Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
This is without a doubt the best political essay I’ve read in ages, polemic or not. It crystallizes the issues with sharp and hilarious lines reminiscent of Taibbi or Bai or hell, Thomas Frank.
If Millennials are coming out in droves to support Bernie Sanders, it’s not because we are tripping balls on Geritol. No, Sanders’s clever strategy of shouting the exact same thing for 40 years simply strikes a chord among the growing number of us who now agree: Washington is bought. And every time Goldman Sachs buys another million-dollar slice of the next American presidency, we can’t help but drop the needle onto Bernie’s broken record:
The economy is rigged.
Democracy is corrupted.
The billionaires are on the warpath.
Sanders has split the party with hits like these, a catchy stream of pessimistic populism. Behind this arthritic Pied Piper, the youth rally, brandishing red-lettered signs reading “MONEYLENDERS OUT.”
And despite being a proud, self-identified millennial (imagine that!) it’s not even all about her. Mostly. So why are you still here and not already reading this thing?
Stumping for Hillary Clinton this weekend in New Hampshire, hedge fund manager Madeleine Albright squawked, “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help each other.” When the Democratic National Committee chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was asked earlier this year why she thought Millennials resist Hillary Clinton, she…
Thursday, 4 February 2016
One of the great things about having an online distribution partner is when they take the initiative and upload catalogue tracks to YouTube in (in this case, optimistic) hopes of click-through streaming royalties.
Sometimes, though, the results are unexpected.
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Yrreb Yrrehc · Dan Bryk · Tha Commissioners Cherry Berry ℗ 2006 Dan Bryk Released on: 2014-06-03 Music Publisher: Dan Bryk Auto-generated by YouTube.
I forgot all about the B-side to Cherry Berry until someone emailed me asking if this was for real. (That person is apparently the ONE listener thus far.)
The idea was utterly, unapologetically ripped off from the flip of Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Aaway, Ha-Haaa!” (I mean, they are both novelty songs fronted by pseudonymous authority figures, right?)
B- Seite der Single “They’re coming to take me away, ha- haaa!” von Napoleon XIV
If you have no idea what any of this is about, there’s this:
Okay, this is easily the single greatest song ever written about a state commissioner of labor. Yep, the smiling face of North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie K. Berry has inspired a song. A really funny song. Actually, just a great song altogether.
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
I contributed a cover of “I Hate My Generation” to an upcoming Sloan tribute record. How upcoming? It drops this Friday the 5th on Detroit’s Futureman Records. They’re even taking pre-orders.
from the album If It Feels Good Do It – A Sloan Tribute
It’s an admittedly highly interpretive take on the original, and I managed to sucker an amazing band into it: Josh Hicks on the sticks, Joe Giddings (ex-Star Collector) and Steve Della Maggiora on guitars, Frank Padellaro (you may know him from King Radio or the Scud Mountain Boys) on bass and Brandi Ediss on shouting.
And me on harmonies. Lots and lots of harmonies. Do you remember how Moxy Früvous’ Get In The Car basically ripped off the intro (and uh, general vibe) of Pen Pals? You don’t? Well, I sure as hell do!
Now that I am officially part-American, I have finally created my first petition. Could I get a witness? I require 150 signatures for my petition to show up on the White House website:
Investigate Gov. Rick Snyder for gross negligence in the poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan. | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government
Governor Rick Snyder’s actions have caused irrepairable harm to the families of Flint, Michigan. Gov. Snyder needs to be indicted for criminal negligence in the matter of the poisoning of the city water of Flint, Michigan, and if found responsible he needs to be charged.
So please, sign and share! It only seems fair.
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
It’s the end of the year and I realized I haven’t accomplished much beyond still being alive. I guess that’s pretty good, actually. It’s also the first year since my teens where I didn’t finish writing one single solitary song. Still reeling from what’s definitely my worst year ever, for a variety of reasons probably best shared over alcoholic (well, caffeinated for me) beverages.
Still, I have much to be thankful for.
Thanks to my rag-tag band of friends for a very convincing job of listening to what must have been tediously evolving tales of the same woe is me. Thank you O makers of Steve Jobs and You’re The Worst. Thank you Apple for finally increasing the iTunes Match limit to 100,000 tracks. Thank you DC cab driver who actually drove back uptown from Georgetown to return the iPhone I absent-mindedly left in your cab. Thank you Canada for voting out Harper and his band of cynical cronies. Thank you again and again President Obama for your Affordable Care Act — more specifically, the Mental Health Parity part. Thank you Judge George H. King of Los Angeles district court for your ruling in Rupa Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music. Thanks to my extended family for your love and concern and support. Thank you bendamustine and rituximab. And thanks to my amazing wife and kid for keeping things real, and at times even really great.
