Thursday night Willie Nelson and I spent the night together. He was on stage and I was in Row 13 at Massey Hall. Precious memories over-flooded my soul last Thursday making me 15 and 55 at the same time. Willie's music is the collective psyche and when he passes his songs will be heard in the night sky.
On any given night in Canada, 30,000 people are homeless. These are people -- men, women, and families -- who are unsheltered, in emergency shelters, or in temporary "provisional" accommodations. The report also notes that as many of 50,000 Canadians may be "hidden homeless;" those who are staying with friends, family, or relatives, but it can be difficult to gather correct data for these instances.
I had the pleasure of speaking with photographer David Jay about his ever-evolving The Scar Project (acronym for "Surviving Cancer Absolute Reality"). David's photographs are striking. Then I got an email from David last fall alerting me about Facebook's decision to ban photographs from The SCAR Project from being posted on the Fan Page.
After missing an entire season of soccer, I am worried about the large scale effect this could have on a whole generation of Sikhs living in Quebec if they are not allowed to play a sport due to their religious beliefs. Sports is a great way for children to socialize and make new friends, and it has been a great tool for integration.
If the whites in Quebec who are donning blackface are claiming to have no prior knowledge of the practice, how and why exactly are they coming to partake so frequently in its disturbing revival? Are some commentators then claiming that some white people are born with an inherent desire to spontaneously paint their faces black to stereotype, dehumanize, and ridicule the physical characteristics of their fellow citizens? Most people are intelligent enough to deduce that blackface is a popular form that you no longer tend to see on TV or in film anymore for a reason.
I suspect most great writers are also terrible writers. It all depends what you show people. I think this is the key to beating the empty screen. Because it's the pressure that kills, right? The urge to write the next great novel, or make a boatload of money with scandalous, (un)literary smut, or prove what a deep, deep thinker you are. The pressure is too consistent to ever get anything done. So, yield to mediocrity, accept that the next word you write is likely going to be the wrong word and keep going anyway. The real worst case scenario isn't that you might write something bad. The worst case scenario is that you might write nothing at all.
Rob Ford has chosen to imitate an ostrich when it comes to questions regarding "the video." He has buried his head in the sand. It's a lousy strategy, highlighting only his ability to run away from trouble. It's not leadership - it's panic. And it's especially sad when he had so many options open to him. Instead, he ran away and hid like a scared, petulant child. And it's this complete and total lack of leadership that has doomed him. At this point, it doesn't matter whether the video is real or not - the electorate has seen their Mayor as someone who clearly cannot handle dealing with a rough situation when the chips are down.
Cannes is a mega-soup of getting physically, and at times emotionally, lost. Sitting areas exist, but you cannot sit in them unless you are having a meeting, which leads to folks perching on stairs to dig through the program to find another movie to see since the one they just stood in line for for an hour for ended up being full.
The best way to deal with a blank page (or blank screen) is to simply not have one. Asking how one deals with a blank page is a bit like asking how one deals with an Ed Hardy thumb ring or a pinstriped fedora. Just avoid that whole landmine by not ever having one. It helps to have a backlog of ideas -- more ideas that you could ever possibly need or turn into finished stories. I keep a text file of half-baked ideas to develop should I ever get some spare time -- and some of them aren't half-bad. Be riddled with ideas. Sodden with them. So many ideas that you start to gag just in describing how many ideas you have.
If you are reading this, I am dead. How's that for a lead? Guarantees you read on, at least for a bit. After attending George Gross's funeral in 2008 I half-facetiously remarked to the Toronto Sun's deputy managing editor, Al Parker, that I had been around so long that no one was left who knew me back then, and I had better write my own obituary. "Good idea!" said Parker with more enthusiasm than I appreciated. So here it is, not exactly an obit but a reflection back on a life and a career that I had never planned, but which unfolded in a way that I've never regretted.
In the aftermath of the deadly Bangladesh factory collapse, Loblaw has been admirably vocal about its plans to compensate victims' families and to make checking the structural integrity of factory buildings part of its future audits of suppliers. But the interesting part of this story will come in a few months, once the news cycle has moved on from the disaster in Dakha. Will Loblaw have the fortitude to get out there and remind us all of the disturbing incident in order to update us on the details of its follow-through? Or will it be content to let its customers' thoughts of the collapse quietly fade away, as they are bound to do?