Monthly Archives: September 2002

My fellow Canadians, Sunday, September

My fellow Canadians,

Sunday, September 29. Party at Bloomfield House. It’s a farewell to Stephen and a welcome to new residents Geoffrey and Keith. Bring corn for the barbecue. Bring booze. The Dean Malenkos and The Plan will be performing live in the basement. Bands will probably start around six. Bring a friend if you wanna make out on the couch. If you don’t know where Bloomfield House is… welcome to Halifax.

God save the Queen.

Love, Philip
Bloomfield House Patriarch

It’s 4AM. Today, I worked

It’s 4AM. Today, I worked in the studio all afternoon, then worked at the Oxford Theatre all evening, then went over to the Marquee and worked from 11:30PM until a few minutes ago. I’d just had a week off from the club and I think I want to take another week off. The place has gotten noticeably sleazier in the past two or three months. There’s this whole coked-out vibe that’s getting a little out of hand.

Tonight was drum&bass night, downstairs in Hell’s Kitchen. A couple of wack MCs were on the mic annoying the piss out of everybody. A bunch of people were crowding up on the stage; I asked a bouncer to clear them off, but he did a pretty lousy job of it. It’s almost like he just gave up. Two minutes later violence broke out. Some guy smashed a bottle and cut a couple people in the face. The music stopped and suddenly there were bouncers everywhere. I was up there just trying to watch out for all the gear. Then the cops showed up and an ambulance and blah blah blah.

The DJ said, “Man, this is too intense, I’m gonna switch to house music.” So he broke out the party tracks. A few people resumed dancing but I think the blood all over the DJ’s shirt was enough to cool the vibe.

What a shitty night. Working at the Marquee is making me into a very anti-social person. I’ve decided that I’m going to get my driver’s license and then next spring I’m moving back to New Brunswick. I’m going to live with my grandmother in the middle of nowhere. She has a big old house–I’ll turn one of the rooms into a recording studio. Get away from everything. It’s a dream I’ve had for a while. I miss my grandmother. I can joke about being “old” at 31, but tomorrow–today–is her 91st birthday. And she’s still rockin’.

I have to get up to work again in four hours.

I was leaving the bar tonight, finally… came around the corner to get my bicycle. My bike had fallen down, as bikes chained to things tend to do, and was slumped on the sidewalk.

“Aww, Jennifer!” I blurted out. I ran over and picked her up. “That’s no way to treat a lady.”

Two girls were standing nearby. “Okay, this is getting too weird, I’m getting out of here.” She started walking away. “That guy just said your name.”

I looked around. “What, is your name Jennifer?”

“Yes it is,” said the other girl.

“Jennifer is my bicycle’s name,” I explained. “I think Jennifer is a lovely name.”

“Well I’m glad somebody thinks so,” she said. She smiled and shook my hand.

“Philip,” I said. “You have a good night, Jennifer.”

“You too.”

I’m working all week as

I’m working all week as a technician on the Atlantic Film Festival. My duties include sitting in the Oxford Theatre every night and watching the films. I know, it’s a real drag.

This is the third year in a row I’ve worked on the film festival. In this one week, I will watch more movies than I’ll see in the whole rest of the year. After a while it gets hard to keep track of so many movies. As the week goes along, I’ve been writing little blurbs to help me remember what I’ve seen.

Bowling For Columbine I never expected Michael Moore himself to come shuffling into the Oxford Theatre in his little baseball cap. He’s exactly the same in real life as he is in the movies. He spoke for 45 minutes, much to the chagrin of the Dalhousie students who were lined up outside waiting to see Silence of the Lambs. This is the best film of his that I’ve seen.
Suicide Watch: A quick, unsettling montage featuring very graphic footage of people blowing their heads off with guns.
Microphone Watch: During one of Charlton Heston’s speeches, I distinctly heard the microphone ringing at around 400Hz.
Neat-and-tidy Hollywood ending: no.

Emil and the Detectives Kid’s movie set in Berlin. Two quick whistles and all these kids come out of an alley one by one and dance down the street. There’s a part where all the kids do a rap song. Emil has a single dad who says, “I’m sorry, but we just can’t afford it right now.” The kids catch an evil jewel thief who carries a red case.
Suicide Watch: Nobody tries to kill himself in this delightful romp.
Microphone Watch: I wasn’t watching that closely.
Neat and tidy: yes.

