Segarini: The Home Tour Part Two

scan0030Part One can be found here.

Ten years ago, if someone would have told me I’d be writing prose in my underwear and living in a high rise (not a fan of heights), I would have called them loony and had a good laugh. Seriously, who could have predicted this?

I can see Toronto and Canada’s Wonderland, and everything in between from my perch in the dining room here in Casa Bespin, and it is invigorating as hell. Stepping out onto the balcony makes you want to scream, “Top of the World, Ma!” and sometimes, when no one is here, I do….

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 The Home Tour Part Two

12. Markham Street

 Toronto Ontario: Markham Street: It was a dive. An insane 20-something with anger issues in the basement, a couple of young kids on the second floor who dreamed of rock and roll stardom for him and a career in a tattoo parlour for her, and an absolutely wacked out boy-o on the top floor who was on mental disability and spent his entire month’s check on Pro-Sports while his mother paid his rent. Sometimes he won, most times he would show up at my door on the first floor with a pot in his hand asking if I had any extra KD.

I was no better. On welfare now and unable to land a job anywhere, I would pay my rent and spend the rest on dope. I had the computer, desk, and futon Wolf had given me, an old television set, and a suitcase full of clothes.                                                               That was it.                                                                                                                        Self StorageWhen I had first gotten back from California, I had discovered that the check I had left to cover the storage of all our belongings with a friend (a dope dealer) when we went to California had been cashed and kept after he convinced himself I owed him the money for drugs. If it wasn’t for two dear friends, Jean Trivett and Patty Henman, who found out about it and pleaded for some of my personal belongings including pictures, recordings, and other irreplaceable items, all would have been lost forever, including much of the music I could never have remembered well enough to write again, and a lot of the pictures you have seen in these columns. Once again, Dave Bailey came to my rescue and, hearing of a publisher looking for administration deals, drove me out to Mississauga where I secured an agreement and collected a sizeable check. I spent the majority of it on drugs, but came to my senses in time to rent a nice apartment across town, and get out of the horrible environment I had found myself in. There were some interesting moments here, however.

Southern AccentOne was a friendship with the people that own Southern Accent, a restaurant down the street where I would buy myself a decent meal once a month, and whose owners and staff treated me like a normal human being. It added to the impetus to straighten out my life. One night, the landlord of our little asylum went nuts, turned off the power, and trapped the kids from upstairs and me in my ground floor apartment. He then began to beat down the door with a baseball bat. We called the police, and they showed up in time to stop him from doing any further damage, but when we went to court to get a restraining order, the judge gave it to him instead because he was the landlord. The other highlights? Free hot dogs in Mirvish Village on Ed’s birthday, cheap fudgesicles from the Village Market, and my best friend, a mouse, that grew so used to me, he would sit at my feet while I sat at the computer.

One night the phone rang. It was my wife from California. She had met someone. She was moving on, and suggested I do the same. I spent the night with the mouse listening to the only CD I had, a single by Bonnie Riatt that got me through the night and the subsequent depression, and the horrible weight of having lost just about everything I ever cared about or that had ever cared about me.

It was my 50th birthday.

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13. Woodbine and Gerrard

Toronto Ontario: Woodbine and Gerrard: This was a beautiful renovated apartment. Upstairs in the rear with a great deck, a Jacuzzi tub, and large rooms. A 180 degree departure from the loony bin on Markham Street. It did however, come complete with a wingnut neighbor, whose apartment was in the building next to mine over the Laundromat next door and reachable simply by climbing from his balcony onto my deck. We bonded over our mutual drug addiction, but he was definitely a perfect example of why anyone should get off of drugs as soon as they can.

Narc AnonI had gone to dozens of Narc Anon meetings when I was in California, but I just couldn’t buy into the “Higher Power” tool kit they spooned out. Honestly, I dug the hole I was in, and I was the one that had to climb out of it. Jesus rolled his rock away and walked out into the sunlight. I had to roll mine away on my own just like he did. I went to meetings in churches, schools, gymnasiums, and hotels, and the only thing I took away from them was a growing love of free donuts, strong coffee, and eventually, the knowledge that those meetings were great places to score good dope. I got thrown out of the first one I went to. It was in a church in Lodi California and there must have been 30 or 40 people there. One by one, the newbies got up and introduced themselves and told their stories. A farmer with a pot jones, a lawyer with a smack problem, an absolutely stunning blonde with the same problem I had that had lost her house, it went on and on. The kid next to me stood up and introduced himself, “Hi, My name is Ray and I’m a drug addict”, He said quietly. Everybody in the room said “Hi Ray”, and he proceeded to tell his story. He was maybe 20 years old, a Mexican American who lived with his family and worked the fields around the San Joaquin valley and developed a coke problem. One night he got caught stealing money from his father’s wallet and in the ensuing scuffle beat his father pretty badly. It was a very sad story, and many in the room including me, were moved to tears. He sat down. It was my turn. I stood up, and said, “Hi, my name is Bob”, pointed to Ray and said, “And Ray here is a drug addict”. They threw me out of the meeting. I took a donut when I left.

