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July 23, 2011

A Tribute To Amy Winehouse

After hearing the sad news of Amy Winehouse's passing today, I spent some time listening to her songs and playing through some of my favorites. I was deeply saddened to hear the news. I was a huge fan and I always considered her to be a staggering talent. Really, that statement doesn't really sum it up. There was something special within her, beyond her incredible voice. Whatever it was, it made her the kind of singer that MADE you stop and listen when she sang. I think it was because when she sang something, you knew it was real, that she meant it, that she had lived it at one point. At least that's what I feel when I hear her sing. I don't know...I could probably go on all day about it. All I really wanted to say is that I, for one, will miss her. I had always been hoping she would make her way through these dark days and that at least one mind-blowing, gut-wrenching album would be the offspring of that time. Mostly, I'm just sad that she is gone. And that right now, so many people are spewing thoughtless, heartless comments around. They have no place. But I digress.

Here, I just want to celebrate what she left with us. For those of you that were fans, I hope this brings you some kind of joy or a memory, and I hope I've done this song some justice.

- kevin h.
running red lights

June 14, 2011


Since the launch of the RRL blog almost 2 years it's purpose has served primarily to navigate fans around the RRL landscape and to act as a mouth piece for my opinions, contemplations, creations and expressions. However, after 2 years of personal commentary I have decided to give away the floor. I will introduce her simply as Iaso, named after the Goddess of Healing. The world has been graced in every way with her light of positivity, imagination and strength. She has overcome tremendous grievances to be a rising star in the field of social work, social justice, interested specifically in counseling and facilitating rehabilitation for the mentally afflicted. She is currently finishing her studies in Human Sexuality at Ryerson University and was given the assignment of writing a reflection journal. She was kind enough to allow me to read the paper (which she ultimately received a grade of PERFECT) and I felt it was a piece that should be shared, primarily because I knew it might connect with those who have had similar experiences. Please keep in mind the paper is influenced by the subject of sex and sexuality and therefore may breach some levels of comfort. However, I hope that most people are open minded and liberal hearted enough to understand the intent and connect with Iaso's experiences. Her strength is an inspiration to me and I hope she can be an inspiration to you as well.

Reflection Paper on Select Dynamics of Freud’s Female Oedipus Complex
Written by Iaso for Ryerson University

