October 26, 2017 by Justin Drummond (edited by Darren Clarke)
Another hotly anticipated, highly debatable, Top Ten List from our boy Justin Drummond. This time everyone’s favourite Toronto-centric, wrestling and rock’n roll, fanboy, picks his Top Ten People to Go to Lunch With. JD further endeavours to choose a location for each lunch date while waxing philosophical on potential topics for conversation-
10- Peter Billingsley at Cam-Lan Chinese restaurant in Hammond, Indiana: Now you can ask this question to 100 people, I can almost guarantee you that I am the only one who would include this man on my list. Peter Billingsley is an important pick for me though. For those unfamiliar with Peter Billingsley, he played Ralphie in a little movie called “A Christmas Story,” which is my absolute favourite movie of all times. Not, favourite Christmas movie, my favourite movie PERIOD. And this man (child at the time) was the main star. I have quite a few questions I would ask, for example, who currently has ownership of the original leg lamp from the movie? Being that some of the movie was filmed here in St. Catharines, I’d like to know about his time here and what were some of the things were that he enjoyed about filming in our great city. And honestly, I’d love to just have a conversation about my favourite holiday, Christmas, in general.
The restaurant choice is pretty self explanatory if you’ve ever seen the movie. The Cam Lan Chinese Restaurant in Indiana was the inspiration for the Chop Suey Palace seen in Christmas Story when, due to the dogs destroying their Turkey, the family ended up being forced to go out for Christmas dinner.. This was really the only logical choice and I would be excited to discover the wonders of Peking Duck at Cam Lan Chinese Restaurant.
9- Bon Scott at Outback Steakhouse, anywhere: Now, as much as I love Guns ‘n Roses, they are not my favourite band of all times. That honour goes to AC/DC. As someone who grew up in a house that primarily listened to country music, the first time I heard the opening riffs of Hells Bells, the first time I ever pressed play on my Back in Black cassette, my life changed forever. However, after doing some research I learned the original story of AC/DC and how Back in Black was to usher in a new era after the passing of Bon Scott. So Bon Scott is a man I’d love to learn even more about and while there’s Google and a number of books that I could read (which I’ll get to eventually) what better way to get the real deal than to have a conversation with the man himself. Our conversation could go a number of places. The biggest thing I’d be curious about is how he feels about where Brian Johnson took the band after his unfortunate death. What are some of his favourite Brian Johnson era AC/DC songs? Which Brian Johnson renditions of Bon Scott era songs he enjoys and then, finally, how does he feel about Axl Rose replacing Brian Johsnon last year?
Now I’ll be honest, I only chose Outback steak for one reason- Outback is a stereotypical name to do with Australia. Just being honest with you. But the Outback Steakhouse can really kick out the steak. So it works. Lunch would consist of a nice steak and potato dinner and of course, the legendary blooming onions.
8- Rob Ford at the Rogers Center Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario: You probably think this is me making a cruel and unfunny joke. I mean I get it, that’s my reputation (Editor’s Note: unfunny, at times, cruel, never). However in the last 10 years there hasn’t really been anything close to as fascinating as the late crack smoking mayor of Canada’s largest city. I was living in Michigan during the whole Rob Ford scandal but every day I’d be glued to my TV to see what happened next. Now at that point, it was my immaturity that kept me glued to the TV. I thought the entire thing was a big joke. It played like a Saturday Night Live sketch and I treated it like one. But then I read a great book. One of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. “Crazy town: the Rob Ford story,” written by Robyn Doolittle and then it became real to me. Rob Ford was a man who had a lot of personal problems but a man who loved his city. The man had his share of problems with substance abuse and political corruption but in the end he was a man who loved the city of Toronto and I respect that. Now, as far as questions go, I don’t think I’d go with obvious questions about the crack tape, or politics, or anything like that. The man spent his entire adult life answering these questions for reporters. Rob Ford loved sports and I myself am a huge sports fan. So I’d honestly have a conversation with him about his memories of the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays (Editor’s Note: Not sure why JD left out the Toronto Triumph of the Lingerie Football League, a team for which Rob Ford’s niece played for a time, though the next sentence may explain it). Lets humanize this man a bit.
One thing on my bucket list is to spend a night in the hotel overlooking the field at the Rogers Center (Rogers Center Hotel). But that’s because the one thing I always wanted to do previously I never could do. I always wanted to have a meal in the outfield restaurant at the Skydome (now known as the Rogers Center). One of the things I felt made the dome original at its’ inception was those giant plexiglass windows. Now I kind of look at the Dome as more something cheesy and plastic, a stadium more suited to Monster Truck shows and their followers than a place I would want to watch a baseball game. But as a kid, I always thought how cool it would be to sit in the Windows Restaurant and have a nice cold beer, a burger and fries. Like Rob Ford, I don’t gotta be fancy.
