Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

Overlook book coverThis is a story of two men on road trips toward Woodstock, New York in 1986. This is not the Woodstock made famous by a music festival; that was actually near Bethel, 90 km. away. This Woodstock, including nearby towns Bearsville and Saugerties, was the sometime home of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Todd Rundgren, and Albert Grossman. Also located there is the Big Pink house, which served from 1967 to 1973 as a home and rehearsal space for The Band.

One of these two men, Klokko, is fictional. He is directionless, except that he loves music and Beatrice, his cat. He drives a 1971 Oldsmobile Delta 88. It has an old eight-track tape player (if you’re under the age of 60, Google this), and his tape collection of excellent music is a big part of his life. He especially likes the ones by The Band. He would like to have been a musician, but he never got the opportunity, or perhaps didn’t have the talent.

The other man is Richard Manuel, pianist, sometime drummer, and singer with The Band; one of the highlights of his career was “I Shall Be Released”. He had very serious drug and alcohol problems, was in several serious car accidents, and made several suicide attempts. The last one, in 1986, was successful.

Cover of George Harrison biographyThere are some stories I never get tired of hearing. One of them is the formation of the Jefferson Airplane; how they were rehearsing twelve hours a day and seven days a week, because they knew that they were creating something brand new.

The early history of The Beatles is another example. How John, Paul, and later George originally got together, their apprenticeship in Hamburg, the influence of Sir George Martin, and on and on. Philip Norman has written several books that cover this territory and much more. The best known one was Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation, originally published in 1981 and revised in 1996, but he has also written two biographies of John Lennon, one of Sir Paul McCartney, as well as Sir Elton John, Mick Jagger, Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. George Harrison: the Reluctant Beatle is his most recent work.

The prologue gives a detailed account of the “Concert for George”. If you haven’t watched this, do so. While you're at it, give “The Concert for Bangladesh” a watch, too. (More on this later.) Then, watch this rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

I was 13 years old, and in band class when the announcement came over the PA system that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Ever since then, I have paid an above-average amount of attention to the facts and theories surrounding that assassination.

I used to love listening to a good conspiracy theory, but the herd of nutbars and Russian trolls who surfaced in 2016 ruined it for me. So I’ll start off by dismissing a couple of them.

  • The New Orleans gay community, led by Clay Shaw, was part of it. Another event during my teenage-hood was the case organized by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. It was regarded at the time as a media circus, and deservedly so. So what if Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, and Lee Harvey Oswald knew each other? Garrison was trying to make something out of nothing. Unfortunately, 24 years later, film director Oliver Stone turned Garrison’s nothing-burger into another nothing-burger.

  • The CIA did it. The same CIA will tell you that two people can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.

The unfortunate reality is, the trail has gone cold. One of those dead people with a secret was Jack Ruby, a man with organized crime connections as long as your arm. I have always been skeptical of his story that he just happened to be near the Dallas police station to wire money to one of his strippers, at the time when Oswald was being transferred.

The obvious question here is, why have I written a review of a book that was published 14 years ago? The answer is, it’s the best sports book I have ever read. I am not alone in this opinion. It reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was selected as Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, Forbes, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

One of the reasons why it’s so good is, Agassi got some help from J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar. However, Moehringer’s name does not appear on the cover, because he insisted that it was Agassi’s story.

This book covers a lot of territory. We learn about how he was forced into a pro tennis career by an overbearing father. That he had only an eighth-grade education (that’s an amusing story), but later funded a charter school in Las Vegas. There’s another amusing story about how he was able to continue to use Prince racquets after his manager, without his knowledge, signed a contract with Donnay. We learn that he hated the “image is everything” Canon ad campaign. And that he referred to clay court specialists as “dirt rats”.

This book (available here) was written by a remarkable and courageous woman, Alexandra Morton of Echo Bay, British Columbia. It has 335 pages (not including notes), but it took me a long time to get through it. That’s because it contains several stories. Two of them are Morton’s personal history, and the picture she gives of life in the remote coastal communities of British Columbia. It’s something that most people who have spent most of their lives in Vancouver and Kelowna know nothing about.

Mostly, though, it’s the story of her battle against salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island. It began in 1989, and didn’t end until February, 2023.

Things started to get serious in 2001, when large numbers of wild salmon were infected sea lice. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, because of massive sea lice infestations in Scotland and Norway. Two years later, Morton and other scientists (including one from the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO]) observed massive die-offs of pink salmon. In 2009, there was a collapse in the Fraser River sockeye salmon return. As time went on, Morton and her allies observed fish that were blind, had tumours, and were missing their lower jaws. In 2013, pink salmon and chinook turned up that were yellow all the way through.

Paramount celebrated the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather” by creating an excellent mini-series about the making of the film, available on Paramount+. It is essential viewing for fans of 1970’s blockbuster films.

The central character is Albert Ruddy (portrayed by Miles Teller), a film producer who had a success with the 1960’s TV series “Hogan’s Heroes”, which was actually pretty good despite a dubious premise. Ruddy is now 93 years old, and still making films. His daughter, Alexandra Ruddy, was an associate producer of this series. Paramount had bought the rights to the Godfather book two years prior to its publication, and Ruddy was given the job of turning it into a film. He proceeded to recruit Francis Ford Coppola (Dan Fogler) to direct the film. Coppola agreed to co-write the script with Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo), author of the book. Coppola recruited Marlon Brando (Justin Chambers) to play the lead role, and Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito) to play Michael Corleone.

By Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair

The McCartney Legacy

I'll address the obvious question first; is five years of Sir Paul McCartney's life really worth 672 pages? Yes, it is. If I were given the job of cutting out some extraneous material, I wouldn't be able to cut more than five or ten pages, so, not worth the trouble.

Here's an example; you could ask, is it worth cutting down trees to publish the "Paul is dead" hoax? Yes, it was really silly, but it happened. It's history, and it has to be documented.

During the 1969-1973 time period, Paul:

  • was a heavy participant in the making of the "Let It Be" album. If you've read this far, you have probably seen the excellent "Get Back" documentary, and this book covers some of that.
  • broke up with The Beatles. This is covered in extensively detail, especially the contractual and financial implications. And I can understand why Paul got annoyed at being asked in almost every press interview about The Beatles reuniting.
  • Married Linda, settled on a farm in Scotland, became a father.
  • Put Wings together.
  • Recorded five albums. The book provides extensive details on how and where every song was recorded. Required reading for music geeks, might be boring for everyone else. Even so, it's important to know just how much time and effort is required to record music, even of the mediocre variety.
  • Did three concert tours. Wings did a "stealth" tour three years before Bob Dylan did one.
  • Filmed a TV special.
  • Got busted for marijuana possession twice.
  • Nearly got murdered in Lagos, Nigeria.