Whiskey Jack Presents Stories & Songs of Stompin' Tom This show is officially a hot item and is now for sale. To view some scenes, go to their most recent TV appearance at www.orchardtv.com/whiskeyjack
For bookings contact Marilyn Gilbert Artists Management at 416-534-4993 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jesse Brown This is officially the most important podcast in Canada. Jesse Brown is a broadcaster, journalist, reporter...etc. with NO official ties to anyone. That makes him unique in Canadian news reporting...he is beholdin' to nobody. He's fun, enlightening and his guest tell the truth, or at least describe the truth as best they can. Check out his first podcast with CBC's Michael Enright... very good!
Ellen Roseman Blog According to her blog, "Ellen is a personal finance and consumer affairs columnist with the Toronto Star’s business section. Her columns appear Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday."
She is to the local newspaper scene, what Erin Davis it to the media scene... that is, a "must read".
Erin Davis's Official Homepage Erin always has a finger on the pulse of this vibrant city. Her blog is informative and fun. If you want to know what's happening or what's happened, don't bother listening to the news reports, go to this blog. My guess is this is one of the most popular sites in Toronto.
Dec. 21, 2016
As someone who lived in the same era as me, I ask you, can you think of a year that has unsettled our lives more than 2016? In fact, can you think of a more threatening event than Trump's election?
Our generation has never experienced an event that disturbed the world order before, at least Canada's world order. 9/11 was not our attack. Chernobyl was not our disaster. Even the Cuban crisis (in hind sight) wasn't earth shattering. No, none of these events would upset our well being. This election however has great potential.
I think of it as a bloodless coup The Americans finally rid themselves of the Bushes, the Clinton's and perhaps the military establishment that Roosevelt warned everyone of all those years ago. That remains to be seen of course but the sociopath who will occupy the Whitehouse in January doesn't seem to hold any allegiance to any person or principal that the rest of us can relate to. He's even dissing his own security people at the CIA and FBI. Who knows if he'll bow to the military establishment and keep funding the security forces.
Mexico might be first on his list of who am I going to screw with today? But then, maybe he'll wake up and pick a fight with some other unsuspecting nation, like Canada. He's already pissed off the Chinese and he's not even President yet. The border between our two countries has never been more threatened, at least in my memory. Imagine if he decides to allow Great Lakes water to be diverted to Las Vegas, consequences be damned. We already knows how he feels about pipelines and global warming. I don't know enough about the Auto pact or NAFTA to comment but that too must be on his radar.
I haven't spent much time trying to understand the electorate and what they were thinking when they voted for this guy. They were obviously pissed and perhaps a bit desperate. Life isn't too good for perhaps the majority of the American population. Who really knows what life is like in the hinterland of the U.S.
This is hard for our generation to imagine. We've had it so good, particularly here in Canada, that we can't fathom that we could become so angry we'd vote a Trump into office. But then, as someone who's travelled a lot in the US, they've become a foreign country these past 15 years or so. I don't know them anymore. We have less in common than ever before. I think the Brexit vote was more understandable but then, they didn't have as much to lose as the American voters.
There's a political commentator named Chris Hedges and he's been predicting this kind of revolution for a long time. As he so astutely points out in his essays, we can't expect the herd to sit still while the elite accumulates all of the wealth, refuses to share it and then changes the rules to collect even more of the wealth. The masses bought into this initially. However, a lot of shit has happened these past few years and that has fuelled the Trump flame....2008 banking disaster, Panama papers describing mass tax evasion by the rich, self serving and unjustified war in Iraq, Bush/Clinton families responsible for all of this and so on.
History is simply repeating itself in one respect. The founding fathers in the years leading up to 1776 were alienated from their government in England and over time, found good reason to resent their elitist approach to governing. Imagine taxing the colonies to finance the good life in London. The big difference then was that the revolutionaries (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin etc.) who led the masses were the intellectual elite of the day, unlike now. Nothing intellectual about this group.
Enough venting for one day.
Stay well and perhaps I'll see you in the spring. I'm thinking of a road trip before my busy summer starts (lots of gigs in 2017, our Sesquicentennial).
