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Julian's FumbleRumble '97 Report

Posted to Fumbling-Towards-Ecstasy on August 28, 1997

Vancouver Fumblers at Nettwerk. Follow link to see large version.

Hi everyone,

The time has come for me to post my very own Vancouver FumbleRumble report. I decided to wait a few days because I have been sooooo tired since coming back, and also because I wanted to let the events settle in my mind before I committed them to paper.

First off: I miss everyone SO much. Lois, Xochitl, Alana, etc. left Vancouver at 12 noon on Tuesday, and by 2 p.m. I already felt like I was going to cry. I was having lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown and I needed a hug sooo bad, I almost asked the waitress for one. (um, yeah, that would have been very bad.) I don't usually get reduced to a sniffling mess, but last night when Xochitl called me back (we'd been playing phone tag -- we eventually ended up talking for TWO HOURS) she made me cry when she told me about how her and Alana had to be surgically separated at LAX when Alana had to go home. :-(

Enough of my weeping and gnashing of teeth, though. I'll try to be concise in this report, but seeing as how I'm writing this in Microshaft Word, that's not likely :) I never write things in a word processor unless they're going to be long :)

Friday, August 22

I arrived in Vancouver at about 12:30 p.m. and made my way past my relatives; they were only a means to an end to get me to the train station to meet Jason and crew. My uncle criticised me for twenty minutes because I didn't know for sure if Jason was going to be at the station at 4:45. Bloody relatives. Anyway, I made it down there, wandered around Chinatown for a while (which is when I discovered Vancouver has a garbage workers' strike going on ... ewwww) and then made my way back to the train station.

I had no idea what anyone looked like, so in fact Shanlin and Corri wandered past me a couple of times, each of us exchanging odd looks, before I approached them (and a third person) and asked if any of them were Doug (aka McPhile), Traci (Loth) or Jason. Well, Jason was the "third person" and I discovered who Shanlin and Corri were.

We waited TWO HOURS for Doug and Traci to show up. Their bus had left Seattle half an hour late, and there was trouble at customs, etc. So we missed going to Pepitas for dinner, and instead went straight to Theatresports on Granville Island. As we were driving along Sixth Avenue, Jason said "it is very important you look to the left of the car. Keep looking to the left of the car" whereupon Doug remarked "what is it that's on the right side that you don't want us to see?" :-) It turns out Jason wanted us to see Nettwerk's offices, and of course, since we were all laughing so hard at Doug's remark, we missed it. :)

We swung by the Keg on Granville Island for a quick bite to eat (Doug has already described how we pissed off all the staff there by being loud, and nearly clotheslining an unsuspecting waiter) and then went to Theatresports. My GOD was it hilarious. The show was called "See B.C." so you can see it was a parody of the CBC, Canada's government-funded national television station. For instance, they had a sketch to mock the "required French content" law (in Canada, programming has to be a certain percentage in French) where the actors spewed off random phrases in French. "Uh.... les poissons? Oui... uh, mon papa mange de la salade" :-) and so on.

After Theatresports we headed over to a dessert restaurant - Sweet Temptations or somesuch. (the same one that Kathy, Jennifer Heather and Xochitl visited when they were in Vancouver last). Oh my god, I nearly died eating the white chocolate raspberry sauce cheesecake. I could not finish it, for I felt I was going to drop dead. It was sooooo good. After this, we walked down the street to English Bay, where we stared at the water and chatted before hitting Safeway for some groceries, and then heading home.

We posted to the list when we got home, and I think it's in one of those massive digests that Anthony posted. While we were posting, Lois, Janelle and Gina showed up, so we rolled out the sofabed for them. I was really tired by this point, because it was 2 a.m. and there's a three hour time difference, so it was about 5 a.m. Toronto time. We called Troy's house and talked to Esther, and a very sleepy Alana. I understand Esther kept everyone up all night! Anyway, I fell asleep immediately, in Jason's bed, which I shared with Doug. That's the whole explanation between me sleeping with Doug.


Nettwerk Headquarters

Travis showed up early, having rented a car from the airport, and Lois and Co. went sightseeing at Stanley Park.

Apologies for those who were going to meet us at the skating rink on Saturday morning. Denise (Jason's friend, also the host of the barbecue) was a bit late in picking us up, and we were about an hour late to the rink. The people who were skating were playing hockey, and only Jason and Denise wanted to do that, so the rest of us (Traci, Doug, Travis and me) piled into the car and drove around for a bit, finally stopping for breakfast. On the way out of the skating rink, Traci and I raided the Vancouver Sun newspaper box, grabbing three copies. (We'd seen the fumbler article earlier, at Jason's).

