Monthly Archives: March 2011

Stonewall Post Office

Stonewall Post Office, Centre Avenue & Main Street, Stonewall, MB

              Modest in size, exemplary in design and gargantun in provenance, Stonewall Post Office is among my  favourite Manitoba heritage buildings.  Francis Conroy Sullivan (1882–1929), one of Canada’s pioneer practitioners of the Prairie School style, designed the building. His inspiration was Frank Lloyd Wright (1869–1959), the renowned Chicago architect and originator of the Prairie School which achieved widespread acceptance from 1900–1914. Today, it stands as Manitoba’s foremost example of Prairie School architecture and only known surviving example of Prairie School institutional architecture in the province. 

         The Dominion of Canada Public Works Department chose a prominent corner in Stonewall’s streetscape and built this little beauty using local Stonewall limestone in 1914-15. It was used as the community’s post office until 1978.

        Prairie School characteristics abound here. Notice the combination of rough and smooth limestone all around the building and the interplay between them. The low boxy massing with flat roof uses powerful horizontal lines in several ways to accentuate the prairie horizon: four belt courses of smooth limestone, one at the cornice, two below and one just above the low foundation, the heavy modillions along the cornice and the broken limestone lintels under the windows. 

     Typically the facade is balanced and symmetrical with modest yet effective geometric details. The wide stairs are flanked by platforms and shallow round planters. Though small in size, the building has an impressive presence as you ascend the front stairs. The windows all around are narrow and separated by smooth limestone, which is also used on the quoins. All openings are deeply recessed.   

                                                                                                                                                     The The side view of the place is an exhilerating display of balance and symmetry with windows of various widths, horizontal banding and the various stone textures. Interesting treatment of the basement windows.

 The rear of the building carries on the geometric detailing and interplay of limestone textures to stunning effect.

         What is it about this place that turns my crank? For me, the best architecture is a brilliant conversation between space and place. I love the sympathy Stonewall Post Office displays toward the prairie environment honouring the horizon with great intentionality, the sensual textures of its natural stone cut from the local soil, its prominence and how comfortable the building looks, settled into the streetscape.

        Stonewall Post Office bears federal and provincial heritage designation.

        “Architects may come and architects may go and never change your point of view.” Watch a video featuring pictures of Frank Lloyd Wright creations while Simon & Garfunkel sing So Long Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Itinerary Item

 Reid Dickie

  10:23 am

Prince Philip presents gold certificates to achievers assembled in clusters.

   “What did you achieve?” the woman standing next to me asks. She smells of expensive perfume and gin. Her wild green eyes are suspicious of my turban.

    “I delivered food to starving Ugandan children. And you?”

    She stares at me. Her nostrils flare wide, her mouth opens to speak but she says nothing. Huffily she turns away as I notice a tiny patch of bright green leaves sprout in the hair on her left temple.

“What did you achieve?” she quizzes the short man on metal crutches on her other side.

“I started a public awareness campaign that led to the provincial government recognizing the special needs of disabled employees. And you?”

Turning away, a look of disgust traces across her lips as a short green stem pokes out of the collar of her green dress.

She demonstrates her distaste for the other achievers in her cluster by exuding a slightly rotted vegetable smell. I take a step away from her, as do others.

When the Prince hands her the gold certificate she is visibly shaken and he has to grasp her arm to steady her. At his touch, she recovers instantly, becoming gracious and humble.

“What did you achieve?” the old prince asks.

“I’m the missing link between the plant and animal kingdoms,” she says.

“How nice for you, dear.” The Prince smiles and moves on.

A tiny red rose blossoms behind her ear.

Hear me read it on video.

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I’m Now a Double Blogger

       Papa’s got a brand new blog!

      As if one blog wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I now have two! The new blog is much different from readreidread and has a specialized theme –  the history of my hometown Shoal Lake, Manitoba.

        The genesis of Shoal Lake History goes back to my hospital stay in January when I had plenty of time to reflect on my life and identify any loose ends that were dangling in front of me. One loose end was all this stuff I’d written about my hometown that was never published anywhere. What better place than a blog to share the little town’s history! 

         It’s a WordPress blog at www.shoallakehistory.com and uses the 2010 Theme which is more than adequate for my needs. I wrote a short article for the hometown paper about the new site. Here it is:

New Website Devoted to Shoal Lake History

             From the North-West Mounted Police to the Manitoba and North-Western Railway, from dirt-poor settlers to self-made millionaires, from world-class butter to the last scalp taken in Manitoba, all the tragedy and the achievement comes alive online at Shoal Lake History.

