May 24, 2022



I remember the first time I saw Active Dog at the Windmill.  I was Transfixed by the mesmerizing Bill Shirt- my birthday brother, one of my favorite front men of the day.  LOVED the camp slam classic Downtown cover, where tongue firmly in cheeks, Active Dog extolled the virtues of exodus.

We all escaped our suburban hells and went downtown

Where all the lights are bright


Everyone’s waiting for you. 

My heartfelt thanks to Bill Shirt (Scherk)  - Patron saint of the suburban rats.

Out on the Frontier by Los Popularos    (I can’t make out all the words, but these jump out:)

Out on the frontier

Machines are screaming in my ear

I’ve come to lend a hand 

To save this wretched land

It’s easy being happy these days

Life’s like that

Everyday the scene is the same

As we work we look up 

Nothings clear

A message comes and but you can’t hear

The hopes alive

A promise dies

And you smile 

If this link works, you can hear

May 23, 2022



All the young girls love Alice.

Old men too. 

Even old men named Alice. 

Last night I went down a rabbit hole, a genealogical rabbit hole.  I know friends who have researched their history and families and genealogy, and I have always had a vague interest in learning more about my family. 

My family, my direct family, i.e. Mother, Father, siblings, always seemed to NOT want to know about family.  We rarely discussed relatives, except to hear my parents speak of brother or sisters who they did not get along with, or infrequent remembrances of their upbringing, stories about my grandparents, cousins.  It’s not that we didn’t talk about them, we just didn’t really talk about them much.

As a child I was not allowed to go to funerals, as funerals were not for children, so said my Mother.

She would sometimes speak of her father, who died four years before I was born.  He was a customs agent, which was handy as they lived close to the US - Canada border in White Rock.  Years later, I would move to White Rock with my wife and daughter, living in my wife’s father’s white house, buying half the house from his ex-wife, and taking care of my father-in-law who was dying of cancer.  

When my Mother was a child, the Peace Arch was built, with the names of the school children in White Rock  and Blaine inscribed inside the arch.  My Mother’s name is in there.  I have always wanted to stop and see this, but in my 64 years, so far I have yet to stop and actually get out of the car.  

Her father had been in the War, First World War I assume, and he lost an eye, so he had a wooden eye, which he would sometimes take out at the dinner table to charm or scare the children.  These are the stories I grew up with. 

My Nana Pete, who’s real name was Helena, why they called her Pete I am not sure, lived with us for  a time.  She was a tall and regal woman, not unlike the Queen, I imagined. Before she came to live with us, we would visit her in her apartment in New Westminster, in the Royal Towers. She would serve us canned strawberries on cottage cheese, and crab or shrimp sandwiches on white bread, and would bring out from her freezer her lemon loaf, which had the densest crumb, and a sweet lemony glaze.  

I was speaking with my second oldest brother the other day, and his wife came on the phone, and she asked a few questions about our family, as she had been doing research into her family.  

When my parents were alive, they gave each of their children a photo album, which had a family tree. 

This was the first real acknowledgement of our genealogy.  There are names but not so many dates, but probably enough to begin a search, if one was so inclined.  My sister- in- law was curious why the tree was a bare as it was of details.

I said, did you know our grandfather on my Dad’s side had a a first wife, before our Grandma Bea?  She died about a year after they were married, around the time of the Spanish Flu. This comment raised more questions about my Grandpa Russ, and his life and brothers and sisters, how his parents died when he was a teenager, and he had to work to support his family as a teenager.  I remember stories of him being called up in the army, and asked to fire upon striking workers, and he refused as one of the striking workers was his brother, and how he was then kicked out of the army.  Since my father was born on Vancouver Island, my assumption is that this incident was probably the Cumberland strike.  

So here I was on Sunday night, just before I went to bed, looking up my grandparents on the internet. 

I found my Grandpa Russ and his headstone, along with my Grandma Bea.  I found my Grandfather Joseph, and my Nana and noted he was buried in Victoria.  Most of these accounts did not mention my own parents, just the grandparents. 

And here is the rabbit hole part…my great-grandparents including my Great grandfather Joseph, same name as his son.  

I have deleted last names here. 

