Tag Archive for Cycling

What’s Your Calling?

Addiction

My friend, Todd, made a commitment to quit smoking this month. To support him, several of his friends ante-d up with some form of commitment of their own. I don’t smoke, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have some addictive behaviour—everybody does. For me, it’s a nasty little computer game called Civilization, in which an hour of relaxing time can (and does) easily spin out of control into seven-hour marathons that leave me sleepy, unproductive, and somewhat guilty about not achieving the goals I’ve set for myself.

The only way I can think it’s possible to thwart addiction is to overcome it with something more attractive. That would be, something non addictive, that’s more attractive. Without the usual outlet to steal myself away, I’ve discovered something much more attractive than a computer game—people.

Since I’ve declared war on my addiction, not only am I going to more events (last week three concerts, the Tweed Ride, a francophone barbeque, a birthday banquet, and a new course I just signed up for at BCIT), but I’m also using these events to branch out more connections. That is, I’m meeting more and more interesting people.

Todd is back to smoking sadly, but I ensured my commitment was not contingent in any way on him keeping his (that wouldn’t do our friendship any good). I’m beginning to see what even a smallish addiction is costing me in terms of, well, life. Who knows, it might be my term to inspire him the way he initially inspired me.

 

Your calling is where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.

—Frederick Buechner

Pedal power and the builders of musical instruments in Vancouver

With Bike to Work WeekVelopoloosa, and the In the House Festival all converging this weekend, the stage is set to highlight another fascinating musical instrument maker, Daniel Lunn.

Daniel is making a name for himself as a drummer (and guitarist) around town, but for someone who plays an instrument that is legendary for its lack of portability, it’s his mode of transportation that caught my attention—by bicycle.

None of his instruments is actually played by bicycle; they are just transported that way

Not only does he transport all his gear by bicycle—drum kit, amps, guitars, the lot—but he custom designed a set of drums specifically to be light weight and bicycle friendly. He’s converted old suitcases into drums with drum heads inserted in the sides, and with weather-proof covers, the suitcases can also house the amp and, of course, hold other gear. Oh, and provide him with somewhere to sit when he gets to the gig.

All obvious puns about pedal power and bass pedals aside, Dan came into tinkering naturally. Growing up in the Ottawa Valley, he apprenticed in his uncle’s appliance repair shop where he learned to redeem and extend the life of old refrigerators, dryers, and sewing machines. Added to that was a kinaesthetic need to hit things—a bona fide form of intelligence that, when coupled with a musical inclination, is the foundation of all drummers.

“Anything’s a potential instrument”

In Dan’s Eastside backyard, he shows me his Furnaphone, another instrument made from furnace parts that, when hooked up with a piezoelectric pickup to translate and transform its sounds to a processor, mixing board and amplifier, produces sounds weird and wonderful enough to qualify it as a musical instrument. “No need to call the furnace man Mabel. It’s just Dan practicing again”, I imagine.

Dan tells me that he continues to work as handyman, running his own woodworking and renovation business. How does he get to jobs? By bicycle, of course, although he admits to occasionally renting a truck for larger jobs. He laughs about the time he went to the extreme of his range—Willingdon and Moscrop in Burnaby—with over 200 pounds of gear. It was so heavy that it started lifting his rear wheel off the road as he made his way up the hill to Metrotown.

But it’s not the furnaphone I’ve come to see; it’s the drum set, whereupon he loads up his bicycle and we go for a ride. It’s a sight to bring a tear to Gregor’s eyes. If a handyman slash drummer is able to manage two careers by pedal power, what’s to stop the cubicle monkeys from following suit?

Specializing in found object instruments

Somewhere in the junk fields of Saskatchewan, where old Massey-Ferguson tractors rust into dust, musical instruments are waiting to be born. It’s Dan’s membership with the popular band, Swarm, which specialized in building their own instruments out of “found objects” that Dan found his calling as a drummer and instrument maker. Dan is very careful to credit his co-collaborator, Wayne Mercier of “8 Prime”, a spoken word poet and action drummer (choreographed drumming).

Together, they performed for the Olympics, toured (yes, including Saskatchewan where they found lots of material), and along with other Swarm members and guests, are having something of a re-union at this week-end’s In the House Festival. In a performance called, Spring Evening Doom Lounge – A Celebration of Destruction and Renewal, they will perform at 1934 William St. (Backyard) – Sunday, June 5th from 7 to 8:45 pm.

The In the House Festival is organized by Miriam Steinberg. It focuses on using private homes and back yards as venues for live multicultural, multidisciplinary shows in people’s living rooms and backyards.

 

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Catch me if you can

Happy Birthday me!

Shock and Awe!

No one is more surprised than me that I will soon be observing my 51st birthday. So, on 14 August, 2010 with the grim reaper in hot pursuit, I shall be blading, cycling, gardening, swimming, singing, and dancing the day and night away. I invite you to catch me if you can! at any point on that day.

Here’s the Game

I cycle everywhere I can and you link up wherever you want, or if you’re really brave, hop on your cycle and join me for all or part of the journey. I may be ancient now, but I’m stronger, braver, and probably more foolish than ever—there’s one way to know for sure!

During the day, you can call or text me (604 682-5242) to confirm my whereabouts or, if you like things a little more predictable, join me for a Mexican feast at Doña Cata restaurant (please RSVP that one).

Here’s the Itinerary

TimeActivity

8:00 AM – Rollerblading at Stanley Park

9:00 AM – Sipping coffee at Starbucks, Denman and Davie

10:00 AM – Swimming at Spanish Banks

12:00 PM – Lunching at Van Dusen Gardens

3:00 PM – Chillin’ at Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival, Deer Lake Park, Burnaby

6:00 PM – Dining at Doña Cata Mexican Taqueria, 5076 Victoria Drive (please RSVP me by Thursday if you’re coming for sure so I can warn them)

9:00 PM – Streetfesting in Chinatown

10:30 PM – Dancing at Numbers Cabaret, Davie Street

Catch me if you can!


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