Memories


Much Music Down to One Hour of Videos

Much Music is down to one single hour of videos during weekdays. Previously, they were still playing seven hours of videos weekdays from 6am to 1pm. This new schedule as the videos being played for an hour at noon.

I'll be the first to admit this change won't affect me in the least. An avid watcher of Much Music in the 80s and 90s, I haven't tuned in for more than a Simpsons episode or two in many years. In fact, I was surprised to learn they were still airing seven hours of videos. Bell Media, owners of Much, say their block of videos attracted less than 4000 viewers a day. That's a paltry figure.

Without a doubt, the Internet killed the Much Music video star. But Much isn't its first victim! Here's a quick list of stuff I used to consume regularly but have abandoned because the Internet made it obsolete.

Encyclopedias
I wrote many essays in high school and university, and at some point in the process, I'd reach for an encyclopedia. Often this involved a trip to the library and a photocopy machine. It was quite the endeavour, and it's been completely replaced by the Internet.

Map Books
I owned a GTA map book for driving (that I paid real money for!), and free foldable TTC and Toronto cycling maps. Although I still have that old GTA map book in the trunk of my '99 Mazda (where it's been for twenty years), I haven't had to look at a paper map in this country in many, many years. Blame the Internet!

Video Stores
I loved my local video store. The owner, who shortly thereafter was arrested for selling drugs, tipped me off that I might like this movie Reservoir Dogs by this new director I'd never heard of. So many of the movies I watched were recommended to me by the video store guy, and I watched a lot of movies in the 80s and 90s. Although there are still a few video stores around, I haven't set foot in one since... I can't remember when!

Personal Snail Mail
Do you remember writing (or typing) a letter, folding it up, putting it in an envelope, affixing a stamp and dropping it in a mailbox? This was a regular event. I'm not referring to business correspondence or any sort of administrative duties, I'm talking about a letter to a friend or family member. The Internet has killed this practice.

35mm Film Development
I used to own a single-purpose film camera. Listen up kids, because every word I type here is fact. I'd buy film, either 24 or 35 exposures, I'd carefully put it in the camera, and then I'd selectively take pictures until the film was used up. Did someone blink? Was it blurry? It all remained a mystery until I took the film into the drug store or grocery store and waited for it to be developed. Then, I'd come back days later, pay some more money, and get my photos. It's not so much the Internet that killed this ritual, but digital cameras. The Internet just killed the physical photo album.

Record Stores
On a Saturday morning, I loved heading downtown on the subway to check out the records stores near Yonge and Dundas. Sam the Record Man, A&A Records, HMV... you'd walk in and get lost (with apologies to Honest Ed) and it was the best. At different points in my life I bought cassette tapes, 45 vinyl singles, and then CDs. Some of my fondest memories are getting an anticipated release on day one. In Utero, Vs., and the Use Your Illusions to name a few. When I went to U of T and lived downtown, I'd do this daily. Those days, sadly, are long gone.

Lining Up for Concert Tickets
We used to collect at a TicketMaster location to buy concert tickets. You were sure to get their really early to ensure you got your tickets. At some point, they had a wristband policy and you would go there days earlier to get your wristband and then collect at the TicketMaster location at 10am on a Saturday (or whenever) for the lottery. At some point, the Internet killed this, for better or worse.

I could go on... mobile phones themselves eliminated the need for payphones, having to call a landline shared by an entire family, leaving your house and being unreachable for several hours... but that's an entry of its own.

I'd close by lamenting the loss of videos on Much, but truth be known it was lost long ago. To Youtube I go for an eternal playlist of every video I ever loved. Catch you later.

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Mac's Exclusively Presents Great Moments of Hockey

During his visit Friday, Ed "Retrontario" Conroy gave me an old record he stumbled across in one of his crate-dives for vintage Canadiana. This glorious piece of vinyl is entitled "Mac's Exclusively Presents Great Moments of Hockey" and includes Hockey Night in Canada calls by Foster Hewitt et al.

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Now can anyone drop by with a turntable so I can hear this gem?

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The Gifted Program

The Barenaked Ladies have been the topic of many conversations this past week, so it's no surprise their reuniting for the Juno Awards came up in last Friday's Open Mike. Commenter mrmojorisica linked to this video featuring interviews with Steven Page and Ed Robertson.

There it was, a quote from Ed Robertson that triggered a primary school memory. Here's the line I completely related to.

We were in this gifted program together, and I always felt like I was there by mistake.

Here's what I remember... I remember a series of standardized tests in grade three. Then, more tests. These were one-on-one tests where the examiner would present problem solving puzzles, have me put pictures in the correct order, and ask a hundred other such questions. I just did what I was told.

The end result was the gifted program. Starting in grade five, one day a week I would hop on a bus and subway and make my way to a school near Bathurst station. I did this for four years. I honestly never felt I had a choice. They told me where I was supposed to be and that's where I went.

I felt the way Ed Robertson felt for the entire four years. I was in this program with the school board's brightest students and I always felt I was there by mistake. These kids were geniuses, your classic eggheads, and I felt like an imposter.

I understand why the gifted program would be perceived as a good idea, but I despised the segregation. Kids in your regular class resented the fact you got a day off and were treated special. I despised the attention.

In grade nine, I was still told to show up for the program, but after the first meeting I asked if I could opt out, was told I could, and promptly did exactly that.

It's funny how you could spend one day a week for four years in a program and completely suppress the memory until you watch a feature on the Barenaked Ladies and it all comes flooding back.

