Diary Entry: 19TH CENTURY FARTS! Diary entry: SHMUCKY! Diary entry: PUS! HOODWINKED BY A HACK!
All contents © 2000-2002, Rick Trembles
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION STRICTLY FORBIDDEN
February 27, 2002
Diary Entry: 19TH CENTURY FARTS
Last Thursday I went to a big comic book launch at Sala Rosa. It was the 10 year anniversary of L'Oie de Cravan & they were celebrating by releasing Simon Bosse's Intestine, Julie Doucet's Melek, & Jeff Ladoucer's Ebola. Three very pretty books at about 12 bucks each. I couldn't afford it. Ebola appealed to me most, it's a collection of strange, beautifully rendered rubber-hose-animation style mutant critters. Julie's collection of mixed media portraits seemed a little sparse on first impressions. Simon's was the most traditional "comic" of the bunch, I'll try & pick these up if I can ever get some spare scratch. I couldn't believe how packed the place was. Couldn't even budge at one point, kept getting stuck in traffic. Crunchy Comix's Jamie Saloman & me were trying to figure out why exactly that was. I guess the fact it was free admission helped. He thought maybe it's just that Montreal's French comix scene is bigger than the English. Also, Julie Doucet's probably a good draw, she was signing copies. Maybe it's the whole Cheval Blanc crowd (Simon Bosse works at that bar). Jamie bought me a beer & I talked to Jacques Boivin a bit (of Melody comix). He was wondering how come I don't have a book out of all my Motion Picture Purgatories yet. I told him I also often wonder why that is. Nobody's ever approached me. I figure cult & trash movies just probably aren't such a big deal to Montrealers. Most books on that topic come out of the States. Also, my movie strips are often so text-heavy (& in English) that they don't even qualify as comix anymore. It's a hybrid movie-column/comic-strip where the humor often gets pretty personal & regional. It's hard to sell the idea in words, hard to visualize. So I figure I should make some photocopy mockups that look as faithful to a final envisioned product as possible & just show that around. Told him I've got about 200 pages ready to go. Melissa introduced herself to me & said she puts out a comix anthology called Ketchup & asked if I wanted to be in it. She's taking some animation classes at Concordia & said her film history teacher has one of my Purgatories reprinted (Fantasia 2000) in the requisite course book each student has to buy. Well, what do you know. My shit's being taught to university students. Then I had to leave abruptly before I turned into a pumpkin because I can't afford to cab back from the goddamn Plateau. Can't wait 'til the snow's gone so I can get my bike back out. I'm so sick of having to catch the last metro home all the time back to sleepy St-Henri. The price is right but there's dick-all to do in this 'hood.
Monday, Chris Burns' band Crackpot brought me their photo scrapbooks to work on CD art for an upcoming self-titled 12 song release recently recorded at Hotel 2 Tango. Pretty slick production. It rocks out. They insisted on bright in-your-face yellow just like on the first B52's record for the cover with themselves in the foreground. The inside cover's gonna have a 19th century illustration of a guy farting out musical notes.
February 21, 2002
Diary entry: SHMUCKY
Took a full week for the volcanic crust to stop peeing down my scalp (see last week). Friday I went to the invitation-only 20th anniversary of Les Rendez-Vous Du Cinéma Québécois opening night party. My work's in 2 films playing the festival this year. I was lead actor & provided animation for experimental film "Resolving Power" & animation for documentary "S.P.I.T.: Squeegee Punks In Traffic." It started off at The Imperial with some awards & a screening of a new NFB doc on the "Godard of Quebec," the late Gilles Groulx. I liked it, but sitting still for a couple of hours with an itchy scalp was sheer torture. I kept fidgeting & caressing my head trying to avoid digging in with my nails triggering pus. Man, did I need a well deserved drink after all that squirming. But what we were expecting to be an open bar at the Cinematheque was just free glasses of bad wine & it took them forever to start distributing. I was surly for a good 20 minutes because the bar prices weren't cheap (2 bucks for a glass of water!), but finally a few familiar faces started piling in & I managed to mooch enough beers to cop a cozy buzz. I couldn't put my finger on where I'd seen Groulx's longtime companion/actress Barbara Ulrich before (awarded a celebratory cake after the screening) until someone reminded me she'd worked on punk doc "From Here To Nowhere" with Uncle Costa of Blood Sausage back in the mid-nineties. She video-interviewed me at Gallery Clark in front of my God's Cocksuckers exhibition about "the local scene." It didn't go so great. Here's an excerpt:
BARBARA: "Yeah, but you know, you said that you sit down to write a song that's never been heard before & then I just sort of flashed onto the whole, you know, Nirvana/Kurt Cobain phenomenon as an example of what alternative or grunge music is & then that sort of became the standard. Do you find that there's a lot of influence of music magazines on what's hot & what's not & then the audience is going here... you're sort of influenced by it, "wow, we gotta look for this sound, we gotta look for this lyric," & find that there's always guidance, you know, somewhere someone's telling people what to listen to & what not to listen to, so that even with younger people, 13 on, they're always looking for sort of icons, you know? You think that's true or it's just something conjured up or do you think that really exists, you know?"
