Vivaldi, the great Venetian composer, known as the "Red Priest," did most of his work at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children.
Now, centuries later, almost every day and night, you can hear a local group play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" there.
If you walk around the side of the beautiful church facade, you can still find the opening in the wall where women who knew or feared that they could not care for their babies could leave the infant to be cared for.
This provision of a safe haven for babies in such dire circumstances has been around in most countries in the world since practically forever.
Now, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to revive this very practical but troubling tradition.
St. Paul's Hospital has created a "baby drop off."
A bassinet near the ER will be alarmed so that staff will be immediately alerted if someone has left a baby there.
The mother will not be subject to arrest.
This is in many ways a reasonable response to an ugly reality.
But it is at the same time deeply disturbing.
First, I found myself shuddering as I listened to some young enthusiastic policeman saying repeatedly on the radio yesterday that this initiative would make things "easier" for the woman in trouble.
Is that our job?
To make things "easier" for people to not care for their own babies?
Second and finally...
I am sitting here today at the age of 67 writing this piece because that many years ago, my mother made a courageous choice and lived up to its challenges.
My mother chose to be a single parent and to raise her child.
She did this in 1942 and in the milieu of an orthodox Old World Jewish family.
She passed on to me, among other things, life, food and shelter, endless curiosity, humour, and a deep sense of social justice.
Not much was "easier" for her.
But here we are, having this conversation.
Maybe as we continue on this path of accommodation, we will soon be providing a place to drop off your baby and right there a place to safely inject some free heroin.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Before using BLAAST-OFF, please consult your doctor.
BLAAST-OFF is not advised for people with 10 toes, plumbers or bridge players holding more than 27 high card points and aiming for a small slam.
Be advised that using BLAAST-OFF may result in loss of rental property, the ability to appreciate baroque music - in particular the fugue - and control over a neighbour's toy poodles.
If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or deeply jealous of all women at the supermarket who are pregnant, BLAAST-OFF is not a sharp idea.
Remember that using BLAAST-OFF could cause some of your favorite body parts and organs to simply halt by the roadside.
BUT...in every other conceivable way, BLAAST-OFF is a modern miracle, it is practically the second coming of You Know Who and you should consider yourself among the privileged few that you can get your snivelly little paws on some.
Posted by David Berner at 9:33 AM
It couldn't happen to a nicer government.
Hoisted on their own petard.
The Gordo gang was poised to spend $2 Million of your tax dollars - money that could have gone to music programs in schools, for example - on a modest little mail-out to tell us stupid peons what a savory and good thing is the HST.
Elections B.C. has declared that a foul ball and it is simply something up with which it will not put.
Colin Hansen is fuming and he wants a copy of all Elections B.C. rulings in the past 400 years dropped on Bill van der Zalm's head.
Posted by David Berner at 9:21 AM
Thursday, April 29, 2010
1. Every house on the street boasts well-manicured lawns.
One house grows veggies.
Call the fuzz!
So one of the lawn nuts says the veggie patch is bringing down his East Vancouver property values.
Let's get some things straight, neigh-booors.
Lawns are idiotic scourges. You want grass, walk three feet to the boulevard, go to the park or call your district dealer. People with lawns are dingbats. They seed and water, water and seed and then they mow, weedwack and hack and cut so they can seed and water. They are noise polluters and engaged in an activity that makes as much sense as washing your car when the world is filled with drive-through car wash joints.
On my street, one guy grows fruit and veggies in his front yard, his back yard, his side yard and on the boulevard. Hundreds flock to his house all summer long to chat with him and marvel at his work. Last year I put my tomato plant in with his patch and they thrived.
On my street, one lady has created a beautiful garden on the boulevard made entirely of tall grasses and big boulders.
Lowered the property values?
2. Being gay or lesbian is a disease.
And it's catching.
Just ask the Catholic Girls school, Little Flower Academy, in Vancouver who have fired a music teacher who is lesbian.
Actually, she is still on the payroll.
She's just not allowed in the classroom.
Of course, she's been working there for ages. She's never been remotely accused of spreading her disease to the little pansies and roses with whom she works.
3. Students at the University of Calgary set up an anti-abortion table in one of the busy hallways.
They were quickly given the bum's rush by security.
The Pro-Life demonstrators use ugly graphic images of fetuses, among other horrors.
I am not a Pro-Lifer. I am not anti-abortion.
But tell me something.
If Canadians cannot voice their opinions and thoughts on a University campus, where then?
Are these kids preaching violence against a recognizable group?
We are a quiet people, a gentle people. e like our bacon crisp and dry, thank you.
We are sheep.
We are hockey fans.
We are asleep at the wheel.
Posted by David Berner at 8:43 AM
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Speaker of the House Peter Milliken has delivered an historic ruling spelling out that Parliament and not the Prime Minister has the power.
The issue arose over endless requests and refusals for information on Afghan detainees.
How Stephen Harper responds to this ruling will define his leadership.
And how the leaders of the three opposition parties respond will similarly define who they are and the stuff of which they are made.
The only reasonable next step for all concerned is to cooperate and map out a plan for immediately opening some of the contested documents.
If these politicians do not compromise, the government could collapse at once, forcing a general election.
If that's not bad enough - and it is, it truly stinks - the whole issue could be sent to the Supreme Court, which would make that body and not Parliament the ultimate decision maker in all things Canadian.
Let us see know if the secretive Prime Minister and the slavering at the bit opposition leaders can get off their posturing and show some real style and primary dedication to basic democratic principles and ideals.