Joseph was born in Royston, Hertfordshire, in 1795. He studied at St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, and upon leaving University became a student at the Middle Temple, London, where he began his legal studies.

He started his career providing legal advice throughout Norfolk, but was soon forced to retire due to fatigue and ill health. He then established a stationary practice at Palace Court, London, but resigned following a dispute with the court.

He was a descendant of a Huguenot family. Huguenots were French Protestants persecuted by their Catholic government in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most, like his ancestors, were forced to flee France. As such, in 1827, He published The Laws affecting Protestant Dissenters. The book was very well received.

It was around this time that He addressed a letter to Lord Dacre, MP for Hertfordshire, regarding the freedom of slaves. While The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, passed by Parliament in 1807, banned trading slaves it did not ban the act of slavery itself. His letter was published and met with general approval, receiving praise in a speech made by the Prime Minister, George Canning, in Parliament.

The publication of this letter, importantly, led to him meeting Zachary Macaulay, a leading figure in the campaign against slavery. Macaulay was the founder and editor of a monthly publication called The Anti-Slavery Reporter and helped establish The Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1823. This became the Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 and still operates today as Anti-Slavery International. It is the oldest international human rights organisation in the world. Meeting Macaulay was his first step into the anti-slavery movement.

In 1827, He joined the Anti-Slavery Society in London and for many years devoted his time and attention to obtaining freedom for slaves throughout the British Empire. He wrote or edited most of the Society’s publications and papers, sat on numerous committees and later became their official legal advisor.

The Slave Emancipation Act was passed in 1833. This legally gave all slaves across the British Colonies their freedom, but it was not immediate or automatic. Instead, there was an interim period of apprenticeships, during which time enslaved people were made to work as unpaid apprentices for their masters. The apprentice was entitled to maintenance and food allowances or, if food was not provided, to sufficient land and time to grow their own.

However, it soon became apparent that the Act was violated and open to exploitation. In fact, claims were made that the treatment and working conditions of apprentices were even worse than those of slaves. He was at the centre of the legal battle to address this and was tasked with collecting and analysing evidence from all sides. He wrote a report called Negro Apprenticeship in the British Colonies.

The subject of black apprenticeship caused strong conflict of public opinion but the Anti-Slavery Society thought the system worked badly and should be abolished. He visited Macaulay to consult his views on what steps should be taken. Macaulay advised Him to take the matter ‘professionally and perseveringly’.

From that time until the final abolition of slavery, He dedicated his life to the subject, collecting and examining documents in an effort to prove the existence of violations of the law. His findings were presented to the House of Commons in 1835 and a Committee was established by Parliament to investigate. He was appointed as a representative of the Society, as was Sir John Jeremie who, unlike Him, had a thorough knowledge of the practical workings of slavery in the colonies. Together they provided sufficient proof of both legal and practical abuses. The investigation was conclusive and Parliament was forced to abolish apprenticeships in 1838, three years before the date set by the Emancipation Act.

After this final liberation of slaves in the British Colonies, he turned his attention to supporting efforts to end slavery internationally. He joined The Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and for the Civilisation of Africa, founded by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Prince Albert was its president. This was the first time royal approval had been given to the anti-slavery cause. He was responsible for writing the proceedings of the Society’s first public meeting in 1840.

By 1841, the Society had organised the Niger Expedition to establish farms, encourage legitimate trade and commerce, and set up Christian missions in Africa. The expedition ended in disaster; the farms failed, many lives were lost from disease and the Society disbanded.

He maintained good friendships with leading members of the Anti-Slavery Society and took an active role in preparing for a second expedition, the civilisation of Central Africa. Following the Niger Expedition, most were unwilling to show support for another. He was one of the few who strongly recommended it and he supplemented the Government grant for shipbuilding, contributed to the expenses of the Society and volunteered to prepare the report. The second expedition was considered a success and its example, aided by subsequent expeditions, was actively applied in various parts of the African continent.

