THE GREAT JEWEL VORTEX

Add this to the list of things I thought I’d never say—”Check out this awesome Jewel video!”

For real though, I’m not sure what kind of YouTube vortex I went down that landed me on Jewel videos, but it happened. Wait, I do remember. I had intentionally looked up “Good Mother” by Jan Arden. (Ya fuck it, I did that; it’s a great song and I was in the mood for a powerful female vocals at the time, sue me). After my Jann Arden belt-out was over, I turned to the sidebar where they put suggested videos, and there was Jewel, but I didn’t go for the immediate nostalgia of those 90s videos we all know so well, no I went for innocuously titled video: “Jewel sings at karaoke in disguise.” Harmless enough. A modest 24, 000 views. Good to steal 4 minutes of my life, maybe make me laugh. Oh boy was I pleased.

The concept was trite enough, we’ve all seen celebrities in disguise videos, but there was just something different about this one that had me from the beginning. First of all, it had been years since I’d actually saw Jewel, and she still looked really great, but it wasn’t just good ‘ol Jewel that made it for me. I still can’t really place exactly what it was about this video that was so great. The editing? The small-town cast of characters? The songs? There was just something perfect about this whole thing; a je n’est sai quoi? Apparently I’m not the only one, as my favourite comment goes to YouTube user ‘Randy She’ with: “What is it about this vid that makes you watch it over and over?” I don’t know Randy She, I don’t know.

When it was over, naturally I clicked the next obvious suggested video in my YouTube Jewel vortex—”Best Howard Stern interview with Jewel.” I guess I was thinking, ‘Oh this’ll be good. Howard Stern’s going to make poor little Jewel so uncomfortable.’ WRONG! Jewel doesn’t get uncomfortable. Jewel is the master of her own desitny. Jewel turns men into little boys. Marvel as she even transforms Howard Stern from chauvinist pig into sensitive, smitten sweetheart. Truly though, this is also an incredible performance from the consummate radio interviewer, and together they cover a lot of ground in 45 minutes: her well-documented rise to fame while living homeless out of her car, her abusive relationship with her father and subsequent forgiveness, her mother’s abandonment and ill-timed return to Jewel’s life, the time she hitchhiked across America and into Mexico (during which time she penned Who Will Save Your Soul),  going on tour with Neil Young, being mentored by Bob Dylan, and anecdote after lovely anecdote after surprising anecdote.

But it’ not just the unexpected adventure lying secretly below the personal history of America’s folk sweetheart that makes this interview so compelling. It’s the sheer confidence and self-assuredness that she exudes, the motivational tidbits she drops about being true to oneself, and the level of perception and insight into her own character that she is able to apply to her life and career, that qualifies her to legitimately say she knows herself, and makes her, at least in this video, so heroic to me.

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Discovering RX Bandits

Does anyone remember that MuchMusic show called The Wedge? (MuchMusic… ya I said it). That show was great. When I was a younger, I discovered all kinds of strange and wonderful music from that show. It used to come on really late at night, and as I got into highschool and was sneaking in completely wasted on the regular, that show seemed to always be on the television while I massacred some late night snack. There were times I’d wake up in the morning and find pieces of paper on the coffee table, scrawled with names of videos and bands I’d seen on The Wedge and didn’t want to forget: RX BANDITS – HOPE IS A BUTTERFLY OR SOMETHING

To this day, this song remains one of my favourites, and the whole album from whence it came, Mandala, is amazing start to finish. Thanks drunk brain, for one last pulse of foresight before shutting down. Behold the video that caused it to happen:


Take a ride to find escape
She killed her past
For the future needs her
She told her lover to take her hand
For someone else’s fear
She’d break her back no longer, no…

It’s a virus
Of silence

Now get out, get out
the market place merry-go-round
Their mouths they move
but make not a single sound
All of our words are worthless wind
A loose lip sync
From a shell-shocked soldier
And when our fists bulge fat with sand
We wrap ripe ribbons
To fill our coffins full