By the time I found myself in the apartment at Woodbine and Gerrard I was still looking for a way to quit. Nothing worked. I knew the 12 step thing wasn’t for me, I mean Jesus didn’t really have anything to do with my addiction so why would I want to take up his time when so many other people were praying to the guy all the time for whatever it was they couldn’t handle. I just didn’t feel comfortable making him responsible for my getting off drugs, he’d done enough for everybody already.

So I’m here in this lovely apartment, still fucked up on base, and digging a deeper hole. I still had a couple of good friends who stuck by me, and I will always be grateful for their understanding and support. I tried to avoid using drugs when they were around, and that helped a lot. One night we all watched the Beatles Anthology on TV. It was the first time I had ever heard “Free as a Bird”.

It became my favourite Beatle song as well as my all time favourite Beatle video. I know most people would disagree with me, but to me, it was a bit of a miracle hearing something that good so long after John had been murdered, and the rest of them had moved on. It also had a very positive message and was so perfectly Beatle-esque, that I forgave Jeff Lynne for the excesses of ELO, and that horrible afro and ‘70s porn mustache he used to wear.

One night the crazy guy from next door broke into my apartment through the sliding glass doors on the deck. What did he steal? The remote to the television and my phone. I hope he got a 5 dollar rock for his trouble.

After a few months I ran out of money and with the help of my friends, moved in the middle of the night. By now I was determined to quit drugs.

The Cabin on Stouffville Road

Richmond Hill/Oak Ridges: Stouffville Road: I was rescued by a woman with Wounded Bird syndrome; As long as I was screwed up, she was there for me, and I will be forever in her debt for taking me in, but the first time we split up should have been the last. I’ll leave it at that.

So here I am, literally in the middle of nowhere, and struggling with an addiction that I wanted to be rid of. That’s the first lesson I learned. If you want to quit drugs, or drinking, or smoking, or watching Survivor, you really have to want to quit. That was the first step for me, anyway. It got to the point where I would get up, look at my dealer’s phone number and say, “I’ll get high tomorrow”. Every day…you have to say it every day.

All StarsIt was a quaint little log house, drafty as hell, but ridiculously charming, and far enough away from everything that it was like being in the middle of nowhere, like an airport. I started to go to a local bar and met up with Terry Draper, drummer and co-writer of Klaatu’s “Calling All Occupants”, and along with old friends Glenn Reid and David Henman, started jamming together on Sunday nights. We ended up forming an impromptu band called the All Stars, and started to consider actually doing something. One night Holly Woods, the astounding lead singer of the band Toronto brought some friends Sam Bob Drew and Suze Cats and Dogsin and we all hit it off immediately. The two women, Sam Pollard and Suzie Burmester, became great friends, and their talent led me to ask them if they would be interested in forming a real band. We recruited Segarini Band keyboardist Drew Winters, and got together in the cabin and rehearsed a few tunes. It was magic. The vocals were amazing. Sam has an incredible voice and stage presence to burn. Suze is and was a fine guitarist and grew into a formidable singer as well. Glenn Reid, David Henman, Drew Winters, and I all ponied up original songs, and Sam brought a bunch of seldom heard covers into the mix. After Terry moved on, Glenn and David brought in the Kings drummer, Max Styles, and we started to look for a name. We had toyed with the name Civil War for a while when Terry was with us, but one night, laughing our asses off about one thing or another, Suze and Drew ended a conversation in Ghostbustersunison with a quote from 1984’s “Ghostbusters”.

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr. Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr. Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
GDr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together… mass hysteria!

“That’s it!”, I said…”That’s the name”!

And so it was.

