‘Volt’: The maudit anglophone fan page

Current week

2003: December 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

Monday 1

Volt does World AIDS Day. So let’s send a straight girl to give blood, which, due to ill-founded discrimination with a putative health basis, the fags on staff couldn’t do. Nadia’s segment’s listing of a host of permanent exclusions conveniently glosses over the fact that “high-risk sex” is interpreted as any gay sex anywhere anytime. (The chipmunky interstitial segments with Fred and whoever else dressed as red and white blood cells whiz that fact by, in bureaucratese that remains such even at an unintelligibly squelchy 290 words a minute.)

But, you know, all the kids in the audience don’t have to worry about any of that.

And by the way, what does any of this have to do with AIDS, apart from constituting another form of irrational discrimination against homosexualist men?

Now, shouldn’t I be happy that Fred and Nadia’s extro dealt with this very same issue? No. Nadia had interviewed an actual flak from Canadian Blood Services. She’s the one Nadia should have taken it up with. By their own admission, only three of nine Voltistes are even eligible to donate.

An opinionated show like Volt, even with an educational mandate, is not in a position to reiterate the biases of some large institution, only to half-heartedly critique them post facto.


When Lyba Spring tells us 35% of HIV cases are in heterosexualists, why didn’t Fred get a breakdown by gender? You don’t seriously think that guys who have sex only with women and don’t shoot up drugs are at any serious risk at all, do you?

However, loved the fausse pub with Det. Gomez and Lt. Lalancette. FUR-TRIMMED BOMBER JACKETS & MUTTONCHOPS AGAINST AIDS.

Tuesday 2

Well. Now that we’ve gotten yesterday’s episode behind us, it’s another episode of T’as faim. Tune in tomorrow.

Wednesday 3

Nadia gives us a reportage on hidden fats and suchlike in junk food. But on such a fashionable show, how could she forget the most fashionable harmful food component there is – trans fats? How could she?

I eat two bags of potato chips a month, and feel positively sinful for it.

Hey! Raw food! Frankie stops himself from nuking a carrot. I still have nightmares about Sustenance, the raw-food joint in Cabbagetown that I never went to. This one I’m going to.

Good solid entertaining informative show today, kids. What a difference two days make.

Thursday 4

Sure, go and blow it with a “retro show.” Not that it was unentertaining at all. Love the old Xmas skits.

Monday 8

Wow. Bearded-Lady Day is really great. Hideously clever mechanism of hiding week-long beard growth under surgical masks. Frankie looks best, frankly. It was like preteen boys showing each other their hard-ons. It was so cute!

We enjoyed the further superglamorous pleasure of listening to Fred plod along in English.

It’s a totally great concept. Though I think the barber brought in for the exercise was a bit of a wanker.

And the latest uninteresting Franco-Ontarian band to merit an interview on Volt? An a-cappella group called SAIJ. DULLJ. Three of the five of them are nice to look at, though. And actually whoever the hell the leader is would make a good TV host. Keep that in mind!

Poils incarnés is such a more euphonious way of saying “pseudofolliculitis barbæ”!

A fun and not-remotely-educational episode. (Frankie’s discursion on hair didn’t work, and didn’t need to.) Pretty good, really.

Tuesday 9

And we switch back to educational mode today. Nadia teaches us how to remove stubborn stains. Very Procter & Gamble circa 1979.

Is it just me or has Crystal(s) et Monique turned in on itself? I love me the catchphrases, but are there too many catchexclamations? Also moves a hundred miles an hour.

Volt does Linux! Admirably obscure. Volt.TFO.org is served by Apache on (presumably) Linux: Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Darwin) PHP/4.1.2 mod_perl/1.26.

Wednesday 10

Love them losers at the comix con, huh? But what’s that astonishingly-gorgeous blond fella doing there? He’s much too high-function, and he knows it.

Frankie goes Hollywood with his new dyke haircut, which totally works.

Lessee... comix in French. Anyone remember the trouble Angloman had with the Régie des superhéros et pouvoirs surhumains?

I am totally not getting the segments with Fred as unintelligible country farmer. Tautology, shurely?!

Thursday 11

All videos all the time, perhaps inevitably leading off with Basement Jaxx, “Lucky Star.” Overplaying on Volt is reason enough to dislike them even were there no abundant other reasons.

