Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Original Song #35: Skeleton Key

You're hiding out in the open
There's so much said in deeds unspoken
And I know you, and your inflections
Eyes aflutter, laughing stutter

I was walking
You were talking
And you were holding the key
I was walking
You were talking
And you were holding the key
The skeleton key to me

You told me you want to hold me
You say you've stopped it, you couldn't help it
And you know me, know how to snow me
I say I've got my pride
But I'm thinking about my "pride and joy"

I was walking...

How much can you put me through?
How much do you stand to lose?
How do you expect me to love you?
I can't even look at you
Not now, not now
Not now, not now
Not now, not now
Not now, not now

I was walking...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Original Song #34: Prime Meridian

Where're you gonna' start?
When're you gonna' get up?
How did you get home last night?
Well you can't remember names
You can't remember faces
You can't remember promises you broke

You don't know what you're doing
You don't know where to begin time
Time to find your own line
Your Greenwich

Well it's time to sit up straight
Time to calibrate yourself
To the world around you
You're groping for a line
Someplace to begin
We all have our own Prime Meridian

You washed ashore at Brighton
You got as far as Lewisham
You can't find your own line
Your Greenwich

You're dreaming if you think that'll do
You can't take responsibility

You're sinking without a trace
You've falling out of place
You're losing all your graces

You don't know what you're doing
You don't know where to begin time
Time to find your own line
Your Greenwich

You're dreaming if you think that'll do
You can't take responsibility
And I'm talking to me
You're running out of time
You've got to chart that line
You've got to compromise sometimes
And find your Greenwich Line

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Original Song #33: Keep

Things aren't always as they seem
Lives ripped apart tend to leave
Jagged edges
Better tread carefully
She's not quite the woman
You knew back when
Your naivety made you creative
Don't forget how

I was helpless when I fell out from under your wing
Used to tell you how you seemed to be an angel to me
Now you're thinking what you were thinking was the wrong thing and you know
It's time to think about what you should give
And what you should keep

Life's not meant to be a scream
Lucky if you get to dream
Enjoy it!
I know people who believe
Screwing others keeps the keel even
Looking out for themselves is the only thing
Don't forget how

I was helpless when I fell out from under your wing
Used to tell you how you seemed to be an angel to me
Now you're thinking what you were thinking was the wrong thing and you know
It's time to think about what you should give
And what you should keep


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Original Song #32: Papa Got Hisself a Job

Papa Got Hisself a Job

Come around kids, listen up good
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
I’ll take you to the movies, Christ we’ll go to the moon
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
So scuff them shoes, g’head and lose that toy
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
Don’t matter a whit what you done broke
‘Cause now papa’s got hisself a job

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got hisself a job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

I know we ain’t lived near as sweet as your friends
(Papa’s been “between jobs”)
I know you’ve been dressed in them duds second-hand
(Papa was between jobs)
But I’m gonna work hard, I’ll work for the man
(Papa’s got to keep this job)
I’ll open an account for your educatin’
Sure hope I don’t get laid-off

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got hisself a job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

Kids like you don’t fall from the sky
Kids like you fill your daddy with pride
You’ve gone without but you’ve smiled throughout
You’ll be proud of Daddy too, have no doubt

Remember that day I brought you to my office, son?
(Papa’s old job)
I showed you the view in the morning sun
(Papa had a real sweet job)
When you asked to go back, my face just dropped
(Papa’d lost his sweet, sweet job)
Well now grab your coat, ‘cause I’ll tell you what
Your Papa’s got a new job

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got a brand new job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

- 30 -

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Original Song #31: Elizabeth


listen to the live Randboro demo

Her daddy always told her
If she was good, she'd do no wrong
Now somebody's sold her
On some cheap line from some cheap song

She ain't nobody's fool, she don't like the term "girl"
Everybody's over-protective in her world
She's well aware of what's bad for her, thank you very much
And she's not staying home tonight

She says she's got strong shoulders
But they're only so broad
She's standing on her own two feet
But the ground below them is soft

Trained to think on her own, but still told what to do
Callously stifled following other people's rules
Every double-standard is an inexcusable blight
And she's not coming home tonight

