Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Smoking Guns and Eyes Open Wide


Smoking Gun - Blue Rodeo

FROM MY LEARNED EYES

November 22nd 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the person many believe was the greatest president elected in the United States of America. Indeed it is hard to find anyone who has not heard of John Fitzgerald Kennedy or the Kennedy family. JFK (as he was known) was gunned down as he traveled in an open limousine in Dallas, Texas. Many lined the streets along the designated route taking pictures and home movies, but one became the most watched and scrutinized for it's graphic capture of the moment a life ended. It is known as the Zapruder film because of the camera operator and an enhanced version is included below. 


John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Nov. 1963
The assassination is one of those times that many mark as a life milestone. Do you remember where you were when...moments in time? I wasn't much more than an infant and have no recollection. Yet, I felt a strange connection with the man because his death coincided so close with my birthday. I learned about the events when I came across a book on my mothers book shelves I didn't read it but I flipped it open to put a leaf between the pages as we often did (the leaf is still there). When I opened the book, it was the pictures that drew me. He looked kind and caring and Jacqueline was beautiful in my eye. She reminded me of my mom and I imagined that my dad was much like JFK. Of course where she was concerned the similarity probably had more to do with the hairstyle and the kindness I saw in her eyes.

Over the course of time, I learned more and more about the man who made young ladies swoon and men admire him. But truth is that I knew far more about his death than his life. Admittedly, I got caught up in all the conspiracy theories because the official version of events didn't make a lot of sense and very few articles and programs talked about the Warren Commissions findings of the version of events but rather disputing it. 

The evidence of there being more than one gun is right in front of our eyes and I never saw it until it was pointed out. There is no dispute that Kennedy was struck twice. Once (the supposed magic bullet) that passed through the neck of JFK then the chest and wrist of Governor Connally before coming to rest in his thigh. The bullet was recovered relatively intact. The second bullet struck Kennedy's head and exploded sending skull fragments and brain matter flying. One bullet passes cleanly through another fragments upon impact. Conclusion - TWO weapons. And two guns makes a conspiracy. 


THE WHAT and THE WHERE

So this is how I see it. There were 3 shot fired. There were two gunmen. There was no conspiracy. There was however a deadly accident. 


Bullet casings as found in the snipers lair
Lee Harvey Oswald only got off two shots. Despite there were 3 shell casings found in the snipers nest on the 6th floor, it is quite likely that one of those casings was used as a storage plug to keep moisture our of the weapon. If they were all fired from the same position at the window, all three casings would be in the same area. But as you can see in this photo to the right, two are right below the window and one is a distance away.

The first shot nicked the president and went on to hit the curb and James Tague who was in the further ahead of the motorcade. The limousine was behind a freeway sign and the shot was therefore not captured by the Zapruder film. However this explains why Gov. Connally turned around in his seat. There have been reports of the President holding his neck and saying that he was hit. Contrary to the picture I posted, Tague was hit before the president's fatal head shot. If the bullet that hit Connally was recovered that only leaves a first errant bullet.

The layout of the scene of the crime
The second shot (the so-called magic bullet) was a straight shot made by Oswald that passed through the president and the governor. It surprises me that people still talk about the "Magic Bullet", even the TV show Seinfeld made fun of the theory. Someone put a little common sense to the theory and soon discovered the truth. The bullet traveled straight and true. The governor was seated slightly lower and to the left of the president and turned almost 45 degrees. The Warren Commission seemed to support this single bullet theory but did not explain to the skeptical public how it was possible. Trying to make sense of the nonsensical people turned to conspiracy and the government appointed Warren Commission led to government cover-up. I don't think that there is any way to dispute this single shot fact any longer.

There is no question either that this bullet was fired from Oswalds' Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. This weapon was often referred to as a humanitarian weapon because it was designed to stop a victim without too much damage. 

The third shot was the fatal shot.  None of the bullet casings found in Lee Harvey Oswalds sniper nest in the Texas School Book Depository was of the caliber or type to cause the catastrophic trauma seen in even the Zapruder film. One bullet is designed for combat soldier to be able to have one shot penetrate several enemies. In this case both the president and the governor. The other bullet is meant to scatter fragments upon impact causing the maximum amount of damage to the individual. In this case the head of the president. We don't see this explosive impact with the previous shot.


THE HOW and WHO

Secret Service Agent Hickey holding the machine gun
So where did this shot come from. The Secret Service car travelling directly behind the presidential limousine. Specifically Agent George Hickey. With no conspiracy involved but rather a tragic accident that was followed by an extensive cover-up. Public awareness that the beloved President of the United States was shot and killed by a member of the team assigned to protect him would have had a very negative impact on the perception on the ability of the Secret Service Agency. George Hickey was a new recruit who was assigned car detail (preparing vehicles and/or driving) not protecting the president. Yet, circumstances found him in the follow up car charged with doing exactly that.

Supporting this theory are several often over-looked facts by both the Warren Commission and the public.

  • several bystanders and dignitaries in follow up cars in the motorcade testify to smelling gun powder at street level. Wind conditions that day in Dallas support the source coming from the front of the motorcade and not from above (either book depository or over-pass or even the grassy knoll). 
  • following the trajectory of the entry wound at the back of the president's head indicate the shot came from a lower angle than where Oswald was stationed. 
  • There was an AR-15 machine gun loaded, cocked and ready to go on the floor of the follow up car. This was denied to Warren Commission but later stated as fact by the Secret Service
  • The weapon accessible to the Secret Service agent was loaded with the hollow-point type of bullet that would expand upon penetration and cause increased internal damage before creating a larger exit wound. 
  • George Hickey was never questioned by the Warren Commission but in a statement wrote that he picked up the gun, cocked and readied it after the head shot was evident. Pictures and 11 witness accounts refute this timeline. Witnesses include 7 other agents some of them in the same car.

I really don't believe in a conspiracy theory in that George Hickey or any member of the Secret Service had intended to kill President Kennedy for it would be quite co-incidental or conspiratory for the Secret Service to have the intent to commit such a crime at the exact moment that Lee Harvey Oswald is firing from his 6th Floor perch. Hickey was a relatively in-experienced agent who in his efforts to protect the president after he was hit picked up a weapon, flicked off the safety just as the motorcade sped up knocking him off balance and the weapon went off. Kennedy was for all intents and purposes dead.

It breaks my heart to think that if this the true events of what happened that George Hickey had to live with the knowledge in a silent hell. For would the next Jack Ruby come after him or his family? I don't and can't assign blame for something that was completely unintentional and accidental but the law has terms and labels for that as well. I wouldn't want any of them to be assigned to George Hickey. 