And a Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah to you.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
My Dad was a straight talker. One of his favourite sayings was “Bullshit Baffles Brains.” If he were here today he would have said “keep it short and sweet” so I hope to speak as honestly and briefly as I can.
My Dad also loved to lean in and sort of point to himself and say “What You See Is What You Get” which was and wasn’t true. And he knew that. He was a simple man in that he had his work, he had his family, he had his faith, and he had his friends — but those four things all overlapped in amazing, complicated ways.
My dad was not a big preacher, I don’t think I ever heard him speak from the pulpit of this church beyond the occasional parish announcement. He was a man of understated faith, but faith that he held deeply. You never met a gentile who knew more or cared more about the holocaust. Every year or two he’d say “Get me this or that book” and it was about a survivor of Birkenau or Treblinka — my father honestly couldn’t wrap his head around human beings doing such evil to others and it fascinated him. Even before Fr. Maximillian Kolbe – the Polish Franciscan priest for whom this facility was founded — had been sainted by Rome, my Dad had sainted him in his heart. Not a lot of things made my dad cry, but talking about Fr. Kolbe stepping out of the safety of a Gestapo line up and volunteering his life in place of a man who cried out “My wife, my family!” — it was the most Christ-like thing imaginable, and it moved my dad deeply because he would have given his life for us too.
My dad was a street guy. At the age when I was in high school whining about not fitting in and not having friends, he had already dropped out. His father Benny worked hard, brutal work on the killing floor at Canada Packers, but my father decided at some point he wasn’t ever going to have a boss. (At least, not until he married my mother.) He shined shoes, he sold fruit from a truck, he watched and listened and taught himself how to get by. He drove deliveries up and down the east coast. He knew the side routes and two-lanes and kept taking them even when the interstates were there. He has probably been to more useless places than anyone here.
He was a voracious reader despite his lack of formal education – business biographies, books about the war, all sorts of histories of Poland and Canada, and every day you would see all three Toronto papers strewn across his desk. He might ask me “What does this word mean?” but not very often. He wasn’t impressed by how many letters you had after your name. When he was invited on a trade tour to Cuba in the 80’s he came back ranting about the “idiot intellectuals” who acted like everything was fine and everyone was happy. They wanted to keep him in front of the whiteboard at the resort, looking at “facts” and figures and abstractions. Dad wanted to meet the packers, the drivers, the growers. After that eye-opener and especially after a later visit to communist Poland, he had little time for utopian academics. Dad would say shit like “Ph.D piled higher and deeper” and I imagine what he thought about me going to university for english and fine art, not business or medicine or law though he never said a word. But I’ll tell you, I never saw a prouder man the day I wore my cap and gown.
He worked so hard to build this church and cultural center. My father helped establish this parish in temporary space at Holy Name of Mary School, and I can still smell the incense as an altar boy in that first Christmas pageant there, and dad beaming with pride as I sang with the choir. He and his friends busted their dupas to transform that gymnasium into the beautiful church and facility that stands around us today. As the plans and ambitions of the founders expanded, I remember him politely telling Father Bak that we didn’t need such a big temple. I’m not sure he could foresee the size of his faith community, or even the cultural community from where he stood 30 years ago, but my god he was ever proud to have been a part of giving it a place and a home. When I was going through his things looking for memories to share today, I realized he had saved every membership card, every “Kolbe 100 Fundraiser” pledge pin. He didn’t boast about it — well, maybe after a shot of spiritus with his buddies — but he was so proud to give the suburban Poles a grounding place like the St. Stan’s or St. Casimir’s of his childhood.
Dad grew up in a different Toronto, where the Poles were treated as second class citizens by the waspy old guard, but that bigotry seldom manifested itself in how he treated others. He worked hard and built up from a single truck to a thriving business honestly and ethically, not to impress anyone or show off, but as if to prove he already deserved their respect. And he treated everyone as if they deserved HIS time and respect… at least until they proved themselves unworthy. The greatest compliment Dad would bestow upon you is that you were “solid.” I won’t share some of the words that meant you weren’t solid.
It didn’t matter if you were the head chef or the dishwasher, the boss or the truck driver, Wally would shake your hand and ask what you did, how you were, how was your family. He was a true people person and he loved to shoot the breeze with anyone. Last night I swear half the visitors came up to me and said “I just had lunch with your father last month” – he was always “alright, when are we going to go to lunch?” I might have been the musician in the family, by my father worked that telephone like a musical instrument. My father could start a conversation with anyone, any time, any culture, hell any language. He would find the shared interest, he saw the good in everyone.
