Garbage Day: Idiots and the Environment

In particular, those who’ve been long avoided using city-authorized vinyl containers, instead using flimsy plastic bags to put food in so that the birds can rip into them easily and scatter dead matter all over neighborhoods. Ignorant, lazy, cheap, very rude, socially irresponsible and selfish. Care-less of the environment and fellow neighbors.

Animals making food readily available to other animals so that community-minded human beings have to clean up after them. No one should have to clean up another’s ignorantly created messes!

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Greenfield Books, Crescentwood, Winnipeg

Now gone since 2017, Greenfield Books was a charming bookstore in an old house on 217 Academy Rd. It was easy to miss unless you had the address with a somewhat subtle sign beckoning a passerby to a side door up some stairs. When I first went there, I wasn’t sure if I was at the right place.

Michael Park, the intense owner, would greet you when you came in. There was an impressive living room with French doors and hardwood floors which had more serious tomes on big bookshelves and other niches on the first floor crammed with inviting, interesting books. I remember he had a signed Neil Young (and Randy Bachman?) alongside the stairs where you first came in.

One could not help but be impressed by what Michael had done with converting his basement into bookshelves–very clean with a carpet you could kneel on as you looked at poetry or authors’ biography. I bought a fair bit there in my trips after 2000 to present at MB’s teacher conferences. It was always like entering a private domain where books were considered sacred.

In my last trip there around 2010, Michael had greatly changed physically, having lost his hair to alopecia totalis. Although he looked very different, he was still Michael with his great passion for books and book talk. Sadly he passed in 2017 and the Greenfield stock ended up at Bison Books–his other bookstore downtown–run by a former apprentice who later took over complete ownership, and finally, Michael’s treasured Greenfield stock.

Michael had a remarkable life and once owned Edmonton Bookstore before Barbara Ellis took it over. He was a lawyer, a dj, a newspaper editor, and had lived several previous busy lives you can read about online. He has been greatly missed and left his indelible, passionate marks on both the Winnipeg and Edmonton book scenes.

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Teachers’ Smoky Staff Rooms

When I started teaching in 1972, smoking was allowed and pretty much expected in staff rooms. Teachers smoked before classes, between classes, at noon, and after school. Non-smokers were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke if they were coffee drinkers, ate in the staff room, played cards, or hung out there on their spares.

I remember in 1967 when I went to my own high school’s staff room. The door would open and smoke would billow out from the room. Sometimes teachers emerged from the fog or fug; it was that thick.

None of this, naturally, was any good for teachers’ health whether they were smokers or not. I can still remember the majority of teachers being smokers at McNally in 1976-83 and some of the smokers taunting me when I wore G.A.S.P. buttons at staff meetings.

This all changed in the ’80s, with smokers forced outdoors and such things taken for granted as smoking on planes or in restaurants stopping all together. It was a long process and then the packaging on cigarettes and signage everywhere changed, even in university classes.

Yeah, the air was unforgettably foul in most enclosed spaces and your clothes stank with smoke regardless of where you went. During my band years (’73-’75) in Grand Centre-Cold Lake, the bars and halls all smelled like giant ashtrays. It definitely had an effect on my singing and breathing and coming back to live in Edmonton was like de-smoking and drying out. (There was a lot of drinking in those days, particularly if you were in a band. I drank a fair bit of hard liquor like rum, vodka, and rye and if I had stayed up in that area and in the band any longer, I likely would have succumbed to smoke or alcohol long, long ago; such was the lifestyle.)

But there were many innocents who suffered (I owe much of my asthma problems of olde to my parents’ second-hand smoke) and many smokers, especially young people, who were too dumb to give it up. Heavy prices were paid. Eventually, many smokers died off (my parents in ’99 and ’07–they were life-long).

*Today’s blog entry arose from one unforgettable image of smoky staff rooms, as memorable as the old DDT mosquito-fogging machines of Winnipeg in the ’50s-’70s. The sight of a fogging machine in parks was definitely on a par with doors opening to staff rooms. Killing us not-so-softly, as it turns out, indeed.

