Thursday, April 15, 2010

'There is no real Newfoundland anymore'

I’ve had a few special “moments” in my life as a journalist.

One such moment happened in August 2001 when I interviewed Malachy McCourt, Irish-American author of A Monk Swimming, at a downtown St. John’s restaurant that’s long since closed.

The title of the book was a cute one; Malachy's youthful misunderstanding of the phrase amongst women in the Hail Mary.

Malachy isn’t as well know as his older brother, the late Frank McCourt, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Angela’s Ashes.

But Malachy, who’s starred in his share of TV shows and movies, was quite the talent and character in his day.

The “moment” came at the end of the interview when I asked Malachy what he would be up to next.

Malachy said he was working on a book about the history of the song Danny Boy.

The words had barely skipped from his lips when Danny Boy started playing over the restaurant’s loudspeaker.

Malachy and I looked at each other, stunned at the coincidence.

“Isn’t that lovely?” he said in his Irish lilt.

And it was.

A lovely moment.
•••
I was reminded of that moment earlier today at Memorial University’s Reid Theatre.

I was waiting just offstage to take part in a panel discussion on the Q, CBC Radio’s national arts magazine show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.

The theme of the discussion was “the new Newfoundland.”

I was a little nervous (the show plays live across Canada), with a few hundred people in the audience.

When out of the shadows of the heavy curtains walked the legendary Ron Hynes in his trademark fedora.

The last person I expected to see right then and there.

“There is no real Newfoundland anymore,” he volunteered.

“The real Newfoundland died in ’49.”

The moment wasn't so much lovely, as surreal.

And memorable.

I’m not a journalist anymore, but I still take notes wherever I go.

To capture such moments.
•••
Q is being taped live in St. John’s again tomorrow (Friday, April 16th) as a lead up to Juno weekend.

Thursday’s show was a fabulous time, although the host and crew were lucky to land because of the fog at St. John’s airport.

“There’s nothing like the captain of your flight coming on and saying he might not be able to land,” said Ghomeshi.

There’s a reason why we haven’t lost our rough edges over the past 500 years.

It’s a hard place to live.
•••
Jian talked about Newfoundland’s new found “have” status — our “haveness” is everywhere, in the music, writing and contemporary scene.

Allan Hawco and Mark O’Brien, the stars of Republic of Doyle, were the first two guests.

I didn’t know Allan was born on Bell Island (he grew up in Goulds), or that Mark was from Paradise (and no, Paradise is not part of St. John’s for the information of any mainlanders who might think it is).

I also didn’t know there’s a Republic of Doyle drinking game.

It’s easy enough to play — every time someone gets punched or smacked in the face, take a drink.

There must be some load of half-cut Canadians on Wednesday nights.
•••
The St. John’s-based Pathological Lovers performed live on stage during the show.

Nothing better than rock 'n' roll on a happy Thursday morning.

Lead singer Jody Richardson, who's been voted Newfoundland’s best rock star three years running (our version of a middle-aged Jagger — only better), is old friends with Jian.

Jian used to play in a band and toured with Jody years ago.

Jody's father apparently thought Jian played in Motley Crew.

He's good.

Just not that good.
•••
The panel discussion went well enough, although I couldn't get Ron's quote out of my head.

Jian asked me what the impact of oil wealth would have on our culture.

I’m more concerned about what the absence of fish and forestry will have on our culture.

Will we still be singing Squid Jiggin’ Ground 20 or 30 years down the road if there’s no squid jiggin’ going on?
•••
Ron Hynes was last up, where the best is usually saved for.

“It’s a bit early in the day to be doin’ this sort of thing,” said Ron, interviewed at just after 11 in the morning.

“There was a time in my life when I didn’t know there were two 8 o’clocks in one day.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has Sonny's dream, become just stories he's read.