The storm that was dubbed “the knife” buried Buffalo’s suburbs under record breaking tons of snow. People literally had snow packed over their doors and cars were completely gone. At least 13 people died due to the storm and many more faced adversity.

The band Interpol was trapped on their tour bus for 40 hours, on their way to a gig in Toronto. I thought it was crazy to see one of my favorite bands tweeting about being trapped in Buffalo and surviving on Vodka and dry foods. My city was trending for all the wrong reasons. Our NFL team, The Buffalo Bills even had to move their scheduled game against the NY Jets to Detroit due to the snow.

It’s bizarre how the snow fell in a line just south of the city, didn’t even effect where I am at all (the ground is now bare) but three miles away people are still buried under state of emergency amounts of snow. I’m a member of the Buffalo-based Stripteasers Burlesque troupe and last night, we played a show in our hometown, in the part of the city that wasn’t hit hard.

buffalo stripteasers burlesque
The show did go on: Buffalo Stripteasers Burlesque

It’s a difficult thing to have a show while there is such a disaster so close by. How can we entertain when such serious situations are all around us? My initial thought was to party on in honor of our homies who couldn’t get out, it was impossible earlier in the week. We actually cancelled two shows this week, sadly one of which was to benefit the food bank of Western New York, but totally had a show last night that was a huge success and broke the cabin fever.

We still have at least one Stripteaser that is housebound and may miss the show we have planned for tomorrow night but hopefully is all set for the huge show we have planned for Tuesday. As long as they can get into Buffalo we have a burlesque performer coming into town from Tasmania and a vaudeville couple from New Orleans coming in to join us for a special Thanksgiving spectacular at Nietzsches.

As the driving bans are lifted, so is spirit of our beautiful city. Today I am going to venture into ground zero to finally get a chance to help my parents dig out.

One thing about Buffalo that has always impressed me was the sense of community and how people band together in a time of need. We aren’t called the city of good neighbors for nothing. Buffalonians know how to love each other in the eye of the storm.

As a performer I think it is important to keep calm and carry on with the show. The string band on the Titanic played as the ship went down. People who dug themselves out of deep white abyss deserve to see some burlesque in much the same way.

* Top image via Reddit

Irene versus the St-Laurent Street Fair in Montreal

As the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene pounded Montreal this past Sunday, I hunkered down in my apartment. Listening to the winds blow and the rain fall, I thought to myself: “I should really close the living room window, my roommate’s XBox is getting wet.”

If you were expecting my rainy day thoughts to be something more profound or at the very least profound-ish sounding and dealing with the nature of nature and its relationship to our very unnatural culture, well, that’s not the case here. And why should it be?

Yeah, I had been outside earlier in the day. I had felt slightly stronger-than-usual winds press up against me as I ran some errands. I witnessed the closest thing my neighbourhood got to destruction: near desolation at the St-Laurent Street Fair which had been buzzing with people the day earlier. I had my interesting and relevant pic to post to Facebook (of the aforementioned desolate street fair) and I heard the   complaints from people as they entered my apartment. I had had my fill of Irene.

Apparently, New York City had had their fill as well, and it wasn’t anything close to the catastrophe the media had been predicting. Just a smattering of downed trees, power outages and a bit of flooding. When I turned on the news, I discovered that there were some downed trees and power outages in Montreal as well. That sucked, but I was fine and I fell asleep.

The next morning, I learned on Democracy Now that things weren’t so pretty in Vermont, a state known for its natural beauty almost as much as it’s known for progressive politics. There was massive flooding. There were power outages everywhere. Historic covered bridges that had survived the previous great storm of 1927 simply got swept away by the waters.

This wasn’t a story on the larger corporate media outlets until Monday evening. In fact, coverage of the aftermath of the storm’s very real and still lasting effects seems to have dwindled. Instead we get stories about Michele Bachmann saying that Irene was God’s way of telling the US congress to get the economy in order.

Now I’m all for stories that expose some of the Republican contenders for president as the nutjobs that they are (she later claimed her statement was a joke, kind of like her campaign for president), but I think a better thing to cover would be the ongoing mass protest in front of the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline that’s supposed to transport tar sands oil from Alberta to the US.

Don’t get me wrong, the media has mentioned the protest, celebrities going to the slammer will do that. But pretty much all of the coverage has dealt with the close to 600 arrests and not the issue at hand. It is also not being linked at all to coverage of Irene. As far as I can tell, only independent media like the aforementioned Democracy Now mentioned the two in the same breath.

While there have been huge storms and hurricanes before, this one seems a little different. The destruction in northern areas seems considerably more rough and widespread to the point that it’s easy to wonder just how much affect a changing climate had on it.

While it may be easy to wonder and speculate a link between climate change and Irene, I don’t think many will. Just as the storm’s destruction is happening, for many of us, myself included, elsewhere. Very close to home in some cases, but still elsewhere.

Climate change is also happening elsewhere and unless something affects us directly and in a major way, there’s a strong chance that we may ignore it and go about what we’re doing. If it was like that for me last Sunday, it can be like that for you, too, not to mention for politicians and those in a position to directly do something about the situation.

