Revisiting Across The Universe

Julie Taymor’s 2007 musical masterpiece Across The Universe dominates my top ten list. Never before or since have I left a theatre  wearing unabashed joy from ear to ear. Gob smacked patrons bound by a collective aura of measurable energy, stepped out with enlightened strides of purpose. Wikipedia link below details the premise, misses the magic –

ATU opens with soft footsteps – a love story set in 1960’s America, unknown actors singing Beatles songs. Captivated by cinematography and stunning Beatles covers, audience members barely notice Taymor’s seamless punch of trans formative anti war and civil rights protest. Riveted to our seats, witness to the glaring relevance of Vietnam era America in our modern world. Brilliant. If you haven’t seen it, make a point of seeking it out. I get goosebumps watching this –



Eve Of Destruction

Can anyone tell me what happened to social conscience? Maybe it’s out there, perhaps it exists in tweets or percolates in realms outside my middle aged perception. It could be that my idea of social conscience is locked in a dusty vault, a time capsule indicative of my age. Before social media, in a world where protest stirred in the hearts of citizens, and resounded with a collective cry for change.

I can’t help but think protest has lost its way. Listening to Vietnam era anti war songs evokes a sense of despair. Where has our social conscience gone?

Missing Sinead O’Connor

Missing Sinead O’Connor came out of left field. Can’t say what led to pondering her 1992 appearance on Saturday Night Live.  A permanent playlist resident, O’Connor’s haunting voice and lyrics captivated. I couldn’t have been less prepared for what happened – Sinead O’Connor blew my mind.

Trying to think of anything remotely similar, all I came up with was Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising the black pride salute during the 1968 Olympics. (linked below) In both cases, conviction took precedence over consequence. In both cases,  peaceful symbolic gestures imploded careers. These days it’s tough to fathom “celebrity” with courage to do the same.

O’Connor dutifully performed an opening number with her band – as SNL wound down, O’Connor appeared starkly alone, launching a cappella into  Bob Marley’s War. Nobody seemed to notice  insertion of “sexual abuse” for the lyrics “racial injustice”. O’Connor ended with “fight the real enemy”, producing a photograph of Pope John Paul II, which she ripped into pieces.

Stunned silence as NBC cut to commercial. According to insiders, NBC switchboards lit up with 4,484 complaints. Eventually the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) fined NBC 2.5 million for airing objectionable content. NBC has since edited out footage, forbidding anyone to re-broadcast the photo ripping scene.

Oh man Sinead, wherever you are, know your courage is respected. Defining moments in protest history don’t come along often.

Just because O’Connor desecrated an image of the Pope on national television, shouldn’t eradicate her fine work. One of my favorite O’Connor songs….

Olympic Power

In the spirit of July 2 marking the 50th anniversary of America’s first signed Civil Rights Act , on the heals of last night’s pondering of those rights – I’m re-posting “Olympic Power”. I can’t watch this clip without becoming emotional. Take 4 1/2 minutes out of your life to watch and ponder. All I ask is that you try to find the absurdity of hatred, fear, and exclusion based on the colour of your skin.


Fresh off  closing ceremonies at Sochi, still smiling from the exhilaration of Canadian men and women’s hockey taking gold, I find myself pondering another Olympic moment.

The courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos exemplifies the civil rights movement. I’m not going to explain why – take 5 minutes out of your life to watch a snapshot in time, a moment in history when  Olympics’ sacred line was crossed, when damn the consequences ruled over “tow the line”. Smith and Carlos managed to define injustice without uttering a word.

I often write of protest; specifically my dismay at society’s screwed up priorities – our spoon fed, cult of celebrity, gun toting, fundamentalist, reality television, someone else’s problem world. For those too young to understand the optimism, hope and determination of people who believed they could make a difference, I wish I could roll back time. When coffee shops and campuses burst under the weight of collective purpose…

View original post 101 more words

Protest Wept

Protest woke to the silence of tears dropping on the floor. Unable to move or feel her body. Familiarity steadied her enough to find a point of reference. Breathing slowed as she recognized herself; twisted in drenched bed clothes, her once beautifully sculpted arms lashing at the night beneath muffled cries. Struggles to comprehend the image of herself, immediately overshadowed by a blinding light.

Protest gasped as oppressive heat choked her lungs, acrid stench uncurled as dusty roads gave way to city streets, music filled the air. Songs of hope, freedom and purpose invited her into homes, corner stores and coffee shops. Her steps quickened; swirls of conviction laughed as they placed soft grass beneath her toes. Millions of voices buoyed her passage – she swears she saw a rabbit dance the jig.

Sharp pain stopped Protest in her tracks, blood pooling beneath stubbed toes as she stood on a bed of glass. She hadn’t noticed the ominous skies, stoked by  icy winds, now taunting her with their cackle. The streets were silent, as if under a spell of darkness – opaque voices snickered,  Protest managed a wobbly  defiant walk, peering into cafes and shops once filled with promise. Thousands of mute heads cast downwards at flickering screens,  fingers tapping keyboards assaulted her senses. One brave little puddle of reason wailed a hasty goodbye as it disappeared down a greasy drain.

Protest bolted upright, her dream vibrating taunts, her lobotomy complete. Protest wept; not for herself but for those who had forgotten her.

Idle No More – You Have Some Problems

Lets face it; it sucks to be an aboriginal person in any country. Civilization is shaped by conquest, genocide, and religious oppression. None of it right, appalling and tragic is the plight of those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of those with bigger muscles. Entire civilizations wiped out in the blink of an eye.

Canada‘s first nation’s people are no exception. Adding insult to injury, not only did they find themselves rounded up and placed in reservations; their children were taken away and subjected to the horror of the residential school system. A shameful attempt to eradicate any trace of traditional native culture and language. Treated as not much more than slave labour, they endured physical and sexual abuse, all in the name of a Christian God.

I don’t blame any of them for the chip they carry on their shoulder. That said; many, many people have had a rough time. No one said life would be fair. Thousands and thousands of immigrants arrived in North America with nothing more than the shirt on their back. They too lost their homes, fled persecution and war, yet made a choice for a better life. They never forgot the “old country” but embraced Canada as chance to make a fresh start.

I’m well aware of the difference between immigrant and indigenous populations. The point I’m making is that first nations people never acquired the mindset needed to succeed. History is rife with tragic stories of persecution and oppression. In ancient times they would have been killed or forced into slavery. Forget treaties or reservations; those are modern concepts shaped to alleviate moral dilemmas unheard of throughout thousands of years of history.

The “Idle No More” movement has a valid point and a terrible approach. Not only a lousy approach, but a major image problem to overcome.  It always has, and will always be about the money. The problem is far from simple, but assure you it will not be solved by banging a drum. Start by taking responsibility for your lives. Explain how you spend the 100’s of millions of government money, tell us why you don’t encourage your children to take advantage of the opportunities handed to them on a silver platter. My children would leap at free tuition.

Idle No More doesn’t have a leg to stand on until they stop being the victim. Your culture, just like religion can be kept alive at home. You are Canadians now and need to take responsibility for your future.