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Friday, October 26, 2007


Tamtams in Montreal from james on Vimeo.
Every Sunday in Montréal, people gather on the side of Mount Royal to form a massive drum group. The concept is basically that everyone comes together to drum, dance and feel the music in the name of peace and harmony. Last Sunday was the final session for this year given that it's getting a bit too cool to play outdoors. I went down to check it out. It was pretty crazy. There were about 80 people drumming away, with all different types of drums and instruments, and then around the drummers are a whole lot of people dancing (way to describe, James. Really evocative). I have to say I felt very white and private schoolie amongst all these people. You can find out more about it all here.

I took some pretty amateur photos which you can see below... but for better ones go to the site linked above.

Safe to say there are some interesting characters which take part in the Tamtams. There were some obvious veterans of the event. This one 60 year old guy had his own home made beer holder which he sported with pride.
And just if you thought that the drumming circle was a bit passé, a bit further up the hill people were re-enacting medievil battles (something Eric assured me takes place every Sunday as well - So Trent, how was your weekend? - Oh you know Bob, just the usual, defeated Charlemagne and all that. Nothing special.)


Following the shaving of beard episode (see previous post) eric and I headed out with Maximin and girlfriend Aude to see Justice (you may have heard of their song "Dance"), a french group made up of two djs which are apparently the big hit in Paris at the moment (Ooooooh! Bow down all you minions and follow the mighty city of trend!). It was wall to wall doof doof music (a long way from sufjan stevens he said with an air of "it was great, if by great you mean totally lacking in melody, skill or originality". I mean two guys bobbing up and down, acting as if changing urp urp urp urp to burmp burmp burmp burmp is a great achievement, while strobe lights turn them into a mystical source of everything "cool" is so representative of the show vs substance problem with our generation! I couldn't help thinking if you turned the lights on, and turned off the smoke machine, it would have been like watching two nerdy guys, trying to entertain a bunch of adults using only the "look, i got your nose" trick that grandparents do to their four year old grand children. Wow. A little bitter there James? Ok, so maybe I'm a little harsh. Btw, thanks for the ticket Eric. Awesome show : ) The atmosphere was electric ).


The night was homage to the fact that things are a lot more fun when you dress up. We thought we were out there until we arrived and saw the arrange of costumes people had indulged in. Either that or their normal clothes were just wierd. A lot of cool montrealers (montrealites?) were out to be seen. A girl next to me had taped a plastic baby to her chest, a chest which was not very discretely covered I might add (he said in his "in my day..." voice). When I happened to glance at the baby (warranted action I thought), the girl got all, "That's so typical of guys, my eyes are up here!" I had to laugh.

Meet eric, my house mate. We considered forming mid 90s brit pop group after this photo.
The crowd was crazy. Luckily, we managed to get up on the balcony level and thus avoided the crush. What? You don't really care where we stood? OK.
Max, me and Eric. When I say "arrrrgh" you say ....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bearded Mayhem

Friday night was spent in with Eric. We had some time to kill before going to see Justice, a Dj group from France, and somehow we found ourselves making this.

Friday night + Camera + too much law = this from james on Vimeo.

Friday, October 19, 2007

All you need is (to) LOVE (yourself)?: Flipping Political Science the Bird

Following is a recent excerpt from Big John P's monthly column:

"In the midst of this reverie I added another book by Paulo Coelho to my collection. The collection began with The Alchemist which I regard as essential reading (once a year); and there are at least seven other works worthy of attention. This latest publication bears the title The Zahir and is subtitled a Novel of Obsession. I have only read half the book but already that which is on my mind has been addressed and I have been given reason to pause.

Coelho seems to be sharing himself from inside his life as a writer and the details are details about his life. His wife, named Esther in the book, has gone off to be a war correspondent and Coelho is struggling to cope with her absence and her vocational decision. In one of their brief reunions Coelho tries to talk Esther out of her commitment and the following emerges.

"As long as I am in a war zone my life has meaning. I really live, I mean, loving every minute, every second. There’s no room for sadness, doubts, nothing; there’s just a great love of life."
"So, in your opinion, human beings only find life meaningful when they’re at war."
"We are always at war, we are at war with death… and the things that happen in daily life. We need to find a way of channelling all this, of allowing the energy of this pure, absolute love to flow through our bodies and spread around us."

Then Esther goes on to say,
“If everyone is capable of loving his companion without restrictions, unconditionally, then he is manifesting the love of God. If the love of God becomes manifest, he will love his neighbour, he will love himself. If he loves himself then everything returns to its proper place. History changes. History will never change because of politics, or conquests or theories or wars; that’s mere repetition, it’s been going on since the beginning of time. History will only change when we are able to use the energy of love, just as we use the energy of the wind, the sea, the atom.”

