Son of a Camp Doctor

On the road, on the road to Camp Fresh Air, with never a heartache, with never a care! That’s the song my family sang all the way from our home in Windsor, Ontario, to Camp Tamarack, a Fresh Air Society Camp, in Southern Michigan. In suburban Windsor, the cars and trucks relentlessly propel themselves back … Read more

Mr. Rogers’ War Against Superheroes

Like Cyclops, the Beast, Iceman, I was waiting for my mutant powers to kick in. Or, like Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive arachnid, to transform into Spider-Man. For 10 cents a month, I could join in the crime fighting capers of Marvel Comic Books, a mini empire based in the exotic skyscraper culture of … Read more

School’s Out Forever

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks! I remember the chant we sang many years ago as summer was upon us. But with the advent of the digital era, kids aren’t tossing out pencils and books. They’re connecting to the fire of social media and texting, hitched to laptops, tablets and … Read more

Damn the Torpedoes

From September 1997 to July 1998, I lived in New York’s Alphabet City, casually observing the punk scene. It was pre-gentrification, and the Bowery, home of CBGB, reeked of the urine of drunks. Black leather chimed in with body piercings. It was a gritty, cartoon scene with bands bashing out three-chord songs, riding their hopes … Read more

The Real Truth about October

October is a month of disguise and discovery. Green trees transform to a golden hue, and migratory birds take wing. Its culmination is the joyous celebration of the magical night of Halloween when costumed children pursue tricks and treats. Do we take on new personas every day? People are creative and dress up daily to … Read more

There are Places I Remember

I have heard some great music at historic venues. Some of these places are gone and exist in memories: Detroit’s Grand Riviera, Toronto’s Montréal Bistro, and Larry’s Hideaway. Then in March 2016, the Brunswick House in the Annex area of Toronto closed and was reopened as a Rexall pharmacy. Like The Beatles sang: There are places … Read more

Digging for Discretionary Gold in Margaritaville

There were pot shots from media types when Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings announced its launch into the realm of active adult communities. A Billboard writer quipped: “At some point, even Parrotheads need to add a bit of qualified nursing care to their routine of endless mai tais and cheeseburgers.” A commentator at the eco-friendly Mother … Read more

Old Man Take a Look at My Life

  Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were. I need someone to love me the whole day through. Old Man. Neil Young I phone the pharmacy and I’m put on hold to the 1972 tune Old Man. My fingers brush across my thinning hairline, as I remember myself as a … Read more

The Day the Music Died

February made me shiver with every paper I’d deliver I was a paperboy when I was 12. It was 1964, and I learned the delivery ropes from Hank, a Grade 8 friend. The trick was to bundle all the papers in advance, then deliver them as quickly as possible, get maximum pay for minimum time. … Read more

26 New Ways to Teach the ABCs

Today’s students – K through college – represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Marc Prensky. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. 2001. … Read more

imagine, again …

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.  There will be candle light vigils in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields and across the world to remember the dreamer who was murdered outside the Dakota Apartments in Manhattan 36 years ago. There will be reports about him, scattered amidst the latest tweets and cabinet appointments of … Read more

JFK: A Toast to Those Who Are Gone

Here’s a song to those who are gone with never a reason why. A toast of the wine at the end of the line and a toll of the bell for the next one to die. Phil Ochs. There’s the old question: Where were you when John F. Kennedy died? It’s something boomers and their … Read more

Anniversary of My Father’s Birth

My father was born on October 29, 1921 in Toronto. He passed away on October 29, 1981 in Windsor. Dad lived exactly 60 years. In the Bible, it’s written that Moses was born in Egypt and died on Mount Nebo within sight of the Promised Land on his 120th birthday. Dad lived exactly one half … Read more

Follow You Follow Me

Phil Collins announced his retirement in 2011. As the drummer and singer of Genesis, and as a solo artist, he’d been bankable for decades. A classic. He had nothing to prove on the rock scene and didn’t need the money. He left the music business facing the occupational hazards of his trade. Neural problems in … Read more

The Calm Inside the Machine

I’m gonna put music in your pocket. A thousand songs. Because I can’t stand looking at that inexplicable Walkman anymore. You’re carrying around a brick playing a cassette tape. We’re not savages. Steve Jobs to his daughter Lisa. From the movie: Steve Jobs I had a Sony boombox for a 1984 road trip across Canada … Read more

If I Had $1,000,000 for My Bucket List

Youth comes but once in a lifetime. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow If I had a million dollars I’d become a Millennial for one day, wear Beats headsets, and listen night and day to electronica, synthpop, nu-disco, house, and future bass. I’d wear my hair in a bun and sport a fuzzy beard. My frayed jeans would … Read more

My Grandparents ~ Greatly Loving, Greatly Loved

Top Ten sounds pour from my AM transistor radio as I snack on Fritos and Ruffles. Comic books, populated with mutant crime fighters, freewheel from panel to panel. Older boys toss mini footballs on the boulevard. My fingers trace expeditions of explorers and mapmakers on the living room globe. La Salle trail blazes around the … Read more

Dylan at 75

Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn? Shelter from the Storm Dylan, the bard of a generation, is three quarters of a century old. As a teenage camper at hootenannies, his early socially conscious songs were riveting for me – Blowin’ in the Wind, The Times They Are a-Changin’, A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna … Read more

Pet Sounds at 50

On May 16, 1966, Capitol Records released Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. It was the first concept album, influencing The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the rock opera Tommy by The Who. 60s pop changed from a Top Ten singles based industry to an LP approach that challenged artists and their … Read more

The Queen and I

Queen Elizabeth II turns 90. I was born in Canada in November 1952.  Earlier that year, the queen ascended to the throne, eventually becoming the longest reigning sovereign in British history. When I entered Grade One, the framed picture of my glamourous, twenty-something ruler was on perpetual display. We proudly sang God Save the Queen. A daydreamer … Read more

Across the Universe

He was usually beaten down from a hard day at the office. Mom would ask him how his day had gone. “Oh, a lot of screaming kids, as usual.” Screaming kids were inevitable at Dad’s pediatric practice, the piercing needles from a formidable man in a white lab coat. But tonight his cheeks were bright and his grin wide as he … Read more

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin, can you tell me where he’s gone? Dion Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marks the birth of the civil rights leader on January 15, 1929. Though his life was short – he died at 39 on April 4, 1968 by assassination – his legacy is enshrined in an era … Read more