Mother’s Day!


It’s Mother’s Day! All around us, people are handing over mushy cards and hopefully some not too badly dented flowers to their mother or mother surrogate, loading up the kids and other significants into the car, eager to stand in a 90 minute wait line  for brunch, or planning a visit to dear old mater at the familial manor or retirement home. Others are spending a day in maudlin pining for their dearly departed.

Ah .. Mother’s Day.

mothers day funnyNo one is born a mother.  Nor does the act of birth make you a mother, though the preparation can kill you. Nine months of physical, emotional and often financial trauma can really take it out of a woman, let me tell you, and her reward is a life sentence of blood ,sweat, tears and copious amounts of other bodily fluids, starting just moments after delivery. It takes more than those vaunted male balls to merely survive motherhood, never mind make it to an age when your progeny finally honour your effort.

There was a time when the concept of motherhood was pedestaled. Flowery accolades, songs, and soppy paintings celebrated dear old mum. A mother was a venerated and venerable icon, framed by a strict adherence to the role society had deemed appropriate. The average mothers day old fashionedwoman had swapped her youth for the chance of financial security, and she and her progeny were  essentially the property of her husband, with very few rights, and less autonomy than a free range chicken.

A hundred years ago, a woman could be married by twenty, have eight kids by thirty, and have keeled over by forty, clearing the way for daddy dearest to glom on to a younger consort to comfort him in his golden years. With little in the way of contraception apart from abstinence, motherhood was very often not a choice at all.

Despite the constraints imposed upon them by their household duties, there were women who worked tirelessly at volunteer positions. One such woman was Ann Jarvis, an American peace activist who was known for her care of wounded soldiers on both sides of the  Civil War. After her death, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, held a memorial in 1908 to honour her mother, with the intention of honouring all mothers, and of creating Mother’s Day Work Clubs that would address public health issues.

By 1914, Jarvis’ work had created enough of a buzz to convince American President Woodrow Wilson to proclaim Mother’s Day a national holiday to honour mothers. The notion of setting aside the second Sunday in May for this purpose spread rapidly, and was very soon adopted all around the world.

No one was more incensed at the commercialization of the holiday than Jarvis herself.  By 1912 she had patented both “Second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” (always with the apostrophe signifying that each family should be honouring their own mother,)  but she loathed the bandwagoning of Hallmark Cards and other companies that were capitalizing on the holiday, and in particular the group, American War Mothers, who had tied their fundraising campaigns to the selling of pink “Mother’s Day Carnations.

A true daughter of her mother, she organized boycotts and threatened lawsuits throughout the 1920’s against those card companies, candy manufacturers, and fundraising groups, who, she felt, dishonoured the holiday by encouraging the buying of gifts over a heartfelt, handwritten declaration of love and gratitude.

For all her protests, Mother’s Day continues to be one of the most commercially successful of North American occasions, particularly for the sales of flowers, greeting cards, chocolates, and pink (for girls!) tchotchkes.  mothers day gifts

Modern women have a more ambivalent take on the day. No one’s going to turn down a thoughtful card or gift, given, however willingly or unwillingly, by the person they’ve brought into the world and raised, whether through birth or other means. But you shouldn’t be surprised if your gift is accepted with a knowing smile. After all, mothers invest decades into forming an adult, with all of the attendant duties, unpaid and largely unacknowledged, in the home or out of it. A card is the very least you can thank her with – pretty much the equivalent of the minimum wage.  (“We’d pay you less if we could, but the law’s the law!”)

Mothers are not born with an innate ability to withstand pain, and the endless tyranny of childcare. They do not spring fully formed from hours of labour, ready to bear whatever this new being throws at them, physically or emotionally. They are young women with lives and dreams of their own that put aside their own selves in the service of families and societies that place very little value on what makes the actual world turn – cooking, cleaning, planning, organizing, wiping away tears and cleaning tiny bottoms.

Perhaps a more thoughtful gift for mums might be something that recognizes those sacrifices, and puts it into perspective. Mother’s Day, possibly more than any other holiday, is your chance to really thank your maternal parent for putting aside a large portion of their life to create yours.

mothers day reminderGet it out of your head that Mumsie will be over the moon with a new pair of fuzzy slippers, and realize that she’d much prefer a gift certificate to a spa of her choice, or a year’s subscription to the Wine of the Month Club. If you’re old enough to read this, and you are lucky enough to still have a living maternal figure, remember her existence and needs more than once a year.

She spent far more years indulging your wants and needs than you have left to thank her for her generosity.

And while I’m in a fever dream of possibilities, address your own attitudes to women of all ages, for every one of them is a mother or a potential mother. While it’s lovely  to honour your own mother, remember that many of the women you see every day, of child bearing age or beyond, are also someone else’s honoured mum, and that there is likely someone out there who would  take a lot of offense to anyone who treated her with disrespect. The ability to divorce the love of one’s mother from respect for all women, their bodies, and their work, is simply astounding, especially as seen amongst those with the power or clout to affect change.

Ah, Mother’s Day. In theory, adorable. In practice, a day when women – the wives, teachers, chefs, chief bottle washers, multi-taskers, and keeper of the family brain – are granted ‘permission’ to relax  for a short while, and enjoy a chocolate, before they get on with  the work of making the domestic world go ‘round. Not much of a trade-off, really.

 

(first published on    bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/roxanne-tellier-spotlight-on-mama/)

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You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!


Remember when newspapers had actual content writers, copy editors and proper headlines?  Spell checkers? You do?

fold-newspaper-step-2_300Me too.  And I miss those days. I used to amuse myself at times trying to find the odd misspell or grammatical error, because I was a nerdlinger, and errors were rare enough to make the game worth the while. Overall, I really appreciated a cleverly turned phrase, an apt summation, a seductive call to ‘read all about it!’ and I relished the tiny print request to (continue reading on page …. ). I’d even suffer the frustration and indignity of wrestling a broadsheet into submission, when my interest had been piqued.

Tabloids took all the fun out of both of those exercises.

weekly world news batboyNow you can feast your eyes on the clickbait genre; titles that are designed to manipulate or coerce readers into entering their site. Today’s online version of the Weekly World News. 

With the death of old school journalism in recent years, and the plethora of online sites vying for your ‘click’ to entice advertiser dollars, clickbait titles have become the go-to tactic to attract curious – yet oddly  intellectually lazy – eyes.

Why bother researching social inequity, when you’ve just clicked on the cutest video of homeless people?  Or examining the difference between available political parties when this snappy cartoon lays it all out for you? Have you flexed your ethical and moral values because you watched a video of a kid standing up to bullies? Surely you’ve done your part, and now our faith in humanity can be restored.

whoopass sodaAnd in a philosophical sense, isn’t society always in doubt as to the state of humanity? It can be a Sisyphean task, keeping the faith.  ”You won’t Believe what happens next” challenges our cynicism and belief systems, and dares us to dream, one more time, that there are wonders and miracles to be found. All you have to do is click this link ….

I know there are a lot of intelligent people out there. I’ve met some, and, based on the spectrum, there must be many more in the general population. But, sadly, in any large group, there are those who somehow managed to fail upward through the education system and most of their formative years, neatly bypassing all attempts to be enlightened. It happens. Read the comments on nearly every article, post or blog on any site and subject deemed controversial – politics, sex, climate change, equal rights. You’ll be stunned at how many very uninformed and uneducated commentators feel the need to add their poorly digested bile to a discussion and set the LiBtArDs straight.

Your_brain_on_clickbaitIt would be sooo easy to write off clickbait as the natural habitat of those easily manipulated and gullible people. But they are not the only ones to fall into the trap; clickbait appeals to our sense of disbelief. It asks – dare you read this? How strong are your views? – while simultaneously appealing to our innate desire to know what is in the future. What happens next? Ah, wouldn’t we all like to have a heads up on that!

