Yes, let’s.


Peace on earth


This is what working-class dancing looks like.

Sometimes all you need is a smile. And if it comes with a side order of social consciousness, all the better.

This is a video I was sent today. It’s two years old, but it’s as, um, entertaining as the day it was filmed.

Who says dockers can’t dance, eh? When this  bunch of wharfies get down at Port Botany in New South Wales, girl, it is sweeeeeeet.

The Pink Crusade is an Australian breast cancer drive. Hence the pink gear. But if I was you, I’d keep my eye on the guy in the orange pants…

Sometimes newspapers do ask the right questions.

The New Year’s countdown is about to begin across Canada. Kind of hard to figure out this year what’s worth celebrating and what there might be to look forward to. Feels like one of those years when a lot of good stuff happened, and there were moments of real wonder — but overall, it mostly felt a lot like a long cold shower in a cheap room at the Hotel Reality.

Still, there is a good place to start when you wake up tomorrow morning.

Do it here. Then click through all the links in the series. You could do worse than open the new year over an aspirin, a coffee and some inspiring journalism. (And yes, of the mainstream variety, I hope some of you note.)

It is the Toronto Star’s latest offering in its annual Atkinson series; this year the project was awarded  to Michael Valpy, and he spent it producing a series on the state of Canada’s social fabric.

I’ve been thinking for days about how to write something clever about the series that the newspaper I grew up with has produced. And I’ve concluded there isn’t really a lot to say except that you should read it. Valpy looks at everything from the cost of young people tuning out of communal life to the cost of tossing skilled folks out of work before their time — with the emphasis on the mutual cost we all pay. He writes about interns and immigrants and the First Nations Canadians we grew up calling Indians.

The series is a different kind of cold shower. Not a lot of delicate word-spinning or heavy theoretical wanking. Just some clean, clear, concise attention to some important issues, told through the eyes of the people at the centre of them, penned in language unavoidable for the rest of us.

It’s enough to wake you up and get you on your way to a brand new year with an ear tuned to the questions that matter — and an eye for who is, and isn’t, asking them.

Much credit to Valpy, and The Star, and the late Joe Atkinson. There’s hope yet for Canadian journalism, eh?

Raise your voice 24: War Is Over.

Ok. We’re approaching the finish line of the Great Christmas Carol Throw Down, and the pressure is on to find just the right tune to carry us across.

Christmas Eve is kind of a mixed emotional soup for a lot of us. At home, far from home, lots of loved ones, or not enough. Some of us hugging our favourite people, some of us wishing we could. My daughter went out to visit a good friend last night whose dad had just died. Kids in their 20s, both trying to find meaning in it all. And life goes on.

Anyway, for all of us, there’s some peace in this for the season, I think.

There’s also a whole lot to be found over here, where the elfs behind the musical machine at The Gazette have been raising their very own voices all month. And it’s been awesome.

Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters.

Raise your voice 23: Because Christmas is Canadian


The Great Christmas Carol Throw Down, Day 23: It’s feeling kind of odd to me to watch the remains of the snowman melting all over a very green front lawn outside the window — at the same time I watch my old hometown on TV, snap-crackle-and-popping its way out from under a wicked ice storm.

(It’s a whole other kind of odd having to explain to my own kid, who was born in Vancouver, what an ice storm is, but that’s a story for another day.)

Anyway, here’s the perfect song to make me feel like a Canadian should feel in December.

Raise your voice 22: Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag

Day 22 of the Great Christmas Carol Etc Etc.

Bob may be your uncle, but he was my dad, and so in his honour