Monday, October 25, 2010

"FOR THE LADIES" up now at Hunter and Cook site

In my recent moods I've been wondering about my life, it just gets darker and darker, has anything been furthered on my move to Toronto? I did say that I'd evaluate after two years. So I evaluate and get depressed. I go see a doctor. It's one of those doctors that believes in natural cures. He suggests to me, "Why don't you see this great clown that some rather 'in-the-know' friends have been telling me about? He will surely lift your spirits. His name is Robert Dayton." I yell at him, "Who you calling a clown, you quack!!!"

Anyways, Hunter and Cook Magazine has a BRAND new website:

They've featured six of ten examples from my "For The Ladies" series of art works.
Click here to see!

Yes, THE WORK IS FOR SALE, talk to me.
And, of course, the new ish features the first in-person in-depth interview with the force known as Tonetta that I did and wow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Maybe it was the allergies, maybe it was jetlag, maybe it was the weather, maybe it was everything! Coming back was most difficult...
...made easier when I saw the faces of loved ones, those pals that I adore.
Saw a bunch at an art opening curated by Jay Isaac at RUINS then ventured to a rock show.
I had choices. Choices. I was thinking about Joe Preston, hadn't seen that guy since the 90s! When I was visiting LA, and one day over coffee, Allison Wolfe brought his name up. "What happened to that guy?"
"He's doing a one man project called Thrones."
I get back to Canada days later and he's playing. I needed to see him.
Then that sweetheart who I need to hang out with more by the name of Sean Kennedy tells me that a guy named Midnight from Cleveland is playing at midnight with women draped on him as he shreds songs from his album "Total Fucking Midnight." Aw mannn, choices.
His MySpace page is here:

I hope to one day see Midnight.
I go see Thrones, bass guitar, burly man, mass pedals, man, eerie vocoderisms and attachments to be something spiritual, sparse drum machine punctures. Loud and needed.
unfortunately his vocal mic was not on for a couple songs. What the-?
This venue is a tragic one. Upstairs women are rendered unattractive by the fact that they are eating overpriced entrees of exotic meats (lamb heart, anyone?) guzzled down with wine. I have read quotations about them saying that it is 'punk' to do this. Downstairs the venue is made intentionally uncomfortable to replicate a DIY experience. Hmmm. Often DIY didn't set out to be uncomfortable, it was just we had to use whatever was at hand. This place is oozing money and yet went for a concrete bunker aesthetic. Fakery. I needed orthopedic shoes to hang out there. I'm not old...I'm not old....please...I'm not old...I just don't want my spine to curl up into a Golden Spiral even if it is in concordance with the universe! They have no stage, so short people have to use elbows with intention, also: shop lighting to sting the eyes! Must say this: friendly and hard working staff.
The local opener (and I don't feel like naming names, it doesn't do any good, I want to get at the underlying elements not single nouns out)played 'experimental metal' yet they were so by-the-books, playing it safe, people seemed to be into them, a small support group was held outside on a small patch of astro-turf laid out primarily for smokers. And me. As I bitched. Toronto, playing it safe...yeeeesh...

Two nights later. Sunday. I take it back. I see two Toronto acts that were great. Sure, they didn't have rock instrumentation or drums -just saying- they were great!
Six Heads had all of their stuff on a table and they'd just use some of it as needed for their improvised sounds...
Gastric Female Reflex is an appropriate name, two lads sucking on some amplified throat bits while using technology in an organic manner.
Bless em!
They both opened up for Rob from Climax Golden Twins from Seattle! I hadn't seen him perform in forever! Acoustic murder ballads, acoustic guitar chaos, loud drones, all of the above.
He was on a Sublime Frequencies tour, the label that documents as anti-purists the far reaching corners of the globe. We watched his doc on India which showed religious ecstacies on the bustling streets of India, nuclear reactors as a backdrop...

So I get all down on the safe TO music...but must keep in mind the great stuff that comes out of this city!
I share these links with you in hopes that you check it all out! And please turn me on to stuff as well...I want to know!
Six Heads:

Gastric Female Reflex:



Pony Da Look:

Romo Roto:


(a documentary about Corpusse just premiered at pop Montreal, it's made by the World Provider!!! I'm even interviewed...neat...! Can't wait to see it...)

I am also intrigued by recent acts Henri Faberge and Dentata...

