YouthInAsia1Today I was supposed to deliver to you, my faithful readers, Chapter 2 of “Life’s A Canadian Rock Book 2: Turn On the Radio – The Moving Targetz Story”. As I started rifling through my old notes and half-written brainfarts I ran across something I’d completely forgotten I’d written and I thought to myself: “Self. Have you posted this on DBAWIS before?”

Honestly, I’m not sure. If you’ve seen it before, I apologize for repeating myself. If not, then you need to know that it’s the first section of a chapter Greg_Bullard_Vernonin a future book about Bullseye Records that will explain how and why I ended up representing Greg Godovitz (pictured here with Jaimie and Mike Bullard) and Goddo for nearly 10 years. But this passage isn’t about either of those things, really…it’s about my lifelong knack for putting myself in harm’s way.

 I am not, by nature, an adrenalin junkie. I don’t seek out danger. At least not intentionally. That’s why I prefer desk jobs to being outside where there is a Mirrorchance I may risk my life and, most certainly, the lives of everyone around me. My most recent day gig involves inspecting and inventorying brand new automobiles – driving them 100 to 200 feet across a very large parking lot to where they are then placed on trains to go to the United States. My official job description is ‘Auto Inspector’. The only tool I use is a UPC scanner and a long mirror to look under a vehicle for damage (though I tell the truck drivers that bring the cars that I’m looking for incendiary devices).

RailcarThe day I started with the company I was called ‘Rail Jockey’ where I was required to drive those same cars onto a train – that is until they made me climb across the top of six railcars which are three storeys above the ground…in a blinding snowstorm. It also involved lifting the floor of each train car using mechanical levers and pulleys and springs with your shoulders and using a four-foot crowbar to pry open 20 foot doors and lifting 150 lb. metal plates that assume the identity of a bridge that covers the five foot gap between each rail car while you drive a 4-ton car across it – thirty or forty times a day. As I said, I’m now the ‘Auto Inspector’ instead. There is little chance of me doing much harm to a car on the ground except maybe driving it into the back of the one in front of it. So far so good. Watch this video…which is an average work day for us. Please ignore the idiot conspiracy theorist editorializing about this being a FEMA human cargo train.

Unlike my father, I haven’t the faintest idea how to run a piece of heavy machinery, never mind fix it…though I’m sure I could easily blow something up with the slightest provocation. They say that memories are built on intense emotional events – happy, sad or frightening. I have very few in the latter category which might be why they are so vivid. Of course, these incidents are always the ones involving acts of, not bravery or heroism, but good old fashioned idiocy – and sometimes there was machinery involved. For instance, my David Letterman Top 10 “Scariest/Stupidest Jaimie Moments of All Time” would read as follows:

Bike Crash10) Riding on his brand new 10-speed bicycle, Jaimie is chased by railway police after trespassing on Canadian National Railway property. Police fail to catch him or his friend Jim Bartlett. Jaimie crashes bike. He bleeds profusely from kneecap. A fireman patches it up.  None of those events is as frightening as the wrath of Mom & Dad when he got home.

9) As a typical Canadian child playing street hockey outside the apartment where he lived, Jaimie takes a stick to the mouth, thereby knocking out a front tooth. Mom & Dad. Wrath. Cue the crying.

Railway Police8) In a new neighbourhood with new kids he could manipulate, Jaimie convinces them that trespassing on the railway tracks isn’t exciting enough on its own so, instead, they place large inanimate objects on the tracks to see what a train might do to them. Even at the age of 13 they are only 99.9% sure of the effect a 60-ton locomotive would have on a discarded railroad tie, several boulders, a felled tree, and an empty fire extinguisher. The police arrive before the gang derails an entire spur line. Mom & Dad. Wrath. Cue the crying. Grounded for life.

7) Same neighbourhood. Street hockey again. Stick to the eye. Add headgear to all future outdoor activities…even while swimming, picnicking or dating.

Helmet6)  Schoolyard bully. Jaimie gets mouthy. Bully gets punchy. Jaime fights back. Bully gets more punchy. Lights out. Add headgear to school regimen.

5) High School bully. Jaimie gets mouthy. Bully tries to drown him in swimming pool. Jaimie can’t fight back. Fortunately, Bully has A.D.D. and is distracted by shiny object in pool. Jaimie realizes he really shouldn’t have stopped wearing headgear while swimming.

4) Jaimie has survived to adulthood but decides to take a header off a 200 foot rock-face at Lake Powell, Utah. He sprains his leg and must crawl back the ¼ mile to the campsite.  Turns out he took some great photos on the way down.