We cut an album in Drew’s house in less than a week. It was the first real fun I had had in years without the help of drugs. I was sick with a cold most of Bob and Suzethe time, but it didn’t interfere with the camaraderie and creative juice that flowed during the recording. Somewhere, there is a picture of me walking around with Kleenex boxes for shoes. We laughed as much as we worked. We finished the recording and mix in Peter Hamilton’s home studio and started playing regularly. Things were finally looking up. I had a huge relapse still ahead of me, but that was overshadowed by something far worse.

One day my cousin Mark called from California. He had some bad news.

My mom had passed away.

Mom 1945Almost eight years to the day after my mom’s near fatal car accident and stroke, she decided to join my dad and quietly passed on. I have no doubt that she made the decision to check out herself. The doctors couldn’t even find a reason for her passing, just natural causes at the same age my dad had gone, 74 years old. The news cast a pallor over the little cabin on Stouffville Road, especially because I had planned to go to California and see her during the summer, but was unable to afford the trip. It is news you know will come someday, but no matter how much you try, you cannot prepare yourself for the loss of a parent, especially one like my mother. I borrowed the money and went to California to see her one last time. When I got back to Toronto, I was determined to make my mother proud of me by finally kicking drugs and getting my shit together. Cats and Dogs, the new band I was in was beginning to record its second album, and I was actively seeking work again in radio. I was still struggling with the day to day battle not to call a drug dealer, but so far, I was on track. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t last.

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enderby

Toronto: The House on Enderby The relationship I had been in fell apart and I left the cabin in the woods and moved into a small apartment in the basement of the house in the above picture. I called my dope dealer. Suze Burmester, whose apartment this was, soon tired of my behavior and spent Cats and Dogs This Lifemost of her time at a friend’s place, and I returned to the abyss. We continued to work on the new CD, This Life, but I began to obsess with taking it up a notch. I wanted the next record to be undeniable. Unfortunately, that meant changes in the band, and what had been a group of friends making music became a recording project. The resulting album was and is a fine piece of work, but friendships were lost over it, and I will always regret that. Money started to arrive from what my mom had left me and my drug intake increased. There didn’t seem to be any way to stop the downward spiral, but I had to stop. I swallowed my pride and made a decision and a phone call. I returned to the little cabin on Stouffville Road.

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15. The House on Logan Avenue

Toronto: The House on Logan Avenue The return to the cabin didn’t last long. Several things happened that were both good and bad, but ended up being blessings. It was easier to avoid drug use here. The woman I was living with again had zero tolerance for drugs, and that, coupled with my renewed desire to kick the damn thing to the curb got me back on the path to recovery. Secondly, I was diagnosed with adult onset Type Two Diabetes. As dangerous as free-basing cocaine is on its own, now it was far more dangerous. A blessing in disguise.

Wolfgang Spegg, the old friend who put me up when I got back to Toronto from California back in 94, and owner of Bomb Records, called me to a meeting and told me he was finally Musicmusicmusic-Logolaunching musicmusicmusic.com, the internet start-up he had been talking about for a couple of years, and offered me the job of manager of Creative Services. I accepted. Now I had money coming in, had leased a car, and had a job to look forward to. Once again, the relationship I was in soured, and I left the little cabin in Stouffville a second time and rented the house pictured above. Suddenly I was busier than I had been in years. I was working on projects for musicmusicmusic.com, recording content for its subsidiary Radio M.O.I, and putting my life back together. I was no longer free basing cocaine, and with the exception of a line or two over the next few years, have been totally drug free since. Fuck you, cocaine.

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16. The House on 2nd Concession Front

Stouffville/Uxbridge: The House on 2nd Concession I bought a house. Not just any house, but a 175 year old house that had been moved and relocated in the late ‘70s. I was back with the woman from the cabin and we moved in together here. As much as I loved this house, I will always regret buying it and the relationship that drove the purchase.

Regardless, here are a few pictures. You can see why I fell in love with the place, and with another partner and under different circumstances, we might have been able to keep it

17. House on 2nd Concession Rear

The back of the house. I used to stand out in the yard and just stare at thia place. I couldn’t believe I lived there.

18. The House on 2nd Concession Back

The view from the edge of the pond. We had a lot of great parties in this house. A rock star or two ended up in the pond, and the paddleboat got a workout. Coffee in the morning on the upper deck, watching the sun come up over the pond was reason enough to get up early. Of course the hour, sometimes two, it took to get down to the city was a pain in the ass.

