Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Choice of Frenemies: Reader Mail

"The internet gives us the illusion that we're wonderfully gregarious people. When we type away on discussion boards and post comments on one another's blogs, it feels as if we're sitting outside a pub in the evening sunshine with our attractive, cool friends. But we aren't. That's what we did before we got addicted to the internet. Instead we perform some empty, unsatisfying facsimile of that. We sit alone in our rooms, becoming more and more isolated from society. And, inevitably, this turns us into mad, yelling, wild-eyed loons."
That's Jon Ronson, the British writer and broadcaster, from a May, 2007 column in the Guardian, and also from a BBC4 Radio doc.
It's not the first time I've posted that passage, but I think it's time again. Not so much because you need to read it, but because I do. Maybe you haven't noticed it, but there's been a certain smugness creeping into the ol' bloggue lately. Nick Miliokas noticed.
"Instead of coming across as an intelligent commentator, you came across as an asshole," he writes. "And even a strong argument is difficult to make from way up in there. I tell you this for your own good."
Something to think about over the next few weeks as I take my summer hiatus and go back to that part of the world what sprung me and spewed me forth. I don't know when I'll get back to blogging, but I'm sure I won't be long without an opinion, ill-advised or ill-expressed, that I can't contain.
Nick also sent in a list of restaurants you would probably never want to eat at unless, like me, you were an out-of-control Mordecai Richler nut:
1. Son of a Smaller Hero Sandwich
2. A Choice of Entrees
3. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Radish
4. Cork, Sir?
5. St. Urbain's Horsemeat
6. Joshua Hen and Sow
7. Solomon Gherkin Was Here
Pat, either Fiacco or Book (I know they both read the blog), also sent in a lit-chit:
Omlette (Hamlet)
Grape Expectations
the Ketchup On The Rye
Lord of the Fries
the Fry Machine
Finally, Sask-Lit titan Cliff Burns dropped a note on my pouty post about Regina:
To tell you the truth, Saskatoon is more like my kinda town. It just seems hipper, less uptight, more open and artsy. I lived in Regina for over 10 years and formed some roots...but with the loss of places like Buzzword Books in the Cathedral area, friends who have moved on, it's just a place I visit (and very rarely).

Before I go any further, I highly recommend you seek out a copy of Burns's Righteous Blood (straight from the guy himself is probably your best bet!), a twisted pair of horrific novellas impressive for both their ambitious imagination and economy of narrative.
Anyway, thanks for reading, Cliff! I'm glad you mentioned Buzzword, because it was actually the memory of that 13th Ave. bookstore that prompted the essay. The first draft actually wound up being an attempt to talk myself into moving back to Regina to open up a bookstore. I nearly had myself convinced.
But man, Gord pushed so many great books and authors on me, and also just had weird and interesting stuff on hand. He pushed all the big name writers from The Wire (Price, Pelecanos & Lehane) on me before The Wire was even a concern. He always had a great selection of books on jazz, like the Roland Kirk biog Bright Moments. When Buzzword shut down, well, that was kinda the beginning of the end for me in Regina. There were lots of other factors, but none so thematic as the loss of a cultural landmark in my own personal Queen City topography.


Durham, N.C.'s Megafaun is in town tonight, playing a show at the Biltmore. They sound kinda like the psychedelic-side of the Sadies mixed with the Alan Parsons Project. In a good way. So it's no surprise they're pals with Bon Iver. They're pushing their new record, Gather, Form & Fly.
mp3: "The Fade" by Megafaun


gordon said...

Thanks for the mentions, sir.
I miss that place (the store) as well. Reading the new Pelecanos coincidentally enough and it's going well.
Still looking for the right gig over here in Victoria.
I can tell they need a bit of the old Buzz, just need to figure where it is best applied.

Emmet Matheson said...

Good to hear from you! I had heard (from Rob Bos) that you were in Victoria. Keep in touch and let me know if you open something up in Victoria, I haven't got any better reason to cross the strait.