Tag Archives: Powell River

Powell River Is Where?

It takes about five hours to travel 120 kms from my home in Powell River to Vancouver. Each ferry takes a bit under an hour, add the waiting at the ferry terminals, plus the small curvy road all the way down, and it becomes a major trek.

But lots of folk don’t quite understand where Powell River is. Some think it’s on Vancouver Island but it’s not, and many don’t quite understand why it’s a bit isolated. So I took a coaster to explain.

Please note – I was a little off on my ‘end of road’ marker, so add another half inch or so. This is where the road, highway 101, ends (or begins) on the west coast. You can’t go any further north.

About this road: If you were to hop in your car at the little fishing village of Lund, about 30 minutes north of Powell River, and you kept going south, you’d end up in Chile.

And one last little piece of trivia. I used to work at the ferry at Saltery Bay. If all this isn’t enough, I’ve included a bonus picture of me on one of my better days.

The Boys Are Back In Town

Rocktown Magazine (Let your eyes feed your ears)

By Leonard Bingo

Sunset Boulevard was still reasonably quiet when I sat down with master keyboardist Homer Gibson and the notoriously difficult yet ultra-talented Denny (Killer) Kane. After all, it was still mid-morning, but the news hit my ears like a thousand cars inching along the Strip with horns blaring on a Saturday night.

Gibson, wearing his trademark vest, Bermuda shorts, and Powell River Kings t-shirt, is almost unrecognizable now after decades of hard rock star living, but Kane, in his dapper business suit and shirt that reads ‘Welcome to Orillia, home of Lightfoot and Kane’, looks young and healthy, possibly because of having his blood drained and replaced in Switzerland a decade ago.

“We’re putting the band back together again,” blurted Gibson as I sipped green tea while the pair chugged beer and ate homemade brownies they said came from one of the many female fans who regularly sent the legendary Carnaby Knights  gifts from MILK (mothers interested in licking Knights). MILK members have dedicated their lives to the band since the rockers burst onto the scene in 1964 with their massive hit ‘You Don’t Know Me But I know You (Cause I look Through Your Bathroom Window), and never gave up hope of sleeping with at least one of them, preferably Kane.


Early Carnaby Knights, before they shook the world. “We had no idea” said Homer. “The girls, the money, the fame. We weren’t ready yet.”

The two of them waited while I digested the news. The Carnaby Knights hadn’t been together in many, many years, and it seemed unreal that the band  would consider such a thing now. All four continued to live lavish lifestyles, compliments of record sales and previous world tours, and they had their successful solo careers. But now this. They’re getting back together. My tea grew cold as my head swirled.

“Why now?” I asked. “You’ve nothing left to prove. The Knights were the best, but can you do it again?”

Kane ordered another four pints for him and Homer, and looked me square in the eyes. “You bet we can, because we rock. The Carnaby Knights folded up shop way too soon. We were neck and neck with Zeppelin, we had outsold the Beatles, and women voted us the hottest rockers on the planet, but we quit because, well, we didn’t see eye to eye on a bunch of things.”

The beer arrived, and I noticed Kane and Homer looking at each other. Getting the news out was big for them too. And they seemed like old friends once again, after all those public and insane quarrels we all knew about.

I finished my tea and ordered a double tequila. It was too early for beer, but I needed a something to fully take in what I was hearing.

The Carnaby Knights were my favourite band, there was no question. Gibson on keyboards, Izzy Brash on bass, Bobby Folsom on lead, and Dougie Jumpstarter on drums were groundbreakers. They had changed the world through their music, and had become known as gurus to the guys in Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, even the Fab Four had asked for tips more than once.

And then there was Kane, whose vocals sent crowds wild and women into a frenzy. He was what Robert Plant aimed to be, with vocals that ranged from soft to ear shattering, melodic to punkish, sensual to violent. No one sang like Kane, and we always understood that this was a guy born to rock.

