Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cindy

I am just fucking drunk. No kidding.

I sit in one of those blurs that can only come through a bottle of Jim Beam and a boycott of water.

Cindy slides over, touches my hand and slowly starts running her finger down the side of my face. Its kind of a come on I guess!

-So what the fuck?

She laughs.

Touching forehead to table, angry, drinks, more drinks.

Hard for me to believe, cause I knew her once. Lovers once.


Cindy was a dream I had, when sober, a few years back.

Yet here we are, parkside, patio lights too dim, old men looking down on the pits with bottles of Fifty and shots of Jack, or so it would seem.

Trees now impressionist by hour sixty-one of a sixty-two hour bender.

I see Cindy as through a carnival glass. Pushing over, detached, rings touching..."I love you".

What was it then, 1994?

Cindy dancing down Walnut Ave, driven in a van by her Dad, residence bound.

I met her because I said I would help carry that chair up the stairs. I met her because I came a day too early. So it goes.

Cindy has a screwdriver. Leaning with that beautiful face over this empty battlefield of failed emotion.

-Jonathon, really what can you...

Cigarettes out, smoke streams across the table.

The bar patio blessed with the left-overs of a generation I would love to forget.

She puts her index finger under my chin, pulling forward gently, drawing me a moth to the flame.

Steve Earle... I think...comes on. Some duet. Sad.

-Why don't we take off...you know like in the movies. No looking back.

She shakes her head no.

-Here, darling, there is only looking back.

And there I am again, these mornings before it all, snug against her, oblivion another brilliant sunrise away.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Art: Tempest


Tempest - Acrylic on Canvas by Natalie Lochwin
Click on image to enlarge

(Prints of Natalie's art are available, email theleftchapter@outlook.com for details)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Magnificent Salads Cookbook 1988 with Bean Salad & Layered Taco Salad! -- Vintage Cookbook #TBT

Vintage Cookbook: Magnificent Salads Cookbook, Kathryn Ramsay
Publication Details: Magnificent Cookbooks Publishing, 1988


Magnificent Salads Cookbook is a wonderful piece of late 80's kitsch. Done with a sturdy spiral binding and illustrated with a full page, full colour, and fully 80's picture for each recipe, it runs the gambit from the solid and traditional to the almost absurd and over-the-top.

Part of a series of cookbooks from a small Richmond Hill, Ontario publisher, they also released "Magnificent" cookbooks for cookies, casseroles, muffins and more, none of which, sadly, I have yet been able to get my hands on! If the salad cookbook is any indication, they would likely be rather fun.


Yes...this is a real photo from the book!

Magnificent Salads has 60 recipes with names like "Harvest Vegetable", "Warm Spinach", "Eggs Benedict Salad", "Molded Salmon" (which rather needs to be seen to be believed!), and so on. These are all over the place from healthy and vegetarian to "Steak Salad" which is pretty much as it sounds!

I have an affection for this cookbook that is entirely in inverse proportion to its culinary seriousness. This is perhaps due to the fact that so many of the salads are really, really good as well as the fact that they could be made by absolutely anyone.

So, without further delay, as always we are sharing two recipes as they originally appeared and that reflect two opposite poles of what you will find if you ever pick this up this little blast from the 80's past.


Bean Salad: 

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:
Green beans 1lb/500g
Yellow beans 1lb/g
Red kidney beans 2-14 oz. cans/796 ml.
Chick peas 19 oz. can/540 ml. can
Spanish Onion 1 large

Vinaigrette - Yield 1 1/2 cups (375 ml.):
Corn oil 1 cup/250ml
White vinegar 1/4 cup/ 50ml
Lemon juice 1/4 cup/50 ml
Salt 2 teaspoons/10ml
Granulated sugar 1 teaspoon/5 ml
Dried thyme leaves 1 teaspoon/5 ml
Ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon/2 ml
Celery salt 1/2 teaspoon/ 2 ml
Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon/15 ml
Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons/10 ml

Trim the ends of the green and yellow beans and break them into pieces of the desired length. Wash them, put them in a pot and cover them in cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the beans until they are firm but can be pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain them well and place in a large bowl.
Drain the juice from the kidney beans and chick peas and rinse them under cold water. Drain them well and add them to the beans.
Chop the onion into small pieces and add it to the vegetables. Toss all the ingredients to combine well.
To make the vinaigrette place all the ingredients in a jar, blender or food processor and combine until thoroughly mixed.
Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to coat all the ingredients. Cover the salad well and refrigerate several hours to allow the beans to absorb the flavor of the dressing. Stir the salad several times while marinating and toss again just before serving.

