The other Post

Okay so the first post was about today and stuff I actually did and all that jazz, which was good, I had to get that down, but there’s something else, something more, something that reallydoesn’t fit in with that first post, so I’m going to do it here and now, in another post on the same day, which is a bit odd, but that’s the way love goes.

I’m in Richmond, VA, and it’s July and while this may not be the old south you think about when you think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, or even Streetcar Named Desire or whatever, Richmond is still kinda old south.  Definitely south of the Mason Dixon, definitely historically important, but also definitely fucking hot.  Let me say that again, it is FUCKING HOT here.  I already wrote some of my impressions of walking around Richmond the other day, but this is a bit different, picture all of this coming out of my mouth with a thick southern drawl, the words falling out of my mouth real slow like, cause in the south everything’s a bit slower.  The heat here isn’t actually that bad, but the humidity is killer.  I mean like it might kill you.  You walk out of some nice AC onto the street and it ain’t like you hit a wall, that would be too impersonal, the humidity here isn’t a wall you slam into it’s a 400lbs man sitting on your chest as he eats a bean burrito and giggles.  I’m figuring out that there’s a reason no one runs here, and it’s cause you will die.  You want to run in the south you join an gym and go find yourself a nice tread mill in a building with air so cold you can practically see your breath, cause you sure as hell are not running outside. 

This is all a bit cliche, but in the south, or anywhere when it gets this hot, but I’m in the south right now, so we’ll go with that, tempers flare just a little bit easier, people stay calm just a little bit less, and everything seems like it’s personal.  It’s fun to watch so long as you’re removed enough from the situation that you aren’t going to get dragged into it yourself.  I just watched a fiftyish black man scream into the intercom of an apartment building for what must have been 10 minutes, I couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, but I was glad I wasn’t involved, cause that dude was angry. 

Anyway, I think I had more to that thought, but it seems to have evaporated so I’ll let it go from there.  But just before I go, a quick update.  What I really really really hoped to get out of this vacation was just some time away, time to think, time to recharge my batteries and put certain things to rest and I hoped that after all was said and done I would have something to say again, something to write, but more than just that, the desire to write it.  And I do, or I’m starting to.  For the first time in months I want to write again, which is pretty fucking awesome.  I don’t know what I’m going to write yet, but I know I have something to say again and the will to write it down and that’s all I’m usually looking for.  Thank god, the last piece that has been missing is in place and I feel like me again, all of me.

-m

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The Lincoln Memorial

This is going to be the first of two blog posts for the evening, assuming I remain conscious long enough to write the second one.  This one is about today, and what a fantastic day it was and about other stuff too that’s a bit more esoteric and harder to pin down into nice easy to configure thoughts.

Today I saw the Lincoln Memorial.  I’ve seen it before, twice to be exact, but this time was special.  Long time readers, or friends will know that a couple years back I took a road trip with a buddy of mine to literally find America, or at least to see all the things I had theretofore only seen on television and in movies.  I saw New York (a city that immediately felt like home and one I will go back to as often as I can), Washington DC (an odd city of monuments to past glories and white marble) I saw the Moon Tower in Austin (from Dazed and Confused), I went to Vegas, I saw Mount Rushmore, and so many other things besides.  It was an important trip, a great trip and one that for various reasons was not quite as fulfilling as I had hoped, but that’s another story.

I don’t know why I wanted to see all these things, or rather I’m still not sure my reasons for wanting to see them are the real reasons I wanted to see them, which is a bit oblique, and deliberately so, I’m being facetious and serious at teh same time.  That was a hell of a run on sentence.  Neil Gaiman says something about this sort of thing in his novel American Gods, which is about a great many things and is a fantastic read if the ending does leave you wishing for just a little bit more satisfaction, but I digress.  What he said had to do with America and points of power and roadside attractions and the idea that people could feel things, these points of power and they would make the world’s largest rubber band ball and charge people five bucks to see it in one of these places of power.  I went to see some of these places of power, a bunch of them actually, and if I could change anything about that trip it would be that I would have seen more of them, not just the big ones, but the little oddities along the way that I passed doing 80 in the middle of the night without ever knowing they were there.  The only thing I did see that I wasn’t satisfied with was the Lincoln Memorial. 

The first time I was in Washington I was maybe 9 or 10, it’s a bit foggy in my memory, but I do know that I knew what the Lincoln Memorial was (I’d read about it in a comic book) and that at the time of that first visit it was closed for cleaning/repair and I did not get to see it.  I also remember my dad driving around DC looking for the White House and being completely unable to find it, but that again is another story.  The Second time, the time that was part of the road trip and looking for America and all the rest of that, would you believe, it was also being cleaned, and while it was not closed it was covered in Scaffolding that fairly completely obstructed my view of the massive statue. 

