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My Labour Day

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Labor Day (I am using the American spelling for this piece,) to me is a sad time. A time of endings and hard times. Seems strange for someone like myself who has had a long involvement with the labor movement and who comes from a family of labor unionists. But, there it is: Labor Day = bittersweet memories.

A lot has to do with my upbringing in a family that dared to encourage rebellion and often displayed a decided enjoyment in tilting at windmills. Labor Day, regardless of the actual date, was the day my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary, actually, it was the day they ran off and eloped despite my grandparents’ objections to their daughter marrying “beneath her.” By the time I came along, my grandparents had had a drastic change of heart and my father was beloved by them.  The only reason I heard about the earlier misgivings of my grandparents was because my mother joked about the elopement saying, “I was married on Labor Day and I have been in labor ever since!”

My parents spent many years living in near poverty. Unfortunately, shortly after they wed, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression ensued.  I only heard about those tough years in off-handed ways. Like, “Always shop at AM&A’s if you can; they gave me a job one Christmas during the Depression.  And don’t even go into ****’s. They would not even let us put stuff on layaway.” OK, Ma.

My mother carried on a years’ long vendetta against our parish priest who made a house call to chew out my mother about standing up at the wedding of an old-time friend (in a Protestant church for heaven’s sake.) Ma slammed the door in the face of the priest and the battle lines were drawn.  “What a hypocrite,” was all she would say.  Much later, he was reassigned to another parish when the knowledge of his affair with the woman across the street from the church was revealed.  I have always suspected that Ma had something to do with that reveal. And then there was my brother’s boy scout troop leader who my mother suspected was a pedophile. Even my father thought she was barking up the wrong tree there, but she was relentless. She would just show up at the boy scout camp, myself and my friend Kathy in tow, to the point that she was asked to stay away. But she was right all along. The boy scout leader left in disgrace; my brother was spared and people no longer dismissed her antics as “Crescent Avenue’s own Lucy Ricardo in action.”

So, what has all this to do with Labor Day?  Well, I can’t help but think of her and her crusades and her protective instincts on Labor Day.  I can’t help but smile when I think of her own  contribution to the labor movement in her last days above the ground. I took it as a sign that, in death, she did not disappoint our labor union loving hearts.  The gravediggers were on strike at Holy Cross Cemetery when Ma died and, of course we did not allow her to be buried until the strike was over.  We thought that was some kind of final laugh at convention.

Happy Labor Day, Ma and Pa. And Happy Anniversary.

Written by crystalbeachstrand

September 5, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I MUST SAY THIS …

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So much for sitting quiet.  New format = new direction.

There is a specific reason why I posted the Bill Moyers interview on the front page of The Strand.  The mainstream press, for the most part, has been co-opted and ruined by people like the Murdochs. They are now being hauled on the carpet for their misdeeds, yet we know that this sort of thing has gone on in all levels of the media, whether it is a worldwide media empire or a small town newspaper.

Moyers pointed out The Guardian, a UK newspaper as as example of good journalistic practices.  It is a newspaper that operates as the result of a family trust.  It is not beholden to a conglomerate or a CEO with a political agenda. Unfortunately, it is a rare exception. The Murdoch empire includes newspapers and networks, including the very right-leaning FOX News.

So, how does this have anything to do with us here in Fort Erie?  Even the Fort Erie Times and the Niagara Falls Review are part of a large consortium, controlled ultimately by a CEO with a political agenda.  Such an agenda ultimately trickles down to the local level, leaving reporters and editors with certain parameters and lines that they cannot cross.  It can be very subtle and hardly noticeable by the public, but it is there n0netheless.  The most blatant and embarrassing example of this is the avoidance of coverage of the far-reaching scandal by FOX News and other Murdoch-owned media.  The Daily Show offered a scathing report on the the non-coverage of the issue on Murdoch-owned media.

Here are a couple of local examples of media improprieties, in my opinion. First, the hiring of Martha Lockwood by the Fort Erie Times when she was a sitting councillor. Presumably, her duties were to sell advertising for the newspaper, but it is wildly inappropriate for a newspaper to hire a local politician for any job, let alone a job that puts that pol in direct contact with potential advertisers.  Any suspicions I harbored about her possible influence on editorial policy were confirmed when she left her job at the Times shortly after her resounding defeat in the October municipal elections.  Of course, readers of The Strand know that I have often pointed out her other possible conflict of interest: the running of a booth at the public beach at Bay Beach, under the license of the snack bar operator who she championed to get the contract at the town-owned beach.  As a parting shot to the public, in a letter to the editor of The Times, Lockwood chided Ann Marie Noyes for requesting recounts in the five vote difference in the mayoral election, yet, just months later,  Lockwood requested an audit of the campaign expenses of a duly elected councillor as part of a larger effort to embarrass and deter four elected councillors who campaigned for town reform and against the Molinaro Development  for public waterfront lands.

The next is but a continuation of a disgruntled former newspaper editor’s wish to be a player in the great grand scheme of local politics. Mike Cloutier has long been a camp follower for the old guard.  He has been supported in his efforts by the mayor and other politicians from the Conservative Party. He has positioned himself to be available to write on their behalf and he has been rewarded with contracts and support from the likes of the PBA who has hired him to write two books.  He has recently received a generous grant from the government with the help of his supporters in various levels of government.  In return, he has engaged in hatchet jobs on those who oppose his benefactors.  And, in case there were any doubts about his loyalties, he recently requested audits for two candidates in last year’s municipal election.  He tried to bring up, what was in his opinion an irregularity from the 2006 campaign, as his basis for an audit of the candidate in 2010.  He lost on that.  Again, it is highly inappropriate for a member of the media to get directly involved in a political issue. And the audits are extremely political. And wrong – all of them.

So, some elements of the Murdoch Doctrine has shown up in our local press.  And some tactics for which the Murdoch Empire is under investigation for is hacking, something that has also taken place in this community by some who are opposed to others. A local restauranteur brags that he has audio and video of conversations in his building from hidden cameras.  Cyberstalking and harassment have been much in evidence of late, prompting a couple of editorials and many remarks in social media.

Some will no doubt call me out for my writings. I must remind them that I am an on-line newsblog, totally self-funded and entirely voluntary for anyone to see.  I do not pretend neutrality, nor do I have any influence or have any local politicians in my pocket.  If people agree with my opinion, they do so on their own.

And like Groucho Marx, I don’t want to join any club that would have me as a member.

Written by crystalbeachstrand

July 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hello world!

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Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Written by crystalbeachstrand

April 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

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I’m Baaack!

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Deal with it.

Written by crystalbeachstrand

April 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized