Category Archives: Entertainment

Duffy, Wallin and Harper II

The saga continues of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, fighting for their jobs in the Canadian Senate.  We covered this earlier on the blog and now new revelations have come to pass in the Senate.

Duffy stood in his place in the Chamber and said not only did the PMO’s Chief of Staff bucks up to the tune of $90K for Duffy’s expense issues, but the Conservative Party itself, the chief legal beagle, coughed up more than $13K for Duffy’s legal fees fighting the expense issues. 

Yesterday and today, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Tom Mulcair, has been very surgically cutting our Prime Minister, Stephen “Call Me the Right Honourable Stephen Harper” Harper a new one about every time Mulcair rises in the House to ask a question or two of the PM.  It’s coming down to who knew what and when and then decided to bullshit us about it.  We are condensing the argument a bit.

Herewith however is a prediction on the endgame: 

Harper can’t afford to lose this one as he will come off as not only less than accurate with the truth but willing to throw anyone under the bus that comes near besmirching his reputation.  That means the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has the wagons in a circle and the pitchforks are out. Nigel Wright has already found out exactly what price you pay and it is steep:  Your career goes up in flames in the course of an afternoon along with the money, the pension and the kind of mind-altering demi-god power that comes from being in the PMO at a very high level.  Nobody from the party will answer your calls, sent immediately to voicemail as soon as your name shows up on call display.  Might as well move to Hamilton and open a nail salon for double amputees.

The PMO knows that the general public consensus is that the Senate is a bloated anachronistic money pit.  The Conservatives have run a few federal campaigns now saying they want to reform the Senate and make it over as a Triple E Senate, meaning Equal, Elected and Effective, but have never grown the set required to do it as the PMO has no other way to reward party hacks, flacks, bagmen and teat massagers at a certain level of contribution, except Senate seats.  A appointment for two terms to the Oil Seeds and Grains Commission isn’t going to cut it as a thanks for raising untold millions of dollars for the Party.  Ergo, the Senate has to stay for at least another two years in its current format of Triple E, inEqual, unElected, undEr the PMO’s control.

A formal RCMP or Senate (or both)- led investigation of the whole sordid mess would open doors the PMO would rather not have opened.  Both imply legal standing and the ability to subpoena witnesses to testify under oath, as well as the potential for actual legal charges.  The PMO knows that a legal investigation can’t and won’t be side tracked.  Nixon learned that the hard way with Watergate and even firing Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre only delayed the inevitable.

Opting to punt to a Royal Commission or a Standing Committee is an option.  By the time the results are tabled from either a Royal or Standing, Harper will have moved back to Calgary, finished up his career as an economist, then retired to Florida with his lime green Sansabelt slacks up to here, complaining about the government full-time.  Except the Opposition knows this game and not going to let it get traction by hammering Harper daily in Question Period.  QP is a blood sport up here, played for keeps under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5).

The last two endgames are the most grisly.  One, Duffy’s big clanking pair of brass attachments pushes Harper over the edge, with Wallin and Brazeau offering their own versions of the push off the ledge.  Harper could say “Eff this” and pull the yellow handle, taking his Rt. Hon to retirement.  Unfortunately the Conservative Party has no one on the bench to take over from Harper.  Anyone with even the slightest potential to be liked more than Harper is not sitting in the House.  Anyone who has a profile anywhere near Harper’s has already been ball-gaged and nobody from the private sector wants that kind of treatment from the party punks. 

The other endgame is also unpleasant.  We call it the “Bring It Bitches” scenario whereby Harper lets the RCMP loose and we find out exactly how venal the whole process of Parliament has become.  It might take two or three years, but we find out that the Conservative party very carefully vets any candidates before even the nomination meetings at the riding level to assess their malleability.  How funding at the party level makes sure that only those anointed are nominated and woe betide those that do not toe the line.  We’ll find out about the continuous cluster act that is our military procurement process and how far the Party is in bed with the military contractors who lavish money the right way.  We’ll also find out that the real agenda for the Party is to gut and privatize as much of the government as possible to their buddies as a reward.  We might also see that there is a real, tangible religious overtone to the behaviour of the PMO that harkens back to the truly odious days of the Reform Party.  (The Reform Party would have changed Canadian same-sex marriage laws to allow the use of copper-jacket or explosive-tipped rounds in dealing with same-sex couples, trade unions and aboriginal affairs.  We only partially jest.)

