A Rabbit and A Cautionary Tale


by Roxanne Tellier

Before we start pondering this wild new terrain they’re calling 2020, I need to know …

Why is Carnival Cruises using Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit as their new theme song? Is “Feed Your Head” a wink and a nod to the endless buffets? Or have they gone full hedonist and now include hallucinogens and your drugs of choice in the all inclusive, nonstop, eat til you burst smorgasbord? And that bartender mixing a cocktail – is he slipping something interesting into the pineapple and cherry garnished goodness of that woman’s rum punch? I don’t know if the song is meant to encourage a druggy intemperance, or if it’s meant to trigger the old hippie who, upon hearing the song, says to the spouse, ‘damn, the last time we dropped acid, this song was hot. How’s about we find us some electric Kool-Aid and blow the kids’ inheritance on crack and a Carnival Cruise?!”

Inquiring minds want to know.

Why is it that, no matter how many times Susan Collins pretends she’s thinking of going against the GOP to actually be bipartisan, we all believe that this time… THIS TIME … she’ll actually come through? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

And why is it that the right to free speech ends when you yell ‘Fire!’ in a public place, potentially harming other citizens, but your right to ‘bear arms’ doesn’t end when you use those arms against other citizens?

Inquiring minds want to know.

This year has really started off with a lot of bang bang. You have to wonder about scale, about where you go from here, when, just three days into the new year, you’ve already assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, apparently on a whim, on a wish to distract trump’s reality show viewers from the machinations of the Impeachment trial, and on the whispered prayers of some of your party’s most fanatically religious hawks

If you’re a reader of apocalypta, a student of history, and a political junkie, it’s not all that hard to see that the speed bumps visible on the road ahead are landmines, and that it’s time to watch where you’re placing your feet and your future.

Certainly, 40% of currently serving Republicans would agree; they’ve opted to retire from politics, rather than to stand up to the Mean Boy who wants to rule the world.

Trump’s cruelty is sadistic, the viciousness of a twelve-year-old boy torturing creatures smaller than himself, just because he can. He started his ‘reign of terror’ just one week after his inauguration by implementing a cruel Muslim Ban that affected tens of thousands of travelers.

Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, politically labeled as a Muslim ban by detractors or a travel ban by supporters, was an executive order by United States president Donald Trump. Except for the extent to which it was blocked by various courts, it was in effect from January 27, 2017, until March 16, 2017, when it was superseded by Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13769 lowered the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017 to 50,000, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, suspended the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, directed some cabinet secretaries to suspend entry of those whose countries do not meet adjudication standards under U.S. immigration law for 90 days, and included exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lists these countries as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. More than 700 travelers were detained, and up to 60,000 visas were “provisionally revoked”.”

Remember that? And how scary it was, and how pretty much everyone thought that this was way worse than what most people had envisioned, even under a maniac like Trump?  Feels normal, almost business like usual now, doesn’t it? 

achtung, baby ….

After all, the outrageous acts that followed, mainly scripted by Trump’s trained Nazi, Stephen Miller, just kept getting more sadistic and insane as the years passed, didn’t they? Once you’ve started rounding up immigrants and refugees, and children are dying in freezing camps under unsanitary conditions, while your air and water are daily treated as commodities to be sold but not enjoyed by the nation, it’s a little hard to believe that the GOP once tried to start a Civil War because the last president wore a tan suit and didn’t put down his coffee cup to salute a soldier.

More than three years into this abomination immigrants, minorities, the DACA kids, journalists, and anyone who has dared to speak up against Trump have learned the hard way that he is utterly merciless, and terrifyingly vengeful.

“When it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched. However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that humans had not already done somewhere at some time.”

When Kathy Griffin took the publicity photos that wound up derailing her life, upending her career, and costing her hundreds of thousands of dollars, she only meant to comment on Trump’s own nastiness in painting prominent women as ‘bleeding from their eyes, their whatever.”  Little did she know she was about to become the test case for how Trump could effectively and efficiently decimate his enemies.

