The first time I can remember being bullied, it was just after my parents had taken us to Canada. We were horsing around as usual on the playground and I somehow ended up at the bottom of a large dogpile. I couldn’t breathe and the kids wouldn’t move. I flailed to no use. I ended up biting one of the kids on top of me. He started bawling, which got them all off of me, and ran to a teacher. I was taken to the office, mom called, etc. I got grounded.

As a child, I was always encouraged to walk away. Don’t fight. No violence. But, that wasn’t in my nature one bit. After moving schools (due to moving, not the incident), I ended up in several more fights. Sometimes with friends (white trash that were the staple of the school), sometimes with guys I barely knew during sports, some younger kids I bullied. It was a cycle, truly. One would go after me, I’d go after the younger kid. Its how the hierarchy is.

One day, while waiting for my mom to pick me up at my sister’s school, my “friends” and I were tossing a football back and forth. After a short throw by the trashiest of them all, I turned around to go long and instead I ended up with the ball cracking me in the back of the head. I blacked out. And he ended up with my hands around his throat and my knees on his chest. I came to seconds after starting my blind rage and got off of him. After that day, he nor any of my “friends” fucked with me. That year, my parents had bought a house, so I decided to move back to the school I started at, hopefully with a second try. Grade 8. Last year before high school.

Soon enough, I had the vultures circling around me. A bowlcut blonde, a hard-jawed ginger, some guido prick; there were several who saw me as a target, including, again, a “friend”, a tiny little fucker. I has scared myself when choking out the trailer kid. I didn’t want to fight at all, but I did… and I beat each one. The first one, the bowlcut, attacked me with some small stick, cutting my hand, but I went after him anyway. He later ran off, screaming AIDS like little dumb fucks do. He would later get his head slammed into a locker in high school after mocking me in math class for getting knocked over by a car that morning (no injuries). He shut up after that. The ginger was an all around dick, even to his friends. For whatever reason one day, he grappled with me and I took him down, putting him in a full nelson as my dad had taught me before my sisters (and the excuse to end fuck around) arrived. I had him pinned and told him to stop. He walked off, defeated. Nearing spring the next year, 1999, the guido and the ginger teamed up. The ol’ push him over my friend’s back trick. Except when falling over I grabbed the pusher and locked him in my legs. It was a strange sight. The ginger on his hands and knees, me at an obtuse angle, holding the head of the guido with my legs while my hands had his arms. Quickly, it broke and scattered as a teacher noticed the scuffle.

During these times, I was a major beta. A pacifist politically. I had little clue of anything, except that when confronted, I fought and fought hard and fought well, even to the point where it scared people. I was hanging with a girl, an ex’s friend, outside a donut shop. There among the crowd was some crackhead or meth head. He began to mock me then hit the back of my head. I stood up, so did he. He slapped me. “What?” he said. I slapped back. “What?” I retorted. Suddenly, I was being pulled away as he threatened brimstone, death and assfuckings for my slight against him, a guy with a posse of coffee hounds and fat chicks. Apparently, he was known to carry knives.

I feared much during those times. I feared girls, bad marks, girls, my parents, many things, but when I fought, I feared nothing. I was in the zone, like a sport, like when I played soccer, I was there and nowhere else. When training in Muay Thai back in Salt Lake City, I feared. I feared how stupid I looked. I feared that I didn’t know what I was doing. When sparring, I feared my power. I ended up quitting, and having to pay for it. Afterwards, I feared my wife. I feared what her leaving what do to me. I feared moving. I felt fear, always.

Fear is the constant that drives us into submission, I discovered. Hiding and waiting. Moving to shadows, never seeing the light, prevents us from taking that fear and letting it go. What cured me of the submission, and by that, my bad habits that drove me into isolation, was letting go. No grudges. Let go of the hate. Let go of the fear. Reveal all. Reveal that you are a violent man, when provoked. Reveal your wants. Your needs. Reveal your loves and likes and dislikes. Be blunt. Remove the social filter that the schools installed. Use your filter, the one that lets you get laid, not the one that lets you be kind to cunts or sweet to sluts. Be.

I’ve nearly gotten into fights since sparring. A trucker here and there at my guard job, provoking me during the worst times, and only my partner getting the middle to stop it before it started. I still look out for trouble, wishing it would find me, for I want to get in that zone again, win or lose, and feel the rush of swinging fists and throwing knees, knowing this isn’t padded and it isn’t practice. That its real. Its life. And I’m living it, in the face of everything, as I should: free.


