Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tim Horton’s Beans in Our Ears

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Reid Dickie

Just for fun I’m weighing in on the changes afoot at defining Canadian icon, Tim Horton’s. Snapshot 4 (29-01-2015 4-40 PM)Former defining icon is better now that it’s owned by Brazilian mega-corporation 3G Capital. Tim Horton’s came as part of the 3G deal to buy Burger King which was blessed by the Ref-Con trained seals in Ottawa.

My fake backstory regarding Tim Horton’s revolves mainly around a little brown brick building near Pembina and Grant in Winnipeg. I have habituated this building for centuries. Before it was Tim’s, Robin’s Donuts operated from it as did Loopins and Snapshot 3 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)Standards. In the 1950s it was The Sassafras, a coffee and malt shop that catered to teens and adults and maintained an uneasy detente between them. During The War, it was Stookie’s, a smoky diner at an important bus stop that led into new suburbs in south and west Winnipeg. During the Dust Bowl days three sisters, all named Thelma, ran it. Of course it was called Betty’s Place so as not to Snapshot 6 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM)confuse people. Just after the First Big War when it was Mike’s you could buy coffee and pie over the counter, booze, hookers and reefer under the counter. Even before the new century began, on this spot Pounder’s Stopping Off was a widening of the Pembina Trail where you stocked up on supplies coming and going. Porridge Pounder always had plenty of guns and ammunition to sell. Before anything took root at the meeting of the rivers, Cree and Saulteaux sometimes used thisSnapshot 7 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM) place as a campsite due to its closeness to the Red River. For thousands of years before that, it was just me and the woolly mammoths drinking from the river with the wind whistling through the willows.

Most of the above paragraph is not true; it is fiction, historical riffing, guff. In that spirit I created a short video to commemorate the assimilation of Tim Horton’s into its new Snapshot 2 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)corporate maw. I scrounged around on archive.org and found some vintage footage of Brazilian coffee growers and refiners, added Soul Coughing’s The Coffee Song and uploaded it to YouTube. Fellini would appreciate the final few scenes. Click any picture to watch the 2:30 video.

For clarity I have been a long-time customer of Tim Horton’s and witnessed their inevitable decline. Of late, I frequent other coffee shops, local and much more interesting. Comments sections online are filled with people vowing to boycott Tim Horton’s for their recent actions. In my case, the Horts just ran its course after lo, these many thousands of years.

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Filed under Guff, Humour, video art

Andrea Gibson, Poet

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Reid Dickie

UPDATE: Andrea Gibson is performing in Winnipeg on Saturday June 27, 2015 at the Good Will Social Club, 625 Portage Ave. Tickets are $20. 

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
And when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
And postcards saying
Wish you were here

That is how Andrea Gibson’s poem Photograph begins. Listen to her read the whole thing.

From her websiteAndrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led her to the forefront of the spoken word movement – the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam – Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

I came across Andrea’s work recently while downloading some sound poetry. Her written words are provocative but it’s her inspiring spoken performances that give them vivid freshness. Her thoughts bombard you with a stimulating flurry of intelligence and awareness, as effective poetry should. Listen to her poem Stay.

YouTube has many videos of Andrea’s performances. This one is called Jellyfish. Click pic.

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Andrea is currently on a North American tour which moves to Europe in the spring.

  • She performs in Toronto, ON on February 3, 2015 at a free show at Lunik Co-Op, Glendon College.
  • On February 17, 2015 she’s at Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria, BC. Tickets available through her website.
  • On April 4, 2015 she’s back for the Toronto Poetry Slam at Bloor Cinema. For tickets contact info@torontopoetryslam.com

Andrea’s website is http://www.andreagibson.org/

Two more readings by Andrea to finish off: Asking Too Much and Say Yes.

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Linwood School, 266 Linwood Street, Winnipeg (1913)

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Reid Dickie

Pop quiz!

What Winnipeg school’s alumni includes the City’s first woman mayor Susan Thompson, bandleader Jimmy King, Liberal Cabinet Minister Mitchell Sharp, Olympic speed skater Gordon Audley, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and former National Defense Headquarters Chief of Air Staff Ken Pennie?

Hint: it’s in St James.

This diverse group all haunted the halls of Linwood School.

Though having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, Linwood School sits on a lot used for schools for 130 years. St James School, a white two-storey wooden building with a large bell tower that sat on the southeast corner of the lot was the original school on the site. Built in 1885 and known in the neighbourhood as The White School, it burned down in 1913. Students attended classes in tents during construction of the current building, also called St James School. The name was changed to Linwood School in 1951 to avoid confusion with the newly opened St James Collegiate.

The original trustees’ names are carved in limestone on the front of the school. The architect is LINWOOD11scan0007listed as A. Melville and the trustees were Alex Gunn, Chas. Holden and J.H. Cotter.

Scottish-born Winnipeg architect Alexander Melville designed the present building. Melville, and his enigmatic brother William, a civil engineer, were responsible for at least 14 of Winnipeg’s fire halls, many of them still standing. (Under the heading of Winnipeg Degrees of Separation, we find Susan Thompson who, besides attending the Melville-designed Linwood School, was later a resident in a fire hall on Dorchester that had been renovated into condominiums. This fire hall was a Melville Brothers design.)

