Saturday, November 18, 2006

Summer 2006 - Part 1: Tee Dot Party

Toronto. Pearson Airport. Arrival and crosscheck.
Ah summer in Toronto.
Hot and stinky. Both me and Toronto.
Shared a taxi into town with this girl from Halifax
who was coming to 'surprise' her boyfriend because she
hadn't heard from him in a couple of months.
Holy bad idea Batman! He had moved to the city to
start a business and was apparently quite busy with
that and she had stayed back home on account of the
old dog. I asked what business and she said well, he
was featured on television's Seinfeld once.
"You're dating the SOUP NAZI?"
"Do you have any backup plan in case this doesn't work
"And he has no idea you're here?"

Oh boy.
Women. I swear there's a chemical that flows through
our veins to spare us from the obvious. Makes sense I
suppose. A great deal of belief must be suspended and
a lot of fantasy infused to distract us from the fact
that they are just men and when they are talking to
the dog perhaps they are simply talking to the dog and
it's not a metaphor for anything.
It was so boiling. Headed to the guitar store so the
Kesper Twins could take a look at my ailing axe.
Alejandro Escovedo was there and invited me to his
show that night. Left the guitar with boys even though
they fixed it right away no problem and headed up to
Garth Johnson. The Old Drummer. We used to live
together and play together and now he lives in
Chinatown. Totally awesome real estate. Right behind
The Horseshoe with enough room for guests. And he is a
fabulous host. And an amazing cook. Heat and good
smells hit me when I walked up the stairs past the
bike in the hall.
Man it was hot and he was slaving away over the stove.

Rosa, his Room-mate The Artist, whom I adore, was
sitting at the kitchen table drinking wine.
"Hey! Hug hug kiss kiss let's get you some wine and
It's so nice when you're real friends and there's none
of those strained host/guest feelings. (Or he's that
good of an actor.)
A delicious pasta was served and Garth's brother Brad
come over on a mission to drain a Jaegermeister
bottle. Wife away doncha know.
Suggested going to the Alejandro show but we were in
no condition to be seen in public. Especially after
the joint was passed around.
I went to bed right when Brad climbed out the window
to get on the super pointy roof three stories up to
have a word with the raccoon.

Day 2

Up at the crack of 2pm! I had travelled through time
so it was actually 11.
Brad and Garth took me out to breakfast and talked
about making an appearance at their work but decided
to go to the lake instead.
They were making big city life look pretty easy in
their modern Toronto film maker glasses and short
sleeve shirts.
Garth lent me his bicycle and I went to rehearsal.
This was a Hootenanny Summer. Our little super group
side project that's slowly taking over everything. We
were booked at something every weekend. Rode over to
Oh! Susanna's house and found the gang on the porch.
Mostly hung out and made a set list. There was some
hilarity with the childproofed toilet and I think I
broke the sink. Both things in like under three
minutes of being there too!

Thursday was dinner with Neville only there was no
dinner. We talked for like seven hours straight and
figured out the whole universe. Felt bad because by
the time Ford came over after practise we had already
peaked and were down to monosyllabic grunting.

This is vaguely distressing but I can't remember what
happened the next night. It's completely blank. I
remember being on the roof with Garth at like 5am
drinking wine while he wielded some sort of power tool
and put some screening over the hole where the
raccoons were getting in. I remember wrapping the
extension cord around the chimney and then making him
wrap it around his waist and perhaps holding an ankle.
We totally shook hands with danger.
I vaguely remember doing a voice over for a tampon
commercial at Garth's editing suite.
I remember loafing around Neville's. This is my
speciality and why I love Toronto. People let me
lounge around in their houses while they go to work to
pay for them. It's a beautiful arrangement.

Oh wait now I remember! Another hootenanny rehearsal
out at Jenny's Dad's house in Etobicoke. Rode the bike
down by the Lakeshore. Snickered at all the people
stuck in the heat and the Friday rush hour traffic
underneath me when I cruised above the 401 on an
overpass but then remembered that it would soon be me
down there. Got to feel smug for a moment though, and
it's been a while.
The ladies were making dinner. Jenny and Joey looked
gorgeous because they'd been to Granny's funeral
earlier. I remember my parents coming to get me and my
brother from school once and they were dressed up and
arm in arm and looked like movie stars in love and
we'd never seen them like that and they took us out
for supper and they said they'd been to something
called "A Funeral" and me and my brother were all
like, "You guys should go to way more of those!"
Dinner. Drinks. Practise.
The Mandolin Genius was kind of plastered and
listening to Merle Haggard. He kept grabbing me to
check out the lyrics man. There was this one called
'Shoot out the Footlights' that's like the most
depressing song I've ever heard.
I told him I'd be right back. I was just going to the
back yard to kill myself!
I think women secretly hate when their fellows get
wasted and blubber into the stereo over Merle Haggard.
Especially when they end up passing out before band
practise has even started. At least Merle Haggard has
some cred and worked jobs and made it to all his shows
and went to jail and kind of tries to be a man. I
think the Townes Van Zant 'loser as hero' thing is
more troubling. It's just like when all the dudes
gather round to watch World at War or something. The
ladies are just left going where's OUR heroes? Don't
you see it's up to you to make your OWN history? As I
used to say to the old guitar player when I was trying
to make her join me on some caper, "God Brigette! When
they write the biography, this night's gonna be a
total write-off!" She never fell for it not even once
and will probably outlive me.
Uh, I don't know how this happened but there are
children in our band. Well they were at practise
demanding all the attention anyway. I suspect they
came with their parents. It's an interesting
development as we were already having a tacit
competition to see who could be the most high
maintenance one. I was almost winning and then they
had to bring in the ringers.
I put on a puppet show when it wasn't my turn to play.

Figured out the order and ran everyone's songs and a
young man I've never seen before came down the stairs
and joined us on the organ. He was really good. Turned
out to be Jenny's younger brother. Didn't realize how
young he was. Might have laid Ali's "Double fisting is
the new black" line on him after band practise. Hard
to say. Jenny told me about it the next day but at the
time I was delightfully oblivious. Success!

Harbourfront Hootenanny Show.
Beautiful sunset while we played the stage right
beside the Jamaican booth. Made us feel especially
White in our matching outfits and enthusiastic
choreography. The children joined us onstage holding
paper tambourines and when I was introducing Jenny I
felt something oh so soft and smooth travelling up my
inner thigh. You know like THE FEELING. I jumped a
foot and screamed but it was just Jenny's three year
old daughter Lila reaching for my hand and missing.
Holy. If we're gonna be having children on stage then
I get a dog goddamn it!

