BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of Baby Boomers from a woman's perspective


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Feminist is not a four-letter word

feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay is a current New York Times Bestseller. I was drawn to reading the book because the format appeared to resemble many aspects of my own book, BOOMERBROADcast. The book is a series of personal essays sorted into categories that reflect the author’s opinions on a variety of popular topics, such as, movies and television, books, racism, classism and of course, feminism. Call it research. I purchased the book to see what made Gay a New York Times best-selling author while I am not.

Roxane Gay is a very complicated lady. Born in desperately poor Haiti, she moved to the United States with her parents where she grew up, often living in predominately white communities. Despite being among the brightest in her class she was marginalized because she was visibly different from her classmates, with bad hair and a quirky personality. Whatever constituted her difficult early life, the result is a complex mix of intelligence, anger, conflict and drive. From playing Scrabble to achieving academic excellence, Gay is driven to prove herself the best of the best.

My copy of Bad Feminist is full of yellow highlighter marks and Post-It flags. The author proffers some insightful observations on current issues, for example:

Privilege is a relative state. “Nearly everyone, particularly in the developed world, has something someone else doesn’t, something someone else yearns for. . . .We tend to believe that accusations of privilege imply we have it easy which we resent because life is hard for nearly everyone. . . To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged.”

Citing several examples of bad behaviour by celebrities and professional athletes, she says, ““We live in a culture where athletes are revered, and overlooking terrible, criminal behavior is the price we are seemingly willing to pay for our reverence.” This behaviour should be treated as unacceptable and if necessary, criminal regardless of the offender.

Heterosexual men really do have advantages not shared by women or the LGBT community. “Heterosexuals take the privacy of their sexuality for granted. They can date, marry, and love whom they choose without needing to disclose much of anything. If they do choose to disclose, there are rarely negative consequences.” Why should anyone other than heterosexuals have to “come out”? It should be a non-issue.

Drawing parallels with my own humble book may sound egotistical. I’m neither as educated nor as smart as Roxane Gay but I agree with her opinions on many issues and disagree on many. I do not, however, bear the burden of anger and indignation she does. But she’s still only in her thirties and at sixty-seven I’ve now worked through most of my shit. When Baby Boomers were her age and at her stage in life, we were also searching for justice, fairness, reward and answers. That’s what the journey of life is all about. It eventually gets better, much better, but life will never be fair nor easy. That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep fighting for feminism and other causes that are simply right.  In my opinion, however, Bad Feminist is more about racism than feminism but any “ism” is undoubtedly something that needs attention. And I still do not know why Bad Feminist is a New York Time Bestseller and mine is not. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com

 

 

 


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No news is good news

Watching the nightly news on television has become like a bad habit, even an addiction that’s hard to break. I don’t particularly enjoy it; I end up feeling worse afterward, and there seems to be no distinguishable benefit derived from the entire effort. It’s difficult to describe exactly what I do expect but I know instinctively it’s not what we’re currently getting.

news1Every night the news opens with the latest on-the-spot police action; someone’s robbed a store using a gun; there was an accident on the highway and traffic is stopped in both directions; or an arrest has been made in last week’s robbery of a convenience store. This is followed by another on-the-spot report from City Hall, Queen’s Park or Ottawa about the latest government screwup or waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. After that bit of sunshine, we segway into a story about the newest local business fraud or corporate rip-offs we should know about, often with live video of a naïve senior citizen who was scammed.

Sometimes I think they'd be more accurate using a ouija board.

Sometimes I think they’d be more accurate using a Ouija board.

The news is interrupted every two minutes to bring us up to date on the latest weather because in case we haven’t looked out the window in the last ten minutes, we need to know what’s probably not going to happen tomorrow. Despite zillions of dollars invested in meteorological technology they are wrong a shocking amount of the time. Remember the major false alarm about the snow storm of the century that recently closed down New York for a couple of days? I think Canadians’ obsession with weather began with our agricultural ancestors who needed to know whether frost was going to decimate the crops or whether it’s going to okay to hang the washing outside in the morning. That zeal for a steady supply of weather intelligence is now fueled by nervous commuters who need to know what they might not be able to see through their livingroom windows or the windshields of their SUVs.

Following alternating bits on weather and crime we are fed the latest information about international terrorism designed by keep us on the edge of our seats and swearing to never travel again. After that, the health news brings us up to date on the latest research on genetically modified foods and the dangers of pesticides or the medications we’re taking. And in case we happen to be one of the ones who are genuinely trying to eat healthy, any hope we had is dashed when we’re presented with more facts and figures that confirm that everything we eat will cause cancer no matter what we do anyway.

