The Permanent Stains 30th Anniversary Tour

The Permanent Stains were formed thirty years ago in Ottawa. At various times the members have consisted of Adam Clarke (“Ferdinand Fleming”), brothers Nick (“Bruford T. Justice”) and Malcolm Fraser (“Malstain”), Mark Haney (“The Mighty Moose of Ages”), Adam Traynor (“Rolled Oats”), Brian Leonard, Erik “the Savior” Otto, Peaches, Fraser Robinson (“Tex Styles”), and a mascot known as Yogurt Boy, who danced with salad tongs wearing an insectoid crash helmet and a bathrobe. I spoke to four members of the Stains, Malcolm Fraser, Mark Haney, Fraser Robinson, and Adam Traynor ahead of their 30th anniversary tour.

What’s your most memorable gig?
MH: For me it’s the baby pool show at Glebe High School. I had a baby pool full of soapy water to frolic in, got a blender full of fish and lime juice dumped on me, Mal demonstrated the “Yo Joe!” sodomy position on me in the pool and (most importantly) we crossed over from being theoretically dangerous to literally so.

MF: There are lots but one of my favourites is when we had a Montreal gig cancelled. We decided then and there that we would play a show that night no matter what. We went around to a couple of bars and in the second one, Nick knew a member of the band so we hustled our way onto the bill. We passed the hat and made $28, which I was pretty impressed with until I found out that our friend had put in $20. Nonetheless, I’m glad we had the moxie to make that happen.

FR: I still have the fondest memories for a show we played in this garage across from a strip club in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 2000. Full of drunk, underage francophone kids who got really into the set, we played with a primal energy that I haven’t quite channeled since. Bruford won a bunch of money on the fruit machine at the strip club beforehand and later the cops broke up the gig. Couldn’t ask for a better night.

AT: At a Gong Show-themed event in Toronto, I got in to a shoving match with a burly meathead who was heckling our opener, Mike Foxxx. Having antagonised the audience, the vibe was already charged when we took the stage, and became literally so while we played: some grounding problem with (or sabotage of!?) the electrical current caused my fingers to conduct electricity via my guitar stings, and I received a jarring shock of electrocution with every note I played.

Tell me about some venues you have played at?
MF: Skinhead basement party, karaoke boozecan in a church basement, teenage drinking party in a strip club basement… hmm, I sense a theme here…

FR: One of my favourites was this Karaoke Bar that wasn’t even a Karaoke Bar. Ottawa’s best Karaoke host, Carmen (RIP), relocated at one point to a boozecan that some old Chinese guys set up in a community centre gym. We managed to sort out a gig there opening for him and it was amazing, we opened for Karaoke – and brought a decent crowd too. The regulars didn’t really know what to make of the whole thing.

AT: Carman’s karaoke speakeasy in the back room of Christ The Saviour Orthodox Church in Ottawa’s Chinatown. An all-ages punk basement speakeasy in Sherbrooke (while the cops circled outside). Club Zone, a cheesy bar next to Concordia University in Montreal where we successfully crashed the bill on the day our scheduled gig fell through. Planet Kensington in Toronto (several times). Saw Gallery, Café Alternatif and Porter Hall in Ottawa throughout the 90s, Tex Mex’s parents’ basement in Ottawa, and Dave Dawson’s parents’ basement in Ottawa.

Please list some of your favourite stage costumes.
My first Stains costume will forever be my favourite. Fuzzy white fur hat, coconut bra, hollowed out cucumber. Everything since then has been a disappointment.

MF: Nick covering his face in Band-Aids, Mark wearing a hollowed-out cucumber taped to his penis, Yogurt Boy’s iconic helmet… there was also a time when Nick and I dressed as riot grrls – we had torn shirts, miniskirts and the words “SLUT” and “WHORE” written on our midriffs in black marker. Somehow I don’t feel like that would go over well today, but I guess you had to be there…

FR: My Spiderman with moustache and mohawk remains my best look. Not just on stage, but in life.

AT: Australian flag diaper. Artificial flesh mask made of Band-Aids. Superman doll codpiece. Hollow cucumber codpiece with edible tip. Singing telegram tux & tails. Royal Canadian Airborne t-shirt with hazing slogans scrawled in faeces

Did you ever have any groupies?
You mean other than Fraser?

