Friday, March 27, 2009

New Pet Shop Boys Live Stream - for Georges

Harper's CBC agenda - not so hidden

The following article is one of many that have been written since the CBC announced its cuts yesterday. Harper continues to chip away at the very foundation of our cultural infrastructure. The CBC has been a target since the Mulroney years: This excerpt is from a radio noon show broadcast from Toronto in 1984. - How will budget cuts affect the CBC?

(Listen to the show here...CBC)

Here is an excerpt from the Ian Morrison's article in the Straight...

"In a recent edition of the National Post, Gerry Nicholls, a former vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, wrote about why the Coalition "chose a young MP named Stephen Harper as its new president in 1997":

"Being NCC president is not a run-of-the-mill job. First of all, you need to be an ideologically pure, small "c" conservative. That means you must reject Pierre Trudeau and all of his works. You must view the CBC as a socialist-run boondoggle. In general you must believe that whatever the private sector can do, the public sector can do – worse."

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has tracked Harper’s comments on public broadcasting and cultural sovereignty over the years. Clearer evidence of a ‘hidden agenda’ would be hard to find. Here are a few of those hints.

... The Conservative Candidates' Pocket Policy Guide from the 2006 election states that, "arts and culture make essential contributions to our national identity. A Conservative government will ensure that the CBC and Radio-Canada continue to perform their vital role as national public service broadcasters."

Yet in May 2006, when the Liberals moved the following resolution in the House of Commons—"That the House insist that the government, its departments and agencies, maintain the program policies and regulations in support of Canada's artistic and cultural industries, in particular, by maintaining or enhancing: (a) existing Canadian cultural content requirements; (b) current restrictions on foreign ownership in the cultural sector; and (c) financial support for public broadcasting in both official languages"—the resolution passed in a recorded vote with 155 MPs in favour and 121 opposed. All 121 opposing votes came from Conservative MPs.

The next year, Harper appointed Hubert Lacroix president of the CBC. Lacroix, who contributed $1,000 (the maximum legal amount) to a Conservative candidate during the previous general election, is a Montreal-based mergers and acquisitions lawyer...Why would Stephen Harper appoint someone with no management experience in radio or television production, programming, or scheduling as president of the CBC?

In February 2008, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released a major study on the future of the CBC. Among its recommendations was for the annual parliamentary grant to the CBC increase over a seven-year period from the current $33 per capita to $40 per capita and that the government commit to multiyear funding. The Conservative members of the Committee dissented.

Just before Harper announced the general election in early September 2008, Conservative Party Campaign Director Doug Finley wrote to Conservative supporters to solicit funds and ask them to complete a "2008 National Critical Issues Survey", which he described as "extremely important" and promised that he would “personally share the overall results and any comments with the Prime Minister". The fifth question read: "The CBC costs taxpayers over $1.1 billion per year. Do you think this is a good or bad use of taxpayer dollars?”

Just two weeks later, Glen McGregor wrote in the Ottawa Citizen:

Mr. Harper was asked yesterday by a reporter if he believes the $1.1 billion annual parliamentary appropriation for the CBC is a good use of taxpayers' money... The Conservative leader replied to the question with telling brevity. “All I can say is I support government budgets.”

A few weeks ago on As It Happens, President Lacroix said that the CBC was in financial trouble and that "ads on CBC Radio are on the table”.

In an interview on CBC Radio's Q cultural affairs show on January 21, 2009, Harper's Heritage Minister James Moore promised there would be no cuts to arts and culture spending in the upcoming federal budget. Asked specifically whether there would be cuts to the federal allocation to the CBC, Moore denied there would be cuts.

However, the following month when Harper's government tabled its spending plans for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2009, the allocation to the CBC was reduced by 5.6 percent from $1,115,424,000 in 2008/09 to $1,052,608,000 in 2009/10—a cut of $63 million...

There is a pattern in all this—say one thing, do another. Despite the shortcomings of its management and Harper’s antipathy, the CBC does have one big asset: public opinion. When Friends asked Nanos Research to find out how Canadians would respond to the question that Harper’s “Rasputin” (Doug Finley) posed in that fundraising letter, Nanos found that 63 percent of Canadians think that spending $1.1 billion a year on CBC is a good use of taxpayers’ dollars, while only 25 percent disagree."

The stories, news and profiles that the CBC and Radio-Canada report weave our national fabric.

Just as the the Québec culture has blossomed under the attention given to it by its artists and political leaders, so has Canadian culture in general. My history of watching Razzle Dazzle, The Friendly Giant, Hockey Night in Canada, This Hour Has Seven Days etc. and listening to such amazing radio programs as Morningside with Peter Gzowski and As it Happens (which still provides background commentary to my dinner) is a huge part of who I am. When I meet new people, I am often able to find common ground, no matter what the generational difference, through the shared experience of enjoying some particular CBC program.

I have heard people say that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for something they don't listen to anyway; that we should have an equivalent to the American National Public Radio system.

The biggest difference between the CBC and NPR is that ours is a truly national broadcasting system. NPR is regional. People in Atlantic Canada hear what their fellow Canucks are up to in Montreal, Thunder bay or Dawson Creek. It ties us together AND we don't have interruptions for donour pleas.

We are the envy of a lot of Americans who want an alternative to network TV and top forty radio formats.

As a country, we suck at providing support to our cultural sector. We have report after report that exclaim the importance of culture to the economic and national health of our country - creative class, anyone?

You can show your support by signing this petition and contacting your Member of Parliament. We have to make Parliament know that culture is important; Ignatieff as well as Harper. (The CBC's budget had been essentially frozen since 1985 - that covers the Crétien years as well.)

