Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jackie Beat -Don't Tell Me You're Gay!

And just for some fun (via JMG)!

Happy New Year (ABBA)

All my best wishes for a New Year that brings you love, peace and much happiness.

Thank you to all the new friends that I have met this year and to all of my old friends who tolerated me for another one, I owe you a much better and happier Ray.

Love you all. (ABBA; not so much)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The ESCP Europe Human Experience

Got to love creativity and from business students yet. Who knew.

I wish we had You tube when I was in school.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Social Media Revolution

This is a re-posting of an excellent video produced by the authors of "Socialnomics".

"Social Media Revolution: Is social media a fad?

Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? This video details out social media facts and figures that are hard to ignore. This video is produced by the author of Socialnomics."

Cool music too...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Retro Xmas videos

These videos are a gift from my Monctonian Christmas elf - Brian Cormier, a fellow Christmas kitsch aficionado.
Enjoy a glimpse of what Christmas was like in the olden days when I was but a young innocent pouring out a glass of milk and setting out some cookies for Santa. (OK, I'm from Lewis Street; a bottle of Alpine and un gros mess de poutine rapées.)

And now, don't forget to sing along with the bouncing egg.

Will the world ever sing in perfect harmony? Maybe that can be our Christmas wish this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Need Christmas Spirit? CBC Christmas Sing-In delivers!

Here's one of my favourite carols which I heard at yesterday's CBC Christmas sing-in. I had a wonderfully Christmas time. The choir was incredible and being among a thousand other fine voices; singing with an amazing choir, brass ensemble and organ was very empowering.

Walking out of the church and into a snowy city wonderland just added that little bit extra to the feeling of really having kicked off the Christmas season. I enjoyed singing with my very fine tenor husband and my very talented and beautiful BFF. I recommend the event highly.

The concert will be broadcast on CBC radio here and in Europe several times over the holidays:

December 20th
The CBC Christmas Sing-In will be heard around the world on members stations of the European Broadcasting Union, as part of the Euroradio Special Day of Christmas Music.

On Christmas Day:

The CBC Christmas Sing-In will be rebroadcast across Canada on Christmas Day on these channels and at these times:

CBC Radio 2 at 9:00 am with host Kelly Rice
CBC Radio 1 at 12:00 pm with host Kelly Rice
Find your frequency for CBC Radio 1 and CBC Radio 2

Espace Musique at 4:30 pm with host Mario Paquet
Find your frequency for Espace Musique.

Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 137) at various times.

You will also be able to tune in to the Sing-In on CBC Radio 2's Concerts on Demand website.

The program's accent was on Canadian music and arrangements, thus my choice of the Huron Carol for the video.

The images of winter I feel compliment the song. It's how I imagined it to be on those cold 17th century nights when the Jesuit missionaries composed this song in the Algonquin language to brainwash the natives.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gays Flogged in Pakistan

Via Liveleak and Toweleroad, this very disturbing video should give us in the west a bit of a reality check when it comes to the state of human rights for gays in the world.

This happens publicly on the streets of our so-called partners in the war against terrorism; Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc.. This level of violence and worse also happens however, not so publicly in our own country as well as other NATO and Commonwealth partners, uh Uganda, anyone?

We are blessed in Canada to have legal protection under the Charter of Rights, but we shouldn't remain complacent as long as this barbarism goes on around us.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December Song - New Holiday classic?

Already the composer and performer of a contemporary Christmas song:Last Christmas, Georges Michael is releasing a new seasonal offering this Christmas: December Song.

I find the animation in the video beautiful and a refreshing change from the regular Christmas look; certainly an improvement over his 1984 video with the faux ski outing with his faux girlfriend.

Have a look and let me know what you think. Will it be a new Christmas classic?

Last Christmas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Santa Stopped By To Decorate The Christmas Tree

Is everybody getting in the Christmas Spirit? I know there are some out there (no names needed) who"scrooge" about hearing Christmas music played - sorry co-workers.

The way I see it, it's a much healthier mind altering drug than say crystal meth. You can stare at the pretty colours, sing jingle bells and act like a Christmas fairy without anyone batting an eye.

What's not to like?

Really, when you think about it, tinsel and consumerism is just a big, sparkly band-aid to protect us from a8 hour nights and family obligations.


Monday, November 30, 2009


What happens when a "disease" becomes passé, when the red ribbons are replaced with a new colour? Why and when does this happen?

I'd like to think it happens because a cure is found and helplessness has given way to the hopefulness that such a scorge could never happen again. I'd like to think that this happens because death and suffering have ceased to affect victims and their loved ones. I'd like to think that this happens because HIV infection has become no big deal - that brothers can tell sisters, sons - mothers; husbands - wives. That workers can tell employers; that lovers can tell their partners and that they will react with hugs, not disgust.

I'd like to think that everyone will remember that December 1st marks World AIDS Day.

The greatest threat to eradicating this "pandemic" is apathy. Because people rarely die from HIV infection in the west, we have turned our attention elsewhere. HIV is, after all such a "messy" business: gay men, drug users etc..

Just as well that we don't have to watch those morbid movies anymore. Philadelphia was great and all but really; Tom Hanks? Thank god we didn't have to deal with him pulling an "Adam Lambert" with Antonio Banderas.

