I stopped by my parents’ place on the way home yesterday and mowed their lawn. Lawn-mowing is good therapy. It’s an opportunity to think deep thoughts while leaving behind a satisfying expanse of well-manicured greenness. I used to write lots of songs while mowing the lawn.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the time I got kicked out of the band. In 1980 we had this band called Upstart, and we had a logo (our name shooting like a mortar shell out of a smoke cloud) and we had band meetings and we contributed to a band fund so we could buy band stuff. Everyone was expected to show up and pay up. In this respect, our band was similar to a golden agers’ Kraft Klub.
If I remember correctly, the guys wanted to get a Radio Shack strobe light for our basement concerts. I thought the idea was counter-productive to our musical progression. Surely we could save our money towards an item more directly related to rocking. I began contributing to the band fund under protest, preferring to spend my lawn-mowing earnings on Queen albums instead.
The band fund eventually split us apart. I stopped paying up and some slight occurred that I took to heart. I formed a grudge against my bandmates. I’m a little scared by my ability to hold a grudge. It’s an inherited trait, I’m afraid, and one that I’ve tried to suppress in recent years. But when I was 14 and I got a grudge on, look out.
Maintaining the grudge was a challenge though because of the concert we all had tickets for. It wasn’t just any concert, it was my first concert: Rush and Saga at the Pacific Coliseum. I was excited beyond belief about it, yet I’d be sitting in the same row as my self-estranged friends. My grudge was badly timed.
It seems that every rite of passage in my life has been complicated by some misjudgment or fuckup on my part. This evening was a good example. When I got to my seat, my friends (and one parent, the Jeff “Skunk” Baxter-like Mr. Sandquist) were already there. I remember them leaning over to say hi to me, and I ignored them. Mr. Sandquist offered me his seat so I could sit with my friends, but I turned him down. I was determined to be a prick.
The concert was amazing and changed my life, etc. My memories of Rush’s Permanent Waves tour are much more vivid than my recollection of the band squabbles at the time.
The day after the concert I got kicked out of the band.
I rolled with it pretty well. My parents had just bought the place on Mayne, so there was lots of work to do. I rode my bike a lot and hacked out some new trails in the bush.
A few months later, Alick and Mark came by and asked me if I wanted to join again. I don’t remember us negotiating any terms. I do remember saying yes, and that I was mowing my parents’ front lawn when they approached me.