August 14, 2010

I wanted to mention briefly for anyone that still reads this, that I have put my focus on a new website: FourSides.

I thought setting up my own domain name has been a long time coming, and I wanted to drive myself to write more. When something is free, it’s easier to put off (like joining a gym versus working out at home).

I may return to writing more personal stuff on this blog, but for now, it will lay dormant.

Here are some of the latest posts:


Pathways, a DCMF Review 2009 Edition

July 21, 2009

A journey always has a beginning and an end, a home and a destination.


On most of the modern trips, there is a sound track that follows us every step of the way, whether it’s a few albums or the whistling wind through the trees with a few birds singing. The trip up to the Dawson City Music Festival is quite the journey that makes you feel like you have climbed up and down a mountain, or gone for a long stroll at an easy pace, or just went through the most frantic of races imaginable. Everyone’s journey up to and through the festival is different, but the one thing in common is that we all enjoy it. I never saw a depressed and sad face up in Dawson while I was there. The saddest people were the ones who could not go up there. If you’re thinking the RCMP officers don’t like this weekend, I was told by one that they do look forward to it.

Arriving in this town at any hour of the day, you cannot help but feel like those poor schmucks from the Gold Rush era: exhausted, supplies in tow, hunting out a place to hunker down in the most ideal situation, but always settling for something less than you expected. This town is completely different from Whitehorse. The hectic pace of highway life turns into a slow rumble as tires meet the gravel as you cross over the Klondike River bridge. People lumber down the wooden sidewalks of downtown, buildings fall apart as you watch, even the river flows slower than by Whitehorse where there are large signs warning of the rushing currents. If there was ever a place where time seemed at a stand still, that place would be Dawson.

100_3131.JPGThe exception to this quiet rule of the town is a place that comes with an official name (Minto Park), an unofficial but common one (The Tent), and a noun that somehow describes a place but doesn’t actually mean a place at all (Music). You can mention to the festival goer that, “I’m going to Minto Park/The Tent/the Music,” and that person will understand exactly where you meant. It is the place that is rarely empty – technicians, volunteers, kids, festival goers, and, of course, musicians. The Tent always has this tidal wave approach to it every time I entered it. There would be quietness, but then a wave of people would come crashing in, rock the tent, then disappear for a break – most likely crashing into the Big Rock Beer Gardens – only to return with more force for the next set of musicians coming on stage. The only reason why this festival is held in the summer time versus the winter is because the noise from the tent would certainly cause avalanches through the river valley. For the freeloader festival goer, the music can be heard just as clearly in the beer gardens to the camping ground across the river from the town.


With all the places to go and hang out in this town, your path always intersects with some group of people going from one place to another. Majority of the time, the place the people are leaving from or heading to was The Tent. It’s a topic of discussion and debate: when to go, why should you go there rather than going somewhere else, how exactly to get to the Tent, and who is all there compared to who is at The Pit (a bar), The Midnight Sun (another bar), Gerties (casino), or any number of house parties or collectives happening in the area. I would suspect that if we had traced everyone’s footsteps with GPS, all those pathways would burn as bright a red as the sun in the smokey haze of the forest fire smoke in the valley as they intersected the tent area.


It is impossible to describe all the vibrations in the air coming out of The Tent, as well as the Palace Grand, or the gazebo, and so forth. To do so would be a review so long it would make Robert Service roll in his grave, and extremely difficult as there were many acts playing at the same time. It is fitting that there were thunderstorms after Saturday night, because the sounds being created were incredibly powerful and had people bumping into each other at high frequencies. The energy was already high when this alien-like group came onto the stage, took us all into our hands and molded us into a crazy bunch. From the first words of the song that escaped Ryan Guldemond’s lips, “O my heart is a fish out of wat-er,” our attention was with them.

When the twin female vocals kicked in from Molly Guidemond and Debra-Jean Greelman, I was already sold that my wallet would be lighter by the end of night and my hands would be clutching onto their CDs. There are many siren voices up in Dawson, but these two ladies were the ones that could have easily drawn me into following the river down a waterfall to my doom.



Mother Mother – straight from Vancouver, proudly Canadian.

