Archive for October, 2011

Liberals: Not Dead Yet

October 31st, 2011
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I wrote this piece in response to Gerry Nicholls assertions that the Liberal Party was done like dinner, to quote a colourful figure from the past. It has been up on Gerry’s Freedom Forum for a couple of days now.

By the way, by “young, energetic new leader,” I don’t mean Justin Trudeau.

Gerry Nicholls says the Liberal Party of Canada is a spent entity. Here’s how his argument runs:

The Liberal Party is based on a single ideology, power. Now out of power for three elections and five years, the Liberal Party has no other base to fall back upon. Where once the Liberals were loaded with talent, now the cupboard is bare, frontline talent so thin the Maple Leafs would give them a run in a best of 7 series.

Furthermore, the Liberals are lined up against a dastardly foe, Stephen Harper, the “Genghis Khan of Canadian politics,” a ruthless player of chess against everyone else’s checkers. Harper’s overriding ambition is to eliminate the Liberal Party of Canada.

I agree with Gerry on these points, and that the elimination of public political funding is a serious blow to the Liberal Parties ability to fight elections and collect entitlement with which to be entitled. However, I think the playing of Marche funèbre on behalf of the Liberal Party is premature.

Can the Liberal Party of Canada rebound?

It is first important to ask, if not the Liberals, who? The Bloc Quebecois seems to be in equally dire circumstances in Quebec, and seems less likely than the Liberals to ever rebound. With almost all of their funding coming from the now defunct $2.00 a vote scam, it seems likely the smart sovereigntist money in Quebec will go provincial. The Bloc, in other words, now that is a spent force.

After the last election I suggested the NDP had a problem. They now have two disparate bases, Quebec and Western Populists. Their western populist base, sprinkled with some union towns in Ontario and the Maritimes is the traditional NDP. The new Quebec NDPers, however, have old school Quebec ideas, i.e. the Federal Government needs to move resources out of the rest of Canada and into Quebec. Here in Ontario we seem to not get that Quebec’s $7 daycare is paid by us (or was, before Dalton McGuinty saved us from paying into Canada’s transfer payment system), but in the west they are very aware of who pays to keep Quebecers happy. The NDP, I argued then, had a tough balancing act:

He (Jack Layton) will also now have to make up his mind on a number of issues where he said one thing on Quebec and another elsewhere, particularly out West. You can’t play two sides of the fence in Parliament. It will be a delicate balancing act, and one if he gets wrong, could be very bad for the NDP next time around.

The juggling act would have been tricky for a skilled politician like Jack Layton, the chances that whoever replaces Layton will be able to hold the NDP vote together for future elections is unlikely. The recent caucus split on the issue of where to build Canada’s new navy ships, a split that runs along Quebec and not Quebec lines seems to prove this out.

All good news for the Liberals. The bad news is, they are in just as bad a shape. They have no funding base except the government, now run by their sworn enemy, they seem out of touch and out of ideas. As Gerry notes, leadership material is thin on the ground.

But they are not dead yet. Here’s what the Liberals need to do to survive. Elect a young, energetic new leader and give him a mandate to win not the next election but the one after.

This leader needs to go from town to town, riding to riding, meeting with Liberals and potential Liberals. They need to shake hands with every person they can, look them in the eye and listen to their concerns and ideas. They need to meet with the leaders of the Liberal party in every riding, talk to them, listen to them. They need to hold rallies, not $350 a plate dinners, and pass around the collection bucket at the end. It doesn’t matter if they donate a toony or a twenty, people must feel like they own the party.

Based on their travels, and listening to the people, the leader needs to create an ethos for the Liberal Party to base its policy on, not just pull policy out of thin air. Every item in the policy book needs to be tested against the ethos, and not found wanting. And the Liberals need to be prepared to let the new leader have an election to lose, to learn from the mistakes, to begin selling the ideas of the new Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party of Canada is, to borrow a phrase, not dead yet. And unlike Gerry Nicholls, I am unconvinced they will not recover. However, they have one chance to get it right, and only one.

Silly Liberals , , ,

Weekend Magazine: Celebrity News

October 29th, 2011
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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Girls, Girls, Lindsay Lohan & Girls Edition

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorThis is news that would shock my mom: Mariah Carey is the only person ever to give birth. At least, that’s what Carey seems to believe. fluff_2_2008

I don’t think I understood the enormity and the magnitude of what it (pregnancy) really does to your body: It’s not just , “Oh, you don’t look pretty and you have a bump”…

It’s difficult to understand what I went through because my pregnancy was very unique in terms of what happened to me.

