9/11: 17 years later and clearer than ever.

I remeber the morning well. I knew the world had changed that day and we would, Canada and the United States would be going to war. Which the British commonwealth did beside Americans.
Something that sadly gets overlooked these strange days.

I remember as the sky’s shut down, towns in the far east of Canada, little more than fishing villages and refueling stops for Trans-Atlantic flights welcomed hundreds of planes, thousands of people and gave them comfort regardless of country, race, religious beliefs or gender.

I remember very sadly as I saw on the noon news when my friends and I left work to watch the news as the second tower collapsed.
Thinking my Good Lord, someone used one of the planes I build with pride and turned it into a fucking bomb.

I remember sitting in Madison Square Garden a few years later talking with people who had actually witnessed their friends jumping to their deaths rather than burn alive. How these tough sons of britches, working men and women., strong people. Cried at the thought of it all years later.

I remember the calls for vengeance that I knew would come against a regime and people who were not our enemies. I remember seeing Canadian bodies coming home from a war that had to happen perhaps but in wholesale different manner and in a completely different country and way.

My High School World Politics teacher used to say that the only coin worth holding was trust. Trust was the coin of the realm, the only thing worth anything. We as a people, both political and basic were robbed that day and days since in ways both gross and sublime.
Slights of hand have happened to basic simple freedoms, taken for granted, unworked for in our generation.

The world as a whole as I look back has changed as I predicted, we went to war, crushed a region and unleashed exactly what the planners of 9 11 had hoped for all the long. Democratic common sense and reason at war with it’s self.

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Rest in Peace Chef: Anthony Bourdain dead at 61.

As I write this I’m watching people share stories and thoughts on what is looking like an apparent suicide by Anthony Bourdain.

The one time chef and author/globetrotter was found dead by his friend Éric Ripert in France this morning apparently by his own hand.

Anyone who has even casually looked at this blog will know that I have been a constant fan of the man and his work. A previous girlfriend of mine used to call him my man crush and I suppose that assessment was true.

In fact this blog page is a direct result of my early ‘obsession with Bourdain’. When my girlfriend and I won a trip to New York one of the first things we did was go to eat at his old restaurant Les Halles where he had been head chef.

I can’t even begin to imagine what his ex wife and daughter are going through this morning and in all sincerity my heart goes out to them though all of this.

Bourdain has the distinction of being one of the original bad boy celebrity chefs along with Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay.

He used food as a bridge to explore different cultures. Sharing a meal and finding out what really makes the world tick. From high end dining with 3 star chefs to squatting in the sand with tribesmen in Namibia eating the less appealing parts of warthog.

He opened my mind to the world of exotic food. To the point where I will often try a new cuisine and just have the server bring me what they would want to eat.

Depression and suicide are very serious medical issues. One can never really know what demons a person is struggling with. What pain, guilt or shame they carry in their hearts. Real or imagined to the outside world those feelings are all too real to the person suffering.

Mental illness can be as debilitating as a broken bone or heart condition. But because that pain is invisible to everyone else it is misunderstood and marginalized by the outside world. I know this because I deal with depression and severe anxiety on a daily basis.

To all of Anthony’s family and friends I offer my sincere condolences. You do not grieve alone.

Did you ever need to Floyd Out?

Sorry to my younger readers, I’m talking about having a day that was so very hard you couldn’t sleep for a few days before?

Well in my prime I had a cool ride, a little four speed that could take most big V8 in a short hop.

Not fast, but fucking quick.

Anyhoo in those days all we had were tape music. 8 Track and Cassette. So music was at a premium.

Those days in the hinterland of Ontario it was a government ears from hell. The same loop over and over.

So we grabbed the latest, the weirdest.

Pink Floyd.

It was a change from reality, from the norm.

It became who I am today.

This is not a blog post I wanted to write: The joys of living with depression.

Life is a funny thing, sometimes we go on with our lives and constantly pass judgement on people and things whether we mean to or not. For people such as myself it turns out that the thing I judge regardless of the situation is me.

That’s pretty normal as people go but in some people such as myself those self condemning voices are almost impossible to shut off or ignore.  Those little “Brain Weasels” are relentless actively trying to undermine you at every turn.  Whispering that you are worthless, you’re all alone in the world, nobody loves you.  Just get it over with and kill yourself already.  Sometimes it’s hard to get though the day when your own brain is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

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The 24 Hour News Cycle and the puss it digs up.

