Home sweet home. As Dan and I cross the border into Croatia we realize we have more recently been in this heavenly nation than in our actual home city of Montreal. The signage feels more familiar than Quebecois francaise and we are eager for the comfort foods of cevapi and kaymak and the choicest onions and soft smoky bread as if we were experiencing the cravings of returning home. When you have been on the road (non-stop) for over four months, these details are enormously rewarding. In Zagreb, I feel home. Wholly home. And the moment we cruise up to our beloved Hotel Laguna, with it’s kitsch 70’s décor and proud Telefax operating signs and postcards of parking lots, we feel welcome despite the unsmiling staff. In fact, because they are so consistently sullen, we feel even more hearteningly received. Dan and I take our few hours of free time to stroll these well-known and loved streets past the stadium in search of our favourite Bosnian kepab stop and into Teatre & TD for trustworthy espressos. We feel restored. And when we arrive to Tvornica Kultura, the tremendous Mate Skugor is ready with open arms. He is wearing a t-shirt that reads “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet” and, if you have had the immense pleasure of meeting this man, you know that it’s sort of true. Mate was the first person in Ex-Yugoslavia to take a chance on our unknown band way back in the day and he built and fostered connections in this region that have enabled us to continue returning time and again with a growing fanbase that floors us every time. In truth, Mate changed our lives. He is a humble man and trying to express our gratitude for what he has given us – for our hearts and brains – has never been made easy by him. He is dismissive about the wondrous effect he has had on the music industry in these parts but his legacy is known by every lucky fan of subculture music. He is a living legend and dear friend. We are forever indebted. And today he is eager to let us know that we have had to jump to a bigger venue because the pre-sales alone would have oversold the smaller room’s capacity. We are shocked and delighted to say the very least. “It’s like a hometown show,” he winks and then curls his arm around my neck into a sturdy hug. After a swift and perfect soundcheck with utter professionals who even take the time angle hazers and spot lights, we do an interview with the country’s foremost rock journalist. He has interviewed every band from Sonic Youth to REM to Azra and gone vinyl shopping with fucking Mick Jones but mostly we talk about rock during the fall of Yugoslavia and the end of communism and brand new tattoos and Canadian versus Croatian politics. We are all in agreement that most people are wrong; that we need to revolutionize our governments and that the injustices in this life are also paralleled with these specific joys made possible by the wonders of our personal work – playing rock shows in Zagreb for example. We talk for such great lengths that I don’t realize that we are actually late for our performance and I have to slap on some lipstick to get into the right frame of mind. Dan swigs the vodka to work some courage through his veins and we both hurl ourselves into it. Nervous and terrified. There are so many people here for us that I am almost sick with terror. As soon as I am on stage, I feel I could cry with joy. I look into the upturned faces and feel so overtaken by love that I can hardly contain myself. It is pulsing. I am covered in sweat by the second song. Everything shakes in me. To the bone. I am alive. After two ferocious encores, I am ready to meet my chosen family and I rush back to them. Our intrepid interviewer is absolutely covered head to toe in sweat – he looks his happiest and I feel proud. A rapturous and beaming Ivanna is standing by the stage with a gift for me – a felt flower that she has carried in her purse for years with a sentimental value that makes my heart double. A coal-mining Metal head, who dragged his nephew to our show for inexplicable reasons, bestows his compliments through comparisons to the heaviest acts he’s ever seen. I am shocked to have them in attendance. And of course our most loved Croatian couple (the folks we happily shared some tour dates with in our van so they wouldn’t be forced to follow us via other methods of transport!) rocked harder than ever before, their faces glowing. And finally back stage, I meet Dan’s beguilingly pretty and smart friend (also named) Ivanna. She is slim and strong and sharp. She offers us the most incredibly thoughtful presents that anyone has ever given us: a SIGNED copy of Zizek’s Parallax View and a DVD of her favourite movies and the film program that she helped curate and an Oliver Mandic record. The fact that I have been reading everything Zizek has been writing and now have an edition with his actual illegibly scrawled autograph with a dedication to my very husband makes me feel sublimely proud. I hug her with passion. She is intensely lovely and I want more time with her. With Ivanna and her friends, we are taxied to the apartment of her fellow philosopher pal who is (goddamnit really?) translating the works of Zizek into Croatian. He is a fucking genius and makes me embarrassed to share his youthful twenty-nine years. I am in awe. Wide eyed and humble in their company. As we drink with these perfect humans who give me strength about humanity, I scan the bookshelves and swap jokes and truly feel the most at home I have likely ever felt in my life in this man’s home – full only of novels and non-fictions and mismatched wine glasses and the dregs of a myriad of boozes. This riffraff share my disdain for life in general but my perseverance in the specifics. I am full hearted.
