Archive for February, 2010

The Freedom of Music: Rock and Roll

February 28th, 2010
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

A few weeks ago I was on about the resurgence of the LP, this week I’d like to take a moment to whine about an LP I can’t find. Canada’s Social Code has a new disk “Rock ’N’ Roll,” available in the usual ways, CD, iTunes, various illegal download sites.sidebar-4 It is, however, almost the perfect disk for LP release and yet, that’s the one format I haven’t found it on yet.

Rock ‘N’ Roll. That’s the title. It used to be that meant something, something more than barre chords, 4/4 time and a shuffle rhythm. As kids we listened to rock, but we believed in rock ’n’ roll. In Kiss’s seminal live album, Kiss Alive, Paul Stanley asks the Cobo Hall audience, “Do you believe in Rock and Roll.” It wasn’t corny, and the audience cheered. “Then stand up for what you believe in,” he answers them back. As if rock ’n’ roll is freedom, or killing Nazi’s or women’s rights or peanut butter (sorry, that‘s clap your hands). The thing is, was, we did believe in rock ’n’ roll in the same way a person believes in freedom and civil rights. We believed rock ’n’ roll was more than music, it was a movement.

While it was a movement, it was also very personal. We didn’t just listen to music, we loved it. It breathed life into our being. It “moved our soul,” and as such we accepted it as important. In a world of pre-packaged disposable everything, including music, I miss that. I miss the feeling that music is important, that it can affect the world. I still listen to a fair bit of rock ’n’ roll, but in a world where the Rolling Stones have sponsored tours, the Who play the Superbowl on Prime Time TV and Bob Dylan is like a Rolling Stone only in so much as his music is also available for advertising, I miss the idea of Rock ’n’ Roll.

Note the quotes above. Rock ’n’ roll “moved our soul.” The quotes are from the title track to Social Codes Rock ’n’ Roll album. It’s a ballad in the old style, acoustic guitar with a running bass line melody, a cello, and one guy singing his heart out. Not in the academy style of a well trained voice, but a from the testicles, gut it out style of singing from rock ’n’ roll’s old school. And it speaks volume about what’s missing, what’s wrong with today’s music.

I like it stripped down raw and naked,
A Little Peace of your Heart I’ll take it
Turn it as loud as it will go

I don’t want it packaged neat
I don’t want it bought and sold
Don’t play it safe it’s time to lose control

I’m Gonna’ kill my television
Nad burn my radio
I want something that will move my soul
I want rock ’n’ roll

Let’s set these city streets on fire
Strike a match and start a riot
Burn it to the ground with rock ‘n’ roll

The battle stopped my ears still ringing
I miss the sound of sirens singing
The tattoo on my heart says rock ‘n’ roll

Wonderful stuff. And at the end, when he quietly moans “Where did you go” a couple of times between choruses, it‘s spine tingling. Somebody out there, somebody with a guitar, a microphone and a record deal gets it.

The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: Pen for Penn; Palin Week on Network TV; Whitney Croaks; Lance Jumps the Cat; Andrew Koenig – 1968-2010

February 27th, 2010
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorActor “extraordinaire” and hot head regulaire Sean Penn could be facing up to 18 months in jail for assaulting a photographer last October in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. This is Penn’s umpteenth altercation with photographers and he spend 60 days in jail in 1987 for assaulting a photographer. melissa-glick-warhol-fluff-for-webOf course, in 1987 he was 26. Now at 49 he should know better than to go around kicking people. The fact he doesn’t means he should spend more than 60 days in jail, and if I were the judge he’d see the full 18 months he’s entitled to.

fluffincolorIt’s Palin week on the networks as former VP candidate Sarah will be guesting on NBC’s new relaunched Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday. Meanwhile her daughter Bristol will play Bristol Palin on an episode of  The Secret Life of an American Teenager about teenage pregnancy. The episode will air sometime in the summer.

fluffincolorWhitney Houston is working on her big comeback, trying to revive a career derailed by a bad drug habit and a worse marriage. She was in Australia for a series of concerts this week, but things have not gone as planned. The concerts have been panned, Houston described as “croaking through the show,” took a twenty minute break after six songs. All this would be excusable in the past, but we all know tickets were over $100 a piece, and for that kind of money people reasonably expect a professional performance.

