Monday, July 02, 2007

O Canada and teenage angst

I am sure Donnetta Lee, a correspondent to this blog, and who is ailing--like really sick!
--would realy identify with these Alanis Morisette lyrics.
Thank U

"how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo
thank you india
thank you terrort
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you
thank you silence
how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time
thank you india
thank you terror
hank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you
thank you silence
the moment I let go of it was the moment I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it was the moment I touched down
how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping
thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you
thank you silence

Ah precocious Alanis Morisette, Ottawa girl whose unrhyming odes seem to get us right where we live.

It has struck me a number of times that some gifted and energetic people seem to do more by age 26 than the rest of us do by 66.
Alanis Morisette is one, Hank Williams is another, and all those suicidal Bing Crosbies From Hell the same.

My name sounds a bit like that word, but I was certainly not precocious.
There was a war going on, people were trying to kill us, and we were very focused on The Problem, though here and there some partisan would actually crank out a novel and another would pen a song for the taking of fortress
Monte Casino.

I can still hear echoes of the Sailor Dance played on a squeezebox and can easily visualize Russians in their felt boots and quilt tunics, their automatics dangerously slung to one side while they did a cobbler's step, jumping around, dancing with each other.
Russians are friggin' crazy.
They have a charming natural confusion. Many of them had had spell in the Gulag ("I was innocent, but to find the truly guilty is to expand bureacracy, and that's really expensive. So I shut up and did my time. It is all for the Party.")

(Down on his hunkers now, arms crossed, right foot suddenly kicking out...So much like a scene out of Fiddler on the Roof).
Such a hard luck people, yet related to us. We Ukrainians, who started Russia in the dim Kievan past, can still understand them, but we don't seem as Asiatic, not so confused. In fairness, I must say that Asians proper, are rarely confused.

So war stunts you creatively.
I started writing at the age of ten, but there was no pen to be had, no paper. I used what little toilet paper was around from those Rabelaisian privies for communal relief around the camp. I recall stealing a crayon from a good friend and this bothers me to this very day. A crayon was a rare and beautiful thing.

I do so identify with the aging children of dustbowl Oklahoma, where life was hardscrabble and full of sand.
I would wager it would have been an experience not unlike war. There were certainly camps. And so little to eat.

But why was I pole-axed when I first heard Hank Williams' songs of love and loss?
I suppose it was because Hank wrote about the simple origins of emotion. Urequited love, songs about the Bible,
those lonesome, lovesick blues. Maybe it was the song about the Apocalypse.

From the gates of Eden
To the Battle of A-mu-goten
They'll be trials and tribulations
There'll be sorrow and regret.

He has said be not ye troubled
For these things will come to pass
Then your life will be eternal
When you dwell with Him at last.

Yeah, sure. Plow-jockey music. Sort of Jesus-freaky.
But the roots of it are black.
Old-style country music is an antidote for cultural tyranny, like the Blues.

Back to Alanis Morisette.
Some audience members would walk away from her concerts with something like confusion.

"Alanis sucks a .....

"What is her problem?"

Sounds like one or two love affairs had gone truly bad and she had to write it out.
Or maybe take a jagged little pill.


No one has as yet written a true novel about the Second World War.
It was probably too horrible, too close to an uncomfortable truth, our atavism, our savagery.
An entire continent given to genocide.

The singer-songwriter Alanis Morisette comes from a more tranquil, more intelligent culture.
She is a truly creative spirit.
Maybe we all fought to bring an atmosphere condusive to the rearing of such people.

I'd like to think so anyway.

Yet a forgetful generation still has echoes of Marx, and and there a kind of nazism afoot. Don't let the Suzukis and the Gores fool you.
We work so hard for our money and three-fourths of it goes to government or gas. There are more and more things we are not allowed to do, allowed to say.
But only people like Alanis Morisette venture to say them:

"No Smoking signs on your cigarette."

Thank you india
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment.

It is still the tail-end of Canada Day.

We have produced an Alanis Morisette, but I get the spookiest feeling that one day her lyrics will be censored, and her songs will be burned.

