Monday, December 30, 2013

Found Objects # 7: Photojournalism


Jennifer Warnes from Broadway after Hair, 1971, Aspen


As I wrote in Found Objects #2: Photos of Jackie, I was a neophyte journalist and not naturally talented with a camera. After graduation I was headed for a galvanizing experience in Aspen, where two newspapers were locked in trench warfare, so aptly described in Hunter S. Thompson's The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales From A Strange Time. 

I later wrote my experience during that time in a piece, From the Same Volcano as Hunter Thompson I recount a humiliating rookie experience fresh out of J-School.

I photographed car wrecks, rugby games, graduations, high school football games, rugby games and ladies’ wet t-shirt contests. Anything to stay away from reporting on the town's moronic politics.

One of the perks was meeting Dwight Hooker, the famed photographer of Playboy's double page spreads of the early 70s. I offered to be his guide to finding and interviewing girls for a series, Girls of Aspen. What I learned in a few days with Mr. Hooker could fill a library.

One of my first assignments for our paper was to photograph Jennifer Warnes fresh off the run of Hair, in which she starred.


Taken during interview with Jennifer Warnes.


Jane Dornacker
This singer was a much beloved entertainer in San Francisco's Castro District circa 1974. Being fans we got a ring side table to see her Leila and the Snakes in performance of "Don't Touch Me There", which she co-wrote for The Tubes.



A crowd favorite: "Don't Touch Me There."

The Boy and the Whale

I heard on the radio that a Blue Whale had washed up on the beach near Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. We beat the crowds and I got this shot of a boy contemplating the whale. This photo was later published by Friends of the Earth in "Progress As If Survival Mattered". 1977.




Boy surveys a dead Blue Whale 

There are literally hundreds more slides waiting to be investigated. A box is no place for memories. 

 



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Found Object #6: Brazilian Magic






The painting embodies for me a Brazilian's approach to life. 

You see this in futebol, bossa nova, samba, carnival, fireworks, the beach, street singing and dancing. Everything is a sacrament to the senses.

Their movements are mirrored in smiles, and the way their bodies embrace a slow sexy dance with a cheeky flourish and a twinkle in the eyes. 

Life is measured in a steady beat, like when the evening waves wash up on the shore at crespucolo.

16”  41cm
12” 31cm
paper
Acrylic


This painting, ironically, has a life of its own.

Not only had it spent a lot of time as a half-finished painting in a box for two decades, but it had been confined to a sketch book that had seen better days. 

When I finally retrieved it I put it on a shelf in a small closet, where it lingered, and at one point was crushed and torn. Soon, it was destined for the trash. 

The painting would pay the price for my resistance to opening myself up to the art it was calling me to.

Then one day it virtually flew from its perch on the shelf and landed across my feet. The painting was happily finished over the summer 2013.

Whose to say it was not a bit of Brazilian magic.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Found Object #5: Somalian Sunrise

When I painted “Faduma's Ritual”, I envisioned Faduma Ali, a Somalian woman, standing on a minaret in a moment of deep reflection.

At the time of the painting I was writing a biography of the Duke of the Abruzzi

Faduma Ali had known the Duke all her life, first as a young girl who lived in the village the young prince had created.

Throughout the years, the Duke’s arrivals in the village was a time of great celebration.  The girl might have trekked to the coast and stood there awaiting the arrival of the ship's commander.

Faduma, a woman of considerable beauty, would later begin a romance with the Duke and eventually they would live as a couple until his death.

The painting reminds me of my own rituals spent longing for someone or something we don't have a word to express.

12” 31 cm
9” 24” cm
Acryic


Faduma's Ritual is a companion piece to Toil.

They had both been rescued from a box headed to a dump.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Found Object #4: Two Views of a Greek Isle



The scene was inspired by the fishermen of Naxos, a Greek island in the Cyclades of the Mediterranean. 

Toil was painted over a number of months, some years after visiting Greece in the early 80s.

The two fishermen continue to fish while the other boats lie in harbor. It could be early morning and perhaps these fishermen had already caught the best fish.

Or the scene might suggest the end of a long day like every other day, in which they had not caught as much as the other fishmermen, who were home enjoying their fresh fish. 

