One Lush’s Night with Ricky, Julian and Bubbles
"Trailer Park Boys," the series, aired on Canada's Showcase channel from 2001 to 2007. Set in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in my home province of Nova Scotia, it chronicled the exploits of three friends as they concoct inane and frequently illegal moneymaking schemes and drift in and out of prison. There's the impulsive and hot-headed Ricky, gentle kitty lover (hoarder?) Bubbles, who's perhaps just a little touched in the head, and rum-and-Coke-swilling straight man Julian who is, relatively speaking, the brains of the operation. Together with a cast of equally goofy supporting players, they dream big dope-fuelled dreams and get into scrapes with their arch-nemeses, the surly alcoholic park superintendent Mr. Lahey and his assistant Randy.
The Booze: Unable, or was it unwilling, to choose just one drink for this momentous occasion, I instead decide to go with a pan-Canadian theme. Starting on the west coast and working eastward, I shall drink my way across the true north strong and free and, by the time I hit the Atlantic provinces, probably highly buzzed.
The Movie: Countdown to Liquor Day is the second Trailer Park Boys feature film, and the first one released since the series ended in 2007. It begins, like many of the TV series' season openers, with the boys being released from prison and vowing revenge on the man who put them there: the dastardly Mr. Lahey.
Pause for refreshment #1: Beautiful BC. In the spirit of the evening's entertainment, it would have been logical to sample the Left Coast's most famous export; however, I figured I'd best keep things legal, this being a family website and all. (Wait, this isn't a family site? Aw, dang it!) British Columbia is known to produce some fantastic wines, and from them, Painted Turtle Sauvignon Blanc was selected because the citrus notes and pear aroma described on the bottle sounded very appealing. Well, that and I thought my pet painted turtle Toonie would be flattered. As it turned out, Toonie was rather indifferent to the gesture. Ungrateful bastard. However, the wine lived up to its description. Light and lovely, a worthy selection.
The boys return to Sunnyvale after acquiring some new wheels and a bit of cash, only to find the trailer park in a shambles. Bubbles' twenty-seven kitties have been impounded at the local shelter, and he is told that he has to come up with a $100-a-head fee to get them back. In order to get back on their feet the boys need a plan, and that plan is Success Auto Body, the business envisioned by Julian during their most recent stay behind bars.
Meanwhile, the newly clean and sober Mr. Lahey has constructed a new, high-end "luxury" trailer park nearby. In order to connect the sewer line, Lahey needs to acquire Julian's Sunnyvale trailer lot. However, Julian refuses to sell, unwilling to part with the future site of Success Auto Body.
Pause for refreshment #2: The Fertile Prairies. The flatlands are known for growing grains. Lots of grains. Oh hey, you know what's really great and made of grain? No, not sliced bread, you fool. Beer! Alberta's Big Rock Traditional Ale was next up on the menu. While I generally prefer to drink my beer from a bottle, likely due to fond associations from my infancy, because this beer was only available in a can I made an exception. I'm glad I did, as this brown ale was a delightful surprise: dark but not too heavy tasting, even a wee bit chocolatey, this will not be the last time I bring this beauty home with me.
Julian recruits his friends, aspiring white-boy rapper J-Roc and his would-be DJ Tyrone, to work for him at Success. Despite J-Roc's misgivings about the soundness of the venture (or as he puts it, "His ego writin' checks his brain can't cash, dawg"), they show up at the grand opening.
Pause for refreshment #3: Ontario, the Centre of the
UniverseCountry. Ontario is home to Canada's capital city, as well as its largest city, its tallest tower, a decent-sized waterfall...ah yes, though its poor relations to the east and west may grumble, the province truly has a lot to boast about. Ontario's entry in tonight's cross-country tour, Mill Street Brewery's Original Organic Lager, should be counted among them. It's a treat--a light-tasting beer, but hoppily bitter enough to be interesting. And it's organic, which warms the cockles of the heart of this happy little hippie.
Sadly, the grand opening is not a Success (I know what you're thinking, and believe it or not, I did come up with that all by myself), and Ricky storms off to the marina to seek the comfort and wisdom of his father. He tells his dad about the boys' latest run of bad luck, professes his dream of finally getting a high school diploma, and reveals the brilliant moneymaking venture that he would get the boys to help him with if only he were the group leader instead of Julian. With a touching metaphor involving jumper cables, Ricky's father gently explains to him that sometimes, you just have to take charge of your own destiny and not let your friends decide your future for you.
