Smooth Moves.

- Evan Wansbrough // Evanwansbrough@gmail.com // @evanwansbrough

Cost-free, DIY, Foreign Artist Immigration in 10 steps.

This doesn’t help bars and restaurants who have just incurred an increase in fees attached to immigrating international touring artists to perform at their establishments, but if you’re an independently operating party [read: person not affiliated with bar or restaurant in question] with an interest in promoting a show for an international touring artist, here are 10 steps to do it without being subject to immigration fees.

Step 1. Make an offer sheet. A band or booking agent has asked you if you’re into doing a show on a certain range of dates. You are stoked. So you need to make an offer sheet. Do it in Word, or Photoshop or by hand for all it matters. But if you’re gonna do it by hand then you’re gonna either have to scan it into a computer to e-mail it or post-mail it, so you’re better off to just figure out Word. Include on the offer:

-         Date of performance

-         Payment offer (guarantee or door %)

-         Your personal information

Make it look nice, if you’d like. Make a logo.

Step 2: Wait to hear back. Generally bands and booking agents looking for a show are pretty quick with the e-mails once an offer is on the table so you won’t be waiting long. I would give it three (3) business days max before I e-mailed back to ask what the status on this is. You might have to go back and forth with negotiations a bit, but sooner you get the green light, the better step 3 will be.

Step 3: Secure a hold on a motherfucking venue. It’s insane how bad DIY show promoters can be at this. If you don’t wanna suck at the thing you’re trying to do, learn how to secure a hold on a motherfucking venue.

It can’t be just any venue however. It has to be what is known in Canada as a Tax Exempt venue. This is any place that is open for the show only, and not for all day brunch or happy hour hi-balls or the cheapest pitchers in town, or whatever. Exempt venues are in the business of providing a venue for shows. Current examples of these in Vancouver include: The Biltmore, Fortune, Red Room, Media Club, Venue, The Rickshaw, as well as any all ages spot like Sasstorino’s, or a record shop that does night shows after business hours. You’re going to have to rent this venue. But before you do that, please, get a hold. Get in touch with the venue booker. Get a hold on the date(s) in question. A lot of bands or booking agent will give you a range of 3 or 4 dates to get a hold on as they firm up their route. Ideally, you need a 1st hold on every date requested. If you can’t get a 1st hold. Get a 2nd hold or a 10th hold. This means you have 2nd or 10th dibs on the venue if the guys ahead of you in line drop their hold. Now, keep approaching venues until you have secured a 1st hold on the date you need. Once you have a 1st hold, get a rental contract from the venue, you’re going to need to submit it to the border later.

Step 4: Inform the band or booking agent of your successful hold status and wait again, this time for them to send you a copy of their contract. Your natural inclination as a burgeoning  independent show promoter might be to reject contracts. Guess, what: you’re attempting to immigrate a foreign worker, legally. This is how it works. You’re gonna read the contract, sign the contract and promptly return the contract to the band or booking agent. This is the last contact you’ll have with that party for a while.

Step 5: Get tickets printed. Typically, I go with Clubzone.com because they are cheap, fast, and I can pick them up downtown. Tickets are vital because in order for your show to qualify as a tax exempt event it needs to be ticketed. You’ll have to submit a photocopy of the ticket to Border Services along with the contract when the time comes so make sure you get a photocopy somewhere before you drop the tickets off at record stores. Make a note in your iPhone notes what ticket numbers went where, because later when you call the store to ask for a count (because the booking agent or band has requested to know how pre-sales are looking) they guy who answers the phone is gonna know less about your tickets than a stranger off the street and he or she is going to say “top number is ____”. It’s your job to know what the top number was when you dropped the tickets off, and be able to count down and subtract. It’s not rocket science but it’s frustrating as hell when you don’t mark down which ticket numbers went where, so do it.

Step 6: Step 6 is where the fun probably begins for you. Make a flyer. Buy some tape. Go postering. Never fuck around with wheat paste or other liquid adhesives as they are far too messy and labour intensive. You’re a business person now, you need to value your time. Postering services generally have very reasonable rates, and if you play your cards right you might be able to get the venue to get you their rates on stuff like this as part of your rental agreement. Make a facebook event. Do anything else you think might help promote the show.

Step 7: Obtain a manifest from the band or booking agent of everyone travelling and their personal info. Once you have that, you can download the form online to fill out with the information or simply attach it in a word document. For each traveler, you need:

-          Surname

-          Given name

-          DOB

-          Citizenship

-         Country of Residence

-         Social Security Number

-         Passport Number

-         Job Title (ie: Artist or Crew)

Step 8: Create a Cover Letter addressed to the Superintendant of Canada Border services providing the details of the show, and that if satisfies the requirements for tax exemption. I made one of these 2009 based off one that someone else sent me, and I have been using it as a template since then, each time just changing the particulars such as band name, date, venue, etc.

Step 9: Create a Word document and draft an official letter of invitation addressed to the band or booking agent, specifying the date of the show you are booking. Also keep this as a template for next time.

Step 10: A few days before the show, fax (of all fucking things) the paperwork to Canada Border Services at: 604-538-0873.  

But, before you fax the paperwork to the border, a) double check that fax number and b) make sure you’ve got everything you need. Here is your dummy-check list:

-          Cover letter addressed to Superintendant, Canada Border Services

-          Personnel Manifest of everyone travelling

-          Signed Artist Contract

-          Letter of Invitation addressed to the band / booking agent

-          Signed Venue Rental Agreement

-          Photocopy of ticket

Include your personal contact information on all documents and make sure you have these documents for each band crossing the border. In a case where there are multiple Canadian dates, you might not be the one in charge of faxing everything to the border for all the dates, so the band or booking agent might request that you simply e-mail all the documents to them for them to pass along. In any case, this is not legally binding, but if you follow these 10 steps you should have no problem getting any band into Canada legally.

 

Madison.

                It was always risky business breaking into Mike’s place past bed-time. His parents locked every door to the house – probably twice – and, they had a dog. A little fucking Italian greyhound that Mike had named Flurry for its rambunctious nature as a puppy, but that years later only seemed to expend energy on eating its own shit and fucking with me whenever it was least convenient for me. If I so much as approached a conventional entrance-way to the house, Flurry would hear me and start yapping louder than you’d think was possible for a little bitch like that and wake everyone in the house, which for me, meant anytime after 10 PM, Mike’s bedroom window was the only way in.