Now, which one will come to fruition?  We don’t know, but we’re in for a ride.  This isn’t going away.  Duffy and Wallin are owed too many favours by their old media buddies who still work the Hill.

And the headlines are too much fun to write.


As a Canadian living in the snowy part of the country, we have snow:  Lots of snow.  Unlike the urban folklore, we do not have 200 words to describe snow.  Nor do the Inuit, (whom some of you refer to as “Eskimos”) in their extensive oral tradition.  We limit ourselves to only a few terms and a bit over a thousand words to explain it all. 

Fluffy Snow: This is the kind that gives downhill ski folk a case of the hot n’ bothereds. Cross-country skiers like it too. Shovelling it is like trying to push a pallet-load of loose cotton balls with a tractor: It goes everywhere and always falls back into the place you’re trying to push it out of, like the driveway.

Wet Snow: Heavy, wet and sticky, a simple shovel-full weighs 80 pounds and if you don’t move it now, it will solidify into a mass that will not be moved until April. We also know it as Heart-Attack Snow, which our hospitals and ER’s dread. Every day a few dozen are rolled in, clutching their chests, hooked up to an AED by the paramedics.  This is because sedentary men try to shovel it out and their primary occupation is listed as “Analyst” or “Bureaucratic Drone”, not “Stoker”,  “Navvy” or “Farm Hand”. 

Snowman Snow:  Kids love it as it is moist and sticky and rolls up perfect, dense globes of snow perfect for the application of a carrot nose, small rocks for eyes and no hat.  Usually happens early in the season when the air is warmer.  It is also the ideal snow for snowballs, which have been banned by Health and Safety for fear someone could have their feelings hurt or their self-esteem bruised.  Snowman Snow always results in a pile of wringing-wet woollen mittens, scarves and toques over the hot air vent in the kitchen.  

Squeaky Snow:  After a few days that fluffy powder coalesces into a solid that squeaks like Styrofoam underfoot.  It also means the outside temperature is –10 C or lower.  The only way to move it is with heavy equipment, air compressor powered chisels, or shaped charges.

Slop/Slush:  In my corner of Ontario, we salt our roads and streets, which turns the snow and ice into slop about the consistency of loose oatmeal or cornbread batter that can’t freeze because the salinity is twice that of the Dead Sea.  Eventually slush will freeze, but not until –40 C or so.  At that temperature it freezes into sharp ridges and boot prints.  If you slip and fall down on the sidewalk, the likelihood of puncturing a lung is high.  Jumping onto a pile of bricks headfirst hurts less.

Snow bank Snow:  In order to exist, we have to put the snow somewhere out of the parking spaces, driveways, roads and sidewalks, so we can move about in our daily activities.  Snow banks are a compressed amalgamation of snow, slush, salt, road grime and the occasional mitten or hat, comingled with the usual crud that lives on the sidewalk.  Think basalt, or exotic kitchen counter stone that has a little bit of everything in it including fossils, unaddressed third-class mail, lightly chopped advertising flyer mulch and that door to door guy who tried to sell you a hot water heater in December. 

Drift Snow:  You can slice this stuff into blocks and build a house with it.  If you drive into this stuff on the highway, expect the air bags to go off.  It is also the best snow anywhere for making snow forts with and for children.  Grownups use it to fill the ice bucket to chill down the champagne, stepping out the back door for a few seconds to grab a pail full from the deck.  In a glass with a little grenadine or crème de menthe poured over it, you have a grownup sno-cone, assuming the snow is clean.  You could use that ancient bottle of Galliano (left over from your notorious Harvey Wallbanger party in June 1983) hiding in the back of the kitchen cupboard to make your own ‘Yellow Snow”    

Yellow Snow:  Just like the little bag of silica crystals in the packaging for the blender says, “Do Not Eat”  Especially if it is found in the middle of the park.

Freezing Rain:  Glaze the neighbourhood in a centimeter-thick layer of ice, everywhere, then drop the temperature to –40 C.  In Ottawa this is called “February” and is usually followed by a blizzard of fluffy snow that sits on the ice as a disguise.  Imagine walking on ball-bearings on a Teflon pan that has been oiled with 5W-50.  You will fall down and with any luck, not face plant into a tree or a brick building.  Invariably two days later, the temperature goes above freezing and all the sheets of ice fall off the buildings downtown, usually decapitating some poor unfortunate who gets whisked up by a sidewalk plow.  We find them around the last week of March.

