Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Grew up in Hong Kong with her mother, father and step brother. It turned out that her father had another secret family and resented her brother (from her mother's first husband). As she wrote this book she lived with her mother and regularly visited her father who suffered from dementia.
Part of her education was at my alma mater, University of Guelph which attracted her attention for its sculpture program which had also attracted one of my room mates. Earlier she was at Jarvis Collegiate.
Married and had two step children. She got along with Jack's ex wife, Sally, attending each other's weddings with Olivia being the photographer at Sally's. They also spent Hallowe'en and Christmas Eve and Christmas mornings at Sally's.
Her wedding to Jack took place in 1988. One of his presents to her was bicycle built for two which was used a lot. The entertainment was provided by local bands including the Parachute club which had a big hit, "Rise Up" which has become an anthem of lesbians.
Olivia made a conscious decision not to have children. She involved herself with the raising of her two step children. She wanted to devote her time and energy to activist causes.
Her focus has been on children. She quotes from UN World Summit for Children: "The growing minds and bodies of children should have first call on society's capacities and...children should be able to depend upon that commitment in good times and bad." The first six years of life are critical and require nutrition and stimulation Olivia promoted school lunches, dental care, library programs and also was concerned about care for new mothers. She ends her story with concerns for her new grandchildren and extending again to all children.
One of her earliest causes was working with the Vietnamese boat people which led to her working with councilor Dan Heap. Many of the Vietnamese ended up in Hamilton and I have enjoyed dealing with them and eating some of their food. A few years later Olivia worked with refugees from Chile and El Salvador as America refused to protect those fleeing in many cases death squads. One of the Chilean refugees worked at a newspaper where I worked. He had been a journalist in Chile, but here he started out as a classifieds manager. About two years ago I met the son of El Salvador immigrants in Montreal and he went onto marry my niece in a wonderful multi cultural event.
As an outsider I have watched and listened to John Tory and he seems an honorable and competent mayor, but I feel Toronto lost something by not electing her. Although at one time leading in the polls she had at least three strikes against her. First as a woman. Second as Chinese and probably most devastating as a Socialist.
Her first elected position was as a school trustee although she had no children of her own. One of her concerns was to develop heritage languages. She helped bring in programs to temper homophobia ,bringing in students to testify. She realized dental care for poor children had an effect on confidence. She also campaigned for more affordable child care.
As a city councillor she ran into conflict with the police union, particularly as they were supported by the Mike Harris, law and order provincial government. Police were not supposed to be involved in political decisions, but had been trying to publicize candidates that favored law and order policies.
For Canada Reads 2005 she championed a book by Margaret Atwood, "Oryx and Crak." She made it to the final, but lost to Donna Morrisey.
Both she and Jack had been elected to the House of Commons. One event that has struck me as unfortunate is explained. In one election Jack found himself in a position to help organize a coalition to take over the Conservative government. To prevent the decisive vote on the matter, Stephen Harper pro-rogued Parliament which in essence meant votes were suspended. Harper than went to the Governor-General who agreed. In the meantime Harper added some stimulus measures to the budget there were enough to win over the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff. That was perhaps Ignatieff's (a man I admire) biggest mistake and we launched into years of a Stephen Harper administration.
Ill treatment of the Chinese was another cause. The Chinese had been instrumental in building the Canadian Pacific Railway that united Canada. Many of the labourers returned to China, but some wanted to come to Canada and bring their wives and families. A head tax was imposed and it was calculated to be $23 million dollars (equivalent to a much larger amount in today's dollars). In 1923 immigration was stopped completely from China. In 1947 after many Chinese fought for Canada in World War II immigration was legal again. Several governments had an opportunity to legislate some sort of restitution, but never got around to it. Olivia was part of a group that got a token amount of money for the few survivors of the head tax and most important to have Stephen Harper officially apologize.
As socialists are often accused of being spendthrifts, Olivia made a point of getting involved with the budget process. With all her many proposals for progressive change she included the process for obtaining funds to pay for it. She was against across the board cuts as they too often punished those who had managed funds more carefully. She was also careful to protect budgets that effected the most vulnerable, children, elderly and disabled. She was very critical of a computer leasing deal made by the City of Toronto as it ended up costing much more than it needed to. A big part of the problem was that the process was not transparent.
She and Jack had an interesting strategy when invited to political events. They felt they could have more influence if they sat separately. Most of us have a tendency to sit with people we feel most comfortable with, but they felt it was better to meet a wider range of people. Often enough they would be invited to more than one event in which case they would cover two separately.
