Month: February 2013

We take these gifts when the world shifts.


My friend Adam just released an album, and he’s giving physical copies away for free at Dr. Disc and AH Some Records. If you like Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine, Bleach-era Nirvana, and/or “dirty, slippery, visceral, palpable intensity weathered by destruction and delirious lust”, you should check it out. I dig it. You can borrow my shovel and dig it too if you’d like. But you have to bring it back before April. I’m gonna need that shovel when the spring rain starts to fall.

This is one of my favourite songs on the album. It makes me think of what might have happened if Mark Sandman decided he wanted to write a melodic grunge song.

And hey, my name is in the album credits as a mastering engineer! Mastering music I didn’t record myself isn’t something I’ve ever done before, and it’s not something I consider myself all that adept at doing, but it was a fun challenge to use the gear I have to try and punch things up and bring up the volume while keeping it musical. Adam was happy, so I must have done okay. Bandcamp makes it sound a little more compressed than it really is, but ain’t no big thing.

You’ll never know.

Mindy McCready had been troubled for a long time. It wasn’t a shock when I heard she’d killed herself so much as it was startling to learn how she’d gone about doing it.

In January, David Wilson, Mindy’s music producer boyfriend — and seemingly one of the few stabilizing forces in her life in recent years — shot himself on the front porch of the home they shared. No one seems to know why he chose to take his own life. A month later, Mindy shot herself on that same front porch after shooting her boyfriend’s dog (to “take him with her” so his owner could see him again, a friend explained to the press). She was thirty-seven years old.

At the outset of her promising musical career, no one would have ever dreamed it would end this way. She had a record deal in Nashville, a double platinum-selling album, and a #1 hit single, all when she was barely into her twenties. She was beautiful. She could sing. She was poised to be the next Faith Hill, without the early hair issues.

Each successive album she released after her first sold less and less, until she was dropped by her record label. She got another record deal, released an album that did even worse business, and was dropped again. It’s not clear where things began to go wrong. Maybe it was when her country singer boyfriend Billy McKnight was charged with attempted murder for beating and choking her until she blacked out. She attempted suicide two months later. She survived, they got back together, and she had his child.

Maybe it was the drugs and alcohol. She was arrested in 2004 for drug fraud after buying Oxycontin with a fake prescription. A year later she was stopped by Nashville police while driving drunk with a suspended license. Two months after that she was charged with identity theft, unlawful use of transportation, unlawful imprisonment, and hindering prosecution.

And on it went: probation violations. Assault. Resisting arrest. More probation violations. Jail time. A sex tape. A custody battle after her son was taken away from her. She tried to kidnap him while he was in her mother’s care. The two of them were found huddled together in a closet, hiding.

Something must have led to all of this. There had to be a tipping point. Three years ago, in an interview, Mindy summed up her life as “a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time. My entire life, things have been attracted to me, and vice versa, that turn into chaotic nightmares. Or I create the chaos myself.”

In January 2012, she posted an update on her website that may be the closest we ever get to an explanation of what went wrong, and why:

The following is an overview of a future book about my life.

I haven’t had a hit in almost a decade. I’ve spent my fortune, tarnished my public view, and made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. I’ve been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed, and evicted. But I’m still here. With a handful of people that I know and trust, a revived determination, and both middle fingers up in the air, I’m ready. I’ve been here before. I’m a fighter. I’m down, but I’ll never be out.

This book is not about shifting blame. I know I’ve made mistakes and I take full responsibility for those mistakes. This book is part diary, part therapy, part confessional, part job, and part apology. But mostly, I just want people to understand me better. So when people like Nancy Grace or the TMZ parasites pass judgment, they can do so with the full story.

She went on to write:

My drive came from an abusive upbringing and the dependence of two younger brothers. My fame came from my success as a country music singer. My infamy came from outside my career: bar-brawls, secret affairs, domestic violence, drug charges, jail time, rehab stays, and suicide attempts. I could say that the information was taken out of context, blown out of proportion and completely misconstrued, and a lot of it was. Some things, however — more than I’d like to admit — are just the sad truth. But what nobody knows are the details behind the splashy headlines. The person I am, the intentions behind every bad decision, and events leading up to each “I can’t believe I did that” moment. This book will supply me the opportunity to show that I’m not so different from my fans and antagonists.

