David Fernandes
Producer, Director, Writer

Re-Wire filming complete

     Posted on Thu ,03/09/2009 by djfern

Wow, what a month. We’ve completed filming on my first short, “Re-Wire”. A truly talented team of actors and crew pulled together for a really fabulous and hard two days of shooting, with possibly the best and most nutritious food to ever grace a low-budget film set.

The film stars Brandon McGibbon as Harley, Shawn Lawrence as Dr. Adrian Vanuz, and Marnie Robinson as Joanne.

Principal filming happened around the corner from our house over at the Centre of Gravity, which we rented out for four days from the very friendly and supportive owners.

The film is now in post-production and is being edited by Tim Kirkwood (who amazingly also lives around the corner from me).

The footage from the RED camera is just so amazing. The direct result of an extremely talented camera crew headed up by Greg Bennett

Scott Wise is currently working on a little website for the film which we hope to have up by early next week. I’ll be cutting a trailer this weekend.

In the mean-time, I present to you the very first public screenshots from the film.

Lots more to come soon.

Enjoy!

;)

title

hallway

chair

rewire10

rewire9

marnie_sm

lesson

helmet

lensbaby

What I’ve been up to

     Posted on Tue ,21/07/2009 by djfern

Hey folks, thanks for visiting my new website!

For those who’ve been out of touch for a while, I no longer do graphic design work and am happy to recommend my friends at the Public Studio in Toronto.

For the last two years since leaving Ottawa I have been working on building a successful video and film production company called Leslieville Production and Post Inc. We work with a number of clients including labour unions, the Government of Ontario and the United Way. The business is owned jointly with Gregory Bennett and soon, Sarah Kapoor. We provide a full range of production services for TV commercials, PSAs, campaigns and more. Check it out and subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to stay in touch.

CURRENT PROJECTS

Since January 2009, I’ve been working closely with Sarah Kapoor and am currently co-producing two feature-length documentary projects with her:

The first one, about birth, follows Sarah’s journey as a new mother to find an alternative to the medicalized system of child birth that we’ve come to know and fear. The film explores a growing movement of women, doulas, parents, educators and activists who are forming a number of viable alternatives to painful, medicated hospital births.

The second film takes an historical and critical look at school – the babysitter of the masses. The film explores the history and structure of compulsory schooling, how it got to be this way and how stuck it is in a centuries-old paradigm that no longer works well in a modern context. The film also explores the vast network of schools, educators and parents that have taken back control of their children and are experimenting with new ways of learning and teaching.

Finally, I’m working with an amazing group of people on a 12-minute sci-fi short that I’ve written and will be directing. Re-wire is about Harley, a worn down man in his 40′s who suffers from severe, debilitating anxiety and Dr. Vanus, a disgraced but brilliant neurologist, who claims he can fix him. No analysis. No drugs. Just an hour on an experimental machine that uses computer-controlled electromagnets to re-wire the structure of Harley’s brain. But when the re-wiring doesn’t go quite as planned, Harley must face his deepest fears alone, and Vanus must come to grips with what Harley has become in his care…

The film will be shot on the RED camera by Gregory Bennett (CSC). We are shooting in late August and will be submitting the film to the Sundance Festival for the 2010 season. Casting is being done during the last week of July under the ACTRA TIP program. Wish us luck!