In 1962, me being the dumb 12 year old that I was, I playfully asked my father how he voted when he left the community hall voting booth at the foot of our road in a rural community in Northern Ontario. It's one of the rare moments when he really looked me in the eye and sternly told me "don't ever ask anyone how they voted". I retreated feeling surprised that anything like that could be so important.
I later discovered that he voted CCF (today's NDP), for the founder of our health care system, Tommy Douglas. That might not seem like a big to-do but in those days, the large Fremlin clan was firmly committed to the old British conservatism and within the family, in 1962, this would have been an unforgivable sin.
There are still divisions within our family (I suspect) but those of us who vote left are no longer intimidated by the traditionalists in the family. Their preferred form of government, Harper and his soldiers, has rarely been in power these past 60 years so we don't get all worked up like we once did. Thankfully, Canada is still predominantly a liberal society, one that occasionally expresses empathy towards their fellow man.
Politics today is divisive and personal. Honest debate is rare. In Parliament, I can't recall the last adult and thoughtful discussion between all of the parties about an important issue. The electorate, mostly, read newspapers or online news that reflect their own views, reinforcing their already intransigent beliefs. No room for another view point. All are guilty of this, left and right.
This wasn't always the case. When I think back to my younger days in 1983 when the news was all about our premiers and the prime minister meeting to repatriate the constitution and pass the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I'm reminded that compromise was a real force in Canadian politics.
It was short lived. That was a rarity in this country.
As the news about the Pluto planet photos is spread, I sit here wondering what it all means? What am I supposed to think? to feel? How should I react?
When I get this confused about something, I reach for my blog.
My first thought is that the probe, snapping photos like a tourist at Niagara Falls, is the closest mankind has ever been to God. That's silly of course. Everyone knows God isn't in space... or is he?
My second thought is, why didn't this probe blow up or malfunction like so many others? After 9 years, a lot could have gone wrong.
My third thought is, why did they bother? Then, it occurred to me that my first thought might be the one that exposes the truth about these missions. Maybe the God analogy is appropriate. Consider.
If mankind continues to explore deep into space indefinitely (or until the species expires at least), what might we learn? Or more to the point, what are we looking for? What is there to learn that's going to change anything? Do they (scientists? governments?) really think they're going to discover some fact or some life form that will answer the unanswerable question, "where do we come from"? Surely they're not dumb enough to think they're going to learn "why" we're here.
Ok, we have a closeup view of the planet Pluto... so what? There is an infinite (now there's a large word) space staring back at us...enveloping us...consuming us. This lofty thought lulls me into thinking that maybe the fundamentalists, those who have removed confusion and doubt from their world, have it right. They begin each day with a simple truth. "I am right. My way is the only way." Bedamned those who think otherwise.
Sounds a bit like the Reform Party governing in Ottawa these days.
Today is my 65th birthday. Thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes. Once I complete the paper-work, I'll begin collecting my $80 per month from the Musician's Pension Fund. Thank you CBC for the gift that keeps on giving.
I'm not exactly an old codger. I'm often surprised at the condition of the face I see when I look in the mirror, jowls notwithstanding. I also figured that once the pension started arriving, I wouldn't feel so inclined to “make nice” as much, but I'm a bit ambivalent about that. Good things happen to nice people so that's on hold for awhile. I am however, as my pal Bob McNiven sings in The Farm Song, very close to becoming a “wizened old bugger” and I welcome that side of me to finally come out. In a few years, if I'm lucky, I'll be old enough to achieve fame just by being an old man arrested at a protest on a remote logging road in British Columbia. It'll be great fun being old and ornery.
So, to honour this auspicious birthday, I thought it was a good time to publish my Senior Citizen Facebook Manifesto.