Afterwards, we went to The Handsome Family show at the
Horsehoe. Jenny and I held hands on the patio and had
a couple of bracers before going in. Seriously
considered getting The Horseshoe door stamp tattooed
on my wrist. I'm here so much it would just save time.
And also to symbolize my seeming career stasis at the
Smallish Canadian Bar level.
The show was SO GOOD. The Handsome Family are the best
band ever of all time! I love them so much it hurts. I
want to hump their legs and take them home and make
them mine. It is crucial if you are in a band to see a
brilliant show every so often because it makes you
remember what it's all for.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Took myself out to Mimi's. Thought about calling
someone but thought I'd be selfish and savour the
freedom of going alone. Mimi's is a teensy 12 seat
cafe on Bathurst above a bathhouse run by Mimi.
Jane Siberry's song 'Mimi on the Beach' is allegedly
about her.
Garth's roommate Rosa, The Artist, works there too.
It's full of knick-knacks and autographed band posters
and she has a promotional McGregor's Happy Foot and
signed photograph of The Dalrubio Triplets. Live
concert videos play round the clock on a TV above the
bar. It looks a lot like Pee Wee's Playhouse which is
exactly my sensibility.
Okay, it looks like my kitchen.
Mimi does not give her love without a referral.
I went there once in The Before Times and she threw me
I went again with Neko and Mimi fawned all over her to
the point that I was checking my pulse every few
minutes to see if I was still there.
Then somehow, she saw a show or heard something and I
was deemed Worthy and ever since then it's been pure
love. She once baked me a guitar shaped brownie cake
saying, "I didn't know how much you took so I put it
on the side" quoting a Woody Allen movie and handing
me some fine buds for the road. Ah what a woman!
She made me an omelet that was bigger than my head and
a giant plate of fresh fruit.
Went for a bike ride and headed back to the crash pad
to await instruction from Agent Jansen.
Shuyler.(pronounced Shy-ler) Currently my only ally
from The West in the group. The others had yet to
He had a solo show in Waterloo that night at The
Starlight and I wanted to go and surprise the club
owner Bernard who is an old friend. The Starlight is
my favourite place to play. And hanging out with
Shuyler is like going swimming; I've never once
regretted it.
We were stealing Vanna White, Jenny and Joey's minivan
for the trip, but first we had to take them to the
party. Cam and Suzie's boy Sal's first birthday. Kind
of a big deal since the little fellow was premature
and was about the size of a mouse when he was born.
Knowing him now I figure he just couldn't wait to get
here. As much of a fan of his as I am, afternoon
kiddie parties ain't my scene so we dropped them off
and then faked them out by pretending we were coming
up the stairs behind them and then running back to the
van at the last minute and peeling out of the
Tee hee.
For once there was no traffic on the way out of town
and Shuyler lit up a big joint and we were grinning to
ourselves at our Western Stealth and the prospect of a
night of undiluted Bernard hospitality. I believe we
were actually high-fiving each other when the oil
light came on.
"No! Joey told me to check check the oil but I thought
he meant like 'next time you get gas check the oil'
not like 'CHECK THE OIL!"
Shuyler is a man in a band from Alberta who prides
himself on knowing this stuff so this is killing him.
We pull over and pop the hood.
We were on the 401 and cars and rigs were wailing by.
And it was boiling and the sun was beating down.
Hmm. Well the engine wasn't seized so that's good. I
made a sign with some lined paper and a jiffy marker
that said, "Oil?" and stood by the side of the road
holding it up hopefully.
The thing is the cars were going like 120 so even if
they could have seen me it would have taken them like
800 meters to slow down.
We ain't Out West anymore.
A woman stopped though and gave us half a thing of oil
and then a rig stopped and then a tow truck and then
the cops.
The cop said someone had reported a woman in a crazy
dress holding a sign on the side of the road. Well
it's always nice to have advance publicity...
The tow truck guy was anxious to get the ailing van
into his clutches and the cop wanted us gone. I said,
"Oh try it just once more!" and it turned over and we
sent everyone away. We made it to the next exit but
Vanna was fading.
Went to a gas station. Had a smoke. Fuck it was hot.
"Guess I better call Joey..." said Shuyler.
"I'll call Bernard".
I told Bernard that I was on my way to see him and he
sounded excited. Bernard always sounds excited which
is why we love him. Oh how he stands miles above the
other jaded snobby club owners in our estimation. It's
so rare to meet kindred spirits who enjoy what they
do. I think it freaks other people out. To use the
porno film analogy, it's like we're having real
orgasms instead of faking them like you're supposed to
when you're working.
While he was still excited, I explained our plight.
Bernard is always rescuing someone. It's only an hour
and a half from Toronto to Waterloo but for some
reason it's notoriously hard to get to.
I figure it's called Waterloo for a reason.
Shuyler's on the other phone talking to Joey. I love
how undramatic men can be when shit's going down.
"Hey. Van's fucked. Yeah. Oil light keeps coming on.
Okay. Call you back."
We go out to the parking lot and turn her over and run
it for a while. Seems fine. Temperature's normal. Oil
light's staying off. Maybe we can just take back roads
and it'll be all right...
We make it about half a mile down the road and all the
symptoms recur and now there is smoke.
The next gas station we stop at is tiny and has no
phone so we walk a mile or so and end up at a computer
store in a strip mall.
Welcome to beautiful Mississauga. Population:Us.
There is a mosque across the street and the way the
wind is carrying the music it sounds like fucked up
George Jones. We end up in an Indian grocery store and
Shuyler makes one last call to Bernard.
"Hey look I'm really sorry. Looks like I can't make
it. Hey. Thank the other band for me would ya? Tell
em.. Tell em I would have been great."
You could actually hear the sound of three hearts
"Okay. Stay put. I'll come and get you."
We start jumping up and down because it was looking so
bleak for a while there.
A tow truck is coming and so is Joey and so is
Bernard. Miraculously all three show up at about the
same time.
Shuyler says to Joey who arrives first, "Hey. You
think I'm a prick now, well I'm still going to the
Joey is awesomely unphased.
We peel away with Bernard and speed towards the show.
Shuyler gets there just in time to play and he's
awesome. The sound is good and the little hipsters
enjoy him. Obviously we miss dinner but Bernard keeps
the vodka cranberries coming hard and fast.
The other band is young and American and obviously has
support of some kind. They sound like The Old 97's,
like it's Whitesnake pop riffs disguised as something
more gritty only the grit is dusted on the surface
instead of the other way around. Whatever, I'm tired
and fall asleep on one of the couches in the bar.
Shuyler is across the room passed out on two chairs.
The staff parties.
Oh yeah. Somewhere in there we ended up talking to The
Bouncers. They were celebrating the one's Last Night
and talking about cheating. My ears pricked up
immediately and I had to join them.
Turns out the one leaving was a Turkish prince who's
been hiding in Canada disguised as a Regular Guy
before his Real Life begins. The other one is really
funny. He tells wild stories that all begin and end
with the phrase "Ask Kyle man. Ask fucking Kyle man!"
Kyle is his younger brother and, to him, the
Kilimanjaro of authority. They tell a story about this
bouncer they used to work with who is famous for
never having any trouble during his shifts because of
his cool calming terrifying aura. Turns out it's
because he actually, you know, killed someone. Yup.
Dragged 'em to the river and held 'em under the water.
"Ask fucking Kyle man. Ask fucking Kyle!"
Bernard has obviously never heard these stories before
and I can see him wondering about the secret lives of
the rest of his staff.
Bernard wakes us up at about four and takes us back to
his apartment up the street. It's boiling and smells
like rotting fish sauce. I kind of wish he'd left us
in the coolth of the bar.
We wake up ridiculously dehydrated .
Breakfast and then Bernard puts us on the bus back to
Toronto. I bury myself in The Philosophy of Love
book I'm reading to escape my earthly pains.
Joey picks us up at the station in his Mother's car
and we go to the mechanic's to face the music. And it
ain't a pretty song.
They're putting in a new radiator to the tune of $500
which seems weird to me because it wasn't leaking or
spewing green smoke or any of the usual radiator
signs. I had just been through that a few weeks before
in Alberta with The Honeys but whatevs.
I left them in the parking lot and headed back to
Garth's and made a date with my friend Trish even
though I was kind of spent. It's a long bike ride to
her house but I needed the air. Any air'll do even it
it's hot and stinky air.
We were sitting in the back yard eating gazpacho and
drinking mint juleps with the dog when then the wind
and heat lightening started up. And it was mighty. I
was thinking about the overpass on Dundas that I
needed to ride the bike over. Trish made me a bed in
the living room. So awesome to sleep...

I think I realize why east coasters talk about where
they're from so much. It's because they're displaced
and homesick. I am starting to relate to them. It's a
lonesome feeling to experience culture shock within
your own country. I think it's mostly the humour that
I miss. The jokes out here are like a different brand
of smokes; they'll do until you find your own kind
I've been reading what I suspect is light summer lady
reading disguised as something more noble.
"The Consolations of Philosophy" by Allan de Botton. A
brief easy-read paperback on the history of and modern
applications of philosophy. Garth's buddy Glen, the
philosophy professor, hates it. Rosa, Garth's
room-mate, the artist, thinks it's wonderful.
It starts with Aristotle who chose to die rather than
compromise his beliefs even though he was the one that
came up with the whole sometimes it's stronger in
battle to retreat than advance.
Pass the Hemlock, A-Dog, I'll drink to that!
And then it's Seneca and Epicurus who found solace
when they lowered their expectations and then my
favourite Shopenhauer who claimed that there needed to
be rough for us to even notice smooth and then ending
with Neitchze the favourite of teenage girls around
the world who said all the other philosophers were a
bunch of cabbage heads and that life is a total shit
show and only he was strong enough to take it. That
is, until he went to Italy and it blew his fucking
mind and he fell in love and started writing poetry
and then spent his last eleven years locked up in an
asylum. Damn. I was so with him until the end. (Some
say it was the syphilis)
Anyway it's the dangerous kind of book that makes you
feel instantly smart without any effort.
Turns out The Philosophy of Love book is way more
dangerous if you happen to crack it when you're laying
around other peoples' apartments in the heat staring
wistfully out the window at your new boyfriend The CN
Tower. The book gives you the notion that you should
find someone immediately and what easier prey than
those waiting in the wings ready to pounce at the
slightest indication. So you Call Home and The Voice
on the other end has no idea what is hanging in the
balance and what magic words are so desperately needed
because The Voice on the other end does not travel or
suffer from self doubt and cares not for words and
will speak only of the dog's health leaving you with
only the hope that his words can be read as a metaphor
for his concern for you. So maybe you get drunk and
call someone easier to reach but it's never as good,
or no better rather, so then finally you give up, stop
dressing in the morning and write two songs which was
always the answer all along.
And you are so pleased with your two new songs you are
humming them and smiling fiendishly while putting on
your false eyelashes for the show and you embed the
two new songs in the set of tried and true faves and
when you are finished you cast your eyes coquettishly
upwards from the deep bow of the encore awaiting
Review and your real friends say 'Hey Anais Nin!
What's going on?" and The Rest gather around you after
the show and say they like the new stuff, mostly
because they want you to notice that they've noticed
that there's new stuff which is one of the fairer
deals this life offers and you drink too much wine
because your nerves are shot and stumble home alone
praying there's no one on the computer because now
you've got Something To Say Goddamn it!
Just another day at the office.

