Asbestosis and Political Apathy

Asbestos, being the lethal substance that it is, is banned in Canada yet still remains to this day a heavily exported item. One member of parliament, being the one in my riding, has no problem making this clear with me.

The issue first came to my attention from a piece done by the CBC that insightfully explained the plight of the millions of Indians currently dying a excruciatingly painfully slow death because asbestosis.

Canada exports 4 millions tonnes of asbestos each year, a third of it goes to India, and the rest goes to Russia, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.

It goes without saying, this is very criminal and highly uncharacteristic of what the Canadian government is supposed to stand for.

There’s a few glimmers of hope though, a few NDP MP’s have brought the issue up, and even Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff voiced his concern in parliament.

I wanted my MP to join the movement, but he made it no secret that he fully supports the exports of asbestos!

To my utter dismay, Jim Karygiannis (who is a ‘liberal’) tells me that we need to be mindful of the jobs in Quebec (where asbestos is mined), and Canadian businesses have to stay competitive. If we ban the exports, then India will buy asbestos from another country, and Canada will lose money. oh no.

I told him these are the low morales of a used car salesman, not the Canadian government!

He went on to use analogies such as guns being banned in Canada but we still produce and export them to other countries. In fact there is a factory in Scarborough that produces guns! Should we close it down in light of the fact that 200 families will be without food on the table?

Could he at least be more convincing in his arguing? Did I have to tell him this short sighted view doesn’t consider that those guns kills way more than 200 people, if not a lot more people around the world!

Then he gave me some silly shpeel of how the money makes the world go round, and we gotta create jobs. So why stop human trafficking? Where does ethics come to play?

But he seemed to have more insight in that regard, “I saw suffering. I was in Iraq last week,” So?

For him, money is the bottom line. The mission in Afghanistan was just to give soldiers jobs he said.

I don’t mind an opinion, but I do mind an ill-informed one. Then I checked his credentials, which was engineering. That might explain why he thinks in numbers, but that’s not an excuse.

If you live in the Scarborough/Agincourt riding, please let him know that some Canadians care about others, even if they are Indian.

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(416) 321 5454

Getting my leather boots tailored at a Good Price in Toronto!

I found the right boots at the mall last week, and like all boots, the calves area was just too large. I had to get it tailored by the right guy, but not for an arm and a leg! Some charge up to $100 for this!

Mr. Sako at Van Horne Plaza in Toronto does it for $50! And he does a good job! I thought I should take some time to praise good work as it is rare to come by these days.

He paid extra attention to every detail, measuring and repeatedly asking me if I was comfortable. He made me walk, bend down and walk some more just to make sure. It was ready in a week, and when I came to try it on it was a perfect fit! No hassle, no fuss, no muss.

I am a new proud owner of nice sleek boots. Some people argue that $50 is even too much… but I’m someone who puts emphasis in having nice things to wear. I’d rather have one pair of nice boots than 10 crummy ones! If I could, I would tailor all my clothes too!

If you live in the Toronto area and need someone to trust your expensive leather items to tailor, check out:

Mr. Sako Shoe Repair

2824 Victoria Park (Vanhorne Plaza)

(416) 491-2351

To Better Days!

I woke up earlier than usual, with a calm and clearer head, my IQ shot up by 10 points and I looked forward to the day. I felt as light as a feather, the heavy burden that’s plagued my existence suddenly gone .

Without realizing, I started to clean my room, tidying every nook and cranny. I wear nicer clothes, I comb my hair. My mother and I get along a whole lot better.

I sing more often, with more ease, with more control, like I’m flying with my voice. A burst of energy radiated from within and I am charged with motivation in my craft.

The Problem was gone for good. When I pushed The Problem away at first, it stubbornly stayed, implanting itself with promises and smiles… and even piquing my pity.

