Canadians

Hockey season will be upon us soon. Now all this spare time I’ve been so productive with can be properly spent staring at the television in angst. Thank god…I found myself watching Strange Brew just for the evil robot hockey scenes. When it got to the part about the flying dog I felt shame.

In case my fellow Americans are wondering what hockey is, it’s what Canadians do to make money, move to the states and marry beautiful American women. That’s right, just like in the famous Canadian song. Except in the famous Canadian song the Canadians rear back from the beautiful American woman and their ghetto scenes and war machines. Then they grunt, unhhhh. Like a Canadian James Brown.

Moving to the States is also the only way Canadians can win the Stanley Cup, which they then take home for a week, fill with Molson and invite over their friends. Once it’s drained of beer and retrieved from the bottom of the pool, the Canadians return to the States to play more hockey. And now that NASA doesn’t need that arm thing on the space shuttle anymore, playing hockey in America is the only way Canadians can make money.

Whatever happened to that Space Shuttle arm thing? Did the Canadians take it back?  Maybe it’s up in Toronto, in the Hockey Hall of Fame, now the Hockey and Space Shuttle Arm Thing Hall of Fame. I’d go see it actually. Wayne Gretzsky, Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, the arm thing.

Lorne Greene was a Canadian.

Leslie Nielsen was also a Canadian.

Bachman Turner Overdrive was several Canadians, plus some.

William Shatner is Canadian. And Neil Young. And Joni Mitchell. I never really liked Joni Mitchell. I alluded to that in a Brick’s Picks column once. Said something snide and forgot about it. Some old hippie sent me an angry email. Really angry email. Called me a young whippersnapper. It was some of the only hate mail I ever got. Until the time I said something nice about Esperanza Spalding winning the Grammy and I got angry emails from Justin Bieber fans.

Justin Bieber is a Canadian.

So were John Kenneth Galbraith and Oscar Peterson. So are Rick Moranis and Joey Shithead. And so was the beautiful blonde lady I saw in a movie about car crashes. She had no facial expressions. In a car crash, no facial expression. Having sex in a car wash. No facial expression. Another car crash, no facial expression. Having sex in a junk yard, no facial expression. Or maybe there were facial expressions but she was so blonde, blonde everywhere, that I couldn’t see her eye brows. No eye brows, no facial expressions. Huge eyebrows, huge facial expressions. That’s why Italians always seem so excited and Swedes make those dull Bergman movies.

Most of the Hanson Brothers are Canadian.

Ya know, I got a box from a Canadian once. I can’t remember what was inside. Not the Stanley Cup, that much I know. And not the space shuttle arm thing, because that was still up in space helping and flexing and grasping. Maybe it was a record album. Maybe a fruit cake. I don’t know. I do remember that the box was stuffed with pages from Toronto’s alternative weekly. Kind of like the LA Weekly but without all the ghetto scenes and war machines, or any American women at all, actually. Lots of Canadian women, though, and Canadian men. Not pictures, just their personals ads. I unkrinkled the pages to see what was happening. There were all these people looking for partners into bondage and whips. Dominatrixes and golden showers. I swear, hundreds of ads, all from horny, kinky Canadians. Some countries are into ghetto scenes and war machines. Others like to spank and pee. You can see the advantages. Wars lay waste the land, whereas Canadians can get by with a few rolls of paper towels.

I asked a Canadian friend of mine about that endless personals section once. How it went on for page after page. About the bondage and the pee. Oh yeah baby, she said, that’s how we roll.

She blamed it on the long winters.

I better stop now. I have Canadian friends, all of whom played hockey and can hurt me. And out-drink me. And who make more money than me. In American dollars.

And in what war did Canadians beat the shit out of Americans?

It was the War of 1812, Alex.

And Alex Trebek is a Canadian.

Manon Rheaume, all five feet and seven inches of her. And if you have to ask who she is, you're not Canadian.

Manon Rheaume, all five feet and seven inches of her, is a Canadian.

