After his short nap Rick poured himself a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. He took a quick shower, packed his duffle bag and got into his old Ford. In less than twenty minutes he arrived at The St. Vital Arena. As soon as he got his head through the front doors Rick caught the bracing smell of ice and an indoor hockey arena. He always found the odor exhilarating and it immediately forced Rick to take on the identity of Rick Miller, the St. Vital Cougars star goalie. In an indoor hockey arena Rick could forget that he was just a kid who was taking four years to complete high school, or someone who could not hold down a factory job. Here he was famous and was a force to be reckoned with. It was somewhat like Clark Kent changing his clothes in a phone booth to emerge as Superman.
It had not always been this way. Four years ago, he had a coach in midget hockey that Rick didn’t particularly care for. His former coach Whit Chandler would always blame his team’s losses on Rick’s poor performance in goal. Whit told Rick that he let in far too many soft goals.
Whit wanted his team to capture a play-off spot and couldn’t see how this goal would be achieved with Rick’s continuing substandard performance. The coach had a Plan B. Without Rick’s knowledge Whit had asked one of the team’s defensemen if he would replace Rick in goal for the next game. The defenseman, Nick Robertson, told his coach that he was up to the challenge. Nick had played goal in a few scrub games and figured that he wouldn’t have much difficulty playing goal in an organized hockey game.
During the first period Nick made a couple of good saves. This caused him to become overconfident and he became a bit of a show off. As a result, Nick would stray way too far out of his net and this tactic caused the Cougar’s opponents to score two quick goals. A few minutes later Nick bobbled a long easy shot from center ice and the Cougars were now down three goals. Whit had seen enough. His experiment had ended in disaster. The Cougar’s own fans were now heckling Nick and were calling for the coach to put Rick in goal. Some of the fans were even throwing their garbage at Nick. Nick truly looked relieved when Whit signalled for him to leave the goal to be replaced by Rick. Rick played competently enough during the rest of the game and the Cougars managed to finish the game with a 3-3 tie.
Back in the 1960s the highlight of my week was going to the River Heights Community Club or Champlain Community Club. This was where was when I was 18 years old. We were very fortunate in that there were many good local rock bands that would perform at various community club centres on a Saturday evening. Mostly these bands played cover versions of the latest hit singles on the radio. Some of the famous rock bands of that time were the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Beatles, the Animals, Paul Revere and the Raiders and several others that I cannot recall at this time.
Most of the local groups both covered the songs of these world-famous bands and might play one of their own locally recorded original singles. The band, Next, for example had a hit record with their version of Tobacco Road. The Guess Who would often perform their own recent singles including songs like His Girl and Flying on the Ground is Wrong. Some of the local bands that I remember following were the Guess Who, the Cordells, Next, the Fifth, Chopping Block, the Next Amendment. The Pallbearers and several more that I can’t remember offhand.
“Not that many people know that I read a lot. As I just found out you and I have very similar interests. Look, Rick I really want to get to know you a lot better. Why don’t I give you a call tomorrow? Maybe we can go out for lunch. Right now, let me introduce you to some people at the party. I’d say let’s go talk to Peyton and Sabrina, but it looks like they are busy holding court right now.
Rick really enjoyed the rest of the evening, He thought that several of Misty’s friends were cool. People kept going over to Peyton’s record collection and put on their favorite albums. The record that got the most play was Led Zeppelin II. Although the music critics of rock journalism didn’t give the album very positive reviews, the people attending the party seemed to love it. The new Led Zeppelin LP got by far the most plays. Rick especially enjoyed the songs, Heartbreaker and Bring it on Home. As Rick smoked one of his Old Port Colts, he thought about how much his social life had picked up in one day. He agreed to have lunch with Misty at The Red Top Restaurant. He was so excited about it and the way his whole day had played out, that he knew he wouldn’t get much sleep tonight, but being only eighteen years old Rick knew he’d still feel great in the morning.
After the party ended Rick and Misty got a ride home from Misty’s friend Carol. Misty actually kissed Rick goodnight which surprised but pleased him to no end.
