66 Years in the Making!
3 Plays for a Quarter!
Yes, it’s true!
Download the Jukebox for free:
play-the-jukebox PDF version
play-the-jukebox-reid-Dickie ZIP file epub for tablets and ereaders
With gratitude and love I dedicate this book to my parents, Helen and Bruce Dickie, whose gifts I used every day of my life, and to Linda, who lit my way.
Available now at McNally Robinson
Moments away from puberty, young Jim Crawford begins to discover how his newly effervescent maleness gives fresh meaning and expression to manhood in his family, friendships, community and beyond. Set in a small Canadian prairie town just as the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s begin, Play the Jukebox is a character-driven story entwining bright wholesome and dark pathological expressions of masculinity. As his own unique gifts reveal themselves, Jim learns the heights and depths to which men will go to defend family and future and how shared experience creates diverse forms of camaraderie between men and women.
Jim’s life revolves around pop music and records. The 45 – the little record with the big hole – is king; radio disc jockeys, record players and jukeboxes spin the seven-inch discs constantly. He discovers intimate links between hit songs and his own development as he travels from town to town changing the records in jukeboxes with Percy Peel, a mystery media mogul who leaves lasting impressions on Jim. As they did for millions of 1960s youth, The Beatles play a defining role as one of Jim’s change agents.
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“I’d rather have two good friends than 500,000 admirers.” e.e. cummings
“We love those who can lead us to a place we will never reach without them.” Norman Mailer
“Hold a true friend with both your hands.” Nigerian proverb
The odd time that a pre-read copy of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “national” newspaper, shows up in the coffee shop, I make a point of perusing it. I always find something interesting on the Facts and Arguments page. It happened again this week.
A clip item referred to a website called http://www.thoughtcatalog.com and gave as an example of its content – The Five Types of Friends Everyone Should Have by Ryan O’Connell. Ryan is the self-described “brat” who writes and edits Thought Catalog. He encourages writers and thinkers to submit “fun stuff.”
I like anything that gives me a new perspective on myself and/or my life, teaches me something new and/or shines a light into a dark place and/or gives me numerous opportunities to use and/or, which I will stop using immediately. Anyway, the ‘five friends’ idea captured my attention. As I read through Ryan’s list I reckoned if I have each kind of friend in my life. I’ll tell you what I found after you read the list. See if you have such friends.
Abridged and in no particular order:
How did you do with the list? Got a friend for every occasion?
Luckily I can claim to have a person in my life who fulfills each of those roles. I won’t name them but they are all solid to the list and special to me in their own ways. If I were in dire straits and needed any of these friends, they would be there for me in a flash. Every day I am grateful for this boon. Ryan’s piece is here.
I’d like to add three other kinds of friends to Ryan’s list that we would all benefit from having:
Again I am fortunate to have such people in my life.
I want to elaborate a little on that last friend type. Also attending the Radio and Television Arts course I took at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto in the late 1960s was a guy named Ted Barris. He was bright, curious, a people person and a lot like me. We hit it off right away. I was familiar with his family name from Canadian TV. His dad was Alex Barris – think the panel on Front Page Challenge.
The last time I saw Ted, he was passing through Winnipeg in the early 1980s on his first book tour. He stayed with Linda and I and we had a fine time. A few decades passed, life happened and the week or two ago I suddenly thought of Ted, wondering how he was doing. Quick Google search and there was his website and contact. Quick email and we were in touch again.
I called Ted last night and we gabbed for half an hour. He told me about his family. His daughter Whitney will be appearing in MTC’s Assassins in January. He teaches at Centennial College in Toronto and writes every day, currently working on his 17th book! Our conversation was easy and casual even after so many years having passed since we spoke. Ted is also the kind of friend you can blog about and he doesn’t mind.
I am rich with friendship in its many forms. The richness has shown me that the underlying pulse common to every important friendship is love, a basic human response to another being, a caring understanding that persists no matter what happens.
In the recent movie The Master (go see it!) there is a scene where they show the album cover to the soundtrack for a 1973 Lindsay Anderson film called O Lucky Man starring Malcolm McDowell. Alan Price, original keyboardist with The Animals, wrote and performed terrific songs for the movie. The title track lyric leads with, “If you have a friend on whom you think you can rely you are a lucky man.” By this definition I humbly acknowledge my luck once again. Hear and see Alan Price sing the song in the opening scene of the movie.