            Created and written by author and former Shoal Lake resident Reid Dickie, the site (actually a WordPress blog: http://www.shoallakehistory.com) makes Shoal Lake History available to the world. The new site contains seventy-seven stories and feature articles about the town’s past and over 100 pictures depicting Shoal Lake through the decades.

             “While I was researching feature articles for Crossroads This Week before and during the centennial, I unearthed some wonderful stories about Shoal Lake that needed to be told,” says Dickie. “I’m especially fond of the sixty Shoal Lake Minutes, short articles on specific events or people which each take about a minute to read. Overall, it’s an easy-to-read format and very user-friendly.”

            When asked why he created the blog, Dickie, who recently retired, said, “I have the time, the energy, the resources and the interest. Plus it’s hard to retire from something I never saw as being work.”

            He’s also repaying a debt. “I spent eleven years, from age 8 to 19, growing up in Shoal Lake in the Sixties. They were formative years. Later in my writer’s life, I found my memories of the little town to be a goldmine for stories, situations and characters. The least I can do as payback is help people remember where they come from. That’s my legacy to Shoal Lake.” 

            What’s the future of the Shoal Lake History site? “I see it as an onus blog,” says Dickie.” By that I mean, I’ve done some research, written some articles and created the site. I’ll occasionally add to it but now the onus is on current and former residents of Shoal Lake, or anyone who has an interest in the little town’s history, to add new and fresh material.” Asked what kind of material he hoped people would submit, Dickie replied, “Personal stories, short or long articles, updates, historical pictures, family histories, school projects – anything related to Shoal Lake’s past from any era. All contributors will be published and credited. Details are on the site’s About page.”

            Dickie hopes that histories from Oakburn and Kelloe will be submitted as there is little about them presently on the site. He also sees the site as having potential for educational use, perhaps as teaching aid for local history in the schools and library.

            “It’s like a virtual Shoal Lake Historical Society,” says Dickie. Shoal Lake History can be found online at www.shoallakehistory.com

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Little Nurses League

Reid Dickie

            In 1890s Winnipeg, if you had nine brothers and sisters, likely only five, possibly six of you would survive to adulthood. Communicable diseases encouraged by lack of hygiene caused frequent child mortality. Children routinely died of measles and typhoid. In 1904, one in seven infants died in their first year; by 1912, it was one in five.

To combat this abnormally high infant mortality rate, the Winnipeg Public Health Department was created in 1900. Efforts focused on educating mothers, many of them non-English speaking immigrants, about proper hygiene and handling of milk. In 1910 a Safe Milk Dispensary began distributing free pasteurized milk to poor new mothers. Only moderately successful, the infant mortality rate stayed high.

The Health Department developed a more aggressive education campaign distributing pamphlets in several languages on topics such as sanitation, household management and food safety. After 1912, public health institutions like the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission began conducting home visitations and instruction. Margaret Scott, founder of the Nursing Mission, read about the Little Nurses League and recognized its usefulness in Winnipeg.

The Little Nurses League, interchangeably called the Little Mothers Movement, was an international movement in the early 1900s that began in New York City and spread across the U.S., Canada and Britain. Through the Little Nurses League, nurses went into schools to teach young girls preventative measures and proper baby care.

Adopted as a permanent component of schoolwork, the Little Nurses League gave girls ten years and older specific instruction on modern aspects of childcare. At home, school age girls often cared for their younger siblings so the League employed a teaching technique that proved to be quick and effective: they used dolls as babies.

The girls became change agents, taking their new knowledge home and using it when tending their brothers and sisters. They educated their mothers, overcoming the barriers of literacy and language the nurses experienced when visiting homes. The program also advanced the socialization of a young generation of new Canadians while successfully reducing the infant mortality rate.

In 1912, the first schools to participate in the Little Nurses League were Aberdeen and Strathcona. Winnipeg School Division #1 developed a School Health Department designed to offer a range of medical services to students including physical examinations, vision testing, dental, First Aid and mental capability testing. By 1937, the Division had 14 school nurses who made 5,000 visits to schools and 15,000 to homes. The Little Nurses League that year trained 270 girls in 15 classes.

The Division’s School Health Department was integrated into the City of Winnipeg Health Department in 1941. Services to schools expanded with more staff (30 nurses by 1942), X-ray examinations and sex education.

Not only was the Little Nurses League a boon to immigrant families, it demonstrated the need for effective health care that involved the whole community equally. The League was also successful in educating people about their roles and responsibilities to their families, communities and new country.

Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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DickTool Undancin’ Fools

An excerpt from “Mechanical Bliss,” “Modern Dance” is two pieces of undancing with an expressionist influence in the exaggerated monochrome and the looming shadows, illuminated with a slide projector plus two spotlights.  For the “dragging” dance (“a woman’s work is never done” – from our notes in Linda’s hand) we used the sound of take-offs and landings on a mighty American aircraft carrier as our music. As with all dance this is wide open to interpretation though we won’t be starting a new dance craze or win dance contests with either one. Click here to dance.

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Manitoba Heritage House

Two-storey buff brick,  Roland, MB

         Boy, did I catch the right light on this Queen Anne style beauty! The detailing is rich and varied on this old house. Let‘s start at the top. The large gabled dormer on the front has dark brown shingles under the eave giving a perfect background to the elaborate and delicate bargeboard at the gable end. The medium pitched roof works wonders with the rest of the mass. On the front and sunny side of the house, the embellishments are many. Every opening has a brick label over it dripping with pendants. It appears there was a peaked porch over the door which would have shielded the oval window next to the door which is oddly missing its keystone. It matches the oval window between the second floor windows with its short spokes. The quoins on the corners are captured well here by the sunlight and shadow. On the shady side the window decoration is continued as are the quoins and the brick detailing. Overall brickwork is standard running bond. The main floor dissolves in the green hedge.

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Learning English Sisler’s Way

Reid Dickie

             In early 1900s, immigrants from Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Ireland and China flooded into Winnipeg. One of the great challenges of the time was to teach them the English language as quickly as possible.

Strathcona School built 1904

In 1905, William Sisler became principal of newly opened Strathcona School at McGregor and Burrows, a role he’d fill for the next 16 years. Sisler came face to face with the problem of teaching English to a classroom of children who may speak 20 different languages by teachers who speak none of them.

Though cumbersome and only moderately effective, the phonetic method of teaching English was the accepted way of the time, requiring segregation of students into language groups. Sisler had a better idea. He called it the “direct method.”

The “direct method” took a lateral approach to diversity, appealing to all languages equally and simultaneously using pictures, objects and actions experienced by the students to build a vocabulary. Lessons were written on blackboards, easy songs and crafts provided repetition and references, students had individual gardens to teach them the names and ways of plants. Actions created meaning and repetition facilitated remembering, the result was English. The “direct method” was so effective it spread to other schools in Manitoba and beyond.

William J. Sisler 1868-1956

Being an honourable stalwart of the British Empire, Sisler insisted on military training with brightly dressed cadets doing drills. He encouraged sports for all his students and created opportunities for individual development, all of which helped generations of new Canadians find their linguistic way in their new home.

Noticing the trend among new immigrants for older teenagers to be out working rather than getting a rudimentary education in English and customs, Sisler convinced the school board to open Evening Schools. His night school idea was an immediate success with 200 showing up the first night, poignantly, many with day students holding their hands and helping them adapt.

Born near Newmarket, Ontario, young Bill Sisler came west working construction for the CPR when he was 18. He attended Winnipeg Collegiate Institute and later Trinity Medical College. He received his teaching certificate from Winnipeg Normal School.

For his stellar work at Strathcona, Daniel McIntyre, Superintendent of Schools, recognized Sisler as an exceptionally creative and engaging educator. In 1921, he chose Sisler to principal the first school in Winnipeg built

Dr. Daniel McIntyre 1852-1946

specifically as a junior high, Isaac Newton Junior High School. Sisler even got to name this precedent-setting school, choosing the British scientist/mathematician whom he held in considerable esteem.

Sisler stayed at Isaac Newton for 16 years during which it became a high school in 1933. He retired in 1938. In retirement, he authored several books: Peaceful Invasion in 1944, which details the challenges of teaching English to non-English students, and Pioneers of Rockwood and Woodlands in 1949. Peaceful Invasion is available in the Local History Room of the Millennium Library.

A few months after Sisler died in 1956, Sisler High School opened. Ironically, the opening of Sisler High resulted in Isaac Newton returning to its original role as a junior high, as it was when Sisler was its principal.

Sisler’s original life plan had been to teach only until he raised enough money to finish his medical education. Luckily for innumerable students thirsty to learn, while at Squirrel Creek School, Sisler decided to stick with teaching.

Find many more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Mid-Century Winnipeg – Stereo Swap Shop Ad

Stereo Swap Shop TV Ad  

            Linda worked with Nancy Granda at the Stereo Swap Shop, located at Osborne and Gertrude, in the late 1970s before she opened IF… The Swap Home, as Linda called it, was the centre of the world for many Winnipeg music fans and collectors. I spent untold hours studying album covers there. The Swap Shop ran this commercial on the all-night movies that CKND-TV had in the early 1980s. Linda and I wrote and produced it. We only used album covers with people’s faces on them, like Rita Jean Bodine, which I believe I purchased at the Swap Shop!