Waking up in Chinatown:
What the? Oh yeah. Hey Michelle gave me some books
last night. Where are they? Oh yeah they're with the
guitar which should be ....HOLY FUCK THE GUITAR!!!!!!
"Garth Garth the guitar!!!"
We ran down the street back to the scene of the crime
where I had left my guitar. (My guitar that was built
special for me. There's only one of it's kind in the
world!) The whole way there I was making a deal with
God that if the guitar was still there I would never
drink again. (Later I was all like "I believe in
God"?) We turned the corner and a familiar black
rounded shape came into view. Phew. Holy Shit.
I grabbed it and hugged the case. A guy was behind the
bar setting up for the day.
"Uh did you find any books?"
He held up two familiar looking tomes.
Holy shit!
Garth and I exit and on our way to breakfast behind
his back, I sneak a peak heavenwards and say with a
point and a wink, "You know when I said all that stuff
back there, I was just saying...."

Summer 2006 - Part 2: Lost Me bag on the Way to Perth

Got picked up by Cam and Suzy and Baby Sal in the
Camry. The same one they told me they were pregnant in
last April.
Coffee and blueberries from Kensington Market and off
we go to The Festival.
Destination: Perth
Did puppet shows for the baby in the backseat arrived
a l'heure to discover my bag was not in the trunk. Now
this kept happening on the last hootenanny tour. By
the end I became a forced Buddhist:
I had nothing and was one with everyone.
Aw crap. My show gown. At my suggestion, we were all
supposed to wear black or white. Jenny said I could
wear her wedding gown because she had an extra dress
for Suzy. Her wedding gown was a black cocktail halter
dress that had been making the rounds so now it was my
turn. It's one of those magical dresses that looks
good on everyone. Thank God.
They'd given us a trailer and a two hour slot on the
main stage and snacks and all was well. Sewed the
glitter musical note bedazzles on the right lapel of
everyone's outfits. They look snazzy but also double
as our homing devices to the mother ship if we get
separated and find ourselves trapped too long on other
It was a civic festival in the middle of town held in
a park by the river. Very cute. All G-rated material
would be required.
The organizer was named Carolyn. She was long tall and
blonde and we kept saying each others names over and
over again because it was so fun.
She told us that last year the trailer we were
standing in was ahem "broken in" by a "star" and a
"townie". I turned to Jenny who lived a few miles down
the road and said "You're from here AND you're a
star!" And without missing a beat she said, "Yeah I
could just lock myself in here and jerk off!"
Ah those former child stars are quick studies.
I took a look at the stage and spied two bubble
machines. I grabbed a techie and asked if there was
anyway they could be hooked up in time for our last
song. He got on the radio and activated a whole swarm
of volunteers.
I said, "Now don't get to eager and turn it on before
the last song. I know how you men get!", still scarred
from a certain incident in Calgary involving pyro.
They promised.
So at the end of a beautiful sober sunlit family
oriented set, the crew hit the machines for the last
waltz and children rushed the stage and danced in the
bubbles. Kind of touching, even for a Grinch like me.
Then dinner and a late night bar show in town.
Everyone was so nice to us. We are an exhausting group
to have to serve if you're a bartender, but the staff
were all smiles the whole night. Maybe it's because
they were all young and beautiful but it was such a
nice vibe. The people all crammed in and we got to do
the night time r-rated after dark adult show where we
get to be our real selves. Someone must have stayed
sober and drove us home to Jenny's. Can't remember
now. Oh yeah. Mellie. Luther's girlfriend. I offered
but when I saw how fancy her car was I panicked and
became immediately drunk. The car ahead of us got
pulled over by the cops and as the cherry lights hit
it we saw Cam and Suzy silhouetted inside, and then
their worried faces, mask like as the lights swung
around .
Told Lu and Mellie stories on the way home to distract
them from the darkness.

Woke up to Luther freaking out!
Come on. Let's go!
Threw on a dress, grabbed some coffee on the counter
and got in the car which started peeling out of the
driveway before my leg was even in. Apparently the
dude had a workshop at 12:30 and it was noon. He
drove like a maniac. passing a rig on a double line
and stuff and when we got there I had whiplash and
felt kind of pukey. He drove up the to gates and then
dashed across the field leaving us in the car. Mellie
said she'd go park and meet me there.
I headed to the Luther stage and saw some other people
playing songs on it. Luther was to the side looking
distressingly relaxed. He was tuning his guitar and
trying not to look sheepish.
"What?" I say.
"Uh well I guess it starts at 1. I might have misread
the schedule", he mumbled.
So rule # 7: It never pays to freak out ever.
A long afternoon of folk music loomed so I hit the
town. Bought a bra from the biker woman who ran the
lingerie shop. Finally found one that fit! And then
walked to the highway to the Canadian Tire in search
of hula hoops. Success!
Bought three and some hockey tape in black and white
so the hoops would match our outfits.
Filled them with water for added weight (Momentum
man!) and was taping them up at a picnic table by the
river. Really Nice Guy From the Canada Council sat
with me for a while and helped me rip the tape into
strips. He said he hoped I intended to put the Canada
Council logo somewhere visible
on each hoop since he had helped me.
"The Hell!" said I, "Pure joy cannot be compromised!"
Long afternoon. Another night time bar show party. I
think we were all a little corned. I was having such a
good time I didn't want the show to end. Shuyler, who
was that night's designated driver, was of the
opposite opinion. We were rough and cranky but I loved
it. Some people attempted to 'jam' with Suzy so she
did the honourable thing and left the stage saying "I
can't do this". Classy.
There was some talk that we may have run out on our
bar tab.
There was some other talk that the festival took care
of it.
I didn't even know there was a tab. I paid!
The next morning I had a workshop. At festivals they
have 'workshops'. There's no power tools or band saws
involved, the organizers just put different performers
together, often when they are at their most hungover,
and hope that hilarity will ensue. I had a workshop
with the effervescently straight-edged and earnest
Ember Swift and Australian Lesbian sensations Fruit.
In the car on the way to my gallows, I asked Shuyler
and Luther if they thought they put me in that
workshop because they thought I was a lezzer.
They said it was because they KNEW I was.
Well we work shopped away against a backdrop of bright
sunshine and the river babbled away beside us making
the light all dappled and birdies sang and families
picnicked. I made of point of applying bright red
lipstick before my song and made everyone join me.
This girl did a song about consumerism which
questioned why people buy so much stuff when they have
to find places to store their stuff so they can buy
more stuff. I ventured that with ladies it wasn't
about the stuff so much as it is about The Shopping
and she suggested that the need to shop was symbolic
of a deep void in ones character.
Then Fruit got down to business. Like Ember Swift they
are really well trained and dang that girl can sing
and there's a tuba player and the three part harmonies
and infectious heartbeat grooves and the sunshine and
the families almost swept me away only I started
thinking. And I couldn't stop.
I puzzled until my puzzler was sore.
I puzzled until I got in the car with Jenny and Joey
and young Lila.
When we were pulling away from the festival I had to
ask my tour mates if they thought that everyone
thought that life was kind of shitty and that some
people do the benevolent thing and make sweet inane
inspirational music to make everyone forget/notice
they're alive instead of dragging them back to the
present with their tales of grim reality, or, if they
thought that some people had never noticed it was
shitty in the first place.
Joey checked the rear view and said, "Naw. They
notice. We're just attracted to tragedy that's all,
cause it's the highest art form."
Got to be adopted by the family and taken back to the
farm for the night which felt pretty good.
Tea, pasta and only a very little wine.