The business report cheers us up by reminding us we’re going broke. The Canadian dollar is in the toilet which is good for exports but bad for the poor folks who save all year to go to Florida to escape our shitty winters (see weather above). The stock market is killing our investments and forget about safe GICs or other investment vehicles; they’re paying 0.5% interest so we don’t have a hope in hell of being able to retire—ever—which is good for mortgage rates but no one can afford the insane house prices. Fortunately the banks are making money but they’re too busy thinking up creative new ways to add punitive service charges for using our money or for mailing seniors a paper copy of their statements.

What a lovely way to teach your children and grandchildren about good sportsmanship; take them to an NHL hockey game.

What a lovely way to teach your children and grandchildren about good sportsmanship; take them to an NHL hockey game.

Then, there’s sports. It’s all about a bunch of overweight millionaires who can barely catch a flyball or interception but think they’re entitled to beat their wives and girlfriends without being penalized or even held accountable. Because they are in the revered realm of professional sports their crimes are minimized or even overlooked. And the reason these same wives and girlfriends stick by their man—they’re afraid of them. Professional hockey has fallen from being the fast, skilled sport we knew in the fifties and sixties to an MMA free-for-all overseen by blind referees who happily feed the masochistic crowd’s lust for blood. What a way to get your jollies.

Finally, the last five minutes of the news is a replay of all the horrors we have watched for the past forty minutes or so. I really do like to know what’s going on in the world and I confess I’ve frequently been frustrated by ignorant people who don’t seem to know what’s happening in current events. But it’s ultimately less stressful and depressing being simply ignorant. And the more I watch of the nightly news, the more convinced I become that that one hour per day would be better spent cleaning the fridge or pumicing my feet. And that’s why I’m going to miss Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart so much; they at least made me laugh when they delivered the news. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a laughing matter.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com


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My chance meeting with Gladys was one of life’s little gifts

She looked like Marie Barone (played by Doris Roberts), Ray Barone’s mother on Everybody Loves Raymond. Sitting next to me at the lunch counter in a fast-food restaurant the other day, she was beautifully turned out with her blonde coiffe and gold hoop earrings. She was wearing a  discreet amount of makeup with a touch of blusher and pink lipstick. Her name was Gladys and she’s a ninety-two year-old retired high school mathematics teacher.

lunch2When Gladys commented that she was too warm in her bright red wool jacket, I suggested she remove it and make herself comfortable. “Oh no” she said. “I’m wearing an old sweater underneath and that just wouldn’t be right.” Gladys then went on to explain that throughout her life and particularly when she was teaching, she realized that one should always present properly. She felt it was important for her students to perceive her as always professional and they frequently commented on her appearance, so her efforts were worth it.

I’m not sure if Gladys was lonely or simply feeling particularly chatty that day but in the hour or so that we shared during lunch, she told me her whole life story. She grew up on a farm, as did her late husband, and she attended college in Illinois. At the age of twenty-seven she went into the hospital for surgery for endometriosis only to be told when she came out of the anesthetic that she’d been given a hysterectomy. She and her husband then adopted two daughters, one of whom hasn’t spoken to her in eight years and the other she rarely sees or hears from. More stories followed including what her church group is doing, and she regaled me with enthusiastic descriptions of her last three driving tests, which she aced, and is still driving.

Gladys was articulate, energetic and informed. The conversation we shared was between two contemporaries, retired women who enjoy life every day and are thankful for our blessings. She admired the purse hanger I used to hang my purse from the edge of the lunch counter so it wouldn’t have to sit on the floor, so I gave it to her as I was leaving—my little gift to her for the gift of meeting a wonderful lady to share lunch with. Her daughters may not want to talk to her but I enjoyed every minute of our conversation. It reminded me of the one thing I remember from high school Latin class, “Illegitimus non carborundum.” Thank you, Gladys wherever you are.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com


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You can’t always judge a magazine by its cover

elleOne of my (many) dirty little secrets is that I’m a subscriber to ELLE Canada magazine. I don’t advertise this as I wouldn’t want anyone to label me as shallow, superficial and materialistic. Subscribing to a seemingly fluff magazine targeted at young, hip fashionistas would certainly lead one to think this is the case, but after reading the March 2015 issue I feel somewhat vindicated.

