RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#580: Music for Your Mental Health 2 – R.I.P. Chester Bennington

GETTING MORE TALE #580: Music for Your Mental Health 2 – R.I.P. Chester Bennington
A followup to Record Store Tales Part 239: Music for Your Mental Health

 

No preaching, no lectures.  Just personal feelings, regarding another sad rock and roll suicide.

I wasn’t a Linkin Park fan, though I do own the Stone Temple Pilots EP.  That’s all irrelevant.  I’m a human being, and as a human being, I grieve the loss of one of our own.  I don’t know the personal battles that Chester Bennington fought.  Nor do I have to.  It’s none of my business.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical body.  You need both your mind and your body to survive.  Injuries and damage to your mental health can be hard to see, even for the one experiencing it.  There are resources out there, and there are people to talk to who can help.  It’s not necessarily easy to access all the help available and you may need help and guidance to navigate the system.  There are other human beings out there who love you.  Who need you.  There are even strangers willing to help.  People who have been through it and understand the pain you may be feeling.

We don’t live in an easy world, or even a friendly one.  It is easy to believe you are alone.  You are not.  You are never alone.  Chester Bennington was not alone, but whatever was killing him inside probably made him feel isolated and helpless.

As we mourn yet another great who went long before his time, please try to focus on your own well being.  There are other ways to deal with the hurt.  Chester Bennington was younger than I am, but he had enough.  Many people out there have had enough and don’t think they can take any more.  We are all human.  We have a tremendous ability to absorb pain but eventually it must be dealt with.  There is no shame in it.  You are not weak.  You are stronger than anyone who hasn’t dealt with what you deal with.  The stigma must end.  People who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses are not different or abnormal.  They are regular human beings just like you.  Maybe even more normal than you know.

Rest in peace Chester.

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#579: Entering the Asylum

GETTING MORE TALE #579: Entering the Asylum
(Supplement to the  Re-Review series)

Back in Record Store Tales Part 3 (!), we took a nostalgic look at my first ever Kiss albums, that all arrived in one glorious batch.  The year was 1985, but Kiss also had a new album coming out in a matter of days.  Now that I had started on a Kiss collection, I would have to get their newest album too, called Asylum.  I didn’t even know how to pronounce “asylum” correctly, nor did I know what the word meant, but I did understand that it was their third album without makeup.

Next door neighbor George, who was my introduction to Kiss, came over one day talking about the new single “Tears Are Falling” and how much I would love it.  I didn’t have much money but by the time the snow fell, my dad bought me a copy of Asylum on cassette.  We got it at the Zellers store at Stanley Park Mall in Kitchener.

My meager Kiss collection at that point consisted of Alive!, Asylum (cassette) and a bunch of LPs I recorded off George.  I didn’t know much about the discography but George was a good teacher.  George actually named one of his first bands Asylum.  Before long I could name all the albums, in order.  I even predicted that the next single would be “Uh! All Night”.  I didn’t foresee the third single “Who Wants To Be Lonely” because Kiss hadn’t done a third single in ages!

George was only missing two Kiss albums:  The Elder, and Double Platinum.  He was dying to get both and finish the collection.  His record collection was fascinating to me and a goldmine of music to tape and explore.  The album covers, particularly for Kiss and Iron Maiden, had me hooked.

As my interest in Kiss grew, a new kid at school who I later found out was a “liar liar pants on fire” claimed he had “all” the Kiss albums at home.  His name was Joe Ciaccia (pronounced “chee-chaw”).  I asked him if that meant he had The Elder.  He said yes.  I told George I knew a kid who owned it, and he just about shit his pants.  I made arrangements with Joe to meet up at his place on the next Sunday to do a trade.  All I asked for brokering this trade was recording the album.

George was really excited.  “I don’t care what he wants for it, I’m not leaving without that record.”  I distinctly remember a small group of us trudging through the snow to meet Joe at his apartment.  Who came with us?  I can’t remember.  Joe lived on Breckenridge Drive, just down the street from Brian Vollmer of Helix.  One thing that I can remember very clearly was grabbing my Sanyo ghetto blaster loaded with D-cell batteries, my Asylum tape, and rocking while walking to Joe’s.

Listening to a cassette on a ghetto blaster powered by D-cells was a warbly experience that kids today don’t understand.  Our small group lollygagging through the slush listening to “King of the Mountain” on that old Sanyo is an image I’ll always remember.  I carried it through the wet melting snow.  Those Sanyo ghetto blasters were built like tanks!  You could drop them and they’d keep on ticking.

