A Weekend with Cal-Gary

Went to Calgary last weekend to see my buddy Gary.

As per usual, we did a lot of thrifting and ate a lot of good food.

Also did a lot of walking with this fella.

Quincy (left) & Gary

On Friday night we went to a huge book sale at a curling rink.

Undoubtedly the biggest book sale I’ve ever been to. Softcovers for $1, hardcovers $2 and up. I guess the books were donated by CBC listeners/viewers. Lots of bestsellers but also some rarer stuff, including a first edition Hemmingway (The Old Man and the Sea, I think) that they were asking big bucks for. I feel for the poor sap who unknowingly gave it away.

There were rivers of books. I didn’t buy anything, but Gary picked up some sci-fi paperbacks and a few other things.

Saturday morning on our way to brunch we hit a garage sale I noticed the day before that looked like it might be interesting.

It seemed to be stuff from a gift or home decor store – a lot of those touristy wood carvings from Thailand or Indonesia or wherever (elephant marionettes, frogs with umbrellas type of thing) but there was also some cool vintage stuff at pretty good prices.

Gary really wanted to buy one (or even all) of these fedoras, if only they fit.

He bought this vase, marked “Jasba” for his uncle, whose collection of West German ceramics is taking over his whole house.

He also bought this unpainted Russian nesting doll. I know he’ll do something cool with it (he mentioned robots as a possibility).

Brunch was at a diner called Dairy Lane in the residential West Hillhurst neighbourhood. I had this protein overdose called the Triple Double which consists of 3(!) poached eggs, Hutterite bacon, two kinds of sausage and slabs of multigrain toast. Everything local (except the orange, of course).

Gary had the granola-crusted French toast

knuckle sandwich, anyone?

and got annoyed with my paparazzi ways.

At another garage sale, I picked this rotary dial phone out of the free box. I don’t know why, but I’ve been wanting one lately.  I hooked it up (at home, not in my car), and to my surprise, it works just fine – but it takes forever to dial a 10-digit number.

[Silly me, forgot to take pictures at Inner Sleeve]

At The Inner Sleeve, a record store near Gary’s house, they had 3,000 records from CBC Calgary. CBC has been divesting itself of its music libraries across the country – shortsighted and sad. In Edmonton, they donated the records to Goodwill (see my previous posts) but in Calgary they sold them to record dealers. There was some very nice vinyl that I was interested in, but not at record store prices ($15 to $40 per).

I was most intrigued by this album, by 60s Canadian pop group The Sugar Shoppe (I stole this image from the internets. Sorry). The dandy in the green suit second from the left is Victor Garber, star of Broadway (Sweeney Todd…), movies (Godspell, Exotica, Titanic…), and television (Alias…). This was The Sugar Shoppe’s only album. As you can tell from the clip below, they were more than a little influenced by The Mamas & The Papas.

Their version of Canada’s 1967 Centennial song (“Ca-Na-Da”) delights me a lot – so different from the official version.

ah! wilderness

For supper we met a couple of Gary’s friends at trendy Char|cut roast house – described as “urban rustic cuisine”. I’ve been wanting to go here for a while, though I thought it might be the kind of place where you can drop a lot of bucks and still leave hungry. No worries though – it lived up to its considerable buzz.

This was the star of the evening for me – tender pork belly on a bed of cheesy hominy grits with nettles and tiny fiddleheads. Oh my yes.

Not a fan of most poutine, but this one was outstanding (the secret ingredient is duck fat).

Edwin devours his cheesecake in a jar.

The only disappointment for me was the dessert. The pineapple upside down cake was too dense and bland. The best part was the scoop of coconut gelato. Gary’s milk chocolate mousse was a much better choice (did not  taste Edwin’s cheesecake).

Tea (lavender Earl Grey – very manly) came in this porcelain glazed cast iron teapot.

mutant cow?

Somewhere between Gary’s and the dog park is this house with an amazing ski fence (in the Altadore neighbourhood, if you’re looking).

Pretty crazy, no?

On Sunday we went to the Rogers video store where they’re clearing out DVDs – buy 1 get two free. It was down to the dregs, but even so there was some worthwhile stuff. This is my stack:

I’ve seen most of these but I’m looking forward to watching Funkytown for the first time (about the disco years in Montreal) and the 40th anniversary edition of Face Off (the 1971 Hockeysploitation movie – not the John Travolta film), which includes the SCTV parody as a bonus.

Gary’s pile (note that he also picked up Face Off).

Sunday backyard barbeque

On Monday I picked up Mr. Bali Hai at a for-profit thrift store. My best tiki mug score in many months.

Yes, he’s ugly and probably culturally insensitive, but I love him.

Before leaving town on Monday, I went for lunch with Gary and his uncle to a Jewish deli in the warehouse district called Gruman’s.

Gary & Uncle Laurie

Montreal smoked meat sandwich. So good.

Lox and cream cheese.

And that’s my story.

Good times.

Tower of Tetris

I was walking around Old Strathcona last week and the afternoon light falling on the tower of the Varscona Theatre made it pop against the cloudless blue sky. I really wanted to take a picture, which often happens when I don’t have my camera with me (will I never learn this lesson?).

I returned a few days later to take these pictures. The new Varscona Theatre (as opposed to the old Varscona, which was a movie theatre that has since been torn down), was originally Fire Hall Number 6. The tower was used for drying fire hoses. The Walterdale Theatre, across the street, was the original Fire Hall Number 6 (and that’s your Edmonton history lesson for today).

As I was snapping pictures in the alley behind the theatre, my friend Mark Moose came out the back door of his store on Whyte Ave. to empty the trash.

Mark Moose

We got to talking about the tower’s new paint job which we both admire. Mark said reminded him of a Tetris game. He also called it “iconic.” He told me it was painted by Ian Mulder who is also responsible for several murals around town, including this one of Joey Moss on 99th Street.

The alley between Whyte Avenue and 83rd Street is full of colour, including this (sanctioned) graffiti: