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August 22nd - Sept 4th, 2005
September 1st, 2005
The Garneau Block

Big announcement next week. In the meantime - this is pretty freakin' smashed out rad.


THE GARNEAU BLOCK, a new novel by Todd Babiak, will be serialized for 100
consecutive days in the Edmonton Journal beginning September 9th.

Set in a fictional neighbourhood in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona, the novel
is a funny and compelling look at life in contemporary urban Alberta and, by extension, Canada. The plot revolves around a mysterious death in the Garneau Block and the diverse residents’ efforts to renew, invigorate and ultimately save their neighbourhood.

Inspired by Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 SCOTLAND STREET, Armistead Maupin’s
TALES OF THE CITY and some of the 19th Century’s best novels, Babiak wrote THE GARNEAU BLOCK in short episodes – for maximum impact in the newspaper.

"Each chapter is between 850 and 1,200 words, which should take readers about 10 minutes every day," says Babiak. "Obviously, I want people to fall in love with these characters and the story. Each morning, I want them to crave the next morning’s chapter."

Babiak says the Edmonton setting was essential.

"As a reader, growing up, I almost never had the chance to read an Alberta novel set in Edmonton or Calgary. It’s time for Alberta to begin developing its urban mythology, and I had that in mind as I wrote THE GARNEAU BLOCK."

This is the first time a Canadian newspaper has published a "daily novel." Each chapter will be accompanied by a brilliant illustration by Edmonton artist Amanda Woodward.


My favourite bit - "It’s time for Alberta to begin developing its urban mythology..."

Goddamn straight.

August 31st, 2005
Experimentation and Exercise

Last weekend, I was introduced to a writing exercise called the Poetry Sweatshop. The man who initiated us swore that it was best performed in a beer hall in the afternoon - surrounded by men playing pool, the tables covered in communal pitchers of cheap lager. The man, a cool poet named Laurie Block, writes poetry in both English and Spanish, so he must know what he's talking about.

The Exercise:

A group of poets sit at a table. One poet picks a magazine off the shelf. He tears pages from the magazine and hands one to each of the writers. Each writer has twenty minutes to create something based on a word, image or series of words they find on the page. They can try to use all the words. Or just use the spark from one word to build a poem. At the end of the twenty minutes, all poets pound a beer and read their work.

Choose a new magazine. Repeat as necessary.

It seems like a good idea for a Saturday afternoon at the Strat - to sit and drink cheap beer and write poetry and sweat. When tried it last weekend, we happened to have a fashion magazine at hand.

The Result:


French girls
named Coquette

lie end to end
like tiles of Spanish marble

their surfaces
glossed and hard and shining

as though
cut from mirrors

I could almost see myself
in them

long-haired and unwashed
smelling of wine and cigarette
and the same grease-stained pants
worn for over a month now

I could almost see myself

in them

the angled refractions
of silicon and sunglasses

but with these
obsidian eyes

i just cut through them

a moment of shadow

suddenly transparent
in the gleam
of the azure sun


We're not drinking on a Saturday afternoon, but we can always pretend.

Go on. Exercise. Grab a magazine. Or a newspaper. Right now. Rip out a page from the middle. Write something in twenty minutes. Post it.

August 29th, 2005

Some exciting news and events cooking this fall.

First up - my publisher and I are involved with a new poetry festival that's going to be smashing in faces this October. It's called The Roar on '24th. Reading opportunities abound. Check it out.

Second up - rumours of a Mingus Tourette American Fall Tour refuse to go away. I won't say any more at this point. Except that it's been awhile since I self-destructed in New York. And I'm looking forward to another shot at it.

Third up - seems like this site has become a valuable resource for journalists. The August 16th interview was quoted in a Fringe play review in the current issue of See Magazine.

"Performer Trent Wilkie, in an interview with Mingus Tourette, calls [the play] avante garde..."

Strangely, there was no mention of any other aspects of our interview - including telling references to World of Warcraft, punching Ben Mulroney in the face, and living as the long-lost bastard of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

But, it's nice to know that we're finally being recognized for our serious reporting.

August 25th, 2005
Beneath Solid Wilkie: The Reckoning

It was Sunday, approaching midnight. Trent Wilkie stumbled backstage. I was dressed in a wetsuit, holding a couple of dry gin martinis. I drank them both and offered Wilkie a box of a hundred books to throw at the audience during one of the high-octane numbers. He refused. He was angry that I had shown up at his play, but had not actually deigned to watch it. Instead, I chose to walk around his dressing room in a pair of SCUBA fins. And drink gin martinis. Because I'm a prick.

