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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pot-smoking Canadian PM; A Visionary Platform

There are two scenarios where Canadians may be wise enough to elect a Ganjah-influenced Prime Minister to lead our peaceful nation. There is a precedent with Pierre Trudeau, and others you don't know about.

The side-by-side existence of the NDP and the Green Party has fractured the traditional left in Canada, and the logical conclusion there is for a merger into the Green Democratic Party, with a focus on ecological and social justice issues. While the left is divided the Liberals can take the left of center psychographic for granted, and focus their efforts on the middle-right. This has resulted in a distortion of traditional Liberal policy, but it's not just the fault of the left. The Conservatives were eaten from the inside by the Reform Party and that faction, though now moderated by power and reality, still controls most of the levers.

One situation where Canada could go for a cannabis king would be as leader of the newly formed Green Democratic Party, the other other would be as leader of a rejuvenated, returned to purpose Liberal Party that returned ton the center in Zen-like fashion and fulfilled the promise of unity the party so often holds for Canadians.

A Proposed 5-Point Policy Platform:

1. Clean Energy as a Responsibility

Canadians are massive users of energy, and not just because we live farther apart than most humans do, but also because we rarely feel the effects of any shortages of fuel or other materials. We have the greatest resources per capita (land, water, gold, oil, natural gas, forests, hospitals, schools, phones etc etc) of any nation on earth, so it is imperative that we become a global co-leader in the greening of our energy base. Even if global warming was not a reality, this would be required for reasons of reducing toxicity in energy production. Coal, oil and uranium will all be phased out of electricity production over the next one to two decades in industrialized nations and within the next three to four decades in emerging nations.

I have long proposed a Canadian Wind Line, a Nova Scotia to BC wind energy generation and clean power transmission line. This will be a great job generator and will train Canadians for many private sector and public sector green energy projects across North America and around the world.

2. A Return to Farenheit

The scale created by Daniel Farenheit measures air based on human comfort, with zero degrees being a cold day, and one hundred degrees indicating a hot day. The scale created by Andre Clesius measure liquids based on their density relative to water, with zero degrees being the freezing point of water, and one hundred degrees being the boiling point of water. Even when considering the temperature of water for human husage, eg, a lake temperature, Farenheit is more useful as it lets us know how cold the water is compared to the air and to our own body temperature, which is ninety-eight point six degrees.

Our American cusins have this one right, and under my leadership Canadians will return to a Farenheit scale. It's also more accurate, with smaller degrees of measurement, which is why it's still used by chefs and doctors. used in hospitals

3. Decriminalization and Legalization of Marijuana

Removing cannabis from criminal laws has been favoured by experts and the public for decades, so that will be a first year priority. The goal would be full legalization within three to seven years, based on public and expert consent. If we allow medical marijuana and we do and we will, then disallowing spiritual marijuana is an affront to Rastafari and other religions; surely the soul is the true recipient of the plant's benefits and prevention of illness must be paramount in Canadian medical policy.

When people witness that decriminalization does not threaten the fabric of Canadian society, they will understand more clearly how legalization then becomes a social justice issue, and Canada must be a leader in this arena.

4. Expansion and Improvement of Health Care Resources

Canada has been a leader in development of health care and medical facilities for everyone, but we must continue to move forward. Federal support will be provided for new provincial programs that will add coverage for procedures and programs such as:

A) Dental care for children up to twelve years of age, with the eventual goal of raising this to seventeen.

B) Nutritional education and preventive medicine clinics where these resources are not readily available.

C) Federal support for academic and private sector research and development into nutriceuticals, with particular emphasis on products including cannabis, hemp, spirulina, bee propolis, kelp, flax, cranberry, pomegranate and other proven life-giving foods.

I would listen to the experts, but you get the idea, Coverage has to move forward with the times, or it will be dragged backward by reactionary forces.

5. Bilingual Republic within British and Fench realms

On this one people will say that I really want to have my cake and eat it too, but I would seek independence from England at the same time as requesting a special relationship with both Britain and France. I will propose that Canada become a bilingual federal republic, with English and French as the official languages in perpetuity, with allowances for government services to be provided (where populations justify it, and through translators if necessary) in native languages and in new Canadian languages such as Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Spanish etc.

