Category Archives: Articles

Stuart McLean did me a favour in July 2008

Upon the passing of broadcasting legend Stuart McLean, I remember the following story about an interaction I had with him:

In my first few months working on-air at CBC Radio 3 in 2008, I came up with a bit wherein I did an impression of Stuart McLean’s popular program, Vinyl Cafe, but all the stories would be boring, vaguely dysfunctional ones about my own family.

When I casually mentioned to colleagues that I’d invited Stuart to be on the episode, they all told me I was nuts. He was the biggest star in CBC Radio and I barely even worked there. Well, I asked him to do a thing and he did it. I wanted him to really lay into me for making fun of him and he was amazing. He went after me and my family with such funny ferocity that I was overwhelmed. He really enjoyed playing ‘Angry Stuart McLean’ and it was amazing.

Afterwards, he told me it was great and he loved it. Total pro and forthcoming with his time. I’d see him at the Hillside Festival from time to time after that and he was always cool. I’m so sad he’s gone. By all accounts, he was good and generous man. That was certainly my experience with him.

Here’s what the exchange between Stuart and I sounded like:

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Reviewed: On Cinema at the Cinema, Season 6, Episode 1


On Cinema at the Cinema: Season 6, Episode 1 (D-)

It’s worth noting that, at its peak, there’s no way a season of On Cinema at the Cinema would receive anything less than a perfect 10/10 or A+ rating. The show’s unique blend of film expertise and insightful conversation between host Tim Heidecker and recurring guest Gregg Turkington made it the logical heir to the classic Siskel & Ebert  series about film criticism. With the sudden and recent departure of Heidecker at the end of last season however, On Cinema has been placed in a precarious position, as evident in its bizarre season six premiere.

When Heidecker announced he was leaving the show and Hollywood for Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the end of season five, he rather begrudgingly suggested that Turkington could take over as host and that, unfortunately, is what has come to pass. There’s no disputing Turkington’s effusiveness for contemporary cinema and, at the best of times, his unassailable enthusiasm for movies and joy for life is infectious. Having said that, his first turn as On Cinema host this past week was a veritable trainwreck.

For some reason, Turkington’s own guest expert was a videotaped version of himself, appearing on a crappy VCR/TV combo mounted on top of a cardboard box. Every time the real Turkington pressed play on a remote so that he could correspond with himself or prattle on about completing his disturbing #501moviesIn501days project, it made Heidecker’s absence that much more painful to bear. That coupled with both Turkingtons delivering five-bags-of-popcorn™ reviews of Jupiter Ascending and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and an odd new segment called “Golden Age Comedies with W.C. Fields” rendered this episode useless and a disappointment.

It might be a little early in the new host’s tenure for such criticism but, as fans of On Cinema can attest, the show is nothing without Tim Heidecker’s charisma and knowledge and, for the sake of this important show, it’d be best to have him return and rein Turkington in before it’s way too late. (Adult Swim)


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Ep. #109: Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra was the lead singer of the influential punk band Dead Kennedys and has since gone on to do significant work as an actor, spoken word artist, and vocalist, as well as being the head honcho at the still busy and prolific record label, Alternative Tentacles. His first band since he left Dead Kennedys is called Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and their new album is called White People and the Damage Done, which they’re touring behind now, including stops at Call the Office in London, Ontario on June 16 and the Opera House in Toronto on June 17. Here Biafra and I discuss things like why Nardwuar the Human Serviette and I can’t pronounce Biafra, why Jello’s name came up in discussions about the Web Fast-Lane Vote spearheaded by the FCC, Guantanamo Bay and Chelsea Manning, the concept of the new album and how it delves into kleptocracy and retroactive feudalism, greed addicts, maximum wage, why “Shock-U-Py!” shows up at the end of the new album, how Jello engages with Canadian politics and our celebrity crackhead goofs, why people should stop talking about Hillary Clinton two years ahead of the election, thinking locally, why we should stop distracting ourselves, communication, reactivating our bullshit detectors, Jello has never felt alone in his thoughts and pursuits, what first turned him onto music as a kid, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Azuma Kabuki music, garage bands, the Music Machine, the Animals and Eric Burdon, Jello used to be able to sing like Robert Plant, East Bay Ray has the Dead Kennedys master tapes, Jello has nothing to do with Dead Kennedys reissues and they seem to be muting his involvement in the band, Jello is proud of Dead Kennedys and doesn’t think the rest of the band cares about the music, Jello’s theatre background in middle school, Jello can play a mean Scrooge, acting in The Hipster Games and being typecast on Portlandia, how Dead Kennedys came together in San Francisco and the emergence of hardcore, how method acting influenced Jello’s vivid lyricism, his roles in Highway 61 and Terminal City Ricochet, Jello’s very first songs were written for Dead Kennedys, why he never played in some early cover band or something, the early D.O.A. cover band Stone Crazy, how and why the GSM is his first proper band since DKs, the Melvins wanted to avenge Jello, why he quoted the DKs song “Soup is Good Food” in the GSM song “Burgers of Wrath,” where he’s at now with the other Dead Kennedys and what it would take for him to agree to play with them again, playing DKs songs with the GSM, Jello’s getting back into spoken word performance, honouring Ralph Nader, the crippling losses he’s suffered lately, how much the Stooges meant to him, the plight of independent musicians and labels like Alternative Tentacles in the age of file-sharing, AT is doing cool stuff with reissues of records by the Dicks, Voivod, and new releases by young bands like Death Hymn Number 9 and Itchy-O, making stuff is important, why the GSM is not playing Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec this month, scams, the song “Burgers of Wrath,” and then it’s bedtime for bonzo.

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