So, Zagreb, you are certainly something to write home about….. but where would I send the postcard? To your doors? Can it be in a self-returned envelope so I can anticipate one day living amongst you?
I’m a big fan of Nancy Sinatra and Dan knows too well that when I am happiest I often strut around in a pair of shoes and clumsily sing through “These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do and one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.” It isn’t the sweetest of songs but my greatest joys always have an element of evil to them. So I will tell you, whoever you are, that the shoes that you took from the stage of Tvornica Kultura after our concert were enormously well-loved. I wore them nightly, during nearly every single show we played across this globe, for a good number of years now. Please wear their black leather and gold studs with pride because I certainly did. I wore them when I was happy and when I was tired and when I was nervous and when I was strong and when I was lucky and sexy and excited and I loved them very much even though they were cheap and wearing out. I try to be a good woman and I love things to their deaths, so I hope you give those shoes of mine a new great life.
One of our most memorable shows occurred in the charming city of Cologne. It was not memorable because we played particularly well or because the venue was particularly unforgettable or because the staff were necessarily noteworthy. And it was certainly not made memorable by being well-attended. In fact, it drew only seven people if my memory isn’t embellishing those numbers. (God I hope I’m not exaggerating!) But against all odds, that show has become one we frequently attach great importance to. Perhaps because it was, indeed, our smallest audience it was made immensely special. We shared the underdog ambitions with that handful of folks and I will always remember it for being full of earnestness and energy and, above all, humour. We even brought out our backstage snacks and shared our chips and chocolates and booze and cigarettes. By the end of it, every one knew each other’s names and, likely, a whole lot more. So in returning to Cologne we were expecting a rather similar turn out. We were hoping for “over a dozen this time” but even with those low expectations we had our fingers crossed. So, I tell you this, with passion and genuine relief: we were awed and spectacularly surprised by how many of you came to our show. This time, Cologne!, you have made yourselves memorable by packing yourselves in great numbers into the Blue Shell venue. And we will remember, too, that our dearest dearest friends from Macedonia’s best band Bernays Propaganda were there to share the spirits. And we will never ever forget that all your hollering and dancing and stamping forced us to do two encores. TWO ENCORES!? It was fantastic feeling. Truly. I am still amazed. And I was even more amazed when our tour manager JC elucidated another genuinely stupefying and heartwarming fact after the evening was over. When I questioned the audience if any of the seven members who had attended our first show in Cologne were dedicated enough to be amidst the masses presently, I had heard no reply. But JC spotted you, shyly raising your hand in affirmation. I am jaw-dropped of course. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support. We are still the underdogs, of course, and now there’s more of you underdogs in our pack. Nothing could make me more proud.
There is a common saying among the poorest people who perform in the Carnivals of Brazil: “Only the rich like modesty; the poor prefer luxury.” It is said, of course, with pride because their costumes are the most glamourous and eye-catching of all.
