11, 5 and 1

In celebration of Black History Month I took in a showing of the 11th annual 5 Artists 1 Love at the Maclab this evening. It was fine. I was underdressed though, and probably should have put some effort in the whole fashion thing considering the occasion. I brought the Mom along too, and she quite enjoyed it. We only caught the first half though, as her foot started swelling (long story) and I convinced her to get back to her room and do the R.I.C.E. thing A.S.A.P. It apparently blew up three weeks ago, but this trip (she was here for the weekend) aggravated things. Too much too fast. But yeah, aside from the swelling she thought the show was wonderfully delightful.

Her ankle wasn’t as impressed though.

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Yee haw….

Ummmm, it’s Garth Brooks Day kids.

Yes …we here in Edmonton now have an official Garth Brooks Day. GBD for short. Or Brooks Day I suppose. It’s to celebrate the wondrous occasion of the American Country Music legend staging not one, not two, not even there or four or five ….but nine shows in our city over two consecutive weekends. Yes, nine performances at our freshly minted concert/multipurpose venue known as Rogers Place. I believe we are in love with the Man. That’s the only way I can explain it. Sure you could mention something about how we’re as far North as the guy might wander, and because of that we’re attracting not just the Edmonton area but much of Northern Canada to boot. But that might not be the most accurate appraisal of the situation. Naw, I’m gonna say we just simply love the guy, and even though I don’t follow the country music thing anymore (if I ever did), listen to the music, buy the music or even take any side interests in the scene at all, I gotta tip my imaginary cowboy hat to the peeps of the city for supporting music on such a grand scale. Yes …welcome Garth, and don’t let the grey-din of the transitioning seasons turn you off of our inner beauty.

In celebration of the momentous occasion, here’s a dip in the archives for you all.
Or should I say, for ya’ll….

fretless-wonder

When I got my Musicman bass (Sting Ray if you’re into names ….I’m not and just had to look myself) I immediately put my old Ibanez up for sale thinking I can get rich with something so cool and 80’s vintage and all. Didn’t work that way though. It sat and sat and sat ….slowly getting lower in price until I thought nah, I’ll just keep it for whatever …maybe turn it into a fretless one day. Well, that one day finally arrived a few days ago.

I’ve done a few fretless conversions before. The first was one of my first basses, and old BC Rich, and the second was a Washburn electro-acoustic thing, and both of those – although adequate to play, weren’t anything to write home about. I’m all about the ‘get her done’ when it comes to getting things done, so I hurried the jobs and didn’t pay much attention to details. This time around though I actually looked on the You Tubes and did a little research. One site I found was great ….except it was way more professional than I could ever hope to be. Another was more my speed, and so I proceeded with the ‘wood-filler’ conversion and began my adventure. I’ll give you a little play-by-play of the affair followed by some pics I took as I went along.

The big question though ….which poor fools band do I break it in on ;)


  • Pull the frets – Use proper pliers (thanks Pat!) and a soldering gun to heat the glue so they’ll come out without pulling up chunks of the fretboard.
  • Remove the ‘nut’ and sand it down to size to factor in for the missing frets. Crazy glue puts this back into place nicely btw.
  • Clean out the grooves to remove residual or loose material. I used one of those mini sanding discs from a Dremel tool we had at work. Clean out the space where the nut sits as well.
  • Fill the fret holes. I used a darker wood fill and did it twice ….repeating from the starting fret as soon as I was done the last. I used my fingers too …no biggie.
  • Sand down your mess. I used a wet cloth first to take most of the filler off, then dried everything, then began sanding with a very fine grit paper until things were smooth. As you’ll notice in the pictures there are little spidery thingies along some fret edges ….this was unavoidable as the frets themselves had those little grooves built in them. I’m guessing for holding strength when they were placed into the board.
  • To clean things up I did multiple passes with Murphy’s soap directly on the fretboard. I don’t know if this was good or not, but it smelled lemony fresh.
  • For my finishing touches I generously applied olive oil. I know! Again, this may be a mistake and the bass may self-destruct in my hands one day, but the wood soaked it up nicely and there’s no greasy residue or anything. It actually looks and feels pretty nice.
  • Reassemble. I used nylon strings designed for fretless basses and tweaked my neck and action just a bit to level things out.
  • It plays great kids :) I like it at least, and it sounds fretlessy and everything. I can understand why you might want to use wooden shims to fill the fret holes (because of those spidery edges) and coat the board with an epoxy when done (for durability and sound) but this good ‘ol wood filler method worked great for a somewhat less-expensive bass. Maybe next time around I’ll step it up a notch. Maybe.

