RECORD STORE TALES #948: Post-script
In this life, at least since 2018, we have learned to take nothing for granted. We treat every trip to the cottage like it’s the last, but I really didn’t expect to get back this late in the season.
With some Judas Priest on the stereo (Sad Wings of Destiny), we made one more uneventful trip up north. The weather forecast was not good, but the Friday was still lovely. We arrived early afternoon and I set up my laptop and speakers on the front porch for what really might be the last time in 2021. I did not waste a note of music. It was raining but the overhang kept me dry. Listening to song after song, I chose my Top 5 best album closing tracks for that night’s show. Finalized!
The best office you could want, rain or shine
I can’t remember the last time we made it to the lake this late in October. Friday I wore shorts. Saturday was another story….
I woke up early Saturday morning and went for a walk in the pitch black. It was wet from the rain but otherwise warm and dead quiet. A few hours later, the wind and rain picked up and Saturday became an “indoor day”.
I went down to the beach for a few moments to capture some video but I couldn’t make it further than the treeline. The wind was blasting the rain right through my clothes. It’s been many years since I’ve experienced that kind of weather. We battened down the hatches and prepared for a cold one. It was a good day for movies, music and toys. The heat went on and so did the long pants!
You can feel this picture
Sunday was the really interesting day. The reality was hitting me that it could possibly be months before we saw this place again. I was trying to really absorb the sounds, sights and feelings. I had two flashbacks, and they were intense.
The first happened in the early morning. I was cleaning the kitchen and put on some tunes to work to. I chose Rock and Roll Over by Kiss, as it had the classic Kiss vibe I wanted and strong cottage memories associated with it. The first time I heard Rock and Roll Over was there at the cottage – it was the last Kiss studio album I needed. I would have been about 15. As I was washing the dishes, singing and dancing to “Mr. Speed” I suddenly had the first flashback. I was in that very kitchen with my best friend Bob and I was a teenager again. We were doing the dishes and rocking out to Kiss. It was entirely in my imagination. We never washed the dishes to Kiss that I can think of. Yes the parents would usually ask us to help with the dishes, and any time we had company over, I conceded because I didn’t want to look like a spoiled brat. But we never did it with music playing, that I can remember. But we would have if we could.
It was such an intense feeling that I needed to stop what I was doing and take a breath. I could literally see us both, washing the dishes and rocking to Kiss. It probably never happened that way but my flashback didn’t care.
Once that intense experience had passed and the kitchen was clean, I went outside to wander and take some last pictures. My 49th season in this place. An awesome season and truly one of the very best. It was then that I had the second intense flashback.
I was walking around the side of the cottage, thinking about how awesome it was to be walking around shirtless in this paradise all summer. And then suddenly – I was. For a brief moment the sun was blasting my shirtless skin. And then it was over. It was like when Will Byers suddenly flashes into the Update Down on Stranger Things. In a blink it ended and was gone. I just enjoyed the experience. I’d like more flashbacks like this to happen. It’s all about the setting and the mindset.
Once Jen and I had finished packing, I was locking up and I noticed her at the end of the driveway staring at the lake. It is her favourite place in the world; she calls it her “safe place”. I joined her and asked if she wanted to take one more look around. We walked down to the windy beach one more time and just drank it all in. The sight of the churning lake, the sound of the crashing waves, and the feeling of the wind on our skin.
And that was it. With heavy heart we started the car and hit the road. If that was the end of the season, by God we had a good one! Some of the best tunes, meals, swimming, live shows and videos were had this year. An unforgettable summer, interviewing rock stars from the comfort of the front porch with Lake Huron before me. Top that, 2022.
A visual supplement to Record Store Tales #944: Mosquito Song
Playing around with faster editing to suit the musical track: “Thirsty and Miserable”, the new Black Flag cover by Max the Axe, from the Oktoberfest Cheer EP. Enjoy a good look at some wild (and probably poisonous) mushrooms! Cameo by Classic Loki.
