I’m Praying…

Vatican Pope



The Pope prayed for peace in the Middle East.


The doctrine of the material efficacy of prayer reduces the Creator to a cosmic bellhop of a not very bright or reliable kind.
—Herbert J. Muller
This always reminds me of a line or two from Otis Redding’s Shout Bamalama:
The preacher and the deacon were prayin’ one day
Along come a bear comin’ down that way
The preacher told the deacon to say a prayer
Deacon say  prayer won’t kill that bear, we got to run for it!


People have been praying on all sides for generations, and the arms makers are the only ones gratified. This painful little cancre is but a reflection of broader issues, but will remain a pustulating sore as long powerful lobbies continue to set the agenda.

Are These The Settlements We All Deserve?



Am I the only one who thinks that the run a partial treaty settlements with First Nations in BC is politically motivated? Why, in the last dozen years, has the pace of negotiations continued at the same senatorial crawl until the last couple of weeks when, suddenly staring down the barrel of an election, several groups on Vancouver Island start getting what amounts to a down payment on an eventual settlement. So lovely it is to see Ida Chong’s smiling face and sincere pronouncements about how this government has done so much to resolve the treaty process: I wonder what her position was when her leader Campbell ran a referendum back in 2002 to determine the future of treaty negotiations based on what all the citizens of the province had to say (did he submit the HST to referendum before moving ahead?).  This fits well with DeJong’s interpretation of the latest Dominion Bond Rating Service report which he calls supportive of the BC Liberal government and implies that the province’s credit rating will surely take a hit if we have the audacity to elect someone else. It would be the subject of ridicule were it not for the reporting that fails to call his point of view into question, or to cite the folks who might care to interpret the report in another fashion. Our dear Liberals can’t seem to find anything remotely resembling a principle or the truth. They need to be held to account for their misdeeds, as to their enablers in the press, especially so that those who come along after them will know just what to expect.

Old Sock (and stuff)



The mailbox brought this today, and I was looking forward to it as I traipsed off for coffee with the Cancer Ward Coffee Clatch. Too bad, it sounds as though Eric has lost a good part of his game, that part that made his fame and fortune back in the days of Mayall, the Yardbirds, Powerhouse, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes. There’s some really nice stuff here, but it sounds to me like a record I will want to hear when I tire of tasty rips, even ripped-off rips like Strange Brew/Cross Cus Saw) which I don’t see happening any time soon. Perhaps sadly, I insist on retaining an endearment for good bits of music from a past that goes well back into the ’50s, and through the wonder of recorded music, stretches back several additional decades. Yup, this is a bit of a deck-chair-with-umbrella-drinks set, reminding me a little of some earlier Clapton kick-backs (There’s One In Every Crowd?). On the other hand, I was listening to KPLU’s All Blues the other night and Kessler played Sista Monica Parker’s Never Say Never: I liked it enough that I went to CDBaby and bought the download version of Soul, Blues and Ballads (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sistamonicaparker12). Good stuff, no Tin Pan Alley here, strong vocals, great accompaniment, great tunes. Eric, go find some fire.


So while we’re at it, I feel compelled to comment on Stephen Harper’s latest tart comment about how Canadians just aren’t training for the right jobs. It’s absolutely amazing how quickly a free market ideologue will abandon the notion of a free market when the market doesn’t do what he thinks it should, meaning that it doesn’t pay off quickly enough or deeply enough for his prime constituency and needs to be nudged. It’s funny how, in Stephen’s mind, associations of businesses (cartels) are just fine, but associations of working folks are an impediment to economic progress. He decries that there are many jobs going begging when unemployment is altogether too stubbornly high, but fails to mention that employers are loathe to pay decent wages or ensure decent working conditions. Yes there is fabulous money to be made in the tar sands operations, but the costs of living in proximity are also staggering and there are few, if any, real living communities where a family, for instance, would choose to locate and raise children. So on top of all the other downsides to the Fort Mac shuffle is the squadrons of aircraft ferrying working folks back and forth to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island so they can spend some time in a civilized (?) environment while they’re on hiatus. Do we need to mention the gambit of bringing in low-cost foreign workers to do an end run around labour legislation?