100_3324.JPG Josh Dolgin may call himself a musician, but what he brought to the stage following Mother Mother was more like an experiment in what happens when you release an insane asylum patient and put him in front of instruments. From the Moby-with-hair look that I saw, to the creating multiple loops on a keyboard with a melodica (a what? this ), everything this guy did on stage made me speechless, but also tapping my foot like crazy to his funky beats. Through the entire concert, you couldn’t tell nor care what was happening outside of the tent. In fact, it was raining pretty hard, and the walk back to the ferry was of muddy roads. A common sight were the crowds racing for shelter (Gerties made more money because of the bad weather, I am sure of it),


At the end of the night, strolling down the same dusty streets as the pioneers a hundred years ago, there is a calm before the storm. The skies are grey, the streets have a few people walking by to their final destination, and the cars drift by. A group of us head towards the ferry, huddle around in the cold and wait for our lift to the other side. The ferry arrives and we scamper across the metal deck to find a spot on the side railing, looking across at the town as it gets smaller and smaller as we approach the other side. You think of it as an end to the journey, being shut off from the rest of the world (no power on the otherside of the river, and the ferry stops at 3 a.m.), but instead it is the beginning of another kind of journey. The memories created from the night have their own path in your mind, from birth to death, that will last a life-time. You pause on the other side of the river to look across, take it in, hold a breath, then remember that it all begins anew the next morning, whether it is a return for the last day of music, or the long trip back home. Either way, you are satiated with a soul full of music, a stronger spirit built through the community of the music festival, and at peace while being surrounded by some historic and special scenery.

Dawson City, thanks for the memories, and may our paths cross again in the future.



June 12, 2009

Quick note to anyone who’s interested that you can now find me at

On Secrets

June 12, 2009

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

What compels us to hold within those bundles of joy, of embarrassment, of darkness, and only share them with a select few, if anyone?

The Migration of the Urban Caribou

April 25, 2009

The urban caribou are not to be mistaken from their more tamer cousins, the Porcupine herd to the north. They are, in fact, much more wild than they appear, with appearances ranging from the slumped and baggy-jeaned males, to the raggy-haired females. Generally, urban caribou are a solitary creature, but twice a day – once in the morning, once more in the later morning – they come together in a great urban migration.

The migration itself starts in the late evening when the sun begins to set. The caribou are seen leaving their established homes, standing more upright and put together than they will be in twelve hours. The males are wearing their ball-caps with the bills forward, hoodies are stainless, and shoes are tied. Females are wearing their jackets, have a fresh scent of perfume clinging to them, and their shoes are tied as well. They wander out of their homes, closing the doors carefully behind them, locking them if need be. Depending on the time of year, they make their way to the taxis waiting for them, and the taxis form a caravan on the roads heading towards downtown. In the warmer parts of the year, the migration goes by foot over the bridge and towards the bar strips. They meet at the bars en masse, gathering in the queues to catch up on the week’s events, and bicker over who will be paying the cover charge and who will be paying the first round of drinks. More often than not, the dumber of the urban caribous ends up paying for both; but do not pity them for they are your newest best friend if you ever happen to come across one.

Inside the bars, the urban caribou blends in with the other bar attendees. It is extremely difficult for all, but the jaded bar regular, to distinguish them from the cougars, the young bucks, the bar owls, the fairy princesses, and the old bears. People are out to enjoy themselves, so separating themselves into different classes becomes unimportant. The distinction between the groups becomes clear once again when the lights of the bar come on at closing time. The cougars have left the bar with their prey, as have the young bucks – some having disappeared with a cougar at some point in the night. The bar owls are still perched at the bar sipping on their drinks, slurring their words with the bartenders, and only leave once thrown out. The old bears have long gone home to pass out and smoke their pipes, and the fairy princesses have been touching up their makeup throughout the night and look as perfect as when they entered the bar – most of the time, at least. What remains after these other creatures have left are the urban caribou.

The males now have their ball-caps slid to the side, or backwards, or flipped inside out, or are missing altogether and have a bad case of hat hair. The hoodies that started off fresh now have at least one stain running down the length of the front. Belts are looser, or undone completely, and their shoes are now untied with the laces dragging behind them. Unlike the fairy princesses, the female urban caribous have not been touching up their make-up. Or if they were, they did so while slightly inebriated causing the viewer to mistakenly think that the makeup was applied by a male urban caribou instead. Together, the urban caribou stand alone as a group, and file out of the bar towards the waiting cabs to go to the next party.

