I’m rewding William B. Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Knowing very little about stoicism I read Irvine’s guest post on Boing Boing yesterday and felt I should give his book a read. Damn you Boing Boing and your influence on book sales! I already disagree with part of what he’s getting at. In the essay he gets pretty foolish in his dismissal of Zen to the point that even I, somebody who has only ever read Wikipedia on the subject, can detect some shit research. That or some unnecessarily simplistic dismissal. Either way, I hate reading books in which I agree with everything anyways.
I just finished up Hannibal’s Footsteps by the way and it was hilarious and informative and pretty much amazing. So check that out. I don’t feel compelled to write a lot on it. There are some great lessons in there but you should discover them as they pop up. Seriously, read this book. If you are at the Castle Rock hostel, I left in on the book shelf for you.
At first this place seems awesome. It’s not the best looking place but the industrial parts are really, industrial, and you hear about all these metal bands and it just seems like it’s going to be really cool.
Then you spend a couple days there and wonder how a place with over a million people can be so shit and have so little to do.
Seriously, never go here unless it’s for Supersonic. I don’t get it. How is it that over A MILLION people live in this city and when it puts on one of the best music festivals in the world everybody I meet is from Ireland, Belgium, Germany or London. What the fuck?
On meeting my idol and deciding what to do with the rest of my life
Tackling some biggies on this euro trip y’all.
On meeting my idol. Well, more like saying a friendly hello to my idol.
Firstly, what does idol mean anyways? I don’t worship this person or think that everything they touch is gold, but in the spectrum of artists who have influenced where I’m at, they score the highest. Like most things that have influenced my life there is a large degree of right-place-right-time (or wrong-place-wrong-time) sort of chance, but that by no means diminishes the importance. Only makes it stronger actually. Along with being an artist who’s work I admire, she is perhaps more importantly THE TIPPING POINT. Like, that first band or movie or zine or whatever that started it all for you. The one upon which your next 5 favorite bands or your new favorite obscure genre or entirely new fashion scene sprouted out of. For me that’s Vicki Bennett and I owe a lot of who I’ve become as a person to her.
Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us. I finally saw her preform live last night at Supersonic.
Allow me to elaborate on this tipping point because Hi I’m Jeff and this is my travelogue. I love mapping out this sort of thing.
Before PLU though this actually begins at Brave New Waves. Now defunct, BNW was a CBC Radio 2 show hosted during my listenership by Patti Schmidt. I’m the proto weirdo high schooler around this point, with nothing to do all night besides stay up and listen to shortwave radio. Shortwave was fun but those were bad reception years (seriously, blame outer-space) so more often I was just tuned into FM and since radio is a wasteland I was on the CBC listening to BNW. This is where I discover music more or less. Before BNW I listened to whatever kids listen to, Much Music and stuff. I never had that cool older brother or whatever so I was listening to Limp Bizkit mostly and telling people I listened to hip hop and stuff but actually pretty much just listening to that Limp Bizkit CD. Whatever, I was like 14. I did it all for the nookie. Grade 8. Anyways, here I am listening to BNW and just having my mind blown. Music that sounds like the CD is scratched up but it’s supposed to sound like that??!!?! Holy shit. Boards of Canada? Aphex Twin? This stuff was amazing. People Like Us? WHAT?! THIS IS THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD! It’s funny, musical, non musical, just so different and so incredible. Brave New Waves started it all.
People Like Us was the artist played on BNW that stuck the most and so the tree begins to branch off. Add some years to this timeline here by the way. This isn’t all happening in grade 9, like we’ve already covered the agnsty Oakridge years. Also add some non musical influences that blended nicely like 2600 Magazine, The Hacker Quarterly. Yeah, the hacker years hahaha. Wow, looking back, what a devastating blow something like a girlfriend would have played in my development at this point. Good thing that was far from plausible.