This is what America has become: a place where in the wake of a single misstep, a single misspoken word, a career can be canceled. It’s now a place where the president of the United States can happily use the full power of his office to destroy an American citizen. Griffin’s booked gigs were all summarily cancelled, she was put on the no-fly list for two months, and remains on the Interpol border check list. Her lawyers confirmed that she was investigated by the Secret Service and the Justice Department. They considered charging her with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States, the sentence for which is life in prison.

Exhibit A: Halloween Mask and Ketchup

All for the crime of taking a photograph of herself with a mask drenched in ketchup. Which, I may add, she was assured over and over was a perfectly legal act.

Do yourself a favour – take the phrase, “only those that have something to hide, hide something” out of your lexicon. It can and WILL be used against you.

In a recent column, musicologist Bob Lefsetz noted,

“As a Jew you grow up learning about the Holocaust, and you wonder, would you leave? Looks all rosy from the other side, especially if you know history, but are you willing to give up everything, your house, your friends, your money, in order to try and preserve your life? And the emphasis here is on “try.” It’s like a human version of “Let’s Make A Deal.” And I’m asking you, do you feel lucky? I don’t.

Kind of how I used to talk to Republicans. I always tried to see their side, keep it calm, but the funny thing is they never tried to see my side. Oh, they thought they knew it and it was incorrect, so they had no time for it. But in the age of Trump, I don’t suffer them anymore.”

Consider what Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has gone through in the last year, both in the Ukraine, where she was serving, and in the last few months since she testified at the impeachment enquiries. The tales that she told of feeling ‘unsafe’ and of being whisked away in the middle of the night after her manager heard of threats against her seemed unreal, and possibly exaggerated. Since the inquiry, she’s received death threats for telling her truth. 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

And yet, recent information proves that she was very much in harm’s way, and completely unprotected – indeed, instead, targeted – by emissaries from her own country.

“All the president had to do was say he didn’t want me in the job, and I would have been gone.”

So why was Yovanovitch tormented, and threatened rather than just fired? And why did she ‘have to be’ removed? Sheer sadistic cruelty.

Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart in July 2019 that she was “going to go through some things,” according to a rough White House transcript of the presidents’ conversation — a message Yovanovitch said she found threatening.”

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/16/politics/ukraine-investigation-marie-yovanovitch-surveillance/index.html

One of the little bits of news that flashed by last year without really being noticed was something so petty, and yet so vile, that it was hard to believe it could possibly be true. And yet, there it was.

“Trump’s administration and the Social Security Administration have been working closely together to cut down on the number of false disability insurance claims they believe are being filed. And the Trump administration’s newly proposed plan apparently involves studying the social media accounts of disabled people to make sure they don’t look active.  

Disabilities don’t all manifest the same way and definitely can’t be judged based on pictures posted to social media, a space where people tend to post images reflecting an idealized version of themselves and their lives. It’s cruel–not to mention inevitably ineffective–to essentially tell them they’re being watched to make sure they don’t appear too active, or possibly even too happy.”  (New York Times, April 2019)

Forget about checks and balances – the mad king is hellbent on destroying every last bit of happiness, health, and positivity in America. Just because he can. And keep in mind, we never know who’ll be next to be punished by this monster who demands total respect and loyalty from others, while he is incapable of returning the favour.

I wish I could be more positive about this coming year; I truly do. But I can’t, because history, and a strong sense of self-preservation, tell me that it’s not just Americans that will need to stay on their toes to survive until November 2020, and the election that may or may not succeed in removing this gross abuser of massive power.

Iran could tell you – it is the world that must be on alert.

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I don’t know Larry Cruse, but this post was brought to my attention a day or two ago, and needs to be read, far and wide.


“When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I absolutely believe him. You can show me video after video, picture after picture, of the two of them together. You can show me articles like this, showing that Trump sent envoys to ask Parnas for his help. You could show me witness after witness who swears that the two of them were friends. It would not matter. 

