Cousin Geoff’s grandparents on his dad’s side owned a huge piece of property in the country with a swimming pool, and the most amazing landscape to explore. Grassy fields gave way to trees, and I don’t think we ever hit the end of the property when we went walking. It simply went on forever. Any time we went there, it was a treat. We spent a few days at the property that summer, swimming and running pretending we were Jedi or superheroes. The house had an amazing “back yard”. There was a steep downwards incline, which you traversed via a series of stairs and landings. To us it was huge! It seemed like you were climbing down a mountain. At the bottom: the swimming pool and all the land you could run through for hours. –Record Store Tales #909
RECORD STORE TALES #939: The Frog in the Pool
The most precious of childhood memories took place around that swimming pool. I remember my grandpa picking me up like I was a rag doll and tossing me into the water. Then I’d swim back and ask him to do it again.
There’s a funny old picture of my grandpa at poolside. I remember that he liked to roll his own cigarettes. I remember the tobacco tins and my mom having to explain to me what he was doing. Well apparently he really loved to do it. In this photo, he obviously packed up all his tobacco and rolling gear, and just sat there at poolside rolling cigarettes! He looks so happy with a huge pile of tobacco in front of him. It strikes me as hilarious that he brought all that stuff with him to spend a day at the pool.
Sergeant Winter reporting for duty.
There’s one notable event that happened at that pool that we don’t have pictures of.
I was really young. Just a few years old. And I must have had to go bad, so I pooped in the pool. I remember the little teeny brown nugget at the bottom of the pool. “Nobody will notice,” I told myself.
Well they noticed a lot sooner than I thought, so I resorted to my “plan B”. I thought the little poop looked like a frog at the bottom of the pool, so that’s what I claimed it was. “Just a frog”. Nobody bought it and somebody got a pool scooper and picked up my poop. I probably denied that it was mine right to the very end. This might actually be my first admission that I pooped in the pool!
Ah, 16! The age you’re supposed to get your driver’s license and go on dates with girls. Maybe even get a part time job. Except I did none of that.
The summer of 1988 was much like any summer. It was marked by new music, trips to the cottage, and another visit from Captain Destructo, my cousin Geoff. Predator was in the movie theaters and WWF wrestling was hot. Summer was not going to suck.
Super Mario on the NES
I was well tanned from days at the beach, and when Geoff and family rolled into the cottage that July, Geoff brought his new toy: a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This was a whole new world for us. I had never seen Super Mario Brothers or Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. I sure saw a lot of them when Geoff came to visit. Saw. Not played. I played a little bit, but Geoff monopolised the game. I’ll never forget when he was playing Punch-Out and he was down to the second last boxer. He thought he was going to knock him out and move on to Mike Tyson. However my dad walked in front of the screen, Geoff started screaming, and lost the game. You would have thought he lost the invasion at Normandy for all the fuss. Me, I just would have liked another turn at the game.
Video games were exciting, but nothing was better than playing outside. With Predator hot in the cinemas, and lots of plastic guns to play with, we scattered into the forest hunting for the stealthy alien. Geoff insisted he was Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger). That made me Blain (Jesse Ventura). We forced my sister Kathryn to play Hawkins (Shane Black), the worst character and first one to die in the film. Eventually we let her play Billy the tracker (Sonny Landham).
I love how this trailer gives away the whole movie.
Leaping, dodging, climbing. We owned that forest.
There is so much joy running through the woods with plastic guns pretending to hunt a space alien. And the best part was, in the movie the Predator was invisible for most of the time: we didn’t need anybody to play the bad guy. It didn’t take much imagination to pretend to see movement in the forest. We were a team of three on a quest. I know that this is one of the happiest summer memories for all three of us.
After a few days at the lake, we returned home to Kitchener, with Geoff still in tow. We hung out in the basement watching WWF and the Pepsi Power Hour. Cinderella were hot with “Gypsy Road” and I had to get that album. Long Cold Winter was an odd title for a summer album, but it was most definitely a summer album. I could not wait to get it but I had a birthday coming and I wasn’t allowed to buy stuff for myself until after.
