Childhood, the pleasures of reading, loss, and joy are among the subjects featured in thiscollection of nine essays. In the fusing of memoir, short story, and reflective essay genres along with the spiritual expose of modern life, this meditative prose examines spirituality and living mindfully."
- Paperback | 77 pages
- 136 x 214 x 14mm | 158.76g
- 01 Dec 2009
- AUTUMN HILL BOOKS
- Line drawings, black and white
"Did you fail?”
This was Gord Downie's response when I told him that I had written about his book of poetry, Coke Machine Glow, for a school assignment on Canadian authors. As he signed my copy of the book, he laughed and then said that he was honoured. In true Downie form he managed to be both witty and so humble.
In 2002 I was a member of THC (The Hip Club) which came with its own actual membership card then. Through the fan club, I found out that The Hip were shooting a video for Silver Jet and were looking for extras. I had the incredibly good fortune of being contacted by THC to participate, and my university schedule meant that I could head down to Dupont and Lansdowne on a weekday on very short notice to take part. I had no idea what the concept of the shoot was, or whether any of the band would be in attendance. I was given an address of an old warehouse and told I could bring a couple of friends.
When we arrived, the area of the building we were waiting in was minimally furnished with some temporary tables and chairs. Not all of the extras had shown up yet. There was a bit of bustling in another area of the warehouse as things were being set up but other than that. It was very low key. We spoke of not really knowing what to expect. We waited, as extras apparently do. And then Downie appeared. He was tall and softer-spoken than I thought he would be. He took some time to chat and sign autographs and take pictures. Many of the extras were scrambling for scraps of paper to have signed - most of us didn’t really expect to see the band, and certainly didn’t expect a meet and greet with Downie, so there was a lot of sharing of napkins and newspapers and anything else signable as we tried to make sure that anyone who wanted an autograph was able to leave with one. I ended up taking addresses to mail photographs to a few of the other extras once I had gotten them printed, which is something very charmingly 2002. I had slipped my copy of Coke Machine Glow into my bag on the way out, not expecting anything to come of it. And then somehow there Downie was, signing it for me as I told him about my assignment.
The part of the "Silver Jet" video that we ended up in is the “concert” in the little room with lights along the walls. During the first take we all pushed forward, as you might do upon finding yourself in a small room with The Hip playing in front of you. We were told repeatedly to leave space between us, to move back and spread out to help us look like a fuller crowd. Our fan-ness (as opposed to our skill as extras) was thoroughly showing.
The day was long, and we were in and out of the "concert" a few times as we waited between takes. And in between takes, the band was around — mingling and chatting — which was so far beyond any reasonable expectations that I had for the day that it’s next to impossible to put it into words. The two friends that I brought along spent the day making jokes and generally being ridiculous in the best possible way and when it was all said and done Downie went out of his way to thank them for making a long day feel shorter. It was such a small thing for him to do, but it spoke volumes about the kind of musician he is: gracious, thoughtful, and, in spite of his success, always grateful for his fans.
I have a lot of Hip memories; the band and their songs are these tiny and larger moments with the people in my life, past and present. It’s bigger than the music. It’s relationships and time periods. Seasons. Connections. But when I hear "Silver Jet," I can see those lights pulsing along the walls again. These days I don’t live very far from where the video was shot, and while that warehouse is now the site of some big condos (of course it is), it’s a place I pass often and will always associate with the time that an unassuming day became the greatest and most surreal Hip experience I've ever had.