It all wore away with the mental tornado it was brewing within that would harm me, and even my family and my friends. That was the breaking point. I couldn’t fall into it anymore.  It was more harm and no good.  Then I had to make it ugly, I had to make it official. Now The Problem is really gone, leaving the orbit of my world. It’s residues stay though, serving as reminders of the haunting past and the lessons with it.

Troubled souls are best left alone. Don’t try to be a hero. There’s better things to do. I learned the hard way.

Me? A Negative Nancy?!

The other day I was informed by a former close one (with whom I severed the ties with anyway) that I was negative. In fact, unbarably negative. I was quite dismayed because I genuinely could not recall being anything but positive. But then I recalled another close friend from years ago making a similar complaint. Maybe they were onto something? But then it dawned on me that these were the same people who attempted suicide.

I decided to analyze myself anyway! I listed the subjects of my conversations as a start. Hm… I like to talk about the wonders of music, books I’ve read, character analysis, local politics and culture. Then I analyzed my blogs and I find them to be a pattern of praise and complaints (as most critical writing may come across that way).

These weren’t subjects I could share with those ones closest to me because it was no interest of them- which is why I probably started the blog, I had so much to say but nowhere to say it to. When I tried with these former friends, I didn’t really get a response. They never went to shows, doc screenings, public meetings or demonstrations with me, ever! Even when I pleaded with them! So then I asked myself, why did I carry on talking to them if I didn’t even enjoy their company?

Some people are like parasites, you don’t really want to hang out with them, but you aren’t going to be rude and push them away either. But since they have been rejected by others, they take this as a sign to stay, and you tolerate them, then you get used to them. Then you realize you’ve wasted your time. Oh my! Why haven’t I realized this before?

I’m not a negative nancy, I’m the pushover who needs the strength to say ‘fuck off’ before having to complain about it. I have the right to enjoy my free time and talk to people I actually like. Sometimes the answers are so simple it hurts!

In university, I met a lot of cool people, and I wish I pursued their friendship more, but the older you get the harder that becomes. Regardless, I am still in casual speaking terms with a lot of great people, and I should be very grateful for that. How I wish I went to their potlucks, demonstrations and fundraisers! Oh well, there will be more! And there has. Lately, I’ve been speaking to some levelheaded musicians and journalists. And with the projects I’m working on in the near future, there will be more cool people on the path! I’ll be making more docs, writing more articles, and writing and playing more songs!

And I have the freedom to do so! I’m not on jail, or addicted to heroine, or live in an oppressive country! Life is just great!

The trouble with folk music…

In the past few months, I got really lost in the world

I wonder what Mick Maloney has to say on the subject

I wonder what Mick Maloney has to say on the subject

of folk music, cramming as many songs as I can in my head, memorizing as many tunes on the mandolin.

I consult as being the official go-to for scores of all tunes. But unfortunately, not everyone sees eye to eye with this.

When playing with others, I discover they tend to play different variations. They don’t use scores, nor do they read any score at all! They learn by ‘ear’. An oral tradition of sorts!

This I discovered this fact to be the fundamental difference between folk music, and classical music. Classical music demands every note to be followed. Classical musicians work tirelessly to emulate the original sound while folk players add their own variations to their folk tunes passing it down to future generation players who also make it their own, so on and so forth until the tune doesn’t sound remotely close to how it originally was composed!

Some people find this to be the charm of folk music, but it bothers me… profoundly. It’s maybe because I come from a formal background, where everything has to be official and written on paper with no detail spared.

Apparently my whole approach is wrong. I’m in fact not supposed to sit and practice the tunes. If I want to learn them, I must try to play along with the musicians on the fly, with a skillfully trained ear. It seems like a cool talent to have, but it also seems rather… loose.

You can say you are able to play by ear, but you can’t capture every little detail! Naturally you add your own spin to the song, taking away the spirit of it!

I could try to have an open mind, but I just can’t bring myself to it. I’ll stubbornly play the songs as they were originally meant to be played, and the fellow players will eventually just have to learn how to play by ear with the official scores as set out by
… I hope that’s not bad etiquette…