Sonny’s House

HE WAS AN IRONWORKER IN DETROIT.

HE CAME HOME EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT AND WOKE UP SATURDAY MORNING TO DELIVER OIL TO THE HOUSES IN TOWN FOR HIS BROTHER, MY GRANDFATHER  JOHN LAZARE. WORKED LIKE A DOG LIVED LIKE A LOVER…

NOW, EVERY SUNDAY MY COUSIN SHELLY COOKS UP STEAK AND MOHAWK CORNBREAD. 

THE CORNBREAD THEY MAKE IN KAHNAWAKE ISN’T  THE SAME AS THE WELL KNOWN SOUTHERN CORNBREAD YOU FIND ON YOUR PLATE ACROSS THE UNITED STATES IN RESTAURANTS, BBQ’S, HOME KITCHENS OR IN THOSE ROAD SIDE CRACKER BARREL’S…

KAHNAWAKE CORN BREAD COMES IN A LARGER SERVING AND IT’S COMES AT YOU SOFT AND HOT AND MOIST WITH KIDNEY BEANS BURIED INSIDE AND  SAUSAGES, STEAK, AND GRAVY ALL AROUND IT. 

IT REMINDS ME OF A BIG MUZA BALL.

CORN, BEANS, AND SQUASH ARE THE THREE SISTERS, THE LIFE GIVERS.

STEAK AND CORNBREAD IS THE  SUNDAY TRADITION THAT’S ROLLED OVER THE PLATES OF THE IRONWORKING COMMUNITY FOR MANY DECADES. 

THE MEAL BEFORE THE LONG DRIVE.

THE MEN TRAVELED HOME FROM NEW YORK EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT AND WOULD LEAVE AGAIN EVERY SUNDAY TO DRIVE BACK TO THE JOBS. 

IT’S  THE FAMILY RITUAL, THE GATHERING AND THE SEND OFF FOR FATHERS AND BROTHERS BY THEIR FAMILIES. 

IT WAS A WAY OF LIFE THEN AND IT’S  A WAY OF LIFE NOW…

THE  ROAD BACK TO NEW YORK PLACED HEAVY LOAD ON THE SHOULDERS OF THESE MIGHTY MEN. SOME NEVER GOT USED TO LEAVING THEIR HOMES AND THEIR FAMILIES. SOME COUPLES, MARRIED FOR 42 YEARS ONLY LIVED WITH EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE  FOR 10 BECAUSE HE WAS ALWAYS GONE…

MY BROTHER, KYLE TALKS ABOUT DRIVING BACK, ABOUT HOW QUIET IS GETS IN THE CAR. 

IT’S LIKE A WEEKLY HIGH-SPEED FUNERAL PROCESSION. 

THE MEN ARE LIKE THE LAST REVELLERS TO LEAVE THE PARTY…

ALL THE WAY OUT OF TOWN, THEIR HEADS DOWN ON THEIR CHESTS  EXCEPT THE DRIVER …

THEY SAY SUNDAY AFTERNOONS ARE LONESOME EVEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE… ARGUMENTS  BREAK OUT BETWEEN HUSBANDS AND WIVES. THE SAME ARGUMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON FOR GENERATIONS. THE SAME FIGHTS THAT WENT ON BETWEEN MY FATHER AND HIS WIFE. 

I WASN’T THERE BUT MY FATHER, MY GRANDFATHER AND SIX GENERATIONS OF FAMILY LIVED WITH THE IRONWORKERS WAY OF LIFE AND THEY ALL HAD THE SAME PROBLEMS. 

NOBODY WANTS TO LEAVE THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR HOMES, THEIR FRONT PORCHES AND BACKYARDS, THEIR KIDS. 

THE MEN WERE LEAVING SUNDAY NIGHT AND THEY WOULDN’T  BE BACK UNTIL FRIDAY NIGHT. 

THEY’RE  FED THEIR DINNER AT 6:00 AND INTO BED AT 7:00.