I was an underdog from birth. I was born into an unhealthy house ruled by a mother who was too young and too violent to successfully take care of children. My two brothers who would eventually look to me for rescue came later. Nature gave me the ability to sing and favourable looks. My mother taught me the art of manipulation and convenient detachment. My father taught me to depend on no one. My brothers showed me the necessity to succeed and sever the dependence on our parents. Armed with this, I graduated high school early and moved to Nashville to be a star.

Two years later that is just what I was. With my first album I became one of the top selling debut female country artists of all time. The view from the top of the charts was inspiring but fleeting. The men I dated on the way up and the way down were incredible and terrifying. I’ve been engaged to a movie star, courted by a prince, kept by a professional baseball player, and nearly beaten to death by the man who would father my son.

Now, I have no delusions about my seemingly precarious situation. I have served a total of seven months in jail. I have just spent six weeks at an inpatient facility where I worked with doctors and counsellors every day. The FBI and U.S. Congress are currently seeking my testimony against Roger Clemens, a man I once loved. My public persona is badly warped and bears little resemblance to the person those closest to me know. My musical career has been on hold for several years. Still I have a record deal, a reality TV show in the making, a full team of managers, lawyers and assistants, and a new clarity to accompany my devilish determination and ferocious work ethic. I’m ready for whatever comes next. This extraordinary life, begging to be written, is a comeback story.

She didn’t live to write that story.

Mindy’s last boyfriend, with whom she had a second child, was probably the closest thing to an anchor she had left. She called him her soulmate. Once he was gone, she must have felt alone, abandoned, and used up by life.

She attempted suicide four times in seven years before finally succeeding. You get the feeling more could have been done by those around her to try and help her. I’m not sure Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew was the answer. She was hospitalized in the aftermath of Wilson’s death to receive treatment for “alcohol abuse and mental issues”, only to be released to an outpatient facility almost immediately when it was determined that she didn’t fit the profile for alcoholism and was capable of living on her own.

Some people have written about how selfish it was for her to leave her children behind. I don’t think it’s that simple, and I don’t think they understand the way a person’s mind works when they’re in that amount of pain. You just want it all to end. You feel like you’ll be doing everyone a favour if they’re rid of you. You don’t think you’re doing them any good at all by sticking around, because in your mind you’re nothing but a soulless void. Human waste. You can never feel any real forward momentum, no matter how hard you try to search for reasons to keep going. You’re running in place on a set of legs that no longer respond to the signals your brain is trying to send them. And you don’t see any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. There’s just a viscous sea of black stretching out in every direction, as far as you can see.

Try waking up and dealing with that every day, all day. Then try being a woman who has it hammered into your head by the media that your best days are behind you and, nearing forty, you’re no longer considered beautiful or desirable. Try realizing you’re no longer welcome in an industry that’s more interested in Taylor Swift’s six millionth brain-dead song about what an awful boyfriend some other celebrity douchebag was than anything you might have to say. Try fighting for years to gain full custody of your oldest son, finally winning that battle, and then a month later having the man you plan to marry and spend the rest of your life with shoot himself in the head on your front porch. Try then having your children taken away from you for good and placed in a state care facility, and dealing with the possibility that at some point the ex-boyfriend who tried to kill you may get custody of at least one of them.

See how well you do.

Mindy wasn’t a songwriter. Not really. And this is what I keep coming back to. On her last album, she’s credited as a co-writer on a few songs. In the music industry, all that usually means is the singer came up with a vague concept or contributed a few rhymes, while the “professional” songwriters did the heavy lifting.

She was a song interpreter. And that’s very different from being a writer. The most skilled song interpreters — singers like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Elvis Presley — could take just about any song and make it sound like no one in the world had ever sung it before them, and no one else ever would or could again.

The trick is, a singer who isn’t a writer needs other people to write the songs for them. Architects to build them rooms to walk around inside of. And I don’t imagine it’s easy to find songs you connect with on a deep enough level, and rooms you feel comfortable enough inhabiting, to make music that means something to you.

Those of us who are writers, we’re lucky. We can at least throw a leash around our demons and try to lead them somewhere. We don’t need to look to someone else to do it for us, hoping they’ve got strong enough hands for the job. We don’t need anyone to ghostwrite the autobiographies of our souls.

