Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dreams of Black Sabbath, plus JFK fuck band tribute, and some cool films (Roeg! Scholte!)

One of the first rock concerts I went to that I am really happy I picked was Black Sabbath touring Mob Rules, with Ronnie James Dio singing, in 1981 at the Pacific Coliseum.  The Outlaws opened.

I had been to four previous concerts: two, in my preteens, of my parents choosing (Johnny Cash and Charley Pride), which I barely remember, and two I am kind of embarrassed by now, Billy Joel (who I loved when I was 11, what can I say and am kinda glad I got to see, since it was the Glass Houses tour) and Styx (who I liked well enough on record but who even I, around age 13, touring Paradise Theatre, found kind of embarrassing to watch live; they were the first band whose live show put me off listening to their records - I remember finding them obnoxious and not at all similar to what I expected, which sounded so much more polished and slick on the record).

But Sabbath with Dio? Cool choice for a 13 year old. And I was very impressed.

My Dad, who came as my chaperone, was very much NOT impressed, however. My memories are few, but I remember sitting with him, above and to the right of the stage, remember vague snatches of the band doing "Sign of the Southern Cross," remember Dad complaining about how LOUD it was, telling me that further rock concerts I would probably go on my own. And I recall him remarking on how short Dio was, more than once, sort of a "I can't get over how short he was" kinda thing. Still, he took me, and he even bought me a t-shirt, which I wore into tissue paper. Years later, coming back from seeing Sabbath at Rogers Arena (with Ozzy singing), on their second to last show here, I saw a guy on the Skytrain with his son WEARING a Mob Rules t-shirt, discovered he'd been at and bought it at the show himself, and expressed my awe that he'd kept the shirt in good condition for all these years. Mine was in shreds by age 16. I think it was the first t-shirt I ever slept in and wore again the next day; hell, I might have slept in it two nights in a row.

13 year olds are smelly. Deal with it.

Last night, having gone through a reasonably stressful day at work - I'm in a job that requires quite a bit of prep and devotion to survive - I dreamed, for no reason I can imagine, that I took Erika back in time, to see Black Sabbath with me again, to go to the same show. The physical organization of the concert was wrong - it was more in the Hastings Park racecourse, where my Dad had spent the pre-show, watching horse races, than at the concert, and where I was supposed to have met him, than it was in the Coliseum - which triggers a real memory, in fact, of waiting at the wrong place - me in front of the Coliseum, him in front of Hastings Park - which he called Ex Park, for "Exhibition" - and getting freaked out, wondering where he was; I'd forgotten he'd told me to meet him in front of the racetrack. In the dream, though, the concert really was inside the Hastings Park raceway. No one was betting on horses but the layout of the room was all wrong, though in an odd way, much more intimate - the band was really close, there were no chairs, just concrete walls.

All of Dio's long forgotten stage patter seemed familiar to me in the dream. I have no idea if any of it now - like him poking fun at the pretensions of prog-rock - was based on anything he actually said that night. But I was most excited to listen to it again.

And then the band took an intermission, and I suggested to Erika that we go upstairs into the bleachers (which were organized more like the actual Coliseum) and see if we could find me and my Dad.

It's funny: things I actually do remember about that concert, I get all wrong, like what the room looked like and where we were sitting. I took Erika up to the left of the stage, not the right. But we found me - sitting alone, sad, my head on the "desk" (the seats, contra reality, had little fold-out "desk" parts, like you might get at a university) with a note on the desk saying I was not a suitable candidate for surgery. Whatever that meant. (I have some health issues again at present, but no surgery is planned, and I certainly never had surgery as a little kid).

My Dad was nowhere around, so Erika and I - mostly me, since she was just an observer on this trip, though a patient one, understanding it was big for me - which is about how she is with all my rock and roll enthusiasms - tried to cheer me up. "What's wrong, little guy?"

That's all I remember; the dream ended with 49 year old me trying to cheer up a very sad 13 year old me. Then I woke up with work on my mind. 