But clickbait is no crystal ball. If anything, the majority of Upworthy’s maudlin videos fall into the need to hear a little good news for a change.  Buzzfeed’s listicles and how-to’s attempt to find meaning in meaningless exercises attempting to smooth the way through meaningless everyday tasks. Celebrity websites exist to glorify celebrities and those who wish to attain celebrity through sensationalism and sexy side boob glimpses  … making the mundane into rumour-worthy chatter you can share on social media, whether the material has basis in reality or not.

And it works. Most people are busy enough trying to get through their day without too much distress, hanging on to whatever brings in the money necessary for them to make it through yet another day, while being bombarded with doom and gloom on every side. People are not meant to be flooded with a constant stream of new data; our brains prefer to be fed chunks of necessary information, with just the odd spike of spicy novelty to keep things interesting.

weekly world news sneezeI’m not saying that clickbait is an insult to our collective intelligence. No, I’m saying it’s a necessary evil, designed to ease the pressure off an already strained valve. Without clickbait, cat videos, games, listicles and recipes, the strain of modern life would likely blow the top off of our heads.

I’m just saying that it’s a bit much to ask readers to take a publication seriously that depends solely on clickbait headlines. And why would you even try?  It’s akin to walking through the midway at the Ex, in the days when the carnival barkers used to pull in the rubes with promises of the “Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla GURL!” or LobsterBoy.  Escapist fun in limited quantity – nauseating as a steady diet.

Shock tactics and clickbait achieve the immediate measurable goal – quantifiable clicks of attention, attracting advertisers to invest. Long term respect and dignity come from actual, informative, content, which entertains on a higher level than titillation.

For many publications, the clicks are enough.

 

It Is To Laugh!


samantha bee trevor noah.jpgIn a Salon.com article last week, Steve Almond accused Comedy Central of having “squandered Jon Stewart’s legacy” by appointing South African comedian Trevor Noah as host, over the then-incumbent Samantha Bee.

The author points to the success of Bee’s new show “Full Frontal” as proof that Noah’s lower key, outsider’s perspective, has damaged the credibility and political power of The Daily Show.

There’s so much wrong with that attitude that I barely know where to begin. Full disclosure: my conversion to political junkie is relatively recent, and as with most converts, I just can’t get enough of meaningful discussion on my new passion. I’m also an entertainer who studied comedy and acting for long enough to have a dispassionate overview of what I see on the screen – I’m not buying the physical over the intellectual. I watch for knowledge and to hear something clever that I hadn’t thought of myself.

That being said – there’s lots of leg room in the television/Internet world for a wide spectrum of opinions, and lawdy, lawdy, there’s a fan for every fanatical opinion. I dislike certain types of discourse; insightful commentary has no need to use scatology or childish insults unless justified in context. Those that shriek their thoughts are right off my list of viewing. So, that certainly leaves out the FOX News Network, and all Republican debates, no matter how ‘entertaining.’

But let’s just cut to the chase on why Samantha Bee declined the chance to succeed Jon Stewart.titans of late night 2016

I like how Vanity Fair leaned into the 50’s sexism of late night by making the photo Mad Men-themed’.

The ‘titans of late night’ sausagefest included Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, and token light skinned Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore. Not exactly a cultural mosaic going on there.

vanity-fair-cover2

“What’s conspicuously missing from late-night, still, is women,’ wrote David Kamp.’How gobsmackingly insane is it that no TV network has had the common sense — and that’s all we’re talking about in 2015, not courage, bravery, or even decency — to hand over the reins of an existing late-night comedy program to a female person?

(You could also add “people of colour” there, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

While I can appreciate the work of Conan O’Brien, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon, I’ve never really taken to them. I’m just ‘over’ the late night formula, with its emphasis on rising or fading stars, and middle of the road, slightly risqué, rarely challenging patter. That was always the domain of older, white males, and still largely is. That’s more ” falling asleep in front of the TV” stuff, to me.

colbert thumbs upStephen Colbert’s defection to The Tonight Show, despite his best efforts, still landed him in that traditional format. While the move made great career sense overall and I do love his joyful, melodica playing, bandleader, Jon Batiste, Colbert’s brilliance is still best viewed in his political snipes, and thankfully, the cream of his wit usually wind up getting spun off into Internet clips and memes.

Trevor Noah only has to step on stage for the conservative dog whistles to start – he’s a young, black, South African, and an immigrant who’s taken an American’s job! A gentle, soft spoken and thoughtful soul, he is able to laugh at his own foibles and to marvel at American customs and culture. I find his often wide-eyed wonder refreshing – I too sometimes feel the same gulf between how Canadians and Americans think. Sometimes it’s just too wide a mental leap to span.

The contrast between the often brash, broad humoured and ultra-white Stewart and Noah’s more restrained presence can be jarring, if all you are looking for is what you’ve already seen. But Stewart himself knew that it was time to go – he’d accomplished what he’d set out to do. He saw that it was time to move on and let the next wave of young comedians have their shot. He subsequently signed a four year production contract with HBO, while continuing as executive producer of …larry wilmore

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore – an Afrocentric look at America’s politics. Maybe it’s the humour of the damned and the resigned, but it’s also intelligent, truthful, often wise, and empathic.

A typical, if bowdlerized, user’s comment on the show: “they have almost no white people on their show at any point, and often just disrespect that person. It’s always a black panel, it’s always the same guys opinion, who is him? I’ve never seen or heard of him. He presents rather, off humor, if any of this is humor, which it’s not, it’s just a group of people acting out raged constantly”

people care about pets over poor blacksThe main take-away being, at least on the commentator’s part, not to see a chance to explore and try to understand a different perspective on the very real problem of racism in America, and how it’s dealt with, legally and individually, but instead a demand for more white faces to rehash white opinions on a series focused on black lives. And there you have your #allLifeMatters in a nutshell.

Stewart was also instrumental in launching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a satirical look at news, politics and current events. Funny-sausage-principle-by-John-OliverOliver had the distinction of guest-hosting The Daily Show in the summer of 2013, when Stewart took a working sabbatical to direct his film, Rosewater. Oliver’s sardonic and exaggerated comedic ‘voice,’ was immediately acceptable to American viewers familiar with the work of British comedians in the Monty Python vein. Although his series airs only once a week, each episode is a little gem, with the bulk of the airtime focusing with laser beam intensity on a well-researched and timely item deserving of closer examination.

 

hollywood_reporter_bill_maher_coverStill a force to be reckoned with, is Bill Maher, of Real Time, and the late, lamented Politically Incorrect. The granddaddy of political satire and discussion, Maher is definitely polarizing. He’s a “love him or hate him” kinda guy. Perhaps that’s the attraction. At any rate, I’ve followed his career since the nineties, and even once seized the opportunity to be in the Politically Incorrect audience, just a week or two after 9/11. Though I can’t remember if that was the episode that got his multi –award winning show cancelled.

ABC decided against renewing Maher’s contract for Politically Incorrect in 2002, after he made a controversial on-air remark six days after the September 11 attacks. He agreed with his guest, conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, that the 9/11 terrorists did not act in a cowardly manner (in rebuttal to President Bush’s statement calling them cowards). Maher said, “We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly. You’re right.””

Maher barely skipped a beat, moving from ABC to HBO in 2003, where his hour-long political comedy talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher, has flourished ever since.

