Friday, September 10, 2010

Pleasure music for departures

My friend Tara, who's leaving to study/write at St. Andrew's on a Scotland Saltire Scholarship in a week or two posted the little ditty below not too long ago. To provide a little bit of background to this passage the hints, allegations and things left unsaid all point to Tara staying in Scotland/Europe for a very long time.


"It is music for exile, for the preparations, the significations of departure, for the symptoms of migration. It is the languishing music of picking through your belongings and deciding what to take. It is the two a.m. music of smelling and caressing books none of which you can carry--books you leave behind with friends who say they’ll always be here when you want them when you need them--music for a bowl of apples sitting on your table, apples you have not yet eaten, apples you cannot take--you know they have apples there in that other place but not these apples, not apples like these-- You eat your last native apple and stare at what your life is reduced to--all the things you can stick into a sack. It will be cold, you will need boots, you don’t own boots except these rubber ones--will they do? You pack them, you pack a letter from a friend so you will not feel too alone.

Music for final goodbyes for one last drink and a quick hug as you cram your cigarettes into your pocket and run to the bus, you run, run, your chest heaves, like the bellows of the bandoneon. You try to watch intently to emblazon in your mind these streets, these corners, those houses, the people, the smells, even the lurching bus fills you with a kind of stupid happiness and regret-- Music for the things you left behind in that room: a dress, magazines, some drawings, two pairs of shoes and blouses too old to be worn any more . . . four perfect apples.

Music for cold nights under incomprehensible stars, for cups of coffee and cigarette smoke, for a long walk by the river where you might be alone or you might meet someone. It is music for encounters in shabby stairways, the music of lovemaking in a narrow bed, the tendernesses, the caress, the pull of strong arms and legs.

Music for your invisibility . . .

Music for a day in the fall when you buy a new coat and think perhaps you will live here for the rest of your life, perhaps it will be possible, you have changed so much, would they recognize you? would you recognize your country? would you recognize yourself?"

-- from Fronteras Americanas, by Guillermo Verdecchia

Pretty good eh?


In 1993 his one-man show, Fronteras Americanas, premiered at the Tarragon Theatre ’s Extra Space. It was subsequently produced at Festival de Theatre des Amériques (now Festival TransAmériques ) in Montreal, then remounted on Tarragon’s main stage, before moving to the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Vancouver Playhouse . In all of the productions Verdecchia played himself and his alter-ego, Wideload, a flamboyant Latino stereotype. The play is an attempt to resist the objectification effected by naming in terms of race and place through the formation of an “oppositional consciousness.” The Verdecchia persona reflects on his experiences as an immigrant to Canada. He provides a history lesson on the diaspora of “Latin” peoples in order to construct for himself an historical context. Ironically when he returns “home” to Argentina, and he again finds himself an outsider. Wideload comments sarcastically on his reception by a “Saxon” population and contrasts the physical and sexual makeup of a “Latino” with that of a “Saxon.” In the concluding episode, the character Verdecchia asserts that he is building a house on the border, and challenges the audience to consider and celebrate the rich ethnic makeup of those who call Canada home. Fronteras Americanas won a Chalmers Award and a Governor General’s Award . Verdecchia also wrote and starred in a short film adaptation of Fronteras Americanas, called Crucero/Crossroads, which played at film festivals around the world and received nine international awards.


Anyway, the passage reminded me of the following song, music for pleasure by Departure Lounge. I couldn't find the song or lyrics anywhere online so I uploaded them to YouTube and here. I'm not 100% sure about the lyrics as I embrace a biased ear, but they should be close enough.

Departure Lounge - Music for pleasure

Stamp my ticket, pull my plug
I'm tuning out and I'm turning off
I'm not the hero that I thought I was

I don't want to be up there looking down
everything is small from far away
I want to see you up close again

Tap my wire, feed my line
pull me out of my frozen mind
gotta get back into the world outside
music for pleasure

Cover your ears, count to three,
you'll need a torch if you're following me.
I need some air and a new routine
plus some device to help me
stay in touch with how I feel.

Tap my wire, feed my line
pull me out of my frozen mind
gonna get these puppet strings untied
I'm not another broken fairground ride
if your heart is empty, open wide.

Tap my wire, feed my line
pull me out of my frozen mind
I'm going to leave that joker I was behind
music for pleasure.

No more pressure, no more pain,
no more struggle for hollow gain
I want to feel like I'm alive again
Older and wiser
be nice to each other
music for pleasure


Reading and comparing the two passages, at first glance they don't seem to click quite right. I mean, on the surface you have the music, the travel, the transportation of oneself and the sense of the journey, lack of a home. But something just doesn't click, right? There is a complexity to Verdecchia's passage that DL just can't come close to. They are quite obviously not in the same league. The personal examples, the consumption and assimilation of loss, memories and movement.

And then, at least for me, the two passages do click. I feel they are expressing similar feelings in slightly different ways, perhaps emotions connected to a far away place, thing, or even person. Something that you wish you could keep forever but know you probably shouldn't (for the better of you) and really can't in any real sense anyway. If it does come back it won't be the same, which is a good thing; it'll be different and better. A new, fresh start after a disappearance, whether you like it or not. At least, that's the way I interpreted it!

This song is easily in my top 15. Not only is it melodic, but I do love the simple and vague electrically and mechanically related lyrics.


"I need some air and a new routine
plus some device to help me
stay in touch with how I feel.