But probably not.

We are allowed, so far to protest, to write.

But increasingly, only about certain proscribed things.

You can be angry, but only about government-approved anger.

What if a form of cancer is catching and no one dares tell.



EA Monroe said...

As always an excellent post wiht excellent observations. The Supreme Court has been doing a number on civil rights in America this past week. It's a sad day I think. But, one good thing! I look for more "watergate" scandals to emerge... maybe too little to late though. Maybe not?

Woody Guthrie might be arrested as a terrorist today's America! ~Liz

EA Monroe said...

Opps -- "with" (Mercury retrograde and I can't type!) said...

Hi Liz,

I absolutely loved your Window Through Time blog.
If I ever get my tech smarts back, I'll see if I can properly reprint it here so it'll get more air time.

Right now, nothing is working over here. Mercury retrograde, yes and the full moon bangs on.

I can't tie shoelaces, have lost my apartment keys and have panic attacks that can't be the mere result of drinking a case of beer.

Here's hoping it's just a hangover.
...Or is this just the price we pay for blogging first,blogging before we are fully awake, blogging in our pyjamas, one hand in our pocket and the other looking for the car keys?

I know you too are under the sign of Cancer. We are moon children.

Well, well well
Hoo dat callin'

Yes, Woody Guthrie would be on no-fly lists and the FBI would be on his case right now.
There is a lot of controversy about the new Republican candidate, Ron Paul, from Philadelphia.
From what I've heard him say, he seems to be more genuine than either Hillary or Barack.
...And I'm a Democrat at heart.


Donnetta Lee said...

Oh, yes, Ivan. I certainly can identify with the lyrics.


The whole world is hungry. Hungry for different nutritents in different places-but hungry none the less.

I fear we are moving into weightlessness sometimes.

And I know the panic attacks. Overwhelmed.

Things will get better. Tomorrow.

Donnetta said...

Into a Woodstock mode.


I sincerely hope things will get better tomorrow.


Sienna said...

Is your birthday coming up too Ivan? *We are moon children*...meaning you and Liz?

Happy Birthday to you if is, and hey, happy birthday even if we have missed it..

Alanis is brillant (born June 1st 1974)

Hank Williams (Sept 17th 1923)'em

Funny isn't it how we all march to our different drums...time and space and achievements

Great stuff Ivan, I lose my car keys all the time...just means we have more important things on our mind.....spinning jumping firing neurons cannot be tamed or trained, it's all good.


Josie said...

Make no mistake, censorship is alive and well in Canada. It's called political correctness, and it has stilted everyone's speech. said...

Thanks Pam.
Birthday is this week.
Good timing.
Yours coming up too?
My son just called and a colleauge just sent an e-card saying there are only two decisions, a twelve-pack or a six pack...cute!
That is so heartening about the keys.
Made my morning.

Ivan said...


Yes. Our freedom of speech is supposed to be guaranteed by the Charter, but it seems that you have to write to the Committee on the Charter so they can tell you what in tarnation they mean. Sort of paternal.
Always the Catch 22.

Ivan said...

Pictures of Pam.
And the heartbreakingly beautiful animals.
All in a tableau full of sky and sunsets.
A master painter would go into raptures.

Ivan said...

What's with Blogger?

My last comment was intended for Pam's (Sienna's) site and it pinged back on me.
Oh well. Mean it.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I think this is a very thoughtful post. When you refer to the camps in WWII, do you mind me asking what your circumstances were at that time?

islandgrovepress said...

My father was a freed slave labourer at the war's end (he did some time in a concentration camp for disobedience) and my mother, sister and I were lucky enough to somehow join him, having gone through three fronts in our native Ukraine. We lost house and fields.