                Usually the window was unlatched, but even in those cases, I would have to navigate through a barricade of mattresses and duvets Mike had set up on the window-ledge to shield his sanctuary from lurkers, prowlers, natural light and fresh air. In a case that the window was locked, however, it became even trickier. The key was to knock loud enough for Mike to hear through the barrier of bed ware, yet softly enough so as to not disrupt the precarious slumber of his aging parents, with whom my friend shared a bedroom wall. On several occasions I had knocked too loudly and earned us a visit from Mike’s alarmed mother. On one other occasion, I had knocked too gingerly and wound up spending the night in a plastic recliner on the deck in my shirtsleeves. On this particular night, Mike had left his window unlatched.

                I shoved the barricade aside and climbed up onto the window sill to get what must have been one of my first uncensored insights into the wonder that is Mikey Screwdriver, uninterrupted in his natural habitat. What the fuck is this shit? All the lights were out except for a blinding purple bulp mounted on top of the TV which revealed three walls and part of the stucco ceiling entirely covered in glowing, neon yellow graffiti. The thumping and scraping of two expired-but-still-spinning LP’s on Mikey’s Technic 12’s fought to be heard over a jungle break-beat mix playing loudly off WinAmp. Mikey fancied himself an amateur jungle DJ, and the DJ was face down on his mattress below me in nothing but his loose-fitting tighty-whities, no blanket, surrounded by cannabis-smoking paraphernalia.

I jumped down onto the bed, knocking a stack of CDs and cassettes off the shelf, rousing Mike from unconsciousness.

                “Dude, what the fuck are you doing here?” He moaned, rolling over in his stretched out ginch.

                “I found us a drummer. What the fuck is all of this?" I motioned everywhere in general with my hand.

                “I got a blacklight” Mikey explained.

                “What the fuck did you do to your walls”?

                “It’s blacklight pen. The ink’s only visible to the human eye when illuminated by a black light”.

                “If your dad sees this he’s gonna freak”.

                “Ohhhh yep. So what, you think you found a drummer”?

——

                It had taken me a week or so to get around to calling Mitch’s ex-girlfriend after learning that she was in the hospital, and by then she had already been released, but was none-the-less flattered by my concern – which was the whole idea – and agreed to go to the Symphony of Fire with me.

                The last two weeks of every July, Vancouver hosts a large international fireworks showcase called Symphony of Fire* and fifty-thousand people – mostly teenagers from the suburbs – flock to English Bay or Kitsilano Beach, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, to get drunk and watch 30 minutes of world-class pyrotechnics, accompanied by classical concertos performed live by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Or, if you have a van, you take your chick up to the British Properties in West Vancouver, find a romantic vantage point, kick the back doors open and watch the show curled up on your mattress. They broadcast the symphony over the radio so you can tune in and really get the full experience; unfortunately however, I was between vans at that time, so Madison and I were left with no choice but tostake out a small claim on English Bay’s Sunset Beach amongst the masses of intoxicated suburban assholes.

                “What’s your sign?” the pale-skinned-and-punky Wynona Rider-looking Madison asked me, pulling a folded up Georgia Straight out of her backpack and flipping through it to the back. This was some seriously standard first-hanging-out fare; but my dick was getting hard all the same so I gave in and told her I was a Leo, refraining from adding that if she wasn’t a Virgo or a virgin I didn’t like our chances. I had detected a trend in my womanizing, you see.

                “Leo, Leo, Leo, what is that, August?…” she asked aloud.

“Yeah, August.” I said impatiently, watching her arrive upon the Straight’s Bullshit Section and begin fingering through the zodiac – Pisces, Aries, Taurus – a tumor of comprehension formed in my brain and metastasized, spreading full-blown panic through my bloodstream as my eyes fixed on her hands – Gemini, Cancer, OH FUCK ME!!

——

                “FUCKING WARTS MAN!" I spilled it for Mikey, the news jolting him upright in his bed. "ALL OVER HER FINGERS AND THUMBS!

                “Duuuuuuuuuuuude!” Mikey squirmed.

 

——

                In the flash of an instant my dick had gone from the Hindenburg to fuckiiiiiiin’, Honey I Shrunk the Hindenburg, and I must have set a world record for most questions asked and answered inside two seconds without speaking. Are those fucking warts? OH MAN! NO QUESTION ABOUT IT! Could I get them on my dick if she jacks me off? OF COURSE! Can I get the fuck outta here somehow? DOUBT IT, DUDE! What if I just get a blowjob?

                                                                                ——

                Mike was laughing like an idiot as I re-enacted it.  “Dude, you’re not gonna get a very good blow job if she can’t even use her hands!”

                “So what am I supposed to tell her? Hey baby, why don’t you suck my dick but keep your wart covered gross fucking hands out of it?”

                “Fuck, I dunno – you really think you’d get them on your dick? It’s not like it’s genital warts, besides what do you care? You have herpes already!” Mike chuckled, reaching for his pipe and weekday-pillbox full of weed.  Saturday’s allotment was smoked, but technically it was after midnight so Mikey dipped into his Sunday stash.

                “Man. First of all, I don’t have fucking genital herpes – I get fucking cold sores – it’s simplex A – it’s different; and second of all, I don’t care whether she’s got genital warts or regular warts or fucking St. John’s fucking Wart, I’m not gonna let her rub that shit all over my dick just to find out what happens!”.

                “Yeah fuck, I guess.”                                                                       

            ——

"Ohh yeah”, I absently patronized her as she dictated my horoscope, “I really hope someone from my past re-enters my life with a new opportunity…", but what I was thinking was fuuuuuck thiiiiiis and I didn’t need any Georgia Straight horoscope to know my whole operation was detrimentally fucking FUBAR’d; but being the gentlemanly soul that I am, I suffered patiently through the psychic preamble as well as the entire God-damned fireworks display and even walked my ill-fated date to her bus stop when they were over.

                Madison was headed home to North Vancouver, and I was only going as far as Park Royal in West Van, so theoretically I could have taken the same bus as her I would have only had to walk one block further than if I took a West Van bus, which would naturally have been my plan if it weren’t for those warts; but when the North Van bound 240 pulled up, I kissed her goodbye and sat back down on the bus stop bench to take inventory of my thoughts.

                                                                                              ——

                “Pffff Dude, you still fucking kissed her?” Mike choked out, spraying smoke into the air. Every so often my friend surprised me with a small display of human compassion.

                                                                                               ——

Anyway, Cordova Street and Georgia. Third-last stop from the bridge into West Van, and West Van busses ran fairly regularly on fireworks nights, yet as I sat there I felt an irresistible compulsion to unseat myself and begin walking east along Georgia Street – away from the bridge, away from West Van, and toward where the next bus would be coming.

