the stretch of Seymour

When I was 15, me and my best friend used any day that we weren't required to be in school to take the 351 bus from White Rock to Vancouver. A solid hour of travel but any day was better spent huddling under a bus shelter doubling as a hobo's bachelor suite, than anywhere in White Rock. It can't be just me that feels the place you grow up in, during the fuck awful years of high school anyways, that is the place you couldn't wait to run away from screaming and punching. It's rad thinking back that my behaviour and big thoughts, in all their earnest alternativeness, were so very vanilla.

Our mecca of Vancouver was Seymour Street, between Granville and Pender. Pender? Living in or near a city for this many years I should know streets, but when you're the driver you get to bark out shit like, "Here? HERE? Or the next street?"

That stretch had our music stores  - A & B Sound with the back part of the main floor housing the most desirable cassettes; Sam the Record Man's many floors, of which I climbed um, none of them; Track Records where my favourite employee ever worked, you know the one I ran into at a Jay Reatard show and made him feel really old and awkward; and then a smaller store that we'd only hit up for posters or t-shirts.

How into the Red Hot Chili Peppers was I back then? Bought every poster, and bought a personalized pen with 'Michael' written on it from a big dollar store because that was Flea's real name and he was my favourite and only by the grace of my Mom's carefully chosen words do I not have their symbol tattooed on me right now.

We spent hours, maybe years, poking in and out of those stores, because for me music and musicians and all the stuff gave me a feeling in my gut that pulled me clean out of my skin and into a place so loved. I still clearly remember eating these candy bellybuttons while listening to the first part of PJ Harvey's album, Rid of Me, you know the one with her hair whipped to the side all dark and disgusting? That music threw me across the room and back. (I never bought anything else from her; the sounds were too pressing and anxious, two things I didn't need any more of at that age.)

One year on Remembrance Day, outside A & B, there was a camera crew. The reporter is still around, he's older, but still has a distinctive growly voice and does a lot of "Can you believe this happens in your own neighbourhood?!!" stories on the news. Struck silly by the idea of BEING ON TV THUS THEN FAMOUS, I totally loitered around them while they were interviewing someone, then agreed to answer a few questions about Remembrance Day. Instantly coated in a sweat sheen, I bobbled my way through some mostly coherent sentences, basically saying yes, I understood what the day meant, dropping in for street cred that my Grandpa fought in the Navy, and yes, I was out shopping for deals.

That night the clip aired and it was basically a, "Can you believe how unholy and unpatriotic and materialistic these shitty people are?!?" type deal. Truthfully, I was just stoked to be on TV. I would pay a million dollars to watch that footage right now. And have that stretch of street back. I think only A & B is left but it's been close to shutting down for ages. Man, nostalgia is always an easy door to open, and such a bitch to close.