It took me a while, but I thought of a puny handful... Regina hasn't changed much since I was but a tow-headed nipper, but the changes I did note were for the worse; the giant money and time-sucking casino that used to be a fairly attractive Deco train station, the obvious signs of a municipal government with ties to the concrete industry - they have way too many parking lots and parkades - anything that doesn't move has been paved. As well, the time-honored Yippersville malaise has been distinctly super-sized somewhere in the intervening years between dreaded visits. The grey-brown dusty armpit of my youth has lost its deodorant forever. These memories are fossils now:
The Crescent Tea Room - This was a joint just around the corner from my grandparents' house, half convenience store and half cafe. There was no "tea room" in sight, the name surviving from some earlier incarnation, I gather. The cafe was a childhood joy though, all googie-patterned naughahyde and boomerang pink formica with cheap Chinese touches like the tasseled paper lanterns and red wallpaper with dragons. I remember being fascinated by the dumbwaiter behind the diner counter that lead to the steamy depths of the mysterious kitchen. My grandfather used to haul me over for a milkshake now and then, and if he was not as savagely grumpy as usual we might also get some fries and gravy. But sitting over his strawberry milkshake in its frosty metal container, the years seemed to peel off of him as he would become almost giddy with his enjoyment of the treat. Me and my bratty friends used to steal pop bottles from behind the store and then casually march
around up front to cash them in for candy money - until we finally got caught
by an outraged and stick-wielding Mr. Chu. Lesson learned. The last time I saw the place it was a soulless, antiseptic coffee-can of a pseudo 7-11.
Buffalo Days - Your typical third-rate Summer Fair and Exhibition, but by Regina standards a whirlwind of high-octane thrills and nerve-jangling excitement. Again, memory and the displacement of time have turned it into something else, something cinematic, something sticky with romance - the deep-fried smells, the muggy summer nights all lit up with carnival lights, the chaotic din of the little Midway, and of course the clunky, rusty old rides that have all slowly disappeared over the years, replaced with shorter, more intense, and charmless "experiences" like the "Chevron Rip Your Face Off-A-Whirl" or the "Panasonic Volcano Sky-Blast Explodo-roller."
Royal Saskatchewan Museum - I'm not sure what makes it so regal, but this tiny little marble wonder enthralled me no end as a kid; every summer I'd have to take another tour. Plus, on a sizzling prairie day, they had the strongest air-conditioning in town. But it was the Natural History/Life Sciences wing that captivated me, not so much for its elky and pelicany content, but more for the big life-size dioramas that contained them. I suppose to a budding creative noodle it was a "how did they do that?" kind of fascination, and it's weird to go back years later and see the same pumas and badgers forever frozen in their little half 3-d, half 2-d worlds.
Leslie Nielsen was born in Regina in 1926. There are 143 public monuments to him scattered tastefully throughout the city, all made of concrete. Don't call him Shirley.
A current internet meme is “Four Neat Things about my Home Town”.
This is great for people from big cities and cool places, but my home town is a tiny speck on the tiny coastline of a tiny state, and I haven’t been back there in about 2 decades. These days I think it’s a bedroom community for people who work in Boston; in the 70’s it was a small, pretty New Hampshire town which grew exponentially between the 4th of July and Labor Day, with most of the local economy based on tourism. It was a bizarrely black and white existence, with the beach pretty much deserted overnight after the end of the season. All I could find to write about was murder, ghosts, and demolished buildings…you really can’t go home again.
Famous Bad Girl: The Pamela Smart case began at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton where Pamela met her 15 year old boyfriend, who later killed her husband at her request. Their sordid story was the basis for the movie “To Die For”. I saw this movie in Seattle and was the only person in the audience who laughed at the opening shot of the town sign reading “Welcome to Little Hope, New Hampshire". I guess you had to have lived there.
Awesome Motel Name: “Pinky Villa”. Ok, it didn’t stay “Pinky Villa” after my parents bought it in the early ‘70’s, and it didn’t stay pink either, but it’s still my all time favorite motel name. And yes, I have heard all the “Motel New Hampshire” jokes, thanks.
Hampton Playhouse: next door to our motel, a summer stock theater overrun by crazy New York actors. I grew up watching dress rehearsals for “farces” and classic plays, with practice sometimes happening on the lawn under my bedroom window. Lots of soap opera and minor movie stars summered there, and it was quite a contrast from the staid New England neighbors most of my friends had. I learned what “shrimping” was at the age of 10.
Official Witch/Ghost: New England is lousy with horrible stories of people (mostly women) jailed, tortured and/or killed as “witches”. Hampton’s version was Goody Cole.
I know of Gold Chains because my old friend Jibz was part of the band for a while. It's not the type of thing I normally listen to but I was glad I got turned on to them. It's kind of dumb but totally smart, loud, obnoxious, fun to listen to. Amazon describes Gold Chains thusly: "Gold Chains music is an almost indescribable circus of sounds, bridging the gap between electro and punk, techno and glam-rock, and all the sounds within. A cult hero in the making, offering up a whole new game altogether, Gold Chains just might save us all."
Look what I got in the mail last week! I adore this little guy!
The lovely and talented Sara Lanzillotta made this gorgeous creature; I'm pretty sure there is nothing that girl can't make in her magical studio. Check out her site for upcoming shows and information on where she sells her amazing work.
Like most of the rest of the world, I can't wait for the release of "Snakes on a Plane". Who can resist such a title? Can you?
Over on BoingBoing today they've got something called "Snakes on a Girl". Well chuh! It doesn't even rhyme! I give a big "Whatever" to Snakes on a Girl. Here for your amusement (and fresh from my kitchen table) is SNAKES ON A BRAIN!