Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009


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The restaurant is down the street on the left, near where Fardella's Fruit Market stood. Stover's Restaurant is currently occupied by Insight Optical.

In the image above, Stover's Store (not restaurant) is now occupied by the Buttermilk Cafe.

Once upon a time, until the late 60s, Cobourg permitted signs to overhang the sidewalk.

Click on the ad above to enlarge and note the prices.

Think saddle shoes, Gidget, Tammy, shotgun marriages.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


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After centuries of serving the finest shade this side of the Atlantic to the residents of Cobourg, this grand old tree standing west of the Bandshell, presents a final salute to all visitors to the park. The poem below was published in my first book of poetry, Walking On the Greenhouse Roof, 1969, and refers to a tree that stood near Hull's Corners, however, there is much in the poem that lends itself to this great stump which has found a new role to play in this park.


Large, thick with the offerings of a generous soil
your branches spread like a genealogy of religions
tripping wild breezes
weaving sun and air to clothe fields.

Your identity was sure,
Your shadow was largest among cedars and pines.
You were hippie when summer fled like a skittish kitten.
Winter spears were harmless to your bare courage.

While my friends attended Sunday School
asking unanswerable questions
proofs of things higher than themselves
I played in your fortress of shade.

You were my favourite tree.
We cast fantasies in the grass;
I built castles and you occupied them with invaders dropping from your boughs.

(You were there when Indians took this land for granted)

You were detached from the sufferings and urgencies of men.
Depression never strengthened your will;
you were strong.
War never scarred you;
irritated rumps left tufts from their scratchings
and they were your honoured medals;
all animals favoured you, marking turf, leaving messages

Affluence never softened you;
the rigors of winter saw to that.

I remember how your branches held my thoughts
for the inspections of wind.
We became a religion offering silence.

I am older now
filled with questions suffering for answers.
My friends are satisfied with my exact curiosity.

I remembered when we were perfect;
I went to you
finding an on-ramp entombing your roots
tires crushing our favourite castles;
on a free way.


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This was the sign that greeted patrons of sock hops at The Pav. Pictures of the live rock and roll bands were placed under coming attractions. This was the place where young Cobourgers came to court each other to the rhythms of Rompin' Ronnie (the Hawk) Hawkins, Chubby Checker Let's Twist Again, etc.

If a live band was unavailable, then Louis Stover DJ'd with the latest music, bringing in flashing lights, strobe lights, and getting the place heated up. The beach was a moment away for a good midnight jump-in, especially for the guys to cool their disppointed amours.

Jane Moore was kind enough to have set up two posters on the Cobourg Facebook site. The posters use the logo of Sat Nite Dance, Toronto Telegram advertising A Stitch 'N' Tyme and The Ugling Ducklings. Click here to see

Monday, June 22, 2009


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From the Ben Burd Report:

It was my second occasion to enjoy an evening of poetry at The Meet, 66 King Street West in downtown Cobourg last Thursday. I recall growing up in Cobourg in the 50s and 60s and poetry was mostly a lonely occupation. Poetry was an indulgence of students, a means of wooing one’s love, or protesting society at large. The beatniks and Bob Dylan provided the ‘cool’ to write poetry.

Cobourg was fortunate to have had Foster Meharry Russell as publisher and editor of the weekly Cobourg Sentinel Star, which became the Cobourg Star, which became the Cobourg Daily Star, which became Northumberland Today, a.k.a. Toronto Sun Lite.
Mr Russell had published a volume of poetry, Braids of Beauty. He also provided space in the newspaper for poetry, something unheard of in this day and time.

For a few years, students at Cobourg’s high schools produced an annual anthology of poetry, Refraction. Imagine the delight when such a student endeavour was given front page headline treatment. Below is the published story, Refraction Lets In Some Light, with the lead poem being one written by the very young Mandy Martin:

Make my bed
in your chamber
Make my baby
in your love.

