Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Always A Bridesmaid Tour - Part 1

Renewing My Vows With Western Canada

"Where you've been is good and gone, all you keep is the getting there."

The mission this time? The Always a Bridesmaid Tour: A multiple destination choose-your-own-adventure odessey with a budget of 1 point 2 hundred dollars and a cast of thousands.

Day 1

"Slow Down Andrew!"

Left Vancouver at 3pm. A three vehicle convoy. Hank and Lily with Emma Crow in "Freedom" ('91 maroon Dodge Aerostar minivan), Me, Baby Honey and Mandrew in The Honey Wagon ('91 blue Camry sedan) and Tolan, Hoff, Goose and Clay allegedly en route in the latest addition to the armada, "Gwynneth Paltrow" (1980 white Dodge short box van with a slant 6 engine). When The Goose's father caught wind of our travel plans he said, "What's the van for? All the money you're gonna make?"
We bought walkie talkies so the fleet could stay in contact but they were crap. Had lofty and noble plans of camping that night somewhere in the Okanagan but could find no site devoid of family oriented Christian RV enthusiasts. Amy had the CAA camping guide to Western Canada but I think we need something a little more off the grid. Maybe "The B.C. Pirate Heathen's Guide to Stealth Partying" would be more like it, but I heard it's out of print.
The bumper sticker on Tolan's new van says "Habitat is the key to wildlife". The 'key' isn't the word 'key', it's a picture of a key. I kept thinking about it as we searched for a place to stay.
Suckered in by a pleasing font, we ended up getting rooms at The Spanish Fiesta in Osoyoos. The rooms were stuffy, tiny, and expensive, but, most importantly, it had beach access and there was nobody around. We tried to radio Hank and Lily but could only hear crackling. Had my back turned to the road and was shouting, "We're at the Mohawk!" loudly as they drove by. Caught their attention with my actual voice rather than the walkie talkie. Phoned Tolan. They were still near Abottsford. Gwyneth had been overheating and they'd hit rush hour and all the things.Gave him our co-ordinates: "What's it called? The Skiddish Fiasco?" Pretty much.
Played guitar on the beach until it started thundering and we all thought about how glad we were not to be camping.
Wonder if they found the murderer. There was a roadblock on the highway. Cops were stopping everyone. Border's near by.

Day 2
The Royal - Nelson, BC

"If I Was Miserable I Wouldn't Care Where I Was or How Much They Were Paying Me."

7a.m. wake-up. Strolling. Warm wind. Religious tractvista. This is my spiritual home.
Got picked up by Mandrew on the way to the T-Ho. Parking lot hulahooping and badminton. Breakfast at the ABC Country restaurant. Amy ran into her uncle the undercover cop. Guess we blew his cover by asking if they'd found the guy yet or what. He looked at Clay for a while and asked how well we knew him. I was thinking the same thing.
All day drive to Nelson. Kind of foggy. Osa Negro coffee and some thrifting and then rescued by The Bearded Ladies who totally took care of us. Balmy sexy valley mist all day and then surprise sun at the end. This is P.O.T. country.
Had an AWESOME show with everyone in fabulous spooky bridesmaid outfits. Dancing, hooping, badminton. A long walk with Goose. I wasn't bored once. Momentum, man!
I am so fucking happy to be back in Western Canada. It doesn't hurt at all to be here.

Day 3
Little Slocan Valley Lodge

"Since there was no one around to react to I just dealt."

I think I figured out why it's better to play in smaller communities. Firstly, the last thing a big city needs is more people but out in the boonies they're just so damn happy to see you. Plus, I think in the city you just get overstimulated into docile submission. I guess London's still on my mind. By the end I was going around asking everybody "So, like, are you guys happy?" which doesn't really jive with that whole stiff upper lip thing they got going on over there, and, since we all know deviants die, it was like by even talking to me they'd be marked by association. They're just too taxed from Survival to get enthused, instantly exhausted by the old "But if enough deviants got together..." spiel I occasionally trot out when the wine hits and I momentarily forget that people were never meant to be brought together. When you're tired any idea just seems like potential work.
Still Eager? Meet Already Resigned. Hilarity ensues.
Got to the Lodge early enough to play badminton and go for walks and hang out. There was a guy there who had bicycled from Calgary. He said he had just ridden four hundred miles to see if anyone needed any help. I'll take that over a fucking text message any day! Makes me happy to know stuff like that still exists!
I was looking for the river when Hank came out of the trees with a funny look on his face.
"If you're intending to swim in the river, you might want to re-think your plans".
He said he went in and was swimming around until the surprise sensation of leeches on the ball bag made him get out. The interesting part to me was that he said since there was no one around to react to, he just dealt with the problem.
All the kittens were lounging or reading or busy so I snuck into the kitchen to make my salad. Ah. Sometimes on tour a lady just needs to be alone in a kitchen so bad she can taste it. If you're away from home long enough you can become nostalgic for things like doing the dishes. I got a glorious twenty minutes in chopping, listening to the sattelite radio before all the other bitches got the same idea.
The troops were all laid out by 8pm but became resuscitated by the power of rock and the freedom of having nothing to lose. The road to sucks ass, as my friend Thomas would say.
Once again, with barely two days notice and without the aid of even a flyer, the people came out of the woodwork to see us play. Pass the hat and that's that. $200 bucks and three joints. Wahoo. In London they would have charged you that much.

