nature

#682: Shady Street

GETTING MORE TALE #682: Shady Street

I like where I live.  It’s quiet.  There’s lots of green.  There’s a park across the street.  In the summer, baseball teams play there.  Most people here are seniors.  Not a lot goes on.  I’m probably the loudest neighbour, and that’s not saying much.  You can usually catch me cruising home after work, some Kiss on the car stereo.  That aside, there’s only a little noise pollution.

Down at the end of the street, let’s call it “Shady Street”, there is a meandering roadway that leads to a dead end.  This is my favourite place for morning walks.  The tree cover keeps it cool, and you never have to worry about traffic.  Therefore it’s a perfect stroll for hard rock on the earbuds.  Because it’s so secluded, you can throw in some air guitar if you have a good song going.  Nobody’s going to see you.  There’s nothing down there.

Well, almost nothing.

At the very end, right next to the dead end sign, is an old security camera.  It has been there for years.  To the left, a single long driveway dotted with multiple imposing “NO TRESPASSING” signs.  At the top of that long driveway, a large house with seemingly no occupants.  Many years ago, I read a story about a grow operation that was busted on Shady Street.  I assumed it had to be that house.  In the yellow pages, the address is listed as “Shady Street Electronics”.  But you rarely saw any customers, or inhabitants for that matter, going down to the very end of Shady Street.

Clearly suspicious, but the grow operation was a long time ago.  Walks down Shady Street have continued to be pleasant, with or without the earbuds.  Air guitar is still optional.

This spring, however, I have observed some unusual activity.

Two weeks ago, a group of three teenagers on bicycles sped down Shady Street and did not turn around at the end.  What would three teenagers on bikes be in such a rush to do down the dead end road?  It struck me as odd immediately.  I’ve never seen that before.

Last week, I crossed paths with a dirty guy on a bike heading down there, carrying a large black garbage bag.

I wonder if that house at the end of Shady Street is back in business again.

This is my neighbourhood, and I’m going to take my walks where I take my walks.  But I might leave my earbuds at home next time, if traffic is indeed picking up….

 

 

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#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?

 

DVD REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls – Live In Alaska (2002)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Live In Alaska (2002 Earth Escapes DVD)

I bought this for myself the week after I broke up with Radio Station Girl, looking for some new music to soothe my soul.  This DVD hit the spot for two reasons: the music and the scenery.  I like a lot of Goo Goo Dolls’ albums, and I really love the icy landscapes of the north.  Live In Alaska delivers on both.  From a series called “Music in High Places”, the DVD takes us all the way to Arctic Circle among the glaciers.  The band don’t play a traditional concert.  Instead they made videos in unusual locations, such as outdoors next to a partially frozen lake in the tundra.

That is the scene for “Black Balloon”.  There must have been some serious technical challenges to record there.  There are scenes of people arriving by small plane and air drops of equipment by helicopter, and then getting into position via rubber dinghy.   Wouldn’t it be hard acoustically to record songs in an open expanse?  I don’t know, but they did it and I like it.  The visuals add another element, and it surely must have been inspiring for the band to play in such a clean, isolated environment.

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Up next, the Dolls get to participate in the sport of dogsledding on Punchbowl glacier.  Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik says, “I have a really cool job. I get to do stuff like this,” and I’m jealous!  It’s warm enough for just short sleeves.  He is then taken by helicopter to an even more beautiful and remote location.  Standing on an ice island in the middle of a sparkling blue lake in the middle of Knik glacier, Rzeznik sings “Acoustic #3”, and it’s haunting.  It’s also a sight to behold.  The frigid water is bluer than anything you have seen before, not to mention this is one of his most beautiful songs.  You can hear the water gurgling faintly behind.

The band reconvenes in Hope, Alaksa at a tiny little bar to play the hit “Broadway” acoustically.  If the locals know who they are, they don’t let on, but one does play harmonica with them.  This is one of their best tunes, and I like the sound of it in this environment.  Only one thing pisses me off, and that’s interrupting the damn song to edit in some interview footage!   Bad editing.  I don’t know why some videos do this — splice interviews into the middle of the song.  Fucking stop it!  I hate that!  Fortunately, one of the DVD bonus features is something called “just the music”, where you can watch the song uninterrupted.