Layered Taco Salad

Yield 6 servings

Ingredients:
Ground Beef 1lb/500g
Taco seasoning mix 1 package
Iceberg Lettuce 1/2 head
Tomatoes 2 medium
Kidney beans 15 oz/425 ml can
Grated cheddar cheese 1 cup/250 ml
Chopped green olives 1/2 cup/125ml
Chopped black olives 1/2 cup/125 ml
Chopped green onions 1 bunch
Avocado 1/2 medium
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon/5 ml

Dressing-Yield 1/2 cups (375 ml):
Salsa picante 1 cup/250 ml
Sour cream 1/2 cup/ 125 ml.

Garnish:
Tortilla chips

Cook the beef and the taco seasoning mix together according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
Mix the salsa picante and sour cream together in a small bowl.
In a large glass bowl shred the lettuce. Pour 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the dressing over the lettuce. Peel the tomatoes, cut them into wedges and arrange them on top. Drain the kidney beans and lay them over the tomatoes. Cover with 1/4 cup (50ml) of the dressing. Sprinkle on the cheese and pour 1/4 cup (50ml) of dressing over. Spoon the cooled meat over top and pour on the remaining dressing.
At serving time, sprinkle the olives and onions around the edge. Cut the avocado into slices, moisten it with lemon juice to prevent discoloring and arrange it on top of the salad. Surround with tortilla chips and serve.
HINT: This is also very attractive if made in individual dishes. Salsa picante is available in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores.

It's morning again in Canada: Mr. Mulcair goes to Ottawa

NDP leader Tom Mulcair had been on something of a roll of late.

Recently, he finally, after a period of prevarication, came out and said explicitly that if elected the NDP would repeal Bill C-51.


And as Simon Dougherty pointed out in an Open Letter to Mulcair in March, the NDP leader, while still leaving much to be desired, has taken a number of baby-steps in the right direction.

All of which makes Mulcair and the NDP's newest and latest TV and internet ad all the more unfortunate.

As the sun rises over the fine middle-class people of Canada, getting ready to happily do the work that needs doing, Tom assures them that having been "raised on middle-class values" he will bring the "change" that will help the -- wait for it -- middle-class.




In-and-of-itself saying that you will govern to help "middle-class families" represents absolutely zero change from any of the other major parties, both of which, Liberal and Conservative alike, say exactly the same thing!

In fact, the attempts of all three of the mainstream capitalist parties -- and most especially the two which claim to be "progressive" -- to fall all over each other in pandering to this appalling and facile narrative of the ubiquitous need to centre the entire Canadian political discourse around the "middle-class", whatever that is, is becoming increasingly grotesque.

Never mind that Mulcair's vision of the middle-class seems to include everyone from a barista to business owners to the leader of the Official Opposition (who makes over $200,000 a year), which would actually, were it true -- which it is not -- indicate that it is seemingly doing just fine.

The middle class it seems has really expanded in this vision and is now bigger then ever apparently. Guess all of the worry about the disappearing middle-class was misguided!

But, more significantly, what are these "middle-class" values Mulcair was raised on and now represents?

He doesn't explicitly say, but I think we can make some fairly solid educated guesses.

He does talk about how it seems to entirely consist of people who "work hard every day". I guess in Tom Mulcair's Canada those people are all middle-class -- or this is at the very least true of all of those with "middle-class values".

So what of those who "work hard every day" but are living in poverty, those who are on social assistance, who are unable to find work or who are unable to work for one of any number of reasons?

I guess they were raised with the wrong values.

Everyone with Mulcair's "middle-class values" would also seem to have families which, it would also appear, are the very reason they "work hard" in the first place. And, of course, the government should be there to help these middle-class families "make ends meet"!

A more bourgeois, apple-pie and white picket fence, neo-Norman Rockwell vision of the "hard-working" people of the nation would be hard to imagine, actually.

It is also, with its implied narratives, a vision with deeply reactionary underpinnings and roots.

What do "middle-class families" wish to use their alleged values of hard work to achieve?

Happy marriages in nice middle-class houses where they can raise their children one would assume.

Stripped of any policy, other than a vague promise to preserve the environment -- a promise that, given the realities and harm of patterns of personal energy and fossil fuel consumption is actually likely incompatible with a pure fixation on helping the "middle-class" "make ends meet" -- the ad has themes utterly reminiscent of any number of other campaign ads and soliloquies idealizing the alleged virtues of family and hard-work from across the spectrum .