It’s a virus
Of silence

Are you livin’ the life that you dreamed for now?
Or are you workin’ workin’ workin’ just to survive?
There’s a war that is waged
in the mind (it’s forced inside)
Between desire and the roles with to comply
I met a woman
she told me her secrets (she said)
Do what you love
cause in the end we only die…
And though the body may be imprisoned
Nothing can stop the bird of hope from taking flight

The someday syndrome epidemic screams
Confines our dreamscapes
in screens and picture frames

It’s a virus
Of silence

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The Greatest ONE-MINUTE MOVIE ever?

I’m not sure if they’re still doing these or not, but for awhile there, Geist Magazine was asking people to submit One-Minute Movies. What’s a One-Minute Movie you ask? Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. But there is (I believe) a certain element of storytelling that is being asked of its creator. In other words, like a really good short story, you’re trying to capture a brief moment in time, framed in a certain way as to express things like: the beauty of pastoral settings rarely captured on film, the mundanity of human existence, or simply the extraordinary amount of personality that any given minute on Earth can provide. If you’re lucky, your viewer will feel something exactly as you did.

The One-Minute Movie is the world as seen through the eyes of its creator; a small window into how they see and experience their own world. When I set out to capture my first movie, I headed to what was at one point (and still remains) one of my favourite places on earth. Granville Island was one of the first spots I discovered in Vancouver upon moving here 4 years ago, that truly impressed me and gave me the sense that things out West really were better than my home province of Ontario. This place was pure magic. Here is where people fell in love with the world. Colours were brighter, sounds more delightful and everyone, including myself, seemed to be tottering about in some sort of cinematic delirium, as if transported to the set of some overly saccharine rom-com. I dove in headfirst, drinking up all of that magic and allowing myself to fall blindly in love with these sensations, no matter of false they could potentially turn out to be. In short: I believed.

When I set my camera down on the bench beside me and hit ‘record’ I knew I’d get a winner no matter what, but little did I know I’d capture a moment that still haunts me (in a good way) today. Watch as a couple of small children chase about those famously aggressive seagulls, turning the tables back on them as only a child can. Watch as they scare the shit out of those birds, having a laugh, and then watch as a single feather floats to the ground. The little boy then finds himself in a confused moment where, perhaps he realizes the effect his tormenting is having on these birds; enough so for pieces of their body  to actually  start falling off. He studies the feather, confused by what he has discovered, then sets off to show his mother and surely ask her all kinds of wondrous and troubling questions. The scene continues with more birds, unaware passersby and a Bob Dylan cover pouring in from off-camera.

I don’t know, maybe I’m reading into a little too much, but I do know for certain  that every time I revisit this video, all those original feelings I had about this place, when I arrived as a wide-eyed, unspoiled young man ready to drink it all in, come rushing back and it feels damn good to be alive, if only for one, single minute.

See all the Geist One-Minute Movies on their YouTube page.

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Letters For Friends

I had a friend write me a letter the other day and it caught me really off guard. I thought it was just going to be a sort of Happy Holidays note or something, but it was so much more. Turns out, he had sat down and thought about all the things he liked about me and all the the things he said he has learned from being my friend, then he did what so many of us rarely do; he told me about them.

Needless to say I was speechless. Not only was it completely unexpected, it was also completely from the heart and, honestly, much of the stuff in that letter nobody has ever said to me before. That’s not to say that I didn’t already know some of those things about myself (at risk of sounding narcissistic), but really, if you’re out there running around behaving a certain way, oblivious to the way people are perceiving you, then I believe you’re doing it wrong.

We all act a certain way, whether we want people to notice or not. Sometimes we crave for people to notice, but most of the time we do things we don’t expect acknowledgment for. For the most part that’s totally cool, because we’re so worried about narcissism that we don’t want people to say anything about our favourite personal character traits. But there’s something interesting that happens when somebody unexpectedly acknowledges you for them: you become inspired to keep it up, and those character traits—the good ones—get engrained even deeper into you.