The result is that HIV infection is increasing both among gay men (young and older) as well as women. And in the developing world, it continues to decimate countries, economies and families.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video. It depicts loving gay parents who do what parents are supposed to do, teach their children about the world and by doing so, they are teaching the world what a real family is: LOVE.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Miss the muppets.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And this smile is brought to you by...

I love these Flash Mob videos. Caught this one on the JMG blog and it made me smile and boogie.

It's one of two things that I came across today that was uplifting. And believe me when I say that they were really welcome.

The first happened while cappuccino-ing at my favourite Starfucks. I was meeting my BFF and while I was waiting for my cap. to arrive, the server (very cute blonde, very friendly) who took my order leaned over the counter and kissed his boyfriend (I assume). It wasn't a passionate tongue-fest, just a quick kiss that you would see a wife give her husband at the door, or a couple give each other as they return to work from their lunch date.

I found this very moving. This is a very busy Starbucks that is in the middle of a downtown campus. The place was crowded with students and other people of all nationalities, yet there wasn't a hint of hesitation as this young gay couple leaned over the counter and did what straight people do all the time without giving it a second thought.

Wow, we have come a long way, I thought. It made me smile.

Returning home from work, I was in my usual glum mood of late. It seems "Ray" had disappeared and in his place, this unhappy, sardonic shadow walked the planet in his place. I miss him and feel guilty about foisting this impostor upon my friends and family. So, as usual I sat at the computer to catch up on emails, send off a few "tweets" and check headlines when I came across this fabulous "flash mob" video shot at Sidney's Bondie beach this past weekend. (It's November for chrissake - I hate them!).

These youtube videos are great. It's like every musical fantasy I had growing up. You're in this pedestrian setting like a mall or church then suddenly everyone breaks out into a dance. ...who could ask for anything more?

I believe that I was born at a very special time in history. I experienced rock and roll & the Elvis craze, teened through Beatlemania and the sixties civil rights movements, disco'd and jazz-handed in the seventies, and witnessed the tragedy of AIDS and neo-conservatism in the eighties.

I never thought I'd live past fifty and now that I have, It feels that I spend much of my time facing life through a rear view mirror. My younger self was so busy running away that I was only too happy to burn bridges and break away from my past never believing in an instant that I would ever want to "go back". Of course, as we all know, home becomes more and more a magnet as you get older. There are some bridges that can't be rebuilt and some that shouldn't be but there is one that I would really love to fix. And that is the one leading to the person I used to be.

So, until I do,I'll take my happiness where I can find it; with good friends, good music, good scotch and a great big musical number led by a big old drag queen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remembering Remembrance Day.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

I can recite this poem by heart. That's not bragging. I can barely remember my phone number.

November the 11th was a big deal growing up. During the late fifties and middle sixties in Moncton, we all took 11/11/11 very seriously. We prepared for the day in class by making poppy cut-outs and drawing white crosses with the words "Lest We Forget" on faux parchment paper.

By the time I was entering my teens, the second world war was ancient history. However, I was never very far from reminders of WW1 and WW2. We had numerous portraits and photos on the wall. One in particular, was of the man who I later learned was my Grandmother's first husband who she lost in the first war. She was a widow at eighteen. She then married her cousin who became my paternal grandfather.

His son, my dad, lied about his age to get in the army in the second war to end all wars. For a poor guy from Lewis Street, boarding a train and sailing to Europe must have seemed like a pretty exciting adventure and a great way to escape Moncton.

Like many vets, Dad never talked about the war. I did manage to grab snippets of information while growing up. He was a motorcycle courier in Sicily, and saw action in France. Both of these experiences left him with a distaste for anything continental and a visceral dislike of anything Italian.

However, we did learn later that London seemed to agree with him much more as rumours about an English half sister proved to be seeded in reality.

The Royal Canadian Legion was a big part of our lives. Even I learned how to play darts.

At school, we would stand and recite "In Flanders Field" and maintain a two minute silence which followed a recorded version of a bugler playing "The Last Post" on the screechy sound system.

Later, as I entered the Beatle generation and the whole sixties anti-war movement, I paid little notice to this annual glumfest.

Ironic that in the idyllic age of Aquarius life was so black and white. We figured by paying respects to those who sacrificed in the two "big" wars, these old guys were giving their thumbs up to the Vietnam debacle. and war in general. We confused respect for history and the lessons learned with glorification of violence and the political right wing. In my defense, I'm all grown up now.

The war to end all wars, didn't. The world will likely not change. As long as men lust for power and wealth, we will have the human tragedy of innocents trodden over by the heavy machinery of greed and corruption.

But the human spirit is resilient.

I had issues with my father; we were never close. I wasn't the tool carryin', car fixin' kind of son he could relate to. Nevertheless, with age, I have come to appreciate how difficult it must have been to have served six years of his young life in a land so far away; so strange and so dangerous.

That he would never discuss his experiences (like so many other veterans) doesn't surprise me. As a man who was never comfortable showing emotions, unless angry or tearing up to Perry Como's rendition of Ave Maria at Christmas, Dad couldn't possible have known how to "bring closure" to that locked up episode of his life

We are a spoiled generation. We are ignorant not only of our forefathers history, but can barely recite what had happened twenty years ago. History has become as disposable as our cell phones. That's a shame. Hopefully some leader will come along who will pay bigger attention to vision than polls and do something about our country's education system.