She slipped through the door next morning
A little too quickly to not let on
She's been trying to find the answers all day
Only to find they don't always come

Her name is Elizabeth, she don't like the term "girl"
Everybody's over-protective in her world
She's well aware of what's bad for her, now she's had a taste herself
And she's decided on her own,
"You guys go on, I'm staying home
"I'll catch up later"

- 30 -

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Original Song #30: One Water Fountain

One Water Fountain

Baby it's a hot day on the porch on de Gaspé
I feel your kicking but I think we'll be okay
They don't want to put your daddy "in his place"
They just shout his name when he gets on base

Got some plums at the market
Got some nectarines
Those sweet strawberries from Ile dee-Orleans
The stairs are outside so I leave the fruit out there
And when the kids come down I say, "Bon-jou-were"
I smile and say, "Bon-jou-were"

Well I can't make out what the neighbours are sayin'
But I sure like the sounds of their kids playin'
On the baseball diamonds they pretend to be Robinson
And ain't nobody here trying to have us hung

Got some plums at the market...

I love the funny ways of these frenchie Canucks
Who give me their seat at the front of the bus
White or negro, english or french
They got but one water fountain for all thirsts to quench
Yes, white or negro, english or french
Use the same water fountain for the same thirst to quench

Got some plums at the market...

Baby it's a hot day on the porch on de Gaspé
I feel your kicking and I know we'll be okay

- 30 -

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack Layton: A real gentleman and a citizen politician - 1950 to 2011

I am privileged to have once met and interviewed The Honourable Jack Layton. He was introducing three local candidates at Bar Bobards on boulevard St-Laurent during the 2006 election.

At least two of those candidates, it should be noted, were fervent Québec nationalists whose acceptance speeches left little doubt they were steadfastly looking for a platform to push Québecois separatism.

I should note that I had previously formed a rather withering opinion of Jack's father (the Honourable Robert Layton) when as a cub reporter during the 1988 election, I saw him in action as a Mulroney Progressive Conservative incumbent, getting booed at an all-candidates debate for suggesting Lac St-Louis water would become clean enough to drink if Mulroney was given a second mandate. As it turned out, Robert Layton was easily re-elected by West Island voters who ultimately voted for him as default support for passage of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

Utterly honest
So I was curious to ask son Jack, back in 2006, why he'd spoken so reverently of his father - who had himself succumbed to prostate cancer some four years earlier - on the two occasions I had come out to see him speak as NDP leader. Well, Jack looked me square in the eye and said he had great respect for his father, but that didn't mean they saw eye-to-eye on very much, politically. In fact, he related, that was the one area they were always at loggerheads, notwithstanding having a loving and respectful relationship as father and son.

Can you imagine a more honest, human, and respectful answer? Not I. And I have no idea if my question - which I only posed because I had never heard him asked it before - caused him to rethink his stump speech. But I never again heard him speak of his father's influence when introducing himself as the NDP leader, as if he had determined the astute voter might be as confused as I was, given their almost diametrically opposed politics.

It is in this spirit that I remember and revere the man whom I unfortunately must still blame (partially, at least) for putting Harper in the PM chair, by whipping his party to vote down the Martin government; something historians will doubtlessly argue was or wasn't a seminal moment in the NDP's existential journey as an independent political force.

A mixed legacy on policy
I also recall his insistence on going cap and trade instead of carbon tax when the latter made more sense, and finding his reasoning on that choice rather wanting. I recall with sadness his decision to have his party vote against a 2007 (?) Liberal motion to end the Afghanistan mission in July, 2009, based on the fact they really should be brought home immediately (he was quite right on that point of course), which unfortunately ended up with the misguided mission continuing on much longer. Also, Jack's reticence at allowing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to be included in the 2008 election debates rankled.

Meanwhile, I championed Jack Layton grandly for forcing the 2005 Martin budget to be amended to halt planned corporate tax cuts while increasing social spending in the period where the NDP held the balance of power. I even voted for one of his throw-away candidates while living in the Outremont riding after Paul Martin had parachuted a former Bloc-Québecois founder (Jean Lapierre) in to take Martin Cauchon's place.

And yesterday morning I cried - yet not so much as on last July 25, when we all saw death tapping impatiently on Jack's shoulder - to hear of his passing.