Bill and I have been aging disgracefully – a world apart, but akin in spirit – for decades. We’re both still lippy, lefty, liberals – though I disagree with his pro-gun stance – with a sarcastic attitude, and a hate-on for bad politics, bought off politicians and mass media, inane bureaucracy, and rabid religionists of any stripe. What’s not to love? I’m positively dejected when I miss my Friday night fix of Real Time .

samantha bee on ScaliaBut circling back to Full Frontal with Samantha Bee… this new series airs only once a week. Like John Oliver, Bee touches briefly on current events, before diving deep into the murky waters of American politics. She’s funny, strong, relevant, courageous … even the show’s theme song, PeachesThe Boys Wanna Be Her,” asserts that “the boys want to be her, the girls want to be her.”

And I think that rings true to a young, engaged, non gender discriminating audience. Bee is cocky, unafraid to confront the staid establishment. Her interview with Texas Republican representative Dan Flynn, about writing the anti-abortion restrictions despite knowing little about the procedure, is typical of her style. “I speak with the authority of one who has a uterus,” Bee tells him, “and I guess that’s why I think that you’re the wrongiest, wrongheadedest wrong person.”

She’s exciting, she’s brave – and she’s Canadian! All of which allows her to comment and opine on wrongheadedness from the perspective of a country more known for acceptance than intellectual resistance. But we’re only four episodes in so far. It may seem longer, since that has encompassed four weeks, but we’re talking baby steps here.

By contrast, Trevor Noah’s been at The Daily Show since September 28, 2015, appearing four nights a week most weeks. Viewers have had time to decide on whether they like his shtick or not. Or have they? trevor noah w de Blasio

I recently watched an episode of Noah speaking with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. But this time, the episode that I watched was not the regular, clipped for time, segment normally shown in the time spot, but rather, included the ‘extended’ interview that is available only to those who seek out the episode on Comedy Central. There was an entirely different tone between the televised and the ‘only available on the Internet’ conversation.

In the first, commercially aired segment, there was a lot of polite banter and civility. But just as the conversation got started, it was cut short.

De Blasio: And look, a lot of people don’t feel the government’s treating them fairly. For years and years, a lot of – and this is especially why, as you know, I’m very involved in the issue of addressing income inequality. And, you know, it’s amazing, you see the national discussion – like, why are people angry? Why are they frustrated? Because they’ve been screwed. Because for decades they’ve seen their incomes go down. They’ve seen their economic reality decline, and they wonder if their kids are going to have anywhere near as good a life as they had. Would you be content? The anger and frustration are the natural way people should feel when they go through that, and then they take that frustration out on a government that they feel has let them down. 

Noah: That has let them down, especially when it comes to income inequality. It’s funny you bring that up, because you are big on income inequality, which seems like a Bernie Sanders supporter, and, yet, you’ve endorsed Hillary, which we’ll talk more about. TV time is up – we’ll be talking more on the web and on the app.

(the extended interview) http://www.thecomedynetwork.ca/Shows/TheDailyShow?vid=821779

Now, I can’t say that I’ve watched many of the extended interviews. However – a different Noah, a more confident, knowledgeable and willing to confront, Noah, appeared during the extended segment. And, in my opinion, that’s the Noah that viewers would prefer to the polished, safe, non-threatening, Noah they’ve been sold since his debut.

sense of humourBut really, in the end, our appreciation of comedy is personal, and only our opinion, as is our sense of humour. Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a good thing – it speaks to our individuality. There’s room for all at the inn – pitting comedian against comedian is sophomoric and limiting. Let’s keep any nonsense austerity principles as far away from the distribution of art as we can.

Having a wide range of voices available for regular viewing is the essence of our freedom to choose, a real gift to viewers, and a paean to the right of free speech.

 

(first published Match 6/2015: bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/roxanne-tellier-it-is-to-laugh/)

But I don’t want to ‘spring forward!’


On Sunday, many of us will “spring forward,” where we will stay until the first Sunday of November, when we will “fall back.” That’s an awful lot of springing and falling, if you ask me, especially in a leap year.

I grew up with the concept of Daylight Saving Time, but I’ve never truly understood the idea. I remember being told some sort of story about farmers and crops andcrabby alarm clock what sort of monster was I to think that my urban sense of time was more important than agriculture, and where do you think you’re going in that short skirt, young lady … oh, that might have been another conversation….

Anyway, yeah – saving daylight. Maybe it’s a war thing, like Saving Private Ryan. I’m sure I heard some story about munitions factories wanting to save on electricity during the war years, and I guess that makes a bit of sense, but really – aren’t most factories closed shops? Dependent on artificial light to see by, regardless of the time of day? So hang on – both of the reasons I remember being told for Daylight Saving hinge on some vague memory of what farms and factories looked like a hundred years ago?

This is all starting to seem rather silly and ‘make worky.’

daylight saving petI do enjoy a little more sun at the end of a long summer’s day, but I can’t really justify that odd bit of enjoyment while I deal with feeding pets that are notoriously bad at telling time. Their little tummies want to be fed on a schedule, and asking them to wait patiently for another hour ensures that it is ME who will be groggily trying to find my slippers, and then banging off the hallway walls trying to find the kitchen, an hour earlier.

And I fail to see how my running from room to room resetting clocks, thermostats, recording devices, microwaves, and stove clocks saves me any time at all.

Proponents say that the extra light prevents automobile accidents, but school bus accidents occur more frequently in the morning during DST. And in fact, there’s a huge spike in accidents of all kinds on the first Monday after the clocks move forward. It actually takes about five days for our brains to settle down after a time shift. There’s also a huge spike in heart attacks in the first week after the clocks go forward. Human bodies like schedules, and having schedules disrupted for no apparent reason is very stressful. boycott_dst

The whole thing’s a crock, first brought up in a Ben Franklin joke in 1770. People stopped laughing when an English builder named William Willet lobbied for the idea in 1907. In 1915, Germany adopted daylight saving, in an attempt to save energy, and in 1916, Britain followed suit. There was a war going on, so most of the allies, including Canada and the United States, jumped on the bandwagon as well.

And we’ve been tinkering with time ever since. In Canada, it’s a provincial decision, and hardly worth thinking about until the morning you wake up at 6 a.m. only to discover it’s now 7 a.m. Most of Saskatchewan, however, has a real muddle. The province is nominally on Central Standard Time , even though it is in the Mountain Zone, which means it’s effectively on DST all year –round. What?

funny-daylight-savings-time-cartoonAll I know is that all of this backwarding and forwarding of the clocks is annoying, and is really just a nostalgic reminder of how businesses ran a century ago. Today’s businesses operate around the clock, like it or not, and syncing time with the United States is as silly as attempting to synch to Australia or China – if you need to do business there, you’ll figure out how. The idea that we all need to work at exactly the same time and in exactly the same way is controlling and paternalistic, and about as useful as a vestigial tail.

Getting rid of Daylight Saving would be as simple as beginning it – just stop. It seems that no one’s bothered to address the issue recently, because it IS such a simple thing.

But it is a silly idea that’s run its course. It is confusing, annoying, and doesn’t save time or energy, so why bother? Down with Daylight Saving! I’ll remember to change my smoke alarm battery some other way!

daylight saving blanket

 

Music City My Ass


Every time I see an article lauding Mayor John Tory’s ‘inspired’ idea of turning Toronto into a ‘Music City,’ I get queasy. You see, I came to Toronto in 1976, when it really WAS one, and have watched succeeding local governments and well-heeled blue noses, waving the banners of political correctness and money over art, stomp the culture to death.

Being a great deal older now than I was then (it happens,) I understand, at least in part, why the city had to change from what – to me – was a cornucopia of musical delights, as dirty and scary as it was,, into what it is today … a staid dowager in corsets trying desperately to seem hip.

