RTJ on Father’s Day

Two little voices were on the phone at noon to wish me a happy Father’s Day from PEI where they are helping get the house ready for sale. They gave their gift in calling after my morning nap, required after a visit from my pal, now a teacher in Scarborough, Arthur (aka Art, Uncle Artie, RTJ or Tree – depending on the era of our now 22 year old friendship we are describing and the number of ales having been tasted.)

We started Kings together in 1981, he suffering from the bad luck of sharing common keys with our room, the room Wugg and I shared in Chapel Bay. Safety second!Suffered in having us from time to time creeping in, lifting the bed where he lay between drunk and hung to two feet off the floor, dropping it as we screamed “wake up”. Rather than wallowing in glory days, we we toured the downtown pubs Merchant McLaim, Pilot House and the Kingston Brew Pub and talked about soccer, family and, well, some old friend talk . Home by taxi at a sensible hour watching a MLS game on Fox Sports World. Highlight – smoked cod battered and fried at the Pilot House with a Guinness.

Photo above: Not us but still… two at the Brew Pub to be admired for their foresight.


I am listening to WBZ radio 1030 AM here on the east end of Lake Ontario with pretty much the same signal strength I had most nights in PEI. WBZ is the oldest licenced station in North America operating now for 83 years. They claim they are heard throughout the continent east of the Rockies – which is probably true given they have a 50,000 watt licence and a clear channel without competition. Don’t judge the station by its terrible web site.

Paul Sullivan [who sounds exactly like Ray Romano except for a total lack of “duh, I dunno” schtick on Everybody Loves Raymond (they never asked me) that drives me nuts] hosts the 10 pm to midnight Eastern show following David Brudnoy – a Phd talking in the town where Harvard can be found – who starts at 7 pm. Both in their own way stake an interesting place in the talk-radio world as both are rightist libertarian without being republican right-wing a la Limbaugh. Brudnoy, for example, was merciless on the Clinton administration but not in the banal coarse way in which most US talk radio was – he was offended on principle. By way of contrast, one of the few real US liberal voices on any talk radio is Lovell Dyett evenings on the weekend. He also has the best voice on radio anywhere, making James Earle Jones sound watery and thin.

What is amazing to me is that the CRTC can’t block access to whatever radio waves on the AM band float over the border to be caught by a $9.99 Radio Shack transistor special. In Canada, we live in a veritable cultural police state when it comes to the control of access to television signals on the grounds of protecting Canadian values. If those nasty US values are conveyed by audio, somehow they don’t count.

Heck – on a good night you can hear Cuba on 600 Khz from most of eastern North America most nights on your car radio, especially in winter. Viva the old tech! Viva the low tech! Viva radio libre!

First Things

Why are first things so interesting to us? I had no idea that hack was a 1920’s invention at MIT for a gag or prank or that, as we learn in page 41 of the 9 June 2003 New Yorker, that hip-hoppy scratchity records was invented in 1975 by a guy, perhaps only later called Grandmaster Lester, trying to not listen to his mom.  I have been both attracted to these firsts of information but, then, suspicious of them, too.  Blame book learning.  In Gogol’s Dead Souls, one Russian’s Dante’s Inferno, the first layer of human vanity we encounter is in the person of Manilov, the personification of the superficial, of whom Gogol writes:

…never did these projects pass beyond the stage of debate. Likewise there lay in his study a book with the fourteenth page permanently turned down. It was a book which he had been reading for the past two years! In general, something seemed to be wanting in the establishment.

Another GrantThat danged 14th page. I haven’t read that passage for 20 years and that is to me that has always been the little, dangerous knowledge. I learned about Gogol from Yuri Glazov who, along with George Grant, were the first really bright old guys I ever met. Both taught me a few courses at Kings and Dal in the early 1980’s and, for all their depth of understanding, could still spare the time: laughing with the ideas of a far too drunk kid over a cheese tray, Glazov holding his night’s one Ten Penny in his slavic mitt, me holding eight in my gut; Grant stopping when walking the dog to ask about a cold fall soccer practice, ciggie ash trailing down his sweatered belly.

Another GlazovThey were too bright to be interested in any kind of heated discussion with me – they were happy to listen to kids who get B’s, make small talk at the Capital Store. I recall each man laughing a lot, which was good. Not only as they really weren’t part of the mild, shallow elitism there at King’s then, though some fawned, but as each had suffered to some real degree personally and professionally for their thoughts – Glazov in the Soviet Union when rejecting his faith in Communism, Grant for standing by his deep but somewhat homey understanding conservativism and Christian faith devoid of what we would call conservative Christianity today.

