The memorial service for Rick will be held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, on Saturday, November 9th 2002 – Canadian Remembrance Day weekend. Rick’s brother has asked me to point to Air North, who may be providing special rates for those of us who can make to Whitehorse, and the High Country Inn who may be doing the same (both subject to confirmation).
(Update : Air North confirms that they will be offering a discounted fare of $390.00 Vancouver or Calgary or Edmonton – Whitehorse return. People will need to contact their reservations number and ask to speak with Sharon to get this discounted rate. Toll free in Canada 1-800-661-0407 and 1-800-764-0407 in USA. Regular line is (867) 668-2228.)
Thank you everyone for your outpouring of love and kindness, thank you from myself, and on behalf of all of Rick’s friends and family. Out of heartbreaking tragedy, the best of human nature can sometimes come.
This morning, I’d like to share Rick-stories, and I hope it’s not too early to do so. The truth is that one of the reasons we loved him so is that he could always make us laugh. His determination to get the best out of life, to push himself and others to savour and enjoy every moment, his sense of humour – and his ability to drink debilitating quantities of booze without any apparent ill effects the next day – these things inspired me. I know he’d want us to smile and laugh as we miss him, even if it must be through tears. He didn’t much care for tears.
But I don’t want to eulogize him. I just want to tell and hear some funny or touching or ‘yeah, that’s Rick all right’ stories about him, or just some anecdotes or happy memories, from people who knew and loved him.
I’ll start, with two stories I’ve already told online. The stories tend to be booze-soaked, but with Rick and I, that’s to be expected. The first one is from my userprofile at Metafilter, where it’s been the story I’ve used to tell people about myself and my goofy nickname there for two years now :

In the winter of 1992 (I think), Rick and I had just finished the Mumbles Walk. This is the pub crawl along a seaside stretch of watering holes in Wales, near Swansea, that apparently used to be a regular night out for Dylan Thomas. I’d like to say we were appropriately reverant, but we were just shambolically pissed, basically.
At some point, we stumbled by a phone booth that looked out over the mud flats and dejected-looking rowboats that had been stranded by the outgoing tide, and decided it was a simply great time to give our buddy Derek, back in Vancouver, a collect call. When the operator asked for a name to give for the call (this was back in the last century, before this stuff was automated), the name “Stavros The Wonder Chicken” just bubbled to the top of my brain, with no precedent whatsoever. The operator balked, but we begged, and when we overheard her telling James, his roommate, that she had a collect call from “Stavros the Wonder Chicken”, we laughed like the drunken poets we were.
A few minutes after his roommate James accepted the call, we found out that Derek had returned to his hometown because he’d found out that day that his father had died.
We went back to drinking.

Rick claimed that he came up with the ‘wonder chicken’ monicker (which I’ve used online for years), and it’s possible that he did. I didn’t change the story, though, mostly because I wanted to annoy him.
I wrote another Amusing Tale of Rick and I here during the World Cup :

Just finished watching the Ireland vs. Cameroon match, and though I’m far from an expert in such matters, I enjoyed it a fair bit. Averaging one goal every 45 minutes : I guess that’s major excitement in the soccer world, huh?
The reason I mention it is that it was more than a decade ago, during the World Cup in 1990, that the Wonderchicken was born, the uncreated conscience of my species, forged in the smithy of my liver. A couple of days after this blessed event, Rick and I were in a lovely little B & B in Aberystwyth, Wales, and watching the match between Cameroon and Ireland. Our viewing was made more enjoyable, if indeed that were possible, by the presence of a Large Bottle of Vodka. This we drank (which is the primary use to which one puts Large Bottles of Vodka, other than bonking people over the head, of course), and cheered lustily for the underdogs, Cameroon, who ended up the victors.
Although my powers of recollection tend to suffer when battered by such oceanic quantities of booze, I seem to recall that we ventured out into the night at the conclusion of the game, wobbly but under our own power, navigating by the bottle, and ended up in a pub, where Rick also ended up swapping saliva with a nubile young lady. This was the time in our lives when this sort of thing still happened, albeit irregularly.
The next morning, the proprietress of the B & B, waggling an admonishing finger as only middle-aged Welsh matrons can, suggested that we should find alternate lodging.
She must have been an Ireland supporter.