By sharing aspects of my personal trials, it is my intention to illustrate select dynamics of Freud’s female Oedipus complex. I’ll start out by introducing myself and giving you a little background information on how I got entangled with a pair of self-destructive twins I’ll call Adam and Eve. I completed my HBSc at the University of Western Ontario in Biology and Environmental Science while playing the role as pacifier to my first suicidal boyfriend. After finally admitting defeat from this melancholic and sexless relationship, I advanced to an even more emotionally disturbed and complex character. I can clearly define this person as having Borderline Personality Disorder amongst other mental illnesses. He was abandoned by his alcoholic parents and put in training schools from the age of 10 where he was physically and sexually abused, as well as subjected to “experimental” Gestalt therapy and severe emotional and mental abuse. This man was 19 years older than me and as a young, naive woman fresh out of the gates I was compelled to “help”.
Now would be the perfect opportunity for me to touch upon my principal topic of discussion that I will visit again later, Freud’s female Oedipus complex. This older man, according to Freud, could represent my partially absentee father who separated from my mother when I was 8 years old. Studies suggest that at this early-latency stage, children experiencing parental divorce are more likely to develop psychological and social difficulties in early adulthood. This could explain my confusion and difficulties in choosing a mate. Possibly the struggles between my parents prior to their separation, during the phallic stage (age 3-6) of my development, caused a disruption in the completion of the female Oedipus complex. To complete the complex the girl must adjust her desires from her father to identify with her mother. Perhaps somewhere along the way I got stuck causing me to choose men who more closely resembled my mother.
For as long as I can remember my mother has battled depression and more recently was diagnosed with Bipolar II. At the time of my parents’ separation I clearly remember my mom’s threats of suicide. However in the face of her ongoing struggles, her brilliance and compassion enabled her to raise three girls on her own while completing both a HBSW and Registered Nurse Diploma. Maybe my yearning to “help” was my need for parental stability and quest to heal abandoned wounds. Still today, I champion my mother and grow closer to her with every insight into my own mental illness.
With great fear and apprehension I escaped the clutches of my mentally ill mate and his shattered soul. I gave back the many abuses and mental incursions. I failed alongside the judicial system to provide justice in his lawsuit against his training schools, abusers and her majesty the Queen. I felt great failure in my empty promises of unconditional love and an impending loneliness that promised no one will ever again know me like he knows me.
I was at my most vulnerable when Adam and Eve sunk in their teeth and for the next 2 years drained me until bankrupt, literally. I had known Eve since high school and had grown quite fond of her; however, I was wary of her self-destructive nature which had only just begun at this point. She had been around for my other relationships without judgment but my union with her brother was something different. She hated every girlfriend he had ever had and with delusion felt they were all taking advantage of his kind nature. It was true Adam was soft-spoken and friendly but his lack of loyalty, sculpted skills of manipulation, and willingness to corrupt had a track record.
Adam and Eve were junkies. For Adam, anything he could boil down was good enough to go in his veins. He had a history of convincing his girlfriends of the wonderful world of narcotics and this included me. Eve’s sociopathic traits were more exposed than Adam’s in that she could be anything you wanted her to be as long as it benefited her in the long run. Eve’s loyalty was always to her brother and vice versa. The relationship between the two was so bizarre that I still don’t know what they were really about so I can only speculate.
First of all there was a large boundary issue with them. Adam had his own condo and whenever Eve fell short in her scams she ended up there. I was spending most of my time with Adam and it became a frequent occurrence that Eve would bust in while we were having sex, sit down and start talking to Adam. Her sense of entitlement and lack of respect for me at this point put a damper on our friendship to say the least. Adam however was an enabler allowing this behavior to continue perhaps due to his own skewed boundaries. Adam would frequently and proudly tell me stories about his trips to the Caribbean alone with Eve and how strangers would comment on them as being “the best looking couple on the beach”. Weird! Finally, after always feeling like the third wheel in this relationship, Adam and I decided to go away to a cottage for a few days. On the drive there, just minutes after we left, Eve called crying and announcing that she had separation anxiety and wanted him to come back. These few examples of many have made me wonder whether I was witnessing a truly incestuous relationship that involved sexual relations or solely emotional incest. Since I have no evidence of the former I will focus on the latter using the female Oedipus complex.
In addition to never having a relationship that was more than a fling, having numerous abortions and miscarriages, and never experiencing love outside her brother; Eve was never able to have a vaginal orgasm. According to Freud, only after moving past the Oedipal stage is a female able to have a mature vaginal orgasm. However, evidence today disputes his theory. Eve would then illustrate that there was a dysfunction in the Oedipus complex and phallic stage of development. A more obvious dysfunction involved Eve’s penis envy. Eve was conscious of this penis envy in early adulthood and confessed to me that she longed for the power a penis would provide her. Eve’s father was not present throughout her childhood, leaving her brother to be the only male influence. Naturally, Eve developed penis envy and desire for her brother instead of her father. At this point to complete the Oedipus complex, Eve must turn her attention to her mother and her erogenous zone from her clitoris to her vagina in hopes of conceiving a son as the substitute for a penis. However, Eve’s mother was also often absent at this fundamental stage thus Eve became trapped in penis envy leaving her to continue desiring her brother. Usually the Westermarck’s effect would disable their mutual attraction but this emotional bond was strong from reinforcement as mutual protectors in an unstable home. And together they learned to cope by self-medicating and locking their fears and emotions behind their warped rationalizations.