Day 4
On the Road to Vulcan: The Convoy Reconvenes

Creston. Retroriginals Funky 60's and 70's Fashions is going out of business. It's the place that was run by the spooky Children of a Lesser Corn kids. Going strictly E-bay. That's where the money is.
Hoff's dog Lolita died.
Five matching marionette hats were purchased.

* * *
Vulcan's farther than you think. Got to Ali's at midnight. I felt bad. I know what it's like to wait for company in the country. While waiting and waiting and waiting for us she had gotten slightly tipsy with the cute new farmer boy from next door. And oh my god, he has a puppy!! The cutest baby heeler named Cash. Yup. After Johnny. Ali and I bonded over our love of hanging out with dogs that already have owners. All the love and none of the responsiblility. Funny, even with the Slocan marijuana coursing through my veins, I didn't think this was at all metaphoric at the time. Now sober in my boiling hot bedroom it seems so obvious.

Day 5

"You Just Can't Take a Bad Picture Here!"

From Ali's driveway, there's two ways you can go. Vulcan or Nanton. Is there a rivalry? You bet. I think I am a Nanton person. It's got antiques and vintage stores, music in the bars and a candy shop and cute lawns and vegetarian soup sometimes. You know. While Vulcan does have a replica of the Starship Enterprise and Spock Days going for it and the vague promise of Counsellor Troi, it just seems much more of a beef dip, draught beer and date rape kind of a place to me. But maybe I only think that because I have already decided that I am a Nanton person. We invited the cute farmer, who is a Vulcan person, to our Nanton show and he said he'd like to come but feared getting stabbed!
Went to town (Nanton of course!) early because we heard our favourite vintage store was closing down. Going strictly E-bay. That's where the money is. We all scored and Dreanne gave us super deals on everything. Amy bought the apron collection. Hank got a new hat. A Smithbuilt! She gave Mandrew the vintage fireworks collection as a reward for his boundless patience. I got some fingerless evening gloves, a new crinoline and some hors d'oevres toothpicks with plastic roses on the the ends all of which remain to this day in Ali's car. I learned something on this trip. Every time I tried to be greedy and spirit something away from The Others to a secret place, I lost it. I'd think, "Well I'll just put that 'there'." But if you are in motion, the 'there' keeps changing. Different cars everyday so nothing is where you left it. Well, it's there but you're gone. I guess it all goes back to the first rule of touring: Don't bring anything you love. Or anything you only have one of.
Hotel lunch. Phoned Lance about the P.A. and to see if he'd play some pedal steel with us. He was coming in the back door with a speaker when I went to see if there had been any word.
"How are you doing?"
"Well... If I would have known I was gonna live this long, I probably would have done things differently."
"Probably not."
Lance is an awesome musician/rancher and our Albertan Spiritual Guide. He makes me want to be a better person. Every time I see him he asks if I wanna come by and work on the farm. At last call I totally want to. I love work. Especially when I'm drinking and it probably won't happen. Or, you know, when it's done. He played in Jr. Gone Wild, the band that made me want to be in a band. So I love it when he plays with me because I get to sound like my favourite band!
I loved our show. Taxidermy and oil dudes were a perfect backdrop for what we were serving up. The myth about the Nanton bar is that the cat sleeps in the popcorn machine. Quizzed the owner. He denied. Dreanne showed up at the end of the night with a garbage bag of wigs, vampire teeth, manequin arms, and graduation robes. Something for everyone! The set went well except I was standing directly in front of Tolan's amp. Started to complain before I remembered the thing about how sound travels to the densest thing in the room.
At the end the owner and a couple of drunk dudes said, "You guys are having way too much fun up there." Not sure if it was meant as a compliment and in retrospect maybe the three song curtain call elaborate encore holding hands deep bow finale was a little excessive for Sunday night but it's too funny to resist. Ten people traveling around in full costume singing their hearts out. It's so obviously not about money I think we deserve that bow. They already think we're crazy. We've got nothing to lose!
Met a dude who left Newcastle forty years ago. We toasted to the majesty and splendor that is Western Canada. Overheard guy at the bar on the way out: "She was a wonderful mother but she wouldn't have sex with me after that." The cute farmer came to the show and nobody tried to stab him. Not even once.
Full moon car ride home. Wondered if Cash was the rebirth of Lolita and if the death of the vintage store heralds the birth of learning to sew.
Tolan: Why are you so busy collecting up more stuff when the ship is going down?
Amy: Because it's FUN.

