Who has time to read? I do

A few weeks ago, I purchased two books at the Elmvale Flea Market for two bucks.

A toonie in total. For my non-Canadian readers, that’s a two-dollar coin.

The vendor put the books in a shopping bag and said, “I hope you enjoy those.”



It used to be the flea market had several displays of used books, table after table and box after box. Mostly popular fiction by Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Stephen King, Dan Brown as well as Twilight and Harry Potter.

And Fifty Shades of whatever.

On this day, maybe a few vendors remained. The pickings were pretty slim and it made me think, do people read much anymore?

Not on Facebook.

Who has time to read what they are reposting? So much easier to find a meme or suspicious (well, not to them) link and exclaim, OMG, look at this! I’m so outraged. I have no idea what it really means or if it’s real but it supports my views.

Holy hell.

In the summer of 1981 I was working in the mail room of Pilot Insurance in Toronto. I spent my lunch hours in the company lounge and to my delight, Pilot had a collection of books. I’d become a Stephen King fan and lo and behold, Salem’s Lot was on the shelf.

I was 19. A female coworker old enough to be my mother said she’d never seen a teenager that was such an avid reader.

And, if you’re a King fan, you know he regards his fans as “constant readers.”

Go back a few years prior and my Dad was shocked to discover Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” in my bedroom. He hadn’t read it, of course. It was scandalous at the time, featuring Jong’s “zipless fuck.” I was 17. Any kind of fuck would have been much appreciated.

Dad became aware of FOF through Newsweek. He had a subscription. I read about Jong’s controversial novel in that same magazine, saw it in a used book store and thought it might be worth buying.

It was.

Long before Youporn and even VCRs, many of us young lads were, um, inspired by the written word when we weren’t checking out the Playboy collections hidden by our friend’s dads in dressers or under the mattresses.

Stephen King wrote in men’s magazines like Cavalier before he hit it big with “Carrie.”

Though I didn’t really read Playboy “for the articles”until my college years.


By the way, the two books I took home from Elmvale were murder mysteries and I highly recommend both.

‘Piece of My Heart,” by Peter Robinson, and Val McDermid’s “The Grave Tattoo.”

I’m often annoyed by the “share if you agree” posts, surveys and lists on Facebook. Many are clickbait. No value to you, but someone thousands of miles away gets a few bucks for your viewings and repostings.


My cousin Vincent Knowles circulated one about books we’ve found important or inspiring. So here’s one of mine. Read it as a teenager, loved the movie version as well.

So…let’s take a U-turn back to Facebook.

It used to be the only way to express your opinion to the general public was through a letter to the editor in a local or national newspaper. They decided if your take on things was worthy of publishing and called you to verify that you were who you said you were.

Now, any lout has a voice.

The Town of Wasaga Beach holds an annual Remembrance Day event the week prior to November 11th. Why? Because Wasaga doesn’t have a legion branch and the legion in Stayner puts on an additional ceremony to salute the beach’s veterans and their families. They don’t have the resources to hold events on the same day so let me repeat, it’s an EXTRA event.

But that didn’t stop some brainless twit ranting on Facebook about how wrong it was for the town to NOT have an event on 11/11 (the town library does its own event on the actual day).

And…maybe you knew this was coming? They blamed Justin Trudeau.

Read. Fucking read. Anything.

I’m captivated by the HBO’s, “Sharp Objects,” starring Amy Adams. Love that turned up nose (and everything below it). Became aware of the series online and eagerly anticipated it because I had read the book.

Written by Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl” and a novel that would likely be an even better miniseries, “Dark Places.”

Flynn was a writer for Entertainment Weekly and you know who’s letter to the editor was accepted by EW?


I was defending Canadian actors and singers though I may have taken a shot at Celine Dion. Her career went on.

However, Joseph O’Mara (my Dad) had a letter to the editor published in the Toronto Star way back in in the ’70s when Justin’s Father was the Prime Minister.





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To friend or unfriend, that is the question

Unless you are a saint or the most wonderful person on earth you have been unfriend on what Jerry Seinfeld called “Facecrack.”

It’s happened to all of us.

Years ago when you friended them you thought, hey, we either worked together, still do, met at place we both like, played ball together, have mutual friends or hey, someone from Ghana wants to be friends, what can be the harm in that?

Maybe a lot.

Maybe they are just a a really nice person from halfway around the world and I’m hoping for the best and believing that person would be a fine human being I’d be happy to connect with, regardless of borders or ideologies.

Please, Mark Zuckerberg, make them be someone I would hug in real life.


I’ve been unfriend by people who would hug the life out of me, kiss me and say they were happy I had come into their life.


I was on the wrong side of a feud. You can’t remain friends with both sides. Kiss them off or I will kiss you goodbye.


Unfriend me. I’d prefer you didn’t but if my small L liberal views offended you, sorry. Defend yours in a thoughtful manner and I’ll listen.

Call the other side idiots or morons and yes, please, please, hit the Unfrend button. Buh-bye,

As soon as you sink to that level, your point of view is nullified

Are Trump and Trudeau morons?

Yes and yes. No and no.

They both rose to the highest offices in their lands and….we’re stuck with them so deal with it. Support. Protest. March.

Or if you didn’t vote you can really fuck off. YOU are the reason we’re in this mess. Thanks. You are part of of the 10 or 20 percent that screwed our province, state or country.

If you voted for Trump or Ford at least you took the time to go to the polls and I salute you for sticking with the people you believed in….

Unlike the “unfrienders” who bailed and said Buy-bye.

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‘Effin the B’s

I’m no prude.

I can swear with the best (or worst) of them, as many of my tennis opponents can attest. It’s game point, here comes an easy put away and…I hit it wide, long, or into the net.