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Blinky Used to Talk!

I love writing about Blinky. In the early 80s, Blinky the Police Car was everywhere. He and Elmer the Safety Elephant were primary school staples.

I remember Blinky blinking, but I forgot Blinky used to talk. Thanks to my pal Retrontario, here's raw footage from the 1981 Santa Claus Parade with Blinky's voice on proud display.

As an added bonus, you can see Uncle Bobby in that footage. I'll never forget the Uncle Bobby story Retrontario told me in episode 167 of Toronto Mike'd.

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McLaughlin Planetarium

I remember countless school trips to the McLaughlin Planetarium when I was in primary school. It was an amazing place to learn about the stars, planets, and cosmology.

I watched La La Land yesterday and there's a scene in a planetarium that took me back to the 80s when we all took our planetarium for granted. The McLaughlin Planetarium, located just south of the ROM, closed in 1995 and is currently slated for demolition.

An article on blog.to suggests the McLaughlin Planetarium could be saved afterall.

Spearheaded by Jeff Balmer, an ex-pat professor of architecture at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, the efforts to prevent its demolition are rooted not just in its architectural pedigree, but also its use-value.

"In a perfect scenario, U of T would work to resuscitate the Planetarium to its original purpose," Balmer explains. "During its decades-long period of operation, [it] was highly successful, both in terms of its educational mission... and in terms of its financial performance."

planetarium

La La Land, by the way, is excellent.

lalaland

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I Witnessed a MuchMusic Reunion

Last night, I was at The Royal Cinema for an event billed as MuchMusic Retro Mixtape. It was a discussion with Christopher Ward and fantastic video collections curated by Retrontario. Along the way, other veejays from the era would take the stage to share stories. It was awesome for this nostalgia addict.

In addition to Christopher, who was my guest for episode 202 of Toronto Mike'd, the following veejays made appearances:

  • Michael Williams
  • Laurie Brown
  • Denise Donlan
  • Kim Clarke Champniss
  • Master T
  • Simon Evans
  • Ziggy

It was three hours of great stories, vintage videos and a wonderful trip down memory lane. And I finally got a picture with the first MuchMusic veejay.

Christopher Ward and Me

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Built for Speed and Rio

1982 was the first calendar year in which I purchased music for myself. Prior to then, the only music in the house that didn't spill out of the radio belonged to my parents. But in 1982, I purchased one album on vinyl and one album on cassette tape.

The vinyl I bought was Duran Duran's Rio. "Hungry Like the Wolf" was the single that sold me. At the time, I thought it was the coolest track, ever. Then, I heard "Save a Prayer" and "Rio". I loved this album.

duran-duran-rio

At the time, I kept hearing this track on CFTR by the Stray Cats called "Rock This Town". Prior to this period in my life when I discovered Top 40 music, my diet had primarily consisted of Golden Oldies music from the 1950s found on compilation cassettes purchased at gas stations. I think this primed me for rockabilly and the Stray Cats scratched the itch. I bought Built for Speed on cassette and played that side one like crazy.

I still remember those six songs. "Rock This Town", "Built for Speed", "Rev It Up and Go", "Stray Cat Strut", "Little Miss Prissy" and "Rumble in Brighton". I loved them all.

Stray Cats Built for Speed

What was the first album you ever owned?

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Ontario - Yours to Discover!

My pal Ed (Retrontario to you, pal!) has uncovered a clean copy of Roland Parliament's 60-second version of "Ontario - Yours to Discover".

As a child of the 80s, I remember this tune well. It was an earworm of sorts that still randomly spills out of my mouth from time to time. Now we can all enjoy the full minute version of this retro Ontario jingle.

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Back Catcher vs. Catcher

I fell in love with baseball during the summer of '83 when I caught Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling Blue Jay games while spending a couple of weeks at my uncle's cottage. I was hooked.

Around this time, I was playing tee-ball. In my tee-ball league, the catcher was called "back catcher". In primary school, I played for the school's softball team, and the position was still referred to as "back catcher".

Tom and Jerry never called it "back catcher", they just called it "catcher". I'm well aware it's just "catcher", but I still periodically call it "back catcher". It just slips out after being implanted in my cranium at such a young age.

Does anyone know why we called the position back catcher instead of catcher? Is it a Canadian thing?

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Time Machine

I was catching up on some work last night when I saw this tweet from TSN1050 host Mike Richards.

Immediately, I knew what game he was watching. It was my game. It was the final Maple Leafs game of the 1980s and I was in attendance at Maple Leaf Gardens to witness the most exciting game I'd ever seen live.

It was 6-1 Bruins, and my buddy Joe and I were playing the funeral march over a megaphone he had smuggled in. We didn't get to many games, so when you got a dog, it hurt. And there were plenty of dog games in the 80s.

When I saw this tweet from Mike Richards, I turned on the television and tuned in LeafsTV. I got to relive that night in 1989 and it was as glorious as I remembered.

Vincent Damphousse scored late in the second period to make it 6-2, and that's how it stood with 5 minutes left in the third. Then, Gary Leeman scored, and Luke Richardson scored, and Ed Olczyk scored. Suddenly, it was 6-5.

At this point, it felt like we couldn't lose. Eddie O made sure of it, with a nifty breakaway goal to tie it up late. Then, in OT, Mr. ALL HEART whacked home the winner. Leafs win! Leafs win! Leafs win!

I spent last night in 1989. That wasn't a tweet, that was a time machine.

December 30, 1989 - Maple Leafs

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