Together, the boys’ music was magical, the true inspiration for Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers, and of course the genius of Pink Floyd. Waters and Gilmour will certainly flip when they hear the news. Jann Wenner is gonna be pissed when he gets wind that I landed the scoop. But Rolling Stone was certainly no Rocktown, and the two legends wanted to tell the world through the biggest and best rock rag. So they had called me and I was there to meet them within the  hour.

“We were bored hanging out at our pads with all the dope and champagne and beer and entourages and swimming pool orgies” explained Kane. “So I rang Homer. I said, hey Homer, let’s put the band back together again, and after Homer slept on it and woke up in late afternoon a couple of days later, he called and said he was all in.”

I saw a problem though, and wasn’t sure if now was the time to bring it up. The world knew about the band’s fights over the years, the slandering of each other in the papers, the drunken episodes at the Roxy and Whisky, and the night at the Troubadour when they yelled out lewd remarks to Linda Ronstadt and were promptly thrown out into the street. Even worse, the club and Dan Tana’s restaurant next door pressed charges after Homer took a dump in front of the ticket window and drove his Harley through the high-end eatery.

“What about the other guys?” I finally asked, and the pair guzzled their beer and paused for a minute. Finally, Kane let it out after ordering four more.

“We don’t want them back,” he said angrily. “Brash was boring, he never drank or popped acid or anything that he should’ve been doing. Hell, he even stayed in his room and read books when we had our swimming pool orgies. Folsom could play, man could he play, but he was beginning to think he was bigger than the band. Don’t forget, he almost ruined us when he told the press the Knights were bigger than Sinatra. And Jumpstarter just wasn’t what we wanted in a drummer. We thought there were better guys out there, and it was a drag that he seemed to be liked by the groupies a bit too much. So after our last gig, the one when we headlined the Isle of Texada, I told Brian (Saperstein), to take care of it.”

“So now we’re looking for new members, but Clapton’s basically retired, Jack Bruce and Hendrix are dead, and Ginger Baker’s an asshole. But it’s okay, we’re starting to put the word out. Maybe we’ll be three-piece band now. Just me, Homer, and maybe Neil Peart. We’ll see. I might give (Jeff) Beck a call.”

I scribbled in my pad at a furious rate and ordered another double tequila. Eleven in the morning wasn’t too early now. “What’s gonna happen when you’re ready?” I asked.

Homer put his beer down and looked at me. “We’re gonna be huge again, that’s what’s gonna happen. We’ll start by cutting an album, maybe call it ‘The Carnaby Knights Are Back in Your Face’, and we’ll tour. Probably kick it off here in L.A., and then New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Powell River, Drumheller, Moose Jaw. Really man, I can’t wait.”

Then, while I was still slightly dazed, they simply rose and left, leaving me with my thoughts and the bill. How I’d always wanted the Carnaby Knights to play again, and now it seemed it could happen. The Knights’ music was timeless of course, always innovative, and yes, definitely unequaled.

I paid the bill, closed my notebook, and walked out onto Sunset. I could picture them again, rocking the nearby Hollywood Bowl and hopefully the Carlson Club in Powell River, where it all started, all those years ago. The news made my day, my week, my year, and I hustled to the office to file my story.

Where they were now I wasn’t sure, they had quickly disappeared down the street, but I know where I’ll be when the time comes. At their first show of course. And I’ll be in seventh heaven.

It had been a long and winding road, but the Carnaby Knights will record one more time at least, stand on stage, rock the world like they used to, and drive women insane once again. It’s unbelievable. And it’s beautiful.

Below, the Carnaby Knights at the peak of their career. But the infighting was just beginning.

 

Good Old Bookstore

I’ve had this book about the Rocket since it showed up in stores in 2000 or 2001.

And now I have two, because Sunday morning I walked into a secondhand bookstore in Powell River and bought another for five bucks.

On the inside page, it’s been autographed by the late, great Gump Worsley!

Whoever Gord is, I wonder why he didn’t want it anymore. Or maybe someday he’ll ask, “Hey honey, have you seen my Rocket book signed by Gump Worsley?

Here’s another Gump signature if you want to compare.

The Little Sports Bar

For a short while in the late 1990s, my friend and I owned a little sports bar in Powell River, and although it was a struggle, we were proud of it.

