Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I've been immortalized. Check it out here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I remember going to see Jason and the Scorchers....

If you know me at all, you know that I have a penchant for roots-type music...rockabilly, old-timey, bluegrass...I love it. Even when I was a dyed-black punk rocker, I loved it. One of the bands that I would play on my show at CiTR was the cowpunk group, Jason and the Scorchers. They could really rip their way through a Hank Williams tune! When I heard that they were coming to town, I was very excited! My friend, Li'l Debbie, and I agreed to go together. We both wore lots of black, lots of leather, fishnet stockings with black boots, red lipstick, thick black eyeliner, sheriff badges...everything cowboy and punk that we could think of! We looked great!

As we walked into 86 Street, excited to see who else was there that we knew, every eye turned to look at us--we were the only freaks there, and we stuck out like leather-clad thumbs. Apparently we were the only cowpunks in Vancouver!! The club was packed, but not with scenesters like us...with people who looked like they actually listened to country music radio, people with feathered hair and flannel plaid shirts and big belt buckles and tight Wranglers...it looked like a cowboy bar in Alberta, for Pete's sake!!! We headed straight for the front of the stage, not really feeling up to mingling.

When the band hit the stage, it was guns a-blazing! The guitar player, Warner E. Hodges, planted himself right in front of us and played the whole show just for us, it seemed. He was probably wondering where all the cowpunks were, too! After the show, it was a matter of mere moments before Li'l Debbie and I were asked by Warner if we wanted to come back-stage. Well, yes! Introductions all 'round, beer from the band's supply...we couldn't have felt more cool.

Warner had us one at each hip for the rest of the evening. He was a gentleman, didn't try anything untoward...I think he was just lonely and bored and wanted somebody to talk to. The band was heading out that night, so we rode back to the hotel where they had been staying to send them off. Warner, with one arm around each of us, declared he wanted to buy us a drink. The three of us walked into the sleepy hotel bar, pretending it was an old-time saloon, and loudly ordered the barkeep to give us three shots of Jack Daniels and "keep 'em comin'!". It was fun, goofing around in the presence of the bored business men, talking with southern drawls about barroom brawls. When Jason stuck his head in the bar and hollered that it was time to leave, Warner gave us each a kiss on the cheek and disappeared into the tour bus.

I've thought about that kiss on the cheek. I've thought about what a gift a little kiss can be, how it communicates so much in such a short time...it says "Thank you" and "You were worth spending time with" and "You are beautiful" and "Good bye forever". Li'l Debbie and I staggered out of that bar feeling like the two most beautiful women in the world. It was a good night.

Thanks to papaherman for sparking this latest memory!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I remember learning what shame feels like...

Early in the morning, 5:30 or 6 am, I would rise and go downstairs into the living room before anyone else woke up. This was my favorite part of the day. It was just me and my books. I was 6 years old, and I would sit on the brown couch with a volume of the Childcraft library and read until Mom woke up to get our day rolling. The volume I read the most was called "Look Again", and it was full of works of art, from Jasper Johns to Picasso to daVinci and Rembrandt. I loved it. I'd pour over the pictures again and again.

I discovered that if I held the book just right, the hard part of the spine made me feel...well...very good. I had no idea why it made me feel good, but it did, so I'd sit there with the book between my legs. It was as mindless as wrapping your hair around your finger or sucking your thumb.

One morning my mother came out of her bedroom and discovered me sitting in this way. She erupted in disgust. "Shame on you, you dirty girl! That's disgusting!! I don't ever want to see you doing that again!" The book was ripped out of my hands and I was marched to the bathroom to wash. Reading was wrong? Or was feeling good wrong? I was very confused. I felt a hot burning on my cheeks, and guilt that was unattached to any action, as far as I could tell. This was shame--an embarrassed confusion covered with anger...I had finally discovered an activity that I had to hide from my mother.

Over the next years, I continued to find ways to "feel good", and felt dirtier and dirtier. I was very good at hiding it. It wasn't until I was in Grade 5 and read a book by Judy Blume that I discovered I wasn't the only person in the world who enjoyed the feeling I got from rubbing my genitals. I nearly cried as I read that book. I had thought I was some kind of freak, that I was broken in some way...and here I was normal. It was a shocking thing to realize.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I remember dancing with old men....

There was a little bar in downtown Vancouver called the Marine Club. It was the kind of bar with a big jar of pickled eggs on the counter and a ratty old pool table in the back. The old-timers that sat on the stools around the counter were such permanent fixtures that the yellow-gray smoke haze that coloured the wall coloured them as well. It became the place that us undergrounders would go to escape for a cheap, quiet beer.

A few nights a week, a tall old black man named Frank would carry his keyboard up the stairs, set up in the corner and play music. He was incredible!! You could ask for any request, and if he didn't know it that night, he would know it next time he came. He'd turn on the drum track, start noodling away on songs like "Fly Me to the Moon" or "The Girl From Ipanema", and the old men and women would peel themselves off their bar stools and dance. I would call out requests for even older songs, songs my mother used to sing as she swept the floor, songs like "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree", "Night and Day", or "Beat Me Daddy(Eight to the Bar)", and Frank would shake his head and laugh and ask me how a girl so young knew such old songs.

The old drunks would saunter over and ask for a dance. I always said yes. I remember these men as perfect gentlemen, polite, charming, and quite good at dancing, considering the amount of alcohol in their systems. Grey hair combed into place, stubborn grey stubble poking through jowly jaws, faded and stained polyester suits....they smelled of beer and cigarettes and Bryl-creem as I danced with them, and I loved it. I loved every minute of it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I remember finding Blue on the road...

Blue was our dog, a beautiful little blue merle Shetland sheepdog that looked just like the one in the picture here. We had bought her from a breeder in Calgary. She had such a sad beginning in life. The breeder had sold her to a man, then months later was driving along a busy Calgary street and saw a bedraggled dog at the side of the road. She picked up the starving pup, and after checking tattoos, realized it was Blue! She called the man, and he was unapologetic..."She was a pain, so I let her out of the car to fend for herself." At the tender age of 11, I couldn't imagine a man being so cruel and evil. We bought Blue and brought her home, the fanciest dog we had ever owned, with papers and a pedigree and everything!

She was so smart! My little sister and I would make up tricks, and we'd only have to show her two or three times, and she'd know the trick forever. We'd point our finger at her, say "Bang!", and she'd fall down dead. We'd say "Slip me some skin" just like Huggy Bear from "Starsky and Hutch", and she'd put up her paw to shake. She was one groovy dog, certainly not a pain in any way! I felt proud that we had rescued her.

One hot, dusty summer day I was out in the garden grazing on the raspberries. After I'd had my fill, I began meandering back to the house, when I saw a kind of heap on the gravel road. I walked a bit closer to investigate, and realized it was Blue--not a good place for her to be napping! "Blue, come on! Get off the road!" The heap of blue-grey fur did not move. As the realization of what I was looking at slowly dawned on me, I froze. "Blue?" I could barely do it, but I walked two steps closer. There was no life there, none at all.

I ran to the house, crying. I told Mom what I had found, and she ran out to investigate. She came back to the house. "Oh, honey" she said, and pulled me into her arms. We cried and cried. I cried not just for the pain of losing such a sweet pet, but at the futility of our attempt to rescue her.