We arrived at Joe’s apartment and buzzed.  No answer.  Buzzed again.  No answer.  I began to realize my fears.  Joe was all talk and no Elder.  We hung out down there a while but there was no sign of Joe.  George was partly crushed and mostly pissed off.  At school, Joe gradually earned a reputation for tall tales.  His were beginning to rival the lies of Ian Johnson – they even lived on the same street.

We flipped the Asylum tape over and began the walk home.  A wasted trip, and Joe dodged me at school the next day.  George kept pestering me to arrange a second hookup with Joe, thinking he still had that copy of The Elder that he wanted so badly.  I realized Joe was full of shit and told George the sad truth.  The record was not there.  Joe was telling stories, trying to seem cool to me for having all the Kiss albums.  Then he got caught in the lie, after going so far as to arrange a trade and giving me the address.  Very un-cool.

George did get a copy of The Elder a few months later, and he still taped me a copy.  It was a strange album, after being immersed in Asylum for many months.  Then, I definitely preferred AsylumAsylum was special to me.  It was my first “new” Kiss album since getting into the band!  I had boarded the Kiss train and I wasn’t getting off!

#578: TFCon 2017

GETTING MORE TALE #578: TFCon 2017

Hold onto your scraplets, I have literally a shat-ton of photos from Toronto TFCon 2017!

I’ve never been to TFCon before.  Buddy Jason has been trying to get me to go for years.  This is the first time the planets aligned and I went with Jay with two goals:

  1. Pick out a gift for myself from my mother-in-law (who is awesome that way).
  2. Pick out something smaller for myself.

Jay picked me up around 7:00 am and we hit the road.  We discussed strategies and vendors and I quickly realized that this was going to be epic.

I’ll let the massive photo gallery here speak for itself.  For official and third party figures, I have never seen anything like it before.

The goodie bag you get for paying your $35 entrance fee was kind of crap.  It had some flavoured water and a Schick razor.  The TFCon bag itself will get more use than the Schick.

One of the coolest figures was the Con exclusive from OcularMax. Diaclone Paris Dakar Rally Terraegis is a mouthful, but it’s the yellow truck in the gallery below. Look at the detailed deco. Those aren’t stickers!

They also had prototypes of forthcoming third party figures.  One of these was the giant FansToys Omega Supreme (mentioned earlier here).  Another was a really sharp looking pair of jets for a new Masterpiece Aerialbots set.

The items I purchased were:

  1. Takara Titans Return Wheelie from the fine folks at TF Source! – $25 Canadian.  A real winner.
  2. Transformers Collectors Club Impactor – $120 Canadian.  Cheapest I’ve seen.
  3. Third party company FansToys Phoenix – an homage to G1 Skyfire in Masterpiece scale.  From The Chosen Prime.

I just found a new annual pilgrimage.  Thanks Jay — can’t wait for next year!

 

#577: Wedding Tunes Tales

GETTING MORE TALE #577: Wedding Tunes Tales

Mrs LeBrain and I have been married nine years.  It is an incredible feeling, to have found the one made for you.  I thank God every day.  We still frequently talk about the wedding day itself, the most amazing day of my life.  The bachelor night before was legendary, but the wedding was perfect.

Well, except a few minor details.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, there is one thing that really bugs me today, and that is our wedding CD.  Specifically, one track on that wedding CD.

I personally selected and approved most of the music for the day.  I was very proud to work Frank Zappa into the reception music (“Peaches En Regalia”).  I also had to make sure I had a Kiss song, so I chose “And Then She Kissed Me” from Love Gun.  We focused on Johnny Cash and the Beatles for the ceremony, killing two birds with one stone on “In My Life” for the signing of the registry.  As soon as we started sending out the “thank you” cards to all the guests, I compiled and burned dozens of copies of what you might call The Official Soundtrack Album to Our Wedding.  I squeezed in everything I could, but Jennifer insisted we include one specific song for her maid of honour, Lara.  [Note:  Lara is not evil, but she will be portraying the antagonist in an upcoming store called “Seven”.  Stay tuned.]  I guess when they used to work together in a video store, they would play “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit a lot.  Some customer gave Lara a CD with that song on it and only that song…on repeat.  I guess this inside joke meant that “My Own Worst Enemy” was Lara’s entrance music at the reception.  And I guess that justified it being on the soundtrack CD.  That is, by far, my biggest wedding regret.  It never should have been on the soundtrack CD.  It’s the only song I absolutely have to skip every time.  It’s shit.  Sorry Lara, but your tribute song sucks!

