All photos by Allan MacInnis, unless they are album or book covers. Not to be reused without permission!
This is a kind of long thing just sorta documenting my day yesterday. But my day was not without its interesting moments.
After an uneventful breakfast and a cadged ride from my wife, things began at Burnaby Hospital, with the scheduled swallowing of radioactive materials so that my inner workings of tongue and throat could be x-rayed and video'd. This way, my SLP (and potentially others) can better figure out what's going on with my chewing and swallowing. Turns out that barium on its own, mixed in water, tastes like a vaguely vanilla-flavoured chalk - not vile, but not exactly yummy, either. Besides drinking it, I was also recorded on video X-ray eating barium-coated canned peaches and banana slices, butterscotch pudding with barium mixed in, and finally a little chunk of barium sandwich, which (I coulda told them) was the hardest thing for me to eat, since, without a normal tongue muscle to move it around, bread can tend to clump up in the roof of my mouth. There was some concern about aspiration, coughing, etc - but I have no idea if other than proving things that I coulda told them about, today really accomplished anything - my Frankentongue remains a Frankentongue, and there were few surprises, just a formal documentation of stuff I kinda knew. Presumably that documentation may be useful for insurance purposes, later on. My SLP did advise me that, based on what she saw, I should use beverages to help me swallow, not my airy "slurp," since the latter seems too likely to result in my inhaling food. I guess that's useful!
Alas, I have no photos of the procedure, because the hospital had a no photos rule. All the radioactive materials made my tongue sting a bit, somewhat to my surprise, since it's on the side that has next to no nerves. It's also interesting that that's the side I tend to chew on, since you'd figure I'd have more control on the side of my mouth with my "natural" tongue. But I don't - and again, that video documented that.
All that radioactive snacking left me a bit queasy, so - having rinsed out the remaining barium in the hospital bathroom and caught a bus to a Skytrain, thence the train to Commercial Drive, I ate at the first restaurant on my route, which was Cafe Deux Soleil - a place I don't go to often, since a musician friend of mine was once censured for an insufficiently-woke gig poster he'd designed, for a gig that he ended up cancelling. But really, I needed food ASAP.
It was interesting enough. I have never been served by a girl in a Crass t-shirt before, ever, not even at the Cobalt or Funkys, I don't think. She didn't really care to chat about it, though. The huevos rancheros, re-named huevos angeros, for reasons unclear to me, was pretty darn good. The coffee was oddly not - cheap gutrot, unworthy of any restaurant, kind of surprising, really. Even Denny's has better coffee. It tasted less than some primo fair trade brand (which is kind of what I'd expected) than it did my in-law's uber-cheap, acidic, giant cans of MJB. Served lukewarm. No refills for me!
Lotta SJW-type graffiti in the Deux Soleil can. I peruse, snap pics, but about my only thought about it is wondering whether the fish doodle was put there by a Flipper fan. Probably not. What the hell is CATA, anyway?
Ted Falconi of Flipper once told a story into a tape player that I'd left on the table, when I was taking a breather from interviewing David Yow at the Astoria, about how Flipper graffiti ended up on the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and other famous places, but the story implicated Flipper a bit, and while Yow - who had recorded the story for me while I peed or did whatever it was I was doing - probably intended me to use it, I didn't want to get Ted and Steve into trouble, so... the deets remain unprinted anywhere.
Proceed to Audiopile, where I look for items that I can get Zander Schloss to sign at his Sunday in-store ("Is Zander on this Weirdos album?"). I gave away or sold my copy of the vinyl for Walker, sadly, because the album was full of skips, and I'd gotten the CD instead, but now I regret it, since the cover would have been GREAT for Zander to sign (he plays the Latin stringed instruments on the album, his second musical collaboration with Joe after Joe co-wrote "Salsa Y Ketchup" with him).
Hmm, do I want to spent $42.99 on the Wild in the Streets reissue for the sake of a few added live cuts? I contemplate it, elect not to. Maybe it will be on the merch table Sunday. Maybe for less. But maybe I don't need it at all (I have the album, just not with the few live tracks tacked on to the second side. And the 20-page booklet. It could help me research if I ever talk to Keith, but... hmm).
