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I Boomer




July 05, 2020


P.D. Taylor

We have now passed 100 days since Covid-19 was officially designated a pandemic.
How you holding up?

We Boomers have witnessed a lot in our time on the planet, but this Novel Coronavirus might very well take the proverbial cake. “Novel,” indeed, huh?
When the dust finally settles, the masks come off and the final death count can be tallied this is going to resonate not unlike 9/11. As in life, before and after.

Are you tired of hearing about the “New Normal?” Get over it. Moving forward, every day could very well hail the next declaration of the “New Normal.” Normal would seem to be flexible these days.
For some years I’ve been working graveyard in a major supermarket. Basically, I place “beans on a shelf.” Simple, straightforward labour that puts minimal strain on this tired, old brain. With the aid of music, one develops a rhythm to it. As time passes, I value the physical aspects of the job more and more. “You Got to Move,” The Rolling Stones told us when we were teenagers. The advice is ever more important 50 years down the road. If Mick can still do it at his age?

It has been said, “sitting is the new smoking.” Left to my own devices I trend towards sloth and inertia. Coaching the old couch is a favourite pastime. But the smart money has always been on the balance of downtime with physical activity. Now it seems the longer you sit the harder it is to get back up, y’know?
So, while bending, squatting, lifting, toting, pushing, pulling and twisting the night away with various grocery items in my arms is challenging at this time of life, I’m saving big bucks on a gym membership. And I’m reticent to stop for fear I’ll seize up like the Tin Man left outside in a rainy Oz waiting for somebody to hand him the oil can.
Whatever plans I may or may not have had for senior life, the key for me is mobility. Getting from point A to B and sometimes C under my own steam. For as long as possible I want to be able to pick up my own damn oil can!


The nature of grocery work can tend to mimic Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, in its repetitive tasks, but it is conducted in generally safe, secure, clean, well lit surroundings where nothing out of the ordinary happens.
That all changed in early March.
We clock in for 11 PM as the store is closing. We say goodnight to departing staff as they say “good morning” to us.
I was just coming off my “weekend” and had not been in the store for a couple of nights. One of the cashiers casually added, “people are stockpiling food.”
Her words became clearer with each aisle passed. A quick glance revealed uncharacteristically empty sections of shelves. It brought to mind video footage of Russian stores during the dark, Cold War days in the Soviet Union.
The outfit I work for prides itself on fully stocked shelves. It is not in the being out of stuff business. Holes are anathema. A daily “Hole Count” is tracked. On this tote board, more is not better. For those of us on the floor in a supermarket it is a devilishly simple process: See Hole; Fill Hole. The customer is coming in looking for specific products and they do not want to see an empty space where their Hoisin sauce, or 3-ply Charmin should be.
Covid-19 has kicked the daylights out of the Hole Count.

It was a Thursday night when the colleague hipped me to the “stockpiling.” With the pending weekend, the rush began to increase exponentially as the herd/mob mentality quickly set in.
Did I miss a memo? Was the BAT symbol in the sky obscured by clouds? Did some kind of digital, tribal, drum start beating out the code for: H-O-A-R-D-T-P?
Working graveyard, the night crew is often out of the store and home before the customers arrive. Depending on one’s sleep needs and times, awareness of what is going on in the daylight hours is relative. Sleeping in the daytime when most of the world is up and about takes some getting used to. Fortunately, I am blessed with sleep of the dead and can remain asleep while all hell breaks loose in the house. Children, pets, phones, television, music, conversations in the same room, the windows open to the sounds of vehicular traffic, neighbor kids on trampoline, dogs barking, dogs walking by the house setting off our dog going nuts at the window. Some of the neighbours ride Harleys, machines I revere and respect from afar. Straight pipes save lives! I can generally doze away through it all including heavy metal thunder.
But while you try to get the proper amount of sleep per 24-hour cycle, you also like to partake of life when everybody else is awake. You shave an hour or two here and there and it can add up to sleep deprivation over time. Sometimes I require confirmation of what day it is.
“Are you sure this isn’t Tuesday?”

That casual comment about the “stockpiling” quickly morphed into anything but casual.
I was in the store during business hours having a quick meeting with our office manager. A colleague came up in tears, shaking, on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. She was simply trying to do her job stocking in the pharmacy area where the hand sanitizer is shelved but found herself under siege by a constant stream of verbally assaultive customers made irate by the fact that they’d been beaten to the punch by the first wave of panic buyers. Our wonderfully compassionate office manager calmed the staffer and sent her home. Other co-workers were physically assaulted as customers would literally ram into them with shopping carts! Some retreated to the back room when the crowds got too much to cope with. Customers got into dust ups with each other over Lysol wipes.
We all witnessed things ramp up in short order mandating the social distancing protocols that HAD to be implemented thanks to the complete asshole gene (CAG) kinking many a DNA helix.
Like speed bumps and other traffic calming measures instituted on streets designated as major bike paths, the shortened business hours, restricted numbers allowed in at any one time, ropes, stanchions, extra security, distancing stickers on the floor seem to have worked.

One colleague is a vivacious lady from Russia. A total pistol, I adore her accent and always enjoy our conversations. Early on in the pandemic she told me why the toilet paper.
“Because, nowadays, whenever someone coughs, ten people shit themselves.”
Imagine the line with delightful, Russian intonation.

A nice touch of gallows humour to lighten the mood, but the toilet paper thing started in China, too.
People would carry a roll with them. Coming to a door they would tear off a square, turn the doorknob and discard the square. Another square to push the elevator button, then your floor. A new square for the next doorknob. Discard. Repeat as necessary. A roll of TP is compact and light. Easy to carry in palm, pocket or purse.
Makes sense. The Chinese invented paper. Trust them to still be leading humankind on its many uses.
As or this writing I’m winding down a 10-day isolation at home. Asymptomatic for the virus but feeling sick, I played the frontline worker card and got tested to be on the safe side.

Looking forward to being put back in the game.



Coach, our line starts?
- Hanson Brothers
Slap Shot

Coronavirus, Bitches!!
- Cardi B.




October 03, 2019


  • The “Forgotten Woodstock” preceded the real Woodstock by one month.

P.D. Taylor

I turned 18 in the late spring of 1969. It was a watershed year in a watershed decade. The particular zeitgeist recognized as The Sixties, if not dead on its sandaled feet by then, was definitely coughing up blood. The slow-moving cultural ripples that fanned out from the epicentre of San Francisco’s Summer of Love were slow in reaching the sleepy, mid century themed, eastern suburbs of Toronto. A scant two years past and everything the times embodied had been identified, codified, homogenized, bastardized, compartmentalized, commercialized and ultimately parodied and paralyzed.
When Ellie Mae and Jethro invited Hollywood television’s image of flower children into the Clampett mansion to vex Granny in episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies it was way too late.

Interestingly, the era’s symbolic alpha and omega took place less than four months apart in the waning months of the year. The peace love anything is possible ethos peaked in August on Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York. The nadir occurred that December on a perfectly desolate plot of land called the Altamont Speedway east of San Francisco, the birthplace and sacred heart of the whole shiteroo. Screen the documentary films Woodstock and Gimme Shelter back to back and there she be.
That was one of the elements of the ‘60’s, the dark and the light: the joy and optimism of one tempered by the harsh balance of the other. One of its brightest sons, George Lucas would go on to envision the dark and the light side of The Force. Star Wars is totally 1969. Keep in mind, Star Wars was not initially a kids’ movie. We were grown ups, sort of, when the storied franchise debuted in 1977. It was not uncommon to drop a hit of acid, make our way to the Stanley Theatre on Granville to take in a third, fourth or fifth screening and settle in for one heck of a ride through the cosmos. When the Death Star whacks Alderan? Can you say, WHEEEEEEEEE!?
You wanted to yell out to the projectionist: “Roll it back and play that part again!”
While our birth certificates may have indicated adulthood some of us denied the math and continued to party like it was 1969 well into the Seventies.
But that was all in the future.

I had applied to only one post secondary institution, Ryerson University in beautiful downtown Toronto, and one course of study, Radio and Television Arts (RTA) hoping to pursue a career in advertising. RTA was a hugely popular and coveted program. Each year many more applied than could be accommodated. I passed the admission requirements including the pivotal personal interview but found the freshman class full and wound up on the waiting list. This all but guaranteed me a place among the RTA Frosh of 1970.
What to do ‘til then?
I had been “accelerated” in elementary school. That’s what they called it. Kind of like skipping a grade, this program was designed to have selected students cover two grades in one year. I had no idea what was going on. One day in Grade 3 I was handed a paper to take home to Mom and Dad. They signed it and the next day I was moved to a different row in the classroom. The next September I was in Grade 5.
I came to feel that I had a year in hand. This in spite of the fact that Ontario still had Grade 13. It was our reality at the time, but I’ve never quite understood why we spent 5 years in high school while everyone else in North America got it done in 4? Don’t get me wrong. That last year of high school was a shit raise for the ages! A complete sea change from the previous 4 years.
The very fact of our opting for the 5 year curriculum implied we were intent on pursuing post secondary studies. The extra year was sold as some sort of University prep deal. Grade 13 was in place from 1921 to 1988 in Ontario.
With this in mind the entire Grade 13 class was summoned to our wonderfully appointed auditorium (built at the height of the Baby Boom, when budgets were booming, the school also boasted no less than 4 gymnasia, an indoor swimming pool, chemistry labs and state of the art automobile repair teaching facilities. The guys in auto shop LOVED working on the Latin teacher’s burgundy, 1967 Corvette fastback. She never paid a dime for car maintenance!) to be addressed by the school’s senior administrators.
Addressing us as “people,” they rolled out a bold, new approach to our daily learning model. In a nutshell, since it was presumed that we were all going on to higher education, they would start treating us like we were already in University where the onus is on the individual student to take responsibility for his or her work, success or failure. Henceforward they were not taking attendance. If we did or did not show up for class, that was on us. Homework? Nobody held your hand anymore, nor were they kicking your ass.
A hush fell over the assembled as we turned to each other with looks of WTF did we just hear?