During the days, I spun stories like these on the beach, often after following Dionysius and his denizens around Naxos in a night of frivolity.

Today’s hardworking residents of Naxos bear little resemblance to Dionysus, who knew nothing about toil.

As I applied the paint to the canvas, I was the one who was now checking my metaphorical nets twice a day to see if I’d caught anything.  The painting taught me something about daily toil.

12” 31 cm
9” 24” cm
Acryic


Toil was recently discovered in a box devoted to last-minute packing decisions made under duress.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Found Objects #3: A View of the Lake District



This photo looks out on sheep grazing in the fields and country lanes at the foot of the Fells in the Lake District of Northwest England.

I took the photo from a window in a B&B run by a family of self-proclaimed gypsies.

Returning from a run in the Fells, it was nice to see a table in the room set with delicious scones  garnished in crème and cherries, and served promptly at 4 pm along with a pot of dark English tea.

Shot with Nikon FE on Kodak Color film.
19 ¾” width (51 cm)
28 ¾ lenth  (73 cm)
Mounted on hardwood surface

This photo was yet another object that was recently discovered rolled up and tossed in a box and forgotten. 

The paper was dusty and torn. It had been stored in the box since 1982.

The original color transparency had been taken 30 years before, then made into an inter-negative, and printed on a single sheet of photo paper.

Now I will be able to look out a window and see this beautiful scene.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Found Objects #2: Photos of Jackie

These three photos are my first rolls of film. I took them as part of a photography class assignment. I was using a box camera at the time. 



My composition of the negatives was poor, no sense of depth of field and the weeds in the foreground were blurry.  I got a D+ for the assignment. Yet this would set the stage for my later becoming a photojournalist and having my work published. I would also meet and work with well known photographers over the years who would greatly influence my work.

My model for this particular shoot was Jackie Cox, my girl friend from Littleton, Colorado. We were attending Colorado State University. 




What is this for again?


How long this going to take?

We done yet?


Found: three 2 1/2" x 2 1/2 negatives
taken between 1966-1967
City Park, Ft. Collins, Colorado

I found these negatives in a box sitting squashed underneath several pounds of paper layered with dust. I nearly tossed them into the trash, but then decided to get the negatives developed. I am so glad, because the result was a lasting and wonderful memory.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

6 Reasons Why I Grudgingly Admire Vladimir Putin


Putin the Apparatchik

I have written previous blog posts about Vladimir Putin’s lack of compassion with his government's cruel treatment of the Pussy Riot Girls, who are in their second year in a remote Russian gulag. This is Vladimir the KGB thug.  

But then I read Putin's opinion piece in the New York Times. It revealed a side to the man that is rarely seen. He is erudite, charming and cheeky. Other reasons I admire this new Putin:

#1. Russian president Vladimir Putin is a martial artist in judo. He used this in a body slam to the Americans with his piece in the TimesHe illustrated a clever way for a world leader to deliver a message. 

#2. Putin does not play golf, a game of the American bourgeois. He is by nature short, smaller than the legend he has artfully built. He hunts and fishes. He is a student of English. He wears his heart on his sleeve when he is around beautiful women. Sometimes, he’s just being a guy.

#3. Putin’s remark about American exceptionalism was as calculated and practiced as any judo move. He articulated what many world leaders feel but won’t say in public. (I agree with Putin's assessment because I came from a generation of men who know exceptionalism by its real name: imperialism.)

#4. As a life long apparatchik, Putin does not miss much. If not judo, his every move is a calculated chess move. He would not play this game if he didn't think he could win. So far, he’s made a splash. I hope he keeps writing opinions about America. Our freedom of speech might rub off on him.

#5. Putin has attracted the admiration of American ultra-right Republican toadies. It will be interesting to see how Putin plays the capitalists stupid then spits them out.

#6. As a Russian, Putin thoroughly understands irony and paradox. It's refreshing to see complexity in a world leader who is not so easily flummoxed. He is all about composure. He exudes his power. At international summits he emerges as the only adult in the room.

