Wednesday, July 29, 2009

that early morning ritual

A scowling hiss escapes the coffee machine
with satisfaction marking the earcon of empty

Farts and burps inside the working fridge
further satisfying anthropomorphic need

Drapes holding on remembering
deriving its fresh from nature’s news

Digital appliances hum softly glow
piercing diodes of red blue green

The box spring groans sweet goodnight
as I cool my leg along her exposed thigh

Together a never ending jazz concerto
Heisenberg’s eternal law of space and time

At the peak of night just before dawn
the furniture rises in ritual cacophony

Only to subside unconcerned
with the bird songs of first morning

©2009 Leigh R. Wolf

Monday, July 20, 2009

The First Church of the Bomb

(In Excelcias Blammo)
Evolving from the latest flesh Extropians emerge
With faction’s fear calling monads must converge
State terrorism ready to deal with your urge
Killing all you love in the coming surge

Lessons earned go unlearned in the Middle East
Those who get the lessons the ones that need it least
You cannot get it from a rabbi, Imam, politico, or priest
In lands of unleavened bread you learn to add some yeast

We worship The Church of the Bomb
That’s Capital B - OMB!
We worship the action all night long!

Watch the water rise and carry us in tow
How long will be our journey is how high we have to go
At the end of time is what we do not know
The lessons lost are cost when expecting the mortal blow

Evolving from the latest tech, Extropians invert
Minutes before there’s still time left to convert
Imagine a landing where no one gets hurt
Instant evolution is better than dirt

Doktor T says to get to know the source of God
There’s a mystery surrounds us and it is quite odd
That history confounds us with a legacy of fraud
That which will astounds us at one trillion baud

As it is, as it was, as it always shall be!
As it is, as it was, as it always shall be!

©2009 Leigh Richard Wolf

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Alice In Wonderland Festival

a renaissance of neighbourhood celebration
The trail leading into Vancouver’s Trout Lake Park was rich with streamers and banners floating past me as I walked towards a band of musicians standing together, tuning up, dressed in brightly coloured medieval frippery. Listening to their banter I sensed their easy excitement. It was all part of the 15th Annual Alice In Wonderland Festival as conceived by the Community Arts Workshop Society (CAWS), a non-profit founded to serve community by providing enlightened entertainment for families. Over fifty performers and an equal number of volunteers came together last Sunday (July 12th) to make a few thousand kids and their parents feel very, very happy.

Amazing Entertainments (plus great food!)
Alice is about adults serving children and having a great time while doing so. A mid-Summer celebration, the Alice in Wonderland Festival offers the audience Alice-themed inter-activities like rabbit holes to climb into, caucus races to dispute, croquet games with beautifully costumed pink flamingos, and a host of other activities including face painting, music from four unique bands, and tables of fabulous donated foods all at no cost. The food line up went on for hours serving hundreds of sandwiches, muffins, cakes, cookies, juice, water, and of course, pots and pots of tea. Feeding the east end, both culturally and spiritually, using banners, parades, amazing costumes, interesting music, in a lovely, natural setting and then serving a fine luncheon as well, is totally worthy and Dan Vie and his Community Arts Workshop Society have our respect.

Many “teachable moments”

Although everyone was delighted with the variety of entertainment it was those kids at an age where it is still easy to enter into a state of enchantment that appreciated the days activities the most. And on this day, every child in attendance shared an intense and fantastic experience. From the cool ten-year old boy with the ultimate Mohawk haircut who, thanks to Mom, learned the value of donating his two bucks and paying it forward. Or the pixelated little five-year old red-haired girl wandering, her Mom nearby, asking grown-ups if they wanted her autograph. Politely, many were compliant and said yes delighting her further. The Alice Festival has been designed to aim straight at our softest spots and re-awaken that bliss center found in everyone.

Interactive, Immersive, and Inclusive
In the week previous, in a promotional event at English Bay, CAWS tried to set a new Guinness Book World Record by gathering 52 Alice’s in one place, but a week later at the event easily more than 100 girls arrived dressed in the required blue pinafore dress. There were Alices of every variety - the usual little, girls as Alice, but older women and infants as Alice, punk Alices, teen Alices, Japanese Alices (at least six), and too many Cheshire Cats, Mad Hatters, and perhaps a hundred different playing cards were represented in every suit. This is homegrown entertainment at its most interactive, immersive, and inclusive. The children had obviously laboured on their costume creations for hours and the the gleam of pride in their eyes verified the effort.