Update : The Rev. A. K. M. Adam said beautifully what I wanted to say. Thank you AKMA.

…But I also hope that the spirit of companionship that Chris’s loving commitment to Rick bespeaks will engender some furious memorial rejoicing, some thanksgiving for good things Rick meant to his friends, some conviviality that perpetuates the generosity of spirit […]. I hope that the loyalty that Chris has been demonstrating for the last two weeks cuts loose now with some of the joy that keeps death’s power at bay. I hope that though friends move on, that friendship endures and thrives and through a web of one-or-two-degrees-of-separation wraps us together in a loyalty and friendship that beats cruelty and violence.
I hope that gentleness and affection win in our response to maddening loss, and that vicious brutality loses, it withers away and leaves kind souls to celebrate their friendship—in peace.

The loyalty and loving commitment to our friend of which he speaks is felt by many, more people than I had ever guessed, and is a testament to Rick Gleason, and the man he was, and is.


Join the conversation! 28 Comments

  1. Despite growing up in the cultural backwater that is New Zealand, my TV diet had included the Canadian series “The Beachcombers”. Whilst engaged in what were otherwise deep and meaningful conversations in the pub, Rick and I would often rack our addled brains trying to remember the name of Relic’s boat. Years later, Rick sent me this postcard from Gibsons Landing, B.C. where The Beachcombers was filmed:
    April 27, 1997
    Yes, I finally made it: after years of pondering what the hell was the name of Relic’s boat, I made it to the place where they made The Beachcombers, desperately searching the docks for signs of Old Relic’s craft. No luck.
    Molly’s Reach still exists and we made the early morning pilgrimage there for the Nick Adonidas Bacon & Eggs breakfast special (we were too early for the Relic Burger).
    We visited Gibsons while on a three day sailing tour – a friend got the use of a 32′ sloop. Way.
    Do you keep on diving all winter there in the FREEZING waters of NZ? I fell in our FREEZING spring time seas here and had my testes migrate up to my small intestines. Oooch.
    Ever Yers, the about to be unemployed/leisure guy, Rick

  2. I have one particular memory of Rick seared into my brain. It dates back to 1989 and we were at a pub in Earls Court, London (yes I know you will find this hard to believe!). Skip…you were probably there too.
    For some reason a fierce debate ensued about whether New Zealand (me being a Kiwi) bands were better than Canadian bands. The point of this entire argument will never be known however it was fuelled heavily by pints of warm brown English ale.
    Rick was fervent in his argument that Canadian bands “Loverboy” and “Men Without Hats” were bands par excellence. He was going to defend them to the end. In my oppinion both were a lost cause. It seemed like that night it was Rick’s mission to convert me to Canadian music.
    To my recollection we never settled the argument. I do remember the shocking morning after!!
    I will have a few beers for you tonight Rick!

  3. Rick, defending Loverboy?! He must have been drunk – or maybe just arguing for the sake of arguing, at which he was definitely an Olympic-level athlete.

