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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Taking the PHYTE on the Road!



My wife Angel and I will be joining our friends Kevin and Tammie will be heading up to Edgefest this coming weekend.

We're doing this in part because Angel is the music editor for PHYTE Magazine and she will be interviewing music acts 30 Seconds to Mars, Hedley and Matchbook Romance. Likewise, PHYTE Magazine will also be reviewing the overall Edgefest Experience and I'm sure we can count on Tammie, AKA the ANTE-Rockstar for some colour commentary. We're all going to Edgefest and we're all going to have something to say about it for PHYTE.

PHYTE Magazine, you'll recall, is the online home of my novel, Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.

In other PHYTE-related news, I'll be interviewing author Steven Oliverez about the success of his novel, The Elder Staves. Steven, like me, is an independant author who used the New Media, viral campaigning as well as traditional grassroots campaigning to promote his book; he's listed as one of Amazon.com's top 100.

As for my other project, The Unearthing, well I'm still waiting to hear from Publish America, but the last news I had was the book was indeed in pre-production and the galley copy could show up in my inbox at any time.

You'll notice that the Donate To Kspace button has made a return. This is because I'm leaving no avenue unexplored in my attempt to fund the promotion of my novel. So while you're reading this, why not make a donation? The universe you save might be your own.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Imagine for one moment...

Let's imagine you, for a moment.
You live in a relatively secular, cosmopolitain city, raised in a culture that you have always known.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this culture is one that you know is far from perfect, but one you understood: It's authoritarian, and therefore, to you, Mr Average Citizen, it is one you have always been familiar with: From your strict parents, to your teachers, to your friends' families, there has always been authoritarianism in your life.

You are aware of the benefits of this life; you are also aware of the risks. Despite this authoritarianism, each citizen is left free to decide whether to conform to society's mandate or rebel. You are aware of the benefits offered to conformity, you are aware of the risks of non-conformity.
Now, imagine a hostile foreign country, a foreign country that your own country has gone to war with coutless times in the past, attacks and invades your country and destroys the life you have always known.
Everything is changed--dramatically. There's no more television, no more telephone. No electricity, heat, running water or shelter. No job to go to--because your city's downtown core has been reduced to smouldering piles of rubble. You've lost friends. You've lost family. You've lost everything you've ever taken for granted, everything you've ever known, everything you have ever understood.
After this shock-and-awe bombing attack, your government is overthrown, and people who have been disloyal to that government--a government you have never liked, but always accepted--are applauding the first divisions of enemy soldiers marching through the streets.
Imagine promises made by these troops--promises of a swift end to the outages, of rebuilding your country, of ushering in a new way of life--promises made by their leaders, are broadcast everywhere for you to hear.
Imagine that instead, the foreign government's corporate sponsors come in, and institute the kind of horrible, criminal corruption that you'd only heard of, in reference to the countries of the Former Soviet Union.
Imagine finally being fed up of the cahos and deciding that it was better to do something, to fight back against this invading force than to just accept that your entire life was a cahotic ruin.
Now imagine that isntead of being an American, or a Canadian or a European that you are an Iraqi.
Just imagine.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A letter from Michael, and my reply.

Dear Mr. Karmazenuk:

Many thanks for your e-mail. What you are going through is no doubt very hard. But the decisions that we have to make to transform our business in this increasingly competitive environment are also not easy and they are not made lightly. Particularly given the impact that they have on our people.

We must, however, rethink and change the way we operate so that we can assure Bell’s success for another 125 years. Planning for the future of the whole company is a significant challenge and big part of my role as CEO.

Like virtually everyone in the company, I am paid a base salary plus incentives that are tied directly to the operating performance of the business and an assessment of my personal performance by the people I report to – the Board of Directors.

I also believe that incentive payments should be carefully controlled and made only when justified. So at least twice I have not accepted the incentives offered to me. In one case, it was a bonus associated with the reduction of capital expenditures. I turned that down because I thought doing that work was simply part of my job. Then, last year, I again refused my bonus in the wake of the billing issues in wireless because, at the end of the day, as CEO I was ultimately accountable.

