Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Call the police: There's a singer on the bus

Q: Who’s the most interesting
person you've met on public transportation? #GOODasks

Omnibus - bus with crash test dummies

Friday night, 6pm, Vancouver, Canada. West Broadway bus, approaching Main St-- Someone sang at the back of the bus, with a harmonica. Some people liked it. Some people wanted to call the police. It was a country-folk sound, with harmony (a bit Celtic). Reminded me of The Weight by The Band. A passenger suddenly walked to the front of the bus and hovered over the bus driver who didn't mind, and shouted: "Why aren't you calling the police!" No rules were being broken, he replied. The singer also replied, you don't call the police on crying babies so why are you doing to this me? He kept singing. One woman who sat for a while, and one man who literally just got on, taunted the singer as he did. I thought a fight would break out (felt like the late Billy Martin kicking dirt at an umpire, close quarters).

If you don’t know, Billy, this is him.

Most passengers were surprised over the commotion over a song. I think this was really about taste in music. His material was actually very good if you like the genre. It made me think just how volatile a world can become over differing tastes... randomly and suddenly on the bus (just like the world outside or in someone's brain). Then i thought of the crying baby.

* * *

making ends meet on a bus

The same week on this same bus, i reunited with an old college friend, Martin Ertl, President of my Alma Mater Society, at University of British Columbia (1989-90). Hadn't seen him in more than a decade. We were once neighbors. It was a happy, random, moment. Random because the bus was jammed and he stood where i was in the crowd. Like life, getting on/off a bus one stop later or earlier, having a seat or standing somewhere else, means we might not have met.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Backwards. Forwards.


I am an old fart.

I get too tired, too poor, to get out.

There’s too much online, I can’t be bothered.

I need to pay my bills.

I don’t know what will make a difference.

I don’t know what can be done to get somewhere.

Prove it.

People are so selfish, I can’t take people anymore. I’ve been screwed too many times.

Do pissy people really get pissy results?

Who says?

* * *

My friends still like me - see.

* * *

Reasons for being.

I have young blood in my veins. I am NEW YORK.

Inspired by music, I go out. I will journey there - a quest for the Holy Grail – to be inspired.

I invested months on Twitter, meeting so many special people. And they made miracles happen.

I reduced my bills to near-zero and it forces me to look at only meaningful things when I spend. My credit card owes me 78 cents (if only I could charge interest).

I want to make a difference.

I go where my passion takes me – one thing leads to another. Belief = change. Vision makes you see it.

Magic arrives when you look for it. I’m learning something I’ve never learned before. To produce more, to be more.

There are some people I know, to whom I would say, don’t change.

Inspiration begets inspiration.

You know it.

* * *
OMG, I can't believe a total stranger just did that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life before and after…

Let’s see if I can beat time. I’ve been writing a time capsule for her. Dear daughter…I

I wrote a chapter never published, struggling with format, to beat in time. This was the gist:

1997Year before my kid was born

A woman was just coming into her own

Princess Diana died, changing public photography laws, forever. I got married that day. Analog photos were printed…freezing time.

- I had an analog cell phone and pager. Remember those? My first digital phone was just months away.

- I still had analog cameras (and rolls of film). I used my first digital camera (Sony Mavica) and digital video camera (JVC) in parallel. It seemed odd not to print pictures.

- She was pregnant. We lived in our downtown condo (“Blue Tower”) in Vancouver, Canada.

- I sponsored her immigration successfully: 1) She took a blood test for AIDS 2) She got fingerprinted for a criminal check 3) My boss wrote a letter of employment saying what I earned 4) I shared love letters with the feds and a photo taken when we first met in 1989 – a proof of love – yes it’s true.

I photographed the Comet Hale-Bopp in analog in 1997. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, twice as long as the Great Comet of 1811. It became known as the Great Comet of 1997.

- I still used a fax machine.
- I bought my last VCR and analog TV.
- This is also the last year of the cassette tape recorder built in a car.
- I bought my first new car with my first bank loan (paid off by 2001).
- I worked for a charity as a fundraiser on payroll with benefits.
- I raised donations from corporate sponsors, government grants and philanthropists
- I had my first credit card via my first million dollar client (GM partnered with TD). I hadn’t turned 30 yet.
- The Yankees couldn’t defend their World Series title.
- It had been four years since Canada last saw the Stanley Cup home, in Montreal.
- Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and Sheryl Crow (If It Makes You Happy) were rising stars.
- U2’s Pop CD played regularly in my car – where I had a CD-to-cassette converter. I once called U2 the last great rock band in 1985.

- I had a 486 computer running Windows 95, on dial-up, and watched a goldfish on Netscape, the main browser of the day.

- I paid $10 a month for an email address with – named after the first text-browser.

- I searched on Yahoo! and browsed every now and then.

- Food was my biggest cost.

- Gas was 29 cents a litre.

- I weighed 165 lbs.

- My eye prescription was –675.

- Bill Clinton was President.

- I took care of two cats – Fat and Skinny.

2010Year when my kid enters Grade 7

A gown without a woman

Princess Diana’s black gown, her first worn publicly while engaged, was just auctioned for $276,621. I am no longer married. She is dead.

- I reduced my digital subscription expenses from an all-time high of $500 a month in 2000 (Blackberry, satellite, long distance, phones etc) down to an all-time low of <$30 a month for a cell phone (I use internet free – shared with others).

- I no longer have anything analog – not even a camera. I only take pictures with my cell phone. My old analog photos are still kept in library archives, timeless.