19. The House on 2nd Concession Pond

The pond and just a handful of the geese who used to live there. We had ducks, turtles, frogs, fox, deer, rabbits, and the occasional blue heron, swan, and an eagle who would dive into the well-stocked pond and emerge with a fish in his beak and fly off. One winter, I was standing on the deck looking out over the frozen pond at a lone goose slowly waddling across the snow-dusted ice. Another lone goose came wheeling out of the sky and made his descent toward the pond. That pond covers 11 acres, but the goose coming in for a landing managed to collide feet first with the one walking toward the shore and both went ass over teakettle, sliding along honking like two cars on the 401.

I laughed so hard my coffee came out my nose.

20. The House on 2nd Concession  Upper Deck

Me on the deck having an afternoon Turkey and Diet. I think I still have that shirt. My time as a country boy wouldn’t last long, however. Less than a year after I bought the house, musicmusicmusic.com was dismantled by the board of directors Wolf had had to put in place after we went on the Frankfurt stock exchange. It was a crushing blow to my finances and I struggled for another year or two to keep the place, but in the end, had to let it go. The relationship, already bad, went with it.

The one thing that came out of the time spent here that I am proud of is the song I wrote after hearing that George Harrison passed away. It stands as a tribute to both George and John, my two favourite Beatles, and always conjures up this house and the time spent there. The house is now a Bed and Breakfast. I occasionally think of going there for the weekend, but have yet to do so. Check it out here.

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21. The House on Crawford Street

Toronto: The House on Crawford Street I loved this place. There was a lot of music and conversation around the kitchen table here. The Segarini Band reunion was hatched and rehearsed here, and the first studio Bobby and Pierecordings I had done that weren’t for musicmusicmusic.com since the Cats and Dogs “Thus Life” CD. I fell in love with Pie in this house, and her mother met and went on to marry my roommate. For over a year we had the weekly “Crawford Street Regulars” dinners and gabfests every Tuesday night, eating meals prepared by Pete Kashur or myself, and passing a guitar around and telling stories. Occasionally we had guests, like writer/journalist Jonathan Gross joining in and contributing to the stories and fun. It was here I started my three year run on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and where Pie, who started out co-writing my radio program, became the overnight board operator at CFRB. The addition of two kittens, Minnow and Bagel to our little family occurred while we lived in this wonderful 2 story space. It was in this house where I learned I was a grandfather, my daughter Amy having Marshall and Tildadelivered the marvelous Marshall Mech to the world, the cutest (and funniest) child you could possibly imagine, and who now has a little sister, the ever adorable Matilda.  I learned I could write in this place, and Don’t Believe a Word I Say was born.

Sadly, the owners of the house sold it, and once again, I was on the hunt for new digs.

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22. The House in Little Italy

Toronto: The Apartment in Little Italy Pie found our next address, in the heart of Little Italy. A tiny apartment we filled with the two kitties and a lot of love. It was like living in a storage shed, surrounded by boxes we never had room to open. I had gone from 3500 square feet to 700 square feet in just 4 years.

I honed my writing skills here. And we fell in love with the area, its restaurants, convenience, and its people. Within 2 blocks in either direction on College Street there was everything you could ask for, from a great butcher, a 24 hour grocery, and more bars, restaurants, and patios than you could possibly use. The street was closed regularly for little neighborhood festivals, and it was a joy to live inside the barriers. It remains my favourite neighborhood in Toronto and I plan to live there again.

When the building was sold, it was time to move yet again.

The little apartment is gone now, even the door and windows pictured above. It is now the ass end of the Starbucks at Beatrice and College, an ironic fate if ever there was one. A Starbucks…surrounded by family owned restaurants who make better coffee/espresso, latte’s and cappuccinos than Starbucks ever will, for half the price.

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ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 08 00.03

North York: Cordella Avenue We moved into a wonderful little house a few minutes north of my beloved Little Italy. It was a quiet ethnic neighborhood and quite a change from the action on College Street and the proximity to so many great bars and restaurants. We did get down there a few times a week, and we still feel connected to the area and the people we know there. Still Pie, still kitties, still a lot of love, and still, all a man really needs…and except for the ones I take for my diabetes, at this point I had been happily drug free for 12 years.

IMG_0045For the first time in 37 years, The Wackers gathered in the same room for our 40th Anniversary. We shot documentary footage here. We laughed, and sang, and sat around the dining room table like no time had passed. We would be joined by Randy’s ex-wife and one of my dearest friends I have known since she was 14 years old, Melanie Bray, and then by our number one roadie, Michael Stull’s younger brother and all around great guy, Tim Stull. It was a lovely time, and made us all realize we should have gotten together much sooner and more often. Time just slips away….

