The following is a guestpost written by my friend Julia Caron, one of Said the Gramophone's longest readers, whom I finally met in Québec City last year. All of us at StG would like to send our love to Geneviève Elverum, whose work we have revered for more than a decade.
Ô Paon - "Sainte Patronne de Rien Pantoute".
On Tuesday night, I stayed up late re-reading Geneviève Elverum's Maman Sauvage. I had first read it this winter, after discovering I was unexpectedly pregnant. I was desperately thirsting for words and experiences I could relate to. Where could I find stories of a woman like myself: an adult who often feels ill-equipped to deal with the responsibilities of adulthood, let alone pregnancy. Were there other women out there, pregnant and overwhelmed by the strange and surreal process of carrying a baby in one's body? I had read one patronizing pregnancy "how-to" book too many, and I finally found solace in these poems by Geneviève. I shouldn't have been shocked to find that her poems resonated with me just as deeply as her music had, but I was.
Page after page, I found slivers of myself in her words, in her stories, just as I had in her songs, years prior. Her musical projects, Woelv and Ô Paon, came into my life via a tweet from her partner Phil Elverum in 2014. How has no one told me about her sooner? I thought to myself. I listened slack-jawed, overwhelmed by these songs. Who was this bilingual Québécois woman with droning sounds and unnerving lyrics about the city I live in, and even its south shore which I know so well? Who was this woman who sings of these places in a language that feels like my second skin, avec des notes qui faussent in the most wonderful dissonant way.
It happens, that strange intimacy. The desire to call a stranger by her first name because you have heard her songs, read her books, admired her art. The distorted impression that you might even know this stranger better than you know certain friends - because the stranger has laid their heart bare and shared it with you. Hearing songs that tell you no, you're not the only one who feels that way.
The next morning, I learned of Geneviève's illness. It is heartbreaking to hear of anyone diagnosed with inoperable, stage 4 cancer, let alone if they are a new parent. A new parent who happens to make gorgeous art, but art that doesn't pay the bills in the same way other work can. And it feels yet more visceral, violent, tragic to discover this diagnosis about someone who has sung songs that got you through the shittiest winter days, someone who writes words you feel you could have written yourself.
I read Geneviève's news on a tiny screen in a public place. Tears welled up as I continued past the first few words, absorbing the facts. Geneviève Elverum. 34. New mother. Inoperable. Written by her partner Phil, their plea for financial help alludes to the way they have long kept their private life private, and how "the difficult times ... challenge that bubble." Perhaps these donations from strangers will help protect the beautiful bubble they've chosen to create for themselves and for their family, and will help them continue their dispatches toward our eyes and ears.
I've been thinking about Geneviève and her family as I wander through Québec City, a place she once called home. On her spectacular album Fleuve, she sings about this city caked in ice and dirt and melancholy. These days, it is anything but: it is green and warm and the lilacs are blossoming yet my heart feels heavy with her words and songs in my head. I find myself walking past those lilac bushes, praying to the Sainte Patronne de Rien Pantoute, the Patron Saint of Nothing at All, wishing for the best for this stranger who somehow doesn't seem a stranger.
Love to Geneviève, Phil, Agathe and their cat Manon.
> Donate to help Geneviève Elverum and her family.
> Learn more about Geneviève's work.
> Buy Courses, from which this song is taken.
Julia Caron is a bilingual bundle of contradictions, endlessly enamoured by self-portraits, dip-and-dunk photobooths and confrontational contemporary art. She has called Quebec City home since 2008; it is only appropriate she ended up in one of the oldest cities in North America, given her affection for all things old.
Les Calamités - "Toutes les Nuits"
Television Personalities - "Part Time Punks"
So my bike was stolen in front my place at 2:30AM a couple of days ago. I know the time because I was watching hippos eat watermelons on youtube and I heard the noise. I looked out and there was a guy biking away. By the time, I looked for shorts and put it on, he was already gone. I chased him but I lost him when he turned. Stolen bikes will break your soul. So does your leftover pizza you brought for lunch at work and your co-workers eat it.