Despite anything else, Jack Layton was a good egg. He tried. He fought. He brandished humour and a forthrightness that was touching and palpable in both official languages. He worked with dedication to his ideals with true and rare conviction. In short, he stood for something, and he made sure that it was a something he could get fully behind. Then he would make a convincing argument that you and I and every other Canadian could get behind it too.

As long as we listened to our hearts.

What next?
Now, a huge gabble of neophyte NDP Québec MPs will have to find their way in the HoC. They also must prove their worthiness to their constituents, despite being stripped of the coattails of the one guy in whom the voters put their full-throttle faith. And that was no small leap of faith either. These voters bravely abandoned their BQ candidates who had mostly done nothing less than tirelessly represent their constituents' interests in Ottawa with pride and passion for several years.

No, the Bloquistes can only blame their party's connection with separatism on their historic defeat to the mostly unknown Dippers that won their constituents' votes based almost solely on Jack Layton's endorsement. Continued NDP support in Québec will be a very tough sell, regardless of Thomas Mulcair's considerable respect in this province.

But that sort of speculation should be explored another day. For today, I am pleased that our Prime Minister has been honourable enough (against type) to bequeath a state funeral for Jack Layton.

Hard to believe as I type his name that he is no longer with us.

Jack, all in all, you did good by us Canadians. Posthumous gratitude in spades. Many, many thanks. RIP, if that is at all possible for you!

- 30 -

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Original Song #29: No Healing

Messing around
Digging up tarpits
And we'll burn it all away

Mining that gold
Exporting asbestos
Trade the future for today

We don't know why
But I've got a feeling
It could be a long time
Before we start the healing

Frack that shale
Strip that mountain
Extract it all away

Drain all brains
With the freshwater
Rape the future for today's gain

And I've got a feeling
It'll be a lifetime
Before we staunch the bleeding

Hiding your crimes
Building more prisons
Disregard the scientists

Mute all truths
Reason is treason
Ruled by ideology

And I know I've
Got a sickening feeling
Could be a long time
And there won't be no healing

Listen to the rough solo demo

- 30 -

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Original Song #28: Phineas Gage

My name is Phineas Gage
New Hampshire boy, born and raised
I drive a stagecoach here in Chile
You might say I've come a long way

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
From Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

The year was 1848
I was blasting Vermont granite
For the Burlington-Rutland railway
When the charge went off in my hand

It blew this iron bar straight through my head
Doctors all said I would soon be dead
But I wanted to get up from my sick bed
...And that's what I did

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

In time I relearned everything
And I got all my memories
A two-inch hole on the top of my head
Now I keep that iron bar firm in my hand

People say I'm a changed man
Cursing, cheating and fighting
But what the docs couldn't understand
Was I was just still recovering

Hacks with axes grind away
Swinging their pet theories
But I was still recovering my empathy

You quacks all misrepresent me
But you don't know me
I'm still recovering my empathy
My name is Phineas Gage

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

Listen to a rough solo recording

- 30 -

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

R.I.P. Canada

R.I.P. Canadian Long-gun registry.
R.I.P. Women's reproductive rights in Canada.
R.I.P. The Canadian Senate.
R.I.P. Same-sex marriage (we barely knew you).
R.I.P. National funding for the arts.
R.I.P. Canada Health Act.
R.I.P. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
R.I.P. The Governor-General of Canada.
R.I.P. Any Canadian action on climate change.
R.I.P. Canadian democracy.
R.I.P. National funding for universities and research.
R.I.P. Any hope of a national daycare program in the next five years.
R.I.P. The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
R.I.P. Any effective political opposition to The Party.
R.I.P. Dissent (what do you think the new jails are for?)
R.I.P. A future for Québec within Canada.

...please feel free to add more in the comments.

We now are ruled by the All-knowing Great Leader, who will not be swayed by any finger-waving from the opposition benches. Stephen Harper is a Christian Fundamentalist, whose views are shaped by his beliefs. He now has carte-blanche.

How far will he go?
Just watch him.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

French Debate Kicked Ass (mostly Harper's)

I hope people were watching, because tonight's French-language leaders' debate was lively, passionate and substantive. After fighting sleep at about the half-way point in yesterday's English-language debate, tonight I found myself riveted.