Full Circle

     Posted on Wed ,15/04/2009 by djfern
Late on April 6th, 2009 – my birthday – my father passed away.
On the surface, this would seem like a shitty thing to have happen, but in the context of my life, it actually makes perfect sense.
I was born on April 6, 1973; my brother Danny, April 6 1961; my father-in law Gurmit, April 6, 1943; my brother-in law Raj, April 6, 1973. Between our two immediate families, Nrinder and I have four people that share the same birthday. So if you can accept the impossibility of that, then my father dying on my birthday has some kind of cosmic circularity to it. The man who helped bring me to life transitioned into his new life on the anniversary of my birth. What a gift.
The days leading up to my birthday were hard ones. By the time I got to Napanee, where he lived, on Thursday, Dad was pretty far gone. He hadn’t eaten in close to a week, he’d lost a substantial amount of weight, and he was barely able to get up, much less walk anywhere. I knew that he wanted to die at home, away from doctors and hospitals, so I cancelled all my plans for the next four days – including my birthday party – so I could help him do that. Dad’s wife, bless her soul, was having a hard time keeping up with him. Nrinder and I knew that by being present we could extend the time he had at home and possibly help him achieve his wish.
But he was a stubborn bugger – a trait that comes directly from being the youngest male in a family of farmers. He’s been independent since he was able to walk, working since he was strong enough to shovel earth, aerate wine or stomp on grapes – as if he was going to let anyone ‘help’ him. Since he retired at age 55, he’d been the picture of health: lean, strong, able, sharp, and tireless. But the cancer  - and particularly all the goddam treatments – did a number on him. When it was clear the chemo wasn’t working, my father made a very conscious decision to go. But in spite of his wishes, his body soldiered on. Life, it seems, is a difficult thing to loose, even when you want to.
So for four days I helped keep him comfortable, keep him company. I cried a lot those days, knowing that there wouldn’t be more of them and feeling bad that he had to go in such a miserable way. “You don’t ever want to go through this,” he whispered to me. And he’s right. With the cancer spread to his stomach, liver, lungs and kidneys, ‘living’ had become reduced to lying in bed, too weak too move, to parched to talk, too dehydrated to cry.
I didn’t have anything burning to tell him, I just took his hands and felt their heaviness and warmth, noticing for the first time how elegant his hands were. I’d always imagined them as a bit stubby, but up close his fingers were long and his skin soft. Hands that once picked me up by my ears, to my squeals of delight, were still strong and gentle, even after all the sickness.
By Sunday it was clear to us that we couldn’t keep him at home anymore. He’d already tried to get up a couple of times on his own, and fallen, and the stress of this had gotten to be too much. We explained to him that we thought he’d be better served in a hospital, with round-the-clock nurse care and better facilities, and once we were sure he understood, he agreed to go. 
As we waited for the paramedics, I took a few moments alone to tell him that I loved him, that I appreciated him, that I forgave him and that I would treasure his memory, and that I was sorry he had to go this way.
After four days of being inside, surrounded by death and sadness, I stood with Nrinder on the front steps of his house and witnessed the first signs of spring. As the paramedics carried my father out of the house, the sun shone warm and brilliant, the finches and blackbirds filled the air with beautiful songs as two doves cuddled in their tree. 
For all the fear of hospitals and doctors, the people at the Lennox and Addington hospital in Napanee treated him like extended family. They forced no more pills on him, hooked him up to no more machines, and moved him as precious little as they had to. They knew they were giving him a comfortable place to go, and treated him with all the respect and care that he could have ever got at home. In fact, the home care nurses were wonderful too – caring, sensitive and quick to respond. It gave me a whole new appreciation for our health care system and how wonderful and precious – and privileged – it is to have so many resources so close at hand and totally independent of an insurance plan. For all the ninety-something visits to doctors and specialists that my father had and all the hundreds of visits to home by nurses, all the equipment that was installed in the house and leant out to make things easier, none of it cost an extra dime. 
The folks at the hospital let us use an emergency room, privately, as they waited to bring him into a room in the ward upstairs. It’s there that I said my goodbye. It was Sunday, and my birthday was the following day. I decided to go home because I wanted to be with my mother on my birthday and I didn’t think there was anything more that I could to do to make him comfortable. I had planned to come back on Tuesday if necessary, but I knew this time that I wouldn’t see him again. 
Before leaving, I asked for a few moments alone. I took his hand and told him again that I loved him and I thanked him for being the man that he was. I told him that I would see him again. And his final words to me, whispered through his sore, parched mouth, were, “you will.”
And I did. 
Driving home that night, Nrinder and I saw the most beautiful sunset, orange and purple rays streaking across bands of clouds and flocks of Canadian geese, returning from the south. And I felt a great peace come over me. Though letting go is a sad business, spring is always around the corner.
The following evening – my birthday – I went to visit my mother. After chatting with her for a little bit, I went upstairs to use the washroom. While taking a pee, I distinctly heard a child’s voice say my name. I looked behind me and of course found no child, but I took note of the experience because I’m not one for hearing things. Moments later, while sitting on the couch with my mother, I got the call that my father had passed in the company of his wife and her sister-in-law. It happened a five minutes ago.
After seventy-four years of life, and three long years fighting cancer, my father decided to let go of his dying body on April 6th – Danny, Gurmit, Raj and my birthdays. And now, appropriately, his birthday too.

