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I met the piano player who met my hero

I ended up walking out of a waiting room yesterday because I didn’t feel like waiting anymore. I just got up and left. It felt good. You should try it sometime.

Anyway, because of that I ended up at the bus stop early, and because of that I got to meet a very interesting person.

I was sitting there in the bus shelter thinking “Man, is it ever hot.”

And then this man in a jacket and baseball cap walked in, sat beside me, and said “Man, is it ever cold.”

“I’m hot,” I said.

“Try blood-thinners,” he said, “You’ll never be warm again.”

He had a copy of the Ottawa Sun with him, and there was a picture of two people who were wanted for murder. One of them was a kid.

“Kids today,” he said, “Christ, when I was a kid, we wouldn’t even dream of doing stuff like that. They think they can get away with anything now.”

This led to an interesting discussion about crime, childhood, video games, TV violence, Red Skelton and Dean Martin. And other stuff.

The #14 came, and we got on and continued our conversation.

“I bet I’ve seen a million murders on TV by now,” he said, “And they’re all the same, every one of them. It’s America, you know. I used to live in New York.”

“What were you doing in New York?” I asked.

It turns out he was a professional jazz pianist. He got his Grade 10 in piano at the Conservatory and then played in orchestras and individually for decades and decades.

“Until,” he said, “I broke my hand skiing at Whistler 15 years ago. A wrist-guard would have saved it, but I wasn’t wearing one. Now I can’t reach those octaves on the left side. I still play, but not professionally.”

And then he told me about the time he was playing at a lounge in New York City and someone came up to the piano and said “Look up. Wayyyyy up.”

Can you guess who it was? I did!

It was my hero, The Friendly Giant! I loved Friendly. I STILL love Friendly. The piano player told me that Friendly (he called him Bob) played not just the recorder, but also the clarinet, the flute and the oboe. And Friendly did all his own programming. Each show was 15 minutes long and consisted of a one-page outline and lots of improvisation. Anyway, Friendly’s wife (who knew he had a WIFE???) tipped the piano player $20, which was a lot of money back then. And the piano player and Friendly stayed in touch for the rest of Friendly’s life.

I loved meeting The Friendly Giant’s friend. I could have spent hours in his company, but he got off the bus at Parkdale and Gladstone. He’s having his second triple bypass next week. I hope it goes well…but I guess I’ll never know unless I’m lucky enough to bump into him again some day.

Giant Smarties Box Meets Giant Cat

Giant Smarties Box Meets Giant Cat

After that I went to meet some old friends for lunch. We all got laid off the same day after many years of working together, and it was good to see them again. There were hugs and kisses. Louise gave me a GIANT box of Smarties. I’ve never even seen such a big box of Smarties! She must have got them from the mothership.

After lunch we all came back to my place to play with Duncan, and I promised them that today’s blog post would include sleep tips from Duncan, which, as it turned out, was a big fat lie. (Maybe tomorrow.)

Before they left, I showed them what Hella Stella sent me in the mail: a chocolate vulva on a stick! (By the way, Hella Stella’s going to be on Vinyl Cafe at the Museum of Civilization at the end of June. GC and I are going and if you hurry you might be able to get tickets too!)

Speaking of doing exciting things, this is a pretty exciting weekend here in the Big O.

Among other exciting things:

  • Meaghan Haughian has an art show at the Petit Mort Gallery tonight.
  • The New Art Festival (formerly known as Art in the Park) is taking place in that nice park in the Glebe all day Saturday and Sunday. I love this show.
  • It’s Give-Away Weekend in Ottawa. It’s a big free city-wide garage sale.
  • It’s Open Doors weekend!

Updated to add:

10 comments to I met the piano player who met my hero

  • Deb

    I know what you mean about being able to just walk out and not look back. Last year Rob and I put an offer on a condo to be built. They had trouble selling them, so they re-designed the whole idea a year later and called us all back in with individual appointments so that they could sell us on the new design. We got there about ten minutes early, and waited for 45 minutes for our turn. By that point I figured that they had wasted enough of our time, and disrespected us by not even coming out and apologising for being behind schedule, that I told the receptionist who refused to make eye contact with me, that we were walking away from the whole project and they could send us our $20,000 deposit back in the mail. I felt so liberated walking out of there. Rob, being the accomodating guy he is, would probably waited a full hour before walking.

  • Enjoy your chocolate vag… It’s great if you eat it slowly and suggestively.

    Hey, I’m super excited that you guys coming to the show!!

  • gc

    Deb, I know what you mean about Rob being accommodating. I’m like that too, which is why I’m proud of Zoom Zoom for leaving.

    Hella, I asked Zoom for a lick of her chocolate vag and she slapped me! What’s with that!? I would have let her lick my lollipop. Looking forward to your show!

    Zoom, do you think a tear came to someone’s eye when they heard the intro to FG? Also I hope you and Duncan saved me one or two Smarties from your POUND of Smarties!

  • Deb, that’s funny. Remember the time you and I went to the time-share demo in Mexico? We were just doing it for the free deep-sea fishing tickets, but you were SO polite we ended up spending half the day in a time-share pitch.

    Hella Stella, I love it. Thank you. As for the show, we’re VERY excited. I’ve been wanting to go to a Vinyl Cafe taping for years, and the fact that you’re on the show is just a double grand-daddy whopper of good fortune!

    GC, I would NEVER slap you! As for the tear in someone’s eye…did you cry?? Me too!

  • Deb

    Let’s set the record straight…you wanted the deep sea fishing tickets…I had to take two dramamine to get on the boat, and slept through the whole thing except when you woke me up to help you land your 25 lb fish (yellow fin???) But you are right, we sat very patiently through the toughest sales pitch ever.

  • I adored the FG, I love those chocolate vagina’s, and Smarties helped me through many rough times – best eaten with a cup of hot coffee. (Hmmm… I think I will blog about that.)

    Duncan looks petite next to that box of chocolates.

  • Deb

    I agree Woodsy, if you didn’t know Duncan, you would think he was a kitten next to the box of smarties.

  • grace

    Because . . . who doesn’t have a category for chocolate genitalia?

  • XUP

    I think it’s super-duper awewome that you walked out of that waiting room!!

  • Michele Toscano


    I used to play some Chopin at the Hartman’s piano 3-4 weeks for 3 yrs. I enjoyed it and all the friends that passed by as well. I ve spent alot of money shopping there as well but now i stat in my neighourhood to shop and no urgent need to go play piano there to make me happy and lots of seniors happy.

    Mr. Larry Hartman, I say thank you for the great years of piano but you will never see me there again. What a tragedy for piano freaks like me since i know of no other places in Ottawa with free piano..