Dear Ezra and Lian,
The Soundtrack of my life Part III. 20 years ago in 1996, I found out that MxPx were playing The Horseshoe Club. They were playing in less than 2 weeks time. I tried to buy tickets, but could not as the show was cancelled. Now a normal guy would just say, “That sucks!” and go do something else. Me, I called MxPx’s management company. I talked to their manager and asked if they had an alternate venue booked yet. They said no. Now since MxPx had never played in Canada yet, I thought for the sake of all their fans in Canada, somebody should try to salvage a show here. I asked them how much would it cost to book them last minute. He gave me a dollar figure and I asked if he took Visa. I had 10 days to find a venue and put on a concert for a semi-popular punk rock band.
I was 23 and trying to pull this off. I started with nothing. I had to find the right size venue. Get liability insurance. Get security. Print off and sell tickets. Advertize. Get dozens of volunteers to sell food and drinks and do everything. I worked with my church’s pastor and the many volunteers who worked with the youth of Collingwood, Ontario. I made my pitch to make this an outreach event in one meeting. People jumped on board. I and my friends worked the phones and dozens of people volunteered. The day of the concert, I spent at least 8 hours on the phone with Canada Border Services trying to convince border agents to let in a bunch of guys with tattoos and piercings come to Canada to sell merchandise and play a concert for teenagers. One of the opening bands, ValuePac, gave up and went to their next gig. MxPx and 90lb Wuss stuck it out. Eventually, we got them into Canada, but only after a lot of desperate phone calls from me. The bands arrived hours late, but they still went on. Long story short, it all came together. There were about 500 watching this concert. In my opinion, the best band to ever play in my hometown. I was so happy, I paid to put up the band and their roadies up in expensive hotel rooms.
Now as far as an outreach to youth, I think the concert was probably a miserable failure. I felt bad for years that I had wasted so many people’s time and money on that adventure. At the time, it seemed like a huge Tim Morgan vanity project. It was like a party for 500 of my closest friends with my favourite band. I hardly ever listen to the music I used to listen to in the 90s, but if I do, I listen to this song Chick Magnet by MxPx. Often over and over. It reminds me of one of the most fun nights of my life. It changed my life, probably more than any of the kids’ lives.
You see organizing that concert gave me skills, I never knew I had. I found out I could lead people. I could organize. I could also inspire people to try to do the impossible. I learned to argue convincingly with government officials. I learned to negotiate. It was the beginning of the preparation for more things like that in my life. A decade later when I started producing a documentary about the mautam famine, I started to use those very same skills. Except this time I was not organizing a concert for kids and my own enjoyment, I was trying to save the lives of 100,000s. I started trying to ship food and inspire others to do the same. I was using all the skills I had first learned organizing that concert. So this song reminds me that silly little things can lead to big serious, life and death things. It is one of the reasons why anytime somebody leaves a door open for me, I walk on through. You never know where it’s going to lead. Some of the most interesting things of my life happen by asking, “I wonder where this goes?”
Finally, no other music video more accurately reflects the absolutely strange situation I now find myself in. I laugh at myself multiple times every day. 5 months ago, I resolved to spend more time with men, boys and Ezra. I wanted do way more manly, action stuff, so that Ezra could see what a real man does. Instead, my life has gone in the complete opposite direction. It makes me smile; like this song always does.
Here it is. Mxpx “Chick Magnet”