Jen has her own decision that she would go back and change if she could.  We had the proverbial “bridesmaid from hell”.  Bridesmaidzilla, or ‘Zilla for short, was drama from start to finish.  Without getting into too much detail, ‘Zilla was at the bottom of the bridesmaid totem pole but tried to manipulate certain things to be about her.  The highlight of these efforts was what we call the “caesar salad saga”.

It’s quite simple, really!  Jennifer has a seafood allergy, and any decent caesar salad dressing has anchovy paste in it.  We never take any chances, so we requested a regular garden salad for the dinner reception.  No big deal, right?  It’s a salad, but most importantly, it’s Jennifer’s wedding.  You wouldn’t believe how this salad became a bone of contention between them!  ‘Zilla looked up recipes for vegan versions online.  The salad was repeatedly brought up, but Jen had never really had caesar salad before due to her allergy.  Why would she suddenly want one for her wedding?  Bottom line, Jen chose the salad she wanted.  And for the record, since that time, she has tried vegan caesar salad and likes it.  But why would she gamble on something like that for her wedding night?  No, pick the salad you want.  Bottom line, end of discussion.

Drama continued right up to the morning of the wedding day.  As maid of honour, Lara was in charge of the bridesmaids and all communication was to go through her to relieve the pressure from Jen.  Lara would take care of any minor details so Jen would not have to be bothered.  Well, apparently a bra was needed on the wedding day, and so I received a 7:00 am phone call about it.  ‘Zilla didn’t want to call Lara because they were not getting along, at all, so they thought it would a good idea to call the groom on his wedding day, about a goddamn bra.  They actually called me to ask where you can get a bra on a holiday weekend.  Are you kidding me?

They must have called Lara and gotten it sorted because they got the bra situation taken care of without the groom having to intervene.  The wedding went off perfectly and the reception was even better.   I did my best to curate some cool music, and as a special treat, my sister Kathryn performed at the reception.  It was a jazz quartet — bass, bass clarinet, drums, guitar.  The crowning moment of their performance was a jazzy rendition of the “Cantina Theme” from Star Wars.  My sister had to order the sheet music which wasn’t cheap.  Her band’s performance that night was her wedding gift to us, and that reminds me that I do have one more regret.  That is, I wish I had filmed it.

After dinner, after the cake was served, and I was taking a rest between songs (I was a dancing fiend) I sat at ‘Zilla’s table for a bit to chat.  Jen’s friend Gordie, who is hilarious by the way, and married to one of the good bridesmaids, was also sitting with a few others at the table.  Knowing full well the drama that had gone down, Gordie mischievously commented, “That was a great wedding, Mike.  Everything was perfect and I am so happy for you and Jen.  The cake was great…the only thing I would change is the salad, if it was caesar it would have been perfect.”  Then the husband of ‘Zilla said, “We even gave them the recipe to make it…”

The last bit of ‘Zilla drama happened later in the evening as they were leaving.  The DJ played one of the special songs I picked, which was “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.  My mom, sister, aunt and new wife started dancing to it and I shouted “It’s the Ladano girls dance!”  My sister, who was right drunk at that stage, yelled out, “LADANO GIRLS, YAAAY!”  They joined with me in a circle and we danced away to Neil, singing along, having a blast, laughing.  ‘Zilla was, apparently, standing nearby waiting to say goodbye.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and she very bitchily said “BYE!” while making a talkie-talkie motion with her hand.  Yeah, bye!

Jen and I will soon be celebrating our anniversary again, and we’ll probably play that wedding soundtrack CD and relive the good memories.  And I’ve convinced her to skip Lit from now on.  Small victories are still victories.

#576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?” – The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

GETTING MORE TALE #576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?”
The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

By the time it was all over I fairly surmised that, personally speaking, Sausagefest 2017 (the 16th annual) was the best one yet.

There are many reasons for this. One happened by pure change.

The weather reports for the weekend were changing daily. I contacted Uncle Meat on Wednesday to tell him they were calling for rain all weekend. He responded, “No they’re not, are you new?” But they were! And the next day, the forecasts had changed again.

By our Friday departure the skies were partly cloudy, but we’ve seen worse. After we arrived and set up our tents it started pouring for a short while. The old fire pit was flooded. When the rain stopped the decision was made to move the location for the Countdown, uphill on dry land. This was the first time the actual location had ever been changed after 15 years down by the river. It turned out that this was the best possible decision. The new location was wide open, more conductive to mingling and conversation, and as you have seen, provided some beautiful photographs. The new location will be permanent from now on.