Proud of it when we weren’t losing our minds.

It began when I was living in Calgary and was visiting an old friend in Powell River after my marriage had gone up in smoke. At one point during a drinking session at his kitchen table, we found ourselves talking about how we could do a few things differently in our lives, and I mentioned that I had this great sports collection that would look mighty fine in a sports bar.

He looked at me and I looked at him, and light bulbs went on.

Shortly after our little kitchen table talk, we were eating in a restaurant nearby and I said to my friend that this cozy little place would be perfect for a sports bar. We looked around, nodded our heads, and that was it. I went back to Calgary to drive semis in ice and snow again.

Not long after, my buddy phoned me and told me the little place we’d been in was now up for sale, and before we could say “I didn’t mean it”, we had bought ourselves a little fifty-seat joint.

We didn’t know how to run a sports bar. He was a construction worker and I was a truck driver. But we did it anyway. And it was his idea to call it Kane’s, not mine.

Originally it was supposed to be called Kane’s Sports Bar, but with the archaic liquor laws in BC at the time, they had us change it to Kane’s Sports Bistro because we weren’t allowed to have the words bar or pub in it. We were only granted a B license which meant kids could come in, and grown-ups had to eat something while drinking. (these laws have since been changed).

I put my collection on the walls, we set up three big televisions, and away we went. Unfortunately, the old adage that one must be in business at least five years before making a profit seemed absolutely true in our case.

We could see success still a long way off, and we lasted less than two years and finally sold it. By that time I was beginning to pay my rent with a credit card.

But in that short time of being pub owners there were highlights. HOFers Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour, and Frank came back later that night for dinner with his niece, who lived in Powell River.

And Red, refereeing the game that night and wearing a microphone, told the crowd how great our place was.

On another night I closed the doors and drank beer and talked until early morning with Jeff and Steve Carlson of the Hanson brothers who were in town for a promotional thing at the rink. (The third member of the notorious trio, Dave Hanson, stopped by for just a few minutes).

Not only did the Carlson’s  fill me in on what life was like after Slap Shot, but they also told me what a great guy co-star Paul Newman was, along with plenty of stories from their mostly minor-league playing days.

The three us drank a lot of the day’s profits that night.

We had closed circuit boxing, hockey parties, soccer teams coming in early to watch big games from overseas, and the local junior team aired post-game radio shows out of our place.

And on Saturdays we put out peanuts and encouraged folks to throw the shells on the floor.

I was new in Powell River but because of the pub it didn’t take long before I was on first-name basis with much of the town.

There was also a silver lining from having this little place. The publisher of the local newspaper was a regular and asked me to write a regular column for his paper. And because my name was out there from the pub and the newspaper, I was eventually hired by BC Ferries because they knew I had a good relationship with the public.

It was a great experience, but all in all, unless you’ve got a ton of dough and don’t have to be there all the time like we were, I’d suggest sticking with a job where you actually get paid.

Running a pub is more work than you can imagine. I was exhausted, broke, and completely stressed. While people watched the big games on the TVs, I didn’t have time because I was running all over the place. The bills never stopped coming in. My partner and I had begun to quarrel. I wasn’t sleeping properly, and because I had unlimited access to the beer dispenser, I was drinking too much after hours.

All in all though, it was a tremendous experience. But I wouldn’t do it again.

Hi Normand, You Don’t Know Me But…

JIM WITHERS: FOR USE WITH STUBBS COLUMN IN EDITIONS OF MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010: Canadiens legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard tapes a stick in the Canadiens dressing room during the 1959-60 season, the final season for the Habs great, watched by sons Normand (centre) and Maurice Jr. A new bilingual, two-DVD set featuring the Rocket is being released now, shortly before the 10th anniversary of his death, and Maurice Jr. says he's amazed at the enduring popularity of his late father. CREDIT: DAVID BIER STUDIOS, GAZETTE FILES

The Rocket tapes his stick during the 1959-60 season, while sons Normand and Maurice Jr. watch carefully.

