I’m happy to announce I’ll be composing the score for “the Corner Gas Movie”. The original cast are all back and the movie will be out in December. It’s all happening now. I had a great time in Rouleau Saskatchewan taking part in the filming of the end credit sequence at “Dog River Days”. Fine people indeed.
Scotty Hard and I are currently composing for the film “Being Canadian”. Rob Cohen is a noted screen writer for such comedy masterpieces and the Simpsons, SNL and the Ben Stiller Show. He and his compatriots have crafted a documentary of his journey to find what it means to be Canadian. The cast is star studded and it has been a great opportunity to work with my longtime pal Scott Harding on the music.
I’ll be sharing the stage with Adam Levy at Rockwood Music Hall in New York on Nov 22nd. We’ll play some songs together, some surprise covers and fiddle around on our own as well. It’s recommended to get advance tickets
I think this is my first NY performance since 2007 so buy me beer!
Free concert at sunset in John Lawson Park. What could be better. C’mon out. Bring the family. Bring the motorcycle gang. Bring an entire wedding party.
Spent the day deep down into the dissection of Beatles songs. I’m up to my elbows in singing harmonies “on the 3rd of the scale” and using my “nose voice”. A mountain of charts and mp3’s have arrived from Andrew Barashko of Toronto’s “Art of Time Ensemble” and I am behind the eight ball preparing for next week’s 45th anniversary Sgt. Pepper reinvention concert. I get to sing a lot of John Lennon stuff and, for most fans of my vintage, the John chair is the catbird seat. I’ll try to live up to it.
As kids playing road hockey, we chose our favourite player and announced “I am Bobby Orr” or “I’m Andre Boudrias” (me) before the tennis ball was dropped. It was that way too with the other kids when it came to the Beatles. We picked our favourites. Mine was George. That seemed doable. I was too nervous to pick John or Paul. I played violin and couldn’t yet sing. George was close enough to that skill set. My recurring dream was not of being in my own famous band, but of being in George’s position on stage with the Beatles…or Keith Richard with the Stones or Pete Townsend in the Who. The first few dreamtimes were frustrating because I could only play the tennis racket. As I get older I know more of the material in real life and do a better job in the dreamworld. I used to be petrified when the dreams first started. I didn’t have the skills and felt like an imposter about to fail. Well…I still feel mostly that way. That’s excitement. Right?
I used to go to sleep with the radio on and, as it hit the perfect song, I’d try to conjur “the lucky pretender” dream. Well…flash ahead to today. I rub the genie’s lamp and somehow I bust a weird wormhole in the wall dividing the parallel worlds. I’m diving in.
I’m still effected by last week’s passing of Donald “Duck” Dunn. He was an archetypal bass player and one of my faves – Dunn, Jamerson, McCartney, George Porter Jr . Seems like an even deeper loss than with regular heroes. I first saw him at the age of six.
It was a warm starry night in a campground beside a drive-in theatre in Parksville, B.C. and I was running wild with strange new kids – this is during the summer after the summer of love. We crowded to the top of the playground slide to see over the fence at the big screen. All the little metal speaker boxes in the car windows were cranked. The boxes from the far side of the drive-in created a weird delay in relation to those up close to the campground. Trippy. I didn’t now it at the time but we were watching D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop” concert film. I would jostle for position at the top of the ladder only to be tossed down the slide by the bigger kids. On my few triumphant times at the top I saw Booker T and the MGs with Otis doing “Shake”, I saw the Who smash their gear and I saw Hendrix burn his guitar. My life’s path was set out before me. I can’t remember seeing anything that exciting for another decade.
In all those situations there was the stalwart bass player. I didn’t even know what a bass player was but I remember the three guys holding it down with the big guitars –John Entwistle, Noel Redding and Duck Dunn. They kept it together and held tight when the focus shifted to mayhem and flash. They calmly surveyed the landscape and held tight. You’d need these guys on your side if you ever got a wheel off the road. Bass players are best friend material. They consistently have your back and do so with a wry smile and slow shake of the head. After a life in music I can tell you this to be mainly true. A lot of people lose a best friend when a bass player dies. I guess that’s what is haunting me.
Here I am in the middle of rehearsals for the upcoming Art of Time Ensemble Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club celebration. Digging into the material I keep reflecting back on the weird twists of fate that the Beatles keep throwing at me. Some people don’t know about my band – Odds. Others who do know the band may not know we broke up from 1998 to 2007. Sorry friends. Maybe forgot to mention it. We were doing really well in 1998 but it felt like it was time to break up. Its just part of what you do if you’re a band. I know, for sure, I made a clear announcement to the band that I was leaving.
Everyone in the band knew but we certainly forgot to tell our agent who called about a week after my pulling the plug to say that Sir George Martin was about to embark on a big symphony tour and would we be the “electric band” part of the orchestra. We were to play the guitar, drum and bass parts and sing a lot of the vocals on a program featuring Sir George Martin conducting a symphony playing his classic Beatle orchestrations. The promoter had sent Sir George our albums. He had listened and declared us “great” and “the right choice”. I guess our influences were showing even more than we thought. No higher compliment could be paid. His official endorsement of our “Beatle spirit” was the sincerest form of flattery (I draw up just shy of the word imitation).
We talked it over and decided this was too good to miss. We agreed to put off our break-up until the Sir George tour was over. Our onstage vibe was going to be authentic “Let It Be” tension but what the hell.
About a month later Mr. Martin decided a long tour was going to be too much for him. He called and said he was just going to do a couple of shows in a few cities with musicians from those locales. He was sorry. So then we broke up.
That is the weird story of how the Beatles got our band back together…for a month. They were such a good band that their dysfunctional broken up band could get other broken up bands back together. Magic.
Odds have been back making music for years now. That had nothing to do with the Beatles I just wanted to make sure I told you about that this time.
Here’s the unedited version of Thursday’s National Post Diary
Today was day one of rehearsals for the Art of Time’s re-imagining of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The musical structures have only been changed enough to illustrate how amazing the original album truly was. Unless you do something different there is no new light shed on anything. There’s the old adage that each time you listen to a Beatles record you find something you’ve never heard before. The arrangers on this project are true fans who went digging through this album to unearth all the hidden gems and polish them bright. They’ve preserved all the beautiful colours and then thrown those colours back at the canvas to startling effect.
