We're all connected, in some way or another, to everyone and everything. Alternatively, each of us is completely detached; a disconnected, unconnected, stand-alone entity: a stadium in the middle of nowhere.
By Kevin Somers
Published August 04, 2010
We're all connected, in some way or another, to everyone and everything. Alternatively, each of us is completely detached; a disconnected, unconnected, stand-alone entity: a stadium in the middle of nowhere. The connections and disconnections are as deliberate, accidental, random, and rambling as life, a stream of consciousness, or a trip.
My daughters just returned from a PEI vacation with my parents. My mom is from there and wanted to show the girls her roots.
Her brother, George Murphy, lived his whole life a PEI potato farmer. I was born on the same day as George. The girls took this photograph of George's tombstone, which he shares with Aunt Regina.
They found it strange that Regina, who's still alive, has already booked her spot next to George.
George and Regina had seven kids together. They will always be connected.
George is my favourite boy's name. I know (of) a lot of good Georges.
Our neighbours have a son named George and he is spectacular. Instead of 'props,' George says, "Pops," and offers a tiny fist of friendship.
George Harrison was a good Beatle.
George Patrick is a good friend and great writer.
Using "The Google" and "The Internets," I've learned George Bush is the best president, ever. Better, even, than George Washington.
I recently read, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? The main characters, George and Martha, are passive-aggressive, passive, aggressive, terrific, terrible pieces of work.
A long time ago, George Brancatto was coach of the Ottawa Rough Riders. George used to chew ice cubes while pacing the sidelines with a burning intensity. I thought George was the coolest guy on earth.
George Orwell once lamented that earth seems little more than "a loony-bin made use of by some other planet."
It sure does. Putting a new stadium in a bleak, barren field near a suburb of Hamilton, for example, is pure lunacy, something only an alien could conceive, but that where it's going if we are to keep the Tiger Cats. Go, Cats!
All over the world, the overriding message from Mother Earth is contract, control appetites, conserve, consume and commute less.
We received this email recently:
Global climate change is expected to increase the average global temperature of air and oceans, melt glaciers, increase sea levels, and increase the number and intensity of extreme weather events that result in heat waves, droughts, flooding and soil erosion. These changes have already begun.
In 2009, the City undertook an Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory to keep track of how much pollution is being released by the City. Community emissions were 12,758,652 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2006, and these emissions rose to 13,131,097 tonnes by 2008, an increase of 2.9%. By 2020, if there are no programs put in place to enhance greenhouse gas emission reductions, the community's forecasted emissions will rise to 17,349,621 tonnes. This forecast is 36% above the emission levels calculated for 2006 and 56% above target of 20% reductions of 2006 levels by 2020.
The City of Hamilton is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions levels by 10% by 2012, and 20% by 2020 through its Corporate Air Quality and Climate Change Plan.
The Red Hill Valley Water Park and Expressway flooded - again - and Hamilton city officials blamed climate change, which, everyone knows, is exacerbated by paving and driving.
Everything is connected.
Oil causes more misery than religion, yet civic leaders are prepared to put the "legacy" stadium in a Stoney Creek suburb to appease the Hamilton Tiger Cats and its owner.
"The Biggest Mistake Ever" will be the stadium's legacy.
Bob Young, who owns the Cats and was described in an on-line article as a "multi-billionaire," wants a suburban facility. Bob is usually portrayed as an impish, innocent, innocuous fellow in a red hat. Perhaps, he is.
I find it hard to believe anyone could build a big, booming business, bank billions, buy a ball team, and boss around a city being benign and benevolent, but maybe.
Bob is now saying if he doesn't get his way, he'll take his Cats and his little red hats and leave town.
Maybe Bob is passive-aggressive.
Maybe Bob's an alien. I don't know. I just watch TV and speculate. I've never met the man (alien?), so I don't know.
No one really knows another, anyway. Mary-Elizabeth Harriman, for example, was married to Russell Williams for 18 years and she claims she had no idea her husband is a serial killer. My wife would know.
Bob Young, like a lot of guys, made big money in technology then bought a sports team. It's Revenge of the Nerds, over and over again.