For what was probably the last time, we went with Geoff to his grandfather’s huge property for an afternoon in the pool. One last splash, in the bright figure-8 shaped pool. That giant pond behind us in the background. Maintaining that summer tan.
The three big albums for me that summer were Long Cold Winter by Cinderella, Second Sighting by Ace Frehley, and Ram It Down by Judas Priest. I loved it for all its flaws. It was heavy and I thought it had five potential single-worthy songs: “Ram It Down”, “Heavy Metal”, “Hard As Iron”, and “Blood Red Skies”, in addition to the already-released “Johnny B. Goode”. Only the Chuck Berry cover made it to music video form. I waited all summer for a music video for “Blood Red Skies” to finally hit. I could always predict the next single, and I just knew it had to be “Blood Red Skies”. Week after week, I waited. I dreaded missing it during vacation at the cottage. I just knew it would be any week now. I had a dream one night of what it would look like. There Priest were on the bridge of some kind of spaceship, hovering over the landscape beneath the blood red skies. It never came. I thought if Priest released a video for “Blood Red Skies”, it would chart. Into the fall, Priest never released another single. A disappointment and a mistake.
Into August, I finally got my copy of Cinderella. After one listen correctly predicted that “Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)” would be the second video. I always looked forward to the new videos by bands, but like Judas Priest, Frehley disappointed me by never releasing a second video for Second Sighting. I thought there were a number of potential hits, such as “Fallen Angel”, “Time Ain’t Running Out”, “New Kind of Lover” and “Juvenile Delinquent”.
In Stratford, visiting my Aunt and Uncle, I picked up Live + 1, also by Ace Frehley. The Space Ace had two releases in 1988, with one being a live/studio EP. This weekend was the first time I experienced strong insomnia. I remember tossing and turning the entire night, not falling asleep once for even a minute. Seeing the sun come up. I was getting more and more upset that I couldn’t sleep, which made it worse.
Another cassette picked up that summer in Stratford was High ‘N’ Dry, which became an immediate favourite. Def Leppard were the biggest band in the world that summer. Hysteria was selling like hotcakes. It didn’t take off in ’87, but when “Pour Some Sugar On Me” hit, that was all it took. Many nights were spent listening to the radio at the lake, waiting for “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. Hysteria‘s singles were harder to predict. I didn’t expect there to be seven of them, but I definitely thought “Love and Affection” would make it before “Rocket” did.
We visited with our friends the Szabos, we played games, and we listened to a lot of music. I had my heavy metal, my sister had Glass Tiger and was starting to get into Def Leppard. Our Walkmen came with us everywhere. As the summer drew to an end we made a trip up to Tobermory to take the S.S. Chi-Cheemaun to Manitoulin island. I loved boats and islands but the trip was a bit of a bore. The gift shop didn’t have a lot to keep us entertained. I bought one of those black and white wrestling magazines, and a wooden postcard to send to nobody. It took a while for me to get my sea legs. I felt nauseous and wasn’t sure I could eat. Eventually the rocking of the boat became fun. The wind on the top deck was exactly like the “Jack, I’m flying!” scene in Titanic.
There was more, much more, but who can remember it all? Watching Rob Halford interviewed on the Pepsi Power Hour, recording it, and watching it over and over again. Seeing new Van Halen (“When It’s Love”) on TV. Suffering through rumours of Kiss breaking up. Looking for the latest Def Leppard 7″ singles at Zellers. So many memories, jumbled and out of order, hard to keep all straight.
The summer ended on a high, but what I didn’t know is that was only a precursor to my happiest school year, grade 11. Hair metal was peaking but it was about to get even bigger in ’89. Everything was in sync. Summer, music, school — all extraordinary in 1988.
After three days in paradise, returning to the stink of the city and the daily grind is depressing. It is a hard feeling to shake.
What makes it harder this year is the uncertainty. Because of Covid-19 there are no guarantees when we’ll be able to go back.
For three days, Covid was so far from our minds. No masks required when you’re isolated by yourselves in the woods. The only time I remembered Covid, it was too late. A neighbour was having car trouble and needed a lift to where he left his car on the highway. Without hesitation I told him to jump in and I drove him to his vehicle. Only on the way back did I remember Covid, and that we were not wearing masks in the car.
