Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Folk The G20

Rambunctious played at the Folk The G20 fundraiser for The Molotov Rag and is included in this video. A hot time was had by all!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pattie Walker December 4 studio sale

Please join me and my partner in glass Denise Therrien for a unique jewellery shopping moment .

Denise has studied the global influences of the decorative art of jewellery and glass from the mountains of Mexico, to the hills of Thailand, to the markets of the Middle East.
Her new line of jewellery transforms the earthly elements of gold, silver and silica crystal into bold, pieces of signature artwear. Using her unique glass fusion process of layering pieces of glass, colour upon colour , with flecks of precious metals, she super- heats them and lets chemistry finish the artistic process. The results are subtle, painterly blends of pigment frozen into the glass which splashes the iridescence of a tropical butterfly wing.


Her glass works are high quality fashion accessories, that are one of a kind and hand crafted.
Once the glass pieces are finished, each is set in handcrafted silver settings Fair trade produced by a silver craftsman in the hills of Chaing Mai, Thailand where his family has been working in silver for six generations. The necklaces are strung with semi-precious beads to create a sophisticated effect that is both contemporary and global in design.
The pieces are designed with flexibility in mind and can be adjusted to three different lengths to accommodate different necklines.

A recent completed commission of mine will be on view and a few of my works will be for sale.

Hope to see you:
Saturday, December 4
Between: 2-6
At: 340 Gerrard St East
1/2 block east of Parliament on north side
Private parking lot is front of building

RSVP by email to pattie@pattiewalker.com

Please feel free to bring a friend.

Pattie Walker

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Big Chill: Advocacy and dissent under siege in Canada

Remarks delivered by Alex Neve,
Secretary-General of Amnesty International
Canadian Section (English Speaking),
at the 30th anniversary of the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Ottawa, Ontario

November 18, 2010

There are few values at the heart of any vibrant democratic society more important than the right and the ability to speak out freely, to disagree, and to advocate for differing points of view. It is what lies at the heart of freedom and liberty that underpins democracy. It is what ensures that the level and nature of public debate and discourse leads – in theory at least – to the wisest choices when it comes to making the laws and setting the policies that govern the most essential dimensions of our own daily lives, the types of communities we live in and the place we take as a nation on the world stage.

No surprise then that related human rights obligations have consistently been recognized by governments as core in a wide range of human rights declaration, treaties and other documents --- in particular the three fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly. It is what guarantees that we can voice our views, join our voices together with others, and come together in public to do so.

Governments have come to recognize, as well, that in addition to safeguarding these rights for all individuals there is a particularly urgent imperative to protect the rights of organizations that exercise their rights to free expression, association and assembly to defend the human rights of others. Human rights defenders.

They have underscored the importance therefore of governments actively taking measures to safeguard the work of human rights defenders, working on their own or working in combination with others. In fact on December 10th 1998, marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN unanimously adopted what has come to be known as the Human Rights Defenders Declaration, making it very clear that in any country efforts to better protect and promote human rights should be encouraged in all ways possible.

Around the world, of course, that is far from the case. Brave women, men and young people – working on their own or in organizations small and large; taking action within their schools and neighbourhoods or at national level – press for improved human rights protection every day. They do so by educating, researching, going to court, mobilizing, providing relief and assistance, mounting demonstrations and more. They very often do so on no more than a shoestring budget. And far too often they advance the work at great personal cost – as human rights defenders on every continent, remarkable individuals who should be celebrated and feted for all they do, are far too often instead targeted for arrest and imprisonment, torture, threats, attacks, “disappearance” and death.

Not our reality, right? Of course not. We have long had a dynamic and outspoken human rights community in Canada, at all levels of society, who have taken up a multitude of important human rights causes and, over the decades, have made great contributions therefore to improving human rights protection both domestically and globally. And have done so without fearing whether they might pay for their work with their life, or the life of a loved one.

But there is a growing concern in Canada, friends. A growing concern that the space for human rights advocacy and, more generally, the space to disagree with government on a variety of human rights issues – is shrinking dramatically and with it a nervousness and reticence about speaking out is taking hold. That shrinkage and that nervousness is, admittedly, not a consequence of the sort of violence that human rights defenders in countries such as Colombia, Zimbabwe, China and Sri Lanka face relentlessly. But it does come through measures that are most certainly punitive and vindictive and reflect government coercion to weaken and even silence voices of dissent.

This must be of concern to us all.

And it is of growing concern. As more and more individuals and groups have experienced the impact, or observed it being felt by others, we have started to come together. And we have come together in impressive numbers and from a remarkable array of sectors and backgrounds, many of whom have never before found common cause or worked together. And as the dots have been connected and common themes and experiences begun to emerge, we have come to use some pretty strong terms: dissent under attack, opposition being silenced, civil society under siege, democracy in peril.

- It goes back to 2006, when Status of Women funding rules were changed so that groups advocating for protection of women’s human rights would no longer receive government funding. The impact was dramatic, including the closure of the highly respected National Association of Women and the Law, AWL.

- Soon after, the Court Challenges program was discontinued, cutting off one of the most important avenues by which Charter of Rights court cases have been brought forward by and on behalf of society’s most marginalized and disenfranchised.

- Outspoken heads of important oversight bodies, charged with monitoring and even adjudicating on government conduct in areas where human rights are very much on the line, have felt squeezed out, been fired, or not been renewed in their positions because they have stood up to or disagreed with the government on a number of crucial issues: Peter Tinsley at the Military Police Complaints Commission (while he was in the middle of his Commission’s highly-charged Afghan prisoners hearings); Paul Kennedy at the Office of Public Complaints against the RCMP ( who had been outspoken about such issues as Tasers and the weak oversight powers of his office); and Linda Keene at the Nuclear Safety Commission (who stood up to the government about nuclear safety at Chalk River).

- Government employees who have spoken out and disagreed with the government about human rights and other important social policy issues have been intimidated and derided, and thus many have been silenced. Richard Colvin’s experience in simply telling the truth when he was called to testify before a parliamentary committee has certainly cast a shadow over others. And this summer there was of course the example of Munir Sheikh at Statistics Canada.

- There was the news earlier this year that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has made the difficult decision to close down three offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax because of funding constraints.

- It is over the past twelve months that things have really picked up steam and the impact and the implications began to be widely and deeply felt. It came through a series of seemingly endless arbitrary and capricious funding decisions from CIDA, Citizenship and Immigration, Status of Women and other government departments that have devastated some organizations and left many others in a position of wholly untenable uncertainty about important programming.

- One common thread appears to be a solidifying government policy not to fund organizations engaged in what we would likely consider to be human rights advocacy. The list of groups who have had long established funding cut or near assured funding denied is growing long. Others wait nervously with the expectation that they are likely next.

- It cuts across so many issues and so many communities. Deeply concerning funding decisions have been made or loom that risk curtailing incredibly important advocacy and research work with respect to a number of vital issues effecting Aboriginal Canadians: the National Residential School Survivors Society, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, and the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit initiative all being very troubling examples.