...and then there's Tonetta! I just did the first in-person and indepth interview with this YouTube star in ish 7 of Hunter and Cook magazine and it comes out saturday nite at Paul Petro gallery on Queen: exciting!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

L.A. Vacation 4 : Endgame

Maybe I should have posted this sooner. I've been back for a week now and things are foggy....
One of my stand up comedy gigs was at Spaceland opening for Neil Hamburger. For such a desperate depressed guy, that guy has really helped a brother out time and time again over the years. How did it go? Great! Super well! And it was quite a strong bill.
Brody Stevens blew my mind with his intense inside riffing, I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his set but I was kinda scared of him:

And there were also the fine talents of Keith Lowell Jensen:

And *MAJOR ENTERTAINER* mike h whose new songs get catchier and catchier, he even sang a duet with Tom Green:

Afterwards Mike H stood between Tom Green and I and said that we both couldn't be more different from each other. I asked Mike to elaborate but he wouldn't.
I got to talking about the nature of being onstage with Keith Lowell Jensen's pal whose name I tragically forgot!!! Sorry. I told him that I was nervous- it was a good bill, and luckily I used the energy for the act. Keith's pal said I looked confident. Maybe being onstage so much in the past has helped. However. Being up there alone telling jokes is such a different beast, it takes adjusting, and this pal of Keith's really knew that, he had performed for years with a hardcore band and, I think, even a circus sideshow, so making the comedy switch is not always so seamless. It can be loooonely!
Tonight it only felt lonely just before hitting the stage...

If you are ever in LA stay at The Hollywood Inn.
read some reviews here

Bandmate Scott and I had accommodation shenanigans in that, through freak occurrences, we almost had no place to go. Luckily, a super kind benefactor bought us a room for 8 nites at the Hollywood Inn which sure beats staying out on the street! This benefactor has our eternal gratitude!
I do not want to sully this gratitude in any way but I've got to tell you tales. When our toilet stopped working the manager blamed us for it-twice! When the phones stopped working the manager simply said, "No outgoing calls."
Blood stains on the walls.
Numerous shady men appeared at this hotel with shady much younger women.
Here's the capper, my Toronto agent wanted me to tape an audition for Rogers (who, in a separate matter, were racking up my phone bill repeatedly calling about a mildly late internet bill) because the casting director asked for me specifically. I didn't have a camera or a computer! So I had to scramble, as well as prep my audition: very stressful. A rather lovely girl (sigh) that I'd just recently met asked a friend of hers to tape it for me. Success! End of story? No. Now the director wanted to talk to me on Skype. At 7 AM. More scrambling. More stress. Friends loaned me their Skype. I checked it out at the hotel and everything was working fine. Come the morning of the interview nothing worked, Scott helped me out, we tried everything. It was no use. Standing at the front desk was another sad sack with a non-functioning laptop and no desk clerk in sight. The hotel had somehow turned off their wireless. They also knew that I had an important interview that would gain me hundreds or more of dollars.
And as time slowly ran out, the audition people said something to the effect of, "We'll keep you in mind for future roles..."
Nearly in tears I stammered, "I am on vacation...I have done everything in my power...let me run to Starbucks."
Which I did. I did my audition all stressed out in the middle of a Starbucks.
What a miserable couple of days. Thankfully I have a great and understanding agent!
Did I get the role?
I heard that I lost it due to the insanity of that morning.
That is how the acting business works, by the way. They can always find somebody else, so if you can't make the audition happen then, well, tough cookie...

Okay, here's a happy note: my pal Simone took me for a workout with Richard Simmons.

He's a hoot!!! Sometimes it was hard to work out for laughing!
He commented on my heart shaped sweat stain and noted my distinct lack of rhythm. As an ice breaker, he tried guessing my favourite subject in school to no avail. "Chemistry? Math? Biology?" A few minutes later he asked the group if there were any singers in attendance.
Simone yelled, "Robert's a singer!"
"Oh, what do you sing?"
I retorted, "Anything without rhythm."