The Melvilles created plans for the Empire Hotel on Main Street, Broadway Court Apartments, Ashford Apartments on Balmoral, Touraine Apartments on Ellice and the Coliseum Dance Hall, all now demolished. One of the few houses the brothers designed, the G.A. Glines house, still stands at 55 Hargrave though its exterior has been substantially changed. Check out this Manitoba Historical Society page for all of Melville’s buildings.

The stately, two storey red brick and concrete Linwood School resembles the size andLINWOOD22scan0001 shape of British Board schools but with a more horizontal emphasis. A large school, it has 20 classrooms set on a tall foundation allowing adequate basement usage. The bricks, laid in running bond, have developed a beautiful patina that changes colour: in shadow, it is deep wine-red; in sun, it turns almost chestnut. Seven belt courses of contrasting limestone surround the building from cornice to foundation complimenting the school’s seven bays. Ribbed pilasters are used to great effect on all elevations.

LINWOOD SCHOOLThe formal front entrance (left) has wide stairs leading toward double doors and sidelights under a low arch with decorative stone keystone and label. Above that, a limestone ledge and brackets sustain three narrow windows and more elaborate limestone work is crowned with the school’s name and datestone.

The school’s fenestration, over 150 windows, adds lightness and openness to the exterior. All windows have limestone lintels and sills.

At the back of the completely symmetrical school is a pair of entrances (below). Grandly carved in limestone over one door is “BOYS”, over the other “GIRLS”. Thought this conjures all manner of questions, the reason was simply logistical: boys and girls lockers were most easily accessible through the separate doors.

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Inside, the hallways are wide and bright with pilasters and beautifully restored oak throughout. The wainscoting and trim around all the blackboards is oak. The large marble sections at the entrances have recently been cleaned and refurbished. Original interior glass is etched with decorative floral designs. On the lower level, there is a large assembly room with built-in stage original to the building.

Classrooms have high ceilings and five large windows making them bright and airy. The linwoodschool1 rearpressed tin ceilings are gone; however, the cast iron railings with oak banisters remain.

From its opening in 1914, the school held elementary classes on the main floor and high school classes above. When St. James Collegiate opened in the early 1950s, the higher grades moved there.

An annex was added on the north side in 1953 and the gym in the early 60s. Though both are brick, their one-level utilitarian style is dwarfed by the mass and scale of Melville’s creation. Above is a view of the symmetrical rear elevation.

The school proudly displays an Honour Roll of former students who died in both World Wars, a venerable and appropriate tribute found in many Winnipeg schools.

In 2013 Linwood School celebrated its 100th anniversary with student reunions and nostalgic events. Watch a four minute video created for Linwood’s centenary.

There has long been a connection between Linwood School and the St James Horticultural Society. The Society has used the school for monthly meetings and flower shows since 1914.

Administered by the St James-Assiniboia School Division, today Linwood School educates 197 children (2012) from Kindergarten to Grade 5. The middle class neighbourhood around the school has been stable for so long that third and fourth generations of the same families are now attending Linwood. The school is so integrated into the community it has over 100 volunteers every year. With its stately and solid appearance, this fine old building grandly reflects the stability of the area it serves.

 PROFILE

Linwood School

Built 1913

Additions 1953, ca 1961

Materials: red brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Georgian Revival, Romanesque Revival two-storey

Architect: Alexander Melville

Current assessed value: $2,217,000

Acreage: 4.2 acres

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January 16, 2015 · 6:30 pm

My Cathedrals

SL TREES

Reid Dickie

We moved to Shoal Lake in 1957 when I was eight and I left for the city at nineteen. Those are formative years when one grows from an egocentric to sociocentric worldview, taking the role of the Other, starting to think about thinking and finally feeling like a citizen of the planet. Just before I left home, my father said that no matter where I roamed or what I accomplished in my life, I would always think of Shoal Lake as my hometown. He was right.

My cathedrals were somewhat more humble than the stone behemoths the word usually conjures. Though it was a town of 800 with five spired churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Anglican, United), my cathedrals were the movie theatre, the town hall, the high school, the ice rink, the train bridge and the spruce grove by the lake.

The only cathedral left standing today in 2015 is the grove of spruce trees that decorate a slow incline up and away from the water’s edge at the north end of the lake. They were planted in 1928 as part of the village landscaping. The trees wrap around the closest thing the lake ever had to a beach, vulnerable to the prevailing, often harsh, northwest winds. During their eighty-seven years, the trees have adopted a slight lean away from the wind.  It’s not a thick grove but an airy and light stand with sky at the top end and water at the bottom. Underfoot lies decades of brown needles thatched in slow decay.