Hey where did everybody go?
You know how parents do that thing? One minute you're
playing with their kid and they see you playing with
their kid and then the next thing you know a car is
peeling out of the driveway. Happens to me all the
time. I'm no baby sitter. I'm more of an accomplice.
I'll watch A Bug's Life eight times in a row and play
dress-up no problem. "Let's play nap!" is my favourite
So I'm laying around with Lila and we've run out of
games so she says, "Let's play Baby!" and I'm like
"Okay what does that involve?" and so she starts going
'Wah! Wah! I'm a baby!" and punching me in the tit. I
grab her little wrist and tell her not to punch me in
my best Serious Voice and the little minx says, "I'm
a baby. Baby's don't know!" and continues with the
I told Diona about it later and she said, "You're the
only person I know that could get in a fight with a
three year old!"
Yeah well it's a talent.

God where am I? What's happened to me? How did I get
Finally the others return and we can steal a car and
get back to Toronto. Country living's great and all
but we needed to flee stat.
Shuyler and I borrowed the replacement car. Big Blue
Late Eighties thing with power everything.
Oh yeah. Vanna White bit it after The Incident. The
mechanic put in the new radiator only to find that the
head gasket had blown. I know they have to hook it all
up to see if the pressure holds, but did he have to
put in a brand new radiator?
Keenly aware of our loser luck, we named the car
Ka-"blue"-ey as some sort of reverse prayer offering
to the group travel gods. Lunch in Sharbot Lake with
Luther where the vegetarian samosas are loaded with
meat but since we were all sharing like three brain
cells between us, we just ate them.
We dropped Luther off at his car at The Hideout.
"Oh so you guys are friends now?" he said mournfully,
standing there as we pulled away.
We booted it back to Toronto paying very close
attention to the gauges. Overshot T.Dot and missed the
exit , which I've done before, and then circled back
and got to Garth's at 9:20pm.
Garth was sitting in the kitchen shirtless, with a
friend who was also shirtless, shooting a bb gun down
the hallway at an elaborate target set-up. "Cease
fire!' we said when we come up the stairs.
They were drinking beer and holy shit was Garth a
sight for sore eyes. Only trouble was that we had once
again overestimated the benevolence of the Ontario
government and missed the liquor store. They shut at
9. All of them. Provincial law. So we drank their beer
until it ran out. I tried the gun once and it
backfired some bb's at my hip. Lesson learned. The
hard way. Which is apparently the only way if you're
We swapped tall tales and got drunk. Giddy with
freedom, Shuyler and I vowed that from now on we were
only gonna look out for number one and yeah, we were
gonna join the me generation and no more worrying
about everyone else and that if they handed us the
beer tickets for the whole group we'd just pocket them
and no more thinking of others but then we started
laughing because we realized that the very fact that
we were talking about it meant that we were probably
way too nice to ever be that way and that everyone
else was probably already doing all that anyway!
Garth told us about the Time Gobbler. He'd noticed
His evil presence in the big city. The Time Gobbler
wants your time. He wants to devour your time and he
is insatiable. He is a primordial mythical monster who
stems from the earths' depths and appears in human
form like he is the main fungus and the people are
just mushrooms that grow in a fairy ring around you
when you stand still, desperate to compost your time
We thought of all the notorious time gobblers we knew
and made utter sense.
'Ah but Garth, Einstein said that time is relative
like how a second with your hand in a flame feels
like an eternity but an hour spent with a beautiful
woman feels like a second."
He agreed, but only I suspect because I was gobbling
his time. The thing is, like most things, if you can't
SEE the time gobbler you ARE the time gobbler.
When we ran out of booze, we hit the street and headed
to Kensington Market like hummingbirds in search of
About a block from the house, I was testing out
Garth's Friend's ancient cruiser bike and I mentioned
the light summer philosophy I'd been reading and he
said, "Oh so you're going that route?"
Garth's Friend was a member of Cirque De Soleil and
he's an actor and therefore no stranger to doing stuff
in groups and just the way he said it in sort of an
not -at-all smug yet knowing way, it hit me that if a
guy was happy he wouldn't need to be reading about the
consolations of philosophy, he'd just be happy. And of
course there's never just ONE ANSWER to anything. But
it was sort of nice while it lasted.
Ah groups. If you don't happen to have the steeliest
of cores, they make you freak out about being you.

Day 14
Tolan Arrives.
Tolan, Garth, Ford and I played at the new Six Shooter
Records Store. It's super cute and the treatment was
fantastic. The nicest ladies in the world work there.
The store is in the east of Toronto but you can get
there no problem on the TTC Skedaddler. Our show was a
reunion of sorts. We hadn't all played together in a
while but it sounded like no time at all had passed.
Ford brought his new huge accordion and it looked like
quite the workout. Tolan's mum came and a lovely posse
of friends all came on their bicycles and it felt like
we were part of a small town community right there in
the giant stinky city! Very moving. Children danced
while the parents drank beer and it was all over by
10. Headed to the Cadillac Lounge for food and drinks.
Nevile put 20 dollars in my hand for a taxi. I was
grumpy because all that love on an empty stomach can
hit you sideways. But then it was all fine on the
I tried to convince Tolan to come with me when I left
("Day ONE man!") but he refused to abandon his post
and unfurl himself from around Martin Tielli's neck.

Got a ride to the airport to pick up The Fiddler in a
truck with only five days to live driven by The Most
Hated Man in Toronto (He's nice to me.) Got pulled
over and screamed at by the FBI. No shit.
Since we were on the 427, when cops scream at you they
come to the passenger side to do it. I was tempted to
roll up my window but figured that would have done
nothing for our cause. The dude was a walking heart
attack and he screamed and screamed that that was some
of the worst driving he'd ever seen (guess the signal
lights were out) and he didn't even WORK traffic
anymore he was on his way to the airport to attend to
some terrorist related emergency and he outta pull
this truck off the road right now and make us walk,
but then he just sort of talked himself down and let
us go.
Holy shit! We were kind of shaking while we waited
outside the terminal, way too scared now to crack a
Diona comes out and hops in the truck. She says, "So
the woman beside me on the plane said she was a
hairdresser and I thought 'No way. You're way more
than a hairdresser and it turns out, she was a
combination dominatrix stash slipper... hic...
What an entrance! Arriving drunk. That's my girl. I
looked her over and had to comment. "Um are those
dutch rubber gardening clogs on your feet? What's next
sweat pants? Have you completely given up?"
She assured me that they weren't even hers and that
there was no other choice and her real shoes walked
off with some acrobat or something at the after party
up in Dawson City and she was gonna get new ones in
Chinatown, tomorrow.
Shuyler was making us dinner at Garth's and he's a
fantastic cook. The dude even made me dig eggplant! I
don't know when the meeting was held where it was
decided that if you're a vegetarian you must love
eggplant because if i was there man, I would have
voted no. But Shuyler man, he made it taste good. Said
it's all about getting the baby ones not the giant
woody ones.
Tolan came over later and shot all eight targets with
the bb gun perfectly in rapid succession. Amazing.
Ate the food. Drank a bunch of wine. Smoked some
p.o.t. and headed out to bluegrass night at the Silver
Dollar. Miss Dottie was singing with all the pickers.
So funny to come from the Hootenanny tour where we
wear matching outfits and choreograph the segues and
make it like a whole production, to here where
everyone's in shorts and sandals and there's long
interludes between songs where they all stand around
choosing the next song until finally someone says,
"Okay in it's in A and it's a 1-2-6-4-5. Okay?
Guess it's more about the music than the show.

Hank and Lily arrive.
Opened for Sarah Harmer at The Harbour front Centre.
Totally beautiful sunset luxury show. Me and Tolan and
Diona. It's so easy when the setting is so lovely.
(Maybe hold out for only this? But what do you do in
the meantime?)
Met a lot of nice people after the show who had never
heard of me before. And Miss Sarah put on a wonderful
show. I love her. Everyone loves her. It's so great.
Afterwards we all were invited back to a little after
party in the next building where we ate chips and
salsa while Sarah and her band were presented with
gold records. When the chips were finished, we all
just took one step to the left and started in on the
pummelled carrots and hummous. Our needs were more
immediate than gold records. Maybe because we don't
have any gold records. Huh.
The problem is when it's all about survival there's no
time to think of the future.

Summer 2006 - Part 3: Irony vs. Respect @ Hillside, followed by random Kate-napping!