IYorkville disco 70sn ’76, the Yorkville of the sixties was already undergoing gentrification, with trendy shops springing up where head shops once ruled, and the few hippie hold outs clinging to their properties out of loyalty or desperation. Disco fevered platformed shoes trod the sacred ground in front of the Riverboat as  I’d wander through on the way to The Morrissey at Yonge and Davenport.

The scene had already moved on to other areas, with Yonge Street the main rock drive, and club after club rocking exceptional talent, with rarely a cover charge, six nights a week, cheek by jowl with strip clubs, massage parlours, peep shows, and sex shops. Sleazy, garish, lewd and loud, the Strip was very much like New York’s Time Square of the period, ugly and yet so seductive. And everybody smoked like chimneys – inyonge st pedestrians the clubs, the patios and the streets.

Gay men and women flocked to the Church and Wellesley area, where they could feel safer than on the butchier Strip. Although this year’s Pride Week and Parade celebrating sexual and gender identity will have sponsors as diverse as TD Canada Trust, Bud Light, Via Rail, and Google+, back then, openly gay people were widely marginalized, shunned, and attacked in the mainstream media and politics. bathhouse raids rageIn 1975, “tiny perfect” mayor David Crombie sent his best wishes to Pride’s organizers, but refused to officially recognize Pride, while City Council declined permission for a Yonge Street march .

And in 1981, Metro Toronto police made the second largest mass arrest in Canadian history when 306 people where busted in the infamous bathhouse raids. It was safer hanging out at `the steps` in front of the Second Cup on Church and Wellesley.

However heteros were in luck in 1975, when the city legalized full nudity for strippers. It became zanzibar1.jpgpretty common for the bigger bars to have strippers by day, and live bands at night.

Black American R&B and soul stars, sick to death of segregation and persecution in their own country, flocked to play the BlueNote, the Edison, and the Colonial Tavern, where they were enthusiastically received. the colonial

Prior to new hate-speech laws of 2007, the biggest reggae acts out of Jamaica would visit Toronto at least twice a year. Anti-gay language in many of their songs, while common in their country, was not welcome here.

The city was dirty, and exciting, and counter culture was hiding in neighbourhoods that were being redefined to suit their residents’ tastes.   Queen West was where you went to find head shops and record stores, and check out the Sally Ann for vintage clothing stores. Later, it was Toronto’s punk centre, as the kids from OCA made their own music. And later still you’d find Chris Sheppard spinning at Club Domino before heading up the long thin stairs to the Voodoo Club.

You could have shot a cannon along King West any time after business hours, and never hit a soul,in the late 70s. In the 80s and 90s, street kids and skin heads hung out at the Evergreen Centre, which, though nominally a drop in, support centre for kids, was actually where you went to score drugs. You could get a whole tray of draft beer at the Gasworks for about $5.00 if you bought it before the bands started, and cheap quarts fuelled a lot of rockers through the hot nights.

the-knobby-1.jpgOut in Scarborough, clubs like the Knob Hill boasted top local talent while the waiters, legends themselves, sold watery draft for a quarter a glass. In Richmond Hill, anyone who was anyone hung at the Black Hawk Motor Inn.

 

 

There really were so many amazing clubs in diverse areas, reflecting the different interests and sounds Toronto wanted to hear. And yes, there was a “Toronto Sound,” and you knew it when you heard it.

So what killed that diverse, energetic culture? Couple of things – and most involved the corporatization of the city. In a quest to bring in funds for the city, ridiculous and arcane licensing regulations picked the pockets of bar owners. It was only last year that the city issued a memo stating that music venues would no longer be ticketed for posters – usually posted by the bands desperate to market a rare gig – advertising their shows.

Yorkville fell to gentrification, and soon, anywhere that the kids flocked began to look like prime real estate. Watching Queen West change from funky to glitz was painful enough for those who’d loved its grunge, but harder still on the residents and business owners who’d made it what it was. Rents soared until a club was walking such a thin profit margin that an off winter could bury them. These days, a shop or bar owner in Kensington Market is looking at paying from $3500 to $9000 a month for basic rent, with virtually no owner maintenance applied. Riverdale , Parkdale, Dufferin Grove, the Junction – all fallen to gentrification that brings more big bucks to those who already have the big bucks, and leaves previous residents out of luck for a reasonable price on a place to live or play.

No one is FOR drunk driving, but the founders of MADD went a little mad themselves as they ground down and down to get to the current laws. Drivers under 21 cannot have ANY alcohol in their blood when driving. Over 21, you have to have a blood alcohol level that is lower than .05%, essentially what you’ll get from a non-alcoholic beverage. You don’t even have to be in a moving car to get an impaired driving violation. If you are sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, moving or not, and have too much alcohol in your system you can get a fine, lose your license and face other penalties.

 And for all the fuss over drinking and driving, I’m trying to remember the last time I saw a club that gave free non-alcoholic beverages to a “Designated Driver”.

no smoking anywhere If you smoke in Toronto, good luck. It’s getting harder and harder to find a place, inside or out, where you can light up. When the new law of not smoking on patios took effect, I knew they’d gone too far. Can’t drink, can’t smoke … what do you do? Why go to a bar at all? May as well stay home – assuming your apartment or condo allows smoking – and drink without the hassle.

The whole corporate model of making money at the expense of art just doesn’t work long term, There’s less investment in the arts – last year, ScotiaBank pulled funding for Nuit Blanche, Caribana, BuskerFest and the CHIN International Picnic. Responding to the dog whistles of stockholders that must have their profits leads to the death of corporate sponsorship of the arts. And good luck with sponsorship of counterculture art. The Big Bop gets torn down to become an upscale furniture store. Liberty Entertainment closes alt-rock venue the Velvet Underground at 510 Queen West to focus on growing its portfolio of wine bars.toronto_opera2.jpg

While donating multiple millions of dollars’ worth of land and funds to conventional arts palaces like the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto City Council quibbles over what constitutes sound restrictions applied to bars. Thou shalt have no music louder than 45 db after 11 pm. A library clocks in at 50-70, a restaurant with no live band at about 90-100. This is progress?

Municipal licensing issues debate over whether a venue is a restaurant with a bar attached, or an entertainment venue. Despite a 2012 report by lobby group Music Canada that outlined ridiculous restrictions to entertainment venues that give ample room for official interpretation (and fines,) the City still loves its condo owners a lot more than it does its club owners. You can read the full report here (http://musiccanada.com/resources/research/toronto-music-city/)

The ‘idea’ of making Toronto a “Music City” is great. In practice, there needs to be a great deal more cooperation on the part of the City in how it deals with current and future venues. What’s been forgotten in a lust for overall incoming revenue from ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and enhanced tourism is that you don’t just add water and stir up a musical culture … it’s made by musicians who fall far outside of the strictures imposed by those who can afford to attend the venues government has deigned to sponsor. It’s made in alleyways and smoky bars, it includes over indulgence in both legal and illegal substances, and it’s a cry AGAINST what Mayor Tory and his Council represent.

Music-City-panel.jpgIf Toronto is serious about doing more than endlessly discussing what they`d do for the city if they could, but apparently can`t, they`ll have to do better than the recent WaveLength panel on The Toronto Music Moment. The latest meeting, held on January 31st saw Jonny Dovercourt and moderator Emily Scherzinger along with Amy Terrill (Music Canada, 4479 Toronto), Daniel Silver (U of T Sociology, Chicago Music City researcher), Rolf Klausener (The Acorn, Arboretum Festival) and Ayo Leilani (Witch Prophet, Above Top Secret, 88 Days of Fortune) hash through basically the same points they did on previous gatherings, and presumably will rehash again at next year`s meeting.

Oh, sure, there are pockets of musical fun to be had in Toronto, and certainly, when the music fests start rolling out in a few months, there will be whole weeks where it seems like the city comes alive in technicolor.

