the don of a new era

When I got the gig to play CB’s Gallery in New York in the early 90s, I asked my manager, Don, to come with me. Never imagined doing it all alone plus I felt certain I could request Don drive in the city. I felt very nervous anticipating New York drivers just because it’s a famous big city. At the border they saw my papers, which were organized in advance through the Musicians Union, a permit to play a promotional gig in New York. I had short hair, clean cut and Don had long hair and pirate ear rings, if I was a customs officer, probably I would conclude he was the rock star and me the manager, and they too thought something fishy about these guys in the van. They did not allow him in. We tried to convince them he’s just helping me, in case I break a guitar string or drop my guitar pick while playing. The mistake I made was saying he works with me. That launched the knee jerk playback – sorry he can’t work in America. I said no no no he isn’t earning anything, he’s just helping me. Too late, I said “working”. In an unfriendlier final tone they said you can work in America, he can’t! You can enter, but he can’t! If you try to cross again you’ll be breaking the law. So we did the smartest thing we could, drove to a different border crossing and tried again. There, in Lewiston, they checked computers and returned informing us we had been turned back earlier and now we were breaking the law and they could seize the van. It was like a Donald Trump tweet from the future… sad. I guess seizing the van is a hassle for them because they let us go but really did scare the shit out of me. Don got on a bus back to Toronto and I proceeded alone. The incredible discovery that time, was you can only cut someone off so fast. Turns out Toronto achieved that point of saturation, and driving in New York City was exactly the same as what I was familiar with in Toronto, except for the caveat that they simultaneously honk every second.

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