Empathy By Degrees


My cats hate each other, but they hate winter more. cats fightingBoth Big Blonde and the Black Whiner have finally come to one agreement; cold and snow are not to be tolerated.

My cats are very lucky. They live lives of relative luxury; they are loved, well-fed, and taken care of when they are ill or needy.

The two homeless men that died in Toronto during the cold snap of this week were not so lucky. As temperatures plummeted, the men – one found dead in a downtown bus shelter wearing only jeans, a T-shirt, and a hospital bracelet; the other found dead in an abandoned delivery truck parked in the city’s west end on Monday – were 55 and 60 years old.

There hasn’t been a lot of information released yet on these men’s backgrounds. homeless in toronto winterIt seems they’ve already been filed underhomeless,’ and for many people, that’s enough to make a judgment. “Those” people – those that have fallen through society’s cracks and who bother us by begging for spare change, or whom we step over as they sleep on heating grates in one of North America’s richest cities – rarely elicit more than a ‘tsk’ from those who have jobs, families, friends, and societal approval.

In Toronto, the Mayor’s office issues an extreme cold weather alert when the temperature plummets to –15 C, (5 below, in Fahrenheit,) or when Environment Canada‘s forecast includes factors like wind chill and precipitation. The city has to do so, as even if there were enough shelters to hold our most vulnerable residents, there are many who would still brave the cold rather than seek shelter. The cold weather alert releases additional resources, like warming centres, in those cases. homelessDSC00414

Despite the cold snap that descended on Toronto on Monday morning, the city did not call an alert. On Tuesday morning, temperatures reached -20 C with wind chill, but the actual temperature was -14 C, just above the range. Imagine being outside and homeless, chilled to the bone, teeth rattling as you shiver, and contemplating that one degree of separation.

Even though an extreme cold weather alert had not been issued by Toronto Public Health (TPH,) Mayor John Tory requested last night that the city manager open Toronto’s two 24-hour warming centres.

toronto-homeless1-622x414TWO warming centres, in a city with an estimated population of more than 2800 people living on the streets on any given night.

On the bright side, during an extreme cold weather alert, shelters are directed to relax service restrictions, allowing some homeless, known to be mentally unstable or disruptive, a chance to “warm up.” Transit tokens are made available at drop-in centres so that people can reach shelters, additional shelter spaces are made available, and there is an increase in street outreach and transportation services.

Gaetan Heroux, a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, organized a protest at City Hall yesterday, as the hashtag #CallTheAlert trended on Twitter. Toronto residents calling for action gathered outside the Mayor’s office criticized the city’s policy of 15C below. With two dead in two days, Toronto Public Health (TPH) still defended the -15 C threshold, saying that their conclusions are appropriate, and based on science.

Meanwhile, local radio and television statements urged pet owners to be diligent in keeping their furry friends indoors, as the cold could lead to frostbite and long-term health problems.

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold weather warning for today, forecasting that the wind chill will make it feel like close to –30 in the afternoon and overnight.

My cats are lucky; they’ll be safe and warm, well-fed, and being cared for by people that love them. homeless in Toronto2But for the homeless in Toronto, there’ll be two warming shelters, begrudgingly allowing its citizens with physical, emotional or financial problems to “warm up,” – but only when it’s below 15C.

From the City of Toronto’s website: “If you see someone whom you think requires street outreach assistance, call 311. Note that 311 is not an emergency number. In an emergency, dial 911.”

The Short-Sightedness of Corporate Greed


In the midst of those post-holiday, January credit card blues, the Toronto Star business section headline on New Year’s Day trumpeted, “CEO pay returns to ‘glory days.’ Canada’s top 100 CEOs earned an average of $9.2 million in 2013, hitting pre-recession highs.”

While I’m sure the 100 families who benefited from those riches preened in delight, I thought the timing a little harsh for the rest of the country. The average Canadian worker has received little to no raises in the last ten years, and even those on a yearly review schedule can rarely bank on more than a pitiable 2-4% increase.