Justin Trudeau similarly waxes poetic about hard-working "middle-class" families (although he actually manages to fit a policy idea in...though not a particularly good one):




In fact, of course, Trudeau rarely talks about anything else.

The notion of the hard-working, home-owning, middle-class family aglow with the values that embody a nation is also one of the grand ideological pillars of modern North American neo-liberal and neo-conservative politics.




Given the society and economy that these narratives have helped to create over the past generation, it is long past the time for those on the left to turn away from them.

The New Jerusalem will not be built on the allegedly middle-class "values" of "family", low taxes, low interest rates, boutique tax breaks, narrow "programs" aimed at wedge voters, petty pocketbook "populism" and total rubbish about the virtues of "hard work".

In fact, it has and will continue to die on them.

"Men's Rights" group CAFE is trying to march in Pride Toronto: You can help stop them!

UPDATE:  From the Daily Extra: "In a decision released June 10, Paul Bent, an arbitrator appointed by Pride Toronto, wrote that after reviewing numerous complaints regarding the Canadian Association for Equality’s (CAFE) intention to participate in the parade, he had decided to revoke CAFE’s permit...

...In a written statement, Pride Toronto says that it takes all complaints very seriously and respects the result of the dispute resolution process. “This decision, based on a thorough reflection of all views, will prevent CAFE from participating in the 2015 Pride parade and all future parades and events organized by Pride Toronto.”


The Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), Canada's most prominent "men's rights" group is trying, again, to march in Toronto's annual Pride parade.

CAFE, as I noted just a few days ago in Dan Perrins, CAFE & Canada's Men's Rights movement, despite its attempts to claim otherwise, is rather openly associated with extremists like Perrins and the American misogynist hate site, A Voice for Men.

Natalie Lochwin and I, among many others, have written about CAFE, the Canadian Men's Rights Movement and A Voice for Men repeatedly in the past. Here are links to some of those articles:

Lies our fathers told us: The men's rights movement and campus-based misogyny

Diminishing legitimate 'male' issues: Gary Mason, the Men's Rights Movement and the myth of misandry

Mainstreaming misogyny: Canada’s new charitable hate movement, CAFE

Guess what's coming to U of T: The Men's Rights Movement, Janice Fiamengo and Paul Elam

A Voice for Men's new Canadian misogynist campaign, CAFE and Ryerson University

A wide variety of other links can be found on the website here: Anti-MRA Links & Resources

Last year, entirely justly, CAFE was barred from marching in World Pride, though they disrespectfully then tried to anyway.

Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois stated that “I’m not too familiar with the work that [CAFE does], but obviously if there is some concern by anybody in the community we will take them extremely seriously.”

Which is fair enough -- so now it is time to make him familiar!

You can contact Pride Toronto by phone at  416-927-7433 or email at office@pridetoronto.com to find out how to "make a confidential complaint through Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process."

UPDATE: Pride Toronto has issued the following statement:
"Pride Toronto has received numerous complaints about the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) regarding their application to march in this year’s Pride Parade and we would like to thank everyone for providing their feedback and concerns.

Pride Toronto takes these complaints very seriously and our Dispute Resolution Process has now been activated to look into this matter thoroughly and promptly. To respect the impartiality of this process, Pride Toronto will not be making any comments until the arbitrator makes a decision shortly.


The Board and the staff are confident in our Dispute Resolution Process, and, as an organization, we are committed to remain fair while treating everyone with respect."

http://www.pridetoronto.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-Pride-Toronto-Dispute-Resolution-Process.pdf



Joe Higgins speaks in Toronto 2011 - with Tommy Douglas' Mouseland! Leftist TBT

Four years ago today, the great Irish Socialist leader Joe Higgins traveled to Toronto to speak at the founding meeting of the Socialist Party of Ontario, an attempt to create a real left electoral alternative in the province.



Joe addressed those assembled to talk about the devastation in Europe and Ireland caused by austerity politics, the failure of the traditional social democratic and labour parties to oppose these politics and on the need for new left parties in Canada and beyond, as well as on the fundamental bankruptcy of the NDP.

We share this speech, which still remains powerfully true today, as well as, as a bonus, a video of Joe introducing the famous socialist parable, Mouseland, written by Tommy Douglas.




After the convention, Joe and a group of us also went to enjoy some of Toronto's best chicken wings at a working class bar in Etobicoke! You can read an account of this trip here: Going for Toronto's best chicken wings with Irish Socialist leader Joe Higgins

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

One Skillet Beef and Bean Stew

I love making beef stew in a frying pan. It is an easy way to make a delicious and hearty meal for yourself, a couple or a small group.

