Gold Medal Poet: That Night in Whistler

August 23, 2016

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The first time I was presented with the idea that healthy people might die due to circumstances beyond their control was when I was about ten years old. It was a Friday night sometime in the 1960s, when the last thing that TV stations would show were five year old (or thereabouts) movies. It was a summer night, and my dad and I sat down to watch Gary Cooper in Pride of the Yankees:  The Lou Gehrig Story, a movie that my dad warned would be “a real tear-jerker.” Not knowing quite what he meant, we watched the movie and because I was a sports nut at the time, I loved it, that is, of course, until Lou is struck down with the mysterious ailment that still incapacitates and kills thousands of people each year. I’m absolutely gutted by the time Lou delivers his famous “luckiest man alive” speech, and for the first time in my life, I found out that life wasn’t fair. You never quite get used to it.

As Canadians found out in May of this past year, the Tragically Hip’s lead singer Gordon Downie had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Within days, it was also announced that The Hip would go on tour one last time, nominally in support of a new album entitled Man Machine Poem.

Dozens of bands have done farewell tours. Only one—that I can think of—has ever done a final tour because its lead singer/muse is going to be dead in less than a year. At the very least, it was all going to be, as Downie sings in the fabulous Scared, “a little beyond anything I’m used to.”

The Hip, as we call them in Canada, hadn’t really scored a major hit in a decade or so (in the days of file sharing, iTunes, and Spotify, who really has, and when was the last time you listened to an album for fully and completely?).

Still, the news shocked our northern nation. There are several reasons for this. First, at 52, Gordon Downey is still a young man, even though you might call the band, which has been together since 1988, “semi-aging rock and rollers.” Secondly, The Hip are a band borne of a Generation X demographic (Canadian writer Douglas Coupland coined the Gen X term) that broke decisively with the baby boomers and their Guess Who and Gordon Lightfoot albums. The Hip emerged along with The Pursuit of Happiness, Crash Vegas, The Skydiggers, 54-40, and, a bit later, the New Pornographers and the Joel Plaskett Emergency.

Not all of this new Canadiana made it onto your local FM stations, but The Hip certainly did. However, they were never a singles band-every song on Day for Night, Phantom Power, and Trouble at the Hen House was a keeper.

More than anything else, The Hip made CDs for long Canadian road trips; “looking for a place to happen, making stops along the way.” I’ll leave the laundry list of Canadian towns to the vast array of Hip completists to fill in the blanks. If anything, some of us would consult our Reader’s Digest road atlas to see exactly where the 100th meridian might fall, or ask a more literary friend if there really was a city called the Paris of the Prairies. All I know is that you could buy a Hip CD, toss it into your car or truck stereo, and the goddam thing would be stuck in there for weeks on end, until you’d wake up in the morning and have the lyrics of Wheat Kings in your head while you brushed your teeth.

The lyrics were written courtesy of the immensely talented lead singer Gordon Downie, and we really don’t know much about his personal life. (Just yesterday, I found out that he has four kids; who has that many, these days?) The band have been notoriously publicity shy for the past three decades, and, unlike in the United States where rock journalist’s careers are built on seedy exposes and well-planted puff pieces planned by unscrupulous PR hacks, most Canadians are happy to let him live his own life (maybe we’re all still horribly embarrassed by that farmer who stalked Anne Murray, all those years ago). The media personality with the closest connection is likely George Strombolopolous, and even then his interviews are respectful if not deferential, and mostly about the music. Maybe, unlike Americans, Canadian artists crave a bit of privacy.

On a scale of the crazy-ass Hip devotees out there, I’ve gotta say I’m probably about a 3 out of 10,especially when it comes to seeing them in concert. Strangely, it was their success that caused me to lose interest in their live shows. I first heard about the band when a former roommate played them in my apartment. He had just turned 25, freshly graduated from UBC, and I was 35 and, similar to now, kind of stuck as to what to do with my life. I instantly took to songs like Blow at High Dough, New Orleans is Sinking, Boots or Hearts or (gulp) Thirty Eight Years Old.  My enjoyment, though, was tempered by my roommate’s admonition: To get The Hip, you must see a live show.