The inspiration for this blog will come your way in a few paragraphs.

For now, I will say the F-word should always be used properly…if that’s possible and I say it can be…for emphasis. For effect. To shock. To make it clear you are pissed off, agitated, frustrated or reached your boiling point.

Or for comedic effect.

One of my favourite uses of the F-word occurred in the 1985 zombie comedy “Return of the Living Dead.”


Clu Gulager plays Burt Wilson, the owner of a medical supply warehouse that has become, much to his friggin’ dismay, the place where cadavers come back to life after a toxic gas is released.

They unleash a zombie from the freezer and the naked creature makes a beeline for Wilson, who eventually kills it with a hammer strike to the head.

Not before he is told, as is well known in Zombie movie lore, to finish off the zombie you must brain it. Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul.

The undead being is still writhing on the floor and Burt says….

“I hit the fucking brain!”

See, there’s the right way to use the F-word. As an exclamation point.

So, the reason for this blog.

Last weekend I sat on the patio of Wasaga Beach’s only landmark, The Dardanella. Celebrating it’s 100th birthday this summer. The Dard is where people met their future spouses and danced to the big band songs of Glenn Miller.

Who can forget, “In the fucking mood?”

Well, that tune may have led to some couplings but of course, it was just “In the Mood.”

So, last weekend.


I’m listening to the music from the loudspeakers and it seems every second song is about fucking. Or bitches. Or fucking those bitches. Or, bitch, let’s fuck. Apparently it was a Spotify playlist and even though there is a setting that filters out R or X-rated lyrics, the management was asleep at the fucking wheel.

In 1978, The Who put out an album called “Who are You?”

Not, “Who the fuck are you?”

And, if you are familiar with the title song, Roger Daltrey adds a fuck to the chorus later in the song, twice, and many rock (then, now classic) stations let that slide because it’s one F-word and hey, that’s rock and roll.

Rebellion. Stick it to the man. Who the fuck are you?

And…I’m venturing into old fart territory.

Remember, Im no prude. I love the films of Quentin Tarantino and I’d bet they average 200 variations of fuck per movie. It’s profanic poetry.

Choruses of fucking bitches, I’m gonna fuck you, let’s fuck or any graphic terms referring to sex.

Lacking in creativity.

My Dad hated profanity. Thought it was a lower class language and I have to agree with Dad on his oft-quoted lyrics from Cole Porter’s 1934 song, “Anything Goes.”

Holy fuck, the creator of the Rock and Roll Riot has included a Bing Crosby movie in his blog.

Good writers who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose…

Anything Goes.

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Minutes to memories

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories.

Life sweeps away the dreams that we have planned.

So sang, and wrote, John Mellencamp.

On Friday June 1st, I gathered my radio memories after 11 years at 97.7 the Beach (don’t worry, I now work from home and write radio ads for The Beach and other Bayshore Broadcasting stations).

And, in my box of name tags, obsolete plugs and connectors, business cards, pins, maracas and other weird things only a radio guy would keep, I found this photo.

On the left, my longtime friend and one of most colourful, talented and inspiration coworkers I’ve ever had…I became Johnny Maraca due to his band, The Black Holes…

Sean Anderson.

And on the right.

On the right…my eyes are watering as I type this.

Back in the late ’90s and early 2000s I sat across from Sean in the creative (commercial writing) department and we had a 19-year-old co-op student named Angela Cook.

She was actually a sales co-op student but, much to our delight, Angela spent many hours in our room.


A few months after Angela’s co-op term had finished I returned home from my Saturday morning tennis session to hear a voicemail (in the days before texts and emails) that floored me.

Angela had been killed in a head-on collision with a truck.


Her boyfriend had fallen asleep at the wheel on Highway 10 near Dundalk. From what I’d been told, Angela laid down on the bench seat of Mike’s pickup and, we can only hope, she was killed instantly and did not experience even one second of the impact.

On the Monday that followed, I was a zombie.

My fingers touched the keyboard and the world stopped. Angela. She was gone and I could not, in the words of the Offspring, deal.

What made Angela’s tragedy even worse was that it wasn’t the first loss for her mother, Jackie.

I spoke at a memorial for Angela, in front of hundreds of her classmates at OSCVI. I was in my late ’30s but The Offspring tune “Gone Away” seemed fitting.

I was a journalism student in the early ’80s when nurse Susan Nelles was (falsely) accused of killing several infants at Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. One of those babies was Justin Cook.

One of my journalism instructors was married to a nurse working in Toronto and he told us back then that Nelles was innocent. It reminded me of the Stephen Truscott case from the early ’60s. You are our only suspect so you must have done it.



And, as my fingers glide…stumble…across the keys I’m dealing with another horrible accident, this time involving Dominic Pugilese.

Dominic has worked as a bartender the past few years at Bananas in Wasaga Beach and last week, he was involved in a head-on collision. Dominic was riding his motorcycle and it collided with a car, between Wasaga Beach and Barrie.

The last I heard, Dominic was in coma. Had a leg amputated.

Dominic has always treated me well. Beach bars serve many tourists but I’m a local and he always made a point of saying hello, shaking my hand and saying, basically, you’ve been here before so welcome back, nice to see you.

Minutes to memories.

I can picture Angela Cook holding her newborns, doting on them and making them feel glad to be alive.

Go back 19 years or so when that 19-year-old aspiring radio sales person, on-air personality or whatever Angela may have become and…

There’s me, sitting at my desk trying come up with an opening line for a car dealer, garden centre or hardware store, pushing back on my chair and I lock eyes with Angela.

She pauses…and sticks her tongue out.

My worries disappear. The seriousness has been shattered and suddenly I only have one thought in my head,

It’s good to be alive. Nothing else matters.

Make the most of your minutes and memories.

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