There are many variations one can do with skillet stew, but today I am sharing a beef and bean recipe in a tomato based sauce.


First, take 1-2 pounds of stewing beef cut into chunks and salt and pepper to taste. I like a good amount of both.

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in the frying pan on your burner set to medium high. When ready, add the beef and brown all over.

When the beef is fully browned, add the following ingredients, stirring them in and together slowly:

1 large can of diced tomatoes (I like to use the pre-seasoned variations)
1 cup of beef stock
1 can of black beans or kidney beans
1 can of kernel corn (not cream corn)
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
1 teaspoon of browning liquid (this is not necessary, but is a nice addition)
1 minced or crushed garlic clove
a few dashes of Tabasco (this will not make the stew spicy, but adds real flavour)
More salt and pepper to taste

Once you have added all the ingredients bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the beef is tender. It should flake easily when pushed with a fork.

If, while simmering, the stew thickens too much, add more stock as required.

This is great served with rice, crusty bread and your favourite table red wine.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Art: A Very Weirdness


A Very Weirdness - Acrylic on Canvas by Natalie Lochwin
Click on image to enlarge

(Prints of Natalie's art are available, email theleftchapter@outlook.com for details)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dan Perrins, CAFE & Canada's Men's Rights movement

A sticker has been appearing on lampposts and mailboxes in my west-end Toronto neighbourhood of Etobicoke (and, presumably, in other neighbourhoods as well). On it a website called antimisandry.com is listed below the claim that "Almost 80% of all suicides are men" and above the slogan "Men Matter".

"Misandry" is the fictitious invention of the toxic Men's Rights hate movement, and its appearance here as a term indicates quickly what this sticker is all about.

I have written extensively in the past about the Men's Rights movement in Canada, including about its false or misleading claims and premises, its rape apologism, its disturbing campus based activities, its dubious choices of speakers, as well as to why the idea of misandry itself is an absurd myth, so there is no real need to cover that ground again.

While the "Men Matter" slogan is a profoundly offensive allusion to other recent slogans of actual civil rights movements, it is also on its own premises completely asinine, especially given how white the movement's leadership is.

No group of people have ever mattered more than white men do! Their entitlement being the very basis of patriarchy and systemic misogyny.

I have also in the past touched on the statistic the sticker uses, which is close to true in a technical sense (it is actually 75%) and seems striking, but actually is, as is usual with the Men's Rights movement, also misleading. According to Statistics Canada, while men are three times more likely to succeed when attempting suicide:
Deaths by suicide, it should be noted, reflect only a small percentage of suicide attempts. It is estimated that for every completed suicide there are as many as 20 attempts. Although males are more likely to die from suicide, females are three to four times more likely to attempt it.  Furthermore, females are hospitalized for attempted suicide 1.5 times more frequently than males.
This discrepancy may be due to the fact that females tend to use less fatal methods, such as poisoning—the most common cause of self-harm hospital admissions—whereas males tend to use more violent methods such as hanging and firearms.
While certain men's rights groups -- especially the pretend "moderate" face of the movement in Canada, the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a group to which we will return -- will use statistics like these or men's workplace accidents as another example, devoid of the full context, to try to hook people in with notions that they are simply trying help men who are suffering or are men's health advocates, once you get to the sites themselves a totally different agenda often emerges.

antimisandry.com is certainly no exception.

From the website's very masthead:


To its long opening diatribe about misandry and against feminism, to charming and truly farcical memes such as this one:


It quickly becomes abundantly clear that the real agenda is to attack, misrepresent and oppose feminism. 

Especially as the site seems closely associated with the vitriolic and rather extreme Canadian men's rights "activist" Dan Perrins who is also a supporter of, has written forand has been praised by, the American hate site A Voice for Men.

Perrins recently went on rather short-lived and facile "hunger strike" at the Ontario Legislature that blogger David Futrelle looked at at some length. As Futrelle also notes in the piece, Perrins has engaged in some notoriously vicious behaviour towards a Canadian feminist activist who was the target of a prolonged and very disturbing campaign by the movement.

Now all of this would be little more than the deluded ranting and ravings of yet another MRA were not for the fact that Perrins is also associated with the above-mentioned CAFE, which is, astonishingly, a registered Canadian charity! 

Despite Perrins' past actions and writings, CAFE allowed Perrins to go on a fundraising march for it and its newly opened men's centre, and posted his press release about it to their website.

