Best rock band in Kitchener, best sunsets in the world. Enjoy.
RECORD STORE TALES #917: The Dangerous Walk of Death
Some of my fond childhood places no longer exist. What I would give to see some of those places again, as they were in my memories. Hi-Way Market, the old Record Store at the mall, or my grandpa’s old place in Guelph. Scant photos exist today.
I did find a couple of pictures from one old place that is no longer as it was. And that place is called the Dangerous Walk of Death.
One of the fulfilling activities at the cottage was to go for a long walk. If you said “I’m going for a walk,” it could mean you’d be gone for hours. There was so much to explore in just our little subdivision. If we walked to the north, there was a river and sometimes we’d walk along the riverbed and explore it inland. To the south was another river and the Dangerous Walk of Death.
My dad and sister discovered this place. There was a road to the south we called the “K” road. Today it is Kuehner Street. It had developments on both sides and came to an abrupt end after several cottages. It ended at a trail, and that is where our fun began. When we were very young, I used to scared my sister by telling her that “Henry the Hermit” lived in the very woods that our little trail crossed through. (I also convinced my cousin that sharks could swim up through the pipes into the toilets.)
When you entered the trail, you were immediately swallowed by the trees and things got dark quickly. It was a narrow space but you never passed anyone else. You had to walk single file. It seemed to be our place and our place alone.
If you traced this trail all the way to the end, there was a clearing where an old abandoned cottage once burned down. Then, the river that my dad dubbed “Dead Man’s River”. He called it that for good reason. Snapping turtles were known to make their home there. We were careful not to step in the waters of Dead Man’s River.
Today there is a quaint little walking bridge that takes you over to the next subdivision. In our day, it was only possible to cross when the riverbed was dry. But crossing was not the way to the Dangerous Walk of Death. To embark on that journey, one had to follow the river inland.
Once again, my dad and sister found the inland path. It had obviously been purposely cleared by someone many years ago. It ran parallel to the river, through the deep forest. Dad used to tell us that many of these trails were original indigenous hunting grounds. He was probably right. Artefacts were found by an archaeological team several years ago that proved the original inhabitants used to fish there. We were acutely aware that we were on very old land when we went on our walks. The wilderness had probably not changed that much and it was easy to imagine stepping back in time and bumping into a tribe of fishermen and hunters. They would have had a different name for this place.
Inland we walked, through different kinds of terrain. There was one area we called “stump land”. You had to watch your step, and walking there at night was foolish. Many times did one of us trip in our journey through stump land.
In the middle of stump land was a very small clearing with a large rock in the middle of it. Sitting Rock. This was our stopping point. It was quite scenic. The sun would dance through the trees making spectacular patterns of light on the ground. Fortunately I have a picture of this very place as it was in the mid-90s. An ex-girlfriend and I made a trip to the lake in August 1995 and took this picture. A much skinnier me is seated upon the rock. My Jann Arden “Insensitive” hat, a free promo from the Record Store, sits on my melon. And there I am on my mossy seat. I used to think this would be a cool spot to film a music video — me on acoustic guitar. Once, I sketched a picture of how cool I’d look playing acoustic guitar on top of Sitting Rock, me and my mullet and a guitar I couldn’t play. In the real photo, to my right you can see the trail behind. But this was not the place to turn back. Greater challenges and better views were ahead.
Following the trail further inland, you would reach a spot that appeared to be the end of the line. However if you pushed through the overgrown branches, you would find a sparsely wooded area that went steeply uphill. Watch your step that you don’t go over the Cliffs of Insanity.
This was the end of our odyssey. Here the trees cleared again and you could look down upon the river below. I do not have a picture of the view from here, but I do have a picture of us crouching at the edge of the cliff. The only hint of the chasm beneath are the trees behind us. You can tell from the distance and height of these trees that there must be a large gorge behind.
Here we usually turned back. In younger and more adventurous years we kept venturing inland through the woods until we finally hit the main road. Then we would walk back home. But that way was far longer and stank of anticlimax. Our pilgrimage’s natural end was at the cliffs and I’m glad I at least have a partial photographic document of this walk.
If Sitting Rock is still there, then it is inaccessible and on private land. These photos could be the only ones that exist of our old stomping grounds. And before us, the ones that lived off this land.
GETTING MORE TALE #857: Obsessed With Rock
As this summer flies by, I’m reminded of seasons past. My dad always took the same vacations in the summer: one week in July and two in August. That means we’d be up at the cottage for that time, and I wanted to be well stocked with music. Meaning, I had to bring all my music. All my cassettes, all my vinyl. Everything.