3) Jaimie forgets about first cliff-climbing adventure and tries again, this time in Colorado on a 600 foot mountainside trying to see where an extinct race of American natives once lived. The natives were smart enough to leave Signsthe mountainside. Jaimie, not so much.

2) A drive into the Nevada desert to see, first hand, the location of the not-so-secret Top Secret UFO base Area 51. The one-way road is surrounded by artillery. Jaimie’s wife sneaks a photo despite warnings of being shot on sight. Aliens may want to invest in some headgear…

And the No. 1 “Scariest/Stupidest Jaimie Moments of All Time”:

Driving at night in northern Ontario with a van full of music gear trying to get to Winnipeg in 36 hours flat. Of course, the driving part is easy. It’s the sudden stop that’s scary. Let me explain…

The dashboard of the van was still lit up. Well, the radio was at any rate. How apropos that I should be sitting on Highway 11, better known as Yonge Street – the home to legendary Canadian radio station 1050 CHUM – fiddling with the radio. But, try as I might, I could only find static. And clouds of dust. It was swirling in front of me like fireflies in a dark, spruce forest. Wait a minute. Why was there a dark, spruce forest in the middle of the road? The view was obscured by the hood of the van which was now shooting straight up toward the sky. I was peering between the top of the dashboard and the bottom of the, now vertical, hood like a gunner viewing the outside world from the machinegun slot in a foxhole.

[“Jaimie, are you alright?”]

The windshield directly in front of me was shattered into a million pieces, but the safety-coated glass was held together with spider-webbed tendrils. The passenger side of the windshield wasn’t as damaged but the passenger seat itself was covered with glass. But from where? I looked on the floor and it too was covered with glass, paper and paraphernalia that had been squeezed, toothpaste-like, out of the glove compartment. The contents of my floor cup holder between the driver and passenger seat was now abstractly strewn across the floorboard, drive-train and floor mats.

[“Jaimie, are you alright?”]

AirbagThe steering wheel was pressed against my stomach and chest. Either the engine was now a lot closer than it had been when we started the trip or my legs had become shorter. The steering column, and not the airbag – which hadn’t deployed – was the only thing keeping me from having a thousand pound engine resting in my lap. Surveying the damage I was becoming quickly aware of our situation and astounded that I wasn’t injured. My legs should have been broken, if not crushed.

[“Jaimie, man. Talk to me. Are – you—all –right?”]

There was a coldness on the left side of my face. And wet. I was pretty sure it wasn’t raining. I reached up to touch my cheek and felt the broken glass. Well, that explains the mess on the floor and the passenger seat. I couldn’t see it, but felt the blood on my beard. But there wasn’t any pain. A superficial wound at best.

“Jaimie, are you okay, man?” It was Shawn Cotnam, the lighting man for Goddo. His voice finally came into focus from somewhere in the back of the van.

“Yeah. I seem to have a cut on my face, but I think I’m okay. Are you alright?”
“I fell on the floor. The guitar amps broke my fall,” he answered back. “What the fuck happened?”
“We hit a moose,” I said hesitantly.
“I knew it. I told you this was going to happen!

MooseAccident_Sep14_2000bShawn and I had discussed moose all the way up Highway 11 for the four hours we’d been on the road. He’d been scared and rightly so. September was prime season for all manner of monster truck-sized quadrupeds in Northern Ontario. We were on our way to Winnipeg from Toronto as pseudo road crew for the band Goddo. We had just filled up for gas outside North Bay and Shawn was taking the first sleep shift while I did the initial leg of the drive. We had planned to switch around 6AM. Now, I didn’t know where we were or what time it was.

I looked over my left shoulder to see that not only was the driver’s window gone (hence the face full of glass), but there was a vehicle bearing down on us. Our van was straddling the middle of the road. We were going to get hit broadside. I tried re-starting the van. Nothing. The radio finally died. I tried to open my door. It was jammed and obviously damaged.

“We have to get out. There’s a truck coming!” I yelled. “But my door’s stuck.”
Shawn pulled back on the rear sliding door from where he was and it opened. I undid my seatbelt and crawled over the centre spread, kneeling on the passenger seat while Shawn yanked the door open. I rolled out of the van.

“Let’s get this thing off the road,” Shawn said. We both ran around to the driver’s side. I grabbed the steering wheel through the open window and began to pull the van with all my strength as Shawn pushed from the front. We managed to get the wounded vehicle to the opposite side of the highway facing back in the direction we’d arrived and stopped it on the gravel shoulder just as a large 18-wheeler pulled up.