They also gave seemingly daily updates on this trek of Perrins' and posted his statement ending his hunger strike, in which he somewhat humorously attempts to portray it as a "real breakthrough"! 

Justin Trottier, one of CAFE's leaders, also gave a long interview on the hunger strike on You Tube which he opens by saying "we have been involved in supporting Dan from before there was a hunger strike". 

Keep in mind, CAFE is a registered charity, meaning donations to it are tax deductible! 

Natalie Lochwin and I, in a piece on Feminist Current, showed how this situation amounts to an almost government endorsed mainstreaming of misogyny. The piece centred around a concert that the newly charitable CAFE attempted to hold on Toronto Island -- a concert that fell apart after the publication of the piece as sponsors and acts discovered what this charity was actually about. 

Men's Rights activists and organizations, given what a distorted and ugly worldview their movement flows out of, are truly incapable of hiding for very long what they really represent. CAFE's association with and encouragement of Dan Perrins speaks loudly and clearly to this.

It is time the Government of Canada and Revenue Canada took notice. 


Friday, May 22, 2015

Art: They


They - Acrylic on Canvas by Natalie Lochwin
Click on image to enlarge

(Prints of Natalie's art are available, email theleftchapter@outlook.com for details)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Urban Peasant Quick & Simple with Lamb & Pumpkin Stew and Stuffed Papaya (and a bonus video of Salmon Latkes!): Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: The Urban Peasant Quick & Simple, James Barber
Publication Details: Urban Ink, 1993


Beloved by many Canadian home cooks in the 1990's, James Barber was the host of a CBC Television cooking show, The Urban Peasant, that became something of a hit not only in Canada but in other countries as well. Barber had a very warm, friendly, accessible style that was really the antithesis of what many see as the "celebrity chef"

Barber sought to demystify cooking and to feature ingredients used in ways that anyone could handle. This was done without any fancy or unusual preparation normally, but with often surprising and always delicious results. His show was a real pleasure to watch (and likely still is, out there somewhere in syndication) and was almost relaxing, a seeming contradiction given the nervousness with which many approach cooking. It even ingrained this atmosphere in its set, which was of an open-concept living space as opposed to an impersonal professional style kitchen.

Barber died in 2007 as he had lived, cooking. His wife told the CBC "As far as we can tell, James was sitting at the dining room table, he was reading a cookbook, and he had a pot of soup simmering on the stove."

In 1993 he released one of several companion cookbooks to the series, and one of which I am particularly fond. This was his Urban Peasant Quick & Simple cookbook. As he himself put it on the back cover, this one was "completely practical" and with "no trimmings, no romance". It is almost entirely unillustrated (though the few drawings that there are are his own charming ones) and while it might at first seem a bit spare, it is also full of terrific recipe after terrific recipe, all of which are, as the title would imply, quick and simple. And there are dozens of them. It is a real resource of new ideas.

Today we are sharing, as always, two recipes, as they originally appeared. 

Also, as an added bonus, after the recipes is a video of him doing salmon latkes! You can now find many videos of excerpts from his show on You Tube! 

Lamb & Pumpkin Stew Served in a Pumpkin  

1 lb/500g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1/2 lb./250 g cubed  leg of lamb
2 Tbsps olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a frypan and brown the meat. Add the onion, cayenne pepper, sugar and garlic and stir well. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cumin, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a hollowed out pumpkin and put in a 400F/200 C oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with cumin and some more chopped cilantro. 

Stuffed Papaya    

1 papaya
Cottage cheese
Fresh peeled shrimp
Fresh prawn tails
Freshly ground pepper
Cilantro

Halve the papaya and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and chop. Half fill the shells with cottage cheese and arrange the chopped flesh around it. Top with a mound of fresh, peeled shrimp and decorate with a few fresh prawn tails. Grind some pepper over the top and garnish with cilantro. Serve on crushed ice.

Video: Making Salmon Latkes


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Stories about working at the Goodyear Plant in the Lakeshore, as told by workers" -- A union remembrance

In May, 1987, one of the largest tire factories in the world, the Goodyear plant in South Etobicoke, closed. Its closure had a devastating impact on the community I live in and on the lives of  so many Goodyear workers and their families.

It was part of a wave of plant closures to hit the area (and, indeed, the province and country) in this era that I have written about before and that continues to this day.

This powerful and moving document, which turned up in my shop some time back, was released a few years later by, among others, the United Rubber Workers Union.

