Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Georgie's Faith Takes a Hit

"Under our bodies are our bones"

She is in the bathtub with her sister and is looking at me with far away eyes. After a moment, she says, "When we die all that is left is bones"

"Just bones?” I ask.

"Yes. After we die we go in the ground and then after a while all that is left is bones.” I ask what happens to the bones but she is still thinking. “And then we go up!" she says, gesturing with both hands.

"Where do we go?"

"To Heaven"


She looks at me to see what I think of this and while I am trying to think of what to say, she says, "I believe in heaven, Daddy"

"That's nice, sweetheart". I am not just saying that, either. It is nice and I don’t have the heart to argue with her. She might even change my mind.

She adds, "I believe in everything. Except monsters"

Sometime later we are driving in the car and her little sister asks, "Where do all the trees come from, Mommy?" Georgie jumps in, "God made them! He made everything! The trees, the mountains, the earth..." Where did she hear all of this? She sure didn’t get it from her mother or me and they don’t teach it in school. This all would have made more sense when we lived in Atlanta. God was great and everyone knew it down there. There was a church on every corner it seemed, and billboards on the freeways reminding us not to sin. We even prayed with the neighbours before Thanksgiving dinner (and football). For that I had to give the girls a quick primer on the practice of saying grace. I did this on the doorstep just before our hosts opened their front door.

But that was a another world and another life. And now my girl has found religion. Maybe she heard it from her friends? We ask but she reveals nothing. She is smiling in the back seat, enjoying her little secret.

On a trip to Vancouver, she starts up again. "Do you believe in God, Daddy?" I think she should go door to door, maybe with some pamphlets to help spread the word. But here it is, one of those big moments. I remember thinking about this when she was a baby and what I might say. I have had six years to prepare but I’m still not ready. It is like in those dreams where I have forgotten to study for the final exam and now it is too late. I stall for a little bit before giving a weak and long-winded answer about different belief systems and agnosticism. She looks at me, puzzled. I am silly and inadequate.

She shakes off what I have said. “Well, I believe in God, Daddy"

Another couple of weeks pass and we are going to the baptism of her cousin. "Daddy, there's going to be a guy there and he's going to talk about God”. She is excited at the prospect of her first trip to church.

"You mean the priest?"

"Yes, he's going to stand up at the front and talk about God"

I suddenly feel like we have been depriving her. We have given her no religious or spiritual guidance. Maybe she has some innate need for faith? We are bad, godless parents.

In the church, she gets to meet Jesus. This is not the God she has imagined. It is not the sweet, little baby Jesus either. No, this is a larger than life, bearded, suffering and bleeding Jesus. He is there front and center, crucifying above the altar. I see her looking at him and the nails through his hands and feet. I worry about what is coming next.

"Daddy, who is that?"

"That's Jesus"

"It is? Why is he like that? Who did that to him? Why would they do that?"

I try to answer her questions but I am at a loss. She is distressed and I want to help but I have no good explanation. I tell her what I know, what I remember. We whisper about who Jesus was and what people believe. But she can't get past the gore, and the sadness. I am unable to comfort her. I am sitting next to her and she is struggling to make sense of it all. I am definitely not doing my job. She looks away from the bloody Jesus but the paintings on the side walls show mostly similar scenes of suffering and pain.

"Why does he have a circle behind his head in that one?" she asks.

"He might be standing in front of a shiny plate"

She gets the joke. The mood is lightened. I am now pretty sure she won’t start crying which makes me happy. She spends the rest of the service playing games on my phone while the priest goes on about drinking Coronas from the communion goblet (or maybe why that would be wrong?) and what a great thing it is to be Catholic.

Since then, religion hasn't been so much of a topic of conversation. I was starting to think that God might have let one get away. Until tonight, that is. While we were decorating the Christmas tree, Georgiana asked her sister, "Elise, do you know that Christmas is Jesus' birthday?"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Confessions of a middle-aged fan girl

(Guest blog by S. Mitchell)

When I told a friend that I had tickets to see both Crowded House in Montreal and the Police in Vancouver in the summer of 2007, he jokingly - and somewhat snidely - asked, "Do you only go to see 80s bands in concert? Do you ever go to hear new bands?" The answers were no and yes, of course, but I could see his point.

