Thursday, July 14, 2011

Songs from the Road

A happy July 14 to all my fellow sans-culottes. May you storm the Bastille of your chosen oppressor, real or imagined.

And a very happy birthday from Little Brother to Big Sister.

I recently returned from my first post-Interruptnal road trip.

It started with a little night music in Confederation Park. Robert Plant and his new band played a set that included many satisfying reworkings of some of my favourite Led Zeppelin songs, including Black Country Woman. And Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty trading sonic soliloquies under a setting sun.

The next morning I packed up (I no longer travel lightly), loaded up the New Idler, and took off on the two-lane blacktop for parts known and unknown. Ahead of me on the temporal horizon, almost two weeks of liberation from the tedium of Work and the prerequisites of Policy and Protocol.

The New Idler's CD player never stopped Whirring as I floated down the 401 on a River of Pride. That old white line was sure a friend of mine, and it was good time I was making.

After a sleepover at Big Sister's house on the outer rings of the gas giant that is the GTA, I GOTrained it downtown. Its been a long time since I lived in the megalopolis, so not surprisingly I took a wrong turn out the worst possible exit from the thoracic mass of transportation options that is Union Station. It was rush hour, of course, and on this particular late June day it made Penn Station look like a rural route that requires you to lay across the tracks to force the train to stop and pick you up.

When I emerged into the sunlight, I seemed to be trapped in a canyon of industrial wasteland tucked somewhere within a diabolical pentagram triangulated by the CN Tower, the Gardiner Expressway, and the concrete monstrosity formerly known as Skydome. Despite this post-apocalyptic environment, there was a senseless number of commuters going to and fro, walking at me, not with or around me.

Finally I found a dozing cabbie who appeared to be convalescing from the mind melting heat, and we were off for the Annex, where I spent two wonderful days with my dear old friend Curry and his charming family. On another one of the hottest days of the summer so far, I made a puzzling decision to walk east on Bloor from Bathurst to Yonge, only to then turn south down Yonge to Dundas, then all the way west back to Spadina. When I returned to the Annex, blood was seeping through one of my socked feet a la Curt Schilling in the 2004 World Series. I didn't feel like a "gladiator", as Mr. Schilling was preposterously anointed, but it was grotesquely visible enough for the twins to inquire about over dinner that night.

On my way back to the downtown train, my affable cabbie and I almost drownded, as the Young Artist would say, in a wave of baseball fans (really? in Toronto?) rolling down the road, sweeping everything along in its wake. Must have had something to do with Roy Halladay starting for the Phillies. Hard to imagine that I was once a subscriber to Baseball America and knew the names of most middle and long relief pitchers in the league. That ended almost 20 years ago -- and that had something to do with 1994, I'm almost sure.

Once I picked up the New Idler back east of town, I got back on the two(six?)-lane blacktop and Highway Star-ed it west into the heart of Huronia. I hadn't visited Cousine in his backyard since the summer of 2001. It was surreal to have conversations with his near-teenage boy and girl. Cousine and I had our obligatory evening of obliteration - Darts, innit? - and it seemed to me that I had once again sailed across oceans of Mill Street and Sleeman. However, perspectives and horizons, not to mention youthful stamina, have inevitably diminished. We were both a Victim of Changes as we re-enacted the Days that Used to Be. And Yet, we talked and drank until the daylight began to break, the temporal and physical distance between us dissolving into the rosy-fingered dawn.

I spent four nights with Cousine and his family, and one more overnight visit with Big Sister, a Circean bacchanalia that sent me off in fine style the next morning. Then it was time to move on to the closing books of the epic road trip -- the voyage home.

Once again the New Idler's CD player was put to good use as I Noodlanded my way towards the End of Music and O-town.

Once I got home, and still had a few days of vacation remaining, I slept like a log. A Victim of Changes, indeed.


  1. True tavellers have wounded feet. Nice!

  2. Ah, the old white line, young men's games and those vicious, vicious changes. An exquisite exposition of an excellent exodus here FE. Makes me want to leave just so I can come home again.

  3. We've been exiled to the futures of our pasts. I write this from fetid fungus fields where I wait for French bureaucracies to recognize Hawaiian bureaucracies. I think I may never escape! If I do, we should take a road-trip to Seattle for some Matt Lauer sightings and some poutine with country gravy!