Corn Snow:  Often produced by snow guns on ski hills, it is the skin equivalent of 20-grit sandpaper when you slide on it.  Who needs dermabrasion treatments to look younger?  Go tobogganing on corn snow for an afternoon.

Effing Snow:  What we get in the first two weeks of March.  Every day for two weeks, just enough to call out the plows and salt trucks to tangle the streets into a morass of front-end loaders, slush and swearing because we’ve had enough of winter.  It is also the time of year when you see able-bodied people standing on eight-foot high snow banks trying to find somewhere within shovel-range to throw snow from the driveway.

Gottdamn Plow Snow:  After you have spent two hours shovelling out the drift from the driveway, unearthed the car and found the approximate location of the front walkway, the City plow or grader comes by.  It is piloted by a grinning sadist wearing an aloha shirt over flannels, ski-doo boots and quilted snow pants, with a battered Leafs toque and a pair of silvered sunglasses that cost more than your car payment.  He proceeds to fill the end of your driveway waist-deep with everything that has landed in the 613 area code for you to dig out by hand, including an ice floe that is cousin to the one that did in the Titanic.

There, a thousand words on snow. 

Twinkies Out

With the impending demise of Life As We Know It, at least according to the Mayan calendar, the Hostess Company is determined to push everyone completely over the edge before the New Apocalypse.  Hostess Brands, Inc. is shutting down operations across the US, which also means the minions that make Twinkies will be out of a job. 

Twinkies, that high-sugar sponge-cake related product with a “creamy” filling is going to go away, at least under Hostess’ watch.  Ostensibly shuttering their doors because of a labour dispute, but more because of corporate debt, managerial turmoil and unions unwilling to give up half their salaries and all their benefits (funny that), Hostess Brands has decided to say to hell with another Chapter 11 bankruptcy/re-org and simply pull the handle, flushing itself into the corporate oblivion of selling itself off to the highest bidder.

One of the marquee brands is of course, Twinkies.  For those readers from off North America, or possibly from Mars, who don’t know the Twinkie, herewith a description:

A finger length white sponge snack cake unit injected with a white creamy filling.  Originally invented in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930 by J.A. Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company, it was originally injected with banana cream.  WW2 saw bananas rationed beyond reality, so the company switched it up to vanilla cream and there it sat, at least until today. 

Eyeballing the 37 ingredients in a Twinkie, you can pronounce many of them and see for yourself that consumption of one results in 13% of your daily intake of saturated fats, as well as 42% of the volume being sugars, 21% complex carbs and 11% fat by weight.  There are urban rumours that Twinkies don’t have a Sell-By date, it’s more of a Half-Life and that after a nuclear war, the only things left would be cockroaches and Twinkies.  The few times we have personally consumed these little golden torpedoes of sugar, we were left with a feeling that someone had forcibly shellacked our mouth with tallow, no doubt from the creamy filling, of which one of the ingredients is beef fat. 

We will not disparage the Twinkie, as we do recognize that the occasional sweet treat is perfectly fine.  We have been to a Hostess Factory store in Irving, Texas and seen sentient humans carrying out multiple 64-count flats of Twinkies to their cars, crammed with squalling young in the grips of the sugar-withdrawal-shakes.  We don’t judge and one could suppose that Mom and Dad were simply unable to afford the Ativan and Haloperidol prescriptions, choosing to self-medicate their flock with something less expensive but with the same disturbing side effects. No, we’re not going to judge.

Twinkies are very much a cultural touchstone and there are many suitors waiting in the Bankruptcy Court wings, waiting to buy the brand.  Twinkies will not die.  They’ll just change, soon to be manufactured in Guatemala in a government-run program to give jobs to indentured orphan children under five years of age and long-sentence federal prisoners a chance to work for enough food to keep from starving.  Or some company in China will buy the trademark and off-shore the manufacturing to that cutting-edge hotbed of high-quality food manufacturing, North Korea.

Think of your current stash as Old Twinkies.  The next batch will be New Twinkies.

