I’m in Love……Love is Blind

I am in Love. Head over heels in love. I get a warm feeling every time I think of the object of my affection. I don’t merely mean I have a “fondness of”, or an “attraction to” or a “proclivity towards”, I mean unadulterated, “jump in front of a bus for” love.

How did I get to be so lucky? Does everyone feel this way when they are in love?

YES………I AM IN LOVE…………….WITH CANADA!!!!! 

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What’s not to love? While the world is in chaos, our biggest worry usually revolves around the conditions of our weather.

I’m NOT pulling the ‘Three Wise Monkeys” proverb, think about it……..our core Canadian beliefs, values and assets;

  • Access to Universal Health Care, Social Assistance, Public Education
  • World class researchers, doctors, specialists, scientists and scholars
  • An intellectual community of the brightest and best professionals and trades
  • World class transportation infrastructure, urban planning and architecture
  • World class artists, musicians, actors and athletes
  • A balanced and independent Judiciary
  • An open and independent election process
  • Law, Order & Enforcement
  • Freedom of expression
  • Human Rights
  • Multiculturalism and Official Bilingualism
  • Clean water, breathtaking geography, scenery and 4 seasons
  • Abundant fisheries, forestry and farming
  • Rich and plentiful resources
  • Rocky Mountains and The Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
  • A thoughtful and independent public broadcaster in the CBC
  • An immigration policy of compassion and opportunity
  • A NEXT generation
  • Tim Horton’s

There’s a song by The Five Man Electrical Band entitled, “I’m a stranger here’.

One of the lyrics reads, “oh you crazy fools, don’t you know you had it made? You were living in paradise”.

I know……right?

img_2335So today, July 1st 2017, we will all celebrate 150 years of living in this great Country. We’ll have family and friends and strangers around us in our own homes and communities, at parks, halls, campgrounds, cottages, backyards, on the water and in care facilities. We’ll have Bar-B-Q’s and bands and fireworks and flags, beer and burgers, Maple Leaf T-shirts and removable tattoos on our cheeks.

In our Nations’ Capital, under extremely tight security, we’ll experience the culmination of many months of planning and many millions of dollars of investment as Parliament Hill hosts royalty, the PM, Government officials, entertainment (Canadian and Irish) and what is sure to be the most spectacular fireworks show ever in Canada. And oh ya, 400-500 thousand people throughout the day. It’s going to be insane. How exciting.

So what’s wrong with me then? If I’m so in love with Canada, what’s up?

Well……….

I’ve been wrestling with my feelings these past few months about Canada 150. When you’re in love with something, as I am, it’s hard to hear it being criticized. I mean, “How dare they”?

Truth is, I am listening to the criticism. You’ve heard it too.

It hurts….. because the truth hurts right?

Justin TrudeauAs such, I am not scoffing at or dismissing or disrespecting the protest messages of many of our indigenous communities. What better time for them, than this Canada Day, to raise the level of awareness surrounding their historically documented authentic grievances. We’ve all seen the bullet points……”150 years of Colonialism is nothing to celebrate”. “Canada is a lot older than 150 years”. “Indigenous land claims”, “Mercury Contaminated Rivers” “Residential School Horrors” “Conditions on Reserves”, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”, “Truth and Reconciliation Committee”. It’s a lot to take in!!! I feel ashamed sometimes even though I know I am not personally responsible for the past. However, let those who are free of ever telling or laughing at a racist joke about First Nations throw the first platitude. As a citizen of this Country that I love, I think I do have a responsibility, and have a role to play moving forward. Of all we have accomplished and all we can be proud of to become the envy of the world in the last 150 years, our “Colonized” Nation has a lot to account for with First Nations. Don’t get mad at that, don’t start laying blame at anyone and most importantly, lets as Canadians, not give up trying to make things better for all of us. The damage is deep and solutions complicated. I only have my opinion, not answers, so I will not preach or point fingers. But I do know of all the nations on earth, we in Canada have the capacity to figure this out. Because that’s what we do. And have done for at least the past century and a half.

In the meantime, God it feels so good to be so in love!!!!!!

Happy Canada Day!!!!!!!!

Jungle Jay Hamilton

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There is a radio personality in Edmonton whose name is Jungle Jay Hamilton. I know him as Bruce Hammond. And I’ve known him since 1974.

At 16, and working at The Warehouse restaurant, me as a cook, him as a waiter, we got into some trouble. Not legal trouble. Fun trouble. I admired Bruce right from the start. He was a cool guy. Shag hair, pilot glasses, bell bottom pants and platform shoes. Lots of confidence and always smiling. That guy was always positive. I remember he and John (the electrician) rented this old house and were living the life. Parties all the time. I went to my first house party with my Kawasaki 100 motorcycle and got just hammered. Someone ordered pizza and I consumed a lot as all teens do when they are lit. It didn’t take long to feel the need and I ended up locking myself in the house bathroom during the rest of the party and slept in their tub. Talk about a shame walk. They were pounding on the door all night. I was done. There was a bathroom in the basement however.

So that was my introduction to Bruce. I would move into the house at a later date. I would bring with me, a tacky looking but comfortable living room suite and some huge speakers. Bruce and I worked at Warehouse for a while and then I got a job at Smith and Bacchus restaurant near the U of A campus. He was a waiter and I was a cook. I ended up being the chef there. Surprise surprise, Bruce was a fantastic waiter. Everyone loved him. At S&B we organized keg parties for the staff. Restaurant people party do you think?

Enter Kelly Seidler, Aaron Knight, Lonnie Wilcox, Rob Tory and a few others into the scene and we started a life long friendship with a great group of people.

