RIP – David Robert Jones

I found out that David Bowie had passed away at around 6 am this morning. I don’t think a celebrities passing has hit me that hard since John Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota in New York in 1980. David Bowie came from the area I grew up in, namely Bromley in Kent. In fact he went to my younger brothers school Ravenswood around 20 years earlier than my brother. He was a big part of my early teenage years. I lost my virginity in the wee hours many years ago, at a party in Dulwich, South London with “Drive in Saturday” playing over and over on a record player in the background. Whenever I have heard that tune since it always makes me smile.
I saw Bowie live twice, first time at Hammersmith Odeon when he famously retired “Ziggy Stardust” in 1973. Footage of that show can be seen in his film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. My buddy Steve Colley (may he also rest in peace) attended that concert with me, he had the full on bright orange hair spiked at the front and long at the back, he was a Bowie fanatic. The second time was at the Vancouver Coliseum in the mid-nineties. Both concerts were brilliant Bowie was an excellent live performer and showman.

I was never a massive fan, but I respected him and his music. Space Oddity is probably one of my all time favorite tunes. As I write this I am listening to his catalog the first time I have done so in years.

Strange that his passing hit me so hard earlier. Maybe because it was so unexpected, he kept his illness (liver cancer) very quiet. Also I suppose it is another knock on the door of my own mortality.

RIP – David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)


2016 Mayors New Years Levee – VFAN Style

I attended the New Year’s levee Sunday at Georgian Manor Resort (or whatever that hotel is calling itself these days). I have a few observations and comments below:

1. Mayor Cooper almost broke a hip trying to avoid saying hello to me again. It’s really funny because I do it on purpose whenever I am at these types of functions. I walk directly towards her with a big smile on my face and she thinks it’s someone that she knows, then she realizes it’s me, spins around and runs off in the opposite direction.

2. I’m not sure if it’s me imagining things, but the town crier’s uniform seems to get more and more ostentatious with more medals and sashes every time I see him. Nowadays he would look right at home sitting at the head of one of those juntas in a tin pot failed state in South America somewhere.

3. I was glad to see Nick Brindisi was awarded the order of Collingwood. He is a tireless volunteer, always doing some kind of ridiculous 200km run up and down mountains for charity somewhere, good for you Nick. Incidentally on another note Nick is a way better volunteer and marathon runner than he is soccer player. Imagine someone with two left feet and their soccer cleats tied together and that will give you a good mental picture of Nicks soccer playing skills.

4. Ditto Kevin Hamlin (not the soccer playing). I wrote a blog just before Christmas about the CCI music program here: That is Mr. Hamlin driving that bus, I know if my kids are coming home whining about someone, especially a teacher that teacher is doing something right. Good for you Kevin well deserved.

5. Oh now I think of it I thought it was only me that gets all choked up when talking about my long passed parents. Very touching moment during Nicks acceptance speech.

6. Back to Mayor Cooper. I would have thought that after 5 years in the mayors chair, that she would have bacame a little more comfortable with her public speaking. But alas no, she still comes across as wooden, forced and completely uncomfortable in her own skin. The thought of her representing our town across this province really does make me wince.

7. Why is it that every time I meet Cam Ecclestone it’s like the first time I have ever met him? Reminds me of the movie “Groundhog Day”. Apparently I am not alone in this phenomenon. Someone told me that apparently at one of the shindig’s around Christmas time he introduced himself to Kevin Lloyd.

8. I look forward to Ian Chadwick’s column and review of this years Mayors levee. I know he wasn’t there but that doesn’t stop him from commenting on every council and committee meeting that happens around town. My theory is he has obviously mastered that ancient art of shape shifting himself into the form of Kevin Lloyd.

9. Every councilor I spoke to strangely disliked my first post on the Collingwood airport, but liked my second post. In fact Deb Doherty said that if I had not written the second post she would have hit me with something next time she saw me, which was today. So I was rather fortunate I suppose.

10. What gives with this crowd today. I went to grab I bite to eat and it was packed around the food table, so I grabbed a coffee and decided to leave it for ten minutes until the rush died down. When I went back it was like a swarm of locusts had just gone through the room, the only thing that was left were a few crumbs and a rather sad-looking tomato. Did everyone decide to break their New Year’s resolutions en mass?

11. Now this one item actually has little to do with the levee, apart from when I left the event I was stopped at this stupid light again. So I decided that I would include some whining about it in this post. I am obviously talking about the traffic light at Lighthouse Point. It is one of those 1980’s technology stop lights that keeps changing on a timer whether someone is trying to get out of Lighthouse Point or not. The amount of times I have seen streams of traffic stopped on Highway 26 for 3 minutes (yeah I timed it once) for absolutely no reason at all. C’mon guys let’s get that light up to twentieth century standards, we have the technology.

