Saturday, July 21, 2012


The recent mass killing in Colorado put me in a strange head space yesterday. I was busy at work but it was in the back of my mind throughout the day. It was like static in the background that doesn't always register consciously but is always present, altering my perception in subtle ways.

In contemplating this further my efforts to make sense of this feels at times like an insurmountable act of futility. Perhaps that is the point, as there is no way that it is conceivable to make rational sense of what is essentially an act of pure evil and destruction.

This appeared to be a calculated and systematic effort made for the sole purpose of eradicating life.  On may levels it makes me profoundly worried about some of the narratives out there that give birth to such hopelessness and can create a reality where someone is willing to cash out their humanity and cause such destruction and misery.

I am trying to stay away from the talking heads and sound bites on the 24/7 media cycle that in the name of providing endless content will likely perpetuate the fear and paranoia that naturally occurs after such a tragedy.  It is certainly worthwhile to have public discourse about this, though unfortunately most media outlets seem to pander to the interest driven "experts" eager to apply a simple narrative or explanation for this 

The one certainty for me in the aftermath of this tragedy is my refusal to allow this to make me cynical or to live in fear. I remain defiantly hopeful and will stubbornly stick to the belief that most people are capable of kindness, mercy and acts of selfless love when push comes to shove.  I owe this to my children. As a human being and citizen of this world it is also an obligation worthy of serious consideration.

Please consider joining me in this act of defiance.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Yesterday I meandered through Park & Tilford Gardens, which is a hidden oasis in what might otherwise be considered a typical strip mall. I love that fact that at some point someone decided that in the midst of a place primarily devoted to commerce it was important to create a space to explore lush, fragrant and abundant plant life.

I particularly love this rounded entrance to the Japanese garden area. It reminds me of an entrance to a Hobbit's home. In the midst of this garden it functions as a portal inviting you into another realm, a place to step outside of the frantic pace of life and commerce and soak in a purely sensory and aesthetic experience. You enter a sacred space that forces you to slow down, breath deeply and simply be present, if even for a moment.

There is something wonderful about the idea of a portal, or even a round entrance way.  The circular entrance feels less linear and rational than a common rectangular doorway, and seems more in touch with the circular aspects of nature, such as the changes of the seasons, that have shaped our sense of time and place for untold millennia.

Although perhaps less practical, I wish there were a few more round doorways or portals in everyday life. Perhaps this in some small way this might change our thinking of what it means to transition into a new space. It may infuse even a slight sense of wonder and possibility upon entering into even the most seemingly mundane room or environment.  Whether it be work or play, walking through a portal to get there might even change our imagination and therefore open even more doors.

Are there any portals in your world? Where would you like to see them?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


My lunch time walks in Surrey, BC are a frequently fascinating enterprise. The cardiovascular benefits go without saying, and of course it helps clear my thoughts during the midst of an often hectic work day.

During my mid-day strolls I am always searching for indicators of both the strange and the sublime, and one recent walked produced some particularly intriguing results;

First off, a post apocalyptic battle helmet.  On inspection it appeared to be made from the combination of a work helmet, fencing mask and bull horns.  Great gear for the impending zombie infestation or high speed battle over the last drop of gasoline circa the Road Warrior. You can never be too prepared!

This was particularly intriguing, circular chalk drawings around strategically placed stones, weeds and torn bus tickets.  I was a little worried that this was the early stages of some ritual to open a portal to another dimension that could unleash terror and mayhem if tampered with.

There has to be a story here. This is usually a sign that something isn't going terribly well for somebody somewhere. If only this suitcase could talk!

Ineffectual warning sign.  Good thing I looked down before acting on my impulse to dig by the roadside.

Where the Skytrain ends (literally). Just in case you ever wondered. Made me think of Shel Silverstein's classic "Where The Sidewalk Ends". Perhaps a new book of poems is in order!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The WOW Sound

I am launching a new blog today called  The WOW Sound

It is about my own unabashed and purely subjective response and reaction to the music that takes a hold of me.

I am utterly fascinated by what goes on internally when I immerse myself in the music that I love. There is a rich landscape that I enter at times that I rarely share with others.

This project is about playing with words and ideas and trying to bring some form to what goes on when I engage my imagination with the music that inspires me.  It is a sandbox to play and explore. 

No rating or reviewing albums here, just a place to write and ponder that which has always been a source of endless fascination for me.

I still plan to write in ye olde Westcoast Walker blog from time to time (about those other non-musical areas of life). 

Feeling inspired to say the least!

Friday, January 6, 2012


The world is a strange and increasingly interconnected place.

There were quite a few articles circulating last month speculating on the nature and size of the debris field currently making it's way from Japan over to the western shores of North America in the wake of the cruel earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

Floating shoes, cars, furniture and other assorted representations of an ordered world turned upside down will soon become visible reminders of our own precarious social contract in North America.

It fascinates me that with all our technological prowess we can't accurately track the size and scope of this ever changing mass of debris, and this of course increases our anxiety. We live in a world where we expect precision and anything that falls short of this is problematic.

