The Zoo

There are a few words, like “pie”, that evoke the pure pleasure of being a kid. If it weren’t for the pictures we have seen of bears in 5 x 5 x 5 cages somewhere in the world, “zoo” would be one of them. The Metro Toronto Zoo does its part to give those three letters a good polish and shine, however, as we saw on our trip there yesterday…ummm…except for the apparent but unsigned fear of any medium of exchange other than cash, a short-lived irritation made worse by the concurrent efficiency lecture given by the booth teens.

Sitting in one of Toronto’s surprising urban ravine forests, this zoo gives you a feeling that for the most part it is not a menagerie but a biological refuge and place of study. While the obligatory lions are not actually endangered as it turns out and, really, have Canadian become so isolated from reality that you need a beaver in its own mimicry of Algonquin Park 4 km north of the 401 in Scarborough, when you hear that certain species, like an Asian bison, simply do not exist in the wild anywhere anymore, the job a good zoo can do makes sense. Walking through a room of Malaysian plants sustaining a colony of native butterflies indifferent to your presence is pretty neat. Standing in a circular crowd of a couple hundred quiet gawkers watching three oragutans lope over a set of ropes and bars bigger than a basketball court is neat, then not neat, then neat again: you know they are very endangered, the Indonesian rainforest is being destroyed and you can see they can choose to come and go from the open area where you watch them…but those hands and expressions. Some doors on the inside of the cage have locks and keys to keep them challenged. Other doors and locks, of course, have that other purpose.

So...why don't they write folk songs about the 401?The trip is a little over two hours one-way. The nearest 150 km of the 401 to Kingston go through some of the nicest rolling pastoral countryside in Ontario – in some valleys you could be approaching Burlington, Vt, from the east. The eastern 3/4’s of Northumberland County still lacks the burbs which now reach to Bowmanville, 100 km east of the zoo, which itself sits in the east of the City. But when it hits, it sure is like the ugly stick got there first. Hit the gas on the way out heading home and look forward to Cobourg where you can loosen the grip on the steering wheel.

I Love the Internet, Part 96

I was looking at a blog post about the new Super Friendz new CD when I wonderwed who was in the band, cause I used to live in Half-a-slacks in the 80’s, went to the Grafton Street Cafe, was 1/2 of Bob the Dog on CKDU and I found this picture on the band’s old site and I think – that guy looks like the John Wesley Chisholm guy from Blackpool once drummed by my soccer pal Roger as well as the Chipster (nice togs). So I goog a bit and find this chart created sometime before 1995 by Chris Murphy of Sloan (also ex-Blackpool) which sets out the entire family tree from, what, the mid-80’s to mid-90’s, which references Basic English who I knew as a NSCAD band of Monctonians when I was at Kings who used to live above Sams (later the Silver Bullet and the Double Diamond) where my brother Iain would see Sarah McLaughlin sing at parties. I had no idea there was a link between the semi-proto Slone band Kearney Lake Road (who I saw play outside at TUNS before or after Sook-Yin Lee and her band Bob’s Your Uncle in the summer of ’88) and 100 Flowers, one of which band my roomie dated in around ’89. Best name: Al Tuck and No Action.

Later: I did not mention the early 80’s start of the Hopping Penguinsstill going – which I think was key in letting then-high-school kids know that local music could be vital and fun live. I have also dug out my tape of the pre-Geffen Sloan on Cod Can’t Hear from ’92 and the 1993 CDOut of the Fog, Too – brother Iain got me both. It is interestnig to see on the tape liner notes that Sarah M is thanked right before Zippy Print. Ah, before they were stars…

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 10:04:57 -0400
From: "Andrew P. Rodenhiser" <>
Subject: A Band By Any Other Name

OK, for the benefit of the newbies, I'll post it to everyone.  This came 
out in the Coast last spring, the infamous Sloan edited issue.  Set your 
screens to >80 column and no word wrap!


ps. Note the list address, This is the olden days :)

