Thursday, 30 July 2015

Blessed Friends

Living in Homer square was a real blast to say the least. It was nice to be on my own, and even nicer to have a place for our friends to congregate. Generally on weekends we would goto a bar in Toronto somewhere, then everybody would head back to our place after last call to keep the party going. This became common practice and it was no big secret that we would be partying it up on weekends. I was never super close or tight with my family, and to me my friends were my family, so I immensely enjoyed being surrounded by them at most given times. 

I was still working midnights for Shayne's mom at her gas station. My shifts were Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday 11pm-7am. Working a mere 12 days a month basically gave me enough money to cover my portion of the rent and bills, but I didn't have much money for anything else. Thankfully I had some extra curricular activities that were earning me a second income and allowing me to live life comfortably and the way I wanted to.

As the months passed by it seemed more and more friends were coming out of the woodwork. I had been hanging around with Sanjai again quite a bit, my best friend from middle school. One day we had plans to hang at the house and he said he was going to bring a surprise by for me. I had no idea what it was, but I was excited none the less as I love surprises. When the doorbell rang and I went to answer the door, I couldn't believe my eyes and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Sanjai was standing there with our old third partner in crime Jay Poole. I literally hadn't seen Jay since about grade 9 or so, which was now roughly six years in the past.

Jay had moved to the east coast shortly after we started high school, either Halifax or Nova Scotia, I can't quite remember. I do remember at that time thinking I was never going to see him again, and now here he was standing at my front door with his huge trademark smile em blazed. I was flipping my lid with excitement and we were both genuinely stoked to see each other. You can always tell a true friend when you haven't seen each other in ages, yet when you do cross paths again, you have the ability to pick right up where you left off like it was yesterday. Our three man crew of chaos was reunited once again and it felt great.

Another new friend came into the fold through my roommate Shayne, and his name was Scott Kornack. I honestly have no recollection of how these two crossed paths or how Scott ended up at our place one day, but I never questioned it. I was a bit apprehensive of him at first, as he was a clean cut jock type...the type of guys I loathed in high school. Scott had been a football player and a rugby player, and he was quite a big guy. He was a really laid back, nice guy though, so I put my judgements aside and surprisingly we ended up hitting it off very well, to the point where we became closer friends than him and Shayne had been. To me it was a trip to get so close with someone who was such an opposite parallel from myself, yet we had so much in common. Scott introduced me to the world of "japanimation" or "manga" exposing me to classic films such as Akira, & Fist Of The North Star. Being the art lover that I am, it was inspiring to be exposed to something new that opened my mind to more possibilities. 

Speaking of friends, another golden oldie resurfaced while we were living on Homer square. Steve Waller, former vocalist of Epileptic Brain Surgeons, had returned to Ontario from Vancouver. Steve moved out west somewhere around 91' I believe and I think I had maybe seen him once when he was visiting and attended a Grasshopper show in late 92'. Waller was back for the summer and I was totally ecstatic. I told Steve he could stay with us anytime and for as much time as he liked. Steve had other places to stay but he did end up crashing on one of our many couches on numerous occasions. Steve and I went out skateboarding quite a bit, and it was nice to have a skating buddy once again, as most of my friends had grown out of it. Steve also taught me about the importance of suspenders, and I swore off belts from that point on. He also taught me about creating graffiti tags, so I was now expanding my artistic side even more.

Living in this place with these great friends was truly a blessing. Everyday was an adventure, as you never knew who might drop by or what may lay around the corner...

Monday, 20 July 2015

UPDATE: 07/20/2015


Greetings readers and happy summer to you all. I hope each and every single one of you are enjoying your summer & I hope you've all gotten some time off of work to spend cherished and/or lazy moments with your friends, families, and loved ones. I can never stress enough how important that is in life. A lot of the times in our younger more stubborn years, we tend to take our families for granted. As we get older we realize they have always been and will always be the only ones there for us. Sure friendships are important, but as one grows up, has a family, etc. they cannot always be there for their friends. I've always tried to be there for my friends and I will continue to do so the best I can to my ability, but just remember your family love you and always have your back and front.

I didn't have a chance to do any writing this past week as my son Gabe was with me for 8 days straight, so needless to say my time was spent with him. We had a great time doing our usual activities on the rainy days such as arts & crafts, video creating, watching movies, and playing Xbox. Thankfully we had some really nice weather the majority of the week, so we did manage to get out to the parks, splashpads, ponds, and creeks in our area. Gabe caught a bunch of frogs so that was the highlight for him, until we went to Centre Island in Toronto.

We have gone there every year now for apart of our summer activities, and I believe this was our fourth year in a row. I was totally shocked as hell when my boy told me he wanted to ride on the Haunted Barrels alone this year. I was so proud of him, especially thinking back to myself at his age, as I would not have rode this ride without my Father at my side. It was truly a shining moment in my life as a Father to see such a brave young man do something like this of his own free will.

