"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Saturday, July 11, 2009
This would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that a significant portion of the American (and probably Canadian as well) electorate believe this sort of paranoid bullshit.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Oh those witty conservatives, with their clever slogans on t-shirts - what a zany bunch!
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Have they changed the national motto to "You can never come home again" or something? I'm starting to wonder whether they will let me back in when I do decide to move home. I guess returning expatriates like Michael Ignatieff really have Stephen Harper spooked or something.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
You don't see a lot of obituaries that start like this:
"Well, the aptly named Robert Strange McNamara has finally shuffled off to join LBJ and Dick Nixon in the 7th level of Hell."
-Joesph Galloway, Vietnam War correspondent, author of "We Were Soldiers Once And Young"
Monday, July 06, 2009
I'm a little behind in my podcast listening, so it was only this morning on the way to work that I heard the wonderful Canada Day edition of CBC Radio's "As It Happens" and their feature interview with Jowi Taylor.
When Quebec was about to hold its last referendum, a whole lot of us across the country got on buses and went to Montreal for a big outpouring of "Baby-Please-Don't-Go-ism" and I guess, to some degree, it worked since Quebec is still part of the country and all. But the demonstration and the way the whole referrendum was portrayed in the press as a blue vs red, English vs French, Quebec vs Ottawa issue sort of irked Taylor and he got to thinking about the rich history of Canada and the whole cultural mosiac that makes Canada what it is. And then he got an idea. An incredible idea.
The nation as musical instrument.
It took him about a dozen years, but with the help of luthier George Rizanyi, Taylor got the thing built and it made its debut at the Canada Day concert on Parliament Hill in 2006 in the extremely able hands of Stephen Fearing.
There is metaphor and symbolism and just plain mojo in everything I guess. Everything we touch comes from somewhere and has been part of some other life. There is the Muddywood guitar and back in the early 90s I remember a lot of art that featured bits of the Berlin Wall, but this is like something out of a fantasy novel or a fairy tale. The guitar is built from bits and pieces of wood, bone and metal that come from across Canada: A scrap from Rocket Richard's Stanley Cup ring, a bit of a sideboard that held the booze in Sir John A. MacDonald's office, a slab of the sacred Haida Gwaii Golden Spruce, part of Paul Henderson's hockey stick from The Goal, a chunk of Pierre Trudeau's canoe paddle, a bit of mammoth ivory from the NWT- the case even incorporates a piece of Don Cherry's pants and Karen Kain's tutu.
And its been played by anyone and everyone - Stompin' Tom has played it in his home, Gordon Lightfoot played it on his 70th birthday, and Taylor has been touring the country letting the whole population get its strum on.
You'll be seeing stuff about the guitar in all the papers this week as Taylor has just published a book about its creation. My question is this: What song would you play on it and why?
Talk about taking the piss. I don't think this plan is going to hold water if it is ever challenged on constitutional grounds (not that it ever would be in Japan) but it is certainly going to piss a lot of foreigners off. Apparently, over the last month or two, Tokyo police have taken to stopping people (almost exclusively foreigners) leaving bars in Roppongi and Shibuya, loading them in police vans and taking them down to the police station to provide urine samples for random drug tests.
This follows on the heels of a (admittedly anecdotal but no statistics on these kinds of things are ever likely to be released by the Japanese police) wave of stop-and-search harrassment of foreigners by Tokyo police recently.
Police in Japan have no authority to search a person's belongings without sufficient cause. So, what they naturally do is stop you for walking while being not-Japanese and ask for permission to search your bag and pockets. Refusing to give permission is considered "suspicious behaviour" and thus gives the cops "sufficient cause."
Thankfully, I haven't gone drinking in Roppongi or Shibuya for years.