Why I Enjoy Painting

I have been practicing art in some form since childhood. I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and songs.

As an adult I started creating mosaic wooden jewelry boxes, coo coo clocks and crucifixes from small pieces of wood and sticks. About ten years ago while at a street art studio in Montreal and completely out of material, the studio manager slapped a canvas down in front of me and demanded that I paint.

“I don’t paint!” was my response, “They paint.” Pointing to the painters. Then I became silent for a very long time staring at this huge canvas of white space. I went for a smoke, or two. I grabbed orange, red, green and yellow acrylic, a medium sized brush and took my first dip. Gives me Goosebumps today thinking of how it made me feel. I got into a rhythm. I played a song with the drumstick and thought words in my head, my own thoughts. I wanted to cry so I painted an evening sky with trees in tears … green ones and red ones and yellow ones. I wrote a poem that went with to further describe these feelings and suddenly, a bit of weight was lifted off of me.

I started practicing what I describe as multi-dimensional art therapy. That is where I use various media (painting, stories, songs, videos, photographs … in a collection to express my inner-struggles and my inner victories. I can do this now with or without speaking a word. Creating anything is therapeutic, but there is nothing better for me then to spend an hour here and there exploring myself on the canvas. Without art, there’d be no point in living I suppose. It’s the only thing that can point me back to the light when I get down or get mixed around. I can talk to shrinks, yell at the guards or I can scream like a madman across the street; without resolve. Luckily for me I’ve discovered that I can slowly unravel the chaos, face my fears, deal with my anger, my sadness, bewilderment … I can express my awe of the universe, the wonders of love and life; that’s why I paint.

The Poem President Obama

President Obama.
Skinny and scared.
Sweaty finger on the red trigger.
Crying out for his mama.
He's having nightmares of bears.


Behind His Mask

“Behind The Masks” – Testimonials of Those Marginalized by Income, got its name and was inspired by singer/songwriter Fred Joly who performed as the audit was being held, and also for those attending the audit closing dinner. Fred wrote the song Behind His Mask based on his true experiences. The playing of his song prompted Rapporteur Daisy Wai to remark that his song affected her as much as anything she'd heard that day. We have included an excerpt from the song below.

A Report on the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition
(ISARC) Social Audit in York Region on April 20, 2010

Behind His Mask

Do you see the old the old man under the bridge?

Sitting there with a suitcase in his hand.
He’s been drinking there for years and years;
And whenever he’s tired he just beds down on the sands.
Does anybody know him?
Can someone please tell me his name?
Because whenever I see him walking through the city;
He keeps his head down in shame.
He’s a refugee.
Or is he just another shipwreck of society’s.
Looks like a rebel.
Penting up the angers from the past.
Into a twisted fantasy.
The empty bottles are just escapes from his realities.
Bums around wearing a loner’s mask.
The morning’s sun’s an awakening misery.
No doubt another aweful day.
Cramped from the cold misty whispering night.
He doesn’t want to go but he knows that he cannot stay.
Stumbles to the ground on his hands and knees.
There’s mud dripping off of his face.
Then a tear draw a line down his wrinkled cheek;
He cries out “Lord help me please!”
I’m a refugee.
And I’m running from the scorns of this society.
But I’m in a lot of trouble.
‘Cause I’m drifting at sea with a broken mast.
And everybody judges me.
As I’m trying to find my own destiny.
It looks about time to put on my “keep away from me mask”.
When I heard about the old man from under the bridge.
Died there just the other day.
I decided to show up at his Sally Ann service.
Where the Captain tried but he didn’t know how to say.
That’s there a new star’s light shining in the sky.
Because another soul has been set free.
The man spent his final moments scribbling in the sands.
“I think, I see, my liberty.”
Look way up at the refugee.
Can’t you see the castaway of society.
No wonder he was such a rebel.
Still hurting from all the pains of his past.
Living in a fantasy.
Trying to escape his own reality.
From up above beams down a man.
Behind his mask.

It's Only By God's Grace - Christmas Story and Song

 note: I originally started writing this song back in 1986 at OCI in Brampton Ontario Canada for a Christmas variety show. I rewrote in 2012 because I forgot most of the original words so that completely changed the storyline. This Christmas (2013), I rewrote it again to coincide with the short skit. Without further adieu, here's ...

My 2013 Christmas Story and Song

I hope you enjoy it.

It's Only By God's Grace

An old man pushes a shopping cart on to the stage and shuffles his way to the center where the audience can all see him. In it are cans and bottles, some cardboard and a beat up guitar. He stops there and quickly prepares a bed for himself using cardboard. Leaning to rest on the cart for a moment, he seems to fall asleep that way. The lights grow dim. The sound of wind fills the air. After a few seconds of darkness, a spotlight suddenly shines on him and a booming voice from the darkness speaks.

voice - Old man. Old man wake up.

The man awakens startled. Looks around quickly for the source of the voice.

old man - Hello. Hello. Who's there?
voice - It is me. You're spirit. You're soul. Your inner-voice. The innocent and vulnerable you. Listen to me old man. Tonight I'm taking you home. You will fall asleep and awaken no more. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to meet up with me again?
old man - What?

short pause

The man appears frightened and huddles against his cart. He is intensely in thought.

old man - Yes. Yes! I am ready.
voice - What happened to your coat?
old man - Some angry punks took it from me when I fell asleep last night. I tried to fight them off but they won.

