Getting Better all the time

There’s a fine line between stability and happiness. Sometimes they overlap, but when that balance is shaken it can often look like this travel map:

instamap

Two years of travel has landed me back in the East after trying out Alberta again; check out the spots I’ve stumbled into on this search for happiness (and finding it) in all sorts of friends and places!

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kinda at peace

Don’t get me started
On the matters of the heart
I looked far and wide
And found this ebbing tide

all consuming
Then nothing at all
But on any given day
You’re still my Wonderwall

Afterall this time
You still have a hug that is lovingly mine

same, as always
but growing, changing, caring still
for the silent tears we don’t dare confess, yet
I keep asking for guidance from the powers at be
And they keep pointing to fears
I’d pushed underground
Echoing gasps of ‘its time’

Be the early bird that catches the best of the worms,
Appreciate your energy enough to know nurturing

Lip service is only worth it
When it’s followed by tough love
The kind that turns into a dove
Crossing the battlefield so lit

flitting through pain

with anxious bravery
with curious enthusiasm

with reserved instinct to make choices otherwise too much to grasp
Supporting characters’ rage and fear don’t know what will come next.
being the lead in this story has been a misfit’s misfortune turned into blips of success
turned into blips of success
i’ve been tricked into others selfish versions of happiness
the same way as i have swept aside others in service of my own
and none of this matters if we don’t appreciate what it’s worth
crafting familiarities within uncertainties is one coping trick
our memories are tough fabric, the stitches hold well
but in all the places you may go and see,
people pleasing doesn’t do much good when they keep leaving
or when you decide it’s time to service another’s joy elsewhere
even though
home keeps being redefined as ‘here’ when certain folks are near
it’s tough to prioritise self-care when you’ve been taught to empathize + stay aware
who gets the love, and how much, and why?
is the limit of dedication truly past the sky..? how high?
sometimes it’s best to let lyrics explain, or at least try:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1163394460/playlist/2bT0YZjRcSLLsTmm1NV30C

Madic album alternative venue show in support of Family Hangover – Walrus takes over Lawrencetown Legion,… and soon the WORLD! #regularface #goodbyesomething 

Yo we playing the Legion branch 112 in Lawrencetown tonight #freepoolanddarts

A post shared by Walrus (@walrustheband) on Mar 4, 2017 at 2:21pm PST

From the chilly wind that brought them out of Halifax for an evening, this band of music bros arrived at the college town legion in the precolonial heart of the Annapolis Valley as a headlining local Nova Scotia feature band and so eager to play pool! When we were eating a meal after soundcheck, Justin + Keith (guess which ones!) were playing a phone pool game and chatted to prepare for things getting REAL at the local pool hall/legion.