- We live oceans apart – my Daughter in Tokyo. I live in a house north of Toronto by the woods.

- My ex-wife lost her Canadian immigration status while working in Japan.

- I might fax once every two years. I last sent a fax to file investor evidence to lawyers at a regulatory body.

- I watch HDTV and movies on DVD.

- Most CDs in my car are via friends from live performances. I’ve downloaded more than 3000 songs – and even helped start up a download store. The album is dying. My Daughter uses iTunes cards to buy singles. I once had 100s of vinyl albums and even some 8-track tapes. Dark Side of the Moon somehow survived a basement flood in the house where i grew up.

Dark Side of the Moon

- While I was away from Vancouver, my car got totaled in 2008, hit by another car running a stop sign. My friend survived, unscathed. Strangely, months later in Toronto, I got into my first serious car accident, black ice. I survived, unscathed. Two cars totaled in one year. I’ve been driving since 1984.

- I have an online arts/cause patronage venture as an entrepreneur. Pledges come from the crowd. I go days, weeks, months, years …without pay.

- I no longer use my credit card (an experiment, more than two years old now), and have never used its points. The balance reads, they owe me 78 cents. A rebate from a class action lawsuit arrived once (they over-charged for US exchange rate). I can’t charge interest on what they owe me. They also reduced the points they originally promised me would never be reduced. GM needed a bailout and I still have thousands of dollars in points to buy a car.

- The Yankees took 10 years to win another World Series after 9/11. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still waging.

- It’s been 17 years since Canada last saw the Stanley Cup home, in Montreal. This is Montreal’s longest drought without a Cup. They’ve won one every decade but this one.

- Alanis Morissette just got married. Sheryl Crow just adopted a baby.

- U2’s Bono just had emergency spinal surgery, recovering in France. U2 producer Dan Lanois just got into a serious motorcycle accident, recovering in LA. No Line On The Horizon plays in my car. My copy wasn’t even purchased from a record shelf in a record store. It was found behind the counter of a bookstore.

No Line On The Horizon

- I use Windows XP on Satellite Internet. I bought my Daughter an iPod iTouch (running on WiFi) and we got her a MacBook where she makes movies. Apple’s come a long way since I first used Mactintosh, Pagemaker, Photoshop and Quark to publish newspapers. Recently Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalization – something once considered unfathomable.

- I google, gmail (free), tweet, Facebook, and browse MySpace, LinkedIn, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! News, Google News, and YouTube regularly on Firefox. Open source has come a long way.

- Food is my biggest cost.

- Gas is sometimes above $1 a litre.

- I weigh 195 lbs.

- My eye prescription is –800.

- Barack Obama became President on a platform of Change.

- I have no pets. My Daughter has a dog.

Change is not what we think it is

I am trying to think of what has stayed the same, exactly the same. I am still 5”10. Outside of that, everything has changed. My hair is not as black as it used to be. Two of my bosses died from heart attacks (they worked harder than anyone I’ve known). My youngest brother lost his battle to cancer at age 29, two years ago (he was the nicest of us). My friend Nicole Vienneau disappeared from her Lonely Planet hotel three years ago. We’re still looking for her.

Nicole Vienneau - they found her diaries after she disappeared from her hotel on March 30-31, 2007. Her last word on March 30 was "content."

I got into my first serious car accident a year and a half ago, and somehow walked away with only a bump on the head. Somehow I missed a ravine, trees, telephone poles and oncoming traffic, spinning on black ice. I kept on hearing Vanessa Carlton’s song Home as my life flashed before me. Somehow the car landed rear first (dampening the impact). Though I don’t get to see my Daughter too often – I am grateful she is alive and well.

Launching so many start ups was tough. Human nature is never easy. More than half the people who join walk away, no matter what you do (personal lives), and some may even betray (personal fear). Fame and fortune never made a difference.

Life goes on.

Tempus Fugit. Time Flies. I once transcribed a lost speech by late author Carol Shields and named it Tempus Fugit I heard it when she was alive, live. I transcribed it long after she died. Posthumously.

This is how the speech ended:

The poet Rilke tells us to be skeptical about the simple and to trust in the difficult. That difficulty has, in fact, a beautiful face.

"Tempus Fugit."

It is November 28, 1996.

Time is passing. The clock is ticking as we sit here. The world is turning. But you will not be overtaken by time if you instead befriend it, taking time in your own hands. Taking your time, your sweet time. Time to listen, to watch, to breathe, to change. Time is yours in all its fullness. Thank you.
~ Carol Shields

As time goes on, I meet more fickle people. But I also meet more inspiring people, who stay inspired a long time. A heart that believes is a heart that beats.

I am wiser now understanding the miracle of the breakthrough.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Be honest. It’s true.

The world was once built around an extended family – that was part of a community – that was part of a religion. That was based on a marriage.

For better or worse, divorce became popular. Religion was shattered. Families if they existed became nuclear. Neighborhoods were strangers.

Teams traded their players for money.

People became single – unable to commit, supposedly independent. But where is the freedom?

In a spun world of PR, weaknesses are intolerable, mistakes are zero, honesty is a forgotten word.

The world’s failed to get along even more. There’s very little practice.

On that note, it’s hard to start a band.

Passions start to fissure, lacking nourishment.

Lies start to flourish to get ahead.

Be honest. It’s true.

Where is the love?

He sang.

Bob Dylan wondered if he was still a son or a brother.

Don't Look Back