Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I... am a God!!

The other day I gave four dollars in change to a middle aged white man pan handling on the street. He asked for my restaurant leftovers to feed some of the younger people on the street and... of course... I gave it to him.  It was Chili.  The kind of Chili you get from a Tex-Mex place, called Carlos & Murphy's. 

That is what a god does... Feeds the hungry...

Are you a god as well? 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Slugs & Thugs

Babies are awesome miracles. We see miracles everyday. I have nieces, nephews who I say are miracle babies. They survived premature birth and are beautiful miracles. Lot of people will look at babies and feel they have the cutest, smartest, baby in the world.

Me, I see slugs. Babies regardless of their beauty and how much we love them, are basically slugs. They lay around being slugs until they are about 7 or 8 months of age. The slug stage is slowly being out-grown. It is here they start to have some character. We enjoy their laughs, smiles and how they try to get around and make noise. So they start to be fun to hang around with. Prior to that, the slugs could be just put in a baby swing and left there. Of course when I say slugs and slug stage, I mean that in the best way possible. Or as many of the Indigenous folk say, "from a good spot in my heart".

Its interesting and kind of sad of how our beautiful babies can go from the cute and harmless slug stage to the thug stage later on in life. The thug stage is a wide range of age. The thug stage has started as young as 11, but more likely the slug stage starts at 16 years of age, while hitting full thug stage in their twenties. The thug stage can end abruptly for a number of reasons: maturity, enlightenment, jail and death.

In the Reserves and in the poor neighborhoods of the City our beautiful slugs turn into thugs. What can we do to curb, to stop the thug stage for our beautiful babies?

My encounters with Indigenous youth have exposed me to the thug stage. There are of course many many Indigenous youth who do not enter thug stage at all. They help out their parents, go to school, make good choices and work towards the Good Life.

I wonder how can you engage with the youth so they don't stay or go into the thug stage?

You know the thug stage? Sometimes the thug stage is actually a late slug stage: No emotional connection, no interest, no discipline, no drive, no passion, no participation.

The thug stage can be so sad.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Conversations When Married

My wife and I will sometimes have the opportunity to go out for dinner together. We sit and look at our phones while dining. We still have conversations even after all these years. We still do the "how was your day" conversations and the normal activities of life. Its good.


We do converse as older folk now. We are of course in our middle fifties and in the prime of our lives. I enjoy our conversations. We can talk politics, religion, child rearing tips, phases of the moon, God's plans, weight gain, hair cuts, is Melanie Trump really in love with Justin Trudeau, does bread make us fat and what is up with Black Holes and the God particle?

The conversations I do enjoy is when my wife is trapped in the car. She can't get up from a chair and leave, leave me sitting there pondering my own questions and waiting for her reply.

When she is trapped in the car our conversations will go like this:

Me: "I could go on a shooting spree."

Wife: "Again? Why this time?"

Me: "I ate three eggs and I feel bad because I got super full. I feel bad because I am over weight. It makes me feel bad about myself. So feeling sad for me, I decided to go on a shooting spree."

Wife: "So when the police arrest you for the shooting spree and they ask you what the trigger for the spree was, you will say it was because you ate three eggs?"

Me:  "Yes and I think they will side with me. After all I will tell them it was eating to much eggs. It was you that made me three eggs. So I would tell the police it was because you fed me three eggs and I should have only had one egg. The extra two eggs made me feel super full. You know being super full is way worse than being full. Its the extra in things where we go on shooting sprees."

Wife:  "So its your wife's fault you go on a shooting spree?"

Anyway our conversations tend to take on a life of their own. Like when we see an interesting person (there are no uninteresting people) out on the street.

Our conversation will take us into the homes of perfect strangers. We will analyze their lives, their decisions, motives and even their existence. Usually in a span of a block. Then its on to the next conversation.

The thing is we still have conversations. We still tell each other we appreciate what they do for us. We appreciate how nice they are and how much we care and love them.

Conversations matter. Even when  we don't know what in the heck each other is saying.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Kill All the Billionaires

Kill all the Billionaires; yes even the Gates Foundation Billionaire.  The Billionaire club sure is something; a group of the humblest and most generous souls on planet Earth.

So why kill all the billionaires?  It could be a fun movie plot. Think about it.

