The Demotivation Continues

The last few days, I've been remembering back to the time before the The Great Economic Calamity. How simple those times seem even now, only a couple of months later....

We now return you to the world of investor panic and the New American Socialism, already in progress...


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Graffiti is Forever

... from what little evidence we have on early humans,
it seems graffiti has been a civic issue
since just about forever.

long before there were enough Greeks
with enough time on their hands
to talk about things like civics with each other,

humans were leaving hand prints,
drawings, stories...
making their mark, saying "i'm here".
when i look at images of the paintings
that have been found on walls,
the petroglyphs carved into huge stone.

the shapes and lines don't seem all that remote...

it's like they are "humanly familiar",
even if it is impossible for me
to decode the stories in them...

although sometimes i think i get it.

i mean hey... maybe these are interstellar tags.
space punks.

you never know...

i've lived in a city for much of my life,
and i don't drive a car....

between walking the dogs three times a day,
going to the store,

and sometimes even going for a walk
just me, for the pleasure of a walk,
because the sky is so blue,
or the air's that special fresh kind
of clean and sweet
after a couple of days of rain

it adds up to a lot of looking around the neighbourhood
in a week
or a month
-- a particularly useful thing to do
when you live in here, as it's very likely
there's been changes even on the streets
you think you know,

if you haven't been back to a street for 6months,
things will be gone, and something new in their place.
probably a coffee bar
or one of those places that does nails.

so i see a lot of tags and graff,
and i really like it.

these are every bit as humanly familiar
as their predecessors in the caves,
and some of these i actually can decode

so they're talking to me.
sometimes witty, sometimes not,
sometimes pictures, sometimes words,
sometimes just shapes and colours
i love the zooming in the lines of a good tag.
and i always have to read the whole story
if it's there...

and the fact that it's been something humans do
for so long, and that it's such an individualized expression
a person, makes it seem to me
that this urge to make one's mark is very primal,
part of the essence of being human.

i get the same feeling planting herbs and flowers
in the garden... this sense of connection to
the people back through the years who have
planted these same seeds on another spring day.
with the same hopes...

stay tuned for more on this....

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Death, Where is Thy Sting?

There's a lot of nasty ways to shuffle off this mortal coil.

There's also some that are just kind of ridiculous. If nothing else, perhaps these brief tales can be a good reminder not to take oneself too seriously, and make it clearer that it's how we live that counts...

because you never know...when the Grim Reaper turns up beside you, he just might look a lot like Bozo.

Chrysippus, a Greek stoic philosopher, is believed to have died of laughter after watching his drunken donkey attempt to eat figs.

The Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed when an eagle dropped a live tortoise on him, mistaking his bald head for a stone.

The Greek mathematician and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was murdered by a mob by having her skin ripped off with sharp sea-shells and what remained of her was burned.

Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace was stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse. He was hanged, drawn and quartered—strangled by hanging but released while still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts.

William Henry Harrison the 9th President of the United States, died of pneumonia one month after delivering his two-hour inauguration speech in cold weather without an overcoat.

French president Felix Faure died of a stroke while receiving oral sex in his office.

Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee bourbon distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after receiving a toe injury when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember its combination code.

Isadora Duncan, dancer, died of accidental strangulation and a broken neck when her scarf caught on the wheel of a car in which she was a passenger.

In March 1981, Carl McCunn, a nature photographer, paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska to photograph wildlife, but had not arranged for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.

Garry Hoy, a Toronto lawyer, fell to his death after he threw himself through the glass wall on the 24th floor of the Toronto Dominion Centre in order to prove the glass was "unbreakable."

2005: 28-year-old South Korean Lee Seung Seop, collapsed of fatigue and died after playing Starcraft for almost 50 consecutive hours in an Internet cafe.

you can learn more
about Jose Guadalupe Posada,
who by the way never heard of
the the Grateful Dead,
inasmuch as he had been dead
for decades before any of them
were even born, @

and here's an interesting series of covers for a serial on the history of Mexico.... worth going through for both the colour (!) images and the translation of the titles, like
La Matanza de Chulula o Sangre y Fuego, Fuego y Sangre
The Massacre at Chulula or Blood and Fire, Fire and Blood http://libweb.hawaii.edu/libdept/charlotcoll/posada/posadabiblio1.html

more deathly images informed by the Plague
and the Apocalypse from the fabulous Holbein family...


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Nature's Way

Living away from the big city inevitably brings one closer to nature. Now, when I'm up at night writing, or walking around with the camera, I can hear the sound of coyotes and owls.

It's a welcome change from sirens, construction machines, traffic and police helicopters at low altitudes.

I think this new sonic nightscape is also related to the abundance of bunnies in this area. Seems people have set many pet ones free, and in the early evenings one can see them everywhere... which if I was a Mama coyote or an owl would suit me tickety-boo too.


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Alice, Alice, Alice....

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

`Who are you?' said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'

can still remember the effect these words, and most of the rest in Wonderland had on me way, way back when... it was the first time I had ever come across something by an adult that clearly had once been a little kid too, in a world that did not appear to make very much sense at all, but where clearly there were rules and They - adults and even teenagers - knew and I did not.
The fact that they were written by a mathematician at Oxford a century before I was born became a standing lesson in stereotypes and in history.

It also made it very clear that there was more to life than suburban dreams and being an "adult", which even then did not appear to be something most people enjoyed very much, very often.

The first version of the story featured illustrations drawn by Dodson himself, including this one of Alice. Unconvinced as to his own excellence, he would decide to work with John Tenniel, a prominent political cartoonist and illustrator.

There was definitely a dynamic tension to their collaboration. As one might expect, Tenniel's Alice was not the same as Mr. Dodson's. Neither was his conception of the others that Alice would meet in her journeys.

