Sunday, May 29, 2005

China's Constitution & Why It is Broken

"Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."
Constitution of the People's Republic of China

The Chinese constitution was adopted on December 4th, 1982 and it is chock full of lofty, benevolent ideas like freedom of assembly and equality of all peoples. Sadly, the soldiers driving tanks through Tianamen Square in 1989 must not have been aware of Article 35, as they crushed a student protest in a bloody massacre that the Chinese Government remains silent about to this day.

One thing the Chinese people can count on is that they won't be Patriot-acted like their American cousins.

"Article 39. The home of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a citizen's home is prohibited."

Article 35 may be abused from time to time but Article 40 is most certainly torn to shreds on a daily basis.

"Article 40. The freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens of the People's Republic of China are protected by law. No organization or individual may, on any ground, infringe upon the freedom and privacy of citizens' correspondence except in cases where, to meet the needs of state security or of investigation into criminal offences, public security or procuratorial organs are permitted to censor correspondence in accordance with procedures prescribed by law."

If Chinese authorities respect privacy, why are all blogs blocked from Chinese interet users? My friends in China can't read my blog--apparently, China employs a gargantuan firewall that filters requests from sites with "packet sniffing technology" seeking certain prohibited keywords--and this is fundamentally an example of censorship, the kind that curdles my milk.

It could be argued that no nation-state really follows its constitution to the letter, or whatever system of law it holds dear. Countries don't have a conscience and will generally do what allows them to thrive, whether their citizens suffer or not.

Even in our utopic northern liberal paradise, we Canadians have been jerked around by the government countless times. In the Gaspe Coast where I'm from, when the government made Bonaventure Island into a nature preserve, they evicted several families with little or no compensation, uprooting them from the land they had lived on for generations. Same with Mirabel International Airport, the White Elephant they built on the remains of family farms forcibly traded at pitiful prices.

Still, I wish that we could design some form of government that actually believes the words and guarantees that it makes, one that would be willing to declare peace on the peoples of the world. We've all heard of declarations of war, so why not peace?

Since China is the most populous nation on earth, they deserve attention and criticism when their people are being short-changed by a repressive government. In the past two years, I've taken aim on America's shortcomings and mistakes many times but in doing so, I've neglected to admit that nations like China have a long way to go in the march towards freedom. Even with idiotic laws like the ones contained in the Patriot Act, America is still more free than many nations.

If Xinhuanet, the official state-approved news service is any indication, the Chinese people are aware of what is going on in the world around them, and they will take their freedom back one day. (if they've ever been free? Has anyone in the world ever truly been free?) We need a worldwide movement that encourages revolution (peacefully, of course) and that thwarts the oppression and domination of humanity. Who will lead us? Are any of you willing to step forward and risk life and limb for everyone else? Personally, I nominate Dennis Kucinich.

Who would make a good leader for a global freedom movement? Discuss. (Ghandi and other dead folks are excluded from the list!)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dissonants, Jesus & the Headliners, Coriander, Tabula Rasa @ Reggie's, June 1st

Yes, there is a punk show & you're all invited. Come and see Jeremy Brendan get hazed by his cruel bandmates. Marvel at the anti-punk sound of the Dissonants. Jesus & the Headliners have promised to save your soul and then trade it to the devil for corn chips. Some of you may remember that Coriander played with the Dissonants once before and their sound is pure and frenetic. Tabula Rasa will also be bringing their bag of Trix.

Proceedings start at 8 PM so be early and grab a booth seat!


The Dissonants
Jesus & the Headliners
Tabula Rasa
(& Friends)
Reggie's, 1455 de Maisonneuve
(Inside Concordia University, Metro Guy-Concordia)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

JB Summer Mix-Tape

In commemoration of our 20-thousandth visitor (since we started counting!), here is my suggestion for a mix-tape that you can blast at 90 db to the concern and disgust of your neighbors. It starts off punky and raw but eventually settles down into an indie-rock anthem sort of speed, before winking out like a votive candle in a wind tunnel with a couple of plaintive acoustic tunes. You can find most of these songs on the web or in your favourite filesharing app. Good luck, and godspeed!