Australians aren’t new to letting performers know when it isn’t good enough. Last year they complained bitterly and demanded refunds when Britney Spears was discovered to be lip syncing during her Australian tour.

fluffincolorCelebrity Tweet of the Week: @lance Armstrong Back from a nice/easy 4 hr. ride. Well it was nice til that cat decided to run right in front of me and I go ass over bandbox.

fluffincolorAndrew Koenig – 1968-2010

Actor Andrew Koenig, who played Boner 425_koenig_andrew_growingpains_lc_022210on the 1980’s sitcom Growing Pains disappeared in Vancouver on Valentines day.  He was due back in Los Angeles on the 16th, but never appeared. His body was discovered this Thursday in Stanley Park, death by what appears to be suicide. he was 41.

One can only offer heartfelt condolences to his family, including his father, actor Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov on Star Trek.

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Stephen Harper’s Gordon Brown is a Big Mean Bully…

February 23rd, 2010

I never got the criticism: Stephen Harper is a bully. What does that even mean? He steals Stephane Dion’s milk money?  

Stephen Harper is a high achieving individual and as such, is in all probability somewhat difficult: demanding, intense and impatient of fools no doubt. But there is nothing unusual in that. They are all common traits in those who are achievers, they expect much from themselves and no less from the people around them. Furthermore, Harper is a politician. You attack your opponents before they attack you.

Plotting to steal Barack Obama's milk money.

Plotting to steal Barack Obama's milk money.

 That’s how it is played, that’s how it has always been played. From Machiavelli to Chrétien politicians are aggressive with those who want to take their power from them.

Working for high achievers, especially in the political domain, can’t be a picnic but as working for the Prime Minister’s office is itself a high achievement, one would imagine an office filled with aggressive career people who can take crap when it falls on them. If you can’t take the heat, presumably you would get out of the kitchen. And do we really want people in high power, high pressure positions who can’t take it?

People in those high powered positions, however, seem completely unable to take it, at least in present day Britain. It was revealed this week that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a big mean bully who treats his staff shabbily. While Downing Street denies this, the National Bullying Helpline has come forward to say they get calls from the Prime Ministers staff. The astounding thing is, this is being treated as “Gordon Brown: bad guy.” They set up a hot-line so 12 year old boys can call and complain “Scott Farcus makes me say uncle,” and the Prime Minister’s staff, the people tasked with running the once great Britain, call and complain about their boss.

I’m trying to imagine Winston Churchill on a bad day. The Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of his city last night, hundreds dead, docks in flames and he’s not happy. “Goddamned Hitler,” he yells. “That Son of a Bitch Goering.” He takes off his bowler hat and throws it at a hat rack, missing the rack but nearly hitting the secretary in charge of purchasing anti-aircraft ammunition.

“He’s a big bully,” she whispers to the secretary responsible for securing bricks to rebuild the hundreds of houses that disappeared the previous night. “I’m going to call the Draco Malfoy hot-line.”

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Saturday Fluffernutter:Elton Finds Religion; J.K. Rowling Finds a Lawyer; Doug Fieger – 1952 – 2010

February 20th, 2010

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorIn an interview with Parade magazine, Elton John angered Christians by stating that Jesus Christ was:

…a compassionate super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.

US Christians are particularly angry, claiming labelling Jesus a “sexual deviant” is akin to labelling Elton John “fashionable.”

fluffincolorOther little know Elton John religious facts:

-Elton played Candle in the Wind at Jesus’ crucifixion, changing the words to Goodbye, Jesus. Dude

-A recently discovered first draft of an english translation of the bible refers to the holy trinity as The Father, The Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy.

-John the Baptist also wore powder blue track pants.

-On Halloween 1517, Martin Luther posted a scathing review of the previous nights Elton John concert in Wittenberg on the church door. Pope Leo X, an Elton John fan, declared the review a hearsay and ex-communicated Luther.

-Benny and the Jets is about a Super Bowl III party in the Hampton’s with Pope Benedict, who then went by the sobriquet Benny the Bishop.

-A Priest’s vestments were originally modelled after Elton John’s early stage clothes.

-Elton John was due to appear at Jeuruselum-a-palooza in 1095 when he got a bout of food sickness. Fans rioted, causing the Imams of the Caliphate to issue a crowd control fatwa. The ensuing battle was the First Crusade.

