All the Banjos of Canada

In which I posit that Canada is a special repository of Banjo players and why Steve Martin should set up camp here, pronto.  The movement fluxes and farts.

But this latest pop up of banjos in modern recordings promulgated by Kate McGarrigle and her kids using her playing of banjos (and other pluckers) in their recordings. Some videos below.

Sean Lennon is a personal friend of Rufus Wainwright, which is why I include the OWS video.

But Feist makes use of el banjo-o in some of her songs too.

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Continue reading “All the Banjos of Canada”

A Day in the Life, Starving Artist edition


We just came back from a trip to Montreal where we had yet another meeting with more creative types who are doing things we want to be doing.  It was kind of fruitful but not in the way we’d hoped.  Prospects of money in the future, peut etre, but nothing put into our pockets that day.  Sometimes the life of a starving artist involves something beautiful and smokey, and sometimes it’s just a conversation.

I don’t know what it is about Montreal and creative life but the door is definitely not opening to us.  I find this weird because the Director had the life but had to step back due to …needing to do drugs with other delinquents in order to do business.  Now a new crew’s in town and they’re more into the perfect cup of coffee than snorting something which is great, but the Director does not know these younger people.  And creatives is still all about who you know in addition to what you can do.

So after the meeting we did what we always do. Continue reading “A Day in the Life, Starving Artist edition”

Evening Readin glist

What to read next

My brother’s speech pattern involved attaching a G to a word beginning with L.  So that if the sentence were thus: “I love you” it would come out as “I glove you.”  His dog Lulu was funny enough without the nickname of GluGlu.

All of which means that this evenin’s reading glist is dedicated to him.

Genomes and Ethiopia:

Adrian McKinty’s latest tome:

Ha ha a bra and kitchen sink: what is sexiness


Evening Reading List

Tonight’s reading list if I can take a break from my electronic version of farm work.

Trying this to encourage myself not to read first thing in the morning when I am at my most productive, most candy corniest.

Thanks, Canadia


It’s well past summer.  The leaves blinged red and orange and gold and are now curled up masses the color of paper bags on the ground.  Or so I heard.

I missed the seasons by not having a dog to walk.

Instead I was looking through the window outside whenever I wasn’t staring at another screen.

The sun’s setting earlier now.  The gnarled scrubby pines pretending I don’t see them, as though someone yelled out Freeze in a game of Tag.

In Canadia, I saw things thanks to my dog.  There’s a common saying around here:

entre chien et lou.

For that time between – when the sun is setting and the night is pushing its way through.  It’s half empty and half full, the glass.  Between a dog and wolf.  Thanks Canada.

Rejected jokes

Rejected jokes / joke by a drive-by employer.

(I thought it should be kept in preserves.  Kept preserved.  Preserved in jelly.  An aspect of jelly.  Aspic.)

image of mechanic smoking a cigarette

Honk if you love Jesus…Jesus Henderson, we mean!   Our Employee of the Month offers salvation to your car’s transmission.  You can find him underneath various hoods on weekdays…and underneath various barstools some evenings.


Buying Bread in Braunschweig


How hard could it be buying bread at a bakery?

My rideshare dropped me off in the city centre of Braunschweig, West Germany. It was 1987.

Eva said this driver’s exchange service was the cheapest way to get to see Andrea, our mutual friend, though it was a good chance that the driver would not speak English.  I was ok with this, though it seemed weird that strangers would offer to drive strangers in their car.

A few days earlier, I had met up with Eva from the train from Amsterdam, gotten lost despite her pitch-perfect instructions, but yet still ended up meeting her in Frankfurt.  She was waiting at the station, cigarette in mouth, hands on hips.  She had lost weight since I last saw her, but then again so had I.

We had a beer at the bar in the station, me forty minutes in Germany, and I pounded the bar like the guy next to me had done and I also ordered, “Ein alt, bitte.”  I imitated the way he did it, using the only talent I had, mimicry, for good. Continue reading “Buying Bread in Braunschweig”

Enter: My Father’s Clown Shoes

image of a mustard jar with a man's face on it

They say walk a mile on top of your father’s clown shoes, so you can avoid the tears of a clown, when there’s no one around.

The place was Shakey’s Pizza in Westmont, on or near Ogden Avenue, I think.  The time, thirty-two years ago.  When Joe was the size of a toenail.  When he was still biting strangers on the ankle.  We, kids and Dad, went out for pizza while Mom stayed behind to be bask in the silencio.  Amy ‘claims’ she did not come on this trip.

Just minutes before leaving for Shakey’s, I was watching a television show that involved two bad comedians: one guy who told jokes while wearing a bag on his head, and one guy who stuck nickels up his nose.  Because I liked the way that sounded, the 2 n’s, nickels and nose, I made sure to remember it so that I could use it at a moment’s notice around other like-minded individuals.

We walk through the door and into the smell of dough.  When you first enter, you can’t miss the plastic partition that separates the pizza makers and ovens from the population at large.  I blink with disappointment at the two guys snapping towels at each other, not living up to their entertainment potential.  Their entertainment mandate.  Only once did I ever see a guy throw a pizza up in the air and spin it with his hands, thus forever ruining me in the disappointment that  Continue reading “Enter: My Father’s Clown Shoes”

Questions of the Garden Variety

Hey Americans – you’re traveling – Montreal beckons.  What’s a gal or guy to do?

    • Do Americans need a passport to get into Canada?

Answer: Despite all the name calling and joking around, Canada’s a separate country from the US and as such requires official documentation.  A passport, if you will.

    • What if I live in Vermont?  Canada is only a couple miles from my house.

Answer: And Zion, Illinois is only minutes away from Racine Wisconsin.  You might not need a passport to travel from the Land of Lincoln to get admitted into the Eat Cheese or Die state, but it does not mean you won’t get called a FIB or a fish tab.

    • Can I find pot in Montreal or should I just bring my own?

Answer: If you have to ask it means you don’t know about the tam-tams on Sunday afternoons. And if you ask me again about this while riding in my car?  I will set off the passenger side airbags on you.

    • Where’s a good place to eat?

Answer: I hear that the Paris McDonald’s serves a mean Royale with cheese.

    • Do they really speak French everywhere in Montreal or is it just for show?

Answer: Amazingly most Montrealers speak French amongst themselves and, bonus, also to strangers.

    • Will I get attitude around anyone who’s a french snob?

Answer: Most often no, but maybe!  But the good thing in all of this is, not knowing any French prevents you from feeling shame since you can’t understand any dressing down you might experience. The only thing you have to watch out for? Other Americans in the city who insist on using American dollars to buy stuff.  Then not only will there be a lot of attitude floating around, you’ll also be able to understand it.

    • What if I don’t follow hockey?

Answer: As long as you stay away from buying your turkey sandwiches at Slovenia’s on Blvd St-Laurent, you should be good to go.

    • No, I mean, what else is there to do if I don’t want to follow hockey?

Answer: Montreal has a population of a million or so people in it who are kissing strangers and stealing change off of your table in celebration of the summer. There’s the festival of fireworks every July. Countries bring their A games to the city to compete, twice a week for the entire month.  I hear there’s also a bunch of other festivals too.

    • Montreal is the home of the Cirque du Soleil.  I hate clowns.  Will I be bumping into a lot of clowns on the street?

Answer: just hockey fans.

    • Is it true you drove expensive paintings from Canada to the US and only declared them to be from a friend for your birthday?  And that you presented a fake birthday card signed by the famous artist who said, ‘Maybe some day I hope my paintings will get good enough to sell’?

Answer: That is completely and totally false.