Unless we start realizing that elsewhere could be here very soon and thinking about what we can do right now, things will get worse outside. Until then, we’ll just close the window. At least the Xbox won’t get wet.

Good Monday morning. It is the middle of the month, the ides of November. My Roommate, band mate and brother by choice turns 45 today, so, Happy Birthday to Steve   P. Frasier!

Now, on with the rant…

Es tu, snow?

Is it just me or is it starting to get cold and wet outside and why does it seem to be getting dark a lot earlier than it should be? The reason is because at this time of year, the earth’s axis points away from the sun, so we get less radiation. Precipitation begins to get colder until it starts to freeze. Then the truly evil season comes upon us. Things begin to die off, many go into hibernation and my car gets a constant salt bath, causing rust.

The cold makes pains harsher and causes shrinkage in places like the bladder. It is now very heavily taxing on the system of most people here and as a result, diseases begin to manifest themselves with a much stronger level of severity. It’s no coincidence that more people die from natural causes at the beginning of winter than at any other time of year.

Winter is a harsh season. It is also an expensive season, seeing as we need to spend much fuel and electric power simply to heat our homes and businesses. We also must spend money and labour to winterize our homes and vehicles. Winter is a time of greater pollution as well, for various reasons.

I know, it’s still autumn. Retailers are only just beginning to put the deliberately annoying annual forced feed and suppository showcasing of their greed and   avarice into play. I will, no doubt, have the same annoyed rant about it that I do every year.

Maybe if I was a skier, but I’m not one. I was soured on skiing in elementary school. If I skated, but my ankles can’t take the pressure of skates without causing me pain. I don’t like pain. I also don’t like shoveling snow, scraping windows, or slippery sidewalks.

Of course, I was born in the middle of winter. I’m told I was born during a very severe snowstorm, one that other later snowstorms have been compared to.

Enough about that for now.

I have noticed that in sometimes laying bare my insecurities, I make myself appear weak and a sorry excuse for a human being. I find that I sometimes use the internet and my rant column on Forget The Box as a sort of psychologist’s couch, except without any kind of confidentiality agreement. In fact, I sometimes slander myself and not always with positive return.

It’s true   that I can be quite pessimistic at times, but when the glass is empty, don’t tell me that you think it’s full. It’s full all right. Full of nothing but the air in the room. Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes one is forced to sacrifice the things that are most meaningful in favour of something frivolous and superficial, benefiting someone else exclusively.

I almost forgot to mention that the box is empty, so Forget the Box.   Forget the Box is having a fundraiser party on November 20th at club Vegas in the Plateau Mont-Royal. Come, donate, buy beer and donate some more. Forget the Box needs your support, as do all of the people involved who do this as a labour of love, on a voluntary basis. For those of you in the Montreal area, please support local alternative and new media, particularly grass roots organizations such as Forget the Box (you can also donate using PayPal). Thank you for your continued support.

As I sit on my couch contemplating what to write in my gently roasting living room, the temperature has reached a balmy 40 degrees Celsius with humidity.   With the sweat leaking from my forehead, despite the fans blowing in my direction, I had a thought: when there is nothing else to say, talk about the weather.

As the summer of 2010 slowly comes to an end, I find it hard to remember a warmer summer than the one we’ve experienced this season.   After the last couple of days of record breaking temperatures I’m about ready to welcome winter with open arms.   Judging by all the heat waves and wildfires we’ve seen this summer in Quebec, Russia, Bolivia and elsewhere, I’d say the rest of the world is ready to welcome winter as well.

I’m not about to chalk up a couple of heat waves to global warming, just as I wouldn’t try to deny global warming because of a snow storm in February, but I get the feeling that the Earth has a fever.   In fact, if the earth was a human head its forehead would be sweating profusely as much as mine.

The two largest countries in the world are both situated in the uppermost part of the northern hemisphere and both have experienced their warmest seasons on record this year.

Mind if I smoke? The Big O drenched in smoke from Quebec wildfires in late May

Canada came off its warmest and driest winter in its history with an average temperature 4 degrees Celsius above normal.   The warm dry weather continued into the late spring causing over fifty different forest fires in Quebec, some of which are still burning.   Fires also affected B.C. and Alberta in July and August.   About 290,000 hectares of forest were burned in British Columbia by August 23rd, about three times more than the average.

In Russia, the hottest summer in their history (an average temperature 5 degrees Celsius above normal) has led to a direr situation.   Starting in late July, twenty-eight regions were under a state of emergency due to crop failures caused by drought and seven regions because of wildfires.   At one point in early August there were more than eight hundred fires burning at a time, many of them around Moscow.   During that same time period an average of seven hundred people were dying everyday from smoke and heat.

A Russian man stands near one of hundreds of forest fires

I’m no scientist; I can’t tell you that this is a definitive sign of global warming, but when two large countries that contain a majority of the North Pole have simultaneous record breaking hot streaks such as these… I have to wonder.