For another take on friendship watch poet Henry Gibson recite his verse on Laugh-In.
“Yes. I have a truck. No. I’m not helping you move.” – T-shirt at On the Run in west Winnipeg defining the edges of friendship.
Coda: there is also the kind of friend who names their child after you but that’s a whole other post!!
The two Debbies are sisters-in-law. They each married one of the Wilcox brothers. During their teens and early twenties, the Wilcox boys, Randy and Earl, were strong-willed and wild, in love with fast cars, hard liquor and tonight’s girl. That all changed when, in the same month but unbeknownst to each other, both brothers met, fell in love with and proposed marriage to a Debbie.
It was a double wedding. The four honeymooned together, or as Randy called it, “hornymooned.” Both Debbies recognized in these rough men the potential to be faithful husbands, special fathers and solid providers. They just needed a little tweaking. The Debbies are nothing if not great tweakers.
That’s how the two Debbies came to be sisters-in-law.
Both Debbies are nurses, one in the emergency room, and the other on the pediatrics ward of the same big-city hospital. They’ve seen everything. They are compassionate caring women, devoted to their patients and to their jobs. Why else, but for sheer love of the craft, would people work twelve hour shifts doing stressful work? They both became consciously aware, on the day they graduated from different nursing schools twelve years earlier, that this was a perfect fit; they were born to do this work. It is their dream job. And they just did it, while raising two children each, tweaking husbands and having fun.
That was the large lesson both Debbies learned from their mothers – have fun! It proved to be good advice under many circumstances, especially when dealing with unruly husbands or patients. Knock them off balance with a little fun. Why not? Life is short, as both Debbies see everyday.
That’s how the two Debbies came to be best friends.
Fun relieves stress. Having a best friend does, too. They arranged their schedules so, once a week, they have the same day off. Today they are both grocery shopping at Careway, the big supermarket chain, each with an empty cart and a long grocery list, neither looking forward to the chore.
They survey the large well-stocked colourful produce section and give the handsome produce man – his nametag says Luther – a good long ogle. Just loud enough so Luther can hear them, the two Debbies agree they’d like to see him wearing just the apron. They both smile at Luther before he goes on his break. Too bad. He was getting cuter by the minute. They decide to leave some hints for Luther when he returns from his break.
Debbie takes a long English cucumber, pairs it with two nice round melons and some parsley, and sets the phallic tableau on a bed of yellow beans. Debbie gets two eggplants and sets them on either side of a long yellow squash with bean sprouts tucked around each side. Debbie sets several little yellow and red hot peppers between red cherry tomatoes, tucking a set in among the arugula, another atop the oranges and another in among the grapes. Debbie takes two bananas and places them in a vaginal shape surrounded by broccoli. In a few minutes they left a dozen little suggestive tableaux, some obvious, others surprises to come across while browsing.
By the time Luther returns from his break the two Debbies are just walking away from produce, their carts carry their choices. It takes Luther several minutes to figure out what happened.
The manager of the Careway is indignant with the two Debbies as he confronts them on the floor of the store. They admit to having some fun while shopping but don’t own up to the dastardly produce porn. They let the manager fume and fuss over this, which he does! Profusely. They knock him off balance when their good natures suddenly turn sour as they accuse him of unprofessionalism and, without proof, placing blame where it doesn’t belong. The two Debbies get a couple of swift verbal kicks at the manager before they knock him off balance again by returning to sweetness and frivolity. This draw a bit of a crowd as the increasingly red-faced manager realizes he’s lost control of the situation.
“We’re the Shenanigan Sisters, I’m Sheena, she’s Treena, and our quite large husbands, Buck and Tuck, are around here somewhere,” informs Debbie.
Exasperated by these women who seem to be one step ahead of him all the time and, worst of all, don’t respect his position in the store, he has no option. He informs both Debbies they are no longer welcome in his Careway and invite them to leave immediately. Their response is laughter, so sudden and sincere that the store manager’s face turns impossibly redder with embarrassment. Other customers join in the glee.
The two Debbies abandon their half-full shopping carts, take down the name of the store manager, “so we can send you a Christmas card,” Debbie says, and, along with several other customers who sympathize with their situation, leave the Careway holding their sides from laughter, never to return.
By then Luther has discovered most of their creations.
Later that afternoon a pair of blue-haired ladies will get a chuckle out of their discovery tucked away in a manger of romaine.
That’s how the two Debbies came to be outlaws.