Steven Page, John Mann, Andy Maize and I are “the singers”. We’re fans too. We’re using our own voices that have been somewhat shaped by years of Beatle appreciation but are definitely our own. We’ve “made our faces” as they say. Anyway, we’re not going to be successful as a tribute act because none of us plays drums and there is no call for “the Beatles as they may have looked in middle age”. We are, however, bursting with admiration for this music and really enjoying ourselves. The artistic director Andrew would never say it directly but I get to sing a lot of John Lennon’s parts because I sing through my nose a lot more than the others do. I made my own face but I guess the shnoz ran away on me. So…
I get to sing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Jonathan Goldsmith’s new arrangement has me feeling even more stoned than the Beatles were when they made it. It’s amazing. I told him I feel like I’m underwater while I’m singing it and come up for air at the end. As a kid I thought all these songs were so weird and indecipherable. I gave up on lyrical analysis and just rocked. It’s strange to discover, upon singing “LSD”, that it is as linear and straightforward a story as any country song. The only thing different is the pursuit of the girl takes place in a world where taxis are made of newspaper, the odd person is made of plasticine, and you have to bushwhack through giant cellophane flowers. No big deal. Been there before. If you took a few of those weird things out, stuck to the story, and put a cowboy hat on the guy, it would make a great CMT video.
I have been writing a diary for the National Post this week. They asked me for 150 words a pop but gave me examples that were 350 to 400. I split the difference.
In the end the cut them back to 150 with a picture. I understand the drill but I think my original versions are closer to how I was feeling. I’m going to lay them out here in their original form for all of you who haven’t been privy to the edited versions.
Here’s #3 that ran on Wednesday. I don’t have 1 and 2 in this computer so I’ll add them last.
On the plane from Vancouver to Toronto to start rehearsals with the Art of Time Ensemble for their Sgt. Pepper 45th anniversary show. I’m fishing through the movie selections on the headrest in front of me. Choosing the “Canadian” option hoping to finish seeing “French Immersion”. I only saw the first half on my last short hop. Instead I find 1970’s “Goin’ Down the Road”—Donald Shebib’s film about two maritimers heading to Toronto to find a different life. The song “There’s a Rainbow in Toronto”, from the SCTV parody of this movie, instantly starts playing in my head. Paul Brennan of the Odds and I used to sing it every time we rolled into Toronto. I haven’t seen the original film in decades. It seems like it was on CBC every week back when I was ten.
The opening driving montage is rolling and Pete and Joey are laughing and tossing stubby beer bottles from a beaten blue Chev convertible painted with crude hot rod flames. There’s a suicide knob on the steering wheel. Oh yes…our “unsafe” history. “There’s gonna be so much there we won’t know where to begin”. They roll into town and the dark adventure begins. The 1970 footage is captivating and the dialog dated and cartoonish –“what a pair of knockers”. When I was a kid my dad said things like this. My mom dressed like this. Mini skirts and high hair. I am now realizing, as our protagonists struggle and party in “the Big Smoke”, that my childhood impressions of Toronto came from this film. I didn’t get to see the city for myself until I was twenty-nine. As my kinder gestalt is reanimated it mashes-up strangely with my current understanding and experience. Starting tomorrow this phenomenon will repeat itself on a musical level. As a kid I threw myself into my parents classical record collection and all the Beatles discs. Now I’m “Goin’ Down the Road” to dig that vibe up and play classical Beatles mash-ups with a group called the Art of Time. Art of time travel indeed. Psychedelic man. Something is going on here. There’s a rainbow in Toronto for sure.
This should be fun. Steven Page, John Mann, Andy Maize and I will be the vocalists fronting the talented and inventive “Art of Time Ensemble” at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto May 31 to Jun 2nd. It’s the 45th anniversary of the album and the AofT have commissioned some fantastic arrangers to put this together. I will perform “Mr.Kite” on trampoline. Check it out here
Yes! Dog of Thunder’s adopted hockey squad won the championship last night in a tight checking 2-1 affair with the North Shore Lucky Legs. In this pic you can see me (Craig) 2nd from left in the front row. In the back row far left we have Dean “Chef” Delandreville the person who built this website. One in from Dean, to his right, is Brent “Bünt” Belke. He’s a Dog of Thunder composer. One to the right of Brent is Cam “Espo” Andrews who created the Dog of Thunder logo. Blair “X Factor” Calibaba is the one in street clothes. You may also know him as an engineer on four Odds albums and seen (or heard) him mix the band live for several years. Not pictured would be Paul “Crazy Legs” Forgues who mixed Odds “Cheerleader” and is our current tour manager and front of house sound engineer.
Congrats to all my team mates for a great season with a spectacular finish.
Sam Thom has put up some video and photos of our friend Steven Page and I in Victoria a couple of weeks ago. He does call me “Marley” at one point in his text but that’s OK…I love Bob Marley and am frequently mistaken for him. — CN
The tour has been a blast. Victoria on Wednesday. Here’s a good picture Shawn Morgan took at the North Vancouver show. This was the first time I could walk home from a gig in many years and have it take less than 2 hours. Much fun. See you in Victoria.
Packing my bags right now for my upcoming string of shows with Steven Page. As the great Brad Delp of Boston sang, “gettin’ crazy anticipatin’ love and music”. This is the schedule. It’s the first time we’ve performed together since the last “Vanity Projects” show on the high seas a few years back. Bring a friend. Bring the love.
|Mar 6, 2012
7:00 pm Doors Tickets: $25
|Mar 7, 2012
1301 16 Ave NW
|Mar 9, 2012
2300 Lonsdale Avenue
7:30 pm show Tickets: $27/$30
|Mar 10, 2012
Quadra Island, BC
970 West Road
|Mar 14, 2012
907 Pandora Ave
Tickets: $25 advance
|Mar 15, 2012
442 Cliffe Ave
Tickets: $45/$40/students $25 7:30 pm showtime
|Mar 16, 2012
13750 88th Avenue
|Mar 17, 2012
421 Cawston Ave
Tickets: $30/students $10
|Mar 18, 2012
Steven Page with Craig Northey
421 Victoria St
|Mar 20, 2012
898 HWY 95, East Kootenay F
Tickets: $25/$20/$15/$5 students
Hi everyone. The date of the website launch will be easy to remember. My 50th birthday. I’m not sure why I’ll have to remember the exact date of the launch but frequently I am asked to summon information that I have forgotten. Who chooses what information is important? Why should I know my social insurance number instead of the running order of the German pressing of the Beatles “Revolver”? I would argue that the latter is much more important than my social insurance number but the government doth protest this. Just in case I choose incorrectly in the future I will endeavor to make things land on milestone dates. It’s a decent memory crutch.
