More

Gord Downie is dying. All of Canada came out to say goodbye.

Confronting death with music, determination, and grace, too.

Gord Downie is dying. All of Canada came out to say goodbye.

It’s hard to think of a band that embodies Canada more than The Tragically Hip.

They write about our small towns, about our strange little histories, about love and politics and nature and culture and everything in between. There are even two guys named Gordon — anecdotally agreed to be the most Canadian name — in the band.

They’ve played together for 33 years, released 16 albums, won more than a dozen awards and sold out stadiums in Canada year after year after year.


Outside of their home country, most people don’t know they exist.

The Tragically Hip, or as you might know them "Who?" Image via George Pimentel/Canada for Haiti via Getty Images.

There’s a popular theory that at least part of the reason for this is that whenever The Hip played shows in America, expat Canadians would buy up all the tickets. Maybe that’s true. Canadians share a lot of stuff with our southern neighbors — some of it we’re intermittently sorry about — but The Hip is ours.

So when Gord Downie — The Tragically Hip’s lead singer and Canada’s unofficial poet laureate — was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Canadians were crushed.

But Downie knew exactly what he wanted to do with the time he had left.

For four weeks, he and his band toured across Canada. They played 15 shows, one every two days, traveling across the country from British Columbia to their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. It’s a place where, as Downie joked during the concert, they played their first three shows ever for audiences of 14, 28, and six people, respectively.

On Aug. 20, 2016, The Hip played their final show live for a stadium audience of 6,700 people — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Image via Arthur Mola/Invision/AP.

Thousands filled the Kingston Town Square and other public viewing places across the country. Around laptops and TVs, Canadians gathered together to watch our national band play one last show — decades before we expected they ever would.

To give you a sense of how important this band is to Canada: An estimated 11.7 million people watched the concert on TV or via web live-stream. That's one-third of Canada's population.

So if you only know three people from Canada, one of them was watching The Tragically Hip on Aug. 20 — and the other two probably spent the next few days fielding questions about why they weren't.

Fans in Halifax, Canada, watch The Tragically Hip's final concert in a public square. Image via Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP.

The Tragically Hip's final show was nearly three hours long. They did three encores, something Downie acknowledged as a first for the band. "We’re in uncharted waters," he quipped, taking the stage for the fourth and final time. They played "Ahead by a Century," one of their most famous songs, one last time. Downie thanked Canada, then left the stage. Maybe forever.

As much as this concert was about the music, it was also about saying goodbye and the grief that comes with it.

In a year where music fans have said goodbye to the once-in-a-generation talents of David Bowie and Prince, it's hard to comprehend the loss of yet another important musician.

Like Gord Downie, David Bowie knew his end was coming. Bowie chose to die in private. His final album, "Blackstar," is a thoughtful goodbye albeit one that arrived only days before he passed. By the time fans started to comprehend its meaning, he was already gone.

Downie is doing the opposite, dying in full view of the millions of fans who love him. We are grieving this loss in real time, together, with all the rawness that comes with it.

How you choose to end your life — should you get that chance — is deeply personal.

Canada cannot keep Gord Downie forever. No matter how hard crowds clap for one more encore, the band cannot always play on.

But we can gather and sing and celebrate music that’s become part of our national story, and we can thank the man who made it and honor the contribution he and his music have made to the soundtrack of our lives.

So on that Saturday night, that’s what we did. Thank you, Gord, for everything.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

Keep Reading Show less