And so, I did. I can’t recall the year, or the tour, but I sure as hell recall the venue because it was the historic Commodore Ballroom, where I had seen incendiary live acts like The Pogues, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Graham Parker and R.E.M. The story goes something like this. They played two nights, and they were both sold out. I went with a friend of mine, the scalpers wanted too much money, and he split. I stuck around and can’t recall how much I paid, but I got in.  And The Hip were ‘as advertised’, throwing sweat in every direction off the stage and Gordie, wound up like a dervish while the pretty much all male crowd rocked furiously away. It wasn’t punk, it wasn’t blues, but it borrowed from both idioms in a uniquely Canadian way. Like the Aussie band Midnight Oil, who were also big at the time, the Hip were anthemic without devolving into self parody, like post Born in the USA Bruce Springsteen. The Hip were sort of like E-Street Shuffle Bruce, best seen in a small club where you felt that special bond between artist and audience; a bond that I’ve come to realize goes one-way for most musicians, I bet most artists find so called “superfans” to be a total pain in the ass.

When dates were announced for the Hip’s final tour, I knew that it would be a memorable event, but was pretty sure I didn’t want to spend even the hundred bucks or whatever for nosebleed seats in 16,000 seat Rogers Arena. And besides, within minutes, due to the wonders of bot technology and the Death Star that is TicketBastard, all of the seats were sold. People were furious, and for good reason. Even politicians got into the act, promising some kind of “legislation” that would prevent such a travesty from occurring in the future. (Note to politicians—we’re still waiting).

Out of the internet, though, grew a tiny request—one of those Avaaz or whatever petitions was circled, asking the CBC to live-stream The Hips’s final concert in Kingston, Ontario—where they had formed and played their first concerts (like early Beatles and Stones shows, there are tens of thousands who claim to have ‘been there’, but of course they weren’t… only a dozen or so people were, legend has it.) And, without a Royal Commission being called or a senate subcommittee, the mandarins who run Canada’s national broadcaster agreed to go along with it.

As the tour gathered steam, a superb body of rock journalism was assembled. Dave Kaufmann in the National Post. A story on Downie’s oncologist in the Globe. Chris Koentges’s fabulous story comparing Downie to Terry Fox in Slate. (What? Slate?) And even, shockingly, a fabulous concert review of the Air Canada shows in Toronto that appeared in the New Yorker. Critical mass was building as the tour commenced and the summer rolled on.

Almost immediately, the resort municipality of Whistler announced that they would host a live-stream viewing at the excellent Olympic Plaza facility. Though in the following weeks other venues would become available much closer to home, I knew that Whistler, with its die-hard collection of hosers and tourists, would support The Hip… and I was right.

Arriving ten minutes or so before the show, most of the grassy area was covered in blankets, seats, beach chairs, and umbrellas. Fittingly, the finale of the Women’s 800 metres was being shown in rich HD on the jumbotron (or whatever they call those things now) and   I groaned when I saw Ron Maclean do a bit of a schtick with the Olympic athletes in Rio in welcoming CBC viewers to The Hip’s simulcast, but then I thought, “what the hell. Poor Ron has been so screwed over by Rogers. It’s great to see him doing what he does best, digging into our small town roots.” And, on a night that many would later put up there with Paul Henderson’s winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series against Russia, I recalled that Henderson’s birth certificate was the same as mine—the quintessential small Ontario town of Kincardine; one that could easily have been immortalized in any Hip song. Hockey and small town Canada; joined at the Hip, indeed.

I started feeling a bit mushy during the intro, when they showed some clips of old videos—long since forgotten by me—and it struck me, “damn, this really is it for Gordie, tonight. I choked up just as the cameras cut away to the band coming on stage in Kingston—the town where they got their start— and they went straight into high gear with a rousing 50 Mission Cap.