So, here goes: If you think Muslims, or people who happen to resemble Muslims, and people of Middle East descent are not to be trusted and are not worthy citizens of this country, un-friend me right now. We have nothing to say to each other. If you are not pro choice and if you think Stephen Harper's propensity to prorogue Parliament is acceptable, un-friend me. No, better still, go to the Scarborough Bluffs and step off, please. If you oppose gay marriage, un-friend me now. If you think the police were justified in jailing hundreds of innocent Canadians during the G20 Conference 4 years ago, get out of my life! If you think we can have a better health care system and better roads with less taxes, un-friend me. If you think the First Nations in this country have been historically well treated by the Government of Canada, kindly leave town! If you think that everyone, just by being born here, race and colour notwithstanding, has an equal opportunity to make a good life for themselves, un-friend me. If you can hold a grudge for more than 30 seconds, I'm sorry for you. If you think I shouldn't be ranting on like this on my Facebook page, on my birthday no less, you too can go away someplace but don't tell me where! If you think we should reduce immigration and if you think the refugees who made it to Canada illegally should be denied health care, un-friend me. If you use major 7th chords in most of your songs, please un-friend me (Ok, I'll be a bit lenient on this one). If you think all welfare recipients are lazy bums, get out of my life. If you believe the content in most of today's newspapers is credible, there's no help for you. It's too late!
I could go on and on but you get the idea. I want to spend what time I have left with loving, tolerant and forgiving people. From my vantage point, there aren't enough of us.
To those remaining on my friend list, thanks for being there and let's have a big party sometime soon! I'm thinking next year, on this date... a musical event starring the other local musicians born on this day... Shelley Coopersmith on fiddle, Burke Carroll on dobro and Danny Marks on guitar. Details to follow!
Eight years ago when I started blogging, I thought it would lead, quite naturally, with little effort, to an on-line conversation of sorts. In my mind, I thought I'd write something, perhaps someone would read it, and who knows, they might be inspired to respond. It never really turned out that way.
When I look back over the comments posted here, they are few in number and shy of controversy. I did get feedback but most came from emails, Facebook comments/likes or more likely, in person.
My readership has fluctuated over the years. Occasionally, particularly early on, I would check the stats to learn that on average, 20 people visited my blog each day. My posts were more frequent then, not every day but most days. I'd promote the site by encouraging my friends, clients and anyone who'd listen to check out one of my entries, one that related to something they're interested in.
There was never a shortage of issues that compelled me to write. Now, eight years later, these issues have declined somewhat. I'm happier working through these topics in my thoughts rather than through the written word. Not sure why. Perhaps my age?
But here's the thing. There were a lot of subjects that I wanted to write about but didn't for fear of alienating a reader who might want to use my services as a Realtor. In hindsight, I'm really disappointed in myself (and somewhat ashamed) for letting this fear control my typing fingers. I'm hoping to lose this fear entirely soon!
In two weeks, I'll turn 65. I'm in the process of writing a Manifesto that I'll publish here and on Facebook/Twitter on the day of my birth. I read somewhere (apologies to the author who's name I can't remember) that aging is "enlightenment in slow motion". In this Manifesto, I will list many of the topics and opinions that I avoided in the past... consequences be damned. The idea behind all of this is to escalate my enlightenment period in the hopes that I'll reach that worthy pinnacle sooner rather than later.
Two months ago, I celebrated my 8th blogging anniversary to subdued acclaim. No press release was drafted and I didn't go out to dinner with myself to celebrate.
Lately, my offerings here have been spaced well apart, not for lack of desire. I love to write and am always on the hunt for something to write about. I don't really have a satisfactory answer to why I don't publish here more often.
Then moments later, I had a eureka moment. I concluded that writing a blog piece about it might help me rediscover my passion.
One of the reasons I blog is to help eliminate some of the mental rubble that interferes with my life. In all things that require planning, effort and fortitude, it's always easier not to do it than it is to actually do it. It's the damn rubble that keeps me from my keyboard. It also keeps me from my real estate prospecting, telling my wonderful wife how much I love her, practising my banjo, memorizing new lyrics, learning how to shoot the damn puck and so on. Writing in this blog these past 8 years has unbeknownst to me, clarified my thoughts, my ambitions, my aspirations and expectations and so it goes. In other words, it's been good therapy.
As I write this, I'm already inspired to write more posts. Specifically, as an example, I ask myself why I don't write about real estate as much as I used to. My answer is simple. I've addressed most of the issues that needed my attention, that got my gander up. Incompetent Realtors who let their own complexes interfere with the success of a transaction used to piss me off. Not any more. I've worked through my frustrations and am now okay with this. It's just the way it is.
