Let me say that just about the sweetest music to me is when I call, ‘pull,’ the old gun barks, and the referee in perfect key announces, ‘dead’.
Lorde lit up an older Son Lux drop and I swear it’s like Goth through a sousaphone. Bubble doom forever.
Son Lux f Lorde + Alternate Worlds EP  + easy (switch screens).
You are cordially invited to a night of song and dance.
It is not lost on me, the fittingness of the name, Hawkeyes, technically Hawkeyes Too. Not at all lost on me. Certain birds of prey can spot movement over a mile distant, or a deer mouse flittering in the wild grass a hundred feet away. The strong prey on the weak, that is how we know they are the strong, but it works the other way, too, doesn’t it, that facing your victim reminds you of what you did with your strength. The lights in Hawkeyes are dim, and I do not recognize any of the figures as I step inside the bar. I think my vulnerability revolts her.
Hello, she says.
You look good.
She’s standing behind the bar with her phone in her hand. The Filipino, or Vietnamese, or maybe Indonesian, but anyway he manages the bar, he’s got an excellent moustache, a dark well-trimmed chrysalis perpetually about to bloom over an easy smile, is counting the cash in the till beside her. She pins up the corners of her lips and glances up and down the street through the plate glass windows.
Thanks for letting me come, I say. But that’s a mistake, right there, though, to speak so mildly, and mildly inaccurately, too, since, after all, she’s invited me.
You want a beer, she says.
That’s my chance to reverse, to pounce, take charge, so I smile slowly, hopefully not irritating her, and I say, You know I don’t drink anymore.
I guess I forgot, she says.
Except for the one thing.
What thing, she says, but she smiles and then laughs and then frowns.
You remember, I say.
Okay I’ll buy you one, she says.
You don’t have to buy me something, that’s not the deal, I say. You just have to be the one that makes it.
The Filipino lifts his head and looks and looks at her blankly, looks at me, nods and says hello, and moves down the bar toward the entrance. I’m surprised he knows my name.
Whatever, she says, but she likes it, and the mood lightens and the one-armed bandits in the back brighten, bananas and cherries lighting the shadows.
I feel silly just standing here while you’re working, I say.
Don’t worry about it, homes, there’s a table over there, and I’ll play a round with you in a few minutes, she says. She plunks the drink on the bar and jabs it with a yellow straw. I put a five on the laminate and she shakes her head. She says, It’s on me. But I leave the money there and turn away and look at the cheap brown tables empty except for Ry Ry, slumped like a spent avalanche over his pitcher, and when I turn back the five is gone.
Ry Ry and Tender Tim and Ry Ry’s girlfriend are the three I’ve seen the most in this place. Ry Ry has silver hair, greasy, more or less cut short. His girlfriend wears her hair in the exact shade and plastic style of the so-called matte face Brunette #5 barbies, and Tender Tim wears a puffy poor boy hat like the lead singer of AC/DC or a very poor newspaper boy in post World War Two London. There are other regulars, but none more so, and no one who sings louder or stronger. Tender Tim puts his Coors on the counter beside a couple of coins and turns around at the opening notes.
Someone requested I sing this one, he says. I think she likes me. He shambles to the small table beside the television and picks up the dull black microphone and squints at the screen. His head bobs as he murmurs the words inaudibly, his left arm jerks, he feels it, and the words suddenly perk up, climb off the screen, hand over hand up the rope of Tender Tim’s microphone, and stagger lopsided around the room, arms too big, hair wildly permed, but strange and not strange and charming all the same, like your mom’s oversexed cousin drunk by the pool at the family picnic, if your mom’s oversexed cousin wore sequined pasties that shone and winked in the light of heaven reflected off the chlorinated urine and water.
But you made me feel,
Yeah you made me feel
Shiny and new.
Christ, she says from behind the bar. I could have a drink myself.
I’ll buy you one.
Her brown eyes snap. Thanks, homes. What am I having?
Whatever you like.
She snaps a shot of Gordon’s into a small glass, looks around, adds a second, hoses it with tonic and chokes it with a couple of ice cubes and roofs the thing with a slice of lemon. I hand her a ten and ask her for change.
For the pool table, I say.
The men at the table are friendly enough, and it’s early enough, and none of us have had drinks enough for them to get annoyed at me for being the white guy. When I win the game by some fortuitous favour from the heavens similar in scope to that which must have headed off the Spanish Armada or averted any other world changing event, the two men shake their heads, call me a shark, laugh and call me cousin, and wander away. I won the game? I feel like dancing all of a sudden. I feel like strutting around the room.
Here, she says. She’s holding another gin and tonic.
What’s this about?
That guy over there bought you this.
The tables have slowly filled while I played, older men and women, thinly blanketed in their Thursday cheques. A narrow man sitting with the air of a tall man waves at me from one of the softer seats by the widow. He’s older than God, but God doesn’t buy me drinks, so I go over and talk with him a minute, and bring the g and t back to the table.
Are you going to play, I ask.
She racks up and we shoot a few rounds but there’s too many customers and as much as she likes my attention, she can’t return it. I finish off the table.
How’s she cuttin, says a man. Maritimer, mullet, just back from up north. He’s got a welfare cheque in his eyes and in the veins flowering through his nose, though. He says, You gonna be playing then?
Yeah but I don’t bet, I say.
Shame I just got paid, isn’t it, then? But I’ll play you, sure.
I shrug and he racks and we knock away about an hour, me going over to the bar every now and then to talk to her.
Is she your girlfriend, then?
I contemplate a variety of complicated or interesting responses and settle for the simple facts.
I don’t think she’s precisely anyone’s girlfriend.
Maybe I should take a run at her.