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

Date sent:      Thu, 26 May 1994 10:03:17 -0300
From:           "James R. Covey" <>
Subject:        A Band By Any Other Name
To:             gen4114+SLOAN@HUSKY1.STMARYS.CA

chris murphy's "a band by any other name" halifax music scene family tree

               SURVIVORS  ATTACK                     STEPS AROUND
SUBURBAN              |    |  |                       THE HOUSE
REBELS              REALISTS  |                           |               TRASH
  |                   |       |    MEDIA              VULGARIANS  VACANT  KANZ
MED   FLIES      |                   |        |       OCTOBER      |   NOBODY'S
|     BLACKPOOL  |  BOYS   KLAMZ   WOLVES   |    |      |     |       |
|            |   |   |       |             AGRO  FLAGS FOR  RIDGE OF  TEDD
| REGISTERED |   KEARNEY    100                  EVERYTHING   TEARS
|   VOTE     |   LAKE RD   FLOWERS                 |     |    |   |  EUTHENICS
|   |        |   |  | |       |    SUSPECT DEVICE  |  BUBAISKULL  |  |
|   |  BLACKPOOL II | |       |    |            |  |          | MISERY  SYSTEM
|   |          |  | | 100 FLOWERS II  SEBAS-    COOL          | GOATS  OVERLOAD
|   LONE STARS |  | |                 TOPOL     BLUE  THRUSH  |           |
|            | |  | | CONVULSIONS       |       HALO  HERMIT  |         FALSE
| BLUEGRASS  BLACK| |      |       ALL GOOD        |  |       |        SECURITY
|    |       III  | | |                 |             |       | HIP      MORAL
AL TUCK &         SLOAN<-----------NO DAMN FEARS      ESSEN   | CLUB    SUPPORT
NO ACTION  RHINO                      |                       | GROOVE    |
     |     PLASTY  HOUSE OF USHER     T A G                   |   |     QUAHOGS
     |     |             |            |   |                  ONE INCH
                    |   |           |          |

I had to leave out one band -- Jellyfishbabies -- in order to fit all
the rest on the computer screen.  Chris has them located right next door
to "Registered Vote" but not connected to anyone else.  His note reads:

"Chris Murphy's my name and I'm taking credit or blame for this Halifax
 music scene family tree.  The tree itself was actually more twisted than
 this so I ended up eliminating some lines as it was getting too messy and
 hard to follow.  I didn't put every band I could think of either because I
 couldn't connect them to anyone else or I didn't like the band.  But the
 lines I did draw I think are true.  I was relying on others near the top
 in the 'before my time' section.  Sue me if I'm wrong."

He also writes a list of "Honourable Mentions":  Null Set, Redd Leader, 
The Nerve, Next X, The Quirk, Cooter Family, Roland Blinn, Basic English, 
Phycus, Aimless, Donner Party Reunion, Merge, Tetris

That's 68 bands on Chris Murphy's chart and I can 
claim to have seen 17 of them live (=25%).  There 
must be some longtime scenesters on this list who 
have seen many more than that.  Anyone?


     _                                  _     James R. Covey <>
 ___| | ___   __ _ _ __      _ __   ___| |_    the "halifax scene" mailing list
/ __| |/ _ \ / _` | '_ \    | '_ \ / __| __|   to join or leave, send a note to
\__ \ | |_| | |_| | | | |   | | | |  __| |_    our list manager:  Scott Schuman
|___/_|\___/ \__,_|_| |_|   |_| |_|\___|\__|     <>
"People say you have to travel in order to see the world.  
Well I think if you stay in one place long enough, 
you'll see all that you can handle" -- Harvey Keitel, in _Smoke_
Andrew P. Rodenhiser, Ph.D. Candidate RODENHISER@CHEM1.CHEM.DAL.CA
Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S., Canada   or APRODEN@AC.DAL.CA

Thanks to Katrina Grentz for sending this to me.

Man Walks Into a Pub, by Pete Brown

manwalksI bought another beer book. I picked up a copy of “Man Walks into a Pub” by Pete Brown on Thursday after noon and it was done by Sunday. Not bad for guy with kiddies. The Guardian said:

So, as well as the irreverent approach Brown takes to beer’s history, he has a refreshingly sensible take on its present.

Sensible is an interesting word. Most beer books are written by nerdy homebrewers or self-appointed gurus like Michael Jackson. Both have a technical interest or at least the desire to impart a reverence for the subject. …I hope the bag of chips are for him…Brown is an advertising executive who has handled both the Heineken and Stella Artois accounts and a someime talking head for TV in the UK on things beery. It shows. He treats fans of real ale as hobbiest and treats them with slightly less contempt than temperence unionists and government regulators. But most of the time not without reason.

That being said, the book is easily accessible, funny and, but for a few factual errors you would only know after having a collection of books and subscriptions to a couple of magazine about beer, a pretty good history of the subject from a 2003 English, rather than even British, perspective. Unlike any other book I have read, Brown focuses on why and how people in England actually drink beer, how they are affected by advertising and changes in pub ownership, and how lager has come to dominate the market while being vapid bubble water – even if from something of a natural apologist’s point of view.

