The Truth According To Matt Rennick

Living For The City Is Dead. {1}

In case it hadn’t become painfully obvious. Living For The City Is Dead.

It was a good run; a breathing archive for my life over the last 7 years. As my interests evolved, the subject matter did – I’d always kind of liked that I could look back at any given time and see what my friends and I were doing in that particular moment. I think that’s what I’ll miss the most.

As more and more people seem to be interested in what you’re doing or what you have to say, you start to gain an inflated sense of importance – as if what you’re thinking, feeling or doing actually matters… Truth is, it probably doesn’t.

I’ve become increasingly critical of the way people share their stories and the things they choose to expose about themselves to the world – as this happened, I’ve become increasingly anxious about the things I choose to share about myself. Glass houses and all, you know?

Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazier and Instagram is just way easier… Either way, it’s time to pull the plug. Maybe it’ll eventually become something else? Maybe it won’t.

Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’ve enjoyed this little blog and I most certainly appreciate all the support and feedback I’ve been given over the years.

The buds, forever.

Bright Lights, Big City {0}

Can’t stop the CanCon. Errrreybody knows it’s the TeeDot!

Scales Empire – Bright Lights Big City

Kardinal Offishall – Anywhere (Old Time Killing Part 2)

Kardinal Offishall – Old Time Killing / Maxine

Maestro Fresh Wes – Conductin’ Thangs

Choclair – Let’s Ride

Rheostatics – Record Body Count

Leslie Spit Treeo - Angel From Mongomery

Constantines – Working Fulltime

The West Is Dead {0}

Earlier this year, my much better half took a huge, and long overdue, step in her life by launching her own sales agency dealing in both apparel and high-end optical – Kilrush Sales & Service – named for the town in Ireland she was born in. One of the brands that she represents is called The West Is Dead out of Montana.

The West Is Dead

I was peripherally aware of them before she picked up the line, but since having the collection in her showroom and starting to familiarize myself with the brand, I’m really impressed; both in terms of the quality of materials and construction, but also in terms of how they present themselves and the issues they support.

You hear a lot about “corporate responsibility” and companies that are “giving back” but so much of it sounds like clever marketing to tug at the heart strings of their consumer-base. Ultimately, I don’t really mind because if good things happen for good people, I suppose I don’t really care how it happens… but it won’t stop me from thinking that it’s hokey when Dawn dishsoap launches some huge campaign about how they are cleaning up oil spills (Dawn Saves Wildlife) while possibly pumping that shit into rabbit’s eyes in labs to test irritation before it’s sold… You know what I mean? The jury is out on whether or not P&G still uses much animal testing but the point stands. It’s cheesy, it rings hollow… But the seabirds still get cleaned up so who cares? I digress…

Enter smaller companies like The West Is Dead where you really get the sense that they are formed on a broader foundation and truly care about the issues they champion – in this case, it’s the Intertribal Buffalo Council.

See, it’s one thing to have a cool heritage inspired logo with a buffalo on it, but it’s another to put your money where your mouth is and kick some bucks into the preservation of this once plentiful species.

Available at The Future Of Francis Watson in Toronto if you wanna check it out.

The Death Of Sammy Yatim {0}

On Friday night, an 18 year old named Sammy Yatim wielding a knife on an empty streetcar was gunned down by Toronto Police Const. James Forcillo. He was shot 9 times, 6 of which fired after he’d fallen to the ground which were followed by a jolt from a taser. If you live in the city you’ve no doubt seen the various camera phone & security camera videos like the one above that have been making their way around the interweebz.

As someone who has been tear-gassed, shot at with rubber bullets and charged at with Police horses for exercising my right to freedom of assembly – I can’t understand why any of the “non-lethal” control techniques the Police have at their disposal couldn’t have and wouldn’t have been used to subdue a 110 pound teenager with a knife. To take that point further, I can’t understand why they couldn’t close the streetcar doors and wait for a negotiator to arrive. These are the same questions everyone is asking and they are questions that need to be answered – I doubt they’ll be adiquately answered by an SIU investigation.