Day 6

"Oh there's never enough time do anything."

Time's slow here because there's nothing in the way. No mountains, no gigs, no money, no chores, no nothing. We need it to feel the difference.
Tolan's last words at the end of the night were, "Well thank you for SEMI-orchestrating this." It's funny to see him stressed out. It's like he just woke up or something. It used to be me. Guess it's all kind of highlighted by the advent of the same old Dodge all these years later on the same road. I passed the stress baton and it feels good.
Most everyone left for Nanton or Vulcan for oil changes and vegetables. Hank was reading comics to the puppy, Clay was checking his email. Emma was smoking pot and reading science fiction. I went for a walk over the lone prairie which activated all the nesting mosquitos. Walked for miles but since I could see the house the whole time it didn't feel very satisfying. Thought about that prairie joke. The one about how you can watch your dog run away for three days. Had a nice long chat with a red-winged blackbird on the way home. Did some reading on the front stoop using smoking as insect repellent.
Wondered if we were getting on Ali's nerves. She is a total neat freak Virgo and we had exploded all over her house. Bodies, bedrolls, Louis XIV wigs, rubber ears and empties covered every inch of floorspace. Ah well, nothing's permanent. Soon we'd be but a memory...
We were stealing farmer boy's bar-b-cue right when he pulled into the driveway. Everyone had come home with food and we prepared a giant feast. Bar-b-cued corn on the cob with lime and Jamaican spices. Mmmmm. Lance and Toby came over with steaks they grew themselves. All the carnivores said it was the best meat they'd ever tasted.
FINALLY figured out The Golden Rule: If you find yourself complaining, shut up. Better yet, go to bed!

Day 7
Palomino Club - Calgary, AB

"It's only a problem when you want to stop."

O Calgary! Damn you and your mystifying grid system! Never once made it in and out of there without crying. Not once.
Palomino Club is awesome. Bar-b-cue joint upstairs with proper venue downstairs. Was worried because I didn't see any posters and they said the promoter girl was sick which is never a good sign but in the end she showed up and did the door herself and people came and we had a nice rock'n'roll show. Amy ruled. Clay was awesome. Hank and Lily too. Goose, Tolan, Lance and Dianne are the best band ever!
Low pressure and ladies pains. All the forces of nature. Got lost on the way back to the venue. Started bawling and wished that there was some sort of Clint Eastwood pill that ladies could take when they get crazy.
Received a much needed cash infusion to keep the organization afloat. Biblical rains and thunder when the show was over but there was Magical Joe waiting in his giant truck to take us all back to Dianne's. She was in a mood to celebrate as she had just gotten back from touring Australia to discover that her girlfriend had just relieved her of all her savings in the name of crack and gambling. I rode in the back out in the rain taking sips of The Goose's beer. Amy gave us the eye for having open booze in the back of the truck as we cruised by the strip with all the bars getting out wooh-ing loudly but it's so easy for the inside dry people to look down on the less fortunate. Especially when they're just lashing out because it's time for their nightly special.
Party party party. Sleep sleep sleep. Lather rinse repeat.

Day 8
The Black Dog - Edmonton, AB

"Everything's impossible and nothing really matters."