  4. Chris…I can confirm that Rick had had more than few ales by that time. Not that I wish to slur his reputation!

  5. I wrote out this little anecdote about Rick and I here on the site, too, a few months ago : It was Edinburgh, Scotland, in the winter of 1998, I think. Me and Rick and the Bearman and Stiffy The Magic Austrian were living in a B&B in Portobello, which is a grey concrete seaside suburb of Edinburgh (which we customarily referred to as Edithburg, just to be annoying), perched like a frozen dog turd on the southern edge of the Firth of Forth.
    For some reason, while drinking the cheap Hungarian wine (‘Blood of The Bull’) that fueled my joyous and aimless unemployment at the time, I’d gotten it into my head that I was infallible at finding sexy bits in novels. I’d sit down with Rick or Barry and make them riffle through the book of their choice. I’d melodramatically stick my finger into the flying pages, and 4 times out of 5, stop the cascade on a page that contained some sort of sexuality. It was downright spooky. But an amusing party trick.
    So. One afternoon we’re walking back from downtown Edinburgh, which was only couple of kilometres away, through the shortcut alleyway which bore a sign that designated it, colourfully enough, as the ‘Fishwives’ Causeway’. Some way along the narrow, high-walled, piss-reeking, dogturd-littered alley through which we meandered, I spied a flash of colour to the side, investigated it, and discovered it to be a Nudie Magazine. Huzzah!
    Says I off the cuff, as I reach in under the vines to peel it off the asphalt, breathing deeply of that magazine-that’s-been-rained-on scent, unmindful of possible cooties : “Not only can I find sex passages in books, I can find sex books in passages!”
    Much hilarity ensues, hindered only by the lack of a laff-track and rimshot.
    Having actually written the little story down, I now realize how lame that comment actually was. I swear to god it was funnier’n hell at the time…
    This little story is memorable to me mostly because Rick damn near peed himself laughing at the time, even though my joke was a spectacularly lame one. In the last 14 years or so since then, every time I saw him he would remind me of it, one of the seemingly endless supply of little in-jokes we shared, like whacking one another on the back of the head at random intervals (although Rick was usually too gentle to give a really good whack) and declaring “No, that’s satori!” Slapstick zen, that was Rick….
    I’m conscious and a little amazed that he must have had an equally huge number of in-jokes with each and every one of his other pals too…

  6. I use ‘Young Derek’ as my name for the benefit of you ‘old guys’. To Rick, I was Lopez. If you can recall any old Kid’s in the Hall episodes you might remember. Anyhow, I met Rick in Australia in 1995. I too shared many ‘in-jokes’ with him. I’m not really witty at all, but whatever I tended to say, Rick would somehow twist the words and we’d both be rolling around the floor laughing. We drove the entire hostel nuts, but the energy just seemed to bounce off each of us and multiply. I don’t remember the particalar jokes, but man it was funny. I just remember Rick’s total committment to making everything an adventure, a special moment to remember. We trekked around Australia wearing sombraros, saying Lopez to one another and generally cracking jokes that any 12-year-old would find funny. I hope everyone out there shares some stories about Rick. He had so many close friends, I’d like to hear about their adventures together. I’ll post some more things later when I think of them. I’m still really missing my friend…..

  7. Lopez again,
    Rick once said to me, “Live each day like your hair’s on fire.” He told me that a friend had said it to him. I’d really like to know who told him that, because it really typifies the Rick I know and love.
    One more aside, when Rick travelled, in hostels throughout the world, Rick used to write,”Off the Pig, develop the illegal front.” He said he had seen it once – didn’t know the exact meaning, but decided to continue it….

  8. That one dates all the way back to UBC days in the early ’80s – we picked it up from a dead-serious bathroom grafitto in the Pit Pub where we spent many man-years drinking, giggled at it, and it become one of the in-jokes. Whenever someone got overly earnest about their politics, we’d look fierce and mutter “Off the Pig – Develop the illegal front.” It became our mission to write it on toilet walls all over the planet.
    We used to sign off many of our letters and emails to each other with it too…he signed off one of the emails I got from him recently with it!
    Another one of my favorites with Rick dates back to 1984, after I decorated my dorm room door on 3rd Cariboo for Christmas with all sorts of goofy shit, including the lyrics from the Spinal Tap song from ‘Break Like The Wind’, Christmas With The Devil. After that, every single year, without fail, he’d send me an identical Christmas card with :
    “The elves are dressed in leather
    And the angels are in chains
    The sugar plums are rancid
    And the stockings are in flames
    (Christmas with the Devil)”
    Merry Xmas,

  9. Here’s a picture of Rick, Oliver and me from that time – fall 1984. Uh, and some empties.
    How young we were.
    (If anyone would like me to post some of their favorite pics with Rick, just mail copies of them to me at chris at emptybottle dot org)