7- Mats Sundin at Medieval Times in Toronto, Ontario: I have always said that the Toronto Maple Leafs were my first true love (this year that opinion changed with the birth of my twins). Thing is that there has been many legendary Maple Leaf teams. There’s the teams of the 60’s, including cup winning team in 1967. There was the resurgence of the organization in the 90’s with that great 1993 team (The Year of the Gretzky High Stick) but I didn’t fall in love with any of those teams. I found about them later, I found about them after I fell in love with the 2001-2002 Leafs’ team. The playoff series against the Islanders had me hooked and the first player that captured my imagination was The Captain, number 13, Mats Sundin.
Mats Sundin is my favourite hockey player of all time. He wasn’t the greatest player of all time but he is the man that truly made me fall in love with the sport. So many questions come to mind, starting with experiences playing with the likes of Doug Gilmour, Tie Domi, Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph. I’d want to know what he felt was missing from those early 2000 Leafs teams that prevented them from getting over the hump to win a Stanley cup. I’d also ask about his winning a gold medal with Sweden in 2006 and then his reaction to the backlash to him refusing to waive his no trade clause in his final season in Toronto.
As far as where we would eat this one was one of the hardest to pick because I didn’t want to be obvious or borderline racist (like choosing the IKEA food court). So we are going to unconventional. We are going for a dinner and a show. We are going to Medieval Times for dinner and a well, medieval times. We will eat, drink, we’ll be merry. I’d let Mats pick the knight we cheer for and then we would have a wonderfully epic evening.
6- Munenori Kawasaki, for a liquid lunch in a Bush, anywhere in the Niagara Region, Ontario: BUSH PARTY! Im going to be completely honest with you, part of this choice is half wanting to meet this man and half trolling my boy Bobby Cross, who happens to be the one person in the world who hates Munenori Kawasaki. But at the heart of my pick is the fact that there have been very few Toronto Blue Jays in the past decade who have captivated the Rogers Center crowd as much as Kawasaki. He couldn’t really play baseball that well but his charisma made us all fall in love with him. When he hit his home run, the stadium was probably the loudest I had heard it since the glory years (and until the Jose Bautista’s Bat Flip of course). I mean, I could really ask him anything but too be honest, he wouldn’t really understand what I was saying anyways. I imagine he would simply respond by reminding me that he is indeed, “Japan-eeeeese.”
5- Prince Fielder at the Avondale Dairy Bar, St. Catharines, Ontario: There’s no secret that I love baseball. From the green grass, to the sound the ball makes when it hits the bat. There is nothing like it in the world. Now I’ll admit I am a bit of a new baseball fan (in the last 10 years or so) so I’m sure there are lots of baseball players I could talk to. I could talk to people like Pete Rose, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, etc. but the fact is, it wouldn’t be the same as hanging out with the man who made me fall in love with the game. I became a fan in the era of Jose Bautista, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander’s but the man that truly made me fall in love with the sport of baseball was the Fresh Prince of Wisconsin, Detroit and Texas, Prince Fielder. He just had this presence and swagger about him. The size and power, it was different from any athlete I had ever seen and as a bigger guy myself, it was kind of inspiring. And damn could he hit a long home run. Some of the topics I would discuss with Prince would range from the long feud he had with his father Cecil to the few years he was a vegetarian. I would ask him about the times he visited Toronto as a kid when his dad was playing for the Blue Jays. I’d want to know the difference in his experience playing for the Brewers, Tigers and a Rangers and finally, I would ask about an infamous incident where he destroyed a Gatorade machine with a baseball bat.
For a location for our lunch date, Avondale dairy bar is a sentimental choice. I am a huge fan of ice cream. There Is nothing like a nice ice cream cone or a sundae on a hot summer day. There is so many choices at Avondale on what I’d actually eat but I’d probably go with a classic. A banana split. One of life’s most perfect desserts. (Editor’s Note: Due to a negative customer experience JD advises that he currently is boycotting Avondale. Make your adjustments accordingly)
4- Owen Hart at the Hart family home in Calgary, Alberta: I’ll totally admit that I am going to have very few deceased people on my list because most people I look up to/would like to meet are thankfully still alive. But Owen Hart is one of those exceptions. In my opinion he was always the best wrestler of the Hart family (yes, I’d put him ahead of Bret and without the accident in 1999 I feel he would have went on to become Champion). The man just oozed charisma and skill. And theres so many unanswered questions I would love to ask him, particularly about the unfortunate events surrounding his tragic death. The biggest question for me would be- What was his actual thought process when he was asked to harness down from the rafters at Over The Edge in 1999. Then maybe I’d move on to some more light hearted topics such as his opinion on the current state of the wrestling business, his favourite wrestler, his favourite match of all times, etc. And then the big question, does he believe he will ever make it into the WWE Hall of Fame?
Now for the lunch, the only place I’d ever want to eat lunch with any member of the Hart family is at the Hart house in Calgary. What’s better than a home cooked meal made by Helen? Maybe a nice roasted chicken with potatoes and a salad. Supper would be followed by a tour of Stu Hart’s legendary dungeon before Owen and I sat back down to cake for dessert.