FR: Not sure about groupies but I think Bruford started a relationship with a long term girlfriend right after he and The Mighty Moose of Ages made out in the peanut butter and chocolate sauce filled kiddie-pool at the ’93 Glebe Fringe Festival show in Ottawa. That kind of thing really says “good boyfriend material.”  

AT: 97.

What’s on your rider?
In a perfect world, a large deli spread with a selection of alcohol; this may sound stupidly modest but since the reality is going to be “you can change in the washroom” it seems like a dream.

AT: White sports socks (x6 pair). Locally-sourced artisanal maraschinos. Goofballs.

In the Another Video video, what were you pouring on each other and rolling in?
Part of that is the soapy water, fish and lime described above. There is a also a snippet of Nick and I wrestling and covering each other in peanut butter and chocolate sauce.

MF: I can’t remember all the ingredients, but it definitely contained frozen fish sticks.

AT: I believe that’s Captain Highliner frozen breaded fish sticks, puréed.

What is your personal favourite song? Lyric?
MH: Super Christ Brothers, “You can all fucking suck me” from the same.

MF: I really like a lyric that Nick sang on the recorded version of “Super Christ Brothers.” He was just ranting incoherently for the most part, but the only decipherable lyrics are “That’s all right, do what you want. Why is that what you want?” I’m quite sure it was just off the top of his head, but I still think it’s pretty deep.

FR:  Song: “Why.” Lyric: Why

AT: Song: “Cold Frankfurter.” Lyric: “That’s alright/do what you want/why is that what you want?” (from “Super Christ Brothers”).

Will there be nudity at any of your upcoming shows?
MH: Not sure. Gratuitous nudity was always my department, and while I’m not planning anything at this time I’m certainly not opposed to it. At all.

FR: We’re not quite the lithe young studs we once were but it shouldn’t be ruled out.

AT: Only the truth will be naked.

Most memorable Permanent Stains concert attendees or events at concerts (ie. bar brawls).
MH: I think Mal losing his shit and beating on Nick and I in Ottawa during our 14th Anniversary Tour is my most memorable. Nick was getting it for trying to shave Mal’s head, I was getting it because Mal just assumed I was involved.

FR: On the bar brawl front: Malstain and Bruford once got into a full-on tussle on-stage after Bruford tried to shave Malstain’s head as a surprise during a song. The razor gouged into Mal’s head and cut him open, he responded with a wild haymaker in Bruford’s direction and a donnybrook ensued. Fortunately Yogurt Boy (actually a stand-in for an AWOL Yogurt in the form of Christian Moreton, our tour manager) jumped into the fray and diffused it with a sort of blanket hug that cleared the red mist.

AT: Members of Mighty Moose’s church group, in attendance at the Liam’s basement show in Ottawa, where they witnessed Mal biting the tip off Mighty Moose’s hollow cucumber codpiece.

Are you familiar with the Real Housewives franchise on Bravo? Who do the Stains most resemble? 

FR: I am familiar with this franchise. We’re the musical equivalent of Lisa Rinna’s lips.

So there you have it. Fulsome, mesmerizing, notorious, and cherished by Harry Hamlin, The Permanent Stains’ 30th anniversary tour will visit:

Wednesday August 9 – OttawaPressed 8pm 
Thursday August 10 – MontrealLa Vitrola  9pm
Friday August 11 – North BayWhite Water Gallery 8:30 pm
Saturday August 12 – TorontoBurdock 8:30 pm
Sunday August 13 – PeterboroughThe Spill 

The Stains’ 2004 autobiography:
“Super Christ Bros”:


Leonid Brezhnev: The Man and His Style, by Henry Kissinger


“With experience and exposure in dealing with Western leaders, Brezhnev has gained assurance. He has come to enjoy the prerequisites of office–he enjoys fancy cars, natty clothes and a certain elevated lifestyle. In short, he has some of the characteristics of the nouveau-riche. Yet he is proud, as Khrushchev was, of his proletarian background and his march up the ladder of power.

… Brezhnev is a nervous man, partly because of personal insecurity, partly for physiological reasons traced to his consumption of alcohol and tobacco, his history of heart disease and the pressures of his job. You will find his hands perpetually in motion, twirling his gold watch chain, flicking ashes from his ever-present cigarette, clanging his cigarette holder against an ash tray. From time to time, he may stand up behind his chair or walk about. He is likely to interrupt himself or you by offering food or drink. His colleagues obviously humor him in these nervous habits.”