All that is really just my way of pointing out why today was special, and important and yadda yadda yadda.  I saw the Memorial, without scaffolding, and now I am happy.  Also had a great dinner at some Italian place a friend recommended to me and in general had a good day.  It was fun spending the day with Tarfia too, and exploring strange new places, or rather rediscovering places we had both been before.  We also went to Arlington and saw JFK’s grave and the tomb of the unknown soldier, where we witnessed the changing of the guards which was also very cool.

Mason Dixon and Other Thoughts

So I crossed the Mason Dixon line for probably the 11’th time in my life yesterday, but it was the first time I ever saw the sign.  Apologies to Dave if we saw it the last time we drove down and I just don’t remember.  I know it was the line that separated the North and South in the Civil War, or at least I think that’s what it was, but I wonder who it was named after and I’m curious why it’s still important.  I’m not curious enough to wikipedia it, that would be too easy, and the mystery is more interesting to me than an actual answer, but the importance, that is an actual thought.

I’m in Richmond Virginia visiting some old friends cause I needed a break and they were kind enough to let me come stay with them for a couple days.  I drove down yesterday in my new car, which was fantastic, if somewhat dark, lonely and very very rainy.  Richmond is, as far as I’ve been able to tell from my admitedly short tour through the city last night and hour long walk this afternoon, a city sort of divided.

It might be the outsider perspective, maybe native Richmondites don’t notice, but the city seems to be dying from the inside out.  I walked for blocks and blocks without seeing a single white person, and not that that’s a bad thing, although it is a bit shocking to my far more multicultural sensibilities.  I passed block after block of empty storefronts, closed businesses, boarded up showrooms.  I felt a bit like I was in Detroit again, and I didn’t expect to find that here.  And that’s what I mean about the city dying from the inside, there’s something wrong when local businesses can’t make a living in prime retail space, hell there weren’t even any chain stores in the part of town I was walking through.  I walked for over an hour and didn’t see a single business that looked like it was selling anything I would want to buy, and very few businesses at all until I hit the large office blocks down by the river, but even then there didn’t appear to be any retail or restaurants working.  Just empty storefronts and parking lots.  I’ve never seen so many parking lots.  I can’t even begin to tell you.  What I want to know is where are all the people who are parking these cars in these massive parking lots?  What are they doing here, because I couldn’t find anything to do.

There was also that class race thing that I always notice when I’m in the southern US (well except for Florida, but that’s because the only time I’m in FL I’m at Disney or Universal and the class/race thing doesn’t really impact theme parks).  Admittedly it was lunch time while I was walking around, but there were an awful lot of African Americans just sitting at bus stops and perching on stoops with no aparent place to be, and for every well dressed professional looking black man, I saw fifty others in wife beaters and old jeans smoking cigarettes and basically doing nothing.  What is that about?  I don’t pretend to be an expert on Race relations, not in my own country let alone in someone else’s, and I have no solution that doesn’t sound pretentious or naive, but seriously, get a fucking job.  When I did walk far enough to find white people they looked like most of the people I work with, dressed in business cas, walking with a sense of purpose towards this office or that, basically they looked like they had places to be and things to do, which would make them the polar opposites of the aformentioned stoop perching African Americans.  Maybe my view of race relations is coloured by the fact that I am a middle class white male living in a country that is significantly (though not entirely) less racist then our neighbor to the south.  Maybe being white means I can’t or won’t understand.  Maybe being male means I’ll never quite get suffrage either, who knows.  But what I do know is that life is what you make of it, and carrying a chip on your shoulder because three hundred years ago someone you are barely related to was taken hostage and sold (and fuck that is a deplorable thought, but it was three hundred years ago) might not be the best use of your time or energy.  That’s just my two cents, what the fuck do I know.

Anyway, I’m in Richmond, I think I’m going to go see Roanoke, because it interests me, have to hit DC only to see the Lincoln Memorial (again, but that’s a whole other story and probably a whole blog post about that one thing) and I’ve been told I have to go to Williamsburg and Jamestown, though I don’t know exactly why.  Would also like to see the beach while I’m here.  It’s been too long since I was in an Ocean.

Anyway, I’ll report on my vacation as it happens, at the moment I’m going to settle in and read a book for a bit while I wait for my hosts to return.

-m

Wow, and Then Some

So this blog had it’s best day ever yesterday, with people reading about Martin Streek, or about my memory of him and my sadness that he couldn’t find another way out.  Apparently people are searching for reasons or an explanation of how he died, and I’m not sure I even have the right to comment on that, I wasn’t there, and I have no first hand knowledge of it at all, but I’m going to weigh in anyway.

