Frank Gutch Jr: OMIGOD!!! I Just Looked in a Mirror! I Think I’m Trans-Canadian! Plus Notes…..


You know!  Like Kafka’s cockroach!  I think it was always there but I was too close to see it.  I should have known it, though.  As a child, I loved maple syrup!  Of all my dad’s records, my favorites were by Hank Snow and Montana Slim!  (I thought Slim was from Montana— can I sue for misinformation?)  My favorite train ads besides those of the Great Northern were those of the TransCanada Railway!  For the last few years, I have use “eh?” as a punctuation mark.  Canada was the home of my dad’s favorite whiskys:  Corby’s Park Lane and Crown Royal.


Before we go any further, let me thank the neocons down here in The States who, thanks to their constant question, “Is there any better country in which to live than the US?” (they are the only political entity I have found which both loves and hates their country with equal fervor), now have me thinking that maybe there is.  If they continue their destructive ways, there may be many better, few worse.  Voters, you get what you vote for, eh?

America's HatAs if I didn’t need other reasons to love America’s Hat, as Fearless Leader Bob Segarini calls it, The Commonwealth (Canada is a Commonwealth, is it not?  I really need to look that up— maybe later) has a history quite separate from and yet quite entwined with its big brother to the south.  J. Bartlet Brebner based his career on it.  In a volume dated 1960, 1970 (must have been a time warp), he tells us about Canadian history in no uncertain terms.  I’m not sure he got it right, though.  There are no mentions of Hockey Night in Canada.  Publishers in Canada must have noticed it, too, because he had to take it to the University of Michigan Press to get it published.  Back when Michigan had more than a football team.  Brebner had this theory, see, that the US and Canada were “Siamese Twins.”  His term, not mine.  Like Peggy Lee sang in that movie about the dogs— “We are Siamese if you please… We are Siamese if you don’t please.”  Talk about hedging bets.  On a side note, Peggy co-wrote this song with Sonny Burke.  And here you thought Elton John wrote everything.

I was a child when I first heard Hugo Winterhalter‘s version of Canadian Sunset.  My heart does a flip every time I hear it, to this day.  A guy named Eddie Heywood wrote it— might even play the piano here.  If Canada had only this song going for it, it would be enough.

Know what Canada has that no other country has?  Mounties!  They got millions of ’em!  And most of them have dogs.  Let’s see… the first time I saw a Mountie was at the Roxy Theater when I was a kid.  They had kid matinees back then and for a dime you could see a feature film, a short or newsreel and a cartoon.  There was Johnny Mack Brown and Gene Autry and The Bowery Boys and it seems like there were a couple of the old Renfrew of the Mounties films tucked in there somewhere.  If there weren’t, there should have been.  I mean, Mounties were cool!

Just as the movies gave way to TV, Renfrew gave way to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (and, yes, the Yukon is part of Canada, for those who don’t know.  I mean, Preston had Yukon King!  Was there ever a better dog?

And who can forget the great Dudley Do-Right, the epitome of all that is good in the Great Northlands?  True, he was best in cartoon form (Hollywood failed miserably in finding any real actor who could pull off the overwhelming good that is Canadian) but he was also in good form.  Here, the entire Sid Gould family tells the story of not only the trials and tribulations of the Mountie, but the trials and tribulations of Canadian music as well.

Of course, the ultimate Mountie for me is Benton Fraser, the Mountie who wangled his way into a Chicago gig to hunt down the killers of his father in the TV series Due South.  .  Paul Gross played the Mountie and brought as much to the “real life” character as Dudley Do-Right did to the cartoon.  Fraser was upright, kind, courteous to a fault and more of a modern Hawkeye from The Leatherstocking Tales as anything.  Right before might, ethics and morality are solid themes of Due South.  It was funny, too.  Somewhat serious at times, you had the feeling that the comedic line to take it back to its normal crazy self was on the next page of the script.

While researching the program for this piece, I came upon two documentaries about the life of the program.  They’re close to an hour each, but if you don’t have the time and you loved the show, bookmark these puppies.  If you somehow missed it and are at all curious, bookmark them anyway.  They are well worth the time.

