The Deer Hunter

Beetle in the anthill

Fresh tracks and timely insight.

DD, “Miss You,” Fingers in Front of Eyes (Wooden Records)

My advice to young people, now that I have reached the age to dole out advice, is to never give anyone your hand, because they will surely take your arm. Give the back of your hand. In prison, prison rules apply.

T. Gowdy, “Vidisions,” Miracles (Constellation Records)

There seem to be a lot of orange cones this summer, more than in recent years. Montreal has always been known for having two seasons: winter and construction. But 2022 appears to be a banner year for the Rue Barrée sign. 

Interestingly, orange cones have a special historical meaning in Montreal — like white bicycles commemorate locations of cyclist fatalities. It’s true. As you might expect, it has deeply religious origins.

Every orange cone in Montreal actually signifies a locally committed sin — every time that someone stole someone else’s land, or bread, or parking space. Every idol made, every false witness, every neighbour’s life partner coveted. Every time a sex worker was exploited, every police officer who pepper-sprayed a defenceless septuagenarian, every person who died alone between March 2020 and March 2022. 

Support your community. Sin local.

Caterina Barbieri, “Terminal Clock,” Spirit Exit (light-years)

Roulette is a complicated game of chance played in casinos. The word “Roulette” is French for little wheel, just like cigarette is French for little cigar. 

Anyway, Roulette is played on a tilted wheel, and what you do is spin the wheel in one direction, and then you spin a little ball in the other direction, and eventually the ball loses momentum. I don’t have time to go into the physics of it, but it lands on one of 37 or 38 or 39 numbers, and anyone wins who placed a bet on that number, or a grouping of numbers that contains that number, or the colour of that number, because the numbers have colours — I forgot to mention that — or whether the number is odd or even, or whether the number is low or high. It’s French. They like to complicate things. 

In Russia, they play Roulette in an entirely different way. Russians cut through all the bullshit, they get rid of the tilted wheel, the ball, the two directions at once, the momentum, the numbers, the colours, the oddness, the evenness, everything. 

What they do there in Russia is, instead of a wheel, they use a gun. And instead of a ball, they use a bullet. And instead of 37 or 38 or 39 numbers, there’s only six, and the bullet automatically goes inside one of them. And instead of spinning a wheel, you spin the barrel of the gun, and instead of winning money if you win, if you win in Russian Roulette, you have to shoot yourself in the head and die immediately. 

Russian society is just different, and I for one am surprised that people didn’t notice it from Russian Roulette alone.

Bienoise, “OOO,” THIS MEANING TODAY (Mille Plateaux)

I was walking in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral the other day when two Jews approached me. That is precisely what they were — two Jews, both young men in their early 20s, clean and clear-eyed with crisp fedoras and neatly clipped beards. One of them asked if I happened to be Jewish, and I said, probably, one quarter Jewish, and he asked which quarter, and I said, “just the good quarter”, and before I knew it, he was asking me if I wanted to be Bar Mitzvah’d right then and there, on the spot. And since I wasn’t doing anything at that particular second, I thought, why the hell not? 

And I led these two rubes down Chemin le Roy, into the shade of a Ficus tree, where they attached a black camera-looking contraption around my bicep with a long leather strap, jesting that this was the Jewish version of taking my blood pressure. And then we recited a prayer, and since I had been to dozens and dozens of Bars and Bats Mitzvah as a tween, I couldn’t help cracking jokes throughout this brief but also somehow too-long ceremony. 

I asked the first kid if he thought God had a good sense of humour, and he, sounding and looking wise well beyond his years, replied, of course, because God has everything, because God created everything. And we went back to reciting the prayer while his buddy stood in the background, texting on his phone, with me wondering who he was texting to, and noticing that one of his black Nike sneakers was untied, and I felt half as if I was being hustled.

But I looked into their eyes, and they were without malice, and I again thought, what the goddamned hell, these Jew kids seem alright, and we wrapped up the ceremony, and they unwrapped my arm, and I asked if I could keep the yarmulke that he had donned upon my dome and he said, why the hell not. 

I asked him, what now? And he told me to put a mezuzah on my door, which I told him I already had, and he nodded at me as if to say that 80% of life was just showing up, and I felt a bit like I had just accidentally joined a club that would accidentally have someone like me as a member. 

I asked them, what are you Jews doing here in front of the church? Converting people to Judaism? And he said, no, they were looking for people who might be Jewish. And I asked, how did he know that I was Jewish, or 25% Jewish? How could he recognize my good quarter? And he replied that they were asking everybody. Nobody got converted that day. They were just out there, recharging Mitzvahs. And if I wasn’t before, I guess now I’m Jewish, like getting caught in a drive-by Jewing.

This reminded me of the joke about the old Jewish man who went to confession to tell the priest of his affair with a 25-year-old woman. When the priest asked why the Jew was confessing to him, he said, “Oh, I’m telling everybody!”

Kristin Oppenheim, “Tap Your Shoes,” Voices Fill My Head (INFO)

Celebrities waltz in and out of Montreal like ghosts — or more like clouds. They materialize and turn into vapour. 

Looking at clouds, though, the best way to see them form and dissipate is not from below but above, from the top of some mountain range, perhaps above a deep lake high in the valley. Clouds are just perceptible moisture; they render visible the atmospheric movement that’s already present. Just like celebrities. 

Celebrities are interesting because they represent the exemplary versions of society, they perform culture, they show the best us back to ourselves. They become us, they assume form, and then they disappear back into *checks notes* America.

People all huddled together behind velvet ropes look pretty goofy when they’re waiting for an autograph of someone famous. Who would you wait for? Who would you cluster into a crowd to see, with an 8-by-10 and Sharpie clutched tightly in your fingertips? ■

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