As a kid my own nickname was Flash n Trash because I delighted in red shoes and big gold baubles and purple make up and slicked back shiny hair and all things with sequins and feathers and I enjoyed running fast and ruining everything in my wake. In fact, my mother continues to find humour in my kitsch jewelry, odd pattern matching and eye shadow choices. In my family there are certain things that “only Alexei would love.” It is said tenderly about things that are leather, things that have loud geometric motifs and things that are gold. My sister recently found giant chandelier charms and bought them for me to make giant earrings out of. My father, whose interest in fashion is relatively nil, once bought me a lime green suede mini skirt. I love shiny things, no matter how frequently I break them. Like the nearly moneyless women in Russia who dress in faux furs and bright lips and are said to “dress like prostitutes” while the well-to-do prostitutes themselves prefer business suits; and in the same vein that fake gold faucets and knock off flat screen tvs are found in favelas and slums the world over, perhaps it is because I do not actually have much money that I relish in the things that make me feel fancy. So it is with genuine pleasure that we hit the eye-candy shopping streets of Paris. And it is with even greater pleasure that, for the most part, I can stick my nose in the air at the highest of haute couture. It is with great pleasure, of course, because I would not be able to afford the fitted Gucci black suit adorning the mannequin or the mannered Prada grey sheep skin tote bag and I wouldn’t want them anyhow. Don’t get me wrong: I love fashion and frequently the pages of magazines flash with the boldness of the runway collections that do not hit the street level. I love Balmain leather jackets and Balenciagia shoes and Missoni fabrics and DVF body suits and Prada capes and Commes Des Garcons mock bonnets and everything Chloe Sevigny wears but the items that tend to make their way to the pretty boutique shops of La Belle Ville are more modestly cut and for working women “with good taste.” I do better at Korean trinket shops (rainbow coloured crystal earrings – yes please!) and second-hand shops (giant black wooden chain necklace – If I may). I’m not particularly good at fashion. If I could I would love to find the time and energy and money and skill to pursue it and maybe one day I’ll give it a go. But for the mean time, putzing around in Paris with Dan in our clothes that stink of four months of straight touring with holes in our socks and our boots and hair that needs cutting and dying and styling and jeans that are ripped (not intentionally “distressed”), I feel pretty fancy. I have my lipstick on and, because I lost my “practical” jacket, I’m also wearing a fluorescent red suit jacket meant for stage. It doesn’t cost a lot to make me feel fancy. Which is a good thing. Trust me.
P.S., Citizens of Paris, I love you. At Point Ephemere, you came in your best duds. Not the most costly ones because you looked most fabulous. And it is easier to party if you’re wearing neon and fringe and black lame tights. And you did. You were fabulously energetic and beautiful. You made me feel like the richest person on the planet. Walter, Clemence, Aymerique, the folks from Atlanta Georgia, the folks from Shanghai, our dear friends Thien and Yasuko and our new friends from Hong Kong: You gave us one unforgettable night in Paris. One amazing aspect of this band is that our crowd is increasingly multicultural – narry a show passes now without attendees from all corners of the earth. “I saw your show in Singapore xie xie, I saw your show in Cluj-Napoca multsu mesc, I saw your show in Turku kiitos ”…. It is becoming one of the things I love most: we have played in so many places that they are all becoming equally represented all over this earth.
If you have been in a band long enough, you have likely met this breed of soundman: He is German and efficiently so. He is long-haired and yellow-toothed. He has likely never worn an item of coloured clothing since the day he was able to dress himself. He chainsmokes. He talks very little. The only band he likes from Canada is No Means No. He thinks the younger generation (presumably including you) are a bunch of “fucking imbecilic morons” who don’t appreciate good music. He is wiry but square and curt but not unkind and he has good posture though he looks like he hates life. If you have been in a band long enough, you will likely find this (un)exceptional specimen either heartwarming or annoying. We manage to feel both ways about the gentleman at Gleiss 22. We are always keen to hear about the horror stories of tour managing punk bands around Europe and interested in the histories of a home-town that generates equal pleasure and disdain. (We thought Munster was a type of cheese but now we know better and we’re sorry that the fact that your city is a skateboarding world capital causes you more frustration than amusement. We happened to like it very much and even visited some of the head office quarters foregrounded by half pipes and graffiti because we were, in fact, so smitten. Skate or Die.) And we loved the sound you gave us – we could hear everything pristinely but not without the character of your beloved monitors. But Dan felt a little icily when he was scolded about pushing his voice too hard. He told you he was “coming down with something, feeling ill, and under the weather” but you still felt the urge to grumpily impart a lecture. Certain that you were, of course, the better musician in the room. But we laughed it off. And we’ll see you again soon, with open arms and minds. As always. Because it is our job. Just as it is yours. For better and worse. But mostly better.