I like hearing new bands and music, but what is different now is that I don't invest the time in getting to know a band and their music the way I did in the 80s. Those were the days of record players and cassettes and free time and boundless energy...and the ability to stay up until the wee hours listening to music. And we’d listen together, just a bunch of friends; it was an accepted social activity. On my own, I'd listen so intently to my records, play them over and over again, memorize every song. I'd pore over the lyrics and study the cover art. Music was more tactile then - if that makes sense; we were more engaged, physically, in the experience. We’d select the record from the stack, slide the vinyl disk smoothly from its soft plastic cover and place it ever-so-carefully on the turntable. We’d run the felt dustbrush over the surface, and set the needle down, waiting for that exquisite moment when the static crackle quieted and the needle reached the music-infused groove. And then we’d really listen.

Now we can load numerous songs or cds into our players, we can skip, delete, fast forward; we can cherry-pick the songs we want, without ever having to listen to an album straight through.

I'm guilty of that; I bought a Jason Mraz cd months ago and have yet to hear the whole thing. I haven’t made time to focus on the whole effort. Speaking of focus, I can no longer enjoy the cover art or liner notes either....unless I have my reading glasses and a good light source nearby; everything is too small. (Insert snort of laughter here).

It could also be because my taste in music has broadened that I can’t maintain that same intensity, even if I wanted to. I like to listen to lots of different music. My husband has made me a fan of Tom Waits (and I like to think I’ve made him one of Crowded House). I like Charlie Haden and Jimmy Cliff; classical music, ska and surf guitar. My latest discovery is violinist Sophie Solomon - look her up, if a mixture of klezmer, folk and pop intrigues you - and my nephew recently introduced me to German industrial metal band, Rammstein. Yikes.

If only there were enough time in the day to get acquainted with all of those artists to the same extent that I knew and know the music of Crowded House. They’re the ones that I’ve stuck with over the years. Since 1986, in fact, when the first notes of "Don't Dream It's Over" wafted to my ears for the first time from my clock radio in the darkness of my room in Victoria. I loved that song immediately, then the album, and thus began my relationship with Crowded House. I’ll never forget the concert they played in Victoria, in the summer of 1987 at the Royal Theatre and not just because they played a surprisingly good cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” as an encore.

One very clear memory from that show is that during a break, the lights suddenly went up on the dark stage for just enough time for us to see the drummer, Paul Hester, standing there, naked. The lights went back down and delighted laughter and murmurs filled the theatre. Minutes later, the band returned to the stage, with Paul Hester nonchalantly buttoning up his shirt and saying "I just won $50 in a bet". He was known for his sense of humour, and what a great moment that was! That same night, I bumped into William, a friend from school and work. He was taking photographs at the concert and I was thrilled to see him; he was very clever and funny, in addition to being tall, handsome and popular, but a little dark and alternative, as well. It seemed that everyone either had a crush on him or wished they were him. That was one of the last times I saw William because these two concert memories share the same sad epilogue. Both Paul Hester and my friend William ended their own lives; William a few months after that concert and Paul Hester in 2005.

Fast forward to the present. All these years later, the world knows a lot more about depression and I, too, have more experience with grief and tragedy than I’d like. Happily, though, I also know more of joy, wonder and gratitude. And I’m still here on this earth. And so is Crowded House. It’s 24 years later and I’ve recently seen two Crowded House concerts, in two different cities, in two provinces, in the space of three days. And I might see another in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. I know how that sounds, but hear me out and I guarantee you might not think I’m a fanatic. Although the band has endured a break-up, lost Mr. Hester, and seen different members come and go, this latest iteration is solid and the shows in 2007 and those last month were as good, fun and exhilarating as that concert way back in the days of shoulder-padded, brightly-coloured 80s fashions. Lead singer Neil Finn is still in very fine voice.

I’ve seen other 80s favourites in the last decade or so and the experience has mostly been disappointing, though I’ve learned to manage my expectations somewhat. Sometimes it’s the venue: to see a formerly big name playing at an out-of-the-way casino or country fair seems to be a blow to their dignity. Sometimes it’s the musicians themselves: they’re ageing badly, they’re thicker around the middle (to be expected) and straining the seams of their too-small leather pants (to be avoided). Or their voices are raspier or weaker, whether due to age, misuse, rough living, or lack of practice. Or they try to act like they’re still 20 onstage, when they’re nearer to 50. Please no pelvic thrusts; you’ll slip a disc! And, lastly, they play the oldies, but have nothing new. It’s like they’ve given up. This only reminds us, the fans, that we’re getting older too. You can never go back to your glory days - yes, the ones you didn’t appreciate enough when you were living them.

