I spent the other night reliving the 80's with mixed emotions. My old friend Christopher Ward, also an ex VJ from MuchMusic who sat across from me at the Nations' Music Station for a decade, invited me to an event at the Horseshoe Club featuring a bunch bands who were big in the 80's. And when I say big - I mean hair.
On the roster: Platinum Blonde, The Spoons, Maestro Fresh Wes, Triumph and Chalk Circle.
Michael Williams - also a MuchMusic veteran - DJed - spinning tunes by Martha and the Muffins, Jane Siberry, Tom Cochrane, The Cult....you get the picture.
My first thought was - what can I wear that I won't mind getting stinky from smoke. Remember hanging out in bars - everyone sucking on a butt, wearing black, being trendy and alternative? Thankfully those days are gone and the club has gone smoke free. Clearly I don't go clubbing like I used to.
It was a surreal night. The joint was sold out - a few hundred of us there to reminisce and recapture our youth long gone. I'm guessing a lot of babysitters were on call, most of us in the audience (and on stage) having given up our rock'n roll lifestyle for kids and responsibility.
Extra surreal, being dragged "backstage" to hang out with the bands for a while. Interesting to hear how many of the bands have reformed and are putting out new music. Platinum Blonde has a new album out, and the Spoons already have a new track that can be downloaded.
Maestro Fresh Wes has written a book and does motivational speaking at schools.
Brad from Chalk Circle is selling advertising for the Globe and Mail and Chris is a busy music producer who did a great job producing the opening for YMCTV.
Here's an especially wierd one: Paul Humphry from Blue Peter is one of the main performers on the Name Your Tunes Personalized CD's which I also perform on. Twenty five years ago I introduced Blue Peter in a bar I was DJing at in Montreal. Here's what the audience looked like when I introduced Blue Peter the other night.
As each band came on stage, the audience shrieked requests for video hits from two decades ago - songs that probably evoked memories of high school dances and young heartbreak.
For me, the 80's meant something else.
It was a time of learning. When I landed at MuchMusic, I was immersed in the culture of rock'n roll. I had to know every band, who produced the band, who directed their video and what the lead singers' names were. When introducing the 1,000's of videos over the years, I never worked off a script. Instead I would cart bags of magazines to research the bands so I would have some cool stuff to share. (remember, this was prior the net).
It was a time of self discovery. With bands like U2, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Police as my soundtrack, I was forced to figure out who I was and how to boldly share my opinions with hundreds of thousands of strangers sitting at home judging me. When you're 23 and still figuring out where you fit in and who you are, this was the backdrop for a huge emotional rollercoaster. The upside - it gave me the backbone to be "who I am" which stays with me to this day.
It was a time of defining true beauty. While being in the spotlight, I had the opportunity to meet so many famous "beautiful" people. It didn't take me long to figure out that as cute as a lead singer may have been, few were really beautiful. Most were vain or vapid. The really gorgeous girls and guys that made me swoon were those who were most passionate about the art they created, and could move us with our eyes open or closed. Some of those that come to mind who I thought was hot after meeting them - Sting, Sinaed OConner, Simon Lebon, Lyle Lovette, Paul Young, and Bono. There were a ton more - just can't remember them all. It was a long time ago!
It was a time of alientation for me. While I loved the music and the art of songwriting, I never fit into the "scene". The booze, drugs, butts never interested me. I was part of the scene by virtue of a mutual connection through music, yet never really connected to many of those who truly lived an alternative lifestyle. I knew which friends were coke-heads, which were junkies and those who loved their booze but couldn't relate to them. I just liked to hang out and bond on tunes. At that time, I guess I wasn't very cool.
That's why listening to the music, seeing the old bands and reliving the 80's is wierd for me. It goes alot deeper than the music.
What about you? What does the 80s music mean to you?"
You're not going to believe what happened to me over the holidays.
Four months ago we booked a family vacation to Cayman Islands. I was exhausted and really needed to get away and spend quality time with my family in the sunshine.
