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Malcolm Fraser

September 22, 2011

Malcolm Fraser is a writer, musician, and filmmaker based in Montreal. He is currently employed as a film critic and editor at the Montreal Mirror. His musical entertainment project The World Provider (featuring Akimblog's Montreal correspondent Stacey DeWolfe) just released its fourth album, History of Pain. They perform in Toronto on Friday, September 23 at the Tranzac Main Hall with Tomboyfriend and The Canadian Romantic (as well as in Waterloo on September 22 and Guelph on September 24). His latest film, Corpusse: Surrender to the Passion, a portrait of the longstanding heavy-metal performance artist, screens along with a performance by Corpusse at the Wavelength music series at Cinecycle on Saturday, October 29.

1. Abner Jay

This outsider/bluesman/one-man band (1921-1993) gets me smiling, pondering, and feeling the blues every time his music pops up on my playlist. Weird, politically incorrect rants about cocaine, women, hangovers, and depression sung with bone-chilling sincerity or jokey folksiness as the subject demands over a ramshackle blues shuffle. A collection of his self-released recordings called One Man Band was reissued by Mississippi Records in 2009. Highly recommended.

2. Aaron Cometbus, In China with Green Day

Not only do people still make zines, some of the people from back in the day are still doing so. Punk rock lifer Cometbus was invited by his old friends in Green Day to accompany them on their tour of Asia, and he describes the trip while internally interrogating his hosts, their success, and his own conflicted feelings, somehow managing to be brutally honest without being unnecessarily harsh. Still exploring topics many of us left behind with adolescence, but with the intellectual honesty and brilliantly simple writing style that come with maturity, he produces a must-read document for anyone with a past or present connection to the punk scene.

3. Montreal food bloggers

I love food, but I need people to motivate me, otherwise I just make variations on “leftover soup” or “stir-fry with whatever’s in the fridge.” There are some people who can tweet what they had for lunch every day and it’s interesting. I am not one of those people (unless you would find something like #toast interesting), but Natasha Pickowicz of Popcorn Plays certainly is. She is also a baker at the finest (and only) dépanneur-with-lunch-counter in town - Dépanneur Le Pick Up - and a pro writer on subjects far and large. Then there’s Culinary Propaganda from local urban planner/chef/racounteur Bartek Komorowski. Along with recipes (his mackerel potato salad is a winner), he’s also produced a couple of pretty hilarious videos (how can you go wrong with a simulated sex scene between Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver?). Vegans beware, he takes a staunchly pro-meat stance. Of course, the fine folks at …an endless banquet are also very good, especially at making you jealous of their lifestyle.

4. The Art of Jack Davis

Davis is one of the lesser-known artists from the classic era of Mad magazine, a caricaturist, and an illustrator of amazing detail. Editor Hank Harrison did an amazing (pre-internet!) research job tracking down cartoons dating back to Davis’s beginnings as a WWII cartoonist right up to his Mad heyday. This book is going on Amazon for $100; I found a slightly waterlogged copy in a bargain bin outside a used bookstore in Hawaii, of all places, for a few dollars.

5. Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City

I tried and failed to get into Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying this novel: a chronicle of pothead paranoia in an alternate-reality Manhattan. Hilarious yet strangely heartbreaking at the same time.



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