This is in no small part due to Gilles Duceppe's fiery energy tonight, after being content to sit quietly on the side-lines for much of the previous night. But also, because Ignatieff really came across, and contrasted strongly against Harper, who himself seemed unsure of his French, and off his game generally. I found Harper did not seen strong tonight, which is the worst thing for the guy who is the current PM to convey.

Layton was taken off his game again by Duceppe's jabbing on the Bill 101 question. Harper's only really good moment was when he pointed at the two of them and asked the audience to imagine them working together in a coalition. That's not saying all that much.

Duceppe went whole-hog on his separatist cred tonight, and that is perhaps a sign he may be setting down some touchstones for a potential jump to provincial politics. He may be positioning himself to take the Parti-Québecois mantle from Pauline Marois, who appears weak going into a confidence vote among the party faithful in coming weeks.

Back to Ignatieff. He looked tough, secure and in charge. His French was generally good, and when it wasn't, his obvious passion made up for it. That is key for the Québec population, so good on him. He can ride this into a lead in coming days.

Again, that's if he plays his cards right.

- 30 -

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ignatieff: I hear a statesman

This piece by Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail harangues Michael Ignatieff for his lack of specifics, but I think he sounds pretty reasonable here:
There was no mention of the hydro mega-project in the Liberal platform, released Sunday. But when asked about it Monday, Mr. Ignatieff spoke about involving Quebec – and maybe even Ontario – in a “pan-Canadian approach” to inter-provincial energy sharing.

“It’s not just a matter of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

He argued that a Liberal government would not play off one province against another, suggesting that is what Mr. Harper is doing.

A federal government, he said, needs to “sit down with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province of Quebec. ... Let’s think about this medium and long-term.”

He added: “But for heavens sake if we don’t sit in a room pretty soon we are going to be suboptimal as a country when we could be a superpower.”

The Liberal Leader suggested finding a way to “wheel this power through Quebec” and said that Canadians have to start “thinking big” on energy or risk having highly segmented markets that don’t speak to one another.
Contrast this approach to that of Harper, who has riled Québec premier Jean Charest by supporting federal bucks to develop the means to both harnass and transport reams of viable, renewable electricity to presumed New England markets via the maritime provinces - all to curry favour with the new premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in the hopes of taking a couple of parliamentary seats from that province. Never mind the ill will such a move might provoke in other jurisdictions.

It puzzles me that, despite this regional favouritism, Harper still refuses to cough up the dough his most prominent Québec ministers all but promised a few short months ago, to build a new NHL-ready arena for Québec City, on the grounds it would be unfair to other major cities in other provinces who are in the same situation.

I mean, what's a Québecois voter to think, anyway? Gilles Duceppe will gladly provide the answer. Ignatieff, too, except (poor bastard) he's gotta please somebody in 10 different provinces. Not just one.

Hence the statesmanship of his comments today.

And hence this blogger's newfound respect for the man. He is fighting the good fight, and it's possibly Canada's last best hope for a united future.

Moi, je m'occupe d'lui aider dès ce moment-là.

- 30 -

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why I support the Greens but vote otherwise

I am a big Green supporter and believe they have the best platform. Dagnammit, I joined the party and contribute a few bucks to show that I care. But I also live in Quebec (and on the island of Montreal) and my local candidate both:
a) is a relative lightweight, and
b) has no hope of winning, but might garner enough votes to keep my second choice from winning.

Hopefully most of the other GPC supporters aren't in a similar bind. But I frankly prefer to return Justin Trudeau to his seat than to help get a (yawn) Bloq Québecois elected by uselessly splitting the federalist vote.

There is a bigger picture here. The last few years showed us that keeping Harper to a minority government does not preclude his screwing with everything the majority of Canadians hold dear, including the use of the Senate to thwart the will of the House on partisan grounds. He'll do it again. And again. Right now, we need a Liberal government, imperfect as it may be, to stave off the loss of our country's most cherished shared values.

- 30 -

Smells like '93 Spirit

Well I'll be damned if Michael Ignatieff isn't suddenly hitting his stride. Now I can't say I have ever been a big believer in the man as a potential PM, but today has me thinking back to 1993, when a guy who had been reviled as a weak and ineffective Opposition Leader came to power after realizing what he needed to do.