Although people talk about it being a "business," owning a professional sports team is usually just an ego trip. Some rich dudes buy castles or cigarette boats. Some get off playing with fire and fuel: balloons, airplanes, or rockets. Some buy sports teams.
Owners in every professional league are constantly crying about losing money, so, off the hop, a potential buyer knows he is probably purchasing an expensive lemon.
To many palates, however, increasing one's profile or hobnobbing with well muscled, listening, glistening, popular, young athletes can make for tasty lemonade, so there's never a shortage of eager suitors.
If you make a bed, lie in it.
I made a bed. When we bought our house, it was encased in concrete, but we have worked to change that.
There is now a colourful (predominantly green), little oasis just outside the door. I use "junglefication" to describe the development. Since deforestation means disaster, we thought reforestation was the way to go.
Now, we enjoy low-emission "stay-cations" in "Porto Backyardo." There was a hammock on the deck, but like Ivor Wynn Stadium, it was old and worn. So, in a corner, close to trees and a climbing vine, I shoehorned in a little, outdoor bed.
Bob Young said he didn't want to "shoehorn" a stadium (Ivor Wynn's replacement) into the west end of Hamilton. I have one pair shoes that require a shoehorn. Once on they're on, they fit perfectly and are comfortable and attractive.
The new "shoehorned" bed is perfect, too. The wood cost less than $200. Although Made in China, Martha Stewart's name is all over the mattresses and cushions, which were on Sale!
I bought the mosquito net at Steel City Surplus and, using two steel bars, hung it from the pergola, so it can be easily pulled out and retracted, like a shower curtain. I took Barbie blankets my girls have outgrown and voila; an outdoor bed. Unless it rains, I sleep in it every night; under the stars, like a cowboy.
Albeit a Brokeback Mountain cowboy, given the Martha Stewart accessories, pink blankets, and netting that looks like, "A princess canopy," according to wife.
A princess canopy
Sleeping outside is wonderful. Sometimes, I think I can see my home planet, where everything is perfect. I'd say it is a spiritual experience, but Jim "the character" McHeriker and cousin Mickey get mad when I use the "s" word.
Walking is spiritual. Walking remedies obesity and depression, both of which are rapidly on the rise. Walking in the forest is especially therapeutic:
Sunlight's shining between trees
Or casting shadows on fallen leaves
I see and hear beautiful birds
While in my head I play with words
Sometimes it feels a little queer
As if good God is very near
Little else is quite as good
As being alone out in the wood
I like to disconnect from everything and walk the Bruce Trail. Alas, all along the path is broken glass.
Another dag walking the Bruce Trail in West Hamilton these days is the construction at the reservoir. ("Dag" is New Zealand slang for "downer." Dags are clumps of manure that cling to the back of sheep's legs.) Many trees are being cut down at Highland Park and there are big plans for roads and pavement. It's a dag, all right.
Thirty years ago, knee surgery required shaving the area, cutting long and deep into the flesh, pulling it back, using large and intrusive instruments to invade the body, and then having thick, sturdy sutures hold the skin together until it sticks into a big, ugly scar.
Surgery today is much less invasive.
Couldn't the same ingenuity that is applied to injury be implemented into infrastructure improvement? Couldn't it? Is it really necessary to kill so many big, beautiful, useful trees?
I don't know. I'm not the Lorax, I don't speak for the trees, but nothing wants to die. I know that.
Every year we go to Fred Eaglesmith's charity picnic at Spring Water Conservation Area. There's an amazing, rare, old-growth forest there. On a tour, the guide told us that each big tree drank about two swimming pools of water everyday.
The trees being cut down at the Res. will be replaced with pavement. I live downhill from where the trees are being murdered and I envision "swimming pools" of water running down the cement and into everyone's basement, like in Stoney Creek.
Complex problems aren't always solved with concrete solutions.
Larry Di Ianni, from Stoney Creek, is running for mayor, again. Larry pushed hard for the Red Hill Valley Water Park and Expressway that is chronically flooding Stoney Creek and costing the city more than it can afford.
I've heard Larry's beloved highway is such a money-losing disaster it might be tolled.
I believe it.
