Monthly Archives: July 2005

carmen

“My seat belt’s uncomfortable,” she said. “Do I have to wear it?”

“Yes,” I said. “Safety first.”

You buckle up when you ride with me.


carmen.jpg

My passenger shot nearly a full tape of video on the drive back from Montreal. A state-of-the-road-trip report every hour on the half-hour. Many of the shots are of me being stoked. Drumming on the steering wheel, waving my index finger in the air, singing along with every single song at the top of my lungs. Ramones, New Order, Bad Religion.

I played “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Shriekback followed by a tape of Pop Will Eat Itself covering that same song and howled along with both of them.

And she don’t know which way to go
She says “If you find it darling, let me know”
And he says “Well, this could be so”
Says “I’m a car crash, now tell me, baby does it show”

I was wishing I’d have a computer waiting for me at home to edit it all on. I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you all that my computer is screwed. My hard drive reported a critical error: “Hard drive status: failing. You should back up your drive immediately if you are still able to and replace the hard drive.”

My iBook hadn’t been starting up at all, but I managed to get it going tonight and I’m typing this as the hard drive chugs towards oblivion. Could be the last time I’m online for a while, which sucks because I live alone in the country.

There is an Apple repair shop an hour’s drive away in Fredericton. But…

We drove through Florenceville (the french fry capital of the world) and the plan was to hit Hartland (home of the longest covered bridge in the world) and Nackawic (home of the world’s largest axe). Coming around the corner at Exit 170 into Hartland, we could see the bridge through the river mist.

Just before the hairpin curve of the off-ramp, a yellow sign suggests 30km/h as a safe turning speed. Going from 100 down to 30 is a fair bit of deceleration in a short distance.

Going downhill, on wet pavement.

Especially when your brake pedal goes all the way to the floor without doing anything.

I pumped it. “Okay, I’ve got no brakes,” I said. I think I had time to yell: “No brakes… Hang on!”

The exit sign was on a large metal pole and Carmen went off the road and smashed into it. I looked over at my passenger at the instant of collision. Both of our heads slammed forward and the seatbelts threw us back.

“Are you okay oh my god are you okay are you okay.”

No one was hurt. I hit my knee on the dash a little bit. The engine was still running. The tape deck still played.

We got out of the car. I almost laughed at the absurdity of seeing Carmen, my Carmen, the giver of life and love, wrapped around a metal pole in Hartland, New Brunswick.

I was hardly aware of being shaken up. That came later. At the time, I was on the cellphone, calling CAA to arrange a tow truck, trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do, what this was going to mean.

The tow truck took a long time. This being New Brunswick, every single car that went by stopped to see if we were all right. One fellow hung out with us for a while.

“Yeah, cut off a chunk of the fender here, you might be able to back ‘er right out.” I got in and started up the car. The engine still ran fine. I put it in reverse and drove backwards a few feet. “Except, no brakes,” he said. Yeah… that and my front end is friggin’ crumpled.

A Mountie pulled up and got down to the paperwork after a bit of sympathetic small talk.

I had yanked up the emergency brake. Everything happened so fast, I scarcely remember doing it. Skid marks scarred the grass and the very last little bit of pavement. Coulda been worse, yep, seat belts, emergency brake, coulda been way worse.

A few feet to the right and the car would’ve missed the pole entirely. Maybe it would’ve hurtled through the field, straight towards a cliff that drops all the way down to the mighty St. John River. Maybe I would’ve had to jump out of a moving vehicle.

The thing is, I would’ve been ready.

In my dreams I’ll jump out of Carmen and chase her down. Jump back inside. Save her somehow.

I took a picture of the metal pole, dented with chunks of maroon paint, ringed with pieces of a broken headlight.

In his car, the Mountie was talking on the phone for a long time (What’s he talking about?). The tow truck driver arrived and got to work without speaking. He tilted up the flatbed and started to winch Carmen up onto it. Coolant ran out of the busted radiator, green blood from a mortal wound.

The tow truck made a brief stop at the garage. A mechanic looked her over and signed the death warrant. Front end smashed and bent all to hell, radiator cracked, brakes, god knows what else.

And then it was off to “The Compound.”

The Compound was just a big clearing in the woods at the end of a long lonely country road. Some of the cars in the yard where so twisted up they looked as though they’d been bombed. If Carmen had to be totalled, couldn’t something crazy at least have happened to her? Like, rolling over three times and bursting into flames. Why did I have to hit a stupid pole?