Sunshine State Angela Bassett looks hot. A movie about capitalism attacking the old way of life in Florida. It’s long and there are tons of characters but it’s well done.
Suicide Watch: A guy keeps trying to do himself in, but he never pulls it off and we laugh at him.
Microphone Watch: Standard film cliche: woman steps up to the podium and says “check one two” and the microphone feeds back for a second at 2 kilohertz. Then she resumes talking without sonic incident.
Neat and tidy: no.

Human Nature Patricia Arquette runs around in the woods naked… except she’s covered with hair.
Two women up the row from me spent the whole movie making out, which was good for the times when the movie got too silly.
Suicide Watch: Patricia holds a razor blade to her wrist in the bathtub, and then she sees a cute little mouse and realizes it’s OK to be furry.
Microphone Watch: A congressional hearing with a room full of brand-new, gleaming Shure SM-57s. Dozens and dozens of them. It is a truly breathtaking sight.
Neat and tidy: yes, except Patricia winds up in jail.

Regina Kid’s movie set in Reykjavik. All these people come out of an alley one by one and dance down the street. There’s a part where the kids do a rap song. Regina has a single mom who says, “I’m sorry honey, but we just can’t afford it right now.” The kids catch an evil jewel thief who carries a black-and-silver case.
Suicide Watch: Lonely old man sits on the edge of his bed. “Who’s going to care if I die?” Cupful of sleeping pills sits ominously on the bedside table.
Also: “If all the kids were jumping off a bridge, would you want to do that too?”
Microphone Watch: Sennheiser 441 with a big grey pop filter. “It’s time for the talent show!”
Neat and tidy: yes.

Divine Intervention Palestinian story of love and hate. Repetition of mundane conflicts between neighbours in Nazareth; slow escalation towards violence. Long stretches of seemingly very little happening with sudden explosions of fantasy. One of those films where people stand in the lobby afterwards going, “I didn’t get it.” My favourite movie of the festival so far.
Suicide Watch: A woman steps in front of a bunch of machine-gun fire, but it turns out she’s a Palestinian ninja who knows exactly what she’s doing.
Microphone Watch: Megaphone at the checkpoint was as close as it got.
Neat and tidy: no.

Amnesia I liked this film about twin brothers with a dark past. It was intense. “I’m supposed to be introducing this movie Amnesia,” Ron Foley Macdonald said to me beforehand, “but the funny thing is, I can’t remember anything about it.” Then he went up in front of the audience and said into the microphone, “I’m here to introduce Amnesia, except I can’t seem to remember anything about it.”
Suicide Watch: There is at least one suicide and possibly two. Also, there’s a guy with a gunshot wound who keeps refusing to go to the doctor. That’s not so smart.
Microphone Watch: none.
Neat and tidy: yes.

Enlightenment Guaranteed Two dorky German brothers get lost in Tokyo and wind up in a monastery. This movie made me scared shitless to ever go to Tokyo.
Suicide Watch: “I want to die.”
“Who doesn’t.”
“I’m going to kill myself.”
“Oh, no you’re not.”
“Yes I am! …Out the window!”
Microphone Watch: Woman at the German bar in Tokyo running around with a wireless mic. “It’s time for the talent show!”
Neat and tidy: no.

Little Otik A couple pretends a tree stump is a baby and then it comes alive and starts eating people. The entire story is revealed halfway through the movie, so the last hour just feels like a punishment.
My favourite part was the Inferno animated TV ad. “Inferno! The iron that irons by itself. Everything else is a piece of worthless junk.”
Suicide Watch: none.
Microphone Watch: none.
Neat and tidy: yes.

Ma femme est une actrice Romantic “comedy” featuring a very jealous guy and his beautiful famous wife. He’s the kind of guy I make fun of on my website. I cringed through the whole film.
Suicide Watch: Thought about it, but went out and walked around in the lobby instead.
Microphone Watch: Boom mic being carried around a film set by a naked guy.
Neat and tidy: yes.

Quitting The moral, which I agree with: if you listen to the Beatles, you deserve to wind up in a Chinese mental hospital.
Suicide Watch: Main character’s best friend’s girlfriend jumped off a building. “You remember my girlfriend? She’s dead.”
Microphone Watch: Vocal mic during quick shot of live rock band. Couldn’t get a make on it.
Neat and tidy: some resolution, but basically open-ended.

I was heading up a

I was heading up a North End street with a couple of women. They were walking; I was coasting on my bicycle. One of them I’ll call ‘wicked simultaneous orgasms girl.’

The other one I’ll call ‘make fun of the name of my bike girl.’