  10. In the summer of 1990 or thereabouts, a highly improbable number of our circle of friends from university were in Britain. I met up with Chris and Rick in London, and, naturally, we all went out drinking.
    At one point during the night we were riding a train on the London Underground. Tube rides being somewhat boring in our particular state of inebriation, we were indulging in the time-honoured tradition of Tube-surfing, trying to one-up each other with spectacularly silly moves. Chris, as he was wont to do in those days, said, “Ahhh, but can you do THIS?” and executed a 5-second limb-waving, flourish-filled dance parody. Rick said, “No, but can you do THIS?” and proceeded to grab his foot and put it behind his head. While standing up. On a moving train.
    Needless to say, we were suitably impressed.
    Ever since then, I haven’t been able to think of Rick without that ridiculous image popping into my head. What can you say about a guy who, in addition to all the other special qualities you’ve read about on this site, could stick his foot behind his head while standing in a moving Tube car?
    – Luana

  11. The other memory of Rick that sticks out in my mind is from that same summer night in London.
    I had been trying to remember the words to the carhop song from the Flintstones for weeks. You know, the episode where Fred and Barney buy a drive-in, and the two carhops that work for them keep breaking into this song and dance routine, kicking their legs out high and straight in front of them in an anatomically unlikely fashion, while balancing their trays on one hand. (If you don’t know, I’ll bet you didn’t grow up in a small town in Canada in the 70’s, with only the CBC television network to watch.)
    All I could remember was the beginning of the song: “Here we come, on the run, with a burger on a bun…”. That was as far as I could get, and it was driving me absolutely crazy, as these things will.
    When I met up with Rick and Chris, I asked them if they knew the rest of the words. I was absolutely overjoyed to discover that Rick did. To celebrate his unique genius, we ran through the streets of Earl’s Court, singing at the top of our lungs and doing our best to emulate the high-stepping kicks of the cartoon carhops. I suspect even the drunkest of the resident Earl’s Court Aussies thought we’d gone completely mad.
    That’s how I’d like to remember Rick — dancing through the streets arm in arm with friends, goofy happy drunk, tunelessly bellowing out lyrics to a bad 70’s TV cartoon.

  12. Rick is the true master of in-jokes.
    I first met him at “Infoscuz” as he later called Infonet after they sent him packing. Four of us shared a cubical without walls together…and Rick and I drove the other two poor cube-mates nuts. One of these was my immediate boss, Ms. Bowen. Not bad looking. Okay, really good looking. And did Rick have a chance with her? Hell no. Being the consumate professional, somehow she didn’t warm up to Rick’s well crafted advances which were so well crafted they didn’t sound like advances at all. In fact without a working knowledge of WKRP and Oscar Wilde, one might even take them the wrong way. Which would of course explain the lack of response on Ms. Bowen’s part. That and the fact that she had a boyfriend who Rick referred to derogatively as “some moustached Surrey guy.” Because he was.
    The point of the story being that for years and years after, anytime we’d see an exceptionally good looking woman together, he’d say something like “You know, I’ve been thinking of growing a moustache and moving to Surrey.” And I’d lose it.
    The Bowen references didn’t end there either. Cypress ski mountain has two slopes named “The Upper Bowen” and “The Lower Bowen”. There was always plenty of adolescent giggling as we discussed the merits of each.
    Standing on the Upper Bowen on a crisp winter day, looking out at an incredible view of the Strait of Georgia, and sipping “joy juice” from Rick’s flask…Now that’s a priceless happy memory for me.

  13. The reason I’m ‘Young Derek’, apart from the fact that Rick had another friend named Derek, was that when I met him in Australia, I was 25. When Rick told me he was 31, my first response was “You’re really old!” After that, anything remotely related to age created a joke for Rick. Fall of the Roman Empire, Gondwanaland, the dinosaurs, etc. I can’t explain fully why this was always so funny to us, but if you truly knew Rick, I’m sure you’d totally understand. I also miss all his references to various ’70’s shows and commercials….like, here comes Trouble, wait don’t run…. and the one where some kid begs adults not to use up all the oil so there’s some still left when he grows up. I know I’m rambling, but little thoughts are just racing into my mind. These thoughts are the gifts that Rick gave me, better than any present I ever received that could be wrapped up in a box. I’ll carry these gifts around in my mind for the rest of my life and chuckle whenever I think of them. Thank you Rick, I love you and I miss you so much. I’m not trying to be a ‘gaylord’ or anything…..Lopez