I felt one of the reasons things went so well for me was good preparation, but that may not be the case. Uncle Meat also had a great time, and was so ill-prepared that he only arranged a tent to sleep in when we were halfway there! Way to be ready, Uncle Meat!

The vibe was right from the get-go and the Countdown began on time.

Highlights from the first night included some lesser-heard tracks:

  • Queen – “We Will Rock You” – the “fast” version
  • Deep Purple – “Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”
  • Kiss – “Shock Me” – live version from Alive II with solo
  • The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” – mono version
  • Queen – “My Fairie King”
  • Mercyful Fate – “Into the Coven”

There were lots of cool tunes this year: 87 in total including tributes (more on those later). “Indians” by Anthrax was a perfectly appropriate song this year too, since I pulled a large chunk of my own recorded bits from the Brocket 99 CD, a spoof of Indian reservation radio stations. (I voted for “Indians” as #22 on my list.)

And plenty more! You can check out the Countdown list yourself. It was also a treat hearing Ray Charles’ “Mess Around”, which you probably know from John Candy in Planes Trains and Automobiles. Rainbow’s “Light in the Black” was a personal favourite for my air guitar workout.

The comedy sketches were on-point, and I had tears streaming down my face laughing so hard. The Lord of Lamb, Zach Britton, wrote a sketch regarding my insistence that a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing as a Big Mac. Bacon is not in the Big Mac song, therefore a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing. Britton rebutted me successfully, and hilariously. “Loosey Goosey” is now a catch-phrase. As a peace offering, he gifted me a bottle of Big Mac sauce.

The first night it rained, but it mattered not as we huddled in our waterproof tents. We were up by the crack of 10:00 to grab breakfast at the Spatula – not the “Flying” Spatula anymore, please note. They have officially changed the name of the place, but still offer the “Flesherton Fill-up” for breakfast. Not as large, nor as good as it was in the past. On the way up, Uncle Meat yelled “Loosey Goosey!” at anyone we passed on the road.

You have to give credit to our Spatula server Heather. I sat with Max “I’m kind of a big deal” the Axe, and I got to witness him working his magic on Heather the server. He promised her the last CD copy in existence of one of his albums. What a deal! Max told me I had a good singing voice. Was he hitting on me, too? Wayne also had a golden line at the store Top of the Rock, with the girl who was distributing bags of ice. “Are you the ice lady? Ice to meet you!”

There was a new exciting twist this year at the 16th Sausagefest. Submitting lists (aka “paying your rock and roll taxes”) has long been a problem. Some people are always prompt. Those people were rewarded with an extra song, a “tribute” this year. Mine was The Police – “Next to You”. That was a blast for air guitar. You can see by the list at bottom, only eight people got tributes. That means only eight people got their lists in on time without nagging! Due to the amount of time it takes to compile the votes and actually record the Countdown, it was decided that this time, you must vote for 2018’s songs by the end of the weekend. And so Saturday afternoon was spent socially compiling lists. It was weird seeing a bunch of guys at Sausagefest with clipboards and pens, furiously writing, colluding and discussing. It was also successful. All lists are in. There will be a whole year to compile and record for 2018!

The second evening had more great rock. Ghost, Dunsmuir, The Sword, Iron Maiden, CCR, Floyd, Purple, Tenacious D, Sabbath and Zeppelin…all building up to the top ten. Not only building up to the top ten, but also setting up the very first Sausagefest live theater….

There were plenty of fake-out tracks in the top ten, as they pretended they couldn’t read the songs written on Uncle Meat’s upper thigh. Sabbath, Rush and Metallica were played eventually. After the #2 track “The Immigrant Song” (Zeppelin), there was an announcement made.

Tom, father of four, the co-founder, the Captain himself, wanted to take a step back. Recording the Countdown was no longer possible for him, due to family demands at home. This made sense, since the guy does have four rugrats and was absent from some of the top ten due to a supposed argument with his wife about it. They saved the announcement for the #1 spot. Only one person was told in advance, and that was the immortal Lord of Lamb himself, Zach Britton. As the song lyrics state, “He is the reason we still do this shit.” He was given a 20 minute heads-up to collect his emotions.

As the announcement was made, they said there would be no #1 song this year. They’d play it first in 2018. Instead, they played the traditional “Happy Trails” by Van Halen as Tom clinked glasses and shook hands with attendees. And then Zach got up to make a speech. He was obviously still shocked and upset by this sad turn of events.

His speech began as expected: melodramatic, sad, and stirring…until it was interrupted.

There was a 4 minute 30 second gap built into the Countdown…specifically timed for Zach to start his speech but not finish. All part of the pre-planned “live theater”. Then….