-John was only able to escape with his life when the Knights Templar snuck him out of the holy city. They would be his bodyguards for the next 1,000 years for which he signed over royalty rights to his Greatest Hits album.

-Jesus’ sandals were made by Gianni Versace.

fluffincolorBrazilianaire writer J.K. Rowlings is fighting off accusations that large parts of her book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire stole liberally from late writer Adrian Jacobs’ book Adventures of Willy the Wizard – No 1 Livid Land. For her part, Rowlings contends she never even read the Willy the Wizard books, “and besides, their crap,” she said something like in a statement.

The case has been brought by the estate of the former writer, which seems to think there might be some money to be had of the accusations can be found convincing.

fluffincolorGordon Lightfoot was driving to the dentist this week when the report came over the radio that he, Gordon Lightfoot, was dead. He then did what any relatively alive person would do, he called the radio station and disputed the accuracy of their reporting. One thought has bothered me since this happened Thursday: when he was driving down the road and they announced his passing, did he for one fleeting second believe it? Did he think for just that one moment, “and I was having such a good day?”


Doug Fieger – 1952 – 2010.

When you use the term one hit wonder the list is long. There may have been, however, no one hit wonder that was as celebrated or successful in their one hit that The Knack. My Sharona stormed the charts in 1979, an unabashed pop/rock tune when disco and punk were fighting it out for supremacy. My Sharona was number 1 (with a bullet!) for 6 weeks on the Billboard charts.

The Knack’s leader, Doug Fieger, died in Los Angeles last Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 57 years young.

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The Fact Checkers Are Always the Last to Know.

February 18th, 2010

rally20083I know, I know. Blogs. Bad journalism personified. Rumours treated as gospel, no fact checking. Dear God! Most of these people aren’t even professional journalists. Here at, say CanWest Global Media, we fact check. We run stories, not rumours. We are professionals, carrying out a task ethically and with dilligence. And if we say Gordon Lightfoot is dead, then who is Gordon Lightfoot to tell us any different?

Of course, if the story proves untrue, they can always blame Twitter. So I guess “the CanWest News Service” did not “post a report early Thursday afternoon saying Lightfoot had died”?

The picture above, by the way, was from the support our troops rally a few years ago, where I was standing beside him for ten minutes before I realized who it was. I’m glad your OK Gord (Mr. Lightfoot?). And thank you for this:

Update: turns out this was a Twitter rumour gone viral. The composer of the original tweet?

CanWest News Service reporter David Akin.

bad journalism

As Long as They Don’t Wrap it Around a Cigarello

February 16th, 2010

What are they teaching our children? And who put these people in positions of authority?coloured_condoms People like, say Dr. Issac Sobol, Nunavut’s chief medical officer:

Some research in other jurisdictions have shown that flavoured condoms, coloured condoms are very popular with kids.

To be clear, he’s in favour of them. The same guy who comes into your kids school and teaches them about the hazards of drinking water out of the garden hose is heading a campaign to get flavoured condoms to teens

Flavoured condoms? What the hell are they teaching our children?

pimply minions of bureaucracy , ,

While Giambrone Fiddles…

February 9th, 2010

The perfectly calculated, carefully manipulated political career of (TTC chairman) Adam Giambrone just became unzipped.

The Ward 18 councillor and declared candidate for mayor of Toronto has seen his ambition to run this city take a hard turn for the worse after he admitted he had an “inappropriate relationship with a young woman.”

Confronted by the Toronto Star after university student Kristen Lucas spilled the beans about the more than year-long affair, Giambrone apologized to everyone, including the lovely woman found at his side for his campaign launch and his “see, I’m not gay” photo opportunities, Sarah McQuarrie.

What seems most galling, beside the two-timing, of course, are the allegations Giambrone told the now 20-year-old Lucas he’s been using McQuarrie as political furniture on his arm. That it’s “important for the campaign.”

If that’s true, then maybe slimeball isn’t a strong enough term.

The TTC burns.

TTC union president Bob Kinnear lashed out at the members of the public who have been filming and snapping pictures of TTC staffers on the job and his message to them was clear: Stop it.