But then there’s Crowded House, a band that has endured, overcome and morphed into a partly new, partly familiar, but still shiny, entity. They sound and look great and it’s clear they love what they’re doing. They’re pros: consummate showmen and musicians, without the rock star airs. This band shows literally no degradation over time and, bonus, they have loads of new material: two new cds in the last three years. How rare is that? (Well, I guess U2 does that, too, but Bono’s shades smack of rock star attitude...and didn’t he just put his back out?) For me, the perseverance of Crowded House provides this strange and wonderful link between the 22-year-old me and the 45-year-old version. Two very different worlds and perspectives, with this one great band in common. It’s like revisiting the old (young) me.

Experiencing Crowded House in concert again in 2007 - 20 years after that first Victoria concert - got me thinking about how music can have such a profound effect on our lives....and how strange that thought must be for the musicians themselves. I began to understand, too, that revisiting our past through music can be so rewarding and not just sadly nostalgic, and how rare it is to have something wonderful in your life remain constant and appealing, when so many things change, fade or disappear. It's the connection to that part of our lives when our love of music was intense and pure, as were we.

They say that if you write out a list of things you want to accomplish in your life, they’re more likely to happen. I’m starting to believe it, because I made a “life list” (sounds better than bucket list) in 2007 and number 8 on the list, after “photographing hippos in the wild” and before “hike the West Coast Trail with my family ”, I wrote “Meet Neil Finn”. Don’t ask me why. Astoundingly, a few months later I did in fact meet Mr. Finn and the rest of the band. ( I also had “Meet Colin Firth” on my list; nothing yet, but fingers crossed!) My husband and I had tickets to see Crowded House at the St. Denis Theatre in Montreal and, by coincidence, ended up staying at the same hotel as the band. My husband, ever-patient and wonderful, suggested that if I really wanted to meet the band, we could probably catch them on the way to the mid-afternoon sound check. I didn't pause to think about why I wanted to meet them. Or what I would say to them at such time, which became painfully obvious when I did in fact come face to face with them. My husband and I "staked out" the door between the lobby and the tour bus. It was more than a little pathetic; a lone middle-aged fan waiting hopefully by the door, pen in hand, camera at the ready. That weekend, the hotel was also home to many competitors in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament. Many hot young tennis stars breezed past us, but even Federer would have meant nothing to me, so intense was my focus on meeting Crowded House. Finally, one by one, the band members came out, dutifully signed my cd and posed for photos. They were kind and slightly amused, I think, by my presence.

Why do we want to actually meet our favourite celebrities? Maybe we believe that if we get close to them, some of their greatness or beauty or charisma will magically transfer over to us. We pose next to them like they’re the Taj Mahal or Niagara Falls. Look at how close I was to this amazing thing! Look at my brush with greatness!

When it happens, though, it’s more than slightly surreal. A clash of the familiar (celebrity to fan) and the unknown (fan to celebrity). It must be odd for a celebrity, especially a reluctant one, to be approached by strangers who feel as if they know them and actually do, in a sense. And, really, what can a fan/admirer possibly say, in the space of a minute or two, that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? How do you convey your appreciation for their effort, their creativity, their talent without coming across like a total dweeb or, worse, a psycho fan? And more importantly, how do you do that when the strange effects of celebrity and fame have tampered with your ability to speak and behave in a manner approximating normal.

Here’s how I did it....I blurted out the following inane comments, in a strangely strangled-sounding voice, using only simple sentence structure and little to no intonation:. "We're looking forward to the show" and "We're so glad you're touring again". Then I stood for a photograph standing next to poor Mr. Finn, not looking at, nor interacting with, him. Then, without me saying anything at all witty or interesting, he was gone. And the show that night was wonderful. Of course. Then I saw them again last month, twice.