It was also time for Pie and I to go our separate ways. We are still close and will always love one another, but I wanted her to be happy and enjoy building a life for herself with the freedom to make her own way, and discover what she wants to do and who she wants to be. I had begun to concentrate more on writing, and enjoyed staying home in front of the computer. We decided that when our lease was up, we would turn the page.

On July 1st, 2012, we did exactly that.

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ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 08 00.37North York: Casa Bespin So here I sit. The same computer, the same dining room table, and probably the same underwear.

Let’s see…overflowing ashtray? Yep. A couple of empty Sugar Free Rockstars and a few empty PBR cans? Check. The detritus from last nights shrimp fried rice dinner? Affirmative. Seems like home to me.

Dave Bailey, my roommate has had some terrible medical problems for the last couple of years but seems to be on the mend, and our other roommate is planning to move out next month, so we’ll be looking for someone to fill the vacancy.

There are times when I miss Jade (Hi, Liddo Pie) but I see her frequently and I know she’s happy and well, and I miss the kitties too, although it’s nice to work without Minnow sticking her butt in front of the computer monitor, or having to chase Bagel off the couch before she coughs up a hairball on it. I know they are safe and well patted with Pie and I really should get over there soon and give them pats and skritches.

Getting downtown to Cherry Cola’s or to Roncesvalles Village takes a little longer, but I still manage to make my rounds, just not as often. The Blog, the one you are reading (and I can’t thank you enough for that) will surpass 250,000 views this year, The Rival Sons are becoming internationally known, Courage My Love have recently returned from Japan and a tour of Canada with Faber Drive and are about to release their second CD, the new Research Turtles CD is out, David Celia is still holding down the Cameron House on Friday’s from 6 until 8, Fraser/Daley are at the Intersteer on Wednesday nights from 8 until 11, Matty Powell tends bar at Melissa and Rue’s bar, The Local, has a killer CD released, and is starting to play regularly, and the joyous and insanely entertaining Xprime are gigging regularly, writing and recording their new material, and killing it every Sunday night as Cherry Cola’s resident Canpop Kings, and I am well rested and ready to write some more words for your reading pleasure. Might even record a bit this year myself. I have a stack of songs I’d like you to hear.

Happy 2013, look both ways before you cross your fingers, and never go through a revolving door on a pair of skis.

See you next Sunday.

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Segarini’s column appears every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonBob “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 publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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8 Responses to “Segarini: The Home Tour Part Two”

  1. Bob Segarini: Survivor Man. Glad I’ve been able to come along for some of the ride. Be well, my friend. There’s more chapters to write.

  2. […] WordPress.com site « JAIMIE VERNON: STAMPS & COINS & ROCKS & THINGS Segarini: The Home Tour Part Two […]

  3. gregfromwelland Says:

    Thanks Bob for your story. I am currently battling oxycontin addiction and your story has given me hope!!!! Thank you.

  4. That which does not kill you makes you stronger. Rock on dude.

  5. Thanks for posting this Bob. Very moving piece.

  6. Karen Cooper Says:

    Bob…. what a journey! Such a moving story. I really had no idea what your life had been like, in the years that came after those nights when I was just 19 and fidgiting in my seat, waiting for your band to come on at the old Knob Hill Hotel. I am so glad that you are now living in the Cloud City of Bespin!… I personally am enjoying my own home on Endor, which my GPS tells me is in Omemee, Ontario- the raising place of the youthful Neil Young. Neil is everywhere here, from the little museum in town dedicated to him, to the grade school named in his father’s honour, and in the blue blue skies that he describes in ‘Helpless.’ Haven’t seen any Ewoks myself round here yet; but beavers recently cut down my little basswood tree by the dock in the middle of the night. Got to get me one of those infrared cameras and catch ’em in the act! just to prove they are beavers and not Ewoks…. Hoping very much to see you at our Knob Hill reunion in April- and thank you for this very personal and eloquent piece of writing; I enjoyed it very much…. Karen Cooper

  7. Jim Chisholm in Campbell River Says:

    Thanks for the update Bob. I’m glad you are sounding refreshed and forward thinking. In a month I will have been in my apartment in Campbell River for 10 years. That will the longest I’ve been anywhere and will even surpass my time at any of my parents homes in Montreal. One thing I’m grateful for in the recent decade is being connected with you and your stories and of course as always, your music. I still sing some of them even as recently as last week at Willie’s Cafe. Stay well Bob and don’t be surprised if I knock on your door one day in TO.

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