It was great in those days. Check out the names of these budding poets – many remained resident in Cobourg. It would be beneficial if the current poetry lot, predominantly made up of non-Cobourgers, had a bit of outreach for these local born and bred poets. Poetry in the 60s was so popular that the Peterborough Examiner also got into the act by publishing this article: New Collection Published.

For those of you wishing to read this local poetry in the heady days of the 60s, back issues of REFRACTION can be viewed here:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 5

That was then, this is now. I must admit that I got a rush by being at the The Meet. I came early, and as the crowd assembled, I could hear talk of ‘poetry’ and ‘poems’ and ‘verse’ and other key words of the milieu.
The evening kicked off with MC, Eric Winter, introducing Doug Stewart. It was quite apparent that Doug held a great deal of affection with the assembled wordsmiths. Doug was one of the founding members of the group, and Eric introduced him as a naturalist who lived 150 percent in the here and now.

Doug has a spirited bit of poetry with some sauciness pertaining to why he’ll never wear a kilt again. But he can also write about matters of serious import. The crowd was especially moved by his NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE’S APPEAL FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES; FACE OF A MOUNTAIN GORILLA, JULY 2008. As his poem introduces the situation:

From out of yellow enclosing frame
Of magazine front cover photography
A mountain gorilla speaks
From total black darkness;

Can any human read Gorilla eyes?
Know grief of their lost mountain homeland?
How we feel when mate or child dies?

We humans fear most where we come from
From our savage, still lurking violent temper
That brands our species still Animal
Not long enough evolved from Monkey nature
From all our stereotype’s bin
The monster nightmare Gorilla
The King Kong horror thrilla
Empire State Tower kidnapper
Of female victim of savage desire
The near animal family we ape
What Homo Sapiens most fear
The zoo’s star feature on videotape
Of fancy dress ball in Gorilla skin
Who is more brute? Each asks of the other.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
JANET READ, a former Port Hope resident, now making home in Markham delivered some very powerful poetry with rich lines. Janet has a dual talent. She is an artist, which explains her keen eye to make striking visual images in her poetry. It is wonderful to know that she applies the right of free speech with eloquence and wit.

“… nothing as soft and yielding as water.”

… even the sky is a vessel, an upturned bowl.”

On her visit to Newfoundland she found … a field so ripe with rock.” And produced an icon with a wit-twist of an iconic phrase: IN COD WE TRUST=============================
Northumberlanders should be quite familiar with this writer who spins a good yarn with charm for children’s stories, Linda Hutsell-Manning.

“Linda Hutsell-Manning was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1940. At age nine, she moved with her wanderlust parents to Ontario, eventually settling on a farm near Cobourg in 1951. She completed her elementary education in the senior room of a two room school in the nearby village of Baltimore. After graduation from Cobourg District Collegiate and hoping for a life on the stage, she studied Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson Institute in Toronto and then, completely changing gears, attended Toronto Teachers' College.”

Somehow or other, this has led her to poetry, and a reading of her work in Cobourg. Linda does not inhabit a niche very comfortably. Children’s stories is not the end of Linda’s story. She has the courage to continually expand her envelope, from prose into poetry. In this regard she can spin threads of silk with poetry, and walks into a room of adults to deliver this wonderful poem:


Right this way ladies and gentlemen
See the most amazing spectacle -
The one and only dual-aged woman...
(it has a nice ring to it like a new kind of gear shift)

she sits as always
long legs crossed
the mandatory spike heels
lace-edged teddy
tightly pressing two hard nipples
cleavage holding secrets
somewhere in the region
of her neck she wizens
shrivels down to hollow eyes
and mud flat creases
long grey hair
pulled carelessly
into a bun

the crowds are all the same
young men who come to
stare and pock the air
with verbal raunch
dissective caustic laughter

makeup she hears
one man say
her semblance is impervious
caught in this chronological
cage a contradiction to
delight and tease the crowd
the question is -
should she drape her body
in the flowered silk of age
and give matronly advice
or put a bag on her head
and fuck them all

Hon. Mention in the Cross Canada Quarterly Writers Comp, 1988

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Doggie Do Dump In Victoria Park

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Nothumberland Today printed the below in their Letters-to-the-Editor, June 26 edition. The words coloured red were deleted by the editor.

