Category Archives: Video

House on a Hill Along MB Hwy 21

Reid Dickie

Since childhood I remember driving past this old, long-abandoned stone farmhouse set humbly but with a certain majesty at the top of a rise next to the highway south of Hartney, MB. My grandparents homesteaded in the area so I often saw the old house up there, lonesome and vulnerable.

It is constructed from the most readily available material on the prairie in this part of the province: field stones. The mason who collected the stones and created the patchwork hues had a special eye for colour and size. Now tumbling down, the stones are returning to their fields, the patchwork disassembling in the wind, snow and heat.

The Mansard roof is cut with six gabled dormers. Lightening rods puncture the roof fending off the electric storms that sweep across the land. Swallows find excellent nesting sites under the eaves. The sky scowls down.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to investigate this house but this summer I spent a cloudy afternoon capturing it. Combining still and live images of the exterior and interior of the house with some whimsical sound I created a two-minute video. Click on any picture to start the video.


Filed under Day Tripping, Family, Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers, Video

The Hobo Code Video

 Reid Dickie

A set of very specific communication symbols developed in the late 1800s among the homeless of that time: hoboes, tramps, drifters. Innocent looking chalk marks on a gatepost or a piece of equipment next to the railroad tracks could mean life or death to a passing hobo new to the area. The Hobo Code became the language of the transients, a kind of tramp telegraph that was used for over fifty years. Fans of Mad Men will recognize the term from the first season, episode eight titled The Hobo Code. I have posted previously about the Hobo Code.

In my video I draw some of the symbols of the Hobo Code and explain their meanings and also update the Code with its modern usage. Click the pic to watch the video. Enjoy!

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Filed under Diversions, Manitoba Heritage, Video

The Party of Peacocks of Souris

Reid Dickie

Last year’s flooding of the Souris River valley displaced the party of peacocks and peahens that are a distinctive attraction in Souris, MB. Normally the peacocks live in a bird sanctuary in the valley but last summer they freely roamed the little town, enthralling people with their lush displays of tailfeathers and startling cries. They spent most of the mild winter on the lam in the town, finding shelter in various backyards. According to the Souris Plaindealer, the two dozen birds have been rounded up, corraled and relocated to a farm outside of town. When flood damages to the bird sanctuary are repaired, the birds will be returned to the valley. Watch my short video report on the peacocks of Souris which I shot at the height of last year’s flood.

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Filed under Birds, Day Tripping, Flood, Parks, Video

New Video – Frozen Warnings Taxi Mix

Reid Dickie

A blast from the past! Alternate take of “Frozen Warnings,” a Nico classic covered by beautiful Linda and myself somewhere in the early 1980s. (Find our original version here.) This time, join us on a taxi ride from near River and Osborne to Winnipeg’s North End via the Arlington Street Bridge. Alfred Avenue between Battery and Artillery is where Linda grew up.  The Winnipeg taxi dispatcher works hard to keep the customer satisfied while we Dick Tool around, intoning a freakish duet. Local landmarks arise, Homer’s Restaurant on Ellice, the Windmill Restaurant on Selkirk and who remembers the Rickshaw Restaurant at 875 Portage? Rancid Randy, a feisty obese raccoon who frequented area backyards, can be heard pounding on a toy baby grand piano we set up near our trash can and tricked him into playing. That coon plays a nasty yano!

Despite the full moon and the deep background the places contain, things aren’t quite right. Aren’t they? Click the pic to find out.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, DickToolery, Family, Humour, Linda, Video, Winnipeg

Tree Birds Dog Trucks Dead

Reid Dickie

In the cemetery of the church yard around St. Francois Xavier Roman Catholic Church in St. Francois Xavier, MB stands a huge tree, once magnificent in every season, now dead every day. On its naked branches, some entangled in the church steeple, European starlings gather to discuss important bird business. In the neighbourhood, Rover barks at imaginery foes, halftons roll past one by one and the dead are patient, as ever. Click the pic to watch my latest video, Tree Birds Dog Trucks Dead.

UPDATE: As of summer 2013, the tree has been cut down, just a low stump remains.

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Filed under Birds, Churches, Critters, Day Tripping, Life and Life Only, Spirit, Video

When Inkpaduta was around, nobody slept sound.

