Columns & Series 31 results

Swearing in a new BC Premier Brings Back Barrett Memories

Politics: Looking back at the first BC NDP victory in 1972 Rod Mickleburgh remembers the day the "socialist hordes" stormed the gates of Government House and Dave Barrett took the oath of office. There was no ceremony, no dancers, no tweets, but British Columbia would never be the same. By Rod Mickleburgh Watching the joyous, almost giddy swearing-in of the province’s new premier and his gender-balanced cabinet, I couldn’t help thinking of BC’s very first transition of power to the NDP, so long ago the Vancouver Sun had two full-time labour reporters. That historic ground-breaker took place way back in 1972, or five years before David Eby, the province’s new Attorney General, was born. July 18 was only the third such right-to-left tilt in BC history. Of course, that’s three more than the zero Stanley Cups won by the hapless Canucks, and just enough to keep politics interesting and a semblance of two-party democracy alive in BC’s polarized environment. No wonder John ...

Irene Howard, History Is Her Story

People: Plaque unveiled for Helena Guttridge Mayor's tribute to Vancouver's first female councillor strikes a personal note for Rod Mickleburgh, who in turn honours a chronicler he calls 'Auntie Irene' By Rod Mickleburgh (May 19, 2017) - At the age of 70, my beloved Auntie Irene, under her scholastic name of Irene Howard, published her definitive biography of Helena Gutteridge, Vancouver’s first woman “alderman”. Ten years later, when she was 80, she completed her remarkable book Gold Dust On His Shirt, a moving saga of her family’s working class life in the gold mines of British Columbia, feathered with impeccable research of the times. At 90 she published a very fine poem, which is reproduced below. And one morning last month, at the age of 94 and a half, Auntie Irene sat in the front row of chairs arrayed in a room off the main lobby at city hall, looking as elegant and vivacious as anyone who pre-dated Vancouver’s Art Deco municipal masterpiece by 14 years ...

Fatherhood fuses Disney, duty and doodie

Daddy Diary #9: Freaky Friday Father Seeing through the eyes of his infant daughter, a first-time father learns parenting is a precious lesson in learning from an altered perspective By Chris Lackner I’ve decided fatherhood is a life-long version of Freaky Friday. My baby girl and I haven’t swapped bodies (I’m holding out hope it happens before I have to do my taxes). But as a newbie dad, I often find myself trying to think like my baby (some would claim this isn’t a real stretch). My goal is to see the world anew through her wondrously wide, exploring eyes. In the original 1976 film, and 2002 remake starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter and mother learned a lot from their fantastical body switch. A change in perspective was a catalyst for growth, wisdom – and comedy. The same goes for this daughter-daddy combo. Just by putting myself in her tiny shoes, our little girl (now seven months old) has already taught me many valuable lessons. For ...

Move over Pinocchio, this new Daddy’s got strings

Daddy Diary #8: The Puppetry of Parenting What does a puppet parent looks like? Imagine a new form of entertainment if choreographed by a drunk, one-legged Danny Kaye and a zombie cheerleader. By Chris Lackner “I've got no strings so I have fun, I'm not tied to anyone. How I love my liberty, there are no strings on me!” Sure, Pinocchio made those words famous. But they also describe my motto before becoming a first-time, 37-year-old father. For the last 10 years, I have enjoyed a rare combination: disposable income and disposable time.  With apologies to Walt Disney, I’d add an extra verse or two to my own song (e.g. “I’ve got no strings, so I drink beer. If I sleep in, I’m in the clear. How I love my drinks sudsy, there are no strings on me!”) As the father of a five-month old, I now have a different kind of fun… but the puppet strings are both many and unbreakable. Mommy and Daddy often feel like puppets – our daughter a mad-cap, unpredictable puppete...