The movie could be about disgruntled government agencies. Agency heads grow increasingly dismayed (or quite angry) with their political masters and how the decisions are made to increase the cash flow for the ultra rich. When an agency Head's cousin dies a slow excruciating pain-filled death from cancer because the health care insurance was cancelled, she has had enough. Finding nothing to comfort her, she only sees despair and looks to where it is coming from. She sees it lies with the interests of the Rich. So knowing the current world order cannot change, she sets out to enact change. She organizes other agency leaders and sells them on her world change.

So they decide to host a conference on how to get equity into the world. One way they think is to have a rich ceiling. Rather than limit the wage ceiling to the fat CEO (specifically old white men but not limited to) the agencies want to rid the world of the Rich Conglomerate and Corporations. They decide that any company which has more than a billion in assets must be killed. Killers from all over the world are given vital information on where the Billionaires live, travel, vacation and socialize.

The idea is to have them divest cash to the public services and goods in order to dive below the billionaire mark. So the Billionaire club would cease to exist by their own design or by the agency actions. The smart billionaires would become the Nine Hundred Millionaire club members.

Imagine that; the race to get out of the Billionaire club would be pretty quick. Wonder who would star in the movie.

There are so many post apocalyptic dramas out there, and this one could be a comedy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Heck With Walmart:

You want cheap and mass produced stuff? Walmart is a good place to find generally inexpensive items. However the prices may spike around the first of the month ( I'll let you figure out that one).
I admit I shop at Walmart for some items.

I do try and balance or shop at local stores as well. My wife and I like to support Family Foods. It is not much further than the local Walmart but we go there for the meat, the baked goods and for vegetables. Walmart will take our dollars for junk food items. Costco, Extra Foods, No Frills and Giant Tiger are also a few of the Big players we shop at. Dollar Store and Dollar Tree is where I take the Grand Kids. Its part of the city-world we live in, shopping at the stores owned by big business.
Vice News did an eye opening segment on the Dollar General and the reality of their harm.  These stores kill local stores. They also kill jobs. Local grocery stores like Family Foods generally hire more people and have fresher food and healthier foods for consumers. Stores like the Dollar General have a lot of processed packaged foods which are not really very healthy.

Study after study outlines how the Big Box industry is bad for us.

Even if chain stores do save us a few dollars now and again, it comes at a great cost. Chain stores contribute far less to the local economy than independent businesses.

You wonder why the big box stores have lower prices? Its buying power for sure. In addition it is where they get the product made. The big box stores go into countries where labour costs are cheap. Many of those countries operate their labour supply differently than what we are used to.

In the end when we support the Walmarts we support losing jobs in our community. The effects are felt by many.

So we should all be wary of the Walmarts.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Two Hours of The Forks Winnipeg, Manitoba

The city of Winnipeg has a few gems to it and it is not just the people. People are actually quite willing to talk, share a smile and even the big wave when you let them get in front of you in traffic. Of course there are always exceptions. So today my wife, our five-year old and myself decided to go check out The Forks. The Forks is named because of the two converging rivers, the Assiniboine and the Red River.

The Forks used to have free parking but no more. We paid 4 dollars for two hours. At the parking lot we met a family from North Dakota who had not been there before. So they asked what its all about. We told them to get away the hell away from us. What do we look like, tourist guides? No of course we didn't do that. We gave them a quick description and told them about the river walk-way and the Museum of Human Rights. They said they were going to go for a boat ride on the river. We then walked towards the river. There is a small free parking lot by the main building close to the river. There was a guy putting a canoe on his truck. I went over and asked him a whole lot of questions about his canoe. He made it himself and  it took about 60 hours of work. It was a cedar canoe and it was nicely built.

Cedar canoe build by this man from Fort Rouge. 

There was a lot going on at the Forks. There was a banquet being set up for 1200 people along the river. It is a fund raiser for the Architecture community. They raise money to help young people get into the industry.
Banquet set up along the river

May is Asian Heritage Month. The television network Omni was hosting an event at the Forks.
A lot of color, beautiful people celebrating and demonstrating some of their dance moves for people. I took a few pictures. I admit I may have been guilty of the bad thinking regarding Asian Fetish. We know the movie has perpetuated this myth of "Yellow Fever". I have been watching a lot of Korean shows on Netflix these days. The stories are fun, engaging and I enjoy them. It has nothing to do with the fact, Women are beautiful. Also you know who is extremely handsome?  Waris Ahluwalia was cast in the Beeba Boys. A film by the great Deepa Mehta.  I watched the movie on HBO Canada.  The men and the women are striking. Anyway, the Forks was busy. 