Until then, the least we can do is to take a moment to remember and pay respect to those whose sacrifices allow us the luxury to live in security and peace - and enable us to make our own voices heard without threat of censor or persecution.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 Election (Part One): Enough, No More, Enough Election (Part One): Enough, No More, Enough

(I'm including this article in it's entirety as I gather my own thoughts around this issue -very passionate; very uncompromising. Is it warranted?)

Today I write more from my gut then maybe you have ever heard. Quite honestly to all those who have found my words inciting in the past, just move on. You are not going to be happy this morning reading further.

After a very restless night of sleep and some deep thought, I am ready to share with you some thoughts (this might not be my most 'smooth' writing). Forgive me that it has taken a while for me to compose myself so that I can write from my values and principles and not anger. Because my anger will blind me to the truths of yesterday. Let me do my best to share my deep beliefs and not out of anger or fear like the people who insist that we continue to create a system of Gay Apartheid in America. This will be part one of two parts on the election.

First and foremost, Enough!

We have poured over $100,000,000 in the last two years into efforts where Americans feel it is there obligation to vote on our freedom. The entire concept is repugnant and disgusting. That we for the last three decades have been drawn into this game of 'this is politics' and fighting these ballot box horrors so that maybe by in five, ten or twenty years we will have enough victories to force our federal government to protect our freedom is simply not acceptable anymore. Imagine the good we could have done with all that money. Imagine the civil rights movement we could have built if we had the leadership that was willing to think out of the box and put it on the line.

Second, call this campaign against us what it is - Gay Apartheid.

Refuse to allow any of our fellow Americans, President Obama or our allies to view this as a political issue who time hasn't quite come. America is in the process of creating a system of Gay Apartheid. We will not quietly sit and accept it. All over the place, this nation is creating one set of laws for LGBT Americans and another set for all other Americans. That is the classic definition of Apartheid. Either our political allies are for Gay Apartheid or against it. If they are against it, they must fight with us and no longer duck like President Obama did in Maine and Washington. There is no half way in fighting Apartheid.

Today many will claim that we must surrender the word marriage or accept some sort of separate but equal arrangement. It didn't work in the African-American struggle for freedom and it doesn't work for us. We want full equality with the same rights, benefits and privileges as all other Americans now. We say to those friends, allies and even in our own community who want to accept that second class citizenship, "Oh No You Don't!" We will accept no compromises, time-lines, incremental approaches with our freedom. Don't counsel patience as if this is a new issue. We have been fighting these ballot box bigots for over three decades. Enough.

Third, it is clear that the political establishment in Washington doesn't understand that we no longer willing to wait until it meets their timetable or political needs.

President Obama standing on the sidelines in Maine and Washington was appalling. The failure of our national organizations and leaders to demand his involvement was equally appalling. The outrageous act of the Democratic National Committee sending an email into Maine asking Maine Democrats to call into "NEW JERSEY" instead of to support the fight against bigotry was unbelievable. No one gets to sit on the sidelines in an epic battle against apartheid and no one gets a free pass. If you want our support, you have to earn it. We are way beyond where we will accept a little bit in 2009, some in 2010 and maybe more in the second term. Does anyone think after yesterday election results and the upcoming 2010 election, Obama has the ability to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and "DOMA" next year? Does anyone really believe we haven't already missed a historic opportunity in the first 10 months of this year? Only a courageous fighting President and Congress can now help turn us this around and that we have not seen so far. Enough.

Finally, yes, as a community we have every reason to be proud. We raised the money, we made the calls, we came not in anger and we made the case. My hats off to the brave people, gay and straight, of Maine and Washington who fought in the trenches. We all are so proud of you and to be part of your community. You have no idea how much we love you for your work, dignity and honor. However, it is no longer acceptable to be viewed as brave, patient warriors in defeat.

I don't want to be a brave warrior, I want to be a free one.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Will it be Mainely "yes" or Mainely "no"?

Today Mainers went to the polls to vote. On the ballot is a referendum to repeal last year's law approving same sex marriage.

So I'm following the twittersphere (and watching So You Think You Can Dance) for results as they come in. Polls indicated that it would be a very close vote...

from (Associated Press)
...The contest is considered too close to call, and both campaigns worked vigorously — with rallies, phone calls, e-mails and ads — to be sure their supporters cast votes in the off-year election.

If voters uphold the law, it will be the first time the electorate in any state has endorsed marital rights for same-sex couples, energizing activists nationwide and deflating a long-standing conservative argument that gay marriage lacks popular support.

Conversely, a repeal — in New England, the corner of the country most receptive to same-sex marriage — would be a jolting setback for the gay-rights movement and mark the first time voters overturned a gay-marriage law enacted by a legislature. When Californians voters rejected gay marriage a year ago, it was in response to a court ruling, not legislation.

Of course, I am hoping for a "no" victory. A "no" vote would represent a repudiation of those vile attack ads that the so called family values wing-nuts mounted.

What is with Americans? Of course there are good, compassionate and tolerant Americans in America, but, my god - the level of hate, bigotry, and absolute ignorance coming out of Fox News and other right wing media is unbelievable.