Mindy McCready didn’t have that catharsis — that place she could go to wrestle back some control, however fleeting. And I can’t shake the feeling that it might have made a difference if she had. It might not have saved her, but it could have given her an oar to row through that deep black muck she got lost in. Maybe she would have been able to keep herself afloat a little while longer.

How lonely it must be to be a singer who can’t find the song that might set you free.

No one’s the wiser.

This is a weird song. Maybe it’s fitting that it now has a weird video to go with it.

If we lived in some bizarro world in which I had a record company behind me and they wanted me to release singles, I would probably push for this to be the first single off of THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE, because it doesn’t sound much like anything else on the album — and that’s just the kind of backwards anti-promotional thing that appeals to me.

The song began as little more than an improvised bass part. I called it “Doomy Bass” and had no idea what to do with it. A month after recording that initial part I added some electric guitar and drums. It still didn’t feel like a song, even after I wrote some lyrics about Jesus driving an electric car. What finally gave the thing some much-needed direction was coming up with a completely different vocal melody and singing it like I was trying to channel Ian Curtis.

The end result sounds, at least to my ears, like I spent some time abusing barbiturates in a grimy basement while listening to a lot of 1980s goth rock and post-punk, with my brain melting what it took from that stimulus into a slowed-down melodic goo. I can’t say I’ve ever done anything else quite like this before. Initially there was some jazzy piano in there, but in the end it didn’t feel like the right touch. So I added more layers of electric guitar instead and tacked on a dreamy, improvised coda. Every electric guitar part in there is the funky 1960s Teisco, which continues to be more versatile than it has any right to be.

One thing worth noting: my voice wasn’t slowed-down, though it kind of sounds like it was. I did, however, record all of the instrumental parts at a slightly faster-than-normal speed, so everything was a little deeper and thicker when played back at normal speed. I just ended up naturally singing deeper in my range and in a way that doesn’t really sound like me at all. I was able to dial in a delay effect that keeps feeding back on itself, and you can hear it whooshing around after each drum hit. As for the lyrics, they don’t really mean anything at all. Just random ominous stuff.

The video is some slightly chopped-up footage from Heksensabbath (Witches Sabbath), a bizarre Dutch animated short film from director Cornelius Capsenberg and animator Ronald Raajimakers. Just about the only information I can dredge up about it is that it was made in 1986 and it’s an apparent homage to Dutch novelist and poet Louis Couperus.

As is often the case, I didn’t do a whole lot of editing. I cut out the less twisted moments, slowed down a few bits at the end to get the timing to line up with the song’s coda, and that was about it. I think the surreal images suit the music, in a weird way.

So, in the past few weeks I’ve posted a bit of new music, a semi-controversial “opinion piece”, some swearing, some random silliness, and now here’s another one of those DIY music videos I make sometimes using public domain footage. About all that’s missing is a video progress report and a video that shows all the different elements of a song being recorded in the “studio”, and then I think this blog will just about be back on track. Took me long enough to get back in the groove. I still feel like holding off on bringing the progress reports back until ANGLE is ready to go, but at least most of the pieces are there.

Almost forgot — viewer discretion is advised. This video contains nudity and some very strange sexual imagery.

In the shape of a heart.

mic cord heart.

You know what’s fun? Looking down at the floor in the “studio” (I’m going to keep putting that in quotation marks for the time being, because “room of stuff” feels like a much better description), and seeing that image up there.

I swear to you I didn’t manipulate it in any way. If I had, the heart would be a little more symmetrical.

There are two blue microphone cables that get shuffled back and forth between the SDC mics pointed at the piano and the stereo ribbon mic I use to record the drums. They get twisted up into all kinds of shapes, but never have I seen them form anything so cool or recognizable. I looked down while making my way from one room to the next, and there was a blue heart staring back at me — a blue heart that had somehow created itself when I wasn’t paying attention. It makes me just a little sad to know that in a day or two this heart will be pulled apart when the cables are moved around yet again.

Being pulled apart is better than being broken, right?

And hey — this blog just turned five years old! Here’s a song in celebration.

Competition and malnutrition.

the mystical thong fish.

This is a fish made out of thongs.