- Then, there is Israel and Palestine. It has become clear that groups, large or small, independent or creatures of Parliament – who in any way carry out or provide financial support to programs seeking to defend and promote the rights of Palestinians, will face government repercussions. It does not fit the government’s orthodoxy that the problems in Israel and Palestine cannot be laid at the feet of the Israeli government. Israel will not be criticized on the government’s dime.

o Some have received considerable media and political attention, such as the alarming crisis that engulfed and has so dramatically weakened Canada’s world-respected agency, Rights and Democracy, created by Parliament. The crisis was triggered by the ideological opposition of a handful of government appointed Board members to relatively small grants provided to well-known Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups. It provoked heated internal battles, in the midst of which the agency’s former President Rémy Beauregard died from a heart attack. Staff have been summarily fired. Others have left in dismay. A new president, who has taken some questionable human rights positions in the past, was put in place by the government despite opposition from all three opposition parties. In the end, one of Canada’s very important and trusted human rights voices has become largely silent on a whole range of issues that long defined its agenda and program of work.

o There was the clearly politically motivated decision to deny CIDA funding to KAIROS and Alternatives largely because of their programs of work with and on behalf of Palestinians.

o The Canadian Arab Federation lost immigration department funding for resettlement programs because of comments the Federation’s president made about the situation of Palestinians.

o An academic conference at York University faced intense political and administration interference, going to the very heart of academic freedom, again because of ideological views clearly not prepared to countenance criticism of Israel’s human rights record.

o And recently the Mada Al-Carmel Arab Centre had to go to Federal Court after the International Development Research Centre abruptly and inexplicably ended funding support for a project of social science research examining the life of Palestinians.

- Women’s rights advocacy continues to suffer. I referred already to the cuts back in 2006. There was another punishing wave of cuts earlier this year, largely from Status of Women, but also from CIDA. The list is now staggering, and is by no means confined to the Ottawa/Toronto/Montreal triangle. It includes the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, MATCH International, le Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail, the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, Réseau des tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, Action travail des femmes, Womenspace, the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women, Centre de documentation sur l'éducation des adultes et la condition feminine, and the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale.

- There is international development. After more than 40 years of highly respected work analyzing, researching, critiquing, educating and, yes, advocating about Canada’s international development policies and programs, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation came into the government’s sights this year and with little hesitation, reluctance or apology, in July – away from the possible scrutiny of a sitting Parliament and the likelihood of media attention, there was a sudden and crashing end to the significant financial assistance the government has provided to the Council for decades, effectively gutting 75% of the agency’s budget, forcing staff lay-offs and program cuts of a similar scale.

And there is no doubt this was political. Within CIDA, CCIC’s work and role in coordinating government/civil society engagement in the development sector is appreciated and respected. CIDA officials did not wish this result. This was political. And once again it was all about advocacy. The message clearly conveyed was – we will fund service delivery. We will fund organizations that are prepared to feed the poor. We will not fund organizations that ask challenging questions about why the poor are still in need of feeding or critique the approaches government has taken.

- And finally there is immigration and refugee policy. I’ve referred already to the Canadian Arab Federation losing its funding for resettlement services because of Israeli/Palestinian politics. It is playing out right now with respect to Bill C-49, the government’s anti-smuggling legislation, recently introduced in the House. I cannot recall when we have last seen immigration legislation that is so rife with so many blatant human rights violations. Top of the list – the likelihood that any refugee claimant arriving in Canada by sea, in a ship arranged by smugglers, would find themselves subject to mandatory – not possible, or even likely – but mandatory detention for one year, without access to a detention review. Mandatory detention without any right to challenge the grounds for detention before a competent tribunal. Not on the basis of the individual’s own characteristics or untrustworthiness –but simply on the basis of the number of people they travelled with. It violates the Charter. It violates numerous international human rights treaties. It is not worthy of Canada.

- Beyond the concern about the human rights problems in the proposed legislation, however --- and there are many more --- what is relevant for our discussion here are the human rights concerns associated with speaking out about the Bill. You can imagine that there would be many organizations, large and small, right across the country, who would have concerns about the proposal. They would likely share the concern that measures that target smugglers who exploit or expose their passengers to danger have merit – but would be concerned about an approach that primarily penalizes and punishes those individuals who, in desperation, turn to smugglers to help them reach the hope and safety that Canada represents. But we are already hearing reports from many of those groups indicating that they are fearful to speak out, because many of them rely upon funding from the immigration department for the programs they run for immigrants and refugees. Some indicate that they have had veiled suggestions that their funding would be at risk.

- The flip side, notably is that serious doubts are arising as to the legitimacy and even the very existence of some of the ethno-cultural groups the government says support the Bill. Last week Canadian Press reported that within a day of the Bill being tabled small ethnic organizations started sending press releases to journalists covering the story, and Conservative MPs speaking out in support of the bill began listing their names. But it turns out that many of these supporting organizations are so small that they have no office, staff, website, official mission statement or evidence of any programming or activities related to immigrants. One organization admitted that they hope that by supporting the Bill the government will provide them with financial support. The result is perverse: those who have experience and expertise that should be heard in the debate are fearful about speaking out; and those who do not come to the fore.

I could go on. But I want to step back from the enormity of the examples and think about the common thread here. What is at stake, quite simply, is the freedom and the ability of Canadians to vigorously advocate for the protection of human rights – of all rights and of all people – both here within Canada and abroad, and to do so without political interference, intimidation or manipulation.

It is vital to understand it in those terms. I am not raising concern about the fact that we, and others – in fact most or perhaps all of the groups I’ve just referred to – disagree with and may even be strongly opposed to some of the positions or policies the government adopts or advances with respect to many of these issues as well as numerous issues I have not yet mentioned --- its position on Israel and Palestine, on women’s human rights, refugee and migration policy, the rights of Indigenous peoples, torture in Afghanistan, corporate social responsibility, climate change, and more . I could give a very different speech about those issues and concerns, and how it has led to a spiraling and deeply troubling erosion in Canada’s international human rights reputation. In fact I quite regularly do give just that speech.

What I’m underlining and speaking about today is not the issues themselves – but rather how crucial it is to ensure that voices are able to speak out about and debate these issues. The fact that voices need to be heard. And that those voices need support and funding and space so that they can be heard. Voices of opposition need to be heard. Voices of support need to be heard. Voices that bring us uncomfortable messages need to be heard.

And it is the voices that are at risk – that are being punished for the message they bring. Voices are being defunded, sidelined, derided, fired, punished. Not because they have wasted money or done their job poorly. Not because they have spread lies. But simply because they speak out about things the government does not want to hear.

Some may say – that is the business of government. Governments come and governments go and they always make decisions about which groups are in fashion and which are out. Who will get funding and who may lose out.

That is true. But we have – I think it is safe to say – never before seen or experienced something of this nature. What we are witnessing is a systematic onslaught against what I think is a bedrock principle that most Canadians believe – that is in all of our common good to ensure that all voices are heard on crucial issues.

And let’s be clear that this is not a matter of simply whining about funding decisions. Firstly, many of the examples I have pointed to are not about cutting cheques at all. But even when it is about money, that does not somehow turn it into something tawdry and illegitimate What is at play here is the government’s particular and very important responsibility to ensure that voices that would otherwise be marginalized and overlooked are able to speak out and able to be heard; and to provide support, including financial support, to make that possible.