When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I believe absolutely that he does not know him.

Donald Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. His entire circle of friends and confidants consists of exactly one person, himself. He has no affection, no loyalty, no sense of obligation, no sense of friendship, no empathy, no respect, no admiration, no deference, no consideration, for anyone but himself.

Have you not been listening to anything he has ever said!?!?

This is a man who turns in seconds on people who have stood loyally by his side for decades. A man who changes wives like most people change Kleenex. A man who is so distant from his children that he cannot tell the difference between a daughter and a lover, because, frankly, neither a daughter nor a lover would mean anything to him. A man who has never in his life had any interaction with anyone that he did not regard as transactional, and limited to exactly the duration of the transaction. The idea that he would “know” any of the people with whom he has had such relationships is at best absurdly naive

The fact that he does not know Lev Parnas is obvious.

We joke that Trump is all about Trump. We joke at his class-clownish desire to be the center of attention in all things. But, in expecting him to own up to “knowing” Lev Parnas, we demonstrate our own horrifying inability to understand what that means.

Because a man who cannot feel loyalty to a spouse or a child most certainly cannot feel loyalty to a country. A man who has no friends cannot understand the basis for alliance between countries. A man who has no empathy cannot take care of the needs of our citizens. A man who measures every fact in terms of what is in it for himself at that specific moment, cannot serve the needs of anyone else.

A man who very clearly does not know the man who he tasked with destroying other lives lacks any of the emotional makeup that would normally be required of a president. He is, as his critics have said all along, “temperamentally unfit to be president.”

The reign of Donald Trump is not the term of a president. It is a deal, in which he gets to put taxpayer money into his pocket and his base gets a ruler with the power to put immigrants, people of color, and women, back into the subordinate role ordained for them by the Republican god. 

Donald Trump will take everything he can from the deal, and when it is over, or when he gets a better deal, the man who does not know his own children, the man who does not know Michael Cohen, the man who does not know Michael Flynn, the man who does not know Lev Parnas, will not know America either. He will not know his base. He will not know the people who elected him.

The transaction will be over. And the man who does not know, anyone, will have moved on.”

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

Mother’s Day, CMW and This is America


mum with r and j 1960.jpg 001My mother has been gone since April of 1992 … 26 years now. There are days when it feels like we were playing a spirited game of Rummoli only yesterday, and other days when I can’t remember what it was like to have my own little family. After my mum and grandmother died just days apart in that horrible year, the tenuous link we had with Montreal was broken. While I’ve been ‘home’ a few times since then, Quebec hasn’t really drawn me back for decades.

I thought of my mum on Thursday, when I spoke with a small boy who was waiting for the bus, holding a plant pot with one pansy growing in it. He told me, with great joy, that he also had a poem written in French for her, and that he’d drawn her a card. His face lit up as he told me “she’s gonna have so many presents!

mum with r and j 1964 001There was such a lot of delight in his expression as he counted up the riches he’d prepared for his precious mother. We forget, over the years, how good it used to feel to be able to gift our loved ones with something that we’d made specially for them. It might have been a paper plate with some glittered macaroni pasted to it, or a wobbly cut out paper heart, with our shaky handwriting telling them, “I LOVE YOU,” but it was what we had to give, and we gave it from our hearts.

Mums never ask for all that much, when you’re growing up. Maybe they ask you to help with the chores, or keep your room clean, but most mums know that you’re growing and learning, and that all they can try to do is to get you from the day you are born until the day you two say goodbye, with as little heart ache and heart break as possible.

Missing my mother, and wishing my two beautiful daughters a very happy Mother’s Day.

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My butt is dragging today, even after collapsing into a solid ten hours of sleep last night. I spent the last several days doing all things Canadian Music Week, including working as a ‘day host,’ expediting the conference panelists, and getting out to a few of the events under the CMW banner. I straggled home last night from a long day at the show, followed by a scrumptious buffet at the Rivoli, where Music Nova Scotia and the Dreaming Out Loud groups were presenting the annual TIKI LOUNGE extravaganza.