To that end, I used to have a CBC Radio 3 page. I had a bunch of songs up there, along with some pictures and video content. I ended up getting a little bit of unexpected airplay through that, though it didn’t lead anywhere meaningful. When I sent an email to the guy who gave me some short-lived attention thanking him and offering to send him more music, he didn’t respond, and he never bothered acknowledging that I existed again after that. As you do.

A year or two ago I tried to delete the page. The site wouldn’t let me. So I gutted it of all its content and left it as an empty shell. A digital husk.

Part of the reasoning behind this was realizing I’d lost any interest I might have once had in playing any part of the “game” when it comes to music and networking, and I’d grown tired of making myself so easy to find while some people persisted in painting me as being inaccessible. I figured if I was going to be called a recluse all the time, I might as well start acting like one — you know, give the people what they want.

If I’m completely honest, another one of the reasons I wanted to obliterate my CBC Radio 3 page was because of contests and competitions like the one that’s going on right now. In this case, it’s The Search for Canada’s Best New Artist or some such thing.

Let’s talk about that for a second.

This contest isn’t even what it claims to be. If it really was a search for the best new artist, most of the bands and artists who’ve entered would be disqualified by default. Because they’re not new. Many of them have been bands for quite a few years now. Hell, I’m nowhere near being new myself. I’ve been creating and recording music since 1994. So I couldn’t enter this contest and honestly call myself a new artist.

But that’s kind of beside the point. And what is the point? I don’t like competition in art. At least not this kind. I don’t like contests. I think they’re kind of stupid, and often altogether pointless. And I think a real artist is someone who’s too busy creating art to care much about getting involved in these kinds of things.

Let me be clear here: I support local artists and anyone who’s trying to make a living through their art. I’ve done a lot of things to help a lot of different people over the years in an effort to facilitate that. That I usually ended up getting stabbed in the back for my trouble and/or tossed aside once I fulfilled my purpose doesn’t diminish that my motives were good and I at least did what I said I was going to do, unlike most of the people I went out of my way to help.

I’ve given a lot of money, time, effort, thought, and whatever skills I have — not because I thought I might look good doing it or get a reach-around when it was all over, but because I wanted to, and because it felt like the right thing to do. Even after all the bad experiences I’ve had, that impulse is still there, at least most days. When it comes to music, I’ll help a friend if i can. I’ll help someone I don’t even really know if I can, as long as they seem like a decent person who isn’t going to force-feed me liver and onions at knife-point.

I just can’t stomach that stuff.

I’ve been a voter in these kinds of contests before. Once I even played a small role in someone winning. At least I thought I did. I felt like I’d been part of something incredible, and it proved to me that a small community banding together really can make a difference and carry an underdog to improbable success. It kind of restored my faith in people a little bit.

Those good feelings were short-lived. I learned the real reason for the victory was a whole lot of cheating, lying, and some clever exploiting of loopholes. This was encouraged by the victor, tacitly if not directly, and then bragged about after the fact. I voted the legitimate way, playing by the rules, thinking I was making a difference, while all around me people were creating countless fake profiles and using different email addresses to stack the deck in their favour.

When I found out about that, I felt dirty. I felt like I’d been robbed of something that was never really mine to begin with. And then I got to watch the person who’d stolen it manufacture a tale of how they came to possess this thing they didn’t really deserve, while an audience assembled and gave truth to the lie of how it came to be theirs so they too could claim to be a part of the story.

It didn’t matter to them that none of it was based on anything real. A good story tells itself, after all. They were little more than peripheral characters who got to write their own dialogue.

Some people will make — and have made — the argument that the ends justify the means. That if the “right” person wins it doesn’t matter how they won. And if one individual or entity in a community wins, everyone wins. So who cares?

Those people are entitled to make those arguments. Doesn’t mean I’m going to see any validity in them, just as they’re not going to agree with what I have to say. And if they want to respond to my rant by using my name in a pun designed to denigrate me, they’re entitled to do that too. I feel what I feel, and they feel what they feel, and never the twain shall meet.