Love beyond sentimentality

     Posted on Mon ,23/03/2009 by djfern

The back is bright white, like some fine, unfired porcelain, and it makes a dense, glassy sound as I run my fingers along its ultra smooth surface. The front is a dull, off-pink colour chosen from the muted palette of 70′s kids paints. Like some fossil from another time, a child’s handprint is embalmed in the plaster, sunk into the middle of the six inch pie plate that molded it. On the back, ‘David’ is printed in pencil by some unknown adult, but the date is my father’s scrawl: 16-06/79. I was six years old.

My father brought it up from his basement last week, his cheeks already sullen, his clothes baggy, his speech slurred from the morphine. “I want you to have this,” he said matter-of-factly. 
It’s a reminder that we lived together once, before the marriage broke up, before he left – before things got complicated.
We lived close to my elementary school, St. Anthony’s. I could walk there in about a minute and would come home for lunch daily, tearing across neighbours’ lawns and leaping off the small hill next door; peanut butter and banana sandwich with a side of the Flintstones on channel nine.
When school was done, I would play for a bit, anxiously awaiting the return of my father from work. In those days he managed the LCBO store at the top of our street. Whenever I heard the car pull up, I would run to one of my two hiding spots, between the back of the front door, or inside the closet, and then scare the piss out of him as he entered the house. I got him every time.
When he left home he didn’t take much with him, grabbing his tools, wine-making gear and a couple of antiques he’d refinished: a pull-down desk, and a tea cart, both relics from the school teacher my parents bought their first house from. He wants me to have them now.
They’re beautful old pieces, but the desk – the desk is evil. Whenever I got a fever as a kid, I would hallucinate. The oval patterns on my curtains became eyes. I’d see a mouth opening and closing in the air, or feel like I was in the booth of a vast court, being judged by some presence sitting at the top of an incredibly high tower. I felt small and vulnerable, perfect prey for the hungry desk in the next room. The desk with the animal feet, waiting patiently for a moment when my parents were asleep and it could waddle over to my room. Its mouth, the folding desktop, snapping up and down, swallowing me whole until my mother would burst in and pull me out. 
The tea cart I found less menacing. I would insist on pushing it around when we had visitors, making as many trips back to the kitchen as my mother would tolerate.
This past weekend my father also gave me his ring, the one he’s had since before time. His mother gave it to him as a gift, the day he left Madeira Island. It’s a chunky thing with gold art deco styling and a giant red, rectangular ruby in the middle. My six-year old hand might have fit two fingers in it, but today it is snug. She gave it to him as a reminder of her love. And he gives it to me as a reminder of where he came from, and as a hint that he won’t be here for much longer.
The hand it once fit is old now, spotted with age and discolored by jaundice, swollen with fluids from a number of medical complications. His organs are struggling as his body eats itself for food. 
I cried on the car ride back this time, not knowing if it’s the last time I’ll see him. Not sure if there’s anything I need to say or want him to know. I’ve always been a bit quiet around him, but I don’t think there’s a lot left to say. I’m happy just to be there as much as possible, watching him while he naps, getting him a glass of water, accepting the trickle of gifts as he takes inventory of his things and finds new lives for them. 
A desk; a cart; a ring; a plate: worthless things without the memories that give them purpose, give them meaning. 
My hand dwarfs the imprint I left, but my father returns it to me now not because it was mine, or even because it was made by me.  Despite its age, the plate with my six-year old hand print looks new, like it was kept in a vault. There is no dust, no dirt and hardly a chip. For thirty years he treasured it, kept it safe. And more than any sentimentality its return conjures up, its condition shows me something else, so simple and so powerful. 
He loves me. 