Gross mentioned in the second of these docs that there was a concerted effort to use Canadian music artists for the series.  I was most impressed with the choices made for background music— songs by Jay Semko, Klaatu, Sarah McLachlan, Fuggy Duff, Junkhouse, Dutch Robinson, Single Gun Theory, and even Gross himself making the cut.  Indeed, you can expect a column on the two soundtracks sometime in the near future.

jenniferdaleJennifer Dale was in an episode of Due South titled “Letting Go,”  did I tell you?  Sigh.  Back in the early eighties when I was in Seattle, I got this wild hair about college baseball for some reason.  The College World Series was coming up and even though I had not watched a game in a few years, I decided I needed to see the Series.  So I got cable.  The big plus to having cable was that included in the package were two Canadian TV stations, CBC and CTV.  I became enamored.  Enamored with the simplicity of the country, the difference in cultures and the whole other world which was Canada.  I bought a VCR because they broadcast movies and programs I had never heard of featuring actors I had never heard of.  (I don’t care if it’s bad English.  Sue me)  Movies which featured hockey in the background, scenery that wasn’t Los Angeles or New York, and actors with accents.  Seriously.  The first time I heard someone say “It’s aboot time,” I couldn’t stop laughing.  It wasn’t funny, really.  It was cool!  About this time, a beautiful young lady named Jennifer Dale walked onto the screen and captured my heart.  Of a sudden, I was looking for her name on any Canuck TV listing I could find.  Over the next number of years I found her in made-for-Canadian TV movies, in series, on tabloid shows.  I would have stalked her had they let me across the border.  Now I am so tuned in to her acting career that her appearances find me.  Just this last week, I broke down and watched a recent Hallmark film titled So You Said Yes.  It was typical Valentine’s Day pap, but there was Jennifer, as beautiful as ever.  She has had a long career.  I have about ten thousand episodes of series to catch up on and have just added a movie I did not really know about, or know enough about, until this very moment.

But first, this.  Do you have any idea what it means when the stars align?  I mean, when things all over your universe collide resulting in, what?  An epiphany or something like one?  Consider this.  I found Jennifer Dale back in the early eighties.  I found Paul Gross in the nineties.  I found Tim Vesely in the 2000s.  Not until this very moment did I realize that they all came together in a movie back in ’94 titled Whale Music.  Dale and Gross were, of course, actors in the film.  Vesely, a member of Rheostatics, who provided soundtrack music.  This, copped from the Wikipedia page on the movie, will give you the basics:

The film stars Maury Chaykin as Desmond Howl, a former rock star who has lived in seclusion in a seaside mansion since the death of his brother Danny (Paul Gross) in a car accident. Howl spends his time composing a symphonic masterpiece for the whales who congregate in the ocean near his property. His reason for this is revealed in the title of one of his songs, “Have You Seen My Brother?” — Danny died by losing control of his car and driving off a cliff into the ocean.

One day, however, Howl awakens to find Claire (Cyndy Preston), a mysterious young woman, in his living room. Although Howl’s world is disrupted, Claire ends up inspiring him to complete the symphony, to write his first great pop song in years, and to begin seeking connections with people again.

The character of Desmond Howl is based largely on Brian Wilson.

As for Rheostatics:

Music for the film was written by Rheostatics and released on the soundtrack album Music from the Motion Picture Whale Music. The song “Claire” was a Top 40 hit for the band in 1995. Quarrington had chosen the Rheostatics to compose the soundtrack because he had liked their 1992 album Whale Music, which was itself inspired by Quarrington’s novel.

Do you see what I’m saying here?  No way in hell Dale, Gross and Rheostatics come together this way without it being about me!  Or maybe it’s about my growing attachment to Canada, eh?

