Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

March 27, 2006

I Like Long Walks on the Beach, Fine Dining, and Jazz

I'm pushing hard to finish my book on time, so a day off is a precious commodity. I schedule one every couple of weeks. Today was sunny and almost spring-like, so I went walking by the Beach. As always, the water proved a bigger draw than the boardwalk, so I parked myself on a rock and gazed out at Lake Ontario for the better part an hour. It was chilly, but rejuvenating.

After sunset, I caught the 501 car at the end of the line (Neville Park) and rode west till I got hungry. That happened somewhere in New Toronto. I had exactly $12 on me ... just enough for a medium pizza and an orange Gatorade. It was a real treat not to have to come home and cook dinner.

All the while, I listened to every Miles Davis album I own, in sequence. Now, I'm quite new to jazz and am still growing accustomed to its vocabulary. But any way you slice it, the man was both maverick and innovator. If you're at all familiar with Miles, you'll appreciate that Nefertiti to On The Corner covers a lot of territory and is hard to digest in one sitting. As such—and to deepen my understanding and enjoyment—I brought the liner notes along and read them on the streetcar. These days, I barely have time to listen to music, much less read the liner notes. And how I treasure well-written annotations like these! (On a related note, music criticism is probably my biggest literary influence by default.)

March 12, 2006

Killer Twigs

A warning to all cyclists, especially those of you who savour a genteel ride in a sylvan setting: beware the killer twigs of Toronto Island!

I decided to spend my day off biking around the Island. Things were going swimmingly until I veered off the main road onto a paved path that led to the boardwalk. Fallen twigs, branchlets, and sundry arboreal parts were strewn about, but the roadway hardly looked scary. In fact, I took little notice until I suddenly heard a crack, then a thump. When my wheel hit the killer twig, the evil appendage somehow leapt from there up into my front fender, which it promptly snapped in two—each end bashed against the front wheel, of course.

The wheel wasn't damaged, just temporarily immobile. And wouldn't you guess, I had no tools with me. I generally don't carry them because (a) I barely know how to use them; and (b) you're never too far from a TTC stop anywhere in Toronto ... except on the Island. So, I performed my best impersonation of Superman/Uri Geller to bend and manipulate the twisted wreckage off my bike and into the nearest garbage bin, then carried on without incident.

Oh, well—it's the back fender that prevents that nasty stripe from crawling up your back. Who needs the front one? Evidently, I don't.