This might not sound all that earth shattering in the 21st century, but in the fall of 1968 is was positively revolutionary. Our Ontario education system was not exactly Tom Brown’s School Days, but by contemporary standards it was decidedly more strict. We grew up in the age of pass or fail. If you did not pass all the courses for a particular grade, you failed and repeated the whole grade over. An entire year of your life. Do overs were possible with attendance and, again, passing grades in Summer School. The prospect of a full 12 months in school was more than enough incentive for those loath to give up the sacred summer vacation. Harsh, sure, but while the approach to education has evolved quite a bit since we Boomers were in school, real life was then and still is a pass or fail proposition. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but especially so for those wholly unprepared.
For the more than 2000 strong student body, movement in and around our high school was controlled. Arriving late required one report to the office and obtain an Admit Slip, allowing the tardy acceptance back into class. To be out and about in the hallways during class required special passes, like travel documents in Europe during WWII. And like WWII Europe to be found without your papers resulted in summary isolation and interrogation.
While social mores, politics and lifestyles were being challenged in pockets around North America, our little corner was still, proudly, gloriously Conservative Blue.
Dress codes at our school were the order of the day. We could not wear jeans, as these were associated with rebels whether they had causes or not. Juvenile delinquents were closely associated with Mr. Strauss’ legendary, blue denim trousers. School boards in Metro Toronto were all steeped in Blackboard Jungle style, cinematic propaganda. If they can’t wear their favourite pants, they won’t be able to start any trouble.
Never mind jeans, girls could not wear pants period. Proper, lady like, smart skirts and dresses only. It sounds crazy, but much of our early and middle school years owed more to the Andy Hardy 1940’s than the NASA 1960’s. That, of course, would change in profound ways as the decade progressed.

While many post grad peers hit the road exploring global trails by thumb, VW minibus, tramp steamer or Eurail pass, I opted to find work and bank funds for the coming education.
Then, as now, relationships and connections opened doors and opportunities. At the time, my sister-in-law was private secretary to the vice president of a geophysical, mining exploration company. She hooked me up with a job that in short order found me whisked by a series of flights on successively smaller aircraft to a fantastic, float plane landing on a lake in the midst of the Canadian bush in Northern Saskatchewan.
I had always enjoyed the outdoors, but this was the OUTDOORS!!
Schlepping around the forest that summer of ’69 I missed a lot, mostly girls and major, historic events like the Moon landing in July, Woodstock and the weird craziness of the Tate La Bianca murders in August.
To this day I view the Moon landing in the abstract. It was one of those galvanizing, shared cultural moments when most of the earth’s population who had access were glued to television screens witnessing history live. Compared to today, tech back then was still in its infancy. In the bush we had virtually no outside communication other than 2-way radio and sporadic mail drops. A couple of weeks after Neil Armstrong made his small step, giant leap onto Tranquility Base, the Toronto Star newspaper bearing the cover story arrived by mail from my Mom.
“Hey guys,” I said to the crew. “Man walked on the Moon.”
These were all senior University students studying geophysics and geology. They barely lifted their heads for a brief nod, or “cool.”
We went back to cutting line, swatting bugs, taking readings, making and breaking campsites while short hopping about in glorious DeHavilland Beaver float planes. It wasn’t 3 Days of Peace and Love on Yasgur’s Farm in upstate New York by any stretch of the imagination and probably the antithesis of fun, but I have come to value the experience more with each passing year. It is, however, why I’m not all that fond of camping. I lived the better part of a year in a tent. Now, my idea of roughing it is no HBO.

Ironically, I married a woman who loves to camp. Each summer I dredge up the old woodsy skills for a brief sojourn with the grandchildren in the forest outside Hope, BC. Now with smart phones, iPads and internet access I don’t have to wait weeks to be reminded of the first manned, moon landing. And while there is still no HBO for Poppa, where we camp is an easy, fifteen-minute walk to a nice Japanese restaurant. You can have your toasted marshmallows, but the great outdoors is even greater with take home sushi around the campfire.
“Have you got any wasabi left?”
Had I not been dealing with swarms of nasty, biting, bugs and dodging patches of muskeg in the wilds of our boreal forest that summer, I probably would have made the trip to Woodstock to see Jimi Hendrix for the third time. Having first seen the Maestro in concert, when I was 16 set the bar very high for what is to be expected of popular music artists. How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve been experienced? Had I been anywhere near a TV I would have definitely parked my butt in front of it to watch the Apollo 11 trek through space. Having missed these events in real time adds an air of ambiguity to the hoopla marking the milestone 50th of both events.

It was kind of sad to see original Woodstock promoter, Michael Lang, struggle and fail to see his vision of a 50th Anniversary Peace, Love and Music reboot come to pass. What’s that they say about “catching lightning in a bottle?”
Mankind has not set foot on the lunar surface, or any other celestial body, in 47 years.

What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding.
- Elvis Costello



May 11, 2019


I had occasion to wade into the UBER debate earlier this year while visiting my baby brother in Los Angeles. While now in his mid fifties he’s still the Babe to me. It is customary for us siblings to partake in celebratory beverages when getting together. A few “wobbly pops,” as legendary radio personality Brother Jake Edwards would say. All well and wobbly good while hanging at the principle residence with the pick up truck safely tucked in the driveway and the keys somewhere else, but when stepping out for a little Japanese nosh in Sherman Oaks where the sake menu is quite extensive?

A drummer by trade, and a really good one, when he’s not whacking the tubs my brother toils as a freelance audio tech mixing sound for live music in concert and on television. The UBER app is on his phone. He punches some digits.
“It’ll be here in five minutes,” he says.
We exit the house. He locks the door and while standing in the cul-de-sac he’s checking the phone.
“We’re looking for a red Prius,” he says.
“It’s here, dude,” I say.
It’s like it just appeared! In less than five minutes! We didn’t see nor hear it coming down the block. Those hybrid cars can be quiet, but WTF?
Arriving at our destination we say thanks and goodbye to the driver and get out. No money transactions or further discussion. No tipping. The UBER app takes care of everything, including providing tax receipts for my independent contractor brother.

Later that evening we stroll the boulevard pausing at a couple of watering holes. When it’s time to go, my brother works the UBER app.
Checking the phone on the sidewalk,
“We’re looking for a black Camry,” he offers without looking up.
No sooner are the words out of his mouth when the car pulls up in front of us. In the time it took to exit the restaurant and cross the sidewalk.
This is in the middle of the block on one of those massive SoCal boulevards. Cars are parked at the curb. How long do you think you’d have to wait to hail a cab? How about spot a cab, period? Never mind taking our lives in our hands inching out between the parked vehicles.
“It’s here, Babe,” I say. “Does the UBER app come with a freaking Romulan cloaking device?” It was just there!
The driver had a neon blue UBER, light on the passenger side windshield. Nice touch.

Like the earlier UBER experience, a friendly, mature, competent, polite operative driving a late model, well maintained, clean and fragrant automobile. This guy had “Armoralled” the floor matts for, crying out loud. They had that slipperiness. As the night progressed I kept asking myself again and again, why can’t we have this service in the Lower Mainland?
UBER was strictly an abstraction prior to the LA visit. I had read extensively of those singing its praises. Music industry pundit Bob Lesetz was an early believer and touts UBER on his wildly popular Lefsetz Letter web site. Friends called from Toronto one night en route home from a Christmas party via UBER. They wanted to pass along holiday greetings and to point out that they were in fact at that very moment riding in an UBER. It reminded this old fart of the early days of “car phones.”
“Guess where I’m calling from? The car! Can you believe it?”

An old boss embraced the early mobile phone to the extent when tech had caught up with hands free, he insisted on keeping the handset with the curly wire. No sense driving around town seemingly talking to yourself when you can let everyone on the road clearly see: “Hey, Chumpton! I’m talking on a mobile phone over here! How do you spell, ‘Player’?”
The popularity of the service elsewhere in the world was no secret. For those of us living in British Columbia, however, UBER was the third word in the German national anthem.
How does this work in an era of massive social change spurred by technology, innovation and entrepreneurship? How do you spell, “buggy whip?” How powerful is the taxi industry’s lobby in the Lower Mainland and why?

In practice, where does UBER differ from having a friend or loved one pick you up and drive you home after you’ve been drinking? Opposition to UBER seems to fly in the face of the designated driver. Does it not seem proper for an organization like MADD to champion another option to keep those who have been consuming alcohol from getting behind the wheel?

Why can’t Taxis and UBER exist in our local time and space? Is not competition the very bedrock of our capitalist system? Where are all the free enterprise, small business supporting often right-leaning conservative political elements? How about the libertarians? Wassup with you clowns? Seriously, you gotta be all about UBER, or please, check your laissez faire at la porte, m’kay?
Born and raised in Toronto I grew up in Scarborough, a sprawling eastern suburb of single family homes, schools, strip malls, light industry and automobile dealerships. This was a car culture community during the 1950’s, 60’s and ‘70’s. Among the many lots was one offering a singular product line. ‘Vette City sold nothing but Corvettes. The iconic Chevrolet sports car was the most coveted ride in that time and place.

My first car was a Volkswagen Beetle, the ubiquitous “Bug” of song, story and National Socialism. It was a far cry from the dreamed of Corvette, but that didn’t stop me from driving like it was one. My amazingly adept, mechanical wizard of a Dad who kept it on the road for me used to call it “Hitler’s Revenge,” for all the vexing challenges the car and I would throw at him.
“I swear it knows I’m a veteran,” my ex-fighter pilot Pop would say.

Dad stood up to the Luftwaffe in a twin Rolls Royce Merlin engine powered hot rod, the DeHavilland Mosquito. He wasn’t about to let this tin can of a Peoples’ Car get the better of him.
I got that first Vee Dubya at 19 and never looked back. I’ve owned and operated a motor vehicle ever since preferring driving myself over any other form of transportation. When need and circumstance dictate I gladly take public transit. I have never found the taxi cab experience satisfactory.
It’s more than high time for another option, don’t you think?

P.D. Taylor




Nearly 30 Years On.......

Has the dust settled enough on the recent Roseanne Barr debacle for someone to pipe up on her behalf? This is in no way an apologia for the horribly, racist tweets that brought about the swift sword of popular opinion that just cut short the reboot of the Roseanne TV show and possibly ended her career. Time will tell if she can salvage enough to hit the road and start over, or simply fade into career suicide obscurity hoping for a shot on Where Are They Now?

For all her faults, Barr is first and foremost, a comedian. Comics are hard wired to go for the laugh come hell or high water. Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead! Laughter is their favourite drug.