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They were there to play a set, but priorities dictated darts and 8-balls were an ideal warm-up to a frosty March night. An assortment of local regular members of the Legion occupied one table, while the term’s students’ mingled and enjoyed a brief reprieve from intensive cartography et al.
I’d been to a Madic house concert a couple of times, and have enjoyed the atmosphere created by intimate settings of these like any other venue. They adequately meet the expectations of any lil ol café show, while keeping expenses low for the attendees. That, alongside capacity building and audience growth, helps the life of the musician just a little bit more. The well-rounded artist helps keep a community connected to their shows, not just a sporadic audience, especially when it remains a community-focused event: all ages, low costs, familiar spaces used to make a concert out of a natural gathering. In this case, the local Legion was the perfect place for such a show. Thanks to the COGS Student Association for supporting the event, it was promoted as a student oriented event, and allowed for a break from the stress we are all voluntarily in the Valley to be under. (Centre of Geographic Sciences, in a town that’s hardly on the map and is always confused with a surfing spot near Halifax… yet is temporary home to 200 map-heads. Go figure.)
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After months of toying with logistics, it came together, with great resilience to changing plans and contact people and unwavering confidence it could and would happen. Student support to put on the show was invaluable, but also, they enjoyed participating in a show. Being in Lawrencetown is an isolating experience, and once I began to introduce the idea of a live music event it became appealing as an alternate form of entertainment in a quiet town, especially for fellow classmates who missed interacting with the music communities of larger hometowns. Zac Fredericks opened the show with some originals and a cover of The Weight by The Band and What I’ve Got by Sublime, happy to be able to take the stage and play louder than a classroom or student-rental-level volume on the amp.
duetweight
It is  very rural and often quiet town. But, with a small contingent of students eager to do something on a weekend that isn’t school – you basically have to make your own entertainment. With the help of the student association, and after cycling through the options for a venue – settling on something familiar.  In a sense, I was struck by a reminder to ‘take a sad (town, in this case) and make it better.’ #sameregularplacesameregulartime becoming all too real for this Legion show. Though for the very Albertan type wind that had hit the valley that night, there was 40 students and a few out of town guests excited for this band of friends was playing a show nearby – before heading out on new 2017 adventures.
Walrus’ music continues to be compared to the Beatles, if not only for the initial name but also once those who had no idea what they were about to get into – the hypnotizing effect of warbling sounds and psychadelic solos provide a warmth very similar to Dan’s new sounds emerging from his former lives into Club Meds – a soundtrack to the changes in the band and life around them. Unmake is exactly that, with the dissolution of +Blacksmith as the permanent traveling band alongside Dan’s songwriting stylings emerging as a creative force allowed the split to remain amicable and professional. This split, however allowing the label producer side of Dan to emerge, and throw more energy into supporting other artists who can benefit from more shows, more tours, more sales. Ultimately, the goal of Madic Records is to be as professionally personable as possible, and make good music out of real life situations. The honesty – of music and of lyrics – is cherished deeply by this initiative, and supports the idea of balancing personal work with the work of responsibilities. Handling mental health and the experimentation of creative bursts drive this support network of curiosities more and more into mainstream with every new show booking in an interesting place with ‘happy little regular faces’. (seriously tho, check out this new video!)
The power of the alternate venue was confirmed when I was living in Edmonton – where the whole city kept rediscovering its capacity for hosting a fantastic show. From the Artery, to Wunderbar, to Pawn Shop, to be the same audiences rehoused in emerging redefinitions of favourite places including the Aviary, Buckingham, Arcadia, Mercury Room,  and now The Needle, Have Mercy, and Bohemia are emerging as the arts community remained determined to find houses for music, culture sharing, and supportive space for creativity in many forms. This transition, alongside communities of house concerts spearheaded by local community members – is an idea that doesn’t have to stick with a formula, it’s an idea that facilitates growth and taking valuable risks.
When Walrus most recently played Edmonton (at Up+Dt Fest) , they were in the cozier space of Brixx Bar underneath Starlite – which has had its own history of revolving identities. But, decades later the building still houses touring acts alongside locals in the lofting concert hall with slanty floors. Because of its character, and legacy, within the city communities of movers and shakers have poured endless energy into sustaining the venue. Not unlike most of Halifax’s rebuilt infrastructure – both cultural and physical, these music making mellow magicians are one example of the reason why cities continue to reinvest in the arts. There’s something of meaning in holding on to cultural events as superb as these live music resources have come to be engrained within our experience of whichever home we’re at in the present breath.
These cities are just one example of a revolving door of music spaces hosting ‘final’ shows only to have the same people organize and perform at the bar down the road next week. But the identification with the walls of a bar can be formative to a band. Most importantly though, is for that band to never stop trying out a new stage. That, has been my experience with Walrus, ranging from Seahorse to Gridlock Fest in Citadel High’s parking lot, to Marquee Ballroom for #coldsmoke17, to running into them en route to a Montreal cat cafe while waiting for a Tame Impala show to begin. They’re neat dudes with neat tunes.
With some change in quantity of Keiths, they have been an actively touring band for over 5 years, and in the past year alone I have attended at least four of their shows – all within Halifax, though the first song I heard of theirs was on a BIRP playlist in 2012. They’re a band of surprises and honest connections to their music and fans, an attitude encouraged by Madic Records and Double Denim Management.  They’ve taken their chameleon sound and tested it in numerous audiences, and are always eager to try a few more. Something about the soft pop harmonies pique unsure listeners’ interest, and by the  time the guitars kick into Jordan’s drum solo everyone’s pretty much sold. Always seeking another dimension to the hypnosis, they are eagerly booking tours and single shows.
Those adventures are particularly exciting as new steps in their musical career (thanks to stellar management and alternative marketing techniques courtesy of Madic’s backbone of keeping music accessible). A European tour is on the horizon alongside the upcoming release of their first LP, in succession to the 4 song sample EP (available on walrustheband.bandcamp.com) will continue to push the small town success of a groovy garage band and turned their sound into a sensation being discovered by entirely new communities. Family Hangover, most recently previewed at Lawrencetown Legion Branch #112 will be  in hard copy by June. Until then, sit back with some paints and create some happy little  trees with these boys’ regular faces as your instructors.
https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=112672693/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/
While they were in Lawrencetown, I asked these lads some familiar questions:
Hardest ever laughed
  •  MurphyDad’s house in Grand Falls (answers to this question are so often family related!)
Fave place to play
  • Hadley
  • Commodore Ballroom
  • Quebec City (Mostly because of the DIY scene they have built there, the venues always have a good turnout and people who get right into it.)
Fave song
  • Don’t look back in anger – Oasis
  • Thomas Tank Engine theme song (Keith)
 Fave cover song
  • Lucky Man by the Verve (played at show!)
Best road trip jams
  • Howard Stern, Serial podcast, Stone cold steve austin, Ricky gervais, Sirius radio stations
(Side note: My connection to loving satellite radio goes back to Said the Whale, when I was in Alberta, still very much connected to the christian community. I was the only one in the car who liked the music but I realized then “the church discouraged what was within me” – re: new lyrics! – the connection to the indie music scene developed from there, and when I was able to hear My Government Heart live, it was a  big ol deal.) This connection from hearing a band in digital form and then finally hearing (and seeing!) IRL the interaction required to create a full, dynamic sound. I love what that Discovery’s lead to. ‘i discovered my heart had become the earth,’ said the whale. and so, the story continues.
What is your Patronus/spirit animal? [clarified the intent is more the epitome of happiness that drives you, to appreciate the significance of spirit animals as a traditional indigenous honour statement; Patronus required a bit of a refresher but lead singer Justin was keen to fill his drummer bro Jordan in on its ability to provide safety for you as an embodiment of your greatest form of love]
  • Keith (new) identifies as a fox with cunning abilities
  • McGrath identifies with an owl
  • Jordan, hockey stick? ‘What does that say about me?’
  • Justin was curious about what object he could be if Dan was a bookshelf…..
(see my interview with Astral Swans, another on Madic Records’ label, about another way to answer this question.)

