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david bowie

Diamond dogs and suffragettes….

In spite of my love for his music since I was a child, I didn’t get a chance to see Bowie until the spring of 2004 here in Ottawa. I took my then 11 year-old eldest daughter with me. I thought it important at the time that her first live concert be someone who should could brag about later in life (Since then, my wife and I took our second daughter to see Rush at Bluesfest… for a similar reason). And to my recollection, she loved the show.

This wasn’t at all surprising. Ziggy’s music was timeless; Heroes is just as poignant now as it was when it was first released decades ago. The duet with Freddie Mercury on Under Pressure is still breathtaking. Space Oddity, still haunting. In this age of kiddy-pop, boring melodies and meaningless lyrics, when a Bowie tune comes on the radio, it stands out as something unique.

Below is the only – and I mean ONLY – Christmas tune that I do not automatically switch off when it is played, at any time of the year.

Thank-you, Sir David.


We can be heroes. Just for one day

Yup, “Heroes” by David Bowie is one of my all time fave tunes. Haunting and melodious, he tells the story of a couple in love in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. I saw this performed by Bowie here in town a few years back… the crowd was mesmerized.

The best lines are these:

I, I can remember
(I remember)
Standing by the wall
(By the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads
(Over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
(Nothing could fall)

This leads me to recount an interesting Facebook exchange last night with an old friend from my Trent days (where I did my undergrad degree). I don’t normally copy a FB back and forth onto my blog – pretty lazy, IMHO. But this is an exception because I like the topic.

My bud – let’s call him “Ike – was wondering aloud about what makes a hero and who might they be. He posed his question in the form of a status update:

is thinking about heroes… real ones; not Superman et la… Just been thinking about the incredible people I work on various causes with and that they are the real heroes; and our troops; and our cops; smoke-eaters and EMS eagles…. I’m curious; in the cynical age we live in; do you have any living heroes ? Who are they ?

To which someone immediately came back with examples of a cop, a U.S. Air Force dude and a paramedic. All fine examples of who that particular person considers to fit the mold of hero… but I had to take issue…

Sorry man, we really differ on the whole heroes thing…

My old friend still remembers me well enough that when I am called out on something, I’ll usually take the bait – being the opinionated bastard that I am.

I KNEW you’d call me on this!

Heroes are strangers worthy of my respect because of some act that they have performed. Not that I’m anything special and not that worthy of my respect is above being worthy of someone else’s respect; but you asked.

I am certainly no hero.

Cops. Yup, they will occasionally put their asses on the line. But the bulk of their time is spent hassling folks who dare to question authority. And I’m 47 yrs old and still saying this.

Most of the cops I have know in my adult life have been on ego trips to beat all hell and really don’t give a crap about being heroes more than satisfying their own dominating, macho, misogynist agendas.

Yup, there are exceptions, but I’m speaking from experience.

I’m NOT going to go on about the military because that will just invite flames – not from you, but from others. Let’s just leave it at that. Sure, they are heroes at times… but that’s their job.

Sure – EMS folks – I’ll go with that… but still, that’s their job and what they are paid for – right?

But what about those who are in the shadows and receive not recompense?

Here are some of my heroes:

– The anonymous woman in Sudan who stands in front of the soldiers to protect her kids – after her husband has been murdered in cold blood…
– The anonymous middle-class family in Halifax who spends one day a week delivering food to the elderly
– The anonymous guy on Vancouver’s Lower East Side who brings a thermos of soup to that pathetic dude on the corner who is 15/16th the way to being dead.
– The teen who gives up her weekends to volunteer at the local old folks home… and tells her friends and family that she’s chilling with her friends for fear of being found as uncool…
– The anonymous “anyone” who stands up to authority when authority is wrongly wielded and pays for that defiance. Whether in a Vancouver airport, a ship off the coast of Gaza or at Kent State in the 1960’s.

Go ahead and say that I sound like some rambling hippie. Fair ’nuff. But there are heroes every day and everywhere… and they need not wear a uniform. Though they might.

A couple of commments later, someone else piped in with:

Interesting topic and views. A hero to me is someone who makes a difference; even if it just touches one person’s life or millions. I agree it is every day people. I would not exclude anyone because they are trained/paid to do the job. I cringe when I ask students this question and they can come up with is a sports figure. Great topic!

I couldn’t agree with this more. I guess it may be easier to describe what is NOT a hero rather than what IS one.

For example, are athletes or other celebrities heroes when they do something philanthropic?  Is the hero a researcher who dares to question the common wisdom of his field and endures criticism and ridicule from his peers; but then goes on to make a major technological/medical  breakthrough?

Sure, a cop can be a hero by disarming a bad guy intending to do harm. A firefighter will willingly enter burning building to save a trapped child.  A soldier in Afghanistan can heroically save his comrades and innocents by disarming a bomb or leading a sortie into hostile territory. I’m not saying that these men and women for whom being heroic is part of their c.v. are not heroic, but I am saying that they are not automatically heroes because of their chosen field.

So. Who is your hero? And why?



Awright – I can’t resist – way too easy

Check it out:

Motown legend Berry Gordy said: “He was awesome, the King of Pop was not big enough. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.