Take the time in purgatory to reflect and write yourself out of this mess, Rosie? Then do what got you recognized in the first place. Play every low rent, back road, comedy dive in America like Tee Hee’s in Talahassee, Yuk Yuk’s in Yakima, Har D. Harr’s in Hoboken, Belly Laff’s in Boise, or Piss Your Pants in Poughkeepsie.
As often happens when something controversial hits the fan, the media will search video archives for “pictures” relating to the incident and/or those involved. Naturally, they all dredged up Roseanne’s infamous rendition of The Star Spangled Banner before a San Diego Padres game on July 25, 1990.

There was a minor uproar at the time, but since the footage has surfaced in the wake of her recent hateful, tweet, the Anthem controversy is rolled to rile up the rubes.
The two incidents are not related other than the fact that Roseanne pulled off both.
She obviously harbours some awful racist feelings but has never been shy about letting it all hang out when it comes to some deeply personal parts of her life. She has claimed to suffer with multiple personality disorder. Her ex-husband, actor and comedian Tom Arnold quipped about her having over one hundred separate personalities, only three of which liked him.

Roseanne said it was the Ambien talking when she took to twitter in the wee small hours of the morning to use a tawdry, old, racist comparison to describe former Obama administration official, Valerie Jarrett. Is one of Barr’s multiple personalities the ghost of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest, the dude who started the Ku Klux Klan?
She was not tapped to sing the Anthem because she was a renowned vocalist. Lacking the chops to pull off the song is not showing disrespect. Embarrassing, yes, but Roseanne is far from alone in delivering off key renditions. Kicking off this year’s NBA All Star Game, Fergie managed to turn her arrangement of the Anthem into a bad, American Idol audition. Michael Bolton booted it at a Boston Red Sox game by forgetting the lyrics. Say, what!? A lot of us Canadians know the words by heart because we like to be polite and respectful to our American cousins at NHL Games, Mike. You should be able to rattle this one off in your sleep! Steven Tyler had the unmitigated gall to intentionally change some lyrics at the Old Brickyard for the Indy 500. I love Aerosmith dearly, but he is such a goof! Christina Aguilara and Carl Lewis had their own epic Anthem fails.
One of comedy’s true masters, Robert Klein, had a brilliant bit about the Anthem on his 1974, album, Mind Over Mattter. Klein offered as no matter how low you start the, “and the rockets red glare” portion it is nigh impossible to finish. “It’s a five octave range,” he screams. “Nobody can hit those notes!”

Let’s put this particular controversy to bed, m’kay? She went out there to do some baseball themed shtick. Roseanne’s grabbing her crotch was mistaken by the uninformed as a rude, sexual gesture. Anyone who has ever played competitive baseball (read: hardball, emphasis on HARD) knows she was simply adjusting her cup. Baseball players do it all the time. Swinging, running, jumping, stretching, diving and sliding. The thing moves around. You want to keep it positioned properly for it to do a MOST important job: protecting the family jewels.

Anyone who has ever taken a puck or a baseball to the dibs knows of what I speak. Little League diamonds back in the day weren’t always well groomed. A hard hit ground ball could carom off any imperfection on the field of play. One sunny summer day when I was 9 or 10 I took a wicked hop to the crotch. My testicles had not yet come on line. Nevertheless, despite wearing a cup the wind was knocked out of my sails and stars danced about as I was forced to take a knee.
Along with adjusting her cup Roseanne employed a second, well known ballplayer trait to the homage: spitting. Again, this was misinterpreted as disrespectful, which outside the ball yard it often is. But baseball has a long history of spitting. As far back as the game’s infancy in the 19th century, ball players have been expectorating tobacco juice. Those with a nicotine habit couldn’t very well light up a dart while playing, so they chewed tobacco. Those fields and dugouts back in the day must have been disgusting!
More enlightened, health minded ballplayers will supplant the oral fixation once occupied by chewing tobacco with bubble gum. Some actually mixed the chewing tobacco with bubble gum to keep the whole, disgusting mess together in decidedly distended cheeks. Others stuff the cheeks with sunflower seeds and work the shells off, eat the seeds and keeping with baseball tradition, spit out the shells. This still makes a mess of the dugouts, but are not as difficult to clean up, nor as stomach churning as the chaw juice.
One manufacturer of sunflower seeds took the ballplayers’ nickname for the snack branding theirs: Spitz.

Many a pick up ball game in parks and school yards all over the place is prefaced by cries of: “Who’s got spits?”
Maybe everyone might have got the characterization if Roseanne had actually gone out there with sunflower seeds in her yap. But then she wouldn’t have been able to sing the Anthem as well as she did and could have literally choked to death during that pesky, “rockets red glare” part.
There are some who might have not been too upset to see that happen.

As the late, great, Hall of Famer, Chicago Cubs legend, Ernie Banks would say: “It’s a beautiful day for a ball game. Let’s play two.”
And try to not let whoever messes up the Anthem ruin a nice day at the yard.

P.D. Taylor



March 31, 2018

Is it getting thick out there, or what? For the love of Mike, you’re reticent to turn on the radio, or TV for fear of immediately running to the Bushmill’s every time you see Wolf Blitzer’s face! What is it NOW, Wolfer? Please forgive one still clinging to the media we grew up with, but old farts are hard wired to old media, although those of us with a need to know read “newspapers” and “periodicals” on line now. A week does not go by when I don’t check in with the late Barbara Frum’s baby boy, David, a senior editor of the Atlantic and a former speech writer for George W. Bush. David Frum coined the term Axis of Evil. He is a brilliant writer and my kind of conservative currently fighting the good fight against Trumpism.

The younger generations may not realize it yet, but they too are suffering the effects of too much in-put. With all the tech connectivity 24/7 it is a wonder they get any respite at all. Hell, they’re living with cyber bullying in real time. The trolls attack them while they sleep, but how can they sleep if the trolls don’t sleep? Memo to self: find out what kind of coffee the trolls drink and start mainlining that shit? AAARRRRRRRGHHHHH!

Thankfully, they’re about to legalize weed. We Boomers of a certain age have studied the therapeutic effects for 50 years, or more. We openly embraced the nascent drug culture in the 1960’s and some continued to mosey on down the yellow brick road to the 21st Century and beyond!
Sometimes, I swear, you can’t make head or tail of it. One hits a wall of comprehension. Day to day life is full of one long WTF snap take? The other day, the Mrs. was en route to pick up our darling granddaughter. This is a routine journey travelled weekly over the past seven years as Grandma has been the de facto daycare for our precious, gift from God, grand babies. Trucking on down the Barnett Highway overlooking scenic Burrard Inlet traffic came to a grinding halt as protesters were blockading the terminal at the waterfront terminus of the Kinder Morgan pipeline controversy.

The irony of a major, arterial route’s being clogged with idling, internal combustion engine vehicles while those responsible for the traffic jam are protesting the transportation of raw, fossil fuels is not lost on any of us. While we definitely lean left concerning social, economic and environmental issues and heartily support those who are on the front lines this does not take away from the stress of knowing a small girl is waiting on her Grandma to pick her up to go swimming. She’s got her Hello Kitty beach bag packed with two towels: “one for my hair and one for my body,” she points out. Each towel is bigger than her, but she needs two. If you’re a grandparent, you’re going “Ahhhhhh,” right now. Yeah, it is totally sweet and the kind of stuff we feed on at this time of our lives.
I don’t want to see any oil spilled in Burrard Inlet, either, but this morning we have a date with a little girl and a pink, whale shaped, foam floaty in a wave pool. Big issues often have small impacts, but the look in a four year old’s eyes while you’re bobbing in an expanse of warm, blue water (they keep the temperature high, bless them, for the very young and the very old) and the horn starts signalling the wave is about to begin, is priceless! Can you spell ANTICIPATION?

So, you grab moments of calm amid the contemporary chaos of zeitgeist. The back eddies of bliss. Your humble servant invariably turns to music. I don’t know what the hell was vexing me recently. It doesn’t take much. These days, you pick ‘em! But with the ear buds securely in place and the ubiquitous iPod on Shuffle, up came Toots and the Maytals. Whatever was on the mind melted away to the signature Reggae, back beat and Toots Hibbert’s exceptional vocals, often compared to that of soul master Otis Redding. Your body involuntarily shifts to a mellower gear somewhere between Low and Reverse. If in motion you walk differently. That’s Toots Time. It is almost impossible to be bummed while listening to Toots and the Maytals. Try it. I dare you. The next time something ticks you off, like a gang of racoons knocks over your garbage can and aided and abetted by crows, tears everything apart all over the place, change into some shoes you don’t care about and dial up some Toots Therapy. You’re still cleaning up shredded, stinking, household garbage but you’re dancing at the same time.

In early 1960’s Jamaica Toots and the Maytals mastered Ska and Rocksteady, the precursors of Reggae music. Frederick Toots Hibbert is credited with introducing the term to a global audience in 1968 with the single, Do the Reggay. The late, legendary Bob Marley is the undisputed King of the genre, the Elvis of Reggae. But with Bob and his former band mate and revolutionary cadre, Peter Tosh, the music was edgier, much more political. Bob, Peter and the Wailers called the down trodden outside to man the barricades, while The Maytals invited everybody inside to the dance halls and house parties.

Toots and his Maytals play party music. Life is tough, sure, but whatcha gonna do? Turn up the music and dance! Toots covers Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up, a Reggae anthem and revolutionary rallying cry to this day. He slows it down and without diminishing the classic track’s call to action turns it into a long, sensuous groove worthy of the slow dance capping the evening before heading off into the night to dodge the 3’o’clock road block of Bob Marley’s Rebel Music.

Any Toots will do for a session of Toots Therapy. But if you’re new to his catalogue start with Sweet and Dandy, Beautiful Woman or Toots’ Rocksteady take on John Denver’s Country Roads. And definitely seek out any live tracks where the power of Toots’ showmanship is a marvel and explains the comparisons to Otis Redding. Then prepare yourself for the delightful, hard to shake, ear worm that is Chatty, Chatty. Check out Time Tough, the Toots and the Maytals Anthology set for all the high lights of a career getting close to 60 years long.
Toots and the Maytals continue to tour headlining concerts and festivals all over the world.

P.D. Taylor



December 30/2017

Cranial Debris 2017
P.D. Taylor

The Coquitlam Cosmic Cowboy "Boomer P.D. Taylor" checks in and checks out 2017.