When I’m there in paradise, I’m up at the crack of dawn with a coffee in my hand, listening to the symphony of the forest.
When I’m back home, I can’t get up without hitting the snooze button a few times. The roar of traffic can be heard from the highway.
I hope you all are making the best of this summer as possible.
Like an old termite-ridden stump, summer 2019 is burned up.
We planned to spend as much of the summer outdoors as possible. We did that. I didn’t want to use the precious summer months pounding out words about music. So I wrote as much as I felt like. I didn’t get to comment as much. I had to sacrifice something to make the most of my favourite season. Music was there with us every day. I just wanted to enjoy the moments instead of figuring out how to write them down.
Hard to believe another summer has burned away.
There was no single artist who dominated this summer (like Blotto did in 2018). We enjoyed a variety of Van Halen, Judas Priest, Stompin’ Tom, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Helix without rhyme or reason.
It’s already getting colder. The nights are starting sooner. I can feel the end of the season creeping, and our summer at the lake is over.
GETTING MORE TALE #685: First Signs of Sausagefest
To quote Bon Jon Bovi, it feels somethin’ like summertime.
Ever since my first time back in ’06, summer is about Sausagefest. It’s just a month away now and I can already feel the cool waters of the Beaver River on my feet.
It has been hot in Ontario this past week. I have been sporting my hair long, but the sweaty heat is a severe deterrent. I originally wanted to try have bangin’ long hair at Sausagefest for the first time this summer. That’s not gonna happen. I have surrendered to the summer. The hair is gone. The first sign of Sausagefest has arrived: my shaved head.
Before & After
Other preparations are under way. Several weeks ago, Uncle Meat gave me the list of songs for me to introduce. I’m very excited because the ideas started poppin’ right away. I have been gathering funny audio bits for almost a year now, but I have pared them all down to the funniest. I learned from last year when I took everything to excess, and I think this time I have distilled all my stuff down to the crème de la crème. Trimmed away a lot of fat.
Just as, I hope, the Lamb Lord will be trimming the fat on his massive side of lamb for the BBQ once again.
Now that the hair decision has been made, I have been pondering some new purchases for this year’s Fest.
This will be the last Sausagefest for the old Pontiac. I’ll be getting something bigger in the fall. Space in the car is an issue, since I drive two people and all their stuff. But I want to make room for this baby below.
Someone brought Jon Snow’s sword one year, and I have been known to sport a machete on my belt. This year, perhaps a more practical weapon would be something that could light our way in the darkness after sunset: a Kylo Ren lightsaber.
These beauty “weapons” are dropping in price, and wouldn’t it be super cool to have one as a nightlight? It would sure beat glow sticks. Not a small investment, however, and you wouldn’t want it to get damaged up there.
What do you think, LeBrain readers? Is this a worthy investment? Stand up and be counted in the poll below.
Keep in mind I could use that money for many other, more practical things. New shoes. New glasses. A new tent. New Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard box sets.
Check back and see where the poll leads and take part in the discussion in the comments.
Back to work on my recordings for song intros. Can’t wait to see the reactions this time.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #407: Summertime
I’ve always been a summer guy. I was born in July. I don’t like the snow. My spirits are stronger and moods happier in the summer. Summer holidays were glorious days to be spent at the cottage. The beach, swimming, new music, no school…plus my birthday. My whole year revolved around July and August!
Working at the Record Store in the summer was fun. The sun pouring through the windows, opening the door and letting the breeze in…it was wonderful. Not to mention that, as a single male, I didn’t mind female customers coming in dressed for summer.
Of course summer wasn’t all peaches and cream. It meant the return of the infamous “No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service” sign and its enforcement thereof. I hated having to kick people out for coming in with no shirt, but it had to be done.
Me: “Hey, do you mind putting on a shirt in the store?”
Him: “Why, are you serving food here?”
No, it’s just that I don’t want to have to watch the bead of sweat dripping off your nipple ring.
T-Rev made a different sign. His said:
Because highschool is free, And Jerry Springer does not work here, Shoes and Shirts must be worn in store.
But I don’t know if he ever hung it up. I hope he did.
