Friday, 24 February 2012

Near Death Experience

Dear Mr. Philips,
The boy was not at school yesterday as he was suffering from a variety of ailments and quite frankly, from the symptoms he described to us, we are lucky he is still alive. What started as a simple stomach ache upon waking had, by breakfast, quickly evolved into a rare form of malaria. Imagine our horror.

We understand you are studying diseases in class and thankfully, our son was able to recognize the symptoms and relate them to us. Apparently, this is not the kind of malaria transmitted by mosquitoes, but a more peculiar form that he thinks he picked up from the drinking fountain or maybe from tainted vegetables. We have to commend our son on his bravery throughout this ordeal though. He was eager to get to school but warned us he would be endangering the lives of others as it is apparently a highly contagious disease, so we were forced to keep him home.

He did mention that his science project was due yesterday and he feared he would be unable to work on it due to the painful hand cramps he was suffering. Our son thought this was most likely a type of rapid onset polio. He was unable to grip small objects like a pen or pencil, but strangely enough he could still hang on to larger items such as the T.V. remote and video game controls.

His mother informed him if he had come down with malaria and some sort of crippling polio that he would have to spend the day in bed reading and not in front of the T.V.
Unfortunately at this moment, he nearly lost sight in both eyes, which he attributes to a possible case of 24 hour glaucoma. Can you believe it? Stricken nearly blind on top of the malaria and polio?

We were also most concerned about the severe nausea that was preventing him from eating. His mother suggested he could combat his ailments with fruits and vegetables, but he felt he would be unable to keep anything down except perhaps pancakes and maple syrup. To make matters worse, the poor little guy was too sick to walk at this point and declared he would need to be served in bed. Mother was quite worried and said it would be best if he ate nothing at all lest he should throw up in bed. Imagine our relief when he declared the nausea gone after managing a brutal fast of nearly thirty minutes.

The boy was placed in quarantine in his bedroom until lunch when, thankfully his vision miraculously returned. At this point, the cramps also disappeared and he was able to work on his science project for the remainder of the day. He seems right as rain today, but if any symptoms of malaria, polio or glaucoma appear, please feel free to give us a call. In the future, it may be wise to warn us when large projects are due so that we can avoid another near death experience.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Top 10 Albums it's Okay to Like Again

1. Cat Stevens – greatest hits
You’re sitting around the campfire at camp Whatsamucky or wherever your parents could afford to send you and some dude pulls out a guitar and teaches everyone the words to Moonshadow and Morning Has Broken. Then when you got home from camp, you bought your first copy of Cat Stevens Greatest Hits. Maybe you replaced it later on with a CD or maybe you just outgrew it, but it just kind of fell off the radar, am I right? That is until you heard Maxi Priest doing a reggae cover of Wild World and your memory was jarred. “I used to have that album” you said to yourself, then forgot about it again. Well there’s a reason that people have been singing Cat Stevens songs around campfires all over the world for the past thirty five years. They’re catchy, they’re easy to sing and I’ll be damned if they aren’t pretty good songs. Do yourself a favour and load the Cat’s greatest hits on your iPod before campfire season. Your kids will thank you when they go to camp already knowing the words to Moonshadow.

2. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
If you are anywhere near my age, it is inevitable that you couldn’t get away from this album from its inception in 1977 to 1990 when it finally started to run its course. Every high school party, dance, fall fair and rodeo had this blasting from the speakers and you knew all the words. Trust, me, you still do. It’s deep in the recesses of your memory, and it’s okay. You, like the rest of us, didn’t stand a chance.
When I graduated from university, there were two things I vowed I would never have anything to do with again. The first was Kraft Dinner, and the other was the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours. I’m here to tell you that I have recently begun to eat KD again and you guessed it…I have Rumours on the iPod.
Lindsey Buckingham was the catalyst for this. I heard him playing a solo version of Never Going Back Again and I fell in love with that song again. His contribution to the record was monstrous to say the least and the addition of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie rounded things out nicely. I can’t say too much about the songs because presumably you’ve heard them and know they speak for themselves.
It might be time to let of your high school saturation trauma and give this one another chance.