I approached the Broughton Street stop but for the same reason I had decided to begin my upstream pilgrimage in the first place, I was urged to continue onward. I was compelled past Jervis, Bute Street, Thurlow and by the time I hit Burrard I didn’t even think about stopping – it was my mission: Granville Street or bust. There were tens of thousands of people everywhere and I was swiftly dodging them left and right to head the next Two-Fifty-Whatever off at the Granville Street bus stop; but I had no idea why until I had safely arrived and had been waiting no longer than a minute or two when my eye was caught by a body emerging from the sea of street-walkers. Buzz cut. Cut-off jean shorts. Black Chuck Taylors. Black Exploited t-shirt: this guy was not making his way home after taking in a fireworks display. This guy was my new drummer. And he was heading right toward me.

                “Hey!” I said loudly, trying to make eye contact as the guy approached. He was my height but skinnier, tough-as-Hell looking, yet comfortingly familiar in a way – or kind, or something – I thought. And evidently, he was a wizard at tuning out all the pedestrian fan fare, even in these hectic conditions, because he kept walking right past me without any hint of acknowledgment. Motherfucker. HEY!”I said squarely into The Wizard’s right ear from less than a foot away. He spun.

                “Hey buddy” he said it as though he knew me. Or more likely, as though he assumed he must know me but he didn’t remember how. I cut straight to it.

                “You play drums?”

                “Mmmm yeah, why?” HOLY FUCKING JACKPOT!!!!

—-

                “So you’re just stopping strangers in the street, asking them if they play drums?” Mikey squinted.

                “Yeah. So?” I answered, shrugging.

                                ——-

                “My band needs a new drummer”. I told The Wizard.

                “Oh yeah.” He computed for a moment, “What kind of band? Punk band?” Bingo, Motherfucker!

                 “Yeah, punk band. Called The Kidnappers”.

                “Hmhm, The Kidnappers”, my new drummer hummed out a giggle, “right on, you guys play fast?”

I introduced myself and from his pocket he retrieved a piece of folded up paper and handed it to me. I unfold it and it reads “MATT” in scribbley caps, and there was a number.

——

“You fucking dumbass!” Mikey berated me “He’s a fucking downtown alley way pot dealer; he’s probably a fucking crack-head!”

“Maybe.” I admitted, reluctantly “but man, don’t you see, I would never have even met him if it weren’t for those warts? If it weren’t for seeing Mitch on the bus the other day and having him mention Madison was in the hospital. And if it weren’t for being compelled to just keep walking past every fucking bus stop! That’s why I was compelled, man! So we would meet this guy!” I didn’t see two ways about it: this was the work of the Punk Rock Gods. “How many strangers have we asked if they play drums? Everyone says no. This fucking guy says he’s been playing for eight years and he loves the Dwarves!”

“Dude, I’m going back to sleep, you can sleep on that chair. My mom made soup if you want some. Maybe we’ll try that number in the morning, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about some fucking sketchy pot dealer you met on the street. Goodnight”. 

*Symphony of Fire was sponsored by Benson and Hedges, and once B&H’s contract was not extended the event changed its name to Festival of Lights.

This Is My Wilson

Spanning my 1996 to 1999 baseball seasons, I’d taken my position at Shortstop with a total of three different brand new baseball gloves. The first was a brown 12” Louisville TPX dual-post web that listed at under a hundred bucks, and which lasted me two seasons before I convinced my dad that if I was gonna keep playing up the middle I needed something better and smaller, so he bought me a two-hundred-and-fifty dollar 11.5” Pinckard in black with an I-Web which I immediately spray-painted neon orange, infuriating my dad. The Pinckard looked sweet, to be sure, but it was a little heavy for me and I had a problem keeping back-handers from popping out so after the ‘98 year I petitioned to my father once again for new wares and picked up a black and brown 11.5” single-post from an emerging company called Glovesmith. Glovesmiths were small-run, let’s say “boutique” gloves at their inception and were notorious for being a pain in the ass to break in properly, but were still the choice of discerning highschool-level infielders with three-hundred of their parents’ bucks to drop on some leather. I worked mine all season but it was still stiff as Hell and I hadn’t completely resolved my back-hand problem. Ideally, you strive to field a back-hander in the pocket or webbing of your glove, but invariably, due to the rainy and ill-maintained conditions of the diamonds we played on in and around greater Vancouver, you’d get a lot of hops up in the palm of your glove going to your right, and it was no good to have a glove that wouldn’t retain a ball in that scenario as well. Of course, finesse and technique are equally-if-not-more responsible for excellence in the art of fielding grounders, but without the complimentary equipment, it is difficult to stay competitive in a talent poor such as I was in. My dad would rap at me about Omar Vizquel growing up with a milk carton for a ball-glove - which I admire if it’s true - but everyone else he played with had the same gear - it’s not like Vizquel was out there sucking up rangers with a 1-litre while everyone else was fumbling around with an Ozzie Smith signature-series. The shit, as they say, is relative. 

"You’ll be giving your old one to your brother". My dad said, as I pulled down all three Wilson A2000 1786 models stocked on the glove-wall at Canada’s premier baseball equipment supplier,Prostock Athletic Supply - or as they should be called: Prostock Baseball Authority. 

"Yeah. Whatever. I’ll never need another glove". Wilson is the official glove sponsor of Major League Baseball and the A2000 line is their pro-stock model. They were, at that time, still made in Japan and from there they either go out for retail distribution, or straight to the choosiest of professional baseball’s middle infielders, despite Rawlings owning the patent and endorsement of the MLB Gold Glove Award. The 1786 model - of which I was prejudicially inspecting all three that Prostock had brought in that year - is their 11.5” middle-infield model. Stock production colour was gold tan with a black I web, black lacing, black welting. 

"If it was me spending three-hundred bucks on a baseball glove", my dad advised, "I’d be getting the black one, not the tan one". And the old man had a real case; the 1787 model he was holding in my face was the same one used by my second-favourite player of all-time and arguably the greatest defensive shortstop ever - Rey Ordonez - and was virtually identical to the one I had my heart set on, except it was a quarter-inch bigger, and came in black. 

"I want the eleven-point-five. This is the only glove I’ll ever need” I reassured my dad. Not to mention, a team-mate had just picked up the Ordonez model during Fall Ball and it happens to be a serious faux-paus to cop the same glove style as a team-mate. Said team-mate and I had played together on several provincial teams, regular season squads, and the District 5 BC games team. So I took the glove code seriously where he and I were concerned. 

It took me about 30 minutes of chucking a ball in the stiff pocket of each of the 1786’s I was considering  (along with conducting various other physical tests, such as inspecting creases in the leather for potential bunk break-in spots and putting the glove on my hand and looking at it in the mirror while pretending to field back-handers) to make my selection, cast the losers-out aside to be forgotten until now, and leave to embark upon a new season of promise and increased fielding percentage. 