Jason had to go to his parents' to get a wrench, so that he could disassemble the gas tank from Denise's barbecue and get it refilled, so me, Travis and Doug went to Denise's early and decided to buy our groceries for the barbecue. We walked down the boardwalk to the market (Denise's place is gorgeous - it's right on the waterfront) and saw that they didn't have the prepackaged stuff us city-dwellers are used to. The lady behind the counter said you can get that stuff at the IGA "just across the street". Yeah, it turns out that "just across the street" means you have to cross the railway tracks on this huge bridge, cross a street, and walk about half a kilometre down the street. Hmm, I think it's typical Canadian behaviour to understate things. If that holds true, it was "only drizzling" while we were walking to and from the IGA. Just my luck. :-(

Needless to say, we were late getting back to Denise's, and as such we were 45 minutes late meeting everyone else at Nettwerk. "Everyone else" was all the people up from Seattle and Mari from Toronto (woohoo!), as well as Lois and crew.

Paul Kim inside Nettwerk. We spent a lot of time and money at Nettwerk, and I think we overwhelmed the guy working at the desk (Ray? I think that's his name). I spoke to Dan Legare, the mail order guy, on Sunday at Lilith and he said that on Saturday, the Werkshop sold over $2000 worth of stuff, and that's a sales record. Go fumblers!

While at Nettwerk I also met Erica from the Rose Chronicles list. She works there as a summer student, and we kept her busy fetching things. We also saw Terry McBride pull in, and everyone shouted "Hi Terry!" whereupon he gave us a shocked look and backed away from his car slowly, looking quite terrified at the forty-odd people spilling out of the Nettwerk offices, down the steps and into the parking lot. :-)

Xochitl examines her empty wallet outside Nettwerk. After separating our cash from our wallets at Nettwerk, we headed over to Granville Island, where those of us who had not bought groceries for the bbq bought them. We hit the Keg again first though, for a round of drinks and some snacks. Someone had the foresight to purchase name tags for us all, so we wouldn't confuse me and Paul Kim. (j/k) This time we didn't piss off any waiters.

Esther's balloon hat Then we headed to Denise's for the BBQ in Cynthia's car, along with Patrick (were it not for your hair, I would never have found you at Lilith!), Xochitl and Esther. Esther had picked up a cool hat, made out of balloons, at Granville, and she kept getting mad at me 'cause I kept twisting them into penises. :) We also sang incredibly horrendous renditions of various Sarah songs which were on Cynthia's car CD player.

I think Denise was quite overwhelmed at the number of people that showed up - I am told she was expecting only 15 people or so, but she got 40-odd. We managed to convince Nettwerker Adam Drake to come along to the BBQ, which just added an official touch to it. :-) I was incapacitated for a while, sitting on Denise's armchair with Esther and Xochitl alternately sitting on my lap and crushing my legs :-) so Travis was nice enough to make me a hamburger. What a nice guy.

Me and Xochitl, squeezed into Denise's armchair Notable events that occurred that evening: John Stewart and Michelle showed up, and it took him a looong time to make it any further than the door (we all kept chewing his ear off); Josh Burnett called but SOMEONE hung up the phone before I had a chance to finish my conversation and make it to the phone; Darrell from the UK called, and talked for a while to everyone; and the Huntress (Diana Hassannia) showed up! We'd been playing telephone tag since I showed up in Vancouver, but she did make it down from Abbotsford to join us. Xochitl tells me that Diana was totally trashed by the end of the evening. :-) She brought me a copy of the Georgia Straight though! Woohoo! (Sarah is on the cover)

Later in the evening we all headed out onto the boardwalk, and all of us sang "Drawn To The Rhythm" and a seriously botched version of "Building A Mystery", while Traci recorded us on her camcorder. Gina and Adam Drake were on guitar. We managed to make such a racket that we got some shocked looks from the seniors living in their apartments next to Denise's place. I think someone yelled at us halfway through DTTR, as well :-) so we headed inside before the police came. :-)

Fumblers at Denise's. We went home pretty late and this time I slept with Jason in Jason's bed. (Yes, I deliberately meant to phrase it that way. )

Sunday - Lilith day!

