Tag Archives: Joni Mitchell

Awesome, Or Something Else

This sign wins the Best Sign of the Day award.

My vacation has been absolutely memorable for several reasons already; the least of which was the flight. I would like to take this moment to personal thank you mysterious airplane panel that required replacement. You know who you are – the same airplane panel that apparently could only be replaced after AirCanada decided to board our plane knowing full well that the panel needed to be replaced (I know this because I overheard the engineers discussing the replacement and delay prior to boarding). We, the passengers, loved sitting in a stuffy plane for a full 40 minute delay only to have our patience rewarded with a 30 minute follow-up delay. And then another 15 minute delay. And if that weren’t enough, the icing on the cake was a final further 10 minute delay. Total time to NYC – over 3 hours. Good gravy.

But don’t get me wrong – I appreciate that AirCanada took the time to fix the plane. I’d rather not explode or disintegrate before I have a vacation.

And ultimately, Aidan and I made it to New York. The city is, as always, amazing. Our first day found us wondering around a lot. I would guess that between random stops for food and drink, we walked 20+ km. We walked from our hotel (On The Avenue) at 77th and Broadway, down to 30th, and back. And then, for giggles, we did it again. It was cold and a little windy, but the city was vibrant and walking is the best way in my humble opinion to check it out, especially when one – such as Aidan – has never seen it before. Our walkabout found us in Central Park, on Lexington and on Park Avenues; we checked out the stores on 5th Avenue; explored the decorations and mayhem of the Christmas masses at Macy’s; we found ourselves in Rockafeller Centre admiring the giant Christmas tree (something that I’ve never been able to see lit up on any of my previous trips – in a word – beautiful); we checked out the Library, Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Centre, and so many other places; and we stumbled on many tiny Christmas markets that reminded me a little of the markets we found in Germany, minus the booze-y Glühwein of course.

In short, we walked a lot.

30 Rock + Christmas lights = Beautiful

Monday morning we casually sauntered about again. Of course, this time we had a purpose; Arlene was coming to town. We met her at the bus station at 41st and 8th – a stone’s throw from Times Square. From there we just started walking; through Central park, and up to about 110th and 5th. We stopped twice – first at a Christmas store so that I could search for a tacky Christmas ornament, and second at a small cafe for some much-needed food and drink. We managed to see a lot of the city, but really it was all about chatting with Arlene. We caught up on as much as we could; her new home, her kids, my new job, my defence. It was fantastic.

Of course, walking as much as we did clearly works up a thirst. Thus, after jumping on the subway we made our way down to Prince street with the intention of wetting our whistles, followed by some shopping.

Shopping never happened.

Instead, we found the Brooklyn Brewery – a gem of a pub with a fantastic selection of beer. The bartender – I forget her name – was knowledgable, and entertaining on a level I was not expecting. The banter between her and the regulars was absolutely enjoyable to listen to. And before long, we were included. That due in part to the fact that my brother and I love meeting and chatting with new people, but mostly it was due to a regular who went by the name of Brian Moran; a retired paper delivery man who worked for The Daily News for some 30+ years; a man with an extensive knowledge of music and poetry; and an all around excellent person.

Sexy bitches. 'Nuff said.

We stayed in the bar for several hours chatting and laughing, hearing stories of his youth, about New York, about everything and nothing at all. He asked us about our lives, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what makes us happy. He demanded I not wear my toque in the bar (a gentleman never wears a hat indoors), and insisted I not use the word awesome to describe anything unless I was actually in awe of it. Instead, he suggested I use the phrase Awesome, or something else. He was, as he self-described, the real New York. And I couldn’t agree more.

At some point I had to say goodbye to Arlene. While we didn’t get in the shopping we had expected, we still had a fantastic day; definitely not one I’ll soon forget. You see, after dropping Arlene off to catch her bus, Aidan and I returned to meet up with Brian as he had graciously invited us back to his place for drinks, to tell us more stories, to listen to music, to play the guitar, and to enjoy a smoke or two. All this, plus a lot of laughter. I can’t even begin to describe how fantastic the night was. Between the beer and the smoke, the music, and the guitar playing, the house itself seemed to add an air of old-time-y-ness that I can’t explain. He told us of his life, his friends, the art he had collected (and it is an extensive collection), his vinyl, his family and so much more. And he continually sang us songs and asked us about our lives. When his roommate Brianna arrived, the two of them began belting out Joni Mitchell songs. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Anyway, after many incredible hours shared with Brian and Brianna, Aidan and I left exceedingly happy and ever thankful for such an amazing experience.