Healing the heart is an afterthought.

     Posted on Tue ,10/03/2009 by djfern

I’m having de ja vu.


When I was 11, the same year my dad left my mother and me, my brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was twenty-three at the time. Although he made a good go of it, the cancer caught up with him, spreading to his liver. The final few months were terrible. His muscles wasted away along with his patience and joy of life. His belly swelled up like those of the kids you see on TV – he literally starved to death. My brother Danny, who for my whole life was a large, loved-filled, creative and nurturing man, transformed into a living skeleton in front of my eyes. We shared a wall between our bedrooms and I remember coming to hate the sound of his knocking. No longer loving and gracious, I watched chemotherapy suck the life and joy out of him, and morphine render him irritable and spacey. In my final words to him, I made a confession: I *did* eat the extra piece of cake that he suspected me of. But he was already gone. Comatose. Brain dead. 


It took me quite a while to work through that experience. I was thirteen at the time and I turned the next five years of my life into a hazy binge of drugs and alcohol. By the time I was eighteen I had partied so hard that friends and family alike were worried about my health and future. 


Then I found the drama program in my high school, and like some kind of unintentional group therapy, I found an outlet for all my pain. I started writing and performing in earnest, and spent a good deal of my time playing guitar and writing on my little Mac SE, which my dad helped me buy.


I’m at my dad’s house now, 22 years after my brother died, and I’m watching someone else that I love waste away. I wrote in this blog earlier about how he had cancer in his prostate and how our trip to Portugal together was timed so that we could do that together before he got any worse, god forbid. 


While we were in Portugal, he showed me a large, death-looking black mole on his arm. He was waiting for test results, but I knew what it was instantly. I let him believe it could be a cyst or some other benign skin thing. 


The day we got back to Canada, dad heard back from the hospital – the mole was in fact an aggressive melanoma skin cancer tumour, and its immediate removal was needed. 


Almost two years later, a dozen surgeries, radiation and chemo, the cancer has spread to my father’s liver. Doctors give him a few months to live. Already he’s lost a lot of weight, is weak, irritable and spacey. This, in contrast to the workhorse he normally is – happy really only when he’s outside moving rocks and hammering things. Dad has always been in his element working eight hours straight in the beating sun with no sunblock. He has said repeatedly throughout that the hardest thing for him to deal with was not being ‘sick’, but being stationary. 


There’s a lot of things going through my head these days. I wonder about all those sunblock-less hours in the hot sun and whether that had anything to do with it. I wonder about his diet, which is rich in fruits, but also in packaged foods and artificial sweetener. I wonder about all the stress he took on as a senior manager at the LCBO in the 80′s. I wonder about all the wine he drank and the supposed miracle effects of the red pigment. I wonder about how someone so healthy could become so ill, so quickly.


And I especially wonder about this triple-edged sword of surgery-radiation-chemo – the standard weapons of cancer-fighting the world over: How was my father supposed to get better by having his lymph nodes (which aid the immune system) torn out, his body blasted with cancer-causing radiation and then pumped full of highly toxic chemicals? I know this system works for a lot of people, but I wonder what role your outlook plays in your ability to survive it. 


For my father, the surgery-radiation-chemo cycle may have extended his life by a few months, but it has also sapped him of the will to live. The 100 or so visits to doctors, the endless tests, the painful recoveries, side-effects, blod-clotting, and the terrible, soul-sucking effects of intense radiation and chemo treatments have left him broken and miserable. And after all that, guess what? He’s still going to die.


I did try to offer some alternatives. I offered to go with him to a sweat lodge, or put him in touch with a dear friend who is a holistic nutritionist that specializes in cancer care. I offered to fly out with him to Canada’s only holistic oncology centre in Vancouver. In the end though, my dad’s faith in the medical system was unshakeable.  


I obviously don’t have any answers here. Who knows if a different diet, lifestyle, sunblock or anything at all could have avoided the fate my father now faces. But I have to think that an approach to healing that focused on the spiritual and mental dimensions of disease – in addition to the physical – that helped him to cope, and gave him hope, even if it couldn’t save his life, might have at least made his final days more bearable. 


