As a kid, I was always scared of carnivals. I remember my dad telling me that the rides are taken apart and reassembled each year, and that freaked me out. My fear was only exaggerated by 1998’s Madeline, a movie in which the little orphan gets kidnapped by some crazy carnies. To this day, trips to the CNE still bring out that eerie, uncomfortable feeling I used to get as a kid.
Wes Marskell: When I was growing up, my dad was the GM of the CNE. I remember when I was young it was a lot scarier than it is now. My dad had an apartment here that he would stay in for the 18 days of the ex. One night, on the 2nd last night, all these gang guys came down (gang guys… is that what they’re called?) and tried to steal a bunch of stuff, like the plush. People were getting knived, and shot.
WM: Oh ya ya, it was a big deal. I guess this stuff is worth money right? *eats some chips. But it was cool because I knew every guy that worked every ride and every game cause they’re back every year, and I could go anywhere. You wouldn’t normally let your 10 year old kid roam around the ex alone, but there were just so many people I knew that I was allowed to just go wherever I wanted. My dad told me later that he knew where I was (almost) at all times. And I could go with a friend, and just go to the front of lines.
TEM: Woooooooow. That must’ve been the best thing ever for you at 10.
WM: Ya, ya. It was fun. Except my dad was like, “don’t go on the rides.”
TEM: Hahahaha. This interview will be great publicity for the ex.
WM: Ya, they’re not the safest things. But listen to this. I remember one time in the middle of the night, this transport truck pulled up to our house in Toronto, and dropped of this shipping container, like something that would be on a freight train or whatever. And my dad was like, “don’t fuck with this container.” Well… I was like 12 so he probably didn’t word it like that. Anyways, you know, he told me not to look inside, not to go in, cause I was 12 and why wouldn’t I want to look in this big mysterious box parked in our driveway?
TEM: I’m just picturing a massive angry lion locked inside there. Or a tiger. Mike Tyson’s tiger.
WM: Right? What could it be? So it was there for a couple months, and it was coming to the ex obviously. But I didn’t realize that at the time cause I was 12. Finally, my dad took me and opened it. There was this big, dark thing inside. Probably like 18, 20 feet. It looked all tied down securely. My dad finally pulled down the tarp and…
WM: IT WAS THE BAT MOBILE.
TEM: No. Way.
WM: Yes. The bat mobile. In my fucking driveway. For like 2 months, and I had no idea.
TEM: Were you mad at him for not showing it to you earlier?
WM: Well he was smart; he knew that every fucking kid in the city would be lined up at our house if they found out.
TEM: Wow. That’s probably the coolest thing I can imagine for a 12 year old boy to see.
WM: Ya, and I could actually go in it. Everyone else was just allowed to sort of pose beside it and take pictures. But I went in it!
TEM: So you were the coolest 12 year old of your time pretty much. Doesn’t get much cooler than that.
WM: Ya. And I remember it was my brother’s birthday too, so we all got our faces painted like batman. Pretty exciting.
TEM: Weren’t you ever scared, as a kid, being around the ex? I dunno, the whole carnival atmosphere has always freaked me out.
WM: Well ya, it is pretty scary. These people live in trailers all year, go to school, you know. It’s just like a very weird community. But I mean, they’re perfectly nice people, it’s just so sort of obtuse from the culture that I know. But, having grown up here, it’s not scary to me now. And I remember loving the lights at night and stuff like that. I know this place to a tee. I’ve been to every fucking corner of this it.
TEM: So what does it feel like to be back here, and under these circumstances! (Cause you’re like a rock star and stuff)
WM: Well ya, it’s crazy. I remember coming as a kid to see Green Day when they played here, and I got backstage passes… I got to meet them. And it was amazing. So to play a show like this to a decent crowd is pretty cool. Makes me feel like our band doesn’t totally suck. Just kinda sucks.
TEM: Yaaaaaaaa. Well I think you guys are okay. But that’s just me.
WM: Oh, one more thing. I remember being somewhere with my dad, and there was this old ride that was just this loop of a roller coaster. I remember asking my dad, “What happens if people are at the top of the ride, and the power goes out?”
TEM: Quite the imagination you had there as a 12 year old.
WM: Haha ya, it scared me. Especially after my dad was like, “I dunno, ask him (referring to a technician standing with us).” And he goes, “Son, there are some questions you just don’t ask in the fair business.”
TEM: Yikes. At least he was honest. Ok, I gotta end with this… what is the truth about Wes?
WM: There is no truth about Wes. Yikes, I have no clue. That’s a tough question. I seriously have no idea. Guess I’m gonna stick with my answer then – there is no truth about Wes.
(Walks off into the sunset… “Mwahahahaha”)
Interview and Intro by: Alex Knoll