While at the house parties, it is unclear as to what occurs. No one really wishes to visit a house party where there are urban caribous to be found, or if they mistakenly walk into a house party and find urban caribous, they leave as quickly as they arrived. To be sure there is plenty of drinking and rabbling, spilt drinks, and perhaps some, um, pairings of females to males.

As the sun rises over the city, people are outside mowing lawns, and coffee is brewing, the next migration occurs. For unexplained reasons, these parties end around the same hour, even though no one is actually watching a clock while at these parties. The dumb caribous start the migration by freaking out at the hour of day and calculating in their heads how many hours of sleep they will get before work/school – regardless, they will be late for work. Next go the females, escaping the males that are hitting on them, and then follow the males chasing after said females. The doors are almost always left open as they leave, or are slammed hard. At this point, the urban caribou is only able to think about three things: sleep, sex, and more drinking.

Down the sidewalks they come, a herd of slumbering, stumbling, swearing messes. Some wipe their noses after a little too much fun, arms slink around waists and then are thrown off, and the foolish caribou cracks open a can stopping the herd in its footsteps for a moment, until they realize it is a Budweiser and not a Canadian or Kokanee. It always takes the urban caribou three times as long to make it home compared to the time it took them to reach the bars, but time is something the urban caribou has on its side. They split off into their pairings or walk alone once they pass a few blocks from their house parties, and when they enter their homes, they crash out to sleep hard.

The urban caribou needs plenty of rest. The migration of the urban caribou will begin anew in a matter of hours.

At the Hotel: Badasses

January 31, 2009

Working at hotels gives you plenty of opportunities to serve the guests and tourists coming in to ask questions. In the summertime, you’re usually so busy taking care of their needs, that it’s a struggle to find the time to have some fun. In the wintertime, you have so much time on your hands, that it’s a struggle to stay focused on the guests. And, of course, as a guest in the hotel, you’re free to do whatever you like. There is very little the hotel can do to prevent stuff from happening, and there is not much we can do after the guest leaves, either. We’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place at times. All we can do is learn and move on.

Neverless, there are fun times to be had, and most of the time, these actions would be classified as badass.

  •  a night auditor once told me about a fellow staff member who was living in the hotel that liked to pay visits at night. This fellow would come out of his room, go into the bar, pour himself draft beer, and come back to read comic books while the auditor was working. They’d talk late into the night, eat chicken wings, or any other snacks they could find. There would be some awkward times when a guest would come to check in late or check out early in the morning, but more often than not, things were sensible – if a drunk person at the front desk can be deemed sensible.
  • one front desk agent liked to party. This is a generality, but people working at hotels tend to party and know how to drink. On several occasions, this front desk agent managed to stumble into the hotel lobby (alone or with someone) after the bars closed late at night. Being in the hospitality industry, the night auditor liked to help people, so allowed this agent to get a room. In the morning, the agent came out for lunch, grabbed a plate of Chinese food, brought it back to the room and sat down. He had a few bites of it, and then was called away and left. The housekeepers entered the room to see the plate of food, but no one had a clue who was actually in the room until later. Call it CSI: The Hotel.
  • One housekeeping manager was rather fed up with how things were being operated, so liked to take his smoke breaks in the laundry folding area. Not right next to the laundry, because that wouldn’t be very sanitary. 
  • Several other managers living in the hotel, have liked to take smoking breaks in the their rooms. Not cigarettes, mind you, but marijuana. After a joint, maybe a glass of wine, they would come back to their offices and continue working. 
  • A bad habit of front desk agents has been the first action of their shift. From turning the television in the lobby (to the Food Network, TLC, CMT, Spike TV, Space TV, or, my favourite, CBC’s Sunday morning show (great cure for a hangover) ), or switching on Internet Explorer to Facebook or MSN Messenger, to grabbing a bag of chips to snack on (or ordering breakfast/lunch in the bar). First actions of the shift are almost always the wrong thing that they should be doing. I have only witnessed this at the front desk, so who knows how bad housekeepers really are.
  • My favourite “caught in the act badass” is a front desk agent who will go down in history as the first (and possibly last) DJ to rock out a set while working the front desk for an audience of 1. I was working in the office and heard the phones ringing off the hook. I wondered what was going on, so I came out of the office to take a look at the front desk. What I saw blew me away: laptop out, DJ mixer on a stool, agent wearing studio headphones, jamming out to the sounds entering his ears. I kicked the railing by the desk, he looked up, and answered the phone.
  • There has been “Storytime with X.” After returning from the bars to grab cabs and a bag of chips, the night auditor proceeded to tell us a few stories. I don’t remember any of them, except one highlight: he lived in a nudist colony when he was 18 years old. From then on, any time we came into the hotel lobby when that night auditor was working, we were always hopeful for Storytime.
  • There have been front desk agents who had laptops out in a busy hotel, front desk agents watching soft-porn on tv, borrowing money from the till to pay off bad debts, dealers throwing $50+ on the front desk to be let into rooms after hours, chips and chocolate bars being stolen, scams involving the guest reward programs, crackheads dropping their pipes at the desk and still getting hotel rooms, and staff taking shots through the night in the bar or front desk.
  • And, finally, Johnny Cash. A front desk agent dressed up all in black, wore a nametag that said Johnny Cash, and liked to blare his music through the tv loud enough to disturb the guests above him. He also enjoyed smoking in the bathroom and denying it, and wouldn’t be surprised if he had smoked at the front desk while on shift.