THE WHY

Lee Harvey Oswald - looking smug
Lee Harvey Oswald is a character that despite his actions, still has my sympathies. He was a troubled boy who became a more troubled adult. He was friendless and bullied in part for his unpopular views and political beliefs. He was trying to find some acceptance and notoriety when he set out in this second assassination attempt. Yes indeed, he did make an attempt on the life of General Walker in April of 1963, possibly because he was fiercely and openly anti-communist. It is thought that Lee Oswald would finally find some acceptance among the communist movement. Certainly the only time in his life that he was recognized as important having been interviewed in May 1963 by the media while distributing pro-Cuba literature in New Orleans. 

Oswald wanted to be a part of the inner circle of Fidel Castro's entourage but was denied entry into Cuba. Killing Kennedy could put him in high regard with Castro. Eleven weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, Castro was quoted as saying "Let Kennedy and his brother take care of themselves since they too can be victims of an attempt that will cause their deaths". Perhaps Oswald took this as a challenge. Certainly things fell into place very nicely for him to carry out his deed. 

Maybe today psychiatrists would jump on the crazy train with Oswald and diagnose him with a multitude of ailments. His actions were definitely troubling regardless of what he expected to be the outcome. Did he think he would get away with it as he had eluded authorities with the Walker attempt? In some of the film clips taken after his arrest he certainly seemed cocky and even a little smug. But like Hitler and the German army, there was family left behind that had to carry the burden of his misdeeds. 


The Abraham Zapruder Film enhanced

THE MAFIA CONNECTION MAYBE?

Jack Ruby was a nobody who wanted to be a somebody. Based on what I have read and heard, I think Jack Ruby was as deeply affected by the assassination as the rest of the nation. But his "I'm a big shot" mentality led him to believe that he would be a hero if he offed the man who killed the President. His actions that day would seem to indicate that he did not have intent to kill Oswald. He left his dog in the car while he ran an errand a short distance from the police station. A delay in the transfer of the prisoner Oswald to the jail led to Ruby witnessing a commotion and going to investigate. Oswald appears flanked by police officers and he almost has a smirk on his face. Ruby is incensed and steps out and shoots him at close range, killing him. He is shocked when he is arrested by the police instead of praised and interviewed by the assembled media.

Jack Ruby about to shoot Oswald
Jack Ruby's own cryptic statement "The world will never know the true facts of what occurred...my motive. In other words, I'm the only person in the background that knows the truth." only added fuel to the already out-of-control inferno of speculation.

If the Mafia contracted Ruby to assassinate Oswald to keep him quiet, why was Ruby running errands when the transfer was supposed to take place? Was there somebody in place to then assassinate Jack Ruby to keep him quiet? That would also mean that the Mafia contracted Oswald to kill Kennedy. Then I would have to believe that he was set up to fail and really was the Patsy that he claimed to be. 

But what do I really know about the Mafia and their motives for anything. It's not like I am in their inner circle and privy to information.  I just speak the language and share a heritage.

THE MAGIC BULLET

Because this is so far fetched that I can't believe anybody would buy into it, I share it here. The bullet was fired from 80 yards away and entered the back of JFK's neck and exited cleanly just above the knot in his tie It then stopped in mid-air for 1.6 seconds before turning to the right and entering Connally's back shattering a rib bone on the right side of his chest. The bullet then exited his chest and turned right as if exiting the vehicle but abruptly turned left to hit his wrist and fracturing a bone therein before exiting once more before coming to a rest in Connally's left thigh. 


The path of the "Magic Bullet"

How anyone could subscribe to that theory blows my mind? Was the Warren Commission really interest in finding out the truth or just placating the public? In the span of 10 days the Warren Commission heard from 552 witnesses which translated to 888 pages of information. No doubt, they had their work cut out for them. Without the ability to cross-reference the frequency of corroborating testimony, it is difficult to distinguish the recurring stories to validate fact from fiction. Plus eye-witness accounts are notoriously unreliable and biased. 

There wasn't a dispute that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger with an intention of killing the president. The Commission was charged with determining if there was a conspiracy. Witnesses were questioned to support the accepted theory of events not to investigate for the Commission was comprised of mostly political figures and lawyers not investigators from police departments schooled in the interrogation of witnesses. 

It has been said (and I would tend to agree) that the Warren Commission report was a document of omission. Witnesses with valuable information and insight were not called. Critical testimony was not heard - often written accounts were read by committee members instead. Questions were not asked if testimony was contradictory. Evidence was ignored. There was many complaints that instead of continuing with relevant questioning the subject was changed. 

The only thing the Warren Commission got right was that there wasn't a conspiracy to kill John Fitzgerald Kennedy in so much that it wasn't a planned event. But more than one gun did strike the President and cause his death. The big conspiracy and cover-up occurred behind closed doors of the autopsy room after the announced death of the president.


credit where credit is due:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSBXW1-VGmM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Harvey_Oswald#Kennedy_and_Tippit_shootings
http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Warren_Commission
http://www.sanfordherald.com/news/x2082482323/TAKE-5-Author-Accidental-shot-killed-JFK

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What is it like?

Just Breathe - Pearl Jam

I read a story the other day as I was browsing. It was about a young man looking out a train window and enthusiastically commenting on everything that he saw. The trees, the people waiting at the crossing the sky and the clouds to his father. His father encouraged him and was enjoying his seemingly infantile musings about such mundane things. A passenger who was sitting in the same area commented to the father that perhaps it might be wise to have the boy assessed. The father replied that he had and today was the first day that the boy could see for they were heading home after a successful eye operation. His son had been blind since birth. 

Cute story and written to evoke some compassion and tug on a few heart strings. But the critical thinker would wonder why the father didn't have his head smushed up against the train window along side his son and really sharing his new found experiences. Also pretty bold of the passenger to make such a comment on the presumption of mental capacity - as a parent myself I would probably deck him before I would waste my breath explaining anything to the judgmental fool. 

But, that leads me to my own blindness. My blindness is not my eyes, it's my heart. I find myself over and over again of late asking a seemingly simple and stupid question. I want to know what it's like. 
- What is it like to have a mother who loves you and is/was a part of your life?
- What is it like to put your arms around your aging father?
- What is it like to love someone who is older unconditionally?
- What is it like to those people's eyes light up with love when they see you?
- What is it like to have an older brother or sister? 
- What is it like to have a younger brother or sister?
- What is it like to have family?
- What is it like to have someone be proud of you? 
- What is it like to be accepted and like for who you are? and what you have become?
- and What is it like to have someone love you and want to be your partner to share your life experiences each and every day of your life with no conditions. 