A couple of weeks prior to that, when I was coming home from a corner store(we call it dep here in Montreal), I noticed someone was looking at a bike and even touching it. I was at the end of the block and my place is in the middle of the block so I wasn't sure if he was looking at my bike or someone else's bike. I walked to towards it and he saw me and kept walking. That time, I didn't really think of it much since my bike is not super awesome bike that you have to wear spandex shorts with diapers inside with Alien head looking helmets. Its just a single speed bike old frame. I got it from a friend of mine. But I knew I needed to get a better lock for it since I have not so good chain lock thing. I mean it wasn't a thin gold chain necklace like 2Pac would wear. It was more of chain that separates VIP and people in line for a hottest supper club where serves cocktail shrimps with avocados kind of chain. I didn't think anyone would spend time to steal it. Anyway, I thought I was gonna get a better lock one of these days but you know life. I got busy with my work, youtube watching hippos having extreme diarrhea and eating frozen yogurt, I didn't get around to buy it.
Ironically, earlier the night when it was stolen, I was looking bike locks online since I didnt have time to go buy it in person. Maybe Drone can deliver it to my bed like my mom would bring me a cookie and milk.
Since my bike was stolen, I saw my bike in corner of my eyes all the time. I looked on Kijiji and Craigslist frantically. Everyone I see looked like bike thieves even my corner store owners. I couldn't trust anyone.
Last night, I was walking on the street close to my house, I saw a guy who looks like high school kid riding my bike slowly passed me. I knew it was my bike since its old British brand named Hercules and handle bars had no grips, I installed the front brake housing but hadn't had a chance to add cables for brakes.(its coaster brakes) He was riding slowly passing me by so I could observe it closely. Apparently Darwin observed creatures on Galapagos Islands and got Evolution theory. Newton observed the apple fall from the tree and there was Gravity. I saw a punk biking by and saw a thief. I fucking love science!
I didn't yell or chase him at that moment because I knew he could bike away so I creeped up to him like vital video, Ninja Cat. But he sped up little bit even though he didnt see me. So I had to yell with very manly voice, "Hey! That's my bike!" In my head, it sounded like UFC champion but I probably sounded like Teletubbies or Pingu.
He turned around and said, "oh shit!" and he started biking faster. This moment, I was holding my vape really tight in my hand with the vape juice flavour called, "Justice" and I ran. Like my high school track and field coach, Mr. Brown told me to. "swing your arms, your knees will go higher." I ran like Ben Johnson in 1998 Olympics, I could feel adrenaline giving me extra energy but it faded away in 2 seconds. I'm out of shape. I wished I drank just Soylent and not eating ice cream for breakfast, new york cheesecake for lunch, a bag of Chicago mix(caramel and salty popcorn mix) for dinner on my bed, with Ipad watching dumb Japanese shows where comedians put diapers and put coca cola inside diapers. In short, I was out of shape.
Then, there was a cop van driving by. Even before I waved, the Cop van turned around, his tires squeaking. Mind you Montreal Cop van is size of soccer mom van so it was squeaking hard and almost tipping. So this point, Im running and police soccer dad in a van driving like jehu, chasing this kid. He turned into back alley and that point, the corner was too tight for the speed he was going for. I could hear, "whaaaaaaaa" in Mario Kart and spinning. He dropped my bike there. Now the kid is running away and the Soccer dad is chasing him.
(Following is all in my head. Didn't actually happen)
I'm with my bike life less. I held my bike tightly and told him/her, "I will never let you go! I love you!" and that moment, I could hear my bike's weak but steady heartbeat so I did first aid, mouth to mouth, and CPR.
"Come back to life!" "I need you!" I yelled.
I'm sure my bike almost went Bike Heaven where all the bikes are free from abusive bike owners. All the single speed, fixie, hydbred, racer, cruiser, BMX, mountain bike and even those kind of bikes that members of LEN riding on the song, "Steal My Sunshine" videos are running around freely together without any judgements from people.
(back to reality)
So I grabbed my bike and cop dad came back. I told him and he told me he didn't find the kid. To be honest, this point, I got my bike so I was happy. That kid probably learned the lesson and he will straighten up hopefully. But cop Dad told me, he called back-ups.
I saw three more cops cars show up.