Phyllis Diller Gone

Not necessarily the best comic, or the funniest, or even the most iconic comic, Phyllis Diller passed away at 95 years of age this morning.  Diller, she of electrified hair and shall we be kind, less than graceful curves, survived decades as the preeminent Rat Pack-era comic.  Self-depreciating, always skewering her fictional husband “Fang” and finding unique ways to let off her explosive laugh that could startle Mount Rushmore, Diller graced more roasts, stags, Vegas rooms, arenas, and local dives than there are whole numbers. 

When she started, there were no “Comedy Clubs” and very few stand-up comics were female.  Vegas was one of the few venues where a comic could hone their chops and she headlined for decades at all the classic places.  Of course she worked blue but didn’t work blue because she didn’t have talent, she worked blue from time to time because it was funny.  Her delivery was Old School, joke, punch line, joke, punch line.  There was never the pretension of art or trying to change the world with her ‘comedy stylings’  or unique observations.

Perhaps the quote from the AP story sums it up: 

“Don’t get me wrong, though,” she said in a 1982 interview that threatened to turn serious. “I’m a comic. I don’t deal with problems when I’m working.”

“I want people to laugh.”

She succeeded.



Little People–Big Mines

With the Chilean Miners thankfully being rescued, we know that production companies are lining up for a suck on the top-of-mind teat.  Anticipating the rush, here’s our take, specifically for TLC:

Little People – Big Mines:  A new reality show following the adventures of a polygamous family of Mormon Little People who own a run-down silver mine in Utah.  In the second episode, the mine collapses, trapping Dad, two of his wives and four of his grown children underground along with a four-person video crew from the production company.  The series covers the intricate stories of the cave-in, faith, death, claustrophobia and Little People as the community rallies to rescue the family and crew.

Hey, it could happen.  And you read it here first.

Ed and Johnny Together Again

Ed McMahon passed away overnight, at the age of 86, surrendering his role as the prototype first of and at the same time, the last of, the television sidekick.

For most of his career he was paired, inseparably, with Johnny Carson, the IronMan of late night talk shows.  As an aside, Pat Weaver (that would be Sigourney Weaver’s dad) was the guy who back in the mists of time figured that America needed some kind of late-night gabfest with a host and a sidekick and a band on TV to while away the after-11 pm hours.

McMahon’s job was to have a hearty laugh and do the live commercials from time to time.  Of course, McMahon did more than that, but the job description is only a paragraph or two, if you stretch it out.  Ed McMahon was very much the master of playing straight, or feeding a line, or simply being Ed to the Tonight Show machine.

There was of course, much more.  He was a fighter pilot with the Marines in WWII, then flew as a Tactical Air Controller and artillery spotter in Korea, retiring with the rank of Colonel.  You would have never know it to look at his public persona.  He was Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.

Which brings us to his passing, assuming they have television in the Afterlife, there will be one heck of a Tonight show, tonight.  Johnny and Ed.  The original Tonight Show band leader, Skitch Henderson is sitting in and Freddie de Cordova, the long-time director is up in the booth. 

As for the guests?  A lot of it would depend on who the bookers could get:  Judy Garland?  Groucho?  Ernie Kovacs? Jack Paar?  Frank, Dino and Sammy?  Senor Wences?  George Carlin?

Perhaps there will be a piece with Carnac the Magnificent telling Ed McMahon’s favourite joke:

Sis boom, bah. 

Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.

Good night Ed.

New Rules for 2008

I’m quoting at length here from George Carlin’s New Rules for 2008, which is, naturally, copyright by George Carlin and not my work.  It’s a good epitaph.

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it’s for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff ‘you’ want and having other people buy it for you isn’t gift giving, it’s the white people version of looting.

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for ! There’s a reason you don’t talk to people for 25 years. Because you don’t particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days — mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Don’t eat anything that’s served to you out a window unless you’re a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Lobster?

New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: ‘Lucky bastards.’

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here’s how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Good, we’re done.

New Rule: There’s no such thing as flavored water. There’s a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but, without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That’s your flavored water.

New Rule: Stop screwing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that’s square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, he’ll most likely be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the ass ordering it. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a ‘decaf grandee, half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low, and One NutraSweet,’…. ooooh, you’re a huge ass.

New Rule: I’m not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering My PIN! number , pressing ‘Enter,’ verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don’t want Cash back, and pressing ‘Enter’ again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: Competitive eating isn’t a sport. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What’s next, competitive farting? Oh wait, they’re already doing that. It’s called ‘The Howard Stern Show.’