And what bothers me the most is that a huge number of these nuts are home-schooling their kids because they don't want them exposed to radical ideas like "evolution" or "global warming".

They're handing down to their children prejudices and beliefs that will not only add to the dumbing down of America, but will extinguish any hope that America could once again illuminate the world as a torch of liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

Now I'm going to get back to what Americans can do extremely well - banal entertainment, and watch the rest of SYTYCD before I raise my old heart rate to a level exceeding my warranty.

I leave you with two beautiful and touching musical numbers from two great Broadway composers. Rogers and Hammerstein, who in South Pacific, wrote what was at the time, a very controversial song about intolerance: "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught' and Stephen Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods.

They are sung by none other than Broadway 'Babs" herself. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Round every corner

Here's to all the good things that wait for us around the corner".

That was one of many toasts served up last night as we enjoyed the company of friends at a fabulous dinner party. It was an intimate affair, just close friends, good wine and lots of laughter. The perfect cure for a too long bout of "Oh, it sucks to be me, blues".

So maybe the secret to remaining positive is to not look too far ahead of that corner. Wait and see what's around it, deal with it if it's not what you expected or hoped for and enjoy it if it is. We seldom anticipate the crappy things that suddenly fall upon us; so maybe we can just assume that the good stuff will come as a surprise too. Why not?

Staying positive in the face of what happens around us is a gift.
And being around such people is a blessing because it really does rub off, a bit; at least temporarily.

I think that perhaps I just shouldn't care so much about things that I have very little control over. If things seem a bit depressing; hang in there - something better will come around the corner....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone

Came across a video of John Lloyd Young of The Jersey Boys singing a very moving version of You'll Never Walk Alone; that old Rogers and Hammerstein chestnut from Carousel. He was performing it at the LA AIDS WALK.

The venue and the song were of course very moving. I haven't heard the song for a long time and was never fond of the overblown way that it was usually sung. But this version was very stripped down and somehow it was like I heard the lyrics for the first time. Gone was the quasi religiousness (although it remains a favourite in the gospel repertoire) and up front was the very life affirming message in its lyrics.

It's a message for individuals as well as groups; whether we struggle with our own loneliness or with our community estrangement. Shit happens, life's not one long musical and it can be very painful just to get through another day. We cope by burying our head in the sand and ignoring it; by telling ourselves that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds - or by living better through chemistry.

What this song has made me realize is that loneliness is a much tougher adversary when battled alone; that the only effective way to combat it is with the support of friends. Now, friends can be family, or anyone that supports you and loves you for who you are - blemishes and all. They are there when you need them - whether you ask for it or not.

I am blessed with having such friends. I was going through a particularly bad spell this sumer. And I did what a lot of people do when they are wounded; I drew into myself. I didn't want to see anyone or hear from anyone. In fact, I rescinded an invitation to drop by my place rather abruptly. Well, that didn't go over well. A couple of my friends came knocking on my door anyway. They did not catch me in my best Martha Stewart moment.

I was angry, sad and feeling very vulnerable. They were just there and watched the soap opera. It was the first time in a long, long while when I can actually say that I was totally unguarded. I was a mess and guess what; they liked me, they really liked me. It was rather embarrassing.

So after a lot of wine and tears, they left and I was left feeling exhausted and humbled. This truly caught me off guard.

Has my life turned around? No. Do I still think, "Why bother?", yes. But, I also know that I have friends and a husband that won't let me quit. And I, as a friend will do what I can to prop up those dear to me. I will be that umbrella in the shit storm.

Take a few minutes and listen to these lyrics. And, I'm sure it will not come as a surprise to "my friends" that I have chosen this beautiful Judy Garland rendition. First, because no one sings hope like the "Over the Rainbow" girl and second, noone can put across a lyric like this icon.

Judy! Judy! Judy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Singing and dancing with GLEE!

I Say A Little Prayer
– from GLEE

Yes, I admit, hubby and I are real big fans of GLEE. With singing and dancing football players, vulnerable, but bitchy cheerleaders, a way cool teacher, and a gym coach that made mine look like Mr. Rodgers; the show almost makes me nostalgic for those somber hallowed halls of Moncton High. Almost.

Now, you throw in some show tunes with a smattering of Burt Bacharach and you’ve got gay-bait written all over it. So it comes to no surprise that there are a lot of us huddling around the TV projecting ourselves onto those singing and dancing younger versions of ourselves or what had wished was us. If only life could just be a musical?

But it's not, Blanche, it's not. But we do have You Tube where we can all be Micky and Judy (look it up, kids); and put on our own show. So it came to no surprise that I should happen upon this little gem via Towelroad.

Now, for you straight friends, this may be a little scary. Not just because it’s so gay that it makes Perez Hilton look like Don Cherry, (actually , he does a bit, doesn't he?) but because these guys could be the blue collar worker than you passed along the street today (If that street was Ste-Catherine somewhere in the vicinity of Priape’s)

Now, I don’t know why all those religious type folk in Maine get their britches in knots over the fear that letting gay people marry will expose their children to corruption. Probably because the Catholic Church, who is spearheading the fight to roll back civil rights in our neighbouring state, has very intimate experience with exposing themselves to children, and as for corruption?.