Martin Streek started working at CFNY when he was still a teenager, and given the timelines and the way these sorts of things work that made him 40ish last Monday.  His bio at the Edge website was almost certainly only half true, so you can discount the fact that it said he was 55, I don’t believe he was that old, unless he had failed a number of grades in school.  So far as I know the only job he ever had was working for The Edge, which he did for 20+ years.

Last spring he was fired, or let go or whatever euphamism you would like to use for, as far as I can tell, no FUCKING REASON AT ALL.  He didn’t get to say goodbye, he just vanished a month before Edgefest, his bio was removed from the Edge site and his time slots were given to other DJs.  No one talked about it, it was like a dirty little secret.  I’m guessing, and this is just a guess, he either pissed off the wrong person, or was a victim of Corus making a decision about direction and branding and whatever and deciding that Martin no longer fit the corporate mold.  Corus is the huge entertainment conglomerate that owns CFNY. 

Now, I’ve never had a job longer than a couple years, and I’ve never been fired, so I can only imagine what that must have felt like for Martin.  In all the years I listened to him, all the years I would run into him at clubs the only thing I can honestly say about him was he loved his job more than anything, save music, which he loved in a way that is usually only possible for a 14 year old.  Martin never got old, he still loved his music the way we all did in highschool, when it was important, when we cared, before 9-5 bullshit bogged us down and we got old.  I think that certainly it took a toll when he was told he would have to grow up, when he would no longer be the longest running DJ on CFNY.  I think Martin had a lot of demons, but I think that is what ultimately pushed him over the edge, so to speak.  This isn’t to say it is the management of Corus Enntertainments fault that he did what he did, but it stands to reason someone is going to blame them, and that’s not too far fetched. 

It’s not the way I would want to go out, but like I said, I wasn’t there. 

That’s my 2 cents, and probably a couple other people’s 2 cents too, just for good measure.  I maintain that this sucks more than I can put into words, and that I am deeply saddened by his sudden exit not just from radio, although that pissed me off, but from life in general. 

65 people checked this blog yesterday looking for answers to a question we are all asking and to which there probably is no answer.  That’s the biggest day this blog has ever had, and that should say how much he meant to so many of us.  Remember the man, thevoice and the music and the halloween costumes and fuck the rest.  None of the rest matters.  Don’t be angry and don’t look for answers, use that time to remember him, put on London Calling and kick back and remember.  Do something good with that energy, don’t scrounge it on wasteful things.

I’m listening to London Calling now, and I’m sure somewhere Joe Strummer and Martin are looking down at all of us while they chat about killer guitar riffs and awesome bass lines.  Keep a seat warm for us up there, we’ll see you again one day.

Martin Streek

It’s been a while and I know I said I’d update this more often and more regularly but frankly I’ve been busy and sometimes the last thing you have time for is writing things down so you’ll remember them, it’s more important and more fun to be out doing things.

That really has nothing to do with why I’m writing this now, though.  This has been a fantastic week for me personally, and yet it has also been a very sad week for me too.  For any of you who don’t know Martin Streek, former DJ on 102.1 the Edge (or CFNY depending on how old you are) a local Toronto radio station, and the only one I listen to, killed himself a couple days ago.  Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking that’s too bad, but really, it’s not like I knew him why would it be overly sad.  And that’s the part I’m not 100% sure of myself. 

Over the years it seems that a great many fantastic things that have happened in my life have been done to a soundtrack made up largely of bands I first heard on the Edge, and since Martin was my favorite DJ a lot of them were heard with his voice introducing them or commenting on them.  I think in some ways I can link almost my entire musical taste to the music that he played for me first.  He loved the Clash and NIN and Queens of the Stone Age and was just so passionate about music.  I was playing his live to air broadcasts long before I was old enough to go to the clubs he was broadcasting from, and when I became old enough I tended to frequent the clubs he played in.  Whiskey Saigon and Joe and of course my all time favorite, the Phoenix.  I met him a few times, I doubt he remembered me from time to time, but he was always very friendly and would talk to you like a normal person, which I always thought was about the coolest thing in the world.  I even played a game of pool against him once, a very long time ago, he won, but bought me a beer anyway. 

When I look back at the last couple decades of my life his voice is a constant refrain in the background of my best memories, my most fun times, and I’m just sorry he’s gone.  He loved Halloween, I think even more than I do.  He loved music and made other people love it all the more for his enthusiasm and spirit.  I can still here him saying “nice” after a hot set by DJ Dwight at the Phoenix, or breaking some new band on the Thursday 30. 

This isn’t probably getting the point across that I was trying to make, so I’m going to cut it out here, but first, my condolences to his family and friends and fans, I missed him the last time I was at the Phoenix, and I miss him now too.

Rest in peace, Martin, thanks for the music.

-m