The jaw drops.


…my sister is a multibazillionaire, and I’m homeless…

Madonna’s brother, 55 year old Anthony Ciccone is homeless in Michigan, after losing his job at his father‘s winery. This, apparently, is all Madonna’s fault.

I’m no fan of Madonna, and I’m usually ready to blame her for almost any of the worlds woes, but if you can’t keep a job at your own father’s winery, if you are a 55 year old man who uses the word multibazillionaire with straight face (he also used the phrase, “a bazillion times”), maybe the problem isn’t other people.

fluffincolorLets see, Mariah, Madonna… who am I missing? Ah yes, Britney.

Ticket prices for Britney Spears Femme Fatale show in Birmingham are being slashed. Originally prices at $88, they are now going for $48 on the website Rumour is, over half the seats are unsold.

Says a Live Nation spokesman:

Offering a deal on Groupon is not a reflection of the quality… of the show.

No, having Britney Spears on the stage is a “reflection of the quality of the show.” All the rest is just business.

fluffincolorDemi Moore, trying to save her marriage to perrenial tool and man/child, emphasis on child, Ashton Kutcher, visited him on the set of Two and a Half Men last week.

Lets see, Kutcher’s accused of being a cad who bedded a nubile young woman. To help things along, Moore went to the set of his show, where he plays a cad who beds nubile young women.

I’m missing something, aren’t I?

fluffincolorParole Violation, Shlamole Volation.

I guess Lindsay Lohan wasn’t just lying around awaiting judgement on her parole violation hearing, possibly heading back into custody.

Instead, she headed over to Playboy inc. to have her picture taken for the magazine. The magazine is allegedly paying Lohan $1-million for the shoot of Lohan in nothing but her… well nothing.

Meanwhile, over at FleshLight inc., makers of sex toys, they want in on the action. They are offering Lohan $1-million to launch her own line of sex toys. Included in the offer is a request to make a mold of Lohan’s – ahem – VIP room, to make an “authentic,” Lohan sex toy.

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In Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario…

October 26th, 2011
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daltons-ontarioThe Premier’s word is as good as his economy

Dalton Dalton Dalton, Economic Fundamentalism

The True Cost of the CBC

October 24th, 2011
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So you’re the CBC and your under pressure to justify the $1.1-bilion taxpayer subsidy you receive. How to ease the pressure? How about, you turn the tables, and re-invent accounting for the people putting the pressure on.

Thus, Quebecor media, who is trying to hold the publicly funded CBC to account through legal access to information requests, actually received a $333-million subsidy themselves, according to the CBC. As Brian Lilley reports:

…when Quebecor bid on and won the right to set up a cellphone network in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, it received a $333-million subsidy…

CBC President arrived at this amount by claiming that we would have had to pay that much more to the government had Bell, Rogers and Telus been allowed to bid.

Leaving aside Lilley’s argument that paying $555-million is a strange definition of subsidy, what the CBC are talking about is opportunity cost, and it can apply both ways.

What is the opportunity cost of the CBC?

Well, that $1.1-billion is after tax money, what the CBC keeps. Forgone taxes, at 28% tax rate (Federal corporate tax = 16.5%, Ontario tax = 11.5%.) is $308-million – approximately what the CBC claims Quebecor got as a subsidy – turning their total subsidy to $1.4-billion.

But wait, that 1.4-billion has it’s own opportunity cost. What if the Government of Canada paid down debt with that $1.4-billion? At 3% prime interest rate, they would save 42-million, compounded yearly on interest payments. Just five years of paying debt, instead of the CBC, we would save $210-million on interest alone, assuming the interest rate doesn’t rise. And since we are borrowing the money to give CBC, therefore increasing our future interest payments by the same amount, we can actually double that money, meaning in five years, with compounding, we can easily add half-a-billion dollars to the CBC bill.

The above doesn’t take into account the effect of removing $1.4-billion from the productive economy to give to the CBC. Some estimates are that leaving the money in the economy, through not taxing it, could have a multiplier effect of as high as 1.5, meaning the cost to productive activity of subsidizing the CBC could be as high as $2.1-billion a year.

So yes, Brian Lilley, the CBC’s comparison of Quebecor to itself is “a load of bull.” However, spreading the load of bull across the whole field, and thing are much worse for the CBC than they at first appeared.