"Can you please cut that out for a while, Evs?… That’s extremely annoying you know that?… EVAN, FOR GOD’S SAKE! ENOUGH!" My mother pleaded in vain as I sat in my sweatpants in the living room chair by the Christmas tree, pounding a baseball into the pocket of my new Wilson for hours on end. Occasionally, I’d get distracted by something or other and completely miss catching the ball as I whipped it and it would bounce away and smack into the wall or the TV cabinet or sliding glass door or whatever - that was when my mom would really freak out - but still I couldn’t be thwarted; I had a schedule to keep, and I was breaking this thing in the old fashioned way: fuck oil, fuck shaving cream, fuck the fucking microwave - I was breaking my new baby in with love. And so, I spent the entire Christmas break sitting in that chair in my sweatpants, smacking the ball into the glove, anticipating the season to come.

As things turned out, the proceeding baseball season (which, under the watch of Canadian Hall of Famer, John Haar, yielded some of my best defensive work) would be my last playing competitive baseball. What happened after that year is that I met Mikey and we decided to start a punk rock band, and it had become too time-consuming to play competitive baseball and do anything else.

But I loved baseball too much to give it up entirely so I joined a fastpitch Men’s beer-league team called the Cruisers and put my Wilson on display there, earning a Rookie of the Year trophy in 2001 without breaking a sweat. I held my position playing shortstop and second base for the Cruisers through bands, tours, college, jobs, girlfriends for ten years - every August swearing (for primarily logistical reasons) I would not be back the next year, but every March breaking my own promise.


Spring of 2011: the Vancouver Canadians announce that my favourite baseball player of all time, and arguably the best second baseman in the history of Major League Baseball - Roberto Fucking Alomar - would be making an appearance at Nat Bailey Stadium to sign autographs as part of the new Blue Jay’s farm club’s marketing campaign, and I don’t mind admitting that I had not been more excited about anything in a great while, and I made a point to get there early.

Deep tan, clean shave, fresh cut; Robbie graciously ploughed through an endless line of nostalgiac, mid-twenties-to-thirties autographseekers - all decked out with “retro” Jays memorabilia, and each with his (or her, in the case of local artist, Melanie Coles, who I ran into near the front of the line) own touching Roberto Alomar anecdote. Melanie’s trumped mine, revealing that she’d named her pet goldfish after our mutual childhood hero. 

"You named your goldfish ‘Roberto Alomar’?” I asked, rather impressed. 

"Yes" she bashfully admitted. Awesome, I thought, and might have stated, conscious though, of not wanting to appear to be aiding and accessorizing a chat-and-cut. I’d been in line an hour, being tortured by drunken recounts of Carter’s homer, and there was at least an hour’s wait behind me. Nobody in the whole scene was likely to gain a thrill off my lifting the rope for Melanie Coles or anyone else for that matter. So she moved on and I watched ahead as the only two people left between me and my idol took their sweet time letting the poor guy know how important he’s been in their lives and bullshit like that, et cetera. Fuck that, I thought, as I stepped to the plate and smacked my ball glove down on the table. 

"Hey bud, how you doing?" Robbie asked vacantly, his eyes darting every direction but toward mine, as he took my hand in his soft, soft Dominican grip and shook it. 

"It’s an honour to meet you" I told him, recognizing the rare feeling. I was hoping to God he’d get a look at my Wilson, put it on and say "Wow, that’s a real nice mitt, Slugger, what do you say we ditch the rest of this line-up and go toss a few? Boy, this really is a nice glove!" He’d be hocking a loogie in there and pounding the pocket with his fist. I’d be using his old SSK ’cause naturally, he brought it along in anticipation of this very scenario. I am, afterall, probably the only guy in the whole fucking yard that hasn’t asked him to say "Catch The Taste" all day; and he just wants to show his appreciation. 

"Thanks bud, here you go" scribbling on my glove in Sharpie marker his name with the number 12 beside it then handing it back to me. I was fucking ecstatic.

Infield Fly Rule, Revisited. [Originally posted Oct. 6, 2012 via the Isotopes]

Well, not a day into the MLB Postseason and already controversy is afoot. The infield fly ruling in yesterday’s Braves - Cardinals game has caused quite a stir in the baseball world and due to our having a tune called Infield Fly in which I vividly describe the rule and all its criteria, the internet has demanded we chime in on the call. Perhaps coming as a disappointment to some of our fans, and certainly most Braves fans - I personally side with the umps on this one. I’ve watched it over and over and I believe they got it right - perhaps unnecessarily, given the circumstances - but nevertheless, the call stands correct.

First, let’s revisit the criteria a batted ball must meet to be ruled an infield fly and cross-examine them against the play in question from yesterday afternoon:

1) Runners on first and second or bases loaded. Check.
2) Less than two out. Check.

Where things become hairy is where the judgement is applied by the umpiring crew to determine at game speed, whether a ball is 3) Playable by an infielder with ordinary effort. In question is NOT where the ball drops or where the infielder is positioned when he catches the ball - but ONLY, how ordinary was his effort to make the play. And in last night’s case, as deep as the ball was into left field, the shortstop Kozma did not at any point in the play exhibit extra-ordinary effort. No, in fact he had routed himself routinely out to where the ball would eventually drop, begun waving left fielder Matt Holliday off, and all but camped under it.

It was at this point only that the umpire made the infield fly call. However, the call was not late - it was made as early as was possible once Kozma’s level of effort to complete the play was determined.

Now, that addresses the ruling in yesterday’s game.

The other argument to be made - which I am more open to agreeing with - is that there is no possible way Kozma could have turned a batted ball to that depth of the outfield into a double play. That’s probably true. The Infield Fly Rule is in place to prevent infielders from dropping routine pop ups on purpose to hang-up tagging baserunners. At that depth, turning two on this play was not a likely outcome.

Perhaps the rule needs amendment. Perhaps players have evolved since that rule was written to a point where their ordinary effort can take them out of range for likely double-play trickery. Perhaps there should be a painted line on the field as a tertiary criteria before umpire judgement comes into play.

I wouldn’t go so far as to start painting more lines on fields, but it’s possible something could be suggested to black out the greyness at play in the current employment of the rule. However, that’s a side-argument that ought to be addressed within the rule itself and dealt with over the winter.

But as the rule stands - yesterday’s call was next to textbook. Ordinary effort by an infielder.

Victor Low’s Mom’s Volvo Turbowagon

                 The Ataris were in town coming off their big, slick, radio-hit cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” - and I convinced Mike we should catch the bus and Skytrain out to the Croatian Cultural Centre and trawl for drummers like we usually did where and when we anticipated a large crowd of teenaged punk rock enthusiasts would be assembled. Mike had completely given up on ever finding Matt, and showed diminishing interest in finding anyone at all to keep the beat in our band. It put me in the impossibly frustrating position of having to supply the band with both the optimism and the pragmatism it required to survive. Mikey was supposed to be the pragmatist. I knew we weren’t gonna find any Matt-calibre guy at some Ataris show, but I hoped we might find someone who would work - for now. So, I gathered our “drummer wanted” business cards while Mike packed himself a snack and explained to his parents that we would not be home for dinner. Changes in routine had the tendency to upset Mike’s mom and dad, and they resentfully set our places at the dinner table anyway as we departed for the bus stop at Park Royal Shopping Centre.

