Hangover City-Fractured Old School-Shmorgs guitarist Peter Draper

The party’s over. Here we sit, post-Olympics, talk of legacy raging as the provincial government returns to the capital for further belt tightening, dickering with The Budget. It was a glorious party and I, to my surprise, swept up. Well, I had to watch the hockey, it’s in my DNA, being a Béliveau.  I do regret missing the revelry downtown after the Team Canada victory last night. It was an incredible game, with an astonishing sudden death goal by the Kid, Sidney Crosby, decidedly a once-in-a-lifetime event. No next time. Boo hoo. I once passed up a free ticket to see Nirvana, to attend the premiere of Tombstone. Gawd. How can I admit such a thing? My only excuse, I’m a serious film buff and by that point, had witnessed enough wasted, wailing rockers for two lifetimes.  “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” – Orson Welles. Hmm, I can’t remember who directed Tombstone, and see, I’m not even going to bother to Google it, but he, or she, was no poet. Oh, I have another excuse for screwing up; I just remembered I was pregnant, hormone-addled. I mean, more than usual.

Some people are smugly saying things like oh where are those pesky protesters now? Well, when I was at W2 for the Real Vancouver Writers Series last week we walked by the Olympics homeless tent village at 58 West Hastings Street, a protest, a squat on land owned by Concord Pacific which was to be used as a parking lot by Vanoc.

I don’t know what happened! We didn’t have homelessness when I was a kid. The first time I saw people living on the streets, in squalor was in Tijuana. I was shocked when I returned to Canada after ten years as an expatriate to find Vancouver city streets teeming with homeless people, just as vexing and complex a problem as San Francisco and New York’s’ lack of affordable housing. I used to hang out in the Downtown Eastside when I played in punk rock bands and it had long been a skid row—Hastings literally a skid road in the 1870s—and a tough neighbourhood frequented by miners, fishermen and loggers who blew their wages in its pubs and cheap hotels, evoked brilliantly by my friend, poet, novelist Peter Trower. We punks walked the streets, day or night with more to fear from bikers and greasers than the area residents. When I returned to the Vancouver in 1992 however it was as dangerous as the Nickel in Los Angeles or the Tenderloin in San Francisco, more third world than seedy. I don’t understand how there are billions lying around for Olympics infrastructure while the BC Liberals prepare to slip us the HST (raise taxes), close schools and prepare for more slashing, this time 10 million from social programs. In any case, the tent city spot was strategically selected, the protest peaceful with pedestrian traffic—Olympics visitors and tourists—drawn to their campfire to visit and chat, all very friendly and civilized, as with a healthy democracy.

Speaking of protest, we were always rockin’ for or against something back in the day. A group of old school punk rockers—VDOC—are pulling together a Live Video Retrospective March 9 and screening Lenore Herb/Doreen Grey’s footage of a Rock Against Prisons benefit from 1979 which includes AKA, Rabid, Female Hands, Devices, Subhumans and my first band, the all-girl Zellots. Talk about a blast from the past and one that I’ve never seen! Despite some serious trepidation I am determined to have a good time and behave myself. There is talk of a panel, or an interview, to be web cast. I hope I can perform poetry from Three Blocks West of Wonderland, need to promote my new book as any excursion into the city has to be worthwhile, funds are tight.

Sigh. Why can’t we all just get along? Sadly, it seems the punk rockers that remain are fractured, not that we haven’t always been a lot of damaged wackos but it seems there are at least two camps-splinters-forming according to alliances and who is involved with which particular project. Our numbers are dwindling! It’s too bad we can’t work together, pool our resources, archives. Well, it appears VDOC’s mandate is to digitize Ms. Herb’s video footage, I will do whatever I can to help as I would endevour to help any comrades in punk rock.

I spoke to Rain Draper recently, my ex-boyfriend Peter Draper’s surviving brother, Peter tragically having succumbed to leukemia about five years ago. Peter used to play in the Mt. Lehman Grease Band and then the Shmorgs with fellow Cloverdalian Art Bergmann. He was also a brilliant engineer. We had a recording studio on Vancouver Island and I remember Art and the band coming over to record, playing stick hockey or soccer between takes. This was pre-punk of course but Peter made a lot of recordings including a Zellots demo. I’m hoping to find the master but it will be difficult as he wasn’t too organized and didn’t label stuff. We’re determined though, salvaging his tapes, work, will serve as a wonderful homage to Peter, his talent, contributions and his life.

2 thoughts on “Hangover City-Fractured Old School-Shmorgs guitarist Peter Draper

  1. Lovely sentiments. I don’t know about you, but I Am Dressing To The Nines on March 9th.

    Just so you know . . . we will be rooting for you to win the Grand Slam Poetryoke.


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