  14. Hi Chris and everyone else. I’ts David Donais writing from the Kawartha Lakes, which is two hours north of Toronto. I’m at John and Gail’s cottage. They are Melissa’s (my partner)parents. Rick has been up here a few times, most recently three years ago on a similar late autumn day. Then, Rick, Gail and I shared a pitcher of martinis in the late afternoon, soaking up the last patch of sunlight on the lawn. Today, at Gail’s suggestion, I planted a seven foot sugar maple in a prominent spot by the lake and Gail, Melissa and I shared another pitcher of martinis, all in honour of Rick.
    I have to say Chris that your idea to post Rick stories really cheered me up after several tough days. It was great therapy to recall my favourite Rick moments.
    I met Rick at Queen’s in 1990, and my first recognition of his off-beat sense of humour was the door of his graduate residence room, which was covered with Charlie’s Angels bubblegum cards.
    For the February break in 1991, we drove to New York City, which was an important milestone for this wide-eyed Saskatchewan boy. He was determined to reveal to me the special pleasures of jazz, and after a couple of evenings at jazz clubs I was hooked. We still listen to Bill Evans, one of his favourites, every Sunday afternoon here.
    His first extended visit to Toronto was in 1993. I had moved here the year before, and had the great fortune to fall into a circle of female friends. Showing no signs of nerves when I arranged to introduce Rick to this group (Laura, Diana, Sal, Pat and Sue)at a bar on Queen St., he started off by lighting up a cigarette and recited the classic Woody Allen line – “The only reason I smoke is because it makes me look so incredibly sexy”. Amidst roars of laughter, all the women, up to now clean-living non-smokers, succumbed to the sentiment and immediately lit up. It took some of them years to shake the habit again.
    He travelled extensively after his Toronto visit but we kept in touch by mail. Thank goodness Melissa forbade me last year from discarding his work-of-art letters in one of my very rare cleaning frenzys. Even the return-address names on his envelopes were priceless, as he was very sympathetic to my passions of the day:
    “Richaelangelo Anonionigleason” – in honour of my favourite director;
    “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan” – ditto for my Joyce phase;
    “Gary Bergman” – in homage to our shared infatuation with early 70s hockey players – Last month I subscribed to cable so that I could record ESPN Canada’s replay of all eight games of the 1972 Canada – Russia series. I was really looking forward to watching these with Rick when he arrived in Toronto.
    Then there was our trip to Charlottetown, Tobago for the millenial new year. Melissa and I planned for this trip a year in advance, and Rick just could not resist quitting his job-for-life at Ontario Hydro to join us. He arrived in Tobago a few days after us and managed to find the least expensive flat in town. He became great friends with his landlord, whose name, Gifford Neptune, he never tired of reciting.
    On December 31,1999, Melissa, Rick and I, along with Torsten Lomparski, a fellow backpacker we had befriended, stumbled our way by dim kerosene lamp down the 500 meter path and 150 steps to the deserted beach, and at the appointed minute, hurled ourselved into the warm Caribbean, each with our own bottle of Champagne (actually two bottles each in the case of Rick and Torsten). After an hour of frolicing in the surf, we managed to amble our way to the one club in town. Rick, of course, outlasted us all, and, as he related the next day, when Torsten passed out on a bench outside the bar, he followed the male code of honour – and left him there. Fortunately Torsten never held that against him.
    Rick was back in Toronto for his 35th birthday, which I remember distinctly because I was definitely the default companion – he was pining for two women at the time – Becky (from England) and Kelly (from Australia) (Does anyboby know if they are aware of these sad events? – I know he kept in touch with them via e-mail).
    Since then we had kept in touch via his cheerful bi-weekly telephone calls from Vancouver. Melissa and I were really looking forward to his moving back out east.
    His last e-mail to us was from the Taipei airport en route to Bali. He signed off with “ciao for niao”. I hope he’s right.
    See you in Whitehorse.

