Pan Am Adventure pt2: Beer & Pizza at Aquatic Centre… When the F%!K did Swimming Become So Cool?

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One guy with his hand hanging out of an SUV raises his middle finger in salute to our high occupancy lane entitlement. We fly past; I smile and say to no one in particular “should’ve won those Edge interns from Fred & Mel dingus.”

My eleven year old Rowan asks “What Daddy?”

“Nothing”

“Were you talking at other drivers again?”

“I would never dream of it!”

Walking through the gates at the Pan Am Aquatic Centre, I notice huge differences between the Ajax Ball Park, and this new state-of-the-art sports centre. Ajax had tents serving hot dogs and hamburgers, while Scarborough got hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and a tent devoted to shawarma. Dammit, I would’ve eaten here if I’d known I wasn’t limited to chip truck food.

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Taking our seats, I see people walking by with beer and pizza in their hands. WTF – when I was a Speedo-wearing teenage swimmer we couldn’t get a frickin’ chocolate milk into the stands. When did swimming become cool? Could it be swimming is on par with… dare I say… curling. Here, I see smiling patrons walking up the stairs with their hops and barley delights stacked three cans high. That is, until they try to find their seats. The stickers on the metal stairs are small and one gentleman is already so confused he can’t figure out row numbers until I actually count them out for him… three times. Of course, this could be about the heat. The pool seems to be kept at hot tub temperatures, meaning the humidity is worse inside tonight than it was several days ago at the softball game in full afternoon sun.

The first race is the Women’s 400 Individual Medley. Seventeen year old Emily Overholt is taking Canada on a thrill ride. The crowd is going insane. You would swear it was a Stanley Cup playoff game, with fans on their feet screaming encouragement in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English simultaneously. For all of a minute it looked like we would be hearing our national anthem, until some official takes it upon themselves to change the soundtrack.

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First in the women’s 400 IM and then in the men’s, the gold medal wasn’t decided in the pool, but by some overzealous officials in plastic chairs at each end of the pool who disqualified them. First Overholt and then Brazilian Thiago Pereira were stripped of places atop the podium for a non-simultaneous wall touch. This rule, that no one actually enforces, is very hard to catch and is pointless as it doesn’t give a swimmer any clear advantage. Boos rang out and later appeals by the teams were to no avail.

Still, Canadians were undeterred by officiating gaffs, putting in outstanding performances resulting in medals for every event. Sydney Pickrem was bumped up to silver in the Women’s 400 IM and Luke Reilly moved to silver in the men’s event. Noemie Thomas and Katerine Savard finished 2-3 in the Women’s 100 M Butterfly while Santo Condorelli finished with a bronze on the men’s side. Canadians finished the night with a bronze in the 4 x 200 M Women’s Freestyle Relay. By the night’s end Canada took home five medals, a great performance.

Without the familiar “O Canada”, my seven year old son had refused to stand during one medal ceremony, disappointed by hearing an unfamiliar anthem. After it finished playing, I leaned down for a chat.

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“Evan, do you know why I stand and respect national anthems from other countries.”

“No”

“Well, it is because they are us! People come from all over the world to live in Canada, and every flag you see being raised is a part of our flag.”

“No it isn’t.”

Seeing his blank expression I realize a few things. He is seven, this isn’t a TV show life lesson and I’m not Kermit the Frog.

“Ok, here’s the deal. You stand or I can talk at you about trouble and punishment until you cover your ears and beg for mercy.”

In return I get the pouty look of wrath; Evan’s eyes promising that if he remembers this moment in ten years, he’ll make my life a living hell by becoming the teenage version of me.

Leaving the venue I look over at the Shawarma tent and envision athletes gathered around the table like Avengers. Voice over: “After a hard battle against tremendous odds, our heroes enjoy a quiet meal of tangy goodness. All is right again in the world.”

Learn To Pull The Trigger or Matthew Sweet – 100% Fun

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A life time ago it seems I was getting the opportunity to interview some of my favorite artists for the now defunct id Magazine. In this case, it was the summer of 1995 and I was in my new overheated cheap rent apartment having just finished university. Sitting beside the phone random chords were filling the air as I strummed my guitar for no one but myself to hear. Once the phone did ring I was talking with Matthew Sweet for the better part of 30 minutes about his recently released album 100% Fun.

