Saturday, June 26, 2010


This humidity makes everything so heavy, even sleeping is a drudge task. Boss gave us the day off work on Friday. A day to just stay still if possible and say,"No more please" to the world. I stick close to home. Stepping outside, the air hangs with the stench of garbage as endless honking assaults me. So this is the outside world? I want peace. Apparently this honking is to celebrate a sporting event of some sort, is it? Really? The cars are all festooned with flags of disrespective countries. Are they foreign dignitaries? They act like assholes, these visiting dignitaries here for the G20 conference. Downtown is a ghost town, people are too scared to be downtown where armed police stand in packs. I tell my Mother my fear of working downtown, she thinks they will protect me. No. I need protection from them if I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. I work on the 16th floor.
Wednesday. Water moved in my glass. An ominous feeling of reality shifting. I believe that the military is trying out a sonic weapon on us! "Let's go!", I yell to my co-worker Karla. No elevator, take the stairs, 16 flights. She has to take her heels off, I attempt to undo one.
It was just an earthquake.
Tuesday. A great bookstore has its' locks changed due to back-rent, they've been around for thirty years, two generations.
The skies are overcast. I get a text message mere moments after writing a morbid joke. A great lady I know has died, I just visited her last week and was going to this week, too young. It saddens me, I think of the loss that her loved ones go through, and then the loss the community and the city will go through. She was that kind of gal.
Thinking on this for a while, then a friend calls and tells me that he is moving back to Vancouver, although he is uncertain of his choice, we hang out a lot, we talk of this and the oil spill and its' devastating environmental impact, rains of oil, how he read that Russian scientists stated how the chemical used to treat it will wreak utter destruction on the East Coast.
Thursday. Taking my mind off everything, the sadness of death and the mood of the city, this friend, another friend and I drive to Niagara Falls to see natural beauty in all its'glory, its' uncomprehending vastness, we get so close that we get wet, it surrounds us, it is surrounded by man-made monstrosities. These are behemoths akin to Reno. Yards away from rumbling splendour, one can pay to get a photo taken in front of a fake Niagara Falls backdrop. One can pay to see Niagara Falls in iMAX.In 3-D/4-D, what does that mean? Does one get to view four dimensions in three? Will it simplify and demystify things for us? We pay to enter a shoddy wax museum, one of several, this one is of crime and murder and slightly off the path. Flawed craftmanship,typos, succinct overviews of notorious figures who look somewhat off and not quite fully-formed.It is appreciated.

Friday, June 18, 2010


If I built me an Iron Man suit would it make me less sensitive?
I'm too sensitive! Wayyyy too sensitive!
Like an exposed wound.
I can feel emotional jabs in my heart.
Case in point, I left a show early the other week that I performed at, not wanting to face anyone. I thought that I had bombed. From the stage one cannot see the crowd, makes one feel insular, a disconnect. I get home and realise, "Oh! They were laughing!" I see some people a week later, "We were laughing!" And if they weren't? So? Just another night. An experience. I need me some thicker skin.I do good work, I've paid my dues (I even have a tag on my shoe that Balogh gave which says exactly that).
Another case in point, I put in my dayplanner that the old New Pornographers were coming to town on Tuesday. Tho I'd done plenty of stuff with them, I actually hadn't seen them perform live for eight years, maybe not since Canned Hamm hosted that one show they did where I wound up getting the most vile pair of panties thrown at me onstage. As The NPers played on, I paraded around with that pair on my head oblivious to the fact that the owner maybe should have gone to the doctor.
Day of their show, day turns to nite, I putter about my apartment, no response. My pal Paul calls me from backstage, hands the phone to Dan and they're about to go on and all I can do is whine, "I wanted to see you all! I put it in my dayplanner!" Then I go to bed feeling forgotten. Yesterday, I find out that they were all wondering where I was, why was I not hanging with them? Welllll, I was at home thinking that they didn't care about me, that I didn't matter to them no more, self-pity self-pity, etcetera, etcetera...Crossed wires, if only they thought to put my name at the door, hmmm, maybe it was.
I still wished I'd been there, hang out and catch up, apparently it was a great show.

I try my best to forge forward but I can get reflective, some folks I have known forever, too much has happened to ever let go, there's a bond. Do I miss Vancouver? I miss many of those people, many scattered; living in Toronto now, I do get to see quite a few folks.