  15. R or C : “So, what’ve you been doing the last couple of years?”
    C or R : “Tuggin’.”

  16. Hi Chris and everyone else, it’s Melissa McCormack writing from Canada.
    I met Rick for the first time at a lively party in January of 1999. Rick showed up with a box set of Burt Bacharach’s music. It wasn’t long before we were all giggling and singing schlocky tunes like “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” Rick stole the show, of course.
    I feel so lucky to have spent the millennium celebrations with Rick in Tobago. At midnight, we were swimming in the ocean and trying to balance bottles of champagne against the force of the waves. The next day, Rick said his Y2K crisis was waking up that morning to find that he was still wearing his boots and that the lights in his room were still on.
    It’s really cheered me up to read these stories about Rick.

  17. I’m having problems coming up with a defining Rick story. So here’s a couple email blurbs of his still on my hard drive:
    Me: So the Canucks beating the stuffing out of the Detroit Red Wings would be
    another victory in the war on big business?
    Rick: More like another victory against Big Bird.
    (get it? red wings? big bird / big business? Come on – Boy, keep your eye on the ball – ‘eye ball’, boy, ‘eye ball’![nice kid, not too bright…])
    Me(commenting on a list from the NME of the top 50 most influential pop artists of the past 50 yrs): Ya gotta love a mag that has Frank Sinatra tied with Primal Scream…
    Rick: Actually Frank Sinatra did a duet with Primal Scream. They did “I got your knife Under my skin”: a lovely lilting death industrial jazzy shriek ballad. (just about put the other lovely lilting death industrial jazzy shriek ballad guy outta business)
    A typical Rick signoff:
    Kowabunga ipso facto nice lady,

  18. David,
    Kelly does know about Rick. I believe she visited Dick and Audrey while they were here in Melbourne and passed on her condolences and support. I missed her unfortunately, but Dick told me that she had been to see them.

  19. Wow… don’t know either one of you… but your posts, and the comments accompanying, have brought me to tears.
    I found you through someone who found my blog. Tonight, I know why, and be assured, its no coincidence. Take care and all my best. God Bless You.

  20. « Waa waa! »
    When we picked up the phone and heard this, we knew it was Rick, and dutifully responded “Waa Waa.”
    Perhaps many of you don’t know, but Rick was a lover of Pingu, the animated claymation Penguin. Waa Waa is the sound Pingu makes out of his trumpet like beak. Not quite sure how it all started…but it was way before we had our daughter. That was just one of the funny things about Rick. He took a joke and ran with it…for years.

  21. “Don’t call me ‘crazy legs’!”, which of course compelled me to call him ‘crazy legs’ at every possible opportunity.
    I remembered this today : We invented a special dance for attracting rides while hitchhiking in Scotland in winter (we never were very clever), and honed it to a fine art. When things were really dire, Rick would give oncoming cars ‘googly eyes’, and this would almost guarantee someone would stop.

  22. Thanks for the update Aaron. Here’s a Rick story from Rick, in a letter dated April 2, 1994 from Malaysia:
    Had a funny experience the other day in Kuala Lumpur. I decided to visit a mosque area (trying to awaken my moribund spirit through exposure to a ruthlessly spiritual religion, I figured) and the gate dude made me wear a robe thing to cover up my naked legs (an affront to Allah and a turn-on for the female believers)(kind of like young Sinatra visiting)(I wish). Anyhoo, as I was wondering about I caught my reflection in some glass doors and of course broke out laughing: here I am, long hair, beard, robes – Jesus visiting a mosque! I felt like it was a great day, a reconciliation, if you will, between two of the world’s great religions. Synthesis between their religion (Islam) and mine (Hedonism).

  23. The Perfect Day…
    This line came from a Simpson’s episode where Homer doesn’t go to church one Sunday. He enjoys wizzing with the door open, waffle runoff, a three stooges movie and a football game. It’s the perfect day.
    Once every 6 months or so one of us would phone the other and say those 3 words. The meaning was obvious. It meant playing hookey from work. A brilliant day in Vanland unhindered by work, spent watching a good movie, or running the sea wall, or going to the beach with a thermos of gin and tonic.
    A gloriously perfect day…

  24. Fall has clearly arrived at Shadow Lake in the Kawarthas. It was at this time of the year a few autumns ago that Rick spent a weekend with John & me, Melissa & David at our lakeside home.
    A very vivid memory of that weekend remains with me today. It was a warm, Sunday afternoon & Rick, David & I sat down by the lake, decadently enjoying good (often humorous) conversation & one of David’s special martinis. The sky was very blue & provided a great backdrop to the brilliant fall colours of the trees around us.
    Recently, one of those trees came down & left a large, open, empty space between our house & the lake. This past weekend, in Rick’s memory, David transplanted a sugar maple from a rather obscure location to one of greater prominence where the old tree used to be. We will be able to see it & enjoy it from almost every location in & around our home.
    We will always remember Rick but will especially think of him when Autumn returns to this maple tree that is so colourful & so very Canadian.