I had it. I had everyone of these things and I don't know anymore. I don't know what it's like. It's been too long. I remember pain, but I forget the love. I forget the hugs and I forget the emotions. I forget the joy and excitement of sharing celebrations like every day successes and Christmas. Weddings were replaced with funerals. Death anniversaries were celebrated - birthdays largely ignored. In my reality, no one ever gets old. Except for that stranger in the mirror. I am not sure if I even know how to love someone else anymore and that includes me. Being hurt so many times by false characters who only saw me as what they could take from me. I am afraid that I don't think I could love. And it hurts to think that after nearly a lifetime of alone, I will probably die that way. 5 years or 25 years that I have left will be spent like today. Like yesterday. Alone.

I was married, I had relationships but I have something that many people don't. I have the recollection of perfect memory. Everything about those early relationships is written down in the form of diaries. And I've been reading them and realizing how stupid and gullible I have been - wanting to be loved so bad, I paid for it. I was involved in a co-habitational situation and so starved for affection in that scenario that I never thought twice of going to a bar, having a few too many drinks and making like I was single. I could cut myself some slack and presume that maybe there was an intellectual spark somewhere buried deep within my brain that knew that the relationship was a use and abuse situation for him. Get what he needs in a financial sense without really giving a shit for me. It's too late to find out know from the horses mouth but I can say that I am glad that I eventually cut ties with him because he really was a loser. That may sound harsh, but in all honesty if I shared half of the details you would agree. But it doesn't say much about me hanging on for as long as I did. Not the right one for me but I thought it was the best I could do. My drunken indiscretions should have told me something but in hindsight guys are pretty quick to latch onto someone they think they have a chance with even for a single night of fun. It wasn't exactly the free love of the 1960's but we were young and thought we were going to live forever. I, of all people should have known that wasn't the case. But an immature brain and what I believe was an unconscious death wish I did a lot to sabotage my future existence. 


Chillout by Ze Frank


Before you rush off and start to cast judgement upon me I wish you knew me when despite it all I was the Grand Optimist with a willing hand to help anyone (even if it was stepped on afterwards) and a ready smile on my face. "Don't you ever get mad?" I was asked so often by the students I worked with. "No, dogs get mad. Life is too short not to be happy." And damn it, for all my flaws (for physically they are the same today as they were 5 years ago/10 years/20 years) I could still be positive about life and the future. For there was no doubt then that I was going to be a part of the future. Now, I am tired and not so sure that I will be fighting to stick around. For today I am still more broken than I have ever been in my life. And instead of people I care about helping me to heal, many of them are closing the door and then locking it. Not that I think they can fix me but a little support and a tiny bit of understanding can go a long way.

And while I applaud all the money and research that is going into such deadly diseases as cancer and heart disease - how about a little more for mental health. Recently there has been more media exposure on the topic and with it awareness but not acceptance. It is not viewed as an illness but an affliction - "get over your depression." We all have times of sadness. Suck it up. We've all had problems and issues. 

But do you know what it's like to know that there is some part of your brain - some wiring schematic - that has broken and you can't fix it. I compare it to the paraplegic who can see his legs there, where they have always been, but no matter how much he tries, they won't work the way he wants them to. The way they used to. That's my brain. I've been sad before but never to this degree. I've had nearly 3 years to try and understand what is happening and why, and try as I might, I can't make the sadness stop sometimes. Like the tides, with time the wave will subside and calm will return. I hope. 

And just for fun and some minimal understanding of the rest of what I was talking about, stop and look at television and media and consider how many references there are to family and relationships. If you are lacking it feels like a little dig. Like a club that you can't be a part of. I'm not alone. God help the person who is overweight for they are deflecting a lot of unkind stares and comments everyday live and through the media. Not to mention all the studies that have been done that has shown that even potential employers discriminate against the overweight when it comes to hiring. Everybody want the beautiful perfect people in their life. But have one strike against you and you are screwed. (I figure I have so many strikes that only if life was a bowling game would I have a chance at success). 

One of the news stations was doing a story in a school about nutrition the other day. They were filming in a classroom of the school. They filled the screen with pictures of belly's that hung over the top of jeans, of legs that barely fit between the seat and the desk that was designed for smaller students. No faces were shown but I felt the pain of the students excitedly turning on the news to see themselves on the world stage and then seeing the part of them that we taught them to be ashamed of. For the reporters commentary was not flattering and every one of those student knew what they were wearing and they didn't need to see their faces to recognize themselves. That compassion hurts me and the sadness flows. I feel their pain and I empathize. What comments did their classmates have the next day? I could tell you because I have heard them when they were spoken to me.  



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honouring the Lives Lost for Freedom and Truth

Pittance of TIme - Terry Kelly

Yesterday was November 11th. Remembrance day in Canada. Veterans Day in the United States.

Yesterday morning I walked down Spring Garden Road toward the cenotaph downtown. It was very humbling to be in the crowds with so many men and women in uniform as we all walked together. Of course, as they walked proudly with heads held high the only thing that stood out for me was my admiration for their selfless commitment - I was beneath them. Attending that service yesterday was the first time I had done so in many years. I have been present for many pseudo-services that were held in the schools in Ontario. There was a time when Remembrance was a day off for school children in that province. But it wasn't a day to sleep in and/or play. We bundled up in our scarves and mittens and prepared to stand in the cold and blistery November day to remember and reflect at the local memorial. Back then, there were a lot of veterans from the two great wars in attendance. Like all Italians, my father did his one year stint in the country's army but as he died when I was an infant, I don't know any stories relating to war from/or about his family. My maternal grandparents sometimes talked about the second world war, but only in the context of being in fear of the Germans taking them to POW camps and my grandfather being arrested/taken away for a time. I don't know if he was a soldier or relieved of duty for some reason since at 30 years of age at the start of World War II I assume he was suitable age-wise. I don't know and I don't know anyone left on that side who might share stories with me. (Mom's family wasn't to fond of Dad's side - and consequently I didn't value their opinion on much). Regardless the point is that with the exception of once hearing my grandfather talk about the sky disappearing in blackness because of the sheer numbers of planes flying over head, I have not heard of personal experiences of war. 

But I have always been emotional drawn to the experience and have some very strong feelings and opinions about it. As I got older and started to read stories and see movies and news stories about effects of war and strife it started to resonate. Canada was a peaceful nation but the advent of television brought the global conflicts into the living room. We didn't just hear about teenage boys jumping the border to avoid the draft, we saw the protests that drove them. We saw the passion they had against the war and we heard the reasons, we sat on our couches and saw the battles and the devastation. There are certain things that I am drawn to that I can't explain,  an attachment that I don't fully comprehend. It has always been that way with Ireland and Scotland - the countries, the people, the music, the history - everything. It's also Nova Scotia. And that is the only one that I have been able to fulfil and that is why this place feels like home - and it always has. But I don't know why - there is no family history of living here etc, that I am aware of. I have my theories but that is another story :) All I know is that I don't have an explanation for the pain I feel for victims of war - both those surviving the experience or never returning from it.