Normand is the same age as me, and when I was living in Montreal a couple of years ago, I phoned him. Twice.

The first time I called, I opened with “Hi Normand, your dad was my hero!”, or something like that. The second time was more along the lines of, “Hi, it’s that guy again who called that other time.”

Normand was very nice and seemed just fine with the fact that some stranger was calling. I appreciated that.

Both times I called we talked for about 20 minutes or so, and during the second chat he agreed to meet me for coffee, although he said he was driving a friend’s car to Florida the next day and we’d have to wait until he got back.

I was very excited. I wanted to tell him that when I was a kid, I often wondered what it would be like to be the Rocket’s son. And I wondered if we’d need menus.

I wanted to be Normand’s friend back then, and I wanted to be his friend now.

But it wasn’t to be. Mainly because when he got back from Florida, I was back in Powell River.

Eaten By Sharks

shark

For those of you who find a whack of Habs game blacked out in your area over the course of the season, I can only offer one suggestion. Move to Powell River.

Yes, Powell River, where all 82 games, whether they’re on RDS or Sportsnet or whatever, are shown. I don’t know why. It’s good, though.

Okay, it’s not always good.

Like tonight, when the Canadiens fell 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre, and which becomes six losses in the last eight games.

The slump continues, regardless of the win over the Ottawa Senators when they fired 27 shots at the enemy net in the first period alone.

I suppose I could say the obvious. We need Carey Price back.

Dustin Tokarski wasn’t good, allowing three goals on 12 shots, and replaced by Mike Condon midway through the second period.

Imagine Toker now. He’d started the previous two games, played well, including a nice job in his team’s 3-1 win over Ottawa, and could sniff a possible return to the show after almost blowing it permanently to Mike Condon.

Now he’s back to square one. Replaced by Condon again. That’s a stay awake pill if there ever was one.

It has to be a tough life being a backup. Jason LaBarbera might say so. LaBarbera, currently in the Philadelphia system, has bounced back and forth between the NHL and the minors, mostly as a backup, for sixteen years, and says he’s had 16 different goalie coaches along the way. And almost every year he packs up the wife and kids and moves to a new city and a new team.

But backup goalies are backups for a reason. They’ve got the tools but they’re inconsistent. It must be frustrating for all of them.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot San Jose 27-18.

Dale Weise, with his tenth of the season, was the Habs’ lone scorer.

Torrey Mitchell played his first game since Nov. 19th when he suffered a lower body injury against Phoenix.

Carey Price was introduced to the crowd and looked happy, healthy, and rested. Earlier today (Tuesday), Price was named winner of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s athlete of the year.

Next up – Thursday, when it’s the L.A. Kings in town.

 

 

Hope The Boss Doesn’t Mind

Technically I’m retired. Have been for nine months or so.

But I’m now working four hours each morning, five days a week, at the Carlson Community Club (formerly the Moose Lodge) in Powell River, washing floors, scrubbing toilets, setting up bingo tables, taking out the garbage, etc. etc.

This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

I can walk there in eight minutes, it keeps me nice and busy, and frankly, the extra money helps because we’re raising a baby girl who isn’t even a year old yet. (Something to ponder. When she’s 20, I’ll be 85 and Lucy 83).

Lots to do in this morning job at the CCC, including sign-changing out front.

Maybe the boss won’t notice.

Please note. If the photo is sideways it’s weird because an hour ago it wasn’t. I’m working on it.

Further to this – on my laptop it’s normal, on my iPad it’s sideways. I surrender.

 

CCC

 

A Year Already

It was a year ago exactly that Lucy and I finally reached Montreal after a fine car ride full of excitement, anticipation, and Boston Pizzas.

One that began in Powell River, 120 km up the coast from Vancouver, and about a million miles from Montreal in almost every other sense.

I had retired from BC Ferries, about to begin an entirely new thing with Classic Auctions in Montreal, and now suddenly, like the snap of a finger, it’s been a year already.

Classic Auctions, if you’re not aware, is the world’s biggest and best hockey historical auction house. My job is to write descriptions of the auctions pieces and go on about players and teams related to the pieces.

