Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"This ain't Philadelphia, it's Canada..."

First things first, I know, I haven't 'treated myself' to any writing on this here blog in awhile. I'll do my best to update more often. This story seemed worth writing about, so coffee went on, dogs are fed, and I figure I'll let this rip....

So Chuck Ragan and I finished up the last night of our eastern Canada tour Sunday night with a packed, spirited Bovine Sex Club show, one of my favorite venues with so many good buds, so naturally it was quite a party. Chuck and I were sharing a room in a hotel that the NXNE folks set up for us and we both were flying in the morning. Chuck's flight was early, mine was late.

Chuck shut it down early and went back to the room, but I figured I'd hang some more with friends. I get back to the hotel with my guitar, merch bag and backpack on, and as I entered the lobby some sketchy looking fella, who looked as if he was staying at the hotel, and was kind of tweaking came up and the following exchange was had....

Tweaker: "Yo man, whaddup? You play music 'n shit?"
Me: "Yeah man."
Tweaker: "Ah cool me too, where you from?"
Me: "Philly, in the states."
Tweaker: "F'real? I aint never been. I'm from Toronto"
Me: "Ah ok, well have a good night."
Tweaker: "Wait, hold up, I make beats, we should make music together. You make money doing this?"
Me: "Sometimes. Yeah that sounds good, but I gotta head up to the room man, I gotta fly tomorrow."
Tweaker: "Yo, gimme your phone number and I'll call you and then we can hook up, I'll make beats and you can write songs over them."
Me: "I don't give my number out man, I don't know you."
Tweaker: "C'mon man, just give me your number."
Me: "Sorry fella, I'm heading up, have a good night."

At this point, I'm creeped out, not to mention getting annoyed. Does Tweaker have a knife? A gun? A group of lunatics in a room somewhere ready to get medieval on my ass?

Tweaker: "You coulda just said you weren't interested."

I'm getting my bags and various other items in the elevator, waiting for the door to shut.

Me: "I did, in a nice way. I'm not fuckin interested. Back off."
Tweaker: "Man, you're a dick."
Me: "Ok, maybe so. G'night."

I get up to the room, and of course, no key. Chuck's inside, but probably sleeping or in the damn bathtub, so I knock. The elevator opens back up, and of course, here comes Tweaker all fired up with a full head of steam.

Tweaker: "Yo man, that's fucked up, what you said."
Me: "Listen man, I guarantee you, you don't want to do this, get back in the elevator, leave it alone."

Knock on the door again, louder. "Chuck!"

Tweaker: "Nah man, I know you made money tonight, so give me your money."
Me: "You ain't getting anything, trust me. Beat it."

I'll admit, not knowing what this guy was up to or capable was scary. I figured another knock was in order.

Tweaker: "Yo man, this ain't Philadelphia, it's Canada."

I literally laughed out loud. Now look, I'm not saying there aren't roughnecks everywhere, but Canada is one of the cleanest, kindest, low-crime parts of the world I've had the pleasure of touring in. Philadelphia's violent crime rate has been 2.5-3 times the national average for years. It's a drag, nothing to be proud of, but you learn how to carry yourself in a rough city.

Me: "Oh I know where I am. Not sure you know what kind of town I'm from, but if you touch me, you're gonna get beaten like we're in jail. You'll get hurt. And when this door opens, there'll be two of us, and you'll get carried out of here. "

Now look, I'm not a violent guy, but when some cretin comes up to you in a hotel hallway threatening to take your money, you gotta say some ugly shit in order to try to make the situation swing in your favor. Plus I got the feeling this may have been his first attempt at a robbery, so I figured I'd take my chances.

Tweaker: "Your money, or your guitar, I'm taking some shit."
I balled up my right fist, figuring it was time. Tweaker, lightning quick, grips my wrist. I drop the guitar, pop a left jab to the lip and grab his throat, kick the hotel door, and yell for Chuck one more time.
Tweaky has my wrist, I'm squeezing his thoat, saying "Look man, don't do this, I'll let go, and you get back on the elevator. Last chance."

Just then, the door opens, and my old friend and your's, Chuck Ragan comes out, towel around the waist. Tweaker's eyes, bulging from getting blasted and getting choked out, somehow get even wider.

Chuck: "What in god's name is going on out here?!?!"
Me: "Yo bud, this kid is trying to rob me!"

Tweaker snapped out of it when he saw towel clad, tattooed, Braveheart-lookin-Chuck, as would most, and let go of my wrist. I let go of him and he took off for the elevator.
Chuck: "What the fuck? Get him!!"
Me: "NO NO!! Chuck, just help me get my shit in!! We're in Canada, If we beat this kid up, we're never gonna be be allowed to come back here and sing our little songs...hurry up!!"
Chuck: "Right, right! Ok..."

I called the front desk.
Me: "Sir! There's a guy heading down the stairs right now, just tried to rob me, don't let him out of here, call the cops."
Desk clerk: "What?! The guy from the lobby? He's staying here!"
Me: "Call the cops, don't let him leave."

Again, neither I, nor Chuck are violent fellows. Sure, I would've loved to have beaten the living hell out of this kid, but it would've been an ugly thing to do. Plus, as soon as you have assault anywhere near you, getting over borders and operating as a musician becomes extremely hard.

I tell the bewildered Chuck the story, he's shocked as he was having a soak in the tub before his flight home. We laughed and laughed at this kid's horseshit attempt at robbery, especially at the "This ain't Philadelphia, it's Canada" line.

15 minutes later, the phone rings.
Desk clerk: "Sir, we have the man, the cops are here, are you ready to come down and press charges?"
Me: "Hell no. Kick him out of the hotel, make sure he's gone, this is over."
Desk clerk: "Are you sure?! He tried to rob you!!"

The last thing I want to do is come back up to Toronto to deal with this nonsense.

Me: "Totally sure, thanks for your help."
Desk clerk: "You're welcome sir, I'm so sorry, good night."
Me: "Oh hey, by the way..."
Desk clerk: "Yessir?"
Me: "I need a 10:15 wake up call."