Segarini: The Wall

The Wall has different meanings for different people. There is one in China that can be seen from outer space. There is the one on Facebook where the graffiti of your life and the lives of your friends can be shared instantly.  There is the one that marathon participants hit when they just can’t run anymore. And there’s the one that is part of the legacy of a somewhat vague and pretentious British rock band whose lasting popularity is based on its musical dexterity and lyrics that can be interpreted to suit whatever the listener chooses to believe. Then there is my Wall. The one I hit almost every time I sit down to write.

Writing is not the easiest way to communicate. It is difficult to convey sarcasm, nuance, and other easily verbalized inflections, yet we are a culture that has chosen to text, tweet, email, and instant message, instead of pick up the phone and call someone or engage in a face to face conversation. We go to clubs and bars where the music is so loud verbal communication is next to impossible. A family of 4 can be in the same room, but with mom on the laptop wishing someone happy birthday by writing on their wall on Facebook, dad chatting with his buds on a fantasy football site, Jr. playing Warcraft with his friends, and sis texting her BFFs, they might as well be on 4 different mountains on 4 different continents.

Communicating the way we do has all but destroyed grammar, punctuation, and spelling. We write in a kind of goof-ball shorthand most of the time. If you get any snail mail these days, it is a bill, a flyer, or a postcard. Very few of us write letters anymore, which is probably a good thing. Most of us have trouble with ‘there, their, and they’re’, ‘to, too, and two’, and the always popular, ‘your, yore, and you’re. Is it ‘here, here’, or ‘hear, hear’?  And when is it ‘its’ and not ‘it’s’? Most of us get away with these mistakes because no one cares if you use the wrong word anymore. The vast majority of us would fail an 8th grade English class…if they still really taught English. How far do you think LOL, L8R would get you in a pop quiz?

Because we have become so acclimated to getting our information in short bursts these days, reading is in as much trouble as writing.  People tend to glean whatever information they think they are reading, rather than fully understanding the words. We skim. We glance. We see the words we think are important and dismiss the rest. We are, for some inexplicable reason, in a hurry; swallowing the words whole instead of chewing on them and getting their full flavours, their full meanings. Words are written and read without context. How many times have you read a wall post in your Facebook newsfeed that says something like “I hate that!” with no indication of what the fuck ‘that’ is?

Over the years I have discovered that eloquence in speaking or writing falls prey to the opinion that anyone who speaks well or writes well is pulling a fast one. Silver Tongued Devils using words to corrupt, or sway, or manipulate us into believing whatever it is they’re on about. The unwarranted and slightly paranoid belief that anyone who can express themselves so clearly, so engagingly, must be up to no good. That opinion runs rampant in our culture, the same culture that is perfectly at home with believing cancer can be cured by eating a radish every 20 minutes, Elvis is still alive and owns a gas station in Rome, Georgia, and all Republicans have a secret headquarters where they meet every Wednesday under the stairs at an Akron, Ohio Hooters and eat their young…because they read it on Facebook or Twitter. Then, to add insult to injury, they ask us to repost or re-tweet their information or make it our ‘status’. And you wonder why I drink.

When I first started writing these columns (for FYIMusic) back in February of 2009, I couldn’t wait to sit down in front of the laptop. I wrote 3 columns a week without breaking a sweat for 2 years. It was easy and it was fun. I wrote about my life in music, in radio, and just my life in general. I wrote about stuff I love, like television, comic books, movies and food. I still do. But now almost every time I sit down in front of the computer, I hit The Wall.

I am terrified I will sound like an idiot. I am afraid I will so screw up the punctuation or use the wrong word or miss a typo that you will think I’m typing with my elbows while driving. I am afraid I will be boring…and I am afraid I will repeat myself or, worse yet, fail to come up with something to write about, or repeat myself.

Much of what plagues me these days is in my frustration with so many things. I obsess about the public’s inability to differentiate between popular and good. I fret about people’s inability to communicate honestly and simply with one another. I am troubled that pertinent information goes unshared. I am saddened by the fact that violence and rage are implemented by the hopelessly insecure (and we are all insecure to a degree, the connective tissue that makes us human) more than dialogue and diplomacy, and I am disappointed that discourse is a lost art, more often than not just the opening salvo to an argument that ends in name calling or worse. I am disgusted by the lack of common sense in our leaders and ourselves, and I am frightened by how easily we accept mediocrity as good enough, and celebrity as a goal. All of this just gives me the blahs.

I am tired of tip-toeing around the fact that most of what you hear on the radio is premeditated shit. I am weary of hearing how shitty today’s music is when in fact today’s music is miraculous, it is just not as easy to find as it used to be. I am sick and tired of the guiding lights of the entertainment industries who insist that we are criminals for embracing the present while they continue to champion a past that has no place in today’s world. Mostly, I am just plain fed up with personal agendas, greed, and bullheaded misanthropes who punish innovation and creativity and reward conformity and superficiality. I’m tired of those to whom passion and talent are mere buzzwords with no real meaning behind them at all, hollow praise to describe that which has no passion, those who possess no talent, as though saying it will make it so.

