Monday, August 22, 2011

Memories of Jack

I woke up this morning to find out Jack Layton had died. My first thought was "No! This can't be!" You see, I had planned out Canada's future, and Jack was going to beat his cancer. He was going to be our next prime minister.

That's not going to happen now... and since he'll never have a chance to screw it up, I'll always think of him as the best PM Canada never had.

Even when I felt disillusioned about the state of our country, Jack got me caring again. Caring about him as a leader, about the progressive values he stood for, about the potential of politics to make changes for the good in our country and our world.

I'm proud to have had him as my local politician. I remember when he was my city councillor, and he was always willing to stop and chat. When I was on student council in grade 8, he worked with us to put up more street signs and change speed limits around our school. I remember his failed campaign against Dennis Mills, happening right as I was becoming more politically aware. I was about 13 years old, and just starting to get a sense of what all this politics stuff was about. I remember Jack answering my questions and teaching me a bit about politics, and what MPs did. I remember his rival trying to convince me to get my mom to vote for him, as he did every election. Jack wasn't like that. He was concerned with my interests and instilling in me the same passion he had for politics, not about seeking the votes of my family.

I remember in 2003 when Jack became leader of the NDP. I was bursting with excitement. My city councillor! The guy who got me interested in politics in the first place was going to be leader of the NDP! I remember going to the party the NDP threw at a local restaurant to celebrate. I forget what exactly I said to Jack, something fanboyish and over exuberant, but he responded in kind, telling me that it gave him goosebumps seeing young people so excited about politics.

I volunteered on that campaign, proudly putting up signs. It was an exciting election to be a part of, especially with such a narrow victory.

I can't find the poll data now, but I remember every election that Jack ran as leader showing that Canada trusted him more than any other federal leader, that more people thought he would be a good leader than any of the others.

I wish he could have had the chance to show the people of Canada that they were right.

Thanks Jack, for everything. We couldn't ask for more from you. You stood up for us on parliament hill, you fought off cancer for the right to stand up for us again. You changed the political fabric of our country, and inspired so many of us. You'll be missed, but your legacy will live on in all of us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Sermon

My pattern so far has been to post my sermons on my blog. My most recent sermon's a bit more personal, and I don't want to put it out for everyone in the wide world to see. If you're interested in reading it, send me an e-mail, or leave a comment and it'll find its way to you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

25 Things.

1. I'm constantly wanting to blog, but can never seem to get it done. When I look at things I've written, I'm quite happy with them, but I can still never seem to get the ball rolling and get myself writing in volume. Maybe caving into this 25 thing will get my juices flowing.

2. A large part of why I'm uncomfortable blogging is because I become aware of everyone that could be reading it. When I write, or even have conversations with people I want to be able to be vulnerable. I want to be able to share myself. When I'm blogging, I have much less control than I'd like, and that makes me nervous. I've already nixed a bunch of things I was thinking of putting down as one of my '25 things' because I've realized there are people on my friends list that I don't want knowing certain things. I don't like thinking that way.

3. I really loved Chicago. At the same time, it made me very uncomfortable. It's very, very segregated. But man, the buildings, the people, the train. After visiting a bunch of big cities, I've gotta say, I enjoy Chicago the most. It really felt like if I looked up, I might see a superhero flying by. It's that kinda town. Much more so than New York, or D.C. (or, sigh... Toronto.)

4. I really hope at some point in my life the little niggling voice in the back of my head calling me a fake will shut the fuck up.

5. That being said, I'm really happy being me. I've got my foibles. I've got my things about myself that I wish were different, that I wish were easier to change... But... I really do enjoy being me. If you told me during high school that I'd say this, I don't think I'd believe you... but I'm very glad I'm me. I have a lot of fun in this body, in this head.

6. I think #4 is the first time I've cursed publicly on Facebook. Maybe even the internet at large. Feels kind of liberating.

7. #6 was originally something different that I've deleted.

8. I want to be a vegetarian, but I enjoy meat way too much, and I don't enjoy eating most vegetables. I really ought to just buck up and do it. I'm sure over time I'd come to appreciate vegetables more.

9. I wish I knew my grandfather. He died before I was born. When my dad was my age, his dad was dead. I learned a lot about my grandpa in the past week, reading letters and editorials he wrote. If I ever start actually blogging, I've got an entry about him rolling around in my head, waiting to come out.

10. I hated being supervisor at Centreville. Absolutely hated it. I learned a lot. I learned SO much, so I can't say I wish I'd never done it. But man... some people are just not meant for management. I'm not. There's other ways I can contribute to society. Earlier today I talked to Jeff, gave my official 'I ain't coming back' notice. It felt very, very good. Best of luck to whoever takes over.

11. I'm very good at meeting people I want to meet. Especially writers. I love going into the science-fiction/fantasy section of a bookstore with someone and just pointing out the various writers I've met, or at least had e-mail contact with. "I met that one, and I've e-mailed back and forth with that one, and I had an hour long coffee with that guy, and I got that one to send a personal happy birthday message to my girlfriend at the time, and that one came to my workplace, and I gave them a tour." Frikkin awesome.

