Friday, 10 October 2014

The Starter

Grasshopper was still rolling with momentum, and our merchandise was selling amazingly. Our "Born Loser" demo was getting heavy rotation on college radio, and we hit #1 on HMV's indy chart. Our video was also getting quite a bit of play on MuchMusic, and the Fusion episodes were saturating cable 10 in Brampton. Our shirts were quite possibly our best selling item though, as we seemed to constantly be getting more printed off.

Derek got a great lead on cheap blank shirts through one of his suppliers downtown where he used to pick up incense and other items to sell at Afterlife when it was still active. Thankfully he had kept this contact, as we were getting our shirts for next to nothing. We were making money off of them, but all of the money went back into the band and it's primary investor, Marsha, Derek's girlfriends mother.

Once again we had sold out of shirts, so I went with Derek one night to the supplier to pick up more. The location was on Spadina and it was like a wholesale head shop. All of the things you'd typically see in a head shop, or rock shop, but in endless abundance. The Indian fellow who ran the place brought us down to the basement to get more shirts, and that's when something caught my eye.

There was a shelf full of starter pistols, the kind they use for starting races and whatnot. They emit a loud bang when you pull the trigger, but they don't actually fire any type of bullet or projectile. I asked the owner if he could sell me one and he eagerly agreed for the low low price of ten dollars. I was always into collecting props of all sorts that could be used for theatrics, and this was an incredible piece to add to my collection.

We packed the shirts in the van, strapped ourselves in, and prepared to roll out. I discretely took the starters pistol out of the box for a quick peek at it. I was conscious enough to keep it down low in my lap to avoid anyone seeing it and getting the wrong idea. We drove down Spadina until we hit Dundas, here we waited to make a left hand turn. There was a police cruiser in the oncoming lane and he had the right away, yet for some reason the car sat stopped at a green light. The officer driving waved us through, so we made our turn.

The next thing we knew, the cop turned right and flashed his lights and ran his siren. It was apparent he was pulling us over. As Derek pulled the van to the side of the road I noticed a fleet of squad cars coming out of the shadows. We were completely surrounded by flashing lights and parked cars with their doors open, yet no police were in sight. Then a loud booming voice echoed through a megaphone "Slowly step out of the van" to which we obliged. The next command was to put our hand behind our heads and to slowly start walking backwards, which we also did. It was then that I noticed all of the cops hiding behind their open car doors with weapons drawn and aimed at us.

As we walked backwards we were greeted by groups of unfriendly police officers who immediately started going through our pockets. One of the cops even started searching through Derek's dreadlocks and he proclaimed "if I find a needle in here you're fucking dead!" Meanwhile other police officers were searching through the van, what they were looking for was still a mystery to us. This was all happening right in front of the 52 division, one of the largest police precincts in the city, and the audience of bystanders was rapidly growing in numbers. The next thing I knew we were in handcuffs being brought into 52 division.

After siting in a small room for what seemed like hours, two cops entered the room to explain why we had been detained. Apparently someone called the police claiming we were driving around waving a gun out of the window, which I knew in my heart never happened. Had someone seen me checking the starters pistol out in the van? Had the proprietor who sold me the pistol ratted me out minutes after taking my money? The answer was unknown to me, as it still remains to this day.

When the police figured out it was a starters pistol they became much more friendly. They were taking pot shots at the officers who called it in, two cops from a smaller precinct in Parkdale. The duo were now the butt end of all the jokes the 52 division cops slung about. They fed us McDonalds, processed us, and released us...but not before charging us with "weapons dangerous"

Here I was trying to live life on the straight and narrow, my criminal past behind me, and now I'd have to appear in court again. Derek was quite terrified as he had never dealt with police before. He was a wreck, shaking, crying, and totally freaking out. I tried my best to keep him calm and explained that I would take full responsibility for the situation, even though charges had been layed on him too. 

I didn't know it at the time, but this would be the pre-cursor of negativity that awaited in the wings for us as individuals and as a band...

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