I propose we all tell the people close to us what it is we like about them more often. It’s pretty easy to do (just think how easily we tell people what we don’t like about them) and it can have a huge impact. If you’re struggling to think about something to say, try not to aim for something too epic. Try: “I really like how you calm you are,” or, “you’re really good at being on time,” or even, “you’re very patient when driving.” Chances are the person will already self-identify with those traits, but hearing it from someone else will only strengthen those traits in them, making them even better at those things and, in turn, the world a better place.

Who are you going to write a letter to?

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JOHN KER CINEMATOGRAPHY

My good and talented friend John Ker has put together a highlight reel featuring some of his awesome work from this past year. I’m very proud of this guy. I expect big things in 2014…

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2013 Resolutions — Win or Fail?

Around this time last year was that whole Mayan Calendar thing and we all thought the world was going to end. Kay, so we didn’t actually think the world was going to blow up (just yet) but we certainly used it as an excuse to get fucking wasted and it gave us all something to talk about for a while, which is all us boring old humans are looking for anyways (see: babies, dogs, new jobs, illnesses.) Hilariously, I just found this list of things tat I wrote in January of this year; things I wanted to focus on for 2013 that I made when (obviously) the world didn’t end. I thought I’d post them here today and do a checkup, to see which of these I followed through on and which I totally blew it on.

So the world didn’t end. Now what… It means we all get another chance to do better; to make changes in our lives and start sending things in the right direction. Consider today not the physical end of the planet, but the end of “the world” we have been living with and the beginning of a new world; one we can shape to be better than ever before:

  1. No more disposable culture: Free shit will always be just that. (FAIL: I became the publisher of a free magazine. But… I’m trying to make it not shit)

  2. Make things with your own hands (WIN: Started making local beef jerky and selling it to my friends)

  3. Talk to each other. Don’t keep it all bottled up inside. (WIN: Was having a severe bout of depression at one point and asked my friends and family for help)

  4. Give back to your community (WIN: Started SKATE CLUB with the Jamcouver and Writers’ Exchange)

  5. Be a role model to your own friends (WIN: Endured a difficult time in my career life, and turned it around into a new direction, all on display, and in consultation with, my amazing friends)

  6. It’s okay to look like you are having fun. Image is an image. (WIN: MC’d the Jamcouver 2013 skate contest in front of hundreds and asked Mike Carroll to recreate an old photo from my childhood.)

  7. Make informed choices about what companies you support (FAIL: I did buy most of my christmas presents from local artisans this year but overall, there’s so much more I could do)

  8. Be creative; exercise your mind (WIN-ish) I wrote a lot this year, for a few different magazines, though not enough towards my personal book projects)

  9. Put yourself out there (WIN:  Appeared on Global BC 6 O’Clock News)

  10. Be aware and participate in the world around you (FAIL: I’m failing myself on the basis that I did not contribute to this blog enough, and technically, that is part of the world around me)

Hmm, looking back it seems like for the most part I managed to put my money where my mouth is. I wonder if it’s because I made a list. I heard that if you make a list, like actually write it out somewhere, you are X% more likely to do it. What’s your list? I’m working on my new one right now. Oh ya, and I better get started on my 30 before 30 list….

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2014 New Year’s Resolution: Update this thing

Also:

  1. Get a homemade jerky business going #Dried&Prejudice
  2. Send more Postcards (See:@Postcardstories)
  3. Finish my short story about the summer I learned to juggle from a magician in a chip wagon.
  4. Get an indoor skatepark built
  5. Teach 25 kids how to skateboard in a safe and inclusive environment: Skate Club

 

  1. DriedandPrejudiceScreen Shot 2013-12-22 at 11.10.07 AM
    Skate Club

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