My pals Marika got me and a date some tickets to see John Carpenter speak at the massive and legendary Egyptian Theatre. I am a big John carpenter fan, however, they didn't even screen a 35 MM film copy of Escape From New York: it was blu-ray!!! During the Q and A, I wanted to ask a question that had been bugging me for years (What was his synopsis for Halloween 7 with Jamie Lee Curtis that was most unfortuantely rejected for being too weird?)but there were just too many questions, including a woman who just wanted to know how to be in his movies. As he left, a massive throng followed him with autograph pens in hand.
L.A. I love it. Sure it can be desperate. It can be kinda self-absorbed and kooky but so am I.
Coming back was hard. I packed a sweater but was still shivering.
My allergies kicked in badly when I landed in Toronto which helped to make me very depressed.
My ex sent me a nice e mail, it had been 8 months since telling her that I needed space to get over the relationship, the email was nice but it messed me up, I'd greatly inflated a "How are you?" in my mind and had difficulty in composing a reply.
Leaving the house, I'd smile at girls to no response, in talking to them aloofness reigned ("Meh...I'm on facebook..."), but that happens to all genders and persuasions in this city, I know, I've asked around.
I fell into a morass of self-pity, this time with confidence in my abilities.
People have been telling me that I should live in LA but it's just not that easy to move there. And, I wonder, would it make a positive difference on my career? An outlet?
The positive thing is that finally after a few days of being back I saw my pals and it was nice....
I will forge ahead as it is all I can do.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

L.A. Vacation 3

I have come to realise that when it comes to records and comic books-especially used or soiled ones- Toronto is a real Mecca (just check out the Toronto Comic Art Fair which happens once a year, Holy Moses...).
Los Angeles, not so much.
I hit Meltdown Comics because of its' large Dan Clowes designed sign and found... nothing. Nothing that I didn't already have, at least.
When I went to Amoeba Records five years ago it was awe staggering. This time around it was picked over. I did find a few Joe South albums. I love that Joe South. Love that rugged sensitive sound.

At one of The Dingaling nites I met the owner of The Black Tent Press label, who just put out a limited edition Tonetta single following the now sold out LP. This single is incredible! It's a totally immersive and dank environment that has a kind of groove to it, short and sweet on pink vinyl. It's been mixed and mastered to sound great, you can hear all the little things he does in the background while sometimes his voice is so sweatily close to your ear that it distorts, a tad different than the YouTube versions but still very Tonetta. Tonetta is the best thing to happen to music in years. Yes, he is strongly visual, he's YouTube famous! But these records show that he's a solid intuitive musician making clever arrangements from trashy musical elements, in even the dirtiest of songs he can make a unique turn of phrase, the songs are catchy and work well on their own.
Tonetta is 62.
Richard Sax Ross must be in his 40s or so.
I don't really believe this but, I have been stating that I will now discount the musical work made by people in their 20s. It's just only one decade in the person's life and if they are still making music afterwards then the wheat has been separated from the chaff.
I somewhat kid as a deliberately ageist reaction to ageism in pop.

I did find an amazing book in LA that I never knew existed! My pals Kim and Richard took me to a lending library started by a former NEA head of Lit in a more disadvantaged area of L.A. There's been library cutbacks made in L.A. so this storefront fulfills a service. Tucked into one shelf was this:

I am a big Terry Southern fan and The Loved One is one of my favourite motion picture comedies, it's a rather controlled zany film, made just before those star-laden comedies got zany for zany's sake. This book is full of crazy captions and glorious photos: the movie itself is a rare comedy that looks gorgeous (so does Dr. Strangelove which Southern also wrote).

And, yes, the original Evelyn Waugh novel is a work of greatness!

Kim and Richard run the Esotouric Bus Tours which does numerous theme tours such as Hotel Vice, Black Dahlia and more! They really know their stuff!
They took me to The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, an old church founded by former revival tent preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. I got a sort of Elmer Gantry vibe from it. They would do elaborate pageants, give lots of food to the poor, and she even disappeared for a month to great controversy!

Kim's grandparents do a video blog and mentioned Lady GaGa in one episode. Because of this, one crazy company sent the grandparents one of their products: a Lady GagGag blow up doll. Luckily, the grandparents never saw it. To get this item out of their house, it was given to me. It looks nothing like Lady GaGa, not realistic at all, but in terms of basic blow up doll function, it does its' job, but is not nearly as good as an attractive woman.