Despite his best efforts, He was not without fault. In his quest to abolish slavery and bring peace to Africa, he believed, like most of western society at the time, that the only complete cure was the introduction of Christianity into Africa. He said in a speech to the Society that ‘the substitution of our pure and holy faith for the false religion, idolatry and superstitions of Africa is, in [the Society’s] firm conviction, the true ultimate remedy for the calamities that afflict [Africa].’ Unfortunately, the Society’s missions led to the eradication of many ancient African beliefs and a forced teaching and acceptance of Christianity.

Since the initial aim of the Anti-Slavery Society had now been obtained they began the examination of colonial law, with a view to prevent further oppression. For this, He was appointed the senior official. He published a pamphlet about the principles on which future free men of the colonies should be governed. These ideas were received with praise by the House of Lords and, with some alterations, successfully passed. Despite opposition in the Commons, which blocked some of its stricter regulations, the Slave Trade Act of 1839 added a lot of security against the inhumane trafficking of slaves.

Following the success of the anti-slavery cause, He was advised to retire from professional life on medical grounds. In 1845, he accompanied members of his family to Italy and from there went on to Egypt and Syria, visiting many of the iconic landmarks in the East. He wrote about his trip in Recollections of Travels in Italy and the East, published in 1850. It was on his return from this tour that He brought to England the water from the River Jordan which, at Queen Victoria’s request, was used at the baptism of her daughter, Princess Helena.

His other interests included antiquities and he contributed various research papers and reports to the Royal Society of Antiquaries and the Archeological Institute. He returned to Royston, taking permanent residence in his hometown again, and made investigations of Royston’s heritage.

In 1852, He made a careful examination of Royston Cave, assisted by his friend, Edward Nunn, who was the curator of Royston Museum at the time. They also partially excavated it. His report was initially presented to the Royal Society of Antiquaries and was later published in his book The Origin and Use of The Royston Cave, for which He is now most famously remembered.

In his book, He concluded that Royston Cave was a Roman construction, built towards the beginning of Christianity, and, at a later period, was used as a Roman tomb. He suggested that most of the carvings and decorations were made later, perhaps around the time of the Crusades, and that it was then converted into a private chapel to which a hermitage was probably attached.

He was subsequently elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London for his historical and archaeological research.

As a character, He never tended to engage in politics directly and generally preferred to maintain a low profile, only entering debate on subjects he felt strongly about. He often refused payment for his work, rarely signed his name to publications and refused two positions offered to him by the Government in recognition of his services to the liberation of slaves. In fact, it was not until the mid 1900s, when his papers were presented to the National Library of Jamaica, that his anti-slavery efforts became known.

With the exception of visits to Europe, He continued to live in Royston until his death. Although he suffered with his physical health, he remained mentally active. After a short battle with bronchitis, He died at The Banyers House on Melbourn Street on 6 June 1866, at the age of 71. He is buried in his family vault at Royston Parish Church.

A rabbit hole is defined as a metaphor for something that transports someone into a wonderfully (or troublingly) surreal state or situation.

As a metaphor for our online behavior, the rabbit hole has an advantage those other fictional portals lack: it conveys a sense of time spent in transit. In the original story, Alice falls for quite a while — long enough to scout out the environment, grab some food off a passing shelf, speculate erroneously about other parts of the world, drift into a reverie about cats, and nearly fall asleep. Sounds like us on the Internet, all right. In the current use of “rabbit hole,” we are no longer necessarily bound for a wonderland. We’re just in a long attentional free fall, with no clear destination and all manner of strange things flashing past.  

Kathryn Schulz the New Yorker

May 13, 2022

Trending higher prior to melting in the rain


Trending higher prior to melting in the rain

 “And the rain came down like a river from the sky

And the ground opened up and swallowed me inside

I went down down down to the river of Hades

There I met the Devil

And he made his way into my heart”

So began a song I wrote many years ago. I recycled part of it in The Judys song A Town Called Hell.

I am reminded of this lyric as I wake at 4:30 to the ringtone of duh-dum, the Law and Order segue, and I look at the weather app, and I see rain in our forecast for the next 14 days, and I am reminded of the “Summer” we had a few years back where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and some guy built an ark and we gathered up all the animals, one by one, two by two, from anteater to zebra, and the feeling of endless rain and my girls have gone on vacation, leaving me with the snoring dog and my own thoughts , which truth be told could drown me if I let them.

