#JVT 1984-2013

On January 15th 2013 Jon “Vermont” Hughes died at the age of 28. He was a friend with whom I spent a good part of 2010 travelling around the world sharing vans, beds, good and better times. Music brought us together, more specifically my favorite hardcore band coming up in the scene (and still) “Madball” made it happen. As sad as I am right now, mixed up on the idea that life can make you new friends and take them away in seconds I couldn’t be happier that I knew parts of the man Jon is/was to myself and so many.

Vermont Maple Syrup is good.

I have had many moments over the last week where I wished that that a month ago I could have stayed with Jon a little longer during the “Madball” show here in Toronto. Maybe I could have helped him carry his bins after the show and talk more about what was happening in his life. We spoke for a bit, but right now it feels like it wasn’t long enough. I’m happy that I held our hug out a little longer than he was comfortable with, expressing the love we had for each other (I definitely was still holding Jon when we did, he had no choice my clench was too solid). That’s the thing with friendship- even despite the times I was a grumpy a-hole on tour and we’d yell at each other for a couple seconds (because I was a grumpy a-hole), we shared a lot of fun; Those short and moody moments paled in comparison to all the living we did together.

Reminiscing I feel some Sinicism arising- it’s quite the gift that life hands us… we are forced into this world living the life that our caretakers/parents/guardians live. Once we are old enough to feel free choice, we do with our life however please until it is taken away from us willingly/by accident or because nature intended it. Then I think about my own choices, regardless “good” or “bad” they will ultimately result in the same thing- certain death. Maybe not today, tomorrow but definitely one day I will be removed from this life that I committed to living. This is the part of me that feels angry at life unfairly taking people like Jon away from us too soon and others not soon enough. While a large part of me understands why it happens, the other is just plain pissed.

The sadness of his death looms over my head, though I can see life’s M.O. a little clearer with each passing thought/feeling about it’s meaning.  I, unlike my friend Jon am given another opportunity to do the most I can with today. I am able to tell the ones I love how I am feeling, share with them my struggles and successes. I can reach out and ask for help, tell other friends that I am glad that they are alive and still a part of my heart. I can live out certain dreams, goals, make a choice to stop making the same mistakes that I make everyday; those that take up unnecessary room in my soul, slow me down and have me working harder on fixing the past rather than building my future.

Jon, I miss you my friend and in your memory I will be reminded to celebrate life while I am still here. Find new ways to embrace opportunity, roll with the punches and make the best of a chaotic day where anything can happen. The new friends I will make, the ones I have will be shown the same love that has been passed on from you to all of us still here.

I’ll see you when I see you Jon, You were and still are missed/loved.

Rest in Peace Brother.

Shout! Shout, Let It All Out.

I back it.

I am far from being the only urban cave-person out there who craves the hunt for something primal. I see it all around me in the way people behave amongst each other: passive-aggressive comments, drunken fights and everyday road/off road rage. Based on our safe manners and fake politeness it’s clear that there’s a need for us to be physically released from our soft fleshed prisons.

The recurring gut instinct to smash, lift, grab and dominate things will forever be ours to own. I get it everyday, the feeling is sudden and classically seems to happen when I’m in an environment that wouldn’t agree with such types of behaviour. I then resort to doing what most are used to doing, quietly rage internally and push the feeling further down the emotional funnel. What I really want to do is throw someone on my back, ask them where they want to go and just bolt. It’s the beast in me that is starving to let me carry, provide, assist and conquer any task demanded of me. I want to literally bring home the bacon and be carrying it by it’s tusks.

Love.

At what age did we start to lose our minds? I used to sit in class wishing that I could stand, walk around and actively participate with the rest of the students. School taught me some important life lessons but it didn’t encourage or teach me to control my wild side. Now as an adult I find It’s still not enough to go through life tackling business goals, crushing paper work and owning high test scores; Although important for some financial/modern-day survival, its positive impact on our physical health is next to none. What I call for is tough, somewhat risky work but with a strong support system. With enough re-tuning of our body/senses, we can take on any new terrain and trust that we’ll make it out alright.