We’ll be adding more music and text to these pages as we find the time and resources. There are some thing I have done in the past that have not been put up here and, as I was just mentioning about not knowing what is important, I should probably put all of it up here and let you decide what is worth listening to or looking at.
Not only do Steven and I have a new song out on his “A Different Sort of Solitude” EP stevenpage.bandcamp.com/track/manchild we will also hit the road together with two acoustic guitars for select dates this March. Go to www.stevenpage.com and click on the “live” tab. You can see all the shows and get tickets. I am pretty excited to be playing my home town of North Vancouver BC. March 9th. I can walk to the theatre in 10 minutes.
Toronto’s Art of Time Ensemble www.artoftimeensemble.com/pastperformances.html do amazing string orchestra arrangements of pop music. They’ve made albums and performed shows with Sarah Slean, Steven Page, Melanie Doane etc. They’ve asked me to be part of their re-working of the Sgt.Pepper album for it’s anniversary. Rumour has it that I will sing “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, “Good Morning”, “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Strawberry Fields” (it was part of the Pepper sessions). Some stellar friends will be on the bill and I am completely stoked.
Colin James is going to be coming out with a fresh new album in a few months. He switched back to his old label EMI and he teamed up with our old pal Joe Hardy (see: Fuse) to make the record. I had the pleasure of being in the band for the tracking sessions at Hipposonic (the good ‘ol Mushroom Studios really) in Vancouver. Hutch Hutchinson en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hutchinson_(musician) was on bass and Greg Morrow played the drums www.artistdirect.com/artist/credits/greg-morrow/470574 Not too shabby. These guys are total gems on a personal front and as killer musicians as well. I’ve heard the roughs and Colin and Joe really put things together well. The songs are co-written with the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Gordie Johnson and Tom Wilson.
Hi everybody. The “Dog of Thunder” website is coming along. I’ve been busy and have neglected my duties as the steward of my namesake dot com. There have been births and deaths, brilliant victories and catastrophes that have all gone unreported in this space. I’ve endeavored to become hip to Twitter and Facebook so you may have heard my musings through those portals and through the more traditional oddsmusic.com.
In the future you’ll be able to go to craignorthey.com and it will direct you to my new, all-encompassing facade. Don’t despair. I haven’t given into the man. I haven’t sold anything although I am for sale. Most folks don’t want what I have if Katy Perry is in the neighbourhood.
We Odds and all our extended family loved Mike Norman very much and we will hear his laugh always when the right wrong joke is told. See you in the sky Mikey.
Bob and I are doing a house concert. It has come to my attention that they can squeeze a couple more people in so I am letting you know that it in in Victoria BC this saturday August 21st
He holds the reigns
Fandango is just one of those words. It works in all languages. I imagine flames and speed and delicious food. As it rolls off the tongue you imagine yourself as being able to speak Spanish and how much sexier you could be. Just saying the word 10 times increases your virility and possibly your libido. Libido. Same deal. Ends in “o”. Maybe we are building a scientific theory here. No. I just destroyed that theory when the word “Draino” popped into my head. Never mind-o.
As you can see I’ve been keeping busy. “Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town” comes out this summer on IFC in the United States
That was no more work for me but it’s a cool channel and I am glad my American brothers and sisters all get to share.
“Hiccups” (CTV) was a hit here in Canada so I hope to get a crack at that again.
Just taped the “Brent Butt Comedy Special” with the Odds and the post production is almost done. I was like Paul Shaffer only with a guitar and a Canadian in Canada. I think it will air next month on CTV.
Odds had a good run with our beloved Canucks as the guerilla band that kept popping up at GM Place to scare people with riff rock. Check out oddsmusic.com for video clips etc.
Of interest to those of you lucky bastards who get to live on Vancouver Island…I will be performing a rare solo acoustic show with my pal Bob Kemmis at the very trippy Duncan Garage Showroom (May 22). It’s a small place so get your bids in now. Bob is fantastic so I hope to somehow sabotage his set in the interests of appearing more together than him.
It is with a heavy heart that I ask you all to raise a glass for Dan Achen. Dan was a good man and solid chum who went to the next realm doing something he loved to do. http://www.chartattack.com/news/80240/ten-reasons-dan-achen-was-cool
What happened to this site you say? Why doth he forsake it? Well…I’ve been pretty busy with Odds stuff and that ends up over there on that page and then this Twitter thing got invented and I find it easier to say 145 characters and go back to work so sometimes I just jot a note up there. To top it off somebody hacked this site and wrecked all my galleries and I don’t have a lot of skills in that department and don’t know how to fix it. Look for a revamp around March when things open up a bit for me.
Currently I’m the scoring composer on two TV series. Right now I’m polishing up episode 7 of “Hiccups” starring my pals Nancy Robertson and Brent Butt. It
And you guys all thought I was an atheist. Someone put a name on it and that’s what I am.
oh yes…at the Westin at 9 pm. Sort of secret show. We’re running the play. “A Good Weird Story”. If you like a good yarn and some rock n roll…come down. Ticket master has a few tickets.
Odds will be performing on top of the English Bay Bathouse (south foot of Denman in the West End) @ 8pm as part of the HSBC Celebration of Light. It’s China’s night to compete in the fireworks competition and its the last night for the summer.
Our performance will be webcast at shore104.com and also on the radio in Vancouver 104.1 FM.
Usually our blogs are fairly abstract but I will be straight with you…I think we may have entered the realm of musical theatre. I guess that is not so straight.
We wrote a “play” of sorts that involves an Odds concert. I would call it a thematic narrative with a multimedia presentation. There isn’t really much dance in it beside improvised rock reaction dancing but there is acting, singing, photography, film and the rest…oh…no ceramic art or puppetry.