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Hat’s off to Walrus for a community gathering alternative venue show at Legion Branch #112 in March 2017

Good luck in Europe! Goo Goo Gajoub!
(What’s holding you back from organizing a show of your own? Get in touch with madichouseconcerts@gmail.com with any questions for hosting an alternative venue or house concert.)
http://www.madicrecords.com/madic-house-concerts/

geo-madic musings: leaving forests be

Regardless of the instance, I’m always seeking a better way.  For the sake of saving time or saving face it’s why we’re here in the first place. It’s why we sought out these third places of our past – for solace and sympathy, for challenge and calamity. For comfort, and for refuge from the fear of saying ‘i don’t know’ yet again.

But we’re not all here from the same past and we’re all going to different futures –  when the worth of our bettering loses sight of that quest it’s time to hold back and just agree. Sometimes, it sucks. Sometimes, it’s harder than it should be. I want to say it’s possible but the roadblocks that detoured me here said that some things aren’t supposed to be changed – at least not yet. Sometimes you need to take a reprieve and take a leave of absence.

Find yourself in the leaves of the forest, or in the generalized polygons of the forest. It’s all for something if it’s not for naught.

Give your struggle meaning. It will figure itself out along the way.

Ask questions, and accept answers. find ways to make giving a shit fun.

Ch-Ch-Changes on the same Theme

I was making this playlist on paper, then spotify, when i decided i needed to think a bit more deeply about 2016 so I called up my grand-family friend. We talked about his life, and about mine. And all the things I think of when I’m offline, i’ve discovered, are key pinpoints of my brain’s inner workings that I’m thankful i have.

