"What can a man do
with music who is not benevolent?" - Confucius
I get up
early and take a drive to find Tagish Estates that the German in Atlin told me
about, but they end up being too claustrophobic - square lots with few trees
built in the middle of a field without any water around. The land simply isn't
sexy enough so I return to our makeshift camp where I meet up with Remy. We
decide to take our coffee to go in an effort to reach Whitehorse before
shines to its fullest in the blue sky as we pass wintergreen forests carpeted
with butterscotch pine needles. Grace and justice in the balance of nature that
stirs the healthy aspects of my instinct. Old knots in my person begin to
unwind as we drive deeper north into the Yukon. Nothing but trees and rock
un-manicured by the hand of hand and illustrations of the battle of nature with
fallen trees and creeks crashing through the brush overtaking ground lost to
the advent of time.
enter Whitehorse through a valley bleached by the sun. All along the east side
of the highway the mountain range is parched white from the sunsets. I don't
know what the official colours of Whitehorse are but they should be white and
blue: the bright white sheen of exposed rock on the mountain slopes facing west
and the light blue of the cloudless sky.
town Remy and I pass several busy taverns and then stop at a hotel bar, where
there are natives hanging out in the parking lot. Remy parks way to the other
side, maybe thirty yards away from the hotel, whereas I park halfway between
the two extremes, far enough away from the loitering Indians and out of visual
distance of Remy. Parked and relieved we made Whitehorse, I go to Remy's
vibe! Looks like a party town," he says, relishing his new geography. "It's Saturday
night pilgrim." Remy flicks his hair back and looks like the brother I knew
when we were kids. He rolls up a joint and I bite into a Dill pickle and
slobber on the front of my jacket.
you like this place?"
so far. We'll see how my dreams are tonight. I haven't seen any planes
following me today or UFOs, but then again I haven't been looking for them." I
really don't know if he's joking or not, which bothers me. There should never
be a cleavage in our mutual understanding.
UFOs, that's good."
the 60th parallel. A new vista. No electronic turbulence. The
natural magnetic force from the pole is throwing radar out of whack so those peoples who follow me
can't track me. We're protected here. My implant in my arm isn't transmitting."
The knot of worry returns to my gut so I guzzle more beer before we leave for
the bar. Remy follows my pace of libation intake.
your implant?" I ask as nonchalantly as I can, as if I'm asking about the
weather. He rolls up his sleeve and shows me a half-inch long scar on his
forearm near his elbow.
got it when I was pierced. Have I ever shown this to you before?"
I feel like ripping it out but it would be too bloody." I tell him about the
dream I had a few nights ago, about throwing the stone and then the two boys
putting an electronic device in my arm.
he says. "And yet you still don't believe me."
never said that."
can see it in your eyes Trapp. He who is
free of sin cast the first stone," he says. The same words coming out of
his mouth. Another eerie coincidence.
do you think it means?"
I nod. "You arrived in Canada and are now throwing a stone to find a new home
in the country, like a fisherman casting his line in the water. But finding a
home might be more difficult than you think and might cause some blood. But you
also have to search with respect for the laws of spiritual cleanliness and for
the people of this land and for the land itself. You must learn to have love in
your heart and get rid of anger and resentment that is still there. God will
watch you and activate the electronic device in your arm until you learn how to
love your neighbour. Only then will you have the devices removed and grow into
a bigger man." There is a creeping, prickly sensation that wanders up the back
of my neck in the silence. I shake my head in amazement.
said than done," I mutter.
you said it yourself. You decided to clean up the blood with profound sincerity
only if they treated you with respect, right?"
that's how you do it. You need that genuine, unfeigned affection in your heart
for everyone and you will see how they will all react in kind, the same way as
the Indian with the cheekbones in your dream."
why did the children remove the electronic device from my arm after I helped
clean up the mess? Because I showed respect?"
the guilt from committing the act was causing you the pain. Once you faced up
to it by cleaning up the mess you made and treating those you assaulted with
respect and humility, the pain that had troubled you disappeared." I sit in
silence thinking about it.
I begin to ask but Remy already knows my question.
dreams are an important part of the Red Man's culture. Reading dreams is a way
of figuring out how to heal people - and yourself. They are divine signs from
That why I sleep-in and write my dreams down." He lights another candle and we
both drink more beer.
I think it may mean something else."
thought it might symbolize my resistance to accepting my Indian blood. You seem
to have embraced it whole-heartedly but I'm still resisting it. I grew up white
and now, in my late thirties, we learn that we're part Indian? It's a bit much,
non? And it's a serious hit, enough
at least to cause a paradigm shift. So I've been keeping the whole thing at
bay. After all, we're only about one-sixteenth Red Man or something like that."
then the dream is showing you that you should embrace your Indian side."
yeah. Once I decided to help clean up the blood, the Indian with the cheekbones
and the two kids responded positively to me. Showing respect is a big deal in
native culture, isn't it? So when I changed, the searing pain in my arm ceased.
