Smoking Crow

Canadian political, personal, and pitiful observations.

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Location: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mostly despairing of both global and personal developments these days. Searching for some humor and relief in all the unusual places.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bluegrass on Water Street


I hate that happy jazz how I hate it all that bouncy Hammond organ shit
don't move me
no.
It just hammers my sorry ass hard into the chair listening to the
toilet drip paint peel
glass shatter cop knock
engine rev
heart crack
blues.

But these guys were great.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Human Rights Watch in Lebanon and Israel

How Human Rights Watch Lost Its Way in Lebanon, Counterpunch, 7 Sept 2006

An article by Jonathan Cook, from Nazarath. I've been reading his articles since Israel started its war against Lebanon. He reported from inside Israel. He had inside information on where Hezbollah was sending its rockets and why. It seems there were plenty of top secret military ports, posts, and rocket launchers in the general area of these mostly Arab towns and villages, where most of the damage was done.

Hezbollah did a lot of damage to Israeli tanks and soldiers. They probably could have done a lot more damage to Israeli civilians if they wanted to. Human Rights Watch has some funny logic about that as you'll see in Cook's article. Their original analysis of Israel's human rights abuses was hard to dispute. Their subsequent charges against Hezbollah sound a lot like a "measured response".

Israel doesn't like the "unbalanced" criticism of its war. Guys like our PM, Stephen Harper, don't criticize at all. They want Israel's approval, although it's possible guys like our PM actually believe it is legitimate to slaughter and maim thousands of civilians while defending illegally occupied territories as well as preemptively attacking potential threats. In any case, guys like Harper don't really give a shit what HRW says. But Israel does.

And so do I.

Amnesty International and me

Patrick Cockburn: Amnesty Accuses Hizbollah of "War Crimes"

I was planning on joining an Amnesty International circle for the first time on Friday night. They do good work. I whine and complain about the state of world politics and do nothing. So I was planning on doing something for once.

On Thursday I learned that Amnesty International, like Human Rights Watch, had come out with its report on Hezbollah's human rights abuses during the Israeli war against Lebanon. I didn't join the circle. I didn't agree with the Amnesty International report.

Maybe I should have gone to the meeting. I don't know if we could have discussed my concerns in the circle. How would I know? I've never been to an Amnesty International meeting before. I suspect that members don't have much influence over the official organization's decisions about who to criticize. All I knew was that I didn't want to be associated with one more organization that "balanced" their criticism of war crimes in order to appease Israel and Israel's allies.

I wanted to do something. Write some letters. Whatever it is that circles do for Amnesty International. I've already written a few letters, but I wanted the power of an organization behind my signature. That can be very effective. Amnesty International has influence.

I have no influence. Just a powerful sense of injustice, and now despair. When respected NGO's deflect criticism of Israel's destruction of Lebanon -- the civilians, their homes, their public services, their economies and their future -- to deflect criticism of their own bias against Israel, how can individuals like me feel that any letters they write will make a difference? I cannot endorse Amnesty International's charges against Hezbollah.

Perhaps I'll attend the next meeting. Talk about it. In the meantime, continue reading Jonathan Cook's articles (see next post) among other reports from the Middle East. I'd like to leave the subject entirely. I'd like to pursue other pleasures.

I can't.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

for Lynda who is the only person who's seen this blog

For Lynda who is the only person who's seen this blog.

This is a cheery bit for my good friend Lynda. I've been torturing her with my tales of woe for so long, she deserves a break. She's not in the picture but her soul's there.

Nobody is as wild and beautiful as Lynda. Nobody would have appreciated me and my accordion partner playing our bluegrass duets, as much as Lynda would have. (Except for Doug Mallory, the jazz great, who was there and couldn't believe his ears.)

So this is for Lynda, because I've had too much sherry to do what I intended, which was something I definitely should not have done in any case. Techno retardation can be an asset.

And just in case you don't recognize me, I'm the one in black with glasses, taking it all too seriously. Sheila, however, is enjoying herself. We became good friends, laughed until we cried. I wasn't as anal as she thought I was... She was more depressed than I thought she was... Toss in a couple of accordions and you've got a solid friendship, yes?

Friday, September 08, 2006

art for housewives

Check it out. Art that is fine, folk, found...