And if, god forbid, you did fall short of being a good person in my dad’s eyes… you’d get the Wally Eye. Some of you know it. My brother and I knew it well, growing up, and it was a disapproval that you didn’t want. With not much more than that funny look, he would warn us about our friends and business partners. And most of the time he was right. But privately, he was as tough on himself as anyone else.
For all my dad’s business savvy, he could be a real soft touch. If someone came to him with a story of injustice, a streak of bad luck they could turn around with a little help — in my case maybe a totalled car — he was there with an open pocketbook, a billy club, the name and number of a guy who could help, or even just an open mind, a handshake and some solid advice. When he said he wouldn’t let you down, he meant it.
His relationship with my mother could be tempestuous, a ten dollar word he probably wouldn’t care for, but at the heart of their relationship was a deep-seated love that transcended all the things they could throw at each other. Sometimes literally. My parents both grew up in stormy marriages, but they were of the first era where you could walk away and start over without a lot of judgment — an option their parents never had — but they stuck it out, partly because of their faith, but mostly because they loved and needed each other, and because my brother and I were always their first priority, and they believed that a family needed to stay together. They helped each other through good times and bad, and their strengths generally complimented each others weaknesses.
It’s a testament to my dad’s strength that he was one of the most high-functioning raging alcoholics I have ever known. He could be gregarious and generous after a few beers, the life of the party, and that was part of the joyous spirit we all love to remember. I believe that he inherited his affliction, and though that disease tried to twist itself around his and our lives over the years, in the last two decades, with a lot of pushing from my mom and help from his friends, he fought it fairly successfully, and took much better care of both himself and his family. I’m sad that my Henry didn’t see more of my dad in his youthful glory, but I am heartened that the last two nights, everyone keeps telling me all he could talk about was his grandson – apparently all the time.
My cousins and friends and I are different kind of men than our fathers. We talk to our wives about our and their feelings, we change diapers, we clean and vacuum our homes (though our wives would probably say less frequently than we think we do) and most of all, we are always communicating with our children. Being involved in their education and play. Make sure they understand what we expect of them, and making sure their concerns are heard. Being there for them. A lot.
My Dad, not so much. It was hard to talk to him, slightly easier after a few drinks. He provided, he worked hard, he let us know when we were out of line, he bailed us out of trouble, he protected us. He could drive a Lincoln town car 24 hours down the I-75 straight on to Florida with a pack of Salem Lights, a 2-inch crack in the driver’s side window, and a backseat full of noisy kids. And if there was a problem on the interstate, he knew those state roads backwards and forwards from the cab of his truck.
Back in the roaring eighties, when my dad was at the height of his business success, he owned racehorses with one of his customers, and also I believe with his life-long friends Gordy and my godfather Rocky. He wasn’t much of a gambler — he preferred to cut deals — but I know he really enjoyed himself and mostly he loved the community, he loved talking with all the guys at the track. His favourite horse was named “Amazing Dan” and when that horse won (and sadly, was claimed) he brought home the photo finish and gave it to me, beaming with pride. He also lost a shit-load of money in that world, and later he would tell me “son, horse racing is the sport of kings… and your father… he is not a king!”
And I just want to finish by saying no dad, you were a king. You were an inspiration to anyone who knew you well, and a good man to those who knew you a little. I can only pray you knew how much I loved and admired you, and how much all of us here will miss you.
Friday, 22 May 2015
Hey Kids, Look at This! It’s already May, and it’s time for 2015’s first exciting post: “Nothing’s cool, nothing matters.” Now go and buy that Bugger The Toast album you read about on all those cool blogs. You know the kind.
Also, could someone please write a plug-in that will suck all the “content” from my FB feed (stream? field and stream?) and stick it on my WP? You’re welcome. I’m going back to bed now. This has been an intolerably old-feeling year. Hey… You… get off of my lawn.
Friday, 24 April 2015
Archive dive for Theme Music One-Word-Titles: “A”
From the album Pop Psychology (2009) an archive dive for Theme Music One-Word-Titles “A”
Footage from a solo show at the Empty Bottle, Chicago around 1998 or ’99. Never bothered to write the damn date on the VHS tape. No later than 2000 anyhow.
Sunday, 5 April 2015
An archive dive for A Bit of The Old In and Out Theme. A duet with the lovely Greta Gertler from my 2009 recording Pop Psychology. Video from James Maduzia’s amazing 2003 Brick Film “The Letter” — really hope he doesn’t mind my derivative use. https://archive.org/details/tl http://downloads.bryk.com/album/pop-psychology https://www.facebook.com/groups/theme.music.group/