(If I were one of these folks, I would make sure I knew what a word like “pragmatism” meant before using it to try and jab a stick in someone’s eye. I would also make sure I wasn’t just holding a mirror up to my own hypocrisy by making such a public show of taking a simple difference of opinion and turning it into an excuse to stoop to the level of ad hominem attacks because I was trying to win this very contest and didn’t like some of the sketchy tactics I was employing being called into question. I wouldn’t engage in a bizarre two-tiered attempt at publicly shaming the person I disagreed with and drumming up some attention for myself by trying to bring our disagreement to the attention of the CBC. And I wouldn’t then take the coward’s way out and make my entire blog private so no one could read my side of the argument after it didn’t really play out in my favour. But hey, that’s just me.)

Back to the contest. Really, the whole thing has nothing to do with talent or the artistic merit of the submissions. Whoever wins will be the artist or band capable of getting the most people to vote for them, through whatever means necessary. It’s a popularity contest. Nothing more. The prize is $20,000 worth of musical equipment from Yamaha and a professionally recorded radio session to help give the winner some exposure. Chances are whoever wins this thing won’t need the equipment, and they’ll already have a pretty large built-in audience.

The whole thing is a mirage designed to give assistance to those who don’t need it while ignoring those who might benefit from it.

Here’s an idea. Instead of having a competition that rewards popularity, how about pooling your resources and finding a few artists who are making amazing music in their basements, who don’t have any real audience, who don’t have much money or equipment but love what they do and have talent that transcends their technical limitations? How about giving them some of this equipment you’re able to obtain for free or next-to-nothing thanks to the deals you have with manufacturers, and giving them the opportunity to record a song or two in a professional environment, and giving them a little bit of exposure if they want it, because you think what they do deserves to be heard by a few more people?

But wait! That would require some research and dedication, and the only real reward would be doing something great for someone who’s deserving but might not ever get the chance to show many people what they can do for one reason or another. You couldn’t just set up an automated online system to tabulate votes and let the whole thing take care of itself, knowing you would end up with a nice-looking, inoffensive, creatively bankrupt musical entity to promote at the end of it all. You’d have to do some actual work and use your brain and heart in order to make something happen.

It’s a nice idea, anyway.

I guess this is all just my long-winded way of saying I think this facet of competition as a general thing is pretty silly, and it’s not something I’m interested in being any part of anymore. I don’t even want to watch from the sidelines.

I have better things to do. I have music to make.

It’s that time again — the day before Half-Price Chocolate Day!

If you have an aversion to strong profanity you might be better off not scrolling down to look at the following image. Matter of fact, you might be better off not reading this post at all. But because it’s Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t help myself. Plus, this pseudo eCard just cracked me up. Had I a significant other with a suitably twisted sense of humour, I would probably send it to her.

a valentine's day card

To that end, for someone who isn’t a big fan of love songs most of the time it turns out I’ve written a fair amount of songs at least mentioning that four letter word. Here are some relevant lyrics of mine I’ve assembled for your reading pleasure.

“Love is not kind; it’s a pile of shit you set on fire. But if you can get past the stench, there’s a beauty there you cannot deny.
— from Handfasting (unreleased)

“Love is an underage stethoscope you keep in your ice skates for show.”

“Last night you gave birth to a whale. It was a stunning thing to witness. When you cooed and touched his shiny skin, we knew it was something approaching love at first sight.”
— from Kamikaze Daybreak (CREATIVE NIGHTMARES)

“Love is an answering machine that eats all my messages, but it’s just so cute in the way it goes about it.”
— from Emotional Blackmail (GIFT FOR A SPIDER)

“I love you so much I just can’t stand it, even though you treat me like shit, shit, shit.”
— from Ring Around Me (SUBLIMINAL BILE)

“Love is like a dandelion on its deathbed.”

“‘Love me, love me,’ you say. ‘Hold me, hold me in your arms.’ ‘Love me, love me,’ you say. ‘Never do me any harm.’ But I can’t make you any promises.”
— from Promises (CHILDREN HAVE NO EYES)

“Love turns us all into idiots — the rabid, scowling, clawing kind. We cling to the scentless artifice like disembodied soldier fish.”

“Don’t fall in love with somebody who won’t love you back. Don’t fall at all; turn around, take two steps to your left.”
— from In a Dream I Told You This

“I know all your love is taken…but you’ve got something better squirreled away.”
— from Getting into Character (IF I HAD A QUARTER…)

“This is your decrepit house. Your love makes it cry. The tears fall in your mouth. It’s just like licking metal.”
— from People Are Starting to Move in There (GROWING SIDEWAYS)

“The filth of your love engulfs me.”
— from Filth of Your Love (PAPER CHEST HAIR)

“My love has eyes like razors that bleed into my skull.”