A whole bunch of crazy fumblers left at 10 a.m. to stake out a place in line. Among them were Esther (who never sleeps, I am convinced), Patrick, Lois and friends, Xochitl, Skeie and her mom, Anna Schneider, and I forget who else (I wasn't actually awake when they went, so I'm just making this up as I go along :)). I went at a more reasonable hour (12:30 or so) with Darren (Stalder, aka Torin) and his wife Cindy, Traci, Travis (who had crashed at Denise's) Doug, and Dennis B. Moore (aka den-E). We hit a Superstore on the way, which is essentially a huge supermarket, selling everything from groceries to beauty supplies to houses (j/k). There are about forty aisles in this place, if that gives you any indication as to its size.

Skeie, Allison, Anna and Cathy Barrett outside the stadium.
Skeie, Allison, Anna and Cathy Barrett (of Nettwerk) outside Thunderbird Stadium.

At UBC we managed to bypass most of the line because Cindy has a broken foot and needs to be in a wheelchair, so we pushed our way up to the front ("getting you in as a cripple", as Darren said to his wife :) ). Dennis and I scouted for the fumblers, and found them right up front. Rock on! Thanks to all those who staked out the line early, while we slept in and made sandwiches (AFAIK they are now in Jason's fridge, in a severely crushed state - ask McPhile :) )

I wandered around the site for a while, stopped in at the Nettwerk booth and asked for Cathy (she was in an interview with Sarah), and saw most of the second-stage acts. Once again, Dayna Manning and Tara McLean were just awesome. I found Dayna's CD the next day at A & B Sound, but it was expensive (I'll get it tomorrow, I swear) I ran into Dan from Nettwerk again, and along with James Powell and Anna, we tried to make it back up to the front for Lisa Loeb's set. This was a task in itself - Anna can't see, so James tried to carry her (that didn't work) and all the people were pretty bitchy about us climbing all over them, etc. But eventually we made it up a reasonable distance near to the fumblers, and reunited with them after Lisa's show, which was really good. Considering I don't really like any of her songs, I was quite impressed with her set.

Fumblers at Lilith. Photo courtesy of Nettmedia.
Fumblers at Lilith. Courtesy of Cathy Barrett at Nettmedia.

Next up was Mary Jane Lamond on the b-stage, which I couldn't see because I was stuck up front, and no way was I moving because I was never going to get back. I'd seen her before in Toronto, and she played pretty much the same set, so I didn't feel as though I was missing too much. Cathy B. came to visit us during this, so I finally got to meet her. I've been chasing her since Toronto! Anna got to give Cathy her colourings, which was really good.

Back to the main stage: Paula Cole. Good God that woman has more energy than even Esther (who, for the record, bodysurfed her way back to her seat during Lisa's set, causing Lisa to almost crack up during her performance). Paula was just AMAZING, although I found that she is somewhat a pretentious performer. All her comments were VERY obviously prepared statements, but I guess I'm just used to Sarah getting up there and saying whatever. Anyway, she had a lot of energy, her songs just rocked, and I was very very impressed. Wow.

Next up was Shawn Colvin, and she was MUCH better this time than she was in Toronto. I think she reworked the order of her set, so that she didn't lump the slow songs all together as she did in Toronto. I'm beginning to like this woman's music a lot. Kevin Thompson said he bought me Shawn's "Steady On" while he was in Montreal, and said he'd mail it to me. (No he wasn't at Vancouver - he told me this by e-mail) What a nice guy. I'm forever thankful, KT, if you're reading this.

It was dark by this point, just in time for the Indigo Girls. Once again, they just rocked the house. Xochitl and Esther and Alana were about to die by this point because the Indigos were so awesome. I wanted to hug someone but we were all squished together (due to some idiots who were pushing - we stayed squished together for the rest of the show) so I settled for taking Esther's hand. :-) The Indigos called everyone out to do "Acadian Driftwood" by The Band and also Closer To Fine. It was really wicked.

