Friday, October 31, 2003

Going over yesterdays rant, I realize that I was being far too black-and-white in my statements. There are various checks and balances to keep any system in order, and the brilliant folks who wrote the U.S. Constitution were aware of the risks associated with governance. That is why they put in limitations on who makes decisions for the whole nation, sharing the power between the branches of government. The freedom of speech they couldn't count on from England was enshrined in the constitution, and that is another variance from Oceania (see yesterdays rant). As long as Americans can speak freely without fearing reprisals, they'll be somewhat safe from the Fascist future George Orwell had in mind. (I know that Orwells Oceania was supposedly Communist, but they were not aligned with the Commie ideals, having more in common with a Fascist system that a Marxist one.)

The U.S. Senate seems to be making progress in untangling the web of contradictions spun by the Bush administration. I applaud them with both hands! Yesterday, they sent letters to the White House, to the State Dept., and to the Pentagon, demanding that they be allowed access to documents and to key personnel in their quest to figure out why the President and his staff made all those claims of WMD before the Iraq War.

According to,

To Rumsfeld and Powell, the two senators wrote, "The credibility of the government with its people and the nation with the world is at stake. Incomplete answers and lingering doubts will haunt us for many years."

The two senators (Pat Roberts, R-Kansas & Jay Rockefeller D-West Virginia), composed the letters and hopefully they'll be allowed to conduct their investigation without delay.

I also understand that I can't blame the American people for the chaos their (un)elected officials are responsible for. After all, less than 50% of them voted for Bush, and out of that >50% majority (minority?), many of them don't agree with everything their President says. I am sincerely hoping that there is a backlash when election time comes around in 2004. Hopefully, the Dems will own up to the task of providing a David to slay the Republican Goliath. Wait, whose side is God on again? I'm getting confused.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Starting January 5th, every foreign visitor entering the United States by plane or boat will be fingerprinted and photographed, then checked against a national biometrics database of "known terrorists".

Instead of beginning a nonsensical rant about how the Americans are going too far, I'll try and keep my cool by reaching for a book that impacted me at a very young age.

This book is called "1984" and within its pages, George Orwell predicted these "times of terror". The methods used by Oceania resemble those of today's U.S.--monitor your citizens (PATRIOT ACT), keep them afraid of the "enemy" (War on Terror, etc.), remain in a constant state of war (Afghanistan, Iraq...), and have a human avatar of the enemy who is both to blame for all the current problems, and also at large (Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein). That way, you can neglect their domestic problems. Unemployment? Massive deficits? Tax cuts for the top 5% of the population? No problem. Any dissenters can be shut up with rhetoric (You just don't want to keep this country safe!) or with dogma (We're the most powerful nation in the world. Why shouldn't we unilaterally remove a potential threat?). They even use word games to foil us (You're either with us or with the terrorists), making neutrality both impossible and quite dangerous.

Perhaps I am being too rash or even paranoid. I understand that terrorists aren't rational and there is virtually no way to stop them from doing their horrible acts of violence. The funny thing is, how will America ever stop the terrorists by being harder? Being tough might work on the schoolyard but in the real world, it is better to temper your actions with gifts and praise, concilliation and respect, rather than M-16s and land mines. The U.S. has forgotten that in order to win the hearts and minds of the globe, they have to at least take us out once in awhile, or maybe send us a birthday card or pull out their troops out of our borders.

It is easy to chop the tallest tree in the forest. By that, I mean that I'm only being hard on the U.S. because they claim to be the Leaders of the Free World, we expect them to live up to their own hype and self-promotion. It seems that now, they're saying "Give me your tired and your poor, so I can scan their retinas and see if they're related to that Bin Laden character".

I wonder if Timothy McVeigh used a seaport or airport when he emigrated to the U.S. Wait, you mean he only had to cross state lines to blow up hundreds of people? He was born in the USA, just like Bruce Springsteen? Really! I thought that terrorists only come from Saudi Arabia, or maybe Sudan if you want to get picky. Wow. Who knew?