12. I still have Geoff Sadlier's Halo soundtrack and Warcraft Three. I really, really, really need to get those back to him.

13. I miss being in college. That's not quite right... I miss the connections I made while in college. I still occasionally try and think up life paths that'll lead me back there, so that I can spend more than one or two weeks a year out West.

14. If I ever do get married, Finbar's gonna be the best man.

15. Sometimes there's nothing more in the world that I want to do than kiss someone. Or just hold someone's hand. Or cuddle. It's been a while. And I don't feel lonely or desperate or anything. At least... not for more than a couple minutes every once in a while, anyway... but it'd be nice to have companionship of the 'not only friends' variety.

16. I have ridden the entire Chicago Rail Transit System. Every line, every stop. It was awesome, and surprisingly therapeutic. I wish Toronto's subway was elevated through downtown.

17. I may or may not delete 15 and replace it with something else before I post this.

18. I wish I wouldn't get upset when my mother shows concern for me.

19. My dad is one of my best friends. I love that I can say that.

20. I want to explore Toronto more than I do... It feels like I know the neighbourhoods of Manhattan more than I do my own city... I haven't been to High Park in years, and years, and years. I could probably count on my hands the number of times I've been to Kensington Market. I hardly ever go West of Bathurst. West of Yonge, I rarely go North unless for business. This needs to change.

21. I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. I had no idea that watching football could be so much fun! It was an awesome game, and my first time watching a football game from beginning to end. Even though I wanted Arizona to win, I feel more than satisfied with the whole experience. Even without American Super Bowl commercials!

22. I'm not good at preserving friendships when I'm not around. Which really sucks, being the nomadic, constantly moving around guy that I am. But at least when I come back, the friendships have always still been there. So far.

23. I have ridden Vortex at Canada's Wonderland 20 times in a row without getting up out of my seat. It was amazing. I still remember the look of the light of the sunset shining on the mountain, getting a glimpse of the beautiful sunset itself for one brief second as the roller coaster turned the corner at top of the mountain, then plunging down. After that, watching the night get darker and darker while riding again, and again, and again. With the way Wonderland's gotten busier since that summer 7 years ago, I don't know if I'll *ever* be able to do that again. Here's hoping.

24. This one's kind of grim... but as a CPTer, I'm supposed to think about messages to leave for people if I get taken hostage, or killed in the line of peacework. I've somewhat seriously thought about recording a plea to Joss Whedon to be sent to him in the event of my death, asking him to continue Firefly somehow in my memory.

25. I'm about to embark on another three-day Greyhound journey. They can be hit or miss. Sometimes I meet lots of crazy awesome people, (like in my blog entry from over a year ago) sometimes I just sit on the bus and read and sleep for three days. I hope this is one of those crazy-awesome times. I'm in a friend-making mood.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I don't know how to start this...

These past couple days... I've never experienced ANYthing like this.
The excitement, the hope, the passion, the anticipation.
Being surrounded by Americans waiting to hear Obama to speak in Virginia, just feeling the electricity sparking through the crowd.
Hanging out in a bar in D.C with my hostel buddies, surrounded by locals going crazy (with a girl who works for a political organization at the next table exlplaining the ins and outs of everything that was happening. And after the win...

The streets of DC erupted. It was like a sports win, but even more so. Cars racing, honking through the streets, people running and jumping up and down and cheering. We went to the street in front of the white house, and it was just packed. Every age, every ethnicity, every sociala class just coming together and celebrating. People were hugging me and jumping into my arms. People were shaking each others hands, almost in tears, just thanking them for having voted. People were singing. It was like a protest, but instead of everyone being angry, everyone was overjoyed. We sang Goodbye to Bush, we were chanting 'Yes We Did'. It was overwhelming. It was amazing. It was everything and more of what I was hoping for in coming to DC during the election.

I know Obama ain't perfect. I know he's no Messiah figure, and things aren't going to change as much as I'm hoping as fast as I'd want.


But. The way this election brought people together astounds me. Everyone I've talked to here is so proud to have voted, so happy, so on fire for being a part of the process. I saw men in suits debating politics with a homeless man, I saw... man, it was awesome.

In other news, I've discovered I really don't care all that much for the history of Air and Space... (that museum was a bit of a dud for me.) But the 'Newseum' absolutely fascinated me. The Newseum is probably my favourite place in DC now. I'll write more about it another time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

DC - day one.

This is gonna be a CRAZY week.

New York was for the culture and people of the city.

Pennsylvania was for family.

DC is gonna be hanging out with crazy travellers.

My first night in, I'm hanging out with this guy who's an amazing spraypaint artist. He's selling his art on the streets of DC - I might be his assistant for a day. He's absolutely off his rocker, but we've really hit it off. I also make friends with this guy who's absolutely obsessed with ADD. He has it himself, and is... well, I won't go into details, but he's fascinating.