A book was sent to me. Confessions Of A Local Celebrity by Mike Soret. Great title and a great looking book. Funny read, funny music book, first hand tales of reaching for the top and not getting there. Well, his band was called The Molestics. We were also in a band together called Zarathruster in 1991 and July Fourth Toilet played many shows with The Molestics. This book is ascerbic and honest and he just doesn't care who he may offend cuz he's done. Do I agree with everything he says about me in it? No. But it's not my book. it's his book. But reading these mentions of me felt like a weird time capsule, a sorta "Oh yeah, that was me in the 90s."
He writes, "Rob Dayton, who had a band called July Fourth Toilet and who was as legendary for being broke-ass as for his drinking..." and "He's made a career of being a caricature of himself..." Etc etc..
Caricature? No, it's called being iconic, darling. That's why my personal style is in perpetual mothballs. Ha!
He does have some truth to that. Those two quotes go hand-in-hand. Ahh, this book is simply a reminder of why I had to stop the booze! I certainly feel more nuanced today, even though back then there'd be soul baring- is soul baring a characteristic of caricature? I know what he means and it makes sense, many nights of stumbling shenanigans can make for some broad brush strokes! At one point I took to calling myself The Grand Wizzard of Debauchery which never caught on with anyone but me.
He also says some very nice things about me in his book but that's irrelevant to this blog post.
I was quite entertained by that lil tome and anyone who has any interest in the bottom rungs of show biz had best give it a read! Pure honesty! Worst thing about it? He keeps calling me Rob in it. Rob? I don't steal, I give.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gordon Jump! How High?: A Very Special Episode

Upon the recent death of Gary Coleman, my pal Lou asked me to dig up an old column that I wrote about Gordon Jump. For several years I wrote a regular column entitled Robert Dayton's Going For It for a free Vancouver weekly. When my carte blanche left, I left (they refused to print my 3 column series about my cock, alas, only the first part saw print), they also didn't pay their contributors: a big no-no considering others (editors, ad reps, et al) were getting paid! My advice to you if you are a creative: get paid! By not getting paid you are under-valuing others in the industry and thus taking away work. I see big name blogs with advertising not paying for content. THIS IS WRONG! I blog here for free cuz no one else is making any coin off of me,just me...
Any ways, enjoy this classick column from a few years back...

The downtown Vancouver Eaton’s has really got the lead on free En’tainment. In the past they have had breakdancers, lingerie shows, living mannequins, and a French man playing an accordion. How did I know that he was French? Ohhh, the tell-tale signs were there: the beret, the striped shirt. But there was one special day that will be forever etched in my memory. April 12th, 2001. The day The Maytag Repairmen came to town. This special in-store featured Gordon Jump, who replaced the late Jessie White as Maytag Repairman in 1989 (before that he was portrayed by Tom Pedi), and his new buddy, the young and buff Mark Devine. Gordon Jump is best known for portraying Mr. Carlson, the station boss from the TV sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati. But it was his guest-starring role on Diff’rent Strokes that truly invaded my psyche.
Diff’rent Strokes was a sitcom that was inherently racist in its’ setup. An 80s materialistic escape fantasy where a rich, white man- Mr. Drummond- adopts two wise cracking black kids named Arnold and Willis as pets. Every episode would have some sort of forced moral. And then there were the “Very Special Episodes” such as The Bicycle Man, a two-parter written by two former WKRP writers with Gordon Jump as the title character, Mr.Horton. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it but I’ll rely on my memories, friends’ memories, and the glorious internet.
One day Arnold and his friend Dudley go over to Mr. Horton’s bicycle shop for a visit. These kinds of shops are very popular with the children. Mr. Horton gives the boys booze and then persuades them to bounce up and down on the bed with their shirts off. Before they leave, he gives them gum to cover up their breath. The next time they visit he shows them a dirty cartoon where a mouse drops his pants! “It’s not dirty. It’s adult. We’re all adults,” says Mr. Horton. Arnold gets upset and leaves. Mr. Drummond finds out what’s been happening. I distinctly remember him getting so upset that he swears! A close-up of his face going, “What the Hell is going on here?!?!” He calls the cops and Dudley’s parents. After giving him a pill, Mr. Horton decides to play a game called “Neptune, King Of The Sea” with Dudley in the tub. Before this game happens, the police arrive. Dudley says, “He tried to...he tried to touch me.” The show ends with The Drummonds discussing the issues of child molestation.
However, due to the nature of the medium, this serious issue became somewhat trivialized with the show’s cheap set and always prevalent laugh track. The effects of child sexual abuse don’t disappear after two weeks but off Arnold and Co. would go obliviously skipping onto more “very special episodes” involving cigarettes, height issues, and Nancy Reagan. But it was effective- child abuse just wasn’t talked about so much back then. And lots of people do remember this two-parter.
Back to Eaton’s. Unlike most people, I have a good rapport with celebrities. We see each other eye-to-eye, we’re equals, I knew that meeting Gordon Jump would be no problem. Both Maytag Repairmen were signing glossies for the crowd. I approached Mr.Jump and asked him about The Bicycle Man. He was very cordial and in a quiet, pleasant tone of voice said, “That was a real gamble. You never know whether you have done the right thing or not because people could look at us on television and think that’s really us.”
“Just the other day I went to a large store where they sell stuff to new mothers. This young girl came up to me with tears in her eyes. She said, ‘Are you Gordon Jump?’ I said, ’I sure am.’ She said,’Would you mind if I could give you a hug and thank you for what you did for me years ago?’ I said, ‘No. What had I done for you years ago?’ She said, ’You did an episode of Diff’rent Strokes. That episode changed my entire life.’ And al of a sudden I realized that this business is really far more special than we sometimes give it credit for.”
I told him, ”I was a kid when I saw it and I didn’t know anything about that stuff.”
He responded, “It gives you an open forum so everybody’s talking about it and that’s what it was designed for.”
Mark Devine, the young Maytag Repairman joined in and said, “It’s weird how it sticks in your mind, too .I remember seeing the episode. I didn’t understand it but now...”

