Deadlines, lifelines and the Canadian Dream

Monday, 12 March 2007 — 7:42pm | Music, Pianism, Studentpolitik

I am in the middle of what is and probably will remain my busiest week of the academic year, which might explain why I’ve logged as much time as I have engrossed in Fire Emblem, shedding nostalgic happy-tears for the Disneyland fireworks, not winning the McGoun Cup in spite of only having to argue for abolishing animal “rights” (by the way, a thanks to my partner Sharon and congratulations to Brent and Marek), and dumping a few words on the Internet where they won’t be marked for credit. In the parlance of Ferdinand de Saussure, I’ll just assume my homework assignments will synchronically emerge all at once as the articulated difference of each other.

First of all: no complaints about the SU election. I know I gave Board of Governors Representative-Elect Paul Chiswell a bit of a drubbing in my endorsements, but after listening to some convincing arguments that I should reconsider, my ballot ended up reading: 1) Eruvbetine, 2) Chiswell, 3) Guiney. Given that Chiswell topped Guiney by a mere nine-vote margin on the second ballot, I think we can safely say that little last-minute decisions like mine tipped the balance. This is one example of where it is okay to change your mind about something at the last minute without telling anybody until much later. It’s not, you know, a disingenuous betrayal of fundamental ethical principles, an act of complete disrespect for your friends, or anything like that.

Moving right along, then. I never did write about how this month marks the 50th anniversary of Edmonton’s very own Yardbird Suite, which means they’re running a terrific concert series until the date on the calendar rolls back to 1. If I ever make it as a credible musician (by the standards of the best musicians, whose opinions are the only ones that count), I’ll owe a debt to this place, if only because their Tuesday jam sessions are one of the best opportunities that exist for youngsters who think they can play jazz to prove it (and subsequently realize in variously-proportioned equilibria that in some ways they can, and in some ways they can’t).

Naturally, I attended the opening show on 2 March featuring Chris Andrew, Tommy Banks and Ken Chaney five feet away from me on the Yamaha grand. (The one they pull out on Tuesdays is a Baldwin.) Needless to say, I managed to get prime seats by showing up right when the doors opened, partly because I learned my lesson the last time I tried to see the good Senator play and the Governor-General took my seat.

The curious thing about leaving your coat and Bacardi on your table so you can order a bowl of popcorn at the bar is that everybody presumes your entire table is occupied by an invisible power elite with so much confidence in its muscle, it doesn’t even see the need to guard its drinks. So the fine establishment on 11 Tommy Banks Way filled to capacity, but the table right by the piano looked effectively reserved. I didn’t keep all the seats to myself, of course. A family of four walked in a few minutes before the fashionably-late-as-always commencement of the show, and the when-will-my-popcorn-be-done roulette wheel determined them the lucky winners.

Nice folks. Impeccably nuclear: a sax-playing father in the employ of the Anglican Church, a singing mother undergoing a perpetual shoulder massage, a teenage daughter who plays the piano at a performing arts school, and a younger son with his feet up on the edge of the stage who had never seen a jazz combo before. And a couch-to-television distance away, Senator Tommy Banks playing “Misty” for me. I’d reserved a table for the American Dream. Or something very much like it, but with a certain element of neighbourly charity that Canadians like to think of as their national characteristic, so long as they’re not affiliated with opposing hockey teams, or didn’t ask and didn’t tell. If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying the music that speaks to you right next to an equally enthusiastic father explaining the show to his son in the same way an Shakespeare aficionado would initiate someone new to Elizabethan drama who is captivated by the ghost-conversing, madness-feigning, spy-killing, pirate-escaping, the-rest-is-silencing action onstage without really understanding the words, try it sometime. It’s great blogging material for those long nights when you have too much work to do.

Apparently they have three pianos in their house, and I’m invited to play them. In retrospect, I should have jotted down the address.

On a final note, watch this video of my kid brother skating, and tell me, at 0:54, if he is not a gentleman.


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