Reid Dickie

Inkpaduta was a Santee Sioux who eagerly participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn then fled across the border to Turtle Mountain in southwestern Manitoba. Inkpaduta harboured great hatred for white people and without remorse murdered them at every opportunity. He was a bad cat to have in the neighbourhood!

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Filed under Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Video

Stockton Ferry Beached by Assiniboine Flooding

Reid Dickie

The last remaining river ferry in southern Manitoba has been beached by the flooding Assiniboine River. The Stockton Ferry carried people and vehicles across the river for decades but now the future of the ferry is in doubt. While the actual ferry was hauled out of the water and rests above the flood level, its cables and infrastructure were badly damaged by the raging waters leaving a tangled mess of wire and metal. I visited the site yesterday and have a short video report on the Stockton Ferry and the aftermath of the river’s flooding.

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Filed under Flood, Local History, Video

Out There It’s Summertime

Reid Dickie

I’m just back from a eight-day ramble on the prairies, mostly in the Missouri Coteau and Cypress Hills areas of southern Saskatchewan. I visited half a dozen new sites, revisited some familiar ones, shot almost 2 hours of video (expect plenty of reports from afar as a result), met wonderful new people and spent time with some old favourites. My intuition quickened, Spirit whispered through the trees in Pine Cree Park and Old Souls aided and abetted me along the way. My reward for the 2800 kms and ensuing events is serenity, a renewed sense of purpose and a bolstering of my humanity. You get what you intend.

The trip began with a perfect Saturday at the Regina Folk Festival with Linda’s cousin, Mike Panko and his beautiful partner, Brenda. Mike’s an Old Soul and a ton of fun. Here’s Mike and me at the fest.

A day of great music culminated with an energetic set from k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang closing the evening concert which also featured Taj Mahal. k.d. is in fine form these days with a new band, high energy, great new songs from her Sing It Loud CD (buy it if you haven’t already) and a back catalogue that would be the envy of any singer with perfect pitch. The show began with the lead-off track from the CD called I Confess, to my ears a Roy Orbison homage of high order. (That was one of the Tunes of the Tour as was Moonglow because Wendy Thomson performed it beautifully with the moon rising above her on the second floor balcony at The Convent in Val Marie. Both tunes sift through the inattentive spaces in my mind as the miles go by.) k.d. covers two songs on the CD and performed both of them: Heaven “by that great country band, Talking Heads,” as she introduced it, led eerily, perfectly into a new arrangement of Hallelujah; and she swung the Little River Band hit Reminiscing. She sang Miss Chatelaine, Western Skies, ending the show with a rockin’ version of her now-evergreen Constant Craving. To end the encores and evening she sang Neil Young’s Helpless.

After a restful night on Mike’s futon and a long, leisurely breakfast with him and Brenda, I was westbound onto the Missouri Coteau. The Coteau stretches from the northwest in central Saskatchewan south between Moose Jaw and Swift Current into South Dakota. It’s the next step up on the prairies after the Manitoba Escarpment and features lots of hills and gullies, some of Saskatchewan’s best scenery and worst highways, friendly people and endlessly changing vistas that surprise and enchant the curious seeker. It’s one of my favourite places to drive. The highways are lonesome and long, the sky runs ahead of me just as far as it extends behind me and there’s enough room to think, to evolve, to expand my awareness and discover what’s there. I head south from Moose Jaw to Assiniboia then west toward Pine Cree Park, my camping destination for the night.

Located in the foothills to the Cypress Hills between Shaunavon and Eastend, over the years Pine Cree Park has sheltered my little tent more than any other campground on the praires. This is a shot of the South Fork of Swift Current Creek, which runs right through Pine Cree Park; its pleasant burble can be heard from most campsites in the park.

Set in a deep mysterious coulee on a Continental Divide, Pine Cree Park is a truly rustic camping experience. There is no other like it in southern Saskatchewan. Soft-shell camping is encouraged, the park is non-electric, the width of the road and bridges prevents any unit longer than 28 feet from using the park and weight restrictions on the bridges apply. It gets extremely dark. Great for stargazing. Here’s another shot of the little stream through the park.

