Segarini: The Art of Touring 3 – I’ll have a bottle of Golden Wedding and a Virginia Ham

Part 2 can be found here

Bruce the Roadie finally calmed down after the hotel gave him another room while they fumigated the one he was staying in next to mine. At breakfast that afternoon, he threatened to kill the rest of us if we ever mentioned the ‘Bowling Ball Incident’ again. I pray he’s not reading this column.

So now it’s Sunday in Toronto. We’ve recovered from Bobby Sherman, Yorkville, and the Matador. It’s a brand new day, and we’re looking for action…There is no action.

We spent the better part of the day calling loved ones in California, napping, and honoring the time-worn tradition of playing a bit of music in a hotel room with the door open for the same reason ALL rock bands did…to lure whatever young women who were staying in the hotel into our lair, like the scene on the train in “A Hard Days Night”. You always hoped for a busload of Nymphomaniac Cheerleaders on their way to an Abstinence Retreat, but normally you just got a couple of youngsters in braces or a miserably skinny synchronized swimming team requesting ‘Kumbiya’ or ‘Michael Row The Boat Ashore’.

Eventually we gave up, got dressed for a night on the town, and get stopped just short of the door by the Manager of the hotel.

Our pal at the desk tells us about the ‘blue laws’ in Toronto. A collective “Yipes!” goes up from our little ensemble, a tear is shed, a quiet sigh escapes someone’s lips. It is a dark time in our little world. There is the deep, aching, sadness usually associated with failed relationships and kitten funerals.

“Starting tomorrow”, he says, “You can hit Yorkville, The Science Centre, Yonge Street, check out the city…you’ll dig it, man!” and then he pointed us to the hotel’s coffee shop/restaurant/lounge. “You can get drinks in there till 11. Have a great time!”

We take his advice and follow his directions. It’s 10 pm. We are the only people there.

It’s 1969. You can only order a drink on Sundays if you eat. By 11 o’clock Sunday night when the lounge at the Holiday Inn closed, I had had 5 drinks, and 5 sandwiches. Couldn’t get a buzz because of all the damn food…and they were strict about it. I got scolded by our waitress, (a woman I could swear was in her mid 90’s), for carrying my drink from one end of the table to the other. “I have to carry your drink for you”, she wheezed, “You’re not allowed BY LAW.” Nasty law, that. No wonder everybody we met was single…you couldn’t table hop in the bars. How the hell were you supposed to meet anybody?

We end up spending the rest of the evening watching the television stations sign off, hoping we didn’t have to buy a turkey or a ham at the liquor store in order to get a bottle of booze.

One good thing about having nothing to do on Sunday night was getting to sleep early and getting UP early the next day.

Monday…Noon.

By 2 pm we were ready to explore this city where spilling a drink was impossible due to the fact you couldn’t carry one anywhere. After I thought about it, I saw the sense in the law I had questioned the night before. Toronto looked after its own.

After a brief discussion and some pushing and shoving, we decided to check out the center of Toronto’s universe; Yonge Street.

The Beaver Forever!

The plan was to do some sight-seeing, buy some souvenirs, check out the action, and maybe hear some bands and have a few drinks.

Bruce and Dennis, our road crew, decided to check out the gear in the rented Ryder truck, make some changes in the flawed equipment manifest that almost stopped the truck from getting into Canada, and hang out in the domed indoor pool at the hotel.

Our manager, John, had taken the car to take care of some business, so the band took a couple of cabs into the downtown core, to what we had been told was the longest street in the world, and ground zero for all things cool and wonderful…and it was.

Yonge Street was built in the 18th century as the center of the city of York, and here, in 1969, was still the center of Toronto, a city probably so named because New York was already taken.

We spent the day walking up and down the street, checking out the shops, a strip joint, the cool British style clothes and shoes, a strip joint, and other points of interest, including that strip joint, (okay, The Zanzibar), that would appeal to a clump of California rock musicians with time to kill and a fairly decent per diem.

As the day wore on some of the guys returned to the hotel to hit the pool or have dinner, while two of us continued to parade up and down Yonge. I wish I could remember who was with me, but I can’t. I do remember that we ate at The Silver Rail on Yonge at Shuter, after drinking upstairs and discovering there was a really good restaurant in the basement, had a couple of girls from the Zanzibar try to convince us to take them on tour as dancers, buying a tacky t-shirt from a vendor that said, “The Beaver Forever!” on it, and, later in the evening, stumbling into a bunch of different bars, the names of which escape me, and hearing great music in every one of them. On a Monday! Wow.

The rest of the week was pretty much the same. We either lounged around at the hotel, went to Yorkville or Yonge Street, thumbed through the records at  Sams, played our music in the open doored hotel room to no avail, did some promo and phone interviews with people like Vince Scelsa in New York in advance of our playing there, and on the Friday before we left, we finally made it to the Ontario Science Centre.

Why Acid and Alfred Hitchcock Don’t Mix

I have to admit, the Science Centre was a blast. I had a picture taken with my hair standing up on end, I learned all about liquid nitrogen, I had a fair to middlin’ acid flashback thanks to an optical illusion exhibit, and I learned that teenage girls have photographic memories and can out run a gazelle.