The average Canadian earned $47,358 in 2013.  ceo-salary-cdn

“The list of high-flying executives was led by Gerald Schwarz, CEO of Onex Corp., who earned $87.9 million in 2013, most of it in stock options. Nadir Mohamed, who was then CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., earned $26.7 million. Michael M. Wilson, of Agrium Inc., earned $23.8 million. All five CEOs of Canada’s biggest banks were in the top 30.(Toronto Star, Jan 1, 2015)

I don’t begrudge anyone a good income. But these figures are insane by any measure. While it must be said that the CEO’s earning these high wages did so through stock options, and hopefully, good corporate leadership, there is another side to their recompense; the people who work – or used to work – in the companies they manage.

“Canada’s highest-paid CEOs earned 195 times the average Canadian in 2013. That’s up from 105 times in 1998, the oldest date for which comparable figures are available. … However, even the lowest-paid CEO on the list earned more in 2013 than in 2008. While little data is available on CEO pay prior to the 1990s, it is generally accepted that the ratio of executive pay to average pay in the late 1980s was 40:1 in the U.S. and somewhat lower in Canada.” (Toronto Star)

There are only a few ways that a business can continually increase profit over previous years, which increases the value of the stock, and thereby compels the Board of Directors to approve a CEO’s earnings (which include options and bonuses); by introducing a new product so fantastic and coveted that consumers flock to purchase the item, or by reducing assets and/or staff and/or increasing prices.

That’s where the human toll comes in.

(In the 1990’s) “compensation experts came up with the idea of granting a portion of CEO pay in stock options, in which executives are granted options to buy shares at a “strike” price, usually the current market value of the share. Executives can’t “exercise” the option until a future date, at which time the share might be worth more or less than the original strike price. If the shares are worth more, the executive can opt to “buy” the stock and then immediately sell it at the new, higher value. If they are worth less, he or she can simply let the option expire at no cost to them.

Boards of directors were sold on the idea that options would more closely link executive pay to company performance. Instead, the practice encouraged share price volatility at the expense of long-term value, critics say. Among other things, they say, stock options have encouraged executives to cut costs, lay off staff, sell assets and merge with other firms — all to boost the share price in the short term, often at the expense of the company’s future value. They have also led to the rise of activist investors and hedge funds that buy shares in companies with the goal of splitting them up in order to unlock shareholder value.” (Toronto Star)

I suppose the greed is understandable, even though at that level, money becomes little more than paper to be shuffled about. Greed, accompanied by hubris and a massive sense of self-satisfaction, coupled with a belief that the party will never end, and bolstered by his/her cronies in the same tax bracket, good lawyers and accountants, and a taxation system that treats stock options as capital gains, despite stock options carrying none of the risk associated with normal stock purchases.

A dollar earned through a stock option is worth two dollars of salary income. The difference amounts to a public subsidy paid to these already highly compensated executives.” (author, economist Hugh Mackenzie, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)

These executives would also have superior benefits, perks befitting their pedestaled positions, and a golden handshake agreement that would see them being even better recompensed should they ever be asked to leave the corporation. In contrast, the staff remaining after deep cuts and asset sales would find themselves clinging desperately to their jobs, despite usually having to shoulder the additional responsibilities of their now dispatched former co-workers.

In the long term, that corporate greed that has created such high unemployment in Canada (about 6.6% as of November of 2014, which will drop after seasonal positions are gone,) translates to nearly 1.3 million potential clients and customers who no longer have the income to purchase goods or services from the purveyors. 90% off store

(That figure only includes Canadians who continue to actively seek employment. It does not include those who are underemployed, or who have given up on ever finding another salaried position. To put it yet another way, in a population of 35.16 million, only 17.7 million have jobs.)

Between the shrinking job force, smaller cash reserves available for purchases, and an aging population, the wealthier of whom may move to a warmer country or the poorer who may have to rely solely on government support during their old age, it soon becomes clear that the highest paid executives are playing a zero-sum game.

working-man-vs-parasite

(added Jan. 7/15 – from Huffington Post: “Some 70 per cent of businesses expect growth this year, but only half of them will hire. The result? Stress and burnout for workers…

National Bank chief economist Stefane Marion says Ontario’s growth will be slowed by the fact that the manufacturing sector was gutted during the financial crisis and recession. During previous economic recoveries, Ontario had excess capacity in its factories and could quickly benefit from an increased demand for exports.However, much of that capacity was lost after the last recession and will take some time to rebuild, Marion says.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/06/hiring-canada-employee-burnout-hays_n_6424332.html

