Friday 25 May 2012

I told you “No wire coat hangers” at this memorial!

On Apr 23 of this year Parachute Club drummer Billy Bryans lost his fight with cancer. 11 days after I won mine. Needless to say the news hit me hard. Billy and I were fixtures on the Queen St West music scene of the early 1980s and had collaborated on many music projects. Most notably the art-rock band "The Government" and "V", Billy and Lorraine Segato's project band that you, today, know as "Parachute Club" ("Rise up, Rise up")

As part of our collaboration I documented a lot of band performances along Queen St West during the early 1980s. With Billy's death I wanted to draw from that material and do a tribute. But going through my archives I didn't really find anything that suited. My recording of V's "Alien-Nation" is clearly a precursor to the Parachute Club version, but I cannot bring anything new to it.

I finally chose "Joan Crawford", a The Government recording from Nov 1981. It's a great band line-up, with Andrew James Paterson and the late Robert Stewart fronting the band they co-founded, Billy Bryans doing his awesome percussion thing that later artists such as Manu Katché would take to new heights, and, of all people, Jeremiah Chechik, director of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, on scratch guitar. Those were interesting times my friend.

Here is my mashup, with The Government song "Joan Crawford" illustrated with public domain and fair use images of the ultimate Hollywood glamour queen, Joan Crawford.

Bye' Billy. We hardly knew ye.

Joan Crawford Live at the Cabana Room Nov 14, 1981

Thursday 10 May 2012

When I was a Pink Chiquita

Filmmaking in Canada in the 1980s was insane. Very crafty producers were using very generous tax credits to fleece every doctor, dentist and lawyer in town. Whilst we were doing lines of coke off strippers' V-tanned derrieres, has-been actors were flying into town daily to star in the worst films ever made.

I was never that fortunate. My film debut did not feature the has-been Sylvester Stallone, but his never-was brother, Frank Stallone. Pink Chiquitas was reviewed as “a film where familiar faces from TV do 33 rpm schtick at 78 in a desperate attempt to get laughs.” The film is unique in the history of cinema as the only time anyone promoted a sound editor to direct a picture. Lousy direction. But the soundscape is brilliant.

Click the pic to watch the vid

Herein I present a bootleg clip that features a 30-year younger me, 2 minutes in. Shout-out to my scene-mate the still-hot Jan Anderson.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Queen's Park's Whitney Block Tower

The Whitney Block Tower is a Modern Gothic structure added in 1932 to architect F. R. Heakes 1928 Whitney Block. It is faced with Queenston limestone. Due to the building being situated on the street racing part of Queen's Park Crescent most people take no heed of it.

As first built it was an eclectric complex for a Provincial Government headquarters, featuring
  • a bowling alley in the basement
  • An early form of conditioning that used blocks of ice
  • The sixth floor contained animal pens used by the provincial veterinary services that were housed there. Cows were brought up to the lab in an adjacent service elevator.
  • The elevator is not automated but has to be hand cranked
As imposing as the Whitney Block tower is, it is an abandoned building.

The building hasn't been inhabited since 1968, when it was deemed a fire hazard. There is only one staircase, which makes it unsafe in the event of an emergency evacuation. As well, there is no central mechanical ventilation system. The only way to get fresh air into the building is by opening the windows.