Today’s Uber Driver

She was driving a BMW X4.

That’s an expensive car. Let me look it up online. It STARTS at 50k. Why is its owner driving Uber?

Well, maybe it’s not the person’s car. That’s right, I wasn’t sure whether it was a male or female, the name was VINEETA. But last night, the driver rented his new Audi Quattro to drive, it cost him $40 for the day. But an X4?

It was her car, it was the first thing I asked Vineeta, after I got into the front seat.

Sometimes I don’t want to ride in the back, I didn’t want to look at my phone, do any business, although Paul Anka did call while we were en route and WAZE was barking directions and I was disoriented and I’m worried I didn’t perform appropriately, but basically I wanted to experience the vista.

But the woman was dignified and well-dressed, what was going on?

Well, she was from India, she’d been here fifteen years. That’s what you have to understand about Toronto, supposedly it has the most ethnicities of any city in the world, if you’re a racist, it’s not the place to be, especially since many people of color have been here for generations.

So why was she driving?

Her kids were in school.

Did she need the money or the entertainment?

She was trying to keep herself busy. She’s got a degree in finance, but she has to take her son to swim practice every afternoon and it’s hard to hold down a full-time job. Her husband works in software. He’s a muckety-muck, but I didn’t learn that until I found out…

It was an arranged marriage.

Well, not exactly, they were on that road, they could see that ending, so they picked each other.

I asked her, sensitively, whether if she had to do it all over again…

DEFINITELY, she loved her husband.

But India was so culturally different. It’s about family, and extended family, and her parents approved of his parents, but she’s having a hard time adjusting to here, where everybody’s in their own silo.

But she would never move back, she didn’t think her kids would tolerate it, even though they visit on vacation regularly.

Oh, did I tell you they got married at SIXTEEN??!!!

Eeegads!

Her husband’s father was a player in India, they moved to Singapore for a couple of years and then here.

Does she fit in?

Well, her kids, thirteen and seven, keep bossing them around, telling them what’s up, how to live, and this would NEVER happen in India, you do what your parents say.

But she’s experienced no racism, which is kind of astounding, with that skin color and name in the United States…

Where an Indian woman in my doctor’s office dates a white man but has not and will not tell her parents, who live up north.

Vineeta said her parents would be okay with her marrying a white man, it’s just that it would NEVER HAPPEN!

And her driving was somewhat hesitant, and she wasn’t that familiar with WAZE, but she told me she’d been driving Uber for three months.

Ah, the stories in the city.

Canadian Hall of Fame Dinner

“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…

TOOK US TO VEGAS!

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…

HE DID IT HIS WAY!

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…

AND WE LOVED IT!

Toronto

I just saw James Comey.

That’s right, I had to come all the way to Canada to get an up close and personal on the U.S. government.

Travel, the things you learn.

Used to be they passed out this immigration form on the plane, you know, did you hang at any farms, are you bringing in illegal drugs, that kind of stuff. And that always makes me anxious, because my pen is in my backpack in the overhead compartment and honestly, I do not know my passport number by heart, and it’s a race to immigration, if you’re not first, you could be waiting for an hour or so, after taking time to fill out the form after you’ve exited the plane, only this time…

There was no form. You spoke to a robot!

No, not exactly, you didn’t speak. But this device that looked like Robby took all your information and then automatically adjusted to your height and took a picture. How come we don’t have these in the States?

Things are so much better elsewhere. Not EVERYTHING, but it’s the blind loyalty, the nationalism, the inability to question precepts that bugs me about the U.S. Love it or leave it? Leave it so you can come home and improve it!

And we took the train from the airport to downtown. Pretty cool. Avoided rush hour traffic.

And when I had to go to the drugstore at ten thirty p.m., we took the streetcar.

I didn’t pay, don’t tell anybody. Jake asked me if I had any Canadian money and when I said I didn’t, he said to just follow him on, I didn’t know I wasn’t going to pay, honestly, well, kinda honestly, but the truth is we only went three blocks, his knee was hurting.

But the funniest thing was when we emerged from the drugstore, the Blue Jays game had just broken up, and the streetcar was full, and the driver started telling JOKES! Turned off the lights, made the assembled multitude pledge fealty. It cracked me up. There was a sense of community you don’t get in L.A., because even though there’s a downtown, and it’s burgeoning, it’s not the epicenter of the city, we’re all in our far-flung abodes, in front of our devices, since traffic is too bad to go out.

So I’m here for Canadian Music Week. They shifted it from March to May a few years back. The benefit is the weather, used to be you were worried about getting snowed in, now you can experience the city awakening from winter, the populace free and easy.

But there are concrete barriers in front of the train station, so no other incel drives up on the sidewalk and kills people.

And I saw Ralph and the regulars in the lobby.

And at lunch Michael remarked how it was first generation immigrants who were shaking up the music business. As for showcases, isn’t it interesting, the three biggest acts in the business, ironically Canadian, Drake, Bieber and the Weeknd, never played a gig before they made it.

It’s not your father’s music business anymore. We’re experiencing a great transition. And it will be driven by money, millennials will capitalize on it.

The truth is, you can be a worker bee in tech, and the odds of your startup triumphing are nearly nonexistent. But you can be a music manager and make it with nothing, no education, just your smarts.

And Post Malone plays arenas on his first tour.

That never used to happen. All the wankers are talking about artist development, that’s now the artist’s job, not the labels’, and if you’re great, your audience knows you, and quite possibly, nobody else.

So I’d love to tell you Comey said something revolutionary, but he didn’t, he’s too well media-trained.

But he was likable.

When he wasn’t hatable.

The interviewer asked him about the Hillary e-mail announcement eleven days before the election. He gave a completely plausible answer, but so did Dick Cheney.

But he was certainly human, right up there on the stage. And tall, you know Comey is 6’8″. But he was endearing and inofficious, is that a word? You know how muckety-mucks can be so polished, holier-than-thou, but not Comey, he was like the guy you went to high school with, albeit kind of a choirboy.

And everybody up here knows everything we know down there.

Except today there’s too much for everybody to know.

Used to be we all knew the same stories.

Now we’re at lunch and every story brought up the rest of the assembled multitude does not know.

Never mind all the crazy places people fly in from. Never mind Calgary, but Red Deer?

Canada’s only a motion away, you should visit!

Moby-This Week’s Podcast

Don’t nobody know my troubles but God

What happens when you make the most iconic album of the turn of the century, when suddenly you’re up all night getting high and dating models?

YOU WANT MORE!

But Moby couldn’t replicate the success of “Play,” even though he tried so hard.

And despite ventures into real estate and restaurants, Moby is still making music every day.

And this is his story.

This was done live at the L.A. “Times” Festival of Books. Moby was erudite and intellectual, listen as he lays out his stories and insights, with a sense of humor. It’s as if the guy in your classroom made it, but not that easily, Moby hustled his way up from Darien to New York City, from club to record deal to…

This is only an hour, but I could have listened to Moby all day. There was no artifice, he was so honest.

I know you’ll dig it.

Moby on his first solo show and meeting Miles Davis:

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