Back to Remembrance Day services. With most of the veterans of the second World War now passed on naturally, there are not a lot of them left to go to the schools and share the stories and it seems that the people who have sacrificed for our country in the name of Peace are being forgotten. Fortunately there is a far smaller percentage of us being directly affected by our country's involvement in Afghanistan, Korea and Vietnam to mention just a few missions that have claimed Canadian lives - but it means that there aren't enough of them to speak at the public gatherings. In the schools, the organization of services falls on the volunteerism of teachers and as some teachers put to me when I asked, there is more prestige and recognition given to the teacher who volunteers to coach a team. Sad really. To that end, where we once had a gathering in the school gymnasium for an assembly complete with speakers, stories (read or re-told), the recitation of the poem In Flanders Field, a lone bugler playing Taps and The Last Post to a sea of often wide-eyed children and young people all wearing the familiar red poppy above their heart as they were told was proper. We now have students sitting at their desk in their classroom listening to a recording of the national anthem, and a canned bugle rendering and shuffling of papers and people in the office during the two minutes of silence. Depending on how the schedule of classes fell - not even necessarily close to the 11th hour. And in the high school if you were on a spare or in the halls - you went about your business, as did most of the office staff. More than once, I sat there disgusted as I watched the teacher at his/her desk continue marking papers, reviewing notes while the students followed their example. In the staff room, no one stopped chewing or talking. No one stood. No one cared.

I care. Too much perhaps. Yesterday's service is the first service in many years that I attended from beginning to end without being escorted out or falling apart. Not that it wasn't emotional for it was, but my heart was lifted being among the many young and old from all factions of the military. ANAVET many had emblazoned on their head gear. Army Navy Air Force Veteran. There were men and women, RCMP, cadets and boy scouts. And as another round went off from the guns at Citadel Hill went off, I noticed the young children who were not bothered by the loudness of the blast from the 21-gun salute. I noticed the many families in the crowd, the teens and the throngs of university students. Their attire (many suits and ties paired with running shoes) and their behaviour exuded reverence. No cell phone ringing/texting was evident, no giggling, talking or frivolity. And I thought, this is what it is supposed to be like. This is Remembrance Day. And it wasn't just in this city, it was the same in every town large and small in every one of the 3 Maritime provinces. Case in point, not far from the city of St. John and the Bay of Fundy, the small town of St. George made the news. A personalized banner was erected along the main streets for some of the towns war heroes. It puts a face to the dead and by seeing the image and the names, the youth got more engaged and everyone wanted to know a bit more about the faces they drove past. They became real people (the near forgotten soldiers) they could be a grandparent or other relative.

  Highway of Heroes - The Trews

The "Hollywood" depictions of war are not always accurate and of course no matter how realistic the images and the story, nothing on the screen can depict the smell of death. Without having been in the bloodied shoes of the soldiers, we can't really know what it's like. But this past weekend (in particular) there were a number of documentaries about some of the battles during the wars where the actual surviving soldiers shared some of their experiences. It was the retelling of the D-Day and the storming of the beaches of Normandy that got me. The sheer number of boats and people that did the "dirty work" and the reference to the few Generals that planned the mission and the deadly calculation errors that were made and cost so many lives. Leaving the "relative" safety of the ships many soldiers jumped into the water to head for the beaches only to drown as the water was still too deep and the gear they carried too heavy. One man spoke of surviving because he had his helmet chin strap securely fastened and a pocket of air inside it brought him to the surface. Planes that were supposed to drop bombs in advance of the soldiers to create craters for some cover were late and there was nowhere on the wide open beach to hide. Then there was the seemingly impenetrable  concrete "pillboxes" that protected German soldiers with narrow windows that allowed nothing but the muzzle of a gun to poke out and mow down approaching enemies. But they were not impenetrable. A soldier standing at the base of the structure could not be seen and with a hand grenade and good sense of timing and coordination the soldier could lob that grenade into the tiny window leaving the Germans within no time to react. In the mentality of war it never ceases to amaze me how one can go from recalling the horror or seeing body parts strewn about the beach to the near elation at storming that bunker to find only the lower portion of a soldier distinguishable among the flesh and pieces of bone strewn about the enclosure. And the thing that struck me was that people of other nations died. Young men and women from the other side died too. No one was safe. One veteran spoke of being wounded 5 times in the first day of the invasion alone. Another gentleman spoke of waking to find his leg missing and then being joyful that he was alive. Or the one who was troubled by finding comfort by laying his wounded body on the cushion of 6 fallen comrades. Another was haunted his entire life knowing that he used the body of a dead soldier that he didn't know as a shield to protect himself before realizing he was dead. And over and over again the sentiment was repeated - kill or be killed.

The Fallen 9000
The above picture is an art project conceived by Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss who paid tribute to the 9000 souls who died on the beaches of Normandy, France by scratching their silhouette in the sand. That number includes Allied and German forces and civilians. It is a sobering and tangible look at the sheer numbers lost in just one battle in one war/conflict. It took two years to pull together the permission and 200 volunteers to pull off the project and the force of the tide to wash it away like so much spilled blood 69 ago. This endeavour was organized to coincide with the observance of the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2013. 

Truth be told, I am opposed to war. And over time that has morphed over to an opposition to organized religion as well. There has been an unacceptable amount of blood shed in the name of religion. My God is better than your God, my country is better than your country. Puts me in mind of a bully. And having faced my share of those monsters - I chose not to fight them - believing they aren't worth it. I'm not suggesting that Hitler (for example) didn't need to be stopped - for he did. His warped and distorted views caused grief and despair long before a gun was raised against his followers. So I wonder, were every one of Hiltlers' soldiers a believer in his philosophy of a superior race or were they drafted and/or forced to enlist and fight in his army? Getting back to that half body in the concrete tomb - he was somebody's son. Is his family in Germany permitted to mourn his lose. We call them the enemy and assign them derogatory terms to justify thinking them less than ourselves. But besides their crazed leader (and a few others) - were they really? I don't think so. If I live or am born in a certain country doesn't mean that I agree with the political agenda or policies. In some places I can voice it, others I can't. Today in our free and peacefully Canada, we often take pot shots at our leaders and suggest that they are certifiable and not fit for command. The way that our federal government is treating many of our veterans today while they line their pockets with tax payer dollars is an acceptable of way of them feeling superior to the "average Joe". 