CMW Greg Lefsetz et all May 2018

During the conference I spent most of my time onsite in the Speaker’s Green Room. In this pic, our long time associate Greg Simpson confers with his speaker registration aides, Sue Mills and Cassandra Tari. Behind them, propping up the wall, is Steve Lillywhite, uber producer and musician whisperer of U2, the Rolling Stones, XTC, Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads and a host of other worthies, as he chats with Ralph Simon, who is is acknowledged as one of the founders of the modern mobile entertainment & content industry, and Bob Lefsetz, music industry analyst and critic, and author of the Lefsetz Letter.

In May of 2015, the last time that Bob Lefsetz had spoken at CMW, I had asked him if we could meet, so that I might interview him for this column. Although he agreed at the time, circumstances conspired, and I missed my window of opportunity.

So when I saw him seated towards the back of the Green Room on Saturday morning, I seized the day, introduced myself, and reminded him of the last time we’d almost connected. He immediately said that he’d be happy to talk with me ‘later’ – but he’d be leaving the Conference around four p.m.

So I waited patiently, hoping for a time when he might have a minute free. But shortly after Steve Lillywhite left the room, Eric Alper flew in the door and plonked himself down for a chat. Meanwhile, my duties as Day Host kept me rather busy, and I spent a lot of time getting speakers organized and then off to their panels in a timely manner. By the time I realized I’d once again missed my interview, it was about 3:10 p.m. I’d just finished introducing legendary music journalist Larry Leblanc, who was about to begin an interview with Marcie Allen, a trailblazing entrepreneur who is known as the Queen of Brands and Bands. My duty done, I set off to try and find the elusive Mr Lefsetz.

About an hour later, I conceded defeat. Apparently, this interview was not to be.

PostScript: If you are one of the many who receive the Lefsetz Letter, then you will have received his CMW wrap-up when it arrived last night. In his p.s., he mentions that he’d spend his last half-hour on the site at …. the Larry LeBlanc/Marcie Allen seminar I’d introduced.

Wrong Way Roxanne strikes again.

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We have to talk about Donald Glover/Childish Gambino‘s new video – This is America. Firmly in the tradition of protest songs such as GrandMaster Flash‘s White Lines, the song/video demands multiple, critical, and admiring viewings.

This video is almost enough to make music videos relevant again, rife with symbolism and casual observations that nail the truth of the racist gun culture that America, as distracted as a kitten by shiny strings and dance fads, chooses to ignore.

jim crow character this is americaThe main character, stripped to the waist, pulls facial expressions and uses bodily movements that seem to be modeled on Jim Crow, a minstrel show caricature, which white actors would perform in blackface, acting out black stereotypes. His movements distract from the chaos that plays out in the background, as behind him, people on cellphones film the action while ignoring the violence and rioting going on all around.

(The Jim Crow Laws were put into place after the Civil War, and were a system of racist local and state laws to keep the ex-slaves in their place, and designed to enforce segregation and oppression in the Southern American states.) this is america imageAfter both of the shootings, the guns are treated with care and respect, and gently wrapped with red cloth. The guns are valued over human lives, as the victims are either dragged away or left lying in their own blood.

Between shootings, the exaggerated dancing seems to be a commentary on how America prefers to focus on entertainment and distraction rather than to have a discussion on gun control, while dismissing the dead with an airy assurance that they are sending “thoughts and prayers.”

this is america commentIn the background of one scene, Death, riding a pale horse, and a biblical symbol for the apocalypse, gallops by, pursued by a police car. Everyone is too caught up in dancing or in their own anarchy to focus on the bigger picture of the violence going on.

In the last scene, Gambino, surrounded by vintage cars representing America’s economic stagnation, lights up a joint, and it is then – rather than during his gun rampage  – that the police begin to chase him. In the tradition of black American history, he has to run to save his life.

This Is America is a strong, artistic statement that will stand as valid commentary on today’s Divided States of America.