Hillside Festival
The Friday

Oh my god the line-up! I've heard about this festival.
How it's not a 'Folk' Festival like the others. How
it's a Music Festival and upon consulting the
programme my first thought was "Holy shit this guy's
got good taste in music!" And then because I'm older
now, I changed it to "Oh my god me and this guy have
the SAME taste in music."
Picture every band you've ever wanted to see and all
your friends all on one island for three days. And
nearby swimming for when your brain was gonna melt and
a backstage celebrity beer tent to boot.
All the conditions for manic euphoria.
My only beef, upon consulting the program, was that I
was hostessing "The Irony Workshop".
"Irony? I was kind of working on more of a real life
tell it like it is kind of thing here. My life is NOT
ironic." I thought puffing up my chest and sticking my
chin out.
I don't know why I chose to focus on this detail more
than others. I was also in the "Those Were The Days"
workshop and one called "New World Disorder" and those
titles stayed on the page their normal size without
glowing, growing and grabbing me by the throat.
Irony huh? Huh.
Also in the programme was a picture of The Arcade Fire
and underneath there was a caption stating that they
had played Hillside '04 and '05 and that "Hillside
excels at catching rising stars just before they meet
nation-wide acclaim."
I'll keep all my digits crossed, with one foot on the
floor like usual.
We got really nice hotel rooms for the first and only
time the whole summer and we were pretty grateful as
'habit blunts the edge of pleasure' or at least that's
what all the poor folks say to comfort themselves...
The catch was that the festival site was half an hour
away from the hotel and there were only a few 8-seater
vans leaving every hour on the hour for everybody and
there were like seventy bands.
The plan was to arrive early so we could practice but
since a time was never fixed, Tolan and Diona and I
wandered off in search of supplies while the others
congregated and then when we materialized the others
had vapourized. Then time sped up like it does and we
boarded the shuttle to the first workshop which had
its charms and then we hung out in the celebrity beer
tent in between checking out The Great Lake Swimmers,
Corb Lund and Katheen Edwards who were gracing the
main stage. Me and Serena Ryder hula hooped like
fiends. She was even wearing black and white so we
matched. She asked if she could join our hootenanny. I
said only if she didn't ask me any questions and well,
that was one already.
Quite drunk, fairly stoned, a little bit AWOL and
totally unconcerned with The Future, ended up missing
the last shuttle.
Headed down the dirt road with a fairly motley and
hopeless crew, representing most of the provinces and
even The Yukon, not knowing what to do, when a man in
a van slowed down because he recognized my orange
travel case. He should have. He sold it to me. Runs
the thrift store in Guelph. He's normally kind of a
handful but I've never been happier to see him. And
his van was empty and he had room for all of us and
gave us a ride back to town.
Who says shopping doesn't pay?

The Saturday
Had a very sober, brief and daylight set with the
whole gang. The people really dug Hank and Lily. Would
have been great to play at night but it left the whole
day mostly free to check out bands, swim and avoid the
lure of the beer tent.
Saw The Hidden Cameras play and my new favourite band
Spiral Beach before heading over to the dreaded Irony
Right before I went on I thought I'd ask The Poets
about it before I got out of my league. Shockingly, I
found them standing around the bar. (The guys from
TOFU-Tons of Fun University. Go and see them now!) I
said, "Hey Poets! Quickly before I go on, what's irony
And they sighed and one said, "When the outcome defies
the expectation."
And the other added, "The vast gulf between promise
and reality."
Oh like EVERYTHING in my life!
I froze. Oh my god! Maybe my problem was way bigger
than the title of the workshop. Maybe if you refuse,
or are unable, to pick what I call "Door Number One"
(marriage, money, 'success' that straight people can
recognize etc) the people for whom door number one
actually worked out for think you are simply being
'ironic' anytime you think you are speaking 'the
truth". Holy shit. Did I once again pick the biggest
battle there is? Here I've been trying to convince
people (okay, and myself) to never accept anything
less than pure joy and not be lured by the promise of
money and that fun doesn't have to be accompanied by
consequence and the whole time they don't want to be
convinced because they've had to train those instincts
out of themselves to get hold of all the money and
power which would also explain The Humour Barrier.
Maybe some people aren't funny because they haven't
had to be. Oh god it was so depressing standing there
in the heat amidst all my peers about to go host the
irony workshop with these awful new revelations
running like ice through my veins.
Worst of all that fucking Alanis Morisette song was
stuck in my head. "Like ray- ee-ain on yer wedding
day.. " etc.
In the end it was fine. Garth had instructed me in
advance to simply say "I'm delighted to be hosting the
irony workshop" so I did.
The other guests seemed pretty sincere.
Well compared to me I guess.

Saw that Final Fantasy kid play in the evening and
holy does he ever have something going on. A SOLO guy
playing the VIOLIN through a LOOP PEDAL??? Give me a
break. But his songs were beautiful and the tent was
crammed and there were people gathered around outside
the tent. Even the back of the tent teaming.
He is so amazing that I saw straight guys lingering
around wondering what he was doing later!
Sarah Harmer headlined the main stage and she was
extra fantastic.
And okay, maybe in retrospect, perfecting the flaming
hula hoop trick with Lily during Sarah's quietest song
wasn't the best timing, but holy fuck we were so
excited we simply couldn't wait.
Holy Fuck played too but I missed them.

Hit the beer tent for some formula but pacing still
had to be implemented as they were paying us extry to
play the party at the end of the night. Sort of
thought there might have been a P.A. Also, we had only
said yes on the condition that there would be a ride
for us when we finished but at the end it was like
Saigon trying to get out of there. Plus everyone was
running out of smokes so it was Very Dire for a while
with those In The Know declaring to the darkness that
if we ever made it out they were going to have A Talk
With Sam the next day.

The Sunday
Loafed around, enjoying the fleeting hotel room luxury
and the brief respite from the heat and action.
Took a trip into town for some health food (Funny. It
was this place where nothing was cooked but it took
fucking forever- like they were all fucked up on
health or something) before heading to the site. Took
a cab.
A couple of sips of a.m. ale and then en route to the
swimming hole where I was stopped dead in my tracks by
This Voice. The Voice was accompanied by shit-hot
guitar playing and pedal steel and wicked drums. The
owner of The Voice was a black haired girl with red
lips and matching Converse in a black summer cocktail
dress with hickeys all over her back, presumably from
the guitarist (he seemed about the right height to
have been the artist) who smoked while he sang
Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles was the name of
the act. From The States. Man was she good. None of
that ladyfake shyness. Just The Real Deal and what a
voice! And Balls to the Wall music and that I've
never heard of her and that she was The Real Deal was
spiritually as good as a swim right then. I was soon
surrounded by all the other ladies that hearkened to
her siren call and we made up dance moves at the side
of the stage.
When it was over, all us Westerners floated out to the
middle of the lake and The Lone Yukoner swam out to
meet us because we know what time it is and where the
good times are at goddamn it! We even felt a little
bit bad for Ontario because everybody else was still
gonna have to live here when were were done with it!
Watched C'mon play to an adoring audience. Halfway
through the second song I saw a pair of orange
Converse go by horizontally, still attached to their
legs and thought, "Ah Tolan's started the stage diving
then has he? Good man. Good man"
But the admiration soon turned to dread at the
prospect of how drunk he was gonna be later.
Had a stroke of luck. Stopped to talk to The Snake and
Sean Dean from The Sadies and while we chatted a line
formed behind us and the clock struck five which meant
we were first in line for dinner! This never happens
and food had been kind of scarce so we were pretty
Confronted with our new found luck, someone had to be
worried and for once it wasn't me.
"Uh it probably isn't considered very 'rock'n'roll' to
line up for food is it?" Sean ventured looking behind
We decided that it's a hell of a lot more
'rock'n'roll' to find yourself at the front of the
line-up without even trying than stuck at the back.
Also if everything you did was rock'n'roll you'd
probably be dead because that's the most rock'n'roll
thing of all so if you want to continue rocking and
rolling, you should probably eat every once in a

I headed to The Sun Stage for The New World Disorder
workshop. It was the last chore before unfettered
freedom and the sun was finally going down. The host
was a CBC guy who I've met before and like but after I
played my "You're Not a Whore if No One's Paying"
song, he said "I guess in the future there's no
shame!" and did all these double takes to the audience
and waggled his eyebrows like what I was throwing down
was too risque to be associated with and it made me so
mad to be that misunderstood and dismissed.
I said, "No! Maybe in the future there's no MONEY!"
But by then my turn was over and it was his and he
sang some "George Bush is a jerk" song he had just
written. Sigh. Fuck.
Ran into my friends Kate and Tara who were camping in
style. They took my picture a whole bunch on the way
back to their tent and said I was beautiful but they
were on Ecstasy and it is they who are beautiful.