I support the conversations with elders in our personal story. For wisdom, for kindness, and yes… quickly witted comments about the state of the world. But also an informed sweetness, to know the benefit of reflection,  to have moved on from so much until this point,  the memories which remain are not only valuable.. They’re all you’ve got.

Having a conversation with this grandfather-figure  not too long ago, he  told 3 separate stories to make a point about serendipity.  Each of these stories  (snapshots of moments – 1000 words to paint a picture) involving himself and our dearly missed MB. Their lives crossed over in odd ways for 20 years,  living separate lives, with reason to interact  at first – then contact became sparse,  as needed but always welcome as the years went on. He recalled: “It was around the time my father died, I called her up, as I hadn’t done in quite some time. I rang and she answered.” He said, in a particular manner, ‘I knew there was something the matter with her the moment I called.’ … “then you find out why”

Her father had also died.

She says: ‘oh my god it’s you’

With that, no need to go into details. You go straight to empathy.

That moment, and a few significant others, were moments of that serendipity.  He explained, now, after her end and our grieving: “There’s truly a chapter for each one. {45 years from now., ago} He continued, how a previous instance, he courageously decided to mention the importance of their interaction, on the cusp of her marriage. I’m going to have to say some things to you.. ‘I have no interest in getting in the way […] I really care for you. And the reason I’m telling you now is that it doesn’t matter’ And she never took me up on that dinner. But I was there, at the beginning and the end, in moments

The transition .. If you want to know…” And I did.

so, we continued to talk about the distance they survived, by means of networks of community and places of important beauty. Both in storyline and landscape.

From this chat, I reflected how this version of the same synthesis In my context Has not been easy but it has been kind many times over. This transition, is twisting the story in  important ways Until the time comes to demand we accept our capacity ..for foolishness of love, for impatience, for cruelty, for fear.

And in that appreciation of oneself, we see without astigmatism.

In this conversation, we also talked music and how Leonard Cohen had passed away. How on his latest album everything was softer, darker, still so characteristic of his style. And that he was reflecting on the end of his life, and produced a summation album of his wisdoms as he collected them and made a career out of it.

‘make sure you listen to Treaty, and include that one in your list,’ he says.

and so i did, track no. 13. in a Dan Mangan sandwich with Gord Downie alongside some modern favourites closer to the heart, within local networks. i’m honoured and delighted to be able to collaborate favourite memories next to each other. And within modern streaming, to create and share a mixtape with the people making the music in real-time.

and a little bit, of all of it, is the Beatles too. and that’s cool with me. especially on days when the weight of the world is a bit too heavy on my aching shoulders (i.e. mapping laptop)..

gratitude for growth

My friends are people who are doing well, who are happy purposeful people. They are connected by those who I have chosen to keep around, the fabric of my life I knew was important the moment I met them.

This has been the case with series of people in various places of my living, in only 26 years. I am grateful and bewildered by the community which supports cheerfulness, and magnifies the weight of living next to the weight of grief.

Many of the words that cycle through my head are memories of lives I am still living, in the alternate headspace of nostalgia, in the refusal to forget things which truly mattered.

The past few years have been a magnificent surprise. Reassurance from whichever cosmic forces once felt like tricksy fools have become the hedwigs of serendipity – when I least expect it, a peaceful beacon of comfort. A reminder that there is another world beyond the one our physical body is living in.

Thanks to cell phones, and facebook, and instagramming our favourite snapchats of the day all help stitch our favourite memories of today next to the imperfect offering of yesterday. We weave these fabrics as solo agents, but also beside each other more honestly than many cultures previously had permitted.

These moments unite us with stitches of fisherman’s twine. Accidental lessons, and futuristic dreams become one in the same, less distant with every odd seed creating the most beautiful flower. Less out of reach when trees widen above as they do below; less disconnected when we understand our fears run as deep as our love.

Without naming particular names, it is hard to tell the details of the story which has been a result of a serious attitude adjustment, quarter-life identity crisis, and vulnerable strength enough to pursue a particular fascination with hopes to turn it into a career.

The map of this journey has been a yin-yang  of jungalungalays and having fun with da baes. (in the Bay of Funday)

It has been a road trip and a train journey. It has been a reminder of human endurance, and resulting creativity.

