I tried to get into the BamBoo to have one last Red Stripe before its closed its doors forever, but wasn’t able to get in. The combination of a Thursday Hallowe’en night — always a busy night in this rather clubby neighbourhood — and everyone’s desire to see the place just one more time made for a long line in which people at the back had been waiting for over an hour. I opted to catch up with my other friends from the Thirsty People of Toronto, who were planning to meet at the Velvet Underground.
Normally, there’s never a lineup outside the Velvet, but that night was an exception. Local goth heroes “Vegasphere” were holding a Hallowe’en concert there that night, and their setup took up a fair bit of space, which in turn lowered the maximum number of people legally allowed in the club at any time. Unlike the BamBoo, the line was moving slowly and it looked like I had a better than even chance of eventually getting inside. I took my place in the cue and busked a little. I made enough to buy a drink and pay for the cover.
While in line, a guy who telegraphed “punkass” started talking to me.
Punkass: Dude, can you hold my book bag and take it in with you?
Me: Why don’t you want to carry it in yourself? It doesn’t look heavy. What’s in it?
Punkass: No, it’s not like that. No drugs. [Opens bag and shows me the single box inside it, with “Terayon” printed on its side in large letters.] See? Just a cable modem.
Me: If that’s all that’s in there, why do you want me to carry it?
Punkass: [His voice rising into a whine] You fucking Koreans are so fucking harsh!
Me: Look here, you little fuck. One: I’m not Korean. Two: That was a racist slur. Three: My brother-in-law, who I love as if he were my own brother, is Korean. Four: You want me to do you a favour? You be nice to me.
Blonde woman behind punkass: Say ‘sorry’ to the Accordion Guy.
Punkass: [A little overwhelmed] Okay, okay! I’m sorry! Look, I need you to carry the bag in ’cause I’ll look like a student with it and they won’t let me in!
Me: What are you talking about? Lots of people go in with knapsacks that look just like that.
Punkass: [Still whining] I didn’t bring my ID, that’s why. You look old, you could get in with it.
Me: I already told you once before: don’t insult the man who you want to do you a favour. You must ride the short bus to school, Mr. Ambassador.
Punkass: [Getting huffy, but still trying to be late-teen macho about it.] Look man, you gonna be a dude and help?
Me: I’ll take the bag in, but I don’t think it’ll help.
About 15 minutes passed, after which the line moved more quickly and we reached the door.
Bouncer: Accordion Guy. Gotta look in the bag.
Me: No prob. [I hand him the bag.]
Bouncer: [Looking at the box in the bag.] What’s this?
Me: Cable modem. For my mom.
Bouncer: Cool. I got my mom on high speed internet too. C’mon in.
As I walk in, the bouncer turns to the punkass.
Bouncer: [to punkass] ID, please.
Punkass: [Nervously] Uh….sure.
The punkass started riffling through his wallet, pretending to search for his ID.
(A little memo to all you underage readers out there: “Searching” for your ID in the hopes that the door person will get impatient and let you in rarely works. Anyone who’s worked the door at a bar for longer than a week will easily see through this tactic.)
I walked in, knowing the punkass would never be allowed inside. I walked over to Rob, Velvet Underground’s scary-looking-but-teddy-bear-at-heart head bouncer and told him the story about the punkass and how I still had his bag.
Rob: How much does a cable modem go for?
Me: I got a DSL modem for about $130 on eBay. I figure it should be the same. You don’t actually buy the cable modem — they just rent it to you for something like 10 bucks a month, but I’m sure if you lose it, they’ll charge you the cost of one. I’d love to keep it and sell it on eBay, but being an asshole isn’t enough reason for me to steal from him.
Rob: I say we make him sweat.
At that point, the bouncer who was working the door walked in.
Bouncer: Some kid just tried to fake his way inside without ID. [Turns to me.] Says you have his ID.
Me: What a crock of shit. I have his bag. There’s no ID in it, but his cable modem’s here.
Bouncer: I got an idea. I’m going to say that I didn’t see you in here, and ask him to describe you so that I can find you.
The bouncer runs out, and less than a minute later, runs back in.
Bouncer: [Laughing his ass off] So I said “could you describe the guy you gave your bag to?” and he’s freaking out. “He has a fucking accordion! How many people in there got one?!” [More laughter]. I was going to say “could you describe his accordion?” , but I thought that would be too much.
Me: Here [handing the bag to the bouncer] — give it to the little peckerhead. He’s suffered enough.
Vegasphere put on a pretty good show, but when a healthy chunk of the music is on a DAT tape — the drums, samplers and synths were pre-recorded; only the vocals, guitar and bass were live — there’s almost no excuse for putting on a bad one. Their sound is that early 90’s industrial dance style, along the lines of Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails. Chemlab, Machines of Loving Grace or Dink. The sound system was experiencing a little trouble, occassionally cutting out. They closed with a pretty nice cover of Cyndi Lauper’s She-Bop.
When the band finished their set, the DJ started with the regular Thursday night set of goth/industrial music, choosing to open with Ministry’s old classic, Every Day is Hallowe’en. A few bars into Al Jourgenson’s fake British accent, the amps blew their fuses. I let about half a minute pass, saw one or two people actually pantomiming accordion playing while looking right at me, took the accordion of my back and played Head Like a Hole, with a lot of people in the crowd joining in the singing. By the time I was done, the DJs had managed to replace the fuses, and we were back to dancing.
“Much love to Mr. Accordion Man!” announced the DJ over the P.A., after which several club-goers bought me drinks.
“This,” I said to my friend Paul Marhue, who was dancing beside me as I drank a Rev, “is why I take the accordion everywhere.”
After last call, I went over to Amato’s Pizza to busk for some more money to cover the expenses of my upcoming birthday bash. While I was playing, a black guy who looked just like the Samuel L. Jackson version of Shaft said “Hey, Joey!”. The voice was familiar, but the face wasn’t.
“It’s me, Will!”
“Holy shit!” I said. I looked more closely, and it was Will, under a rubber bald-headed cap and a lot of makeup.
Here’s what Will normally looks like:
And here he is in his Shaft costume:
That costume must’ve taken a lot of work.