A Hell of a Year End for Heroes

Leonard Cohen Quote

It’s not December yet, but it feels like the end of the year 2016. Closing a chapter in cultural history and saying goodbye to heroes who made life worth living.

I thought about writing memorial posts, celebrating each life, but I kept changing my mind. I have two major projects I still need to finish and they take my full concentration. It’s been such a hellish year that I lost track. Then I checked. I haven’t published new material since May. May? It’s only been since May? I thought it was longer. So then I realized…

I have all the time in the world.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, that’s when I really started to get into music. When all my female classmates were gushing about the New Kids on the Block, I was looking around to see if anyone else listened to Skinny Puppy or Black Flag. I was influenced by people outside of school and much older than me. Outside of school, I felt like the youngest and finally starting to catch up. In school, I felt like the oldest, waiting for everyone else to catch up to me.

In retrospect, I realize I was a bit vain, but then, aren’t all pre-teens? Rhetorical question.

In 1991, I watched Hardware with friends for the first time. Someone in the group pointed out (literally, with a jabbing finger at the TV screen), “That’s Lemmy!” Who? I had listened to Motorhead so many times at that point, but never really took the time to remember names. Lemmy Kilmister, founder of Motorhead, played a small part in Hardware – the water taxi driver. For a low-budget film that packs a punch in a post-apocalyptic world, it was the perfect part for him.

Side note: Iggy Pop plays Angry Bob in Hardware, the radio DJ. “And now for the good news. There is NO fucking good news!” Classic. I highly recommend watching Hardware.

I grew up and came of age during a time when it was common to have a vibrant freak subculture where drag night was a regular thing and everyone went to a Rocky Horror Picture Show at local small theatres. (Toilet paper, anyone?). And this is where David Bowie is a huge influence.

He was gay without being gay. Bowie just did his own thing, consequences be damned. He blazed a path for anyone to follow. He set the bar high. See, Bowie made it okay. No one was a failure because no one could ever be weirder than David Bowie. He was a rebel, a pirate, an alien, a goblin king with an infamous bulge, an incredible artist. Then he fell to earth, and I’m still stunned by the realization that Bowie was, in fact, mortal.

At the risk of sounding self-depreciating, I’m a white girl nobody from Canada. I’m not putting myself down, merely being honest, in order to explain my appreciation for Prince. I’m a small woman, or, petite as the extremely polite would say. I don’t care. I’m just me. Prince, who created so much art and one of the few pop artists who won an Oscar, was only 5 ft 2.

He was a tiny man living in a big man’s world. For years, as an afterthought, I’d tell myself, if Prince can get away with it, so can I. Prince was a standard for me, for a long time.

I no longer have that standard, and that’s a very hard thing to accept.

By the way, I was often the only one in my group of friends who appreciated Prince. Good luck trying to explain Prince to a bunch of punks, goth rockers, and metalheads.

One of the cities I’ve lived in is Montreal. In that city, Leonard Cohen is everywhere. Everyone in Montreal has a Leonard Cohen story, so here’s mine. I lived in an apartment that was previously rented by a woman named Aviva, who happened to be one of Leonard Cohen’s former lovers. Whenever I told people my address I was always asked, “Doesn’t Aviva live there?” She was well-known and rather eccenctic, straight out of Montreal’s long-gone Bohemian art scene. And I always said, “No, Aviva doesn’t live here anymore.” I had to say that so many times I wrote a song about her called, Aviva Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, to the tune of Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen. I lost the song I wrote years ago. I never saved my many writing scribbles until 2003, which was when I started taking my writing seriously.

This blog post is all over the place. But, then, so am I.

I guess I just wanted you to know that I’m still here, fighting to survive 2016. I would love nothing more than to say, hey, it’s okay, I’m the next trail blazer, the next poet laureate, the next best thing ever.

But I won’t lie.

I don’t know my future. I don’t even know what I’m doing right now. I take things one day at time and hope for the best. I’m just… still here.

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