Now that the new Max the Axe EP, Oktoberfest Cheer, has been released, I am happy to present to you their new never-before-heard original “Pygmy Blowdart”. Lead singer Eric Litwiller stressed to me (more than once) “I did not write the lyrics”.
Video footage was taken the last weekend of August, but held on to until I could use some fresh new Max music. Check out “Pygmy Blowdart” and let Max and Meat know what you think of this new tune in the comments below!
Available at Encore Records.
RECORD STORE TALES #936: Captain Crash
The summer of ’85 was going swimmingly. We were on summer holidays at the lake and I was still really into Quiet Riot. With their two albums (the only two I knew of!) on my Sanyo, and with boxes full of Transformers to play with, I was having a great summer.
Earlier that year, my dad bought for me a minibike from a school kid. It had a lawnmower engine but could get moving at a pretty good clip. The cottage was the best place for it, since it was all dirt roads and trails. I had a hockey helmet and that had to be good enough for head protection. I loved that bike, but it did not love me back. The chain had a habit of coming loose, and it was always hit or miss whether it would start or not.
Sometimes I’d ride the bike all the way down to Dead Man’s River, others I’d stick to the roads where it was easier going. I enjoyed the numb feeling in my hands from the vibrating frame after an afternoon riding. I also liked cleaning and painting details on it. But mostly I liked the feeling of getting it up to speed.
I was riding up and down our little road one afternoon the summer when I tried to accelerate, but the chain came off again. Usually it just fell fell off and the bike went dead, but this time it locked up and I went right over the handlebars. Worse, the chain had taken a chunk of flesh out of my left leg on the inner knee. The soft spot where the meat is. There was an inch-long gash packed with grease from the chain. My knees, elbows and wrists were all banged up and bleeding from the landing.
I needed stitches so the next obvious thing to do would have been to go to the hospital. This is not what happened.
A neighbour helped me hobble home where my family frantically began fussing over me. The next minutes or hours are a blur. A lot of telling me I had to go to the hospital, a lot of screaming and refusing, my dad promising he would buy me a toy if I let him look at my leg. I would not let anyone near it.
Eventually, however, I conceded to remove my hands from my bleeding wound, though not to go to any damn hospital. I let my mom and dad mop up the blood and grease, and bandage my leg. I demanded my new toy, and knocked out hard to sleep.
The rest of the summer consisted of regular checking and cleaning of the wound, which didn’t fully heal for months. I was not allowed to swim for fear of infection, and I couldn’t run. I was regularly reminded that this wouldn’t have been the case of I had gone to the hospital. But I got my toy. My dad made sure, and my sister made sure I got the right one.
She returned with the Autobot named Swoop, a Dinobot that turned into a pterodactyl. He was one of the coolest toys of the entire G1 line, with plenty of accessories, die-cast parts and chromed plastic. He even had landing gear if you wanted to land him like an airplane. And he made me forget about the pain in my knee.
I can’t believe how stupidly stubborn I was. And you have to believe I was impossible if my parents couldn’t force me to go to a hospital. And that was pretty much it for me and the bike. The irony here is that I named the bike “Christine” after the car from the Stephen King novel that ultimately gets its owner killed. I regret that decision too!
RECORD STORE TALES #927: Red Sun, Red Meat, Ready to Rock
When the city traffic finally abated and we were on our way, only then did we begin to enjoy the music.
We had an historic soundtrack for both the trips to and from the lake. On Thursday night for the drive up we enjoyed:
2021’s musical selections are strong. Lee Aaron proved she has the album necessary for a good-time summer, and Polychuck played well in the car. ZZ Top was obviously spun in tribute to the late great Dusty Hill. When Afterburner concluded, we played “I Got the Six”, and “Sharp Dressed Man”.
On the Sunday drive home, Jen slept while I got nostalgic for the year 1989 with:
- Aerosmith – Pump
- Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood
My feelings this time out were that Dr. Feelgood is tremendously overrated while Pump is not. Pump is solid and probably the last time Aerosmith nailed it front to back.