It was a process, to say the least. All my tape cases had to be wedged between seats of the car, and I had “a few” tape cases. Then I took apart my jury-rigged stereo setup and carefully prepared it for transportation. I taped down the tone arm on the turntable so it wouldn’t fly about. I packed up all my wires, head cleaners, and record brushes. My ghetto blaster and record player were loaded onto a seat in the car, with my dad’s old 8-track deck/receiver at the bottom. I was using it as a pre-amp for the turntable, and it worked after a fashion.
My treasured Kiss cassettes were not in a case. They occupied a shelf in my bedroom, with two custom ceramic Kiss bookends. I placed the bookends and tapes into a plastic grocery bag for transport. Upon arrival at the lake, I set them all up on another shelf, always in chronological order. It’s funny to think that I didn’t get an obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis until I was in my 40s. I was pretty clearly already there in my early teens.
Once I got everything hooked up again at the cottage (stealing extension cords from other rooms), I’d begin blasting the rock. With OCD firmly in control, I first had to finish listening to whatever tape was in my Walkman during the car trip. Only then would I choose what I would be listening to that night.
It’s all very clearly obsessive behaviour, but I guess people were not as aware of various mental health issues back then in the 80s.
Then and now, I loved listening to music at the lake. I liked to blast it, which sometimes earned a noise complaint from the parents. They were pretty good about it though. They indulged my musical obsession though never quite understanding it. I only had one true love and it was rock and roll.
Something else I enjoyed very much was buying new music while on summer vacation at the lake. There were not many stores that carried anything good. Don’s Hi-Fi, and Stedman’s were all that was available when I was really young. They sure didn’t have much. Still, listening to Priest…Live! when it was brand new, and breaking the seal at the lake was special. It’s hard to articulate exactly what was special about it. Your normal listening space is a familiar place. Most things you hear, you first played in your own home. When you get to experience an album on less familiar territory for the first few times, it develops a different flavour. It’s not something you can hear, it’s just something you can feel. I guess that’s why I always see myself playing darts in the back yard at the lake every time I hear Priest…Live!
Perhaps that is a feeling only a music obsessive gets.
When we returned from vacation, it felt like I would be welcoming my new albums into their new home. This is where you live now, Priest. This is where I am going to be experiencing you from now on.
I never claimed to be normal. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ve often boasted of not just “liking” music, but actually “loving” it deeply. Maybe the only thing I’m actually boasting about is mental illness!
Whatever. These are all good memories. Although I speak fondly of it today, as a kid I would have chosen to stay home if I was old enough. I missed being away from my friends, my rock magazines, my Pepsi Power Hour and all that stuff. I missed talking about and listening to music with my best friend Bob. Truth told, by packing up all music with me and hauling it up to the lake, I was trying to retain one aspect of being at home, which is my music collection. Today the obsession remains, but I can do the same job with a laptop. Crazy! I never would have imagined that as a kid.
There are worse things to be hooked on other than rock and roll. If it makes you feel so good, can it be so bad?
You don’t have to feel obligated to watch this video. These videos are more for me than anyone else. This time I wanted to keep intact the camera audio from the weekend. The sights and sounds (and smells, natch) of the countryside are preserved here. Instead of mixing my still and moving pictures as I usually do, all the stills can be found in the latter part of this video accompanied by the track “Masked” by Dr. Kathryn Ladano.
I saw a lot of birds this weekend (including geese and a family of wild turkeys) and managed to capture a bit on video. Nature lovers will enjoy the wildlife and greenery, the stormy skies and the churning lake. There are some seriously breathtaking pictures of the sky in this video, as well as a blooper and cameos by Sith Lords and Sausagefesters.
Wind and rain aside, it was a lovely weekend full of music, live streaming, barbecuing and the beach.
Too exhausted to write after that white-knuckle drive home. I am disappointed that the camera footage doesn’t convey the sheer terror of 5-6 feet of visibility in near non-stop rain.
So this is what you get, no metal reviews today, just a video of the drive home set to music. After editing (I slowed the video down in some of the small towns so you could get a better look at rural Ontario) it came to be the exact length of a song that I can use called “A Beautiful Day” by Tempted Fate, a Raw M.E.A.T band. Contrary to the lyrics though, it was thankfully not a beautiful day to die and we made it home in one piece although exhaused from the effort.
Enjoy the tune!
Instead of a Sunday Chuckle, I give you something better: this video (which has a couple chuckles in it) and three Max the Axe songs: “River Grand”, “Overload” and “Gods on the Radio”.
The video above is just a summation of our awesome weekend. Look for a cameo by Superdekes from our Live Streamin’ Weekend. I hope you were able to stay cool in this heat as I was! Sometimes people talk about the Top Ten Swims they’ve ever had in their lives. I may have had two of the top ten this weekend. You be the judge!