Once I stopped walking away from the issue and treated the natives - and by
extension the native way of life - with respect, I was treated with respect. Or
in other words, once I respected the notion of being Metis, the pain
"Highly sallassie," he says pensively.
the Creator is telling me to go native like you?"
"Or is showing you the way to healing the anger
in your heart." Exposed and naked, I feel like I'm in a fishbowl for others to
see but that I cannot. It's all a bit close to the bone for me so we finish our
beers and explore Whitehorse. In the Arctic air, we walk to the Belvedere
Hotel, the place where David Miller played with his band many years ago, which
is also the oldest-looking tavern in downtown. The last part of the walk we are
arm-and-arm and swaying in exaggerated turns like a meandering stream. We both
have drunk our share of beer and the alcohol has gone a long way to ease my
anxiety about satellites and FUBAR
radar. Pausing for a moment when we get to the wooden doors of the
tavern, we both straighten our posture and walk into the bar trying to look
relatively sober. The long drive north has exhausted me. We sit at a table in
front of a band on stage. Remy is full of beans and can't sit still.
we made it," he says.
have indeed." I'm flat and deflated so Remy jumps up and starts bopping up and
down like a yo-yo on the dance floor with a little brunette swinging her hips.
His dancing technique is infectious: halfway through the song there are a half
dozen people on the dance floor but by the end of it there are a dozen people
up there being as silly as Remy. He is in rhythm and in his flow and his body has become one with
the guitar and he twangs himself like he is at the mercy of the music and completely
dedicated to the beat. The band plays several encores and there is Remy's head
going up and down, clearly the tallest of all the dancers in front of the
stage. But he has a slight bend in his posture that makes him stand out from
the rest. I can't help feeling sad as I watch him from the table and nurse my
beer witnessed such a brash display of his freedom of self. Where does it come
from? Am I too sinned with pride to let loose like that?
one of the breaks Remy talks to the keyboardist and they go out for a smoke
with a few of the band members. When they come back and hit the stage they jump
into a cool riff and then the guitarist strums a series of solos that has the
keyboardist shaking his head up and down looking at Remy who is like a malleable
pogo-stick the way he dodges the beat and leans back as if someone if pulling
his hair. "Houy! Hiiiiigh!" he yells. Grunts and groans are smothered by the
notes blasting out of the Gibson and the bass in the midst of smashing
percussion that hammers home the groove and lights spray to the corners of the
saloon and come back to the dance floor as if controlled by Remy's fingertips.
His head balls around, hair all over the place, and his feet move as if
governed by Bacchus himself. People are drawn to him like metal to a magnet: a
hub of energy that those around him feed off gaining some elixir of life like
the magic potion of Getafix of Gaul that makes you levitate against gravity and
look down on that other life that holds you back and doesn't let you breathe.
Like birds around a feeder they suck from Remy and bask in his light offering
no acknowledgment that it is he who is giving them the excuse to shed their
skin and master the Now. This is his bar, his place and tonight Whitehorse is his city but Remy doesn't live in a town or city, he lives in a
country. Five thousand kilometres of traveling and sleeping in his camper and
he is single-handedly energizing the whole pub. People who see him bouncing
around say this is where the party is; Whitehorse, the Yukon, this band,
this bar, right now is all Remy
knows. This is the movie and tomorrow
doesn't exist - the iron is hot now! He bounces right up to the singer on the
stage and bellows lyrics of a cover song he knows by heart and I hear the
signature cadence of his voice coming from the speakers in all four corners of
the saloon. Even the old timers and regulars at the long bar turn and watch the
sudden party that has sprung up spoking outwards from one lone figure with the
big head and long hair all over the place. The song goes on as some extended
remix with more guitar solos and the keyboardist going crazy with an arm
flailing like Remy. I can see Remy's medicine bundle flopping up and down on
his hip from his belt that follows his movements and smokers come out of the
smoking room and follow the buzz on the dance floor. The floor is over-flowing
now and the air is thick with screaming guitars and lights flashing and
drumsticks whipping the skins all balanced on a bass riff that holds the entire
precipice afloat with one tall dancer a beacon of energy emitting joy without a
care in the world.
on the other hand, sit in the corner with droopy posture and piercing shoulder
pain unable to shake a profound sadness in my heart. Yes, I think to myself,
we're both mirror extremists, one in the north and the other in the south.