Tilburg is most likely the show where we caught the bug. I could very surely point fingers at the culprits. But it wasn’t their fault exactly and they were the kindest of gentlemen so they will remain unnamed. In fact I wholly sympathize now, rather belatedly, with just how bad they were feeling. Each member of the supporting band ran through a litany of complaints, the grievances that were taking turns in their lungs and throats and sinuses. The ailments that had taken over their limbs and organs. Their weak elbows. Their fever-addled brains. Their sweaty palms and depression. Their tight chests, their snotty noses, their queasiness and nausea and vomiting. Paradoxically it was a very strange place to get sick: it was certainly our cleanest back stage ever (well lit, well tended, shiny counter tops to boot) and the venue was held in an austere modern art gallery that seemed impenetrable to contagion (It was more suited to housing giant ceramic penguins and manifestations of anti-religious effigies than agents of disease). The sound technician even swapped every microphone and replaced new DI cables wearing white stage gloves. Even the hotel we stayed in that night was a schwank Mercure room that wouldn’t seem a likely breeding ground for infirmity. But some times when you least expect it: infection worms its way into your very pores and veins. We denied it for as long as we could but it took hold. And sorely caused immense heart ache for us all. Through my haze of the delirium that followed for the next week of long days, however, I remember that Tilburg was memorable for these reasons: our most devoted (and truly beloved) Dutch fan Lindsay arrived early with a gift. She is a talented artist so when I say that she painstakingly spent hours crosshatching a drawing for us do not presume it was amateurish in any way. This was no kind of doodle. It was a masterpiece despite her most humble intentions to undermine her own talents. And it will be framed and loved by us forever. I will also remember that Nick and Tao from Vietnam were in attendance and caused the crowd to loosen up and even shimmy some. Two of the coolest looking girls I’ve ever seen threw angular dance moves at me all night. I felt absolutely 100 percent healthy and full of life and thriving and right as rain. Little did I know a plague was upon us. Of course not one of us is immune to illness entirely no matter how high our spirits but it certainly feels unfair. Life on the road is grueling as it is so when sickness burdens you on top of those exhausting conditions, it can truly feel nearly impossible. There just isn’t time for sleep and recovery or time to find pharmacies and health care. And because we have made it a mandate in this band to never cancel shows unless we literally think we are actually dying, we continued to perform (to the very best of our abilities) every following night. So, I will reflect on that night in Tilburg fondly despite the secret evil it contained, creeping into us unbeknownst to us. Our strength has been tested but I hope we mustered enough.
SOLD OUT SHOW!
Okay so perhaps it doesn’t mean so much if the club is the size of an oil baroness’s walk-in closet but, heck, it meant a lot to us to sell out Brighton’s The Hope. And it meant even more that the folks who crammed into the room were adamant fans. Mikhail Bus from Poland and the intrepid Spidey and Don were in attendance as well as Beth’s sister and two Sri Lankan brothers who danced fearlessly at the foot of the dwarfish make shift stage. Two lesbian couples barely witnessed the spectacle as they were too intent on keeping their lips locked during the most anthemic moments of the evening and there were many. We hadn’t had much time to stroll the Coney-Island style boardwalk of Brighton Beach and we missed the sea and salty or sickly sweet snacks that are famous along the promenade but we did notice a much more lively downtown than we’d seen in our last visit. Brighton is one of England’s quirky gems and it seems the true freaks and artists of the area have all amassed themselves here, sharing studio spaces and galleries and running risky businesses of the hearts’ great whims. I am most at home in places like these. The unsure bets. The big chances. Where small dreams are most realized. I am heart-warmed by Brighton’s best intentions. It seems like a city most truly evolving from it’s multifarious manifold. It is only in rare places such as these that I feel one can really mete out their most ballsy ideas and claim the rewards of being their most strange selves. And it is only in places like these where a little band like ours can pack a room so tightly we had to turn folks away. We’re sorry fans but we do promise to return to your warm shores.