After riding all the rides we spent hours with the animals there, and Gabriel really seemed to hit it off with the goats, one in particular who was following him everywhere he went, and showing signs of affection by playfully butting at the fence in front of him. It was really sweet, and it melts my heart to see my boy so loving and gently kind with animals of all sorts. 

After we spent the day and had some early supper, we headed over to the beach for a few hours, where I layed in the sand while Gabe swam and frolicked in the lake. It is so hard to get that boy out of the water once he is in it. We also discovered a maze that i recall playing in as a kid, I thought it was long gone, so it was an absolute delight to discover. Both of us got a bit nervous as we lost each other in the maze for awhile, but thankfully father and son were reunited.

All in all we had an amazing time as we always do, but this year seemed just a bit more special than the others. There is still lots of summer left and I am sure we will get up to new adventures before it runs out. I hope you do too. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

CURRENT UPDATE: WWE "The Beast in the East"

I recently noticed in a wrestling group on Facebook I am apart of, that the WWE had a show in Japan, which aired live around 5:30 am our time, this past 4th of July. This event was dubbed "The Beast In the East" which didn't really sit right with me, as former wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow was known as "The Beast from the East" and I personally feel they could have come up with a more creative title. I have not watched one full episode of their televised programming for over a decade now, and the last pay per view I ever witnessed was the second ECW "One Night Stand" back in 2006. I googled the match card and decided I'd give the show a watch, mainly because I was curious to see how the wise Japanese fans would react to the product.

The show took place at Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan, and right from the get go I liked the feel of the show. It definitely had more of an independent vibe, with the absence of the fancy bells and whistles we are used to seeing within the realm of the WWE. I decided I'd write my own review and rate the show, so here we go...

There were two dark matches that took place which did not air, so I cannot really express an opinion on them, but the results are as followed:

1. Cesaro defeated Diego by submission. Singles match. Time limit:N/A

2. The Lucha Dragons defeated The New Day. Tag team match. Time limit:N/A

3. Chris Jericho defeated Neville by submission. Singles match. Time limit:16:20

I personally felt this was the best match on the card. I was surprised to see Jericho back in the ring, and I have to admit he looked quite good. Chris seemed to be in good shape and his performance was top notch considering his age. This match was the epitome of wrestling in Japan. The bout indubitably had that puroresu element to it. A great story with a great build up and there weren't really any dull moments. I did kind of expect Jericho to put Neville over, but the finish was done well and these two performers put on a great spectacle.
*****5/5 STARS 

4. Nikki Bella defeated Tamina and Paige. Triple threat match for the Divas Championship. Time Limit: 7:03

By far the worst match of the night. An absolute shit show by the Divas as usual, but I didn't expect anything less. A lot of sloppy wrestling, bad timing, and unbelievable scenarios, especially with Tamina, who was the biggest of the women physically. She barely spent anytime in the ring and kept getting knocked off the apron with simple moves such as a forearm smash, which would result in her powdering on the floor for extended periods of time. I personally felt this match shouldn't of even been on the card and I feel it was an insult to the Japanese fans who are used to watching women who can actually wrestle.

5. Brock Lesnar defeated Kofi Kingston. Singles match. Time Limit: 2:41

With this show title referencing Lesnar, they could of gave him a more formidable opponent. This was nothing short of a simple squash match. I'm guessing Lesnar is still over big in Japan, so why not treat the fans to an actual great wrestling match? Considering the show was fueled by the hype of Brock returning to the ring, a bout less than three minutes seems somewhat of bad idea. I would have loved to see Brock have an epic battle with someone of his caliber, but instead we were given all steak and no sizzle, and Kofi got a one way express ticket to Suplex City.
**2/5 STARS

6. Finn Bálor defeated Kevin Owens. Singles match for the NXT Championship. 
Time limit: 19:25

I was probably the most excited for this match above all the rest, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Owens throwing his flowers into the audience during the opening ceremony was very disrespectful, yet a great way to get heat as a heel, which showed throughout the match. The fans booed the majority of his offensive moves, and when he encouraged them to join the ref in counting Finn out it seemed none of them were willing to oblige. The match was very solid, somewhat of modern day WWE meets puroresu, but in the beginning they were a bit sloppy. Kevin Owens also seemed to run out of steam fairly quick and he wasn't moving around with much urgency to say the least. Some really great spots though, lots of solid and stiff hits, and a picture perfect ending. It was a great pleasure to see Japanese legend "The Dragon" Tatsumi Fujinami come out and show his respects to Balor for becoming the new NXT champion.
****4/5 STARS