At age 61 Jack had a re-ocurrence of cancer and died in 2011. Stephen Harper agreed to a state funeral. He had discussed funeral arrangements with Olivia and one incidence got my attention. He wanted different faiths allowed to speak and when it came to the Muslim faith he thought that a particular mosque should be contacted, but Olivia intervened to point he was close to Tasleen Ruez. Mike had wanted to respect Muslim tradition which meant it would have to be a male. Olivia suggested this would be a good time to let a female speak. And she did. My sister, a Muslim was allowed to speak at another sister's wedding in a church. Lorraine Segato of the Parachute Club sang at the funeral.
A number of commemorative items were created. Olivia, as a sculpter helped develop Jack's smile for one bust. One that is talked about was a statue of Jack on a tandem bike with one seat vacant.
For Olivia giving a dying person some comfort and dignity was a high priority. Jack was given palliative care and taken to his home where flowers had been planted that he could see from a bedroom window. Olivia feels palliative care is an important part of medical care.
She credits Lawrence Scanlan with getting her started with this book. I met Lawrence at a Monty Roberts demonstration. Lawrence had written the introduction to Monty's book "The Man who Listens to Horses." Later corresponded with him and received a rough draft of a book on the Canadian horse breed while Lawrence was taking riding lessons.
In conclusion Olivia achieved many important things on her own, but as part of the Layton team gave Canada immeasurable benefits. Another example of an immigrant enriching Canada.
Monday, April 27, 2020
After awhile you realize that there is more to life than spending (almost) all your time at home. I spend a lot of time thinking about places I have visited to make a living and to live and am grateful I have those memories. My adopted home town has a lot to offer and walking around my appreciation for it has been enriching.
To the left is a large wall design on James St N. that is my basic concept.
We are told to maintain a 2 metre distance from other people which can be difficult. I have done some shopping where we are lined up about 2 metres apart, but we all are looking for many of the same items. Retailers need to protect themselves while trying to retain some cash flow and have been adjusting procedures for what they offer. Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian is much lighter than normal. I notice more jaywalking and walking against red lights and I pleed guilty. Most people respect others and will cross to the other side of the street or wait til someone has cleared an intersection or narrow stretch. The video link below was first brought to my attention by Cameron Kroetsch who also presented a petition to close some streets to vehicles to make it easier. for pedestrians to maintain distancing. He used example of Hamilton's Super Crawl that established protocols for redirecting traffice. Check out the video that hi-lites the difficulty of maintaining 2 metres.
After visitors to Hamilton could see Copps Coliseum. I call it "Copps" as he is the one responsible for getting it built in Hamilton. I remember Victor Copps because he once approached me at a literary celebration to give me a lead for a research project that resulted in me getting a press pass to the Olympic qualifying basketball tournament held at McMaster University. Unfortunately cities can only stretch tax dollars so far.
Just next to Copps is the Hamilton Farmer's Market (one of a few others) attached to Jackson Square. It has been a regular stop each week.
Donald Trump is becoming nauseating for me. Why has nobody taken steps to remove him from office? He is a threat to the nation and it should have been apparent for years. He has become an obsession for rational people (like me?) and a king for others.
Bank of Montreal Building next to the Pigott Building.
At the corner of Mulberry and James is a coffee shop and numerous art studios.
The building on the right used to be owned by the Orange Lodge who left some symbolic frescoes of King Billy. Since then the Vasco da Gama Football Club took over and it also houses some artists.
A building on King St E. that used to house Forbidden City, Chinese restaurant. Built in 1893.
To the far left side you can barely see the top of a castle which is actually attached to One Duke St. Recently I went to the next street over and took a photo of the rear side of the castle.
Trocadero Tavern was apparently once used for one of the Godfather movies.
A Mexican restaurant that carries Halal was a favorite place to take my sister from Montreal.
Across from the jail.
The plaque on the right honors Dave Hanley, a culinary leader and is across from the high end restaurants on King William St
Once enjoyed a Fado Night at Ventura's. Recently the owner decided to retire and sold to another restaurant, Rapscallions, but they haven't had a chance to set up just yet.
With the library closed I am renewed my interest in ebooks and the library has promoted some interesting choices.
Recently finished "Funny you don't look autistic" that not only boosted my understanding of autism, but as a Canadian story contained a few commonalities. Read more: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/funny-you-dont-look-autistic.html
They declared, "Moon Over Crusted Snow" as their Hamilton Reads selection for 2020 and made ebook copies readily available. Read my review: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/hamilton-reads-2020-moon-over-crusted.html
Links to other Covid-19 posts.