My asinine behaviour notwithstanding, Wilkie was exuberant. And loaded. His play had received a four-star review in the Edmonton Journal. I took credit for it immediately and demanded payment. He was unwilling. I interviewed him again so the night wouldn't be a complete bust. Though truly, no evening is a bust if you're drinking gin backstage in a wetsuit. Which is why you wear a wetsuit in the first place. It virtually guarantees a good time.

Mingus Tourette: Well Trent, what do you think of all this success?

Trent Wilkie: (viciously) What success? Did it happen and I not see it? If so, where the hell is my wallet? Success stole my wallet. Bastard.
(pause, rustling of clothes)
You know success sucks 'cause it stole my wallet, that’s what I think of it. Wrap your brain around that parable there…William Tell. Your overture sucks!

MT: God, man. You're back on the fucking meth, aren't you? Or is that ground ginseng root? You know that'll give you a painful erection, Wilkie. How many groupies have you had sex with so far?

TW: Priests don’t have sex, Tourette. We just dry hump. So if you mean pant-on-pant copulation between a man of the cloth and a randy young superficiality lover then…let me count…one. Nope, none. Wait…yeah none. Are you gonna finish that samosa?

MT: That's not a samosa. That's a chinchilla. By the way - I was watching MTV last night in a hotel near the American border - how did you get into that new Nickelback video? And what's your relationship to Chad Kroeger?

TW: Good ol’ CK. What a nutty son of a bitch. I suggested the Boltonesque hairstyle as a joke, and he bit on it. That's a little known fact.
(unzipping sound)
The video shoot was a weird day. At the time I was dating his sister and we were just hanging around drinking the cranberry cocktails. We heard this sudden screaming coming from the set. The dolphin they hired attacked one of the sound dudes and bit through his septum. Well, Chad was having a hissy fit and I came over to console him and by luck, blind luck, someone had a camera rolling.
Let's just say that was a real dolphin we were wearing and Chad and I were actually high on duck adrenalin. You can’t fake that shit. It stones your soul. But yeah, that video, man…his sister broke up with me right after that. I loved her though, truly did. That one cut deep.

MT: I hate that video. So derivative of Sednaoui's early work. So it is true you had something to do with the breakup of the band?

TW: Actually no, that was Chad’s sister’s band "The Bad Touches". They were a Chris Isaak cover band that sorta saw their five minutes while Chad was ending his.
He would come to their rehearsal when I was hanging out and he would be all blasted on Duck Addy and he would start yelling at his sister and they would start fighting and I just can’t handle fighting, especially from family members.

MT: I wouldn't mind pigknuckling Kroeger's sister around. But whatever. Continue.

TW: (pause) So I would start crying and Chad’s sis would say, "Look what you did!" and Chad would be all high and mighty and point the finger right back at her and I would just cry and cry. That’s what broke up the 'Touches and the 'Backs.
After the 'Touches broke up and I dumped his sis, she called him all life-threateny and shit and made him swear to break up his band. They’ll be back together in some form or another.
The 'Backs, not Chad and his sister. They never really dated.

MT: And why Thomas Friedman from the New York Times?

TW: Jesus, Tourette. You did your homework.

MT: This isn't fucking amateur hour. This is about America. And terrorism. And freedom, you know.

TW: Yes, it is serious... I was working in Jerusalem as a metallurgist right after Chad’s sister and I broke up and that’s when I met up with Tommy boy. He had just won a Pulitzer for his foreign correspondence and was working on his book about the world being flat or some shit like that.

MT: I panned that book in the Post. Just so you know.

TW: I haven't read it. The words are too long and the font is all wrong.
(water running)
He and I would hang around the after-hour clubs and shoot the under-age raver freaks with q-tip tips from a bb gun. There were lots of military in town at the time so we had to do it from a cardboard box that we positioned on top of a bird sanctuary across the street. The club was called “Bat Wieners” or something like that...

BT: ...The Bad Weiners, actually...

TW: ..and it got us to talking about life and everything and I told him about the whole Bad Touches break up and how Chad and I weren’t really talking anymore and he said he’d been there. Tom is one wise fellah. Great singer too.

MT: Do you consider the reviewing of your latest work to be "solid journalism"?

TW: The irony is: a review is never solid journalism because it’s opinion, and you aren’t supposed to put your opinion into your work as a journalist. Or even as a gerbalist.