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Nothing More Beautiful in E-Town in Early August

than the garden-patio out behind the Macdonald Hotel overlooking the river valley. One can still have a nice lunch in the olde Confederation Lounge for the last time this summer or in the Harvest Room or on the covered patio outside. After fabulous service and a scrumptious lunch or barbecue on the terrace patio, one can saunter in the beautiful spaces of the garden area overlooking the river valley. In Edmonton right now, this is simply the best way to spend a lunch-hour.

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Last Lunch @ The Confederation Lounge Today

Will take some pix and walk about the garden outside as usual.
Beginning Jan., updated, the hotel takes the classic lounge apart and puts up a ubiquitous ‘contemporary’ lounge sans soul, character, and history. End of an era forever.

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“The Miles Davis Story” DVD Doc

The perfect 125 min. comprehensive companion to the complete Prestige and Columbia recordings. This video was a labor of love by Mike Dibb who interviewed Miles, many musicians who played with him, family and friends. Some of the players interviewed include his mentor Clark Terry, producer George Avakian, drummer Jimmy Cobb, singer/pianist Shirley Horn, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Jack Dejohnette, Keith Jarret, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Dave Liebman, and Marcus Miller.

There are many representative moments of Miles playing from different phases in his career. All his relationships with women and musicians are tracked. This is the definitive look at the only trumpeter who changed the main directions of jazz after Louis Armstrong. Must-seeing for anyone interested in one of the top two giants of jazz.

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And I remember
running as fast as I could
up the long hill leaving
the others far behind.

Away, away, said a voice.
The wide blue sky is this way
and you have wings to fly
you can feel in your arms.

Ah, the bold rush of youth
when all seems possible,
within close reach.

Only now I recollect
having this dream about
a sun-kissed boy of summer
climbing ever higher till
he was one with the sky.

I go with him still
in my mind’s eye
this dismal morn,
van sitting in a grey lot,

awaiting another’s return
from the tyranny of
appointments and aging.
A boy long flown
in my rear-view mirror.


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With almost half of August gone,

(sorta like Vancouver with steady showers and fog)

Edmonton is still waiting for summer. No two days w/o rain. Very West Coast out there again this morning. 97% humidity! Like a tropical greenhouse outside. Sun supposedly coming out today to hatch some more mosquitoes. Worst-ever summer tied with last year’s smoked-out affair. Yesterday felt like a lousy September day.

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3 Gobsmackeds

1. This morning, the experienced traffic tv newscaster said “expecially”, catching me off-guard. I didn’t know she had it in her.

2. Setting off a memory of an English teachers’ conference at a round-table meal during which a newbie said “eck-cetera” and all the other experienced teachers looked aghast at one another.

3. Boy were my wife and I surprised in a seminal 1969-70 CanLit course when the old school prof ended his class on Leonard Cohen by playing his “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” on record: “I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me”. It’s a spoof of the conventional mournful love ballad with Cohen’s voice singing off-key at the end, disappearing into a final abruptly cut-off strangled cry. Very funny and fun to have been there to hear that played for senior English students on a small still-conservative city campus by a middle-aged prof who had taught Margaret Laurence and known many other early Canadian writers of old.

(the all-purpose 1966 ‘bible’ textbook we used that year featuring writers from the 18th century up to Leonard Cohen and Gwendolyn MacEwen)

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One busy day after another.

Last ever garage sale yesterday. Then over to sit the two amazing grandsons. The old favourites still work like hunkering down together in a Richard Scarry classic, A Day at the Airport. They enjoy all the sub-stories and crazy goings-on. The pic captures a civilized oasis of domesticity, centered on pleasurable reading and including Bichon-Shitzu on her preferred perch by the window.

2 more:

(Note the heart sticker the younger grandson stuck on my top. He missed.)

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