3. Pearl Jam – 10
I’m not suggesting you ever harbored a dislike for this album, but I might be suggesting you have been ignoring it for what…12 or 15 years? Sure, you loved it to death when it came out in ‘91 and you kept in steady rotation until 1995 but then what? Along came Dave Matthews and Radiohead and maybe, just maybe it got moved to the bottom of the pile and you just accidently forgot about it. Well it’s time to rotate the stock people. Go to your storage bin and see if the actual CD is still in its case. Dust it off, fire it in the machine, crank it up to 11 and revel in the glory of what we used to call grunge!

4. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite
Shhhh, shhhh, I know, I know, it’s okay. Bad mushroom trip from college be gone.
 Pocket full of Kryptonite was a grooving, dancey, at times cheesey, fun time record that kept dorm parties moving back in the early nineties. For whatever reason though, the Spin Doctors went from zero to sixty and back to zero in about three minutes. If you look at the tracks on this one, the good outweigh the bad, and admit it… deep down, if you heard Jimmy Olsen’s Blues or Little Miss Can’t be Wrong in the car, you’d be boppin’ your head like it was frosh week.
 In case you can’t recall, a few other titles from this one are: Two Princes, Shinbone Alley, What Time is it, and Forty or Fifty.

5. The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
Start me up. If you can get past that, this album is full of awesome Stonesy goodness. The reason? The album came out in 1981, but most of the material was conceived on the tail edge of the bands creative heyday in the mid to late seventies. There are songs that are cast offs from Goats Head Soup, Emotional Rescue and Some Girls. A cast off from Some Girls is still better than anything from side two of post 1981 Stones, so if you have a copy of this anywhere, get to listenin’. Side one is all vintage Stones, highlighted with Keith ripping it up on Little T & A. Side two is filled with some pretty good ballads including Waiting on a Friend and Tops.

6. Steve Miller Band – Greatest Hits 1974-1978
Once again, we are seeing the Fleetwood Mac syndrome here. Overplayed, overplayed and overplayed. Don’t hate because some jerk in grade 11 wouldn’t let you near the stereo and played this 47 times in a row. All great songs in their own right, these Classic Rock radio staples show astounding longevity. The next time you’re cooking dinner, throw this on and listen to it start to finish. You’ll have a beer, sing along and have a jolly old time, trust me.  If nothing else, your kids will love to hear you belt out “I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker.”

7. Huey Lewis and the news - Sports
Okay, okay calm down… I know this one is a tough pill to swallow. You’re thinking this is wedding dance material and you’re right. I never strongly liked nor disliked this back in the day, I just kind of nodded as they released hit after hit from this one record. “Oh, another single from Sports?”  Cue mild indifference. If you look at the tracks on this however, it is a pretty damn good piece of work. What makes it is the catchy hooks, great singing, great harmonies all backed up by an above average bar band.
 I know you likely don’t have this anywhere is your collection so let me refresh your memory: The Heart of Rock and Roll, I  Want a New Drug, If This is It, Heart and Soul and Walking on a Thin Line. Recognize any of those? Nowadays, if you can get one top ten from a piece of work, you’re doing pretty well. These guys had four in the top ten and another in the top twenty, finishing only behind Thriller in 1984. I suspect Huey and the boys will be living off royalties from this one for years to come.

8. The Police – Synchronicity
The Police were the biggest thing on the planet when this came out. Sting knocked it out of the park and nothing he did solo-wise after can really compare. The thing with the Police is that maybe you stopped listening because you thought they sounded dated. They didn’t though. It’s an illusion created because there is nothing like them, nor will there ever be. It’s kind of like saying Johnny Cash or Buddy Holly is dated. Yes it’s old stuff but it is unique and still being ripped off today.
When you hear some kid rapping along to Puffie’s  I’ll be Missin’ You” you be sure to sit them down and give them a stern talking to. You tell him or her that the song is called Every Breath You Take, and it can be found on Synchronicity, which is an album by a band called The Police. You tell them. You tell them for me.

