Saturday, August 09, 2014

I like Charley Pride

Just found Casey N. Cep's COUNTRY TIME column on Charley Pride and was reminded of what a joy it was to interview him several times during my years in Regina. Here's a preview I wrote for the Leader-Post in advance of his September 2004 concert in Regina. 

Still haven’t decided whether or not to go see country music legend Charley Pride? Here’s a last-minute sales pitch straight from the horse’s
    “It’s the best show on the road today,” Pride said last month from his Dallas, Tex. home. “No brags, just facts. It’s the best show on the road bar none. Lots of familiar tunes, some of the new ones, it’s a guaranteed deal.”
    Originally scheduled for last May, Pride’s Canadian tour had to be postponed after he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma.
    “It’s where the blood for some reason collects down at the bottom of the brain and pushes the brain against the skull,” Pride explained matter-of-factly.
“They had to drill a couple of holes in each side, get some tubes in there, and get it out. So they did that May the 8th and I went back a couple of days ago and
did a full MRI  and they said I’m completely healed. They don’t know, and I don’t either, what caused it, but I’m okay, as of this moment.”
    Even before he went under the knife, Pride was certain of a full recovery. He and his booking agent didn’t hesitate to reschedule all the dates on his first Canadian tour in over a decade.
    “You got ten provinces up there, and I’m really behind on all of them,” Pride said, adding that commitments to a theatre with his name on it in Branson,  Missouri kept him from touring as much as he’d like during the 90s. 
    “You become a victim of your own doing,” he said. “Everyone suffered, only Canada suffered the worst. England wants us, Australia wants us, we just got back
from Norway, and now y’all in Canada wants us. I’m needed in all these places, yet I’m getting old.”
    One concession 66-year-old Pride has made--or rather is trying to make--to age is to trim his annual concert schedule from 117 shows to 45.
    “Saying we gonna cut down is easy doin’, but doin’ it ain’t that easy! Ireland would have us every other week,” Pride said.
    The Mississippi-born Country Music Hall of Famer has no plans to retire, although he wouldn’t mind having a few more free days to play golf. He points to the comedians like Bob Hope and George Burns, who kept performing into their 90s.
    “Those kinds of people, they don’t retire,” Pride said. “They just die. Why did Bob Hope keep going out? Well, he loved them laughs. I love hearing that
applause and feeling that warmth from from an audience.”
    Audiences seem to love seeing and hearing Charley Pride. A few short weeks after his surgery, he made an appearance at the venerable Grand Ole Opry, of which he’s been a member since 1993. He received two standing ovations.
    “They stood up before I even did anything and then they did it again after I was through,” he said. “As a matter of fact, some of my fans think I’m singing
better now than I ever did.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More Meltzer Remixes!

You all seemed to like yesterday's gag a bunch, so here's another Brad Meltzer-written comic remixed with text from Richard Meltzer. From Brad, 2004's Identity Crisis. From Richard, 1972's Gulcher: Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1649-1993). ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Richard Meltzer imagines Batman

For some reason, noted thriller writer Brad Meltzer recently rewrote the very first Batman story, and then Chip Kidd remixed that into the original "Bob Kane" artwork.
Clearly, though, DC picked the wrong Meltzer.
Here, then, are two excerpts from my remix of Batman's first adventure, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" using text from Richard Meltzer's Holes: A Book Not Entirely About Golf.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Hi John ,
Been real busy, haven't had a chance to catch up with you.
I'm glad that--by attributing a fictional quote to my name--you've given me your blessing to write commercial fan-fiction with your name. You're a good sport. My friend Robin has made a few Bitcoins with her Rob Ford fan-fiction (though your Rob Ford fan-fiction was better, I have to admit, fake videos and all that). Obviously, you don't have that kind of brand value, but I've found that readers are often willing to overlook obscure or ignoble characters when there are enough steamy love scenes.
I'm still curious, however, why you thought that attaching a hashtag for a children's hospital fundraiser to some pretty disturbing misogyny was a good idea. I don't suppose you understand yourself anymore than I do.

keep it real,
your pal Emmet

Compare and contrast

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#8 Fraser: field notes

Hastings, Pender.
I see a guy who looks like Lyle, but it can't be Lyle. Lyle's dead.
Vanessa's dead.
Jeff's dead. Theresa, Danny, Gregory.
All of them. I see them all every day.
Keefer Street. All the discount factory outlet stores are shutting down.
New Condos.
Each new building a hundred yuppies and 75 dogs, all them smaller than the last.
Russian nesting lap dogs, they swallow each other.
And the bus is full.
This is a page and another book.
Talent travels, you don’t gotta look at TV to know.
Now it’s the Viaduct, then the train station, dive bars and gastropubs locked in the same death spiral as the city consumes itself.
Empty storefronts because who would
C I T Y G A T E?
Summer Wheel/Main Street
I wouldn’t. It’s Phibbs Exchange on a different level.
It’s just a bus stop.
But soon, people. The Condos are here. The Condos are coming.
This used to be a R[unintelligible] thing. This used to be a parking lot. This used to be an ice cream stand.
This used to be a semi-industrial wasteland. Now it’s someone’s front step. A million dollar view of the Shell station. Not even the most famous Shell station in the Lower Mainland.
This was, not my neighbourhood, but maybe stomping grounds. The neighbourhood next to my neighbourhood.
A waste of space that the mind deleted from memory as soon as you walked through it so that you always though the walk up to Main Street Proper was much shorter than it really is.
I remember when all this junk was brand new.
They burned down Main Street. Make way for the Walmart. Make way for Tim Hortons.

