Tag Archives: Tragically Hip

Real-life Superheroes: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir

Canada’s sweethearts

When I lived in South Korea between 1997 and 2007, Koreans would often ask me, “What’s the difference between Canadians and Americans?”

It’s a fair question. Many people around the world have asked me that same question. I won’t pretend I have the one answer that will make people go Ohhhhhhhh…so that’s it!

Instead, I will offer something from today’s Toronto Star that pretty much encapsulates one of the fundamental differences between our two great countries, the melting pot and the mosaic.

In an article titled “Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to pay tribute to Gord Downie in Olympic gala skate,” we have now learned that Canadian Olympic superstars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who just captured gold for their second time in figure skating, will skate to The Tragically Hip’s “Long Time Running” on Sunday for the Pyeongchang figure skating gala.

Which brings us back to the original question: What separates our two remarkable countries?

We in Canada are a country of people who love to say “Soooory.” We apologize to others when they are in the wrong. We hold the door open for strangers without expectation of being thanked.

Canadians have been accused of being somewhat bucolic and provincial at times compared to their American brethren, and while that’s true (now and again), Sunday’s skate by Virtue and Moir will capture the very best of why I am proud to be Canadian.

They are unrivaled Olympians in their discipline, loved by an entire country, and will honour a near and dear Canadian who passed in 2017 who, it just happens, was a good friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I can guarantee you that more Canadians will watch that skate live than have watched our men’s or women’s Olympic hockey teams.

Why? Because we love to be united in Canada by the sentimental. We revel in it. We’re flawed and imperfect as a country because, by definition, we are composed of human beings. But we try really, really, really hard to rise up past the shit that so often sinks other countries.

This comes in stark contrast to (yet another) horrible mass shooting at a school in the United States, where the Second Amendment will continue to plague and divide an incredible country, one in which its president needs a bullet list of questions to come across as empathetic when meeting with survivors of the latest massacre in Florida.

In Canada, we celebrate diversity and honour that which unites – not divides – us, even if it’s something as silly as a poet, a hockey game, or a prime minster weeping in the House of Commons because our country lost a beautiful person that brought out the best in all of us.

If that stands as provincial and bucolic, then I guess that’s what we are as Canucks. And I’m proud to be one.

On a side note, and for all those who love the Hip, I think Virtue and Moir could have chosen two other songs to skate to, “Wheat Kings” or “Nautical Disaster.” But they didn’t. They chose “Long Time Running.”

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that these two rock stars, our national sweethearts, are bringing us closer together as a country in a time when nations, kind of like the one just south of us, are being ripped apart by violence, hate and propaganda.

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, my love for you is boundless, my gratitude eternal. You are real-life superheroes.



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A Love Letter to a Soulmate

Image result for chris cornell and vicky cornell

“I’m sorry, my sweet love, that I did not see what happened to you that night, I’m sorry you were alone, and I know that was NOT you, my sweet Christopher. Your children know that too, so you can Rest In Peace. I’m broken, but I will stand up for you and I will take care of our beautiful babies. I will think of you every minute of every day and I will fight for you. You were right when you said we are soul mates. It has been said that paths that have crossed will cross again, and I know that you will come find me, and I will be here waiting.”

Vicky Cornell, upon learning of her husband Chris Cornell’s death (2017)

Singer and once-in-a-generation cultural icon Chris Cornell was laid to rest at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles yesterday. The weather was overcast, ominous, a black hole sun undoubtedly buried deep behind moiling clouds, at what was possibly the largest gathering of Rock Royalty in nearly a quarter century, since Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. Cornell’s flat marker in the cemetery read “VOICE OF OUR GENERATION AND AN ARTIST FOR ALL TIME.” He was 52 at the time of his death.

As attendees made their way to their seats at the public service, which followed a private one earlier the same day, Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” played on speakers throughout Fairbanks Lawn. Fellow Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello was one of several people to deliver a eulogy, saying, “Chris was as melodic as The Beatles, as heavy as Sabbath and as haunting as Edgar Allan Poe. The demons he wrestled with were real, but he harnessed those demons and rode them like a mother-flipping chariot of lightning strapped with Marshall stacks to make some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll of all time.”

Chris Cornell’s extraordinary range was hardly a secret, but nonetheless continued to impress – no, blow the f****** walls out from around him – every time he took to the stage and opened his mouth. He was one of those vocal freaks of nature that could  belt out a song like “Jesus Christ Pose,” have every fan ready to go and wage battle like they were straight out of Braveheart, then hoist himself up on a stool, grab his acoustic guitar and somehow find it in himself to release chthonic demons buried deep inside the abyss of a tired spirit through a heart-wrenching version of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

For those like me who never knew Chris Cornell personally, we are left to recount memories associated with a person who seemed larger than life much of the time with friends and fellow fans….

…like the time I went to see Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Neil Young perform at Exhibition Stadium a lifetime ago. The show was over, or so it seemed, when Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder and the Neiler himself sauntered back to the stage, along with seven guitarists and two drummers from their respective bands. Although the following link isn’t from the same concert, it will give you a sense of the power that  overtook 50,000 screaming nutjobs when those three rock legends began singing “Rockin’ in the Free World…”

…like the first time I heard Cornell and Vedder team up to sing “Hunger Strike” and was thunderpunched to the gut, a feeling only relived three years later when The Tragically Hip released Day for Night, and “Nautical Disaster” ruined me; beds were launched out of second-floor windows and refrigerators tossed horizontally like rectangular missiles through front doors, such was the visceral reaction only select songs like that could evoke…

…like two days ago, flipping through the channels on TV, and stumbling across Singles (1992), a movie I watched approximately 2.3 million times when I was in university. Cameron Crowe’s now-classic film about life in Seattle in the early 1990s was just beginning and all I thought was, Don’t give me Bridget Fonda with her faux “grungewear,” or Matt Dillon with his lame facial hair; give me Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil, Mike Starr, Ben Shepherd, Sean Kinney, Jerry Cantrell, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and, of course, Chris Cornell.

Those who know me, know that I have a voice for the ages. Verily, I never pursued a career in music in a selfless act to allow others far inferior to shine (Matt R.). It was much the same with chess (Joel H.), waterskiing (Dave S.) and playing hockey (Randy M.)

You’re welcome.

Thus, therefore and consequently, I will dedicate this last song to Mr. Cornell from a few some guys who know a thing or two about the man himself and about writing music that effortlessly soars to the heavens, and we, the humble recipients of the ethereal, more inspired human beings as we reel in its wake – Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”

Nothing you would take,

Everything you gave.

Hold me till I die,

Meet you on the other side.

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