Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tom Waits - Christmas card from... (live)

New News Blogs

Thanks to another comment, we have added a new link to the blog known as "Downtown Eastside Enquirer."

You've got to love a blog that calls Sam Sullivan, Vancouver's "do nothing mayor."

You can find this link on the right hand side of the page scrolling down...or click here.

Also, please note that we have added "NowPublic.com," yet another alternative news source near the top of the page on the right hand side.

Please use and enjoy these 2 new resources.

Great Comment on the DTES

This comment was sent in this evening in response to Elizabeth James' posting and my post, "The Povertarians."

It was so good I felt it deserved a posting of its own:

William Simpson's story with the Carnegie is, sorry to say, not a rare example, they often bar people without due process of any sort. My favorite example is the head of security says "You're barred" the barred man says "what for?"Security explains: " Never mind that! Just get out!"

Power corrupts, and absolute power over an abject population tends to corrupt absolutely. When there is no accountability, no way for the common member to resolve his grievance, let alone get the grievance on a staff person's file, things get out of balance.

There is a "Incident Report Book" at Carnegie in which members can be written up by security. This can be done with out a person's knowledge. Incidents in this book will be automatically entered into the computer and will stay there for three years. All without them even knowing about it! How much sense does that make?

If you want someone to stop doing something, wouldn't you go ahead and tell them when they've crossed the line? Secret write-ups are so iron curtain, how in the world do they help to resolve anything? They are only good for building a case for a punitive strike.And then what happens when a member tries to get something on record and resolve a staff person's behavior? There's no way to get it on paper at all, and in fact, complaints could be dismissed out of hand because it turns out you're cpmplaining to the boss about his girlfriend! But how were you to know, unless you've read the DTESenquirer blog?

I'd like to see more people from outside the DTES write to Judy Bader, she's the boss of Jaquie Forbes Roberts, the woman from the City of Vancouver who wrote the letter that barred William Simpson.

I say from outside because so many inside live in 10x10 rooms without computers, and on the streets and such. The City knows exactly who they are picking on, and they know exactly how little resources they have to protect themselves against egregious abuses of power, like the barring of William Simpson.

At the Movies

Rented 3 movies 3 the other day:


It's often difficult to film a good book. The best movies usually come from not particularly great books. I don't know how many people go out of their way to read "Gone With the Wind." "Casablanca" was being scripted as it was being written, up to the last day.

Any book by Philip Roth is going to be worth reading; he's one of the great American writers. And his books are rich in thought and interior monologue, so simply recording the story line on film isn't always going to be satisfactory.

And in this case, we have Gary Sinise playing Roth's famous alter ego, Nathan Zukerman - an odd piece of casting - and muttering homilies off screen as a narrator.

Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris are always watchable.

The story itself is rich and fascinating as it deals with the Great American Issue - Race - and love and betrayal.

Not great...but damn good.


After the murder of Israeli athletes at the '72 Olympic Games in Munich, Golda Meir ordered the assassination of the murderers by a very covert cell of Mossad operatives.

Spielberg has made a roller coaster of a film. We follow this band of killers from Rome to Paris, Athens, Lebanon, London and Amsterdam, half cheering them on, half horrified at their efforts.

The film is peculiarly well-balanced in its "sympathies." It neither applauds nor condemns these men, who are in any event condemned to lives of torment and uncertain futures by their own acts.

It is fascinating to see Daniel Craig playing a Jewish South African assassin, only a year before he emerged as James Bond.

Geoffrey Rush is wonderful as the Mossad control agent.

Eric Bana is an odd duck and not my favorite actor, but he does a fine job here as Avner, the central character, who is on screen throughout.

The movie was nominated for dozens of awards, including Best Picture and Best Director honors at the Academy Awards, losing the first to "Crash," and the second to Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountian."

Helluva good movie.


The first of 2 movies that Clint Eastwood made (simultaneously) about the battle for Iwo Jima during WWII. The second film is "Letters from Iwo Jima," showing the point of view of the Japanese. Both films were nominated and won many honors.

Eastwood is a first-rate consummate film maker, one of the best ever. And this is a powerful and sad and thoughtful movie.

Of course, there are many battle scenes and they are terrifying and bloody and "realistic." We are not presented with gushing spurting blood-for-the-sake-of-blood, but frightening moments that simulate the moment to moment little horrors of war.

The bayoneting of Japanese soldiers is not offered as triumph, but as awful necessity. We realize that these are not the hated enemy as they die, but men.

The full story here, however, is about the aftermath, the lingering of the PR campaign that followed the famous photograph of the men raising the flag on the hill.

And that story belongs largely to Ira Hayes, the Native American, who felt so deeply that he didn't deserve this label of "hero." Hayes is played by the Manitoba Ojibwa actor, Adam Beach, who already has quite a resume, including a dozen episodes of "Law and Order:SVU" this season.

Somewhere in the back of my ancient head, I know that the Ira Hayes story was told before in the movies, but I can't seem to find it this morning.