I spent most of today at various monuments and the Holocaust memorial, but the real highlight was this evening, going to a free concert in the National Art Gallery with a bunch of other people from my hostel. The concert was nuts. 16th century chamber music, with quite graphically sexual songs mixed in with the praise songs. "I want to make love to you all night. I'll thrust you like a ram" "If we had 45 beds, we'd use them all up. We'd destroy them with the force of our lovemaking" All in Italian and Dutch and French of course.

A bunch of us went for a couple drinks afterwards. I convinced everyone to go to a local brewpub. It was no C'est What, that's for sure. D.C's supposed to have some great beer hidden away somewhere in the city. Hopefully I'll find it before I go.

Tomorrow, I'll be tagging along with the painter. The day after that is election day. Apparently Georgetown University will be a great place to watch election results, so a bunch of us from the hostel are going to head down there. Pictures soon!

Update.... NYC through Penn

Whoo.... s'been a while.

Rest of New York: Highlight - spending a couple hours talking to a Hare Krishna monk. Awesome guy, and I hope I run into him again some day.

Pennsylvania: Wow, I'd forgotten how awesome my extended family was. I had an absolutely fantastic week catching up with Aunts and Uncles and cousins. I spent most of my time with my uncle Dan and aunt Mim in suburban Lancaster, a couple days with my aunt Lois and uncle Tom - who brews his own beer. I biked through beautiful farmland, startled a couple cows, ate the best pretzel of my life, hiked up a small mountain, spent more time with a house cat than ever before, volunteered for the Obama campaign, saw the church my grandpa preached at, saw the motel my grandpa built, watched a ballet, and visited a life size model of a wilderness tabernacle.

I also really felt part of a bloodline. Everyone I met out there told me I looked just like a Wert - and everyone compared me to my cousin Doug. I also got to see my cousins Doug, Cindy and Heidi - it's been years and years since I've seen any of them. I sat down and chatted with Cindy for an hour... I don't think I've ever spent that sort of one on one time with her before.

I also got to meet Heidi's kids. One for the first time, the other for the first time since she was... only a couple months old, I think... Maybe a year...

All in all, it was an amazing week. NYC was fun and memorable... this was family, and important.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

NYC Days 4 + 5.

Yesterday was... how to describe it?

Coming to New York, I was going to be a tourist. There's no going around it. I'm an outsider who's come to see what it's like being in the big city. But I didn't want to be a typical tourist. I wanted to see things differently, go at it from a different angle. And yesterday was about as untypical a day as I could have had, I think.

It started off normally enough. I did some more of my walking tours, checking out SoHo. I didn't realize what an impact Jane Jacobs had had on downtown Manhattan. Go local team! But it also made me sad. So much of what I was reading in the guidebook was 'This awesome place used to be here, and that awesome place used to be there, until tourists brought in boutique shops and high rents pushed all the cool people away.' SoHo had awesome architecture. More Cast Iron buildings still standing there than anywhere else in the world. But where it was once a neighbourhood for starving artists, it - like pretty much all of Manhattan - is now a playground for the super rich.

After, I did another self guided tour of Greenwich Village. A lot of the names of writers I wasn't familiar with, but one of the items on the tour was the house that Edgar Allen Poe lived in. I was quite to excited to see it, but when I got there, there was a giant boring looking building - an extension of NYU's law school. A reconstructed facade of 'The Poe House was a part of the structure... but inside was just a non-descript white room with some glass cases filled with memorabilia. I was quite upset, and wasn't sure I wanted to do the rest of the tour, if all I was going to see was reconstructions and sites where the actual building had been torn down. The next stop on the tour was 'The Provincetown Playhouse', where the playwright Eugene O'Neill got his start, among many, many others. This place was still up, but with demolition orders on it, and scaffolding surrounding it. On the other side of the street was a group of people protesting the demolition. They handed me a sign, and I joined in, spending the morning chanting chants and hearing speeches about the culture of the city. It was incredible. I think I was the only non-local of the bunch. Reverend Billy, of the Church of No Shopping was there, as well as a bunch of people struggling against the gentrificationi and Disneyfication of the city.

After the protest, I had lunch with Reverend Billy. He's an actor who uses the role of bombastic pentecostal preacher to preach against consumerism. It's something to watch... I haven't seen it myself, but there's a documentary that follows him and his 'choir'. It's called 'What Would Jesus Buy', produced by Morgan Spurlock, of 'Super Size Me'. I told him about Leslieville's fight against Big Box stores, and he wants to come down and help out if there's still a chance of stopping it.

During the evening, I went to an Irish pub that only serves Guinness on draught, nothing else. They have the old 'Guinness is good for you' posters slapped all over the place. A Bluegrass band was jamming together - absolutely fantastic, but no one else was there other than me and the jammers. It was incredible to watch and listen to them teaching and encouraging each other, figuring out how to do new things together. They recommended a bunch of places for me to go to, so all my evenings have now been spoken for till I leave. I'll be going to the Rockwood tonight, the Rodeo on Wednesday, and back to the Irish place on thursday to hear some traditional Irish folk music, with someone who's apparently the best Irish fiddler in the city playing.