Sing and Destroy

To not go stir crazy in this life we have to do what we know best, move and learn new ways of moving. Set challenges for yourselves regardless of where you are and when you need a refresher, seek assistance from others. I provide a base of support for those who are looking to escape the emotional burden of carrying and cradling a stunted, silenced primitive being; Trust me when I say I need it too. Instead of pretending we live in another time with trying to hunt/gather our own food, we can dig deep and wake up the part of us that could, if called upon.

Feed it, tame it and don’t shame it.

10 years old and spending my allowance.

beast of luck.

Why? Why Not!

“Exercising” or being “active” takes on a whole new twist when it’s applicable to everyday life. I acknowledge that feeling/looking great is an undeniable perk of doing fit things, though there is/has got to be more reasons behind why we stay physical and who else benefits.

The value of strength, speed or endurance goes beyond vanity when being able to accomplish physically taxing tasks. I exercise in a seemingly controlled environment to build my confidence up, hoping to succeed through life’s everyday challenges. I’m often reminded that being conditioned is not a top list item for some; every day, “simple” primal movements are and become more complex over the course of time.

Individuals wrapped up in a side of life that is counter productive to the progression of their overall health, get the same wake up call(s) the rest of us do. Our imagination creates current physical state, that we will remain steady for an undetermined amount of time till the ground splits, our roots shook and the seed of life is blown into our wounds. There are so many breaths life has for us, take one now and reposition.

Enjoy the show and spread the wealth that is your health, because like others I benefit from your fuel.


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Just Use What You’s Gave You.

I am fortunate to have amazing clients, those whom are extremely talented and work amongst other’s cut from the same cloth. Andy McLeod and the team over at Sugino Studio put this piece together making this dude appear more awesome than awsum.

The Ben Project from Benjamin Dussault on Vimeo.

It’s been months and I’m still pumped to have been asked to participate in a project as fun than this one. The bonus of working with pros at his level is that they haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be pro “bros“. The only way I can describe that kind of work ethic is by recognizing that not once the entire shoot did I feel “little” or anything other than appreciated. The project had heart and so did the people involved. You see why these individuals are in the position that they’re in, working with the companies they do and how they get nothing but respect from me and by an industry in which they happen to dominate.

Stay close to those paving way with new ideas and keep one step ahead of the game. And cut.

nuR deR

Police-What kind of Bike is that? Me-It's an Old Silver Miele. I Wish they would have drawn it like Nadia Tan did here.

There’s something frustrating about repeating the same mistakes. Before it goes down I see the story scrolled out vividly in my mind. I feel my muscle memory  anticipating the outcome and yet part of me makes believe what will happen, won’t. I love this brain of mine though I call bullsh*t on playing pretend.

I got pulled over recently, on my bicycle and riding through a red light just as it was turning green. I knew the police cruiser was there with me like it had been 3 lights ago. I made a choice, I was letting life know that I was ready for another test- I would cruise through it slowly/nonchalantly and see if they would pull me over. I’ve heard a few bikers complain about getting pinched for running the red, but I guess I never really listened to their tales. If I had and not acted like I was the exception to the rule my day would have gone on without the fine that I acquired. It’s the price I (may) pay for betting on 50/50 odds, chances laying in favour of “most probably getting pulled over”- a terrible yearbook quote queued to the already obvious punk rock “hates authority” one that’s been there since the beginning of Ben. O’Doyle rules!

Im outing the fact that at 32 years of age Im still as unsure about the undoubtedly demanding role of the cop character as I was when I was a teen. The adult in me understands their pressures in dealing with society’s numerous expectations as well as noticing that  much like every group, some are in it for the “good” and other’s “bad”- Whatever that means. Why they can’t be challenged, by me and on my bike is much like the previous statement, obvious with a chance of ticket. Thankfully I didn’t go through with the Tour De Toronto, high speed chase option I was visualizing in my head.”Drive” makes it look so rad.