                “I’m gonna buy a motorbike” Mike stated plainly as we flashed our Photoshopped concession fare passes at the bus driver and situated ourselves in the plush comforts of the priority-seating area located up front of the empty eastbound bus.

                “What the fuck are you gonna do with a motorbike? You don’t even have a driver’s license”.

                “Pff dude, you don’t need a driver’s license for a motorbike”, Mike defended as I watched him toss his weathered JanSport on the seat beside him and unpack from it:

one (1) bottle of Yop 

one (1) plastic sandwich bag filled with trail-mix

one (1) loaded BananaGuard. A BanadaGuard, Mike had educated me at some point prior, is a plastic travel case designed (and purchased by Mike!) for the safe transport of single bananas. Without it, a banana is liable to get bruised.

                “you just gotta remove all the the identifying features - VIN, decals; headlamp, brakelamp, refectors, everything. All the gauges – speedometer, gas lights: gone…” he looked up at me, spinning the sandwich bag,  “want some trail-mix?”

                In the year I’d known him, Mike had never once failed to offer me something out of his buffet sack - which to me, revealed a subtle thoughtfulness about the guy if you consider that in response to his offerings I had never once failed to decline.

                Along with a picnic, Mike also never left home without a prescription container stuffed with marijuana; a second prescription container filled with clomazopam, which he self-prescribed, as-necessary using a blank prescription pad - procured industriously, as one could only be - and an assortment of other provisions which had a home rustling around deep inside his bag. Provisions like ecstasy, provisions like MDMA, provisions like a sewing needle and a Baby Ruth candy bar (which I may or may not get to later, or may have already gotten to), and newly added: provisions like whatever the shit was that was in the little bottle he was opening.

                “What’s that shit?” I asked with honest and extreme distain. Visine? GHB? I didn’t fucking know.

                “Hand sanitizer”. FUCKING HAND SANITIZER! Mikey was a fucking boyscout, lost in some uncharted wild where survival depended equally upon being fucked on every kind of narcotic attainable, and, acting in accordance of Canada Board of Health and Hygiene protocol for elementary school cafeteria ladies.

                “Smells like grapefruit.” I commented as he lathered up.

                “Yeap… dude, this bike goes two-hundred-and-fifty kilometres an hour” he went on, extracting the banana from the BananaGuard, “- it can outrun any car - even the cops”.

                “That banana looks pretty fucking green, man.” I told him.

                “I like ‘em green”.

 

                ——

 

                By the time we arrived at the Croatian Cultural Centre, the doors had already been open for a while and we were out of luck as far as encountering throngs of potential drummers or young and impressionable punk rock girls went, so naturally, we headed around back of the place in search of a way to get into the show, free-of-charge. And as usual, the Gods of Punk Rock were watching out for young Mikey and I.

                “Yo dudes, you going to the show?” a voice inquired from behind a tree.

                “Pff, nope” Mikey answered close to mockingly as we approached and matched the voice to a moppy-haired hesher taking a whiz on the tree.

                “Oh bummer, why not?” he asked, sounding legitimately bummed out about it, as he zipped up a pair of Mavis with a VIP lam hanging off them, which we both spotted, changing our tune in a beat.

                “‘Cause tickets are like eighteen fuckin’ bucks”. Mikey was on it, but I took over.

                “Yeah, we’re too broke, it’s gay”. We had mastered our routine.

                “Ah shit, I’ll get you dudes in - come on!” We followed the positive hesher in women’s jeans back around front as he explained to us that he played guitar in the band Rufio, which was the support act on this Ataris tour. He could have told us his band was opening for Nirvana on the moon and it wasn’t likely to excite us, but as long as it meant us not having to spring for tickets, we were eager to feign being impressed. Rufio’s guitar player ushered us past a dwindling line of Dickies-clad stragglers and told the girl with the stamp to stamp me and Mikey before promptly disappearing to charge his BlackBerry or whatever.

                The show itself went by largely forgettably, however Mike and I both agreed Rufio was a prime example of a band grossly misappropriating their wireless guitar rig equipment and made a pact never to do the same. The way we saw it, it didn’t need to be the X-Games.

                We filed out of the auditorium with everyone else, and amidst the crowd of teenage punks I spotted two guys we went to highschool with - Victor Low and Oliver Hoppus, the other two pop punk kids at West Van Secondary - and kind of like, our arch nemesises; though, by virtue of the fact we had a band and they did not, we knew we were cooler. And they knew we were cooler. And we knew they knew we were cooler. And they knew we knew they knew we were cooler.

                In actuality, Oliver Hoppus’s driver’s license insisted his surname was Holland, but as far as I was concerned, his tidy ensembles of dyed-blue hair, MXPX t-shirts, long Dickies shorts and knee-high socks were equally valid forms of identification and I felt it only befitting to rename him after his obvious fashion mentor, Blink-182 singer, Mark Hoppus, whose tame fashion stylings Oliver had co-opted and somehow tamed even further. Of course, back in those days Mikey and I too, were complicit in various fashion infractions, including-but-not-limited-to copping So-Cal Sk8ter trends, but it is innate behavior for pots to call kettles black, and that’s what growing up punk in Canada’s most affluent suburb is all about. The fact was we were all shitheads.

                “Yo Victor - ” I called out getting the attention of Victor Low, Oliver Hoppus and their dates, as Mike and I approached brazenly with just one thing on our minds.

                “What’s up, Evan.” Victor more or less stated. Pretty much zero civility had ever been lost between our camps. Even when Oliver asked us if he could play second guitar in our band, he had presented it like he was doing us a major favor, which naturally, I had declined with prejudice.

                “Can we get a ride back to Mike’s with you guys”? By Skytrain and bus, it takes an hour to get from the Croatian Cultural Centre back to Mike’s parents’ house on Sentinel Hill, West Vancouver, BC. By Victor Low’s Mom’s Volvo Turbowagon, I estimated it would take 15 minutes. Both options presented a Hell I’d have rather avoided, but one was a much faster, more comfortable brand.

                “I don’t think so man” he told me flatly. “I don’t have enough room”.

                “It’s a Turbowagon, you’ve got those tailgunner seats!” I appealed to his passive side.

                “I can’t do it, sorry”.

                “What? Come on, you’re gonna drive right up Taylor Way!” Mike argued in vain.