The bottom line for me is this - This Remembrance Day and those to follow I want to remember all the people that were sacrificed in the name of war. Maybe there was a reason for the conflict but in the resolution many innocent people were caught in the crossfire. And I for one am sorry about that.

I am Canadian and I can speak my mind. Thank you!


I heard a song by this band on the radio recently and decided to search for the video. A band I wasn't familiar with but liking the sound, I listened to a few other offerings. It was a random click that that brought me to this video and I knew right away that I had to include it here. It is less the song and more the commentary before that struck me. People who were supposed to be enemies because they were told that they were. Awful things happen during war. There is destruction and death, civilians and soldiers. But in the chaos there can still shine a bit of compassion that reassures us that there is faith to be had still. And here is the story of two men whose paths crossed as enemies and they became allies and a symbol of forgiveness that I for one needs to know exists in and out of the times of war.

So It Goes - Hollerado

credit where credit is due:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BLUE RODEO - We Churn Out Some Good Musicians in the Land of the Maple Leaf

When the Truth Comes Out - Blue Rodeo
aka: The city mouse and the country mouse :)

The 13th full length studio album was released by my favourite all-time band Blue Rodeo last week (Tuesday October 29, 2013). Of course that number doesn't include live albums and compilations. Pretty impressive still, considering more than a hours worth of new material is released every other year. A review of the numbers adds up like this. 18 releases which include several double (and more) albums while putting out 8 solo projects for Jim (3) and Greg (5) alone. Other band members have also released solo efforts. But it's not their prolific output that draws me in. It's more like, that as with a favourite author you can pick up an old book and enjoy as much or more than you did the first time you read it. No matter how many or few books that author writes you just can't wait to get the next one. The writing style will be the same the characters will change but it feels like an old friend has come back into your life. Blue Rodeo is my old friend. In the good times and the bad time in my life, they have always been there to comfort me with their words and music. 

Alright, I know you can say that about many recording artists but unlike some of the music that is manufactured with a sameness quality that is cookie cutter to fit the mold of a world-wide success formulation, Blue Rodeo steps outside the box and seem to do what makes them happy and in the end, their fans also. Some releases have a decidedly country feel, others more blues and soul but none better (or worse) than the other. With their commitment to travel this country on tour and still continuing to play in smaller venues, they are accessible to the people and the people/fans can relate. It feels like you are going to support an old friend. No disrespect intended with the old reference :) The band was well into a successful career when I saw them for the first time - at a tiny, blink and you'll miss it town that was having a harvest corn festival. The seating was bales of hay on the edge of the field. But what did it matter - one song and you were on your feet dancing and swooning. To me they were mega stars who sang the music of my life. But they were Jim and Greg who sang the music of my life and happened to be very famous. :) 


Photograph by: Pat McGrath, Ottawa Citizen

I suspect that with the early move to New York City to pursue music (and in Jim's case love - in the form of his now wife) there was an intent to make it big in the US market and then conquer the world. But as we know that didn't happen and they came back to find success in Canada leaving their alter ego's the Hi-Fi's and Fly To France in the Big Apple. The 1980's were all about hair and punk, and the mass market machine was not very accepting of their unique sound labelled countrified rock. Especially in the very trendy-conscious New York music scene. 

There was an additional attempt to break into the US market with the release of Casino that was produced to appeal to that specific market. I have read that the concern was the very different vocal and song styles of Jim and Greg being one band. Interestingly, it seemed to work for Paul and John (Beatles) but they really didn't stand out that way until they had established a foothold. I appreciate the differences in Jim and Greg. You can always count on Jim for a love song and Greg for a song with some deeper life meaning. It's not exclusive of course but relationship songs tend to be in the new and exciting stage when Greg tells the story and the maturing, comfortable family style with Jim. Well, that's the way I see it anyways. 

In this country, Blue Rodeo has done well. They have won nearly half of the Juno awards they were nominated for which is unprecedented and includes Group of the Year 5 times. If you know Canadian music, you know that is impressive! Musicians and comedians, we churn out some good ones in the land of the Maple Leaf. In 2012, Blue Rodeo was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The country's capital city of Ottawa may have declared Friday, March 30th 2012 as Blue Rodeo Day, but in my world it is Blue Rodeo Day every day. For not a day goes by that I don't hear at least one song by my favourite band ever. They were given the keys to the city of Toronto, and a star on the Walk of Fame (2009) plus a street in the city will be named after them. Blue Rodeo Drive should be ready for fans and traffic in early 2014. I wanted to live there until I learned it doesn't exist just yet. Can I put an order in for a copy of the street sign please!  

I admire and appreciate the versatility of this band. You never quite know what you are going to get when you unwrap the CD but you can be guaranteed of bliss for your ears. Some of Jim's soft and swaying sound and lyrics that hold and comfort you like an old friend and make you feel safe and appreciated. Some of Greg's deeper and grounded sound that when it hits you, you know you are going for a ride - wild on the roads or deep within your consciousness. Wherever you want to go, Blue Rodeo will take you, it just depends what CD you put in the player. Sometimes it's like a roller-coaster with it's ups and down and curveball twists, sometimes it's like a wave at a sporting event. You know it's coming and you get a lot of joy from the ebb and flow because you are with friends. 


New Morning Sun - Blue Rodeo
"Solo record..." :)

Let's consider the massive discography that has been covered in that 25 year career that thankfully shows no sign of easing up.

