Canada Day and the Coup

by Ted Holteen

Last week, I did my best to impart a bit of learnin’ as regards the twist of fate that resulted in Canada. So why stop now, right? Did you realize, for example, that America had already fought its Civil War by the time Canada actually became a nation in 1867? Of course you didn’t, and apparently many Canadians didn’t either. Canada Day was established in 1869 to celebrate the filing of some form in Ottawa, but it didn’t catch on for about 50 more years, and even then it only merited an extra slice of bacon or two in most homes. Modern day Canada Day celebrations, alas, are disturbingly American in nature, with fireworks (ironically, the Chinese call the day “Humiliation Day” - maybe sometime soon I’ll find time to explain why, but suffice to say it was justified) and even face painting. The whole thing reeks of forced jubilation, not to mention a bit of one-upmanship on the part of the Canucks. By the way, Canada Day is on Saturday this year. If you see any Canadians, like the Rahillys maybe, I suggest saying something witty such as, “Nice Independence Day, guys – I couldn’t help but notice that the Queen’s still on all your money.”

No, Canada, things like chest-thumping self absorption are best left to the pros, which is why we’re so good at it here in the States. And here at home (in Durango, where a lot of us live), we can again look forward to one of the best Fourth of July weekends outside of Philadelphia, with far fewer garbage strikes and homeless people in the parks. That’s not to say there won’t be any homeless people in the parks, but public services are much more efficient here and they should be cleaned up by the end of the Pancake Breakfast. More on that in a moment, as we’ve still got a few days before the big party.

Just about every venue will have someone singing in it, and to see what’s available I suggest checking the “On the Town” section toward the back of this paper and deciding on your own. I’m busy. My own spotlight will shine on the Abbey Theatre, where Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” opens on Friday night. That’s a movie, not Keillor’s radio show, but it’s a movie about his fictional radio show that’s not really that fictional but doesn’t actually exist. Most surprising is the star-studded cast that turned out to put faces to the voices that have been heard on the NPR program for all these years. Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and the absurdly hot Lindsay Lohan are just a few, but please don’t be stupid and think that they’re the ones you hear on the radio. It’s just for the film. The actual players every week are every bit as homely as they sound. The real reason I chose for spotlighting the Abbey is Sunday’s offering from Fold Roll, Inc., the production company of one of our hardest working promoters in town, Josh Bensik. Josh does a tremendous job of bringing cutting edge, genuine hip-hop to bring a splash of color to this culturally diverse town which includes every shade of white from German to Dutch. This time it’s The Coup, which should liven things up with their music to “make love and throw Molotov cocktails to.” I’ve always said those two things weren’t mutually exclusive, and now I’ve been proven right. Lots of politically charged stuff, quality on-stage musical production, and frontman Boots Riley is a dead ringer for Artis Gilmore. This isn’t a $5 cover kind of show – tickets are $20 day of show, but as they say, you get what you pay for and it’s worth it. Get ’em in advance from Southwest Sound and save five bucks. And for what it’s worth, please be nice to the Abbey staff. They work their asses off during these shows, and lest you forget, they already hate you when you walk in the door. Be nice. Showtime is 10 p.m. and no, bro, they won’t just let you slide, man. Bring enough to buy a ticket and a few beers or stay home and watch “Desperate Housewives.”

Also Sunday, and Monday for that matter, look for a bunch of old cars passing through town as part of the National Guard’s Great Race. It’s an antique car race that started in Philadelphia and ends in San Rafael, Calif., and they’ve opted to spend two full days here in Durango. It’s like a traveling museum, and if you have any interest in vintage autos, it’s certainly worth a look. I can’t imagine how there are any Guardsmen available to do such a thing, what with the war thing overseas and the manpower needed to turn the U.S.A. into a gated community down south, but I guess there are more of them than I thought. Guardsmen, not Mexicans or Iraqis. There’re plenty of them.

So on to the Fourth. After putting on a successful family picnic last week, our city fathers (and a mother or two) are draining the rest of the rainy day fund to put on another bash this week. The city has lined up a full day culminating in a fireworks show that they claim will have over 2,200 explosions. It starts with a Freedom Fun Run at 9 a.m. in the morning for people who both run and are awake to be somewhere at 9 a.m. on a holiday. Have fun. Most of the day will be spent with a barbecue picnic, music, a kids’ flea market, parade, a reading of the Declaration of Independence and some other historical documents. Everything happens in Rotary Park, Buckley Park or on Main Avenue, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. The only bands I’ve been able to confirm are the High Rollers and the Lawn Chair Kings, but I’m sure there are many more that are being kept secret from me for some reason. The Kings, incidentally, are also playing the Ska-B-Q on Thursday this week. I’m guessing there’s also an ad or story somewhere in this paper detailing the whole Fourth of July event schedule, so again I must tell you to figure it out for yourself. I really am busy.

Finally, after the fireworks I implore you to head to the Summit to catch the only Durango appearance of the summer by the Wayward Sons. They again have a full summer schedule, but I guess Burle and the boys know as you now do that no one does the Fourth like Durango, and they want to be here to see it all. Top-shelf bluegrass fresh from their debut in Telluride a couple of weeks ago and raring to get on the road, this should be one of their best shows of the year.

By the way, Silverton does a hell of a Fourth, too.

That’s all. Wave that flag, wave it wide & high. •