Encounters with the Lord of the Dance
Ann and I attended two funerals last week. Both of the deceased lived in our immediate neighbourhood. One of the men was our age which was cause for alarm. We’d often bump into John at Blues on Whyte,
premier lowdown music venue. The second gentleman died a day or two short of
his ninety-third birthday and that was cold comfort. We’d chat with Earl in our
shared back lane, careful always to reintroduce ourselves because he was
legally blind. All the kids on the block knew John’s children and they all used
to scamper through Earl’s yard shortcutting street to street. Earl thought kids
having fun was a fine thing indeed. Edmonton
The death rite has become less exotic these past five years. So much so, that if I had the wherewithal, the know-how and the backing, I’d create a Rate the Funeral Sandwiches app. But to what purpose, really? Only James Bond lived twice and everybody knows to avoid rancid Spam sandwiches lovingly assembled by well-intentioned Red Hat ladies and how egg salad can turn toxic in a hurry. Ann and I have been to a lot funerals together. I guess we’re at that age: the terrible tombs.
The upside of course is that life waltzes on. Over the weekend Ann and I partook in the celebration of her great-nephew Jake’s eighteenth birthday, a brilliant excuse to gather the clan. Whether it’s nature or nurture, I don’t know, but Jake is as heavily into music as his parents, his grandfather, his great auntie and her consort. Perhaps because it’s retro and somewhat exotic, or just sounds better, Jake is into vinyl. Consequently, a gang of his relatives invaded the indie music shop on Whyte Friday afternoon to watch Jake spend his birthday booty.
Forty years between us but my tastes and Jake’s overlap: Cream and Led Zeppelin, for example. In this disrupted age of streaming subscription services vinyl is obscenely expensive, much more so than compact discs when they began to appear in the marketplace in the mid-eighties. A decade earlier, sometime in the seventies when I would’ve been about Jake’s age, an hour’s wage was good for two long players, provided they were on sale or plucked from the delete bin. A curious fan could afford to explore.
My advice to Jake was, “If you’re into Zep, start with Physical Graffiti.” Speaking as a former advertising production manager, the packaging alone is a triumph of design. I figured also that their mid-career masterpiece would allow Jake to slide backward and forward through Led Zep’s catalogue should he be so inclined.
Sunday night, the midpoint of the Family Day long weekend: three generations of Jake’s family and various friends and relations went pub crawling; swilling shots with your mother and grandfather probably wasn’t the holiday’s intent. There was music all through the frozen night which ultimately culminated in a magical moment: every patron in a karaoke bar singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” accompanists to the newly minted voter on the mic, a birthday boy on his first legal night out.