Complacency In A World Gone Mad Is Madness


Some people think I’m too political, too easily angered by social inequality, and the machinations of Machiavellian leaders, both politically and in the corporate world. Some think I should stop getting myself all wound up when I read news or statistics that scream injustice is being done – to anyone, anywhere. After all, they say, what can YOU do about it anyway? May as well play another game of Sudoku, have a nap, or scroll through Facebook looking for pictures of cute kittens and puppies.  Relaxing-GIF-2015_1

Keep your head down, they say. Keep your voice down. If you personally are not ready to throw your own hat into the ring, shut up and eat the gruel. Otherwise you and your family may find yourself targeted by those in power, who have the ability to investigate your words and actions, make life difficult for you through quasi-legal measures, and/or arrest you for speaking your mind.

Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984, finally here in 2015. Big Brother IS watching you. He’s trolling social media, and tapping the phones of anyone he pleases. He’s quashing peaceful protests and jailing innocent bystanders. And using the resources of a ‘grateful nation’s’ tax dollars to do so.

We’ve been lulled into complacency. Broadcast and social media keep tossing the inconsequential, the absurd, and the petty transgressions of pop stars into our daily lives, neatly obscuring revelations of injustice and criminal misdeeds.

In reference to the dismantling of Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been quoted as saying, “Well, first we’re going to get them on their knees and then we’re going to restructure them.” This could just as easily be applied to how the civilized world has been broken, and is indeed being restructured, into a nation of people too addled by frivolity and too frightened of consequences, to demand justice and social change.

Those who oppose the new status quo find themselves ridiculed, even reviled, for daring to speak up. Is it any wonder that peaceful protests are so rare, in the face of rogue policing, corporate manipulation and outright legalized disparagement?  police brutalityThose who question find themselves shouted down by the louder voices of those who firmly believe that it is only through brute force that the masses can be contained. Those louder voices need to keep the money and the power flowing through the right veins.

We must ask ourselves, why have we let politicians and corporations carve up the planet and remake it to best serve their own interests? And when did the pursuit of triviality overcome our own basic need for justice? Yes, it’s tiresome to react to the horrors, both legal and non, that we read about daily. But the situation is only going to get worse if we don’t demand answers. We need leaders with global vision that goes beyond their own narrow beliefs and lust for power.

And in order to get those leaders, we have to get our heads out of our own backsides, and demand more of ourselves and of those we’ve put into power.

(for more info on the destruction of the CBC, here’s a blog I wrote in November 2014 that might be of interest:)

https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/roxanne-tellier-death-by-a-thousand-cuts-why-you-should-care-about-the-cbc/

Learning Social Media Etiquette – Friends


facebook-friends2

A few years ago I met and befriended a fellow woman musician who was in her mid-50’s. We both went to jams around town, and seemed like-minded. She was divorced, with a teenaged daughter, and was only able to carve out small, usually daytime, opportunities to play and sing her own material or cover songs.

She was really friendly, in a new-agey way, smelled of patchouli oil, and yearned to be part of the inner circle that were regularly called on to perform at or attend gigs of a more professional calibre. She also painted, made lovely crafty items, and had self-published a romance novel. I felt I had found a kindred soul.

One late afternoon, under the influence of a few beers, she and I chatted with a fellow we’d never seen at the jams before. He was very tall, had a British accent and a lovely sense of humour. We three shared a drink, and then went our separate ways.

That night I was on Facebook, and thought I’d see if he was part of any of the musical circles I knew. I could only remember that his first name was David, so I combed through the likeliest suspects, and sent a friend request to one of the umpteen Davids. He accepted my friendship, at which time I discovered that he was not the fellow I had been looking for. But – a friend is a friend, and he did seem to be a good-hearted sort; comfortably married, retired, with a history of pleasant status updates.

A few days later, my girlfriend confronted me, clearly agitated. She asked why I’d befriended this David. I was puzzled, but explained, as above, that I thought he’d been the fellow at the jam, and that I’d made a mistake, but he seemed alright.

As it turned out, the David I’d chosen was a long time personal friend of her family. She accused me of cruising through her friend list, in an attempt to ‘steal’ her friends. I was surprised, but being new to Facebook, apologized. After all, she had more experience in social media, and I was fairly new to the scene.