9. The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and The Eagles - Greatest Hits, Volume 2
Okay, this one is a tie because both albums are chock full of that smooth seventies, easy listenin’, cowboy rock. I’m not certain that’s a real genre, but it seems to encompass most of what makes up the Eagles sound. I know you’ve heard every song on these two beauties and it may be a love-hate relationship. You have to reconcile that fact that you are walking the fine line between adult contemporary and whatever the Eagles are. Sure you can go into a supermarket and hear Hotel California being piped in, but you can also crank that one up in your car and rock out. How about the Hunter S. Thompson-esque Life in the Fast lane for an account of a cocaine fueled ride through the desert in the middle of the night?  The fabulous harmonies on the live version of Seven Bridges Road? It’s a pretty stacked list when you consider it. The Long Run, Take it Easy, Peaceful Easy Feelin’ and more. Many, many more. It’s okay to like the Eagles…they’ve earned it.

10. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
You own it. You just don’t listen to it. It’s a proven fact that every household from Santiago to Whitehorse has a copy of Dark Side of the Moon somewhere. If not, then your uncle Jimmy has an extra one for you. The hype around this record was that it stayed on the charts longer than anything else ever has. You might not be listening as a protest to that fact. However, it’s coming up on the forty year anniversary so it may be time to re-wire your brain. I suggest putting this through a good pair of headphones and listen while lying on your back on the floor. Some suggest this might sound better in an altered state, but I can’t advise one way or another.
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Teachers Lounge

Teachers lounge – September 7th.
Davis: Did you get your picks in for the pool yet? Deadline is tomorrow you know.
Black: Almost. I’m just having some trouble with a few categories.
Davis: Relax, it’s only your second year teaching. I’ve been here 17 years and I’m still guessing at a lot of them. Read me your list and maybe I can give you a few tips.
Black: Really?  Wow thanks. Okay…well let’s see… I’ve got the usual suspects for top of the honour roll. Chen, Zhou, Chattopadhyay and Steeves.
Davis: Billy Zhou…coming into ninth grade?
Black: Yep. His sister graduated with a 98% average last year. An easy five points.
Davis: Okay, that’s your first mistake. Never take a ninth grader based on their sibling’s accomplishments, even if they are Asian. We had a kid in here about six or seven years ago – finished with a 99% average. Brother showed up the next year and couldn’t even tie his shoelaces. I had to trade him at the deadline and it likely cost me first place. You get rid of him now and it’s not an illegal substitution.
Black: Got it. Um…okay I have Morgan, Reed and Gravelle for worst average.
Davis: Smart. Reed and Gravelle each only got one credit last year and they hang out together so they’ll drag each other down. You have to watch Morgan though. He’s a smart bugger so if he decides to turn it on you’re sunk. Its only two points for that category, so it won’t kill you.