Many of you will know that groups are coming together to respond to this siege. Coming together for a number of reasons – to learn and understand from each other; to provide support to those groups that have suffered the impact of these measures; and to find our common voice to speak out about the importance of voices being heard.

Many of you have likely joined our new movement – which we have quite simply, aptly and bilingually named Voices/Voix. Voices is national in scope. At the same time, a number of Quebec-based organizations, many of whom are part of Voices, have come together and formed a provincially based coalition as well: Pas de démocratie sans voix. The Voices Declaration, which was launched in mid-June, has been endorsed by 188 organizations and over 4000 individuals – and that is without a determined strategy yet for promoting it widely.

The Declaration talks of the importance of upholding freedom of expression, of respecting and supporting the role of civil society groups in Canada, of the importance of transparency and accountability with respect to funding decision, and more. Very telling is that the organizations who have signed on come from almost every sector imaginable, including large national groups like AI, Oxfam, the CLC and the United Church and local organizations such as the Island Peace Committee of PEI, the Prairie Lily Feminist Society of Saskatchewan, the Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society, and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

We have only just begun to tap into and mobilize the depth of concern that exists across the country. And that will continue. Because we are not a nation founded or built on some sense of orthodoxy, ideology and conformity. We are a nation of diversity and debate.

And we simply cannot stand by and watch as that is taken apart.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Neon News 101126 All-Request Holiday Battle of the Bands

OK, that's actually three different events.

Battle of the Bands

Friday, November 26, 6 pm - 1 am
The Big Trouble Band
The Opera House, 735 Queen Street East, $20
This is a fundraiser, and its TONIGHT! Come out and support Big Trouble.
It's all for the cause, but if it's a contest, we might as well win!

Holiday Concert

Sunday, December 12, 2-4 pm
Missisauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Cooksville United Church, 2500 Mimosa Way, Mississauga ON, $20
Our annual Christmas concert and fundraiser at the church where we rehearse pays our rent for the year.

All-Request Night

Sunday, December 12, 8-10 pm (same day!)
Gordon's Acoustic Living Room
Free Times Café, 320 College Street - no cover, no minimum
Vote for your favourites here: http://wayneon.ca/music/livingroomrequests.html

But that's not all . . .

Saturday, November 27, 11 pm-2 am
The Port, 1179 Dundas Street West (at Ossington)
We're just makin' it up!

Tuesday, November 30, 8-10 pm
The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road, Oakville ON - $5
Our regular last-Tuesday-of-the-month gig.


Saturday, December 4
The Wee Stinky Band
Sticky Fingers Bar & Grill, 199 Essa Road, Barrie ON
The seventh annual! Still stinky after all these years!

Release Party

Thursday, December 9
The Port, 1179 Dundas Street West (at Ossington)

More big band

Tuesday, December 14, 8-10 pm
Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road, Oakville ON - $5
This is the regular monthly gig, but a couple weeks early.

Still more big band

Friday, December 17, 7-9 pm
Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Sky Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge
2680 Skymark Avenue, Mississauga, http://skyrestaurantlounge.com
We're back! Join us for dinner.


The Big Trouble Band
Saturday, November 27, 5-7 pm
Mitzi's Sister, 1554 Queen Street West
The club double-booked. (It happens.)
We'll be back. Watch this spot.

This is your December newsletter.

Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

I'll be playing in Simcoe on New Year's Eve with Patio Dave.

Wayne Neon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Neon News 101110

Hey Fanz!

The festive season is upon us, and the music is coming fast and furious!

Triple Rambunctious this week!

Saturday, November 13, midnight, PWYC
La Palette, 492 Queen Street West
Dinner reservations - (416) 603-4900
The band plays on the bar!

Sunday, November 14, 7 pm, $5
Saving Gigi, 859 Bloor Street West
Fundraiser for The Molotov Rag

Thursday, November 18
The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West
Rambunctious will be parading with Henri Faberge and the Boyce Naval Academy Marching Band, whatever that is.
Don't know much about this event, but it will surely be fun!

Bagpipes and Blues!

Saturday, November 20, 10 pm
The Black Swan Tavern, 154 Danforth Avenue
The Big Trouble Band returns to this legendary blues room.

Sunday, November 21, 8-11 pm
The Free Times Café, 320 College Street
Gordon's Acoustic Living Room heads into the home stretch
of our seventh year of monthly appearances at one of Toronto's favourite folk clubs.

Blues and more blues!

Friday, November 26, 6 pm - 1 am, $20
The Opera House, 735 Queen Street East
The Big Trouble Band goes for glory in the Battle of the Bands
Proceeds to The United Way

Saturday, November 27, 5-7 pm
Mitzi's Sister, 1554 Queen Street West
The Big Trouble Band recuperates and savours victory
with one of our popular matinee gigs.
Don't be late! It's over before you know it.

Big Band wraps up November

Tuesday, November 30, 8-10 pm
Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road, Oakville ON
The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble closes the month
with our regular last-Tuesday-of-the-month gig.
This band just keeps getting hotter!

and coming up in December . . .

Saturday, December 4
Sticky Fingers Bar & Grill, 199 Essa Road, Barrie ON
The Wee Stinky Band presents the 7th annual Stinkstockmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2-4 pm
Cooksville United Church, 2500 Mimosa Way, Mississauga ON
Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble annual Christmas concert!

Sunday, December 12, 8-10 pm (same day!)
Free Times Café, 320 College Street
Gordon's Acoustic Living Room's annual All-request night!

Tuesday, December 14, 8-10 pm
Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road, Oakville ON
Christmas comes early for the Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


As always, strategic voting is becoming an important issue around the Toronto mayoralty race. Here is what I have had to say about the subject before:

December 12, 2005

by Wayne Smith

Buzz Hargrove created a sensation at the very beginning of this soon-to-be-endless election campaign with a surprising call to his Canadian Auto Workers to vote for the Liberal candidate in ridings where the NDP has no chance of being elected.

This is not what Jack Layton wanted to hear.

But many voters feel compelled to consider the option of "strategic" voting because we are saddled with an antique voting system under which most votes are wasted on candidates who do not get elected, and voters are offered few real choices. However, there are some downsides that must also be considered.

1. Strategic voting is an abomination. If we had a fair and well designed voting system, voters would simply vote for the candidate, party, or leader they prefer and know that their vote would probably make a difference. No one would have to vote for the "lesser evil", and Parliament would truly reflect the political thinking of the electorate. The diversity of our communities would likely also be more accurately reflected.

2. Strategic voting is not even available to most of us. Most of us live in ridings that are "safe" for one party or another. Most of us know who will be elected in our riding before the votes are even cast. If you are not in a "swing" riding where there is a close race, then forget about strategic voting and vote with your heart.

3. Strategic voting is widely misunderstood and frequently botched. To some people, strategic voting just means "vote Liberal". In fact, the correct strategy is to decide which of the candidates in your riding actually has a reasonable chance of getting elected, and choose to vote for one of them. For some people, this will mean voting NDP. For some, it will mean voting Conservative or Bloc. For most, it will mean few choices, or none at all.

4. You could get it wrong. Although Canadian elections are lamentably predictable, you never know. Strange things happen in elections, and public opinion does change during the campaign. A prediction of defeat for your favourite party could be self-fulfilling.