THEY’RE UP AT MIDNIGHT WHILE THEIR FAMILIES SLEEP AND THEY STUMBLE   INTO CARS WITH 4 OTHER GUYS. 

SLEEPING CARS, SILENT, THE AIR INSIDE THICK WITH MOUTHS GAPING OPEN  FOR THE FIVE HOUR DRIVE, THEN THEY’D WAKE UP IN BROOKLYN IN TIME FOR WORK.

THESE MEN WERE AND ARE THE LIVING LEGENDS. THE SKYWALKERS FOR CLOSING IN ON 130 YEARS.

MEN LEAVE DURING WARS, DURING HUNTING SEASON, TRAPPING WHATEVER. MEN LEAVE. THEY LEAVE TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THEY LEAVE FOR MONEY AND FAME.

THESE GUYS WERE GIANTS AMONGST US WITH SUPER POWERS. 

THEY WERE THE GUYS WHO THE WORLD THOUGHT WERE WILD DAREDEVILS, WHO ROLLED WITH THE CLOUDS AND SWUNG FROM THE STARS

PEOPLE  THOUGHT THEY DID WHAT THEY DID IN FEARLESS FASHION BUT THEY WERE ALL AFRAID OF FALLING LIKE THE NEXT GUY, THEY JUST DON’T TALK ABOUT IT LIKE THE REST DID.

AS YOU DRIVE IN UNDER THE TUNNEL IF YOU EVER DRIVE UNDER THE BRIDGE ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE KAHNAWAKE THERE’S A STEEL CROSS THAT’S  ERECTED IN MEMORY OF THE MEN WHO FELL TO THEIR DEATHS OFF THE QUEBEC BRIDGE…

IN 1907, 33 MEN DIED WORKING ON THE  BRIDGE BESIDE KAHNAWAKE. 

THE WOMEN GOT TOGETHER AND TOLD THE MEN THAT THEY DIDN’T WANT A LARGE GROUP WORKING ON ONE JOB EVER AGAIN BUT TIME PASSED, AND WORK CAME IN AS AMERICA WAS BEING BUILT INTO THE SKY AND THE MEN DID WHAT THEY WANTED AND FELT THEY HAD TO DO ANYWAY. 

THE TRADITION BECAME A WAY OF LIFE AND THE WAY OF LIFE GAVE BIRTH TO TRADITION.

ON 911 WHEN THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE CAME DOWN IT WAS MY BROTHER WHO CLEANED UP WHAT WAS LEFT OF THE TOWERS THAT MY  UNCLE WALTER AND 500 OTHER MOHAWKS BUILT AND EASED INTO THE SKY OVER MANHATTAN.

WALTER WATCHED THE GREAT  ANTENNA COME DOWN ON TV THAT DAY. THE ANTENNA HE STUCK UP THERE.

WHEN HE SAW IT FALL  ON THE NORTH TOWER HIS HEART SANK. HIS SPIRIT WENT DOWN WITH IT AND HE WAS OVERCOME WITH SADNESS AND EMPTINESS 

HE WORKED 10 YEARS ON THAT PROJECT STARTING IN 1969. THERE WAS GREAT PRIDE BURNING AND CRUMBLING THERE IN MANHATTAN.

MY BROTHER KYLE WALKED INTO GROUND ZERO THROUGH MOUNTAINS THE TWISTED IRON AND STEEL. THE WORLD DOWN THERE WAS ON FIRE, SO UNPREDICTABLE. SO DANGEROUS AND HE AND 200 MOHAWKS  HAD TO MOVE THESE MOUNTAINS SO THE FIREMEN COULD GET UNDERNEATH AND DO THEIR JOB.

HE WAS PULLING THE WRECKAGE AWAY WHEN HE CAME UPON A GIANT PIECE THAT HE THOUGHT WAS A ROCKET.