Happy New Year to all of you.

“Making” me fall asleep…….

So I was roped into watching the first 3 episodes on this latest Netflix social media phenomenon “Making of a Murderer” last night. I must confess by half way through the second episode I was finding it hard to stay awake. By a quarter of the way through the third episode I found it more interesting cleaning up the dishes from dinner, than watching this awful series. I fail to see how this bore fest can drag itself through another seven episodes. I have personally seen enough. ***Spoiler Alert***. After watching episode three I went online to find out if anything new happens to prove Avery innocent, and it does not. He is still in jail and he does quite rightly get convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach.

Firstly anyone that would douse a cat with gasoline and throw the poor moggy on a fire is pretty much capable of anything. The series directors also glossed over the fact that Avery was convicted of assaulting his cousin (a woman) and firearms offences a few years before he was wrongly convicted of the rape of Penny Beerntsen. These transgressions were put forth as “youthful exuberance”. In my mind, stealing a car or getting into a bar fight is youthful exuberance (I was once convicted of the later myself). Torching a cat to death points in an entirely different direction
What a disgusting awful family the lot of them are. If they all banded together they might put together one full set of teeth. Avery’s girlfriend at the time of the rape and murder of Teresa Halbach, was in jail for repeatedly driving while impaired. So unlike many of the bleating masses, after what I had seen of the man, did not think it too much of a stretch to conclude that Avery could be capable of the rape, torture and murder of this poor unsuspecting girl  for a little trailer trash sexual R and R. That was the other thing I found quite disconcerting, the makers of this series seem to be so intent on making Avery look like a choir boy, they completely brush over the fate of the victim in this case. She was out doing her job and ends up as bone and muscle fragments in Steven Avery’s fire-pit. This girl was murdered, probably within ten feet of Avery’s trailer, someone committed that murder and although the red necks down at Manitowoc County sheriff’s department looked like they were quite capable of planting evidence, it should defy even the most ardent conspiracy theorists credulity, to think that they would kill an innocent girl, then plant evidence, just to save a $36 million wrongful conviction law suit. No, someone from this disgusting poor white trash family, killed, raped and tortured Teresa Halbach. My view is leave Steven Avery in jail until the rest of this swamp dwelling clan figure out which one of them was responsible for the crime themselves, with any luck maybe they all did it so the courts can incarcerate the lot of them. In the meantime when is House of Cards coming back on? So we can concentrate on some really important television watching.

The Plot Thickens……….

A year ago I was at the council meeting when the airport commercial development was first presented to council. I was quite shocked at the time that there was so little engagement from council that evening. In fact Kevin Lloyd was the only councilor who asked any questions about it. I wrote the following post a few days after that council meeting:

I have been following this story quite closely over the past few months. Last week I was on a bus ride from Prague to Braunschweig in central Germany with some time on my hands, so I decided to jump headlong into the middle of the fray on this issue and posted a blog about it. Unusually, I came out on the side of the developer (Paul Bonwick) and accused certain members of council (who I am usually supportive of) of being deliberately obstructionist to settle some old scores. As per usual I used some fairly blunt language in that post, and its title was quite provocative. This obviously got me some attention. I was very quickly brought up to speed on some of the back story behind this potential development.

This is speculation only and I state very clearly these are not my views or opinions, but the following is a sampling of what is being said:

1. The airport development is a sham.

2. The development is being put in place to drive up the surrounding property values. CCAC (the developer) will get all its t’s crossed and i’s dotted, then will flip the land to a  potential new developer and make a nice tidy little profit.

3. Town of Collingwood gets nothing from this deal anyway because the surrounding development land is in Clearview Township, so what is the upside for our town?

4. Clearview is a big winner along with CCAC. Clearview gets 99% of all development charges and future property taxes. CCAC gets the increased value of the property it develops. Collingwood gets its name on the airport sign.
5. If this actually is a $160 million potential deal and the only thing holding it up is Collingwood Town council not agreeing to sell a little strip of airport access land. Why doesn’t CCAC or Clearview Township, for that matter, just make an offer to buy the whole thing? Apparently its worth around $6 million so offer TOC a $1 million over the odds. But that, as far as I can see, has never been proposed. So why not? If I were talking those types of numbers, with that potential upside, that would be my first play.
6. No development at all, the land is going to be used for fracking. (Never going to happen).