“Yeah, what’s with two concerts in three days?” you ask. “You truly are a fanatic.” Simple explanation: I bought tickets to the Montreal show before I found out they would be playing Ottawa, too. They were two very different shows, covering lots of songs between the two of them. The Montreal show, held at a music hall/night club, was filled with a lot of diehard fans, ones who were familiar with all the material, even the new stuff, whereas the show at the Ottawa Bluesfest attracted many who knew of Crowded House in the 80s. To hear the comments coming from those around me in the audience was fantastic. They were blown away by the energy and quality of the band. Example: "Holy f**k, these guys are so good, even after 20 years; that's a real testament to what a great band they are". I hope that show, and the many others on the tour, contribute to even greater success for Crowded House. They deserve it. I mean, these guys are good. So good I might even fly to Vancouver to see that concert at the end of August. After all, my brother does have an extra ticket and I would like to see my family and the mountains and the ocean again.

And if I had a chance to meet the band again, this is what I would say:

Thanks for continuing to make brilliant music, thanks for caring about your audience enough to put on really fantastic shows, thanks for being kind to your fans, and, last but not least, thanks for inspiring me to be creative. I’ve thought a lot lately about the notion of contributing something tangible to the world, so I’ve been trying to spend more time and energy on my passions: writing and photography. Seeing Crowded House again gave me the idea for this essay, so maybe number 8 on my life list was really meant to push me back into writing. Done!

One word of advice though, to Crowded House: if you don’t want your fans to feel old and doddery, don’t sell tea towels as concert merchandise again (as you did in 2007). Or, if you do, go the whole distance in an ironic way, by selling Crowded House tea cozies, Crowded House teacups, Crowded House tea balls, etc. These would go over very well in my home town of Victoria.

Epilogue: I did go to the Vancouver concert....no tea towels in sight.
Post epilogue: Just noticed they're selling tea towels for latest tour on website....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confessions of a Becoming Jane and Zombies Book Club Addict

(guest blog by G. Aubertin)

I discovered Jane Austen at the age of 21 when I picked up Emma to escape a particularly horrible weekend getaway. Although I had previously read Pride and Prejudice, perhaps at too young an age, I had positive but not fanatical feelings towards her novels. After Emma, however, I was enchanted and proceeded to read and re-read the remainder of her 6 novels with varying appreciation (none have compared to Emma for sheer reading pleasure, even though P and P is one of the greatest books of all time). Even so, I was slow to understand the extent of Austen’s genius. When I saw Clueless for the first time I didn’t detect the borrowed storyline. However, by the time the A&E/BBC P and P miniseries had ended I was completely in awe of all things Jane Austen, not to mention all things Colin Firth, and many things bearing some relation. Therefore not only am I a Jane Austen fan, I am a Jane Austen adaptation fan. In 2004 when I visited England for the first time my itinerary included Jane’s house at Chawton, her grave stone at Winchester Cathedral, a house she stayed at in Bath, her father’s grave in Bath, and various filming locations of P and P including the glorious golden home that was Longbourne. Gwyneth’s Emma inspired a long-standing celebrity crush, which is another whole story. At my wedding P and P music was played, my dress was inspired by Jennifer Ehle, my hair was Gwyneth’s Emma. My husband-to-be drew the line at English country dancing, but his handsome resemblance to Jeremy Northam helped me forgive him.

I have been so delighted by many of the adaptations of Jane Austen’s works, from the unbelievably authentic BBC version of Persuasion to the creative achievement of Bridget Jones’ Diary (the novel, less so the films). However, my feelings in regards to the surge in Jane Austen’s popularity are best described as a mixture of pride and, yes, prejudice. Pride, of course, because Austen is so great so it is no surprise that others have caught on to her appeal, and when you know about something good part of you wants others to know it too. But prejudice, because, my god, zombies? And, without having read that one, I can say from many of the other recent novels with appropriation of Jane, or her subject matter, the quality is just not always there. And having been an Austen fan (not a Jane-ite, please) for close to two decades, I do feel a sense (and sensibility? I’ll stop now) of ownership. To someone just discovering Austen, I say welcome to the club.