CBC, Economic Fundamentalism , ,

Picture of the Day: On The Vine

October 23rd, 2011
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Copyright Brian Gardiner 2011. Use by permission only

Picture of the Day

The Freedom of Music: One Live Yardbird

October 23rd, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

“Here,” Jeff Beck handed a 50’s telecaster to Jimmy Page. Page had recommended him to the Yardbirds in 1965, and he got the job, his big break. “Thanks for getting me the gig.”sidebar-4

He would stay with the Yardbirds two years, the last six months playing dual lead player with Page before he would go on to create his own band, discovering Rod Stewart and Ron Wood in the process. He turned down the chance to play in Pink Floyd – a gig that would go to David Gilmour – and the Stones after Mick Taylor left. He has played soul, funk, jazz and rock, always based heavily in the blues.

Jimmy Page, on the other hand, would use that telecaster five years later to record his “talk to God” solo on Stairway to Heaven.

A few weeks ago a friend asked if I was interested in going to see Jeff Beck. He was appearing in Kitchener, and he had 3rd row, center stage tickets. A chance to see an living legend from 12 feet away? Yea I’m interested.

So it was I found myself close enough to the stage Wednesday night that I could hear the onstage chatter. Jeff Beck, childhood friend of Jimmy Page, one of the three legendary Yardbirds, superstar guitarist and what Rolling Stone laughably listed as #14 all time great rock guitarists (he’s top 5 on any sane list) was close enough that I could watch his technique in detail.

beckDrive for show, put for dough, is on old professional golf maxim. In the guitar world, it is left hand for show, right hand for dough. As impressive as Jeff Beck is, as interesting as his resume makes him out to be, he’s better under close scrutiny, and it’s all right hand technique.

He controls the volume pot on his white Stratocaster constantly, and has the tremolo bar riding gently under his index finger most of the time. His manipulation of the tremolo bar, using it to create a legato through the melody, is awe inspiring.

But it’s his tone you really notice. He sounds like no one else If God plays guitar, you know he sits around going, “how does Jeff Beck get that tone?” It, and he, really is that good.

Beck is a dual member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as both a Yardbird and solo artist. Jimi Hendrix, it is claimed, lifted some of his best licks from Beck’s Yardbirds playing. And to see him from 12 feet away, there can be no doubting. If your looking for great, not good, guitarist, Jeff Beck truly is one of the best ever.

But don’t believe me: ask God.

Guitar Greats, The Freedom of Music , , , ,

Happy 85th Birthday….

October 18th, 2011
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… where to start with Chuck Berry? Johnny B Goode, possibly the most played song of the rock era? Perhaps my personal favorite, Memphis Tennessee? Reelin’ and Rockin’? No Particular Place to Go? So many songs, so little blog.

Chuck Berry at the Brampton Flower Festival

Chuck Berry at the Brampton Flower Festival

How about we talk about the influence: Kieth Richards idolized him, it was, in fact, what separated Richard’s from all the other London bluesers. John Fogerty quoted him in Centerfield (“roundin’ third and headed for home, it’s a brown eyed handsome man…”). Bob Seger and REO Speedwagon ended their 70‘s concerts with Chuck Berry songs. Back to the Future turned the tables, and inspired his new sound.

Truthfully, it is such a formidable career of great songs and great guitar playing, and while it’s safe to say without Chuck Berry there would be no George Thorogood, the broader truth is, without Chuck Berry there would be a lot less of the music that shaped our lives.

But at the end of the day, it is for inspiring the line in Bob Seger’s Rock and Roll Never Forgets, “all of Chuck’s children are out there, playing his licks,” that I offer birthday wishes. Because I am one of Chucks children, and because it would be so cool to be mentioned by name in a Bob Seger song.

Happy 85th birthday Chuck Berry. And don’t forget to keep on rockin’…

Birthday Wishes, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin' , , , , ,

Picture of the Day: Before the Fall

October 17th, 2011
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Copyright Brian Gardiner 2011. Use by permission only

Picture of the Day

The Freedom of Music: We Built This City on Crappy Synth-Pop

October 16th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Rolling Stone did a reader survey asking what was the worst song of the 80‘s? Here’s how the poll was reported in the Sun newspaper chain:

Starship’s We Built This City has been named the worst song from the worst musical decade in a new Rolling Stone magazine poll.