“ The world of right is black and white

So says the blonde known as Miss Grey

Remembering a rendezvous

She had that day a déjà vu

What a way to live.

She would stare into the air

Looking into some internal mirror

Trying to adjust her hair

For someone who wasn’t even there

She would look into her lap 

At some kind I’d hidden map

All roads lead to scars, schoolyards and Smokey bars…

And everyone they talk about her

And everyone just walks around her

And  thoughts, her thoughts 

her thoughts surround her

And yesterday they tried to drown her…

What a way to live.”

“He struggled to keep his head above water. When I say water, I don’t mean the vast liquids that cover the planet, or the intimate moisture that is the body.  

When I say water, I really mean time, and memory. 

He has these moments, where putting one foot in front of another is simply not enough.  He is haunted by remnants, shrapnel, shards of song that bubble up from the morass that is his mind. 

Like the smother of mother, farther and father, stretching the lie. 

Or this one: it was overcast. They led them in, the shadowmen, one by one by one, get two, get too blasted in the past. Blast them, blast them, cast them in plastic. 

The math morticians are smiling.

Dead to the world. 

Gulls screaming.

Rats the size of cats scurry, on the hunt for leftovers. 

He pulls over to the side of the road.

It was overcast. “

Endless lyrics run through my mind, my pre-dawn mind.

I need to start my exercises, start my day, Friday, end of the week, that last squeeze before one wipes and flushes. Hours fly by in the dawn, in the time before light fills the sky.

Not like the hours between 8 and 4:30, which grind, bone against bone, metal on metal, there is a danger of sparks leading to combustion, in flames, inflaming just by naming the clock watching, by giving it a name and letting it breathe, we call it depression, because as the fingers press into the yielding flesh they leave a mark, an impression. It will bounce back, it is not scarring, but flexible, human, a celebration really of plasticity, of the opportunity to remake, remodel, a lump of clay.

Are we ready for my closeup, Mr. D. Mills?


May 11, 2022

The Land of Likes

 “ I wonder sometimes if I’ve become too strange. I wear the same shirt for days. I’ve forgotten how to speak aloud. I mutter and mumble and forget that words have consonants. I forget where the sentences start. I forget they can’t hear my thoughts. ”

Lauren Hough - Bad Reads Substack 

I have been back to work for over three months.  When I was  off for three months of work, it felt restorative, as in restorative justice.  Three months back in feels like a relapse.  My office, which I chose, is right at the front of the building.  I see all who come into the office first. Not directly, as I don’t face the door, I can see the front desk from the window in the wall that closes in on me.  I can see reflections of people as the come into the lobby.  I can hear their voices before I see them.  Hello? Is there anybody there? 

We have had receptionists, and we have lost receptionists over the years.  I forget all their names.  I half remember a skit from a comedy show, perhaps Kids in the Hall, where the new receptionist is called Jane 2.  They are always Jane, names interchangeable, it doesn’t matter, you won’t really get to know them.  Young women on the road to another job, shifting like the sands in an hourglass, so are The Days of Our Lives.  

Like that daytime soap opera from days gone by, everything is falling into place.  Or is it?  Is it just falling?  Did he jump or was he pushed?  Honestly, I’ve never met someone like them before- one of kind- is that what they say when I’m gone, or it is more of  you must be Dennis Two.  We are all replaceable.  Interchangeable parts, cogs in the wheel, sounds like …….

Everything is broken is more like it.  Broken English, fractured fairy tales, shards of dignity, how low can you go?  Lower than you think.  

I’ve been reading lots of Substack lately.  If you are not in the loop, Substack is the new self publishing platform for writers.  Readers can read content for free, except some content is for subscribers only.  You can subscribe for as low as $5 a month.   But that $5 can add up pretty quick if you follow lots of authors.  Who should I be a patron for, who gets to read only the free stuff?  From the writer’s perspective, the many people who subscribe can add up to an independent wage.  It’s simple math. It’s a relationship, simple.  It’s simply computing, compiling, consensual, and full of content and contempt. 

We live in the land of likes, in a world of followers,  in the time of subscriptions.  Hits and misses. Thumbs up and Thumbs down.  Two thumbs up.  Ricky and Pete! 