This point, I was surprised they spend that much energy into little punk. It looked like OJ Simpson car chase now. He said I go home so I came home and tucked my precious bike into bed and whispered into him/her, "I love you." Once, someone told me "you won't realize how precious the life is til you lose it." Its true, how great to have normal life.
I just laid beside my bike and stroked his/her hair til he/she fell asleep.
The story continues. After 30mins or so, I see flashlights thru the window, someone coming up the stairs to my place. I went outside and there were three cops and 2 dogs! like seach dogs!! and they are cute! They told me they are looking for the bike thief!
I almost wanted to say, "go home! that's too much! Dogs look sleepy too!" but I didn't say it.
One day by the time when Im old and grandpa, I will exaggerate this story and probablly be telling my grandkid, "once when I was young, I was a hero in the neighbourhood. I saved kittens from the house fire, I caught bad guys" etc and my grandkid with google glasses or whatever the tech he will have, will tell me. "Grandpa! you lying again! You just got a bike back. I just googled!"
Pavement - "Cut Your Hair"
The first person to shave my head was my grandmother. She sat me in a kitchen chair and tied the plastic bib around my neck. Then she took out the electric razor from her Sears home barber kit - the one she used to shave my grandfather's head. It was in a cardboard box with a barber-pole design that I can almost remember. It buzzed pleasantly against my skull as the light blonde almost white hair of my childhood fell onto the squares of the linoleum floor. She told me to sit still and afterwards rewarded me with a bowl of banana slices in corn syrup, the closest thing they had to sweets in the house. Well, there were candies too. I remember once she told me where they were, in the closet above the metal folding chairs standing in a row. I found the candy dish, excitedly lifted the lid and reached for one of the brightly-coloured glass candies, small squares and rectangles. But when I grabbed it, it resisted. The candies had fused together into a new form, a mass of sweetness far larger than my mouth, although I would have surely tried to eat the whole glob if she had let me.
Kate Maki - "Before It Began". There is the kind of day, the kind of love, that call for just the simplest songs. A hot day, a deep love. These do not require complexity, riddles, worriment, they need no knots. A sentiment in sharpened pencil - that silver dust. A piano like a still life, in changing light. Pay attention: this is not that song. It may appear that way. It appears that way for fully half its length. But the weather changes; the love lifts somewhere else. The sweetest two minutes you may hear today is in fact bittersweet. Remember: even the prettiest things blow over.
Maki reminds me a little, here, of a chaster John Prine and Iris Dement. This is saying something. I hope you'll buy Head in the Sand.
Joey Purp - "Girls @ (feat. Chance the Rapper)"
Here's the deal: it's May and it's warm and there's sun all the time now and in this version of the story, no matter what else is happening to you, every morning when you wake up - with the light singing through your thin curtains, with the clamour of birds arguing and raccoons knocking stuff over and the weed-smoking adult teens your landlord hired to tear up the outside of your home arguing and knocking stuff over, with your weird uncertain future and your weird new love and your weird half-finished work all ahead of you, around - you wake up somewhere along a continuum of infinite possibility. Stop rolling your eyes at me! Not every version of the story works this way! But this one does and "Girls @" is its anthem and its soundtrack.
There are so many different kinds of ways to feel good in this world - the world of this story and the world of this summer - and the cool thing about this song is that it contains most of them. Are you going to feel the way this beat feels, an impossible gift of school-dance (Neptunes??) joy and thump and clatter and bounce and high-control ascending twist-back? Or are you going to feel the way Joey Purp's flow feels running against it, the steady push and rise of someone who knows exactly what he's doing and what he's doing is making people fucking dance? Are you going to be as boundlessly gleeful and knee-weakeningly charm-frustrating as the person who can and does rhyme "Ta-Nehisi Coates" with "SpottieOttieDope" like it's no thing, who writes a verse that's basically just about being a goofy fuckup who asks you to drive his friend home from the club and has no real bedframe at his own house when you get there and is somehow ALL THE MORE ADORABLE FOR IT? Or are you going to carry around the steady, rising glow of being the person with the reading glasses on, getting shook in the club who has finally, as is your due, been shouted out in a song like this - one that just goes and goes and goes and goes forever? All these worlds are yours, and they are all the right one. Put this song on and walk around in it.