The family was interened in a series of Displaced Persons camps until my father was lucky enough to be accepted as a Canadian immigrant. To go back would have been to accept Communism, in which event everything would have been lost anyway.


benjibopper said...

from such savage atavistic depths come the joseph hellers, kurt vonneguts, william burroughses, and even the harper lees.

hank williams savagery was more internal, no? 'i'm so lonesome i could cry' has to be the saddest song ever written.

i wonder how much of modern censorship comes not from government but from culture, i.e. artists are perhaps afraid to speak the gritty hard truth in the face of this brave and happy happy always happy world that is usually publicized for the masses.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for sharing. Have you been back or have you thought of revisiting Ukraine now that communism has fallen? I cannot imagine what it took to live and to survive the passing of the fronts during the war. said...

All points well taken, Benjibopper.
I worry about that smiley face telling you to have a nice day.

Ivan said...


My brother-in-law went back for a visit. Oddly, our house still stands there and it is empty.

Brother-in-law reports that poor Ukraine is something of a third world country. Everybody is educated but few can find work.


EA Monroe said...

Happy Birthday, Ivan!

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. We'll all be firing off our "Weapons of Mass Destruction!" But, with all the rain they might be duds! said...

Happy birthday week to you Liz,

I notice some important New York writers are looking at your site.


Ivan said...

Replacement paperwork says July 3rd for me.
But old Momma says it was July 7, Saturday.
You're probably celebrating this weekend too.
July 2 for you, July 7th for me.
And how happy we will be.


benjibopper said...


don't fear the face, he's just feeling groovy because all his clothes come cheap at the vintage store.

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, you get to celebrate two birthdays -- replacement paper birthdays and the one your mom says is your birthday!! said...

Allen Ginsburg used to buy all his clothes at the Salvation Army and the second-hand stores.
That I share with him

...But as for the talent...

There is a supermarket in California! Think I'll go see if I can find some.

Ivan said...

Whoops. That should be spelled Ginberg, and yes, Liz, I kind of do celebrate two birthdays. :)


benjibopper said...

you and me both. love ginsberg - howl on.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Ahh, Ivan. I can only say that I am truly amazed the we haven't turned on ourselves and become communists already.

On public access the ther night was a film about a gathering of protestors that got a permit to stand outside a building the President and others would be attending a "meeting" in. These people were peaceful. Simply standing there with signs contesting this so-called meeting. To make it short, by the time the protest was over many were hurt and even more pepper sprayed, just as painful. All so those men couldn't hear the protest which was legally permitted against them.

Ha! Listen to that, legally permitted. Last time I checked we were free, maybe not. said...


"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked..."

There is also another work I'd like to quote from at some length, beginning with:

Aardvark: A small African mammal...


Ivan said...


I guess they got to Cindy Sheehan as well.


JR's Thumbprints said...

No jagged little pills for me. I'd much prefer an apple. Fiona Apple that is. Her music is much more appealing. said...

Ah well.
Alanis plays piano too.

Beware of gorgeous women offering apples.
Especially to garden keepers.

Poor Fiona was raped at thirteeen.
No wonder the pathos in the music and in her MTV speech.

Ivan said...

p.s. to JR.

You got so many pics of your fishing trips on your blog, JR's Thumbprints.

I've just put up my own fish picture in a new blog (up today)

Eat your heart out! :)


Trevor Record said...

Hmm, Alanis Morisette an anti-fascist? I'd never thought of her that way I guess.

The thing with censorship and the degradation of rights is that anyone who stands against it is labelled all manner of terrible things. And not by the government, either. Just regular folks and the media.

If you want to stand up for freedom - the real kind, the kind that you can't peel off in sticker form from the back of your box of cereal - that means printing cartoons with muhammed wearing a bomb as a turban. It means siding with racists, flag-burners, chauvanists, pornographers, gun freaks, religious nut jobs, junkies and stoners. And just by saying all those people above should be able to say, think, and do whatever they feel like... Everyone automatically assumes that you are all those things mentioned above and more.

(Well that's my self-righteous libertarian tirade for the day.) said...


You left out alien kitten-eaters from outer space. :)

Like many another romantic, I sometimes hear more than the band is playing.
Alanis' lyrics aren't especially political.

I'm just very upset about Canada's non-action in the Air India bombing and was struck by a couple of lines in Alanis' song.


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