This way of thinking can be applied to many of the other topics I've grappled with here, some real estate related, some not. I think this would be good for me if I wrote about these subjects.
I'm a keener generally, eager to try most anything. But when I read this article, I realized I'm just as keen to say no some adventures. Happily, I'm not alone is identifying some things in life left to others to endure.
As a follow up to my last post, my pal Bob Harris sent me this and with his permission, here it is to read and enjoy. What a great story!
Monday, August 11, 2014 - 1:30 PM Vancouver
I was surprised this morning when I fired up my PC at work and saw your August 8th blog post “A Walk Around English Bay and Defunct Presidents”. That's an interesting piece of writing. And thanks very much for your acknowledgement. Glad you enjoyed Bob Woodward's The Secret Man.
Like you, I’ve been fascinated with All the President's Men and the Nixon era of Vietnam and Watergate. I’ll never forget the summer of 1974 and the second weekend of August.
At the time, Watergate's heat was intense on Nixon and his cronies. I was outraged by the abuse of power and remained glued to the daily White House developments via newspaper and car radio right up to the morning we launched into the wilderness. My thoughts of Nixon evaporated as we rode the lakes and rivers for 8 hours a day in our canoes; hiked along narrow trails of several portages; and set up a new camp every evening. The scenery was astounding and the weather was perfect. No newspapers. No radio. No current event updates.
The final day was 10 kilometers of paddling in choppy water against a headwind on the last large lake of the circuit. By late afternoon we had reached our destination, loaded camping gear into our cars, strapped canoes to roof-racks, and made haste down a dusty mountain road toward the historic gold mining town of Wells for a Saturday night dinner. That’s when thoughts of Nixon’s White House crept back.
Thirty minutes into the drive, at a spot where I knew I could pick up a hint of radio reception, I flipped the On button only to hear static and then "President Ford will be” and then nothing but more static. WTF! What the hell had happened? Had Nixon been shot? Bewildered by the fragment of radio broadcast and fuelled with a heavy dose of information addiction, I barreled down the bumpy road like a time-warped madman, zapped into a new reality, looking for answers.
To fully grasp the extent of my isolation from news events of the world, you have to appreciate that Wells, B.C., was pretty damned deserted that Saturday night. Local population would be around 40 at best. Add a dozen tourists and that was about it. So imagine this scene: a sunburned canoeist scrambling around the single-street town frantically sifting through an old beer parlor, a deserted restaurant and a vintage gas station looking for a newspaper. Moi! It was at Pooley Mike’s antiquated pool hall where I found a scrunched up copy of the Friday, August 9th edition of the 20-cent Vancouver Sun. I paid the guy behind the counter two bucks for it.
And there it was...front page, bold typeface: “Richard Nixon’s Awesome Drama Ends—Ghosts of secret self undid him.”
Reading that newspaper story and 12 more pages of articles brought relief. Sobering moments of peace of mind. The new guy, Ford, said the “long national nightmare” was over. My outrage diminished. The summer was going to end just fine.
Your letter to me in last week’s blog had me thinking about August of ‘74. Where I was and what I was doing 40 years ago when Nixon resigned the Presidency. Thanks for the nudge. I wonder how many Fremlin blog followers were also drawn back to memories of that Friday morning.
A few copies of The Secret Man—The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat are always on my bookshelf. They’re for special occasions when I can pass one to folks like you who share an appreciation of 1970s political intrigue; Woodward’s (and Carl Bernstein’s) stand on protection of sources; and the state of ethics in today’s journalism.
A couple of lines written by Mark Harris (no relation) of Entertainment Weekly caught my eye when he reviewed The Secret Man. He wrote, “A stirring, sometimes even moving book…A ringing defense of the importance of confidential sources.” The last line nails it for me. I’m sure you’ll agree.
I returned recently from a short trip to Vancouver. While there, I enjoyed a couple of long discussions with my thoughtful friend, Bob Harris. Bob is an old music associate (from the management side) from over 30 years ago and our long walks usually cover many important topics of the day.
He gave me a book while I was there and this is my letter to Bob as a thank you.
