Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1999

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC T...

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC Television’s Wembley studios on 26 May 1966. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1999 and I’m having the same problem I had with 1998. I don’t connect with most of the pop charts this year. But I respect Cher for coming back with “I believe.”

She was big in the 70s TV show Sonny and Cher. To resurface with the foresight of where pop would be going… dance, dance, dance… is impressive. But I’m not inspired by the song.

With David Bowie, I respect the artist and happen to like the song “Somebody Up There Likes Me” on the album Young Americans.

Young Americans? Isn’t that another 70s relic?

Well, yes but it was r-e-m-a-s-t-e-r-e-d-i-n-1-9-9-9. Sorry folks, I have to do this remastered trick because maybe I am getting old and just not digging the charts like I used to. 37 years old, moving back to Toronto this year. I bought Bowie’s 1999 CD Hours and was mildly disappointed. But this old hit remains a fav.

Come to think of it, I don’t think my not liking tunes released in ’99 was an age thing as much as an out-of-sync thing. I’ve enjoyed a lot of pop since the EDM explosion. So either I’ve changed, the times have changed or maybe both.

1970s UK Sci-Fi TV show depicting an imaginary 1999 where an explosion breaks the moon free of its orbit – Image http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.ca/2013/08/

Technology is marching forward in ’99. People are burning CD-R/RWs and checking out digital photography. I was a bit slow to shell out for these tech advances so was still pretty old skool in ’99. Film camera. Tapes, CDs and Vinyl.

Earthpages is getting search engine recognition and I’m learning what I’m still learning today. How to get out there and be noticed on the web. Transitioning from an academic to a popular writing style has not been easy. In ’99 I’m either coming off too serious or too glib.

Striking that balance when you’re primarily a religious person who goes to Mass several times a week is not as straightforward as one might think. Ironically, I find that going to Mass enhances rather than squashes my creativity.

I still receive the Eucharist several times a week, something I’ll probably talk about more in years not yet reeled in.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Billy Bragg’s Bratty Brother (ask.metafilter.com)

 Cher Concert Tickets for Lubbock, Austin, Corpus Christi, Bossier City… (prweb.com)

 Technology shaping the future of music but its soul remains the same (triblive.com)

 Dressing David Bowie As ‘Ziggy Stardust’ (thecut.com)

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1998

Time Magazine – Fair Use / Fair Dealing rationale

So it’s 1998 and I’m 36 years old. I’m still living in Ottawa, in a slightly rundown apartment beside the Union Mission. I’m getting pretty used to hearing street people making noise because, well, I live right beside them.

One night I had to call the cops because a big guy was pounding on my door screaming “Mother… Mother!” He was pounding so hard I felt it was only a matter of time before he’d break in.

After calling 911 I scrambled out the window onto the roof of the first-floor extension below me. I was pretty scared but kept cool.

When the cops arrived I had a choice… press charges or let it drop. I let it drop but told the guy – now subdued – to his face that he really scared me. He looked like a nice guy. Just drunk and upset. Or maybe stoned.

Whatever. I don’t think he understood too much at that moment.

People did practically everything near the Mission. The basement of our house was broken into with needles left behind. My bike was stolen from that basement. Another inglorious moment.

This place (cars in front) redefined the meaning of “student digs!”

I was sad and upset about my bike because I worked hard to buy it and a friend’s brother, who owned a bike shop, had customized it. Many summers of getting up early and working hard as a city gardener probably went toward a case of beer.

But I figured the theft was a form of global welfare so let it go.

Having graduated, I no longer had access to the university computer room, so migrated over to the Ottawa Public Library. The library had computers, internet, and email through National Capital Freenet. NCF also had free web space. This is where Earthpages began. I talk about that here, so won’t elaborate.

The library has changed a bit since I was there in ’98

In my last entry, 4FUN HITS, I mentioned having a hard time finding anything I liked in 1998.  Since then I realized that Frank Sinatra’s work was remastered in ’98.

Ha! This was the year I first discovered Frank—oddly enough, the same year he died.

I recall making a post-student dinner of noodles and stuff, stirring away and listening to a Sinatra album I’d picked up from the Ottawa Public Library.

Hey, this guy is really good, I thought to myself. What incredible timing.

It would be almost another two decades before I’d go full bore into Sinatra. But I’ll get to that. For now, I’ll just share some of my favorite Sinatra tunes.

Now this is music. I wonder how many pop tunes churned out in ’98 will be remastered 40 years after their release?