Rick was right. He didn’t get home until near 3:00 AM but he only managed a couple of hours sleep until he needed to get up to ready himself for hockey practise. This was Rick’s third year playing for The St. Vital Cougars. He didn’t play very well during last year’s play off run, and he still felt bad about it. Last season Rick felt more stressed than a seventeen- year- old should have to be.
He had a very demanding coach who expected his team to win every game even if it was only an exhibition contest. Coach Reynolds would often yell at his players when they made a mistake or didn’t play up to his expectations. Rick often took the brunt of his coach’s wrath as he was the Cougar’s number one goalie and was often blamed if his team lost a game. Rick would burn with shame and humiliation whenever he was publicly called out by his coach. Rick had a very sensitive temperament and would be upset for days after a loss. He never questioned his coach or his tactics. The truth was that Coach Reynolds terrified him and he would have quit the team if he wasn’t so afraid of what the coach would do to him as a consequence. The amazing thing was that most of the team remained loyal to their coach. despite the emotional abuse. The one thing that could not be denied was that Coach Reynolds always produced a competitive hockey team.
The band had two vehicles to load up their equipment. Chevy Kurtain, of course, had a Chevy van from which his name was derived. Peyton Ramparts had borrowed his dad’s white Ford Galaxie. Rick helped load most of the group’s gear into the van. The remainder of the musical equipment was loaded into the back seat and trunk of the white Ford Galaxie.
Rick rode shotgun along with Peyton.
“Wow, I had no idea you could play guitar like that,” Rick said. “Your band really put the crowd over tonight.”
“Thanks man. I was getting good vibes from the audience too,” Peyton said. “It always feels good when you feel rewarded for your work. I mean Winter Dreams has been practising two to three times a week for the last three months. Our sound is really coming together. We’re hoping to record a record soon as soon as I finish writing some original material for the band. Vance and I usually team up to write the songs. The stuff we’ve come up with already sounds pretty good.”
“How are you going to get your music recorded?” Peyton asked.
“Chevy’s dad works at CKRC radio station. He has made some good connections with the deejays. One of them said he would see if we could do some recording at the radio station.”
The boys noticed that it had started snowing heavily and that the wind had really picked up.
“I was listening to the radio at home and the forecast warned of a possible blizzard this weekend,” Rick said.
“It’s starting to look like the station’s weather predictions were right,” Peyton said. “I’m just glad that the bad weather held off until after our gig.”
Peyton had the windshield wipers going at their fastest speed, but his visibility was still poor. Rick enjoyed the winter season, even the snowstorms. He liked shovelling snow at his house. Rick loved to watch the snow pouring down under the amber glow of the street lamps.
Within ten minutes Peyton’s car and Chevy’s van made it to Peyton’s place. Rick helped Peyton unload his car. He noticed that it was presently very cold with the added wind chill. His fingers were starting to freeze. The band had to be very careful unloading their gear as the ground underneath them was now quite slick. Ice patches were covered by the new snowfall and it was impossible to predict where the slippery spots were.
As the boys finished loading the last of their equipment into Peyton’s house, a red Buick parked in front of the house and several people started getting out of the large car. Among the passengers Rick could see his neighbor, Misty.
When Rick and the band arrived at Peyton’s place they headed down to his parent’s finished rec room. They were greeted at the door by Peyton’s parents, Stan and Ruth Ramparts. Peyton’s parents were very cool people. They got married at a very young age and both smoked marijuana. Stan and Ruth were very proud of their son and were very supportive of his musical aspirations. They were unlike most parents, as they listened when young people talked to them. They were a happy that Peyton’s group and his friends liked to practise and hang out at their place. They reasoned that this way they knew what Peyton was up to most of the time.
Every successful band has fans, groupies and hangers- on and Winter Dreams were no exception. Young people felt that they were hipper and higher up on the social scale if they were considered to be intimates of a well- known popular band.
Misty arrived with a carload of the privileged Winter Dreams insiders. To Misty, being cool was everything and she always needed to be where the action was.
