Spend some time with Hugh MacLeod



I don’t know about yours, but this little diagram sums up my experience in the world of work. I spent most of my time one level below the sociopaths and somehow mostly avoided the bottom level. One nice thing about the clueless level is that you really haven’t got a clue that you’re clueless until you leave the pyramid and see things from a distance.

I can only take so much of The Gaping Void, then I have to go away for a while. When I return, my smile returns, too. What a relief it is to be retired.

Bye, bye Canadian Scene


It hasn’t been active for many years but I think the Canadian Scene deserves at least a mention as it dissolves, because it was a good idea that lasted half a century.

Here’s my old friend Ben Viccari describing the organization, in an interview he gave before his death in 2010.

Back in 1951 when Canadian Scene was established by a group of dedicated volunteers, there were about 50 ethnic newspapers and one or two isolated radio programs — that’s all. Most of these papers were Eastern European and German, with a smattering of Italian since there had been a substantial Italian immigration prior to World War I.

According to my estimate, there are some 1,000 media representing non-English, non- French and non-Aboriginal communities. By media I mean newspapers, magazines, and individual radio and television programs — plus the growing number of internet publications.

The role they play is threefold: (1) acting as a bridge between the newcomer and the community at large, (2) providing ethno- specific community news and (3) providing motherland news.


One of the most rewarding periods of my life was being in 1986 offered the position of managing editor of Canadian Scene, a free news and information service for Canada’s ethnic media. I was also in effect the executive director with a staff of one, the highly efficient Naomi Macdonald who was our office manager. We were publishing in 13 languages by the time of our unfortunate demise and mailing in English to those for whom we couldn’t afford to translate.

I was responsible for persuading the Board back in 1986 that with mailings of our twice-monthly bulletins to such media as Dutch and Czech and Slovak with small representation. We went into Chinese, Urdu, Punjabi but felt the need for even more translations. I lucked into the job after the untimely demise of Doug Amaron , a highly praised retired Canadian Press executive.

When competition for funding became fierce in the late 1990s, Ben saw that Canadian Scene was not going to survive if it didn’t adapt. Postal costs were killing the charity, so Ben asked me if I could help him take him onto the web. Without pay and without an office, Ben continued to write articles on his blog “Canscene”, offering the content free of charge to any ethnic newspapers who wanted to pick it up. Pretty generous.

Since I liked and admired Ben personally, The least I could do was host his blog and teach him the technical needs for blogging. I laugh when I remember how he dealt with flaky software issues. He would bang his mouse on the desktop like a bar of soap, expecting that to clear things up.

Today I got word from another friend about the impending dissolution of the Canadian Scene corporation. John Robert Colombo had served on the board, so he got the official notification. In 120 days, Canadian Scene will cease to exist as a legal entity. I’ll continue to leave Ben’s Canscene in place, anyway.

A sneak preview for Kathleen

monoprint2Signed monoprint by Helen Andersen

Kathleen already has another mono print, similar to this one. Soon she’ll have it’s mate, in a matching matte.

Helen was never one to work in one medium only. She made paintings in oils, acrylics, watercolour, gouache and ink. She painted with airbrush extensively, as well as with a brush, and worked in pastels, too. The mono prints are characteristic of her constant experimentation. We even have works she did on her own, handmade paper.

Pair needs a closer view

2-quick-studiesTwo paintings by Helen Andersen

It’s difficult to appreciate the details in these quick, colourful pieces when the pair are shown so small, so just the paintings themselves, sans frames, are shown below the break.

We’ve framed the pair in black because it makes the colour pop. Both were done in 1983 in Hawaii, where Helen and Raabye often vacationed. The colours are unusual for Helen, probably because she was is a very different environment from her rain forest home. Here she has chosen “Hawaiian Weeds” as her subject.

Here are those closer looks:


In a previous post, my favourite was not the most popular with others. Let’s try this again. I like the top one, best. How about you?weeds

Framing resumes

Tribute to Max Maynard by Helen Andersen Image area: 12″wide x 18.5″ tall. Gouache on paper

This pair offers a look at two different styles, the top one being abstracted and composed in a geometrical way. The one below draws on the same subject matter, but it is rendered more naturalistically … still “composed”, but less obviously.

Max Maynard, BTW, was a B.C. painter and a friend of Helen’s. She felt his loss keenly when he died in 1982. In her “tribute”, you can see how she is referencing Maynard’s stylization of landscape.

Which do you prefer? I like the top one better and Danica is fond of the bottom one.

Saanichton landscape by Helen Andersen Image area:15″wide x 23.5″ tall. Gouache on rice paper

Update to “A Street is Born”

update-vince-streetThe new street cutting through the site of a former school and playing field has acquired a name, at least temporarily. “Who’s Vince?”, I asked a flag man standing beside the sign. He looked at me blankly. No clue. I see that the sign is not a real, city-issued model. Perhaps Vince has aspirations to have a street named after himself. Will it stick? Stay tuned. I know you love this drama.

Four pits at the ends of Vince Avenue’s rows of townhouses foreshadow basements of houses to come. They will probably be detached homes with virtually no yard, but I’ll bet they’ll be pricey.

Another Helen Andersen piece located

chieftans-600pxTitle on back: Indian Chieftans by Helen Andersen

This is great … the Helen Andersen web site has been located and used by the owner of a large, white on black drawing, uncatalogued until now. The signature is on the back, her attached calling card (the paperclips one) and her Saanichtion address and phone number are all there, too. The piece is a nice size … 26.25″ wide, 32.25″ tall.

The owner is Derek Malone of Surrey B.C. and he inherited it as part of his father’s estate. It seems that Derek’s father built the excellent display/storage system Helen had in her studio home.

I like Derek’s piece of art very much. It belongs to the large group of works with aboriginal subjects and it is very characteristic of Helen’s free, expressive way of drawing human figures.

I have permission to add it to the web site, so it will join the other pieces soon. Thank you, Derek, for taking good care of a piece you say you’ve always enjoyed. May you continue to enjoy it for many, many years to come.

Why take the car? Ride the jungle gym.

bad bad bus

It can’t be an accident that modern busses are so bloody awful. It has to be by design, but who’s behind it and why does the TTC buy these bone-jarring rattletraps? I can never get through a ride without bruises. The whole interior is pipes and poles and hard-cornered seat frames. Knee-banger seat backs work well with the cramped legroom.

Lowrise floors are supposed to ease entry at the front, but at the back you have to climb on top of the back wheels, up two steep, steel-edged steps. Want to see if there’s another bus behind, now that yours is being short-turned? Gotcha! The back window is blacked out!

I just learned that TTC is an acronym for Trying To Conceive. Google it, you’ll see. It doesn’t stand for Toronto Transit Commission anymore. We’re supposed to feel screwed.

Found: Dear Old Dad, age 20


Regrettably, we lost track of dear old Dad somewhere along the line, but that’s another story. This one is about a young constable, not even finished training at RCMP headquarters in Regina. Probably 1940. I like to think that Dad is the least scary looking one. That’s him, on the right.

I found this in an album while looking for something else. A previously unknown “Helen Andersen” has been discovered and I was researching it. Constable Bob, above, was Helen’s first husband and my father.

More about the found artwork, later.