Today was nice and relaxed. So often there is something big I would like to watch on TV, or listen to on the radio/live stream, and something always gets in the way - writing, traveling...eating, sleeping, whatever. But today, for the olympic hockey final between Canada and the US, I got to sit in a room with 3 Americans (and one Chilean) and watch it - all of it, the whole thing. Hockey is one of the only times when I actually feel Canadian anymore, where I actually look at the US as evil competitors to the throne. It's as if I never decided 17 years ago to leave Canada for a life in the USA and never return. Like I never spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lawyer and visa fees to have the honor of being able to live the life of a struggling musician here, instead of at home there. Whenever hockey's involved, I suddenly want to tearfully sing O Canada and listen to "Limelight" by Rush. I don't know why. They started chanting "U-S-A", so naturally I just started blurting out "No - CANADA!..." like Will Farrell with tourette's syndrome. James starts saying, "Yeah, when they give you guys tests for US citizenship...the final test of allegiance needs to be to sit you in front of a Canada-USA hockey game, measure your heartrate during the play-by-play, and see what happens". Bad idea! But at the end of the day, here I was in Panama City Beach, and I had my moment alone...on the beach...to let it out...
Then I remember things about why I left. Here's an example: The USA - home of Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and Miles Davis - puts at their Super Bowl halftime shows The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Prince. Pretty awesome. What do we do at the Olympics? Nickelback and Avril Lavegne. Nickelback! That's the best you got?! Why not Leonard Cohen, or even Arcade Fire? Americans never put Creed in their Super Bowl. I suppose there's some charm to the whole thing - like Johnny bringing in cookies to school that are nasty and fall apart, but all the same it's still sweet that he made the effort - but come on. I remember the ceremony when they closed down Maple Leaf Gardens. Our big moment for the world to watch, what do we do - Ron McLean on the ice for 3 hours with a microphone bringing out Leafs most people don't remember, from teams that never won. The gravity.
This is probably pretty mean, and truthfully these things aren't what made me leave Canada. Well...in the big picture I suppose they kind of are...but like I say, it is a very endearing place.
I guess ultimately, it all comes down to the power of nostalgia. Before I could eat my own food, I wanted to be in the NHL. My dad took me out to skate when I was about 1, and I played hockey religiously for the next 18 years. I just loved it. Even now if I watch a good game, or am in an arena, it takes me back to my love of it, and I guess my first the formations of dreams. I remember Wayne Gretzky came to the Toronto Zoo once to meet fans and sign autographs, and my mom took a friend and me and we stood in line for hours, only to have it shut down right before we got to go up and meet him. My mom was outraged that these "hussie girls - those groupies!"- the first time I was ever introduced to that term, come to think of it -started out way behind us in line, and butted all the way up ahead until they got to go up and meet The Great One. She got my friend and I to write letters to the newspapers, and to Wayne Gretzky's own management people! And wouldn't I be a monkey's uncle if 3 months later, we didn't get autographed pictures of Wayne in the mail! Thanks, Wayne (even though it was just a stenciled signature)!
All in all, it was nice to have a day off to watch hockey, walk on the beach, and make curry. Even if poor Natalie did have too much lettuce in her sandwich. Tomorrow - south Florida.
Postscript 03/01/10: It turns out that Neil Young ended up performing. So, Canada, I guess you stepped up to the plate after all.