Tag Archives: music

The Benevolent Stranger

Dropped by the store of the same name today, and it got me thinking….

The idea of a benevolent stranger is a compelling one – all the more so for how rare it is these days. The perception of strangers in this media-hyped era of terrorists and school shooters, disappearing kids, abused elders, and the powerful wantonly abusing said power with no attempt at subterfuge, is of someone to be wary of, to keep at a distance – an unknown quantity, capable of anything, at any time. The erroneous assumption that if someone looks and sounds like me they’re safe, while the “other” is something to be feared, makes things far worse. Because as any sane person knows, there’s zero connection between skin colour, language, accent, number of tattoos or place of birth that dictates how a person will act in any given moment.

We are all galaxies and worlds and universes on the inside, the uncountable parts comprising a whole unique in all of time and space. Opaque, to all we’ve not yet met. Which is why universal connectors like art, music, and stories are not frivolous, pointless exercises, but absolutely vital to our understanding of ourselves, and our ability to connect to that idea of “otherness” – not as a frightening, potentially deadly antagonist, but as a benevolent stranger. Something to approach with a due amount of reasonable caution, perhaps, but with mind and heart open to the idea that, at their core, each stranger is more like us than they are unlike us.

We are all human beings on the one and only habitable planet in a solar system much larger than any of us can really grasp, in an unimaginably vast galaxy, with lots and lots of empty space in between. There is only so much room on this crowded Earth, and we can only push each other so far away.

So play a tune, paint a picture, put on a cheesy low-budget community play, teach someone something new, give something away for free – even if it’s just a smile. It might just help tip the balance to bringing us back together again.

– T.H.

(Written Mon. Jan. 26, 2015, at Black Honey on Hunter St.)

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Filed under Articles & Opinions, Musings & Miscellany, Prose

Allergic to Water

These past few days I’ve been rediscovering the timeless singularity that is Ani DiFranco through the unexpected doorway of her newest album, Allergic to Water. The new tunes led me back to the venerable canon of the 1990’s and I’ve been weaving a path between the two. Listening to the songs that existed on the periphery of my university years through the simultaneously broader and narrower perspective of adulthood has been an interesting experience, to say the least.

The first song below is the title track to the new album. The second one is the classic “Birmingham”, a powerful track from To the Teeth (1999), that to my mind is still relevant today.

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Filed under Musings & Miscellany, Videos & Other Media

7. Immersion

Improvised flower vases
and wrapping paper trees
roots like mountains
seen from the eyes
of circling eagles
at once emerging
and settling, growth
and decay, no more
contrary than rose
petals and thorns,
a discordant symmetry:
the cosmic wail
of distorted electric guitar
spelling out the names
of stars and forgotten
background radiation,
pain that verges on ecstasy,
a ringing of celestial strings
struck with the well-worn pick
of disillusioned immortals;

How a stranger’s
intangible yearning
can translate through
the ephemeral code
of electronic pulses
and magnetic fields,
a fixed point enacted
in the so-called past
becomes immediate
present, time and space
erased in an instant
transformed into a perfect
moment of rebirth,
a dagger in the mind
piercing to the core;
it leaves no trace
of bloody injury, only
a shedding of unnecessary skin,
a lowering of barriers
to permit this temporary
osmosis of the spirit.

– T.H.
(listening to White Hills while walking through a spring-soaked afternoon past low-rent apartment buildings)

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Filed under National Poetry Month 2014

Moving towards light

Sadness is a funny thing.  It has an ebb and flow that’s impossible to predict.  I am finding infinite thanks in one thing that is as predictable as the turning of the earth – there will always be new music out there, somewhere.  The planet may be groaning under the weight of seven billion people, but from that vast cosmos, that universe of minds and souls, will always spring new music, new art.  People will always find new ways to tell their stories, to lay their hearts bare.  One of the things that’s keeping me sane right now.  One of the few addictions in this world that seems to have no down side, except that you can never be truly sated.  But then that’s life, isn’t it.  The moment you stop searching, stop yearning, stop reaching, then all that’s left is stagnancy and static.

Driving home on the day, we saw a young girl smoking, and both of us, independently, could not believe the sheer stupidity of it.  Life is short enough, hard enough, fleeting enough as it is.  How anyone can thoughtlessly risk cutting that thin bright ribbon short on something so utterly pointless, is baffling to me.

I want to devour the world, and I have only this damaged anomaly of a vessel to do it in.  I’ve already wasted a huge amount of these four decades on laters and what-ifs.  I’d be kidding myself if I pretended this will all mean a shining brand new start, a renewed vigour and unswerving dedication to reaching those peaks before the grey sets it.  But I’m going to at least give it a damned good try.  It’s all well and good to say, fuck the world, I’m going to leap into the abyss with eyes wide open, in the surreal dream-zone of the after-dark hours.  Waking to daytime always finds mundane reality has once again taken its stubborn hold, caught you in its dull unrelenting grip.  Finding ways to break free, that’s the tricky part.  But as long as I can close my eyes, and find an infinity of possibility on the inside, maybe the outside might give a little, now and then, leaving a hollow or a crack here and there to squeeze through.

That’s optimism for you – more curse than blessing, but what can you do.  There’s still love in the world, as long as there are lovers in it.  And that’s something.



Filed under Musings & Miscellany