  1. Causey Way - Jesus Loves You: Lo-fi new-wavish punk rock by the now-defunct Causey Way band. The Causey Way were a self-admitted cult, although it was more of a marketing thing than a Jim-Jones Kool-Aid thing.

  2. Eric's Trip - Eyes Shut: Moncton's Best Band Ever were short on the details but their sound is authentic enough that you can still hear it if you stand on the right part of Magnetic Hill at night and you're drunk enough to see things in double.

  3. Turbonegro - Denim Demon: Who says that homoerotic imagery and hardcore punk guitar won't go to the same dance arm in arm? Norwegian death-punk band Turbonegro wear sailor caps for a reason. Who knows? Maybe you could be their next cabin boy when the ship goes down.

  4. Iggy Pop & the Stooges - Search and Destroy: The opening riff is so cruel and beautiful that it reminds me of a wicked stepmother, frumpy and old but armed with a violent right hook.

  5. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Heart in the Hand of the Matter: No need to explain...witness the first lyrics: "Ride the apocalypse / Coming through the city side / fallen angel / there is no need to hide." Excellent guitar work and great vocal gymnastics, despite the singer's relatively humble range.

  6. TV On the Radio - Satellite: Check out the trippy atmospheric effect used on the guitar (phaser?) when it cuts through the drone of the keyboards. These Brooklyn boys will go places, if there is any justice at all in this One-size-fits-all, cookie cutter world.

  7. The Unicorns - Jellybones: I wore this one out, personally, but only after close to a thousand listens while high on jelly beans. Jangly and awkward, like all of us back in Grade 7. Too bad they broke up as a band because their sound makes the Fiery Furnaces seem quaint and classical.

  8. Wolf Parade - Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts: If David Bowie was born in 1976, he would probably sound a lot like Dan Boeckner, lead singer of Wolf Parade. They have a miraculous live show and this cut off their self-titled EP still gets the hair on my back to stand up like a Liberal MP in the House of Commons.

  9. The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #2 (Laika): Harmonics ring out, accordion saunters in and schmoozes the drums sitting at the bar. Win sings in that wavering, perfect way (which critics obsess over and often compare to David Byrne) about his brother Alexander. The AF love to write a narrative in their lyrics and that is why I would follow them to the ends of the flat earth.

  10. The Shins - New Slang: Sub Pop still knows how to pick 'em. The Shins mine that volcanic rock for ferrous metals and walk out of the shaft with gold dust in their hair every time. Great song to burn a spliff to while sitting on your front porch with some close friends.

  11. Elliott Smith - St. Ide's Heaven: This lost soul with a knife in his heart left us with some great music and St. Ide's Heaven has a breathtaking chorus, complete with the inevitable drug reference and poetic imagery. Warning: Do not listen to Smith if you are A) a tragic, sentimental romantic B) a suicidal artist with a history of self-destruction.

  12. Bright Eyes - Lua: Conor Oberst may have been panned by the critics on his last acoustic album but this song cannot be defeated by the pen, nor by the sword. Oberst makes it OK to be drunk in the middle of the day when regular folks are being healthy and happy in their hamster-wheel existences.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

"New Slang" by JB

Music can have piercing beauty
Truly-made songs urge me
to pop my own ballon
and let the air whooosh out
from my lungs one last time

Of course, I won't.
That would mean no new songs
I hear tunes everywhere
~in the footfalls on a long hallway
~in the whirring spin of a ceiling fan
~in the heavy breath of my lover
~in the hum of an engine
Can You listen?
Will You?
The best songs
are pure blackmail
They take your heart hostage
and the best hearts write songs.

I wrote that poem when I had the Shins song "New Slang" trapped in my head, sailing round and round like some sort of sloop on the waves of my own awareness. My words pale in comparison to the greatness of this song. Here are the lyrics, republished so that you can understand where I was coming from. Download the song somewhere or buy the CD if you're blinging. Also, you can visit their website to see the video for free.

"New Slang"

Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth.
Only, i don't know how they got out, dear.
Turn me back into the pet that i was when we met.
I was happier then with no mind-set.