It’s a little like the time in high school I identified a boy, previously unknown to me and very attractive, near the end of the school year when one would have thought every post-pubertal girl in the neighborhood would have been talking about him for months. I kept my discovery to myself, but sent long pining gazes down the hall to his locker. Then somehow within mere days, I began to hear about other girls liking him too. I felt like he was mine simply because I liked him first. It turned out with this boy that my early adoration was rewarded with his returned interest. And here, the comparison with Austen falls apart because after spending time together I learned that as sweet and nice and darned attractive as he was, he was actually kind of boring. Kind of like those Jane Austen rip-offs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Golfing with Jim

I would see Jim all the time at the Clifton School. His daughter, Maya was in Georgie's class. He was the Oak class parent rep. and seemed like a very nice guy. One day in the fall we were chatting and the subject turned to golf. I was thinking of hitting a range some time and he told me about one down North Druid Hills Road. He said he hardly golfed anymore since the kids came along but would like to get back into it. We talked about going but never did. I looked for the range one day, half-heartedly but I went the wrong way and ended up at Target. So it never happened. Then I went to Florida for a week. When I came back fall had given way to winter and Atlanta's repuation as a year round golf destination was exposed as myth. At least in the winter of 09-10, the worst one in 20 years.
In the spring our thoughts once again turned to grand game (is it called that?) and we eventually made a date to meet at the Druid Hills range. The place is a dump but that suited me fine for my first hit in eons. No intimidation factor and the price was right. Jim hit the ball well and seemed to be much better equipped than I. Though this was not hard as my clubs are 20 years old.
We practiced many times together and enjoyed discussing ways to improve our swings. I watched a lot of the golf channel and he had some computer programs that analyzed his swing. We were two duffers with time to spend working on the silly game. It was perfect. We were both unemployed. Our kids were at the same school so after drop off we were free to play. Sometimes we would go the golf stores and try out new clubs and putters. Once we drove out to Celebrity Golf Club where Jim's friend worked. A place once owned by NBA great Julius Erving and where I had seen Charles Barkley hack and slash his way around while trying to cure his outrageous swing at the hands of Hank Haney.
But our true golf home would be the Charlie Yates Course at East Lake. I discovered this little gem in an ad in "Creative Loafing". It is adjacent to the famous East Lake Course, where Bobby Jones played and where I had seen Tiger and Phil battle it out the previous September, just a few weeks before Tiger's life came undone. We practiced at the much nicer range there and eventually took the leap and played an acutal round of golf. It was tough. The little course has multiple hazards and we seemed to find most of them. But we were very compatible on the course and I was happy to have a new friend. We played that course several times through the spring. I think we improved but my scores only got worse. We would always walk the course and it got hotter and hotter as the weeks went by.
One day at Charlie Yates, Jim brought a couple of sandwiches along (he has a high metabolism and eats constantly). He offered me one but I stuck to my Coca Cola diet. He ate one but the other went missing. He would often puzzle about what had happened to it. About 6 weeks later he made a gruesome discovery under the front seat of his car. The sandwich, now unrecognizable as such had been percolating in the Georgia heat. Luckily the integrity of the ziplock bad was not compromised and he was able to toss the distended moldy bag without further incident.
We went to Stone Mountain for a practice day. The course there is upscale and in the shadow of the great granite behemoth that is Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain has may attractions: campsites, a gondola to the top where there is a great view of Atlanta, hiking and running trails and an amusement park for the kids. My friend David calls it "Hillbilly Disneyland". It does have a pretty southern theme, with homage to many civil war heros. Stonewall Jackson for one, and maybe Robert E. Lee but not the psychotic Sherman. At the golf course in the blazing heat, I spent about 3o minutes practicing in the bunker. And there I saw a really big daddy longlegs. I had plans to hike the mountain but I needed to get out of the heat. It was only June but it had become too hot for golf. Jim and I just hadn't realized it yet.
Our next outing left no doubt. It was our ill-advised 18 hole adventure in Southwest Dekalb county. We drove the 45 minutes east of the city to play Mystery Valley. It was about 90 degrees and stinking humid. Although we rode in a golf cart we were exhausted by the end. To make matters worse we were shamed by a 75 year-old man playing behind us. He was walking the course, carrying his clubs! And even though we were riding and he was on foot, he was still catching up to us, slowly but surely. He would hit his shot, then sling the bag over his shoulders, put his head down and start his slow march up the fairway. He wore a wide-brimmed straw hat. He took almost no time before hitting and never seemed to hit a bad shot. Every time I looked back, he was a little closer. It was freaking me out. He was like a zombie getting closer and closer. Coming to get us and eat our brains. I think the heat was getting to me. Jim hit one into the trees and while he looked for his ball I fretted about the living dead. Just forget the ball, Jim, play a new one! It didn't matter, the undead got to us on hole number 15. "You boys mind if I join you?" Not a zombie, thank god, just an old southern man. And I mean old.