I wish I could reprint the article, or even remember the questions and answers, but it was a different time. While I have the interview on disc, it is one of those old 2.5 inch plastic jobs that haven’t been used in computers since before the turn of the century. The actual interview was recorded on a mini cassette, but I have no working player to even hear it with. So all I can tell you is this… he was super nice and patient with me when I asked him for the chords to the song “Someone To Pull The Trigger” from his previous record Altered Beast.

I hadn’t been playing guitar for all that long and I really wanted to learn how to play this song, but unlike the current version of the internet, you couldn’t just Google or YouTube to get answers – so I asked.

Remarkably, he laughed and started giving me the chords in enough detail to allow for a beginner, even giving me alternate and easier ways to play them. I’m guessing I thanked him for both the interview and the guitar lesson, but honestly, I don’t remember how things ended other than I was sweating in an overheated south facing shit-hole with a lovely view of the Humber River, trying to learn how to play a Matthew Sweet song that I really loved.

As the summer continued, “Sick Of Myself” was in heavy rotation at CFNY (the Edge) and I found myself turning off the radio when the song ended and picking up my guitar for another shot at figuring out my one and only guitar lesson. Unfortunately, I think I stopped trying when I finally attempted to add my own vocals and scared all the birds away from my balcony.

Anyway, 100% Fun is a classic power-pop record full of chiming guitar, powerful hooks and sing-a-long choruses that hide a wee bit of darkness and self loathing in the overall lyrical content. It is a record I keep coming back to year after year, and is one of my favorite albums to hear on those long drives. It is being re-issued later this month on 180 gram wax by Music On Vinyl over in Europe. I’m sure you can order it at your favorite local record retailer or online store.

Sweet is also working on a new record that will hopefully arrive at my door before the annual Christmas specials have me contemplating an apartment on the moon.

The Mystery of Elastica (and Alan Cross) – On the Path to Vinyl Glory

So, I’m driving in the car the other day when an episode of Alan Cross’ Adventures in Vinyl pops on the radio featuring Elastica. (http://www.edge.ca/2014/12/11/adventures-in-vinyl-elastica-line-up-1995/) I think cool, I enjoy listening to Cross and I love this little piece of 90’s nostalgia with a band I quite enjoy. Towards the end of the episode he mentions that Elastica ‘may’ be releasing a heavyweight vinyl edition of their debut for Record Store Day 2015. News of this was pretty damn perky to my ears, so I was excited to hear about it. The very next day, I’m in my local record store looking through the bins for a re-issue that I had yet to get my hands on, when “BANG” there is the Elastica debut. I immediately flip it to check the record company and date, and it is marked 2014 Kanine Records. Beyond that, it doesn’t say much. So, I buy it… with some trepidation as I don’t want to be shelling cash out again in April for the same thing I am now. I mean the heavyweight vinyl with booklet or extensive liner notes sounds awesome, but it also makes this piece of wax a little redundant. Elastica-1995-Elastica http://kaninerecords.com/product/elastica-elastica/ At home I open it to discover this very cool translucent red vinyl that would have been perfect for… you guessed it, Record Store Day. So, as the turntable spins and the first notes of “Connection” start sending vibrations through the floor, my youngest (6) starts doing his interpretive dance and I begin to google. Elastica-vinyl-shot-e1400267158906 From what I could piece together, Kanine Records was supposed to have issued the Elastica eponymous album for Record Store Day 2014 (April), but it was delayed. Instead this edition was released a month later in May of 2014. It is a pretty slick looking record that sounds great, but… What about 2015? The Kanine web site has no mention of their 2015 releases for Record Store Day (but it is still early), and a quick note to Alan Cross via ‘102.1 the Edge’ (I’m sure he is very busy) hasn’t resulted in any answers. So, is this it for the Elastica debut, or is some better edition coming down the pipe in April? Seeing as Kanine has this version as ‘sold out’ it might make for a decent second run… Guess we’ll have to wait and see.