June 29, 2009

40 Years After Stonewall

Forty years ago yesterday a routine police raid on a gay bar in new York City called "Stonewall" turned anything but routine. Patrons resisted arrest and supportive Village residents started rioting to protest police agression and the obviously discriminatory and shameful raids. While not the first riot to protest police brutality and inequality against LGBT people, Stonewall was a crucible moment that spawned the gay rights movement in the U.S. and also here in Canada.

June 26, 2009


This is how I shall always remember Michael Jackson; at his peak of creative genuis, his talent blinding as a supernova, his flash of innovation and melodic genius. This video is his finest moment, especially from 3:38 onward, when he takes off into the stratosphere.

June 25, 2009

August 29, 1958-June 25, 2009

An Angel treads no more

Farrah Fawcett
February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009

Mapping Drugs

[from BBC News]

The 2009 World Drugs Report is out and Cannabis is still the most widely produced and used drug in the world. It is also a drug that is increasing in potency. In the last decade, the amount of THC (the harmful component) found in marijuana from North America - grown using the latest techniques - has almost doubled.

The World Drugs Report shows consumption of both cannabis and cocaine, at least in the western world, remains steady or is in decline. In the last decade, cocaine use in the USA among 10th and 12th grade high school students fell by 40% and 30%.

June 23, 2009

Being Tim Burton

Images from Tim Burton's adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" are starting to surface on the internets, and all I can say is "wow". The art direction looks like it will be superb, if not a little creepy (well, it is Tim Burton). For the record, the Mad Hatter is played by Johnny Depp, and not Elijah Wood or Carrot Top as it may appear. That's Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Shivers...

June 19, 2009

It Might Get Loud

Okay, so perhaps like thousands of other young boys I wanted to be a guitar hero. I am not ashamed to admit that in the beginning my primary influence was Ace Frehley, he of KISS fame. By the late 80s I was won over by The Edge of U2 and much air guitar was had.

Alas, fate had other plans for me but a new documentary coming soon takes a look at three iconic players and their instruments. You can view the trailer here.

June 12, 2009

The Claw Emerges

Finishing touches are being made to U2's massive set ("The Claw") in Barcelona, where they are launching their upcoming world tour on June 30. [click photos to enlarge]

June 11, 2009

Hometown Loss

I am saddened to report that St. Paul's church, in my hometown of Aylmer, Quebec, was completely gutted by fire last night. The flames raged for hours and eventually brought down the roof and the iconic steeple. 

St. Paul's was erected in 1862 by the French Catholic parish and was the landmark structure of Aylmer. You could see its steeple for miles. In fact, on a clear day you could pick it out as you drove north towards Ottawa on the 416--in the distance, across the Ottawa River, you could always see the steeple rising above the valley. 

Generations of Aylmer's citizenry were baptized, married, and eulogized at St. Paul's. Right across the street is St. Paul's School, where my dad went to primary school. Aylmer (pop. 41,000) has always been a small community and despite its forced amalgamation in 2002 with Hull and Gatineau to form a new City of Gatineau, Aylmer retained its own identity and civic pride. The loss of St. Paul's Church will be deeply felt across the city.

Update: “There is some evidence that it may have been a criminal act,” police spokeswoman Isabelle Poirier told reporters Thursday morning.

June 9, 2009

20th anniversary of free elections in Poland!

[from u2.com] 'New Year's Day' is the soundtrack to a new TV spot from The European Commission, celebrating the 20th anniversary of free elections in Poland this month. 

The video takes place on the birthday of a Polish girl Marta who was born on the 4th of June 1989 - the date of the first elections in Poland after the fall of Communism. It documents key events for Poland, such as the Solidarnosc movement with its leader Lech Walesa, Polish Round Table Talks, integration with NATO and the EU. 


June 8, 2009

With Pride

Mark and I joined a few others to represent QUAQE at Kingston's Pride March on Saturday. 

The Claw Has Landed

U2's in-the-round stage, dubbed "The Claw", has just landed in Barcelona for the opening gig of their upcoming world tour.  I can't wait to see them in Toronto in September!!

June 4, 2009

The Massacre that Didn't Happen

20 years ago today the Chinese government authorized the use of tanks and armed guards to clear Beijing's Tiananmen Square of pro-democracy demonstrators that had been gathering for several weeks. Hundreds of people, mostly university students, were killed. Others were most certainly abducted and executed, while some fled to live in exile.

I was just about to enter my first year at university, so I felt a strong affinity with these brave and passionate students, who were taking a stand against an oppressive regime.

In mainland China this date is referred to as "The June 4 Movement", and the Chinese government maintains that no one was killed in the Square. Eyewitness and photo evidence smuggled out of China shows otherwise, and the world media refers to this day as "The Tiananmen Square Massacre". 

The accompanying photo of the so-called "Tank Man" standing in front of a convoy of tanks is one of the late 20th-century's most iconic images, as compelling as John Filo's image of the Kent State shootings in May 1970.  The fate of this young man is not clear. Many believe he was taken into custody and executed. 

I stood on the same spot a few years ago on a trip to Beijing, taking photographs and knowing well that I was being watched by the plainclothed state police. In my small way I was marking a tragic piece of history, giving "Tank Man" my respect and thinking about what I take for granted and what, still, must be fought for in so many countries.  

June 2, 2009

Dick's About Face

Dick Cheney is on an aggressive save-my-legacy tour speaking all over the place to, ahem, set the record straight on the Bush II presidency and affiliated policies. 

In a recent interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren, he admitted that there was never any evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11th attacks. "On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9-11, there was never any evidence to prove that," he told the "On The Record" host in a joint interview with his daughter Liz. "There was "some reporting early on ... but that was never borne out". This in stark contrast to the piles of rhetoric he delivered during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. 

And then on Monday, he said that he supports gay marriage as long as it is deemed legal by state and not federal government. “I think that freedom means freedom for everyone," said the former V.P. "As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute to protect this, I don't support. I do believe that the historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue and I think that is the way it ought to be handled, on a state-by-state basis. ... But I don't have any problem with that. People ought to get a shot at that." It's hard to accept what appears to be the softening of a hard-line conservative, given Cheney has never before gone on the record to support civil rights for GLBT citizens.

Many are crying foul and pointing to Cheney's knack for revisionist history, as he defects blame for 9/11 to Richard Clarke and the CIA, for example, and as he struggles to redefine his image and reputation. Word is that a memoir is forthcoming. It may be the most incredulous read of the year, even better than a Dan Brown tome. More to come...


June 1, 2009

A long, long time AGO

I finally got to experience the new-and-improved Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) yesterday. The reimagining of the spaces is understated, tasteful, and stunning in its overall look and feel. Frank Gehry's design, unlike the disjointed crystal over at the ROM, breathes new life into the stuffy AGO, and awakes the building and collection. As one magazine put it, the new building is not so much a redesign as a thoughtful reconception of how to hang the venerable collection. The galleries are high and airy with wonderful natural light, allowing the viewer to appreciate both space and art at once. Walker Court, pictured here, has a new scuptural staircase that goes up past the glass ceiling and into the adjoining tower. What was fascinating to see was that Gehry had throngs of people wanting to walk up these stairs, as if walking up stairs took on a new aesthetic meaning from the stairs we walk up on a daily basis. Such is the power of art.