 Putin understands his time in the limelight is limited. He is enjoying his celebrity on the world stage. Maybe, just maybe he might be able to meet fellow Russian, Irina Shayk.
  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Found Objects: Curating a Life of Lost Art


This is a story of a man who felt abandoned by his Muse, his talents, his metaphorical lovers. Over the course of a turbulent departure, and a very long interval in a foreign land, he eventually returns to find new inspiration from what he had left behind. After all, it was he who abandoned his very self. 

Now he finds he is curating his own life from the found objects secreted in boxes he once felt had no worth. 

He discovers new dimensions of himself in the array of his gleaming treasures – the un-produced screenplays, the unpublished novels, the un-blogged blogs… the countless short stories / plays / poems / lyrics / photographs / paintings…  These are his personal works of art and artistry, his mind and heart, his true loves.

This is a story of a man who realizes, in the process of finding himself, an unintended consequence of these treasures: his work has taken on more than a newly inspired meaning; it has become an exhibition of priceless worth.

 
Watching Paint Dry- M.Shandrick


Found Object #1
Watching Paint Dry
*       10 ½” w X 13 ½”
*       acrylic
 
This worn canvas was found underneath a pile of papers in a box, some 20 years after it was painted. It had survived several moves and storage facilities before its discovery in 2012.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hazards of Writing On A Beach In Rio

End of the day at Ipanema

The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers by Moritz Thomsen was a memoir travelogue I was reading during my travel to Brazil. The book came into my hands at a particularly propitious time from a friend. He travels a great deal and thought I could use the book as an inspiration.

I soon discovered from the book that I had come to Rio about the same age as Thomsen, who visited the city in the Seventies. His life and viewpoints were similar to my own. Soon enough I began to write a modest travel blog in the same style as his wonderful travel classic. 


Tomsen refers to his title as the state of paradox, of his being in two worlds at the same time, arriving and leaving, always conflicted by the joy of arrival and sadness beyond words of departure. 


My early writings in Temporary Carioca were done while sitting on the beach. The early notes were difficult to read because I had spilled a beer on them while sampling tasty beach edibles under an umbrella at Ipanema.  


Then once, a wave crashed nearby and got my paper wet.  The waves were persistent in calling me from work to play. And so I did. 


Daily I rode a bicycle to the beach, had a coconut drink and quickly succumbed to the allure of the Brasilian waters and never ending array of beautiful women to watch.


Much of what I wrote in my six months of posts was truly inspired and I am grateful to myself for the wisdom to keep writing these posts. Especially now as the years go by.


I will continue to add posts from stories that were not published in Temporary Carioca in this blog, Michael Shandrick.
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Look Back At August 2012 and What's Happened Since

Detroit Now a Third World City


The Ruins of a Once Great City

On August 4, 2012, I wrote my first posting,  “U.S. Now A Banana Republic”. This post could have been written off as a rant by political comedian Bill Maher were it not for the fact that the entire state of Michigan is now in deep water economically and the city of Detroit is in default and bankrupt.  It has come to pass that the city cannot be saved.  Both the American system of government and the economic system resemble an oligarchy more than a capitalistic democracy. Remember: America came up with the Marshall Plan after World War II -- and now we can't save Detroit or New Orleans. Maybe the Detroit city fathers should turn the Detroit football stadium into a soccer stadium. All third world countries have soccer.  

What is Really Going On In Rio?

Last year, one of my first posting was about Julia Michaels who was writing about the turbulent changes going on in Rio de Janeiro in her blog Rio Real. She wanted to know how, with all the changes, could there still be parallel improvements in income equality and social justice.  She saw potential change amid so much chaos, so she kept asking: "Will It Last?" Julia got her answer just last month when a few million people across Brazil took to the streets to protest the changes that had disrupted their lives. The police are in disarray, the people in Rio are looking to dump their city officials and construction has come to a virtual halt on Olympic and World Cup projects. What happened to the promised social justice programs that were supposed to be built in tandem with the new soccer stadiums? For the answer: Read Julia's most recent posting.

Don't Go to Russia If You Are Gay

Vladimir Putin, evidently no longer worried that a handful of young female punk rockers could topple his regime, has moved on to torment gay people in Russia. With two of the Pussy Riot Girls remaining in a Soviet-era gulag the past year, Putin's new assault on civil liberties sets the stage for a Nazi-style repression unseen since Hitler began rounding up the gays and gypsies in the late 1930s. In any event, no one has told Putin yet that parading around bare chested after taking off his shirt at every public event is pretty gay by most standards. Putin himself no longer has control of events. Olympic organizers are giving Vancouver another look as an alternate site for the 2014 Winter Olympics, already plagued with delays and corruption and Soviet politics.