Coelho asks, “Do you think we two could save the world?
Esther answers, “I think there are more people out there who think the same way.”
HEY HUMAN! WANNA SEE MORE?: To see a video of Coelho talking about his book and reasons for writing click here

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rencontrez mon colocataire: Eric Demay

My flatmate Eric Demay (see post on Thanksgiving in Ottawa) is a designer/architect/photographer/blogger. He was recently interviewed for an ARTV, an TV channel here in Canada focusing on art, music and culture. It's a cool interview. For the french speakers amongst you, check it out here. (For the english speakers, you will probably understand "on brainstorm ensemble... c'est du back and forth" - Good times!).

Mon colocataire Eric Demay (regardez en-dessous Thanksgiving in Ottawa) est graphiste/architecte/photographe/blogger. Il a été récemment interviewé par ARTV, une chaine de télévision canadienne traitant d'art et de culture. C'est chouette comme interview. Pour le regarder, cliquez ici.

If you think Eric looks cool, it is because he is wearing my jacket! Surely that counts as a screen credit! Somebody please update my IMDB site accordingly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Open questions: Comments welcome!

I'm on a bit of a search for what drives me. I think the simple answer is many things. The more complicated answer is that there are some things that drive me that I'm aware of ie. my skills, my interests, my passions, and others which I'm less likely to admit to, ie. fears, obligations, a feeling of "doing the right thing", expectations.

What is your purpose? What drives you?

Nigerian writer Ben Okri once wrote, "a dream can be the highest point of a life."

I recognise that I am privileged to even have the opportunity to indulge in such self-examination, but does Okri's quote apply to me? Is it unrealistic to think that life should be full of dreamy moments, a forest of "highest points" rather than the odd sporadic tree? Do we as people have to accept that life and dreams are two parallel lines that never intersect? Is life about finding that point of intersection where dream becomes reality, or is it only about "the striving" for it? Do we have a right to reality full of attainable dreams?

I feel like working at Ronnie Johns was a bit of a "dream". Ok, it was not wholly fulfilling, but it gave me a taste of what life is like when you live your dreams every day rather than keep them at a distance, as an observable future goal, a goal that you strive after but one which you inherently understand to be unattainable.

I'm interested in what drives you.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide in Montreal

A Genocide Conference is currently taking place in Montreal, having been organised by the McGill Law Faculty. It has drawn together some of the foremost experts and minds in International Criminal Law from all over the world to try and tackle the issue of how Genocide can be prevented. How do we stop "Never again" becoming "Ever again"? (A cute turn of phrase that doesn't really make sense.)

I encourage you to look at the website of the conference. It is available in Francais or English.

I attended the opening ceremony last night, which featured four temoinages by four genocide survivors (holocaust - jewish, holocaust - gypsie, cambodian killing fields, Rwandan genocide). The temoinages were very moving for different reasons. Some were obviously still dealing with the pain for on a daily basis, whilst others were able to move past anger and to talk about why genocide happened. The cambodian survivor, Youk Chhang, was particularly moving, talking about the process of moving from anger to wanting to constructively do something about preventing genocide. He talked about the liberation that comes with no longer defining his personal identity through genocide. He finished by saying, "Now, I don't want to be known as a genocide survivor. Please call me Youk Chhang."

The ceremony also featured a panal of respondants including General Romeo Delaire. The General spoke very briefly and succintly about the crux of the prevention dilemma. He asked simply, what is that special formula that we (those trying to justify international action/intervention) can emply in order to convince government leaders to have the courage to rise above domestic reelection, public opinion and to act in the interests of the planet, in the interests of humanity.

This for me is the crux of international criminal law's modern challenge. There can be benevolent international government intent, and pretty slogans of "never again", and a functioning international legal apparatus, but if governments are not willing to implement available strategies provided by international law, then what effective practical impact can international law have in preventing genocide?

Clarke and Dawe: Quizzing Joe Blow

I've posted sketches from these guys before... Although the performances in this one are not as sharp as they usually are, the content is pretty biting. Check it out here!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ottawa - Thanksgiving

Well, it was thanksgiving at the weekend and I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with my flatmate Eric in Chelsea, a suburb just outside Ottawa, to spend Thanksgiving with his family. It was a really relaxing weekend, a large amount of time spent in Eric's spa.

Here are a few random shots from the weekend. Me, Anna (Eric's Sister), Daniel (Eric's brother), Gabrielle, Eric (my flatmate - top bloke), Laura (Eric's sister). The guy taking photo obviously hadn't used a zoom since 1968.
Eric in fade
Panorama of Ottawa
Spider installation and Ottawa Cathedral
Eric and I (if you have seen Devil's Hill you will notice Eric's remarkable likeness to Badge)
Parliament tower
Canadian Parliament
Danial, Laura, Anna, Gabrielle in fade
Canadian memorial to peace-keeping missions

Ottawa cathedral
Eric and his sister Anna

Canadian Wall commemorating service of Canadian forces in peace-keeping missions: Sudan

Autumn arrival: Flame red

Autumn leaves in Ottawa, Canada.

It can be hard being a statue

Photo taken just outside the Canadian Parliament House, Ottawa, Canada.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

France beat New Zealand... Seriously.

