Normal History Vol. 595: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Ice Floes Aweigh
The queen mother calls to mother west wind.

Let’s be nice, all right. Bless the castle, and the titles and protocol.

Dad asks is there anything I’d like to ask, like, before he dies, anything I’d like to know.

I ask, “Dad, where did your dad come from?”

But what I’d really like to know is why’d you throw that huge glass of chocolate milk at me when I said I was moving out, at 17? And did either of you read my last book? And why do you tell people you’re going to kill the guy in the trailer next door?

I’m sitting here alone, drinking tea instead of gin, I’m respectable.

My brother tells me, on the phone, that civilized people do not leave their parents in their old age.

I have ice floes in my mind, everywhere white. Fur-trimmed mittens, arms linked. The backs of hooded parkas. Ice floes aweigh. The mist moves between them and me. I feel guilt and relief. I should run after them, bring them back, serve them tea. Ice floes aweigh. The desire to run after them disappears. I grab the door of the plane, hoist myself in. I don’t look down. Are they waving up at me?

Tea is at 11 and again at 3. Breakfast comes right after coffee, which is at 8, with a muffin or a scone. Breakfast is oatmeal and lunch is at noon, dinner is at 6 right after the 5 o’clock news.

Dad talks too much, stories from 35 years ago, something someone said at the office in 1962 is still bothering him. Or what about the time he threatened to throw the tax auditor down the stairs. Or the time he turned the hose on the guy next door. Or what big losers Margaret Atwood and Joni Mitchell are.

The queen mother calls to mother west wind. Let’s be nice, all right.

Bless the castle, and the titles and protocol.

What I really want to know is why’d you throw that huge glass of chocolate milk at me when I said I was moving out, at 17?

Ice Floes Aweigh” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

Normal History Vol. 594: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I realize many people I’m connected with via the internet have no idea about my background/skills. I made a list to give a sense that buying a house (small town or rural, but not remote) to set up the Free Artist Residency For Progressive Social Change isn’t beyond me.

No Mind’s Eye” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

Normal History Vol. 593: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

The way we understand ourselves originates with the family. Typically a microcosm of patriarchy, depending on age and specifics. Children in families are regarded in various ways. In longer ago times, children helped with food production, child rearing and animal husbandry. Some cultures expect offspring to care for elders in twilight years.

Therapists have helped those who can afford their unravelling fees to dissect versions of family as a force in our lives that shapes experience well beyond those 18-25 years we’re clumped together in lunacy. Family. Much milk has been split on the subject.

To understand, dismantle and reconfigure life beyond patriarchy in terms of unjust appropriation of resources and jurisdiction requires similar interest and attention, but for those who continue to benefit (settler types) from the oppression of others this requires empathy. Empathy is a fragment of personality the development of which seems significantly jeopardized by difficult times during the childhood experience.

Empathy is the nose to which injustice is the stench.

“Cultivating an ethic of responsibility begins with non-natives understanding ourselves as beneficiaries of the illegal settlement of Indigenous people’s land and unjust appropriation of Indigenous peoples’ resources and jurisdiction.” —Harsha Walia, an excerpt from her 2012 essay “Moving Beyond A Politics Of Solidarity Towards A Practice Of Decolonization”

Family Swan” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

Normal History Vol. 592: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

At our first rehearsal (circa 1984), David took me out onto the tiny balcony on the back of the old wooden house he lived in across the alley from the Value Village on East Hastings in Vancouver. He handed me a potted plant and told me to chuck it onto the cement pathway leading from the house to the alley. I did. It smashed to smithereens. We came back inside and he said, “Belt it out!!!” I turned on the cassette tape recorder, and we did our first song: “Conform.”

“I Hear You” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

Normal History Vol. 591: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Excellent. All the information I needed was delivered with a sense of understanding the matter and an apology. The response was immediate. Problem solved. Appreciating that the phrase “may have” wasn’t inserted between “this” and “caused.”

“Every Wrong Word” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):