                “Sorry man”. What a fucker! Mike and I walked outside, scanned the loitering crowd, failing to identify anyone who looked like he must play drums, and left. We were annoyed, but as we walked through the parking lot Mike pointed out that we ourselves might well have declined a request as such coming from their likes, too, so -

                “Holy fucking shit, check it out!” I squealed, smacking Mike with one hand and pointing with the other. Mike didn’t know what Victor Low’s Mom’s Volvo Turbowagon looked like, but I sure fucking did. I went to middle school with him, too. And now we were standing there looking right at it, parked on the street, WITH THE FUCKING KEYS HANGING OUT OF THE DRIVER’S SIDE DOOR!! That’s his fucking car! Victor’s car!

                “OH FUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHKKKKKK!!” Mike moaned in disbelief, “What should we do? Should we take it? Noooo, we shouldn’t take it! Should we? Fuck dude, let’s just take it! Fuck that guy”! The mix of emotions we were both experiencing must be what happens to Cancer victims who get news of remission after Chemo Therapy.

                After a tough minute of deliberation, I grabbed the keys out of the door and we marched back toward the C.C.C, resolved to give Victor one more chance to not be a total douche-bag. We found the poor guy on his knees in front of his friends, frantically rifling through his backpack. Evidently, Victor had misplaced his keys. Sympathetic to their gang’s situation, Mike and I wasted no time breaking it down to the brass tax.

                “Listen man”, I told Victor, “we know you’re going right by Mike’s place, if there is any way you could possibly fit us into your car, we would really appreciate it. Please”.                                                       “You can drop us at a red light”, Mike chimed in, “Come on”.                                                  “I told you, I’m not giving you guys a ride! Besides, now I can’t even find my keys, you’ll probably get home faster by bus”.

                 And boy, was Victor Low right. Mike and I decided that for the logistical problems it would pose, we could not drive the car back to West Van. What might Mike’s parents’ think of a red ‘97 Volvo Turbowagon parked in the drive way, unexplained? Neither of us wanted to find out. And driving it anywhere else and ditching it would only put us in the same predicament we were already in of having to find a way back to Mike’s parents’ house via public transit or worse, by foot. Not to mention, involved parties might potentially feel like we had stolen it, which would probably cause trouble for us, however, if it did go that way I was fairly certain we could build a strong enough argument for entrapment, but it was impossible to say how a court might interpret the events; so, what we did was take the most sensible course of non-violent retaliation and sabotage that we saw available to us.

                 It was perfect because we knew Victor would never suspect himself to be stupid enough to leave his 18-inch key lanyard dangling from the car door while he took in a rock concert in the heart of East Vancouver; and by virtue of that generous self-perception, we knew he’d never, ever go on to imagine that in a turn against him of harsh cosmic irony, Mikey and I had been the guys to happen across the keys immediately after he’d shut down our pleas for a ride, prompting us to take the keys, walk to the Skytrain station and dump them on the tracks as we boarded a train back home. No, to Victor, it would remain a mystery unsolved. But to Mikey and I, it was simply our lives back in balance.

The Queers Are Still Here (Originally published Nov. 2010 issue of Beatroute Magazine.)

I watch a lot of Joe Queer interviews on Youtube. I’m not in the mood to get linky but if you ever find yourself killing time on the internet, look some up. He’s got his stock answers all prepared to deliver without fail or hesitation and he’s perfected the art of saying NOefffuckingFex with more disdain than even Jonny or Foat could pull off. The rare chances I get to talk to people that are, admittedly, heroes of one degree or another, I like to try not to hit them over the head with the stock typed questions they get every day. Here’s the unedited version of an interview I did with the King himself last year.

At the helm of a 28-year legacy, Joe King and his notorious New Hampshire-based punk rock band, The Queers are back out on tour, in support of a brand new album, Back To The Basement, which comes as a refreshingly rough and raw return to their early 90’s form and, according to Atlanta transplant, Joe Queer himself, fits right in with the band’s quintessential ’93 master-piece, Love Songs for the Retarded. “I kind of wanted to go back to that and get away from the pop punk stuff. I did that one song ‘Everyday Girl’ [off Back To The Basement] but that’s the only gay one on the whole album. We recorded just like we did Kicked Out Of The Webelos – just played it together and didn’t try to make some over-produced, piece-of-shit-album like everyone else out there”.

Beyond the usual prescription of endearing Joe Queer Brand punk rock name-dropping and satirical arrogance (I got punk points coming outta my ass / I knew GG when he was a wimp), Back To The Basement administers a heavy dose of reference to the good old days of punk rock with songs like “I Knew GG When He Was A Wimp”, “I’m Pissed”, “Keep It Punk” – and the title track “Back To The Basement” among others, which suggest perhaps, that the tour-wary King may be growing frustrated with the current state of punk rock.

“In the early days all the bands had a sense of humor. They used humor as a weapon. Bands these days take themselves way too seriously. I mean if you have the fucking cure for cancer fine, I’ll kiss your ass too; but just ‘cause you’re in some marginally successful little punk band doesn’t make you too fucking important”.

However; frustrated or not, 20-years-strong of being cooped up in an Econoline with his revolving cast of clowns (the validity of which to qualify as “The Queers” continues to be a topic of contention in many internet circles, if you can believe that) being cyclically bounced from the company’s touring ranks for various tour doctrine violations, and incredibly, Joe is still able to gain a thrill off life on the road.

“To be honest, I love doing it. Love seeing my pals all around the world, and I’ll tell ya – I worked off and on for over 10 years, year-round on a commercial fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire – sitting on my ass in a van ain’t exactly picking cotton out in the hot July sun in Alabama. As for the different line-up thing, hey – even if it’s me on stage with your grandmother on a ukulele wearing a grass skirt – if we’re playing Queers’ songs and I’m singing, it’s The fucking Queers”. According to Joe, the current Queers’ line-up consists of himself, Dangerous Dave on bass and a stable of three drummers they use as necessary. Along with that, a standing invitation is extended in the direction of 90’s-era fan-favourite, B-Face to join back up on bass for a tour or record whenever he wants.

“It’s a fun way to operate”, explains Joe, “It keeps it fresh”, and with over 30 members in and out of the band since their first tour in 1992, it could be argued that freshness has been the key to longevity for The Queers; and conversely, for a grizzled sea-farer such as Joe Queer – whose best skills are employed as a professional punk rocker – the longevity of his band may be the only key to his own freshness. “I owned one [restaurant] and was on the verge of buying another one, but I did one tour and said fuck this shit. No one is cheering for me when I’m flipping burgers; and except for screwing a few bar whores who are passable-at-best in the looks department I wasn’t getting laid much either. One tour with Screeching Weasel and then another one with Rancid and I sold out and started playing music full-time”.