Not to increase the amperage of the buzz that Turbonegro have been generating, but I've decided that they're the closest thing to RockNRoll I've heard in a dolphin's lifetime. Sure, some of their stuff borders on self-parody (calling themselves the "Apocalypse Dudes" and bragging in their lyrics "don't bother to call / 'cause we're in the news"), but they have such a fanatic rhythm section, a devoted singer with an oh-so-obvious drug problem, and some catchy, hooky tunes that have been labelled "deathpunk" by the press.

Their primary schtick appears to be their constant references to homosexuality. As the story goes, they were tired of the homogenous punk scene in Norway, so on their third album, they turned their amps up a little higher and began to Cock-Rock like they meant it. Literally. Attempting to get back to the core of punk rock, they began to pose as some sort of vaguely homosexual deviants, with song titles such as "Sailor Man" and "Denim Demon". (Lyrics excerpt: "I've got a congregation / and I am a saint for seamen")

One of their best tunes, "Back to Dungaree High", was covered by Queens of the Stone Age on the 2001 Turbonegro tribute album, with most effective results. Other artists including Hot Water Music, the Dwarves, Therapy?, and Nashville Pussy also appeared on the tribute album. Just eyeing the talent that was willing to praise Turbonegro proves that they have been influential in the global punk scene. I recommend sauntering over to your favourite file sharing program & downloading their back catalogue. If they really turn your crank, head on over to an independant record store and buy "Ass Cobra" or one of their other releases. Support music you like! That's what I always say.

Somehow, punk rock is about bringing together scenes that are on the fringe, without barriers or prejudice. That's why the coolest punk bar in the city of Montreal is undoubtedly Sapphir (St-Laurent Blvd., north of Prince Arthur but south of Pine) , where Friday nights are hosted by DJ's Xavier Caffeine & Plastik Patrik, an ambigously gay duo of Rockers with their own bands and a sound knowledge of modern rock and late 70's punk. All walks of life inhabit Sapphir, from straight-up punkers to Rockers to trucker-cap-clad queers. Everyone gets along and grooves to the music. When you're dancing at Sapphir, whether it be in the arms of your girlfriend (last time Kate was there, she danced her little heart out with me and had a great time) or pogoing beside a transvestite who really likes Le Tigre, you know that you're embodying the soul of real Punk Rock Music. Plus, a Molson Ex will set you back $3.50, and one of the bartenders is a pyromaniac. I once witnessed him violate several safety codes by spraying an enormous phallic-shaped candle with lighter fluid and sparking it with a match. Not for the faint of heart, but very entertaining to watch, as long as you don't get too close to the flames.

They play Turbonegro at Sapphir. They also really like the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and they're probably the first bar on the island that played Interpol or Hot Hot Heat. (Oddly enough, I harassed Patrik for two months, begging him to play the BC band HHH before he relented. He still isn't big on them but public demand has risen in the past few months!) They also have a deep fondness for all thing Velvet and Underground, Post-Scary Monsters David Bowie, and even the odd Billy Idol track. Peaches, Ladytron, and other electroclash artists also populate the musical scene at Sapphir.

It is always safe to expect a good time at Sapphir and this coming weekend shouldn't be any different.Hallowe'en night, Robin Black & the Intergalactic Rock Stars will be playing a Saturday gig at Sapphir and it should be a blast.($5 cover charge, $1.50 for coat check, no dress code although the Fubu/Crescent Street crowd don't usually venture into Sapphir unchaperoned.)

Speaking of Robin Black & his IRS, their homemade blend of glam and punk is exuberant and lively and somewhat similar to Plastik Patrik's own band, 1-976, of which he is lead singer when he's not spinning at Sapphir. I should also mention that Xavier's band, Poxy, is also gaining critical acclaim here on the island of Montreal, already mentioned in the weekly newspapers (The Hour & the Mirror) and may turn out to be the next big thing in the Quebec rock scene. Check out Sapphir this Saturday, November 1st, any time after 8 PM!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Kill Bill Vol. 1

I can't pretend to be a typical action-movie fan. I don't have the pecs for it, nor do I have the patience for plots that revolve around revolvers. (Godfather or Full Metal Jacket excluded!) Somehow, though, "Kill Bill Vol. 1" has got me all worked up in a good way.

