Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My Fishing Trip with Bob Dylan

i enjoy listening to bob dylan's music
a couple times a week i'll put on an album side
and drift away while doing chores or making dinner for the boys

i've read a lot of books about bob dylan
i find them very boring
i was excited about the greil marcus one that just came out
shari got it for me
i keep reading it and falling asleep
it's like watching the golf channel on a sunday afternoon
i keep thinking that i should write my own book about bob
but i got nothing to say
at least nothing that i'd feel comfortable sharing with other people
what's the quote?
something to the effect of 'writing about music is like dancing to architecture'

i got to wondering how bob was spending his 70th birthday
so i phoned his head office
and invited him to come fishing with me
i got a call back
and they politely declined
so i headed up to my friend rob's cottage by myself
and prepared the dock for a mid afternoon boat ride to a honey hole i know

the motor on the boat took a few pulls to get going
it was an old mercury
i primed and primed it
but it still wouldn't start
i was distraught over how much effort it took to simply get the boat afloat
"you're flooding it"  a voice over my shoulder said
it was bob
he'd made the journey after all

"i'll let it sit a minute and try it again," i said

"nice country up here"

"you're in the kawartha's," i said, "not quite as chic as the muskokas. I prefer it. there's cottages here - not condos."

"i can see that" said bob. "you need a new dock."

"i know. my kids keep getting splinters on this dock"
still - there was no immediate plans ever spoken about getting a new dock
i sat in the boat and gazed out across the water
the sun was beating down on bat lake and it was getting too close to mid afternoon
i knew fish took a lot of coaxing to bite at this time of day

"try it now," said bob

sure enough the mercury choked itself to life
we creaked our way into the boat and headed for the honey hole
it was only a short jaunt across the water
bob was fixing his line with a bobber

"what kind of bait you using" i asked

"the grandkids got me this lure for my birthday'" said bob

"it's pretty shiny for this time of day"

"we'll see"

"what's in this lake?" asked bob, squinting as he surveyed the water

"perch, sunfish - maybe we'll get lucky and catch a bass"

"any catfish?"

"yeah'" i said, "but we have to paddle up a creek and it's too hot for that"

"yeah -  i guess," said bob, "i've only ever caught one catfish"

"what'd you use?"

"a piece of cheese - the fish took it right away!"

we sat in silence for a while
bob let his bobber sit patiently in the water
while i cast out different sides of the boat

"my friend, des, and i write songs that we think you'd write - we take historical figures and put them on different modes of transportation"

bob almost smiled "yeah? like what?"

"like 'mozart in a go cart' or ' a coup de ville with cecil b demille' "

"sure, why not? but it's been done. you got anything to drink?"

i had packed a small cooler with some drinks and some packages of crackers

"yeah thanks - that's a good name"



we fished a while longer
i caught the same sunfish twice
bob reeled in a small mouth bass
but nothing worth keeping
the sun was heading west and the fish were heading east
it was nice to do nothing but sit in a boat

"you voting for vancouver?" i asked

"in what sense?"

"nhl! hockey finals! stanley cup!"

"yeah - okay - i'll vote for vancouver. I like canada a lot - so why not?"

"what sports do you follow?

"i like baseball."

i nodded
who doesn't like baseball
doesn't matter what the circumstances are
everyone can swing a bat

we sat on bat lake a while longer
we could hear a radio come and go from the far side of the lake
"that sounds like…"

"hoagey carmichael" said bob. "he's great."

we listened to the song weave in and out of our hearing range
there wasn't much wind
but what little there as greatly affected the audibility
somehow hearing the song in broken pieces was better than hearing it whole

"you want a packet of ritz?"

"no thanks. but i got a hankering for some french fries"

"i got some mcCain fries back at the cottage - i could heat 'em up."

"well, i don't know, it's getting late and i should get going soon."

"back to your house in ireland?"

"no," said bob, wincing a little, "we're doing a family thing on the west coast."

my line jerked "hey! - i gotta bite."
i tugged back and felt something tug back in turn
the black water rippled slightly where my line met
then the line went dead
and i pulled in a bunch of weeds

"there's some salad to go with your french fries" bob joked

we reeled in our lines and stowed the empty snapple bottles
i pulled the small anchor onto the boat
and we set course back to the dock
i could have swam it
but it was nice to be in the boat

we tied up the boat
i gave bob a helping hand to get onto the dock
we walked back up to the cottage
i noticed bob's car

"I drive a caddy too," i said. "mines considerably older. I just can't wrap my head around getting a new one. i love this car"

"i like the feel of the caddy's on the highway" said bob. "i don't care for driving much in the city"

"the old ones have the automatic trunk opener" i said pressing the button on my key fob, "this is my favourite feature on the car"

"yeah - they got rid of that on the new ones - i guess too many people were getting bonked in the head."

we loaded bob's tackle into the trunk
i gave him a snapple for the road
i took a quick look into his car
there was a willie nelson cd on the passenger seat
a cell phone
and in cup holder was a tim horton's coffee cup
i felt a moment or national pride
but decided not to comment on it
bob got into the car - started it - and rolled down the window

"i appreciate the invite," he said, "beautiful country here"

"really glad you could make it" i hesitated
i wanted to ask him about his recording techniques
or whether he was aware that no other band on earth is playing like his band
"happy birthday, bob" i said

"thanks a lot. try and catch a show sometime soon"
he rolled up the window and drove off

i yelled out "make sure to turn left at the big rock!"
but it was too late
he was already gone

craig martin
wednesday may 25, 2011
wild turkey bourbon

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