But the following week, the smiles will drop from the faces of the law, the controls will snap back into place with a vengeance, and you’ll once more be unable to get ready public transit from point A to point B. The RIDE programs will stop a lot of entertainment seekers from having more than one beverage, and smokers will try desperately to find somewhere they can still indulge their (legal) vice.

You don’t get to have a clean, politically correct, easily controlled society and still call yourself a ‘Music City.’

(originally published Feb 2016 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/roxanne-tellier-music-city-my-ass/)

 

Introducing the heymacs


With this week’s release of their 7th video adventure, more is becoming known about that mythical group,  the heymacs. Those in the know have sensed from the beginning that there’s more to this shambling group of itinerant musicians than meets the eye.

heymacs alley shot.jpgWhen the Toronto group was first conceived, the five musical veterans weren’t interested in regular gigs, but they did want to share their story. One video led to the next, each offering a little more backstory and insight into the guys and their pragmatic ‘means to an end’ way of life.

When we first met Macky, Doc, Skid, Cowboy and Carlyle, they were pawing through the discarded instruments in the bin behind Ms Laurie’s music store. But there was a sense that the guys might not quite be as they first appeared. As Macky’s graveled voice led the ragtag team in a song of hope and faith, the band proved to be more than proficient on their cobbled together instruments.

Jul 2013 the heymacs – You’ll Never Walk Alone

When the second video appeared six months later,the boys, with a small change in personnel, had found a warmer space where they could relax and work on original material … between dice games.

Dec 2013 – the heymacs – Life is Tough

True to form, this cover of a classic Bob Dylan song appeared after another six month break. It seems the boys had managed to finagle their way into an unlocked recording studio, where they took the opportunity to lay down a few tracks. In the descriptive notes below the video, another pattern emerged – a request to be kind to the homeless was always included.

 Jun 2014 the heymacs – Like A Rolling Stone

Recorded on the same night, but released – yes, six months later – Macky finds himself waxing philosophically on growing older, while the rest of the band catch up on some badly needed sleep.

Nov 2014- the heymacs – If I Were Young Again

With the pattern firmly set, fans were surprised to see another heymacs tune emerge only two months later – and this time, Macky’s poor attempts at maintaining normalcy in his love life have lost himheymacs hit the road w girls his latest lady friend and a crash pad. Undeterred, the band continue rehearsing for an upcoming audition, while Ms Laurie and her friends Lee and Roxie rub it in that Macky’s gonna have to “Hit The Road.”

Jan 2015 the heymacs – Hit The Road, Jack

There’s a lot riding on the big music contest Great North Ski and Skate has sponsored – gear, recording time and a little taste of fame could be within the heymacs grasp. All they have to do is impress the jury, with their musicianship, style, and ‘vintage’ equipment.

Jul 2015 the heymacs – Freeskatin’

In the 7th and most current video, the band has been keeping a low profile, but contest judge Mr. B tracks Macky down to their favourite bar to let them know that they’ve won the contest and the goodies. In fact, he’s so impressed with the boys that he’s brought along his squeezebox, and hopes to have a chance to sit in with the band.

Through “a guy who knows a guy,” Macky and Skid later haveheymacs w Murray McLachlan a chance to play their video take on a Murray McLauchlan Canadian classic for the writer himself, who offers to put in a good word for the band with the ‘new kid’ now running the country.

Feb 2016 the heymacs – Down By The Henry Moore

With seven well-received videos under their belt, it was time to track down band leader Macky O for an update on what was next for the heymacs. Who were these scruffy lads, seemingly unencumbered by families, homes or jobs? And how had the motley crew recognized in each other the musical talent needed to bring the group together?

Macky7I cornered the gruff voiced Macky at his favourite bar. As Skid had revealed in their “FreeSkatin’” video, you can just about always find one of the band at Dangerous Dave’s around dinner time. Macky’s a man of few words, but here’s what he had to say to my questions.

How did the group find each other?

“Well, all of the guys dabbled in music to one extent or another over the years, and we’d organize card games in the alley behind the local music store on some of those nice summer nights. That was Ms. Laurie’s place, called High Note Music. When it started getting cold out, she was kind enough to let us move the game into the receiving shed behind the store. Sometimes she’d throw out damaged gear that we’d fix up as best we could … next thing ya know, we’re jamming instead of playing poker sometimes.”

the heymacsHow did you choose the band name? Does it have some sort of meaning?

“Well, it’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot when exploring dumpsters  ( as in “Hey, Mac! What’cha doin’ in there?!)”

What can the heymacs fans look forward to next?

“Workin’ on a tune called ‘The Old Man Blues’ … a subject with which we have the inside scoop.”

Are there any plans for upcoming gigs where the heymacs can be seen live? What are the band’s long term goals?

“I dunno … maybe do some charity gigs to help out some less fortunates.”

Why do you always mention the homeless in your video descriptions?

“None of us are strangers to being one pay check from disaster, and lots of guys and gals on the street have a backstory of events that simply got outta their control… hey, we’re all human, folks. Every little bit helps …”

How will the band’s sound change with new gear?

“Don’t know if it’ll change that much… but, at least, better equipment is dependable, and guitars will have all 6 strings (and, as Skid often reminds us, drumsticks don’t grow on trees, eh!)”

Anything else you’d like to add, for those new to the heymacs and their music?

“By way of a plug, it’s not easy to find any heymacs stuff that you can buy, and we’re not coming to your town anytime soon. So feel free to visit us on the YouTubes as often as you’d like… just remember … while we don’t want to bash anyone over the head, we’re all about trying to raise awareness to the plight of the homeless.”

To find out more about the heymacs, their music and their ‘private lives,’ hop on over to their website, http://heymacs.shawnoshea.com or visit their Facebook page. (The heymacs.)

 

(first published Feb 14/2016 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/roxanne-tellier-introducing-the-heymacs/)

The Last Taboo


The latest round of celebrity deaths has shaken Baby Boomers to the core. Even if they hadn’t thought of the artist, or listened to their music in decades, the sudden realisation that another part of our youth is irretrievably gone, resonates. deaths 2016

It’s not the physical body of the artist themselves we’re mourning, though. It’s how the music made us feel, what it was like to be young and dumb and possessed of hopes and dreams and aspirations, along with a strong and energetic body that could propel us to our heart’s desires. The music spoke to us and for us; it knew what we were going through, and how that made us feel. That’s what dies when a beloved artist passes … the feeling of being known and understood, and the belief that anything is possible.

old age not for sissiesIf those we grew up admiring are dying, can we be far behind? Does this mean we’re … old? No man, we’re not old, we’re vintage. Classic. Retro. Seasoned.

“Old.” There’s your last taboo, the last epithet used to put you in the corner with the other discarded toys. After a lifetime of experience, the shaming of the circumstance of age is meant to strip you of dignity.

We did it ourselves, back in the day. “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” “Hope I die before I get old!” “Better to burn out than to fade away!” oh yeah. That kid stuff felt good to roar. The oldies had the money and power, but we had what really mattered – sex, drugs, frenetic energy and amps that went to eleven.

is there life after youthOur disdain for those we saw as stodgy was justified. Politicians were rigid and pedantic. Businesses were run by old, white, men in suits. Boomers’ parents had lived through a depression that depleted them physically, and often emotionally. Many had been in service in WWII or Korea – they’d lost a lot of youth’s gloss by the time they procreated. And for so many of our parental units, the prevailing mores of the time, the sharp division between what males and females were allowed to do, prohibited them from just plain having fun, once they had kids. Grownups weren’t supposed to be silly, after all.

