Feb 2017 02

So, a quick post as I’m procrastinating from my day job.

Like a lot of people, I find I can’t look away from the news these days. But as someone that is skeptical about well, everything (see: MOON LANDING, FAKED), I am trying hard to be my own filter for truth and lies. Which is very tough these days, because you get on your Social Media feeds and as Obi-Wan Kenobi said “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view” – meaning, Social Media is dangerous because we tend to follow people / feeds with points of view that agree with our own. This is dangerous, but, narrowcasting.

So cutting to the chase, when I first read that the POTUS hung up on the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, my hot take was “Wow! POTUS is crazy! How could he do that?”, and certainly anybody hanging up the phone on anyone is pretty childish, but then I wondered… What made him so angry?

I did some quick research.

And let me stress ‘quick’ because there’s only so much you can find out at work in 10 minutes. Fact check this shit. It’s important.

Apparently, there are 1250 refugees in camps in Australia. In November, under the last POTUS, America agreed to take these refugees. And now, the new POTUS is saying “Ya, we’re not doing that”. The important question here is maybe “What are these 1250 refugees even DOING in camps in Australia to begin with?”. Right. Well, it seems that they’re not ‘in’ Australia at all. These camps are on Manus island in Papau New Guinea, run by Australia.

It seems Australia won’t admit these people because they have a strict ‘will not accept’ policy on refugees who arrive to Australia by boat. For life. So you can’t even leave and come back by plane. So all these people came to Australia seeking a new home, can’t get in, and have been in these tent camps with nowhere to go.

Yes, the former POTUS showed compassion and empathy by saying “We’ll take them” (if Australia takes some refugees from Central America), and the new POTUS looks like a big dick. But really, shouldn’t Australia change their immigration policy?

Apparently, the Prime Minister of Australia has taken the position that he will never change the policy because upholding may have been a pillar of his being elected. And the policy is supported by both political parties, and apparently the majority of Australians agree.

Anyone seeking ‘asylum’ in Australia cannot arrive by boat. Period.

Now, I wouldn’t hang up on someone. But really – doesn’t this sound like a ridiculous policy?

Australia, aren’t you better than this?

(AGAIN, FACT CHECK THIS SHIT)

Jan 2017 31

I was listening to 680 news radio here in Toronto this evening. Yes, willingly. Hello? I was driving and gotta know the weather, people. Like, do I fish out some long underwear for tomorrow or not?

Anyhow, one of their news bits illustrated exactly what it is I find fascinating about the country to the south of us. The bit talked about how Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) released their Super Bowl 2017 commercial already. “Born the Hard Way”. (above)

680 described the spot – the story of Adolphus Busch immigrating to America in the 1850’s. It shows the hardship of being an immigrant and not feeling welcome, but following your dream and meeting some friends along the way. It’s the story of how Busch met Anheuser, and the rest is good old ‘Party Time!’ American history, and an example of the American Dream.

The bit on 680 talked about how this is being seen as a direct response to the President’s Executive Orders on immigration and his travel ban this week, although A-B says it is just a coincidence that their spot deals with the American Dream and immigrants.

It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully told, and even if you don’t like beer or Budweiser, you have to take your hat off to an advertiser to use their biggest advertising slot of the year to tell such an emotional story.

But here’s what got me… 680 ended the story by saying “No word yet on a response from Donald Trump, but Anheuser-Busch shares dropped significantly today on the market in anticipation.”

America. You bold experiment of art and commerce. You so crazy.

Jan 2017 29

IMG_6704

 

Nancy and Tommy Kang lived next door. They were Korean.

The Agbuyas lived a few doors up. Filipino.

Both Samir and Paresh down the street were from India.

Blaise was from France.

I dunno where Michael was from, but he was a gorgeous deep shade of chocolate and could hit a baseball right over the fence like none of the rest of us could yet.

David Tse was Chinese and to this day, I will say he drew the best Spider-Man I have ever seen. Jane’s parents were Scottish and she punched some kid in the face who was bugging me.

The twins were from Croatia. Chris was German. Surrinder was from Iran. And me? Me, I was half Japanese-Belizean.

This was my street growing up. It’s only now, looking back and thinking about it that I can even say where my friends were all from. They were just my friends. We all grew up on a street in a townhouse complex in the suburbs of north Toronto, in a little area called Rexdale.

We were all different. So none of us were.

Blaise’s mom would yell out the window for him to come home just like any mom. Tommy’s dad took us fishing, like any dad could’ve. Paresh’s mom made a great birthday cake. Mr. and Mrs. Agbuya exposed us all to ABBA. And we all debated, regardless of background, who we’d rather be – Han Solo or Luke Skywalker.