I am sure to document each new particularly important era by means of travel notes and desire paths – both real and imaginary.

I do not pretend you understand me. But I offer you the most sincere challenge to get to know me,  if you care to do this two step in 3/4 time

I am hardly a heartbreaker, but I hope for the best in all our smiles.

This series of eras, of my getting to know myself, happened in waves. Like any privilege may offer, there were blissful opportunities to understand happiness. Yet like most of reality, though the world it might be dangerous, all it seems to do is turn – meaning the best situations get shaken up sometimes. My lesson of the decade is how we can all be hurt sometimes; and we can all sometimes hurt.

I keep myself a half step back from most crowds, until I want to be right in them.

I find safe spaces to remain cautious in, yet trust people in the concert crowd brushed their teeth when they ate pad thai for supper.

(of course the security is false, peanuts are everywhere. Danger is everywhere. We have a blissful setting which can be tuned into.

It doesn’t mean I’m always happy, it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable half the time. But it does allow for the opportunity.

The opportunity to become more true to myself is something which I never knew the magnitude of…in this capacity. Love is an indominable fear that we must live through all the time. If we do things correctly, we can work through the fear and become stronger people.

Gay Nineties “Decadent Days”

I’ve had the pleasure and delight of meeting the band members of Gay Nineties a few times, thanks to the years I lived in Edmonton, AB. The year Parker came through on a tour with Mounties bandmates Hawksley Workman, Steve Bays, and Ryan Dahle I recieved a signed drumstick from a friend over at SONiC 102.9. I had no clue who this Parker Bossley  was who drew the cutest of hearts near the end of this gift, but soon after his partnership with the Mounties dissolved his band Gay Nineties began to tour. When they came through Edmonton I made a point of attending, and visiting the merch table after the show to chat. No matter if i was attending alone, or with a friend, it was a great night filled with posivibes.

That first album, Liberal Guilt, meant so much to my mental health – to understand sexuality next to anxiety, to appreciate success in love and earthly experience. When I learned they were playing an early afternoon show at SONiCBOOM 2015, I jumped at the chance to swoon once more. The psychology of their lyrics are encouraging:

“it’s like we’re living in a dream //

let me get you into my life, i don’t wanna have to think twice”

the timing of these lyrics into my life was a perfect way to send my wheels of productivity out the window. I got wrapped up in the serendipity of dream-like events narrating my goals. I didn’t know what i wanted, so i responded accordingly to that which was happening around me. I pursued that which was producing these moments of synchronicity: real and honest people behind the music I loved. Whether that meant supportive friends with new music to suggest, or radio friends connected to the industry, or the musicians themselves… i fully engrossed myself in the curation of the moment to its fullest capacity.

Parker describes an album by Grace Jones (interview: My Favourite Things) as a “sexy, surreal, androgenous” production – similar reasons to why I enjoy parker’s contributions to my music awareness. That, as creators of ideas, the personalities are extraordinary.

The dream-like state of the entire experience from 2014 until now has been pretty incredible. The personal transformation narrated by these lyrics and simultaneous stories is something i didn’t know how to appreciate or make use of at the time. But now, a few steps from the place in that time, I feel refreshed by it.

Parker is a name that perks my ears up – I just assume if Mr. Bossley is involved it’s gonna be psychadelic and strange in the most delightful reassuring way. I often stop by Parker St. in Halifax and talk to the trees in the park nearby; the moon and I communicate with silent glances while the streetlights and traffic movement serve as melody to the synchronicity.

The last time I was there was on a walk yesterday evening alongside some best buds on a happenstance of a mid-winter, mid-week meetup. Previously, I was alone, with an iPod for company, and shuffle landed on “Jude” by Dan Mangan. It’s a song with a lot of weight – even if my chosen name didn’t mirror the title, or the Beatles references serving as an undertone in the commonality.

