DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE OF NOWHERE AND EVERYWHERE
BY: RUGGER RUGGEDSON
For the longest time I thought perhaps the G-ds hate me. You see…
I’ve been sent to find Inukshuk.
Unsure what short straw I drew, or what bad karma I am working off to have been given this assignment, for the record I began executing my command against my better judgment. Now, even after I gave up on the paper’s agenda and this became solely a personal mission, I’ve carried on. Despite the fact that I’d likely have better luck finding Bigfoot.
MEMO TO ANYONE WHO FINDS MY BODY BEFORE I CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS MISSION:
Having long ago sold my laptop and phone for food and survival gear money, I’m writing these notes with a golf pencil in a crappy journal book I got at a dollar store. If my body is found, I will be clutching this journal and its pages should be enshrined in whatever journalism hall of fame you choose.
Yes, the notoriously absent and/or in hiding Canadian rockers have led me on a merry chase. After their unsuccessful attempt to cross the US/Canadian border, and after releasing two albums to small acclaim to only a very few, Inukshuk have long gone to ground. Again. And they’ve apparently created another album. Again. So this publication needs a story, and I’m the schmuck who got delegated. Was it Karen from HR who wanted me out of the office? Probably.
In the beginning, it was fairly easy going. Sightings and rumours were to be had, and company-paid supplies were full. But time has passed and I am wearying of the game. The per diem from the offices ended long ago, I am out here on my own fumes. Hotel rooms have given way to a tatty sleeping bag on park benches. I have passed through depression, anxiety, disorientation, and even a brief period where I believed my own name to be Gord, a flute-playing sixth member of the band. None of it helpful.
6 months I’ve been on the trail, following leads, lies, rumours and recent sightings. I’ve ridden every mechanical contrivance Canada can offer, paid fare or hitchhiking my way to the next surefire fabrication, descending from initial (naive) hope through to utter despair, rising again through ambivalence to my current state of calm. I’ve been from Dildo, Newfoundland to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. From Climax, Saskatchewan to Swastika, Ontario. From Sober Island, Nova Scotia to Mayo, Quebec. From Stoner, British Columbia to Cardigan, Prince Edward Island, and from Crotch Lake, Ontario to Vulcan, Alberta. Band sightings are many, but I grew to despair of ever actually meeting up with one or (imagine the luck) all of the members of Inukshuk.
I am currently in Ball’s Falls, Ontario after having been outright lied to by a pair of enthusiastic underdressed teenagers in Punkydoodles Corners. Initially, there was no sign of Inukshuk here either, though they swore on their iPhones’ battery life that it was true. Exhausted and shambling, I had just reached a point of quitting on life in general when I happened to catch my own reflection in a Tim Horton’s window. My wild beard and hair, to match my wild eyes, are only outdone by my last outfit of clothing smelling little better than the sulpher mines near Temagami, Ontario.
My eyes gradually focussed past my reflection to the people at the window seat, staring back at me (and what a vision I present!). And there they were. After Spread Eagle Bay, Newfoundland, Eyebrow, Saskatchewan, and Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, I’ve found them.
At first, none of us moves. I don’t wave, but they know they’ve been recognized. So I produce a tattered journalist lanyard I’d thought long-lost, and they look resigned and nod. I head in to meet the Gords. Based on my appearance and probable odour, though, they meet me at the door and we head down the street for a walk.
I am in the presence of the Gords and Gordons. Drummer Gord Tremblay. Bassist Gordon Murphy. Singer and guitarist Gord Brown. Singer and Guitarist Gordon Gagnon. Singer Gord Smith. All of them looking at me. They know what comes next.
So they start talking, without my even asking a question. I’m not even able to write any of this down, it all happens so quickly. I am going from memory, from this point, but I swear it’s as verbatim as possible despite my addled faculties.
Gordon Murphy starts, as though we were picking up on a conversation we’d had interrupted by a maitre d’. “So there we were in Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Gord (Smith) got the idea that maybe we oughta record a new album. We all laughed, of course, because we had no money and no ideas.” They all mumble agreement. “But Gord persisted. And when he persists, well, the rest of us don’t truly care and just go along, usually.” They all mumble agreement again.
