Group Shot!

At The Tomahawk


Hey Now, Nardwebheads, my name is Grant Lawrence, singer and main action-man for The Smugglers, and I am here to happily accept the invitation, extended by Nardwuar himself, to recreate a wild morning at the Tomahawk from our not so distant past.


It was on the weekend of Sept 18, 19 and 20, 1998, in Vancouver BC Canada, that is known to a select bunch of cool kids as... The Smugglers 10th anniversary weekend! Thankfully, we've made lots of friends and fans both in Vancouver and abroad, as this weekend saw people fly in from as far away as England, Italy, Japan, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as drive in from Seattle, Portland, Calgary, Edmonton, and all over BC. We threw a BBQ at my house on Friday the 18th, then we performed our tenth anniversary concert on Sat. the 19th at the Starfish Room with our friends' bands the Donnas, the Hi-Fives, and even Nardwuar himself with his Goblins/ Ska-blins/ and Disgoblins. On the morning of Sunday the 20th, it was arranged that Nardwuar would host a "Tomahawk brunch" at the restaurant that epitomizes Canada like no other: The Tomahawk BBQ in North Vancouver.


The only potential problem was that Sunday mornings at the Tomahawk is the restaurant's peak chow zone. And the Tomahawk does not accept reservations (no pun intented). Nardwuar and I once tried to take Girl Trouble there on a Sunday morn years ago and the place was so packed out we couldn't even get in the door! This time we had a potential crew of fifty people showing up to a restaurant that maybe seats sixty!



Nardwuar and I arranged to get there a little earlier than the pack to make sure we could get some tables, and we barely made it, for moments after we got there, the big Smugglers crew started showing up. Nardwuar and I feverishly grabbed the available tables and hung on, seating people as fast as we could. We block-booked the bar, and sat people on each stool as soon as they made past the authentic fiberglass totem poles that guard the Tomahawk's entrance. Luckily the arrival was staggered (in more ways than one! YEEHA!), and the fine staff at the Tomahawk was more than able to accommodate the swelling numbers of rockin'rollers present to dine on the outrageous platters proudly served at the 'Hawk.


Hmmm... What to order... Hmmm...

Once everyone was seated, Nardwuar took over, running around the restaurant like a hyper little monkey, handing out the Tomahawk's colourful trademark paper indian head dresses to all in attendance. Once all the hats were in place it was an amazing site, one that Nardwuar and I have waited to witness for for years. EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE TOMAHAWK DINING ROOM WAS WEARING AN INDIAN HEADDRESS!! It was incredible!!!



Next up on the agenda was the placing of orders. Of course, this is the joint where they serve the legendary Skookumchief burger, as I'm sure you've read all about in other parts of these Nard-pages. Nardwuar declared in his usual ear-piercing tone that the Skookumchief was the mandatory order for everyone. Exceptions would be made only for those willing to UPGRADE to the formidable, practically unedible MIXED GRILLE (see decription elsewhere)! On this incredible Sunday morning, Nardwuar was able to urge the following friends to attempt to eat Skookumchief hamburgers: all four members of the Hi-Fives and their agent Blackchad; Andrea and Sandro from Genova Italy; Frank and Heather from New York City; Nick,Bryce and Dave from The Smugglers (Grant eats the Papoose and Beez maintained his vegetarianism in the most anti-vegetable establishment this side of the Atlantic Ocean); Chris Appelgren and Cathy Bauer from Lookout Records; Graham Watson (friendly fill in-Smuggler drummer), his girlfriend Kathy; Scott and John from the Evaporators; Asa and his friends from Portland OR; Anthony and Sam from San Luis Opisbo CA; plus several more whose names and faces I embarrassingly forget in a blur of meat, cheese, weiner, lettuce, and pickle. That left only Nardwuar and one other challenger willing to rack up a massive Mixed Grille. The daring one was none other than the Hugh Hefner of Hot Rods, Gearhead magazine editor and trash-culture connosieur from Alameda California... Mister Michael LaVella!!!


One may assume that 50 people ordering at once would tend to overwhelm the teenaged cook, but NO! The food starting flowing from the kitchen like a river of meat, and the....(this part has been edited Grant!) teenaged girls that make up Tomahawk wait staff quicky delivered the hefty platters to our tables with ease.


As everyone began to dig in, who would happen to show up to cover a piece of "the secrets of Vancouver" but a BCTV cameraman! He couldn't believe his fortune of walking in on a huge brunch party wearing Indian head gear and chomping Skookum under the command of Nardwuar The Human Serviette! The cameraman "egged" Nardwuar on so he "hammed" it up for the camera, saying "cheesey" things and making a "weiner" of himself. Sorry.


The Mixed Grill (Nine generous slices of Yukon style bacon, two country fresh fried farm eggs, two slices of Klondike toast, hamburger pattie, cheese, weiner, onions and fresh sliced onions, salad, served on a 14" platter. $16.10)


After the initial dust settled it was time for the main event: the arrival of the Mixed Grilles, which are served on a massive 24" plate overflowing with an entire breakfast menu worth of food. At a cost that equals the inches of the plate's diameter, Nardwuar and Mike figured they were getting their money's worth. Nardwuar, a fairly skinny lad, simply sucked back his entire plate, right down to the fruit garnish. Mike, a hefty fellow, and a greasy-spoon king, was amazingly upstaged by the West Vancouver man-child, who of course had the advantage of being weened and conditioned on Tomahawk food since he was a wee lad of Irwin Park Elementary.


Overseeing all the proceeding with a grin wider than the Mixed Grille platter was owner Chuck Chamberlain (he was probably doing the math after selling 46 Skookumchiefs, one Papoose, two Mixed Grilles and one Grilled Cheese). After seeing Mike LaVella choking a bit on his Mixed Grille's last hamburger patty, Chuck made the unprecedently move of presenting Mike LaVella WITH THE FAMOUS MIXED GRILLE PLATE for Mike to take home to California! Mike was overjoyed, and considered his first trip to Canada suddenly very complete.


Nardwuar then handed out another Tomahawk staple to all the bloated diners, the Tomahawk wooden nickel, emblazed with the logo "Keep Smiling", as a 'congrats' for making it through a meal at the 'Hawk... but there was one more historical note to cover as everyone made their way out to the sun-drenched North Vancouver parking lot... a group photo!! Nardwuar hauled Chuck, the cook and the rest of the staff out into the parking lot, leaving the til unguarded, the kitchen unmanned and the other customers on their own, as we posed for a giant group photo to end all group photos. Head dresses! The plate! An international assembly! It was a fantastic morning that I'll never forget as long as I live, and you know what made it even extra special? I didn't puke up my Papoose! Now that's a first!


Thanks for the good times, everybody!

See you in the front row,

Grant Lawrence
Your Smugglers

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