Author: Matthew Barlow

On Photography and Filtering

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture on Instagram.  Immediately, my more smart-arsed friends began to chatter.  I used the hashtag #nofilter, meaning that I did not use an Instagram filter.  Not good enough for the commentariat, though.  They commented on the mental filters, frame filters, and so on as I framed the photo and so on.  They’re not wrong. (The photo, if you are wondering, is of a creek about a mile from my home in Western Massachusetts). Of course this photo was filtered, from the way the creek caught my eye as I walked the dogs,...

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Stars: There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light

Stars There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light (Last Gang Records, 2017) I seriously thought Stars were done after their last album, No One Is Lost (2014). It was the first time in their long career that they sounded out of ideas and, well, done. I was sad. I saw what had to have been one of their first gigs, in a loft in Chinatown, Montreal, some time around 2000. They opened for The Dears. I was hooked (on both bands). So I felt a proprietary interest. Stars wrote one of the best romantic songs in history, ‘Your Ex-Lover is...

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What Happened, a Review

Hillary Rodham Clinton, What Happened (Simon & Schuster) In years of teaching, I have often pointed to Hillary Rodham Clinton as a perfect example of how sexism and misogyny work in political and popular culture. Clinton has long been a target, but she first came onto my radar during Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992. I remember reporters and the general public trying to wrap their heads around a woman with a career whose husband was running for president; like it was impossible for a woman to do both. Not surprisingly, Clinton dismissed their puzzlement, telling a reporter that “I...

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Fiddler’s Green: RIP Gord Downie

Gord Downie is dead.  This is a sad day.  For better or worse, the Tragically Hip have been the soundtrack of my life.  They have been the soundtrack for almost all Canadians’ lives. In 1989, I worked as a line cook at an IHOP in suburban Vancouver.  There was this dishwasher there, Greg.  He was around my age, maybe a bit older.  But he got me onto the Hip.  I had seen the video for ‘New Orleans is Sinking‘, of course, it was on heavy rotation on MuchMusic.  But Greg got me into the band, and that brilliant début album, Up To Here. Downie’s lyrics were what kept me hooked on the Hip.  Sure, the music was great, but Downie’s lyrics.  He wrote songs that seethed and snarled with energy.  He and his band also wrote some pretty ballads, one of which is the title of this post. Live, Gord Downie was something else entirely.  He was a madman.  All this energy, whirling about the stage, singing and screaming and moaning his lyrics out.  In between songs, he told us, the audience, weird things.  He told us stories.  At Another Roadside Attraction, on Seabird Island in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, he stopped in between songs.  He stopped still on the stage, crouched, looking out at the audience, his hand shielding his eyes from the light.  It was hot...

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#MeToo: A Public Service Announcement

Since around Sunday afternoon, women have been posting on social media that they have been victims of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment.  My Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of these brave posts, with the hashtag #MeToo.  But, almost immediately, the backlash came.  From men. Yes, men are the victims of sexual assault, too.  Around 10% of rape victims are male, and around 3% of men in the United States have been sexually assaulted.  This is a very real problem.  And the sexual assault of men does not get much coverage in our world.  To be a male survivor of sexual assault is alienating and lonely.  In fact, many of the same things women experience, men experience in the aftermath of being sexually assaulted. But. This male backlash to #MeToo smacks of an attempt to deny women their experiences. It also smacks of ‘All Lives Matter.’ A couple of years ago, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, white conservatives began the counterpoint: All Lives Matter.  Well, duh.  Of course all lives matter.  That was never open for debate. No one ever said that because Black Lives Matter, other lives don’t.  But the simple fact was that the discussion was about black lives, which were much more likely to be terminated at the hands of the police than other types of lives. In effect, saying ‘All Lives...

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