Anyways. Kim and Richard do a regular salon at Clifton's. Clifton's is my dream cafeteria. It opened in 1931 with a mandate of no one being left unfed. The food is dirt cheap (goes right through you but I kinda like it) and the surroundings are wild! Wild life wild! Bears catching fish and other sights! There's even a small serenity chapel designed to look like it was cut out of a tree, with an ancient pre-recorded sermon and a lit tableaux of fake nature through plexiglass (it is a curious theme this emulation of nature in Christianity, and it is a recurring theme, I have Volumes one and two of albums entitled "The Birds Sing his Praise" which is a man whistling like birds overtop of organ music as a testament to God and creation).
Clifton's has just -just!- been bought by what people deem 'hipsters' , there is a fear that it will be gentrified, this is combined with a relief that it won't go out of business, I am curious to see how it plays out, it is a place for the disenfranchised (and always has been as the old photos show) so fingers are crossed.
I was fortunate enough to present my latest art works at this Salon.
Documented here:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Canada can't do Mexican food. L.A. sure can. I even had vegan Mexican. in regards to lard, I just didn't want to know.
I crashed everywhere from mansions behind the Marmont to Echo Valley apartment floors...and I'll say this: L.A. homes are niiiiice! Art Deco and Mexican influence! Easy on the allergies.
So after a coupla days I did Club Dingaling which is a Tuesday night thing put on by Don Bolles and Nora from Fancy Space People. It's a pretty special night where they get as wild and freaky as possible. I met Don many years ago where we bonded over records, he had talked me out of some LPs by an odd eerie female Christian ventriloquist that I saw as a child who forever scarred me. Don's got quite the Christian children's record collection. Much of the music he spun at Dingaling crossed over with what I'd spin at my Feelings nite, so it felt just like home! Maybe L.A. is. He also showed some insane VHS projections, usually of cheap puppets in Christmas pageants.
At this Dingaling I was performing solo doing a recitation as The Romantic. Sometimes when I perform solo I think that I am doing worse than I actually am. The sound was odd: I thought everyone was talking when it was actually the cigarette smokers outside audible through an open side door just off the stage! People told me later that the place was hushed! When I asked "Should I wrap this up?" a woman yelled, "Yes!" I replied, "I love it when women say yes."
I walked off feeling vulnerable.
But it actually went over well. People were into it. One fella came up to me and said, "I'm jaded and I really liked that."
But my act was weird for the too-cool-for-schoolers. I didn't think people finding a slow talking hushed romantic to be weird but it was! I honestly don't think of what I am doing as weird. I don't black out onstage or get naked anymore, I try not to push or force things. But it still comes off as weird.
With Hallmark I was striving for ballad oriented songcraft but people were saying that even Hallmark is weird! And I was trying to be normal and natural! I guess that's just the way it is.
Anyways I wanted to unwind and stick around at Dingaling to watch Shazzula Nebula from France play her set but my ride wanted to leave: bummer....
Back to Hallmark. Playing with people who are all totally committed to music, right into it, is such a good feeling! All five of us were crackling. Scott had flown out from Vancouver just to make this happen. We are an LA/Vancouver/Toronto group. The shows went smashingly! We were actually set to play Dingaling the following Tuesday but, alas, the police came crashing down and said that the club didn't have the proper paperwork for live music. It was completely out of our hands but we couldn't help but feel depressed.
A few days later we played a gallery and it went super well. Don showed up and after a few of our songs he started mad texting to set us up a show! And he did! We played on a terrific bill at a venue a few days later called Showcave. Don said we were like Jobriath if he was good, ha ha! The opening act was a guy called Richard Sax Ross, a lone man singing over backing tracks and playing electronic sax bathed obscured in blue lights...Night music. Had an 80s ballad style to it but his own rather earnest take. He had stopped playing music due to personal tragedy but people like Ariel Pink have encouraged him to go on and the world is better for it! I was amazed by him, simply amazed. I strongly urge you to check him out. We also played with seminal LA synth punkers Nervous Gender and a catchy set of songs by Steve Moramarco of Abe Lincoln Story! It was a great bill!
It truly felt great to play.
Someone was telling me how a lot of bands just don't have intensity and it's true. Both LA and Toronto are immersed in a kind of limp indie pop. Ten years ago I proposed the theory that if people dressed up to perform, the music would get interesting. I have been proven wrong many times of late. I wound up at one show with some indie popper in a long elaborate coat looking completely awkward singing his limp songs.
I want to perform great songs and make them crackle! And connect with the audience.
I so loved playing again, we all want to play again soon, maybe December in Vancouver, February in LA, I hope so, we love it, the Hallmark album sounds good and we want it to see the light of day! We believe in it!

I was also on a couple bills doing comedy.
Wayyyy out in Santa Monica is a house that converts its' garage once a month into a venue called The Comedy Carhole replete with chairs and lights! An AM radio is turned on and off for the comedians' entrances and exits. I luckily got the final bars of "Something" by the Beatles. The place was packed! I wandered into the house and saw maggots on the ceiling! Why? I don't know. Back to the garage. My set went super well but I had to jet away and on to the bus! Yes, the bus. They run in LA. They're actually not bad! Comfy seats, TVs, and every stop is announced, I made my way around mostly okay!
Of course I got lost and a lovely lady that I met picked me up and made sure I was okay, bless her heart!
Where did I have to jet off to? To see Kim Fowley sing "They're Coming to take Me away Ha Ha" at a birthday party.

