Monday, March 8, 2010

Yo Canada !

There is a list of questions I ask at least every ten days or so. Some are important, others less so. How is Zimbabwe doing? How is the former USSR doing ? Is Leonard Cohen going to put out any more albums? What about the Puhdys and all the other great East German rock groups. How many of them are still together? Will New York's Governor Paterson finish his term of office? How are the Samaritans doing in Israel? There is only about 700 of them. But they keep hanging in there. The list goes on and on. And that is what keeps me blogging. So today's question is "How is Canada doing?"

I always enjoyed going to Canada and noting the subtle differences between their ways and American ways. There is a noticeable shift in accent as well as occasional differences in spelling. Instead of the great linguistic divide being Spanish and English that we have here in America, in Canada it is French and English. The money has Queen Elizabeth II on it, because they belong to the Commonwealth of Nations.

My all time favourite part of Canada is Newfoundland. Until 1949 it was an independent country, as was the rest of Canada. Then it was absorbed by Canada. They have a beautiful accent that sounds to my untrained ear to be Scottish or Irish. I remember the breathtaking greenness of the landscape and the friendliness of its people. They have a half time zone so it is 4:30 in Newfoundland when it is 3:00 in New York or Boston. In the earlier days of aviation, Gander, Newfoundland was a common refueling stop on the way to Europe. The language remains distinct with some fascinating local words such as to "ballyrag" (abuse) and "gowdy (awkward) It is also well known for weird place names such as "Blow Me Down" and "Jerry's Nose".

Then there is Radio Canada. "The World At Six" and "Dispatches" are the two programs of which I am most fond. One is a nightly news broadcast. The other is a series of reports from around the world treated with depth. Both are available in podcast format I enjoy the detached intimacy of Radio Canada's American coverage.

I am never disappointed with Canadian Music. Alanis Morissette and Joni Mitchell are well known, as is Gordon Lightfoot. One of my favourite song lines comes from a song by Leonard Cohen. "Where do all these highways go, now that we are free?" I can reflect for hours on that.

There is a lot of undiscovered treasure in Canada. Back in 1972, I saw an exhibit of Eric Freifeld drawings when I was traveling with my parents. The name always stuck in my mind, thank G-d. I put his self portrait at the top of this page.

One thing I always like to check on is Canadian country music. I am sure that Charlie Major is famous all across Canada, but I just discovered him when I was checking out Canadian country music. His song "Nobody Gets Too Much Love" proves what I have always believed to be the difference between country music and regular pop. Country music is what I listen to when I reach for music about being married, having children and getting old. Pop music tends to focus on getting together and breaking up. If I need a song for what concerns in my 50's, I turn to country music. Country music has transplanted very well to Canada. There are also very good English and Australian country singers. The genre is truly world wide.

There are some countries that capture my imagination and my thoughts. Other places rarely cross my mind. Canada is like a neighbour that is in some ways like a sister. It is very similar to America in language but has branched out on its own path that is far more British than their large southern neighbour.

I will continue to look at regular intervals for good Canadian art and music. I am never disappointed when I do so. Thank you Canada. You are a good neighbour.
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