Last year, about halfway through a rough draft, first my eldest cat Monty (who had lived with me in six cities over 20 years) died; then my dad was hospitalized in Victoria. He died a few months later. Our house was for sale that summer, and we were living out of a suitcase at my mother-in-law's. There are gaps in continuity in the writing as a result and the way the tone shifts from slapstick to soul-baring isn't really fixable, so I've decided to preserve it like this instead, an illustrated testament to troubled times. In any case, I teach the importance of DIY in my college classes, even as I've expended way too much intellectual energy in pursuit of some great Knopf, who was supposed to instantly transform me into Lionel Trilling, at the outside Edmund Wilson, listen I'd have settled for Anthony Boucher-a person's gotta eat.
The decline of public spaces to which the text frequently alludes is based on my observations and experiences during the nine years I lived in Kelowna and Vernon. I wouldn't have thought of these things had I stayed in Montreal, where I first learned that clothes and street-life and records were worthy and necessary objects of study; and I'm trying not to think about them now because I moved to Vancouver a year ago and I'm happy here. The change in address occurred during the text's composition and this causes a confusion of place in places: I appear to be living in two locations simultaneously, occasionally in the same paragraph. I apologize for that.
I've published a modest amount of fiction and non-fiction, most of it in literary or academic journals and magazines you would not read ever unless you were
looking for a particular story by someone you knew. I've also published a chapter in an academic book (that one I like), and a single book of my own. Really, it's all been a very slight return. The book I published I wish I hadn't. Everything about the process was miserable, the prose most of all. Be careful what you wish for, indeed. I would un-publish it if that was a thing.
I find the self-promotion necessary to advance in this technological era personally distasteful and socially detrimental. I find the psychological changes that come from wanting likes and follows super uncomf. I've been off Facebook since, like, 2013. That was the last of any and all social media. The plan sort of worked. I wrote three books these past five years. I tried it out as Wilkie Collins playing banjo, a Victorian ghost story/Deliverance hybrid and those were 400 pages of weird fiction-Island of Dr. Moreau on a B.C. mountain. I wrote a Montreal/Paris novel but it came out as shabby imitation Hammett and that is the good part.
So yes, sorry Jonathan Frantzen, terrible advice! I got off the internet, and I still wrote horribly, maybe even worse than before, and that took some doing. I guess the nicest thing I can say about The Oldness of New is that it's the best of a disappointing lot and that is why I am not very good at marketing. Probably five years of tweets would have been the better way to go. Sorry.
My previous DIY project, 21 years ago. The text underneath reads "12 coquettish tracks from Calgary's pop voluptuaries," and good luck trying to explain that to the DJs at CJAY92 because you can't, or at least I couldn't. Ten dollar words and classic rock broheems, it's just not a combination I can endorse.
I've played this over the years for friends in different cities and the response has varied: I've heard people laugh and say, "But, it's so awful." I've heard a lot of praise for "Lover, That's All There is," by The Film Extras, which was the band of Bobby McAlister, who engineered and recorded ten out of the twelve tracks at his home studio. McAlister was Stephen Street to that scene: he had the touch.
Mostly, people seem genuinely taken by the Glider songs. Some of the other bands around had a keener nose for the attention of the press, but the single best show I saw in Calgary was Glider at the Night Gallery during the Panacea festival, a couple of years before this compilation came out. They covered The Beatles ("Please, Please Me", I think) out of nowhere, and they got it so right I think even the bartenders were jumping up and down screaming. Calgary indie-pop in the mid 90s, you know? In 1994, the city had three (rivalrous) indiepop bands with the songs to back up their self-belief. All of them would surely have found, as a safe bet, a modest international audience if offered a chance-which was never going to happen. The Canadian recording industry seemed to regard jingle jangle originating from the Canadian prairies as inauthentic, almost unpatriotic. It had no use for it. The A&R reps who came to the shows seemed to believe that the kids were always going to go for Our Moist Lady Mother I Earth Peace, keep the soul sensitive dudebros' hair long and greasy, keep the vocals guttural and sleazy, don't mess with success.
Me at 20. I am seated at the Falkland Stampede. Ann, my mom (recently returned from missionary service in Madrid) is seated beside me but we photoshopped her out. She died unexpectedly in 2002; you really cannot know how something like that is going to hit you until it does. Just that, when you get knocked out of the saddle like that, it's not, as it turns out (ahem), very pretty at all.