That’s not all.  There was this program on CBC called Canadian Reflections.  It was a half-hour glimpse at Canada from a variety of angles.  I remember taping the shows and hurrying home after work to see what the tape held, and it always held something of substance.  There was a program about a lady who moved into the wilderness so she could have the substances needed to make her own unique paper.  There was a short film about a little girl who saved a baseball pitcher’s career and which showed, dramatically, how much he knew he owed her.  There was folklore and histories and looks behind the doings of the famed National Film Board,  a government-backed arts organization to which the whole world looked as regards the art of filmmaking.  There were so many looks at the past that my head spinned.  I wanted my country to care about the arts as much as did Canada.  I still do, but the neocons would rather have us fall back into the dark ages— times when biblethumpers blamed people for their own diseases, pointing to sin as the reason.  I hate you, Ted Cruz, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell!  I have never thought bad of my country— my country’s decisions, sure, but not my country— until you opened your hate-infested mouths.  If you had your ways, there would not only have never been a program like Canadian Reflections here, you would have burned books and destroyed historical film to make sure that it wouldn’t happen.  May you rot in hell.

I remember staying up late working some nights, TV on in the background, awaiting signoff.  There was nothing quite so cool as to hear the announcer run down the number of transmitters and their locations.  I mean, Canada has the coolest names of towns and regions than any country in the world:  Tuktoyaktuk, Port Alberni, Chilliwack, Whitehorse and my favorite, Spillamacheen.  A friend once told me that it was named thus because they were transporting heavy machinery to the west and it got bogged down there.  In essence, they spilled a machine.  I don’t care if that’s true or not, it’s a great story.  Here is what I used to sit through.  This is what I hear (and see) when you mention O Canada.  As national anthems go, this is as cool as it gets.

To show you how really cool Canada can be, let me tell you about Slow Cow.  It’s an “anti-energy” drink.  Yep, you heard it right.  Anti-energy.  While the rest of the world is amping up, the brainiacs in Canada are finding ways to slow down.  They have marketed Slow Cow which they bill as a relaxation drink.  I want to hug Canada, or at least the people at Slow Cow Drink, Inc.  If nothing else, they have proven Red Bull nothing but humorless blackguards and a corporation built in the mold of, if not actually attached to, Monsanto.  Here is the story, again courtesy of Wikipedia (and, hey, they need money to keep Wiki ad-free.  It wouldn’t hurt to send them a few bucks):

When the finished product was launched in December 2008, it was packaged to parody Red Bull. The can was of a similar shape and size of the popular energy drink, and the logo featured two cows relaxing to contrast the two bulls fighting in the Red Bull logo.[3] After the launch, Red Bull GmbH sent Slow Cow Drink Inc. a formal notice to close, claiming that Slow Cow’s packaging copied Red Bull’s.[5] While Fleury admitted to the similar packaging, he said that his lawyers “are confident they will win this case.”

What can I say except that America’s Hat is more than the butt of America’s jokes.  In fact, they have turned the joke on us down here in the Lower 48.  They are now, and I say this without even the hint of a Canadian accent, kicking our asses.  Now, if they can only figure a way to kick the Koch Brothers asses, I would apply for dual citizenship.

Speaking of Canada, my buddy Louis Chirillo is living up there now.  Louis taught me everything I know about hockey, was the first person I ever knew who had in-line skates and without fail could crack me up with the simple line involving “tripping over the blue line.”  Anyway, just so you Canucks’ heads don’t get too big, here is Louis’ Seattle Hockey History in 10 Minutes (more or less).  And then… nothing happened.

If this was Franz Kafka‘s The Metamorphosis, I would not be typing this right now, my hands and, indeed, my feet transformed into cockroach appendages.  It is not, thankfully, but that does not mean that the metamorphosis is not in progress.  I have numerous volumes of The New Canadian Library on my shelves, waiting to be read.  Jesus, but what a lineup of writers Canada has produced— Farley Mowat, Hugh MacLennan, Mordecai Richler, Gabrielle Roy, Margaret Laurence, Frederick Philip Grove, Sinclair Ross, Ralph Connor, Morley Callaghan, Ringuet, not to mention W.P. Kinsella, whose writings of the Reservation may not be politically correct but which are among my favorites.  My God, but do Canadians know what they have?  Many of my favorite bands, including Picture The Ocean (which garnered my Album of the Year pick for 2012) are Canadian.  While I despise award shows, I would much rather watch The Juno Awards than the all-too-Hollywoodized Grammys (Holly Woods, in fact, comes before Hollywood in my computerized mind).  Hockey pretty much remains a mystery to me, but I find its history to be fascinating.  I visited Vancouver Island last year and was amazed.  This year, I will visit Vancouver.  Some day I hope to make it to Toronto and maybe Montreal.  I’m still not sure about poutine— I mean, who in their right mind puts gravy on french fries, for Chrissake— but I am not ruling it out.