What hasn’t happened yet to me, but is a great possibility:

Luggage cart races down the hallways and ramps in the slow periods.


January 24, 2009

Excitement is getting lost in the beat of the music, shaking your head up and down, letting your body start moving around.

Excitement is seeing a friend after a long while, and noticing the positive energies they bring with them.

Excitement is realizing that all your hard work is going towards something worthwhile and is being appreciative.

Excitement is a great number of people having fun, talking, laughing, causing mayhem in the middle of the night.

Excitement is the release of the built up energies surrounding drama, whether they be positive or negative.

Excitement is getting out of your bed to see all the snow melting away.

Excitement is falling asleep at your desk, in your car, on your couch, then hearing that song come on to play on the stereo or radio or tv.

Excitement is the unveiling of something that has not been seen before, nor may ever be seen again.

Excitement is going into a known place, and having something else be there that brightens up the space.

Excitement is checking your bank balance and discovering that, yes, you do have money still there.

Excitement is taking out said money and feeling it in your naked hands.

Excitement is hitting the power button for the first time, regardless of whether it’s a computer, a lamp, a car, a toy.

Excitement is seeing true beauty in front of you that catches your breath and steals your gaze.

Excitement is waffles, covered in strawberries, whip cream, and maple syrup with some bacon on the side.

Excitement is that gooey, chewy, sweet stuff swirling around in your mouth.

Excitement is getting off the plane after you’ve reached your final destination.

Excitement is seeing the 8-ball go in the pocket, and beating your opponent.

Excitement is turning off the bedroom light, laying down, and thinking about what is to happen in the next day.

Excitement is hitting the snooze button knowing it’s the weekend.

Primal Energy

January 24, 2009

The congregating of people in one spot has an effect that is both addictive and meditative. Regardless of the purpose and reason as to why people are grouped together, the effect is one of constant curiousity, and an going relationship between actions and reactions. All of us are either participants or we are engaged in the actions of others. Participating in these crowds seems to provide the most benefit, but participation is not always welcome or possible.

Enhancing the experience of groups, is the power of voice or of many voices. When everyone is captivated by one voice on a stage, the tone and character of that voice helps calm, enrage, or release positive forms of energy from us all. President Obama could have been saying the same word over and over again during his inauguration speech, and the effect would have been equally the same. I am sure people around the world were feeling the same amount of energy as the people who stood by to watch on the grandstands.

Events like these echo into our past and reach deep within us to grasp at our roots. Not our roots in our close ancestors, but a time long ago where we all lived in tribes and small communities. In my mind, I can see us gathered around the campfire, listening intently to the leaders of the day stand up and voice their opinion. It is not what they’re saying that truly guides and motivates us, but how it is said. That is the base of our communication skills. The utterances, the pointing of fingers, the cries, the grunts, all combines to make us understand. It is how all of us started to communicate with our parents and siblings, and it is how some of us can only effectively communicate today.