Sadly, many of those parents also didn’t make it to their golden years. A lot of really good dads (and moms) got that gold watch at 65 from the job they’d had since they were kids, and didn’t make it to 66. Their worlds, long circumscribed by the 9 to 5 workday, and how decent people supposedly lived, left them worn out and unable to handle retirement.

Still others, now in their 80’s, 90’s and older, are hanging in, but with failing physical and mental health. Many of us belong to the ‘sandwich generation,’ with kids still trying to find themselves, while we try to help our elderly parents. That’s a tough gig.

mature woman judi denchI had a few rollicking debates this week with people just as committed to their opinions as I am to mine, and – predictably – those who couldn’t actually back up their opinions with facts were quick to anger. The insults flew fast and thick … I was a libtard, a fascist, ignorant, naïve. And then, that insult that they thought would be the killing blow … I was just too old to understand.

The trouble with having that ‘weapon’ in your arsenal is that I don’t consider my age to be an impediment. In fact, it’s an enormous asset in understanding the world. When I was in grade school, we actually had to learn, memorize, and study to get to the next grade. There was no pushing along of those who failed to achieve – I knew one guy who stayed in grade 9 for the entire length of my stay in high school! For four long years, he ruled grade 9. He just couldn’t graduate from it.

And spitting “old” at me as though it were a curse doesn’t work for the same reason that I’m not frightened of being told that I’m going to hell when I die. I don’t believe in hell or religion, and haven’t since I was 21. I see age rather like I see religion: some bow down to it and obey its rules. Me, I ignore and abhor the concept of living my life by rules put into place by those who are interpreting the stories that they heard from a friend of a friend who knew this guy… You can keep it. I live by one rule; Do unto others as you would have them do to you. That about covers it.

when I was your ageThe idea of aging, as we know it now, is so far out of whack with reality that I find it laughable. I know 80 year olds that could run intellectual rings around much younger, eminent scholars. I also know 35 year olds so enmeshed in living by society’s strictures, that they look and act like crones, bent down with the weight of the world. Baby – life’s what you make it.

I wish to hell that the white and grey peppering my black hair looked as distinguished as those men in the media who’ve aged so very gracefully that they’ve blossomed into sex symbols in their 60’s, but apparently that is not to be. I refuse to let nature take over, so I’ll keep colouring it and wearing it long as long as I can get away with it. I will never, ever, EVER succumb to the current septuagenarian style of severely short back and sides for both men and women, not for fear of looking ‘old,’ but for fear of appearing like just another clone in an asexual crowd.

aging sophia lorenSo, spit your invectives, call me “old,” as though that will shut me up or close me down. You’ll find you’re wasting your time. Aging is now, more than ever, perspective. It’s a gift, denied to many. It’s only a curse to those who feel they’ve put in their time and would like to go, now, please. For those who’ve cultivated a good attitude, solid friendships, a sense of wonder, and a trust in today’s youth, it’s a world where we finally have time to slow down and see without blinders, a world full of endless possibilities, a world we can watch unfold without being expected to take responsibility for what happens next.

Albert_Einstein_age-quoteOlder people know that how you look doesn’t matter as much as how much you make others laugh. We see through shallow people, and gravitate to those who enrich our lives through kindred spirits. We dress for comfort, not fashion. We know there’ll always be another Saturday night, so missing a party is no big deal. We don’t have to be up on every musical or artistic flash in the pan … if they’re that good, and we’re both still around, we’ll hear about them eventually. We can say “no,” without worrying if it bothers others, and without explanation.

Aging a curse? Au contraire, mon frère … without all of society’s rules bogging me down and harshing my mellow, getting older looks far more like a blessing. Something tells me I’m gonna love my second childhood even more than my first.

12 steps to self care

 

(first published Jan 31/16 – bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/roxanne-tellier-the-last-taboo/)

Are You For Real?


We’re in ‘the teens’ of the 2000s, but let’s not wait for 2020 to get some hindsight. We’re getting weirder, folks, weirder and less able to distinguish truth from lies, and fact from fiction. Could a Donald Trump, 100% fact free, have ever gotten a toe hold on an American presidential race in any other way or time?trump would own carson

Selective narrative, anecdotal evidence, weasel words, temporizing, fatuous politispeak, points that are true out of context or cunningly reframed to suit the narrative, the pedestaling of personal opinion over scientific fact … you’re soaking in it.

Exhibit A: THAT dress. A woman posted a washed-out photograph of a dress on Tumblr, sparking a flurry of 10 million tweets within one week. The picture and argument made its way around the world – was the dress blue and black, or was it white and gold? Why could we not believe our own eyes? white gold blue black dress

A 2015 scientific study with 1,400 respondents found that 57% saw the dress as blue and black, 30% as white and gold and about 10% as blue and brown, while approximately 10% could switch between any of the colour combinations. A small number saw it as blue and gold. Women and older people disproportionately saw the dress as white and gold. The scientists further found that if the dress was shown in artificial yellow-coloured lighting almost all respondents saw the dress as blue and black, while they saw it as white and gold if the simulated lighting had a blue bias.” (Wikipedia.com)

2015 was a year where people would fight to the death over matters big and small. In a time when it is possible to discover nearly anything about anyone, misinformation ruled and our minds reeled. brian williams ratpack.jpg

Respected NBC news anchor Brian Williams admitted to lying about an event he claimed to have been a part of during the Iraq War, and was suspended without pay from Nightly News for “misrepresenting.” Fair enough – who hasn’t beefed up an old story to make yourself look better? We tsk-tsked, but really … we didn’t care.

rachel-dolezalBut when Rachel Dolezal was outed for “misrepresenting” herself as a person of colour – boy did we care, even if we couldn’t really understand why she would choose to do so. Most confused were those who have actually spent their lives dealing with being born black in America. For them, there was no possibility of simply claiming to be white, for whatever reason. And yet, Dolezal, born white, lived as though born black, and became a leader of her local chapter of the NAACP. Was this cultural appropriation or a woman dealing with a severe mental issue? We cared, and we argued.

bruce caitlyn jennerBruce Jenner transitioned into Caitlyn Jenner, and became a cover girl and representative for an entire group of people many weren’t even aware existed. What was going on, we wondered? Was nothing as it appeared?

In the summer, pro-life activists claimed to have a video that showed a Planned Parenthood executive negotiating a price for fetal tissue, The footage was recorded secretly during a lunch meeting on July 25, 2014, between Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, and two people posing as employees of a company looking to procure fetal tissue for research purposes. The video, as released, was heavily edited to cut out Nucatola repeatedly saying its clinics wanted to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research.

The full video shows that after Nucatola mentions the $30 to $100, she describes how those amounts would be reimbursement for expenses related to handling and transportation of the tissues. Nucatola talks about “space issues” and whether shipping would be involved.” (http://www.factcheck.org/2015/07/unspinning-the-planned-parenthood-video/)

planned parenthood health stats.jpgAt least three presidential candidates chose to misunderstand the issue, and to pander to their religious right bases. Despite the facts being “misrepresented,” Rand Paul claimed a video showing [Planned Parenthood]’s top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit!” and Carly Fiorina spat,This isn’t about “choice.” It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.” Carly doubled down further, claiming to have watched a video, which exists only in her own inflamed mind, of a Planned Parenthood doctor saying they must harvest the brain of a fully formed fetus.

And that all led to a confrontation in September as Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a pro-life supporter seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, produced an ‘official’ chart indicating that Planned Parenthood performed more abortions than “life-saving procedures” in 2013. In actuality, the chart was created by Americans United for Life, which is an anti-abortion group. Congress was willing to shut down the government rather than continue to fund Planned Parenthood, with little in the way of facts, but much in the way of righteous indignation.

trump piece of assPolitiFact, who has been documenting Donald Trump’s statements on their Truth-O-Meter, had little difficulty in bestowing the Politifact Lie of The Year award upon him. 76 percent of his pronunciations were Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire – a record no other politician could match. And yet his followers believe he’s authentic, a straight-talker, more truthful, and less scripted than traditional politicians.