Then, my phone buzzed… it was a friend from Calgary, I guy I was once close to who reminded me of the time that I asked him if his Toronto Maple Leafs cap was his “fifty mission cap” — and he caught the reference right away. He was just texting to say hi and remembered the great memory of that song, which elicited tremendous applause both off stage in Kingston and, perhaps somewhat tepidly, in Whistler (after all, who cheers at a TV screen? That is just, like, weird…)

It took a bit of time, but the concrete pad at the front of the “stage” started filling up with people; initially, parents with one eye on the screen and another on their restive children. A third of the way through the show and there were likely a couple thousand people gathered, and by now dozens of true fans were near the front, unabashedly mouthing lyrics and having a blast.

I watched an texted with my friend Torben, who had seen the show in Vancouver on July 26 (coincidentally, my 60th birthday) and each text got more and more excitable as both the hits and more obscure songs were played to an ever-frenzied audience. At one point, I thought Gord’s energy was flagging somewhat but then the first encore featured incendiary versions of New Orleans is Sinking, Boots and Hearts, and probably the song that launched their careers from a commercial perspective, the propulsive Blow at High Dough.

If the first encore had been nostalgia, the second set was “one for the fans” that people will be talking about for ages. Nautical Disaster, (more on that, later) a song I wasn’t much familiar with. The gorgeous ballad Scared, followed by Grace, Too and that mournful yowl near the end where Downie is overcome with emotion. A day later, a brief clip of Downie lost in tears would emerge on social media.

For the final encore, I hung out with my friend Frank, who had lost his brother to glioblastoma in 2015. Frank’s seen the inside of a lot of hospitals as a health care professional, and was the first to admit that Downie looked pretty damned energetic up there. “He’s certainly channeling something pretty deep… I don’t know what it is.” It was likely Downie’s famous muse, the one first identified by his Grade Nine drama teacher.

After the show, I was supposed to go over to Frank’s place and stay the night. But I felt weird. I had to process what I’d just seen. So I drove back to the city on, in a turn of phrase from Bruce Cockburn, “the warmest night of the year.” The sunroof open, the windows down, and fragrant mountain air blowing through the cab. My copies of Phantom Power, Trouble in the Hen House, and Man, Machine Poem went into rotation.

I cracked open a beer and my Facebook page, and found the community I was looking for;  people who just wouldn’t let go and wanted to share their thoughts about the show, like an online version of Cross Country Checkup.

I searched out Nautical Disaster on YouTube, since it was a song I was unfamiliar with and it made a big impression on me. The tears were flowing by the time I got to “those left in the water were kicked off our pant leg/and we headed for home.” A callous witness to history, Downie is. More than anything, Downie is so young and so handsome in this evocative black and white video. In his concert, he wondered when, exactly, women started showing up to his shows, well, I’m guessing this was as good a place to start as any. But at 2:30 am Pacific time, six hours after the show, I had to shut it down for the night.

There was even more to ponder, the next day.

Two memorable events stood out for me; one during the concert, and the other in the plaza. Gordon Downie called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not once, but twice during the show. The first time, I thought it was pretty much a free time political telecast that Trudeau would lead us into an historic reconciliation with our aboriginal First Nations. The second time, though, I wasn’t so sure it was a metaphoric high five as much as an admonition not to let people down on this extremely important issue. As he mouthed, “thank you” to Gord and the band, I wouldn’t blame the PM for feeling a little bit intimidated by such a big ask; after all, if you’re going to win votes by wearing the t-shirt, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain.

The second observation was of a mid-20s couple in front of me who were locked arm in arm for the longest time. I didn’t think much of it other than they literally appeared to be “joined at the hip,” and then, on closer inspection, saw that they were two guys. I’ll bet Downie himself would be pretty damned impressed that a gay couple could come to one of his shows and just be another pair of faces in the crowd; it wasn’t likely how things were in the raucous college town of Kingston back when the Hip got their start in 1984.

