Wed Nov 27, 2013
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
All-ages, and free
I’ll be lecturing on What is Goth music and how it has changed over the years, using my own Goth Music Family Tree from Encyclopedia Gothica as a guide. The Bloor/Gladstone branch is a particularly wonderful location and I’m really looking forward to it. Bring your babybats, bring your questions…come!
Hot Sauce in a Coffin ($17.95)
“Bloody Bat Hot Sauce” has cayenne pepper and garlic in it, and comes in a cedar coffin for gift giving.
For the nice and the naughty (under $100)
Skull Votive Holder ($54)
Skulls. Candles. What else do you need to know. Oh, is made of solid pewter and fits a standard votive.
Kern Noir Photobook ($varies)
Sure, there are naked photos of women everywhere. But a collection of Richard Kern’s black and white fetish portraits is still a rather nice thing to have. This one is out of print so hunt around for the best condition/price.
Silk Ascot ($32.95)
Because Goth men actually know what an ascot is.
Evil Dead The Musical ($20-$80)
Gifting tickets to arts and culture is both noble and fun. And I can think of no musical that would appeal to a guy with a dark side more than this romp through Evil Dead. Blood. Boobs. Chainsaws. Demons. Playing to January 5 in Toronto.
Reaper Rosary ($40)
Ain’t nothing wrong with men wearing jewelry. This rosary of jet black Swarovski beads with a skull is a nice one for all the androgynous boys in your life.
Bluebeards Revenge ‘Cut Throat’ Shaving Kit (£34.99)
Because goths are the one true hold-outs to the beard craze, keep him clean shaven with this gift set from UK dealer Bluebeards Revenge. Shaving cream, balm, a fancy brush and a “cut throat” razor for that Sweeney Todd role play night.
Splurgesville ($150 and way up)
Skull Cufflinks from Alexander McQueen ($175)
Who says only ladies deserve presents from McQueen? The design house makes several kinds of skull cufflinks but I like these ones best, silver finish brass with a ghostly Victorian skull encased in glass.
Memento Mori Watch ($209)
Tick, tock, tick tock….every second closer to death. This all-black watch features hands with the message “Remember…. you will die.”
John Varvatos Buckle Boot ($1198)
There are buckle boots. Then there are super duper fancy “Engineer Triple Buckle Boot” from John Varvatos. Goth as fuck, for grown-ups.
Happy pre-Holidays.Presenting, for your gift giving convenience, my second (annual?) list of beautiful things I think goth girls would like to receive in a pretty box under the Xmas tree. As with last year, I’ve avoided clothing or things you need to try on, and plastic crap from China with skulls. There are also many, many books, lots of music, and of course excellent charities to support, all worth your attention. But let’s start with these….12 items to get your shopping started, including a few fantasy shopping items — because one of these days maybe Santa will stop at the McQueen store….
Manycompanies make black nail polish. Only Azature makes black polish with a diamond in it. Just the one diamond, mind you. If you have a spare $250,000 sitting around, Azature will sell you their deluxe version: 267 carats in every bottle. But I think most of us would rather nab the $25 one, and save our 1/4 million dollars for a castle by the sea.
Fairy Stationery Set ($18) Write out love notes, poems, or even a will on a notepad and matching envelopes in your choice of Earth, Water or Fire fairy design from Enchanted Studios.
White Chocolate Crow Skull ($20) Life size cast of an actual carrion crow skull made into 100% pure Belgian chocolate. One of many strange and unusual items from the new Morbid Anatomy on-line shoppe.
Sophie Lancaster Foundation Tote Bag ($14.99) “Weirdo. Mosher. Freak.” Take back these insults and support the S.O.P.H.I.E. Foundation’s mission to reduce prejudice and fight hate crimes with this bag, available in red, blue, purple and green.
“Recluse” Felt Pennant ($14) Show your true team colours (black, and anti-social) with this pennant from Montreal artisans Stay Home Club screen-printed with the word “recluse.” Also available in “I don’t care” and “hibernate.”
Perfect for memorizing poetry in bed, the full text from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” printed on a duvet cover. Classy and classic.. (Price is for Queen size.)
Serious splurges! ($500 and up)
Alexander McQueen Stained Glass Clutch ($525) C’mon Santa! In the world of McQueen purses, this one is a bargain. Medievalists especially will appreciate the stained glass print on this canvas clutch, perfectly sized for your keeping your secrets.