“I’ve Got the World on a String” was released in ’56, Come Fly With Me in ’58. And yes they reflect the times. But are we immune to reflecting our own cultural landscape?

It’s now 2018… 60 plus years after the release of these tunes. 60 to 70 years from now I imagine our cultural biases will be just as awkward. Maybe we’ll be scandalized. Maybe we’ll just look back and smile.

I tend to smile with Frank Sinatra.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Breaking: Conductor is suspended in Canada (slippedisc.com)

 Graceland marks Elvis’ Army stint with free day for military vets, active duty (triblive.com)

 Who Is Eva Marie Saint? Reintroducing the 1955 Oscar Winner (time.com)

 Drake’s Degrassi-era notebook is being auctioned for $54k (thefader.com)

 THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Officially Announce Reunion Tour (Without D’arcy Wretzky) (metalinjection.net)

 


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1997

OK Computer released by Radiohead in 1997. I like the album/band name but the music never grabbed me – Image via discogs.com

It’s 1997 and I’m 35 years old. U2 releases Pop which for me was a waste of money. One could actually discern the beginning of U2’s slide with Zooropa (1993), Achtung Baby (1991) being a tough act to follow.

Meantime David Bowie releases a strong album, Earthling. I almost chose the song “Little Wonder” from that CD as my fav for ’97 but it doesn’t resonate so much now. I mean, this was 21 years ago and people change.

’97 was the year I completed my doctorate. Hardly a light year. I remember standing in the hall awaiting my examiners’ response after being grilled on my thesis.

Also a TA that year, one of my undergraduate students showed up to cheer me on. He was a bit unconventional and, thinking it would help, started to massage my back while I was standing in the hall. It just made me tenser. I had bought a new suit for the occasion and was afraid he would wreck it while working on my back muscles…

Such is life. I guess I politely asked him to stop. I dunno. Can’t remember exactly.

For Christmas that year I got a greatest hits CD containing the single “Walkin’ On The Sun.”

I like this song’s retro style. 1950s or early 60s, for sure. The lead singer reminds me a bit of Chubby Checker or Bill Haley.

Most of the other pop from ’97 doesn’t age very well. This song harkens back to a classic time of surfboards and beach parties, so still works today. Sort of like that old song “I’m Your Venus” which has been reworked at least twice, I think, for ladies’ razor commercials!

And their kids were hippie chicks or hypocrites
Because fashion is smashin’ the true meaning of it

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

The Number Ones: Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (stereogum.com)


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1996

Liam Gallagher of Oasis performing at a concer...

Liam Gallagher of Oasis performing at a concert in San Diego, 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1996 and I’m 34 years old. ’96 is an awful year for music. At least for me. There’s a whole bunch of IMO second rate bands pumping out lousy rock that the kids of that era seem to really love.

These bands didn’t grab my attention. So was I just becoming an old fart, out of touch with the scene or could I simply discern that the music was crap?

Well, the success of these bands seemed short lived and today they’re mostly forgotten. So I tend to go with the “just crap” hypothesis.

The Beatles (sort of) released the Lennon post-mortem reconstruction of “Free as a Bird.” I remember hearing that and feeling some nostalgia but also that it wasn’t quite right. Proof positive that Elton John and Bernie Taupin were wise to say:

And you can’t go back and if you try it fails ~ The Captain and the Kid

No Doubt released Tragic Kingdom which I enjoyed at the time but not so much today. And Oasis had a hit with “Wonderwall”—another one I liked then but not so much now. Listening to that tune last night I was amazed at how Liam Gallagher’s vocals ingloriously drift off-key when he holds a note.

Image via musicdirect.com – Fair Use / Fair Dealing rationale

Yes, I understand that “detune” is cool in EDM but was he doing that on purpose or is he just a crummy singer? I guess a hit is a hit. So he must have known what he was doing. And as I say, I liked it when I was younger.

I don’t remember too much from my personal life for ’96. Probably just working my butt off on the Ph.D., a few friendly and romantic dates here and there, and taking long walks, checking out Ottawa mostly on foot.

I do remember talking to a lot of street people and watching their natural progression from say, just losing their apartment to becoming homeless babes in the urban woods.

I learned a lot from talking with those street people—musicians, drifters, and drinkers, alike.

It was sad and I sometimes tried to help. But after getting scammed by one operator I started giving less and less, with a few exceptions. I guess what I learned most from my long interactive walks is that street people are individuals just like anyone else. No stereotypes really apply to any of them.

The shield from the Coat of arms of Canada. Th...