Lyrics in that gem offer similar thought-stimulating comfort:

“so much for bones to pick; so much for fear//so much to fill you in on, now that you’re here// timing is everything, moments arrive//it ain’t no accident, planets align”  (Dan Mangan)

as I think about how this is a perfect summary of the past few years the responsibility to be more of a Jude and take on the world. All kinds of echoing musical advice follows those thoughts too: don’t make it bad, don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and well, you know it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder. (oh, hey Beatles…)

I’ve gotten by with quoting these lyrics as a way to network quickly. I still ponder the true message of the whole thing. It’s a call to action as a leader, but also as a lover. We want to care, and empathize, and contribute to the community around us. But we are also haunted by the demons of failure, fear, and vulnerability.

at the intersection of Parker and Jude, i am strengthened to take on the world.

But even more important, I’m empowered to allow myself to love as honestly as I am capable. In the face of the angry, hateful fear ruling political decisions, the hope created by these interactions with music and the rest of living are critical for keeping sane.

I’m all for documenting our intersections into each other’s lives, and making those collaborations better, but I’m also about keeping out tsunamis of disaster.. as the moon got too close, my cosmic awareness was a tide that washed out some of professional rhythm.

As much as I love Parker’s music, i have had to distance myself from the community which introduced his beauty in the first place. That letting go has been cleansing. The dream which introduced inspiration into my life was something that (now, I see) was temporary.

The future is still to come, and I am more careful now with attachments. But Parker is still one of my top 3 potential kid names… and i’m ever so grateful for the empowerment which resulted from learning how to talk to musicians as publically real people, thanks to those dear radio friends.

I’m working on acceptance, appreciation, + civil duty to address that which needs improvement and/ or radical change. I’m committed to growing a career which will support this interest in thoughtful responses to the world. Whether that’s in map, music, or hugs, I’m not comfortable staying silent in a world in such distress.

to those who have contributed to this vulnerable strength, I thank you. for those who continue to fight louder, stronger, and more deliberate, i support you. for those trapped by new systems of rules, i want the world to accept diversity for you and us all.

as for the Gay Nineties: try on this new music video for size. great new work, team! in honour of those decadent days which sustain our lust for luxury..

http://www.sonic1029.com/2017/01/06/listen-gay-nineties-decadent-days-new/

 

rest in peace,2016

electionjohnoliver

There’s been a lot of talk about how 2016 is the worst year ever. I’m not about to argue that the deaths of 50 beautiful + inspiring souls has created a dampened spirit in the hearts of global networks. These individuals we look to for inspiration, and eagerly appreciate any newsworthy actions from high profile celebrity of great respect.

Is it really the worst year ever? We haven’t experienced a global war this year, nor have we seen great amount of disease. There have been unfortunate and unnecessary massacres all over the world, so yes, it has been filled with tragedy. Including that time Donald Trump stole the US Election….

However, these statements of “worst year ever”are not about the syrian refugee crisis or about climate change becoming a worsening problem. These are statements fuelled by a presumed loss of hope by the bringers of musical, artistic optimism meeting the end of a fruitful, wonderful life. We collectively mourn in status updates and meme-ingful displays on social media. However, this does not well reflect the affect such art has had on our living. I have chosen to show gratitude with each of these stars’ passing, as many others around the world have as well – in a burst of reliving their collective bodies of work. Celebrations of their living do more than bursts of mournful sorrow. Both are expected, but to summarize the sudden loss of our heroes in the statement of the ‘worst year ever’ while cursing the power 2016 has had is to discredit the opportunity we have had to indulge in these magnificent authors of our culture. Celebrity Deaths of 2016 (Summary)

To name a few ways from my own experience, I would not have seen Die Hard with the same interest or conviction (for the first time) had Alan Rickman not passed away in January, nor would i have conducted an interview with an Edmonton connection about the impact of David Bowie had his passing . I was reminded of the power and strength of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful poetry as I relistened to his most mournful classics next to strangefully hopeful ballads. Prince’s death came as a surprise, and because of social networking, I (like many others) learned more about his life than we ever knew because of his untimely death.

Leonard Cohen’s passing, on Remembrance Day of all days, hit me particularly hard, as I realized so many of his iconic words were in the soundtrack of my upbringing. Moreso, they were sung by a family friend who is already gone. I’d already lost my favourite baritone version of So Long, Marianne, before the original was taken by time. The magnificence of his poetry will always be on the ‘to read’ list because there’s always going to be something new to discover..

