Update: Did Not Actually Get Eaten By NYC

Kinda fell off again there awhile.
My bad.

I’ve a few months worth of distance from my trip now, which wipes away some of the gloss and the fog and adds a nice layer of perspective; still wouldn’t trade it all for anything. I definitely wouldn’t want to live in New York, but damn if I don’t want to get my work there in the near future.

The rest of the trip after the Day One recovery was split between museums, galleries, endless walking around Brooklyn and Downtown, more than a few instances of nearly getting lost, a passerby politely offering to sell me coke in the Village after a night of live jazz (and holy fuck the jazz!), conversations with total strangers in a cinema bar, and Hamilton.

There’s still nothing I can really say about Hamilton. They have all the words on that stage. I have none. I didn’t mob the theatre doors after the show angling for an autograph, but I did manage to snag an extra copy of the program, which I mailed to my grandfather, who’d always wanted a bonafide piece of New York city. Well, now you do.

After making the trek back, I stumbled right into the final rehearsals for my own show. Smaller black-box theatre, small cast, beautiful folks. Our run came and went and it felt good to be back in the thick of things. Cut to several months later and the summer is riding high, new projects are cooking along on all burners and I’m about ready to shuffle off from the city again for awhile. Instead of heading back to the grimy glorious heart of America, however, I’m aiming straight for the middle of nowhere, where I’ll have the time and the opportunity to stare out across an empty expanse of stick-thin trees and open gravel roads without hearing a single damn siren unless someone’s fireworks show gets really out of hand.

More to follow. Coffee now.

North Van Adventures, January 2016

There’s a bone-white piano lingering on the skeletal steps of a two-story home hugging the curb next to a car cleaners, a Shell station and a block of Lego-brick luxury condos snapping higher every month.

Chartered busses bearing bearded boarders haul them from hostels heavenward on clouds of leftover cocaine from the last DJ set from that brokenjaw East Van special, six Saturdays and a Sunday thrumming arpeggios on their heartstrings, waiting for the day gravity finally pulls its pants on, catches up, and force-feeds them black diamonds of their own making.

The air feels less encumbered here, doesn’t carry notes of rush-hour arguments, alley-piss accents, staccato secondhand cigs. Instead, if you breathe deep enough, hold it just so on the tip of your tongue, you can pluck out an older strain, mountain-filtered, in stone tones that says

“Oh.

You’re still here?”

Five Rituals

One, the alarm clockbeaten bloody and blue.

I keep diving back in ten-minute attempts

to recapture the high of dreaming

something for the first time.

It just leave me groggy

but I’ll never learn.
Two, the coffee. Four minutes to steep

give or take. The tiny timer that accompanied

the french press took a swan dive off the countertop

during a house party. Now it just blinks

a nonstop series of eights at me,

occasionally chirping for no reason.

One milk. One sugar. Stir.
Three, the news. On a screen. Over breakfast.

Bombings and bad news stuck between

clickbait and cat videos so close together

they start to blur.

“You won’t believe how many refugees

fleeing certain death in Syria scrap by

just by following this one weird trick!”

I used to read the news for inspiration,

now it’s another bad habit

like my coffee addiction, or telling the truth

at the wrong times.
Four, the walk to the station, past houses

that have glimpsed a century through weary windows,

under twisted Tim Burton trees crawling skywards

like slow lightning in reverse. Same route every time. 

Round the corner of the coffee shop, a breath of fresh grounds

bleeding into half smoked cigarettes, the wet fur of dogs

Waiting patiently, throwing side glances

at the produce stands outside the next-door grocer 

Quietly praying dog prayers for a runaway tomato. 
Five, the train. 

I always take the last car. 

Couldn’t explain it if I tried. 

Cynicalcity Living

When you live in a city of two million and change
You get asked for change an awful lot.
People will concoct the wildest plots to get
into your pockets,
slam together slivers of stories to get
slim nickels and dimes,
and thats okay;
that’s just the state of the nation.
It’s not perfect, but you learn to live with it.

But then you get blindsided
by a little old lady
on the westbound train to Lougheed
who’d just gotten out of the hospital
after muggers attacked her and her daughter
with acid, swapping scars
for purses and shopping bags.

And while her daughter’s still under doctoral care
she’s out in the open, paper hands clasping
prescription pages, nervously feeling
the hospital bracelet, you hear her voice
break like china when she asks if there’s
anything you could spare
to help her get home.

