I am trying (desperately) to avoid a “boy, it’s been a wacky ride these last few months!” post. It certainly isn’t for lack of things to talk about, news to update you with, opinions to confess/shout.

Thing is, I don’t know who you are. Sure, I know there are some of you who are semi-regular visitors. There are others who happen upon this place by accident (via Blogger or StumbleUpon). There are also those who come here via Google searches, either via my name or – most likely – a book review (which admittedly I haven’t done in, oh, a year or so *). And no, this isn’t going to be a “Matt wittily evading accusations of being a lazy bastard by turning the camera on the reader” post.

I’ve been posting artsy stuff, writerly stuff, industry opinion stuff. I don’t mind the randomness, so long as there’s no fluff. I do mind the lack of output. I wish, for one, that I could post more photographs (which is to say, I wish I had a better selection of photos to post **).

It comes down to the fact that I’ve been working like a dog since May (note: this happens every year that I’m working on a SAW film). When I come out of these periods, I feel like Rip van Winkle: a little dazed, slow on the up-take. Whereas last year this time I started teaching, this time this year I am a student (part-time) †. I have a small (but good) feature and a small (but good and potentially controversial) TV show on my plate from now till February. If funds allow, I also hope to have an editor working with me on my novel, with an eye to approaching a publisher or self-publishing if that doesn’t seem feasible ††. I’m collaborating on a musical.

My plate is full.

– – – 

* which isn’t to say that I’m not reading or that I don’t want to do any more book reviews. I’m reading a lot of non-fiction, thank you. Much of it either out of professional or academic interest. However, if only to improve my Google ranking, here’s a quick book review of Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño: What the fuck was that? (ISBN-13: 978-0811217170)

** another casualty of working so much is my photography. I still have the same roll of film in my camera that I’d loaded in June. I think I’ve only taken 4 exposures since then. Of course, my cellphone camera gets all the fun these days, unfortunately.

† I will be continuing teaching, but for only two terms this year as opposed to three (which was exhausting and… exhausting)

†† It needs a new name, for one thing. And I know this is going to drive me up the wall more than any changes to the actual content of the book.


The Hammer (pt. 1)

When I rented a car and went to Brantford/Onondaga to do some reminiscing and photo-taking, I knew that Hamilton was also, ultimately, on my to-do list.

The aim of these trips is not preconceived. This makes it doubly hard to explain to others (friends, strangers, and loved ones) what exactly the hell I’m planning to do. “Taking pictures and stuff.” I’ll say – that’s certainly no lie, but of course there’s more to it. The thing about Zen is this: the second you begin to describe it, it disappears. And so – Art & Zen being the same – there’s always a scaffolding I build around my explanation for these trips. It’s the same scaffolding I use when I go out writing, or to take photos locally: a vague (yet not untrue) reason which allows me to unspoil the inspiration (which itself needs to be vague) while preventing others from thinking I’ve lost my mind. I’m not uncomplicated.

Hamilton, being a place of the past for me, exists in patches of haze – this isn’t to say I did a lot of drinking or drugs when it was a destination, and yet it seems that way: murky. Of course, a good chunk of that time is best forgotten now. The downtown seems more hollowed-out than it did before, with the exception of Gore Park which to this day reminds me what a good idea it is to have spacious downtown promenades.

It was a precursory destination. First, with an ill-fated relationship which spawned a series of bad decisions which I owe to naivety. I am not alone in stating that I owe many mistakes in my 20s to naivety. It all culminated in a brief tenancy at an old apartment building north of St. Joseph’s hospital. In so many ways, it was one of the more excruciating periods in my life – I think the haze I mentioned previously is partially there to protect me from looking too closely at things like this.

The second identity Hamilton had for me happened a few years later when, staying with relatives in Burlington while I studied at college, it became a “big city” to escape to. Toronto was bigger, of course, but it was too far to drive to just to have kicks. Hamilton was perfect and in the early 90s had a great nighttime scene in and around Hess Village. My hang-out was the Bauhaus Café, which sadly (though not surprisingly) no longer exists.

Walking around there now, it seems as if parts of it just gave up. People don’t even want to advertise on billboards. To be fair, I shouldn’t make any judgments without going there again, but on a Friday night – I’m afraid however that these judgments will only skew worse if I do.

Perhaps I have a better understanding of the haze now: it’s there to protect my feelings, it’s there to protect the city from the cold light of an unsympathetic audience.