On the front deck this weekend, I spun a lot of music. Most notably Guns N’ Roses’ new song “Absurd” about six times in a row. I also listened to a new album by group out of Halifax called War & Sin that you will be hearing about. The album is called The War Within and it hits all the bases, like good heavy metal with diverse influences. The singer reminds me of Blaze Bayley, but in a good way. You can check out the album on iTunes.
I had a couple good fires this weekend, and the soundtrack of Kiss went well in that setting. A cottage weekend without Kiss just isn’t right for my soul. This weekend I chose Dressed to Kill and Destroyer. I brought the laptop over to the fireplace and let Kiss do the rest.
It was a solid three day weekend anchored by music, fire, food and swimming. On Saturday I believe I went for five swims total. The last was a sunset swim and we got some pretty cool video footage that you can now enjoy with me.
RECORD STORE TALES #926 The Things We Took For Granted
The regular car trip to the lake was either tremendous fun or terrible torture. It all depended on what kind of mood I was in, I guess. I’d pester my sister and my dad would threaten to pull over. Or, I’d be occupied reading a novel or comic.
If we were lucky, the trip would start at McDonalds. I would always get two cheeseburgers. Those slippery little burgers were always so good. I could eat about 10 in a row right about now.
Keeping two kids entertained on a two hour drive isn’t easy but my parents did a good job. First there was the radio. When Mom wasn’t listening to the ball game, my dad would put on something more entertaining. In the 70s, it was the Star Wars radio drama. Later on it was CBC and the pre-TV Royal Canadian Air Farce, or the science show Quirks & Quarks hosted first by David Suzuki, and later by Jay Ingram.
My dad took advantage of my early fascination with maps to keep me occupied. He would pull out the road map, show our route, and have me track our progress. He helped me memorize the way to the lake: Dorking, Listowel, Molesworth, left turn at Bluevale, then Wingham, Whitechurch, Lucknow, a right at Amberley and finally Kincardine. Thirst would kick in mid-way (probably from all that McDonalds) so a regular stop was made at this lonely pop machine in the middle of Lucknow. Lucknow used to be the deadest of towns, not that it is very happening now, but it used to be you’d never see a soul there. But they had this one pop machine in the middle of town. Just as it was starting to get dark, Dad would pull over in Lucknow and get me a pop to tide me over. Eventually that road map became too tattered and torn, but that’s how I learned to get to the lake from home.
Upon the advent of the Walkman, my sister and I were better able to entertain ourselves. Two and a half tapes were what it took to get you from home to the lake. We had to remember fresh batteries. Remember those awful Walkman earphones? It seemed all you could get were those terrible foam-padded rinky-dink things that came free with every player. The wires were always shorting out to mono and you couldn’t keep those things secure on your head. Not to mention the quality of the tapes and players could afford. But it kept us entertained. We didn’t know any better.
Those crap kind of earphones!
Every time we went to the lake as kids, I felt a certain pang for home. When we were there for any significant time, there were things I hated about being away. I missed my friends, my Atari games, my GI Joes, my comics. I missed well-kept green city grass to lie down on, not the stony sandy lawns at the lake. I missed cable TV and the good stores with all the cool stuff you couldn’t get in the country. We didn’t appreciate what we did have in the country. So it was no surprise, when I got old enough, that I stayed home more and more often. There was a trial run in grade 10 when they left me home one Sunday, while they went up for a day and back in the evening. I think I spent it working on my cardboard air guitar.
In August of 1991 my parents let me stay home for two weeks alone while they went to the lake. And it was actually pretty awesome.
I had all kinds of plans. Movie nights every night, with snacks. I went to my friend Peter’s house, who had a massive VHS collection from working at Steve’s TV, and I borrowed at least a dozen films. I remember two impactful flicks: Tremors and The Abyss. Tremors was an enjoyable popcorn movie, but I was blown away by The Abyss. I couldn’t wait to tell my sister about this cool science fiction movie I discovered. It had a reputation as a flop. It defied expectations A surprisingly excellent movie.