The first branch on this tree is copyright infringement. I’m introduced to the politics and creative implications of copyright law and fair use. To this day I’m the world’s biggest geek about fucking copyright law. It’s actually a massive deal by the way but we all learned that when the record industry exploded.
Next up her art. Collage across multiple mediums, sampling, obscurist DJing. All that stuff. It still consumes me to this day. I start my own overnight avant garde radio show on CHRW. I hide from the world for days to surround myself in magazine shreds. More recently I spend entire afternoons sampling records onto my Roland SP.
Last of the three big branches I owe to this women, WFMU! Once I learn she’s started a radio show I must to hear it and I must not miss a second. So I tune in early and hear the last 30 minutes or so of a show called Seven Second Delay. What the hell is this? The show I tuned into was a crazy conceptual one in which people are admitting to crimes and it seems unreal but also real and it’s hilarious in a way I’ve never encountered before. These people understand radio and are using it as a medium beyond bland talk and shit music. People make radio like this? I bookmark WFMU’s stream and decide to tune in randomly the next Tuesday. This time I happen upon a show called The Best Show on WFMU. Again, this seems staged (again, partially was) but is also the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Before you know it I’m listening to WFMU everyday as I make my way through my first year of Graphic Design at Fanshawe, 18 years old. Next thing after that I’m picked by the station manager to start writing for their blog. Before you know it I’m a college drop out and all I want to do is be a radio DJ and spread the power of freeform.
So quite an impact she’s had on me and needless to say it was a significant experience to sit down and enjoy her work in person last night. When it wraps up and I have a chance to say hello I would be a fool to not at least compliment her performance. I did and it was brief. I was nervous. I wasn’t shaking or bumbling or something, I was just sort of unable to soberly take in the moment. I told her I loved her work, loved her radio show and dropped the FMU cred by mentioning that I used to write for the blog. Then… That’s about it. She asks why I’m in England, shows some genuine interest in what I’m up to and I just sort of have nothing really significant to say to her and after some pleasant small talk tell her it was nice to meet her and walk away. It couldn’t have lasted more than 60 seconds. I just didn’t really know what to say. What do I say? How do you explain to somebody what a massive impact they have had on you without seeming like some crazy person? I guess I could have just told her and she would have been super cool about it… I don’t know, no biggie, no regrets. It was exactly what I wanted, I didn’t really want to lay all this on her right after a show. That’s what I have this blog for, to lay it all on you.
In the end it was really just great to say hello. She was kind and friendly, completely lived up to my expectations. I’m sure I’ll have a chance to speak with her again, as freeform radio is a pretty small world, and I’ll make sure to break the ice by telling her how nervous I was last night.
Thanks Vicki for sending me off on the path I walk today. It’s a big deal, for me anyways. I’m just glad I didn’t grow up idolizing Gene Simmons or somebody. You know, the type of celebrity that would just brush you off and completely crush your entire self worth.
Oh yeah, deciding what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I think I’m going to start taking my collage work more seriously (or less seriously more consistently) and not unlike when I started in radio by directly recreating her radio show, I’m going to start doing pretty much exactly what she does in her live work. Video and audio collage. It’s the kind of emulating first step I think most artists take and in the case of sample based collage art, even more appropriate I’d say.
One thing is for sure, I don’t think I’ll ever be sitting in a classroom again. Will I actually be able to create art for a living? There is only one way to find out and I’m finally done waiting. I’m actually fighting the urge to just fly home after Amsterdam and begin working on some projects I’ve been putting off. It feels great to have some direction even if that direction is completely unconventional and may prove to be incredibly difficult. Whatevs, I’m up for it and as probably one of the luckiest people on Earth I’m just going to try to ride that luck as far as it will take me.
If all else fails I can always just get into commercial radio and be a right wing shock jock. The easiest job on Earth.
Thanks for reading all that, you’re the coolest. You know way too much about me now. Chase this post with a video from Melt Banana last night.