I notice while at Audiopile that they have Bison's Quiet Earth on the wall for a mere $60. I snap a photo and post it on Facebook, because I have friends who are Bison fans. I used to have a t-shirt of this album cover, swiped off me some ten or so years ago at Funky's while I drunkenly watched Auroch. Here I am wearing it while chatting with the Minimalist Jug Band outside Neptoon, I think, back when I had a bit more face fur...
I miss that shirt and still keep an eye out for it when I pass the street vendors on East Hastings, in case it turns up. I hope whoever wears it nowadays is worthy. My wife tried to buy me a replacement direct from the guys in the band, but they don't have it anymore. I guess Metal Blade owns the rights? Too bad.
Oddly, I also lost my other favourite Bison shirt at the Commodore, coming out of the Descendents, where James of Bison in fact had been leaping up and down using my shoulders as support when the band kicked into "Silly Girl." The pit had gotten pretty sweaty and I had another shirt with me, for some reason, so on the way out, I took off my Bison Wizard Staff shirt - previously the topic of this blogpost - and changed, putting the Bison shirt (I thought) into my bag, just soaked in perspiration. But it must have fallen out. Kinda weird that the only t-shirts I have lost - EVER, either by theft or carelessness - were for the same band. I've worn out the odd shirt, given away the odd shirt, even donated a few cool punk rock shirts to thrift stores ("Someone will be happy to find this"), but never LOST shirts by bands. Unless they were Bison shirts.
Of course, I've never owned as many shirts by a band as I have by Bison - not even Nomeansno! - so...
My next errand takes me to Hooked on Phono in Burnaby, a fun little record store, better for new vinyl than used, but - as they are quite far out of town - too often overlooked, which means that if you are shopping for something that was reissued five years ago - especially punk and metal - and which now is out of print, you have a better chance of finding it there than elsewhere, which was the case with the Circle Jerks' Wonderful, reissued awhile back and not in any other local store that I've found (I'd seen it last time I was there and lucked out: it stayed on the shelf waiting for me). I mean, how can I not get Zander to sign this, it's got him right there on the front cover! Maybe I can get Keith and Greg to sign it too... I never did ask Zander when I interviewed him about the "Snake" nickname/ "ironic spirit animal" or whatever that Zander is associated with on the back cover - I presume "Just Another Broken Heart for Snake" is written about him, but, well, ya miss a few, sometimes. Sounds like a biker nickname, really. it wasn't really part of his look back then, but Zander makes a pretty convincing biker, these days. I wonder if he had that "Schloss Angeles" jacket made for the video, or...?
Truth is, Wonderful is not my favourite Circle Jerks album. I don't care for a few songs on it - "American Heavy Metal Weekend" is kinda a cheap shot, and they fire a shot at the Blue Oyster Cult in it, whom I love, which makes me bristle a bit. And much as the sentiments behind "Making the Bombs" and "Killing for Jesus" are agreeable, the songs themselves don't grab me as much as, say, "Wonderful," "I and I" (written by Chris D. and Tito Larriva!), "Dude," and "Mrs. Jones," my faves on the album. "Karma Stew," one of the Zander songs on it, is pretty great, too. But I never really got hooked by "Firebaugh" (maybe because I still don't know what a firebaugh is) or "Rock House" or "The Crowd," so, unlike Group Sex or Wild in the Streets - which are 100% gold - or, say, Golden Shower of Hits, which is also almost perfect, I have not paid that much attention to Wonderful over the years.
But it's too perfect a front cover for me not to try to get it signed, so...
On the way from the Drive to Hooked on Phono, I had passed by the smouldering ruins of Value Village. There's water streaming down the sidewalk, wreckage in the path ahead. I see some charred pages of a book on the road. Books were one of the things I used to shop for there; I actually found myself wondering whether those French editions of several Georges Simenon novels that I'd noted - thinking "Someone will want those, but I don't know who" - were ever purchased, or if they went up in smoke like the rest of the stock...? I don't think anyone got seriously hurt in the blaze - unless they inhaled some asbestos - but it's too bad about all the STUFF that got torched...