First of all, it’s the Canadian edition so I’m supporting Canadian retailers and contributors to the publishing side of the magazine. But it also surprises me from time to time with content that is intelligent and relevant to all age groups. For example,  the March issue’s theme is feminism and that’s definitely a subject dear to my heart. Baby Boomers cleared the way for a lot of the rights and freedoms that young women take for granted today such as subsidized maternity and paternity leave, gay/lesbian marriage, abortion rights and pay equity. The struggles are far from over but progress is being made.

Vakis Boutsalis in A Dangerous Game wrote a thought-provoking article about his conflicted feelings (yes, a guy discussing “feelings”) surrounding sports. As the father of a daughter, he wants her to appreciate the positive values inherent in sports such as teamwork and the value of hard work. However, he is equally concerned about the violence displayed by the players of professional sports and acknowledges that this is not a new phenomenon; professional sports has a history of domestic violence but with social and expanded media today we are now more aware of it. Boutsalis struggles with how to best explain this aspect of sports to his daughter.

Kudos to Kade Spade New York for featuring ninety-something Iris Apfel in their spring fashion ads.

Kudos to Kade Spade New York for featuring ninety-something Iris Apfel in their spring fashion ads.

In Feminism’s On-Line Renaissance Antonia Zerbisias takes on the issue of feminism and social media in describing the outpouring of discourse from women responding to #BEENRAPEDNEVERREPORTED. As the victims of Jian Ghomeshi have proven, women are finally speaking up and demanding action.

In The Ties That Bind Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals describes her experience with friendships lost and friendships found and the value of female friendships, something Boomer Broads live and experience every day. And, there’s the usual assortment of eye candy—fashion, the latest birth control news, as well as skin, hair and makeup must-haves that promise to make all our dreams come true. I particularly loved Kate Spade’s ad with Iris Apfel.

As a confirmed magazine junkie (I subscribe to eighteen each month) I appreciate many forms of print but the March issue of ELLE reminded me that all may not be as they appear on the cover. The issue of feminism is still important and young women shouldn’t toss it off as not relevant to them. Boomer women covered a lot of ground over the years but we still don’t have equal pay and we are still subjected to prejudices that many men will never experience or completely understand.

My annual subscription to ELLE Canada costs only twelve dollars and I’d say I get my money’s worth. And my girlfriends love my hand-me-downs. We get a lot of mileage out of my bad habits. We just wish more publications recognized that we’re a huge demographic and Boomer women are not yet ready to be put out to pasture. And when we are, it’ll be with red fingernails, blonde highlights, sexy shoes and tight jeans. Because we are women and we still care about important issues beyond fashion.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com


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Hey! I’m Canadian eh!

Ain't she sweet!

Ain’t she sweet!

In case you hadn’t heard, the 2015 winner of the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual show in New York is a four-year-old Canadian beagle named Miss P and she’s from Enderby, British Columbia. What a coup for Canadian breeders. Unfortunately, hardly anyone knows about her provenance. In all the press and television announcements in the United States, they conveniently omit the fact that the dog is Canadian. I guess they’re recovering from the shock that it wasn’t an American canine who stomped over all contenders. And like most Canadians, Miss P is sweet-natured, pretty and not at all showy like those weirdly clipped poodles or graceful Afghans.

Being chosen “best of the best” from a final short-list of about three thousand dogs of all breeds is an amazing accomplishment. We’re so darned proud of our little Miss P we could burst, but bragging is just not the Canadian way. And, sadly, she will now spend the rest of her life pregnant so the dog breeding world can make money on her blood line. And this, while shelters and kennels are overflowing with thousands/millions of dogs who need good homes. Hmmm. . .

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com


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Stop studying and start building already

Oh. My. Nerves. How much more can we take of the endless studies and debating about Toronto’s transit woes. I moved to the city in 1965 to begin work. Over the past fifty-or-so years I have watched our home town triple in size and the brilliant minds who oversee our city’s transit needs seem to be stuck in a time warp somewhere in the middle of the last century.

Imagine if Toronto had a subway system along the lines of London's.

Imagine if Toronto had a subway network along the lines of London’s.