In any case, one look at this video and you will see that we are not to be feared. Instead of stalking innocents and desecrating the sanctity of marriage, we are just as pleased as punch to go down to the family room and play with, uh, amoung ourselves. There now, feel safer?

I Say a Little Prayer – The “otter” version

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Monday, October 12, 2009

And now a word from your blogger…

I haven’t been posting much lately as those few who check in have noticed. Reasons? Well, to tell the truth I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. A lot of things have changed in my life, work, home, seasons – and I haven’t been adapting to these changes very well. Normally, I’m a guy who loves change, is challenged and stimulated by looking forward to something new.

This is a bit ironic I suppose because as a kid I wanted nothing more than security and routine.
There’s comfort in knowing what to expect (except when what’s expected isn’t so comforting).

One of the primary rules in writing a blog is to write about something that you’re passionate about. When you’re feeling tired, old and irrelevant, passion is very hard to come by. ( I feel that I could use some spiritual Viagra.) So, I’ve taken a bit of a break and posted a few videos that I found interesting or amusing - nothing very original or insightful. You see, I have had this problem all of my life of trying to meet other people’s expectations, of trying to not disappoint anyone. It’s a common gay affliction: the best boy syndrome.

Consequently, I haven’t been completely candid and if I can’t be honest with what is essentially an electronic diary, well….

I started this blog to express my view of the world and to motivate me to write.

So, I’m going to make an effort to write things that matter to me without censuring myself. I will write of matters that have personal resonance for me, I will rant about political stupidity and cultural myopia. And I will be focusing on civil and human rights as they apply to my neighbour, my province, my country, my world. And I may just post some totally useless and campy items because they make me smile or remember.

So let’s start off with this very inspiring speech by David Mixner a renown political activist and Democrat who tells the crowd at this weekend’s National Equality March in Washington .that they “stand on the shoulders of giants”…

Finally, at the end of this Canadian Thanksgiving Day Weekend, I want to express my thanks for The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for protecting us from the tyranny of the majority and thus ensuring that my marriage will never have to fall victim to a misguided democratic grass roots movement as happened in California and threatens to take place in Maine.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Monty Python!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Federal Leaders sing-a-long.

Was feeling a little discouraged about the pettiness of our so called leaders. And living in Québec, I don't often witness unabashed patriotism. So this song from the Arrogant Worms gives me a boost. I feel like sending it to Harper, Ignatieff, Layton, and Duceppe so that they may take a moment out of the politicking to realize that their positions as Canadian political leaders is an honour to be respected. Yes, even you, Gilles. Your paycheck and soapbox is paid for by ALL Canadians. Sing out loud and proud....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Invited to an election and no one shows up.

I've been thinking a lot lately about democracy since I listened to last weeks Ideas show on CBC radio. Hosted my by old Canadian Studies Prof, Paul Kennedy, the show wrestles with the question: is democracy always a good thing? (The second part airs Tuesday night.)

In the meantime, as a resident of Montréal and a citizen of Canada I am soon to be faced with the quandary of having to cast a vote in a civic election where I have a choice of a péquiste warhorse and an scandal ridden incumbent. On the national side, there is Harper (the anti-Canadian), Ignatieff (the born again Canadian) and Layton (the caring Canadian). As for "other category" we have Elizabeth May (Green Canadian) and Gilles Duceppe (visiting head of state and therefore not eligible).

As I believe strongly that one has to exercise their right to vote, not ticking off a ballot is not an option. So what's a citizen to do?

Democracy is hard! So is it worth the effort? What difference does it make if I vote or not? (add your excuse here). Democracy is a worthy ideal, how it works is dependent on the close scrutiny of a state's citizenship and leadership. As I have remarked last year following the proposition 8 debacle in California, democracy is not intended to be "rule of the majority" to the detriment of it's minority. There are protections that have been embedded in constitutions that are there to protect citizens from leaders who may for pragmatic reason, decide to ride a wave of intolerance.

We have seen that in the US when the Right used same sex marriage and family values to re-elect Bush. Now, it's health care. In beaverland, Harper drives the wedge between us and you people; the Tim Horton crowd and the Starbucks fans. Luckily, Canadians seem to hold their Constitution and the Supreme Court that protects it, in higher regard than our American neighbours. I think that ultimately Canadians believe in their "responsible government" and are fair. The idea of taking away rights of people as they have in California and are trying to do in Maine (in the case of same-sex marriage) is aberrant to most of us.

There are many philosophical questions surrounding the definition of democracy but one thing that is certain is that it fails when the very people who benefit from it cease to participate in it.

That is what I'll keep repeating to myself as I gulp down a scotch before I head into the municipal voting booth and cast a vote for whom I believe will do the least harm to the city. And as the Conservatives keep trying to force an election by giving the oppostion a chance to bring them down and force an unwanted election, I will do my best to find out what Ignatieff stands for and having failed that move my vote to the party that will do the least harm to my country. It's not the most inspired way to exercise my civil duty, but until Mister "Hope" comes along, I'll settle for Mister hope for the best.

Happy election season to all.

Michael Ignatieff Secret Outtakes

At least that would have garnered some attention...!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Art - a walk in the woods

Saugeen Land—Montreal

I very much enjoyed the exhibit that is now on at Le Méridien-Versailles in Montréal. The artist, David Gillanders loves playing with form and colour. The paintings evoke in me a sense of translucence as if looking at light from under water or through thick bottle glass.