George Michael.

George’s music was not necessarily my cup of tea, but I dug the man. He seemed to be loving and living life to the fullest and his music and videos resonated with the feeling of life’s a ball; just shut up and dance. He had the grace and cool to mockingly play himself on a Ricky Gervais TV show. Full disclosure: while I pierced one ear in 1972 in homage to my rock & roll guru, Keith Richards, I had the other one pierced in the 1980’s because of George Michael. I’m a sucker for symmetry and when noticing his balanced, matching hoops in both ears, I went in for a punch to the other lobe. My wife bought me a lovely pair for Christmas that year. Decades later I still get compliments on the earrings.
Fifty-three is wayyyyy too young, dude. If only you could have hung in for sixty-three, or maybe more. Despite being 10 years closer to the inevitable dirt nap that awaits us all you would have found some of the wisdom that, whether you like it or not, comes with the extra years put in dealing with the B.S.
No secret solutions, just more ways to shake it off.



Is it me, or do you when looking at a calendar and see the numerals “2017” not pause and think: WTF! Am I living in Star Trek over here?
And if so, where’s my Replicator?
“Earl Grey, hot,” indeed!
With all due respect to Captain Jean Luc Picard, and I truly do love Earl Grey tea and have closed many a romantic evening with a Blueberry Earl (1 ounce Grand Marnier, 1 ounce Amaretto and Earl Grey tea hot. Go with the Twinings for peak Earl flavour and extra style points. Serve this in a big ass brandy snifter. The aroma alone will fog your brain), but my order is: Kilkenny pint, cold and a Jamaican Fatty.
Oh, and a large Pepperoni Lover’s pie.
Never mind yet another generation of Smart Phone. Get those Silicon Valley eggheads working on the iReplicator. What do you want to bet somebody has that domain trade marked?
Can you imagine having one of those bastards on Superbowl Sunday when the gang is over for the game?
Who wants wings?
“We ran out of beer!”
“Talk to the wall, dude.”



Speaking of the Big Game; wasn’t this year’s Superbowl LI one for the ages? This was a contest worthy of the prefix, “SUPER.”
I didn’t have a horse in this race. We, died in the Silver and Black wool, citizens of the Raider Nation, have been in the Wilderness for some time. J.R.R. Tolkien said: “All Who Wander Are Not Lost.” Y’all know we’ll find our way to the Promised Land sooner than later. Yeah, we’re gonna see Howie Long weep live on FOX being consoled by Bradshaw.
In the end, what any football fan wants is a good game. Superbowl blowouts are boring.
This year’s contest was, arguably, the best Superbowl so far. No less a football pundit than former coach Brian Billick said so. His Baltimore Ravens waxed the New York Giants 34-7 in Superbowl XXXV. Whether you agree with Coach Billick or not there’s no argument that it was one of the best football games ever.
Going into halftime and waiting for Gaga to kick some ass, my wife ad I hit the kitchen for snacks, she remarked on the 28 – 3 Falcons’ lead.
“I guess it’s pretty much over,” she said.
Atlanta did look to have the game in hand.
“Welllll, I dunno,” I said. “They say you shouldn’t count your chickens and you can never count out Tom Brady and Coach Bill Bellichick. Brady is eminently capable of leading ‘em back.”
Lead them back he did. Love or hate the New England Patriots, and the team does generate a lot of the latter, one has to give them the respect they’ve earned. Seven trips to the Big Game and five, count ‘em, five wins? Tom Brady is now the winningest QB and Bellichick is the winningest coach in Superbowl history. It is going to be a long time before these records fall.
The immortal meme shot has to be the puss on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. He trotted into the locker room at half time on a personal career high that probably had him rubbing the finger where his Super Bowl ring was going to be. A virtual spectator during the second half, each time the cameras caught Ryan on the sidelines watching Brady put on a clinic he looked progressively more stunned. The poor sap didn’t know what hit him.



I love Christmas music; always have. The ubiquitous iPod is stocked with seasonal tunes and these will pop up throughout the year on Shuffle. When not in the mood for Christmas in July simply skip to the next track. Sometimes, depending on the tune, I won’t skip. Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” can roll any day of the year. And who isn’t a sucker for Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” music whether you’re catching rays or snowflakes on your tongue?



Does it make you a bad person to still find the fat Axl Rose memes hilarious?



April 11th saw the passing of another musical giant, guitarist J. Geils, leader of Boston’s legendary J. Geils Band, one of the rompinest stompinest combos ever!
While covering the story, our local television news outlet managed to come up with video footage of the J. Geils Band focussing only on lead singer, Peter Wolf. With no disrespect to Wolf who was and still is one of the most dynamic and charismatic frontmen to ever holler into a microphone, but would it have killed you to search the web for footage of the guy you’re referencing? How about a still at the very least? If not out of respect for the departed how about respect for Journalism 101? Are you a professional or a hack?
What if say in the unlikely situation that Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards were to pre decease Sir Mick Jagger, would the world of broadcast journalism use footage of Mick shaking his ass instead of shots of Keef riffing?



A neighbour up the street has white Lexus 330 sedan. The front end view looks like an Imperial Storm Trooper’s helmet. Admittedly my brain is pre disposed to noticing Star Wars imagery in everything from a row of poplars, cloud formations or latte foam.
“Hey, check it out. Jar Jar Binks!”
I’ve got a Sith Lord action figure glued to the dashboard of my black pick up truck. It’s St. Darth: The patron saint of INTERGALACTIC travel.
Don’t leave the atmosphere without one and always look BOTH ways before crossing the galaxy.



Say what you will about North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and all the nuclear brinksmanship, but the little nimrod sure knows how to throw a parade! All that goose stepping cannot be easy to rehearse. Heaven help any schmos who mess up, huh?
And could the military brass get any bigger hats? Should the worst case scenario ever occur, U.S. bomber crews could target all the North Korean generals by zeroing in on those enormous lids.



Do you like soundtrack music? Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia Theme is a lifelong fave. A gorgeous melody that always calls to mind the words: majestic and sweeping. Ennio Morricone’s classic score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is pretty much in perpetual shuffle rotation on the iPod as is Vangelis’ haunting sonic background for Ridley Scott’s original Bladerunner adding a dreamlike texture to the dystopian futurescape.
Boomers of a certain age will undoubtedly remember the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. For many it was the only soundtrack album they had and coincidentally it was the only classical music in their collection.
How about the Godfather? Iconic movie; Iconic score. Composed by Nino Rota, who doesn’t immediately recognize that 12 note theme? Playing the soundtrack around the house when the kids were small brought comments:
“Why are all these songs the same,” they’d ask?
Saying, “it’s Connie’s wedding and Luca Brasi wasn’t invited yet he showed up anyhow to show respect to Don Corleone on the day his only daughter is to be wed,” has no meaning to them.
They were too young to understand the subtle differences between tracks, Appolonia and the Sicilian Pastorale. The Baptism? Fuggedaboutit!
Another gem is the music director David Lynch selected for his 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction milestone, Dune. Despite its being a visual triumph of production and set design, make up and costuming with a spectacular cast, the picture flopped.
To do the source material justice, this should have been a 12 hour cable series. Fans of the novel tend to love this movie, but then they know the story intimately and understand the unfamiliar language and strange theology at the heart of the narrative. Movie goers who hadn’t read the book were pretty much lost, or at the very least baffled. The wider motion picture audience wasn’t all that interested in being baffled it seemed.
Getting Dune to the screen is an epic story itself. It took years of bought and sold motion pictures rights and different attempts to get it made. The sci fi media and genre picture world was abuzz with this saga from the start. High profile names like surrealist master Salvador Dali, Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky, nightmare artist H.R. Giger, Ridley Scott, Orson Welles and Pink Floyd were at one time or another attached to the effort.
Having seen David Lynch’s first feature, the bizarre Eraserhead, a number of times during midnight screenings at Toronto’s Original 99 cent Roxy Theatre on The Danforth, I was eager to see his oeuvre let loose on life in the year 10191 on the desert planet Arrakis known as Dune.
Lining up with other like minded idiots for the first matinee screening in town I was taken by the music playing on the theatres speakers as we took our seats.
“This must be music from the soundtrack,” I thought.
Hanging for the lengthy end credits to see who did the music I found Brian Eno had composed the main theme. That made perfect sense, but I was astonished to learn Toto was responsible for the rest.
“Toto,” I thought? “Are you kidding me, Toto!?”
A group of journeymen, Los Angeles, first call session musicians made up the band which could literally play anything for anyone anytime. Under the moniker Toto they had a run of hits with richly melodic, bland, formulaic songs like Rosanna (Grammy winning Record of the Year in 1983) and Africa (A Number 1 hit it the United States and Canada). A seasoned, touring rock & roll band they were not.
But soundtrack composers they most certainly were. The music they put together for Dune is the anti Rosanna. How did the same dudes who produced a fluffy love song partially inspired by actress Rosanna Arquette, the one time girlfriend of Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro come up with this other worldly, spacey score worthy of stalwarts like Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream? While some soundtracks work and others do not, this was the inspired coupling of sound and image.
Most great soundtrack music is orchestral. For Dune, Toto was aided and abetted by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, no less. This puts the sounds in the realm of “classical” music which tends to remain somewhat timeless, unlike contemporary popular songs which tend to lock the songs to specific eras and/or social trends.
For these tired old ears all of the above are solid sets of music that work wonderfully behind the individual movies yet are totally listenable without the screen action. The melodic, multi mood enhancing sounds are ideal background for reading and relaxing, or trying to figure out what you gotta do to deal with the Tattaglia Family. Capisce?



I cannot put the words “Trump” and “President” together in my mind let alone say them out loud. It has to qualify as an oxymoron, or to borrow from embattled United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, an “oxy freaking moron!” Apparently Tillerson used the more profane version of the adjective.



Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
According to Lennon and McCartney, “it was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”
The landmark album that is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released 50 years ago “today” on May 26, 1967 in the U.K. It would come out in North America a week later on June 2nd. Boomers of a certain age and disposition will know the first time they laid ears on what is, arguably, the greatest pop record ever. It would sit atop US record charts for three months while back home in the UK it was #1 for five months.
John, Paul, George and Ringo were fed up with all the clamour and chaos of Beatlemania, hammered home by a visit to the Philippines where the Beatles allegedly snubbed the nation’s First Lady, Imelda Marcos, by passing on attending her party. Arriving at the airport our beloved Fab Four was physically assaulted in what looked like a set up engineered by the security forces of Imelda’s hubby, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The band was terrified. John was furious.
John Lennon was clearly the leader of the Beatles. At the height of all the Beatle mayhem when they could not show their faces in public other than on stage, the stress of moving about under the strictest of security, sequestered in hotel and dressing rooms would take its toll on the band’s psyche. At low points in the exhausting, seemingly endless cycle of record, tour, record, tour, to boost morale, John would take the lead in a well rehearsed call and response exercise:
“Where are we going boys,” he’d call out in a smarmy, after hours club, doorman voice?
“To the top, Johnny,” Paul, George and Ringo responded in unison.
“To the top of what,” John called out?
“The toppermost of the poppermost,” they declared!
The Beatles removed themselves from live performance and the touring grind in 1966 with the last show in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on August 29th. Retreating to the sanctity and security of the recording studio they turned their talents to utterly changing the game of what popular music could and should be.
The song cycle that would complete with Sgt. Pepper began the first week of December, 1965 with the release of Rubber Soul. The songwriting had matured to a level that left no doubt of the Lennon McCartney mastery.
These were not the, “she loves you, yeah yeah yeah” Mop Tops. Our beloved Fabs had grown up, travelled around the around the world and had reached the absolute pinnacle of show business success. The music reflected this. It was deeper and more grown up. Rubber Soul was adult material. We the fans had to grow up, too or be left behind with Freddy and the Dreamers, Herman’s Hermits and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. No offence.

Not only did we the Beatles’ fans hang on their every note and word, but other major bands studied Beatles albums with a mixture of respect, envy and challenge. The Rolling Stones’ much maligned answer to Sgt. Pepper, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, is the classic example of attempted pop one up manship. Truth be told, I’ve always enjoyed the quirky set that stands alone as the most un-Stonesy Rolling Stones album ever. Thankfully, the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll band returned to its blues roots and set the world afire for decades. The Beatles were done by 1970 at which point the Stones were seemingly just getting started again.
Beach Boys maestro Brian Wilson would hear a new Beatles record and feel duty bound to answer back with a ground breaking Beach Boys album. Wilson’s oeuvre, too, had shifted dramatically away from having Fun, Fun, Fun until someone loses her Thunderbird privileges. Apparently the pressure to excel was two way as the Beatles treated each subsequent Beach Boys album the same. The mind blowing Revolver (released August 5, 1966) followed Rubber Soul and introduced the world to backward taping. As the story goes, John Lennon was at home in his musical study swacked on LSD. In this state of expanded consciousness and diminished motor skills he inadvertently spooled up a reel to reel tape the wrong way around. Upon hitting play he was captivated by the strange sounds coming out of the speakers. Summoning his driver, John was whisked to Abbey Road Studios in London to play the psychedelic sonics for producer (Sir) George Martin, whereupon the swoops, swirls and stop action sounds were added to Tomorrow Never Knows where John invited us to “turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”
There is an argument as to whether Sgt. Pepper is a rock record. The music itself is a mixture of styles, tempos, orchestrations and eras.
It was a time of rampant social, cultural and political change. For many, artists like the Beatles and Bob Dylan were more than musical entertainment. They were oracles. Their work was not diversion but a living soundtrack to the lives of an entire generation. They weren’t just commercially successful recording artists; they were bona fide leaders to countless millions of us all over the world. For the teens and young adults of the time, our musical leaders held much more power and sway over us than the actual elected officials in Ottawa, Washington or London.



This Paul Manafort character, former Trump campaign manager or adviser, now caught up in the colluding with Russians investigation. Is it me, or does he not look like the archetypal, oily bastard? If you were on a jury looking across a courtroom as he sits at the defence desk how could you not immediately think, “guilty?” Why are you bothering with a trial at all? Just look at the guy! It doesn’t matter what the charges are, he did it. For the love of Mike, do you have to be Kreskin, over here? Get him in an orange jumpsuit.



I finally got a cell phone. Welcome to the 21st Century, Samuel Morse. My daughter recently upgraded hers and Poppa got the hand me down hand set. Back in the 1980’s, friend, colleague, co worker, actor, broadcaster extraordinaire and general bon vivant, Terry David Mulligan was one of the first people to go “all in” on the then nascent technology. His first cell phone resembled those massive WWII era walkie talkies you see in all the old war movies. We used to joke down at CFOX-FM on Richards Street that “Mullie” needed to haul the phone’s battery around in a utility trailer behind the Mulligan family VW Vanagon.
“It’s the same one they use on Klieg lights,” TDM would boast.
It was at the FOX that I started developing PTSD, that’s Post Telephone Stress Disorder. As the Promotion and Marketing Director for the station the phone in our little cubbyhole of an office never stopped ringing. But in the language of the day, it wasn’t thought of as an intrusion, but rather: “that’s my job calling!” I feared developing “cauliflower ears” like some old pug from jamming the phone’s receiver up against my ears all day long.
The ringing started to haunt me. There were times back then when our home phone would ring waking me out of a dead sleep to answer: “Promotion.”
I tended to approach the cell phone like I would exotic beasts such as tigers and leopards. Those things are remarkable, beautiful and enticing, but I wouldn’t want to put one up against the side of my head.
I did post secondary education at Ryerson University (RTA class of 1973) in downtown Toronto. Ryerson offered a raft of curricula in applied arts, engineering and technology not unlike M.I.T. in Boston. The computer in the computer sciences faculty filled an entire, glass walled, hermetically sealed room. This was still the punch card era. Students wore white lab coats like scientists and had to pass through a double door airlock before entering.
Now most everyone carries a vastly superior computing device in the palm of their hands or stuck in the back pocket of their jeans. It is still mind blowing to an old Boomer fart.
I am simply in awe of all the wondrous things today’s cell phones are capable of. I like the photos, the texting and the ability to call a tow truck on a cold, dark night. The social media part seems so time consuming and would eat into vital daydreaming and listening to music. Truth be told, I don’t want to stay all that connected to the Matrix, y’know? I’ve read far too many Phillip K. Dick stories to be comfortable with today’s technology. And if you haven’t noticed, kids, it’s getting very Dickian out there. Dick was a Jedi Master of science fiction whose novels and stories are evolving into science fact before our very eyes. Make no mistake. The brave new world is already here. Pad up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
The bottom line is our daughter insisted on our having cell phones. If we’re to have care and control of the grandchildren we have to be connected. No arguments there. She and our son-in-law are in that betweeny generation thing where they now bear the burden of having to keep track of small children and aging parents who often behave like small children.
“Keep hold of the rope and stay with the group!”
And speaking of Mullie’s early, large device; that is exactly how I approach the cell phone: it’s a walkie talkie so my wife and daughter can keep tabs on me mostly via text, over.
“Where are you Poppa and what are you doing?” Emoji of doddering old fart trying to buy a donut.
And more importantly: “Where are the kids, what are THEY doing?”
“Can you pick up some pomegranates on the way home?”
My darling wife has a lifelong love of the once exotic fruit that is now as common as apples and bananas. The children and the grandchildren would seem to be genetically pre disposed to also loving pomegranates.
The biggest challenge faced with the cell phone? Remembering to take it when leaving the house.



My daughter and son in law gave me the best Christmas present ever: a beer advent calendar! Is that a brilliant idea, or what? Well, if you don’t care for beer, not so much. But for the suds o’ phile,” it is most thoughtful and deliciously rewarding. Clearly, beer is an acquired taste. And those of us who started experimenting with fermented beverages in our teens a tough swill to swallow at first.
“Tell me again why we’re drinking this stuff?”
“Shut up and change the record. Let’s have a little McKenna Mendelson Mainline, or Buddy Guy.”
You gagged her down regardless. Are we not Canadian? It tastes awful because it’s working! Forget weed. Beer was our gateway drug.
What a whole lot of care and effort my darling Pumpkin went into seeking out a selection of singular imported and local craft brews for Poppa. And when you get to our age, let’s be frank. We’ve got more than enough stuff accumulated over a lifetime. We don’t need any more as we fight to downsize and de-clutter. Consumables are the best gifts. And for this boy from east end Trawno, beer is effectively plasma, so it’s like the gift of life, eh?



Aging Boomer tip of the week: the Mrs. requires tri focal lenses in her glasses. Chances are the bulk of our Boomer peer group is also wearing some kind of corrective eyewear. In the shower without her glasses she was challenged differentiating the shampoo from the conditioner. She’s currently using Schwartskopf Ultime, which smells fantastic. I’m a sucker for the smell of hair care brands, like Joico. Joico product smells good enough to eat. But I digress. The Schwartzkopf shampoo and conditioner come in identical bottles. Never mind needing glasses; focussing through the steam alone is challenge enough.
Sharpie in hand I applied a large, bold, black S and C on the appropriate bottles.



Who knows what is in store for us in 2018? Hold those you love and care about close. We of the Boomer generation are each approaching or well past our best by dates. That explains the smell.
The best gift or New Year resolution for those of a certain age is to keep in touch with each other throughout the year.

P.D. Taylor



December24, 2017



My late Mom was the original Mrs. Claus. She taught us to love Christmas in so many ways, but the greatest gift she bestowed was the ability to savour the season. She didn’t want anything to get in the way of the wonderful lead up to Christmas morning. She loved to see the anticipation and excitement grow with each passing December day. I would turn into an absolute nervous wreck while Mom blissfully went about her baking, wrapping and planning. She wouldn’t even let on what presents my brothers were getting. That way we could not only enjoy our own gifts, but rejoice in what the others received. Mom took to heart that it was better to give than receive and that the thought was what really mattered.

She put a lot of thought and effort into making each Christmas special. One thing she did not agree with was giving money in lieu of an actual gift.

“What kind of thought is that?”

It was too crass and too easy for Marjorie Taylor. We kids, on the other hand, were more than happy with any Christmas cash that floated our way.
Our maternal Grandmother Emma thankfully did not adhere to her only daughter’s strict dictum when it came to filthy lucre. On occasion Nanny was wont to slip us a five or a ten dollar bill usually accompanied with the whispered instruction:
“Don’t tell your grandfather.”
No problemo Grand MaMa.

Our grandfather, Albert, known to all as Pop, was notoriously on the cheap side. Our family has a saying whenever the subject of thrift arises:
“There’s a little bit of Bert in all of us.”
With Christmas 1969 approaching an edict must have been sent out by Mom as I received a phone call from Nanny asking what I wanted as a present this year.
In May of that year I turned 18 and British band the Who released its landmark album, Tommy. The more than ambitious work was hailed as the first “Rock Opera.” Eager to add it to my record collection I told my Grandmother.
“A record album: Tommy by the Who, please Nanny.”
Fine and dandy.

I don’t believe she wrote it down for my 70 something Grandmother got her hat and hand bag and trundled off via the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) to a local emporium of recorded music where she promptly asked a clerk for, “Johnny by the Yur.”
I only wish I could have been there to see the look on the dude’s face. Astute rock expert that he was it didn’t take long to divine that this delightful lady was in fact seeking Pete Townshend’s musical tale of the “deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball.”

Johnny by the Yur. My younger brother and I crack up about this story to this day, especially around the holidays. The album itself was ultimately consigned to the vinyl collectible bins of Neptoon Records, but the memory lives on as one of the best Christmas gift stories ever.

May you and yours make lasting memories this Holiday Season.

P.D. Taylor


November 25, 2017

Beer Bikes - To Go!

Sad news out of Amsterdam: they have banned the city’s Beer Bikes. WTF!?

Beer Bikes, who knew? These are specially kitted out, pedal powered, rolling bars that were quite popular with tourists. No shit. Rows of bar stools on either side face inward to the central bar service area. Riders swill beer as the contraptions rolled through Amsterdam’s historic streets with all that unique, picturesque architecture and alongside those wonderful canals.

In your wildest dreams could you imagine something like this wheeling through Gastown or along Granville Street at 2:00 AM?

In some parts of Europe, “a couple of beers” are often two litres! One wonders if the Beer Bikes were equipped with on board catheters. Frequent pee stops HAD to be required. What did imbiber riders have to do, pull an overhead cord like on the streetcar? (Forgive an old TTC rider. You can take the boy out of Toronto, but you can’t take the latent Big Smoke references out of the boy.)
DING! Wizz break. Put out the yellow caution flag.

Those picture post card, scenic, streets aside, seated facing the bar did not allow for much rubber necking unless you have the spinal flexibility of Linda Blair in the Exorcist. But clearly, sightseeing was not the primary draw of this conveyance. Sounds like a party and it was. Too much, it would seem for the town Vaders.

Beer Bikes were often booked out to groups, like birthday celebrations and stag parties. Yeah. Can you say “recipe for rowdy?”

It is not surprising that Amsterdam would have something as crazy as Beer Bikes plying its streets. The city’s reputation for tolerance of what is outright banned activity in much of the world was well known. Back in the Day Amsterdam was among the primary destinations for the back packing Boomer. Some put post secondary education on hold, or simply postponed getting a job, or taking up anything resembling responsibility to follow in the footsteps of Kerouac, Cassady, Lord Byron, Burroughs and the Buddha seeking wisdom, perception and an answer to the great cosmic riddle.
One local Dharma Bum in the neighbourhood squirreled together what he thought was a sizeable sum intended to see him through several months of the late 1960’s version of Le Grand Tour.

Seeing him kicking around our local streets a few short weeks after departure for the Continent,
“I thought you were going to Europe,” I asked?
“I did.”
“Back so soon?”
“I ran out of money,” he said with a somewhat guilty, yet self satisfied look on his sorry map.
It turns out he hit Amsterdam and quickly blew his travel nest egg on late night ladies, hash and Heinekens.
One man’s enlightenment, huh?

Thank goodness for the foresight of a return ticket.

P.D. Taylor



Novembe3r 10, 2017

Ninety-nine years ago the Great War was still raging in France. It would be another year before the guns on the Western Front would fall silent. The so called War To End All Wars had to be re-classified a mere 21 years later with the outbreak of the greatest conflict the world has ever seen, World War II, which ultimately claimed an astonishing 60 million lives, most of them civilians, non combatants.
War has been a constant since the dawn of humankind.

Our family has a proud tradition of military service. My maternal grandfather was wounded in WWI. Pieces of German shrapnel worked their way out of his body up until he passed away in the 1950’s. My Dad was a fighter pilot in Europe during WWII. He flew the legendary DeHavilland Mosquito, a twin Rolls Royce Merlin engine powered hot rod that flew over 400 miles an hour. It was the fastest airplane in the world until the P-51 Mustang entered the war.

My nephew is a career soldier who first saw combat as a teenage reservist in Somalia, before Black Hawk Down. He was supposed to be a peacekeeper.
“Peacekeeper,” he told me. “I was in a firefight every day, Uncle Pete.”
With years of dedication and intense training he eventually became part of Canada’s elite Special Forces. While serving in Afghanistan he was wounded when blown out of an Armoured Personnel Carrier by an I.E.D.

Our family is proud and pleased that Regimental Sergeant Major Taylor is now out of harm’s way assigned to passing on his years of experience and expertise training the next generation of our Special Forces.
Each November we pause to honour the men and women standing firm on the thin camo line and those who have nobly served in the defence of all that we hold dear, especially the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But this year something sticks in my craw. It is the settlement paid out to Omar Khadr. It is, quite simply, a disgrace!
What if the soldiers killed and wounded when he threw that grenade in Afghanistan were Canadians and not our American allies? Would our government have been so eager to pony up the dough?
And what of our First Nations brothers and sisters torn from their families, bands and culture to be systematically abused in the Residential School System? When many of us were living the Boomer high life as kids, our indigenous counterparts were being screwed, figuratively and literally! Surely, their human rights were denied. WHERE IS THEIR TEN AND A HALF MILLION BUCKS!?
The Omar Khadr settlement will figure in the next federal election and just might cost Mr. Trudeau his residence at 22 Sussex Drive.

Like many of his friends and peers, our Dad was a teenager when he joined the Air Force. When RCAF Warrant Officer First Class Robert W. Taylor returned to “civvie street” he continued to fly and teach others out of little, grass airfield in Buttonville, Ontario just north of Toronto. He never spoke of combat. Not a Dickie Bird, as they say in Cockney London, not a word about his time in the air. All of his WWII anecdotes were of an amusing or humourous nature, like this adage on life in the military:

P.D. Taylor



August 05, 2017

Canada Is Over

The other day our granddaughter noticed the small Maple Leaf flag tucked into a planter outside the front door.
“Canada is over,” she stated in her customary emphatic style!
Understanding that she probably meant the July 1st holiday and not the nation as a whole…
“Canada DAY is over,” I said “but our country, Canada, is not over and is, quite simply, the best country in the world.”

“Poppa’s blast of jingoism was lost on her completely, but our darling little three year old was aware that something concerning Canada recently happened and it must have to do with this flag because there were a lot of them all over the place. People had it painted on their faces!
That something, of course, was the national holiday celebrating Confederation, when our beloved Home and Native Land became a country instead of a colony. This past July 1st marked the milestone 150th birthday, our Sesquicentennial, a big word for a big day.

Regular visitors to the White Rock Sun may recall Publisher Dave Chesney and myself writing of our (mis)adventures as “Promo Men,” record company promotion representatives in the heady music days of the 1970’s and ‘80’s. To borrow liberally from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times; it was the BEST of times.” It was a 24/7, 365 days a year shitraise of epic proportions. I’ll bet neither of us can remember the number of promos we designed and executed throughout those years. Time and detail get blurred when you’re having fun. These weren’t jobs, they were gifts from God.
Besides the lost brain cells and damaged ear drums one take away from those years in the Music Business was the ability to recognize a good promo, regardless of whether it was our idea, or not.
This Canada 150 thing is one of those warranting a tip of the old promo Biltmore. Helluva job! The government obviously launched this, but Canuckleheads from coast to coast grabbed the puck and deked off with it.

How well did this work out? Lemme tell y ‘all from the neighbourhood experience. Our little corner of Beautiful British Columbia’s Lower Mainland celebrates each Canada Day with a day long fete in Town Centre Park culminating with a fireworks display. It’s generally a pretty big event, but this year it ramped up about 150%!
We live a couple of blocks from the park and can view the fireworks from a west facing, second floor bedroom window. You can’t see the lower level, sparkling and sprays as these are blocked by houses and trees, but the high altitude, sky burst mortars and rockets red glare are glorious to behold. Prior to the light show’s kicking off we can watch neighbours as they move on foot towards the park. Non locals flood our warren of small streets, crescents and cul de sacs with overflow parking.

I generally do not take in the fireworks at the park. A retail worker on the graveyard shift, I’m usually getting ready for work when the show gets underway around 10:00 PM. I can floss the teeth, or drink a cup of tea while watching through the window as colourful explosions light the sky. The fireworks are wrapped up by the time I get into the vehicle for the roughly 10 minute, drive to work.
Clearly, I did not factor the impact of the Canada 150 promo. The neighbourhood was in total gridlock. It has never been like this for the past 17 Canada Day’s we’ve been living here. Main arteries were clogged and all residential streets near the park were bumper to bumper with vehicles literally inching along if moving at all. I tried a couple of what I thought were turns known only to those who lived in the area to find that the massive crowds attending the fireworks display totally nullified any inside knowledge of the lay of the land. I dutifully took my place in the traffic that was basically seeping along.
Moving along with the traffic jam I noticed lots of young people walking in celebratory groups along sidewalks many of whom were wearing Canadian flags like superhero capes. They were keeping up with traffic. There were lots and lots of them openly and exuberantly demonstrating their love for our fine land. These kids appeared to be in the tween and young teen demographic. Was it nascent patriotism, or did they all get caught up in the Canada 150 hoopla? Either way it warmed this old Canuck’s heart cockles.
I’m gonna be late for work.

I started donating blood with my Dad over 40 years ago, with a hiatus in the 1970’s for obvious reasons: the sexual revolution had broken out and I enlisted and volunteered for front line duty immediately! The hedonistic, rallying troika of the era was Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll. Keep in mind, brothers and sisters these are not in alphabetical order, but rather priority.
I kept my blood to myself for a number of years, but returned to donating after settling down, getting married and having kids.

As part of the Canada 150 promo we were encouraged to set personal 150 goals to mark the occasion. Pledge to do one hundred and fifty sit ups every day while wearing a Team Canada Jersey! Volunteer 150 times to shoo bees away from Don Cherry’s suit jackets.
“Geez, Grapes, could you lay off on the Old Spice. You’re not helping over here.”
My blood donations have been adding up. I passed the milestone 100 and got the gold card some time ago and wondered if I might be close to hitting a buck fitty this year and wouldn’t that be fun for the Sesquicentennial?

As of this writing I sit on 142 donations. One can give blood every 55 days and though scheduled through the end of the year the math is against me.
“The good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” as Hank Williams used to say, I’ll hit the 150 donations next year and stick the commemorative pin on my Canada Day hat.

While we’re on the topic of holidays, Happy BC Day.

P.D. Taylor



May 26, 2017


Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Andrew, who?

Yeah, that’s about it.

The recent provincial election and follow up dramatics of absentee ballot tabulations and recounts thrust Andrew Who into the harsh glare of the limelight seemingly overnight. If John Horgan was a relatively unknown entity despite years in the Legislature leading up to this race, Andrew Weaver was Casper the Friendly Backbencher, table for one.

Not so invisible anymore, Andrew Weaver sits poised to be a true difference maker despite his team’s falling one seat short of attaining official party status. Official, or not, the Greens are in the catbird seats representing the imbalance of power in British Columbia’s first minority government in 65 years.

Weaver is going to have to call up all the political acumen, communication skills and dealmakers dark arts he can. He might want to bone up on his Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s called The Prince, dude. You can find it in the library. And how Green is that, showing up at the Public Library? I smell photo op. If the Medici’s, consigliere is a tad too harsh for y’all, how about Von Clausewitz? One presumes you already have your own, well thumbed copy of Lao Tzu. It’s time to crack the books and cram like a freshman on Ritalin and Red Bull.

The three seats won by the BC Greens is the best showing to date for the environmentally focussed party making it the first Green caucus in North America. It is a high water mark for the movement that garnered just shy of 17% of the popular vote. The proportional representation thing is a discussion for another day, but if it existed in our province, the Greens would be sitting in 14 seats, not 3. Just sayin’.

Naturally, Andrew Weaver and his two, plucky sidekicks will need all the pluck they can muster to navigate the political white water they’re about to be thrown into without a paddle. Never mind the paddle. These three aren’t even going to get a boat.

Some would argue that Weaver has only one way to go. Work with the NDP to draft and move forward some meaningful legislation in keeping with the principles of the green movement. Can they in all conscience side with Pipeline Christy, or LNG Terminal Christy, or Site C Debacle Dam Christy and still be able to show their faces in daylight?

And Ms. Clark finds herself in probably the most challenging situation of her political life. Not only does her own career hang in the balance, but also that of her party and its greater support network in the business, commodities and high finance communities. It’s kind of like a champion snooker player plotting several shots ahead, or a chess Grand Master knowing where his Queen has to be four moves into the future. Whatever does, or does not come out of this minority government for Christy Clark personally, she has to manoeuvre the party into the best position possible going forward. Minority governments never last too long.

The only thing certain is another election is coming.

Here’s wishing Andrew Weaver all the luck in the world and Horgan, too.

Let’s see what kind of pie fight Christy, Larry and Moe can pull off in the coming days and weeks.

P.D. Taylor



May 14, 2017

Beer/Mother’s Day

P.D. Taylor

Okay. Clearly, I’m out of step with the Zeitgeist, but whose idea was it to put orange peel in beer?

Beer is beer. God bless her and all who sail on her. But beer doesn’t need zest or anything else excepting maybe loud music, crunchy snacks, pizza, and sloppy sex.
Or a shot of Irish sitting next to it.

Don’t get me wrong; I love oranges, eating one almost every day. Vitamin C AND killer roughage, kids, in its own, easy to carry in your pocket, bio degradable wrapping. Oranges taste sensational, too.
Ditto for beer, but when I’m eating or drinking one, I don’t want anything to do with the other.

Blame this citrus in beer trend on Knucklehead Zero, the first person to stick a slice of lime in a Corona. Yeah that’s what you want to do to a freshly opened beer; instantly kill all the carbonation. A bit of delicious lime on the side is dandy, but don’t actually stick it in the beer. If you wanted a margarita, you should have ordered a margarita, Homes.

Take it from a seasoned campaigner: there is no shame in ordering a margarita and a beer at the same time. Let your tummy be the mix master.
It would appear that travel agencies and breweries are very big on “finding one’s own beach” with, no doubt, the able assistance of their products. So, you and the crew take the cue and hike through forests boreal and tropical to your own private Playa del Paradiso.

“The sun, the sea, the beautiful white sand; we’ve definitely found our beach. It would’ve been an absolutely perfect day if the beer hadn’t been flatter than piss on a plate!”
Wherever you are and whatever you’re sippin’, here’s to a 2017 summer that’s clearly bitchin’.

Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.
- Jack Nicholson


Like most, I’d be nowhere without the guidance of my Mom’s gentle, loving yet firm, Virgo hand.

Boomers, if your Mom is still with you, God bless you both. Take Mom out for a beer, or split a six pack on the patio. My darling departed Mom liked a beer when she was younger, then switched to gin and tonic later on. But her Mom, my British born (Tyne Sider) “Nanny” loved a brewski or two.

The drinking age was lowered to 18 in my native Ontario one month before the 21st birthday. I had beers chilling as my Grandmother Emma came walking up our little street in suburban Toronto to help celebrate what was then a big day for those of us who grew up with British roots. Mom was at work as Nanny and I got to toasting my “coming of age.”

When Mom returned I was summoned to the kitchen. While we weren’t yet belting out “Knees Up Mother Brown,” Ma knew something was up.
“How many beers has your Nanny had,” she asked with a furrowed brow that could freeze a charging rhino in its path?
“Um, a couple,” I said with all the sincerity of Eddie Haskell playing Huckleberry Finn in a school production of Tom Sawyer.

“No more for her,” said the only person whose opinion I ever gave a damn about.
Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers and Grandmothers young and old everywhere.

P.D. Taylor



P.D. Taylor


May Day for potheads is fast approaching with the annual 4/20 celebrations about to light up.

In a narrow 4-3 decision the Vancouver Parks Board drew some kind of line in the sand by rejecting an application to hold a sanctioned 4/20 gathering at Sunset Beach. Last year’s unsanctioned event there drew some 25,000 herbophiles.
It’s a perfect spot and has been for at least forty years that I’m aware of. Yeah, unbeknownst, it would seem to certain elements of the Vancouver Parks Board, people have been enjoying a toke or two at Sunset Beach for decades. Also at English Bay, Kits Beach, Jericho, Spanish Banks, Queen Elizabeth Park, the University Endowment Lands and pretty much every neighbourhood ball park across the city.
“Get a five run lead and we can crack some beers. Get a ten run lead and we can smoke a joint.”

Mixed recreational league softball was a serious business in the 1980’s, but not THAT serious.

I knew nothing of 4/20 until hipped to the concept by my son during his misspent youth. The Boy and his peers would skip school and/or take the day off work to smoke four foot joints, hang, commune and frolic at impromptu Renaissance Weed Fairs. It all seems rather quaint up against today’s deadly opioid crisis, huh?

By the time the so-called 1960’s Revolution made its way to our little corner of Metropolitan Toronto if it wasn’t D.O.A. it was definitely coughing up blood. Marijuana, the revolutionary sacrament, was scarce and low grade. When any did come our way it was mostly dry as dust, Mexican ditch weed. One didn’t so much catch a buzz because of the THC content, but rather the oxygen deprivation from holding your breath so long. And the ratio of seeds to actual pot was probably 60-40, which meant you were kissing shirts goodbye all the time. The more you liked an article of clothing the more likely it was to be burned by an exploding cannabis seed. It was a sub clause of Murphy’s Law.

In our teen years most weekdays at 4:20 PM we’d be in my best friend Tim’s family rec room drinking tea, rather than smoking it, and watching Star Trek re-runs. This was way before Cable. In Toronto our Big 3 American network programming beamed across Lakes Erie and Ontario from Buffalo, New York. We could watch two hours of Star Trek back-to-back from 4:00 to 6:00. The second hour had two competing stations each airing a different episode, so we had a choice. The debate ensued.
“Channel 7 has the one where Kirk is hustling that blue babe.”
“Those antennae are strangely hot, dontcha think?”
“Yeah, but over on channel 4 is the one where Spock gets horny and has to deedee to Vulcan to get laid or he’ll die.” (“Amok Time” Episode 30. It was the Season 2 Premiere,)
“I love that one!”
“I thought I was going to die if I didn’t get some action, but it didn’t happen.”
“The dying or the sex?
“Kirk has to disobey Starfleet orders to divert the Enterprise to Vulcan. He puts his career on the line to help Spock get some.”
“Is that a wing man, or what?”
“Literally, as they’re flying in a Starship!”
“’The City on the Edge of Forever,’ (Season 1, Episode 28 written by sci-fi legend, Harlan Ellison and, arguably, the greatest Star Trek ever) this is not, but it remains one of the best. Punch it up.”
“Why would the Vulcan lass T’Pring choose that goof Stonn over Spock, anyhow?”
“Love is strange.”
“And it’s stranger on Vulcan. Thinner air.”
“He’s right, thinner air.”

A further debate could easily break out whether sex would be better on a planet with less, or more gravity, which was funny because none of us knew what sex was like on Earth, yet.
We were a bunch of teenage guys in a suburban rec room, drinking tea and watching Star Trek. Not exactly chick magnets, y’know?

For us, HIGH School involved booze more often than not. The full on party that was the 1970’s was just around the corner. Post Secondary? Now that was a wholllllllllle different thang. I studied broadcasting (Ryerson University, RTA Class of 1973). Those writing sessions, radio and TV labs were way more fun with a joint or two. And with Ryerson’s being located a block off Yonge Street (that Fun Street) in the heart of downtown Toronto, there were scores of bars within a few minutes walk. Yeah, we alumni often wonder how we managed to graduate, too.

Do the anti 4/20 members of the Parks Board have any sense or irony? It’s as if the local politicians’ amateur theatre collective, The Stick Up Our Arse Players, was mounting a 1960’s retrospective revue for Theatre Under the Stars and the Director asked, “who wants the play THE MAN?” And the Parks Board are waving their hands shouting: “ME! ME!”