Black: Right. Okay, then I have James Cryderman in the consecutive shirt category.
Davis: Cryderman is a solid choice. He wore that Iron Maiden shirt 18 days in a row last year.
Black: Wow, you are a stats man for sure!
Davis: You don’t get to be a six time pool winner by luck my boy. Tell me what you’ve got in the big categories. That’s where you make up real ground.
Black: I have Darla Richie for vomiting at the dance – 5 points, and I put her down for vomiting on a police officer at the dance – 10 points.
Davis: Rookie mistake. Never take the same kid for dance infractions two years in a row. They usually learn their lesson and clean it up the next year.
Black: Really? I heard she chugged half a bottle of Peach Schnapps this summer at the harbor festival. My neighbor Elaine saw her barfing into a garbage can in the women’s washroom.
Davis: There you go! That’s great intel. I stand corrected….stick with Darla.
Black: Then I took Jenny Riggs for most boyfriends. She was on fire last year.
Davis: That’s a no-brainer. She dated 16 guys last year. That’s actually the most since the legendary Carrie Fitzgerald back in ’92.
Black: Now I realize Mitch Bartson was in a bit of a slump at the end of last year, but I think he’ll take most girlfriends.
Davis: Not a bad choice. If he gets that acne cleaned up he could bounce back.
Black: I’m worried about this “coming out” category. I got killed on that one last year.
Davis: Right, I remember you took Stratton.
Black: Well he started wearing all that eyeliner and nail polish.
Davis: Don’t mistake the Goths and Emos for sexual orientation. Stratton just likes to shock people. In grade nine he wore a kilt all of September and a three piece suit to gym class. He’s nuts.
Black: You see…that’s exactly the kind of background dirt I need.
Davis: Don’t forget, you get one mulligan every year. You want to save that for an injury, a drop out or just a fluke incident.
Black: Right… I remember you took yours last year when Dennis Demiglio stole Wilbert’s car out of the parking lot and had to go back to juvenile. You had him for most classes skipped?
Davis: I would have won too. He was on a 32 day streak.
Black: I had to use my mulligan when I picked Jenkins for Honour Roll and then she went to Peru for mission work at winter break and got malaria.
Davis: Hey, we all had Jenkins. That was just a bad break.
Black: That’s pretty much it except for the one point categories.  Oh and this one - swearing at a teacher. I still don’t get that one.
Davis: It’s two points for any use of profanity against a teacher without incitement or provocation. That’s why Mrs. Breck had to forfeit last year. She was calling kids out, pushing their buttons. You know, just generally getting under their skin until they would blow up and swear at her.
Black: She’s a sly one that old gal.
Davis: Oh she was good, just took it a bit too far. Now just keep this last one under your hat. I haven’t seen him yet, but I heard Wilkes got his braces off and he shot up about 4 inches. Good looking boy.
Black: You sir, are the master.
Davis:  I am the master.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Texas Meets the Voodoo Child

Texas Meets the Voodoo Child                                                          © Ian McEwen

The Voodoo Child tried to watch from what he had always assumed was above. The problem was the shrouded mist that lay between him and the mortal souls awaiting their time, and goddamn if he could never quite see clearly through it. In actuality his vantage point was from more of a “sideways” but that is neither here nor there. The thing that had nearly driven him mad was that he could no longer play.
Don’t get me wrong... he’d tried to play, but not all cylinders were firing, if you get my drift. His hands had adopted a weird translucent quality and they wouldn’t grasp the guitar just right. When he strummed, the strings became gelatinous fibers that would stretch like elastic bands. And the sound….oh lord, the sound was something hideous that reverberated mercilessly in his ears and took days to subside. Eventually he just gave up and concentrated on listening to the strained sounds of music from below. Fragments of a piece here, a stanza there and then maybe several bars of the chorus from something else. Some days were clearer and he would hear a song in its entirety but more times than not, sounds existed in ethereal odds and ends like a disjointed mish mash of noise. It was as though some maniac had his hand on the dial of the radio and would give it a good spin every twenty seconds or so, while playing with the volume knob with his other hand. One day, as clear as a bell, he heard Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” in its entirety which lifted his spirits for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, he heard nothing but static for weeks after and plunged into a deep depression.
The day everything changed, he almost missed it. He was trying to listen but kept losing his focus and nodding off.  Nodding off may not be the right term because he was sure he never really slept but rather existed in a state of constant drowsiness. He wasn’t quite tired and he wasn’t quite alert and that was that. He had lost track of time.  Like really lost track man. Not just of hours and minutes but days, months and whole years. The lights never went out here so it was pretty tough to maintain any sense of time.
He figured it might have been around 1982 or 1983 when his ear caught the unmistakable sound of that riff. He recognized it as his own instantly, one that he had written back in the day, but this was a different beast altogether. It was still low down and dirty but something about it was unique. If it was played just right, it was the kind of riff that made you clench your teeth and sent a shiver down your spine, and he knew whoever was attacking it now was doing it up right. He likened it to teetering on the edge of a cliff just as that falling feeling catches you in the guts. It was part bliss and part suffering and it sometimes left carnage in its wake. If you did it right you were borderline out of control, but you never let the train leap off the tracks.
What he heard now was giving him the chill in a new way, like biting through an electrical cord the same time the junk hits your veins. The chill was an old term of his. It was a feeling he had often had when he knew he had just played something he had no business playing. Something that was physically impossible for all but maybe one or two others, and could have been written by no one but himself. Curious, he looked through the layers of mist like a drunk peering through the bottom of his empty beer glass. Everything was still swimming and blurry. The sound was strong now but the visibility was as poor as shit. Then for a brief moment the stars must have aligned because he had a clear sightline into a dirty studio.
“Well I’ll be God damned” he thought, if that wasn’t a white boy tearing his song a new one. He knew that hundreds, no thousands, of people had tried to capture the groove but no one had really succeeded like this kid was doing now. There was a vibe coming off him separating him from the countless other imitators. That was a plus about being here. If you could lock into someone for a moment, you could reach into their soul for a moment or two. For almost a minute, he was treated to the full sonic assault with such clarity it was like they were in the same room together. Then without warning, a cold blackness reached out across the divide and placed an icy hand over his heart. The kid started oozing death vibes from deep within like a dark oil slick. The Voodoo Child closed his eyes hard, more as an afterthought because the writing was already on the wall and it wasn’t pretty. Somewhere down the line, this kid was in deep shit.
The sound suddenly went beyond full volume and he had to cover his ears as the music deteriorated into screeching. His vision faded and he was left with nothing but a ringing in his ears and a heart so heavy he couldn’t bear to move. He sat, for a good long while and tried to release some of the anguish he had just absorbed. He thought his ears to be bleeding but of course that was impossible. He hadn’t been sick a day since he arrived and he hadn’t gotten any older, so he was pretty sure he was immune to physical harm, even bleeding from the ears.
The discovery of this kindred spirit haunted him for weeks afterwards. His curiosity was piqued and he remained vigilant in his search to hear more, but the kid remained elusive. Hell, he was hardly a kid, but when you’ve been in stasis for so many years, even the thirty-something’s start to look like young’uns. Over the years he would occasionally catch snippets of a song darting through the air like a hummingbird, pausing only long enough for him to identify them as coming from his phantom player. He had a sound. That put him into a rare class wherein he could be identified by playing three notes or less. Pretty elite company when you think about it. The Voodoo Child had taken to calling him Texas after their first encounter because he knew instinctively, as sure as he knew anything, that that was the kid’s homeland.
Texas had been marked by the black hand of death way back on that day. The grip tightened and came back one day to finish the job in the year of 1990. The Voodoo Child wasn’t sure of the specifics but that seemed to be the right year. From his vantage point, the details were sketchy. There was a thick fog on the ground that night which made the possibility of seeing real slim. He knew there had been a terrible accident, likely involving a helicopter. He knew without a trace of doubt that there were no survivors just as he knew he would be running into his old friend this night. Death had revealed itself as an ugly, violent sort that stole the life from a vibrant soul who had defeated his other demons only to meet his end in a helicopter crash.
The Voodoo Child wasn’t sure when he would appear. He had seen others come and go but he had paid them no mind, and mostly kept to himself. Usually they just sort of materialized with a confused look on their faces and began asking him questions as though he were the maitre d’.  He rarely spoke to anyone and they eventually just wandered off, not to be seen again. As he suspected, things would be different this time, and they were indeed. He spotted Texas walking towards him, pale and faded, almost as if he were trying to appear but couldn’t quite get it together. The closer he got, the more solid looking he became and let me tell you folks, he was walking with purpose. He looked like a gunslinger without the guns. Boots, hat, poncho and guitar slung across his back. Within moments he stood face to face with the Voodoo Chile, his mouth slightly open, panting for breath.
The Voodoo Child looked into the eyes of the man who had channeled his very soul.
            “I thought maybe you were coming brother.” He said, and it dawned on him just then.
“I guess I been waiting for you.”
Texas stared back into those eyes and paused for a good long while before he spoke. He had after all, a lot on his mind.
“It’s really you, isn’t it?” he said, tilting his head down slightly, perhaps in awe.
“In the flesh...sort of,” said the Voodoo Child, his first smile in years on his face.
“What happened? Am I dreaming?”
The voodoo Child shook his head.
“Don’t really know…the rules are kind of strange here.”
The newcomer seemed satisfied with the reply.
“You want to play some?” Texas asked.
“Can’t. Lost my grip,” the Voodoo Child confessed.
“You give it a go though.”
Texas swung the guitar from his back to the front and then looked around as though something was missing.
“Oh yeah,” Voodoo Child said. “You don’t need an amp. Just play.”
Texas pulled a pick from his pocket and held it above the strings of the beat up Fender he’d carried around for so many years. It looked like hell but he could coax sounds from it enough to make you weep. There were those who claimed that listening to him play was enough worship for the week and you could skip going to church on Sunday. Same sentiment, just a different establishment. His hand came down in an easy strum and instantly everything went sideways. What leapt from the strings was not the expected beauty but the scream of a thousand tortured souls. He put his hands to the side of his head and pressed as hard as he could. The Voodoo Child did the same and for several minutes they held on until the din became bearable.
“Does that happen every time?” Texas asked, ears still ringing, a furrow on his brow.
“Yeah…you want to try on this one?” the Voodoo Child indicated with a nod to his guitar.
“Honored to…but only if you try mine as well,” Texas said.
The Voodoo Child figured he had nothing to lose. Things couldn’t get any worse.
They swapped instruments, not caring that the guitars were now wrong handed for both of them. Texas marveled at the piece of equipment hanging from his shoulders, fondling its curves and relishing the weight around his neck. He’d seen photos of it since he was a kid and now it was in his hands. A bead of sweat rolled down his cheek from the sheer exertion of his last experimental attempt. There was no need to discuss a set list, as there was only one song would make the cut at the moment.
With his pick poised above the strings Texas paused in fear as though he were about to strike a power line with a metal rod. With some trepidation, he muted the strings with one hand and chunked off the rhythm for several bars. His foot pumped an imaginary wah-wah pedal as the chick-chicka-chick of the count became rounded and started to distort and take shape. On the third pass, the Voodoo Child joined in and laid down the riff that he had dreamed up so many years before and this time there were no screaming demons attached to the notes. The sound was exactly as it was supposed to be and surprisingly, after twenty some odd years, his fingers had built up no rust. As he played, a joy entered him and filled his heart so full he thought it would burst and ruin this perfect moment. He looked over at Texas, eyes closed, an expression of concentration across his face as they entered the chorus of the song. Momentum built and they traded solos for a long while, losing track of time that didn’t really matter anyway. It was a lethal combination that intensified with each trade off. How long they played, no one will ever know but this concert was not for public consumption anyway. No witnesses except each other, they put the song to death and resurrected it again.
Finally, after exhaustion set in, it came to an end. They stood in silence, facing each other. Master and student. Or perhaps now master and master.
“I’m feeling a hell of a lot better,” the Voodoo Child said, stretching out his long brown fingers. Everything seemed right now as he eyed up the white man across from him. Whatever needed to be said had been said.
“You keep that guitar then.” Texas said.
“Thanks. Same goes for you. Maybe I’ll see you.”
“I’ll see you when I’m lookin’ at you,” Texas said, as he watched the lone black man walk into the mist, a worn down Fender across his back with the initials S.R.V. stamped in the pick guard.