I have no doubt that the Police used the taser after they shot Sammy so that they could say, after the fact, that they tased him before shooting him but they forgot that people have cameras on their phones now and everything they do can and will be recorded. But I digress…

Somehow people are drawing parallels between this and the Trayvon Martin case which aside from the fact that a teenager was shot and the man who shot him will likely walk free, I don’t see the comparison. Trayvon was coming home from the store with some Skittles when Zimmerman approached him and begun a confrontation before shooting the teenager, all after being told not to engage Martin by the Police. The fact that Zimmerman walked exposes both inherent flaws and, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, institutionalized racism within US Society and the US Legal System… But that’s another story for another time.

I’m reminded much more of the 2000 beating death of Otto Vass at the hands of Toronto Police – not that the circumstances are similar, but here is where my parallel is drawn; Police officers have difficult jobs where snap judgements have to be made, I can appreciate that. They are often put in situations where emotional impulses would be difficult to control but that is also a part of the job, self-control.

If I chased someone for half an hour and caught them, I’d want to beat the shit out of them but that’s why I’m not a Police officer… Well, that combined with the fact that I’m probably too slow to catch them and would be too tired to beat them if I did. If you catch someone you’ve been chasing, your job as an enforcer of the law is to let the law deal with their alleged crime. Your job is to control your emotional impulses so in the case of Otto Vass, it was told (by the Police) that Otto had reached for the officer’s gun during the struggle so let’s assume for a moment that this is true – your job is to subdue the man, put him in cuffs and take him to jail. What happened instead was quite a bit different; two officers beat the shit out of him in the parking lot and when another car with two more officers showed up and proceeded to continue to beat Otto until he was dead – not one of the four officers who beat him to death was charged for their crime.

What happened next was a concerted effort on the part of the Police to discredit Vass and paint him in a bad light – stories of violence and insurance fraud made their way into every story about the beating. So, maybe Otto wasn’t a nice guy, I don’t know, I didn’t know him… But the punishment in our society for not being a nice guy isn’t death and Police officers do not have the right to execute citizens… and yet, they do.

There is no doubt that young Sammy was going through something that night (mental illness, drugs, alcohol, who knows?) and made some choices that ultimately cost him his life but I think the point that everyone is making is that the cost may well have been his freedom, but never should have been his life.


They Work! {1}

Zippo Factory & Museum, Bradford, PA

Years ago, I found myself in Bradford, PA by chance and paid a visit to the Zippo Factory / Museum. A short while later, I bought a ’78 Zippo in original packaging and had that for a few years before the top of the case broke so sadly, I retired it. It seems a little silly to get so attached to a little object of steel and gas, it is just a lighter, right? But somehow it’s more than that…

It’s a little company that began in 1932 and has been making things in the same place, in the same way ever since. Aside from, you know, the racism and the economic hardships and all the things that made the era terrible for people, there is a part of me that will always romanticize the way things were in those days, long before my time, and I think it’s cool to imagine these little things that were made and all the places they went with their owners…

Zippo Factory & Museum, Bradford, PA

One of the greatest things that Zippo does, is that they will fix any Zippo lighter for free and if they can’t, they’ll replace it.

“Welcome to the Zippo Repair Clinic. This is where Zippo USA not only repairs your Zippo lighter without charge, we consider it a privilege.”

So with that in mind, last week I packaged up that old broken ’78 and one of the K-Dogg‘s old lighters that didn’t work and shipped them off to Bradford.

Zippo Lighter Repair Clinic

Last night they came back in fighting form. The Repair Clinic replaced the hinge on the ’78 and supplied a whole new insert, on Sean’s old lighter they just supplied a new insert. When I say “new insert” I mean literally everything but the case so these are basically brand new lighters with all the nicks and scratches that you put on them yourself.

Zippo Lighter Repair Clinic

In a time of built-in-obsolescence where it’s so much easier and often cheaper to throw something out than to fix it (more on that later this week) it’s truly refreshing to see a company that stands by it’s products in this way. In this day and age, it would be hard to find a rival.

We’ll Get There Fast And Then We’ll Take It Slow {0}

Hey y’all. Not that anyone is all that likely to care but I haven’t been posting much because my work schedule has been mental and between working, hanging with my gal and my dog, and trying to get away on the weekends I just haven’t had all that much time for… well… literally anything else.