1. Outskirts - released 1987 - Try was the first big hit for the band on mainstream radio although they were still considered a primarily county band. This was based solely on their name with the country implications in the term rodeo. Although when I first heard the title Rose-Coloured Glasses, I immediately thought of a country song by the same name. But I was watching MuchMusic and this saucy looking young man singing didn't strike me as any cowboy I envisioned. I was hooked by the sound, words and beat to keep my eyes affixed on the screen. Jim and Greg's harmonies went together like rum and pepsi - smooth and leaving you wanting more. The whole band looked like they were really having fun and enjoying their own music. Truth be told nobody did that better than Bobby Wiseman when he jumped up to the beat while he pounded the keys on the keyboard. It was infectious and I caught the Blue Rodeo fever then and there! 
Many songs for this release were written while the boys were trying to spread their wings in New York City. A YouTube search of my playlist entitled My Blue Rodeo Treasures will astound you with a very raw version of Rose-Coloured Glasses sung by a uncharacteristically dark-haired Greg Keelor in Fly To France (as they were known then). Ah to be young again :) 
2. Diamond Mine - released 1989 - This is one of my favourite releases and not because of what snippets were shared with the public. Two releases: Ballad of Dime Store Greaser and the Blonde Mona Lisa - prompted me to create a video to share my love of the song - and House of Dreams. The record has a more country feel than some of the others with a distinct Blue note. I love where this whole album takes me on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
A little side note about this time in the life of Blue Rodeo. I recently learned that Greg Keelor was a part of another band - Crash Vegas. I always thought that band deserved far more recognition than it received. Have a listen to Smoke...you won't regret it. 
3. Casino - released 1990 - Although there is a very pop mainstream feel to this album, there are a number of songs that I am drawn to over and over again - primarily for the lyrics. Songs like Til I Am Myself Again and Last Laugh. Of course how can you not gravitate to a release that gave you After the Rain! They have done a fabulous job of up-dating this but I thought the original was pretty damn good too...with Jim repeating his falsetto "oooh" that we first heard in Try.
4. Lost Together - released 1992 - The title track brought a new batch of followers to the Rodeo and there weren't too many weddings thereafter that didn't feature Lost Together as the first couples' dance if not in the playlist. We all wanted that surreal feeling of being lost together forever in someone else's arms and eyes. Of course the precursor to that should be Is It You! :)
Once again a transitional recording this one due to the loss of Bobby Wiseman as keyboardist. So we hear a lot of slide the introduction of a variety of instruments including violin if the song warranted it and minimal keyboard.
5. Five Days in July - released 1983 - This is the first release that includes a non-Cuddy/Keelor composition, but they make their cover of Rodney Crowell's Til I Gain Control Again their own. On a personal note, there are so many songs on this release that correlate to my own life events, particularly Hasn't Hit Me Yet and Bad Timing. Although it was many years after the release, I was starting a new chapter in my life and driving across the country with kids and belongings in tow listening to some Blue Rodeo when Know Where You Go/Tell Me Your Dreams precipitated a wonderful conversation between the kids and I that meant so much and still does. Gives me warm fuzzies every time I hear it still. 
On the part of the band, this was their most acoustic release and one that they had the most control over. Not caring about how many would sell or if it would they did it almost "devil may care" inside and outside of Greg Keelor's farmhouse instead of in a studio and with only Blue Rodeo themselves acting as producer. This is another one of those lazy Saturday afternoon listens that transports you to that farm with the boys just jamming...and being wonderful.
6. Nowhere To Here - released 1995 - This release is darker in lyrics and the music more morose than anything else the band had shared previously. In fact Jim Cuddy has stated that this is a time when the band was in complete conflict and crisis, even on the verge of breaking up. Returning to the farm to try and recapture the magic of 5 Days was an abysmal failure. I've heard of some Blue Rodeo songs before described as stoned epiphanies. I would characterize this album like that. Head swimming and mellow tunes supporting you in the the background like a cloudy sky with the sun trying to poke it's way through. For all it's difference there is one thing that remains - great tunes like Blew It Again and Sky.    
7. Tremolo - released 1997 - A definite return to the flavour and upbeat sound of the old Blue Rodeo including the uptempo Graveyard which is very reminiscent of the Hi-Fi's style. This is a close running to Diamond Mine as a personal fave with songs like Dragging On, Brother Andres Heart, It Could Happen to You, No Miracle No Dazzle, Falling Down Blue (which features Greg on drums). After the tensions of the previous release, they were re-grouping and learning to like and respect each other again even if they were walking on eggshells to ensure that no-one was offended or off-put in the recording process. According to one source, it was the first release to hit #1 in the country charts. 


Falling Down Blue - Blue Rodeo
besides the beauty of the song, 2 things prompt me to include this video here, Greg playing drums and Greg in a suit!

8. Just Like A Vacation - released 1999 - A two-disc compilation of live performances from Stratford and other venues. The liner notes in this CD make it a must have in the collection. It is fascinating to hear the band talk about the songs and how they came to be. We all have our own personal experiences that we draw from when we hear music for the first time and that helps us to relate to the words and music. At least for me that is true. I can't tell you how many songs Blue Rodeo wrote about me and they don't even know me beyond a face in the crowd. :)
9. The Days In Between - released 2000 - A very eclectic mix of songs on this release and again a complete u-turn from Tremolo in terms of style and feel. The instrumentation seemed to be the focus instead of the lyrics and doesn't showcase the vocal talents of Jim and Greg that draw the audience in to sing along. Beyond Rage, Greg has stated that he didn't like the songs on this release and so they never play them live.   
Ironically one of the lines in Rage is "You won't remember a word of this tomorrow" and when asked to comment on it, Greg struggles to recall the specific tracks stating that he never listens to it and during one interview he calls it the record the "runt of my litter". Personally if Rage was repeated 12 times I would be happy. Hands down, that song is the strongest in the catalogue for deriving strength and support with a little edge and defiance in the NSW lyrics :)   
10. Greatest Hits Volume 1 - release 2001 - A couple of notes regarding this release. Firstly, After the Rain (from Casino) was re-recorded to include the current band members and a horn section. Secondly, a never before released tune was included and that was a cover of the Bee Gees To Love Somebody. Doesn't qualify as a greatest hit but it sure is a great one. Well done boys.
11. Palace of Gold - released 2002 - Featuring the personal faves Bulletproof and Love Never Lies this record with it's strong influence of strings and brass is a far cry from the countrified rock label that was attached to the band. Much more control was taken by the band in final sound of this CD that was recorded in the bands own brand new studio and produced by them alone.