Peter Murphy is the inspiration and subject for this gorgeous painting by Vincent Marcone, titled “His Scarlet Voice.” One of the limited-edition large prints will set you back a few bones but how much would you pay to have the Bauhaus vocalist hanging out in your bedroom? (Smaller giclee prints are available for under $50.)
I have found the horror fan’s dream bookstore. I’ve known about Dark Delicacies for years, of course, by reputation. I included it in my Encyclopedia Gothica, after all. But I wanted to visit it first-hand, and that became my excuse for a trip to Los Angeles to promote my new book, How to Kill A Vampire.
The store regularly hosts authors, filmmakers, and other horror types for signings and they were courteous enough to have me come in, even though I’m not exactly famous. They even put a display in the window and set me up on the same day at the Full Moon event by the lovely folks at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, which allowed me to meet all kinds of people interested in dark and beautiful things.
My girlfriends and I meet True Blood’s Carolyn Hennesy
One surprise visitor was actor Carolyn Hennesy. She was wearing blood red contacts and I jokingly asked her if she was a vampire….only to discover that she is! Or was. She played Rosalyn Harris on True Blood, until she was violently dispatched. I apologized for the title of my book and she forgave me. Haha. Then we talked about her animal activism: she hosts a podcast called Animal Magnetism about conservation and preservation. She was full of energy and enthusiasm and I liked her alot.
It was a splendid afternoon and I highly recommend you make Delicacies bookstore a must on your next visit to the L.A. area. The shop is located on a retail strip in Burbank surrounded by great thrift stores, independent clothing shops and more but you’ll be hard-pressed not to spend all your money on their books and horror gifts. I bought myself a gorgeous skull crystal necklace (naturally) and a copy the owner’s book Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone: Your Guide to Meeting, Dating and Seducing a Vampire, because even though I don’t believe vamps are real, it might come in handy someday….
The only thing I like as much as writing about vampires is talking about vampires. So I’ve been enjoying doing interviews to promote my new book, How to Kill A Vampire. And I especially enjoyed this interview with Richard Crouse. Richard is a well-known and highly respected film critic here in Canada and it felt like a life’s to-do checked off to appear on his radio show. He has kindly uploaded our chat for your listening pleasure.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Darkening days. Cool nights. The smell of pumpkin spice. Orange leaves crunching underfoot. The frantic search for Count Chocula. And for me, this year, extra special good times promoting my new book.
Friends in Toronto, Los Angeles, and London, Ontario…. I hope to see you at one of these events this month.
Two nights ago, on the eve of the Polaris Music Prize gala, in which a Canadian album would be named the year’s best, and awarded a $30,000 cash prize as a result, I was listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor’s Short Listed Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! I consider it a highly accomplished musical creation, one that I personally enjoyed enveloping myself in, and the more I listened the more I thought, “This could win.”
And then I dismissed it. In part because my favourites never win. (Hi Handsome Furs!) In part because it’s instrumental, with songs that are 20 minutes long, and that’s a hard sell, even to the expert open-eared music critics that make up the Polaris jury. And in part because Godspeed is, 20 years after first appearing on the fringes of Canada’s music scene, still pissing off critics, and Polaris is, after all, a critics’ prize.
Disclaimer: I was for many years a member of the Polaris Board of Directors. I also manged the jury, including moderating the final deliberations for the winner. I know more than anyone that those debates really are about the artistic merits of the album. It’s not a consensus vote, and the kind of of Borg-like hive mind that many people in the general public ascribe to the decision making is laughably speculative and false. There is no “let’s award a French act this year” or “that person is too rich to deserve to win.” It. Doesn’t. Happen.
But I know from private discussions with people who write about music for a (humble) living that sometimes when artists are mean to the media, talk shit about journalists, refuse to give interviews (or worse, waste people’s time by not showing up to scheduled ones) or generally act like we’re the enemy, their albums go the bottom of the listening pile. Media are people too, and they can have hurt feelings. I’m not suggesting that is a factor in that final Polaris debate (I certainly never witnessed it) but I did consider for a moment that Godspeed, notorious shunners of media attention, rejecters of interview requests, might not have enough friends in that room.