“If rain is what makes England great then Manchester’s yet greater.” – Paul Hedon
Or something like that. And it’s true: Manchester weather does not let up. On television, we watched the weatherman turn out a veritable thesaurus for “drizzly” as he described the current temperatures and upcoming damp, thunderous, cloudy, light precipitations, heavy rains, and certain showers. It is sure to be grey, wet, trickling, inclement, chilly, bleak, unseasonably wintry, stormy times full of dark clouds and lightning bursts and wind gales with lots of atmospheric pressure and heavy meteorological conditions. “Put your Wellies on, England.” The forecast is not good. You might want to have a spot o’ tea to warm your spirits to boot. As four ourselves, we’d crossed a continent and an ocean from surprisingly sunny Seattle and it was certainly feeling that way by the time we were in Manchester. I was definitely feeling the unfriendly elements as if they were a personal attack. (And why oh why was my jacket disappeared by the wind and waters or a cunning thief during our ferry ride between Canada and America when I would shortly need it most?! My heart was pleading against these cruel new climes.) Luckily Dan knew a secret that would warm me through out: authentic Sichuan food with its delectable ma la spices and prickly ash flower peppercorns and smoky chiles. The meal absolutely saved me. And though the attendance to our “Deaf Institute” gig (the venue being a converted hospitable for the hearing impaired) was not in the multitudes, we kept warm-spirited. Like most shows in Manchester (we’ve been told by many musician colleagues and friends and fans) it certainly felt like the sound technician and promoter were glumly going through the motions of “another show, another night” but we managed to rile the small crowd some. And though the set times were kept very strict in order to preserve the entirely unattended successive Club Night and though Dan’s microphone line was cut off by the surly engineer when he scraped its meshy metal head against his guitar for a wee bit of ya know punk rock effect, we managed to make some of the crowd laugh at our jokes about Manchester’s notorious sweatshop of good bands. Through out history certainly a lot of sad and angry men have made good use of their unhappy upbringings here after all. A lot of angst created a lot of genius songs which certainly helped me bear my most angst-ridden times as well. We’re both enormous fans of the Manchester sounds and we’re happily schooled, while still on stage, on the new ones being created. So, Manchester, despite your unfavourable environs and frequently aloof and crusty technicians and bored rock promoters, we’re happy to have tested the waters, dipped a toe in even. We hope next time it fucking storms, of course. Because you’re important to us. You’ve meant a lot to us actually. Next time I’ll come prepared for an even greater sloshing. I’ll wear my rubber boots if I have to.
PJ Harvey’s latest album LET ENGLAND SHAKE certainly predicted these recent riots of London and it was also one of my favourite releases of this year. With it, she gave early voice to what she felt was rather foreseeable for her country’s unsatisfied citizens. In every interview I’ve read following the fires (which coincidentally sent our own records up in flames during the destruction of the PIAS warehouse where many many independent releases were lost in the shake-up), she has modestly denied her psychic powers, positing instead that she “just reads the newspaper.” In one article she simply quipped, “I make it my business not to be an idiot; that’s all.” I am, indeed, a huge fan of hers. I like her brain and I like her heart. I like that she shares my intentions to discuss injustices. And her voice is uniquely potent with her unique passion. So when I am told belatedly that PJ Harvey herself was rumoured to have been at our overcrowded gig at London’s Hoxton Bar & Grill, I literally shake in my boots, feeling shaken to the core. The gossip hasn’t been confirmed but I feel honored by the possibility of having been in her midst. I wish I’d been able to shake her hand and thank her for shaking things up.