7. Now Rick Crouch has chimed in below suggesting a casino is going out there. (Edited after the fact).

So there you have it folks, as per usual nothing is as clear-cut as it seems in our town. The above certainly does make sense especially with the past history of the players involved. This story has legs and has the potential of being more divisive than the Admiral Building. I would like to know what the in camera stuff about the airport are all about, there are obviously some fairly onerous legal ramifications surrounding this whole affair, what could they possibly be? Also the press release that was supposedly from the “Town” on 29th December, was apparently not sanctioned by the “proper channels” and the mayor knew nothing about it. It was signed by Brian Saunderson and Mike Edwards. Kevin Lloyd has been having a very public “hissy fit” about the whole thing.

One last thing. In my previous post I very publicly and quite unfairly attacked Steve Berman. Although I sometimes have not agreed with his methods, he has done more to bring transparency and openness to the local political scene than anyone else in our town. I unequivocally apologize to Steve for my disparaging comments about him.

Nothing but petty small town score settling

Some of you may have noticed that ‎I have kept my nose out of local politics for the last few months. Prefering to comment on the low hanging fruit that is the contemptible Premier Windbag and our vacuous selfie addicted new PM. The reasoning behind this is I have been out of town during the week and unable to attend local town council meetings. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been paying attention, it merely means that unlike an unpopular former councillor, who also doesn’t attend council meetings. I decided I should cede my right  of commentary until I am more actively involved.
I have been following the situation regarding the potential $150M development at Collingwood airport for close to a year now, and have written about it in this space on numerous occasions. So in this instance  I feel I have a right to comment.
I have often made it clear that I am not a big fan of our mayor, her brother Paul Bonwick or any of the other self-entitled back room boys that seem to think it’s their god-given right to make decisions that often benefit themselves but leave the rest of us out in the cold.
I will say this quite ‎categorically I whole heartily support Paul Bonwicks’s efforts to develop the land around the airport and I suggest that the foot dragging by our local council would never be happening if the person who was trying to make it happen were‎ not called Paul Bonwick. 

No matter how much Steve Berman (certain council members cheerleader) wants to try and convince us that Collingwood town council are merely doing their due diligence. The decision not to grant the CCAC a letter of intent for access to the development smacks of small town score settling. From everything I have read and discussed on the subject  this seems to have very little to do with “doing it right the first time”.
Also the letter that council put out yesterday trying to explain the reasoning behind its obstructionist stance ‎regarding the airport development, makes not a lick of sense to me. They state that “the priority is to oppose the windmill development”. But as Clearview Township mayor Chris Vanderkruys quite rightly pointed out “By not offering access to CACC to the airport they have cut off that rear guard”. Meaning that if they had granted access, it shows that everyone is serious about the development and it is extra ammunition to fight the windmills. Even Premier “Two Moms” would not fight against a development of this magnitude for half a dozen windmills (but nothing with her would surprise me).‎

I’m not sure what this Collingwood council and Steve Berman for that matter, see in the way of future job prospects locally, but from my stand point all I see are a lot of “McJobs” and low paying service industry jobs. This development has the potential to create an estimated 1,600 well paying specialised aviation industry jobs‎. It’s time for this council to get out of the way. Buttonville airport is closing in the fall of next year, it has been an aviation business centre for many years. Collingwood airport through this development is well placed to take much of that business. I’m quite sure Edenvale Aerodrome will take the business if the foot dragging from Collingwood doesn’t soon stop. I supported many members of this council during the last election, my thought was that they would rise above past differences for the betterment of the town. I still hope that that will happen

A huge shout out to the CCI music program:

A couple of years ‎ago I was very concerned about my son. He seemed disinterested in anything other than gaming on his computer. He was lazy, his room was a disaster. That summer he was constantly wanting to go off to bush party’s at all hours. Trying to stop him nearly ended in fist fights between my son and I. At school his marks were in the low seventies and low eighties, I was at my wits end on what to do with him and thought very seriously about sending him to military school.

His mother decided to put him in the CCI music program. I remember when he walked into the house with a trombone, he said “all the cool instruments were gone so  I ended up with this”. I had no illusions on how this was going to go, the bubble above my head said “I’ll give him a month”.

The weeks passed by, and to my surprise my son persevered. The sounds coming from his room went from being toneless and annoying to having a semblance of something sounding like music in a fairly short period of time. A month passed by and he was still playing his trombone. His gaming was at an all time low and the people he was starting to hang with were other kids from the music program, decent well-spoken kids from good family’s. By December it was time for the CCI Christmas concert. I normally hate those things. I am not one those parents that thinks anything my little snowflake does is perfect, in fact I am probably a little too critical of my kids at times (which is something I am working on).
I was expecting very little from this concert. My son was in C jazz and C band with all the other newbies they had been practicing from scratch for three months. ‎So I sat with a sense of trepidation waiting for the concert to start. After C band started I was shocked, they not only sounded like a real band, they sounded rather good.