It is the latest from everyone's favourite Hollywood kook Quentin Tarrantino. His fetish for making his characters look stylish covered in other peoples blood has sustained him throughout his career. He has done the horror movie (From Dusk Till Dawn), the gangster movie (Reservoir Dogs), and even a couple of love letters to the 70's (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown). "Kill Bill Vol. 1" is his effort at updating the samurai movie, with its themes of vengeance and betrayal, and with lots of arms and legs being sliced off by fine Okinawan steel.

Speaking purely on the directing, I think that Quentin has made a silk purse out of these sows ears. (He even makes Lucy Liu appear to know how to act!) One surprise is how Uma Thurman makes us feel sympathy for her character by concealing weakness and trying to overcome the obstacles that block her path to revenge. Even when she has a slice taken out of her back from a sword, or a chain around her neck, she never flinches and is always ready to strike back with brutal force. Somehow, action films are more exciting when the boys don't stand a chance and the ladies are kicking ass.

It is difficult to make the same tired subjects look new and bold but Quentin somehow gets the job done, from his two-second shot of Uma's blood painting a stripe across the Tokyo snow, to the frequent dismemberments and beheadings of the anonymous assasins that challenge her on a Tokyo dance floor. Seeing blood shoot out of where someone's limb used to be is not for the faint hearted, but it does make one feel a little bit of fear in the pit of the stomach. All the death creates tension and in "Kill Bill", I think that Quentin is trying to make a Shakespearean Kung Fu flick. The death is necessary to drive the plot so we shall excuse it.

The Wu-Tang Clan's producer The RZA made the score for this film and we get a healthy dose of hipster tunes, from the Japanese garage rock of the 5,6,7,8's to Spanish gunfight music (can somebody tell me what I'm supposed to call it?). I was disappointed that there were no beats, or at least none that I could throw down freestyle rhymes over, but I'm sure that the rest of the moviegoers were happy that my mouth remained shut.

The character of Oren-Ishii (played heroically by Lucy Liu) could have warranted her own movie. Her best scene is probably when she faces the Yakuza and assumes leadership of their criminal organization. When one of them questions her ethnicity (she happens to be a Japanese/Chinese American), there are bloody results. (Hint: ever see a head bounce on a table?)

I'm not saying that this is a Great Film--it is more accurately an appropriation of a genre, Quentin doing a Kung-Fu Epic, as opposed to something that tries to stand on its own--but this movie has teeth and seems willing to use them. It is a strange feeling watching Uma Thurman cleaning the blood off her samurai sword with her sleeve. Even so, "Kill Bill Vol. 1" is just appealing enough to make me want to catch the second film, so that she can finish off that list of hers (Death List #5, scrawled in a banged-up notebook).

Don't bring your kids, though! This is pure ultra-violence, in the style that Alex and his droogs would dream about. And expect a sequel.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Elliot Smith has left this world. Elliot was a widely-acclaimed singer-songwriter in American Indie circles. His love for the lo-fi and the sublime produced some very moving, transcendent acoustic folk that rivals the best of Neil Young or Nick Drake. He was most known for his song "Miss Misery", which appeared in the movie Goodwill Hunting.

Personally, I recognized him from his work for the movie "The Royal Tenenbaums". His song "Needle in the Hay" appears when Luke Wilson's character, the former tennis star who's deeply troubled but lovestruck, is standing in front of the mirror and contemplating suicide. He ends up slitting his wrists with a razorblade and falling to the floor.