Okay troops. Today's the day we go over the top. Tried to arrange The Meeting Place at the perfect breakfast place on the north side of town but alas it was closed for renovations which foiled everything. We were about to descend into Oilers madness. One of my first tours was during the world series. I remember carrying an amp into some bar and accidently unplugging the television during a crucial moment and how popular I was afterwards. This was an even bigger deal. A hometown team involved in the Stanley Cup Play-offs. Apparently last time they won, there was looting and rioting on Whyte Avenue. We were playing on Whyte Avenue.
Also our group was about to become even larger. J. and Grayson were flying in from Victoria, Sylvia from Nanaimo and Dave, Laura, and Garth were driving up from Regina. I won't even get into the past indiscretions and overlaps that these six had gotten up to over the years (small town, no men, long winters) but suffice it to say that even the tension of an overtime shut out would have nothing on these people. I worried that more people would equal more questions.
Okay. A word about 'leadership'. I never really wanted to be in charge. It was only out of impatience and disgust that I even started. Everyone wants someone to be in charge so badly. It's easy to see why. The whole being raised by parents thing and then school and then more school and then a job with a boss and the benevolent and merciful God that watches out for all of us (if you Believe) or the imaginary camera that follows you around everywhere that you do Norman Fell "are you getting this" takes to when things get too weird (if you're me). But here in the pirate world there's a lot of grey area.
Now some would say that grey is just white that became soiled but I like to think of it as uncharted territory. We are all equally free to stake our claims and create the modern heirarchy, which is based upon the fact that everybody's in charge of their own selves. People don't seem to like this and continually endow whoever's beside them with the power of being incharge. I guess that way when things fuck up there's always someone to blame. I'm sure there's a physics term (Help me out here, Melissa) for when a force gets used to leaning on another force and then it's removed. If you get used to leaning on something and then it is removed, I think you fall with more force than if you just fell over on your own. Because you were leaning, I guess.
Maybe it's like if you work at a bar and they find out that you know how to tap a keg how you always have to be the one to do it. Pretending to be helpless seems to have its rewards. I will help if I can and if I think you need it and obviously if I'm at all hot for you, but if I suspect any kind of faking and that you could do it yourself, you're cut off. Where's my help?
Also certain questions have no answer. Just because I know that we play Nelson on Tuesday doesn't mean that I know if there happens to be a dry cleaners in Driftpile or in which hotel room you may have left your hat or what the gross national product of Abu Dhabi is. I'm not OMNIPOTENT! I just booked a couple of shows. Occasionaly it seems tempting to lie. It's like people would prefer an answer, any answer even if it's wrong, to "I don't know." Whenever I've been asked for directions by strangers in a place I'm not familiar with and I say, "I'm sorry. I don't know", they invariably drive away looking a little pissed off. Sometimes I think that they'd appreciate it more if I were to confidently tell them, "Yes. Follow this road until the next light turn left go for two blocks cross back over the highway until the first stop light can't miss it." The beauty is you know they'd blame themselves when they got lost.
Sometimes I wish I were just a little more evil. Or maybe I'm the worst kind of evil. The no hope kind. This is all there is people! There's nobody in charge! Constant Vigilance is our only saviour! Nobody wants to hear that. Especially when you're preaching to the perverted. I am a viral marketer selling "The Truth". My 'leadership' includes the caveat that there is no one in charge other than your own self ever. I guess not everyone got the memo. Maybe we should have a meeting.
To be fair, I've been on the other side too. I was That Guy on the Po'Girl tour. It's amazing how quickly you let yourself go if you think someone else is in charge. It's like your gut reactions somehow become dulled in the presence of others. Maybe because you get so busy trying not to block anyone else's dreams that you end up looking like a mouth breathing simp. Or something. Or maybe it's like The Paramedic's Code or something. Apparently if you are a paramedic and you start to save someone's life, you are obligated to finish the job. You are allowed to say no but if you START, you are legally not allowed to stop. I sometimes think that men think about sex this way too. "If you start something Lady, you have to finish it!" So maybe the very act of suggesting that we all tour together makes me responsible for everyone. Hmm.
Rule 2: Don't bring anybody you're not prepared to take care of.
Arrived in Edmonton before the actual chaos started. At least six cops on every corner for twenty blocks all the way down Whyte. Destination: Cafe Mosaics for the secret burrito and the tomato soup that's like getting your blood changed. No cops here. I guess if you were the type to loot somewhere after getting all fucked up on hockey, the vegan restaurant might not be at the top of your list.
Went with The Goose to get dressed and found Tolan and Hoff at Guliak's place watching the game. The Oilers won as we were walking to the venue. Honking horns and mad high fiving all the way there and everybody shouting "Goilers!"
The show was madness on wheels but for once the external vista matched exactly how I was feeling inside so for me it had kind of a reverse polarity zen calming effect. I was like, "Good. Now we're all even. Ha!"
I love Edmonton. It was the first town to dig me. I remember the heady moment when The Vinaigrettes sold 12 cassette tapes at The Ratt on our first tour. We felt like stars. You don't forget your first love. Renewed my vows with Western Canada on stage during the set.
Tolan was in a rage at the end of the night. He refused to come with me to our host Craig's house. Said he was going to sleep in the van because he 'knew what was there'.