“Listen, folks,” Kinnear said at a packed press conference at the Sheraton Hotel. “Stop harassing people who are doing their jobs. Stop insulting them. Stop waving your phone cameras in their faces as you get on the bus or streetcar. Stop spitting on them. Stop calling them lazy or overpaid.”

For the record, I am now accepting pictures and videos of TTC employees and will post them. Meanwhile, can somebody at the TTC please tell these complete and utter morons, who obstinately refuse to get it: stop blaming the customers!

graceless politicians, Politicians acting badly , ,

Kicking Democracy When It’s Down

February 9th, 2010
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King Dalton the 1st today deeming the legislature unnecessary to the running of government, the members leisure more important than the people’s business, will prorogue the Provincial Legislature.

The Ontatrio MLA’s, who are currently on an extended Christmas to family day holiday, will appear for a sitting Tuesday where they will be told to go home until after the Olympics.

The Liberal government will duck questions on several issues including the handling of the Caledonia land dispute, including a Christmas holiday announcement that the government settled a lawsuit with a family claiming the police did not protect them. Other questions will include why possible criminal charges against OPP chief Julian Fantino were dropped by a Provincial Crown and why an outside Crown wasn’t appointed to review the charges. Further questions on the Provincial deficit and how the government plans to reduce it, a new all day kindergarten program were costs are spiralling out of control and why autoworkers, partially owned by both the Federal and Provincial government, don’t get Dalton’s family day to spend with their families and watch the Olympics.

Opposition MLA’s will now have to wait until March to ask those questions, causing stocks in democracy inc. to fall dramatically on the TSX. In the coming days facebook groups will sprout up as if from nowhere, university professors will release  a presser demanding this unconstitutional abuse of power be stopped and Michael Ignatieff will hold his breath until his face turns blue, proving once and for all that Dalton McGuinty is a big meany pants who can’t be trusted with power and who is less popular than this cheeto.



By press time tomorrow there will be full outrage at the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, and the rest of the media…

Won’t there? Bueller? Anybody…

Democracy, we hardly knew ye.

Dalton, Dalton Dalton Dalton ,

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral: Transit Edition

February 8th, 2010

spiral torontoFaced with increasing criticism after a spate of pictures and videos showing TTC employees not doing their job, operators at the public transit syndicate have decided to fight back:

This is a group where Operators can give suggestions on how to fight back to the recent photo and video harassment from passengers just looking to make trouble for us.

I work in the semi-real world of a private company with a big union. The previous actions of TTC employees, sleeping on the job, stopping for coffee, going to the bank are all discipline offences. With the exception of the guy who stopped for coffee in the middle of the night and left his passengers unattended, all are minor offences and a verbal or written warning would be sufficient for somebody with an otherwise clean record.

Starting a Facebook page, however, which is dedicated to how much your customers suck, is a fire-able offence. Contributing pictures of the customers sucking is suspend-able (fire-able if the picture was actually taken while you were supposed to be on duty).

Toronto: Not in a Death Spiral

The Canadian Media: Missing the Story Once Again

February 5th, 2010

I am becoming so sick of reading and hearing the Canadian media telling me that it really is none of my business where Danny Williams goes for health care with what is, after all, his money.

Danny Williams, and so many others like him, have spent their political career insisting that you, and I, cannot be allowed to make the same choice he just made. Danny Williams, promoter of Canadian socialized medicine deemed it not good enough for him. For you, it’s too good. For him, not so much.

Lets be clear here. If I wrote an argument on these pages insisting on a private option in my health care, Danny Williams would say I was un-Canadian, that I had health care in my cross hairs. So you see Danny Boy, if I’m un-Canadian for suggesting such a thing, your unfit to lead Canadian’s for doing such a thing.

That’s what this story is about: those of us with some means, but not means enough to hop on a jet and take us to the Mayo Clinic, would like the choice to do as Danny does, not what Danny says.

pimply minions of bureaucracy ,

“It’s Very Scientifically Proven”

February 4th, 2010
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Hey, look who’s been reading At Home in Hespeler:

Toronto Sun – Feb 2010:  Don’t shoot the messenger, even if he is a groundhog.

At Home in Hespeler – Feb 2009: … How else to explain taking a bite out of New York Mayor Michael groundhog-aBloomberg at a weather ceremony yesterday. Of course, maybe he’s just sick of everybody blaming the messenger.