And you do,
because you’ve still got a little
small town innocence left.
Maybe you even still assume the best in people,
that liars never look you in the eye
when fabricating fables, it’s a hard and fast rule
like how if you don’t move a muscle
a T Rex won’t make you an appetizer.

And after the lady stumbles off the skytrain
the doors close, train rumbles on
you start to think;
why didn’t I give her more?
I could’ve jumped off at the station, hit the ATM
made sure she had cab fare and then some.
And then the harder voices
caw and murmer
“But what if you just got got?
What if that was some of the most
masterful storyspinning we’ve
ever glimpsed?
It was worth a few dollars, but
it isn’t worth your heart.”

And that’s the point that sticks
the hardest in the ribs.
I’m not sure which is worse;
the idea that I just got played
like a cheap accordion in a travelling show,
or the notion that someone out there
would throw acid at someone’s grandmother
for a couple purses
and an Aldo shoe box.

Pyramid

A Spoken Word Short Film by Andy Garland
Produced by Starlise Waschuk and Curtis Lum

A Savvy Star/ Curtis Lum production
Created/ Narrated by Andy Garland
Choreographed by Starlise Waschuk
Cinematography by Gregory J. Brown
Assistant Director: Johnson Phan
Grip: Parya Pourkarimi
Costumes: Kathi Moore & Christina Dietterle
Makeup: Hana al amrani & Jackie Bloxom
Catering: Phoebe Hou
Behind the Scenes: Darren Hopwood
Special thanks to Max Cohen @ The Permanent

Starring: Andy Garland, Curtis Lum, Starlise Waschuk, Jay Schreiber, Siona Gareau-Brennan, Alissa Hansen, Massimo Frau, Kyle Christensson, Aimee Stolte Groves, Kelsey Ranshaw, Ross McKeachie, Jameson Trenholm, Tristan Shire, “T Swagg”

Fireworks. Everywhere.

Jan31_Fireworks

The side street lights up as a spinning wheel of noise and colour gets hurled onto the pavement by a man with a horses head.

His friends loiter by the tennis court, on the playground, clutching half-empty brown-bagged concoctions,
slanted-walks in soda bottles.
Some didn’t even bother to dress up.

The rattle and snap goes on for blocks and blocks
the last few young Halloweeners finishing up their runs
as the taller, darker things eat up the night
howling at passing busses,
wailing into cellphones
losing a heel and losing their minds.

You’re out there, somewhere
wandering through the heady Pacific mist
and the remains of roman candles
masked, but never sinister.
And if our paths crossed in bottomless alleys
I’d overshout the burning schoolhouses
spit a stream of joyful sparks
set this whole dried-up deadleaf pile
ablaze.

Fog Rolling

20131020-235158.jpg

There’s been a fog lingering over my neighbourhood the past few days like a bad houseguest, the kind who’s still loitering on the couch when you wake, who says he’ll go out in the afternoon and try to find a job and maybe he does but he’s really just biding his time until he comes rolling back in with the evening, confounding your best arguments with doublespeak and a fridge full of beer and Hey Man Can I Get Your WiFi Password?

I remember the fog in Victoria, mere weeks before my inevitable fiery implosion, where myself and a friend wandered the mist-laden soccer fields and haunted parks in search of the all-night Tim Hortons because we were broke and my poor dinner of perogies and perogies really weren’t the kind of fare one should solely subsist off, let alone offer to company. The streetlights were willowisps and the rare passing car was a rider in the night bearing ill tidings, leaves bowed and crumpled underfoot and you couldn’t lay a hand anywhere that wasn’t heavy with the dew. Far, far away, you could still hear a gull yowling out for it’s companions, and closer still were the dull scratchings of raccoons clawing at the edges of the bins like serial killers scraping against the car doors with meat hooks.

October dissolves. Rehearsals progress despite setbacks. A venue is emerging as a strong candidate for Deadmonton’s first home. Despite the time demanded, I can’t help but multitask even though I lack the brainpower for it. Part of me still feels like I’ve failed to deliver on a larger work so I’m working on a new play now, a full-length mashup of Vancouver grime and Greco Roman Mythology, a play that sparked from a single bitter text I sent to the same friend who had wandered through the fog with me in Victoria.

“There isn’t enough liquor in this city to drink her off my mind.”

…but what if there was?