And if you'd 'a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind.
Well, i'd 'a jumped from my tree
And i'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.

New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries.
Hope it's right when you die, old and bony.
Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall,
Never should have called
But my head's to the wall and i'm lonely.

And if you'd 'a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind.
Well, i'd 'a jumped from my tree
And i'd a danced like the kind of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.

God speed all the bakers at dawn may they all cut their thumbs,
And bleed into their buns 'till they melt away.

I'm looking in on the good life i might be doomed never to find.
Without a trust or flaming fields am i too dumb to refine?
And if you'd 'a took to me like
Well i'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

"I've Learned" by JB

that God exists but he's a stand-up comedian
He tapped the mic and said
"Is this thing on?"
And told a number of jokes
infinite sick twisted little riddles
He made us all bland billiard balls
just bouncing off each other
and making noises

God has a cruel sense of humour
He laughs at the babies
born with AIDS because
of the diseases he planted in the earth
And civilian casualties
(especially genocides) make Him
Crack Up

We do have optimism
and hope
and dreams of kinetic energy
moving us on High
or protecting us from each other
Can secular save our souls?
Do we need an independent
observer giggling in the crowd?

I can't forget to mention
that I have learned
to love it all
I must reap
the seeds I drop
and I must forgive
me for being

I fear
stormtrooper silhouettes
tainted food
and true love

I long for lounging with She
but I'm strapped to a bench
and electrodes are crazy-glued
to my hairless temples
My skin is white
Nails down to their roots
Foolish stubble on my chin
I have a sick grin on my face
It's like I'm God
but I'm not laughing

I'll venture on alone
The piano will lilt
me to happy
caverns of thought
I am sorry
that I left you all
in the deep end
I can't pummel mountains

Love leaps through all time
at once
You never left a lover
we're all still together

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

J-School Devours Our Proud Narrator and Chews Him Into Paste

May 10, 2005

ID: *******
Jeremy Brendan
**** Monkland
Montreal, Quebec
H** 1**

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to advise you that due to your unsatisfactory performance in your Journalism courses this year you will not be permitted to register for any further courses in this department.

If you wish to continue in Journalism Studies, you will have to re-apply for admission for the 2006-2007 academic year.

Enn Raudsepp, PhD
Journalism Department
Concordia University

c.c. Roberto Chen-Rangel, Academic Counsellor


Dear Mr. Raudsepp,

Thank you for the prompt correspondence. I wonder if you could pass J-School while being homeless? It would be very interesting to see but I'm sure you'd give it the old college try.

I will take a year of History in the Fall, and if possible, I will re-apply for admission in 2006-2007 (if your department is willing to give me a second chance).

Cheers & Have a Great Summer.
Jeremy Brendan

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
-Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"Dancer's Lament" by JB & Kirk

This poem is a collaborative effort, the other scribe being my mystic philosopher of a pal Kirk. I wanted it to zig and zag -- please let me know what you think of it.


I haven't read Carlos
but I'm willing to dance and spin
The Whirl of a worthy world
That yet beckons once again
As She's clothed in the finest silk
Her rings are sparkles under so many suns
That my shadow-casting time-piece
Is a hurricane of light
My eyes blink on command
and I wonder whether predators pray?
Only that the acid-less rain will
Fall on the umbrella-less
My soul is waiting for a bus
and my heart is short 50 cents for cab fare
Funny 'cause I gots dollahs worth of two-cents
Mind-funk girth-less solicitudes to spare
When The End is ready to fuck
I will let her mount me and take what she needs
As Her eyes are lasers tearing me to pieces hard to read
And very puzzling to see her put me back to place
My affection for this realm is boundless
Bless you all with UnGod's truth
My hat is off and it's lying beside my boots
I'll sleep for dreams of forever.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"Claws" by JB

So she's got claws
and they're out, apparently
I had no idea
My back hasn't been scratched
in ages

Sometimes a smile
is all you need to convince
the general public
that you're a normal person
while shopping

I planted the rose
The Vodka is in my closet
It will be emptied
sooner or later (sooner)
When the next cat comes to sleep