The little park has custodians this year, something new. Joan Hodgins and her nephew Darcy tend the park and live in two trailers just at the entrance. Both wonderful helpful people. I bought a generous tailgate load of firewood for $5 delivered. Joan offers outdoor programs at the park and both her and the lad demonstrated a great love for and understanding of this sacred place. Joan helped me understand the significance of a gift Spirit gave me just after I arrived in the park. I will have a video report on the gift soon.

The next night I moved from soft shell camping to luxury on the prairie, staying at The Convent Country Inn in Val Marie. A former convent saved from demolition by Robert and Mette Ducan about 15 years ago, this is my favourite bed and breakfast out there.  Other guests included Wendy and Eldon Thomson from Saskatoon who’d also attended the Regina Folk Festival and were out for a drive on the Coteau. Up on the second floor balcony, Wendy serenaded us with her lovely singing and guitar playing until way past dark. The balcony affords a wide view of the Frenchman River valley, Grasslands National Park beyond and the star-filled night sky. The Convent is for sale, a bargain at $525,000. Video coming soon. UPDATE: Watch my video tour. Here is a picture of me in front of The Convent.

Two more shots of The Convent: the first floor breakfast room and the second floor sitting room.

The next day I took the eco-driving tour of Grasslands National Park. There is some development occurring in the park. A small, primitive campground has been set up at the Belza Place which has a vast view of the Frenchman River valley, and closer to the prairie dog Dogtown, another development is being built. Spend a couple of minutes with the prairie dogs in GNP. Here’s a shot of the vista from the Belza campsite.

After a night at the Stage Coach Motel in Willow Bunch, I took a private tour of the Big Muddy Badlands offered through Coronach Tourism. Tillie Duncan, who’d lived in the area her whole life and knew it like the back of her hand, was my guide. She took me through the Sam Kelly Caves where outlaws like Dutch Henry and Butch Cassidy hid the horses and cattle they rustled back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We also visited two sacred sites that were new to me: a ceremonial circle and a turtle effigy, both high atop a butte on the Giles Ranch which is private property and accessible only through guided tours. Though elderly, Tillie was spry and full of vigour, offering countless entertaining anecdotes about the area. She still farms 13 quarters, growing durum and lentils this year! I recommend her highly for the Big Muddy tour. Here’s a shot of me taken near the turtle effigy.

A night in the Country Boy Motel then I re-explored a couple of the accessible sites Tillie had shown me, like the 1902 Big Muddy North West Mounted Police barracks and the family cemetery of an early pioneer, James Marshall, all with magnificent vistas of the huge Big Muddy valley. I revisited Castle Butte and took some great video of the place. Again coming soon to a blog near you. The only rain of my eight-day journey occurred Friday morning when I awoke in Weyburn. By the time I got to Manitoba, the sun was shining again. I was thrilled to discover Hwy #5 through Spruce Woods Park is now open and the park is slowly getting back on its feet. This is my report on the park’s current status.

I arrived home feeling rejuvenated and fully in touch with my humanity. The mighty Avenger and I will travel the prairies for another month. There is always room in the virtual passenger seat for you. Hope you are up to the drive all the way “out there” and back. Come on along.


Filed under Accommodations, Ancient Wisdom, Natural Places, Parks, Pioneers, Prairie People, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Spirit, spirit sands, Video

The Doll House by Heather Benning

Reid Dickie

The house is gone. Find out why here.

A chilling monument to the decline of the prairie farm stands next to Manitoba Highway #2 just a few miles east of the Saskatchewan border. The 2007 art project by Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning is called The Doll House. Heather took an old abandoned farmhouse, removed the rear wall completely, furnished the place with stuff from the late 1960s when it was last inhabited and covered the open wall with plexiglas – instant doll house! The name is only one of the many ironies the project evokes. The loneliness of prairie pioneer women who could go months without seeing another woman struck me. The location would have been bleak if not desolate although Highway #2 was once a trail. The house is about a hundred years old now and Heather says it will remain an art project until it falls down. Here’s my video report on The Doll House.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Art Actions, Day Tripping, Hope, Local History, Pioneers, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Video

Amazing Flood Video – The Power of Wind and Water

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to watch your property, which you worked to sandbag and protect, so easily flooded and the dikes surmounted. Watch this short video of flood waters blown onshore yesterday at a home property on Lake Manitoba between Twin Lakes Beach and St. Laurent. You can see the wind change direction about halfway through, throwing the lake onto the land.

