In Heaven there’s no lamb chops, Queen Guineveres for handjobs, marijuana, Kenny Rogers, or ecstasy

I’m in a fantastic mood. The sun is shining (five full days and counting!); flowers are blooming; the Canucks are winning; dogs are out walking their people; couples are making out on street corners; and I have thus far managed to successfully (and politely) stave off all solicitation attempts from the plethora of enthusiastic, clipboard-wielding, vest-wearing, non-profit fundraisers scattered around the city. But, while all of this is indeed cause for celebration, what really put me over the top was Friday night.

Unfortunately, delving into this euphoria will mean that, once again, I’m going to be writing about life and not shark trade legislation. I know this is a crushing development but, on the bright side, today’s post will at least provide something good to listen to for when you finally do read my unwritten post on the CITES shark shakedown. Too optimistic? For once, I think not.

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WARNING: The following will probably contain an obscene number of hyperbolic and lofty references regarding the greatness of Josh Ritter. With that in mind however, I promise that none of them will be for effect, as I honestly believe that any and all praise directed toward this man and his music is 100% deserved. I will also not apologize for the substantial smattering of music videos embedded in this post, and feel that anyone who reads this should actually be very appreciative that I have brought Josh to your ears with such ease. But, because a bouquet of Thank You roses would really be too much, watch at least one of them and we’ll call it even.

~

I came across Josh about five years ago, when ‘The Temptation of Adam’ was recommended to me by the mysteriously accurate YouTube sidebar; the moment I linked to this song, my life changed for the better. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d heard such creative and mesmerizing lyrics. And, the more of Josh’s music I listened to, the more I fell in love. He is a magician with words, combining intelligence, wit, and dark irony (in my opinion: an immensely enjoyable and sexy trifecta) to make interesting and thought-provoking songs. And he’s the one artist whose music I know I can turn to in just about any situation. The Animal Years helped get me through the legitimate agony of a broken heart, ‘Idaho’ on its own basically chased my ass up the aforementioned Adrar n’Dren, and (for whatever reason) my baking always tastes better when it’s made to the tune of ‘You Don’t Make it Easy, Babe’. However, as much as I’ve enjoyed Josh’s music in digital form, I’d never managed to make life align properly to see him live. Until now.

Josh has been on tour for a bit, promoting his seventh studio album The Beast in Its Tracks and of course I was beside myself with excitement when I saw he was coming to Vancouver. I was equally surprised that no one seemed interested in joining me. (I think I need to re-evaulate certain friendships, but that’s clearly a different matter…) Anyway, because I was determined to be parked front row centre, I arrived at the Commodore an hour prior to door time. I was third in line. In front of me were Pam and John, a middle-aged couple who had come from Calgary for the show. Feeding off each other’s energy, for the next hour we talked music and hockey and life, and conversing with these two reminded me that meeting cool people is one of the reasons why I really enjoy doing things on my own. Once inside, Pam and John found a table with a good view (their main objective for the night), bought me a beer, and let me stash my stuff while I went in search of the best spot at the stage. I didn’t see them again until the end of the show when we hugged it out and wished each other well.

Down at the stage I was alone. But again, this didn’t last long. I quickly found myself amidst three other lone wolves— Andrew, Jake, and Jeff— discussing our strategies for bathroom breaks and beer runs. This alliance proved highly successful and these guys were a lot of fun. Of the three, Jake had the coolest story. He had travelled up from Bellingham to see the show and he told us about how Josh’s music had inspired him to change his life. Caught in an unhappy marriage, the song ‘Roll On’ helped him to finally be honest with his wife, get a divorce, lose 100 lbs, move out west, and write a to-do list of 40 things that he thought were impossible. To date, he has crossed off fifteen of them.

The opening band, Lake Street Dive, was an insane start to the night. I hadn’t heard of them prior to this show, but holy hell can they ever make music! They definitely have their own sound, but if I had to describe their vibe, I’d say it was kind of a cross between Beirut and Alabama Shakes. At any rate, I’ll definitely be tracking down some of their tunes and would highly recommend others do the same.

Not too long after LSD finished, Josh bounded onto the stage with a huge smile and an energy that was contagious. My heart nearly stopped when he opened with ‘Idaho’, and for the next two and a half hours, I remained mesmerized, leaning on the bars of the railing just in front of the stage. I sang, I danced, I got cozy with Andrew, and while I could go into details, I know that I won’t really be able to convey the happiness that the entirety of this night instilled in my soul. And I feel that any attempt to do so would fall incredibly short. However, what I can say is that I will remember this concert for as long as I live, and that it will take an out-of-this-world musical experience to come close to rivalling it as tops on my all-time list.

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~

Because I was in such an excellent mood after the concert, I decided to walk home from downtown. (I am again mobile and making the absolute most of it!) Just before heading over the Granville bridge, I popped into Tim Hortons to grab a coffee. There was a bit of a line (with a combined blood alcohol level of 47.2), and I ended up behind a pair of teen skater guys. They were having a discussion but I wasn’t paying attention until one of them turned to me and said, “wouldn’t you agree?” I was taken aback and took out my headphones, “Pardon?”