And thank you to John Snow of 2 Loud 2 Old Music for the birthday gift below. I promise I will review it soon!
Also a special Happy Birthday to my Grandma Dolly who turns 96 today!
A sequel to #548: Bad Boys
GETTING MORE TALE #838: Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
I couldn’t believe it when that red Daytona pulled into the cottage driveway.
“Is that Bob?” asked my dad. It sure was!
Bob’s parents had a trailer not too far from our cottage, part way between Kincardine and Goderich. It wasn’t unusual for him to drop in, but this time was different. He was about to start a new job and wanted a little vacation before his first day. He chose to come and stay at the cottage with us!
You might think it strange that he just showed up unannounced, but that’s not unusual for cottagers. My dad’s friend Ron often showed up with his whole family, completely unexpected. Bob had an open invitation; he was always welcome.
We raised hell that week. Bob didn’t know, but my cousin Geoffrey and his family were also scheduled to visit. Geoffrey was…how do I put this? Hyperactive was the word they used, but at that age, he was…impossible! I am glad he had since turned into a fine normal young man, but back then you could only take so much Geoff at a time! Naturally, Bob and I ganged up against him, which was a nice change of pace! It was during that week that Geoff infamously pierced his ear, while we took the blame for it. I didn’t trick Geoff into anything, I just chickened out. But that was just one of the many things we did that week.
Bob was obsessed with one album in particular that summer: Extreme’s Pornograffitti. In that Daytona, we all cruised endlessly to the sounds of that album. My grandmother, in the cottage two doors down, was not impressed by our loud hootin’ and hollerin’. I was at that age when I thought being loud and obnoxious was funny.
Pornograffitti is a special album, but that summer it was extra-special. We played it on a loop, and I had just about every song memorized. I asked for and received it for my birthday later that month. While I liked all the rockers, “Hole Hearted” really hit me where it counts. Its melancholy exuberance reflected how I felt at that time. (I know that sounds like a contradiction!) I was both excited and scared to be starting a new journey in my life, at University. Fall was only a couple months away and I was nervous. Whatever the case, the acoustic strumming of “Hole Hearted” was exactly how I felt, before I jumped into the deep end of school.
It was a beautiful summer, bright and warm. Bob and I took the canoe out onto the lake. There was a rock far from the shore, that was just inches below the water. Finding it was the trick. We were determined! I knew roughly where the rock was located, but once you’re out on the featureless water, it was difficult to pinpoint. Yet we found it relatively easily, by carefully looking for little crests of water where it rolled inches over that rock.
We dropped anchor and stepped onto the rock. There was room for both of us. Singing heavy metal songs at the top of our lungs, we both “mooned” the shore. We were so far out that nobody would have been able to see. I guess I’ve always been an exhibitionist. But we did it — we mooned a crowded Lorne Beach.
As my dad likes to remind me, we could have been arrested!
Ah well. “We didn’t,” was my answer then and now!
We had huge beach fires at night, and found plenty of activity during the days. There was one afternoon that we took a trip up to Bruce Nuclear. We usually did that once a year, to go on the tour. There were actually two tours: one indoors through the visitor’s centre, and a bus tour through the grounds. Bob came with the family on the bus tour. And we were awful. I don’t mind saying so. That poor tour guide had to put up with our running commentary. The grounds included nature preserves, and she was telling us about the wild deer that you could sometimes see in the trees to our right.
“Yeah, that one has two heads!” chuckled Bob out loud. Chuckled, or heckled? That’s up to interpretation.
I like to say that we were like Tom Green, but without the video camera. If only we had one! We were definitely a public nuisance. And I’m definitely an old fart now, because I would find that behaviour annoying today.
But we didn’t hurt anybody. Nobody got arrested. We were loud and annoyed a few people, but at the time I thought that was very rock n’ roll. We were ahead of our time. My cousin started his summer by getting a hole in his ear and Bob and I had one last hoorah together. That all sounds real good to me.
A sequel to #774.5: Seasons Ends. Buckle up, it’s a busy one!
GETTING MORE TALE #785: Seasons End (Oh Deer)
+ BONUS Nutshell Review: El Camino – A Breaking Bad Movie
+ BONUS Star Wars – The Black Series 6″ figures “Abandoned” Video Reviews
“Be careful of the deer problem,” said my dad when I phoned him from Lucknow, about 20 or 30 minutes away from the cottage.
“Don’t worry, I’ll drive safe,” I reassured him in that voice that hardly reassured him.