When I get close, I am sternly walked to the far side of the street by some coplike security fella who does not seem to believe I am complying with his request. "Okay, okay, I'm going, you don't have to walk with me, I know how to cross the street, man!" (I wasn't even that close to the wreckage). I used to shop there periodically, but wracking my brain, cannot recall what my last purchase there was; Value Village have been consistently raising the prices of all their books and movies and CDs and such,. so that the most expensive thrift store in the lower mainland just got more expensive. While I kind of resent their prices, even more than I resent their masquerade as a legit charity - they're a for-profit enterprise that only donate a pittance to charity - I do recognize that they served a valuable community function and were a kind of hub in the neighbourhood. Hell, I've even made plans to meet friends there ("see you in the book section"). The community has lost something, no doubt.
My most positive associations with Value Village are from a very distant past, where you could find really cool records sometimes (like the Circle Jerks Wild in the Streets, actually, bought back in the 1980s at the Maple Ridge VV in its original incarnation near 223rd and Dewdney) but it was always interesting to see what they had. Sometimes the amusement was just in seeing how ridiculously high they could price things. There's a somewhat damaged original pressing of Quadrophenia at the Braid location that I would have bought if they'd been charging actual thrift store prices, but $19.99? That's almost what a real record store would charge, maybe more considering the split in the cover... I thought the deal was supposed to be that you saved money at thrift stores, got things for less than you would at a regular store? Isn't that the whole concept behind "thrift"...?
Not many specific recollections from the location that burned down, but I do remember one time, back in the late 1990's or so, seeing a book club edition of Stephen King's The Shining priced at $199, because they couldn't tell the book club from the first edition (very basic knowledge in the book world but, what's the expression, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing?). That was quite awhile ago, but around that time, in perfect shape - which this wasn't - the book club of that book was worth about $15, maximum; I know, because I'd bought it and flipped it a couple of times, picking it up for two bucks or so and selling it for seven or eight to a bookstore, which in turn would price it thus. There are completed eBay auctions for it at the moment for $13, $15 and up, but back then... jeezus, $199 for a tattered book club... was anyone stupid enough to buy it?
My friends on social media are divided between suggesting that the store was set ablaze for the real estate value of the lot (some $13 million, did I see?) and that it went up accidentally as a result of a meth user in the alley making a mistake with one of those little torches. I have no idea. It does seem like there's been an awful lot of fires in Vancouver in recent years, often in areas that are itching for condos, so I understand where the mistrust comes from, in such a development-oriented and somewhat slightly corrupt city. I'm a bit skeptical - I think an arsonist would have waited until later at night, when it was less likely that anyone could get hurt, and kinda suspect that the punks and miscreants I'm friends with on Facebook have a somewhat jaundiced view of humanity, but it's a lot of asbestos-laden smoke to set into the air, a lot of stress to put on a kind of impoverished community - friends of mine in adjacent buildings were evacuated, briefly - so I hope there's an investigation. I guess if it is done well, arson is pretty hard to prove...
Anyway, Hooked on Phono done, I satiate my thrift desire at the Gilmore Sally Ann (Richard Scarry books for my young nephew, Elvis CDs for my wife - we both really enjoyed the Baz Luhrmann film the other night - but not so much for me). I take a break from everything at a bench for a bit, enjoying the sun and the breeze, contemplating how rare it is to find a bench on the sidewalk unless it's a bus stop bench. Enrico Renz of Red Herring tells me he's written a song about a bench. I like this. This particular one is near a little parklike cluster of greenery and I enjoy sitting there, putzing with my phone, even taking a selfie...
...until a construction worker stands upwind of me and lights a cigarette.It's hard to express just how resentful I get at breathing second hand smoke, these days, having likely lost half my tongue to my smoking habit of yore. But the bench was fun while it lasted, and puts me in a gentle, observant mood. I pause to try to get a good photo of the bees on some wild clover, and make a post on Facebook about the growing evidence that colony collapses are due to neonicotinoid pesticides... I can remember my childhood, when every flower in this field would have had a bee working it... now I see a handful of honeybees, a handful of bumblebees. It's not normal, but not as sad as it would be if there were no bees at all.