In London I was lucky enough to be aware of being surrounded by our dearest friend and formidable tour manager Mr JC Dyborn and Kalle, visiting from Sweden, and Karina, our cheery and dedicated promoter, and friends from Poland and Romania who made the show teem at the seams. London always treats us grandly even when our expectations of England are low. It isn’t that we don’t like playing in the UK but, as every industry representative and music racket cog will tell you: “It’s a hard nut to crack, a difficult market to break” because there is no shortage of competition in this particular music biz. So we are always worried and fretful that no one will show up for our little band from dirty boring North America and we are so luckily surprised by the charming and bright-eyed turn out. There are certain nights that make you feel like you’ve “made it” and London certainly represents one of those hurtles. We triumphantly power through our hour long set to indefatigable applause and shed our jet lag in the process. There just isn’t enough room for it on stage. I feel violent and mighty by the end of it. London, I know you are enduring rough times and I have empathy for your battles. All revolutions have their costs and I hope you get what you deserve. And to the fierce deity of rock, the divine PJ Harvey, whether you were actually in attendance or not, you were utterly with us in spirit. Let England shake indeed.
By the last day of the third North American segment of this non-stop world tour, I have started reading Zizek’s Living In The End Times, roughly a guide to dealing with the various stages of grief applied to our upcoming economic Armageddon. These are things I think about and discuss constantly with anyone willing to chatter about falling empires and overthrowing tyrants, about ecological crises and imbalances of justice – globally and specifically. In these first few pages, I am schooled on the differences between intolerance and inequality or exploitation in relation to the wearing of niqabs and burqas in France, the differences between nostalgia for communism and anti-Communist paranoia in Eastern Europe, the differences between the lessons learned from critical conservatives versus those learned from reactionaries and how the struggle for unconditional commitment to freedom is always an act of rebellion no matter the eventual outcome. Needless to say, it’s making me very energetic. I don’t tow the party line for any particular –isms, (my convictions likely run a little too hot and strong to be applied to any one ideology), but I must say it warmed my heart to enter the backstage of Neumos and see all of our band brethren, our label representatives, our earnest fans, the venue owners, the lighting technicians and security guards all gulping down the same cheap mixed drinks as a happy collective. I felt truly honoured to witness every strata of this event represented, swilling merrily and munching on snacks together. “This is it,” I think to myself. “No social divisions. Shared goods. Equal chances. Here we are.” Bring on the impending doom that will assuredly coincide with the end of global capitalism, because if we are all reduced to just being human, I love my neighbours very much. It is with a full heart that I can describe our show in Seattle as one of the most fulfilling events of my life. It felt right. I could occasionally hear Subpop’s Megan Jasper heckling us with comments about shit and pussies and I watched our friends in Thee Satisfaction dancing along with Ishmael from Diggable Planets, and Maria had her arms up in the air for half the set. Beth and Jesse hollered like it was the last hoorah (but it won’t be. We promise.) Greg and Lydia joined them front and centre. For the first time I could see Ben’s face shining up as if lit by a Christmas tree on Christmas morning – his attention on the pretty lights of course (not on all those dang gift wrapped capitalist goods below the boughs. ha ha.) And Isaac looked up at Dan like a proud older brother. And Stu worked up a sweat. And the LD poured her heart into her job, strobing the lights and making rainbows dance. And the sound hit us from all sides. And the security guard left his post and came inside to thrash along. And every person in attendance buzzed with the energy of every other person buzzing. So it will comes as no surprise that when Talk Demonic and Suuns joined us for the very last song of this very last show, it was my very favourite feeling on earth. Thank you all. And I mean that: ALL of you. Together, this world is made livable for me. As Ambdekar wrote about his India “There will be outcasts as long as there are castes” but not tonight…. Unless we are all outcasts, in which case, I’m very happy to have found my place. Thank you America. You made my dreams come true… even if your American Dreams don’t turn out the way you’d expected them, we can still have a pretty surreal and unbelievably beautiful Good Ol’ Time.
