Saturday, May 12, 2018

Canadian Hall of Fame Dinner | Lefsetz Letter

“I watch what I eat and work out… I’ve been on Jenny Craig more than Mr. Craig.”

Paul Anka

Can you say that in the #MeToo era?

Speaking of eating, I forgot to tell you about the salt cod latkes.

We had lunch at Drake One Fifty, a jumping place, and when I saw the latkes on the menu…

I thought you had to be Jewish, your mother made them during Hanukkah, you waited for them all year. Latkes are potato pancakes, delivery systems for the applesauce and sour cream that accompany them. And my mom made them in the electric frying pan, a hit back in the sixties, just like Mr. Anka’s records.

They’re crunchy, and the sour cream adds smoothness and the applesauce adds sweetness and the cod…

I’ve never heard of cod in latkes before, must be a Great White North thing. You know, the land of Newfoundland and ice fishing and…I don’t really know, but I do know the cod are gone from the Cape, as in CAPE COD, but maybe their remaining relatives have moved to colder waters up north, but ANYWAY, these salt cod latkes were DELECTABLE! The cod added a bit of sourness to the concoction, I think I’ll eat them eight days a week!

Anyway, tonight I went to the Canadian Hall of Fame dinner.

Which is kind of funny, because if you’re not from Canada, it doesn’t quite add up. There was this dj from Montreal, which you pronounce “MUN-treal,” for those south of the border, and he worked at CHOM for forty years. Which made him seem old, until I realized I was already out of college, where we dialed in the station, when he signed on, which makes ME really old.

And my generation…

Music was everything, we had to be in the business.

Arcade Fire got the Slaight philanthropy award, which Gary Slaight gave and introduced, and you may not know he made a billion when he sold the family’s radio chain, which his dad started from scratch. That’s how much money used to be in the music business. We Ubered over to the hall, and I was thinking…what’s gonna happen to radio when we’re no longer behind the wheel? Kaput I tell you, terrestrial dies, it’s all about what’s on your phone.

And speaking of phones, I’m in the hall and I realize…

That’s what you’ve got to beat, that’s the new metric, ARE YOU BETTER THAN WHAT’S ON MY PHONE?

If not, I’m gonna surf, and don’t give me that crap about putting it down, you’re just not good enough. Go listen to your CDs, you’re living in the past. The phone is personalized, you can get that hit of dopamine any time you want, so if you’re not getting it from the stage…

So the Barenaked Ladies performed. And what I love about that act is their sense of humor. The problem with having hits in the past is too often the acts are stuck in the past, afraid to acknowledge time has changed. But it has, and Ed Robertson reflected upon now.

But the best musical performance, other than the one by Mr. Anka, was by the Pursuit of Happiness. Yes, they did “I’m An Adult Now.”

Which they truly are.

First and foremost, they were really tight, seamless. You know that wall of guitar sound. And did you know a woman was one of the guitar players? Yup, way before her #MeToo time. And Moe Berg looks the same, except for some lines in his face, he’s an artist. Yup, the oldsters couldn’t help themselves, this was all they could be. Which means they still are, they’re not working for the bank.

And it’s the anti-hip-hop all we white boys used to like.

Thirty two years ago.

And the lyrics about being an adult now…

We’re sixty, not twenty, it’s mind-bending. We were there, and now we’re here. And the sound is fresh and ancient at the same time.

Kinda like Paul Anka.

Let’s be honest, this was an insider affair. People talked through performances, it’s hard to gain attention, but when Mr. Anka took the stage…

Michael Buble introduced him, well, because of the jokes, the sense of humor, you’re entitled to a personality.

But then Paul Anka…


It was cheesy and incredible all at the same time. He was a progenitor, and he’s still STANDING!

Yup, he gives his speech, which has got some laugh lines, i.e. the above, but when he was through he took the mic and…


Come on, this is a private gig, not for TV, evanescent. But Paul came with a full band, even a saxophone player. It was slick, the production levitated the whole room. It’s like we were earthbound previously, but now were jetted into outer space.

So he’s singing “My Way” and…

It still sounds like “My Way,” he’s seventy six, but he can still deliver.

And he’s elongating notes, getting us to sing along, doing false endings, and you can’t help but be drawn in, get in the spaceship with him.

This is the guy who predated the Beatles, who should have been wiped from the map, but he clawed his way back, not only by performing, but writing, forget “The Tonight Show,” he co-wrote “This Is It” with Michael Jackson!

Yes, he’s a hustler.

But, it’s like finding an aged relic, which has been alive, but out of sight. You remember that Vegas sound, before Celine, who Paul worked with, and Britney took over. When you wore a tux and you thrilled the graybeards who grew up with you, you made them young once again.

That’s what Anka did…



No comments: