Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Sad day. Leonard Cohen has passed Poet, novelist, singer, songwriter and one of the five strongest influences on whatever kind of art that it is I do. 
When I first heard The Songs of Leonard Cohen I was in my early teens. It was not just a revelation to me, it was like a gunshot to the temple. He was one of those artists who opened my mind to possibilities. His words spoke of worlds and experiences entirely new to me but in the way that only poetry and music can, made me instantly part of. 
There was also that beautiful turn of phrase.

"Oh I want you I want you I want you, on a chair with a dead magazine, in the cave on the tip of the lilly, in some hallway where love's never been, on a bed where the moon has been sweating, in a cry filled with footsteps and sand"
Anyone who suffered through the poetry I wrote in my 20's will see the clear connection there.

Collette and I got to see Leonard a couple of times. Most recently was just a few years ago, he had just turned 80 Honestly, one of the best concerts I've ever seen. You could joke that his voice had faded but how could you tell ... But the passion he had for his music was powerful as was his passion to share it with us. Self effacing and with a wit sharper than any knife I've ever owned, his performance was about giving where so many artists today seemed focussed on receiving
Bob Dylan was the first songwriter to receive a Nobel Prize. I'm not going to quibble about that But I told someone that Leonard should be next; who else in music could combine the profane with the spiritual, the street with the cathedral, love with sex, history with the present, memory with calculation

"Ah we're drinking and we're dancing, and the band is really happening, and the Johnny Walker wisdom running high, and my very sweet companion, she's the angel of compassion, she's rubbing half the world against her thigh"
He just released a new recording. I know that in recent years he's been hurting financially due to the actions of an untrustworthy accountant. That last concert we saw was, admitted by Leonard, a way to pay the rent. Perhaps this recording is as well. Well, I'm happy to be the landlord

"Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone, they were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on, and they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song"
Go on now Leonard. The Sisters of Mercy are waiting for you. They're singing Hallelujah.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


So a Canadian Native activist and architect is going to court today to prevent the Cleveland Indians from using that name and their logo when they play the Jays tonight. Normally this sort of thing would go through Canada's Human Rights Commission where it would actually have a high degree of potential success. But that takes time. And it would not make headlines in the US. So it seems he is doing this to bring awareness to his concern: That this baseball team's name and logo (and god it's a horrible carcature) are offensive to Native peoples Well, one cannot argue against that. And awareness is always a good thing, understanding a different perspective is how we learn and educate ourselves and how we learn about others. So the publicity is not a bad thing
But what if he's successful? What if, suddenly, the Cleveland Indians, a privately owned and controlled company, is told that they cannot use any of their trademark items. Apparently they do have uniforms free of these logos. If they heard the concern of Canadian people and decided to wear those uniforms during this series that would go a long way to building good will
But if they are forced to do it? And what if they resent the legal system of another country trying to tell them how to run their business. What the affect be on this series, for which thousands of fans are waiting to participate
Educating me, showing me a different perspective, letting me know how you are affected by something, that is incredibly positive and how we evolve as culture. But making these decisions for me, using a legal system to tell how to think about something, well that is Political Correctness. When you try to take away my choices, my choices about how I feel about and view anything, well sir, even if I agree with your point of view (and in this case I do) you are impinging on my freedom of thought And is that a road any of us want to go down

The above was posted to my Facebook account a couple of days ago, the morning the legal action was going to be introduced

It failed. I don't think anyone, including the claimant, expected it to succeed. What he wanted, I'm assuming, is to create dialogue. And that he did. People were talking about it. But they weren't talking about objectification and racism and marginalising an entire people in the name of sport, they were angry. Angry that someone wanted to use the legal system to impose their perspective upon everyone else
To force that perspective. And no matter the perspective, that pisses people off That is the danger of Political Correctness
You want to engage people, to educate them, to let them see your point of view. I may never share that point of view but if I hear about it in a reasoned and rational manner, I can at least respect it. But if you try to impose it on me, if you take away my choice to even disagree, well we are gunna have issues
This is a real issue. For people of my generation we grew up with the term Indians referring to Native North Americans. Of course it's wrong, it's a mis representation. But for us old folks it's subtle. That Indians logo though, you don't need to be particularly Culturally Sensitive to just want to cringe

Seriously, why on earth would this time fight to hang on to that thing? Perhaps with the name you could argue about legacy etc etc but that thing? Give your ignorant heads a shake

Other US sports teams seem to have gotten the message. The Chicago Blackhawks for instance. Without a court injunction from a foreign country The Natives in their area objected to the team's logo

Compared to the Indians logo I find this as progressive as Andy Warhol but it's not my perspective is it. I'm not the one who may feel objectified or disrespected. Do I need to totally understand that perspective? Probably not, perhaps that's impossible, but I can respect it. But I won't respect it if I feel something is forced upon me

At any rate, the Blackhawks engaged in the dialogue and had a Native artist come up with a new version of the logo

This version makes me see how insulting that old logo may have been. And damn, it's just pretty

The Florida Seminoles college football team went through a similar transformation

So there is a precedent and I'm not sure why Cleveland is not jumping in. But that is their business. And it is the business, or concern of Native people to try to change that perspective. I hope that they do. Someone wants me to sign some kind of petition beseeching the Cleveland Indians to move into the 21st century? I'll sign up

But ask me. Don't force me. Forcing people to change their cultural perspective was wrong when white Europeans did it to the Natives and its wrong now

Monday, October 17, 2016


We give our Thanks

We give our Thanks for huge bright skies and deep dark water and humpback trees swaying in the wind

