Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lollapalooza pt.3

 So now here I was walking into the posh Skydome hotel lobby and seeking out the front desk. Looking back on this, I don't know how ridiculous I must of seemed asking the clerk for the room number of "Sean-E-Sean" Even though the clerk did his best to help me, and remained professional doing so, he came up with nothing.

I was totally deflated, as I dragged my feet through the lobby feeling like a lost child. I wandered about like a runaway dog searching for his master. As I was about to leave I noticed a flamboyant black man with a white girl on each arm. It was Ernie C, lead guitarist of Body Count. I quickly regained my composure and approached him like I was one of his friends, loudly shouting "Yo Ernie! What's Lloyd's room number again? I'm supposed to meet him!" Ernie looked at me for a second, then blurted out the room number, and casually continued along with his two groupies. 

I found the room and rapped on the door. Lloyd peeked through an open crack in the door briefly, then opened it to him welcoming me in like a friend or relative he hadn't seen in years. Moose offered me a beer, and we sat on opposing beds shooting the shit, which consisted mainly of me saying how amazing it was that there was a black metal band and how they stole the show they weren't even billed on. Moose was really cool and down to earth, perhaps as the celebrity life was new to him, but he was just like any other normal human. We got to the topic of our "trade" and it was time for business. 

Lloyd busted open a fat suitcase filled with an assortment of shirts and said "pick one" I ended up choosing a white shirt that simply said $YNDICATE, and on the back of the shirt was the Rhyme Syndicate logo. I gave Moose a 3 paper joint which he put beside a large bag of jelly beans. BC were heading back to Los Angeles, and all Moose wanted to do was blaze one before the plane ride, then enjoy his mile high jelly beans as he headed back home. As he was seeing me off he also gave me a photograph that someone had taken earlier in the day of them performing. I remember thinking it must have been some pro photography, as they had already developed the film from a mere few hours ago.

As I made my way out of the hotel, Derek was waiting for me in the van, and he could see my shit eating grin from hundreds of yards away. I was very happy, and at the time thought this was the greatest day of my life. Just when I thought my smile couldn't grow any larger, I looked on the backside of the photo to see Lloyd had written me a little message...

"Yo Theo, you my nigga, fuck tha police! Moose Man"

Monday, 27 January 2014

Lollapalooza pt.2

From the opening bizarre video sequences being displayed on the giant screen tv and the billowing clouds of dry ice from the smoke machines in the air, the crowd was already buzzing and getting rowdy....and Jane's Addiction hadn't even stepped on stage yet. When the intro finally culminated into the first song kicking in, the crowd went absolutely berserk. 

Entire rows of chairs were being hurdled into the air left right and centre, as the crowd finally decided it was time to make a "dance floor" it was unreal seeing dozens of rows of chairs flying high simultaneously above the growing mosh pit. The chairs that remained grounded by zip ties were quickly separated by the fans, using lighters, pocket knifes, and sheer adrenaline. There was no more assigned seating to say the least, rows and aisles and seat numbers were now non existent, the way it should be on the floor at a concert.

The clouds of marijuana smoke quickly overtook the H20 and there was nothing security could do about it. I found it hilarious watching all the meat head rent a cops running around like freshly decapitated chickens. The looks of panic, fear, confusion, and utter bewilderment on their faces were priceless in my eyes. I stood up on a lone chair that was dead centre to the stage, just safely behind the mosh pit. I pulled out an oversized three paper and sparked it up. It was intended to be for myself, Derek, and his girlfriend, but we had gotten split up during the opening of Jane's. I felt bad, but I had been waiting all day for an open window, and now that the opportunity had presented itself, I was climbing through that sucker like the night stalker himself!

Jane's put on an incredible performance, and the day had finally come to a close. As everyone filed out of the CNE grandstand to head home, I headed on a completely different mission of my own. Earlier in the day while Rollins Band was performing, I noticed the bass player from Ice T's thrash band Body Count standing off to the side of the seats spectating. Still disappointed over my "celebrity encounter" with Rollins, I decided to take another stab at talking to a "Rockstar" Surprisingly this guy was super nice! His name was Lloyd but his alias was "Moose man" I asked him why all the other bands had merchandise for sale except Body Count, and he couldn't really give me an answer despite the fact every member of the band had a different BC, Ice T, or $yndicate shirt on. 

We chatted for a bit and stumbled on the topic of weed, which Lloyd had none of. I eagerly offered to trade him some for one of those sweet shirts that he coincidentally had a suitcase full of at his hotel room in the Skydome. Moose agreed and told me to come to the hotel after the gig, he was staying in a room with Syndicate member Sean-E-Sean, who had the room in his name....

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lollapalooza pt.1

As the summer of 1991 was coming to a close, a new musical happening was taking place. An outdoor music festival that boasted the best names in various genres of punk, industrial, rock, hardcore, rap, and alternative music. The festival was called Lollapalooza and it was to take place at the CNE grandstand on the 7th of August. Derek was just as excited as I was, so we got tickets and were there with bells on when the big day arrived. The festival was an all day event that ran from 11am until around midnight.