No Walk Offs, the parking lot says. We laugh at the city. We laugh at ourselves. We want to be liked. We want to be held in high regard.But we are all new here. We’re all watching one another and trying to fit in.
Teamsters Building is massive.
St. George - how long does it take?
I’d check on the time but that would only add to my anxiety.
Broadway and Fraser has a hipster butcher shop. It’s all over.
This guy out the window. Well-dressed and hip with gelled hair and leather jacket. Holding two dripping garbage bags. He’s just going to the alley. Allez, alley, Ali.
East 12th. I’m headed to E. 33rd.

Monday, June 23, 2014

This will be the summer.

This will be the summer I get into the Talking Heads or maybe Soundgarden. This will be the summer I learn how to play bass. This will be the summer I learn how to drive. This will be the summer I climb the fence of the swimming pool after midnight. This will be the summer I run away. This will be the summer I drink my first beer. This will be the summer I get my first job. This will be the summer I don’t have to worry about money. This will be the summer I kick Ian Conroy in the balls, when he’s least expecting it, from behind, while he’s playing Street Fighter II at the Gravity Zone. This will be the summer Gina Johnson finally sees what a poseur Ian Conroy is. This will be the summer Gina Johnson finally notices that I am authentic. This will be the summer everyone finds out Ian Conroy is only good at Street Fighter II because he subscribes to Nintendo Power magazine and that’s where he’s learned cheat codes and sneaky tricks.
This will be the summer I steal an issue of Nintendo Power magazine from Ian Conroy’s mailbox and learn some cheat codes of my own. This will be the summer I am king of Street Fighter II and everyone at the arcade will know my name. This will be the summer they’ll carry me up the stairs at the end of the night on their shoulders like a folk hero, out into the cool air and the university students coming in and out of the pub two doors down will wonder what the big deal is, and they’ll ask Graeme, who doesn’t like crowds, who’s not part of the cheering mob, what’s going on. This will be the summer Graeme recounts the legend of how I beat Street Fighter II on a single quarter, fending off challengers both live and automated. This will be the summer Graeme tells them how I beat  the last three opponents with just one hand on the console, because everyone in the place wanted to shake my hand after seeing how decisively I had beaten Ian Conroy when he challenged me, and how I had finally shown him mercy in the end, which he’d never done, not even to Gina Johnson.
This will be the summer the mob carries me on their shoulders down to the 7-Eleven and we can’t all fit through the double door so they have to put me down, but then we all go in and we fill the whole place up because there are too many of us and everybody helps themselves to chocolate bars and Slurpees because everything is free, just for tonight, because I beat Street Fighter II with just one quarter. This will be the summer I walk out into the streetlamp-lit 7-11 parking lot, with a half Coke/half peach Slurpee, and Gina Johnson is waiting for me out there. This will be the summer Gina Johnson says, “I was wrong about you all along. You are authentic.” This will be the summer Gina Johnson sips my Slurpee and asks, “How do get that perfect balance between Coke and peach?” This will be the summer Gina Johnson slips  me a mixtape she’d somehow already made for me and it will be full of Inspiral Carpets and Hoodoo Gurus and Happy Mondays. This will be the summer I ask Gina Johnson, “Do you like Talking Heads?” and she’ll say, “Yes, I love Talking Heads.”
This will be the summer I get busted shoplifting Talking Heads tapes at A&A Music. This will be the summer I get off with a warning. This will be the summer my dad says, “Warning? Hell. We’ll see about that.” This will be the summer I get grounded. This will be the summer I read a hundred books and go back to school in the fall forever changed. This will be the summer Mortal Kombat comes out, but I don’t know about it because I’m stuck at home, painting the fence by day and reading The Count of Monte Cristo at night. This will be the summer my mastery of Street Fighter II becomes irelevant. This will be the summer my dad surprises me with tickets to see Sting. This will be the summer I say, “what about being grounded?” and my dad says, “One night’s clemency.” This will be the summer I know what “clemency” means, from all the books. This will be the summer I call Gina Johnson and ask her if she wants to go to the Sting concert with me. This will be the summer she’ll says she’s already going, but maybe she’ll see me there. This will be the summer I go to the Sting concert with my mom and sit two rows behind Gina Johnson, who never turns around, who never takes her eyes off the stage except to french kiss Ian Conroy when Sting puts on a big, fuzzy purple hat and plays a Jimi Hendrix song. This will be the summer I stop liking Sting.