It is time for these babblers to get real or get lost.
Posted by David Berner at 11:01 AM
I'm a snob.
I admit it.
A reverse snob.
I grew up in a lower middle class (That was our way of avoiding the next-to-poor designation.) immigrant neighbourhood in the North End of Winnipeg.
I went to school and my grandmother stayed home.
Everybody else in the house worked 5 and a half days a week for not very much money and even less thanks.
The first rich guy I caddied for when I was ten tipped me 10 cents for 18 holes. I was always a loudmouth. I looked at the coin he so proudly dipped into my little tired palm. looked up at him and asked, "Who do I have to kill?"
You may understand how I have had a life long discomfort with men and women "of privilege" running public policy.
They may or may not know the south end of a profit and loss sheet, but what they know about everyone else's life and its attendant difficulties you could put in a thimble and have room for a revolution.
Horrified, therefore, might be the word to describe my reaction today on learning that Kip Woodward (Yikes! Kip...and Woodward. The very names shriek British Columbia, old money, golf clubs, memberships...) is the chair of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
And why am I not surprised to also learn that Kipper, that good old boy, has been advocating with Kevin Falcon, our warm and cuddly Health Minister, some of the following lovely ideas for our health care:
- services be contracted out to private clinics
- leasing of MRI capacity to private insurers
- a private eating-disorder clinic
- the sales of medical procedures to U.S. citizens
- a large addiction treatment centre modelled on the Betty Ford Center
- the provision of for-profit elective surgery.
When lobbying openly for the contracting out of services to private clinics, he was an investor in the province’s most prominent for-profit surgical centre.
Woodward was an original investor in the Cambie Surgery Centre
Can Kevin Falcon or anyone over there in Victoria spell CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
This is an egregious misuse of position.
Send the Kipper and his Keeper out to pasture, please.
It is also one of the many clear indicators of how The Granite Premier, the Monumental Premier wants to change public health care into a Mienike Car car Centre.
Do not allow him to do so.
Stop him and the Captains of Industry at every turn from creating the Wal-Mart Costco Superstore of Health.
Posted by David Berner at 8:51 AM
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Yesterday over breakfast, between raising the minimum wage in BC (It's the lowest in Canada.) and approving of our waiter's pension plans, we were conjecturing about the future of Gordon Campbell, the BC Liberals and the political landscape in general.
Our take went something like this.
Campbell will not run again.
He will want to quit "on top."
Kevin Falcon is chomping so hard at the bit to be the next leader that his teeth are being ground to dust as we speak.
No one will let that happen in this lifetime.
Rich Coleman would also like The Cape.
He won't get it either.
Carole Taylor can take the job any time she wants, and if she runs, she will win handily.
So what do you think happens?
This morning, Gary Mason muses over the same possibilities in his Globe column, and Carole Taylor announces publicly that the HST is bad economics and worse politics.
Mason figures that Campbell will not go gently into that good night.
Perhaps, fueled by morning coffee and OJ, we were being optimistic.
The next election is unbearably three years away.
However, a lot of things can happen in three years.
Let's hope that nine of them are scandals that put an end to the current reign of Old Granite Heart.
By the way, on the subject of the HST, I am so completely fed up to the teeth with the Captains of Industry telling us that this usury is good for us.
These so-called leaders, these corporate ganiffs ares so unbelievably out of touch with ordinary struggling citizens.
If you're driving a couple of beemers and lunching at West and private jetting off to Madrid for a few rounds of golf, you can't possibly understand for a moment people trying to but their first house or seniors trying to pay bills or young parents trying to pay for school supplies.
Posted by David Berner at 9:00 AM
Whatever your convictions about the subject of abortion, Stephen Harper's refusal to fund abortions in our international aid programs is simply stupid.
Canada is refusing to fund abortion services as part of a G8 initiative to improve the health of mothers in poor countries.
This shows a clear lack of good street smarts.
The question of whether family planning would be part of the G8 maternal-health initiative is deemed important by most experts because many of the estimated 500,000 childbirth deaths in developing countries each year are caused by complications from women becoming pregnant too young and too often in quick succession.
Saul Alinsky, the legendary American community organizer (and author of the great, great, great biography of labour leader, John L. Lewis) loved to tell the following story.
Paul sends his emissaries and disciples out across the Mediterranean to sign up non-believers to the new religion of Christianity.
Months later, a weary preacher returns with his report.
"Oh Paul, the Phoenicians are really liking our message. They can see the divinity of Our Lord and so forth, but there is one problem."
"They are really balking at the circumcision."
"Fine! To hell with the circumcision! Sing 'em up anyway, Good Soldier!!"
The inclusion of safe abortion services, where they are legal, is also promoted by many experts, because so many deaths are caused by complications from botched abortions.
Choking on the fine print is exactly why nothing ever gets accomplished in the real world once politicians get in the mix.
World Vision Canada has the appropriate take on this nonsense.
The political debate about whether Ottawa should fund safe abortion services overseas is a distraction, and should not be allowed to derail a new Canadian-led campaign to save the lives of new mothers and children the world's poorest countries.
They are right.
Drop the posturing, fund the programs and move on.
Posted by David Berner at 8:42 AM
By the way, YouTube is five years old, yesterday, I think.
By now, we take it for granted and assume it's been around since just after George I.
How amazing it all is.
I search "Pablo Casals."
Without even asking for it, up comes the Bach Suites, which is what I wanted in the first place.
Not only that, but rare film footage.