Among these heaps, junkers and wrecks, Carmen found her final resting place. I left all my gear in the trunk knowing I’d have to come back and say goodbye.

The tow truck driver dropped us off at the Esso truck stop where we waited for my father and brother, who were driving from Saint John to bail us out. When my supper arrived I had to push back from the table and put my face in my hands. I got the shakes in my arms and legs. A sick feeling passed through my stomach for a moment, and then it was gone, and that was that.

My computer, my bicycle and my car were all lost within days of each other. I’m just trying to figure out what this means for living alone in the country. I’m being driven into seclusion like a nail being driven into a piece of pine. Staying is going to be very difficult, but moving is going to be impossible.

When my father and brother showed up we returned to The Compound to rescue all my stuff. The clearing was quiet and peaceful but nonetheless seemed to echo with the noise of a dozen violent collisions. I took a few pictures as heartbreak seeped in.

All my music gear, all my cassettes, even the garbage on Carmen’s floor had a sentimental value. Am I in mourning over the loss of a mechanical object? It seems grief is easily triggered these days, an automatic shift.

Once everything was loaded into my father’s car I sat behind Carmen’s steering wheel for the last time. I honked the horn once and turned on the parking lights. I left them on, so they could slowly dim into darkness as the battery went dead in this country junkyard.

And then it was time to go.

“Lock her up,” I said. She’s still my baby.

vlogging

You have high-speed Internet. I’m lying naked on my front lawn. That’s it… that’s the tradeoff.

Look at that ant crawling over my computer screen. Crazy ant.

Three items then I’m outta here:

1) I’ve been hitting my hard drive pretty hard lately with all the video I’ve been editing. On the weekend my iBook had a stroke. It started with the Mac symbol and the dreaded flashing question mark which is the Mac way of saying “the brain has been severed from the spinal column.”

I administered emergency respiration to the machine by pounding on its chest or rather by pounding on the telephone keypad as I placed a call to AppleCare. Heidi at technical support had me restarting the computer holding down all sorts of keys but nothing seemed to help. No signs beyond a faint pulse.

Heidi gave me the number to Apple’s only dealer in the province and I was morose.

[The sunlight is too bright to read the screen right now so hang on while I go inside.]

After hanging up the phone I picked up the laptop and realized that by physically tilting the machine in different directions, I could make the hard drive awaken from its coma for short bursts of activity. After about 45 minutes of holding my iBook at mystical angles I managed to get it to boot from the system software CD.

I ran Disk Utility and FSCK and now the computer will start up to the point where I can type this.

I’ve been sticking a Sharpie under the front edge of the machine to tilt it up slightly. My hard drive goes into a perpetual bad-sounding loop at the horizontal position. I don’t know why.

I googled this problem and all I could learn was “back up your drive quickly because it is not long for this world.” So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve gotten twelve gigs of stuff off there in the past day or so, mostly video work but also few music recording sessions.

I rely on this computer a little too much.

2) I’m driving to Ottawa to play a show on Saturday. Thinking of leaving Friday morning and spending that night in Montreal. I’m not sure what the plan is after Saturday, maybe kick around for a day or two.

I’m looking for someone to come along and share some gas expenses. Please get in touch. Do it! Take the weekend off. Tell off your boss and let’s go on a summer road trip. Holler at me 506-339-1155.

A/V is performing in Amy’s backyard in Ottawa. That’s all the details I have right now. I’m going to bust out a Shotmaker cover in honour of the province of Ontario.

3) I’ve been posting short videos on this site for years but I’ve recently come across a group of people who are making a movement out of it. They call it “vlogging.” So I’m a vlogger now.

I’m going to be listed on FireAnt and MeFeedia so check those out and subscribe to my vlog and then subscribe to a whole bunch of vlogs and then start watching vlogs instead of TV.

Then go to FreeVlog and start your own vlog. Be sure to give me mad props. It all reminds me of when I was just getting started with this site. I was the first blogger in Nova Scotia and I suspect I’m the first vlogger in Atlantic Canada. Except blogging took years to blow up in this part of the world, whereas vlogging will probably take months.

I have to say, vlogging is cooler than podcasting. A couple of months ago I looked into starting the Swordfight podcast. I even recorded a “show.” But I never posted it. I tried to make it interesting and sweeten it up with a bunch of sound effects, but it was basically just me talking. What’s the point? I can type.