[listen to iiiDrops]
Kraftwerk - "Autobahn" [Buy]
I had to move my 1998 Subaru Legacy because there was a street cleaning on my street.
I found another parking spot just next block. It was quite tight in between shiny SUVs like some Class A asshole would drive. Im Class C Asshole since I have a car in the city and contributing to Climate Change. I need my Subaru for my job sadly:( I wouldn't drive if I didn't do what I do for living. or if I had enough money, I would drive electric car and blast ELO, vaping and tell everyone, "Im the future! My vape flavour is called, Student Loan Debt!"
anyways, I parallel parked in this tight spot. First try, it was so bad. I was off curve by 20" on the back, 17" in front. crooked. I was hungry so I went home but I knew I could get a ticket for really bad parking job. I felt like a dentist who pulled wrong teeth. I felt like a magician who threw up on doves coming out from the hat.
So I went back to my car and I tried to re-park. If there was no one was watching, I could just re-park it no problem. Maybe it might take two tries but it would be ok. But there was this Korean restaurant where I parked with people on the patio. I got quite self-conscious, their laughters sounded like they were making fun of me.
After second try, I just parked there and sat in my Subaru and pretended like Im waiting for someone. I just sat there in the car til people on the patio left. I left my phone in the house so I just watched people eating and having great time. Obviously, I looked around and did this face, "where is my wife?" "where is my friend, Bob I'm picking up." "I'm just temporary parking here. It's not a bad parking job. It's like temporary."-Look.
Then, I started to think about this insecurity. I wonder if there is a parallel universe where I'm a Class A asshole who doesn't care about my bad parking or environment or misfortuned people in the world. Just having great time in club and really bad taste in cargo shorts or whatever.
After 30 mins or so, people left from the patio and it was quiet. No one was judging so I did excellent parallel parking. It was so sexy with my right arm on the passenger seat headrest.
The end. Have a great weekend.
Can - "Future Days"
The worst thing about the outpost was the recycled air. It dried out Paul's hands. There was a tube of moisturizer on the console of his work station, and he splorged it into his palms. It was viscous and cold, and as he rubbed it disappeared into his hands, which were fissured by tiny white cracks.
The botany department of a university Paul had never heard of had an experimental greenhouse set up adjacent to the outpost. The students were the same age as Paul and he made an effort to befriend them. But lately he'd been more reticent. He saw himself as a strange person who was only getting stranger from all this isolation.
Broadband was terrible out here on the outer Ecrustean line, it took forever even to load in his emails. Paul struggled with his devices for weeks after he arrived until one day he found himself pulling volumes off the shelf in the commissary. Their spines had faded from long years of exposure to the suns, the pages dry and brittle. Paul knew how to work a book, of course, but couldn't remember if he had ever actually held one in his hands.
And so his watch shifts began to pass quicker. For twelve hours he drank terrible simulated coffee made with reclaimed water and read books that not only collapsed the long lonely hours of his shift, but also made his life, far away from everywhere and everyone he'd ever known, almost enjoyable. He was alone, but he was learning to like it.
Paul avoided the massive tomes about the war. There were stacks of them, full of gnarly pictures detailing the major battles. The staggering losses of the Union were solemnized in these doorstoppers. Paul knew he should care, but all that was over a hundred years ago now. And although this outpost was set up after the truce with the Pincers as a kind of line in the sand, an early distant warning station for the planets back towards the centre, it was now more like a museum. The alarm that hung over the console Paul sat at for twelve hours every day had never rung once in a century. He wondered if it could even ring, the thing was so old, but the engineer insisted it was primed and ready. "She's a classic," he told Paul when he had expressed his doubts.
Paul was sitting at the console - coffee, book, low-simmering loneliness - when it rang.
Continued in Part Two
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs
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Said the Gramophone
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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors
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writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This
is her website and email her here
is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True
and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter
is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker
in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here
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wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here
to browse his posts. Email him here
wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Gorilla vs Bear
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In FocusAMASS BLOG
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, café italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News