Profiles in Good Music: Deadmau5

Decided to start profiling my favorite bands and artists, since this blog is centered around the aural things. Who else to start with than the local boy who made it big: Joel Thomas Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5.

Joel Zimmerman aka Deadmau5 was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1981 (for a while, maybe currently, I lived down the block from his mother). Deadmau5’s career began during the 1990s experimenting with his sound and DJ-ing. In 2005, he released Project 56, a compilation of fifty-six short demos. Among this EP is “Just Before 8bit”, which influenced his later albums.

His first LP, Get Scraped, was released in 2005. Two versions of this album exist: the CD version which was released first, then the download version in 2006 which as several changes to the song list. No singles were released from Get Scrapped, but The Oshawa Connection is my personal favorite.

Soon after, he began his own record label, mau5trap, which, along with Ultra Records and Ministry of Sound, released the 2008 album Random Album Title. RAT (wink) had two major singles, “Faxing Berlin”, which launched his career in clubs both Euro and North American, and “I Remember”, which were featured in several video games. His next album, For Lack of a Better Name, sent him into skyhigh popularity with the track Ghosts N’ Stuff, which even metalheads and wiggers know of.

In 2010, he released 4×4=12, and in 2011 began a world tour that recently concluded in Toronto. His performance there made Canadian music history as he is now the only Canadian act to headline a concert at the Roger Center (Skydome). A place usually reserved for acts like U2, Bon Jovi and other stadium-usual bands.

I wasn’t a fan of techno of any sort until I came across Deadmau5. The first track I truly listened to was Ghosts N Stuff and was blown away at the complexity and smoothness of his sound. I’d heard other techno tracks, usually European, and none of it ever clicked. I found myself bouncing to Ghosts N’ Stuff and knew I had to explore further. Which lead me to dubstep and my own attempts at electronic music

While I won’t say, like other kiddos, that “his music saved my life” I did learn that its cool to let go. I was usually a silent, stoic listener at concerts. Hearing and rocking out to his music and the other artists I’d come across was a beginning to releasing the years of fear and worry about looking like a fool. Now, who gives a shit? Have a good time. Enjoy, ’cause if you don’t, then what’s the point of even listening to music?

The First

I walked out of my parent’s house and saw her standing there, cute, smiling. She gave me a big hug, missing hug, loving hug. We walked to the end of the driveway, lighting up a smoke. We hadn’t seen each other in three years. We hadn’t gone on something like this in seven. Back then, she was the wild one. Pot, drinking, barely sober, but a lot of fun. I was straight laced. The square. That guy. She loved me though. A decade’s worth of feelings. She had two kids now. A history. A guy she hated. Complications.

My life has stabilized. The Zen, as I call it. The way of keeping it sane. It came across during the night. I was cocky, sexual, aggressive. I made my moves. I pushed. But, as if all my challenges are to come before it gets easy, she resisted. I always loved her eyes. They said so much. I kept my eyes on her all night. We talked a lot. Her about her guy. She asked about my divorce. We talked about love and sex and work and life.

We were in a bar that used to be a strip club, sitting on a couch, the only customers there. My arm around her, she leaning into me. This wasn’t The Dangler. This wasn’t Maria. This wasn’t Seasons. This was my first girlfriend. My first. Those feelings are there. As we were leaving, I pulled her in, using my go-to line, “Come here,”

“No, I can’t.”

“Why’s that?”

“I would feel guilty.”

“You said you don’t even consider yourself together with him.”

“Its the kids. I’d look at them and feel guilty. They go through a lot.”

“I understand.”

We had a smoke on the patio afterward. The tension was thick and electric. It was awkward. Her eyes said it all.

Pizza. A walk down to the tourist area. Clifton Hill. We went on the Niagara SkyWheel. She said one of her guys had said there was a stipulation. They had to finish before the ride was over. I laughed, “Its only a condition with me, though eight minutes is too short.”

She leaned into me, showing her neck as we watched the Falls and the city from three hundred feet up. I kissed her cheek and her hair and her neck. I could smell the scents from a decade ago. I would push through it, but I cared.

We drank some more. A bar on the hill. A bar near my parent’s place. I touched her hair, her back. Kino for the win. Before we got in the car, I moved in, straight on, she turned her head. “I just wanted a peck,”

“Sure,” she said.

Soon after I got home, she was on Facebook. We talked. I told her what she missed. The fun. The lack of misery. A moment to remember when things go to shit. She knew. I told her when things get uncomplicated, I’ll have her. She knew.

I laid alone in my old bed. Neutral. Quiet. It was a good night.