Side A - Doing My Rounds/Checking Some Rounds
Side B - Teeber's Rhythm
Album Art by Dominique Alexander
Printed by Jesjit Gill
Doing My Rounds, Checking Some Rounds from Emily Pelstring on Vimeo.
On Alterity Problem’s “Doing My Rounds/Checking My Rounds”, an excerpt from the novella “Toronto” - By A. Moskos
Joel Taylor moved from Montreal to Toronto mid-May 2011. Hatch and I moved him in the AIDS Wolf van. The move progressed with fits and starts. Joel’s neighbours on Cazelais all made great fun of this multistage epic. He’d tried a few days prior. He moved everything on to the street only to find that the trailer hitch didn’t fit the rental or vice versa. I can’t remember. Either way, Hatch and I showed up in Great White and finally started loading the thing up. The slingin’, cripwalking, wigger on the block approached Joel, put his hand on Joel’s shoulder and said “S’achève !”
The previous two years had been endlessly productive. Joel had finally moved out of a very non-mellow apartment tower at the corner of Guy and De maisonneuve and down into the Hen. This was another ridiculous move, done in a rented cube van piloted by Joel’s father, the Captain.
Joel was in the Hen. I was in the greatest studio I’ve ever had the pleasure to occupy, in the legendary RCA building. Haitian rap crew next door. A bunch of dumbass bike punks playing slowmetal shared the space with us. They managed to ruin it for everyone in the building. All the musicians, including Sam Roberts got booted because of their arrogance.
We recorded the Inane Fever record with Dom and St-Onge, Joel playing drums. Joel and I started working on a synthesizer duo. We eventually called it Alterity Problem. With Joel in the neighborhood we could spend hours at his place on Cazelais talking, listening, or at the Zone on 387 Delinelle (once we’d been booted form RCA) recording.
Joel and I would spend hours coming up with grooves on a sampler, a Moog Prodigy and a few drum brains. Then we would arrange them by assigning letter names to each groove and working out variations of each. These become the basis of “Don’t Hate To Investigate”, the 3rd Alterity Problem release. Joel had managed to get his hands on some amazing “county” or “Loyalist” weed. Joel didn’t smoke grass. So I smoked it all. It was perfect.
We moved Joel into 1041 Ossington just below Dupont, with his life-partner Ivy, an equally wonderful human being. The most complete Dr. Who VHS/DVD collection on earth as well as the thickest philosophy library imaginable were unpacked and put on shelves. Great White got towed because I misread a parking sign. We walked to the outer reaches of nowhere to get it out of the yard, out in the foul-smelling meat packing zone. Hog Town. Joel was still saying he was going to pay me back for the towing fee on his death bed.
Joel loved Toronto. He embraced it. Joel encouraged Hatch to make similar moves. “He would be much better served,” he told me. Not much after that Hatch lost his mind and moved back in with his Dad in Ottawa, saying only “The best thing about Ontario is that its not Quebec.” Maybe Joel would have agreed.
Joel was already a minor celebrity on his block. The ladies at the paderia on Ossington loved him, made rich black espresso, not to mention Portuguese donuts. Joel the polyglot: The Mexican migrant workers next door, the old Spanish couple up two doors, the ancient Italian on his morning constitutional…Joel shot the breeze with all of them in their mother tongues. Even the rather nasty, crabby rasta was charmed. Joel, of course was a Jamaican citizen. No lie.
We are Ontario boys. You can’t take it out of us. Ontario, its rote conservatism, its protestant downward look, its crushing yet subtle provincialism (as opposed to Quebec’s charming yet egregious provincialism) prints itself onto your mind, onto your skin, crawls through, buries itself. In Joel’s case it settled down along with a set of genes that scripted a virulent cancer, laying in wait. After a long decade in la belle province Ontario rears itself out of hiding and drives the spirit. The need for order is the first sign. In Joel’s case, though none of us knew it, the Order, that protestant bankers mind, that ancient Anglicanism would try and save his life. The order would close around him and care for him so admirably.
There’s not a lot that I know about the months between moving Joel to Toronto and his being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, in January 2012. I lost touch to a degree. AIDS Wolf toured in Europe, Drainolith toured relentlessly, I struggled through difficult times. I wrote “Fighting”, I drank Bitburgers and walked around St. Henri alone.
I assume Joel renewed his working relationship with Himelfarb who was writing for the Toronto Star. They wrote radical comedy. Over our heads. Joel and Ivy drank at Ronny’s in the Market. Probably spent long heat-nights with cool lake breeze in their hair…on the same patio as Dave Evans and Andre Theriault, also regulars at this time, but none of them new each other. I planned to get Joel a synthesizer so he could continue the absolutely crucial research we had begun in my bedroom-studio at 387 Delinelle. Music had ceased to be a concern for Joel, though. His laptop, along with his monolithic mp3 collection, which he planned to listen to in its entirety, on random play, had died. He didn’t have a cd player though his cd collection was legendary both in terms of size and content. He didn’t really start listening to music again until mid way through his fight with cancer.
Joel came and saw Thames play. We brrrocked to a dub playlist I made, mostly of rockers and steppers. Then he quickly left. In September he came to see Bee Mask and I play a gig. I relished watching him shake hands with Chris, Electronic music’s most unlikeliest, most unknown hero and the new-breed adventurer, a figurehead, meet in Kensington market. Joel gave me a huge bag of espresso. It odor ate the entire last leg of the tour in our rented batmobile. It took Madak and I 13 hours to drive Toronto-Montreal because of insane traffic on the 401. We got to Montreal in time to play the dumbest fucking gig in the history of gigs. Bloody Pop Montreal.