It is a reflection on the closure and its impact and stands, I think, as an important statement about what it means to people's lives when these corporate decisions are made, which is why I think it worth preserving online and sharing.


(Click on scans to enlarge)













Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Stephen Harper's Mom's Bran Muffin Recipe

You never know what you will come across flipping through vintage cookbooks and magazines -- a pastime I share with my partner Natalie.

Today as she was leafing through an old recipe supplement to The  Etobicoke Guardian (a local newspaper in this Toronto suburb) from 1979 she made quite the find.

Now, while many identify our Prime Minister with the province of Alberta, he actually grew up on Princess Anne Cres. in Islington, a neighbourhood in Etobicoke.

And his mother, it would seem, had a noteworthy recipe for bran muffins that we have discovered again all these years later.

The addition of apricot jam seems, actually, like a really delicious idea! Note the two sugar mix as well.

At any rate, without any further ado, here is a recipe for bran muffins from our Prime Minister's mom.



Cookbook '79 from the Etobcioke Guardian


Monday, May 18, 2015

Love in the time of Bill C-51

Submitted by Aidan Monis

Last night, as part of our weekly tradition, my Dad and I yelled at each other about politics. The topic at hand was Bill C-51, the recent legislation put forward by Stephen Harper in an effort to “combat terrorism,” which you surely recognize as a euphemism for “destroying freedom of expression and human dignity.” Canadians of all political stripes (including many with whom I mightily disagree on other issues) have expressed their intense distaste for the bill. The arguments for opposing the bill have been well-documented elsewhere, so I won’t really speak here about the nuts and bolts of C-51. In the spirit of the oh-so-clever title of this piece, I would rather say a few words about its emotional impact.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, O’Brien tells Winston, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” These words, sadly, are coming to pass on an industrial scale. We live in a culture where certain human rights are more alienable than others. To be safe, we cannot be free – and vice versa. We live in a culture where teenagers can be incarcerated over mere accusations and wait years for due process. I’m speaking, of course, of recently released (former) Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. After spending over a decade in various prison cells, Khadr is finally a free man. Stephen Harper, true to form, has reacted by ramping up his thinly-veiled, dog-whistle attacks on Khadr and the entire Muslim community.

It’s all “our way of life” this and “convicted terrorist” that.  For men like Stephen Harper (and past Liberal Prime Ministers and any number of other Canadian politicians) it is not enough to lock up a young man on trumped-up charges. It is not enough for these same men to enrich their friends in the prison- and military-industrial complexes with fat contracts and kickbacks built on the blood and suffering of human beings. None of this is ever enough. The few who do manage to escape their imprisonment are to be humiliated and sacrificed on the twin altars of private profit and political orthodoxy.

Bill C-51, at its core, is an article of hatred. It is a piece of legislation based in a profound distrust and loathing of the human being. We are not the empathetic creatures that built the NHS in Britain out of the ravages of the Second World War (and Medicare here in Canada). We are not the intelligent people who created modern telecommunications. We are not the autonomous beings who question authority and join in collective action with others to make a better world. To Stephen Harper and his cohorts, we are none of these things. We are livestock to be corralled, cornered and controlled.

As Daisy Fitzroy puts it in BioShock Infinite, “If they could bed you down in straw, they would bed you down in straw.”

So what are we to do? As I wrote above, I am writing this piece fresh off of a disagreement with my father about C-51. His advice to my brother who was asking about the bill (as we were Skyping him at the time) was to "watch what you write and say online. Just assume they’re tracking you.”

I assumed years ago that they were tracking me, but this sad fact has never and will never change the things I write or say. Freedom of speech and solidarity have cost so much to so many people – people who never had the white, male, middle-class privilege that I do. First Nations activists would be the very first people targeted under C-51, as it amounts to a de facto criminalization of civil disobedience and the blocking of Canadian industry. Assuming I simply keep my mouth shut, I can continue to benefit from the violence that is enacted every day against our First Peoples. I can not and will not do this. It is morally incumbent on all of us – and most especially the privileged – to speak out and resist.

Silence is complicity.

I’m reminded at this time of the October Crisis. It seemed then, to Canadians from coast to coast, that the very idea and existence of Canada were under siege by the FLQ. Prime Minister Trudeau’s response was to invoke the War Measures Act, a horrific piece of legislation that stripped Canadians of their civil liberties. The lone voice of reason in Parliament at the time was the great socialist leader Tommy Douglas.