I went to see ‘Sheltering Form’, the sculpture made by local resident, Frances Gage, that now sits in Victoria Park. Unfortunately I have to do a Simon Cowell on this work. (Simon Cowell is the blunt judge on American Idol)

As I walked towards the sculpture, I could not rid myself that it appeared to be the shape and colour of a dump of doggie do. It was low to the ground, just like... well, you get the picture. Regrettably, the cement platform failed to dispel this unpleasant image; it highlighted it.
It is an unfortunate outcome for the Abuse Awareness Project who asserted before Cobourg’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces, “we want the display to remind us of the comfort, caring and protection that we, as individuals and as communities are called upon to extend to victims and survivors alike."
Ms Gage said the sculpture, “…speaks for itself. It has its own rhythm. I think about clouds and snowdrifts. This is for the birds, they will have a lovely time.”


As I stood there, I notice that I was looking DOWN at it, the position we assume when looking down on a dead body.
There was nothing that suggested “comfort, caring and protection.” The position of the sculpture so low on the ground was more suggestive of vulnerability and victimhood.

It is low enough for passing canines to relieve themselves on it or children to park their posteriors in the bowl of it. How utterly undignified. Someone on the Committee on Art in Public Spaces should have had a gram of competence to see this coming. At the very least, this mediocre sculpture should have been placed on a plinth, at a level higher than a urinal. Who is going to be liable if some unheeding running child trips over it and smashes their head on it? Who is going to be liable when it is covered with snow and some jogger trips and gouges themselves on it?

I suspect the motivation of this so-called art was so noble that it blinded the Committee on Art in Public Spaces. Did none have the aesthetic spine to inform an elderly woman artist that her devoted labours resulted in a piece of mediocrity that missed the mark and is an undignified pile of…

Simon Cowell has enough self-respect, and respect for the public, to tell a wannabe performer that the song was sung out of tune.
Frances Gage’s work is out of tune in several respects and shame on the Committee on Art in Public Spaces for permitting this monstrosity to be dumped in our public space.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


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FREE SPEECH ain't free. It remains as expensive as error. The price? Eternal Vigilence. But it's a bargain compared to its absence. Below is a facsimile of the card handed out to citizens of FREE SPEECH everywhere. Colleague blogger Ben Burd was out on the street trolling children as seen here.

The K9 community has never been known to exercise consorshit. Regardless of Bow Wow, Woofie Woofie, Yap Yap, etc, FREE SPEECH means diversity. FREE SPEECH is important even on the dog days of summer.

Zarqaa, Nanami, Selena and Nisaa Shuvani of the Moksha Belly Dance collective display the gradeur of body language, moving as beautifully as a tongue reciting poetry. They can be found at the Upper Loft, over the Harden & Huyse Chocolatier, 201 Division Street, Cobourg. In this pose the Babes of Belly hold FREE SPEECH aloft on the Essence of Estrogen. They remind me this line from one of my poems, published in Walking In The Greenhouse Roof:

Your incence-ual body
curls like smoke
around my body

Michael Judd, Damon Whitney, Tony, David Glover, and Deutchland visitor, Thorsten Deuter, gather to indulge in fair trade caffeind and display that FREE SPEECH is plentiful on the patio of The Human Bean.

German traveller and photographer, Thorsten Deuter, stopped by in Cobourg on a two week vacation displays the international appeal of FREE SPEECH.

Without FREE SPEECH, everything becomes stale. FREE SPEECH is always on the move, and so are Tristan (Lee) Cobert & Kim Oopsah Daizie enticing passersby with food as fresh as a new idea. Watch for their grand opening to serve a dining experience for great mouth openings.

William Hayes (who always has a mouthful of FREE SPEECH including especially the FREE SPEECH of others) and fine friend, Phil Mabey, indulge in industrial-strength heavy java and glutton themselves on FREE SPEECH. The Dutch Oven has been well known for decades as a hotbed of FREE SPEECHERS - left, right, centre and far out.

