#63 Everybody Get’s One Free- F*ck Montreal. CVB Get’s Ripped Off.

Little Known Fact. The “H C” on the Montreal Jersey is an abbreviation for the city’s motto: Heist Central. Over the last decade many many bands have had their gear stolen in Montreal, not just CVB.

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13 Everybody Gets One For Free

In the wee hours of the morning oct 20th 2004 someone broke into the Cracker/CVB trailer and stole a bunch of our Camper Van Beethoven instruments. We were in Montreal Quebec. Few people down in the states realize this but Montreal is a little like Manhattan. It’s a relatively safe cosmopolitan big city, but you are really asking for it if you leave your band gear unguarded in the van or trailer.

We hadn’t. We had parked our trailer in the parking lot of the Hotel in the supposed “secure” lot. It really did seem secure as it was just around the side of the building from the reception. Maybe 40-50 meters from the front door. Also we had backed the trailer up as close as we could get to the fence, so it was not really possible to open the back doors very far. Nevertheless some sophisticated thieves managed to get break in. Check it out. These guys were pros:

They drilled a hole or series of holes through the back door next to lock hasps. Then they used something like a “saws all” to cut a rectangle all the way through the doors around the lock hasps. Say 6″ by 6″. this was through 2 layers of sheet metal and 3/8″ plywood. They were there for some time. Then they managed to get the doors open about a foot wide. They squeezed in and took all the guitars, amplifier heads and any item they could get through the opening. Basically all our instruments. The most expensive stuff. The loss was covered by our insurance but still we lost our original instruments. The loss was and still is incalculable in our minds.

And stop asking us if we ever got our instruments back. No we didn’t. Not one.

But that’s only where the nightmare begins and why the Camper Van Beethoven junior hockey league team we sponsor has an F and an M on the Jersey. It stands for “Fuck Montreal” which since 2004 has been the official CVB motto.

(It was changed by unanimous vote of the board of directors on Oct 22nd 2004. Formerly the motto had been “the last band to never stop saying ‘a bad idea is still an idea’”*).

First it had to have been an inside Job. There was only an hour and a half in which the trailer was un-attended. One of the guys had gotten in very late I think it was Victor. Like 4:00 am or later. He went to the van to retrieve something and when he went in the building the night security man asked him if anyone else from the band was coming back to the hotel? This did not seem odd to him at the time. He figured the guy wanted to lock the door and take a nap.

I wasn’t intending to be funny when I searched for images of Montreal police. But this is what I found. They made me do it.

“Fellas: try spending a little less time grooming the moustaches and little more time fighting crime. OK?”

There is a parking attendant’s kiosk in the parking lot. At 6:00 am the parking lot attendant came in and found that his kiosk had been broken into. He explained to me that all the keys were in a pile on his small desk. Like someone had tried to find our van and trailer keys. (Like we would be stupid enough to leave them with a parking attendant.)

So in this short period of time our trailer was robbed. And either the night security person from the hotel, possibly the parking lot attendant or both were in on the scheme.

I don’t remember who discovered the theft. But suddenly we were all at the van. I went to the desk to call the police. We waited some time and the police did not arrive. I went back to the desk and asked them to call the police again. This time they put me on the phone with one of the detectives who told me they were just around the corner and to walk over to the police station. This seemed odd to me. There was a crime scene after all.
“The Montreal Policeman

He wouldn’t get off his ass

So all your shit was stolen

What’s s’matter with that?”

There is a policing technique especially popular in the gallic world. In order to keep crime rates down the gallic police technique is to pretend that no crime ever happened. Try to discourage the victim from even making a report. This makes these french cities seem relatively crime free when compared to their anglo/american counterparts. This is very handy when making the point that french civilization is superior to anglo/american civilization.

It also incentivizes the police officers and detectives because then they don’t actually have to do any work.

At the police station I was asked to fill out a form. Like some kind of petty theft. When i protested i didn’t have room to write all the items stolen and the form was clearly for thefts less than $10,000 CAN (it was printed across the bottom in french and english) I was asked archly If I was “trying to tell them how to do their job?”. Assholes. It went downhill from there. They wouldn’t even come to the crime scene.

“You don’t want to come over and maybe look for evidence or fingerprints?”

“Again Mr lowery you are once again telling me how to do my job. okay? enough”.

They could not have cared less.

Jonathan and Victor had gotten the word out on the internets our website, myspace, friendster even a few gay cruising chatrooms. That was actually me. Hey whatever takes. Word was spreading fast. I suddenly got a couple of calls from the press. Somehow one of the reporters called the local police precinct to find out what they knew.