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What did Chris find?

I am constantly amazed at how much we can learn about ourselves by writing honestly. My friend Chris has posted an addendum to yesterday’s article, “Have I Found What I’m Looking For? Please read it here.

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Sacred Places and Consciousness Part 1

Reid Dickie

 

PART ONE

“Holy places lie dormant for long periods because that which created the place

 waits and watches for a time when certain historic moments occur and conditions

 are set in place, conditions which allow wisdom to come through certain people

who will bring it forth into the consciousness of that era.”

 – Joseph Rael aka Beautiful Painted Arrow

 

“All depth is interpreted.”

 – Ken Wilber

 

            Based on my experience, sacred places offer an opportunity for my inner self and the outer world to meet in peace, purpose and ease, a harmonious alignment of in here with out there. This began growing within me sixteen years ago when I peeled the rind of modern life away from my being and re-encountered the vast and mysterious plains first hand, their subtle flavours ashimmer across my skin and the sky. Every summer since then I have, to varying degrees, traveled the prairies and walked the trails that lead to Spirit. I’ve done the fieldwork, “put my boots to the ground,” as one friend reminded me.

            With a quick mental count I can easily think of a dozen sacred places in Manitoba and a dozen others in Saskatchewan I have visited more than once, performing ritual at most of them. Sacred Places on this blog gives you a good overview of the types of sites in both provinces. Although a westward diffusion of changing culture is evident in site uses and designs, the common feature of them all is Spirit, or rather access to Spirit. (For a better understanding of my terminology and meanings, I recommend you take a few minutes now to read FAQ on my blog.)

            Here’s what happened to me at Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel on October 9, 2010:

            I rattle, sing my power song and spiral around the outside of the stone circle. Very quickly I feel peace and holiness surround me; every step, every breath, every glance is a miracle almost too beautiful to bear. I spiral in toward the centre where I am summoned to the nest at the core of the cairn. I carefully climb over the rocks to the centre. There, on a bed of rock, open to the heavens and the earth, I ask, with a wavering voice, “What?” Even before the answer comes, I am trembling and tears begin to flow.

            Spirit gave me three clear and real directions at that moment, ponder points. I heard a soft but firm voice tell me I needed to go deeper into this, control my ego and write. While my body is on its knees, a weeping bag of snot, my mind is recording those instructions, already processing, and my spirit is soaring in ecstasy.

            All three parts of my being are fully integrated and harmonic at this moment. Each transforms the others. There is no separation between body, mind and spirit, The One into the Many, the Many into the One. A state of bliss.

            You can read my full report from this site here. I’m using my Moose Mountain experience because of its similarities to my contact with Spirit at many sites. It is common for humans to react emotionally when approaching Spirit. Getting that close to the Source is a rare occurrence. Tears are frequent at very powerful places like Moose Mountain as are spontaneous singing, dancing, gestures, sign language, clowning, solemn prayer or bouts of uncontrollable laughter. I nearly went off the edge of the hill rolling on the ground laughing at Wild Man Butte.

            Although I have listed these safeguards before, I offer them here as a starting point for visiting sacred places. Because of the nature of the energy present at sacred sites, it is important to visit them in an appropriate manner. Ancient sites require of us a special attention; they require us to be wise in the present moment. Here are some basic safeguards when researching ancient energy. Smudging is a suitable cleansing method, either a small twist of sweetgrass or cedar inside your vehicle or outside, but not if it’s dry weather. This comprehensive list is by writer Maxine Asher. Adherence is personal but I have found #6, #7 and #8 to be most important to me.

1.     Maintain optimum mental and physical health.

2.     Practice interaction with vibrations at local ancient sites.

3.     Do not preprogram information about the area you plan to visit.

4.     Begin work in relatively untraveled regions.

5.     Eat lightly before visits

6.     Transmit less and receive more.

7.     Never enter a site in ‘neutral’. Always manifest a positive aura of protection at all times.

8.     Always discharge energies after leaving a site.

9.     Systematically record observations and experiences.

10.  Be patient in waiting for results.

11.  Travel alone whenever possible.

12.  Be careful in your handling of words and intonations at ancient sites.

            I have found a sympathetic frame of mind and are ready to approach a sacred site. Presence, being in the moment is always the first and most important step when visiting sacred places. Most every report in Sacred Places contains a description of my arrival and how I prepare. It is important to honour the rituals when attending at sacred sites. For me this begins with sweetgrass, sage, and/or cedar smudging; being positive, protected and prepared; being patient, careful and open. I have learned to wait to be welcomed. Caution prevails at all times.