Over the next year, as I got to know her better, I realized that she had a few issues that I couldn’t deal with, including a tendency to be very jealous of anyone I spoke to whom she’d known first. Still, we stayed friendly, until we had a serious misunderstanding which she responded to with a string of accusations and scathing contempt. I didn’t speak to her for several years after that.

Recently, a very dear old friend, who’d moved back to the States 40 years ago, joined Facebook. I was delighted to chat with her again, and we often spend hours messaging back and forth about our good old days on the road. As time went by, I’d see her name pop up in a friend’s Facebook postings, and think what a small world we lived in, that we had so many friends in common.

It wasn’t until I noticed that she’d gone from less than 100 friends four months earlier to almost 400 friends – 132 of them mutual – that I realized that she’d befriended a lot of my own friends while reading responses I’d posted on a status.

But here’s the thing – I’m glad she’s in the same loop as I am. We all have similar slightly off-kilter interests, we all spend a lot of time on social media, and life is easier when you don’t have to tell a story to multiple ears. I can reference people she might never have met, and introduce her to talented and fascinating people I’ve encountered in my journey through life. She’s encouraged me to befriend some of her own friends, and to join groups where we can discuss music amongst other professionals. To me, it’s a win-win situation, and the idealized reason I joined Facebook in the first place.

The ironic thing is that the first woman, who didn’t want to share her friends, is a highly vocal proponent of the Law of Attraction, where one is meant to put forward what one wants from the universe in order to receive its bounties. It would seem that the simple joy of like-minded acquaintances doesn’t rate high on her list of acceptable gifts.

friendship

Pursuing Perfection


“Twitter Won’t “Let It Go” After Idina Menzel’s “Frozen” Performance on New Year’s Eve”

?????????????????My, there sure are a lot of people critiquing Idina Menzel’s New Year’s Eve performance. Who’d have guessed that the nation had such wide knowledge and experience of music and performance? Let it go, people!

Yes, I’ve seen the video clip, and yes, she missed the last high note, after beautifully performing the first 3 minutes and 40 seconds. As a singer myself, I can imagine how upset she’d have been with herself as she neared the note, muffed it, and still had to appear confident and grateful for applause. That’s a terrible feeling, that moment that you know – and you always know – that you just screwed something up in front of the world.

The thing is, most of us will never have the chance to make big mistakes in front of large audiences. Few rise to any kind of worldwide fame, and those few generally deserve their place, whether you approve or not. The singer, the actor, the politician, the fashion guru … they get there by being either very good at what they do, or being very good at hiring people to make it appear that they are very good at what they do. Joe/Jane Blow on The Voice or American Idol is not that person. Those who audition on talent shows are hoping that they can get to the top, but it’s a long hard road and they are only a few paces in.

There are several factors that are being ignored by those ‘haters,’ one being a deep dark secret the performing industry hopes you’ve not noticed – most of the top stars performing at important live events are not actually singing live. Or they may be singing along to a recording of themselves, to cover the bases. You don’t want a major event being spoiled by the vagaries of humans. Singers, being human, are not always at their best when you need them to be. Lip synching, or miming, has been around since as long as there has been the ability to create and record one perfect performance. Did you honestly think that the actors in the Partridge Family just all happened to be wonderful little songbirds as well? Do you not remember the scandal in 1990 when Milli Vanilli had to return their Grammy award when it turned out they hadn’t actually sung their hits?

Even the great Pavarotti had to fall back on lip synching.

pavarotti“On February 10, 2006, Luciano Pavarotti sang “Nessum Dorma” at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy at his final performance. In the last act of the opening ceremony, his performance received the longest and loudest ovation of the night from the international crowd. Leone Magiera, who directed the performance, revealed in his 2008 memoirs, Pavarotti Visto da Vicino, that the performance was pre-recorded weeks earlier. “The orchestra pretended to play for the audience, I pretended to conduct and Luciano pretended to sing. The effect was wonderful,” he wrote. Pavarotti’s manager, Terri Robson, said that the tenor had turned the Winter Olympic Committee’s invitation down several times because it would have been impossible to sing late at night in the sub-zero conditions of Turin in February. The committee eventually persuaded him to take part by pre-recording the song.” (Wikipedia)

Having heard Ms Menzel’s performance, I can assure you – she was neither lip synching nor singing to a track. That was a real person on stage, in the freezing cold, trying to give her best to an audience of thousands. Of those sneering at the missed note, 99.9% would likely be unable to replace her in either her stage or recording capacity.