In other news. there will be an all-star JFK Fuck Band night on February 2nd! I wrote about Jack "fucking" Keating, the Bud Luxford of the 21st century, and the whole Fuck Band phenomenon - which, in its classic Vancouver sense, involved punk bands filling out a bill by playing off-instrument in silly cover bands with names like Jimbo and the Lizard Kings or, most famously, Rude Norton - a couple of years ago, for the Straight, and am kinda touched that Jack remembers and appreciates the article (and often keeps a copy of it folded in his pocket to show people who ask him what a Fuck Band is). Jack is not on the 'net, so he tends to give me press releases as folded up pieces of paper, which is also kinda touching, but I've lost both the ones he gave me for this. Luckily Bob Petterson - AKA Bobby Beaudine of EddyD& the Sex Bombs - typed it out for Facebook. This, as far as I know, is the same press release Jack has pressed on me twice now, which presumably is folded up somewhere in proximity to the computer where I sit; thanks to Bob, I don't have to look for it, let alone transcribe it. Bob says you should read this aloud in Jack's (booming, gruff, but friendly voice):

The Railway Stage Presents JFK 
Vancouver – JFK Productions and Northern Electric proudly announce the Rock ‘N’ Roll Winter Classic, featuring the return of JFK Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 at the Railway (579 Dunsmuir St.) 
JFK, an all-star rock ‘n’roll band, will be joined on stage by many special guest vocalists, including Eddy Dutchman, Kelly Haigh, Jazzy Zircon, Doug Andrew, Joanie Kepler, Billy Hopeless, Angel, Ana Bon-Bon, Dennis “The Reveller” Brock, Bob Mercer and more! 
The star-studded night will be opened by special guests, the Joanie Johnnie Show and Hula Hoopin’ with Shannon. 
Featuring luminaries of the local alternative music scene, JFK salutes Vancouver’s punk rock and rockabilly past and the energy and excitement of rock ‘n’ roll from 1955 to 2018. 
JFK, a fuck band with no limits, consists of Vancouver all-stars: Joe Rotundo (the Modelos, Bughouse 5, the Enablers), Michael Van Eyes (the Rocket Revellers, Stingin’ Hornets, Trespassers, the Mike Van Eyes Band), Gord “Gorehound” Smithers (the Deadcats, the Highsiders, 2-Bit Horse, SWANK, the New V-2’s, Wichita Trip, Bob Mercer & the Red Stars), Bob Beaudine (EddyD & the Sex Bombs, Frank Frink Five, Buddy Selfish & His Saviors, Mud Bay Blues Band, Bob Mercer & the Red Stars) and Kevin Keating (JP5, Kreviss). 
A bevy of Vancouver underground legends will join JFK on the Railway stage for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Winter Classic: Eddy Dutchman (Eddy D & the Sex Bombs, the Liquor Kings), Kelly Haigh (the Do-Rites featuring Kelly Haigh, the Kelly Haigh Band), Jazzy Zircon (Eddy D & the Sex Bombs), Doug Andrew (Shanghai Dog, Doug Andrew & the Circus in Flames), Joanie Kepler (the Joanie Johnnie Show, the Do-Rites, Stingin’ Hornets, the Dots, the Rockin’ Fools), Billy Hopeless (the Black Halos, the Bonitos), Angel (Gord &Angel, the Uke Joint), Ana Bon-Bon (Hard Candy), Dennis “The Reveller” Brock (the Rocket Revellers) and Bob Mercer (the Explosions, the Masses, Bob Mercer & the Red Stars) are among the special guest vocalists. 
It’s going to be a night of knock your socks off rock ‘n’ roll. 
The Joanie Johnnie Show, led by the duo of singer/songwriter/guitarist Johnnie Carson and Joanie Kepler on stand up bass, will be joined by guitar wizard Stephen Nikleva and drummer James “Hollywood” Badger and backup singer/dancers Meshe and Joy Love.
Nikleva plays with Petunia & the Vipers, the Rocket Revellers and fronts the Stephen Nikleva Band while Badger also drums with the Rocket Revellers and James Buddy Rogers. 
The show begins at the historic Railway, now officially known as the Railway Stage & Beer Cafe, at 9 pm.
Got that? It's worth it for Mike Van Eyes piano ALONE, but, I mean, Stephen Nikleva? Billy Hopeless? Ana Bon-Bon...? Should be a real varied and fun night.