Thank you New York. Thank you Brianna. But most of all, thank you Brian. You are an incredible individual, and I’m so happy that I was able to meet you.



Related articles

Music To My Ears

A few days ago I posted a list of items that I’d save if given the chance should my house be on fire (see The Burning House Project). The particular post was inspired by a tweet that my friend Rob had posted during the Ontario provincial election. Later on, Rob commented on the post with his own list of items that he would save. The first item on his list of things to save was his collection of favorite albums. Specifically, he stated

If this list was a ‘desert island’ music pick – these would be it.

And as a typical response to anything Rob does, I started thinking. Specifically, if I were on a deserted island which albums would I want to bring with me? Which albums do I think I’d be able to listen to for a lifetime without ever getting bored with them? While the questions themselves are not new, and the idea of a ‘desert island’ list is clearly old hat, it’s one that I hadn’t really thought much about. Until now.

As with most people, I can list a bunch of albums that I like, and some that I love, but listing a collection of albums that I’d never get tired of should I be required to listen to them for the remainder of my years – that’s tough. I mean, there are a lot of albums out there; where does one start? What makes a good album? Is it the lyrical content? Is it the musicality? Is it the statement? Or is it simply that I want to dance in my chair when I hear the album? How does one classify art?

Clearly, a set of rules to govern my list selection was in order. The thought being that a set of rules would help limit the list of potential albums that could make it to my ‘desert island’ collection. I first thought to trim the collection by imposing a time constraint. Specifically, the albums had to be released during or after 1975 – hence, in my life time. Further, I could only pick one album per artist – no doubling up (and that wasn’t easy). I also excluded movie soundtracks, rap, and country. Excluding rap and country was easy, as there is no way they would have made my list regardless. Soundtracks could have made the list, but I opted for non instrumental-only albums. Next, I decided I’d allow myself 10 albums, plus one additional 10 song mixed album which could include any song from any time (for 11 in total). The mixed album would be a repository of one-off songs that I absolutely love for one reason or another. Finally, I would count a multi-disk album as a single selection on my list.

So with my list of rules in hand, I sat down and thought about my list. And dear readers, without further ado, I offer to you my desert list in no particular order. Note that I tried to select a range of music to satisfy whatever mood I might be in while on a deserted island. I assumed those moods would be think-y, day-dream-y, hungry, mosh-pit-ydance-y, or sexy-time-y. Those are all moods, right?

Albums

  1. Adele – 21
  2. Tori AmosLittle Earthquakes
  3. Loreena McKennitt – The Visit
  4. Sarah McLachlan - Solace
  5. Pearl Jam – Ten
  6. Tragically Hip – Yer Favourites
  7. Florence and the Machine – Lungs
  8. Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  9. Nirvana – Unplugged In New York
  10. Joni Mitchell – Hits
  11. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection

Album of One-offs

  1. Dee-LiteGroove Is In The Heart
  2. Michael Franti & SpearheadSay Hey (I love you)
  3. Third Eye Blind – Semi Charmed Life
  4. Sir Mix-a-Lot - I Like Big Butts
  5. K.D. Lang – Hallelujah
  6. Annie Lennox – Into The West
  7. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  8. Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill
  9. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer
  10. Nina Simone – Sinner Man

I have to say, picking Groove is in the Heart was the easiest selection for my one-offs. That song is my happy song. Every time I hear it, I can picture myself and a certain group of friends dancing our collective faces and butts off. It is absolutely awesome because it always, always, always makes me smile.

So there you have it folks. My list of music. Of course, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some rather epic albums, so I reserve the right to modify this list as I see fit. And who knows, the best album that ever existed may not yet exist. I have to be allowed the ability to add that to my list.

What albums would you have included?