Skater Guy #1: “This song. They always play it at the dentist, right?” I laughed. It was ‘In Too Deep’ by Genesis.

Me: “Yeah, they do.”

Skater Guy #2: “Imagine if you heard this while you were getting a root canal.”

Me: “I’ve had one…don’t remember any music though.”

Skater Guy #2: “You have? Did it hurt?”

Me: “Not really. I had a pretty good dentist. Definitely not the most painful thing I’ve ever had done.”

Skater Guy #1: “Oh yeah? What was the most painful?”

I considered my answer to this one to be pretty good. I stared straight into his eyes and, with a deadpan look, responded…

~

OK, so the next part of this post will probably either frighten, disgust, or thrill you. (I doubt it will do all three, but maybe.)

It all started last weekend when Kaz and I were sitting watching the Canucks game in our living room. Somehow our conversation got onto the topic of body art (i.e. tattoos and piercings). Kaz has several ear piercings and a nose ring, and I have three tattoos, so we got comparing experiences and also discussing some of our future desires. Since I recently reassured my Mom that I’d lay off the tats for a little while (I think she’s worried my skin is becoming more inked than bare), I told Kaz I’d been considering a certain piercing. She inquired further and told me the same one had crossed her mind before too. So,we decided to go down to Adrenaline the following weekend to check things out.

Well, long story short, we didn’t make it to the weekend. Mostly because I’m the type of person who, once their mind is made up about something, can’t think of anything else until they do it. I lasted until Tuesday afternoon, at which point I texted Kaz to see if she was up for going to Adrenaline that night instead.

I’ve always thought that getting a more exotic piercing would be a good bit of fun. That said, I decided long ago that I’d stay away from the face (money shot after all…), and my biggest fear was the potential for a complete and permanent loss of feeling in the chosen body part. Thus, I went through a few options, but ultimately I figured that since I have two nipples but only one clitoris, it really was a no-brainer.

The procedure itself was a little nerve-wracking (apparently I’m a much bigger baby than Kaz), but it was actually pretty anti-climactic all things considered. I was in The Room for a total of about six minutes, where my blissfully unaware boob was sterilized, and the entry and exit holes were initially marked with a pen. I was subsequently told to lie on a bed while my flesh was clamped down, and before I knew it, a huge fucking hollow needle was rapidly shoved through my now very alert and concerned nipple. The barbell insertion was followed by a solid (entirely justified) 15 seconds of profanity, but overall everything went smoothly. If you’re interested in seeing the final pierced product: CLICK HERE.

I think Kaz was slightly amused when I chose to spend the rest of the night at home, sitting on the couch shirtless, watching the Canucks, but she didn’t seem too fazed by it. So far, everything appears to be healing fine, and some real nice roommate bonding has occurred during our evening boob salt water bath sessions. (We’re using wine glasses for added class.)

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~

Alas, I answered the skater kid’s question with, “nipple piercing”; mostly because it was fresh in my mind, but also because I knew it would probably garner the best reaction (it didn’t disappoint). However, in reality the tattoo on my inner/ top foot was hands down the most painful experience of my life. In fact, it was pretty much the instantaneous pain experienced during the nipple piercing extended for 60 minutes.

One final note for the (maybe?) haters…

Asking me to choose a favourite Josh Ritter song is like asking a parent to pick their favourite child. (Easy: my first-born.) However, despite my proclivity toward ‘Temptation’, ‘Galahad’ would be a close second. And, hands down it was the best possible song to have been playing on my iPod as I made my way through the torrential downpour to Adrenaline for this procedure. While I admire Galahad for sticking to his guns, I disagree with his underlying motive and I think it’s unfortunate that he misses out on many of life’s pleasures and temptations simply because he is trying to impress others. In this case, he thinks that purity will ensure his inclusion in Heaven. I think there is actually a little rebellion in everyone, however we all have different tastes, so it’s total cool if body piercings aren’t your thing or you don’t like the look. (Although eternally supportive and trusting of my decisions, my Mom probably fits into this demographic quite nicely.) However, I don’t think the presence or absence of a piercing or a tattoo can tell you anything about a person’s true character other than the fact that they might have a bit of a wild side that they don’t mind succumbing to once in a while. And yet I know I will come under a bit of flack (voiced or internally kept) from some people for my newest body modification. That’s fine, but let me just say that if a little tube of 16-gauge surgical steel will go so far as to make you actually lose respect for someone, then I think you’re the crazy one. Judge if that’ll make you happy, but I’m indifferent to others’ opinions. Mostly because I have always believed that a person’s life is meant to be lived how they like so long as they aren’t harming anyone else. After spending parts of my youth trying to do things that I thought were ‘cool’ because I assumed they would help me fit in, I realized that acting this way never made me feel very good about myself. And, at the end of the day, who really wants to fake life. I mean, you kind of only get one crack at it. Which is why, for better or worse, I now firmly adhere to the mindset that if you really want to do something, just go out and do it.

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