I was so organized. AirLine tickets, booked. Hotel, reserved. Airport taxi, called. American dollars, purchased. Car Rental, done. And, my awesome assistant @YMC_BC confirmed everything for me. We were set.
The last thing to do the afternoon before we left was to do online check in for our WestJet flights (which flies direct to Cayman! Yay).
I pulled out our passports and....
my son's passport...
I'm not kidding. At 5pm on Saturday afternoon, our flight leaving at 9am the next morning, I discovered that I had overlooked a little detail.
OMG. We were dead. Already exhausted, I did what any multi-tasking mom who just screwed up does. Cry. Weep. Bawl. And then call down to my husband to break the news. He looked at me in stunned silence and then rubbed my back to calm me down. Inside I'm sure he wanted to strangle me, but he managed to create an air of calm.
"Think", he says. "Who can you call?"
All I can think is Twitter - my lifeline to all problems. I tweet WestJet who has a great Twitter account with this crazed message: "Please call me. It's an emergency." Not 2 minutes later, Greg from WestJet is listening to me sob about my stupidity and the predicament I've put my family into. He jumps into action, contacting a collegue who had had a similar problem. He calls me back with what he believes is an emergency passport number. I thank him so much and call the emergency number, fingers crossed. I'm automatically put on hold for two hours. At which point I give up.
Plan B - hubby stays with my son to get an emergency passport and flies out to meet me and my daughter hopefully a couple of days later.
I call the WestJet call center to change our tickets. The woman at the call centre is very sweet, asking why we're cancelling our flights. I tell her about my stupid mistake. She asks me to hold. She comes back online and tells me she'd just checked a few websites and it seems that Cayman Islands doesn't require a passport - only a valid Birth Certificate.
What?? I'm stunned.
She asks me to hold and again. I'm shaking. Five minutes later she comes back online to confirm the good news.
She is now by best friend. I ask if she would be able to email me those links so I can print out the documentation should we experience any problems at customs. She looks at my file and notices my email address.
"YummyMummyClub?" she asks.
"Yes" I respond
"Erica from YummyMummyClub?" she asks
"Yes, that's me"
"OMG - I just won pink Energizer batteries from your website this week!!" she laughs
I remember the contest that Racheal, our Energizer Mummy, ran on Twitter - asking moms to tweet a holiday joke to win pink batteries.
And then it hits me. Of course she won with a joke - She's from freaking WestJet who have the best jokes in town!! And here's the crazy six degrees of separation - I had retweeted her joke!
We laugh hysterically, then I thank her, blowing kisses into the phone. I was rescued by Shannon at WestJet.
So, what's my point? WestJet runs these ads on TV about how their staff aren't just employees, they're part owners. Here was an example of an employee who, for no reason other than awesome customer service, went beyond what was expected of her. She could have easily politely changed my reservation and did her job well.
She EXCEEDED my expectations and saved my butt.
What I really want is for all the extremely important people at WestJet to read this post and see how their staff is bringing their corporate culture to life and affecting their customers lives in the process. If you're from WestJet and reading this, please give Shannon Leverette and Greg Hounslow a raise and then a hug from me.
For those who do run a business, take note of this tale - of a company who empowers their staff to be human and treat their customers like we matter. And here's what happens when you treat your customers well - From now on, if at all possible I will always fly with WestJet. And when I have to fly prize winners or bloggers - you know who's getting my business.
So, to wrap up this saga - we had no problems at customs. On the way there, the flight crew invited my kids to meet the pilot and sit in the cockpit while a still puffy-eyed mom and relieved dad snapped photos. On the flight home, my restless kids were asked to join the flight crew handing out water to everyone on the plane. Once again, WestJetters creating great experiences for their customers!
And of course, once we landed, we were left with another classic WestJet joke.
Q- What kind of chips do pilots prefer?
A- Plane ones!
I'm still smiling. Thanks WestJet!!"