So, I’m here doing what I can, which for the most part is just being present. I’ve seen this all before. And unlike with my brother, my dad’s knocking isn’t making me angry, I don’t need drugs and alcohol to cope, and it’s not going to take me years of pain or drama classes to work through it. My father and I mended our relationship years ago. I don’t have a last confession to make this time. Just a little lament that what we call ‘health care’ so frequently misses where the real healing needs to happen: in the heart.

When push comes to shove, what would YOU do?

     Posted on Thu ,26/02/2009 by djfern

You’re just sitting on the streetcar, passively people watching, phasing in and out of daydreams, and next thing you know, two woman are bashing each other’s faces in, right on top of you.


In the moment, you don’t really know what to do.

Today, without thinking, I got involved.

Rewind to a few minutes earlier, a young white girl, maybe sixteen or so, gets in a huff about how a late 30′s east asian woman ‘sat on her stuff’, when she sat down at one of the few available seats on the crowded, rush-hour streetcar. The girl yells at her and starts pulling macho crap I’ve only ever heard come from young men before. ‘Who said you could touch my stuff, you bitch? You wanna go right now? Me and you outside?’

Not taking any crap from a mouthy teen, the woman explained that the seats were for everybody and she couldn’t keep her bag there.

Taking that as a taunt, the girl’s friend (also white) jumped in to further harass the woman, chastising her and hurling out racist slurs.

The woman, now trembling with anger, told them they have no right to talk to her like that and refused to budge. Which led the first girl to physically shove her off the seat.

The next few moments are a bit of a blur as the woman got up and started punching the girl in the face, and then her friend joined in and they both started beating on the woman.

I immediately threw myself into the fray, and with the help of Janet (who I know and just happened to be in the seat behind them), managed to pull the two sides apart and appeal for calm.

They stopped fighting. My appeal for calmness, however, didn’t get very far.

The driver, somehow unaware that people were screaming and fighting, kept driving.

White girl, now feeling victimized and sporting a swelling lip, ramped up her racist barrage. Myself and Janet told her off, but she kept going, emboldened by all the attention.

The woman, crying and red with anger, again asserted herself, telling the girl she needed to be taught a lesson. The girl went off on it threatening to get off the streetcar with her and beat her up. ‘You better watch when you get of bitch, we’re getting off at the same stop and I’m gonna fuck you up.’

I asked the woman if she was ok or needed anything. She decided to call the cops on her cell phone since the driver obviously wasn’t going to do anything.

Even while the woman was on the phone, with the police, the white girl continued her tough talk, threatening her, calling her racist names. By this point, other passengers were speaking up and telling the girl to shut up. Her friend, worried about the police, took her aside and tried to calm her down.

I went up with the woman to tell the driver what was going on and that the cops were on their way.

A few passengers at the front expressed support for the woman and thanked me for challenging the girl.

The cops showed up and myself and another man about my age gave a quick statement. We were worried that the girls would lie and make it look like the woman just started wailing on them for no reason.

The streetcar left with the woman in the back seat of a cop car and the two girls getting grilled by two cops on the street.

Back at home now, the whole incident has me a bit shaken.

The two young girls will likely be charged with assault. It’s not a good feeling to think that I helped incarcerate two young women, as absolutely obnoxious and racist as they were. Criminal justice isn’t going to help them one bit – if anything, it will make them worse.

And as for the woman, having myself been the victim of bullying in the past, I totally understand the urge to strike back, to show that weak, insecure fool that you can’t be messed with.

But I can’t help but wonder if the whole fight could have been avoided if the woman had just gone up to the driver and asked him to call security from the outset. And heck, since I was sitting right beside her, and witnessed the whole vulgar escalation, why didn’t *I* go up and ask the driver to call security?

The whole thing was disturbing on a number of levels. The race dynamics of two young white women bullying and taunting an east asian woman, twice their age. The woman beating on a girl half her age. The streetcar driver who did nothing and took no serious note of the major commotion. And the silence that most people kept during the whole incident.

