A1 Great! Part lies, part heart, part truth, part garbage.

just drag me home

I was born in Belleville, Ontario, and called that city home for most of my childhood, save for a few years spent in small-town Quebec, and prior to the wasted youth that was (and is) having to endure a teenaged existence in Brantford Buttford.

I like Belleville. It still feels sort of like home to me, on my very, very occasional visits.

We dropped in two summers ago for the Big Music Fest, whose triple bill seemed too good to be true (Sarah Harmer! Sam Roberts Band! The Tragically Hip!). Prior to that, my last pilgrimage took place in 2001, when I took my birthday off work, jumped on an early morning train, and walked around the city, checking out old haunts and soaking in the nostalgia. Returned home to Kingston that evening to nine voicemails, and assumed that all would be related to the joyous celebration that comes with every anniversary of my birth, but instead found that more than half were from distressed colleagues, who had arrived to the office that day to find it locked, closed. The marketing firm I’d been working for had been bought out, all twenty or so of us made unemployed that day, and I’d missed all the action.

Still got drunk with a handful of ‘em that night. Good times!

Today, I am riding the train once more, provoked this time by the very strange event that will be Slash, live in downtown Belleville. Why would this legendary guitarist, appearing at festivals for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, play a set for 3800 a stone’s throw from the Bay of Quinte on a Saturday night?

I don’t know. And I don’t care. The facts are that Slash will be there, and Jody and I will be, too. VIP section, kids – for real.

Recent setlists from the tour indicate a healthy mix of songs from his Guns N’ Roses days, a few Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit cuts, and two or three from his solo record released this year. First single By The Sword is pretty awesome, but the video for Back From Cali is most reminiscent of the GN’R glory days, similar to the living-the-lifestyle videos that helped to promote the dream way back when – Paradise City, Live and Let Die, Dead Horse.

Everyone needs a little butt rock once in a while. Stoked.


being here

I’ve been working with the latest version of WordPress on the new One Change ‘corporate’ website, and in the process have been reminded of how awesome WP is – and that, you know, I have a blog of my own! I can’t believe I haven’t written since August, especially with the best website design on the planet and all. I am the worst.

It was one of those sorts of half-years, I guess. Summer was lousy and the fall was busy, so here we are, 2009, just like that. What’s new with you?

I’m the lucky benefactor of a quiet weekend at home, after the perfunctory visit to Buttford over Christmastime. On Buttford: why does every third vehicle on the road have to be a pickup truck with an empty bed in the back? Did these people not get the memo (of course, they did not)? And: with all the cancerous growth in the city’s west and north ends, those shiny Big Box parking lot placeholders sure to empty out once the recession really grabs hold, why can Brantford welcome gigantic new restaurants and clothing stores and hardware warehouses (Lowes, of all the insane things) and electronics wastelands but not a bookstore? Reading iz hardd, rite?

Oh, also: can the former Bi-Way/Canadian Tire plaza still be abandoned, a decade after the fact? Hundreds of thousands of square feet in the middle of town forsaken because out near Sobey’s seemed like a better idea?

I hate that city.

Anyway, one good thing from the trip, aside from seeing Jody and wanting to offer him a job and get him the hell out of town but I can’t because 1) I’m not in a position to offer anyone employment, so whatever and 2) I doubt he’d stick around, because he’s the fucking adventuring type – was that I heard a new (or, you know, new to me!) single from the Stills, who I was only aware of before, but fuck if I haven’t fallen head over heels for this:

Before that, it was some banjo pickin’ from 54.40:

Of course, if we’re talking banjo, I can’t not offer some kids’ music from BNL, which will only take you a minute, I promise:

Even more than all this silliness, though, is the latest from Radiohead.

Some things cost more than you realize. No shit!


assorted

Just kind of fucking around on the internet this evening, and I ran into a short bit about ordering one Timbit at Hortons, and when the cashier asks what kind, saying ‘assorted’. Which is pretty good, I think.

Further: dude in this video looks like every other dude in Brantford. Good luck.

Even more Buttford deliciousness: “a Brantford man being sued for support of three children he never fathered.” Questionable paternal lineage AND bad grammar? A river runs through it, you know.


tidings

Hey, it’s Christmas.

I’m out of town, having a pretty good go of it down Buttford way (though the tradition of bad signage continues – photo documentation to come). Today will be turkey dinner four of four, and the morning weather brings fog, not snow. But there’s presents under the tree, and everyone’s feeling pretty good.

The internet is not kind to 1996 computers running Windows 95 on 56k dialup. Publishing these few paragraphs will take about three minutes. It’s a real old-fashioned holiday around these parts.

Here’s hoping all of my A1 people out there will have a fine time of it, whatever you’re doing.


only relevant if people can read

Brantford, Ontario is the town I spent my teenage years in. There’s a long history of defeat and failure in that town.

I’m sure the casual observer doesn’t notice it – but when I go back, I can just feel it, a bad vibration seeping from every pore. The empty downtown, the soulless north end retail parking lot, the dilapidated neighborhoods. People smoking everywhere.

There’s also a long history of stupidity, which manifests itself in embarrassing ways.

For instance, the Queen visited Brantford (she was just passing through, natch) in 1997, and a now-defunct gambling hall called the Bingo Palace decided to greet her with a welcome message on their backlit sign. The text read something like ‘Welcome Queen Elizabeth to Brantford’, which is all fine and good, except they put the Q up there backwards. And left it that way. No shit.

Then there was the more recent slogan, posted on signage in a few places around town. ‘Brantford: the Grand River runs through it’. Factually correct, yes, and completely uninspired. Imagine ‘Ottawa: it’s where the government is” or “Kingston: just north of Lake Ontario”. Jesus.

My weekend trip to the City That Never Wakes yielded another gem, perhaps not quite as sparkling as the others, but collectible nonetheless.

photograph of sign above Wayne Gretzky parkway in Brantford

Also its leading cause of sucking.