My wife decided to take our five year old on a boat ride. I am not a fan of the owner of Splash Dash Tour Boats. In my opinion the owner is a jerk. But I could be wrong. The Queen of England took a boat ride when she came to Winnipeg. The boat broke down. How fun is that? I mean what would be the odds right?

So the ride was really good. Its nice being on the river. Haven't been on the water for a long time now. Funny as kids growing up in the Reserve, we were on the River all the time. Its not like that much in our community.

The thing about going out and seeing what goes on in a city, you  get to see how amazing and interesting people are.

We saw this tattooed up older guy on a unicycle jumping rock to rock. What a talent. We saw this older guy, covered in tattoos, just enjoying the sights. Another fellow had a stubby beer bottle tattoo on his arm?

Mom's with tattoos walking around with babies and small children. Buskers playing musical instruments  like a saxophone. We listened to Phillip Natividad playing his Ukuklele and covering What a Wonderful World.

City News 

Louie Reil, Mb Legislative view from River

Speaking of Hollywood promoting stereotypes. Have you seen the movie Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood? The young actress Ahney Hera uses the line about Asian Fetish in one scene where some young guys are harassing her. It is a movie filled with Asian characters and a good old American codger. Anyways, just thought of this movie. I am torn between boycotting Clint Eastwood and watching his movies.  Indian Horse is one of his new ones.

I know I didn't do justice in showing you the two hours at the Forks. The day was nice and there was a host of other things to see but we only had two hours. A chance to get our girl an ice cream cone and back home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Weird Sayings From the Reserve

Language Warning.

If you are squeamish, have a tight arsehole, drink tea with your pinky finger pointed up in the air, don't have stinky farts (pooget), use a bidet rather than good old toilet paper, and are just offended by anything, then this is not a good page for you. I suggest skipping this page and thank you for stopping by. If you don't scare or can look at a maggot ravaged carcass then by all means come in.

Some people have their own way of saying things. Lot of these sayings, we have no idea what in the heck is the message. I am trying to remember some of them. I share a few of them here. Perhaps you know the intent of the saying. Some I will just put up with no context so it may be hard to decipher.

"You've been through the hole, eh Shoelace?"

This was a favorite saying of an older cousin in the 1970's while he was partying.

"Fucker John, your money's gone."

Not sure if it was "fuck her" or fucker.

"Fuck them and their little red wagon."

This one is my friend who told me this one. It was his friend who coined this one.

"You dirty cunt lapper."

My cousin was mad at his younger brother and said this to him. This was when we were about 14 to 15 years old. My Auntie asked my cousin, "what is a cunt lapper?" Some of the phrases used may not be specific to our Reserve. I imagine this one is used all over but can't really say if I have heard it anywhere else.

"You got bad thoughts Chi-gaa?"

Not really sure of the last word. I am mispronouncing it for sure. It could be "tii-gaa" or something different. It is what the French priest used to say to the older boys. He was before my time and mostly for the older people in the reserve, those who went to the boarding school in the late 30's 40's and 50's. The Priest now long gone was an infamous predator of young boys in the school. I guess he would say that to the boys and he "washed" their genitals. So the older guys would tease each other with the saying.

"Ween-jeeg" and "Paa-chack".  Two sayings in the Reserve. One is to say when someone is stinky, like pee smelling stinky. The other is when someone is a jerk or a help themselves type of person. It can be a good jerk or a jerk kind of jerk.

Paugan and frog.

These words are euphemisms for vagina. Like, "wash your dirty old frog".  Or Ah-ki-to-paugan. 
The word paugan is a bastardized word. I can only speculate but its actual meaning is Pipe. The Pipe in Indian world is made of the feminine and masculine. So it may have been bastardized because of the Christian affect in our community. As I think it was only in our community where the word was used in this manner. Just like the word for Creator was changed to mean the Devil. Like "michim-imato" instead of Chi-Manito which is Grand Spirit.

Ploode or Plude.

"You old ploode face". "Wash your stinking ploode".  Ploode is specific to our reserve to mean the penis. Not sure of where, when or how it came to be used.

There were/are many sayings specific to the community.

A very good saying is Neechie. Neechie is not specific to our community but its part of the Ojibwe/Cree lexicon. It is used in place of Indian but is a shorten version of the word of friend. "Hey Neechie".  "Hey there are some Neechies over there." 

Be nice to hear some of the sayings specific to your growing up and to your community.

  Riel Benn Artist