MT: Yes, but it happens. Not everyone is Northrop Frye, if you know what I mean.
(boisterous laughter, sound of a chair tipping over)
Huh. Is it metaphorically journalism?

TW: It’s a mirror to journalism. It shows you the humanity of the writer’s opinion. If someone has a bad day, or is not in the mood for something, but work makes them do it - then it’s going to be reflected in their review.
Its funny how easy it is to google someone’s name and find out about them. Or at least the superficialities of them. Or at least how shitty of a writer they are.

MT: Of a writer?

TW: You know what I mean. When do I get one of those martinis?

MT: When you sell a hundred of these fucking books. What about the hole metaphors - how do you respond to charges of metaphorical misogyny?

TW: We all got holes, Tourette. One man’s hole is another man’s bad joke. Another man’s hole is someone else’s offensive comment. It’s who decides what the hole is, and how shitty of a day they are having that they have to add their own "hole" to the "hole".
(long pause)
That was a metaphor. I wasn’t really meaning hole when I said hole. See? Magic.
Words are like wizard pants that make things seem like they are, but they really aren’t. As for misogyny, I don’t know how to react to that. The women in Beneath Solid Ground are the only intelligent people in the play. They are the only ones that have something worthwhile to say. They are anchors to a bunch of little boys running around seeing how far they can pee. Misogyny, man, how can you hate something you love so much unless it’s yourself?

MT: That's what I always say. Or if it's IN yourself. You know? Like an Arabesque assplug.
Here - if you drink from the other side of the glass, you can have a sip. But just a little one. What do you plan to do with all the money?

TW: (slurps) Probably buy a pony. Trick him out with a big pair of glasses and a phat saddle and teach him how to line dance, you know, all cowboy styles. I’ll name him Jericho and we’ll ride around town delivering babies. Like a door-to-door stork but with an amateur pediatrician degree from whatever stupid school gives them out. Then, we’ll dance. Man, we will fucking dance.

MT: 'K, that's enough gin for you. What about the rumours that you are actually Ben Mulroney's lover?

TW: It would be true if the word lover meant "hazer". I would love to haze that guy. Just show him pictures of himself smiling. He would have an epiphany and he would cry and then we would become crab racers and I would kick him off the team for being a talentless tool who couldn’t race a crab to save his life.
(ringing of glass)
I mean, you don’t actually ride them, you dolt. You just put them side-by-side and let 'em run. Jesus, Ben can be a dildo sometimes.

MT: Speaking of it true that you had a third testicle surgically implanted?

TW: Yes.

MT: What is it made from?

TW: I mean no.

MT: It's African, isn't it?
(sound of struggle, zipping, and a loud crash followed by long pause)
And finally - the question on everyone's lips: what's next for Trent God-Like "Success" Wilkie?

TW: After finally giving in to the fact that one good review does not make a man successful, I will turn to the bottle and it will be filled with detriment. I’ll start crying more and take my one and only shot at serious performance art.

MT: I did that once. It was called Ragnarok. The reviewers refused to review it.
(sound of a lighter striking)
From a moral standpoint they did not believe it should have existed. As art. As machine. As anything.

That was the thing with the Real Doll and the Crucifix? Beatrice? The Dante subtext? I loved that!

MT:(grunt - sound of drink being poured) Here. Obviously, you understand art better than most.

TW: Thanks! And then, after having been arrested several times, I will write children’s literature from prison and make millions of dollars while never being able to spend it. The only good my money will do will be the protection it offers on the inside and I will live a healthy life to the age of 87 and die alone in prison. With all my money and the true knowledge of what actually is the meaning of life.
Or I’ll write another play about a vicarious video game addicted self-loather that will be written as a serious piece, but everyone will think it’s a comedy.
Actually, probably the former.

MT: You mean the latter.

The ladder?

MT: Drink your gin. You will need it soon.


Beneath Solid Ground still runs for a couple more days. MORE DETAILS!!!

August 24th, 2005
Double Thumbed Fisting

Denver smells like moose this time of year. We were turned back at the funeral gate by security, but they couldn't stop the Wild Turkey. There were rumours that Johnny Depp would bless the faithful. But he didn't. In the end, I found myself walking up and down the million-dollar streets, my skull gleaming under the fireworks, reading from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in my best Thompson mutter.

And I remembered these quotes:

"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason. " - Hunter S. Thompson

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism. " - Hunter S. Thompson

"You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye. " - Hunter S. Thompson

There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge. " - Hunter S. Thompson

"The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. " - Hunter S. Thompson

But What Happened Last Week? By God, Find Out Here!