“Hono(u)rary Canadian”–My New Blog

Perce-Roche-tumbler6Along with The Great Gray Bridge, which is designed and built* upon a WordPress theme, I maintain a blog–currently on tumblr–where I share briefly written posts with photos and quick hits. It’s often handy when I’m traveling or running around town, away from my desk.** That site was formerly named after this blog, but I’m officially refocusing it–its emphasis will now be on Canadian content and covering Canadian issues. I’m renaming it Hono(u)rary Canadian, in a bid for transnational wit. I make no singular claim to that title, for I know that Canada draws interest and affection from many in the US. I use it though, as kindly Canadians have said it about me, and because I do cherish a near-lifelong deep and personal connection with Canada. In fact, from the time I began The Great Gray in October 2011, Canada has played an important role in my coverage, constituting roughly 20-30% of my writing, links, and sharing. I’ve connected with many Canadian readers over the past two years, and have found there many Facebook friends and Twitter followers. I’m hoping to connect with even more Canadian readers with the newly named site, and more deeply.

Given my interest in Canadian literature, authors, indie music, geography, and politics–and the enjoyment I find in writing about them, this is a natural extension for me. I also plan to write about Canada’s next federal election, which will take place no later than 2015. I’ll also be sharing photos from my many years of travel in Canada, beginning with the image that I’ve chosen as the signature visual for the site. It shows the monumental Roche Percé or ‘pierced rock’ on the Gaspé Peninsula in the most eastern portion of Quebec. I visited the region on a solo vacation in the autumn of 1988. The mighty rock juts in to the Atlantic Ocean with its massive pointed prow facing toward shore. It is a wonder of the world, no kidding. A visitor can only get near it at low tide, as I did on one lucky occasion. I remember spending about 3 hours scampering in and out of the surf and trying to get as close as possible to the pierced opening, with the huge bulk of it towering at least a hundred feet above me. The image at the bottom of the post is a ‘selfie’ I took the same day, long before that term was in the vernacular. It’s a place I hope to see again someday, next time with my family.

I invite you to visit Hono(u)rary Canadian in the days, weeks, and months to come. I’ll post on both sites, share often between them, and do lots of cross-linking. My interest in reading, book culture, live music, city life, media, and current events, and my writing about them–covering New York City, the US, and Canada–is growing so that I need the two sites. Thanks for reading me at one or both of them.

PT & Perce Roche_0001

* My excellent designer, who adapted the WordPress theme I chose for this site, is Harry Candelario, who when I first met him was known as the Mac Doctor, for his work on Apple products. I frequently suggest him to people when they ask me to recommend a web designer. I should add he also offers helpful advice about WordPress, various Web platforms, SEO, and generally helps to increases one’s Web savvy.
** Though I may soon convert it from tumblr to WordPress.

Tweets on KeystoneXL & Canada w/a Touch of Humor

NY Times Buys Into the Harper Gov’t’s View of Keystone Pipeline

Very odd that the team of three reporters who bylined the NY Times story I tweeted about so totally bought into the Harper government’s line about Keystone, with Harper’s spokespeople raising supposedly dire consequences to the US-Canadian relationship if the president decides to nix the pipeline here. The story is written as if Harper has a renewable lease on the office Prime Minister of Canada, when there will be a federal election up north no later than 2015. As critics in Canada have pointed out, increasingly Harper’s economic strategy has been shown to be that of “strip (resources) and ship them (to the highest bidder).” That the US could frustrate this design owing to what the Obama administration may ultimately rule are overwhelming environmental concerns is at least as big a problem for Harper as it ever wil be for the U.S.

Spirited NYC Demonstration Supporting First Nations Rights & #IdleNoMore

Saturday Morning Update: Below I’d written about indie journalist Matt H., of Stopmotionsolo who was livestreamning yesterday’s #idleNoMoreRally. Here’s his comprehensive report on the demo, with good pictures and video, including a brief interview he did with me. Viewing that footage, which can be viewed via this link, I realize now how cold I had become after hours outside, as my speaking on camera seems to have been slurred by my cold lips.

A hunger strike in Canada by First Nations leader Chief Theresa Spence in Attawapiskat, a scandalously impoverished native village in far northern Ontario began 18 days ago, but the issues of indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental justice that it’s stirring up are now spreading throughout the continent, and across the continental border, into New York City where I live. This afternoon I participated in a rally organized by native Americans of NY State in support of and in solidarity with Chief Spence. As shown in the photos below, they brought placards proclaiming their support for her, and for her opposition to the onerous new Canadian law, Bill C-45. It was promoted by the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and passed by the Canadian senate on December 14. A few days earlier Chief Spence began her hunger strike and asked Harper to meet with her and other First Nations leaders before the law is implemented. She is determined to explain her objections to the law and talk with him directly about the issues currently facing her people and many native groups. He has refused thus far and his government ministers have mostly been trying to ignore her. The rising crescendo of vigorous protests all across Canada, and in NYC today, are being mounted daily to show Harper he cannot hide from this selfless leader. Here is an up-to-the-moment report on Day 18 of her hunger strike at a link from CTV.