Crisco

(2014)

Back when Silverlake was leather heaven all the corner markets had lots and lots of Crisco on the shelves. I never thought about that until I saw a totally leathered out guy my size at the liquor store getting  ready for a party.  Snacks, beer, booze, cigars, breakfast cereal (coco puffs, I remember that 30 years later), milk, juice, donuts and every can of Crisco on the shelf. Like eight cans worth. The poor kid working the counter looked absolutely horrified. The leather dude was loving it.

There are none of those guys left in the neighborhood. I bet 90% of them died. They sang I Will Survive and then died. Their bars are straight, their houses full of hipsters and irony. Chaps aren’t just for gay boys anymore. The plague came through and destroyed that whole civilization. It laid waste the land, leaving Silverlake barren with breeders. It’s raining babies now. But those were the days, the survivors sing. Those were the days. What a party. A man was a man and Crisco wasn’t just for frying chicken.

Ouch.

William Holden

Was watching Stalag 17 again tonight. I love that movie. William Holden is great in it. But wasn’t he always. A great actor and a real movie star. Not sure if he was too nuts about being a movie star. He seemed kind of conflicted. He certainly drank enough. I don’t think he was a happy drunk. He was a moody and temperamental drunk. Not a lot of fun to be around. Certainly no one was around when he fell and hit the edge of the table. It was teakwood and immoveable. He hit the sharp corner edge of that table and his scalp split wide open and gushed blood. It bled and bled. He was awake for a good thirty minutes there on the floor, thoroughly drunk, his lifeblood draining out of him. He would have slipped into unconsciousness eventually and finally his blood pressure would have dropped to a point where it could drop no more and he died. There on the television he was so tough and cynical and independent, a perfect postwar anti-hero, but I saw him on the floor bleeding like a stuck pig.

All this ran through my mind as I was laying on the floor tonight bleeding like a stuck pig. I had awoken there, or woken when I bashed my head against the corner edge of our own immoveable coffee table. I had fallen asleep and rolled off the couch and my head had crashed against the coffee table. I wound up face down on the floor. Bang. I put my hand to my forehead and felt wetness. A lot of wetness. I looked into my hand and the blood was pooling there, a deep gorgeous red. It began sloshing onto the floor. I yelled for my wife to bring a towel and tried to inch away from the sofa. Bloodstains are a drag. Meanwhile, I’m seeing Bill Holden and thinking man, what a ridiculous way to go. Him, a big movie star and me doing just what he did.

It was really bleeding. Soaked a towel, soaked through several paper towels. Soaked a facecloth. I asked my wife how it looked. It looks nasty she said. Do I need stitches? I’d rather not go the ER. That would be a couple hundred bucks. She said maybe if we use compression you won’t need stitches. We tried compression. It kept bleeding. I said OK, just call the neighbor and see if he can take me to Kaiser. But he wasn’t home. My brother wasn’t home either. After all, it’s Friday night. I said OK, let’s not worry about it. She brought me ice. After an hour the compression and the ice stanched the bleeding, How’s it look I asked. It looks like a cut. How much of a cut? About an inch and a third long. Up in the hairline? No, right in the middle of your forehead. Cool, I said, I have a hockey wound.  Like I caught a high stick in the face. Blood on the ice. I’d be back in the locker room getting stitched up. That’s the kind of wound this will be. Though I didn’t get the stitches. I’ll probably regret that in years to come, though. Maybe I’ll think it’s cool. Some alpha male thing anyway. I’ll retell this story, each time with more blood. Men will say dude..that’s fucked up. Women will study the scar and coo maternally.

OK, it’s been two hours and my wife dabbed it with alcohol and I winced and she stuck a big bandage over it. I can only imagine the beautiful bruise I have coming. There’s gonna be some funny times coming up. Especially job interviews. Did you ever have one of those lives I asked a few days ago. This is definitely one of those lives. But I need to finish this up and go get a few Tylenol, I have a headache that you wouldn’t believe. Something William Holden didn’t have to worry about.

William Holden's bruised face, Stalag 17.

William Holden’s bruised face, Stalag 17.

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Hockey

I can’t help thinking that given we are allotted only so many hours in a life, then wasting three of them watching a 4-0 hockey game is somehow morally wrong. Especially after doing the same thing yesterday. Oh wait, Jersey scored. So it’s a 4-1 hockey game. And to think I had thought I was watching my existence drain away unfulfilled.