People with no shoes were just as bad, particularly the Barefoot DJ who tried to fight us for his human rights to walk around with no shoes on. All I know is that I had standing orders to kick him out, human rights be damned. You can do whatever you want out there, but inside the store where insurance companies tell us what to do, you gotta obey the rules! (If a CD case fell off the shelf and broke, and he stepped on a piece and cut his foot, he could sue. And CD cases fell of the shelf and shattered every day.)
Because we had these big glass windows, sometimes the heat in the summer would get to be too much. It was like a greenhouse. There was always a constant battle over the air conditioning level, and it seemed we could never arrive at a compromise that made everyone comfortable. My final summer at the store (2005), it was so hot inside that I tended to leave the big overhead counter lights off. It made it harder for me to inspect incoming CDs for quality, but it also kept me from sweating all over them.
Summer album releases were memorable. Metallica’s Load (June 4 1996) was the soundtrack to that summer for me. In store, in car, it didn’t matter. Load saw a lot of store play. I’m quite fond of Load, and I’m sure the fact that it was Metallica that could be played in-store had a lot to do with that. The same summer, Kiss were out there on their reunion tour, and I had their You Wanted the Best live compilation (June 25 1996) to keep me company at work.
I expect summer 2015 to rock just as much. I don’t know what my album for the summer will be this year, but Van Halen’s Tokyo Dome Live in Concert is a contender. I’ve already shorn my mane to cope with the summer heat.
Still, when it comes to summertime, I truthfully think Sammy Hagar said it best:
“We made it through the cold And that freezin’ snow is gettin’ old, hey!
Woo! Summer nights and my radio (Ah-ah) Well that’s all we need, baby. Don’tcha know? We celebrate when the gang’s all here (Ah-ah) Ah, hot summer nights, that’s my time of the year-ow!”
Summer is here. To quote Glenn Frey, the heat is on. For me, the best part of summer is Sausagefest. I submitted my song list months ago. I have recorded my bits. I have also shorn my mane. Unlike Samson, without my hair I am stronger! In this summer heat, camped out in the Valley, hair is not an asset, even for a metal head.
Uncle Meat, Sausagefest’s esteemed music curator and co-founder, tells me that this year is a complete reboot. For the first time in years, they have ditched the exclusions list, so all songs were on the table for votes. In prior years, we would have a list of songs that had been used before that could not be voted for again. This year, even perennials like “Tom Sawyer” were up for votes. It’s going to be an interesting weekend.
As for actual prep, I’ve bought a new tent. I have my Coleman Biowipes. My cooler is at the ready and I bought a fucking machete.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 199: Hooray! Hooray! It’s Stock Transfer Day!
A couple weeks ago, I was out driving, rocking to Kiss’ Hotter Than Hell. Suddenly I realized the car in front of me was being driven by my former boss at the record store. We happened to be going in the same direction. I followed him as he pulled into the old record store, where he turned off. He didn’t see me wave but from the stop lights, I could see him go to the back of the vehicle and pull out a big box of discs for the record store.
This brought back a vivid memory — Stock Transfer Day! STD!
Twice a week, the local store managers were required to travel to a central location to pick up stock from the other stores. This stock could include special orders being transferred from store to store. The majority of the boxes were full of stuff for our shelves, and fresh jewel cases since we went through hundreds a week. These would fill the trunk, pile up on the back seats, and once in a while the passenger seat too.
The managers decided to do stock transfer on Monday nights, and Thursday afternoons. I hated Monday nights and Thursday afternoons. The only good thing about stock transfer was the chance to see some of my store manager friends, such as the eternally interesting Joe. It was during one of these stock transfers that I witnessed the immortal Open Door Piss.
What bugged me most about the stock transfer arrangements were that the time, gas and mileage on our cars was considered to be “part of our salaries”. This part of it really sucked, as you could spend a good chunk of your night hanging around doing nothing, waiting for someone. Sometimes a traffic accident or tie-up on the highway could screw somebody’s route home. That’s just the way this city was(n’t) planned out.
So while you’re waiting for someone with some orders that you absolutely need, you’re sitting doing nothing, burning your own time. This happened frequently in winter, but in the summer too. While this is ensuing, at home your porch is unoccupied and lacking in beverages. And that is a shame.