WENDY'S RESTAURANTS OF CANADA - Oh Poutine! Grab your forks

The other writers on the DBAWIS staff will love this column.  Jaimie Vernon delights in correcting not only my assumptions about everything Canadian but has taken to correcting my statements about rock music, which I have to admit makes my writing better.  Roxanne Tellier will undoubtedly take the opportunity to slip some unknown Canadian history into my mental grab bag or YouTube files.  Darrell Vickers will take pride in the fact that I am at least trying while so many of us so-called Americans are content sitting in our pool of ignorance.  Then others are so busy that they will hardly look up (I mean, have you seen the volume of work coming from the “pens” of Doug Thompson and Gary Pig Gold and the other writers who grace this column?

ratbastardAnd Bob Segarini— good ol’ Bob— he will find this interesting if nothing else.  We are brothers-in-arms, Bob and myself.  We take delight in tilting at the windmills of the music industry, in uncovering the buried and obscure.  We look upon it as a battle.  He’s American, too, you know.  But he knows Canada.  He knows Canada better than anyone else I know.  I wish he knew it well enough to get me Jennifer Dale’s phone number but I know if he had it he would use it himself, the self-centered rat bastard.  (The comic Rat Bastard created by Crucial Comics)

For those who care, next week will be a rundown of Denmark’s Alcoholic Faith Mission, which has a new album coming out on February 20th.  They rocked my world in Portland a couple of years ago.  Cam Carpenter will appreciate that one.  Without Cam, I wouldn’t even be aware of them.

But, hey, as few as they are, there are still….

NotesNotes…..  While I was jumping up and down about the new Carl Anderson album, Risk of Loss, I happened to notice that one of the songs contained therein was co-written by Anderson and Caroline Spence, a young girl who was but a newbie on the Charlottesville music scene when I arrived (mentally) a handful of years ago.  Turns out that Caroline has been hard at work herself, having just completed an album titled Somehow.  While I’ve heard only one song thus far, it is a beautiful and haunting one which makes me think she is coming into her own.  The Bluegrass Situation has featured that song, Trains Cry.  When I heard it, it was a sledgehammer to my heart.  You can read a bit about it and hear it by clicking on this link to The Bluegrass Situation‘s page.

Rita Hosking has just announced her next project, an album titled Frankie and the No Go Road.  You might think, after watching the provided video, that it is a childrens album but you would be wrong.  While much of Rita’s music does appeal to the young, I can testify that everything she has created is worthy of attention.  She has a handful of albums behind her, all excellent and all just a little bit different from the others.  This one promises to be one of her most adventurous.  I’m not posting this to help her meet a fundraising goal.  I am posting this because I believe in everything she has thus far done.  Look upon it as an opportunity.

Not to get negative or anything, but the last words out of the mouth of Bob Dylan that I thought worth really paying attention to were on Highway 61 Revisited.

That’ll do, pigs.


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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DBAWIS ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”

3 Responses to “Frank Gutch Jr: OMIGOD!!! I Just Looked in a Mirror! I Think I’m Trans-Canadian! Plus Notes…..”

  1. Doug Thompson Says:

    Frank, I’m never too busy to welcome a new Canarican to the fold, even though many Canadians would gladly trade places with you. I recommend you watch a mockumentary called “The Canadian Conspiracy”
    as well as a 1973 Canadian made movie about a popular yet mysterious DJ broadcasting from an isolated farmhouse out in the boonies of Saskatchewan called “Slipstream”. Fun Canadian stuff.

  2. Welcome to the Great White North, although these days, that description might not be so apt. Seems you folks south of the 49th are getting more snow that we are. One note….Canada is not “the” Commonwealth but is a proud “member” of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is comprised of 53 countries on 6 continents to the tune of 2.1 billion people. Love the article…. and thank you, we love our country (and Jennifer Dale) too.

  3. Slipstream may a bit too much for a Canarican let alone anyone under 40.

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