*old white southerners sometimes call me "boy", old black southern men sometimes call me "boss". The old south, in a nutshell

After that round, Jim said he felt like he had been beat with a stick. I felt his pain. I couldn't decide whether to pass out, throw up or start crying.

Soon after that, Jim went to Texas and then I went back to Vancouver. I wish we had been able to play more. But we just couldn't have done more in that heat. Now that it is fall it would be perfect. I hope to play a round or two with Jim when we visit next month.

Jim and I had good times together and we have a lot in common. His wife works at the CDC and is a loevly person as well. Jim campaigned for Obama and I was very impressed by his inviation to the innaguaration. He had it up on his kitchen wall. As Todd of Todd and Craig said, southern liberals are some of the nicest peoople you will meet. It is true. Maybe because they don't take it for granted. You have to fight for it there. Or at least put up with a lot of abuse.

I hope Sarah Palin runs for president and wins. Because Jim says they are moving to Canada if that ever happens.

Saturday night in Vancouver

I am still writing on the Atlanta blog, though sadly it is almost three months since we left Georgia. It is fall here and I missed the long hot summer down south. Replaced here by a wonderful warm, mostly dry summer. I guess I will have to change the blog's title though I am going back to Georgia for a week this month so maybe we can keep it going for a while longer.
It is Saturday night and after enjoying the beautiful fall day, I man the kitchen while Gudrun is downstairs getting the girls ready for bed. I am clearing the table and washing dishes while I listen to CBC radio. The "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation". Like National Public Radio in the US. It has the same liberal bent, and is also hated by conservatives. A waste of taxpayers money they say. To me, tonight, a great find. I have lucked into Randy Bachman's "Vinyl Tap". Randy Bachman was a key member of both "Bachman Turner Overdrive" and earlier "The Guess Who", two of the biggest bands ever to come out of Canada. BTO may have literally been the biggest. "Bachman Turner Overweight" they were nicknamed. Bachman is a mormon and has never done drugs or drank. And if you can't drink or get high, you have to eat, right? The good thing about his clean lifestyle is that he actually remembers the 60s and 70s and is full of great stories from a life in rock and roll. Bachman now lives on Saltspring Island, a one-time hippie haven but now rife with yuppies and their SUVs, blackberries and Labradors. I like to go there once a year or so and watch these groups battle for control of the island. Of course, the yuppies are winning. They always do. They are much better planners and do a lot of goal-setting. Note to self: open Starbucks franchise in the village, force Saltspring Island Roasters out of business.
Bachman is a great guy and always has lots of stories that he tells between songs, while strumming his guitar. The show's intro has some of the "Takin' Care of Business" riff and solo.
Tonight's show's theme is "clap and snap"- songs with clapping or snapping. We've heard "Betty Davis Eyes" (recorded as a one-take live performance apparently), Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" (some argument that he is just hitting himself and therefore there is no actual clapping or snapping of any kind), Hall and Oates "Private Eyes", The Who, "My Generation" with it's complex off-beat clapping, Boyz to Men "In the still of the Night". There is lots of great background and little-known facts about the songs and artists and how the songs came to be. Now we are getting a lesson on the structure of the doo-wop beat, as illustrated by "Runaround Sue" by Dion. I have to stop to clap along. Randy encourages audience participation.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blue Rodeo in Atlanta

Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, June 8th, 2010. Canada's Blue Rodeo plays as part of their little tour through the US. Sadly, I had to go alone, as Gudrun came down with the flu. I decided to hit Cowtipper's next door for a steakburger. I regret this now but it might be unfair to blame my stomach upset on their food.
Smith's is a great little venue. When I walked in, I couldn't believe I was going to see the band in such an intimate setting. they don't play stadiums or anything in Canada but nothing nearly this small, at least not where I have seen them. I got there late, but in time to check out the t-shirts. I met a mother and daughter there to see them for the first time. You Tube fans it seems, never seen them live. What a great place for your first Blue Rodeo concert! And I was sure only displaced Canadians like me would be there. At least one blog world friend is tuned into the event. I love the fact they have a fan base down here. I mean, they kinda are americana, as funny as that is for a band from Toronto. I know a lot of bands I hear on the radio here have the same kind of sound.
The back up band 'Cliff the Duke' was great. All young guys playing rootsy rock. The lead singer looked a little like Rivers Cuomo (?) from Weezer, but a little rougher (by design?) around the edges.
With anticipation I watched the crew set up for the BR show. I saw them tape the set list to the floor and my neighbours were stealing peeks at it. I didn't want to know so tried not to listen. A very disheveled Basil Donovan gentled pushed by me and went into the back to get ready for the show. A few minutes later the band appeared. They looked great, happy. They opened with 'Cynthia' and played many songs not normally on the rotation up in Canada. Some old favs like, "Stop Stealing the Indian Lands" and "Heart Like Mine" (first song from their first album) and a lot from Five Days in July ("Head over Heels" "Five Days in May"). Also, "Moon and Tree" and three or four from the new album ("Candice", "Don't let the darkness in your head", and I think "Never Look Back". I love hearing their new songs. They had Anne Lindsay with them playing violin and she did a fantastic solo to replace the guitar one in "Five Days in May". Greg Keelor came to the front of the stage and strummed a solo acoustic "Hasn't Hit Me Yet" while the crowd sang the first verse and chorus. Then the band kicked in and it really took off. I've seen this before up north and it was very cool to see it work here, the whole bar singing along. There were one or two Canadians in there I think. The place was full of people who love the band which made for a great vibe. Not that it isn't that way in Canada but I got the sense that the people here, like me, were really psyched to see them.
They played so well and it was so good to see them again. I loved being so close yet not crushed. As sad as it was that Gudrun couldn't be there, she would have been annoyed by all the other woman (did I say cougars?) competing for Jim Cuddy's attention.
They are a fantastic band. They joked about the barbeque they had earlier. Fat Mac's. I checked out the website, it looks good. I will have to give it a try before I leave.
Next stop for them is St. Louis. Looks like they are making their way all the way to the west coast. That is one long bus ride.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Car incidents and accidents

Today as Elise was getting out of the car at school, and as I was slightly distracted, the car next to us backed out. But the driver had some kind of coordination lapse and made contact with the open door and... kept right on going! The driver was oblivious to the door, the toddler behind it and likely anything she couldn't see out of her rear view mirror. With some wild gesticulation and coarse language, I managed to get her to stop and she got out, an odd smile on her face. I pointed out the red stripe and scratch half the length of her car left by our car door. She kind of laughed and said, "Yes, Ok" then got in her car and drove off. I think her English was weak so I don't think she got my sarcastic comments about her driving abilities.

This keeps happening here. And sometimes it is much worse. Another day not long ago. I was driving through campus and traffic was stopped due to a downed power line. A crew had just hit the scene and I was second from the front of a line of stopped cars. The small pickup stopped ahead of me was several car lengths into the work zone and started to reverse. Faster, faster, faster straight at me. Soon it was obvious she was going to hit me. I leaned on the horn and she hit the brakes, almost stopping beofre hitting my front grill. Almost, but not quite. I got out and once again brought out my trademark irritated sarcasm. Something like, "nice driving" or " way to spaz-out behind the wheel". The woman was about 60 with crazy messy hair and a soft southern voice. Why was I not surprised that she was driving a pick-up, everyone drives one here. She said, "I touched you some but there's no damage". Her car was still wedged against mine and I pointed out that she couldn't possibly know this. She said, "I'm very sensitive and I can tell these things" To add further to my irritation, she was right and only after she was on her way did I come to the conclusion that she was either drunk or high, or both.

But the cream of the crop of the ATL driving follies was the sideswipe perpetrated by the dirtbag. A tailgater who I irritated by driving progressively more slowly. I have grown out of the slam-on-the-brakes tactic, though I do miss the panic on their faces when they think they're going to hit you. Anyway, this fine citizen passed me but not before taking off my front fender in a crazy swerve toward me as he passed. I think it was unintentional but in any case he ran for it. I caught up to him at the next light but he darted down a sidestreet at about 60 miles an hour. As they say, I broke off the pursuit and reported the accident and his "tag". The officer checked but the tag turned out to be invalid so it cost me some money. I did get a trip to the Dekalb County courthouse and police station where I got to ride the elevator with some colourful individuals. "They say I got two B and Es but I ain't got but one!"

Gudrun and I are sure there will be in another accident. It is just a matter of time. The driving here is a different type of bad from Vancouver. There they are usually incompetent or aggressive, not usually both. Here they put it all together. We're bad, we're mad (and also we're proud, and loud) and we're gonna get you and your little girly Mitsubishi Lancer.