“ZACH BRITTON!” boomed the speakers.

Suddenly the Countdown recording continued, as a pre-recorded Bucky urged Zach to shut the fuck up and sit back down because he had just been pranked! Tom wasn’t retiring. Zach didn’t have a clue, nor did any of the rest of us! We all bought it, hook line and sinker, even though Tom has 12 months to record for 2018. It seemed so believable especially with that supposed “argument” with his wife built into the recordings. So I raised my goblet of Romulan Ale to Zach “the Lord of Lamb” Britton for being a great sport and a diamond geezer! The “live theater”, the first ever attempted at Sausagefest, was a tremendous success. As Uncle Meat said afterwards, “They will never ever trust us again.” It easily could have gone sideways, if Zach didn’t stand up to make his speech. They were counting on him and he fell right into it. Brilliant live theater!

The actual #1 song, played after the live theater, was “Cygnus X-1” by Rush, a fantastic song on which to close.

The following morning, we packed up to go home. As per usual, Uncle Meat kept singing and repeating one sentence. This year, it was a ditty called “Why’d You Lick My Penis (Rectum)”.*

“Why’d you lick my pee-noose…why’d you lick my pee-noose, rectum…” Over and over again. You can hear this on the Sausagefest video.

We made our way home, but for many of the guys, it was time to rock again. Five Alarm Funk played a free show in London on Sunday night, and a few tired ‘Festers trekked out to party some more. Totally fitting, since Five Alarm Funk had three songs on this year’s Countdown.

What a Sausagefest! Best one ever? Until next year, maybe….

 

THE COUNTDOWN

 

1 Cygnus X-1 Rush
2 The Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin
3 Blackened Metallica
4 Heaven and Hell Black Sabbath
5 La Villa Strangiato Rush
6 Sweat Five Alarm Funk
7 Burn Deep Purple
8 When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
9 Atlas Rise Metallica
10 Rocky Raccoon The Beatles
11 Green Machine Kyuss
12 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
13 Quick Death in Texas Clutch
14 Muffin Man Frank Zappa
15 Cloak of Feathers The Sword
16 Sabotage Beastie Boys
17 Consolers of the Lonely The Raconteurs
18 Space Truckin’ Deep Purple
19 Zenith Escalator Five Alarm Funk
20 Pigs (Three Different Ones) Pink Floyd
21 Cocaine Eric Clapton
22 Tribute Tenacious D
23 Wasted Years Iron Maiden
24 Fortunate Son CCR
25 The Mob Goes Wild Clutch
26 Smokey Funkadelic
27 Time Travelling Blues Orange Goblin
28 Supernaut Black Sabbath
29 46 and 2 Tool
30 Freya The Sword
31 Money For Nothing Dire Straits
32 The Lemon Song Led Zeppelin
33 Square Hammer Ghost
34 Hung on the Rocks Dunsmuir
35 Cosmo Bozo Orange Goblin
36 Layla Derek and the Dominoes
37 Electric Worry Clutch
38 Odyssey Kyuss
39 Catholic Girls Frank Zappa
40 Vidage 10,000 Mods
41 Nautical Disaster Tragically Hip
42 Skullduggin Black Joe Lewis
43 Squash That Fly Fu Manchu
44 Holy Wars Megadeth
45 I Should Have Known It Tom Petty
46 Great Gig in the Sky Pink Floyd
47 Heart of the Sunrise Yes
48 Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad
49 Boston Rag Steely Dan
50 Lady Writer Dire Straits
51 Helter Skelter The Beatles
52 My Fairie King Queen
53 Into the Coven Mercyful Fate
54 After the Gold Rush Neil Young
55 Watcher of the Skies Genesis
56 Shock Me Kiss
57 Pusherman Curtis Mayfield
58 Domino Masters of Reality
59 The Soft Parade The Doors
60 Smoke 2 Joints Sublime
61 Cosmic Fiend The Black Crowes
62 London Calling The Clash
63 DeanTown Vulfpeck
64 Light in the Black Rainbow
65 Wha Cha Want Beastie Boys
66 Mess Around Ray Charles
67 500 Miles John Garcia
68 Ted the Mechanic Deep Purple
69 Ripoff T Rex
70 We Will Rock You – Fast Queen
71 Everyday People Sly and the Family Stone
72 (NOT SURE?) (Uncle Meat??)
73 Our Only Master Dunsmuir
74 We All Scream Five Alarm Funk
75 Dinosaur King Crimson
76 She Caught the Katy The Blues Brothers
77 Take Off Bob and Doug McKenzie
78 Indians Anthrax
79 Low Hanging Fruit Tenacious D
     
     
  TRIBUTES  
     
ALFRED Old Time Rock and Roll Bob Seger
LADANO Next to You The Police
MICHAEL Don’t Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
PHIL Sinner Judas Priest
FRANK Ride Captain Ride Blues Image Ltd.
TYLER W Belly of the Beast Anthrax
RYAN Paranoid Android Radiohead
ROB A Tricky Run DMC

 

*Search terms on that one oughtta be funny.