On Tuesday, Elliot Smith decided to stick a knife into his own heart in his Los Angeles home. He was 34. Suicide is something that many of us are forced to witness, either first hand or via our family or friends. I can only hope that nobody will take Elliot as an example of what to do. Maybe if he had somebody to talk to, he might not have resorted to such a senseless action. That reminds us to try and keep our friends and family close so that they won't slip away. We can't afford to lose any more of our own.

Monday, October 20, 2003

If you have high speed internet, then please do yourself a favour and stick it to the Man! Skype was created by the Whiz Bang programmers par excellence Sharman Networks (the same folks who brought you Kazaa. It is a voice-over-I.P. application that allows you to place calls to any other Skype users for FREE. They have no subscription fee for the Beta testers (since we're their software-debugging guinea pigs, so to speak!) so pick it up and give me a ring. You need at least a 400 MHZ processor, 128 MB of RAM, and it currently only works in Windows 2000 or XP.

I tried it out today and after reinstalling it and rebooting my system twice, I was able to get the main screen to pop up. After calling several disgruntled New Zealanders, I eventually got somebody to actually answer my call. He was a slightly odd dude from France. My associate, Mr. Shady also spoke to him over the relatively cheap headset (est. $14.99 or so at your local retailer) and agreed that the sound was great. Not unlike FM radio, although I imagine if both clients (you & your girlfriend, for example) had high speed internet and the whole thing properly set up, those phone card companies could very well go out of business.

I'm moving in two weeks and Shady has decided we should tell our landlord. He won't be pleased, especially when he realizes that he has about a months worth of renovations to do. We didn't really tear the place apart but we certainly haven't lifted a finger to maintain it.

Where am I moving to? Chateaugay, a cosy suburb south of the island of Montreal. {I think I left out the little French grammatical hat but it wasn't a political statement. I just don't feel like going through all those ANSI key codes (ALT 130 et al.).} I'll be living at my uncles house and hopefully returning to ConU in the Fall of 2004. I really need to pay off that gang of lepers known as my creditors before they tear off their own arms and fling them at me. I owe upwards of 15 Grand but with my modest pension, I should be able to cut that in half within a year. If you long to see this humble narrator return back to school, and if Bling is your middle name, click that "PayPal" button on the right hand side of your screen. It doesn't have to be much, since everyone knows that it's the thought that counts.

Hallowe'en is not far off and I still haven't decided upon a costume. My previous idea, myself and Shady going to Sapphire wearing t-shirts labelled "Adam" & "Steve", has been rejected by both parties involved. I may just end up going as myself from 4 years ago, dirty combat pants and all. I'll certainly have enough THC in my blood to make a neo-con giggle in front of the media. *Wait...stop...this is the Lit Police. We're going to have to take you in for questioning*
What? I'm just trying to...
*Don't "just" me! You have been charged with poor taste, clunky sentence structure, and lack of originality*
Listen, last night I was lying in my bed and I couldn't sleep. My girl was far away in her New York State and I was awake in the darkness. I was trying to figure out why I had spent the past 5 months smoking myself sloth-like, why I hadn't written a good thing in ages, and why I didn't want to get a job in the real world, at least not just yet.

I realized that for 3 years, I had been flailing my arms in this pool. For 6 months, I was just floating and existing. Now, it is time for me to steel my mind to the task of rebuilding my life and seizing my destiny. I will have a career that can't lock me up in Maximum Security & I will pay taxes. Oh yes, being Canadian and all, I'm ready to pay half my earnings so that everyone can complain to Dr. So and So when they get a cough.

And don't think I won't marry and be happy and eventually own a house. This life can't stop me. Creditors, if you're out there, you'll get yours. Just get in line, highest interest rates first, please.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Today, I finally got up the courage to sift through my Yahoo! inbox & found what every writer (or artist, I suppose) lives and dreams for--no, not a spam email advertising penis enlargement--I got a rejection letter! Here it is, mostly unabridged. Enjoy.
Subject: Re: Submission -- "Tale of My Teeth"

Uhhh, yeah, hey Phil, I'm sorry. I think we gotta pass on this one.

it didn't strike me as either odd enough or funny enough. I think the
personalities and backstories of the teeth were well drawn, but they
enough to carry the story.