We give Thanks for water still as glass wreathed with early morning mist that dances to a tune you can early hear when you are very still and you close your eyes and you let the wind stir in your hair

We are Thankful for bright cool mornings and water spraying over a bow and friends and family uniting to come together

Thanks for this opportunity to meet and greet and eat and just enjoy the sun and water and each other

We our Thankful for an excuse to come together, for which we really need no excuse but sometimes require impetus. The motivation becomes irrelevant as we share food and drink and smiles as bright as the day

The wind changes, feathering the deep dark water, the sky darkens and the sun catches on the sharp barbs of the electric green trees Home we go across the water As the day ends we remain thankful, we carry the day and the smiles in our memory We carry the memories in our heart

For all of this we are Thankful. For this day and all others that follow

Thanksgiving Georgian Bay from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Friday, September 30, 2016


Who would think that this year I would be writing my third post about the National Anthem

But this is a good thing. The anthem has been around for over one hundred years and during that time people really haven't thought much about it, beyond Oh crap they're playing that song and I have to put down my beer and stand up

Or: They're playing that song I will make my uniform secure and salute and remind myself why I serve

Some people want to update the anthem by changing the gender preferences in the lyrics. Some people wonder why a deity is mentioned, a very specific deity, a deity who's name was often invoked to justify the violation of the civil and human rights of the people who actually "founded" this country and people who are never mentioned in the anthem

No matter whether you agree or disagree with these sentiments it seems that for many people, this anthem is not just outdated, it may not be significant or representative or relevant

An anthem of a slightly less ponderous began with Canadian singer Nelly Furtado. At a sporting event, Nelly changed the anthem's arrangement, to suit her voice and to suit her singing style. And that style is more 21st century than 17th century. In essence she was trying to make the anthem relevant

Oh golly gee wiz I guess we can't have that. Nelly pissed off a lot of people "It's the anthem,  you can't change the anthem that's unpatriotic" Usually intoned by people who never gave much thought to the anthem, to what it means and what its intent may be

A knee jerk reaction: Someone taught these people that the anthem was something sacred, something inviolate, something that, well, we should worship

Tsk tsk. Whenever someone tells you to accept something without thinking about it, check your wallet and check your freedom

The other night at the World Cup of Hockey, Ontario band Walk Off the World stepped into Nelly's high heels and sang their own version of the anthem. It was a folksy, roots, acoustic version; leaving the lyrics intact but giving the funeral dirge a more organic, approachable singalong sort of vibe

In an earlier post I suggested this very thing. Canada has an inordinate number of skilled, talented, passionate musicians. Musicians. People who understand music, who understand its impact, who know how to use music to invoke emotions, who understand that music can make us think, cry, get horny or feel like hugging the person next to us .. in a totally nonhorny way. Usually

Moving on

I think this just makes total sense. If the anthem is the music of a country then it is indeed a thing, something obdurate and implacable and unchangeable. But that makes it something that becomes inaccessible by most of us, and yes something irrelevant

But if the anthem is our song, the song of the people, then let the people have a say in it. Let musicians interpret it, adapt it, transform it. Let these musicians do what they do, use music to invoke, move, bond. Music is something we all love to share. So let's share this piece of music, let's use it the way it should be used; not as a monument but as an actual song

We sing songs, we play them, we share them, we discuss them. That's how you make the anthem inclusive. By making it something organic and fluid and perhaps even something we learn to anticipate. "Hey did you hear, the anthem tonight is going to be played by Spit In Your Eye. I want to hear that and don't forget to bring a rain coat"

The lyrics are one thing and I'm not sure I actually care. But having musicians interpret the song, make it relevant and .. gasp .. make it something you'd actually want to sing? Count me in

Is Walter Ostenak still alive? I can't wait to hear his polka version

Sunday, September 18, 2016


"We don't go the Ex, there's really not much to do there"

An oft heard refrain. True, if you are ride monster you won't find much at the CNE to entertain you. You go to Wonderland. I enjoy rides but I need more than that so for me, Canada's Wonderland gets real old real fast

To each their own as long as my own gets done first. Sez I

But anyway ... Collette and I decided this year to take advantage as much as we could of all the things you can do at the Ex beyond the midway and eating deep fried marshmallow-cockroach-peanut butter-trout lungs

I've already posted about the Air Show and Konterschwung but as they say on late night TV .. Wait! We're not done yet!

The last time the CNE hosted a water ski show was four years ago and we were there. The premise was the same, water skit stunts based on a loose comedic script about "skiologists" who design wacky water apparatus

What was new this year was something that barely existed four years ago: The flyboard.

A skiologist would pop up and now again, clothed in a white lab coat showing us that their phDs should be called into question

There were many conventional thrills as well, male skiers whose motto seemed to be "ramp, what ramp" and ...

... and females who perfectly demonstrated the beauty of strength and the strength in beauty

From the water we went to the land, and to a group of young men who seemed to hate the land, they spent so much time trying to jump off to it. That would the extreme pogo demonstration

So the pogo guys thought they could fly and they used their little custom machines to achieve that. We saw a show that featured another group of people who think they can fly and to assist them, they use whatever is at hand in their environment. That's not a bad definition of parkour, or free running.

We saw this group last year when they did a show loosely based on some fictional scene, this year it was billed as a competition between teams of two but really, it was just an excuse to have forerunners do what forerunners do.

So yeh, not much to do at the Ex. And the video? Yeh, nothing much going on there either

Canadian National Exhibition Highlights from Victor Kellar on Vimeo
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