Today, we have no Tommy Douglas (at least not in the mainstream). We have to settle for the boring neo-liberal that is Tom Mulcair who, to his great credit, has promised to repeal C-51 in its entirety should the NDP win a majority in this year’s election. I’m not a New Democrat, and haven’t been for some time, but they have my vote because of C-51. They should have yours, too.

So what’s love got to do with it? As I stated above, it’s imperative that we see Bill C-51 for what is: an article of profound human loathing. Recognizing this, we must then find ways to resist. We could start by changing our attitudes. Our culture feeds on hatred and despair, and feeds it back to us in turn. Our most popular forms of entertainment are pornography and violent movies and video games. So many of our celebrities are dim-witted, culturally illiterate buffoons whose primary function seems to be to distract people from living authentic, intelligent, engaged lives. We revel in the ritual humiliation of reality television and ambush comedy. We might benefit from taking a long, hard look at ourselves. We won’t always like what we see, but that’s not the point. By recognizing ourselves and our own potential, we would then be better equipped to see our fellow human beings not as livestock to be ruled over, but as partners and friends. Truly, I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper.

I don’t know what Canada will look like in ten years. Perhaps it will be a socialist paradise. Perhaps, instead, it will be a living nightmare -- a police state, through and through. I do fear for the future; for the world in which my children will live. But I know, from looking at the long arc of human history, that power never rests solely with men like Stephen Harper. There is great strength and courage among the rabble – the wretched of the Earth.

“Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.” – Tommy Douglas

Aidan Monis is a 23 year-old musician and writer living in Toronto. He's a proud pinko and wishes picket lines had more bathrooms.

Gorilla at Large! The last time 3-D was a "thing"!

Anyone else remember the last time "3-D" went through a relatively short lived revival?

In the early 80's I went down with my buddies to get the glasses to watch terrible old fifties B movies brought back from the dead by the networks for our enjoyment.

We were lured by sophisticated advertising techniques like this one! Good times!

Watch out...Gorilla at Large




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Andrea’ s Skillet Grilled Asparagus

Submitted by Andrea Grassby Valentini

For those of us who aren't fortunate enough to have a BBQ, (or for when you are not BBQing!) we can enjoy great asparagus grilled on a stove-top grilling skillet. Make sure your stove fan is on high or that your smoke detectors are working …… the key is to have a really hot skillet!


Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, zest and stir. Brush asparagus with oil mixture.





Cooking directions:

Heat a skillet on high for five minutes.

Trim off the tough bottom of the spear by grasping each end one and bending it gently until it snaps at its weakest point.

Place on the heated skillet, turning occasionally to expose all sides to the heat. Asparagus should begin to brown in spots but should not be allowed to char, which should take about 10 minutes.

Remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

(Editor's Note: See "Beer Can Chicken with "French Fried" Asparagus on the BBQ!" for a related BBQed Asparagus recipe!).

The Canadian Crisis of 1975 -- How we were saved by Mack Bolan!

I too find that a beret and sunglasses are an absolute
must when handling a machine gun 

Like many of the other hidden moments in history when civilization as we know it came to the very brink of collapse, most of us are blissfully unaware of just how close we came to disaster in 1975.

But for the swift intervention of American vigilante psychopath Mack Bolan (aka The Executioner), bilateral relations would have taken a turn for the very worse!

VITAL energy resources were at stake!


 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Beer Can Chicken with "French Fried" Asparagus on the BBQ!

For May 24 long-weekend, which marks the emotional start of the summer season for many, we are going to take a look at a backyard, summer classic: smoked beer can chicken made on the BBQ!

Beer can chicken is done using what is known as the "indirect" method in a charcoal BBQ. As I have explained in the past, the indirect method is when, after following the instructions for starting up the charcoal grill that I laid out in a previous post, instead of dumping all the charcoal in the centre, you must instead divide the hot coals into two separate piles along the side of the BBQ drum, leaving the centre without coals. This can be done with a cheap accessory fitted side tray for charcoal made by Weber and other companies, or by simply piling it!

While getting the charcoal going, and you want the coals red hot for when you start to cook, take a whole chicken and brush it all over with extra virgin olive oil. Then season it with seasoning of your choosing. Salt, pepper and paprika make for a good combination. Sometimes I use salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blends. For this chicken I used Schwartz's Chicken Seasoning (Club House imitates it with its Montreal Chicken Seasoning) which does not need added salt or pepper.

On a plate, take a tall can of beer that is half full ( and yes, you should drink the other half first!) and place the chicken on top of it by putting the beer can into the cavity of the chicken. For this one I used half a Sleeman's Cream Ale, but any beer is fine. Remember that it must be a tall can. Small cans will not work. 