Thanks for the submission tho. We look forward to more of your work!



Submissions Editor

You might ask yourself why I'm flagellating myself in such a public manner. (After all, it is torture to see your own work being used and abused by a gentleman who calls himself Monkey #2) On a good note, they have already published me once so this means they're not easy. It makes the first clipping seem more important, somehow. I like that.

Hey, this doesn't mean that I have to roll over and become part of the soil. Hemingway used his rejection letters as wallpaper (I remember hearing he had them in the hundreds) and plenty of other luminaries I've read about had to slog through a Thousand Savage "No's" before hitting their stride.

I think that the best solution would be to keep banging my head upon this gate and maybe to smoke a little M-39 cannabis (indoor, slightly dry, mild aftertaste) before I try and submit anything else of substance (no pun intended, I swear).

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Does this sound vaguely familiar to any of you?

The housing ministry said in a statement Thursday it was building the new homes "according to the government's policy to promote and develop communities in the __________ and _______ according to their needs and natural growth."

The blanks should really be substituted with "West Bank" and "Gaza Strip", but the way Israel is talking, they're sounding more and more like the fascists of yesteryear. After all, a maniac named Hitler once proclaimed that his German troops had rights to expand their living space in order to thrive:

"[W]without consideration of "traditions" and prejudices, it [Germany] must find the courage to gather our people and their strength for an advance along the road that will lead this people from its present restricted living space to new land and soil, and hence also free it from the danger of vanishing from the earth..."

I know that I'm not really retaining very much impartiality here but it is important to know that this new wall being built through Palestinian lands will only add to the tensions in the troubled region. Plus, by revealing their intentions to encircle Ariel, one of the most successful of the settlements, they are sending a dangerous message to Palestinian moderates--one of defiance, basically meaning "We're not going anywhere". By continually expanding into land that by U.N. agreement is not theirs, Israel is surely becoming the obvious aggressor in this conflict. Every time the IDF knocks down a house or settlers try to blow up a school, they are swelling the ranks of the Palestinian resistance, and this is bad for everyone living in Israel or the surrounding territory.

When these same "resistance fighters" (or "terrorists", in Bush-speak) blow up a café, the whole world cries and everyone condemns this "act of terror". If only we could get the same sympathy for the innocent Palestinian civilians killed as a result of the "targeted killings" of "suspected terrorists". These same "terrorists" have neither due process nor a chance to prove their innocence in a court of law. I don't mean to discount the value of Israeli lives -- violence is reprehensible, no matter which person it is inflicted upon -- but I'm just trying to make sure we consider every life to be equal.

Moments like these make me stop and count my blessings that I was born in Canada, one of the last free countries left in the world.


All is not dark and chaotic. Want to laugh a little? Think about it. Everyone is running around proclaiming that the sky is tumbling because the North Koreans have built 2 or 3 nuclear bombs. Nobody is worried about how the U.S. has over 22,000 (thousand!) nukes just sitting there beneath the soil, ready to poke out instantly, like a dogs penis. (Sorry for the imagery but somehow it makes sense. I'm trying to explain my revulsion at Nuclear Weapons in general, and what better way than by causing you to lose your lunch?)

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Remember the old adage "Truth is stranger than fiction"? I was just reading about the Senate hearing on Peer to Peer sharing at (the article can be found here) and I was mystified by this LL Cool J quote, courtesy of the wordsmiths down at MTV.
LL used a rather bizarre metaphor to render the practice of illegal file-sharing down to its basic element: stealing. "If a contractor builds a building, should people be allowed to move into it for free, just because he's successful?" asked Mr. Cool J, as he was addressed at the hearing. "Should they be able to live in this building for free? That's how I feel when I create an album or when I make a film and it's shooting around the planet for free."

