The Hidden Costs of Poutine

As many of you are aware I hatched a hairball scheme some months ago to bring hot steaming poutine to the playa (Burning Man) as a kind of Quebecois/Canadian pride and cultural envoy. It seems simple enough. Make French fries, add cheese curds, add gravy. How hard could it be? Well, everything is harder in the desert.

My initial choices for deep fryers failed to pan out. Both of the happy camping/outdoor fryers that I tried to get my hands on have been out of stock and on backorder all summer long. While a purpose built fryer would be ideal in terms of safety, convenience and efficiency there are other options. Today I bought a camping stove that hopefully has enough gusto to make a few batches of fries and keep a pot of gravy warm on the side.

The day previous I spotted a solution to the secondary problem, namely the problem of serving and preparation. I needed a table of some sort. To the rescue came a collapsing camp kitchen unit which the stove should fit into rather nicely.

Now the problem is all the stuff you don’t really think about until you’ve reached this point in a scheme. The big ticket items are bought, now its all about the details. Ladles, pots, trays, lids… I went to a restraunt wholesaler to buy those things today, but when the total price tag came up to $200 I took pause. $70 for a folding kitchen unit I could swallow, same for the $90 stove, I’ll get lots of use out of those and they’re well designed gizmos, but $200 for pots and pans?! Most of which I’ll only use in poutine preparation.

So…

I’m going to hit up the second hand and dollar stores to see if I can do better. I may still end up buying some industrial grade stuff at the supply store, but not $200 worth. That’s insane.

So poutine continues to become more and more complex and more and more expensive. Alas. I’ll eventually recoup the expenses through fundraisers – I hope.

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Art out there

There’s a ridiculous notion out there that art belongs in galleries, or if not in galleries than in corporate boardrooms or private residences. Really I think that’s elitist and selfish balderdash. I’ve always been of the opinion that art should be for the people, and most people never venture into those places. And so it is that street art is my darling of choice. It was maybe as much as eight years ago that I launched my Post-It Note Campaign for Unfettered Thought, wandering town with a stack of sticky yellow papers in one pocket and a red pen in another leaving any variety of notes, riddles, instructions or jokes for people to find, all while paying no dividends to 3M. But today I’m faced with a quandary.

Inspired by talk with a friend about street art I find myself thinking about what to do next, drawing inspiration from those who’ve come before me (here, here, here and yes here). I’ve lived in Montreal now long enough to have a reasonable lay of the land and some potential accomplices, but… There is a unique challenge in a city where language is like fire with the potential to inflame and burn or simply to peter out, unnoticed and unspoken. Words are much tougher to handle here.

For one thing I think any linguistic act in this province are particularly this city is by its very nature political, and while some art aims to be political, much of the art I like transcends that. So how to communicate without turning to words or language? To be truly universal and untinged with cultural baggage, or at least a bare minimum thereof?

For someone who isn’t particularly good at drawing, who’s always fought and learned and discovered through words its a worthy challenge. I’m pretty excited. In particular I’m intrigued by the possibilities of projected light. Something to play with once I return from that thing in the desert.

The Creative Feedback Loop

So I was chatting with a new friend one week ago about books. Books are good. I suggest you try them out. Anyways we were talking about books, books we loved and why we loved them. Conversation ended, the night continued and I didn’t give it much more thought. For a while.

Last night I picked up Gravity’s Rainbow,¬†flipped to a random page, absorbed the fibrous texture with my fingers and began the sumputous feast of print. Shit. I fogot how good this was. And then what happened? I began to think, speak and write with much more purpose, with metaphor and symbolic intent, making words into craft rather than utilitarian levers and cogs.

I’ve always been a better writer when I was reading. Call it resonance, or osmosis or feedback, but whatever it is its the essential oxygen of good creative force. To write well you need to be well read. To make good films it stands to reason one must drink in the cinema’s light and sound. My diet lately has been anything but wholesome, and that in part might just explain¬†my mediocre attempts at art as of late. Shameful really.

So exposure to goodness, processing it and secreting it out as something new and unique. That’s a decent enough prescription for any kind of art don’t you think?

ZAP!

Not entirely happy with Access Electronique. Though they had electronics components they were in stiff competition with audio systems, computer and phone accessories. Keeping LEDs behind the counter was pretty much the ultimate turn off. Bought a few things, but going to make a run to another one of the recommended electronics stores this week in hopes of finding better bounty.

Its hard shopping for electronics when your theory has been rusting for almost ten years, even harder when its all in French. I’ll manage.

Les castors du Bell

Remember yesterday’s seemingly successful removal of my email address from whatever dumbass automated system Bell uses to assault its current and former customers? Well good news. I’m no longer getting the pointless emails I was getting before. Now I’m getting pointless emails in French.

Bell, you’re all a bunch of fucking morons.

Stabbing from the grave

Oh this is rich. A brilliant shining example of everything that’s back assward and fucked up about modern capitalism. Namely that two REAL beavers could probably manage a company better than the virtual rodents that represent Bell here in Canada. Soft and cuddly my ass.

The following is a transcript of my vain attempt to get Bell to stop spamming me a month after I cancelled my subscription to their service. I must note that the customer service agent was slow as fuck, indicating either she was eating a rice noodle bowl or she had ten chat windows open at once.

(Incidentally chat based customer service is none the less faster than trying to find a human voice on the phone, even if they end the conversation with silly macros.)

System
Welcome Nathan Taylor.
System
Connecting to server. Please wait…
System
Connection with server established.
System
Ganesa (SCI-274225) has joined this session!
System
Connected with Ganesa (SCI-274225)
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Hi Nathan Taylor, welcome to Bell Sympatico Services, my name is Ganesa (SCI-274225), how may I help you today?
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Good evening, Nathan.
You
I’d just like my ap.films@gmail.com address removed from whatever system is sending me “Information from our discussion” messages.” on a daily basis.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Do you wish to stop receiving spam messages for ap.films@gmail.com
You
yes
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
I am really sorry, we have no access with gmail account, since it is sympatico Internet service help desk, however, I suggest you to contact google for further information about your gmail account.
You
No, YOU’re sending me emails.
You
I’ve recieved over 100 emails from bell tech support in two months.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Are you sympatico Internet service subscriber?
You
I was, I cancelled my service a month ago. Now i get even more emails.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
May I know, your b1 number and complete address with postal code, so that I can pull your account and check with that.
You
My original was B1NAQK62, however there were problems with that account and it may have been changed to a second B1 temporarily. Area code is h4c 3g7
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
I really appreciate your patience.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Nathan, I have remove the gmail address from our records, hence you will not receive any more mails to your ap.films@gmail.com from sympatico.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Is there anything else I can assist you with?
You
That’s all. Thank you very much!
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
You are most welcome.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you for choosing Bell and have yourself a great day.

Don’t forget to visit our new Sympatico Internet Forums website by following this link: http://www.bell.ca/internetforum

and also our Customer Service web site at this link: http://service.sympatico.ca

Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Have a great week ahead!
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you for your business.
System
Ganesa (SCI-274225) has left this session!
System
The session has ended!
Here’s hoping the emails actually stop. More than 100 in less than two months…
P.S.: Its with great pleasure that I know the agent is to in revulsion at her job that she probably dreams of skewering her eyes out, if only they’d let her have a pencil…