Erin Reads at the Brantford Armouries

In conjunction with the opening of National Poetry Month, and also in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 56 Field Regiment and the 200th anniversary of the Brantford and Brant County Military Garrison, Erin and I attended a poetry reading held inside the Brantford Armoury. Erin was among a line-up of five poets and, of course, she read from Ghost Maps, her award-winning book of poems based around the life of a soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

This is officially the most intimidating place either of us has read. We have vintage military equipment parked here and about, and the seating area resides beneath a camouflage net. There is a Howitzer at the back of the audience, which can be aimed at the poets, I guess, if the soldiers don’t like the poetry. Lots of men in uniform, making us feel very welcome, and there’s something heartwarming about a man in full battle-fatigues, reduced to talking babytalk to little Vivian.

Vivian has been travelling well, and it’s good that Erin is back out on the poetry circuit reading once again. She’s also writing new poetry as well as a journal of her experiences during Vivian’s first year. Vivian requires full time attention, which is no surprise. What is a surprise is how much we’ve been able to accomplish in spite of this.

Brantford is holding celebrations around this anniversary all throughout the year, and it may be worth your while to attend, if you are interested in these military things. You should come out to Brantford to see how much things have improved over the past seven years. When I last visited the town in 1998, portions of the downtown looked like they’d been bombed out. This blue collar city had lost a lot of its industry and wasn’t adjusting well to its new role as a bedroom community on the far end of Toronto’s fringe.

Then Wilfred Laurier University came knocking, looking for space to host a satellite campus. As Brantford has always been short of post-secondary education institutions, they jumped at the chance and now, 1500 students and 40 faculty later, the demographic of the downtown has changed, and blocks are back from the dead. I’m doing an article about this and I’ve already interviewed the Mayor of Brantford; he gave me a lot of material. Look for it in the coming weeks.


The view from the podium, underneath the camouflage netting.

Spam I have Received

Sometimes, the stuff they point in spam to try to get through the spam filters is worth keeping in your writing journal. Here’s one that sold Viagra:

once it must have covered over a thousand kilometres in five minutes. Consequently it had been flying at a speed of more than twelve thousand kilometres per hour! Impossible, ergo—he wasn’t in Yalta! What other explanation could there be? Hypnosis? There … was no such hypnosis which could hurl a man a thousand kilometres. Could he be imagining that he was in Yalta? He might, but would the Yalta police imagine it? No, no, really, it was absurd! … But they had telegraphed from Yalta, hadn’t they? The treasurer’s face was dreadful to see. By now someone outside was twisting and rattling the door handle and the usher could be heard shouting desperately : ‘No, you can’t! I wouldn’t let you in even if you were to kill me! They’re in conference! ’ Rimsky pulled himself together as well as he could, picked up the telephone receiver and said into it: ‘I want to put through a priority call to Yalta.’ ‘Clever! ’ thought Varenukha. But the call to Yalta never went through. Rimsky put back the receiver.


My father forwards this article from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record:

After spending years and millions of dollars trying to develop a strategic city block, councillors decided yesterday they’ll just pave part of it over.

They approved spending $520,000 for the construction of a temporary, 342-space parking lot on the site of the Forsyth factory.

A majority of council voted earlier this month to demolish the historic landmark, sparking widespread outrage. Even the Heritage Foundation of Canada condemned the move.

The decision yesterday to build a parking lot on the site could intensify the controversy surrounding the city’s troubled attempts to redevelop the land known as Centre Block.

The Record also ran an excellent political cartoon, which was just a drawing of a memo on a desk reading;





Okay, let’s recap: a number of Kitchener residents are upset that city council chose to suddenly demolish the historic Forsythe factory in the to-be-developed Centre Block. The decision runs counter to the earlier city council decision to purchase the building five years ago and prevent its demolition. People’s suspicions are peaked when the decision to demolish is made on the basis of a city-commissioned engineering report, citing the building’s sudden loss of structural integrity, despite the fact that an independently report commissioned a month beforehand claimed that the structure was sound, but council maintains that they only acted on an engineer’s recommendation, and the demolition was not part of some development proposal that has so far been kept secret from the public.

Now it turns out that the property beneath the Forsythe building is to be paved. Not really a surprise; since you have a mound of rubble, and a couple of years before development starts on it, I guess you might as well pave it over and make money from parking fees. And, conveniently, Wilfred Laurier, whose school of social work is located kitty-corner to the site, has been wondering where it can find new parking spaces the city promised when it signed its deal with the University.


It might just be all a coincidence, but that’s a lot of coincidences. In light of this, how can city councillors be surprised when citizens accuse them of having a secret agenda on the Centre Block?

The Prime Minister of One Vest


So, on the left is a picture of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Afghanistan. Underneath that (very wisely-worn) flak jacket is a beige vest-jacket. On the left is Prime Minister Harper in Cancun with George Bush, wearing that same jacket.

James Koole comments on Harper’s fashion sensibilities:

Does anyone know what the heck Stephen Harper was wearing? Bush was out there in a loose fitting white shirt, looking like an American on vacation in Mexico. Harper had a blue dress shirt on and a weird vest that looked like something you would wear in Iraq because you were afraid of being shot. At best he looked like a photographer.

Of course he looks better than he did in the now infamous cowboy photo from last summer. On the other hand, this fashion curiousity is bound to bring that picture back into the spotlight in the next day or so.

I think I’ll watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight — something tells me it’ll be talked about.


The question I have is, since this appears to be Harper’s outfit for visiting warmer climes, does he have only one vest-jacket? And why, when visiting hot, dry places, does he put on a vest? Is he afraid of sweat-pits, or something?

Just asking, is all.

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