Well, a couple of hours after posting my last post... life just got a whole lot stranger...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Wallabies Lose

Australia were sent packing from the 2007 Rugby World Cup after losing to England 12-10 this morning in Marseille.

Never have so many played so badly for so long.

It was heart breaking to see Stephen Larkham in tears at the end of the match, knowing that he would never again play for Australia, and that Australia's world cup loss in 2003 had gone unavenged for another four years.

Darker pages in Wallaby history? There are a few, but there's nothing like losing to the Poms. 200 years after England emptied its prisons by sending the dregs of its society to the end of the earth, Australians still hold a special place in their heart for seeing English people lose at sport. It's safe to say that the feeling is reciprocated. (see "World Cup loss 2003", and "Ashes loss 2005", as well as "how to bestow knighthood upon every player in a sporting team")

If you are not Australian, or English, or in to rugby, I can't really explain the shame associated with losing this morning. Not that England didn't deserve to win. In all honesty they were totally the better side.

But, it's just the thought that for the next four years, any English git I meet, will look at me, smile knowingly, flashing a set of gawky geezer teeth and a bad haircut, and say "Those Wallabies didn't go to well in the World Cup did they?"... and I will have to laugh along to keep the vibe of the conversation rolling and prevent myself from getting irrationally patriotic ("Yeah, well thanks for all the help you guys gave us in the Dardanelles! Why don't you just send another 20,000 colonial soldiers to their death!!! What?! That doesn't even make sense?! It's not even historically accurate. Ah who cares, I hate people... and stuff.).

Anyway. At least I will now be able to watch New Zealand play rugby the way it should be played without that tinge of oxymorinic foresight that makes you think, "They play the game so beautifully, I just wish that didn't have to play it so beautifully against us!"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Shaking hands with the devil

Romeo Dallaire was the Canadian General in charge of UNAMIR, the United Nations peacekeeping force that was present in Rwanda during the genocide that broke out in Kigali in 1994. The mission was disastrously ill-equiped, under-manned, and was caught without an appropriate UN mandate to enable them to actively prevent the massacre of Tutsi civilians.

Blaming himself for the failure of the mission, after leaving Rwanda, Dallaire began to spiral into a depression, which culminated in his being rushed to hospital after being found under a park bench in Hull, Quebec. He was intoxicated and suffering from the reaction of alcohol and his prescription anti-depressants, the mixture of which almost put him into a coma. The story gained national headlines and sparked a fierce debate over the rules of engagement forced upon UN peacekeepers.

He subsequently wrote a book about his experiences in Rwanda called, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. It has recently been turned into a film.

To see the trailer go here

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

78 Saab come out with their new album

Remember the first time you realised that your parents weren't all-knowing prophets, that they weren't unquestionable gods of reason and responsibility? How did we re-align our belief-systems the day we realised that Andrew Johns was just an ordinary guy from the coast who was just as good popping pills as he was at kicking drills? And what about the legendary "funny John" from Playschool doing the tutti frutti? Why, when I recently revisited that Playschool episode as a 24 year-old, was I so disappointed to see how out of tune he was, and how Jemima wasn't really an adventurous dame sailing the high seas as I remembered, but a floppy coffee-stained doll with black wool drooping from its head, being manoeuvred about in a ship made out of an ice cream container and old toilet rolls?

What do we do when our heroes let us down?


Well, after two albums of pure magic, after stumbling across them as a pizza-faced 18 year old in Sydney's mythic Hopetoun Hotel, 78 Saab -aka: The SAAB, with their new album "The Bells Line", may have managed to disappoint me.

After the first initial listens, I feel like a man who has unwittingly stumbled across Audrey Tautou doing coke off a grimy toilet seat at Sydney City RSL. "No! You're Amélie! You don't need that! You enjoy life's simple pleasures! Like dipping your hand in a bag of seeds, piercing the crust of crème brûlée with the tip of a spoon, and skimming stones on Canal St Martin under the rain! Say it ain't so Aude-dog!"

Ben Nash, the lead singer, once said when describing the way he writes songs that he wanted to make people stop for three and a half minutes, take some time out of their hectic lives and just sit back, listen, smile and appreciate. Well, to me, whereas Cross Lines, their last amazingly multi-layered effort, only got better and better with each listen, this album wears out after only a few. The songs are simple without being catchy, and some of the lyrics quite frankly seem a little lazy. Compared with the tracks "Lean on In", "One of These days" and "Messed Up", which seem to have that mystic Saabish juxtaposition of mournful jubilation, of yearning for something just out of reach, the rest of the album seems totally attainable, a little too descriptive.

The beauty of the Saab is their ability to take you to another world. They can make you connect with feelings you know you always had but couldn't explain. They were those crème brulée cracking moments. They could take the ordinary and make it spectacular. Unfortunately, I feel like with this album, they took the ordinary and turned it into banal. Whereas I wanted to skim stones, they took me studying law textbooks.

Anyway, every "Frontline" has their "funky squad".

Sometimes I guess I wish I could just look at Jemima's boat and see past the toilet rolls again.