New Rule: I don’t need a bigger mega M&Ms. If I’m extra hungry for M&Ms, I’ll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule: If you’re going to insist on making movies based on crappy old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what’s playing on the other screens. Let’s remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn’t good enough to be a movie.

New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don’t need to hear ’27 months.’ ‘He’s two’ will do just fine. He’s not a cheese. And I didn’t really care in the first place.

New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God’s sake don’t pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If you do, plan your future around saying, ‘Do you want fries with that?’

Please feel free to add your own!!!

Damn.  I wish I could write like that. If there are payments required to his estate, we’ll pass the hat later.  Thanks George.

Bars Part III

Next door to CJOH-TV in Ottawa was The Capri.  A short walk across a small parking lot and you were in the bar side of the joint.  There was a tablecloth restaurant too, but you rarely went in there, as the management of the station were usually at the tables, while us peons resided on the bar side.

The original decor Capri had hobnailed barn flooring and was the local watering hole for dozens of softball and baseball teams, who would come to the Capri after a game, still wearing spikes.  Painted a cheery black inside, the Capri, had a full bar selection and a menu of reasonable food.  However, being next to a television station, it also had a clientele of professional and gifted-amateur level drinkers.

The nature of television production is like the military:  Hurry up and wait, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  In the glory days of the Capri, if you wanted to find someone on a production crew and they weren’t in the building, you’d check the Capri.  Production meetings, briefings, lineups and pre-production were all held in the bar.  Cast parties, department meetings, wrap parties and probably half the union meetings were held there too.  On the restaurant side, we suspected that at least a third of management business was accomplished over the Greek Salad and garlic bread.

Then, over one summer, the Capri bar was renovated, painted a suede colour with new furniture and an oak bar.  It became upscale, or at least tried to become upscale, but the TV crews and ball teams wouldn’t let it happen.  We kept coming over and drinking our weight during lunch, then after work, or between newscasts.

There were two older gentlemen who had their seats at the bar.  Much like Norm and Cliff from "Cheers",  the two characters who rarely moved, except their elbows, seemed to be part of the decor.  When one of them passed away, a small brass plaque was affixed to the bar, noting it was ‘his’ seat.  (I’ve forgotten their names, but if you remember them, please let me know.)

When someone left the employ of CJOH, the Capri was the venue for the going-away bash.  I have some recollection of mine, specifically wearing a large envelope on my head, emblazoned with a papal crest, as I attempted to bless the gathered multitudes.  I think the reason I can’t remember much, was the line of shots that were on the table in front of me and kept being replenished by colleagues.  At least there was no dancing for me to regret, but the hangover the next day was big enough to walk around and wonder at, like Stonehenge.

Eventually, like many bars, the Capri tried to become something it wasn’t and died a slow lingering death as a sports bar.

The Functions Room:  Ottawa.  Algonquin College, my alma mater, sort of, taught two fabulous courses:  Bartending and Hospitality.  The Functions Room decor was classic 1975 Industrial Multifunction Room, including the indestructible fiberglass chairs, burnt orange drapery and linoleum on the floor that could survive nuclear attack.

The Hospitality students prepped, cooked and served a three or four course fine dining meal every Friday at lunch.  The menu was prix fixe at $5.  At the same time on Fridays, the Bartending students would produce the five drinks they learned that week, for $1 a go.

Since our five-hour class in television production was on Friday, we had exactly one hour between the end of studio time and the start of the much-hated, mandatory English class at 2 pm.   

We would run from the studio when released and head to the Functions Room, to plunk down $10 for lunch.  The Hospitality students would bring us sauteed trout with a mandarin orange reduction sauce, or what ever speciality they learned that week.  Concurrently, we’d down five highballs with lunch to ensure the quality of the Bartending students’ teaching.  With one eye on the clock and the other on the drinks, we would run from the Functions Room at 13:59:55 to make the English class. 

By 1420 hrs, many of us would be asleep, or so pickled that we couldn’t see straight and attempted to keep our heads from wobbling as best we could.  After English those who wanted to would adjourn to The World on Woodroffe Ave and continue industrial drinking.  Or The Capri, or Peter’s Pantry, or even, on truly upscale evenings, The Grads.    