It turns out the weirdness had not yet truly commenced. Checking Facebook as I ride the Skytrain from Gilmore to Commercial, I see that Dan And of Bison himself, and the author of my favourite song on it (and also my Facebook friend) actually NEEDS that copy of Quiet Earth on vinyl; turns out he'd given his last copy away, years ago, not realizing what he was doing. Audiopile had priced it at $59.99, which might seem like a lot, until you realize that a) the record sold for over $40 when it came out back in 2008, which was an unheard-of price to pay for a new record back then; and b) there are presently only two copies of it on vinyl on Discogs, only one of which will ship to Canada, which with shipping comes to over $300. Which is a bit ambitious, really, as the median is humbler - $85.78 CAD - but it's very cool that Audiopile have priced it a fair bit below the median.
Then I notice that Dan has posted a post of his own, asking if anyone he knows would pick the record up for him? It happens that I am on almost back at Commercial Drive as I see this. My feet are getting a bit sore, but I had been trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my day anyhow, so I volunteer.
This turns into a kinda silly story. I pay for the album, getting my Audiopile point-card filled, giving me $10 with which to buy a used Toxic Reasons LP that I had missed on my previous visit. I take the opportunity to peruse the stock. There are a few other cool things I pass on - the cheap CD rack has some Steve Earle, a CD of Lou Reed's Set the Twilight Reeling, and a couple of other things I contemplate ("Do I need Lou Reed's The Bells on CD?" It's only $5.99, and not a CD you see often, but I only ever play side two of the album, so...). I text a friend who is a big Burroughs fan to see if he needs Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales, for $2.99... but he doesn't.
Paying for my added purchases, I check our messages back and forth to see that Dan has asked his friend Ryan of Himalayan Bear to pick up the album off me, since Ryan will be driving out to Dan's neck-o'-the-woods soon. At that point, I've paid for the record and Dan has e-transferred me the money (plus a tip with which I buy a Scratch Acid CD, since when was the last time I saw a Scratch Acid CD?)... but there is some sort of miscommunication between Ryan and Dan and myself and I end up cooling my jets in the store for half an hour, which Ryan does not realize I am doing until I get his phone number from Dan and text him. CDs and LPs keep leaping out at me: Do I need Theatre of Hate's Westworld on CD? I don't listen to the LP much. But I have never even SEEN it on CD. Hm. Well, I can always give it to Bob Hanham if I decide I don't need it in two formats, I'll be seeing him on Sunday for the Circle Jerks...
I exchange enough messages with Dan and Ryan on social media that people start to comment that they are being entertained by the saga, but it has a happy ending - Ryan and I end up meeting on the street, and I get visual confirmation of his pick up so I can post it and end the story (and confirm with Dan that I just gave the right guy the record, because the whole transaction has been visible online).
By this point, my feet are killing me and I'm happy to make it to the Skytrain, but not before popping into Spartacus Books on Commercial. I had no idea they had moved there. I have fond associations with Spartacus, since, as a 14-year old suburban punk, I bought my first issues of Open Road there, a local anarchist paper that I was interested in for coverage of the arrest and trial of the so-called Squamish Five. If memory serves, they were burned out of a location once, too, in the distant past. Or was that just a renoviction? I'm glad they still exist, but they don't have the book I ask about (Keith Morris' My Damage), so I spend nothing.
Excited about the concert(s) on Sunday. The local support has been announced: the Shit Talkers - who also play later today at the Hands in the Air festival at the Princeton Legion - will play at 8, 7 Seconds at 9, and the Circle Jerks at 10. The Zander Schloss in-store at Neptoon is earlier, at 4:30. I'm stoked. It's gonna be a great day of music.
If only I still had that Walker soundtrack! By the by, speaking of soundtracks, Hooked on Phono had a copy of the (really good) promo soundtrack that Reg Harkema put out on vinyl for Monkey Warfare. It was never commercially available, but he brought a few copies of it to town when the film screened at the VIFF, some of which ended up in odd places, like the vinyl bin at Budgie's Burritos. $20, but I don't know anyone else who is a fan of Monkey Warfare, so I left it behind.
If you want it, go get it yourself!