Tuesday, October 13, 2009


There were days that I remember from touring with my various bands where I just lost track of days. There were days on my trips to Europe, especially when I stopped journaling, where I just stopped taking note of the calendar because it was too heavy a concept; a point where I might disconnect from the moment-to-moment goings on of the trip in order to control my future (not likely) or revisualize my past (silly). Yesterday was just such a day; the day when days stop meaning much.

I should probably recap the last three days as best I remember them and then alert you to the fact that by the time that you read this I will have remembered things that I should have put in the text that were probably important enough to warrant space. However, until then you just get the bare bones.

It was generally agreed by my travel partner, Jorge, and I that Montreal was a most exciting, albeit bizarre, stop in our travels. As the attached pictures might suggest, our time at Soundcentral Records was rather productive, informative, and enlightening (in a social sense). While the turnout was not a stellar one, our trial-by-Montreal-fire was stellar in a few ways.

Soundcentral is a rather cool record store located near Rue St. Catherine
(Montreal's main drag). We loaded in and were instantly drawn to the fact that there was a lot of vinyl (one of my former downfalls), and a cafe vibe. Setting up shop, I found a pretty good angle at which to shoot and settled in for a minute. Spoiler, the promter, introduced himself (he is the guy in the flanel shirt) and alerted me that there were three people ready to be photographed. Perfect...

Next thing that I know Erin finds her way in front of my lens and I am sto
ked. A most beautiful Montreal-er, I ended up shooting about a hundred pix of her in three different sessions, between a whole mess of impromptu "silly" shots, and a few serious shots. At any rate, I enjoyed photographing her and she seemed stoked to show Jorge and I around Montreal a bit later that evening. After shooting 6 barred folk, and shooting 3 or 4 other folk, we wrapped it up and toured Montreal's party district.

We were shown around by three Montreal-ers in a most tourist friendly way. As we made our way to the Copacabanna, a Caribbean inspired Indian joint, for dinner Montreal's Friday night social situation was just getting started. Montreal is serious about its summer social scene mostly becuase October signals a long, cold, shitty winter. So people make the most of it. The streets are crowded, the bars are crowded, and for the most part the city explodes with activity that often spills out onto the streets; and this freaks me out sometimes.

It was at the point when I had wrapped up dinner that I regre
tted not bringing my camera because what happened afterwards was not something that generally happens to me in my normal Philadelphia existence. Unusual circumstances took us to a "GOTH" nightclub where we were entertained by a young transvestite folk singer who took great liberty with his between-song poetry/satire/rants that covered such diverse topics as getting high, the giving tree, and people just don't understand me. While this all sounds like it could be art-school banter, it was laid out in a stripped down, comedic, sing-songy way that was actually pretty cool. Needless to mention that the clientelle, most looking like expats from an Interpol music video (all dressed up in black and red and white suits and such), made the visuals more than a touch on the surreal side. Realizing that we were only supposed to "come in and check things out before we decided to pay (or not pay) the $8 cover" we split for a different spot where our host worked on occasion. It was a "PUNK" club.

I cannot remember the name of our "PUNK" club experience, but the literal translation is something like "The Electric Ass(?)" This spot has been a punk-rock stand by for like 25 years and most of its party crowd were definitely not born when this club first opened its doors. With a drinking age of 18, um, yeah, the crowd was young as fuck. Floor one was a cluster fuck of metal-heads, punks, and kids watching hockey on one of the 20 televisions that dotted the back-bar area of the club. One of our "barred for life" participants, an older punk rocker guy who spoke poorly in English worked the first floor as a bar-back and gave us the nod to go upstairs without having to pay the $8 (what an interesting cost for floor entry) cover.

Upstairs was a fucking mess. One part cave and one part industrial wasteland, the floor was covered with every genera of underground social experiment known to the 21st century. There were metalheads, punks, poppy punkers, gothy rockers, hip-hopsters, and other kinds of folks that you will either find dotting the stands at the ex games or po
go-ing at the Warped Tour to the sounds of the times.

The dancefloor on floor 2 was just out of control. As we made our way through some hidden hallways, and emerging onto what amounted to a WWE cage-match-like dance floor, we found about 15 kids "moshing" to punk, metal, hip-hop, and shit like that, while throngs of other
teenagers stood in a circle nodding acceptingly of their peer's dancing style. Jorge, a beer in each hand, jumped in and began doing what I think that we used to refer to as "the skank." While he was more-or-less just kidding around, it seemed like he got the thumbs up from the 18 year old crew of judges because everybody began emulating his dance. A few songs later, a heavy one I recall, I jumped into the pit and began what one would call the "picking up change" dance, followed by the "start the lawnmower" dance. Seconds later I was thrown to the floor, trampled, and kicke, and I was done. As I pulled my lame ass off of the mosh floor (and just in time), the DJ qued up a HATEBREED (yes, Hatebreed) song and the floor erupted with floor punchers, wind-millers, and moshers of all shapes and sizes. It was fucking crazy (in a comedic sort of way), and I believe at that point I was done with my social experiment. I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

However, while waiting for our crew to reassemble I hobbled over to the bar area to chill and struck up a conversation with a woman (a very hot woman) who shared with me that it was her birthday, but little else. She only spoke French. My non-existent French tried to understand her but I could not. So, since it was her birthday I just bought her a drink and we shared in a moment of the language of alcohol before her friends grabbed her and pulled her onto the dancefloor to dance to a Sublime song. Lame.