It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit that I was actively seeking to establish an alpha male status of who rules who. I haven’t quite accepted that at this point in my life there is very little I can do to change laws or the way they are delegated. Regardless, when I find my stride there is very little for me to do for others to notice. I’m continuing onwards, standing behind my actions and doing all I can to remember to take responsibility for them.  I’m sure the next opportunity will arise soon to test how smooth I can cruise through street tracks and it’s many cracks. The past is a lesson for me to move freely on without fear of repeating offence. Revisiting it only puts hold on future goals and I feel that I’m at least one step up from where I was… also potentially down 325$.

me-ow

I accept that I was wrong and I’ll see you in court, Frenchie styles.

Ice-B out.

Oh Lord, Not Two Rings?! The Engagement Story Part 2.

Part Deux

Did I mention that I bought her 2 rings? Not for the same event, one was to celebrate the show being over and done with, the other for said proposal. Both to be given within 4 days of one another. Here’s the logic, I would buy her the one ring and give it to her after her Matinee. It would be to say “congrats on doing such a wicked job, you rule, i’m so proud of you, I’m lowering your expectations of getting a proposal out of me because who gives 2 rings to their partner so soon together!?” I’d ask you to guess what happened when I handed her the first ring but I embarrassingly will admit that I was probably the only one not expecting the “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!” response. Sure it may have been proclaimed in a joking-like tone but it wasn’t far from a “I wish you’d ask me already, not kidding” manner. If you don’t know DKK, you should know that theatrics are in her blood, she can be the loudest human being on earth and also the scariest. At that time I was both scared of her extremely loud reaction and that I may have f*****cked up the plan of attack. Even more so when dude came up to me and said “congrats man, but why do you look so scared?”.

Three days later we pack our bags to depart. I’m nervous about how to hide the boxed ring  and wonder if I pocket, pack or wear it? I place it underneath my sweater and jacket to which I immediately realize that  it may be problematic-  Unpacking a little black box, a suspiciously similar black box to the black box I handed her 3 days ago? Nope, not sketchy at all. Take two, my dress shoe. I will stuff this box into my shoe and it should’t move at all or be noticed. It seemed the safest bet aside from, in hindsight taking it out of the box, placing it into my shaving kit which could go through a small compartment of the toiletry bag, finally resting safely inside the bag. Yeah I’m clearly not a figurative or literal think outside the box kinda guy. Shoe it was.

We get to the hotel and i need to break free for bit to gather candles for the bath, a fishing rope to tie the ring to (long story short, she loves fishing) and plan it with the staff there. Dani doesn’t buy my “its raining and we may not get an early check-in” story and wants to get out of the car. We both check in and head to our room with a complimentary “chose your breakfast” card, the opportunity I was looking for. We fill it out and I become mr.be ahead of schedule with the “I’ll be right back babe, just gonna hand this in so we’re sure to have breakfast, loooove you” attitude.  I talk to Melissa and Marieve at the front desk, one of which is french and the other a wedding planner… of course! Why wouldn’t I get a friendly french girl and a wedding planner to help me with my proposal? I guess It’s the way it goes when you’re on the right path. I get back and being the awesome lady that she is all my clothes have been taken out of my bag, shoes included. My wardrobe laid out and hung up, shoes with a little black box stuffed in them put away neatly along the floor. Holy crap… did she see the ring? I’m convinced I’m ruined, that this whole thing is a bust and so I panic the entire way to the spa.

The spa rules- hot baths, steam rooms, freezing pools of water, serenity lounges to lay and fall asleep in. After the massages We commit to one more round of spa action and head back to the hotel. I’m more nervous than before, it’s getting to that time and I still don’t know what she may or may not know. We enter our room, and I can smell the candles burning nicely. Dani thinks it’s the fireplace. The room is filled with music, dark and perfectly lit for a proposal that’s maybe about to go sorta wrong-ish. She sees the bath, all lit up and bubbly (more baths, good planning) and I ask her to get in while I get the playlist out on my computer. Mix tapes are the essence of a great set up, I had just the thing and the song to set it off to.