12. Are You Ready - released 2005 - Tired of Pretending and Don't Get Angry both start with a heavy dark trumpeting solo that quickly gives way to lyrically beautiful songs. There is a sense of return to the Blue Rodeo of the days of old and in several of the tracks I get the sense of relaxing at the farm enjoying nature and life. Somehow, it seems that they have re-united in their shared voices. I can't get enough of I Will and the sense of peace I get from it.
13. Live In Stratford - released 2006 - two disc release. Hard to come by and waiting on the mail to hear this gem. Meaning a little more since I had the opportunity to go to Stratford and listen for myself (albeit a little late for this recording). 
14. Small Miracles - released 2007 - This seems to me to be a very reflective album. Lyrically there is a lot of looking back as opposed to looking forward - a byproduct of aging. But the whole album is still very upbeat and has a strong keyboard sound. Rather than an emphasis on a Greg song and a Jim song there is a lot of harmonization on every song. I like that because just like a left and right glove - one without the other just isn't as warm. Sure in a pinch you can put one hand in your pocket while the other way stays out but they can accomplish greatness when they are together. (Yes, I am glad that they have pursued solo careers while keeping Blue Rodeo alive).   
15. Blue Road - released 2008 - a compilation album with acoustic versions of many of the faves that were recorded at Massey Hall in Toronto plus a bonus DVD documentary. As a special bonus, a throw back to yesteryear a (small) poster for the wall. I love these versions of the songs I know so well. 
16. The Things We Left Behind - released 2009 - The release of a double length album when the trend is heading for single YouTube or iTunes releases was a bold move but for me it was a God send. Going through a very rough time in my life - from the first song to the last it was an orchestration of understanding and support. I clung to each and every word and held on for dear life. From One Night Left in Heaven to Don't Let the Darkness in Your Head I alternately cried and sang. And I love the nod to the Skydigger's in Arizona Dust. 
17. Blue Rodeo 1987-1993 boxed set - released 2012. With the cost and my financial predicament at the time I was unable to pre-order and snag the video bonus which included the unreleased track "Let It Ride" live at the Horseshoe Tavern in 1989 among other video gems. Anyone get it and wanna share or sell? 
I am grateful to the people in my life who love me enough to indulge my passions. This set is a fascinating insight into what makes the final cut and how it has changed over the years - technology advancements and all. The version of some of the tracks that were included in the Odds and Ends disc are superior (to my ears) than the commercially released rendition. Raw and real! Going back and listening to these re-mastered CD's is magical. The innocence and wide-eyed naivety of youth that has all but slipped through your fingers and left the smile lines behind comes flooding back.
18. In Our Nature - released 2013. I read a publicized review of this record that compared it to a comfortable well-worn denim jacket. I would agree with that analogy in that the sound is the classic Blue Rodeo we have all come to love, however I would add a warm blanket and a cup of Tims' to complete the comfort level of this latest release. The track Never Too Late touches a personal chord since I first heard it live in the spring of 2013. But I gotta say that Paradise is becoming a fast favourite as is You Should Know. In changing over the years and dealing with changes in personal and professional lives, Blue Rodeo has u-turned once more and come full circle to what made them iconic to so many ordinary Canadians (and music lovers everywhere) more than a quarter century ago. This is the perfect blend of Cuddy and Keelor, guitar, bass and keyboard, strings and horns, songs to contemplate and songs to sing and dance to. Beautiful! It almost seems unfair that we get to selfishly keep them within our border - but I for one don't want that to change if it means less small town face time :)


Flying Solo and Members of the Band and Other Media

1997 Gone - Greg Keelor says that his first solo effort never sold and bombed drastically. It was recorded after a trip to India and several life changing events that helped to shape his outlook on the later years of his life and look back with a new east coast viewpoint. I have recently been exposed to this recording and between Home and No Landing (Lucknow) this is far from a failure. It is hauntingly beautiful.  
1998 All In Time - Jim Cuddy is a man in love and his passion is revealed in the songs he writes and sings. He makes you wish that you were in his same position. He makes you wish that he could be that other half for you. His smile is infectious and his eyes draw you in. You know you will be safe. 
2005 Seven Songs For Jim - Greg Keelor is alone in this vocalization of raw emotions and final farewells. I personally have not heard this release but I understand that it is a very moving and deep tribute to his father who passed away at the age of 80 after 6 months of hospitalization after a fall. Are You Ready would eventually become a musically (if not vocally) upbeat Blue Rodeo title track.
2006 Aphrodite Rose - Greg Keelor has lightened up the mood of his songs and there are a lot of tunes here that may not entice anyone to crowd surf but they sure will get your foot tapping and maybe singing along. One of the first songs he ever penned Colour and Rhyme is showcased and it has a very 60's feel. Sounding like it's been recorded in a cavernous space, If You Go really gives the feel that Greg is alone in an empty place after the pictures have indeed been taken from the walls. Love that track!
2006 The Light That Guides You Home - Jim Cuddy spawned a lot of water cooler talk amongst his fans with this rollicking collection of tunes. Many tracks seemed to speak to relationship strife and that was very uncharacteristic. But he was just spreading his lyrical wings, all was calm and we sat back and enjoyed this latest offering. Jim doesn't really stray too far in musical tone from comfortable Blue Rodeo offerings. It's easy for Blue Rodeo fans to get a fix here in between band releases.  
2010 Gunless Official Soundtrack - Greg Keelor takes the official billing for this musical release however, on the DVD and the CD it is more likely to be billed as Greg Keelor and Blue Rodeo. Makes some sense for not only does a track from The Things We Left Behind appear as the credits roll but Jim Cuddy did pen a couple of musical scenes. A long time fan of the work of the star Paul Gross, I knew this would be a must see - it became a must see opening night when I saw Blue Rodeo had a hand in it. The music is great but the CD is a lot more meaningful if you know the movie. Watch the movie - it's highly under-rated and hilarious.  
2011 Skyscraper Soul - Jim Cuddy became a real person to me with the tour he embarked on with this release. I could count on one hand how many concerts I had been to previously, there were just other priorities in my life. But this was a time when the fruits of my labour could sweeten my existence with treats like tickets to a Hamilton show promoting this release. It was a dream come true - first the singing and then the picture and autograph session. One of my idols took the time for me (and a bunch of other fans too). But still - that connection with the fans - priceless!  
2012 Down and Out in Upalong - Greg Keelor recently teamed up with Travis Good (from The Sadies) and Gord Pinsent (an actor and poet) to release this double album of Pinsent poems put to music and sung by Keelor and Good. Then the poetry is set to music as it is vocalized.   

I know that other band member have released solo efforts. Bazil Donovan (bass player extraordinaire) has released Matinee. Bob Egan (pedal steel and multi-instrumentalist) has The Glorious Decline, The Promise and a self-titled efforts to his credit. Under the name of The Swallows, drummer Glenn Mitchum put down the sticks to strum and sing on three albums. They include The Beauty of Our Surroundings, Awkward Situation and Turning Blue. 

This chart represents the evolution of Blue Rodeo in the terms of it past and present members. Colin Cripps has recently been officially added to take over some the guitar role that Greg Keelor has had difficulty with because of on-going ear issues. The addition of Colin ensures that Greg can remain on the stage during live performances. 

According to one source, the band has released a total of 5 video/DVD's. I want to know what they are and more importantly where can I get them. I have two - the one that came with Blue Road and a second that was released as part of a 20th anniversary celebration called Stereovision. Even if this website is up-to-date and one of the five is the pre-order bonus with the box set that still leaves two unknowns....hmmm

I wouldn't consider it a band release, but you can catch a glimpse of the band performing live (in the background) of a scene in the latter part of the 1990 movie "Postcards From the Edge". It seems that Meryl Streep was a fan of Blue Rodeo and requested that they accompany her vocals on "I'm Checkin' Out" which was written by Shel Silverstein. 