I’m going to try to make some time and get back into it, mostly because it’s kinda cool for me to go back through the last 7 years (!) of my life and be able to figure out what I was doing at any given point along that timeline. I’ve got a terrible memory, it’s nice to have a record.

In the meantime…

Buddy, You Couldn’t Wheel A Fuckin’ Tire Down A Hill {1}

Insurance Is The Numbers Racket Of Our Time {2}

2009 FXDB Street Bob

Motorcycle Insurance, like most types of insurance, is a total ball-ache. Last year when my bike got run over was the first time I’d had to really use it and, all things considered, I was treated pretty fairly… I felt like one of the lucky ones.


Smash, Smash, Suuuumash! {0}

As you may remember, last August my old Sportster was knocked over, run over and then left for dead by an impatient driver while parked in front of my old office.

Well, I ended up with another bike in the end (alls well that ends well – but not without huge headaches) but a while ago I got an email from the responding officer saying that the driver, who runs Quad Spinning (so don’t go there!), was fighting the charge. Part of me didn’t really care and had a bit of sympathy for her, the other part of me was curious to see what basis she’d be fighting the charge on.

When I got to the courthouse and saw the police with scanners and whatnot at the door, I remembered that I still had my trusty pocket knife in my back pocket. Running late and not being sure where I needed to go, I made the mistake of handing it over rather than going back outside and hiding it somewhere, never to be seen again. I’ve had that thing with me every day for the past 2 years and used it nearly every one of those so it’ll be sorely missed.

I found the room, checked in and sat down at the back of the room. As soon as she saw me she started whispering to her friend so I suspect she was trying to figure out a new story at this point knowing that someone was there to disprove whatever ridiculous work of fiction she’d concocted.

She was being charged with “failure to remain” which, if I’m not mistaken, carries with it 7 demerit points. By the time I’d gotten there she’d already agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge; improper lane change which carries with it 2 demerit points.

When the judge confirmed that she was pleading guilty to that charge she said she wanted to plead not guilty, then guilty, then launched into a rambling monologue about how she drives by there all the time and “the way” my bike was parked (you know… legally, in a legal spot) caused the accident… then how she didn’t know she’d hit anything at all which is why she hadn’t stopped… then how she’d stopped, gotten out to check it and didn’t think there was any damage… It was silly, I almost felt a little bad for her.

Ultimately the judge gave her a $60 fine and sent me on my way without giving testimony – I didn’t try because at that point it would have seemed petty and malicious. The satisfaction of having to watch her squirm and lie in open court was satisfaction enough, I suppose.

Moosonee Puppy Rescue – This Saturday {1}

I am a huge proponent of getting a rescue dog over going and paying huge amounts of money at a breeder while beautiful, loving, pups are spending their days in cages wondering if they’ll ever have another home. In general, I really think it’s great to pull a dog from the pound but a lot of people would prefer a puppy, and I get that, so here’s your chance!

The good people that come in from day to day and bring the #1 Good Boy out to Cherry Beach while we’re at work are Unleashed In The City and this Saturday they’re having an adoption day in conjuntion with the Moosonee Puppy Rescue and they’ll have 15 beautiful little pups up for adoption.

Despite being a ton of work; adopting Walter has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I’ve ever undertaken and I seriously recommend it for any one who has the type of lifestyle that would accomodate a little buddy and has some love to give – it’s really all they need.

Eyyyyyyyyy. {1}

Ch Ch Ch Changes {4}

I know that I don’t talk too, too much about what I do for a living on here but for the last 8 years I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working as a Designer and eventually Art Director with the fine folks at InViVo Communications, a health-care targeted communications studio.

I’ve had the opportunity to both watch and contribute as the company grew from 6 people when I started to more than 60 when I left. We’d moved through at least 3 offices and marveled as we became the biggest company of it’s kind in Canada and one of the best in the world in our given field. I know you can’t tell much from looking at the site because so much of what we did was private, but we did some seriously stellar work there. I’m proud of what the company was able to achieve and the contributions I was able to make but like all good things, my time there had to come to an end.