By Easter the following year, my son had been bumped from C jazz and C band to B jazz and B band. The next concert was a jazz set at the New Life Christian Church and was very enjoyable. By the beginning of the next school year Rory was getting mid nineties in his music and the rest of his grades were in the mid to late eighties. He had now been bumped up to A Jazz the only grade 10 kid in that group. Another Christmas concert came around this time with my son in the top stream of music at CCI again his progress was unbelievable. This past year I have seen him and the other A jazz group play probably four times and thoroughly enjoyed every performance. He is now getting in the very high nineties in music and low nineties in his other grades, he is also working towards starting a band up with a few of his buddies.

Last week I attended the 2015 Christmas concert a highlight for me was below:

A word of explanation: He dropped the slide from his trombone and bent it one hour before the concert and had to use an instrument he wasn’t used to so he  missed a couple of notes.
In this space I am normally berating teachers. This time around I want to offer a very warm thank you to Mr. Hamlin, Mr. Bell and Mr. Clayton also volunteer Mr. Chambers. I don’t think I can overstate this enough, your hard work and dedication has changed my sons life.

“The Donald” gets everyone’s knickers in a knot.

As I told you all a few posts ago, I am on a self-imposed exile from Canadian television news programs at present. I can’t stand the continual tongue bathing and meaningless blather, that is getting reported about Justin since the federal election. I tried going back to CTV last week and the first thing I saw was the treacly bit about Justin and Sophie in Vogue magazine. I wasted a perfectly good tenderloin steak after watching that gut wrenching nonsense. Also, the left of centre talking heads are such poor winners with their smug little smiles and snarky comments about how this new administration is so much better than the previous one. I usually end up with the strong urge to throw stuff at my TV. So rather than take the chance of destroying my flat-screen, I’ve been watching a lot of American 24 hour news programming of late.

I am enjoying the US election race this time around, and find myself watching endless news coverage and opinion about a certain Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong I could never support him because it would be an utter disaster if he ever became president, but he certainly is entertaining. By the way after some serious review my choice on the republican ticket is Marco Rubio. Although I do strongly disagree with his stance against abortion. But Marco Rubio will be a story for another day if or when he becomes the Republican nominee to run against Hillary.

Today it is my intention to get all you lefty’s (and maybe a few righty’s) frothing at the mouth because I am quite sure my opinion on Donald Trump is far from mainstream in Canada. The thing I find most interesting about “Donald” is that his rise in popularity, very much reminds me of Rob Ford’s mayoralty election and campaign back in 2009 – 10, but on a massive scale. Think about it, Rob Ford got himself elected mayor of Toronto by being a populist and doing lots of shooting from the lip. Plus he was an antidote against the far left David Miller. Many Americans are embracing Donald Trump because he is the complete antithesis of Barack Obama. Also, Trump is saying what many people are thinking, and in unguarded moments will say privately among themselves, but would never say in mixed political company.

After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, carried out by fundamentalist Muslims (no I will not use this new “radicalized” word everyone now seems to be using). Americans wanted their president to tell them what he planned to do to try to keep them safe, but what did they get from Obama? He looked irritated that he had been dragged from the golf course. One third of his speech was a monotone telling Americans that this has nothing to do with Islam because it’s a religion of peace, blah blah blah. Nothing about new security measures to tackle homegrown Islamic terrorists. No new screening of people coming from the Islamic terrorist hell holes around the world. Just his usual pabulum, in a monotone voice from a man who seems completely disinterested and detached from the whole situation.

Then a few days after Obama’s speech Trump gets on TV and says “stop all Muslims from entering the US”, obviously an impossible thing to do and Trump knows it. But now the conversation has started. It seems that the terrorist Tashfeen Malik was not even interviewed by US immigration officials in Saudi Arabia, prior to receiving her K2 visa to enter the US. I would think the very minimum that any western country should be doing is interview a potential migrant from a Muslim country (especially the country that spawned 75% of the 9/11 terrorists). In that interview ask a series of pointed questions to try to establish if that person has any sympathy or allegiance to any Islamic fundamentalist groups. Any suspicion on that front in all cases deny entry.

Like him or hate him, that conversation was actually being had a few night ago on CNN and would never happen unless Trump had said his silly “ban Muslims from the US” statement. He is starting conversations that a lot of Americans want to have, and no amount of the usual political correctness blather will stop him.

As I said I do not agree with much of what he says, but I do find it refreshing to actually hear someone say the types of things he is saying with no filter.

Whatever the final result of the US election, in my mind, Trump is a very welcome addition to the the slate of Republican candidates.

My favorite Trump quote:
“If I become president, Starbucks will be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again. That I can tell you.”