At Home in Hespeler March – 2008: Wiartin (HP) – Villagers of this hamlet east of Owen Sound today formed in a mob and marched to the site of locally famous Wiarton Willy. Carrying torches, pitchforks and snow shovels and chanting “kill the rodent”, the villagers came to demand an explanation of the weather from the local weather prognosticator.

At Home in Hespeler – March 2007: You, Mr. Groundhog, have one week to improve things…
or else…

I’m surprised the Mounties aren’t at my door. |

Since I’ve started this blog I have covered Groundhog/Prairie Dog day every year and the damn rodents have never been right when calling for an early spring. So this line surprised me:

Don’t blame the messenger. It’s very scientifically proven — and that’s just a fact of life

Who settled this science? The IPCC? Were groundhogs mentioned in the East Anglia emails?

Gopher, Prairie Dog

One Heartbeat Away From the Presidency

February 4th, 2010
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“Fiscal Balance is Achievable”

February 4th, 2010

…As long as spending is kept under control.

That’s according to Glen Hodgeson, chief economist as the Conference Board of Canada. Despite what opposition leaders and opposition media will tell you, this makes sense. I was never a fan of the stimulus spending. Became less of a fan as I spent hours this summer in stimulus jams on the 401 as they scraped up perfectly good pavement and lay down other, just as good pavement. In fact, my first post at Gerry Nicholls’ LibertyPost was about the economic porn of stimulus spending.

That said, stimulus spending is by it’s nature, temporary spending. The government created a big deficit by spending on re-facing the 401 and other such useful-alities. Once the stimulus spending stops, the budget should return to normal. the-count_bmpThat is, assuming spending is not increased by, say, introducing a vastly expensive new social program.

The federal Liberals are promising to put a national child-care program at the forefront of the next election campaign and any future government, with leader Michael Ignatieff describing it as a “legacy” item for his party.

“Mr. Ignatieff is making grand promises that he absolutely refuses to cost out, or say how he’ll pay for them,” (Human Resources Minister Diane ) Finley said.

Where will Michael Ignatieff find the money for his new popcorn-and-beer-care? Actually he’s already said where. He has indicated it will take tax hikes to bring the deficit back in line. This is not true, as the economists who met with Jim Flaherty have noted, unless you take the expanded stimulus included budget and consider it the new normal. If your spending doesn’t decrease when the stimulus ends, you need new revenue to pay for all that extra spending.

What we now have is a clear look at Michael Ignatieffs plan. He is going to spend like it’s 2009 by adding daycare to the public budget, and he will blame Stephen Harper for the tax hikes he needs to pay for it.

Silly Liberals, The Count , , ,

At Home in the Senate – Not!

February 2nd, 2010
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper dipped back into the Ontario talent pool and found himself a brand new Senator, Bob Runcimen. Which leads to the question, dear God Stephen, what are you thinking?

Stephen and Harper and I can agree on a few things: Laureen over (Ignatieffs wife) anyday; a Saturday night should be spent playing music, preferably in front of people; the Senate is a largely useless body. We both know Runcimen has an impressive CV, the kind of guy a conservative Prime Minister can use, can find useful. So why render him useless? The truth is if your going to fill a spot that is largely useless, fill it with someone who has been up to this time, largely useless . That’s where At Home in Hespeler comes in.

I’ve stated the case before why I should be elevated to the Upper Chamber. I am a unionized autoworker, a demographic under represented for the Conservatives. A unionized worker, I would add, whom has never had his picture on the front page of any Toronto paper sleeping (although I was sweating the engine line sequence in this movie a little). The movement to have me elevated to the Senate is a populist movement, with a facebook page and several tweets on the subject the past year. The Toronto Star could hardly disparage my appointment after all those, “Harper must listen if it’s on facebook,” columns.

I pointed out before I could play guitar in the Senate band, but I could also back you up, Prime Minister, on a Beatles medley whenever his poll numbers drop. Count Ignatieff goes to University when he needs a boost, we could do a set at Darcy McGee’s. All those people saying you prorogued Parliament so you didn’t have to work, you could say, “hey, I’m working here.” We could finish with Takin’ Care of Business if you want (great piano licks in that). Can Bob Runciman do that for you?

At Home in the senate