Thanks to Ted Dave for interview documentation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Toronto can be a good city in many ways, there's some good people, some old friends, but there's also plenty (a tonne) of people that not only won't call you, they also won't return your calls: keep all expectations at rock bottom, it's not you (no, really, it's not, you pathetic, pathetic self-absorbed shell), they're flaky (and they don't even have the wacky tobacky of the West Coast to fall back on as an excuse)(and as much as you try to not take it personally, it burrrrrns because it seems to happen, oh, just about all the time to the point that you are thinking of writing off all new people entirely, all that time and energy wasted might be best spent working on projects alone, such as building a wall). Perhaps this is not a Toronto thing, perhaps it is a wide-spread modern malady of declining courtesies due to technological developments (text messaging, Facebook, cell phones, computers, blogs-uh ohhhhh) causing A.D.D. I will test this theory out by visiting Waterloo for just one night. Has the malady spread there? Is it a Toronto only thing, an Ontario thing, a world-wide thing or what?
Find out as I hit the stage opening for Neil Hamburger along with Daiquiri this Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at the Starlight (47A King Street North, Waterloo, ON).
I've never been to Waterloo. Could be...curious. An Ontario town named after the place of Napoleon's defeat. Could be a great show. Yet another opportunity to become a phoenix.
This is my only show with Neil.
I really miss performing with him. It's been a few years and we'd done lots and lots of tours together. I miss touring. I miss dodgy hotels with curiously unattractive women knocking at the door at 2 AM hoping to bottom-feed on the desperation of anonymous strangers. Does driving an hour to Waterloo count as touring?
Unfamiliar with the legendary Neil Hamburger?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Performing at The Joke Club nite tonite, Thursday, June 3rd, 9:30 PM, The Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West) as "The Romantic" so if ya missed it the other week....
It's the Special Early June Edition featuring Gilson Lubin, Jeff Mcenery, Ladystache, Peter Stevens, Terry Clement, Eric Bud, me, and more!And hosted by that sweety Nick Flanagan
I'm also performing my favourite Alex Chilton song with Henri Faberge (he has the best name, like, ever), the wonderful Dana Snell, and who knows who else as part of The 1979 Show happening Sunday, June 6th at The Magpie (831 Dundas Street West- just West of Bathurst), 10ish. It's a show of songs that came out in 1979 cuz one of the organizers was conceived that year!!! They also did that Nilsson trib last month which was pretty great.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First 38 Birthdays

I originally wrote this piece as "First 30 Birthdays" for print in my regular newspaper column "Going For It." It has now been revised and updated....

