Items: Observed / camera and radios (various), at a café in Okayama, Japan, Aug 2020
Bad Wougar is/was a hard rocking band in Vancouver BC with four fine gentleman who practised diligently in a room called the “the Den” which I’ve visited several times – occasionally playing some drums, especially extended jams to “Cortez the killer”. The name “Bad Wougar” came from a campfire myth about a dangerous animal which was a mix of a wolf and a cougar.
On a trail walk one day, I recorded a myth about the creature for the bands use and amusement. They then invited me into the glorious brand-new Monarch Studio (which has an origin story to share another time) to record a few snippets from the riff for the songs. In all, my voice/words appear in two tracks on this final release which was distributed on CD with a paper gatefold cover (i have 2, Mac Kobayashi has 1).
For the record, released: February 28, 2014 (noting this was a high point in an otherwise tough tough year). As mentioned, the four members of the band (including a non-related Olson) were each fantastically kind, interesting fellas as well as quality musicians and it’s a privilege to know them.
So it goes, folks have other commitments and adventures in life so they don’t play anymore but I hope this CD/album is more widely distributed in future / Kind of band that would be big in Europe.
… every time I sling this album on the stereo I can’t but feel like I’ve been transported to a wood-panelled backwoods bar where the band are plying their gnarled rock ‘n’ roll trade in such a fashion that the venue’s customers are worried that the whole place will go up in flames, the sounds so incendiary….
There’s a grubby charm to this band and its self-described brand of hard charging rock ‘n’ roll. It’s garage rock by way of the forest and you can’t really ask for anything dirtier, earthier than that.
As the stoner-like riff of final track, ‘Spoke Too Soon’, rattles the fillings out of my teeth I’m left wondering if maybe what I just listened to was part of a crazed fever dream. Then I look up and see the album cover, the eyes of the Bad Wougar appearing to follow my every move…..
Another review in Permanent Rain references my spoken-word bit, ergo:
This spoken kick off made me realize I was in for a fun ride, just as if I was watching a movie–and I was not disappointed. …
The album itself has a delightfully punk element to it, often mixing with elements of classic and progressive rock. It could have been released in 1984, 1994, 2004, or 2014 and reflected the music of its time period.
Ya know, Stan Smyl is my all-time fave hockey guy – i’ve shared more about this great dude before so in this case, i’ll share a few snaps of hanging out at the beginning of the Vancouver Olympics 2010 at a corporate beer branded event “party tent” where i was invited for some sort of event.
Apparently i was telling Stan about my “Dr” Hunter S Thompson Media badge and/or John Stockton also wearing #12 or that we love to cook “Stan’s Mom’s Perogies” from the 1982 Canucks Family cookbook (note to self: share that precious artifact).
Around 2000 in Olympia Washington, my colleagues and I sold a renegade pioneering Internet service provider (OlyWa.net) to an (evidently) evil national corporation (ATG) who quickly imploded allowing me the sensation of losing *big paper money* before i hit 30 – ugh .Anyhow, I managed to put a down-payment on a house – which had a semi-finished basement (and was also stumbling distance to downtown bars) which is the reason for this riff.
The aforementioned basement was rapidly converted into “the Hockey Lounge” a speakeasy/smoke easy/crash space for touring rock ‘n’ roll bands as well as a resource library for Hemp Lobby activities.
As the name applied, this was about watching hockey games as, in Washington state at the time, the sport was not popular and bars were filled with cigarette smoke an early season baseball games instead of pungent herb and Stanley Cup playoffs. The Hockey Lounge rectified these conundrums.
So, with a couple of first generation time-shifting devices, two satellite dishes and a cable feed and other electronics cobble together by brother Dan – who also procured couch, bar, fridge etc. from various auctions – and extensive hockey and punk rock artifacts decorations, a conversion of the fridge into a 2 tap keg-e-rator, the eventual addition of a toilet, wiring the house with ethernet connected to redundant broadband connections (note this was early 2000s) this became the scene of much frivolity.
There were rules:
- Wash your glass (everyone had their designated glass which was store in the freezer compartment)
- Pay your tab (note beer was always top-end craft from a brewery in exchange for making a website, we were on the regular route for a beer delivery and well let’s just say people drink more than they paid for.
- No cell phones, camera etc. / no talking about other shit besides hockey and music
and these rules were not followed very well unfortunately.
Occasionally we would host various contest/pools during the playoffs or Olympics in which everyone would enter with a high-quality six pack (they were sent away and shunned if the quality was not sufficient) and winner would take most, second place slightly more than they pitched in, and third place their ante back.
