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I joke, occasionally, about wanting to open a Jai Alai Fronton in Vancouver (or various other places that I visit) as part of a retirement plan. I had no idea the sport was in so much trouble. Gone are the heady days of Miami Vice and the Most Interesting Man in the World—Jai Alai, at least in the United States—appears to be dying.
Maybe…just maybe…it’s time for a revival?
As places go, Quarry Rock in Deep Cove ranks fairly high on the list of favourites. It’s a short, somewhat steep hike (one that, weirdly, I’ve always started from the top and not the bottom.) It was pouring in Vancouver today, so instead of the bike I opted to put boots to earth—a decision I haven’t made often enough lately. As it turns out, the smell of a wet rainforest was exactly what I needed.
New Multitudes is a couple of years old at this point, and it seemed to pass largely unnoticed at the time. That’s a shame, because it’s as fine a collection of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie material as the Mermaid Avenue sessions and worth checking out. Jay Farrar’s vocals provide most of the highlights but there are fine performances throughout.
Every move that we make is thought of and rehearsed before, so it’s as safe as crossing the street.
I was at work yesterday when the news of Prince’s death broke—on my way to a meeting walking away from my desk when someone said it. I’m old—almost 45—at a company where most of my co-workers are in their 20s. One of the ways this manifests itself day to day is in their drastically differing musical backgrounds to mine. Some of them weren’t even born when the Joshua Tree was released and they have no way to understand the cultural impact that album had. When Bowie died, they didn’t even notice.
Not so with Prince. The rest of the day—at leas the parts I spent at my desk—saw this cross-generational company’s staff singing songs that were written before the Joshua Tree. Purple Rain featured prominently, but so did Little Red Corvette and 1999.
Prince was an immensely talented artist whose music left a longer footprint than most. That music was like nothing else because it took everything else, put it in a blender and came out the other other end sounding like something that was uniquely Prince, always interesting, radio ready but not boring sappy pop music.
Purple Rain was everywhere in 1984. The movie may be a mess but the album remains strong and vital and fresh over thirty years later. Put the record on and play side two, which runs rom When Doves Cry to Purple Rain—and I dare you not to play it again, and again. It shares that with a few albums—Springsteen’s Born to Run, The Joshua Tree, Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, anything Mile Davis ever released. That’s pretty rare company, and it’s company that Prince deserves to be in.
He was a restless explorer who didn’t sit still and who pushed at the boundaries. Those people aren’t suppose to die, but they do and he has. The world is a poorer place for it.
Today was one of those hard days—the kind of day where you feel like you’re floating listlessly, and nothing you do seems to bring you back to the place you want to be and you kind of just throw your hands in the air and give in to it.
The thing is, it had nothing to with me. Not, at least, in a direct way. These days things are pretty good for me. The end of last year was tough but right now I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. There’s lots of reasons for that but let’s just leave it with a simple one: things are going very very well, and I’m lucky every day to be living this little life I’m living.
This morning I got a couple of messages from one of my closest and oldest friends. The first note was the sort of thing that sets you up for bad news so I sort of steeled myself for a followup. My first instinct was to think that one of his parents had died. We’re the same age but his parents are quite a bit older than my mother so it wouldn’t be unexpected.
I was wrong. His parents are fine but his marriage is ending after something like 17 years. There have kids and while there’s a big part of me that recognizes that it’s probably better for them to be apart then to be together and unhappy in their lives it’s still a hard thing to hear. I love those kids, and his wife and my heart sank a bit at the news. There’s no single big reason: no easy infidelity or big lie to point to as the cause. They just drifted, which sometimes happens.
Marriages start and end all the time. Mine did so long ago that it’s mostly faded. I’ve other friends who’ve gone through it more recently, and I know that everyone will be OK in the end but today—for at least a day—I was just sad thinking about the end of something that started so well. They’ll be OK, and the kids will too—but it’s still a change. Life does that and the only option we have is to keep moving forwards through it.
They’ll wake up tomorrow staring into a future that was never planned for or invited into their lives, and one that’s not going to easy in the short term. One thing I know is that whatever my friends need is what I’ll give them and I hope at least one of them knows that right now.
“You can’t buy feel” Daniel Lanois’ has said on more than one occasion, and that explains much that there is to love about Rocco DeLuca musically. Their last Vancouver show ended with the entire band performing DeLuca’s Congregate and is one of my fondest memories of the last few years of many concerts. It made me put my camera down and just listen—and that doesn’t happen that often.
Dan Mangan’s Club Meds was a slow burn of an album. It was a dramatic departure from his earlier work—full of rich electrified sounds and as heavily produced as his earlier work was sparse, it was challenging for some of his fans. When I first wrote about it, I was vocal about the fact that I thought Vessel was a poor choice for a lead single. Forgetery was a standout track from the album, and it’s nice to see it still getting support in the form of a beautiful new video.