I've included this excerpt from an article written by Mike Landry for "Things of Desire".

"Gillanders uses this vocabulary of paint to explore the question of perception. His latest series, Saugeen Land, concerns a walk he took through woods along Lake Huron. Working from video taken during the walk he’s created a series of small textured, rich-green paintings on paper."

“In everyday life our perceptions are decent but limited, and very often imprecise and imperfect. All those seperations between the original perception and the work of art contiribute to that imperfection let’s say. I want to make a picture that is in a sense distinct but is interrupted in some way. The precision of it is undermined. So if the thing is blurred or fragmented it’s a way to disrupt your understanding of the thing, and this [new work] is just another type of disruption."

Saugeen Land will be on display until Sun December 6 at Le Méridien Versailles-Montreal in Montreal.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gay Ballroom Dancers - William De Vries/Jacob Jason

Big difference from last season's reception to same sex Ballroom dancing.

I'm not a big fan of the posturing and prancing of ballroom dancing, same or opposite sex. But these two guys can dance and it was great to see how they had affected the judges. Nigel was much better behaved.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary dead at 72

Very sad to read that Mary Travers has died tonight. According to,

"The band's publicist, Heather Lylis, says Travers died at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut on Wednesday. She was 72 and had battled leukemia for several years...."

I've included two of my favourite PP&M songs; what I think of as the best cover of the Gordon Lightfoot classic, "Early Morning Rain" and an example of their protest music, "Day is Done" performed live on the short-lived Smothers Brothers show.

Peter, Paul & Mary were as much a part of the sixties for me as were the Beatles, Motown and protests. They sang beautifully about things that weren't beautiful; racism in "If I Had a Hammer" and war in "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

They also had a sense of humour which they showed off in "Puff, the Magic dragon" and one of my fav's: "I Dig Rock and Roll Music", which I played over and over again on my sister Rita's record player (which the penny on the arm).

My condolences to her family, friends and fans.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Elton's Song (rare Elton John video)

Elton John, Elton's Song, 1981. Co-written by Elton and Tom Glad To Be Gay Robinson, this song about a gay school boy with a crush on a classmate was banned in several countries due to "homosexual content." This accompanying video, which may evoke Bronksi Beat's Smalltown Boy for you, was never aired at the time, although tabloids screamed "Elton's Gay (from JMG) Video Shocker!" In 1981 it was relatively unheard of for artists not to appear in their own videos, but despite the title, that may have had more to do with Elton's "I'm bisexual" stance at the time than video "artistry." The result is memorable for its day nonetheless.
"With your razor blade smile, I watched you playing pool, It's all around the school that I love you."

I never heard this song before and I was very touched. Coincidentally, I had just read in The Globe and Mail (yes, a newspaper) about a research study of homophobia in Canadian High Schools. The results so far aren't that surprising. We may have equal rights here; but there is still work to do to have equal respect - especially in that "land that time forgot": high school.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Psycho Beach Party

Off to Maine tomorrow for hopefully a week of sun, sea and sand. Of course have to throw in a little musical comedy in there as well, as we're planning to see "Singing in the Rain" at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

The beach crowd in Maine aren't nearly as fun as those in this movie; but there's always hopin'.

Ruby is very excited.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Death of Alan Turing

A mathematical genius whose contribution to our lives goes largely unnoticed. Yet without him, you wouldn't be reading this on my blog, nor emailing nor tweeting.

A proud gay man in a time when being so, was criminal. He suffered the consequences and his historic legacy was quashed by the establishment at the time.

His apparent suicide by a cyanide laced apple (how gay was that?) has been rumored to have been encouraged by Scotland Yard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Canadians; polite or fearful?

"Americans yell at each other in full confidence that their country is the finest place on Earth and that it will always endure. Canadians keep their voices down for fear an honest argument would wreck the country."
Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson

When I read this article, my first instinct was to be defensive. Canadians were a more "civilized. and "polite". society. We don't carry guns to town hall meetings, we don't assassinate our leaders (apart form that unfortunate incident in 1868 (see Thomas D'Arcy McGee).

However given the many pragmatic and vision-less governments that we have suffered through in the last two decades, I have come to long for a vision of my country that no longer is palatable for our politicians to espouse; a strong, centralist Canada.

As for his take on Americans; I agree. They hate each other, but like a good old Italian family, don't let anyone dare to attack any one of them or else they'll be all over you. There's a reason why The Soprano's was such a huge success.

Are Canadians always walking on eggs, afraid to break this very tenuous confederation of regions? Are Americans bulls in a china shop, oblivious to the damage they are causing, only intent on getting to where they're going?

Canadians keep their voices down for fear an honest argument would wreck the country...Canadians seek to avoid big political fights. Americans revel in them.
Because we started out as a union of English and French – two cultures that had been at war for centuries – Canada never congealed as a nation.

There are advantages to this. We may be the most tolerant place on Earth precisely because we have no strong sense of who we are. Nonetheless, we are left with a residual fear of Canada's fragility.

The sanctity of individual liberty is why American society is so dysfunctional and so robust. Canadians believe we are a free people, and we are. But at a certain level, we defer; Americans don't.