Don’t you get it? The very essence of 4/20 is defiance. You’ve completely played into their prankster hands. A doob on the beach is great no matter what, but a doob on the beach when some wanker of a single ‘A’ level politico says you can’t is even sweeter. Just like in high school, the 4/20 kids are sniggering at their non sparkin’ classmates. The 4/20 kids are high, so they’re just as likely to be sniggering about a caterpillar on a lilac bush.
“That caterpillar is dope, man. Check it out.”
“Beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue.”

Across the line in the Uptight States of America, a number of states have legalized marijuana. Did you ever in your life think they would do it before us? The Prime Minister of our Great Dominion is talking legalization by Canada Day next year, but here in La La Land, some minor municipal functionaries are making a personal stand. To what end? What do you possibly hope to gain from this move politically? That loud whooshing these Parks Board members are hearing is the sound of time and tide passing them by. Don’t look now, but your irrelevance is showing. And the cool kids are still sniggering at you, but not behind your backs. They’re doing it out in the open, en masse on the Beach where you said they couldn’t.

There was a hippie joke back in the day: Why did the short hair (read: straight) cross the road? Somebody told him to. Why did the long hair (read: counter culture) cross the road? Somebody told him not to.
The hair thing is no longer a symbolic identifier, but it would appear the opposing sides in the evolution of weed culture are still very much entrenched in their positions.
Old jokes and old jokers fade away. It’s inevitable. We tired ass Boomer farts have yielded the pub’s shuffleboard table to the younger generations. It is fun to sit back, nurse a pint and cheer them on from the sidelines while they try to figure out the game.

So, to those who celebrate the season, Happy 4/20, y’all. Please remember to clean up after yourselves, m’kay? Don’t leave those Parks Board humps with anything to get pissy about.

P.D. Taylor



January 15, 2017

Ice Ice Baby

P.D. Taylor

Born and raised in Toronto, I became a “born again” West Coaster when relocating to Vancouver in the fall of 1977. I found myself in a part of our Home and Native Land devoid of winter as we in the rest of Canada understood the meaning of the term.

The winter of 1969-1970 found your humble scribe working outside in the Northern reaches of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Can you say, “Uranium City?” This was an obscure, little outpost, way to hell and gone in Northern Saskatchewan accessible only by air. What do you think the town was famous for? I love legendary Canadian rock band, Trooper for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Ra and Smitty are two of the nicest guys that ever walked the earth, but they are Hall of Famers to me for actually working Uranium City into one of their songs: “Real Canadians.”

The bulk of that winter was spent schlepping the bush on snowshoes, living in a tent north of the top end of Lake freakin’ Winnipeg. Check the map, kids. Yeah, up there. It was Jack London territory and cold beyond imagining. Temperatures averaged 20 below on the old Fahrenheit scale with periods dipping to an astonishing 40 below and wind chills taking it to 74 degrees below zero. I shit you not. There were times some nights crossing frozen lakes with the Aurora blazing across the sky that I swore I could hear the distant ring of sleigh bells and look off to see Lara and Dr. Zhivago blasting by in a Troika. Cue the balalaikas, Comrade.
I have come to value the experience more with each passing year, but enjoyable it was not. While I cling to the memories I prefer to live here where snow and ice are more commonly dealt with by Zambonis, or Sno-Cats on the ski hills.

That first winter on the West Coast was an eye opener. A record promo man for Capitol/EMI I was heading out to drop off the latest hits to CFMI-FM when she and sister station, the venerable CKNW was housed in a re-purposed supermarket on McBride in New West. Pulling out of the Capitol office in the Century Plaza on Burrard Street a light snow had begun to fall. This was barely noticeable to a native Torontonian. It hardly warranted turning on the wipers. I had yet to acquaint myself with local highways and byways so took the seemingly most direct route along Kingsway. Kingsway has always been a trip to drive. For a relative newcomer it was a delight.
During the call at CFMI the snow had kicked up a notch. Again, no biggie. Visibility was fine and accumulation was still minimal.

Suddenly, traffic was a nightmare. It was the middle of the day. Where did all these cars come from? Unbeknownst to me, businesses across the region started closing up and allowing employees to go home early clogging the streets with vehicles that not only began turning the snow on the streets to glare ice but impeding any snow removal assets from doing their thing with the plows and the salt.
Cars and trucks were everywhere skidding, spinning, sliding and coming sideways at you from every direction. Even a seasoned, navigate the 401 at night in a blizzard driver knew enough to pull over. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to park ‘em.
Determined to ride this one out from the sidelines I sought out a medicinal pint and called my boy Dave Chesney, a native West Coaster for some advice. I was a little shook up from the impromptu, bumper car course the slippery streets provided.

“There are two things you have to know about driving here when it snows,” Dave offered. “If you’re going up hill tromp on the gas pedal; if you’re going downhill, jam on the brakes.”

Yeah, that about summed up what I witnessed picking the way back along Kingsway to Vancouver.
The irony of that day was the snow’s turning to rain around about 5:00 PM when most would have been getting off work to rainy rather than icy streets for the commute home.
In the ensuing years snow was rare and when it did appear generally, like another fine Trooper song, “here for a good time, not a long time.” That old Vancouver adage rang true: sailing in the morning, skiing in the afternoon. Want to play in the snow? Go up to Grouse or Seymour. We’re going to sit on Bridges Patio, nurse one and watch the Granville Island Ferry bob by. Bring the binoculars and watch skiers on the Cut. Winter on demand. That’s the ticket.

Standard Operating Procedure when snow does arrive is: wait ‘til it rains. Let Mother Nature clear the streets for us. Welllllllll, in case you missed the memo, Climate Change has thrown all that thinking for a loop. Make no mistake. Another Ice Age is coming, but not anytime soon. The odd twist of the tired old phrase, Global Warming, however, is that all the snow and ice covering the Lower Mainland is the result of Earth’s getting warmer, not colder. It’s a puzzler, isn’t it, but there you go.

During that initial snowfall at the beginning of December our son took three passes at the sidewalk and I did two. We live on a corner, so have a much longer sidewalk around the yard. No squawk, just stating the facts. We prefer living on a corner and always have. The snow was coming down, but I’m no zealot. Left to my own devices I tend towards sloth and inertia. The couch potato in me realizes that snow is so much easier to deal with in small doses spread over time, so hit it early; hit it often. Shovel some, go inside for a hot chocolate and throw the toque in the dryer. Repeat as needed. And here’s the secret, numbskulls: WHILE THE SNOW IS STILL SOFT AND MANAGEABLE! Was everybody asleep in high school Chem. class? Solid, liquid, gas, anyone? Anyone at all?

Every once in awhile you have to, as was often said in my family, “get out and blow the stink off ya!” Shovelling snow is a marvellous opportunity to do this. It is also a marvellous opportunity for one of those shared, neighbourhood experiences. In today’s fast paced, sometimes insular, tech focussed, often self absorbed society we don’t interact with each other in person as we once did. It is amazing to step outside on a snowy night to the sound of snow shovels scraping concrete here and there. Up the street someone pauses, sees you with a snow shovel, nods, bends over and the scraping begins again. It was fun to be out there and quite literally see who on the block gives a shit. Memorize those faces and those addresses. They’re going to come in handy.

The stuff that wasn’t cleared was sopping wet, heavy and a pain in the ass to get rid of, sure, but in semi liquid state still much easier to deal with than when frozen. Guess what happened when the temperature plunged below freezing? That formerly wet, slushy snow was now granite. Even snow shovel owning idiots like me don’t have the tools nor the desire for that. I already snapped one vintage, cast iron chopping bar during the first cold snap at the beginning of December.

Snow removal became an oxymoron. At best the general effort was a lick and a promise. Plows appeared to make one pass and one pass only down backstreets and major thoroughfares alike leaving ridges of ice forming basic slot tracks and reducing most side streets to one lane traffic. Outside our city hall there are still mounds of rock hard ice in the middle of the street. How can the Mayor look out at that and not feel like a hump?
You hear all the time about its being the law that you have to shovel the walkway in front of your business or residence within a certain amount of time after a snowfall. While it is the law, does it really have to be? Do you have to be threatened with fines to do your civic duty? Can you not look out at a snow covered sidewalk and imagine it is your own, beloved osteoporosis suffering Mom, or Grandma trying to negotiate her way along the path? One slip and she can shatter like a pane of glass. Would it kill ya to get off your sorry, self indulgent butt for a half an hour and burn some excess holiday calories making the walk past your house safe for anybody’s Mom? Do we really have to send the cops, Chester? Are you that big a jerk?

Throughout the entire month of December in our little corner of the Lower Mainland I witnessed only one city snow plow-salter truck. Many concerned citizens manned the shovels keeping the sidewalks along their property clear. Pedestrians then, however had to contend with the streets themselves clogged, icy, rutted, awkward and quite slippery. Many side roads and residential streets are still ice covered and treacherous.
As local bombastic entrepreneur, broadcaster and entertainment magnate Bruce Allen would have said back in our shared music business days: “SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY, SHITTY JOB!!!”
The response by local communities across the region warrants a big fat “F” for both fail and flail. It was a disgrace.

An economist I’m not, but what do you think the negative impact was on local businesses? December is the biggest retail month of the year. The one month when many make or break the entire year. With most curb lanes clogged by mounds of ice and snow and its spilling over onto sidewalks further impeding passersby, how much did free standing Mom and Pop retailers take the hit this past Christmas? Just getting from point A to point B was slowed immeasurably. For a month we got used to the ZZZZZEEEEEE sound as vehicles tried to get up the slight grade of our street.
So here’s the kicker: If local municipalities across the Lower Mainland cannot handle the simple task of snow removal from the streets and sidewalks, how are these same entities of governance going to deal with a sizeable earthquake? We live along “The Ring of Fire,” for cryin’ out loud! Since setting foot in BC almost 40 years ago I’ve been hearing about the so-called “Big One.” You know that massive seismic event that is not a question of if but when it will hit?

Are the local powers that be simply going to wait ‘til it rains and washes the quake away?
God forbid it snows during an earthquake.
Make no mistake. If December 2016 is any indication, when the actual Big One does come we’re all going to be on our own.

P.D. Taylor








How’s that earthquake kit coming along?

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