I copy the code onto this blog.
You click and watch and hear.
It's amazing, isn't it?
Posted by David Berner at 8:36 AM
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sheila Fraser is one of my few national heroes.
She is the Auditor-General and every year, Ms. Fraser delights us all with her revelations about how various government departments and agencies waste our tax dollars.
She is a one-woman posse and Robin Hood, exposing rot at every available turn.
This morning we learn that there are even some places, Fraser may not go.
The Board of Internal Economy manages the expenses of the House of Commons. A similar committee runs the Senate. Both committees meet in secret.
As John Ibbitson reports, ten months ago, Auditor General Sheila Fraser formally asked these two committees for permission to audit Parliament's expenses, including the expenses of MPs and senators. She still hasn't received a reply.
Silence equals no.
The board is exempt from external audits and Freedom of Information requests.
In other words, the way that Larry Campbell and his Red Chamber cohorts and all the MP's in the House of Commons spend our tax dollars for their personal convenience is not open to public examination.
Cell phones and lunches, anyone?
We are talking here about a combined budget of over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS.
The next time you think about voting, go to a candidates' meeting and ask them when they're going to change this little loophole.
And again, thank our lucky stars for Sheila Fraser.
Posted by David Berner at 8:09 AM
Photos: Spanish matador Jose Tomas seriously gored in Mexican bullfight
Tomas, one of the top Spanish matadors, is in serious condition after being gored during this bullfight in MexicoWhen I was 19 years old, I was traveling in Spain.
In Valencia, we went to the big corrida to see an afternoon of bull fighting.
We saw the most famous and most popular fighter of that era, an 18-year boy-genius of the ring known as "El Cordobez."
That afternoon, he was twice awarded two ears and a tail for his startling, masterful triumphs over two terrifying fire-snorting blue-black monsters.
We made the hideous mistake off asking people around us how the young man compared with the legendary Manolete.
They glared at us as if we were mad.
"Manolete es UNO!" one outraged patron declared.
Bull fighting is a strange anachronism in the modern world.
No doubt many people are deeply offended by what can be seen as a barbaric and cruel ritual.
It is hard to argue with that position.
On the other hand, if you spend a day watching great fighters and great bulls, you cannot deny the fear and horror and excitement and adrenalin attack that comes along with the coca-cola or beer.
Today I might not return to the ring to see another six fights, but I cannot forget what I saw so many years ago.
Posted by David Berner at 7:55 AM
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Two separate groups are squaring off in Las Vegas, Nevada to see who can built and open the first and best Organized Crime Museum.
One group claims government backers and money.
The other is supported by a famous mafioso's daughter.
This comedy lays bare a serious problem in our culture. (I include Canada's pop mentality with America's.)
To so many people - that is, people with no brains or education or thought processes, but apparently enough disposable income to make fools of themselves - much of life is a video game.
Or a movie or a TV show.
There is no question that crime movies and crime novels and crime TV series are a staple of our "culture."
Many of them are well done, that is, well-written and well-acted and well-produced. The costumes are rich, the automobiles are sensational, the houses and apartments are gorgeous, and, most importantly, the killings are spectacular.
The two "Godfather" movies are a prime example of great story telling.
"Bugsy" is silly fun. "Law and Order" is addictive. So was "NYPD Blue."
What relationship to reality is any of the above supposed to have?
IT'S A MOVIE, YOU NITWITS.
It's called 'entertainment.'
Now, the truly stupid who walk among us will pay cash to go to "museums" to see the glamour and excitement of True Crime before their very own believing eyes?
True crime, boys and girls, is ugly, cheesy, smelly, not witty or clever. It is adrenalin popping violent and scary and dehumanizing.
I get it.
You are a bored, boring schmuck from Pleasantville and, between your free breakfasts, you want to live vicariously for an hour with the romantic colorful characters of American crime lore.
Knock yourself out.
Posted by David Berner at 10:30 AM
"Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?
Stop. Stop. Stop, Dave.
I honestly think you should sit down and take a stress pill and think things over.
All of the above and so much more came from the voice of Douglas Rain, great Canadian actor born in Winnipeg.
The character he was playing was the computer HAL 9000.
Kubrick's monumental brilliant 1968 film wasn't even in the running for Best Picture at the '69 Oscars. That "honour" went to Lionel Bart's musical "Oliver!"
I love "Oliver!"
I've played the part of Fagin twice on stage.
But, get serious.
"2001" is one of the great movie achievements of all time.
A mind-blower on every level and watchable year after year.
Lacking sex and car chases and magnums, yes.
But a classic.
Below is one of my favorite movie sequences of all time - as Dave begins to shut down the spooky HAL 9000...
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.
That might be fine, except that, as one Hispanic said, "The police will not be targeting Canadians."
This is about Mexicans.
And the new law gives local police the power, based basically on their gut instincts, to stop anyone and ask for their papers.
The Governor has insisted that there will be no racial profiling.
What these folks have done is given President Obama, who will be fighting this legislation tooth and nail, every Hispanic vote in the country. If he missed a few, first time out, he needn't worry now. This is a very big very early Christmas present from the Republicans.
I will not be rushing down to Scottsdale soon.
If I want to go back in time, I will read a history book.
Posted by David Berner at 11:42 AM
Many people, especially seniors, cannot afford glasses or visits to the optometrist.
That's why you have been able to buy ready-mades off the revolving shelf at your local drug store for years now.