Day 9

Cafe Mosaic breakfast. Whyte Ave strangely calm. No trace of last night's action. Like a secret party cleaned up before its parents got home. Everybody trickled in to the cafe in various states of zombified disrepair. Now that our posse had expanded, the rides had to be shared even more. I rode with Hank and Lily so J. and Grayson could ride in the back seat of the Honey Wagon. Stopped for supplies, snacks, booze, water, rubber boots, bug spray, digestive enzymes and what-not, and headed north... to the North Country Fair.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Always a Bridesmaid Tour - Part 2

The North Country Fair

"If you load your own wood it warms you twice.
If you blow up your own bed you sleep twice as hard."

Pulled in around 4. Roads kind of muddy. Overcast sky. Checked in and got everyone their passes. Jumped in the Tolan van to help with the gear. Had to take it to The Roxbury stage where we were playing the volunteer party later. We had been to this festival before but not since they moved the site. This one was much bigger and had more of a choose your own adventure feel. Near the abandoned stage there was a fire pit, some trees and no other tents. Looked good to me. Clay worried that it might be 'buggy'. We moved the van and set up the tents when our guffaws abated. The whole festival is held on a swamp so it's pretty 'buggy' everyfuckingwhere you go.
So me, Sylvia, Clay and Goose in tents. Tolan and Hoff in the van. Done. I thought maybe the whole gang would camp together but that would have made consensus impossible. This way we could visit each other. I was feeling like maybe I should go kiss some hands and shake some babies and see how everyone else was fairing so I cut a deal with The Goose. I'd bring back ice if he'd set up my tent.
Found the Honeys first. Near Dave and Laura. J. and Grayson were further in the woods. Garth was somewhere close. They were all like, "Oh. You guys are way over there?" I told them what happened. How we know you're never supposed to buy the first place you look at but Tolan had just fallen in LOVE with the area so we bought! Since I'll probably never own anything it was a pretty fun game.
Almost instantly someone started the bogus rumour that the Roxbury hosted the all night DJ stage and boy were we going to be sorry! Turned out not to be true but it totally kept the property value down and potential neighbours away! Found Lily and Emma out in a field with all the punters. Hank had my wine but had left them to come find me. The girls were cranky and just when they finished setting up their tent, two Eager Volunteers came over and told them that they were in the handicapped area and had to move! I piped up and said that they had to be near the mainstage because they were performers and had elaborate costume changes so the eager volunteers backed off. Plus you'd have to be basically retarded to be a musician in Canada, especially from a financial point of view, which should count for something. But come on! The HANDICAPPED AREA! We were in a fucking swamp!
Walked over with Lily to Camp Tolan. She said she kept spilling her wine as she walked. "You're complaints are my wishes!" I hissed through clenched teeth as I had yet to hook up with Hank. Apparently while I was out hobnobbing, the Roxbury stage emcee, respendent in Tilley hat and satin kimono, had come over to yell at everyone about why we hadn't started playing. So glad to have missed that for once. I guess he was getting hassled by this "Professional Band from The City" itching to get their blues on. Went and smoothed things over. Me and Mr. Kimono made up over some home made apple brandy.
Totally forgot about how North we were and the whole longest day of the year thing. No wonder they were looking for us. It was still daylight but it was like 2 am! I think we were all under the illusion that it was perpetually 9 o'clock. We played and played until dawn until even the most eager volunteers packed it in. It was raining really hard out there so mostly we knew if we stayed on stage we would be covered. Amy smoked some local pot and played two songs at half-speed before Mandrew carted her off to bed.
Oh the mosquitos.

Day 10

"Come for the drizzle. Stay for the malaria!"