That’s a private joke as we watched what I recall was a horrible movie from Australia called Ricky and Pete, which had garnered the coveted Two Thumbs Up ( Siskel and Ebert).  Whenever we would watch a clunker it was Two Thumbs Up- Ricky and Pete. 

Give me a break. You deserve a break. Gimme five. Get down and give me ten.  Gimme gimme gimme. 

 It seems quaint to actually own something, or someone.  We are just rentals. Overdue rentals. 

I introduced loyalty cards to the bakery that I managed almost 22 years ago.  I was far from the first to do so, it was common practice, a gimmick but effective. It worked.  People like free stuff. They like recognition.  They love likes. 

In those days, it was early enough.  People’s  wallets were not full of the things.  Wallets got so full of loyalty cards, that some swapped the cards out for phone numbers.  “ I can’t possibly have room in my wallet for all those cards.”   Phone numbers are far easier to manage.  Who can’t remember their phone number?

In the old days, we remembered lots of phone numbers. Today we can remember only our own.  And don’t get me started on passwords. And pockets. It’s a senior’s life of pockets and passé words.  

Scan my forehead.  Read my lips.  Just look in my iris and know me.  Really know me.  Like Sally Field’s famous acceptance speech. 

You like me.  You really like me. 

May 7, 2022

I’m Wide Awoke, Wake up Sleeple!


Woke up at 1:20 after going to bed at 11:00, a full 140 minutes of slumber, as I heard my 14 year old terrier “ getting busy” in the other room, trying to get out of the glass door to the balcony.  My wife gets up and I assume she is letting her out, and she confirms such, but I continue to hear the terrier’s frantic scratching at the glass and fake wood floor, accented with a moan that either means she had to poop, or that there is an animal outside, and she is intoxicated by the pheromones. 

So I get out of bed, put on pants and shoes and take her out for a walk.  I remember to put on my glasses,which coincidentally I had forgotten that previous morning, getting into the car and realizing I had no spectacles on, when I am required by law to have said spectacles on.  I had walked out of the apartment without them. 

But for this early morning walk, I had my vision and my mask for the elevator ride, and walked out the front door with the frantic pooch.  The air smelled like wood burning somewhere close, a humid and warm spring air, redolent with that after smell of char.  Maisy, the terrier in question, as opposed to questionable terrier, is losing her sight, but has an intense sense of smell.  She is after all a ratter, by nature, and her nose is rarely far from the ground,  She is teaching me at age 64 to be patient, a quality quite foreign to me, as she is increasingly more tentative in her movements, unless SQUIRREL!  Squirrel trumps all other smells.  A month ago my wife, Michelle, let’s give her a name as well, was walking Maisy when SQUIRREL! And Maisy took off running, poor Michelle barely keeping up with her, and all the while the leash choking her a bit, as she goes about half a block, and collapses near the side of the  road, her eyes stunned, her tongue hanging out, as still as if she were dead.  Michelle proceeded to give her mouth to mouth ( how that exactly works I can only imagine) until she comes back to the living, and Michelle carries her 25 lb dog all the way home in her arms.  Awhile later Maisy is fine, having survived her excitement and blackout with the reset only dogs can approximate.  

This evening or morning rather, at 1 something it is hard to know or care what exact time it is, Maisy is sniffing and walking slowly, getting deep into the taller grass that is so fashionable these days. I keep following her with the leash, ducking under branches around trees, along the distorted sidewalks of my neighbourhood, until somewhere mid- block she stops.  It is so dark I cannot see what she is doing.  Pooping, perhaps, but I realize I am without cell phone, which has the flashlight feature, so I cannot even pick up whatever she is leaving, if she is leaving anything at all.  No, I will have to come back again the daylight and survey the scene. 