5. Last, but certainly not least, votes trigger campaign financing for your party. The new campaign financing rules mean that every vote really does count, at least for $1.75. That's how much the party you voted for will get each year because you voted for them.

This makes a difference. For example, the Green Party now has a significant war chest, although their half a million votes last time didn't even come close to electing anyone.

But what's your vote really worth? This is the first election under the new rules, so frankly, we're not sure what's going to happen.

Here's the strategic voting dilemma. Should you cave in, hold your nose and vote for someone you can't stand, in a desperate attempt to make your vote count for something? Or should you vote sincerely, even when your vote probably won't affect the outcome of the election? You're damned if you do and damned if you don't-that is, until Canada joins the modern world and scraps our antiquated first-past-the-post voting system.

The solution is for Canadians to choose a modern, fair voting system that accurately translates the will of the voters, as expressed by the votes we cast, into seats in Parliament, and which will therefore allow us to hold government accountable. Most industrial democracies have been using proportional voting systems for most of the last century. Canadian voters too deserve a system designed to ensure that every voice is heard.

When will this happen? Not until it can't be prevented. People elected under the current system think that the current system is working just fine, thank you. One thing is certain-we won't have a fair voting system until voters demand it.

That would be you. Democracy is still, after all, a do-it-yourself project.

Gordon's Acoustic Living Room - Lost On The Bayou


Next Acoustic Living Room: Sunday, October 17, 8-10 pm.

The Free Times Café, 320 College Street.

Our seventh year of monthly appearances.

No cover, no minimum.

Come early, it's small.

Great food!

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Stuff Coming Up

Saturday, October 2, 1:00 pm
Christie Pits
No Fare Is Fare
Come to the park to celebrate the campaign to win free and accessible transit for the GTA!

Saturday, October 2, 8:00 pm
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom
Nuit Blanche

Saturday, October 10, evening
Cabo Verde Bar & Restaurant
215 Ossington Avenue

Missisauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Friday, October 15, 8-11 pm
Sky Lounge
2680 Skymark Avenue, Mississauga

Sunday, October 17, 8-11 pm
Free Times Café
320 College Street, west of Spadina
Gordon's Acoustic Living Room

Thursday, October 21, 10:45 pm
El Mocambo
464 Spadina Avenue
This Is Not A POLITICAL Party (CAPP fundraiser)
Rambunctious and eight other bands

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stuff Coming Up

Sunday, September 19, 8-11 pm
Gordon's Acoustic Living Room
Free Times Café
320 College Street (west of Spadina)
No cover, no minimum!
Our seventh year of monthly gigs!

Thursday, September 23, 11 pm
La Palette
492 Queen Street West (at Portland)
Nine or so horns and a cute drummer--on the bar! Must be seen to be believed!

Saturday, September 26, 5-7 pm
The Big Trouble Band
Mitzi's Sister
1554 Queen Street West (at Sorauren)
$5 or free, I forget which.
Good Time Rockin' Blues That Makes You Wanna Dance!

Sunday, September 26, 2-4 pm
Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Pedestrian Sunday, Kensington Market
Augusta Avenue, south of College.
It's in the street! It's free!
Five saxes, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, guitar, drums, and bass!

Tuesday, September 28, 8-10 pm
Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble
Arnold's Sports Bar
485 Morden Road, Oakville ON (off Dorval, S. of QEW)
$5 - That's less than $0.30 per musician!
Handy to Halton, Hamilton, Port Dover, and points west!
Catch this residency while it lasts!

Lots more later!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Richie Hayward w/ Little Feat - 2009-05-03-Dixie Chicken

Dixie Chicken Little Feat

I’ve seen the bright lights of Memphis
And the Commodore Hotel
And underneath a street lamp, I met a southern belle
Oh she took me to the river, where she cast her spell
And in that southern moonlight, she sang this song so well

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland

We made all the hotspots, my money flowed like wine
Then the low-down southern whiskey, yeah, began to fog my mind
And I don’t remember church bells, or the money I put down
On the white picket fence and boardwalk
On the house at the end of town
Oh but boy do I remember the strain of her refrain
And the nights we spent together
And the way she called my name

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland

Many years since she ran away
Yes that guitar player sure could play
She always liked to sing along
She always handy with a song
But then one night at the lobby of the Commodore Hotel
I chanced to meet a bartender who said he knew her well
And as he handed me a drink he began to hum a song
And all the boys there, at the bar, began to sing along

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland, Down in Dixieland

Social Media like Bertilak de Hautdesert – the mysterious Green Knight?


A report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph in the UK highlighted the problems of social media sites such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter etc – an innocent surrendering of privacy destined to come back and haunt the writer in years to come.

In the anonymous Middle English classic, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight arrives at the court of King Arthur one Christmas and invites anyone bold enough to do so to chop off his head. The terms of the deal are that whosoever takes the challenge must in a year’s time meet with the Green Knight again, where they will be beheaded by the Green Knight in return.

Oh woe unto Sir Gawain who takes up the challenge! He strikes off the Green Knight’s head and the court watches as it rolls across the hall. And then, and then… the headless Green Knight picks up his head and rides off, demanding of Gawain that he meets him again in a year’s time.

So it is that a year later, that Gawain fulfils his promise. Before the final denouement with the Green Knight, he stays with the mysterious Bertilak de Hautdesert and his wife. Bertilak leaves to go hunting and his wife is left to look after Gawain. Here’s where the test begins: the wife tempts our hero, inviting him to be disloyal to his host, tempting him with her pleasures and her beauty.

Her failure is critical. Unable to tempt Gawain, she gives in and - in time-honoured fashion - hands him a green sash to protect himself from evil. It is this sash, when Gawain meets the Green Knight in readiness for his execution, which protects him from death. The Green Knight reveals himself to Sir Gawain as none other than Bertilak de Hautdesert, his host. The two depart; Gawain absolved of his deal a purer and more devoted knight…

And so it is with social media, methinks. We are invited in to its lair and exposed to its beauty. We become publishers. We write our own hagiographies. But there is a price to pay – our own potential execution when we have had our fill. Teenagers who reap the rewards for “dissing” friends and family. Membership of obscure and potentially dangerous groups revealed when candidates apply for jobs. Singular and eccentric views regarded as a flaw of personality.

Picture the horror on the face of the candidate for a job as family law practitioner when the interviewer asks them about their performance of lewd acts in a college bar. Or the teaching applicant laid bare in fish net tights and a cane…

If the challenge laid down by Social Media is the same as that laid down by the Green Knight, so it is that in the temptations which follow on our routes to purity are those laid out in front of us by the wife of Bertilak de Hautdesert. Cam we resist them? Can we be true to ourselves? And is our self truth one which can be substantiated when confronted by that higher judge, once more, the Green Knight?

Social media is about consistency delivering credibility, as commentators Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say in their book Trust Agents. So if we stay consistent in what we say, and what we do, there should be no problem. But if we pitch ourselves one way and describe ourselves another, then we will fail. And there will be no green sash to protect ourselves save that of the whim of Google, Facebook and the rest, giving us some form of privacy protection.