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Going mudsliding looks like a ton of fun.  The Dolls had a blast playing this game with kids, and getting absolutely covered in mud in the process.  (Rzeznik after cleaning: “It looked like a mud bomb went off in my bathroom.”)  Another cool concert location is on a train, where “Here Is Gone” is performed.  I must wonder if this was a technical nightmare to record.  The train appears to be moving extra slowly, perhaps to reduce noise.  I am sure this scene was meticulously planned.  The train was a special charter for the Dolls, and they could start and stop as they pleased.  The band are in a coach car with a glass dome roof.  The train enters a tunnel mid song, and things get dark, before it emerges in the light again at the end of the tune.  Really cool shot.

Flying to Kotzebue, Alaska the band are greeting by a cheering crowd.  The local news crews are out for this major event!  The next concert location is a bridge, where they play “Big Machine”.  This song isn’t as strong acoustically.  The album version with its electric riff is more interesting, but hey.  It’s the outdoors in Alaska in the summertime.  What more do you need?

Taking a break from performing for a moment, the band next get to enjoy some native culture and music.  But then it’s back to work, and they play “What A Scene” right there on a stoney ocean beach surrounded by the townsfolk.  10% of the population turned out for it!  This track works a bit better acoustically to my ears than “Big Machine” did.  Some of the kids in town are into it, some look bored, but soon it’s back to fun and games.  People are hurled into the air via a huge trampoline-like skin.  Robby Takac volunteers and gets pretty high up there!  But he only does it once!

The final song of the DVD is “Slide”, another huge favourite of mine. This is performed by the full band, on another chunk of ice in the middle of a lake.  You could not imagine a more perfect setting for such a bright, melodic song.  Once again I wonder about the technicalities of recording this performance but it sure looks and sounds 100% live.  Behind the scenes shots show giant boom mics and cameras on cranes.  Great tune to close on though, a highlight of this set and their career.

GOO GOO_0003The DVD has some very cool bonus features.  These include a terrible text bio that nobody will ever read.  The others include behind the scenes documentaries about Kotzebue and its inhabitants, and the Alaskan railroad.  Some of this material is included in the main feature, but it’s not really about the band.  It’s about the people and the scenery, but that’s cool in its own right. Interesting fact:  Even though the sun shines all night in Kotzebue in July, they still have fireworks on the 4th.  They’re not as cool, but they do have ’em!  They also have warm sunny swimming at 1 am, and the local radio station gets calls for requests all the way from Russia.

Not listed on the back of the package, but more important than the other features, are two bonus songs.  These can only be found if you happen to check out the “just the music” section.  “Sympathy” is the first, performed acoustically on the train.  Great tune.  “Do You Know” is the second, on the beach on Kotzebue.  This is Robby Takac’s only lead vocal (and it was cut from the main feature)!  This song reflects the Goo Goo Dolls punk rock side, from which they originated.  Robby’s vocal is raspy and ragged, just like I like it!

For Goo Goo Dolls fans, I can’t recommend this DVD enough.  The cool thing is that even if you’re just a casual fan who knows the hits, you’d dig it too.

4.5/5 stars

VIDEOS: The Cottage in the Woods 3

WARNING:  These videos contain 0% Rock.  However the water was nice and choppy this past weekend.  In addition, I saw a cute family of ducks surfing near their nest!

“SURFIN’ BIRD!”

Enjoy the videos below.

See also:

RECORD STORE TALES Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods
The Cottage in the Woods 2

VIDEO: The Cottage in the Woods 2

COLLAGE

If you missed the original story about the Cottage in the Woods, please check out Record Store Tales Part 308.

Another long weekend in Canada has come and gone.  This time we came with a side mission: visiting Condor Fine Books in Kincardine, Ontario.  We’ve been going there for years, and the owner is a really nice guy.  He has a crazy selection of old and interesting books, with a healthy section on UFOs and the paranormal.  That’s alright by me.

I hope you enjoy my latest video, with book finds and lots of scenery.

Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods (VIDEO BLOG)

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RECORD STORE TALES PART 308:  The Cottage in the Woods

As bad as the stress used to get, there was always one place I could return and truly recharge my batteries:  the cottage.

I’d pack a dozen or so CDs (tapes in the early days) and go on long walks with my Discman.  Eat some steaks.  Check out the water, rivers and funky bridges.  The phone never rang.  Heck in the early days there were no phones here.  No cable TV, no wi-fi.

Today, I created, edited and posted the video you’re about to see in one day, entirely at the cottage.  How unimaginable to me back then.

I tried to re-create the experience of being here visually — probably the most peaceful place in the world.  I hope this gives you a taste.  Enjoy

MOVIE REVIEW: Grizzly Man (2005)

This is by unofficial request of the mighty Heavy Metal OverloRd.  Click and kneel before his blog of steel!

Grizzly Man has some powerful music so it totally fits LeBrain’s Record Store Tales and Reviews.

GRIZZLY MAN (2005, directed by Werner Herzog)

Wernor Herzog in his inimitable fashion constructed an intriguing portrait of a unusual subject: A man named Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell spent 13 seasons all but alone in Alaska, with the grizzly bears in their habitat.  He filmed them (getting unprecented footage), played with them, and “protected” them from their enemies (man). He got really close to the bears, making physical contact. He befriended them as much as you can befriend an animal in the wild.  He played with them, got amazing footage, but forgot the boundaries that exist between man and beast.  Especially when that beast weighs several times what you weigh, and comes equipped with sharp claws, teeth, and raw strength.  A fatal error of profound misjudgment at the end of Treadwell’s 13th season reminds us all that there are immutable boundaries that are never meant to be crossed. To do so is universally pure folly.

Herzog utilizes Treadwell’s own remarkable footage extensively through the film. Nobody had ever gotten so close to these bears in their natural habitat, and observed and learned their behaviors this extensively. Treadwell knew their individual personalities and habits, but he got too comfortable. Watching these videos of his is both profound and tragic. While documenting his own expeditions, Treadwell sometimes lapses into hysterical rants regarding society and authority, and anyone who he sees as an impediment to his way of living. Clearly, a deeply distressed individual lurks beneath the beatnik exterior of the animal lover and protector.

Treadwell’s undeniably unique passion for bears results in some special moments. I bought this DVD from Joe (I paid $5.99).  He recommended it to me, saying it was “unintentionally hilarious,” and that I would know what he meant when I saw it.

Maybe an hour into the film, I watched Treadwell admiring a pile of bear poop, and I understood.

“There’s your poop!  It just came out of her butt.  I can feel it.  I can feel the poop.  It’s warm.  It just came from her butt.  This was just inside of her.”

A fascinating glimpse at a singular, one of a kind persona, Grizzly Man is another unique Werner Herzog film that looks at his subject with a focused curiosity. Herzog conveys a childlike sense of wonder, tempered by the practical wisdom of a modern adult. As such, despite its dark subject matter and ominous aura, Grizzly Man is entertaining, educational and re-watchable. Herzog wisely avoided any graphic imagery or sounds. An audio tape of Treadwell’s final moments is only discussed and never heard in the film. Once hearing it himself, Herzog is visibly distressed and gravely advises destroying the tape.

I think Grizzly Man is among the best Herzog documentaries.  I watch it a couple times a year.

5/5 stars

Also included on this DVD is a nice feature on the music of Grizzly Man, an important part of its emotional makeup.  In particular the use of the excellent Don Edwards song “Coyotes” is unforgettable.

Sausagefest XII: VIDEO REPORT!

Sausagefest is an annual all-dude, all-meat, countdown of rock.  Five of us from the old Record Store attended!  This year, there were 110 songs (75 countdowns plus 35 “tributes”).  #1 was Max Webster — “Toronto Tontos”.  Other artists who made the countdown included Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Rush, and Tenacious D among others.   For the history of this event, check out Record Store Tales Part 30.

Thanks to Jeff Woods and Craig Fee for your contributions — above and beyond the call of duty!

And of course, thanks to Tom our host, and Uncle Meat, Seb and Dr. Dave for the music.

Uncle Meat will be providing me with the full track list.  Stay tuned for that post, too!