Remove the grate from the BBQ and place the chicken standing up into the bottom of it, in the middle. To make sure that the beer can and chicken do not fall over, wrap two pieces of brick in tinfoil and use them to hold the beer can and chicken in place. 



As you see in photo, the chicken will be cooked standing up! The evaporating beer will moisten it as it smokes. 

The chicken will take around an hour and half to cook. You should regulate the coals by taking the lid on and off the BBQ during the cooking so that when they get red hot you put the lid on for a bit. This helps to increase the smokiness as well. I usually do around ten minutes on, then ten minutes off and repeat until done. If you are uncertain as to doneness, a chicken is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175-180 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the BBQ and beer can and place uncovered on a large plate to let sit for ten minutes before carving and serving.  Discard the remaining beer. Let me emphasize this again, do NOT drink the left over beer!!!

The chicken will come out wonderfully moist and deliciously smoked with that great smoked chicken skin texture and flavour. It is perfect with rice, macaroni and cheese or a summer salad as sides. 

Or, while the chicken is sitting, you can make a side of "french fried" asparagus on the grill. Put the grate back on your BBQ.

Take some fresh asparagus, wash them and snap off the bottoms, and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on the grill cross wise (so they do not fall in!) and not directly over the hottest coals. BBQ them for around 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally. 

They will taste absolutely delightful, with a saltiness and crispiness that reminds one of French Fries. They are a perfect accompaniment for any BBQ main! 

Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tom Mulcair, the NDP & Bill C-51: Committed to a full repeal!

To date the story of Bill C-51 and the NDP has been one of somewhat contradictory messaging around the issue of whether or not, if elected, they would amend the bill or repeal it entirely. While some MPs said one thing to the party faithful in a variety of contexts, the leader of the party said something quite different on Global Television and these contradictions were never, until yesterday, publicly reconciled.

Some argued that this did not really matter all that much, but many activists, myself included, felt that it did and noted that the Green Party had already taken a very strong stance in favour of repealing the bill.

Happily this contradictory situation seems to finally no longer be the case, as Tom Mulcair stated publicly and clearly on twitter yesterday that an NDP government was committed to the repeal of the bill.



This means the NDP joins the Greens in their position on this and both stand in stark contrast to the ludicrous, bankrupt and gutless position taken by the Liberals and Justin Trudeau.

This is very good news. As I have argued in the past the importance of the Official Opposition and Canada's historic social democratic and labour aligned party taking this strong a position cannot be overstated.

However, it also clearly shows, in this increasingly blindly partisan era, the importance of any support for the parties of the "mainstream" left, or of any party for that matter, being critical support.

Not to belabour the point, but coming out clearly for the bill's repeal and using that exact language  did matter -- as is obviously the case or Mulcair would not now being saying it. Partisans of the NDP who showed up in countless threads, blogs and social media spaces to attempt to say it did not matter, or that they really had taken this position when they had not, helped delay this step on Mulcair's part, frankly, while he seemingly read the tea leaves and waited to see if public support shifted against the bill -- which it has.

It points again to the fact that uncritical support is just a free pass and is only helpful to the various party's leaders and their cliques -- not to the causes that matter to us as activists. If there was ever a case where  uncritical partisanship did more harm than good, we see one here.

It is, I think, abundantly clear that only pressure and criticism from activists both internal and external to the party, in conjunction with the shift in the polls and with the Greens outflanking him on an issue important to leftists and progressives, made this happen.

But, while this should be remembered, Tom Mulcair, finally, has made the position very, very clear and this is a really positive moment in the fight against the odious Bill C-51.

This strong stance may yet prove to be his finest moment after all!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

For a Socialist America! - Leftist #TBT

While ironically at the very time socialism as a "mainstream" political idea has been on the decline in Canadian political discourse -- with the NDP dropping the word from its constitution and its very vocabulary -- it has seen something of a renaissance in the United States of late.

The election of socialist (although not Socialist Party) Kshama Sawant in Seattle had and is having a serious impact on political discourse both in the city and more broadly.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, who openly describes himself as a socialist, is making a bid for the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party -- a bid that the mainstream media cannot ignore.

Today, for Leftist Throwback Thursday we look at the 1936 platform of the Socialist Party of America.

The party was founded in 1901 and reached the heights of its popular support with the Presidential candidacies of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas in the early 20th Century.

The 1936 platform is notable both for its economic radicalism, its ideas like a 30 hour work week and its emphasis on union and civil rights.

(Click on images to enlarge)