All full-time music careers aside, despite his being an Atlanta resident and that city having a ball team in the play-offs this year, Joe was none-too-pleased at the prospect of being perceived as a Braves fan when questioned about his allegiance to his home-city squad.

 “Oh shit I hate the Braves. Never liked them. I live here ‘cause my wife likes Atlanta but I’m not a fan of the city that much and certainly not the Braves. I’m a Red Sox fan so I’m rooting for any team to beat the Yankees. I think the Braves suck – they won’t go anywhere. Christ the Phillies are going to go all the way and they deserve it, they’re a great team this year. Fuck the Yankees and fuck the Braves”.

A Take on the JJ Bean Unionization Movement, 2011.

The long and the short of it is that at some point last year, some disgruntled baristas and bakers at local coffee haven, JJ Bean, got together and tried to form a union, petitioning for what they vaguely addressed as better work-place conditions. Being friends with several anti-union advocates placed in the company, as well as being an ex-employee, fired with extreme prejudice, I felt I had a unique take on the matter. This was my letter to the forming union. It makes my own greatest hits of 2011 list.

"Okkkaaay assholes. Here’s a couple facts: 1. I worked at JJ Bean and was fired. 2. The only reason to have a union, like a few people have said here already, is to gain job security. Anyone who works for JJ Bean in a cafe has as much job security as they deserve for shelling out coffee with no fucking bathing mandate. Not only that, you’re getting paid a fair enough wage for the menial job you’re doing, AND, the intangible value of working for 11 bucks an hour for a company like JJ BEAN is worth an extra buck or two an hour. Seriously, when was the last time you got sent home for smelling like the Alf House? Never. That’s worth money. You can wear whatever you want and fucking drink free coffee all month. You can treat customers like assholes if they’re assholes. That’s worth fucking money too. You know how much fucking money I spend at Starbucks a month now since I quit that job? Like $100 a month.


It’s not the fucking Creative Director for fucking American Apparel. It’s a fucking coffee job. You bring no skills to the table that can’t be replaced by tomorrow. That’s the main point here. Let’s think for a minute, about what would happen in a negotiation between Neto, John and the union leader, let’s call her Beshele. The union would say we wanna go on strike for higher wages and better conditions, whatever they might be. And the employer, John and Neto, would say hmmm, well we could either give you what you want or hire someone to replace your ass by tomorrow. It’s not even a choice. THIS UNION WOULD HAVE NO BARGAINING POWER. You sell coffee for more than selling coffee is worth already. 

On the issue of Job Security: Everyone has three written warnings, so what’s the issue here? You wanna smoke dope on the job without reprimand? Dudes go on tour, and come back after a month and get their job back no problem. That’s beyond secure employment.

On this issue of unions in JJ Bean: I’m not fully against it. Drivers at JJ Bean should have a driver’s union. Myself and Dan were kicking that idea around while we were both employed as drivers, as we did bring a skill to the table that was not replaceable tomorrow, and given the company’s track record with employing clowns for drivers, myself included, it was not too far fetched to think they’d continue along that same path if all the drivers suddenly didn’t show up to work for a week. 

I was under-paid for the job and risk I incurred on the job. I got paid the same as a cafe supervisor and I actually almost died like 3 times in 5 months. I was hit by on-coming 18-wheeler once, and a bus once too. I almost killed many pedestrians. I had to get out of the truck and fucking yell at people every day. I injured my leg and had back problems relating to my job. I had to fucking operate a fork-lift. And I got paid less than fucking Mike LeRoy. Like 5 bucks less, per hour. That guy can’t even smile.

I had many legitimate complaints for management, and when I went to Neto with my concerns he always made an effort to sort me out fairly. I never feared that speaking out about work place grievances would jeopardize my employment. 

If you have a legitimate complaint, JJ Bean will fairly address it. But you have no legitimate complaint. With or without a union you have no bargaining power, so all a union will do is walk you right out of a job.

If you don’t like your shitty job, get a new one that pays more and affords you more intangible leeway. 

@evanwansbrough on twitter bitches. 

PS, Besh, I would have totally signed the petition even though I don’t think a union would help you improve conditions for cafe staff.”

Cashing Out.

Firstly, I don’t believe that music itself carries any inherent monetary value; nor do I believe that being a particularly gifted song-writer entitles someone to a pay-cheque any more than being Saudi Arabia’s greatest ice-sculptor does. Media’s value is dictated explicitly and exclusively by the market in which it exists; and furthermore, by the confines of the technology available within that market to convey the media; and the reality is that up until the advent of illegal downloading, the record industry had a stronghold on the music market by insisting that media (ie, an album or a song) is not separate from the technology - vinyl record, compact disc, cassette, etc - it comes packaged as, which made it near impossible to enjoy the media without owning the technology, as well. But since the advent of illegal downloading, the fact has become clear: media on its own is not a product. You can’t own an infinitely duplicable, intangible media document. You can only own the technology required to access it, and unfortunately for the record industry, their technology is obsolete.
Illegal Downloading. Downloading songs for free off the internet is only illegal because the big record labels got a bill passed to make it so. There is nothing morally objectionable about listening to some songs, regardless of how you came about them. Bands and labels will guilt you until they’re blue in the face about taking food out of their childrens’ mouths, etc, by illegally downloading their tunes, but given that it’s not 1996 anymore, every musician and record label is well aware and inherently accepting of the risks involved in recording and releasing music. EVERYONE CAN GET IT FOR FREE. YOU KNOW THAT BEFORE YOU START. PLEASE CLICK THE BOX IF YOU ACCEPT THESE TERMS. Don’t gimme this morality shit; you signed up buddy, now evolve or perish, but please please please don’t fucking complain. Music consumers aren’t robbing you - you are handing over your goods as soon as you make them public.
When considering all of this, it’s important to understand the major distinction between a song-writer, and a song-writer whochooses to pursue a career as a recording artist in the business of packaging and marketing their media. Where does this sense entitlement to earn a living off writing some songs come from? You know what I’m fucking great at? Matching my ball caps with my sneakers. Every time, if I have to. But so-fucking-what? Until a market exists for that particular skill, it’s not gonna earn me so much as a smack in the dick, let alone a thriving career. And even if there was a market for that skill, it would have to be pretty fucking big and untapped before it seemed like a fiscally responsible business venture to attempt to document my skill, transfer it to some kind of technology and market it as a product in hopes of selling it for profit.
The days of cashing cheques off selling songs as products are past us and the only thing to do is invent new ways to get the money out of music consumers pockets and into ours. Or, resign our music aspirations to the hobbies section of our lives and accept the hit.

Cheeseburger, No Cheese.

All ethical and nutritional considerations completely ignored, the real fucking problem with McDonald’s restaurants is that they no longer display their complete menu on the wall, and as a result of that, the ordering process has become subject to the literal interpretation of whomever is working the counter.