For about an hour in today’s freezing temperatures amid bright cold sunshine the spirited crowd of well over 100 people chanted, struck drums, sang, and danced in a circle around the central fountain in the center of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. During the rally I met a young journalist who was livestreaming the event. He interviewed me briefly, giving me the chance to tell him how the opposition to Bill C-45 had been building in Canada for months, and that it has now found a powerful catalyst in Chief Spence and her hunger strike. This indie journalist goes by the handle Mr Solo; streams at; and tweets at @Stopmotionsolo. He gave his audience my name and that of this blog, so I hope that his viewers will find this post through the Internet and social networking. I also made audio and video of the demo, and will try to get some of that up as soon as I’m able.

I hope you can catch the spirit of the event from my pictures and a scan of the flyer handed out during the rally. To amplify all this, if you’re on Twitter please note that the hashtag #IdleNoMore has been trending all over North America this week, so please use it if you tweet on this topic. I also met Kevin Tarrant, Deputy Director of American Indian Community House in NYC. I told him that I thought he and his group  had done a great job of representing the issues from Canada, right down to the copy on their signs, not typical in a demonstration crossing borders like this one. He explained that they had read carefully on the Idle No More website and taken their cues from it. But of course, Kevin and his group really have no border separating them from Chief Spence, with whom they share bond and blood. He was pleased when I told him and a few of his fellow drummers and chanters that word of the rally was already traveling across the continent as I’d tweeted during the demo to an activist friend in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cameron Bode, known on Twitter as @vanboders. Here are Idle No More’s social addresses and connections:

Web:    Facebook:  Twitter:

Click through to see all pictures.

Canadians ♥ Barack Obama

I love that all my Canadian pals on my Twitter feed and Facebook page are going as crazy as my Yank pals. This is a big win for lots of people!

Reading along with Richard Ford

Fascinating Q&A with novelist Richard Ford in the “Books” section of the Boston Globe over the weekend. I was mesmerized by his latest novel Canada, which I blogged about several times (1, 2, and 3) while caught up in the reading of it last May and June. These are two of the most interesting bits from Ford’s discussion with Amy Sutherland:

BOOKS: Are you a slow or fast reader?

FORD: Slow. I’m dyslexic. If you can reconcile yourself to not being able to burn through books, which you shouldn’t any way, you can slow the whole process down. Then, because of my disability, there is more for me in imaginative literature than there is for other people. . .

BOOKS: What was your reading like before this?

FORD: Dutiful. Remember when you were kid in school and the teacher was always telling you there’s more here than you see. There’s a line of Henry Moore’s, “Never think of the surface except as an extension of a volume.” I was thinking there was a volume but where the hell was it?

#FridayReads, June 22–Finished “Canada” by Richard Ford

I really saved and savored Richard Ford’s current novel, Canada, and finally finished it while in the air flying home from Toronto earlier this week. Immediately after completing it I began re-reading Chapter One, where 15-year old Dell Parsons opens the book by telling readers that

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister’s lives on the courses they eventually followed. Nothing would make complete sense without that being told first.”

I had written about the book at earlier stages in my reading, and now I can say with sure conviction that it is a great novel. The measured pace of it; the mounting force of Dell Parsons’ adolescent  voice; the shocking violence that suddenly invades the seemingly placid narration; the amoral nature of many of the adults in the tale; the way Ford evokes character and place in Montana and the Canadian prairies, in short, sharp strokes that left me wanting to re-read his chiseled sentences–all these things combined to leave an indelible mark on my consciousness while reading it, and once I’d finished it, impelled me to want to start it all over again, eager to riddle out the narrative from the start. It’s one of those novels that teaches you to how read it, while you’re reading it.

I am aware that Canada has had mixed reviews–for instance, the reviewer in Publishers Weekly didn’t care for it, asserting that the first two parts of the book, set in Montana, then Saskatchewan, made little sense together–but I don’t agree. It all worked for me, and brilliantly. Now I want to go back and read more of Ford’s earlier work, and re-read the ones I read years ago.

Love for the CBC from the LA Times

In what I judge to be an interesting assignment by editors at the Los Angeles Times, I read Marcia Adair’s article on the unifying effect that the CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, has on the country’s civic identity. The story is partly pegged to the fact that “in a delicious twist, it seems that the broadest […]