Monday, January 7, 2008

Paving Over Paradise, Chapter 986,424

In response to my Sunday Post, "The Gulag Known as Langley," came this excellent and spooky tale about North Vancouver.

Langley isn't the only Gulag around.

Only here, District of North Vancouver Management Staff run the show.

In the case across the pond, we have another wetland threatened by too much habitat fragmentation and degradation from recreational development for mountain bike activities.

Read "amusement park" development with structures, stunts and "roller coaster" trails rock armoured to death like a roman road.

On the Mountain View wetland, habitat to a species at risk, Red-legged frog, I spoke with Parks management and staff, who I walked with and talked with about the Alpine Recreational Trails Plan in Mtn View Park wetlands and environs inside the Lynn Valley neighbourhood catchment area. There is no PLAN -- only an Alpine trails CONCEPT. This means if DNV Council supports staff recommendations, then they have effectively given Staff and the NSMBA a carte blanche on trails, etc.

Parks management and staff could give me no assurance the trails slated for closure/decommissioning would in fact be closed. But there was an air of arrogance as those two continued to show me how many more trails would be rock armoured and heavily modified for mountain bike use.

Then the clincher.

There will be another entry exit for mountain bikes less than 50 feet away from the entry exit already in place at Mtn. View Park.

By the way, it is 2008 - The Year of the Frog. Does that matter to Staff and Council? Noooo. It is all about placating the whiny mountain bikers. Community apathy aside, I feel like I am fighting a lost cause.And my so-called "allies" on Council are non-committal to me --- what else is new?

Do you think Council will have the patience to vote on each separate trail? Doubtful, and this is what Parks management and the NSMBA are counting on. There is no management on the Alpine areas -- except to kow tow to the NSMBA's whining. The public has been taken for a literal ride in the woods with this public process and "plan", including the formation of a benign "reference" group who have had democracy taken away from them. It is all crying sham! And no outcry?

The people will get the forests they deserve. I am not holding my breath on this one. I just feel sorry that later generations will become further alienated from nature.

Victor's Travel Recommendations

Today, CNN, otherwise known as the Clinton News Network had two positively nauseating stories in their top ten.

First Story Headline " Hillary Chokes Up at Campaign Stop, Gets Applause".

Second Story Headline " I Can't Make Hillary Younger-Bill".

In the first story, Hillary, who claims to be ready to be firm with global adversaries, breaks down when asked how she keeps her hair in place. She goes on to blubber about how hard it is to eat properly on the campaign " when pizza is the easiest food".

The next story was a sophomoric slap at Obama by the Serial Fondler, Bill..

In one day, these two aging boomers managed to corner the self pity market on the special trials of women ( hair and weight gain) as well as the agony of agism.

Can't they just go? They epitomize the greedy generation that just won't relinquish control. I see the same group every morning when I look at the photos of Vancouver Sun Columnists, fat aging white people in a city that is 49 per cent visible minority with an average age of 34. Yet here they are, holding on to their jobs and being increasingly irrelevant to most of the City, every day.

I'm of the Boomer generation. But I moved on to self employment at age 50 and never looked back. I look forward to the generational handoff in business, government and the media .

Begone, whining Boomers. If you have no alternative skills, go to SaltSpring and make jam.

Rick Mercer - Talking To Americans

Court Pays Lip Service to Open Access

BC Supreme Court Justice Anne Mackenzie has ordered a total blackout and publication ban on the trial of 3 alleged Hells Angels members.

This is an increasing problem across Canada and an almost non-existent problem in the U.S.

Shannon Kari has written a first-rate piece in today's Nation Post about this repeated miscarriage of justice.

Do yourself a favor and read it here.


From "Buongiorno Venezia," a Venice news service to which I subscribe, comes this choice tidbit:

What a crazy night! It was named "Love in Venice 2008", a great - and cost-free - event for New Year's Eve with 90,000 people kissing in St. Mark's Square to set a Guinness world record, a moment which was broadcast around the world. A general feeling of love and peace, as well as a magic moment as lips met lips, was unfortunately spoilt in the end by a group of vandals who broke bottles and created a great deal of noise (the organisers have ensured stricter security measures for the 2009 celebrations). Luckily, nobody got hurt. But the New Year's Venetian celebration nearly ended in tragedy not far away: after the midnight kiss in St. Mark's Square, an Italian woman tourist attacked her girlfriend in the hall of a hotel in Mestre, stabbing her in her abdomen. Speculation is that it resulted from jealousy.

But, my question did she get from Vencie to the Tea Shoppe in Vancouver so fast? And who put up her bail?


Hug 'em For As Long As You Can

By A. G. Tsakumis
‘Rebel With A Clause’

You’d think that by the beginning of a new year we’d get a fresh start, something hopeful. But like an ominous opening gun, the sonorous blast sees the Middle East, specifically Pakistan, soulless and absent of it’s greatest leader; we’ve received yet another body bag from Afghanistan; our economy looks to take a bit of a spill thanks to a looming American recession; Stephane Dion and his party snatchers, on suicide-watch, continue to make noise about tripping an election he will surely lose for them; and, of course, Citizen Sham continues his empty public relations shell game that he hopes will return him to an Olympic podium.