“It seems like you love everyone, in varying amounts, at different times, when convenience allows.”
— from You Will Never (OH YOU THIS)

“Distance has made a mockery of our love. So have I.”
— from Everything Matters, Everyone Cares

“Love is something I killed when it kept me up all night.”
— from Defenestrate Your Heart (AN ABSENCE OF SWAY)

“There’s no such thing as love — just misplaced pity, and indigestion, and improper inflection.”
— from I’m Optimistic (GIFT FOR A SPIDER)

If you ever needed proof that I’m a hopeless romantic, well…there it is. And here’s the ultimate Valentine’s Day song, from Master Harry.

Doing the promotional dance in reverse.

a silhouette dance

I probably should have said something about the show I was playing with Travis on Friday at Green Bean before it actually happened, but my recent habit of being kind of lax in the blogging department continues. So that didn’t happen. The show did, though. Consider this your notice. Now just travel back in time a handful of days, and everything will even out.

Unlike the last two times we played together at Green Bean, this show featured a full band, with Eryk Myskow on bass and Caleb Farrugia holding it down behind the drums. I stuck to playing what I guess you would call “lead digital piano”. Local singer/songwriter Erin Britton was kind enough to let me use her keyboard, since for all the things with keys I have around here, a portable digital piano isn’t one of them, and taking the upright with me to a gig isn’t exactly practical.

Somehow it came out in print that this was a “Johnny West and Friends” show. Which is bizarre. It clearly said “Travis Reitsma & Johnny West” on all the posters and the Facebook event page, with his name above mine and in a larger font. Also, you’d think anyone who follows my music even a little bit would know I’m not going to be playing my own material live at this point in a venue that isn’t equipped with a real acoustic piano.

That’s not a knock against Green Bean. I really like the place. I should hang out there more often than I do. But I think it’s been established by now, here and elsewhere, that Mackenzie Hall is my place. If I am going to bother playing live in any capacity other than doing the occasional sideman thing, that’s where it’s going to happen.

Or I’ll play a show in someone’s closet. Hey, you’d be surprised how roomy some closets are. You can even fit a piano in some of ’em.

It was a non-issue, because there wasn’t a single person who showed up expecting to hear anything other than Travis’s songs with me playing a supporting role. I just think it’s sad when someone who’s still got a sore ass over not coming out on top in a war of words/music a few years ago will try to hit back at you long after the fact by defiling what little journalistic integrity they might have had left, printing things that aren’t true in an effort to screw something up. Impotence, thy name is…that guy.

The show itself was fun. At the same time, it reminded me why I hadn’t played live at all since September of 2011. There’s way too much anxiety wrapped up in live performance for me to put myself through it on anything more than an occasional basis.

With the exception of my experiences at Mackenzie Hall (and maybe the FM Lounge), anytime I hear my voice coming out of a monitor onstage it sounds wrong to me, I lose confidence in my ability to sing in tune, and I end up giving shitty vocal performances as a result, whether I’m singing lead or harmony. I tend to get a little busier on whatever instrument I’m playing to compensate for that and focus most of my energy in that direction.

I guess this works on some level, because I get people coming up to me after the show telling me how good they thought I was (and they seem to be sincere). Me, I kind of wish I had a large wooden trunk I could crawl into and lock from the inside.

Come to think of it, I think I could count the live performances I’ve come out of with significant good feelings on the fingers of one hand. It’s just not where I’m comfortable, and it hasn’t been for a long time. There was that surreal set at the FM Lounge with Max on upright bass where it felt like I could do no wrong, and there were the two Mackenzie Hall gigs, and then everything else tends to live in different ranges of “this could be worse” and “get me the fuck out of here”, even when it’s going well. That’s just my own personal thing.

Having said that, there was a good turnout, there were several professional dancers who just happened to be at Green Bean and busted out some choreographed moves to Travis’s musical craftsmanship, and I got to chew on a good sandwich. So those were a few definite points in the evening’s favour. One of them is a partial fabrication (it was more “random swaying” than “choreographed dancing”, really), but who’s keeping track?