What would you do?

Would you have challenged the girls earlier and weakened their perceived power over the woman?

Would you have offered to switch seats in order to create a buffer between them?

Would you have gone up to the driver and asked for security to intervene?

Or would you just move seats or do your best to ignore them?

In the future, I’m going to speak out sooner, and remove myself from the privilege of being a passive observer.

If anything, it might help avoid an ugly, unnecessary fight between strangers.

Reboot

     Posted on Thu ,19/02/2009 by djfern

I started this blog in May 2007 as a way to share my thoughts about a trip to Portugal I was about to make with my father. I posted fairly faithfully for that trip, but then turned my blogging attempts to Facebook, rather than keeping this updated.

Following the Facebook privacy bru-ha-ha of this week, it’s clear to me that posting content on Facebook is really not a great option. They have, on more than one occasion, changed their user policy in such a way that insinuated that they could, potentially, own the content that you as a user freely post to the site. They backed off, again, of course, but the ongoing threat is an important one to take note of. So I have. And I’m going to gradually stop using Facebook for posting new content. Particularly my writing endeavors.
Instead, I’m going to reboot this blog and try to update it several times a week. In it, I’ll be sharing personal stories, ranting about politics and providing my own slanted analysis of ongoing local and world events. 
‘Entre as ondas’ is Portuguese for ‘between the waves’. For me, this is that moment of stillness between undulations, where a wave is neither crawling up the shore nor retreating: a chance to stop, think, reflect and share. 

Ten arguments against a coalition, and how to debunk them.

     Posted on Mon ,01/12/2008 by djfern

1) The Lib-NDP coalition is a ‘coup’.

Actually, a coup is an illegal seizure of power. A coalition government is not only legal, it’s constitutional, has happened before in Canada and is commonplace all over the world.

2) It’s an ‘unholy alliance’ because it relies on the Bloc for support.

I’m curious as to what a ‘holy’ alliance is? The Bloc is a federal political party that advocates for Quebecers in the same way that the Conservatives are a federal political party that advocates for rich people. The Bloc is left of centre and so is the NDP. Occasionally, when opportune, so are the Liberals. It is a strategic alliance, not a religious one.

3) The coalition is a cheap power grab by sore losers.

Political parties exist for one reason: to enact legislation that they believe is in the best interests of their constituents. Harper certainly tries. If one or more opposition parties decide they can agree on enough things to run the government, then power to them. Grab it. Both hands.

4) This is a ‘socialist’ / ‘communist’ plot to take over the country!!!!!!!

There’s a great movie from the 80′s called Red Dawn. Watch it. It all came true. The USSR parachuted in millions of soldiers into your neighbours’ living rooms, and they all voted NDP, Liberal, Bloc and Green – well, ok, only 62% of them did. Lock your doors. They look just like you.

5) We need Stephen Harper right now because he’s an economist

He’s an economist that thinks that selling your country’s public assets, bullying its employees and silencing its opposition are plausible ‘ways and means’ to run a country in the face of the largest economic crisis since 1929. They have provided nothing in terms of economic protection for Canadian home owners and renters and nothing to Canada’s largest employing industries – manufacturing and automotive. So, if that is the type of economist Harper is, I would much rather have a lawyer and a professor running the country. And if they can figure out how to work with a separatist party, in a framework that is stable and progressive, than all the more power to them.

6) Ha! I knew it! The NDP-BLOC planned this all months ago – Jack Layton said so! It’s a ‘backroom scheme’.

Layton and Duceppe speak regularly as opposition leaders and made contingency plans like any other opposition parties do in a minority parliament. In fact, in 2005, the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP were signatories to a letter to the Governor General asking her to consider all her alternatives in the event of a dissolution of parliament – IE, the possibility of a coalition. The only ‘scandal’ here is that the tories illegally recorded and broadcast a private conversation, when they knew they were invited to it accidently. 

7) The people voted for Stephen Harper! You are trying to overturn the election results!