            This little process of waiting brings me seriously into the present moment and holds me there. I must wait – open, alert, fully present. Eventually, the contraction of being loosens. I relax and feel welcomed. Thereafter, my approach to the site serves to increase my presence, which becomes natural and easy, flowing with the local spirits.

            Rattling stirs up the spirits. My power song is my signature; I sing it at all sacred places. As I near the central cairn, enraptured by the beauty of simply being, integration is occurring rapidly. Body, mind and soul are utterly immersed in Spirit. The gaps between body, mind and soul are closing due to the singular purpose of my presence and Spirit. Transformation is underway, transcendence is very near. Ecstatic, I received the message at Moose Mountain. I am blissful, burning in ecstasy, tasting my spiritual nature. Paradise attained, Joseph Campbell would describe it as “The rapture of participation in a manner of being beyond time.”

            Sacred places are portals where the veils are thin allowing easy communing with Spirit. I have used all those phrases to try to reveal what actually happens to me at sacred places. At this point language displays its limits but, in a word, what happens out there is transcendence, surpassing.

            What is transcended and surpassed? Our broken selves, the three delicate aspects of being we each possess that thrive on being lovingly entwined but seldom are: body, mind and soul. Once integrated, access to Spirit opens. Culturally, the body/mind split is encouraged and exploited endlessly in media and advertising; healthy integration of all three is rare and disparaged.

            What’s the process to get to transcendence, to integrate body mind and soul, to unity resulting in bliss? To understand this we need a firm grasp of consciousness, how it develops through our lives and where it can take us if we use our inner technology. It would be handy to have a map of our consciousness to trace these steps. Aha! Here’s one!

 

           Ken Wilber Map #1

Ken Wilber Map #2

          Take a long look at Ken Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations to Track the Evolution of Your Consciousness. Ideally, print off each page on a separate sheet and place page 2 to the right of page 1 extending the map horizontally. Designed to assist you in following the evolution of your and everyone’s consciousness from birth to the present and, potentially, beyond, the map shows the various stages along the path of personal growth. The higher you go, the deeper you go, the bigger you get. The map distills much of Wilber’s thought on the spectrum of consciousness, the potentials within each of us and the process to achieve each one. Our consciousness grows and develops upward so read each column of the map from bottom to top as if it were a plant growing toward the sun.

            Each column represents some aspect of our being with the specific content of the column listed in bold along the bottom. Each stage and what happens there is noted by one of Wilber’s fulcrums, reading across the map. I included some modern research from Maslow, Loevinger and Kohlberg plus visions of the perennial philosophy from Plotinus and Aurobindo, thinkers separated by culture, experience and 1600 years. Pathologies and treatments required inclusion.

            Study Wilber’s Orienting Generalizations, print them off, take them to coffee, get to know them and yourself…and everyone. Try to find yourself on the map. You are on there. We all are. Remember Map Rule #1: don’t confuse the map with the territory. You read the map. You live the territory.

            In Part Two on Sunday, April 24, I will explore the spectrum of consciousness as it applies to shamanism (which begins at the psychic stage) and explore the nature and potential of each transpersonal stage.  If you want to delve into Ken Wilber in more detail on the topics I’m discussing, I recommend his 1996 book, A Brief History of Everything available at fine bookstores everywhere. 

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, ken wilber, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Have I Found What I’m Looking For?

Reid Dickie

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

            I was sitting in the Tim Horton’s at Stafford and Corydon and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 came on the radio. (I know, Socrates, Tim Horton and U2 in the first three lines with Ken Wilber and St. Francis of Assisi yet to come! Please bear with me.) It got me wondering if, in my lifetime, I have found what I’m looking for, a question that demanded some serious introspection. Then I thought Chris and I could both blog on the question and post on the same day. People could compare and contrast our answers. Chris jumped at the idea. He is twenty-five years my junior and had an upbringing much different from mine. This should be interesting.

My search for an answer started with making a list of the most important things I have gone looking for in my life. It turned out to be a six item list: Love, Friendship, The Muse, Happiness, An Audience and My Life Purpose.

  • Love: When I was a romantic lad growing up in Shoal Lake in western Manitoba, I had an imaginary dream girl, the perfect woman who would love me forever, cherish everything about me, forgive all my sins and die happily in my arms, all the same things I would do for her. Her name was Johanna, inspired by Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. I held onto my vision of Johanna through high school, took her to Toronto with me to learn radio announcing and brought her back to the prairies where I started my career. Still not having found my Johanna by that time, I was starting to lose hope, thinking it was all just a childish thing ready to be discarded. However, I kept searching and I found her. She was just using another name – Linda. I am among those incredibly fortunate men who found a perfect soul mate to love and understand him. I found the love I was looking for in full measure.

