Double t, no e, double n.
Just your typical moron with an opinion, and occasionally some insights. Sometimes I build cool stuff, or talk at length about subjects I’m passionate about. Maybe you’ll take some value or learn something from the things I share; that’d be pretty rad. I post when I need an outlet or want to document something I found really engaging. If nothing else, this blog generally comes unfiltered and takes a no-BS approach to things as to the best of my ever-changing abilities.
I write about topics such as the news as I see it, my life experiences, and what many friends have come to coin as “Paul stories”. I apologize for nothing. You’re here under your own free will. It’s not like I’ve got you cornered at a house party you never wanted to come to in the first place, with your glass empty for the past 30 minutes, and I’m still talking nonsense into your ear. Plus, there’s far better places on the Internet anyways, or so I’m told. If you’re looking for my more technical posts on computers, security, networking, and other tech stuff – go check out Pasha Solutions; my modest consulting company.
I see myself as your typical left brain thinker. I compartmentalize almost everything in my head, I have an undying urge to make sense and logic out of everything I come in contact with, and I ask “why” a hell of a lot. For the most part it’s worked out pretty well for me in life, but I suppose your mileage may vary. These are more or less my stories.
Well, somewhere back in the early 80’s mom & dad decided they loved each other a lot, and one night they went to do their taxes. 9 months later the audit occurred and guess who slid into the world with a full head of hair (spoiler: My follicles peaked early in life).
I grew up in a predominantly white-washed working class suburb of Toronto, Canada where life was pretty grand. I took an early interest in anything that could get me into trouble and stories of me playing with electrical cords, trying to mercifully tape the house closed with masking tape when I was 3 years old, or climbing the TV tower (ya, google it) when I was still in diapers have been regaled to me many times. Apparently I also had a penchant for putting things in my mouth. In my early years it was my sock, but I seem to have evolved that into being my own foot.
I took an early interest in trying to build things. For my dad’s 40th birthday I tried to build one of those super cool model rockets using only paper, tape, markers and string. Nobody informed me that I’d need an actual engine to power this thing. Rats.
Future efforts also included trying to build a “cat house” for the family pet, made from a collection of mixed nails, screws, and wood that was once wall shelves meticulously (for a 10 year old) sawed & assembled into a makeshift box with a hole in it. I even nailed remnants of carpet into the inside. The cat never used it, despite stuffing her in there against her own wishes a few times. Cats are jerks, but in retrospect I was probably tormenting the poor animal as an overzealous child.
Learning to skate was more or less in my blood. When I finally got to play minor hockey at age 5 I insisted I get the number 99 on my jersey. Turns out they only print jerseys in 1 to 16, so I settled on number 9 – which has been my “number” ever since. I played baseball where I couldn’t hit worth a damn, but was one heck of a great pitcher and could steal a base on par with Ricky Henderson. I threw a hard 2 seam fastball, and a really nasty slider. Road hockey was a right of passage as a suburban Canadian kid, and we held the world series of baseball on my buddy’s drive way where one of the squares on his parents’ garage door was the strike zone. You can’t throw sliders with tennis balls as it turns out.
I guess that tax audit came back to bite mom & dad in the butt as they parted ways in my early teens. It was for the best, but it’s one of those things that’s a formative experience for a child. I struggled with identity like almost every other kid going through puberty, grasping onto anything that made me feel safe. That safety came in the form of music.
Just a few years prior I made a small fortune (for my age, that is) at $7 / hour doing score keeping for hockey games. But one day a guy came in and played music for house-league hockey between whistles – like the big leagues! I marveled at what he did, and it was in that moment I wanted to do it too.
I’d stay up late hiding under the covers listening to AM640 (the local pop radio station), which then turned to Energy108 and Hot103.5. I’d tape live-to-air club nights and what-have-you. I damn well loved this stuff. It led me to buy a ton of music on CD (remember those?!). DJing wasn’t even in my vocabulary, but it was in me. I started playing music at high school house parties and shortly there-after developed my black crack addiction, but we’ll come back to this later.
I had a short stint on Electric Circus as an EC dancer which was something that only perpetuated my love for dance music culture. That more or less propelled me into the rave scene of Toronto in the late 90’s and would shape my life in ways I never imagined through experiences, friends, and stories that will forever be told (most likely in this blog over the coming years).