Yes, the Kingston, hell, the CANADIAN, finale had tears. But it also held hope. Far as I could tell, the band and its fans were going out in style, but also remembering, as none other than Peter Mansbridge tweeted, that this special night was “about the music.”

Is Gordon Downie making us scared by confronting our own mortality and forcing us to “push through” whatever challenges we have while we’re still alive? Yes, quite possibly he is. A great artist can of course do that, but in Downie’s case he’s showing, not telling. Doing, not talking.

When the tour was announced back in June, The Hip said that they “wanted to blow people’s minds.” Well, to quote that great line in Scared, “You did what you said you’d do.”

Thanks from the bottom of our hearts, Gord. That was one hell of a Night in Canada.

 

Looking for professional #writing, #bran

May 2, 2016

Looking for professional #writing, #brand journalism, #advertorial, #sponsored content? #hire me – portfolio, here https://sthrendyle.contently.com/

#backcountry #skiers rejoice – 3 new hut

February 23, 2016

#backcountry #skiers rejoice – 3 new huts in @bcparks Garibaldi Park #spearhead range! http://ow.ly/YFoDH http://ow.ly/i/gZcmu

Sad news out of #Kelowna; Crystal Mtn st

September 28, 2015

Sad news out of #Kelowna; Crystal Mtn stays closed for #2016 #ski season; repairs not made from life malfunction. http://ow.ly/SL8L5

Ptor Spriceniecks Interview (Unedited, Long Version)

January 16, 2015

I see you are originally from Bolton, Ontario. What was growing up there, like, and how does it feel to be showing your new movie there, now – do you make it back there to visit very often?

Actually I had a really cool showing at The Humberview School (my old alma mater) for 300 kids. They got the last period off to come and watch but it was super relevant for the English class and a filmaking class that could come. They were stoked on a Bolton boy that was living large! But the showing was a massive full circle that really meant a lot to me, especially since my 17 year old half sister is going there. It made me even more proud of myself that I had indeed followed my dreams and not listened to my parents or society. This was the first time back to Bolton in 16 years. Despite the time and Bolton’s evolution, it still feels like home as does Whistler and Golden and Chamonix and…

Growing up in Bolton was pretty cool. It was a wilder town when I was young. I remember flaming gas barrels being rolled down the south hill into town on Halloween getting into massive rock fights. There were tractors around because of the beginnings of it’s suburban sprawl and because of it’s farming roots. But htere were tons of bitching Camaros and it transformed as I grew up (i.e. got developed) following the industrial development and then all our ponds where the hockey that I did play happened started to disappear. But my mom and the Humber River valley out beyond my house got me going as a skier in a hockey culture. I was fortunate to have this forested ravine right in the back of my house as a kid and the ‘bricollaged’ ski area of Edelweiss to make the 70’s a big ski decade for me. When I developed my skiing enough I even skied some lines in the ravine. It was always noted that I stood funny…that skiers stance, even at the beginning of high school.

I think we all have ski dreams – I know that I do – yet you’ve been living the dream now, for decades. What can we learn about our dream-state and how can it influence our waking hours?

Well, the dream state is such a dance between the conscious and sub-conscious (or better put as ‘the higher self’) sometimes more awake than others. Dancing is nothing but ‘fancy’ communication and dreams are the next world giving us insight even when it’s abstract. So it’s crucial to heed whatever is in your dreams, whether the message be emotional, symbolic or literal. The dream world is that place where we communicate with our higher self using the context of the world in our waking life as a setting. The key is to awake in your dream-state (lucid dreaming) to take control of that world so that you can feel the realness of it …and therefore find you power in waking life. ‘Waking’ life is such the perfect term because waking is both an adjective and a verb. WE assume we’re awake when we’re not sleeping yet the majority of humanity is in the process of awakening. Therefore dreams and the concept of dreams are key in one’s ‘inner revolution’ and really knowing one’s self. Native Americans were all about dreams and considered them to be equally as real as waking life.