Got drunk, watched Feist, saw Christine Fellows' most
beautiful show ever and stayed up late with criminals.
Have decided there's only two ways you can wake up:
wrapped in pride or covered in respect.
Went for the former but the blanket's getting so
tattered I might soon be tempted by the latter.

The Monday
Kate had been suggesting that I come for a visit the
whole weekend. Even though I should know better than
to ever doubt her, I hemmed and hawed feeling
obligated to The Group. Plus I could sense that Luther
was desperate to get us all out to his cottage on the
lake for the upcoming coupla days off.
Kate pulled up in her Wagoneer with coffees right when
the armada was shipping out and receiving/ignoring the
many instructions. We were all supposed to meet up at
some gas station a couple of hours up the 401 but the
one mistake a hostage taker can make is leaving the
hostages unattended as this is when they revert back
to having their own ideas. Once out of Stockholm, the
Syndrome wears off. Diona, Lily and I, spying an
opening, hopped in with Kate and about 20 minutes up
the road we had all started to get the notion that why
shouldn't we get to visit Kate and her dog and her
horses and opulence? I mean what the fuck we could go
to Luther's the NEXT day and how pissed could everyone
be since it was a day off and all etc.
But how to leave word so no one would be left waiting
for us?
Ah. The delightfully passive aggressive text message
feature offered to us by these modern times for such
occasions could be implemented and word could be sent
with limited consequences.
Think of the savings!
So with one flick of the wrist:
"Go on w/o us.
going to Kate's for the night.
C U 2morrow
xo us"
was sent into outer space and we were free!
"You had this planned all along!" I said to Kate.
She told me to reach into her purse and look in her
day timer under Monday. There in ink with no question
mark after it was my name.
A few minutes later Diona's phone rang. It was Jenny
saying "You fuckers are leaving me alone with all the
dudes tonight?" Ah shit. If anyone could handle it it
was her and it was only for one night.
We hit the ranch mid afternoon after stopping at the
grocery store and the farmer's market and the hooch
hut with lofty dinner plans on our minds.
Mojo the pointy headed dog met us in the yard as we
unloaded the Jeep. Fuck it was hot. Kate suggested
that we walk up the road for a swim in Greg's pool.
Greg Keelor. From Blue Rodeo. They're neighbours.
Awesome guy. Let me record a song at his house once.
Now because of the fashion in which we had abandoned
ship, we were left without fashions. Kate pulled out a
surprising array of bikini options but she is a
supermodel and I am, well, two supermodels. Found
something possibly intended for yoga that covered both
fur and flesh and headed down the road.
Lily had found a bright orange two piece to match her
flaming hair and placed a tiger lily behind each ear
to complete the ensemble.
Once we were in the pool we noticed that the deer girl
was completely covered in pollen. Then the bees
swarmed. We could hardly drown out her screams even
when we put our heads under water but the thing to
remember here is that if it is your goal to constantly
be the centre of attention, you don't necessarily get
to control the KIND of attention you'll attract.
Diona was in blue afloat an inflatable spiderman
donut, drinking a caesar and smoking, looking like an
ad for neglectful parents.
Except for the deer flies (hurts like a motherfucker
when they bite and the bastards can swim!) and the
young man with the weed eater, it was most relaxing.
Headed back to the house when it got a little cooler
to start on the dinner and mint juleps.
Ate al fresco joined by Greg and Kate's parents, Lord
and Lady B..
Candle sticks and plates laden with food overlooking
the darkening valley. It looked like a gourmet
magazine or the set of a Peter Greenaway film!
Wonder where the poor folks are at tonight?
When the eating slowed down and it was back to the
drinking, Kate's father seized his opportunity to
grill his guests. He enjoys nothing better. He's
written several books on how well he knows people but
mostly he asks questions so he can tell you The Real
He leaned back in his chair and said, "What is it you
like best about what you do?" I could feel it coming.
I've been here before so I know about this part. I
watched Kate and her mother exchange long eye rolls
and sigh.
"Uh Mr. B, as grateful as I am to be enjoying your
hospitality, it's like the MONDAY after a festival and
we're all a little depleted so if you start asking us
about that stuff now, we'll probably end up crying and
switching professions", I said tearing up.
I could see Keelor stifling a smirk.
He turned to Diona who was, as ever, more prepared.
"The travelling" she said without even a pause to
consider all the other things.
"And what is you you dislike the most?"
"The waiting".
"Excellent answers. Marvellous."
I felt like a failure. I needed to win back the table.

"So what is it you like about staying in one place
best?" I said trying to beat him at his own game.
"Well.... (huge pause).... you can't really just pick
one thing and say what's best ....."
"Well I just think if YOU'RE allowed to ask a 'what do
you like best' question than so am I..."
"All right. My wife. Now ask me what's my least
favourite thing!"
"All right. Shoot"
"My wife."
Ho HO!
There's something about dining with peoples' parents
that makes all us travelling rock stars act like we
are about seven.
Look at me Dad! I got an A!
I think when you are tired and exposed to opulence it
makes you want to rethink all your decisions which
makes you defensive.
Retreated back to Kate's teenager suite over the
garage where we smoked hash and played guitar man! I
love her. She is one of those rare souls who know
they're lucky, don't feel guilty about it and wanna
share it.

The Tuesday
Woke up quite puffy from all the everything but not as
bad as Lily. Man, when we were eating dinner outside,
those mosquitos ate the shit out of her ass through
the slats in her chair. Holy shit. Wow. It's usually
Slunk into the main kitchen in hopes of discovering an
unattended coffee pot but alas, Lord B. had beaten me
there and was manning the espresso maker. I really
didn't want to face him without coffee. But it was,
after all, his castle so I waited with him for the
precious nectar.
We had yet to figure out how we were going to hook up
with the Mother Ship. There had been talk of buses
and/or trains and whatnot the night before.
Lord B, anxious to be rid of the hobo element, asked
if we had figured out a plan yet. I said no but that
after I had some coffee I was going to look into it.
Then he got me with a double zinger.
He said, "Well why don't you just rent a car? You're
too old for public transit!"
I said it was sort of a money issue and then he
reloaded and said, "Well poverty's a sin you know."
Luckily Diona entered right when I had to stick my
head in the fridge, under the pretext of finding
cream, to muffle the primal screams that lurked in my
throat. Mercifully, she was able to distract him until
the coffee was ready.
Kate had risen early and gone to work. She worked at a
restaurant we all loved in Port Hope called Zest. She
suggested we go down to Greg's for a swim and ask him
for a ride into town.
I hoped Lord B didn't think I was too old for that
Of course Greg said he would give us a ride to town-
and in a Golden Cadillac to boot!
On the way there he asked us if we had all our stuff.
We told him we had no stuff and explained the
conditions surrounding our escape. "Oh so you're part
of a bigger thing..."
Then he said he'd give us a ride the whole way to
Luther's once Kate got off work and they'd stay for a
swim. "Better to be moving in heat like this anyway.."

Three heads nodded vigorously in the back seat. We
couldn't have agreed more.
We were all thinking, "You mean we get to pull up in
front of Luther's in a golden Cadillac driven by you
after a night like that and it won't even hurt?" and
marvelling at our luck.
We got to eat peaches and listen to Greg's new record
and take a cute ferry and everything. Luther called
Diona with the directions and we patched him through
to our 'chauffeur' grinning devilishly.

Summer 2006 - Part 4: 'Womyn' Behind Blue Skies

Blue Skies Festival-Clarendon, Ontario
Middle of second day. about to die of exposure. Poison
ivy, mosquitos, the beating sun. Diona and I realized
that we were running out of smokes and if we ever
wanted to find a ride outta there, we better run back
to the farm and gather our stuff for maximum ease the
next day. Jenny was into it cause she had a bottle of
wine back there she wanted fetched and supplies were
running low and of course everyone wanted smokes. We
got to take Harmer's fancy new hybrid car,"The Prius",
down the back country roads marvelling how every day
found us in a different car. The light was perfect,
religious almost, when we pulled up to the farm. We
pulled down the clothes we'd left to dry a couple of
days before off the line and just for a second we got
to feel like it was all ours and it was heart
stoppingly perfect.
"Hey! we're living the fantasy while living the
"Our" new car! "Our" farmhouse! AND, as if placed by a
set decorator, just enough wine lingered in a bottle
on the porch beside two cigarettes.
"Oh my god! Are we in a play?!"
A Perfect Gorgeous Stolen Moment that defied space,
time and logic. It smelled like flowers and sunset and
forgiveness. We had found the calm in the eye of the
Of course you have to pay back every stolen moment
with interest, so as our shadows grew longer, we
grabbed the supplies and peeled back to the festival
with moments to spare before show time. We got held up
by the time gobblers directing traffic to the site.
They thwarted our plans to park in front the the
handicapped outhouse and made us relocate to the upper
lot. Whatever. I had taken some of the stolen time to
change into my show outfit and write the set list so
if my guitar was still by the garbage can where I left
it after the workshop, we should be golden.
It was. It was that kind of festival. I mean our tents
had New Sleeping Bags in them and were set up for us
before we got there! And it wasn't on a swamp and the
food was good and the people were nice. It's the
details I guess that get smoothed out after thirty
years of doing something.
Even the wristbands were cool. They were woven thread
affairs with pretty blue beads instead of the usual
crappy plastic thingies.