Bruce and I always talked about music and cars and women and radio. Radio radio radio. He wanted to be on the radio and the thought of that was really exciting to me too. Imagine that?? We grew up listening to Wes Montgomery, Chuck Chandler, Bruce Bowie, Bob MCCord, Keith James, Brad Phillips, Len Thuesen, Barry Wall, Bob Layton, CR Nicols, Eddie Keen and of course the wizard of CHED Jerry Forbes. To think Bruce and I would work with all of them in a few years was ridiculous. But it happened.

While we were working in the restaurant business, Bruce took the Columbia school of broadcasting course. It was a correspondence course and the materials were sent in the mail weekly. Not sure how much it was.  Bruce got his certificate and then taught me the courses. Or at least he let me read and practise and speak out loud. E-N-U-N-C-I-A-T-E. Still to this day that is true. After the course, Bruce got a job in Weyburn Saskatchewan. It was exciting at first. We were all proud of him. But let’s just say Weyburn was not a good location for that cool guy I described above driving a Riviera. It didn’t last too long and he was lonely too so he came back to Edmonton.

He soon got a job at CKSA in Lloydminster. That was closer to Edmonton and not as backwoods for Jay and his personality. It wasn’t long before he was ready for his next gig in Moose Jaw. Sounds bad but it was amazing. That station was the training ground for Moffat who happened to own CHED. Can you see what’s happening here?

When Bruce left CKSA, he recommended me for his job. I made my home tape and sent it to Ken Ruptash the manager and I got the job. No experience. Just Bruce’s recommendation. Wow. I remember Ken saying to me that he just turned down 3 other guys with experience to hire you because of Bruce. Pressure much? Enter Jeff Lumby and Dan Duran who were both working at CKSA with Bruce.

We (Bruce and I) stayed in touch of course but I can’t really remember how back then. No internet or cell phones. Guess we just used land lines. Funny. Bruce was soon offered a job at CHED in August of 1978. He took it of course. How cool was this? I would know someone from CHED? Whoa. And what did he do before he left? Recommended me for his gig at CHAB. I had some experience but still was a risk. Pat Bohn was the PD and I got the job. Bruce became Jay Hamilton at CHED because of Bruce Bowie…..can’t have 2 guys with the same name.

And the legend was born.

It would take a year for me to get to CHED in October of 1979. We’d made it. For the next few years we’d be a couple of corvette driving DJ’s living the dream. And making a thousand bucks a month. Ha ha. True. Better than the 600 bucks at CHAB.

Bruce had another house he was renting in Edmonton and the partying continued. Not as wild as restaurant parties but suffice to say, the legend continued. Jay was also doing a lot of gigs at The Kingsway Inn…….dj in the dance club…….good money and many fans if you know what I mean.

I married Dawn in 1981 and it’s not like Jay and I split up, but things change. We were still buddies. Would be for life. I then got my first PD job in 1985 and sort of lost contact with Jay on a regular basis after we moved to Winnipeg. I knew he would go on to be legend in Edmonton and I know he was proud of me moving into programming. The waiter and the chef. Turned out that way. Jay visited with us in Burlington one year (1993?) and it was nice to see him.

A few weeks ago, I saw on Facebook a tribute night planned for Jungle Jay Hamilton by the Edmonton broadcasters club. My friend Daryl Hooke was part of it so I messaged him and he told me the news of Jay’s illness. Silence. What a shock. I really wanted to attend but it wasn’t going to work out. He asked me to send a video if I wanted and of course I did. It looked like a great night with lots of colleagues from the past. Rob Christie was the emcee. It was heartbreaking to see my mentor succumbing to the effects of Huntingtons. If your parents have it, the children have a 50% chance of inheriting it. He is an only child and his Mother died from it. Now he has it. Luckily, Jay has a caregiver and it’s obvious she is 100% committed to his well being. Her name is Sunny Singh. An angel.

His fate is sealed but many are trying to make sure he is comfortable and he wants to do something good, like bring attention to Huntingtons Disease, of course he does.

There is a go fund me page set up and I hope you’ll forgive me asking you to consider making a donation.

I love you Bruce. Thanks for all you’ve done for me and hundreds of others in our careers and in life and thanks for the entertainment to those 1000’s of fans.

You might be from Canada if…….

Have you seen this book? It’s by Political Cartoonist Michael de Adder. He’s done some of the most poignant cartoons in Canada to my mind. I’m a big fan of his work in the Halifax Chronicle Herald. This book was published a month ago and I was sent a copy to review. It’s part of a series he did called “You might be from…..”

His latest is “You Might be from Canada if……….” I’ve picked out a few of my favourite pages to share today. I do not have the rights to these but will supply the link if you want to purchase the book.

Did you know…….

  • Facebook was filled this week with many dozens of my friends posting images and praises and pride and love about their children or other relatives graduating……..all the way from JK to Grad school. I loved every memory and every picture! Congrats to all. Was there any better day than the last day of school growing up? It’s a special time of year. Happy summer.
  • Peter Mansbridge retires after 29 years on The National today. I loved an interview he did on The Current recently. I’ve always been a fan. Loved that he started in Churchill Manitoba as a DJ. He was an airport announcer and was heard by a CBC manager. He was offered a job. He never finished High school or went to University.
  • Was sad to hear of Dave Semenko’s passing this week from Pancreatic Cancer. He was 59. I watched him hit a lot of guys on the ice in the noble pursuit of protecting Gretzky and Kurri. Mess, Anderson, Lowe and other could take care of themselves. Condolences to his family and fans.

Have a great weekend………thanks for reading……..

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