Anyway, we assembled the posse and headed back to the record store. It was now 3am. I had seen so many drunk teenagers, and had been spoken down to in French just enough to warrant wanting to go to the home of our host and sleep; but we did not. Upon arriving at the record store there was more drinking, talking, and number exchanging. This little wind-down was probably the most deserved and necessary interaction of the evening. We parted ways with hugs, kisses, and number exchanges, and made our way to the suburbs where we were going to be spending the night.

30 minut
es later we were in the burbs and sleeping. It was sleep well spent. Montreal blew me away in many ways. Our people were fucking so amazing. The rest of the people, the ones littering the streets trying to get drunk and laid, um, well, they were just joke fodder. As predicted, right...?

Thank you to our new Montreal-er friends for being so awesome to us.


The next morning we were on our way back to Toronto to stay the night with my friend Katya and her family. I will not go into detail on my history with Katya and the Toronto crew, but let me just say that for the past 10-years I have sorely missed my connection to that city and, at its heart, was Katya. In the early 90's I would visit Toronto about every other month, and Katya once made an impromptu drive to visit me in York, PA (yeah, who goes there) just to hang out. So, things all changed when I shipped off to grad school and she got married. Seems like both of those activities, together or separate, promote a decisive inability to be TOO impromptu, and so our friendship waned. On a positive not, it never died because, dammit, we are friends again. Fuck Yeah.

Jorge and I landed in the epicenter of bike messenger culture of Toronto at a place called Jet Fuel; a high-end coffee shop in the Cabbage-Town section of east Toronto. The coffee there was so strong that it may have been responsible for both Jorge and my inability to find a restful sleep some 6 hours later at the casa di Katya, but it was soooooo fucking good. And after a 6-boring-fucking-hour drive between metro Montreal and metro Toronto, we needed a good coffee buzz in order to function highly while meeting Katya's family.

A phone call and some directions later we arrived at her home and met the fam. We were summarily fed and put up, and then we spent the rest of the night just hanging out in one of the warmest homes in which we've stayed all tour. I shot some family photos, caught up with an old friend, ate some more food, and then retired to the loft for some sleep. The next morning, officially Canada's Thanksgiving (Columbus Day in the states) I walked the streets in search of coffee and whipping cream, and then returned to the house with only one of them. Played some street hockey with Katya's boys, and then we packed up and prepared to drive the 6 hours across the US border and down south to Pittsburgh. Immediately, upon pulling away from Katya's house I remembered why I used to visit Toronto so frequently; BECAUSE IT FUCKING RULES. Not only are its people fucking amazing, but it is just a big, beautiful, amazing city; with some pretty cold winters as I remember.


I officially handed the wheel over to Jorge just outside of Erie after driving about 3.25 hours under a hazy, sunless sky, while listening to a lot of new wave music and driving nearly 85 miles per hour the entire way (except when crossing the border). No sooner did Jorge take the wheel and I feel immediately to sleep. I am sleeping much better on this trip than I was before leaving for the trip, but with the additional work of driving and taking photographs and stuff like that (not to mention moshing it up in dancefloor pits of Montreal), I seem to need more sleep than every before. Anyway...

We got lost a few times trying to find the Morning Glory Cafe in the Morningside section of Pittsburgh. Finally, finding our way there we reconnected with Stefan. We shot a few folks for the book, including the bass player for Aus-rotten and the singer for Submachine. Following the shoot we made our way back to Jessie's house (a fellow messenger from Philly, now student in Pittsburgh) and then to an after-hours speakeasy in the basement of an art gallery in downtown (ghost town) Pittsburgh.

Like I said, I've been missing lots of photo ops as a result of not taking my camera with us following our slated photo shoots but, well, it is needless to say that we are getting into some really cool shit as a result of our travels. The vibe on the road is quite pleasant and our hosts have been some of the most amazingly patient and sweet folks that one could hope to know/meet/want to keep in touch with.

Early this morning Jorge woke me up, as planned, to take him to the train station. At 6:45am I dropped him off and instantly felt a weird feeling in my stomach. Jorge was a most amazing travel companion and a huge help in almost every situation. He is patient, forgiving, funny, and super-loving. We talked a lot about future uncertainties, and I appreciated every second of his presence. From this point on it is Stefan and I until tour's end in November. To Jorge i am eternally greatful.


  1. Jorge was hilarious. I especially loved how confused he was by the wedding/show and Degrassi.