Woke up in a tent. Raining outside. Not too bad inside. Kind of nice to lay there listening to the rain on the nylon. Rolled over and touched something soft and wet. Remembered Amy shoving a plate of wet eggs through the zipper at the crack of Christ bless her. A trip to the outhouse, some coffee, a little breakfast and straight into the badminton. It's the only answer in such conditions.
Got ready for our show in Gwynneth's sideview mirror. Hoff and I put on floor length drag-in-the-mud polyester cotillion dresses and blue eyeshadow in honour of the alleged Always a Bridesmaid theme. Got word that they were waiting for an important piece of gear up at the main stage and that the start time would be delayed. Killed time by trying to strum and juggle two ukeleles while hula hooping. We can do it but it ain't pretty. Yet.
The North Country Fair is the perfect way to learn the There's Nobody in Charge zen lesson. I thought it was hilarious. No questions can be answered here.
"What time is the show?"
"When it starts."
"How long do we have?"
"However long we get."
Of course it can kind of ruin you for the way the rest of the world works. But still, it was the perfect practicum to accompany this week's lesson plan. It would have KILLED The Ontarians.
Dozens rejoiced (mostly ourselves) when we eventually played 4 1/2 hours behind schedule. Got cut off before Dave Lang got to play which totally sucks because there is a History of this sort of thing happening which could totally look like it's my fault. Ah, the tender areas always get poked the most.
Wine, rain, mosquitos, Chad Van Gaillen, Noises From the Toolshed boys, Tippy A Gogo freakin', another show in a tent with everybody. We were filthy drunken pirates. Think we scared some folks off but come on how much can we take? I think the mosquito poison coursing through our veins was making us mean. My editor Hank said he approved of the banter so I'll give us a passing grade. Went to see Greyhound Tragedy on the main stage but it was too late. By about nine years.
Back to Camp Tolan where Hoff was trying to talk Our Hero out of putting all the antique fireworks into the fire at once. "Aw baby, there's better ways to hurt yourself."
Clay's tent washed away and he was wondering if he could sleep in mine. I told him I'd even fuck him if he promised to never ask me another question. Stayed up with Tolan until it got light. Stray fireworks exploding in the oil drum every so often.

Day 11

"If you don't come out of there I'm going to roll up this tent with you in it!"

Sylvia had promised to wake me up and here she was. Guess she'd been trying for a while. Had to pack up camp and get to Edmonton in time for the wedding. John Guliak and Christine. And boy were we all looking pretty.

The Wedding

"Everything is not enough and nothing is too much to bear"

This is how they get you. A rented hall filled with family and friends in their Sunday best good smelling with shiny hair, some homemade food, a few humble speeches, the hilarious relatives from Scotland, a portable T.V. at the end of the head table tuned into The Game. I tell you if you find yourself airlifted from Vietnam into this setting exhausted, mosquito bitten to the point of requiring an all-terain razor and about to die of EXPOSURE, settling down starts to seem like a good idea.
I guess every wedding is a cross section of any people anywhere. A powderkeg. Some people are breaking up, some are just getting together, others are a couple years in, the new babies, the older dressed up kids, all the History and who can't sit by whom. And there's something about celebrating someone else's union that tends to amplify your own lack of union. Oh sure I've got the Maintenance Man waiting on me back home but it's not like he'd ever go anywhere with me. Especially not to a wedding. Definitely not his own.
It's funny, even if in real life you don't even believe in the business of alerting the Church and State to your actions, and totally think that weddings are for people who don't get their own show everynight, like I said, when you're tired this shit starts to look real good.
Our country band The Fixin's reunited for the occasion. Never realized before that ALL the songs were the love-gone-wrong drinking-alone-now-that-you've-gone variety which are so nice for a wedding! It was boiling and we were exhausted but it was nice to sing with John again. At the end of the night John thanked me and gave me half a bottle of wine as a 'traveler' for strolling home in the Oilers Idiot Apocolypse.
The Oilers won so people were in a mood to celebrate. "Goilers!" It made me think of SXSW or Calgary at last call or Kilkenny, Ireland. You get this depressing wave of "Ohwow. Those idiots are gonna fuck those other idiots and make more idiots." And then a second even more depressing wave that someone's got to keep the species going and if it was left up to me there'd be just dying herds of smug non-participators roaming around snorting with disaproval at everyone else's joy, which is awful. Are we all one? Should we try to be? I don't know anymore.

Day 13

Heading Home.