I could have written for you about anything, but you’d have been left, proverbially, looking at this page glumly, that with last year in our rear view mirror, nothing has changed…much.

In the smattering of news in the waning days of 2007, though, a light, as bright as the North Star.

Walter Gretzky, announced Ottawa, will be invested a member of the Order of Canada.

I wasn’t sure whether I’d over-imbibed or over-eaten the night before (occasionally both), but I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest with glee.

If there was ever a symbol of a real Canadian treasure, Wally has to be it. Born in hard-scrabble Ontario to immigrant parents from Belarus and the Ukraine, he worked his way through life with a purposeful, decent, honest disposition that belied the tough times that then made equal men break. Such is Mr. Gretzky’s significance to this country, that in providing for a family of seven and having survived a near fatal accident as a telephone line man for Bell Canada, where he toiled for over three decades, he persevered to build a backyard rink in old Brantford that would eventually gift us with our most spectacular and graceful athlete ever, his son Wayne.

But what’s the real significance here, you ask?

Since 1991, when Mr. Gretzky suffered a brain aneurysm, all the ensuing recollections of him by his family and friends told of man who was ‘there’. No manufactured excuses to miss any of the kids’ practices or activities, no whimpering about how hard-done life was so that he’d rather recline on his couch at home than be ‘there’.

No amount of money could ever replace the wealth of love he felt for his wife Phyllis or his five children. He could be tough, but in a way that his love of family was never over-shadowed.

Mr. Gretzky was once asked about how he inspired his superstar son, and he said, “You know, Wayne did it all, I was just there to tell him how to do it a little bit…and I hugged him, ‘cause you gotta hug your kids for as long as they’ll let you..that’s the most important thing, I was there.”

So for every muddy-faced, teary-eyed kid stuck at center-field long after all the other parents have collected their brood; for every one who was ever told that Dad couldn’t make the game because he had some meeting; for anybody who ever felt a father’s dispassion: you can think of Walter Gretzky, national treasure, just standing ‘there’ and you can pretend he was there for you.

Me? I’m off to hug my son and daughters…for as long as they’ll let me.

Happy New Year, finally.

A. G. Tsakumis is our bi-monthly editorial writer appearing in this space every second Friday.

Assault in the Tea Shoppe

Yesterday afternoon, I was enjoying a cup of tea, a turkey sandwich and the pleasure of reading a novel by one of my favorite writers.

Somedays, you can't even sit quietly minding your own business without the mad world intruding.

Two women came into the tea shop and chose the table next to me.

One woman was Caucasian, in her fifties, with dyed blond hair. The other was Chinese (I believe Cantonese, Hong Kong, or born in Canada.) and in her thirties.

"Oh, you're reading Philip Roth," the Chinese woman said in an almost dismissive manner.

"Yes. Why do you remark about that?" I thought maybe she was a writer or professor of literature and that might result in an amiable conversation.

"Well, nobody reads him now!"

Of course, I read Philip Roth now, so guess where that puts me.

"No, that's not true," I said. "Last year I read his new book, "Everyman," and now I'm reading this new book, so his publishers must feel that people are reading him. And, in fact, as of last year, he is now the only living writer to have most of his works published in a collection by the Library of America."

She approached my table, with he hand out.

"Let me see it," she demanded.

The truth is I feel that books are very personal, and I am mean and possessive about my books. I don't like to "lend" them out. I'll happily pay for your vacation to Palm Springs, buy you a new set of clothes and treat you to an expensive dinner, rather than share my books with you. It's silly and unattractive, I know, but that's how I am, and I'm not working on changing this peculiarity.

I gave her my book.

She spent a full three minutes reading all of the jacket information and handed it back to me with this summary, "It's very short!"

Not, "Thank you," or "Enjoy your reading."

She sat down. And that was that.

May I tell you that, although I did manage to enjoy the turkey sandwich immensely (It had some rare extra goodies and tastes hidden within.) and the African tea and, more importantly, the book, I was enraged.

I wanted so much to tower above this harridan, this hag, this shrew, and ask of her, "Do you have any idea of your own presentation of self to the world, you stupid bitch? Rude, passive-aggressive, man-hating. No doubt you belong to that class of lesbians who automatically hate all men and who will look for opportunities to attack."

Of course, I did nothing of the sort.

Soon, a dear old friend appeared, flush with the excitement of just having seen a matinee performance of "Hecuba" at The Cultch. Then, her daughter who is now living in Brighton joined us.

When I got up to leave and hugged my fiend and kissed her on the cheek, the two witches stopped their conversation cold to observe.

What was the issue? They were jealous of one person's natural affection for another? They hate the idea of men (Ugh!) defiling women with a kiss?

I was glad when I hit the street that the air was fresh and bracing and that the shop windows' lights played off the dark streets in the early evening.