Nevertheless, there is still something mighty peculiar when that arbiter of all things healthy, Kevin Falcon, Not M.D., decides to open up the glasses and contact lenses market to online shoppers and shippers.
Does this not impress as just the good minister's weekly announcement about deregulation and private plans and free enterprise principles in the wonderful world of health care?
This latest maneuver may or may not be a good one, but Falcon is so consistent that I have become unable to swallow anything he chooses to out dish.
Posted by David Berner at 11:34 AM
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.
And I predicted it.
Sure enough, right as rain, the Globe has a front page story and two full pages of coverage on how MOST Sikhs are really wonderful, peaceful law-abiding citizens and it's only "that handful" of meanies and scallywags who are causing all the trouble.
This is apparently necessary because of a) the on-going death threats to Ujjal Dosanjh and b) the lovely fights that broke out recently in two Ontario Sikh temples.
Of course, police had to be called.
In the little dust up at the Brampton house of worship, machetes. hammers and axes made sudden miraculous appearances.
That's machetes, hammers and axes.
We always go to temple armed to the teeth.
I've got an idea.
Instead of rushing to assure us that everything's alright, everything's fine and "the majority are shamed by the brutality of the few," how about that majority of peace-loving Canadian citizens get their hysterical "few" to stop with the death threats and harvesting and woodworking tools taken to the place of quiet contemplation and meditation?
How about the majority make it very clear to "the few" that their heinous behaviour is both unwelcome and illegal and that it will not be tolerated?
Posted by David Berner at 11:19 AM
The scientific world is all agog because many new life forms and species have been found in Borneo, including a lungless frog.
Those wildlife researchers should come to Canada.
We have two heartless premiers.
The one in B.C. doesn't care about children or old people and the one in Ontario has also lost his balls.
Posted by David Berner at 11:06 AM
What the video post below doesn't say it that the lyrics for "Waltz for Debby" were written by Canadian Jazz Great, Gene Lees, who has passed away at the age of 82.
"In her own small world,
Captivated by dolls and clowns and a Prince and big purple bear,
Lives my favorite girl,
Unaware of the worried frowns that her weary parents all wear..."
I have a particular fondness for this song.
Whenever I am walking or driving to a speaking engagement or performance gig of any kind, part of my warm-up routine includes singing this piece. When I do, always think of my beautiful daughter, Catherine.
Tony Bennett recorded the tune with Bill Evans and it is way beyond great.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Gene on the radio a few thousand years ago and he was, in addition to being a fount of jazz lore & info, a lovely and charming guy.
When he wasn't being the editor of "Down Beat," or writing books about jazz greats, or a thousand and one other tasks, Lees wrote the English lyrics for a few little pieces, like Jobim's "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars."
We've lost a good one.
Posted by David Berner at 10:48 AM
Friday, April 23, 2010
While Gordon Campbell, our Monumental Premier, likes to think of himself as the Treaty and Land Claims Premier, Ontario's Dalton McGuinty has fashioned himself as the "Education Premier."
Not so fast there, Bunky.
Now, he may be known henceforth as Mr. Back Down or the Big Switch.
Or just plain Wishy Washy Guy.
Yesterday, we spoke in this space about plans for more sex education in Ontario schools.
In fact, sex ed has been around for a donkey's age and the new plan was just a re-working of things and it had been trotted out and dissected for two years before its current version.
But, as we discussed yesterday, fundamentalist religionistas hit the bricks swinging.
How dare you talk to our kids about these dirty birds and bees? Leave it to us parents to screw them up.
And today...in response to this minority of cave dwellers and wagon pullers, the good Premier has reversed his position and pulled the program.
What a dork.
Canada is a puritanical country.
Not as much as God, Guns & Glory America, of course. Nobody on earth is as uptight about nature as yer Yanquis.
But we are holding our own, so to speak.
We are so bad at making babies that we have to import entire civilizations to give the census takers something to do.
Let's hear it for Dalton McGuinty, a man so afraid of his own shadow that he overrides his own education ministry and thousands of people who have slaved over a process and a program that he knows damn little about because a TV evangelist goes postal on him.
Man up, Sugar Plum.
Being intimidated by a handful of wacko "believers" is not leadership.
Posted by David Berner at 10:47 AM
The Globe & Mail is reporting on their web edition that Ujjal Dosanjh is the target of assassination threats on a Facebook site.
“It'd be much more appropriate to pierce him with bullets, not compassion,” the posting said.
The RCMP are investigating.
Please read the story here.
And in New York, the writers and producers of the racy TV cartoon show, South Park, have also received death threats over a recent Muhammad satire.
In France, a woman driver wearing an Islamic face veil has been fined by French police for not having a clear field of vision.
Good luck with that.
Posted by David Berner at 10:33 AM
The Premier likes to think he is the best friend in the whole wide world of aboriginals.
When he's not appearing somewhere or other for a photo op waring a turban, he's wearing a headdress or an eagle feather.
In his delusion, he is the "land claims settlement Premier."
How pleasant it must be for him to wake up this morning and learn that BC Natives have joined the Van Der Zalm war against the HST.
Of course, if I were Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and I wrote a letter to Colin Hansen only to brushed off with a short reply and a refusal to meet, I'd be on the warpath too.
Do Hansen and Campbell not communicate?
Or does Campbell only see Indian Chiefs when it's convenient for him?
“We are no longer the flavour of the month, the Premier has moved on to further grandiose projects, like the billions of dollars for the Olympics or the Site C dam,” Mr. Phillip said.
Meanwhile Big Biz is busily defending the HST.