There are many references to how Blue Rodeo influenced, affected and were a part of my life. This is not intended to be a completely objective view of the band but a devoted fan of the band wishing to share the pleasures derived in the hopes that maybe you will give them a listen and judge for yourself. For me, this has been a labour of love and something I am proud to share under my banner. Here are links to some other thoughts I have shared about the band in the last year or so

http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2013/06/see-you-down-road-blue-rodeo-in.html

http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2013/05/a-part-of-rodeo-blue-rodeo_26.html

http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2012/04/blue-rodeo-day-at-junos.html

http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2012/02/jim-cuddy-beautiful-soul-with-voice-and.html

http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2011/12/blue-rodeo-more-than-small-miracles.html

There are Blue Rodeo official versions of many of the bands songs for your listening pleasure ("Try" before you buy) on their official YouTube channel. I chose these CBC versions specifically because I own the CD's and I love to hear and see the interactions between Jim and Greg in this informal manner talking about how their music and songs came to be. A little insight into the mind and relationship of Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. And the humour...I love their playful brother-like tongue-in-cheek banter.

One final note: I'll be front and center January 31st enjoying this latest tour! I can hardly wait! See YOU down the road boys! 


credit where credit is due
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/twenty-five-years-later-blue-rodeo-is-still-at-work/article6113343/?page=all
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Rodeo
http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/story.cfm?content=194971
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/Blue+Rodeo+That+familiar+sound/9092914/story.html

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Cracked Sensibility in Toronto or Rob "Is he still Mayor?" Ford

Because I Got High - Afroman

Hey big news world, yesterday (November 5th, 2013) Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto has finally admitted that he used Crack Cocaine...once...probably a year ago...when he was in a drunken stupor. Quite frankly the man has had no choice but to publicly admit to his indiscretions because late last week the police gave notice that they were in possession of the infamous video that allegedly shows Ford smoking Crack Cocaine. But the admission and subsequent apologies to the people of Toronto came in bits and pieces. Initially the incrimination of the video was still denied by Ford until/unless he could see it for himself - although we all saw police video/stills surveillance of shady gas station package exchanges between Ford and a known drug dealer. Maybe it was day-old donuts in that bag? 



During his weekly radio show on Sunday (November 3rd), Ford insisted that the police release the video so that he can see it. He claimed to be unaware that he was ever video-taped - really? In this day and age with "Big Brother" watching all of us and our movements on the street and in the stores as part of a large security sweep, we are all aware that we are being photographed everywhere except perhaps in our own homes and hopefully private spaces like washrooms and change rooms. Rob Ford did apologize for some of the publicly drunken episodes that he had previously denied and promised to get help for his drinking or at least remain sober and professional out in public. Many disappointed people tuned in to hear that he was stepping down as mayor while he sought help for his alcohol problems. He remained adamant that he was elected as mayor and was a good one and intended to continue as one. Amazingly his approval rating went up among the people of Toronto???

The mayor's brother and every present side kick (Doug Ford), dropped another bomb shell when he demanded that the Chief of Police step down because he has a bias against the Mayor. As a city councilor he is overstepping his bounds in making this kind of statement. Chief of Police Bill Blair's comment that he was disappointed when he viewed the video is what has the Ford feathers ruffled - it gave the video more credibility if a person of such high ranking can be disappointed at its existence. The media is not picking on the mayor and neither is the Chief of Police (or the mayor may have had charges pressed against him for any one of his publicly drunken episodes, distracted driving (reading while zipping along the Gardner highway). The mayor has made it abundantly clear that he has a bias against the Toronto Star newspaper however. And as a man in his position, he is very unavailable to the media in general - so they pounce when the opportunity presents.  

Surprisingly, it was later that same day that seemingly unscripted and unplanned the mayor stopped in front of reporters camped outside his office and stunned the media and the public with the admission that he did indeed once in a drunken stupor a year ago smoke crack cocaine. Black outs when drinking are a serious concern, engaging in that type of criminal and dangerous behaviour when drunk is equally disconcerting. We know that isn't his only encounter with over-indulging in alcohol - maybe the other times that weren't video-tapped involved crack cocaine as well and he can't remember. He told the media that he wasn't lying before, they just didn't ask the right question. Semantics my friend and bull shit too! There is video of him denying that he ever used Crack Cocaine - what question was asked that prompted that response. 

With bated breath, Torontonians and late night comedy show hosts waited for Rob Fords' planned announcement that same afternoon. The country and the world hoped to hear that the Mayor would at least step down for a time to deal with his personal demons and addictions before moving on to effectively perform his job. I mean if he can make poor decisions like engaging in criminal behaviour when drunk - how can he possibly be respected as a head of the largest city in the country? But no, the announcement wasn't much more than a stepping stone to his next election campaign and more "sincere" apologies. I have to question whether there would ever have been an apology or admission to either the public drunkenness or use of illegal drugs if the video hadn't surfaced? With countless denials for inappropriate behavior over the years and apologies and admissions only coming with tangible proof I highly doubt it. He is a classic example of only being sorry that he got caught. Is an apology ever enough? Ask anyone who has lost a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver. As to Rob Ford, if you want to dismiss the bad choices of the past as being inconsequential so should the positive be put in that same discarded baggage. His planned press conference of the afternoon of November 5th, 2013 is just another verbal example of Rob Ford's sense of entitlement in the belief that he is above the law! 

Of course between the planned and impromptu responses to the media, Rob Ford called in to a local radio talk show to defend himself but used the alias of "Ian". Not confirmed by the mayor, it is up to personal interpretation but it is suspicious for sure. Certainly fits with the lying, deceitful character of the mayor. Judge for yourself I suppose.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/did-mayor-rob-ford-call-radio-show-claiming-131527399.html

Then there was the media parked at his house who got a snootful of what is presumed to be Rob Ford's dry-cleaning as he used the hand holding the dirty laundry to forcibly push reporters "off' his driveway. You could literally see his blood pressure rise as he used his bulk to move the media away and his voice got louder and his tone angrier. "What don't you understand? Get off my property". There is a fine line as a public figure between private and public life. There is a less fine line between legal and illegal activity. And a lie is always a lie! 

This story is not over. There is speculation of additional video tapes and there may be wire taps released to the media soon. Rob Ford continues to be not a regional or even national embarrassment but he has the whole world laughing. And not as a brilliant Canadian comic like John Candy or Leslie Nielsen! 

For more information on this story - according to me:
What is the Price of Life? and The Rob Ford Follies
http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2013/06/what-is-price-of-life-and-rob-ford.html
DownsizinDownsizing an Upsizing World
http://pinkpantherfancanada.blogspot.ca/2012/05/downsizing-upsizing-world.html


Credit where credit is due:
ca.news.yahoo.com
The Toronto Star
Theo Moudakis - editorial cartoonist