Written by Genny Fanthome, a fixture in the Canadian punk scene, Loose Gravel is a fiction book about Spooge, a punk band who get to know each other on their grimy, tour journey, cramped into a tight van and bonding whether they want to or not. Fanthome has lived this life herself, having been a drummer for bands including The Spazmz, The Diabollocks, and The Carbonas, an all-girl Ramones cover band. Now, she is sharing her behind-the-scenes, DIY, punk experience with anyone who is interested in reading the tale.  

As soon as he spotted its stylized, silver sides glinting in the late morning sun, Markus insisted that they stop there for breakfast. Nobody seemed to mind. It was pretty crazy and looked like the kind of place that would provide substantial servings at a reasonable price.  

Ollie’s was a streamlined diner that resembled an old Art Deco tramcar from the outside. On the inside, the tattered decor showed it hadn’t ever seen a renovation. It also looked like the clientele and some of the desserts hadn’t changed since it first opened, either. 

Still, it was a hell of an improvement over a Denny’s. 

A heavy-set waiter shuffled to their table and delivered their beverage orders before scooping up the pile of maroon, leather-bound menus. 

“Y’know, that’s pretty cool,” Markus said. Ripping open four sugar packets simultaneously, he dumped them into his coffee. Wincing at this, Lion picked up his super-sized glass of grapefruit juice and chugged half of it. 

Steve examined his spoon, which seemed to have escaped the dishwasher. “What is?” 

“That they’re open to hiring people with Down Syndrome.” 

“Who’s got Down Syndrome?” Sam asked. She twisted around in her seat to see who he was talking about. 

“Our waiter.” 

“No, he doesn’t!” she exclaimed. “What are you talking about?” 

“Sure he does – lookit the guy!” 

“Dorfmann, if I thought you were joking, I’d laugh,” Lion said, shaking his head. “But you’re dead, fucking serious!” As he stood up to go to the bathroom, he smacked Markus upside the head and muttered, “Shit-for-brains!”  

“Watch it! You’re dealing with an injured man here.” 

Markus did look kind of roughed up. His bottom lip was slashed and puffy, and his left eye, now a pinkish-purple hue, had swollen solidly shut from the fight the previous night.  

Steve took a huge gulp of his black coffee. “Sorry Dorfmann, no one feels sorry for you. And we know you’re just gonna milk this to get pity out of women.” 

“I am highly offended that you think so little of me,” Markus said, and wiped a non-existent tear from his eye. “Mind you, it has proven to be an effective panty-removal method in the past…” 

Sam smiled as she poured a dribble of milk into her tea and gave the steamy liquid a languid stir. “Hey Steve – you know Tessie, right?”  

“Lion’s ex?” 

“Yeah, the pseudo-Goth chick who used to play bass for that weird, New Wave industrial band. What were they called – Babyhead Clingwrap or something?” 

“Yeah, I remember those guys. They were seriously messed. Ever get a chance to see them?” 

Sam shook her head ‘no’ as she took a careful sip of her tea. Her cup smelled faintly of bleach.
Steve continued. “They used to dress up in these crazy, matching black jumpsuits with red belts and stripes, like something outta Gary Numan’s Telekon Tour.” 

“Telethon Tour?” Markus said. “Nah, yer thinking of Jerry’s Kids.” 

“Te-le-KO… never mind, you idiot,” Steve said. “Don’t you listen to anything besides punk and metal?” 

“Sure – you know I’m a closet AC/DC freak,” Markus said proudly. 

“That’s hard rock. Same difference.” 


“Oh, come on,” Steve said in annoyance. “They were one of the bands that started the whole heavy rock/metal thing. I’m talking about listening to something OUTSIDE of the normal realm of your tiny, boxed-in musical experience.” 

The waiter arrived with their orders, setting each plate in front of the wrong person. Markus shot Steve and Sam a look that said, “Aha, see – I told you,” before he slid out of the booth and disappeared. 

Sam glanced at Markus’ order and puffed out her cheeks like she was going to barf. “Omigod, it looks like dog food that the dog already ate. What IS that?” 

“Corned beef hash,” Steve grimaced, shoving the plate a bit further away from him. Suddenly the sounds of “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine began to fill the diner. 

“Aw Christ, who put that shit on?” Lion groused. As he slid back into the booth, he noticed Markus’ food. “Jesus – what the fuck is that?” 

“Don’t ask,” Steve said. Carefully he cut into his western omelette and examined it before putting it into his mouth. 
Markus returned to the table with a big grin on his face, and without a blink of an eye, immediately tucked into his meal. His bandmates glanced at one another in disgust. 

As they were eating, “Conga” ended in one booth and immediately began playing in another. After the song finished there, it started up again from another booth. Without a word, everyone glared at Markus, knowing who the culprit was. 

“Get this guy,” Markus suddenly announced. He gestured to Lion as he pointed his fork at Steve. “He’s been spouting off that punk and metal are the same thing.” 

“That’s not what I said.” 

“Y’know what your problem is, man?” Lion replied. “You’re a fucking music snob.” 

“Bullshit!” Steve yelped. “I listen to WAY more stuff than you two ever will! You start panicking if you accidentally wander out of the Hardcore section at a music store. At least Sam’s a bit more open-minded.” 

Markus snorted. “What – like those amplified farting noises she forced us to listen to when we did that gig up north?” 

“That was the Tibetan Buddhist Monks, you classless moron,” Steve spat.  

Sam just rolled her eyes. “It’s not like I even got a chance to play more than one song, what with all the bitching you guys were doing.” 

“That was simply obscene,” Markus joked, waving his hand in front of his face like a Southern belle. “It offended my delicate constitution.” 

Lion laughed and smacked Markus. “Shaddap, Chuckle-head!” 

For more from Ginny Fanthome, find her on Instagram.

Write A Comment