In writing autobiographies it is difficult to remember details. Some are fudged. Let’s go back to your childhood. Capture a particular day that happens every year and trace it to the present. Like a birthday. The birthday is the most important day, it belongs to you, it’s yours. Although I have a bad memory for dates, people’s birthdays are the best! For this piece I have decided to trace every single birthday that I have had, with the help of my Mom for the first few.

Age 0: I was a caesarean section. No labour for my mother. I didn’t know this until now but my birthday was picked out over a two-week period. I was the fourth and youngest of boys, just boys. My Mom chose my Aunt Bertha’s birthday of May 30th. My Aunt said to my Mom, "Supposed to get a girl."
Age 1 and 2: Family parties.
Age 3: Picnic with cake. Though my Mom didn’t say, I think she was single at this point spelling out many days of powdered milk with which to wash down the cake.
Age 4: Small birthday party with four little friends including, says my Mom, "…Two little girls from across the street."
"I don’t remember them."
"Don’t you? You played with them all the time."
Age 5: Says my Mom, "You invited four little girls and one little boy. You had fortune balloons. Everyone had to jump on the balloons to break the balloons to get your fortunes read."
"What were the fortunes?"
"Whatever I could make up. That you were going to take a trip or get a new outfit." I did get sent a new outfit from my birth-Dad, it was itchy with too many buckles. I hated it.
Age 6: I remember my Step Dad, who wasn’t married to my Mom yet, becoming my Dad around this time. He snuck into my room and took a polaroid of me dancing to songs from the Dumbo soundtrack with a paper bag on my head.
Age 7: "For one birthday, I think your seventh, you got a great big robot." A Shogun Warrior that shot plastic bullets from its’ chest. All of the bullets got lost within three months, of course.
Age 8: "You invited 12 kids!” Except Kenny- him and Steve were fighting. They made up but it was too late to invite them both. My brother Frank ran the fish-pond. My birth-Dad sent me a giant plush Smurf doll that, years later, was turned into a Smurf-skin rug by my friend Chris.
Age 9: My Mom: "I know we went rollerskating. The whole kaboodle of us. A Hell of a go. Most of us had never been rollerskating before…and neither had I!"
Age 10: I had a broken foot. I pouted as my friends played. I should never have jumped off of that fort! It was too risky! And it ruined my birthday!
Age 11: Don’t remember.
Age 12: I wanted a pie fight but was told it was too messy. I was really into old slapstick. And I had a Jack Benny obsession.
Age 13: Got mocked by friends for renting The Muppets Take Manhattan but that movie marked the first appearance of The Muppet Babies! A real milestone.
Age 14: Tried to rent Devil Dog, Hound of Hell but my Mom made me take it back before we could even watch it due to its’ questionable scary content. Renting movies was a real novelty at this point.
Age 15: Don’t remember.
Age 16: As a member of student council, I invited the rest of them over for my birthday party. My mom made cheesecake. My friend Colin Gilberstad came, too. He hid in the freezer, jumped out at a pivotal moment, and we broke into a lyp-synch of a "Weird Al" Yankovic song together. We were really into lyp-synchs. Years later, I bumped into “Weird Al” Yankovich at a vegetarian restaurant and told him about these lyp-synchs to his music. He said, “Really? What’s your name?” I told him my name. He shook my hand. “Weird Al” is a very nice man.
Age 17: My rowdy friends and I had an official McDonald’s birthday party normally reserved for young children. People sneered at us, we had fun. We were goofs.
Age 18: Don’t remember.
Age 19: Most likely involved drinking far too much and dancing to the recorded music of The Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Northwoods Inn.
Age 20: Ditto. But with acid as well.
Age 21: Working up in Fort Nelson. A co-worker made me a fish dinner that I puked up on the air vent in the bar that we all went to later on in the night. For this I was asked to leave, even though I said, between burping and coughing as the bouncer backed away from me, “I’ll clean it up.” I was wearing a bright coloured sports coat. Outside, some hicks in a big truck looked at me, laughed, and said, "Are you in some kind of clown show? Heh heh heh." I hate Fort Nelson.
Age 22: Vancouver. When asked my age I curtly reply, "Old enough to know better." Just started dating my first love, who bought me dinner, she tells me that she’s falling for me. And me for her.
Age 23: My first love made me a mix tape.
Age 24: Most likely spent with my first love.