Bars Part II

Continuing the (vague) Remembrance of Bars Past.

The Embassy, Pembroke.  The radio station I worked for was next to a 100 seat downtown Ottawa Valley watering hole that catered to locals and the military from the huge base up the road in Petawawa.  Naturally, The Embassy was the CHOV Radio watering hole too. 

The walls were painted black, the floor was a combination of linoleum from the days of Mackenzie King and a ‘dance floor’ of uneven wood, arranged between four steel Lally poles that held up the second storey and the occasional drunk patron who insisted on dancing.  To cheer up the place, they strung Christmas tree lights around the perimeter of the room, but the pool tables were always well lighted. 

As the radio station staff were regulars, we had some benefits:  Tuesday’s were $2 Jug days over the lunch and afternoon.  We’d go in, buy 10 jugs of draft, have them draw one and ask them to keep the other nine in the keg for us.  A jug contains 64 ounces, or about 6-7 glasses of draft beer.  I did the morning show (0530 to 1000) and was off work at 1300 (1 PM for the rest of the world), which meant I could start pounding the suds at 1300 hours and 30 seconds, if I walked at a leisurely pace.

By 4 PM, we were usually dazed.  The afternoon crew and the office crew would show up and the drinking would begin with more determination.  The seven or eight jugs left in the keg would be drawn off.  Around 6 PM someone would decided that solid food was called for and this usually consisted of potato chips or pickled eggs.

With a mixed clientele of locals and military, there were interesting clashes of cultures, Pembroke being a lumber town of hard-working, independent-minded blue-collar, working folks.  The military was also not without their cultural quirks, especially their inter-service discussions, which would become heated on occasion. 

On one particular Friday evening, the place was full of a near-equal mix of locals and military.  You could tell the locals, as they wore baseball caps year-round.  The mullet haircut was a popular adornment, including florid moustaches of the Lanny McDonald type. 

The military were also visually obvious, from the high and tight hair and the preponderance of wristwatches as big as some Central American countries, forced around wrists the size of my thigh.  Sunburns were common, as many of the military had come back from a UN rotation to Cyprus or Fort Huachuca, Arizona for joint training with American troops, jumping out of perfectly good aircraft.

Neither group had discernable necks and that includes the women in either group. 

At one point a member of one particular regiment that shall remain unstated, (but was the 8th Canadian Hussars) remarked that a member of another regiment (2 Commando, Airborne) was of uncertain ancestry and antecedents, as well as being impolite to a local girl.  As the two gentlemen involved attempted to stare each other down, those of us from the radio station who still had some of our wits about us, recognized what was about to happen. 

The first punch was thrown, a roundhouse right that came from the floor and landed squarely in the face of one of the debaters.  The sound was very much the same sound one would hear if you punched a side of beef as hard as you could.  There was no reaction from the recipient.  He didn’t fall over, wince, cry out, or even blink.  All he did was, very slowly and deliberately take off his watch and stuff it into his pants pocket with a practiced, graceful set of gentle motions.

Behind us, several members of his regiment were repeating his actions with a calm deliberation:  Watches were going into pockets.  Fellow members of the punch-thrower’s regiment merely adjusted their positions in the room, languorously turning their chairs away from the tables, or butting out a cigarette, with the placid, almost weary, resignation of someone who knows that the time is at hand.

We had the sense to take our jugs of draft, glasses and ashtrays and put them under the table.  We also endeavoured to make ourselves as small as possible,  Being effete broadcasters, news readers, sportscasters and copywriters, we understood the energy potential of lumbermen who routinely hauled 200 pound logs with their bare hands, or military members who rappelled out of helicopters in full battle rattle, Australian-style, meaning, head first.

The locals, up until then, uninvolved in the dialogue, decided that the honour of civilian life and the glory of Pembroke’s long hockey history were also being impugned and they joined in the discussions.  There were quotes along the lines of "You military members require a lesson in polite public behaviour." (Translation:  "Fuckin’ zipperheads.  Give’er Lads!")

In the blur of bodies that suddenly appeared, I do recall seeing a head being forcefully directed at one of the dance floor steel poles by a civilian woman who had a close-cropped cranium in a traditional hockey headlock, with the his shirt pulled up over his head.  This was mere moments before the broadcasting contingent decided that one more body landing on the table would cause structural failure, endangering the beer and possibly causing excess spillage.  Apparently one of the steel poles was found later that evening, in the parking lot, bent in half.