And another old sock is the subject of last night’s Rant on The Mercer Report (http://rickmercer.com/Rick-s-Rant/Blog/March-2013/The-Action-Plan-is-Advertising-the-Action-Plan.aspx) along with the ongoing airing/printing of partisan advertising by the current Liberal régime in Victoria. Worth a read as it really is one of those things that makes me want to rub my eyes and shake my head.


Classy Guy, That Stephen Harper



Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.

From the Vancouver Sun:

“At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Harper said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Venezuela+slams+Harper+insensitive+impertinent+statement/8059735/story.html#ixzz2Mon6htzP

Of course, the Venezuelan government sent a note of protest. They, too, shouldn’t have said anything. Is it any surprise that a leader held in complete thrall to the fossil fuel industry would be happy to see the passing of someone who has used wealth to fund education, housing, healthcare and the general welfare of the general populace?

Once again, Mr. Harper has shown a lack of diplomacy and a streak of unpleasantness unbecoming any leader, but especially a leader of a country that once considered itself to be polite and restrained, even with those with whom we disagreed.

Mr. Harper makes reference to a better future, but I suspect that his vision of the Venezuelan future is predicated on control of the economy and political apparatus by the likes of Carmona, and a return to the enrichment of the few who play nicely with Exxon, Shell and BP at the expense of the broader community of the citizens of Venezuela. His only love for democracy is for that version exported by the Washington Consensus, a rule of, by, and for corporations.

Lot’s Wife Syndrome

Don't Look Back?

Don’t Look Back?

We are witnesses to, as well as participants in an extraordinary set of circumstances as the much-touted end times fantasy becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy under the mandate of the greedy and ignorant (or wilfully malicious) managers of the world’s resources. This mythomania, based on what might likely have been men of ancient times with an agenda (more likely a set of agendas) so powerful that it persists to this day and continues to cloud minds all over the planet. Hence, we’re seeing a degradation of our living space that has already become fatal to thousands of species, and which threatens the existence of the rest of life on Earth. Certainly, there is much evidence of bad behaviour in many iterations of our current societies around the world, but nowhere is there more rampant corruption, greed and destructiveness than in the managerial levels, amongst those who would pass themselves off as the governors, including the puppet masters we rarely glimpse. It is a temptation to contemplate at great length the breadth and depth of the destruction being wrought on both our physical and social living spaces and, like Lot’s wife, to be come transfixed to the point of paralysis. There is a balance between being aware and being self-preserving, and a big part of bringing that balance into something constructive is to find what looks like a path forward, a manner of addressing crisis in a way that might produce results that help to redress some of the wrong being done.


Myths can be wondrous if we remember that they are metaphoric and can see current parallels. For instance, the Tower of Babel has some interesting current applications in the different levels of jargon that haunt the professional and political spheres, as well as the consistent failure of groups in conflict to analyze the roots of their conflict with an eye to stepping back from the brink of destruction. Of course, the destruction serves the interests of some, so the likelihood of finding clarity is considerably reduced and the probability of mayhem is greatly enhanced.


The story of Pandora’s Box is another tale that has serious implications for humanity in an age where we continue to unleash all manner of technology on ourselves without proper consideration of possible downstream toxicity. GMO tech is one of my favourite targets as everything that could go wrong with them appears to be doing so in a Murphian dystopian unravelling. We are also suffering from addiction to the same fossil fuels that seemed to make us so comfortable for the last dozen decades. Much of this is a result of doing what we can do instead of what we ought to do because it’s easier and more profitable (we can make it so) than working on the pressing problems of over-population, starvation, disease, degradation of the environment and whole societies based on inequity.