When I have accepted an incentive compensation, I have made it a point to invest every nickel of bonus in our company because I believe deeply in the importance of what we do and where we are going. And because I have confidence that we will get there.

Best regards,

Michael Sabia
***
Dear Michael,

First, let me say that I am impressed that you deigned to reply to me at all, even though you only managed to do so one full month after I sent my email.

You’ll be happy to know I’ve decided to forego visiting you at the shareholders’ convention today, in favour of staying home and getting a head start on the domestic upkeep I’d scheduled for the weekend. Some other time, perhaps; I know a place that makes a great CafĂ© Americano.

As you have taken the time to reply to me, I think it only polite to likewise take the time to reply to you. Given that I have not yet been able to find employment elsewhere (Apparently prospective employers don’t put as much stock on someone having five or more years with Bell Canada on their resume as they used to), I have the time to do so more promptly than you.

I would like to first of all address the completely impersonal nature of your letter to me. It smacks almost of being form-fed, given the parroting of Bell Canada’s usual line about rethinking operations, remaining competitive and how hard it is to decide to lay people off. I won’t be cowed by such mindless platitudes. Frankly, I’m surprised it took you a month to have one of your underlings send out such a rubber-stamp response.

The fact of the matter is that despite increased competition, Bell Canada still maintains a stranglehold on telecommunications in this country. As unfortunate as that is, it is nonetheless fallacious to suggest the mass layoffs you’ve overseen as CEO are necessary for the company to remain competitive.

Bell posts and continues to post record profits and none of its divisions are losing money. This, despite a continually degrading level of customer service and across-the-board problems with the products and services offered. I think it is therefore safe to say that Bell Canada does not have to worry about remaining competitive.

So why not be honest, Michael? Why not admit that the people you work for, the board of directors and the majority shareholders of Bell Canada Enterprises are demanding more golden eggs from the arse of Bell Canada’s goose? The truth shall set you free, as they say.

I also find it particularly offensive that you so unapologetically defend your “decision” to accept the five-fold salary increase that has fattened your own coffers. That you have decided to re-invest your rather inflated pay rise back into the company suggests not any nobility or spirit of fidelity on your part, but instead simple insider knowledge that the company is going to continue to be engorged with profits, that will be reflected in stock dividends.

Your salary went from one point twenty-one million to six point seventy-two million per anum. That much of this is divested into stock options and various “incentive payouts” is irrelevant; you are getting roughly five and a half million dollars more per year than before. That works out to a tithe of about one thousand, three hundred and seventy-five dollars per employee sacked in the last few months, by the way; a little less than what I would gross each pay period.

On average, the employees you care so much about only get a one or two per cent annual increase in their rate of pay; it’s not even indexed with the cost of living. Yet you feel that you are somehow justified in taking such an obscene pay rise? I’d ask how you sleep at night, but the most obvious answer is, on the most comfortable bed that money can buy.

That you turned down previous pay packet increases only demonstrates that you were slightly less cynical in your approach to your job than you are now. That you honestly think I would believe it was an attack of conscience on your part that made you decide to refuse those previous raises tells me you underestimate the intelligence of your employees, both current and former.

I wonder Michael, eleven years after your mother’s death, how does it feel to have undermined so much of what she fought for as one of Canada’s leading feminist icons? Bell Canada’s employees are, after all, majoritarily women. Interesting, is it not, that Bell Canada’s upper management is generally masculine? Pay equity, outsourcing, closing and consolidating call centers and business offices…you’ve put quite a few women out of a job. Mom would be so proud.

I won’t bother to appeal to your sense of morality or principles; as Bell Canada Enterprises’ Corporate Executive Officer I doubt you have much of either to spare. You’ve successfully outwitted, outplayed and outlasted all of the competition both within and outside of the company. I can only hope for your sake that selling your soul for seven figures is worth it to you in the end; power and privilege are very cold bedmates in one’s twilight years.

One thing we can both agree on, however, is that Bell Canada Enterprises will, for better or worse, continue to exist long after we are gone. But be very careful what direction you steer the ship, Michael. Morally questionable practices like disregarding the letter and spirit of Collective Agreements, outsourcing in favour of Third-World slave labour and cutting jobs and disrupting lives and families lead to very murky waters.