I do it too. Bits of art, from time to time, with bits of fabric and beads and brushes. If I didn't look at this website from time to time I probably wouldn't do it.

Take a look. Make some art. It won't kill you.

Maybe you can find Pamela Allen, quilt artist extraordinaire. I've lost track of her.

This is The Kiss. I made it for my niece and her daughter, my great niece for their birthday. They have the same birthday. It is convenient in some ways. But not always.

Yarmouth NS on a bicycle

Downtown Yarmouth NS has almost everything you need within walking distance. Almost is the operative word here.

If you need a bottle of sherry you have to go a little further. That's when I ride my bike.

It is a miserable bike ride, up to the strip. Starrs Road they call it here, but you could be just about anywhere in North America. Big stores, big parking lots, big SUV's and big trucks on the big road. No safe or secure lane for a bicycle rider. Especially not one like me. I'm not an athlete. I'm a commuter.

I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk. That's illegal.
I don't wear a helmet. That's illegal.

So I guess not driving a car in Yarmouth makes me a criminal. Or it would, if I weren't invisible.

Invisible people don't go to jail. They just risk their lives riding a bicycle on Starrs Road -- with or without a helmet.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the art of quilting


Quilts can be traditional or crazy or anything you want them to be. These are part of my smoking series. The titles come from the warnings on cigarette packages.
This one is called "Smoking Crow: Idle But Deadly." It's a Mohawk joke. My neice is a Mohawk. There's a toy Indian Chief on the ledge, and a bottle of Southern Comfort in his pocket.
This one is called "Cigarettes are a Heartbreaker".
She has glass bead tears flowing down her face.

If you've ever thought about quilting but been daunted, just cut and paste some bits of fabric on a cloth and sew it down with your sewing machine. Don't worry about the edges. Just let them fray. Don't worry about anything. Just let yourself play. Embellish like mad. Bind the top and sides of the quilt when you're finished - that's the hard part. Sewing straight and keeping it from stretching out of square. Sometimes it's easier to do it by hand. Turn the top edge over to allow a dowell for hanging and voila! Art! (Or something.) It's a fabric collage if you don't put batting in between the top and backing. If you do, it's a quilt.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bedtime with Bonzo

Bonzo (center) helped create the illusion of Canadians as funny, happy helpmates.

Remember when we thought this was as bad as it could get?

First we had Brian, then we had Paul, now we have Steve. And if we're lucky, soon we'll have Michael. The human rights authority who doesn't lose any sleep over a few dead Lebanese kids.

Ignatieff, the aristocrat, whose family found refuge in Canada when the shit hit the fan in Eastern Europe doesn't lose any sleep over Palestinians or Lebanese who have no refuge.

Michael, who hasn't lived in Canada since he was a boy in private school, and who champions "his" American war in Iraq, wants to be the leader of the Liberal Party, and ultimately Prime Minister of Canada. Nothing else will do. And why should he settle for less? After all, he can't be president of the United States of America. He wasn't born there. In many nations he can't be president or prime minister if he hasn't lived there for the last five years. So he's stuck with Canada if he wants to be a supreme leader. I don't want any stricter rules about who can be Prime Minister in Canada. Many recent immigrants might do an exemplary job. But not Ignatieff. He is not an immigrant. He is a usurper.

Harper, Steve to his friends, is just another oil guy. Michael is just another talking head. Both of them will do ok no matter who we vote for. Back to Alberta. Back to the USA. We have to stay here and cope with the grief of our neighbours, next door and across the pond. We have to show them we are their neighbours, constitutionally and democratically and peaceably.

It's not academic. It's not economic. It's justice we need now. Steve and Mike, the funny, happy helpmates of America, are the enemies.


You shouldn't smoke even if your heart is broken.

But this is war and smoking is allowed when you're at war. Everybody in WW1 smoked. WW2 too. It wasn't the cigarettes that killed them.

Smokers aren't heroes any more. Or lovers. They're outsiders. Literally. Cancers on our pristine earth. The earth we poison and pave and deforest in the name of progress. The earth we fight wars over.

I used to be someone who smoked. I worked. I played. I read. I paid my bills. I ate and drank with friends. I nurtured my kids with poetry and politics.

Now I am only a smoker. Waiting for the executioner. For the next bomb to fall. For the icecaps to melt.

It wasn't the cigarettes that broke my heart.