Monday, August 23, 2010

summer discovery.

The crackling of dispatch--"first-aid checking in, all ops-normal, next check in 2300"--over the comms when you're lying in your sleeping bag. Outside your tent, once strangers, now huddling friends, crank their necks back to gasp at shooting stars--glorious with the absence of light pollution. Some people make wishes, while others are acutely alive, maybe for the first time.

It's solitude until you hear someone cough in the tent behind yours and a man whispers "I love you, I miss you, and thanks for understanding," to his partner who may or may not be crying softly on the other end of the patchy connection. Two weeks can quickly turn into four months.

It's all lived experience. It's doing and growing and witnessing nature be reborn. It's hugging strangers because you trust their souls. You listen to their stories as concealed diaries are cracked when they see green patches on your red, government-issued shirt. You smile along to boasting stories from some of B.C.'s first female firefighters (who now shop at the Fields in Lillooet).

Sometimes death and mourning birth everlasting bonds not understood by the deadline-driven journalists who interview us moments after aircraft crash and collide with the steep terrain of the canyon.

Life is the exhilaration and lust to embrace nature from soaring altitudes. To view pristine lakes--turquoise and pure. To dive over glaciers then glance down at the lumber Jonathan milled for the home he's building with his own hands. You don't mean to pry or spy but everything is captivating.

Just breathing isn't living; being alive is the community they've built, grown and cultivated.

The lofty air in town is a canvas painted with 'hellos' and 'how are yous,' 'pleases' and 'you’re welcomes.' But at night it's all still.

At dawn, we take turns waking up to miscellaneous alarm clocks: cell phones, watches, the rooster up the road. We smile as we cross the coarse field to the bathroom, no need to speak until the coffee is poured. We politely ask each other how we slept the night before over watery oatmeal and greasy breakfast sausages. Sometimes a married man will miss his family and confess his fidelity; others aren't so admitting and continue searching for temporary companionship. Nonetheless, sensitivity prevails when the bravado subsides.

A three-hundred pound humming bird chats about death and divorce and, in the same breath, bursts with spirituality and prayer. A wiry man with a face full of smiling wrinkles has a cigarette for breakfast, although his devotion to our comfort never grants him rest. "Hey sweet cheeks," he calls from under the canvas smoking tent. "You are looking quite radiant today."

You embrace femininity with a new awareness: one more natural rather than the superficial ideas sold to you by "reality" TV programs. Settling back on the foamy, your heart gets lonely when you can't see the sky; however, your days are spent romanticizing in nature, living experiences with humble paticipants.

"I feel like I'm nestled in the womb of the earth," says a man as rugged as the Fraser Canyon but as gentle as the magenta fireweed in the alpine. "It's like mother nature is cradling me. In the prairies I always felt like I was going to be blown away."

Poetry lives in a pristine valley abundant with organic agriculture and personalities. Perhaps unconventional to the Jones' who stopped talking to their neighbours decades ago. The cultivation of not only food, but of ideas and an education you won't find in public schools. A challenge not to conform to the status quo.

Growing up suffocated by suburbia, you've longed to see that alternative in action--taken out of books you've read, the ideas you've fantasized about. Even if you're not frustrated with mainstream society's affluent mediocrity and hypocrisy, alternatives force you to meditate on your own habits. Observe a different kind of wealth.

So as you settle back into the comforts of mattresses, bedroom lamps and cell phone service, you'll be surprised to learn how much you miss that mental, physical and emotional escape; an appreciation truly heightened when you reminisce on all the love you discovered in places you never knew existed.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


She stood there cold. The ice was a raw wasteland of shovel lines and skate cut grooves. Her hands grasping emptiness in her pockets; no arms clutching her waist. Cold captured her like a cockroach under a paper cup--claustrophobic whiteness, no escape--running in circles under a dome sky, not getting anywhere. November was such a long month. His breath was still hot on the back of her neck, yet his shadow remained unseen even though it was 2:00 in the afternoon, on a Saturday.

He used to call her Jade, like the stone. Everyone else called her Jane, but she would only hear her momma's voice, the pursing of her lips, the accusing tone, the questioning inflection at the end of the syllable. "Jane?" she would stare seriously, "I hope you don't outstay your welcome at the Fairburns' house. If you overwhelm everyone, you'll end up alone." She was just Plain Jane to them. Then he came along telling her that stones--precious stones--were very strong and could be made into ornaments. She was more like a stone.

The wind was aggressive. Bit by bit, with arctic force, it shaved off exposed flesh, which wasn't entirely bad because she often felt too fleshy, too bulky in her button down black coat which was already missing a silver button. Owl Creek was meant to be temporary: I'll go to school there, for now; I'll find friends there, for now; I'll get a part-time job there, for now. Even when her dad moved the family up there--when she was twelve--he said, "This is our home, for now," so she never fully settled in. It's now eight years later.

After graduating, Jane became a youth coordinator at the Klondike Arts Centre, a generally painless job that involved entertaining a handful of pre-teens with art projects during the week and going ice skating on Dawson Pond--by the RV site--every Saturday at noon. The kids were all home now. She remained.