Easter weekend when I was 17 marked a pivotal change in my life as tensions between my father and I got to a breaking point and I moved in with my mother instead. I’ll forego the reasons and history between my father and I, but I’ll say I truly and sincerely wish it was different. We simply saw the world differently and it wasn’t the most amicable of situations.
Drugs! Sex! Uninhibited All Night Dance Affairs! ….Well, not really.
Don’t get me wrong, drugs were certainly commonplace in the rave scene, but it was never my thing. People still seem baffled when they find out I’ve never done cocaine, or many of the other things floating around. I most certainly danced all night completely uninhibited for a while there, it being the primary draw for me. As for the sex, well – I never saw the allure of such things in dingy bathrooms, but I did meet my first true love at Union Station after a rave, decked out in oversized polar fleece pants and a white button up shirt at 7am after a party got shut down because someone was stabbed.
The public’s perception of raves was pretty dismal at this time, and this stabbing really went to tarnish it further. The thing was, the whole rave scene was still pretty pure (at least in Toronto). It was a counter-culture where people who felt like they never fit in anywhere in society felt at home, and I very much identified as one of those people. It was seen as these evil drug fueled orgies in dark warehouses. While there’s a only a shred of truth in that, my reality and experiences were far different.
I came to find out that my dad (who I’d been estranged from for quite a few years at this point) had found pictures of me online from various raves and was certain that I was “drugged up” in them. The hilarious part was that I wasn’t. I didn’t touch a single drop of alcohol, didn’t pop a pill, take a puff from a joint, or anything else. That is, unless you count swallowing a “wake-ups” tablet which was more or less pure caffeine and purchased at any local convince store. To be fully transparent, later down the line I did take ecstasy and without reservation can say that it was an amazing experience – and one I’m thankful I did responsibly. Granted I haven’t done it in probably 20 years now, and at this point I wouldn’t even know where to go for such things.
I’d always been into “rave” music from the moment I was first handed “the tape”. That’s how it was back in the day – a friend of a friend of a friend handed you some tape that’d been dubbed (copied) 50 times making the audio quality simply terrible. Mixes from these mythical DJs who’s names you’d never heard; Frisky, Virus, Satori, Dominik, or Madam Zu were the ones I grew up on. They’d either be a “studio mix” that person did, or even better, a recording of a live set which was always like reliving the party. Only more-times-than-not these recordings were done on a VHS tape on long play so they’d get like 6 hours on a single VHS. Bonkers when you think about it – and that sound quality was just trash.
I was 14 when this guy I knew gave me some headphones “yo, you gotta check this out! It’s this illegal rave music!”. Illegal music? BAD-ASS!! (Turns out, “illegal music” is actually just a dumb kid believing another dumb kid’s lie). It was DJ Dominik, an absolute Toronto legend. Insanity, I was hooked. Naturally, he gave me the copy, and I damn well made more copies. This was what you did.. when you got a tape, you made copies to give to others to spread the sounds. This was how it got around, and this is one of the biggest reasons why the rave scene was growing so rapidly through the mid to late 90’s. There was no Napster, no SoundCloud, and certainly no Spotify. People shared tapes.
As I went off in search of more of this stuff this newly immerging thing called “The Internet” really did lend a helping hand. I read everything I could find, and began to feel connected. But I was young – 14, and surely I’d never be allowed “downtown for an all night rave”. But.. I found a loophole.
While working at this small little sound & lighting place in Ajax I begged my way onto the crew for an upcoming show to help with the sound setup. “Dad, I need to work all weekend, over night, for this event”. Somehow I managed to pull it off. I started work at 10am loading the truck, setup, soundcheck, and then the party from 9pm – 7am. Then, breakdown, and load out. I made it home around 11am the next day. Mainly working, and a little running around going crazy partying.. on no sleep. At 16 years old.
This was unreal. I was now a raver. But, like many ravers you somewhat “graduate” into being a vendor, DJ/MC, producer, or promoter. I did them all (kind of).