The shield from the Coat of arms of Canada. The shield was created by a Royal Warrant in 1921, thus out of Canadian Copyright. http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/arm1-eng.cfm (Wikipedia)

Anyhow, my fav song for ’96 wasn’t an obvious choice. I really only recall the hook when Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip sings “You are ahead by a century…”

Gord Downie is a hero in Canada. A very brave guy. With terminal brain cancer, he kept performing and advocating for Canada’s First Nations communities, trying to shed some light on one of Canada’s dirty little secrets.

Personally, I think there are more dirty little secrets in Canada. But only time can bring those to light.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. But I look at it as a physician would look upon a desperately sick nation. No cure without first identifying the disease.

So with that said, hats off to Gord Downie, a great Canadian in line with other heroes like Terry Fox and all those who sacrificed their lives or health in the line of military duty, fighting to ensure our country remains “The True North Strong and Free.”

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Liam Gallagher On Noel’s Wife: “She’s The Reason Oasis Is No Longer” (stereogum.com)

 North Korean Figure Skaters Make Olympic Debut, To Cheers (gpbnews.org)

 Music icon Quincy Jones says Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen can play guitar ‘just like’ Jimi Hendrix (businessinsider.com)


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1995

Image – discogs

1995 was a wonderful year for music. So many classic albums and even the singles charts are looking more promising. I’m 33 years old and buying more pop than I have for decades. And I am feeling a bit of a rebirth – finding my groove again – after going deep into Gregorian chants and Renaissance choral music.

Hey, The Rebirth of Cool Phive came out that year, and I was the youngest of 5 kids. Okay, that’s not quite a synchronicity, I admit. But it did strike a chord for that and other reasons. I would love to see her jump out of a sewer grate as I’m walking down to the library on the mean streets of Toronto!

That image (top right) actually has a subtle, spiritual meaning for me too. After moving past the Hindu guru-disciple ideal, which I came to find limiting and obscuring, I thought I’d found all the answers in the Catholic church. Well, yes and no. Yes in that the spirituality there is second to none. But no in that the worldliness of some priests and parishioners also impacted my sensitive soul.

Image – Wikipedia

Spiritually speaking, it felt around that time as if I was being sucked down a rabbit hole, not unlike the image in Alice in Wonderland. It was a strange time of change. All the while I’m doing my doctorate, getting excellent grades and coming to realize that this transformation is an integral part of my journey.

Like any kind of hero’s quest, one needs helpers. And I did meet others along the way – inside and outside of the university – who could relate to what I was experiencing. They’d been through something similar themselves so offered a few words of support, just to let me know I was not alone.

Don’t worry if this is starting to sound obscure and not making sense. It is different. And I don’t expect everyone to relate. The real point I’m trying to emphasize is that you can’t really make it alone in the spiritual life, unless you want to end up a street person giggling at ghosts or talking to invisible extraterrestrials (I met some people like that… more later).

That’s fine if that is what you want or perhaps feel called to become, but it certainly was not something I aspired to be.

After listening to some of my favs from the pop world of ’95, I had to choose the guru. Ironic because I was getting past a former guru relationship, getting that fuzzy vibe out of my system and spiritually speaking, sobering up.

The guru (Keith Edward Elam) died in 2010. I’m not into rap much but he’s different. Instead of glorifying the gangsta life, he’s urging kids to be calm and sensible.

It takes a more intelligent man to squash a fight
Than to set one off

~ Lifesaver

I still like the guru very much, especially “Living In This World.”

Around this time I was also getting into trance. The University of Ottawa college radio DJs played trance and hip-hop all night long. I wasn’t a DJ anymore, as I had been at other universities. But I still had a four-way stereo reaching over two floors of my slightly run-down split-level apartment, and I listened. I liked 90s dance and techno, which was pretty new for me. The French Canadian hip-hop from Montreal was also really good. Much subtler than the Anglo stuff.

Hallo Spaceboy

Hallo Spaceboy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Bowie, one of my favorite artists of all time, was coming back into form. “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” and “Hallo Spaceboy” were important songs for me that year. Although the guru still comes out on top for ’95.

In the tech world, the internet had come to the university. We had a large computer room in the basement which was way less crowded at night. So I’d often walk over to the school and start surfing, playing around with Paint, and generally learning a whole new landscape. It was Netscape back then. I’m more or less a night person so working in the wee hours was no big deal. I actually enjoyed it. Lots of cute women to meet when I wasn’t studying. 🙂

So that’s it for 1995. A year of change and new discoveries.