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Prostitution Narratives

Julie Bindel has a new book coming out this summer on prostitiution, and has recently given an interview with the International Business Times on some of her experiences while writing it. She talks about the ‘Nordic Model’ – and how it is that many NGO’s (such as Amnesty International) can support legalization when reality shows it to be ineffective. The link to the 20+ minute podcast is here (click) – and if you’re at all interested in her ‘radical feminist‘ approach to things like prostitution, pornography, gender-issues and what not, follow her on Twitter for a while. You won’t be disappointed.

While on the subject, I read a book not so long ago titled Prostitution Narratives. It’s a take off on the Slave Narrative that gave those who’ve lived and breathed the actual slave experience a voice of their own, and in that sense it’s a brutally honest and insightful look into the behind the scenes world of prostitution the average person will never experience. Like slavery, I feel prostitution too should be abolished as its fundamental purpose makes the prostituted person an object. Many argue ‘sex work’ is akin to any other job that will have a worker wear their body down over time, but the difference is that a regular job has you abuse your body for an external product, whereas in prostitution the product is the person themselves. It’s a traumatic affair because of this, and profoundly affects the lives of most who find themselves involved.

Here are a few excerpts that caught my attention from Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade. If anything grabs your interest, I highly recommend getting a copy. It’s less than $15 on kindle.


Men who frequent prostitutes have a sense of entitlement. They feel entitled to abuse and use any woman, whenever they want. To support these industries is to be in denial. The work chips away at you. At first I found it fascinating and exciting but it’s like tiny pinpricks over and over that become deflating. No woman should have to resort to prostitution. Although some tell themselves it’s a choice, it is more that they are in denial that is a survival strategy that gets you through the night.

Why didn’t I just walk away? After all, no one was holding a gun to my head, right? But the gun doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be psychological. And that is every bit as persuasive and threatening.

Instead of learning that my body was private, mine, something special to treasure and look after, I learned that it was a commodity to be used exclusively for the pleasure of men in exchange for money or goods. A concept that even all these years later I was yet to unlearn.

Some say they love their job. I caution them that it may look glamorous at first, but that the ongoing abuse of our body without consideration for our mind and soul is extremely destructive for a person’s life.

We do not report when we are conned or violated —it is part of ‘the job’. I gained great strength when by accident I came across Sheila Jeffreys’ book The Idea of Prostitution in 2009.1 All of a sudden I understood the deeply dehumanising nature of the sex industry. Everything fell into place; Sheila’s view of feminism was ‘radical’: she analysed the root cause of women’s oppression.

Losing seven years of my life being a hole for men’s pleasure is violence.

What was important to me was that my act, each time, was convincing so I could get the most money from them.

I was gagged, choked, gang raped, pushed, pulled by the legs, shoved, yelled at, threatened, lied to, anally raped, filmed and photographed naked with and without my consent. I had to put up with foul-smelling clients, obese clients with flabs of skins completely hiding their penis (and you have to find it), nervous, dangerous men on hard drugs, men who drugged me without my consent. For example —and this shows how naive I was —one of my regular clients liked to take cocaine in the room and constantly offered me some to get high with him. I always refused. But the shifty ones would put some powder on their tongue just before going down on me. The drug travelled through the skin into my blood vessels and a short time later I was not myself anymore. I lost control: the drug had kicked in. I felt nervous and stressed. I didn’t like the feeling of derailment of my thoughts that these drugs often provoked.

In prostitution, people are simply used. The money earned is an illusion of power. Real power is found in mutual respect, compassion and giving to others. These values do not exist in the world of prostitution.

I didn’t ‘choose’ prostitution: a mixture of the culture I lived in during the 1990s, ‘sex-positive’ feminism and a longing to be loved by my biological papa who had abandoned my siblings, mother and me, chose it for me. Poverty chose it for me. Anger chose it for me. Wanting to be loved chose it for me. I fooled myself into believing that if I was having sex, then I was being loved. With this faulty thinking, my secret transition to prostitution was relatively easy.