DynaMike and The Dan Show, put FREE SPEECH in their mouths where it belongs and demonstrate how they slice and dice all manifestations of repression with relaxed aplomb.

Rob Randall has a lot of 'em

Saturday, June 13, 2009


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Late last week, I was strolling through Victoria Park one afternoon, when I heard a small group of children screaming for their lives. I was lucky enough to have my snapshooter ready to document this horrifying scream scene.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


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It's only 20 days until Canada Day. I hope that those who are responsible for this particular flag(?) will be replacing it before the town is inundated for the Canada Day weekend. It is interesting that it was ever permitted to come to this sorry state. I trust kawartha CREDIT UNION will see to it that their well-earned name will no longer be sullied with this trag.

On Labour Day in Toronto, I would walk the two blocks from my home to Queen Street West to watch the parade. Much to my dismay, many of the AFL-CIO and other international orgs that marched for free entry to the CNE, displayed the USAmerican flag front and centre. It wasn't deliberate -- it was negligent.

I have my doubts that USAmerican Labour Day parades reciprocate by carrying the Maple Leaf alongside their Stars & Stripe, but if they do, I feel certain that their national pride would not permit the Maple Leaf being carried front and centre while their own flag is marginalized.

There are always these fear-mongers ready to fling the epithet that patriotism is a refuge for scoundrals. So let them. Sometimes it is also display of community, an icon that identifies us as a people, as simple as that. Nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


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Many many years ago, I was smitten by a beautiful young woman; Kathryn McGlynn. One night when the moon was full of itself, bloated with shine, and the poet was full of himself, bloated with romantic inspiration, an sugarless non-fat organic twig became a quill pen for the poet to script a message in a meter-high font along the entire shoreline of Victoria Beach. “Wally and Kathryn, as simple as that, for what is more perfect than that which is truly simple.” The sentence began near the playground and … by the Breaker’s Motel !V! O T E L. !V! O ! E L. !V! O ! E ! !!!!!i!i!i!iiiiii~~~~

This memory strolled along the beach last fall when a wave of eurekas splashed my ankles. The waves were gentle, tantalizing. They convinced me to collaborate with them on a concept that toys with the dialogue between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’.

I scripted words/phrases into the sand where waves lick. I wanted to photo-document the before and after images of the waves editing the script. I only had a couple hours to learn the language of waves, particularly with a Lake Ontario accent. It’s one thing to eureka; it’s another to execute it.

Words would go into the sand and just as I lifted up my camera, it was wave-edited. Words would go into the sand and … wave-edited. There was a rhythm to wave-tongue that was necessary to learn in order to execute my eureka. It’s not clockwork. It’s T & E. [Trial & Error]

So my baggy jeans have their cuffs rolled up and I’m standing in the water taking pictures from a tripod, which made the rhythm of wave-speak a bit more complicated -- it added a bit of time [2 sec] to the set-up & record. It is quite apparent that I am unskilled with photography. My skill extends to the taking of snapshots 101. I have recently begun to learn a bit of Photoshop, I think its course 102.

[I have been fortunate to have had Mr Doug Curran as FOTOTEK for the Peoples Republic of Poetry from its inception to currently. Several different people photographed the activities of the Peoples Republic of Poetry ever since Loyalist College of Applied Arts & Technology hosted TECHNOROTICA, a 1972 poly-media poetry performance billed as the ‘first safe landing of the Peoples Republic of Poetry’].

Poetry circles and triangles of the day were resistant to the concept of the Peoples Republic of Poetry, so I found myself hanging out with conceptual artists rather than poets, but poets eventually evolved. WAVE EDITING is manifested on this blog as conceptual poetry. Nothing heavy, just a bit of creative whimsy.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is whether you get it or not. But I hope you get it.

Scroll below on the beach…

And the soul wears out the breast
And the heart must pause to breathe
And love itself have rest.

Is the shoreline a sure thing?