Really? Like when Trump said that there were 6 million people over the age of 112, and that’s what was dragging down America’s social security?

Even Bill O’Reilly of Fox News – no stranger to “misrepresenting” himself, challenged Trump’s tweet of inaccurate murder rates. “Whites killed by whites — 16%. Whites killed by blacks — 81%,” said an image he shared on Twitter. FACT: Most people are killed by someone they know, and someone of the same race. The correct number for whites killed by whites was 82 percent in 2014, while the number of whites killed by blacks was 15 percent.”

donald trump carson solid pyramidsBut Trump responded by admitting that being accurate wasn’t the point: “Hey, Bill, Bill, am I gonna check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people … @RealDonaldTrump, by the way.”

Trump’s level of crazy has let other presidential candidates craziness slip by almost unnoticed. Well, except for Ben Carson, who, as a rabid Seventh Day Adventist, has theories that go completely against accepted scientific fact. Despite the mummies found within the pyramids of Egypt, Ben thinks the structures were actually large temples of grain. “I think that’s a plausible explanation to how they got built…I happen to believe a lot of things that you might not believe because I believe in the Bible.”ben carson and jesus

And you should believe him, because apparently he and Jesus have regular spa days together.

And in one of the most Machiavellian misuses of economic austerity, Gov Rick Snyder of Michigan poisoned an entire community in an effort to save money. By switching the Flint water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River without adequately treating the water, the water pipes began to shed lead into the drinking water. Within months, the proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead doubled, prompting the state to declare a State of Emergency. From filmmaker Michael Moore: “To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.”MichaelMooreGov Snyder

So it probably shouldn’t come as such a surprise that people are battling each other, on social and mass media, and defending their own strong opinions, even if their opinions would seem to be contrary to accepted fact, or actually just pulled out of the ether of their own confused rage and fear. “Fact” has been played with so fast and loose that what we believe today might be shoved under the bus tomorrow.

As John Lennon wrote, when you’ve stopped being able to believe in anything … “I just believe in me.”

—–

Motorhead’s Lemmy – the man, the myth, the legend. One of the very few metal frontmen iconic enough to be known by only one name. Gone December 28, 2015, at the age of 70.

“Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God? Trick question – Lemmy IS God.” (Airheads

Here are two videos that bookend his musical life. Waaaaay back in 1964, Lemmy played guitar for Rev Black and The Rockin’ Vicars, a name then abbreviated to The Rockin’ Vicars, but in order to have a chance to get more gigs or even a record contract, they changed their name to “Rockin’ Vickers.”

This cover of Ray Davies’Dandy,” a song made popular by Herman’s Hermits, was released in 1966.

And this Finnish milk commercial, shot just a month before his death at the age of 70, was released this week. As the ad company said, “This is offered in celebration of the life of a lovely, exceptional man – a man who celebrated life so vibrantly himself. We were first shooting a remake of an iconic Finnish milk ad. The tone of this ad that was shot a month ago was changed to make it a heartfelt tribute, however modest. A take that came late in the shoot was selected – one of Lemmy’s brilliant improv moments that was never in the script. This was our magical encounter with a great man – and we’re honoured to share it with the world. Thank you, Lemmy.”

 

originally published as   bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/roxanne-tellier-are-you-for-real/

Goodbye, 2015. Hello 2016!


It must be the new year, because I’ve officially lost all track of time. The flurry of December activities, the shopping, the gatherings – they’ve all left me a little dizzy. Time to close the books on 2015, the year that Marty McFly visited in Back To The Future 2.

ed sheeran lion tattooAlso the hottest year on record, no doubt due to our fascination with movies like Fifty Shades of Grey, Justin Bieber’s naked sunbathing pictures, and Ed Sheeran’s new lion tattoo, which is not a tribute to Cecil, the lion gunned down by the disgraced American dentist, but rather a nod to England’s national emblem, and Sheeran’s own triumph of three sold out nights at Wembley stadium.

Yes, it was a wild year for musicians and their fans. The war between man and machine was launched in May, when Enrique Iglesias had his hand sliced open by a drone shooting live video at a crowded concert in Tijuana. left-sharkTeeny boppers around the world mourned when Zayn Malik quit One Direction; I myself was more intriqued with the antics of #leftshark during Katy Perry’s gig at the SuperBowl.

Australia got it’s knickers in a twist in May when Johnny Depp and wife Amber Heard smuggled their two little dogs, Pistol and Boo, into the country on his private plane, without proper permits. Things got pretty tense, as Australians take the illegal importation of animals rather seriously. Amber is to appear in Australian court and face a possible 10-johnny depp australia memeyear jail term and/or a hefty fine for illegally importing the dogs into Australia and of producing a false document. Depp wasn’t bothered – movie stars don’t need no steenkin’ laws – as he told late night show host Jimmy Kimmel in September:

“As Kimmel laughed, Depp continued: ”This sort of weird, sweaty-pated gut man who decided that two five-, six-inch Teacup Yorkshire Terriers would harm the country in some way. He’s got a point. Especially when you consider that Australia has the most poisonous creatures on earth. Everything will kill you in minutes.’

Lightening it up in the land down under, one young Australian boy’s rendition of the Australian anthem went viral as he persevered through an attack of the hiccups. The show must go on!

Kanye West ended the year on a high note, with the birth of son, Saint, to he and wife Kim Kardashian. But things weren’t going quite as swimmingly during his June appearance at Glastonbury. After calling himself “the greatest living rock star on the planet,” Kanye broke into song, or something vaguely reminiscent, wrestling Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the ground. The Rhapsody won. If he was going to pick a Queen tune to murder for his wife, I’m thinking “Fat Bottomed Girls” would have been more appropriate.

Of course, the Bruce-to-Caitlyn Jenner story has been pretty much THE story of the year, despite Kylie Jenner’s attempt to capture top place with her “lip challenge.” kylie-jenner-challenge-fail.jpgmost of the participants are using shot glasses. After placing their lips into the shot glass, they suck the air out of the glass, creating a vacuum. However, because the glass isn’t flexible like the CandyLipz device, the shot glass can break under all the pressure, causing serious injuries that require stitches to repair. “ (PopSugar.com)

Jeez, we used to lick red Smarties tm for fake lipstick when I was a kid. Thank heavens for the Internet!

And no one could figure out what was going on with that dress.white gold blue black dress

“Neuroscientists Bevil Conway and Jay Neitz believe that the differences in opinions are a result of how the human brain perceives colour, and chromatic adaptation. Similar theories have been expounded by the University of Liverpool’s Paul Knox. Conway believes that it has a connection to how the brain processes the various hues of a daylight sky, noting that “your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis”, and that “people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.” Neitz remarked that

Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance… but I’ve studied individual differences in colour vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” (Wikipedia)

This viral video was a terrific distraction from reality. “Epic Strut” was an ad for England’s MoneySuperMarket.

2015 also saw the rise of the ‘dad bod.” What’s that, you say?

“On March 30, 2015, a sophomore at Clemson University named Mackenzie Pearson published a post on college-centric site The Odyssey titled “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod.” This post gave us perhaps the most complete definition of the phrase that we have: Wrote Pearson, “The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.’ It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.””

Sadly, women don’t get the same props for sporting a mom bod, in fact, they’re usually shamed for it, on the front pages of tabloids,

Celebs with dad bods include John Mayer, Jon Hamm, Jason Segal, Kanye West, Will Ferrell, Jay-Z … and a Canadian who gave us the first dad bod video – Drake.