I (Craig) took the script to Los Angeles and re-worked it with my friend Bruce McCulloch (with input from Kevin MacDonald et al). Jim Millan (director Kids in the Hall) helped us with the technical presentation side (with input from Dave Foley) and it’s now off and running.
We performed the piece on Vancouver Island last weekend and I must say it was thrilling. The “Good Weird Story” is autobiographical and comic and tragic. Feeling Greek. The reaction was incredible and we look forward to getting this thing to small local theatres near you. It will evolve as we go and we look forward to performing it as many times as we can in the future.
Many thanks go to Mike Renaud and Upper-Management, Ron Logan, Bruce, Kevin, Dave, Scott, Mark, Jim Millan, DKD, Paul Mercs Concerts, Gene Daniel, Norm Hiscock, Cindy Park, Gary Durban, Fred Horsman & AV Strategies, Andre Arsenault, Gary & Wendy Atkinson, Cathrine Irons, Scout, Jesse Valenzuela and family, Sheri Evans, Barbara Eddy, the Eagle, Sun FM, and the Wolf for making the development and debut of this thing possible.
Special mention goes to Dayna Howerchuck and Wendy Blankenship for travelling so far, seeing all the shows and throwing underwear on cue to make it our first “Rocky Horror” moment.
Tonight at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo. “Odds: In a Good Weird Story”. It’s the first night of our “play”. There are movies and pictures and some good laughs. Saturday at the Cowichan Theatre in Duncan. Sunday at the Tidemark in Campbell River.
I wrote this for Glenn Anderson’s glennsglobalgames.com site
I first met Glenn Anderson at a late night party in Toronto on March 20th 1994. He probably wouldn
We couldn’t go 6 seasons without being allowed to appear on our favourite show. The brilliant writers found a way to write us geeks into an episode.
February 9th on CTV in Canada. We don’t know when it airs in all the other countries but we will do some more research.
here’s the schedule http://www.cornergas.com/home/#sched
HI all. I know the site is extremely stale and that I never post gigs. Working on changing my ways.
I’m currently in Ottawa tonight with the little duo thing I do with Colin James….Centrepointe Theatre in Nepean.
Odds will be opening for our old pals the Gin Blossoms at the Red Robinson Theater in Coquitlam BC, Nov 14th at 8pm. It will be really fun.
We’ll also be on Shaw TVs “Urban Rush” on Nov 19th
I know I know…I will do something about it soon…but while we’re at it
Hello all you surfers and skippers. We..’ve put up two new ..’unreleased..’ songs on the myspace page. They are cover versions of great songs we loved from our teens in Vancouver. Murray was about 3 years old but the other three of us weren..’t. IN 1979 the Pointed Sticks released a tune called ..’The Real Thing..’ and Craig bought the 7..’ single at Quintessence records on 4th avenue. It changed his molecular structure. He was waiting all this time to pretend he was in the Pointed Sticks. In 1979 fifteen year-old Pat Steward rode a Greyhound bus to Vancouver carrying some of Texada Islands finest and somehow sat in with the Young Canadians in their rehearsal space and then trucked off to their gig with…the Pointed Sticks. That night they played a song called ..’Data Redux..’. Well…to be truthful…nobody can remember if they played that song but Craig later saw them play that song on a local cable access show called ..’Soundproof..’ (you can see that performance on youtube if you search hard enough) and he knew one day he would find Pat Steward, be in a band with him for 12 years, and then finally ask him to do “Data Redux”. Here you have the New Odds trying on these two songs to see how they fit so many years later. God and Dog bless the Pointed Stciks and Art Bergmann and the Young Canadians
Sometimes I write because I have the time and then I just see what comes out. Other times I am compelled by an idea. Generally I don
I haven’t updated here in awhile but I promise I haven’t been idle. See below! I hope to see a lot more of you all this year.
MapleCore and Kim Cooke hook up to launch Pheromone Recordings with the release of The New Odds’ Cheerleader
February 27, 2008
MapleCore President/CEO Grant Dexter and former MapleMusic Recordings General Manager Kim Cooke today announced the launch of Pheromone Recordings, a joint venture that will bring Kim’s musical selects to market using the resources of the Maplecore team, including promotion, publicity and marketing. Distribution will be handled by Maplecore’s Fontana North Distribution.
Kim: “My time as Maple’s GM was a tremendous experience and it’s great to maintain the association with my old friends who are a fantastic crew to work with. Onward into the brave new world that is the contemporary music business!”
Grant: “I’m thrilled to be continuing my musical relationship with the Cooker. We worked closely together at Maple, signing and nurturing some of Canada’s great artists, and I know that he’ll do the same at Pheromone.”
Kim again: “Craig Northey, Pat Steward and Doug Elliott are three of the finest musicians I have ever had the pleasure to know personally and work with professionally. With newcomer Murray Atkinson The New Odds have picked up where they left off. Cheerleader is a bracing power pop record full of stellar playing, whip – smart lyrics and the proverbial tackle box full of hooks. I’m honored for it to be the first Pheromone release. First single ‘My Happy Place’ drops in mid-March, and Cheerleader streets Tuesday May 20.”
The New Odds are managed by Parkside Mike Renaud’s Upper Management and booked by RAs Jeff Craib and Rob Wright for S.L. Feldman & Associates.
Listen to some New Odds music here: http://www.pheromonerecordings.com
What’s a Pheromone?? Wikipedia says:
“From the Greek pherin, to transport, and hormon, to stimulate. A chemical that triggers a natural behavioral response in another member of the same species.”
For further information re: Pheromone Recordings contact Kim Cooke at
What holiday? I’m a musician. Hope you are all snug in your beds and rolling around in gingerbread crumbs. Renewing bonds and enjoying each other…that is the way it should be.
Gift ideas: Go to theWorldvision site and see what you can do. There are ways to give on every level. Sponsor a child. Give to the world. Blow all your money on that. Your friends will understand and they definitely can’t gripe about it.
New Music picks: Dr.Dog “We All Belong” Park the Van Records
Recipes: brown sugar, butter, melt them in equal parts on the stove…eat it warm
News: working hard to finish “the New Odds” debut CD. We hope to have the radio song out there in January and the whole thing out to you in spring. We love it so we hope you will.
Dr.Dolittle could talk to the animals and that might be every child’s dream. Why was that just doing little?
