Friday, September 16, 2011

Je pensè il ya des la bellefleur

Sad news today as local Trois-Rivierès cultural icon Jean-Pierre Bellefleur has been reported as missing in today's edition of local newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

Mr. Bellefleur was last seen heading east up the St. Lawrence seaway in his antique cedar-strip canoe, singing Voyageur tunes, shirtless and wearing his trademark denim shorts and red bandana, using a case of Laurentide as ballast for the front of the canoe.  He was reported as being "extremely agitate, him" by local sources who witnessed Mr. Bellefleur walking down Boulevard Sainte Madeleine smoking, drinking, cursing, yelling and looking for a fight with anyone English-speaking.  His ex-girlfriend of five years, Huguette Lafreniere-Willis, was approached for her reaction Thursday but the notoriously publicity-shy Lafreniere appeared to be rather intent upon finishing her jumbo poutine while simultaneously smoking and drinking three different kinds of beer to offer any intelligible comment.

Mr. Bellefleur was apparently upset over his recent decline as the city's unofficial mascot and good-luck charm after staging a graphic and widely publicized protest against "repressiveness and old-world values" in 2006 that earned him nationwide attention and legions of internet fans.  He had been upstaged lately by Puanter (Stinky) - a smoking, hard-drinking, one-eyed poker-playing bear with a penchant for dropping loose change on the floor near pretty girls.  Bellefleur, who had not been seen in public wearing a shirt since his story went viral, had recently spent his life savings to purchase a large quantity of stock in RIM, convinced it was going to, as he put it, "frickin' shoot to da moon".

There will be a candlelight vigil held this evening near the site of Mr. Bellefleur's disappearance.  There is plenty of free parking - jus' go at the Bière Store lot, you.

Pat Travers - Fidelis

Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up  

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm one of Pat Travers' biggest fans from way back, and yet somehow I missed this album when it came out over a year ago...  That's what getting older does to you.
After listening for a few weeks, it has become very apparent that this is his best effort since 1982's Black Pearl.  The man is 57, has been recording since 1976, and still has the energy, conviction and drive of someone decades younger. He also seems to have regained his writing touch. Eleven original PT-penned(!) songs with some genuine surprises and lots of smokin' guitar work as always.
Standout tracks include "Edge of Darkness", "Then I'll Fall", "Save Me" and "Josephine" which features an out-of-nowhere reggae-style break that hasn't been heard since his early-80s heyday. There are no duds sprinkled in among the running order, but some "funny voices" threaten to spoil a couple of the songs.

There's a great story on the recording and writing of this album that I'll try to link to when I find it.  The name "Fidelis" alludes to several things including keeping the faith, also the longevity and loyalty of many of his fans.  His lovely wife Monica sings backup on several of the tracks and does a bangup job.

Overall, PT's vocals are among the best he's ever recorded and are finally a match for the power and passion of his guitar work.  Never the strong suit of his early recordings, his voice has matured and has become a powerful instrument on its own and acquired a gritty, soulful feel that perfectly suits his style.

Highly f#$!ing recommended, not the least of which is the fact that it was recorded at an undisclosed remote location in Northern Ontario, which is also name-dropped on the cut "Then I'll Fall". The verse in question never fails to raise the hair on my arms. Always the sign of a good piece of music in my book. Comeback album of the year, even if that year was 2010.

Get it now...  and for God's sake if you get the chance, see him live.

R.I.P. Radio
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Creaulx 2.0

That's it - I quit!... is what I'm tempted to say with regards to all forms of social networking - Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc - in the hopes that it sticks this time.  Having officially turned into my father sometime last year, I realize what a huge waste of otherwise productive - or at least enjoyable - time it really is.  However, I also know my inner teen slacker self well enough to realize that the internerd ain't going anywhere and neither am I, at least in the short term.  Meanwhile, Web 2.0 is now somewhere up around Version 9 and propagating as rapidly as fruit files on a pile of rotten bananas.  Facebook may be the gold standard, but it's become stagnant, inert, and a vehicle for advertising and 20th-Century media to attempt to remain relevant.  Speaking from experience, it's become a home for the over-40 crowd who are too tired and/or busy to actually go out with friends. Twitter is now a "must-have" although I have yet to figure out why, and Google Plus is hugely - and equally inexplicably - popular.  LinkedIn seems to add credibility to their idea of work-based networking, but there are just as many "friend collectors" there as anywhere else.  How many social network accounts must a man post on before you can call him a man?  Seriously, who has the time for all this electronic faux-interaction and is it worth mortgaging your real relationships for?  The answer is far too many and no, respectively.  Remember that in the end, you're really talking to yourself, an effect that is just as potent and has far more staying power when you aren't glued to a flat-screen monitor.

 The bright promise of electronic communication has fallen far short of what my hopes were just a few years ago largely due to the medium's transience.  No matter how good today's posts, there will be something shiny and new to ogle tomorrow, rendering today quickly forgotten.  I'll bet I'm not the only person to have lost three and four hours at a stretch to mindless link-surfing, and the attendant guilt when you realize your time would have been better spent sleeping...  Because of this, I've essentially given up on television over the last decade, no longer have the attention span to properly digest what I'm reading the few times I actually pick up a newspaper and seem to be more scatterbrained than ever due to the mutiple distractions provided by being always plugged in.  Yet my most vivid memories remain those of the pre-electronic age.  Note:  I did not say the Pleistocene Era, so please don't extrapolate too far out.

I've said it before and am ready to chant the mantra again - long-form writing is one good way to forestall early senility, almost as good as crosswords and Sudoku.  The big problem is anyone who would even be apt to read yet another piece of opinion-based writing has neither the time nor gives a rat's ass.  So, I do it for myself.  I consider it free cognitive therapy that may or may not be read by anyone with the capacity to add to the conversation.  It's very nearly the opposite of the quick buzz given by a funny status update or a detached non-sequitur on a social network.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed that everyone on Facebook is trying to be all funny all the time(!), and that's an impossibly high standard to achieve if you even wanted to.  Nothing valuable is shared or experienced when everyone is a sarcastic wiseass.  When everybody's hip, no one is cool. 

So don't read too much into this diatribe as I'm sure Kim Kardashian or Kat von D is up to something far more intellectually stimulating at this very moment.  All I'm really trying to do is give my undertaxed brain a kickstart.  Here's hoping there's enough viable gray matter left in the ol' girl to make this work.