Summer Potpourri

This month's post is a bit of a mish-mash, as none of what's on my mind merits a full-blown screed. So, in no particular order:

New Covers. "God's Children" (The Kinks), "Late Night" (Syd Barrett), "Lightning Rose" (Jefferson Starship—ongoing Paul Kantner tribute). Coming soon to an open stage. I'm also working up "Moments of the Soft Persuasion" (Peter, Paul and Mary), but not for live performance. Oh, I can get through it okay but this tune, which has an absolute killer chorus, falls flat without harmonies. If I could find a Paul and Mary to sing it with me, I'd sing the Peter bit. In the meantime, I aim to record a version by overdubbing all three vocals. In trying to work through the changes I kept getting stuck on this one chord. Had no idea what it was. I finally isolated what the singers were doing and figured at the very least, those three notes must be constituent parts of the mystery chord. Those were A, C# and F#, all on the second fret. I then randomly wrapped my thumb around the bottom strings on the same fret and as soon as I strummed, I knew I had hit on it. But what was it called? Since my last "secret chord" post I've discovered a handy chord namer. But if you punch in this chord—a shape that frets everything at the second fret but leaves the D-string open—check out the unwieldy names it generates! That's why I call my chords "Am funny," "Fmould" and so on. That said, "Bm9/F#" was both pithy and accurate, so Bm9/F# it shall be. The magic chord occurs between F#m and G at the start of the killer chorus. Try it, you'll love it.

Brexit. David Cameron will go down in infamy as the British PM who irreparably fractured not one but two long-standing geopolitical alliances—the European Union and the UK itself—all for the sake of quelling internal party squabbles. A bit drastic, no? It's also cost him his job, which may not be a bad thing.

Populism. I've had a couple of people tell me that Donald Trump is eminently qualified for the US presidency because "he's not a politician." You've heard these arguments too, I'm sure. Here's what I find odd: if you wanted someone to train your prize race horse and ride it to victory, would you hire an accountant? Is a jockey your go-to guy when preparing your year-end financials? I'm guessing not. So why does prevailing wisdom tell us that politicians are corrupt, incompetent and unfit to govern simply because they're politicians? And were we to elect a plumber, beautician or snake-oil salesman, would he/she not be tarred with the same brush after a term or two in office anyway? I don't get it.

BMO Field. My tailgating concerns aside, the Argos' new home is a winner even if the team isn't yet. I missed last night's opener but took in the preseason game a couple of weeks back, and I loved it. The seating is cozy, intimate and, for those of us old enough to remember CNE Stadium pre-baseball, a throwback to a golden era of Argonaut football. (Pedantic aside: we football fans never, ever called it "Exhibition Stadium." The Blue Jays brought that moniker in 1977. It was and shall forever remain CNE Stadium. More pedantry: the new place is pronounced BEE-mo, not B-M-O.) I've lately been looking at aerial maps, present and historical, to determine where the CNE's north grandstand was in relation to the new digs. We had season tickets for a few years in the '70s and I recall them being in said grandstand, Section D, Row 33. Seats might have been 3 and 4. As far as I can tell, the old grandstand would cut across the south end of BMO Field on an angle of, oh, 60 degrees or so, meaning my CNE seat would be floating in space somewhere around what's now the 20-yard line, near the west sideline. You see, BMO faces directly north/south; CNE Stadium had a broadly NW/SE orientation. That alone made my first visit to BMO a bit jarring, because there I was, in essentially the same place watching the same team, and the views, the atmosphere, everything is almost-but-not-quite like I remember it. We are, after all, talking 40 years later. It's kind of like looking at an old family portrait on a funny angle with 3D glasses, and there's a blank space where Uncle Ted and Aunt Bertha used to be.

CNE Stadium is now a parking lot, with a cracked marker in the middle of it that says "Exhibition Stadium - Home Plate." Useless if you're trying to locate the grandstand, which was so far from the plate that it may as well have been in the next county. Anyway, I dream that someday the city will create a proper memorial for CNE Stadium, even as revisionist historians decry it as the Mistake by the Lake. (Pedantry, final instalment: whatever its flaws, not a soul called it that during its lifetime. The revisionists have borrowed/appropriated the nickname of Cleveland Municipal Stadium.) In the meantime I'll learn to love BMO, tilted angle, missing persons and all. Whether or not you're all misty-eyed over CNE Stadium, BMO Field is a marked improvement over the Argos' former home, the cavernous and sterile Rogers Centre. Which, by the way, I think is an okay venue for baseball. Not stellar, but serviceable.

By the way, here's a fabulous photo of CNE Stadium in its pre-baseball configuration. This was taken on November 25, 1973 at the Grey Cup, two weeks after my first game there, the Eastern Semi-Final between the Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes. And here's the football field in 1976, during the facility's conversion for baseball. I guarantee I would have been at this game, but am not in the photo. Section D was about 15 yards deep in the near end zone and is cropped out of the shot.

Grammar. In the space of 24 hours I've heard two football commentators say something like "The training staff is going to be very precautious." The adjective is "cautious," guys. Sufficient in and of itself; no need for a prefix. You can be very cautious and take precautions, though.

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Photographs by Carol Witwicky. Instrument illustrations and GZ logo © 2017 Grinning Zone Studios.
Album and lyrics page artwork © 2017 Gabriel Altrows. Web design by Vern Nicholson.
Sour Landslide and Benvereens archival footage courtesy Neil Whitlock.
All pages and contents © 2017-2019 Vern Nicholson.