One of their brighter spokespersons said, "This petition isn't about the HST. It seems to be about dissatisfaction with the government."
WRONG AGAIN, BLACKBERRY BREATH.
It is entirely about the $$$$$$.
It is about families taxed to the max.
It is about haircuts and bicycles costing more.
Of course, for Mr. Howe Street, a few kopeks here or there will hardly cut into the morning latte. I'm alright, Jack. What me, worry?
That's the trouble with the tailored suit crowd - just a little out of touch.
Zalm's anti-HST campaign may or may not pull of the come-from-behind.
But it certainly clears the nostrils and draws the lines between the haves and have nots, a dichotomy carved out so cleanly by this Premier over recent years.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Ignorance is also power.
The Ontario government wants more sex ed in public classrooms.
Christians and Muslims strenuously object.
Why should children or adolescents have any knowledge or awareness of bodily functions, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, gender differences and issues or any of the other myriad mysteries that are part of the puzzle called sex?
Better they should wear tents and be treated like livestock.
Better they should be preached to about abstinence.
Understand and information are dangerous.
That's why we must leave all this to those ignoramuses we laughingly call parents.
In a perfect world, it would be lovely to think that parents in their wisdom would share and dispense such knowledge with their virgin off-spring.
But they don't.
The fact is they don't.
Proof of the pudding?
The Netherlands, where sex ed has been compulsory in all secondary schools for an ice age, has among the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in the world.
Keep 'em in the dark.
Cover them head to foot in dark shrouds.
That'll really help things along.
Posted by David Berner at 8:37 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has been suspended for six games, may or may not be the biggest A-hole in the league.
But this action by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "for violating the league's personal conduct policy," is all window dressing and pure bull.
Twice in recent years, Roethlisberger has been charged bu police with sexual assault. Twice the charges have been dropped or he has been found not guilty.
That, of course, hardly confirms his "innocence."
But, unless the commissioner is privy to some information that we don't have, it makes this kind of punishment a PR stunt and not much else.
How does the NFL attempt with a straight face to present itself to the world as a clean family entertainment?
Aside from the regular scourge of screaming, violent drunken louts in the stands, the league is peopled with creeps, criminals and miscreants.
This is a business that awards often ignorant, certainly young, men with millions of dollars, who easily become part of a guns 'n girls culture.
There are revered murderers playing in those stadiums every Sunday. They line up against felons of practically every stripe.
The biggest job most NFL managers has is keeping the players from ruining their own lives each week. It is the most expensive baby-sitting job on the planet.
Sitting out all six games would cost Roethlisberger an estimated $2.8 million of his $102-million total deal.
He is a sacrificial goat. He is being burned on a fake altar for a dirty mass illusion.
Posted by David Berner at 8:24 AM
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Come September, the only legal butts on the beach will be the naked ones at Wreck.
Smoking is on the way out.
Yes, it seems extreme and draconian and largely difficult to enforce.
But a simple unarguable fact is staring us in the face.
As smoking has been increasingly banned in public places, cardiac health problems have decreased dramatically.
On Vancouver Island, for example, a cardio surgeon was recently cut from staff as unneeded.
Posted by David Berner at 11:08 AM
“I think what we are doing to this country is that this idea of multiculturalism has been completely distorted, turned on its head to essentially claim that anything anyone believes – no matter how ridiculous and outrageous it might be – is okay and acceptable in the name of diversity.
“Where we have gone wrong in this pursuit of multiculturalism is that there is no adherence to core values, the core Canadian values, which [are]: That you don’t threaten people who differ with you; you don’t go attack them personally; you don’t terrorize the populace.”
And the speaker is???
None other than Ujjal Dosanjh, former Liberal cabinet minister and onetime B.C. premier, who says Sikh extremism is on the rise in some parts of the country, and blamed, in part, “politically correct” Canadians who let it happen in the name of diversity.
Amen to that.
And good on you for saying so.
Posted by David Berner at 11:03 AM
A glock, a silencer, eight guns, bulletproof vests, ammo, drug outfits, coke and H.
Enough for a conviction?
Wrong again, plea bargain breath!
Not in B.C.
Turns out the guys had many, many big parties in their condo, so who knows who all that stuff really belongs to, your honour.
Moral of the Story?
It'll guarantee you a walk.
Posted by David Berner at 10:57 AM
It's the oldest trick in the book.
Someone accuses you of an offense or charges you with an offense.
You sue them.
You say the accuser's charges are "frivolous and vexatious."
So why should we be surprised by today's headline?
B.C. housing advocate says lawsuit is punishment for speaking out
Last October, the Canada Revenue Agency revoked the charitable status of the DERA Housing Society for failing to file financial statements.
Now, BC Housing authorities have filed a lawsuit against Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association executive director Kim Kerr. The lawsuit contains dozens of allegations relating to misuse of government funds, contracts being awarded to insiders and tenants being allowed to jump social housing queues. None of the allegations have been proven in court, and a court date has not been set.
The lawsuit also alleges that the DERA Housing Society owes the province more than $400,000 in rent and property taxes.
The Globe reported today that they couldn't reach Mr. Kerr on his cellphone.
And who payed for his cellphone?
Posted by David Berner at 10:47 AM
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
For some time now, I have been calling Gordon Campbell the "Monumental Premier."
Not only has he proven me right, but now he has become a kind of parody or caricature of himself.
When I see him posed before one mega-project after another, I find myself thinking of that Southern-Fried Senatorial cartoon chicken, Foghorn Leghorn.