Both beer and weed were in abundance at this after gig party. These post concert get gatherings somewhat resembled the press conferences that professional athletes would have after they played a game. Many of the group’s friends and followers would comment on the highlights of the bands performance and would ask questions about song choices.
Misty sat cross legged on a beige colored carpet and turned her head to look at Rick who appeared to be very relaxed sitting on a burgundy sofa.
She was very surprised to see Rick but thought about her last contact with him. About a month ago she was taking the bus home when she spotted Rick seated about halfway down the length of the bus. Misty asked Rick if she could sit in the open seat beside him. Rick was also surprised to run into Misty and felt rather honored that she wanted to sit beside him. She felt bad for both Rick and her sister, Sasha when they broke up, but she had to admit to herself that she found Rick to be very attractive. Rick and Misty had a friendly, lively conversation during their bus ride home.
Vance Chessler stepped up to his mic stand and said, “Thank you so much people. We’ve had a blast playing for you guys tonight and we only have time for one more song. What do you people want to hear?”
An attractive big breasted blonde wearing a blue and white striped tee-shirt and skin-tight jeans yelled out, “Play ‘Gloria.’
“Ah, an oldie but a goodie. A wise choice my sweet young thing,” said Vance. “’Gloria’ it shall be and because you guys have been so good to Winter Dreams tonight, Peyton’s going to play a fantastic guitar solo that will be included in the middle this song.”
When the band finished playing ‘Gloria’, the small but crowded and sweaty audience began clapping their hands, whistling, stomping their feet and screaming, “More! More!” Vance looked exhausted, but he turned around to the band to check if they could do one more song. They nodded their consent.
“You are too kind, but if it is okay with the custodian, we’ll do one more song.” Vance looked at Jack, the heavy set custodian who yelled, “Go ahead guys. Five minutes longer isn’t going to kill me.”
Vance said, “You know guys, around 1965-66, there was a show band that we really loved called Paul Revere and the Raiders. We’d like to do their first big hit, ‘Louie, Louie.”
With that, Peyton hit the first three chords to start the band off. Even though the hour was growing late the kids took to the dance floor with wild abandon, each doing their own thing while perspiring profusely. A line of boys stood up a few feet from the band wishing that they were one of the guys performing on stage.
When the song was over Peyton picked up a towel to dry off his perspiration and walked towards Rick,
“Well, what did you think of my band?”
“You guys are fantastic,” Rick said.
“Thanks. I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. What if you help Jack with sweeping and carrying the trash outside? After the band is finished packing up our gear we’ll all go over to my place and have a few beers.”
After his family had finished supper Rick told them about his plans for the evening.
“I met two very interesting people today, a couple named Peyton and Sabrina. Peyton plays guitar in a local rock band and I was invited to see them play tonight at Maplewood Community Center. The doors open at 7:30 PM so I have to leave right now to make it there on time.”
His parents told him that they hoped he would have a good time this evening. They were pleased to hear that Rick had made some new friends as Rick didn’t socialize very much. They often worried about the amount of time Rick spent on his studies at school and his hockey obligations. His parents were becoming concerned that Rick might crash under the pressure.
Rick walked the five blocks to Maplewood Community Center. As he was in good physical condition from playing hockey, he was able to keep up a fast pace. When he arrived, he saw that there was already a crowd of about ten people waiting for the doors to open. Rick concluded that Peyton’s band, Winter Dreams must be very popular.
When the doors to the club opened, even more people had arrived to see the band. Many young people were already lighting up their first cigarette of the evening. The houselights were still up while Winter Dreams set up their equipment. While checking how his Gibson Les Paul guitar sounded plugged into his Marshall amplifier, Peyton turned around to see Rick in the audience. He waved at Rick and said, “Hey man. Glad you could make it. Sabrina’s helping set up the canteen.”
‘Thanks for inviting me. I love to hear live bands. I’ll go over to the canteen area and say ‘Hello’ to Sabrina.
After a few minutes Peyton gave a thumbs up sign to the community club custodian. This was the signal to dim the house lights. Within seconds the community club’s halls, walls and floors reverberated with the heavily amplified sounds emanating from the band’s Marshall amplifiers. Winter Dreams lead vocalist evoked the sensual moan that opened Whole Lotta Love, the first track on the second LP released by Led Zeppelin. Winter Dreams lead singer Vance Chessler was blessed with the same physical attractiveness and sexual appeal of Led Zeppelin’s front man, Robert Plant. He also possessed a voice that was eerily close to Plant’s. Peyton was a very proficient lead guitarist and had easily mastered the basic guitar riff to Whole Lotta Love. Some of the audience were already dancing or otherwise moving their bodies in rhythm with the pounding repetitious beat that was greatly enhanced by the deep thundering notes played by bassist Chevy Raines. The group’s drummer, Pick Harding tried hard to simulate the sonorous beat maintained by his hero, drummer John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.
For many of the students of Maplewood Collegiate the weekly canteens were the highlight of their weekends. There would sometimes be a house party or two to attend after the community center closed at 11:30 PM. Some of the attendees would imbibe a couple of drinks and maybe share a joint before the canteen opened.
This evening was no exception. One young male was already intoxicated when he arrived at the community center. As he staggered backwards, he almost knocked over a burly looking fellow who greatly took exception to this action. The big, heavy-set dude landed a perfect shot to the chin of the inebriated teenager who had accidently bumped into him. The altercation ended right there as the victim of the assault was too drunk to get up and defend himself.
After his last class of the afternoon was over Rick headed home. It was about a three block walk from Maplewood Collegiate to his home. There was a light snowfall. While the snowflakes landed on the branches of the trees Rick revelled in the beauty of the winter scene. The sun was shining and this added to Rick’s aesthetic joy. He loved the snow and he loved the winter season. He even liked the crunching sound that his boots made when they pressed down into the snow on the sidewalk.
As it was a Friday with the weekend to look forward to, Rick had a spontaneous idea. He would walk to the neighborhood library and look for something to read when he got some free time on the weekend. Very few people knew how much Rick loved books and libraries. It was just a few blocks out of his way to the local branch of The Winnipeg Public Library.
When Rick arrived at the library he stomped his feet on the red carpet at the entrance. He was careful not to bring any snow into the library. As soon as he stepped inside Rick was overtaken by the captivating scent of books. He had very acute sensory perceptions. These senses would either produce a positive or negative emotional responses in Rick. The special odor that one encountered only in libraries always gave Rick’s spirits a lift.
He had developed am interest in a wide variety of topics. The subjects that Rick liked to explore included history, literature, politics and psychology. His pattern was to study a specific topic for about a month at a time. Over the summer months Rick had become engrossed in the topic of current political, social and cultural changes that were presently taking place in The United States. He devoured the pages of the new underground magazine, Rolling Stone. Rick not only found the stories to be fascinating. He loved the look and smell of Rolling Stone as it was a magazine that looked and smelled like a newspaper.
As Rick entered the main foray of the library he was greeted by Denise Carr, the librarian. Rick had been to this branch of the library so many times that Denise knew Rick by name.
“So what are we looking for today Rick?” the attractive thirty-five-year-old brunette asked.
Rick answered in a distracted manner, “I’m not sure yet. I’ll probably be checking out the new releases. I want to see if I can find anything on the cultural revolution happening in the States.”
“You’re such an intellectual, Rick. I’ll have a look myself to see what I can come up with,” Denise said.
It didn’t take Rick long to find the case that contained the new releases. Over the summer Rick had read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Although Rick was on the university entrance track at Maplewood Collegiate he would often be intrigued by what the students in the general course stream were reading as part of their prescribed curriculum. Rick discovered that he liked the novels in the general course better than he liked his university entrance novels. Classic novels like The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World intrigued him. As far as nonfiction choices went Rick was drawn to any books that dealt with the burgeoning nineteen-sixties counter- culture.
As Rick checked out the new releases. he found a book written by one of his favorite authors, Norman Mailer. He eagerly picked up Mailer’s new book, The Armies of the Night.