Bringing Us All Together



I spent the better part of last week helping out the local high school band leaders chaperone a group of students involved in the competition at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at Moscow, Idaho, a modified repeat of a 2008 session for me. The festival is loaded with talent, both performers and students, and there were a number of wonderful musical experiences involved. Bruce Foreman and Aaron Weinstein did a fabulous clinic on chord melody in which the personal and musical chemistry was blatant, and the contrast in sense of humour between New York and L.A. made for a lot of amusement while these two gentlemen covered a fabulous amount of ground relating to both solo and comping. Weinstein is primarily a violinist, but brought a mandolin to this session and showed versatility and flash, as well as solid technique. Foreman had been part of the ensemble backing Dee Daniels the previous evening, and epitomized all that is good with jazz guitar playing, taste, restraint, fluidity with just a touch of grit, and tremendous musical sense.


There were a multitude of gratifying performances by students from near and far. There are a number of schools in the Northwest US who have killer programs and who graduate legions of accomplished musicians. Our own little backwater punches well above its weight, and has for years due, in large part, to a history of superior teaching by the likes of Barry Miller and, for the last while, Greg and Sarah Falls. Sarah is the current director and has done the Moscow Rag for the last dozen years or so. We only had a dozen or so students this time, most of whom achieved some form of recognition, and worthy candidates they were. My favourite performance by a student was a piano recital, just two songs, by Evan Mayne from Bloomington, Indiana, playing pieces by Wayne Shorter and Charlie Parker. Superior chord voicings, great time, able solo and ensemble playing, evocative of early Herbie Hancock.


As the adjudicators spoke to students following  the performances, I often heard the questions of who the influences were and whether the student would be thinking of continuing in music. I was struck by a couple of consistent answers:

1) the knowledge of jazz antecedents was spotty at best in most cases. Students would either deny knowing of a particular musician’s work, or would assent in a non-committal fashion that made it clear that the student had little or no knowledge of those who blazed the trail.


2)  there were not too many who were willing to commit to a career as a jazz musician, or as a musician of any sort. Even so, when the numbers were added up, we might very well arrive at a figure that would promise disappointment for the majority of even this talented group. The more musicians, the merrier, but that presupposes that most of us won’t be looking to make a living playing music, but rather that we will enjoy playing recreationally as a way to enrich our social, spiritual and intellectual lives in the context of a career in another field.


At the wrap-up concert on Saturday evening, festival director John Clayton trotted out the notion of music as a unifying force. Lovely. However, there seemed to be a persistent current through the competition of weeding out the the losers from the winners and preparing those winners for the notion of a dog-eat-dog world of musical competition. This is partly valid in terms of the reality of the music business, but I find that some of it is misplaced in the overall context of a musical education, particularly where the playing and enjoyment of music is such a personal and subjective phenomenon, and where people mature musically at very different stages of life. Perhaps some of this is inherent in a quiet way to the philosophy of the Festival, but it would be nice to see it made apparent. There is also the trait of much of the music falling within certain parameters, both in the Festival and in the music business in general, where taste is, to a certain extent, dictated by those who sell the charts, those who select what gets airplay, and who is judged to be stageworthy. It could be my lack of inquisitiveness, but I didn’t see a lot of mention of writing or presentation of original work, and most of the performances were of rehearsed pieces, often with rehearsed solos. This works for classical music, but it seems to me that one of the major tenets of jazz is a measure of spontaneity and improvisation: I would like to see more opportunity for this kind of activity in a relaxed and non-judgemental ambience. It would be easy, though, to feature some serious difficulties fitting this into the already dense schedule of the Festival.

My last gripe is a broader sense that commericalism has inserted itself even deeper into the festival, with constant, almost hectoring, reminders of the sponsors, and some of the repeated self-congratulatory rhetoric from the stage. The festival is a blast in itself and doesn’t need to blow its own laudatory horn.