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Sunday, March 12, 2006

I hadn't known that John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce was in Victoria.

Canadian bilingualism

Picnicking in Beacon Hill Park

Just got back from a very nice week-end in Victoria, BC, with the fam. Town of 74,000 (according to our B.C. guidebook), smaller than Kalamazoo, my hometown, roughly 80,000.

Something I learned when I went to be with my parents when my dad had surgery a few weeks ago: Best Buy is the only record store in Kalamazoo now. When I was growing up there were two independent hipster rock-punk-jazz stores and a classical-only store. One of the hipster joints was near campus and doubled as a head shop, which held no interest for me (though I did shop for records there). The other became a hang-out. One of the regulars who worked there played sax in a free jazz outfit; he and the owner steered me toward which Mingus and Dolphy records to check out. One of my fondest memories of high school was going to see my record-store friend play free jazz in my black polyester prom suit, with my date, in her white dress, after we ditched the prom. My date hated the music and fell asleep. We were total out-of-place squeaky cleancut kids in the 1981 Kalamazoo beret-and-goattee free jazz nightlife. The music bleated and blatted delicately and roughly and beautifully, and I was so pleased to cut such an absurd figure, I felt like a prince, I was so happy. (My date was a longtime friend who forgave me dragging her to that restaurant.)

My favorite used store in Seattle recently closed. It wasn't the best used store, but the people who worked there were the nicest, and I'd jammed with one of the employees, a hot free jazz drummer and Berklee School composition grad. Whenever I needed to go talk modernist music with someone I'd drop by. We started becoming friendly one day in the store when a friend (and bandmate, it turned out) of his started singing along with Ornette's solo on "Lonely Woman," note for note, and I paid a compliment. My drummer friend later talked me out of selling a Kronos Quartet CD when he noticed that it was autographed -- I had assumed that the autographs were part of the packaging. "Man, you can't sell this." A couple months ago I went to say hello and the store was out of business.

Seattle will hold out for a while, but in the not-too-distant future there won't be any record stores left. I love browsing. Oh well.

Victoria has a tremendous collection of totem poles and a great downtown bookstore, Munro's. I bought a couple books that I hadn't seen in the States. We walked a lot.


Vocabulary conflict

Lunchtime conversation today in Victoria's lovely Beacon Hill Park:

"Let's have our picnic here."

The 3-year-old: "But you said we would have a picnic in a very nice park!"

"Look at all the trees, the grass, the pond, the ducks, the rocks -- this IS a very nice park!"

"But it doesn't have a play structure!"

The park did indeed have a play structure, which we enjoyed immediately following the picnic.

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