As Rick moved onto the regular book stacks he noticed that he had lost track of the time. He realized that he would be late for supper if he didn’t leave the library soon.
Rick looked up to check the time on the library’s clock. It read 5:03 PM. Rick put on his parka and black toque and headed out the front door of the library. The wind was strong and it felt to Rick that it must be at least twenty below zero. He pulled out a cigarette from the side pocket of his parka and attempted to light it with a pack of matches, As the wind was high Rick moved close to the wall of the library and tried cupping his hands around the cigarette and matches. It took Rick three tries to successfully light his Rothman’s cigarette.
It was already dark outside when Rick left the library. He knew that he would have to keep up a quick pace to keep warm on his five block walk to his parents’ house. The street lights were already turned on and Rick liked how they reflected off the snowbanks next to the sidewalk.
When Rick arrived at his house, he saw his father sitting on his favorite sofa reading the paper. He heard his mother calling from the kitchen. “Supper’s ready. Let’s get moving to the dining room.”
Rick and his dad immediately walked towards the dining room. They both knew how frustrated Mrs. Miller could get if her family waited too long before they got up for their meals. Rick’s mother was in her early fifties and still retained an attractive figure. She continued to wear her dark brown hair long as that was what her husband wanted. Rick was the eldest of the Miller children. He had a younger brother named David and an even younger sister called Beth.
As the family passed the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and peas down the line Rick was deep in thought. When he passed a bowl of peas over to his father, he was reminded of the dreadful experience he had over the summer working at his dad’s printing plant. His father had tried to help Rick out by hiring him as summer help. Who knows? If things had worked out for Rick, he might still be working at the printing plant today.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out. Rick was just not cut out to be a blue collar, factory worker. He was not well coordinated and had great difficulty performing most manual labor tasks especially those that required fine motor skills or spatial reasoning. No matter what tasks his foreman assigned to him Rick could not get the hang of it and performed poorly on these jobs. Rick worked with a small crew of other young adults who laughed at Rick and berated him as he struggled with his assignments. They told him that they could train a monkey to do his job. After three frustrating and humiliating days on the job Rick told his father that he was quitting his job. He told his dad why he was resigning and apologized if he had embarrassed his father. His dad was very understanding and was not really surprised by Rick’s decision to leave his position.
I will most likely be writing several blog posts on the life and work of Alice Cooper. There is so much that can be said about Alice Cooper, real name Vincent Fournier, the son of a Baptist preacher. I will start somewhere in the middle of Alice’s musical and theatrical career. During his time with the original band, Alice was a serious alcoholic. What he fully realized that if he did not get help, he would be very likely to die of the disease of alcoholism. I believe that Alice checked himself into at mental health/substance abuse program. To make a long story short, he was able to achieve the state of sobriety.
There was an unintended. secondary benefit for Alice in that by getting to know his fellow clients, he found they provided him with an abundance of new material for his upcoming album titled From the Inside. His friends at the rehab facility provided him with lots of interesting life stories that he could incorporate into original new songs.
Winter Dreams (the Continuing Adventures of Rick Miller)
A Sequel to Summer Dreams
Rick Miller was sitting alone in a booth at The Red Top Restaurant. The year was 1969 and it was a cold, windy December morning in the Canadian prairies. He had just arrived as his geography class at Maplewood Collegiate ended. It only took him a few minutes to walk across the street from the high school to the restaurant. He lit up a Rothmans cigarette and began to daydream about Sasha, his former summer love. He had to admit that he missed her now that all was said and done, but he was beginning a new chapter of his life. Shirley, the waitress approached his booth.
“What will it be today Rick, the usual?”
“Yep, my favorite. Hot chocolate,” Rick answered with a smile.
Rick figured that Shirley was in her mid-forties. She had gained a bit of weight over the years, but was still relatively attractive for someone her age. Rick noticed that Shirley had a short pinky finger on her right hand. The finger must have been amputated, but Rick didn’t allow his curiosity over-ride his impeccable good manners. He had never asked Shirley about what happened to her finger.