Places like Wendy’s or Burger King – I don’t know who’s seen this – each item offered is listed on the menu wall, clearly distinguishable from each of the other items, using specific language. Employ that same language when placing your order and you’re almost guaranteed to get what you want – no further line of questioning required. But at McDonald’s, they don’t do it like that. 

“Look, no dollar-thirty-nine menu at all – I don’t even see fries up there” my palSean observed somewhat bewilderedly as we stood ready to place our orders, “You just have to know”.

Sean was right; you do just have to know; and granted, most people do know exactly what they want to eat at McDonald’s without having to consult a menu. It’s a craving-bait operation. However, the negligence of McDonald’s to clearly display every menu option in specific language puts the onus on me as a customer to possess the skill-set required to communicate my order to the person across the counter in accordance with their own interpretation of, and familiarity with the menu options; and consequently, this has created an entirely unnecessary and completely avoidable obscurity in the McDonald’s restaurant ordering process.

“Can I help the next person in line please” the girl across the counter asked me.

“Yeah” I told her, “can I get three hamburgers and a medium fries, please.”

“Three hamburgers? Do you want cheese on those”? The girl was not joking.

What?” You work at fucking McDonald’s! Your profession is taking orders all day long! You should know that you offer a motherfucking item called a motherfucking Hamburger which exists solely to provide a no-cheese alternative to the Cheeseburger, so why in the absolute fuck would you feel compelled to ask me if I want cheese on my three Hamburgers? You wanna know why? Lack of specific language in the ordering process. Put Hamburger - $1.39 back up on the wall; Cheeseburger - $1.49 right under it, and give me one chance to employ some specific language. At that juncture, the professional order-taker would also get one chance to execute the relay of my order to her computer and complete it, without it being subject to literal interpretation.

[Side note: At Burger King, if you order a Whopper, they will always ask you if you’d like cheese on it, but I take no issue with that; the distinction being that the Whopper with cheese is just a Whopper, with cheese. There is no Whopper With Cheese on the menu – the cheese is just an add-on – and if you do green-light the cheese, they still wrap the thing in standard Whopper packaging. At McDonald’s, it’s two distinctly separate product offerings, indicated by, a) each coming in their own respective Hamburger orCheeseburger wrapping paper, and b) both – until recently – being listed on the menu individually.]

So anyway, I stood there impossibly trying to make eye contact with both of her eyes at once. “No, no cheese, I want three plain burgers”. As I said it I was struck with the realization that I had just fucked myself, but perhaps out of spite, or perhaps already formulating this essay in my head and in need of justification, I let it ride. Three minutes passed and I sat down and unwrapped my food. No pickles, no onions. No mustard, relish, ketchup – just bread, and meat.

“Fucking look at this!” I said, flipping my snack open like a paperback for Sean to see what I had. “Bread, and fucking meat”. Admittedly, it was the term plain rather than regular that had fucked me over upon having to clarifymy desire for no cheese – but my point here is that I wouldn’t have to monkey around with either of those terms if the menu was already implementing a standardized set of specific terminology and language. Hamburger would be enough.

“You should take those back” Sean told me, laughing. Obviously, there were several measures of immediate recourse to be considered; and like anyone, I’ve had dreams of sending a bunk order back through the air, bound for the shift-managers greasy face, or maybe up at where the menu should be, but in all those dreams there’s ketchup and mustard and relish getting splattering all over the place; errant pickles and shit. In this particular case, I supposed, there would not be much glory in seeing two dry buns and a rubber patty bounce off a Minute Maid sign; so on I chewed, defeated.

“Cheeseburger, no cheese” Sean said, biting into his Big Mac with all the compliments of the house. I looked up at him, coaxing some elaboration. “From now on you just gotta say Cheeseburger, no cheese, see what they think ofthat”.

I Need To Find A New Place To Get Coffee [Originally posted Aug. 12, 2009]

I need to find a new place to get coffee. See, I’ve been frequenting the Starbucks down the street from my parents house in Dundarave long enough now that all the full-timers in there know what I want without my having to tell them; I get to the head of the line and whoever happens to be working simply verifies with me “Grande Quad Americano?” and all I have to do is give ‘em half a nod and a look that says you fucking know it. Because they do fucking know it. My dad thinks it’s pretty amazing these coffee people can remember everyone’s drink, but I’ve worked enough retail jobs to know that ain’t no crowning achievement. It’s just repetition – you catch on pretty quick. Only once have I reached the counter at the Dundarave Starbucks and not ordered a Grande Americano. In case you don’t know, Grandemeans Medium, which is what I like to call it. Americano means they make it fresh when I order it rather than pouring me a cup of “drip” from the coffee maker. Justin Banal got me hooked on Americanos. And Quad means they make it with four shots of espresso. Now, I’ve never once ordered a coffee and stipulated that they put four shots of espresso in it, but often they’ll ask if I’d like a fourth shot on the house, and naturally I say fuck yeah to shit like that every time, and now at this place I don’t even have to because they’ve got it dialled, and in itself, that’s not a problem; in fact, I’m quite fond of it because it saves me from having to explain which cup I mean by “Medium” the times I do have to verbalize my order. The problem is that this has involuntarily entered me into a social contract with these people whereby they provide me with excellent customer service (relative to the job they are performing – I guess…), and in reward for that service I am encouraged and perhaps, expected to drop some change into the tip jar. I’ll spare you the essay on the merits and etiquettes of tipping, because who could say it better than Mr. Pink? But let’s just say I would gladly be required to place my coffee beverage order with words each morning, if it meant being exonerated from this stupid obligatory tipping business. My coffee costs $2.63 after tax, so if I’m paying with a Loonie and a Twoonie, fine, take your 37 cents. I don’t like the principle of it, but the way I look at it, it buys me out of a little awkwardness. But today I really got hosed; I paid with a five dollar bill and my plan was to keep two bucks from my change and throw down a tip of 37 cents plus whatever else was in my pocket – about 40 more cents, but when I pulled it out, a couple nylon Jim Dunlop .60s were in the mix too – I was trying to do this all with one hand for some reason – so when I tried to dump only the small change out of my hand into the tip jar, I lost grip on the Twoonie too because it was positioned in my hand between the guitar picks and the other change, and I ended up retaining only the Dunlops and one shiny copper cent. I just stood there, evaluating my situation. Would it be wrong to reach in and take the two dollar coin back? Larry David would do that I thought to myself and so should you, you fucking pussy! But I didn’t. All I did was stand there like a chump who just paid $5.40 for a medium coffee all because I go in the place enough that they’ve memorized my drink and thereby made me feel obligated to reward them for their trick. I need to find a new place to get coffee.