“‘Jennifer,'” she said. She shook her head. “That’s a bad, bad name.”

“Hey,” I said. “Shut up.”

“You don’t understand,” she said. “I work with words. ‘Jennifer’ is just plain wrong.”

“So you work with words,” I said. “You work with words, I work with words, everybody works with words. You’re missing the boat on this one.”

“Just the name ‘Jennifer,'” she said. “The name alone causes blonde pigtails to sprout out of your handlebars.”

“Ha,” I said. “From the word jinni, meaning ‘spirit’… and the word fer, meaning ‘iron.'” I rode around and around in circles in the middle of an intersection. “Jennifer. The spirit of iron.”

“Jennifer is a horrible name,” she said.

~I don’t know if anyone named Jennifer reads this site, but I think Jennifer is a lovely name for a lovely lady.

Anyways, going around saying “I work with words” is kind of like saying “Hi, I’m in a band.”

~Spinoza: live at Hell’s Kitchen

~Spinoza: live at Hell’s Kitchen hard rock open mic, Tuesday Sept. 10 ’02.

I had left a guy in charge of the console while I got up on stage: “This channel is the drum machine. Just turn up the fader until it’s as loud as a drum kit. This is the vocal channel, but you won’t have to touch it at all. It’s totally simple. Vocal… drum machine. I might stick a microphone in front of the bass cabinet. You don’t have to worry about it.”

Playing a solo show with a drum machine makes for a lonely stage, so I had invited Gerry onstage to “air drum.” I also instructed him to fill in the dead air between songs by yapping into the microphone while I fiddled with the drum machine. Gerry was quite drunk, so I thought this would be funny.

I got up on the stage, plugged in my bass, hit a few distorted chords, and prepared to fire off the drum machine.

It turns out the poor fellow at the mixing board didn’t know how to turn down the radio feed. He turned down the master volume for the PA instead.

I heard a little bit of sound coming back at me through the stage monitors, so I went ahead and started to play, not realizing there was no sound whatsoever in the mains. Pretty soon I was leaping about and howling into a microphone. I didn’t realize that nobody could hear any of the vocals and that I looked like a complete buffoon.

The drum machine was virtually inaudible out front as well. Gerry was air-drumming furiously, trying to follow the beats in the monitors so he could hit the odd accent or flourish. From the audience point of view, however, it appeared that he was my actual drummer, and that he was doing a supremely crappy job of it.

Things got worse. The guy at the console couldn’t figure out why no sound was coming out, other than the bass, which was live off the stage. He responded by cranking all the gain levels at the strips. This caused the vocal monitors to start feeding back loudly and painfully. Owwww….

I must have attempted four or five songs before abandoning ship. It wasn’t even until after the set was over that I could back to the console and realize how horrible-sounding it must have been out front. I had a clue, however, when a guy came up to the stage after I finished and said, “I just wanted to tell you that your band is totally pathetic.”

I shook his hand. “Thanks, fuck off and die.”

Someone else shouted, “Get a band!” I shouted back: “Get a…”–I was under some mental duress here–“…penis!”

He and his long-haired friends looked at each other. “But I already have one,” he said.

Clearly, my punk-rock snappy-comeback skills have been eroded by the sands of time.

Today someone said to me, “Hey, your job isn’t so bad. You’re on the clock, and you get to drink and listen to music.” But I would cite this Spinoza set as evidence: I only have to step away from the console for five minutes to have audio hell break loose.

Oh, and the lady I’d been talking to was talking to someone else by the time I got off stage. They wound up leaving together. Moral: guys, playing music gets you laid a lot, but only when you sound good.

Gerry: “I thought that was amazing. I love it when your friends won’t look you in the eye.”

~I was biking home when I saw a woman wearing a cowboy hat at the corner of Bauer and Cornwallis. She had her hands on her hips and she was doing all these Cape Breton step-dancing moves in the middle of the intersection. When she got to the sidewalk, she stopped, still with her hands on her hips, and said, “Hey.”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me, you damn drunk,” I thought as I pedalled by.

A couple seconds after I passed, I heard her say, “Jeeesus…”

~September 11, 2002 fell on me like a closed fist. I spent most of the day sprawled out on my bed while the hours ticked away. I was squashed like a bug.

Television screens replayed the moment of impact from countless different angles. But there was one angle that troubled my afternoon dreams, a view that will never be seen on TV: the view from inside the cockpit.