This is a fitting metaphor for our age. There is at times a sense that we will eventually be impacted by something that happens "over there", though we can't quite pin point this faceless source of dread that is drifting just beyond the horizon.

I would imagine that even after the majority of debris arrives here there will be items washing up for years, or perhaps decades later. I hope that anyone who finds something on the shore does something meaningful with it and pays homage, not only to lives lost, but to our increasingly small and interconnected world.

I think of the debris like a bridge, like the frozen waters of the last ice age that brought continents together. This may force us to throw out our old maps and reconsider where we all stand.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The First Day of the new year is an enigma, a "new beginning" of sorts with all the wonder and awe associated with something novel. He is like a perky younger cousin who sees infinite possibility in everything. He is little annoying at times, but his enthusiam is also endearing and a tad infectious.

The Second Day is a different character of course and is all about getting down to business. Possessed with a steely reserve, Day 2 wants to operationalize all the lofty idealism of the previous day before the calendar gets impossibly full. A useful sort of person to have around.

The Third Day is that evil kind of bastard that will surreptitiously pour salt into the sugar dispenser and ruin your coffee. He wakes you up way too early with all the graceless belligerence of a drill sergeant on a cold damp morning.

He is the smug know-it-all who is far too eager to say "I told you so". The Third Day likes to quote statistics and freely gives unsolicited advice around how the world really works and somehow thinks that labelling oneself as a realist is a positive attribute.

Not a big fan of Day 3, though I will grudgingly acknowledge that it serves a purpose.

How is Day 3 treating you?

Sunday, January 1, 2012


A few things to contemplate at the start of this year (feel free to check back in 365 days to see what fits)
  1. That really good deal someone is offering you to take over their video store franchise might not be such a hot idea.
  2. 13 years into the 21st century & you will still not own a flying car or jet pack this year (though I am less confident that a singular A.I. entity won't come online shortly and begin to enslave humanity)
  3. There will be more sequels.
  4. You might start to feel nostalgic about the seemingly distant pre-Facebook/Twitter era, and in doing so will begin to re-envision a future where you don't always know what everyone else is up to.
  5. Almost every band you have ever loved that hasn't already reunited will do so this year and will likely tour near where you live.
  6. Many more places will be occupied by increasingly larger groups of the disenfranchised.
  7. Rediscovering the art of letter writing & corresponding by post could be considered acts of spiritual discipline to counteract the tyranny of the immediate.
  8. You will make numerous lighthearted references to your ADD related symptoms and forgetfulness, though secretly your increasingly inability to concentrate or attend to one thing at a time will really bother you.
  9. There will continue to be a negative correlation between the decline in the music industry and the breathtaking array of incredible new music being produced.
  10. You will be tempted to head down to Portland, Oregon to re-experience the Gen X dream of counter culture & slackerdom before it's officially "over", (which by some standards was 5 minutes ago).
  11. The array of choice in the digital realm will be even more overwhelming and you may as a result be tempted to retreat further into the familiar
  12. On at least one occasion you will Google "2012" "Mayan Calendar" & "doomsday".

Friday, June 3, 2011


What are the thoughts that drift from our minds as we stare into the horizon? What are the internal messages that drift outward and are carried away by the wind? Often these messages are mixed; hope and despair existing in tandem, inextricably linked and fed by each other.

This duality has often fascinated me and became apparent on an exceptionally windy day during April of 2010 when I had the chance to wander the shores of BC's "Sunshine Coast".

I found a number of small signs mounted on popsicle sticks that had been planted on a short pedestrian causeway leading out to the ocean. Many of the signs were precariously close to being blown away by the powerful wind, from which there was little shelter.

The signs had everything from trite and cliché laden platitudes printed on them, to the wonderful duality of "Anything is Possible/Life is Empty & Meaningless" on one that stood out the most for me.

I liked the idea of these signs being situated on a spit of land looking out towards the sea, as if they were physical manifestations of the type of thoughts or reflections one might have while looking out into the distance and scanning the horizon.

The signs jolted and flickered in the harsh wind, like the torrent of thoughts crossing my mind at the time. It was a wonderful find, and I enjoyed placing the signs in strategic places, hoping perhaps that others might find them as well.

It also helped me reconcile the many conflicting thoughts competing for attention in my own mind, some just as turbulent as the wind swept ocean around me.

What would your signs say?

Monday, May 30, 2011


Today I was mostly non-functional. This may have been due to a number of factors including the grey weather, insufficient sleep this past weekend or the standard bout of general malaise that surfaces from time to time.

Regardless of causation the result is the same; I felt like a malfunctioning droid running on reserve energy. I needed to bypass certain higher brain functions (such as rational thought) in order to conserve energy for essential areas of functioning such as breathing, walking, and the ability to smile and nod during “conversations”.

The iPod mix in the background only helped to contribute to my workplace coma, and somewhere between Radiohead’sLotus Flower” and Animal Collective’s “Did You See The Word’s” I was lost on another plain of reality, drifting to another dimension while my body operated in auto-pilot (maybe not a good day to be listening to ethereal post-rock).