Thought long and hard about it and decided to keep my nest in the back of the Honey Wagon. Decided the best thing I could do for everyone was to be happy. I love The Honeys. We have a good time. It's easy. Sure Tolan would miss me but a man is only entitled to one primary caregiver at a time and he had brought The Girlfriend. She and I apparently have different "parenting" styles but that's a whole other wasp's nest. I mean, every woman knows, you don't start the day yelling at your man. You feed him and give him coffee and THEN you yell at him. That way he'll actually hear you!
So I rode with The Honeys and about 50 km's out of Edson the back tire blew. Just as Mandrew was gonna fill it up with his trusty Man Goo we heard a second hissing sound coming from the front of the vehicle and then saw the green smoke. Cracked radiator. Never seen a crack so big. Never actually seen one go on such a 'new' car ('91 Camry). Thing's plastic.
Since it was Alberta, within two seconds all the big dudes in the pick-up trucks with the gas tanks in the back were pulling over to see if we were all right. We borrowed a phone to call CAA and Andrew changed the tire while we waited it out with the black flies. Amy was rolling a spesh when the cop pulled over but he was just checking to see if we were all right. He kind of looked like Dom Delouise. A bear man.
"Hmm. On the bright side, it could be worse. At least it's not raining" said Amy after a while. This would become our mantra for the next few days. After an hour or so, the tow truck came. Luckily he had a bench seat and agreed to take all three of us otherwise one of us would have been left behind on the side of the road. He dropped us in Edson outside the mechanic's but since it was Sunday there was nothing to do but wait until morning.
Found the Odessey Motel. Liked the name because it felt like our journey was reaching Homeric preportions. Sign said "We Sell Sleep". Man said we were really lucky to get a room. Oil crews had booked up everything in town. Got one with a balcony over looking a pile of dirt!
Dinner at Boston Pizza (they have spinach salad) and then stoned hotelivision night. Became obsessed with a Micheal Jackson sensational Behind The Music type tabloid special. Can't quite work out if he's in charge of his own propaganda or not. It's kind of genius.
Been reading loads of Amy's trashy celebrity mags in the car so feel strangely au current on such matters as Bradgelina's African birthing, Britney's struggle with motherhood, Nicole Richie's rocky road to weight gain, etc. The celebs are like dollies for adults. We especially like the "They're Just Like Us!" section.
"They Pump Their Own Gas!"
"They Buy Their Own Smokes!"
"They Beat Their Own Servants!"
Mechanic phoned in the morning. Said it would take "a couple of days" to get the part in from Edmonton. I got out the yellow pages and called around. No one cared except for one guy in Hinton. Rad specialist. Said he could probably fix it. I liked his voice. It didn't sound like he was dead already. Called a second tow truck. Waited in the hotel parking lot for four and a half hours. Apparently Monday is a 'big tow day'. Dude finally showed up but refused to take all three of us so Mandrew had to take the Greyhound. I offered to hitch but they wouldn't let me.
Pulled into Hinton at 4-ish. Rad shop. Small wiry guy. Pony tail. Ball cap. DJ Timewarp t-shirt, bent over giant truck rad with blow torch. Smoking. Didn't want to startle the dude so lurked in the periphery with the tow truck driver until he noticed us. "You made it eh?"
Popped the hood. 'Larry' shook his head muttering the words "plastic" and "Japanese" and something about how some people had recently got fussy about the lead in soldering so the laws changed and it's all fucked now. Said he could get us a new one by morning and put it in for us for way less than the other places. We said yes and went to find another hotel. The Tara Vista. Left a note for Mandrew at the Hinton bus station. And one with Larry in case he didn't see it.
Got beer, wine, hors d'oevres. The Oilers were playing again. Final game of the play-offs. Low pressure system building. Thunder storm broke right when The Oilers lost.
Watched Scary Movie 3 and Scream3. Awesome. There's something about movies in hotel rooms. It's a whole different rating system from real life.
Amy had the quote of the day: We were walking accross the highway to the access road in matching ballet flats on our way to the Hinton bus station to leave the note and she said, "Well sometimes I guess it's more about circumstance than manifestation!"
Amen Sister! Decided that getting somewhere slowly sure beats going nowhere fast.

Day 15

"Wishes do get granted. But it's up to you to notice."

Picked up the car from Larry who said putting the rad in was fun right up until the end. Paid him in cash and thanked him heartily. What a fucking dude! Okay, NOW can we go to the hot tub?

Sun Peaks Resort.

Just outside Kamloops. Our friend Bob lets us stay there if we're passing through. Tolan and his crew had stopped there Sunday, the Hank and Lily contingent the next night. Now it was our turn motherfuckers! I was supposed to be playing at a songwriter's night in Vancouver but I called the hostess to send my regrets as we were still twelve hours away at noon and the thing started at seven.
Drove and drove and drove all day. Stopped for supplies near Barriere and headed up the mountain to our chalet! It was perfect. We could see the thank you notes from the others still on the counter and The Honeys got the honeymoon suite upstairs and I stayed downstairs and there was laundry and the gorgeous mountains surrounding us. Saw a black fox with a white tipped tail near the golf equipment storage barn. Couldn't get the hot tub really hot but maybe our hearts would have exploded if we had.