RICK: "Well, I don't know, Nirvana, they defined a certain kind of sound. I thought with Nirvana being so huge it'd make it easier for bands like ours to get out there, for people to plunk money into us but it hasn't happened. I don't know, maybe because we don't sound like that grunge sound or something, but Nirvana used to get very different sounding bands to open up for them. I went & saw them at the Verdun Auditorium & this band called The Boredoms opened up & they were being booed by the audience. They're a noise band. They do noise for noise sake, kind of improvisational. So Nirvana's trying to push some different stuff, what I imagine they like..."
I guess the point I was trying to make was that Nirvana's audiences were stupid. I have no idea what was the point she was trying to make. Wonder whatever became of that doc? Apparently she's got a role in Karim (Subconscious Cruelty) Hussain's next movie.
Fuck, what's left of The American Devices has been rehearsing for months trying to get our "unplugged" set ready to record. No vocals, no drums, just our busiest riffers. Marc Montanchez, formerly of now defunct local kick-ass band Steak 72, thought it'd be fun to record us acoustically after hearing we'd done an electricity-free set for my Motion Picture Purgatory vernisage at Gallerie Fokus over the summer. It sounds really good with Andre Asselin playing stand-up bass with a bow. But prepping's been dragging on forever since everybody's been so busy with other projects canceling jams here & there so I finally put my foot down & booked a time to get this overwith. Last practice, Chris (Crackpot) Burns made a rare appearance to assess what he'd need to polish off on his contributions but came to the conclusion that we weren't doing anything different enough to the songs for him to get excited over. But there isn't enough time to elaborate on the arrangements & I'm not gonna let this drag on any longer so unfortunately he's gonna be a no-show. I just wanna record the shit as is, raw & ultra-clean for a change to see how it sounds other than overproduced & cluttered like the majority of our recordings. We never intended to rewrite the goddamn tunes. Chris said that playing the old tunes made him crave volume & doing it as a full band more than anything else & I agreed. I miss making noise. I wanna put together another (electric) Devices show for spring or early summer. But we HAVE to write new tunes for it & it takes us so fucken long to complete a song.
"For a little while, hope made a show of reviving -not with any reason to back it, but only because it is its nature to revive when the spring has not been taken out of it by age & familiarity with failure"
Jesus Christ, now I'm quoting Mark Twain. Almost done reading Tom Sawyer. Not as intense as Huck Finn but still fun. Jammed on crappy cardboard drums with cartoonist Eric Braun & Martin the other night. Singer Braun wants to put together a covers garage band to do live shows at comix events. We butchered The Beatles, Johnny Cash, The Animals, Tommy Roe, 13th Floor Elevators among others. He wants to call it The Necrophiles because we're exhuming old tunes but I'm not nuts about that title, it's too badass generic. I suggested Bovine University (from a Simpson's gag) because he told me they were aiming for a country flavor but it didn't catch on. Oh, well. It's good to get out of the house. I'm bored. Anybody out there wanna start a fucked up band with me? I wanna do a cross between Captain Beefheart, Pussy Galore & US Maple. All originals.
