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Monday, December 28, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #5: "All of My Friends Were There"

I received my copy of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk In Toronto & Beyond 1977 - 1981 right before Christmas (thanks Ralph!).
Liz Worth, the author of this surprisingly hefty tome - it clocks in at 373 pages - had been working on this for a couple of years now, talking to the handfull of people who made up the scene back then; most of whom I know and many of whom I count as friends.

Worth accurately captures their voices and juxtaposes them in a way that lets YOU be the judge of What Really went Down. In fact, her own voice rarely appears in the book: there's a brief intro, a list of characters, and the clips start rolling.
And that's dandy for those people who were involved, and fine for the fans of the form. I could see, say, people like John Armstrong or Lindsay Hutton eating this stuff up. They'd have an indoors field day with this, (especially true in Hutton's case: as Scotland is not equipped to deal with Canadian type winters. I digress...).If you own say, 5 - 6 singles from this time and place, it puts a face to the sound.

And if you're a resident of Hamilton, Ontario you might be sussed by the presence of of Teenage Head, Simply Saucer, & The Forgotten Rebels, the former two acts cast as important predecessors to the scene. My presemce in the book is minimal: by the time I became an active participant (80 -81), that scene was winding down. I heard about all this stuff while attending a rural high school, mainly through Peter Goddard's columns on the Toronto Star, but Queen Street in Kincardine is a looong way from Queen street Toronto.

Which leads me to the next point: I'm not sure how this would work for people who weren't involved. A couple of pages of historical context from the author, a discography and a time line might have helped.

I guess you could just read it for the anecdotes sake. There are lots of great stories, even if some of them are not substantiated. Steve Leckie's alledged demands for Kentucky Fried Chicken during a last-ditch attempt to get him the Big Recording Deal comes to mind, as does any story involving Crazy Harry.

Finally, I 've always wondered why people used to think I was in the Diodes. Thanks to the full-colour black & white photos in the book, I understand now....whew!

Photo: Paul Robinson, cleverly disguised as the author, kneeling with the Diodes

Saturday, December 26, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #4: Santa Blog

The truth can be told now.
I was Santa Claus.
For six days, consisting of five hour shifts, I was a department store Santa Claus. I had the red suit with white trim, the theatrical faux beard and belly, the works.
I got the gig through the local temp work agency. I was to be the back-up for the regular guy, an elderly man, suffering from a seasonal bout of bronchial pneumonia.

During the job interview, we went through all the basics: the legal pitfalls of the position, the importance of a good entrance and exit, and the diaphragm mechanics involved in invoking a hearty “ho, ho, ho”.
My work consisted of posing for photos @ $20 CDN a pop with infants, toddlers, children, teens and fully growed-up adults. Generally, I would arrive 30 minutes prior to the shift start to don the jolly apparel, and get said gear visually inspected. And you needed to get said gear inspected, because once you had the beard on, you could see s!@t below said faux-facial hair. Once engaged, it was the photographers’ job to adjust my costume on a PRN (i.e. as needed) basis.
Generally, the clients would come in two waves. The first was the noon to 2 p.m. rush, consisting of moms with their infants and toddlers, and teens and grown-ups on the their lunch. The second wave would consist of mainly of parents with older, school-age kids.

Here’s how it broke down:

1) Infants : three weeks to ten months. This was easy. You prop the kid up, the photographer distracts it with sleigh bells or “peek-a-boo” manoeuvres and snap, bang, boom , you’re done. For the record, I did not get vomited, urinated or defecated on.

2) Toddlers: 10 months to 2.5 years. It gets trickier at this point. Generally kids get either separation or stranger – or both – anxiety. If there were no other siblings present, generally we suggest one of the parents pose sitting on the arm of the chair with the child on their lap. This worked about 60% of the time, but we still had our share of screamers. And, if you have one screamer in front, you’re pretty much assured of setting off a chain reaction with any other toddlers in the line-up. A sanguine disposition is required for
this job.

3) Children 2.5 – 8 years generally believe in Santa and more than happy to lay on him their hopes, dreams, artistic endeavours and generally lengthy wish lists. Girls still like Barbie dolls and boys still like Hot Wheels cars, but DSI, Xbox, and Lego sets are popular this year. The latter item is, by the way, considerably more hi-tech than what we were used to. At this age, though, the photographers have to coax smiles and attentiveness, but that’s not my concern.

4) Teens/Adults: At a certain point in one’s life, Santa moves from being a physical reality to a conceptual concept. It is at this point things get complicated. For reasons which are not immediately apparent to me, packs of young teenage girls (12 -15) seemed to think it was cute to get a photo done w/Santa. Not so much with the males: although we did get one Gangsta Santa pose done.

5) Fully Grown Adults The very odd occasion. And I do mean odd:e.g. the weed-scented dude who, when asked what HE wanted for Christmas, replied:

‘I told my ex-wife I wanted a Bangkok whore’
(promounced hoo-er)

Low point: being asked if Santa was “white”.
Sad point: being asked to help make a child’s mommy better.