“Get Yourself High” by Chemical Brothers. Wow, great concept, excellent execution. We expect this from the lads. Impossibly screamingly funny with the whipping off of shirts to reveal bigger and bigger boomboxen! J’adore, j’adore.

“This Is Our Emergency” by Pretty Girls Make Graves. “Holes in You” by the complete nobodies Konflit Dramatik. «J’ai oublié» by Capitaine Révolte.

Monday 15

Dense, pun-heavy intro delivered with Fred’s trademark breeziness. I betcha he never loses his patience.

Wiggery winter jackets with Nadyne! Drunk driving with Frankie! Orthodox Christian, Muslim, and on-staff Jewess! Service pieces have never been more exciting.

Then Frankie trods the boards, as they inevitably say, with Franco-Ontarian Idol wannabes in New Liskeard.

And that is it.

Tuesday 16

A couple of dull segments on homey Xmas decorating for the poor by Nadyne and Renée. Then, finally, Studio Météo! I love it when Voltistes are forced to snog for the camera. (So did Steve, presumably.)

One did not understand exactly which technical breakdown, other than Martin’s admitted appalling English (“pryzen méét”), necessitated rerunning a previously-taped segment as Fred and Martin stand around giving metacommentary. In fact, after two viewings I failed to understand the entire segment. And two viewings are all I’m gonna give it.

Wednesday 17

This is the Christmas party? Where’s Simone?

Right. So Nadia goes shopping for “environmental” Christmas presents, an unending litany of tautology right there.

Thursday 18

The Stoner manqué and Cindy host Xmas videos before the Voltistes head away on a European-style vacation. Where’s the New Year’s Eve party for losers?

It’s a tough life working for Volt.

«Derrière mon sourire» by Sans Pression. “Where Is the Love?” by Black-Eyed Peas. “Fix Up[,] Look Sharp” by Dizzee (sic) Rascal. «Ma femme me trompe» by Jeronimo, though there are probably some accents hidden in that name. «Léo» by Suroit... but wait, that was the wrong vid! “I Believe I Can Fly” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, with hot karaoke action.

Closing the year

The old gay host, Frankie Grisé, grew into the job. When push came to shove, he eventually learned to shove back. Nonetheless, he could not eradicate his air of sullied superiority: I really am too old, Québécois, and sophisticated to be hosting a vulgar show for teenagers on a rinkydink network in Ontario. It’s hard to be one of the gang when you’ve got curly hair, and harder still not to come off all poncy, artistique, and superior. (Did you know he has an MFA from York, or is that Glendon?)

I feel that His Time on Volt gave Frankie Grisé a nucleus around which to crystallize an actual personality. Actors often don’t have one of their own, remember. He engaged in a quoted 140 episodes of what he and his fellow Voltistes are convinced is backbreaking labour, all for a minuscule audience comprised mostly of hosers from up north, and that was enough to clarify for him what he didn’t want to do with his life.

Then again, he might simply have been fired. Either way, we ended up with Fred, and we’re pretty lucky, you know. To host a comedy show, even one with an alleged educational mandate, success is predicated on personality. There is no rule that you have to be snarky (the Letterman model), but you cannot function with no there there. Fred’s charm and fluency are evident and persuasive. He’s certainly the best-looking male host in living memory. And there simply isn’t an incompetent castmember on the show anymore; those all seem to have been weeded out. Nadyne could easily host it, you know, as I have repeatedly stated. This, in the industry, is known as chain of succession.

With so little snark on the set, Volt has actually become good-natured. It works – it’s real, it’s unforced – because the entire cast, under the strong lead of the host, has good nature. This is a new development in my experience of the show, since every other host save for Frankie Grisé – Turgeon, Garneau, Pichette – has been blessed with a strong backbone of sarcasm, parody, irony, and ridicule. (Grisé started out as a nobody. By the time a real Grisé materialized, it was too late.)

I find myself in the position of writing what is now in every significant respect a fan page. There is very little to complain about. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I didn’t inaugurate this site merely to complain. (The reign of Pichette – with its astonishing excesses, many of them personified by Mathieu “NUDIE SHOW” Chantelois – led Voltistes to think otherwise. Mustn’t mistake the trees for the forest.) I gave my actual and true reactions, except inasmuch as I tried very hard to sound constructive and say something helpful wherever possible. Yes, that was what I was doing all along, even if it evaded your notice.