20 minutes into our bath which is really 4 hrs and 20mins of  post spa/bath/pruned skin time, I wait for THE song to come on (she told me months ago which song we would get married to, hint #65222) and I go to the ring. I’m naked (planned) and I look like I’m 80 from the waist down (not planned, at least there’s no misrepresenting her future). I go get the fishing rod Marieve made with ring #2 hanging off of it, I walk back into the room where she’s standing ankle deep in her water hell and I start panicking, What the heck do I say? I take a knee,

“Dani, I asked you 4yrs ago to be my Girlfriend in the shower, in California and now in this bath, today (seriously I was all over the map, freaking out inside!) I’d like to know if you’d wanna be my wife, someday!?!…Will you marry me?”

“what? what do you mean? You don’t want to get married? Babe, you said you didn’t want to get married!” I thought you kept saying……….and………

At this point I start freaking out inside because I’m feeling extra naked and very vulnerable. She goes on arguing facts about the past that I don’t really chose to remember right now and after about what seemed like 5 minutes of her talking I say-

“Dani can you look at what I’m holding?” (It was the fishing rod, perv)

“yeah, it’s my ring!”

“Yeah… wait, what? What does that mean? It’s a new ring, Look at it.”

“what ring is it?”

“It’s your engagement ring, I’m asking you to marry me… (I’m completely losing all confidence and faith right about now) Can you please just give me an answer, please?”

YES! Yes of course, Yes!”

The answer was yes and for 2 minutes or so I really wasn’t sure whether it would be.  With 4 loving years behind us why wouldn’t it be? I definitely wished at one point that I was Bill, excellent at life and all things proposal-like (or Ted?) and could go back in time to try that again. The reality is that I did it my way, which I can appreciate now and maybe not exactly then. After 5 hours of bath time we showered, laughed, cried a bunch, got dressed up, she made a few calls and 2 hrs later we went to go eat.

I feel the need to go and take shower right now, there’s a dirty what-was-I-thinking vibe lingering and it’s not from the beach workout I just came back from. My advice may not be warranted after this story but maybe sharing a passing thought- If you’re gonna ask someone to marry you please plan it out better than I did. Or, maybe don’t plan it at all and see where that takes you. I’m quite certain that if love accompanies sincerity any question you ask will be answered truthfully and from the heart. I love you Dani, thank you for wanting to spend more time in this life with me and for saying yes.

Peace, I’m engaged.

Oh Lord, Not Two Rings?! The Engagement Story Part 1.

I never thought I would be a “marriage guy” and  not that I really know what that means or who is but the thought of being IT just wasn’t me. Just to preface this blog I want to be clear that  this piece is in no way a means to glorify myself as a wonderful person for doing what I did. I just want to share a story, a story of love. heh.

So a few weeks ago, wait let’s rewind to a couple months ago I told a friend of ours that I was thinking of asking Dani to be my wife (one day, sometime soon maybe, maybe not if she’d rather be common law… whatever). The second I said it  I realized what I had just said and as messed up as it sounded coming out, it felt right. I’ve been trying to trust my gutt lately more than ever and the feeling that radiated through me was nice, real cozy-like. Our friend must have had the same good vibrations because she cried in her kitchen as her baked goods filled the room with the sweet smell of a success. I win.

I asked Dani’s papa (rest in peace) and sister for permission to have her hand in marriage. When they both said yes (I’m pretty sure he would have said yes) I proceeded to tell my friends, clients, family, our cats and they all seemed to be stoked. I was definitely looking for outside approval since I felt that giving into the whole tradition of marriage was betraying the old me. I wanted people who knew me to say “yeah, that rules, what an awesome idea” but truthfully it meant nothing unless I could get over my own fear. I know it can be very taxing on others to be around someone who wants control over everything, especially when it’s just to be different. This not getting hitched thing was a way to control the dynamics of our love, commitment and also a way to show others that we can do it our own way. I say “we” but what a joke that is because for the last year “I” have been hearing but trying to ignore/suppress the various wedding bell hints going off in our relationship. What a dick I was, sorry Dani and I’ll keep working on this listening thing.