The four of us that made the trip to the Science Centre were just walking towards the door to leave when a dozen or so school buses worth of kids came pouring into the Centre.

It was the weirdest thing.

As we approached the swelling mass of kids coming in, I noticed 3 girls around 14 staring at us and whispering amongst themselves. As I watched, several more joined them, and, continuing to whisper to one another with the occasional furtive glance in our direction, their numbers began to swell, it was like watching a balloon being blown up with no visible source of hot air, or more to the point, like those crows in The Birds, slowly, silently, perching on every wire, tree, jungle gym, and flat surface available. By now the other guys had noticed all these bright little eyes staring in our direction. We slowed down. Then, we came to a halt about 20 feet away from them. The air was still, there was no sound. It was eerie.

Finally, a single little girl in a bright yellow dress broke from the huddle and slowly started walking towards us. I found myself wondering if she was carrying a gun. Somewhere in the distance, a child laughed, someone coughed, and I could swear, a coyote howled at an as yet un-risen moon. I think the earlier acid flashback may have decided it wasn’t done with me yet. The crowd from which the single little girl had emerged stood silent. They didn’t seem to be breathing. We stood there, unable to move, waiting…waiting. She pulled up about 2 feet in front of me and stopped. In a very quiet voice I was sure only I could hear, she asked, “Are you the band that opened the show for Bobby Sherman at the O’Keefe Centre last Saturday night”? She was looking me right in the eye. I had no choice.

“Yes”, I croaked, my voice breaking like a 12 year old.

She nodded an almost imperceptible little nod.

Then suddenly, without warning, she spun around and, facing her murder of crows, screamed “IT’S THEM!” at the top of her lungs.

“RUN!” one of us shouted, but it was too late. As they surrounded us there in the Science Centre, I insanely wondered if they were going to peck our eyes out.

As it turned out, they just wanted some autographs. A few Brownie cameras were thrust into our faces, and all talking at once, I think they told us they liked our music but didn’t know who we are and is Bobby as nice as they think he is and did we get to talk to him, etc, etc, etc. It was actually very sweet. Still, little girls in large numbers can be fucking scary.

The Holiday Inn, Bub…and Step On It!

Finally, it’s Saturday. We leave for Buffalo Sunday morning.

Time for one last kick at the can.

What does a rock band do on a Saturday night in 1969 before they have to pack, get up early and drive for hours? Why they get plowed, faced, smashed, and hammered, what else?

The plan:

  1. Go to the village and score some dope
  2. Smoke the dope
  3. Personal side trip…stop by the Penny Farthing
  4. Drink. Repeat frequently
  5. Go to Yonge Street
  6. See lots of bands
  7. The Zanzibar
  8. Go back to the hotel with the strippers we pick up

Right.

The Result:

  1. We go to the Village. We buy a joint. The seeds kept exploding and ruined every hit
  2. Same with the second joint we bought
  3. No Sauna Girl at the Penny Farthing. I leave hum-less
  4. We succeed at drinking, repeating frequently
  5. Two of us make it to Yonge Street
  6. Saw a couple of bands. Too drunk to remember them
  7. Rejected by Zanzibar strippers. Slurring words and holes in clothes caused by exploding seeds apparently not attractive
  8. Go back to the hotel alone

Ah, the trip back to the hotel. We’re walking up Yonge Street, which is PACKED with people and cars that are bumper to bumper. I can barely walk thanks to rye, beer, and tequila. I am desperate for a cab, but I do not see one anywhere in the sea of people and cars that is STILL Yonge Street on a Saturday night.

Finally, as we’re crossing the street, I see a cab parked on the corner ahead, facing the same direction we’re walking.

“At lasht”, I mumble, “Let’s get thish cab before somebody elsh does”.

Approaching the cab from the rear, I throw open the back door, shove the other Roxy inside, and climb in after him, slamming the door behind me.

“Holiday Inn, Bub…and step on it”, I chirp.

In the front seat, behind the metal grill that separates them from us, two Toronto policemen stare at us like we have penises in the middle of our foreheads.

I go to open the car door. There are no door handles.

They look at each other, and then turn back to us. After what seemed like an hour, the cop in the passenger seat says, “Which Holiday Inn? The one downtown, or the new one up on the highway?”

“The new one”, I manage.

They look at each other again. “What the hell”, one of them says, “Why not?”…and turning on their siren, off we went up Yonge Street.

“What’s not to love about Toronto”, I thought, and the horseshoe up my ass agreed.

Cab

Not Cab

Next: The Art Of Touring 4 – Look out! He’s got a gun!!

Segarini’s column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

3 Responses to “Segarini: The Art of Touring 3 – I’ll have a bottle of Golden Wedding and a Virginia Ham”

  1. Man, you’re om a roll! I can’t stop laughing. By the way, whatever happened to that horseshoe?

  2. Melanie Pickrell Says:

    hey Bawb

    I’ve never heard this story before that’s hilarious. I think you should give good ol Ted Bray a picture credit, do you realize if it wasn’t for my annoying dad taking pictures of us all the time… there would be no pictures. After all he was “a father who lost control”

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