We all dreamed of getting a new bike, kissing a girl for the first time, and made fun of each other in a no-holds barred democratic way that didn’t see country of origin or skin colour. We celebrated each other’s amazing rock throw, and lamented when one of us got grounded like all of us had been.

I was very lucky to grow up in Rexdale of that time. It exposed me to people, places and cultures that I think gave me an open mind and heart to prepare me for my adult life in today’s Toronto, and Canada.

Right now, people are trying to convince you that being open and welcoming to people from other countries, or who follow ‘other’ religions, is wrong, and they shouldn’t be welcome in America. I don’t know what’s happening down there, or what the future will hold.

But I do believe that we need to hold fast to our own beliefs, and history here in Canada, as a multicultural and welcoming nation.

Like the President of the United States has been championing ‘America First’, indeed we must take this approach as well. Canada First. Canada – our beliefs as a loving, open-minded, and free society must not dim in these times. When the world gets darker, we must shine brightest. And this doesn’t just fall on our government. It falls on each and every one of us. And it doesn’t mean just changing your Facebook profile pic when appropriate.

Let’s spend more of our energy emphasizing what makes us so great, and less time gawking at the circus happening to the south of us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care. Of course we should. There is a serious problem growing, and I have friends in America I’m worried about just like you probably do.

But in this nation’s 150th year, what a great time to show who we are.

We’re a bunch of Belizean-Japanese-Indian-Croatian-Korean-Mexican-Vietnamese-Greek-Italian-Nigerian-Somalian-Pakistani-Irish-German-Ethiopian and World hooligans. Straight, gay, bi, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Catholic, atheist.

We’re a 30 million headed beast. And you mess with one of us, and bub, you gotta mess with my whole street.

 

 

Photo (c) Albert O. Bradley

 

Jan 2017 25

I just got back from my latest funeral. 3rd one in the last week, and I hope it’s the last for awhile. But what an act to follow.

A friend’s, and former boss’s, father. I never met him, but after attending his funeral, I can definitely feel like I knew the man.

90 years old, artist, always wearing a cowboy hat and snake skin boots and sporting a beatnik goatee. Apparently, he marched to the beat of his own drum and encouraged everyone in his life to always do the same. And cracking jokes right til the end.

NURSE: “Are you comfortable?”

SOON TO BE DEPARTED: “I make a good living.”

What an inspiring funeral. I could feel the joy and despair in the room. I certainly will never forget it. Like I said, I never met him, but his spirit echoed through the room and now reverberates in me, too.

I also got to wear my first Kippah, and many people with experience in this said I sported the look quite well.

Score one for life. Your move, death.

Jan 2017 24

Some thoughts on death and stuff to keep the daily writing sort of semi-daily. But really, people seem to be dying a lot the last couple of weeks. I mean, I could be dead right now and not even know it. Please tell me if I am.

Death is circling around me lately. I’ve been to two funerals in the last week and completely unrelated to those, two other friends’ fathers have died during that time as well.

On Friday, I came into the ad agency I’m on contract at right now, all dressed up for one of the funerals later that day, and someone said they were sorry to hear that someone I knew died. Which was appreciated of course. And I should’ve just said “Thank you” and left it at that. But sometimes I just can’t avoid being me. And I said something along the lines of:

“Actually, you know, it’s okay they died. I’m not saying I wanted them dead but this person had a good life. They lived into their mid 80s. They were white, tall, male, and wealthy and lived during a time when all those things gave them a distinct advantage. They got married, had kids, and went before their spouse did. And the world has changed so much that they probably got out before things stopped making sense to them. They got a pretty good deal.”

I’m glad the world has changed from valuing some of the above things of course, but later on at the funeral in church (a rarity for me), while listening to a choir singing (which was actually nice, by the way, other than the whole singing about some invisible dude in the sky) it made me wonder if the above is the purpose of dying, in a way. As much as I’d like to live forever, I started to wonder I’ll get to a point where things just stop making sense. Where regular technology is beyond my understanding. Or my political views aren’t accepted anymore. Or I’m just not open to change anymore. Aside from my body breaking down, I can’t imagine just “being done”, as I’ve heard some older people say they are.

I guess people dying clears the way for new thinking and new ideas.

I’m not done yet. Glad death is just circling me. But it’s a reminder that the people my generation looked up to are starting to leave. And it made me realize we have about 50 years to really get shit done.

What world do we want to make?