Right before we take stage, the hotel concierge from next door runs into the green room of Club Nine One Nine and squarely spins me from my backstage pacing and grabs my shoulders, out of breath from her jaunt over and divulges these words with a wink, “Your Dad just called from Brugge to wish you a good show!” She’s ready to flurry off back to her desk and dreary work when she notices my confused expression. “Your Dad, okay?” she repeats it as if I’m a tender thickhead. “He wants you to have fun.” My face looks in her face for answers, “My … Dad? “ I’m trying to string it together when she realizes why I’m stumbling. “Oh no. Wait. I’m sorry,” she sees Dan mid conversation in the north east corner and points at him. “His dad. His Dad. Dan’s Dad wants him to have a good show. Okay?” Dan’s Dad. Of course! Pops! “Okay!” I wink back at her. I love Dan’s Dad and if I hadn’t been angling my way through pre-show nerves I would have been able to make sense of the situation a little quicker but, as per usual, Dan’s Dad is always able to surprise me. Delight me. And make me feel sentimental. It is just this tidbit that turns our crazy day of BC ferry travel and border-crossing nightmares and Bonny & Clyde style banking into a true hometown show for Dan. Dan’s Dad’s best wishes introduce us to the most heart-warming and redeeming show of the tour. We walk into the packed room and it erupts into hollering and Dan looks like he’s won something. Like the life he’d started here making music in his bedroom during his most angst-ridden times has finally amounted to his dreams. “I used to get kicked outta this place,” he laughs. “And even though it’s a different generation of no-necked security guards out there, I was nervous about getting into my own show tonight.” The crowd is his already. “This time, well, they smiled at me.” He flashes his wristband like a VIP gold card holder. “This way, Sir.” And it goes off. We hurl ourselves into every song with the same passion of the crowd below us, hurling themselves into every song, knowing every lyric and jumping and fist-bumping along. They are loose. And we are ourselves. I can’t help feeling proud. I look at this man who allowed me to be his and who continues to make me his and I see all the goodness of a man grown up. A hometown boy made good. Made very good. The ghosts of his past act as angels tonight. Old friends are with us. And true friends are with us. Family too. Old teachers. And new friends. So many new faces. Sweating as if he has just been reborn, Dan searches the crowd for a face he hasn’t met yet. He doesn’t even know what face he is looking for. She has been described to us only as The Communist with red hair. He is looking for Dan’s Dad’s girlfriend. He cannot find her but he dedicates a song to her. I swoon. Dan’s heart is full. Just like his Dad’s. And, for the second time tonight, I am surprised by a true and tender act of kindness and good feeling. I am an utterly sentimental romantic and I love the right man. Hometown boy makes proud. Very proud.
Besides all this gooey nonsense, we also had a spectacularly cinematic day and, though perhaps it is not the movie I would have hoped to personally star in, it was pretty entertaining. Along with our raddest friend and most genius pal, Scott Coffey, who acted as driver for the day, we escaped the clutches of border control and successfully “laundered” money. Our small ferry skirted the choppy waters and harbor seals and we arrived in quaint Victoria feeling pretty victorious really. We were windswept and feeling famous. Perhaps our thriving attitudes rubbed the customs agent the wrong way or perhaps it was smalltown boredom but we spent the next few hours trying to explain ourselves in the company of two long-bearded men and one actually insane woman also being interrogated. And the hilarious part was that we were hiding something. I can’t explain exactly why we were acting as criminals because I wouldn’t want to put myself into trouble’s spotlight but let’s just say we were very lucky they were looking for drugs instead. One of us had been arrested in New York when he was eighteen for using fake tokens in the subway. One of us had prescription drugs that looked a lot like tabs of acid. One of us had actually had border troubles before. And all of us looked a little sheepish by the end of it. How your youth can haunt you. But after some Google-searching, the customs agents returned with big grins and wishes for a good show. Running painfully late, we shredded our suitcases in the middle of a bustling downtown sidewalk, merch money and settlement sheets and the funds of the last few months exploding everywhere in a whirlwind. I dashed into the closing Royal Bank of Canada, having kissed my Clyde with red lips, and shrieked, “I need help,” to the first financial hostess I saw. I did not wait for the next available teller. Every single person in the bank stopped their counting and turned to me in terror. Presuming the worst. I was looking a little disheveled admittedly so they tended to me quickly, wanting to usher me from sight. A few hours later, we were amongst friends sipping perseco and eating fish tacos on a sunny roof-top bar, our adrenalin tapped but our spirits high, laughing at the hilarity of our life. What madness.
I love this madcap firebrand of love and in this band I get to score a film that is both a thriller and a romantic-comedy. I am, of course, too lucky.