Her mind painted that white afternoon black. Black like the night--three years ago--when he took her to that pond and left his truck headlights on. That night when they went ice skating and she slipped her hand into his for the first time, feeling his strength, through mittens, as he ensured she wouldn't trip over the ice's inconsistencies.

Adam's the type of first love Jane won't remember fondly with her drunk, former girlfriends, at their 10 year high school reunion. She won't roll her eyes when she remembers staying up all night, in the eleventh grade, just because he said he might call "late." The relationship won't teach her how to move on and find new romance--like those women in W Network movies who give up on love, only to find Prince Charming sitting at the next Starbucks. Owl Creek didn't have a Starbucks.

Darkness was already nestling into the neighbourhood. It was much later than she thought. Her boots strode back to the soft glow of the town. She manoeuvred through the chain-linked fence. Her crunching footsteps were stifled by Mr. McKenzie's roaring dually truck and snow plough clearing the streets, because he cares about the community, and loves showing off his green Chevy. She had to walk all the way home that afternoon because she didn't hitch a ride with Jen's mom after ice skating.

Walking was more poetic: the sun setting over rickety houses, her black coat and long, brown hair flowing under her toque--like a New York winter wonderland photo shoot for Vanity Fair-- thoughts of a lost love turning in her mind in the form of similes and metaphors. Our romance was like the Neverending Story. Adam was my Atreyu, saving me from the impending un-imagination of the Nothing. Life was more attractive imagined through movie lenses. She walked down the centre of the street for perfect symmetry. She strived for perfect camera angles.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Q&A With Aidan Knight

In anticipation of Aidan Knight's CD release show, January 8 2010.  
What can listeners expect from Versicolour?

That's a tough one. Listeners can expect to hear a lot of introverted  
pop music, ghostly noises creeping in and out of songs, easter morning  
trumpets and a lot of myself. I sing on all the songs. I also wrote  
the songs. Haha. (Sarcasm and witty nods are hard on the internet). 
Who did you work with on the album?

Jonathan Anderson is my briliiant producer and great friend. We  
actually didn't know one another very well when we started but now he  
and I are close, I would say. We've eaten litres and litres of Pho.  
Jon and I created the base of the recording and then all my fantastic  
friends in The O' Darling were in town and recorded. In retrospect, it  
was very spur of the moment. It would've been a very different record  
if they hadn't been around. Might have been a little less ornate, and  
1 track longer. I'm so happy with it. That says a lot. 
What is your favourite track on the album?  Why?

I really like Knitting Something Nice, especially the ending. I think  
I get more comments on the drumming in the end of that song than  
anything else I've ever done. If someone puts on the last few minutes,  
if I haven't heard the beginning of the song.. I get totally lost. I  
can't find the beginning of the measure to save my life. But what I  
said before, I mean: I love all the songs. No Filler, as they say.
 How do you feel about the upcoming show on Friday?  Supporting
bands etc.?

Wow. To answer simply, I feel so great about these shows. The lineup,  
to me, is the ultimate. I will take this moment to make an itemized  

We Are The City - You guys are inspiring to be around. I love being  
friends with you guys and playing music alongside you. I can't wait to  
tour and have some hilarious late night conversations during the  
drives out East.
Yukon Blonde - I wish I could've played bass with you guys on that  
tour. Your band writes some of the most grin-worthy songs I've ever  
seen live. The first time I saw you, I knew that you were headed for  
huge things.
In Medias Res - I have a lot to be thankful for. You guys get along so  
well with my family and you are genuinely funny and caring friends. I  
don't know why you aren't a household name yet, but I hope that  
changes. It will.

That's how I feel about them. I fell great about them!
 What do you want people to take away from your music and live

I hope can see past my standoffish appearance, see my awkward shyness  
and appreciate the attention that I put into my songs, and that I  
really hope that people have a great time at my shows. Also, laughing  
is good. I'd rather have fun than be serious all the time. Mhm!
 Where can fans pick up Versicolour?

I'll be selling 200 copies at the 3 shows. Versicolour comes out on  
March 2 on Adventure Boys Club. Ditch Records will definitely have it.  
They've been so cool with carrying a few copies when I have them in  
 How do you like playing solo shows in comparison to working with a
full band?

I've kind of sworn off solo shows at bars for the most part. It's  
immensely unsatisfying to have to play and sing twice as loud to  
compete with the bar crowd chatting over their pints. I still play  
house concerts and cafes by myself, and I've played a few concert  
halls which have been unreal. I just like playing off of other  
musicians and friends onstage. It feels less dorky and stiff when you  
can improvise a little bit and feel supported.
 Will you be playing any upcoming shows in Victoria soon?

Just these release shows for now. I mostly jam over at my friend  
Colin's house in the living room and do impromptu living room shows  
with friends. 
 What is your favourite breakfast cereal?

I get asked for cereal recommendations quite often and I should  
disclose that I'm not eating Kellogg's, Post, General Mills, etc. any  
more. I'm trying to eat more locally produced food right now. They're  
still delicious cereals, but they are also shipped thousands of miles  
and are, subsequently, full of BHT and other preservatives. I love  
Oaty Bites, which are very similar to Crispix but infinitely more  
delicious. If you are looking for amazing deals on cereal: Pharmasave  
on Fort at Richmond. Tell them Aidan sent you!