Neighbours Seeding Neighbours
Feeding between 2500-3000 people, on a very limited budget, is supplemented by asking the community to contribute. So people brought along food to share with their neighbours. Like the Mom with two girls who brought pan squares made at home, or the young woman who dropped off a Safeway apple pie or the man who, having stumbled upon the event, was so pleased he ran to his truck and brought back a watermelon. Neighbours sharing with neighbours amidst celebration in a lovely park is a splendid idea indeed.

How Canadian...
This was also a truly multicultural event with everyone in attendance feeling every welcome. Two Moslem moms, with limited funds, asked if they could eat without donating. It was explained that everything was free and not based on whether they could contribute. They were pleased and grateful and later their kids came back and gorged on the melon. Understaffed by half, with limited facilities that stressed Trout Lake Park’s resources the Festival has, for the past 15 years, faithfully served this east side neighbourhood. Where else, at no cost, is your belly filled, your eyes and mind delighted, and your imagination inspired?

The Alice In Wonderland Festival is an annual celebration held at the same location for fifteen years. Images and video are available from the Community Arts Workshop Society's web site at:

http://www.communityartsworkshop.com/

© 2009 Leigh R. Wolf

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Canada at a Crossroads: Re:Confederation

Is Quebec A Sovereign Nation?

What if Quebec Separates?
Suffice to say the question of independence is rarely entertained seriously these days inside “la belle Provance.” Traditional economic and political agendas are driving Quebec’s future with the separatist party out of power and even the whiff of a vote a decade away. But the day will finally come and the people will, in the spirit of René Levesque, finally achieve the needed majority to succeed from Canada. What happens the day after? Below I offer my speculation on a few of the abundant possibilities found under such a scenario.

Do Not Doubt the Quebecois
Funny how things like splitting a nation into parts creates an internal animosity in Canada. Almost as much animosity as not separating has caused within Quebec itself. It is about this sense of Quebecois’ existential despair that I write. That Quebec is already emotionally separate is a fact, the question is about political independence and, ultimately, cross-cultural inter-dependence.

Go Ahead, I Dare You
In English, try and actually criticize Quebec in front of a Quebecois and watch what happens. You are rebutted in two official languages by three levels of convincing argument in a coordinated strategy that will quickly come to a resolution by you or you will suffer. Pretty much anyone born speaking french inside Quebec can be convinced and the next referendum will be grassroots (Internet-based) and no doubt effective. No doubt about it, the independence movement in Quebec will eventually win.

As A Canadian Citizen
I beleieve that before Quebec votes to separate we must, as a nation, come together seeking spiritual renewal in a process of Reconfederation. I suggest this as a British Columbian and a Canadian citizen, knowing in effect that through some suggestions I am downgrading the value of my own citizenship, but I do so with critical provisos. The first one being about the actual process of negotiation.

Three Sides Lined Up
I believe that Quebec has done to Canada exactly what Canada did in it’s negotiations with Britain - that is they have patiently waited hundreds of years for the real talks to begin. That kind of legendary patience is where true wisdom accrues and in this country is usually the domain of First Nations who have suffered patiently for more than five hundred years. It is this suffering that gives them the wisdom to lead at the table and is why First Nations are intrinsic to the negotiations. Each entity, The Nation of Canada, The Provinces, and First Nations must all be invited and welcomed at the Re:Confederation Table.

The Players
The negotiation process will be long, perhaps ten to fifteen years, and must be negotiated between English Canada, as represented by the current Federal Government representing the national status quo, infrastructure and system, Quebec, the Provinces, and the Territories, would have the same collective negotiating power and would represent mid-level interests. Ultimately, the Assembly of First Nations would approach the table, as equal partners, representing the land, the environment, and the people’s interests, thought's, and feelings, and other such intangible investments.