Any DJ from Toronto in the 90’s knows the score. You’d march your way into the city to all the various record shops. Eastern Bloc on Adelaide, Play-De on Yonge, The Pit on Queen, Metropolis above the Queen & Spadina McDonalds, and others. While this fed my addiction to buying records, finding what I was really after (Happy Hardcore records) wasn’t exactly easy. I’d buy what at the time was called “UK Hard House” & some progressive trance.
I grew my collection and was playing small shows locally at a place called the “Chameleon Cafe”, which was more or less this beat to hell old auto repair shop turned band space. The owner “Pete” sold booze to whoever had money and was more than happy to skirt the laws to give kids a place to party. Looking back, I’m shocked we got away with it.
I made a “mix-tape” (at the time, an actually cassette tape) which was essentially how you got booked at the “real” parties. Mine was terrible, I just didn’t know it. I proudly handed it to the biggest promoter in the city one night yet thankfully he didn’t listen to it. His name? Chris Samojlenko, or better known as Anabolic Frolic, the biggest promoter of Happy Hardcore in North America through his parties called Hullabaloo!. Playing that event was my “big goal” when I started DJing. Only, I didn’t own any Happy Hardcore.
Shout out to MBNA bank for issuing this 18-year-old kid a credit card so I could buy all my records from England and ship them to Canada at exorbitant prices. My hardcore collection was growing quickly and I’d really began to hone my craft. I recorded another mixtape, only this time I was putting them on burned CDs with stickers on them. And another. And another. I handed them out at raves to people on the dancefloor who looked like they were having a good time and dancing hard. I’d introduce myself, give them a CD, ask them to listen to it, e-mail me with what they thought, and so forth. On the first CD I did, I ran into this track I just couldn’t manage to mix out of and hadn’t a clue what to do. So, part way through the mix, I just inserted this stupid sound bite from the Simpsons, and then started my next track. It was just some gimmick to cover up my lack of skill to mix out of a difficult tune, but I got known as “the guy who puts Simpsons quotes on mixes”. I didn’t intend it to be a catchy thing, but it worked and people would remember me for me.
And, that’s when a funny thing happened. Anabolic Frolic sent me a message on ICQ (remember that?!) telling me he’d like to book me for his next event. I nearly shit my pants. It was my second “real” gig in Toronto, the first being a small event of 150-200 kids. Hullabaloo wasn’t for “new” DJs, this was the major leagues of happy hardcore, and here I am on my second event cracking the roster. Chris Frolic and I became friends over the years following and I let this slip one night. He laughed and said “if I’d ever known that was your second gig, I would have never booked you, but you presented like you were this hot ticket DJ with a big following”. The truth was, I did have a following – on his message boards. I created a hype around myself.
Hullabaloo came and went, and the rave scene was starting it’s sharp decline in Toronto. Just as that was happening, things were picking up in NYC and some other US cities. I started touring with a friend who acted as my Emcee. His name is Mike, and over the years, that musical partnerships has grown into a great friendship I hold dear to this day. We had residencies in NYC, Boston, and Detroit in our hayday – but things started to slow down around 2015 and we just simply stopped going down there so often. This nicely coincided with that nation somehow thinking Donald Trump being president was a good idea.
Well, in a more realistic sense, this was when it started. Previously Mike & I, along with a mutual friend Jeff threw some events under the “Future Perfect Synergy” brand. It wasn’t anything crazy, but the few we did throw were a ton of fun. What Mike & I started in January 2014 was entirely different; a monthly event at Bassline Music Bar called “TDotLove” with a simple format. Give the opening slot to someone who deserved a shot, one of us would usually hold down 10:30-Midnight, give an extended 1.5 hour set to a stalwart of the scene to dig deep in their crates, then finish it up with a DJ who’d take you into the night. They’d keep playing until there was nobody left dancing – sometimes until 4 or 5am. That was an interesting slot to play, and I’m sure I’ll write it about it one day soon.
At the time when TDotLove started, I was still playing Hardcore as a mainstay, but was starting to transition my sets to Drum n’ Bass/Jungle. For any of the old ravers, they’d remember multi-room events where happy hardcore DJs would be interwoven with Jungle DJs. I’d always get annoyed at this “jungle stuff” and venture off when these “junglists” would take over the room. I guess it’s kind of ironic that 20 years later, I’m sitting here telling you that those same tunes I couldn’t stand are some of my favorites today, and those junglists I didn’t understand are now some of my friends.