Tap my wire, feed my line
pull me out of my frozen mind
gonna get these puppet strings untied
I'm not another broken fairground ride
if your heart is empty, open wide."


Basically I've found I love any lyrics to do with wire transmissions (as receivers and as senders: as the transmission goes down the wire you need repeaters or the intended message slowly fades away type analogies... ) and broken, under maintained, neglected mechanical equipment, but that's another story all together.

Listening to this song my mind instantly flashes back 7-8-9 years ago, driving my 1997 silver Acura down a black highway, simultaneously travelling away from and toward loved things and ones.

First two classes of law school

So had my first two official law school classes yesterday and my overall impression is that it is going to be fucking amazing. There are obviously going to be some challenges, and maybe not the ones one may instantly think of. What I mean is that personally I'm not worried about the work load, exams, or the written aspect of detailing information to match up the law, cases and the facts. What I'm more worried about, and need to get better at is to be able to (to learn to) get out of my head and coherently express myself and these ideas verbally in a quick, strategic, and systematic manner. To be a bit more precise, I tend to be able to form a logical, well thought out and expressed argument on paper, but when it comes to verbal communication I tend to get stuck in my head a bit.

That's the long term goal (always has been for a bit now.. ) and that's something that Queen's seems to emphasize with the small classes and their omnipresent Socratic teaching. The profs seem to be emphasizing the absolute requirement to make mistakes in class discussions, with marks coming only based on written exams. I'm kinda digging that right now and am looking forward to the personal challenge of trying and fucking up.

Anyway, first class of the day was Property Law. Our homework for this first class was to watch this YouTube clip:


1) "Tell us why?!" Should they have to tell him why?
2) "Who gave you the right to exclude the population?!" Pretty loaded question...
3) "We want to get into the Eaton Centre, it is a public place!" Rights associated with services...

anyway, neat stuff. And not to bore you too bad with anymore but there seems to be 6 general types of property law, with the major distinctions being real estate, personal property, intangibles (stocks and bonds), intellectual, infrastructure and you as a person property. That last one garnered the most attention with examples of tattoos on foreheads, kidney selling vs. donating, and slavery coming into play; basically it's all about drawing a line somewhere.. what should the legal system endorse and what should it condemn. That ambiguity is where good lawyers shine, apparently.

blah, blah, blah..

Other interesting things touched upon in this first class was a definition of property. The take home message was that it came down to not necessarily something that you own or possess but is actually your claims, entitlements, duties and rights associated with the object/issue in question). Moreover, it was touched on that property is something you can potentially give away or sell, so your SIN may not actually be "your property".

Ok, second class was Torts and we started to get into the rules associated with statutory interpretation, the type of thing I think I want to get into. I'll avoid details as I don't think you care, but we played a fun game of interpreting the hypothetical sign "No vehicles in the park". As you can probably guess, different types of "vehicles" were brought up and debated whether they were covered by the sign/law/rule and why and how, and how would one defend each side... and yes, of course bicycle came up!.. along with child buggy, lawn mower, electric wheelchair, ambulance and limo drivers.. all interesting to dissect intent of law vs. learning and being aware of the leaps one is allowed to make in the process of defending your prosecutor or defendant role.

Anyway, near the end of the class the prof emphasized that mistakes should be made in class, learn the skills not the content (not rote memorization), have some fun with these discussions to keep up your interest, keep it simple as laws contain ambiguity and fundamental questions are the best way to work within that ambiguity, that profs are just tour guides and not the be all and end alls, and finally he mentioned that questions on course content could only be asked in class in front of the rest of the class. This is designed to get people talking and to get comfortable with making mistakes.

Pretty great first day, and no more about classes cuz re-reading this it's boring me.

Oh, one last thing.. met with my upper year buddy who eased my mind a bit about summary techniques, work load, exams, future job prospects, and profs, and also hooked me up with some used books. I'm not sure to what extent this happens at other law schools but Queen's is really looking like the right choice for me...

Gladstone's voice

I liked this article in/from Kottke and decided to explore it a bit:

So, this Gladstone fellow...

William Gladstone was very nearly Abraham Lincoln's exact contemporary, both born in 1809 (Lincoln was 10 months older), only he was born in Liverpool, not Kentucky. He was a legendary orator and liberal lion, like an approximation of Lincoln and Ted Kennedy. He served as a member of parliament for almost 50 years, including as Prime Minster four times, before retiring in 1894. (Could you imagine if Lincoln had lived until 1894?)

In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four times (1868–1874, 1880–1885, February–July 1886 and 1892–1894), more than any other person. Gladstone was 84 years old - still physically vigorous albeit with failing hearing and eyesight - when he resigned for the last time, making him Britain's oldest Prime Minister.

He also had a great nickname: G.O.M., for "Grand Old Man." His Tory counterpart Disraeli called him "God's Only Mistake."

no, not G.O.B., but G.O.M.

anyway, his relation to the Gladstone hotel in Toronto is as follows.

The Gladstone was named for Gladstone Avenue, which was named after British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone. The hotel's monthly newsletter, the Gladstone Bag, is named for the suitcase style, also named for William Gladstone.

The Gladstone was one of the first ten hotels in Ontario to receive permission to allow patrons to drink and play shuffleboard in a licensed alcoholic area. At one time the Gladstone Hotel was the last place to obtain hard liquor before reaching Hamilton.

Ok.. that's part one of this post. In part two I'm gonna take a look at the phonograph, Thomas Edison, and good vibrations.