Although the new Star Wars film is getting all the attention now, it was Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Trainwreck that were the ‘must sees’ earlier this year. Well, when we weren’t Netflix binging, or crying over the season end of Game of Thrones.

hello kitty websiteIn August, the extramarital affair website, Ashley Madison, was hacked, and cheaters everywhere quaked in their BVDs. More worrisome, the Hello Kitty website was hacked in December. So far, so good.

In sports… Sorry. I don’t watch and I don’t care. I missed it all, and when anyone tried to tell me about it, I stuck my fingers in my ears and went “lalalalala” until they stopped. Except for #leftshark. I liked #leftshark.

I’m always surprised at how much happens during a year, and how little I remember by the end of it. We focus on what’s in front of us, as a rule, and even the most important events tend to blur as months go by. As hard as it is to believe, all of the energy and angst involved in the longest election in Canadian history is now in the past, where it should stay. We can’t keep dragging our wounds and wounded behind us like Jacob Marley’s chests and chains.

TrudeauVogue_SpreadCanadians chose Justin Trudeau’s youth and charisma over Stephen Harper’s doom and gloom, and a new era began for Canada. In the first few months of Trudeau’s mandate, he’s brought a breath of fresh air and hope to the country, sweeping away the rigidity and largely male-heavy parliament often associated with traditional government by bringing a more balanced group in to help him lead the country. When asked why he went with gender equality in his cabinet, Justin Trudeau said: “Because it’s 2015.” And not just gender was considered; Trudeau’s cabinet is the first in Canadian history with the first ever Muslim minister, the first aboriginal justice minister, and the first northern fisheries minister, an Inuit who wore a sealskin tie to take his oath.

In the United States, however, another battle over who would make the best President is underway, and it’s a hideous clown car of buffoons who’ve grabbed most of the attention. Americans seem to like trump pointingTrump, who is loud and has a lot of money. Sadly, many Americans equate wealth with intelligence, loud voices with knowledge, and the ability to do one thing well with an ability to do all things well. Trump has attacked minorities, women, the disabled, and anyone who dares to criticize him. Give him props, though; he epitomizes the old cliché of “dressing for the job you want.” Unfortunately, that job is fascist dictator.

He says things that aren’t true, and are regularly proven false, but his loudest followers are generally distrustful of the media, so they take his bleating as gospel. He can basically create any sort of fantasy, a nation run like a reality TV show, and his fans blindly agree with him. That’s a pretty frightening scenario.

If his madness seems familiar, perhaps it’s because you remember this scene:

alex jones tinhatYes, it was a good year for conspiracy theorists and wackadoodles. Normally it’s only fans of head paranoids Glenn Beck and Alex Jones whipping up the crazy, but this year, crazy went mainstream. Remember Jade Helm in July? Texans sure do; as on January 1st, open-carrying is now legal in the state. Sales of guns have never been higher in the U.S., even though Obama’s almost out the door and he STILL hasn’t come for their guns.

The British election even caught comedian/activist Russell Brand’s attention, and he used his Youtube journal “The Trews,” to let his followers know he’d just realized that choosing not to vote wasn’t quite as clever as he’d previously thought. Throwing his support to Milliband and his MilliFans, however, seemed to sap him of further public politicism, as the Trew News was quietly shut down when David Cameron rode back into power once more. cameron and pig(Cameron didn’t escape scandal this year either, as he sought to defend himself against a book alleging that he’d once stuck his “private part” into a dead pig’s mouth in an initiation stunt.)

 

Before we get weasel on woodpeckerto the Syrian refugee crisis and other heavy stuff, here’s a photo that went viral of a weasel riding a woodpecker, to clear your palette.

In January, the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine based in Paris, were invaded by two armed terrorists, who identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda‘s branch in Yemen. They murdered 11 people, and injured 11 more, before leaving for the Île-de-France region, where a further five were killed and 11 wounded, as the world watched in horror.

“On 11 January, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity, and 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across France. Je Suis CharlieThe phrase Je suis Charlie has become a common slogan of support at the rallies and in social media. The staff of Charlie Hebdo continued with the publication, and the following issue print ran 7.95 million copies in six languages, in contrast to its typical print run of 60,000 in only French.” (Wikipedia.com)

And then we all went about our businesses, and moved on to other matters. Sure, we knew there was unrest in the Middle East, and we’d heard something about Syria and civil war, and wasn’t there something in the press about the British being annoyed by refugees arriving on their beaches and spoiling their summer holidays?

But that was all just part of what we glanced at in the papers or on social media. We psychologically portioned off what wasn’t affecting us personally as something bad happening somewhere else. Over there, not over here. To them, not to us.

Until that photo in September.dead syrian boy on beach The Independent

The images of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore on a Turkish beach, tore the hearts out of people everywhere. Suddenly the Syrian refugee crisis had become real, which could only have come as a shock to those who had been suffering and dying for the last three years.

More than a million refugees and migrants crossed into Europe in 2015. Many thousands didn’t survive the journey. Some fled barren lands, others, like the Syrians, were caught in a crossfire between a bloodthirsty death cult and an amoral military regime.

They came from Syria, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Albania, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Serbia and the Ukraine. They arrived virtually penniless, often with just the clothes on their back. The lucky ones have family in Europe, or America or Canada, and hope to receive asylum. Many will go through a formal refugee/asylum seeking quarantine, which can last three or more years, in makeshift camps.syria_refugees_snow_01a

And if they do make it through the process, and somehow get to be accepted into a new country, there is no guarantee that they’ll be greeted with a welcome. In fact, as Muslims in the ‘civilized’ countries are well aware, fear of ISIS has translated into aggression against all Muslims, and those who may look Muslim. Aren’t we a charming lot? Immigrants ourselves, who claim Christian/Judean traditions, and still so many of us more terrified of the possibility of a terrorist sneaking in with the downtrodden, then of the state of our hearts and souls when we choose to deny those in need of a helping hand.

ISIS/ISIL continues to be synonymous with terror, helped along by periodically released videos of horrifying torture and murder, and fanned by the inflammatory voices of politicians well aware that fear is a wonderful way to capture the attention of voters. No one wants to see a repeat of the November attacks in Paris, where ISIS claimed responsibility for the deaths of 130 people, and the wounding of 368 people, 80–99 of them seriously.

isis airstrikesAnd yet it’s hard to be convinced that governments have the ISIS situation under control, as the current military air strikes – by the United States, France, Russia, the United Kingdom — along with several Arab nations and the Kurds, who are fighting them in northern Iraq and Syria – all seem to be at odds with each other. Many triumphant reports emerge of fighters claiming to have destroyed training centers, camps, and ammunition depots, but the civilian death toll continues to rise, with no end in sight.

To end on a brighter note, December’s climate conference in Paris, attended by far too many dignitaries traveling on far too many gas guzzling jets, would seem to be taking seriously the spectre of global climate change. It’s good to know that being a ‘denier’ of the impact humans have had on the planet is now a mark of self-centered shame rather than a badge of misinformed honour. We’ve closed our eyes to the countries hardest hit by climate change for too long, and are now reaping the rewards in the form of refugees, migrants, animal extinction, and innocents killed in the name of corporate greed and civilian disinterest.

Hope springs eternal in humans; it’s why the race has lasted this long. positivityI have faith in the good people, the people who aren’t internet famous or fabulously wealthy, but who struggle along day by day, living life with dignity and respect for themselves and others. Those who keep positive in the face of the events that challenge us should be applauded for their courage and humour. I strive every day to be more like them.

Happy New Year, frustrated boomers!