It’s not totally unexpected that I’d switch genres. By the end of the first year of TDotLove I was a full on Drum & Bass DJ, but it was like learning to DJ all over again. I went from being a somebody, to being a nobody. I was still finding my place in it all, it taking another year or two before that truly developed and I settled into playing Jungle. I won’t bother explaining the nuances to those who don’t know as that information is shared by people far more knowledgeable than I am on the topic.
Truthfully, I already was. I moved from Ajax to an area in Toronto called “Leaside” when I was in my mid 20’s. I’d taken a job out at the far west end of the city after the company I was with previously basically was on the brink of bankruptcy. I’d been making this soul crushing commute that was 2.5 hours each way from the suburbs – but I damn well did it. My (still relatively new) relationship hardly got much attention, I had little to no social life, and life was a grind. Moving to the city gave me a bit of my life back.
I went through a string of roommates in the 7 years I lived in that apartment. Some good, some bad, some absolutely crazy, and one that made me banana bread. As I entered my 30’s I moved to the downtown core. That change somewhat came with another major change, both of which were some of the best of my life thus far.
That little 428sq foot shoebox of a condo at Simcoe & Adelaide did me well, and I progressed into the place I live today, just a few blocks away, and somewhere I still love to call home.
Back in my teens I ate McDonalds 5 times a week. I drove a 1993 deep red 2 door Chevy Cavalier. The passenger side was knee deep in bags, cups, and sandwich boxes at any given time. I could tell you what the “McSpecial” $4.99 meal deal was each day of the week. You’d think that’d do it, right? Nope. I was a lean 140 and didn’t exercise. It was when I got to the city and hit my mid 20’s that things started to go downhill. I hadn’t a clue how big I’d gotten until I stepped on the scale at the chiropractor’s office one day and it read 199lbs. I went home that night, looked at myself in the mirror and felt utter disgust with myself – not just for letting myself go, but for the person I’d let myself become. I was angry, I had a bone to pick with the world, and I was miserable. I decided if I wasn’t going to make a change in life, what was the point in going on?
The next day, I signed up for the gym. I went 3-4 times a week, and change came quickly. My face looked less like a water balloon and that jaw line I used to have began to re-appear. I kept at it dropping 35lbs – but with that loss I also let go of a lot of the anger I had with the world. My self-image issues were melting away, my stamina was up, and I was feeling a level of confidence I hadn’t felt in… well, decades.
For people who don’t understand it, I couldn’t begin to describe how it feels. I can’t pin-point where it started, but I recall some thoughts as a child. My parents divorce left me confused – and while I never felt it was my fault – it was just another pressure I didn’t deal with well. As a teen I was nothing short of deeply confused, felt completely out of place, and didn’t know how to handle these overwhelming feelings. I didn’t understand what I was going through wasn’t just the rough puberty years, but I was suffering from depression.
I continued to battle this “sad” feeling looming over my head at all times. Between the years of 14 and 21 I can vividly recall 3 instances where my depression began to cross the line towards self harm, although thankfully none of these progressed in any real manner. That is, until my 25th birthday.
I woke up incredibly depressed, it being my birthday didn’t help much. I solemnly made my way to work via the bus, to the subway. As I stood on the southbound platform at St. Clair station, right at the entrance to the station, I realized I wanted to die. I was silent, but tears fell down my cheeks. with an overwhelming sense of shame. For some reason I asked the man standing beside me to simply talk to me. He asked if I was OK, and I told him I wasn’t. I don’t remember anything between that moment and then I somewhat “came to” when I stepped onto the train.
I told that story anonymously online in far more detail many years ago. A year or two after it was written, I was contacted by a reporter at the Globe and Mail who was doing a piece about suicides on the TTC (subway) and GO (commuter train system). Apparently someone who “didn’t go through with it” wasn’t an easy person to find. I gave an anonymous interview about my experience. Years later, I ended up being contacted by the CBC National, and did an identifying interview about what happened. I felt it was the right time to speak out and try and break some of the stigmas around mental health. All the shame I felt, feeling weak, less of a man, all those negative things – All I wanted was someone to see or read what people wrote about my story and feel like they weren’t alone, and things can be better.
