Coping with the uber angst of the modern world

Nothing in modern history has felt as tribal and reckless as what’s unfolding now

Coping with the uber angst of the modern worldCan you remember a time as crazy as this? If you’re 60-something like me, you can flash back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Martin Luther King Jr. and brothers John and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the Age of Aquarius, the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love, Mikhail Gorbachev and the end of Russian communism. But…

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dream

Why visiting small museums can expand your knowledge of the broader world

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dreamThe Untzi Museoa is a modest naval museum in San Sebastian, an important Basque community on the eastern verge of Spain’s northern coast. San Sabastian’s relationship with the sea goes back to the early 1200s, when its prominent Mount Urgull was first fortified to ward off French attacks on its diverse community of traders, merchant…

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald Trump

In the Trump world, money is the key metric and the truth is relative. Can the midterm elections change anything?

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald TrumpNow that I’ve read A Higher Loyalty (James Comey, 2018), War on Peace (Ronan Farrow, 2018), Fire and Fury (Michael Wolff, 2018) and Fear (Bob Woodward, 2018), I feel like I really know the ultimate protagonist. The portrayals of U.S. President Donald Trump are remarkably consistent. He is: vain, compulsively in-the-moment, intellectually lazy, a misogynist…

Turning an inner-city wasteland into a thriving cultural hub

How the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a bastion of contemporary art, resurrected a community and why others should follow its lead

Turning an inner-city wasteland into a thriving cultural hubIn 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened on the estuary of the Nervion River and immediately became the template for all new cultural institution architecture worldwide. Frank Gehry was the building’s visionary architect. His Spanish client was the Basque administration, along with new York’s Guggenheim Foundation. They sought to use architecture and contemporary art to…

On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West Coast

As the local orca family hunts sea lions, the resident bald eagles leave for a pre-winter feast of salmon

On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West CoastWhen you live in the coastal rainforest, you learn the natural indicators that presage seasonal change. The mornings are getting darker, the days are becoming shorter and the evenings are definitely cooler. We swam on Sept. 3 but the ocean was noticeably colder. And we spent less time out front going through our exercise routines…

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plans

The summer of 2018’s last trip into Desolation Sound ended abruptly, and not because the weather changed

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plansOn the morning of Sept. 2, we decided to take a last trip in our boat into Desolation Sound, the world-class boating destination that lies a mere half hour from our Westview Marina berth in Powell River. All summer we’ve been popping in and out of this destination, taking advantage of blue skies and 30C…

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrifice

In the selfish era of Donald Trump, McCain’s life offered a shining example of how to serve with distinction

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrificeIt’s hard for Canadian citizens to take the full measure of an American politician like John McCain, whose route to public service glory began in the combat of the Vietnam War. Our country doesn’t particularly valourize the military and those who serve, unless perhaps they do peacekeeping missions with the United Nations overseas. McCain’s career…

Connecting the dots in the summer of smoke

Right across Canada, dramatic signs of climate change are casting a pall on the landscape

Connecting the dots in the summer of smokeThe last five summers at Skelhp, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, have been progressively drier. We’ve had one significant wildfire nearby, in Sechelt Inlet, which wafted ash in a big brown plume over our regional air shed. The smoke from this fire three years ago caused us to close all the windows in the July heat…

Is a run for the presidency in Ronan Farrow’s future?

The author of War on Peace demonstrates the kind of qualities that suggest a political career in the making

Is a run for the presidency in Ronan Farrow’s future?War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (2018) by Ronan Farrow is a prescient work in the sense that it was five years in the writing, predating the diplomatic idiocy of U.S. President Donald Trump by a good three years. Its opening chapters detail the initial steps to weaponize the…

‘There’s a bat in the house!’

Falling asleep with bat gear ready, you don't know what to expect. You just have that Boy Scout sense that you’re prepared

‘There’s a bat in the house!’“There’s a bat in the house!” shouted our daughter, fresh off the plane from London, just as she was preparing for a restful night in her parents’ country house. My wife and I were prepared, to tell the truth. The previous night we had heard the telltale swish of batwings in our bedroom and in…

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning ship

After more than a little high-seas misadventure, the Frankie finally proves seaworthy – and sanitary

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning shipBack in 2012, we had a dreamboat, an 18-foot Hourston Glascraft. It was brand-new, had a magnificent 150-horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard, and quickly became the envy of the Skelhp government wharf. We paid monthly wharfage dues all summer and used it to fish and cruise. We christened her the Francine, after my then 90-year-old Mom.…

An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for good

I’ve become much more prone to analyze daily social situations on the grounds of age, ethnicity and gender

An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for goodBeing older (I’m 67 and increasingly told this is old), white and male is being pointed out more and more these days. In less than glowing terms. While Donald Trump is arguably the global archetype of the boomer personae I’m describing, the phrase “old white man” is getting more deliberate usage in different parts of…

Nation to nation at the Calgary Stampede

So long, Indian Village. Welcome, Elbow River Camp. The Stampede spirit shines through to embrace reconciliation

Nation to nation at the Calgary StampedeAs a member of a family who never missed a Calgary Stampede in 30 years of Calgary residency, I was made incredibly happy by Facebook pal George Brookman’s recent post. His announcement was simple, and direct: “A wonderful representative of the Indigenous people, Cieran Starlight will be the last ‘Indian Princess’ to represent the ‘Indian…

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhere

I've been alive to observations and anecdotes of climate change for years. I now have hundreds of them stored in my memory

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhereImagine drilling into the accumulated layers of ice on Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada at 5,959 metres in Yukon’s Saint Elias Mountains, to extract ice-cores for scientific study. Dr. Gerald Holdsworth, expeditionary climber and climate scientist at the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America had been doing it for years when…

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic genius

And a full dose of air-conditioned museum comfort certainly doesn't hurt the appreciation of Picasso

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic geniusLast week, thousands of Montrealers began to experience what I expect will gradually become a new phenomenon in global art gallery visitation – viewing art to get out of the heat. The heat wave (CBC news referred to it as “a heat event”) really descended on the city on the previous weekend, with Saturday’s temperatures…
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