Joel had found work briefly with the Toronto Fringe Festival. They must have loved him. He found permanent work at Starbucks. The multistage application process was insane. I moved to Van City for 3 months to spend time with my family and worked for the Red Cross. Somewhere in there Joel stopped being able to hold down food and was told he had some complicated food allergies and dietary issues. Then he got jaundice, was constantly ill, unable to work. The hollowing out had begun. Doctors were initially mystified, though soon enough Ontario’s order closed in and around, adumbrating and settling on the horrible diagnosis. The spirit moves forward. Joel called me to tell me the news, saying “Im going out with a laugh.” He said the upside of the diagnosis, was that he didn’t have Celiac disease and could eat pizza. He kept performing stand-up with Himelfarb.
So we made another Alterity Problem single. Before Joel got sick, we agreed that when we finished “Don’t Hate To Investigate” that the next record would be a disco 12”. We recorded most of “Doing My Rounds/Checking My Rounds” at 1041 Ossington. Joel played much of it himself, despite his fatigue. That came from the chemotherapy treatment rather than his own disease. We set up a drum kit made up of half real drum pieces, half edrum parts. We copped the groove right off the Tom Moulton mix of “Moonboots” This would be the last time I saw the child-like enthusiasm that marked Joel in a creative rush. He was so stoked on the Moonboots groove that he just played the thing, homage or jack, he didn’t care. He played the drum parts all the way through and then sat at the mono/poly and performed all the basslines. I tricked out the synth accompaniment while Joel watched, nodding “Yes” or “No” depending, as the day wore on and his fatigue took over. I took the bed tracks back to Montreal and recorded the “String” sounds at my studio in Punk Village. I can’t even remember how I did them. I just remember cutting them, running the mixes back to the Zone, playing them for Shapiro then running back to the studio to make whatever changes. I did this back and forth all night.
Joel was insanely young for pancreatic cancer, an old man’s disease. Medicine took interest. Medicine found a famous man to perform an experimental bit of surgery. Open up Joel, remove a chunk of pancreas and liver and bind the two organs together as well as remove sections from and re-tie two arteries. This was insane surgery with high odds of Joel dying on the table. The Great Order of course felt this, in its wisdom and calculus would be best. Seemed reasonable to me.
Joel wrote a will before going under the knife. In it he specified that his 13 cd Yohawa 13 boxset go to me and that Anglican anthems be played at his funeral.
The big day finally came. They cut Joel open only to find the cancer had spread much further onto the liver. This would impede any chance of the surgery succeeding. They sewed him up. They sent him home.
Joel’s stomach became huge. Medicine would remove big bags of nasty, purple fluid from him, liters at a time.
Soon though, Joel was listening to music again. Something he had not done since the initial diagnosis. Wagner’s Ring cycle, Steely Dan, W.C. and the Maad Circle (?!?!) were of particular interest it seemed.
We’d go outside and smoke cigarettes and discuss Science Fiction, philosophy and music. Joel told me on one of these occasions, him with Belmont Silvers, the new, lighter flavor of Belmont, only available in Ontario, that don’t pull like the standard Bellies, that I wasn’t stupid for smoking. I argued that I was. He wasn’t planning to die anytime soon, but would still joke about it. We talked endlessly about The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, he told me that if anyone could write a catchy song it was I, we discussed the unbelievable Anakin Skywalker immaculate birth and the non-CGI boat in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Joel insisted we watch Carpenter’s The Thing... the lady at the paderia say, “How is your friend?” with so much concern in her shrill tone, it drops an octave, warm eyes, makes his espresso, milk and sugar, mine with small amount of steamed milk. She gets it right. Watch Ossington move along, the old Chinese woman going through Joel’s recycling, the Jamaican only merry towards Joel, beautiful women on bikes even as winter crept out slow like a lamb, rejoice the lamb, the lamb lies down. Wet disgusting snow well into April. Muck through it with Dave Evans, the streetcar pitch, the high-day light across the BMO structure eastward, I cast out at noon and walk as far as possible. 40k in two days. As far east on Queen and as far north on Yonge as I can. Struck by a changed air and pitch to the light like I’ve never seen before. Why does MTV have its logo on a Masonic temple up here? Oh, What Great Damage is this? Up as far as Lawrence, despicable Coffee Time at the corner. Bothered by the weird light, weirder still it begins to pulse at a faster modulating rate. I’m lost now in something so far beyond reverie that it is collision and impact of the two plains…comes the Farmers down Yonge must have broke through the English garrison. “Who’s THEY!?” ‘em shouts. Oh WHAT Great Damage is this?
“A Strachan man?”
“A banking conspiracy?”
“Come from England, then?”
“No, Greece, The Zervakos family. We’ll come through Baltimore when the time comes.”
Finally, they moved Joel into a terminal patient hospice across the street from the famous 64 Major house. The two biggest Doctor Who fans one earth, separated by Time not by Space. ( Pelstring’s video for “Doing my Rounds” looks like the Troughton era set design.) Joel listened to Wagner and the newest Daft Punk record on his death bed. Alterity Problem’s “Doing My Rounds/Checkin some Rounds” is available through Brian’s Tape Label.
Alexander MoskosMontreal, March 7, 2014