Saturday, June 25, 2005

The disappeared

Often, it's what's going on behind the camera. In Western Nepal, the army has made dozens of people disappear. Here a woman was telling me about her missing husband, taken by the security forces and simply made to vanish. His children sat on a mud hut verandah, his neighbours watched me interview his wife. I took a picture of something in his yard. He's still missing.

Daze in the haze

All things must pass. Of course this is the case. It's something we all need to say over and over again. I ponder this in empty moments and know that even the best is fleeting, impermanent. So the worst must be too. Small comfort to those in dire straits for whatever reason but true nonetheless.
It's a post apocalyptic sky over Canada's largest city. A smog-tinged, climate changing haze of poison and cloud. Tempting, it is, to consider this our work, payback for SUVs and cheap air travel. But i wonder. The notion of fractals comes to mind. The pattern of the smallest is the key to under the largest picture. In river systems or the ever-bifurcating veins on a leaf. The 1 book "Ubiquity" has been inspirational in this type of thinking. Writer Mark Buchanan is looking at how predictable the catatrophic collapse of complext systems can be, but he ventures beyond physics into philosophy and what Buddhists might regard as contemplative science, the power of the human mind. anyway, that sky is provocative.
Live 8 is coming up. Africa needs much. It may not need rock musicians scolding governments and urging more aid and fairer trade. But then again, maybe it does. I wonder why we all just can't have an iota more of compassion and intelligence about these things. Why everything has to be stupid. Difficult to not to believe in the conspiracy of the illuminati at times like this. Oh please.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


A ludicrous time was had by all. Never was so much written and broadcast about a matter of so little consequence. Or rather, the trial of Michael Jackson was of great consequence to he and his fans, not a large group. And to the various other people involved in the defence and prosecution cases. Oh yes, then there was the media. We made it of great consequence because it filled time in our newspapers, and on the airwaves. In the end, Jackson's acquital was a clean ending to a dirty affair that we should really not have taken so seriously.

Ah, but what should intrude late Tuesday night as relieved blatherers poured colourful liquids down their throats at the excellent Chef Rick's restaurant in suburban Santa Maria. A tsunami warning, that's what. Debate raged over whether or not we should shift our expense account backsides from eatery to uplink and so inform a waiting world that California could be the next Aceh. Yes, said one, the first tsunami warning since the Boxing Day tragedy in Asia is worth our time. No, chorused many others, unwilling to abandon what we thought was hard-earned wine. In the end, it was decided that only wet feet would dislodge us from the groaning board. That night, the space between the toes of hacks' remained dry and decidedly not brackish.

I admit to regretting early rants about how moved I'd been by human suffering in South and South East Asia and wondering if some gods somewhere hadn't heeded by empty plea. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, June 13, 2005

watching closely

Originally uploaded by Daniel Lak.

Not guilty ten times over

Well now. I have to admit it caught us by surprise. Not that we had judged Michael Jackson’s guilt or innocence, not we of the media. Heaven forbid. But his absolute exoneration by a jury of what appear to be serious, substantial people did sneak up on his. I thought that the charges were so serious and the allegations of misbehavior with children so persistent over time, that even a jury legally bound only to consider admissible evidence would find him guilty on at least some counts. That, I hasten to add, was not because of the evidence or the quality of the prosecution case, but because of the intense media coverage of Jackson's life and his trial. As it turns out, the jurors were more mature and thoughtful than we thought. And a good thing too. As one lawyer said early on in the deliberations, he may be guilty of something but this prosecution hasn’t proved it.
A shame really, I was coming to like California’s Central Coast with all the virtues I mentioned in earlier entry. This has been far from my favorite news story in a long career, but the backdrop to inconsequence and journalistic disdain has been pleasant living in delightful surroundings.
So farewell then Michael Jackson. I hope you take what’s happened to you as a cautionary tale, and that at very least, you stop sleeping with children. You’ve earned me a lot of money, and made your lawyer, Thomas Meseareau, an even wealthier man.
I have no intention of ever buying one of your records, and I doubt my children will ever do so. They have better taste than that.
Adieu California. Please have me back….but for a better reason.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

First one

Right well, here we are. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this but it will probably be an exercise that justifies itself before long. At the moment, I await the pleasure of a jury who are pondering the fate of one Michael Jackson. In my 24 years as a journalist and reporter, I have never worked a story of such inconsequence. But there you go. Life meet art, art, life, now you two get to know each real well. You're in California now.
I am grateful to be here. The light is splendid, Levantine perhaps or some other geographical simile that I can't summon up right now. It cascades on a wonderful hillscape and illuminates the California experience perfectly. I enjoy the sights and sounds and the company of my colleagues. We just found a fascinating remaindered book store and I've purchased novels by Don DiLillo, Ron Hansen and Jim Crace. Last week, I bought books on poker, knot-tying and yoga. And there is a fantasic gym and spa here where I work off that wine and the fabulous dinners we've been having.
As for Michael Jackson, who cares? More as the case grinds on and my yoga practise improves.