JAIMIE VERNON – The Best 2013 I’ve Ever Had

Vernon_Penny_LaneOur editor-in-chief, Bob Segarini, mandated a year end 2013 ‘Best and Worst’ list from the Don’t Believe A Word I Say scribes for this week. For me lists like this are an eternal yawn. I mean do you really, truly care what someone else thinks about stuff – particularly when we’ve all lived through the same year as everyone else?

2013-2014The problem with doing a mental inventory of the year is that what we liked initially might have become passé by the time we take a second glance. And what might have been of no interest might turn out to be something we wished we’d paid more attention to in the first place. I guess this is why we fire up the short-term memory machine at the end of every year – to remind us that we’re still alive, we’ve survived whatever the forces of evil tossed in our way and got to look at the good and bad in the rear view mirror with our sights set on the road ahead.

lose weightIt was a hell of a ride for me, personally. I got my first full-time gig in four years this year. It’s my first job since 1998 that wasn’t attached to some aspect of the music industry. And I’m all the better for it. For one, I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’m sort of happy in my own skin again.

But I wanted to do more. So much more. I wanted to listen to more tunes, write more books, watch more movies, perform more gigs, travel and spend waaay more time with my family and friends. I don’t regret not doing these things. I just wish I could have added those things to what I *did* manage to do. I look at every year as a collection of continued life experiences – not an inventory of bucket list bullet points. As the old saying goes: stop merely existing and start LIVING.

multi-taskingDid you live this year? Or were you merely banging on the same drum, tapping out a passive-aggressive S.O.S. via Facebook or Twitter. So many people embroiled in self-defeating self-flagellation. So many people are angry, tired, and miserable. Much of this has always been part of the human dynamic. But we’re now in a vicious cycle of stagnation and acting-out in public. I believe it’s because we aren’t able to live out our dreams as often as we once had. We’re so wrapped up in reacting (and mostly over-reacting) that we’re not doing enough to be pro-active in doing what makes us happy. We’re working, sleeping, paying bills, and over-stimulating ourselves with so much multi-tasking that we’ve become the source of the collapse of all those activities that used to bind us together as social creatures.

eternitykissWhen was the last time you sang around a campfire? Played a game of road hockey? Gone to see a completely unknown new music act? Kissed someone hard enough to make them weak at the knees? Hell, does anyone actually stop and smell the flowers anymore? We victimize ourselves by not allowing our inner child to go out and play.

Miley Cyrus did it this year. Grouse about the media coverage and the narcissistic behaviour all you want, but the devil on our collective shoulders really wanted to ride naked on that fucking wrecking ball. It’s the displays of immature, unbridled passion that we as a society have been told to suppress and blush over. But like the Victorians, that protest of shame only stops at the front door of our houses. In living rooms and bedrooms we’re twerking and beyond – stretching the limits of our modesty.  Frequently, stretching those limits in the company of others.

lady-gagaThen there are the people that don’t have a filter. We’re simultaneously repulsed by and envious of these people. The Biebers, the Gagas, the Kardashians, the YouTube sensations and, dare I say it – the Rob Fords – of this world. And it affects each of us differently. Because we’ve taken what we’ve learned over each of the previous years and made mental notes about what we will and won’t do, watch, consume, or support. They call it maturity. I call it a steel trap surrounded by a bulletproof vest surrounded by a brick wall inside an impenetrable vault. Maturity implies conservative moors (small ‘c’ emphasis mine). And with it a generation of really uptight and truly miserable people.

2013 has become the breaking point. This year we saw the wheels fall off the wagon. People leaping off the status quo merry-go-round and challenging our level of acceptance and tolerance. It’s always been at the root of social change, artistic growth and revolution.

balls.jpgMiley is a PG-18 version of this. As shocked as the Disney-kids were by her public unraveling it was all pretty harmless Miss Dress-up in the daylight. But what about the protestor that nailed his testicles to the brickwork Moscow’s Red Square? As painful and physically damaging such an act of defiance appears to be…it was a cry for help for humanity itself. A message of free form expression – as powerful as the Pussy Riot grrrls that came before.

wallendaMeanwhile, following a triumphant crossing of Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 2012, Nik Wallenda decided he wasn’t finished. There were other victories, other inspirational acts that needed to be attempted – both extremes in mental and physical challenge. So he worked his way across a section of the Grand Canyon (but not the real Grand Canyon, that’s cruel). He made us believe a man could beat death. http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/jun/24/high-wire-nik-wallenda-grand-canyon-gorge-video

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield not only walked in space and captained the International Space Station but he did a simulcast duet of a song he wrote with The Barenaked Ladies – live in orbit. If that weren’t enough, he became the first human being to record and perform a rock video IN SPACE.

Tilda Swinton and Elton John challenged the LGBT legislation in Russia and Nelson Mandela taught us all over again about humility and inspiration – even in death.

batkidThen there was Batkid. A boy given short-shrift in life’s lottery and Make A Wish Foundation decided to make his one over-riding dream a reality. He wanted to be Batman. And when social media responded to a day out-and-about in San Francisco where the young lad could act out his Batman foe-defeating adventures, 11 thousand people responded in kind…by attending his live action wish in person.

1456114_10202728977450149_1366819651_nHow did your 2013 compare to this? I doubt any of us achieved such feats of daring-do. That’s okay. Miraculous stories are once-in-a-lifetime events. They write books about them. They create movies about them.

A friend of mine, Michael Kundu, is the exception. He lives the life I’d love to lead. He’s a musician and a naturalist. He’s packed adventures of running into whale pods in the Pacific and black bears in Alaska between recording a new album with his band – and vacationing in Romania on the historic trail of Vlad the Impaler. That’s only SOME of what he did in 2013. He lives a very fulfilling life.  

Paul Walker, the actor, did too. And it cost him his life. Such is the risk of living your dreams. Malala Yousafzai – a teen activist against the brutality of Taliban rule – survived her temptation of fate. There is little doubt that she will one day receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

For me, my 2013 was great. Because it was leap years better than the 5 years that proceeded it. Aside from landing that new job, my Top10 favourite things about 2013 are:


1) Writing and releasing not one, but two books: “Life’s A Canadian Rock: Who Wants Guns? – The Swindled Story” and “The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia – Volume 2 (L thru Z)”

2) Re-activating Bullseye Records online

3) Seeing my wife land a new job

4) Seeing my daughter become an independent woman

5) Seeing my son graduate to Grade 10

6) Celebrating my Mom’s 70th birthday

7) Celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary

8) Turning 50

9) Reuniting Spare Parts for some 20th anniversary gigs

10) Appearing on radio AND television

I have so much more to look forward to in 2014. Everyone needs to promise me that they’ll do their best to bust out of their cocoons, shed that caterpillar skin and fly in 2014. I want to hear stories about parasailing and mountain climbing and becoming awesome grand-parents. Dance like everyone’s watching you on YouTube.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonJaimie “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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