His albums rarely shoot onto my computer, since I've never been much of a fan. LL Cool J may be the most successful rapper ever but he's definately not the Best. Sadly, his attitude is what is keeping the artists of the music industry beneath the heel of the Corporate Machine that feeds off of their life-blood.

Whoa. That was a mouthful. Let me explain. If Kazaa et al. were to become legally sanctioned, competing businesses, just like Radio stations or music stores, people would finally be free to download what they want, pay the artists, and cut out the record company middlemen. Warner and Sony wouldn't be totally out of luck, though. How many artists want to manage, promote, record, and release everything on their own label? Even with Pro Tools, most people prefer the studio for the technology and the expertise that real pros bring to the table. The record industry would have to survive by evolving, instead of trying to force everyone to live in their Pre-Napsterian era and forget that P2P ever existed.

So if Peer to Peer sharing was legitimized instead of being punished, the artists could get paid, the music fans would be happy and no longer law-breakers, and LL Cool J could spend more time trying to remember what it was like to be cutting edge instead of a washed up old rapper with a little "ice" around his neck. (Contrast LL with Chuck D, who said "P2P to me means power to the people," and "I trust the consumer more than I trust the people at the helm of these [record] companies." Even if Public Enemy is a little less mainstream, I'd buy one of their albums over LL Cool J's any day.)

No wonder Canibus called him out. LL is scared to play with the other kids, hiding in his crib, clutching the fame that used to be his, and trying to stop my Adam Green download in the process!

Live: Arcade Fire, Phaser, and Hawksley Workman at Club Soda

I'm still feeling the afterglow from Saturday night and it's thanks to the Montreal Pop Festival, now in its second year. On Saturday, I was among the first in line at the Arcade Fire/Phaser/Hawksley Workman show at Club Soda, on St-Laurent Blvd. and St-Catherine. It was scheduled to start at 9:30 PM sharp but they didn't let us in until close to 10 PM. Grabbing the best seat in the house (top right gallery, beside the speakers, a pebbles throw from the stage), I sat down and wondered what was up with the first band. Even though they looked like an art school field trip being let loose on a room full of instruments, I reserved my judgements for the music. And when the music hit, I knew I was on to something.

The Arcade Fire are from Montreal and have very little music released right now. According to an article I dredged up on Google somehow, they have over 100 songs already written but are trying to raise the funds to record a full length LP and really get a buzz going. It's working. When the lead singer Win Butler began strumming his electric guitar and visibly shaking right on stage, I felt like I was watching Nirvana on Prozac, or maybe a Canadian mock-up of the Flaming Lips. It's important to mention the rest of the band, all 7 (8?) of them. His wife Régine (Chassagne), a little dark haired vixen, was playing the accordion, a bandmate was playing a snare drum, another was just banging drum sticks on the floor, another guy was playing the French Horn, and there was even an Xylophone used in one song. Also, the bandmates switched instruments quite a bit, with at least 2 or 3 different instruments happening in every song.

One thing that must be said about their sound is that it is Big and Layered, like that Wall of Sound we always hear about in trendy music magazines (Phil Spector, etc.). The Arcade Fire is a purveyor of pretty melodies and everyone in the band sings nearly every lyric. The only jarring moment of their set was when Win yelled at the crowd for their apathetic response to this beautiful Rock onslaught. He angrily asked if anyone was awake, or something to that effect. Luckily, he apologized later, attempting to salvage some respect and win back our affections. ("I'm sorry I yelled earlier but doing a live show is so..." and then he looked around for a life preserver. I shouted "Intense!" and he looked up at me before repeating "Intense, yes, that's it..." I was glad to have helped out.)

If we judge them completely on a musical basis, The Arcade Fire aren't just going places--they're building domes on the Dark Side of the Moon, driving dirtbikes over the lunar surface, and leaping towards the sun. Did I mention they're from Montreal? Great new rock and roll. Go and see if you can pick up their album at Cheap Thrills or download some of their stuff from their website.