So let it be that social media – as marketing – is used with honour and not with contempt for manipulation. For if used well then we too shall emerge from its shadows stronger in ourselves and more credible. As Bertilak himself may well have said:

“Thou art confessed so clene, beknowen of thy misses and hast the penounce apert of the poynt of myn egge” – You are cleansed by your confession, by admission of your errors, and having openly done penance at the point of my blade.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Send Them Back an Old, and Awful, Refrain


Posted on 16. Aug, 2010 on Bob Rae's blog

Canadians have been caught up in the drama of the arrival of a small boat with 500 people aboard. They have travelled for several months on the Pacific Ocean, turned away in Thailand, Australia, and given the cold shoulder everywhere else until they reached the western shore of Vancouver Island, escorted by the Canadian navy.

Many have suggested that the ship should have been boarded and just turned away. Unfortunately these views have a terrible pedigree, and call to mind the fate of two other boats, the Komagata Maru and the SS St Louis.

The Komagata Maru set sail from Calcutta in 1914, picking up passengers in Yokohama and Shanghai before making the long voyage to Vancouver. Its arrival in the harbour was met by powerful hostility. In the previous decade Canada had opened itself to the arrival of 400,000 Europeans, but had strict laws and regulations preventing Asians and others from coming. The passengers on board the Komagata Maru, who were mainly Sikh, tried desperately to land but both the federal and provincial governments did all in their power to prevent the 354 passengers from landing. This brutal discrimination succeeded, and the ship was forced to sail back to Calcutta. The Imperial authorities concluded that the leaders on the boat were dangerous agitators for Indian freedom, and 19 of them were killed on arrival in Calcutta. Many others were arrested and imprisoned. The incident remains a dark stain on Canada’s reputation, for which Stephen Harper has yet to apologise in the House of Commons. The House itself has endorsed a motion in the name of Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla expressing just such an apology.

The SS St Louis made its famous voyage, known as the “voyage of the damned”, in 1939. Its 936 Jewish passengers made their way from Hamburg to Cuba, where they were denied landing, although they all had visas. After a stay of many days, the ship set sail for the U.S., where it was also rejected, and then to Halifax, where the Liberal government of the day also refused entry. It had to make its way back across the north Atlantic to Antwerp, where passengers were dispersed to a number of countries, many of which were soon to be occupied by the Nazis. Historians tell us that as many as 254 of the St Louis passengers were killed in Nazi death camps, while the rest probably survived the war.

Just two years ago Canadian Church leaders held a ceremony of apology to recognise the terrible wrong done. Bishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa said “remembering what happened to the passengers will help Christians make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

This past week Canadians have been subjected to wild rumours of disease rampant aboard the ship, and allegations that “terrorists” and “criminals” are about to run amok in the country. Many urged the Canadian navy to board the ship in international waters and send them on their way.

Bishop Gervais’s admonition notwithstanding, it would seem some have learned very little from our past. Of course people paid to get on the Tamil boat, just as they did to get on the Komagata Maru, the SS St Louis, and Kastner’s train for that matter.

Sri Lanka’s civil war did not come to a pretty ending. As the army made its way through the country, planes strafing villages and bombing civilians, Tamils who had returned home after the ceasefire of 2001 were corralled by the opposing sides to the north-eastern shore of the country. The complete exclusion of journalists and international observers and agencies makes it impossible to know how many died in the last weeks of the war: estimates range from a few hundred to 40,000. The entire leadership of the LTTE and their families were wiped out. Hundreds of thousands became refugees in their own country.

General Fonseca, who ran as a presidential candidate, was arrested the day after the election. Dozens of journalists are killed every year, and many foreign observers, from Swedish Foreign Minister to Bob Rae, Canadian MP (and writer of this blog), have been refused entry to the country.

Canada has an obligation under our law to take refugee claims seriously, to weigh them in a judicious manner, and to insist that allegations of “terrorism” and “human trafficking” be proven. We also need to work with our international friends and the UN to understand better why these boats are travelling, how they are being organised, and why people feel they should take them.

It is a pity Vic Toews didn’t mention the Komagata Maru and the SS St Louis, and why we’re not going to repeat those atrocities. To turn away a boat that’s been on the high seas for over 90 days would be unconscionable. It would also be illegal.

What, then, of the “moral hazard”, the argument that if we let one boat it will be followed by countless more ? These are not exactly cruise ships. Not everyone on them will be found to be a refugee. But if the Sri Lankan government says I’m a threat to their national security I’m less inclined to take seriously their blanket conclusions about who’s on the boat and why they’re there. I have confidence in our immigration and justice system. Vic Toews is right about one thing: the world is watching. I’m proudest as a Canadian when we’re setting the right standard for the world. We didn’t do it in 1914 for the Komagata Maru or in 1939 for the St Louis. Let’s get it right this time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tanya Tucker - Not Fade Away

That's not me playing sax, but it should be.

Third parties get third-class treatment

Published: Sunday, August 08, 2010, 11:43 AM
By Candy Neville

Third parties are not third-class citizens and the Fourth Estate should never forget it. According to an Aug. 2, 2010, Rasmussen Report, 35.4 percent of American adults are Democrats, 31.8 percent Republicans. The number not affiliated with either party is now at 32.8 percent -- a substantial piece of the American pie.

Big and constant "news" in this country is the national disenchantment not just with the government, but with the two major political parties.

Big and constant "olds" is repetitious coverage of every detail of squabbles between the two parties, while leaving a gaping hole regarding what change is occurring outside of them.

It's easy to follow the well-worn trail, but it is very clear that the trails that wander outside the Democrat and Republican boxes are growing in size and number. It is these trails of discontent, venture and new pursuits that represent the "news."

It is important that the loud, disharmonious, din of change that comes from within this 32.8 percent be recorded and published. The free press is our pride and hope. It is a lofty challenge to be the keepers of the parchment and ink and to pen today's story as it happens with objectivity. It is important that journalists seize the responsibility of it and not just the entitlement.

Frankly, only covering the same old, same old is getting old -- and just outside the box of negligence.

Candy Neville has been nominated by the Pacific Green Party to run for the U.S. Senate.

Related topics: candy neville, pacific green party, political parties

Fly Me To The Moon

Here's a great old recording from the first album by The Big Steam Band, including me on second tenor sax.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A less proud country

"Ursula Franklin defines peace as the presence of justice and the absence of fear. Which is ascendant in our home and native land -- justice, or fear?"


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shame on us


"You either support high standards of justice or you don’t. In this case, most Canadians, along with their government, do not."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not the Last Living Room

A wonderful composite photo of last Sunday at the Free Times by John-Marc Hamilton.

Amnesty International Canada (ES) AGM 2010 Report

Photo by Don Payne

Anyone who attended our Branch's Annual General Meeting (AGM) from June 25 to 27 will be unlikely to forget it. It was unlike any AGM that had taken place before. For the first time, our AGM was being held at the same time and same place as the world's headlining news event: Toronto during the same weekend that G8/G20 leaders were holding their annual summit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Stuff coming up:

Sunday, July 25, Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market. Look for us near La Palette on Augusta around 3 pm.

Saturday, July 31, standing on the bar at the other La Palette, 492 Queen Street West at Portland, at midnight.

Try the horse tenderloin!

Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble

Coming up in July:

In town: July 23 & 24, Beaches Jazz Festival, on Queen Street at Bellefair, across from Kew Gardens, 7 pm start. (I'll just be there on the Friday, because my friends Fallon and Matthew are getting married on Saturday!)

Out of town: Tuesday, July 27, Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road, Oakville, 8-10 pm, $5

Be sure to catch this one because WE WILL NOT BE AT ARNOLD'S IN AUGUST. Back for the regular gig on the last Tuesday in September!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Star Wars Subway Car

Funniest thing I have seen in my life so far.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Crises of Capitalism

"We have a duty to change our mode of thinking."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's a Stinky, Rambunctious Canada Day!

Canada Day Eve, it's The Wee Stinky Band After Work Party, 5:30ish to 9:30ish at Tiff's, 130 Dunlop Street East in Barrie.

Always the best party ever, except maybe for . . .

Nine (or so) horns and a scrumptious drummer, we're just making it up!

Rambunctious are back at The Painted Lady this Thursday, Canada Day, at the relatively civilized hour of 10 pm.

Impossible to describe, must be heard and seen!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jeff Carolin - Torontonamo: The Terror of Unaccountable Authority During the G20

[please forward to anyone you think would read this]

hi everybody, thanks to everyone who's been sending moral support. i still feel totally fucked up. i write this with the fear of coopting the voice of the 100s of other people who have been arrested but i just think right now that we need stories getting out there and this is my 3 hour attempt to share my own. i wont pretend that my writing is at peak form or that i have the patience to give this a proper edit. nor do i have the energy right now to describe my whole account but i just read through the info at the following link and it captures my personal experience. and has made me believe (unsuprisingly) that people who are more vulnerable in these situations - like folks who dont identify as male or heterosexual, folks with disAbilities, and people of colour - had it worse than me. so please read through this first: http://www.thelinknewspaper.ca/articles/2698.

before continuing on, i just want to clarify that this is not a message about the saturday black bloc action that took place for about 1.5 hours without a single one of the 10,000 cops anywhere near it. something that i personally think was a deliberate cop gambit to justify the crackdown that followed, which seemed to have been working out in the media in their favour until some time on sunday when the wild police repression and brutality that took place at queens park late saturday afternoon and later that day in front of the novotel started coming out. (not to mention last night at queen and spadina.) rather its about something thats completely not debatable: the crime of the prisoner processing centre at eastern and pape, torontonamo.

and although torontonamo is a separate point, there is a connection to the police crackdown and the mass arrests. that is, of the 25 other people i shared my overcrowded cage with, not a single one was in there for something legitimate. a lot had been at queens park or the novotel. two were punk kids who were beat up and arrested for wearing black and knew nothing about the g20. i was also with a fully uniformed ttc attendant who was jumped by riot cops leaving queens park subway station. he was kept in for 30 hours. we were also with a 17 year old kid (who had been at the novotel), who was only wearing a t-shirt and was shivering from the cold the whole time and who, of course, had not been allowed to call his parents. (we were all, in fact, effectively disappeared for the entirety of our detention as we were allowed no calls, and the cops werent giving any information about anyone to the outside world.) then there was the self-proclaimed apolitical freelance photographer who had been tackled by a plainclothes officer while running away from riot cops. the same plainclothes officer had just, moments earlier, been inciting the crowd to get closer and to throw stuff at the cops. he was passed to riot cops who stepped on his head and kicked him in the face. he was covered in blood in our cell and was passing in and out of consciousness. obviously there was no medical attention. i asked him, as we left together 20+ hours later, if he felt less apolitical now, at least with respect to the police as an institution and the state that is supposed to oversee it. you can imagine his response.

all that to say, when you hear torontonamo horror stories, as im sure they'll keep emerging, keep this collective punishment in mind. and maybe also keep in mind how this compares to other parts of the world where, albeit much further along the fascistic spectrum, occupying armies and repressive regimes carry out mass, indiscriminate arrests and sweeps, and keep people in conditions based on the same CIA low intensity psychological torture techniques for breaking people down (as described below and in the link above). and how everyone emerged from our cell - the political and the previously apolitical - completely enraged at the abuses of authority that we had been subject to. and about how much we wanted to strike back. and about how it only took 20 hours of collective punishment and psychological torture - and the imposition of complete powerlessness - to plant within us the desire to take part in militant resistance towards the state that allowed this to happen. again, im talking about the previously apolitcal as well.

and now a few points to personalize the link i sent above.

first, the circumstances of my arrest to provide some context. i wrote this bit when i got home, after having slept for about 30 minutes in the previous 43 hours:

"the most intense shit that i witnessed over the course of saturday was when i returned to the southern law of queens park just under the legislature around 530. a motley crew of random unaffiliated activist-ey folks, passersby and labour people were having a standoff with the riot cops. the riot cops had begun darting out in groups of four or five, grabbing someone doing something completely benign and then dragging them back behind their lines where they usually would beat them for awhile with their batons. Although a part of me wanted to take off my "legal" hat and join the locked arms at the front, it became clear that few people there knew of our group. So I went back and forth just behind the front line passing out "know your rights" literature, and shouting out the legal number that ppl could call if arrested, etc. At some point I took off my hat and was helping keep people calm just behind the front line, as each time the police rushed there was a chance of a stampede. Eventually we got pushed back and back until we were divided into two marches - on Harbord and Devonshire. Cops kept charging at us beating their shield trying to force us backwards. sometimes the horses would come ahead.

Eventually things dissipated and I returned home, only to leave again with some other people to head to the Jail Solidarity action at midnight outside the jail on eastern ave. i felt obligated to go having just witnessed so many illegal arrests and beatings. Arrived at an action already in progress. Peaceful. Was following cops orders that the protest stay on the sidewalk on the north side of the street. Pretty soon after we arrived, the riot cops showed up and completely surrounded us. there was some negotiation and the ultimate decision was that we would be given a way out to the west along eastern avenue. the people i was with had decided that we were going to leave, but that we would try to carry out our legal observing from outside the riot cop ring as the people who decided to stay back were arrested.

It seemed that too few were willing to stay, so after a brief delay (1-2 minutes?) the core organizers followed everyone out to the west and we ended up joining up with them as they passed through the ring of riot cops. We were now slightly behind the main group ahead that had left right away (half block?) and something like a block or a block and a half west of the original encirclement, a second line of riot police appeared in front of us and blocked our way, fully surrounding a group of about 20 of us. we were then arrested for breaching the peace. we were told that we had taken too long."

second, the overall architecture of this "temporary prisoner processing centre" was the most orwellian, fascistic, brutalizing, fucked up thing that i have ever seen. again, probably designed according to CIA sensory deprivation, psychological torture specs. (who the fuck allowed this to happen? this was the same place that the police said they were building in order to be able to process prisoners quickly and efficiently.) in any particular cage you rarely had a view of any other of the grey metal cages. just the spotlights and surveillance cameras and dark ceiling above, and the white or grey concrete floors. no clocks anywhere. nor were there any cameras on the hallways or places where the cops convened and brought prisoners through. and then there were the cops, guards and officers of all types walking by us. usually ignoring us, sometimes antagonizing us, and often just telling us total bullshit as i describe in two points below. when i close my eyes right now, i have an image of cold harsh lighting, stark white walls and floors, and streams of guards passing back and forth through the squares of the cage. closing my eyes makes me feel nauseous.