It was a 10-minute walk to the park. Through the mountainous gray chicken coops and corridors of exhaust in the West End and onto the goose shit covered trail ringing Lost Lagoon. He saw things in these terms. Whatever was good about a place was erased by the dirty commerce at its core and the dandruff on its shoulders. When he got to the Lagoon he had like-minded company in the nasty geese. Branta Canadensis. They talked to him. In truth they were always yelling. That was the one animal in Stanley Park that had truly learned how to push the boundaries. He once saw a goose, dissatisfied with the fact that a toddler had no seed to feed him, push the child into the water. All it took was one bum’s rush. Gaggles had become mosh pits. The geese were the old punk rockers of the park and thus were just freeloaders when the commitment to anarchy had been finally neutered. Nihilists still need to eat but working for it is pointless. He guessed that this is what also happened to the hippies. They were back on Howe Street with new Hugo Boss threads, and every once in a while buying “red” products to soothe their battered consciences. Other old hippies lived in the park after dark and worked with only thought fragments, camp stoves and dirty hands. Other hippies hid in the suburbs and quietly invested in R.E.S.P.’s for their children. They drove what they considered to be practical and environmentally responsible cars. They recycled everything that the city told them they were allowed to recycle. They imbued their young with a “more realistic” sense of the democratic process and taught them how to cover their asses. These children of compromise were ten years ahead of the children of old-school punks as they headed into a work force filled with entry-level opportunities. Vancouver coffee shops struggled to find employees.
The man’s idealism painfully welled up inside him every morning and he walked to the park to lose himself in “almost nature”. He could relate to the animals that were almost wild. He found that, like the urban raccoon, he was living off the pocket change left over from the avails of prostitution. He guessed that the raccoons were far enough along in this evolution that the thought rarely crossed their tiny brains. They did not yearn to be truly wild because this lifestyle kept them alive much longer. Dark-age homo-erectus only lived to the age of thirty-five. Here in Vancouver you could make it to eighty-five through pure, animal cunning and a low stress level. There were free clinics and vitamin enriched food filled the dumpsters behind “the Bread Garden”. Stay off the crack and watch your back. He was also almost wild. He and the animals used the illusion of free will to marginally maintain their souls. They could do what they wanted as long as the mulching machine kept leaving scraps on its plough through the jungle.
Today he walked to the heart of the park. Ironically this was the site of the abandoned zoo. As a child his grandparents took him here to watch the penguins swim around in tiny left-hand circles or the polar bears rocking from foot to foot in the ritual repetitive movements so common to anxiety disorders. His grandparents called it “dancing”. Here teens could taunt a howler monkey into absolute tantrums or stare down a single clinically depressed Mandrill Baboon through a chain link curtain. The animals that didn’t seem too human were still here in the “Amazon” exhibit or the Aquarium. The backlash had been strong enough that a Vancouver compromise had come down. Reptiles, a few birds and all the sea creatures could stay. They had no cute mammalian faces. It was also decided that the whales wouldn’t be forced to do tricks on a regular schedule but would appear to do so of their own volition and because of their love for their trainers.
As a child he was most enthralled by the old men and women who sat on the zoo’s park benches and had the “wild” animals come to them. There was the “Pigeon Lady” and the “Squirrel Man”. Pigeon lady had at least two-dozen birds fluttering and strutting around her at all times. They would land on her shoulders and head and hands. Wherever she held food they would light. At times she almost wore them as clothing. The Squirrel Man would hold out peanuts in the shell and huge gray squirrels would run up, sit up on their haunches, and take them with their tiny paws. He could place peanuts on his knee or on the top of his head and the Squirrels would run up and grab them. The odd animal was comfortable enough to stop on his head and eat the nut right there.
If he stood close to the Pigeon Lady or the Squirrel Man the animals would allow him to do the same. On all his visits the scavenger messiahs would give him tips. Like any true professionals they were happy to share their secrets. They were happy to have the attention of wide-eyed youth. Stay very still. Think gentle thoughts. Always hold an open palm. The birds will land on an outstretched index finger if you wait long enough. Wear thick fabrics because you don’t want to react to the tiny pricks of talons or claws. A bird will not peck at your eyes or face. Squirrels don’t bite. Be patient. He copied the little “tasking” noise the Squirrel Man made by sucking little wisps of air through his teeth and tongue. The squirrels knew this meant, “Come here my friend I have food”.
Sciurus Carolinensis are the medium to large sized tree squirrels (8 to 10 inches long with a bushy, 6 to 8 inch long tail, weighing 500 to 600 grams). Colouration ranges from a dark to pale grey body with white to pale grey underbelly and tail. The Black Squirrels abundant around here are a melanistic phase of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. Between 1876 and 1929 a pair were accidentally released from the London Zoo and the North American variant has run rampant through Europe ever since. Currently they are destroying Scottish forests and meeting little resistance. Black squirrels were imported from Ontario to Vancouver’s Stanley Park Peninsula prior to 1914 and have since run amuck into the city, across to the North Shore and into the Fraser Valley. This big black species has driven out all the native chipmunks and smaller red squirrels. They are the pumped up Ninjas and beach bullies of the squirrel world. These black beauties are efficient climbers with tough curved claws, and the ability to reverse their hind foot 180 degrees to permit headfirst descent. Tails are used for balance when running and leaping between trees. He pondered the tails every day.
He had returned to this spot daily for the last eleven years, not really knowing why, and when Harold the original Squirrel Man fell on ill health and just disappeared he had become the Squirrel Man for this new generation. Although he didn’t understand them in scientific terms he had plenty of time to quietly observe their behaviour. Science was unimportant. He related to them and understood what they wanted from each other and from him. He was a catalyst for accelerated symbiosis with human kind. He was close enough to them that he could often see his curved reflection in the orbs of their shiny black eyes. He had bested old Harold’s trick of having the squirrels take the peanut shell from between his teeth. He had gained the animal’s confidence to such a degree that he could close his hands around their torsos and gently stroke the curling plume of their tails. He did this only once or twice and then placed them at his feet so they could either scurry away with a nut or hang around for more. Tourists oohed and ahhed as if watching gentle fireworks. It was impressive. Tourists loved the creatures and marveled at their perceived domestication. The squirrels were emboldened by this love and would just as easily sit up and beg for food at the feet of any passerby. Many of them would impatiently run right up a pant leg if the patrons were too slow in dropping the peanuts or popcorn. These antics were met with gales of laughter.