Giddle Partridge introduced me to this looming figure with a pretty 20-something on his arm. I asked him how long it took him to record side two of Outrageous. "Fifteen minutes." He then told me that one man went mad and another committed suicide from making that album. Luckily I brought some grains of salt with me. It was an odd party. Rather aloof. People tripping out. Everyone dressed all freak beat. I felt under dressed. A fella said I looked like Holger Czukay from Can. Someone else at a Hallmark gig said I looked like Werner Herzog in the 70s. This felt good and alleviated all doubts about me shaving my moustache. It stays! The moustache stays!
But enough about me. This is my blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Toronto. Late August/ early September or so.
I was bummed out from a creative endeavour. Oh, it received a strong response from those who saw it but due to circumstances (time of year, lack of gallery promotion) nothing sold and I felt drained from all the energy I put into it, other projects temporarily set aside.
My day job contract was ending.
I needed to get away to L.A.
For good? Oh, how I wish that were feasible, I am at Canada endgame: Toronto, the last place within the borders, thousands of dollars and much paperwork is needed to leave this country.
Jessica, my bandmate in Hallmark lives in LA, she really wanted me to come out and get the band going again. I was all for that. Committed. It should blossom and grow, not wither and die. It had been a year since I performed a full set of music!
What do we sound like? Here:

Vacations can inspire and recharge and possibilities can be explored.

Sept. 9th
On the flight over a pretty young lady was getting set to do something exciting at the VMAs (Video Music Awards) which apparently were happening that weekend. She smiled at me. I would have tried chatting with her but her attention was taken by a video blogger, helping her out, also attending the awards. I was left to eavesdrop over idle gossip about popstars that I'd never heard of. Still...she smiled. This was a good sign.

No walls.
I found this on my trip. Was it because I was in vacation mode? Approachability. Is this a West Coast thing? An American thing? A West Coast American thing?
I am making a list of the most Romantic places in Canada:
#1. Montreal
#2. Vancouver
#3......I stall.....
I found from my stay that these women who smile, who sometimes even approach me in LA, what a feeling they give. It doesn't matter who smiles first, it feels good. That chopped liver feeling was fading away.
Due to eyeglasses, my peripheral vision is crap but now I see glimmers out of the corner of my eye, I am usually so oblivious, too self-absorbed to notice people noticing me. And I must notice them. I must bring romance back with me as Toronto needs it, Canada needs it. I must smile more, compliment more. And use it in all my affairs! I hope that I can bring this back, this feeling and use it, not get self-conscious by my surroundings but use that little light within to shine.
The sun in LA was shining! A heatwave was had but, I didn't mind (although I worried for those who could suffer death or injury from heat exhaustion). That's what little canary yellow short shorts are for. Who's going to look at a bald spot sunburn anyways?

Jessica picked me up from the airport and she drove me straight to some Mexican food done right.

Sept. 10th
I hung out with my pal Mike Hickey. Coffee in Silver Lake which is near Echo Park where I was crashing. Echo Park is gentrifying but still a wonderful neighbourhood. Silver Lake is gentrified. Everyone gratuitously uses the word 'hipster' here and as it is a word of flux, they usually use it to mean 'young person with money, occasional purple V neck tees.'

Sept. 11th
Can I remember the day-by-day? I don't know. I really don't.
Mike, his girlfriend Marika, and I got tacos with our pals Gregg and Simone. Who's the first person I randomly see in LA? George Hamilton? No. Tony Curtis? No. Then who? My ex girlfriend's best friend. He's great, a sweetheart, yes, but it still felt kinda painful, and I had to ask how my ex-girlfriend was, of course.

Mike, Marika, and I make our way to a free show. Lots of free shows in LA. the legendary Don Bolles (The Germs, Celebrity Skin, 45 Grave, and-most currently-Fancy Space People who are awesome!!! check this: ) was playing an early Alice Cooper tribute, stuff from the crazier first couple albums! I love Alice Coop and hadn't seen Don in yearrrrs. Was it good? Yeah, they totally captured that sound!

Sept. 12th
Sundays are nice.

Sept. 13th
So are Mondays. I really should have kept notes.

More to come...