Arsene Wenger Refuses to Break Vow of Silence

A year ago the Arsenal manager lost his best player from the squad in a heart-breaking defection to Manchester United, which won the English Premier League title with the help of the striker's outstanding season. Meanwhile, Wenger's team struggled to a fourth-place finish and narrowly made it into the Champions League without a striker who could take Arsenal to a championship. Wenger endured several public protests in the streets by fans who wanted him fired. With the new season set to begin in several weeks, Wenger is no closer to landing a top striker. At one point Wenger had his choice of five of the world's best. In my post, "What Is Wenger Not Telling Arsenal Fans?” I thought he would have explained his reasons for not signing someone. He has chosen silence.  I am going to answer the question for Wenger: “ I’m not going to bankrupt the club chasing an over-rated striker who wants $50 million US to play for Arsenal." It's a reason he's often used in the past, but not one fans want to hear again.




Friday, August 2, 2013

Pope Stops Time In Rio

Time stopped during Pope's visit



Pope Francis during his trip to Brazil created a miracle when he stopped time in Rio. 

City authorities noticed that during the pontiff's visit that the famous Hublot clock is now stuck at 365 days in its countdown. 


Will all work stop now on the Copa 
 It is now 11 months until the 2014 World Cup begins in Brazil.

It is not known whether work will continue on World Cup construction if the clock cannot be fixed. 

Already delayed by numerous obstacles, including mass demonstrations weeks before, World Cup organizers face further delays in construction, including a massive clean-up after millions of Catholics went to Copacabana beach to attend masses.




Friday, July 26, 2013

First Anniversary For Gonzo Blog



Author Michael Shandrick



On August 4, 2012, I wrote my first posting,  “The U.S. Now A Banana Republic” . It was my first attempt at a topical (news worthy) blog. That piece garnered a modest 40 page views.

As of today (July 29, 2013) I have received more than 5,000 views from 34 posts.

Here are my most popular posts over the past year:


These three posts took an in-depth look at how Hollywood and Wall Street banksters have ruined America’s visual effects industry by reaping profits from ruined companies and then selling assets to foreign buyers.


Two companion posts illustrate how Moneyball keeps paying off for the underdog Oakland A’ baseball team during last season’s dramatic finish – and now the A's are at it once again.


These posts examine how math is changing soccer, politics and baseball.



If you are new to the blog, I invite you to take a peek at 33 posts:  http://michaelshandrick.blogspot.ca/

For my supporters: Thank you. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why I'm Not Going to the World Cup in 2014





The fires are out but the protests continue in Brazil


I stand in solidarity with Brazilians, like the young woman who made the video in the link (above). She refuses to support 2014 World Cup. Her video now has 3.3 million hits.

I say good riddance to FIFA and their fellow corrupt cronies, property developers and cement moguls who line their pockets with all the money that should have been spent on higher teacher salaries, better schools, more hospitals and health care centers for the elderly and poor.

Those projects are still in the promise stage. 

At least this was one of the many promises Dilma Rouseff made when she was running for president in 2010. The government had promised it would devote an equivalent amount spent on building new stadiums on adequate low-cost social housing. To date, all the stadiums are nearly built. Rouseff’s political PT party, the Workers Party, has forgotten those promises to improve the lives of its citizens.

The riots across Brazil was a reminder to her government of those early promises.

But why riot now?

It was the culmination of many causes, of which transportation clearly played a role.

As bad as driving is in Rio --in perpetual gridlock -- it is far better than having to take the public buses. Most drivers are poorly paid and rarely trained. The drivers are driving on very narrow streets that were built for carriages 500 years ago by the Portuguese. The roads in are finally wearing out but there's no space for new lanes.

I know this as a bicyclist in Rio for six months. I learned quickly that to survive on a bike, it is necessary to understand that there is no courtesy for bikes or pedestrians. Rarely does a cyclist find a bike lane. A cyclist has to compete with motorbikes, as well as cars and buses. 