Pause for refreshment #4: Metropolitan and Sexy Quebec. Ah oui, we have reached La Belle Province. I think to myself, "Another beer?" I have enjoyed Quebec beers before...a sassy blonde ale, a nice brune, oh, and there was that fantastic little apricot number. But no, I decide that beer doesn't quite do Quebec justice. A distinct society deserves a distinct drink. Something French...something Canadian...something classy, by golly.
A devious smile settles across my lips, as I turn and tip my hat to the one and only Boozehound. By godtopus' twisty tentacles, I think I've found the answer to a long-ago question posed around these parts: Is it possible to mix gin and maple syrup and get a tasty drink out of it? Well, when a gin-based drink calls for a kiss of simple syrup, is substituting maple syrup really such a stretch? Ladies and gentlemen, meet the French-Canadian .75, inspired by, or more accurately, bastardized from the legendary French .75 . Enjoy.
Wheels are set in motion. Mr. Lahey slowly descends back into rampant alcoholism, and as Randy becomes more and more frustrated with him, he starts to act out in his own strange ways. Ricky decides to take his father's advice, and hooks the proverbial jumper cables up to his own battery for once. Attempts are made to liberate Bubbles' kitties from the shelter. Julian comes up with an ingenious plan, but has he let down his friends one time too many for them to want to help? The anticipation is almost too much to bear--I need a drink!
Pause for refreshment #5: Home Sweet Home, the East Coast. I've lived in three of the four Atlantic provinces, and read enough L.M. Montgomery as a child that I practically grew up in the fourth. I've sampled the best and worst of the local offerings, from New Brunswick's unspeakably bad but incredibly cheap and student budget-friendly fortified wines, to Newfoundland's legendary Screech (refer to Canadian Dictionary) and delicious products of the microbrewery for which my lazy tabby Quidi Vidi was named, to North America's only single malt whisky, Glen Breton, distilled not five minutes from the tiny town where I was raised; it's considered quite delicious to whiskyphiles, but I am not one of those. To choose just one for tonight would be a difficult task at the best of times, but besides that, the combination of champagne and gin has knocked me half out of my senses. Seriously, I'm starting to think that Ricky is just a misunderstood little boy who can turn himself around with a little bit of love, and at this rate am about two shots away from thinking Bubbles is pretty darned cute.
So I turn over the decision to the handsome and not entirely sloshed Mr. meaux, and on his sage advice, tonight's East Coast representative is one of his all-time favourite beers, Halifax's Propeller IPA. It's a distinctive bitter and bitey microbrewed beer, and an enjoyable way to end the tour.
The heist is on, and what a heist it is. There's nudity, extreme drunkenness, gunfire, and a high-speed police chase; hell, even by Nova Scotia standards, it's pretty wild. The movie ends in true Trailer Park Boys style which, as fans of the show will know, means that their latest plan is either a) a massive success, or b) a catastrophic failure. However, I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that it's a hell of a hilarious ride, and that the boys are a fuckin' team right to the end.
Satisfied, I finish the last of my taste of the East Coast while listening to J-Roc's latest hit playing over the closing credits. All in all, Countdown to Liquor Day was an enjoyable film, and I make a mental note to actually sit down and watch the Trailer Park Boys' series in its entirety one day. However, almost more enjoyable was the cross-country booze tour. I made a few new drinky friends tonight that, without the excuse of needing something to write about here, I otherwise might never have met. I would encourage you all to do the same: pick a theme, pick a night, and just take a step outside of your usual brands. Better yet, make it something from a small, lesser-known maker; not only are you supporting the little guy, you can make people think you're a proper connoisseur when you can speak knowledgeably about a couple of obscure brews. There's a world of interesting beverages out there, boys and girls--let's have a little fun getting to know them!
Meaux just drank her way across the country, and boy is her liver tired. However, she never tires of a corny old joke. She is a twenty-first century hippie, biology geek, and reformed seabird voyeur living in Nova Scotia, Canada, and can be contacted at meauxmeaux[at]gmail.com.