I was as a few hours ago absolutely appalled by the bile about shit hole/house countries that 45 was once again railing.

Yes I got home turned on the news and was WHAT THE FUCK. He actually said that…yea of course he did.

Now the news is beating it into a froth, a justified holy jebus of a thing.

But not this president.

Ya’ll elected a Shit hole President and if you beg to differ meet him on the 19th hole.

Hold on to your britches Bob is coming back.

I know readers that I have been less than punctual. But one writes in constraints of the cage we live.

Looking forward I have been gifted a great deal of abused hardware that will suit me just fine.

So if any of my fans are still interested.

Gord Downie: My thoughts on brain disease and memories

To be honest readers I wasn’t going to write on the passing of Canada’s beloved troubadour. To add my singular voice to the cacophony of tributes flowing out from every corner of the world seemed pointless.

But then I remembered an author who in my darkest hours had helped to pull me from the muck and mire of my own brain, and along this path the music of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip also featured heavily in my thoughts.

I can still remember the day that almost collectively as Canadians we gasped “Oh No” a brain tumor that can’t be true. Yet as the days marched on we Canadians as a nation rallied behind this man, this band, this idea of Canada. The Hip announced what sadly turned out to be their last collective tour and I thanks to the generosity of my friend Jeff attended the final show here in Winnipeg.

I to be honest find this very hard to write, the emotions are bittersweet. Seeing the man in full flight once again was glorious. If you have never seen The Tragically Hip live the experience is very hard to discribe. It was something that I, a sesoned veteran of the live music scene, had never witnessed. To see The Tragically Hip is like watching a live poet, with Tourette syndrome and a bottle of Mezcal let loose on the public.

Gord was never just random however, staggering around unaware of his surroundings. To my mind Gord knew exactly where he was and he was hell bent on creating a unique experience for each and every show. To the best of my knowledge The Hip never played the same set list back to back. And even if they had this is no cookie cutter band.

To see a wild man like Downie in full cerebral rant with the band calmly matching his volume and tempo, Gord giving no visual cues that I could spot to let the band know what he was planning speaks to the level of professionalism and quality of the performers. They like us in the audience were along for the ride.

I must admit that I came a bit late to the Tragically Hip fold, I had known and liked their music from the 80’s playing in t he background at parties, and weeks at a friend’s cabin were I grew up in North Western Ontario. Road apples was the latest out then, I instantly took to Little Bones, “two fifty for a highball and a buck and a half for a beer. Happy hour, happy hour is here. Instant intangible classic in my mind.

Flash forward to August 1, 2016 Winnipeg. The Tragically Hip on the Man Machine Poem tour. Gord being literally and emotionally from my point of view supported by the band members and the crowd. That show was so bittersweet, any time I got to see The Hip was special, but Gord had lost a small but very noticeable step in his performance. He was still Gord alive and wild but somehow illness had robbed him of acuity and vitality. The doctors had apparently told him not to do this goodbye tour. What I and his fans saw was a very public FUCK YOU CANCER, I WILL NOT LAY DOWN AND DIE.

The performance was sublime in so many ways, the effort of the man was plainly apparent. The band as always keeping his back as with concerts of old in full flight. This time gently nudging the man in the directions he needed to go.

And then it was over, the final song I ever heard The Tragically Hip play live was a haunting version of Ahead By Century. A song which a few scant years ago I barely understood. Or to be honest knew the words to, thank you Jeff and Shannon for taking me in this amazing journey with a man who refused to be humbled by issues of reducing mental capacity.

Those of you who know me well will also know that I have been dealing with mental health issues. To this end I have sought out help and amazing resources from around the world. Authors, like minded lovers of nocturnal bandit mammals, medical and councelling help and yes the struggles made public of Gord Downie.

We all have a very singular path to walk in life, our own secret road. But as we all know paths cross and combine and sometimes drift apart. The things I am taking away from my personal walk with Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip are these. Everone has to walk their own path alone, who they invite or simply let join them on that path will always affect each and every one of them.

Once a person drifts off your path in time you get to choose the things you want to take from the experience for good or ill. If a person is poison do not drink from that path or wish it back. That is folly.

Be gentle and kind to one another, accept and give love freely. It costs nothing to give a smile or lend a hand.

Remember always that mental illness lies, depression can kill. But above all you are loved and are always are capable of love and giving it back. Isolation is a self made tomb.

Always remember as I will this refrain from the final song I heard live. Tears are coming now.

No dress rehearsal this is our life.

Bob