Biking actually provides the best mobility in a city in love with its cars. For the infirm and elderly, the buses are the least popular option.

I rode the buses daily. They are old and breaking down under the crush of people and lack of maintenance. Several months ago a woman was raped on a bus and no one could stop it. In another incident a man came on the bus and fought with the driver, causing the driver to swerve and drive off a bridge killing several passengers.

As in the US, the elderly, students, the working class and the poorest comprise bus ridership. Then, on the heels of these incidents described above, Rio’s transportation bureaucrats decided to raise bus fares, an equivalent of ten cents. 

What does it cost for a police escort of FIFA officials from and to the airport?

During my stay in Rio I found that Brazilians are general are slow to burn, given the inconvenience of getting around the city. They are always getting hit with a new fare, a tax, a fee, and bolsa, a word covering a wide number of corrupt ways to get your money. Maybe the bus fare was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Being middle class is a slippery slope. People are beginning to wonder: why are the only people to suffer are those least able pay. They are witnessing the “divide”.

 

On one side are the prominent and on the other are the poor who live from day to day in places where hope had fled decades ago. 


In the middle is a perception that you could fall even further into the gaping void of the poor. Why would you want to be reminded of them sitting next to you on the bus. There is no air conditioning.

 

To fill in for the aging buses, mini cabs began appearing on the road this several years ago.They are unlicensed vehicles owned and operated by gangs or drug syndicates to launder money. They operate like taxis but are not approved or regulated by the city.

 

If you are stuck when a bus is not on schedule or is broken down, your “ride” is a mini cab and you share it in a dark confined space with others. The charges vary and have to be negotiated several times during a ride.

 

I wrote about the swindles in my Temporary Carioca blog about trying to get up the Corcavado by one of these gangster mini cabs. The price for bringing you down the mountain would increase once you were at the top.

 

Thousands of tourists are fleeced this way every day by these shady drivers. Until recently, commuters took their lives in their hands by commuting in them. When a female tourist was raped by people in a mini cab, stories began coming out that this had been going on for some time.

 

The city, state and federal authorities made more inquiries and studies. The only action to this point was that the mini cabs were banished from the streets. And still there is no alternative to the old buses.

 

Meanwhile, more new stadiums are being built, along with luxury condos and big hotels. Really, was this a good time to introduce a fare hike on the poorest?

 

Somewhere in Rio and Sao Palo, there is a tire burning, sending black smoke into the air. It is a reminder of a fire fight between a police invasion and trafikers. And it has become worse now that the UPP, once a peace keeping force that has morfed into an invasion force.

 

A couple of months ago in the North and Western Zones of Rio the favela residents began filming these invasions to show the public how they live.

 

Formerly, the trafickers would protect residents from the police, but now that more favelas are pacified, the lines are beginning to blur. 


In a recent invasion, the UPP used tear gas, pepper spray to disperse a crowd then shot into the crowd. From the video footage, there was no measured response to favela people protesting the invasion. The video showed a 10-year-old boy lying in his blood.

 

In another UPP action, Indians had been forced from their traditional homes in Rio to make way for a new condo development. The Indians made a make-shift shelter to house them in the old Maracana stadium. When the "pacification" force arrived the Indians protested peacefully, but were brutally beaten.


Was this a good time to have a Confederations Cup with blood still on the streets?

Part III: 

 

For the first time in Brazil’s history, the international soccer team will be on the wrong side of its people.


 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why Is Rio Burning ?


I visited Rocinha before it was pacified. The favela comprises 150,000 residents

People don’t just pour into the streets by the millions for no reason.
Especially, the Carioca. In more than 100 cities across Brazil protests broke out during the week of June 20. 

The last time this many Brazilians gathered in the streets of Rio was just 24 years ago. At the time they were celebrating the fall of the country's brutal military dictatorship. For most, the protests were their first taste of freedom.

Over the past two and a half decades the people have been provoked and sometimes they took to the streets. But this new protest movement that began on June 20 is different, it has no name or label. No one claims to have organized it. It's not about transportation fare hikes. The causes are innumerable.