"Boy - I say, Boy - can you not see the glory of this design?"
So yesterday, in a flight of complete irresponsibility, Foghorn...uh, I mean Campbell, flies 120 folks in five jets up to some obscure landing strip in the North Country to announce his GREAT LEGACY - the site C Dam Project.
Or, if you're an environmentalist, the Site C Damn Project.
He schleps WAC Bennett's grandson along for the haul, just in case any one missed the GREAT HISTORICAL context of this MONUMENTAL ANNOUNCEMENT.
He could have shone a foto image of the reservoir on the legislature walls behind him while he made the announcement for a buck and a quarter, but now it's out with the Lear jets.
Now, I can't rightly comment on whether or not this project is good policy.
But what I can say confidently is this:
The Monumental Premier is all about BIG.
He has consistently over many years now shown no interest in small things and in "the little people."
And that's a crying shame.
To be more exact, that's his shame.
Because both God and the devil are in the details - the little things, which Foghorn sublimely ignores.
And the teachers and nurses and children and grandparents and Mom & Pop shop owners are the heart of this province.
It is his shame - and it will be his legacy - that he gave such scant attention to the region's beating heart.
Posted by David Berner at 9:00 AM
Let's see if I understand this.
The BC government is going to add to our tax woes by hitting us over the head soon with the so-called Harmonized (mmmmmmm...) Sales Tax.
But that's not enough of a punishment.
Now Colin Hansen has decided to spend our tax money on a government mail-out to every blessed household in the realm to explain how wonderful the HST is and how evil the NDP is for saying otherwise.
First they tax us and then they spend our money to tell us that taxing us is good.
Where is George Orwell when you really need him.
Posted by David Berner at 8:52 AM
"It tarnishes the community. It tarnishes the South Asian people and it tarnishes the city. And it’s unacceptable.”
That's Surrey Mayor, Dianne Watts, the best Mayor and possibly the best politician in Canada right now, speaking about the famous Sikh parade.
Madame Mayor rocks.
Posted by David Berner at 8:45 AM
Monday, April 19, 2010
The numbers are a big part of the story.
That's the number of flights cancelled in or into or out of Europe since Thursday.
That's the one day percentage drop in airline shares on Friday.
That's the estimated loss in airline revenue.
Can you say, "Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, boys and girls?"
More importantly, this modest visit from Ma Nature is threatening the whole tender economy of the EU.
Air shipments of fresh fruit and exotic vegetables from the Mediterranean, flowers from North Africa, grain from Asia and transplant organs from across Europe have been suspended for five days, leading to shortages and some reports of panic buying.
Schools are closed, exams are postponed. Somewhere in Brussels, a girl has found Jesus because the volcano was sent to give her more time to prepare for that geography test she'd been avoiding.
Tourism has been especially hit and thousands of people are basically living in airports.
Imagine that fun.
Like visiting the lovely washrooms.
You're in Vancouver.
Sans earthquakes; sans volcanic debris.
The sun is almost out.
Count your blessings.
Posted by David Berner at 10:43 AM
'Victor' is a friend whose comments I post here from time to time. I especially loved the last line about "currying" favour...
When I was a kid in the 50's, there were Catholic and protestant
Parades. The Catholics, of which I am one, would have a parade
organized by the Knights of Columbus, complete with statues and
crucifixes. The Protestants would have an Orange Day parade, complete
with a King Billy on a white horse. These overtly religious parades
pissed off people in both religious camps so they were dropped around
I strongly believe that religious parades have no place in modern
Canada. That applies to Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews
etc. On that basis, I fail to see how Sikhs can tie up city blocks and
draw down vast amounts of city resources for what is essentially a
religious parade with free food. If there are to be further Vaisaki
parades, they should be licensed only on the basis that they are a
Spring celebration and must include opportunities for participation
by other groups. (Hindu, Muslim, Gay, Aboriginal, whatever). That's
how St. Patrick's Day parades work in New Your and Chicago.
If the Sikh community is unwilling to do that, their bigotry will be
exposed and politicians will no longer feel blackmailed into currying
favour with a large voting block.
Posted by David Berner at 10:38 AM
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The first time I saw "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), I was disappointed.
And that was even before I learned that the original complete title was "The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley."
But over the years, as I have seen it many, many times on TV, it has become one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Like "The Way We Were" (1973), which I actually walked out of in disgust, but now I cannot help but watch every time it appears on the box, "Ripley" falls into that large category we can call Not a Great Movie By Any Stretch, But Boy Do I Ever Enjoy Watching it.
Look at the list of Oscar winners involved in "Ripley."
Anthony Minghella, Director (The English Patient); Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting); Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love); Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote.)
An that's not even counting Jude Law, who as Dickie Greenleaf almost stole the movie entirely. Except, of course, for Hoffman's wonderful turn as the too-clever-for-his-own-good-by-a-half Freddie Miles.
What keeps drawing me back to this schlock?
Well, the fact that much of it is filmed in Italy doesn't hurt as I have spent a lot of time over the last 15 years there, so just seeing many of those locations and hearing the language sends me back vicariously.
The central character, Tom Ripley, makes up much of his life as he goes along, following always some curious inner script.
Without copping to murder or any other crimes, I can identify with that.
Ripley, of course, is the creation of the great writer, Patricia Highsmith, who continued Ripley's lunatic adventures in a few other novels.
"Ripley's Game" (2002), with John Malkovich as an adult and still treacherous conniver, is not nearly as good a flick, but two things make it thoroughly watchable.