Mr. Dodgson tried to convince Mr. Tenniel to take a more "realistic" approach to the animals and other characters Alice meets on her journeys but to little avail.

They would also argue about size and placement, and whether the illustration was too big, or the text was too long and all the other things that authors and illustrators argue about to this day.
But for all their differences, when Dodson found out that Tenniel was upset by the first edition - because he felt that the images had been printed too faintly - Dodson had as many as could be found recalled and pulped, and the book was printed again.

Now it's impossible to imagine a Wonderland populated by anyone else. Tenniel's illustrations of the White Rabbit, the Hatter and all the others have found there way into the days and dreams of generations of children...
Over a century later, they remain the definitive versions, and most of the interpretations ever since owe much to his vision.

One of the pleasures I find in reading Alice so many years later is that with every passing year, it's clearer just how much Mr.Dodson was drawing on life.
What seemed fantastic and deliciously surreal when I was young reads differently after meeting more than one Red Queen, having taken tea with several Hatters and tried, also in vain, to get the attention of any number of rabbits running behind schedule...

You can download Alice's adventures @

You can have it read to you @

There's a lot of great information - maybe more than you want to know - about the books, the author and the times @

and here's a site that's collected all kinds of illustrations
done over the years by artists ranging from Dali to Ralph Steadman
and some more conventional artists as well @

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Dancing with Light

as the days get incredibly short and nights get very long, long, long on the days before the winter solstice, one thing i'm always thankful for is the coloured lights that people put up... sometimes i do straight documentary photographs of what i think is one of the more beautiful folk arts of our era, some mights take an altogether different flight...


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Canada Speaks Out!

if you admit you know nothing, you have a blueprint for a breakthrough.
Shane Koyczan

Just because the cat had kittens in the oven,
that don’t make’em biscuits.

Nova Scotia folk wisdom

I just think you Westerners should take over this country if you are so smart.
Pierre Trudeau
, Prime Minister

There are few, if any, Canadian men
that have never spelled their name
in a snow bank.

Douglas Coupland, writer

Canada was built on dead beavers.
Margaret Atwood, writer

Man can now fly in the air like a bird,
swim under the ocean like a fish,
he can burrow into the ground like a mole.
Now if only he could walk the earth like a man,
this would be paradise.

Tommy Douglas, United Church minister and Member of Parliament

"If some countries have too much history,
we have too much geography".

W.L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister

Canada is the only country in the world
that knows how to live without an identity.

Marshall McLuhan

Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.
Jim Carey, actor

There's something romantic about being Canadian. We're a relatively unpopulated, somewhat civilized and clean and resourceful country.
I always push the fact that I'm Canadian.

k.d. Lang, singer

Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world.
Sir John A. MacDonald, Ist Prime minister

Canadians can be radical, but they must be radical in their own peculiar way, and that way must be in harmony with our national traditions and ideals.
Agnes MacPhail, (1890-1954) First woman elected to the Canadian Parliament

If you’re not annoying somebody,
you’re not really alive.

Margaret Atwood, writer

Never retract, never explain, never apologize –
get the thing done and let them howl!

Nellie McClung Canadian feminist, Member of parliament

Freedom includes the right to say
what others may object to and resent…
The essence of citizenship is to be tolerant
of strong and provocative words.

John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister

Violence is the quest for identity.
When identity disappears with technological innovation,
violence is the natural recourse.

Marshall McLuhan, 1970.

I never have gone to the James Bay;
I never go to it; I never shall.
But somehow I'd feel lonely without it."

Stephen Leacock

World War III is a guerrilla information war
with no division between military and civilian participation."

Marshall McLuhan

All things conspire to make us one.
Gwendolyn MacEwen, poet

Politics is the science which teaches people
to care for each other.

William Lyon MacKenzie, printer, publisher, revolutionary 1837

Animation is not the art of drawings that move,
but the art of movements that are drawn.
What happens between each frame is more important
than what happens on each frame.
Animation, therefore, is that art
of manipulating the invisible.

Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada animator

For the first time in human history
we have enough power, energy, and ability
to program the entire human environment
as a work of art.

Marshall McLuhan 1966

Our conventional response to all media,
namely that it is how they are used that counts,
is the numb stance of the technological idiot.

Marshall McLuhan 1964

The new electronic interdependence recreates
the world in the image
of a global village
Marshall McLuhan 1967

The dinosaur didn't know it was extinct either.
Marshall McLuhan 1967

Canada appears content to become a second-tier
socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly
about its economy and social services
to mask its second-rate status.

Stephen Harper, Politician, Conservative Party leader

The climate of Manitoba consists of seven months
of Arctic weather and five months of cold weather.

Settler's Guide to the North-West (1882)

How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake,
a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?

Jacques Plante, goalie

"I skate to where the puck is going to be,
not where it's been.
Wayne Gretzky, winger

more to come...

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Crime Speaks Out!

Is it comforting or disturbing
to learn how consistently humans
run to the same pattern
over centuries?

He who steals a belt buckle pays with his life. He who steals a state gets to be a feudal lord.

Chuang-Tzu 300 BCE est

What is the crime of robbing a bank
next to the crime of owning one?

Bertolt Brecht circa 1930

Some will rob you with a six gun
And some with a fountain pen...

Woody Guthrie
circa 1930

The worst crime is faking it.
Kurt Cobain 1990s

And who are the greater criminals--
those who sell the instruments of death,
or those who buy them and use them?

Robert Emmet Sherwood

Successful crime is dignified
with the name of virtue;
the good become the slaves
of the impious;
might makes right;
fear silences the power
of the law.

Behind every great fortune,
there is a crime.
Honore de Balzac


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