As I say in the film, I followed my dreams and now my dreams follow me in a self perpetuating thing. I also credit my engineering education to make me a problem solver and thus use the logical side of my brain along with the intuitional to engineer a lifestyle. That’s always a work in progress😉

Tell us a bit about the film – how it came together, how long it took to make, and – as the subject of the movie – how you reacted/felt when you saw the final cut?

The film began after serendipitously meeting Bjarne Salen in La Grave while he was there filming a short for EpicTV. It was my good friend and local mountain guide Joe Vallone that introduced us while all waiting for the lift to open one fine powdery morning and ended up filming with them for a couple of days. We ended up making a really good vibes connection and talked of doing something together. The story idea for the film had recently dawned on me from talking to filmaker Darcy Turenne about that very basic idea but never had the right theme and story line. After it crysrallized in me, I went about transmitting to him the best I could about this tale of dreams interweaving with life and that all this serendipitous archival footage was foreseeably available . It did connect and Bjarne was inspired to commit to taking on this challenging project. In January 2014, we began filming in La Grave after Bruno Bertrand at Salomon became the executive producer on the project. Bjarne was on many interesting filming projects all winter while I also did my regular gig guiding in Kyrgyzstan. The idea was to get strong for our expedition to Pakistan where we’d try the unclimbed Geshot Peak again in May. The idea to return there had also magically surfaced around the time we started, just before we didn’t yet have a climax ‘dream line’ for the film. We did another filming session in LA Grave in April as well. All the skiing worked out in exceptional conditions for the dates that would work for both of us. There was a good flow already. Joe was part of some of those adventures and so was my buddy Ville Niiranen.

When Greg Hill joined us for the Pakistan adventure, the flow was still really awesome and so it was came as a very contrasting shocking scenario when Greg got in his avalanche. Our decision to turn from our highpoint and get the good skiing at the right time in the good light on the Shina Face was also crucial in our production value in more ways than one.

After the expedition, a series of interviews began and the collecting of old footage from sources like Peter C and Stumpy continued. Bjarne travelled to California and Costa RicaOur requests even rousted Rob and Adam Deslaurier to finally digitize their classic film Altitude. Bjarne also magically obtained some footage from Red Bull Media House of the heli/cineflex shots of Nanga Parbat. Getting the interview with Reinhold was magic too and my respect grew after meeting him. Bjarne all the while was learning this great old history of skiing that he wasn’t aware of yet through exploring my world. His last interviews and footage were all ready at the end of July so he edited that thing in a month and a half to have a shot to submit it to Banff. A mighty task. The final final with the sound done by the musician and studio in Stockholm was done in mid October and in the mix Bjarne pulled off another…and not his last bit of magic…of getting Moby on board somehow for the music in some key segments. I remember really appreciating the sound when it was played on the Snow Show night at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. That was super exciting to have VIP passes to the Festival and do the world premiere there as finalists. That was definitely my best aesthetic experience of the film so far. Really quality projection and sound with 700 people in the audience!! But it was equally super amazing process to watch the different edits as we got them done along the way with my wife Karin and marvel at the progress Bjarne just crushed with skills. Karin was a crucial part of it and had some great ideas to pass on. Of course I’ll never see the film objectively like other people because all the visuals have personal significance so I am always transported instead of following the film…drifting off, ha, ha.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that you liked doing solo trips, but obviously in places like La Grave, you are skiing with others, and I understand you’ve guided some groups as well. What do you learn when you do solo trips as opposed to the relational aspects of touring with other people?