PLaying the Democracy Card
The lines are clearly drawn with Federal forces supporting the status que, French and Provincial forces eager for independent change - each on their terms, First Nations are quite literally desperate for any change at all and neatly bookends the process. Each vision of Canada is unique and if every is actually at the table, and so respected, then a historic moment will have truly happened and major leaps can be accomplished. The feds want continuity, pre-conditioned, over a longer period time. This suits neither Quebec nor First Nations as both are environmentally onside and will outrage the First Nations who have been shedding their tears for the environment long before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. This unique opportunity would allow all the players to be recognised and treated fairly without Quebec attempting to leave in a huff.

One Possible Scenario (out of thousands)
The actual breaking up the real estate is where Feds and First Nations connect by relegating Quebec to a relatively thin strip of territory running from Gaspé in the east all the way to Aylmer in the west on the Ontario border. This area will encompass Quebec City, Montreal, Chibougamou and the U.S. border. This new perspective, about half the previous size, would make a large sized state, a wee bit larger than even New York state, and the offer would no doubt kick off a new internal shit storm inside the land of the french language in North America. Any possible solution is going to take much compromise and the possibilities are multifold.

The U.S. Umbrella Theory
But negotiation and compromise will be needed when Quebec has it’s internal majority and thus democratically deciding to abandon Canada. Speculation about what would happen after that is always fun. One scenario suggests B.C. and Alberta then break away to create a mini-super state, under the protection of the U.S.A. to who they would owe great thanks and undoubtably much more in cash dollars. The same could be said of any independent state that emerges from the break-up of Canada. They will be a much smaller mouse sleeping beside the elephant and thereby easier to ignore when the stifled screams begin. The truth is that only by surviving as a complete entity can Canada avoid being eaten up by a starving United States.

The "friendly" C.I.A.
Such a break-up would be the saving grace for the United States who, fearing economic ruin, sees the natural resources to the north and contemplates the unimaginable. If the CIA could get Quebec to leave Canada, the U.S. would suddenly be in a great position to pick up a few valuable possessions, cheap. Of course the C.I.A. would never operate in a friendly foreign nation secretly or would they? My own paranoia goes so far as to wonder why Canada, unlike every other Parliamentary democracy (Australia, Britain, New Zealand, France) has never elected a “Labour” government. In Canada, the NDP, Canada’s socialist party has never been in power. When you consider the odds of Labour in power in every Parlimentary democracy except in Canada - you naturally begin thinking of the C.I.A.

Can Quebec Go It Alone? (can anyone?)
The question remains? Is Quebec a separate nation? The answer was culturally - yes. Quebec has managed to sustain their langauge and define their culture in a way that, partially, helps define every Canadian who takes lessons of patience, negotiation, and tolerence from our history. On the ground, politically, it seems that Quebec’s chances of landing outside the net of the U.S. is highly unlikely, even if Quebec loses the James Bay Hydro power in the deal. Even with EU support, the reality of ecnomic independence, espcially without James Bay, would be mitigated by lumber prices, tourism, and running deficits for the first ten years, only if the population want to keep all essential services including health care.

Support From Dad
Quebec has a pretty good deal. In Canada the central (Federal) government makes payments, wrought from income tax, to the Provinces. The Feds determine the bottom line and then divide the Provinces into the catagories of either have or have not. The haves pay into a fund, which the Feds top up, then the have-nots take from the fund and in this way no province gets left too far behind and are unable to pay for health care and other essential services. It is a socialist concept enacted by the centrist-right Liberal Party in more tolerant times. (These days the Liberal Party seems more conservative than the Conservative Party of Canada.)

re:Confederation or lose Quebec and more.
As I said previously, Quebec has a decent deal considering that last year it qualified as a Have-Not Province. That as such they received payments from the Government is not progress. Such an act does not bode well for the Seperatist Movement and the long-term economic outlook will not be kind to the manufacturing and resource extraction-based industries in Quebec. But having lived inside, for three years in my mid-late-twenties, it is not speculation when I write about the inevitability of the split. As a British Columbian I have as much right as a Newfie does to complain, about being ignored by central Canada, but Quebec’s argument with Ontario is a cage match that has lasted some three-hundred years. Ultimately, the only hope for Canada, unless it wants to split apart and be gobbled up, is some form of Reconfederation where everyone comes to the table and everyone has their chance to speak, be heard, and able to vote. If Quebec ever does decide to leave, I want my say in how it happens ideally before it happens.

