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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guantanamo Bay prison - it's time to close it...

I detest democratic governments suspending human rights in the name of human rights - and they all bear watching.

On January 11, 2002, the US transferred the first detainees to the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Five years later, despite widespread international condemnation, hundreds of people of more than 30 nationalities remain there.

Why care?
All three Presidential candidates have said they would close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. It doesn't hurt to keep reminding them to do so. Canada is the only Western country to not condemn this illegal centre... and is the only Western country with a citizen still locked up there, without a protest from its government. Send a message to Prime Minster Harper about Omar Khadr here if you want to.

Here is Amnesty USA's site for doing something about Guantanamo.

And the really big news! Write a haiku related to human rights - direct, indirect or abstract. Use three lines: 5, 7, and 5 syllables (rules...rules... I know). I will randomly pick a winner in a week or so and you will win the lovely orange t-shirt in the photo above (well, not that exact shirt, but one just like it). Take your human rights to the street in fashion!

I'll begin (but I can't win):

darkness like black ink
silence and the empty air
door cracks hope awakes

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sam Nutt - strong name for a strong woman!

Click to see the details on the poster more clearly

My daughter and a group of local young activists put on a 10 hour music event in the park here each summer (the 3rd annual is July 30 this year). They raise money for War Child, which is a terrific organization. Dr. Samantha Nutt (Sam) is the founder and Exec. Director in Canada. She's was chosen by Maclean's Magazine (the Canadian national weekly for you foreign visitors) for their annual Honour Roll as one of "12 Canadians making a difference."

We're bringing her to Nelson on May 7th to do a public presentation at Selkirk College (and to hang out with the young people a bit).
If you're around, I'll provide the ticket!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I"ve been tagged by a Utah Savage!

The photo will eventually make sense... I think

Utah Savage included me in her tag. I have to write six random things about myself. Since this blog has been up for a while (far too long, some would argue), I've decided it must be six things that none of you know about me. And that they must not be too long (must earn living...must earn living) and that Utah will stop harassing me once this is posted. She is so bitter at times.

1. I once lived in an Israeli kibbutz. I was assigned to the chicken house, but protested. As a vegetarian then, I could not in good conscience, run around in the middle of the night stuffing screaming, feather-losing hens into little boxes for the butchers of Tel Aviv. Okay, it stunk too - think ammonia, fear and shit. I was re-assigned to the greenhouse, where commercial roses were grown. I was the only man there, and other than multiple thorn wounds daily, I loved it. The women had a record player on a little table. A rose house ritual: put on Frank Sinatra as loud as he will play and take turns waltzing with Gary between the rows of roses. Pinch his ass. Make fun of him in Hebrew. Make him blush. Laugh until lunch.

2. When I was about 8 I had a wart on my hand. My mother's weird friend Janet looked me in the eye, bought my wart for 25 cents (2 movies and a coke then). A couple of weeks later it disappeared and Janet showed me one of hers that she claimed was her purchase.

3. I can pick up a quarter (25 cents again!) on the tines of a forklift - no gimmicks. Put the quarter on the floor, put your bet on the tines ($5 minimum) and give me two minutes. I made 50 bucks one night in a huge Red Cross warehouse in Florida, just after Hurricane Andrew.

4. I saw a murder in New York. A gang fight swarmed out of a park into the parking lot I was just driving out of with my friend Steve. Bottles, chains, bats, knives and lots of action. Steve: "DRIVE THE FUCKING CAR! GARY! GARY! DRIVE THE FUCKING CAR!" I was in some sort of 'is this real?' shock. The death was a man hit against a wall by a car one gang member was in, just beside us. If anyone cares to offer therapy for that memory, I'm open. Apologies if I triggered yours.

5. My middle name is Frederick.

6. A very elderly woman, sitting next to me on a flight from Denver to LA, told me I reminded her of Joel Grey (remember Cabaret) and tried to seduce me. She eventually invited me to spend the night with her at her Hollywood home. I'm not telling... (okay, I passed on it - don't want nasty rumours spreading).

How's that Utah? Don't get on my case, as I'm not going to tag others. I am going to simply say that if any of you would like to list six random things about you, please tell us here and we'll come visit to enjoy your writing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

There are so many reasons to post this song...

1. It makes me cry (that's good for me).

2. I love Leonard Cohen (that old poet, singer, Buddhist, hep-cat, seducer of a guy...)

3. I love k.d. lang (is there a more interesting girl from small-town Alberta on the planet?)

4. This song was voted the number one Canadian song of all time on a national CBC Radio gig a few years back. That makes Canada cool - hell, it could have been Celine who won!