Another, less visible
, resident of the park was the common rat. Rattus Norvegicus. He saw them often but they were trying not to be seen. This place was perfect for them. Garbage cans were constantly full to the brim with old fries, popcorn, fruit and delicious condensed soda pop syrup. Other animals provided carrion, eggs and hatchlings for them to feast on and it was much better to sleep in the natural loam of the earth than in the attics of the West End condos. Leave that to the skunks and raccoons. If a tourist, or even a local, spied a rat their sensibilities were immediately offended. They were incredulous that, here on the edge of a giant sweaty city in a lush green park, rats might be lurking about. Wasn’t that just a given? What were these idiots thinking? What was the difference between these creatures and the seagulls, pigeons, crows and squirrels? All of them carried potential diseases. All could be potential pets. He bet that there were more pet rats than there were pet squirrels. He thought of his place in the order of things and realized he was not much different than the scavengers of the park. He was tied to the organism of the city but used his theoretical independence to give more meaning to his life. He understood that this was a conceit. He was no freer than the rat. The park’s visitors seemed to take their top of the food chain arrogance to heart. They were running their own shows. The yard could be well groomed and the pesticides and fumigators could make things just the way they should be in a civilized world. They were on holiday in a holiday destination and they were ready to rank this acreage out a scale of one to five stars. They would report back to their clubs and clans and cliques. Fuck them. He began to take umbrage. The anarchist spirit at the root of his malaise began to stir his guts. How could he be of use? How could he punch the Buddha in the face when he saw him on the road?
That night he went into the park at a time even the squirrels were not expecting. He brought plenty of nuts, a Mountain Equipment Co-op battery powered headlamp and a mint blue Phillips “Phillishave” HQ 6863 electric razor with sideburn trimmer. The creatures were happy to see him, as he had made sure not to feed them during the daytime. Any extra inconvenience on their part was easier to overlook in the face of hunger.
The next morning he approached his park bench with a permanent smile and some nervous excitement. He sat slowly and his animal friends began to arrive. As the tourists started to filter in the reaction began to build. At first one blood curdling scream and then a hailstorm of rhythmic shrieks and wails from all directions. It appeared just as he hoped it would appear. A man covered in huge black rats with legions of rat followers waiting at his feet. A few rogue rats begged at the feet of the visitors and all hell broke loose when the first one ran up a pant leg. They had needed the balance of the bushy tail to climb and to leap but they didn’t need that balance for the easy pickings handed out by the Squirrel Man. Dr. Dolittle indeed.
It was easier for the man to see the city on foot. He got his exercise and threaded his way through the hustle and flow of the city. There is no better way to connect. Halifax harbour was vivid and almost regal in today
Things I’m up to:
- The show with Jeremy Fisher @ the Commodore was so much fun for everyone that Pat Steward & I have been asked to do more of the same. There is some clandestine footage at this address.
Jeremy Fisher & his Tourettes will be seen on the Craig Ferguson Show August 2oth or 21st…not sure which right now…and at an unamed LA location on the 21st.
- the Colin James & Craig Northey dates are shaping up so I’ll have those for you soon. Sorry to all yuo who have asked about specifics. I will be with the Colin James band for the Thunder Bay Blues fest July 7 and in Morden MB on August 24th.
- the reason I can’t do Colin’s July dates is that I am in Montreal @ “Just For Laughs” with Kevin MacDonald’s “Hammy & the Kids” show and with the “Kids in the Hall”
- Crystal Zevon has recently published an excellent book about the life of one of my friends and mentors Warren Zevon. I will be talking a bit about Warren on Greg Godovitz’s Toronto radio show “Rock Talk” July 7th. Newstalk 1010 CFRB is where it will be…I think it is 7pm but I would check into it using your web skills.
I’ve put up my blanket gig schedule in the “performances” section. The fall looks varied and exciting. I thought I’d give you a “heads-up” bulletin for this week.
June 21, 2007 – Jeremy Fisher @ the Commodore
I will be playing bass and singing with Jeremy Fisher as he opens for O.A.R. at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom. Pat Steward is on drums. Jeremy is amazing. Use the internet (youtube is good) to check him out.
Dirty creatures. Wasps, ants, cockroaches, and rats. Stinging nettles, poison ivy, bracken and milfoil. Mudshark, bullhead, leach, jellyfish and the red tide. Rub you the wrong way. Other species key in on you. Rat steals the starling’s egg and scurries into the thorny brush. Starling has no recourse but to scream from her nest in the eaves. Pest on pest violence. The rat emerges out the other side and, with wisps of yolk on his black whiskers, squeezes under the tight chain link diamond onto the wide litter strewn easement by the shoulder of the throbbing expressway. The grayish dirty gravel is warm and rubbery. The rat raises his forelegs up to sniff the ether of petroleum exhaust. Bang. The young eagle hits then is up flying low over the traffic with the heavy rat still wiggling in its talons. Fifteen crows explode up like a gothic firework and tail him in wide formation. Catastrophe has a shape. Cop cars on the O.J. white Bronco. They want in on the action but nobody knows what to do just yet. Badass alpha being demands respect. The eagle lights on top of a telephone pole on the far side of the highway. He keeps the rat pinned down and takes a moment to calmly scan the horizon. The crows settle quickly on the adjacent wires. Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. In the middle an intensely distant gaze. Mythical beauty rests in stark contrast to the mundane and polluted surroundings. Ice white crown, bright yellow eyes and piston hard, bible black feathers. Top feeder on bottom feeder. We are repulsed by one and revere the other. The power differential between the two beings is so great that the eagle projects no sense of effort while the large rat reads the exact opposite way. The rat is an odyssey of struggle condensed to the “Coles Notes” version. He knows that something has pierced him clean through and severed something necessary to life. Consciousness has taken a sharp turn. The jig is up. The coup de gras comes quickly as the bird pecks downward between its feet with a partially opened beak. The hooked upper portion is through the rat’s skull and into its cerebral cortex then back up and out faster than any man could ever punch or any horse could ever kick. It is so fast that the motion almost never happened. What later falls to the thorny bracken below is for the crows, ants and wasps. The starling finds a thin, clean, rat rib bone and takes it back to shore up its nest. Dirty creatures
The matted old cat has cancer. Four years past his fighting form there is less drama. At 17 he sleeps a lot, shits and pisses where he wants and smells a little like a teenager’s room. He no longer has the teeth for mousing. His defective thyroid used to make him a highly motivated killer and now he just mewls like a baby for more geriatric formula spooned from a can. He’s no longer packing heat. Mice and rats, emboldened by his soporific state, poke around the fringes of the yard and only care slightly that anyone is watching. The sun is shining and it is compost season. Plenty to eat and what to fear? Eagles and owls circle the sky miles away and coyotes stay out of the fenced in yard. The dog is a joke. The squirrels unwittingly run interference and the dog’s obsession with them ensures she remains oblivious to their increasing numbers. They breed like a clich
Baffled by musicals. Breaking from dialog into narrative song. Barely supporting a bizarre and oversimplified plot line. Opera cooked up in a garage meth lab by sentimental scientists already stoned on the fumes. All glitter and clich
Had to get over out of the house fast. The dog wanted to go with me. She always does. There was a cup of coffee in my hand and it was in a nice cup. I guess you could call it my favourite mug. It was leave of be late so I took it with me and started walking. I finished the coffee somewhere above the highway on the pedestrian overpass. The dog was ahead of me and I watched her wagging tail disappear down the shortcut that all dogs know on the other side. No people can get through it but dogs can cut the corner and meet you on the other side of the hedge. I couldn
Long time no clicky clacky of keys. Here is a really unimaginative diary style info newsletter. I much prefer to go outside but I figured I better let people know what was up.