Birch Trees become a muse of sorts fairly often when I visit Ontario. We don’t have them out west—we have Aspects instead (or Poplars as they’re known in some areas.) Aspens are nice but their bark is more of a silvery grey colour and there’s something about the pure white of birch bark that I find appealing. I grew up around them, and they’re not really a part of my life anymore. I miss them some.
I’m in Ontario, and have been for a few days. As always, these trips are bittersweet for me.
As a society, it seems like the west has been looking to the east for a glimpse of our future for a long time now—most specifically, Japan. With a housing crisis in Vancouver and salaries falling below where they do in much of the rest of Canada, it may not be long before we see the same type of situation as this video describes. There’s already a significantly outsized working poor population characterized by shared accommodations and lives lived in single room occupany hotels that are meant for, really, short term accomodations.
The future doesn’t always seem so bright, does it?
Not being super connected to pop culture means this kind of thing slips past me a lot, so thanks to a friend for sending this along: Jeff Tweedy plays a games of celebrity charades with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Steph Cameron, whose Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady was one of the best new releases of 2015 (I said so somewhere over at No Depression, back when I could find things there) played a show at the Railway Club a few days ago. I’m a bit behind with getting an official review up, but suffice to say for now that it was excellent. In the meantime, here’s a few photos here to help prove that.
The summer of 2015 was a pretty stressful one all around for me. I’d been working on a major project at work for, frankly, too long. I was covering off most of the roles on the project (I wrote code, planned code, planned requirements and project managed it) and that all added up to a big bundle of stress.
So I took off and went to see three Wilco shows just before my birthday: Bend and Portland, Oregon were the first two and then Redmond, Washington was the last. They were outdoor shows, and I really wanted to see the outdoor show instead of Vancouver’s indoor Orpheum gig.
But this is the one I really wanted to go to and I missed it. It happened less than 2km from my niece’s house in Ottawa, and it was just after my birthday (and her father’s for that matter.) I’d have given anything to get there but I had to finish that project, and they had plans that weekend anyway.
One day, I’ll take Rose to her first Wilco show. Someone has to get that girl’s taste in music aligned and there’s nobody better than me for that job.
Sometimes, a walk around a small lake is what you really need.
I’ve actually resisted watching this before today, but I figured I might as well. A ticket has been ordered and, yes, my mother is coming out for vacation and I told her she’d have to plan around December 18th, 2015 when she came.
This one’s going to be good.Running Away
It’s been quiet here for a long time now, and that’s not been planned. The reality is that work got very busy trying to finish a project and consumed a significant amount of personal time and energy. Only time will tell if it was worth it: I launched the project finally and things are going well, but it’s still early days.
Regardless, I ran away—about as far as I could, as it turns out. I’m in St. John’s, Newfoundland some 5,031km from home, give or take a few. This is a place that I haven’t been for a very long time and I’ve never particularly spent time in St. John’s at all. I figured it was time to get out of Vancouver and spend time with friends in one of the oldest cities in North America. Half way through the trip it’s been endlessly relaxing and I’ve no regrets at all—even if it did snow last night. (It made the hike up to the perennially windy Signal Hill interesting.)
I’ll write more about St. John’s later, but for now suffice to say that life is returning to a more comfortable level and pace and things are good. I’ve barely even logged into Salesforce all week—though I couldn’t avoid it altogether.
My mother, her brother and sister grew up with Stan Rohatinski in her life from a very early age. Stan and Mary were living next door to my grandparents at CFB Trenton and, as often happens, the two families sort of blended into one. When my grandfather would be away, Stan and Mary were always there helping take care of the kids. Stan’s kids talk about my grandfather in the same way.
Edmonton was their home, but they moved to Abbotsford which is where Stan ultimately retired from the Air Force. Mom and I always made it out there to visit when she was here. They moved to Kelowna last year, and we got news in the middle of March that Stan wasn’t well. He was moved to palliative and passed away at the age of 90 on March 17th.
Ninety years is a pretty good run, Stan, and you had an impact on a lot of lives. Rest in peace.
On March 17, 2015, Mr. Stanley Rohatinski of Kelowna, BC passed away at the age of 90 years.
Stanley is survived by his loving wife, Mary and his family. Divine Liturgy Thursday, March 26 at 10:00 a.m. at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Star- Peno, AB. Basilian Fathers officiating with interment in Church Cemetery.
From that sand swept crashed star destroyer to those words uttered by Han Solo, this is just so good. This is going to be a good Christmas.