3- Slash at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, California: Its no secret that I love Guns ’n Roses and the main reason for that is Slash. For me nobody plays the guitar like Slash. Slash’s guitar style is smooth, it is fast, it is bluesy, it is pure rock n roll and his solos are epic. I could listen to him solo all night. I have read his book and listened to his music almost religiously but to sit down with Slash and have a meal and a moment, that would be the highlight of my life. I would love to have a conversation with him about the sounds he has created, the songs he has crafted. I’d ask him what it is like having been in bands with two very difficult singers in both Axl Rose and Scott Weiland and then how those experiences differed from working with a guy like Myles Kennedy. I’d ask him questions about channeling his inner Hendrix playing the American National anthem at sporting events (Notably 2005 where he played the Blue Jays home opener wearing a half Blue Jays, half Red Sox jersey) and if he actually keeps the customized jerseys the teams provide him. While I’m not a huge fan of horror movies, I’d have a to ask Slash about the genre as I know he’s a huge horror guy.
We are going to be headed to Rainbow Bar and Grill in Los Angeles for lunch but as far as what I would eat or drink I am not familiar with the Rainbow Bar and Grill’s food menu. So for this one I will provide a drink in tribute to metal legend Lemmy who passed away recently- Both Slash and I will have a Jack and Coke.
2- Vince McMahon at Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania in Minnesota, 1996: I have tried not to overload this list with one type of personality and genre but as you all know, wrestling is probably my biggest passion and if there is one person in the entire history of wrestling anyone would want or need to talk to, that would be Vince McMahon. Vince has run everything in wrestling for a long time. He took a sport/entertainment brand that was regional and turned it into an International powerhouse ever since buying the brand from his father. There are so many topics I’d love to discuss with Mr. McMahon, from the steroids trial in the 90’s, to the evil Vince McMahon role he has played, to his matches and feud with Stone Cold Steve .Austin. There’s just so much ground to cover. I’d love to hear his opinion on stars like The Rock, Hulk Hogan and John Cena, crossing over to mainstream movies and television and what part he feels he played in their success.
I would avoid mention of the Montreal Screwjob (to the uninitiated, it is was a controversial WWE event held in Montreal in 1997 wherein McMahon manipulated the match between the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels, and Canadian Bret Hart so that instead of Hart winning as predetermined, Michaels would instead be the victor), but ask him if theres ever been another situation where he’s come close to doing the same thing to another superstar (Editors Note: I can’t shed any light on how JD would ask about the Montreal Screw Job while not mentioning it, but JD is a talented man). Again, there is an endless amount of possible topics available when I think of talking with the man who is the king of professional wrestling. There is no lunch long enough to go over all those possibilities. Hopefully one day, Vinvr or someone else will write a book about his life.
For our lunch spot I decided to go old school and have fun with the location. I wanted to eat at a theme restaurant. Given I’m dealing with a man who is a billionaire, I could have went with a steakhouse or a fancy restaurant but I wanted to go with fun. One of my options could have been Vince McMahon’s wrestling restaurant of the late 90’s, early 2000’s, WWF New York. But instead I elected to go back in time with Vince to 1996. To the Mall of America in Minnesota. To a restaurant known as Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania. Now, looking at the menu the options are very generic and plain, except one. The “Hulk Hogan Power Pasta”. I mean what other choices do you have, brother?
But now that I think about it, why am I eating here with Vince and not Hogan himself?
1- My grandfather, Robert Daly, at Yankee Stadium, New York, New York: For the most part this has been a fun list. The fact is, I love to have fun. But I felt that at least one entry on this list had to have a serious undertone, one entry had to be something that meant more to me than all the others. And that one choice would be to spend an afternoon with my late grandfather, Robert Daly. I know I throw out the phrase, “that guys my hero” a lot but along with my mother, my grandfather was always my biggest hero. He was in reality the only real male role model I ever truly had. And because he was a great grandfather, I am a great father.
I don’t think I’d even ask him questions. I think I’d just say thank you. Love you Grandpa, miss you everyday.
My grandfather was the biggest New York Yankee fan I have ever known and I honestly don’t believe he ever once saw his team play in person. I remember visiting my grandparents and he’d be listening to the games on the radio (which is what made me hate the Yankees radio broadcast, “YANKEES WIN! YANKEES WIN!! YANKEES WIN!” A phrase that will forever haunt my dreams). But my grandfather loved it. He’d be listening to the radio, he’d have the live scoreboard up on the ESPN website and he’d be sitting at his computer watching the stats update. So yeah, if I had one more game, there’d be no question I would spend it at Yankee Stadium with my grandfather watching his favourite, and my least favourite, team play in person.
Just buy me some peanuts and crackerjack and honestly, I don’t care if I ever come back.