Thanks very much for the copy of "The Secret Man - The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat" by Bob Woodward. Until you gave me this book, I didn't know you had an interest in the years leading up to the resignation of President Nixon. I'm always happy to learn that I'm not alone in my infatuation with that era of political intrigue.
We're the same age so we probably listened to the same news stories and the same interviews as this story was unfolding in 1972 and beyond. I can't recall exactly what I thought at the time but I do remember being enraged that the White House gang could not only continue to get away with slaughtering innocent people in Vietnam but also avoid being held accountable for their covert operations against innocent civilians at home. I remember where I was when Barbara Frum told me about the erased 18 1/2 minutes of tape.. that really got me riled up!
It's the same kind of rage that I would expect 20 year olds might feel today when they read about Harper's dictatorial approach to governing. Sadly, except for the Shit Harper Did crowd (they're my heros), that generation remains mostly silent.
In my teens, I was always pissed at some government or other (beginning with Diefenbaker) but I'm pretty sure it was the Nixon White House where the ember of my anger really began to take off. It continued to burn for a year or two more and then Nixon resigned. That cooled my heals a bit. It was nice to see someone in power (or the Establishment as we called them in those days) answer for their evil ways.
Then, in 1976, a friend took me to see the movie, All The President's Men and my conspiracy complex took flight once again. Since then, I've seen the movie over 20 times. Our discussions last week inspired me to reflect about the strong feelings I've had about this story over the years. This all feels particularly relevant today given the sorry state of civil rights in Canada and around the world in 2014. It's disturbing on many levels.
I've learned over the years that authority of any kind runs counter to the interests of the individual. While in Vancouver, I recall thinking that while I wouldn't necessarily want to live there, I value the notion that I can if I want to. A simple thought but one that festers in me every day of my life. It's what I value most in life. I would sacrifice and compromise pretty much everything to keep our basic freedoms.
As you know, these freedoms are eroding rapidly. Few on the planet enjoy these freedoms. At one time, I even had this silly idea that if I wanted to openly and publicly criticise anyone in authority, from border officials to the Prime Minister, I could do that with impunity. I now know that this is not the case. I am no longer the free and private person I thought I was.
So, when I watch All The President's Men and even as I read "The Secret Man -The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat", I savor the notion that there are reporters out there working to expose the rats who are running the ship. I also relish the notion that there are Deep Throats in the inner circles of the government who will do what is best for all of us... and speak out. That's terribly naive I know but it soothes my soul, if only for a moment.
Thanks again for a great book to enjoy on the dock in the heat of the summer. Too bad the book is so short (not to mention the summer)!
When we were in India a few years ago, we were working side by side with an Indian fellow, Ravi Kumar Tantepudi. During our time there, we witnessed Ravi in his role as the leader of his local Christian charity, as a father/husband during our visit to his home and in his dealings with the group of North Americans who were there to offer our time and money. He was a most impressive man.
He was respected by his workers and his peers. He treated us and others around him in a most honourable way and he without a doubt, was devoted to the needy in his neighbourhood and his country and worked tirelessly to help them in a very unselfish way.
So, when I receive a notice from Ravi (which I rarely do), asking for my help, I read every word. I trust this man and will always respond to his request for help.
This morning, he told me about his new initiative helping the young kids in his community get an education. Writes Ravi,
Most Loving Greetings from ARV – India
Hope this letter finds you in the best of health and cheer. We never forget your support in the past to help Dalit communities in Andhra Pradesh. Now, we are very much focusing on children education for their better future. The children are badly in need of our services to change their lives. In this situation I would like to request you kindly donate for our children education project through GlobalGiving (www.globalgiving.org) within the 31st March 2014 as this will also help us to give space in the website of Global giving in future to raise funds with worldwide donors for ARV. For more details please visit the project link.
Project Name: Education for 740 Dalit,Tribal children in India
I shall indeed be thankful if you could help us particularly this time and your contribution will enable us to serve the children for their better future.
With kind regards,
I took this photo of a makeshift school on a high rise walk way. The other schools we visited were simply covered shacks with dirt floors. The students we met (all ages) were dedicated and focused on their studies.