Listening to one voice is powerful, but many voices singing in unison can be overwhelming. The energy released from their collective lungs, echoing off the walls of the cathedral, comes down to strike us like bolts of lightening. It is incredibly moving to hear a choir sing, especially when that song is lingering in your mind already. The song sounds a thousand times better being sung than what we hear in our minds. And to be amongst the congregation, having the choirs’ words come at you in one direction, and the others coming at you from behind, is one of the most uplifting experiences one can experience. At first, the anxious energies of people sing quietly to themselves, but with the encouragement of your neighbours, you become louder. In no time, the once quiet hall becomes deafening.

The most remarkable experience of this all is the silence afterwards. The song sounds out it’s final note, and it lingers in the air forever until the next sound of people sitting down. There is a collective breath at the end of a song, of a speech, of a performance. It is in those moments that we whisper our private thoughts to ourselves, and quietly wish things had never ended.

But it does remain within our minds and our hearts, resting peacefully with the other primal energies from our ancestors past. Joining the feelings of companionship, of a heart beat, of expression. There it will not be forgotten, but will remain until it awakens again.

Ode to my Jeep

January 2, 2009

This morning, it was -40 C here and remained that cold through the rest of the day. Walking out to the parking lot, the trees were frozen white. The air was thick and foggy, visibility was there but only if you had a pair of good eyes. Cars struggled to move around, and I’m sure many people had problems with starting their vehicles.

I climbed into my Jeep thinking it will be a miracle if I can get it going – the block heater wasn’t plugged in over night, nor the previous night. Two nights sitting in the cold. There was no way it would start. But it did. Slowly, it rumbled to life with my ass frozen to the seat. As I sat there trying to stay warm, my mind started wandering and thought of my poor Jeep. My Jeep has had a rough year, but it’s had a rougher life in my hands, yet it keeps on chugging.

It has gone through:

  • at least three winters in Regina, three in Whitehorse, one in central New York – all miserable places to be in the winter.
  • treks up the Alaska Highway, Klondike Highway , one trip to Skagway, Alaska in snow and ice, US Interstates to New York, and the side roads of the prairies. Hardly a scratch through all those trips.
  • one missing turn signal reflector from the front, suffered by going over train tracks on the way to Weyburn – damn Saskatchewan highways.
  • one long crack in the windshield, suffered on a drive to Dawson City – but I wasn’t driving. Was loaned out to someone else. Should’ve known.
  • You’ve been lipsticked, egged, damaged, had the rear turn signal light busted out, and windshield wipers broken off.
  • You’ve been stolen twice, joy-rided once, and both times made it back to me in one piece.
  • You’ve only had one leaky tire through the years, no flats.
  • The first time you locked me out was within an hour of being in Syracuse when I went inside to the bank – like I hadn’t suffered enough by that point.
  • Bumper has been rear-ended, but that is something we try to forget.
  • You’ve been borrowed by a girl; and quickly “prettified” with flowers, pink dice, car seats, kids’ toys, wrappers, loose change, French fries, and had to listen to country music. I’m truly sorry for all of this, but at least you had a pretty ass in the front other than my own.
  • You’ve only been into the shop three times – new tires, a blown out radiator, and water in the gas tank. Again, trying to forget one of those three trips.
  • You’ve carried lighting equipment, sound equipment, hungover ravers, cases of water bottles, hungover hitchhikers from Dawson City Music Fest, me sleeping in the front seat at Dawson City Music Fest, kids, screaming kids, sleeping kids, cranky kids, but no sick kids (yet).

There’s a lot more adventures to be had, I’m sure, and I’ll always be grateful that you’ve remained with me through it all.

PS: You’re definitely a guy truck.

A bag of pretzels

January 2, 2009

This story was close to becoming another planes, trains and automobiles but I was fortunate to not come into contact with the last item. It is a short story of the trip from one small city to a larger one and a story that should be raged bland and boring. It was not meant to be that way.

It began in the moment I arrived at the airport to depart. My flight out was delayed an hour. No big deal I thought. Get through security okay and the flight was relatively smooth down to Vancouver. I forgot how much of a difference there is between flying Air North compared to flying Air Canada. Air Canada definitely has the roomier plane and is more comfortable and the service level is completely different for whatever reason. More friendly with Air North by far.

