Monday 26 April 2010

Taylor and Martin

Bruce Fish wanted me to come by a couple of summers ago to meet Taylor and Martin. When he mentioned this I thought it'd be his usual good-natured weirdness; maybe he'd named the dump bears Taylor and Martin. I swung on by to meet him and his new friends soon afterwards.

I sat in his little shelter on the crest of the massive chasm of junk. He said, "This is Taylor". He handed me a beautiful beat up guitar from a grimy case. It was a Taylor acoustic with quite a few dings in her. I looked at him and he held up "Martin". This was a 1970's Martin dreadnaught guitar. Well worn: There was a hole below the pick guard that made it look like Willy Nelson's guitar. There was also a smaller hole top side.

He'd found them deep in the dump pit. They'd rolled off a truck that had been used to clean out an abandoned cottage north of Kingston.

French had come by a few weeks before and had carefully reset, re-strung and re-tuned these beauties. They were kept in in locked steel shed. "Cuz they're special", said Bruce Fish.

He continued: "Now you boys got guitars to play when you come by. I'm hoping someone will throw out a drum kit soon".

Rose lit a fire in an old oil drum. Bruce Fish handed me a pick and we sang and strummed a few old songs from our high school days. Those guitars had a warm full tone. Bruce Fish and I sounded pretty good, for a dump band.

The dump has opened up for cottage season this past weekend. Time to head up and see Rose, Bruce Fish, Taylor and Martin.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Battle Warrior

My wife had a baby on Monday: we call him Warrior. You gotta be a warrior in this world; sometimes with words; sometimes with prayers; sometimes with fists.

He has a big forelock of white hair. A distinct birthmark that flows back at least four generations in my family . I was worried at first. Nobody likes to get teased, and this mark will provide a lot of fodder (I know). Playground bullies can be rough. My oldest son said: "They can tease him; can't stop that, but how many kids have two big brothers that are going to be at least 6'5. They won't tease him long, or often".

French added: "Yeah any of these lads get in trouble and ol'Uncle French will show up".

I feel better.

Post Script:

French's boy is doing well. He is playing Lacrosse, so we'll check on him this summer. Bruce Fish promised to build a playground in the dump for all my sons to play in. This could be fun summer.

Post Post Script:  Warrior is good - almost a year old.

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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Circa 1987

Last night I was flipping through French's beat-up journal (he takes a lot of pride in this fact) and I found this poem. I try to use these insights, and my on recollections of being a teen; as I teach day to day. Too many teachers seem to have forgotten that they were ever teenagers. It was one of the first ones he wrote

yes bathe
in the simmering

I feel it,

in this broken desk
in this moldy school

two girls
i dumped
hate me
hate each other

makes me hate this class

by "French" April 1987

Fair enough French - Fair Enough.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

French's Journal

French and I were shooting a few hoops last night. Part way through a game of American 21 (gritty game) French says: "Seen your fucking blog". There was a pause. He drove past me and threw down a dunk (net was at nine feet) and said: "fucking like it". Moments later he handed me his journal and said: "use this".

It was literally covered sweat, rain, blood and beer stains. I flipped to a poem. There were drops of blood on the page. He saw my reaction and said: "It makes it more authentic; poetry is experiential". I can't argue with that. I read the poem.

duct tape n'cardboard
covering the glass
smashed with bloody fists
with the loss of a girl

garbage cans
set ablaze
smoldering outside
the gym

heads broken
on locker doors
a glorious week
of school

French waited 'til I was done: "Remember that week? That was a good one".

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Economics (of beer)

There is another blog out there called Olsonomics...odd. It is about economics. I thought that I'd give the economics theme a try.

A couple of the dads back in the Falls taught us about economics. One dad thought up this policy and the other fathers decided to adopt it as well. This was the deal: you could take all the beer from the garage or basement fridge, but you'd have to put back 2 for every 1 beer you took. Damn sure they all kept a tally.

I see the flaw in this plan now, but somedays we'd be having a little party, or a campfire and we'd need a few beers. Sweaty, Pancake, French and I would see this as a solution to our lack of beers. The more beers we drank the more we took - a dumb vicious cycle.

One day French and I were putting 2 two-fours into my dad's beer fridge. Bruce Fish piped up: you boys been suckered.

Bruce Fish and my dad taught me a very valuable lesson in economics that day.