Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
By A. G. Tsakumis
'Rebel With A Clause'
I spent part of the Easter weekend reviewing recent news stories that peaked my interest. I typically go through eight papers per day, dutifully clipping items of intrigue—usually ones I find compelling or enjoyable. Then again, I always find something that contributes to my decades-long battle with acid-reflux.
My summation is that we are becoming progressively detached from reality and common sense. If an alien landed on our not-as-green orb tomorrow, a perusal of the papers would provide him or her (it?) with a veritable cornucopia of rank insanity.
To the south, in the Excited States of Amnesia, you’d think that if you were a Governor/Lt. Governor/Mayor, the prerequisite to such lofty swivels is to have engaged in enough cocaine usage and extra-marital rompfesting to make a Vegas hooker blush. The revelations of stupefying hypocrisy by the Lt. Governor of New York, his predecessor, the Mayor of Detroit and the previous Governor of New Jersey (and his wife and limo driver!) were astounding, if not treacherously hysterical. Drugs, threesomes gone wrong (how the hell does that happen?), and assistants as hookers: All that’s missing is the porno twang soundtrack as background to this chaos on the couch. Through it all, not a word about healthcare, pension plans, taxes or schools.
God bless America, indeed.
Even Pierre Elliot Obama and Hickory ‘Pinocchio’ Clinton can’t get it together. He’s explaining how his preacher and life-long friend thinks that AIDS was created by the “white” U.S. government to “hold down the n---gers”, and she repeatedly recalls being shot at in Bosnia, a decade or so ago, by sniper-fire no less, that after a thorough review of video footage appears to be a figment of her forever enhanced imagination (yes, I’m being kind).
Makes you wonder how the Bosnian insurgents had such bad aim, even in her own dreams.
Hillary as President? Bill back in the ‘hood? They’d have to refit the revolving door to the Lincoln bedroom and reinstall condom machines in the White House bathrooms.
Meanwhile, in Tibet, the barbaric Chinese government continues to savagely pummel the gallant freedom fighters. A boycott of the Beijing Games? Absolutely. It’s high time the Chinese govt were made to pay for their disgraceful oppression of Tibetans. But wait, VANOC’s John Not-For-Long believes a boycott would serve “..no purpose other than to penalize athletes who serve as the best role models…” Ever heard of Marion Jones or Ben Johnson, Johnny? Help wipe doping from sports and then you can make that claim. Fools.
Speaking of fools, back here at home, what the devil has happened to the teaching profession? The same BCTF that agreed to standardized testing, now wants it banished because the justified criticisms of their profession, often graduating functional illiterates, is intolerable. Could it be that the most militant, backward union in this Province is more concerned about what standardized tests reveal about teachers? Expediency instead of education. Lovely.
And, never to be off our radar, the Vancouver Mayoral race plods along: Al DivaNova just can’t shake the Vaudeville act, Raymond thinks the (already divided) Asian vote will be enough; Gregor’s back in the Legislature; Sir Shamalot, with no promise left behind, is now the friend of churches too, since his campaign caravan continues to lose traction en route to his Waterloo. And…Peter the Great (who may win the nomination in spite of himself), always fishing in traditional NPA territory, reportedly went to a local gay leather-bar looking to sign members..
I can just see it now…Capt. Vancouver’s statue in crotchless, leather pants and a feather boa.
I think during Passover, I’ll just rent a bunch of movies.
Posted by David Berner at 8:10 PM
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Me Generation rules.
The front, passenger-side window was lowered.
Anyone could open the door.
The "mother" came out of the store. She was 35ish, attractive, beautifully dressed in casual sports clothes . . . Mrs. Nike Reebok Lululemon.
"Excuse me, ma'am, do you think that leaving your child unattended in a car is really a good idea?"
She smiled benignly at me. Clearly I am a lunatic.
"I was about to call the police," I said.
She smiled again, even more warmly.
"Well, you do what you think you have to do."
She was so kind to me in my distress. She got into her Beemer and put it in reverse.
"Perhaps you could think about this today," I said.
She smiled and drove off.
This woman was happy, truly happy. Nothing I could have said or done would have upset her perfectly coiffed equilibrium.
I went across the street into a fruit-and-vegetable store, bought some broccoli and tomatoes, paid for them and turned to leave, forgetting the vegetables.
I thought of that British couple who had their four-year-old kidnapped last May. The McCanns were vacationing in Portugal and they left Madeleine and her two-year-old twin siblings alone in a rented condo while they went out for dinner.
Later, I was in a shop on West 4th Avenue. I paid for my purchase and asked the two young saleswomen their assessment of Mrs. Nike Reebok Lululemon.
They freaked. They would never leave their child alone in a car for one second. No running in just for a minute.
Someone asked why I didn't call 911.
Well, last year, much the same thing happened on West 10th Avenue. An infant was alone in a van, with the sliding door open and no sign anywhere of a parent. And I did immediately call the police.
Before the police arrived, the "mother" emerged from a tanning spa with a fashion mag in her hands.
I asked her if this was her car and child. She said they were. I told her the police were on their way. She thought I was a public nuisance. She laughed at me.
When the police arrived, one officer stood by me. The other stood with the mother and the two of them, the mother and the police officer, laughed a lot.
I asked them what was so impossibly funny.
Apparently, there is something inherently hilarious about irresponsible, senseless parents who are born to shop and tan and dine out . . . and the crazy old folk who accuse them of reckless child abandonment.
Watch for the new ABC reality show, based on this growing trend, called Lose Your Kid, Find a Grumpy Old Man.
The early returns from the focus groups say it's a smash hit.