Staffmembers holed up at 2180, rue Yonge never could figure out what I was doing. That’s because they did not, and apparently do not, understand the Web – this despite the fact that they work in the media themselves. I suppose it makes sense in another way, though: They work in broadcast media, where the model is programming: We the CRTC licenseholder will broadcast to you, who will then be programmed by what we transmit. Essentially, broadcast media are a form of indoctrination or disinformation, a process of manufactured consent. The hyperleftist critiques of mainstream media are not fanciful theories; they are simple statements of fact.

Whereas online, anyone may publish. We have a free press – with limitations, but rather minor ones, as TVO’s libel lawyers will attest. Volt existed in a kind of quantum state of simultaneously broadcasting (indoctrinating, disinforming, consent-manufacturing), but doing so to a subset of a minority audience in a single province, with a backward satellite province tacked on later. Voltistes labour to this very day in obscurity. Thus when an even-more-obscure Web site pops up to shed light on everything revealed on the program, Voltistes don’t know how to take it. It had never occurred to them that what they were doing was really public (hello! you’re on TV!) and could be exposed to public comment.

As with typographers and captioners, Voltistes laboured in obscurity, resented being so obscure and underappreciated, yet resented it more when somebody came along and made the show less obscure. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Take it from someone involved in typography and captioning!

So here we are, in Year 4 of Volt: The maudit anglophone fan page. Because the show is running so well, I don’t have a whole lot to write about. I sit there and simply enjoy the program, except inasmuch as the dull service pieces of yore are still dull service pieces, and I tend to ignore them. (Those could be improved, I submit.)

I’ll keep on keeping on, even though I recognize it is now no longer anomalous but somewhat strange-seeming (strange-seeming) that a fellow pushing 40 would run the fan page for the French teen show. (Then again, what are all those old people doing working on it?) Something may come up on the program. You never know. I’m in it for the duration. The show needs someone checking it. It needs outside supervision (and someone jotting down all the videos it plays). As I like to say, a TV show doesn’t exist until it has a fan page. Otherwise it’s a tree falling in a forest.

However, a conflict of interest must be declared. Charles Duchesne almost never appears on the show anymore, but when he does, everyone must be aware that I am friends with his former spouse. He and I are close friends, in fact. In response to Charles’s constant yammerings about me behind my back, I have resolved to stay within strict confines: I talk about him in these pages only when he goes on the air. (Save for this paragraph, I suppose. Anyway, Charles has been on the air only once this year so far.) I can assure you those passages are and will be tightly edited and wordsmithed to a precision of half a micron. I will nonetheless say what I actually think, as I otherwise do anyway, and as elsewhere in this fan site, nobody gets to read them before posting.

Even though I was on the show once, now quite a few years ago, I didn’t have a personal connection to Volt until late 2002 when I met my close personal friend. It was purely coincidental, by the way, even wildly improbable or cosmic, but the combination of having appeared on the show and being close friends with my close friend makes me part of the extended Volt family. If you thought I was too bitchy before and I didn’t have license to criticize, well, you can still believe the former but you have no right to believe the latter, if you ever did in the first place.

Happy new year all around.

Superspecial supplement for JS and acolytes!

What was the name of that old JS segment in which they busted shit up? [Thinks] Right. Les gogosses à JS. (Beautiful set of long-exposure photographs, but no way those are gogosses!)

Well, the January–February ’04 Punk Planet carries an interview with some videographeuse or other who runs a cable-access show in the States.

In the “Smash Club” segments, you show various people smashing things with a sledgehammer, like typewriters. How did that start?
This guy I know, Tony, started “Smash Club.” I feel like he could have ended up a psycho killer if it [weren’t] for “Smash Club,” because after a while it led to this obsession with axes and hammers and he really fell in love with finding out where they’re from and where they’re made. I feel [as though] smashing stuff, to him, it’s almost a spiritual thing. Once he kind of turned it from anger into something positive, it made a big change in his life. For Tony, it’s therapeutic. He just smashes already-broken stuff or stuff he’s getting rid of. It’s kind of like composting. Everyone does “Smash Club” for different reasons and a lot of people were surprised at how they ended up feeling. I wanted to document that.