“You know about the deer problem?” he asked to confirm.
No, but now I did. Funny thing; I’d been driving up to the lake by myself for over 20 years and never came close to hitting a deer. There are warning signs along all the major roads, some with flashing yellow lights. Turns out Thanksgiving 2019 was my first on-the-road deer sighting.
It got dark quick after Lucknow, and soon it was like pitch. I had been driving slower since the sun went down but it was Jen who saw the deer first. I slowed down carefully until he jumped away unto the brush. The guy behind me wasn’t paying attention and almost rear-ended me.
It’s so strange to review the dashcam footage afterwards. What felt like an eternal moment of tense surprise was really only seven seconds.*
Until that moment, we were wrapped deep in Iron Maiden. I played the first album, with Paul Di’Anno, and the bonus tracks for the full-on experience. This was music I’d been listening to for 35 years and under the weight of all that nostalgia, I immediately began singing along. I remember “Charlotte the Harlot” coming up just as we were detouring past a town called Dorking. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s funny. Once completed, we switched over to Piece of Mind. That’s the Maiden studio album that I have the longest deep relationship with. Every word was dancing on my tongue, even “Revelations”. But then again, I remember having that song memorised back in highschool. My friend Andy and I sang it back to a rap kid named Patrick Barnes who claimed that metal lyrics are just unintelligible noise and nonsense.
All this Maiden reminiscence led to the writing of a new future chapter of Getting More Tale called “Run 2 the Hills”, a direct sequel to Record Store Tales Part 1. Look for that one in the near future.
We had the near miss with the deer after both albums were complete, and I’d started on random tunes from Powerslave. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was the song playing when Bambi was spared by some good driving.
Upon arrival, I had get my Netflix fired up to watch El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Nutshell review:
I didn’t think I cared where Jesse Pinkman went at the end of Breaking Bad. Turns out, I cared enough to watch this well-written coda to a great TV series. Aaron Paul rules, equipped with very little dialogue and only his body language. Paul gives us a hard insight to the PTSD-infested survivor Pinkman. Every cameo you desire is in store via relevant flashbacks, fleshing out the original series a little bit. After a while, you, like Pinkman, are disoriented and can’t remember if you’re watching past or present.
It was a little freaky when I finished the film, went on Twitter, and saw Bryan Cranston announced that Robert Forster had died, just after I watched his final film.
In the morning I wrote up the rough draft of my new Maiden chapter while it was all fresh in my head, but I otherwise accomplished very little, creatively speaking.
I tried, I really did try. When mom & dad stepped out of the house for a few minutes I thought I could squeeze in time for a Star Wars Black Series video review. You’ll see what happened. Something like this occurred any time I attempted to make a video. So what you see is what you get; I gave up!
For entertainment use only. Back off, fanboys!
Instead of using my creative juices for this one final weekend of the lake this season, I decided to pour it into cooking instead. I picked up three beautiful steaks and a pound of lobster tail. I made some garlic butter, clarified it, and put the tail on the grill. Everything was phenomenal. I felt like we ended the season right with these meals.
There was the traditional turkey dinner the following night too, stuffed with goodness, but I feel the lobster tail and the steaks really put a cap on the season.
The drive home was enabled by Twisted Sister’s Live at the Marquee and The Razors Edge by AC/DC. I don’t know how often I’ve played The Razors Edge in the car since it came out before I could drive. Could this have been the first time? I liked it better in the car than I do sitting at home. As for Twisted Sister, Live at the Marquee is by far their greatest live product. The raw heavy stage purity can’t be touched.
And now we are home, preparing for the arrival of winter routines and monotony. Hibernation begins. But spring will return again, and with it, so will the roadtrips, the steaks, and the sun.
Stay warm, my friends!
* It was just a young deer When you start having more frequent animal sightings in cottage country like this, it means they are being displaced from somewhere else. There has been a lot of building and development this year.
GETTING MORE TALE #781: What Happened to C-3PO’s Hand? The Story
Pardon the volume on this video, I really struggled with it and then said “fuck it”.
The first weekend of August is a long weekend in Ontario. It’s called the Civic holiday, but people in retail still have to work it. I did, almost every single year at the Record Store. This year we spent the holiday at the lake, where I secretly began work on the next review series here at mikeladano.com. With the encouragement of my good buddy Superdekes, two posts were completed at the lake, on the front porch. You couldn’t have asked for a better setting.
As usual I’ve assembled a video of some of our weekend fun, all to the tune of Max the Axe (“My Daddy Was A Murderin’ Man”, and “Call of the Wild”). Check out crystal clear waters, mountains of food, and rock and roll. And of course that sneak preview for our next review series!