#575: The Chris Cornell Obsession

GETTING MORE TALE #575: The Chris Cornell Obsession

A retelling of a portion of Record Store Tales Part 6:  Year 1

One of my very first lessons at the Record Store came courtesy of a customer whom nearly everyone loathed dealing with.  Nancy was her name, but she also had a very politically incorrect nickname back in 1994-1996.  Some people have no filter, and Nancy was one of those people.

What I discovered during our very first interaction was that she liked Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.  A seemingly innocuous interest.  But she liked Cornell a lot.  More than the average bear.

I was new at the store and had never seen her before.  The store owner had, and with a little mischievous intent, sent me over to ask her if she needed help finding anything.  Little did I know, he was sending me into the lion’s den.

“Hi, can I help you find anything today?” I asked as I approached.

“No thank you,” she said before adding, “Do you have any Soundgarden?”

Of course we did!  It was the summer of 1994.  Superunknown was one of the biggest CDs of the season.  Badmotorfinger was still hot too.  I showed her what we had new and used, but she wasn’t interested.  She just wanted to talk.

She saw the copies of M.E.A.T Magazine that we carried on the front counter.  M.E.A.T (“Metal Events Around Toronto”, or “Metal-Alternative”) was an excellent publication made all the more impressive since it was full-colour, on glossy paper, and free.  Chris Cornell was on the cover that month.  Nancy saw that and went crazy.

“Do you like Chris Cornell?”  That was the question that sucked me in.  I should have answered something neutral, like “He’s OK” or “I don’t know.”  Instead I answered something far more enthusiastic, thus springing the trap.  Once she knew I was a fan too, she wouldn’t stop.

“He’s sexy!” she began.  “He’s so sexy when he wears his Doc Martens.  Are there pictures here of him in his Doc Martens?  Do you know the Doc Martens I mean?” she asked as she flipped through M.E.A.T Magazine.  “I love Chris Cornell when he wears Doc Martens!” she continued.  “He used to have long hair but now it’s short.  I liked his long hair better, which do you like best?”

At this point, I realized I was in the thick of it and the boss had sent me in, intentionally.  He continued going about his business as I tried to extract myself from Nancy’s conversation.  He ignored my sidelong glances appealing for help.  However I was new, brand new in fact, I’d only been there a couple weeks and had no idea what to do!

“Did you know that the original bass player from Soundgarden was Japanese?  I’m Japanese too.  Did you know there are not many Asian people in rock and roll bands?”  I’d never thought about it before.  Now I wished I never had the chance to think about it.

Throughout the 20 or so minutes that I was stuck with Nancy talking to me, she had much to say on sexy grunge rockers, the members of Soundgarden, Doc Marten boots, and Asians in rock.  And of course, she asked my name.

“Nice to meet you Mike, I’m Nancy.”  And I would never, ever forget that name even though she periodically forgot mine.

When Nancy finally left without buying a damn thing, my boss said to me, “That’s your first lesson.  Don’t get into conversations with customers.”

Nancy was one of the most regular of regular customers.  As we expanded, she visited all our local stores.  She came in year after year, and many staff members became trapped in her spider-like snare of conversation.  But she had a nasty side, she wasn’t easy to deal with.  I was “lucky” she was in a good mood during our Cornell conversation.  On other occasions she called one of our guys “retarded” and made work unpleasant in general.  After Soundgarden her next obsession was classical music, and she stalked our classical sections for years.  She had a husband who liked to wait outside, but once or twice he had to come in and calm her down when she was upset about something.

To me she’ll always be Nancy the Chris Cornell fan.  I thought of Nancy when Chris died.  What happened to Nancy?  I used to see her around town, but it’s been over 10 years since I last spotted her.  Probably still haunting records stores somewhere and providing “interesting” conversations.