“Everyone okay here?” asked the driver.
“We hit a moose. Can you call the OPP?”
The truck driver nodded, “You’re lucky you’re not dead. Been getting reports for the last 45 minutes of sightings all over this area. I’ll call the police for you. Sit tight.”

MooseThe moose, as our luck would have it, had been dead centre in the middle of the highway when I clipped his ass as we came around the bend on a tight curve through a Canadian Shield rock cut. We were doing 90KPH. I took the sucker out at the knees, he rode the hood of the van, broke the windshield with his rear-end causing his head to snap around and put his antlers through the driver’s side window. This sent the van into a 180 degree spin while the moose did a doggie carpet-crawl across the pavement and into a nearby ditch. Shawn and I were both afraid that he’d come back looking for Steven Segal-like vengeance, and so, stayed beside the van with the side door open in the event we needed to dive inside and evade our tormentor. The truck driver moved on and we sat, in the dark, contemplating our immediate future. Where were we? How the hell were we going to get home? And was that moose still on the loose? Several more drivers stopped to see how we were as we paced the gravel shoulder making nervous small talk, keeping warm and awaiting the police to arrive. 45 minutes later a cruiser pulled up. We prayed he was going to rescue us.

“Sorry I’m late, boys. Had a party in the back woods north of Temagami to bust up,” the cop said as he got out of his car and flicked on his flashlight. “Hit a moose, I see.”

Temagami? Jeesuz. Here was a real, honest to goodness dyed-in-the-wool Ontario Provincial Police officer. A sight for sore eyes. I was the OPPmoosefirst to speak up, “Yeah, we knocked it into the ditch.”

He waved his flashlight down the road at the impact point. We told him we’d pushed the van aside and so he followed the line of trajectory and walked up the road towards where I thought the moose had gone over the embankment. But he continued walking past that point so Shawn and I followed. He stopped about 300 feet from where we were parked.

“There it is,” he exclaimed with a slight chuckle. “You fucked him up pretty good. You want to take it home with you? Fresh meat…”

Shawn and I stared at each other in disbelief. “Ummm…have you seen my van? We don’t have an engine, let alone a roof rack!” I fired back.
The cop laughed and said, “Just thought I’d ask. It was a clean kill. I’ve seen people who were half dead after an accident like this and still wanting to take the meat with them. I’ll get a tow truck out here…and someone to pick up the carcass. It’ll make for good stewing at the Legion.”

While we waited for the tow-truck the officer regaled us with True Canadian Tales of Moose Accidents – ALL of which had less than happy endings. We counted our blessings. I gave the cop some Goddo CDs, which he was grateful for, and told him of our desire to make it to Winnipeg before the end of the week to deliver the equipment before Goddo arrived, by plane, for their gig. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen. And he didn’t bust us for the six beers Shawn had stashed in the camping cooler we were carrying.

Moose_roofrackThe tow truck arrived and the driver also recounted several tales of headless car drivers and snowmobilers having met their end from the brick walls that are our four-legged Northern Ontario friends. The OPP officer instructed the driver to take us into town where there was a lodge we could crash in, er, stay at for the night. And so, he told us where we could get the van in the morning and proceeded to drop Shawn and I in the middle of the Hinterland, freezing our asses off, at the doorstep of the only accommodations in town. We were told to knock and the owner would come out to greet us. At 4AM? What if no one comes out? We’d be left scavenging for a wolf’s den or a beaver dam or some such clichéd place to hide/sleep/die of exposure.

Answer DoorFortunately, the owner was in, having been warned in advance that we were coming. She gave us a room and we proceeded to unwind from a rather fright filled night.  I hit the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bed only to be reminded that my face was still covered in blood. I opened my shaving kit which my wife had packed for me, and there was a box of Q-Tips. I don’t know why she thought of packing them for me, but it was the thing I needed right at that moment. The flying glass had actually gone into my ear and with the cotton swab I managed to pull out two rather sizeable chunks. Her routine packing of the shaving kit saved me from a rather painful ear injury.

The whole affair had been surreal. Shawn and I talked out our thoughts, in the dark, between the two rooms. The accident was the easy part. Explaining the situation to Goddo’s leader, Greg Godovitz, and my wife was going to be the beginning of a very, very long day. Mom & Dad. Wrath. Cue the crying. Where the hell is that protective head-gear when you need it?

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

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