We played both nights but the second show was better
since we were all acclimatized and get this: the hula
hoops I'd left at the last festival were backstage at
this festival giving the illusion that backstage is
the only constant, which it kind of is for us show
folk. After my bit, I came off stage and told Jenny
that I was worried that we were too loud as I'd seen
some people covering their ears. She said "Oh never
look at the audience." as she poured wine from her
Wow. Never?
I was learning so much.
Speaking of covered body parts, somewhere on this tour
someone ("It was ME!", says Hank.) had told us about
how polar bears, when they want to be alone, simply
cover their nose with a paw because it's the only
thing on them that's black eh? and they live in the
snow eh? So a few of us had adopted the gesture as
shorthand for wanting to be alone. I have no idea if
it's true about the polar bears, but it's a hell of a
story. Ask Kyle man. ask fucking Kyle!
The show ran smoothly and everyone sounded great.
Safest place for all of us to be is on stage. There
are too many variables and temptations in real life
for this many people to stay focused on The Common
Goal. Plus it's the only place on earth you're
actually expected to follow your instincts and
encouraged to be your unedited self.
We asked the emcee/clown to announce that some of us
needed a ride to Toronto in the morning and within
moments we were set up. Dan, who plays with Romy Maze
and is the former president of the Ontario Trucker's
Union and an all around Awesome Dude, said he could
take Me and Diona and a beautiful woman came for Hank
and Lily.
Partied like it was 1999 back at camp and I got so
stoned I couldn't move even though the mosquitos and
poison oak were doing a number on my feet. Diona woke
up because I was moaning so loudly without knowing it
and suggested I go to bed. And once the blood left my
feet I slept hard, thankful that the whole ride thing
had been sorted.
In the morning, we loaded up our stuff into Dan's van,
had one last breakfast, settled up at the merchandise
tent, said goodbye to everyone and hit the fucking
Blue Skies is a beautiful festival and I'm glad they
had us even though I fear our crew and The De-Rangers
might have made people wanna rename it The Booze Skies
No brakes until The Fifth Wheel. Dan was thrilled that
we wanted to stop at a truck stop. Said none of his
other bands ever wanted to.
Dan took us to the Toronto airport and I went in to
rent a car. Aunt Flow had come to visit on top of all
the mosquito bites so there was no blood left to run
my brain. A beautiful girl with hair extensions and
golden green contacts set me up and because of her
contacts and persuasive ways I ticked the insurance
waiver which made it cost more but since we were
already lying about Not Leaving The Province of
Ontario, I thought of Dallas Good's mother and how she
told him never to break two laws at one time.
"Only one driver?"
I could hear Geoff Berner delivering his speech about
"pot odds" and how they can never be beaten but
switched stations before the dashboard-pounding
Finally got out of there, without actually channelling
everybody I've ever met, in a sparkling blue Sebring
"Touring". The car was actually called a "Touring".
As we approached the border, Diona and I made a pact
to wear seat belts and not to speed, figuring the last
thing we wanted to attract in our semi- stolen car
would be American fuzz.
The plan was to just head "somewhere in Michigan" and
spend the night. We were going to visit my brother the
next day who lives in the "third finger of the mitt"
or something. I don't know. We hadn't got a map yet
but Michigan people are all about The Mitt.
And sure I've seen the movie Roger and Me but somehow
we ended up in Flint looking for one of those big
American grocery stores to get hotel pic-a-nic fixins.
Instead we found an endless ghetto strip with only
signs for Jesus and chicken and Jesus and ribs and
Jesus chicken and Jesus ribs. I got kind of freaked
out. Diona wanted to pull over and ask somebody for
directions and I was all like "You'll do nothing of
the sort young lady now lock your window!" which I am
never like but it was really freaky. Or I was just out
of my mind.
She got out at a corner store with bars on the windows
and asked this huge black guy wearing giant pants and
a huge gold medallion. (I know any black guy in any
story is always "HUGE" but I tell you this dude really
was HUGE! )
I couldn't hear what he said because I had the windows
rolled up so tight they were about to go through the
roof but he was making pointing gestures up the street
and then when D. turned to come back to the car, even
though he was making a real effort not to, I saw him
cast his eyes downward and check out her ass.

We went up a main-ish road in the direction he had
pointed and found a giant American grocery store.
When we got to the check-out, there were two options:
You could either go to a til with a person or use the
automated check-out. Since we didn't see any people we
went for the machine.
Now the machine's fine if all your stuff has a
bar-code on it, but at the end we had two tomatoes and
cucumber we didn't know what to do with so we just
threw them in the bag and hit the parking lot, our
little Canadian hearts racing as we got in our illegal
car and got the rock outta there. Diona was driving
and did a magnificent shit-hook to get us back to the
interstate. When the terror subsided into pure
adrenaline, we started laughing like crazy.
"Oh my God! Can you just see the headlines? 2 Canadian
girls of dubious orientation at large, last seen in a
stolen car peeling out of a Michigan ghetto grocery
store, doing a U-turn in possession of a stolen
That's like six broken laws! Do they cancel each other
out after a while? Holy Shit. Cross one border and it
all goes to hell!
Somehow we found a hotel and checked in using cash and
a fake name (M. Simpson 2541 Evergreen Terrace,
Springfield USA, if you must know)
I was bleeding so hard I knew I was gonna leave some
sort of crime scene worthy of calling in the dude from
CSI so I didn't want to leave my real name. Also I had
plans to dye my hair which is also never makes for
pretty leavings. Sorry towels. Maybe one day you'll
need to wipe yourselves on me!

* * *

Got to my brother's in the early afternoon. It was
closer than I thought. We had gotten a large scale map
so it took like twenty minutes to drive like five
Hung out with the calves and the cats and the dog
until Nancy and Baby Petra came home from town. After
dinner everybody passed out on the living room floor.
Guess we were saving the fire for the next night.

* * *

Went to the Kent County Fair to see Nancy's twin
nieces participate in the goat obstacle course! Say
what you will but it's hell of a good time! Some of
the goats were more willing than others. Same with the
Rode the zipper, ate gigantic onion rings and fell in
love with a pair of blue-eyed paint horses. Saw
earless goats and fainting goats and those chickens
with the crazy hairdo's. The twin nieces are really
sweet and eerily smart. Perhaps it's the home
schooling... They kept bringing us different animals
to hold. Saw this one horse that had a sign on his pen
that said, "Don't pet me. I bite." Thought about
making my own sign.
Stopped at a U-pick blueberry place on the way home
for the full Michigan experience. Diona picked 25
cents more berries than me. God if we were migrant
workers she'd totally get picked first!
Got to have a big fire after dinner and my brother lit
off fireworks and he and I outlasted everybody and got
drunk together for the first time.

* * *

Early Morning. Good bye to the family. Good bye to the
farm. Back in the Touring. The radio was still on when
D. flipped the ignition. Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like
a Lady" came blasting through the speakers. The
imminent reality of our destination-The Michigan
Womyns Festival- hit us with the first chorus and we
started laughing really hard.
Also I was still drunk from staying up with my
Turns out that the official song of the Michigan
Womyns Festival is more like "Lady Looks Like a Dude".