A jacket is thrown onto the stage and the man picks it up and puts it on.

voice - Good. It's judgement time then. Let's do a quick review of your life. Hmm.

short pause

voice - Hmm. It says your mother taught you to be kind and compassionate but somewhere down the road you lost that and turned out to be bitter and self-absorbed. What happened to change you?
old man - It's 'cause I lost Jenny and the kids. I was liquor sick in the morning and angry most the time. Then I lost my car and my job. I don't blame her for leaving me. The booze got a hold of me real good and I spent ten or fifteen years drinking and drugging on the streets. I ended up in jail a couple of times and got myself a record. I really missed the good old days. I'd get out eventually but it got that I was so scared of everyone on the outside too that even when I stopped drinking long time ago now my mind is still messed up. I did stop drinkin' though. I swear. Ten or fifteen years ago. The kids in jail would beat me up for my sugar packets. I cried for Jenny lots of times. I called her a few years ago but the phone cut out.
voice - Yes I see that.

short pause

voice - I noticed you were frequently beaten by the other kids in your early school years. You also caused a lot of trouble with your teachers and principals because you had difficulty conforming to structure. Do you think any of that may have had an effect on your ultimate fate, why you're here with me in the park tonight?

old man - Heck no, none of that mattered after I grew up. I remember it all though and I remember thinking to myself that someday I'll show the whole batch of 'em. They'll be sorry for what they did someday. They won't be messing with me no more I'll tell ya'.

short pause

voice - Let me think about this for a moment.

The spotlight dims and the lights come back on. The old man reveals that he is actually an actor by removing his beard and hat and a younger man emerges. He takes the guitar out of the cart and begins to sing.

young man - Looks like that time of year has come again so I stopped to help a man.
Instead of just walking by I put a coin in his cup, reached out to shake his hand.
He lifted his head, his eyes unto mine and tried to make a smile.
He said "God bless you sir. happy holidays. Please won't you stay a while.

I don't know about you but it's my favourite time of year.
When Christmas is just around the corner and the folks all in good cheer."

A block away I thought of a past day when I found myself alone.
Out on the streets trying to make my ends meet but cold right to the bone.
When I turned back to see if my memory was still out there on his own.
I walked up to him and tried to give him my gin he said "I don't do that no more."

"I stopped drinking about twenty years ago.
When my world was going crazy and I had nothing left to show."

Later that night when all were asleep I went down to pour a drink.
I stopped on my way, went back through today and then I had to think.
About the man I met tonight and how he was right but then what could I say.
I didn't make it this far by just giving it away, you know I work real hard today.

I gave him all I could and my time I have to keep.
'Cause nothing left to spare no more with my bills, my family.

'Twas two days before Christmas when I came upon the man.
He must have lost his coat somewhere, had a newspaper and a cast on his right hand.
I had to rush by but caught the gaze in his eyes, I knew it was despair.
But there's still shopping to do, the stores are aglow, the season's in the air.

Why can't I stop to help him, get him away from the cold.
Show him some understanding maybe even help him find a home.

The very next day while stopped at the lights I spotted him lying in the park.
He seemed lost in a daze even in the sun's rays, man his world must be so dark.
When they started honking at me, I bolted away, I was running from the sight.
I had been reflecting on me and the way that I've become. You know the man is really right.

I could lose it all tomorrow and fall right on my face.
Tumble back into the life that I once knew. It's only by God's grace.
note: This piece is dedicated to John Bishopric (1964-2002 Winnipeg) and William Alexander (1965 - 1999 Vancouver). Johnny ... was a short man. Billy ... only had one eye.

Canada's Defiance Against History 2.0

In the same way his father defied history by patriating our Canadian constitution (taking it away from the monarchy) so will his son, Justin Trudeau defy the world in forming a Canada 2.0. He will take our country away from foreign strangleholds and save our natural resources for future Canadians. The concept of creating an economy based on jobs that only foreign workers can fulfill is bad for Canada (good for the corporations though because of the vastness of a cheap and bonded labour force available to come here from overseas.

Canada, and the rest of the world for that matter, is presently in the hands of the bankers, oil companies, American government and other international corporations. They want all of our land and our resources, no matter what. The US government and the spirit of its people have throughout its history the policy to conquest, pillage and rebuild. Capitalism before responsibility for the effects of capitalism. The entire world has now shifted to that same end. Where is it going to stop?

It stops here, with me, right now.

Hope and Dreams

To have nothing to hope for is for nothing to be hoped for.

To stop dreaming is to stop living.

Even in my darkest day I can find hope. My weakest moment can manifest my greatest strength.

I've made big mistakes in my life but I am not alone in doing so. That is my only comfort is that I am human and fallible. I can never give up on myself even though it can seem like the only thing left to do. I am here for a reason and I must seek that despite how I think.

Limitless Canadian artist Justin Trudeau

Always remember that it is the active artists who are the soul of the community.

In all of us there is a primordial need to create art in some fashion. Every Canadian, every single one of us, is an artist (although most don't pay attention to that part of them because they're caught up in more "important" things, other life pursuits.

Art can be created using practically anything around us. The types of art is boundless, new forms of art emerge daily I would think. Essentially, art has no limits and artists, also are limitless.

Justin Trudeau is an artist and he's a passionate Canadian. Those are good things to have as a leader at the federal level (rather than the corporate arse kisser we have in office now, sorry couldn't control myself).

I remember what he said in 2005 concerning the mining company's desire to extract from the  Nahanni River NWT Canada "..., "The river is an absolutely magnificent, magical place. I'm not saying mining is wrong ... but that is not the place for it. It's just the wrong thing to be doing."

If you are interested in reading more of my opinions on this then follow up with Why You Should Elect Justin Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister.

Vancouver Conference About Canada's Next Leader Today!

On that note, SFU is having an interesting free conference about the similarities between Justin and his father Pierre. I might attend it but here's the web page for more information and to register for the event:

Thursday, 28 November 2013 from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM (EST)

Trudeau 2.0: Pierre's Legacy and Justin's Future

Fletcher Challenge Theater, Harbour Centre 515 W Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1