Osama’s Dead

(Brick’s Picks, LA Weekly—what appeared in print was radically copy-edited thank god. Not sure which of these I turned in, or maybe I turned in another draft. This was early May, 2011 and I had quit the week before but the paper said I’d be back the following week but my heart wasn’t in it. I just hated writing Brick’s Picks by this point. Eventually split the end of July when yet another editor came aboard and I just didn’t feel like dealing with another editor. I was a prick about it, one of those take this job and shove it things that left the poor bastard  bewildered and sending me the proper rules of pronunciation. Ya wanna stay on my good side you don’t send me the proper rules of pronunciation, especially after I’d already quit….Oh, the line about drinking myself into a coma is a lie.)

So Sunday night we’re writing this column, snickering, feeling pretty good. We flip on the TV and some newscaster’s babbling, just beside himself with excitement. Osama’s dead, Osama’s dead, Osama’s dead. The foreign correspondent agreed. Osama’s dead. The experts chimed in. Osama’s dead. The kids singing the national anthem outside the White House chimed in. Osama’s dead. The people in New York City agreed. Osama was dead, so dead. And we looked at our column, and it was dead. Every single writer and blogger looked at what they were typing and said the same damn thing: Osama’s dead. So every gardening and fishing and bondage and music and political column written Monday morning says Osama’s dead. But just to be different we’ll just stick with what we wrote and hope no one notices.    

But we’ll keep it short. We apologized for skipping last week. The Kings got knocked out of the NHL playoffs, you see, and we drank ourselves into a coma. We’ll get ‘em next season. We mentioned talking with late great L.A. jazz jock Chuck Niles about the L.A. Kings. He said we’ll get ‘em next season. Segued into his funeral. It got quite poignant here. Then back to jazz and drinking whiskey and it almost made sense. Then it went off the deep end about hockey and jazz. It’d take too long to explain now, but basically we like to listen to crazy hard ass jazz while watching hockey.  Crazier the better. The logic got pretty tenuous from then on. We somehow mentioned AC/DC and jazz critics and chasing Mingus with an ax all in one sentence. Claimed we thought of that next to the stage one night at Charlie O’s. We did, actually, but never mind. Then we wrote a bunch of stuff about jazz and fucking shit up, as Donald Trump might put it. Though we didn’t say Trump, just “a leading Republican presidential contender”. It was very topical. That’s what we were snickering at when they told us Osama’s dead. So never mind. Here’s some shows, though. 

Take 2:

So last night we’re typing up this column, snickering, feeling pretty good. Then a bus driver calls. Brick—turn on the TV—they got Obama. He sounded excited. Bus drivers never sound excited. So we flipped on the TV and there, where Donald Trump should have been, some newscaster was babbling, just beside himself with excitement.  Mama done took him to Disneyland. Osama’s dead, Osama’s dead, Osama’s dead. The foreign correspondent agreed. Osama’s dead. The experts chimed in. Osama’s dead. The kids singing the national anthem outside the White House chimed in. Osama’s dead. The people in New York City agreed. Osama was dead, so dead. And we looked at our column, and it was dead. Every single writer and every single blogger looked at what they were typing and said the same damn thing. Osama’s dead. And every single gardening and fishing and bondage and music and political column written this morning says Osama’s dead. Which of course means we can’t. So we’ll just stick with what we wrote and hope no one notices.    

Unfortunately we already wasted space telling you Osama’s dead. So we’ll run through what we wrote. We opened by apologizing for skipping last week. Said the Kings got knocked out of the NHL playoffs and we drank ourselves into a coma. Said we’ll get ‘em next season. Then went on about talking to legendary L.A. jazz deejay with Chuck Niles about the L.A. Kings.  He said we’ll get ‘em next season. The about his funeral. It got quite poignant here. Then we went on about the L.A. Kings and jazz and drinking whiskey and it almost made sense. Then it went off the deep end about hockey and jazz. It’d take too long to explain now, but basically we like to listen to crazy hard ass jazz while listening to hockey.  Crazier the better. The logic got pretty tenuous from then on. We somehow mentioned AC/DC and jazz critics and chasing Mingus with an ax all in one sentence. Claimed we thought of that sipping whiskey next to the stage one night at Charlie O’s. We did actually, but never mind. Then we wrote a bunch of stuff about fucking shit up, as Donald Trump might put it. Though we didn’t say Trump, just “a leading Republican presidential contender”. It was very topical. That’s what we were snickering at when the bus driver called and told us Osama’s dead. So never mind. Here’s some shows, though.

Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing

(2012)

It just dawned on me that if I hadn’t stopped writing the Brick’s Picks jazzcolumn I could have used my LA Weekly cachet to score some righteous press passes to the Los Angeles Kings victory parade on Thursday. 

I spent seven years writing that goddamned column. I spent twenty years a devoted Kings fan. I hated writing Brick’s Picks…maybe not at first but by the end it was nothing but misery. And you had to be a masochist to be a goddamned Kings fan all those years. Sure jumping on the bandwagon in ’92 was great, but staying on meant getting used to the cellar, humiliation, failure, pitying looks from Canadians or insults from people from San Jose in those fey teal jerseys. It meant watching your team finally make the playoffs only to be swept–swept–in the first round. And then doing the exact same thing two seasons later. It meant only once making it to the second round.  It meant watching the owner go to jail for counterfeiting old coins. It meant watching Rob Blake and wondering why the hell he was still here. It meant saying goodbye to the Great One when he left for a shot at a cup. It meant Lakers fans who had no idea who or even what the Kings were. It meant trying to believe it every time they said the miserable failure of  a hockey franchise was in a “rebuilding phase”. It meant feeling kinda sorry for Bob Miller but never saying so. It meant being a little heartbroken when Warren Wiebe died. It meant watching the Mighty Ducks win the cup. It meant not being sure what was lonelier, being a Kings fan or a jazz fan in Los Angeles. And not caring. Because I loved jazz, and I loved hockey. So what if sometimes it felt like nobody else did. 

But if I had known the goddamn Kings were going to be Stanley Cup Champions this year after one of the most improbably glorious post-season runs in NHL history, I would never have quit the Weekly. I’d still be there, grinding out the column every Sunday night and hating every second of it. I would have done it because I could have called in some favors and gotten me a couple passes to the press section and watch this silly-assed parade. I would have so loved that. I could stop watching the end of Slapshot and being jealous of the extras cheering like mad for a fictional hockey team.

So this is the first time I have regretted quitting my gig at the L.A. Weekly. It’s a dumb reason, I know.  And it’s a selfish reason, I know that too. But it’s a good reason. You see, the Charlestown Chiefs have won the championship of the Federal League. Yup. Finally. And all that stuff before, the failures and disappointments and the what-the-fucks?…well, who cares. It only makes this year even better. Amazing. Miraculous. Great. Just great. Beautiful, even.

Oh…and my second favorite team?  The New Jersey Devils. Now what are those odds?

OK…..and I have another confession, and now that the Kings are Stanley Cup Champions it’s not so embarrassing. Well, it’s embarrassing, but not so pathetic. You see, I have only been star struck once in my life. It was a couple years ago, at the height of my hipness. While leaving the St. Patrick’s Day festivities at LALive (press passes with free everything, of course) I run smack dab into Luc Robataille. Luc. Ohmygod. I said–and I quote–wow, you’re Luc Robataille. He said yes I am. I tried to say something hip and knowledgeable but nothing came out. Just a few incoherent syllables. He nodded and walked on. I said to my wife–and I quote–that was Luc Robataille. She said yes I know. I told everyone I that week that I had met Luc Robataille. They said who? Except for Kings fans. They said wow. And then they said Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc.

I kinda miss being a lonely LA Kings fan in Los Angeles

Suddenly I keep having these surreal moments at work of people walking up to talk all about the LA Kings. I mean, this does not happen in Los Angeles. Hockey fandom was something weird and unseemly best kept to oneself. Nobody ever spoke of it. But now this. People walk up to my desk and start gushing about Jonathan Quick and Justin Brown and the other guys (they only know Quick and Brown’s name) and try to talk hockey talk and suddenly I know what it’s like to be Lakers fan. It’s very unsettling.