On this day in 1939 John Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, England and the futures in absurdity went through the roof. John had a few witty things to say over the years including “He who laughs most, learns best” and “I think that the real religion is about the understanding that if we can only still our egos for a few seconds, we might have a chance of experiencing something that is divine in nature. But in order to do that, we have to slice away at our egos and try to get them down to a manageable size, and then still work some practiced light meditation. So real religion is about reducing our egos, whereas all the churches are interested in is egotistical activities, like getting as many members and raising as much money and becoming as important and high-profile and influential as possible. All of which are egotistical attitudes. So how can you have an egotistical organization trying to teach a non-egotistical ideal? It makes no sense, unless you regard religion as crowd control. What I think most organized religion—simply crowd control.” and “I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. ” and “I can do anything I want, I’m eccentric!” and “I think the problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.” and “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” and “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” Dead/Not Dead John celebrates his 75th birthday today. One final word: “We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” Oh I almost forgot, “Your Mother was A Hamster and your Father Smelled of elder berries”
“It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages around the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.” – Nikola Tesla October 1909
Another piece from Free Wild Samples, a series of short videos employing found sound and images I made in early 2014. Tesla As a Boy is 3:11. Click pic to watch.
In early 1964, Winnipeg’s 580 CKY ran a promotion to have a Manitoba town officially change its name to Seekaywye, Manitoba. Thereafter the station would promote the tourist aspects of its namesake. Two towns seriously vied for the title, each held local votes about the name change.
Binscarth, in western Manitoba out on Hwy 16 just south of Russell, was one of the towns. La Riviere on Hwy #3 in southern Manitoba was the other. To demonstrate their sincerity local businesses were encouraged to change their names to incorporate something about the radio station. Binscarth spawned two related businesses: 580 Plumbing and Heating and the 580 Hotel (left).
However, it was not to be. The June 6, 1964 issue of Billboard magazine reported the residents of Binscarth had narrowly voted down changing their name but only by 10 votes. When offered the same deal by CKY, La Riviere residents also voted down the renaming.
My hometown is just down the road from Binscarth. I delivered fuel to a service station there in my youth, for years afterward seeing the billboard for the 580 Hotel by the side of the highway.
Read about my radio career here.
“Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now. And to generate heat not light is the intention. To keep everybody in the helpless state engendered by prolonged mental rutting is the effect of many ads and much entertainment alike.” Opening paragraph of Preface to The Mechanical Bride, Marshall McLuhan, 1951.
In April 1977 Marshall McLuhan visited Brandon as part of Mosaic Massey, an event arranged by Vincent Massey High School. The Brandon Sun published a lifestyle article about McLuhan’s visit written by Wayne Boyce. The feature begins, “One doesn’t interview Marshall McLuhan. One merely shakes his hand, sits and listens.” The second paragraph begins, “It simply doesn’t matter if a listener agrees or not… McLuhan has not come to argue. He has come to think out loud.”
While being driven around Brandon, McLuhan suggests the city could become an international city because, “It isn’t overburdened with 19th century hardware and doesn’t have a stake in the old.”
Personal Aside: However, Brandon isn’t an international city despite its delusions of pretending to be something it isn’t: a big city. Brandon succumbed to big city woes: a gutted downtown, urban sprawl, congested traffic, homelessness, no-brainers like a shopping mall on a frequent flood plain and the location of their new fire hall between the river and railroad tracks. Urban sprawl is so rampant Brandon should be renamed Mortgage Heights. Brandon has lost its identity as a rural hub.
Back to 1977: McLuhan rejects the claim he’s a seer or futurist. “I make observations, not theories. They call me the prophet of the electronic age but I’m merely an observer. My work predicts what has already happened.”
Boyce ends the article with this observation, “The total effect is to stimulate thinking. He does that well. McLuhan’s thoughts help us find the freedom to do that.”
Both photographs were taken during McLuhan’s Brandon visit by Stu Philips.
Watch my McLuhan Mash-Up called “Everybody Is With It.” It’s a minute twenty.
Imagine Winnipeg in its boomtown days – 1890 to 1915. The population grew by thousands every month. Immigrants, mainly from Europe, converged here, some passed through for points south, west or north. Others saw their opportunity in this brand new city at the confluence of two old rivers.
Over two decades of post-railway bustle that changed a floodplain into a city, almost fifty schools were built to educate all those new western Canadian children. Between 1900 and 1913, school enrolment increased 200%, from 7,500 to 22,000. By contrast, enrolment during the 1950s baby boom increased 25%.
One of Winnipeg’s grandest old schools from the boomtown era is La Verendrye School (left, not long after it opened) in Fort Rouge. Though residential and business areas quickly grew up around it, when it opened in 1909 La Verendrye School was on the outskirts of the city. Reporting on the school’s cornerstone laying on July 8, 1909 by Ward 1 Trustee F.C. Hubbard, the Manitoba Free Press reported, “Yesterday visitors journeyed to the ground or within 100 yards of it by electric car and found there was still something of Winnipeg beyond them, though the streets lose some of their garb of traffic and dwellings are hidden in areas of native bush.”
In the early 1900s, education was viewed as a panacea for ignorance and the buildings in which it occurred had to reflect that optimism and hope. In contrast to the few wood frame homes around it, the scale and solid mass of La Verendrye School still provides a feeling of promise and stability.
Centred perfectly between Jessie Avenue and Warsaw Avenue on Lilac Street, the location takes full advantage of having an empty square block without competing buildings. Based on a design by School Division Architect and Commissioner of School Buildings J. B. Mitchell and constructed of local materials, La Verendrye School is a commingling of Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival and Classical Revival architectural styles.
The school’s weathered exterior is pale dun-coloured brick with Tyndall stone trim set on a raised limestone foundation. The façade features end wings with wide semi-circular windows accentuating Dutch gables (right).