But they’ll chime in anyway, because today’s audiences are also either unaware or uncaring that the recording of a voice is not necessarily a snapshot of what the singer can actually perform live. Many performers rely on auto-tune, not only in the studio, but in their microphone during a live performance. (Auto-tune, first developed in 1997, is an audio processor that corrects pitch in notes.) And during recording, the singer can make as many stabs as they like at hitting a particularly high note, or at holding a note, independent of what notes came before. The singer can record a line at a time, if necessary, and the studio engineer can cut and paste parts of the song as needed. The engineer can also add ‘sweeteners’ to the voice, adding a slight echo, or bringing up the treble or bass in the voice to create fullness. So what you’re hearing on a record may actually have very little in common with what the singer will present in a live performance.  auto tune disabled

“Opponents of the plug-in have argued that Auto-Tune has a negative effect on society’s perception and consumption of music. In 2004, UK’s The Daily Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick called Auto-Tune a “particularly sinister invention that has been putting extra shine on pop vocals since the 1990s” by taking “a poorly sung note and transpos[ing] it, placing it dead centre of where it was meant to be”… In 2010, Time magazine included Auto-Tune in their list of “The 50 Worst Inventions.” (Wikipedia)

And speaking of live performances, “Let It Go” is not a song one would generally expect to hear performed at the Times Square venue on New Year’s Eve. It’s a power ballad, from a cartoon, sung by an incredible Broadway stage veteran, and backed by an orchestra, for pete’s sake! There’s no hiding behind drums, bass and a wailing guitar here! The song is all voice, exposing both perfections and imperfections.

Ms Menzel is taking the criticism far better than most. As social media continues to bang on about ‘that note,’ she’s responded by referencing an interview she gave a few months ago, in which she said in part, “Performing isn’t only about the acrobatics and the high notes; it’s staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way, and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit, and that’s how I try to approach my life. You can’t get it all right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.”

Perhaps those who can’t stop criticizing Ms Menzel’s performance would be wise to look to their own lives. If their best efforts were to suddenly be shown to the public, could their attempts bear the same sort of scrutiny they’re giving to her?

And when did today’s audience become so like the bloodthirsty Coliseum crowds in Nero’s fallen Roman empire, shouting encouragement to the lions rather than the gladiators? Sorry, haters – This time it’s you that’s earned the thumbs down.thumbs down

Snu


Can’t complain – the weather was worse in November than December. I didn’t miss the snow at all on Christmas. And the first thing I did on New Year’s Day was look out the window, and cry out for joy at the lack of whiteness.

But all good things must come to an end, and today, alas … there is a smattering, a dusting even, of powder. New Snow. Snu.    light snowI lived in Alberta as a child, and 12 foot drifts of snow were not uncommon. I trotted off to school in below zero weather wearing knee socks. It was a ‘dry cold,” they said.Neige_Montreal

As a mini skirted teen in Montreal, my thighs were perpetually red and chapped from the damp snow and winds. We slogged thru the slush and dug our toys and pets and cars out of the billowy white blanket of snow, snow and more snow.

One of the draws that brought me to Toronto in 1976 was the fabled meagre toronto snow1976snowfall. It seemed every photo of Toronto in winter featured a parade of jacketless men and women delicately high stepping through barely an inch of the white stuff. Could it be? Did people in Toronto not even own snow boots? Lured by that promise, I started a new life in the Big Smoke.

shorts in Toronto winter

And for a decade or two, it did seem that Toronto was the Promised Land for a winter hater like myself. Proportionately, there was definitely less snow than in Quebec, and the people pretended politely that the snow was of no consequence. Many fellows affected long shorts throughout the year, whatever the temperature. Toronto snubbed its nose at winter; if you pretended it wasn’t happening, maybe it would go away.

But, alas – all good things come to an end. The late 90’s and early 2000’s held a wintry nip in the air, and in 2013, we had an Ice Sicestorm 2013torm of epic proportions that brought the city to its knees for nearly a week. It had begun. My winter days in Toronto were numbered. Climate change will chase me out of Ontario.

