Sometime in the late 1980s — it was probably 1987 — I traveled cross-country from Peterborough to Vancouver in my little Datsun 510 with my friend Joanna.
Joanna and I had that kind of friendship bred from having “connective tissue friends” between us. In other words, a lot of my friends knew Joanna. And a lot of her friends knew me.
Which is not to say we were strangers: when I showed up at Trent, she was managing Trent Radio and I thought her unbelievably cool and aloof (or rather “caloof,” for they were inextricably linked qualities). I used to write for her zine. And I was her sister’s roommate for a time.
Joanna was best friends with my girlfriend of the day, and somehow it came to be that we both needed to go to Vancouver. I think we both needed to escape from complicated affairs of the heart.
In the case of Joanna, this involved an intertwingling with Louis Fagan.
I met Louis the day he arrived in Peterborough. He showed up in a huge American car with Northwest Territories license plates. He was cooler than hot shit.
I never really became friend with Louis, although because our girlfriends were best friends, we inevitably orbitted each other to some degree. I always found him quiet and imposing, although as I got to know him, some of the veneer rubbed off, which was both good and bad.
Before Joanna and I set off for the west, Louis made her a mix tape. It had a lot of Penguin Cafe Orchestra on it. And many other songs of the same ilk. As it was the only tape we had in the car, we listened to it over and over and over, up through the Sault, down into Minessota, and across the upper mid-west to Washington before punching back up into Canada.
The songs on the tape became welded to our DNA.
Joanna and I traveled remarkably well together, and I only have fond memories of the trip.
I headed back to Peterborough (in a marathon 4-day dash) soon after arrival on the coast; Joanna stayed much longer, then came back, then settled in Vancouver for good, where she remains.
Louis formed a rock band, called Born Again Pagans, that played to some critical acclaim in and around the Peterborough-Toronto musical axis. One of my later girlfriends used to sing with them. Eventually Louis migrated west himself. And in 1997 he died from an overdose.
I hadn’t thought of Louis for a long time. Today, though, I stumbled across this Born Again Pagans MP3 on Foog’s website. It brought back a lot of memories, and suddenly I was standing on the balcony at Peter Robinson College in 1986 as Louis walked into the room for the first time.
Rest in peace.