Sure like to ball

Good Golly Miss Molly, indeed.

In the year 2000, or thereabouts, I shook my maraca with London Ontario’s rockabilly rebels, The Black Holes. On the bass, Jedd House. On guitar, Tom Hillborn. On vocals and rhythm guitar, Vince Braca and, behind the drum kit, the madman who was part Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Keith Moon…ladies and gentleman, music lovers of all ages, Sean Anderson.

Sean was my co-worker at CFOS/Mix 106.5 in Owen Sound and, soon after his arrival in town, he dared to enter what was then a dive with a Capital D….the Coach Inn. The Coach booked mostly country bands on weekends but Sean managed to get the Holes a gig in a room where, if you could lift your head for just a few seconds, you could get another drink. To this day, I can picture a a young fella somehow standing between two tall tables, passed out, arms outstretched like a drunken Icarus.

It was usually during the Holes second set, after I’d downed a few Formosa Springs (I miss that beer) that Sean would call me up to the stage, hand me that giant maraca (it was two the first time but I found swinging one in a hammer-like fashion did the trick) and the band would rip into Johnny B Goode.

My repertoire grew to include Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away, done more like the Stones version, and Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly.

A year or so after my Coach Inn debut, the Holes and I drove to Casino Rama to see Little Richard.

The self-proclaimed architect of rock and roll was in his late ’60s. Moving gingerly, but game. And gay. Very gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But Richard, who has spent over 60 years being gay, getting religion, denouncing homosexuality, accepting it and…what day is it? On that night, the man born Richard Penniman expressed his desire for one of his band mates, a young African American sax player.

And Michael Jordan.

Sean’s girlfriend Jennifer was part of our group. She was thrilled when Richard sang “Jenny, Jenny,” and though Jenn and Sean broke up later, they eventually got back together and are the proud parents of 5-year-old Ruth.

The Holes always included Richard’s “Rip it Up” in their shows. Richard did not play that one at Casino Rama that night despite our repeated shoutouts. Fair enough. I’m sure Richard and his band had rehearsed their set list over and over and if the singer preferred Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill over one his own tunes, hey, it’s his show.

Little Richard turned 85 today. Witnessing his frail state nearly two decades ago, I would not have bet on Richard making it this far. So glad I was wrong in that assessment.

Happy Birthday, Richard Wayne Penniman, born December 5th, 1932 in Macon, Georgia.

Thanks for the music. My radio friend Handsome Dick Manitoba calls Little Richard the greatest rock and roll singer of all time and, considering Richard’s influence on The Beatles and many other performers, I would agree. A force of nature. A talent like no other. If not the architect of rock and roll, Little Richard is part of the foundation.

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The death of small town news

Jane can correct me but I think it was the birth of her daughter Paige Phillips that created an opening for a copywriter at CFOS in Owen Sound. Jane went on mat leave, I took the temporary job that ended up lasting nearly 30 years, and counting.

Prior to that, I had put my hopes in being a reporter for a new weekly newspaper in Owen Sound. I’d just quit a job as editor of of a monthly art and collectibles publication and the man heading the new paper had a pretty impressive career in journalism.

It never got off the ground.

Had it hit the streets, even for a few months or so, my career may have been dramatically different. Reminds me of Archibald “Moonlight/Doc” Graham from Field of Dreams. Never got to bat in the major leagues and quit baseball to become a doctor. When Ray Kinsella suggests it was a tragedy that young Archie was five minutes away from his dream, the older Doc says, “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”

Had that paper launched, I may never have become Johnny Maraca.

And, I could be like hundreds of medium and small-town newspaper employees left unemployed after this happened.

As Dave Bidini wrote in this excellent piece, “This is also the kind of writing that holds polluters and developers accountable in small towns. In large swatches, it is no more.”


We can’t be Cher and turn back time. We can’t un-invent the internet, Facebook or Twitter. And yes, truth be told, you would not be reading this without access to social media.

But a part of me died this week after the closing of all those small-town publications, including Barrie, Collingwood and Orillia. Yes, we read our news online and few of us would agree to pay even less than we gave to our paperboys 30 or 40 years ago to keep the print versions alive. News has become Netflixed. Pay a small monthly fee, or nothing.

For the record, I do subscribe to The Washington Post. The journalism grad in me is willing to pay (a very low international fee) to read one of the world’s great newspapers. They brought Nixon down.

And, as I sympathize with those jobless writers, editors and everyone else who took pride in providing local news, I’m also betting the executives at Torstar and Post Media are still dining at Toronto’s finest restaurants and paying more for their annual country club memberships that many of their former employees earned during the past year.

Yeah, downsizing. Restructuring. Go fuck yourselves, you soulless, heartless pricks.

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Get out your big ten inch…

Yes, ladies, you do not want to see our…

Tallywhacker. Trouser snake. Schlong. Wand (regardless of the magic it supposedly wields). Dong. John Thomas. Wiener, Anthony and otherwise. Pecker.

In the Steve Martin movie, “The Jerk”, the lead character is rather proud of what his mother called his “special purpose.”

His lady love says she’s looking for a man with a special purpose.

“I’ve got one!”

But it’s not special. It’s a piece of anatomy. Neither ugly nor beautiful. It’s just…there. Serves a purpose, allows us to empty our bladders and write our names in the snow. Makes babies. Feels good while doing so and even when not procreating.

But…to whip the old lad out in an effort to wow a woman and, if that doesn’t do the trick, to ejaculate into a potted plant? Are you not entertained?