Doug Elliott, Pat Steward and I have been having seven ton of fun lately. We attended the Barenaked Ladies
OK I know. I have been busy with home life and writing a record with my pals. I have a lot of pals but I guess these are the original pals. Pat Steward, Doug Elliott and I are almost ready to record an album. We’ve written it together in the old fashioned way and we’re trying to play some low key shows and try the stuff out. Last week we played a benefit at Vancouver’s Media Club and a few of you saw/heard it. I must say that we had a blast. Over way too fast. New material makes the set go faster for the performers and probably slower for the listeners who want to hear the old stuff.
I’ve put up a bunch of new shows. Colin James & I have decided to go and play a bunch of our songs with just two acoustic guitars (Ok…we’re bringing some other guitars too) in smaller theatres around the province. It will give us a chance to write for the album after the album that Colin has out now. Good squirrels salt nuts away this time of year.
What I am listening to right now: Tragically Hip “World Container” over and over and over.
I found this today and ejoyed it a lot. Tought I’d share it. It was by a gentleman using the handle “silverjew” and it was a review of the Odds album “Bedbugs”. I tried to write to him but just left a message on the message board of his music rating service. I remembered that as a kid I gave up on Kiss for awhile because I figured they’d sold out. That’s called REALLY missing the context. I also remember hating the Beach Boys and AC/DC for a time because people who liked them also liked to beat up on people like me. I have loved those bands with all my heart ever since escaping the grip of my resentment.
“Pure pop fun and weird humour from Canada’s Odds. Sure, a lot of us hate these minstrels. But I can’t help singing along. To put things in more of a perspective, the first concert I ever went to was performed by the Odds. It was during Red Deer, Alberta, Canada’s annual Westerner Days festival which includes rides and games and concerts by more-or-less local musicians. I remember watching RDTV News when they were recapping the scheduled artists for that years festival and the dude in front of the microphone commented on how he’d never heard of the Odds but his young daughter was really excited about seeing them. The Odds had already released 4 albums at this stage of their career (the second being Bedbugs, which is the first one of their albums I’ve ever heard) and being an impressionable youth I’d already gone through my phases of liking the Odds and then disliking the Odds as their popularity grew (it wasn’t cool to like the same bands that 14-year old girls liked). Going to the Red Deer Centrium to see the Odds play live never crossed my mind until Colin phoned me up a few hours before the show and asked if I wanted to go. He had some free tickets (all the second-deck tickets were free, the first deck tickets were $10 and the floor seats were $20… “why would anyone pay to see a free concert by the Odds,” I though) so the two of us went, maybe to heckle… we weren’t sure yet. I seamed like a lot of the people in our section went to the concert for the same reasons (or lack of reasons) that we did. There was some heckling, some laughing, but over the course of the show we all realised that the Odds were putting on a very very good show with a lot of humour and band-fan interaction and we got to enjoy it all for free. It was at this point that I became a closet Odds fan (so to recap, I went from flagrant Odds fan to vocal Odds opponent to closet Odds fan) that would quietly cheer when one of their songs came on the radio. I lived in this shroud of secrecy until i was in my 20s and re-bought my first Odds album with the intention of letting the world know (years after the Odds broke up, however) that I’m no longer ashamed of enjoying the Odds’ brand of pop rock. To be continued with my review of Good Weird Feeling”
I’m Sorry teacher. There was nothing exciting happening in the traditional sense of the words “exciting happening”. I left the internet alone for a while because it was busy with so many other people and didn’t notice that I left. I did steal a week with the family in our traditional summer spot. I worked, tended the garden of my genetic code and wrote and thought. I thought about things like time and space and faith and death and comedians of the past and arsonists and planets and how dogs think and luck and loyalty and cool old guitars and reinvention and sex and what love does to it and hockey and global warming and why the car keeps breaking and where I will get money from next time and music and death again and how an age old fable about a messiah can make us kill and die and kill ourselves and why animals don’t commit suicide like people do and whether that was why they staged that whole thing about the lemmings to make our behaviour make sense in the natural order and people’s glory days and the glory days of empires and the end of the petroleum years and breaking hearts and the whole concept of closure and virtuosity vs naive energy and “coffee: friend or health risk” and fitting all you want to do into the life you have created and the time you have left and whether that matters and can you care about that and is graffiti art where nobody wants you to put it or is it art at all when its says “ride bikes stoned” and is vandalism then the voice of the people who don’t know what to say but want to seem cool to the person beside them and do vandals ever work alone and does the damage they do create good shadenfreuden for them later or do they get what they want from the act alone and why isn’t there an English word for enjoying the sadness of others because we really enjoy that kind of entertainment over here and you can see it in the People magazine by page 3 when a supermodel is seen picking her nose and still there are no pictures of the Pope on the toilet and how much will the paparazzi get for that one and isnt the idea of a pope a scary one and did they make the Vatican’s doors any higher so he could get through them with that dunce cap and what ever happened to the idea of humiliation through the dunce cap and why do we constantly read books about African animals to toddlers and most of them will never even see a wild one in their lifetime or a choo choo train because they are extinct or almost extinct or a long way away where we are just learning to actually care about the people who live in those places just before we allow them to become extinct and how lucky we all are.