I know this feeling will pass. It has before, and it will again. And when it does my sense of humour will return, the wall will dissipate, and writing will once again become easy and fun. Until then…fuck…I really don’t have anything to say.


Segarini’s column appears every Monday

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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now sadly gone), and now provides content for with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

11 Responses to “Segarini: The Wall”

  1. Then I guess you reeeeally don’t wanna know about Lana Del Rey.

    • The problem is I DO know about Lana Del Rey. That’s why her Billboard cover is there with Drake’s, an actor playing a rapper on the world stage.
      Why do we know about these two products at all? Oh. Right. They’re popular.

  2. “Narrator: The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.”

    Author Unknown in Idiocracy

    I, too, despair. January always drives me to anger. Idiots make me see red, the inanity of politics both maddens and saddens me, and the cultural insanity of style over substance makes me reel. Worse, bullheaded selfishness and airy fairy new age-isms make me nauseous.

    Thank heavens for the new season on TV – it at least distracts the mind enough to make it through to warmer weather. Life’s almost bearable when you’re sipping a cool beer on a warm patio.

    Think positively, Bob. We’ll both be dead before the assholes are in charge.



  3. Jim Chisholm in Campbell River Says:

    Hi Bob . . . it’s not the end of the world yet. I share your frustrations with all the crap and ” shit that doesn’t work.” (My phone and internet provider just sent me a new modem to replace the one they delivered to me little more than a month ago and now I have to get on the phone with someone from somewhere that they are having monsoons [real ones, not just the usual West Coast rain] and try to make the piece of shit work.) What was I saying . . . oh yeah. Keep up the great writing. You make writer’s block sound exciting. Anyway, I have hope these days because I think I remember you said you were going to record some songs in the new year. I hope that’s for real. How’s my grammar and puctuation today?

  4. Stan W Miczek Says:

    Bob, you write so eloquently that some might think you’re pulling a fast one, and please, what kind of ropes are “bullheaded misanthropes?”
    As far as kids, grammar and punctuation go, it seems to me that anything further than grade 2 Math doesn’t exist anymore!
    It is possible that previous use of a coca product produces those fears you mentioned in your writing however perhaps you can follow the lead of Bob Ray and the Liberal Party and roll one, as supposedly it enhances creativity! (lol)

  5. I, for one, have never wondered why you drink, just why you don’t drink more.

  6. Bob, I have always thought of you as an exceptional songwriter. I now realize your talent as a WRITER. Your comment about the lack of common sense really hit home. That has been one of my biggest complaints for as long as I can remember. As a society we have now embraced style over substance. Good grammar and correct spelling are becoming a lost art.
    \As musicians and people who love music we are constantly shooting our collective selves in the foot. Musicians generally have the same goal as ever. We want to write and record original music and be successful in doing so. But…if someone has a huge hit and achieves commercial success they become unpopular because they have “sold out”. Good music is good music whether it becomes popular or not. Commercial success shouldn’t be the kiss of death. For example, Lady Gaga is outrageous, pretentious, and her “style?” is over the top. But if you look beyond all the mindless glitz she is actually a very talented musician/singer/songwriter. Her persona has made her unpopular with “serious” musicians.
    My ex used to say that I was trying to trick her with fancy words when all I was trying to do was express my opinion as accurately as possible. She didn’t get it. Still doesn’t.
    But I digress….
    Keep up the good work Bob. Your writing style is interesting and compelling enough to keep my interest, even if you are writing about your frustrations with writing. Eventually you will find a way around…or over..the aforementioned “wall”.

    • Stan W Miczek Says:

      Today’s Lady Gaga reminds me of the early 60’s , Young Street Toronto and a flamboyant performer ….Jackie Shayne at the Coq-d’or!(I think that’s the way you spell it!)

  7. Awww Bobby, are you having a bad day? Cheer up, my sweet, You have to admit that we lived our young lives during the best and most tumultulous years of all history. Everything our generation did was passionate and talented. Fashion, music, films and social attitudes were spun and driven by our desires and causes. We changed the world, we baby boomers, we really did. There is a saying that I like: “Some people live their lives like they watch TV, they are not enjoying what they are watching but they are too lazy to get up to change the channel” You my dear have never been too lazy to change the channel. And when you change the channel you do it with flair and finesse. Might I add that you and I lived in that wild and wacky time to the deepest depth and the highest high. No wonder you are aghast at the “popular” chic today, no one, no time period in history, no culture can equal the vivacious changes that occured in our lifetimes.

  8. Dial Twister Says:

    Stop reading my mind, Bob. You’re scaring me.

    If your writing gets much better, we’re going to have to start taking you seriously. 😉

  9. If there is anything that growing old is teaching me, Bob, it’s why grumpy old men are grumpy… and that I am fast becoming one.

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