Where to next? How far can this delicate flower run to escape the winter blues? I’m waiting for a gentle breeze to waft me away from this land of snu … Bermuda beach

Soul Train Line Dance … You Wish!


Never been a trained dancer. On reflection, never been one who toes the line, learns the rules. That’s just me. But man, oh man, did I want to be a dancer. My mum was apparently legendary. She never wanted for a dance partner, was always in demand for parties. Yet she made it all the way to the age of 25, and a virgin, without marrying, and that was pretty good in her day. Lots of proposals, she just hadn’t met the right partner.

Most of the other ‘babes’ were snapped up way before mum. But she, no she, was going to find a proper Romeo. Not for her the ordinary, work a day guys. No, she wanted a husband who could trip the light fantastic with her. So what did she do? She married her brother’s chum, a loose cannon from her brother’s regiment in the Van Doos, a troop that would become known world over as a ‘never say die’ group of guys. (Unfortunately, that same troop would also become one of the first known survivors of a judicious dusting of Agent Orange, but that’s a story for another time.)

She met my dad in January, married him in March, and I was born in December. Cutting it close! The clock must have been ticking, because she even let him off the dancing hook. Neither of them knew what hit them –it was love at first sight at its most violent. The best dad could do was set her up with an apartment in Quebec City, with a puppy, and tell her “I’ll be back” a la Schwarzenegger. By the time she was showing, dad was stationed in the Arctic, and mum was back with her own family in Montreal, awaiting my birth.

But I digress. Mum was a dancer. I have always been a stick figure, with arms and legs completely disproportionate to my body. However, like all young girls who grew up in the 60’s, I really thought I could dance. I didn’t need any instruction … by the age of five I was doing the twist on Montreal’s Beaver Lake mountain side café for CFCF TV! And by the time I was a teen, it was ‘let it all hang out.’ What a great time to be a completely uncoordinated stick figure!

Then DISCO hit. The 70s threw all of the wanna be hippies for a loop, since we were suddenly expected to do line dances, and throw interesting figures into the mix. Ok – stop – maybe that was a Montreal thing. I’m sure there are tons of places in North America who didn’t expect the entire population to suddenly become disco fluent. But I lived in Montreal, and my chosen environment, Crescent Street, had a strict code. Either you stood off to the side, looking too cool to EVER dance, or you got into the mix, and let your backbone slide. For me, this was great. I had a gymnastics background, I was a stick figure… it all worked for me.

But if you had access to ‘Soul Train’… oh my my… you knew you didn’t even have the first idea of where the bump started and ended. My sister and I were aficionados, we studied, but we could never get anywhere near the pelvic thrusts that both the male and female dancers had down pat.

We were Soul Train rejects. Didn’t stop us from having some seriously cool times, but we knew, oh, we knew, we could never even come close to the teenage dancers who scooted the line with flair and panache. It is my shame, and yet … how I love to watch those long ago dancers show me what for.

Please google or youtube “Soul Train Line Dance” to see what I’m talking about.

Election, SchmElection. Who’s Listening To The People?


The government was brought down today in an historic vote of ‘non confidence’ – the first in Canada’s history. So we’re all heading to the voting booth again, for the fourth time in seven years.

As I watched the members vote, their faces gleeful, I saw a bunch of school kids, happy for an early day, and a better way to spend their Spring vacation than a trip to Cabo. These ‘respected’ members of Parliament threw papers in the air, and generally behaved like a gang of five year olds. And oh joy, we get to vote for the ‘best of them’ in just a few months. It’ll cost us about $492 million for their Spring Break, so I hope we all really enjoy it. The cost for the last 4 elections – in the billions.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, a condo building was declared so unstable that the tenants were allowed a mere 15 minutes to enter the premises and retrieve whatever belongings they could grab. Shades of “Queen for a Day!” Apparently the foundation and construction is so faulty, that it has been declared to be too dangerous for even construction workers to approach. The building will be torn down. The tenants, buyers and renters alike, are now homeless, and without any earthly possessions. None of the people who actually profited from the sale, be they the developer, construction company or sales agents, will take responsibility, so the case will go to court as scores of good people go bankrupt, or throw themselves on the mercy of family or the government for the basics of life.

