Friday, March 25, 2011


Mentioned over in a thread at Lowetide's the other day that I'm watching a show on Bravo called Rock and Roll Stories. Its three hours looking at the scene in Toronto in the fifties and sixties.

I watched the first show and it was really well done. Interviews with Robbie Robertson and Ronnie Hawkins and numerous other musicians and hangers on. When I watch shows like this I'm always struck most of all by the passing of time. Seeing Robertson has a skinny smirking teenager or Hawkins as a young man with thick black hair and a thuggish grin and then seeing them now is a startling reminder that a half century has passed and they are old men now. Robertson still looks good as he tells anecodotes in that laconic way he has while Hawkins is fat and pasty and white bearded, his raspy coughs telling the story of thousands and thousands of cigarettes and the lung disease that will come for him one day.
Even more interesting though are the changes in the city itself. Yonge Street is the centre of it all, a brawling, boozy, neon jaunt peopled with musicians and thieves, wise guys and kids out to have a good time, as kids always will. Its the Yonge Street of legend, not the strip I came to in the mid eighties, strip clubs and head shops, record stores and sex shops and rub and tugs. And now, twenty five years after I first walked it, Yonge Street is changing again, losing some of that seedy grandeur.

I've always been fascinated by the history of a city. A grocery store that I used to go to when I was a student, now long gone itself, had large photos on its walls of the neighbourhood as it looked at the turn of the twentieth century, muddy paths wending through empty fields and climbing the plateau where St Clair Avenue runs today. The odd shack or farmhouse. Young men, dirty with work, grinning, squinting in the sun, all long gone now. Best grocery store ever.

When you have small children time comes into focus. Life is hectic so you suddenly realize, as we did last night, that we've had nobody over to our house for dinner or drinks in months, even though we had no idea that this was the case. You look at pictures of the family from last summer and while we look the same basically (Jenn is skinnier and I am a little greyer, soon you may call me the Silver Fox) the kids look totally different, especially our youngest. Five or six months ago the boy could not skate, our oldest could barely swim, our youngest could barely talk. Now they have all mastered these skills. I plan for the future as best I can and realize that ten years from now my little sweetheart, my first child, will be finishing high school. And there will be boys coming around and I will be forced to threaten them with violence.

That's not that far away. And then I realize that twenty five years ago I was just finishing up high school myself and now here I am, I've been married ten years this summer. And my old man will be eighty next summer and he and my mom will mark fifty years together.

And then I start thinking about the circle of life and how there's a time to reap and a time to sow and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and I wonder how the hell they actually made a reasonable musical out of The Lion King, with the stilts and the costumes and all of that crazy shit. And then I think that its the weekend finally, thank fuck for that, and I think I'll have a bottle of wine tonight and read a good book and this weekend I'll hang out with my kids because my wife is working all weekend but thats okay because she makes good money. And I think about that glass of brandy I had last night and how good Jenn's ass looked in those new jeans when she got back from a dinner out, all flushed and boozy and how we had a good time last night, we still have it and that is a great great thing.
Sing it Elton.


Oh man, talk about time passing slowly, five years out of the playoffs and the Oilers playing out the string with Hall and Hemsky and Whitney and Gagner and Horcoff all out and Fraser is the second line centre and Ryan Jones is playing twenty minutes a night and Strudwick is in the lineup and its 2007 all over again. Its painful.

There's nothing left but to see if Eberle can score twenty and if the young Finn gets his first and really other than watching Hartikainen there's really nothing left to do. The team is beyond awful and all we can hope is that nobody gets seriously hurt.

I am looking forward to this tournament that they hold every spring where teams get to play for the Stanley Cup. Should be fun. Its wide open. Would be nice if the Oilers, you know, made an appearance someday.

For us, us poor Oilers' fans, its all about the offseason. About which veterans get bought out or moved along, which teenagers get picked at the draft, which kids turn pro and have a shot at making it next season. Early returns say that Petry and the Finn will be in the lineup next fall, Teemu has already eaten Jacques' lunch, not that that in itself is any great feat and I would bet that we see see Petry beside Whitney come September.

That's what passes for excitement these days.

Son of a bitch.


spOILer said...

And only a few more years to go before we have a real team...


David S said...

You think its bad now? Wait until this summer when they ditch Hemsky. We all know its coming, kind of like final exams or that huge tax bill you've been putting off.*

*Yeah uhh...or so I've heard.

Black Dog said...

Fuck me.

Oh well.

Actually I think Hemsky is sticking around until the trade deadline now, I can't see anybody picking him up this summer. Or Gagner either.

Going to be hard to move up from that LA pick methinks.

Scott Reynolds said...

That was some excellent Ecclesiastes, Pat, with the additions flowing in very nicely indeed. Haven't dropped in for a while and just wanted to say that I still really enjoy the writing. Can't really say the same about the team.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Scott, I appreciate it. I'm still lurking over at C&B and enjoying your work as well. I'm sure the interest will be revived slightly this fall but it sure is tough to watch these days.

David S said...

Penner was fire-saled. It looked to me like one of Penner or Hemsky was going at the deadline and the dubious return tells me Tambellini didn't really care which one. That tells me the first sniff at a deal, not matter how shitty it is, will mean the end of Hemsky too. Truth is, why pay big bucks to players if you're going to suck anyways? Screw the fans, right?*

*That's what Tambo said

macaotim said...

Only 3 months left on our 2 year Asian adventure. Trying to soak it all in while we can. When we left for over here "Little Man" was 10 months old. He shit his pants, could hardly crawl and was dependent on us for everything.

Last night, he snuck out his window, "borrowed" my car and, upon his return at sunrise, I spied lipstick on his cheek and smelled cigarettes and booze on his breath. Time sure dies fly. Little prick!

It's amazing all that we've done in two years. Too bad Tambo hasn't been as busy. Two years out and we're coming home to a mess equal to that which we left. Sheesh!

DSF said...

Hey Pat.

Just wanted to put you on notice that Silver Fox® is already taken.

Love the writing as always.

Black Dog said...

lol DSF, thanks, but hey, can't tell the people what to do. If they're going to call me the SIlver Fox, then who am I to argue? ;)

Great stuff Tim.

David - I don't doubt that Ales is going as well but I can't see anyone taking him on when he's going to be rehabbing until September. Could be wrong but I don't think its going to happen until next year.

hunter1909 said...

Your crack about some old Toronto musician ending up with lung cancer reminded me of an old friend of mine who's recently just been diagnosed with lung cancer himself - he's just started morphine, has a nurse coming around, and the cancer's already spreading through his body - in other words he's going to die. Has a young family, too.

I doubt if my being solicitous is really going to make any difference to him, so I'm my usual self - but he probably can see through that.

Oilers? Ryan Nugent - Hopkins sure looks electrifying. Imagining him with Hall and Eberle makes for one crazy first line.

Black Dog said...

Hunter - that's the shits man, I am truly sorry to hear that, and he's a young man too? Couldn't even imagine.

As for our diversion from cruel and sad things I would bet on RHN at this time but what do I know?

docweb said...


Absolutely love your work in an otherwise dreadfull year.

Saturday started off with a game of squash. Am in pretty good shape for an old guy but thought a little cross training couldn't hurt. Went forward for a ball and "snap" went my ruptured Achilles tendon.

The game that night just topped up a great day. Meanwhile my wife is thinking murderous thoughts since we have to now cancel our trip to Hawaii.

My partner suffered the same injury,but to the other leg, a few years ago playing the same guy!

If my name was Pat Mclean I could write a hilarious blog about that I am sure.

Keep up the great work.

Showerhead said...

Pat, this is probably completely unrelated, but I thought your input would be worth asking.

I just picked up "Dubliners" and "A Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man" for a combined price of $2.15 - which one do I read first?

I live a hard life :)

Andrew said...

Off topic but the banner ad on the top of your site today is for gucci handbags. I laughed.

Black Dog said...

docweb - thanks for the kudos, appreciate it, sorry to hear about your bad luck

showerhead - go with Dubliners, it will break you in easily, good luck ;)

Andrew - and Reitmans today

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