Nobody knows exactly how long the shutdown will last or what exactly the next steps are, so I will be looking for more things to fill my time and hopefully encounter things and experiences to enrich my life. Spring is a time of hope. I have many other photos and stories, but will save them for another post.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
The author Waubegeshig Rice has written short stories and a previous novel. He works as a journalist for the C.B.C. out of Sudbury. He credits Richard Wagamese with encouraging his writing. Richard's book "Indian Horse" had been a Canada Reads selection and later was the 2017 One Book, One Burlington selection of the Burlington Public Library where I read it a second time. Check it out: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/09/indian-horse-by-richard-wagamese.html
The story is located in a vague fictional area that seems to be in northern Ontario in a reserve north of any cities. Trying to understand a little better, researched a bit about the Anishinaabe nation which I learned is actually a group sharing language and culture, but spread over Canada and the United States around the Great Lakes.
"Onaabenii Giizis" is the Objiway translation of the title. It refers to a season that could be either in late March or early April when the snow is crusted, perhaps because of freezing an earlier melting. Usually spring is not too long to wait.
Like all native North Americans the Anishinaabe are caught up in a modern European culture, but retaining some of their traditional culture.
We are introduced to Evan Whitesky as he has just killed a moose and is preparing it. We are conscious that he is trying to live more in his traditional Anishinaabe ways, but is comfortable with modern Western ways. Learning Objiway words. We learn his wife is Nicole and his son, Maiingan and daughter Nangohns. We later meet his father, mother and brother.
Modern technology with cell phones, internet, electricity, grocery store, etc.s are integral to their way of life to the point that traditional methods have slid. Evan has many traditional survival skills, but many of his fellow tribesmen have slacked off.
Near the beginning there seems to be a power failure, but they are not uncommon. Even a day or two doesn't seem worrisome. But before too long there is an awareness that the power failure is almost complete except for a generator. Worse, they have no communication with any other group of people. There is essentially no communication with the outside world until a few native students return and are followed by some white men and one woman we are introduced to. They report not only a power failure but chaos. Their own society starts to crack under stresses regarding food supply and distribution. People die through natural causes, freezing, violence and suicide.
The ending is ambiguous. We never learn what caused the disaster (could be nuclear, computer attack on electric grid, maybe even a pandemic). In the epilogue Evan's wife and children are leaving their house along with his parents to seek another location with the children looking forward to seeing their father. This might be interpreted that life is unpredictable and we need to follow what we know and seek something better.
Science has presented many scenarios where traditional life is wiped out and the survivors have to adjust to a new way of life. An isolated Indian reserve serves as survivors of a global disaster and if they can fall back on traditional skills perhaps supplemented by what worthwhile is retained from the "modern" culture.
A tradition from European cultures is the use of fables to make a point. The natives also had their own fables to make points.
Alcohol history is recounted at the tribal level. At a past point it had been totally banned after a number of murders and suicides but over time, although the law was retained it was not enforced and many natives were at least social drinkers. In the end one of the white intruders is thought to have used alcohol to encourage behavior beneficial to him. The "whites" are mostly the intruders and they are mostly a bad influence. The only redeeming white character is a white wife of an intruder who appears upset with her husband's actions and at a critical point does her own decisive action.
I see this book as thought provoking. Modern western society has become so consumer and pleasure oriented that we all have forgotten how to make good long term decisions. The author seems conscious that natives have been seduced or beaten into giving up traditions and skills that were vital in the past and could be in the future. The rest of us, especially from colonial powers are not only negligent in our own outlooks, but guilty of dragging others down with us.
Friday, April 24, 2020
There have been a few serious movies about homosexuality, such as "My Brother...Nikhil" (2005) but a little humor often softens the hatred and anxiety more effectively.
"Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" (2019) received a relatively low rating, partly, I think because of the subject matter, but the subject matter made it more interesting. If you were unsuspecting they take awhile to alert you to the main theme, that of a lesbian couple trying to join together despite family interference. We are sidetracked a little with a possible suitor, an unsuccessful playwright who gets dragged into the heroine's struggle. We learn that he fails at trying to create fictional romances, but does have talent for what he really believes in. Eventually the two lesbian lovers are accepted by her family and we assume they continue in their relationship.
"Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan" (2020) is pretty open from the beginning that the two gay friends are lovers. The one has a father who is very upset about the relationship, but at the time is enmeshed in some wedding problems involving a niece. Some of the younger people are supportive of the relationship. An arrangement has been made for a bride for one of the two gay men and surprisingly she was pleased to learn of his sexual preference as she wanted to marry a man of a different caste not approved of by her parents. She suggested the marriage would be a fake and the two could live with their preferred partners. After lots of feuding and misunderstandings everyone comes to accept the relationship.
A key to understanding such films is with the background of the film makers.
The title "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" I understand translates to "How I felt when I first saw her." It relates to the notion that normally when a boy first sees the girl that he loves, his body reacts in a unique way. For most of us in real or reel life this is understandable and normal. But some people and not all that uncommon feel the same way when they see someone of their own sex that they love.
P.G. Wodehouse is credited with inspiring the movie. Only vaguely familiar with him, but my guess is that the mechanism in the story of a play within a play has something to do with it. To change people's minds about other people it is often suggested you should walk in their shoes. In this movie a play is presented to demonstrate how "normal" feelings can be different, but "normal" for them. In the movie a play is presented that at first seems like a traditional romance, but before too long the focus changes and many in the audience feel uncomfortable and some start to leave in disgust. Others remain, some may even identify with some of the emotions presented and others seem open, perhaps recognizing behavior of someone they know. In reality it doesn't usually convert a lot of people immediately, but it does open up minds.
Shelly Chopra Dhar was the director and co-writer in her first film. She was associated with a very popular tv talk show, "The Kapil Sharma Show" that hosted many Bollywood celebrities, including from both films.
Gazal Dhaliwal was a co-writer, responsible for developing the story and dialogue. She wrote dialogue for "Lipstick Under my Burkha." (2016) that dealt with gender inequality. In "Qarib Qarib Singille" (2017) with Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thiruvothu, a Malayalam actress. I mention Parvathy because she was the female lead in my second favorite movie of last year "Uyare" was about a woman wanting to be an airline pilot and had a concern about men throwing acid on women for revenge. Check it out, it is a better movie than either of the two hi-lited in this post: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/08/uyare-unexpected-gem.html
Anil Kapoor played a wealthy widower father, upset when he realizes his daughter loves another woman. The climax of the movie comes when he accepts his daughter's choice. Anil has over 100 films to his credit including some Americans might be familiar with: "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008) and "24" (2010). He has also been a producer including "Gandhi, My Father." (2007). According to the director he was the most enthused about the film.
Sonam Kapoor, Anil's real daughter plays the lesbian daughter and has been accused of not being a good actress, but to my mind she does a credible job and was a big hit with "Neerja" (2016) about the stewardess who thwarted an airplane terrorist act.
Rajkummar Rao is a very busy actor in demand and a big award winner. He plays the unsuccessful playwright who finally achieves success when he writes a play he really feels. Some of his successful films are: "Queen" (2013), "Kai Po Che" (2013), "Newton" (2017) and "Bareilly Ki Barfi" (2017 with Ayushmann Khurrana).
Juhi Chawla was a key reason why I watched "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" despite its low rating. She used to be a very big star twenty years ago and I would say has aged well. She was a leading lady for the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, but afterwards she veered off comedy roles (not entirely) such as "My brother...Nikhil" (2005) in which she played the sister that supported her brother who developed AIDS. Later as a producer, she was involved with "I Am" that included a segment on a gay victim. In this movie she plays a comedic character, but one who helps support Sonam playing the lesbian daughter.
The director/writer Hitesh Kewalya of "Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan" had earlier written and won awards for "Shubh Mangal Saavdhan" (2017) about a man with erectile dysfunction. Before that he had written for a tv series and short movies.
Ayushmann Khurrana, the big name star, has a history of movies with social themes. In this movie he plays the gay man trying to win over the father of his lover. His first feature was "Vicky Donor" (2012) that was mostly humorous, but dealt with infertility in a moving manner. Recently that movie was remade in Tamil with less humor and was effective. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/vicky-donor-cf-dharala-prabhu.html which also links to more Ayushmann movie blog posts. Ayushmann gravitated to movies with social concerns such as "Dum Laga Ke Haisha" (2015) about a romance with an overweight leading lady and "Badhaai Ho" (2018) about sex with "elderly" parents and "Article 15" (2019) which was deadly serious about caste discrimination.
"Jitendra Kumar played the gay with the father. He had leading roles in a number of successful tv series.