 IT WAS UNCLE WALTERS ANTENNA …

WHEN KYLE FINALLY GOT A BREAK AND A CHANCE TO GO BACK HOME HE WASHED, CLEANSED HIMSELF WITH TOBACCO WATER BECAUSE HE HAD PARTS OF ALL THOSE PEOPLE  WHO DIED THERE INSIDE OF HIS SYSTEM. 

HE SAID THAT IT’S PART OF THE  RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PEOPLE WHO DIED THERE…

THOSE LOST SOULS ARE  CARRIED ON BY THE MOHAWK IRONWORKERS…

EVEN THE NON IRONWORKING HOUSEHOLDS WAKE UP ON SUNDAYS’ FOR STEAK AND CORNBREAD BECAUSE SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY THERE WAS A MAN HEADING BACK TO MANHATTAN TO CLIMB INTO THE CLOUDS TO BREATH THE AIR NO ONE HAS BREATHED BEFORE AND THE FEED WAS STILL ON EVEN AFTER THE JOB’S  WERE OVER.

 

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Rave On Gord Downie

Gord was just a kid. Hell we were all just kids in 1984. 
I first meet him when I answered a knock my hotel room door at the Prince George Hotel in Kingston and there he was with a couple of his high school buddies... #ingordwetrust   
>>>tom
 