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Filed under Flood, Video

Zeal Cutlets – DickTool Co Video History on YouTube

       More historic DickTool Co video art from the 1970s and 80s is now on YouTube. Zeal Cutlets documents seven years of DickToolery in 4 minutes and 26 seconds. Edited at the National Film Board, Zeal Cutlets compacts the years 1976 to 82 into 89 images. Besides video and film images, handmade slides, collages, photography and performance are included. The music is Raising the Count by Cabaret Voltaire bracketed with Reveen trying to trance you out. Click pitcher to get your cutlets.

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Filed under Art Actions, DickToolery, Linda, Video, video art

Linda & Reid Remember Plug-In Gallery in 2002

          Plug-In Gallery in Winnipeg offered several DickTool Co works to the public starting about 1975 including video, performance and music. In 2002, as a celebration of Plug-In’s 30th anniversary, one of its founders of Plug-In, Suzanne Gillies, created a retrospective of some of the artists who showed there.  

           We were interviewed in our home for Back in the Day 1972-2002. Suzanne introduces the show and our interview follows. It begins with a discussion about video art and VPW’s reaction to our TV show. Click pic to play the 7-minute interview.

            The camera operator for this interview was a rookie named Nicole Shimonek. Eight years later, when I approached Video Pool about creating The DickTool Kit, who should be available but Nicole Shimonek, now with years of advanced technology training and experience. Nicole’s ability made The DickTool Kit look and sound great.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, Linda, Video

Video Shoes – DickTool Co Video

              As long as I knew Linda, she loved shoes. It was lifelong. She used to say the best thing about going to church with Mom when she was a little girl was wearing her special Sunday shoes. No surprise that Linda’s first video creation prominently featured her own shoes. She had dozens of pairs all stored in their original boxes. Here she offers a fashion show of shoes (and her great legs) while building a structure of the boxes. Intimate but shy, exploring the boundless behind a pyramid of shoes, this is a beautiful arising from Linda’s imagination.

            Aesthetically Video Shoes is structural in design and execution. A process may or may not become obvious at some point, your expectations waver, her legs look great, something is out of kilter though. Video Shoes was shot in the slant roof second floor at 729 Lorette Avenue, Winnipeg using a Sony Portapak. In 1967, Sony introduced the Sony Portapak, the first portable video recording system. Though rather heavy at 46 pounds and clunky, Portapaks were portable and worked best with a two-person crew: one on camera (the first hand-held camera made), the other operating the recorder. Portapaks used reel-to-reel ½-inch tape on 5- inch reels, had wonderful black and white contrast and quality and great sound. Portapaks opened the door to artists as an inexpensive way to create video art. No more waiting to develop film, no more expensive television studio rentals, just a camera in one hand and the VTR slung over your shoulder.

           In Video Shoes, we used an audio trick. On a small cassette recorder, we pre-recorded the sound of the whole experience then inserted it as the soundtrack after the video was recorded. The sound is mostly out of, but occasionally, in sync with the picture which is a little disorienting. This was cablecast on VPW on our show Videosphere: Realizations in Videospace in February 1978 and rerun on The DickTool Co All-Night Show. This is one of 36 DickTool Co videos on YouTube at The history of DickTool Co lives at


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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, Linda, Video, video art

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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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, Linda, Music, Video

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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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, Video, video art

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

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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, Music, Video, video art

Top Three DickTool Co Videos on YouTube


Be An Artist Now :29

click pic to play


Kangeroo Birth Cycle Coat 1:07

click pic to play


I Scare Myself 5:52

click pic to play

More DickTool Co videos here.

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Filed under Art Actions, dicktool co, Film, Video, video art

Huh? Eh? New Video on YouTube!

 HUH? EH? filled a late Saturday evening with an idea that’s been rattling around in my head for a while. Pictures come from last summer’s travels, soundtrack by DickToolCo circa 1980, Movie Maker easy but limited, 67 minutes from start to being uploaded and now you can watch it on the DickToolCo channel on YouTube  by clicking on the grumpy guy. It’s 27 seconds long. It’ll be fun! Really!

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Filed under Video