His jeans are slightly too large, he’s slightly overweight, and I can’t tell if he’s slightly walleyed or whether it’s just the mickey of Canadian Club in his back pocket.
Guess it couldn’t hurt.
You interested in her?
I’m here, aren’t I?
He puts his pitcher down and slaps his chest. Go for a smoke?
She comes outside with us. I light her cigarette. We watch each other as the short man talks. Occasionally she looks at him and nods and laughs. God but it is cold outside. Short shrugs and says he’ll see us inside.
She says, He’s coming over.
Yeah but we both knew that was always going to happen.
You’ve been texting him the whole time.
No that was my girlfriend.
She’s not in the city. You said yesterday.
Yeah that’s why we’re texting.
Look. You’ve been texting him. That’s why he’s coming over. Why are you fighting this? The only reason he’s ever been to this damn bar is because you invited him. She hands me her cigarette, Bensin & Hedges, menthol, and I take a drag. I mean did the guy even know this place existed before he hooked up with you?
I was being rhetorical.
Well, what are you going to do, though?
I’ll leave if you ask me to.
I’m not telling you what to do.
Then I’ll stay. I’m having a fine time.
Are you going to do something?
I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to behave.
She says, I’ll make you another gin and tonic. But it’s on me this time.
The short guy is from some place called Joe Batt’s Arm. Joe Batt, he says, as was a deserter or something from Captain Cook when the great man was on his way around the world for the first time or whatever. First place the captain docks, Joe Batt he says, I’m outta here, boys, barmp barmp, and pops off into the forest. Figure he was God send Sunday or whatever and lived off inshore cod until he died. Anyways, no work after Igor blasted the place two years back now, boats in the trees, houses down, so I came out here for the jobs.
I don’t have a clue what you’re saying. I’m sorry. I really don’t.
Okay, okay, you’re right there, I guess. Have a pop? He holds out his mickey.
You’re going to get tossed.
I guess I’m a bit cut here.
How you getting home?
I got legs, don’t I, two of them?
It’s nearly midnight. I’ll drive you if you live nearby.
He says yes, and we finish up the table, him leaning more and more over the pasture, and I go up front and tell her I’m taking off with my new friend.
He’s a good guy, she says. We’ve been seeing him around for a bit.
I might come back, I don’t know, I say.
The short man lives just down Boyle McCauley way in the most godawful rowhousing ever, a pile of building looking like gigantic cinderblocks upended and shuffled around to no order. Grates on most of the windows, doors padlocked.
You take care of yourself.
You going back?
Boy, you take care of yourself, she’s a real stick of gum.
I don’t get what that means.
It means, he says. He doesn’t complete his sentence, weaves in front of the door.
You need me to walk you up, I say.
No way, boy. You be careful of yourself. She’s a popper.
Again, yeah, I don’t know what you mean.
Nah, boy, you understand.
Maybe I do.
What are you doing back here, she says. You know he’s here, right?
Oh, it’s okay, I still have a game to play.
What do you mean?
I promised somebody I’d play a table with them.
Let me be, I say. Go talk to your guy or whatever.
He is standing outside the bar waiting out the long slow close, talking to the other bartender who’s having a smoke. I wonder idly what he could be saying. He polishes his spectacles and peers at her, half blind for a few seconds with his glasses in his hand. But he knows I’m here because he hasn’t once looked at me across half an hour. Not even when he comes back inside and stands at the other end of the bar and leans across and speaks to her. I mean, I’m twenty feet away, but maybe the shadows are darker than I knew. Maybe he’s blind as a mole.
Closing, says the Filipino. Tender Tim has one more song but the Filipino won’t let him sing. Come back, he says. You can sing next time, we’re not going anywhere.
We huddle outside for a last smoke. I light a cigarette for Ry Ry’s girlfriend. Someone switches off the OPEN light and the Filipino comes out, a ring of keys in his hand, and calls out, Closing.
She walks out. He’s holding her arm. He doesn’t look, he stares straight past me, which means he doesn’t see her glance wide-eyed at me, assure herself of eye contact, and mouth two phrases, six words, unmistakable.
I love you. Call me later.
The Filipino watches them walk away. He looks at me. What is there to say? He puts his hand on my shoulder for a second. He doesn’t say anything.
Come here, you you you, sings Ry Ry. Let’s go home. Good night ladies, good night ladies. Something something something Spanish Main. He puts his arm around the older woman and they shuffle across the street.
I stub out my cigarette and walk back to my truck. I’m drunk, a little. Inside, dancing.
—February Break Up Album, 2013.
CKDA just posted some appreciative photographs of the interior they did at North 53 and the photography is all the adjectives for what’s interesting and fine. But then so is the subject matter. Listen the cocktails and cocktail flights here are currently the sharpest craft you’ll find this side of the North Saskatchewan, which is saying something considering the top notch fizz being served up at the west end of Jasper Avenue.
And, yes, I work here sometimes. So not biased. Balanced.
Can we please retire the phrase ‘won the internet’? And while we’re cleaning house, can we retire the phrase ‘retire the phrase’?
Broad City is important television if you thought shows like Flight Of The Conchords, etc, were important television and if you didn’t then you should stand in a corner forever because no one wants to see your wide cow face.
Which also unfortunately means you will be missing Broad City.
Ewan McGregor’s slacks—his entire tuxedo, though—perfect in as many languages as have adjectives. So all of them except The Gods Must Be Crazy II which is the only language only film only art I’ve ever seen combining all the best verbs nouns articles. But choose your own adventure. Best tie slash knot slash collar would be Channing Tatum except he peaked years ago in the impeccable She’s The Man. Perfection can never be attained, only approached. The end of the journey is the journey.
Am I the only person to consistently confuse Johnny Marr with Jonny Greenwood and vice versa?