Larry recently announced his candidacy at a greenhouse and talked about his (conviction), Vespa, and vegetable garden. Larry the leopard has changed his spots, apparently, and claims he's gone green and grassroots.
I believe him.
Many feel Larry has a solid chance of winning.
Sometimes, I want to get a gun and move to an island with my dog, Doug. I'd likely starve, however. Shortly thereafter, Doug would probably eat my remains then starve, himself.
It's a grisly gun-fantasy, ultimately.
One of my favourite songs is "Time To Get a Gun." It goes:
Time to get a gun
That's what I'm thinking
I could afford one
If I did just a little less drinking
When Claire was three, her preschool teacher told us she had been singing "Time To Get a Gun" softly to herself at the sandbox.
I've always been so proud of my children.
My daughters and I were at a Tiger Cat last year when a player vomited all over centre-field: olde school, he stayed in the game. When the play moved far enough away, seagulls would swoop down and snack. The fans went wild.
Another time, a great man entertained the crowd by climbing to the top of the goalposts and doing drunken high altitude tricks.
I love that crazy nut. (Sad aside: after the game, we saw him handcuffed and sitting forlornly on the ground under the east end bleachers.)
I like how lively Hamilton fans are, too. It's not just the game that's entertaining. A suburban stadium will probably kill that atmosphere.
Undoubtedly, one of the best things about a Ticat game at Ivor Wynn is walking a few blocks through the local neighbourhoods to the stadium, but, sod the fans, parking revenue is more important.
Proponents of the suburban stadium openly lust that a dreamy "driveway-to-driveway" experience will be their legacy.
It seems surreal to even suggest that, given the expense and destruction of the car-culture.
Alien, bizarre, crazy, illogical, incongruous, irresponsible, moronic, nonsensical, outlandish, outrageous, preposterous, queer, unsmart, and zany also come to mind.
Compounding the madness: football and drinking go hand in hand. It's a common excuse to excuse the inexcusable, but "it's part of the culture," for football fans to get plastered. Everyone knows that.
Where's MADD? Why aren't they mad?
I'd never listened to local radio talk-show host, Bill Kelly, until I read in RTH that he said, "This is Hamilton, not Copenhagen," on his program. Now, as an obsessed TV addict and hardcore flicker, I stop, gawk, and study Bill for a few seconds every time I stumble onto his radio program, which is broadcast on cable TV.
Observations: radio on TV is dull; Bill wears a suit on the radio; Bill is a proponent of a suburban stadium; Bill is a former elected official and a highflying member of the community.
Conclusion: one of us is from another planet. Change channel.
Disgraced, former prime minister Brian Mulroney's son, Ben, is all over TV, too. He hosts Canadian Idol and E-Talk. Ben gossips about celebrities.
You'd think Ben, who would have had every opportunity in the world, would seek a calling higher than immersing himself in unseemly scandal, but nope.
(E-)Talk about scandal: Ben's father, the former prime minister, took envelopes stuffed with money from a shady businessman. I've seen that type of activity on "The Sopranos," a TV series about organized crime.
I chastise Ben, but it is funny witnessing mighty Mel's massive meltdown. Not since "The Road Warrior" has Gibby been so entertaining. As well, Ben's hair and clothes are always perfect, which is a notable achievement.
I used to watch The Leafs a lot, but gave up on them last year. After seeing how the NHL treated Jim Balsille and Hamilton, I've completely disconnected from the Leafs and the (morally) bankrupt, bush league. It's been liberating.
When Hamilton gets a crack and Bettman gets the sack, I'll probably be back.
I broke up with newspapers a few years ago and that's been good. The radio in my car stopped working a while back and goes unfixed. Driving in silence is refreshing; uninterrupted, quality time with the various voices in my head.
One of those voices is saying it's time to break up with the CFL and the NFL. Bob Young has tainted the CFL and the NFL operates on another planet: the St. Louis Rams, for example, just signed a rookie QB, Sam Bradford, who has a bum shoulder and hasn't taken a snap in the NFL, to a 6 year $78 million contract. Fifty million dollars is guaranteed.
I'd rather putter in the garden or watch my daughter play soccer. She has a wonderful, "plucky" team that keeps getting better. Their coaches have done an amazing job. Go, Hurricanes! She loves soccer.