When we got there I was a bit shocked to see all of the corporate sponsors that were involved in this project. It seemed contradictory to me that all these "underground" bands were coming together under the mighty wing of corporate American companies. Another thing that took me back was the fact that all the chairs were zip tied together, leaving all of us fans packed like sardines with absolutely no floor area to dance and mosh.

Security was also in full force. You couldn't so much as get a lighter to your joint before some meathead was in your face threatening to throw you out. I felt this event was way too policed considering the acts involved and what the festival supposedly stood for, not to mention it was an outdoor event and they were treating us as if we were in a small concert theatre. Speaking of the acts, the line up for the day consisted of: Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice T, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Janes Addiction. 

It was a hot day and somewhat frustrating being confined to a seat the entire time, but we made the best of it as we were there for the music. Rollins Band and Butthole Surfers did their thing and tried to work the crowd up, but most people sat quietly and spectated, with the exception of these two wacky guys we labelled "The Butthole Brothers" who were on their feet dancing and grooving the whole time. We ended up chatting with them and they had came from Kalamazoo to Toronto for the summer, they were living on the streets panhandling to get by.

When Ice T hit the stage it was like everyone woke up. Ice commanded every bodies undivided attention, and he had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. Half way through the set he dropped the rapping and brought out his new thrash metal band "Body Count" to play a few songs, which was an incredible surprise. They blew everyone away as nobody had heard of BC yet. During the set, I noticed former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins standing off to the side watching the performance. I decided to approach him and said "Hey Hank, would you mind if I got an autograph?" Rollins briefly broke his gaze from the stage, looked me up and down, and then diverted his eyes back to Body Count. Hank finally spoke up and said "What is an autograph? It's just a name on a piece of paper. I'm a regular human being just as you are...." I walked away in the middle of Henry's philosophical rant and returned to my seat. By the time I parked my ass I noticed he was signing autographs for a bunch of girls. "What a fucking asshole!" I thought to myself.

Living Colour had always been close to my heart so it was amazing to get to see them rock out. Most of the crowd wasn't that responsive to them as they were a bit more of a mainstream rock band, but I was in sheer bliss. I was never a fan of NIN or Siouxsie, so those two performances were quite boring and uninteresting for me. Finally after a long, hot day of music, the sun was completely down, the stars were shining, and it was time for Janes Addiction to hit the stage...

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Rise & Fall of Grassroots

During the last days of high school, my friends and I used to frequent an indoor skatepark "Grassroots" that had opened up in Brampton. The roots was a little further north from our neck of the woods, but it was well worth the drive. I skated there a few times and it was fun, but what truly brought joy to me was just chilling there and watching the other skaters, some of whom even went onto be pros in the business.

There was a large vertical ramp (half pipe) on site that was about 10-12 feet high and seriously intimidating. Most kids didn't even go near it, some started in the bottom and gingerly worked the lower regions of the pipe, and few actually had the balls and the skills to tear it my man Steve Waller from E.B.S. The ramp had a bench at the top of it, and I loved sitting there and watching Steve rip that ramp up. 

Now that my first summer as a graduate was coming to a close, I ended up helping my girlfriend Sue get a one bedroom apartment downtown Brampton. Although I technically hadn't moved my stuff out of my parents place, I was essentially moved out. Between crashing at Derek's and staying at Sue's, I was now a mere memory in my parents house. The times I was there, it was usually to sleep or to have a meal or to pick some things up.

While staying at Sue's I had the privilege of getting closer aquatinted with a few members of Team Scam, a local skateboard crew that Waller was apart of. Their name was synonymous with skateboarding in Brampton during the 80s and 90s, and anywhere you went you'd see their stickers plastered all over town. Rumour had it that to make the team you had to A) be a dope skater, and B) you had to steal something gnarly. Sue came home one day with some friends from school as she was now in her graduating year, and with her friends were 3 guys I had seen around....Jay, Navie, and Jamie. We instantly hit it off and before long they were almost a permanent fixture around our apartment.

The guys ended up telling me how the owner of Grassroots had left them in charge while she went on a trip to her native home of the Philippines. The trip was supposed to be for 2 weeks, but it had now been a month or two and she still hadn't returned. No calls, no letters....Team Scam was essentially running the roots and all the money they made on admission, memberships, snack bar confectionaries, skateboards, accessories, and clothing, went straight into their pockets.

Grassroots had now become like a suburban underground wasteland for the youth. There were no rules, vandalism and graffiti was encouraged. The Scam boys even went as far as to build a man cave INSIDE the big half pipe, fully equipped with a couch, television, and surround sound stereo system. The place had become something comparable to the foot clan hang out in the first Ninja Turtles movie. As incredible as this was to witness, eventually consequences would follow. Once the products ran out and the money was gone, there was nothing left to sell and make profit on, as they had never re filled any inventory. Unpaid bills were piling up and questions started being asked. 

