What team do you play for?

I’m a team player but, with apologies to Lorde, I’m not on anyone’s team.

Teams used to unite us. Now, thanks to Zuckerberg and his team that sells our data to other teams, teams divide us. Setting up showdowns of faiths (or lack of any faith), ideologies, political leanings and our love of animals, babies, pizza, movies, TV shows, beer or wine (Obikwa Shiraz, you rock!).

I’ve lost Facebook friends because I was accused of being on the wrong team. Two people had a dispute and both took the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome approach. One man/woman enter, one man/woman leave.

Can’t I still be friends with both? Apparently not.

The Philadelphia Flyers have always been my team. They won two Stanley Cups in the mid-’70s and were the most hated team in hockey. The Broad Street Bullies. Bending the rules, playing dirty, intimidating the opposing team. And they had the goalie that put the two best back-to-back seasons in NHL history on the record books, Bernie Parent.

Bumper stickers at the time said only the Lord (not Lorde, though I’d bet she’s a good athlete) saves more than Bernie Parent.

What I loved most about that team, well…

They never gave up and even if the game was lost, Clarke and company looked at the scoreboard and said, “4-0. Let’s make it 4-1 or 4-2 and show the other team that we battle till the end.”

And…the lack of celebration.

OKAY, GUYS, THERE’S MORE WORK TO BE DONE

If Bobby scored a goal he didn’t jump in the air or pump his fist. No. The look on his face said, “We worked hard for that, we deserved it…let’s keep plugging away.”

On a side note, Leafs fans will remember Rick Vaive for reacting to every goal he scored…but not assisted on…as if he’d won the lottery. Big jump. “Look what I did!”

Side note, in my college days my classmate Mirna’s mother worked at a restaurant across the street from Maple Leaf Gardens and her Mom, who had served Ricky many times, arranged for us to meet the Leaf’s sniper.

Vaive didn’t show up.

Prior to the last U.S. election you may recall I posted something along the lines of, “If you support Trump in any way….”

Ummm, you could have interpreted it as a big Fuck Off.

Because you were on that team. Not really a team, c’mon. Unless it’s the team of you don’t really follow world affairs or politics and think all parties are corrupt and bought and what the hell, why not this guy who talks like a professional wrestler and was born on third base and says he’s hit a homerun though he’s struck out more times than you could be bothered to actually read about or investigate beyond coffee shop banter…

Hang on…

As I’m typing this, Deep Tracks on Sirius/XM, hosted by the great Jim Ladd, is playing Elvis Presley’s version of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode, So cool!

And, as Johnny Maraca, now and forever, I will go.

I BET SHE DOES!

To a Monty Python reference. “Your wife…does she go? I bet she does.”

I go off in tangents. Streams of consciousness. As George Wroebel…grade 10 history teacher wrote on my report card, “You are basically an enigma. You write well in a style that is peculiarly your own.”

Translation: I passed you because your essay questions were short on facts but entertaining.

I don’t want to be on your team unless it involves baseball, volleyball or tennis doubles.

You don’t have to be on mine.

And that’s fine.

Respecting each other’s views should be what matters most and the key word is respect.

There’s a town hall meeting that occured priot to the 2008 election and it featured an exchange between Repulibcan nominee and war hero John McCain and and eldery woman and GOP team member who said Barack Obama was a commnist.

“No ma’m,” McCain said. “He’s decent family man.” McCain went on to say it was simply that he and Obama had differing views on how America should be run.

Differing views. Mutual respect. Put that in your algorithms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram….

As soon as you start using words like idiot and moron, your side of the argument is over. I wasn’t a fan of Stephen Harper but, even though I disagreed with his views on how Canada should be run, he was (and is) an intelligent fellow, a decent family man and someone who had the country’s best interests at heart.

THE OTHER FORD

Though if Rob (sorry, Doug, though he will ever live in his brother’s shadow) becomes the Ontario Premier….

Doug Ford. Not Rob. If’s so hard to separate them. If you’re on his team then fuck off.

No, you can fuck back on.

If you can explain why he should be the leader of our provincial government and do it in a way that doesn’t say “team” as much as why it would affect you personally…unless you’re rich so remove yourself from the debate…I’m willing to listen to your views as an individual, rather than part of….

A team.

My Flyers lost in the first round. Though the playoff pool run by the father of my friend and volleyball teammate Amanda allowed for a re-set…meaning you can trade players who are out for players who are still in….

So…

Go Sharks and Jets!