  • Friendship: At The Celebration of Light and Linda last fall, I was joined for a photograph by five guys I went to school with 50 years before. It is a most telling picture showing deep camaraderie and love. I could call on any one of these men today and they would help me, no matter what, and I would do the same for them. These are lifelong friends with whom I share common childhood experiences and mutual admiration. I have human friends of all ages and endeavours and find them stimulating and satisfying. My closest friendships feel more like family. Through shamanism, I have a pantheon of spirits who are also my friends but of an entirely different order. I have found the friends I was looking for.

Six buddies from Shoal Lake: from the left Terry Lewycky, Dennis Lewycky, Ernie Bart, myself, Mark Fikkert, Ron Bart

  • The Muse: My creativity is a family legacy from my mother and her father. Imaginative and always ready to tell a story, real or imagined, my teacher Mom exhorted me to get inside my own head and discover what’s there. I’ve had an eager and unabashed connection to my imagination ever since. On my About page, I wrote (quoting myself, writer’s bliss!): “I seem to have tapped into the source of an endless stream of ideas that flow like quicksilver through my mind, some of them getting captured and sent far and asunder in my own words. As Terence McKenna said, ‘Imagination is where we are coming from and imagination is where we are going to.’ I have honed my imagination to a fine nib that dips into the rainbow ink of many worlds, leaving behind a sometimes elegant, sometimes smeared trail of word crumbs. If they ever help anybody find their way home, my job is done.” Finding a life partner like Linda, equally imaginative and creative, was an unexpected bonus. Looking for The Muse is a process, it never ends. I have found The Muse and an ongoing connection to its process.
  • Happiness: The big truth here in ordinary reality is we only get little stabs at happiness, not long blissful swaths of it. The happiness we do experience is seldom of our own making, often artificially induced, always fleeting. Needy egos, the bind of the mind and the rolling thunder of life’s experience keep us from sustained happiness. Developing an inner practise like shamanism opens up new realms of potential happiness often leading to bliss. My power animal, Tiger, brings joyfulness into my life daily. Linda made me happy during her life and continues to do so after her death. Her consistent message is “Be happy.” Although this is not the forum to detail this, using wisdom flowing from her new vantage point, Linda has shown me a glimpse of heaven to illustrate why I should “be happy.” I have found happiness wherever I looked.     
  • An Audience: Both Chris and I are seeking our audiences this year. In my life, I have frequently had an audience: as a radio announcer, as an artist and performer, as an old friend prowling the stage of The Park Theatre at The Celebration and now with this blog. Today I’m finding my next audience in a whole new way. The content – me – is the same but the format is new and exciting, awash with instant possibilities combining images, video, audio and words. I am finding my audience here, view by view, in this burning ground of history where everything is immediately retrievable while the whole world watches.  
  • My Life Purpose: It’s not radio, not retail, not any of the myriad odd jobs I tried. It’s not even writing. My life purpose became clear to me when I was 45 years old. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my Way! Though it would take me a few years to realize it, I had found my purpose, as well. Widely traveled, I visited dozens of ancient sacred sites on the Canadian prairies, performing rituals and exploring the realms opened up through my daily practice of neo-shamanism. Discovering my spiritual calling, my purpose has enriched my life beyond measure. 

St. Francis of Assisi said something so profoundly simple in its truth that it took me years to understand it. He said, “What you are looking for is what is looking.” I knew the things I was looking for, that was the easy part. But what is looking? I pondered this many times. My searching and scrambling seemed to be what I wanted but I never had any real perspective on myself until I figured out what St. Francis meant.

So, what is looking? Our very essence, this vast empty awareness in which we and everything we experience and perceive arises, that’s what is looking. Call it Spirit, cosmic consciousness, God. Ken Wilber calls it “the deepest suchness of our being where all worlds arise.” Spirit is what’s looking, partaking of the world through my eyes and my being, in fact, everyone’s eyes and beings. Spirit is the tireless watcher, the eternal Witness to all that arises. The most satisfying discovery of my life had always been plainly obvious. To experience it, all I did was get out of my own way.

The Answer: Yes, reflecting back over six decades I can honestly say I have found what I’m looking for and I have been found by what is looking for me. In both cases, it is Spirit. If I die tomorrow, I’ll have a smile on my face.

