It's been a long time since I have written The Stringer.
A lot has happened in that time. Guess as John Lennon says “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans..”
I was covering the local arts and entertainment scene for the Waterloo Regional Record and that kept me very busy writing sometimes three articles a week.
But thanks to the pandemic, that ended in March 2020 when everything shut down and there was nothing much to write about anymore.
My radio show has also kept me very busy and I happy to say that The Afternoon Drive on community radio station 985 CKWR is now six years old.
When my local writing gigs dried up I decided to find some other writing avenues out of town.
Thanks to a radio colleague I found an old writing contact and started freelancing for her online publication Samaritan Magazine in Toronto.
I found a new connection to alternative lifestyles magazine Harrowsmith where I sold my first freelance article in 1977 when I was in Journalism at Conestoga College.
It was about St Jacobs blacksmith John Martin and the story was called “On The Brink of Museumhood.”
Needless to say, the editor was astonished when I sent her a scan of this article.
She was thrilled and gave me another assignment.
Now I am working on a feature story called Road Trip to St Jacobs which should come out in the summer of 2022.
I also figured it was time to write my first book.
I always thought it was going to be an interview book about some of the conversations I had with famous people throughout my career.
But fate had something different in store.
A few years ago, I also reconnected with an old friend, Milan Hrazdilek my boss from The Metro Tavern where I worked for many years as a waitress upstairs and a deejay / waitress downstairs at The Back Door.
We have been together ever since.
Milan's son Michael came to visit us from the Czech Republic and when I told him I was writing a book about the people I had interviewed, he seemed shocked.
“There is only one book you can write,” he exclaimed. “Write about the %$#@! Back Door.”
Michael Kubenk is now a famous deejay called DJ Czech. He learned to spin records in that little basement bar and I helped to teach him that skill when he was a kid.
Maybe he had a point.
So, with some help from a good friend, I applied for a Waterloo Region Arts Fund grant and got the money to write my first book.
At first it was going very well but then the unthinkable happened.
In the late summer of 2020 I lost my mother, then in March of 2021 I lost my longtime cat Siprio and in the late fall of 2021 I lost a dear friend.
I was halfway through the book and had to pause, reflect and process all of this loss. I am dealing with this as best I can and some days it is still tough.
After a wee break, I am now ready to complete the second half of this book and I have had the most wonderful time uncovering more colourful stories as the days go by.
I can tell you this.
The Back Door was more than a bar. It was the people who worked there. It was the artists who played there. It was the extraordinary cast of characters who made this ever-changing crypt legendary.
I was there. I lived it. And it lives on in me....
Stay tuned to this page for more updates in the weeks and months to come.
#MakingArtHappen #rwartsfund @rwartsfund