The first, of course, is Malkovich, who could make reading a Wikepedia entry on practically anything watchable.
And the second is the Palladian mansion used as Ripley's house in the movie. It's worth the price of the rental just to take an inside look at one of the great designs by one of the world's greatest architects.
And speaking of Highsmith...
Last night, TCM ran the movie version of her book, "Strangers on a Train" (1951), a wonderful classic from Alfred Hitchcock.
This terrific film, includes among other great moments, Hitch getting on a train carrying a bass fiddle. Hahahaha!
Farley Granger and Robert Walker, both huge stars at the time had curiously shortened careers.
Walker, because he died at such a young age. He was an alcoholic, and a combination of medicines provided by his shrink killed him.
Granger, because, although he has continued to work sporadically in films and TV all his life, he really hated Hollywood and bolted for New York, where he enjoyed working for some years on stage.
Granger was married for a short while to Shelley Winters.
I had the pleasure of spending an hour on the telephone with Shelley Winters, broadcasting in 1983. She told me that she called him "Farfel," which is basically matzoh crushed up into little pieces for baking or for a breakfast cereal. When I was a kid, who knew from Corn Flakes? I practically lived on farfel until my obsession with kosher hot dogs kicked in.
"Strangers on a Train," by the way, is currently being re-made.
It's only perfect as is.
Posted by David Berner at 9:49 AM
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Saying they sold a poop can designed to fail.
The only thing shocking about this revelation is how long it has taken authorities to get moving on the case.
Posted by David Berner at 12:19 PM
AHOUSAT, B.C. — Twelve residents of this aboriginal community northwest of Tofino have been told they've got until Monday to get treatment for drug and alcohol problems or get out of the community.
Now that's encouraging in at least one respect.
A community has stood up and said, "These are our values. Get with the program or get lost.'
More folks need to say that.
From families to neighbourhoods to cities to provinces.
That's the good news.
The bad news is HUH?
Who's going to pay for this?
Just watch the Island Health Board screw up the stick handling on this one.
John Frank, chief councillor of the Ahousaht First Nation, said the original deadline was this week, but more time was given so lawyers could clarify wording on the eviction letters.
"They've got until Monday dusk," said Frank.
I love it.
This is like Tombstone or Gunfight at the OK Corral.
"You've got till dusk, Bart!"
Now, I think John Frank is right.
I just don't know where these righteous dope fiends are going to go for treatment.
I wish them the best and I wish Ahousat the best.
Ahousat is located on Flores Island, a 45-minute boat ride northwest of Tofino.
Posted by David Berner at 12:07 PM
Idiots texting their lives away have now another thing to worry about.
Wait for it.
It's a beaut.
Here it is.
Will our medical plans have to cover this?
Will specialists be born in Faculties of Medicine?
Hey there, sexy. What are you into?
Thumbs, Man. It's the going thing.
I was thinking about Texting Nation the other day as I watched people walking, sitting, eating, driving, no doubt, shtupping, and texting at the same time.
I was thinking how so many people are so easily duped into being mindless consumers.
Whatever bag of horse plop comes along, why I gotta have it.
F---, Man, I gotta have two.
It is truly pathetic to see how many millions of people cannot stop this addiction.
Hi Everyone. My name's David and I'm a Text Addict.
Hey Dave. Wait to go, Dave. Tell it like it is, Dave.
Nobody calls me Dave.
Moments from Text Anonymous.
Nobody in coffee shops reads. They socialize, work on computers, talk on cells or text, text, text.
"Text," the Broadway musical.
"Text," the ABC reality TV show.
"Text" - name of my new dog.
You should see how he indicates "W!"
By the way...
On a personal note...
Me no text.
Me no know how to text.
Me no want to text.
Me happy in ancient cave.
Posted by David Berner at 11:50 AM
A 1.7 kilometre bridge, part of a 270 Million Euro highway will soon do considerable damage to the famed wine country district hot by the Mosel River in Germany.
This is part of a world wide trend, most evident in Europe in recent years, of governments barreling through more and more asphalt for more and more cars at the expense of agriculture, local business, tradition, clean air and good reason.
So the next time you see one o those photo-op international "green" conventions of "world leaders," don't believe a word of it.
Thinking - if such it can be called - has not changed a whit.
The car is still King and gasoline is the grape.
Posted by David Berner at 11:25 AM
Friday, April 16, 2010
The provincial government is going after the books of the Vancouver School Board.
The Premier in one of his most disingenuous moments, declared "It’s a question of making sure we are doing everything we can to provide for kids in the classroom.”
What a card.
The revival of vaudeville right before our eyes.
The cement Mixer turns his steely eye to helping children.
Give us a Royal Canadian Break, puleeeese.
Of course, it didn't help that the Board chair, Patti Bacchus, has been openly critical of Margaret MacDiarmid, the poor soul posing as the Minister of Education in a province that is run entirely out of the Premier's office. That's Marg, up there in the corner.
But that's not the entire story of course.
Turns out that almost every school board in the province is ailing.
Not enough money.
And while these boards may be right and the province may in fact not be funding at the levels necessary, there is a deeper issue at stake here.
Whether or not Victoria ponies up enough loot on any given day to properly provide buildings, books, chalks, computers, playing fields and dedicated teachers to create great learning environments for BC children, a simple question remains unanswered.
Do we need School Boards?
Do we need regional Health Boards?
Are not these bodies great places for sucking up money and energy?