I’m so glad I was wrong. Last night, after several hours of joyous musical performances — highlighted by fiercely confident Zaki Ibrahim, ferociously pummelling METZ, and wickedly fun A Tribe Called Red — Godspeed was announced as the Polaris Music Prize winner for 2013. Post-gala, the question is always, “What did you think of the winner?” and this year, in all sincerity, I could say “Allelujah.”
It did not go unnoticed that this was the first time in the award’s history that the winner was not in attendance. This was by no means a surprise, knowing GY!BE. But it was a story. A rep from the band’s label explained the band would be giving the $30,000 prize to try and set up a programme to distribute musical instruments in prisons. People clapped at that, mostly. Then everyone went to the Drake and mingled and talked about music and got on with our lives.
This morning I woke to the band’s official statement, which starts off with “A FEW WORDS REGARDING THIS POLARIS PRIZE THING.” Right, this “thing.” This dismissive shrug bugged me. But it goes on to thank music writers for the prize, shout out struggling freelancers especially, express gratitude, and then:
“BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.”
And so now we have an even bigger story. Godspeed “slams” Polaris! My social media, full of music biz people, is awash with arguments about whether or not the band’s position is respectable or bullshit—or worse, shtick. Many call them hypocrites, dicks, fake anarchists, for accepting a prize if they don’t agree with what it represents.
Some people seem very angry about the whole thing. I am not.
Sure, it’s fun to argue. But really, I fail to see this as some crisis, some failure of either the prize or the band. For one, they’re not totally slamming the prize. They say thank you. They don’t particularly like the glitzy gala, sponsored by a car company, sure, but in general they mostly sound conflicted. Which is exactly how I would feel about being awarded a prize sponsored by corporations. Grateful, yes. But I’d still have questions and concerns. And I haven’t made my living, my brand, off being anti-corporate.
Many are suggesting the band should not have accepted the win. That they should have withdrawn from consideration months ago, at the Long List stage. And they especially should not be taking the money. I don’t know if that’s some lingering resentment over their anti-industry stance all these years or what. But I do know it’s bullshit.
If you have a point of view, a message even, it serves nobody to withdraw from public discourse.
By pulling out, rejecting their nomination, they would first and foremost deprive many new music lovers from discovering and hearing their album, which is pretty much the opposite of what most musicians I know want. There may have been a few blog posts about their decision but only people who already know who Godspeed are would ever read them. And they most definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take their views to mainstream media. To have a statement read on CBC Radio. To get a nation talking about the nature of arts awards. Even if their statement had its contradictions and flaws. Yeah, I know that their label Constellation has received government funding. I know they are going on a no-doubt gas-guzzling tour with NIN, playing venues named by banks and such. And it doesn’t bother me.
We are all compromised in our ethics. We all have to navigate a world that is for the most part not in line with our core beliefs of justice. Judging other people may be natural, but it’s petty. It’s like saying Tom Morello lost his activist cred by signing with Sony. It’s like tsking a vegetarian for wearing leather shoes to make yourself feel better for eating animals. If someone else is unpure in their convictions, well, then I guess my inaction is OK then.
We have no idea what goes in in other people’s heads, and hearts, and wallets. Maybe the band is giving their profits from the NIN tour to carbon offsets. Maybe Constellation used that funding to hire people to work in their office instead of exploiting intern slavery. I don’t know. And I actually don’t care. I’m still applauding a band for taking its 24 hours of spotlight to actually say something, about something, whatever that is. In my view, that’s what artists should do. It’s part of their job.
One point I am surprised to find overlooked is that the band chose a music journalist to speak on their behalf at the gala. For the first time, the Short Listed artists were given the opportunity to select their own presenters. Whitehorse picked Sarah McLachlan. Tegan and Sara picked Strombo. Godspeed could have picked any number of representatives — Sacheen Littlefeather, perhaps? — or none at all. But they picked Jessica Hopper, a music journalist. She read a short statement about why they would not attend, with a comment about what can be achieved when you “decide to say no.” It was kind of perfect. (Save for host Kathleen Edwards’ comment that Hopper is one of the “few and far between excellent women music writers,” which I found bewildering and offensive.) Here, their actions spoke.
Godspeed don’t hate everyone. They just don’t like everyone. Like their music, I can relate to that.