But I'm jumping ahead.
Nancy had printed off a map of Michigan back roads for
us and we tried pretty much all of them before finding
the right one. A long dirt road into the trees. Okay
deep breath. Why was this freaking me out so much? I
guess segregated events in general make me
uncomfortable. I'd heard that if anyone brought a boy
baby they'd be put in a separate pen and that The
Transgendered were protesting with their own party
just outside the gates, contentious of the 'no dick'
We pulled up and two security ladies in vests started
radioing frantically for a shuttle. We had cut it a
little close and the Po'Girls were allegedly freakin'.
We got in a van with some other people. Well, Dames.
Women. Womyn?
The driver had bleach blonde hair and some facial
piercings and seemed really funny and friendly. A
black chick from New York riding shotgun started
quizzing Diona on the sexual preferences of Po'Girl
and told us that when she was On Broadway they were
fined $75 if they were late for rehearsal and then she
reached back to clutch the hand of the big lady in the
back seat in case we got any ideas.
I was staring out the window trying to ignore the
black chick because she was humourless and I wanted to
punch her in the throat, which I realize is also not
funny, but one must fight fire with fire.
Also, I was crossing the border from Still Drunk to
As we wound into the heart of The Land, we passed by a
bezillion womyns. It was boiling hot and the grass was
all brown and beaten down. Without the prying eye of
the Evil Mens to worry about, most of the womyn were
walking around topless.
Erase the porn fantasy you just created for yourself
when you read that last sentence because the song
"Saginaw Michigan' kept popping into my head. It was
titty city out there and it wasn't pretty.
One tit. Two tits. Red tits. No tits.
Even saw Rodney Dangerfield With Tits walk by on our
way to the stage.
When we got there, The Po'girls weren't as freakin' as
we've been led to believe. Or they were hiding it. Or
they calmed down once they saw the whites of Diona's
It's good to see them. We've spent so much time
together this year that reuniting always feels good.
The ladies took the stage. The sound man was a lady
and the stage crew were all ladies but most of them
had moustaches and cargo shorts so it didn't really
feel any different than usual.
A woman with dreadlocks and pretty cool clothes named
Bitch is the M.C. and she exudes confidence. I liked
her. She addressed the audience as "You gays" and tap
danced while reciting poetry. Apparently she is one
half of a duo called Bitch and Animal.
The sound was kind of weird at first but they figured
it all out while I watched from the audience. The
addition of a signer for the deaf to the right of the
stage added an interesting element.
It was boiling hot and the sun was beating down
Beside me Chris Cooper With Tits (and a really nice
ass)sunbathed on a towel.
The girls asked me to come up and sing with them and
thank god. If I would have stayed in the sun any
longer I would have melted my brain. The stage was
covered so there was some shade.
I can see why people wanted to know if The Po'Girls
were gay. They were the hottest things around for
I was sitting on a bench side stage. Bitch came
running up and grabbed her clipboard off a tree stump
as the set ended.
The middle aged woman beside me laughed and said
"Bitch is always running around."

I met the ladies backstage when they finished and
spied Jane Siberry walking by in a shawl accompanied
by a handler.
Apparently she has changed her name to Issa and given
up all her possessions. Yeah. So now she's like a
"musician" I guess.
My Brother With Tits and Sook Yin Previn With Tits
walked by holding hands.
I was thinking that we were gonna leave right away but
the girls wanted to stay for dinner. Fine. It was
boiling and I was grumpy so Diona took me for a walk.
There was some cool stuff in the vending area and I
ducked into the bookstore for a minute and oh the
titles! There was a book for everything! I was
thumbing through a copy of something called "I'm
Happily Married But in Love With My Friend" when Diona
snuck up behind me. I jumped like fifty feet and threw
the book behind a shelf lest she get any ideas. I
grabbed something else to replace it but the book I
grabbed was some hardcore erotica and I totally felt
as awkward and uptight as Don Knotts. I'm no prude-
well it depends who you ask I guess- but it disturbed
me that there was a book for everything.
It is equally as vexing as it is comforting to
discover that you are not alone.
Diona found a hammock in the shade and we got in and
she was like "There's no way you can bitch now" and I
was like "Oh yeah? Watch me".
It had been a full moon the night before so maybe
every bitch here was bleeding. This was not something
I enjoyed thinking about either.
A horn sounded and "The Bull Dyke Parade" wound it's
way past us.
Sailors and Hobos and Teamsters Oh my!
We spent the next hour perusing the programme and
checking out chicks.
Me: Hey do you think she's hot?
Dee: Nah. She looks like one of those dogs who ran
face first into a wall.
Me: Woah that's meaner than any dude.
Dee: Yeah well they think it. I get to say it.

The programme is distressing. All the workshops and
events are so specific and compartmental.
The Sweat Lodge for Native Recovering Alcoholics
Who've Been Abused.
The Beginning Strap-On Workshop.
The Chem-Free Zone. The Scent-Free Zone.
The Quiet Camping Area. Where to stand while watching
the music. Yeah if women ran the world it would be
like this. I found all this to be far more oppressive
that the 'real world'. It's like the reverse of what
they're rebelling against but it's really just the
same, maybe even worse.
I couldn't really put it into words what was bothering
me at the time. I was just mad like an animal and
mostly just lay there flushed and fanning myself in my
little gingham dress moaning, "I just wish it was The
Fifties!" over and over again which I'm sure made me a
real treat to hang out with.
It was all the compartments. Reminded me of the first
time I went to San Francisco and read the personal
"Submissive top seeks M2F for fisting, rimming and
water sports. No weirdos".
Just how do you know what you are and what you'll want
in advance? Can people do that?
And how do you pick? Aren't you afraid that by
choosing you'll rule out other potential options you
haven't even thought about?
I've always had this problem. I just wrote a song
about it. I can never pick one thing.
Like I said, it was just undefined low level rage back
in the hammock but Ali Riley of Vulcan later lent me
a book and there was this comforting passage that put
my feelings into words:

"Definitions are prisons. Divisions are useful only on
the level of great populations not on a personal
level...I am nothing and I am something ... and what
this is I'll never know and if I ever tell you I know,
shake me, shake me hard, for the finality of self
naming is as dull as death."

Nelly Reifler

Fuck yeah!

Also consoling was renting the Sarah Silverman movie
where she says, " I don't want people to think of me
as straight, or gay or whatever. I just want them to
think of me as white!"

But I didn't know all that then and I was hungover and
it was boiling. Let's go back:

We entered a big tent structure filled with long
tables and chairs in search of snacks. A smallish
faux-hawked creature looked up from her notepad and
said "How do you spell deviant?" addressing nobody in
We sat for a while but we had to flee when the people
a couple of rows over started talking about Po'Girl's
set, unaware of our proximity. It was positive but
it's always weird to hear people talking about you
when you're right there.
Diona and I had promised in advance to be each others
beards for the duration of the festival but nature
called and I had to hit the outhouse. I left her alone
for maybe four minutes and when I came back she was
surrounded. Womyn use a different technique to hit on
you than men. They smother you with care. One was
offering to apply sunscreen. Another wanted to know
where she got her shirt. Another felt her forehead to
see if she was feverish. She spied me and we bolted.
"Your powers are mighty grasshopper."
"Get me the fuck out of here!"
Finally the dinner hour arrived. And holy fuck was the
food good. There are some advantages to having women
run the show. Also it should be noted that the
outhouses were spotless and smelled good. Like they
didn't just smell good by outhouse standards, they
smelt good for any room in the house! Oh and of course
they are called "Janes" instead of "Johns".
Take back the night sisters!
We ate dinner with the Fruit girls and we started
telling jokes. To my amazement the redheaded one told
us this one:
"Guy comes home late after the bar holding a duck
under one arm. Careens up the stairs and whips open
the bedroom door where his wife is sleeping and says,
"This is the pig I've been fucking."
The wife wakes up and switches on the lamp and says
"Oh darling you're drunk. That's a duck."
And the man says, "I was talking to the duck!"
Surprise filth always impresses me.
I pulled out my showstopper I got from Tolan:
Father and daughter. Daughter wants to borrow the car.
Father says "Okay but you have to suck my dick."
She starts and then says, "Dad, your dick tastes like
And the Dad says, "Oh that's right. Your brother has
the car tonight."
They didn't get it. Might be a bit cerebral for some
I was so hungry I went back for more food but it
started to taste weird. I looked down and realized
that I was eating my plate! The juices from the
curried veggies had dissolved the paper and I had
eaten my way through to the table.
So long bitches, time to go.
Turns out the Time Gobbler is equal opportunity all
the way. We had to wait for a shuttle to take us back
to the car and they kept forgetting us. Hung out with
these girls wearing eyeliner and black jeans from a
band called Lez Zeppelin who seemed really cool and
then finally wove through the trees and got to the car
only Awna forgot her bass so she had to go back yadda
yadda yadda and then load up everyone and hit the
fucking road!
Drove and drove and drove and no troubles at the
border. Ended up in a hotel room in London, Ontario
and we were all so tired, we fell asleep in our
clothes without even cracking the wine.