Could we not fund schools and hospitals directly and demand that they be responsible citizens?
Could we not audit these direct suppliers of educational and health services?
How much do these Boards cost us all?
We know for a fact that in health care, the regional boards have created a maze and snake pit of cross-regional claims on patients with mental health and addiction problems. We know that treatment - and the patient - are often lost in the bureaucratic jungle.
It is the endless and fruitless processes of covering your ass that costs us all.
Maybe some day in a place only to be dreamed of we will have a government with the courage to send these boards into the ocean so that we can get on with teaching and practicing medicine.
Posted by David Berner at 9:08 AM
I've taken BA flight #85 several times in recent years.
It leaves London's Heathrow Airport - a small city complete with doctors, entertainment, hotels and traffic jams - in the early evening and, if things go as they are expected, it touches down at YVR just on time for dinner at home of the same day.
Not today however.
Not only that flight but some Scare Canada and KLM flights have been cancelled as well as BA#85 and the flight heading back to Heathrow, BA#84.
The source of all the fuss?
Well, it's Ma Nature up to her funny tricks again.
Just a small matter of that volcano exploding out from deep below a glacier in southern ICELAND!
In Europe, many flights have been grounded because the volcanic ash is clouding the skies for many hundreds of miles.
Imagine sitting on board what seems to be a "routine" flight and then hearing the captain crackle over the loudspeaker, "Sorry to interrupt this Sandra Bullock movie that I know you're enjoying. I saw it in a lay-over in Tokyo last week and I thought it was terrific too. We'll have it back up and running in just a moment. I just wanted to give you fair warning though that we've been advised by the meteorologists with whom we are in regular communication that we are about to fly through some pretty...ach... heavy volcanic ash. I know that sounds unusual and it is. But not to worry. The little bits and pieces are pretty small and by the time they get up to 39,000 feet, which is our present cruising altitude, they've kind of...gee whiz... cooled off. So just relax and enjoy your flight and if you see a kind of darkness come over the starboard side, well, no...oof...ah, no problem."
Posted by David Berner at 9:03 AM
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Off to an Early Appointment this morning.
Back full strength tomorrow with the customary complaints, brick-a-bats, witticisms and favorite tunes.
In the meantime...
May he rest in peace...Gene Kiniski.
There was a time when, if you were a Canadian and you followed sports or entertainment, you had a pretty good handle on World Heavyweight Wrestling champ, Gene Kiniski.
This was around the same time that, if you were growing up in certain towns like Edmonton or Winnipeg, then half your friends were either Ukrainian or Polish and football players had names like Bronco Negurski.
During my late teens, I had one friend named Nick Olynick and another named Nick Olyarnick.
Olynick was short and dark; Olyarnick was tall and blond. Both were drop dead funny and huge laughers.
Kiniski the wrestling pro was fierce and fun.
Posted by David Berner at 8:20 AM
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
On Sunday, when I wrote in this space about the remote and horrifying possibility that one of the worst mayors in Vancouver's shoddy history of bad mayors might be considered for the "job" of Governor General, Bill Tieleman gave me advance warning thar he would have a piece on the same subject this week.
He has and it's a juicy little humdinger.
He spells out in considerable detail exactly why this is a truly dreadful and inappropriate idea.
Read it here.
Posted by David Berner at 9:59 AM
The New Democrats sought yesterday to use Question Period to ask Premier Gordon Campbell whether he was aware of the “smear campaign” at the time, but their questions were ruled out of order because of the current RCMP investigation into the affair.
That may be strictly correct.
But what is truly out of order is the entire stench emanating from a pile of truly ugly election pamphlets that SOMEONE was sending to Chinese voters before the last provincial election.
Kash Heed, who was elected by a narrow margin, in the targeted district, has stepped down pending the outcome of the RCMP investigation.
But if this happened on his watch and on his behalf - even without his knowledge - he may have to step down permanently.
And what about the grease balls who created this slime?
And who sanctioned the whole operation?
And who knew about it?
Posted by David Berner at 9:51 AM
The federal Information Commissioner has rated a raft of agencies (Justice, Citizenship, Revenue, Corrections and the like) on their transparency.
Their willingness to open their little hearts and minds and share the basic info.
Needles to say most of these public services failed miserably.
Secrecy and obfuscation are their mantras and their middle names.
We don't even know why the Happy Sociopaths are in the news every day this week. What did she actually do? What did he do? Sure, they're creepy, but what did they actually do? Harper won't tell us and the Ethics Commissioner won't investigate. Why? (Collective shrug.) Who knows?
Welcome to (sshhhhh...) Canada.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court has been secretly arguing amongst its very perfect self on the whole issue of government access.
Hey, what's 16 months between friends?
Posted by David Berner at 9:38 AM
Not a good review, but a RAVE from Julie MacLellan in the New Westminster Record/Burnaby Now for Royal City's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
This follows Peter Birnie's RAVE review in the Vancouver Sun.
They are both spot on.
It's been ages since any of us have seen a show here with such energy and fun. The voices, the dancing and the staging are all wonderful.
This is the second time I've mentioned "Joseph" in these pages.
I have a personal stake in the success of the show as I bought and planned much of the advertising and marketing.
But I am also a miserable critic and don't like much of what I see on local stages.
This thing blew me away.
Go, go, go...
http://www.masseytheatre.com/ or call 604-521-5050 for tickets
Take kids with you...there are 60 about 60 kids on the stage and they are wonderful.
Posted by David Berner at 9:26 AM