  25. Another story I’ve rescued from elsewhere about a time Rick and I shared.
    Back in ’89, we lived for about 3 or 4 months in an old brick house on the promenade in Portobello, an oddly-named suburb of Edinburgh, down by the black and frigid Firth of Forth. In true UK style, attempts had been made to somehow tranform this gloomy seaside stretch into a pleasuredrome. And in equally true-to-form fashion, it ended up being a brutal concrete ribbon slapped down along the water, lined with pubs and arcades, mobile chippies and grey, squat buildings. It’s possible that it came alive during the summer and transformed into an endless parade of colour and life, a circus of oceanic playfulness and open-hearted leisure-seekers. I don’t know. I was there from September to January, and it was grey, cold, and stormy.
    But I loved it. Rick, who’d scouted out this rooming house months earlier, would be home from his backpacker job at Marks & Spencers and reading and scribbling in his room upstairs, and Stiffy, the other university pal I’d come over to the Old Country with, would still be at his mysterious chemlab job, and I’d be feeling, well, inspired. Sunset would come, and I’d drink a bottle of the cheap Hungarian red plonk (Blood of the Bull) that was prominently displayed in all the local bottleshops, pop cassette one of Rattle and Hum into the Walkman and cassette two into the pocket of my voluminous, secondhand, $40 overcoat, and go walking along the seawall. The wind was invariably howling, and the sea raging. Low clouds scudding in. I was 23, and the life I saw laid out before me was a series of choices between ‘fun’ , ‘more fun’, and ‘dangerously ecstatic’. It was sweet. I read Living Marxism magazine because the young lady who always stood on the same corner of Princes’ Street handing it out was pretty as a mountain meadow, and her Edinburgh accent made the skin of my scrotum wrinkle every time she spoke to me. Every week I’d help the crusty, grumpy, parsimonious 70-year-old landlord, Mr Craig, and go and refill the natural gas canisters that fueled our gas fires and kept the damp off our bones. Hungover in the morning, I’d pull the thin, lumpy pillow over my head when the call would go up in the morning to Rick and old drunk coughing Jimmy and Irish Paddy, who were paying for room and board : “Right Jimmeh, right Paddeh, right Reekeh, brukfust!”
    I would spend the day re-reading Henry Miller, chain-smoking Silk Cuts, deciding what to drink that evening, and on weekends, Rick would join me with more wine, and vodka and tins of Tennants’ lager. It was a fine time. In January, the Bearman arrived, and adventures ensued.

  26. Rick’s Nixon-impression voice: “Get down on your knees and pray, Henry!”
    My Kissinger-impression voice in response : “Richard, Richard, you’re drunk again!”

  27. Rick Gleason on opening lines:
    “Hi, my name’s Rick. The P is silent.”

  28. Back in 9-6 it was ( old Yukoner accent ), the summer of love, we called it, and we seemed to spend a number of days near bodies of water. In the daytime. Usually without booze, for a change. One of those days found us in a North Vancouver park, looking across the water to Port Moody. A big dog had just come out of the water with a stick. It walked up to me and shook, covering me with sea water and sand. I swore like a sailor, much to Rick’s delight. A couple other dogs tried the same thing ( maybe it was a slightly less disgusting way or marking their territory? ), to a little less degree of success. For the rest of the summer, whenever a wet dog would even look at me the wrong way, Rick would point at me and laugh, calling me a big wet goofy dog magnet ( as opposed to a babe magnet – another running gag. I can’t remember the origin of that one ). And I would laugh too, as long as the damn dog kept it’s distance…

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