picture has been in just about every fucking magazine and newspaper printed in America.

And now, as far as McSweeney's is concerned, The Advocate interviewer wants to know if we're losing also our edge, if the magazine is selling out, hitting the mainstream, if we're still committed to publishing unknowns, and pieces killed by other magazines.

And the fact is, I don't give a fuck. When we did the last issue, this was my thought process: I saw a box. So I decided we'd do a box. We were given stories by some of our favorite writers - George Saunders, Rick Moody (who is uncool, uncool!), Haruki Murakami, Lydia Davis, others - and so we published them. Did I wonder if people would think we were selling out, that we were not fulfilling the mission they had assumed we had committed ourselves to?

No. I did not. Nor will I ever. We just don't care. We care about doing what we want to do creatively. We want to be interested in it. We want it to challenge us. We want it to be difficult. We want to reinvent the stupid thing every time. Would I ever think, before I did something, of how those with sellout monitors would respond to this or that move? I would not. The second I sense a thought like that trickling into my brain, I will put my head under the tires of a bus.

You want to know how big a sellout I am?

A few months ago I wrote an article for Time magazine and was paid $12,000 for it I am about to write something, 1,000 words, 3 pages or so, for something called Forbes ASAP, and for that I will be paid $6,000 For two years, until five months ago, I was on the payroll of ESPN magazine, as a consultant and sometime contributor. I was paid handsomely for doing very little. Same with my stint at Esquire. One year I spent there, with little to no duties. I wore khakis every day. Another Might editor and I, for almost a year, contributed to Details magazine, under pseudonyms, and were paid $2000 each for what never amounted to more than 10 minutes work - honestly never more than that. People from Hollywood want to make my book into a movie, and I am probably going to let them do so, and they will likely pay me a great deal of money for the privilege.

Do I care about this money? I do. Will I keep this money? Very little of it. Within the year I will have given away almost a million dollars to about 100 charities and individuals, benefiting everything from hospice care to an artist who makes sculptures from Burger King bags. And the rest will be going into publishing books through McSweeney's. Would I have been able to publish McSweeney's if I had not worked at Esquire? Probably not. Where is the $6000 from Forbes going? To a guy named Joe Polevy, who wants to write a book about the effects of radiator noise on children in New England.

Now, what if I were keeping all the money? What if I were buying property in St. Kitt's or blew it all on live-in prostitutes? What if, for example, I was, a few nights ago, sitting at a table in SoHo with a bunch of Hollywood slash celebrity acquaintances, one of whom I went to high school with, and one of whom was Puff Daddy? Would that make me a sellout? Would that mean I was a force of evil?

What if a few nights before that I was at the home of Julian Schnabel, at a party featuring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, and at which Schnabel said we should get together to talk about him possibly directing my movie? And what if I said sure, let's?

Would all that make me a sellout? Would I be uncool? Would it have been more cool to not go to this party, or to not have written that book, or done that interview, or to have refused millions from Hollywood?

The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it's corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I'll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no's you've said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.

There is a point in one's life when one cares about selling out and not selling out. One worries whether or not wearing a certain shirt means that they are behind the curve or ahead of it, or that having certain music in one's collection means that they are impressive, or unimpressive.

Thankfully, for some, this all passes. I am here to tell you that I have, a few years ago, found my way out of that thicket of comparison and relentless suspicion and judgment. And it is a nice feeling. Because, in the end, no one will ever give a shit who has kept shit 'real' except the two or three people, sitting in their apartments, bitter and self-devouring, who take it upon themselves to wonder about such things. The keeping real of shit matters to some people, but it does not matter to me. It's fashion, and I don't like fashion, because fashion does not matter.

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips's new album is ravishing and I've listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who's up and who's down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

I say yes, and Wayne Coyne says yes, and if that makes us the enemy, then good, good, good. We are evil people because we want to live and do things. We are on the wrong side because we should be home, calculating which move would be the least damaging to our downtown reputations. But I say yes because I am curious. I want to see things. I say yes when my high school friend tells me to come out because he's hanging with Puffy. A real story, that. I say yes when Hollywood says they'll give me enough money to publish a hundred different books, or send twenty kids through college. Saying no is so fucking boring.

And if anyone wants to hurt me for that, or dismiss me for that, for saying yes, I say Oh do it, do it you motherfuckers, finally, finally, finally.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


1. Almost a week without a peep again! I know. Summers without internet are hard.

2. Let's see. On the weekend we had an unexpected visit from Matt and Porter again, so there was much video gaming and geekdom. On Saturday I went up to the mall to look into a booster for our internet, but the condescending computer store dudes have this thing where they see me and think they can sell me anything they want and I won't know any better. No, I don't want a USB wireless booster, I want something for my router. No, I don't want your $300 router. Ugh.
But I walked home in the crushing heat, stopping on the way to pick up a dozen bagels at the Great Canadian Bagel (well worth it) and to discover a terrific sale at Fabricville. I've got ambitious plans about sewing sundresses, but it's hard to cut out things with dull scissors and no pins, so I have to hunt before I can start.

3. Sunday night Sean and I watched the entire Pirates of the Caribbean series, which is an undertaking of note. The third one was quite good, though unexpected surreal in bits and bittersweet at the end. I want one of those little crabs.

4. This week has been quiet at work, in ways. I've been working on a new splash screen for the NBCC based on the LCBO splash, and doing small tasks for Fredericton. The show next week in Moncton is all but ready, and the board meeting tonight is looking to be relatively peaceful.
In the evenings we haven't been up to much; Monday was a quiet night of reading, and last night we had Danielle over. I was supposed to teach her how to knit, but we ended up chatting and telling stories until well past 1 without picking up the needles. Maybe soon? In any case, she's excited, because Sean's mom has finally decided to take her on (probably) as her apprentice in her pottery next summer! It should work out really, really well.

5. My new favourite toy is twitter. You can see that little block in the top right of my blog - it is a feed from twitter, updated from Google Talk, or twitter, or my phone. It'll be updated far more frequently than the blog, mainly because it's faster.

6. Today: work, board meeting, cafe opening downstairs. Tomorrow: Will is coming up on an apartment-hunting trip, so we're hanging out tomorrow. This weekend: preparing for Beausejour and entertaining Sara Squires, a friend from high school, and her boyfriend. She's on a cross country couch surfing trip and is on her way home to Hali.

7. Picture of the week: we paid $75 for this picture from the Gleaner. Cute as buttons. It'll be on the Fredericton advertising. The clay man is one of Helen's (Sean's mom).

8. AND! Last but certainly not least, many birthday wishes for Scott.