The couple of years I spent using, scamming, lying and isolating, I grew hungry for a life of legitimacy where I was respected, heard, and supported. I wanted out as soon as I was in and as time went by I built the strength to leave. I up and left my hometown with no drugs to keep the withdrawal at bay, only pure will to escape the damaged people, the exploitation, and the dishonest person I had become. I don’t blame anyone for the abuse and dishonor that was inflicted upon me, for they suffer with the disease of addiction and a melange of mental disorders. Just like my mother, they are all trying to cope with life the only way they know how. As an addict, the ability to manipulate those around you for survival or to avoid withdrawal symptoms becomes the greatest, highly-developed of skills. Adam and Eve preyed upon me to get what they felt they needed to survive and so I did to others. My resentment has never exceeded my capacity for empathy and compassion. I say this with strong conviction and knowledge that I have always felt this way, except now perhaps with less naivety. This is a great strength that empowers my work and studies in the field of mental health and addictions today.
I’ve kept some contact with Eve since I left home. Adam and Eve were living in a crack house, from which I thankfully escaped, whose primary inhabitants were prostitutes, not excluding Eve herself. Eve was seeing a man who was 26 years her senior who ended up getting her pregnant. At 8 months pregnant and drug free for 4 months, their place was raided and the two of them were thrown in jail. She was let out to give birth and her son was taken by the authorities. This was devastating for her and she remained clean to try to win back her son. Sometime later her partner was released from jail and they were awarded custody. They now live together as a family. Sounds like a happy ending but I have my suspicions about the quality of their relationships. Nevertheless, finding a substitute for her brother in an older man may indicate that Eve is working through her Oedipus complex as she has shifted her desires for her brother to a man like her father. Having a son has allowed her to transfer her penis envy in addition to bringing her closer to her mother and the hope for developing a healthy attachment. Adam however still remains a black sheep and continues to use drugs to mask his demons.
When I left home I came to my Emerald City and started going to NA meetings, got a job and went into a rehab program at CAMH. A couple of days before the start of the inpatient portion of the program I had my first manic episode. After 3 weeks in CAMH ACU/GPU (where I was considered the happiest manic the staff had ever seen) I snapped back into reality. I was transferred to the AIM program on White Squirrel Way for a month where some of us were proud to be squirrely. Soon after returning home, I stopped taking the prescribed Lithium and Seroquel under the belief that I was misdiagnosed and my episode was a result of a rebound effect of hyper excitability of my nervous system from quitting the opiates cold turkey. No psychiatrist would listen to my concerns or offer alternative coping opportunities in living without medication. I found a job at a private club, a good mate, continued to be drug free and arranged to start back to school to study mental health and addiction. I was working 30 hours a week and going to school full time. This lasted a week and I was back in the hospital. My brain couldn’t handle the lack of sleep and motor-mind. My rapid incline to mania started at work and after maltreatment I was sent home alone, sick, and in a highly-vulnerable state to continue my delusional climb to Mount Olympus again as the happiest manic.
Inside the familiar CAMH ACU/GPU, I committed myself to fighting for mental health justice. I joined the Empowerment Council and filed a claim against my employer with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. My employer would not let me return to work in fear of my new “crazy” title. They said I was a liability and could be violent with their child and elderly clients (I’ve never been violent in my entire life). My employer responded to my claim after cordial negotiations and honored my requests for compensation of lost wages and to have all employees participate in training from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Success! I continue to take medication for Bipolar I and seek out new recovery and social justice opportunities where I can. Along with my studies at Ryerson, I am taking a workshop on dreams, Mindfulness and oddly enough, Gestalt therapy. I also volunteer at the Gerstein Crisis Centre and work as an event coordinator with an early intervention team at Canadian Mental Health Association. I recently finished contract work doing non-material loss interviews for a class action suit against Toronto Community Housing. I had the privilege to gather valuable info about residents experiencing PTSD and an exacerbation of mental illness symptoms, from a 6 alarm fire that occurred at 200 Wellesley St. I hope my contribution to this legal case will provide justice for these impoverished people. My next venture may involve working as a peer counselor at CAMH and continuing my work in advocacy! Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis have provided me with insight into the personal trials in my life. Along with my ability to welcome change, they have contributed to my work in recovery and social justice.