When we got to Montreal we didn’t have a place to live and spent a week in a hotel until we found one. It was stressful. I like hotels but when you feel you might be stuck in one for weeks, the novelty wears off.

In Montreal, apartments don’t come with fridges and stoves, which I think is unusual. And it didn’t help that we didn’t have any furniture.

Wherever I’ve been in the past, apartments have been labelled as one bedroom, or two bedroom etc. In Montreal, and I suppose throughout Quebec, they’re called 2 1/2, or 3 1/3 etc.

I still haven’t got it perfectly straight. I think a 3 1/2 is a two bedroom. I could be wrong about that. (update – I just learned from a waitress that 3 1/2 is a one bedroom.)

We finally found a lady looking to rent her furnished condo, she happened to be Russian and her and Lucy chatted away, and now it’s where we live.

About 12 minutes to the Habs rink in Brossard.

I’m not getting as lost now. My French has improved only slightly. Traffic sucks and my middle finger is getting worn out.

If some drivers knew what I was saying about them, I might be sleeping in a shallow grave right now. Tailgators, stop the madness. I already drive over the speed limit. What more do you want?

Often I think about how much I’d like to live in downtown Montreal with a cafe on the corner, but can’t because I work on the south shore and the traffic on the bridges is completely insane.

And there’s the thing about affording to live downtown which I never really considered.

I’m thinking I won’t be living downtown.

It’s been exactly a year of adventure. Hard to believe. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were packing up the car and heading to the ferry where I used to work but now was traveling on for the first leg of a long journey to a completely different job.

Maybe you think it’s unusual for me to do this. Just drop everything and move across the country. I think so too. I could be retired. I could be living on the coast where it doesn’t get very cold.

But I think those who know me well aren’t all that surprised.

 

 

Habs To Crush Canucks – Hopefully

Aside from the Price/Luongo Olympics-related storyline, the Diaz/Weise swap, and the game being huge for both teams, this is a night when the Canadiens really have to win on top of all that.

I just spent the last 17 years among smug Canucks fans. I don’t know why they’re smug, but I suspect it has something to do with their team being better during the regular season than the Habs over the past couple of decades.

Not that the Canucks have been any good in the playoffs, but that’s beside the point. Canucks fans I know never failed to remind me of the superiority of their team.

Yes, I know, Habs fans have been accused of being the same thing at times. But the accusers have been wrong. We’re misunderstood salt of the earth fans.

If we were a tad smug, it was years ago. It doesn’t count

And one last thing to mention. I miss many of these smug Canucks fans. Great people, great friends. I’ll be thinking of you when the game’s on.

 

 

 

 

A Night To Remember

The 2014 Winter Auction is coming up soon at Classic Auctions, and one of the lots we’re putting up are the three Charlestown Chiefs jerseys worn by the Hanson brothers in the movie Slap Shot.

There should be a fair amount of buzz about this.

And mentioning the auction is a good way of getting to my Hanson brothers story.

The Hansons came to Powell River in the late-1990s to do their schtick before a Powell River Kings/BCHL game, towing along the back of the zamboni, pretending to be unruly, and generally being very amusing for the fans.

Before they went up to the arena, they came into the little sports bar my friend and I owned, all decked out with their taped hands, horn-rimmed glasses, and Charlestown Chiefs jerseys, and ranted about “old time hockey”.

It was prearranged and they did it for free.

After the game, two of the three Hansons (Jeff and Steve Carlson), came back to the pub, I locked the door, and the three us sat at the bar and drank beer and talked hockey until 5 am. They were both tremendously friendly guys, completely down to earth, and I remember them talking a lot about how they thought Jaromir Jagr was such a great player and how Paul Newman was a wonderful guy.

We drank a lot of beer that night, I had to open the bar a few hours later with a hangover, and the Hanson brothers left town for another gig in another town. All in all, a fine night indeed.

I might be talking to them on the phone soon, and if so, I’m going to ask if they remember that night in Powell River. Maybe they won’t.

But I’m hoping they do.