Actually, the people voted for political parties. They gave the tories a minority, which means the prime minister must work WITH the other parties in order to pass as little as a fart. In Canada, our parliament has a sort of checks and balance system called ‘responsible government’, which means, the ruling party – the party that gets to form the government – must enjoy the ‘confidence’ of the house. Usually that means they need the majority of the votes to stay in power. The Conservatives do not have a majority of the seats and have shown unprecedented (even for them) callousness and shortsightedness in their economic update and have lost the confidence of the house. Therefore, the GOVERNOR GENERAL must decide whether to call an election, or to give power to another group of parties.

8) Canadians did not vote for a ‘coalition government’.

No one voted for Harper to act like a demagogic jackass either. The opposition parties, representing 54% of the seats in the house – the majority – have every right to try and form a government. They will do so with a formal agreement that outlines how they will work together, and what legislative priorities they will have. Those priorities were voted on by Canadians and in fact more Canadians voted for the policies of the Bloc, NDP and Liberals than did the Conservatives. Furthermore, those priorities will have to be a compromise of sorts between the three parties. This kind of negotiating ensures that policies that Canadians DID vote for DO get enacted. 

9) The Bloc is a SEPARATIST PARTY!! THEY WANT TO DESTROY CANADA!!!

The Bloc is a FEDERAL political party that operates only in Quebec. And although they are separatist, there is no way at all they could ‘destroy Canada’ by voting in the Canadian parliament and no way that the Liberals or the NDP would support a Quebec separation motion. Furthermore, the Bloc represent 65% of the seats in Quebec and have always been strong advocates of publicly funded and delivered social programs for all Canadians and Quebecers, peaceful use of our military, pay equity and a long list of other progressive legislative ideas. A coalition would work with the Bloc to identify progressive ideas that they could implement for a 2.5 year period. Sounds pretty constructive to me.

10) The NDP should not enter an ‘unholy alliance’ with the Liberals because it will weaken their policies.

As it stands right now, the NDP is the fourth largest party in the parliament with 37 seats. Entering into a coalition with the liberals would give them 6 of 24 cabinet positions and would guarantee that at least some of their platform is implemented. The NDP could never accomplish this sitting by itself in opposition and frankly, it is high time the NDP start acting like a real power broker in parliament. That’s why we elected them. And heck, what better proof of your ability to govern is there than governing?

Well, that’s all folks

     Posted on Wed ,06/06/2007 by djfern

Yep, last day. I’m sitting by the Marina again, having a beer and waiting on a Tuna salad (it’s an actual salad here).

Dad went home yesterday, I went to the airport with Chico, a cousin who has a cab here. Nice guy – he’s quite young, like 25 or something and speaks English quite well. His girlfriend Regina, Chico and I got to hang out a tiny bit while I was here, though we didn’t end up going out dancing. I seem to have forgotten to give them my cell number. Doh.

So, the trip is almost over. I spent most of today running around with a video camera, capturing little slices of life here, my aunt’s house, the long, steep walk down to the street, the thruway, scenes from downtown, the fish and fruit markets, the marina and about 20 minutes of ocean and waves – mostly for the audio. I ended up getting all the shots i wanted to get – 7 hours of video to wade through now. My family here all think I’m crazy and take way too many pictures and video. Everyone with the exception of Ana and Hernando, who I spent my last night here with.

Hernando, who I’ve spoken of before in this blog, is also a musician, in addition to a sculptor, painter, graphic designer and interior designer (man I am humbled). He showed me this crazy drum pad he has called the Handsonic – it’s sort of a drum machine meets electronic drum kit, but the sounds it produces are simply stunning. It has an infared sensor in one area to recognize the waving of a hand over it – this, depending on what kit is active, will produce something like brushing your hands across a row of bells or chimes or wood blocks, etc.. Watching and listening to him play it was amazing. I want one. haha. I’ve wanted a drum kit for a long, long time, so this would be the extremely compact version with like 600 drum sounds, sampled from a truly global variety of drums. Blown away.