The 80’s are the “worst musical decade?” sidebar-3

Well, it is if you take it as given that time ended on December 31st, 1989. However, if by decade you are including the 90’s and the recently ended oughts, then it’s hard to see how the 80’s are the worst of it. Put simply, the 80’s, at their very worst, was Madonna. The 90’s and 00’s brought us talent-less diva’s who cite Madonna as an influence.

Since the 1980’s music has descended into a beauty contest with an auto-tune soundtrack. Glee is not the worst offender, it is an inevitable stop on the road, but compare Glee to it’s 1980’s counterpart, Fame, to see how far the music industry has fallen. To suggest  that the 80’s is the low point, and somehow now we are above that decade is delusional. Of course, everyone thought the 80’s music was great in the 80’s, including We Built This City (we also thought Grace Slick’s pink outfit with matching running shoes was pretty cool too). And agreed, the decline began in the 80’s, but it’s been a steady decline ever since.

The Rolling Stone readers survey: Worst Songs of the 80’s:

  1. Starship – We Built This City
  2. Europe – The Final Countdown
  3. Chris De Burgh – Lady In Red
  4. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  5. Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
  6. Falco – Rock Me Amadeus
  7. Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy
  8. Toni Basil – Mickey
  9. Taco – Puttin’ On The Ritz
  10. Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up

I’ll give you Rock me Amadeus, Don’t Worry Be Happy and Never Gonna Give You Up. Awful songs, deserving to be on any worst of list. And Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Mickey wouldn’t be on my list, but I get why there here. The Final Countdown is also worthy of inclusion, but for the life of my I don’t know why.

But seriously, no Madonna songs? No Duran Duran? I could make a credible top ten worst songs of the 80’s list consisting of nine Madonna and Duran Duran songs, plus Paula Abduls, Opposites Attract . But conceding that may be extreme, where is The Beasty Boys/ Aerosmith’s Walk This Way? which is both bad and an abomination.

Here’s a riddle: would Fred Astaire’s Puttin’ On The Ritz make a worst song of the 30’s list? No, I thought not. Yet the Taco version sounds pretty much like the Astaire version, and as we’ve already seen the 80’s called the worst musical decade, this seems contradictory. And if we’re hating songs from that period redone in the 80’s, wouldn’t you vote for David Lee Roth’s Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody? And why do so many people hate Lady in Red so much? It’s a nice song, and granted it gets played too often at weddings, but so does You Are So Beautiful and Up Were You Belong, and nobody is putting Joe Cocker on any worst of lists.

But the two songs I’ll never understand is Safety Dance and We Built This City. Safety Dance was the only song on the list I was completely surprised by: there are people who don’t like this fun little dance song? I can’t imagine what bothers people about it. The words are OK, again a little bit of fun.

We can dance if we want to.
We can leave your friends behind.
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine…

It’s not, “If you start me up, if you start me up I never stop…” I grant you. Musically, Safety Dance isn’t so bad either. Certainly it has some of those cheesy keyboards, but that’s just about every song of the decade. If your going to have a token cheesy keyboard song on the list – and I think you should – I Got You or Tainted Love are much better choices.

We Built This City didn’t just come out #1 for worst song of the 80’s, as voted on by Rolling Stone readers, it came in #1 by a margin of more than 2-1 against the number two song. Is We Built This City rally that bad? Personally, I don’t mind it. It’s a snappy pop song, unworthy of a former supposedly-great hippy band, I grant. But if that’s the criteria, there’s a long list of those bands, and Starship is not the worst of the bunch. There is some suggestion Starship is being punished for a) selling out and b) singing a song against selling out. The band that changed it’s name three times, moans about corporation changing names and playing, “corporation games.” The left leaning readers of Rolling Stone can’t stand the hypocrisy, seems to be the argument, as if left wing readers of Rolling Stone have ever cared about hypocrisy before.

But the readers of Rolling Stone have spoken, and We Built This City is worse than Like A Virgin, Hungry Like a Wolf and In The Air Tonight. It says more about Rolling Stone readers than it does the songs, and what it says to me is, don’t read Rolling Stone.

The Freedom of Music , , , , ,

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral

October 16th, 2011
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I would highly encourage every person that is going top move to at least contact the Canadian Association of Movers.

spiral torontoOK, Det. Kevin Hooper has offered good advice, since calling the police will do you no good when some unethical mover steals your furniture and holds it ransom, at least call the Canadian Association of Movers.

But we now need the city to add, lifting heavy furniture to the long and growing list of occupations they need to licence? How about a law that makes puts the onus on the moving company to prove they haven’t been paid. That way, when the police are called in one of these disputes, they can force the moving company to release the furniture if there is no paperwork. Problem solved.