The New Peace Is War

Aside from all the run-of-the-mill “surprises” about what has not been found in Iraq, what happened to all those virtually identical Saddams? I thought the place was rotten with them. If they found one, how would they know it wasn’t Saddam? If they found one, wouldn’t somebody squeal thinking they got the real one?

Or have they secretly rounded them all up and have a building somewhere with 157 identical guys in it. Wouldn’t that be weird to guard? Would you say “good morning” to someone when you couldn’t be sure that you hadn’t said it to the guy already?


While I think writing on a weblog about others who do so is possibly the lamest thing I might do on a Sunday morning, I have to say that Ian Williams is on fire. His recent use of photos, his generous sharing of both personal political opinion and his prescriptions for meds on top of his daily writing routine are all something I admire.

I write here to write. Ross said to me it exposes something about a need for attention and he may well be right. There is also, however, something about the exercise of writing in itself. For me, Ian makes that something work.


Some of the best writing I have ever read on the web is that of A.A. Gill, the restaurant reviewer in the Style section of the Sunday Times of London. I had stopped reading it for the last few years due to the paper’s use of a survey blocking immediate access to their site. I found him again today without the required layer of personal data extraction.    Gill’s most recent review contains the following passage:

A good cheese trolley was driven by an authentically Japanese-ish person. Now there’s no reason why a Japanese shouldn’t be allowed to drive French curds without supervision, except that the Japanese think fermented milk is more disgusting than licking hospital sheets.


[I am going to find my saved copy of the text of his article on being “heterogay” from the late 1990’s and link to it here later.]  Later. I have found it and I am renewed.


I was delayed on my drive to work this morning by a parade of soldiers in battle fatigue marching up Princess Street past Market Square here in Kingston. D-Day ceremonies. It reminded me that when I was a kid in the early 70’s, Dad’s church in the Annapolis Valley still had WWI vets. In Scotland I would visit my great-uncle John Dobie who had delayed shell shock from his time in the trenches. I have a postcard photo of him in his battle kit from 1917. Later, when I was in highschool, the D-Day vets were my buddies older uncles all in their late 50’s having a Ten Penny waiting for their burgers to be ready on a Saturday afternoon on the deck. Now – 59 years after that day – they are in their early 80’s and fewer and farther between.

Dad once told me about meeting a guy in a nursing home in Dartmouth in the late 80’s who was Nova Scotia Highlander in Normandy. [I think of him as Buddy MacDonald as over 37% of all Nova Scotia Highlanders were actually called Buddy MacDonald.] On the first day after Juno Beach, the lads who Hitler apparently referred to as “the Ladies from Hell” had advanced so far against the SS that they were told to halt to let the rest of the Allies catch up. His position was actually dug in beside the Germans line and he could see that the Germans troops were in their mid-teens. The officers were beating them with rifle butts to keep them to hold where there were. The beatings got worse and worse over 24 hours. Buddy couldn’t handle it so when a particularly nasty and very high ranking officer showed up and threatened the cowering kids in grey, Buddy put a bullet in his temple. The German line collapsed and the Allies advanced. Reminds me who won the war. The Buddies and Ivans and Tommies and GIs. Think of one if you see one.

Owen Sound

On the road writing from the Owen Sound Library here on the shores of Georgian Bay. Not as grand a trip as this or this but you do what you can.It’s grannie-in-law’s 87 and, as she has been a mad hockey fan since before she attended the opening night of Maple Leaf Gardens, it is a good time to be among the caring and knowledgable given Ottawa’s loss of last night. Mrs. Penny is a cousin to Ken an Dave Dryden [1st,R1], Murray Murdoch [3rd], Andy Blair [1st] – who got her Leafs tickets throughout the 30’s – and the Syl Appses Sr. [2nd], Jr.[2nd,R1], III [2nd,R2]and the up and coming Gillian [2nd,R2] all via the one but mi’chty Dryden clan [of which Peter Rukavina is a member and suffers from my fifth cousin in law status.] EP knows her stuff.

Owen Sound is as perfect a small city as I have ever seen. A park in the middle where the river splits the town. A small working port with a car ferry to the North Shore of Lake Huron. A diversity of churches including a corner lot for the Christian Scientists where formerly Lutherans and Temperence Unionists met. An OHL team and a great farmer’s market where I should be now buying asparagus for the pahtay.

PS: Did I tell you she and I did B-52’s on the night the Blue Jays won the World Series?