 Another guy I wrote about for the Straight, local experimental filmmaker Oliver Hockenhull, has gone from making a very thoughtful and strangely moving doc about the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics to making a film about a woman who, besides advocating for change in psychedelics policy, drilled a hole in her own head (auto-trepanation; actually I'm not sure if "drill" is the right verb but I really, really don't want to look it up to get the details right). My only question to him, when he sent me his press release, is whether he managed to work Shockabilly's "Tray-panning the Man" - the only song I'm aware of about trepanation - into the soundtrack, but, you know, I was kind of joking. I have not seen I Am My Own Laboratory. I am skeptical at best, for no real reason, about the health benefits of trepanation, let alone auto-trepanation. I do not want a hole in my head, and do not want anyone to try to convince me that I do; it's kind of a red-flag concept for me. What was that famous quote about being wary of all endeavours that require new clothes? Holes in the head, too.   

Edited to add: fortunately, I learn via email that Oliver Hockenhull shares my skepticism about trepanation! He writes:
The film on Amanda does not encourage trepanation. Just so you know — she's an extreme character and an interesting persona and I found her life story compelling. I have zero interest in getting trepanned myself or getting anyone else to do so — the film is basically a portraiture of her quite unique and radical journey.

 You can read more about the I Am My Own Laboratory doc here, but basically, from the press release, it is:
a 43 minute film (2018) reflecting on the life work of Amanda Feilding, Director of the Beckley Foundation for Consciousness Studies. Infamous for having trepaned herself in the early 1970's, as well as being the Countess of Wemyss and March and one of the world's most ardent drug policy change advocates and psychedelic pioneers. Trailer: 
It is paired for the Vancity Screening with:
SHOT ON BLOOD: KOZMIKONIC ELECTRONICA (57 minutes — abstract, experimental film) which is very difficult to describe as it's primarily an extreme cinematic indulgence about  representation, electricity, nature and time that features Boris Karloff, Vermeer, an antique hand cranked 35mm film camera and a profound infatuation with color.
Review from Film International covers some of what the film is about pretty well.
{Interesting local factoid — Boris Karloff who appears as Frankenstein in
SHOT ON BLOOD: KOZMIKONIC ELECTONICA worked as a labourer for B.C. Hydro}
To which I might add, re: Shockabilly, that when Nardwuar interviewed Eugene Chadbourne, they talked about how Karloff, as a day labourer, had helped construct the wooden roller coaster at the PNE, as well. Which brings us nicely back to Exhibition Park and the Pacific Coliseum, as well, subject of the dream that began this post. (Oliver was most impressed by this detail but it really ended up quite unplanned and fortuitous). 

There's lots more I could say if I didn't have to get ready for work. There will be a Nick Roeg retrospective starting later in February at the Cinematheque (woo!). People who have seen The Man Who Fell to Earth, for Bowie, but don't know the rest of these films, are advised to check out all of them - including the later, not entirely successful, but massively ambitious and fascinating Eureka, with a ridiculously good cast (Gene Hackman, Teresa Russell, Rutger Hauer, a young Mickey Rourke... is Joe Pesci in there, too?). Also, if you've missed them, there will be screenings of undisputed Roeg masterpieces, including Performance (psychedelics, gender identity, mortality and gangsters, co-starring Mick Jagger, who even sings a song). Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession - one of the darkest love stories ever put on screen, located at the intersection of psychoanalysis, voyeurism, and misogyny, and starring Art ("Simon and") Garfunkel will screen, as will Don't Look Now, maybe my favourite film about the supernatural and the one that In Bruges drops multiple references to, starring a young Donald Sutherland... There are some great films, Roeg's masterpieces, and not-to-be-missed-if-somehow-you've-managed-it. Altman's Popeye is also coming up, I see, with Robin Williams... some people say it is grossly underrated, but I haven't seen it in years...

Finally, one of the most under-appreciated shot-in-Vancouver films I'm aware of, Tom Scholte's  Dogme-influenced drama Crime - of great relevance to the #metoo movement, but also taking in hockey, substance abuse, and being a failed musician - will screen as part of a series of BC films (including the punk rock doc Bloodied But Unbowed). There are other films I care about in that series, but I have to get in the shower. Let me direct you, though, to my big interview with Scholte about Crime, here. I highly recommend the film, if, like most people, you haven't seen it.  

Edited to add: speaking of unplanned and fortuitous coincidences that bring us in circles back to early things in this article, I also heard back from Tom Scholte about his own formative concert-going experiences. Can you guess what his first big show was? (It wasn't in Vancouver, but it was the same tour... wild, eh?).  

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