After working my ass off in a company called Accelerated Connections Inc, I managed to climb the ladder to be a Sales Engineer. Sadly, the company got purchased by GTT in April 2018 and things went downhill fast. I’ll put on record that the gang I worked with at ACI were some of the best people in the world, and I don’t think there will ever be a privately held ISP with the culture that we had there ever again. Yea, this video is totally true. It was no joke. Michael Garbe, you did something magical.
But, the good times came to an end and the big guns at GTT stepped in. I knew we were doomed the moment the new CEO walked in with a poorly cut suit and handed out fridge magnets with the company mission statement on them. Needless to say, GTT is now basically bankrupt with clients leaving in droves.
I had excellent skills, but GTT was not the place for me. I soon found myself with a bright new role in a small organization that felt so much similar to that of the early ACI days. I was integral in growing the business and things were chugging along quite well. Then the pandemic hit. We took on a ton of business mighty quickly to the point we were handling a considerable portion of the nation’s communications in crisis response. By proxy, I was leveraging my specialized skills in telecom to make a difference in the mental health community, and that’s a feeling that I’m really proud of.
Around the time I began going to the gym, I began caring about making my own food. Prior, I was eating a ton of freezer food, whipping together sandos, and occasionally putting together something resembling an actual home cooked meal. But, as my exercise routine began to change, so did my desire to fuel my body with something healthier. From the onset, it’s a daunting task – trying to cook a great meal when I barely know how to use a knife. The Internet is a pretty wonderful place, and lemme tell you, YouTube and various recipe sites go a LONG way.
My next step in my food life happened around 2016 when I was introduced to a local farmer’s market, and little did I know how it’d change my perspective on life. I joined a “farm share”, which is basically a CSA, or community supported agriculture. You pay upfront at the start of the season for months of fresh, local, properly grown veggies. One bite of a tomato, and I immediately wondered what the heck I’ve been eating previously. I’ve been a part of this CSA with Twin Creeks Farm ever since, expanding my purchases to include their grass fed & pasture raised, beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. You can’t find this at your usual grocery store. I began buying full or halves of animals from local farmers and it’s changed my entire perspective on the food industry. Not only is it potentially cheaper, but far tastier and unparalleled quality. At very least, this should be motivation to switch, but when you factor in the environmental impact of no plastic or foam packaging, no long haul trucks, and the food conglomerates not taking a massive cut of whatever things cost, it’s a no brainer.
One of my biggest regrets through my 20’s was not travelling Internationally when I had the chance, always with excuses of money, or time, or whatever. I’d travelled across most of the USA and parts of Canada, but never abroad. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of desire. In August 2018 I finally broke my curse and overnight booked myself tickets to Berlin, Germany. Why Berlin, I didn’t know, but later it dawned on me that I’ve been drawn to that city without being aware of it for the past 20 years.
I’m endlessly fascinated by the war, and Berlin is quite literally the epicenter of everything WWII. I’ll write about that trip one day but I distinctly remember coming home with a sense of bliss and that I’d done good. I’m currently writing this sitting on a terrace in Madeira – a remote island of Portugal off the coast of Morocco in August 2021 – still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adopting an attitude of “if I don’t say yes right now, when will I?” has found me a far happier (and well travelled) person.
Of course, I’m far from perfect and I’ve made many mistakes in life, but at this point I’m far more interested in trying to correct them going forward than dwell on the past. It took me a long time, but I made peace with many of the things I did wrong along the way.
I’ve got a lot of dreams and aspirations floating around in my head. I’m quickly closing in on 40 and that’s a sobering feeling. I go back to the memory of my Dad’s 40th birthday when I would have been 7 years old.. you know, the one I wrote about above. My life has taken a considerably different path than that of my parents, and I’m OK with that. I feel I’ve lived many experiences they never got to, yet at the same time they’ve had ones I’ve yet to (or may never) experience myself. It all comes down to choices.
We take paths in our lives, sometimes by choice, other times we’re effectively forced into them. But in the end it’s something we need to accept that has happened – good or bad. How we decide to move forward is the choice we have. And, I guess this whole blog is more or less a collection of my stories.
Hopefully you find reading them just as interesting, fun, educational, or just plain crazy as it was for me living them.