Rick’s high school was just across the street from The Red Top. Just as Shirley brought Rick his hot chocolate someone walked in the door of the restaurant. The new customer was a very thin young man roughly Rick’s age. He had long, dirty, unkempt strawberry blond hair. He stopped in front of Rick’s booth and asked if he could join him. Rick was a little surprised as had never seen this fellow before, but he motioned for him to sit down.
“Thanks for letting me join you, man. My name is Peyton Ramparts. I have a spare this period and felt like I needed a cup of java. I was up until two in the morning last night. My band had a really bitchin’ good practise.”
Peyton wore a long black coat with gold striping on the side. It looked like he could have stolen it from Jimi Hendrix.
“What’s your band’s name?” Rick asked.
“Winter Dreams,” Peyton answered. “Hey man can I bum a smoke off you?”
“Yeah, no problem. I hope you like Rothmans. I smoke whatever brand my dad is smoking at the time.”
Peyton started to laugh as he pulled out a cigarette from Rick’s pack.
“How did you come up with the name Winter Dreams for your band?”
“I can’t remember for sure. A guy from my band came up with it during a break from practise. We were all passing around a joint at the time while looking out the living room window. All I remember is watching a heavy snowfall. Then Pick said, “This is sort of like a winter dream and Chevy said that it sounded like a great name for our band.”
Rick was just about ready to ask Peyton another question when both boys felt a sudden rush of cold air breeze through the restaurant. They both looked towards the door and saw a young attractive female come through the door.
“Sorry I’m late, Peyton. I had to ask Mr. Pierce for an extension on my research paper for history class. Who’s your friend?” the girl asked.
“I don’t know his name yet. We just met a few minutes ago. Peyton reached across the table to shake Rick’s hand. “Sorry I should have introduced myself first. I’m Peyton Ramparts.”
“And I’m Rick Miller.”
“Let me introduce you to my girlfriend, Sabrina Davis,” Peyton said as Sabrina slid right next to him on the booth.
“I think I’ve seen you at school Rick. You’re in grade twelve aren’t you? I hear people talking about you in the halls all the time. You’re the Cougars star goalie,” Sabrina said brushing some snow off her navy-blue coat.
“I don’t know if I’m a star, but I try to play my best for the team,” Rick responded with true humility.
Peyton was already starting to feel comfortable with Rick. He felt that he could trust Rick and be real with him. Rick was sensing the same thing about Peyton. They both had the feeling that they could be honest with one another.
“So how did your meeting with Mr. Pierce go? Is he going to give you an extension on your homework assignment?”
“Yeah, no problem. I told him about my grandmother moving into our house and that she needed me to do things for her. I told Mr. Pierce that my extra duties were causing me to get behind in my studies.”
“What did he say about that?” Rick asked as he put his cup of hot chocolate back on the table. He was starting to feel right at home with Peyton and Sabrina.
“Oh, he said that he understood and would give me an extra week to work on my paper. He said that there was a time in his life when his mother was very ill and he needed to help her out a lot. Of course, it also helps that I’m very cute. All the girls in my class have noticed the way that Mr. Pierce looks at us. He definitely has a thing going for young high school chicks,” Sabrina answered with a chuckle.
“You sure know how to play him,” Peyton said with a bit of admiration. He always felt that Sabrina was smarter than him. She certainly got much better grades in school than he did. Peyton had very little interest in school. He attended the minimum of his required courses basically to keep his parents off his case and to be with Sabrina.
“Rick, do you know that Peyton is in a band. He plays lead guitar as well as writing some original material for the band. His group is called Winter Dreams and one day they are going to make it big. Record a single and an album. The whole nine yards,” Sabrina said proudly.
“We’re not as great as Sabrina says, but we’re not bad for a group that’s only been together for six months. We’re playing a gig tonight at Maplewood Community Center. Why don’t you drop by and check us out, Rick?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s been a blast meeting you guys, but I have to get back to the school for my American history class.” Rick said as he put on his white down filled parka and got ready for a biting rush of cold winter air.