5. Zee and Cheri both commented on liking this song.

Auspicious paddle...

My friend Cam and I launched my new canoe into Kootenay Lake a few days ago. It was a sunny, calm day and there wasn't another human on the lake (here at least). At one point two bald eagles swooped and screamed above us - nice...

After a good paddle (and some hot coffee), we beached it and looked for arrowheads and other artifacts. Cam, his daugther Chelsea and I are fanatics for this stuff. We found a few chippings on a beach nearby. I'll show you my collection sometime.

Here's the cool bit. Upon landing back on my beach, we found this great spear point (click on it to see the detail). Nice start for the new canoe. It needs a name still by the way - the canoe, not the tip. Suggestions?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Banksy strikes again!

You may know how much I love interesting graffiti... and that I often post the work of Banksy, a UK graffiti artist. Well, he's pulled off one of his most audacious stunts - an enormous protest against Britain's surveillance society painted just feet from a CCTV camera. Britain has the most citizen camera surveillance of any nation in the world. It's estimated that there are more than 4,000,000 video cameras watching on any given day. George Orwell - you are the prophet!

Banksy artwork

The guerrilla artwork appeared on a wall above a Post Office yard off Oxford Street in central London last week.It features a boy in a red jacket painting the slogan "One Nation Under CCTV" in stark white capitals. His actions are filmed by a policeman next to a barking dog.

The secretive artist's achievement is made more impressive by the fact that the piece is several stories high - meaning he had to erect temporary scaffolding before slipping away unnoticed.

Banksy artwork

Banksy frequently touches on political issues in his work. Last month a Banksy-style painting depicting two children pledging allegiance to supermarket giant Tesco appeared on the wall of a north London pharmacy. It was interpreted as support for the growing campaign to ban free plastic bags.

Banksy artwork

Famously secretive, Banksy is believed to have only given one newspaper interview, although he has left various clues indicating he is a secondary school drop-out who was born in or around Bristol in 1974.

He's not me, but I bet Susan and Seraphine could collaborate nicely with him.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aspen Switzer and Thistledowne...

Aspen Switzer is a young friend who I admire so much - as a fine human being and as a terrific songwriter and musician. She's touring Western Canada now and I took in her show last night at the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar, BC. In addition to many tunes from her first CD, she and the band (Jesse and Jessa) played some new songs and a few covers. Two favs for me: her new song Twenty-five and the cover of Leonard Cohen's Halleluah.

If you're able to see her, do. If you want to check out her music and other stuff, go here.

Here's a video I posted some time ago - bit wintery! It's filmed where I live...

And here's an atypical song, but a bit more of Aspen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shining a light by chasing the flame...

The Dalai Lama as a child

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”

The Dalai Lama is someone worth listening too, whether you believe in Tibetan Buddhism and the succession of 14 Lamas, think he is a man of wisdom, insight and compassion or just a rather cool orator who smiles a lot and wears saffron. He is who he is...

The attention focused on China and the Olympics is only going to increase, whatever China does to avert it. The torch run is looking more like an obstacle course, and the games themselves will be filled with images of protest - large and small. I'm pleased about this as China has a lot to answer for, not just Tibet, and this is a catalyst for pressure. It won't happen overnight, but this is a time where silence is acquiescence.

Here are some of the Dalai Lama's words today in Japan, when asked about the current situation.

The Dalai Lama said the demonstrators had the right to their opinions, though he called for nonviolence. “The expression of their feelings is up to them,” he said. “Nobody has the right to tell them to shut up. One of the problems in Tibet is that there is no freedom of speech.”

“We are not anti-Chinese. Right from the beginning, we supported the Olympic Games,” he told reporters outside Tokyo on a stopover on a trip to Seattle. “I really feel very sad the government demonizes me. I am just a human, I am not a demon.”

He added that if the situation improves, he would even be willing to attend the Olympics' opening ceremony.“I personally want to enjoy the big ceremony,” he said.

What a time we live in...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A question about new beginnings (spring)...

"Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" ~Robin Williams

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" ~Mark Twain

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." ~Margaret Atwood

It's finally spring (I know it's autumn for you Lindsay, but bear with me)... The bulb flowers are poking their noses up through the soil, the robins are chirping and flitting, the teenagers are doing the same, and the sun is rising earlier each morning. I like it.

Here's an interesting question for you: What have you done in your life that says 'new beginnings'?
Tell a story, give an example or simply describe that terrific dark strong coffee after a night of too much red wine (oh, wait, that was me...)

Or just read what others write.

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