I don’t guide around La Grave, I just go ski with friends. My guiding is with some private clients on creative ski adventures and with 40 tribes in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t really go solo much these days but I do end up doing considerable solo runs off the ski lift. I need to run on my own schedule…or rather my boys’ schedule😉 I used to do more soloing back in BC on the coast. I think it’s important to do a bit. It’s good to feel confident in yourself to keep yourself comfortable with the parameters of the situation you put yourself in and being solo in crucial in instilling that awareness. I always felt like it needed to be exceptional conditions to consider solo missions and definitely wasn’t for any old time you needed a challenge. I would say it’s super important to experience the solo exposure to become a better partner.

You’ve been described as the ski shaman for decades, now. How did the name come about – who came first, Ptor, or the Shaman? What is the ski shaman’s personal philosophy – who has it been shaped by (from a spiritual or philosophical point of view?)

Ski Shamanism was a concept that stirred both Troy Jungen and myself. At the outset of my entry into mountain realm in the late 80’s in Whistler, it was what Troy and I considered as our Bachelors Degree in Ski Bumming. Troy wrote a particularly wonderful thesis on his studies. Then I pursued my Masters in Ski Barbarism. But lurking in the distance was the ultimate goal of a PhD in Ski Shamanism. So we traveled to all sorts of mountain ‘schools’, so to speak. Shamanism is a very protean thing on the outside but it’s all about accepting the potential as a healer as the universal aspect. A lot of wisdom is contained in the 10 Huna principles that describe the ‘shamanic’ perspective. Shamanism doesn’t necessarily entail the stereotypical drums and enthoegens.

We’ve seen a few segments in other ski movies this winter that have, been, well, psychedelic. Do mind altering substances have their place in what can be a rather risky environment?

Of course they have their place, hopefully they’re used with some kind of prudence, wisdom and ceremony. They can definitely accelerate the powder skiing learning curve of an Ontario transplant. A bit of weird is good for you but like Terrence McKenna said, “when you get the message…hang up.”

I really appreciate all the ‘psychedelic’ filming stuff these days. The art of ski-film making is coming into a renaissance. Afterglow was insane, I’m blown away it’s so beautiful and the ski performances in them. It doesn’t need to be called psychedelic either. It’s just what it is. These days I don’t mind a beer or a genepy before last run when it feels right.

Near the end of the movie, we see some proud papa moments that I think just about any family man can relate to. Can a ski shaman be a good father? What do you think the future holds?

I couldn’t envision me not giving my everything for my boys. They are my priority and my vision of the future is mainly to get them the best start possible and be crucial partners and friends with them. I’m super glad Willy-Khan the 5 year old is super keen on skiing already. Carlos is gonna begin probably this winter. But if they don’t ski forever I’m open to whatever their passion ends up being. I really look forward to skiing some more with my wife because that was a crucial part of our first years together and it should continue. I’m super keen on enlarging the garden and getting chickens going next summer. Gotta finish our house too!! There will be more ski adventures for sure but they’re just gonna come along as they should. I’d really love to be part of some more theatrical movie productions with skiing in them if I do more film projects. I have lots of abstract ideas and I still have a bunch of ski projects I’ve sussed out. Right now I’m just training for 50 and getting in some travel before eventually spending more and more time with the boys.

You seem to have a really great set-up there in France. Can you ever see coming back and doing any projects in the Coast Range?

Oh man I’d totally love to go do projects in the Coast Range. One of the most beautiful places on earth. Speaking of that I got to have beers with John Baldwin after the VIMFF show. Talk about inspiration!!!! I also got to see my buddy and old ski partner Trevor Hunt in Whistler which further fueled my desire to return for some sessioning on the coast.

What’s your opinion of what’s going down in the ski mountaineering/adventure world these days?