We adjourned to the Legion, Branch 72, across the street, bringing our beer with us.  There was informal free-trade between the two enterprises, as we also graced the Legion with our custom on a regular basis.

After the local police and the military police were summoned, we watched from the entrance of the Legion, enjoying the illuminated display of red and blue flashing lights from a safe distance.  Discussions continued inside, as members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the locals continued their etiquette lessons in a new and vibrant method of teaching, heretofore unknown in the annals of pedagogy.

The pole was replaced the next morning. 

Bars in Ottawa Pt I

I was doing some reflecting the other day, not in the sense of reflecting light, as I do that well enough, without any special training, but reflecting, in the sense of remembering things.  Bars seemed to come back to me.  Bars, as in licensed beverage alcohol parlours.

Some of these establishments are long gone, but a few still exist.  Others exist hazily as I was probably drunk when I went in and drunker when I came out, but I do have vague recollections of their decor.  Herewith, a list of Bars.

The Maple Leaf in Ottawa, site of much illegal drinking during high school.  A classic linoleum floor, Arborite tables and fluorescent lights.  Cheap draft and ghastly chuckwagon sandwiches that were reheated in a metal box, with what looked like a 300 watt lightbulb inside to heat your lunch.  After you got your chuckwagon sandwich and tore away the partially charred cellophane, you used mustard packets by the handful to douse the taste of the sandwich.   

The Ottawa House, Hull.  Long gone, but a huge beer parlour that sat five or six hundred at a go and had a balcony surrounding the main dance floor.  Quarts of beer served to anyone who could see over the bar.  Also home of my first brush with the original 12 percent Bras D’Or beer.  There was usually a band in attendance.  The Guess Who played there toward the end of their career and apparently I saw them.  Getting puked on from the balcony was a hazard of the Ottawa House, but they didn’t care if you took the party into the street too. 

The Eastview Hotel, Eastview.  (I refuse to call it Vanier, it’s Eastview, dammit!) Also long gone.  Had basement rec-room ‘oak’ panelling in the bar and a perpetually sticky floor from spillage.  Apparently there were people who lived in the Hotel. but I’m reasonably certain those folks never actually ventured out in daylight.  

The Chaud, Hull.  There were two Hotel Chaudieres.  The Rose Room and the Green Door.  The Rose Room was upstairs, where you took a date.  The Green Door is where you went to get drunk and fight.  Both held more than 2,000 patrons at a go.  You were brought a quart as a matter of course; only girls were brought pint bottles.  The servers all had bus-driver change machines hooked to their belts and could carry at least 20 quarts and four jugs on a tray, with one hand. 

In the glory days, the Chaudiere saw Louis Armstrong play the Rose Room.  Later, bands like Sha-Na-Na, the Staccatos, Octavian and the Five Man Electrical Band played there.  The Green Door was the kind of place where when you opened the door, you immediately ducked down, as there was either a bottle or a chair headed your way. 

The Chaud was also home of Gerry Barber, the toughest bouncer on the planet.  One story about Barber will suffice:  A patron was being unruly and Barber asked him to sit down and shutthefuckup, tabernac!.  The patron objected and showed his displeasure by breaking a nearly full quart beer bottle over Gerry Barber’s head.  Normally, this would knock most humans to their knees. 

Barber laughed out loud, in the face of the patron:  The 2,000 drunks in the room instantly became very quiet, as we knew what was going to happen next.  Barber grabbed the patron by the face and genitals, throwing him in the direction of the door, over a couple of tables.  When Barber strode over to where the crumpled patron lay, he was still chuckling to himself.  He picked up the patron by the belt, then used the patron’s head to open the door and toss him into the parking lot.  The band resumed playing and the rest of us resumed drinking.

The British Hotel, Aylmer.  The British sold something they called "Porch Climber", which was a fortified wine-related fluid:  Sort of a high-test sangria, without the fruit slices, juice, or images of Spain.  Porch Climber was sold in pitchers, like draft and if memory serves, was $3 per 64 oz pitcher, while beer was $5 a pitcher. 

Why it was called Porch Climber was never explained.  However, after a pitcher of that stuff, you’d be unable to get up on the porch, or for that matter, off the front lawn, where you had passed out, face down, the night before.  It also stained white Addidas three-stripe running shoes permanently.