By the 1960s the spruce were at their most verdant, early maturity brought a luscious deep green to the shore when viewed in perfect morning light. It was under these sheltering branches that many rites of passage and epiphanal moments occurred for my friends and me. Here bonding moments so serene, proving moments so intense and our  love for the whole wide world, created new beings out of us. Boundless expressions of song sang with spruce gum and lake water in the hot sizzle of the metal camp stove, our incense and laughter echoing beyond the trees into the starry night. Acoustic guitars strummed to bleeding during long rambling confessions of angst, love and guilt, inspired by the Doors’ The End. In this confessional, the trees listened patiently, ever returning each of us to sanctity, to grace.

Today the trees are past maturity; their trunks three-quarters bare of branches, the foliage now a rickety umbrella high overhead. The bare overripe spruce are easy pickings for wind; they creak now even in small breezes. Crushing windstorms from the northwest break off the old trees regularly. Yet they remain my one cathedral, still bending in the wind, becoming more majestic in their age and decline.

To walk among them now is to hear the echoes of old friend’s young voices and see them splashing in the shiny water; it is to hear the blues played on a harmonica at the edge of a prairie lake by a farm boy whose father works him like slave. During spring break-up on the lake there are a few days when tinkling needles of ice produce the sound of delicate wind chimes as they float in the cold water, playing counterpoint to the trees combing sighs from a passing breeze. When I walk among these trees today I am among friends, closer to the wisdom of age and experience that we intuited as youth but only recognize now as we grow long in the tooth.

How we worshiped with vigor and hope at that church of green timber! Confusing, hormone-befuddled days turned into evenings of comradeship, peace and caring, of understandings that curious youth bring only to each other. Spirit lived in my cathedrals then and still does today. The link we share with our past when using the local knowledge of a place and its landmarks allows us to discover Spirit in yet another form.

Even though today grass grows thick over my parent’s graves in Shoal Lake Cemetery and I have few friends left in the town and fewer reasons to return, Shoal Lake is still home in the sense of it being the repository of my growing and changing. It is where memories reside. It will always be home to the cathedrals that played significant roles in my youth, cathedrals that time and progress have taken away. When I left Shoal Lake, I forfeited the right to own my cathedrals anywhere but in memory. As it should be.

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Inside the Mind of a 15-Year-Old Beatlemaniac

REID ages 14 to 17 1963 to 1967

Reid Dickie

That would be me (1964 school picture above).

To establish my credibility as a Beatlemaniac I offer as evidence this envelop from 1965.

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In the summer of 1964, to appeal to the newly-defined generation who were becoming eager, horny teenagers, CBC-TV ran a summer music series called Let’s Go. Produced in Vancouver, the show featured a variety of good local musicians. In the fall it was added to the CBC CHADschedule as a daily after-school show called Music Hop. The novelty was the half-hour show came from a different city every day: Monday from Vancouver, Tuesday Winnipeg, Wednesday Toronto, Thursday Montreal and Friday Halifax. A house band and other local musicians performed hits of the day along with some original material. The Guess Who were the Winnipeg house band here, the host was Chad Allen (above).

In the fall of 1964 Let’s Go from Vancouver (the west coast show kept the original series name) ran a Flip Your Wig contest. Beatlemania was still growing daily so the audience was asked to draw a Beatles wig on a famous person, add a caption and send it in. Being a little overachiever, I thought why stop at just one picture, why not make a book!  Thus was born, perhaps rendered would be better, My Sick Beatle Book. In this case, please use the Mad Magazine definition of sick.

I clipped 20 pictures from the newspaper, added crude Beatles wigs with a thick black felt marker, pasted them in a twenty page booklet I made, thought up witty (for a 15-year-old) captions for each picture and submitted it.

I bound the book with a glue that still holds it firmly together 50 years later easily surviving the scanning process. I jotted the captions in pen dispatching with Elvis immediately and giving the centre spread to the Dave Clark Five since they were The Beatles main “rivals” at the time. The rest are assorted politicians, sports figures and so on. This is from the time when the politically-correct nanny state was newly under construction. My captions and picture choice reflect the era.

Since The Beatles and their fans were the brunt of continuous jokes from adults, my book had a bit of a revenge aspect. Beatlizing these old people was very satisfying for me, doubly CBC REDso when, despite the crudeness of the book, the judges saw my intent and were amused.

Imagine my delight when Red Robinson (right) announced I’d won the contest and would receive a complete Beatles library. Happy prairie boy! A few days later I received the package via Air Mail. There were, in fact, five albums, not four as the transfer slip says: Beatlemania: With the Beatles, Twist & Shout, Long Tall Sally, Hard Day’s Night and Something New along with ten Beatles 45s.

In 1964 Capitol Records played catch-up with the British releases which began in early 1963. The North American permutations of Beatles albums haphazardly chopped up the track lists, added a B-side or two resulting in “new” Beatles product. Six albums, including The Beatles Story, were released here in 1964.

With slight embarrassment for my 15-year-old self, I offer, in its entirety, My Sick Beatle Book followed by the letter and the transfer slip from CBC. Some pictures are at odd angles. I’m still not much of a book designer.

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Thank you and good night.

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Filed under 1960s, Humour, Music

Penis Fun #5

From The Meaning of Life, Eric Idle performs his tribute to custard launchers the world over. Click the pic for The Penis Song.

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Previous Penis Fun One  Two  Three  Four

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