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Rockin’ at The Knob

For anyone who hasn’t lived in Toronto, Scarborough (or as it has been slagged, for decades, Scarberia) is part of the Greater Toronto Area and has been either a suburb of T-O or a city in its own right.

Back in the early ’80s Toronto’s Best Rock, Q107, posed this question:

“What’s the definition of a cultural event in Scarborough?”

Answer…Goddo at the Knob.

Toronto’s hard rockers Goddo played the Knob Hill Hotel dozens of times. I saw them once at that suburban venue and to this day, two memories remain. As I and my friends Gord Howard and Alfie Petitti were paying the cover charge in the lobby, one patron staggered out of the showroom and vomited at our feet.

Welcome to The Knob.

The other memory? Even though it was the early ’80s, Greg Godovitz introduced Goddo’s tune ‘Under My Hat” as such…

“This is a song you all should know because we’ve been playing it for so fucking long.”

I’ll cut Greg, Gino and Doug some slack. Maybe an off night. Maybe Greg had a shitty day.

But the Knob was my rock club during my days at Centennial College, when I aspired to be a writer for Rolling Stone, sitting in Stevie Nicks’s living room and starting my profile of Stevie with colourful descriptions of the decor, the surrounding area or whatever pets Stevie may have owned at the time.

I did arrange for an interview with Canada’s Metal Queen, Lee Aaron, and got to know Karen (real name Karen Greening) and hang out with her and the band in their suite at the Knob between sets. Guitarist George Bernhardt was surprised that I wanted to chat with him as well.

“Everyone wants to talk to Lee…no one wants to talk to us.”

Ahhh, but the dear old Knobbie will always bring back memories of one band, Scarborough’s own Santers. AKA, the Rick Santers Band, who made it on to Q107’s Homegrown album in the early ’80s. A few years later, their version of Free’s “Allright Now” went to #13 on 1050 CHUM’s top 30 chart and got plenty of airplay on the Mighty Q.

Take a look at this cute couple.

Santers bass player Rick Lazaroff and the lady he’s been married to for over 20 years or so, Darlene Watters.

In 2007, I moved to Wasaga Beach and found a tourism website run by Darlene called Wasaga Dot Com. Near the bottom I saw an adverting link. Contact Rick Lazaroff. I did, and told Rick all about my Knob/Scarborough history with the band.

WELCOME TO WASAGA BEACH

We connected and became tennis buddies. As for Darlene, I had seen her band Shattered Heart play at the Harbour Inn, in Owen Sound in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But it all began in that concert room at The Knob. Watching Laz kicking his left leg out and attacking his bass through many Santers tunes and Zep songs (though their best covers were of Mississippi Queen and White Room) and Rick/Ralph Santers/Santer and his brother Mark shaking the foundations as we pounded several Molson Canadian tall boys.

It wasn’t as legendary as The Gasworks (where I also caught Aaron, Santers and Anvil) but The Knob Hill Hotel will forever be in my rock and roll heart as the place where I rocked my weekends away at McCowan and Eglinton.

THE DARDANELLA IS NOW WHAT?

One of my greatest disappointments in moving to Wasaga Beach 11 years ago was finding out the storied rock venue, The Dardanella, had become a dance club. Fuck off! Fuck you and the SeaDoo you rode in on. No one has rocked the Dard in over a decade but if I could have one wish…on what will be the 100th birthday this summer of the grand old lady of the beach…which due to mismanagement and neglect, was only open a grand total of 7 days last summer…

Let The Dard Rock again, and whether you hail from Scarberia, Brampton, Oshawa or wherever, we can feel that bass drum in our gut and raise our glasses to the venues that shaped our lives.

Go back to 1976 and I’m sitting in the Elaine Theatre, across the road from The Knob, and watching what went on to become one of my all time favourite movies, The Bad News Bears.

In the words of Bears shortstop Tanner Boyle, “”I’ll drink to that.”

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Before Elvis there was Bill Haley

My latest iTunes podcast.

Elvis Presley popularized the mix of country and R&B but Bill Haley was there first.

Source material: Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll, by Nick Tosches.

Below, Elvis visits with Haley during Bill’s European tour.

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Facebook had it right in the beginning

Facebook scolded me several years ago.

I can’t recall the exact wording but it was something like, “We’ve noticed you have several friend requests that have gone unanswered or been ignored…please only send requests to people you know personally.”

Followed by an insulting command…you had no other choice…to hit a button that said, “I Understand.”