third, something that doesnt really come across through the list of things described in the link above was the group psychology in the cages and how we actually spent the time (at least in my cage). we spent the first few hours indignantly demanding our civil liberties (calls to counsel especially) and insulting the guards, calling them pigs, etc, when they refused. by the end i was grovelling and pleading on my knees with my bound hands in a supplicating position, begging for water, food, blankets and medical attention for those who needed it.

there was much in between these two extremes as well. the moment of collective laughter when we decided to conquer the toilet-paperless, doorless port-a-potty that faced the guards. after a few hours of ignoring the unappealing toilet, i stood up and announced (as loud as i possibly could) to the guards that i was going to take a shit, and i invited them to watch. it broke the proverbial seal and became a source of collective strength as others began to use it. we transformed what had been designed to humiliate us. (though i know that as a "man" cage we had an ability to do this that wasnt the same for the "woman" cages.) and then there was the stand up routine that one guy did, ripping into all the guards that walked by that had us all cracking up. there were moments when we tried to appeal to the humanity of the guards. ive never called anyone a nazi in my life, but there i was telling them that they had been assigned to work in a concentration camp and that when this all came to light the excuse that they were just following orders wouldnt cut it. we asked them if they had children and what they would think if their children were in it. no one would engage with us in these points. and finally, at certain points, we were screaming any possible insult we could think of. there was also a rousing rendition of "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands"... that immediately followed an incredibly intense expression of rage of the four cages in our room. almost everyone was kicking and rattling and screaming in our cages for at least 10 minutes. it the loudest and most intense creation of sound that i have ever been a part of.

then there was a moment when it looked like our cage was going to slip into total chaos. i became aware of it at the point when i myself hit my own low. i had been watching a guard eat his vast lunch five feet away from me. bite by bite. i kept up a constant stream of insults and commentary, telling him how hungry i was and if he enjoyed watching me suffer as he ate, telling him how looking at him was making me more physically ill than i had even felt up to that point. that i was going to puke and try to get as much as i could in his direction. and then pretty soon after, i was standing up, gripping the cage and screaming as loud as i could, "we need food!" i slumped back down and a really strong soul, one of the older ones amongst us, came up to me slumped in the corner and told me that he needed me to be strong. he got through to me. i looked up and i became aware that we had one guy, lips turning purple, who was going into shock both due to cold, exposure and exhaustion, and also because we had a guy with a blood condition who was semi-conscious and who was oozing blood out of his finger tips. our requests for medical attention were ignored and this one guy was getting so worked up that he was trying to convince all of us that we just had to bust through the door the next time the guards came. i got him to sit down and breathe with me and i turned to my buddy who was in there with me and said that we were collectively losing it. just then, the guy who earlier had been regaling us with his stand up routine stood up and screamed at the top of his lungs for about 10 seconds. i grabbed another guy who was in there to help get everyone quiet and i led us in a deep-breathing exercise and with the help of others got us to start reflecting on this experience. on how the only thing we could control was the space within our cage. how that was the only power that remained to us.

this was necessary after only 15 hours of arbitrary detention and deprivation.

fourth, i want to add another thing to the link above that didnt really come up. its that i believe that 100% of the apparent administrative incompetence was one more subtle but ultimate really powerful tool to fuck with our heads. it was both their excuse for why we werent getting food, water, phone calls to lawyers and medical attention for those who needed it and it also toyed with our minds, emotions and spirits. this part was totally sadistic. basically it seems consistent that in all "breach of the peace" cages they would make it seem that the delays were all due to processing slowdowns. "we're really trying here. but it just takes time. you'll get to make your phone calls soon. why dont you just calm down." etc etc. that was when they talked to us; most of the time they just ignored all of our requests or were verbally hostile to us.

they would keep our hope alive that things actually were being processed by taking someone out every few hours. for example, 2 guys were taken out from my cage after 2 hours, and we thought, yes, we're going to get out soon. and that was the implication of what the guard told us. we saw them 15 hours later in different cages. they did this periodically throughout the day. also, almost every half hour a guard would come by looking for people who were almost never in our cage. it made it seem that they had no idea where anyone was. new people would keep coming on shifts and say that everything was a mess, and then they'd make us line up in our cage and give our last names and prison IDs. in our cage we did this three times. they also took people out of our cage, implied they were getting out and then would only take their pictures (one guy was photograhed three times) and then they were sent back. around hour 16 they came to our cage and told us that our group had gotten lost in the system and that they had been looking for this one guy in every cell. the implication was now that they had finally found him we'd all finally be processed. we didnt get any more releases for 3 hours. etc etc etc. they also kept coming around, pausing in front of us, getting us to be quiet and then would read out 2 or 3 names and prison IDs that 95% of the time were not in there with us. this both got our hopes up and then would totally dash them when none of the people were us. it also kept up the justification for why none of our rights and needs were being satisfied.

as it was approaching 24 hours, and a lot of us finally did get released, we basically walked around the corner from our cage, got handed our property bags and the forms filled out by the original arresting officer (no other paper work or processing to be done!) and were told to leave (into the pouring rain).

its hard to describe the significance of this final point. they told us that there had been an admin fuck up and that's why our group was held so long. when, a bit earlier, i said to one of the guards, "does anyone know whats going on? is it just that there's no one in charge who know's whats happening". he replied, "yeah this guys finally figured it out. this is a smart guy." and it didnt sound sarcastic at all. but as i sat down to write this last night, i pictured this final scene again. the outdoors were just around the corner. there was just a folding table with a commanding officer and all he had to do was hand us our belongings and tell us to leave. basically it took 2 minutes to process us. But they had led us through this puppy mill of caged people to make it seem that we were in the middle of this huge complex full of overcrowded cages that we couldnt see, under spotlights and surveillance cameras, cops and guards rushing by, hunger and dehydration, people going into shock from the cold and exposure. barely sufficient medical attention (and only after hours of chanting and screaming)... and this underlying admin incompetence that was used as the excuse for it all.

and as i started writing it down last night i went through the final moments again and suddenly felt a tightness in my neck. i realized that we were basically 35 feet and 2 minutes away from being released the entire time. i couldnt breathe and felt like i was going to puke all at once. i had to get leah to calm me down and help me breathe again. it hit me like a 1000 tons that the entire display of admin incompetence was an act. they wanted us off the streets until the g20 was over and they succeeded. they wanted to criminalize dissent and prevent anyone empowered by g20 demos to remain politically active. they wanted to gather intelligence. they mollified us with the admin bullshit stuff and strung us along and toyed with us all at once. sick and debased. and consistent from what ive been hearing from other people who were released with no charges.

fifth, i was in plastic wrist restraints the whole time.

sixth, i recognize that none of this was about the issues around social and environmental justice that protesters have been trying to bring attention to all week. but i think that this does address a core underlying issue of a hierarchical state that is not accountable nor democratic to those who do not fit into the mainstream.

seventh, for the legally inclined, they read us a breach of the peace statement that said something like if we were found at another g20 demo we would be given a real criminal charge. i tried to argue with the guard that he couldnt impose conditions (something i dont know but assumed) but my fellow arrestees told me they just wanted to leave. so i acceded and we left.

eighth, today i turn 28.

in peace, solidarity, and rage,


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Achieving Progressive Political Unity - By Kelly Gerling


“The will of the people shall be the law of the land.” That statement by Robert LaFollette in 1912 is clearly what we need on electoral reform when public policy is conservative and public opinion is progressive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

URGENT: warning re. increased police powers near the security zone

URGENT: warning re. increased police powers near the security zone

June 24, 2010 - 5:01pm | by movementdefence
Under the Ontario Public Works Protection Act, the area inside and within 5 metres of the security perimeter (as seen on this map: http://www.g8-g20isu.ca/g20/resources/10-06-11-map.pdf) has been designated as a ‘public work’ from June 21st to 28th, 2010.