February 14, 2002
Diary entry: PUS
Happy Frankenstein's Day. I mean crappy Valentine's Day. This week I read Huckleberry Finn for the first time. What a page turner. Cartoonist Peter Bagge recently got in hot water over using the "n" word in an online interview (in reference to how he thinks The Rolling Stones were nothing but wannabes), spawning lively debates at the Comics Journal & Comicon message boards where someone brought up how Huck Finn, as racist as it seems, was actually anti-racist for its time so I got curious. Nik was over the other night for videos. After shootin' the shit we watched The Defilers (1965), directed by exploitation pioneer David F. Friedman (seek out his incredible autobiography, A Youth In Babylon). Just for kicks, a sadistic brat gratuitously captures, rapes & tortures a naïve blonde bombshell fresh off the bus trying to make it big in Hollywood. One of the first "roughies," a clunky zero-budgeter. Takes place in a dingy basement. Creepy. I drank more beer, dug up an old roach & copped a buzz for our next rental, Head (1968), starring The Monkees. Masterpiece. Goofy LSD slapstick intercut with Vietnam atrocities snuff footage. Sorta like if Brittany Spears today were to make an Ecstasy drug flick with actual footage of Talibans slicing infidels' throats in the desert. Nik fell asleep so I told her she could use my bed, I'd sleep on the couch instead. Passed out watching vintage Betty Boops. I love that one where Louis Armstrong sings: "You gave my wife a bottle o' Coca-Cola, just so you could play on her VAY-JOLA," (from "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You"). Wish I had a vay-jola. The next day, over bacon & eggs at Restaurant Greene, I complained how I feel like an old fart since turning forty with my salt & pepper hairdo. So Nik insisted on dying my hair jet black but I was worried I'd pus for days. I used to have a Kramer hairdo that I'd dye white Bride Of Frankenstein streaks into to hide my graying temples (before that guy from The Toilet Boys was doing it). But last time my scalp pussed so bad that thick, pale yellow goop oozed down my face for days. I even did a live show with my band, pus dripping down my forehead. She told me this dye in particular was milder than most & shouldn't be a problem. So my hair's deep black now & my scalp itches like hell but I ain't scratching. I don't wanna trigger no pus factory. Gosh, I feel so young. All I need now is a facelift & a tummy-tuck. Oh yeah & a million bucks. My teeth hurt.
Hey, wait a minute... that better be a sweat droplet trailing down my forehead. Oh no! Aaaaaaargh!
Pus. My scalp was ok 'til nightfall when the dryness & itchiness set in. The eye-patches I wear to shut out light when I sleep into the day were peculiarly tight around my head. Next day my scalp was itchy as fuck like bad exema & I couldn't help scratching, which triggered a touch of moisture. Uh oh. A hot shower (without washing my hair) helped distract me, stimulating skin other than my head. It made my scalp less itchy but the pus slowly started dripping down my forehead. I began going through tissue paper as if I had a cold to wipe the snots off my head. I realized I'd have no choice but to just wait this misery out a couple of days like when you realize you have a cold coming on. Dabbing all areas of my scalp, the tissue came out translucent yellow-gray & kind of thick (no blood, thank fuck). The gray must've been from the black dye mixing in with pus. The next night I had to sleep with my head over a towel to protect my pillow. Woke up squirming several times to put my head on another section of towel because it got wet with pus. Towel was gray/black & soaked the next morning. Hot shower over my hair felt exquisite. I kept turning up the water 'til near-scalding, figuring it's the closest I'll get to scratching without having to dig my nails & agitate the wounds further. Felt great fresh out of the shower until my hair eventually dried sticky from pus again. As the day wore on, the pus dried the outer edges of the strands of my hair, hardening them kind of crystallized. The back of my neck felt tight whenever I moved my head because of the skin turning crusty. The towel I slept my head on dried hard as plastic where the pus was. The sides of my neck swelled slightly & hurt whenever I pressed down. Did I get toxic poisoning too? Now I know why my eye-patch felt tight; my scalp was swelling infected. My glasses lens started getting dried crystal dust residue on them from off the top of my head & some got in my eyes making them itch terribly. It felt like sand in my eyeballs & blurred my vision. I'd rub my eyes but it wouldn't go away until I waited for the pus crystals to melt in my tearducts. Every crusty dryness cycle was my cue for another hot shower to scald & melt the clumps back off my scalp. I wondered if I was just making things worse this way preventing the wounds from healing but I couldn't live with that itchy crystal