Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ever Feel Like ...?

Ever feel like you need a bath because you've been up to your neck in shit all day at the office?

For me that day was yesterday. Have a look above. It took only 806 rolls of toilet paper to remove the stench and filth of office politics from my well-being. If the corporate workplace is one big toilet, what I would give for a bazooka full of Scrubin' Bubbles.

It all started because of a big management shake-up. As a result, I was promoted to a newly-created position - "The Go-To Guy" for all inter-office paper products. No raise in pay, just in my self-esteem. It was more of a 'lateral' promotion, if you know what I mean. Still, it beats what I was doing last week - restocking creamer and condiment supplies in the coffee-break room and making sure the damned cappachino-maker was making with the well-proportioned fluffs of foam on demand.

But I wasn't the only one to move up the corporate ladder. That bastard Kensington from the warehouse in now in charge of Office Supplies. And sure enough, it didn't take long for it to go to his head. This morning, my *first* day on the job no less, and I get a memo from him sayng that "as the manager in charge of distribution of all office workplace materials, I am hereby requesting that you cease and desist in your current handling of Post-It notes and all similar wares which are under the adequate supervision of the Office Supplies Department."

There's only one way to stop a pissing match. Nip it in the bud. So first thing I did was go out to the parking lot and slash the front left tire on the fucker's Honda. Then I barged in and made a formal complaint with ol' man Jenkins, the founding father of this place.

Next, I got out one of those accordion-style Post-It note pads and wrote Kensington a memo of my own. "Stick to your staplers, paper-clips and changing the ink-cartridges in the printer," I told him. "But leave the REAL work - the handling of file-folders, envelopes, legal pads, printer-paper, paper-towels, bathroom personal-hygiene cleaning aids AND Post-It notes to a REAL man. Because I am the Inter-Office Paper Products distribution *masta*. Signed, the NEW Vice-President of ALL Paper Products. And if you don't believe me, go ask Mr. Jenkins."

Then I helped myself to 20 bulk-size boxes of toilet paper from the Paper Supplies storage room, went home, cracked open a beer, lit some candles, lay down in the bath and me and Freddy Mercury did back-to-back duets on 'We Are the Champions' for a solid hour. As I wiped the shit of the day from my weary bones.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm Damn Pretty Angry, and it's no good to shout

Nothing new in town worth blogging about. Until Barney Rubble has a challenger for Ward 3, I'm not even going to touch that dinosaur egg.

So here's the latest offering of 'Drysdale's Ditherings' from Beat magazine.

In his role as Master of Ceremonies for 'The London Songbook - Volume 2,' a concert at Museum London, January 20th, James Reaney Jr. has offered to use his influence to see that "London's coolest song" hopefully makes it onto that evening's set-list as chosen by representatives of the London-Middlesex Historical Society.

Through his blog on the London Free Press web-site, young James is requesting suggestions on the coolest tune to ever come out of the Forest City - or song related to anyone who has ever come out of this town. Any Guy at all.

There are the obvious choices. 'Africa' by Thundermug was a bona-fide chart-topper across North America in 1972. There are international successes - any 'alternative' local band played on CHRW in the past thirty years has at least one demo that was "big in Holland." There are London-area specific songs like 'I Spotted Elvis at the Western Fair,' by Jim Chapman; U.I.C's 'Crop Dustin' about the gravel runs around Exeter. Or the radio jingle for Tiger Jacks Sports Bar. And tunes which have their origins here but speak to a larger universe in scope and theme - like 'Horizontal Hold' by 63 Monroe or Condo Christ's 'Weekend Alcoholic.'

There's no shortage of songs to choose from - but I'd like to put in a plug for 'Shoot'em Up, Baby' by Canadian bubblegum icon Andy Kim. It's a little-known fact that Kim spent a month here one night while touring in the early 1970s and penned his anti-drug anthem in response to London's reputation at the time as 'Speed City.'

Unfortunately, in some social circles, if you and your parents weren't born here, your existence won't even be acknowledged until you've served at least a decade - which pretty well disqualifies Andy Kim from consideration.

With that in mind, I can only hope the selection committee makes the only other logical choice - 'New York City,' by the Demics, London's first punk band. It's a no-brainer.