Brazilians have become quite accustomed to washing their dirty laundry in public with so much corruption at every level of government. At the same time, the Carioca remain people of a guiles, peurile nature. They have learned to be tolerant and have adapted. Yet, with this new movement, something has pissed them off in a big way. For once, they don't care that the rest of the world is watching.

Never having fought in a war for independence or any war for that matter, Brazilians treasure their family and peace. Their culture demands it. How else could such a complex culture survive without a civil war. The races, sects and nationalities, the rich and the poor blend in on occasion with uncompromising equanimity, creating a country that is both benevolent and violent in times of uncertainty. 

Brazil ranks first in the number of people using Facebook. It took the normally easy going Brazilians just three years to wire the country from one end to the other. Now Brazilians are on the verge of taking on a $400 billion upgrade to its shipping ports, airports, railways, roads and bridges, a feat that only China could match for sheer audacity.

In the face of this, the Brazilian middle class and working class have found they are being squeezed like the people in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The bankers are pushing for austerity while the middle class is feeling the pinch on wages and standard of living.

They have seen too many friends move away in search of jobs and neighborhood businesses closing up. Too many services have been uprooted. Low cost housing is a thing of the past in Rio. Entire city blocks of affordable housing are being destroyed and replaced by luxury condos.

More and more Carioca are losing their jobs once thought secure. Food is becoming more expensive, along with basic services. Brazil, which has a shaky history with inflation at best, has slowed down its investment in small business. Once lavish and fashionable malls sit nearly empty.

Somewhere there was a miscalculation. 

Against the backdrop of unprecedented propaganda about Brazil becoming a rising world power and hosting the World Cup of Soccer (futebol) next year in Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games two years later, Brazilians are asking themselves "What is happening?"

One of those asking is Julia Michaels who began a blog to answer questions often lingering the minds of Rio citizens. In Rio Real she wondered if Rio could really pull it off. Moreover, would the good intentions, harmony and collaboration continue.

"Her question all along was: “Would it last?”

She took a micro-view at the city and state of Rio de Janeiro, focusing on the many small steps being taken during its dramatic revitalization. She met with city planners, the foot soldiers in the battle to balance the huge infrastructure projects.

What she found was that the inevitable “divide” was rising over the city in recent months. Her blog reveals a chilling trend and tragic unfolding amid so much confusion, money and hype.

When the protesters emerged into the streets last week, Ms. Michaels saw a diversity of protesters, many of them young. She was asking, “Who are these young people?”

It will take time for the smoke to clear from a fire that had been burning for years. There is no easy remedy. This new movement with no name is a coalition comprising many movements.

I lived in Rio for six months. I was a temporary Carioca, the name of a blog I wrote at the time. When tens of thousands of Rio residents, middle class and poor turned out, I wasn't too surprised from all that I had seen in my time there. Upon reflection, I could see the new movement was a perfect storm.


Next Post:  Why is Rio Burning Now?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inmates Running the Asylum in Canada

NOTE:
On May 31, 2013 the B.C. government announced it would not support the Enbridge pipeline project. While this is seen as a major win for  environmentalists, the backers of the project, especially Prime Minister Harper and his conservatives buddies in the Alberta Oil Sands lobby, will continue to push their agenda. 

Hopefully, the environmentalists won't go to sleep, which they are prone to doing. Anyone concerned must keep asking the question: is it sustainable to keep gouging the earth for fossil fuels at a time when climate change has accelerated?

We share the planet, even with oil barons, but we must take a stand to balance our concerns with big oilogarchies which usually get everything they want.

Remain vigilant for any backdoor compromises over the 5 steps that Enbridge could not guarantee. The oil and gas people will no doubt try to change the narrative and turn public attention against the B.C. government through a battering ram of fear-mongering advertisements on the Internet and regular media. Take a stand.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE INMATES ARE pretty much in control of this nut house. Only here we call the crazies "elected officials". 

For starters, the Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t explain his role in a money laundering scheme in which his staff paid Senator Mike Duffy $90,000 to help the Senator with debts he incurred on "party business" at various Conservative Party functions. The word "scandal" is being used liberally the past two weeks. Harper continues to evade further investigation, calling the cash discrepancy politically inspired. What is known is that Harper asked his chief of staff to walk the plank for him. Now the entire staff at the PMO are on alert looking over their shoulders to see who is next to be pushed under a bus or has to take a bullet for the boss. As long as there are enough staffers Harper won't have to talk about it. . .