dust. Had to shower about every 4 hours. Balled-up wads of grayed tissue paper strewn everywhere. Every time I'd dab my head to stop the drips I'd curse out loud how disgusting & gross it was. It's as if I was constantly sweating pus from little crusty, crystalline, volcanic sores. Kept flushing my eyes out with cold water to relieve the itching. There wasn't any odor to it although I wouldn't wanna wait a few days without washing my hair to find out otherwise. I'm glad I didn't have to get out for a couple of days, my toque would've gotten stained with pus crust & glued to my head. Funny thing is, you couldn't tell from looking at me. Looking in the mirror, my head just seemed constantly wet, flattening out my hair, & the flesh around my hairline was a little raw, bumpy & dark pink. Hope I don't get skin cancer from this. Oh, but my hair's so nice & deep black now. Never. Never again. Never for the rest of my fucken life.
February 7, 2002
HOODWINKED BY A HACK! (Pictured below: Ad in The Gazette's TV Times referring to money I received to make a film about my asshole, Nov. 8, 1997)
There's gonna be some slight changes to Snubdomizer's Weekly Blather. Starting after this week's installment I'm going to be posting much slimmer texts & they'll be more casual & off-the-cuff than the kind of reviews & essays I've been providing so far. My color Motion Picture Purgatories won't be affected in any way, I'll keep announcing every new movie review I put up weekly to subscribers of my Snubdomizer email update notifications. But these notices'll no longer be accompanied by Blather announcements unless it strikes my fancy, that is unless I happen to stumble upon something I really wanna plug for that week. I'll instead be mostly submitting short weekly diary entries yammering about however my week was. It's appropriate that this week's rant refers to a project I've been working on for the last 5 years because this project is the major reason I have to slack off on Blather for a bit. A while back I received some bucks to turn one of my self-published comix ("How Did I Get So Anal," from Sugar Diet #2) into an animated film ("Goopy Spasms") & had a fuck of a time over the years trying to adapt drawings calculated to be used for old school cel-animation into digital (my original proposal employed methods I was schooled in that digital tech practically turned obsolete by the time I was immersed). After dropping the ball on & off, I'm finally confident enough now with the tools at my disposal to crack this long overdue project so I'm diving right in 'til I'm done.
HOODWINKED BY A HACK
I just received a Canada Council grant to make an ambitious 20 min. live-action/animation/interaction film about my asshole. Hearing this news made my summer, cuz I was living on 100 bucks a month welfare after my rent was paid, & pretty sick of eating rice & beans every day. Recently, CBC Newswatch was looking for people to interview for a piece on grants given to weird projects.
I prepared for the interview with some of my less explicit work, figuring anything other than that could never air. I thought I'd show them how I go about constructing comic strips from rough sketches to final art & the endless steps it takes to turn that into animation. When newscaster Jill Oviatt & her cameraman settled into my bedroom/studio to shoot, I asked that the amount of my grant not be announced. I was worried that it might affect my bargaining capabilities somewhere down the line if everyone knew how much I was worth. The cameraman smiled & tried to reassure me the amount I got wasn't enough to be taken advantage of. We agreed to discuss it further after the interview. This never happened, so they blabbed just as they'd planned.
I was filmed for a long time pretending I was animating, but Oviatt wasn't interested in how-to demonstrations. She wanted to discuss the particular project being financed. I showed samples, explaining that I didn't know how much of it they could use on TV cuz it's so dirty. They filmed whatever they could to edit later. When she asked me what I'd tell people who thought my money could've been better spent on hospitals & such, I thought to myself; "Oh no... it's gonna be one of these." I should've kicked them out right then & there, but all I could answer was that some people consider my work therapeutic. She asked what I might say to accusations of pornography. I said my work was too personal, raw, & didn't have the gloss, (the word "raw" became the selling point of the piece when they put together their ad to preview the show). I explained that part of the appeal of my project to the COUNCIL must've been its experimental nature because I'm reproducing a slide-show derived from a comic strip onto 16MM film. The result will be a comic, within a slide-show, within a film, narrated by an on-screen lecturer (me) who'll occasionally interact w/the (animated) slide-projected images. None of this made it into the final coverage.