Things were fine until I arrived in Vancouver. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and afterwards noticed that there seemed to be a high level of stress with a lot of travellers. There were usually large groups of people together centred around the info booths. Not a good sign. And sure enough, my flight to the east was cancelled.

Going out into the main terminal to change my flight was a bit tricky. The lines were long and everyone seemed to be as confused to which line they should be in. After a forty minute wait, I received the bad news: no flights out for another 50 hours, and even then I would still have to overnight in Calgary airport and get to Regina in the morning the following day. There wasn’t much else I could do but book the flight and figure out the next step from there. With my schedule in hand, I headed downstairs to retrieve my bags and sort things out.

The luggage area was a zoo. Bags were being stores in every place imaginable and people were circling the carousels like vultures. It took me another half an hour or more to locate by bag butvat least I was able to locate it. After making arrangements to stay at a friends for the next few days I had to hurry up and wait, as the expression goes.

Fast forward through two days of slushy snow, baked goods, singing hosts and old Christmas movies, and we arrive back at the airport roughly 48 hours after I left it last.

After a last ditch effort to see I’d I could get a flight earlier, I settled in to wait until 10:30 pm for my flight. While I waited to check in, I noticed that the side where you purchase tickets was so long that they had set up a lounge section of chairs to sit down in. Thankfully, I did not have to wait that long.

10 pm arrives. I go to my gate to board the plane but there’s one slight problem. The board at the gate reads a different flight number for Edmonton.  I ask the agent what happened to my flight and it’s been delayed until 1:30am. Alright, things have been bad enough so I should have seen this coming. At this time, everything was shut down but the airport was still quite busy. A lot of people were tired of the delays, some wandered aimlessly up and down the corridors. The families were camped out against the walls, and a small army of laptops were out in the open – more glowing apples than non-apples, by the way. Are Mac users blessed with poor luck?

There’s an announcement over the PA system with a gate change. Like the other lemmings I saw racing around trying to reach their gate on time earlier, I walk down to the new gate following the pack. We get to the new gate and we wait another twenty minutes for the agent to arrive. Boarding the plane fifteen minutes late, we all sit down and are thankful to be leaving finally.

We spoke too soon. The captain came on and said we would be waiting another thirty minutes. He blamed the baggage handlers for the delay. I found this interesting because when I was waiting at a gate a worker from the tarmac was talking to another passenger. I overheard him say that the pilots are quick to blame the baggage handlers but there was a lot more to it than just that.

There we sat, passengers trying to sneak in phone calls, use their iPods and basically move around the plane as if we were in flight. The entertainment centre was turned on which helped settle people but then the captain came on to say we had to wait longer to de-ice the plane. At this point, it was nearly 3am and a flight attendant was talking about how we were close to hitting the boundary for how long they could work. The plane had to leave in the next hour or so, otherwise, the flight would be cancelled. The plane did take off shortly after 4am and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people grateful foe the same reason before. Quite a few actually clapped both when we took off and when we arrived.

We arrived in Calgary at 6am and I had thirty minutes to get to my next gate. This is significantly shorter than the six hours I was supposed to have. I had been hoping to wash up before getting on the plane but my luggage never made it to Calgary or had been put through to the next flight – I had asked to pick if up in Calgary because of the long over night delay but that was not meant to be.

I arrived in Regina at 9:30 am on the 24th. I was supposed to arrive at 1:30am on the 22nd. A 56 hour delay. Now, if that had nor been bad enough, my luggage never made it. This is the second time I’ve travelled at Christmas time and lost luggage. I guess I should have expected this after everything that had happened before this.

I was mainly thankful to have finally arrived in Regina. There was another moment where I was thankful and rgaf happened on the flight to Calgary. Shortly before we took off, a flight attendant walked down the aisle handing out bags of pretzels. Taking that bag and opening it up, popping in that tiny pretzel, I let it lay on my tongue to savour the salty goodness. With one slow bite down, I heard the crunch in my mouth, and everything was good. I sat and thought about how it’s always the simple pleasures in life that have the most meaning. Then I smiled to myself and thought that this will probably be the only time in my life that a small pretzel gives me so much pleasure.