15.7.15

"So Why Can't I Forgive These Buildings, These Frameworks Labeled Home?"

Apparently The Weakerthans recently broke up. I freakin' loved those guys. Few bands could write catchy tunes in which the relationships we have with batteries from smoke alarms, rent checks, faded plastic flowers, bus routes, old birthday cards, and christmas lights could serve as the lyrics to illustrate the broader metaphors of quotidian daily struggles like grappling with relationships, heartbreak, growing up, growing old, moving away from home, and moving back home. JKS' politics were unsurprisingly solid, too, raising money and awareness for left of left social causes and writing a petition to get a legendary First Nations hockey player inducted into the hall of fame. An ostensible publicity stunt, to be sure, but a closer read reveals the act to be a cultural intervention to demand one of Canada's oldest institutions appreciate and celebrate the under discussed diversity of folks who collectively contribute to a country, a province, a city. And make no doubt about it, The Weakerthans were not just apologetically Canadian; they were from Winnipeg, and every ounce of their music belligerently announced exactly how their prairie-turned-oil-field hometown, for better or worse, made them exactly who they were today. Samson's solo album a few years ago was called "Provincial," and as I grapple with my complicated love/hate relationship with the once humdrum midsized town undergoing rapid change of my own I call home, I never felt like anyone captured the multifaceted relationship one could have with a community, a collection of buildings and people, a relationship of love and duty and frustration and sadness and admiration and fear of outgrowing the only place you've ever truly felt at home in, a confusing sense of satisfaction and restlessness associated from learning the face of every bartender and barista in town, quite like the Weakerthans. "The small town that you live and die in," they would sing, with an odd mix of derision and appreciative nobility for the humble, conservative notion of placing roots, growing community, collecting shoeboxes of photographs. Reading about this big freakin' earthquake that's apparently just minutes away from striking and destroying everything and everyone I love, I've actually found myself thinking of the Winnipeg's and their pronounced provincialism, wondering how my own sense of obligation to the community that made me has shaped how I'll consider where and how I'll call myself a member of a community moving forward.

To end with the quote from Canadian Poet Aldan Nowlan, used by the Weakerthans as the album dedication that they used in their album lining:
“For those who belong nowhere, and for those who belong to one place too much to belong anywhere else.”

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