Amazing things are being done these days and there’s been tragedy too. There’s awesome authenticity and there’s some real cheese too. I was hoping the Dream Line could shed additional perspective about some deeper aspects about personal engagement to ski-mountaineering. Stoked to have filmed a ski cut and that it ended up in the film…never see that shit in films these days. I sincerely hope competitiveness will remain out with ski-mountaineering…not in the ski-mo racing sense… but just in the sense that the essence and amazingness of ski-mountaineers is their diversity in styles and as such their personal expressions and visions are what bring them into their power zones. It should be about doing things from an honestly personal motivation. Filming and professionalism affects everybody differently in terms of their boundaries in decision making while skiing. My personal favorite ski descent thing in a while was Chris Brazeau’s solo of Bryce’s North Face. Absolutely nailed in every sense.

My favorite recent new ski-mountaineering vibe besides Joe Vallone in the last while is Glen Plake. I finally got to go skiing with him this past August. I really appreciate and groove with his refined perspectives on the industry and the scene. Solid guy to be in the mountains with and super funny of course. I look forward to ski with him again sometime.

Do you like #deeppowdersnow? Fab new @cm

October 22, 2014

Do you like #deeppowdersnow? Fab new @cmh_heli clip in the #monashees with #godfather @mikedski http://ow.ly/Db0QF

Hmm, @mec does an #outfitgrid on their h

August 22, 2014

Hmm, @mec does an #outfitgrid on their homepage to promote their #fall lineup. #notyourfathersmec http://ow.ly/AALQM

Greg Marches upHill in latest challenge

March 7, 2014

Greg Marches upHill in latest challenge @salomon, @arcteryx, @suunto. Follow #ghillmadness. http://ow.ly/umhrJ

Sweet Home Athabasca

January 18, 2014

“Sweet Home Athabasca”  (Piano intro: px of Stephen Harper playing piano from Beatles tribute)

 

Truck tires keep on churnin’  (big earth mover tires w human scale)

Got my paycheck For the Win (Suncor pay stub)

Flingin’ dirt around the Oil-Land (Burtynsky like landscape)

I love Alberta and its kin’ (Alberta coat of arms)

And it ain’t no sin, no… (Fort Mac welcome sign)

 

Well I heard Mister Young rant about her  (px Neil one – from 70s)

And I heard ole Neil slag ‘er down (Neil pic two – w Jian Gomeshi)

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember (Neil snarling)

CBC don’t come in up here, anyhow (CBC logo)

 

Sweet home Athabasca (scenic pic of river)

Where the skies are so blue (panoramic shot of wheat fields)

Sweet Home Athabasca (another river pic with Fort Mac in foreground)

Rivers runnin’ black with crude (seepage into river)

 

In Edmonton they love the Tories (boo, boo, boo) (Redford pic)

And even down in Cowtown, too (skyline of Calgary)

Now oil sands do not bother me  (trucker guy shrugs shoulders)

Does your mortgage bother you? (ugly tract homes with ‘sold’ real estate sign)

(Tell the truth)

 

Sweet home Athabasca

Where the ice is so blue (winter pic)

Sweet Home Athabasca

Tons of oil left to use (dig, baby, dig!)… (Chinese pollution shot)

 

Now Edmonton has got the Oilers (Oilers logo)

And they have won a Cup or two (Wayne and the Cup)

But was back in the Eighties (long hair shag cut)

With Wayne and Coff and Mess and Fuhr (quick montage of these four Oilers)

(A wreckin’ crew) (shot of Gretzky scoring over Flames)

 

Sweet home Athabasca (another Fort Mac image)

Land of macho tatto’d dude (self explanatory)

Sweet Home Athabasca (traffic jam downtown)

Get rich then I gotta move (U-Haul trailer with NFLD plates)

 

Sweet home Athabasca

Where the turf is so chewed (another Burtynsky like shot)

(And the money is lewd) – (strip bar in Fort Mac)

Sweet Home Athabasca

Lord, I’m proud to give my youth… (some guy with his wife and 3 kids)

(FADE TO BLACK)

Thanks to Randall Mang and Canada West #

October 21, 2013

Thanks to Randall Mang and Canada West #Ski Areas Assn, a well-designed special section in Saturday’s @GlobeandMail that I had a small part in… http://ow.ly/q2dp8