Rod Mickleburgh 41 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.

Adios, Buena Vista Social Club

The venerated Cuban act made famous by Ry Cooder's chart-topping recording are on their final tour, but even as octogenarians, the surviving legends send chills through the nervous system By Rod Mickleburgh It was a magical night, mixed with a heavy dose of poignancy, as the vaunted Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club made its final appearance in Vancouver. There will be no more tours. Many of the aging Cuban music stars we got to know and love from Ry Cooder’s venture to Havana in the 1990’s are no longer with us. Only five Buena Vista originals are left, and one of them, the incomparable diva Omara Portuondo, will soon be 85. She could barely walk onto the stage at the Chan Centre. As soon as the music started up, however, her fountain of youth kicked in, transfixing us still with the haunting power of her voice and an aching ability to caress the lyrics. Spanish really is the loving tongue. For most of her short set, we were on our feet, showering her with the adulation ...

Yogi Berra: More than Mr. Malaprop

The late legend was a perennial MVP and one of few good reasons to root for the New York Yankees Sure, Mantle might hit a homer, but he might just as easily strike out. Berra, notorious for swinging at balls so far out of the strike zone they might have been in Poughkeepsie, almost never fanned – just 414 times in 19 seasons, writes Rod Mickleburgh By Rod Mickleburgh A few words on the late, great Lawrence Peter Berra, known to one and all, except Yankee manager Casey Stengel, as  Yogi. The Old Perfessor always referred to him as “my man” or “Mr. Berra.” It was his show of respect for the team’s catcher and long-time clean-up hitter. While others might mock and deride Berra’s squat stature, homely mug and lack of verbal sophistication, wise Casey knew just how key Berra was to the success of the Yankees in those long-ago years when they seemed to win the World Series every year. From behind the plate, he guided the team’s often far from brilliant pitching staff ...

Escape the Labour Day pains with a movie

The trials and tribulations of organized labour powered more than one Hollywood epic before the idolatry of corporatism took hold in the wake of Wall Street, but even in the age of a Donald Trump presidential bid and Wal-Mart wages, the union cause still looks heroic though a high-end lens By Rod Mickleburgh My mother hated Labour Day. For her, a high school English teacher, it was not only a day to pay tribute to workers and unions, but a signal that the lazy, hazy days of summer were over, and it was time to go back to work. Every year, the prospect of facing classroom after classroom of demanding new students caused a thick knot of apprehension in her stomach. And my mother was an excellent teacher. Long after she retired, she continued to feel those same old familiar twinges of Labour Day dread.   Last year. B.C. teachers were on the picket line. Classrooms sat empty. This year, one hopes some of them reflect back on the original purpose of Labour Day, a ...

Orbiting ball lore with the Spaceman

Southpaw pitcher Bill Lee climbs back on a mound of memories created during the Montreal Expos' brief run at greatness from 1979 to 1981, when the storied team fell just one inning short of a trip to the World Series By Rod Mickleburgh Suddenly, baseball is fun again, at least if you’re a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. Although the Montreal Expos remain closest to my heart, I still root for the Jays. Those World Series years of 1992-93 were wonderful. (Devon White!) Of course, it’s been mighty lean pickings, since then. Now, finally, as they tussle with the hated Yankees for first place, Canada is back on the Jays’ bandwagon.   With this renewed whiff of baseball in the air, I offer a special Mickle treat for Canadian ball fans, especially those who remember the Expos from 1979, when they first drove for the pennant, and 1981, when they fell an inning short of the World Series, done in by Rick Monday’s cruel home run off Steve Rogers, a starting pitcher ...

It’s never too late to remember the fallen

REMEMBRANCE DAY SPECIAL Seventy years ago, fighting men and women returned home from the battlefields and POW camps in the Pacific to a less-than-warm welcome, a sad testament to the forgotten sacrifices of veterans that continues to this day   By Rod Mickleburgh Amid all the wonderful crazy sports stuff going on, there was a very sombre anniversary. Seventy years ago this past weekend, the last, bloody gasp of World War Two came to end, with the surrender of Japan, after years of unimaginable killing. Canada was involved in the war at the very outset, when this country dispatched about 2,000 raw recruits in a hopeless move to buttress British forces in Hong Kong shortly before Pearl Harbour. A month later, the Japanese invaded. After a relatively-brief, murderous skirmish that lasted perhaps a week, Hong Kong fell to the Japanese. More than 550 Canadians were killed in the fighting or died later as starved, over-worked prisoners of war, their bodies reduced to little ...