My sincerest regards,

S.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Official Launch...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PHYTE Magazine has officially launched Steve Karmazenuk's new novel, Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind.

The novel is one of a series of innovative, new online-format features available exclusively from PHYTE Magazine, as it continues to create the New Mainstream.

Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind is the story of six friends from different backgrounds studying at—or coasting through—John Abbott College at the height of the Grunge Era in Montreal, from the years 1991 to 1994. What brings them together is their love of cigarettes, music, coffee, dope, sex and hanging out. The story revolves around events in each of the character’s lives as narrated from their individual points of view.

SOPHIE ROSAIRE is a raven-haired, voluptuous twenty-year-old with a severe allergy to committed relationships and a powerful thirst for adventurous sex. She loves her friends and will do anything for them - or with them, depending on her urges.

WILL BAKER is the nineteen year old lead singer/songwriter for the Psychic Circus, a college-bar band based out of Sainte Anne’s, John Abbott College’s home town. A heartbreaking betrayal briefly drives Will into Sophie’s arms - and bed - and this decision will change Will’s life forever.

PASCAL LEBRUN is twenty, the guitarist for Psychic Circus and Sophie’s oldest friend. He has been secretly in love with her for years, though he wouldn’t dare tell her. He suffers in silence through Sophie’s sexual escapades and likewise through his own painful, unsatisfying relationships with his family and his unfaithful and deceptively cruel girlfriend. Music is perhaps the only thing Pascal loves as much as he does Sophie, and he forms the Lennon half of a Lennon/McCartneyesque songwriting partnership with Will Baker.

JULIE KENNEDY is a seventeen year old suburban punk and drug addict, battling her habits and her boyfriend to regain her sobriety. The onetime drummer for the Psychic Circus, Julie is also so severely depressed that she embarks on a quest for new meaning in her life, a new thrill and a way to erase the dark times that still overshadow her.

BRIAN KLEIN is a preppy nineteen year old West Island boy, basing his image almost entirely on Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210, from his bleach-blonde pompadour to his extra-long sideburns. Brian is struggling with his burgeoning bisexuality and conflicting attractions for Alec Sorvino and Tanya Heihachi, two very opposite people, both in gender and attitudes.

JEFF MCBRIDE is Julie’s ex-boyfriend-to-be and the bassist and for Psychic Circus. Jeff is an opportunistic, amoral self-centered schemer who thinks nothing of using his friends and family, manipulating his girlfriend, or neglecting the band that he formed and helped lead to near-success if it means he can get high. His love of heroin and his penchant for petty crime will shape his destiny and the destiny of his friends in ways no one can hope to understand.

Together these six friends weave their way through interconnected adventures at times comic, tragic, erotic, deranged and incredible. Even as their lives diverge along different paths their love for one another keeps them in convergence through a period of time that culminates in Kurt Cobain’s suicide and with it the end of the Grunge Era in April of 1994.

The novel will be released at a rate of six chapters per month, available exclusively from PHYTE Magazine, at http://www.phyte.ca/nevermind/nevermind.html. Future plans include a trade paperback-format release of the complete novel.

Steve Karmazenuk lives in Montreal and works in telecommunications. He has written and published several articles and op-ed pieces. His first novel, The Unearthing is slated to be released later in 2006 by Publish America. Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind is available exclusively through PHYTE Magazine. He is married and lives with his wife and their seven cats, two birds and several fish.

For more information about PHYTE Magazine or Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind, contact PHYTE Magazine's Media Director, Kevin LeClair, at eon_5@msn.com

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Permanent Addiction...



I have long wanted to get a tattoo, and today, to celebrate the upcoming publication of my book, I decided to have my skin marked permanently with the K-Rune logo that I designed. The rune itself figures largely in the plot of The Unearthing, as well as forthcoming volumes of the story. It is the meaning of the rune that is important. But, I won't spoil it for you, any further. Instead, here is picture of my tat, which is on the inside of my left wrist:


It didn't hurt all that much, and it was a rewarding experience. I've made the decision that for every original novel (or first novel of a series) that I write and have published, I will get a new tattoo.

Just thought I'd share.