Facebook was not MySpace. Connecting with random people was discouraged and Zuckerberg and his army of tech watchdogs were watching us. Not to the degree they’ve been tracking us of late but still disturbing. “You bought a Stephen King book on Amazon, here’s an ad for Amazon or something to keep you clicking, sharing, purchasing, posting, clicking again, sharing again.”

The warnings ceased and I was able to connect with people in the radio and music business, and folks I just plain liked.

For example, comedian David Brenner.

I sent David a friend request in 2005 or so. Denied. Brenner had 5,000 friends already. Followed up with a personal message explaining that I’d tried to friend him and while I UNDERSTOOD Facebook’s policy of contacting real life friends or acquaintances, I just wanted to reach out as a fan.

To my great delight, Brenner replied. He joked that contrary to Zuck’s guidelines, he preferred to connect with those he hadn’t met. I saw David in concert at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto in the late ’70s, when Brenner was a regular guest on the Mike Douglas show and a frequent fill-in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

He remembered the O’Keefe. It’s probably a supermarket today, he said. I reassured David that the venue was still a popular theatre. Can’t recall if it was the Sony Centre or The Hummingbird Centre at the time but it had not become a flea market or a parking lot.

JOHNNY’S GUEST HOST TONIGHT IS…

Brenner died in 2014 at the age of 78 so he was in his early 70s when we connected. In our online chats, I got the feeling David felt forgotten by the modern comedy establishment. Why wasn’t he a panelist on Real Time with Bill Maher? After all, it was David’s “Did you ever notice…” that gave birth to Jerry Seinfeld’s “What’s the deal with…”

But….

David Brenner was the exception to Facebook’s real friend only or person you’ve at least said hello to in person policy. I was friends for a short while with Amy Poehler, maybe it was the Canadian connection because of her marriage to Toronto-born Will Arnett. I may have been friends with another Toronto native, Samantha Bee (her aunt Jan lives in Wasaga and is in my volleyball group) until Sam changed her page from a personal one to a fan site.

I am still Facebook friends wth actress Kim Dickens. She was a standout in the HBO’s “Deadwood” and “Treme.” I loved Treme. If you haven’t seen it, the series dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans district of the same name. Treme featured many musicial icons from that city, including Fats Domino.

The recent Facebook privacy scandal resulted in me facing the choice of deleting my account or scaling things back.

I chose the latter.

I cut my friend list in half. Down from 600 plus to whatever it is now and really, do I want to view baby or cat photos from someone I haven’t seen in years? My radio show was cancelled in January (still have an iTunes podcast, check the link on the right side of this site) so having a ton of sort-of friends isn’t much of a benefit now.

It’s not about numbers. It’s about genuine connections. You comment on my posts, and I “react” to yours. Love that Facebook term. Reacted? Did they LOL, shake their fist or faint? Tell me, Zuck, I want to know the details.

REACTING TO YOUR POST, LOL

Then again, “reacted” beats Twitter or Instagram. I challenge any celebrity to reply to a fan on one of those sites. Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez, Fergie, Channing Tatum (my Mom is 91 but she knows who he is!) when a fan replies to your Instagram post with words like beautiful, stunning or love you, you should blow their minds by saying, “Hey, thanks! We should hang out some time.”

Facebook is no different than those sites, in terms of promotion. Be my friend so I can get more customers. Really, why would I befriend or “like” a store I don’t shop at? I will choose, thank you very much. You want a real connection and unless I have bought your products or eaten your food, I’m not much good to you.

And if you post all damn day, I will unfollow.

So yes, Facebook had it right from day one. At best, it’s a way of staying in touch with distant relatives, high school and college friends and former or current co-workers you actually like. Or like-minded folks you’ve never met. Or those in your field of work that inspire and hey, LinkedIn is just fucking boring.

After more than a decade on Facebook I’ve ended up with the list I want. If you found this through Zuck’s data-mining enterprise, cheers. You made Johnny’s cut list.

But…if for some reason you want to cut me, I won’t be offended. It’s only Facebook. Not something we’ve paid for (at least with Amazon I get free 2-day shipping, Mozart in the Jungle and The Looming Tower).

And thanks in this lifetime and the next to David Brenner. I’ll recap one of his best bits. He’s riding the subway in his hometown of Philadelphia (go Flyers!) and sitting on a newspaper. The guy next to him asks David if he’s reading that newspaper. Brenner doesn’t know what to say. The next time it happens, David stands up, turns the page, sits down on the newspaper and says….

“Yes.”

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