Yeah, Chrétien. I recall how much we hated Mulroney and how much we hated how seemingly unimpressive the opposition leader was. But it all changed once the campaign got underway.

It smells like 1993 spirit to me now.

The man is confident and he is campaigning without a net, and in fine form dans les deux langues officiels. I think I see a strategy here:

Get a pile of Quebec seats back from the Bloq and therein take on the swagger of the guy who can woo the sexiest girl at the prom; and that impresses people in the rest of the country (particularly, Ontario).

The anti-coalition declaration on Day 1 was a brilliant first move. Harper is so cossetted from media scrutiny on a daily basis (upon his own doing, note), that he cannot deal with the least bit of adversity from them in the even-keel setting of an election campaign. And it shows.

Yeah, it's way too early to call, but give the Ignatieff Liberals full marks for coming out of the gate stronger than expected, and poised to make a game of it.

I think he might even get a majority, if he keeps it up.

- 30 -

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ain't she a beaut? (Fukushima reactor #4, all duckied-up)

That is all they got:
Minoru Ogoda, the official with Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency, said a proposed plan to use helicopters to put more cold water into the pool was looking unlikely.

He said Tokyo Electric would probably try to spray water into the reactor building through a gaping hole in the wall blasted open by an earlier explosion.

The hole or holes in the roof caused by that blast did not appear big enough to allow sufficient amounts of water in, he said.
Well that might be a bit of a problem, wouldn't it?

"Today, only a handful of people know what it really means, and they're scared. Soon you will know: The China Syndrome"

UPDATE: Are you fucking serious??? Per Reuters: (http://live.reuters.com/Event/Japan_earthquake2)

"The Japan nuclear safety agency says TEPCO is attempting to build a road to Fukushima Daiichi No.4 reactor to allow fire trucks into site"

I guess that falls under the heading of: never give up, no matter how hopeless.

- 30 -

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For Your Consideration

I can think of two candidates for the next Nobel Peace prize, and they are the heretofore unnamed Libyan Air Force pilots who - when ordered to indiscriminately fire upon their own citizens - opted instead to fly to Malta and defect:
Ali al-Essawi, who stepped down as Libyan ambassador to India, told Al Jazeera TV the situation was desperate.

"People cannot defend themselves against airplane bombings. We need international intervention," he said.

Two senior Libyan Air Force colonels arrived in nearby Malta aboard two fighter jets. They said they had been ordered to bombard protesters from the air but chose instead to defect.

Libya's justice minister also resigned in protest at the "excessive use of violence" against protesters.
Muammar al-Gaddafi is hopefully at the end of his reign. It is a sickenly horrific way to exit, and one hopes he is not allowed to go peacefully, given these atrocities.

May the people of Libya soon know peace and freedom from this unscrupulous dictator.

- 30 -

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hosni Mubarak, and the world that matters not to him

With time on my hands, I spent the afternoon flipping between Aljazeera English, CNN, CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet in between loads of laundry.

At around 4 pm EST, I watched live footage of a pro-Mubarak bus being driven backwards 50 metres or so into a thick throng of helpless non-violent anti-Mubarak demonstrators, all filmed by the CBC from a hotel balcony a few hundred metres away.

The bus rocked up and down, corner to corner as it rolled over the people. I would guess 20 or 30 casualties from that alone. The Egyptian army is standing down. This is a bloody mess:
6:41pm A former general in the Egyptian intelligence services tells Al Jazeera, "I expect the army will act to remove Mubarak from power ... Mubarak is ready to burn the country".
6:37pm Cairo resident tells Al Jazeera that he witnessed police officers trying to bribe porters and security guards in his apartment building. They we...re asked to go and beat up anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square.
Lisa Laflamme sounded scared. A Radio-Canada cameraman got pummelled by the pro-Mubarak thugs. Anderson Cooper and his CNN team, plus Aljazeera English reporters beaten and forced to report from afar. And yet, I was able to tune it out for a couple of hours and get excited at the Habs beating the Panthers. Life in the 21st Century.

- 30 -