The idea would be to become independent of the power of the throne, yet remaining a member of the British Commonwealth. I don't think it is outrageous to speculate that the UK may be see the value in becoming a partner with Canada, as we are their favourite colony and they had to know that this day would come, when they would see their offspring mature into adulthood.

As for France, our Quebecois remain close to the motherland, and French-Canadians across our land do now and will continue to feel part of the community of French nations. Even though the citizens of Quebec have voted two times to stay in Canada, at least one of the votes was uncomfortably close, showing a schism that may be generational (most separatists were born in the forties to sixties) but could also be somewhat cyclical. It's time to utilize the peace and harmony existing now in Canada to cement a permanent partnership recognizing the origins of the culture, values and laws of Canada. There are three founding nations in Canada, the Native peoples, the English, and the French, but there were only two languages you could use from coast to coast, and it is worth preserving the humanity and justice in that duality, and building from that base.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Loose Leafs; Quirky Players in Toronto Maple Leafs History

I'd like readers to comment on some of the more peculiar, interesting, strange, addicted or otherwise tragic or unusual Toronto Maple Leafs from decades past.

Here are some names to start the list:

Brian Spencer - Probably my favourite Leaf for awhile when he was in his prime, Google his life story and you will be fascinated and saddened.

John Kordic - Another player who like Spencer died so very young, Kordic played in an era when the NHL was confused about its direction and the Leafs were a Ballardian shamble.

Jim Dorey - Don't know anything about his life, but I remember clearly his first NHL game, where he drew 48 minutes in penalties.

Forbes Kennedy - In a couple of NHL playoff games in Boston where the Maple Leafs were blown out by scores of 7-0 and 10-0, Forbes Kennedy had half a dozen fights, including four in one game, three with Bruins and one with a linesman! True story; my uncle Bucko Trainor had taught Forbie how to fight on skates (this was in the day when you would dig in your skates, pull the opposing players sweater over his helmetless head and start swinging) back in PEI when Forbes was just starting out.

I am sure there are many more colourful Leaves of passion out there, and I'm trying to make a list of at least ten, so please post your suggestions for the wildest Leafs of all time. Teeder Kennedy, Tiger Williams, anybody else?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joe College autobiography; 1975 Burlington Rocks

Dave, Simon and Roy from Intechange

'75 was a wild year for me in many ways. I was managing the east Burlington progressive rock group Darwin (singer Bill Wood was later best known for his work with The Oh No's and Eye Eye) at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year I was handling Interchange (Simon Leblovic, Larry Boyd, Roy Furness, and Dave Matthews from Burlington, Wayne Nagy from Mississauga), more of an Aerosmith / Rolling Stones style combo that did a wicked version of Dream On, which I pitched to Toronto record label types as a single. Three months later Aerosmith released it as a single, even though it was from an older album, and it became their first major international hit.

Interchange's singer, Simon Leblovic, went on to lead various bands including The Loved Ones and Rocking Horse, eventually ending up in Toronto as Simon Slinger, fronting The Start, who had a minor Cancon hit with Hey You, before he moved to Japan and started a family with a young lady there.

Toronto and Southern Ontario hosted a lot of concerts in 1975, and I remember a two or three week stretch where I was able to attend a sweltering Rolling Stones concert at Maple Leaf Gardens on June 18th, the massive Pink Floyd show on June 28th in Hamilton, and a Rush / Max Webster gig in Port Dover a few nights later. Burnsie and I went to the Floyd concert but after ingesting more than a few tabs of the lucid eye widener, the band's show was just too heavy and I asked Jim if he would mind if we left to get some beer, as I was on the edge, so we headed to a nearby pub for a pitcher. I was to have another eye-opener trip a few weeks later where I would do nearly double and be up for four days, and again it was Burnsie who talked me and walked me through that first night. A friend had offered to call an ambulance but I wanted to walk to Joseph Brant Hospital even though it was about 2+ miles away, as we were in a house on the far side of Central Park, near Guelph Line. When we got to the hospital I wanted to keep on walking and so we started down Beach Boulevard. About halfway to the orange bridge a large German shepherd dog cam barking out onto the road and truly terrified us. We decided to heed the dog's warning and slowly started back into Burlington but again walked right by the hospital. Within a few more hours I was feeling fine again and though I wouldn't sleep for a few more days, I had learned my lesson about taking too much acid and never took more than one or two hits after that. I pretty much stopped then and there, but after joining the Vancouver punk scene in 1979 I had a few more trips, plus some special moments with Peyote (The Clash / DOA concert) and that Western Canada favourite, magic mushrooms

The Rush / Max Webster gig in Port Dover on a summer night in early July 1975was another rock moment to remember. I was grateful that my friend Randy Hoffman had agreed to hitchhike down there with me, and Rush didn't disappoint. We were right up in front of the stage and Alec Lifeson played so many freakin guitar notes right in front of my face it was insane. John Rutsey had left the band and a wise gent from St. Catharines was to take his place behind the skins, a certain Neil Peart. I can't remember if the Nazareth / Rush show at the old Hamilton Forum was Rutsey's last gig or Peart's first, but by Port Dover Peart was in the band and writing lyrics.

There were stretches of months where I was unemployed and hung around Jubilee Pool Hall where Bob Aird worked, and for about a year there I worked in a shoe factory on Fairview Avenue, often stretching and nailing work boots until my hands ached. The first hundred or so pairs I made there were scarily shoddy, but the last few thousand were wickedly fine, so you do what you can do.

At the time I was seventeen years of age and living in a basement room in a rooming house on the north side of Plains Road one block west of Brant Street, and it had no windows so when you turned out the light you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. It had no kitchen facilities yet still, it was clean and safe down there, and I had plenty of friends in town, and some family too. More than a few times Mike Morley let me heat up some food from his parent's fridge or pantry, and other days Mike Sobala, Jim Burns or one of the Brodericks would buy me a sub when they knew I was hurting, which was often.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joe College turns 16; 1974 Rush Zeppelin Stones

Maple and Lakeshore was a good place to be a teen and our apartment building at 455 Maple Avenue was often the starting place for illicit and sometimes rapturous events. Burnsie and I both lived there, as did Mike Furlong and Mike Morley, while Mike Sobala, Mike Gauvin and Brian Bishop were also living nearby. Gauvin was the first to drive and sometimes even took a load of us into Toronto for a concert, using the van from his father's specialty breads business. His dad would buy great German and East European breads and cakes at Toronto bakeries such as Dimpflmeier, and drive them to places like Syracuse and Rochester, where the East European communities were smaller but still thirsting for a taste of home. Mike Gauvin also had an amazing cottage on an island near Dorset, and I have wild memories of partying there, especially with Mike and Danny Broderick.

The Bishop family lived just up the street and their kids had the room above the garage as a play area, and that soon became the "fort" and our first band's practice space. Bill Bishop was on guitar and James "Burnsie" Burns was our drummer, I was playing bass and singing, and the main songs we were learning (and performing for friends) were Radar Love by Golden Earring, Takin Care of Business by BTO, Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry, Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones and other mid-1970s rock standards. We were the ultimate garage band and never really learned to play well, individually or together, but we had Traynor amps and a sound system and a light show, so with a couple of beers and a couple of spliffs, the music was alright and we were laying a foundation for many more music projects to come. Bill went on to do sound for The Oh Nos and for Eye Eye, and Burnsie even went along as a roadie on a tour of Atlantic Canada.

Randy Hoffman and Mike Dietrich were living up the street and Jamie McGuinty lived close to Central High as did the Broderick brothers Chris and Danny, and these friends were often all at the same parties as our Maple Ave crew, as were Jenny Dacosta, Chris Byrd, Gina Faratto, Mike Perron, Barb Guersak, (the Kinnear brothers, Mike, Brad and "Pegus") Cathy Smegatta and my close friend, Kathy (nee Bettger) Boscoe.

My mom married a teacher from my High school, Don MacLennan, and we moved into his house at 1465 Moss Glen Road, just behind Mountainside Arena, where I had played hockey for almost a decade. I taught at the hockey school there and tried to make a go of it, even driving into Central High in Don's car, but soon after I turned sixteen myself and James Burns were to share some small apartments, and later Chris Broderick and I had a place on Beach Blvd, an apartment in back of a variety store my dad owned.

I was starting to go to every Rush concert within thirty miles of me, and though still in high school, I was managing Darwin (featuring Bill Wood, Mike Danna, Mike Lalonde and Mark Shannon from Lord Elgin High School, and Tim Clement from Nelson High) and later Interchange (featuring singer Simon Lebovic), 2 of Burlington's better young rock bands at the time.

Mom's new husband was a foreign presence to me and we tolerated each other for a few years and had a few run-ins but it never came to blows; eventually I came to appreciate how much quality he and my mother had in their lives, when they retired and moved to Orillia. On Moss Glen my passion for Rush deepened, and I knew every lyric and lick on each album within weeks of them coming out. Fly By Night was a breakthrough, Caress of Steel was for hardcore fans, and then 2112 set the world on its ear.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joe College autobiography; 1972 and 1973

In September of 1972 Team Canada defeated the Russians and all of Canada was hockey crazy. Mike Sobala and I hitchhiked into Toronto to attend the welcoming festivities at Nathan Philips Square, and though it was bitterly cold, we shouted ourselves hoarse cheering for Paul Henderson and the hockey greats of the era, sans Bobby Hull who was blacklisted from Team Canada for accepting a $1 million payday to jump to the WHA's Winnipeg Jets.

This was also the beginning of my bigger travels, as I arranged a summer trip with Sobala and Brian Bishop, and we hitchhiked to Fort Erie (where we inadvertently camped in the shallow rough of a fairway on a golf course just across the road and down a bit from Fort Erie Racetrack) and Port Dover. Brian Bishop would also visit New Brunswick and PEI with my family one summer, and his twin brother Billy was the guitarist in my first band, and later the soundman for The Oh Nos and Eye Eye.

Joe College autobiography; 1970 and 1971

I turned 13 years of age in 1971, and rock'n'roll was seeping in and taking over my core. Hockey would retain its magic for another few years, but music was pounding in my heart and girls were always on my mind. My family moved from New Street in Burlington to 455 Maple Avenue, close to the Mohawk Canoe Club on Lake Ontario.

During Grade Five and Grade Six at St. John's School on Brant Street, I was very fortunate to have been taught by Mrs. Elizabeth Koteles, and she was the most inspiring teacher I ever had. She taught me to question authority, and to back up my statements with facts, and that was all I needed to really give this life a wholesome, whole-hearted shot. The next year I had Mr. Heffernan and in Grade Eight I had Mrs. Pat Clatworthy, and though they were valued, very professional educators, I had been spoiled by Mrs. Koteles. I remember one year she took us on 8 field trips, to museums, art galleries, Ontario Science Centre, all kinds of great places. For a boy who now lived with his mom and sister in an apartment block, these trips were manna from heaven. and in art class we didn't just paint, we did sculpture, paper mache, collage - she was the best!!!

Joe College autobiography; 1968 and 1969

I've decided to break this down into 2-year chunks up until I turn sixteen, and then we'll go a year at a time after that. In 1968 I remember Pierre Elliott Trudeau coming to Central Park in Burlington, where thousands experienced Trudeaumania firsthand. My dad brought the reigning Miss Canada, Carol McKinnon from PEI, over to our fourplex on Prospect Avenue for dinner. My dad had great jobs and some pretty cool cars too.

The first car I remember was the Studebaker station wagon with the sliding sunroof; this was an awesome car for a kid, as me and my sister used to stand up in the back on nice days, sticking our heads, shoulders and arms up through the sunroof. Then he had a yellow 1964 Fairlane convertible with a black top. When we moved to Burlington he acquired a 1967 Galaxie 500, with an 8-track tape player in it. I remember the Everly Brothers and The Beatles getting high rotation in that car, and the radio was pretty awesome too. I think he had a Lincoln Continental after that, and it was one of the first cars my friends and I had seen that had a phone in it.

More to come...

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