There are a great many people I will miss seeing on a daily bases dearly and I will always be deeply thankful for the opportunities Andrea, Yan & Reg have given me and the ways in which they’ve enriched my life and shown me possibilities for myself I’d never dreamed of. Thank you, always, InViVo.

All that said, a short while ago my old friend Lyndsey approached me about joining the team at SapientNitro where my main focus would be on… amongst other things, of course… Harley-Davidson Motorcycles!

After meeting Michael Shostak, a VP at SapientNitro, at the Town Moto opening party I knew that it was something I wanted to seriously pursue and the door opened for me to come in see if I’d be a good fit for the company. Elliott, Phil, Kim, Arjun and everyone I met through the interview process were all so awesome that I knew that I wanted to be here and at that point just hoped that they wanted me too! I guess they did.

I just went through my first week with the company as an Art Director and have been honored by the extremely warm welcome they’ve given me and humbled by the talent I’m surrounded by. I think I needed the change of scenery to re-ignite my passion for design and let’s face it, there is no better way to kick off the next stage of my career than working on Harley! I feel honored and priveledged to get to spend my days working on something that I relate to and love so dearly and am seriously so excited about the road that lays ahead.

Everything Old Is New {4}

Over the last many years we’ve seen a real trend towards locally produced (or at least nationally produced), hand-made goods over mass-produced items produced all-too-often in conditions that can most accurately be described as modern-day “slavery“. But that’s not what this is really about, so I digress…

Trend… What a nasty little word. We use this word most often to describe things that “everybody is doing to be cool” with the implication that whatever is “trending” has little or no value and will soon be deemed unpopular along with whatever made it trendy in the first place. In fact, the mere description of something being a part of a trend is usually enough to kill any forward momentum said trend has already gained – by the time something has reached mass appeal, it’s already basically OVER.

But that’s not what this is really about, so I digress…

Along with the revitalization of “heritage brands” and the romanticism of all things old-timey & hand-made, some of the skills that had seemingly long-since been lost are making a huge return and I, for one, am really glad to see it. In this case, the particular skill that I’m thinking/talking about is hand-lettering & sign painting.

Moving in the exact opposite direction that Draplin talks about in his America Is Fucked rant, a huge number of young businesses (in Toronto, anyway) have opted to have their signage hand-painted and in most of those cases, it has been produced by none other than Andrew Kidder (RCade)…

But, obviously, it’s not just Toronto. In Montreal my old friend Dave Arnold (Mr. Sign) is beautifying the city one bar, restaurant, storefront, or taco truck at a time…

In southwestern France we’ve got Steven Burke (Lucky Lefthand)…

And in East London there is Nicolai Sclater (Ornamental Conifer)…

In virtually every city I’d bet that there are a number of young men and women picking up on these old crafts and making something new and exciting out of them. Everything old is new.

Villa Vlas {0}

More here.

True Story. Let’s Go! {0}

Thirty Three {2}

Well, it’s that time of year again… Another year older, another year balder, another year fatter. I’m not going to do it because I don’t care that much, but I’d bet if I went back over the last 5 years of this blog I’d probably have something similar to say around this time, but every year I feel it and somehow it because more and more true as time passes; I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

As you get older and your priorities change, the things that matter become more and more apparent and fortunately for me, all the people that truly matter are still here for me; even when I don’t deserve it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good, but when you look around you and you’re surrounded by the best people in the whole wide fucking world? Sheeeeeeit. Amazing girlfriend/friends/family/co-workers/dog… Amazing life.

CrowsNest Barbershop

Parts & Labour

Parts & Labour

Thanks to everyone who was able to come our for dinner &/or drinks to celebrate with me. Thanks to the wonderful staff @ Parts & Labour who took care of us all night and did their best to accomodate my overwhelming popularity. See, I’m very popular. Huge (HUGE) thanks to Brian from P&L / Castor Design for sending me home with one of their amazing fire extinguisher lamps. I’ve been a big fan of Brian and his work with Castor for some time and I will hang it proudly in my home.

Next morning was pretty rough, needless to say, but it was made better by waking up next to my babe and my baby…

…and of course, the booty! I cannot tell a lie; I loooooooooove birthday booty.

Thanks, buds!