I take advantage of the fact that Dani is doing a play during the April months, knowing full well that after 2 months of hard rehearsal and stage time she’ll want to get some down time to relax. I ask her if she’s into leaving for a night to go to our favourite spa and hotel to unwind, She says yes! Now the wheels are in motion and I have ammunition to set up a series of yes answers. I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do this proposal thing but I knew at least that it had to be with her. Obvious?

It’s ring buying time and my angst shows up to say that “this sh*t is whack and I’m not doing the diamond thing BUT (new me) if she wants diamonds I would consider it”. I know it makes no sense but it doesn’t have to be a senseless maniac for now. For now I have control so It’ll be diamond free and artsy all the way. The search still continues but we have stumbled on some rad pieces. A size 4 she is and is it bad that I didn’t notice her tinny fingers? Makes sense why I feel so manly around her, hands specific. Get it? Forget it.

To be continued… It’s a long story.

Low Dives, High Dives, D(r)iving Normal

Working on a meaningful project runs risks of potential success. While it is possible that one of many roads leading you there will be smooth and trouble free, It also may not be. I’m not sure that I truly believe in a product knowing full well that it’s path was paved with gold. I’m not sure I want any association to something silver that knew no struggle or fight. Those who continue to create without having sat for a minute to sip tea with their own demons, cannot recognize the internal and eternal friend from foe. So I wish to surround myself with people that have known some elements of suffering for their craft. Getting it out there, outside of their comfort zone, at their expense vulnerably going further each time for others to enjoy. These sometimes grimy roads twist, turn, rise and fall. It’s a reminder to take time to true the untrue wheel, be ready for a new start that’s just as challenging and even more magnificent than the current process. Let’s all be real, let’s be copper for just a second. A dirt bronzed penny in a sea of wealth and worth, a passing thought not left behind but passionately picked up again, excited to be combined with other’s similar darkness. Together we can better recognize our worth, eventually grow to spend our life’s lessons on something of true importance.

Support art and the artists expressing it, Please go see Diving Normal if you’re in the city. This is a team that has been working really hard, this is a group I believe in.

I’m pumped.

August 19, 1979

Driving back from my shoulder treatment and cruising homeward bound, I quickly made the decision to cross two lanes to enter Value Village‘s parking lot. I had a few hours to kill but gave myself 20 minutes to lurk around the store and hopefully find something “new” and totally rad to wear. I have enough jackets, sweaters, plaids, shoes to last me a lifetime which I pretty much bought exclusively from several of the Salvation Army, Goodwill, VV and random “ma ‘n pa” thrift stores around the world. I look ballin’ even though I may not really be, it’s all relative and means nothing in the end.

I enter heading directly towards the shoe section, still looking for the amazing pair of black dress shoes that I can rock hard on date night with the lady. Nearly colliding into a sofa pushing worker (not derogatory, he was actually pushing a Sofa through the aisles), I do some slick dodging and cutting to keep my steady time limited pace up. I need to honour that I gave myself a certain amount of minutes, so no more and no less. A few seconds deep into shoe shelf vision, I feel my attention strangely shift to the item that I just avoided bumping into. I turn to look at a beautiful fire coloured victorian style sofa with matching chair, ZOO-WEE MAMA! Piece by piece I lost my mind, everything felt right and the price was 100$ (taxes in for both items together). My partner and I have been saving up for “grown up” goods for over a year with still a ways to go, this could be the solution without the cost. Then it, well I got complicated.