June 5, 2011

Path of a Hurricane

Controlling the speed at which conceit travels to the brain has never been an issue for RRL. History lessons have kept us partial to humility. Therefore, it is with modest pride and extreme gratitude I announce Running Red Lights as the 2011 winners of Kensington Sounds Annual Songwriting competition. Many many thanks to Adam Debevc and the staff of Kensington Sound for the distinguished privilege of the title. We look forward to stimulating our creativity in your renowned studio! As well, a big thank you to Nicholas Longstaff of West Queen West for nourishing talent and cultivating possibilities for artists who may otherwise not get the opportunity to be heard. Thank you to the Drake Hotel and Soundman John X. THANK YOU to performers Nilima Chowdury, Angela Saini and the Residents, Primitive Revolution and Jojeta. WOW! Perhaps the most diverse assortment of musical styles I've experienced in one night and ALL QUALITY. RRL recognizes the very narrow margin of which we managed to slip through victoriously. Much respect and love to our fellow musicians!

In other news, Running Red Lights is happy to announce our recent partnership with manager Allan Wells of Comino Productions. As an experienced and well traveled musician, Allans well rounded, unique insight and understanding will be a much needed asset to the RRL team. Welcome aboard Allan, we look forward to the climb!

Events coming in the near future include July 1st, Canada Day celebrations at the Trinity in Sarnia with our most loved band and dear friends The Brilliance. $5.OO cover includes a copy of our recent Orange release and two KICK ASS rock shows. Hot DIGGITY DEAL!

Running Red Lights first official music video is in the final stages of edit and will be ready for release by July. A Sarnia and Toronto premiere is in the infancy stages of preparation. Stay tuned for details.

Running Red Lights has experienced an intense surge of creativity over the last few months and we are currently in the demoing stages of recording. We are hoping to head into the studio toward the month of August with the intent of recording a full album. Plans are subject to change dependent on circumstances, however, we will be posting a number of teasers over the next few months for those of you needing a new track to add to your RRL collection. Some high caliber songs coming down the pipe line!

Thanks for support, love and happiness. Peace and Harmony. <3 Scarlett

May 9, 2011

It's a WRAP

After a long 12 hours of hair fussing, make-up retouching, lint brushing, relighting and picture rolling, Running Red Lights in collaboration with Directors Kenny Wong and Jason Lupish, Camera Operator Erica Sherwood and Executive Producer Alanna Memme has called it a wrap on RRL's first official music video 'Runaway'.

Running Red Lights would like to once again extend a very sincere, warm thank you to our sponsors (in no particular order); Matthew Rennie, Maria Wrightman, Patricia Bennett, Nick Dochstader, Jenn Kohler, Chad Cote, Shannon Callahan, Karen Dufty, Lois Carter, Lionel Bennett, Jeremy Hendrikx, Galit Blumenthal, Ann and Chris Drury, Kelli-Ann Drury, Deb and Dan Howley, Irene Puzak, Aris and several anonymous contributors.

A very special thank you to the exceptionally talented, hair stylist extraordinaire, Miss Rose Huggett.

Also, thank you once again and always to the Malcolm family for allowing us to raid their treasured tickle trunk.

Thank you to Johnny Roccos in St. Catherines for providing us with locale and incredible cuisine.

Please keep posted for more behind the scenes footage and interviews, as well as a special message of thanks for all our generous sponsors. We anticipate a premiere and release by June. Stay tuned for details!

May 6, 2011

Behind the Scenes of 'Runaway' with RRL

RRL - Runaway BTS (Washroom Break) from kenny wong on Vimeo.

WARNING: The following contains course language and lewd behavior. Viewers discretion is advised. Password to view the following is RRL