The World, Ottawa.  The World was Ottawa’s premiere blues bar and had 300 as its’ listed capacity.  When bluesman Buddy Guy played The World, they sold 700 tickets and everyone showed up. 

Women, on those nights when the house was full, (Long John Baldry would also pack the joint), would routinely be assaulted, or to use the vernacular of the time, "felt up", as they tried to move through the crowd.  On occasion, a woman would be body surfed on the top of the crowd over to the bar, or the rest rooms, depending on where she wanted to go.

The Grads. Ottawa.  Originally a old fashioned "Ladies and Escorts" and "Men’s Entrance" type of tavern, it evolved into a watering hole for most of Carleton University, at one time or another.  The colour scheme was beige and red, like an old streetcar or the Ottawa Transport Company buses of the time.  The nicest thing about the Grads was the sign out front in Art Deco typography and design.  The restrooms were from the Night of the Living Dead.

Friends and Co.,  Ottawa.  In the disco era, Friends and Co was a meat-market of oak and brick, the concept being the ‘beautiful people’ of Ottawa would come together to drink and go home with someone different every night.  The beautiful people did congregate there and it was a spritzer and fern joint of the worst kind.

The Talisman, Ottawa.  The Talisman Hotel had a bar in the basement, which was done in full-on tiki lounge, with bamboo lamps, reed wall coverings, woven rattan furniture and servers in mahalo shirts in the dead of winter. 

I can remember vaguely, some of, the Zombies they served, as well as the sounds of a South Korean disco band doing "That’s the Way, I Like It" in very bad accents.  However, they did have a full horn section of stone killers and the keyboard player had a Hammond B3 with the lightweight Leslie speaker cabinet that he knew how to play.  He made the table lamps shake with that organ when they did "Gimme Some Lovin’ by the Spencer Davis Group. 

Barrymore’s, Ottawa.  Barrymore’s had an interesting history.  Originally, the Imperial Theatre, it was a movie theatre on Bank Street, then it was shuttered for a number of years, with the seats and screen still intact inside, covered in dust.  After a decade or two, it was reopened, at least the balcony and loges section, as Pandora’s Box, a strip club that was needlessly upscale for the time and neighbourhood.  Pandora’s restored some of the elaborate painting and gilt work of the original Imperial and recycled some of the velvet draperies for the peelers’ runway. 

Then it closed again and reopened as Barrymore’s, a pre-eminent live music bar and showcase.  Any big act playing Ottawa at the Civic Centre, if they could, would stay over an extra night, or come a night early, to play Barrymore’s.  Barrymore’s held, legally, 550 people.  I was fortunate enough to see George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Tina Turner and Huey Lewis and the News in Barrymore’s. 

There’s something galactically Right about seeing Huey Lewis or George Thorogood in a packed, smoky bar, with the entire place jumping up and down in unison, everyone, including the band, piss drunk.  Tina Turner had just released "Private Dancer" and was a mega-star, who had booked Barrymore’s months before, as a warmup date for her tour.  A Rolling Stones tribute band, the Blushing Brides, used to own the place when they played there.

Licensed as a bar, Barrymore’s didn’t have a bad seat in the place.  A big stage, left over from the strippers, and one of the first GE Talaria video projection systems that was installed for non-band nights.  They’d fire up the video system and play some of the very first music videos on the big screen at ear-splitting volume.  On very quiet nights, they’d hook an Atari Pong game up to the big screen and you could play Pong on a screen that was twenty feet wide.

Pineland.  Ottawa.  In what looked like a small, warmed over rural arena, next to a rental go-kart track, some of the 60’s and 70’s best local bands played Pineland.  The CFRA Campus Club for Coke, with Al Pascal, used to host the bands.  Pineland was the home for the Townsmen, the Staccatos, Octavian, Five Man, the Cooper Brothers, Bolt Upright and hundred more bands.  Ostensibly, Pineland was not licensed, but Gilbey’s Lemon Gin was readily available. 

I’m going to end it here, for now, but if you remember some of the old Ottawa hotspots, like the Red Door, the Laf, Salon Diane and Salon Colette, as well as the Claude, the Elmdale, the VD and some of the other holes, drop me a line.

There are more stories to be had.