Of course, the police don’t want to solve disputes anymore, they want to enforce big government.

So, here’s what you really do. First, by all means call the association of movers as advised. Then, stock up your car trunk with baseball bats, and a knife large enough to disable a moving truck tire or 3. Now, when the furniture doesn’t come off the truck, let them be the ones who are screaming for the police.

Toronto: Not in a Death Spiral

Review: Claire London – Like a Machine.

October 16th, 2011
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The world of female singers these days is stuffed full of pretty girls on auto-tune. It becomes a frustrating experience trying to weed through more and more of the same old.

clairelondonalbumcoverThe first song I heard on Claire London’s Like a Machine was Basket Case, a song loaded with soulful blues and a rap bridge. First impression, pretty good. Second impression, rap? Yet Claire London had a rapping style that let her get away with it. Sexy and sultry, Basket Case is a dangerous sounding song.

But the album isn’t all rock/blue/soul in sexy voice. Every other song on the disk sounds like a compromise with the record company, just another generic song in a generic age.

When London breaks the shackles of what female singers are supposed to sound like in 2011, the album soars. It is musically diverse, and she is a singer of rare quality. The slow blues of Another Side, a Cat Stevens style acoustic song, complete with two part vocal counter-play with herself in the coda, super sexy Basket Case, reminiscent of Allanah Myles Black Velvet, with a rap where the guitar solo should go. What if we Started a Fire, another acoustic guitar piece that perfectly blends voice, lyric and guitar. Nowhere at All, London’s voice soars over a piano and cello, creating pure beauty. Their all dynamic songs graced with musicality and vocal prowess.

But Like a Machine has it’s share of weak songs: Color Me, more electronic than musical, Diary of a Mad Woman, Space Queen and Burning Daylight are attempts at a dance music that is nothing more than an average Beyonce or Madonna song, neither worthy of hearing twice.

The weak music in Like a Machine give it commercial potentiality, some street cred on a broken street. But there’s enough of the other to make Claire London’s debut album interesting and worth the listeners time.

In short, when she’s good, she’s very good, when she’s bad, she’s Madonna.

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Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral

October 15th, 2011
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Toronto will become “the biggest pimp in North America”

spiral toronto

It was a secret meeting… a few people were told of the meeting and it was by invitation only.

The “secret meeting,” Giorgio Mammoliti is talking about? One where the “invited staffers” and owners of 25 “massage or body rub parlours,” were discussing increasing the liscences for body rub parlours from 25 to “several hundred.”

Police have said the clubs are a cover for prostitution.

Ask yourself, when was increasing massage parlours and prostitution a ballot issue? If they are going to discuss multiplying the number of these places, shouldn’t you have a say?

Toronto: Not in a Death Spiral

Saturday Fluffernutter: The ‘Please Fasten Your Seatbelt Now, Ms. Houston,’ Edition

October 15th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorYour hitting your 40’s feeling pretty good about life, and it comes at you from nowhere: your much, much younger husband is seen, as in pictures in the paper seen, tooling around town with a gorgeous blonde closer to his own age. pinkfluff Soon the evidence mounts that “around town” is not the only thing he has been tooling. What do you do?

If your Demi Moore, and husband Ashton Kutcher has been caught at a hotel with Sara Leal, you go to a Kabbalah retreat.

Didn’t know there where lawyers at Kabbalah retreats.

fluffincolorI always liked Christina Aguilera, thought she had some talent. But if you haven’t seen the pictures from last weekends Michael Jackson tribute in Whales…

Aguilera, X-Tina to friends, came out in a bodice and fishnets, with hair that looked rather, well, uncombed. Problem is the singer hasn’t maintained her girlish figure, and the outfit is truly dreadful on her.

Remember the TV show Friends, when Courtney Cox’s character would put on the fat suit? That’s the same effect Christina Aguilera has on the eyes, except instead of sweaters, she’s wearing a corset.

She later came out in a suit and looked lovely. But it’s time for some of Christina’s people to explain to her, if you want to look your age, you can’t be dressing like your a teenager.

fluffincolorPresident Obama’s numbers may be down in the real world, but in Hollywood, he’s still The Big O. Case in point, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are hosting an Obama fundraiser on October 24th.

The national Latino gala, co-hosted by Eva Longoria, will be at the actors home. It will target Obama’s latino supporters, raising cash for his candidacy. Tickets for the gala cost between $5,000 and $35,800.