So that’s what I’ve been doing and I think I’ll keep it up because I don’t know how to stop and I don’t know when I started.
Hi everybody. One of those interesting cul de sacs of my weird career. I will be performing, with the others in Sharkskin (no Pat Steward but the great Shawn Soucy on drums), as part of Cheech Marin’s band for his performance in Vancouver tomorrow night.
It’s billed as “Cheech Marin & Friends” and Cheech will be hosting 5 Mexican American comics. In there we will perform 5 of his greatest hits from his days with West Vancouver’s own Tommy Chong (Tommy won’t be there).
You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking. YES!! I GET TO PLAY THE GUITAR PART FOR “EARACHE MY EYE” WITH THE MAN HIMSELF!!!
…I am very excited. “The Wedding Album” is practically committed to memory already. hey…I grew up in Port Moody in the 70′s. Hope somebody bootlegs this performance. One of you better sneak in the tape recorder.
River Rock Show Theatre, Richmond, BC
Sat, Jul 29, 2006 08:00 PM
If you go over to my myspace site I’ve put up a live board tape of “Old Mistakes” recorded at the Glossie awards in 2005. This is a fake movie awards show held at the Commodore Ballroom in conjunction with the Vancouver Comedy Festival. Mike Norman did the horn arrangement. Its a full 6 piece section and I’d never played with any of the musicians before…except Steve Hilliam on one of the tenor saxes. Its a bit of a pitchy vocal performance but I’ll probably never do a version like this again so…here you go.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage invites you to join the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and thousands of fellow Canadians for a fun and lively street party on Parliament Hill. Join the fun from Noon to 1:30 pm on Saturday July 1st in Ottawa. This year
Tim Der has put some cherished moments from CBC’s “Hockeyville” up on his Odds site. Stripper’s Union. Shaye. Pat’s happy leprechaun dance.
Lyric changes to “Shake it Off” were inspired by Brent Butt.
You can catch me performing with Colin James live on Parliament Hill for Canada’s July 1st celebrations. CBC will broadcast a few songs at noon that day. If Steven Harper gets close enough to my Vox AC-30 maybe I can blow that vintage Bobby Orr dry look rug into a nice Don King.
Strippers Union will perform “Shake It Off (Walking With the King of Funk)” on CBC’s Hockeyville, Sunday June 11th. This is the final episode.
“Shaye” will also be there to perform a song written by CN with the “Hounds of the Hockeyvilles” house band.
You’ll see CN performing on CBC’s Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. He’ll be standing besdie Colin James.
Sorry everyone. Three things happened to bring down my site for awhile.
1. Sabotage at the hands of spammers who attack the comments sections of sites and fill them up with porn.
2. Massive downloads of the picture of Rob Baker as a supermodel. Its also available at strippersunion.ca if you want it.
3. I was featured on the myspace home page and that led to a lot of traffic.
Jesse & I wrote this while we were out on that little tour. I took it from his myspace page. Today is Pat Stewrad’s birthday:
Current mood: accomplished
We just finished this sweet little tour. Craig, Darryl and I are sitting in a Hotel room at 1:30 a.m. after finishing a show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
As I write, the boys are enraptured by “A Star is Born” I’m talkin’ the Babs Streisand version. The movie was cut in Tempe,Az when I was a kid. And I remember riding my bike with my cousin Jimmy to see them setting up the big concert at Sun Devil Stadium. We never did see Kris Kristofferson or Peter Frampton but we did keep vigil.
Anyways, the tour was great and we had a beautiful reception everywhere we played. I only wish we had another week of shows.
It was fantastic seeing you all at the shows. Keep an eye for some pictures of the tour I will post here on the site.
Craig Northey writes:s
This is our first “co-blog”. I’m amazed it took this long. As Jesse’s hotel room gradually turns into a scene from LA’s Hyatt House (Riot House) circa ’91, we reflect on the composure provided by our collective veteran chops. Tonight we played Pughkeepsie’s legendary “Chance Theatre”. To coax us into enlightenment we were booked between two modern rock volume titans. Armed with two acoustic guitars, “bad uncle” attitudes and relaxed hairdos we chuckled our way to accidental victory. That’s the way the best gigs go. I’m not being ribbed for this loss to Switzerland (dying on the foam rubber sword) but neither of these guys really cares about the Olympics. They only use these things to tease. They are teasers. Pro teasers. ….they tease. We’d like to thank the Rembrandts for being such fine hosts and sympathizers — Phil, Danny, Dave & Jason.
Jesse and I are now starting our 2-man luge training and watch for us in 2010. We’ll be burning up the walls of ice and setting world’s records for the loudest sled.
JESSE WRITES: Our cue music will be “BAD TO THE BONE”
DARRYL writes: Can’t we all just love each other?
CRAIG WRITES: I was hoping for “Lick It Up” by “the KISS”. …is that too, “on the money”?
JESSE WRITES: I think that would be ok. But “Eye of the Tiger” could work too.
DARRYL WRITES: Can’t we all just love each other? (Taking another hit…)
CRAIG writes: (after throwing a beer bottle off the second story window and narrowly missing a squirrel) Darryl…do we have any more peanut butter cups?
You can see why we have to go.
Love, Jesse, Craig and Darry
We had a little birthday show in Kingston Ontario for our fearless leader R. Baker. It wasn’t well publicized because we all know what happened to the Who in Cincinnati. Wouldn’t want that to happen as throngs rushed madly into the tiny Elixir Bar. Yes…yes…facetious. It happened on Easter Monday. There were a few posters up and someone ran a little ad in the local paper (the old fashioned way). The band were all there including Steve Hilliam on sax and Terry Townson on trumpet. Gord Sinclair played bass WITH Doug on a couple of numbers and it was fantastic. Very James Brown. We played the whole album and Tom Wilson also got up to do a hit song he wrote with Colin James called