Battle-scarred. I was behind the


I was behind the mixing board upstairs at the Marquee, chatting with Troy (one of the other sound techs). A guy came up and tried to hand me a cardboard plate and a napkin.

“What is this?” I said.

The guy kept trying to press it into my hands. “Don’t you have a garbage can back there?”

“No, man,” I said. “What do I look like, a janitor?”

“Oh,” he said. “I just saw you behind the counter, there…”

I looked down. The “counter” is actually a TAC Scorpion 24-channel live mixing console. It has two or three hundred knobs on it, about three dozen faders and red and green blinky lights everywhere. I looked at Troy, who was laughing.

The guy shrugged and decided to go somewhere else with his napkin and cardboard plate.

“Idiot,” I said.

And so began my weekend.

~Remy Shand was performing at the Marquee on Saturday. I had never heard of him, but someone told me he’s a huge star in Europe. Remy was described as “kind of like Jamiroquai, only he’s Canadian so he’s not as cool.” The show was sold out.

Everyone was talking about how many cougars were in attendance. Oh Remy, Remy, whoever you are, you are obviously beloved of older women; and the cougars were on the prowl on Saturday, with their make-up and teased hair.

I saw a cougar wearing glowstick bracelets and a glowstick around her neck. Go get ’em, girl!

But the overall feel of the night was slightly upscale, so I didn’t get to see any occurrences of that quintessential cougar characteristic: acid-washed jeans.

“Jesus,” I said. “This place is Cougar Central. It’s like the National Cougar Convention in here.”

“I know,” said my friend Pete. “The bar even smells different tonight. There’s like a whole different set of scents and odours in the air.”

“Hey, yeah, you’re right,” I said, sniffing. “That’s pretty crazy.”

Upstairs was packed, but the show ended early. The club emptied out quite quickly. That’s the trouble with cougars–no staying power. A fair number of them wound up hanging out downstairs in Hell’s Kitchen. When cougars get drunk, you can hear them laughing throughout the whole bar.

~I was working downstairs that night, doing sound for a soulful, bluesy rock band. They were easy to work with, so I was inclined to like them.

Hell’s Kitchen is shaped roughly like a rectangle, with the stage in the corner. The dancefloor and the main bar lie in front of the stage. There’s also some seating along the short back wall. It’s actually possible to sit in a corner so that you’re behind the mains, which is not the best seating location, from an audio perspective.

Anyway, I was tearing down after the band had finished. Some woman approached the stage. She looked to be in her early forties. She seemed to have an urgent need to speak to me.

“Come here,” she said, as if she were going to tell me a secret. “From where I was sitting, over there…”–she pointed towards the corner–“…the drum was too loud.”

She looked at me expectantly. I have no idea if she thought she was doing me a favour by telling me this, or if she was really pissed off, or what.

“Well,” I said. “You see these speakers? That’s the PA. All the music comes out of there. See what direction they’re pointing in? The music comes out of the PA, and then it goes this way.”

“Oh, is that why,” she said, and scurried back to the corner; presumably to share this piece of acoustic theory with all of her friends.

I resumed coiling up my cables. The stage lights were in my eyes, so I couldn’t really see anything offstage. But I’m sure the bright lights caught every nuance of the withering dirty look I threw towards the back corner of the room. (You have to be an asshole when you’re a sound guy. People expect it.)

~I mentioned this to the drummer, who found it amusing. “Drums are loud,” he said with a shrug. “Why would that woman even come to a rock show?”

I like how the woman said “the drum” instead of “the drums.” I know exactly what she was referring to. When I was teenager bashing away on a $50 drum kit in my parents’ house, my mom would come into the room and point at the bass drum and say, “THAT DRUM IS GIVING ME A HEADACHE.”

There were also quite a few younger women at the bar on Saturday. But when I looked at them, I couldn’t see them for what they were: attractive young women in their twenties. All I could see was a bunch of cougars-in-training.

~Sunday night was “Open Mic Night in Hell” with your host, Al Tuck. Doing sound for open mic is stressful; working with amateurs is stressful. It’s much easier making people sound good when they already sound good. This was as gruelling an open mic night as any I’ve ever done down there.

Some guy with a harmonica kept jumping on the stage to jam with whoever was up there, regardless of whether he was invited or whether he was in key. I could see Al hovering by the side of the stage, looking anxious, but not wanting to disrupt things further by climbing up there to pull the guy off the stage.

Finally I leaned forward and hit the “mute” button on Harmonica Guy’s mic. Then I sat back and folded my arms and watched as he cupped the microphone, honking away like mad with no sound coming out.