Most recently, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away with a day of each other – epitomizing the heartbreak we are all feeling as a product of grief, especially as the year draws to a close. Star Wars defined the feminists, the fragile, the Force… In our growing culture of understanding instead of condemning difference, Carrie was a guiding light to help us be more real with ourselves in facing mental illness and addiction. As an icon she was revered but sought to be respected as an individual.

we all loved you, Princess. rest easy. your legacy and inspiration will continue to guide us. #carriefisher #confidence #action

A post shared by hey, i'm jude (@judelovesquestions) on

This is a theme which has been of great prominence in my personal appreciation of public figures. Until thorough examination of personal patterns, my default was to idolize and place people of high regard on pedestals, away from the unsavoury entrapments of humanity. But they are individuals facing health concerns and uncertainties in similar ways. Like our aging parents and grandparents, they too will face memory loss, poor health, and death. Psychological distress can happen to anyone, particularly those facing Life.

This year’s personal and public ripples of community have informed a change of heart –  that our humanity is continually enlightened as we move beyond struggle. Art is the end of confusion and beginning of refocusing beyond pedestals. Our connection to the importance of an artwork means that the creator of the work is simultaneously more and less valuable. The potential for them to create more enhances their worth, but since the idea is released they do not need to be as present

Each one of these celeb deaths invited us to reflect on our connection to their work, to enjoy the company of this public identity once more as conscious enjoyment informs our appreciation. Yet, the irony of timeliness is funny, how the presence of their genius has been preserved in technologic time capsules – consecutive flat pieces of camera film or circles of plastic vinyl grooves allow our memory to rest in the peace they have left for us.

I think part of this anger and confusion that is projected through social media as many stars leave the earth in droves is a reminder that we have loved their work and never been able to tell them about it. So together, we find ways to honour the memories they have helped us create together – wthout them. It begins a new era of their fame – posthumous adoration is out of their control. In a way, it gives us more power to define their legacy once the work has reached completion.

As this ‘horrific’ year comes to a close we must remember that however 2017 comes to us, the loss of this aging. trailblazing generation is natural as time rolls on. The work they have produced has informed our growth and is not going anywhere so long as we continue to access it.

It is a blessing to know the world at the depth we are able, so, thank you 2016 for reminding us of all the inspiration which keeps this pale blue dot a beautiful place to live.

Going forward into 2017, the things that worry us have become the problems we can solve: displaced war refugees, unjust seizures of power under the guise of democracy, basic human rights for our neighbours identifying as something other than heteronormative, and ecological instability which will inform our activism.

Surprisingly, i’m not entering into 2017 blindly optimistic that it will reach some sort of normal. Because once this kind of shit starts, it often spirals out of control. Unless, as in the famous words of Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not gonna get better, it’s not. 

So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to care a whole awful lot about the things we CAN change. And let the stuff we can’t simply wash over us. Take it in, surf the wave, and breath in every new day without the weight of despair. Take care of yourself, and let others take care of their own self. Ask for help; offer help.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year is that no one makes it out alive.And dwelling on nostalgic wishes will only keep us depressed. Whether it’s a race to the bottom or apologetic anxiety encouraging a clamour to the top, there’s still going to be someone who calls it soda when you call it pop.

Some advice, if you’ll take it? Calm down, wave au revoir to whatever disaster you may have caused in 2016, and remember to tell those whom you appreciate that they matter.

This has been the year to remember to let [her/him/they/them/it/us] into our hearts, to make a sad song just a little bit better, to sing the NANANANA’s just a little bit louder. This has been the year of embracing the strength of your vulnerability.

2016 has cracked but is not yet shattered, let the light pour in.

In memory of all those we have lost. In honour of all we have been given. Goodbye, 2016.

**header image: screenshot of Dan Mangan’s music video for Race To the Bottom, Youtube 2016.

Cartographic Conversation

This past September I packed up my life from the corners of Canada where I’ve been hiding and moved to the Annapolis Valley for the first of two years attending CoGS, a respected but secret place for mapheads.

(cover photo courtesy of NASA, landsat5,+ ERDAS Imagine)

I have embraced my affinity for visual memory recall, and the affinity for photos, spatial displays, and visualized directions whenever possible. Ergo, it was about time I took those skills and developed them into something employable.