Dad and I had a great trip. His wife Jeanette was a bit sick and, I think, was eagre to get home. I feel like I know him a little better than i did and I’ve also recognized some bad habits I still have with him, namely frustration and impatience. It stems from my disappointment with him over my life, and particularly as a child, but yeah, I’m committed to changing my behaviour. I got to see his familial homes and meet his side of the Madeira families. Can’t put a price tag on this trip. It was really once-in-a-lifetime.

I am looking very forward to meeting up with Nrinder at the airport Tomorrow and getting a good nights sleep in my own dry, warm, snuggly bed.

See you all soonish!

ciao!

david.

Shiternet, more cousins, the mountain walk, dad and calmness.

     Posted on Sun ,03/06/2007 by djfern

It’s been a great few days, minus the annoying and ongoing problem of finding reliable, free hotspots here – they are supposedly everywhere, but there are only two places i can find where it actually works reliably.

I had a great visit with my cousins here, they have two young boys who are just hilarious, creative and frighteningly well mannered. I always think of young boys as insane little monsters (based mostly on the teasing and harassment I endured as a young boy), so I’m always happy to meet fun and creative ones – it makes me feel better about the world to know all boys won’t grow up to be jerks.

My cousins Hernando and Ana, having lived most of their lives in Venezuela, have a really different outlook on Madeira than most – and one that I increasingly tend to share. Mostly that culturally, it’s very conservative and gossipy, reserved and insular. As an outsider – even ones that DO speak Portuguese well – they find people are very friendly and welcoming on the surface, but don’t really seem to care much about you in the long run. I kinda get that. I’ve felt that the last few times that people are really happy to throw down a wicked meal, but there’s little follow-up and frankly, little interest in what I’m about or what I’m interested in past the normal formalities. I do try to dig a bit but I find people sort of not interested in talking more deeply about themselves or what’s really going on in their lives. It’s more than a language thing. One can go deeper with intention, even if the language isn’t fully there to support it. So, hanging out with these cousins is a huge breath of fresh air for me here. I feel like I can almost be myself around them. Almost. Give it some more time I guess.

The walk in the mountains yesterday was incredible. Perfect day for a mountain walk as there were no clouds at all. You could see for ever. Stupidly though, I didn’t wear sunscreen and then of course found out when i got back to town that the whole island is on red alert for abnormally high UV rays. If I come back glowing in the dark, you’ll know why.

The walk was fairly long 13km of extreme ups and downs – but it was totally doable. I must be in much better shape than i was last year cuz I remember being way more fatigued. It’s very energy intensive, but not really that hard. And my god, the views. Cameras just can’t do it justice. It’s like being on Mars in some places – red, volcanic earth with huge boulders and lines of minerals and rock kris-crossing the landscape, and then other parts are lush with small flowers and cacti and yet other parts that are like some old horror movie with gnarly heather trees, clinging to the hillsides. The whole walk took about 4.5 hours or so. I would do it again and again. Last year when I went with Nrinder, it was cloudy, which has it’s own kind of beauty too.

Aside from taking a couple of days to do more of my own thing, I have been spending quite a bit of time with my father as well. It’s been a process for me to just totally relax around him and accept him fully for who he is. I think I must have some lingering resentment somewhere and it comes out in being a bit impatient with him. And it’s funny, because the thing that might annoy me the most about him is his impatience. So, figure that one out.

Even though I really can’t afford to be taking this trip right now, and the whole thing came together so last minute, I am so glad that I am here, being present, trying to understand my father, my family, this place called Madeira and myself. I think that for the last couple of years I have really been mean to myself – internalized a lot of hatred and self-doubt, having had an almost absolutely horrible time at work and the whole process of cutting off the chains of such an enormously well-paying job. It’s really good for me to take this time to just relax a bit and come to terms with a few things that have been nagging me. I do my best reflecting and growing on my own and I’m happy I’ve taken this time to do that. I feel like the last few months have been about that for me – I haven’t been aggressively pursuing contracts or work – I’ve been lounging a bit and (burning through my savings) and trying to build a peaceful space in my soul that will last. In the last year or so, my heart rate has actually dropped almost 20 beats per minute at resting. Crazy. Quitting smoking was obviously a huge factor, but it’s more than that.

I’m a much calmer person now. And I really, really like me that way.