“I define myself as an ex-smoker, but I am just as quick to have a drag of your cigarette—see it as a metaphor for the same symptom, labelling myself as whatever is honourable, but still sucking the tit of convenience.”
— Owen Pallett, The Black Notes of Owen Pallett.

Wagers I’ve Lost

To fellow rookie Cartesian Stevenson, upon my selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft (194th pick), for the wager of my first paycheck, that I would be starting at defensive tackle by the fifth game of the regular season.

To my older brothers Gilbert and Shawn, for the wager of one Rolex Day-Date II watch apiece, that the dancers at an establishment such as Goldust do not double as escorts; that my new girlfriend, who performed nightly at said nightclub, was therefore not an escort, no damned way; and that it didn’t matter anyway, because if love is blind, then I’m motherfucking Stevie Wonder.

To same, plus younger brother Chad, at my bachelor party, as my fiancée’s erstwhile coworkers gyrated on our laps, for the wager of one seven-day trip to Cabo San Lucas, that the marriage would last more than six months.

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NASA’s Multitasking Abilities Leave Something To Be Desired

If you’re fond of the idea of putting people in space—and while I’m a big, big fan, I’m aware of the arguments against it—the last week has brought some pretty solid news. NASA has completed its first Orion space capsule, the vehicle intended to put astronauts into deep space on (most likely) a mission to an asteroid as a proving ground for an eventual mission to Mars. The Orion is going to be fuelled in advance of an uncrewed test flight in December, which is a big deal for an agency that’s had more than a few reversals since the loss of the Columbia 11 years ago.

While NASA properly aims for deep space, it’s also firing off a few rounds from the money cannon in the direction of Boeing and SpaceX to develop the next generation of glorified space buses. That’s not a dig: I’m fond of buses, too. What NASA needs, though, is someone to do the mundane-in-2014 job of putting people in orbit of the Earth and safely returning them to the ground, and it would be just nifty if those someones weren’t currently in the employ of the Russian government.

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Gif by Tony Gray and Tom Farrar / NASA

The Black Notes of Owen Pallett

What’s it like touring with Arcade Fire again? Has it changed the way you perform under your own name?

I love playing with Arcade Fire. For me it’s about giving my self-obsession a bit of a vacation. I like the music, I like the people, and they seem to enjoy having me around both socially and musically. But the important thing for me is the feeling of humility, to be not-invisible but definitely-anonymous. It’s good exercise for me, to be working on a project that requires “subservience.”

I was struck by the sense of social ossification on “On a Path,” this notion that the early-2000s cultural eruption I guess we still call Torontopia might have cooled into suffocating rock. It’s like, augh, these integral experiences have become inescapable, how do I create new ones again? Plus you’re eating better bagels now.

I am fine with nostalgia—I don’t think of it as decadent or anything—but at the same time, I don’t tend to get caught up in it, so that is my privilege. I did however start to feel this crushing sense of non-progressiveness around my 14th and 15th years of living in Toronto. On a basic level, living in Toronto is untenable, the city has been fucked by developers and there are no low-income class options for tenants. But those developers have to live with their legacy of shit, which is no small load.

On a personal level, I’d been hearing “when did Torontopia die?” since 2006, I’d seen every other band and cultural micro-movement give up the ghost. Kids two-to-five years younger than me were more into doing coke and dancing to mash-ups than playing music. (Then there was a second wave of music-making kids. Then it was coke and mash-ups again.) In a way, what attracted me to Montreal—aside from the dry winters, the French language, the beauty of the city, the cheaper rent—was that there are so many musicians here that still have the same attitude I had and still have. I’m still up for touring and making albums and flyering and postering, I’m game to stay up til 4 a.m. watching noise bands. I don’t have a mortgage or a car or any kids. There are people here in their 50s and 60s still gigging and loving life.

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Our parents got us cute tote bags! (And hey, they will be at Word On The Street in Toronto on Sunday, and so will we! Come say hi and meet this formidable beard.)

Nation-Building As An Act of Violence

hazlittmag:

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Say this for Sean Connery: it takes some massive balls to back Scottish independence from his perch in the Bahamas, having self-declared his own independence from obedience to trivialities such as tax and planning law. But there he his, writing in the pages of the New Statesman that “there is no more creative an act than creating a new nation.” To which we can say, unequivocally: crap. Nation-building is an act of violence, even in the best cases where the status quo is destroyed merely with the weapons of rhetoric. The worst cases don’t bear mentioning here.

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Julia Dault: Beauty at a Complicated Angle

Do you choose the colours before you start?

Not exactly, but there’s a logic to my palettes and patterns. I also build compositions within specific rule sets. I am not, for example, permitted to mix any base colours, but must respond directly to the industrial colours—straight from the tube. The patterns reveal themselves the longer you look. Many of the paintings are done less by the application of paint and more by the removal of it. I work in layers, and I use various tools to scrape off the topmost layer by hand and reveal the patterns underneath.

“The hand” is something I hear a lot about from contemporary artists now.

Yes. How do you show the hand of the artist when everything you do can be replicated in Photoshop or AutoCAD? When everything can be fabricated or subcontracted? When I make sculptures, I always work alone and on site—without help or pre-planning. I build this way because I want the process and the result to be in perfect equilibrium.

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Deputy Editor @jordanginsberg does not find this berry funny.


(Get it?)

Nation-Building As An Act of Violence

image

Say this for Sean Connery: it takes some massive balls to back Scottish independence from his perch in the Bahamas, having self-declared his own independence from obedience to trivialities such as tax and planning law. But there he his, writing in the pages of the New Statesman that “there is no more creative an act than creating a new nation.” To which we can say, unequivocally: crap. Nation-building is an act of violence, even in the best cases where the status quo is destroyed merely with the weapons of rhetoric. The worst cases don’t bear mentioning here.

Continue