However, although satisfied so far, I am still committed to the search, to learn my whole life long, to shine my curiosity into new realms and discover what’s there. I can report today that what’s there is incredible!

Check out Chris’ blog to see if he’s found what he’s looking for.

 Chris welcomes the world to his blog.

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Filed under ken wilber, Life and Life Only, Linda, shaman, shamanism

DickTool Videos Just Keep Arising

       Now! New! Seen worldwide on YouTube! It’s video band Victim Moan performing their exclusive inverted version of that classic theme song from that classic television series, Hey Hey We’re the Monkees. Kenn, our musical accomplice and monkee who can see no evil, created the operatic arrangement. Linda is the monkee who can drum no evil and I, of course, am the monkee who can sing no evil. Peter Tork had to take a Gravol and an Ativan after he heard it. You will believe video artists can be monkees. Prove it to yourself. Just click the pic to make the dream come alive.

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Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Introduction

 Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

            The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. I’ll keep my tongue firmly in my cheek and the tone light and fluffy just like the music. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.

 REID’S POP SONG OF THE MONTH IS

 Whatever Gets You True

 Paddy Casey

             Neither the song nor artist is well-known but this bright positive little ditty has been caught in my musical craw for a number of years. Plus it has an imaginative video that actually has something to do with the song! Give it a look and listen then I shall expound. I dedicate the song and video to my old buddy Mitch who has “seen it all” during his decades of driving taxi on Winnipeg streets.

  

            From street busker to open mike night at a club to signing with Sony to being managed by U2’s management company, Paddy Casey‘s career is a classic story of  musical discovery. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, street performer Paddy’s appearance at the International Bar caught the ear of a Sony A & R man who signed him to the label. In 1999 he released his first album Amen (So Be It) from which the Pop Song of the Month comes. From folk to rhythm and blues to full-out rock & roll, Paddy expresses his influences with sincerity and creative honesty. Whatever Gets You True is a shining example.

            This cheerful concoction infected with a swirling wheezy roller-rink organ and a solid beat conveys its uplifting message with just the right amount of sickly sweetness, raw truth and inspiring lyrics to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month. Paddy’s voice, phrasing and inflection qualify him for inclusion on the long list of “the next Bob Dylans.” His imagery – “I like elevators, too,” – supports the theory. The song’s message is simple: follow your bliss, be yourself, whoever that might be.

            The video shows specific examples of the message in the context of taxi fares, an imaginative time lapse free-for-all that includes firebugs, jocks, lesbians, precocious children, transvestites, sinister combinations of people, drunks, musicians and pets, ending with Paddy being absorbed into a spacecraft, ascending into the Godhead or something. Great use of the roof hatch! There is appropriate homage to Dylan with the lyric cue cards a la Subterranean Homesick Blues in the taxi.

            This song makes me happy! Let it make you happy too.

The Final Tally for Whatever Gets You True

             On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart

Montelimar

Crème tangerine

 Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 9

 Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 32%            

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Happy Birthday Steve McQueen

The King of Cool was born on this day in 1930. He starred in 29 movies between 1953 and 1980 when cancer claimed his life. Here’s a few of Steve‘s thoughts.  “I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.” Me, too. “In my own mind, I’m not sure that acting is something for a grown man to be doing.” and “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And others said, “Steve is the prototypical cool American male. He’s the guy on his horse, the guy alone. He has his own code of honor, his own code of ethics, his own rules of living. He never, ever tries to impress the women, but he always gets the girl.” said Donal Logue in The Tao of Steve. “I remember seeing him across the swimming pool and my knees were knocking. He radiated such macho energy. Men wanted to be like him. Uptight society ladies and biker molls wanted to be with him,” said Ali MacGraw. Not Dead-Dead since November 7, 1980. 

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More DickToolery Now on YouTube

        It’s happened again! More DickTool video has found its way onto YouTube! Flashblack was produced at VPW Studios in 1978. The four minutes you see are an excerpt from Videosphere: Realizations in Videospace, a 30-minute program of video art which Linda and I did twice monthly for two years on VPW, public access television. For this clip, please remember everything you see is happening live. What looks like a special effect is in fact being created in the moment on the hard cement floor of VPW. We expected a lot of happy accidents with our video art and this is one of them. Click here to watch the video. There is the scent of toasted almonds in the air.

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David Marks 1946 – 2011

          Death was kind and gentle with dear friend David Marks last week, taking him while he slept in the family home where he grew up. David earned an easy one.