The battle scenes do go on, but this is a fine movie and it stays with you after you've taken the disc out of the player.

From a Magazine Piece Two years Ago


“Don’t ask me just how it happened, I wish I knew.
I can’t believe that it happened, and still it’s true…”

Irving Berlin wrote the words and music. Rogers and Hammerstein were producing “Annie Get Your Gun” on Broadway as a vehicle for Ethel Merman. When the movie was made, Howard Keel got the role of Frank Butler, but MGM felt Judy Garland couldn’t cut the mustard, so they threw Betty Hutton into the buckskin.

The song is called “I got lost in Her Arms,” and the crowd at Sam Yehia’s old Plazazz Room in the former Plaza Hotel at the foot of Capilano Road in North Vancouver was not particularly attentive. Couples argued about the daily banalities they thought they had left behind them. The regulars had already seen Ella and Dizzy, so it was going to take a lot to impress them. It was 1983 and the housing market was still in a deep hole.

Tony Bennett had come a long way from “I know I’d Go From Rags to Riches.” But the Beatles, the Stones, and Bob Dylan had just about rung the death knoll for crooners and the interpreters of the Great American Songbook.

It would be another few years before Tony’s son, Danny said, “Dad, I want you to make a video for this MTV thing.”

Of course, Tony thought that was nuts. Of course, it rocketed his fortunes to the moon. The Much crowd saw this totally cool old guy dancing around and they ate him up. His fee multiplied tenfold over the next few years.

But, on this night, in North Vancouver in 1983, Tony Bennett was ignoring it all and doing his thing. When he got to the song’s most important line, Tony did that signature gesture of his. Instead of singing it, Tony declaimed, like he was Marc Antony rousing the rabble at the forum, “I got lost…but look what I found!” And he clapped his right hand across his heart just to nail the point.

Now I was sitting in the second row. When Tony hit this moment, I burst into tears. O.K. I’m a geek. I freely confess it.

The next day we’re up in Tony’s suite, the two-story Ginger Rogers Suite with the winding staircase that Miss Rogers had danced down only a few months earlier. The Great Acts are always gracious. Tony is tripping out on my Sony tape recorder. He’s doing a monologue first on the elegant design of this machine, then, on the particular light in the Vancouver sky that makes this region of the world so paintable.

I tell him how deeply moved I was by his work the night before. Of course, he’s grateful and kind. Then I tell him that I have a theory about why some people just won’t sit still and listen. “You’re so immediate. There’s an emotional impact that you send out that is so direct. I think for many people it’s just too much, too real.”

“You know only one other person ever told me that before, and that was Mable Mercer.”

The next day there’s a message on my home answering machine.

“Hey, David. It’s Tony Bennett. I’m at the hotel. So many people have told me that they heard the interview and they loved it. I’d really like to play tennis. So if you’d like to play tennis, give me a call. This is Tony Bennett. I’m at the hotel.”

We go to a bubble in North Vancouver and we hit some singles for a while. I get him laughing right away. I call him to the net after a few minutes. “You know, Tony, I think you’ll settle down and hit some better balls once you get over the fact that Dave Berner’s on the other side of the net.”

Later, we hit some doubles and then he holds court in the lounge, entertaining a whole gang of us with stories about having dinners with a few down-home folk like George Burns and Rosemary Clooney.

Now, back in June of this year, Tony Bennett opened the Vancouver International Jazz Festival with an extraordinary evening at the Orpheum. The man is a day or two shy of his eightieth birthday. I warned my friend that we might not hear the best he can give. He might cheat on some of the notes; he might not have the pipes. Ha!

After a wonderful, inventive opening set with Brad Turner on piano, Darren Radtke on bass and Bernie Arai on drums, Tony stepped out in a dark blue suit and gold tie. He picked the mike off the piano and killed for more than an hour and a half. He hit every note and then some. He built stories and emotions and crescendos. We howled and screamed. We wouldn’t let the guy go, and when, after four or five encores, he finally disappeared in the wings, we were still on our feet begging for more. The great saloon singer, knocking them dead in a refurbished opera house, and, on two occasions, without a mike. Just stand on the stage and hit the back wall with the stuff The Great Arranger gave you.

My friend, Geoff, on Salt Spring Island is 78 and when he doesn’t answer the phone on the first ring, it’s because he’s up on his roof fiddling with his water reclamation system. Dal Richards is about 270 and he’s booked with gigs into the next century. Jimmy Pattison is getting up there and he only works 26 hours a day, nine days a week.
And you’re thinking about retirement?

Ella sings

Ella and Oscar - There's 3 little words that spell m-u-s-i-c

More Oscar

A few more things about Oscar.

Read Gene Lees bio, "The Will to Swing," and see if you can find the great CBC 2 hour documentary, "In the Key of Oscar." I taped it and still have the VHS.

And get "The Canadiana Suite" on CD. It's gorgeous.

The updated obit from today's NY Times is here.

Oscar Peterson - You Look Good To Me

And again...

How beautiful, how exquisite is this?