I’m extremely sorry to have to report that Gus, mascot and brand identity of this little sideshow passed away yesterday. I’m not 100% sure but I think he was 16ish…
You well know, as much as I blather on about everything from highbrow aesthetics to low cost anaesthetics, I’m not much taken with sharing personal details. But Gus basically was the ‘the brand identity’ so it seems worth a mention.
Gus became that marketing identity in 2003 when I brought him to one of my first house concerts in Vancouver. Most of my nutty ideas are just that. But everyone thought it was cute as hell. And it didn’t hurt that Gus was more charming and better behaved than most people I know. All the little jokes about ‘is he your sidekick?’ seemed to beg the answer, ‘Why yes. Yes he is.’
Now everyone in the ‘prog’ world can get so stuck on the idea of sparkly capes and all that astral horseshit. Something about showing up with a guitar and a little dog just seemed like such a ‘fuck you’ to all that pretentiousness.
It also really lowers expectations. Gus made my performances a bit like Susan Boyle. In a blind test, she really doesn’t sing that great, but admit it, her looks make her sound twice as cool. Gus gave me that same edge with Prog Snobs. The point is that Gus was invaluable.
So now what? Gus was to JCHMusic what the duck was to AFLAC; what The Colonel was to KFC… er… minus 20 billion dollars and a dozen herbs and spices. He made a great t-shirt and a snappy slogan and he helped me sell way more records than I ever had any right to expect.
Gus was also the longest continuous live-in relationship of my life (wow, I dunno how I feel about that.) If you live with a musician, especially someone trying to write ‘serious’ music, you know it’s murder. I throw score paper at the ceiling, play a full Marshall stack at ‘eleven’ and channel Hitler at Nuremburg. And that’s on a good day. In short: I am no day at the beach.
But Gus always remained affable and amused by everyone and everything. He was never freaked out or appeared to be anything less than happy to be alive. In short: he was so not me. So long as there was proper exercise (and the occasional biscuit) involved, there was literally no sound too loud, no emotional depths too vast and no behaviour too outrageous. He was the Colonel Pickering to my ridiculous Henry Higgins.
Public Service Announcement
This may be ‘too much information’ depending on one’s point of view but if you’ve got a pet… Gus had a heart problem and this made the circumstances of his death not pleasant. As some of you may know, I’ve spent a great deal of time rescuing dogs (Gus was a cast-off; I never really knew how old he was.) After about 20 dogs, I thought I’d see the end coming and handle it properly. Well, both the vet and I blew it completely. Ironically, because Gus was such a happy chap, it was easy to miss the signs and he suffered needlessly and I’m pretty ashamed about that. So, in the next few days I’m going to post some links here on some symptoms which are easy to miss in older pets. If you’re following this feed, you’ll get an update.