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Yukon Bound: Teeny Boppers and The Great North

The music was seizure inducing. A high-pitch squeal triggered by a DJ wearing a mouse-head. Or triggered by one of his laptops, at least. As intolerable as this was, it got worse when the faux hip hop singer girl started her nasal lip-syncing:

Drop you like a needle on the record, scratch my itch
Watch you walk in circles, hit the beat
Drop you like a needle on the record, scratch my itch
Watch you walk in circles, hit the beat

And repeat. And repeat. (Think I’m exaggerating? Watch this.)
The scene was a “concert” in Vancouver a few weeks ago. Why was I here with two of my friends? To quote Bill Murray, we were on a vacation from our problems. The question running through my head at the moment, however, was when did I get so old?
Don’t get me wrong, the music and overall gestalt of the show were ghastly. This was a DeadMau5 concert in a fairgrounds building. My buddy aptly described the venue as an aging VFW hall. The average concertgoer, who was probably 16 years old, was not fazed by the $50 tickets or the fact that it was a dry show.
More importantly, the music was godawful. Could the teeny-boppers not see this indisputable fact? The rave/electronic music scene used to be so cool, back in 1998 at least. This was a pale imitation, at best, with braindead beats and a singer in Cyndi Lauper get-up going all “my milkshake is better than yours.” Compare that to the excellent Parisian DJ I saw back in 2000, in a cave in Rome. No shit. Or ’90s Underworld.
Oh right, the Canuck ravers were 5 when I went to that show, which they would’ve hated at 16, too. Hell, the Italian kids did hate it. And Deadmau5’s ilk weren’t even born when Trainspotting was in the theaters.
“What’s up Vancouver?!”
As much as I hate to admit it, I suppose music is in the ear of the beholder. No, fuck that, DeadMau5 is a poseur.
So again, why did I travel to Vancouver for an awful concert? It sure as hell wasn’t convenient, or cheap. The short answer is a buddy of mine needed some guy time, and went with the ruse of a big show we had to hit, in a land far, far away. A couple of us answered the call, and dropped the coin to cross the border. We needed the guy time, too.
A highlight was my conversation with the Canadian customs agent.

“Vancouver’s a long trip from D.C. for a three-day visit. You say you’re here for a concert? Which one?”
“DeadMau5, I think. I’m not really into that scene, though.”
“So why are you here?”
“To visit a couple buddies.”
“Oh, they live in Vancouver?”
“No, D.C. and Denver.”
“Uhh, okay, are they here to meet you at the airport, and where are you staying?”
“I don’t know and … I don’t know.”

I narrowly avoided a strip search, and my friends were indeed at the airport, with a bottle of Alberta rye whiskey to greet me. We downed it in a quaint little park across the street from the terminal. Alberta makes a mean rye, but I recommend avoiding brands that come in plastic bottles, like this one.
It’s not like we had anything serious to escape. The weekend’s chief proponent works way too hard, and made the jump from NYC to the Denver suburbs a few years ago. My D.C. pal’s new girlfriend was moving — long distance loomed. And it was another job change for me, with a possible move to the ‘burbs to boot. Ouch.
So there we were. The day of the show we climbed a mini-mountain with about 5,000 other people. The Grouse Mountain “Grind” is a bit of a tradition in the ‘Couver, apparently. We may have underestimated it. The 2.9-kilometer hike features a 2,800-foot increase in elevation.
Nothing brings home your physique’s slide like gasping for air while little kids and obese tourists fly past you on a hike. When we finally got to the top I had to buy a cheap fleece because I was completely drenched in sweat.
But the views from up there got us thinking of escape. Vancouver wasn’t far enough — we needed to drive north.
The next day we did. There aren’t too many roads leading deeper into British Columbia. It’s an exotic concept for an East Coaster — the end of civilization, kind of.
The scenery was absurd. Snow-capped mountains rising out of pearly-green water. The road was twisty, so we hit it with as much gusto as our Zipcar could muster. And the air — amid a nightmarishly hot summer out East, we were loving the 60 degrees.
Nothing clears my head like hitting the road into what feels like the wilderness. It wasn’t really, of course. We got to Whistler, an opulent ski resort, after 100 or so clicks and had a few beers. Lots of extreme sports kids were there, and a Deadmau5 t-shirt or two.
But what was farther north? The Yukon. Alaska. Could we drive there?
A plan was hatched. My buddy could drive his Land Rover up from Denver, then we could provision that rig with gas cans, camping grub, arctic gear and a pistol or two. Fire up the GPS and go see the Northern Lights. Nothing and nobody around us for miles, except for mountains, wild-open spaces and grizzlies. How deep into the Yukon could those logging roads take us? Maybe here?
All we’d need is three weeks or so. Hell, we could even bring our iPods, fully loaded, and listen to music from back in the day, when it was still cool. The soundtrack might sound like this.
Seriously. Let’s find some time next year and do it.
Then we downed our beers and headed back to the Sheraton. A red eye was next.
The following workweek wasn’t so fun. I picked up a stomach bug on the plane. As a lame-duck in my gig, it was hard to motivate. The hours clicked by, slowly.
Then I remembered the Internet. Google Earth is so cool, man. You can click on that little yellow man and drag him anywhere! I started at Whistler and scrolled and scrolled, looking at street views along that gorgeous highway.
Civilization thinned out before too long, and soon it was just messy-looking asphalt, veering along the jagged majesty of the Great North. I followed that road for hours, all the way to the goddamn end.

One response to “Yukon Bound: Teeny Boppers and The Great North”

  1. llxt llxt says:

    The only thing that beats a road trip is finally making it home. Oh, and Google maps. Often, that totally beats a road trip. ha ha.

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