And of course, Sarah. What can I say - she's mesmerizing to start off with, but not only that, I was up sooo close. If there were seats, I would have been in the front row center (and Lois and Alana would have been at row 0.25 :) ) We were all so close that I heard Sarah tapping out time on her pants. I was totally transfixed, and had to close my eyes a couple of times just because of sensory overload :-) I was in heaven, and yes, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I did cry. There, I said it - I cried at a Sarah concert. I've read all these accounts of people crying when Sarah performs, and I thought I'd never do that, but looks like I couldn't help it. :-)

Then Sarah called everyone back for a rocking version of "Big Yellow Taxi", just as it was in Toronto. I was kind of sad, at the end, because it was the last Lilith Fair, but I know it'll happen all over again next year. After the show, the fumblers congregated up front while non-fumblers left, and got interviewed by ITV. (We also held up the sign a couple of times during the show, much to the annoyance of those nonfumblers standing behind us :) )

We decided to meet up at Denny's for a midnight (well, 10:30 p.m.) snack. Imagine this: a nice, suburban Denny's at 10:30, with about ten customers, and then the fumblers arrive - forty still-excited and hyperactive Sarah fans. Needless to say, the waitress wasn't too impressed by the fact that we were all standing in the aisles chatting while she tried to deliver our food and drinks. :) Following our consumption of their "food" (I use that term loosely), we left for Jason's (five people crammed into Mark Frabotta's car!! holy), and those not staying at Jason's bid us farewell (among them Mari, Corri and Shanlin, Anna, Skeie and Jewels, her mom, and so on).

We stayed up until 3:30 or 4 a.m. talking, at Jason's. It goes without saying that Jason was not entirely alert at 8 a.m., when he had to turf us out to go to work :-( I'm told that after I went to bed (with Jason again :) ), Esther kept everyone up. Why does that not surprise me?


Paul strangles McPhileUp early, as I said, because Jason had to go to work. We bid him farewell and good luck as he left. Some of us left with Cynthia in her Volvo - Esther, Patrick and Traci, I believe. Travis also took off because he had missed his early morning flight, not surprisingly, considering we were up until 4 a.m. The remaining fumblers all piled into either Lois or Paul Kim's cars, and went to A & B Sound. [Paul Kim upon seeing the "No parking, violators will be towed" sign: 'Oh, I'll just park BESIDE the sign. Then it doesn't apply to me' :) ] I'm happy to say that I did NOT pull a Jill :D - my wallet is thanking me :) I bought Percolator, Blue Rodeo's Five Days In July and also Aimee Mann's Whatever for Xochitl.

Lois and Alana hug goodbye. Then we went for breakfast/lunch at The Sandwich Tree. After that, it was time to say goodbye - I could not stop hugging Alana. Pedestrians were looking at us funny. :) I miss you sooo much, Alana :-( I'm going to come to Australia sometime, I swear - maybe I'll come along with Xochitl when she does her study abroad thing. :)

Xochitl and I, poster girl/boy for the Vancouver Province We dropped Doug off at the train station, and also Gina (she was staying at Adam Drake's apartment that evening) and then that was it. FumbleCon '97 was unofficially over. I was sad but it finally hit me full force when I was eating lunch in Gastown. I always carry my diary with me, and I was writing down how I felt about the whole thing, when it hit me - they are GONE. I almost began to cry right then and there. Talk about "...but I don't know how to let you go" huh. However, I managed to run into Corri and Shanlin at the Virgin Megastore - I suspect they had pulled some serious Jills but I'll let them talk about it if they want to elaborate.

When I went back to the train station, I ran into John Stewart and Michelle, who were boarding the 6 p.m. train to Seattle. I talked to John at length, wistfully, and we resolved to make FumbleCon '98 a reality. What that means in practice, I don't know, but in principle, I'm determined to see it happen again. To the Vancouver people, I can't believe how much I miss you guys, even though I've only seen you a couple of days out of my entire life. I can't explain that, except to perhaps remark that all these years that I've been on the list, I was unknowingly building friendships (as I am sure everyone was, and is) and then all of a sudden, emotional overload when we finally meet. It just goes to prove what I keep telling people about the 'Net - the Internet doesn't connect computers. The Internet connects PEOPLE.

Lois Rodriguez's cool friends, Gina and Janelle So THANK YOU everyone for making it so much fun. Thank you to Jason for letting me and the other sixteen? seventeen? people crash at your place. I am not going to make any more specific thank yous to Fumblers, because Cynthia has already said them and this message is long enough, so I'm just going to append my "me too" onto that. However, I think Denise, Jason's friend, should be made an "honorary fumbler" for tolerating all of us at her flat.

I had an awesome time in Vancouver. I hope I get the opportunity to do it again next year. All aboard for FumbleCon '98...!


[The following CDs were used in the production of this message: :=)
Jill Sobule/Happy Town, Fiona Apple/Tidal, Damhnait Doyle/Shadows Wake Me and Sarah McLachlan/Surfacing ]

Go see AlanaFaerie's FumbleRumble report, with pictures!

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