Put it this way: How confident are you that, 100 years from now, the United States will still be here? How confident are you that Canada will still be here?

Well, Mr. Ibittson, I am confident that Canada will be here in 100 years (assuming the planet will be). If not, it wouldn't be because we failed to find a way to accommodate our differences. It is more likely that our destruction would be the unfortunate result of being in the crossfire of warring elephants and donkeys.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday!

This weekend marked my 58th year on the planet. As with most birthday's, it's a time when willingly or not, I take stock of my life. This is a dangerous exercise due to the fact that very few people are completely satisfied with what they've achieved and who've they become. I don't fall into those "few".

Therefore, this task is usually a prequel to an emotional melodrama. But, as I get older, I am finding that I am much more forgiving of myself. OK, haven't become a huge international musical theatre star; well, I was born too late and with too little talent (can't have it all). I haven't written the great Canadian play or novel; well, still breathing - still hope.

Getting older sucks unless you've gained something from being around this long. If you feel you haven't, then birthdays can be very depressing; an anniversary of your failure as a contributing member of the human race. That's why god created scotch.

I agree with the Dutch tradition of birthdays being a celebration centered on the parents who brought us into the world. They were the ones, especially the mothers, who made it all happen. My mother had a terrible time delivering me. She was ostracized for being an unmarried mother and turned away from her job at Eaton's for being an adulteress. Can you imagine the unemployment rate now if that practice were to return?

Birthdays are marks of time which are measured by experiences; good ones and bad ones. Fortunately, as we get older, the bad ones tend to fade and we look at our past through soft focus lens (think Lucille Ball in Mame) We can't "turn back time" but we can be thankful for having been blessed by having the opportunity to make the most of it.

So this weekend, I took inventory of what I have achieved in my life and what should be celebrated. I don't feel confident to speak of my achievements but I do know that I can certainly celebrate the people who have touched my life and provided me with many more experiences upon which to mark my history.

They are truly loved and appreciated.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Proud of "PRIDE"?

With my spouse away on a business trip and all my friends otherwise occupied, I spent Montreal Pride weekend alone this year. I wondered the village yesterday afternoon taking in the "community day" ambiance and rather enjoyed it. I spoke with many people representing different organizations that support LGBT activities and people.

I particularly like this aspect of pride celebrations as it harkens back to the days of political activism when it was really daring and dangerous to come out loud and proud. Getting together in great numbers to demonstrate solidarity and support was a safe and very visual way to make our presence known. You could always count on the mainstream media to broadcast images of outrageous drag queens and leather "chapped" daddies while they snickered to each other at the anchor desk.

Today, the coverage is less sensational as our rights are enshrined in the laws of the land. However, there is a huge "but". (and I don't mean that bear's I saw this afternoon) The reality is that hate crimes against LGBT people have risen dramatically both here in liberal Canada as well as those once thought of bastions of free sex; Holland and Denmark. Seems the more acceptance we achieve the more we piss off the homophobes.

We may be allowed to be married but we still have to think twice about giving our love one a peck on the cheek in public. Before embarking on a public display of affection, one has to assess the danger quotient; what part of town are we're in, does that guy over there look like a skinhead, will the taxi driver rip us off?

Even thinking that way denotes some level of projected shame. And that is why "Pride" celebrations still matter. It matters for those of us living in a country where we are equal in the eyes of the law but still alienated in the hearts of many of our fellow Canadians. It matters that we celebrate who we are on behalf of those living in countries where being a homosexual can mean being put to death:

Iran, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Saudi-Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Nigeria (death penalty applies to 12 Northern provinces with Sharia law)and Somalia.

In these countries, being gay can land you in prison (and we're not talking Oz):

Algeria, Angola, Antiqua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin,Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia,Gambia, Gaza, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, India, Iraq,, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niue, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka Swaziland, Syria,, Tanzania, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Turkmesistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Western Samoa, Zambia,Zimbabwe

So as tired as it can seem, and as picky as we can be about whether it's smart to have one celebration or two as we have here in Montreal (a bad idea, I think), whether it's become too commercial, or too political (Queers for Palistan??? see above list) what's important is that for one week we can let loose, play campy disco tunes and wear our rainbows with pride. We can think of it as a more glamourous version of a Grey Cup tailgate party.

Two bloggers: David Badash and David Mailloux have kicked off a National Kiss-In that took place yesterday in several American Cities. Although it sounds frivolous, the intent is very commendable. when asked why they did this...
"After incidents in San Antonio, TX, El Paso, TX and Salt Lake City, UT - where different gay and lesbian couples were harassed or detained by law enforcement or other people for the simple act of kissing in a public place - we need to make a strong statement to everyone everywhere: kissing is not a bad thing, nor has it ever been. It's not vulgar or inappropriate. It's a sign of affection that is as old as time itself. And it's a beautiful thing that we share with our loved ones every single day."

So, go out there and give someone you love a big uninhibited smooch. Love should never be a crime.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stats Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think

via Adam Ostrow

A new video put together by Erik Qualman takes our obsession with stats to another level. The online marketer and author of the upcoming book Socialnomics has put together a fantastic video comprised of more than 30 different stats about the growth of social media.