What’s happening.. check it out
It’s critical, the situation is pitiful
Bear in mind, you gotta find somethin spiritual
We never gain, cause we blame it on the system
You oughta listen whether Muslim or Christian…

~ Living In This World

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 A male escort sent a 1,200 page dossier calling 40 priests ‘actively gay’ to the Vatican (pinknews.co.uk)

 Vatican revives pope’s sexual abuse panel (rappler.com)

 Australian Cardinal George Pell Appears in Court on Sex Abuse Charges (time.com)

 Catholic Church fearful priests and nuns will have to register as Vatican spies under new laws in Australia (telegraph.co.uk)


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1994

It’s 1994 and I’m 32 years old. Cruising along with my doctorate, living in Ottawa and spending some time in Toronto during the summer while my parents are away.

TLC’s amazing album CrazySexyCool comes out this year

Apartment living in Ottawa got pretty buggy at times, and my parents’ empty house was a welcome respite.

Also, the spacious Toronto Reference Library had The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, whom I was studying, and a lot of related material.

Toronto Reference Library – Wikipedia

So in summer, I would wake up in the morning, get my things together and, clutching my Toshiba 286 laptop, take a long walk downtown to the library. If I had enough energy after my daily thesis write, I would then walk further south to St. Michael’s Cathedral, in the heart of the downtown core.

I was fairly active in younger years, jogging about 30 to 45 minutes most days in my late teens and early twenties. So by my thirties, I was still walking long distances in both Ottawa and Toronto, and loving it.

St. Michael’s Cathedral 2011 (before renovation)

Choosing my favorite tune for this year was a showdown between TLC’s “Creep” and Bass is Base’s “I Cry.” After listening to both songs, “I Cry” comes out on top.

I like TLC but Bass is Base hails from Toronto, my hometown and where I live today. So this one reflects my turf in ’94. Its multicultural groove speaks to me as Canadian delighted that I can meet people from all around the word the moment I step out my front door.

Who needs to travel?

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


Leave a comment

Reelin’ in the Years – 1992

It’s 1992 and I’m 30 years old. Bye bye youth. Hello, old age. That’s sort of how I felt. Also, that I had to smarten up and start being mature because, well, 30 is 30.

What a joke. I still had so much to learn.

Image – Wikipedia

At the beginning of the Ph.D. program in Ottawa, I’m wondering how to focus my thesis. I remember buying a huge thesaurus that, for the time, was really quite good. I felt armed and ready to go. Well, almost.

Romantically, the summer of ’92 saw me at the climax of a platonic but powerful long-distance relationship. Something like the Tristan and Isolde romance that Joseph Campbell talks about. Courtly, archetypally inspired love nurtured through old-fashioned, snail mail letters. We were engaged to be wed for a short while but, just before my studies began, it all ended with the stroke of a pen.

Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before it was over, I was happy. Admittedly, I wondered how it could work with her being in another country.

But when you’re in love, especially that kind of romantic archetypal love, practicalities come second. You just love to dream about your beloved as thoughts reach across the sky like rainbows and your souls feel almost cosmically connected.

So I was thinking it’s sort of ironic that my favorite tune for 1991 was “One” and for 1992 “The One.” The first is about agape or brotherly and sisterly love, the second is about eros or romantic love. I believe both types of love could be aligned and are not mutually exclusive. And some advanced mystical saints actually combine them in their devotion to the deity.

For me, this is one of Elton’s last good tunes before “The Circle of Life” (2004) and “The Captain and the Kid” (2006). So I dedicate it to a lost love that wasn’t meant to be but which brings sublime memories of my first entirely spiritual romance sans borders.

And all I ever needed was the one
Like freedom fields where wild horses run
When stars collide like you and I
No shadows block the sun
You’re all I’ve ever needed
Baby you’re the one

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Sir Elton John to retire from touring after almost 50 years (pinknews.co.uk)

 Elton John adds one last Michigan concert to his farewell tour (mlive.com)

 Hearts that are Puzzled (wateringcanblog.com)

 This romantic teen movie is breaking boundaries by having 15 different actors play a single love interest (businessinsider.com)

 We asked and you answered: Here are your top stories about falling in (and out) of love in the office (businessinsider.com)

 Why Do We Fall in Love? Science Can Explain (greatist.com)

 Beware, online daters: Looking for love, you could end scammed instead (bostonherald.com)

 The 7 most romantic places in the world, according to Hollywood movies – from Manhattan to Berlin (businessinsider.com)

 Top 5 Modern Romance Novels Adapted Into Movies (ltdcommodities.com)