I got cold feet the next day, especially about my hospital quip, so I mailed Oviatt a sob story explaining how I'd been pursuing my artistic inclinations way below the poverty line for too long & this grant is the most I've ever been paid for my work, which'll barely cover the costs of making my film, not counting living expenses. I admitted that the haphazard way in which I presented portions of my project might be taken out of context so I enclosed copies of the exact comic that my film's based on, the original grant proposal, & an academic text citing my work (later published in Duke University Press's Queer Diasporas) so she could get the full picture. I asked that she give me a call to reassure me that her piece wouldn't be taking on an alarmist tone, otherwise, I'd have to request that my portion of the segment withdrawn.
Predictably, I didn't hear from Oviatt for a week, so I called her producer. She said they got my pack, murmured something about the public having a right to know, & that the segment's so brief it'll whiz by in a flash (how reassuring). I told her I want to hear from Oviatt before it airs. She said she'd reach me once they're done editing. She never even attempted to, so I phoned the day before showtime. Oviatt commended everyone's honesty & said that when they interviewed the Council, they gave them plenty of time to study the work in question beforehand, so it was all fair & square. I said I wasn't qualified to comment on hospital budgets. They weren't using the hospital bit. Feeling like there was nothing more I could do, I told her I was looking forward to it. How bad can it be? I was more curious than worried as to how my asshole would be portrayed on the boob tube.
I watched in giddy disbelief over & over as they pumped sensational ads on TV all evening long featuring shots of me at my drawing table, with a voice-over warning: "You may not like it, but your tax dollars are paying for it... Creative funding! Tomorrow on Newswatch!" Oh well, they gotta sucker 'em in somehow. Upon seeing Oviatt's severe mug introduce her baby the next night, I knew I was in trouble. Eyebrows frozen raised throughout most of it, she seemed hard pressed containing a sneer as she mouthed off stats & budgets. Despite telling her that nothing short of reading its dialogue verbatim would do it justice, Oviatt had insisted on a summary of my story. At a loss for words, I summed up my life's work as "the sexual history of a character from masturbation on," then sort of snickered & shrugged, "that's about it." What I thought would be an out-take ended up being my official introduction. This seemingly flippant, noncommittal gesture provided them with a perfect tie-in to introduce the next recipient, whose experiments at "pulling apart words & putting them back together" conveniently came across as gibberish. The Council representative who was asked about my work seemed taken off guard & described it as "pretty slurpy." Presentation of each artist was deliberately edited to emphasize the most difficult or awkward moments. For someone who enjoys complete control over every aspect of their work, this was a nightmare. It felt like I'd done a disservice to anyone who might have a peculiar project to submit. Before this I'd been telling everyone I knew that if I could get a grant, so can they. I felt proud to be able to thumb my nose at everyone ever convinced my work would never amount to anything.
After seeing the piece, a friend cynically told me I may as well forget further funding following this fiasco. Others told me not to worry because no publicity is bad publicity. Another said I shouldn't have been lumped in with pretentious artists. If this was the States I might've had a pack of entertainment lawyers knocking down my door hungry to help me sue Newswatch for misrepresentation or something. But if this was the States, I would've never gotten a grant to make a movie about my asshole. Viewers were asked to call in with comments to be aired the next night. Besides predictable outrage, one caller pegged it, claiming the report "smacked of the far-right's attempts to ridicule funding of the arts."
Watching my copy of the report, I snicker & bask one minute & feel exquisitely screwed the next. Now that the joke's over, it's time to hole myself up for the winter, complete this fucker of a movie, & hope the results can stir way heaps more shit upon its release.
Rick Trembles, November 15, 1997 (Originally published in Fishpiss #4)