 

#574: GUEST SHOT – Association Through Music

GETTING MORE TAKE #574:  Association Through Music
Guest shot by Aaron Lebold

A sequel to #571:  Record Store Tales – A Different Perspective

Before I met Mike, my knowledge of music was pretty minimal, and I had not yet been able to see the influence it could have on daily life.  I mostly listened to what my friends had shown me, which was basically dance and rap music.  I did have a friend who made me a mix tape, it mostly consisted of tracks from one of those Dance Mix [also known as MuchDance] albums, but amongst all that was “Sweating Bullets” by Megadeth.  I listened to this song fairly often.

When I met Mike I absorbed a lot of his musical tastes.  I looked up to him, and he seemed to know a lot about music, and was very passionate about it. Initially I was just enjoying what I liked the sound of, but this eventually shifted to me being a  bit of a music snob, and focusing mostly on the lyrics, and the message of the song.

Some of the first bands Mike showed me were Soundgarden and Rush.*  Once I got more into music I found I enjoyed a lot of Rush’s music, but couldn’t really find much personal value in it.  There was one song, “Distant Early Warning” that I always found to be powerful, and to this day it is still my favorite song by the band.  I have a feeling that Mike still thinks of me when he hears this song.**

I also associate Rush with a different element of my life.  I had a friend who I spent a lot of time with, and  really liked the girl who lived next door to him.  I remember talking to her about music, and at this point I still didn’t really have an abundance of knowledge, so I went with the few things I had learned from Mike at the time.  I told her I liked Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Rush.  I remember her response of “Rush sucks” made me feel a bit embarrassed, because with music in general I really didn’t know what I was even talking about at that point in time.***

Another association I still have to this day is in relation to Soundgarden. It was around the time that Superunknown had been released, and Mike and I were both huge fans of the album.  At this point in my life I was starting to find value in the lyrics, and Soundgarden and Nirvana really had what I was looking for.

I used to live across the street from a public school, and one evening Mike and I went over there and were just belting out the lyrics to “Spoonman.”  I would take the more mellow parts like “All my friends are skeletons,”  and Mike would follow by screaming at full capacity “They beat the rhythm with their bones”.  This would of course prompt us to both yell “Spoonman!” in unison.

I find it pretty extraordinary that music can be tied so tightly to memory.  I saw Soundgarden play in Toronto a couple years back on their reunion tour, and even then I thought of Mike when they went into “Spoonman.”  

If you are interested in learning a bit more about me, please check out my work on Medium.  

https://medium.com/@aaronleboldbmr  

I am in the process of reflecting on my life story.  Feel free to share some of your most memorable events that you use music to help you remember in the comment section below.

Godspeed,
Aaron

* Rush I remember, but I didn’t know I could take credit for getting him into Soundgarden.  That’s pretty cool.  

** I do!

*** Perhaps I should have warned him that girls did not like Rush.

#573: Pawning Sh*t

GETTING MORE TALE #573: Pawning Shit

You’ve met new contributor Aaron, and as he begins his story, you’ll get to know him a little better.  But how did he enter Record Store Tales?

It’s a funny story, but I very briefly dated his older sister.  We all “met” online – a local electronic “BBS” or “Bulletin Board System”.  My handle was “Geddy” and his was “Capone”.  He still sometimes calls me “Geddy”!  He must have thought I was cool or something.  I wasn’t even working at the Record Store yet when we first met, but Aaron/Capone was big time into music.  He loved Guns N’ Roses.  It was 1994, and Guns N’ Roses were still big news.

When I started at the Record Store, it was like the floodgates opened!  Suddenly, via me, Aaron had access to all kinds of rare rock.  His favourite band was Nirvana, and a few months later I was getting in rare CDs like Outcesticide and Hormoaning.  We continued to bond over music, and started hanging out on weekends.  He was known to complain a bit about my “80s rock” in the car…my response was always “the driver chooses the music”!

Most weekends revolved around music in some way.  We’d hit all the major local stores:  Dr. Disc, Encore, HMV, Sunrise, and of course my store.  I remember one Sunday shift: Aaron had nothing to do that day so he just hung out at the mall during my shift.  It ended up being a great idea.  He helped out some of my customers when I was too busy!

I couldn’t even begin to guess how many discs we bought on those shopping excursions, but I remember a few.  I got Japanese imports of Kiss Killers and Judas Priest Unleashed in the East, at the Sunrise records at Conestoga Mall.  I can recall one afternoon of introducing Aaron to Iron Maiden.  Their home video Raising Hell had just come out, which was to be Bruce’s “final” show with the band.  They had a “horror magician” on stage named Simon Drake and we enjoyed that video quite a bit.  “Do all their songs sound like this?” asked Aaron, who was more used to the detuned rock of the 1990s.