© 2009 Leigh Richard Wolf

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We Had Him (and he was good)

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Thirteen Days Older

I was born on the same day as Madonna and thirteen days before Michael Jackson and I have always had an affinity with both of these pop stars. With MJ it was love at first viewing on the Ed Sullivan show when the Jackson Five performed their classic hit ABC. What was not to love? He sang and he danced unbelievably well and had all the best lines. I had always felt an affinity to MJ but I did not know about the closeness in our ages until later when she of the same birthday arrived on scene.

The Memorial
The memorial for Michael Jackson actually was one of the black cultural events in an era of such events, including his trial. Although he truly was a multicultural artist, this was a black moment of public solidarity and consolidation. Like the BET Awards on super-steroids. it was a decent celebration of a man and his achievements. In some ways the event was a sustained plea of innocence, as if the trial never ended and a jury could still return a surprise verdict of guilty.

Just Too Much...
This has always been about an excess of talent, lifestyle, addictions, and tragedies. In a way, credit the Great Spirit that MJ has left us. Obviously such a great spirit living in as an empty shell was simply unacceptable to the creator. As an entertainer MJ was unsurpassable and as a human he was surely paradoxical. As tender as a six-wek old faun, as sensitive as a verteran of the psychic fairs, as nimble as a jackrabbit, and as judged as in the story of Christ. This was a man who suffered too much, who revelled too much, who played too much, and finally jumped off the train.

Stories Not Told
There was so much about the man we did not know and over time we will be force fed more of the story but there are, thank goodness, countless stories that won’t be told. Stories about charity works in hospitals’ cancer wards or visiting with Heads of State make headlines alongside tales of his hyperbaric chambers and the pursuing the bones of Charlie Chaplin. What is the most interesting are the stories of MJ the human who was a son, brother, friend, father, and fool.

The Turning Point (for many)
The man was complex to say the least. It is impossible to discuss the subject without referring to the child abuse allegations. Al Sharpton and others protested his innocence during the memorial to an audience of faithful fans who never believed the allegations to begin with. Was he really a pedophile or was this all just a misunderstanding? The $22 Million Dollar settlement paid by Jackson to a 12 year-old boy was the public moment when the truth was revealed and from then on MJ began to go weirdly underground. Without the benefit of a trial this payment served as a guilty plea from a man who could, the world knew, afford to buy his own justice.

He Chose (not) To Believe
His skin colour and tone got lighter and whiter until it made no difference if he was black or white. Whether this was medical condition or a personal choice matters not. He had almost completely transformed himself from his Off The Wall-era look and feel. Now we begin to hear about the master manipulator who regaled his audience with tales of his goodness and kindness and who never wanted the warts to show. Perhaps, like George W. Bush, MJ had sociopathic or even psychopathic tendencies and was able to believe certain truths while ignoring other truths depending on his mental state.

History (begging a pardon but never convicted)
Paraphrasing Bill Clinton, “there is nothing wrong with Michael Jackson that could not be overshadowed by what was right about Michael Jackson.” Thus the final verdict has been turned in and now shall be read into the record. We the jury find MJ guilty of certain crimes that have extenuating circumstances that mitigate his sentence to time served on Earth (fifty years) and now he has been released. His story will be debated for generations by those interested in his lasting impact on western and global culture.

This Is Far From Over
We live in extremely interesting times and we must acknowledge those moments when certain global cultural icons (Elvis, John Lennon, Mao) leave the planet they leave a huge content gap they once filled. The ensuing vacuum is filled with recycled and repurposed materials and so begins the scramble to cash-in on the resurgence which, given the hype, should exceed the turnstyle returns on Elvis, a tidy $100 million dollars per year. Then comes the memorial CD of greatest hits, a Jackson Family Reumion Tour CD and DVD, and right about then it should be little Blanket’s turn to take over the spotlight. This is a story of paradox, illusion, and other forms of misdirection that will never be told completely to the satisfaction of his millions of followers and fans. As Maya Angelou put it succinctly, “we had him and we are the world.”

© 2009 Leigh R. Wolf