Stats from Video (sources listed on author's blog)

1. By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers….96% of them have joined a social network

2. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web

3. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media

4. Years to Reach 50 millions Users: Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.

5. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia

6. Yet, some sources say China’s QZone is larger with over 300 million using their services (Facebook’s ban in China plays into this)

7. comScore indicates that Russia has the most engage social media audience with visitors spending 6.6 hours and viewing 1,307 pages per visitor per month – is the #1 social network

8. 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction

9. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum
10. % of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees….80%

11. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females

12. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama

13. 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?

14. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen

15. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook…

16. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube

17. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles…some studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English

18. There are over 200,000,000 Blogs

19. 54% = Number of bloggers who post content or tweet daily

20. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth

21. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia you would earn $156.23 per hour

22. Facebook USERS translated the site from English to Spanish via a Wiki in less than 4 weeks and cost Facebook $0

23. 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content

24. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands

25. People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services than how Google ranks them

26. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations

27. Only 14% trust advertisements

28. Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI

29. 90% of people that can TiVo ads do

30. Hulu has grown from 63 million total streams in April 2008 to 373 million in April 2009

31. 25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video…on their phone

32. According to Jeff Bezos 35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available

33. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news, the news finds us.

34. In the near future we will no longer search for products and services they will find us via social media

35. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.

36. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy Listening first, selling second

37. Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertiser

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Oh, you got to have friends

Had a very nice outdoor dinner Saturday night on our lanai with two very close friends. We chatted about a lot of things; memories of our sordid youth, thoughts about where we are now and where we want to be.

Somehow, the subject came up of After Dark Magazine and how important it was to two young gay Monctonians who saw in it's pages a world that might as well have been OZ. It was no wonder that both my friend and I headed down the yellow brick road and escaped our Kansas as soon as we hitched a ride on any tornado that passed close enough by.

Although the magazine denied it's gayness, it wasn't fooling anyone. Hello! Cher and Bette Midler on the cover, not to mention the nearly naked male celebs (and more obscure male dancers).

An observation was made as to how limited our exposure was at that time to the outside world especially as it related to the world of urban pop culture. You can bet that Eartha Kitt's appearance at Reno Sweeny's wasn't going to be covered on the local CKCW entertainment news. We had magazines. That's it. No web, no TV celeb gossip shows. No Perez Hilton.

After my friends left, I thought nostalgically of the Divine Miss M. and how her campness somehow made me feel part of an elite group: not so much the "in crowd" as the "out and proud" crowd. And you can't think of Bette without thinking of her theme song: " Oh, you gotta have friends"...and I'm so blessed that I do.

So this goes out to all my pals, thanks for being there.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rain! Rain! Rain!

I envy Gene Kelly. Of course, it took a new love to make him use a rain storm as an excuse for a big dance number. If I could find that kind of inspiration, I would readily burst through the front door and tap my way up and down the street. But without Debbie Reynolds, torrential rainfall is just, well..wet!

This summer in Montreal it even pours when it's sunny. How's that for just being mean. When the gods do look kindly down upon us and pours a little sunlight and heat down upon us, it seems some vengeful bitch decides we're being spoiled and turns the taps on.

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day. Hot, sunny and lots of street decor to ponder. The countless festivals taking place (This is Montreal where every block in the city has some festival squatting on it.) were happy, thousands of folk were buying pricey beer and getting sunstroke.

Then today, well I awoke to a light drizzle that evolved into a torrent that in turn, continued throughout the day. Then the sun came out. It was dry just long enough to walk our Ruby (see album on left). Just as we re-entered our abode, and with the sun still shining, a wall of rain descended upon the earth.

I give up. I will go about my life like a scorned lover and ignore the weather. It doesn't matter, I wasn't counting on a nice day anyway. So there. I shall take my umbrella everywhere I go regardless of what the morning radio weather guy says (he must be witness protection by now.).

Maybe, just maybe I'll get over it. Maybe I will rise above this and, like Gene, laugh in the face of clouds in the sky; kicking up my heels and twirling my umbrella until some cop or very friendly stranger stops me.

Until then, fuck you, rain.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Social Networking in plain english

As I continue down my road of social media enlightenment, I am amazed, almost daily, at how truly "old school" this method of communication is. Where technology in the age of computers and digital everything has been said to isolate us on our own little "islands"; (the very opposite of being social as it were), the blossoming of web 2.o with Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs, and Twitter etc. has in fact, ameliorated our ability to connect with others on both a one to one and a one to many basis.

This capability of social media to create a virtual "village" where we get to choose our neighbours based on what we have in common, has taken us back to those "party line" days where everyone knew what everyone else was up to and trusted their friend's and neighbour's opinions.

Where we couldn't control what others said or learned about us before without keeping our shades drawn or our phone off the hook; today we have control over what we want others to know about us. Used with discretion and maturity, social media provides us with a tool that disseminates only the messages that we what communicated to friends and followers. It also provides us with the capability to research any topic imaginable. AND it's a great way to make friends!

As I continue my journey, I have and will continue to meet, no doubt, many, many people who generously share their insights, expertise and wisdom. This is one of the rewards of being on the "network".

Enjoy these videos and many more very helpful ones at Commoncraft.

And for those who just don't get TWITTER...

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