Find a pint of Hook Norton Haymaker or Old Hooky and have a giggle at the expense of lager drinkers.

Asleep on the Beach


I've grown in so many ways in the last 17 years

As my life as PEI resident comes to a close – the water test was clear – I thought I would pull an old chestnut out of the photo album from one of my first “” experiences in the Province.

Taken in 1986, it shows your gentle correspondent in repose on the beach at dawn after about 14 hours of wild-eyed pintin’ at the shore at a cottage in the Darnley area. You will see in the foreground both an empty Keiths and a film case laying next to my sandy head. Through the night I took about 5 rolls worth of pictures of the 30 or so of us which, care of the tripod, came through the event far clearer than I did.

This photo was taken by my buddy Jonny with the last frame of the last roll before he himself keeled over one night, one summer seventeen years ago.

Pay off Google?

From this morning’s Kingston Whig-Standard in a story about efforts to counteract the decline in local tourism from America and elsewhere:

…popular Internet search engine Google was paid to rank the Web site high in Google searches so that people who are looking for information on Kingston or tourism in Canada are sent to the campaign site first.

Surely Google would be useless if rankings were to be affected by payment.

Dead Ducks

Duck soup, duck pie, duck jelly, duck wine....

One of the neat things about this picture from the 1930’s of my grandfather-in-law Stuart Penny and his brother Rae at the end of a day’s hunting at Honey Harbour, Ontario is that I have two of the decoys they used, one with buckshot in its butt.

Tag – You’re It!

…and I am going to quit playing for a while. 11 days off. Drove for 4 of them. 3300 km or so. Other 7 full of cleaning out the house which appears to have sold pending closing. Some thoughts from between Kingston and PEI, the length of the St.Lawrence:

  • The two best looking parts of Canada on the drive are both in Quebec: the Kamouraska areas between Riviere-du-Loup and Pocatiere on Highway 20 (huge granite mounds in the river and on the land, between which the river and the road flow respectively); and the waterfront road at the foot of the cliffs at Levis across from Quebec City (active working river, old rail bed used by hundreds as we watched for biking and roller blading, Chateau Frontenac in front of almost as many layers of mountains in the dusk as Montpellier, Vermont);

  • Old car tapes are a minefield of emotions. Bought before my CD buying days began around 1993, I was brought back to a rawer time. Garnett Rogers is pretty damn good. Damn song about a damn pigeon makes me cry every time I hear it;

  • Worst service in the world: The Kentucky Fried on the west 401 at Cornwall. Stood with wife and children at a till for five minutes as teen staff walked two feet past us setting up a fan for themselves to be told when we said we were leaving becuse the service was so bad, that the sign at the other end of the counter said “cash”. As there were five tills each with other families waiting, the meaning of this message eluded us. Please shun this establishment on your travels;

  • Cars are amazing. For about 75 to 80 bucks (Canadian) you can go 1500 kilometres either in one day (my trip to PEI) or over three (the return);

  • Best diners: the Irving Big Stop at Salisbury NB on the Trans-Canada (good diner food including a very respectable Ruben and 2 buck, 12 oz., large tomato juice), the Normandin at Levis (a favorite for over a decade – draft beer is a moslons ex and the waiting staff help you do the whole thing in our respectly poor english and french) – maple beans (aka “the bomb” in a couple of respects) with your breakfast; and

  • Best hotel in the Maritimes – the Sheraton at Fredericton. Great waterfront location in what looks like a park. Staff are capable and relaxed. Room service is fast and the wine celler is respectable. In 1999, they had no rooms left in the class we had ordered and we got the Royal Suite. Literally the rooms the Queen gets when in NB. We could have played basketball in the livingroom. The dinner table sat 12. We paid the same as the basic room we booked. Somnewhere we have a photo of our daughter, then 11 months having a pee on the floor. Although in the the same room, she was too far to run to in time but the camera was not. You have to think way ahead if you want to embarrass the hell out of someone at their wedding reception.

  • NPR – 90.1 Calais Maine; 106.1 Presque Isle, Maine, 106.5 Fort Kent Maine, 104.7(?) Vermont Public Radio St. Albans, 89.5 North Country Public Radio, Northern New York State.

Well, that is it for now. Thanks for stopping by during a slow posting week and a half.