At the tail end of the 1970s, London was the sleepy little village that it still is today. The radio airwaves were all classic rock - before there even was Classic Rock. After school or on Saturdays you went downtown. Flip through the records at Sams and Records on Wheels, check out the new threads at Le Chateau. Shoot some pool upstairs at Arcade Billiards. Maybe get a malt and a cheese-burger at the counter of Woolworths.

Such was the London in which the Demics came of age. Two of the blokes in the band had their origins in England. The others were Londoners from birth. And by their early twenties, they were all pretty well tired of a life where the only thing to do was catch the bus downtown and hang out.

As lead-singer/songwriter Keith Whittaker so aptly put it in 'New York City,' - "I'm damned pretty bored/And I wanna get out/I'm damn pretty angry, man/And it's no good to shout/I'm getting fuckin' pissed off, ya know/I'm tired of goin' downtown/The same trip everyday,man/It's kind of bringing me down."

That's why he concludes, "So I wanna go to New York City/I know that it's the place to be/Ya, I wanna go to New York City/I know that it's the place for me." Ohhh yaaaa.

Remember that feeling? You're in your late teens and any thoughts about your future can be summed up in one word - ESCAPE.

Of course, the same sentiment has been applied to any kid in Anytown, Anywhere. Any teen growing up in the Free World this past century can relate to that.

But as anyone who spent their adolescence in London, Ont., the Demics' 'New York City' speaks directly to *you.* It's not the most original sentiment every expressed in lyrical form but it's sung with such passion and conviction that London kids embrace it and claim it as our own.

The thing is though, by song's end, the narrator hasn't moved to New York. He's just talking about it. Sound familiar? Reportedly, years later, Keith Whittaker would point this out to people who told them how much the song meant to them.

Whittaker grew up in the industrial town of Manchester, England. If he had stayed there, he would have written about escaping to that other London. Apparently, after writing the song, he's been to New York but wasn't knocked out by it. Instead, he did what many young artists do - he and the band moved to Toronto where they broke up a couple of years later and where Whittaker died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 43.

If the Historical Society is hesitant about using 'New York City' because of a few cuss words, it should be noted that a follow-up album 'The Demics,' to the 1978 EP 'Talks Cheap, has a re-recorded sanitized version of the song - which accounts for its nationwide airplay when released in 1980. The second version was recorded in Toronto by a well-known metal producer at the time. But the original was done by a couple of Music Industry Arts students from Fanshawe - and the homegrown original is easily the superior version.

The year Whittaker died, 'New York City' was named Best Canadian Song in a poll of music critics for the trade magazine 'Chart.' A readers' poll for the Globe and Mail in 2002 placed it at number four.

It's long overdue for the Demics' hometown to bestow on them similar recognition. But I don't really expect it - because the *best* song about London, is all about getting the hell outta here.

------ POSTSCRIPT ------ according to this year's selection committee for the Historical Society, 'New York City,' will indeed be on the playlist of songs to be performed next Wednesday night at Museum London. And had been on the list right from Day 1.

Well good for them.

Still, this is the *second* time the Historical Society has staged such an event. The fact that 'New York City' is making it onto the set-list for Volume TWO of the London Songbook, pretty well says everything you need to know.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Jim Chapman/Bud Polhill Conundrum

Ola. Long time since posts but just got back from the Island of Misfit Toys. Once again, no wants wants to play with a Sonny-in-the-Box. Would you? Well, I tried. I do my bit at Christmas and that's what counts.

Just the same, I'm relieved that whole 'festive' season is over. So many expectations go along with it that it's always kind of a let-down. That's always been the case for me anyway. I think it goes back to when Santa didn't bring me the pony I asked for. After a whole year of being good. Or maybe it's because my parents didn't get me the Mustang I asked for the year I got my drivers licence. After I spent the whole year being bad.

But it was a good Christmas. Santa brought a lot more than the orange and sugar-candy I always felt grateful as a child. If the crops did well that harvest we sometimes even got a homemade pair of seer-sucker socks.

This year's loot included everything I ever wanted - the joy of my chick and children around me; being presented with a photo album of 'Sonny Drysdale: The Early Years' and the fact that Mavis didn't hit me with her purse when I mentioned in front of her minister on Christmas Day that she could give me my 'real' present later that night. Just the same, still no pony or vintage Mustang convertible (preferably a red one.)