Did I already tell you that the Montreal Police couldn’t care less? I was wrong. They give a shit about geting interrupted during their 3 hour lunches by journalists.

I got a call on my mobile shortly after this press inquiry. It was the detective in charge of our case. He made it clear we were on his shit list for talking to the press and being prodded to do his job. He told me he was making our case a low priority for making it “political”.

Political? WTF? It took me a while to figure out that i’d wandered into some kind of francophone/anglophone thing. Something to do with which newspaper made the call. Fuck I can’t even figure out the politics in my own country much less Canada’s .

But I do know this. Every country has rivalries between the various levels of city/state/county/provincial/national police. I needed to literally make it a Federal case. This detective and these police were not gonna do shit. So I might as well make there lives miserable. I was in Toronto by this point so it was easy to find how to do this. One of our friends in Toronto worked for the Crown’s attorney office. Basically I made a complaint to federal Canadian authorities that the police in Montreal were not doing there job, and the detectives conduct was completely unprofessional. About 2pm the next night I get aapoplectic call from someone I assume is the same detective. He is now lapsing into mostly french to to chew me out, but apparently to emphasize his points he has to cross back into english to say “mother fucker” and “shit list’.

I would think that a grand language like french; the language of Sartre, Baudelaire and Tocqueville; the language in which Bastiat debated Proudhon, the language in which Galois wrote the foundations of Abstract Algebra; and the language of Monty Python’s famous Flying Sheep sketch; this language would have a word for “shit list”. Apparently not.

Regardless. I was on this guys shit list. As I went through the process of trying to get our insurance money we continued to spar. Copies of the police report of course were needed. Well just put the insurance adjuster in touch with Detective Liste de Merde. Et Voila more angry phone calls! and on and on it went.

Finally I just wrote the fucker into this song.

Yes there’s more to this song than that. It’s got a reference to the Project For A New American Century. It’s got the Inland Empire, it’s got the usual self-deprecating remarks about our musical career and fortunes and of course “papa was a preacher and mama was a go-go dancer”

This song was not designed to be thought about much. It is what it is.

Musically the most interesting thing about the song is that after we recorded it, live it evolved to have a much better ending. I prefer the live version to the album version. perhaps some of you will be so kind as to post a link to a good archive.org version.

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*actually this was the Spot 1019 motto. CVB never had one before that.
Everybody Gets One For Free

[INTRO:]
[A] [D] [A] [G] [D] [A]

[A] I talk to the waitress
Yeah she was pretty hot
She gave me her number
But that’s all I got

CHORUS:
[D] Everybody gets one, everybody gets one for[A] free
[G] Everybody gets one,[D] everybody ‘cept for[A] me

Started a conversation
About the United Nations
Had to use imagination
She was talking about reincarnation

REPEAT CHORUS

Stayed up all night drinking
When I should’ve been home
Had a vision of the blessed virgin
Butt now I’m not sure at all

REPEAT CHORUS

[INSTRUMENTAL: CHORDS AS VERSE THEN CHORUS]

Miguel Urbiztondo
Backstage New Year’s Eve
When the policeman came to look for him
He said “What the fuck do you know?”

REPEAT CHORUS

She from the Inland Empire
Her dad was an umpire
Her mama was a go-go dancer
Everybody got in for free

REPEAT CHORUS

[INSTRUMENTAL: CHORDS AS VERSE THEN CHORUS]

I know that our last record
Didn’t do very well
But now we’re back on the block
With our freedom rock?

REPEAT CHORUS

The Montreal policeman
Wouldn’t get off his ass
So all your shit was stolen
What’s the matter with that?

REPEAT CHORUS

I got a yellow carnation
I got some Kevlar pants
I got a new American Century
Do the freedom-hater’s dance

REPEAT CHORUS

I was driving in my car
It was filled up with yams
For no obvious reason
That’s just who I am

REPEAT CHORUS x2

[G] [A]
Last call
Find the one

Everybody gets one
Everybody gets one ‘cept for me
Everybody gets one ‘cept for me
‘cept for me


1 comment

  • jay

    jay toronto

    ok maybe it's just me being from toronto so therefore having a general hatred for montreal, but like wow. montreal really is fucked mostly, so are we surprised? and wasn't this like the last time y'all have been here? i get it but also i swear other places are better than montreal. and our politics aren't inherently weird, just bad (as politics go), yours are way more confusing.

    ok maybe it's just me being from toronto so therefore having a general hatred for montreal, but like wow. montreal really is fucked mostly, so are we surprised? and wasn't this like the last time y'all have been here? i get it but also i swear other places are better than montreal. and our politics aren't inherently weird, just bad (as politics go), yours are way more confusing.

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