As you’ve heard, I worked in ‘higher-end’ legal and illegal brothels. I was in the ‘safer end’ of the industry. I did street prostitution only once. Sometimes I wonder which is worse: the prostitution I endured –which I insisted was my ‘choice,’ a requisite of the ‘job’ –or having to listen to people defend it now. The prostitution itself –the men, one after the other, after the other, after the other, with their sad and lonely stories (but they wanted the sex), with their entitlement (they had a right to the sex), their hostility (they demanded the sex), the violence, (they paid more to hurt me for sex or just hurt me in the course of it). All men from different walks of life who believed they had a right to me because, well, I was there. On top of me, inside me, around me, touching me, grabbing at me, trying to kiss me, ignoring me if I was exhausted or upset and doing it anyway, some even apologising to me, but doing it anyway. Some complaining about me (oh and I suffered for that!) but coming back to do it again anyway, or finding another woman who hadn’t forgotten to take her valium that day like I had –but who had just enough valium to dissociate but not look like she had, and most importantly, remembered to smile. And they call this ‘sex work’?

When will society begin to let go of the lies and learn the truth that prostitution itself is a violation of human rights, and this is not changed by ‘choice’?

When clients were really rough with me I would cry or even pray while they were pounding. I didn’t even try to pretend with the rough ones anymore. I am not religious but I found comfort in softly praying while a client was pounding the shit out of me. I found praying got my mind off what they were doing to me. Sometimes clients could hear me pray but it didn’t stop them brutalising me.

So I had to start degrading myself even further. I started to do sick shit I would never have done before. This meant bondage where I beat men until they bled, using strap-ons and fucking and fisting men up the arse. It made me feel so revolting. One time a really old man came in with a catheter. Fucking a man with a catheter is a truly sickening experience.

I was also drinking before my shift because I found the number of clients I was seeing really stressful. The men I saw became a blur. Some were married and would complain about their wives not putting out. Others were single and lonely. Some young men were just horny and wanted someone to pound into and get their rocks off. The odd one was pissed off and wanted someone to jam their dick into as hard as possible. Some were old men who just wanted fresh meat. They came from all walks of life. You could never tell if they were going to be an easy client or someone who would be rough and treat you like a whore. The ones who were really nice were the hardest because when they were nice it made me want to cry (I don’t know why).

I hurt when I see people viewing prostitution as a victimless activity and shouting loudly for its legalisation. They forget the stark reality of what it does to an individual’s soul. It aches when people argue about ‘choice’ when virtually every sexual service provider only ‘decides’ to sell sex, at best, due to a lack of better options, or as a means of escaping violence at the hands of someone forcing them to submit to sexual exploitation.

Still, I feel as though I have so little of ‘me’ left because I spent so much of my life pretending to be someone else. I still feel like an escort on the inside years later, one that just hasn’t turned a trick in a while. The day I received my first legitimate paycheck I broke down sobbing because it was the first bit of money I’d earned in the previous seven years where I didn’t have to lay on my back and spread my legs.

The fantasy that there was something noble in devoting myself to giving men affection, offering my body to prop up their self-esteem in exchange for money and being grateful for occasional kindness and superficial affection, was wearing thin.

Prostitutes exist only because men like you feel you have the right to satisfy your sexual urges using the orifices of other people’s bodies. Prostitutes exist because you and your peers feel that your sexuality requires access to sex whenever it suits you. Prostitutes exist because you are a misogynist, and because you are more concerned with your own sexual needs than relationships in which your sexuality could actually flourish.

People always ask me how the criminalisation of buyers would have helped me while I was in prostitution. My answer is this: If it had been a crime to buy women for sexual pleasure then I would have known that what these men were doing was wrong. For a long time I blamed myself, thinking that it was my own fault. I chose to be a prostitute. I gave them the opportunity to buy me. I took their money. How could I blame them? How could I blame anyone else but myself? But I am sure I would have left prostitution much earlier if I the law had been on my side. Because then I would have known that what these men were doing was wrong.

When a person is paid for sex they are being paid precisely because of the fact the sex is unwanted. Sexual autonomy cannot exist when a person is sexual for any reason outside their own desire, for their own pleasure. The sacrifice of my bodily autonomy was precisely what I was being paid for.

It is the choices that men make because they have the power to make those choices because of cultural norms, lack of education and harmful legal frameworks. This is the real reason girls and women are prostituted.