Age 25: I was devastatingly single and crashing at the gloriously named Bastard House where everyone was somehow really fucked up, a transitional point for all of us. They threw me a party. My friend and band-mate Julian showed up with a Mike Nesmith album for me. Met my friend Victoria for the first time.
Age 26: Don’t remember.
Age 27: My birthday party was held the night before my birthday at the late, lamented Pig & Whistle. Lotsa people, including my brother Frank who bought me scotch. I sang on stage for an hour. After that, a few of us went to a mellow party where I broke a pinata given to me by my friends Claire and Louise. It was full of soya sauce which burst and exploded everywhere. Uh oh! Claire and Louise later explained that, as a bachelor, they put in such items as soya sauce as I would need it for my home.
One member of my rowdy entourage attempted to steal a framed Kiss photo that was photographed by the person who lived there. The almost-thief got his head punched in by the photographer. The frame was cracked and I had to later try to track down money for the frame. The person who threw the party still won’t speak to me. The next day I met a girl that I was to get obsessed/entangled with.
Age 28: Badly spent with the girl I met last birthday. I was at the very depths of obsession with her. I was a confused wannabe boyfriend with touchy-feely tendencies that fed on her attentions. The night culminated in a lot of tears and her yelling at me on the sidewalk. Luckily, I would never hit those kinds of depths ever again.
Age 29: Off the anti-depressants and ready to do karaoke at The Dufferin Hotel Lounge, a legendary gay establishment. I felt better than I had felt in years. Bobby, the bartender, gave me the stuffed bear I sang with. Someone there warned me of blood and semen stains on it but I didn’t care. My friends Cory and Macey gave me a prosthetic ear. I was showing off a great haircut from my personal stylist. My friend Dean gave me a big bag of awesome clothes.
Age 30: Everybody says that Thirty is supposed to mean something. What? What does it mean? Why is it important? My 30th birthday was spent on tour in Australia with Canned Hamm, the act that I sing and dance in, opening for The World’s Funnyman Neil Hamburger. I had the most delicious vegan cake then we all went to sing karaoke. The possibilities, at this point in my life, seemed endless. It felt like I had nowhere to go but up. The expected 30th birthday life crises did not appear to me because of this.
Age 31: My Mother was in town. And she bought dinner for all of my friends at the Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. My brother Frank showed up but he made it plainly clear that he only eats meat. My girlfriend Charlotte wasn’t there; I think it was because she was scared to meet my mother.
Age 32: karaoke with pals.
Age 33: Most likely karaoke with pals.
Age 34: I was no longer drinking so I believe that I tried to have a mellow dinner with my girlfriend Charlotte.
Age 35: The crises that were expected to happen with my 30th birthday happened here. All the possibilities seemed not so endless now, there was an air of uncertainty. I had made some serious life changes, I was surrounded by some wonderful long-time pals at my karaoke party, yet Vancouver seemed to be holding me back. More changes needed to happen. My new girlfriend Heather was out of town which made me sad as well. Afterwards I went to The Royal Unicorn club for dancing with my pals Sonja Ahlers and her pal who gave me a energy crystal. The crowd was so young that it scared them away before they even got in the door. This was indicative of Vancouver. Something had to give.
Age 36: Glow-in-the-dark party bowling! Heather and I did romantic stuff, she bought me a nice dinner after visiting her parents. She gave me clothes that I thought, at first, were too conservative but then started wearing lots, I told her that I am like that with all gifts from loved ones: approach with caution then embrace. Lots of synth players at bowling: Szam, Blaine, Scott and a couple more.
Age 37: Trish’s backyard BBQ. A tad too cold but what the hey. Cindy and Reg gave me a pair of translucent nylon ribbed navy and red patterned socks, the kind that old bluesmen and pimps wear. Were there murmurs of Heather moving, putting our relationship in a tentative stage?
Age 38: First single birthday in years but it was okay! Really. Sonja threw a party at Grant Heaps and celebrated the birthdays of me and Shari Boyle (who was wearing her "Over the Edge" style over-alls) as we have birthdays close to each other, we blew out each other's candles on the decadent cakes that Elisa made. Earlier in the day the ladies at the office bought cupcakes and sang Happy birthday! Jopelle gave me two cacti that looked like Laurel and Hardy-perfect bachelor plant! Shea gave me a classic Ditko Dr. Strange comic book.