This means that police officers have the power to require anyone entering or attempting to enter or approaching the public work “to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise”.

The police may also “search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work”. The police can also search “a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger”.

Finally, the police “may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering”

Police may arrest, without warrant “any person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction of a guard or peace officer, or who is found upon or attempting to enter a public work without lawful authority.”

Neglecting or refusing “to comply with a request or direction made under this Act by a guard or peace officer” or if you are a person found upon a public work or any approach thereto without lawful authority means you could be found guilty of an offence and be liable to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two months, or to both.

Details of the geographic limitations are here: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2010/elaws_src_regs...
Read the Public Works Protection here: http://www.canlii.org/en/on/laws/stat/rso-1990-c-p55/latest/rso-1990-c-p...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tory descent continues in 'strange new political world': poll

Mr. Graves says that the first-past-the-post system is now unworkable because the “old parties are incapable of creating stable constituencies.

“Boomers will lose their strangle-hold on power. Young voters are turning to new parties like the GP [Green Party]. Parliaments will be forced to become mosaics rather than monolithic, reflecting a more pluralistic and faster-changing society.”

What if we had an election and no political party won?

What if we had an election and voters won?

Tory descent continues in 'strange new political world': poll

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big day coming up Saturday June 19

Saturday, June 19 I will be helping present a workshop on electoral reform on behalf of Fair Vote Canada from 10 am until noon at Ryerson University, room Vic 206, as part of the People's Summit 2010.

This means someone else will have to give the regular Saturday noon orientation tour at Free Geek Toronto.

I may not make it to work at all, because I'll be playing with the Big Trouble Band at Mitzi's Sister, 1554 Queen Street East, from 5 pm to 7 pm.

I'll be jammin' with the Geminis at Ray the Baby Giant and Loretta's birthday party in the evening, then I'll be playing with Rambunctious at La Palette (the new one at Queen and Portland) at midnight.

Sunday I'll be at The Free Times Café from 8 until 11 pm with Gordon's Acoustic Living Room, this month featuring saxophone, mandolin, violin, pedal steel guitar, bagpipes, and (finally!) steel pan drums!

Stop talking about coalitions.

"Let's stop the talk about mergers and monolithic parties and start addressing electoral reform."


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm Blogging This Moment


So there I am at the gates of Downing Street, at around 3pm this afternoon, with a moderately raucous throng of people in purple demanding 'Fair Votes Now.' We're here to hand in a petition as thick as a man's thigh, demanding a referendum on proportional representation.

And it's all got a bit noisy and spontaneous, in a shufflingly British sort of way, and I've managed to end up at the front of the line, just behind all the people with the huge cameras, who are always there at protests in London but don't really count. This is the closest I've ever been to Number Ten and aha, here come the vans.

Three riot vans screech up and police in yellow jackets pour out of the hatches like predatory lymphocytes to sterilise the dissent. They stream into formation and edge us back from the gates, politely for now, but extremely firmly. One young policeperson's face is really close to mine as he shuffles us unseeingly back, and suddenly hey, I bloody know you, officer.

Last time I saw Officer X, he was wearing my underwear and a red velvet corset.

This was about three years ago, at a photoshoot for Genet studio show we were both involved in, in which I played a cross-dressing lesbian hooker in 18th-century Paris and he played, funnily enough, a career sadist. We were all set up in an empty wine bar to do the shoot for the publicity posters, and we decided it'd look great and also be kinda hot if we swapped clothes.

So we did, and then we did the play, and then we left university and went our separate ways in the way that young people do, me to urban squalor, activism and writing, him to be a state t-cell. I recognised him instantly, because he was doing the same flinty, murderous, slightly suggestive gaze into the middle distance that made his character so effective. He's clearly not going to be on the beat for long.

So I say, hey. And he says nothing. And I say, hey, name. And he says, oh- er, hi!

His flak jacket is still all up in my face. We exchange awkward pleasantries. Because he's a copper now, he asks me if there really are another thousand of us coming. Because I'm an activist, I deny any knowledge of anything.

The crowd shifts, surges forward behind me, a shifting sea of quiet human rage. We're losing each other in the swell. The moment of connection is gone, and time rushes back with the noise of the chanting and more vans turning up.

We promise to contact each other on Facebook, and I disappear into the crowd

Good Idea!

I am launching a campaign to have the G20 moved to a cruise ship so that we can save the $1 billion of security costs and our leaders can float around the oil slick as they dine on endangered seafood. They might even want to pop into a Haitian refugee camp or visit some Jamaican drug lords in between cocktails.

SEND HARPER A MESSAGE! Stephen Harper: HarpeS@parl.gc.ca


Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Band, Rambunctious, and more!

Tuesday, May 25, 8-10pm, The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble at Arnold's Sports Bar, 485 Morden Road in Oakville, http://www.arnoldssportsbar.ca/.

And immediately following: Rambunctious at The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Avenue, just south of Dundas, http://thepaintedlady.ca/, starting at 11 pm.

Also coming up:

Sunday, June 6, 11:30 am, The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble at the Streetsville Bread & Honey Festival, http://www.breadandhoney.com/.

Saturday, June 19, 5-7 pm, The Big Trouble Band at Mitzi's Sister, 1554 Queen Street West, http://www.mitzis.ca/sister.html.

Sunday, June 20, 8-11 pm, Gordon's Acoustic Living Room at The Free Times Café, 320 College Street http://www.freetimescafe.com/. Halfway through Year Seven!

Check out Rambunctious on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/rmbnxs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

John Cleese on proportional representation

Olden but golden!

Rambunctious on College Street

One of four videos of Rambunctious playing on College Street in front of Soundscapes Records posted independently on YouTube.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's worth the drive to Oakville!

If you haven't yet seen and heard The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble live at Arnold's Sports Bar, well it's about time you did.

Eighteen musicians! Five bucks! 8-10 pm

485 Morden Road
Oakville, ON L6K 3W6
(905) 844-2613

Monday, April 26, 2010

Democracy Imperilled


It is the current voting system that keeps giving the Bloc Québécois two-thirds of the seats in Québec with one-third of the votes. The same system gives the NDP one seat out of ten, although they receive one out of five votes. This is because the Bloc's votes are geographically concentrated, while the NDP's are spread out across the country.

Under the current voting system, whether your vote counts or not depends on where you vote and how you vote.

Proportional voting systems, by definition, make every vote count. This is the answer to our democratic deficit, and anything less is not.