Quotable Quotes & Their Rebuttals:

“Wouldn’t you like it better if was I naughty?”

“Um, I’d get trouble with Mrs. Claus for that”
“Santa, can I get a Ferrari?”
“Well, I couldn’t fit THAT on the sleigh , now...”
"Santa, I don't think you're real!"
"You have a computer? Google my name and Virginia in quotes"

Had a quiet Christmas with Shirley . We have enough leftovers to last several weeks, and we probably don't have to eat for the next few days.

Next issue: "All Of My Friends Were There" - A review of Liz Worth's new book, "Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Toronto & Beyond Punk Rock"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #3: "Paddy Greene's" ...the new single from the Kewpies...just in time for Christmas!

By way of explanation: Paddy Greenes was the licenced establishment located directly opposite of Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, ON., Canada. As such, it was the preferred watering hole for the young members of Teenage Head, the Teenage News editorial staff, and various other miscreants and rounders. It was torn down in the mid-80s , in the name of progress, to make way for a mini-mall. For more information on Paddy Greene's, go here
. This is our humble tribute to that dearly departed establishment. The more musically astute among you may pick out the references to the British "beat" groups, 999, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, Kevin Coyne, & The Beatles. To which we respond: "lesser men borrow, great men steal" May this be the second-best five minutes spent in your respective lives.
War Is Over & Over & Over if you want it. Listen to the song here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #2: Life in Grande Prairie

First off, the missing fanzine giants Byron Coley & Eddie Flowers mentioned in issue #1, are present and accounted for, according to Imants Krumins. The former has restarted his Father Yod book & music mail order operation from a log cabin in rural New England and is STILL trying to sell that original vinyl copy (flour sack cover n' all) of King Biscuit Boy's "Good 'Uns". Older Hamilton readers will recognise that item as the out-takes from Official Music. Click on Coley's name if you're interested.Bold

Eddie Flowers, on the other hand, is looking for a new home. I'd invite him here, but I don't think he would fare well in Grande Prairie, Alberta The winter would kill him.

So far, I've done alright , even in -38 degree weather. The air is clear here, the beer is relatively cheap, and - for the first time in over 20 years - I have regular access to cable here.

So what do I watch? Not much (or Much) music related stuff. Mainly the Food, Discovery, & Weather Channels. The 6 o'clock Edmonton news. Maybe a few movies on Showcase. I like 'Destroyed In Seconds", it appeals to the inner ten-year-old in me.

Radio-wise, the local country station here seems to have a consensual take on the genre, mixing new, classic, and even some Americana stuff. That, CKUA, and the local CBC One re-broadcaster . I listen to about 20 minutes of radio - tops - in a week.

The high speed internet line ends here. Anywhere north of here, it's satellite or bust. And I spend more time on the Net than TV & Radio combined. Checking out the links of the fanzine cum blogs. Reading & responding to e-mails from people concerned about my decision to abandon civilization. Rejecting any & all Facebook invitations, paginations, & applications, mainly because I'm 3000 freakin. clicks away from your opening/CD release/self-help group.

And I'm busy working. More on that later.

Next issue: we answer 20 questions posed by YOU! Either the first, or best questions. Fire away

Saturday, November 28, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #1

Back in the 20th century, see, I used to read printed music fanzines and hang out with crazy poets. I even went as far as printing my own rag: Mole, (sprung from the ashes of Teenage News).
It was poorly laid out, written in a sub-sub literate manner and was a whole bunch of FUN to do...when I wasn't hawking used vinyl (Rave, Mole records) or new vinyl (Simply Saucer...Cyborgs was released 20 years ago last week) or managing crazy poet cum wrestlers (The Hated Uncles) that is.

Eventually, I would turn pro: write for street weeklies (Spotlight, Freestyle, Toronto Eye Weekly), then daily newspapers (Hamilton Spectator), then B-I-G newspapers (the Globe & Mail, Canadian Press wire services)..then...nothing. Nada. Zip.

When the Absence ended (New Year's Eve '01 w/Mike Trebilcock) I did a NG (that's news group e-Mole) and e-Zine writing (In Music We Trust). I stage managed outdoor festivals
and worked with the reformed Simply Saucer, among other things.

This past year, after 30 years of life in the Hammer (Hamilton, ON.) I wrapped up most of my professional musical activities and moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta, host of the 2010 Arctic Winter Games. One phase ends, another begins,

Lately, I have found a lot of the friends and/or people I admire are using this format: Black To Comm, Kicks Norton records, John Harvey Dog , The Next Big Thing.

I don't know if I'll be writing as much on this, but I'm comfortable with the format. At the very least, it will act as a newsletter for FAQ's.

Before I wrap this maiden post up, I just want to ask one question:

Will anyone knowing the whereabouts of Eddie Flowers and/or Byron Coley please fwd their respective Internet co-ordinated to me?

Thanks And Good Luck!