~There was a woman in Hell who kept buying me drinks and trying to make out with me. She would come over and rub my fuzzy skull; which, I’ll admit, I am partial to.

“I’m all about the love,” she said.

“I’m not,” I replied.

“Awww,” she said and gave me a hug. Then she gave me a kiss that turned into a little lip-lock.

I was aware of the bouncers and the bar staff.

“All right,” I said, detaching myself from her embrace. “I’ve got to get back to work.”

~There was another woman who was running around the bar and just being obnoxious in general. She would stand in front of the stage and try to talk to the performers while they were playing; stuff like that.

Al was about to introduce someone when she jumped up on the stage, grabbed a microphone off a stand and started to sing. I couldn’t tell what she was singing or if it was even anything coherent. But she was being very grandiose about. So I dialled up a huge reverb effect that made her voice sound like it was coming from inside the Hall of the Mountain King.

She was the star. She was in the spotlight. She was Celine Dion. I started to go over the top with more reverb and crazy delay effects. A couple of people turned around to give me knowing looks. The woman kept smiling and belting out her song, seemingly oblivious to how she was being received. I gave her the epic treatment.

By the time she got off the stage, everyone in the room was laughing at her.

Philip Clark: one cold motherfucker of a sound engineer.

~I was sitting at the console when a young woman came bounding up and jumped into my lap. “Hello!” I tried to see around her to the stage while she sat and talked to me. She was wiggling around and babbling on about I know not what. Possibly it was a drunken case of mistaken identity… but who knows, really.

She had her arms around my neck. “So I was talking to my guy,” she was saying, “but he’s not going to be here for another twenty minutes, so…” She looked at me and made a “whatever” face.

“So you’re going to pass the time by making out with a total stranger?” I said.

“What? No,” she said. “I’m not going to make out with you.”

“Then get the hell off my lap,” I said. I shoved her away quite roughly. She recovered herself and stood there, looking surprised.

I think she tried to introduce herself at this point, but I had stopped paying attention. I can remember saying, “Then what are you doing jumping on a stranger’s lap, ya weirdo.”

“I’m friends with so-and-so,” she mumbled. “My boyfriend is so-and-so. I know Victor [Syperek, owner of the club].”

“Yeah,” I said. “Congratulations.”

~I had to go to the stage because Harmonica Guy was up there again, and he seemed to be arguing with Al. “Is this guy giving you a hard time, Al?” I said.

“Oh, no, it’s all right,” said Al wearily. (“The music! The music!” Harmonica Guy was saying.)

We finally got Harmonica Guy off the stage, and Al got ready to play his final set. I returned to the mixing desk to find that two or three thugs were occupying my space behind the console.

One of them was sitting down, and another guy was bent over him. I couldn’t tell if they were arguing, or what. It just seemed like they were having some kind of intense, drunken macho-man conversation.

The guy who was standing had one hand in the other guy’s hair, and the other hand curved around his neck. He was swaying slightly. He was bent over, leaning in really close, lips against the seated guy’s ear. I daresay the effect was slightly homoerotic.

“All right guys, break it up,” I said. They didn’t seem to hear me. “All right, guys,” I repeated. “Go make out somewhere else.”

The bent-over guy turned to look up at me. “Beat it,” he said. Then he tried to go back to his conversation. (I couldn’t believe he actually said, “Beat it.” It made me feel like I was in a movie.)

I put my hand on his shoulder and pulled him back. “I work here, so I can’t beat it,” I said. “You beat it.”

“Got a problem, buddy?” he said. I found myself on the receiving end of a couple of ugly dirty looks. Both of the guys were really sweaty.

“Yeah,” I said. “You’re sitting in my seat.”


“So,” I said, “you’re sitting in my seat.”

“This isn’t your seat.”

“Yes it is. I work right here. Go sit somewhere else.”

The guy who was sitting down got up slowly and said, “This better be your seat, because if I find out it isn’t, I’m going to be very upset.”

I took the chair and pulled it over to the console but did not sit down. The guys were muttering behind my back. I stood at the console with my hands at my sides and tried to keep tabs on them out of the corner of my eye.

One of the guys made a sudden move towards me as if he were going to punch me in the back of the head, but then he backed off. Yeah, go ahead and try it, I thought. I pulled the chair around and sat down.

No one fucks with me in Hell’s Kitchen.

Ten minutes later, the guy got thrown out for throwing a glass at a drag queen.