I had enough food to eat like a king for a week, plus pop and chips. I checked out late night television. I discovered the Metal Mike show. I listened to music in the living room, not just my bedroom. My dad usually monopolised entertainment in the house. The TV remote was his. The VCR was under his jurisdiction. To have all this time to myself, and have movie nights and watch TV shows I’d never seen before, was exciting. Plus I’d get to tape stuff from Pepsi Power Hour that week while it was still on the air.
I did have one ulterior motive. There was a girl I like named Tracey. I was introduced to Tracey by a school friend. I had a limited amount of summer left to try and hang out with her. She was playing hard to get. I was determined to get some time with her while I was home. Finally she committed to a date. We met up at Stanley Park Mall and walked from there to my place to watch music videos. And that was about it. I remember she liked the looks of Mike Howe from Metal Church. That was the most memorable thing about that day with Tracey. Watching the Pepsi Power Hour, and her liking Mike Howe. I distinctly remember they were covering the Operation Rock & Roll tour with Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Metal Church and Dangerous Toys. That would have made it the week of August 19, 1991. Toronto was the final date on the tour, and infamously the last Judas Priest show before Rob Halford quit to go solo. MuchMusic had an interview by Michael Williams with Rob, pre-accident. Yes, pre-accident: Rob hit his head on a lighting truss, riding his motorcycle out on stage during the opening number “Hell Bent For Leather”.
The chance to hang out with Tracey was the main reason I stayed home that August, but regardless of the obsession with Mike Howe, not Ladano, I had an amazing time. School was starting soon, and I’d be entering a new world at Wilfrid Laurier University, where I knew nobody and had no idea what to expect. The remaining days of summer were a cherished time. Every last moment was savoured.
I spent the balance of my time alone walking to the mall, checking out music, and just enjoying having the house. I relished being able to play my music as loudly as I wanted, and stay up late every night, checking out whatever happened on TV after that hour. The barbecue made many, many hot dogs. I’m sure they made me do stuff like mow the lawn while they were gone. I did all the dishes by hand because I didn’t know how to use the dishwasher! I might even have done laundry. I wasn’t bored! But I missed them and was glad when they got home.
After all I had to tell them all about The Abyss!
Best rock band in Kitchener, best sunsets in the world. Enjoy.
RECORD STORE TALES #919: Robert Grass
During the summer of 1988, we were lucky to have some cottage visits with the Szabo family. They had been friends for years. Robert Szabo is now a successful guitar player/singer/songwriter. Back then he was a neighbour from school, but his younger siblings Steve and Michelle were also good friends. They came to visit us at our cottage, and then we went to go and visit them at their place in Grand Bend. A much busier beach town.
When they came to visit us, we treated them to a backyard barbecue and some fun and amusements. Steven and Michelle came; Rob was busy elsewhere. We busted out the games and, as usual, improvised. We played a drawing game based on the TV show Win, Lose or Draw. You had to draw sketches and people guessed the words you were trying to draw. We used coloured markers and went to town on good ol’ lined paper.
We were having a great time but after a few rounds, people were guessing too easily. I decided to throw a curve ball and pick something to draw that would be harder to guess. A musical artist but an obvious one that people associated with me. I chose “Robert Plant”, because I thought it was a recognizable enough name, but not an obvious pick. Young kids in 1988 were not all familiar with Robert Plant, but some of us were.
Two words. First word!
I drew Steven and Michelle’s family, with Robert as the tallest. They successfully guessed “Robert” as the first word. I hoped this wasn’t too easy.
Second word. I grabbed a green marker and started drawing plants. They were having trouble guessing the second word. Shrubs, weeds, and….
“ROBERT GRASS!” yelled my sister Kathryn, seemingly in victory.
I laughed. “Who the hell is Robert Grass?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” she answered.
A logical answer I suppose since I did draw some grass with my plants. After much laughter and giggling, they eventually got the correct guy, Robert Plant, which made a lot more sense than Robert Grass. And within a year or so, my sister even owned Now and Zen on cassette! That more than made up for her wrong guess.
Can you identify this strange vehicle?