Good heavens, Harvey. You can pay for any perverted fantasy and make it a reality and if Trump can do it, why can’t you?

And why would Brett Favre or any man think his object of desire would be happy to receive a photo of his penis? C’mon, Brett. You’d be better off sending a pic of your right bicep muscle. This won a Super Bowl!

I have a special purpose. It has been revealed only to females who were willing participants in a shared experience. It has no powers beyond pleasure and won’t result in a movie role or becoming assistant manager at a Burger King in Alabama.


No, it is truly a member. Not deserving of special treatment or acclaim. Picasso did not paint one (well, if he did he did not sell it). It’s flesh, veins and…yuck. Bill Clinton’s was only noteworthy because it belonged to the leader of the free world. Did Monica describe Little Willie in her book?

Can we blame Sigmund Freud? To this today I think of him as the character from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure…Sigmund Frood…who waves a hot dog at young females in a mall food court. Penis envy, he said. And how fitting is this photo of Siggy, with a cigar?

Envy? Though I do have to admit, a former female co-worker WAS impressed by the snow writing ability. So, writing envy, perhaps.

I have to pee. Thanks for reading.

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On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and it’s up for sale.

When I was a journalism student in the early ‘80s, I aspired to be a writer for Rolling Stone. My dream job. My instructors at Centennial College gave me the skills to be newspaper reporter and while I may have also seen myself as a small market Woodward or Bernstein what I really wanted was…


I’ve been listening to the Volume channel on Sirius/XM and longtime RS writer Alan Light participated in a radio roundtable with Brian Hiatt and Dave Marsh on the magazine’s history, legacy and influence.

What Rolling Stone had was access. To Janis, Jimi, John Lennon, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Springsteen, Taylor Swift and the Rolling Stones. Not just a 20-minute phone interview or a media scrum but hours and even days alone with famous people and, had I been able to interview Stevie Nicks in her home, I would have been in heaven. I had a huge crush on Stevie.


Stevie Nicks, and a cockatoo (I have a cockatiel named Ringo).

I did start down that path.

At 22, I volunteered at a weekly hometown newspaper called the Scarborough Mirror and ended up writing the Pub Crawl feature. Compiling the weekly bar listings and letting readers know what acts were playing at Tony’s East or the Knob Hill Hotel. Santers, Teenage Head, Goddo and Lee Aaron.

The Metal Queen.


The Metal Queen. Still rockin’. John Albani runs a studio in Nashville.

During this period I also set up an interview with Aaron. Wherever you are, Ray VanDoorn (Aaron’s road manager and former keyboard player in her high school band), thanks!

Ray and Lee agreed to meet me in manager Bob Connolly’s office at Jarvis and Wellesley, (Bob was out of town) with the idea of using Aaron as the subject of an article for my college magazine writing class, and having the feature run in the Centennial College newspaper. The latter never happened because the editor was a fan of new wave rock and thought metal was for idiots.

The Scarborough  Mirror nearly derailed my journalism career. Apparently, while I was providing my services for free, and riding two buses and the subway to get to their office in the northern part of Scarberia, the editor felt I wasn’t gung-ho enough to be a reporter. Too quiet, didn’t beg and plead for assignments.

And yet…

This guy agreed to my co-op placement at the Mirror, with reservations, and cut me loose after two weeks. To this day, I blame my program coordinator. Why send me there when I had two strikes against me?


Thank heavens for David Farrell at The Record.

I contacted The Record on my own, no help from the college, and David agreed to let me spend the semester at what was, at the time, Canada’s version of Billboard. News about the music trade, free records and concert tickets (thanks Nick Krewen for passing along the Jethro Tull tix way back when, great show!).

David also bought me a ticket for that year’s Juno Awards where I ran into Lee Aaron and nodded at the likes of Carole Pope, Gil Moore of Triumph, Luba and Kim Mitchell.

After graduation, I found employment at a nationally distributed arts and collectables magazine called Insight on Collectables. In Durham, Ontario. When I answered the ad in the Globe & Mail, I thought it meant Durham Region…Oshawa, Whitby…but no, the Durham that’s 30 miles south of Owen Sound, where I settled.


One of Insight’s contributors was Howard Ferguson, who had obviously read Rolling Stone because he fancied himself as the Canadian collectables industry version of RS legend Hunter S. Thompson. Howard would write profiles of artists and devote the bulk of his pieces to the journey, in a nod to Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and gonzo style of journalism.

In the radio roundtable I mentioned earlier, Light spoke with pride about Rolling Stone’s tireless efforts to fact check every piece (yes, they ran embarrassing articles that turned out to be bogus but those were the exceptions) and paraphrased Thompson in saying if you’re going to call someone a pig fucker, you’d better produce the pig.

Thank you, Rolling Stone. For Hunter, P.J. O’Rourke, William Greider, Dave Marsh, Matt Taibbi and scores of journalists that continue to inspire me.

By the way, I fell into radio by accident and, due to my association with 97.7 the Beach, I’ve become friends and tennis buddies with Santers bass player Rick Lazaroff and, at the Wasaga Blues Festival a few years back, I chatted with Kim Mitchell (we have a mutual friend here in the beach).

Rolling Stone Founder Jann Wenner has said it’s time for younger folks to take the reins, hence the magazine being up for sale.

I still read Rolling Stone on my Flipboard app and hope it continues to publish for many years to come, in whatever form. I’ll be reading, and hey, if my byline can ever appear in the magazine, Jann and the editors know where to find me.


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