Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Favourite Song of the Still New Year

So far, the theme of February here at Bulldozer/Wrecking Ball has been CITIES. If there's been a subtheme to that, it's been Calgary. I don't know why, things just worked out that way.
When I was a kid--like 18, maybe 19--I was obsessed with Jack Kerouac. For all the harm it did me, it got me writing. It took a lot of writing to come out from underneath that post-ado whumpity-whump, and I've certainly spent a lot of time emulating other, less obvious, writers since.

One of the things that started to bump me off my Kerouac kick and start reading other things was his short story "cityCityCITY", which I read in the collection Good Blonde & Others. I may have even read it in Calgary. I'm 95% sure I at least bought it there. Probably in the summer of 1996, when I imagined I was a hobo. Anyway, it's one of Kerouac's only attempts at science fiction, and it's pretty dull. There's a lot to be learned from Kerouac's writing, and some of the stuff in Good Blonde is pretty damn fine as far as that goes. But the biggest lesson I learned from the book was that there had to be more to lit-rit-cher.

I actually carried on in my Kerouackisms for a couple more years, but things were never really the same after "cityCityCITY".

All this talk of THE CITY and Calgary (which is a city) makes me think of The Summerlad (which makes me think of the Michael Chabon novel Summerland, which I've never read) and their giant ART piece City of Noise. I remember talking to a member of The Summerlad (Garrett McClure, I think?) about it right after their second album, Themes: International, came out in 2005. The original City of Noise work was a 45-minute happening inspired Peter & the Wolf, Solzhenitzen's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and, of course, Calgary. It was commissioned for Calgary theatre dynamo One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo.

Summerlad has finally recorded City of Noise (you probably want the vinyl, dude), and it's about as awesome as I thought it would be nearly three years ago. Which puts The Summerlad one up on Kerouac.

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