Soccer's World Cup this summer was fun. I liked all the vehicles driving around with flags. Unlike drunken fistfights, it's a civilised show of support for a favourite footy franchise.
It's interesting how sports (and stadiums) can connect people, yet pit them against each other.
Like 9 - 11, Tiger, Iraq, Somali Pirates, Haiti.... soccer hooligans were all the rage for a while, but you don't hear about brawling Brits much, anymore.
Remember Haiti? According to View, less than 10% of the earthquake relief pledges have been honoured. Unfulfilled promises to the world's most desperate seems uncommonly cruel.
Here's an idea: scrap the "legacy" stadium altogether; spend half the money improving Ivor Wynn and build decent orphanages in Haiti with the rest.
That suggestion will be shut down, quickly.
My computer has been overheating and spontaneously shutting down, lately. If I forget to hit "Save," I lose everything I've been working on, sometimes for hours.
At one time, I would have tossed the piece of crap through a window then smashed it to pieces with a baseball bat, all the while cursing, blurting, hurling, and unfurling expletives and epithets that would have made Gibby blush, but not anymore.
Having children helped. So did reading Buddhist books (snippets, at least). The Buddha teaches to let go of desire and accept things as they happen. Now, when my pile of high tech junk goes black and silent, I draw a deep breath and accept it has happened for a reason.
Fred Eaglesmith said to me, "There is no past," which should have helped, but I like living in the past.
I PLAYED HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL!
Fred was on David Letterman recently. He was great.
Fred's coming to Hamilton soon; Copps Coliseum, right downtown.
We went to a few shows at The Hamilton Fringe Festival, recently, also right downtown. It was great, too.
On the first night, I went to see Nick Wallace's "10 000 000 to 1" with myself and we had a lovely time. Nick is from Vineland and is destined to become a household name well beyond the GHA.
His show was so good, I raced homed like Charlie Bucket with a Golden Ticket and told my girls about it. The three of us went that weekend and Nick was just as entertaining. On the way home, Claire, who is 11 and hates loose ends, asked over and over, "How did he do that?"
Finally, I had to say, "Claire, I told you, I have no idea. I've seen him twice and I'm more amazed and mystified than ever. Maybe, he's from another planet."
After a long, pensive pause, she said, "Great. Now, I'll be frustrated for the rest of my life."
Another Fringe play, "Emotional Baggage," is about a young man leaving Biggar, Saskatchewan, for New York City. My dad is from Biggar, so he went to see a performance with my mom.
They met David Langlois, the writer and performer, before the show and had a lovely chat. Besides Biggar, they discovered other obscure connections that had everyone shaking their head. (Have you ever heard of Van Kleeck Hill?)
My parents loved the show and asked me if I could send pictures to David, so I'm emailing them to Luke Brown, one of the organizers of The Fringe, who can forward it to David, I hope.
This is Biggar
The late, great, perfect weight, Sandra 'the curler' Schmirler is also from Biggar. Sandra won 3 Canadian championships, 3 world championships, and a gold medal in the 1998 Olympics. Sadly, Sandra died of cancer in 2000, at the age of 36, leaving two young daughters. She's one of Canada's greatest athletes.
Home of Sandra Schmirler
As well as The Fringe, Luke Brown works for Hamilton's Theatre Aquarius. I know Luke because I wrote a play last year and, being a Hamiltonian, sent it to him, as per the instructions on the Theatre Aquarius website.
I was thrilled when Luke contacted me and said he wanted to meet and discuss the play.
We, also, had a nice chat and stumbled upon some interesting connections, as well: for one, he used to watch me on TV.
Having had a teeny, tiny taste of childhood celebrity, I understand why so many small stars grow to be big black holes. I wouldn't wish it upon my wee ones.
Luke offered sound advice to improve my play: up the tension in every scene; read 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?'; remove unnecessary scenes; check out the Fringe Festival.
Except when the computer crashes, I'm enjoying the re-write.
God only knows where any of this is going.
Maybe, a big, lonely stadium in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lots and lots of parking lots with lots and lots of parking spots will be the final legacy.
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