My eyes shifted to another shinier set, something possibly better. To help make matters (worse for me at the time) simple (in hindsight), a woman mentioned she’d like to buy this distractingly sparkly chair for her daughter. Am I the only one that finds it harder to chose when I know what someone else wants and how I may also possibly want it? Classically I asked her to wait a few moments while I decided which was best. What I didn’t know then but know now was that the decision was already made. I take a few pictures, call a couple numbers and wake up my LA living lady of the house who suggests I make the choice on my own (what the #@$?). I continue to doubt myself for  a few more minutes and then finally sort of accept my first choice, the bright and maybe now too orange looking sofa/chair?! Whatever, it’s been decided. I try to tie up all loose ends and calm the internal storm by finding any person in charge as well as the patiently waiting woman.

Finding the right transport/moving company is part of the story that I’d like to kind of breeze over. A long story made shorter- I called a place, they quoted me, I waited 2hrs longer than what was promised, they tried to take more money from me aka rip me off so I gave them less but tipped the movers more (it wasn’t their business and I like to tip). We now have new furniture in our home and this specific chapter ends.

The question now was, do we rent a steam cleaner or hire professionals to do the job? It wasn’t time to be cheap when we’ve already saved so much so we go ahead and book through a recommended source. It’s Monday and Dani gets back from her trip, it’s a good day when she comes back to newer, cleaner, adult-like furniture dressed home. I receive a phone call, they’re here and the man on the other end informs me that he’s ready to get to work. I wasn’t sure when he said “this is Ben from …” but turns out that I share the same name as the dude. He’s the Albanian version but still that’s fun.

He comes over, we meet and I offer him food or water which at first thankfully declined but eventually accepted (let’s all practice saying yes!). I ask him if I can help with anything and politely he encourages me to let him be.Within two minutes I hear him in the other room and it sounds like he’s calling for me-

Ben-”uh hello?!”

Me- “what’s up, did you need me?”

Ben- “There’s something funny I found and you may want to come and see!”

Internally freaking out that our purchase was garbage, picturing the entire thing being full of bed bugs and all shredded inside…

Me- “alright…”

I walk in the living room and see him holding semi crumpled up pieces of yellow paper.

Ben- “Here look, I found this newspaper stuffed deep inside the cushions, it’s the real estate section, homes for 68 thousand dollars”

Relieved that nothing was wrong with the Sofa and not caring much about real estate I reach out to take what he’s handing to me.

Me- “Oh wow, that’s cool, I guess you’re into homes and stuff huh?!”

Ben- “Yes, that’s so cheap for what it costs these days”

Me- “When is this newspaper from anyways?”

I unfold the crinkled up corner trying to read the stained sheet and smudged font. Goose bumps cover my skin and I freeze up for what seemed forever. Wanting to start laughing and crying at the same time (It would have been a weird story for Ben if I did.), I see the EXACT date of my birthday, Aug 19th 1979.

That’s it, Thanks for reading.

Resolution Mother

My new year celebration has passed and is inching towards becoming just another number I forgot to write properly the first 2 weeks into it. It is in fact as some say “another year”, not much really changes in day to day life. Im not sure I remember having concrete resolutions this time… upon further reflection, I didn’t and I now remember why.

It might have a little something to do with previously taking 11 months and 31 days to swallow tennis ball sized guilt  for not having done what I said I would definitely do. Unfortunately Jan.1st does not offer a free turn at the clean slate switch, simply self confessing as a repeat offender  and doing it + more times. I’m over it.

What did I do different this time? There were no resolutions and yet I feel like I’m getting s*%t done. I’m productive, better organized and I feel great. I accept the mess that is me because it’s just how I’m gonna be. I’m clearer about my past patterns and love them because they’ve brought me here. I’m listening to my heart and trying to “think” less through the noise. I’m feeling my mistakes, rage filled moments and making peace with passion. I trust myself, believe that I can and will continue on whichever path I chose. I rule and therefore life can rule around me.

It’s so nice to change without forcing it to happen. If it’s in me, it most definitely lives in you. We can now all close our minds and just listen, because the music that is our soul has already wrote some of the greatest hits.

And the Emmy goes to…

Happy New Year.