I downloaded a couple of the supposedly better known podcasts. Partly it’s annoying because I’m dialup and it takes forever. Then there’s the whole, “I just spent half-an-hour of my life listening to total strangers ramble on about nothing.” If they had written it all down, it would have taken about five minutes to read not that I even would have bothered because shit was wack.

So no podcasts for me right now until I can find a way to make it fun. Vlogging on the other hand is fun-in-a-can. You know what I’m doing right now? I’m sitting indoors on a sunny day, typing. And that’s what a blog is. Blah, blah, blah.

Whereas with vlogging, you can grab your camera and run around outside and do all sorts of crazy shit. Show off your dope editing skills later, or keep it immediate. Either way. The craziness IS your vlog entry. You’re not just trying to write about the craziness later.

Too bad I’m in the woods on dialup, I can’t easily download vlogs, myself. But like I said… that’s the tradeoff.

If you came here from vlogmap.org can you leave a comment and let me know? I added my coordinates, but owing to my technological backwardness I can’t actually load the map, so I may have put myself in the wrong hemisphere.

There’s something wrong with swordfight.org in Firefox, all the text looks grey whereas normally the plain text is black and just the hyperlinks are grey. Sorry Firefox types, I probably won’t have the chance to get in and check it out until next week but I assure you there are links in there someplace.

If you’re an ambitious Firefox technical do-gooder, my CSS is here:
http://swordfight.org/styles-site.css

I will conclude with this very important message from my hard drive: “runkacha runkacha runkacha.”

Swordfight Video Blog, pants-free since 1999.

grand manan

Friday morning I got up and drove to Black’s Harbour, ditched my car and walked onto the ferry. Ninety minutes and thirty-five kilometres later I arrived on Grand Manan, the “Queen of the Fundy Isles.”

Just got back. I’m gonna hang out with my brother for a couple days but I took a ton of pictures on the island and shot lots of video and I want to write soon.

fireflies

Overcast conditions have robbed me of my starry night sky. Instead, every field is full of fireflies. The stars have come down to visit me tonight.

Down by the river a frog chirps. The night is warm and humid. I breathe deeply and inhale the summer scent.

A constellation of fireflies orbits my body. Their lights flash blue-white in a private zodiac of warning.

The sky to the east pulses as lightning splits the air into fractions. The storm upriver, too far away to hear.

A firefly has settled on my thigh. Its tiny bulb flashes up at me. Another one lands on my cheek. I brush it away.

The bug hovers in front of my face, winks twice and flies straight into my mouth. I choke and swallow.

The firefly lodges in my stomach. Within seconds, I can feel luminescence seep like a sickness out of my pores. I fall on my knees.

I consider using the light to send a distress signal. But there is no one to receive it. I collapse and find myself lying on my back on the grass, my mouth opening and closing.

I look up into the darkness and see glowing streaks. The fireflies trace blurred pathways high above me.

They flicker off and on like ideas, neurons in a bad brain.

the imperial staircase

breaking news

A/V will perform at The Attic tonight, Saturday July 2nd, filling in for a band that cancelled.

Dog Day are playing too far as I know.

Instant dance party, just add you.

I was happy to leave Halifax today, and I’m happy to be driving right back tomorrow. It all works out.

Before I go to sleep let me tell you about my new dance. It’s called the Imperial Staircase. I guess the easiest way to explain it is, pretend your shoulders are a pair of feet. Then pretend they are walking down some stairs in time with the music. Boof, boof, boof, boof. And now back up the stairs. Boof, boof, boof, boof.

It’s a very simple dance and you can pull it off while playing rock’n’roll guitar which you can’t easily do with “We’re Number One.”

Eben had a few new variations on the “We’re Number One” dance last week at the party in Gerry‘s driveway. He never imitates only innovates.

sussex the cat

I’m on the computer at North Street South. Holy shit I loved playing rock music last night. I busted out my new dance. I did not get punched in the face. We played well. I have a little bit of rock’n’roll whiplash. It’s a good kind of hurt.

I am about to [I hope] go get my car from the parking lot with all the “Don’t park here we’ll tow you” signs. Then I’ll probably wander around downtown in the rain for a few hours while I wait to get into the Attic to pick up gear. I was hoping for someone to suggest something fun to do in Halifax tonight, but it’s grey and depressing here today and I think I might just bust out back to the country.

When I get home I’ll post a picture of the cat that slept on my stomach last night. I named him “Sussex,” as in Sussex golden ginger ale.