THE PMO SCANDAL should have dominated the news but the focus shifted when the Mayor of Toronto grabbed the headlines for the past week. Allegedly, Rob Ford snorted crack and was caught on video with persons known to police. Ford, a right-wing radio talk show host can't be impeached and somehow has remained popular among his listeners and constituents. Stephen Harper is relieved to see his own scandal has disappeared from the news media. . .

WHILE FENDING OFF reporters PM Harper has been busy at the Bank of Canada discussing the issue of a new $90,000 currency note. . .

ASIDE FROM LAUNDERING conservative cash, PM Harper is busy dismantling CBC, the country’s last public communications network. Harper has been trying for years to get rid of what he views as a far left cable channel. Now that the CBC is being de-fanged, Peter Mansbridge, the CBC news anchor and host, introduced a piece of film taken of Harper in 2005 when he first became the Prime Minister. In the film Harper made a speech in which he said that any person associated with scandal over financial dealings would be immediately expelled from the party. The look on Mansbridge’s face told the full story: "Ok, Mister Harper. We’re still waiting. Clear out your desk. We’re having somebody escort you to your car."

APATHY WINS A MAJORITY in British Columbia. With 3,116, 626 registered voters in B.C. only 23 % voted for the winning party, the Liberals. This was the lowest total turnout of any provincial election in B.C. history, 48 percent of registered eligible voters never even bothered. Christy Clark, a single hockey mom, took over the provincial Liberal party in 2011 when the last premier was found in a cave writing frantic press releases and talking to killer whales. Clark, despite trailing by 20 points in the polls, won a majority on a policy platform of “family values”. Before she had a chance to celebrate her win, an aide tapped Ms. Clark on the shoulder with the bad news, “Madam Premier, you lost your seat in West Point Grey.”  Ms. Clark cannot open the provincial legislature until some backbencher is paid to fall on his sword in a “safe” riding. Avid readers of this blog may recall in my last three-dot column that I suggested this might happen. . .
ALBERTA’S  OIL RICH lobbyists are pumping millions of $$$ into social media site like music and film. The campaign in B.C comprises scores of YouTube videos promising the younger demographic to get stoked about job security working in the oil sands and earning a steady income when the revenues kick in. Only problem with that, the young people stayed home during the election and the hype may be lost on them. Nevertheless, they will see a tidal wave of ads aimed at them. The Alberta oil and gas lobbyists are hitting the lamestream television and radio shows to illustrate how British Columbia can become one of the largest oil colonies in the world. Read: Blue-Eyed Arabs. . .

WHAT DOES A Liberal stand for in today’s Canada? Energy development? Clark did not win with the Liberal vote alone. In a post mortem survey of the 2013 election in B.C. Clark was swept to victory by wooing conservative voters to vote for her overwhelmingly. . .
JOBS TRUMP CLIMATE change is the message from the business elites at the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce.  Oh, yeah, remember FIPA ? This was Harper's plan all along to bring Asian workers to work in B.C. as part of a sweeping trade deal with China. 

IN CANADA the provinces have jurisdiction over the development and the export of resources. PM Harper wants to change all that. The man who will make this happen has an eerily sounding name like a Bond villain. Mr. Lounds. He and his British Columbians for International Prosperity  is a murky conglomerate of international heavy oil barons representing oil pipelines, heavy oil construction, oil tankers and dams. Lounds is leading what he calls the fight "against environmentalists". With such friends as Lounds, Harper and his federal conservatives, it looks like lots of suits will be unpacking their bags for a long stay in B.C. over coming months and years to make sure Madam Clark is walking the federal line. 

THE CHRISTY CLARK two-step will look something like this: she will promise jobs with her new pipeline agenda but will begin her next session in the legislature, (presuming she can find a riding to win in), by cutting the provincial budgets for social welfare, unions wage increases and education. She’s already turned her back on raising tax subsidies on the once healthy film industry in B.C. forcing a lot of skilled talent to leave the province. As of this writing, Ms. Clark is still calling herself a Liberal.