It is important to understand the links between the psychological trauma which results from prostitution, followed by the introduction of drugs either by a client, staff or other prostituted women and how this combination is the noose that tightens and traps girls like me in ‘legal’ sex work. The constant bombardment of trauma and the drugs to escape it creates an inability to function outside of addiction, hence the need for quick cash through sex work, reinforcing a cycle that is not easy to break. So women get literally trapped in the industry.


 

UR-22

I’ve put off upgrading my OS for the longest while because I knew the current versions wouldn’t run with my Audio Kontrol interface. I watched Captain slip away, and was about to bid adieu to Sierra when I saw a Kjiji deal on Steinberg’s UR-22 that was too good to pass up. It’s not the current model in the Steinberg lineup, but it was ‘almost new’ and considering the drivers work with the OS, I took the upgrade plunge.

And it’s great :)

Surprisingly I don’t need a program to run my bass! This is kinda awesome because in the old days I’d have to launch GarageBand or Reason and fiddle with stuff there to get my bass sounds set and balanced when listening/learning youtube or various audio recordings. I need to play along to things, and when I simply plugged the UR-22 into my Macbook my bass magically popped into my phones. Not only that, but there’s a ‘mix’ control on the device that allows me to balance the bass vs the audio I’m hearing (DAW) …so again, no need to fiddle around with levels in a separate program. It’s all done on the device. Everything! What was I waiting for….

The UR-22 is also metal, which is good, Phantom power, Hi-Z gain, XLR/Quater-Inch input thingies, midi and of course stereo outs and headphone jack/control. The sample rate is high too, and supposedly the pre-amps are good sounding as well.

I’ll test that out next time I do some vocal work.

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Faith?

“…dogmatic beliefs offer a global worldview full or rules and explanations and thereby reduce the complexity of life and create a psychologically safe and predictable environment.”

Why isn’t this like faith?

It’s a quote from an interesting article reported on by the British Psychological Association discussing how events of uncertainty further entrench many of our preexisting notions. When confronted with uncertainty we hold even more closely to our established dogmas and prejudices. The interesting part of the study is that they found this applies to both faith and non-faith (religious vs secular) groups. No matter what our belief, it seems we double down on what we already have certainty with, often to the demise of not just new ideas but new people’s as well.

I think it’s fascinating that both dogmatic believers and nonbelievers operate much the same way; that there’s a concerted effort on behalf of both to ‘stick to your guns’ in the face of impending or potential change. I’ve often thought the devotedly religious to be somewhat narrow-minded in terms of change, and for the most part attributed this characteristic to elements of their faith and/or religion …but to find a parallel with the dogmatic atheist reaffirms my own belief that religious and nonreligious persons are at their core more similar than not. Single-mindedness happens at both ends of the spectrum, and appearantly for the same reasons. As the article mentions… “Prejudice is not limited only to religious believers or to those on the political right, but rather, as a response to uncertainty it may also occur among dogmatic atheists and the otherwise politically and socially liberal…” That we behave similarly is human nature.

Our justifications for those behaviours however, is the messy stuff.

You and I

Wow.

Just in case you thought the anti-muslim rhetoric was cordoned off to a more southern part of the continent, it seems the perversions of a local Syrian refugee have made it loud and clear that Alberta can keep pace with the best of the bigots. Soleiman Hajj Soleiman (the refugee in question) has been charged with numerous counts of sexual interference/assault while at West Edmonton Mall’s World Waterpark the other day. What caught my eye wasn’t the fact that an older male groped younger females while frolicking among the waterpark waves (I’m quite certain this happens often ….I’ve worked there. I recall a regular character we affectionately called Merv the Perv who was the subject of numerous complaints over a long period of time…) but that so many holier-than-thou’s have surfaced en masse to bash muslim culture and lay blame on the refugee process as a whole because of this. And all while under the guise of ‘protecting our women from sexual predators’ when the reality is women suffer sexual assaults without the help of Muslim immigrants at far greater frequencies from regular, vanilla-type males such as many of those yelling the loudest now. And we routinely have very little to say about that, let alone even report it.