Several times noted touring rock bands crashed out but most memorable was my hometown heroes DOA, who i sang BTO’s “takin’ care of business” onstage (at 4th Ave Tav) while wearing a Canucks jersey. The band – including now-Burnaby city councillor Joey “Shithead” Keithley, now deceased hard drinking storyteller Randy Rampage and the road manager (who was so happy about the high-speed Internet) and roadie who, years later, i met his brother coincidentally in Granada, Spain – all watched Canucks playoffs time-shifted and told tales into the night, signed my Hardcore 81 album, tidied up after themselves.
Of course, many travelling friends crashed out and enjoyed the space including Maddog Mike of Pacifica who destroyed so much Grand Crü beer and was still up early for his business meeting in Portland, Dane came by too (who i think took these photos), we had a “hippie on the couch” from CT or CO for a long time, others who came by at all hours expecting the place to be open like it was there own clubhouse, some disrespect, some sloppiness, some heat started to outweigh the frivolity. A lot of dishes to wash, but also a lot of fun backyard bocce games.
Of course there was the infamous High Times photo shoot in which many regional growers and vendors came by with copious amounts of wares in hopes of being featured in the magazine. Many were, i was rewarded with a massive mess to clean up and a photo/write up in the article which well… caused some community angst and notoriety (possibly covered elsewhere in this archive).
Epilogue: As it goes, economic situations changed with the *great collapse*, I couldn’t find work in any form, and then domestic situations changed with people moving in, people moving out, various tenants and domestic intrigue, then renters, a sewage flood and then a renovation and what not. [I had tried to finish some college, start a new business and relationship and hard to do all of that i suppose.]
In amongst much of this transition, aforementioned brother Dan became their “sole proprietor” of hockey lounge as it became his apartment. As things descended into malaise, various pieces and parts were sold off for cash to pay the mortgage, eventually the house sold, and I headed north and continued hockey culture with the Canucks Outsider podcast, then Dan later heading north as well to attend UBC engineering school. The Hockey Lounge still lives in the way/spirit at his current abode.
There is scant photographic evidence of this era though the legends live on throughout the streets of Olympia (or so I tell myself) plus at Olympic Plaza in SLC, and oh yeah if you’re reading this pay your fcking tab – this means you!
In 1994, back in Japan for the second time (after the mushroom farm incident), I made a go out of living the “back to land, hustling crafts and gigs along the way” lifestyle.
This meant selling flower sticks (more to come on this project eventually), hemp bags (ditto), imported Bob Marley T-shirts (so good!) and the like.
Made a little catalogue, got some media exposure, had friends ship vintage goods from Canada and USA and rambled around to various craft fairs, flea markets in the lake in a Mazda Bongo van.
For some of this time I lived in, Hamamura, Tottori and later worked way to Nagano where the van broke down and started a whole other part of this adventure.
Anyhow, in that stretch of time in almost-forgotten Tottori-prefecture, i lived in a small apartment with no bath so took bath at the natural hot spring “sento” public baths nightly, rambled mountains (around glorious Daisen) sometimes with a Shiba-inu dog named Tantan, played music (including a psychedelic jam sessions in a farm hut in a pear orchard), swam in the warm Sea of Japan, cook-outs on beach. There were some hardships in this time which won’t be discussed at this time.
Instead, a few slices of evidence (note: the photos were snapped with early generation “panorama” camera but developed/printed conventionally hence with the black letter box style):
Bonus: in scavenging artefacts from this summer, found this from brother Andrew who came to stay and worked making prefab log houses with a bunch of grown man while he was a young teen. He wrote this lovely memory of this glorious stretch of coast which, I hope to visit again soon, and a hazy snapshot which sums up the feeling of humid summers snorkelling and eating cold ramen so well.
“After work, we would go swimming until dusk and watch the squid boats out in the distance. Afterwards, we would go to this nice place for a bowl of fresh ramen and then go soak in the sento (public bath)”
Sometime in early
1988 (I think), (update: 1989) living in Orem Utah, recently dropped out of high school and floating along with classes at the community college, recovering from an epic car crash, my Grandpa rolled up in his old Chevy citation and suggested a road trip. Original thoughts for a few days but extended into much longer as we drifted down into Mexico.
With his “golden eagles” (or something to that effect), National Park pass, and affinity for small highways and no agendas plus his usual travelling style which included switching off driving responsibilities every two hours regardless of situation, choosing quirky / classic motels and diners on the fly, flirting with waitresses and continuous cigarette smoking and diary-keeping within the car, it was a most excellent journey.
I was studying photography at the time and took a heavy Japanese-made but Swiss-branded “Alpa” 35mm camera and black-and-white film, and a tripod and set up various shots along the way.