We finished our truncated journey, and return to the apartment, Maisy is calmer, so I assume she did in fact have to poop, and hence the rationale for the moaning.  I fall back to sleep until 4:30, when a dream or my cold feet or my dear Michelle’s snoring wakes me again.  I normally am up in the late “4’s” or early 5’s, so I get up, and put my headphones on and begin my cardio exercises.   I finish about 5:30, so let’s take the little stinker out for a proper morning walk.  I am listening to the new Sharon Van Etten, which is kind of dreary to be honest, and Maisy is stopping suddenly  and jerking the leash and giving me the stink eye, so I keep resorting to lessons learned in a few Akido lessons, which is when meeting resistance, to go with the resistance as opposed to engaging in further resistance.  It works to some degree, and the walk ends up being a strange mixture of tall grass and concrete steep hills, Maisy keeping to the edges, where she feels safer, and truth be told, rewards her with more “ street food”.  

We try to discourage street food, as Kleenex, and coyote poop and pork bone shards are not really the best diet for a small senior dog, one with more will that sense. My daughter once made me a t-shirt of a drawing of Maisy and the slogan 60% Poop, 40% Anger.  Pretty much sums up my terrier.  What kind of terrier you may well ask?  My standard line is part Scottie, perhaps a dash of dachshund, and part Al Qaeda. 

I return home with dog and make my usual breakfast of two thin slices of toast, one small 7 minute egg, and decaf coffee, and begin the reading of the various writers that I follow on Substack. My latest favourites are Bill Richardson, who has one called Grief, Memory, Three O’Clock in the Morning: My Mavis Gallant Centennial Diary.  Today was the 21st post.  Bill is a distinguished author, celebrity, radio personality who is also a dear old friend, having purchased at one point a chaise longue from him, and he singing The Look of Love with my band Jazzmanian Devils.  

Chaise Longue reminds me of the hilarious song by Wet Leg: 

Mommy, daddy, look at me
I went to school and I got a degree
All my friends call it "the big D"
I went to school and I got the big D
I got the big D
I got the big D
I got the big D
I went to school and I got the big D
Is your muffin buttered?
Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?
Excuse me (what?)
Excuse me (what?)
Hey you, over there
On the chaise longue in your underwear
What are you doing sitting down?
You should be horizontal now
Yesterday was Friday, which is the fifth day of the work week, and my favourite day, in that I get to leave early, and go home to do my Zoom call exercise.  This is part of the hospital rehab program.  There is about 30 minutes of exercise, then 15 minutes or so of lessons.  Today’s lesson was heart failure,a condition I wrote about before in this blog , called
It is about my father, who died from heart failure. So I know a bit about that.  I was listening to the instructor inform us all about heart failure,  then found myself waking up and hour later, only to discover the zoom call had ended about an hour previous, and I had fallen asleep in a folding chair staring at an IPad.  I apologized to the teacher because I get up very early.  Kind of like what happened today.  I had maybe 4 1/2 hours sleep, and not uninterrupted at that.  
So no worry here of being called “woke”, an epithet used by the right and the left to describe the supposed left leaning soft gooey centre.  The Cancel Culture Police.  As we called it in the Eighties, the Politically Correct.  Everyone loves labels.  And no one likes being told what to think or say.  But I find it strange that the Right and the Harder Left use the same language to disparage people who are trying to be a better version of themselves. 
Is it right to call out racism and sexism and homophobia, or is it wrong to make people feel bad when they tell bad jokes, at the expense of others?  But isn’t all comedy time and tragedy?  Isn’t all humour based on ridicule and putting other people down?  Are we all getting too thin skinned or is the issue that people are too thick to see that some words can be hurtful? 
I am not one to lecture anyone of what to say or what not to say, as I have been guilty of putting my foot in my mouth too many times to count.  And I despise sanctimony and piety as well as fundamentalists. But I also believe in the ability of people to change, and the need for the possibility of redemption, and reinvention.
But this labeling cuts across all labels.  Everyone is guilty of being judgey. There are forces that want only to further the divide.  And if we have any hope of survival, it is only to find commonality not division.  There are good people and bad people, and good in bad people and bad in good people.  It is my belief that everyone needs respect and value and humour.   But I also recognize the value of a common enemy, the enemy that brings us together.   
The challenge is:
Who do we hate this week?  
And why do we always have to go to hate?  
Why do we seek peace by declaring war?   
Why did the Sominex people use an Indian man on a flying carpet to advertise sleeping pills. 
And most importantly, why do some people hate raisins so much?