Day 16

"Think of all you miss by staying
Think of all you miss by leaving."

Got up early and went for a hike up the mountain. Wondered if all the other mountains mocked it for selling out. For being too commercial. Was sitting on a ledge contemplating this when a deer flew up and almost landed on me. Guess he was out for his morning walk too, walking up the other side of the mountain and didn't see me when he jumped. I think deer pride themselves on their Constant Vigilance so if you happen to catch one day dreaming, they freak out. He started sproinging around me in circles snorting kind of like a dog does. The circles smaller each time, his hooves getting closer to me. I stood up. This seemed to make him even madder. Just a young buck on an adrenaline rush, mad at being suprised. (Maybe because I was wearing pink?) He kept up with the snorting circles. I was talking to him all the while.
"I know it's your mountain but I'm not one of the bad humans. I was supposed to be a St. Bernard man. Okay Okay I'm going!"
I headed back down the trail and he followed me still snorting to make sure I was leaving. Jeeze. I always wanted to see a deer up close but I never imagined meeting an outraged one. When I saw some pretty fresh bear shit near some big footy prints, I decided that the hills were alive and that my nature walk was over.
Went to the market to get Amy some cream for her coffee and learned that the fox lives in town, has three kits. It's weird to be somewhere offseason. It's like being back stage of a movie that hasn't started yet. Kind of neat to get to see the mountain in all it's different phases. Bob came over for breakfast between golf games and convinced us to stay out one more day to play the Folk Festival party in Salmon Arm with Luther Wright and The Shiftless Rounders. Oh yeah. Music! It had been ages.
We made a should-I-stay-or-should-I-go list of pros and cons which was mostly the same words on both sides of the page and of course decided to stay. Bob got us a deal on a luxury resort hotel in Salmon Arm. Our french doors opened right onto a pair of ospreys nesting over Shuswap Lake. Yup. Not too shabby.
Luther and boys came over for a visit when they pulled into town. "Hello darling. You're mosquito bites have gone down" said Luther, that silver-tongued devil. Yeah the bites. I thought everyone would see the red pinhole marks and welts all over me and think that I was a junky but then wonder how come I was still fat.
So dazzled were we by the opulence and fluffy pillows and the patio sunset that we missed dinner and were a little shaky for the show but I think we pulled it off. I got to play with The Rounders as my band which is always a treat. Patio party after the show. Amy passed around crackers from her pic-a-nic basket and the stoners and the drunks took turns telling Important Stories and worrying about The Noise because everyone knows that habitat is the key to wildlife.

Day 17

"Where's the channel that tells you what's going on?"
"I don't think there is one."

A few days late and many dollars short, we rolled the Camry down the beautiful old highway 1 throught the desert past Cache Creek to Hope where Amy broke her fast food vow with some Dairy Queen. Made it in time for the last ferry, fearful that one more day out would completely flatten the cushion of hospitality. Since we weren't fighting yet, I thought why ruin a winning streak by sticking around? Phoned Tolan from the ferry to let him know I was coming home in case he was fucking a pork chop on the couch or something to which he replied, "Whadja get one of those new cameraphones?"
Fell asleep on the city bus. Was awoken by the bus driver at the place where they put the busses away at the end of the night. Wiped the drool off the side ofmy face and flagged a cab home. Opened the front door to discover that Tolan was having the boys over to watch "The World at War". Episode six. The Holocaust. Wow. What a home coming. Clay had passed out on the bunk. It appeared that someone had jumped out the window and the lone remaining conscious guy was saying "Does it have to be war everytime?" I knew he'd never be invited back.
Tolan and I shared the last smoke and rehashed our voyages. Sounded like even though my trip was four days longer it might have felt shorter. Any Hell's bearable if you're with kindred spirits. Thank you Honeys. Andrew I still owe you $25 bucks for wine.
You know in the end the car troubles just gave us a couple of days to relax. We like each other so it wasn't a big deal to be kind of stuck. We got to play the party in Salmon Arm and finally made it to the hot tub and I'm home now and learned that sometimes it is more about circumstance than manifestation. The weirdest part is the first tow truck guy said we were the third car he'd picked up there in as many days and we blew a tire at the same time the rad cracked so maybe there's something on the road. Maybe if the tire hadn't have blown we wouldn't have noticed that we were overheating and seized the engine or something. Who the fuck knows? Who cares? It's bigger than all of us. It's what happened.

xo cm
June 2006