Cohen, Prince, Bowie and now… Comparelli

Tribute: R.I.P. Peter Comparelli A fellow scribe remembers the good old days when journalists spoke truth to power, a per diem could get you drunk and a guy named Peter Comparelli backstopped the labour beat By Rod Mickleburgh It has been a terrible year. Bowie and Prince taken far too early. Leonard Cohen leaving us to mourn and light candles against the dark. Long-time friends battling serious health issues. Fake news, the decline of newspapers and the mainstream media, more necessary than ever to hold governments and politicians to account. An antiquated electoral system, an FBI “announcement coup” against Hillary Clinton and Russian hackers delivering a sniveling, bullying, thin-skinned, shallow-thinking prima-donna with the attention span of a child to the White House, while the most adult of U.S. presidents takes his dignified leave. Terrorism in Europe. Aleppo. And now, to cap off this annus horribilis came news of the passing of Peter Comparelli, as lovely a person ...

Mom is the Flash, Dad is the Slow

Daddy Diary: Part Seven Faster than an unfired bullet: A first-time father discovers his superpower has nothing to do with speed, and everything to do with slowing down to a snail's pace By Chris Lackner “This is a job for… The Slow.” That’s my superhero name at home these days — prompted by my less-than lightning flash responses to my newborn daughter’s needs. Mom may be The Flash, but dad is decidedly less so. “Faster than an unfired bullet. More powerful than your average eight-year-old. Able to leap tall stuffed animals in a single bound (on his good days). He is… The Slow.” Is Dad on diaper duty? Triple or quadruple the time required to complete the task. Is Dad sent to find some kind of baby item — cloth, blanket, toy, cream, soother etc.? Don’t wait up for him; he’ll be back before dawn. It’s not that I decided to become The Slow. No superhero chooses their destiny – their destiny is thrust upon them. With great power comes great ...

Bob Dylan don’t need Nobel, or stinking badge

Comment: On Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate Looking back on a close encounter of the Dylan kind reveals a slightly rumpled honouree who has a hard time accepting praise, let alone the Nobel Prize *Caution: This article contains a top-100 list of Bob Dylan songs. By Rod Mickleburgh In the winter of 1990, I waited with a handful of reporters and photographers in a grand salon of the Palais-Royal in Paris for Bob Dylan. More than 25 years ahead of the Nobel Prize people, the French had decided that Dylan’s lyrical prowess was worthy of the country’s highest cultural honour, Commandeur dans l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. T.S. Eliot was one of the first to receive the award in 1960. Borges followed in 1962. And now, following in the footsteps of Sean Connery (1987), it was Bob’s turn. Finally, the gilded, ceiling-high white doors opened, and there he was, ambling into the opulent room, followed by France’s flamboyant minister of culture at the time, Jack Lang. He was ...

The Lioness doesn’t sleep tonight

The Daddy Diary: Part Six A first-time father faces the surreal and sometimes lonely experience of looking in from the outside with a tender heart full of slumber-inducing song By Chris Lackner "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight." Good for him. In my "jungle" — AKA house — there isn't much sleeping going on (especially for mom). Such is the life of newbie parents. Our little lioness has a mighty roar — mightiest after the sun goes down. Our girl’s hunger — and gas-fueled bellow — is only satiated by two things: breast milk and songs (with musical numbers finishing a distant, distant second). Our baby instinctively knows how to lay in wait and then pounce on her parental prey when we are at our most vulnerable. Is dad trying to watch the ninth-inning drama of a playoff race? Yup. Cue the crying. Are mom and dad trying for the 15th time that night to stream more than three minutes in a row of one TV episode? Yup. Cue our mighty ...

What’s in a baby name? Hopes, dreams, history… guilt

The Daddy Diary: Part Four - The Name Game An expecting father navigates the dangerous waters of choosing a baby name that works in English and Portuguese -- and isn't associated with pole dancing  

Parental Mental Training Begins

The Daddy Diary: Part 3 When you feel that baby kung-fu kicking, fatherhood suddenly feels concrete and you realize that a tiny little person will see you as their Mr. Miyagi “Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important.” – Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid (1984) By Chris Lackner Our baby is going to be a karate kid or, better yet, a ninja. With the amount of kicking going on in mom’s belly these days, it’s either ninja or international soccer star – which would certainly make the baby’s Brazilian grandparents happy. (I’d like to think our child will dream big, and become the world’s first double threat: a ninja footballer). While I’ve always wanted to raise a little Zen warrior (mainly for all the money I’d save on home security… but also for the free car waxing), this third trimester kicking phase is an important one for all dads-to-be. It’s the first time fatherhood feels concrete – more than an abstract concept. It’s a period where ...