© The Vancouver Province 2008
Posted by David Berner at 10:24 AM
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Posted by David Berner at 10:05 AM
Meanwhile, back at Bette Davis, hands down the greatest film actress and star of all time (10 Oscar nominations)...try this excellent NY Times piece by Terrence Rafferty in this morning's on-line edition. Then go to Videomatica and rent one of the greatest movies of all time, "All About Eve," and watch star power at its hottest.
Posted by David Berner at 9:47 AM
Posted by David Berner at 9:22 AM
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Posted by David Berner at 5:40 PM
Posted by David Berner at 11:10 AM
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Re: CBC Radio Orchestra axed, Westcoast News, March 28
In attempting to disband one of the finest orchestras on this continent, the CBC has shown its disregard for its own country's cultural legacy. CBC managers are abandoning their responsibility to the people whose best interests they are supposed to serve. I call on the CBC to reverse this reprehensible decision immediately.
I have had the honour of performing as piano soloist with more than 100 different orchestras throughout the world. I happily rank the CBC Radio Orchestra among the top five, in the company of the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and the New Japan Philharmonic. The entire nation can be rightly proud of this incredible orchestra which is led by one of today's finest young conductors.
This decision by the CBC amounts to an act of cultural vandalism on a national scale. Imagine the Vancouver Art Gallery stripping its walls of Lawren Harris and Emily Carr because big-eye pictures of animals and clowns sell better. Imagine our libraries tossing out Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood because they are sometimes tough reading and lining their shelves with Harlequin romance novels that attract more readers.
Beginning this Sunday afternoon with a solo recital in Vancouver, I will make a public statement of protest at every Canadian musical engagement in which I appear -- solo, chamber and with orchestra. I call upon my fellow musicians in Canada to do the same.
It is a sad day when artists have to stand up to defend their contributions against the very institutions which were founded to foster cultural understanding, emotional connection and pride in the Canadian character.
Sara Davis Buechner
Assistant Professor of Music,
University of British Columbia
Posted by David Berner at 11:06 AM
Posted by David Berner at 10:56 AM
Posted by David Berner at 10:52 AM
Friday, March 28, 2008
I've just had a 'phone conversation with my kids' violin teacher who has been a member of the CBC Orchestra for 30 years. She is devastated and somewhat in shock. She expressed what a real privilege it has been to be part of such an exciting, wonderful venue with world-class (really, and not just repeated as PR) musicians and conductors. And, with the stroke of a pen, 70 years has been erased by inept bureaucrats.
Their conductor was told about this decision before Christmas and was expected to inform the members two days prior to Christmas, which he wouldn't do. He has been living with this knowledge since that time. The concert master, in tears, spoke of the orchestra as a jewel.
Like telemarketers, the two people from CBC were completely "on message" yesterday and would not, or could not, directly answer questions that deviated from their script.
The money that these wonderful musicians are paid is a pittance and the money ($600K?) that will be "saved" is small potatoes compared to what the orchestra provides. This decision will have a domino effect -- the orchestra also plays with, for instance, the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, etc. something which will no longer be possible once it is disbanded.
Many in the music community (Bramwell Tovy for instance) packed the lobby of the closed meeting last night to show their support for the orchestra. We can only hope that there will be a ground swell of support and this decision will be reversed, although this is probably unlikely.
Posted by David Berner at 4:10 PM
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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Posted by David Berner at 6:31 PM
"I've never seen a grown man cry in bed," she said. "He was very proud of that job."
Posted by David Berner at 8:31 AM
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Posted by David Berner at 8:20 AM
Monday, March 24, 2008
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Sunday, March 23, 2008
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Saturday, March 22, 2008
Please note along the right hand column that I have added a new link today titled: "Samantha Speaks: The Vancouver Manifesto."
For a quick look, go here now:
She is an interesting writer with a distinct point of view.
Posted by David Berner at 6:21 PM
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Saturday, March 22, 2008
Re: BCTF vows to fight standardized tests with job action, March 18
I am the parent of a Grade 12 student who will attend an American university in September. Almost every university to which our daughter applied requested a ranking report on her school, Lord Byng secondary. It took some explaining on my part as to why British Columbia does not produce such a report. Fortunately, the Fraser Institute's report on Lord Byng was acceptable.
It is critical for students who seek post-secondary education outside of Canada to have access to a performance report on their secondary school. A performance/ranking report is just one of many things U.S. admissions departments list as required documentation. It was embarrassing to advise American universities that our province does not produce a report that is so common down south.
I am very disappointed in the BCTF's position and wonder whom the boycott truly benefits -- certainly not students.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
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Friday, March 21, 2008
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
To The Editor
Racketeering? Conflict of interest? Secretive government meetings? Episode
of the Soprano's?
Nope - it's a new series called "The Gordfather".
TransLink decides where the transit routes and stations go, and the zoning
is changed to maximize their density/profit, regardless of the consequences
to the community. They decide on the method of construction with impunity.
They decide when to purchase the property with this secret knowledge,
without any pesky competition. They even choose who will win their favour to
build on this land and share the spoils.
And the public that is impacted and pays for all this - that's us - does not
have a say in anything. As a matter of fact, Kevin Falcon has made it clear
even to the Municipal Mayors that if you don't honour the TransLink family,
you and your communities will be dead to him.
Small businesses that get in the way don't stand a chance of survival.
You just couldn't make this stuff up.
Good thing they have a Vice President of SNC Lavalin on the Board to advise
them, and a director of Canada Line to assist with how to get away with
offering no compensation! And what a bonus that Shato Holdings has very
close ties every whichway to the Gordfather. Makes it so much easier to have
White Spots in every station, and residential towers over all their
I think the people of BC have just been kissed off.
Standing up for Democracy (against all odds)
Posted by David Berner at 5:34 PM
Posted by David Berner at 8:50 AM