Which leads one to ask, Melanie Griffith is latino?

fluffincolor Whitney Houston fell afoul of the flight crew in Atlanta Wednesday when she refused to buckle her seat belt for take-off. The wording here is, “the singer….became irate when members of the cabin crew insisted she buckle up for take-off.”

From the “doth protest too much,” file, the singers reps said she over-reacted a little bit, but, “she is still 100% sober…”

There’s just something about this story which doesn’t pass the sniff test, but I can’t put my finger on it.

Fluffernutter , , , , , , ,

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral

October 14th, 2011
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Do we really want to see a vote go one way or another because someone slipped out for a coffee?

spiral toronto

This guy just doesn’t get it. If you want a coffee, figure out a way to get a coffee without missing votes, and without having someone else pay for it.

Hear him on Charles Adler to get how much this guy is simply entitled to his entitlements.

I’m one of those lazy, useless autoworkers you always hear about, and I can tell you it’s more than my job is worth to start missing cars because I was off getting coffee. Yet we manage to drink coffee. Surely, as one of our betters, Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak can figure out how to have coffee, and do his job.

Toronto: Not in a Death Spiral ,

The Freedom of Music: Nothing Comes Easy

October 9th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

I slipped out the door at 9:00 last Friday night, hoping I wasn’t too late already. The 515 Concert club is a 15 minute walk, and the doors open at 9, so if there’s a crowd… Earlier my sister-in-law had commented that there was terrible traffic in downtown Hespeler, perhaps, said she, they were waiting for the 515 to open.

sidebar-2It seemed to me it could be so. The 515 is not that big, tickets were not sold in advance, and at $8.00 to see a band as good as Canadian classic rockers Moxy, why wouldn’t there be a good sized crowd?

Moxy started in Toronto in the early 1970’s. Their first album, known as the Black Album because it was black with the block letter logo, isn’t just a good album, doesn’t just have Tommy Bolin adding lead guitar parts to it, it is one of the best albums of the early 1970’s. Not Canadian albums – combined with Moxy II, they are the best hard rock Canadian albums full stop – but overall. In a year that featured the best of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, were Elton John was going by the handle Captain Fantastic, Aerosmith had Toys in the Attic and the Who were writing themes songs for the CSI franchise, Moxy stands up with the best of it.

Their second album, known as the red album because of it’s red cover, otherwise almost identical to the first album, was just as good as the first and had on it a big time hit, Cause There’s Another. Touring heavily behind Moxy II, Moxy’s brand grew and they became fairly big in Canada and Texas (To this day Moxy has a strong Texan fan base).

Trouble was, however, brewing and lead singer Buzz Shearman had both a drinking and a throat problem. Touring for their third album, Ridin’ High, took it’s toll. Within a year Buzz along with guitarist and main songwriter Earl Johnson had left the band. Despite the fact that future Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno, then going under the handle Michael Rynoski, the changes took away the momentum that Moxy had going.

I’ve seen them four times, at my high school with Rynoski singing, and twice after Shearman rejoined the band: at the Canadian Music Festival in 1979 and opening for Triumph at Ontario Place somewhere in the 80’s. At the Ontario Place show the power went out halfway through the set, an impromptu drum solo kept the music going for a couple of minutes until the power came back on, proving their professionalism.

The fourth time was last Friday.

Showing up at 9:15 and fearing the worst, I wasn’t prepared for what was there. Less than a dozen people milled around the bar, and the room where the stage sat was empty. I took up a choice seat, assuming it would fill: it never did and I spent the show moving from seat to seat, getting the best vantage point I could.

Nonetheless, Moxy is still a great band. The rhythm section is one of Canada’s best, Kim Hunt and Jim Samson from 70’s prog-rockers Zon, and guitar duties are being handled by original member Earl Johnson. Singer Russell Graham is a spot on Buzz Shearman, handling his songs better than Buzz himself could by the end of the 70’s. It was, in short, a great show and what a damned pity it is that virtually nobody was there to hear them.

They played all the songs you would think to ask to hear, Fantasy, Sail On Sail Away, Moon Rider, Nothin’ Comes Easy and “Moxy’s Stairway to Heaven,” Cause There’s Another. It was a great show and Johnson is such a good guitarist you don’t even notice that he’s playing two guitar parts all night as a single.

It was a great night of rock and roll in Hespeler and if you thought to go and didn’t, yes, you missed something. But that’s OK, I had a great seat.

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