The front entrance (left) is very formal with a shallow pilastered portico topped with a cut stone balustrade. Above that an arched tri-part window leads the eye upward toward the school name carved in stone and beyond to the dramatic arch with ball pinnacles (below).
The side entrance on the north side of the building (left) has a deeper portico with similar balustrade under a Dutch gable with a bull’s-eye window. The south side entrance is obscured by the gym.
Mitchell’s objectives were student safety and adequate natural lighting. The corridors are wide with plenty of exits and large windows flood the classrooms with light. Though not the originals, the façade features leaded stained glass windows. Most of the rooms still have original pressed tin ceilings.
The total cost to construct the 20-room school was $81,184. Contractors Saul and Irish were paid $69,920 to build the school. The Steam Power and Heating Company got $10,200 to install the state-of-the-art heating and ventilation systems with stylish arched vertical vents midway up the walls, a giant step up from rooms heated by stoves. Though proposed, a third floor caretaker’s suite was never built.
The school’s first principal was David Merritt Duncan (left). Duncan had been classics master at Winnipeg Collegiate Institute and later would principal at the new Kelvin Technical High School. A founder of the Community Chest, Duncan became Superintendent of Schools for the Division in 1929, succeeding Daniel McIntyre.
Obliged to accommodate mentally handicapped children, the school system struggled to find workable solutions. In 1914, La Verendrye School was the site of a program called “Opportunity” which brought handicapped children together in special classes. Over the next decade, various methods were tried, with 300 children attending classes by 1926.
Anna Gibson, who had a school named for her, was a novice teacher at La Verendrye School in 1918 when the Spanish flu hit Manitoba. She volunteered to help in a hospital and succumbed to the flu within a few weeks.
The gym was added onto the south side in 1964, a benefit to the students that offered the drawback of precluding the building from being named a heritage site. In the late 1980s, the school was saved from demolition by an area parents group.
Operated as a high school for two years, La Verendrye became an elementary school to handle the overflow from Fort Rouge School. Today La Verendrye is the oldest school in Winnipeg School Division continuously used for students.
Among La Verendrye School’s century plus of alumni, you will find Terry Fox’s father, Rolly and artist Nathan Carlson.
Named after early Quebec explorer, Pierre Gaultier de Verennes, La Verendrye School is one of a handful of early schools not named after stalwarts of the British Empire. Since 1983, the school has offered French Immersion classes for Nursery to Grade 6 students. Today 310 students attend École La Verendrye taught by 31 teachers.
The centennial of La Verendrye School occurred in 2009. To quote the school’s website, “In June 2009, École La Vérendrye celebrated its centennial with a major community barbecue and carnival, as well as numerous historical projects. A circa-1909 heritage classroom was made a permanent part of the school, offering students from across the Division a chance to experience history in an immersive environment.” Due to increased enrolment since the centennial the heritage classroom no longer exists as it was needed for a regular classroom.
La Verendrye School
Materials: buff brick and limestone
Style: Queen Anne, Classical Revival two-storey
Architect: J. B. Mitchell
Contractors: Saul and Irish
Original cost $81,184
Current assessed value $3,240,000
Acreage 3 acres
Greetings Fandoolants and Fandoolettas,
Your bud Shirty checking in wit cha from the ether world of sub-moronic fail music and custodial wincing which will blow your hair back if you got any left anywhere on your body. Custodial wincing is the latest health rage out here on the launching pad, Brutish Churlumpia. Listening to dumb music to feel smart is only the beginning. This billion dollar baby is waiting to be delivered, long overdue, angry and punching from the inside. Hand me the scalpel.
Speaking of that I have developed a burping disorder that, after arduous medical and semi-medical testing using needles, electrodes and penal insertions, turns out to be caused by an excess amount of hummus in my diet. (If you’re wearing a cap right now, hummus is like dog food for people.) I’ve joined HA (Hummus Anonymous) hoping to kick the habit and the burping. I’ll keep you apprised.
My shrink, Doctor Unequipped, says all is well and being beaten on my testicles is an important part of my cure. I’m beginning to have my doubts. I think he jumped on the S&M bandwagon too soon and is regretting it now. He can regret it more though.
Career-wise my new company, Chump Change for Judy, is growing like mad. I’ve hired six new debriefers to keep the underwear flowing in a downward direction. The only other position open right now is Smelling Organizer. If you like feces, go for it.
Six new bands that sound exactly the same have joined my talent roster at Turd Polishing International. TPI is overflowing with effulgent these days and the charts are reflecting it. Three of my acts have Top Ten hits on three diverse music charts:
- The Litter Box Lions are Number Four on the Petulant Pet Top Ten with Fancy Feast Fiesta, a jolly instrumental with plenty of scratching, yowling and burying;
- Poon Tang Lagoon are Number Two this week on the Nudists Who Eat Beef at the Beach Top Ten with I’m Itchy, You’re Itchy, Live With It, a ska romp that will be still be played a hundred years from now;
- Dave Clark Five tribute band, the Dave Clark Fivish are Number One on the Worst Tribute Bands Ever Top Ten with their version of Bites and Polices.
Bulletin! Bulletin! Just signed last night after sufficient coaxing and cajoling, the Tar Paper Wrappers are now part of the TPI herd! Their first release, Sandra Has Lice, I Feel Bilious will be out next week. Download with the upcode and thou shalt be wrapped! Click the pic for a TPW teaser.
Been doing some goose hunting. Only been goosed twice so slow season so far.
Check out custodial wincing for sure!
Keep your plunder dry.
Disturbing our practice.
Don’t treat me like practice.
Tell them sorry I have practice.
Practice chaos and disorder.
Click pic to practice.
Practice til later.
Companion video explaining how it works