Eventually some unnamed associates took matters into their own hands and trashed the place one night. They then proceeded to call it in to the police as a break and enter/theft/vandalism report. Nobody got in trouble for anything, and the roots was now officially dead. I'm not saying that's exactly how it went down, but that's how I remember it. Two of the three scammers were now homeless, so I openly gave them a couch and floor to fight over. Navie and I even ended up working on some beats together and doing a few raps so that was really cool to me. As always I was thankful to have some new and interesting friends in my life, but I was really bummed about Grassroots.

It was a beautiful thing, a beautiful place, filled with memories and nostalgia, and it's never nice when something beautiful passes on. As wild and wacky of a history that it had, it was sad to see it go out in such an unjustified selfish manner. To this day there has still never been an indoor skatepark in Brampton, and deep inside, part of me truly believes it's due to the life and death of Grassroots. R.I.P.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Free bird

I don't remember much of the summer of 1991, which is surprising to me. You would think that being my first summer as a high school graduate that it would of held some significance or importance. Perhaps it did and I was too fueled up on alcohol and narcotics to remember any of it. There were a few noteworthy parties at schools end, one thrown by Jazzy Jeff was quite epic, but failed to reach the legendary status of Woodstock 91'. Never the less we were all living it up and enjoying our first taste as "adults".

I was still going to Toronto on an almost daily basis. My co op placement was obviously done, but I was still helping Derek run his shop as a source of income for myself. Our band Slow Poke was truly living up to its name. We had been jamming for almost a year now, we had transitioned through a few bass players, and we still had our handful of songs. We couldn't seem to get a gig anywhere in the city without having a demo tape to give to club owners, so we figured we gad better get on that. Derek got the wheels in motion and started searching for someone to record us a demo.

Meanwhile in Brampton I was trying to juggle what little time I had between my family, my friends, and my new girlfriend Sue. Not an easy task when one spends most his time out of his hometown. Regardless, I was making moves. I was getting out and doing things, the things that I wanted to do. I never felt the need to try and force things, I was quite happy just riding the wave of life and seeing where it took me. My folks however weren't too keen on my freewheeling philosophy, as they were constantly on my back about getting a job.

Why did I loathe work? I tried a few places out that the job agency set me up with, but I never seemed to last more than a week in a placement. Dirty back breaking warehouse work was not for me. I was an artist. A musician. A writer. A visionary. I had my own secret agenda of goals and milestones to reach, and there was no way I'd reach them if I was slaving away in dirty factories. I didn't feel like I was above this type of work or the people who do such work, I just felt like I had so much to offer the world. How could I give my offerings to the world if I was trapped in a mindless job? I couldn't. I was free as a bird now, and it was time for the bird to spread his wings and fly...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Real World

Well the big day had finally arrived and I was now officially a high school graduate. I ended up not attending the graduation ceremonies, as I had no interest in doing so. I did however decide to attend the after party. I was actually in Toronto that day hanging out with Derek at the shop. Once he closed up, I made my way to the hotel, which was over by Nathan Phillips Square. It ended up being a pretty uneventful night, with the exception of a bunch of jock douchebags who were trying to live up to the chaos my friends and I had created at the Aquinas grad. All in all it wasn't that memorable, I had a much better time crashing other schools grads.

So now I was in the real world. My mother was already on my case about finding a job, and she even took the liberty of applying to job agencies for me. In my mind I had no intention of finding a job, hell I had just worked a job for the last 13 was called school. After spending a semester in the animation studio, I found it a bit boring and tedious. I knew deep down this wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided not to spend my parents money on college.

I was quite happy working for Derek and doing the band thing. D couldn't pay me much, but he made up for it with lots of free schwag and fancy dinners at trendy downtown restaurants. I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do with myself, but I was enjoying the place I was in. Back in Brampton however, my close friends were becoming rather perturbed with me, as I was spending most of my time in Toronto now. We decided to get together and go out on the town.

When that day came, we went to Backtrax, as it was still the only cool hangout spot in Brampton for punks and like minded people. We met up for some underage drinking, dancing, and videogames. Yes, the bar had a few coin operated arcade machines on site, so naturally that is where the beer gravitated me towards. I was playing one of these games when I first saw her. She was a fit, shapely goth girl with mysterious dark eyes and skin as white as a porcelain china doll. She was decked out in all black, including her makeup and very short, shaved hair. We made eye contact with each other and smiled. This flirting continued on until I finally mustered up the bravery to go talk to her. 

I made my move and we hit it off well. Her name was Sue, the same name as my mother. I figured this could be a blessing or perhaps not, but knowing what an angel my mother is, I decided to take a chance on Sue. We started talking on the phone the next day, and by the weeks end we were officially dating. Life seemed to be dealing me a good hand. My band was on the up and up and I graduated with colours that weren't necessarily "flying". I had no luck with girls throughout most of high school as I never applied myself, but now here I was just a week after graduating, and I'm handed this beautiful young woman. Life in the real world didn't seem so bad after all...

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy 2014

Greetings everyone and happy 2014! I just wanted to make a quick post wishing everyone a happy new year. I hope you all had a great Christmas with your friends, families and loved ones. I took a bit of a break from my blog for the holidays but you can be sure it will be back in full force for the new year!