Rod Mickleburgh is Still mourning

Tribute: Larry Still, Journalist Larry Still, the late Vancouver Sun courts reporter and the author behind the Limits of Sanity possessed old-school skills, a sharp wit and reliable shorthand that allowed him to write long about the law By Rod Mickleburgh We’ve lost another of those legendary reporters from what, in retrospect, was a golden age of journalism at the Vancouver Sun. You know, the days when newspapers told you everything you needed to know about your community, your country and the world at large, and more. For 30 years at the Sun, Larry Still was perhaps the best court reporter in the land, undoubtedly the best in B.C. by a country mile. His immaculately-worded coverage of Vancouver’s many long, gripping, often grisly, trials in the last three decades of the twentieth century stand as a tribute to the craft – clear, concise, comprehensive and oh, so readable. As dramatic testimony and give-and-take from the city’s best lawyers played out in the courtro...

Extra! Extra! There are still a few stories in the naked city

Newspapers may be fading to black, but there's still gold in those grey pages, you just have to pan with patience By Rod Mickleburgh As regular readers know by now, I remain a big fan of newspapers, despite their ever-diminishing state. Why, just this week, I found all sorts of goodies distributed among their varied pages. The treasures are still there. You just have to look a bit harder and be a bit more patient these days. So I thought I would share a few.     1. I hadn’t quite realized before that the state most affected by climate change is not media-saturated, rain-starved California, but, of course, Alaska. So far, this summer, wildfires have burned through more than 20,000 square kilometres of Alaskan forestry, a swath larger than all of Connecticut. Other bad stuff, too. An excellent story from Saturday’s Vancouver Sun, written by the Washington Post’s environment reporter, Chris Mooney. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2...

Rod Mickleburgh gets folked up

The annual running of the Birkenstock 500 may get tougher, and the bass may get louder, but the Vancouver Folk Music Festival remains an alternate universe where peace, love and political correctness rule -- in a non-fascist way By Rod Mickleburgh For the first time in many years, I was without my constant companion at this year’s Vancouver Folk Festival. And my cousin’s young ‘un had the nerve to get hitched on Friday, the Folk Fest’s opening day, so I missed the fabulous Pokey Lafarge, when he still had a voice. Still, I had a blast. Artistic director Linda Tanaka managed once again to assemble a vintage brew of the known, the barely known and the unknown into an eclectic, heady mix of outstanding music. There were fewer ultra-headliners than unusual this year, and yet the festival was terrific. All these people I’d never heard of. How dare they be both young and great…? Not everything was perfect. The legendary Birkenstock 500 dash to earn a good tarp ...

Remembrance Day Special: Paying homage to the ‘Moon’

Rod Mickleburgh traces personal roots to exhume the history of more than 1,500 Canadians who defied their own government to fight for freedom, and the losing side of the Spanish Civil War By Rod Mickleburgh I have more than a few books about the tragic Spanish Civil War. Yet I can barely bring myself to read them. Well, except for Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell’s bittersweet, affecting memoir detailing both the heroic commitment of those who fought for a republican Spain and the bloody witch hunt by hard-line Stalinists against those fighting with the anarchists. I just find it all so depressing. In addition to the millions of Spaniards caught up in the ferocious struggle, thousands of young idealists from all over the world headed off to Spain, fired by a zeal to fight fascism and support a democratically-elected government that sought to make progressive change. The issues could not have been more black and white. The conflict has been rightly labelled ‘the last ...

Rod Mickleburgh toasts Canada Day with a sonic brewski, eh?

Crank up the Clairtone and celebrate Canada's birthday with a selection of songs curated by a discerning music lover indulging his many shades of plaid By Rod Mickleburgh Well, hello there, Canada. Another birthday, eh? Dominion Day is my favourite holiday of the year, a time for us all to set aside those petty differences over just about everything the you-know-who gang does in Ottawa, and celebrate being Canadian. My Canada includes a Prime Minister who loves hockey and gets excited about finding Franklin’s ships up north. It doesn’t include an ugly monument to “victims of communism” beside the Supreme Court of Canada, nor a massive Mother Canada statue scarring Cape Breton’s beautiful Highlands National Park, nor…(fill in 50 blanks here)….but never mind. Happy Dominion Day! What’s that? It’s now called Canada Day, you say? Pity! I usually celebrate Canada Day with a list of good old songs that best exemplify the spirit, history, beauty and character of this ...