            Linda and I first met David in the late 1970s at access radio CJUM-FM in Winnipeg. He did an all-night show on Sundays that was an excellent mix of new wave, old wave and his own eclectic tastes, plus he was a huge Springsteen fan too. We became good friends, faithful friends, sharing many happy occasions. Though we saw less of David over the years, when we did get together for long funny dinners over beers and omelettes at the Garwood Grill, we all left elated and filled with good fellowship. That describes David well – he was a good fellow. Loyal and honest, never missed sending a card for our birthdays, a cat lover and appreciator of high-quality TV drama (Deadwood was his favourite show of all time, he told me recently), that was only part of David.

            As much as he liked his friends and cats and dramas, David’s one life-long passion was baseball. From childhood on, he was an avid, no, fervent, no, rabid baseball fan. He talked lovingly about collecting baseball cards as a kid and going to games with his dad. David was an accountant with a great head for numbers. Over dinner I remember him saying how he thought memorizing all those baseball statistics when he was a kid, from 7 years old on, was great training for his present work. In recent decades, he planned his weeks of vacation to catch the maximum number of Major League games in as many different cities as possible.

            David’s best baseball story would be taking a stab at becoming Commissioner of Baseball when Bowie Kuhn stepped down in 1984. He started a petition here in Winnipeg and on the West Coast among his friends and associates, made his intentions to become Commissioner known and the media showed up. Scott Oake of CBC-TV Sports interviewed David who was nervous, charming and reminded me of Dennis the Menace.  The Winnipeg Free Press ran a short article with a big picture under the heading: The Man Who Would Be Kuhn, as seen below. But David never got to be the Commish. His dream deflated. He’d just have to settle for being one of the most intense, ravenous baseball fans ever.

            So long David. Catch you on the rebound.

This is the Winnipeg Free Press article that appeared under the headline

 The Man Who Would Be Kuhn

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Mid-Century Winnipeg – Pictures of Old Winnipeg

           Full dose of Winnipeg nostaligia today for current and former ‘Peggers. This video has dozens of rare photos of Winnipeg taken between 1950 and 1975 or so with some very cool music playing behind it. Click the pic of the old arena to play the video.

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Linda and Teedy

Linda and our lovely green-eyed cat Teedy who lived with us for almost two decades. This picture of My Girls, as I used to call them, was taken in the early 1990s.

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Arising Soon at ReadReidRead

Big Weekend Ahead!

              Coming Friday March 25 – Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why.

              Coming Saturday March 26 – Cutting edge blogging – in tandem blogs Chris and I meditate on “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…or have I?” Compare and contrast our intergenerational responses.

              Coming Sunday March 27 – Sacred Places and Consciousness, first of a three-part series based on my experiences at sacred sites and the stages of consciousness accessed there.  

               Right now you can be amongst the first people in the world to witness a new DickTool Co video on YouTube. Mechanical Bliss is the most complicated video piece we ever did, complex in intention, planning and execution. Both Linda and I were very proud of Mechanical Bliss. Our three-part send-up of pop culture and pop science is an important DickTool Co piece, sub headed “The Consequences of Music.” Part One is called “Hit Parade” – its topic might be permanence through repetition, then again… Giving new meaning to “playing records” and offered in the context of a clinical instruction tape, in “Hit Parade” the intricate workings of a record player are ineffectually described by a lab technician. It was my idea and stemmed from my fascination with old record players and 45-rpm records, a juvenile pursuit that lasts into old age as it turns out. The record player here is from Linda’s youth, her old Roamer, the one on which she played the Beatles over and over and over again.

            Shot against the white walls of Arthur Street Gallery in Winnipeg in 1979 and lit with an intense slide projector light, which becomes intermittent in the third section, the set is a ladder of shadow and light. Influence came from the German expressionists like Robert Wiene who created The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in 1919. Stark lines seem to have depth but doubt arises as the odd man begins to move about the set.

            Our little scientist isn’t having much luck with his records as they keep sticking and skipping and the player keeps drowning out his detailed explanation of its machinations. Good thing he’s talking gibberish so we’re not missing anything. As he realizes this isn’t working, he begins an awkward dance, moving in and out of sync with the stuck songs. Finally, he is content to simply lean on the device as it sticks. The songs he plays are Everything’s Alright by the Newbeats 1964, Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah by Bobb B. Sox and the Bluejeans 1963, Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells 1963, Midnight Special by Johnny Rivers 1965 and Catch Us If You Can by the Dave Clark Five 1965. It will only waste about ten minutes of your life. Click on the DickTool Co image below to get the damn thing started.

        There are five more parts to Mechanical Bliss that will be coming online soon. Stay tuned to http://www.youtube.com/user/DickToolCo

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PEHDTSCKJMBA

Wily Tom Waits holds a press conference regarding his 2008 summer tour.

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