The way I'm ranting and raving about the opening band, you'd think that the Phaser didn't exist. This would be a blessing upon humanity, if you ask me. Don't look at me that way. I can't help but shrug when I listen to these Washingtonites (Washingtonians?) and hear a Southern version of Sam Roberts, only without the tunefulness and with a lot more attitude. This makes for a mish-mash, a home-brewed bootleg of rock and roll with too many distortion pedals and not enough songwriting prowess. Some in the crowd were grooving to Phaser, while I was not. My brother shook his head when they played although both he and I had been toe-tapping and "rocking out" to The Arcade Fire only minutes before.

Shows are not judged by the opening acts, as we all know, and the headliner, Hawksley Workman, tricked us into believing he was human and fallible in his first couple of songs. He looked slightly shaky, seemingly not happy with the job the sound men had been doing (between songs, he asked them to raise the vocals). His set began with several songs from his latest album, including "On the Highway Tonight", "We Will Still Need a Song", and "Anger as Beauty". This is where he really hit his stride, keeping the whole crowd spellbound. Hawksley kept lurching and high-stepping around the stage like some sort of dinosaur and he was soloing and enjoying himself out there. When you hear him sing live for the first time, it is very tempting to smile in awe of his amazing range. He can go from a guttural baritone into a frenetic yelp at the bat of an eyelash. He has the best set of pipes since Freddy Mercury.

One of the best songs of the whole night had to be "Tonight Romanticize the Automobile". It has such a powerful lead that really shines through when you hear it live and we could hear the conviction in Hawksley's voice. He knows the talent he's got inside and when you hear him turn a catchy lyric into a poetic moment, his eyes look wild and feral. I think this must be what it was like to see Jim Morrison perform live. (One can only imagine! I once read a pretty strange story about Jim & Jimi Hendrix, involving a bottle of whiskey and Janis Joplin, but I'm getting off-topic. Read Rolling Stone if you want hippy gossip.)

Hearing these songs played live for the first time confirmed my suspicions about the poor production of his album "Lover/Fighter" (see review below somewhere on this page). Live, the songs sounded clearer and sharper, like a detailed photograph that comes into focus when you put on your bifocals. He sounded paranormal, almost even mystical, especially on "Wonderful and Sad", "Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off" and "Smoke Baby". It was difficult not to sing along with most of his songs but I could have done without the wailing and screaming of some of the ladies in the audience. (During an operatic pause in the middle of "Don't Be Crushed", some girl shouted "Take it Off!". Hawksley, obviously offended that his song was being overlooked, growled back "You first!")

Eventually, the rest of his band ("The Wolves") left the stage. Only Hawksley remained up there, grabbing a seat at the piano and playing a couple of classics from his first album "For Him and the Girls". Eventually, Mr. Lonely (his keyboardist) returned to the stage and picked up where Hawksley left off . After several pleas for a nice glass of Red Wine (and a bellow from this reviewer down into the crowd "Someone get this man some wine!"), Hawksley's wish was granted and he took a great big swig of wine. At one point, he was singing "Silver Bells" and he still sounded fresh and effervescent.

Hawksley and the Wolves did two encores (including a great song off his first album, "Safe and Sound") and we were all envigorated by the great show we had just witnessed. Excluding Phaser, I think that I saw some of the best Rock and Roll that Canada has to offer right now. Matthew Good Band and Our Lady Peace are relative pee-wees compared to the majestic grandeur of Arcade Fire, while Rufus Wainright is like Hawksley-lite or maybe his kid brother, trying to get his sea-legs. I am really anxious to get my hands on more from the Arcade Fire. And Hawksley? He will only get better the more time he spends in Paris and in Montreal, at least if he stays off the blow. (Read the lyrics of "Smoke Baby" and you'll see what I mean).

To sum up, I can't wait until next year because Pop Montreal is turning into the best music festival we've got! (And to think that I missed the Queens of the Stone Age show. It will be a challenge to refrain from slashing up my wrists with a steak knife).