Now, to get my blood pressure down, I invite you to join me and enjoy the soothing nostalgia of the Friendly Giant show:

...And now we come to the end of another broadcast day...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"True artistry"

Adam does Smokey...proud.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

There is hope...

More on Arthur Laurents. (from Towerload)

Mo Rocca delivers a thorough interview of 91-year-old Arthur Laurents in the context of his revival of West Side Story on Broadway. In addition to plenty of rehearsal and show footage, they also sit down to discuss his reputation for being mean, Barbra Streisand, and his late longtime partner Tom Hatcher.

On his 52 year relationship with Tom Hatcher who passed away in 2006 he says:

"I had the most marvelous life that anybody could have with another person - that I’m proud of. That’s an achievement - ‘cause most people quit on each other, and we never did. "


James Neiley - young gay hero.

And another inspirational story form a guy on the another end of the age spectrum,17-year-old James Neiley from Charlotte, Vermont, where on Monday, the state senate vote passed the same-sex marriage bill 26-4.

The bravery and maturity that this young man displays is as fine an example of "family values" that I could ever imagine. It's obvious by both what he said and the method he chose to say it, that James has had the utmost support of his family.

His words should be heard by all, friends and bigots alike; but most of all by those young people out there that feel they are worthless because their country, their churches, their schools and their families say they are.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vidal - Genius Curmudgeon

(from Arts & Opinion)

Are we really all doomed to become cynical old geezers like Gore Vidal? After reading his musings on the shortcomings of contemporary culture, I’m not sure if he’s the light piercing through the thick smog of media saturation or a burnt out bulb in the lighthouse.

His intellect is renowned, as his knowledge of history and culture. As effusive as reviews and profiles have been of his work, few articles seemed sympathetic to the man as a human being.

This interview, which folows the publishing of his latest memoir, Point to Point Navigation describes in detail his relationship with his partner, Howard Auster, who died in 2003. His first memoir, Palimpsest, 1995, covers first forty years, 1925 to 1965.

The interviewer is John Esther, a writer and critic living in Los Angeles.

On sexuality:

“JOHN ESTHER: You’ve often contended that “homosexuality” is not a noun but instead a verb, an act -- so one can only be a homosexualist or same-sexualist.

GORE VIDAL: Only a country like this one could have thought up [the idea] that sexual tastes, whatever they may be, dictate identity. Only a bunch of morons would have come to that conclusion.

JOHN ESTHER: In what way can we apply this same principle to other behaviors such as religious beliefs, race, and gender?

GORE VIDAL: I always find that to use religion or race or sex as identification is folly. After all, once you isolate yourself in a category, Adolf Hitler will come along and say, “I don’t like this category. They’re not voting right so we better get rid of them.”

On Politics:

JOHN ESTHER: Is there anything positive you can say about the Bush administration?
GORE VIDAL: Yes, it’s all over.

JOHN ESTHER: What should we do about the inherent corruption in our system?

GORE VIDAL: There’s nothing to be done. It’s like asking somebody in Paraguay, “Why do you keep putting generals in office?” “Well, we put them in because they take the office.” “When are you going to stop the corruption?” “Well, when we stop having generals.” It’s circular.

Our politics became totally corrupt with the invention of television and the cost of TV advertising. And the only great art form we ever created was the TV commercial. So everything’s merchandising. Anything that comes out of the Neoconservatives is going to be more lies and more hyperventilating and more and more grotesque details, because that’s all they do is lie. I think that’s what the Bushites learned -- how to lie on a grand scale.

JOHN ESTHER: You write about power and privilege from what many would perceive as a powerful and privileged viewpoint or position in life.

GORE VIDAL: Well, you write what you know. As Iago says to Othello, who asks why, “You know what you know.” One of the great mysteries of Shakespeare, that line. “

“Does age bring wisdom?" a questioner asked Gore Vidal?
There was a short pause.
"No, it brings senility."

I think he just needs a hug or just a little “Stewie”.

Stewie loves Gilbert & Sullivan


Stewie is Gore Vidal!

Monday, March 23, 2009

GLBT Pride 2009

A very cool video done in preparation of this year's 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which was the start of the modern Gay Rights movement - June 28th, 1969.

(from JMG)

From the upcoming CD "Pride at 40," (JGLsongs LLC).
Performed by Jon Gilbert Leavitt featuring Kevin Hannan
Music and lyrics by Jon Gilbert Leavitt

Footage includes:
"Two Men Dancing" - Thomas Alva Edison (1895); "Dizzy Red Riding Hood" - Betty Boop cartoon (1931)
"Call Her Savage" (1932); Tel-Aviv Pride; Manchester (UK) Pride; Bangkok Pride; Toronto Pride; Copenhagen Pride; Christopher Street Day, München (Munich).

Most of the Pride celebrations are held in commeration of this day. New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles had their first the following year, 1970 where they proclaimed Gay freedom Day or Gay Liberation Day. (It was changed to Gay Pride in the eighties)

Here in Montréal, Pride events take place mid summer when we mark the July 15th Québec's own "Stonewall" - the Sex Garage" riot which took place in 1990.

(from Montreal ...

"That night 400 primarily gay, lesbian and transgender revellers are taunted, brutalized and arrested while trying to leave the party. Enraged and no longer willing to settle for unfair targeting, giant protests occur on that same night and the night following outside MUC Station 25. Images of the brutality outside the « Sex Garage » party circulate around the globe and nearly three million Montrealers are finally made aware of the fear and conditions constantly faced by Montreal’s LGBTA population."

The battle for full civil rights isn't over. In Canada we've achieved legal rights, but as in the US, religious fanaticism and ignorance continue to cast a shadow over the lives of many who ask nothing but to be treated fairly and equally.

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