1984 
I WAS THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON WHILE DRINKING BEER, PLAYING CARDS THAT I HAD A KNOCK AT MY HOTEL ROOM DOOR AND STANDING OUT IN THE HALLWAY WERE THESE REALLY FRESH KIDS, SHUFFLING FROM ONE FOOT TO ANOTHER… 
THEY TOLD ME THEY WERE FANS AND THAT THEY HAD SEEN US AT DOLLAR BILLS AND HAD BOUGHT OUR RECORD AND THAT THEY WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND THEY HAD A BAND TOO. 
I SAID, “OH YEAH… WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR BAND”, AND ONE OF THEM SAID “THE TRAGICALLY HIP” 
WOW… THAT’S A GREAT FUCKIN’ NAME MAN. YOU OUTTA HOLD ON TO THAT ONE FOR SURE. 
I THINK I MAY HAVE KEPT THEM OUT IN THE HALLWAY BECAUSE THERE WAS A CARD GAME GOING ON IN OUR ROOM AND THERE WAS MONEY ON THE TABLE AND SOME LOCAL COLOURS HANGING AROUND AND PRIVACY WAS OF THE UPMOST IMPORTANCE. 
SO WE TALKED THROUGH THE DOORWAY ABOUT MUSIC. THEY TOLD ME THEY PLAYED EARLY ROLLING STONES AND DID A FEW MONKEY COVERS SO I ASKED THEM IF THEY WANTED TO COME DOWN TO THE BAR THAT NIGHT AND DO A SET BEFORE US. LIKE A HALF HOUR OR 45 MINUTES AND DO YOU GUYS HAVE ENOUGH SONGS TO FILL A SET LIKE THAT??? 
THEY SAID YEAH SURE AND I CLOSED THE DOOR AND I WENT BACK TO THE CARD GAME. 
THAT NIGHT THEY ALL SHOWED UP, SOME OF THEM YOUNGER THAN THE ONES THAT SHOWED CAME TO MY HOTEL ROOM EARLIER THAT DAY. WE BROUGHT THEM DOWNSTAIRS AND INTO THIS DAMP BASEMENT WE WERE USING AS A DRESSING ROOM AND WE MAY HAVE GIVEN THEM SOME BEER OR SMOKED A JOINT BUT WE KEPT THEM OUT OF SIGHT BECAUSE THEY WERE WAY UNDERAGE AND ALL LOOKED LIKE BOY SCOUTS AND ONE OF THEM LIKE A GIRL GUIDE AND WE LET THEM USE OUR AMPS AND DRUMS AND BASICALLY KEPT AN EYE OUT FOR THEM. 
9:00 PM COMES AND THEY GO UP ON STAGE AND PLUG IN AND START PLAYING ALL THESE REALLY OLD BRITISH INVASION R&B SONGS … SONGS THAT I HAD NEVER HEARD AROUND THE POST PUNK CANADIAN MUSIC SCENE AND THEY PLAYED THEM WITH SOME KIND OF AWKWARD PRECISION LIKE THEY HAD ACTUALLY REHEARSED. WE NEVER REHEARSED WE JUST MADE IT UP AS WE WENT ALONG. I WAS SURPRISED THAT THESE GUYS WERE ACTUALLY SITTING IN A GROOVE. 
I CAN’T REMEMBER ALL THE SONGS THEY PLAYED BUT THERE WAS A VERSION OF “BABY PLEASE DON’T GO” BY THEM AND THEY ALSO DID DO “OFF THE HOOK” BY THE STONES. I MEAN WHO THE FUCK DOES “OFF THE HOOK”??? NOBODY AROUND THE HAMMER AND NOBODY THAT I KNEW OF. 
AND IT WAS FRESH 
IT WASN’T OLD GEEZER STYLE ROCK N ROLL BECAUSE THESE WERE CHILDREN WITH GUITARS PLAYING ANCIENT R&B… 
THE SINGER WAS ANOTHER STORY. 
HE WASN’T LIKE THE GOB SOAKED, FOUL MOUTHED, STREET CORNER KNUCKLEHEADS I RAN INTO TRYING TO PROVE SOMETHING.  
HE WAS MORE EXOTIC… KINDA RARE. NOT YOUR AVERAGE COCK SWINGIN’ PUNK FRONT MAN AND HE REALLY LOVED SINGING THOSE SONGS AND I THOUGHT HE WAS BRAVE TO STAND UP THERE IN A ROOM FULL OF BOOZEY FACED PRINCESS STREET ROUNDERS AND ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE FULLY EXPOSED THE WAY HE DID. HE DIDN’T HIDE BEHIND EGO THE WAY SO MANY OF US DID. 
AS ALEX THE LARGE WOULD SAY, “IT WAS LIKE A GREAT BIRD HAD FLOWN INTO THE ROOM”… 
I THINK MAYBE HE WAS JUST INNOCENT. HE WAS INNOCENT THEN AND SOMEHOW TO MY EYES HE MANAGED TO STAY THAT WAY BECAUSE WHEN I THINK OF GORD DOWNIE IN 1984 ON THAT SHITTY LITTLE STAGE AT THE TOUCAN, IN KINGSTON AND I THINK OF HIM A FEW SUMMERS AGO ON STAGE AT THE INTERSTELLAR RODEO IN EDMONTON I KNOW I’M LOOKING AT THE SAME GUY. A LOT OF US TRY TO COVER UP WHAT WE ARE. GORD ACTS OUT WHAT HE IS FOR ALL OF US TO SEE. THE CELLS HAVE NOT CHANGED. HIS INNOCENCE HAS STAYED IN TACT DESPITE THE 33 YEARS BETWEEN THOSE TWO PERFORMANCES. 
AND THE BRAVERY RAVES ON…HE REMINDED ME A BIT OF MICK JAGGER ON THE TAMI SHOW BACK THEN. HE ENDED UP AS SOMETHING WE’D NEVER SEEN BEFORE… HE WAS ALL HIS OWN CREATION AND IT WAS A COMPELLING AND HONEST LIVE WIRE THAT BURNED A HOLE INTO OUR IMAGINATIONS AND A VOICED WHAT WAS THE SOUNDTRACK TO TWO GENERATIONS OF CANADIANS. ALL CANADIANS WHO PARTIED IN KITCHENS OR IN THE PARKING LOTS BEFORE HOCKEY GAMES. BLASTED FROM CAR WINDOWS AND DJ BOOTHS EVERYWHERE. 
WHO WON THE GREY CUP IN 1994???  
I DON’T HAVE CLUE, BUT IF I HAD TO GUESS I’D SAY IT WAS GORD DOWNIE AND THE TRAGICALLY HIP… 

  • Tom Wilson