As usual, more evidence exists (including self-timer’d shots – often nekkid) and a photo essay of Petrified Forest) including a small spiral notebook chronicling where we stayed, various mileage and other ephemeral information about fuel efficiency, parks visited and what not, but for now, here are three of my favourite shots from the journey which I developed and processed myself in the dark room at the old ” Utah Technical College” Provo campus dark room.
The locations are unclear at this point but along the way, we visited every State / National Park/ Monuments anywhere near us, plus Tombstone Arizona, Four Corners, various places in Baja and mainland Mexico (in which I crossed the border with nothing but my old expired high school ID card or something… It’s all a bit hazy) I also recall buying a comically huge terra-cotta pot and huge woven basket in Mexico which was really a poor decision as we were taking turns resting in the back of the vehicle and well, space was at a premium.
Note: I wrote a story about a bit of the trip and specifically one morning on a First Nations “reserve” with a few observations while waiting for something to open (note to self: post that up sometime) and read some of it in a Postcard from Gravelly Beach podcast too as well as a tribute to him in another.
The 2nd of a couple of VOM fanzines i did with Kamel / he was the ringleader, i was the “associate editor”.
This #2 had with Joey Ramone at the Commodore on the cover (bev. davies photo) and i was “upgraded” from contributor to associate editor from vol. 1 #bigtime
Vol. 2 was printed at my Mom’s real estate office on Scott rd. and ended up costing way too much to reproduce despite stealing paper from a nearby elementary school.
Along with Ramones at The Commodore, included reviews of Dead Kennedys at York Theatre, Hot Spot Dancers interview, The Dull and a big ad from Toxic Shock records which was the best part of the making the fanzine (records!) So much good music and lively scenes.
More about these incidents in VOM #1 riff including comments from Dan Walters and Kai Erichson from those days/times when Kamel’s name surfaced in another conversation (about band AOT which followed shortly after the fanzine (FB).
Note: (repeated elsewhere…) Kamel was a force of nature, a complete reckless maniac but just got things done and while i didn’t get “credit” so much, I learned a lot about hustling productions and rolling yer own media & used knowledge to get into loads of shows and help out bands.
See also: “front row, surrounded by pals, lost in music” for more about this era of life and these characters
One of a couple of VOM fanzines i did with Kamel / he was the ringleader, i was the ummm assistant.
This #1 includes (among interviews with bands Bill of Rights, Unknown Fibres, Shanghai Dog) a fake concert review of the “Ultimate Trendies” which was Kamel, me, Brad and Frank Baker doing a Sex Pistols air band at my church gymnasium (we didn’t win) + real reviews of actual great shows at York Theatre. #2 had with Joey Ramone at the Commodore on the cover.
Kamel was a force of nature, a complete reckless maniac but just got things done and while i didn’t get “credit” so much, I learned a lot about hustling productions and rolling yer own media & used knowledge to get into loads of shows and help out bands.
When Kamel’s name surfaced in another conversation (about band AOT which followed shortly after the fanzine) Dan Walters (punk scene erstwhile archivist and historian) who made Terminally Stupid fanzine, and Kai Erichson who also rolled in that circle and i riffed some memories of making these publications.
Me: Remember working on VOM fanzine in his basement bedroom while his dead grandmother laid “in state” upstairs and all the relatives came to visit. Also, riding buses to the York Theatre with him & Brad Rees many times.
VxOxMx vol 1 “masthead” – I “upgraded” from contributor to associate editor by volume two #bigtime
VxOxMx vol 2 was printed at my Mom’s real estate office on scott rd. Featuring Joey Ramone photo by Bev Davies
Dan Walters: Ha! My drawing on there…and the letraset I swiped from school. Shit, haven’t seen these in 34 years. Cheers
Me: Also Dan Walters Glad I could surprise and amuse you with those VOM artifacts after all the goodness you share out to the Internet. My time in the “scene” was obviously aborted with the move to Utah so your documentation helps me fill in the gaps that I missed out on.
PS worth noting that ending up in Utah with my punk concert experiences in Vancouver and a fake ID, made it a lot of fun. Saw & played in lots of bands, got backstage, “media” access blah blah blah
Kai Erichsen: I remember you Dave. And the photocopy fiasco at your mom’s work lol! Fuck we were all so broke but we made shit happen. Fun!
Dave Olson: Kai Erichsen i heard about that from her for yeeeeaaaarrsss – ha!
Kai Erichsen: Kamal stole the paper too… boxes of it.
Dan Walters: Kai- we broke into my old elementary school and ditched boxes of paper in the bushes, went back and got them after dark, lol.
Dave Olson: Kai Erichsen yeah we’d roll into Cedar Hills elementary school and just take it. i remember some “adult” trying to stop us one time and we just kept going – hanging with you and Kamel made me feel a lot tougher and taller!
See also: “front row, surrounded by pals, lost in music” for more about this era of life and these characters