“If I had to choose a white-person name from a list, it would be Batman. Batman Jones.”
– Handsome Anthony in response to the question, “if you could pick a white-person name from a list, what would it be?”
Wednesday, March 14, Edmonton
On the tour so far, there have been two movie marathons. Anthony began with Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. Shameful, yes, but he explains, “I had to watch it, or it wouldn’t be a marathon, and the pod-racer scene is actually pretty good.” I agree, and throughout the trip he has been silently watching in the back seat of the van, making good time, in kilometres and film cells created by George Lucas’ sweat and tears probably. I took part myself in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, mostly because when I had seen them in the past, I hated them, more than I hated anything, more than I hated natural disasters, sports dads, my short legs, waiting in line for anything anywhere, but upon re-watch, and under the circumstances, I actually enjoyed every action-packed, multi-creatured, green-screened, ridiculous Hayden Christiansen-punching minute of them.
We stay at our good friend Brandy’s in Edmonton the night before, where she introduces us to our old pal wine and vodka, her vinyl collection and the beginning of a classic movie series, Back To The Future. Dan pees a little when we make this decision: “I have always wanted to do a marathon but have never been able to say that out loud without shame or fear of repercussions.” So we begin, watch the classic scenes, Micahel J. Fox and Christopher Plummer are amazing, Lea Thompson is magically babelicious even in her golden years, and I fall asleep eating pretzel chips and peanut butter like the fat kid I am, tempting a food hangover. Oh what a life we live. In the morning, after I sleep for a good 8 hours finally, we watch Back to the Future 2. We don’t quite make it into the 3rd installment, but Brandy gives us a parting gift, an original cassette to add to our growing collection, Bryan Adams’ “Waking up the Neighbours.” We listen to it through twice on the way to Calgary and decide we cannot take anymore extended questionably tasteful doubled-up (tripled) guitar solos, heavily reverberated snare drums and love ballads from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Thursday, March 15, Calgary
We arrive at the old haunt, The Palomino Smokehouse in Calgary around 7:00 pm. It is the usual nostalgic greatness, the cold Alberta night, the wrong way drive into a one way alley behind the venue by the train station, the crazy Italian man who offers cheap alley parking for bands and also accepts cds as payment, the pulled pork mac’n’cheese I get every time I’m here, the old western feel to the place, and our pal Spencer, too busy to sit still, giving us endless drink tickets and being as chipper as ever with a sarcastic twist, my favorite. It’s a rather hectic load-in this time around as there are 4 bands scheduled to play in a 3 hour period and there is a retirement party happening in the bar already. Our pal Brock from a great band called “The Dudes” is even bartending tonight, which seems dangerous, but is in all honesty, a fortunate thing.
The show begins with a Blink 182 cover band, “Blink 183” and they are surprisingly tight. They play some greats, “Dammit,” “Going away to college,” “First Date,” but they open with “Anthem Part Two,” and I am sold from the beginning. The drummer is amazing, and by the end of the set they are drunk and there is a large bearded man on stage named “Lars” or something (I’m clearly guessing) who has taken up lead vocals for the last two songs. It is a beautiful train wreck. “Greater Than Giants” take the stage next and play a great pop-punk loaded hour. At this point, I am still learning all the great highlights of their set, but it is slowly working it’s way into my memory. Tyler puts on giant Mickey Mouse cartoon hands for one of their old tunes and I find it odd but strangely compelling, like “Orbitz.”. I inquire about this and there really is no solid explanation for it, from any of the band members, just something that happens I guess. Perhaps it will make sense as the tour moves along.
We play next to great crowd who are most enthusiastic and not one bit shy. There is endless hand-clapping, group-chanting, beer-spilling, shot-taking and I chip my tooth on the microphone during our song “December.” Yep, it was rowdy and the stage felt like a water-bed, but luckily, no trip to the dentist this time around. the last time that happened I was not so fortunate. It is a great show, with some old friends, and Phil, the mad-scientist of a resident sound-tech is most accommodating. Every band is on and playing before midnight, including a great new band called “Deepest Ocean” who’s vintage guitars and amps make me drool. We run into Stu, also from The Dudes, who is sporting an amazing home-made Denim, cut-off, vest with a giant hand-stitched Calgary Flames emblem adorning it, as well as the most fashionable and handsome mullet I’ve seen in a long time, giving Dan something to work towards. This morning he honestly looked like Beetlejuice. Stu buys Tyson and I, and four others a shot of Jameson’s and lets out a wild “AAAAAH YEAH,” or something of that variety. It is good to be in Calgary tonight.