I heard this along with the other hero-worship claptrap and thought “huh”?

Greatest entertainer?

No fuckin’ way.

I remember a party back in ’82 or so (some of my readers may recall) when a certain chick brought Thriller to the scene. We were on an island somewhere outside of Peterborough, ON and we were all die hard rockers…

The MJ tape ended up in the bonfire while Zep II roared its mighty roar.

So in the interest of the public service, here are 50 entertainers I consider “greater” than the child molester.

  1. George Carlin
  2. The Clash
  3. Led Zeppelin
  4. Robin Williams
  5. Jon Stewart
  6. The Beatles
  7. Bruce Springsteen
  8. Madonna
  9. My son Owen
  10. Bart Simpson
  11. The Police
  12. The Canadian police forces who like using Tasers
  13. RCMP (see above)
  14. Frank Sinatra
  15. Alex Ovechkin
  16. Supertramp
  17. Pink Floyd
  18. Thierry Henry
  19. David Bowie
  20. My daughter Addy
  21. My teenmonster T
  22. The Eagles
  23. Stephen Harper – in robot mode
  24. Janis Joplin
  25. Jim Morrison
  26. Jimi Hendrix
  27. Bob Marley
  28. Queen
  29. Kim il Jong
  30. Kermit the Frog
  31. Kaka
  32. Vlad Putin
  33. My 4th year Pol Sci Theory prof
  34. Pierre Trudeau
  35. Sir Richard Branson
  36. Sir Paul McCartney
  37. John Lennon
  38. Lenin
  39. The cast of Coronation Street
  40. Che
  41. Ronaldo
  42. Johnny Ramone
  43. Sid Vicious
  44. Leonardo da Vinci
  45. Anna Kournikova
  46. Meagan Fox
  47. Mike Tyson
  48. The guy who asks for change at the corner of Holland and Scott
  49. Peter Gzowski
  50. Isaac Asimov

I could do another 100 or so, but am getting tired.

You get the point though, right?


Concerts of by-gone years

I noticed the other day that Fleetwood Mac was on the road again and belting out such classics as “Go your own way”, “Rhiannon”, and “Dreams”.  Stevie Nicks, while not the sultry songstress she once was, is yet quite admirably holding off the visual effects of aging – and still is pretty hot. She did turn 61 in May!


I saw the band once. Not during their heyday of the late-70’s but later on one of those reunion tours. I think it was in the early 1990’s at Molson Park or Ontario Place; I can’t remember which.

So I got to thinking about some of the great concerts I have had the pleasure of attending over the years.  My parents were pretty permissive with regards to curfews and going to T.O. to hit a concert. I think I first took the bus from Parry Sound to the Big Smoke when I was only 16. [aside to my family – no, I’m not worried about Torii reading this and saying “hey! why not me too!” She NEVER reads this blog!].

So, just because my creative juices aren’t flowing at the normal breakneck speed, and I can’t think of anything more interesting to scribble about, here is a comprehensive listing of the concerts that Trashy has attended –  at least those that I remember.

Maybe you were at one of these?

  • First one – Johnny Cash – with my parents… musta been in the mid ’70’s sometime.
  • First one on my own – Styx and Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. I thought these guys really rocked around the year 1978. I learned better later.
  • Queen – same place in 1980. The world lost a great artist when Mercury died. “Sheer Heart Attack” is still one of the most energising tunes that I have ever had the pleasure of banging my head to!
  • Canada World Music Festival – again at Exhibition Stadium. This was one of those 12 hour long rock and drunk fests that sprung up every now and then. Kinda like my version of Lollapalooza. Pretty good lineup: Edgar Winters, Nazareth, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart. I’m sure there were more… but I went through the rye hidden in the hollowed out radio pretty fast that day and that’s all I recall.
  • Supertramp – c.1980 – again in T.O. Loved Rudy and the big screen behind the band showing the hands on the bars during “Crime of the Century”. These guys w3re HUGE back then and it was undoubtedly the BEST show I had seen to that point of my life.
  • U2 – Zoo Station tour in T.O. Supertramp was eclipsed by Bono and the boyz. “Mysterious ways” – with Bono dancing with that chick from the audience that every other female in the crowd of 40,000 or so HATED – was the highlight of  the show.
  • Pink Floyd – Division Bell tour in Toronto in 1994. Being a huge Floyd fan, I expected more. The tunes were good and the stage was whacked but I think the crowd ruined it for me. They just weren’t into it.
  • Shift to Ottawa where I saw The Boss for the first time at the LoserDome (oops, I mean ScotiaBank Place). Amazing energy. Sliding across the stage like he had 10W 30ed his ass. Clarence was awesome. THIS ranks as the best evening I have spent watching a show.
  • David Bowie – also an amazing show at the LoserDome. I think this happened in 2003. “Heroes” has always been one of my fave tunes and Bowie did not disappoint. I went to this show with my eldest daughter who, now that she is 16, wouldn’t be caught DEAD at a rock concert with her old man!
  • Oh yeah – I took her to see Avril Lavigne as well… it was, uh, OK.