I have one memory that happened a bit later on, after Aaron had his daughter.  A lady came into my store with a giant box of CDs and almost all were shit.  I had to pass on most of them for a variety of reasons.  It was mostly dance music.  They were in shit condition, they were shit titles, and we had too many of them already.  The lady didn’t care; she just didn’t want them.  “Just keep them,” she said.  She took a few bucks for the discs we could take, and left behind at least a hundred worthless discs.

Worthless to the Record Store, anyway.

We didn’t really have a specific policy at the time regarding what to do with the abandoned discs in this situation.  The store could not sell them.  I’m not sure if the Boss Man would have been pleased that I took them, which is one reason why I’ve chosen to wait 20 years to write Record Store Tales and Getting More Tale.  Aaron and I took the discs to a Cash Converters store, which was a pawn shop on the other side of town.  They were the competition.*  It was funny watching the guy go through all the CDs I had passed on, checking the discs inside and not caring about all the scratches.

One thing Aaron owned that I did not was a Super Nintendo.  I skipped the Super.  My sister had the original NES and I had the Nintendo 64.  Aaron and I had played WWF Wrestling on his Super Nintendo, and I quickly became addicted to the game.  So together we dumped the box of junk CDs at the pawn shop, where I bought a Super Nintendo and a couple games.  Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was one, a great game that still rocks today.  Unfortunately that Super Nintendo busted after two months.  Rats!

At least we had fun.  Whether it was watching shitty horror movies (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Stuff, Frogs), searching for rock and metal in record store racks, or pawning shit to buy more shit, we definitely had our fair share of fun.  And that’s the long and the short of how Aaron fits into Record Store Tales.

* The Cash Converters outlet close to our store was managed by a guy that we named “Jheri Curl Man”.

 

#571.5: Aaron Lebold BMR – Diagnosis

New guest Aaron Lebold has launched his own site on Medium!  His site, much like Record Store Tales/Getting More Tale, is his memoirs.  Aaron will still be back here doing guest shots — he’s already sent me his newest one.  I wanted to post his most recent story from his own site here because it has personal meaning to me.  Regular readers here know that my wife has epilepsy.  It has been the biggest challenge ever thrown at us.  His story reminds me of ours.  Aaron was also the first person I ever knew to have seizures, although I never saw him have one.  

Diagnosis

As I had mentioned, the teacher I had for Grade six was the same teacher I had earlier in school. This was also the same teacher that went to my mother to express concerns about my attention in class. I held a pretty big resentment towards her back then, as I felt she was saying that something was wrong with me.

One day in school, my mother came and picked me up. I didn’t know where we were going, she just told me I was going to have some tests done. We ended up at a doctors office where they attached a lot of wires to me, and put me under a pretty intense strobe light for a few minutes.

The whole process, even though at the time I really didn’t understand it, already was solidifying in my head that I was different, and that something was wrong with me. No other kids that I knew of had to go and get this type of examination.


…read more at medium.com/@aaronleboldbmr

#572: VIDEO – A Weekend at the Lake

GETTING MORE TALE #572: A Weekend at the Lake

A new summer, and new tech! My beloved BlackBerry Z10, bought over four years ago in early 2013, has bitten the dust.  That Blackberry was responsible for most of my Sausagefest and Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto videos, not to mention the hundreds of photos it provided for this site.  In that time, my BlackBerry required no service at all.  So to all those who told me not to buy a CrackBerry:

My new weapon is a Samsung (not the kind that explodes) and so far I’m very pleased with it.  This past weekend I had a chance to give its camera and video abilities a test run.  Needless to say the quality of both exceeds my four year old phone.  I was so happy with the quality that I decided to edit together a little video and post it for you.  I’ve done this for a few good reasons:

  1. It’s another excuse to showcase the excellent music of Stealth, featuring Kathryn Ladano and Richard Burrows.
  2. I have a chance to give my Samsung a dry run before using it to create the 2017 Sausagefest video in July!
  3. This video ties in nicely with Getting More Tale #567:  Creatures of the Night.  I wanted to give you a feeling for what it actually sounds like at the lake, and I captured a bit of a nice rain storm.  In this video you’ll get that, some nice crashing waves, and a raging river at near-flood levels.  In fact the water level at our location on Lake Huron has returned to its 1980s level.  Old-timers there always said the water levels rise and fall over decades-long cycles.

Please enjoy some of the music of Stealth, and the sounds of pure nature.  Look for a cameo by my dad, up to no good prob’ly.  Leave your comments below:  What do you think LeBrain’s dad is up to this time?