Henry A. Kissinger.
(Box 1 – 11/1/74 – 11/12/74) at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

A Birthday Present from Little Richard

Little Richard in 2007.jpgSome books begin slowly, gradually drawing a reader in, while others never quite take hold. Then there’s The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, which has this memory from the singer’s childhood on page 5: 

“I used to give people rocks and things as presents, but I once did something worse than that. I had a bowel movement in a box, in a shoebox or something like that, and I packed it up like a present and gave it to an old lady next to Mathis Groceries, on Monroe street, in Pleasant Hill. I went to her on her birthday and I said, ‘Miz Ola, how you bin?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Richard, I feel so fine. Richard, you’re such a nice child.’ I said, ‘Miz Ola, I’ve just come to wish you a happy birthday, I’ve brought you a present. Look.’ She said, ‘Ohhh, thank you so much.’ So she took this big old shoebox with the stuff in it. I went off and waited around the corner of the house to listen for her reactions. I was hoping that she would open it while the other ladies were there, and she did. She wanted to show them what I had brought her. She said, ‘Let us see what Richard has brought for me.’ Then I just heard somebody say, ‘Aaaaaaa, aaaaaaahhh–I’m gonna kill him. I’ll kill him!’ She was crippled, but she leaped off the porch and she was walking without her stick! I laughed like a cuckoo! God bless Miz Ola, she’s dead now.”

The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, Charles White, Harmony Books, 1984.

Photograph: Anna Bleker

Presidential Dreams

In the early days of 1991, the late Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush appeared to his son, then-President George Herbert Walker in a dream:

“We were driving into some hotel near a golf course, and there was another golf course way over across the fence, though not a very good one. I heard Dad was there, so I went to see him, and he was in a hotel room. We embraced, and I told him I missed him very much. Aren’t dreams funny? I could see him very clearly: big, strong, and highly respected.”

Ronald Reagan believed in the divinatory power of dreams:

“It was always the same thing, maybe a different locale or something, but I evidently had a yen for big rooms. And I would dream that I was in a big mansion, and I could buy it for a song. A man was showing it to me, and I would go from room to room, and maybe go into the living room, which was two stories high, and there was a balcony. And always, it was within my means to buy it. And I had this dream all the time. After we moved into the White House, I was IN the big room. And I never had the dream since.”

Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner Ward Lamon recalled that the President was disturbed by a dream he’d had a few weeks before his assassination.

“… I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me, but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?… Determined to find the cause of all of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived in the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards, and there was a throng of people gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer, ‘he was killed by an assassin.'”

Paul Haggis’ Possible Cameo in “War of the Worlds”

In 2004, the screenwriter and director Paul Haggis visited the set of War of the Worlds. At the time, Haggis and Tom Cruise were Scientology’s two most famous disciples. Haggis told the author Lawrence Wright that a tent where Scientology materials were distributed was erected on the set, and recounted a conversation he’d had with War‘s director, Steven Spielberg.

“It’s really remarkable to me that I’ve met all these Scientologists, and they seem like the nicest people,” Spielberg told Haggis, who quipped, “Yeah, we keep all the evil ones in a closet.”

About an hour into War of the Worlds, an extra bearing a resemblance to Haggis is briefly on camera. Is it him? Twenty rewinds and three screenshots have borne no conclusive proof.

The Reason Keith Haring Chose a Baby Logo

“When I was 21 I spent a summer teaching ‘Art’ at a day-care center in Brooklyn. It was the most fulfilling summer of my life. There is nothing that makes me happier than making a child smile. The reason that the ‘baby’ has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.

Children are the bearers of life in its simplest and most joyous form. Children are color-blind and still free of all the complications, greed, and hatred that will slowly be instilled in them through life.

I will never forget some of the adults who touched me through my childhood. Sometimes very brief encounters have made an impact that is very lasting and very real. If it is possible for me to have that kind of effect on any children, I think that would be the most important and useful thing I could do.

Touching people’s lives in a positive way is as close as I can get to an idea of religion…

…Children know something that most people have forgotten. Children possess a fascination with their everyday existence that is very special and would be very helpful to adults if they could learn to understand and respect it.

I am now 28 years old on the outside and nearly 12 years old on the inside. I always want to stay 12 years old on the inside.” Keith Haring, July 7, 1986, Montreux.

Keith Haring Journals, Penguin Books, 1996.