It wasn't till the slow news days of between Christmas and New Years thought that I received the BEST Christmas present which a cynical and sarcastic Londoner could possibly hope for.

One day last week I treated myself to picking up a copy of the London Free Press - and there it was on the front page in big headlines - the news that Board of Controller Bud Polhill was considering running for Mayor in next fall's municipal election.

Bud likes to pull this little joke on the local press every civic elecion. And then, of course he never does run for Mayor. What a card! Bud ain't the brightest bulb on city council but he ain't no dummy either.

Well, maybe a ventriloquist dummy because he and local right-wing radio talk-show guy Jim Chapman seem to say the same things whenever they are together. Bud is one of the few politicians Jim will talk to on-air. That's why one of them is able to talk at the same time the other is drinking a glass of water - and no one can tell the difference.

So I got a good chuckle out of the newspaper that morning. But that wasn't anything compared to the big belly laugh I had this past Monday morning. Steve Garrison and Andy (the Moral Centre of London) Ooudman were talking on the 'Steve in the Morning Show' on CJBK-AM about the upcoming Mayor's race and was it possible for anyone to defeat long-time incumbent Mayor Anne Marie.

Bud's name never even came up but Steve mentioned that there was talk about Jim Chapman running. And Andy piped up with, "Yeah, but I notice most of the talk is coming from Jim."

Well, I tell ya, I did a spit-take right there. Lucky Charms and milk all over the kitchen. I even had milk coming out my nose. A rainbow of coloured-milk, no less.

Good one, Andy!

That morning I heard Jim on his own show on a different station. It's the only morning local talk-radio show I know of where they won't take open-line calls. Instead, listeners are treated to a lecture by The Perfessor.

Anyway, Jim was talking about the Mayor's race and trying his humble best to shrug off any suggestions that he was considering a run. But - Jim being Jim - he was also playing it coy - "No, I have no interest in running," he insisted - before adding, "Of course, in politics, never say 'never'," - which he said over and over again.

The thing is, on his show two days later, Wednesday morning, Jim got quite 'emotional' when pontificating on how city-council should give the Police Chief all the money he's asking for in his new budget.

Jim got quite worked up and upset about how the 'lefties' (that means YOU, David Winninger - and bless your heart,) on council thought the Chief should be held to the same budget restraints as every other municipally-funded organization.

It may have been the lozenge Jim was loudly sucking on the entire time he was talking, but I had the distinct impression the guy was so riled up that he was on the verge of another heart attack.

And as long-time listeners to his show already know, Jim Chapman is a first-rate drama queen (his on-air take-no-prisoners-knock-down-punch-out-no-winners a few years ago with then city-councillor Ed Corrigan was some of the BEST radio ever,) so when Jim starts getting overly emotional on the air, something's up.

And then it hit me! Smacked me right upside ma haid - hokey smokes, he's gonna do it! JIM CHAPMAN IS GONNA RUN FOR MAYOR!

And so the drama begins.

So let me say this before Andy Ooudman (or any of those mean editors at the London Free Press who no longer carry Jim's opinion column,) point this out - Jim, you have run for office twice in the past. Once for City Council - and were defeated by Megan Walker (and yet you insisted on a recount,) and again recently when you were defeated by Liberal Khalil Ramil when you ran for provincial government with Ontario's Conservative party.

On the basis of those failed popularity contests, it seems pretty obvious - despite what your radio promos may say - Londoners have said in no uncertain terms that NO, they do NOT consider you to be 'The Voice of London.' They've said it twice. And may do so again soon via the radio industry's BBM ratings.

As for being the 'Talk of the Town,' as someone has already noted, that can usually be traced to one same source.

If you are any kind of 'real' friend to Bud Polhill, please put your collective heads together and give them a shake.

And that's no bushwah.

No, that's pure bullshit. Because there's nothing that would give me bigger laughs than you two running for the office of Mayor at the same time. Against an apparently unbeatable opponent.

C'mon - please don't let us suffer through another boring Mayoral election again. After all these years, you owe us. Put the $125,000 it takes to mount a good campaign where your mouth is.