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Fresh tracks and timely insight.

Marlon Brando’s Academy Award refusal for The Godfather, March 27, 1973 (NBC)

The best night in the history of television, Mr. Rock? Puhlease. Aren’t we forgetting The Sopranos series finale? Or Cheers, perhaps? What about Wu-Tang Is for the Children? It wasn’t even the best TV slap ever. That honour would, hands-down, pun intended, go to wrestler Jerry Lawler, who, on July 28, 1982, whalloped comedian Andy Kaufman right out of his chair, live on the set of Late Night With David Letterman. Now, that was the slap heard ‘round the world. It still stings.

For my money, the Academy Award for Best Academy Awards goes to the 45th broadcast, when Sacheen Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando’s Best Actor statue on his behalf. On that night in 1973, Oscar was as red as a warhorse. 

“Based”

A number of Twitter users took to the platform following le Slap to praise Mr. Smith for his “based” behaviour. 

“Not all wife guys are bad, some are will smith (based and slap pilled)”

—A deleted March 28 tweet by @trans_zero

Based is an interesting word, with multiple meanings, I’ve been discovering. It can mean the place from which one operates, i.e. Ryan Diduck is a Montreal-based author. Or, it can mean the basis upon which an assertion or statement or object is made, i.e. The Godfather is based upon the Mario Puzo novel, or based upon our current knowledge, O.J. is still out there looking for the real killers. 

But based as-the-kids-say has come to mean something synonymous with “cool” or “fire,” “dope” or “rad,” “sick,” “nice,” or any of the other pimply hyperbole for overall approval. Based is fundamental to popular culture right now, and it’s no coincidence. Based is fundament.

In Ancient Rome, as elsewhere, people constructed the solid base of their dwellings out of literal dung, the foundation, the fundamental fudge upon which this world is packed. It’s shitty.

Perel featuring Marie Davidson, “Jesus Was An Alien,” Jesus Was An Alien (Kompakt)

“Jesus Was an Alien” by Perel featuring Marie Davidson

An update from the dep owner downstairs, who said that he is moving back to Iran if things in Montreal don’t improve this summer. Apparently, even with the downtown downturn because of COVID-19, and the constant struggles of immigrants in Quebec to hang on for dear life to their small businesses, a new Couche-Tard is opening up in the quartier, just a stone’s throw away from several other deps — one, a Chinese-owned convenience store that also, as a neighbourhood service, houses the closest Canada Post office. Well, that’s one way to support local after a pandemic: give your friendly neighbourhood billionaire licence to corner the market.

On another note, this Iranian dep owner was recounting how much he missed the vastly superior standard of living in Iran. He pointed an indignant finger out the window at the shoddy, uneven Montreal pavement: “Look at the streets here!” he exclaimed. “Do you know what the streets are like in my country?” he asked? I didn’t. He held one hand down at his waist to signify Montreal-level, and the other hand high above his head to indicate Iran’s superior infrastructure. I believe him. This is the city you get when you leave billionaires in charge.

LEYA, “Dankworld” (Actress Remix), Eyeline (NNA Tapes)

The Actress remix of “Dankworld” by LEYA

One of the many problems with being a writer is that you’re not a writer as soon as you put down your pen. But there’s so much more to writing than physically writing, whether by quill, by laptop, or by skywriter — whatever. First off, there’s rewriting, which is like polishing if you’re a sculptor, or apologizing if you’re a Best Actor winner. Most of writing is done collecting things about which to write, or remembering, or inventing them. And then backpedalling afterwards and feeling remorse. You think this is easy, surrealism? 

Plus, people these days imagine that anyone can be a writer just because everyone has a writing machine. They don’t understand that it’s really very difficult to put thoughts into words, and then put those words into sentences, and then have those sentences make sense in someone else’s thoughts, if they care enough to have gotten that far.

As well, as a writer, your trade is plied dozens of times per day on unproductive things. We had the phone, but no — writing in 2022 has become our preferred mode of communication, for everything from text messages and tweets to commenting on The New York Times. It’s my livelihood, but it’s also necessary, for instance, for filing a complaint with your favourite Régie. 

No other profession has this problem. A sex worker, let’s just say for the sake of absolute absurdity, doesn’t have to give blowjobs in order to set up a dentist appointment, and to request restitution from Amazon for a delivery that wasn’t delivered, as well as to simply make a living. Knowing these Bezos-y types as we do, maybe they’d respond better to the blowjobs than the indignant emails.

George Jones, “Big Fool of the Year,” b/w “A Girl I Used to Know” (United Artists, 1962)

“Big Fool of the Year” by George Jones

Awaiting a recent flight, I met an interesting chap. His name is J. Paul Nadeau. He looks a bit like a petite Raveen, all angular cheekbones and manicured beard. But he’s kind of a big deal in the self-help business. Nadeau was a cop previously, and then worked as a hostage negotiator in the Middle East. He’s written a bunch of books, one of which he gave me, called Take Control of Your Life. He has parlayed his experience talking people down from ledges and out of explosive-loaded vests into a tidy career as an author, keynote speaker and somewhat of a power-of-positive-thinking guru.

Nadeau’s metaphor is that we are all at some point in our lives “taken hostage” — by an ideology, an ex lover or even by ourselves. It is a helpful way to think; we need to negotiate our way into and out of hostage-like crises every day. And our thoughts about them can persist and take our memory hostage long after we’ve indeed been freed. 

But love is a mutual-hostage situation. True love takes no prisoners. ■

This column was originally published in the April issue of Cult MTL. 


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