Gord Brown took over. “So we set about finding a way to get to Cocagne, New Brunswick because we knew a guy there named Gordie Desjardins, and he could help us record. He has a wee studio and all the gear we’d need… Of course, when we got to Cocagne, Gordie was gone off with some new woman and no one knew where.” They all sigh. “But,” Gord brightened, “As long as we’ve known him, Gordie never locked his doors, so we let ourselves into his place and used his recording equipment and instruments.” They all nod.
Left unsupervised with decent recording equipment and instruments, it seems, turned Inukshuk into a songwriting juggernaught. “We wrote 157 songs in a week,” claims Gordon Gagnon. “Of course, only about six of them were any good, and of those I like two.” But they knew they had to flesh out the album, and, by democratic election, settled on twelve new songs. The other 145 songs are lost to the mists of time, though. “We don’t remember them anymore,” laments Gordon Gagnon.
At last I have the ability to speak. “Do you have a copy of the album with you? I’d love to hear it.” They all glance sidelong at each other, unsure of whether they can trust this dishevelled hobo who may or may not be beginning to lose teeth due to lack of care, especially with something so personal to them. It’s Gordon Murphy who shrugs and says “sure, why not, eh?” and produces a Maxell casette (complete with cover art) from his jacket pocket.
We retire to their campsite, in a ditch beside the highway. Gord Smith lights a fire. Gordon Gagnon smokes a cigarette. Gordon Murphy digs out a battered 80s boom box from an army surplus backpack and loads it with 6 D-cell batteries. Pressing play, he transports me to Cocagne, and as the first heavy rock guitar notes wash over me, I realize I have actually achieved culmination. Not only did I find Inukshuk, I am probably the only person outside of the Gords and Gordons to have heard Inukshuk’s new album.
The songs seem to blur past me, as they were all only about two minutes long each. Side A starts of with the heavy pulse of ‘King Tut Was My Bitch’, and the glam metal of ‘Insuring The Chrysler,’ before slowing down for the slow dance of ‘Dumpster Dive.’ The side is rounded out by the poppy ‘Happy Hookers,’ the complicated ‘Glue On The Fretboard,’ and the almost post-punk ‘Mayday Mayday Mayday (I’m Goin’ Down).’ Side B opens with another metal cruncher in ‘I Have To Go To The Bathroom,’ only to seque into three straight slower power rockers, with ‘Toothbrush Holder,’ ‘Lobster Boy,’ and ‘Maple Syrup Neti Pot.’ Inukshuk brings the goods for the last two side B closers too, going death metal on ‘Skeletal Sunday’ and black metal on ‘Shoplifter Satan.’
Home Sweet Home, indeed.
I ask if they plan to release this obvious masterpiece. “Nah,” says Gordon Murphy, as he puts away the boom box and the cassette. “We voted and it was decided that this one is just for us.” I press my case, arguing that the world needs more Inukshuk, and (withholding my opinion that it sounded like it was recorded with a potato, despite having been done, reportedly, in a studio) this album could really change the fortunes of the band, bring them notoriety and fame. Money, even. Gord Tremblay scoffed. “We’d only spend it.”
With the album played, and the boys of the band apparently done talking, it grew obvious that it was time for me to move along. I’d somehow overstayed my time with them, but they were too polite to say so. Gordon Tremblay even gave me the cover art from the cassette (reproduced above). “Will I see you guys again?” I ask, rising to trek on down the highway. “Never know, dude,” said Gord Smith. “We’re always out here somewhere.” I nod. “Well, if you change your mind, will you contact me in Toronto so I can help you get a record deal and get heard?” They all nod but I know they never will.
From down the road, I look back at Inukshuk around their campfire, not saying anything, not even watching as I go, already moved on in their lives to whatever happens next, wherever that may happen. And I know more clearly than I’ve ever known anything that they should never come to Toronto, never get a record deal, never become famous. It would ruin the magic of Inukshuk, which is something the band themselves intuitively know without having to say it.
I never went back to Toronto. Karen from HR can bite me. I’ve stayed out on the road, travelling from place to place across this huge, beautiful country of ours. I work odd jobs and meet people as diverse as any found anywhere. During my trials, I transcended the suffering of the search, and found peace in the movement, in the lack of routine, in the freedom of going with the wind. But mostly, I’ve stayed out here in case I ever run into Inukshuk again. Someday, somwhere, I hope I do.
SUBMITTED BY MAIL FROM FORGET, SASKATCHEWAN.
RUGGER RUGGEDSON NO LONGER WORKS FOR THIS PUBLICATION.