It’s time we ship these barbaric pricks back to wherever they’ve crawled out from!”
“Since 9/11 – IN THE NAME OF ISLAM (SATAN): 32,774 Attacks, 210,043 Killed, 293,708 Injured that we know of.”
“This was totally predictable. You have to be an idiot like Trudeau not to see this coming.”
“Muslims simply do not belong anywhere in Canada. They should be rounded up and deported back to the Middle East.”
Canadians such as myself will NOT stand for this perverted, sickening behaviour that is sanctioned under the Quran and part of Islamic norms and culture. Trudeau, however, WILL.

The Muslim fear that grips the US has a substantial grasp on our True North as well. We’re just more polite about it. The Quebec incident may have garnered headlines and set precedents in terms of racially motivated shootings here in Canada, but it is only the tip of a larger Muslim/refugee paranoia that exists in many parts of the country. This recent incident by a Syrian refugee (…out of how many thousands who’ve come over lately?) will be hoisted proudly by those who fear change the most. This incident (which would most likely be unreported if it involved a good-looking, 20 something white Canadian male) will help fan the flames on failed immigration policies and regressive Muslim cultures. Sexual assault can be a traumatizing experience for women (predominately ….why do I even have to add this) and its effects can last for years, and for it to become a rallying point for the anti-muslim/anti-immigration groups who themselves harbour the entitled white male responsible for the overwhelming majority of these crimes in the first place…. well, it’s kinda depressing.

No my Southern cousin, we are not so different you and I.

Triceps

Also known as ‘ham hocks‘ to the novice gym-rat, triceps are those wonderful underarm parts that when built, give tone and substance to the entire upper-arm/bicep area. There’s a bunch of different exercises that will target them of course, but one of the basic, under-utilized (as far as from what I observe that is…) movements is something called the barbell-close-grip-bench-press. You’d think it targets the chest because it looks so much like a regular bench press, but by narrowing your grip on the bar and letting your elbows come in and down to your sides, this exercise targets the tricep in a great way by letting you use just a little more weight than usual. It’s not a direct targeting of the tricep like many others, and I think that’s what make it just a little more enjoyable ….especially when you add some weight.

Because it also uses the chest you can get away with those extra pounds too, and if you do it as a finishing exercise for your session, you walk away with a nice arm/upper-body pump. Yea for pumps :)

*disclaimer ….gratuitous nudity*

Oh Trump, you silly willy….

Wow, it sure didn’t take our new Commander in Chief long to stir the pot. Banning immigrants and visa-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries? Well, in hindsight I guess it kinda makes sense. I mean, in order to Make America Great Again don’t you have to go back into the past and dig up those little nuggets that reek of greatness …you know, like when banning the Jews, the Chinese, the Communists and the Gays were all in fashion? Oddly too, the idea that the countries affected happen to be the ones not on the Trump bandwagon (or is that off the wagon …always forget…) kinda smacks of silliness.

Meh, you get what you don’t vote for I guess….

And before we go tooting our own horn about taking your huddled masses etc., maybe we should remember that the silliness down South isn’t that far removed from the silliness up here. Nope, we’re not the distant cousins we think we are, and I can’t help but to believe the bold, unabashed recklessness of the Trumpster embiggens the equally narrow-minded sorts up here. Thanks for that cous.

But on a more happier note, there was a wonderful casino gig on the weekend with the BBJ’s that actually sounded good from the spot where I was standing with my earplugs in lol. I was told it sounded great out front by a few of the listeners, but I think the Pady-cakes and Whitenails are a little tougher to please. It was a relaxing change to not have to worry about set-up/sound as per the usual for this group though, and so getting to just show up and play was kinda refreshing.

Kinda like a soda pop!
*more on that later*


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Bonerama

What’s a Bonerama you say? Well, it’s anytime you put two or more bones together in the pursuit of music. Any music too, bones don’t discriminate. In this instance I recorded a duet from my old V. Cornette Method For Trombone …the one and only method book bestowed upon me by my equally old (and now departed) bone-coach Bob Stroup. It’s from somewhere in the back of the book, and although not the hardest piece it was more than enough to challenge my classical muse. It’s simply marked Allegro – which I think may have taken a bit on the quick side – and that of course helped me to screw it up even more than usual, so yea for that. Having said that however, it is somewhat passable to listen to, and I’ve discovered there’s LOTS of little things you need to pay attention to if you want to make any of this classical stuff sound legit. I don’t sound legit …but in the spirit of most things I do it is, as they say, good enough.

Three cheers for good enough! Hip hip….