7. John Cena & Dolph Ziggler defeated Kane & King Barrett. Tag team match. 
Time limit: 23:50

This match was a complete sleeper for me, considering the fact I was watching it at 3:00pm and could barely keep my eyes open. I'm not up to date with the current WWE story lines, but as far as I know there is really no connection amongst the four men with perhaps the exception of Ziggler & Barrett. To me it felt as if the WWE just teamed up two top baby faces and two top heels. The match was quite boring, the time limit ran way too long, and I saw quite possibly the worst selling I've ever seen from Kane. The whole thing just seemed like a bad idea to me for a main event match in Japan, and I think the crowd there would agree with me, as they didn't seem very enthusiastic with it whatsoever.
*1/5 STARS

All in all it was a fairly decent show and I did find it interesting to watch the product being presented to the people of Japan. I feel if the card was booked a little more creatively it would of been a five star show all around.

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15 Homer Square

1993 was officially history, and we had now rolled into 1994. Shortly after we established Black Belt Jones and the Furious Five, we lost one of our key players. Our drummer Gregg aka G Money, had landed a gig drumming in Yet Another Posse, who like 3 n' Pass had now evolved into an actual band with instruments. Since we were still in our early stages and not quite an established band, I couldn't really blame Gregg for joining up with a group that already had their shit together. This was a major setback for us, but little did I know it would be a key part to our evolution as a band.

Quite a lot of changes had bed going on in my life as well. I had started working midnights for Shayne's mom at one of her Shell gas station franchises in Woodbridge. I had also officially moved out of my parents house at twenty years old. My other friend Shane aka Foxy Bano, had told us about his new neighbor he had met. This fellow was looking to rent his house out and Shane suggested that to us. Myself, Mike C, Shayne & Noel, ended up moving into 15 Homer square, and we were now Bano's next door neighbors.

It was very rewarding to be out on my own in the real world living the way I wanted to live and enjoying my life. I really have my parents to thank for raising me as such an independent person, as I feel if it wasn't for them I may have ended up one of those sorry cases still living in their parents basement at age 40. Our place quickly became the local flop house, as the majority of our friends still lived at home. It wasn't uncommon for 6-10 guys to be sitting around on our three couches at any given time.

Unfortunately some of our friends couldn't be trusted. We threw a big moving in party and it was a blast, but in the morning Noel discovered that our first and last months rent, which he was holding on to, had disappeared. We all had questions and we replayed the evening in our minds. Noel claimed he had the money in his pocket when he went to bed, and only two friends were still in attendance and awake, a guy named Rob and his girlfriend Sharon. To me it was a no brainer, one or both of them clearly took the money. Noel refused to agree with this theory as he felt they were his good friends. Shortly after this Rob mysteriously left to British Columbia, and it was obviously on our dime, in my opinion. 

We set up a big jar on our coffee table in the living room with a note on it explaining what had happened. It was a donation jar in hopes that our real friends would help us out in this situation. Lots of friends, including us guys who lived there, would throw our pocket change in it at any given chance. We ended up raising a couple of hundred dollars, but it wasn't even close to the $2000+ that was stolen.

Despite the negative setback we dealt with right after moving in, we made the best of our situation and had a blast living together. Mike C had set up his DJ equipment in the basement, so we were always spinning records and working on mix tapes. Mike and myself still had our radio gig at CHRY with Myers, so it was nice to be able to commute together to and from home. My good friend Jerry ended up scoring me a ball python and cage for free, so I now had a new pet snake. Noel had gotten a cat named Generic, and Tara and I got a new kitten named Dakota. We were all one big happy family.

Black Belt Jones was kind of on hold at the moment, but Pauly didn't want the project to die, so he started saving up to buy a drum machine to replace Gregg. Living in this house brought all of our circles of friends together. Greg Dawson would stop by quite a bit and hang out. He was currently still playing in a band called Sweet Grass, but he had mentioned wanting to start a rap metal project once again, just like our Psycho Puffs conversation when I had met him a few years prior. We were both really stoked on the idea, and we weren't going to let it just be an idea. Greg got together with Sweetgrass drummer Frank Barone, and they started making songs. We decided to use "Dead Homiez" as a band name. 

Our house didn't really have much space to jam, so Greg would have me over to his place to record vocals. We ended up doing four songs: Fuck 175, Todd B, HipHop 4 Da Herbz, & U Wanna Test? The tunes were very cool in my opinion, infusing rap, metal, jazz, and hardcore all into one. We never played shows or anything like that, as this was just more of a fun side project. 

All in all the house was great for my creativeness, everything around me, my friends included, were very inspiring to my artistic side. I was also making new friends through other friends who would come to visit. Our clique was growing in numbers rapidly, and I felt as though we were all inspiring each other. Before I knew it the winter had passed and spring was in the air. As they say "time flies when you're having fun" but the fun was really just beginning...