Saturday, October 15, 2005

Things I Found While Looking for Something Else, #2

So I'm online trying to find some important fact or other, and suddenly I decide to check out what's up with the CBC. (This can only mean there was something far more important on my to-do list, mind you.) I'd vaguely heard about a walkout a while back, but I'd sort of lost touch with the whole thing.

Turns out the official site is a bonanza of time-wasting diversions, starting with this not particularly revelatory "Protest Music Mixtape," which is really just a slide show with lengthy captions concerning the usual suspects.

I would not be wasting your time (only mine) with this information if that were the only thing I found. Nope, the real treasure trove came when I stumbled upon "the Alternative Canadian Walk of Fame" (or is it "the Canadian Alternative Walk of Fame"? the website lists both options--now, that's Canadian! And alternative, too...). The thirteen inductees include Tommy Chong, the Bob & Doug McKenzie movie, John "Plunderphonics" Oswald, and Chris Dedrick, founder of soft rock sensation The Free Design (originally from Western New York, by the bye, not our neighbor to the north, but so be it).

But two names on the list outshine all the others as far as I'm concerned. First and foremost is Mary Margaret O'Hara, whose lone full-length album, Miss America, is one of my all-time faves. I was lucky enough to see a concert of hers in NYC several years ago that was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed: an incredible balancing act between precision musicianship and a complete plunge off the deep end.

And speaking of the deep end, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the second all-star on the Alternative Canadian/Canadian Alternative list: Nardwuar, the Human Serviette.

I first came across this singularly talented individual 6 or 7 years ago in the pages of Chart magazine, a Canadian (natch) music publication that I used to read as part of my record-label job. (I guess it wasn't technically part of my job to read the magazine, but I can assure you it helped me in ways I cannot begin to describe.) In every issue, Nardwuar would interview some unsuspecting musician or pop culture figure, asking a bizarre mix of incredibly stupid questions and incredibly well-informed ones. Sort of a precursor of Ali G, I guess (with a big touch of Tom Green, it occurs to me now that I've heard his voice)--only you frequently feared for the interviewer's safety. One month he's offering Henry Rollins a Powerbar at the end of a conversation, next month he's getting kicked out of a room by Courtney Love.

Now that I've found,or maybe re-found, his official website, containing not only written transcripts of the interviews but audio and sometimes video documentation of them, I may never be able to leave my computer again. There are years of these things to catch up on. Naturally I started with a 2005 interview with Dave Allen of Gang of Four, but the list of subjects/victims in the archives includes Geddy Lee, Gene Simmons, Gerald Ford (!), and Glenn Danzig--and that's only the letter "G." Enter this madness at your own risk. I cannot be responsible for the hours you are about to waste.

Oh, and that walkout?

Guess it's over now, but I completely forgot to look into it on the CBC site.


richard said...

The best part is that I've finally convinced the guy to let me setup a podcast and start encoding some archival stuff from years back that he doesn't have online.

Only a couple test items up there now, but keeps people from forgetting about the site :D

Ron said...

Thanks for writing, Richard. Very exciting to hear about the podcasts yet to come--it's a perfect medium for the Human Serviette!

I meant to go back and amend my comments on Nardwuar to provide better examples of his finest moments, since it's been a while since I read them regularly. Came across one where he insists on showing his chest hair to Marilyn Manson in the hopes that it will freak the famously hairless guy out. But I"m scared to delve much farther into the archives just yet, because I fear that once I go in there, I'll never come out.