Rod Mickleburgh 39 results

Rod Mickleburgh witnessed the golden age of Canadian journalism as a reporter at several Canadian papers, including The Vancouver Sun and  The Globe and Mail, where he reported on labour — among other things.

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 ...

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 ...

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 Day the Unions died – almost

Labour History: Social Credit's lasting debit What happens when an economically strapped general public elect a right-wing proponent of 'restraint'? Human rights, employment standards and social services get steamrolled by arrogance masquerading as fiscal austerity By Rod Mickleburgh Thirty-three years ago, the newly-relected Social Credit government of Bill Bennett brought down the most dramatic, yay outlandish, budget and “restraint” package in B.C. history. What happened next is detailed here in an essay I wrote a year or so ago. On July 7, 1983, Bill Bennett and his Social Credit government, freshly elected to a third successive term in office, unleashed a revolution in British Columbia. This was a revolution from the right. Fueled by the radical conservatism of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman’s economic neo-liberalism, the Socreds took aim at all those elements in society they had never liked. With no advance notice, a total of 26 repressive ...

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest, in All Ways, Always

Tribute: Muhammad Ali No one can quantify the extent of outrage and villification that spewed down on Ali when he turned his back on everything American. Yet, with everything to lose, Ali stood up for his rights as a black man, loudly and unabashedly. By Rod Mickleburgh A tough week for us sports fans of another generation. Losing two great heroes of our youth: Muhammad Ali, and now, Gordie Howe (he never changed his name to Gordon..). This is about the champ. It’s been said many, many times, but it remains true. Never again will we see the likes of Muhammad Ali. “For all you kids out there”, it’s difficult to convey just how dominant a figure he was during those first 20 years he reigned as by far the most beloved and admired athlete in the world. Evidence of his unsurpassed skill and courage in the rink are easily found on YouTube. And most accounts written after Ali’s death relate in great detail his bold, in-your-face defiance of white America. He stuck it to ...

Typewriters, newspapers now retro cool

Column: Mickleburgh An old scribe ventures back to the future on a recent trip to Seattle where old-fashioned print media and analog typing contraptions still have a place and a meaningful, if sentimental, sense of purpose By Rod Mickleburgh Hey, kids! Montreal Expos caps and vinyl aren’t the only hip retro around. Be the first in your group to read a print newspaper. Take time out from your busy online life, relax and turn the pages. Impress your friends. You never know what unexpected treasures of information and features might lurk deep within. As the late, great David Carr (sigh) did during all his visits outside New York, I still peruse the local newspapers whenever I venture beyond Van, man. Here are some print gleanings from a recent weekend baseball venture to Seattle. You, too, can be a newspaper explorer. 1. Let’s start with a joke. You’re probably one of those who think Boise, Idaho is no laughing matter. Well, you’d be wrong. The lede of an enticing ...

Is it too late to say sorry for Komagata Maru?

News: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for racism Though many know the outline of an ugly chapter in Canadian history, the truth of the Komagata Maru is both an indictment of institutional prejudice, and a testament to the strength and pride of the passengers aboard the infamous vessel By Rod Mickleburgh At long last, a formal apology is being delivered in the House of Commons for Canada’s racist behaviour in its shameful treatment of Sikh passengers aboard the Komagata Maru who had the effrontery to seek immigration to the West Coast more than a hundred years ago. Not only were they denied entry, they were subjected to two months of exceptionally inhumane treatment by unflinching immigration officers. While many now know the basics of the ill-fated voyage, the story has many elements that are less well known. To fill in the gaps, we can look to Hugh Johnston and his definitive book, The Voyage of the Komagata Maru. Just days before the outbreak of World War ...

Feeling the Vancouver Bern

Rod Mickleburgh: Bernie Sanders in Vancouver, Washington Tilting at the windmills of politics called Super PACs, Bernie Sanders seems perfectly comfortable playing the modern equivalent of Don Quixote By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER, WASH. -- The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. Our little group, friends after sharing the miserable ordeal outside, scraped through by the skin of our chattering teeth, but the doors soon closed on thousands more. As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!” The roar got louder. “It sounds to me like ...

After a life in news, one last plea

People: Tribute to Ron Rose (1919-2015) A veteran newspaper man files a final message to readers: "Do what you can to stem the unedited and often unsourced outpourings in the flood of social media." By Rod Mickleburgh We said farewell late last month to a good man. Part of the great generation that survived the Depression, World War Two, the tinderbox of the Cold War and Liberace, Ron Rose was part of this crazy world for nearly a century, falling just four years short of the big One Zero Zero. But that’s not why so many of us gathered to pay our respects. We were there because Ron Rose, besides being the most gracious and generous of individuals, was a newspaper man. It was a gathering of the clans, a celebration of someone whose working life as a knight of the keyboard stretched back to the Depression. Ron Rose was history. When he started at the Vancouver Sun as a copy boy in 1938, he reported for work in the celebrated Sun Tower, then topped by the paper’s majestic neon ...

András Schiff conquers gridiron goliaths

Rod Mickleburgh: The Super Bowl vs. Classical Piano Recital How a 62-year-old pianist in a knee-length tunic made one lifelong sports fan forget about the Super Bowl, and feel the magic of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert By Rod Mickleburgh The treasured Leila Getz, described in the program as “Head Honcho” of the Vancouver Recital Society, welcomed us with her usual enthusiasm. “Thank you for choosing András Schiff over the Super Bowl. The magic begins.” And indeed, it did. Moments later, the stately, 62-year old master pianist, wearing a knee-length black tunic, walked out from the wings, acknowledged our applause, sat down on the cushioned bench, rested his hands on the top of the piano for 20 seconds of contemplation, and began to play. While gazillions tuned into the greatest annual event in the history of the world, aka the Super Bowl, which surpasses even the Eurovision Song Contest in global importance, I sat entranced, with hundreds of others at the packed ...