So, how do I feel about the upcoming election? I’m furious. I don’t think the present government is much good, but I have no faith that the next group will be any better. All of those elected are protected from Canada’s reality by good jobs, fat pensions, and ZERO accountability. Please don’t tell me that they have their fingers on the pulse of the electorate, because it is very plain that they are the elite, not representatives of the public. They live in a rarified atmosphere. Wish I did, but until I finally win a Lotto, that great opiate of the people, it’s highly unlikely.

Whatever happened to the Angry Young Men?


Angry young men inspired the beatniks of the 50’s, and the hippies of the 60’s. Sadly, we then devolved into the disco bunnies of the 70s, but everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.
When I googled the origins of the phrase, here’s what I googged:

angry young men, term applied to a group of English writers of the 1950s whose heroes share certain rebellious and critical attitudes toward society. This phrase, which was originally taken from the title of Leslie Allen Paul’s autobiography, Angry Young Man (1951), became current with the production of John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1956). The word angry is probably inappropriate; dissentient or disgruntled perhaps is more accurate. The group not only expressed discontent with the staid, hypocritical institutions of English society—the so-called Establishment—but betrayed disillusionment with itself and with its own achievements. Included among the angry young men were the playwrights John Osborne and Arnold Wesker and the novelists Kingsley Amis, John Braine, John Wain, and Alan Sillitoe. In the 1960s these writers turned to more individualized themes and were no longer considered a group. (source:The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia®.)

Born in the 50s, I claim those men as my heritage. Their ‘anger’ allowed my generation to express their frustration at a world mired in tradition, social stigmas, and suppositions. Champing at the bit to change the world we had inherited, we burned our bras, sat in for peace, started communes, and created more art and music than you could shake a joint at. We thought we had invented sex, drugs, and the Age of Aquarius. Then we all grew up, got married, had kids, and changed into slightly weirder versions of our parents. A lot of us died far too young, many from self-inflicted life choices.

But here we remain, the largest population group in history, the Baby Boomers, the enormous bulge in the tummy of society’s snake, all of us getting older, some of us getting wiser.

January 1, 2011 officially begins the era of the “Golden” Baby Boomer, those Boomers who are about to retire from a career or profession. That’s not me on both levels; I’m not retirement age, and, due to my own choices, will never properly ‘retire’, as I never stayed in any career or profession long enough to build a retirement fund. Most of the people I know are in the same boat – musicians, artists, writers who didn’t get the brass ring or the gold watch.
And just as Boomers have affected every other decade through their sheer numbers, we are about to impact society with our physical and mental health needs, leisure choices, and economics. Those of us who didn’t ‘die before we got old’ are going to get older, sicker and poorer. Society will have to deal with our issues – hopefully not in a ‘Soylent Green’ fashion – and our kids will likely have to bear the cost of our retirement and health care. (note to self: be nicer to the kids.)

But on the bright side, most of us also benefited from decent schooling, and inherited the backbone and street smarts of parents and grandparents, who lived in simpler times, but managed to live through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and, ultimately, us. And we’ve lived long enough to have a fairly good overview of life’s ups and downs. We’re neither as cynical nor gullible as we once were. We’ve realized that yes, Life’s a Bitch, but so are we, when provoked.

And that’s why I have started this blog. I know that, for many of us, the last couple of years have been tough, with problems coming at us like a swarm of flies. We’re the Sandwich Generation of caregivers now, as well, with kids still at home, but parents still hanging in. Fish are dropping out of the sky, Haiti’s still a mess, and now Japan has been sucker punched. Crazies are lining up to see Charlie Sheen’s meltdown up close and personal. If you hate your job, tough, ‘cause there aren’t any others out there for you. Today’s music, overall, just can’t beat the music of our youth. And if you want to get out to a club to hear a band and maybe meet someone, you can’t soothe your nerves with cigarettes, and you better stick to one drink or you could get busted driving home.

WE are the new ‘angry young men’, those of us who still give a damn. With the perspective of age, we look back on what worked and what didn’t, and look forward to an increasingly litigious, PC, over controlled world. That, my friends, is frustration.
Frustrated Boomers unite!