Now that I think about it, Thom York’s lyrics were relevant today;

I will sink and I will disappear
I will slip into the groove and cut me up

Yes, “sink and disappear” works well on day a like this, as I was lost in a void of sorts, a fog of nothingness that I drifted towards as the hypnotic rhythm of the music carried me away.

Today was about creating the illusion of actually being present, which in my books is OK once in a while. Anyone feeding you the “carpe diem” 24/7 line is either trying to sell you something or is functioning in a mythical place where the world doesn’t have the ability to occasionally suck the life out of you and force you to power down for a little while.

Some days are like this and I suppose it is good to ride the wave of nothingness occasionally and let it envelop you in its sweet and empty embrace.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


"The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine. With the tide turning, it leans quietly against the land, almost unflecked by ripples or by foam... we are in the north, and the bright sunshine cannot penetrate the sea" Iris Murdoch - "The Sea, The Sea"

Last weekend I was drawn to the ocean, and my experience is reflected well in these opening lines penned by Iris Murdoch. It had an immediate visceral impact on me as it often does and I was abundantly aware how blessed I am to be living near the sea and to have the privilege of this being a place of solace.

My endless fretting about almost everything is often immediately placated by the natural rhythms of the sea as it unfolds before me. It's as if the movement of the tides match the rhythm of my breathing, creating a sort of sensory integration where breath and sea are one in the same.

I find Murdoch's words resonating, not just because Vancouver has been exceptionally dim and grey these last few months, but by the wonderful notion of the sea being "impenetrable" in some places. This impenetrable sea is unsettling at times, as one's own smallness in the scheme of things becomes apparent, swallowed in the vast undefined mass of the eternally shifting water.

It also bring me comfort though, and it is liberating to have my ego, and sense of self swallowed up for even a moment by something that is so impenetrable, unknowable, yet also familiar. The crashing rhythm of waves and ocean currents is an eternal song, my participation is welcomed though completely unnecessary for it's continuation.

Strangely reassuring for me are these thoughts that drift for a moment over, though never through, the impenetrable water.

(The photo was taken last weekend on a greyish day by the ocean at Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Right now all is calm. Everyone in my house is either plugged into some sort of electronic device or engaged in reading. As a family we decided to take the radical step this afternoon and do "nothing".

Of course "nothing" is a fairly subjective and nebulous construct, and in the common vernacular it usually implies not being "productive". This leads me to wonder of course what is this obsession we have with being productive? How does one establish the barometer for gaging this and what is the measurable criteria that ultimately decides this?

My argument is that being unproductive is actually one of the most productive things you can possibly do; ipso facto the two constructs often cancel each other out. On this basis, if one is experiencing any angst around being unproductive it would be wise to consider the very sensible advice that is written on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy; "DON'T PANIC"

My unproductive slacking thus far as included;

1. Listening to the new Fleet Foxes album
2. Tweeting briefly about the much maligned BC sales tax (HST)
3. Downloading and listening to a few free Kristin Hersh tracks off of Last FM
4. Setting up some viable slacking options for my kids
5. Writing this.

Of course there will be some intermittent interruptions of my slacking today as I fulfill my role as a parent, but I will remain proud in the knowledge that being blissfully unproductive was the central, and perhaps most productive, focus of the day.

What glorious and unproductive pursuits have you engaged in today?

The above photo was taken on BC's (often ironically titled) Sunshine Coast in May 2010 - a great place to wander about in a unproductive fashion

Sunday, May 8, 2011


The Antlers, an indie band worthy of consideration, have recently released a great new song called, "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out". It's the type of song that sneaks up on you and takes a few listens to permeate your consciousness before you appreciate what's going on. I would highly recommend it.

It is inspired by the type of disturbing reoccurring dream that can linger and leave some psychic residue long after the dream itself has ended. I've had the falling teeth dream a few times myself, and the initial dread of this is often quickly followed by the euphoric realization that my pearly whites are all still intact when I wake up.

Obviously, our dreams reflect our deepest anxieties, and undoubtedly losing one's teeth can represent a sense of frailty or having no control over something that is inextricably linked to who we are (and to think I didn't need to read "10,000 Dreams Interpreted" to figure this one out).

Most of my reoccurring dreams have positive associations , including flying freely over my childhood home, various heroic adventures that I revisit, and best of all (I kid you not) carrying around a stack of vinyl in a giant warehouse or shop full of records .

As a child I used to dream a lot about visiting the land of Narnia, as this was an imaginary landscape that had a profound impact on my young mind when I read the books. The only anxiety producing aspect of my Narnia dreams was that within the actual dream I would wake up and always want to fall back asleep so I could get back there.

The reoccurring dreams that are awful for me now are less about my teeth or some physical attribute, and are more about the anxiety related to being separated from or severely misunderstood or maligned by someone I care about deeply. It still amazes me how the emotional aspect of these type of relational dreams can linger long after the actually narrative of the dream is forgotten, leaving a bit of a dream hangover perhaps.

What is the equivalent of your "teeth falling out" dream? Do you dare to dream and tell?

(download "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" by The Antlers)