Getting here took a year of being unemployed, detaching myself from the emotional loss of a comfortable job, and resettling in a new version of familiar on the other side of Canada.  During this time I got to the heart of what I truly love – spending some time and “Pogey” dollars on travel. By the time I wound up back on the East Coast in March 2016, I’d been to every other land province in the country  for atleast 12 hours since leaving Edmonton in Fall 2015. (Sorry Newfoundland, someday!)

And yet, it was the best kind of preparation I could have designed for myself. If I were to do it all again, I would do few things differently if only for the improved state of mental wellbeing. Road regrets aside, I’m glad to have documented many of the adventures on paper maps with coloured notes. Pathways + people of places etched into memory banks. These banks I draw from on days when transition gets too heavy.

Here, is Lawrencetown (not the beach). For a town that turns out hundreds* (*~2) of cartographic wizards annually, it’s constantly surprising how confusing its location can be for nearly everyone trying to figure where they have to go to be spatially informed. A college tucked in the heart of the Annapolis Valley, it turns out. It’s not really on the map for much, but it hits the mark for maps.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the course of the past year, and I’m exceedingly grateful for the amount of rad tunes, fun folks, and window-seat-views I have the privilege to remember.

The next step, as it always is with growth, is to take what was and magnify into a continued beauty. Mapping opens the doors to what I have always Trump-ed about: what “should” be and how it “could” be done. Damn him and that attitude. Independent thought is alive and well. Love conquers hate.  Questions conquer fear.

Fear has no place here, says the wise Ken Stead.

So much for fear, echoes another bearded bard Dan Mangan.

In every ounce of sadness, confusion, and melancholy, there is a fellow human who has lived through worse and wants to share that moment with you. Music wins.

I’ve come to learn many parallels between cartography and composition. Notes and phrases move across piano keys as swiftly as the eye connects dots via contour lines, streets, and rivers.

Psychogeography is just that – allowing emotion to bleed into the documentation of living.

For now, it’s watersheds and text placement. Remotely sensing our community’s infrared, even, has a colourful subtext.

So much for Alberta.. Time for happiness in the form of hectare calculations.

thanksgivingdem

straight lines + colonial times (poem)

we’re taught how geography is straight lines, 

in clusters, 

forming cities. 

so we learn the names, who runs them, 

and his-story’s take on how they came to be. 


these straight lines occasionally bend around curving water

and rising hills. 

we know them because of

the flat maps of documentation

we inherit, these important memories

reduced to textbooks. 

we memorize. rarely feeling their textures of culture.
 

part of this learning, of how to carry this tradition,

is about building more and better, always. 

never ceasing to explore. 

document, collect, report back. 

this is the formula of colonialism // our heritage


we learn how to cross the river, not how to follow it. 

skipping over the earth’s chapter on flexibility. 

the inherit importance of curving around a rock, 

not blasting through it, 

may be one of the quietest secrets

eroding from our awareness 

with each new set of lines


this type of geography - systematic at best - denies understanding

of cultural nuance. spatial play. 

what it means to explore, truly and gently. 

rather than rape our land of its value. 

we are learning. we must. always. 

how to carve out cravings, and how not to. 

differently from tradition, if tradition is only a temporary gain


the same way feminism redefines equality 

against hard-headed men

in new ways, each generation’s own bra burning is different.

yet the redefining teaches the crude essence of humanity. 

passionate individuality our greatest and most cursed gift. 

emboldened community our saving grace.


to speak for all the world, and yet hear nothing, 

is a failure of many ‘great’ leaders. selfish explorers. 

fearful of what they might find in places ‘untouched’. 

fabricating myths and drawing such fear on maps. 

for them the value of the world is in power; 

what namesake can be stolen, ascribed, and profiteered.

redefined in industrial lenses. 

resources for the marketplace. 

we are told that is the worth of the earth.


as colonial byproducts we can hardly justify

any of our biases. but as humans we must do something 

(or many tend to feel strongly we should try)

is equalized stasis the goal? 

socially and psychologically, 


in this moment of security

as you cup that hot mug of cumulative achievement

and satisfying refreshment


look outside and notice your reflection

alongside the others in the glass.


question this moment, 

is it time for it to pass?