Anyone who has ever been to Paris, London, New York or any other major city in the world has experienced and understands that the best way to get around in large urban areas is by subway/métro/tube. Apparently none of our local politicians have ever traveled east of the Don Valley and have no conception of the miracle of subway networks that do not require passengers to keep switching from above-ground to below-ground modes of transportation. Paris and London recognized the necessity and value of an efficient subway system nearly one hundred years ago and built networks under their cities that allow citizens to get anywhere, any time. So far, John Tory has been a pleasant surprise as Mayor of Toronto. Where he disappoints is forcing us to wait while they undertake another study to support his personal transit scheme.

The Scarborough LRT is an example of short-sighted band-aid solutions. It's now being dismantled. Do it right the first time.

The Scarborough LRT is an example of short-sighted band-aid solutions. It’s now being dismantled. Why don’t they do it right the first time.

In the 1980’s I worked for EllisDon who built the Scarborough LRT above-ground rail line for Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton and his brilliant city council. Thanks to their lack of vision and short-sightedness this band-aid solution is now being torn down. I worry that the new diesel-powered train from the airport to Union Station now being unveiled is another big lumpy expensive band-aid.

The Canadian private sector has the capability to assemble the brains, the money and resources needed to get our transit system moving into the twenty-first century, albeit a bit late thanks to our politicians. The people in the Greater Toronto Area should have the capability of hopping on the subway anywhere in the GTA and getting wherever they want to go at a reasonable cost without experiencing traffic congestion, weather or transfer inconveniences. Whenever we’ve traveled in London and Paris, both cities offered us the convenience of getting on the subway at the airport and traveling to within a block of our downtown hotels. No taxis. No expensive changing of trains. No waiting at the curb in bad weather. No hassle.

During visits to Paris we traveled easily everywhere we wanted to go by metro.

During visits to Paris we traveled easily everywhere we wanted to go by metro.

Tourism brings in seven billion dollars annually in tourist revenue to the GTA with sixty-four percent of travelers arriving by air not car so they need convenient public transit. Their visits to Toronto create three hundred thousand jobs. Imagine the boost to our economy if these tourists and the people who work at the jobs that service them could get around our beautiful city as easily and conveniently as they do in London or Paris. What’s good for Toronto is good for the province and indeed the country. Everyone should chip in. After all, Toronto taxpayers subsidize farmers and businesses in remote communities through our provincial and federal taxes.

If anyone at Toronto Transit Commission, City Hall and Queen’s Park is listening, pull your collective fingers out, talk to the private sector about a Canadian-owned Public/Private Partnership (P3)and let’s get this show on the road, or more accurately off the road and under it. Enough studies already. Get some real brains involved and get moving before I die. Let’s not waste even more time forcing me to run for Mayor to get the job done.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com

 


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Have you tried snorting chocolate yet?

I love chocolate, but . . .

There are limits to my love of chocolate.

If you’re looking for a new adventure, I understand there’s a device available that was designed to allow you to snort chocolate, or more accurately, cocoa powder. Who among us doesn’t experience the most incredible high when we bite into a piece of good quality chocolate? Imagine huffing it up your nose. A Belgian chocolatier by the name of Dominique Persoone originally developed a cocoa puffer thingie for a Rolling Stones’ party in 2009 and voila, a new past-time was created.

Personally, I can’t imagine cocoa dust blowing around in the northern limits of my nasal passages or worse, in my brain cavity. Experienced users recommend adding ginger, mint or other flavour enhancers but advise against any kind of chili pepper. No worry there. My preferred orifice for chocolate is definitely my mouth. There’s nothing in the world any better than the feeling of chocolate melting on your tongue. Even after you swallow it, you can explore for any remaining traces that may be hiding between your teeth or stuck to the roof of your mouth. The joy just lingers.

I prefer my chocolate to contain nuts because chewing takes longer so the flavour lasts.

I prefer my chocolate to contain nuts because chewing takes longer so the flavour lasts.

The beauty of my own appreciation of chocolate is that I don’t require good quality. I’m a chocolate slut who even loves Russell Stouffer fruit creme chocolates that can be purchased in any supermarket or drug(!) store for pennies. While I have been known for fork out as much as five dollars for one perfect, delectable artisan morsel of the Belgian variety, I’m equally thrilled chowing down on a Cadbury Caramilk. In fact, one of my favourite brands is dirt-cheap and imported from France. President’s Choice (available at Loblaws, SuperStore, Zehrs’ supermarkets) offers a 300-gram shoe-sized slab of amazing chocolate  and it only costs $3.95. I can jam the entire thing in my mouth and get an unbelievable high with no snorting involved—well, maybe a little but I do try to be quiet.

 

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