And if I don’t meet you no more in this world
Then I’ll, I’ll meet you in the next one and don’t be late, don’t be late.”

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Me: God, I have a massive headache.
Wife: You’re probably dehydrated.
Me. (Roll eyes) I’m not dehydrated, I’m just stressed.
Wife: Well…what have you had to drink today?
Me: Lots
Wife: Coffee does not count…it’s a diuretic.
Me: (under breath) You’re a diuretic.
Wife: What did you say?
Me: I said I had water at lunch.
Wife: You mean you took your vitamins with a sip of water?
Me: It was like…half a glass. A quarter of a glass anyway. It was a big gulp.
Wife: And what have you had to eat?
Me: I ate that hunk of leftover ham for breakfast, soup for lunch – which is liquid thank you - pistachios for snack and…um…oh yeah a handful of pretzels.
Wife: So basically you had a bowl of salt and an assortment of salted nuts and meats.
Me: Yes.
Wife: And how much draft did you drink last night?
Me: Like two, three glasses. It’s hard to keep track because they give you those small glasses.
Wife: So you drank a pitcher at least.
Me: Its draft beer, it’s mostly water.
Wife: And wings?
Me: Pound of wings, but they weren’t that salty.
Wife: I told you, you’re supposed to drink a glass of water in between beers.
Me: Well we ordered suicide wings and they were freakin’ hot so I was kind of chugging my beer. It cools your mouth off better than water anyway.
Wife: So, let’s recap shall we? In the last 24 hours you have consumed a pound of salty wings, pretzels, pistachios, salty meats, store bought soup, a pitcher of beer, a pot of coffee and a sip of water.
Me: That sounds reasonably accurate.
Wife: And you want to know why you have a headache?
Me: Like I said…its stress.
Wife: Are you stressed because you are killing your arteries and liver or because of the pressures of being a high school librarian?
Me: Will you get me a Tylenol please?
Wife: You want water with that?
Me: No I'm good...I’ll just chomp it down.
Wife: You’re an idiot.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Long May You Run

I’ve never had a cool car. Never had cause to scream “I’m in love with my car!” as does Roger Taylor in the Queen classic of the same name. The airwaves are rife with guys immortalizing their rides, second only to the girls they've loved.
The list is endless. The Beach Boys alone could fill an entire album of car ditties with Little Deuce Coup, Fun,Fun,Fun, 409,I Get Around, Shut Down  and many others that place cars right up there with cruising chicks and surfing. (You need a cool car to do both)  
Prince loved the Little Red Corvette and we know where Springsteen’s heart lies as he has penned both Cadillac Ranch and Pink Cadillac. The Camaro comes in as a top favourite with Bitchin’ Camaro by the Dead Milkmen, Camaro by the Kings of Leon and Go lil Camaro Go by the Ramones. We’ve even been told by Colin James that the only three things worth fighting for are “chicks and cars and the third world war.”
I love the simplicity of Geddy Lee’s introduction to “Red Barchetta”, forever immortalized on the live album Exit Stage Left.  “This is a song about a car” he says.  Oh? Is that all? Sorry Ged, I had the speakers on eleven and my brain was trying to reconcile the visuals I was conjuring up with the sonic barrage the three of you were throwing down.
I have to admit that my all-time favourite has nearly brought me to tears on occasion. Long May You Run by Neil Young. There is no doubt that such a car ever existed in his life but somehow that doesn’t really even matter. The song is so heartfelt and so plainly Neil that it’s painful. His well-documented love for cars borders on fanaticism and goes back to his early days when he drove a hearse from Canada to California. His ranch is overflowing with all kinds of classic cars and he is currently driving a bio-deisel powered hybrid version of a 1959 Lincoln.
Long may you run is about memories and adventures and the car that got you there. With Neil you get the feeling it’s a genuine appreciation of the classic machine and not the flash that comes with it. This is no pissing contest about engine size and we never hear the make or model and that’s what makes it so Neil. You just know he loves that car, warts and all. For a man with two kids afflicted with cerebral palsy, that’s speaks volumes. He talks about the car in human terms with its “chrome heart shining” and lamenting, “it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive.”                                                                       
Bob Dylan wished of his children that they stay forever young, and the sentiment rings true with Neil’s beloved car. This is a man pleading for the machine under his care to outlast its life expectancy. You can trust a guy in ripped jeans and a flannel shirt to polish up that chrome with love. I doubt that Paris Hilton even knows where the parking brake is on her Hummer.
So on your next road trip, whether you’re getting there in a Lada or a Lexus, remember, it’s all about the journey my friends.
"We've been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run"

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