Gajiraj Rao, played the disapproving father. He played Ayushmann's father in "Badhaai Ho" who got the mother (played by Neena Gupta who also played his wife in "Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan"pregnant in their late 40's for which they both won awards.. He also played in the very highly rated "Talvar" (2015).
For many years, Bollywood male leads would never kiss on the mouth (called liplock) the leading ladies. That has broken down and is very common and some movies are very suggestive. For "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Ko Aisa Laga" the two female lovers hugged a lot, but never actually kissed on the lips. In Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan" the two men had prolonged kisses that shocked onlookers.
I would agree that neither film exhibited the highest professional standards, but were enjoyable. Humor will probably have a more positive effect as viewers learn gays and lesbians are not a whole lot different than the rest of us.
Movies have been bolded that I have actually seen to indicate an appreciation of the talents involved.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Peter has set a good example of how to live a green lifestyle--note his Green House. He has solar panels on his roof and rain barrels in his back yard. This year he was giving out bird houses, and seed packets of arugula, sunflower (for pollinating), garlic, peas and anise.
Peter lives in a neighborhood that has become one of my favorites for taking photos. Here are a few.
Living near Hamilton Harbour I have taken some other favorite photos.
This is of metal sculpture done a few years ago by a team, Dam de Nogales. Veronica is from Barcelona, Spain and Edwin is from Hamilton, Ontario. They do sculptures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Parkette for a Peace Garden
Swan in Hamilton Harbour.
Pathway off Bay St to Hamilton Harbour.
Check on previous walk with more local photos: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/more-walks-and-musings-from-covid-10.html
Connect to other walks with more photos: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/the-shutdown-continues.html
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Mankind has battled hard to carve out a modern lifestyle. We need to pay attention to nature as it has its own way of re balancing.
Until I was about 24 I looked down upon the city that I have lived in for over half of my life. Read about the background and my conversion. http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/09/hamilton-ontario-was-not-my-first-choice.html
Working I spent a lot of time in many different cities and so except by car I didn't walk too much except downtown around my home. Now I have been checking out wherever I can walk. Walking helps clarify thinking. Beauty is waiting to be seen.
This house is where I first boarded in Hamilton. To park I had to drive through an alleyway behind the house.
This stone tells a story about how some vacant land was turned into a Parkette with a garden arranged by the local Chinese community. There are displays with markers in over ten languages.
Heard story on radio about elephants in Thailand. They are not directly in danger of Covid 19, but impacted indirectly. These ones are used to attract tourists, but now there are no tourists. The elephants have to be fed and tended to, but there is no money. They cannot be free to the wilds as they have been domesticated. More locally heard of a family zoo who counted on two big months in the summer to earn enough money to feed the animals all year. Only a year or two ago, my son Michael and his girl friend Haley were in Laos and each took an elephant ride.
An artist I discovered on one of the Art Crawls was Lester Colomo. He has done a number of murals around town and also out of town. One was for a restaurant in Kitchener where I had a memorable experience being rewarded for reaching a newspaper circulation goal.
This first example is for a restaurant that had the approach that many couples and families have one person who is vegan and it is very difficult to find a place where they can all eat. Unfortunately the Vegan and the Butcher closed awhile back.
The vanity of one man Donald Trump is hard to comprehend. Actually such people exist but most people do not vote for them. There was plenty of evidence he was not fit before the election. I have detested this man long before he was elected and can only hope that some of ill informed supporters finally see the light. Earlier thoughts: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/07/trump-enablers.html
Palliative care is being neglected. Many victims are suffering away from their families, but hopefully our collective experiences will make changes for the future. Sarah Palin many years ago created a stupid reaction to palliative measures in proposed Medicare. In fact she represented the true death panels which were the profit oriented insurance companies
One of many home made signs supporting front line workers.
Two choices for takeout--Portuguese chicken (with poutine) and Ukrainian pierogies. We love restaurants and are afraid they might not all survive. Both on James St N.
What will happen after it all settles down? Nobody knows, but Gwynne Dyer had a few observations. We know more people can work at home and the trend is likely to continue. As many stores are closed people are discovering the advantages of online buying. In many cities people are noticing the air is way cleaner and the contrast is likely to spur future efforts.
We live only a very few blocks from both the Hamilton General Hospital (with a landing spot for emergency helicopters) and the Hamilton Jail. Both on Barton St.
Perhaps you have interesting places near where you live? I will continue to explore and welcome the results of your explorations. Not sure what the new normal will bring, but determined to make the most of it.