It had been a busy week for Jakob and on the morning of Tuesday, April 28th, he felt the effects of exhaustion and sleep deprivation quite acutely. The oil-pan brown coffee in his cup did nothing but mock him.
On Sunday the 20th, he’d hosted the release party for an audio cassette tape which his music label, Arachnidiscs Recordings, had endeavored to issue. This album was by a Montreal musician who calls himself Téléphone Maison. The name is a reference to the once-popular feces-shaped alien known as E.T. and his deep yearning to go home. In the age before Internet memes, the magically world wide web-free zone of the 1980’s, the squat, brown extra-terrestrial blob helped disseminate a sense of displacement and dispossession into the hearts of a generation with his catchphrase, “E.T. phone home.”
A call to arms for every soul lost at sea from a cosmic runaway stranded on the mean streets of a middle-class Californian subdivision. Against the backdrop of tawdry McMansions still under construction, he reached out to his estranged parents to rescue him from the age of ubiquitous digital communication just on the horizon. He sensed, in a way we humans could only guess, that a churning monstrosity of information overload and homogenized culture lay in wait from which he instinctively fled, leaving his new friends behind to fend for themselves and be flattened by the steamroller of an accelerated culture.
E.T. — the Existentialist Turd.
It was with a the same simmering sense of foreboding which Jakob remembered from the ’80s—the fear of nuclear, economic or AIDS-related annihilation always everywhere, toujours partout—that he approached the event. He was convinced his friends would arrive from la belle province to an empty room (the Southern Cross Lounge at the TRANZAC club, to be specific), but such was not the case. Once again, Jakob’s pervading pessimism was proven fallible.
As if to hammer this point home, in attendance was his friend Jesse. The same Jesse who’d remarked some weeks earlier, “You always have to say something negative, don’t you?”
This was in response to some reasonable and realistic observation Jakob had made in his usual style of rhetoric, free of rosy romantic distortion and the enabling buoyancy of well-meant positivism. Though Jakob felt mildly rebuked, he knew Jesse had made the comment half in jest and that the other half of his intentions were those of kindness. Jesse is the sort of enthusiastic positivist Jakob likes to surround himself with, perhaps subconsciously in hopes that his own sharp, negativist corners might be blunted by association; that he might learn how to see opportunity in a world where any reasonable person can only see spiritual blockades and cultural death squads.
Or perhaps he secretly hopes to corrupt the rosy glasses of these open-minded optimists, and turn their lenses a deep bile green. His own intentions are never clear, even to himself, and he always fears the worst.
As he left the show, Jakob said to Jesse, “Thank you for coming out tonight.”
Jesse replied, “Thanks for doing your least favourite thing—putting on a show.”
A remark that was at once supportive and a playful critique of how Jakob had complained all evening about his dislike for being a concert promoter. Another attempt to chip away at Jakob’s protective layer of negativity? Perhaps. Or was it a more pointed bard? Had Jakob’s air of sardonic sarcasm succeeded in seducing Jesse to the comfortable ease of the negative angle? To this Jakob could only say, again, but this time not without a touch of sadness, perhaps.
In the same venue on the 24th, a much larger crowd gathered to celebrate the ruby anniversary of Joe Strutt‘s birth. It was joyous social occasion with friendly faces popping up like spring flowers everywhere you turned. So it was that a plan Jacqueline and Jakob had devised to leave the event early somehow fell to the wayside, like a McDonald’s wrapper sucked out of the backseat of a car through the rear window, unnoticed.
Due to this late evening, the following day’s roadtrip to Guelph (where Jakob was engaged for a performance of experimental guitar music under the moniker BABEL at a concert series named Silence), Jakob and Jacqueline found themselves nodding off on Ontario’s highway 401. However, no collisions occurred. Not even in the Mad Max anarchy of downtown Guelph under the thrall of a hockey game did their fenders get bendered. Though cars swarmed around them like angry hornets with a complete disregard of lanes, traffic signs and basic automobile civility, our duo arrived at the venue unscathed, physically, but the emotional exhaustion would be added to their tab.
Sunday the 27th ended the buzzing week of busyness. Another release celebration for another cassette. The audio tape in question was Clara Engel‘s latest album. The evening’s celebration took place at a vaguely bicycle-themed bar named Handlebar, at a concert series named Crosswires. The concert was the second-to-last in the series as founder Doc Pickles, a man on the edge, has put the axe to his baby.
Also perilously on the edge was a young man who had spent the afternoon nursing a broken heart with a hundred dollars worth of shots. Unfortunately for him, the edge was not figurative but the literal edge of the stairwell which lead to the crypt-like washroom in the basement. The events which followed were a strong argument against washrooms in Toronto drinking establishments being crypt-like and at the bottom of perilously steep stairs.
The series of events were live-blogged by Jacqueline on Facebook.
That moment when the drunk guy at the bar falls down the basement stairs. Now he wants more dranks!
Now he says, “My ass hurts. It really hurts a lot.”
Also, “I don’t want to sound queer, but I love you.”
He’s gone now. It was a sad tale, really. His friend, who just got married had moved from Guelph to Toronto and since then, their friendship has dwindled. Drunk guy was the friend left behind, as evidenced by his small town use of Queer. I think he ended up so drunk because he was sad and out of his element and jealous of his buddy’s Toronto friend. To be honest, he was a pretty lovely drunk, aside from the small town homophobia, he kept asking to pay the tab and telling his buddy that he loved him. In my mind, I am writing a fanfic in which either they used to be lovers or Drunk Guy has been harbouring unrequited love for Buddy. It would explain a lot.
It’s devastating to be the friend left behind. I’ve been there.
For better or worse, the scene set a specific tone for the evening. Pain, emotional and physical; injuries to the heart and body that no amount of drink could hope to temper. The inebriated young man’s party left before the evening’s music began for which Jakob was thankful. He was opening the night, again performing a set of experimental guitar music, and was not sure how this would go over, given the young man’s fragile state of mind.