Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

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.

My trip to the Northwest was originally planned for July 2020. I bought a Mexico City to Vancouver ticket from Aeromexico in February 2020, which was before the pandemic started. I postponed it a couple of times. Then, Aeromexico told me that I had to make a specific booking by the end of April 2021, So I booked it for September, and for the duration of 40 days, in case a quarantine was required. Three months later, the news came that visitors to Canada who were fully vaccinated would no longer be required to quarantine, so I thought, "good".

A few days prior to the flight, I started making the required preparations. One of them was completing the online ArriveCAN form, and that gave me the first sign of trouble. One of the questions was, what type of vaccination did you receive? One of the entries on the drop-down was Sinovac, which was the vaccination I got. I selected it, and was then informed that Sinovac is not one of the vaccinations approved by the Canadian government.

I got the two Sinovac jabs in March and April. It's important to understand (and the Health Canada employees that I dealt with either didn't understand, or, more likely, didn't care) that I had no choice in this matter. I showed up to receive the vaccinations at a certain time and place, and had to accept whichever vaccination was being dispensed at that time and place. At that time, Mexico was also dispensing the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which do have Canadian approval, and it was the equivalent of a dice roll that I ended up with the unapproved one. There were two chances in three that I would have gotten an Canadian-approved one.

As I said, the non-approved status of Sinovac was new information, and there was no possibility of getting a different vaccination prior to my flight. Even if I had known a month earlier that Sinovac was not acceptable, I don't know if getting re-vaccinated with a different vaccine would have been a good idea.

On to the plane flight on September 11. It arrived at 9:15 PM. After waiting in line in Customs for an hour, I showed the Customs guy my passport, the official Mexican government-issued vaccination certificate, the result of the PCR test I had taken the previous day (which, of course, was negative), and the ArriveCAN registration number. He told me that I had to see one of the Health Canada employees that was wearing a red vest. She gave me the bad news: I would have to quarantine for 14 days.
The issue was, where? My idea was, I had a reservation at an inexpensive hotel in Kamloops a few days later. So, I phoned this place. (This is a good argument for the indispensability of cell phones.) First, I apologized profusely for calling him at 11 PM. Then I said that there was a change in plans, and could I quarantine there? He said that his policy was a maximum stay of five days. I handed the phone to the woman in the red vest so that they could discuss whether his place was acceptable. The result was, the woman in the red vest insisted that the 14 days had to be spent in one place. She was insisting that I say in Health Canada's facility. So, I said, how much would that cost? The answer was, nothing. (Note that if she had agreed to my Kamloops idea, Canada's taxpayers would not have been paying for my quarantine.)

Lola AlbrightI recently read Eminent Hipsters, and autobiography by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of his music.

Like any music biography, it goes into musical influences. In Fagen's case, there was a major surprise; one of his major influences was the black-and-white TV series Peter Gunn.

"Peter Gunn" aired from 1958 to 1961, and the episodes were a half hour. It was created and partially written by Blake Edwards, who later became famous for the Pink Panther films. It starred Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn, a private detective. The co-star was Lola Albright, who played Edie Hart, a singer in Mother's, a cabaret frequently visited by Gunn. Gunn and Hart had a sexual relationship, unusual for television is those days. Gunn also visited an underground club frequented by beatniks.

Albright was beautiful, and a good actress, but most of all, she was an excellent singer, and that's what takes me to the point of this article. There's music all the way through the series. There would be a band playing whenever Gunn visited Mother's, and Hart often got to do a song. (This was not unusual ca. 1960; for an example, read up on Dorothy Provine.)

All of the original music in the series was composed by Henry Mancini, and performed by the Henry Mancini Orchestra. If you're familiar with Mancini, the first tunes you would probably think of are "The Pink Panther Theme", "Moon River", and "Days of Wine and Roses". Good ones, of course, but Mancini had a jazz background with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and jazz was a good fit for the film noir atmosphere of "Peter Gunn". One especially remarkable tune that Mancini came up with was the theme music:

ABBA House is a shelter for Central American migrants located in Celaya, in the Mexican State of Guanajuato. It is one of 57 such shelters in Mexico. It has been in existence for five years, and provided food and shelter for 25,000 people during that time.

ABBA House serves both migrants in transit and long-tern residents. Migrants usually stay for three days, then move on to the next shelter. They get a roof over their head, meals, and hot showers. When they leave, they are given a two-day supply of food. At this time, most of the transients are coming from Honduras; the rest come from Guatemala and El Salvador.

Residents are refugees who have some sort of disability which requires long-term support. Many of these residents are amputees, the result of freight train accidents. One such amputee is Alan, from the Department of Cortés, Honduras. He has a wife and two daughters. He is 51 years old, and has been at ABBA House for nearly a year. He had a very serious injury due to a fall from a freight train, and his right leg was amputated below the knee. He doesn't remember any of the details of the fall; he was found by the Red Cross, and he was fortunate that they got him to a hospital in time to save his life. This injury was not healing well, and after a number of consultations, the decision was made two months ago to do a second amputation above the knee. Now it is healing very well, and he will be in rehab within the next two months. He speaks English, and is popular among the volunteers. He has a good sense of humour, loves to play cards and do jigsaw puzzles. Because he is the oldest resident, and has been there for a long time, the other residents look up to him. He regrets being unable to help support his younger daughter because of his injury.